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

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