October 13, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been another good week. There are always ups and downs, but overall it has been a very good week. It has definitely cooled down, but is generally comfortable outside without even a jacket. The leaves are only beginning to turn, even though it is almost Halloween. The mission is getting ready for a big Halloween event in Nauvoo. Hundreds of children will be coming to a Trunk-or-Treat event, but more on that later.
Elder Campbell fixed fence and gates in various areas. He also helped shingle Elder and Sister Taylor’s home. The mission follows quite a schedule to keep all of the buildings and properties in repair.
I served in FM on Monday, pruning the bushes by the outdoor theater. It was thoroughly fun. I also served in several of the sites during the week. I do get frustrated sometimes because it seems that no matter who I serve with, my companion is better at knowing what to say than I. I always discuss the tour in advance with my companion, to take turns being the lead speaker, with the other reiterating or testifying additionally of what was said. Here is what I wrote in my journal about that.
My companion “always gave more no matter whose turn it was. I realized I didn’t want her to stop talking so much, as what she was saying was always good. I prayed about it diligently and in earnest while she took a group upstairs. The next tour when I testified ‘my tongue was loosed’ and I bore witness of the key message, that it was by hard work that the Seventies succeeded in completing their building, allowing us to tell the story now. I said the whole city of Nauvoo was built through hard work so that we could come back and see it and learn of the sacrifices they made for religious freedom.
“Then I said that we also have to work hard for our testimony through faith, prayer, and study. I said that we can and will gain a testimony if we work at it and persist.
“They were all listening, but one young lady, who had said she was trying to decide whether or not to serve a mission, was very intent on what I said. I thank God for answering my prayer and helping me in what to say today.”
Elder Campbell and I each débuted our new parts in Rendezvous. He as Brother Gailey, and I sang a duet with Elizabeth. We were both rather nervous, but we both did well and got several compliments afterwards.
Yesterday we went with Elder and Sister Stringham and Ed and Eunice Johnson to the 2013 Scenic Drive Festival in the villages of Van Buren County in SE Iowa. First we had lunch at an Amish farm. The Amish do not use electricity to do their cooking, lights, or heating, but do use propane. The food was excelllent. Amish children were seated at a picnic table outside eating. The girls wore white day caps. The boys wore tall beanie caps. They all wore old-fashioned clothing. Horse-drawn buggies were arriving to the big event.
We also went to an Amish furniture store. There were many clever and beautiful pieces of furniture and toys all made out of wood. In Bentonsport and Bonaparte we saw some brick homes similar to the period homes here. They were made by the Mormon pioneers as they passed through in 1846, probably to help pay their way West.
My favorite stop was a Mormon gravesite north of Milton, Iowa. It was only available to see during this festival. The man waiting for visitors asked if we were all Mormons. He said that he was a Methodist. He told us that it was a special place. The tour guide, also not a Mormon, was a historian and retired educator. He took us to the gravesite, about four-hundred yards away at a secluded spot in a wooded area.
He told us all about it, and then he told us about the sesquicentennial of the Mormon trek into Salt Lake City. He had been in charge of a big part of the trek, and was actually driving the lead wagon as they drove into the Salt Lake valley. The wagon train was the last part of a huge Pioneer Day parade honoring their 1847 arrival. I wondered why he was talking about this, thinking that it had little to do with those two souls who were buried there. But we all listened. It was something important to him. He said that the shout that went up as they drove into view was incredible. He hadn’t realized what he had taken part in until he saw an old man holding his hat on his chest, tears streaming down his face, saying, ”Thank you.”
I wondered why non-Mormons had an interest in that gravesite. Eunice told me that this was a part of their history. The Mormons coming through Iowa were a part of their history. Iowa became a state in December 1846, largely because of the population boost the Mormons gave them at that time.
Well, this letter is rather long, so I’d better close. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and that a man can get nearer to God by abiding by the precepts in the Book of Mormon than by any other book!
Elder and Sister Campbell
P.S. The mission choir sang in Sacrament Meeting today. They sang an arrangement of “If the Savior Stood Beside Me.” They did a beautiful job, and many people commented on it afterwards, saying how wonderful they sounded. Even the choir members were amazed at their sound. I believe that we had angels helping us!
– Eunice, Ed, Sister Campbell, Elder Stringham, Sister Stringham, tour guide (above)
– House that Elder Campbell helped shingle
– Historical spot where the Mormons crossed the Des Moines River
– Amish horse-drawn cart
– Amish getting out of horse-drawn cart
– Elder and Sister Campbell, Ed and Eunice Johnson, Sister and Elder Stringham on bridge to Bentonsport
– Sister Campbell with several sisters after pruning
– Elder and Sister Campbell at Mormon gravesite