Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring Has Arrived

It has been quite awhile since I, (Elder Rober), have lived in a location where there were so many trees without leaves in the winter.  It has been amazing to witness the coming forth of spring and the beauty associated with the change.  The grounds at the Temple and Visitors Center have been spectacular:

We are beginning to settle into our busy schedule.  The crowds picked up around Easter as many families came to visit on their spring breaks. We are in a slower mode now but that will change as many school tours will be coming through in the month of May.  We have received 50 new missionaries (counting us) since mid-March.  Another 25 will arrive in the next three weeks. Our mission will be close to 180 senior missionaries at that point.  Most all of the missionaries are on 18 month missions.  In September and October around 75 missionaries will go home to lower our numbers in the quiet winter until the next spring buildup.  We already hate the think of losing the good friends we are making who are experienced at all of the sites and shows and helping us learn.

Two weeks ago we received 30 sister missionaries who will be here through September.  At that time they are sent on "outbound" missions to other states.  About half of the ones we received were here last summer and will now complete their last six months in Nauvoo mainly working in the Visitor Center.  We had a fireside last Sunday and they all reported about their outbound experiences in Houston, Washington DC, Montana and Virginia.  On May 6th we will be receiving around 40 Young Performing Missionaries.  They are very talented in song, dance and instruments.  They are called as missionaries for four months each summer.  Half of these are in a brass band that plays at the Sunset on the Mississippi Show every night and during the day they play on a horse drawn wagon at many locations.  The other half are in day time shows and the nightly Sunset Show.  They are unbelievably talented and full of energy. The best time to visit Nauvoo is in June-August when they are here.  The busiest month here by far is July when the two Pageants run Monday-Saturday from July 5-30 this year.  

There are around 25 of our senior missionaries who are called as Teamsters to work with the horses and oxen involved in the wagon tours and carriage rides.  I am developing a love for these marvelous horses.  Every morning at 8 am they are called in from the pastures to the barn.  In the barn they each have a slot with their name above it where they have learned to go each day.  They have an order they understand on lining up to enter single file and never miss finding their slots.  We went for a carriage ride out through the country side last week that was very beautiful and spiritual as the Teamsters told us faith promoting stories about many of the Saints who were in Nauvoo.  The animals add a special spirit to the mission.

Several people have asked me what is my favorite part of the mission.  My answer is always the people we meet here.  The other senior missionaries are so fun and inspirational to be with at the sites, church and other meetings.  They bring many years of faithful service to the mission from all walks of life.  The other group of people are those who come to visit from all over the world.  It is wonderful to meet them and share the experiences of the sites and the examples of the faithful Saints who lived here from 1839 to 1846.  Here is an interesting fact I learned since arriving.  When the Saints fled Missouri under the extermination order put out on them, they crossed the Mississippi and were taken care of by the wonderful people of Quincy Illinois (60 miles South of Nauvoo).  What I didn't know was that 5500 Saints were taken in by the 1500 people who lived in Quincy at that time. What an act of love and compassion by the Quincy people.  One of my favorite conference talks this month was from Elder Kearon who talked about his European assignment and experiences meeting several of the refugees entering Europe from the mid-east turmoil.

I am so grateful to be here in Nauvoo.  We are looking forward to the excitement of the summer season and so glad we were able to arrive in the first group so we can get more confident in our tours and shows,  My testimony is growing for the people who lived here and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, especially for Joseph and Hyrum Smith who sealed their testimony with their blood and to the many saints who died on the trail crossing the plains to the west.

Sister Rober:  Nauvoo is so beautiful here with Spring flowers in full bloom. Being here is truly a dream. We are very busy each day in the sites and in the evenings performing in "Rendezvous In Old Nauvoo"  and rehearsing for "Sunset On The Mississippi" which will be up on the stage the end of May. Elder Rober recently performed in the Mission Talent Show by playing his "Nauvoo Boogie" (or "In The Mood" ragtime.) He was a big hit and I was so proud of him. We are meeting amazing people each day who come to visit Nauvoo from all over even as far away as Australia recently. Non-members often comment on "the feeling" here. They feel something very special here, We served at Carthage this past week for a day and had a most remarkable opportunity to feel the spirit there especially in the martydom room. It was truly a gift to be there. We have ancestors who lived here and made the Exodus with the Saints. I am hoping to have more time to do more research here. We are busy all the time with our schedule and soon, the summer schedule will be even busier (and we love it!!) 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Arrival at Nauvoo

We arrived here on Thursday night March 17,  The following day we met with our Mission President, Garth Hall.  He is from Idaho and worked as a college football coach for Ricks, Oregon State and a few other teams.  He was previously a Mission President in Orlando.  He began his service in January and will serve for two years.  He will be our mission president for our entire mission.  We were assigned as site missionaries.  There are 25 sites and a visitor center here in Nauvoo that we staff every day during the week including Sundays from 1-5 pm. After just two weeks we have been assigned to the print shop, bakery, brickyard, blacksmith shop, visitor center, tin shop, seventies hall, Browning gun shop, cultural hall, Lyon Drug Store and Sarah Granger home.  We have a site book that has summaries of the history for each site and spiritual messages we can learn from that site. While serving in the sites we wear period clothing.  We wear church clothes when serving at the Visitor Center,

Normally we are assigned separate sites every day.  On Sundays we serve together.  Here we are at the Print Shop on our first Sunday.

