Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015-Lots of people, holding down the fort, visiting John Deere

Dear Family and Friends,

            How are you all? It is hard to believe we now have been on our mission for almost 16 months! How time has flown by! I am sure it is because we are so busy with our many duties here in the Nauvoo, Illinois mission. I try to sit down and write a letter every 2 weeks, but get so distracted by life, that I can’t seem to finish. I apologize again, because  it has been 3 weeks since last writing.

            The weather here has been crazy like the rest of the United States! We have had rain almost every day; sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. It is always accompanied by lightning and thunder storms too! It hasn’t even gotten hot yet, but is so wet, that the farmers are concerned about too much rain for their crops. What an opposite problem to the west, where they are experiencing a drought. Texas is also getting overloaded with rain! We have had to move our outdoor program “Sunset” inside to the West Theatre many times, and since it only holds 244, we have to turn over a hundred guests away. But oh how green everything is from the moisture! All trees, bushes, plants and flowers grow so much faster out here.

            We are now averaging about 1,000 persons a day in the Visitor's Center, and that will triple starting July with the 2 Pageants coming. The Core Casts arrived this past week to start rehearsing (they have all the lead parts).  We are getting so excited! Tomorrow we all help set 3,000 chairs up on the newly laid sod in front of the big outdoor Pageant stage. The bagpipers arrived last night, and started to practice. This becomes a totally different mission during Pageant time with all the people in town, and the hundreds of cast members that come to perform in both the Nauvoo and British Pageants.

Martyrdom Commemoration
            Tomorrow is June 27, and time for the commemoration of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith down at Carthage. We aren’t able to attend, because we need to stay and keep the Visitor's Center open. Since we went last year, we are allowing the “new” missionaries to go. I’m kind of sad to miss it, but realize the importance of being here in town, and “holding the fort down." There are usually hundreds of people that come to honor these two fallen prophets. They setup chairs all over the grass in front of the Carthage Visitor's Center. It was a wonderful spiritual event last year.

Surprise Visitors & Connections
            We had a surprise visit from a good friend from Brea this past week: Buddy Reed, who was in Kansas City on business and had an extra day so drove up to visit. He is in our home ward, and Elder Schultz was their family’s home teacher. What fun we had taking him around to the sites, and going to Carthage Jail together. His highlight was finding much information on his ancestors who lived here; he is descendant of Ezra T. Benson, great grandfather of Ezra Taft Benson. We took him to Land and Records where he was able to put all of it on a disc to take home. We also made a connection with the grandmother of one of our male YPMs named Elder Hendrickson. His grandmother is Sister Simpson (can’t remember her first name) wife of Woody Simpson, from the San Marino, CA ward where I grew up. She came with her daughter Marilyn’s family to see them. They live in Thousand Oaks, and the dad works with Myles Steimle, our son-in-law, in some kind of backyard construction. What a small world when you get to talking! I love it that we meet so many wonderful new people here and rekindle many old relationships with past friends too!

The Ballroom Dance Company from BYU has been here the past two weeks, and what a wonderful, beautiful show they have put on every night, immediately following our Sunset Show. They are so professional, and their costumes are modest, but very beautiful! Their precision in all of the dances was amazing! Again, Harry introduced their show each night, and we have enjoyed getting to know all of them. I was even able to give them narration of wagon rides around Old Nauvoo.

Good News
            We had some fun and exciting news in our mission this past week. We work with Sister Sharon Watkins, a single senior sister here who is head of the Public Affairs Committee. She is also from Orange County, Laguna Hills area, and we served in the Newport Beach Temple, but on separate shifts. We have become such good friends, since we have so much in common (only a handful of us from California) and both grew up in the Pasadena/Glendale area, only one year apart. We have shared many activities and meetings together. Anyway, remember last letter when I told you about a man named Elder Nickell, who services and fixes all the computers in the mission? He is a widower, and also helps us a lot with Public Affairs. They have decided to get married! We are so happy for both of them. They have been super secretive and following mission rules, and their relationship has blossomed from serving together in the PA Department. He lives here in Nauvoo, so they are getting married in September after she is released from her mission. She will move here to live permanently! After telling the Mission President, and her companion, they shared the news with us! We are so excited, and now it is out in the open, and everyone here is so happy for them!

Touring Nearby Places
         We have been able to visit many new and wonderful places around Iowa and Illinois, such as Lincoln’s home and museum, Bishop Hill, Illinois, an old Swedish town, Bonaparte- an Amish community, and more. 

John Deere Factory
            Today was one of the highlights of our mission. But today on our P-Day, we went with another couple to see The John Deere Factory up in Moline, Illinois  about 2 hours north of us. Oh my goodness! It was one of the most educational and fascinating experiences I have ever had! I wish all of you could come and see it! This happened to be the warehouse of building their huge Combines! I couldn’t believe how big and intricately built they are. They are as tall as a 2-story building, and they are what the farmers use to harvest their grain crops, such as corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, and more.

They took about 10 of us on trams around huge factories, showing us all the steps from laser cutting the sheets of metal, to the welding and painting of all parts (green of course) which are dipped in huge tanks, to the assembling of the parts, engines, and giant tires. It takes about 2 weeks to complete one combine, and they sell for $650,000 each! There were about 50 on the assembly line today, and they don’t build one until they have orders and paid for. They had 2,200 employees at this one location. There are more JD factories all around the city that make tractors, lawnmowers, and other farming machinery, but this is the biggest! They said one wheat farmer in Russia bought 12 of them last year! Yikes! How did he afford them, and to ship them over?

