Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010 - Hill Cumorah

Brunch: Pepperoni Pizza!, eggs, pancakes, ham, potatoes, salad and ice cream.

Dinner: Lasagna, break, veggies, grapes, giant chocolate chip cookie.

Church history tour for Meleah, Janette and I. Includes Sacred Grove, Smith Farm and E.B. Grandins printing. It is amazing that a printer that had the equipment was available in the town of Palmyra in 1829 when Joseph SMith needed it. E.B. Granding took a big chance when he agreed to print the Book of Mormon. These were miracles.

We were in the replica of the Smith log home where Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith. THe Grove is such a beautiful place to walk through and consider what occurred there in 1820. Some trees are old enough to have seen it.

I am tired. 1:00am. Need to get some rest. I have pictures but am not going to post right now.

The Hunters arroved for the performance this evening. It was great to see them. We will be connecting up with them over the coming days.

Bye bye

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - Hill Cumorah

I'm tired. Good show. 5 hours sitting in a field as parking security and Janette did 3 hours security on a trail up Cumorah.

Above is a picture of the cast team tents, where we meet with our teams for various activities. The big picture is looking at the bowl surrounded by flags. The picture was taken across the street in the parking area (a field).

A quilt by Sister Gilgen in our cast team, amazing stuff.

Have a good Thursday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thursday, July 13, 2010 - Hill Cumorah

Early days are difficult. We needed to be at breakfast by 6:30am and on the bus by 7:30am. Breakfast was the same old stuff, no ice cream. We eat with other cast members and enjoying getting to know each other.

At the Hill we had a devotional and then off to a full run-through. THe weather and timing was perfect. The pageant only lasts 70minutes. We did a good job by my judgement.

After that we separated into cast teams for activities. Meleah went swimming with her team. Spencer's team went to church historic sites and was dumped on by rains and thunderstorms. Meanwhile, Janette and I attended a presentation by a very successful quilter on our team. She is an excellent artist and does quilts that look like paintings. After that we hopped on the bus to go to Chill and Grill in Palmyra, my first time in Palmyra. We had a side of onion rings and a SMALL ice cream each. Janette had her favorite vanilla soft serve. I had hard ice cream, scoop of peppermint patty and another of cookie dough. Great stuff, big helpings!

After eating we walked to Grandin's Printing Press, where the Book of Mormon was printed. We did not go in since we will do that with our cast team on Thursday. We did go into a church bookstore and found a book, postcards and a presidents picture set (for seminary). THe protesters were outside looking for opportunities to hand us literature and tell us why we were wrong.

As we were in the bookstore the cloudbursts started and continued for the next hour. We could not get back to the bus pickup point so we called and arranged a meeting spot. That did not work the greatest. The bus stopped early to pick up people since they did not make it to the meeting point. We ran back in the cloudburst and jumped on the bus. As we drove the rain came down harder and harder. The bus drive needed to leave one of the front windows open to avoid fogging up the front window. We were all getting wet with the rain spraying back over us so we moved to the back half of the bus. One sister put up her umbrella inside the bus to stop the shower saying "I hope nobody is superstitious".

We were dropped off at the visitor's center and made a mad dash for the door. Once in we went into the basement for a presentation from a member of our group about new family search. It was cool. THe man presenting is a software engineer at the church that makes work.

Next, off to dinner. Beef bites in gravy on noodles, and it was warm! Meleah ate the plain noodles! Spencer ate his, half of mine and some of Meleah's. It was good.

Thunder was with us all afternoon and through dinner. Closer to showtime (9:15pm) we had a pretty bright red sunset and the rain stayed away. The show went as planned with a smaller crowd, I believe ~2000. We are at the dorm at midnight. Tomorrow is more relaxing, we hope.

End of entry

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010 - Hill Cumorah

I don't know what happened to the pictures of Spencer and Meleah. The one to right is the only one I have of Spencer and Meleah.

We had a break today but the same breakfast fare. The soft ice cream is still a favorite at the end of brunch. I tried Eggs Benedict, not sure I would get it again.

