Our family made our yearly pilgrimage to Grand Junction, Colorado at the end of June this year. We stayed for about 2 weeks. During that time, we visited with friends and saw Church historical sites along the way, attended the Farnsworth Family reunion, and spent a little time visiting more Church historical sites on our way home.
One of the first places we stopped after staying with friends in Iowa was the Mormon Trail Visitor Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Omaha). This is one of the first long stops the Mormon Pioneers made on their journey westward after they were forced out of their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois. It's a beautiful place and one of our family's favorite places to stop on our way to Colorado.
When we arrived in Grand Junction, my father was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in June and then had surgery at the end of the month to remove the cancer. We went straight to the hospital to see him. A couple days later Kris, Ellary, Keegan and I visited Oma's grave site. You can also see Kris' brothers' gravesite (Adrian) and his sister (Angelika) and his grandmother (Roweena) gravesites in the picture below as well. It was a beautiful day in the Grand Valley to share a few quite moments reflecting on memories of family that has passed away.
We had a total of something like 34 people at my parents' house for the Farnsworth Family Reunion. It had been nearly 27 years since our last get together and wow-the family has multiplied by leaps and bounds. The first night of the family reunion Mom was in charge of sharing a devotional, basically a family spiritual lesson. She gave the babies of the family books, the younger kids lights to help them remember to keep on shining, and the older kids and single adults bells to remember they should be bell ringers (the good kind that declare good news and demonstrate what it means to be good examples). The older adults received pictures of the Colorado National Monument to remember to stand firm in the faith and that Jesus Christ is our rock. Mom shared a great lesson!
The second devotional was held on the second night before most of the family left to go home. Dad directed it and a testimony meeting was held. Great night too!
Kris helped keep us all on track as to what things were happening each day. Here he is going over the list so we could all know what to expect.
One evening the kids caught toads, 13 in about a ten minute time span. Pretty impressive. They raced them on the 4th of July.
On another night people got out their musical instruments and played and sang songs. Alyson brought along her violin. Several others brought their guitars and strummed away to songs while everyone sang along.
Here is my oldest sister Janene with my dad. She was cooking dinner and being a little crazy. I've got to download the video I have of her dancing. So fun!
We spent the 4th of July mostly playing outside. Here are the kids with face paint. Some of the adults even let the kids paint their faces. Wow-they were trusting!
Kourtney painted Kris' face to look like a panda bear and Kris painted Koco's face like a panda too. Wish I could find the picture of Koco.
Then we had a Bar-B-Que. Janene grilled away.
Here's my sister, Renee, her oldest son, Eli, and her friend Bob.
Tara is the one making the funny face in the picture. She's married to my oldest nephew, Phillip. My niece, Ariell, and her husband, David, and their daughter, Evie, are also in the picture.
Here Jordann and Alyson are asking the little kids how they want their faces painted.
Early mornings were spent either running or hiking. Two or three mornings were spent up on the Colorado National Monument. Lucky for the men many of their wives stayed back otherwise they may have been given a hard time for climbing too high or standing too close to the edge of cliffs. Everyone returned home safe and sound each day.
The last afternoon my friend Angela took family photos of our group. That's why I chose the first photo for our post. It's the most up to date family photo we have. Then that evening we held a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents. Everyone helped decorate the church gym and prepare skits and talents for the evening. Besides family, friends were invited and a fun evening was shared by all. Kris and I stayed busy being the MC and video recorder that we didn't get any pictures of the spectacular evening. We are hoping that some other family members took some photos that they can share.
Our family stayed a few days in Grand Junction after everyone left. We enjoyed the one on one time with Mom and Dad.
On the long drive home we made an impromptu stop in Nauvoo, Illinois. The kids are at good ages for enjoying the Pioneer activities and learning more about the history of the community. We camped two nights and explored one full day. Most of the pictures shown here were taken while we were on a wagon ride tour. The kids loved it!
Even though it was incredibly hot, I had to wear long sleeves. I came down with a crazy allergic reaction while in Grand Junction that manifested itself in the form of bumps and hives on my arms, neck and legs. It was one of the most awful forms of sickness I have ever experienced, and we still aren't sure what caused it to happen. Sunlight made the hives and itching worse, hence, long sleeves and a hat. Still, the trip was fun, and I'm glad our little family had some time to ourselves before returning to our home in Michigan.
This is the beautiful Christus in the Nauvoo Visitor's Center.
The kids had a fun time playing Pioneer games, dressing up as Pioneers and pretending to do primitive chores. Kris and Alyson spent most of their time competing against each other in games. They are like two peas in a pod!
We stopped at the Scovil Bakery and the Brickyard. We also learned about making wagon wheels, candles and rope, and we went to the final resting spot of Joseph Smith, Jn., his brother Hyrum Smith, and Joseph's wife Emma.
Later that afternoon we took a half hour drive to Carthage, Illinois and toured the jail that Joseph and Hyrum were martyred in. Many testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith are strengthened when you reach the upper floor and listen to a recording recount the events leading up to his death. It's a very sacred place.
Then that evening we saw the Nauvoo Pageant. It's such a fun non-for profit production. Actors from all over the world come to try out for parts in the play, and at the end of the play, the lights at the temple, which you can see in the very back of this picture, are turned on. The temple was constructed to look like the original that was rampaged and burned by mobs then later destroyed by a tornado. It is a beautiful site to behold especially when it is lit at the end of the play.
The next morning we packed up the suburban and drove the rest of the way home, ready and happy to be back home!