The Nick and Jaimee Kennedy Nauvoo experience.
How Nick and Jaimee Kennedy Became Active Members
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
By Nick and Jaimee Kennedy
Nick was baptized at age 8, and was ordained to the office of Teacher in the Aaorinic Priesthood at age 14, but had been inactive for 23 years. Jaimee had never had any formal religious background or experiences at all.
Nick and Jaimee happened to be in Carthage, Illinois to pick up their son Aryk (pronounced Eric), and Nick saw the sign for the Historic Carthage Jail. Nick told Jaimee that he wanted to go through the jail because he had gone before but it was back in the summer of 1985. Jaimee had lived in Argyle, Iowa her whole life (about thirty miles away) and had never gone. Nick and Jaimee picked up their son and went to the jail; inside Nick saw a flyer for the two pageants. Nick told Jaimee that he wanted to go see the pageant because he had also seen it in 1985 , but that it was only one pageant back then. Jaimee had never seen the pageants at all, and they decided to attend the pageants. Sister Margaret Uata then directed the Kennedy family into a room in the visitors' center and started the video on Joseph Smith. After the video was over Sister Uata led the Kennedy family on a tour of the jail, and while in the martyrdom room bore her testimony to the family. While touring the jail Jaimee felt the spirit but was unable to recognize what she was feeling.
On Saturday July 25, 2015 Nick and Jaimee arrived at the pageant; they walked around the fair for a while and visited with some of the families volunteering there. Nick discovered that the old pageant was "The City of Joseph" and that The Nauvoo Pageant as well as the The British Pageant were both new. The first pageant they went to was The Nauvoo Pageant. Jaimee met a woman who was from Utah and spoke with her while Nick sat uncomfortably and then walked around a bit more. Jaimee found out that the families volunteer during the summer to help with the fair and perform in the pageant. Jaimee talked to the woman long enough that Nick had to come and get her because it was time for the pageant to start.
While walking to find a seat, Nick and Jaimee went past the information booth and Nick picked up a Book of Mormon and smacked it into Jaimee's chest. Nick told Jaimee "Here you can read this next!" He then laughed a little, and walked on, Jaimee looked at the book and opened the cover; she sat down in her seat before the pageant began and read the introduction and the witness statements. The announcer came on saying that it was time for the pageant to begin shortly, which actually annoyed Jaimee because she was reading and didn't like to be interrupted. Jaimee loved the pageant, and thought that it was informative. The pageant piqued her interest even more in the Book of Mormon. Nick and Jaimee decided they would come again on Friday to see The British Pageant, and take their son through some of the Historic Nauvoo sites and the country fair.
After they went home Jaimee continued to read out of The Book of Mormon, but had many questions about it. Since Jaimee had very little religious background in general she didn't understand some of the words, language, or know many of the people; therefore, her questions were ones of comprehension, not the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. At this point Jaimee didn't even care if the book was true or not. Nick tried to answer some of Jaimee's questions, but didn't want to give her any wrong information. So Nick suggested that Jaimee highlight any spots where she had questions and write down all of her questions, and bring them with her to the British Pageant that Friday so she could ask the missionaries to answer her questions.
The week went by and Jaimee continued to read and had many more questions. On Friday July 31, 2015 Nick and Jaimee went back to Nauvoo with their son Aryk. The Kennedy family went through a few of the sites including the blacksmith shop where they met Elder Richard Horlacher, during the tour he made the family a tiny horse shoe and gave each of them a "prairie diamond" (a ring made of a horse shoe nail). Upon arriving at the pageant grounds the Kennedy family went to reserve seats, only to find out that the only seats available were way at the back.
When the Kennedy family went to the country fair they met a family from Idaho., Once the husband learned of the terrible seats the Kennedy family had reserved and found out Nick was an inactive member he asked Nick if he could get them better seats and figure out what ward boundaries they lived in, in case they wanted to go to church. Jaimee stayed and talked with the wife and Aryk played with their children. Nick went to the information booth with the husband where they talked to Sister Kyanna Garrison about the ward boundaries and Sister Matalyn Nelson about getting the Kennedy family better seats. Sister Garrison said she would go find out what ward boundaries the Kennedy family lived in during the pageant, and Sister Nelson got them much better seats. Soon Nick came back telling Jaimee that they had much better seats for the pageant, thanks to Sister Nelson.
