Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What can I give Him?

One of the missionaries here is an artist/author. Her name is Sister Meacham. She has published several children's books. For Christmas this year, she gave each of a print of this picture. For her, it represents the gifts that we give to the Savior. Each of us has something that is uniquely our talent that we can share with others. That is the gift we can give to Him. He gave us the gift to serve others, and if we use it, we have given the very best we can give.
I feel so blessed that I am here where so many sacrificed so much. I am so thankful to be a missionary and am allowed to represent the Lord, Jesus Christ in this portion of the vinyard.

Christmas at my House

So many kind and thoughtful people have shared Christmas with me. The decorations on the tree are from missionaries here in Nauvoo. The gifts around Snoopy and Snoopy are gifts from friends and family. I haven't opened everything yet because I wanted to have something to open on Christmas. What a blessed woman I am!!! Thank you to all who remembered me with cards and pictures and gifts and emails. I love you all. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

O Christmas Tree

Notice the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree? Linus and Charlie Brown say the lines from A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus quotes from Luke 2. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

A Foreign Mission

I keep saying Nauvoo is a foreign mission because most of my experiences are foreign to what I remember missionary work being. One such thing is the TV?DVD combo you see. But the Christmas is the Charlie Brown and the nativity. When my companion came in and saw all this, she said, "I love living with a kid". She couldn't have said anything more significant to me. I'm not a grown up, and I'm proud of it. If you haven't read The Little Prince that President Uchtdorf quoted in the Christmas broadcast, you won't understand, but to me, being called a grown up is an insult, so she gave me a great compliment.

Dining Room Table

The leaf on the table folds us, so that's where we eat. But this is the scene you would see as you walked in to the front door of our home. My companion found the tree that opens up to a nativity. I ordered the pryamida. I couldn't stand not having one. It wouldn't be Christmas for me without one. I made the stockings one night while my companion was at Rendevous at Old Nauvoo. She was very surprised to find them when she got home. Thanks to some very kind people sending some things and money, there will be things to fill the stockings on Christmas Eve. It might not be such a surprise to Geilmann, but I'm sure Longhurst has no idea what's coming.

My bedroom and Christmas

The picture on the wall is from Mongolia. It represents the rest of the Christmas. The "Tree of Life" is there (although the Mongolians don't see it that way). If you look closely, you can see animals stacked on each other helping one another reach the "fruit" of the tree. That's what this is all about. There are so many people who help me along the way. You will see some of my pictures. I have another wall that I have received for Christmas, but there's a lot of stuff there, so I didn't take that picture. You'll see my family, my mission family, my stake family, and my love of Germany that will ever be with me. You'll also see a "walking stick" made by one of the elders in the mission. He went out and found walking sticks for everyone in the mission, whittled away some of the impure parts and let us each choose one. There are so many kind people!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This has been a very slow week as far as visitors to Nauvoo is concerned. We have had very few people here. But we were blessed to have some people today. I had convinced myself it would be another day of much reading. Instead, we had three tours back to back and I was allowed to conduct all three. It's amazing what a little bit missionary work can do for a missionary's belief in the work and hope for people to receive the gospel. I believe!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Live Nativity

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not a great photographer. They sang and read the Christmas Story. It was nice. But the thing I want to point out is the couple who is in the shadows. This is John and Peggy Ricks, with whom I served in the Pageant. They were out casting for next year. They had looked all over town for me, and I came here just when they were here. The thing that meant the most is that they know I'm a capable individual, and they love me, as me. What a blessing to have good friends.

Pendleton School House

This story got to me. It was about an 11 year old boy whose mother died and he went to live with his aunt, who didn't love him, just took him in out of duty. But he had a teacher who loved him. He stayed around every night and helped out. For the week before Christmas he didn't stay. She wondered what the problem was and went to visit with him and he said, "I'm just busy." But the day before Christmas vacation, he waited around and then handed her a box. She opened it and it was "empty". He told her it was filled with love and love is the best gift. He told her he would always love her and when she looked at that box, he hoped she would remember that.

