Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Farewell Nauvoo

The time has come for us to leave Nauvoo and head home.  It is bittersweet.  We are excited to once again be home and especially to see our family and friends.  But we are sad to leave Nauvoo and our mission and the wonderful people we've met here.  Our kids tell me that it's always hard to leave a mission so I guess we're normal.

I haven't been blogging so much lately except when our kids have come.  We have both had lots of responsibility and there hasn't been much time for blogging.

I wanted to do one last post and tell you all what we've been doing for the last while.

Mark has been site leader for the teamsters/horse program.  He was in charge of the horses and the rides--carriage, wagon, and oxen.  He was responsible for the care of the horses and for assigning teamsters to the rides and horses to the rides.  He has loved every minute of it.  He loves these horses.

There are 20 horses--10 teams.  They are Belgians and Percherons.
Every morning the horses come in from wherever they are pastured for the night.

Horses coming in

There have been 9 carriage rides a day and 9 wagon rides a day for the summer months.  Each team does 3 rides.  If the heat index gets too high they close the rides.  That only happened one day this year.  We have had a much cooler summer than last year.  So 6 teams work per day on rides and 1 team on the band wagon.  They rotate them so they can rest some.  They don't work on Sunday.  Our sites are open Sundays, but not the horse rides.

Bill and Bob

Chad and Champ
One of the things Mark has done is train the horses to come to their own spot to eat grain in the morning.  Some of them go right into the barn to their spot there and some go to their spot in the corral.  They know where to go and they run right into place every morning.  It is great to watch.

Horses going in the barn

Morning grain
Ten of the horses go in the barn and ten of them eat outside.

There are two barns here. The one on the left stores hay and has a room where the teamsters meet in the mornings. The barn on the right is where they are harnessed and eat their grain.
The above pasture wasn't fenced until recently.  The teamsters have fenced it, and now they can use the pasture.


Besides the 6 teams that pull the rides, one team pulls the Nauvoo Brass Band around town during the summer.  One day in June, they decided to take a picture of their seven wagons/carriages and the horses.  They have enjoyed hitching up four horses to one wagon on occasion so of course they hooked up four to the band wagon.

Here they are lining up by the river for a photo

Here is the photo.  It was taken from an elevated spot.  You can see our driveway near the top left.--across from our bench.

The flatter-roofed vehicles are considered carriages.  They take people out into the countryside.  The more rounded vehicles are considered wagons.  They take people around old Nauvoo and by the river.

Nauvoo Brass Band
The Nauvoo Brass Band is wonderful.  They are here from the first of May until the middle of August.  They are missionaries and live mission rules for a four-month period.  They are aged 18 to 26 or so.  They work very hard all day long and into the night.

We had some muddy time this spring and it was hard for the horses to pull the carriage on the muddy roads.  So they hitched up four horses to do the job.  I wonder if the horses really had trouble or if Mark just wanted to hitch up four horses.  He loves that.

Winter carriage ride with Bill and Bob & Dan and Doc

Sometimes they hitched up Tim and Tom and Mike and Ned.  The carriage rides in Nauvoo are free.  In fact everything is.  I always tell people you can't spend money in Nauvoo unless you want to eat and there's hardly any place to eat.

Carriage ride with Tim & Tom and Mike & Ned
The teamsters got together with the horses one day for a photo.  There were 26 teamsters for most of the summer. 

Teamsters and horses
Here is a closer photo of the teamsters with not all of the horses.  Notice the fence in the background.  That is the fence that they built this spring. 


Saturday was Elder Call and Elder Dahl's last wagon ride.  After the ride, they pull up here so that people can pet the horses and take pictures if they want.  Thanks to Elder Jardine's thoughtfulness, I was able to be the narrator on their last day.

The last carriage ride that Elder Dahl did was Friday.  He narrated this ride.  He does a wonderful job.

Inspiration point--a beautiful spot on the river and part of the carriage ride.

