Leaving for Nauvoo Performing Mission – Interview with Abe Smith – Episode 20

This video and audio is episode 20 of the Latter-day Saint Mission Prep podcast recorded on Apr 28, 2024. In this episode, I interview Abe Smith who will be leaving this week on his mission to be a Nauvoo Performing Missionary, particularly, he will be playing trumpet in the Nauvoo Brass Band. He will spend the summer in historic Nauvoo, Illinois where he will be a playing his trumpet in the Nauvoo Brass Band. He will be entertaining tourists and sharing his testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through music, performances, and the spoken word.

In the interview, we cover topics such as:
• What is a Nauvoo Performing Missionary (NPM) and the types of performers they need (Brass Band, singers, dancers)
• The application process for a NPM (deadlines, auditions, etc.)
• Weekly Meetings for NPM (Jan-Apr)
• Schedules, Costs, and Program Fees
• Checklist of assignments, travel, housing arrangements, and much more

The transcript of the interview can be found below (it’s automated, so I apologize for any typos) and an audio version of the interview can be found at the bottom of this post. For other video/podcast episodes, check out the Latter-day Saint Mission Prep podcast page.

***Begin Transcript***

OK, welcome everyone to another edition of the latter Day Saint Mission Prep podcast.
My name is Jimmy Smith.
I’m your host of the podcast with me.
Today is my son, Abraham Smith.
Today, we’re going to be talking about talking to Abe about his upcoming mission.
He leads this coming week and just a couple of days to be a novel performing missionary, so he’ll be spending the summer and navu entertaining the tourists and giving his testimony through music for sure.
Maybe through word as well his testimony of the restored gospel in that historic place of Nauvoo, Illinois.
So welcome to the podcast.
Welcome, Abe.
Uh, why don’t you introduce yourselves to the audience, and then we’ll get into the the points that we want to talk about with the, with the Nauvoo performing mission, I’m sure.
Hi, I’m Abe Smith,.
Uh, I’m 19 years old.
I’ll be turning 20 and I’m about a month or so and I’m going to Texas A&M Commerce to study music education and then as he said, I’m doing the naval mission this summer.
Thanks, Abe.
So yeah, so we’re really excited about this.
I think Avis, too.
It’s gonna be an interesting experience.
We we’re anxious to hear about it.
So at the conclusion of the summer in August, we might do another episode and they can tell us more details about what it was like to be a performing missionary.
Did you mention what instrument you play?
Ohh, I played trumpet.
OK, so Absa mastered trumpet player.
I’m not a musician.
They inherited all their music skill from their mother, he, he and the other kids.
But uh anyway.
Yeah, that’s we have the picture of the of the trumpet behind us.
And then and Nauvoo temple.
He’s older sister Hannah is an art major in and did this artwork for us, so props to her for that.
So let me refer quickly to the agenda on my screen.
Uh, we OK?
So Abe is gonna be in the Naboo brass band, and that’s one aspect of being a Naboo performing mission missionary.
So why don’t you briefly tell the audience what is it?
What is this Navy performing missionary program?
You know at high level and then what are the different parts of it?
And then you will be in the brass band.
So why don’t you walk the audience through all of that?
Can you do that?
Yeah, of course.
So there are a few different types of missionaries and navu.
There the there’s gonna be some senior missionaries that are just regular senior missionaries.
There are tour guides who give tour guides of all the different historic buildings, and then there’s the category that I’m in, which is the performing missionaries, and that’s and the performing missionaries are made up of two parts.
The stage actually is made up of three parts.
It’s the stage performers slash actors, the technique audio electronic technicians who do all the sound work and maybe light work and other technical stuff.
And then there’s the brass band, which is based off of this historical brass banned.
But it also has a couple woodwinds too, but that’s what I meant then.
Brass band.
OK, very good.
So you’ll also notice Abe’s growing his hair.
He doesn’t have a typical, really Short, missionary cut.
