Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10, 2015 – At home in Brigham City

Thursday September 10, 2015

Well, we left Nauvoo on August 18th - just two days short of five months from the time we arrived there - and got home on the 21st.  I have been waiting to mail and post when I had more information about Ray’s surgery date.  We saw Dr. Robert Andtbacka again yesterday (Dianne was with us), and surgery is now scheduled for September 29th.  We have a pre-op appointment on the 17th, both of course at the Huntsman Cancer Institute Hospital.  They have confirmed that his tumor is a Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), and though it is malignant, it is slow growing so the additional two weeks of waiting is not critical.  Ray also has a 4.3 cm Infrarenal Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm that the doctors have been watching for about 10 years – 5 cm is the point at which they want to do something about it.  Dr. Andtbacka is concerned that the GIST surgery might compromise the aneurysm and has asked a Vascular Surgeon to review the data and determine if it should be fixed before the surgery on the 29th.  If so, there is enough time for that to be done. 

On the bright side, Ray is feeling well and is being as active as always.  We have decided to sell our rig and truck.  The rig is in for repairs – not surprising after sitting in storage for two years.  We have asked them for an appraisal of the rig, as we have a buyer for the truck, and they will take the rig also if the price is right and right now we aren’t sure what that might be.  Anyway, a couple more weeks will give us more time to take care of that business.  It is sad in a way to get rid of the rig, as we have had many fun times traveling around.  Now however, we can go on some cruises or fly out to visit family and friends.

It was hard leaving our mission, but I know this is what we are supposed to be doing – taking care of Ray’s health.  We are in the Lord’s hands and he will bless us with strength and stamina for the surgery and healing that still lies ahead.

                                                            Sister Barbara with Sisters Nancy Swenson, Lee Ann Clark, Kathleen Windsor, and Sandra Walton at Lands and Records...........
                                                            Sister Barbara with Sisters Jacquolyn Wilks, Cynthia Clark, and Beverley Ramsay on another day at the Lands and Records........
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Elder Ray at the Riser Boot Shop.............
                                                                                                                                                                                      Elder Ray making a shoe.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Elder Ray at the Tinsmith............

                                                           ...and "Jack of all trades"  Elder Ray making a tin pan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Elder Ray and Sister Barbara's farewell photo............yes I cried!!

     On our way home we stopped at Liberty Jail in Missouri.  The Visitors Center is above, and the depiction of Joseph Smith and his companions confined to a dark and cold dungeon below the main floor is at the right.................

Then we went to Adam-ondi-Ahman in northern Missouri......

...and then to the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters in Nebraska.  The missionaries with us in the photo below were in the MTC with us - Elder Delbert and Sister Jo Ann Robinson.  It was great to see them again and they took us on a very interesting and informative tour.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 2, 2015 – August 8, 2015 – Week 21, in Nauvoo

Sunday, August 8, 2015

Dear family.

Sorry I have not sent messages to all of you for a couple of weeks,  We have been dealing with some health issues with Elder Ray and have been quite busy with Doctor appointments and mission duties.

We have kept our children informed, but waited to tell everyone until we had more details.  The prognosis is good for Elder Ray even though he has been diagnosed as having a small Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) in the lower portion of his stomach.  The GIST is cancerous, but the thing they were not able to determine from the biopsy is how fast it is growing - but it needs to be removed either way.  The recovery will be long, because the tumor is so close to the passage way to his small intestines they need to remove about 1/3 of his lower stomach, and do some re-sectioning of his intestines.

A very good Doctor in Utah has been recommended by Dr. Hoshi at the Iowa Cancer Clinic.  His name is Robert Hans Ingemar Andtbacka, M.D., C. M. of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake - he specializes in surgery for GIST and other Sarcoma's.

So we will be leaving our mission. The date of our leaving is not known - that will be determined by President Gibbins and Dr. Mark Udall, the Missionary Doctor, who we talked to last Friday.   It depends on when we get an appointment with the Doctor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. 

So we will be going home.  We are sad to leave but we know this is important and we will follow through.

Farewell Nauvoo and the many friends we have made here. 

