Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Dragon And A Fairy Princess

The same costume his Dad wore as a child.
(Nice work Grandma Connie). :)
Sarah made this one.
Arwin from Lord of the Rings
Can she be any cuter?
Sarah brought the kids to 
"Trick or Treat" at Jim's office this afternoon.
It was a great success.
Jim's good friend Doug's office.
If there was an orange pumpkin taped on the office cubicle
Just delightful.
That's a happy grandpa.
And check out the view from his office window!!!!

(And the picture on his desk). :)

Happy Halloween!
 Last stop of the day...
Grandma's house...
the best place of all!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Iowa To Nebraska-Last Day

We stopped at a one acre pioneer cemetery in Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. 
It was a stopping place about half way between 
Nauvoo and Winter Quarters, Nebraska.
A wonderful farmer named Bob owns 12,000+ acres around it.
He taught us many things about the pioneers who lived there.
Over 800 pioneers died there.
There is a monument to the pioneers there within the acre the Church owns. The farmer showed us how to use these rods to mark out old cabin and grave sites. It was very interesting.
This plaque was heartbreaking.
Bob gave us a wagon ride on his property where the Mormon Trail was located. It was a great ride but were freezing!!! It was only October. I cannot imagine how the pioneers suffered through long, hard winters with no heat and limited supplies. We were cold to the bone and it lasted for hours after we left!
Many people have painstakingly mapped out where 
the Mormon Trail went.
After another 2 1/2 hour bus ride, we finally made it to
Winter Quarters...AKA Omaha, Nebraska.
The temple is located right next to the
 beautiful pioneer cemetery there.
 Another touching monument to the pioneers.
We actually sang this song on the bus as we traveled 
through Iowa near where the author composed it.
So many people died in Winter Quarters as well.
Sadly, most of them were children.
This room was in the Visitor's Center looking out over the cemetery. It was a very comforting place. The displays mentioned the hardships and deaths the pioneers suffered and taught the truth that those who died surely did not die in vain.
I took this picture of the temple from that same room. It is fitting that the temple is right next to the cemetery. Only because of the ordinances and sealing blessings of the temple can families live together eternally.
Our last stop of the trip was to the Kanesville Tabernacle
 across the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
It had a small Visitor's Center to remember
the place where Brigham Young was sustained
 as the next prophet after Joseph Smith.
I neglected to take the picture (or somehow lost it) of the statue that went with this plaque. I thought it was a fitting tribute to the contributions a mother makes to building an eternal family.

We arrived home at about midnight on the last day of our trip. We were exhausted by the time we got home but we felt extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to experience an amazing trip with so many wonderful learning experiences. The tour group we went with was superb. I can't vouch for every tour they do but I can unequivocally state that the tour we were on was amazing in every way.

I have a new appreciation for the Church history sites we saw. My already strong testimony has been strengthened, my love for the prophet Joseph Smith deepened, my gratitude for the early pioneers increased, and my gratitude for the missionaries who first taught me about the Church increased as well.
I asked our tour guide to take this picture of Jim and me in the Winter Quarters Visitor Center. It was near the end of the tour in the center. It represented the end of the trail for the pioneers. After so many struggles, trials, troubles, and staggering deprivations and losses including death...many finally made to the Salt Lake Valley where they could start all over again. The first thing Brigham Young did when he got there was to climb Ensign Peak and look over the magnificent valley. Brigham marked the site for the Salt Lake Temple to be built and it took 40 years to build it. Brigham never lived to see it completed. It is fitting that this is the last picture from my trip. I feel like a modern day pioneer in my own rite. I too traveled a long way from the east with my brand new husband to settle here. I have done all I can as a mother to help my husband as we try to establish our own eternal family. The gospel means everything to me as does my family. We built our home centered on the Salt Lake Temple as a reminder that our family can be an eternal family. I believe that with all my heart. 
 It is also fitting that this is the view I have of the 
Salt Lake Temple from my dining room and kitchen.

