FAMILY VISITS TO CHURCH PAGEANTS AND HISTORIC SITES
Jay and I were always looking for wholesome activities for our children. One of the things that we enjoyed during with our family was attending the Church Pageants and visiting the Church Historic sites.
Our first summer while in Dental School in Chicago we took advantage of a short vacation to travel to Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Restoration was just beginning and we heard about the Heber C, Kimball home being restored to how it originally looked by the grandson of Heber C. Kimball. We also saw the Flake home belonging to my great great grandfather James M. Flake who was the first from the Flake line to join the church. The home was just across the street from the temple and needed lots of repair. The home was torn down shortly after we were there.
We left dental school in 1963 with three little girls and spent the next year in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania which was close to the Susquehanna River not too far from where John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and restored the Aaronic Priesthood and the authority to baptize. We returned to Lewisburg on our “M & M” trip in 1977 on Ray’s 8th birthday. He was baptized by his Dad in the Susquehanna River. Another memory of that same “M & M Trip in 1977 is that when we visited the Aaronic Priesthood monument we went down to the Susquehanna River. Rauna lost her shoe in the stream of water and went running after it. We were afraid she was going to fall in the river too.
On our way to Pennsylvania in August 1963 we stopped in Palmyra to attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant and then got to see it again on our way back to Arizona after our year in Pennsylvania. We attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant with our children in 1977. We visited Nena and Arnold in Missouri and left Margie, Melvin and Dean with her. We met them at the end of our trip at the Nauvoo City of Joseph Pageant as it was then called. We purchased the soundtrack from the City of Joseph Pageant and played it over and over with our family. We had all of the songs memorized.
We visited Council Bluffs and Winter Quarter’s when we went out on June 25, 1982 to an engagement party for Miriam and Tony. The Becks took us over to the Cemetery and Visitor Center. This was a good opportunity to show our children the faith and dedication of the grandparents who sacrificed so much for the church.
We went from there on June 30, 1982 to the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. We enjoyed the flag raising ceremony. We enjoyed the Exhibits from the various countries, especially the Japan Exhibit. It was a wonderful family activity and an opportunity for us to teach our children about the various countries in the wonderful world in which we live. Jay and I attended the World’s Fair in 1964 in New York City. This was where “Man’s Search for Happiness” was first shown and was the theme of the pavilion focusing on the plan of salvation.
Easter 1983 Vernon auditioned for the Easter Pageant held on the grounds in front of the Arizona Temple. He was selected to be one of the angels. He had a wonderful experience. The following year Margie and I auditioned to be in the pageant with him. We were selected for a special tableau at the end of the pageant that showed Margie kneeling at my knee as I helped her with her prayers. I made a special lilac and white stripped dress for her to wear at the Pageant. I can still remember the thrill of being with my cute daughter highlighted in the Pageant. The following year we auditioned as a family and all of the children that were still at home were in the pageant. Vernon was serving his mission, Ray and Kenneth were angels, Jay was selected to be the apostle James and we were all part of the apostle’s family. Margie, Melvin, Dean and Amy all have pleasant memories of the Easter Pageant. Amy loved the donkey and Dean wanted to be a Roman Soldier. For the next several years we all participated in the Easter Pageant. A special memory is the time that the wind was blowing so hard that we had to have the missionaries in their dark suits hold down the curtain. Another year we prayed that the weather would allow us to continue with the pageant. The wind calmed down on the Pageant stage and we had a wonderful performance. Across the street at Pioneer Park we could see the flag waving back and forth in a very strong wind. Another year Marlene’s BYU friends came to Arizona to see the Pageant. The one night that they were here is the only time that I can remember that the Pageant was cancelled. They were so disappointed. Participation in the Easter Pageant was a wonderful way to teach our children the Easter message. As we listened to the scriptures telling about the life, atonement and resurrection of our Savior night after night our lives were forever changed.
Jay and I felt it was important to help our children have as many church pageant experiences as possible. We made an effort to take them all up to the Manti Pageant on a quick trip. We delivered the newspapers before leaving for the pageant and were back in town the next morning in time to deliver the newspapers. Melvin and Tami had tickets for the Martin Harris Pageant just before they were married. We went with them to the Manti Temple where Tami took out her endowment. They decided to not go on up to the Pageant so gave Jay and I the tickets so that we could have the experience of another Church Pageant. We attended the “Come Home to Kanesville’ put on in Miriam and Tony’s area several years. The last year (2014) that they put on the pageant our grandson Kyle Ellingson was invited to stay with his Uncle Tony and Aunt Miriam and be in the Pageant.
Almost all of our children with their families visited us while we were serving our mission in Nauvoo and Carthage from 2005 to 2007. Jay and I enjoyed bearing our testimony to our children and grandchildren in the Martyrdom room at the Carthage Jail. We enjoyed taking our family to the various historic sites in Nauvoo and giving them the script about each site. I especially enjoyed taking them on wagon rides where I was the narrator.
The summer of 2014 Robert and Joann and family auditioned for the Hill Cumorah Pageant and invited me to audition with them. What a wonderful experience we had camping in an RV in Zion’s Camp close to the Hill Cumorah where we could walk over to the area where the Pageant was performed. Derek returned from his mission just in time to be in it and was chosen to be Nephi that built the ship and came to the Promised Land. I told him he got the lead part because he still has that missionary glow. I enjoyed being in the opening number of the Pageant where everyone came on stage. I loved the scene when Christ comes to visit his other sheep in America. I love watching him heal the blind man, calling his twelve disciples, blessing the children one by one and asking to see the records. I love the quote at the end of the pageant when Moroni says, “The world will know that in this land thee was a nation that saw the face of Christ.” I was also cast as a harvest worker where I planted seeds after Nephi and his brothers and families arrived in the Promised Land. Another scene I was in a tableau when two hundred years of peace and happiness were enjoyed after Christ’s visit .
I was privileged to again be in the Easter Pageant this year (2015) with Mark and Marlene and their family. Participation again in the Easter Pageant brought back lots of memories of participating in the Pageant with our family thirty years ago. I enjoyed being a follower of Christ and listening to the scriptures telling about the life and mission of Christ over and over. Mark was cast as one of the apostles and Quinn was an angel.
I am grateful for the Church Pageants and historic sites that we were able to visit. Jay and I and our children’s testimonies were strengthened by these wonderful experiences as well as our love for the scriptures and Church History.