That’s actually intentional, they told him.
What back in January or February when you started doing the meetings to, like, let your hair grow out cuz and let your sideburns grow in and stuff like that and that right.
Yep, yeah, they said they want it to be full and not modern, just to be more realistic to how it was back in the 1840s or whenever.
Well, and a lot of the stuff that will, you’ll see that we tell you about a lot of it is to give the feeling that you’re actually that the tourists are actually in 1840s eighteen, 50s novu.
So you’ll be wearing kind of pioneered dear like shirt and pants and boots.
You have to.
They gave you like a list of things to buy, right?
I’m probably jumping ahead on our agenda, but so they want you to look authentic.
Dress authentic, even have authentic like 1840s hair and so forth as you play in the breast.
And I think that goes for all the performers.
Like he said, there’s other tour guides and there’s other singing and dancing performing missionaries that are there.
There’s a pageant for a couple weeks, maybe a four months, and in July there’s a pageant there.
And anyway, OK, cool.
So yeah, so you’ll be doing the brass band.
Let’s go back umm to the agenda.
OK, so you’ll be there.
You leave May 1st hit.
We’re recording this April 28th, 2024.
So you leave on Wednesday, you’re flying into Saint Louis with a bunch of other people.
And then from there you guys are taking a bus up to Nauvoo.
It’s a couple hours drive north of Saint Louis.
You’ll be there from May 1st through.
August 7th through August 7th, you and all the other messages, and it’s a full time listen in terms of like it, it’s not not the not your typical full time mission for like 2 years where you’re a missionary.
But for these over three months of the summer, it’s a full time mission in terms of your your you have schedule, you get up at 6:30, you do companionship study, you practice your instrument, you go do performances.
And in the town and for the tourists and so forth.
And anyway, it’s very it’s your whole day and week and month is all very scheduled.
So it’s it’s it’s a full time gig in that in that respect, correct.
Anything to add to that?
Well, let’s add a little bit about the schedule.
If we’re not talking about that later, no, you can talk about it now.
So if it’s schedule you actually what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna spend the first three, 3 1/2 weeks of may just rehearsing.
So we’re just rehearsing songs, and then the actors are gonna practice all their shows.
Umm, I think the within within a few days though the band will be able to get on the bandwagon and play songs in the morning.
Umm, but for the for.
Basically, the whole month of May, we’ll be rehearsing, at least for the band.
It’s like 9 hours out of the day you get an hour an hour and a half for for meal breaks.
And then at the end of May’s, when the performances start, and that’s when we have bandwagon performances in the morning stage concerts in the afternoon, like little dancing around and stuff.
And then the evening sit down.
OK, very good.
So, uh, OK, so we’ve given you a good overview for the audience of what the Navy performing missionary program is.
So let’s let’s rewind a little and talk about the process of becoming a Novo performing missionary.
What made you decide you wanted to do that?
What are the differences between this kind of mission and a full time processing mission?
We can talk about that.
I know you had to audition to be in the Naboo.
The performing missionary program, so let’s let’s go back to the beginning and start there.
What was the process like to become a Navy performing missionary?
All right.
So, uh, we our family had gone to navu back in 2019 and I heard that there was gonna be a brass band there and we weren’t able to see them, but it was something we knew about then.
And so, a year or so ago, about two years ago, actually.
And my mom was suggesting to me that I could maybe try out and do that.
This was spring 2023 and she was hoping that I could do it for last summer, but we didn’t know like the timeline then.
But we found out that the auditions actually opened in the summer before, so I’m serving this summer, summer 2024.
If you wanna audition for it, you have to audition for it the summer before, as when you start preparing stuff.
So last summer, summer 2023, I prepared a couple of audition things.
You make a video and send it to them and you post the video on YouTube.
I think it’s that and send the link to and there’s a probably a website I’ll I’ll put it in the in the in the show notes or on the web page.
So you have a link, but there’s an information somewhere online about how to apply for this.
