We’re not called a work crew for a joke!

Now you have this post, you’ll know I survived another day! I’m not saying survive because I hate it and want to come home, I survived on the very little sleep I had. Today was another 6am start, only 5:15 hours of sleep. Not enough from me, and definately not enough for the ammount of work we are doing for the length of time we are doing it.

It’s now a few days later while I’m writing this post so I can’t remember exactly what went on. All I can remember is that we have been doing the main bulk of the stage recently. It is very tough work to align the pieces exactly and get them bolted together before they move again. A lot of the work is also very low down and cramped which makes it not so easy. I’m in the process of adding loads of pictures so you should get some good ones soon. I will get some even more up-to-date ones when it stops raining – it looks great now, almost done.

We’re really working hard to ensure it gets finished on time. Even though the work is hard, there is a really great team spirit and we get on really well so it makes it much better.

Love to all,
Matt

Mmmmmmmmmmm! Day of Rest!

The day of rest has finally come! Well earned I’d say. I certainly made the most of the available lie in time. I didn’t emerge from my pit until 11:30. This was the longest sleep I’d had since leaving England. I didn’t get to bed until 2:00am because I had to do some washing. It was the only opportunity I had. All other times we are too busy. Making the most of the time I had, I went to the computer lab and called home. It was really great to hear how everyone was getting on and hear someone without an American accent! (Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the American accent at all but it’s nice to hear someone with your own once in a while!) I spent as long as I could on the phone before the power on my laptop ran out and the time to get brunch ran out.

I got to brunch just in time – I’m very glad I did, I don’t like to start a day without my cereal (and chocolate milk). As soon as I was done with brunch, we had our daily study class at 1:00pm. The lesson was taken today by Jared – he did a really great job and got the message across just fine. It’s not easy when people are falling asleep. As soon as we were done with the lesson, we went over to the Nauvoo ward for their 2:00pm service. I won’t tell you what I thought of it (Sacrament Meeting) online so you’ll have to ask someone I know! Sunday school was just fine, with half the work crew and other visitors, I think we managed to tripple their usual class size.

Finally, we had Priesthood meeting. We started in the Chapel with everyone else for the announcements and got a chance to introduce ourselves. After the announcements and the invitation to leave for our separate classes, someone came up to me and said “Have you got my money for me?”. I thought he was messing about so I played along and said “I certainly have”. He then introduced himself as the Pageant Treasurer. I didn’t expect to meet him there but I’m glad I did. He said he’d see me in the next week for the handover.

We next moved onto young mens and swamped their meeting aswell. We introduced ourselves by playing a cool game, I’ll have to try it sometime, but I need a group of people I’ve never met before. I suppose it would be ‘doable’ with a group of people you know. You start by taking a piece of paper and writing your name, favourite plave for a holiday, favourite hobby and favourite food. The leader would then shuffle them up and start reading out the interests and the other members of the group would have to guess who it was. I liked it anyways. The lesson was on the importance of Prophets. I had taught this lesson a few weeks previous so I was already familiar with it. It’s always different with every teacher though.

We got out of Church just after 5:00pm and dinner at the JSA would be finishing at 5:30pm so we hurried straight over. You know how teens are with their food. We had a small ammount of time to chill/talk/email etc before we went over to the Pageant Presidents house at 7:00pm. A few days previous, we were told that we had been invited over for ice-cream and cake. I though that was really nice – to invite 9 smelly, grubby young men into your home! We did brush up very nicely though. We had been in our sunday clothes for the service at the Nauvoo Ward, some of us stayed in our smart clothes and some of us changed but we weren’t smelly and grubby like on a work day.

We arrived with a very warm welcome. I also met the Pageant Public Relations Coordinator whom I had emailed an article weeks earlier. I thought that was really cool; I’m slowly meeting all the people I’ve been emailing to get things sorted. We started by going round the room and sharing information about our family size, church history, children (for the adults!!) and what brought us to Nauvoo. All the adults had great stories to tell. There was a lot to take in. I always like to hear about other peoples histories – I’m not nosey, I’m just so interested in the way things work and how different everyones circumstances/experiences are. I was the first young man to speak and I was really nervous at first – I like to have a written plan.

