Thursday morning of our trip to Nauvoo we took the little kids for the oxen ride with Grammi while the teenagers and my 22 year old son went to the Nauvoo temple to do baptisms.
Here’s my youngest pulling a silly face. I once again enjoyed all the stories that our tour guide told while on the ride.
We also learned about how awesome oxen are by reading the plaques along the trail next to the oxen ride. I think God designed oxen especially for the Saints to use them to travel west. We learned that oxen are much better than horses for pulling loads. Some of the reasons why are that their feet don’t get stuck in the mud as much and they are not as skittish as horses and more gentle. This made me think of the first Hebrew alphabet letter “aleph.” The ancient pictograph is an ox head, and it symbolizes God’s strength, and the power of God’s strength that we can have in us as we develop virtues.
Here’s a sample of the Nauvoo Temple sunstones, close to the quarry where the Saints got the rock for the temple. My maternal ancestor Luman Andros Shurtliff tells in his autobiography here how he helped build the temple. He writes:
I had helped lay the foundation of our temple in Nauvoo and now wished to do something more towards the building of it. Accordingly I went to the temple committee and hired them to work on a boat to boat rock, timber and wood. I here got provisions to keep my family alive and that was all I expected. The committee did the best they could but they had nothing better in their hands to give us. We labored ten hours a day, and got something to take to our families for supper and breakfast. Many times we got nothing; at other times we got a half pound of butter or three pounds of fish, beef, and nothing to cook it with. Sometimes we got a peck of cornmeal or a few records of flour and before any more provisions would come into the office, the hands that worked steadily would sometimes be entirely out of provisions and have to live on herbs, boiled, without any seasoning except salt, or on parched corn or anything we could get to sustain us. I had some milk from my cows and by putting it half water and, if we could get corn or meal, we could live well for these times. For breakfast we would eat a little of this mush and then take a pint of milk in a bottle and some mush in a cup for dinner, go to the boat at six and at noon eat dinner and thank God that I and my family were thus blessed. And often I worked until dark before I could get home. Then if our cows did not come home, we had to take our mush alone and thank God that we were thus blessed.
The reader may think the above-mentioned scarcity of provisions was confined to my family. Not so; my family was as well off as the majority of my neighbors. I have seen those that cut stone by the year eat nothing but parched or browned corn for breakfast and take some in their pockets for their dinner and go to work singing the songs of Zion. I mention this not to find fault or to complain, but to let my children know how the temple of Nauvoo was built, and how their parents as well as hundreds of others suffered to lay a foundation on which they could build and be accepted of God.
These statues of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith are across the street, facing the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple. You can faintly see the Mississippi River in the background. Beautiful!