A little while before the pageant began the Kennedy family walked to the information booth, so Jaimee could ask some of her questions. Jaimee knew she probably overwhelmed Sister Lyndsee Anderson (a young sister missionary helping at the booth, and sister Garrison's companion), because she had so many questions. After trying to answer many of the questions to the best of her ability Sister Anderson finally turned to Moroni 10:4 and read the scripture about praying to know if the The Book of Mormon is true. This frustrated Jaimee a lot because at that point she didn't care if The Book of Mormon was true, she just wanted to understand it (they laugh about this now).
After the pageant Sister Garrison informed the Kennedy family that they lived in the boundaries for the Fort Madison, Iowa Branch. Sister Garrison then gave Nick and Jaimee the starting time, address, and phone number for the branch, but she also invited them to attend the mission ward in Nauvoo, if Nick and Jaimee would feel more comfortable attending there. She told them that the meeting started at 9:00 a.m. that Sunday (the mission ward actually started at 8:00a.m. Nick, Jaimee, and Sister Garrison have since decided that the Holy Ghost was speaking through Sister Garrison when she gave Nick and Jaimee the wrong starting time because Heavenly Father wanted the Kennedy family to end up in the Nauvoo 3rd Ward), and Sister Anderson said yes, they should definitely come.
On the way home Nick asked Jaimee if she wanted to go to church that Sunday. Jaimee said that she wouldn't mind going to church so she could get more questions answered. Nick explained to Jaimee that branches are smaller than wards, and that since neither of them knew of a meeting house in Fort Madison there was a chance that the meetings were held in the Branch President's home. After discusssing the issue Nick and Jaimee both said that they would feel much more comfortable at the larger ward in Nauvoo.
On August 2, 2015 the Kennedys arrived at the LDS Church at 8:30 a.m. only to find out that the Sisters' Ward meeting was about half over. After the Sacrament meeting was over the sisters came out and saw Nick and Jaimee. Immediately Sister Garrison started to apologize for giving them the wrong information. Sister Garrison told Nick that they could go to her Sunday school lessons if they wanted to, but Nick asked if they had a class for investigators and she said no because that ward was only missionaries. Nick told Sister Garrison that it was okay, and that he and Jaimee would just stay for the next ward so that Jaimee could attend the class for the investigators.
After the Chapel cleared out Nick went in to find them seats and sat near the front on the left side. Members of the Nauvoo 3rd ward began to arrive and Jaimee was very nervous. This particular Sunday was a very different Sacrament meeting than most, because it was the first Sunday of the month, which is the Fast Sunday, and it was also the changing of the bishopric. After Sacrament meeting they went to Gospel Principles and listened to the lesson from Brother and Sister Fletcher. With Gospel Principles over it was time for the sisters to go to Relief Society and the brethren to go to priesthood. Jaimee was very concerned over splitting up and didn't remember Nick telling her that happened. Then Sister Chenille Saunders hooked her arm around Jaimee's and said "You can come to Relief Society with me I will make sure you get there!" Jaimee looked back at Nick and thought he would come get her, but he didn't. He simply smiled, laughed, and walked away. Sister Saunders talked with Jaimee and made her feel more comfortable and a lot less nervous.
On the way home Nick asked Jaimee if she wanted to go again and she said yes because she still had many questions. Nick told Jaimee that was fine, but that they should probably go to the Fort Madison Branch since they lived in those boundaries. Jaimee broke down into tears. Nick asked Jaimee what was wrong, and she told him that she had met two wonderful women at the pageant but didn't know their names and would never see them again, and then she met Chenille and was afraid that if they went to Ft. Madison Jaimee would never see her again either. Nick told her to calm down and that they could go to Nauvoo.
When they got home Nick went to buy a pack of cigarettes and Jaimee went to bed for the day. After returning home Nick was outside smoking a cigarette when out of the blue he decided to quit smoking, and overnight he went from smoking about a pack a day, to smoking just 3 or 4 cigarettes per day. However, Nick's decision to quit smoking had nothing to do with a desire to be active in the church again (at least not in his mind, but Heavenly Father had very different plans for him). Jaimee continued to read throughout the next week, and again had many more questions.
During Sacrament meeting on August 9, 2015 a young sister named Natasha Stout, who had recently returned home from her mission gave a talk. During this talk Nick felt the Holy Ghost was over him and very clearly tell him "This is the time and this is the place! You need to be active again!" Nick decided right then and there he was going to become active in the church again. Nick met with Bishop L. Joe Smith (on his first Sunday as Bishop) during Elders' Quorum and explained his background and his desire to become active again as well as to obtain the Melchezedek Priesthood. Nick also asked Bishop Smith for a blessing as he was still struggling with quitting smoking. After church was over, the couple met with Elder Chase and Elder Migliori (the missionaries at Nauvoo 3rd Ward). They answered many of Jaimee's questions and set up an appointment for Wednesday that week to give her the first lesson. When they got home, Nick told Jaimee he was going to continue going to church and become active again, but that he would not force her to join or go to church; however, he would like to bring Aryk with him every Sunday.
