Today I am so grateful for history: those who have gone before and made so many sacrifices so that we can live the way we do, and also for college kids who became family for me and Dave so many years ago❤️

Isn’t it crazy to look back and realize how things have unfolded over the years?

Like, how could I have known as that little 21 year old that my mission would change my life so much?

Or how that one boy with the best smile upstairs from my college apartment would become my husband?

Or how my college roommates, that I got matched up with in such random ways, would become so dear? (One was a neighbor on my study abroad in Jerusalem and the others she had met freshman year).

See these people in our college apartment all those years ago?

I adore them.

Little did I know way back then how life would keep us together in many ways.

All of us girls trying to sort out boys, my friend Tom (not in the picture), told me Dave had a crush on me when we all lived in that same apartment complex…which in turn made me realize I should probably take note of that cute tall guy upstairs.

Now, all these years later, Denny and Nichole (on the right in the picture above), got called to be mission leaders in Iowa, (I wrote all about that back HERE), and Tom and Melissa (not in the picture, but Tom was Dave’s roommate), have joined them to serve as missionaries for a year.

We got to go visit for a quick day and a half under the canopy of all that end-of-fall glory…

…amongst the cornfields of Iowa.

So fun to see their new world (including Nauvoo filled up with so much church history…getting to that) just glowing with all the goodness happening there.

They are pretty much rocking it over there.

When you get called as Mission Leaders you could get called to anywhere in the whole wide world.

And when these guys got their call to Iowa I don’t think any of us knew how beautiful that spot is!

It’s funny because Tom and Melissa wanted to go and serve as missionaries with Denny and Nichole no matter where they got called, and it just so turned out that the mission includes part of Tom’s mission from back when he was a teenager. So interesting how things turn out! These two are rocking it as well!

Despite Dave and I asking to be put to work to help during our visit, all four of them cleared their schedules and rearranged so that we could just be together, driving and exploring their new stomping grounds as we talked through the world.

We drove through Amish country in a town called Kalona.

We went to the bakery, so interesting to think about how we over-complicate things so much in life!

I bought this sign to take home and put on my desk to try to remind me:

We stopped in Burlington to walk “Snake Alley” which was in Tom’s mission:

It’s like Lombard Street in San Francisco, but I think even more curvy…”five half-curves, two quarter-curves and drops 58 feet over a distance of 275 feet.”

Pretty cool…read more HERE.

Mississippi River:

Our next stop:

Carthage Jail

(Please know this is not a comprehensive history of all these places we visited, I don’t have a lot of time today, but I so encourage anyone to look things up if they want more information! a good place to start is HERE)

In all my years of growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have never visited church history sites. So I was grateful for the opportunity to visit this spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith was jailed and then killed by an angry mob in 1844.

We learned so much.

I know there is so much controversy around Joseph Smith out in the world, but this place gave me such an appreciation for that time of life, and for him and his friends who stuck right by him. And for all that he did to bring us the beliefs and beauty we enjoy in church today.

This is the room where he was shot and fell through the window, after his brother was shot through the door:

…and the window he fell from.

To read more about Carthage Jail, click HERE.

I am determined to finish “Saints,” which details so much of this so I can grasp it even deeper.

If you’re interested in brushing up on your own knowledge of the history of the church, you can find that (and other volumes too), over HERE.

After Carthage we continued our little road trip.

Nauvoo, Illinois

We visited the historic sites here…

Just a little background for those interested, the early Saints were persecuted and were forced to move from place to place. They found themselves in Nauvoo which was swampy and really not a great place, but they sure made it beautiful!

…including the Smith family cemetery with this view:

So much history around this that I so encourage looking up if anyone is interested. Lots about the historic sites HERE.

(And I will have to come back and do a post with more information after I get through Saints.)

This “Old Brick Store” below on the left was perhaps my favorite, maybe because the Relief Society was organized on the second floor in there:

From Wikipedia: “The building became a center of economic, political, religious, and social activity among the Latter Day Saints. In addition to being a mercantile store, the second floor of the building also served as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for a period of time. Members would visit the store to pay their tithing and other offerings to the church.”

As most blog readers know, I adore leaves…even the curled up ones are just so beautiful!

Nauvoo Temple

When the early Latter-day Saints built Nauvoo, the temple was the focal point of their landscape, their teachings, and their devotion. In the temple, their faith in Jesus Christ would increase, and they would make sacred covenants and receive great blessings. Today, a reconstruction of the temple overlooks Historic Nauvoo.” (from the church website)

Read all about the Nauvoo temple HERE.

This “Trail of Hope” was so sobering. (As the Saints left Nauvoo to head West.)

You can’t see those words up there too well, so here they are typed out:

“1846 began the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo. Leaving behind their homes, beautiful city, family and friends who they quite possibly would never see again in this life. As they journeyed west, they recorded their feelings and experiences in personal journals. From these journals we get a sense of what it would have been like to have traveled with them. Some selected writings from these journals are reproduced on the signs along this trail to the river.”

As we read all those journal entries I thought of this song that has moved up in my “favorites” list:

So incredible to think of the faith those early church members had to leave all they knew and head into the great unknown.


Makes me think about the times in our lives where we head into the “unknown” with nothing but faith to pull us through.

So grateful for all the sacrifices made that “made” them who they were, and helped work to understand God and strive to follow Jesus Christ.

Oh goodness there is so much more to say about that…maybe in another post on another day. But I was pretty inspired.

Before we headed to the airport the next day we hit an apple orchard:

Had to take a picture with one of these “Herky the Hawk” statues that are all over Iowa (mascot for the Hawkeyes):

And to meet some of the awesome missionaries they are working with.

(Do those kids realize how lucky they are to get these guys as their leaders???)

We flew out just so grateful for the time to talk deep about life and all the places it takes us.

And God and His continual mercy and unconditional love.

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  1. I’m a little confused. Why is it ok for your friends as mission presidents to take time away from their missions to go have fun with friends & hang out when missionaries are not allowed to visit family, friends. Even if they have family in the area they might not be allowed a lunch with them. It just seems like they would want to make sure they would be there ultimate examples. I know as president they are allowed to have family visit for short times but friends to come hang out ???

    1. That’s a great question. Rorie is right, senior missionaries are much different from younger missionaries. The mission leaders are there for three years and have so much to manage and take care of they need any support they can get. And those who serve in their missions can really do whatever they wish, they are putting jobs on hold so that they can just serve, which is pretty incredible. What I love about these guys is that it is so apparent that they have really put their whole hearts into this. They are not “straddling both worlds,” they are fully invested in the work they are doing and it’s so beautiful to see their love for these missionaries. Hoping that little visits like this one can boost them and buoy them up for the tremendous amount of work they do running a mission.

  2. This was a good question, and a good anwser. I can see both sides of the question. To Anonymous, 3years is a long time to not see family and friends, and I do think it’s important. I also see your point of view too. Mission president ( not just a senior couple) I think need to set the best examples, and I’m sure their friends are. I did kinda get frustrated at the line of “little visits like this can Buoy them up” well yes, and they would too for 18 year olds that are incredibly homesick, don’t have an eternal companion to be with them 24/7 and often in a different country alone. Just my thoughts.

  3. Oh man. I’d love to do a church sites tour, especially a Carthage tour, mostly to see which parts of the history they conveniently eliminate from their script and how they manage to gloss over it without people noticing key parts are missing. For example, did the tour guide explain WHY Joseph was jailed at Carthage to begin with?

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