We had the day to ourselves until 4pm. We decided to walk to Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger lakes in this region. Fortunately, the Hobart dorm director, saw us walking and gave us a ride and quick tour. We were dropped off at a Bicycle and Boat rental place in a park. THe bicycles were already rented so we went for the boats.

After returning from the boat we went to Wegmans, a very nice Albertsons -like store. We bought one cinnamon and sugar bagel, wow!, they know how to make bagels. Chewy and tasty. We also found the bulk candy area and loaded up on treats.
After Wegmans we walked back to the dorm, not too far away. 4pm came too fast. We woke up from our naps and headed to the buses.
Dinner was choco cream pie, salad, meatball sandwich and potatoes. Pretty good.
Family Home Evening talent show was next. These people are really talented. It was funny, amazing and great. So many we were an hour late leaving the Hill to come back to the dorms. It is 11:15pm and we need to get to breakfast by 6:30pm. I am done with the blog for now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday July 11, 2010 - Hill Cumorah

We slept in a little, went to brunch at 10am. They had soft ice cream. If you know Janette, you know she had soft ice cream. It was a pretty good start to the day. Then off to the Hill for meetings. Unfortunately the buses seem to hae new drivers every day, we watch them drive past the dorms so the people driving the van drove after them honking. Finally they returned and we got to the Hill in time for the meetings.

THe Palmyra temple president talked to us and shared a bunch of great stories from his missions in Africa and a story about some bikers in Utah. THe Utah biker story talked about a couple biking around America and arriving in Moab. They decided to go back to the east by going north. The ended up in a dust storm and finally landed in Salt Lake City with their bikes. They talked to the sister missionaries and immediately recognized truth. Now the biker couple are....can you guess?.......ordinance workers in the Palmyra temple. Neat story.

After the meeting was personal/family time until dinner. We visited with the Manasco family who drove us to the sacred grove. We walked around and enjoyed the quiet, peaceful feeling there. I can see why Joseph picked such an area, the forests are very nice for finding the solitude he sought. The undergrowth is not as heavy as Oregon. Spencer and I helped a brother on an electric wheelchair make it through. THe battery was dying so we pushed and helped him along the way back to the visitor facilities.

Thanksgiving dinner was next. It was good.

Fireside after dinner and back to the buses. I may not have mentioned but each time we return to the dorms we have some snacks before we go to our rooms. Tonight was PIZZA! (and leftover Thanksgiving)

We are in the dorm early, 11pm. We get to sleep in. THis was a hot day but not bad humidity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cumorah Pageant - Night 2

Our buses missed a turn tonight on the way back to the dorm. We came through Canandaigua, a beautiful city with many victorian homes and buildings. We are in the dorm at 1am, YUK!

Today was good. We started at 7am with a trip to the laundry mat. Janette and I washed and dried the clothes only to find Meleah did not put all her clothes out in a pile. We will need to do some more soon. We walked into Wegmans, an Albertons-like store, which have a place you can order great food from chefs. Ambiance is not the best but the food is suppose to be great.

Breakfast was a brunch, composed of all the regular fare for breakfast plus chicken patties, green salad and soft ice cream.

This was the first day to sleep in since we got here. We caught the buses at 12pm and went to the Hill. We started with a devotional and had NO practices. We are in full show mode. The afternoon was passed hanging around. Janette and I listened to a brother talk about Mendon. Mendon, spelling is questionable, is a small location here where a lot of the early leaders of the church seemed to show up. Interesting research.

Dinner: Ham, scalloped potatoes, applesauce, vanilla pudding, rolls

It was great weather; mild, not hot. The anit-mormon protesters we out in force. They park on the public road that passes Cumorah so there is not much that can be done to stop them. It was especially a problem because the parking lot was moved across the street due the mud caused by the rain yesterday. People must get out of their cars and walk across the street with the protesters yelling various things at them warning them to stay away from the Mormons, Joseph Smith was not a prophet and other untruths. Once the people get across the street they enter the bowl where things calm down and a gentle spirit takes over. We had over 6000 people attend tonight by my estimation.

