Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017 – Elder Kyle Johnson’s Mission Report, Report to High Council

This morning we had the privilege of attending Elder Kyle Johnson’s mission report in his home ward. He gave a great talk. He stood at the pulpit with no notes and spoke for 15 minutes quoting General Authorities, teaching us about the sacred history of Nauvoo, and relating personal faith promoting stories. He was great.

Technically this was not Elder Kyle Johnson’s mission report. He still has 18 months left to serve here in Arizona before he finishes his two year mission. You can say this was a report on the first quarter of his mission.  Elder Kyle Johnson is currently assigned to be a grounds keeper at the Mesa Arizona Temple.

This afternoon Sis. Johnson and I were invited to meet with the Alma Stake High Council and report our mission to the brethren. We took about 20 minutes and told them some of the very special experiences we’ve had during our mission to the Illinois Nauvoo Mission.

 Our report to the Stake High Council today was our final thing to do as we conclude our mission. This brings to an end a very wonderful and special mission experience for Sis. Johnson and I. We will forever treasure the memories and cherish the new friends we’ve made.  We pray our service will be an example to our friends, family and especially to our grandchildren for generation to come.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017 – Elder Allen DeWitt

This evening Sis. Johnson and I attended the musical play, “Meet Me In St. Louis” at the Hale Centre theatre in Gilbert Arizona. We were excited to go because our old friend Elder Allen DeWitt was one of the lead characters in the play.  Bro. DeWitt was a “Nauvoo Performing Missionary” both summers while Sis. Johnson and I served in the Nauvoo Mission. I’ve never seen anyone act, sing and dance with more enthusiasm.

Tonight’s play was very good and we enjoyed it a lot. Bro. Allen Dewitt did a superb job and we got to talk to him after the show. He’s been very busy since he returned from his mission last August. He has performed in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Kiss and Tell” and he was one of the brothers in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” For the past month he has been performing in “Meet Me in St. Louis” nightly and next week he will be performing in the Hale Centre Theatre’s holiday run of “Scrooge.” Wow, Bro. DeWitt has been busy! We are so glad we got to see him tonight.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017 – Our Mission Report in the Alma Ward, Mesa Alma Stake

This morning Sis. Johnson and I reported our mission in our Ward’s Sacrament Meeting. We were delighted that so many of our good friends as well as our family were able to attend and hear us speak. We have had the support of our friends and family throughout our mission to Nauvoo and we have appreciated their thoughtfulness and prayers for the past 20 months.

I did a count of our family and friends at the meeting and there was a very good turnout. There were 48 all together, including children. They were: Janiece & Jess, Charles & Charlotte Quist & 3 grandkids, Belva, Homer & Debbie, Jim & Betty Burk, Dan & Mindy + 5 kids, Jennifer Johnson Drysdale & 7 Drysdale clan, Barbara & Roland Farabee, Juliana Hansen, Wes & Tina, Jared & Tere & all three sons, Paul & Beth & 5 kids, Vera lee Naylor & Lucy Shuler, Jim & Sandy Burgess.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017 – Gilbert Days Parade

The float and the Gilbert Days Parade were another great success for our family and our flower shop. This is the 41st consecutive year our family has entered a float covered in flowers in our community parade. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017 – Mission Report Date

Sis. Johnson & I will speak in Sacrament meeting and report on our mission at 11:00AM on Sunday, November 19, 2017 in the Alma Ward, Mesa AZ Alma Stake Center at 2300 W. Javalina, Mesa, AZ. All are invited.

It is good to be home again with family and friends but we already miss all of our friends we left back in Nauvoo. We will treasure your friendship and the memories the rest of our lives. We hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend out mission report, hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 – The Future of “Rendezvous” according to Elder Randy Simmons

Facebook post by:
Randy Simmons to Loretta Sudweeks
Lorretta: I can give you a summation of what I took away from the luncheon from the comments that E Shultz made and others. E Shultz talked for a few min about the changes in Nauvoo. One of the mandates coming from the First Presidency and the Brethren is that they want to simplify some of the operations of the church. Nauvoo would fall in that category. Also what was humorous twenty years ago, is no longer humorous in the current political correctness generation. Mothers were concerned about some of the content in the Jed and Annie part and “high maintenance women” (my words not E Shultz) were concerned about the whole Geo and Agatha portion, numerous complaints were received by the brethren concerning both. Numbers of complaints had reached numbers high enough that the brethren had to address it. Rendezvous has simply run it course and is now offensive to the younger generation. It is gone, will not be back and will not be replaced by something else. Next: twenty four YPM’s will be called instead of twenty. They will perform in three groups of eight YPM’s instead of two groups of ten YPM’s. That will allow them to spread out and perform in Carthage, downtown and in Old Nauvoo. Also E Swain said that missionaries who have a lot of expertise in “Kiosk interactive Site” design where you push a button and listen to a story and video are being called and hired to convert historic church sites to require less senior missionaries. Sites such as Bluff, UT, the restoration of the priesthood on the Susquehanna River and Palmyra were mentioned. They are completely interactive now and only need a couple of senior missionary couples to manage. Wagon, carriage and Ox rides. I called President Hall last week and asked about the teamster program. I called to offer to come for six months to help restart the wagon rides. Pres Hall said there were no teamsters being called at this time. They are currently giving ox rides, which are very popular, and simply exercising the horses. But no wagon or carriage rides. He said he would like to see the wagon rides reinstated but had been given no direction from SLC as to the future status of either. He also said there had been in some discussion with the brethren about a six month mission for teamsters which he favored. Part of that discussion was that winter wagon and carriage rides were something that could be discontinued and not be detrimental to the mission. Also: the new mission president that was called, came down with some health issues and was not able to come so a new mission president had been called to replace him. He told me who it was but I forgot. In any case Pres Hall will be leaving in Jan and it will be up to the new president in conjunction with the brethren to determine the future of the teamster program. Since he would not be part of that he could not really comment on what that will be. However E McNight told me not to write off the horses yet. After the luncheon Darcy and I ran down to Panguitch to visit with the Daltons, Robsions and the Chamberlains. Then we went to the open house of the Cedar City Temple, then home in time to make our shift at the Vernal Temple this morning. Randy. Remember this is just what I took away from the luncheon, it would be great if E Shultz would give us a more accurate version, you know how easily second hand stories can get twisted. Say Hi to Larry for me.

