Loading the carriages to go down to the Red Brick Store-- I'm sure instead of cameras the sisters were taking their knitting or mending or perhaps even their scriptures with them. Many of them did not have transportation, so they would have walked. They were of a wider variety of ages than this group was, but the other similarities are amazing: singles, marrieds, widows, women with children, and women without children, women who were united in one common cause: to serve the Lord.
This view was taken to show the corner on which I used to live and the view I had of the Nauvoo Temple as it now stands. I think of Sarah Granger Kimball looking out of her window every day, watching the men work on the original temple as it rose on the bluff. I think of Miss Cook, who sewed the shirts from the material that Sarah provided. I think of that group of women who gathered in her living room not only before the organization of the Relief Society, but also afterwards. They were so excited to be a part of "something extraordinary".
This isn't particularly part of the Relief Society program, but it was along the way. I love the sunsets in Nauvoo. This one is not as pink as it is in the summer, but it had such an amazing contrast as we rode along. I wondered what the early sisters thought of as they were on their way to the Red Brick Store, were they worried about children or husbands or finances or food or sickness or were they thinking of the blessings of meeting with a prophet--that he cared enough to meet specifically with the sisters? Joseph told Emma that the Lord had accepted their offering and that Eliza's constitution was the best he'd seen, but the Lord had something better in mind. Did the sisters know what that was? Could they ever have imagined to have been organized after the manner of the Priesthood?
Unloading the wagons and entering the Red Brick Store is a time of great anticipation. For many of the sisters this is the first time they have been in the store and for others, it is a time of memory and reflection, but whatever position one is in, it is a great time, as I am sure it was for the early sisters as they prepared to go upstairs and meet with the prophet, Joseph Smith. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the store, so now I'll jump to the end of the program.
This year's version of Joseph Smith--Elder Lamar Taylor of North Ogden, Utah. Joseph took a five dollar gold piece from his pocket and gave it to Emma, as the Relief Society President. He stated at the time, "All that I have to give to the poor, I shall give to this society." Joseph also stated that "the Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized."
Getting ready for the group picture is always an interesting experience because there are always people who are talking when they should be listening and in a group this size there are always a lot more chiefs than braves. I think one of the greatest indicators of a non-posed picture is the expressions of the people.
Just before we loaded the carriages to return to the Visitor's Center, the two of them met at the road to pick us up. The wagon on the left cut across the grass. Just as these two wagons are meeting to take the sisters on to their next assignment, we can look at this point in our lives as a crossroads of the many opportunities to serve others. We can be empty or we can fill our lives with great joy as we do the work of angels--"the errand of angels is given to women and this is a gift that as sisters we claim to do whatsoever is gentle and human to cheer and to bless in humanities name".