Monday, July 24, 2017

July 2017 - Family and Friend Visits

Never Get Tired of Sunset Pictures by the Mississippi
July is almost over.  The Nauvoo Pageants have been running for two weeks and two weeks remain on their schedule.  The weather in June and early July was warm with hardly any days above 90 degrees. Mid July was the hottest weather of the summer with some days over 95 with high humidity resulting in heat indexes up to 115.  The Sunset by the Mississippi productions have been going very well.  Sister Rober and I go there every night to be with each of the three casts.  During the hot weather the show was cancelled on two nights due to the excessive heat.  Summer is a busy time.  We start in the sites at 9 am.  Sunset is over around 8 pm.  If we go right to the pageant from Sunset that means the days end around 10:30 pm.  It can be tiring but it is so fun and spiritual.

Our family began arriving in July for visits.  My sister in law Pam Daut and her daughter Kelly Rogers were the first to arrive. They were just passing through and could only spend a few hours but is was fun to see them and Kelly's beautiful daughters Savannah and Avery.

Pioneer Girls Avery and Savannah

Our next visitors were the Scott and Cori Allan and Kim and Carson Day families.  Cori and Kim are our daughters. They were able to be here at the same time along with eight grand kids.  We had a wonderful time together.  We attended shows, saw the Nauvoo Pageant, played games, took wagon rides and caught up on family news.  Ammon and Bailey were able to receive their Patriarchal Blessing while in Nauvoo since they are currently living in Japan where the blessing would have been in Japanese. It was a very special experience for everyone.  Kim and Carson are in the process of moving from Merced to Corona.  We were able to meet Hyrum David Day our nineteenth and newest grand child during their visit.

Allan Family

(L to R) Scott, Cori, Bailey, Patriarch Kim Cameron, Ammon, Leah, Larry

Day Family at the Brickyard
(L to R) Vivienne, Eve, Kim, Hyrum, Carson, Fielding

Grand Kid Reunion
(L to R) Beau, Eve, Vivienne, Fielding
Our next visitors were the Kizerians and the Pugmires from our home ward Yorba Linda 4.  We had some great times catching up on all of the ward news from home.  We were able to attend both pageants and they visited many of the special Nauvoo historic sites.  One morning we watched the horses run down the river road from their pasture to the barn where morning oats were waiting.

Pugmires and Kizerians Visiting Mission Horses at Barn
Our next visitors were Brian and Kate Rober.  Brian is our son from Utah.  Their family has just moved in to their new house in Mapleton Utah. They were on the tail end of a fantastic trip to the East Coast.  On our visit to the Carthage Jail Site we were able to arrive at a quiet time and had a private tour of the jail where Joseph and Hyrum Smith sealed their testimony of the restored gospel with their blood.  Their visit was during the heat week but since all of the sites are air conditioned and the pageants start at 8:30 it wasn't too bad.

Rober Family at Carthage Jail
(L to R) Briggs, Kate, Brian, Ashlynn, Ty, Larry, Leah

Grandpa with Briggs and Ashlynn after Temple Baptisms
What a great month July has been and it is not over yet.  Lisa and John and Mark and Lisa will be here the last week of July.  It has been so good to see family again and share with them the Spirit of Nauvoo and all of the history here.

Meanwhile, the Sunset by the Mississippi Show goes on every night. Here are a few new pictures from the show.

Sister Rober as a Dancing Grandma in Grandmas's Feather Bed

Mississippi Mud - Sunset by the Mississippi

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunset by the Mississippi Month

Sunset by the Mississippi (Photo by David Johnson)

(Photo by David Johnson)
(Photo by David Johnson)

(Photo by David Johnson)

May brought warmer weather, springtime flowers and more people to Nauvoo.  It was exciting to see the change of seasons and feel the anticipation of summer with the arrival of the Young Performing Missionaries and Nauvoo Brass Band. The Sunset by the Mississippi Show opened up on May 27 following two months of practice by three different casts.  Sister Rober taught the choreography to all three casts.  The show is different this year and it is being received well by the crowds and local people who have seen many shows over the years.

Nauvoo Brass Band (Photo by Don Searle)
Sara Granger Cast (Photo by Don Searle)

Young Performing Missionaries  (Photo by Don Searle)

Old performing missionaries (Photo by Don Searle)

Sister Rober as a dancing Grandma in Grandma's Feather Bed (Photo by Don Searle)
Over the last three months over 80 missionaries have arrived to replace those who went home last fall.  It is so good to have new missionaries to get to know.  During our time here I estimate we will have met around three hundred fellow missionaries. They are the best!  We are making life time friends with people from all over the country,  This is a very unique mission.  It is unbelievably quiet in the winter and insanely crazy and busy in the summer.  We get to meet every week as a group with our Mission President for training.  We live by the calendar.  Every week we need to check our schedule for the following week to see if we are making bricks, being a blacksmith or leading tours at over 20 sites.  In addition, we need to learn parts and dancing for the Rendezvous Show and Sunset Show.  It is a great experience and worth every tired night in the summer. We are missionaries telling the story of this city and testifying of the restored gospel and our Savior Jesus Christs through the messages at our sites and in the shows.  The Prophet Joseph Smith is buried here and Carthage Illinois, his death place, is 30 minutes away. Over 200,000 people visit this city over the year.  They come to us.  They leave inspired by their visits and the faith and obedience of the people who lived here.  As we look at the schedule now we are saddened to see our original group as the next missionaries to leave on September 7.