I will continue the blog as time permits, keeping you all up to date with what is happening.  

 Black smithy Ray (above)

           (right) Cooper Ray

Michael was here in Nauvoo for a short visit.  A delightful surprise and we loved it.

Elder Ray and Michael (left)

       (below) Sister Barbara and Michael

Another beautiful Sunset on the Missippi

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 15, 2015 – July 22, 2015 – Week 19, in Nauvoo

July 22, 2015

We started out this day with a Training meeting at 7:30 this morning.  We were honored by an address given by one of the new Seventy’s, Elder Tim B. Clark, which was very interesting and inspiring.  Afterwards, since it is our P-day, we went to breakfast at Grandpa John’s here in Nauvoo, and then went to Keokuk, Iowa for a haircut for Elder Ray, and to get a few groceries, and we put gas in the car just over the border in Missouri.  We also bought a painting and afghan in Nauvoo, Illinois, so we have been spreading our money around in three states today. 

We came home for lunch, and a haircut for Sister Barbara in Nauvoo.  Afterwards we went to a historic site that Elder Ray had not been to yet, the Lyon Drug Store.  Then we toured the Community of Christ (formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) sites in a tour they provide of Joseph and Emma’s homestead, 

the "Red Brick Store.......

 - The Relief Society was organized in the room upstairs, and the Prophet Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church met there too....

and the Mansion House where Emma lived the rest of her life. 

Our guide was LDS however, and he is attending the University in Logan, Utah. 

We took pictures along the                   Mississippi.... 

....the beautiful clouds and green trees....

       and of the beautiful wild Tiger Lilies that are blooming in abundance right now.

Elder Ray serves a lot in the Blacksmith shop,and it is a very popular and busy place - and we took pictures of people going in and out for tours. 

He nearly had heat stroke last week making horse shoes by the blacksmith forge.

On Monday night we were able to go to the British Pageant after our Sunset show – It was wonderfully done even though it was just a dress rehearsal.  We did get rained on a little and had to walk through some mud to get to it, but worth it all.  If any of you are planning on coming to visit us next year, do try to come in July when the pageants are in production.  This year the Nauvoo Pageant is on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, and Saturday’s, and the British Pageant is on Wednesday’s and Friday’s.  During the last song of the British Pageant, all of the Nauvoo Missionaries that are available, walk onto the stage dressed in white shirts and dark pants and skirts – very moving.  

I think I have told you before, but to learn about the pageants go to:!shows-/c24qu

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 8, 2015 – July 15, 2015 – Week 18, in Nauvoo

July 15, 2015

Our cast dinner Saturday night with the Amish Family of John and Marie Bontrager was interesting and fun.   It rained hard all day, but stopped just in time for us to gather at the Nauvoo Visitors Center to car pool out to the Sunrise Bakery near Bonapart, Iowa.   It is about a 45 minute drive from here.   Marie cooked  a very nice meal for us - need I remind you that they live without the convenience of electricity, so she had to cook for about 60 people in her kerosene stove and brick oven.  Everything was delicious, especially her pies! We were enchanted by their six children which includes two sets of twins. 

Sunday we were “On Call” again so we rested after church and then our MTC group gathered at Elder Keith and Sister Beverly Ramsay’s home for a pot-luck dinner and visiting. 

Monday I served at the Lands and Records again as I usually do on Monday’s, and had the opportunity of helping make up a package for Elder Jeffrey Holland and his wife Patricia with the information we have in our files for their ancestors that were in Nauvoo.  It was an honor and very interesting.   Elder Holland is on a trip visiting Church History sites with 19 members of his family.  He honored us with an address in a special Missionary meeting Tuesday evening.    There are a lot of missionaries in Nauvoo right now, especially with all the people performing in the pageants.  The chapel was full as well as about a third of the Cultural Hall. With all the visitors also for Church on Sunday even the Cultural Hall was full to overflowing. 

