Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holiday Season Begins

Fall leaves outside of the Browning Gun Shop

Holiday Greetings from Nauvoo.  The weather in the month of November was quite pleasant.  As can be seen from the above picture, there were still pretty leaves early in the month.  That ended quite abruptly on December 4 when the first snow of the year arrived and temperatures are now in the 10-30 degree range - welcome winter!  The picture below is our little Nauvoo house in the first storm.

December 4 Snow Storm

I was thinking that winter was going to be a easier time here with the crowds being much smaller. What I didn't consider is that with the missionary force down from 200 to 100 people it is necessary that we work 9:30 - 5:00 every day.  In the busy summer months there are three schedules.  We either start at 12, end at 3 or have a 12-3 break in the middle of the day.  We are finding that there just doesn't seem to be as much free time in a day to take care of business around the house or in town for shopping. During our shifts now it is not uncommon to have no visitors in a day.  All of the sites have wi-fi and good furnaces so we use our computers, read books and/or work on the many Humanitarian projects the mission is doing, like quilts, knitted caps, stuffed bears, among others.  I spend time on a computer program called the Teaching Center where I can chat and e-mail people all over the world who express an interest in receiving a free bible, Book of Mormon or have questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is a great blessing to our mission.

The mission had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  This time of year we miss the holidays with our families but it is a time to share the holidays here with our mission family. The food was fantastic and the company amazing. We truly love our missionary friends.

Sitting by Elder and Sister Beecher

The Temple Missionaries joined in for the dinner
On the night of December 2nd, the mission hosted a community Christmas activity that included a tree lighting, live nativity production, wagon rides, food and caroling.

Visitor Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (every ornament represents a site)
Sister Rober was the Director of the Live Nativity production with Elder Rober doing lights and sound.  She and Sister Melody Van Horn had lots of fun creating the amazing new costumes to make the evening even more memorable for the cast and audience. The spirit was felt by all as we testified of our Savior,  Jesus Christ's birth and mission. We performed the 15 minute program three times that night with a repeat performance Sunday evening for missionaries who had assignments outside the visitor center and could not attend.  Here are some pictures of the nativity production. You can view the production at the following link:

I was in charge of sound and lights.  This is the lighting control panel in the booth.

Our amazing cast of missionaries.  The production was a spiritual experience for everyone depicting the events of the birth of our Savior.

The Technician with the Director.

The sites are all decorated for Christmas which makes the area very festive and beautiful for the Christmas season.

Brigham Young home decorated for Christmas
Nutcracker helping make horse shoes at the Blacksmith Shop
As of this week we are passing the half way point of our mission.  We can't believe how fast the time goes by.  It continues to be a wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord in such a historic and spiritual city. We look forward to our 2017 mission experiences.

We wish everyone a joyous Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Elder and Sister Rober

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Joseph and Emma Smith, Nauvoo Women's Garden (Photo by Pickle Barrel)

October was an interesting month in the mission.  I was thinking the crowds would continue to diminish but that was not the case.  There were many bus tours and visitors in October making the sites more crowded than September.  They were mainly people wanting to see the leaves turning but also people hoping for that perfect weather month - not too hot or too cold.  They were not disappointed on that front.  The weather was actually above average levels.  In fact for the city Halloween activity it was 80 degrees and it was pleasant because the humidity is gone.  We did have one morning where we had to scrape ice of the windshield to remind us of what is on the way.

Almost all of the corn and soy beans have been harvested from the fields. The fall colors are quite spectacular.  Here are some examples near some of the famous historical sites.

The Red Brick Store

Joseph Smith Homestead (Photo by Pickle Barrel)
Mansion House

Nauvoo Temple

On Halloween, the City of Nauvoo hosted a Boo-ti-ful Nauvoo Festival.  They estimate 5,000 people came to our little 1,000 person town.  The missionaries were involved in the activities and parade. The main street was lined with over 500 pumpkins that were carved with great skill by members of the community and missionaries.  The high light of the day was an old fashioned Halloween parade open to anyone who wanted to march in their costume.  It was a fun night for everyone in attendance and the mission to be a part of the activities.