Many pioneers never made it this far
 to see this magnificent view.
I will treasure it for them. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Carthage to Iowa-Day 5

After visiting some pioneer graves on the outskirts of Nauvoo, we headed to Carthage Jail. It was deeply moving to pull up at this sight as our anticipation was high for a solemn experience.
As with all of the other Church sites we visited, the Carthage Jail site is meticulously kept. This statue of Joseph and Hyrum is very moving.
 There are wonderful portraits of both of them
 just inside the Visitor's Center.
 This tender rendition of the events of Joseph and Hyrum 
as they passed the unfinished Nauvoo Temple
on the way to their martyrdom is also moving.
We heard a moving presentation in the room
 where they were both killed.
This is the window Joseph fell from when he was shot.
A bullet hole that came through the door at them.
We were reminded of the sad realization that
when Joseph fell out the window after he was shot
onto the ground below, the mob continued
 to shoot him to make sure he was dead.
The clock marking the time of his death is still in the room.
Fittingly, next to the clock is this simple lantern and a few
copies of the Book of Mormon and some pamphlets of the 
testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith.
I did not know what to expect when I went into the room of the martyrdom. I have a strong testimony of the prophet Joseph and his mission. Surprising to me, instead of shedding tears, I felt great joy and peace because of all he did for us. I asked someone to take this picture of me in that room. I was converted to this Church in the few minutes it took to read this pamphlet 35 years ago. It is fitting that this picture be taken in that room. I have the same overwhelming testimony of Joseph Smith the prophet today that I had 35 years ago when I read the pamphlet. (I was obviously having a bad humidity hair day here-sorry). 
The upper window is the window Joseph fell from.
There are some wonderful plaques
 outside the Visitor's Center.
I loved this statue.
I like this one.
This had a profound effect on me
 the first time I read that pamphlet.
 The entire experience at Carthage was unforgettable.
That afternoon, a few of us took our tour bus to be 
dropped off in uptown Nauvoo 
but our guide decided to make this
 out of the way stop first. I am very glad he did.
It's a beautiful old cemetery 
of many pioneers who died in Nauvoo.
Most of them were children.
This inscription really got to me:
"Sweet child the breeze that fans thy tomb,
 shall bear our love to thy heavenly home."
 And this one.
We went back to Nauvoo for a few more quick stops.
In preparation to leave from the end of Parley Street,
our guide asked to to leave a half hour
 to read the plaques along the way.
 There were quite a number of them, 
all very touching.
All inspiring.
It must have been so hard to walk that street
looking at the temple over their shoulder
as the members were forced out 
of their beloved Nauvoo.
This is a statue at the end of Parley's Street
 at a little gathering place.
It's Joseph and Brigham Young pointing west.
Those poor pioneers had to cross this frozen river to get to 
Iowa on the other side where nothing awaited...
 nothing but  frozen ground.

I have deep, deep respect for the early pioneers
 and all they sacrificed for us.

End of day notes:
"I am sitting on the bus traveling through Iowa.  It's been another long but wonderful day.  I never imagined this trip would have been planned out like this. Our guides make sure we have readings about the people and places we are visiting most of the time whenever there is empty drive time on the bus. Either participants or the guides do them; it has been like a week long Sunday school class. I have learned so much!

This morning on the way to Carthage, we stopped at a pioneer burial ground. We learned about a few people who died in Nauvoo that sacrificed everything for the sake of the gospel. Then we headed to Carthage.

On the way, our guide reviewed with us all the history surrounding the martyrdom. He talked about the events right before Joseph was murdered and how John Taylor sang "A poor wayfaring man of grief" for Joseph.  Joseph asked to have it sung a second time. Then over the bus speakers we heard the best rendition of that song I have ever heard, a male acapella version. The singer sang it twice. It was on tape. I will never forget hearing it in that setting. He had an amazing voice.

We visited Carthage Jail which was a tender and sacred experience. The Spirit was very strong. I asked someone to take a picture of me in the room of the martyrdom holding a Joseph Smith pamphlet of his testimony which is how I was converted.

We had lunch in the park again and headed off for an afternoon in Nauvoo. We visited the small shopping district. We went to the temple again and then caught he tour bus to old Nauvoo again. Everything is pretty close but the bus pick up and drop off places helped.

Dad and I went to Brigham Young's house for a minute and the back to he land and records building. We got many more pages of ancestors on a CD. 

We headed down the Trail of Tears or the Trail of Hope that leads down Parley's Street to the Mississippi River where the saints crossed to Iowa in the freezing winter of 1846. There were plaques along the way.  Very touching.

We had a small devotional and we are now on a long bus ride through Iowa for our night time stop in Osceola. 

GREAT day today. Wagon ride at Mt. Pisgah tomorrow and Winter Quarters tomorrow afternoon.

Love you all. Joseph really was a prophet... of this, I have no doubt.

Love, Mom

PS We stopped at dinner on the Mormon Trail in Garden Grove, Iowa. We saw endless rows of corn. Iowa is all corn!! Now I think I know what Gregory's mission consisted of. :) The people were great and they gave us a history of the pioneers who came through there and how they rediscovered their trail in the late '90's."