Wednesday, August 20, 2014


As many of you know, we dropped Katelyn off at the MTC and decided to drive on to Nauvoo.  It has been a long time since we toured Nauvoo.  We had a family reunion there when Kyle was about 18 months. I had been planning the trip, but couldn't solidify anything because Katelyn decided to go on a mission and we had to wait to see when she was going.  Sadly she was not able to come because her mission call was for 5 weeks later.  My sister Susie said that the pageants only ran until the end of July.  So we made plans in a hurry and got there just in time. We had never seen the pagaent.

Our first stop was the Nauvoo Temple.  We called ahead to reserve a spot.  The thing we didn't foresee was the weather.  It was pouring rain, so everyone decided to stop into the temple instead of doing tours in the rain, and they didn't turn anyone away. Anna brought some names and Anna, Kyle, Kristen and Jeff were able to do baptisms at 9:45am.  It took them over 2 hours.  Jeff and I had scheduled to do an endowment at 12:00pm, so I needed to meet Jeff at the temple for that.  I had the little girls, so we weren't sure what to do with all the rain.  I took them into the temple entry way and talked to a security guard.  They had taken so long that I couldn't figure out what had happened, and I knew the session was starting in 15 minutes.  He found Jeff and said that they were still in the font.  So I just left and waited for them to call me.When they called, I gave the little girls to the teenagers and Jeff and I tried to go do a session.  They were packed until 3:00pm, so we did sealings instead.  It was great because we were able to go the Celestial Room and look around a little.  Then after the sealings, George Durrant poked his head in our room.  He was the MTC mission president when Jeff and I were in the MTC.  He was also our bishop at BYU when Jeff and I met.  We tried to help him remember us.  I told him that my name was Mary Miller and that Heidi Jo and Carrie were also in his ward.  Then he said, "The Miller sisters." as if we were his favorites. He also told Jeff that anyone who married Mary Miller was the luckiest guy in the United States.  Jeff answered, " In the world!"  "Thanks Jeff, you know how to make your wife adore you." It was so fun.  Then I remembered that his wife had passed away.  Later we ran into the temple president's wife standing in line for the carriage rides and she said that he had married Susan Easton Black.  She was a church historian and teacher at BYU, who I took multiple times. I also served on her board when she was the stake relief society president in my married student ward.  It is
 a small world.

 While we were waiting for Jeff and the kids at the temple we went to a play at the assembly hall called "Just Plain Anna Amanda."  It was very much for kids, but entertaining for adults as well.  It was a musical about a girl growing up in Nauvoo.  The actors were Performing missionaries.  We found out that they audition and are prayerfully chosen.  So we ran into them everywhere.  They wore tags and were official missionaries.  They can be from age 18-25.  They come from May until the end of July.  They sang and danced and were darling.
After I found out that Jeff was not coming out for a while, we got on the carriage ride that we had tickets for, but they were with Jeff.  They still let us on and we put soaked polar fleece blankets on us and went on this 50 minute ride through the country part of Nauvoo. It turned out great and we learned a lot.  It's kind of incredible how they tell different parts of stories throughout your stay.  Then by the end you know the whole story.  The Carriage story teller did an amazing job and was funny as well.  When Jeff came to meet us at the end, we found out that he was one of Jeff's clients in Idaho Falls.

We had a little bit of time, so went down Parley Street and took a look at the Mississippi River.  It is so incredible to imagine all of those people being forced to cross the river in the middle of the winter.
     Just a crawdad
Next we were waiting to watch "The Promise."  It was another musical about Nauvoo.  It was about two hours long and was done by the cute performing missionaries.  It was great, maybe a little long for Kyle, but the girls loved it.  

Right before we went to the play, we heard about a vignette that was called the "King Follett Sermon."  So Kyle, Anna, Kris, Nat and I went to this grove of trees and sat on these halved log benches.  I saw some bagpipers there and started talking to some of them.  They are also missionaries.  One of the drummers was 15 and there was a bagpiper about 11.They were accompanied by their families, but still serving a mission. 
We were sitting on the front row.  I think this was one of my favorite things that we did.When the bagpipers came in they were playing, Come Thou Fount, then, If you Could Hie to Kolob, Amazing Grace, Praise to the Man and Abide With Me.  They were right in front of us and it was so powerful.
Then a man depicting Joseph Smith gave his sermon.  The cool part was that on the carriage ride they had talked about King Follett, who was a convert that lived in Nauvoo and built wells.  He was good friends with Joseph Smith.  He was crushed in a well and Joseph was asked to speak at his funeral.
The sermon was very powerful because he revealed new doctrine about the nature of God.  He did such a good job and I just loved it.  Then at the end he bore his own testimony, the actor.  Later we found out that he was the man who played Joseph in the pageant.

After the play, we ate in Nauvoo and went to the country fair.  It was pretty great.They had all the old fashioned games that might have been played then.  This game required a crochet ring and two sticks.  It's harder than you think.  Then of course the stilts were a hit.

Get the monkey to the top first.  There is a method.  Then the hoedown was a hit for the girls.
Kyle felt like he had put in enough hoedowning on our ward trek and was not volunteering.

Luckily I found the best looking guy there and he was willing to dance with me.

