A Funny THing happened on the way…

Many mornings we take an opportunity to walk in the Grove early as the sun rises over the Hills and makes its way through the trees. It’s been great to see over these last few days how many more people are coming to visit the Grove as the days get longer and warmer. We’ve had an opportunity to meet many interesting individuals, and this week was no exception. We met a gentleman whose name is James Dunne and as we talked, we found that he was a convert to the gospel and that he also had a passion for creating music. For the past several years he has been engaged in setting many of the verses and themes inside of the Book of Mormon to music ads he shared with us, and I am sharing with you, a connection to his music that he has created, hoping that it will help you to feel a bit closer connected with some of the individuals from the Book of Mormon and their challenges and struggles that they faced. I don’t think we can have too many supports and strengths in knowing others have been able to succeed in times of trial as we may also be facing many of our own trial at this point.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=james+dunne+words+of+the+prophets

https://trebleclefmusic.com/services/songs-from-the-book-of-mormon/

We got the opportunity to go to Harmony PA this past week to the Priesthood Restoration site. We did some training with the new couples there on the tour scheduling tool. While there we took a tour with some of the sisters that are serving there. What a great experience for us. It is amazing when you get to feel the spirit of the experiences that happened there. I gained a greater understanding and love for Emma and what she gave up as she embarked with Joseph on his mission as the prophet of the restoration. I have always known what a help and support she was for Joseph, and the tremendous love they had for each other. But now I know better how she was prepared to be the helpmeet for the prophet. What a tremendous blessing for both Joseph and us that she was the chosen instrument of the Lord as well.

This past Sunday we had the opportunity of being with a number of the sisters at the Hill Cumorah visitors center. We have just opened it up for virtual tours, and this was a learning experience for all of us as we set out to be able to share with those who had scheduled appointments the special blessing of this place. I have to say that the sisters did a phenomenal job as they gathered their thoughts and organized their approach on how to present this over a zoom connection. It was very powerful, and many of those who joined us via Zoom were touched by the spirit. Apparently, they did such a good job that this coming Sunday this same group will be back again to share with the next group of folks the message of the Hill Cumorah. Well actually it comes down to the fact that they are rewriting the schedule for next week, and we have new sisters coming in, and so until they get that part of the schedule written they decided that they would just duplicate Sunday and Monday. No matter, it was a great experience, and we look forward to being there with the sisters once again.

It seems like every Sunday that we have an opportunity to be with our Ward family at the Lyons Ward we are blessed because of their spirits and their testimonies. This last testimony meaning we were nonetheless blessed by each of the testimonies that were born. But it was interesting that there was one comment made in a testimony that touched my heart and has cause me to think this week much more deeply. The brother bearing his testimony said that a “testimony is a tremendous tool …  but conversion is our actions on those beliefs from which our testimony spring”. This week as I thought about this, and the special place where we are currently serving, I gave thought to the testimony of Joseph Smith as he went into the Grove to pray. He said that he was inspired by a verse in James chapter 1 verse 5 that says: “if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who give it to all men liberally and abraded not and it shall be given him”. And then it goes on a little bit further and it says: ”but let him ask in faith nothing wavering”. Young Joseph acted in faith as he prayed, not only was he interested in understanding the answer to his prayer, but he had the faith to act on the answer that he received. I think that is what this brother was trying to help me understand. That having a testimony is a wonderful thing but acting upon those things of which that testimony is built, helps me to gain the conversion that I need to endure in these trying times.

Of all the places in the world that we’ve had the privilege of visiting Sister Isom has had one place on her bucket list for a very, very long time. Well hopefully in the next few weeks we will have an opportunity to check that item off her bucket list. We just happened to be a few hours away from that great place that she wants to visit. We will not tell you what it is, you may be able to guess, but look for it in and upcoming episodes soon.

For now, just know that you are loved, and that we are so grateful to have you as friends and family in our life. We are thankful for your thoughts and prayers that helped sustain us in all that we do.

Sister and Elder Isom

Live in 3…2…1….

