Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday, April 30, 2016 – P-day, Homes, Pam’s flowers
For P-day we headed out early across the Mississippi for Keokuk, Iowa which is the closest large town to Carthage. In a light rain that lasted all morning we did all of the necessary things that need to be done on P-day. We had photographs printed, got our hair cut and did our shopping for grocery and other items at a couple different stores.

While shopping Sis. Johnson couldn’t resist the temptation and bought fresh flowers for our home. Nice! Back in Carthage, as we drove down main street Sis. Johnson mentioned how much she loves the old homes on both sides of Main Street. They are beautiful and some must date back a century or so. Even though some need a new coat of paint they are charming and their style is very picturesque.
These old homes with a front porch on streets lined with shade trees and with sidewalks 8ft back front the curb remind me of my youth. In the first grade I read from books called, “Read with Dick and Jane” and “Fun with Dick and Jane”. These reading books had pictures of Dick & Jane’s front yard with huge majestic shade trees.  Beyond the front yard was a side walk and beyond the side was more lawn out to the curb. The home had a large front porch that went from one end of the house to the other and the roof had a steep pitch to it. As a child growing up in Arizona all of these images were completely foreign to me. I didn’t know anyone that lived in a home like that. Well, the authors of those “Dick and Jane” books must have grown up in Carthage, IL. because the homes & streets hear look exactly like the pictures in my first grade reading books. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016 – Mowing at the Bushnell House, Old homes of Carthage

Our daily work schedule is becoming very predictable. We mow and clean the grounds at the Visitor’s center twice a week, Monday & Thursday. We mow and clean the grounds at the Bushnell House twice a week, Tuesday & Friday. The unpredictable part is rain but this week the rain didn’t through the schedule off.  It rained twice, first it rained all day Wednesday, but Wednesday isn’t a mowing day so it didn’t mess up our schedule. Then it rained Thursday overnight but by Friday morning it was dry enough for me to be back on the mower and Sis. Johnson had the sidewalks cleaned and ready for that day’s visitors. 
Today was the Bushnell House’s turn for mowing. Sis. Johnson stayed at the visitor’s center all day cleaning the parking lot while I mowed at Bushnell. I loaded all of my tools in the little black trailer and towed it behind the mower. It worked great. 
We drive in to Nauvoo four evenings a week for play practice. Tonight we rehearsed “Sunset by the Mississippi”. The road we take to Nauvoo is called The River Road. Lately every time we’ve driven it we’ve noticed families of geese with their goslings beside the road. Usually we pass them to quickly catch a picture of them but this evening I got my photo opportunity. There were three families of geese crossing the road and all the traffic had to stop for a minute or so.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016 – Rain, Tulips Damaged

My new rain gauge got put to good use last night. Until midnight last night a tremendous thunder storm rolled through our area. We got three quarters of an inch of rain.
But, it wasn’t the ¾ of an inch of rain that is the story this morning. It was the powerful wind with it. Big drops of rain carried by 40 mph wind can wreak havoc with a garden. This morning Sis. Johnson wanted to cry. About half of all the beautiful tulips have lost their petals. They really look sad, Sis. Johnson said, “It was a massacre!”
Of course we knew this was going to happen about now anyway. Tulip petals don’t last forever. Over in Nauvoo the tulip beds are further along than here in Carthage. Most of the tulips in Nauvoo have lost all of their petals.

Next week all of the tulip beds in Nauvoo will be stripped of tulips and replaced with bedding plants for the summer. We were told the flower beds in Carthage will be the last to get the new bedding plants.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 – Pres. Hyte, Wood from Carthage Jail, Rain Gage
Last week we heard that Pres. Richard Hyte, (1st Counselor in the Nauvoo Mission Presidency) had been hospitalized. We were asked to pray for him. We didn’t know why but we were told his condition was serious. This morning at our 7:30 mission-wide training meeting Pres. Hyte was present on the stand and gave us a report on his health. He said during a routine procedure the doctors discovered he had advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. Pres. Hyte said he has had surgery and is receiving treatment. He was very positive and upbeat. He really looked great. He emphasized that his first duty and concern is to be well and continue his mission in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission. He said his mission isn’t over; he has a lot of work left to do. Sis. Johnson and I, as well as the whole mission, continue to pray for Pres. Hyte.