Print Shop

The print shop is where most of the printing in Nauvoo was done. This one was managed by John Taylor, whose home was right next door. The Christmas walk included The Night Before Christmas. The brother started to skip a line and without thinking, I corrected him. I read this to too many kids too many times, I guess.

The Post Office

This is the first stop we made on the Christmas Walk. Each year the missionaries host a walk through some of the sites and tell stories about Christmas in Nauvoo. This was a very touching one about a family who learned why the Atonement is really the best gift. You will notice the sister is out of focus because I wanted to get the pyramida. Even the early Saints in Nauvoo knew class when they saw it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nauvoo Temple on a wintery day

This is taken through the fog from the window in the cultural hall. I love that temple so much. The other day I had the opportunity to do work for one of my relatives. For the first time I felt connected to my family in Nauvoo. It was such a great blessing.

My Stage Debut

This was my companion from the MTC. Sister Steadman and I have been "chosen" to be the greeters of the Rendevous at Old Nauvoo. Actually, we were the only ones left without a part, and so that's what we were given. I love the part, however. We get to go around and talk to people before the show. Then we introduce the show, give the opening prayer and actually have a duet to begin it. This is my stage dress. I told the ladies here that I have never been dressed so well in my life. This is the first custom made dress I have ever owned in my life.

In case there's any doubt

My whole life I have been called a real turkey. I have irrevocable proof that I am. I participated in the Nauvoo Mission turkey gobbling contest. At first, I was the only woman, and finally some other sisters decided to participate. I think I'm a real shock to this mission. The couple that was responsible made these cookies and those of us who participated, got one. Embellishing from Much Ado About Nothing, "Let it be known that I am a turkey!"

Third Floor of the Cultural Hall

This is one of my favorite places in Nauvoo. On this very floor, the prophet, Joseph Smith, drew out the map of the Great Basin and the route west for Brigham Young. Levi Hancock then copied it onto paper and that was the map that Brigham Young took west with him in the migration of the Saints. Up top is where the Nauvoo Brass Band would have played when this was used as a ballroom. This was also used as the Masonic Hall of Nauvoo. There is such a special spirit in this room. I love going there even if it means climbing three flights of very steep stairs. This is also the room from which you can get the best shot of the Nauvoo Temple. I think of Joseph Smith drawing out that map and then looking at the temple knowing that he would not see its completion or the westward migration. I know he's a prophet!

Pounding the Pulpit

Just for John, I got this picture taken just before preparation meeting of me pounding the pulpit in the Seventies Hall. I had the chance to give the spiritual thought for prep meeting. I chose to speak on testimony and how the Book of Mormon affects the development of a testimony. I think Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball would have been proud.

The Stage at the Cultural Hall

I know it doesn't look very impressive, but I did the decorations for the stage. We are given very specific guidelines and I was responsible for getting the Cultural Hall decorated for Christmas. You can see my scriptures sittingon the floor in front of the desk. This is where we perform Rendevous at Old Nauvoo each night, but during the day we give tours of the hall.

My companion

The lady standing in front to the left is my companion, Sister Longhurst. This is taken at the Seventieis Hall just prior to preparation meeting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My new home

I took a picture of my home with the garage and of the view from my home, which is the Nauvoo Temple, but I am unable to get them to go on the blog. So I will just say that I am in a lovely home that has a 2 car garage, but it's greatest value is that the first thing I see in the morning is the Nauvoo Temple. It is absolutely gorgeous!!!
I have served in the Pendleton Log School House today and will do so most of the week. We have slates and chalk for people to use and we have them try to use the non-standardized spelling from the past. It's interesting to see how people do with that. I am not very successful. Maybe my mom taught me something after all.
If I can figure out how to get my pictures I will post them.
I feel very blessed to be able to serve in this beautiful city. Every day I am reminded of the great sacrifices of the Saints and how blessed I am that I was born in this Dispensation of Time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Firt experience as a tour guide