Today, Wednesday and our off day, Elder Ray and I went to Springfield, Illinois – it took us about 2 and ½ hours to get there.   We visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and it was a wonderful experience.   When we were in the “funeral” room, I thought of my great-grandparents, James  and Rachel (King) Strait, who attended his funeral.  We were there for 2-3 hours.  We walked a couple of blocks to have lunch at The Feed Store.  After lunch we went to the Lincoln home for a movie and tour. 

We visited Lincoln’s Tomb and then drove back to Keokuk where we had dinner and bought a few groceries before coming home to get a little rest!

This is another statue in the Women's garden at the Visitor's Center called, Woman and Her Talents.  

This a Sun-stone from the original Nauvoo Temple - photo taken in 1963  when our family visited Nauvoo.

This is the same Sun-stone that now resides in the present Nauvoo Visitors Center. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

July 1, 2015 – July 8, 2015 – Week 17, in Nauvoo

July 8, 2015

As you know our mission call said we would be serving as Illinois, Nauvoo Visitors Center missionaries.  This coming Saturday, the 11th, is the first time we have been scheduled in the Visitors Center – our hours were to be 5:00-9:00 p.m.   Well our cast made plans to go to dinner that night in Bonnepart, Iowa with an Amish family that specializes in serving dinner to groups.  So Sister Stroud, who does the scheduling, managed to get two Young Single Missionaries to work for us.  We are now rescheduled to work day hours on Saturday.  Hopefully we get an opportunity to serve in the Visitors Center soon.

Last Sunday we went out to Carthage to take pictures of the Jail and Visitors Center there. 

Elder Couch, one of our Senior Missionaries helped put on a new roof on the Jail, and he saved the old original timbers that had to be taken down, and made picture frames for all of us.  We decided we needed a special photo to put in it.

Elder Ray and Sister Barbara by the Statues of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage - the jail is behind us.

Above is the jail with part of the Visitors Center showing on the left.

This is the shaded entrance to the Carthage Visitors Center.....

We travel a portion of the Great River Road along the Mississippi every time we go to Keokuk, Cathage, or Quincy.  This time we stopped and took a picture of the Arched Stone Brige - below...

Here is a new picture of our home on Knight Street with the lawn and trees green.   To the right you can see the sign we have in our front window designating this as the home of Elder and Sister Doying.....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June 24 – July 1, 2015 – Week 16, in Nauvoo

July 1, 2015

All the sites closed at 3:00 the afternoon of the 27th so we could all go to the Martyrdom Commemoration at at 5:00 p.m. at the Historic Carthage Jail Visitors Center.  Joseph and Hiram Smith were killed in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.  They had a wonderful program of music and remarks that touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes more than once.

We are still getting lots of rain with lightning and thunder, but so far no damages here - only some outdoor plays have had to be moved from the outdoor stage into the Visitors Center theaters.  We did have a tornado warning one night which had us all on edge as we were doing one of our plays.  The hardest rain went around us and we had a pretty rainbow and a colorful sunset.   

The firefly’s are out in abundance now, along with the chiggers and mosquitoes! 

The Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center....

The Gardeners (Facilities Managers) have put out lots of pots of flowers as well as beautiful gardens filled to overflowing.  One of the flower beds above and one of the large pots in the Visitors Center Parking lot to the right.....

There are many colors and varieties of day lilies blooming everywhere.  Here are a couple by the Family Living Center...

Nauvoo is a beautiful place to serve, and the Spirit of Joy accompanies all our activities.  We are so happy to be serving the Lord and wish we could convey to you the Spirit of Nauvoo!  Just come and find out for yourselves!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 11 – June 24, 2015 – Weeks 14-15, in Nauvoo

June 24, 2015

Our neighbor Nelda and three of her daughters came to Nauvoo on the 17th, and they came to our Sunset show last Wednesday and we got to visit with them after the show.  They stayed afterwards to watch the BYU Ballroom Dance Company, and so did we.  The dancers are wonderful!   We got to see Nelda every day they were here, and it was so much fun!

