Birds, Flowers and the Temple

I have so many beautiful pictures of birds and flowers here in Nauvoo.  I thought I’d turn a “new leaf” and start posting more often in 2016.  It is always very busy here in #historicNauvoo as a missionary, and this blog has always been the last on my list.   I have been taking photos all year long and would like to share more of them with all of you.

Cardinals hold a special magic for this western girl who has never seen them before.  They dominate the bird feeder outside my window, unless Mr. Squirrel comes by, then they have to wait patiently for their turn.  Also pictured are Woodpeckers and tiny grey Tittle-mouse.

These are the spring flowers from last year.  Nice to look at a little color in anticipation of their blooms in just a few months.    Finally, It wouldn’t be a Nauvoo Mission Blog without a picture of the Temple.  We attend every Tuesday evening with our cast.  It’s such a pleasure to be inside, and share the peace and quiet with those we serve with everyday.   As missionaries in Nauvoo,  we really grow close during the winter.   There are also pictures of the beautiful murals inside, the stained glass and the spiral staircase.

Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.   Our job is easy when God’s creations abound around us and testify of Him daily.  His love for each one of us, no matter what our circumstance, is evident.


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Windows and Cabins

So you may be wondering about the wonderful round windows I feature on the heading of my blog.    They are the work of Charles Allen a master window maker.    I met him at his store, Allyn House when I was in Nauvoo in 2008.    I was very sad to find out that he passed away April of 2013.   His fascinating autobiography, Window Maker tells of the incredible building of the restored Nauvoo Temple.   His workshop is still on display in the Allyn House Shop and you can see these beautiful windows up close.


Detail of the Nauvoo Temple designed by architect William Weeks in 1845 and restored in 2002.

Why do the stars point downward?   These circular star windows are above the Sun Stones which cap each colonnade that encircle the temple.   The Sun Stones represent the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ being restored to the earth as the Sun rises out of the clouds of darkness.   All things point to this.  So the stars positioned above these sunstones on the temple are pointing to the central message of the temple.

Temple at sunset 62015The windows themselves carry symbolism of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is called the “bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). The starstones on the Nauvoo Temple, some with their unique lengthened ray, are a symbol of Jesus Christ as the morning star. The morning star is Venus and has an extended ray downward.   The circle is a symbol of eternity and it is wholly fitting that the symbol of Jesus Christ in the circular windows (five-pointed stars) is framed by a circle.

Charles Allen also wanted to build a 2 story split log cabin using only tools that existed in 1840 here in historic Nauvoo.   He accomplished that in 1991 and built the Calvin Pendleton Log Cabin and Schoolhouse I told about in my last blog.   He cut down trees with hand saws,  scraped the bark off and hand planed all his lumber using crude tools.

As you enter the stairway to the second floor you will see the mark above the handle of the shovel.

As you enter the stairway to the second floor you will see the mark above the handle of the shovel.

Charles Allen,  had a particularly difficult day during construction, both personally and with the challenge of the build. He made a mark, his signature if you will, on the cabin wall, in recognition of the trials we all endure in this life.

The mark is an 'X' carved into the log.

The mark is an ‘X’ carved into the log.

It is powerful to see his mark, know that I once talked with him in Nauvoo and that I can share his cabin with visitors each day, and together we marvel at the industry of the saints in 1839 as they built their city in just 7 years.   Most of the homes were log homes in the bustling city.


How many homes?   In the city that rivaled Chicago at the time, the largest city in Illinois, there were 1500 log homes built, 650 frame homes and 350 brick homes.  The saints left 2500 homes empty when they left Nauvoo,  because their lives were threatened because of their religious beliefs.  Most of them received nothing from their homes and went west.   That’s the math quiz for today.  Now, remember the spelling quiz from the last post?  I know it was many months ago… so you might want to revisit that post for the quiz.

Answers:   POTATOES,  KNEES (OR NIECE), CUPBOARD,  SHOES, UTENSILS, ISSUE, WEARING APPAREL, and GIRL      How many did you get right?


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Back to School

Sister Ramsey and I are ringing the bell to begin class.

Sister Ramsey and I are ringing the bell to begin class.

Here in Nauvoo you can find out about the University of Nauvoo in the Calvin Pendleton Log Home and Schoolhouse.   What? A University in Nauvoo?   The University of Nauvoo was written into the Nauvoo City Charter, as well as, a State Police Force called the Nauvoo Legion.  Joseph Smith, during his time in Liberty Jail, Mo, decided that he would build up a new city in Illinois with protections for the Saints, so they did not suffer the same persecutions they had in Missouri.     He was held on false charges and released finally, but he used his time there to plan  Nauvoo.   The University of Nauvoo was on paper only, a system sanctioned by the State of Illinois in the City Charter in 1841, whereby teachers could be certified and instruction was encouraged for everyone.  There were 86 certified teachers in Nauvoo.


