Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday, July 31, 2016 – Sis. Johnson has a cold, YPM’s Hymn, Brickyard, District Mtg. & Dinner

Sis. Johnson woke up “Under the Weather,” with a sore throat and low grade fever, probably a cold. To be safe and not spread her illness she didn’t go to church this morning. I went and thoroughly enjoyed the meeting. We had a special musical number by the YPM’s (Young Performing Missionaries).  They sang “I know that My Redeemer Lives.” 
They sang the song and all of the verses, just as they are written in our hymnal but they put the words to a different tune. It was a tune I’ve never heard before, and WOW, what a powerful and moving rendition of that favorite old hymn. The new tune put so much emotion into the words that I can’t describe what I heard well enough here. You’ll have to take my word for it, the YPM’s and the hymn were great!

Sis. Johnson and I were scheduled to serve at the historic “Brickyard” site all afternoon. But when I showed up to serve we discovered that there were too many couples scheduled and the site leader sent me home to take care of my wife. That was very nice of him and Sis. Johnson is already feeling better.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016 – Preparation Day, Clean & Wash the car, Country Market

For P-day, “Preparation Day, we didn’t do anything fun. We did work for a couple of hours though. We cleaned and watered the grounds of the visitor’s center.  The sidewalks always need cleaning and if Sis. Johnson hadn’t watered the flowers; they wouldn’t have made it until Monday, our next day to work. 
We worked at home too. Since it’s P-day we did a deep cleaning of our home as well as washed the car. We also did our weekly shopping at the local “Country Market.” We are very fortunate to have a Country Market in Carthage. Nauvoo doesn’t have one.
The Country Market chain has more than 100 independently owned stores operate in a dozen+ Midwestern states. They are part of the SuperValu Inc. Company and they favor small towns which is what Carthage is, a very small town of only 2800 people. The Country Market is right across the street from the visitor’s center and our home.
This evening we were about to leave for Nauvoo to perform in “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” when I went to get my keys out of my pocket to start the car and the keys weren’t there. They were in the house and we had just left the house, locked and shut the door behind us. A sickening feeling flooded over me as I realized I had locked us out of the house. Thirty minutes and five phone calls later the problem was solved. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016 – Fog & Cooler temps, Mail from home

This morning we were very surprised and delighted to see fog as we went to work.  In fact the whole day was cool and pleasant. I mowed lawns all day and usually by noon I’m drenched in sweat but not today.  
For tonight’s show of “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” it was perfect weather too. Usually we are hot and sweaty for our performance but not tonight. What a great change in the weather we are having. We need to enjoy it while it’s here because I know it won’t last long.
While we were in Nauvoo Sis. Johnson and I checked our mail and surprise! More mail from home and this time a real treat. We received a large envelope from our son Daniel and wife Mindy. It was a hand drawn picture done in pencil by Daniel of their son Carter. Wow, how precious, Daniel is very talented. We love the drawing. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday, July 28, 2016 – Comments by children, Cicadas
The following are some “Short Sweet Stories” Sis. Johnson has experienced and written down as she has worked on the grounds here at the Carthage Visitor’s Center.  One of these stories happened today and the other was a few days ago.

Sis. Johnson:

Today a young boy of about 5 years of age came to me as I was trimming plants in the planters of the Visitor’s Center. He said, “Thank you for making everything beautiful.” His mom said that he will be going to kindergarten this year.  It was such a sweet kindness from someone so young. Love, it!
Another sweet, sweet story happened last week as I was cleaning the flower beds. A young boy (probably 3 years old) said as he looked at the Visitor’s Center and statue of Joseph & Hyrum, “Oh yeah, I remember this place.”  I couldn’t help but think to myself, when did he see this place before? He was so small and young, how could he remember it? He was too cute!!
It has been Cicada season in Illinois for the past month or two. For some time the noise of the Cicadas has been deafening!  At least that is what Sis. Johnson tells me, personally, I can’t hear them at all. I suffer from a condition called tinnitus or “Ringing in the Ears.” What the ringing in my ears sounds like is a room full of Cicadas all screeching at once. So I hear Cicadas 24/7 all year, not just in June and July.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 – Mission Trg. Mtg. Dallyn Bayles, Meeting with Scott & Jordon, Cemetery Cleaning, Farewell Lunch for Casey Cluff
Our very busy day started at our weekly mission-wide training meeting. We listened to Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy speak to us about our service as missionaries. His talk was very brief but good. He kept his comments short because the best was yet to come.