Well, the long-awaited day has finally come. No it is not just the return of the leaves to the Grove. A week or so ago we received notice, about the same time that everyone else in the world did, that the church was reopening the historic sites for live in person tours. Of course, these tours have several caveats to them, and the opening of the several sites are staggered over the month of May, but as soon as word was out the phone started ringing off the hook. We are so excited to add live tours back in along with the virtual ones that we have been conducting, and we so look forward to looking people in the eyes, even though we won’t be able to see all of their faces because of the masks and see their love and their excitement for these special places that we have been sharing with them virtually for the past few months. There has been a lot of work being done to create tools for people to be able to register for these tours, so if you are interested in a live tour, or even a virtual tour, you can visit the website at NYandPAhistoricsites.AS.ME. Be sure to tell a friend!!!

Not every day is filled from dawn to dusk with doing tours for people from around the world. Some days we have a few hours not only to study but also to give service. One of the service opportunities that we have been engaged in recently is “Billion graves”. It allows us to go into a Cemetery photograph the headstones and transcribes the information so that people will be able to find their loved ones throughout the country as they look on the websites. Some of these headstones are extremely difficult to be able to read, and so they must be cleaned and highlighted a little bit before you can take a photograph of them. We were in a small Cemetery called the “Buckman Cemetery” just South of the Whitmer farm the other day where we met Lars Larson, the man who lived near the property where the Cemetery was.

His father had started taking care of the Cemetery early on in his life and had passed that love service responsibility onto his son Lars. As we shared with him what we were doing he was so excited to see that someone else had as great a love of preserving the memory of these people who had passed on as he did. Not only have we been able to help those who are not with us any longer, but we were also able to make a great friend in the process. I threw in a picture or two of the Sisters as they labored diligently to prepare these headstones for the website. This past Sunday in fast and testimony meeting one of the people in the lion’s Ward shared the fact that service is saying what can I help you with and not necessarily what can I do for you. We love the opportunity to help Lars with protecting and keeping the gravesite well, but in the end, it lifted us in our spirits that day.

If you will allow me a personal reflection for just a moment, I will not take up too much of your time. The other day as I was walking up the path to the Grove, I had a feeling, maybe a premonition, that I was walking back into the presence of my Father in Heaven. I was overcome with a joyful feeling at this thought, and as I started along the path it was with great expectation even though I knew that I may not be fully worthy to enter into its presence.

 
This path leading to the Grove begins to climb in elevation toward the end and begins to get a bit more difficult to walk, and can sometimes be covered with limbs, exposed roots, and other debris that creates great challenges. But even with that I felt a greater sense of urgency to be in the Grove; or to be in the Presence of my Father in Heaven. I felt a need to quicken my pace even though it was difficult and the climb a bit challenging. But then I remembered what our Father in Heaven and Savior have told us that we must press forward in faith, that we must endure to the end in stay on the path. But we also should not run faster than we are capable of. But as I made my way into the Grove, I felt the great joy and blessing that it is to be there, and the peace and understanding that shed forth in my mind and in my life. I envision that this will be the same feeling that I will have When I enter into the presence of my Father in Heaven.

Well, that about wraps it up for this segment. I hope to get back on track on a little bit better before the month is out. And maybe… just maybe, we will get in some additional excursions to share with all of you.

Oh… and “May the 4th be with you”.

Finally…….

Well it’s been a long time coming, but we finally committed to ourselves that we would not let anything stand in our way of taking a full P day and do something a little different than we have in the past. It seems like so many of our P days for the last two months have been occupied with either mission service projects or meetings that were necessary to take as part of our missionary effort. But this past Tuesday we were able to make our way down to the bottom of Seneca Lake to a small town called Watkins Glen. Some of you may know this place if you watch automobile racing as there is a world-famous track there. But that’s not what we went to see, we went there to take a look at the Gorge at Watkins Glen.

Unfortunately, the river level walk was not available as they were still working to prepare the grounds from the winter season. They need to remove the slick scales that build up on the rocks as well as trim bushes and remove trees that have fallen because of the winds and the weather. But we did get a chance to walk along the upper rim trail and look down into the Gorge, and what we saw was absolutely spectacular. We look forward to going back again and taking the journey down in the Gorge to see the falls and the River much more closely. As we left Watkins Glen and made our way home along the eastern side of the Lake on our way home, we almost sped past the beautiful Hector falls that was running right on the side of the road. Which made me think how many times do we go looking for something so diligently, like these falls at Watkins Glen, and are so focused that we miss the one that is as spectacular and right along our path. I think some time our Father in Heaven is trying to tell us to slow down a bit, so we can see all his majestic creations and opportunities He has for us along our journey home.  

