Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saints and Pioneers

So this is my (Mike's) favorite Pioneer Day album. It's by Rob Gardner, a composer out of Mesa. We got to go watch this fireside/presentation a year ago at Gammage, and the spirit was phenomenal! This is the story of the pioneers in words and music and I hope you get a chance to hear it. I took the tracks and put them into one long "video" clip. It's pretty long, but well worth it, so if you're like my wife, you can turn it on and go "blog stalking" for the next hour. You'll have to turn off the music player at the bottom of the blog. My favorite tracks are #6 (We Must Sing) and #17 (Come Ye Disconsolate). Enjoy!

(At the expense of sounding like a commercial, you can find Rob's other albums, including a similar one on Joseph Smith at

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Tribute to the Pioneers

Lindsey does such an incredible job with our blog, making our lives seem so exciting, and making me look so good. But with the spirit of our rich pioneer legacy that I’ve felt the last few days, I just had to share my personal tribute to those faithful saints.

A few weeks ago, we had the incredible opportunity to visit many church history sites, including Nauvoo and Carthage. As I walked where the Prophet Joseph walked, I couldn’t help but envy those who had the privilege to sit at his feet and hear the tidings of angelic visions, pure doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and personal, direct revelation concerning the building up of the Kingdom of God on Earth. The miracles, the brotherhood of the Saints, the selfless service, Zion in the making… How I wish I could have witnessed or been a part of that glorious cause in that day!

We had the opportunity to walk along Parley Street, heading toward the Mississippi along the same route where the pioneers lined up their wagons to wait their turn to cross the river by ferry and leave forever their beautiful home. We read thoughts and memoirs of many of the pioneers along the way, and I couldn’t help but look behind us at the beautiful temple, envisioning those who had spent countless hours and days in building that house of God and now had to leave it behind. For those of you who know Brian Regan or have ever watched ants at work at an anthill that’s just been knocked down, I can’t help but wonder if I’d be the ant to set down my load, shake my fist in the air, and think “Aw man!... I ain’t doing that again! He’s standing right over there and is just gonna knock it down again!” The Saints of God, more full of the light of Christ than ordinary ants, picked themselves up every time their anthill got knocked down, and they went back to work, building the seemingly impossible kingdom of God. How great it would have been to be among them and to see such faith! I wish I had such faith!

So I take off my hat to those faithful brothers and sisters. They were strong; they were inventive and innovative; they were courageous; they were charitable and full of service. And then I realize there’s no reason I can’t emulate those same qualities and lay for my posterity the same legacy of devotion to our Savior. I hope the journals and histories make me seem half as good a man as Lindsey describes me in this blog. But history books aside, what matters most is how I live my life now, how I choose to show my commitment to my Heavenly Father and His children, how I show my gratitude to my elder brother. So find me a straw hat, round me up some oxen. I’m on my way to Zion… Happy Pioneer Day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two Weeks of Fun!

Beware! The following is an accumulation of a lot of posts because we've been out of town for the past 2 weeks and I decided I wouldn't post anything until we got back because this isn't a private blog and I don't want any random person to know we were not at home. Anyway, we're back now, so here we go. Feel free to skim.

Kansas City Fun!

We stayed in Kansas for another week after we got back from Nauvoo. My sister's family lives there because Brendan, my brother-in-law, is going to chiropractic school there. It was nice because 1. we got a free place to stay (thanks for letting us mooch Calli!), and 2. we got to spend time with Calli's family and Amy got to play with her cousins.

We spent a lot of our time just playing games (Hey Calli, Mike... remember when I won Settlers of Catan 3 times in a row? That was fun!), watching movies, and letting the kids slip-n-slide in the backyard. But we also hit some of the local fun sites too. On Saturday we went to Science City. Amy was a little young for it, but she liked the magnets and the playground areas and the dinosaur digging exhibits. My other child, Michael, LOVED IT! We spent half the time looking for Mike because he had wandered off to this exhibit or that. He probably would have preferred to go without us. It was a lot of fun the the kids did enjoy it.