I went ahead and started talking about my family, how many bothers and sisters I had etc and eventually got on to how I ended up in Nauvoo. For those of you who don’t know, checkout the ‘Introduction’ post right at the beginning of the blog. After sharing the story, the Pageant President siad that he couldn’t remember why they decided to extend the date for applications. He said that it could have been extended so that those who the Lord had planned for to go, would get the opportunity to do so. I thought that was really great, we may not always know when the Lord intervenes to let the right things happen.

The rest of the meeting was great. There were some amazing family histories and run-ups to applying to the pageant. After all our stories, we tucked into cake, ice-cream and popcorn. All super tasty. After that, we reluctantly returned to the JSA. No-one really wanted to leave. I spent a lot of the time we had spare catching up on my journal; I still have plenty to do.

Things are still going great. I love it here. I think the reason I’m managing so well from home is the fact that it’s a completely new place and schedule to what I’m used to. If I went to a destination where the rest of the family usually were, I would probably find it much harder. I’m almost caught up now so I’ll try to keep up when I do!

Bye for now,
Matt

Work, Eat, Sleep, Email

I’m back and still in good condition. Still with all parts originally assembled with. Today overall has been fantastic. Super, super cool. So, here we go:

Today started at 4:30am when I heard a thunder storm. The windows were wide open so it was really really loud – just how I like it. Some were so loud they made me jump even though I was expecting it. I also like the ones that aren’t necessarily loud but have this really deep cracking sound. It sounds like the sky is splitting in two. Kind of like a tree breaking but much louder and more impressive. I just find thunderstorms absolutely fascinating. Another member of the work crew said they had heard the storm as early as 2:30am. It lasted until 7:00am while we were having breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed out to the field where the pageant will be held. We were starting to assemble the stage. All we had done yesterday was get 3 flat frames and laid them on the grass. Today, it’s much more impressive. We’ve spend all day on it but theres still plenty more to do. I will try and get a picture first thing tomorrow so you can see what we accomplished today.

I won’t go into detail about the construction process as it would be hard to understand without the pictures. What I do want to mention is how great the team spirit is. It’s so fantastic that we have all got along so well right from the start. Every day we get to know eachother a little more and become a better team. Things are going great. I’ve discovered that any work can be fun as long as you make an effort to help eachother at every opportunity and have a good team spirit. This helps so much when the weather is raging hot and it’s harder to work.

Today, the weather cleared up but stayed very overcast. This was very very good for us because if it had been any warmer, the work would have been more difficult.

Our schedule is very basically work, eat, sleep and contact family/friends. It’s generally all we do. I’m not in the least bit complaining. I love every minute of it. I’m trying to make the most of every minute I have here because I know it will pass by quickly. I do miss everyone at home, but I’m trying to make the most of this trip and keep stuck into the work. (I hope that doesn’t sound bad!) Regular contact with home is great for me, I hope it is for them.

Bye for now,
Matt

Matt Has Melted – 2

I didn’t know what to call this post but it’s similar to the last to I used a similar name.

Today (19th) was similar to the previous day. I can’t remember how many bowles of cereal I had though. After breakfast, we loaded the car with our luggage as we wouldn’t be returning to the hotel.

We visited a variety of sites including Far Wast, Adam-ondi-Ahman and Hauns Mill. Unfortunately, I can’t remember them all right now. I’ll have to review my pictures so I can be a little more detailed.