Leah inside the Print Shop

Larry at the Blacksmith.  Using the forge, hammer and anvil we make a small horseshoe out of a small cylindrical rod.

Our schedule is very busy.  Here is an example of my very first week.  In the summer the sites start and end time extends one hour on each end and we do two Rendevous Shows each night.  You can see that Susan Easton Black is now in town and she is doing two lectures a week.  They begin at 8:30 PM We are so tired at night we are having a hard time staying awake in her awesome presentations.

The town population is 1100.  There is one gas station, one supermarket, one police car and one pharmacy.  The closest Walmart is in Keokuk, Iowa which is around 30 minutes away.  Nearest Sam's club - one hour in Quicny, Ill and nearest Costco - 1.5 hour in Iowa City.  We are totally enjoying the smallness.  It is 1 minute to get gasoline, 2 minutes to the temple, 3 minutes to church and 5 minutes down the hill to the sites.  Last week on our Preparation Day we visited Amish country in Iowa. Other day trips we can take are to Springfield to see the Lincoln Museum and Hanibal to see a Mark Twain exhibit.

We are living in our own house that the Church rents from someone.  We have a piano for Leah's music, two bedrooms, a dishwasher and a detached two car garage.  We are feeling quite at home. Harry and Nancy Schultz who served here and left late last year also lived in the same house. We agree with their assessment that it is like living in your Grandmothers house.

It is a real blessing to be serving in Nauvoo,  Each day we are learning more about the history and trials of the people who lived here between 1839 and 1846.  Their stories are so inspirational and as we learn about them it increases our testimony that the Lord's hand was involved in all of the events to advance the church through this time period.  We love the Lord, his Son Jesus Christ and being missionaries.

Love to all - Elder and Sister Rober

Monday, April 4, 2016

Travel and MTC

Dear Family and Friends,

We have set up this blog to share our mission experiences.  It has been a busy few months preparing the Shamrock house for our move and rental.  Everything went very well.  We were blessed to find a good couple to rent to.  They have no children and even agreed to babysit Leah's piano while we are gone.

We left for the Mission Training Center (MTC) in Provo on March 5.  There is no question in my mind that the MTC experience will be a key highlight of the mission experience.  Our first week of training was on the Preach My Gospel Manual.  It was very intensive but we definitely came away better prepared in the techniques and methods to be better missionaries. During our training we taught two lessons to "investigators".  They were church members living in the area who play the role of an investigator.  They gave our teachers feedback on how we did.  Our testimony of the Preach My Gospel Manual grew immensely during this week.  I would encourage all church members to utilize this manual more in their lives.  Not just for missionary work, but for the wonderful references to scriptures on every gospel topic that can help in lessons and personal study time.  In the second week, all senior missionaries receive training specific to their assignment. In our case for Nauvoo, we received Visitor Center training for two days.  We spent most of one day at Temple Square learning from the Sister Missionaries and their leaders who serve at that location. 

Here is our MTC map picture:

During our week there were 140 senior missionaries training.  It was the second largest group in history.  Of those, 28 were going to Nauvoo.  There were around 1500 young missionaries also in training.  The facilities were very nice and comfortable.  I can't imagine the responsibility of keeping track of everyone coming and going each week and planning all of the meals.

This is our Nauvoo group:

We are making new friends for life on our mission.  

During our MTC time we attended multiple devotionals and firesides.  They were all so spiritual and inspiring.  Every Tuesday a General Authority comes and talks to all the missionaries.  We had Elder Pino of the Seventy and Elder Allen who is the head of the entire missionary department.  Before every event one of the young missionaries presents a special music number.  The talent of these young people is incredible.  On Monday nights there are training videos shown in multiple rooms and languages.  They are presentations that Apostles and other leaders have given during their Tuesday visits.  They were one of the Spiritual highlights of the MTC and can only be viewed at the MTC.

We left the MTC on March 16 and arrived in Nauvoo on March 18.  We drove here on I 80 which almost parallels the path the Saints followed on their pioneer trek.  It was hard not to think of their tremendous sacrifice while we moved along at 70 mph in a heated car when it was in the 30-40 degree range outside.  We stopped at the new Winters Quarter visitor center and Temple in Omaha on our route.  It was good to get a feel for the history of that time period since our Nauvoo tours pretty much end at the crossing of the Mississippi beginning in February of 1846.

We miss everyone and hope you can feel the Spirit of our mission through this blog.

Love - Elder and Sister Rober