Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Visit to Nauvoo

Experiences of studying in Nauvoo remembered
Published: Saturday, April 29, 2006

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From time to time the Church News receives submissions that are suitable for publication in the writers' own words. The following was excerpted from an article received from a BYU student who experienced the recently closed Semester in Nauvoo program.

Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret Morning News
Morning sunlight illuminates the young corn stalks on the property of the Jonathan Browning home and gun shop. The dawn of each morning is a treat in Nauvoo. Sunsets across the Mississippi River are equally as beautiful.

There are few sunrises that can compare to those in Nauvoo, Ill. I know, because I was there last fall for the BYU Semester in Nauvoo program.

It's hard to believe that it has been several months since I left that great city, and with it, the best group of people I could have ever met. Though small in size, that city gave me experiences and knowledge that have exceeded all bounds along with friendships that will last for eternity.

The activities we did in Nauvoo taught me things about myself that I never knew. It also gave me the chance for experiences I would never have had in my lifetime. I never, in my wildest dreams, pictured myself building and rowing a flatboat across the mile-wide Mississippi. I never thought that I could walk 23 miles to Carthage Jail, but I did. I could never picture myself singing in the Kirtland (Ohio) Temple or acting out the starting of the Relief Society in the replica of the Red Brick Store where it began.

But it wouldn't have meant as much if it weren't for the people with whom I shared these experiences.

Before Joseph Smith made the ride to Carthage Jail where he was martyred, he said, "This is the most beautiful place and the best people under the heavens." Looking back on it now, I feel the same way.

During the short three months, we witnessed many great things that have strengthened testimonies and friendships. Our visit to the Kirtland Temple is one such event. We had the opportunity to have a program there, and the Spirit that I felt still gives me shivers when I think about it. We were blessed to be in the place where Christ had appeared to Joseph Smith, and we knew it.

It seems, though, that the experiences that struck us the most were probably the least obvious. The little experiences in Nauvoo helped make it special, such as every Sunday meeting in front of the Joseph and Hyrum Smith statue across the street from the Nauvoo Temple, where we would sing hymns.

It was the spirits of all those who had lived in that city when it was at its prime that made it special. It's the place where sealings were first performed, where the saints had to sacrifice in order to live and continue on in the Church. It was "Nauvoo the Beautiful."

If you ever have the chance to visit that amazing city, be sure to take every opportunity you can. Wake up early to see the sunrise over the blessed Nauvoo Temple. Take the wagon tour around the city. Stop by the Scovil Bakery and try the cookies. Take the time to read your scriptures in one of the groves where Joseph preached. Visit the graves of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum Smith and think about their lives and the impact they have had on yours.

Visit Carthage jail and watch the movie in the visitors center. Look out the window where Joseph fell and say a prayer of thanks for that man. Once you have done all there is to do, walk the Trail of Hope, the road the saints trudged when they left Nauvoo and their beloved temple. Walk slowly and read the quotes posted along the way from the people who made this trek. Then stand on the banks of the grand Mississippi and watch the sky turn into brilliant shades of color as the sun sets.

Nauvoo is a blessing for anyone who goes there and feels the spirit of the lives that lived there. For me, it was the best three months of my life, and for the rest of it I will always remember Nauvoo.