Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 22, 2015-Anniversary, rodeo, general authority speakers, testimony

Dear Family and Friends,

            Hello from Historic Nauvoo! We have been having a fantastic mission here, serving the Lord, and sharing the gospel with all of the visitors who come here. They come to learn about the history of these valiant people, and to feel the spirit that is here in abundance! I apologize in advance that this letter will be a little long because I have much to share.

            I would like to first tell you about the news and activities we have been experiencing, and then to share some really special and spiritual things too. On September 10th, which would have been our release date, we celebrated our 45th anniversary and my birthday. We went over to Fort Madison and had fun at the annual rodeo with our cast. Then we went to eat at a new little downtown restaurant, and stayed in a bed & breakfast called the Kingsley Inn; an old charming Victorian style hotel. Of course we had to get special permission from our mission president.

Throughout the past two weeks we have been saying goodbye to all of our fellow missionaries who came out here from the MTC together, and the others who have been here for 18 months. It has been difficult because we have all grown very close and love them like family. Most live far away from us in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and even Canada, and it is most likely we won’t see them again. But we have made many memories that will last a lifetime. The hardest ones we said goodbye to were the six young sister missionaries who served here last year and went home. (The newer 14 sisters will go outbound to other U.S. places in October). We have grown extra close to them because they served in the Visitor's Center with us for two summers. Elder Schultz put on a late Sunday night snack of tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and Italian sodas for all of them as a goodbye party. He also made his special “Altoid” boxes for each sister. (If you don’t know what those are, they are 2 metal boxes glued together at the bottoms; one side is filled with pain relievers, and the other side with emergency items like bandaids, floss sticks, antacid, laxative, etc.) They are amazing young women who are dedicated and have served the Lord valiantly for 18 months. We almost feel like they have been like “granddaughters” to us, and will miss them very much.
These are 45 of our fellow missionaries who are leaving this month. So hard to say goodbye to our good friends we have served together for 18 months!

We have two new missionaries who have joined us this past week; our good friends and former Young Ambassadors, Bob and LeeAndra Lowe. We are so excited to serve with them the last 3 months of our mission. They will be here until Feb. 2017. They live only 2 blocks from us and we hope we can spend some choice time together before we leave. They bring many talents to this mission, so I am excited for them to be here.

Last night we had a special experience. The two wonderful women who are sisters and live in Fort Madison; Carol Foss and Pat Kious and who we met this year at the annual Chamber dinner, invited us to Carol’s home for dinner. You might remember I told you about them in an earlier letter, and that Carol won "Volunteer of the Year" for all her work in the community. They are 80 and 85 years old, and are so active and have amazing energy! We have met with them a couple of times for lunch, and Carol called and invited us. They also had 3 friends come, and we ate on her back deck overlooking the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful evening, as we ate, and heard many trains go past blowing their whistles. It was the most peaceful and wonderful visit with new good friends, and I hope we stay in touch with them. They are very active in their Catholic church, and had lots of questions for us about Mormons and temples. We made a “long lasting bond of friendship” that evening.

This past month we have had two great spiritual experiences that I would like to share. On September 13, we had a special Sunday evening fireside with Sister Elaine Dalton, former General Young Women’s President, and her husband Elder Dalton, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. Even before she was President from 2008-2013, she served as a counselor and on the board for  9 years before. Many important decisions were made under their direction, i.e. updating the “Strength of Youth” booklet and adding the value of Virtue to their theme. They were also involved in the decision to lower the ages for men and women missionaries.

Elder Dalton spoke first and told of his 7 great, great grandfathers who lived here in Nauvoo in the 1840’s; and most of them had worked on the temple. One of those was Edwin Whiting, which is also my great ,great grandfather, so I really related to what he said. He mainly told of their great sacrifices and how much Nauvoo meant to him, and the spirit he felt every time he came here.  Not one of these grandparents ever faltered or strayed away from the gospel, and all went west with saints. He did talk about having a sure foundation in Christ, and said it is “better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent.” 