Us with Tim and Tom after the last carriage ride

The horses

The horses

So that is what Mark has been doing the last while.  He has worked with the horses the whole mission but has been in charge the last part.

I began our mission being site leader at the log school.  Then I was assistant site leader at Lands and Records.  Then about the middle of March I was asked to be Rendezvous director.  Rendezvous is a musical play that we senior missionaries present every night except Sunday.  From May till September there are two shows each night.  In the winter there is just one show per night. 

I had absolutely no skills for this job but I was called to do it anyway.  I didn't want to do it at first but  I ended up enjoying it.

Cultural Hall where Rendezvous is performed 6 nights a week
This is the Cultural Hall.  It was started in 1842 and completed in April 1844.  It was used for many things including dramatic productions.  When they had to leave for the west they took the benches out and built wagon boxes inside.  It has been renovated but much of it is original.  Our play is presented on the main level.  It holds app. 100 people.  During the time I was director, we had app. 14,500 people attend the show.  The show is free of course. 

One of the perks of the job is that I had a reserved parking place by the Cultural Hall.
I had a small office in the Visitor's Center.  That is where I worked when not doing practices, etc.

Nauvoo Visitor's Center


Me in my office at the Visitor's Center

 Being Rendezvous director turned out to be a great blessing in my life.  What a privilege it was to work with all of these good people.  I got to know and love them so well.  They worked so hard and always did their best.  It was a wonderful time.
Now a few Rendezvous shots.

During the opening number 4 senior missionaries kick.  The audience isn't expecting that and they love it.

The kickers during the opening number--Welcome
Our mission president and his wife have learned some of the parts and perform them for us on occasion. 

President & Sister Gilliland playing Peter & Abigail
Our own Elder Brough as the doctor--with Agatha on the pole
Elder Dahl and I played Jed and Annie in our cast.  We enjoyed it.  Elder Dahl has a lot of dramatic talent.  Who knew?

Jed & Annie

Jed & Annie

Jed: "We need to stay and fight!'

The other men trying to convince Jed to go west.

This privilege is ours--to share the spirit of Nauvoo--with you.
In the finale, we are all going west.  We sing a beautiful ballad about Nauvoo.

The Calls and us after our Rendezvous finale

Us at the Cultural Hall
I am no longer the Rendezvous director and Elder Dahl is no longer the Teamster's site leader.  We are packing to leave for home on September 5.  We have had a wonderful time and are both so thankful we could serve this mission.  We have learned so much and gained such an appreciation for the early Saints who lived here in Nauvoo.  What a beautiful place it is. 

We will miss the river.

Full moon early one morning from our yard

Full moon through the trees

Heather by the Mississippi

We will miss all of these good people.

This is one of the three current Rendezvous casts.

But we will go home to our mountains which we've missed.  I stole the photos from Thelma's blog.  Thank you, Thelma.
The Mountains behind our house.
No sunsets on the river, but beautiful sunsets
Sunset on the mountains
And we are going home to our dear family and friends.  We can't wait to see you all.

The family we go home to.  They are great.

Thanks for reading about our mission.  Hope to see you soon. 


  1. It has been a wonderful blessing for all of us to visit you and hear about your experiences and see you learn and grow and sacrifice. We are lucky kids to have such parents.

    And we are glad you are coming home!

  2. Thanks for catching us up on the final post, and welcome back to the West!

  3. I know it's bittersweet for you, but it's only sweet for me!

  4. Be safe and we can't wait to hear more in person and to listen to your adventures! You've been fun to hear about and peek a look at on your blog. It's been great to pray for you and thank about you representing our family. I have always looked up to you both....and now I do so even more! What a great blessing for you. I know my parents LOVED their Nauvoo mission and it was a highlight of their life adventures. It's truly a blessed and remarkable place where the spirit is so strong and the history so inspirational. Glad you could experience it first hand. See you soon!