We’ll get everybody links for that right and at least what I had to do as I had to prepare 2 exerpts and I just did two Short, attitudes.
If you do like chromatic scale and then any other various musical instruments that you had, so I just showed that I can also do jazz as well as classical and then I had to prepare a little paragraph about why I want to be in the Naboo brass band and should I talk about that.
My motivations?
Let let let me wrap one thing up on the the audition process.
So yeah, it it was like August of 2023 was the deadline to perform in the summer of 2024.
That’s so that I turned it in.
So I think it was due in October.
So there was a deadline in October deadline in October.
I just turned it in early so I don’t right before school.
So you were starting school in August and we just wanted to get it over with as when we did, but still it it, it was only a month or two early on October of the year prior is the deadline where you have to get your basically your audition tape sent in your YouTube link sent to the proper people so they can see you and hear you umm, but even and and so that that’s like the first step though you’ll fill out the applications say why you want to do it, right?
A little essay.
Fill out some information, send them the link of your of your performance, and then.
But that’s just the first like hurdle, right?
If they like you, they like what you say and like your video and your performance, then there’s still more tryouts.
So talk about that.
So how they explain it on the website at least was you send in an audition tape and that’s like round one auditions.
And then in usually December you’ll get callbacks.
And they’ll call you back and say if you made it to the next round or not, at least this year.
I don’t know if it’s like this every year, but at for this year, the round two auditions only applied to the stage actors and singers, so if everyone who was in the brass band right now uh found out in December, I found out in December that.
That I got in that you were in and so January like the second I think it was the 2nd Saturday of January this year we had callbacks and so the actors, all the actors came and they did call back auditions and while they were doing second round auditions, the brass band went to the primary room and we had our first rehearsal.
OK, so uh, you turned in your your application and and audition tape in fall of 2023.
In December of 2023, you got word that you were accepted and you were in the Navy performing missionary program.
Yep for you because you were a member, you’d be in the brass band.
So then in January, you were you were attending BYU and living in Provo, and everyone in that area starting January 2024, so a little earlier this year started meeting every Saturday.
You were rehearsing and learning songs and stuff and for the stage actors you said there was like one more round of auditions before they knew if they were in or not.
But then they were doing the same thing.
They were meeting every Saturday.
Or do you not know?
No, that was just the one Saturday that we did.
And then throughout this whole semester, January, February, March and even a little bit of April, we had zoom meetings like every other Sunday and those were just information meetings telling us our role, our assignments and and it placed it answer ask and answer questions and those were usually about an hour and a half to two hours long and those were on Sundays.
Yeah, Sunday in there was online meetings.
Yeah, cool.
OK, very good.
So let’s see, where does that take us then?
You you had sent in your audition.
You were accepted and anything else you wanna say before we start talking about the the the like the technical application which we’re not going to touch on a lot, but anything else we need to know or that the audience might want to know if they were thinking about doing this umm, just make sure your application is turned in because I know when I turned it in, I I don’t think I necessarily got a confirmation that it was turned in and so just be vigilant and careful to know and being contact with people to know that your.
Stuff was turned in so that that’s a good point.
You submitted the application but you received no confirmation email.
Hopefully that was a mistake or that’s changed, but there were on the churches website about the Naboo performing missionary program.
There were phone numbers or email addresses or both, and people you were in contact with all along.
For example, I think you emailed the person running the program said hey, I play the trumpet and I wanna do it and we have some back and forth dialogue with them before they even saw your official application.
Is that right?
So I guess just don’t be afraid to reach out to people.
They’re super nice people.
OK, let’s let’s look at our agenda.
Let’s see.
We talked about the application process and the tryouts and uh, you’re you’re weekly meetings.
So yeah, let’s let’s talk next about the what?
What’s the official application process like with the church look like?
Cuz it’s it’s a bit unusual.
So you wanna be expecting that?
So let’s go there next, Abe.