Lots of work carving pumpkins

Very detailed and artistic talents

Senior Missionary Halloween wagon with entertainment

Sister Rober was in charge of music and choreography

Costume Parade

In the winter months there will definitely be more free time in the sites including a few days where no one may come into a site. During this free time the missionaries can study and/or work on humanitarian projects.  We are blessed that starting this year our missionaries have received access to the Teaching Center.  This is a world wide internet based system where people can call, text, chat and e-mail their questions about the church.  The Church also makes free Bibles and Book of Mormons available to those who request them.  As a missionary, we can log on and click on people who are routed to the system with their questions and requests.  It is amazing to me to see how many people are logged in to and send in requests seeking answers to their questions.  We can answer their questions and, in cases where they approve, have missionaries deliver the books or make personal visits to further answer their questions.  We can stay in touch with the people and become their friends as they meet with the local missionaries.  I am participating every minute I can find on the system.  I have been in contact with people from Ireland, England, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil and many US States. In our historical mission we don't have many opportunities to meet and know people more as they pass through our site to the next.  This is giving those who want to participate a chance to engage in more conventional proselyting work.  

We are enjoying our mission.  What a marvelous opportunity to meet so many people who visit and contact the Teaching Center.  We are making new friends with our fellow missionaries.  We are experiencing a change in seasons and seeing the beauty of the Midwest and the Mississippi River.  We are learning so much more about Church history and the church members who lived here between 1939-1846.  We are learning about the Midwest and getting to know some of the people who now live here and call it home.  We are learning about farming and the big part that it plays in the lives of people living here in America's heartland. We are enjoying our little grandma house in this very small town that receives 250,000 visitors every year who want to learn more about the history and see the spectacular pageants.  We are learning of the great joy that comes from being a missionary and testifying about our Savior Jesus Christ and the restored gospel.

There are Thanksgiving and Christmas activities planned for the community and mission.  We look forward to our holidays here in Illinois but we will miss being around our family and friends. Thank goodness for social media and Facetime to see and feel the excitement of the grand kids.

All our love,

Elder and Sister Rober

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fall Has Arrived

It's official that colder weather is on the way.  This morning we had to use the ice scrapper for the first time on the windshield. The last month has been quite pleasant with temperatures in the 60's, 70's and 80's.  The leaves are starting to turn.  By our next update there should be many good pictures of colorful trees.  The picture above was taken in the flower bed in front of the Browning Gun Shop.

We were blessed to have Elder Ballard, an Apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, come to the mission since the last update.  He talked to all of the site missionaries for about one hour. His message was that the world is changing more everyday to a more difficult place to stand for truth and righteousness.  He encouraged all of the missionaries to take time to bear their testimonies of the Gospel to our families back home, especially our grandchildren.

We are getting close to our winter missionary staffing.  There are still a few couples leaving this month and in November.  The good news is we received five new couples this week.  After that, we should be somewhere near 100 missionaries for the winter. With the reduced winter hours (10-5) we are ending up working the whole shift quite often instead of partial days in the summer 9-6 summer schedule. The crowds slowed down after Labor Day but for the last few weeks we have had several bus tours and other visitors coming through.  This last week we have had several nights where two Rendezvous Shows were required because of the crowds. With the ending of the Sunset Show, we definitely feel like we have more time available in the evenings since we now only have two Rendezvous nights a week.

With a little more time available, Sister Rober and I have taken a few trips on our Preparation Day to interesting museums near here.  Our first trip was to Springfield to see the Abraham Lincoln sites. They have restored his home and neighborhood and there is a fantastic museum telling about his life. We learned many things about him in the museum and gained much respect for the difficult time he had to watch over a horrible war in our country's history while at the same time holding out to end slavery and unite a divided country in the aftermath.  Springfield is about 2.5 hours from Nauvoo and is worth the side trip for anyone planning a Nauvoo vacation.