Power on your tablet. Today we will be using the chalk and eraser apps….

In the 1840’s spelling had not been standardized.   We have taken 8 actual words from the journals of the pioneers, and it is a fun game to see if visitors can figure out what the word would be.  So here goes!  See if you can get them!


I’ll post the answers in the next post.

Pendleton Log School House 004Calvin Pendleton was a doctor in Nauvoo.   He attended the Eclectic School of Medicine in Ohio which combined Thomsonian and Native American medicine.   He learned the use of herbs, letting nature heal with rest, temperance, using preventative medicine and proper diet.   This is in harmony with our Word of Wisdom  today.   For Mormons it is more than just avoiding coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol and harmful drugs.

Calvin Pendleton’s love of learning, to be a doctor and a teacher in Nauvoo,  exemplifies the secular and spiritual learning we seek.   I was taught that whatever principle of intelligence I attain in this life, it will rise with me in the resurrection.  D&C 130:18-19.         He also worked with Jonathan Browning in his gunshop making rifles and stayed in Council Bluffs for several years with him and my great-great-grandfather, Richard Ballantyne, who was a wagon maker, to help the more than 30,000 saints coming from Europe to be outfitted with wagons, guns and supplies for their trip west to Salt Lake City. He settled in Parowan, Utah where he died in 1873.

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My, it’s been so long since I’ve written a post…   So, I have been thinking, and thinking much more than writing…       I look at my feet.


When we walk to church, we pass the restored Nauvoo Temple on our way, every Sunday..  I think about the places I walk.

I think about the places I walk.  Elder Sudweeks and I walk to church because it is so close.  Is it possible to take 365 pictures of the Nauvoo Temple?

We love to see the Temple every day!    

Temple at sunset 62015 DSC01947These are my shoes.  I wear them every day.  They are my pioneer shoes.  Here they are on a Rag rug,  The pioneer rag rugs made from scraps of fabric, old dresses, or worn blankets, cut into strips and woven into runners on thChicago Nauvoo 2008 210e looms.   The pioneers wrote about their ‘shouse’ in their journals because that’s what it sounds like when you try to write a word that you hear!

This is the way Nauvoo looked when the pioneers first arrived in 1839.  Their shouse walked on this rough field by the Mississippi as they cleared fields for their homes and farms.   Most of this work was done by the women because the men were away on missions to bring the message of the gospel to the world.  When they got home, they would build log and brick homes for their families.                                                                         My shouse took me to the Blacksmith Shop when I was here in 2008.   This is wChicago Nauvoo 2008 144here my GGGrandfather, Richard Ballantyne worked and was a manager of the Coach and Carriage Company in Nauvoo in 1840.  He built wagon wheels.   I looked at my shoes and thought about the footsteps of Richard Ballantyne as he worked every day here after he came from Scotland, to build Zion in America.


After a long day showing people all these wonderful places,   I get 30 minutes to put my feet up before we go to the Cultural Hall to sing and dance for the nightly live show of ‘Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo’.   Elder Sudweeks and I put on our show costumes and ‘show shouse’ to kick up our heels and have some fun every night except Sunday.     I look at my feet and marvel that I have this opportunity to walk where my ancestors wIMAG1535alked,  dance where they danced and work where they worked.    We are loving being missionaries in #historicnauvoo.   These are my black suede pioneer dancin’ shoes on the theatrical red carpet on the Cultural Hall Stage.


Come Walk the Streets of Old Nauvoo, Meet me at Kimball and Main, We’ll stroll along to Water Street and Past the Red Brick Store again…… This is what we sing as we dance the Grand Right and Left. Yup! That’s Elder Sudweeks on the left, DANCING!

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A little of this, and a little of that.

Today I made pioneer bread with Sister Johnson in the Family Living Center.  0219151108a_2The center is a large building in historic Nauvoo,  with displays and hands-on learning about daily life in Nauvoo in the 1840’s.   You can learn how to bake ash bread, candles, a barrel tight enough to hold liquid, or how to spin yarn, weave rugs, or throwDSC01948 a decorative pot.

In the 1840’s most Nauvoo residents lived in log cabins.  Their kitchens were next to the fireplace in one corner of the cabin.  Cook stoves were available for purchase from St. Louis, but most Nauvoo residents could not afford them.

