Middle America


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Published: August 8th 2007
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Mississippi RiverMississippi RiverMississippi River

Bridge, taken from the Bus

Welcome to Mid Town America.




Compared to the other beautiful towns we had visited, Missouri was as they say... Misery!!! Well, maybe not that bad. However the houses were much more run down and the gardens unkempt and overgrown. Shops seemed old and run down. One of the main things we have noticed while in United states that was a surprise for us is how old and brown looking things are. I suppose TV shows only show the new and sparkely side of United States. We never really thought that USA is twice as old (since European settlement) than Australia. So I was constantly amazed at old brown buildings from the 60's and crumbling down buildings from even older times. Many downtowns had lots of character but were being underused due to strip malls being built outside towns on the highways.


From the St Louis Airport we headed three hours to Independence Missouri. We visited the Community of Christ Headquarters church. It is shaped like a spiral. It was interesting to go into their bookshop and to see paintings of all of Joseph Smiths decscendants. As Latter day Saints we don't typically see these. It was interesting
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or RLDS. Their headquarters in Independence Missouri
to note the grandson and great grandson's of Joseph Smith and to see how they looked and the family resemblence. It almost bought tears to my eyes. It was a very humbling experience. We had the option of a tour of the Community of Christ temple or to sit on the vacant lot owned by our church. Everyone opted to do that so we sat in the shade and listened to LDS scholar Wayne Brickey as most of us did not really enjoy the tour of Kirtland, we felt Independence might be the same.


There is a little old church right on the vacant lot. It is owned by the Church of the Temple Lot or Hedrickite Church. It is named after the leader who took control after they broke off from the main church in 1863 (Granville Hedrick). There was an old man inside that was an apostle for their church. There are about 5000 members around the world. They don't have a prophet but are lead through their 12 apostles. He said that they were waiting for the time to hand over the land to the right people. They are the caretakers. We bought some old
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Re enactment of conditions in the Jail
postcards from him and went on our way.


Then we went to Liberty Jail and on to Adam-ondi-ahman.


The restored Liberty Jail, was where the Prophet Joseph Smith spent approximately five months awaiting trial. While there he received three revelations that are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. Incarcerated in Liberty Jail with Joseph Smith were other Church leaders: Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin. During the winter months in which they were held in the basement jail, they suffered from intense cold and exposure to the elements because of the small slits in the walls that served as windows. The men slept on dirty straw and suffered poisoning attempts and insults. However, Joseph's biggest grievance was not his own condition of imprisonment but the knowledge that the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were suffering untold anguish that he could not prevent. Joseph and two of the other men were taller than the jail's roof, so they could not stand fully upright in the 5 months they were there.


In April 1839, Joseph and his fellow prisoners were transported to Gallatin, Missouri, for a
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It was absolutely beautiful here. Really felt the Spirit
grand jury hearing. When that hearing was complete, the prisoners were told they would be moved to the jail in Boone County. While on the journey from Gallatin, the men guarding the Prophet and his friends allowed Joseph and the others to escape. The Church leaders, in a very weakened condition, soon caught up with the main body of the Church.


Adam-ondi-Ahman is a historic site along the east bluffs above the Grand River in Daviess County, Missouri that is the site where Adam and Eve were banished after being evicted from the Garden of Eden and is to be a gathering spot on Judgment Day. It was the site for a Mormon Temple (which was never built) and a flash point in the Mormon War to evict the Mormons from Missouri.

As described in the hymn Adam-Ondi-Ahman

"This earth was once a garden place, With all her glories common, And men did live a holy race, And worship Jesus face to face, In Adam-ondi-Ahman. / We read that Enoch walk'd with God, Above the power of mammon, While Zion spread herself abroad, And Saints and angels sung aloud, In Adam-ondi-Ahman. / Her land was good
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The Church leases out the land to surrounding farmers
and greatly blest, Beyond old Israel's Canaan; Her fame was known from east to west, Her peace was great, and pure the rest Of Adam-ondi-Ahman. / Hosannah to such days to comeā€”The Savior's second coming, When all the earth in glorious bloom, Affords the Saints a holy home, Like Adam-ondi-Ahman." (John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement, Ch. 8)


We received a CD with this song on it. It is in the Hymn book, but I had never heard it sung before. It is now one of my favourite memories of this trip and just hearing this song can make me cry. The person who sings the song on the CD was on the trip with us, and sang it while we were there in the quiet of the afternoon, sitting on the grass looking out at the valley on Adam-Ondi-Ahman. It is a cherished memory sitting at the end of a grove of trees looking out on the farmland. We have noticed on our trip that many of the Church Historical sites are in rural areas. The most spiritual times we have had were where there were no buildings. Sharon Vermont, The Sacred Grove and Adam-Ondi-Ahman were the places
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From the Nauvoo Temple
that affected us the most.