So when you get some December, you find out if you get callbacks or if you get into the brass band, but that is not the official call from the church.
You don’t get like a letter, just like my phone call or an email.
Umm so you will get that eventually you will get that eventually.
So starting in uh, January, February, Kenneth.
Umm, really.
As early as you can, you have to put in a senior service mission application.
And that’s yeah, that’s not a mistake, senior.
It it for whatever reason, the church treats this as a in terms of the application process.
As a senior service, uh mission senior Church Service mission, which is has has lost some, you know, delays and and in the in the process and it’s a bit confusing for a lot of people.
So yeah, so the application it, if you’ve seen the regular processing mission application, it looks nothing like that.
The regular processing mission has like multiple pages where you have to fill out forms documents, whereas the senior service mission application is like 2 pages and it doesn’t require any medical documents.
Or I just did it all in in one sitting.
I think umm.
They give you a number that you have to input into the their system and then it pulls up and opportunity for a senior service mission.
You click on that, fill out the application and what I found out is that no matter what you put on the application, it will send your recommendation to the ward that your records are in and that’s where we’ve run into trouble is because I was in the Provo, Provo, YSA Ward and it was so sent to my Provo.
Why I say Bishop?
But then I came home to Texas and we’ve had troubles trying to get it recommended by my texts.
And we’re still running into trouble because when he was in Provo and had submitted it, his Provo Bishop and stake president couldn’t see it and had no record of it.
And so then he comes home.
We thought it’d be here in Texas, the Texas people said they could see the application but couldn’t do anything with it.
And now it’s back with the Provo, even though he’s living here.
It’s a mess.
So we’re sitting here the Sunday before he goes to Navy on Wednesday and he still doesn’t have the official call from the church, our state president said.
Don’t worry about it.
It’ll come through.
He’s still going to get set apart as a missionary Tuesday night.
So you will meet with your mission or your.
Excuse me, your stake president.
Who will set you apart as a full time missionary?
And he’ll he’ll go to Naboo.
He has his badges already.
They sent him his missionary name tags in the mail.
And anyway, there’s just so much suggestion paperwork.
So my suggestion to anyone who does this is uh, be super vigilant and super on top of talking with your Bishop, talking with the correct Bishop and stake president, because many bishops have not done this process of doing navu service missionaries.
And so there’s like different pages and so just stay in contact with them.
And do it early and trying to get it done.
I mean they they did his month or two ago and I did it all running for these problems, but mainly OK but.
Umm, we we we have faith in that will all work out there won’t won’t be an issue.
Hopefully we’ll have an update in a couple months when I come back.
When he gets back in August, we’ll hopefully we’ll say he was a full I, you know, official missionary anyway.
OK, so let’s briefly talk about the costs because they are different than a full time proselytizing mission.
And oh, and I also want to talk about the checklist and assignments that they gave you.
And then we’ll get to travel and housing as well.
But let’s start with the cost and program fees and how it’s different from a regular mission.
So as many of you probably know, missions regular full time, 2 year processing missions or uh, well, there a monthly payments and usually it’s pretty standardized for all missionaries.
And each year they they might go up, but it’s $400.00 a month or as of right now, and has been for many years.
At some point it might go up but and so, but that’s not the case for you in this mission, correct?
So it is a one time $1000 fee for the All Navy performed missions.
And so we paid that, funnily enough, through Venmo in mid April.
So the month before for before leaving.
So it’s just $1000 and whole time and then basically covers your housing and basically basically and you’re playing ohh yeah, because they’re flying him there and they’ll fly him home and housing while he’s there.
So it’s it’s probably a pretty good bargain and maybe it’s.
Subsidized elsewhere, but anyway.
But for us, for our family, for a there’s $1000 and that covers his travel there.
His his housing while he’s there and his travel home.
It does not cover food while you’re there.
So and so he’ll have to he himself or with family, we can send him money to buy groceries every week.
And so forth.
So that’s a good segue.
Let’s talk about the housing arrangements.