When Nick and Jaimee met with Elder Chase and Elder Migliori on Wednesday August 12, 2015 they went through the restoration lesson, and answered many more of Jaimee's questions. Nick asked the Missionaries for another blessing to help him with quitting smoking and they as also offered to give him a stop smoking workshop the church put out. Nick agreed and they said they would bring it Sunday. Over the next couple of days Nick and Jaimee discussed him quitting smoking and the stop smoking workshop, after discussing it a few times Jaimee agreed to do the workshop with Nick so that they could quit smoking together.
On Sunday August 16, 2015 Nick and Jaimee went to church and met with Elder Chase and Elder Migliori afterwards. The Elders gave Nick and Jaimee the stop smoking workshop. On the way home Nick and Jaimee stopped and bought the supplies they needed. Once at home Jaimee read through the workshop and found out she couldn't drink coffee while doing the workshop. Jaimee knew she would eventually have to stop drinking coffee but didn't want to quit smoking and drinking coffee at the same time; Jaimee was very worried. The couple smoked their last cigarette that night at 11:00 p.m. While quitting smoking it was only by Heavenly Father's intervention that Nick and Jaimee went through the withdrawal symptoms at different times that week, because had they gone through withdrawal at the same time they probably wouldn't have made it. On Tuesday August 18, 2015 (the second night of not smoking) Nick was having very strong cravings and told Jaimee that he was going to go buy a pack of cigarettes before she left for work. Jaimee walked over to Nick and told him that if he smoked he wouldn't be able to baptize her, and she then left for work. The next morning when Jaimee got home Nick asked her if she was serious about being baptized or if she just wanted him not to smoke. Jaimee told Nick that it was both, so that afternoon Nick asked Elder Chase and Elder Migliori for a third blessing. The rest of the week was hard for them but they did it and have not smoked since.
During and after the time that Nick and Jaimee were quitting smoking they went to different sites around Historic Nauvoo on an almost daily basis because they loved the way they felt while in Nauvoo. During the almost daily trips to Nauvoo, as well as the many Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo performances they attended, Nick and Jaimee met several of the wonderful senior missionaries working in the sites. Nick met Elder Reimann in the blacksmith shop. Nick and Jaimee met Elder Metcalf at the brickyard and the Kennedy family met Elder and Sister Skinner at Rendezvous in old Nauvoo. The Kennedy family became very close to these, and many other, senior missionaries working at the sites around Historic Nauvoo.
Nick and Jaimee continued to attend church and take the lessons from the missionaries. In fact, they actually took lessons from Elder Bertenshaw and Elder Skougaurd (the Ft. Madison branch missionaries) as well as Elder Chase and Migliori because of where they lived. While looking at an apartment in Carthage, Illinois on August 27, 2015 Nick and Jaimee found out that the owners lived in St. George, Utah and are members of the church. Jaimee wrote a summary of their story and why the Kennedy family wanted the apartment (because it was in the 3rd Ward boundaries). Nick and Jaimee asked the young sister missionaries, all of their new senior missionary friends, and some of Nuavoo 3rd Ward members including the Bishop, plus Elder Chase and Elder Migliori to pray that they would get this apartment. The couple also prayed for the apartment many times every day. On Monday August 31, 2015 at 8:40 a.m. Nick received a call telling him that they could have the apartment. Nick and Jaimee finally had an address within the 3rd Ward boundaries. They began moving in on September 10, 2015 and finished on September 12, 2015.
On September 20, 2015 Elder David B Reimann ordained Nick to the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Standing in on Nick's ordination were, Bishop l. Joe Smith, Elder C. Brent Metcalf, Elder Richard Horlacher, Brother Legrande Fletcher, Brother Matt Saunders, and Brother Roland Evans. This ordination gave Nick the priesthood authority to baptize his wife. Jaimee was then baptized into the church on September 23, 2015 Jaimee was confirmed as member of The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Brother Matt Saunders. Standing in on Jaimee's confirmation were, Bishop L. Joe Smith, Elder David B. Reimann, Elder C Brent Metcalf, Elder Richard Horlacher, Brother Legrande Fletcher, Elder Migliori, and Elder Good. Following Jaimee's confirmation Nick blessed the Sacrament for the time and Jaimee partook of the Sacrament for the first time.