Friday, July 31, 2009

Nauvoo - a very special experience.

We left for Nauvoo on July 11th in the early am. It was a long drive, but seemed to go by quickly and we arrived on the 12th. We settled into our little cabin at the Nauvoo Log Cabins to begin what was one of the most spiritual and fun experiences I've had in a long while.

The first week was fun, but a bit frustrating. My pipes (I'll blame them) didn't settle in very well. The humidity especially affected the bass drone which double toned almost constantly. We had seven pipers and four drummers (two tenors, a bass and a snare). Most of the pipers were quite good and individually we sounded good, but as an ensemble we had a tough time getting it right. It is a difficult thing when working with different chanters, reeds, pipes etc. Nevertheless, we got along and seemed to work well together.

Our daily schedule involved a parade down Mulholland Street (the main street in Nauvoo); playing before vignettes two to three times per day; the Pageant pre-show (we played Loudans for the Highland fling); the Pageant flag ceremony; a small part in the Pageant itself (fake playing for the dance scene); and finally the pipers would play to signal the cast to strike the stage. We would usually show up to these performances about 20-30 minutes before hand to tune up and then perform. We also had a practice in the morning to work with the weaker pipers on tunes and get our pipes in order. After a great deal of messing around with my drones I was finally able to get my bass to strike in properly. The cooler than normal weather also helped.

While I enjoyed the first week, I felt that there was something missing from the experience. I pondered and prayed to find the missing element that would complete the work I felt we were there to do. I felt we were really there to do more than just provide entertainment, we were ambassadors for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I wasn't sure exactly how to bring this into our playing.

One afternoon, Mindy, Teagan and I went to the Nauvoo Brick Yard. There was an older missionary there doing the presentation on how bricks were made. His name was Elder Toone and he was almost blind. I was interested in how they made bricks, but didn't expect much from the presentation. I was in for a treat. Elder Toone did a great job explaining the composition of the bricks and the process that was used to make them, but he turned the whole presentation into a spiritual experience when he explained the faith of the early saints and then bore his testimony. I would have never thought that a presentation on brick making would have been a spiritual experience for me. As I thought about this presentation the spirit touched me and I felt that this was the element we were missing in our performances.

When Chuck Acklin (the other adult piper) left at the end of the first week I was left responsible for the group. We lost five of our seven pipers and two of our drummers, but we gained two more pipers. We had a nice tight group with four pipers and two drummers.

At the orientation on Monday I asked the group to meet in one of the rooms at the High School for a brief devotional. I told the others in the devotional that I felt strongly that we should take the opportunity to testify during our performances. We usually took a few minutes during our vignette performances to take questions, but I felt we needed to do more to invite the spirit. Everyone was in favor of this and the next week we began taking turns bearing our testimonies during our vignette performances. The change was remarkable.

I felt the spirit more strongly and finally felt that we were doing what we were supposed to do and what we had been called to do.

We moved into the White House Inn for our second week in Nauvoo. It was a great place to stay. Sort of like a boarding house with shared kitchen and a hot tube which was nice after a day of performing around town.

In the end, this experience strengthened my testimony of the restoration. I felt the Spirit of our Heavenly Father prompting me and responding to my prayers. I felt the power of the atonement of Christ and gained a deeper appreciation for His great sacrifice. Just like my piping, I realize that I am not perfect, but I also realize that in spite of my shortcomings, God is mindful of me and loves me, and I keep trying to improve. I love Him.

I am grateful for this experience. I am especially grateful that I could share it with my wife and youngest son.


Darwin said...


Wonderful! You have a beautiful family and you can tell how much you all love the Lord.

My wife is going to have us all apply for the two weeks in the pageant next year. Guess we'll have to see what happens.

So glad that we got to meet and talk in Carthage!

Kind Regards,

Dar Davis

txmommy said...

we were there when you were and heard you play several times and really enjoyed it. It was a highlight of our visit.

Rose said...

Thanks for the stories.

I love the hair.