Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nauvoo update & plan

I'm sorry it's taking me so long to get to the blog.  Everything here is new to us and we're learning so many things all at once, we want to share it all with you but our schedule is BRUTAL.  Who ever said senior missionaries get to take naps did not come to Nauvoo. 

We're up at 6:00 every morning and hardly ever get to bed before 10:30.  We each have a 6 hour shift at one of the sites - but usually not the same shift or the same site.  We also have to get in scripture study, personal study, companion study, fittings for site clothes and show clothes, training meetings, district meetings, practices, and quickly learning the new site we will have to give tours in the next day, before rushing off to be in a show. 

In the summer there are three different casts who are in Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo ( a musical about the people and culture of Nauvoo) and Sunset by the Mississippi ( kind of an outdoor variety show).  They are both presented six nights a week so we only have to be in Rendezvous two nights and Sunset two nights.  During the winter many missionaries go home so there are only two casts.  They stop doing Sunset but we will be in Rendezvous every other night.  We will have our clothes for the shows soon I hope and then I'll post pictures.  Right now we are borrowing clothes.

Sundays are quite interesting (NOT a day of rest).  Sacrament meeting starts at 8:00 a.m. but if you want a good seat you have to get there by 7:15.  We have 200 site missionaries, 100 temple missionaries, 20 young sister missionaries, 20 young performing missionaries and about 40 FM (facilities management) missionaries.  That fills up the chapel and breezeway.  It's always opened to the cultural hall and visiting guests usually fill that up. We are constantly reminded that this is probably the closest we will ever come to living in a zion community.  Every member of our ward is active, pays tithing, and holds a temple recommend.  A bishops dream!

After Sacrament meeting we have Relief Society & Priesthood meetings and then we get to work in the same site with our spouse for only 3 hour shifts.  That's really fun and goes by pretty fast.  Then there is either a district meeting or zone meeting or fireside in the evening.

Our P-day is even really busy.  Our mission president wants us to call it preparation day because he doesn't want anyone to think it is a "play-day".  I don't think there's much chance of that - but he will let us call it prep-day.  Anyway - most people get to sleep in on their prep-day but not us.  Ours is on Wednesday and there is ALWAYS an 8:00 training meeting on Wednesdays.  Then we're free to go shopping or do laundry or whatever (do assigned service projects - this week we get to clean the reader boards on the trail of hope) until 6:00.  Then we have to get ready for either Rendezvous or Sunset performances. 

I'm not complaining - we came on this mission to get out of our rut and to serve the Lord in any way he wants us to.  It's hard work and a little hard getting used to, but we love it and we know he will help us do anything we're asked to do.  We are just grateful for the experience.

I've decided to take just one site at a time and show you pictures (when I have time) and explain a little bit of the information we give in a tour.  Maybe then I can post a little bit at a time but a little more often.   

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome to Nauvoo


Elder Knudsen suggested that I make a correction of an earlier post.  When I wrote about the Conference Center in Salt Lake, I guess I implied that the pulpit was damaged by the fountain on the roof.  IT WAS NOT.  It was damaged by a sprinkler system coming on - I just thought it was kind of ironic that the fountain was directly above the pulpit.  Sorry.


 This is our new house - isn't it cute?  We live on the bottom.  We have neighbors on both sides of us who play the piano so we get to hear them practicing at various times of the day.  It's great.

Across the street in the front there is a park with a campground.

And in back there is a patio and a beautiful HUGE lawn.  The field on the left is a cornfield - not very tall yet.

I'm not sure how we got so lucky.  Some of our friends are in tiny tiny houses with tiny narrow spiral staircases.  They are very cute but I'm really glad we are all on the ground floor and we have lots of room and storage space.  We also have a basement which is the tornado shelter for several senior couples.  That means they can get into our house anytime they want.  Good thing we trust them huh?

Here's a peek inside our cute little place. 

I took these pics before we moved our stuff
in and then forgot to take one after the bed
was made

When we first walked in the house - look what we found.

Two cans of soup, a loaf of bread and a cute little note that said:

"We welcome you to Old Nauvoo
The Lord has work for you to do
Your testimony you'll want to share
As you meet folks from everywhere."
Illinois Nauvoo Mission Presidency

I think we're going to love it here - actually, we already do!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Missionary Training Center

MTC Entrance

Our ten days at the Missionary Training Center was amazing.  I had been using the word AWESOME so much that it was even starting to bother me - so I changed to AMAZING!  It's so hard to explain how wonderful the experience is to someone who hasn't been there but I'll try.

Everything is so orderly and scheduled and designed to help us become successful missionaries and to understand the missionary purpose which is:

"Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

We learned that we as missionaries invite and help, and the people we teach come and receive. 

Everyone is so kind and helpful.  The first day was orientation and figuring out where everything is. 
We were met by young elders who carried our luggage to our room.  It was small but very comfortable.  We didn't spend a lot of time there.

                                     Just long enough to sleep (very comfy bed).

