Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you're not American, you're not American. So say the sisters of Nauvoo

This weeks news? I am still in Carthage. I am still loving it. My companion is still amazing and the gospel is still true.

I would have much rather written you all on the 25th, 26th, or 27th. On June 25, 2009 it was 165 years to the day that Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, and Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch, arrived in Carthage Jail to wait for the men who would eventually slaughter them to come find them. As I gave tours and stood in the room where those ten men spent their first night chills ran up and down my legs. As the days went on I had similar experiences. On the 26th I climbed the stairs that 165 years ago the man who "has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world than any other man that ever lived in it" (D&C135) climbed when the jailer George Stigall, who feared for the mens' safety, moved them upstairs to stay in his own bedroom. He must have noticed that their was something different about these men. Much different than any other group of men, let alone the prisoners, that usually graced his home with their presence. He moved them from room to room, hoping that they would be more comfortable, more secure, letting them eat with his family. They were different. And that difference was that these men were men of God. I was running my fingers along a railing that men of God had steadied themselves on. I hoped --- prayed --- that the people following me could feel it. The sound of our footsteps became the sound of their footsteps. I could almost hear their voices. The 27th was no less powerful than the previous two days had been. One- hundred-sixty-five years, to the day, that Joseph and Hyrum had been shot and killed. The spirit in Carthage is so strong all of the time, but on these three days it was especially strong. It was almost exhausting. The jail was crowded, but, for the most part quiet. I was grateful that the people who had come there on that special day had some sort of a grasp on how sacred that little jail house is. I never would have imagined that a place in which something so awful had happened could be what it is today.....a spiritual powerhouse. One that I get to spend most of my days. I am humbled to be serving here.

At 5:15 p.m. (the approximate time of the martyrdom) a special commemoration took place. The sisters from Nauvoo all came down to attend and to sing "Hark all ye Nations". I thought it was an interesting song choice at first, but it couldn't have been better. There were other musical numbers and a speaker. It was fantastic. We squeezed about four more tours of 50-60 people through the tiny little jail and then closed up for the night. When everyone had left all the sisters in the mission went over to the jail and sat in the room where it all happened. It had just barely been three hours since the time of the martyrdom. We just sat. Then we sang "We thank thee oh God for a Prophet", "Joseph Smith's First Prayer", and "Praise to the Man". Then we just sat there. As we did, I thought to myself, "we are the only missionaries in the world that get to do this. That get to come to Carthage jail after all the crowds have cleared out on the day that it all happened and sing praise to God Almighty. The only missionaries? The only people!". Sister Patterson then got up and started the tape (for those of you who haven't been to Carthage, the tape played in that room depicts the events that took place before the mob arrived around 5pm). After it was over we just sat again. It was an experience I'll never be able to explain accurately and will never forget for the rest of my life.

Today has been very relaxed. We've written letters, cleaned, done laundry and driven to Nauvoo. Filled up on gas, walked around Zion's Mercantile for a little bit and spent at least an hour in the temple. In short, It's been a good day.

I hope all is well with you. I love you all and pray for you always.

Sister Bailey

P.S. Funny story of the week: There is an Elder here who is Canadian but for some reason carries the American flag up to the stage for one of the performances. He's absolutely nuts so mostly it's just funny. There is a senior sister who has mentioned it to some other people who have just laughed it off. This Sister is completely baffled as to how the discrepancy is going unnoticed. It really gets under her skin and after a long discussion about it she finally just says, "Well now you know one of my pet peeves: People who pretend to be American!!! Go home and wave your maple flag! Leave ours alone!"

P.S.S. To keep things spiritual .....
"Perhaps some of us may find it hard to believe that we love enough, or that our lives are good enough, or that our power to testify is sufficient for any invitations to our neighbors to be accepted. But, the Lord knew we might feel that way...we must have the faith that we can love enough and that the Gospel has touched our lives enough that our invitation to choose can be heard as coming from the Master whose invitation it is" --- President Henry B. Eyring

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