After the training meeting we went to the mission offices to make a request of Sis. Wheeler. She is one of the mission schedulers. Sis Wheeler and Sis. Stroud are responsible for all of the assignment schedules for all of the senior couples in the whole mission.  Arranging and coordinating each week’s schedule is a huge job that takes several days for the two sisters to complete.

While we were in the scheduling office Elder Stroud showed us a picture of the Carthage Jail hanging on the wall.  The photograph is believed to have been taken around the turn of the twentieth century and is the oldest known photograph of the Carthage Jail. However it is the frame around the photograph that is significant.
Two years ago during the winter months of 2014-15 the original roof of the Carthage Jail, built in 1839, was completely removed and rebuilt. The old planking over the roof trusses were all solid oak but were rotted and weak in some places which meant the whole roof had to be replaced. The demolition crew only thought to through away the old oak planks. The Elders & Sisters working in the Carthage Visitor’s Center acted quickly and saved all of the old wood that wasn’t rotted.

The old oak planks were sent to the FM (Facilities Management) wood shop in Nauvoo. There, Elder Couch during his free time, used the wood to make small picture frames with a print of the old jail photograph for every senior couple in the mission! Larger picture frames like the one hanging in the mission offices were kept by the mission for decoration of the offices, etc.
The oak planks from the roof of the Carthage Jail were “Just pieces of old wood” but they are far more than that.  They were the original wood planks used in the constructions of the Jail. They were there and “Witness” to the events of June 27, 1844. They were on the roof when the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred. It would have been a tragedy if they had just been thrown away like so much trash. Thank goodness the wood was saved to bless the lives of so many senior missionaries and generations to come.

Back at work, we were at the FM offices in Nauvoo to pick up supplies for the rest of the week. Back at Carthage we weren’t able to do much work on the grounds of the Visitor’s Center because it rained all day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 – Corn, Spraying Dandelions
This morning we were at it again, Sis. Johnson was cleaning sidewalks and she still keeps finding hidden leaves to rake that were left over from last fall! I was on the mower at the Bushnell house for a couple of hours.

On the way to the dump/burn pile this morning I noticed the new crop of corn is up. Last week the local farmers were scrambling to get their corn crop planted before last Tuesday’s rain hit. Today all of the local fields have new tender corn plants shooting up out of the ground. Some of them are already 3 inches tall. The Midwest is known for its corn and all of it is up and growing as far as the eye can see. 
We spent a couple of hours spaying the dandelions and clove with a broadleaf herbicide. Scott was on the tractor and I used the hand sprayer in all of the corners and tight spots the big boom sprayer couldn’t reach. We were almost done when something really bad happened.  We say a flash of light to the southwest. Scott and I looked at each other and waited for the thunder. Yes, it was a thunder storm headed our way. Within minutes it was raining hard and washing off all of the herbicide. Scott’s comment, “I think we just wasted our morning of work”. Oh well, maybe some of the spray had time to dry. We’ll know in a week or so if any of the dandelions & clover got a lethal dose. 
We spent a couple of hours spaying the dandelions and clove with a broadleaf herbicide. Scott was on the tractor and I used the hand sprayer in all of the corners and tight spots the big boom sprayer couldn’t reach. We were almost done when something really bad happened.  We say a flash of light to the southwest. Scott and I looked at each other and waited for the thunder. Yes, it was a thunder storm headed our way. Within minutes it was raining hard and washing off all of the herbicide. Scott’s comment, “I think we just wasted our morning of work”. Oh well, maybe some of the spray had time to dry. We’ll know in a week or so if any of the dandelions & clover got a lethal dose. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016 – Sweep & Mow, Painting, Rescue Marchello’s

