Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Nauvoo

I didn't get any pictures for today.  We left our hotel and arrived early at the Hall of the 70's so we could walk the Trail of Hope.  All are encouraged to make this short walk and read the plaques of those who went before us and sacrificed so much.  The road is on Pratt Street.  It leads down to the Mississippi River where the saints awaited their time to cross with their meager possessions on a boat that would ferry them across the river.  Today we were fortunate enough to end our trip with actors along the way portraying some of those whose names are on the plaques.  Their stories were very touching.  I shed more than a few tears to hear of their struggles and their commitment to stand for what they believed in.  They were driven out of their homes and had to leave most everything behind.  All their hard work, with nothing to show for it.  Their beautiful homes were left vacant, as they couldn't sell them to anyone.  Their temple that they spent so much precious time and gave everything for they had to leave.  Such trying times!  I don't know if I could have had the same kind of faith they did.
As we finished the Trail of Hope and walked to the waters edge, a lone bagpiper started playing.  It was the perfect way to end our trip. 

This was a great vacation to take with my family.  The best part about it was the fact that we were able to share it with our parents and Julie.  I am grateful for this opportunity, and I hope I never forget the feelings I had and the gentle whisperings of the spirit.  Nauvoo truly is a special place.  It is a place of happiness, a place of peace, and a place of hope!  The pioneers left in search for a better place.  They put so much faith in the Lord and their leaders and hoped for a place to finally call their own.  Their stories gave me hope.  They gave me strength,  a greater understanding, and a deeper appreciation for my ancestors.  I can do hard things with the help of the Lord.
This was our last summer with Clarissa in our home.  She is going to be a senior this year.  We made this trip because I knew she would enjoy it, but in reality it was for all of us.
I wanted to leave this post with my testimony.  I know this church is true.  I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and Thomas S Monson is our true prophet today.  I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I have read it and have felt the tug on my heart that can only come from the Spirit.  I am grateful for my upbringing, especially my family,  I have a great example to follow, and I hope that I can be half the example my parents were to me.  I have a testimony of the power of prayer, and I know Heavenly Father answers them.  He is always there for us.  Even in our darkest moments, our times of sorrow and despair, he died for us to take away our pain and hurt.  I know that my Redeemer lives.  He loves us so much!  This is my testimony.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Answered Prayers and Happy Kids

We left Nauvoo and told the kids we were heading back to Kansas City for a bit.  After being on a toll road for some time I noticed we were getting very low on gas.  Usually we fill up before we leave, but in all the confusion we didn't.  We had about a quarter of a tank, but we started climbing some hills and the gas light came on. I frantically searched with my phone to find the nearest gas station.  The closest one was 24 miles away, and our van said we had 15 miles until empty.  We said a prayer and hoped for the best.  Soon we noticed we were getting better mileage. The funny thing is we had to back track and it was uphill.  We made the last 4 or miles of the trip with the van saying 0 miles until empty.  Afterward we said a prayer of gratitude.  It was a good lesson for me, and I hope my kids learned something from it as well.  Some may say it was just luck, but we like to call it a Miracle.
Soon we were in Kansas City.  We kept driving around, and my kids were getting curious as to where we were going.  We told them we were staying the night here, but they thought we were joking since it was still so early in the day.  When we pulled onto Cabelas Lane they saw the Wolf Mountain Lodge, which was conveniently located next to Cabelas.   When we pulled into the parking lot of nit Cabelas, but Wolf Mountain Lodge, the van erupted in screams of excitement.  They couldn't BELIEVE their parents would let them stay here!  This was a pretty cool place to stay!  A little pricy, but much cheaper than an amusement park!  I didn't bring my camera the first day, so I missed shots of Clarissa, but here are a few from the next morning.
This place had EVERYTHING!
  3 big waterslides, 2 small ones for the younger ones, a wading pool with water slides, a basketball area, an obstacle course, a lazy river, 1 hot tub for the families, 1 GIANT hot tub for the adults, and a big tree house with lots of fun water toys. 
 They had lots of seating available as well,   And that was just the inside!  Outside they had goofy golf, a bigger pool, and more smaller slides.  So much to do!
  I was impressed with this place.  Clarissa had fun the first day, but grew tired of it and wanted to go to Cabelas with Clarence for the morning.  I enjoyed watching the 3 others, and even going down the big slides a time or two.  Or 3 or 4.  Ok, I had just as much fun as they did playing!  Of course I did manage to find time to slip away to the adult Jacuzzi pool as well. 

This was a COOL thing.  10,000 gallons of water poured down every 5 minutes on whoever was standing there.
 The kids would sit in the hot tub and wait for the warning bell to go off.  They knew they had 1 minute to run over there and get pounded.
 It was fun to watch them never tire of this.

