3,456,000 seconds

Back again. It’s been ages since my last proper post. Thanks to all those who have continued to check though. In recent news, we’ve had plenty more storms and not one has stopped the pageant yet. There was another that let loose as soon as we’d packed away all the props.

There was one storm a few weeks ago that stopped a monday evening dress rehersal. I will upload some pictures as soon as I can. I have some video to show aswell. This was the biggest storm I had ever seen. The edge of it was here in Nauvoo and the centre of it was miles and miles away on the other side of the Mississippi. There were the strangest looking cloud formations ever. They looked like large cotton wool balls hanging out of the sky. If you get the underside of a flat surface wet and hold it up, you can see the water droplets hanging down ready to drop. They looked a lot like that. The storm took a long long time to approach and finally arrived while we were having our district meetings with the newly arrived cast. I was in an underground room and missed the best bits! It was the first electrical storm I had seen that was so powerful that the static made peoples hair stand on end – I have photo evidence for that too.

Still on the subject of storms, the work crew has decided that a certain one was heaven sent. Yesterday morning (Wednesday) there was a powerful thunderstorm so the morning rehersal couldn’t go on. After getting up and going to breakfast, it was established that the work crew could have the morning off! It was a real treat – honest. I had only had around 5 hours sleep in the night and so I had over 3 hours to make up for it. I felt so refreshed. Unfortunately it was canceled out by another late night and early morning.

Yesterday we also had another visitor – Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the Quorum of the Twelve. As mentioned in the caption of the picture, he is an extremely busy man. Despite that fact, he managed to take the time to come backstage, greet all the work crew and have a group photo taken. It has come out really really nice.

For now, thats all the news I can remember in my sleepy mind. I will make another commitment to write tomorrow, how great or small the post. The more often I write, the more I can remember.

Finally, it’s my 18th birthday tomorrow! It’s certainly going to be strange being away from home for it. I’ll be spending my entire afternoon on the phone aswell.

Remember – ask questions! That’ll help me keep the blog interesting and informative.

Matt

Matt is Mush Once More

There we have it. The temperature and humidity was extreme today and I had become mush again. That was until it cooled down in the evening and I set again. I set just in time for the beginning of the pageant. If you can think of some more creative titles, let me know.

My last post was two days ago already and theres lots to tell. Tuesday was also fairly un-busy so we got some much needed rest. The most extreme think we had to do that day was drag 12 porta loos (for my American readers: porta-potties) about 30m (something feet). The thing is it would have been ok if the weather had stayed the same. As soon as we got started, the sun burst out of the clouds with such force it knocked us all over. Come to think of it, it wasn’t really quite that bad but it was still horrible. They were already full of the blue fluid and so were rather heavy. I don’t think I’ve sweated so much in all my life! I don’t know what the temperature was but it was way too hot to move porta whatevers. Fortunately we did live to tell the tale.

At the beginning my time in Nauvoo, I thought I’d make great use of the video camera my sister has let me borrow (so kindly). I had the idea that we should make a set of questions and go around and interview people about their time in Nauvoo. I got so mixed up in the work that I completely forgot about it until now. I rememberd around 10 minutes (10 minutes for my American readers) before I needed to be down on the pageant site. I quickly wrote down some questions on a big piece of card. I don’t have it with me right now so I’ll have to try and remember them:

1. Name?
2. Hometown?
3. Role in the Pageant?
4. Favourite (Favorite for my American readers) thing about Nauvoo?
5. Favorite food?
6. How did you hear about the Pageant?

I think that’s it and in the right order. I’m sure there are 6. After writing them down, I got me a ‘correspondant’ and a que card holder and we were set to go. Jared was the correspondant and Randy was the que card holder. We also wanted a microphone just for show. Jared and I scoured the JSA for a spare one that wouldn’t be missed for a couple of hours but we couldn’t find one and eventually had to go down to the site. We went over to the sound desk to speak to TC. He’s a very pleasant guy to work with. He found us a mic and said we could use it at any time. We started by interviewing people we already new. The first few interviews were so hilarious I could hardly keep the camera still for laughing. I can’t wait to show you them.
After a few funny interviews, we interviewed someone from the Pageant security team. We already knew him but not as well as eachother. He gave some great responses and Jared was still really funny. After a couple more interviews, we went over to the area in front of the stage and found the Pageant President – President Renof (I’ll have to check on the spelling). He was also willing to let us interview him. I think it was really nice considering how busy he is. Again, I look forward to showing you the clip.