Most of today fell into the “Routine” category. We started the day sweeping  & blowing sidewalks, scrubbing bird poop off of the sidewalks and more raking. The rest of the day I was on the mower. Carthage Jail Visitor’s Center sits on a whole city block so there is a lot of lawn to mow. 
While I was on the mower, Sis. Johnson painted the steps into the jail with “Caution Yellow” paint. Last week when she asked the building maintenance people for the paint, masking tape and brushes, they said no! Since we are “Grounds Keepers” and not on the “Building Maintenance” staff it isn’t our job. But . . . Sis. Johnson is a painter from WAY back and kept assuring the fellow over the paint department that she could do the job right. Then, to everyone’s surprise he gave in and gave her the materials she asked for.  Sis. Johnson is not only persistent; she’s a good painter too. Her painting job looks great.
This evening after the visitor’s center closed for the day, Elder Horlacher rang our door bell to tell us that a family, the Marchello’s, were in the parking lot and needed help. He & Sis. Horlacher had to leave for Nauvoo  for play practice and wanted to know if we could help them. Hey, we’re missionaries and that’s what missionaries do best, we help people.

It turned out the family was from Boise Idaho and either their battery was dead or the alternator was out.  After a trip to the tool shed for a hand full of wrenches I discovered that a 2007 Ford Focus doesn’t use standard wrenches so I was off to the tool shed, this time for metric wrenches. Then after a battle of wills, man against battery post clamp, we finally won and got the battery out. After some experimentation we finally decided it was a dead battery, not the alternator. Chandler (the son) and I headed for Keokuk, 20 miles to the west, to buy a new battery. 
After about 3 hours the new battery was installed and working nicely. Sis. Johnson invited the Marchello’s for dinner with us and they graciously accepted. We got to know the family very well, so well in fact, that we’re now “Friends” on Facebook!  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016 – District Meeting, Peonies Plants in bud

Once a month, usually the third Sunday evening, all of the districts in the mission have a training meeting.  Since Sis. Johnson and I live in Carthage, we are in the Carthage district.  For now there are three couples in the district. However, by the end of May there will be two more couple added to bring the total to five. There are six YSSM’s (Young Single Sister Missionaries) living here in Carthage too but the YSSM’s have their own separate districts from the Senior Couples. 
Tonight we had our Carthage District monthly  training meeting at the Bushnell House. The meeting started with dinner and it was very good. Sis. Johnson’s assignment was the dessert, “Blondies”,they are kind of like “Brownies” only blond.  A training meeting can’t go wrong if it starts with good food and good friends.
The Theme of the training was on The Holy Ghost. Each of us took a heading from “Preach My Gospel” pg. 89-102 and taught about it. Sis. Johnson spoke about The Personage of the Holy Ghost. Mine was on The Gift of the Holy Ghost. Others spoke on The Power of the Holy Ghost, The Holy Spirit of Promise, Gifts of the Spirit, etc.

I want to emphasis how blessed all three couples feel about being assigned to work and live in Carthage. This place holds such deep historical and spiritual meaning for us and all Latter-day Saints. During tonight’s training on The Holy Ghost, each of us referenced our comments to the powerful feeling of the Holy Ghost we all feel as we work and serve here. This place is truly “Hallowed Ground”. We are so very blessed to be here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016 – Plant flower bed, St Louis, MO. YM’s tour

Early this morning, Sis. Johnson and I planted our flower bed in the front of the house. It turned out very nice. There are geraniums, alyssum, petunias, and pansies. In the back of the house we planted four tomato plants in the garden plot there. We found out from our boss at FM that we may have some of the leftover bedding plants when the Nauvoo grounds staff have finished all of the planting in May. We are very excited to get more flowers for our flower beds.
This morning we had a large group of Youth arrive at the visitor center. They rode their bikes in from Nauvoo this morning. I talked to one of their leaders; they are a Ward Youngman’s group from St. Louis, MO. They camped in Nauvoo at the State Park last night. Early this morning they all biked from Nauvoo to Carthage, about 23 miles. There were 15 youth and four leaders. After they loaded their bicycles, they all went into the visitor’s center and took the tour of Carthage Jail. They were a great group of Youth and leaders. They said they do this every year with the young men, what a wonderful tradition. It’s only 185 miles from St. Louis to Nauvoo. What a wonderful blessing to live so close to this historic and sacred place and to be able to bring youth here every year.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016 – Dump, Sweep, Spray, Rake, Mow, Nursery, Play practice, Sunset

