Thursday, June 30, 2011

Never to be Forgotten, Day 11 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska

When I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror, I knew it was going to be a great day.

So where does hair like this come from?


Today was a big driving day. We were on the road for about 7-8 hours driving across the state of Nebraska. We finally saw Chimney Rock out the window, which sits on the western border of Nebraska. It was a big landmark for those on both the Mormon and Oregon trails going west.

After checking in to our prettyful hotel...

(this one wins for most aesthetically pleasing, while two hotels ago won for softest bed. I've never stayed in so many hotels in such a short period of time in my life!)

...we visited the Oregon Trail Museum and Visitor's Center in Scottsbluff, NE.

We saw many cool things there including, but not limited to, the following:

Fossils (my mom loves fossils)...

Stuffed creatures (I love my mom's face here)...

The skull of a Titanothere...

A display on the Mormons (including the wheel odometer, which apparently is one of our most noteworthy inventions from the period)...

Oxen "pulling" a covered wagon (apparently I love kissing fake things)...

P.S. Do you like how I solved the hair problem from this morning?

More covered wagons...

(Thanks Dad, for your amazing pics! We tease him for taking too long to take a single picture, but he always captures it in the most beautiful way possible!)

...and last, but not least, natural landmarks that gave the pioneers hope after miles and miles of walking on terrain where virtually nothing was familiar in their surroundings. We watched a movie that talked about how the pioneers imagined landmarks such as Scott's Bluff (pictured below) and Chimney Rock as castles and buildings. It helped rejuvenate their spirits to connect the landmarks to the familiar.

After visiting the museum, we were starving! A group of us headed over to Whiskey Creek's steakhouse which had a few little extras as you'll see below. Meg and I had some fun with the camera.

They had several life size cutouts of John Wayne, for example.

They also had a horse to ride.

And who wouldn't be excited to go to the bathroom when this greets you as you walk in? I felt like a real cowgirl!

Have you ever seen anything like this on a menu before? It blew my mind!

The restaurant was fabulous and they had the best peach cobbler I have ever tasted in my entire life. One of those "Never to be Forgotten" desserts. What a wonderful way to end the day!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Never to be Forgotten, Day 10 in Independence, Missouri; Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Winter Quarters, Nebraska

Before I begin, just look at these cousins. They didn't plan this. They have on the exact same shoes, white basketball shorts, and red shirts. No wonder they get along so well!

Standing in a field in Independence, Missouri, I could see three buildings owned by three different churches, all in a row. My camera wasn't wide enough to capture them all in one shot, so imagine the two pictures side by side.

(The Hedrickite building is on the far left, the Community of Christ temple is in the middle, and the LDs visitor's center is to the far right.)

(The third building on the far right is a little hard to see unless you enlarge this picture by clicking on it).

These three very different religions agree on a few points of doctrine including the following: They all believe that Joseph Smith restored Jesus Christ's gospel in 1830. Around the time the church members left for Salt Lake, many stayed behind and around 100 different religions were formed from the same basic roots. It was very interesting to explore each of the different buildings.5

So why do these three religions gather in the same place? Another thing we have in common is our belief through revelation that this spot will one day serve as headquarters for Christ's church on the earth. Here are some pictures from each building:

1) Church building of the Church of Christ (nicknamed the Hedrickites):

Below is the oldest apostle in the Hedrickite church at age 89. He told us about their basic beliefs. They use both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, but do not accept anything not included in these texts (vetoing most of what we consider modern revelation). They don't, for example, believe in the doctrine of eternal marriage, which is included in our modern revelation.

2) The temple of the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints):

Outside (above) and inside (below)

This is their emblem, a child leading a lion and a lamb. There desire is to promote peace throughout the entire world, as is very evident in the displays in their temple (some of which you'll see below). They have members in 50 countries throughout the world.

Outside, they have a map of the world laid in bricks. I wanted to stand in southern Brazil and have my picture taken. Turns out I stood in Argentina and I feel like an idiot. Oh well. Below, we got everyone in our group to stand on the country where they served their mission or where their ancestors are from.

This cross is made with over 300 different kinds of wood from all the countries where their church currently exists.

Here is one of their meeting halls where they give free organ recitals and have a prayer meeting for peace every single day at 1:00 p.m.

