Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First off: a big, BIG thank you from myself and Sister Hughes for your prayers. Literally, on Friday is when Sister Hughes started to feel better. She was seriously sick, and we were all very worried about her but thanks to Heavenly Father she was healed!
Nauvoo is in full swing as we finally pass through the half-way mark! The little town of Nauvoo is just flooded with people. To give an example of how much we teach compared with normal missions: Our Standard of Excellence in Idaho was 20 lessons per week, which was wonderful, and meant that you had some really great lessons every day. Also, that is the average amount of lessons in any mission, some people have a pre-conceived notion that "Well it's Idaho which does not have very many members" (lies!) but 20 lessons a week is pretty good.  Well for example, here in Nauvoo on Wednesday we had 39 lessons. Lessons, not tours. Tours are more like when you testify while giving history, and it can be either in the VC or a site, but I am saying 39 lessons!!!! We were in the Visitor's Center and taught that many lessons to non-members and members who needed strengthening. It is incredible the experience we have here in Nauvoo. The Lord truly is hastening his work!

To give an example of how many visitor's there are, I will paint a picture of what the town of Nauvoo is. So, Nauvoo is a little bump along something called "The River Road" that goes all the way along the Mississippi River. As you head north, you pass by signs advertising Historic Nauvoo (where I am at) and then the road winds up the hill, and BAM! There is the Temple. It just pops out of no where, and it is simply beautiful. Then, you drive through Modern-day Nauvoo, where there is not a single stop light or stop sign along the main street of the town, which is called Mulholland St. The population of the town is 1,000 people. Now to paint a picture of how many visitors we have every day, the seats we have set up for the Pageant is just over 3,000 seats, and this whole summer they have been filled every night.  Most nights we even have to pull down additional seats from back stage so some poor souls won't have to stand up the entire time. (Also, trust me on the fact that none of those seats are taken by the residents of Nauvoo- they come for the Country Fair to socialize, and then as soon as the bagpipes start up and announce the beginning of the Pageant, they are out!) So, over 3,000 people are here visiting from all over the world, and every day is just a joy. 
The other day, we were actually talking about how there are so many people here with a guest. The guest asked if I tended to see anyone that I knew before my mission, and I just said, "No, not really". Well, maybe my saying that made Heavenly Father remember me, or just to prove He has a sense of humor; within 24 hours of that conversation I saw five groups of people that I know! FIVE. Literally, on Wednesday, had that conversation, and by Thursday night I had seen 1) The Williams family from CA. I just love Sister Williams so much! Good memories of Girl's Camp when I was younger :) 2) Pasha from the FLSR! He apparently is working in Chicago this summer, and brought his other roommate from the Russian House, Casey, with him. I loved seeing them, and it was a blast to talk with a friend from home again! 3) Brother Sudweeks, who was a counselor in my FLSR  Ward (sorry, Foreign Language Student Residence, where I spent my Freshman year of college and was in the German House) and I had actually seen Brother Sudweek's son, Clinton a few weeks earlier because he was here with the Jazz Group, Synthesis. 4) A student who I knew from my Outbound at BYU-Idaho, where he was a WML for my investigator Brady (who got baptized a few weeks after I left :) and then 5) Sisters Zibetti, McInelly and Umphenour from last summer came back to visit! It was so fun to see them and to see how we have all changed! 

On Friday night we were walking around after the British Pageant trying to talk with people when Sister Mills and I felt prompted to talk to a man that had been in a tour with us earlier that day. Turns out that the reason why we could not understand him very well is because he doesn't really speak English very well! His English name was David, he speaks Mandarin Chinese, and is from Queens, NY. He had gotten a flight into Burlington Iowa earlier that day, and had figured that there would be taxi's to take him places. Well the poor guy did not know what he was getting himself into out here in the boonies of the Midwest, and was able to get a ride here but could not find one back to the airport for the next day. We could not even communicate with him, and could NOT find anyone who could take him to the airport. All of the missionaries had to work that day, and we called locals and no one could take him, and Sister Mills sent a prayer, and the next thing we heard was "Sister Mills! Sister Allred!" A family that we had talked to earlier that day came over to us, and I remembered that they had said they had flown their private plane into the Burlington Airport. So, we tell them the situation, and Brother Stewart heads over to David and starts to bust out his Chinese. Turns out that over 20 years ago he spoke Cantonese on his mission to Hong Kong, and that David knew Cantonese in addition to Mandarin! Whew! The blessings were just coming all over the place and we were so grateful!!!

On Saturday we were assigned to work at the Seventies Hall to help out with the vignette "Go Ye Unto All The World". It is a little play that tells the stories from the Missions of Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young. The actors are all of the core cast from the Pageants, and do an excellent job. The Seventies Hall was the first MTC, where missionaries (or men who were ordained Seventies aka missionaries, hence Seventies Hall) would come and be taught before they headed off to England, Hawaii or other parts of the US. It is such a wonderful experience to be able to see these stories acted out right in front of you, in the building where these men taught other missionaries and I am sure, shared these same stories. One of my favorite stories is how John Taylor goes back to his homeland of England and shares the gospel with his wife's family. How wonderful it is to be able to see those you love to enjoy the same happiness you do, and to be able to say, "Now we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and His restored Gospel!" Stories like that, where you share the gospel with those you love is what missionary work is all about!
Also, I love being "behind the scenes" with any performances like this. Robin is a RM from England who plays Arthur Ashton in the British Pageant and Elijah Fordham in the Nauvoo Pageant is simply hilarious. The other cast members make faces at one another, and like to mess around with the Sister Missionaries. It is pretty amusing, and we like it!

One thing that has struck me as I go around Pageant grounds is how members react to anti-mormon literature. If there is a man, standing on a pedestal, yelling Bible verses through a microphone, then they avoid that area like the plague. However, if the Anti-'s are just standing there, smiling, asking if they would like a newspaper, members will take it, see that it is Anti- and then still hold onto it! I am serious! These people are killing me! One night Sister Mills and I sat down next to an older couple and saw they had one. We had a wonderful conversation about how they were from UT, and were so proud of their pioneer heritage. They even went on to list the sacrifices their ancestors had made so that this wonderful couple could have the gospel. We asked as we were leaving, we kindly informed them about the newspaper and offered to dispose of it for them. The wife looked at her husband, and quietly said, 'Well, we would actually like to keep it. We think it it interesting". Another experience is as I was at the Missionary Kiosk one day, a woman came up to me holding the Anti-newspaper, and after telling her about it she looked at me and said, 'Well, I want to keep it so I can be up to date on what they are saying.... if it every comes up you know!" 

All I can say, is that there must be a disconnect with people. Satan is subtle, and you just don't mess around with things like that. If your ancestors gave up so much for you, honor their sacrifice and don't play with fire.
I have felt so blessed to be here and to know and learn about my own ancestors. I feel honored to be in this place, and will forever strive to continue their legacy of righteousness.

I love you all! Have a great week!

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