Our second trip was to Hannibal, Missouri.  It is 1.5 hours from here and is the childhood home of Mark Twain.  They have a museum and village there also but it is not the scale or quality of the Lincoln sites.  He definitely had an interesting life and it is easy to like his style of speaking and writing.  We were very lucky that the day we arrived one of the big riverboats docked for the day. That looks like an interesting cruise and way to see the grand old Mississippi River.

The are 26 Sites here in Nauvoo that we can serve in.  Here are some pictures of the Sites I normally serve in:

Blacksmith Shop

Browning Gun Shop

Riser Boot Shop

Family Living Center

Sister Rober spends time serving in some of these Sites:

Cultural Hall (Home of Rendezvous Play)

Print Shop

Brigham Young Home

John Taylor Home

Heber C. Kimball Home

Sarah Granger Kimball Home

Wilford Woodruff Home

I am tempted to write something about each Site in these updates but that would not do them the justice they deserve by making a personal visit. If I told you all of the details you might decide to not visit and that would be a mistake.  The reason is that you can not feel the Spirit of this town in a written summary.  There is a special feeling to know that you are walking the same streets as the well known pioneers in church history.  In the Nauvoo Pageant, the narrator of the performance is Parley P. Pratt.  In the show he makes the following statement - "When you are here, we are here with you". I want to affirm that is true. These are special streets and they were special people who lived in this town.  As we get the chance to talk about them in our tours we can feel they are indeed here with us.

I want to give credit in this blog to Elder and Sister Heslop.  They have gone home but during the end of their mission time they were assigned to be mission photographers.  Many of the pictures in these posts were taken by them, or other missionaries, and they did a great job of compiling and documenting these pictures for all of the missionaries to have great memories of our missions. Thank you Heslops!

Love from Nauvoo
Elder and Sister Rober

Friday, September 2, 2016

End of Summer

This is our MTC (Missionary Training Center) Group.  In what seems like a blink of an eye we are now 6 months from the date we entered the MTC.  We can't believe how fast the mission is passing by and what a wonderful blessing it is to be called to serve here in Nauvoo.  Today was a sad day. We had a breakfast honoring 20 couples who are returning home in September following their 18 month mission.

In October and November another 20 couples will leave.  They are marvelous people who trained us at all our sites and were examples to us in every aspect of the mission.  We love them and will miss them.  They will be friends for life.   The best part of serving in this mission is the people - our fellow missionaries and the guests who come into our sites and see our shows.

We will be going from around 180 missionaries to 100 for the winter months.  There will be occasional days where we may not have anyone visit our site.  It will be such a change from the hectic summer months.  This is a very unique mission in several ways.  The summer/winter effect is definitely one of the major unique aspects.  You may ask what will we do to pass the time. In the past our missionaries have worked on humanitarian projects in the sites in addition to reading books and working on family history projects.  This winter we will be blessed with another option.  We will have access to the Church online Teaching Center. This program has links to the many Church websites that people can request contact with missionaries regarding questions they may have about the Church or receiving a free copy of the Bible or Book of Mormon. It is my understanding that only missionaries at Temple Square and Nauvoo are connected to this program.  I have been testing it.  It is amazing to see how many people are online and want to receive more information.  I have talked to English speaking people in Brazil and Europe.  It will give us an opportunity to get more personal with people who have an interest.  It will be a different environment than our tours where we testify of Christ and deliver Spiritual messages but only occasionally can talk one on one with the guests.  I am excited to make this tool an important part of the winter time.

With the departure of the stalwart couples in the next few months, the torch is being passed on some leadership callings for next spring and summer.  Sister Rober and I have been called to be Directors of the senior missionaries in the Sunset by the Mississippi Show.  Our job will be to train them on the music and choreography for all of the numbers involving senior missionaries in the show.  Obviously my resume had a small part with us being selected but the mission will be blessed with all of Sister Rober's experience in performances and teaching dance and theater to her students.  We are excited to work together on this project.  Elder Harry and Sister Nancy Schultz, personal friends of ours, were just called as the Directors of Nauvoo Entertainment and they have responsibility for the Sunset and Rendezvous shows.  We are excited to have the chance to work with them on our Sunset assignment. Here is a picture of Sister Rober with Elder and Sister Schultz (on left) and Elder and Sister Lowe. Sister Lowe is the Director of the Rendezvous Show.  Everyone one in the picture were members of the BYU Young Ambassador group many years ago.

