Friday, October 23, 2015

Final Quarters at Winter Quarters

I can't believe it is our last day of touring. These three weeks have gone by in a flash. Our last stop was Winter Quarters near Omaha, Nebraska

There is a lovely visitors center and garden in Kanesville, across the river from Winter Quarters.

Brigham Young and the saints constructed a log tabernacle - built in three weeks out of green cottonwood logs. It was a large place so that the saints could meet together. It didn't last too long as the logs shrunk and cracked. The community of Kanesville decided to build a replica to celebrate an anniversary a few years ago. It is built on the same footprint out of cottonwood logs (this time not green ones). The church purchased it for $1 from the community and you can now tour it.

This was an important place, where Brigham Young organized the first presidency in the manner it is is today.

Our next stop was in the Winter Quarter's visitors center, across the Missouri River. I was excited to see Isaac Morley's violin. He is still my hero.  Also, in this visitor's center you begin by watching a film about the events in the area. The film contains quotes from pioneer journals and Mark and I were excited to hear quotes from his ancestor (Patience Loader) and from mine (Lucy Hannah White Flake)

Apparently Brigham Young was an early scout leader because he had a dutch oven

There was a quilt show on in the bottom story of the visitors center.  Since I love looking at and creating quilts, this was an added bonus.

I loved this one, in an ombre style of color placement.

We solemnly marked the passing of the 99th dead raccoon we have seen on our journey. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. It was probably more like 97.  This poor little guy tried to make it to the Winter Quarter's Temple Grounds but forgot to look while crossing the street. Apparently raccoons are smart enough to wash their food before eating, but not to look both ways.  R.I.P my little friend.

Under this monument is a plaque containing names of those who lost lives here before crossing the plains. Listed is my ancestor, Samuel Flake.

There are beautiful stained glass windows on all sides of the Temple.

I love traveling with my husband. It was fun to have three whole weeks together. I love my funny, handsome, good to the core husband Mark.

On Saturday morning, before our trip to the airport, we took Keith and Carol into Bass Pro Shop for a huge dose of Americana. As you can see, some people take to stuffed bears better than others. Carol made friends with the grizzly, Keith kept his distance.

Traveling with the Brooks was marvelous. They are relaxed, interesting and fun companions. We loved feeling the Spirit with them in so many sacred places. We look forward to many more trips to come!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A temple and a Temple inside a Jail

We have seen a lot of LDS visitor's centers during this trip, and the one in Independence is lovely. There is a display of old photographs going back to Joseph Smith's birthplace in Sharon, Vermont and on through Nauvoo that I especially loved. As always, there were wonderful couple missionaries and sisters and elders there. I was excited to meet someone from Arizona, Elder Ili, who is cousins to the great Ta'ase family in our stake. 

Across from the LDS visitors center is the Community of Christ's Temple. The former Reorganized Church now has their headquarters in Independence. The building is beautiful. This is taken from inside the sanctuary, looking up at the spiral that is meant to resemble a shell.

We attended the "prayer for peace", a daily event where there are prayers and music, each day mentioning a specific place in the world where prayers are needed. I found it interesting that you can take photos in the sanctuary and anywhere in the temple, but not in the museum.

It is quite an accomplishment for this church of 250,000 members to have built this temple.

After the visitors center, we went to the Missouri Mission Offices where we visited with our friend Kim Seaman and met other lovely couple missionaries and elders. Kim and her husband Mike are on a mission. We love these good people that were our dear friends in Show Low. We got together later for dinner and had great fun catching up.

Our visit to Liberty Jail was a powerful experience, mostly due to sweet Sister Gonzalez who taught us about the history and brought the Spirit. It was a time I will not forget.

I feel a little bad smiling in this pic when there is such a solemn scene behind us. I had many thoughts and emotions at Liberty Jail. There is much criticism and questioning of Joseph Smith. One can draw an opinion ranging from near worship to disgust based on what you want to find. Section 122 verse one says: The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee

But I don't believe a sincere person can study the history of the prophet in Liberty Jail and read the revelations received there (Doctrine & Covenants Sections 121-123) without feeling impressed by the principals therein. These sections, received in a foul place, are full of humility and grace. When Joseph cried out for help the Lord reminded him that his adversity and affliction would be but a small moment. I think that rather than his own pain, Joseph's greater desire was to see the suffering of the saints alleviated.

How humbling it would have been to write down this instruction from the Lord: No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;  I'm sure I would have been hoping that my answer from the Lord would be prison walls falling down, and a tornado wiping out the despicable persecutors of the saints.

I love Joseph Smith. I love him in his frailties and in his strengths. He was a prophet of God and my life is immeasurably better because I have learned mighty truths from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, and because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jeffrey Holland in this superb article called Lessons From Liberty Jail says that this place became a prison-temple, and reminds us that any place we are can become holy if we are seeking the Lord and following the Spirit. I contrasted the feeling I had in the temple of the Community of Christ with the Spirit I felt in Liberty Jail. I enjoyed the serenity and beauty of the Community of Christ's elegant building, but I felt the Spirit in the holy ground of Liberty Jail.

I love Joseph Smith.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rewinding to Missouri

We all felt a bit nostalgic as we left our cabin in Nauvoo. We enjoyed the four days we spent there in our cozy cabin. If you go to Nauvoo this is a great place to stay!

Apparently, Mater has moved to Nauvoo.

We took one more look at the Nauvoo Temple...

and said goodbye with Joseph and Hyrum.

We drove across the river into Iowa where you can see the Temple rising above the trees, its reflection in the Mississippi.

At a rest stop I was entranced by the fried cheese balls. Of course, these are not edible without ranch dressing to complete the cardiac overload.