Last week on our Preparation Day we took a two hour trip to Moline Illinois where the John Deere Company is headquartered. We toured their pavilion and saw the massive size of farm equipment being manufactured today.  Illinois is definitely John Deere country.  As you pass by homes and farms it seems that everyone has their green and yellow John Deere mower or equipment parked outside.  The Combine is quite an amazing piece of equipment.  One huge machine is sent through the field to cut the corn or beans, separate the husks or pods and then separate the actual kernels and beans while at the same time disposing of the waste back to the field.  A truck moves alongside the Combine to receive the finished product.

Time to mow the grass
Always wanted a tractor 
The Combine machine is massive
We are really excited for the month of July in anticipation of Carson and Kim, Scott and Cori, Brian and Kate, Mark and Lisa and John and Lisa visiting our mission with 15 grand kids.  I know they will feel the spirit of this special city and the Saints who lived here in the 1840's.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Is Here, Again

As April began we passed the one year mark and we are starting to see things happen for the second time on our mission - new leaves on trees, warmer weather, larger crowds and the arrival of new missionaries.  We can say for sure that our only winter here was a milder one.  We have now experienced both one summer and one winter and despite our fears for what those seasons would bring it has actually not been as bad as we both expected.  There were many rainy days in April and even some days on the cold side.  It was wonderful to see the many tulips planted by our Facilities Maintenance people bloom in the Women's Garden:

Our days have become busier with the assignment as Sunset by the Mississippi Coordinators for the senior missionaries. Sister Rober is teaching choreography to three different casts of 50-60 missionaries each.  I am helping her on the technology and music side.  That means we are at rehearsals every night except Sunday until the show opens on May 27th and at every show until August 12.  This has been a blessing in that it allows us to be around every missionary in the Mission on a weekly basis.  Normally you are with the same cast four nights a week and have two nights off. We are enjoying the challenge and the experience.  We are over half way through our rehearsal schedule.  There are only three weeks left and the last two will be coordinating with the Young Performing Missionaries who have just arrived in town.  The casts are becoming familiar with the show and I can feel an excitement building for opening night.

During our first year we did not take the opportunity on very many personal days (one per week) to travel around to nearby communities and feel the spirit of the Midwest.  We decided in April that we needed to take this opportunity so we took two trips to Iowa for spring festivals.  The first was to Kalona which holds a quilt show every year. It is one of the many Amish communities nearby. You know they are serious about their quilting when you see quilt patterns inlaid on the side walks in the city center. Almost all missionaries take home one special item as a remembrance of their mission. We bought a hand quilted bedspread to be our special keepsake.

Our other trip was to the town of Pella.  It is a Dutch community that holds a tulip festival every spring.  It was a very festive day.  Many of the townspeople dress in authentic clothes.  There is a parade, lots of Dutch specialty foods and a tour available of the town windmill.  It was a perfect weather day and a fantastic experience.

The visitors in Nauvoo continued to increase in April.  We are called as Missionaries to tell the history of the people who lived here 1839-1846 at the 25 various sites.  I am the Site Coordinator for our Brickyard.  In the Brickyard we tell about how the bricks were a symbol of permanence and beauty for the Nauvoo saints.  We explain how they made bricks and how the bricks are a firm foundation for building a strong house. We relate how our Savior Jesus Christ can be a strong foundation in our personal lives. As missionaries we make miniature souvenir bricks for our visitors. Most of our production takes place in the winter when the crowds are sparse. In the summer, we are very busy with the tours and pass out bricks from our inventory. Here is a picture of our store room. We are going into the busy season with almost 19,000 bricks in inventory.

We are so excited for many families members who will come and visit this summer and feel the spirit of Nauvoo. We are missing children and grandchildren but know they are being blessed as we serve here a Missionaries.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March - A Month for Baptisms

Looking like the beginnings of spring
Visitor Center flowers

The March weather here in the mission made me think I was back in my childhood in Seattle.  Can you say rain?  Lots of rain with mild temperatures in the 40's and 50's.  Looking forward to seeing some sunshine soon.  The trees are starting to leaf out and the tulips are breaking through the ground. The grass is getting greener and the farmers are happy with all the moisture as they prepare to start planting their corn and bean crops for the summer.

We had two large groups of new senior missionaries arrive from the Provo Missionary Training Center.  We have two other large groups arriving in April and May.  We started to have larger crowds in March from spring breaks in Utah, Colorado and Texas.  It is wonderful to see the earth replenished and bring forth beauty and start to feel the excitement build for the busy summer months. We are going to be down 10-20 missionaries from last summer.  There will need to be compromises on how the sites are staffed to get by with our reduced missionary force.  It is my understanding that the number of Senior Missionaries serving in the church is down 20 % this year.  We are taking our reduction along with all other senior missions in the church.  So everyone - turn in those mission papers and begin to receive a great blessing in your life to serve the Lord wherever that service may be needed!

