Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 – 514 miles, Sooner Cattle Co., Ree Drummond Pioneer Woman, Mercantile & Deli General Store

We drove 514 miles closer to home in Arizona today and made it all the way from Pawhuska, OK to Tucumcari, NM. It was a good day of driving.

 We started our trip by having breakfast with our host, our niece Wenda Johnson. She treated us to breakfast at the “Mercantile Deli and General Store.” restaurant in downtown Pawhuska. This restaurant is particularly important because it is owned and operated by Ree Drummond.

So, who is Ree Drummond? I asked. Well, I found out she is the “Pioneer Woman” who has launched a brand of kitchen and dining products, cookware, recipe’s, cook books, etc. they are available from Amazon, Walmart and Costco to name a few. I had no idea but she makes her home in Pawhuska, OK where our niece and her husband live. Ree Drummond and her husband, Ladd have a cattle ranch just outside of town. Ree is “The Pioneer Woman” and is an award winning food blogger and TV personality and she has put the little remote town of Pawhuska Oklahoma on the map. Who knew?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017 – Leaving Nauvoo, Passed Our Final Home Inspection, Four States in One Day, Wenda & Tyson Johnson

Well, the day of our departure has arrived. We were up and packed by 8:30 and ready for our home inspection which we passed. I made a last trip to the mail room to check one last time for mail. While I was out running my errands our resident herd of deer stopped to let me take their picture one last time. It was very considerate of them. I never get tired of seeing that herd of deer or taking their pictures.

As we started our drive home to Arizona we drove past the picturesque Nauvoo Temple on the hill one last time. As we drove by Sis. Johnson and I spontaneously broke into song. We began to sing one of our favorite numbers from our “Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo” show. It’s from the “Thomas & Elizabeth” vignette titled, “Farewell Nauvoo.”

And so Nauvoo, we say Farwell to you
With numb and aching hearts, one last Adieu
As through our tears we look to homes beyond
Could ever we be fond of one as you?

One cardinal’s song, one sunset’s glow
One Nauvoo dawn, one silhouette of woods on snow
From templed hill faint echoes ring
Where prophets walked and talked with God
Their memories linger

And so we go and hide our aching hearts
No one will see our tears when we depart
This home we leave will shelter memories clear
Of all that we hold dear in Old Nauvoo
Farewell Nauvoo – Farewell Nauvoo

Next we sang another favorite song from the conclusion of “Rendezvous” titled “Little Town.”  This song too is very touching that concludes with these two lines:

“Where time cannot erase
Our days in Old Nauvoo with you.”

We had to choke back tears as we sang. A fitting way to leave Nauvoo, the place we loved to work and serve. Where the spirit testifies of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Where those early pioneers worked so hard, sacrificed so much and set such wonderful examples for generations to come. 

We headed south down a very familiar stretch of highway beside the Mississippi River enjoying the scenery, the fall leaves and the wild life. And then, almost like it had been scripted, a majestic Bald Eagle did a “Fly by.” He paralleled our car flying beside us just a few yards away in a final tribute. He was so close we felt like we could have reached out the car window and touched him. Then he peeled away and was gone. How beautiful, how majestic and how fitting on our last drive down the Mississippi River.

 Our first day of driving we went through four states, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. We stopped for the night at the home of our niece, Wenda Johnson, and her family in Pawhuska, OK. Her husband, Tyson is the manager of the Church’s 70,000 acre cattle ranch in Pawhuska. We didn’t arrive at their home until 9:00pm. In spite of the lateness, we stayed up very late visiting and enjoying their company. Thank you Wenda & Tyson, we really enjoyed your hospitality.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017 – Killing Frost, “Be Still My Soul,” Elder Kyle Johnson, Pres. & Sis. Hall

We woke up to our first killing frost this morning. All of our pretty Coleus plants and Tomato vines at our house were covered in frost. A few hours later, when they thawed, they were all limp and dead. The frost caused the Ginkgo Biloba trees at the Visitor’s Center to drop their frozen leave. It was a very pretty sight.

This morning’s church services were wonderful and very timely for Sis. Johnson and I. Our Sacrament speakers, Elder & Sis. Spradlin along with Elder Duvall, told personal faith inspiring stories that touched our hearts and inspired us. Then later in combined Priesthood & Relief Society class Elder & Sis. McCoy continued in the same vain as they told pioneer stories of the Saints as they left Nauvoo 171 years ago. Now, since Sis. Johnson and I are “leaving Nauvoo” too, the morning’s meetings really pulled at our heart strings.  And then, appropriately, the closing hymn was “Be Still My Soul” which is one of Sis. Johnson and my favorites. And this beautiful hymn helped us find our composure as we continued to say goodbye to so many of our good friends that we are leaving behind in Old Nauvoo.