            We continue to love and serve the Lord every day in the Visitor's Center. We meet so many people from all walks of life. And they come to Nauvoo to either learn church history and doctrine, or strengthen their own testimonies, and those of their children. We try to help them have those special “spiritual experiences”, by providing fun and  wholesome activities, films, and tours of the historic sites, which all have a “gospel message” given by our missionaries.

 “Our (missionary) purpose is to bring others unto Christ, by helping them to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and His atonement, through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

 We recite this purpose in all our training, district and zone meetings. I feel we have been able to do that, since being on this mission. We love the Savior, and are so grateful for the blessings He pours out on us and our family every day! What an honor and privilege it is to represent Him; and such a small sacrifice to give 21 months to show our love and gratitude to Him.

             We hope you might consider and plan on serving a mission some time in your life. It has been the most awesome experience for us. Thank you so much for all of your love and support!
Love Elder and Sister Schultz
(Mom and Dad to some of you)


Monday, June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015-VIP Tour, more visitors, our show

Dear Family and Friends,

            How are you all? We have been so busy, I didn’t realize it has been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote. On May 23, Memorial Day weekend, all of the shows opened, so we are in full swing of our summer schedule again! 

            Here are some pictures of the beautiful pictures from Carthage.

            The Visitor's Center is now open at 7:30 a.m. and stays open until 9:00 pm. Our sites also open an hour earlier at 9:00 am, and close an hour later at 6:00 pm. We are spending long hours in our various assignments, and we are so happy to be busy in the Lord’s service. 

Elder Schultz teaching Church of Christ visitors yesterday. They had lots of questions about temple, why called elder and who has highest authority? He answered questions for a half hour!

            I am now an official wagon narrator through the Old Nauvoo Historic sites. I go on the wagon rides once a week and narrate for the whole day. Each wagon takes about one hour, and carries 25 persons. We have a script to follow, so it is not difficult to give. The weather is still very cool and pleasant. We are also performing twice a week in the "Sunset" show on the outdoor stage. On one day, Harry and I sing our duet and he tells his jokes as part of the “specialty numbers." Then on other night, I sing a duet with Sister Swindler called "Walkin in the Sunshine." It is great fun to perform on stage again, and entertain people. It has been about 44 years since we performed with the Young Ambassadors. Everyone comments after the shows that their favorite number is Elder Schultz’s routine. And I agree! He has a natural talent for humor and telling the jokes.

            Our VIP Tour with the mayor and city officials from Burlington turned out to be a great success! But I woke up that morning and had the stomach flu, so Elder Schultz had to make it happen, with other members of our committee. It started with a continental breakfast out in the Women’s Garden, then they watched our film in the Visitor's Center and took a wagon ride down into the historic sites. We gave them fudge from the Fudge Factory as a parting gift. They all seemed to enjoy it so much. 

I have been thinking recently about the great missionaries that we serve with here, and I wanted to share some of them with you. We have about 300 missionaries here now, including the temple missionaries, young single sisters, and 40 Young Performing Missionaries. We could not keep this mission running without the help of all of these people, especially our FM (Facilities Management) people. The FM team are also a really different breed of people that we don’t usually relate to, but we are so thankful they are here. We have electricians, plumbers, computer tech people, vehicle mechanics, horticulturists, and gardeners, caretakers of artifacts and antiques, housing people who prepare all of the houses for us to live in, and so much more! And the majority are volunteer unpaid missionaries. We also have over 20 men who are Teamsters and take care of the 20 horses and 4 oxen that we have for the wagon and carriage rides. And we have a full-time veterinarian here and our own full time doctor. 

But specifically I want to mention those people that silently do their responsibilities without much recognition. Elder and Sister Cluff’s job is to water all the pots and plants all over Nauvoo with a big water truck and giant hose. They also make sure there are no weeds coming up through the streets and parking lots. Elder Knapp loves to ride on his John Deere lawnmower and mows all the acres of lawns all around the sites. Elder Nickell goes around to all of the offices and makes sure the computers and phone systems are working in order. Sister Stroud and Elder Toomer sit in a small office cubicle every day, and spend their whole mission making new weekly schedules so that we get a variety of places to serve. The Guest Services sisters take all phone calls and reservations for tickets, especially scheduling all of the large groups who will be coming this summer. We have over 40 of them, totaling about 5,300 persons, in addition to all of the other visitors.

We feel so honored and privileged to serve with these faithful missionaries, and others too numerous to mention.We have learned so much from them, and have grown to love them all, as if we have known them for many years. It is hard to believe we have been on our mission now for 15 months! Our MTC group have even received their release papers for September 10, which will be 18 months. However we will be staying until December 21.
We all showed up to serve in the Visitor's Center wearing the same colors! It happens a lot without planning it! 
This is me Sisters Johnson, Robison and Larson

The Young Ambassadors and director Randy Boothe, our good friend, are here performing for 2 weeks. It has been great to reminisce about those days at BYU, and seeing their wonderful show. He has put a live band back into the show, similar to Harry’s band in the 1970’s, instead of recorded music. He told Harry that he always loved his live bands. Next week we have the Ballroom Dance Company coming to perform for 2 weeks too. Harry introduces the show each night.

My cousin Diana Fife Rice

I also had a Whiting cousin visit last week; Diana Fife Rice with her husband, and daughter’s family. It was a surprise to see them. Then today we had Libbi Pettit Jeppesen’s in-laws from Rexburg, whose grand daughter is getting married in the Nauvoo Temple tomorrow. She was a singer in Showtime Company. I better close now, since it is so late. We love this mission and representing the Lord’s true church.

Love Elder and Sister Schultz