Progress Report- 15.999999 #nobooNauvoo

I swear, this will be the last Progress Report for a while. Mainly because I’ve run out of numbers to tack on to the end of 15.

After a mere 7-ish (that’s being generous) hours of sleep sharing a room with a woman who unknowingly liked the same guy as me and lightly snored through the night. Have I mentioned how I can’t seem to win at life? Seriously. Can’t. Win.

The plan for the day was to spend one more glorious meal at the buffet, go to a family ward’s sacrament meeting, and then go to Carthage Jail. Carthage is where Joseph Smith was martyred. To put it simply, we were going to a historical crime scene. I really should have written something with more reverence, but I couldn’t help myself. Hopefully God will forgive me because He only has himself to blame for why I am who I am. Well, that and my parentage- which on second fault is His fault too. I really need to get on a different tangent, I can sense a lightning bolt with my name on it being brandished.

It was a bitter sweet goodbye to the buffet, but I soon learned that all the food came from Hy-Vee, so that soothed me. When we got to the church, it was evident that they were not expecting two different tours visiting. There was a second tour of elderly people there too. There was also one younger guy on the tour, who frankly didn’t know the company he was going to keep. Though if you’re on a bus with 95% old people then I will consider you old as well.

When sacrament meeting was over and we were waiting for our bus to arrive, I decided to try to sneak onto the elderly bus. I really just wanted to see if they had any food, because nobody had planned for us to stop for lunch. I was desperate. Sadly, one of my bishopric members called out to me and attracted everybody’s attention when I almost made it to the elderly bus. I flat out told them I was looking for food- because they didn’t provide lunch!

We arrived to Carthage Jail, having survived off of the muffins and fruit I had foraged from the buffet earlier, and began to look around before the tour started.

At this point I was still a little down, but I couldn’t deny that it was a beautiful day out and that there was definitely a quiet spirit of reverence to this place. I began to wander around and read the markers. There was one in particular that struck me.



There was one line that struck me more than anything else: I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it.

When I read that it reminded me of the night I received a clear answer that The Book of Mormon was true, and that I needed to act on the answer given. I’m no Joseph Smith by any means, but I know what it is to be given an answer so powerful that it can carry you through almost everything.

It was then I realized I had been missing something important amidst my bad mood: I already had all the answers. A long time ago I had been given an answer not only about what was true, but about what really mattered in life. I’d been so desperate for new answers and changes, that I’d forgotten that I already had everything that mattered. I knew that Heavenly Father loved me, His truth has been restored on the Earth, and faith in God and my Savior was all I needed.

With that, I finally felt a weight lifted off. Even my friend Careena commented that I seemed lighter. And she was definitely talking about my spirit- because judging by all the foraged buffet food I had eaten I was not physically lighter.

Soon after we began our tour of Carthage jail. I know few people will actually believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, or they’ll believe that in the Book of Mormon. But, for me, I know it’s true.


My Bishop looking into a jail cell where Hyrum and Joseph were kept.

When we finished at Carthage we made our way back to Nauvoo and had one of the most spiritual testimony meetings I’ve ever been to. And yes, I did get up and bear mine. It was hard to leave at the end, but them finally feeding us helped ease that pain a lot. I was so glad I went, and I hope someday I can return again.

Oh, and the ride back was just as full as shenanigans as can be imagined. Here is actually a video of my friends planning out my life for me. For all the worrying I’d been doing, who would’ve known that all I’d have to do is play a game of MASH in order to get all the answers?

Sorry, I had a video of the MASH answers that I was gonna share but apparently since I’ve been an absent blogger they’ve made it so that you have to pay to add video. I don’t think I’m committed or rich enough yet to do that. But don’t worry, you just need to know that someday I marry Chris Pine, become a professor, and have 97 feral cats with chlamydia. Looks my life will turn out exactly how I expected.

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Progress Report- 15.75 #nobooNauvoo

You would think that after I had visited the memorial and cemetery that I would feel better. I did feel something, but “better” is a fairly relative term. Once we all (and I say “all” loosely because a head count was rarely taken) got back on the bus we had to hurry and change before going to a play and eating dinner.