Tuesday was my first day to take tours. I was assigned to the Brigham Young home, which was awesome!!! There were only two tours for the whole day, but to spend the day in one of my favorite sites was such a great blessing. I love Mary Ann Young for all of the sacrifices she made so her husband could take care of the work. She had such a strong testimony of the prophet, Joseph Smith, and she bore it in deed and in word.
Wednesday, I got to serve at the Family Living Center where people come and learn about pioneer life. We had a family come in who were not members of our faith, and the sister who was doing the bread making demonstration stumbled onto that information and began teaching the Joseph Smith story. I was so amazed at how easily she transitioned from bread that filled the belly to Bread that fills the soul!
I will post pictures when I finally get into my home, but for now, you'll just have to take the boring written word. I will say this, I have loved serving here. It's such an amazing opportunity to be a missionary!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nauvoo is always a learning curve for me and this trip has proved to be no exception. When I got here, I had some challenges in getting all the pieces put together. I wasn't assigned a companion because her companion hadn't left yet. I was put into a house that I will live in for nine days, so I was told not to unpack. I was told I couldn't take Marci, my traveling companion to the airport, and I wondered if I had made one the biggest mistakes of my life.
Then I went out to the Old Nauvoo Burial Grounds. There people had given all they had--their very lives for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I was humbled at my small sacrifice. Then I went to the end of Parley Street where the names of those who died along the trail were listed and at the top of the kiosk, it says, "And many more whose names are not recorded, but are known to the Savior". I realized that He knew my sacrifice and He knows who I am--even if no one else does.
It put everything into perspective and now I'm ready to roll again. I suppose I just have to go through that initial bump every time I come to Nauvoo just to see if I am serious about this work. I am!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I don't have a picture for this one. I just wanted to share two quick things. First, I got a call from my friend, Marci, today who was sharing with me that one of my former students was bearing his testimony Sunday about what a pleasure it was to see me here at the MTC, and just as I was listening, he walked by. Coincidence? NOT.
Then, I was sitting at dinner tonight and a young Elder approached. He had been one of the work crew for the Nauvoo Pageant this summer. He said, "I remember carrying all your toys from under the stage." What a great blessing to know that people remember you and hopefully for the good things you do.
This is such a great blessing to be here. Did I mention I love being a missionary?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Missionary Training Center

These are the Elders and Sisters who are the MTC with me. Some of them have already flown, but most of us will be there on Monday and Tuesday. What a marvelous group of people! Some of them have served three and four missions. When we talk about a worldwide church, this is.

This is my district. The young returned missionary is our teacher. She served in Nauvoo. In fact, I kept looking at her, trying to figure out where I knew her. Finally, we figured it out when she said she had served in Nauvoo. She had been assigned to us at the pageant. Small world? My companion is the sister standing next to me. She runs marathons. Obviously I'm gong to have a hard time keeping up.
I have had some marvelous experiences. We have been teaching volunteers who come to the MTC and pretend to be non-members or less active. What a great opportunity this has been! The spirit is very strong here and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.
I want to share one experience. We were talking about reaching out to people. I kept feeling prompted to tell my Nauvoo experience with the sticks and I kept ignoring it. Finally, I shared it and the trainer for all senior missionaries said, "It couldn't be better said than that and we got a break. For those of you who haven't heard that story, we were training the children of the pageant how to approach people. We told them to pick up a stick for each person they talked to. When time was up, there were three sticks left on the ground. Being taught by the spirit, those weren't three sticks, but three of Heavenly Father's children whom He loves that no one cared enough to offer the gospel to. When I picked up those three sticks, I realized how it important it is that I give everyone the opportunity to hear the message.
In case you can't tell--I love being a missionary!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Preparing to Go

This has been a real eye opening experience for me. I know now why my Mom was ready to send me off when I left on my first mission. All of the stuff that she did, I'm having to do myself now. I played with my friends while my mom got suits and coats and other stuff ready to go. I have spent many hours doing all the things that she did for me.
In addition, I have had to prepare my home for someone else to live in. All my furniture is going into the family room. I have had to get rid of one full year's supply of food and other stuff. I also got Christmas wrapped and delivered to all of my friends and family. And somewhere in between, we put together a huge dinner for general women's conference and we put together a stake leadership meeting. NUTS! But now it's time to focus on being a missionary and getting myself off to Nauvoo.