I will mention Adam-ondi-Ahman and Hauns Mill specifically. First, Hauns Mill. I don’t know all the detials, but a long time back when the saints were in the area, there was an event called the Huns Mill Massacre. This is where the saints and a large mob clashed and a number of the saints were slaughtered. It was a very interesting experience. I don’t know how to describe it really. It was strange being in the area where such a terrible thing happened. There are no remnants of the mill or any other buildings whatsoever. There may be underground, but I couldn’t see any. A creek runs by where the mill would have stood and runs round the corner of land where the town would have been. It was very nice weather and the creek was gently flowing by. It made it even harder to imagine what it would have been like. One last thing I want to mention. Off all the display signs I’ve seen at historic sites, it really shocked me to see that this one had been shot many times. Kelly didn’t think it was in any way related but I really don’t know. It may have been some kids fooling around but what a coincidence that it was at a site where such a terrible thing involving guns happened. (The sign had been shot with some air gun. I’ll show you a pic when I can get the picture section working again.)

Secondly, Adam-ondi-Ahman. Another place that is hard to describe exactly how you felt. It was a very special experience to see where very historic events had happened and even the Nephites and the Lamanites from the Book of Mormon had been there. It was amazing to be in the place where they had been after reading all about it in the Book of Mormon.

I’ll get pics online asap! Now to Nauvoo!

Woo Hoo – Nauvoo!

Hmmm, right. I don’t know where to start. I arrived in Nauvoo on Monday 19th at around 8:30pm. It’s now Wednesday 21st at 11pm. So much has happened/been done since I arrived, it feels like we have been here for a lot longer (not a bad thing though).

I’ll cover as much as I can in the time I have without writing pages and pages. If I ever see a huge body of text, I usually avoid it! Like I siad, I arrived in Nauvoo on Monday. The final minutes of the journey were very exciting and the final corner was even better. As soon as we went round it, there was the Temple – starting to glow orange in the beautiful sunset. Again, pictures asap! I found who I needed to speak to and got my room key. I unpacked as fast and neatly as I could so I could spend the remaining time getting to know the other work crew members. Things went better than expected, we were talking until 2am. This would normally be fine; but not when you’re waking up at 6am. 4 hours is way less than I need! Ideally, I would have 8 hours sleep.

At 6am, we were woken up. The thing is, for the first I don’t know how many minutes/seconds, I was sub-conciously listening to someone knocking on a door. I didn’t think anything of it and carried on listening. I don’t know how long it had been going on but I somehow (I don’t know what triggered it) suddenly realised someone was knocking on my room door! I said I was awake and the knocking went away. I quickly got dressed and found someone to talk to. We had to go out into the carpark and start unloading a huge truck with two freight containers on it. We got started straight away. We only unloaded the front one and it was mainly props and clothes. At 7, we went for breakfast.

For breakfast, I had a good sized bowl of cereal and 1 or 2 glasses of chocolate milk. The chocolate milk in America is better than most available in England. The closest I have found is at Tesco. After breakfast, we went down to a barn owned by the church. There was a huge mound of stage that needed uncovering. Before we could do this, we had to hack down a forest of weeds. This was fine appart from the number of bugs in it. The other thing is that a bunch of Racoons have been living in this pile of stage. If you want the slightest idea of what it smells like, get 10 rabbits and put them in a small hutch. Don’t clean the hutch for at least a month – disgusting. If you would like a sample of Racoon excrement, I’m sure we could arrange for some to be sent. However, it’s very smelly and I don’t recommend it.

To cut things short (*I’ll explain below), we worked on this mound for most of the day. It took several hours to  just uncover the mound and evict any huge creepy crawlies. We went back and forth with a huge Semi (articulated truck, flatbed) loading and unloading the stage pieces at each location. We eventually finished at 10pm. That’s a long time to be out and about in raging heat.

I havent yet really discussed my thoughts/fellings so far about being in Nauvoo. Here is goes: It’s fantastically amazing. There is still so much to take in. I love being here. There is a lot of work and it’s hard in the heat but it is so worth it, especially as we are now seeing it come together.

*Okay, time is passing quickly. We’re working very very hard to get things sorted in time. I’m trying to include as much detail as possible for both mine and your benefit. When evening finally comes around, you’re too tired to do much! I’ll leave it there for today and update as soon as I can. I’ve been having a quick look at the photo section while writing this but I’m still having problems. How annoying. I’ll add to this post to cover today (21st) and if time permits, write a separate post for tomorrow. I don’t want to neglect my personal emails or jornal writing (already behind) but I really want to do this aswell. On the last day here, I’ll finally have it in perfect equilibrium.