Then our 20 young sister missionaries sang a medley of “Sisters in Zion”, and “Army of Helaman.” They had all been young women during Sister Dalton’s time as President. When she stood to speak, she was very emotional, and choked up. She said that these beautiful sisters were great examples of the quality of Virtue; that they prepared themselves to be worthy, and answered the call of the prophet to serve. She had them all stand and recite the Young Women's Motto. The theme of her talk was that we must all be prepared to help and be part of this great “Hastening”! “The Lord Needs All Of Us!” She spoke of many other things too, but wow! The spirit was so strong in that meeting and I am so grateful to have been present.
Running into friends!
The other exciting event that is happening here is having George and Susan Black Durrant return to teach us. They have a home in Nauvoo, so they come here every year for a few months. They are giving lectures in the Visitor’s Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He introduces her by telling funny stories and giving a short gospel message. Then she has been talking about Joseph Smith’s history, the First Vision, and his family. Tonight she discussed his courtship with Emma, and her biography. She is a great specialist on Joseph and Emma Smith, and about the Nauvoo era. She relates interesting and unusual stories and information that she has found while doing research here. It has been a real spiritual “feast” to learn from them.

I think it is getting late and time to end this letter. I want you all to know how much we love serving on this mission in Nauvoo, and that we are going to be so sad to leave in 3 months. The time has raced by so quickly. But we have learned great gospel principles, and our testimonies have strengthened in leaps and bounds. We serve with the most wonderful missionaries here, who are great examples to us of unselfish service, and who love the Lord.

I want you all to know that I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I also know that Joseph Smith is a great prophet called to usher in this last dispensation, and help restore all things as in Christ’s day. What a wonderful privilege to know that we belong to the true church of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the sacrifices of my ancestors who were here in Nauvoo. They went west so that they could worship in peace, and their descendants like me could be taught the gospel.

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement and support. We love you and look forward to seeing you soon. Please write us a short note of your family news.        

Love Elder and Sister Schultz

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September 5, 2015-Illinois State Fair, A Wedding & Nashville Tribute Band prep

Dear Family and Friends:

            It seems like I just wrote a letter but realized it has been almost 3 weeks! It’s hard to believe how fast time is going on this mission. We would have been leaving this week on September 10, and it’s been hard seeing all of our MTC group packing and getting ready to leave. But we had a great training meeting by our president, where he told us to always feel like we are in the “middle of our mission,”, even if we are close to leaving; to serve valiantly until the end. So that is what we are doing. We have about 15 weeks left, and will work hard until we go home.

            Many of you may have already heard, but our renter in our Brea home, Theresa McCoy, passed away on August 13 from stomach cancer. She fought a valiant fight, and we are so sad about their family’s loss. She was the mother in law of Susan Vargas’ son, so if any of you knew them, it would be nice to send them a note of condolences. Our address there is 204 Napoli Dr., Brea.

Good morning, Illinois! On the way to State Fair. “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!”
            Some amazing events have happened in the past few weeks. On the 3rd and 4th weekends of August, we went with Nauvoo on the Road again to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. They invited us back from last year, and we were at the same location, right inside the main gate, at the Looking for Lincoln area. 3 vans took 7 sister missionaries, and 6 couples to help with the pioneer games and activities, and to perform in 3 shows per day. We went for a Friday and Saturday, and the next Friday too. We met hundreds of nonmembers, and gave out brochures, asking them to come to visit Nauvoo. Almost everyone had not even heard of Nauvoo, which is right here in their state. It was a great experience again, and we made very good friends with the directors of the fair.

Our Fair location

With director, Heather Wicken and Lincoln

Our location at the Fair by Lincoln Heritage area.