On Saturday, June 20th,  marked our three month anniversary here in Nauvoo1  We did our play, Sunset on The Mississippi in the outdoor theater on that night, and during our prayer meeting before the show, Sister Lisa Brown, our director, told us that the incoming storm was being watched closely, and if we needed to leave early some acts would be deleted or they would just cancel the rest of the show.   As the night progressed the clouds kept getting darker and darker.  The Young Performing Missionaries do an act where they have a pretend Tornado warning.  They announce, “This is a test of the Nauvoo early tornado warning system.” And then they all sing in unison….BLAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.  Then they announce, “If this had been a real warning, you would have seen this:”  and they all start yelling and running around the stage and then run off in total confusion.   Well, tonight as they started running around  the Band director yelled, “Wrap it!” and we all jumped up and started leaving in a hurry, grabbing mike’s and equipment for shelter.  The wind had become really strong and a few drops were coming down.   Perfect timing, but I wonder if the audience thought it was actually a real tornado warning, although in the confusion I think they were already headed out before we were.  We got home before the hard rain actually started.   We had lots of rain and lightning and thunder long into the night. 

Another thunder storm last night.  We have had lots of them, and the storms have saturated the ground so flash flooding is possible.  We did not experience any, but some of the missionary homes had flooded basements.  Today we had heavy rain this morning as we went to our 7:45 training meeting, but it cleared up and it was actually sunny later in the day.  

We went to the Visitors Center and took some photo’s of the statues in the Women’s Garden. There are 9 statues.  

This statue is titled: 

    Joseph and Emma

The above is titled:   Woman,


              and this one is: Joyful Moment. 

It is our P-day and we finally got the chance to watch the musical The Promise performed by the Young Performing Missionaries.  They are so talented and this play can only be seen until August 8th.  Go to:!summer-shows-/c1n4o to see a little about all the summer shows. 

We even got to do our whole show in the open theater tonight.  NO RAIN!  We have had rain every week since we got here, and sometimes three or four times a week – some of the storms now are with the temperatures in the 70’ and 80’s.    You can imagine how that feels!

Looking forward to more visits with family and friends. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 4 – June 10, 2015 – Weeks 13, in Nauvoo

June 11, 2015

Not too much to report this week, except we had a very strong storm go through here last Sunday.  Lots of heavy rain with lots of wind and lightning and thunder!  At least one big limb came down from a tree and blocked the road, and our computers didn’t have internet service at Lands and Records on Monday.  Don’t think there was any more damage, just a lot of shattered nerves!  

We were in our Sunset by the Mississippi show last night which we performed in the Theater in the Visitors Center instead of the outdoor stage because it was too hot and muggy - 103 with the heat index, and rain expected.  The BYU Young ambassadors were performing ourside at 8:30, so we went over to watch them and boy IT was hot - until a breeze started and then lightning began brightening up the sky.  they announced that they wold stop if it started raining, and the show was finally stopped a little after 9:00 and three songs early.  The anouncer said, "There is a severe lightning storm approaching with heavy rain, so leave quickly and seek shelter immediatel!  So everyone hurried to their cars and left.  We stopped with friends for ice cream at Annie's, and there was lightning and thunder all night, but little rain until morning.  Thre is always excitement around here.

Three of us Sisters have been asked to be Site Assistants at the Lands and Records.  We have a meeting this afternoon to plan how we will handle the rush of people this summer.  We each work there twice a week, which I really like as you know how much I love doing research and helping people. 
Monday night after our two Rendezvous shows we attended an 80th birthday Party for Elder Clark
 Party guests in costumes after play....
– a lot of us didn’t get there until 9:30.   

Elder Clark giving a Mark Twain reading...... 

 The Nauvoo Brass bands travels around Old Nauvoo in a wagon pulled by two horses,
 and I finally had my camera with me when they were playing outside the Cultural Hall.   

It is Thursday evening now and it is raining hard again with lightning and thunder - in fact there are flash flood warnings for area's around us.  I don't think we are in danger here, but we do have a show tonight and we have to be outside to get back and forth to the stage in the Cultural Hall.
P.S. We got through the show with only a few sprinklers on us, but the lightning and thunder show is still on!  Ohhh, there goes more thunder!!! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

May 28 – June 3, 2015 – Weeks 12, in Nauvoo

June 3, 2015

Wow, the weeks are flying by!  And we are still moving along.
Richard traveled from Indianapolis to visit us the last week end and it was wonderful!  It was so wonderful we forgot to take pictures of all of us.  We hope to do better next time!

