Wednesday, May 16, 2012

...and I get to be a part of them!

Since it is Mother's day month--I think an appropriate blog would be one honoring the women in the Church, both past and present!   We have incredible women--sister missionaries--here, in Nauvoo.  Some of you may recognize Sister Lofgreen (far left).  These women are waiting to be taken to the Relief Society Reenactment that was done here on March 17th this year.  Each of these three sisters is a wonderful representation of our Sister Missionaries.  They are dedicated and faithful.  I wish you could see them up close...they radiate the light of the gospel.  None of their lives have been easy, but they choose to find the good in each situation and to move forward in faith, just like the early saints in Nauvoo.  We were escorted to the red brick store in horse drawn carriages and wagons.  Even tho this particular blog is about the women--I have to pause here and say that the men here are so good to do whatever is asked of them.  We have a teamster who is over 80--but he still is willing and even able to do all that is asked of him from shoveling manure to preaching the gospel and everything in between!

We paused in front of the red brick store for a picture.  This is a picture of all the sister missionaries who were in the mission at the time.  We have more than doubled that number in the last 2 months!  As you can imagine, it's quite a steep learning curve from when one arrives in Nauvoo, to when they need to be ready to show a site, be in a play, work in the gardens, preach the gospel of repentance, research names of people here in lands and records and everything else that is asked of them.  However, we have heard no complaints either from those who are training or those who have been trained.  They all just jump in and do what is needed, even if it requires extra hours and more energy than they think they have!

The Relief Society was organized on the 2nd floor of the red brick store--so that is where we held the reenactimet.  The sisters in their day caps--on the right represent those in the first Relief Society Meeting.  Our sisters are ALL older than the oldest sister in attendance in that orignal meeting, but they had sisters there from teen agers to over 50 from  diverse backgrounds.  The main things they had in common were their faith in God and their desire to make a difference.  Again, that can be said of our sister missionaries.  Now as then, our goals haven't changed--we are all about providing relief, strengthening families and increasing our personal rightiousness.  Quite an amazing group of women to be associated with!

 The meeting was narated by angels!  I'd say that's pretty appropriate!  These three sisters represent (from left to right) Sarah Granger Kimball, Lucy Mack Smith, and Eliza R. Snow. 
 OK--so Brother Morgan doesn't exactly look like Joseph Smith--but I think his wife looks a lot like Emma!  The other two men represent Willard Richards and John Taylor.  Elder Call (far left) is a vet and is the leader of our teamsters.  I love to go on his carriage rides--he tells the stories and teaches with such spirit.  Elder Heaton represented John Taylor.  Such a good choice!  He is a quiet man with wisdom even beyond HIS years!  When Elder Heaton speaks it is done quietly and slowly, but everyone listens.  Another man of faith.
 After the reenactment t sisters sang "As Sisters in Zion" .  When they sang "the errand of Angels is given to Women"  the tears started flowing.  Our sisters/mothers/daughters truly are angels aren't they?
 I was asked to say a few words--and could hardly get my composure after that hymn.  My heart was so full of all that faithful women have and will yet do to build up His kingdom here on earth.
I tried to keep my remarks very brief, because Elder Hollstrom happened to be visiting and consented to say a few words to us.  Another amazing man!
How grateful I am that the key was turned in our behalf. 
I think I'll close this blog with a primary song that has long been one of my favorites--at first because of my own Mother and Grandmothers, who taught me what true womanhood was about, and who taught me to love beauty, but also as a tribute to all the women in my life: friends, daughters, missionaries past a present.  This picture is of the women who work in the gardens, every day...all day. They work to make Nauvoo "the Beautiful".  Aren't THEY beautiful? 

 I often go walking in meadows of clover, and I gather arm fulls of blossoms of blue
 I gather the blossoms the whole meadow over, dear Mother (sister, friend, daughter) all flowers remind me of you.
 Dear Mother, I give you my love with each blossom, to bring forth sweet fragrance a whole lifetime through,
 For if I love walking.... (Sister Bennett--such a joy!  Full of life!  Walking through our field of prarie grass, just before the "burning".)
 And flowers.....
 And Gardens...(yes I know, not exactly the right words, but you get the 'picture'!)
 I learned how to love them, dear Sisters, from you!
 Thank you!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

What missionaries do, continued!

I forgot all about the sewing room! There is a huge building that is dedicated just to sewing! There is material galore in this room, 6 surgers, 8 to 10 sewing machines, cutting counters to die for! Everything to make the sewing experience a pleasant one--and to add to it, there are actually misisonaries here who know how to use all these tools!

No! We aren't one of those knowledgable ones...but with all the new missionaries coming in, needing clothing, the Sisters in the sewing room were starting to fee the pinch. They called for reinforcements--and all the missionaries were being used at the sites--so we rolled up our sleaves and volunteered.

The fact that they let us in, shows how desperate they were for help!
I'm not particularly fond of sewing, but with all the tools and such good company, it turned out to be quite a fun day!

What DO Nauvoo Missionaries do?