Tuesdays performance was just great. Everything under the stage went well anyway. I don’t know about everything else because I couldn’t see it but I didn’t hear about anything going wrong.

That’s all I can remember about Tueday.
Matt

Wednesday

Now that’s a title! I can’t remember much about what happened on Wednesday either because so much has happened since. I made a few notes but I should have made more. If I could, I’d videotape all important events during the day and make notes on them later.

I can’t remember what time Wednesday started for the sleep work crew but after brekky, we went straight down to the Grove for our morning district meetings. I took care of the meeting today. Today, 12th July 2006 is 163 years since a revelation was given through Joseph smith the Prophet at Nauvoo, Illinois. I spent the lesson discussing the scripture and the importance of marriage and the family. It went great appart from running out of time.

After the district meetings, we went over to the stage to practice. Again, I was under the stage. I really enjoy it down there because of the team spirit there is there. It wouldn’t be as enjoyable without it. The morning went quick and lunchtime was soon upon us. I feel so sorry for the cast. They are out in the blazing heat while the work crew responsible for moving the stage hide underneath in the shade. They do an amazing job and they do it so well. After lunch, we had to move some tables for a dinner that was going to take place in the Grove for members of the local community. This didn’t take too long and then we were able to have free time to do laundry, contact home or sleep! I didn’t get chance to sleep. Theres just too much to do.

After dinner, we were back on the pre-show field and interviewing people once more. We have a collection of approximately 14 interviews now. It’s going really well and the word is going round that were doing it. The performance was just great again. We managed to lower the temple with the best accuracy yet. It went down straight and without a bang. After the performance and cleanup, around 12 of us gathered in front of the temple to sing together. It was so incredibly nice to be able to look up at the temple and sing our favourite hymns. The spirit was very very strong there and none of us wanted to leave. It ended up being 12:30am by the time we managed to depart and get some sleep. We hope we can do it again soon. It was a special and first time experience.

Yesterday, a number of local rooms were plastered with hearts and decorations with a portion of sweets (candy) laid out for each occupant of the room. I thought this was a great idea except for one thing: My room didn’t get hit! Well, today, David assumed ‘they’would come back and finish off what ‘they’ had started. He set up his camera through a series of mirrors to snap a picture of their face as they entered the room. I was really impressed, it didn’t take him too long. The snapper mechanism was great too. He set it up with some thin ribbon. The main piece was mostly cut so when the door was opened, it would break the rest of the way. When it breaks, a bolt attache to the ribbon would fall down a guide and onto the capture button. It looked great and he was confident it would work.

When I got back after the performance, David had been back around 10 mins and had had time to look at the trap. He came over to me and said that it had been set off and the room had been hit. I was really thrilled! He said the camera had been set off aswell. We’re now all waiting to get it developed so we can find out who it is. I suspect the office staff but I’m not sure. I have contacts. I’ll let you know the outcome.

Matt

And now for something completely different…

Well, I’m going to skip most of today becase it was very similar to other days for the most part. The main difference was in the evening during the performance. We started with pre-show and managed to get some more interviews. Some funny, some more serious. After pre-show and just getting ready to start the show, storm clouds were closing in fast. Some even saw lightning but I didn’t. Throughout most of the show, the clouds got closer and the lightning intensified. I wonder what the guys in the 60ft steel towers must have been thinking. (For those with concerns, had the lightning been closer, the lighting crew would have been straight back down on firm ground.)