Feel free to ask questions, it may help me write better/jog my memory

***Notes about today***

-Wake at 6
-Work for an hour on trucks
-Breakfast
-More work on the trucks
-Pressure washing stage pieces
-Lunch and other eating times
-Railings
-Temperature
-Afternoon class
-Popciclesx5
-Setting up stage
-Discussing stage plan

Matt Has Melted – Show’s Over

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Matt has melted almost completely so I’m having to write his post for him. It seems that the Matt is not built to withstand temperatures above 30C. Today, it reached 90F which (according to google) is around 32C.

On a slightly more serious note, it isn’t all that bad! Probably because I’ve spent most of the day in air conditioned buildings, cars or in shade. I woke at around 7am and couldn’t get back to sleep so I checked emails and chatted to a few people on MSN for a bit. I eventually went to get my breakfast. Today, I had two bowls of cheerios – double my normal. I went back upstairs and got ready to go out and then Kelly said he would be going for breakfast so I went downstairs and had another bowl of cheerios – tripple my normal. How unusual. I’m never really much of an eater but today I did really well! (Some would definately NOT call that doing really well).

We then headed out to downtown Independence. Here there are a few sites such as the RLDS Temple and Liberty Jail. If you look at the pictures section you should be able to find a few. I will add more as time permits. The RLDS Temple was very interesting. We were shown around the main areas including the main auditorium. It was very very nice and the inside of the spiral spire is made to look like a shell. There was also someone practicing for an organ recital. The shape of the room made it have incredible acoustics and the organ sounded more fantastic. After visiting the LDS visitors centre and the site of the first daylight bank holdup, we headed over to liberty jail.

Liberty Jail was a very moving experience. After heraing about it’s history and the events that led up to the incident, we were shown into the room containing the remnants of the building. The woodwork has been reconstructed but the outer walls are original. During the presentation, the lights were turned off and you began (only began) to undertand what the inmates had to go through. I say began because it was a matter of minutes and it was a nice air conditiond room. Joseph Smith and others had to endure hours of darkness and unimagineable cold.

In the evening, I had the opportunity to go an meet one of Kellys friends way out in the countryside. It was new for Kelly aswell as he had never been to his friends house due to schedule clashes etc. We arrived early evening and sat down for a drink. After a good long talk about so many subjects, we went out to eat. How far do you usually travel when you go out to eat? It was so far out in the countryside, it was at least 30 minutes before there was ANYWHERE to eat out. I can’t remember what type of place it was (there were lots of Pasta dishes) but I wouldn’t eat much! For those of you who don’t know, I’m incredibly fussy with my food. It’s difficult to find someone who is more selective than me. The best bit comes next.

It was almost dark when we left the restourant so after a 30 minute drive, it was properly dark when we got back to the house. We were standing outside talking when I suddenly saw a flash of light go past me. I originally thought it may have been a shooting star but then I thought they never look that close. I then saw more, some close, some futher away in the trees. After realising that they must be normal, I asked about them. They turned out to be glow bugs – my new, all time favourite bug. If I rightly remember, they feature in ‘The Clangers’ – a really cool kids show I (cough cough) used to watch.

The next cool thing about the countryside were the genuine sounds. I say genuine because you always hear them in movies or other video clips and it sounded exactly the same – the constant noise of Crickets. I thought it was really cool. It just added to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is no way to capture it. You can only experience it fully by being there. The other genuine sound was a frog! The coundtryside is so peaceful and quiet – so quiet that we could hear a frog not too far off from where we were standing. I just though it was great.

I then slept all the way back to the hotel and got a good nights rest.

Hmmm, where did those 56 hours go?