Nauvoo on the Road

            On Saturday, Aug. 15, I had the wonderful experience of attending the endowment session of Zenta Logan, who was baptized last year. She is from Burlington, and I was able to help in her joining the church. What a privilege to see her stay active, and prepare this past year to go to the temple. It was also neat to see her ward step in and fellowship her. The bishopric and wives, the Relief Society president, her visiting teacher and home teacher were all in attendance. And a sister who has become her good friend in the ward was her escort. Then we had a small luncheon in her honor at a missionary’s home. She was so happy to take this next step in her conversion, and I was happy to be part of that.

            We have lots of social events with this mission, and especially with each of our casts. There are about 65 persons in 3 casts. Our cast is called the "Sarah Granger Cast." Last week we went out to Bonaparte, Iowa for a dinner put on by the Bontragers, an Amish family. They are the family I told about in April who have 8 children and came to Nauvoo to visit, and they have 2 sets of twins. They held the dinner in their barn, and the food was delicious. About 58 of us came, and they served us homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, vegetable, cole slaw, homemade bread, and homemade pies for dessert. They also own a bakery where they sell baked goods to the public. What a treat this was to experience their culture. Marie, the mom, cooked the food, John and the children served, and cleaned up. It was so much fun!! They live in a big Victorian home, and the kids were all barefoot, and sat at the table with us to eat. They seemed so pure and untouched by the crazy world- not worldly at all. I was a little jealous of their simple life.

            Also this month, on August 29, was the wedding of our dear single senior sister, Sharon Watkins. She is also from Laguna Niguel in Orange County, and served in the Newport Beach Temple on a different shift. She met a single man here in Nauvoo, who is on a service mission, fixing all of our computers, etc. in the visitors center. His name is Brother Larry Nicholl.  They shared an office upstairs and decided to get married in July, and they asked me to help them plan their wedding. I was the wedding planner and had a lot of fun working with their florist, the caterer, and gathering all the decorations.  It was held outside here in the women’s garden, and they were married by Bishop Cluff, his bishop. They had about 400 persons in attendance, and it turned out to be beautiful, if I do say so. They paid a caterer and a florist. I ordered linens from my nephew Ron, Berrett- in coral colors and soft yellows.  We used the pioneer theme with corals and ivory, and old lace doilies, oil lamps, mason jars with wild flowers, etc. They served chicken croissants, spinach salad, and 3 kinds of grapes. They had 3 flavored waters and the caterers made 2 delicious cakes- gingerbread with fresh whipped cream and banana with cream cheese icing. Oh, and Elder Schultz set up the sound and coordinated a program! It made me feel like the good ole days of catering. It felt good to use my talent again. 

            Our present projects besides the regular duties of serving as site leaders in the Visitor's Center, is helping coordinate the concert coming here on October 10, called the Nashville Tribute Band- and country band of 9 LDS guys from Nashville who put on an Interfaith Community concert. We have a commitment from a Christian church in Burlington who is pastored by the mayor Shane McCampbell, to come and sing with them. They are performing a “Nashville Tribute to Jesus Christ” called Redeemer, with their original songs, etc. We are helping market it, and make it a success by getting people to come to Nauvoo. It is actually being sponsored by the Nauvoo Tourism Office, who is led by our good nonmember  friend, Kim Orth, and she is so excited that we are working together on this. Please pray for its success! We also hope it will be a great missionary activity.

            We started our new vignette last week in "Rendezvous." We are now Thomas and Elizabeth, not Peter and Abigail. We learned all new dialogue, and we even sing a duet together which has been a challenge for both of us. But we are happy to help in this show in any way we can.

            We do miss and love all of you, but feel a great responsibility to continue serving on our mission. We will soon start the rehearsals, and preparation for "The Miracle of Christmas" program. This is the reason we were asked to stay. So we will be working hard on that after the October concert. We look forward to seeing you in a few months. Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement. We have loved this mission, and most of all we have loved serving the Lord, and testifying of His restored gospel.

Please write to us if you can. We love hearing of all the news back home.
Love Elder and Sister Schultz