Friday night Richard got here early enought to see us in Sundset by the Mississippi. 

 In the opening and closing numbers Elder Ray and Sister Barbara are together, singing "Hello Everybody....."
the Elders sing "Act Natually"...


 ....the Sisters sing, "Oh Be Joyful" and dance and sing "Jubilee."
All of the branches of the Military are honored and Ray is honored to carry the
U. S. Navy flag.  
Saturday night we had two Rendezvous shows and the audience at the second show was very kind and gave us a standing ovation.  Our director came out at the end and told of the ovation – she was pleased and so were we.   We always stand outside after each performance and meet the audience as they come out.  That night a lady from our audience came up to us and told us how good we did and how much she enjoyed the show.  Then she said, “I felt what they must have felt” and that is what it is all about.  We portray what those long ago saints did, and though sometimes in a light hearted way, we hope our audience will catch the spirit of how they felt and how they coped with everything.  Their faith in Jesus Christ was strong, and that helped them endure much.  I was so pleased to get conformation that we are reaching them.
The Brigham Young University Young Ambassadors are here in Nauvoo for a couple of weeks and we got to see their show last night which was just after our Sunset on the Mississippi show.  They are performing Heartsongs, Melodies of Love.  If you would like to know more about them, go to: and you will find a link to “BYU Young Ambassadors perform in Nauvoo.” 

The website: tells about the pageants that will be here in July and August.  Come and see them, and visit with us while you are here. 
The productions that we Senior Missionaries are in, Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo, and Sunset by the Mississippi are going well, and they can be seen every night except Sunday – Elder Doying and I are in one or the other of them four nights each week. 

We really do more than dance and sing, like serve in the many sites around Old Nauvoo where we teach and invite, and are enjoying everything, especially having ice cream at Annie’s some nights after our shows.    

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 13 – May 27, 2015 – Weeks 10 & 11: in Nauvoo

May 27, 2015

Dear Family,
No excuse for no email last Wednesday – I just forgot until Saturday and decided to wait until the next Wednesday which is today and wouldn’t you know it, the internet is down again! (Thursday morning - it is up again!)  Not too much different happening anyway.  We did have a cast picnic at Inspiration Point along the Mississippi river on Thursday the 21st.  

 A large camp fire was started, and while it was getting hot and ready for cooking, the Elders whittled long branches into proper sticks to hold the hot dogs – some having up to 4 prongs.

It was fun watching some folks cooking 4 at a time over the fire!  The Sisters set the tables with the fixings, and lots of salads and desserts.  

Good food and good company. 

A tug boat plies the waters up the Mississippi pushing 15 barges. 

As we were all leaving we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.


This is a statue of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith at Inspiration Point - they are pointing west - commemorating the place where those early members of The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints crossed the river as they were forced to leave Nauvoo in February of 1846.  Many were leaving homes they had built, but only lived in for thee or four month. Below is a replica of the wagons they took with them, loaded with as much as they could carry.  The wagon is sitting on a barge like they would have used to pull them across.
We have started with the summer hours of 9:00 to 6:00 at all the sites.  The Visitors Center is open from 9:00 to 9:00 and I think the wagon rides begin around 8:30 in the morning and go tuntil about 2:30.  The shifts for us Senior Missionaries are one of the following each day: A=9:00-3:00; B=3:00-6:00; C=split, 9:00=12:00 and 3:00-6:00.   We are short about 18 missionaries to cover the sites, so occasionally we will have to work a 9:00-6:00 shift as we  did yesterday.  A very long day – and we had to perform in the Sunset on the Mississippi outdoor show last night which is from 7:00-8:00.  We ate a quick salad between our shift and the show!
So you can tell that we are still running, but because we love our Saviorand he lifts us up, we are managing to keep up.......