Let’s make some pioneer bread!  First we need to build a fire in the bustle oven to get the bricks nice and hot.


Sister Johnson tests the oven heat by placing her hand on the bricks to feel how hot they are.

While the bricks heat up, we will make the bread dough with a little of this and a little of that.  We stirred the dry ingredients;  2 T yeast, 1 C sugar, 1 C powdered milk and 1/2 C potatoe flakes in a large bowl to mix them together.  Then we stirred in 5 C warm water.


The bowl with the dough is placed in a proofing box with a bowl of hot tap water and the lid goes on. Here it sits in yummy moist warmth for 1 hour.

Next we mixed in 5 C wheat flour and 6 C bread flour just until the flour was wet in most areas and began to make a ball.  Then we sprinkled 1/2 C oil and 1 heaping T salt over the top, covered the bowl and let it rest 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the moist ingredients.   Then you scoop the dough out onto a canvas and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. DSC01951Next we will turn it out on our canvas, and cut it into 6 -8 loaves.   Each little loaf is pinched and pushed (never punched) and gently formed and rolled into a small round loaf.

DSC01954 DSC01955DSC01956After the second rise, the little loaves are scored with a sharp knife in a tic tac toe pattern.

While we were getting the loaves ready, the fire was removed fromDSC01957 the oven and the brick interior was allowed to cool down to the ideal temperature of 420 degrees.  The first batch will bake for about 20 minutes.  The second batch of bread will bake longer because the bricks are beginning to cool down.


Two of these loaves DSC01962will go to the new missionary couples arriving tomorrow.   We carry on the tradition of our pioneer ancestors who brought fresh bread to those in need arriving daily from all parts of the world in old Nauvoo.   Jesus Christ is referred to in the Bible as the Bread of Life, and isn’t he the staple that we all need to be fed and have eternal life?  “John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger;..”

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Sunday Afternoon with Brigham Young

As our first week of Missionary assignments approached Sunday, I looked forward to the Sunday afternoon to get caught up on blogging, scripture study, and my favorite, a nap.   Then we realized, when church meetings were done, after a 1.5 hour breakBrigham_Young_home_Nauvoo for lunch we were to open the Brigham Young Home site for the day and give tours until 5pm, followed by another 1.5 hour break and then evening missionary meetings. We work in the sites 6 days a week including Sundays.  We only have one day off, Saturdays, it’s called our P-Day or Personal Day.  While our work week is somewhat daunting in it’s scope, it is welcome work. These are the things we taught in the Brigham Young Home.

We are left to ponder, what is our strongest impression from our own conversion story and how often have we reflected on it’s power to guide us through troubled waters.

In this room we bear testimony that the Holy Ghost reveals truths, just like when Brigham Young first heard of the gospel from “a man without eloquence and simple of speech” who said “I know by the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord, the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding…”.   Brigham Young is baptised and then travels to Kirtland, Ohio to meet the Prophet for the first time.  Through the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost from that first statement from the simple in-eloquent missionary, through his trials and challenges in the church, until his death, he bears an unwavering devotion to Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ.


As Elder Sudweeks bore his testimony of the powerful feeling he felt in this room, that here indeed is where these great men most likely knelt to pray to Heavenly Father for direction for His church, his eyes welled with tears,(and mine, too) as we felt the sacred power of standing in this very place where it all happened in 1844-1846.

In this room of his home, an addition to the main house, and called the Council Room, Brigham Young assembles the 12 apostles together after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith to plan for the future of the church and how they will guide the Saints, west to the Rockies.  He was a young man then and the portrait is of him as Gov. of Utah, painted many years later in Salt Lake City.   IMAG1327Brigham Young guides the church with the 12 apostles for a few years before he is actually ordained the next President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 12 Apostles at the time of Joseph Smith’s death: Brigham Young, Heber C Kimball, Orson Hyde, Parley Pratt, William Smith, Orson Pratt,  John Page, John Taylor, Willford Woodruf, George A. Smith, Willard Richards and Lyman Wight. Not all of these men will go West with the majority of the Saints, and the order of the ’12’ changes over the next 2 years.


Above ground root cellar and well. He built his cellar above ground because the flat land often had floods which got into the basements.

IMAG1312The Kitchen Dining Room with the bustle oven.  Plates on the table and pottery in the cabinet were among the largest single find of 19 Century ceramic artifacts in America, right here under Brigham Young’s root cellar.  These are the plates used by his family and pottery pitchers he brought back from his mission in England.IMAG1318 Now, suddenly working on Sundays is the best it could ever be!  How many people get the chance to spend their Sunday Afternoons walking in the footsteps of inspired people?


