Monday, June 9, 2008

“The Worst Man in Hancock County”

Quote from a story told at a fireside thing. Details later.

So everything here is great!

We’re off with a senior couple to some Mennonite town or something. I don’t really know. But apparently there’s some cool, old-school little villages around here (not like I don’t live in one or anything…) so we’re gonna go check it out today.

So we had our first deaf visitor. Her name’s Jenny and she’s 17. we got to interpret for her at all the shows. Her family was very appreciative because they’ve raised her oral (lip-reading and speaking) and she’s just starting to get into the ASL scene. Her fam’s trying to pick it up too but they still don’t know tons. So it was really good. She was way cute. She was here for a few days so we got to bond with her a bit. It’s not our first deaf person period though cause there’s a local recent convert, Chad, from Quincy. He comes in at least once a week. We’re really the only people he knows (other than his regular interpreter) who know ASL. He took me on a tour of the VC the other day. It was hysterical. He was teaching me all about Nauvoo. And actually, I learned some new facts. Helps to have the locals around. :)

So for those of you who don’t know, there’s a little town in Utah near Tooele that my ancestors helped settle and as consequence, we’re related to nearly everyone there. I’ve run into quite a few people now from that tiny town and we always seem to make connections pretty easily. This last one was weird though. Do you remember last summer the story about the old man who was very hard-of-hearing so I was shouting my testimony at him? Good times. Well he was from Grantsville. He was a total character. He was a stubborn old man who wouldn’t let the missionaries come and work with him even though he knows full well that the gospel’s true. He said if I showed up, he’d let me in, but other than that he’d run the missionaries from his house. He’s just making excuses. So anyway, I’m talking to my friends that were here, the Wickhams, and not only do they know him, but she cuts his hair and just happened to, at that moment, be wearing a necklace he and his wife gave her. What the? We took the random connection as a sign that she needs to call him and hassle him for me. Plus, they happened to be descendants from the same ancestors as some other G-ville visitors from a couple weeks ago who told me about MY ancestor there. Anyway….

So this week we volunteered at the town library. It was so trippy. I could just sit back at different times and observe all the small-town goings-on and pretend I was a part of it. Everyone who came into the library the librarian either knew, or it was a stray visitor who stumbled in. Us Westerners really do stick out like a sore thumb here. I could only notice once I was on the other side of it. We were helping with craft time and one of the girls who came in comes into the library at least once a week (reads books dozens at a time like KT) with her g-ma when they go for a Girls Day Out. She comes in from a town even smaller than Nauvoo and comes “into town” to shop and go out to eat. Keep in mind there’s probably 15 functioning businesses in Nauvoo. Even fewer that an 11 yr-old would be interested in. It was fascinating to us. The librarian was this sweet lady from Germany and we talked to her for a long time about Nauvoo and different things about the town. It really made me realize how much of an impact that we as visitors and missionaries have here. This is their precious little town and we have such a powerful effect for better or for worse here. I think the LDS tend to have a feeling of ownership or entitlement here because Nauvoo is a place we’ve heard about our whole lives. However, for the people here, they remember when it was even quieter than it is now and it’s sacred to them. Their little town is at threat of dying away because of the absence of job industry out here but it’s such a precious place. We need to do all we can to work together with them.

Two stories:This random guy came in and introduced himself to me. He’s not a member of the Church but he’s way into fam history. He has lots of it in this area and had ancestors who were persecutors of the church and also ancestors who went and settled Provo, UT. We were talking about the Church and he was saying how he was open-minded about it. I asked him how he thinks we know when something’s true and he says, “No one can tell you. You just feel it here and here” and points at his mind and heart. I smiled real big and told him that was exactly right. (I love it when people who know nothing about Church doctrine quote scripture without knowing it!) He said he got a copy of the Book of Mormon when visiting here at age 8 but he’s never read it. I gave him a chapter to read and he said he definitely would. I read him Moroni’s promise and he thought it was “very powerful.” I told him that’s the Spirit already starting to affirm what’s right. It was awesome.

Another one was the BYU Folk Dancers here this week gave a little fireside. One of them talked about how his g-ma was a convert to the Church and when she did her fam history discovered that her g,g, gpa was labeled “the worst man in Hancock County.” He was one of the total ring-leaders for the mobs. He took part in any significant mob activity here, including the burning of the temple. The next guy, one of his best friends, who got up to talk was a descendant of John Taylor (an apostle in Nauvoo who was with Joseph Smith during the martyrdom and later became the prophet after Brigham Young). They talked about how this was like the closing of a book and a way of making things right. They talked about how they’d like to think that on the other side of the veil that their ancestors are pleased to see that they’re friends. The first kid’s g-ma had had a moral dilemma about doing temple work for the mob guy and presented her problem to Joseph F. Smith and was told very emphatically “you do that work and let God be the judge.” I love that. I love to know that the Atonement is so comprehensive that we don’t understand. The mercy of God is so powerful. I also know that having the truth while we’re here on the earth is so powerful and it’s worth every effort to make sure we find and retain it throughout our lives.

Love you all. Talk to you later!
--Sis C

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