As the title of this post suggests, I’ve run out of time! After being awake for 23 hours (woke up at 7:00am GMT on the 17th) I’ve ended up in Independence, Jackson County. It was a great journey, seemed to go really quick. I can’t believe an 8 hour plane ride seems quicker than a maths lesson – but today I proved it. It didn’t seem like 8 hours at all. he first flight was very nice but I was stuck in the middle seat of the midle aisle. Again, not the end of the world because the person next to me was very nice and super willing to leave their seat so I could get out to go to the lav. The main downside was that you couldn’t see out of any windows. I did have the personal screen with the outside cameras but it’s not quite the same.

After landing in Chicago, I had 45 minutes to get through customs and get on my next plane. I got to customs and it was fairly quick. The guy at the desk was unfamiliar with the Nauvoo Pageant so I had to explain what it was. I then picked up my baggage, dropped it off again about 20 meters away and ran to the nearest train station.

I got the train to terminal 1 and got off only to find myself in an enormous checking in hall. I quickly looked at a board and it said my flight was a F4 in terminal 2. So, I ran all the way to terminal 2, stopping on route for a security check. I get to the gate and see that it’s not mine! I kindly asked where my gate was. It was back in terminal 1!!! I ran back to terminal 1 and found the correct gate only to find they hadn’t started boarding even though the flight was due to leave in 15 minutes. It would be quite difficult to leave without a plane aswell. We eventually took off about half an hour after we should have arrived in St. Louis. Was a nice, short flight, only about 40 minutes. I did manage to see out of the window a bit this time.

Walking off the plane, I felt a huge blast of heat. It was quite a shock as the plane was air conditioned. As soon as I’d left the jetway (the moving tunnel thing you walk down to get on the plane) I saw Kelly, a friend of the family. It was a nice surprise as I didn’t expect to see him until I’d got my baggage. It took a while to get the baggage, I was one of the last ones. I thought it hadn’t made it as I was so late in Chicago. Fortunately, it did. I would have been pretty miffed if it hadn’t made it. Anyways, we went outside to wait for the shuttle to the car hire place.

I haven’t got a picture yet, but our hire car is rather nice. It must be nearly new as it’s in such good condition. It’s good that is was nice because we had a 220 mile ahead of us. It must be the quickest 220 mile journey I’ve ever had in a car. It went really quick. I wish they all did. About 3/4 of the way there, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel restourant at around 3am GMT 18th June. It was only 9pm on the 17th of June for us. I don’t actually know which time zone we’re in. It’s -6 hours anyway. We then finished the journey and stopped at a Best Western Hotel for the night. Very impressive. Even better, it has WiFi so I can email you all. I’ll be back! You can’t get rid of me that easily.

Matt

56 Hours and Counting…

According to timeanddate.com, it’s 56 hours until I leave home for America. It says it’s rounded down aswell but I can’t be bothered to calculate it myself! My excuse is that I’m busy, I’m tired, it’s late, I’ve been doing lots of work AND I learned how to iron a shirt today.

I haven’t written for a while so theres lots to tell. First of all, I have a rough outline of my daily schedule:

7.00am – Breakfast
—Practice all morning—
12.00pm – Lunch
1.00pm-2.00pm – Study Class
—Assignments/Additional Practices in the afternoon—
5.00pm – Dinner
6.00pm – Devotional before pre-show activities
8.45pm – Pageant Start
10.30pm-11.00pm – Time to go to bed

I’m sure this will vary. I’ll keep you as up-to-date as I can.

On Tuesday 6th June, the Wharfe Valley Branch of the Leeds England stake had a mini seminary graduation. This is because I will be away for the official one. It was very nice and still fealt great. I’ve added some photos here.

On Tuesday 13th June, the Branches’ Young Mens and Young Womens groups held a surprise party for me! I couldn’t believe it! It really was a nice surprise, I had absolutely no idea. The original plan was to go to Huddersfield for a dance practice for the seminary graduation. I was convinced that that was what we were doing because my young mens leader called on Sunday and asked if I was going and I said yes. On Tuesday, I asked if he needed help with getting people there and he didn’t. I didn’t think much of it, but I thought it we might not all fit in if I didn’t take a car. Well, it came to the time to go to Huddersfield and I got a text message saying he’d be 15 minutes late. I’ve only just realised this minute why! It’d be too early to go to our normal activity at the arranged time to go to Hudderfield! So, he delayed it! I’m very touched that this was planned down to the finest detail.