Can I just applaud whoever named the play? It was called Rendezvous Nauvoo and the entire cast was over 60 because all the younger missionaries who used to perform were gone. Also, part of the play had to do with a woman coming from Warsaw. I just thought the actress was terrible at faking a Polish accent. Turns out Warsaw is actually a town in Illinois, and I was just being super judgmental without knowing any basic geography.  

After the play we finally had some time to wander around the Nauvoo temple grounds and I somehow wandered off on my own just in time to miss the group photo. Seriously, ever since I missed the senior class group photo during our D.C. field trip I get bugged when I miss group photos. To add insult to injury, this is what happened when I inquired about the lack of me in the group photo:


Btw there was a long discussion about what my funeral would be like on one of the bus rides. I’d like to imagine that I die of old age amidst a freak accident. Like I was skydiving, or got into a dance fight at my retirement home. Then for the funeral I’ll have a body double in the casket. Suddenly, Pop Goes the Weasel slowly plays over the P.A., creeping everyone the Hell out. Then as the song slowly comes to an end- BAM! My real body comes flying from a sling shot before the song finishes- and everybody loses their minds! So many of my elderly friends will be shocked and die, making it so that I won’t enter the next life unaccompanied. Those that survive the chaos will be able to partake of the dance party I’ll have planned for after the burial. My funeral is gonna rock.

Back to where I was- the temple was great but I was itching to talk to a close friend and kind of unload all my worries. The one great thing about living here so long is that I do have friends that have known me for so long that it’s a bit easier to open up. My friend Careena, who I’ve known since I was a teen, commented that I seemed like I was feeling burdened on this trip. I have to admit I was amazed, out of everyone I spent time with, she was the only one to pick up on how I was really feeling.

The talk did me good, but I think the dinner helped even more. It was buffet- not just any buffet- BUT A GOOD BUFFET. Due to the awesomeness of the food there were ground rules soon established for the buffet:

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It’s not a coincidence that these rules are a lot like the rules of Fight Club.

After the buffet of champions, it was the usual night shenanigans with pool playing, board games, and having to share a room with someone who likes the same guy as me. Exactly what you would expect on this sort of outing.

Best part of all this? My new roommate Lisa was there, and she sleep walks often when she sleeps in a new place. Her hotel roommate, Shelia, decided this would be too creepy to handle so she slept in our friend Samantha’s room. Then it turned out that Samantha slept walked. Shelia just couldn’t win on this trip. Well, Shelia is engaged- so I guess she wins in that sense.

As the night finished up and my hotel roommate lightly snored all night, I just hoped the next day would include something to lift my spirits.


Progress Report- 15.6666 #nobooNauvoo

We arrived in Nauvoo with little time to spare. Quickly you found the people you would least hate walking around in the heat with and joined together. It was cool going through the history of what life was like in Old Nauvoo. You know, before the mobs ran everyone out of town and our pioneer ancestors had to suffer on the Mormon trail.

I got pretty restless fast. I was looking for something that would uplift me, not inform me. I found out that there was a memorial of names of pioneers that died on the Mormon trail, and that some of my direct ancestors were listed. I thought maybe if I went to their memorial, that something would click and life would feel infinitely better.

I slowly splintered myself from my group until I was able to leave everyone unnoticed. If you stay in a bathroom long enough, your friends will abandon you with no reservations- which is what I wanted.

The walk was long, and the road to the memorial had markers along the route with quotes from pioneers journals about their lives. It was touching and eerie to read. Made me wonder if someday the words I have written will be broadcast for generations to read. Judging by the weirdness of my life and blog, I freaking hope not.

Eventually, I made it to the memorial

My family was the Ellikers: Hans, Elizabeth, and Susanna. Hans was their father, Elizabeth was 23 and Susanna was 15. The daughters actually died in Florence Nebraska, which is actually where the Omaha Winter Quarters Temple is. They aren’t listed on the monument at that temple, but I’ve always had a feeling they were buried close by.