The problem tonight was that our opening procession of all the cast up on stage was blocked by a low curtain that was not behaving. We had to step on it to get it low enough for most of us to get over. We did not get to our stage positions in time so we just stopped where we needed to. A small problem.

Meleah, Janette and I were out talking to a non-member family at the end. The father is from Ambato, Ecuador, the mother from Romania and their daughter. A sweet family that is interested in the gospel. They apparently live next to the missionaries and are being taught. I hope to teaching leads to something. We bore testimony of the book of Mormon and talked for 20 minutes, it was great. My Spanish works but it is not smooth.

Meanwhile at the closing devotional, Spencer was treated to a talk by Donny Osmond, who was visiting. THe kids stormed him afterwards to get pictures. It was crazy. You know, I never knew Donny was so much shorter than me....

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rainy Day - Study Shelter, Frisbee in the bowl, and wet

July 9, 2010 - Opening Night

RAIN! RAIN! RAIN! ...but the show must go on. We started very tired today. Last night was a 1am bedtime and the wake time did not change. We ate breakfast, the normal fare, caught the bus and went to morning devotional. It was good, a few rehearsal schedules throughout the morning and then a full run-through in the afternoon. Morning was not as hot but it was still sweating conditions. We ate lunch, had a devotional by Elder Snow, a member of the Seventy, and then went to a full rehearsal, all hands.

The rehearsal started and the rain began. A quarter of the way through they stopped the rehearsal due to thunder and lightning. All the technical crew came down from the towers and we went to the study shelter to let the storm pass. 15 minutes...30minutes...announcement that we will resume the rehearsal from where we left off. We all walked to the stage in time for a new cloud burst. Again we went back to the study shelter and waited for word. THe word came that rehearsal was cancelled and we should go to our cast team tents.

The rain kept coming. THe cast team tents are just a canopy. The water kept coming down. Our cast team leader led a discussion about Ministering Angels, using Elder Holland's conference talk and then we had a prayer, I was asked to include a request for the Lord to temper the weather. Half-way through the prayer the rain picked up and got so loud no one could hear me. The water was all over. It was an amazing set of cloud -bursts.

When the rehearsal was cancelled the first time Spencer joined the rest of the youth playing Ultimate frisbee with most of the youth out on the grass. The rain kept coming, they kept playing. He soaked his clothes. I gave him a dry shirt and it ended up wet as well. He was having fun. It was only after Frisbee that he realized that his church clothes were not protected from the rain, yes, they were soaked. Fortunately, Janette and Spencer found the dryers on-site (for the costumes) and were able to do a quick dry.

We did not expect many to show for the pageant but they came. Numerous bus loads of people and car after car. I am certain there were multiple thousands. The rain was constant but people did it anyway. We were surprised.

The anit-Mormons were at the road that passes Cumorah. A truck was parked on the side of the road with "What Mormons don't tell you" painted on the side. Down a bit, near the entrance off the public road were the protesters. They were using a bullhorn an telling everyone how wrong the Mormons are and how Joesph Smith was a liar. Fortunately, they are so far from the actual pageant you can not hear them until you walk in the parking lot. We just expect it.

Before and after each show we are assigned to be greeters. Spencer greets them and walks them into the bowl to find a seat. Janette, Meleah and I greet people after the show. We have missionary tracts in hand. Our job is to help people that are non-members recognize the good spirit they have felt and invite them to come to Christ, and also invite members to submit referrals for special friends. We did not get any tonight but we enjoyed greeting and asking how people enjoyed the show.

Many stakes in the east apparently use the Pageant as a Youth Conference trip. Some stay at Hobart college. A lot of people.

We get to sleep in late this morning. We are having a brunch before we go to the Hill. All of us are spent. We know our parts and now just need to do them 6 more times.

THe rain cooled things down a bit, except for the dorm room. Better but not best.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday - 7/8 - Full rehearsal with audience

THe audience was about 2,000 in number. Tents are setup in the parking lot with local groups providing food booths etc. We, the cast, do not have an opportunity to visit.