I did a whole blog on what our missionaries do and my computer froze! So, this may be the reader’s digest version, since I get tired of hearing myself type!

Before we got here we heard all sorts of things about being a Nauvoo missionary—mostly that it was exactly the kind of mission everyone wanted. We also heard things like “a missionary’s Disney Land”. Or “you have to know someone to GET to go there”. We even said we must have won the mission lottery. Well, in case you think being a Nauvoo Missionary is just to give tours and wear period clothing—let me see if I can expand your vision…

Yes, our missionaries do “get” to wear pioneer clothes and give tours.

DSC_0647_000Doesn’t this look fun? It is—but picture these same Sisters in these same dresses in over 90 degree weather with 100% humidity, with people waiting in line to see their site and artifacts they have to protect from well meaning, curious hands!

And, with the tours, comes learning new skills: Making horse shoes goes with this site. Add this fire to that summer weather I mentioned—DSC01153NOT for sissies!

And, weaving, is learned and taught by the Elders, along with stringing this loom—which takes several days! DSC_0143

DECEMBER_IN_NAUVOO_108This is Sister Kinini showing how to use a printing press---I haven’t learned this one yet!

Yes, they do have some fun! As Joseph said, it’s not good to keep that bow strung tight all the time! DECEMBER_IN_NAUVOO_060

(Does anyone know how to get the text to go NEXT to the picture, instead of beside or under it?)


“Working” in the sites—really IS work. The missionaries clean every site every day—vacuuming (if they are lucky enough to have a vacuum), sweeping, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, emptying trashes etc.DSC_0532One of the sites is the Lands and Records building. Missionaries are also assigned on a regular basis to this site. They help visitors find ancestors, (their property, if they had some—and any other information we have on them,) as well as doing research on everyone who ever lived or died in Nauvoo during the time the Saints were here. There are so many records and they are busy sorting, entering data, and researching, all day, every day. Some of our missionaries LOVE coming here—I would be one of those—I’ve only been there one day—for about 4 hours—but I’m aching to go back!

DSC_0518The men get all the “fun” jobs! Here is Elder Madsen, making bricks! They make them out of our very own Nauvoo Clay! There is so much clay here, that that is why the area was so swampy—the clay wouldn’t allow the water to soak into the ground—the good news is—there is plenty for all the bricks we are making. This winter they have made 25,000 just to get ready for this summer.

DSCN1020—This is a picture of the sisters making gingerbread cookies—their goal was to make 50,000 before the summer—but we ran out of room to store them—so they only did about 48,000! I actually got to help with this one day. This kitchen is located down under the visitors’ center. I loved going into the VC that first two months—it smelled SOOOO good! DSC_0263Some of our missionaries only work in the sites on Sundays. The other days they are working with Facilities Management. Keeping this place beautiful and in good repair takes lots of hands. Right now, over 30 of our missionaries are working 5 days a week to make Nauvoo “the beautiful”!

DSC_0174There are buildings for carpentry, masonry, greenhouses, a sign shop, storage rooms full of antique furniture etc., and I’m sure a lot more I haven’t explored yet!DSC_0347One of our carpenters made a podium for the baptistry in the temple. DSC_0254We have a couple, here who are artists—they do all the finish work on many projects. They can make anything seem new again.

DSC_0664Here is Sister Laney restoring this old bench…DSC_0741DSC_0879DSC_0656DSC_0653Isn’t she amazing?DSCN0026While their wives work in the sites some of our elders are Teamsters: They work with, take care of, and drive the horses. DSCN0119


Carthage is one of the missionaries’ favorite places to serve, even tho it means an extra half hour drive many days.

Is that ALL they do, you say? No. The above is just what they do during the day…in the evenings they are practicing for and performing in the shows here in Nauvoo!DSC_0183


DSC_0307There is a performance of Rendezvous every night except Sunday—all year long. They start in what we call ‘the green room’, down under the cultural hall—each night at 6:30 for a general practice and review of who is doing what that evening….and then…DSC_0280

DSC_0275The Performance! Many of them—

most of them, especially the men,DSC_0164

were pretty sure that singing and acting weren’t for them, but ALL of our missionaries perform in Rendezvous!

DSC_0338and as you can see, it takes a lot of grit and even some acrobatics for some of them!

DSC01278The few who really do have talent are used to the max. This is Rus’ secretary, Sister Hadley. She is IN some of the shows and then plays for others. Another amazing woman!DSC_0501

With so many senior couples doing so much, it is nice to have a Doctor on hand! Even HE performs in Rendezvous. When do we get our turn, you ask? Our missionaries are asking the same thing, and we’re working up to it!

Hmm—don’t know how I did that, but the text went beside the picture that time!


So what do they do in their spare time? They make all these lovely humanitarian projects, sub for each other when one gets sick, watch over one another, charish one another…etc. ANDDSC_0850Attend the temple!

Anyone out there who STILL wants to come to Nauvoo? Put your papers in! If you don’t come here, Where ever you go, will be JUST what you wanted!