Loretta Sudweeks Comment: Thank you Randy Simmons.
I need to get Larry to drive his new toy to your neck of the woods for a road trip. We miss you and Darci. I was not really impressed with the Kiosk interactive sites. I felt more and learned more from the Sister missionaries who took us down to the Hale homes in Susquehanna afterward and through the Kirtland and Palmyra sites. The interactive sites were in the Visitor's Center. They are a good start, but the human connection and spirit filled testimony are what really makes the church history sites breathe. Nauvoo is so much larger, I can see the visitor's center being updated, but I hope they don't take the kiosk idea into the sites. Those should still be shown by people. Visitors love the missionaries the best (besides the horses..)

Randy Simmons Comment: Thanks for all the feedback everyone, just remember that was my take. There are others who know more than I do (Shultz, McNight, Pres Hall, and others) hopefully they will keep us informed. The bottom line is Nauvoo is and always will be the City of Joseph and he still has great influence on what happens there and in Carthage. Its such a wonderful place and will continue to be so, it will always be the place where the light of the prophet Joseph shown the brightest. I'm so thankful I got to serve there.
Wednesday, November 08, 2017 – Garden Tools, Mission Report

Sis. Johnson and I have a tentative date for our talks in Sacrament meeting; it will probably be on Nov.19th. I will keep everyone posted when the date, time and location is firm.

We’ve been home from Nauvoo for a week and today I started my garden. It’s time to get the tulip bulbs in the ground but I needed some tools first. I learned how to plant tulips from the best, Richard Hancock, so I bought the best tools, the very ones Richard uses. It’s time to play in the dirt!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 – Elder Kyle Johnson Returned from Mission to Nauvoo

This afternoon we greeted Elder Kyle Johnson and his parents at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. His parents were with him on his final day at FM last Friday. Elder Kyle Johnson has served almost 6 months in Nauvoo as a Young Service Missionary, assigned to the Grounds Keeping crew. He has worked hard and served with distinction. He is everyone’s friend.

Although Elder Kyle Johnson has returned from his six month assignment in Nauvoo, his mission is not over. His calling as a Young Service Missionary is for two years. Now that he is back in Mesa, Arizona his next assignment will be to work as a grounds keeper at the Mesa Arizona Temple for the next six months. Elder Kyle Johnson will be very busy, a winter in Arizona is just like a summer in Nauvoo. October to April is the peck growing season. All of the Temple gardens will need a lot of care since they will be in full bloom and there will be lots of weeds to pull. Good luck Elder Kyle Johnson and keep up the good work.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017 – My Birthday, Arrived in Mesa AZ, Mission Release

I must start by saying “THANK YOU” to everyone that has given me birthday wishes in person and on Facebook. I appreciate each of you for your love and friendship. Thank you again.

We made it home to our other home in Mesa, Arizona this afternoon after 1500 miles of driving. We returned from our mission to our family and wonderful warm welcomes from those we love the most. They have all been such a strong support while we served our mission in Nauvoo. 

This evening we were invited to attend a grade school musical with our granddaughter Delaney. She played Peter Pan in the school musical, “Shrek.” The show was put on by the 5th & 6th graders and was very good and well performed. We enjoyed the show a lot. Delaney was great!

This evening we met with our Stake President, Pres. David Benson at his office in the Stake Center. He asked us to give a brief report on our service in the Illinois Nauvoo Mission. Then he read us the personal letter he had received from Pres. Hall expressing his love for us and our service in Nauvoo. President Hall’s words meant a great deal to us and were very touching and personalized. 

At the end of our interview with Pres. Benson he issued us our formal release from our missionary service. Then he asked us to do something that was very difficult for us to do. . . He asked us to take off our Missionary name tags. We took them off but they will never be forgotten. Our service in Nauvoo and in Carthage will be in our minds and in our hearts the rest of our lives.

We are not quite finished yet. There are still two things remaining to do. First is our mission report in Sacrament meeting in the Alma Ward. (I’ll let everyone know when that will be) And second, is our report to the Stake High Council in the Arizona, Mesa Alma Stake. We are looking forward to them both.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - Unpacking

We spent Thursday unpacking and putting things away before heading for the valley tomorrow. We went shopping for groceries and fresh batteries for all of our remote controles. They are all dead after 20 months of non-use.


 Sis. Johnson has come down with a cold and doesn’t feel very good. It’s a bad time to get sick. But I got all of the “Hopper’s and Joy’s” to work so she can watch her favorite TV shows like the Hallmark Channel and the Home & Garden Channel. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – We arrived in Eagar Arizona

We drove 371 miles today to arrive at our home in Eagar, AZ. We’ve been a little worried what we might find when opened the house. Our home has been “Winterized” and locked up for the past 20 months. But no worries, aside from dust on everything our home was in great shape. It is good to be home.

However our travel home still isn’t over. We still need to drive another 210 miles to Mesa AZ so we can report to our Stake President and be released. After we get unpacked we will head south to Mesa and our long awaited reunion with most of our family. We can’t wait to get to our real home.

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.