That night, Mike and Brendan took in a Royal's game. Mike and Amy and I had gone to a spring training game of theirs earlier this year, but Mike had this desire to be back in Royal's stadium. Lots of memories of watching games with his dad, brothers, and sometimes Grandma. She's quite the Royals fan. They said it was a really exciting game (the Royals won by a homerun in the bottom of the 9th), but I think the highlight for them was when the two young, cute girls came over and hit on them, hoping they would ask them out. Poor girls. Wasn't their lucky day.
On Tuesday morning we went to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead. This was a really neat place. First of all, IT'S FREE! We need more stuff like this where we live. It's an old farm that was converted into a petting zoo / early American life museum. It was run by volunteers in the area (including the missionaries, who Calli says volunteer there 6 hours each week). They had goats and sheep and cows for the kids to see and pet, a fishing pond where you could get a pole and worms and catch tiny guppies and throw them back, a pony ride, and a 19th century school house with chalk boards on each desk for the kids to color on. It was really a cute place. We started early and it was really nice outside, although we were definitely ready to go by noon when the heat got to us.

On Tuesday night we went over to the local swimming pool, which Amy of course loved, being the waterbug that she is. They had a kiddie area with a 1 foot deep pool with a slide. Right next to that is a giant beachy area that the kids can go back and forth between the beach and the pool. It really was fun and Amy was sad when we had to go. I swear that child would live in the pool if we let her.
Well, that was our trip! Thank you so much Calli and Brendan for your hospitality and letting us crash with you for so long. Two weeks is a long time for house guests, but you never made us feel unwanted or in the way. I know mom and dad live here, so you probably won't ever need to stay with us, but if we ever move away and you want to come visit us, or if you're tired of Summer and Jessie and want to run away to Goodyear, our house is open to you! You guys are the best!


After the family reunion, we headed to Nauvoo with Mike's parents and younger siblings (the older ones had to head back for work. Boo.). I expected it to be more like the sites we'd seen... just set within the actual city itself. I loved the way it's own little town within the city! It's so cute!
I'm getting ahead of myself... We drove up in our rental car from Kansas. We wanted to take the ferry across because... well, because we could! Unfortuantely, there had been a lot of flooding in that area and the ferry was closed. Bummer. So we drove up on Sunday night and got an early start on Monday. Our first start was actually Carthage. We decided to do it first instead of going to Nauvoo, then to Carthage, and then back to Nauvoo for more. We got through the visitor's center and halfway through the actual jail and Amy was done. She was tired of being held and wanted to run outside and play. So Mike and I took her out with the tour guide's promise that when she finished with the rest of the family she would show us what we missed. It was well worth the wait. There is an amazing spirit in that room. The recording they play was beautiful and so strong. I have to say that this was the most spiritual place outside of the temple that we visited on this trip.

After Carthage, we headed over to Nauvoo. We started with the visitor's center and watched a video about Nauvoo, then started on the smaller shops, like the blacksmith's shop. We went to the RLDS sites, which included the mansion home and Joseph and Emma's homestead (does anyone else think it's lame that in the midst of all these free little stores and tours run by the LDS church that the RLDS church charges for tours?). It was very interesting to see the tight quarter that people lived in back then. Can you imagine if our houses were that small? I think mine is too small as it is, and we have 3 separate bedrooms and 2 baths! Halfway through the mansion house, Amy crashed. Grandpa had the magic touch and she was out! This was the pattern the next day too! Grandpa's good like that. After that we visited the bakery and the pioneer exhibits (bread baking, rope making, barrel rolling, and candle making).

That filled up most of our day. We had a little time before the evening shows started, so we did the trail of hope, which is the beginning of the trek from Nauvoo to the river. They have some amazing quotes all along the way from the pioneers. It was very touching. That night we watched the Rendevoux in Nauvoo play. It was done by all the senior missionaries that run Nauvoo. It was quite entertaining and fun. We had "rendevoux in old nauvoo" stuck in our head all night. Those missionaries are good sports!

The next morning I got to do a session in the temple with my in-laws. What an amazing experience, despite the fact that it was incredibly early. The temple was beautiful and we enjoyed walking around the foyer afterwards to see some of the artifacts and such that they had displayed. The kids spent the entire morning while we were at the temple playing at the Pioneer Games place. They learned all sorts of little games that Mike now wants! They even had little costumes out for them to try on. Isn't Amy adorable? They had so much fun that we had a hard time pulling some of them away. We went to the gunsmith's shop and then a lot of the early leader's homes. It was an amazing day. We drove back to Kansas in a major rainstorm, which was cool. Thanks to the Laudie's for an amazing time!

We spent the next morning at Grandma Laudie's, visiting with her and the family (they slept there that night) and then said our goodbyes. Amy was sad to see them all go because she finally learned all of their names! Woo hoo!

Family Reunion

The family reunion consisted of the family caravaning to a lot of church history sites. The uncles had prepared some information to share with us. It was really nice because some of the sites are really just monuments or open fields, so it was nice to get some stories to go with them.
We started at Adam-Ondi-Ahman. We all sat at the overlook and talked about the history and the future of this spot. Mike's grandpa had chauffeured President McKay when he had come to visit Adam-Ondi-Ahman, so the family had some neat stories and insights that Grandpa had shared with them.