Our Mission President, Pres. Hall said there were many Seniors who’s schedule are so busy it precluded any chance for them to see the various vignettes being performed around Nauvoo by the “Core Cast” of the pageants. So, Pres. Hall made a special request of the Core Cast actors to perform two of the vignettes for us as part of our training meeting this morning. 
So, the Core Cast actors put on “Go Ye Unto All the World” and “King Follett Discourse.” (See my posts, Friday, July 22nd and Saturday July 23rd)  And, OH MY GOSH, once again the actors did a marvelous job. The spirit was so very strong as actors portray those early Apostles and the Prophet Joseph Smith reenacted the early years of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We really loved it again.

And, if that wasn’t enough . . . at the end, Pres. Hall asked Dallyn Bayles to sing two of the hymns of the restoration to us. First he sang the same hymn the Prophet Joseph asked John Taylor to sing in the Carthage jail only an hour before the martyrdom, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” You’ve not heard anything so sublime yet powerful until you’ve heard Dallyn Bayles sing this beautiful hymn in person. Then he sang “Praise to the Man.” And once again with the feeling and meaning that you can only get from an up close, in person solo by one of the great artists of our day, Bro. Bayles had us all completely enthralled. I kept looking at the clock on the wall and saying to myself, “I hope this never ends!” This morning’s mission-wide training meeting was the best. Wow, what a wonderful experience!
 Next, Sis. Johnson and I were called into the office of Jordan Bodily of FM (Facilities Maintenance) for a special meeting that included our boss, Scott Higley. Bro. Bodily is assistant director (second in command of FM) under the director Casey Cluff.  Both Jordan and Scott praised our work on the grounds at Carthage and then they got to the reason for the meeting. Sis. Johnson and I were asked, starting this Fall, to be the head grounds keepers over all of Nauvoo! Of course we were delighted to say yes and excited about this future responsibility. 

At the Carthage visitor’s center we have been responsible for about 6 acres of landscaping, in Nauvoo we will be the caretakers over more than 500 acres! However there are already mowing crews so I will probably not be mowing everyday like now. And, there are watering crews, so Sis. Johnson will probably not be watering everyday like she does now. But there are over 500 planters and flower beds we will have to care for and maintain. We will learn more about our specific responsibilities later.

For the time being we will stay in Carthage doing what we are doing now probably until October. Once we move to Nauvoo in late October things will be a lot slower for everyone in FM for the colder months.  Sis. Johnson and I will most likely spend the winter splitting our time between working in the greenhouses at FM and being tour guides at the historic sites in Nauvoo. But, all of these plans must be approved by Pres. Hall first. At any rate we are very excited to know what we will be doing for the next 14 months.

For the rest of the morning, about three hours, Sis. Johnson and I worked with Sis. Susan Knapp. She is the current grounds keeper for all of Nauvoo. We will be taking over from her in October. She is a great and hard working lady. She’s been our friend for the past four months because she performs with us in the “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” cast. 
This morning’s cleaning assignment with Sis. Knapp was very special. The Community of Christ Church, (formerly the RLDS church) owns and maintains about a quarter of Nauvoo and associated historic sites, including the original home of Joseph and Emma Smith, the Mansion House, the Red Brick Store and the Smith Family Cemetery. Both churches, our and theirs, work very well together and on occasion they’ve asked us to help out. We were asked by the Community of Christ’s grounds keeper, Minister Rick MacGregor, if we would clean the grounds of the historic Smith Family Cemetery.  Next week there will be a very large Smith Family Reunion there and Minister MacGregor is trying to make everything look nice for the event. Of course our FM department is glad and eager to help whenever the need arises. 
For lunch today we were invited to a special farewell luncheon put on in honor of Bishop Casey Cluff, managing director of FM. Bishop Cluff has accepted a larger and more difficult job with the church. He will be the Church’s Facilities Maintenance General Director for the Eastern United States. In particular his new assignment will be to maintain the physical facilities, grounds and buildings for nineteen temples east of the Mississippi.
To make Bishop Cluff’s new job even harder, he has asked to be allowed to continue to be the Bishop of the Nauvoo 1st ward for the remaining two years of his calling. So, Bish. Cluff will be commuting 750 miles to his new office in Atlanta Georgia so he can remain the Bishop here and fulfill his new calling there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 – Doctor’s Appt. for Sis. Johnson, “Sunset by the Mississippi”