Another long and hard day. We started getting up at 5:30am and are back at the dorm at 12:00am. Two showers a day is a must. The problem is that it takes forever to get dry, it never really happens, you just start sweating again.

Breakfast: Eggs, french toast, fruit, cottage cheese, good nectarines
Lunch: Salads, Ham&Turkey wrap, PBJ, macaroni salad and cookies
Dinner: Roast beef, baked potato, caesar salad, apple crisp

Not bad today.

Janette and Larry attended a lecture on Rwanda and Vietnam. Both interesting but I need to go to sleep.

I hear the heat wave has hit Oregon.

The pageant was beautiful. Note there are about 7 directors of which all except two will leave after opening night. We are suppose to know what we are doing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday - Full Run-through

They call it a very bad heat wave. The news stations are recommending people stay inside unless they absolutely have to go out. We were outside ALL day! We were rehearsing in the sun. I believe it only got to 90 degrees.

The chairs were setup yesterday, today we setup the last two rows and washed all the chairs in the 9am sun. Now it is done, I hope. Even when we are waiting to do the next rehearsal or activity we are outside. It was a good day, we had success.

The 3rd missionary training lesson was completed. We are now ready to receive the visitors, talk to them about the BofM and Jesus Christ, invite them to do something and get a comment card filled out.

Today's fare: French toast, scrambled eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese. Meleah and Spencer added a bow of cereal. Lunch was a bummer, Meleah and SPencer went to choir practice and when they finished the only food left was salad. Let's just say they were not happy. We were able to get a PBJ for them to eat. For Dinner, stir-fry, rice, cream puff, fruit dish. Meleah was not happy again. Spencer did not eat well so I asked his problem and he said he downed a few Pop-tarts available from his cast team leaders. We are surviving.

Tonight we ran through the whole performance (after a loaded day of practices) in full costume. THe costumes are great. Janette, Meleah and Larry walk in together for the opening processional. Janette walked up in her costume, all I saw was a lady looking at me strangely. Finally I recognized her (the heat is getting to me). She has a wig of brunette hair that is 18" long. She was not easy for me to recognize. Meleah has braided hair and Spencer and Larry have "man skirts"(we wear clothes underneath!).

The place we are staying is called Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York.

I asked some of our "local" cast team members about special regional food that we should try while we are here. Here is the list:
  • Grape pie
  • Salt potatoes (you buy a sack of new potatoes that includes a pound of salt for cooking)
  • Garbage plate (fries, hamburger patty, and other, not sure what)
The one place I am most interested in trying is Grill and Chill in Palmyra. I have not been to Palmyra yet, no church sites other than the Hill. We are saving these for after the pageant.

This is not a vacation, this is WORK; sweaty, hot and miserable work in a very sacred place. This is all really cool. No matter what, this is an experience we will remember. It is great doing something crazy like this. I have not figured out why people keep coming back year after year. However, the pageant is really neat and the spirit is strong. We are involved in something real special, that is for sure.

Good night. I need my 5 hours of sleep.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 6, 2010 - First Run Through of full Pageant

What a day! We started normal, early. Pancakes, fruit and cereal for breakfast. Meleah made it in time. Sunny, hot and humid.

We started with a short devotional and then went to the House (the bowl where the attendees sit). At 9am we setup 8000 chairs. Janette and I both agree that we have not sweat so much in memory. It was dripping and our clothes were soaked in no time at all. Worse, it was probably 90+ degrees out. We worked an hour and then Janette had a rehearsal in the bowl. It was just plain hot and nasty out.

At 11am we had our missionary training lesson. THe sisters are teaching us to Open our mouths and share testimony using the scriptures. THey do an excellent job of it all.

Lunch was a salad for Janette and I. Meleah and Spencer had peanut butter and jam after they returned from practicing with a youth choir in the basement of the visitor center. It is the coolest place around, almost unnatural cool. As soon as you left the basement it was like hitting a wall of humidity. It stayed with us all day.

