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!

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