Uh, and and situation there.
Do you know much about that?
A tiny bit I know with, so I don’t know how regular missions are, but I think sometimes they’ll give you like mission funds.
That’s not necessarily the case in the Navy when you just have your own money and every P day we’re gonna get on a little van and drive 30 minutes.
To the nearest Walmart.
And P days are there. Mondays.
Do you know that?
So, similar to other missionaries, it’s on a Monday.
And then just laundry once a week, groceries once a week.
And you’ll you’ll be assigned a companion, and you won’t.
You’ll find that out once you get there.
Who that is, and you’ll do.
You’ll do the morning routine like other missionaries in terms of get up at 6:30, do companionship study and study and stuff like that.
So we have a companion, I’m pretty sure it’s just the same companion for the full three months.
We also have districts.
I don’t know how that’s gonna work out, but yeah, we get you get up early.
Get up.
And I imagine Sundays you’ll go to church somewhere, but you probably still do performances and stuff even on Sunday.
On Sundays, we have church in the morning or late morning, and then I think we have like 2 hours of like down downtime and then there is a concert every Sunday.
The love of the Savior concert and that one is indoors and yeah.
Ohh that’s nice.
So it’ll be indoors.
Some AC, so I didn’t put this on the agenda, but it just scripts me.
Uh, yeah.
As as performing this series, you’re gonna be performing out of doors most of the time, right?
So it’s gonna be hot.
It’s gonna be humid.
There’s gonna be bugs.
Be prepared.
I’m being prepared, bringing lots of sunscreen.
Lots of bugs spray.
And also note that pretty much the whole summer you’re gonna be in long sleeves and long pants because of your costume.
And even for the rehearsals in May, they say no shorts for rehearsal in. It’s just long pants.
So get some good breathable exercise pants.
Maybe a thin long sleeve shirt.
So, and it’s humid, it’s it’s, it’s on a river, it’s in right on the Mississippi.
Yeah, it’s.
It was as those of you who’ve done your church history, you know, it was swampland and still very humid there.
Uh, it was swampland.
When the the the early Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith and the Saints bought it and they drained the swamp and and made a town out of it.
But anyway, OK, let’s see.
Let me look back at our agenda.
See what else we were gonna talk about.
The housing, I believe.
Umm, I’ll probably be able to give more information whenever I come back, but what I’ve been told is that there is a house for the elders and a house for the sisters and I don’t know if that’s just for the band or if that’s all the performing missionaries, but we have loads of house, little cabin or something. Umm.
Yeah. Cool.
Yeah, I’ll be anxious to learn more about that because I, you know, I’ve been to navu a time or two over the years and there’s, like, they’re all this, like, kind of red brick and and and there’s places you visit as tourists.
But I know there’s a lot of homes like that that you don’t ever go into.
And is that where the missionaries live?
I don’t know.
I was told we’re in the kind of middle of nowhere by some cows, so OK, well, we’ll find that out.
The only other thing I saw that we wanted to touch on was or that I thought would be interesting was they gave you a list like a checklist of assignments to do you wanna tell?
Ohh little bit more about that.
So once you get accepted into the as a performing missionary, it may be different in futures with different leaders, but we use a Google Classroom and that has dozens and dozens of assignments.
If you’re an actor or singer, then you will have way more segments than any of the band or technician people.
And So what I had to do, there were some a driving safety videos, some staff use technology stuff, maybe talk about phone stuff. Mm-hmm.
Songs to learn.
So there’s a couple of songs like songs they have to sing in, like to, to sing, to learn, even if you’re for the band and technicians.
And then there’s also some they post some of the concerts just to listen to and watch and get used to the other logistical things like the past.
Uh ID for getting a plane ticket.
Couple other uh, housekeeping things like that.
OK, cool.
Very good.
And I think I I asked you about of full time processing missionaries nowadays all have to have their own phone and the church install some software on their phone so they can only access the church approved apps.