At 4pm we practiced the opening procession. We all walk in through the audience in full costume. Unfortunately, we picked a line that goes up to stage 5, about 3-4 floors of stairs. We practiced it about 3 times, the sweat was pouring.

Dinner was a good break, still hot. They had a shell pasta with ricotta and red sauce. THe chocolate pudding was soup, but good.

THis evening, ending at 10:45pm, we did a complete run-through of the performance. It was great, of course, no one in the pageant got to see it. It seemed to go well and the director was pleased. We are now in the tuning phases of the performance.

We are on the Hill Cumorah! It is the place where Joseph Smith received the plates from Moroni, this is really cool. You can feel it, you know the Book of Mormon is divine. It really happens, the spirit testifies of the truth.

I am going to bed, it is 12:20pm. Early morning coming.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday -Wow!

Meleah is ill. She has a sore throat, headache, and congestion. We now have penicillin, robitussin, decongestant and a blessing. Please ask the Lord to bless her, she is miserable.

I believe the temperature was up to 95 degrees today. Fortunately, there was a breeze most of the day. We had a lot of rehearsals out on the stage so there are a lot of sunburns. It was tough getting up. I set the alarm for 5am to go running, woke up and said forget it! We slept until about 6am and got ready for breakfast. Meleah was a little slow but she made it for a french toast breakfast, but did not feel good enough to eat it all. We made it to the buses and off to the "Hill", as they call it. Breakfast, devotional, rehearsal, missionary training and more rehearsal, lunch, rehearsal, dinner and then a run through of most of the show. That was the WOW! of the day. These directors pulled together 700 people into various roles and staging to perform. All of us did something on one of the seven stages. It was great and very moving. The show has the following scenes:
  • Old world - Jerusalem - Lehi called to be a prophet
  • Nephi seeks to know what his father knows - visions of Christ
  • Lehi leaves Jerusalem with the brass plates travel in the wilderness
  • They wander for years, build the ship
  • Voyage to ancient america - Laman and Lemuel rebel at sea, tie Nephi up until Nephi is required to save them
  • Abinadi burned
  • Ministry of Alma
  • Samuel the Lamanite and the day-night-day of Jesus' birth
  • Resurrected Christ appears - visits - blesses the children
  • The Golden Message - Mormon and Moroni
  • Restoration of Christ's Kingdom - through Joseph Smith
I had some down time in the middle of the day so I went to the cast tent and laid on the ground and fell asleep for a time, it was great.

Lunch - salad or roast beef sandwich, macaroni salad, nectarine, yellow cake w/choco frosting
Dinner - Beef stew on a biscuit, peas, mayo-free cole slaw, peaches and whipped cream (I ate the peas)

With each meal you can choose two drinks out o fthe following choices:
Choco Milk

It works. The school buses are still uncomfortable, but they do the job.

Have a good day!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cumorah Sunday - Independence Day

Up at 6am, to the bus by 7:30, at Cumorah by 9:15. Sacrament at 9:30-11:00. Some meetings and then lunch at 12:00. Not much happening, we are still tired.

After lunch there were some Cast Meeting of different groups talking about the stories from the Book of Mormon that are depicted in the pageant. E.g. Abinadi and King Noah. THe question was asked about how we would individually feel given the role we have in the pageant. It was a very good discussion. Meleah found how important the destruction scene (77 secs) would be. It needs to prepare people for the coming of Christ. I believe the discussions in various teams were good.

We heard form an area authority seventy, Elder Cook. His wife spoke to our cast group and Janette took the opportunity to talk to her. Some really good talks. We had more meetings, devotionals, missionary training and a lot of education. We did have a BBQ just to make July 4th stand out a bit.

We got back to the dorms early (9:30pm) and had pizza and leftovers, and more meetings/thoughts.

It is hotter today and will be warming over the next few days.

BTW, we have three dorm rooms. Two are connected with a bathroom, kind of like a hotel room. The third is a single with a bathroom, Spencer is enjoying it, I believe. Meleah and Janette are in one room and I am snoring alone in mine.

