Monday, February 6, 2017

The Exodus Reenactment

Preparing for the Exodus Walk Program

On February 4, 1846 the Mormon people in Nauvoo began lining their wagons up to begin crossing the Mississippi River for the west.  Their Prophet, Brigham Young, knew in late 1845 they were going to have to leave their beautiful city to flee for safety and avoid a civil war.  After taking an inventory of the people and wagons on hand, he determined they would need to build over 1,000 wagons in a few months time.  He asked everyone to help the local blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and wainwrights with this monumental project.  This was going to be an exodus unlike any other in United States history.  An entire town prepared to leave to find a new home where they could be safe and worship as they desired.  At this time the population of Nauvoo had grown to around 12,000 which was very close to the population of Chicago.  They had only been in Nauvoo for six years but in that time had made it into a beautiful city which included 350 brick homes.  They had just finished construction of their temple on the bluff overlooking the river. It took 5 years to complete just months before they left.  Crossing the river was only the beginning.  It would take the saints many months to cross Iowa to Winter Quarters (Omaha, Nebraska) where they would stay for the winter of 1846-47 before Brigham Young's Vanguard Company left for the rocky mountains in April of 1847 to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.  Can you imagine the faith it would take to walk away from their beautiful city, their homes and the temple?  Can you imagine the courage it would take to climb in a wagon in sub freezing temperatures that would continue across Iowa and begin a journey to an unknown location?

On February 4, 2017 our mission had a reenactment activity to remember the great sacrifice these people made to leave Nauvoo.  It will be a memory of our mission that Sister Rober and I will never forget.  We walked down Parley Street to the river on a day when the wind chill factor was 18 degrees wearing name tags of ancestors we had who lived in Nauvoo.  At the end of Parley Street was a flag ceremony and program honoring the many pioneers who died en route over the approximately 20 years they crossed the plains.  We were outside for the walk and program for slightly over one hour. It took a few hours to warm up after that.  We felt that when we snuggled in our warm bed that night, the pioneers didn't have that luxury. They endured the bitter cold in their wagons. There were even 9 babies born that first night. It would be months before they would be warm again.

The Exodus Reenactment will be a highlight mission memory.  It was a significant spiritual experience that will change my view of Parley Street forever.  We know that the hand of the Lord was with these people on their journey.  They could not have done it without the help of the Lord who they put their trust in.  They did have great faith and courage.  They were obedient to their Prophet who said they must leave for their safety.  Brigham Young had seen in a vision the place they were to settle. One and one half years after crossing the Mississippi the pioneer companies began arriving in the Salt Lake valley.

Several faith promoting stories of ancestors in Nauvoo were shared at a Mission Exodus Fireside. Nahum Curtis, great great grandfather of Sister Rober had an amazing conversion story. In 1833, in Michigan, after Nahum and his wife, Millissant Waite,  had head the missionaries, they were laying in their bed conversing about principles they had heard for the first time, when they noticed their room began to get light. It got lighter and lighter until it was as bright as noonday. They then heard a voice say: "Nahum, the Book of Mormon is a true record of the ancient people who lived on this continent." Their whole family was then baptized and they joined the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. Later, in Nauvoo at the time of the Exodus, Nahum and his family packed their wagon and walked through the difficult, muddy streets to leave Nauvoo. His family camped for 2 weeks while Nahum went back and forth to and from Nauvoo helping others cross the Mississippi. He wore himself out helping others then died in Nauvoo in March, 1846 before he, too, could leave with the saints. He is buried in the Old Pioneer Cemetery in Nauvoo.

Exodus Reenactment activities:

Sister Rober Sharing About Nahum Curtis at the Fireside

Staging for Walk

Parley Street, Flags from Ancestor Countries

Program at the River

The Nauvoo Legion

Elder Lowe Facing West Playing Taps to Honor the Memory of Those Lost on the Plains

End of a Remarkable Day in the Nauvoo Mission