We have already started one of our winter projects regarding the show. There is a children's parade in the Sunset Show every night.  Before the show, they get to color paper hats that they wear in the parade.  Our job is to prepare around 3,000 folded hats for next year's shows. We are distributing the materials to the sites already to have other missionaries help in the production of the hats.  I am also taking on the winter project of learning the banjo to be a potential member of the accompaniment band.  This may not be a good thing for my companions at the winter sites.

It is hard not to look back on the fantastic summer experiences and the spirit of the Pageants and other summer shows.  I feel I have written enough for this month but do want to share several pictures to help you share in our mission experiences.

Here are our 2016 cast pictures for the Sunset and Rendezvous shows.

My favorite summer shows were the BYU Folk Dancers and Vocal Point Group.

Here are a few additional Pageant pictures.  The first is the Young Performing Missionaries dancing in the Nauvoo Pageant. The second is the finale scene of the British Pageant.  The Senior Missionaries were invited to the stage to sing in the final number.  We did it a few times and it was fun.

And last but not least, here is a picture of Elder and Sister Rober enjoying serving as companions in this mission. The mission has been an wonderful opportunity to become closer in our lives!

Love to all!

Elder and Sister Rober

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pageant Month

July is over.  It was amazing!  This little town was buzzing with people and activities.  Around 55,000 people attended the Pageant performances.  Our tours at the Sites were very large every day.  Many Stakes brought youth groups to Nauvoo for their youth conferences.  Several of the groups had 200 people - I can remember groups from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Idaho, Alabama, Utah, Minnesota, Kentucky, Texas (several), Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado and Arizona.  The weather was warm (85-95) and moderately humid all month.  The heat index, which takes the humidity into account, was over 100 several days.  The worst day I remember reached a heat index of 115.  We are handling that part OK.

We are called to be Site Missionaries.  As I think back about the experiences, especially at popular Sites like the Blacksmith Shop and Browning Gun, it was not unusual to have days where we led 400 people through the tours.  At each Site in addition to telling about the people and their activities we always share a spiritual message regarding the restored gospel relating to Jesus Christ, Christ's atonement, faith, obedience, the temple, families, the Priesthood, modern day prophets, repentance and baptism.  What a wonderful opportunity to meet so many people and share our messages.  Even though many of the people are members of the Church, I know that they go home more inspired to try a little harder to be better disciples of Christ as they learn about the experience of the Saints in Nauvoo.

There were two Pageants.  The British Pageant is the story of the Mormon missionaries who traveled to England to preach the Gospel.  They had tremendous success.  The Nauvoo Pageant is the story of building up this city and completing construction of the temple.  They are both excellent.  We saw them several times as we attended with visiting company.  Each time was better than the time before. There is something special about a spiritual message delivered in music and dance.  Here is a sample of two of my favorite scenes from the Nauvoo Pageant:

It was a blessing to have many visitors in July.  Our son Clint was here later in the month.  The Vaughn's from P2 and the Sy's from YL 4 were in town.  Leah's cousins, the Pittard's came for a visit. For a few days there was a reunion of 7 of the 14 original Young Ambassadors who were on a 90 day tour of Asia and the Pacific with Leah 46 years ago.

We are loving our mission and the opportunity to meet so many people coming on our tours.  It seems like every day in July we met someone who was here visiting and had no idea we were here.  We are meeting so many outstanding new friends serving with us as missionaries.

I will close by showing a picture of a famous Nauvoo sunset over the Mississippi River.

Love to all,

Elder and Sister Rober