And study.  These are the coolest chairs - I want one at home.  Look what they can do.

The second day we started classes and they made sure we were comfortable.  

First they brought in extra pads for our chairs.


Then they brought in footstools.  They made
a big deal about us keeping our feet up.

We had a Senior Couple - Elder and Sister Stock - who made sure that everything ran smoothly and who took care of any problems that came up.  They said we could call them anytime day or night.  Thank goodness we didn't have to.

They made sure we had a break every hour and they treated us like royalty.  We had ID cards that we were supposed to use to get into every building or to use the elevator but the young elders race each other to get to hold the doors for seniors so we didn't have to use them very often. 

The first week our study was from the scriptures and the book, Preach My Gospel.  I think that the most important thing we learned was that we already know a lot and we just have to have confidence in ourselves and learn to teach by the Spirit.  Our instructors were young returned missionaries who are currently attending BYU.  They said the job lasts for 3 years and then they have to move on and let someone else have the blessings. 

Our morning instructor was Brother Harmer.  He is married but has no children (yet).  His motto for us was:  KISS


Our afternoon instructor was Brother Albertson. He is married and has a 9 month old daughter.  He told us at the beginning of the week that we would be completely different people by the end of the week.  I think he was right.

The second week was more specific instruction to our mission.  We learned how to conduct tours.  Our instructors were a senior missionary couple, Elder & Sister Mitchell.

The cafeteria was unbelieveable!  They have everything you could ever want to eat and it is all so good - you really have to learn to pace yourself. 

Nothing is ever allowed to get dirty.  There are hundreds of students from BYU who come during the day and keep everything clean or painted or polished or trimmed (we saw one girl cleaning a drinking fountain with a toothbrush.) As soon as the tulips had stopped blooming, there was a whole group of students cleaning out the flower beds and digging up the bulbs.

My favorite thing was to watch the young missionaries.  You see them everywhere but it's hard to imagine how many of them there are until you see them all together.  Every Tuesday night all the missionaries come together for a devotional. They let the senior missionaries in first so we can get really good seats and then they open the doors for the young missionaries.  They look like God's Army streaming into the room.  And then - when they sing "Called to Serve" -  OH MY!!!!

There were several places where they asked us not to take pictures

Usually a general authority comes to speak.  Our first week D. Todd Christofferson and his wife were there.  Our second week L. Tom Perry and his wife came.  It's amazing to see them and listen to them in person.  I'm not sure how old L. Tom Perry is but he must be in his late 80's.  He is really tall and he bounded up the steps to the pulpit like a teenager. 

There were several places where they asked us not to take pictures so I mentioned to one of our instructors that I wished everyone in the church could have a chance to come here for a week.  He said, "They can!  Tell all your friends to come!"  So I'm telling you - COME!

As amazing as it was, after ten days we were really anxious to get on with the next part of the experience.  So we said goodbye to the MTC and the beautiful temple on the hill and headed for Nauvoo.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sightseeing in Salt Lake City

On our way to the MTC (Mission Training Center) we stopped off for some sightseeing in Salt Lake City.  We took lots of pictures but I will only post a few for those of our family and friends who have not been here.  The temple was gorgeous as always.  You can't take a bad picture of the temple.

There were flowers everywhere

Some of the statues on Temple Square:

Seagull Monument
Handcart Pioneers

Joseph & Hyrum Smith (and me)

Restoring the Aaronic Priesthood
Restoring the  Melchizedek Priesthood

Conference Center


We took a tour of the Conference Center because we had never been there.  We took some pictures but they really do not show how expansive and beautiful the building is.  Our tour guide said that it is the largest public building of it's kind in the country except for sporting arenas.  It holds 21,000 people in one room and you don't even get a good idea of how big it is when you watch conference on TV.   That huge room where conference is held has no supporting pillars so there is nothing to obstruct the view from anywhere in the room.  There is even more on each side than I was able to capture in the middle.

This was taken from the balcony

The pulpit was made from a tree in President Hinckley's yard.  We were not able to see it up close because there had been some water damage recently because of a leak and it was being repaired.  No wonder!  Look what is positioned directly over the pulpit (on the roof)

There is beautiful artwork and sculptures throughout the building.  All of the original Book of Mormon paintings are huge.  We learned that a primary president had commissioned the paintings so that primary children could understand the Book of Mormon stories more easily.  I've seen those pictures so many times but never realized that there is so much detail in them.  There are also busts of each of the Presidents of the church and there are gorgeous fountains everywhere.
On the roof there are gardens and trees, fountains, and these cool sky lights.  There are nine of them and they are over the conference room and cause rainbows to appear on some of the chairs.

There is also a mural made of Brazilian marble.  The picture is sandblasted onto it.

David O McKay is the little boy sitting on his father's lap in the right bottom corner.

There is so much more to see but I'll end for now and show you one more picture.  This is the view of temple square from the top of the Conference Center.

What an AWESOME place!!!