Sunday, September 23, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 4)

This post is yet another installment of pictures and commentary from our 2-week LDS Church History Tour trip in July of this year. We took over 900 pictures, so it is overwhelming to go through them and choose what to post. Thus, it is taking us (well, me) a long time to document our trip! You can see my other attempts at covering all that we did here, here, and here.

After Nauvoo, IL, we headed to:

Missouri is not only a place rich in church history; for me, it is rich in family history as well! Due to this, we spent several days in Missouri seeing sites and spending time with some of my relatives.

On our way down to where my family lives, we stopped to see a couple of sites. First, we stopped in Hannibal, MO to see some Mark Twain sites. It was really hot even though it was only about 10 AM so it was a really quick stop.

Tom & Huck statue in Hannibal, MO
We also stopped at the St. Louis temple for some pictures. It was closed (it was Monday) so we just walked around the grounds and took a few pictures before getting back on the road.

St. Louis temple
We pulled up at my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dennis's house at about dinnertime. They had dinner waiting for us. It was so nice to have a delicious home-cooked meal with them! We spent the evening chatting with them and trying to Skype with my mom. Technical difficulties threw all sorts of wrenches in that plan, but eventually we got everything working on both sides.

The next morning, after a yummy breakfast cooked by my uncle, complete with bacon, the four of us went to Big Spring. It is a beautiful park with this incredible spring. I like the following pictures, but they don't do it justice. The water is such a cool aqua color and it was very tempting to wade in. My aunt showed us a trail that goes around it. It was fun for me to see the karst topography since this time last year I was considering studying geology! [In fact, I wrote about sinkholes for a term paper. The limestone of karst topography is susceptible to erosion that creates underground caves like the ones the spring travels through. Eventually it will create sinkholes as the tops of the caves fall in.]

Thomas, me, Aunt Patsy, and Uncle Dennis. It was their 43rd wedding anniversary that day!
After Big Spring, we headed to the cemeteries where my maternal great-grandparents (both sides) are buried. It was really cool to me to be able to drive around the area where my grandparents grew up and where their families lived. It helped me to connect to my ancestors as I thought about what their lives would have been like. I hope to learn more about them, and that someday I can take their names to the temple. I can think of no better way to honor them than by ensuring that their ordinances are completed and that they are sealed to each other.

The Belchers (Joseph and Ida)
The Lees (Arthur and Ethel)
After a break for lunch, my aunt took us around town to run some errands and see a few more sites, including the Current River Heritage Museum. The museum helps to tell the story of the area, the economy of which used to depend heavily on logging to create railroad ties. The ties were strapped together and floated down the river using huge oars!

This is a cool old camera they have on display at the museum. I teased Thomas that he needed one like this.
A johnboat on display at the museum.
See that oar at the top of the displays? That's what would steer the railroad tie rafts.
We also got to see the store where my aunt works and meet some of her coworkers. It was fun to see so many things I had only heard about before! We picked up a pizza for dinner, along with one of these:

Chocolate pizza?? YES PLEASE!!!!!
After a second night with my aunt and uncle, it was time for us to continue on our journey. It was hard to say goodbye! We so enjoyed the time we were able to spend with them. It was so nice to see them in general; they hadn't met Thomas before this trip.

On our way across Missouri, we stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, MO. We toured the museum and the home where Laura lived, as well as a home built for Laura by her daughter, Rose. Although it was interesting to see some things that actually belonged to the author of the Little House on the Prairie books, I think I would skip this stop if we were in the area again; it seemed a little run-down, despite how busy it was.

us at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, MO
From there, we headed north to Kansas City and Independence, MO. My cousin lives in the area and was gracious in letting us stay with little notice! She got us dinner where she works and then we went to her house ahead of her and visited with her husband (my first time meeting him!) and her kids. I had also never met her two youngest children before, so it was fun to play with them and talk to her older daughter who was babysitting them.

The next day we put a lot of miles on the car visiting various sites around the Independence area.


It's a truly beautiful place.

Haun's Mill (newly purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints):

A small marker at Haun's Mill

Far West temple site:

Liberty Jail:

The Liberty Jail Historic Site
Inside the historic site building is a replica of the original Liberty Jail
During the tour, you go down by the jail replica. They have "dummies" representing the people imprisoned there with the prophet Joseph Smith (seen on the bottom right). The jail was made escape-proof with thick stone walls surrounding the wooden building, with rocks in between.
 At the end of the day, we went to the visitors' center in Independence, MO, and a quick walk around the adjacent properties owned by other independent sects of the Latter Day Saint Movement. The Community of Christ (RLDS) has a temple there, and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) owns the lot originally intended for a temple.

The Christus statue in the Independence Visitors' Center
This is the Community of Christ temple. It has such a different feeling from the grounds of our temples. It is intended to be a place of peace. It seemed a place more of worldly peace than the spiritual, godly peace that emanates from LDS temples, dedicated to the Lord as houses of the Lord and intended for ordinance work.

This is the Church of Christ Temple Lot. Right now it is a field with a few marker stones.

Our last stop for the day was the newly dedicated Kansas City temple. We just walked around the grounds. It is beautiful, but we were surprised how small it looked in person!

Well, I was going to try to fit everything in and make this the last trip post, but there is still enough left for one more.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 3)

This post is a continuation of pictures and commentary from our recent tour of historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can see the first post here; the second post here. If you are unfamiliar with the Church, a great website to explore is, where you can learn what we believe, what we are all about, meet members, and find answers to common questions. As always, feel free to ask us questions as well!

We allowed ourselves two full days in Nauvoo, IL on our trip, and I am very glad we did. Even still, we didn't see everything we had hoped to!