Just when you thought the winter weather was over, the weatherman informs you that there are going to be 2 to 4 inches of snow towards the end of April. This morning we woke up to just a skiff of snow on the ground and we had a tour that we were going to host at 7:00 AM this morning. As we made our way through the tour, the snow began to fall a little bit heavier, but it was amazing how peaceful and beautiful all of the surroundings that we find herself in were. It was a little hard to tell the snowflakes from the blossoms in the Apple Orchard here on the farm, but nonetheless it is always a great opportunity to be back again in this peaceful place. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sister Isom loves the snow now, and so today was a special blessing and a gift from her Heavenly Father just to her the chosen daughter, or as she says a “spoiled daughter of God”.

This past Sunday Elder Pace of the 70 spoke at our Ward in Lyons, and after his talk I am not sure that I will ever look at snow the same way again. He talked about one of those nights in Western New York when the wind was calm, and the snow was falling, and how beautifully it covered the ground. He talked about the peacefulness and the whiteness of it all. But he made a very important observation in that there are many plants here in this area that can only survive and grow when they are covered by snow and freeze. It made me think about how sometimes the challenges and opportunities that come in our lives just like that snow, may be sent to do nothing more than to awaken something special, something sacred, something important inside each of us that will allow us to become the best version of ourselves that we can be.

April 6th ……

I delayed this post by one day for a very important reason. Today we find ourselves on a beautiful sunny bright spring day here on the Witmer farm in Fayette NY. And it just so happens that it is the exact day Tuesday April 6th, 191 years after the church was officially organized here at this location in 1830. We were able to start the day with a seminary group tour that brought the spirit, power, and blessing of this place into focus in my mind. One of the questions that they raised at the end of the tour gave me a chance to think a little bit further about why I am here and what makes this place as special as it is. Yes there are sacred events recorded in history that happened here, and there are beautiful landscapes as well, but I think the most powerful thing for me is having gotten to know the stories and the people that were part of this place so many years ago. They have come to be my friends. And I think that is what makes serving here at this time so special for me.

Well, this week was filled with some very exciting things including a very late snowstorm that took place at the beginning of the week. While it was brutally cold, it didn’t take long for the sun to come out, the snow to melt, and the blossoms and flowers to begin to raise their heads again. We also had an opportunity this week to move to a new apartment here on the site and I have to tell you that it is a tremendous upgrade from the one that we were in. Sister Isom is morning the loss of her “Green Sink” but I think she will soon get over it. 😉 But regardless of the size or shape of the apartment, the one thing that makes them special for us are the sisters that are here that we have an opportunity to be involved with on a day in day out basis. And Speaking of sisters this week we got another set of 16 sisters that just arrived last night, well maybe this morning since they didn’t get here until past midnight. And we look forward to getting to know them and to serve with them here.

This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, while it was filled with wonderful conference messages for all of us, we had a particularly tender event happen early in the morning around sunrise. The sisters had prepared a special program around the living Christ from the apostles, with music and spoken word, and we were able to set in the gathering area just beside the Grove as we listened to the beautiful music and inspiring words and scriptures the testified of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his role as our Savior, Redeemer, and Advocate with the Father. Then we got a chance to walk through the Grove early on that morning, what a great way to prepare for the messages that we received later that day.

A few weeks ago, you may recall that we had an opportunity to do a special Book of Mormon Central Portuguese tour of the Grandin building. This was a fun and exciting event in which we had over 1000 attendees as the tour was presented. This week on Monday we got an opportunity to share another tour, this time of the Sacred Grove, with this same group. It is amazing to see what just a week does in the Grove as it begins to take on more and more color, and as the trees began to change from the dormant winter into the vibrant springtime. As things begin to come back to life at this time of year, it makes it easy to remember the blessings that are ours through our Savior Jesus Christ. That we too can look forward to a newness of life through his Atoning sacrifice, and the opportunities that await us here in this life as well as in the life to come.