To my amazement, the storms(s) didn’t reach us until the very end of the show. I know the Lord was part of this. We packed everything up in record time and as we gathered the last few things the heavens opened. All we needed was a bottle of shampoo. We ran around and gathered the last few things and made sure no-one else was left behind. I was just amazed that it was so close for so long without going right over us. I know for sure that the rain was held back until the guests had left and the essential props had been put away.

What we witnesses was truly a miracle. A couple of us were talking in one of the rooms when John Ricks came in and took a seat. He asked us if we had realised how much had happened to make this a miracle. I, along with others said no. He said that the weather had been monitored live throughout the entire performance. When the temple structure and spire went up on the set, he said the part of the storm heading for us stopped right in its tracks. The rest of the storm carried on. The storm had stopped above Fort Madison. I’m not sure where that is in relation to Nauvoo but I know it’s close. As soon as both the temple structure and the spire were lowered, the storm continued to head straight forward. I just find that fantastic and am so glad he shared it with us.

If I find I’ve missed any crucial details, I’ll add them later. I need to get to bed.

Miss you all,
Matt

1,900,800 seconds/31,680 minutes/528 hours/3 weeks – Already!

For those of you who like things in different formats, there we go. I’ve been in the US for approximately 1,900,800 seconds now. Another funny format; I started writing this post at 120-to-3 this afternoon. Just rememberd a time we went throught the McDonalds drive through and the guy gave us something like “346 pennies change”. I’m going to be awkward and buy my first house in pennies. I may need several shipping containers full. I think we could manage it with enough time and patience. Enough of my ramblings, I was on the phone earlier and everyone is waiting for an update so here it goes.

This week started almost a week ago when I could do nothing to slow down or completely stop time. It’s been so busy I couldn’t really update my previous post. I will try my best to complete this one today and write more regularaly so I can remember all the details I want to share. On Monday, we inherited 8 new members to the work crew. I don’t know their names yet though. Just like when the first 10 of us arrived, we’ve got to know eachother (except names) really well.

The cast started arriving sometime this week. The work crew have no concept of time except for when the next meal is. It was early in the week so it was either Tuesday or Wednesday. There was an orientation meeting where we had a talk from the Pageant President (President Renouf (will have to check if that’s spelt correctly)) and then each family stood up and introduced themselves. John stood up and introduced the work crew and we all said who we were and where we were from. It was a really great evening.

Either that morning, or the morning after the orientation meeting I met the two core cast members who are the district leaders. I can’t remember their full names but here is what I can remember: Mary and Jackie. They are two amazing people. They do a really great job of looking after the district. For the first district meeting, we all introduced ourselves and talked about our backgrounds/ambitions. I first met Mary in the caffateria during breakfast. She was so pleasant right from the beginning and told me all about herself and gave me time to talk about myself and my family. I don’t know how to say how it went – it was just fantastic. It was like we’d known eachother forever.

I can’t remember how long it was until I met Jackie but she was just as amazing. Such a nice person. There are nice people all over Nauvoo. Everyone seems to wave all the time. At home, if I waved to someone I didn’t know, I’d just get a funny look back or just feel really awkward. Here, you feel awkward if you DON’T wave. It’s just amazing. I’m still trying to get to grips with what went on here with the saints so long ago.

I went down the trail of hope today. As usual, I’ll get pictures posted asap. It is actually nice to get a break from computers and phones (I can hear people laughing all the way over here). I haven’t carried my phone since I got here. I wouldn’t normally go anywhere without it at home. The trail of hope is the route the saints took when leaving Nauvoo for the last time, heading for the crossing of the Mississippi. The road is lined with journal entries from people who left Nauvoo and the thoughts, feelings and troubles they shared are just incredible. There are some heartwrenching quotes that make me feel forever grateful for their sacrifices. I will have to find the quote but there is one that says something along these lines: ‘You will rightly praise the pioneers for the sacrifices they made long the treck. One day they will praise you for safely making it through your life in such a troubled world.’ I firmly believe that the Lord sends the right people at the right time. I think there is another quote saying the pioneers would rather go through what they had to than live in a world like the one we do now. Don’t get me wrong – I love the world we live in so much, there is still a huge ammount of good but evil is emerging in ways as never before.

