Today, Jared has been on his mission for 2 months. He told us in his email today that a man named Doug Green was baptized on Saturday, July 23rd. Jared confirmed him on Sunday, July 24th. He has said in previous letters that he is amazed with Doug's strength and testimony.
Jared with Doug Green
Doug, Elder Pentz and Elder Purcell (such a happy gentle giant!)
For the 2nd part of our vacation, we drove 5 1/2 hours from Cindy's to Nauvoo, Illinois. We were meeting my parents, my sister Lynne and her family, my brother Randy and his wife and son, who had all driven from Idaho and Utah, and my sister Suzanne and her family drove from South Carolina. We stayed in some condos about 2 miles outside of Nauvoo.
On Thursday night after we had all arrived, from 3 different directions, all through many corn fields, we went into Nauvoo so we could see the Pageant. Before the pageant, the people who will be performing the next week put on a "Country Fair" with all sorts of activities for old and young alike. It was great fun.
The teenage, and almost teenage kids, and Julie had a great time square dancing with the "pioneers".
Mom and I had a great time watching and taking pictures of the dancing.
Suzanne, Lynne, Julie, me and Mom watching all the activities.
Dad and Blake watching too.
Lynne and I matching in color!
All seated and ready for the pageant to begin.
The pageant was amazing. It was the story of Nauvoo, and performed by volunteers from all over the country. They have a core cast that is the same for the whole month, then there are others that are there for one week of performances. At the very end, the temple behind them is lit up, it was a very breathtaking scene.
The next morning we took Tanner, Michelle, Dallin, Joseph, Alexis and Adam to the temple so they could do baptisms for the dead. I felt very fortunate to be able to go inside the Nauvoo Temple. It is a very humbling experience to be inside that sacred building on that hallowed ground.
Afterward, we went to the visitors center and watched a really good movie about the restoration of the Gospel.
We spent some time in the Women's Garden and had some fun pictures.
We went to a play performed by the Young Performing Missionaries. It was excellent! Those young people are extremely talented.
We went to several of the homes and buildings that have been restored. It is amazing and inspiring that the early saints could build that city in such a short time.
After dinner, we went back to Nauvoo and walked around some of the shops, then around the temple. It seemed that we could not get enough of the temple, your eyes were drawn to it from every side.
This monument is depicting Joseph and Hyrum Smith's last ride out of Nauvoo before being martyred, very sobering statue.
Saturday morning we went to another darling play by the Young performing missionaries, once again very amazing! We saw some more restored sights, there just didn't seem to be enough time to see it all.
We took a wagon ride around the city to see more of the sights.
This is the Young performing missionaries band. It was absolutely excellent.
The adults took the time to go back to the temple and do some family sealings. It was a very special experience, I'm so glad we made the time to go back to the temple.
Saturday evening we went to another performance by the Young Performing missionaries and the Senior Missionaries. It was also amazing. So many dedicated and talented people giving of their time and talents.
Blake, Michelle and I waiting for the show to start.
After the performance, we walked down the "Trail of Hope". This is the street the early saints took as they were leaving Nauvoo to cross the Mississippi River as they headed west.
Along the Trail of Hope, there were signs with quotes or statements from many of the saints, once again it was very sobering.
Blake standing on the bank of Mississippi River
Randy, me, Dad, Mom, Lynne and Suzanne
We found the name William McKeachie on the memorial to many saints who did not make it to Salt Lake. William McKeachie is Blake's 3rd great grandfather.
We found this little friend on our doorstep when we got back to the condo.
Sunday morning, we went to Sacrament Meeting with all the Nauvoo missionaries. It was really a wonderful meeting, with tons of missionaries. I felt really close to Jared, not just because I was only 2 hours away from him, but seeing all those people with their black name tags made me think of him constantly. After church, we went back to the temple and took some pictures on the steps.
All 22 of us!
We drove about 1/2 hour to Carthage. Once again a very sobering place. Carthage is where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were shot and killed. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and his faith. I know he was a true prophet and that he was chosen by God to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth once again.
A statue of Joseph and Hyrum outside the Carthage Jail. Isn't little Steffie cute standing back there?