Maybe just a single thought to leave with you as I reminisce a little on the recent conference. I was impressed by Elder Teh in his remarks about getting to “Know Christ not just know about Him” and how his role in our lives can become so much more powerful and important.

“Oftentimes it is easier for us to think and speak of Christ’s Atonement in general terms than to recognize its personal significance in our lives … I am realizing that how intimately I know the Savior significantly influences my ability to hear Him, as well as how I respond.”

Remember you are loved

Sister and Elder Isom

On this date…..

I’m not exactly sure where to begin, since this week was filled with a number of not only interesting but exciting events, so why don’t we start with a monumental one. It was 191 years ago on Friday March 26 1830 that the Book of Mormon was advertised for sale at Grandin’s bookstore in Palmyra New York. So, this past Friday March 26th and Sister Isom and I had the privilege of conducting the tours at the Grandin building. What a special treat for us to be there in the actual place where the Book of Mormon was published on such a monumental day. There was a tremendous spirit that we felt as we went through the steps that were necessary and the people who were put into place to make it possible that the Book of Mormon could come forward to the world at that particular time.

While we were at The Book of Mormon Publication site in the Grandin building that day, we had the opportunity of being part of a special event from the Book of Mormon Central folks. They hosted a live tour for people in Brazil, and we were fortunate enough to be able to act as the videographers while a former site Director here in the NY and PA Historic Sites shared the narrative in Portuguese. They had received special permission to send it live over YouTube Instagram Facebook and zoom. It was very well attended by members and investigators in Brazil. And just a heads up this next week we will have the opportunity to repeat the process with them but this time on the Smith farm and sacred Grove.

Sisters doing the work despite the weather

We had some very serious weather this past week, and I want to share just a bit of that with you. While we were in the Grandin building, we counted ourselves very fortunate to be protected from some serious rain that came down, but interesting enough, most of the rain that came down happened to come right in between the scheduled tours, so the tours were able to carry on without many problems. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen the hand of the Lord work with the elements to make them tempered in order for his work to go forward.

Later that afternoon was something quite different. We made our way over to the Grove to find out that it had been shut down for a short period of time because we had wind gusts in excess of 60 miles an hour which created a fairly challenging situation. Well, a little later on that afternoon after things opened back up, we found out that a very large branch from one of the mature trees had cracked and fell right on one of the benches not far from where the tours would have been being conducted. Fortunately, no one was injured, except for one of the benches that gave itself up as you will see in the picture attached. While we were sorry that the tour that was scheduled at that hour was not able to be conducted because of the short closure of the Grove for safety, but we were very fortunate that no one was injured, and we were able to reschedule that tour for the next day.

While the tree looked healthy and solid from the outside, it had suffered a fair amount of decay from within and had lost its structure and support so that as the winds and rains beat upon it, it fell. All of the trees were subject to the exact same elements that day, and so it is with us in our days, we all have the winds and storms beat upon us and test not only our outer strength but also our inner strength.  

Well maybe just one more incident that happened this week. We had the opportunity of conducting a tour on Sunday with the Sheffield England stake youth. And what’s special about this is that while our son Jared was on his mission in England, he served some time in Sheffield, and there worked with the Stake President and his family. For Christmas that year they were heading to the United states, and Jared invited them to stay with us for a time, of which we were very blessed and fortunate to have them with us.

As the tour started, we noticed a Ben Gilmore showed up on the screen, so we asked if anybody there knew President Michael Gilmore? Lo and behold, we hear “yeah I’m here”. We had an opportunity to spend just a little bit of time as the tour was organizing itself to visit with him, and what was even more wonderful is that several of his children were on the tour and we got to see them as well. Although we did not get to see little 4-year-old Josh, who was, so excited about finding marshmallow treats in his cereal that he could hardly contain himself, since he was now on a mission and serving in France.