Water slides in wading pool
I had to practically drag the kids out of the water when it was time to leave.

We drove through the night, and 18 hours later we made it home.  Home sweet home.  I am looking forward to NOT leaving anywhere for awhile.

All in all it was a GREAT vacation.  Who knows what's in store for next summer!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nauvoo Day 3

This is the Lamoreaux house that we have been staying in for the last couple of days.  It was a wonderful home!  The history behind the family is pretty remarkable.  They were responsible for the saving of the Nauvoo bell and then later bringing it west to Utah.  It now hangs in a bell tower on Temple Square by the Relief Society Hall.  What a great story!

 This morning we said our goodbyes to the Lamoreaux house and headed to Carthage Jail.  We arrived half an hour early, only to find out that on Wednesdays it opens at 9:30 instead of 9.  But We are glad we got there as early as we did!  By the time the visitor center opened there were 4 buses and MANY cars full of people wanting to beat the rush.  While waiting for Carthage to open, we took the opportunity to snap some pictures and enjoy the immaculate grounds.

 After watching a short film on the events surrounding the jail, we were permitted to enter this building.   We walked up the stairs that the mob went up to when they killed our beloved prophet and others with him.  As they told the story I could just imagine seeing them with their guns running up the stairs to get the first shot.

We went upstairs to a room that left you feeling dark and depressed.  There wasn't a very good spirit there.  I couldn't imagine living my life in a place like that. 
We then went into the room where Joseph Smth was killed.  The room had a different feel from the one we just left.  You could feel that something of significance happened here.   I this room Joseph Smith and his faithful friends and servants spent their last night with him.  Some were willing to die for him.  Some did. 
This is the window that Joseph Smith fell through.
The doors are original in the house.  You can still see the bullet hole in the door that killed one young man.  Many tears were shed as they played a recording about those last few minutes of their life.  I am grateful for those that gave their life for their freedom, for their religion. 
 I hope my family was touched by the spirit as much as I was in this sacred place.

 After bidding farewell to Carthage we went back to Nauvoo for some souvenir shopping and lunch.  The kids found several treasures, and so did we!
We went back to the visitor center to watch a production called "The Promise".  Another great performance!  The energy and time these actors put into their shows are wonderful.

After the performance we went walking though the Women's Garden to look at all the statues.  My girls really enjoyed them.  

 We knew our time was running out on Nauvoo, so we went to 1 more place that we didn't get to visit the day before.  The boot shop.  All I could think of is the scripture "remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. "
The process to make a pair of boots was pretty impressive.  They also had a neat display of the kinds of shoes and the tools to make them.

 A few went to see 1 or 2 more sites, but as you could tell by the look on Ethan's face, he was through with this kind of stuff for the day.

That evening we ran into Deanne and JD Smith as we watched our final performance together called Sunset by the Mississippi.  They included the kids in a parade, and had all the missionaries well represented from all of Nauvoo.  The band performed, the senior couples sang, and the young actors/actresses made us laugh.  It was a great way to end the evening!
A few of us decided to stay and watch the British Pageant one more time.  I really liked it the second time.  I was glad I brought a blanket though.  It got pretty chili tonight! 
We also ran into a familiar face.  Marlen Hansen!  What a surprise that was!  After the pageant they came over to our hotel for a photo.  It was a great way to spend our last night in Nauvoo!

Nauvoo day 2

Day 2 in Beautiful Nauvoo
Julie and I got up early this morning to go stand in line to pick up reserved tickets and hopefully get some tickets for the wagon ride.  This ride is highly sought after, and tickets sell our fast!  When we got there we found out that due to the weather, the wagon ride was only running until noon!  We had to quickly readjust our schedule for the day to make everything work. 
Up until today, the weather had been pleasantly mild by anyone's standards.  Everyone kept commenting on how nice the weather was and how the humidity was relatively low.  We were blessed to have such good weather for July in Illinois!
Due to the weather the first thing we were going to do was cancelled.  The brass band was supposed to perform, but had to move location.  So instead we took our family to the Family Center.  What a cool place!
 They had many activities to do and learn about, all in a big air conditioned building.  We chose to learn about rope making.  I love how the whole family was involved.
 It was neat to hear about the pioneers would make rope, and I'm grateful we don't have to cut and dry plants to make them anymore! 
After the family made the rope, the Brother missionary talked about how the family is bound together, and how we find strength in each other.  It was a great object lesson.  We all go to keep a family rope to remind us to always be strong.
With only a few moments to spare, we hurried next door to see the live performance of Just Plain Anna Amanda.  This was more for the little kids, but I think it was enjoyed by all.  Karly was especially excited, and she really paid attention! 

