On Sunday morning we went to Church in Nauvoo at 8am. There must have been 700 people there! It was insane what with all the visitors and tourists! All I could think about was: if I were called to be nursery leader in this ward, I would kill myself :) But Church was awesome...I've never seen a sacrament executed so efficiently. You'd think that with 700 people it would take forever, but these guys had it down to a science. General MacArthur couldn't have come up with anything better!

Sidenote: owing to the sheer mass of people in attendance at sacrament meeting, we were unable to locate our custard friends and pay them their $3! Brock and I have decided to take another trip to Nauvoo ourselves in a couple weeks, where we will give those people their money, do a temple session, and eat one of those peanut butter cream cheese brownies :)

After Church we did a little bit more sight-seeing around Nauvoo. All the shops and buildings are still open for tours on Sunday, which surprised me, but I guess when it's your missionary calling to do that, you don't get a day off! We went into the blacksmith where we learned about the tedious process of making covered wagons. And to think that some of those wagons sank midway through the Mississippi! Holy cow. Then I would really kill myself!

We also walked the Trail of Hope, which is the trail that the Saint took towards the river as they left Nauvoo. Along the way, there are dozens of plaques with inscriptions from Saint's journals on them. Each plaque talks about their faith, hardships and trials, and heartache at leaving their beautiful city. The trail ends at the embankment of the Mississppi. It was really cool to stand there and think about all the thousands of people who crossed right where I stood in pursuit of religious freedom.

After the Trail of Hope we went to the gravesite of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith (Joseph's parents were buried there also). It was surreal to be there and know that the prophet's bones were literally right under my feet. Oddly enough, it made him seem more "real" to me. Like, "Oh, wow, he was an actual person, not just a "character" from a book." Pretty cool.

We stopped by the Nauvoo temple for a brief photo op, then headed out of town. When we arrived at Carthage we were pretty tired and didn't want to do the whole 45 minute tour. Luckily, a group was just about to come out of the movie and go into the house, so we dovetailed off of them. Unfortunately, it was a HUGE family reunion! It's great that Mormons have tons of kids and all, but c'mon people! Let's be reasonable here! Birth. Con. Trol. I shouldn't say that. But I did. Anyway! It actually worked out kind of nice. Because we couldn't all fit in one room, Brock and I lagged behind and went into each room after everybody had left. Sure, we missed what the tour guide had had to say (boo hoo) but it was cool to get those rooms basically all to ourselves for a few minutes.

Like Nauvoo, going to Carthage helped me bring things into context. Seeing the stairs that the mobbers came up, the window that Joseph fell out of, the bullet hole in the door that killed, whenever I hear story of their martyrdom I'll be able to picture exactly how it happened. Granted, that's not necessary for one to have an appreciation for Joseph and Hyrum's sacrifice, but I would be lying if I said that it didn't enhance my understanding of it.

We heard the tour guide say that President Kimball had had the blood stain of Joseph removed because A) people were treating it like a shrine and B) it just didn't promote good feelings. So, naturally, after everybody had left the room, Brock, me, and a couple other people from our internship group set out of find it! We lifted a rug up off the floor (seemed like the obvious thing to do...) and there was a circle-shaped segment of the old floor that had been cut out. In its place was a "new" circle of similarly-colored wood, but the grain of the wood went in a different direction than the grain on the floor. Interesting....

Overall, our Nauvoo/Carthage weekend was amazing. Brock and I both enjoyed it immensely--our testimonies of the Restoration were fortified and our spirits uplifted. The cool thing about our religion is that if you believe in the Restoration, you believe in the Church! The two are not mutually exclusive. I guess it could be both a blessing and a curse...but for us it was a blessing :) I love this gospel, and I'm grateful beyond belief for the sacrifices of those brave men and women who gave everything to ensure that it would be brought forth in the latter days.


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