Our trip has all been in chronological order except for Missouri. We are going back in time from Nauvoo to the saints time in Independence. Our first stop was Adam-ondi-Ahman. There are beautiful rolling farm hills owned by the church and leased back to farmers. It is exciting to think of the events to take place here before the millennium.

Even though there isn't a visitor's center here, there are nice restrooms and shady trees and some picnic tables at different sites.

At Far West, the temple site is marked by four cornerstones and there is a large monument.

It was late afternoon and the shadows were long and the temperature was lovely. Missouri is so beautiful. After all the prophetic promise this place held, leaving it must have been heartbreaking.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Cried For Sorrow I Cried For Joy

We started our day at the Community of Christ visitors center, paying our $3 fee and waiting a few minutes for our tour to begin. There was a great gift shop and a small display that included a letter from Emma written in the years after the saints left Nauvoo. It loved reading it as it gave insight into her personality more than anything I have read.

As we walked between the sites I soaked in a little more Fall to take with me back to Mesa.

This is what remains of what was a large Nauvoo Hotel. There is a large open room upstairs that groups can still rent.

Photos are not allowed inside the homes owned by Community of Christ. It drove me a bit crazy because there is so much there I want to remember. This half log/siding cabin was the home that Joseph and Emma spent the most time in during the Nauvoo years. Everyone remembers the Mansion house, but they loved this home. The well is the original one they found when they moved in. This home was already here and they added on.

The mansion house that survives is minus a large wing. When Joseph leased the hotel part (he was going in the hole) he and Emma gave up their large bedroom and one for the children and lived in a small room with a very small adjacent room for the children. Lucy Mack was in a downstairs room and this is where she kept the 3 mummies that Joseph had acquired. She called them "curiosities" and you could see them if you paid a quarter.

I have loved looking out at the Mississipi for the past 4 days.

My hero, Newell K. Whitney owned this desk. When he left Nauvoo, he left it as a gift to Joseph Smith's son, Joseph III. He said he wanted him to know that the pen is mightier than the sword.

We traveled about 30 miles away to Carthage and the Visitor's Center there.

These are the stairs the mob took to the second story. Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards and John Taylor had stayed the night before in the jailers own large bedroom. At about 5 in the afternoon the mob rushed in.

As Hyrum braced himself against the door, shots were fired and one pierced the door and hit him in the head, killing him instantly.

Years later, when the jail was converted to a home, the family that owned it kept the door, cutting out this piece at the edge of the door and replacing it with a metal plate. Decades later, when the LDS church was working to restore the jail, someone came with an old toolbox that contained this wooden piece - fitting perfectly and showing another bullet hole.

Joseph was shot from outside the jail, falling through the window to the ground below. The first prophet of this dispensation was dead. This was the part of the day when I cried for sorrow.

We returned to Nauvoo in the afternoon and walked the "Trail of Hope". This is a path along Parley street that is lined with journal entries from those who were forced to leave Nauvoo. As we walked, we took turns reading the entries. This was one of my favorite parts of our Nauvoo visit. I felt a great spirit there - witnesses from those who had left Nauvoo, and also the witnesses of my husband Mark and good friends Keith and Carol Brook. As we each took turns reading I felt the power of their testimonies and goodness.

This must have been a bitterly sad time for Lucy Mack Smith.

There were trees huge green warty fruit all over the ground under a few trees

I had to look them up - they are osage oranges. I thought they smelled kind of nice inside. Everyone else hated the smell.

Carol demonstrated her hidden talents. She continually surprises us!

In the evening we dressed and went to the Nauvoo temple to attend an endowment session. I felt such a powerful feeling as we entered the doors. After all the church history we have been witness to in the past weeks, it was almost overwhelming. As I thought of those last frantic weeks when sections of the temple were finished and dedicated so that the saints could be endowed before they left Nauvoo, I felt  gratitude for my own temple blessings.

I love the beautiful Nauvoo temple. I feel that the saints that built it must attend it with their angelic presence. This was the part of the day when I cried for joy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Those Old People Sure Can Dance

Of course a good soak in a front porch tub is the proper way to start a day in Nauvoo.

A wagon tour of Nauvoo is a good way to wake up in the morning. The Sister dressed in pioneer garb in the back wears a Britney Spears head set and narrates the sites as the horses clop along. The seats are padded and comfy and the jokes are corny and cute.

You can also take a carriage ride that is a smaller conveyance pulled by the same big Belgian horses. Our missionary guides were a cowboy from Nephi Utah and a great storyteller from Nibley Utah. I wonder if they ever let sister missionaries drive the carriages or the wagons. I think I might want to be the first.

In the print shop there are occasional glimpses of the 21st century - like a sister with extravagant hair reading her iPad.  You go girl!

Nauvoo was a very different church site from Kirtland. In Kirtland there was an emphasis on the revelations received there. In Nauvoo there is more emphasis on daily life and history there - with analogies at each site relating to daily life.

My favorite story was about John Taylor.  When the family was forced to take only the necessities, his little boy was heartbroken about leaving the rocking horse his dad had made him behind. They crossed the river and camped. The next morning when he woke, the boy found his father gone, he didn't return all day. Late at night the boy saw his dad riding in on a horse and in the dim light he saw what he was carrying - the rocking horse. This story touched me because Mark made a rocking horse for Rachael when she was a year old and it endures as a very well loved steed. Last Christmas he made two more for each family of grandkids.

Brigham Young's home has a large "council" room. One of the great miracles of the latter day church is the way the church survived the death of Joseph Smith. The twelve had been prepared and the Lord made sure that people recognized the mantle of the Prophet being conferred on Brigham Young.

Our day in Nauvoo ended with a production put on by the Senior missionaries. It was funny and delightfully amateurish. If you serve in Nauvoo you are obliged to be a performer. You receive the gift of tongues to memorize your lines and the gift of courage to pull it off.