Sunday, June 10, 2012

St. Louis, Nauvoo and Carthage.

This last week I had the awesome opportunity to visit St. Louis, Nauvoo and Carthage with my family.  It was such a good trip!
Our first day was a half day that was spent at the St. Louis Arch.  They have a really neat museum to look at and some cool videos about the Louis and Clark expedition to the west.  It was really cool to travel to the top of the Arch. 

 Matt, Me, Adam
 At the top of the Arch!

The next day we drove up to Nauvoo.  On our way up we stopped at Mark Twain's cave and went inside.  It was a pretty cool cave and it was fun to hear about Tom Sawyer's adventures.

 My mom and Adam being silly!

That evening we made it to Nauvoo.  What an incredible experience it was to be there.  I was not expecting the Spirit to be so strong-it was overwhelming.  I was fortunate enough to go inside the Nauvoo Temple on Tuesday with my parents and it was incredibly beautiful.  It is, hands down, my favorite temple!

This statue is just west of the Nauvoo Temple on the other side of the road.  I could not contain my emotions while looking at this beautiful statue and reading the plaque underneath it.  My testimony of this gospel grew immensely on this trip.  

Down the Trail of Hope on Parley Street there is a memorial for all of the Saints who died trying to make it to Salt Lake City.  I do not personally have any pioneer heritage in my family because my grandparents are converts, but I feel so lucky to have married into a family that has an incredible church history.  Elizabeth Neeley was Steven's 4th great grandfather's wife, and Elizabeth Ann Neeley was their daughter.  He remarried a Cherokee woman in Salt Lake who is Steven's 4th great grandmother (Steven is 1/64 Cherokee from that line).  It was very humbling to see their names on this memorial.  I am so grateful for their sacrifices.  

 Statue of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young

It was also special to visit the Smith Family grave site.  Although this part of Nauvoo is owned by the reorganized church (now called the Community of Christ) it was still very special to visit the graves of Hyrum, Emma and Joseph Smith.

By the Nauvoo Visitor's Center there was a "Women's Garden".  I found this awesome statue entitled "In Her Mother's Footsteps".  I thought it would be cool to pose like I was following my own mom, but apparently she didn't like my artistic style.  

While we were in Illinois, we also visited Carthage Jail where Joseph and Hyrum were martyred.  That was an incredibly spiritual experience for me, and I didn't feel right about taking pictures while I was there.  My dad said that the room where Joseph and Hyrum were killed was "a room of miracles".  I had never thought of it that way, but that is what it truly is.  I don't think he could have said it a better way.  How grateful I am for this church and for the blessings it has brought into my life.  I know Joseph  Smith was a true prophet of God, and that he translated the Book of Mormon by the inspiration of God.  The Spirit in Nauvoo and Carthage are undeniable.  This is Christ's church and it is under His direction.

After three full days of touring Nauvoo, we spent one day at Six Flags in St. Louis.  It was a pretty good park.  Not as good as Magic Mountain in Cali, but wayyyyy better than the one here in Arlington, TX.  It was a fun day!

I got totally SOAKED from the Rapids ride.  No mercy!

Our last day we went to Grant's Farm.  They had some beautiful bald eagles there.  That night we randomly were able to get tickets to the Olympic National Qualifier Competition for Women's Gymnastics.  Nastia Luikin was there competing and it was incredible to watch!

I feel so blessed to have been able to go on this amazing trip with my family.  We missed my older brother, his wife and two kids as well as my brother who's serving a mission in Colombia right now.  It definitely felt like we were missing people, but we still had a great time.  What an incredible life I am living.  I am so grateful for all of my many blessings.