Nauvoo was Joseph Smith's "City Beautiful" and a gathering place for the Latter-day Saints from 1839 to 1845. The Saints relocated to Illinois after experiencing persecution, mob violence and eventually an extermination order in Missouri. Nauvoo, along the Mississippi River, started out as a swamp, but through faith, prayers, and a lot of hard work, it was transformed into a bustling community. The Saints even built a temple! More information about the history of the Church in Nauvoo can be found in the Institute manual Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapters 17 and 19.

We enjoyed several really tasty meals in Nauvoo, and had to laugh at the creativity and humor of the business owners there:

"Buy our pizza, we knead the dough"
"Do not block door: violators will have their cars ticketed, towed, sold for parts. What's left will be crushed, melted down, and turned into rebar." The little sign to the right says "Last car parked here. Rest of car is reinforcing Blimpie's parking lot" and is pointing to some scraps of rebar :o)
On an ice cream/custard shop: "Sundae... closed. Mondae...(etc.)". Their vanilla custard was delish.
We were able to see the Nauvoo Pageant while we were there. The pageant plays every summer for about a month. It is extremely well done, and if you ever get a chance to visit Nauvoo, I would invite you to go during pageant season so you can see this magnificent play! It tells the story of Nauvoo, Joseph Smith, and the Saints.

If you've been counting, you know this is the third Church pageant we've seen this year. I would say it was my favorite. It also is around several weeks longer each year than the others we saw. One of my favorite things about it was how interactive the stage was! For instance, the actors "built" this temple during the play:

Another favorite part was the end, when the actual temple was illuminated, on the hill behind where the pageant is held:

Historic Nauvoo is so cool. Visiting there is like stepping back in time. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has basically rebuilt or restored a bunch of important buildings of the time - such as the blacksmith shop, the brickyard, the gun shop, and a few homes - and the public can tour the various buildings. The tour guides are missionaries (young and old), dressed in pioneer garb.

The spirit here is one of gratitude for the early Saints and of faith in God and in His plan for eternal families. I enjoyed the historical information, but even more, I enjoyed the lessons from the lives of stalwart individuals and the applications to our lives.

Most of the rest of the pictures in this post are in chronological order. We saw the pageant on Friday night, and the rest of our sightseeing was done on Saturday and Sunday.

The Family Living Center was one of our first stops. In this building, missionaries narrate and demonstrate various handicrafts of the pioneers. Some skills were common knowledge at the time, and necessary to keep a household running; other trades were learned over the course of years.

Making candlesticks fell into the category of "common knowledge" in the 1800s. Fat was boiled for days and then cotton wicks, tied around small rocks, were dipped over and over again to form tall, straight candles. The rocks were cut off when the candles were thick enough, and the tallow on the rocks was allowed to re-melt in the pot.
Coopering - or making barrels - was a skilled craft, which required apprenticeships of several years in order to master the trade. Barrels were sold with no openings - they had to be drilled in after they were made. The most skilled coopers were able to make water-tight barrels.
In addition to touring the many sites available, we saw a play in the Nauvoo Visitors' Center.

We drove to Carthage to visit Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyrum were martyred on June 27, 1844 (more information here).

Water lilies on the Mississippi River
The upstairs window, approximately centered in this photo, from which Joseph Smith, Jr. fell after being shot by a mob.
Although the events at Carthage were tragic and caused much confusion and heartache for the Saints at the time, the restored jail is a peaceful place where visitors are invited to ponder on the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We consider Joseph's martyrdom a witness to the truth of his message.

Joseph Smith, Jr., and his brother Hyrum
This is a hole from a bullet in the original door to the upstairs room in Carthage Jail. It was the only thing that separated the mob from the prophet and his friends (his brother Hyrum, John Taylor and Willard Richards) at the time of the martyrdom.
"I never feel to force my doctrine upon any person. I rejoice to see prejudice give way to truth, and the traditions of men dispersed by the pure principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ."--Joseph Smith, Jr. This monument, and several others like it, line the entrance to the jail.
After Carthage, we headed back to Nauvoo. In addition to these sights, we also went on a tour of historic sites owned by the Community of Christ (also in Nauvoo). Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history. It was interesting to note the different spirit there however.

The Homestead
The Community of Christ owns a reconstructed version of the Red Brick Store, where the Relief Society, the world's largest women's organization, was first organized "under the priesthood and after the order of the priesthood."

After our tour, we headed back to the LDS Historic Nauvoo.

We just had to go to the blacksmith shop:

They actually do smithing in this old-time shop!
And the wainwright & wheelwright shop:

Our final stop before tour hours ended was this old-time apothecary/general store:

Here are a couple more pictures from this part of our trip:

Calm as a Summer's Morn, found at the Joseph and Hyrum Smith Memorial, depicts Joseph & Hyrum heading to Carthage (and their deaths)
The original Nauvoo Temple was destroyed shortly after the Saints left Nauvoo. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reconstructed the temple and it was dedicated in 2002. We took the opportunity to attend the temple while we were in Nauvoo and it was a wonderful experience! It is breathtakingly beautiful, inside and out, and holds much meaning for us and many other Latter-day Saints.

One final picture before I wrap up this post. We stayed at Camp Nauvoo while visiting. Tent camping there is really inexpensive ($3/person/night), but for a little bit extra ($9/person/night) we were able to stay in their (air-conditioned and lighted) cabins for 2 of our 3 nights there. They are frequently booked during summer by large groups, but it's a pretty sweet deal if you can manage to get a cabin. It's not like a Marriott or anything by any means, but the showerhouse/restroom building has running water and the showers were hot :o)