During the slow winter months, I spent many hours in the sites working on a church missionary system called the Teaching Center.  It is a combination of call center, chat forum and a place for people to request for more information about the church. Senior missionaries here in Nauvoo, young Missionaries on Temple Square and young sister missionaries here in Nauvoo during the summer can participate.  We can monitor incoming communications from all over the world that originate on the website. This could be people who want to chat about the church.  It could be people who want a free bible or Book of Mormon.  Our job is to answer the requests and work with the people on the other end.  If possible, our goal is to have young missionaries throughout the world go to their homes and deliver a free Bible or Book of Mormon and share a message about Christ and the restored gospel.  I communicated with 800 people during the winter months.  From these 800, I was able to refer close to 400 people to local missionaries in Africa, Australia, the Philippines, South America, Europe and all over the US.  In March, I was blessed to learn that the local missionaries were able to baptize nine people that I had referred.  Overall, thirteen people have been baptized by local missionaries during my time using the Teaching Center.  It was such a special feeling to receive this news and follow up with either the missionaries or new converts to learn more about their baptisms.  The Teaching Center efforts will be a mission highlight memory for sure.

In March, Sister Rober and I began our assignment of teaching the senior missionaries their song and dance moves for the summer show Sunset by the Mississippi.  Make no mistake about it - Sister Rober is doing the teaching.  I am background technical and moral support.  The show opens on May 27th and runs until August 12th.  It is a high energy variety show featuring the very talented Young Performing Missionaries who will be arriving in early May.  Our goal is to provide joy through music and entertainment in this show on the outdoor stage every night except Sunday.

Sister Rober teaching Sunset show to senior missionaries

This month I would like to share some pictures of homes that future presidents of the Church lived in while they were in Nauvoo - Brigham Young, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff.  They are still beautiful homes today.  They were continuously lived in following the exodus in 1846 until the Nauvoo restoration began in the 1960's.  This is the reason they were preserved so well.  What you learn on the tours is that the future presidents lived mainly in log cabins and wood homes while they were in Nauvoo and only lived for a short time in these beautiful brick homes before being forced out.  I like how the church history department has made it a point to have all the dining room tables set with nice china in each home.  This teaches the principle of how important it is to have family dinners together each night especially in today's world.

Brigham Young Home

 Brigham Young Dining Room

 Brigham Young Council Room where many important meetings took place

John Taylor Home

John Taylor Dining Room

John Taylor Parlor

Wilford Woodruff Home

Wilford Woodruff Dining Room
Wilford Woodruff Parlor

Saturday, March 4, 2017

February - Is Winter Over?

February has come and gone.  The weather was quite variable.  We actually had two days that were in the 70's and some days that were in the 20-30's.  According to the locals, we have been blessed to have a mild winter.  Our mission covers two summers and one winter so maybe the cold is behind us. In about 4 months we will be wishing for some winter weather.

The crowds were small during the month.  We were lucky to have two very different horse rides during the quite time. The first was a sleigh ride across snow in the cold weather and the second was a ride on the mission limousine carriage during the warm weather.

Valentines's Day was on our Preparation Day during the month.  We were able to take a day trip to St. Louis for a celebration.  St. Louis is a three hour drive from Nauvoo.  It was quite shocking to be in a big city for a few hours with freeways and traffic.  We both love Thai food and have not had any since we left California.  It was a treat to celebrate the day with a Thai food dinner.  I have to admit I don't miss the freeways, traffic and big city.  It was good to drive back into our little town after the day. Unfortunately there are no In-N-Out burgers here in the Midwest.  It looks like that will have to wait until we return home.

One of the special treats for the month was a large migration of bald eagles along the river.  No one ever mentioned to us about the eagles.  They were so exciting to watch.  It was not uncommon to see 10-20 each trip to town.  The town of Keokuk, Iowa which is 20 minutes away, actually has an eagle festival event every February.

Take Off (Photo, Elder Johnson)

Six Eagles on Frozen River (Photo, Elder Johnson)

Snow Geese Arrived for Just a Few Days

Since other news for the month was quite, I thought it would be good to include a section on the animals we see here in Nauvoo.  We are loving the seasons and seeing all of the wild life and mission animals around the grounds of the mission.

Mission Horses

Turtles on River


It is starting to feel like spring is right around the corner.  Our tulips are coming up, the days are getting longer and the first batch of new senior missionaries has arrived for the year.  In three weeks we begin practicing for the summer show Sunset on the Mississippi.  We are excited for the summer because 5 of our 8 kids will be visiting during the Pageants in July this year!

We left home about one year ago.  This mission is a special blessing in our life.  Come and visit us if you get a chance!!

Love to everyone

Elder and Sister Rober