This is the room were Joseph and Hyrum were murdered. Blake is standing in front of the window that Joseph fell from after being shot.
After leaving Carthage, Blake, Randy, Julie and I hurried to see a few more of the restored buildings in Nauvoo. We still didn't see everything, but we saw a lot.
We learned how they made boots.
Randy and Blake in front of the tiny Boot making shop.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Nauvoo. We learned a lot, and experienced a lot that we won't soon forget. Thanks Lynne, Suzanne and Julie for all the planning and arranging so we could all enjoy being together in Nauvoo!
This year Blake and I kind of combined 2 vacations into one. On July 2nd, we boarded a plane heading for Chicago. When we landed we rented a car and headed for Stevensville, Michigan to visit with Cindy, Ken and Sydney. It was Cindy's birthday and we were anxious to get there for a little bit of her birthday.
We arrived at about 8:30pm.
After greeting the Three Manteis and Stormy, we went inside and ate a late supper, then we went for a walk.
I had told Cindy that I really wanted to see fireflies, and we did! They were all over! If you look close, you can see them in this field.
After our little walk, it was dark enough to do fireworks in the driveway, just like when Cindy was young! We always did fireworks in the driveway on her birthday.
We enjoyed Ken's firework display.
The next day, July 3rd, we went to St. Joseph to Silver Beach Pizza. To quote Blake, "it's the best pizza in the world!" It is really good pizza, and we stuffed ourselves clear full and still had some to bring home.
We found a good place to take some pictures!
Blake forgot to bring a hat, so Cindy GAVE him her superman hat. He wore it all the time!
After pizza and ice cream, Blake, Syd and Cindy washed up Stormy.
Then, we played some games, yes you are seeing right, Blake did play too!
We skyped with Brian, Celia and Maden. That made it almost like we were all in the same room.
Cindy took this picture of Maden with the web cam while we skyped. He was showing off his stacking and sorting skills.
One of the small towns nearby had a fireworks show that night. It was in a large field of grass, and about 200 or so cars parked in this field, then they lit the fireworks not very far away. It was a really good fireworks display for a small town.
Cindy brought some big bubbles to play with while we were waiting for the fireworks to start.
Here's the proof, we really did see fireworks!
In the morning on July 4th, Blake and Cindy went and played tennis. Blake was really impressed with how well Cindy played.
No one was there to take their picture while they were playing, so they improvised with this self portrait.
We went out to a friends house that has a pond in their yard stocked with fish. It was a wonderful yard, with the house set back in the yard down a little lane.
There was even a pet duck, Oliver, he acted just like a puppy wanting to be pet and steal food. (We have heard that Oliver was killed the next week)
Blake and his little fish.
Ken and his little catch. It seems the bigger fish were not hungry.
Cindy and I being the spectators!
Cindy has Stormy, the Great Dane and four cats in her house. I'm not that crazy about animals, but Blake likes them and they like Blake, especially Stormy.
Duda decided he didn't care if I liked him or not, he wanted to sit on my legs.
On Tuesday morning we piled in the car and headed for the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. It is a really nice zoo. It was really hot, so it was nice that a lot of the exhibits were inside and there was a lot of shade. It was also really nice that it was not very crowded, we parked close and could get right up front to see the animals.
Us girls rode the carousel, it was hard to choose which animal to ride!
We wished this peacock would spread it's feathers.
Inside the butterfly house, there were millions (well maybe not really, but it seemed like it) of different kinds of butterflies, really fascinating.
Cindy's favorite thing ever, the stingrays!
It is a big pool with lots of stingrays.
We saw a dolphin show, always so fun to watch them.
Not sure if this is a zebra, or horse and I can't remember what it is called, but pretty much the strangest creature we saw.
We saw these majestic giraffes, but no elephants.
On Wednesday, Cindy and Ken had to go to work, so Blake and I did laundry and shopping to get ready for the 2nd half of our vacation. After they came home from work, we went and played some tennis. It was really hot, but fun. We left on Thursday morning and headed for Nauvoo, Illinois. It was so fun to see Cindy, Ken and Syd. I really wish we lived closer so we could see them more!