The inspiration for the design of the temple is a nautilus shell. The spirals symbolize reaching up toward God or Him reaching downward towards His children.

This church differs greatly from my church in terms of the doctrine they believe and follow, but their mission is a very admirable one. Seeing the inner workings of other faiths, especially ones who have the same historical roots as mine, was very interesting and I'm glad we went.

3) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Visitor's Center:

I will never pass by a Portuguese book of Mormon on display without taking a picture.

The visitor's center had some neat displays about the history of Independence, including a replica of a log cabin (below). The church's visitor's centers are so interesting and interactive. I think the church has done a wonderful job honoring the history of our church and helping educate both members and those who aren't members about our beliefs. It is amazing to see how my tithing dollars are put to such good use! I feel like I'm a very, very small part of something really wonderful :-).

Below is a display about W.W. Phelps' printing press that was used to publish the Book of Commandments, or the Doctrine and Covenants.

We left Independence and drove to what was formerly known as Kainsville. It is now called Council Bluffs, Iowa. It is significant because it was a long-term stopping place for the saints on their way to Salt Lake City. I liked the visitor's center here primarily for this:

Sometimes I think I forget to focus on the reason behind this entire journey west because I'm so involved with trying to figure out the chronology of church events. This phrase written on the wall is a wonderful reminder.

From Council Bluffs, 500 men were called by the government to fight in the war with Mexico. While at first frustrated that a government who did not help maintain their rights in Illinois or Ohio was asking them to protect the country, they eventually came to see it as a blessing. With the allowance they were given for clothes and arms, they were able to fund the saints getting the rest of the way to Salt Lake. They formed what is known as the Mormon battalion and marched west. By the time they made it to California, however, the war was over.

Below is the record of one of my ancestors who was part of the Mormon Battalion! Andrew Lytle is my relative through my paternal grandmother's side.

Kainsville is also where a tabernacle was built in 3 weeks for the purpose of sustaining the new first presidency with Brigham Young as the new prophet.

This is a replica of the tabernacle, but the dimensions are the same. 1000 people crowded in here to sustain Brigham Young as the new prophet.

The device I am holding above is what they would use as a covered wagon jack. Pretty cool, eh?

Here my dad is, demonstrating how one would pick up a handcart.

On the other side of the Missouri river is Winter Quarters, Nebraska (now known as Florence, NE). This, too, was a place where the saints stopped after an extremely difficult 14 weeks trek across Iowa. It took them longer to get across Iowa (a little over 300 miles) than it did for them to go from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake (close to 700 miles). Yikes.

Here, there is a cemetery where 600 of the 6,000 pioneers who died on the trek are buried. Being there was a touching experience for me.

They had a beautiful monument with names of pioneers who died "before their journey was through." I loved the inscription below:

Above are names of some of those who died. Sarah Lytle is most likely a relative of mine.

We were there at the same time as a big group of youth on a church history tour similar to ours. They began singing, "Come, Come, ye Saints" just as I was reading the inscription above on the bottom of the memorial (click to enlarge). It was really neat to quietly join in on their song.

Right next to the cemetery is the exquisite Winter Quarters temple.

Last, there is an amazing visitor's center with lots of pioneer artifacts and replicas of pioneer life.

It was neat to look at the faces of those who sacrificed so much to make it across the plains (above). Below, the cart and oxen are true to life sizes.

The pitcher below was one brought by a church member to Salt Lake:

There was a dress-up corner where some of the "kids" got into the pioneer spirit!

There were many immigrants from other parts of the world who also sacrificed much to make it to the Salt Lake Valley. Above is a jacket packed by one such church member on her journey to the U.S.
Above is a trunk owned by Brigham Young and below is a pot used for cooking on the plains (which looks just like my dad's dutch ovens!).

William Clayton invented a type of odometer to track how many wheel rotations there were (which saved the pioneers the burden of counting each wheel rotation, which they had been doing previously). This helped keep track of the miles traveled.

The wagon wheel below was made to the actual size of the wheels on the wagons of the pioneers. It's almost as tall as me!
The little cabin my mom is peeking out of is a replication of what the little tiny shelters were like that the saints built in Winter Quarters to stay protected from the elements.

And, for the grand finale, I finally met my knight in shining armor!!

He can't breathe, but I guess that never was technically on my list of requirements.