Well, another great week has come and gone, and we are happy for the chance to share it with you, and we are so blessed to be here this week as we prepare for General Conference and know that we like Joseph can come with a sincere prayer in our hearts and know God will answer us. Maybe not in the same why he did Joseph, but none the less he sends his servants to help us better understand.

Remember you are loved

Love Sister and Elder Isom

oh how lovely was the morning…

It was a beautiful clear morning early in the spring of 18 hundred and 20. Young 14-year-old Joseph Smith walked through the back door of the log home, down the stairs past the garden, and on into the Grove. This is how we start many of our tours at the log home, but this week has been a special treat for us as it is early spring, and we see the Grove as Joseph probably saw it when he went in to pray. Many times, we see pictures of Joseph surrounded in a forest of green leaves, but that type of spring comes very late here in the western New York and what we are seeing and experiencing it is a wonderful sight. The ground is still covered with leaves from the fall, but the green an early Flowers are starting to poke their heads up out of the ground. I reflected upon the song line “bees were humming sweet birds singing music ringing through the grove” much this week as I noticed bees beginning to surround the early flowers, as well as the songbirds have begun to return. What a peaceful feeling this is brought to my soul this week.

There are many tender mercies that the Lord has provided for us in our time here in New York. And this past Sunday was no exception. I was going to share my thoughts on what transpired, but instead I think I will take and copy Sister Isoms post that she sent out on her come follow me email. If you have already seen it, I won’t apologize, because I think it’s worth hearing and considering more than once.

“We have been asked to attend the ward here in Lyons NY which is about 30 minutes away. This young lady Chloe (I’m guessing she is 13ish) was asked to speak in church. It appeared that she is dreadfully shy, and speaking is church was just way too much for her, it’s a lot for me I know, but wanting to serve, she said Yes. For that alone I am already a BIG fan of Chloe, for just saying Yes and being willing to try. She studied conference talks, read scriptures and had it all written out, a wonderful message and a selected scripture. She had done all the preparation needed to give a great message.

In a perfect world she could have given it herself but unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, so she turned to her father. Do you see where this is going? Being unable to do it herself she turned to her Father who read the talk for her. She stood right there next to him looking down at the floor as he shared the message that she had prepared. When he came to a part that he was unclear to him, he turned to her and asked, and then shared that thought. When it came time to share the scripture that she had written down she was able to read it with clarity and power. With a quick look up at the crowd and her father, before looking back down again, her father finished the message for her, then father and daughter sat down together. He put his arm around her and gave a squeeze. That squeeze moment was wonderful in and of itself.

Is this not each one of us? Or maybe I should say, I hope that this is each of us as we are asked to do really hard things. We could say No, but we say Yes, in great faith, and then we prepare all that we can so that we can do the hard things in our life. Then if we are really smart, like Chloe, we turn to our Heavenly Father for his help, for Him to carry us through the hard parts that we cannot do ourselves. Then are we really able to be successful.”

So, I now returned to where I began. This past year has been a difficult one for many of us, just like the snow made it very difficult for many of the tender young plants here in the Grove. But they continue to hope for a brighter future, they continue to look towards the sun and rise up in all of their splendor and glory. It will be a magnificent sight in the Grove come the early summer, which we look forward to with much anticipation. Hopefully, we also look forward with that same anticipation to what the next years will bring for each and every one of us as we to lift our heads to the Son to find the strength we need to carry on.  

Love Sister and Elder Isom

Here is a link to a Podcast on the Sacred Grove in early spring you might find interesting.  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/inspiration/latter-day-saints-channel/listen/series/the-first-vision-a-joseph-smith-papers-podcast/i-retired-to-the-woods?lang=eng

A Giant has fallen…

One of the things that is amazing about being here in the Grove is considering all of the trees that are here. It is believed that some of these trees in the Grove are over 200 years old, which would mean that they could have been small saplings at the time when God the Father and the son Jesus Christ appeared to the young boy Joseph. They sometimes refer to these as witness trees, but we are not certain how many or which ones that they are. But that’s probably beside the point, as there are thousands upon thousands of trees here in the Grove. Many of them stand as majestic monarchs while others are small saplings, reaching for the sky and helping us to understand how important it is to grow even though it might be a struggle. There are trees that are bent and shaped in different directions because of wind or snow or maybe other things that caused them to grow in a little bit different way, but it is interesting to see how all of them eventually are reaching up to the light of the sun.

