Journey to Nauvoo
Just about a year ago, I was traveling by bus to Nauvoo, Illinois with my church group. This was when I solely freelanced and I could take any amount of time off. #perks
I was really excited for this trip. I hadn't been to too many church history sites — other than the ones in Utah and Liberty Jail in Missouri — so this was a real treat. It was organized by some members in the congregation. We got a legit comfy bus to sit in for the ride there and we stayed at a hotel that was able to accommodate about 10 people to a room! So a lot of bonding happened there. Bed time stories, late night talks, almost zero cell service ... so we really had to pay attention to each other. It was actually really freeing to feel like there wasn't a point in checking my phone. It was kind of like being at summer camp for those couple of days.
The sites themselves were really cool. It's like going to one of those places where you go back in time, and they have people dressed in that time period showing you what life was like. There's so much about history that gets lost because you don't really see it in the context it was lived through. I just really loved seeing the homes, walking around the town, and seeing how they experienced joy through hardship. (For more specific information about how the Mormons ended up in Nauvoo and the things they went through before they had to move on read this and this.) The souvenirs — a brick with "Nauvoo" on it and a ring out of metal were bonuses and the brick still sits on my desk.
One of the miracles we experienced was being able to go to the temple. We were walking over and running late and weren't sure if we'd make the session or that we'd survive the chilling cold. A lady pulled over for us and asked if we wanted a ride! It was truly a miracle. There weren't any other cars that passed us and she was so sweet to even offer! We made it to the temple with just enough time!
They had such cute little shops in town. I purchased a Book of Mormon as it was printed in 1830. It looks more like a book than how it's formatted today. (You can get today's Book of Mormon for free here.) I'm actually beginning to read this version today so it's fitting that I'm posting about this! It's another element too that I didn't think about is how the Book of Mormon was read and received when it was first printed.
The metal worker! I guessed a question about a well-bucket right. I felt pretty proud. (I guess that's pretty apparent since I still remember it a year later...)
Lucy Mack's home! Those stairs were steeply scary.
The original Book of Mormon formatting/print version shown here. Also a punny moment: "Feasting on the scriptures". ha. ha. (But actually this was really funny to me — nice job guys!)
One of my favorite parts was this theater performance! It was so cute! All the missionaries (who are mostly older couples) were actors in the play.
On our way back to Nashville, we also had the opportunity to see another historical site: Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith was martyred. Or murdered. Either way, after being falsely accused and imprisoned, Joseph Smith (the prophet at the time), his brother Hyrum, were killed.
It was incredible to think of all the events leading up to this point. How much each person had endured. The things that were prophesied and came true in these moments. The ability of a witness to survive — John Taylor — and tell this story of these last moments.
As I stood in this sunny room in the present day, seeing a surviving bullet hole in the door, it was difficult to imagine the mob scene of that night Joseph Smith died, the window he fell out of. I was grateful for the testimonies shared and experiences felt. I am grateful for his sacrifices to bring the Book of Mormon into so many lives.
I remember thinking when I first investigated the church how strange a thought it is that some young boy could have a question about which church is true only to receive the answer that none of them are, and have what became the Book of Mormon revealed and translated. It's so crazy, right? But so are so many other miracles that have come to pass. And personally, this book, this truth, this faith, this church has given me so much peace, so much understanding about who I am and my purpose, has allowed me to build my relationship with God and Jesus Christ, and I am so eternally grateful for that.
I am grateful to be living in a time where this resource of information exists, and that I don't have to run from mobs or from town to town. That I have a temple that I can go to 20 minutes away, and for all the people, including those that I was able to share these experiences with on this trip, that lift me up and help me to be better.