Anyways, I arrive at the Chapel and am asked if I’m ready to dance. I replied ‘I’d do it but I’m not really in the mood’. Going a little further down the corridor, I’m ushered into a side room where the surprise party had been setup. I was massively surpriesd! I just want to emphasise how pleasantly surprised I was and how much I appreciate the effort that was put into it. The purpose of the party was to say farewell for my trip to Nauvoo, my 18th birthday because I’m away for it and it was my last Tuesday night activity.

It went really well. It started out with me giving an explanation of what I would be doing in Nauvoo and me answering any questions people had. It made me think I should write a Q&A section. I’ll try my best to get one online asap. We then went on to eat food, socialise and do whatever we wanted. One of my favourite games was one that involved a large ammount of flour. The idea was a large bowl packed to the top with flour. This was then turned upside down and put on a plate (it takes quite a lot of skill to get it out of the bowl and onto the plate without it breaking). Then, a coin is placed on top. After that, all participants take a turn at slicing a chunk away from the lump of flour. The person to make the lump of flour with the coin perched on top fall would have to retrieve it out of the pile of flour – with their teeth! Mmmmmmmmm tasty. I’ll get the two unfortunate people who had to do this to tell you how vile and disgusting it was.

Well, it’s now 00:47 15th June. So little time left – shame I have to waste some of it sleeping. I best get going.

Matt

Less than two weeks!

Wow! Not long at all now. Feels strange for some reason. I’m still very excited though. I was contacted earlier this week by the Pageant Public Relations Coordinator. Here is what was said:

“Dear Matt,

I am writing a press release about volunteers who are coming to Nauvoo to serve in the Pageant. I would like to mention those who are coming further distances than most. Would you be able to send me a quote to include in the release about why you decided to come at your own expense all the way from the United Kingdom to be in the Pageant Work Crew? Any comments you’d care to make will be appreciated.

We are putting together a media kit, which will be distrubuted to local and area press, newspapers in the West, and used for our media day here in Nauvoo on July 6. We are inviting about 100 members of the press to come to Historic Nauvoo for a press conference; a special presentation by some of the lead actors and David Warner, the Pageant artistic director; and a catered luncheon in The Groves just north of the Pageant site.

I’d appreciate it if you could get back to me by Wednesday, May 31 with your comments. Thanks so much. We look forward to having you join us for the wonderful Nauvoo Pageant! You’re in for a treat!
Sincerely,

******** ****
Promotions, Events & Public Relations
Nauvoo Pageant”

(I starred out the name because I haven’t contacted the person in question about putting their name on my site.)

I thought that was really cool. So, I wrote my response and sent it back. I’m sure there are many others wanting to know why I’m doing it so my response is this:

I found out about the Pageant and the Work Crew Vacancies after my Mum noticed a small section on the lds.org homepage. After reading all about it I thought ‘Wow, what an opportunity that would be’. I was very luck to find out then because the date for applications had already been extended and there were only two days left. Fortunately, I managed to get my application in on time. After quite some time, I got the email I had been waiting for: ‘Nauvoo Pageant Work Crew Application – Accepted’. I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to participate even though travelling from so far away.

Why did I jump at the opportunity? I will be 18 by the end of July which menas I’ll be 19 in just over a year. I applied because I would love the opportunity to serve as a missionary before my full time mission. After reading about last years experiences and the missionary orientated schedule, I thought it would be a great experience and ‘practice run’ for my mission. I will be finishing my college course in computer technology days before I leave for Nauvoo. Had I not ben going to Nauvoo, I would have spent my summer relaxing before getting a job in September to earn some money for my mission. I decided serving in Nauvoo would be a much better, useful and experience gaining way to spend my time.

Less than two weeks now!

Bye for now,
Matt