That’s not the case with you.
You will bring your own phone, but still church communication rules are probably in effect, like you could call home probably once a week.
Like other missionaries, everything is pretty much the same.
We’re going technology and most of the things in missionary handbook all applies to the novel performing missionaries, except for some obvious ones that would be apparent to our job.
But you don’t have to install anything on your phone.
You don’t have to get new SIM card I, but you can only contact people once a week.
You just use normal text saying applies rules apply where you have to be.
You know, in the open or you probably have the same rules with your companions, but they’re just because it’s only three months, they’re just they don’t want to deal with that.
And they’re just trusting.
Yeah, trusting them to deal with that and and one of the other differences is it is common for the family to go visit their performing missionary during the summer, and we’re gonna do that in June.
We rented an Airbnb, or VRBO or something, so we’re going to go to navu and stay for a few days and we’re going to see ape.
But, and that’s OK.
They do tell parents and family members not to distract the missionary.
You’re not supposed to go out to eat with them, but you can’t go to their performances and you can’t say hi to them briefly.
But their missionaries, their full time missionaries, are not supposed to distract them.
So we’ll of course try our best to keep those rules.
Let’s see.
I was gonna say the band used to have huge folders of music cause the band has like 133 songs and then each year they just add more at that and so it used to be huge packet of music but now it’s all electronic so all the people in the brass band will have their own little tablet which has all of the music.
So do you have the tablet?
Do you need one?
No, they provide, they provide us, yeah, they provide it for us.
And so I’ve never really used their that software of like the music.
It’s becoming an increasingly common for musicians to have that OK, so just to note, cool, cool.
Let’s see.
Is there anything we miss?
Uh, the looks like we hit everything.
Anything else you can think of that that the audience might want to know before we wrap this up?
Uh, I’m sure there’s a few things we missed.
Yeah, if the if they’ve missed anything, I’ll try and post it on the website or or add additional links or or things to the web post on this topic.
Ohh temple attendance.
Ohh that’s a good thing.
So in previous years, the temple was always open on Monday, which is our P day.
This year is a little different.
Hopefully it’s not like this in future years, but the temple is actually closed on Mondays this year, and so for us, we’re gonna have to go at, like, we’re going to have to do like, 6:00 AM sessions on Tuesdays before the performances start.
And so hopefully in in the future it will be.
They’ll be better so that you’ll be able to go to the temple on your P days.
Yeah, because.
Uh, you don’t have to be endowed to be a Navy performing missionary.
Abe did recently receive his endowment.
So he’s anxious to go back, and typically, I mean the since the Nauvoo temple is right there once a week, the missionaries are able to go to the temple and sounds like for whatever reason.
And they’re not gonna be open on your P day anymore.
But you they’ll still make sure you have opportunities to to go to the Nov temple, so that would be really cool, right to go do a session there.
Uh, OK, very good.
Well, ohm the umm, do you mind a maybe finishing with your testimony and then we’ll wrap this up.
Is that alright?
Sure thing.
I have just testimony of the power of music and how much good music can bring the spirit.
And because music is the the international language, and you can feel of the love of the savior through music, and you know that through our example, through our actions, through smiles, we can share.
Share the Savior’s love.
Thanks Abe.
Uh, I I I’ll echo that it it this is an awesome opportunity to share the love that the Lord has for all of his children through through music and.
We’re super excited that you get to be a missionary and share the gospel in this really unique way.
And I’ll I’ll also leave you with my testimony of the Savior. Jesus lives.
He died for us.
He’s our Savior and Redeemer.
He guides us through living prophets in the church.
Today we, umm are are so blessed to be living in a time where we have the gospel restored.
So grateful that Abe has this opportunity to be a missionary and share the gospel this way, and anyway we look forward to your reports throughout the summer and at the end of the summer we’ll get a full lengthy report as well.
So until then, thank you all for watching and listening and we will see you next time on the latter day St Mission Prep podcast.
Thank you.

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