This morning we only worked on the grounds of the Visitor’s Center for a couple of hours because Sis. Johnson had a Doctor’s appointment scheduled for 10:30AM.  The appointment was with Dr. Jennifer Berge, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Keokuk, Iowa.  For the past two months Sis. Johnson has been experiencing constant dizziness and vertigo.  
Two months ago we thought her dizziness was related to a cold she had or allergies to local pollen which was everywhere. At the time the mission doctor, Dr. Rasmussen, prescribed an antihistamine. However the relief was only temporary and Sis. Johnson has felt like she’s been on the deck of a ship in a violent storm ever since. I often hear Sis. Johnson singing "Sit Down, Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" the song from the 1950’s hit Broadway Musical “Guys and Dolls.”
Dr. Berge was very good. Sis. Johnson’s diagnosis was “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo” (BPPV). It turns out there is a simple and quick treatment for the condition and the doctor performed it right in the doctor’s office. When the doctor was finished with the treatment, Sis. Johnson already had relief from the dizziness. Now, we are hoping and praying she will not have a relapses or any more bouts with vertigo. We are very hopeful and excited about the future prospects.
(Post Script: This tree is a “Horse chestnut” and the condition is called “Leaf Scorch.” It happens mid-summer when it is excessively hot and dry. However there is no known cause and no known cure. The tree will recover without any lasting effects.)

Tonight we performed in “Sunset by the Mississippi” for the ninth week. We have two and a half weeks left before “Sunset” is finished for the year. I discovered a clip on “You Tube” by Kinsey Bright (one of the YPM’s) of my narration in the “Tribute to the Armed Services.” This was recorded just a few weeks ago. Here’s the link: (You may have to copy and paste the link in your web browser.)
I hope you enjoy it. If you search in You Tube using “Kinsey Bright Young Performing Missionaries 2016” you can see several segments of “Sunset by the Mississippi” that the Young Performing Missionaries perform in. The seniors are sitting in the background and if you look real close you can see Sis. Johnson and I.   

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016 – Dinner with an Amish family

This evening we went to Bonaparte, Iowa to the home of an Amish family, John & Marie Bontrager. They own a bakery and a woodworking shop. John Bontrager is friends with Elder Ramsey, here in Nauvoo. Elder Ramsey found out that the Amish family cater dinners and can handle meals for up to 75 people. 
Elder Ramsey spread the word to all of us in the “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” cast. There were about 40 of us that were interested so he put together dinner reservations for us to eat with the Bontrager family tonight.
The Amish do not want their pictures taken. I talked to Bro. Bontrager and he explained that it is OK to take pictures inside and out of their home, business and property. He just asked that neither he nor any of his family be in the picture that is taken. That is why in all of the pictures I’ve taken you won’t see any of the Bontrager family.
Bonaparte, IA is 55 miles north of Carthage and the drive there took us a little over an hour. But it was well worth the trip. The food was wonderful and Sis. Johnson and I along with all of the other 40 or so had a very good time. We got to meet and talk to all of the Bontrager family. John and Marie have 8 children, and that includes two sets of twins. The children range in age from 17 to 2 years old.  They are hardworking, industrious and polite kids, simply a great family.