I can't remember if we were allowed to take pictures at the pageant, but we didn't for some reason.  Friday night was a special treat.  They performed the British Pageant.  I guess this was performed in Europe last year and they brought it to Nauvoo for the first time this summer.  Some of the actors were also from Europe.  It was more stories of the Saints from Europe and how they got to Nauvoo.  The fun thing about it was that when we did our trek I studied a lot of stories about the British Saints and their conversions, because a lot of them were in the Martin or Willie Handcart companies.  So as they are telling their stories, I felt very familiar with them, like I knew them. 
Then to top it off, one of the family stories that was depicted was about my fourth great grandma, Anne Cannon.  It was pretty cool. 

The first two nights we stayed in the Comfort inn in Fort Madison, which is across the river and takes about a half hour to get to Nauvoo.  The third and fourth night, we stayed in the Motel Nauvoo, which is very old and old fashioned, but decorated vintage.  We lucked out with the suite, which must have been the motel manager's home because it was great with two bedrooms a hide-a-bed in the family room, a kitchen and dining room.  We really loved it and could just walk down main street to the temple.

Saturday, we didn't get as many pictures because it was not as eventful.  It was really busy and we had a harder time getting tickets.  Thursday, we did pick up some tickets for the Carriage ride, so the big kids and Jeff could experience it. 

 We snuck in an oxen ride with no lines.  The ride was about a 5 minutes.

Then we went and saw Just Plain Anna Amanda again.  This time we got tickets for the Johnsons as well.  They live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  They came up to be with us and we loved every minute.  It was Paul, Susie(my sister) and their youngest kids Gwen and Blair.
Then Susie was prepared and brought a ton of food from home because she knows how there is no food in Nauvoo or very few places to eat.
We went to the Bakery, the Rifle Shop, the Blacksmith's Shop and got the nail rings.  Then there was an activity area kind of behind the bakery. This was one of Livvy's favorite places.  In her own words, "There was all these fun games and pottery and you were sewing a blanket and making rope and you gotta keep it."  The performing missionaries were also there singing hymns to the guitar and the ukelele. She also loved the country fair.
  We spent time in the Visitor's Center and the Relief Society Gardens.  Kristen loved the visitor's center. 
Then we spoiled ourselves and went to the buffet at the Hotel Nauvoo.  It is a home cooked buffet that was so delicious. 

Jeff took the girls to the country fair again.

Everyone else including the Johnsons went to Sunset by the Mississippi. It was a variety show that included the elderly missionaries,the young performing missionaries and the band.  There was this elderly lady who sang "You can't get a man with a gun."  She was a serious performer. It was funny too.The elderly missionaries were dancing and singing like they were young again.  I was thinking that my parents would love to be in that show. 
The Johnsons left to go home and we went to the Nauvoo Pageant.  I absolutely loved it and caught myself getting teary eyed regularly.  The kids had still not seen any fireflies up close, so Jeff took Livvy and Nat to a field at dusk and they caught fireflies.

Sunday turned out to be a great day.  We went to church at 10:00am with 1500 other people.  I was impressed with how the Nauvoo ward manned the meetings.  We had primary classes and everything.  It got less after sacrament, but still they were awesome.  The fun thing was that a lot of the missionaries were also attending our ward.  The night before we got custard and behind us in line were two actors, one from England and one from Scotland.  I hadn't recognized them, but we talked.  Then the next day in church this girl's mom sat behind me in Relief Society.  She talked about how her husband had died and then she was called as the Relief Society President.  Many people from all over the world and country shared their stories.  They all had the same faith and the same peace that comes from their testimonies.  It was very cool.

Next we went to Carthage Jail. There is good and bad to coming at a busy time.  The bad is the lines and having a hard time getting tickets.  The good is that all that they offer so much more.  At Carthage they had a tour and a Vignette.  When we came out of the tour, the band was playing hymns.  This was the interesting thing I learned about Carthage.  As a child I always wondered how Joseph and Hyrum got killed with no place to hide and how John Taylor and Willard Richards escaped.  Seeing the jail explains a lot because it is a house and the room is very small, but throughout the days of activities I learned that there was an organized mob of 300 who had devised a plan.  It wasn't just a group of people that decided to torment the prophet.  When Joseph was arrested he had other men with him too.  One man, Dan Jones was there the first day when they were shot at through the lower room.  As they are on the floor.  Dan said something like," Is this it?", and Joseph gives his last prophecy, that Dan would live to preach the gospel in his homeland which was Whales.  The next day he sent Dan and a few others to go see what was going on.  They were not allowed back in.  Even Joseph's brother, Sam tried to get to him, but they had blocked off the road.  He tried many ways and never passed.  So when the shooting started, they were outside the door and shooting through the window.  When Joseph fell out of the window, all of the mob ran downstairs to see if he was dead.  That is how Willard and John were able to be spared.  The mob had one goal and that was to kill Joseph Smith.

 This window on the right is the one that Joseph fell out of.
 After Carthage, Jeff, Natalie and I went to a grave yard that had a list of all the people who died in Nauvoo.  Then we went to the grave of Joseph and Hyrum.

That night they had a special fireside at the pageant site where they sang inspirational Broadway songs. The theme was eternal families.  It was really good.
 The last and maybe the best thing we did was the Trail of Hope.  After the fireside we all went to Parley Street and the performing missionaries took groups of  about 15 and we silently walked in the dark led by a missionary with a lantern.  She would put it on a log in front of another missionary or two who would act out a character from Nauvoo as they were leaving.  So we walked from Vignette to vignette.  It was awesome.  Then we stood at the edge of the Mississippi River  in the dark and then walked back.  It was a perfect ending to our visit to Nauvoo.