We ate lunch there (it's so green and pretty there!), and then we headed over to Far West. There's a pretty monument there where the temple lot was, so Uncle Drew shared some stories about the growth and fall of Far West. It's amazing how thriving these cities used to be, and now there's absolutely nothing there! So sad. Amy's favorite part about this spot was the watermelon snack they had there! Yum yum!

We relaxed there for a while, then headed over to Liberty Jail. The whole family was able to go on the tour, where they showed the video that highlighted journal entries people had written about Joseph, some members and some not. Then we were able to go into the room with the rebuilt prison. It was a truly special spirit there, and Amy was evidence to that. She was quite wiggly at this point, so Mike was letting her crawl up and down some stairs just so she wouldn't be in anyone's ways. There was a point in the presenation that a light shone into the side of the prison window, signifying God's revelation to Joseph. Amy happened to be near the window right then, so she paused as the voice started speaking. She then sat down and folded her arms through the rest of the revelation. Those of you who know Amy know that her sitting down these days is quite a miraculous thing, but she definitely knew that it was a time to be quiet and reverent. What a lesson to us all!

We were supposed to go on to Independence at that point, but we were so far behind schedule (it's a Laudie thing) that we all went our separate ways for dinner and fireworks. I went with my sister's family and Mike's immediate family to a park over in Lenexa, KS. Mike and Amy and Jon and Carrie were supposed to meet us there, but it was such a huge park and the police kept redirecting traffic in different directions that we didn't find each other. Too bad. It was really nice though. This is a picture of our traditional Old Navy $5 Flag Tees that we buy every year!

The next day was a play day. Mike's cousin owns a gymnastics studio and opened it up to all of us, so basically we ran around and played all day long. Amy had a blast! They had a pit of foam that she liked jumping into, not to mention all the trampolines and the giant inflatable obstacle course that we threw her down. The boys were distracted by the basketball hoop with the trampoline that they thought turned them into the Harlem Globetrotters. It's was a lot of blast!

That was the end of the family reunion. We had a chance to go see Mike's grandma twice before coming home, which was really great. She had never seen Amy, although sometimes it's hard to keep track of her grandkids, let alone great-grandkids because she has so many! She makes a mean spaghetti and meatballs though! Thanks grandma for letting us visit!

Before the Reunion

We just got back from Kansas/Missouri. We spent two weeks there with family, both mine and Mike's. Mike is originally from the Kansas City area (Olathe and Blue Springs, to be exact), so he has a lot of family out there still, including his grandma and several aunts and uncles and cousins. The excuse for this trip was that the Laudie family reunion was going to be in KC this year. Half the family lives in Utah, so it's typically been out there because the sibling in charge of that year lived there. But this year Grandma is having a harder time getting around and Uncle Bob was in charge (he lives in Independence), so we all made the trek backwards to KC. Actually, we flew. Poor pioneers.
We got there a couple days early to spend some time with Mike's immediate family who came out from Utah. They wanted to have some time to go see their old homes and places they remembered and a couple church history sites what we wouldn't be seeing with the whole reunion group. We went to Blue Springs to see the old house there, and also to the Olathe area to see the old house and old neighbors there. Mike and his family had a lot of time remembering old stories and pointing out where there friends used to live and where they used to ride their bikes to around town.
We also went to a couple church history sites in Independence. We started with the Temple site and listened to an abbreviated story by the church that owns the land. It's amazing how similar and yet how vastly different our church histories are, as well as the difference in doctrines. It makes me a little sad because I think of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon and how they were in darkness for so long because of the traditions of their fathers. I think many times this is the same situation.

We then made it over to the RLDS, or Church of Christ as they are now called, auditorium. They had a small museum there that had many original artifacts from Emma Smith and other early church leaders. After that we went to the RLDS temple, which was closed, but a really nice man said he was someone who could take us in after hours. It was very interesting as we asked what was actually done in their temple. It's mostly an auditorium because there are no ordinances done there. There was some beautiful etching done in their building though.
That concluded our first day of vacation. Wow. Amy was exhausted after all of that, especially because she only got a nap while we were driving from one place to another and not for very long. That was pretty much the story of her life for the first week of our vacation. But Amy absolutely loves spending time with Mike's siblings... mostly because they are only a few years older than her! Mike's youngest sibling, Jane Anne, is only 6, so Amy was glad to have playmates.