Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 18, 2015-Independence Day and Elder Holland

Dear Family and Friends,

            I am so sorry for not writing sooner. Time is flying by so fast, I guess because we are so busy with the summer visitors and the pageants. I think about you all the time, and of things I want to share with you, but just can’t find the time to sit down and write it.

            First of all, Wow! I forgot how crowded it got once the pageants started! We are experiencing crowds of people in the Visitor's Center, and averaging about 1,800-2,000 per day! The past two weekends were the busiest because we have had over 15 Stake Youth Conferences come here; including Houston & Dallas, Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, South Carolina, and even Cypress, California. It has been exciting to see hundreds of valiant youth of the church come here to experience this wonderful city and the people who lived here long ago. We were told that they studied church history this year in seminary, so it is really coming alive for them. The church really is growing at such a fast pace and these are our future missionaries!

            On July 3, we had a fun Independence Day celebration at our house with 20 young sister missionaries. We had done this last year for them all because they had nowhere to go. So we invited them again. We had a barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers, chips, watermelon, and potato salad. Then Sister Knapp next door made a big tray of brownies! Elder Broadhead came and performed again with Elder Schultz for our entertainment. Then, since we had bought them all sparklers, we lit them and had the 4th of July celebration! (a day early). Fireworks were done that night in Montrose across the river, so we went and watched them all on Temple Hill. It was really fun evening. All the sisters dressed in patriotic colors.

            Both the Nauvoo Pageant and the British Pageant are in full swing. They opened on July 7th, and it’s been rough because we are having so much rain! Every day we have to look at the forecast to whether to plan on having the Sunset Show on the outside stage, or in the Visitor's Center Theater. And the pageants have been rained out at least 3 times. They start to present them, and then it starts pouring and they have to cancel it. The casts have all worked so hard, that I really feel badly for them. But we have been able to watch each one of them twice, and I am still overcome with emotions afterwards. They have such a beautiful message of these great people and their sacrifices. And the British one is the story of many of our ancestors on the Startup and Brown lines.

            It is still such a joy to be here in Nauvoo and to be serving on this mission. I thought it would grow old, but it never does. All of our zone and district meetings, and weekly training meetings are so filled with the Spirit. Our President and his counselors are very inspired, and I have a testimony that these men are called of God. I learn from them constantly. We had a very special visitor to the mission last Tuesday night. They had told us that a general authority was coming, but it was a surprise. He wanted to speak just to the missionaries here. All of the sites closed early, and shows were early so that we could all be in attendance in the chapel.

            We were so excited when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland walked through the doors with our President, after we were already seated. He and his whole family were in Nauvoo for a family reunion with his children, and grandchildren. He spoke to us for about an hour on a very personal level, without any prepared talk. I tried to take notes of some of his thoughts, but couldn’t write fast enough. I wanted to share some of them with you all. These are some of the things he said:

            1. Thank you for serving and doing what you do so that entire families like us can enjoy this experience, and have a“deeply personal rewarding experience”.
            2. He quoted President Spencer W. Kimball that “every historical moment in the church is 'sacred,'” and that he encouraged all the brethren to "go to two places in their lives: The Holy Lands, and Nauvoo.”

            3. Nauvoo is the great symbol of the whole purpose of what the church was organized to do; create a Zion people- even though it only lasted for a short while. They struggled every place before; New York, Ohio, and Missouri.

            4. But, for a brief bright shining moment it was “A New Jerusalem”- a consecrated people with a prophet and apostles; a city of God, a city of Zion. You missionaries are keeping that memory alive!!

            5. No other time in history than these latter days has the gospel ever worked before and lasted! Every dispensation before now ended in apostasy.  Every prophet looked forward to THIS day! We are here NOW in that great LAST Dispensation. We are never going to fail! The priesthood will always be on the earth.

            6. President Holland says he dreams of one day having a worldwide "Gigantic Nauvoo.” Someday we will have that. He said he prays every night for the Second Coming to hurry because he is “weary of the world’s problems.” He prays that the Savior will come and "heal the world." He looks at it all through the eyes of a father, and grandfather, not just as an apostle.

            7. "You missionaries are keeping the dream of Zion alive- symbolically, until the Savior comes again!"

            8. He then had an open question and answer time which was so informative. Questions varied from social media, to recognizing the spirit when teaching, who is the Holy Ghost, and how we can affect and help our wayward children and grandchildren. But I want to share with you his answer about the wayward children. He raised his voice almost yelling and said strongly, “The best way to help them is to BEAR YOUR TESTIMONY!! Often, and with the firmness of your soul, eye to eye, heart to heart. Don’t EVER underestimate the power of your personal testimony! Bear it with power and authority! And with unfailing, uncompromising LOVE.

            Then he bore His testimony to all of us. And it was powerful! There is no way I could deny that an apostle of the Lord, a very witness of Him, was speaking to us. I felt the spirit so strongly that evening, and I will be forever grateful for this amazing privilege of hearing him speak.

            In closing, he gave us counsel to interview ourselves and where we stand in our personal relationship with the Lord. He said to ask yourself these 3 questions; 1. What is the condition of your soul? 2. What is the nature of your heart? 3. What is the strength of your faith? He didn’t elaborate too much on these, but wants us to ponder them, and “Pray better and deeper, and with more feeling of accountability before the Lord.”His last words were; “This is the Truth of Almighty God, and IT WILL NEVER FAIL!!

            I pray that you will all learn from these wonderful messages from one of our apostles. It was life changing for me. We love you all, and are grateful for your loving support and encouragement.
Love Elder Harry and Sister Nancy Schultz