The funny thing about trying to do the right thing and listen to the Spirit (some call it following your gut)...if it sounds like an odd or weird thing, people (particularly parents) seem to not like it and freak a bit.
My parents didn't really like our "Washington DC" journey. While they tried to be supportive (well my dad did) it was nerve racking. My mom started calling about 2 hours after we were on the road, in Wyoming just past Evanston.
This was the HARDEST thing for me!!! Honestly I love my mom to death and she is the most amazing woman. The problem was when she called she would say things like, "Well no one will think any less of you guys if you just turn around and come back home" or "You aren't really that far, you can turn around and be home before night and not have to get a hotel room".
I was already struggling. I was questioning and doubting. Why on earth was my Father in Heaven sending me across the United States. What was there? Were we going to move there? Was there a job Ben would find there? What was the reasoning behind this? Why were we being asked to spend money when we needed to SAVE money?
I am not stupid. I really doubted myself and what I was doing but at the same time I knew that the Lord had a bigger plan for me and I needed to follow it. Much of the time spent in the car, Ben and I were reading scriptures out loud. We were both drawn to church history and spent a LOT of time reading Doctrine and Covenants.
The first day we drove to Nebraska. We stopped in a small little town called, Grand Island, Nebraska. We stayed in a little Motel 6 off to the side of I-80. As we pulled into the motel parking lot, we were all exhausted and READY for bed. We carried the girls in. When we got to our beds, we called Ben's parents. Bart was awesome and told us the aviation history of Grand Island. It was the stopping point for people flying from East to West when planes couldn't go across the continent non-stop.
That night we knelt and said our prayer and I felt a STRONG desire and pull to go to Nauvoo. I told Ben and he said he would think about it. We both still felt an urgency to get to DC but I also felt this pull that I had to do!
The next morning we were a bit slow to get up and moving. We let the girls take a bath in their swimming suits for about 20-30 minutes. It had been a 13 hour day driving the day before and we didn't want to wake them and push them back into the car.
While the girls bathed, Ben and I once again talked about Nauvoo. He felt like it just might be what we needed too. We got the information from the phone and found that we had to head the same path to Nauvoo as we did to Washington D.C.
Once we got loaded in the car, we pulled out the scriptures and once again delved into the Church History of Doctrine and Covenants. As we were reading, we realized that winter quarters was only a short distance from where we were. We typed in all the information and about 20 minutes later we were at Winter Quarters.
Even writing this now, I feel that peace. As we drove up to the temple and past the cemetery, my soul delighted. I felt a reverence for the things those pioneers had accomplished and sacrificed. They had left their homes, they had lost EVERYTHING. How on earth could I think my life was in ruins when all that had been lost was my husband's job?
As we watched the movie in the visitors center, my heart was heavy. I had sacrificed so little compared to these saints. They had buried their children. Some children had buried their parents. They walked away from homes that were barely finished in Nauvoo. They did all this to follow the will of the Lord. I was not being asked to walk away from my home, I was being asked to drive to Washington D.C. I wasn't being asked to bury my baby and walk away from the grave, I was bringing my beautiful healthy children on an adventure.
As the tears poured down my face, the Spirit uplifted me and confirmed I WAS listening to the Spirit, I was following what the Lord was asking of me. Honestly the hardest part and biggest doubt was brought to me by my parents and the fear that I wasn't doing what they wanted me to do. Listening to the Lord while going against what my parents wanted was VERY hard. I had been taught and raised that you follow the Lord no matter what but you also need to honor and follow your parents. I have never even considered that a time in my life would come in which the Lord's plan would go against what my parents wanted.
In that moment as I finished watching the movie, in which families separated and children chose to follow the Lord's plan, even though their parents advised against them leaving and going West, I KNEW that the reason the Lord had guided me towards Nauvoo was so that I would find Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska. The Lord had a plan for me and I had to listen to the Spirit, I had to follow that even if I didn't understand why.
Winter Quarters will always hold a sacred spot in my heart. My testimony grew leaps and bounds. I learned that following the Spirit isn't easy. Sometimes we end up walking in 7 miles of mud. In the end, even if we loose it all, as long as we have the Spirit of the Lord, we will be OK.
The missionaries in Winter Quarters were amazing. Our girls got to pull a handcart, dress up as pioneers and many other things. Lyse LOVED the wood block hand carts that they had to "pack" their little wagons full of the blocks and make it all fit.
I had a lot of time to think about my spiritual wagon and what I was putting in it. I realized I had to empty some of the temporal things in order to make room for more spiritual items.
After touring the visitor center, we walked across the street to the cemetery. We didn't stay there long though. After all, it was January in Nebraska and on top of that, they had just recently had a record breaking snowfall that left a LOT of snow on the ground. There wasn't much we could see in the cemetery other than the statue.
As we loaded up in the car, both Ben and I felt as though our desire for Nauvoo was to bring us to Winter Quarters and it was time to head towards Washington D.C. again. Since we weren't really even off the beaten path, we got back onto I-80 and headed out. I don't recall many things other than pointing out the Missouri River and Mississippi River to the girls. We did find a Buffalo Wild Wings and we stopped there to eat dinner.
Chicago was the next big city and it was nightfall long before we were even close to it. I would have LOVED to see Chicago during the day. The city was so bright we saw it far before we arrived there. The roads were confusing and we did loose our way momentarily. We saw the giant great lake off to our left as we cruised on into Indiana.
The second day of travel took us through many states! We went through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and we slept in a small town in Ohio; it was on the border of Indiana and Ohio.