Nauvoo Week 15 (21 – 27 March 2016)
Another fantastic week in Nauvoo! Time is passing so quickly, it seems like we are writing a new blog every other day. This week began with all of the Temple Missionary sisters attending a special Reenactment of the organization of the Relief Society in the Red Brick Store that was originally formed on March 17, 1842. All of the “Site” Missionary sisters had participated in the reenactment on the 17th, but the Temple sisters were serving in the Temple that day. All of the sisters and brothers portraying Joseph and other Priesthood leaders were dressed in Nauvoo era dresses and suits. The event was held in the upper room of the store and Sharon said, was very well portrayed with the formation and sustaining of the first Relief Society Presidency; Emma Smith (an Elect Lady)-President, Sarah Cleveland and Elizabeth Whitney as Counselors and Eliza R Snow as Secretary. Later in the week we attended a lecture by Susan Easton Black Durrant that stated the Relief Society was the formal organization which grew out of the “Straw Hat Association” which later became known as the Benevolent Society (constitution written by Eliza R. Snow) and later was organized through the Priesthood and revelation as the Church’s Relief Society. The original Straw Hat Association was formed by the Nauvoo sisters out of their desire to be like other ladies organizations throughout the east that gave/performed service in their respective areas. During the Nauvoo era the Relief Society was not taught by sisters to the sisters but by Priesthood brethren; Joseph, Willard Richards and John Taylor.
During this sister activity, a few of us men played golf at the local golf course in Hamilton. Later that evening we traveled to Burlington, IA to see the movie “Miracles from Heaven.” We are sure many of you have seen it and agree that it had a wonderful message; again showing that God is not dead and that He loves His children.
On Tuesday, we served in the Temple in the evening and then were able to catch the last 25 minutes of Sister Durrant giving a lecture on the Business Associations in Nauvoo (1839-1847). It is surprising to hear that there were so many businesses/occupations in Nauvoo during this time, of course there were many thousands of people living here by now. The following numbers of shops/businesses were located in Nauvoo: 4-Architects (including William Weeks of the Temple), 20-Shoe/Boot makers, 11-Hotels, 11-Mills, 4-Quarries, 12-Dentists, 12-Midwives, 12-Doctors (usually by name only; not necessarily fully trained), 12-Drug Stores, 38-Dry Goods & Grocery Stores, 9-Steamboats, 24-Tailors, 4 Ports of call (all but one charged a “Port Tax”) and 0 (ZERO) Banks. Most all the shopping was done by men because they were considered better “Barterers.” Payment for goods/services was: preferred, but not likely CASH (remember no Banks), 2nd Traded Services, 3rd Traded Products, 4th Short Credit (purchase, pay later), and lastly 5th Long Credit (purchase…usually never paid). By the way, this was how much of the land was purchased in Nauvoo by the Saints.
Wednesday was a normal day in the Temple, serving in the evening and was Scott’s and Jeanne’s Birthday. We spoke with both of them and wished them a Happy Day and Year.
Thursday, again served in the Temple and also attended another lecture by Sister Durrant on Brigham Young. In 1847, Brigham was 46 years old, was leader of the Church and leading the saints to the Rocky Mountains. Of course, on 24 July 1847 Brigham arrives in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. On 26 July, Brigham and the Apostles hike to Ensign Peak and plant a Banner, Joe Hills Johnson was there and later penned “High on a Mountain Top.” On 28 July 1847, Brigham puts his cane in the ground on the Temple Spot and states that here we will build a Temple to our God. Interestingly, many object to this notion and prophecy saying, “Every time we build a Temple (Kirtland, Far West-cornerstone laid, and Nauvoo), persecution rages and soon we are driven out.” Brigham stated that time would be different, this Temple will have 6 spires (3 Melchizedek and 3 Aaronic Priesthood) and it will last into the millennium. People still object and are fearful that only bad things will happen if they build this Temple. Finally, on February 14, 1853 Brigham himself starts to build the Temple, eventually the people rally around him and the foundation is dug from 1853 until 1857; red sandstone is quarried from a nearby quarry and the foundation is being laid. In July 1857, the saints hear the US Army is coming to find out what is happening…a Council on War is formed by Priesthood leaders to determine what they should do…here is a Temple coming out of the ground. They decide to cover up the last 4 years of work and plant a garden. The saints form “prayer circles” in their homes and pray the Army will come and go and that they can build their Temple…saints are now firmly behind Brigham. When the Army leaves the saints again begin to work on the Temple, when they uncover the foundation they see the foundation is cracked by the weight of the earth…how will it ever support the walls and last into the millennium? They begin to remove the foundation stones and (later build the City and County Building) begin to quarry granite from the nearby canyons. The huge stones were transported to the Temple site (with each arrival of a stone there is a big celebration and parade) with much difficulty. Eventually a railroad spur is built up the canyon and the huge stones are transported in this manner decreasing many, many difficulties with the wagons and oxen. Stone cutters opened each huge rock if it was good (grain, no cracks) they used it on the Temple; if not as good discarded and later used on the Assembly Hall.
The Temple is progressing slowly; Brigham and John Taylor die and still the Temple is not completed. Wilford Woodruff is the Prophet when the outside is completed 6 April 1892 (Moroni is placed on top) and they have a huge celebration; they sing “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning” and Wilford prophesied, “If the interior is completed in one year, persecution will end!” The Temple was dedicated exactly one year later on April 6, 1893 (40 years in construction). The dedication lasted three weeks. During the first dedicatory session, Sister Bennett gave birth to a screaming son; he was delivered in a room in the Temple. She returns 8 days later to bless him, his name was Joseph Temple Bennett. An interesting note concerning the design and construction of the angel Moroni; Wilford wanted Cyrus Dallen, a sculptor living in Springville to make the angel. He refused the offer to do so stating “He did not believe in angels,” Wilford even called him into his office to plead with him, his answer again was “No, I don’t believe in angels.” Wilford wanted an upright angel, not the horizontal one that was placed on the Nauvoo Temple. In order to get Brother Dallen to do this he (Wilford) had to resort to using Cyrus’ mother to influence him to do so. She said to him, “Cyrus, do you think I am an angel?” He replied, “Yes,” she then said, “Please build an angel for me.” He eventually built her an angel and it was given to the Church, not because he believed in them, but because his mother was an angel.
Friday and Saturday provided more special experiences in the Temple; miracles happen here every day. There is always something that shows us that this is the work of God and that He is in charge. When things seem impossible; almost immediately there is a solution and things proceed as if there never was a problem.
Sunday was Easter and we along with Elders & Sisters Gammell & O’Brien were in charge of the Temple Missionary dinner. It was originally scheduled to be in the garage of President & Sister McArthur, at the last hour it was changed to the Arrival Center (where families come to prepare to go to the Temple or single adult groups await their turn to go to the Temple-we believe this is a unique feature of the Nauvoo Temple). We moved the furniture, brought in the tables and all other couples brought food assignments. It turned out very nice, the food was excellent and we, as a family of Temple Missionaries, loved being with our family. Of course, we missed being with our own families, but this was a special one-time experience that we will long remember. Following dinner President & Sister McArthur spoke briefly about Easter and some of their favorite memories and testimony of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation…it was a very touching evening.
We want each of you to know that we love you with all of our hearts. We are privileged to be your parents, grandparents and friends. We depend so much on your love, support and understanding to help us do the things that the Lord would have us do at this time of our lives. We pray the Lord’s choicest blessings to be with each of you now and forever.
Mom & Dad/Nana & Papa/ Elder & Sister Shaw