First thing this morning was a trip to the dump/burn pile with another large load. Next we sprayed ant poison on the brick sidewalk leading to the visitor’s center. With the warmer weather, ants have become active and created hundreds of little mounds of sand all along the walk. It is very unsightly and our job is to make the grounds look good. 
We also swept all of the sidewalks, raked more leaves, stick & twigs and I finished the day on the lawn mower.  But, the grounds are in a crisis, the dandelions and clover are winning! We’ve discussed the problem with our boss at F.M. and next week, if the weather permits, he will send out a large sprayer to kill all of the dandelions and clover in the lawns. In the mean time all I can do is keep mowing them down. The grass is still too short to be trimmed by the mower blades. The dandelions puff-balls are very tall and unsightly and the mower takes care of them very well. The problem is, within two days they are all back.
We left early for play practice tonight in Nauvoo so we could stop at a nursery on our way.  It is out in the country half way between Carthage and Nauvoo. Sis. Johnson was excited to pick out several different bedding plants for our two little garden plots in front of our house.
 Tonight in Nauvoo we had another practice for the play: “Sunset by the Mississippi”.  Afterward we were driving on the street in front of the temple and saw another beautiful “Sunset by the Mississippi”. This time the scene was framed with the iconic statues of Joseph & his brother Hyrum on horseback as they said their final farewell to Nauvoo. They left to surrender themselves to the authorities in Carthage on June 25, 1844. It was the last time they saw their beautiful Nauvoo and the beautiful temple on the hill overlooking Nauvoo.
(Update on the attic fire of our son & daughter-in-law’s home yesterday. Good News! It’s only been 24 hours and their insurance company is really coming through for them. All of the carpet in the whole house has already been remove and will be completely replaced. All of the ceiling drywall has been torn down and has been removed. The entire house will be refurbished, cleaned and repainted. The estimate is the job will take three weeks. In the mean time the insurance company has put the family in a suite at the Marriott hotel in Mesa.)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016 – Work at Bushnell House, Dinner with YSSM’s, T&J’s house fire
The highlight of our day was our dinner appointment with two of the YSSM’s (Young Single Sister Missionaries). Just like in our home ward, a list was sent around to sign up to feed the missionaries. Sometimes in a home ward the available spaces are not all filled in and the missionaries don’t get fed every evening. But that isn’t a problem here in Nauvoo/Carthage. With 60+ senior couples all wanting to feed the missionaries the YSSM’s are well taken care of.

The sisters we had over for dinner were Sis. Wood (from West Valley City, UT.) and Sis. Goble (from Killeen TX.) They are serving here in the Carthage Visitor’s Center so we get to see them on occasion. Sister Goble is a new missionary but Sis. Wood was here a year ago and served mainly in Nauvoo. Sis. Johnson prepared a wonderful spaghetti dinner for us. It was Mmmm Goood! 
After our dinner appointment, Sis. Wood & Sis. Goble are assigned to work in the “Teaching Center” in the visitor’s center computer room until 9:00PM. They will be on the computers “Chatting” on LDS websites with people from all over the US and around the world. They will be discussing the gospel, teaching lessons, answering question, following up on previous chats and collecting referrals.
Today was another full day of work at the Bushnell House. I finished the mowing & weed eating and Sis.  Johnson finished raking and bagging leaves from the flower beds. We finished just before the rains came. It was a downpour and lasted until late in the afternoon so we weren’t able to take our loaded dump truck to the dump/burn pile. If it isn’t raining tomorrow we’ll go then.

This evening we were shocked to see our daughter-in-law, Tere Johnson, in a “Selfie” with a fire truck in her front yard. It had fires hoses running into her house! The AC air handler in the attic caught fire. Thankfully everyone got out OK and no one was hurt. Tere told us later on the phone that the damage is mostly water damage but it is very extensive. The family, Jared & Tere, sons Ethan & Tyler are spending the night in a hotel.  Their other son, Kyle is in Texas with his other Grandpa. Our love, support and prayer go out to them.