As the sun was setting we headed to Far West so we walked around in the twilight and eventually the dark.


We spent the next two days in Nauvoo. Now Nauvoo is a little town (if you can call it a town) on the Mississippi River. The Temple is the biggest building and dominates the skyline. Apart from a few shops there is nothing in Nauvoo. There is a restored Village of Nauvoo. Some of the buildings are originals and some have been rebuilt. The missionaries in Nauvoo wear period costumes and show examples of living at that time. They make bricks like in the old days, I got a minature Nauvoo brick and gently bought it all the way back to Australia! You can see the Joseph Smith Mansion, Red Brick Store, Parley P Pratt house, Brigham Young home, Store, Post Office, Pioneer Memorial, Kimball Home, Cemetary, Gun smith Shop The houses were very cute and quaint. Houses in those times had just so much feeling. The Visitors Centre had bronze Sculptures dedicated to women and some original sunstones from the Original Nauvoo Temple. The Visitors Centers have had wonderful artworks and sculptures that arent seen anywhere else.


We went to the Nauvoo Temple and really enjoyed our time in there. It has the most beautiful spiral staircase that is just amazing to see. It is actually very large with 4 levels. They ask if you would like to take the stairs or take the elevator. Of course I had to take the stairs at least once!


We went to the Nauvoo Pagent that night. In this pagent the actors had speaking roles, and it was about families in the late 1800's intertwined with early church experiences. Throughout the play they slowly added pieces together and at the end it made a huge Nauvoo Temple. It was all wood and fabric. There were also stalls and examples of games and activities played in the 1800's. It was a nice evening, but I was so tired I was glad when it was finished and we could go back to the hotel.


Our last day was spent attending church in Nauvoo, walking around the old Nauvoo village and having dinner at the Hotel Nauvoo for their famous buffet. It was definately yummy.
Everything you could think
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Carthage Jail
of was there. With full stomachs we then visited Carthage Jail. The most interesting thing I learnt at the jail, was that it was actually a house and that the policeman and his family lived in the jail (a room at the top of the house had a jail cell with bars.) He had felt sorry for Joseph and Hyrum and those that were there and they were actually sleeping in a bedroom at the bottom of the house, and not being kept in a cell. However he was starting to fear for their lives, so placed them in an upstairs bedroom for increased safety. The day the mob came the policemans wife and daughter were home and had to run from the house amist gunshots! The mob had no regard for them at all. It shows how beyond feeling they must have been to do it.


There was a guy on our trip who was an Elvis and Mark Twain Impersonator. He was also the Great Great Grandson of John Taylor. So while in the upstairs room he sang "Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" just like his grandfather did for Joseph. It was a surreal moment and very poignant. It is a sad way to end such an emotional 10 days for us, the Sister Missionaries telling us lots of wonderful tidbits of information that I can no longer remember. This trip improved my testimony so much, as physically seeing these places made everything make sense and fall into place. I wish I had written down everything I had heard as we were told of so many miracles and from excerpts from diaries of people who were there. It truely was amazing to say the least.


At the end of the journey on the way back to St Louis we visited Hannibal Missouri. This was the birthplace of Mark Twain. Our Elvis Impersonator was also a Mark Twain Impersonator so we listened to him tell of some Mark Twain stories and jokes. We went down to the locks on the river and had a look around. We walked the streets of what you would imagine a tired, old middle American town would look like with nothing exciting going on, life just passing by. There were lots of gift shops and craft and icecream shops so we browsed around at those for an hour of so
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Mark Twain Impersonator in Hannibal Missouri, birth place of Mark Twain
before we hopped back on the bus and the end of our Historical sites tour of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.


But it wasn't the end of the trip for us.

Friends in Las Vegas await... From Spiritual Heights to Sin City...

What a perfect way to experience all the United States of America has to offer!




Additional photos below
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Nauvoo Temple

I am the little dot on the stairs
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Garden

Beautiful gardens everywhere
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Jail

The original bricks from the Jail. The visitors centre was built over the top of the jail
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Liberty Jail

A nice visitors centre in the middle of typical Missouri suburbia
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Nauvoo Pagent

Throughout the pagent pieces were added, at the end it makes this fabric Temple. It was very big.
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sign

You will have to enlarge to be able to read it
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Bus Self Portrait

Us in the bus. We had seats in the middle back with our own gang. Canadian couple, Alaskan mum and daughter and Ryan and Bridget
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Elvis Impersonater

One of the interesting people aboard our bus!


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