 Elder Kyle Johnson normally attends the Nauvoo First Ward in the afternoon with the other Service Missionaries. But this morning he attended with us and all of the Senior Missionaries. Our block of meetings start at 7:50am. Elder Kyle Johnson wanted to be with us during our last Sunday of meetings. He is a wonderful grandson. Thank you Elder Kyle Johnson for coming to church with us.

After church we had our final interview with the Mission President, Pres. Hall and his wife. They are wonderful examples of hard work and service to our Heavenly Father. We love them and will cherish always our memories of Pres. & Sis. Hall and our service in Nauvoo with them.  

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017 – Trailer is Fixed, Deer, Frankenstein on the loose at “Boo-tiful Nauvoo” with Crazy Dancer

It has taken four tries but we got the trailer lights to work today. I hate it when electrical problems are intermittent so when you think all is repaired, the glitch rears its ugly head again. But they work now and we’ll be able to leave on Monday morning as planned. Thank you Kendall Gallaher for your time and help solving my problem.

One of the things Sis. Johnson and I have enjoyed about living in Nauvoo out in the woods at the end of a cul-de-sac is the wildlife. We get to see Deer, Cardinals, Blue Jays, colorful Woodpeckers, Hawks, Eagles, Raccoons, Possums and Groundhogs. Almost daily a herd of Does and their fawns wonder through our yard. They are a beautiful sight and we never get tired of seeing them.

A couple of weeks ago Elder Kyle Johnson was asked to be Frankenstein and participate with the other Senior Missionaries in tonight’s “Boo-tiful Nauvoo” parade and festivities in downtown Nauvoo. Elder Kyle Johnson was in his element dancing and performing for the crowds along the parade route. He is a natural born entertainer.

It was a chilly night; the temperature was in the high 30’s but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit. The Senior Missionaries had three entries in the parade down Mulholland Street. The “Boo-tiful Nauvoo” parade and festivities was a huge success again this year. People come to Nauvoo from all over the tri-state area to enjoy the parade, food and festival.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017 –NRI Flag & Last  Day of work, Pumpkin Carving, Wash & Vacuum Car, The Changing of the guard

This morning in our FM prayer meeting, FM’s Director Jordan Bodily, presented Sis. Johnson and I with our FM memento, the FM logo and flag. Today was our last day of work at FM along with two other Senior couples, Elder & Sis. Burningham and Elder & Sis. Smith.  We’ve come to know and love the Burninghams and Smiths. We’ve all worked in different departments in FM yet we’ve always worked side by side in spirit to make Nauvoo a beautiful and inviting place where visitors can feel the Spirit and know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth in these Latter-days.

It only feels like yesterday that Sis. Johnson and I arrived and began our 20 months of service. Time has really flown by fast and soon it will all seem like a blur in our memories. But we will never forget the wonderful Seniors and FM Staff we were privileged to serve, work, perform with.  We will always cherish the memories of these wonderful friends.

 Tomorrow is the big event in Nauvoo called “Boo-tiful Nauvoo.” The pumpkin carving is still going on and they will all be ready for Saturday’s, Halloween Parade and Festival in downtown Nauvoo. It’s going to be great.

Before we said our final goodbyes we had a small ceremony in the “B” Building. Since this was our lasts day there was a changing of the guard. I presented Sis. Archibald with my set of FM keys, my pruners and my soil knife. She will do a great job.

 After work we went right at it again deep cleaning our home in preparation for our final home inspection on Monday morning before we leave for home. There is still a lot left to do but the work is coming along nicely.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017 – Pumpkin Carving, Lyon Drug & Arbor Cleanup, Deep Cleaning, Dinner at E&S Beecher’s

Let the pumpkin carving begin! Today bus loads of students as well as local residents and Senior Missionaries came to the FM Compound “B” Building to start carving about 500 Jack-o-lanterns for this weekend’s “Boo-tiful Nauvoo” Festival and Parade.

 The fateful day arrived. . . We took all of the annual plants out of the Lyon Drug Herb Gardens. That included all of the beautiful Marigolds, Caster Bean plants and Gourd vines on the arbor. A killing frost is forecast for this weekend so their days were numbered anyway.  But WOW, they sure were beautiful while they lasted and it was a genuine pleasure to walk the paths of the gardens of Lyon Drug and enjoy the beauty.

This afternoon after work we were back at the chore of deep cleaning our home in preparation for our trip home next Monday. Today’s cleaning included the master bedroom and the kitchen. Sis. Johnson has been deep cleaning every day after work this week. There is still a lot to do but we are making a dent.

This evening we had a delightful dinner at the home of Elder & Sis. Beecher. They are in our Rendezvous cast and we’ve come to know and love the Beechers for their example of hard work and dedicated missionary service. They are great and we will miss them when we leave. The Beechers are the Nauvoo Pageant Coordinators and they put in tireless hours every day preparing, screening, selecting and scheduling volunteer pageant cast members.