It was amazing to look at their names and to remember what they did. I think we forget too easily what people in the past have done for us. My ancestors didn’t know me, but I’d like to think they made the sacrifices they did just as much for me as they did for themselves. If anything, I hope as they look down on me that they feel like their sacrifice was worth it.

After some time to myself, my friends caught up with me. I found out that they had been to Joseph Smith’s tombstone, and I felt a pull to go see it.

Walking alone again I wondered what I would do when I got there. I know some people believe Mormons worship Joseph Smith, which we don’t, I have to bear witness that we owe everything to him. Whether you believe in him or what he did- or not- it can’t be denied that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.

I started to think about how my ancestors believed him to be a prophet of God who restored truth on the Earth, so they left their countries of Switzerland and Norway to come, only to endure unfathomable hardships. I thought about how I knew I could ask Heavenly Father for an answer when I needed to know for myself if the church was true, because I’d grown up with a story of how a young boy went to the woods to pray and ask about what church he should join.

With only a few minutes to spare before I’d have to walk back to the bus, I made it to the Smith family cemetery where Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith rested. In the book/movie The DaVinci Code the protagonist discovers the tomb of Jesus Christ’s wife. He didn’t really know what he was going to do when he found the tomb, but when he did he knelt in prayer. I didn’t exactly kneel, but I felt the same reverence that one does when praying. When I think about it, I realize that if I had lived nearby, this site would’ve been my place of refuge.

Feebly, and with some tears in my eyes, I said what needed to be said. “I don’t know if you had me in mind when you did any of what you did, but thank you for everything.” And I went back to the bus.



Progress Report- 15.2 #nobooNauvoo

With hopes of an adventure, and some sort of renewal of spirit, I took a weekend off work and left at 4-freaking-30 A.M.

As soon as we got on the bus I gathered my eye mask, neck pillow, ear plugs, mouth guard, and sleeping pills. Oh the amount of Melatonin I took… To be frank, I looked like a freak as I slept. Seriously, I know I looked ridiculous but I slept so comfortably that I didn’t care. Well, I didn’t care until everyone started messing with me.

Yeah, that last one was when I started sleeping with my mouth open. Apparently that is an invitation for friends to try to drop food into my mouth. Don’t worry, I only choked a little. When I awoke from my sleep pill induced slumber, I decided to get artsy on the trip.

I may have turned some friends into enemies with my art skills.

The bus ride progressed, and our passenger count decreased. Seriously, we started out with a full bus and every time we stopped it seemed like we had fewer people.

After the first cut of people the rest of us decided we’d use the buddy system to help ensure we wouldn’t get left behind. You know the joke, “Don’t let them leave me,” or, “Lets be buddies!” Well we didn’t joke about that. This got to be Toy Story moving buddy serious.

6 hours later we arrived to Nauvoo Illinois! Land famous for Mormon history, and nothing else.



Progress Report- 15 #nobooNauvoo

Oh gosh, another progress report. It’s only fair I give one since it’s been nearly two years since I blogged regularly. I read back on my old posts and wonder how have I changed? Can I even write like I used to? Will I ever get my pet lobster? JK, I totally am going to have a pet lobster someday. Even if my roommates and parents and other concerned parties all told me “no.”

Let me break down my life the past… year-ish.

Currently, I’m working at the TV station and at the Senior Caregiver job. So I have 3 degrees, am working towards my M.A. and I work two jobs with no benefits. I seriously should’ve been casted onto Lena Dunham’s Girls or at least be on some cautionary pamphlet about how you don’t want to end up after grad school. Let me repeat: two jobs and no benefits. Oh, and no boyfriend- but that’s nothing new.

I’ve lost my Wolfpack, they done gone graduated and gotten law jobs. So at least I have my legal counsel available for when I get caught. But I have to admit it’s not so easy without them. I had kind of always hoped that when they left that either I’d be married or I’d be somewhere else as well… And neither of those things have happened.

Final recap: 2 jobs, no benefits, no M.A., no Wolfpack, and no man. Wow, I used two paragraphs for what could’ve been surmised in one sentence.