Don’t you love the view from the kitchen door, of the Mississippi? I can imagine the family enjoying this view as they prepared their meals in the cozy fireplace kitchen to the right of this door.

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From Our Christmas Card to You.

Most of you received a Christmas Card from us with a house on Page Street.   We did find the exact location of the photo.  It is in Nauvoo proper, not the historical area.  It was a garage next to an equally charming log cabin home, and it was occupied, so we did not want to trespass.   But I promised a picture of us on Christmas Day in our pioneer clothes so we chose the Patty Sessions cabin in historic Nauvoo.  7M3A9418

Christmas Day was sunny and a warm 38 degrees.  Needless to say, we look forward to our cozy home and warm baths at the end of the busy days in this mission!

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The Dresses!

Here is my collection of Nauvoo Dresses.   7M3A9458Enjoy the pictures!   Most will have to be changed because the Salt Lake committee wants all the sleeves the same, and no trim or lace.   7M3A9428Luckily I was able to show the head seamstress that all the fabrics were indeed prints from that time period, although the bright blue one will be dyed deeper as they like jewel tones.7M3A9420   So I will be making some alterations before they can be worn on the sites.7M3A9409

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Merry Christmas!

IMAG1296Merry Christmas! IMAG1304This afternoon all the 50+ Missionaries gathered for Christmas Dinner together.   Each cookie had our name on them.

Tomorrow will be our 1st week anniversary!  Our week has been full of meetings with the Mission Presidency and many new friends.  So far we’ve hosted at the Family Living Center where Elder Sudweeks taught visitors how to make rope.


The next day he made the famous Nauvoo bricks.  They have to make 20,000 bricks before summer and they are done 4 at a time.

7M3A9414I worked in the Lyon Drug and Mercantile. This is the Patty Sessions cabin behind it.  As a midwife she delivered over 4000 babies.

I showed how children captured bees in a box, coated them with flour, then set them free.  The bee flew slow and low and the children were able to follow the bee back to the hive.   Each family would mark the tree where their hive was with initials, and they would respect each families hive.  If, the bee flew back to a hive with no initials, they would build a small fire underneath and smoke the bees to the top of the hive where they would protect the queen bee.  They they could reach in the bottom and harvest the honey.

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OBEDIENCE “Why do you want to go on a mission?” asked Stake President Tsersigni during our missionary interview that gave us cause to ponder and search our souls. I immediately responded with my desire to fulfill a goal I had set for myself many years ago; to spend 2 years doing only what God asks me to do, and following His will 24/7 was the ultimate service and life goal.
The attention now fell to Larry. As I turned to look at the man sitting next to me, I saw deep emotion, his face full of color and tears welling in his eyes. “I am the father of my family,” he began. Finding words to explain his deep feelings was difficult. “It’s time for me to step up to the plate in my family and do what a father should do in his family. I want to go on a mission to fulfill my part.” Tears now began to choke his words. “My patriarchal blessing says that I will serve a mission. But, as a youth when I was called by my Bishop to go, I could not because I had been drafted and was to report to the Army that week. I have waited all my life to obey that call. My son’s both served full time missions. I was so proud of them, of all my children who have been so faithful in the church. My dad and my brothers served. Now it is my turn.”
I thought of this as I watched, Larry, looking at the large map in the Mission Training Center loIMAG1272bby. Here is an obedient man. He obeyed the call to serve his country, to do his duty, never a thought that he was risking his life for God and Country. “It’s my duty, now, to finally serve the Lord and go on a mission for my family.” Here he stands 45 years later to fulfill that call.
The Stake President looked over our application for a service mission. He paused, looking intently at Larry, “If, the Church Presidency decide differently, and you are called to a proselyting mission, will you accept that call?” I held my breath, knowing that Larry would rather work and do service with his hands and that this question made him uncomfortable. His answer was immediate, soft and humble. “Yes.”


This certifies that the bearer, (our name), who is in full faith and fellowship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been duly called and set apart as a missionary of the Church and as such has authority to preach the principles of the gospel. We invite all people to heed their message. Signed by the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

Obedience is a gift, a quality, a talent in Larry. One of the reasons I love him and can completely trust him. And the tender mercy from the Lord, is that He called us to a mission that combines Larry’s desire to build with my desire to teach and share my love of historical art. And the funny thing is, that this  week of Preach My Gospel training in the Missionary Training Center, has made Larry into the best proselyting Elder. He is powerful as he shares his feelings and speaks about the Gospel.

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