We may get up earlier tomorrow and go running. After writing this blog, I am not certain I will do it.

Love you all. Take care of yourselves.

Second day - July 3

Up at 5:30, breakfast was good (6:30-7:15). It was a 5 minute walk to the cafeteria on campus. No students are here, just us Cumorah people. We had french toast and muffin with any drink you wanted. Kind of nice.

We had cast group meetings. Everything was tryng to emphasize the necessity of having the spirit with us. We played 2-truths and a lie to get to know each other. Everyone kept leaving for rehearsals. Rehearsals take priority. Janette was starting already because of her roles and Spencer was out in the field learning how to do choreographed fighting. He is enjoying it.

Devotionals every day. More practice, more meetings. Hot weather with a little breeze at times.

Meleah was showing the signs of sickness. In the PM we took her to one of the 7+ pageant doctors and she got a penicillin prescription. Janette took off with a sister to ge tthe prescription. They got back late enough where they just drove directly to the Hobart dorms. Meanwhile the buses did not show to take the rest of us at 10:15pm so we were sitting out on the parking lot in somewhat cool conditions. Spencer and Meleah fell asleep, sort of, on the blacktop. THe buses final showed at 12:15am (miserable). We road to the dorms and went directly to bed. The morning was coming quick.

First day

This is fast moving.

At the airport in Rochester, we found a corner of the building with a sign for Hill Cumorah Shuttle. It was a billboard type sign, kind of like what the scouts use to advertise Christmas tree collections or other fund raisers. There we met Woody who suggested we wait until everyone arrived, we waited about an hour. We started meeting other people on there way to Cumorah (sounds like a pilgrimage). A newly married couple. a couple of YSA men and women, an older couple (not us). From there we went to the bus, a school bus. THe seats were short with seat belts, weird.

We traveled for about an hour+. We met some people from Riverton, Utah and some one that came from the United Arab Emirates, where he worked in a school. It was fun to talk. The first family was the Van Der Berghs, an endodontist with a house from whihc you can see all Salt Lake Valley temples, cool.

We drove directly to the Hill and started learning. We should have picked up food at the airport for lunch because the first meal provided was dinner. We survived, sleeping on the grass for a while, Janette, Meleah and Spencer went to the visitor center while I slept (I was watching the bags). They sat through a movie, hiked up Cumorah and then found me looking for them. I had a good rest on the grass. Mild temperatures.

The audition was great. We walked out in the bowl, a large field, and surrounded the field in line behind signs which had our designated cast grouping. One or more of the directors would walk around and look for a specific "look" for the role they were seeking. People would be invited into the middle and asked to do a movement or action and then given a card with a UPC code. Once scanned, that role became associated with you.

Mom is in a dance thing
Meleah in the destruction scene
Spencer is a warrior and banner carrier
Larry is a Noah citizen

We got to the dorm about 11:30pm. Some Mac and Cheese leftovers and hotdogs for a snack.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Traveling to New York (JFK)

We arrived at PDX at 8:45pm with plenty of time to make out 1025pm flight. When we got to our gate, Spencer and Janette walked over to the other concourse to buy a book for Spence, "Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian". They got back in time to watch the 100+ people board before us. Meleah and Larry just ate old, dry bagels and drank some water. We boarded the plane, of course we forgot our earphone so we purchase the $2 phones from Jet Blue. Once on the plane, we found our seats and settled in for an all night trip. DirectTV at every seat and we still did not have anything to watch! The snack was just that, a bag of chips, nuts, cheezits,... and a drink. The sleep kicked in over Montana (the map channel). It was a miserable 4 hour nap. We arrived in New York where I am right now in the concourse laid back in a chair.

Girls's camp took a toll on Janette and Meleah. Janette kept falling asleep after reading a line from the scriptures. When she arrived she found a place to do her nails.

Spencer's peanut butter sandwich looked ugly after a night in his backpack, he ate it anyway.

Welcome to New York!