That’s not to say life isn’t fun, or that I don’t have friends or any hope for the future. It’s just that I’m in this weird limbo stage of life. I constantly feel like I’m in a beginning of a movie, building up my plot so that the twist is all the more interesting.

So lately with all this non-progress going on in my life I’ve been feeling a little down. Coincidentally, my ward was going on a trip to Nauvoo Illinois.

What is Nauvoo you ask? Let me tell you…

When Mormonism began we pretty much got run out of every place we settled in. Nauvoo was one of those places, and it was the last place before the Mormon trail started. Here is a snap chat I took to help sum up all of early Mormon history:


We all know in movies that when a heroine in a funk goes on a road trip that amazing things happen. Mind you, my last road trip resulted in me being driven to a snowy ditch so the bar was set high as for expectations for this trip…


Three Sisters and a Ditch

Let me get back to where I left off- several months ago. I have to admit, getting back into blogging isn’t easy. But, I have stories that must be told. By that I mean I’ve done some stupid things that might make you laugh.

Anyways- back to March!

As I left off, my sisters and I all had to drive back to Nebraska together. Now I had discussed how I’m kind of the lynchpin of my family- not a role I ever volunteered for. It was more assumed because I organize the family gift exchange.

We left at the crack of dawn. Well, more that we attempted to but slept and left two hours later. I had assumed that I’d have two co-pilots to help me drive, but that wasn’t the case.

My older sister was having a rough time. This was the first time she’d spent a few days without either her husband or kids and she was not in good shape. I guess sometimes you get attached to the people you marry and birth- go figure? My younger sister wasn’t well versed in cross country driving, so I wasn’t really willing to risk my life to a novice. So where did that leave me? A lot of freaking driving.

A couple hours in I was getting too tired to drive. No amount of cinnamon bears was gonna keep me awake, so I threw in the towel.

The little sis took over, and though I was hesitant I was sure we’d be fine…


About an hour in we decided it was time to eat. I’m not sure why, but all three of us agreed that Wendy’s was the only thing we wanted. We tried venturing into the town of Sidney Nebraska. Tay took the wrong exit to get into the town, which should’ve been my first tip that something bad would happen. As we drove through the town that looks most likely to be featured in a Stephen King novel we decided there must not be a Wendy’d and figured we’d try our luck in the next town.

As we approached the exit, Taylor was speeding. Then she missed the exit. And continued speeding. Did I mention that Sidney was covered in slushy-snow? So here we had an inexperienced driver, snow, and speed. What could go wrong?

After Tay missed the exit and didn’t slow down, my spidey senses started to tingle. Or maybe it was common sense. Anyways, I yelled “Tay slow down!” and Taylor replied, “It’s fine!” If she meant “fine” like “we’re gonna end up in a snowy ditch” then yeah, everything was fine.

Suddenly she hit some snow and we drifted into a ditch. I should say it was scary- but it wasn’t. I basically gave zero effs about life at that point.


So we all sat there a moment, in silence. As much of a loud mouth I am, I like to utilize silence when it makes people reflect on their mistakes. Eventually we all pulled out our cells aaannnndddd learned that none of us had service. I had slipper shoes and a t-shirt on, but I went out into the snow and flagged down the first car I could find. Turns out the town only gets service from one little no name cell company, and everyone else is S.O.L. This is only further proof that this town will be featured in a Stephen King novel.

Eventually the tow found us, and we got back on the road. Taylor drove the rest of the way home. JK- she totally didn’t get behind the wheel again. Taylor angrily asked why I wouldn’t let her help or let her drive home. It’s as if she completely forgot she put us in a snowy ditch…

I’d like to say that this was my last scare on the trip, but it wasn’t. We got Taylor back to Kearney around 11pm, after a 15 hour drive. My older sister was bound determined to get back to her family in Lincoln. Mind you, we had just gotten out of a snowy ditch, it was raining/storming, and she had been completely useless to drive the whole day… My older sis was being cray cray.