I love going down the trail of hope. I got a picture of each quote so you can see them aswell. At certain points down the road I could see the Temple towering over the treetops. I couldn’t think of anything except what it would feel like to have built it and had to leave it behind. It must have been such a terrible terrible thing to have to do. Again, I’m grateful for the sacrifices made so that we can be here today. I have come to love Nauvoo so much already. I’m going to find it hard to leave after just 7 weeks. Imagine building Nauvoo, living there for years and then having to leave it. I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard that would be.

When reaching the Mississippi, it looked a horrible task on a hot summers day. Just think about a cold winters day with ice blocks floating down the river. The river is so vast. I wouln’t enjoy crossing it in anything but a properly build boat. I have a picture of one of the barges they used to carry the wagons across the river. It wouldn’t have been a fun fide at all. I hope all people reading this get the opportunity to see this for themselves. It’s hard to describe how I felt.

Jumping back into the week, the day after the orientation meeting was the first rehersal. This was just amazing. Everything seems to be about Nauvoo. I need a word that would say it better than amazing but I can’t think of one. I have been assigned as stage crew which means I am under the stage during rehersals and performances. I was originally not very optimistic about the position but I was instantly proved wrong. I love it. There is a fantastic team spirit and everyone works together really well. Steve Wall, our leader is great. He trained us really well and is just so good at supporting us. The stage manager (Kay) is also fantastic. She is so encouraging even when the stage pieces get stuck and theres a chance of missing the que. One of my favourite parts is the dancing. The noise under the stage is unique. Ben left on Sunday and had the chance to see the show on Saturday. He said the dances were great but just wern’t the same out from under the stage. Not many people will have the opportunity to hear the noise the dancing makes.

The first dress rehersal was Thursday morning (I think). Everyone looked fantastic and the stage pieces were all moved at the right time. Thursday was the day around 100 members of the press were invited to watch. I can’t remember what time of day the performance was but it went great. I never did actually see anyone to do with the press/any media. On the opening night, we had a visit from Elder Staley (Member of the 70). It was great to have him there and I got the opportunity to say hello at the end. On the friday night, we had Elder Scott (Quorum of the Twelve). It was also great to have him there. He spoke to us all in the pre-show meeting. I had the opportunity to say hello and shake his hand at the end. He is such a nice man to stay so long to greet people. He must have been getting tired as it was approaching 11pm and you can imagine the leaders of the church always have crammed schedules. Elder Scott also spoke in sacrament meeting. I’ll talk about that in another post.

Well, I think thats about it for now. Any questions? I’m still doing very well. Don’t worry about me. Look after yourselves. I miss you all and thank you all for your support. I want to tell you all how much I am enjoying the experience. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting. I have grown spiritually more than I could have imagined already. Thanks again.
Bye for now,
Matt

P.S. This is probably my longest post yet at 1427 words!

Day of Rest Revisited!

Wow! Here we are again – already. Overall, it’s been an incredible week. So much has happened. I will try and fill in all the important details. On Tuesday, most of the office staff arrived and a few of the core cast members; we had the opportunity to meet them on the Wednesday. They are all really great people. I had corresponded with most of them through email previously.

I met Peggy and John Ricks – A couple of amazing people. They are doing an amazing job to co-ordinate the entire pageant. Johns main task, among others is to look after the work crew! Not a task many people would jump at the chance to do! We’re a great bunch really. Trying to get us to lesson on time is a different matter. I also met Linda Gee, another of the cast (and crew) coordinators. She was so nice to us all and gave us a hug. It must have been the first since leaving home! I also finally met Stephen Breinholt who plays Robert Laird in the show. Robert moved over the the US from Scotland after his wife heard the missionaries. They settle in Nauvoo throughout the show and Robert warms to the Gospel. He is enthusiastic with building the Temple because he recently lost his son and has recently learned about temple ordinances that enable his family to be together forever.

I haven’t added much to this post because I want to write about recent events. Hope this is ok!

Matt