Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Love of a Father

We went to Nauvoo recently.  It was a semi-family reunion.  Despite not having everyone there, it was a great experience.

There were two sacred places we visited on Sunday.  And neither are particularly a "popular attraction."  But they were hidden gems and I'm grateful for the stories that the missionaries shared with us.

The first place was the home of John Taylor - 3rd prophet of God in this last dispensation.  He left Nauvoo with a large group of saints in February of 1846.  The wagon was only 3x11.  So there was no room for non-essential items.

His son was heart-broken that they couldn't take his favorite toy.  They crossed the frozen Mississippi and set up camp across the river.  That night, his dad decided to risk his life to retrieve the one earthly possession loved most by his little boy.  The mob knew who John Taylor was.  He had already miraculously survived a mob attack that left the Prophet, Joseph, and his brother, Hyrum, dead just 20 months earlier.  If they captured him...

But he crossed back over the river during the middle of the night and brought his son's toy with them on their exodus out west.
The kind missionary (who I assume is also a grandfather) pulled the rope away to allow the kids to gather around that precious toy.  He told us not to tell his wife. :)  So five of our kids and their cousin, Kyle, posed for the picture.

It was a good reminder of the small sacrifices fathers make because of their love for their children.

Across the street was another gentle reminder of the tender mercies a father feels for his children.

Jonathan Browning was born in Tennessee, became a lock and gunsmith, moved to Quincy, Illinois and, as justice of the peace, came into contact with many Mormons who had been exiled from the state of Missouri following the extermination order.  It was through that contact that Jonathan Browning came to know Joseph Smith and converted to the Gospel.  He moved his gun shop to Nauvoo, Illinois.  The Browning's had several children.  However, one of his daughters died as an eight week old infant.

I can only imagine the pain felt by a parent who loses a child.  As a reminder of the covenants made in the temple that bind families for eternity, he buried his little girl in their plain sight of the Nauvoo temple.  He knew that by staying faithful to those sacred covenants, he and his wife would reunite with their little girl.
This lesson of two incredible fathers was just one of many wonderful experiences in Nauvoo.  Never had our family spent so much time in this beautiful city.  There is a special spirit here.  And I hope our family will be strengthened by it as we visit Nauvoo more often.