As we drove to our hometown, a little diversion from her crazy goal, I kept asking God why this road trip turned into my own Little Miss Sunshine??? Thankfully, before we ended up taking ourselves to a beauty pagent that would turn into a strip tease- our mother called and convinced my sister to wait one more night so that we could return home unscathed.

The next morning, my sister did not listen to vital information from our dad about roads to take and almost drove us off the road from being pulled by the mud. I don’t know what would’ve been worse: death by snowy ditch or death by muddy ditch?

Eventually, we all made it back alive. And eventually, I decided that it’s best if I travel without my two sisters. I can deal with one, but two just seems like it’s asking for death.



Four Siblings and a Funeral


I’ve come to learn that funerals can somehow bring a family together. It’s traveling together that can tear you apart. Or at least put you in a ditch.

Last Monday I got a call from my mom. I couldn’t answer so I texted her asking what was going on? She simply answered back, “Grandma passed away.”

I admit I didn’t cry, or feel terribly torn up. I knew this was coming. When my Grandma had been making a miraculous comeback in the ER and her doctors were hopeful, I just knew deep-down that this was it. I take it from working too long in the Senior Assistance industry- you just know the nature of death.

I managed to call my mom ASAP and see how she was doing. She held it together pretty well on the phone, I could tell she was also busy contacting everyone to let them know what had happened. I shuddered a little to think that someday I’d be in my mother’s shoes, but I pushed back the thoughts quickly.

Things kind of went in a whirlwind from that point. My mom flew out right away and I took the role of figuring out how our family was going to go from Nebraska to Idaho to make it to the funeral. Well, I didn’t really “take” the role as much as it got put on me. I’ve come to accept that despite my efforts to constantly showcase my immaturity I am the ‘lynchpin’ of us siblings. I think I got this role of being in charge because I organized the sibling gift exchange every Christmas. I wonder if everyone realized how much I rig the gift exchange then they’d be less inclined to put me in charge.

So late one Wednesday night we gathered in our brother’s apartment and had 4 hours of sleep before driving for 16ish hours. It. Was. HELL. Or at least so I thought…

Between two cars the five of us took turns driving. It was odd, we hadn’t been on a ‘trip’ like this in years. When we were kids there were two kinds of trips: the Dad kind and the Mom kind. Mom’s kind entailed only a few bathroom breaks and efficiency. Dad’s kind entails bathroom breaks every chance we had and sitting down at rest areas that could kindly be described as “questionable” (aka disgusting). I’m pretty sure we could have cut two hours off our drive if we had just left Dad behind.

Through the barren land of Wyoming and past the brief piece of Utah we made it to Idaho around 8pm. We visited with family for a short while then went off to sleep before the funeral.

The funeral came the next morning, and it was actually nice. Sure there was the hurt of losing Grandma, but you could feel closure in it too. I’ll never forget when my uncle gave part of the eulogy and said, “She did not lead a remarkable life but she left a remarkable touch on everyone’s lives.”  If only everyone can be so lucky to have that said at their own funeral- “She left a remarkable touch.”

My Dad and brother had to leave right after the funeral but us girls stayed behind for a day. We had some time to catch up with family, and it was simply magical. I’m one of the eldest grandkids, and suddenly all the kids had grown up. The whole day was perfect in a bitter-sweet way, except for one thing.

That evening amongst the driving and everyone traveling in different cars I had left some things behind and had to have my mom bring me my stuff. When we finally met up she told me I’d find my stuff in Grandpa’s van. I opened it up and got the surprise of my life.

My stuff was packed with Grandma- and her casket. There are only three reactions you can have to happening unexpectedly upon a casket: calm, scream, or cry. I did all three. I’m emotionally complex like that.

Everyone laughed at me. A lot. And my aunt said, “Didn’t you hear us talk about how there is going to be a body in the drive way tonight?” I replied that I had thought they were talking about the kids, since they were going to be in their tents camping outside…

After that heart-attack, we got ready for the journey back home. As scary as it was to find a casket in my Grandpa’s van it was actually nice to be able to tell Grandma goodbye one more time before we left.