Whenever I Feel the Rain on My Face

There is a big tree that grows out next to the road across from the Printing office. We call it “The Tree”. It is funny how we refer to it. It is a part of our life here. Part of serving and loving this place, of calling it home and driving and walking along those streets everyday.
The Tree now has more meaning to me as It was where I was able to spend some happy time with my family.
Because of the unique aspect of performance in this mission families are able to come visit and watch the shows. I sat under the tree on a bench after our afternoon show of Nauvoo singers with my brother. One of the Elders had let my brother borrow his guitar. He played the song we performed together a few years ago and then entertained us with his other song from Nacho Libre. I was laughing so hard. It was a good reminder of who I am and the happiness that is the plan of God. He intends us to find peace and love within our families. It is the second point of the first lesson in Preach my Gospel. “The Gospel Blesses Families”GArdner FAmily Nauvoo 2017
I loved seeing how the messages we share through our performances touched my family and the multiplicity of visitors that come. Other people’s families.
There was some rain this week and we where all set up to do Trail of Hope. I was so worried we would not be able to finish it because of the oncoming storm. I prayed with all my heart that the rain would hold off so that my family would be able to go through the whole street and that everyone would get to hear our message. The storm stayed off in the distance, the clouds so dark and ominous around us but the rain stayed far enough away. I could see lighting streaking through the clouds. It was beautiful and another one of our Nauvoo miracles.
It was hard to say goodbye to my brother there under the tree the next day, but I know he will serve the people of Spain valiantly and bring many to the knowledge of the gospel. I loved seeing him on stage with me. I loved dancing with my little sisters and seeing my parents happy. It made me think about how I get to help so many families feel that way.sweet Violets
We were wondering where to find some people during Nauvoo Singers. There was no one by the tree and it was a bit of a slow day. We decided to pray and Elder Cottam felt like we should go to the brick yard, The day before we had also felt like we should go. Anyway, We stop and sing a bit on the way, but then we get there and there is no one there. unlike last time. We are wondering what to do, and then we see this mother and father and little girl. We start singing as they approach and then they came over to us. We sang primary songs with the little girl and she was so happy. As we continued to sing and play with her a huge crowd gathered. We finished off with a big audience. In the group I saw a girl wearing a name badge. I went up to her and and said “hello Sister” She did not have a companion around and then I realized she was with her family and coming home from her mission. She had served in Missouri. I was able to put my arms around her and tell her that it will be ok.
Even though finishing my mission was hard, I realize that I have a message of peace to offer to the other full time sisters serving here. Who will be leaving. I love having the perspective I do .Carthage 1
This week after the first Wednesday show of the promise, I was standing outside greeting our audience. This girl comes up to me in tears and hugs me. She explains that she is going through a similar problem as the character I play. He boyfriend is not a member of the church and she is trying to figure out what to do. I did not know exactly what to say except, I know God love you and has a plan for you and you can do what ever it is that He intends for you. But I think that was just what she needed to hear. She said that the show really touched her and taught her.
I love when we get to sing our arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer for those who are of other faiths. I like that they are included.zions youth 2
After Trial of Hope Friday night, I went down to the river and I talked with a girl who was crying. She was so lovely. We talked about how God shows He loves us by the way He paints the sky with storms or clouds or sunsets… and as she put it… On the days he is content. A clear blue sky. She said as we parted, until we meet again.
I know that even if I don’t have all the time in the world to talk to these people, or any of the people I have known in my life, there will be time in the eternities to be together. For such is God’s Plan of Happiness.thumbnail_Nauvoo Temple

Sunset By the Mississippi

This week marked the beginning of putting my hair up in to 1840’s hair styles every night. I am glad to say I got a lot of good practice from doing Christmas Carol because it is exactly the same. Well, that is to say, the hair is the same, but the humidity and the vast amounts of sweating I do make it a little more difficult out here in Illinois.

I am feeling so happy every day, There are hard bits every day, but then I feel good too. We have finally been able to start talking with visitors who are coming! Last night we had our opening night for Sunset by the Mississippi. It is a great show, but there are literally only about 7 minutes when we are changing shoes and costumes that we are not on stage. I am excited to see how my body handles a whole summer of this high energy. But I feel good, I feel stronger. the promise may 2017

Unfortunately, my voice is still just trudging along. I no longer feel sick, but my tone and range is shot. I am so sad. I have felt worried, and wondered why God would let this happen when he was the one who called me to be a performing missionary. I was pondering this during my scripture study one night when I read in Nephi 16. This is the part where the bow breaks and everyone is starving. God called Lehi and his family to leave. They were obedient and did as they were asked. They worked hard and followed the directions of the liahona, but despite their valiant behavior they still where faced with suffering and affliction. I was reading how they began to murmur.

And I realized, even though I was trying to wait it out and be strong and not worry, I was murmuring. I need to learn to be humble. I need to find away to make things work, even if I am having to make a different bow than I am used to. Even if it is course and made of wood rather than steel. I know that it will still serve it’s purpose to bring light and salvation and needed nourishment to my loved one and those I serve on this mission. I cannot promise that my voice will be as clear as it has been in other performances, but I know just like Nephi’s wooden bow, it will serve its purpose by the gift of the Holy Ghost. the promise may 2

We have had a choreographer here with us, he is really good and has worked with lots of big professional artists. He is a member of the church, but it was simple to see that the world was taking its toll on this son of God. I felt the prompting that we needed to write in a Book of Mormon for him. All of the YPM’s writing their testimonies and favorite scripture along with a thank you note in the back. as the time has progressed, we have seen him change and feel the spirit. And yesterday after watching The Promise, he had been crying and told us that he felt like he had been re-baptized and now had the courage to go back on a good path and return to his closeness with God. We saw how the spirit of Nauvoo brought to remembrance the things that he knew but had started to forget. I presented the Book of Mormon to him at his little good bye meeting we had. nauvoo singers

I don’t know what is in store for him, but I do know that he was mean to be helped by the missionaries of the 2017 YPM’s. I could talk about so many wonderful conversations I had yesterday with visiting families. But just know that the missionary work is alive and well here along the Missississippi.