After the performance we RACED back over to the Visitor Center just in time to make the Wagon Ride.  They were very kind, and waited until our whole group was there. 
The younger kids didn't enjoy this as much as the rest of us, but for the next hour we toured the town of Nauvoo and learned more about the rich history here.  We learned a little more the buildings, and it gave is a pretty good game plan for where we wanted to focus our afternoon touring to continue.  I actually loved this ride.  The weather was defiantly hotter and more humid than before, but not as unbearable as they thought it would be.
One highlight of the ride for me was when then stopped and talked about the temple.  This Moroni faces West instead of East.  We learned it was to honor the pioneers that made the trek so many years ago.  The Salt Lake Temple and the Nauvoo Temple angel Moroni's mirror each other.  What a beautiful tribute!

After our wagon ride we returned back home for some lunch.  We were there for about 20 minutes, and I told everyone, "We have 15 minutes to eat, get dressed, and get to the temple if we are going to do a session!"  That got their attention.  Eleanor loved it when I said that.  I always had something planned, and I didn't want to waste a minute if I could help it!  Ok, I wasn't a drill sergeant, but everyone wanted to see as much as they could, so I did my best to make and keep a schedule. 
We were all pleasantly surprised when we were all able to make it to the temple on time.  We dropped Eugene and the kids off at the Family Center, and I gave my kids strict instructions to NOT leave Karly.  Every time someone would open the front door of our house she would come running down the stairs crying, "Don't leave me alone AGAIN!"  I wanted to make sure that didn't happen again.... at least not until we left Nauvoo. 
The temple was nice.  We were able to visit several rooms during our session.  Each one was beautiful in its own way, and really helped portrait what was being said.  The Celestial room was very different than what I imagined.  I love how they kept everything as authentic to the area as they could.  I am grateful we were able to make time to visit and do the work for others in this beautiful place.
After the temple we picked everyone up and visited a few places before they closed for the evening.
The brickyard was pretty cool.  We got a demonstration on brickmaking.  It was very interesting!  They had to make a LOT of bricks!  The lesson I came away with this is how we can be molded and shaped with the master's hands.  These simple life lessons are great.  Each family was presented with a beautiful Nauvoo brick. 

The next place we visited was the school house.  What fun! 
It was neat to see how the saints would write, based on how things sounded.  The "teacher" had them all do some math on their slates.  They were heavier than I thought they would be.
Education was very important back then, and I'm grateful for those who took the time to teach others these important skills.  I can't remember if it was here or some other place, but we were told that there were a good  number of educated saints that signed up for the Mormon Battalion. They had been taught how to read and write and could sign for themselves.  I guess that was unusual for the area and the time.
Julie's pick was to visit the Lyon Drug Store.
 They had all kinds of herbal remedies and even teeth extraction equipment on display.  How cool is that!  I was impressed with how much the pharmacist had to have known about natural remedies and how to treat the ailments!  Karly was a bit unruly, and this sweet sister was so kind and gave her a special job of attaching the rope and reattaching it while she spoke.  It worked wonders, especially when Ethan also was done and needed something to do.  These missionaries are so patient!

Our last tour was the Brigham Young Home.  I didn't get to see much as a certain 4 yr old suddenly had a potty emergency, but I was able to snap a couple of pictures of the interior of the house.  He was a cabinet maker, and all of the homes he had portrayed his magnificent workmanship.

After dinner we attended the Country Fair. 
There were so many activities for the kids to do!  We didn't even get to do all of them.  The highlights were headband making, the puppet show, the bean bag toss, the wood cutting and burning of the Nauvoo Temple, the "yo-yo's", and the dancing!  It was pretty humid at this time, so everyone on the dance floor was hot and sticky.  The music was live, and man could that band play!  I was impressed at the quality of everything here.  The church takes great measures to  provide the best!

All too soon the bagpipes were once again playing, signaling everyone to their seats for the Nauvoo Pageant.  The performance was PACKED this time around!

 I am grateful we went earlier in the day to reserve seats as we had been instructed to do.  The pageant takes place after the immigrants made their way to Nauvoo.  It is about their struggles and their desire to build a temple.  It was a touching performance.  With about 20 minutes left in the production the rains came down HARD!  Everyone ran for cover, but the show continued.  I chose to stay under a tree and finish the show.  The rest of my family went to the van and waited.  Towards the end of the performance the rains ended and it was nice.  The temple lights are turned off for the performance, and then come on at the end.  It was a special experience for me to see that all by myself with the rain barely a sprinkle.  I was touched by the spirit and couldn't help but love these people and what they did.

 After seeing the performance I am looking forward to our visit to Carthlage Jail bright and early in the morning.