Well one of those monarchs fell this week. It was in the area of the Grove called the gathering place, where groups are invited to set and contemplate and have special meetings and it became necessary to remove a giant of a tree from there.  This one is a little different as you’ll see by the pictures. The reason it had to be removed is that a main root had cracked, and it was allowing the tree to lean right over the area where individuals would be setting. It was a very large and tall tree, very heavy and lots of lumber. But it was taken down by a little tiny piece of wire.

It appears that many years ago there were cattle that were ranged here, and the landowner at that time had put up some barbed wire fence. He had nailed that barbed wire fence into the side of the trees and eventually the trees began to grow around that wire. Even when it was taken down many years later that wire was still embedded in that tree, and I don’t know if anyone foresaw the consequences of that small piece of wire. Because of that wire, and the elements that bore down on that tree, one of the main supporting roots cracked, allowing the tree to lean from its natural course, and caused the tree to have to be taken down prematurely. This reminded me of the old talk “hidden wedges”, where a wedge was left in a tree, and when the windstorm came it split the tree in half. This gave me an opportunity to contemplate my life and wonder how many of those hidden wedges or small pieces of wire I might have in my life, that should have been removed or should be taken care of, so that when the storms of life blow, I don’t crack and fall. What a blessing the atonement is, in that even though those wedges may be deep inside of us they can be removed before they become a hindrance when the storms of our life blow.

This week we had a very special treat as we were able to do a very short 20-minute tour for a primary group. We were able to go into the log home and introduce them to the early life of the young boy Joseph and some of the challenges that he faced and the questions that he had. We then took them down into the Grove and shared with them his prayer and the visitation of the Father and the Son to him. What made it special was that it gave us an opportunity to consider the first vision from maybe a little different light than we normally presented from. It was interesting to put ourselves even more so in the position of the young boy Joseph, who was merely 14, and to think about all the things, the sights and the sounds that were taking place around him, and how this event came to define and shape him even as a young boy and prepare him for that which was to come. We truly enjoyed this opportunity, and it was wonderful to hear a few questions from the young people as they sincerely wanted to know more about Joseph and about the challenges that he faced and how he overcame them. I would encourage all of us to take another look at Joseph Smith history chapter 1 and consider the first vision and the elements surrounding Joseph at that point in his tender youth.

As we said the sisters are here and they are going full force. It is wonderful to watch them as they have grown in just a matter of a week and how their testimonies have grown and how the spirit has sustained and built them up. We were with two young sisters in the Grandin building on Sunday and fully anticipating that we would wind up having to do a few of the tours or at least parts of the tours as they were still working to try and understand how they would like to go about it. But what a pleasant surprise when they told us that they would take all of the tours and they did a wonderful job.

It is really starting to try and be spring, as you’ll see by the small picture that I’ve placed here of some small wildflowers that have come out early last week when the temperature reached 70 degrees here. Unfortunately, it dropped back down into the teens and those flowers have closed up to protect themselves for the next few days until the temperature rises again and they can open their leaves and blossom in all of their fullness. Kind of interesting how even the flowers and animals have mechanisms to be able to protect them from those elements that would seek to destroy them. With that we are looking forward to a great week as temperatures arise and we wish you the very best and blessings of our Father in Heaven to be with you and your family.

Love Sister and Elder Isom

a day ending in “Y” …

Well as you found out last week the sisters have been here with us for a short period of time, and it has been great to be with them and feel of their spirit. This past Sunday we happened to have the opportunity to be with them as they began to conduct their own tours. Of course they were a bit nervous as they begin to learn of the stories and feel of the spirit, but it was amazing to see how quickly the spirit was able to use these sisters to convey the message of the restoration. They did a wonderful job, and we help them celebrate that evening with some caramel popcorn at the end of the day. But I was not totally certain if we were celebrating with them or if Sister Isom was just celebrating another day that ended in “Y” with caramel popcorn.

This past Sunday we got to go to our very first live church services at the Lyons Ward. It was fast and testimony meeting and as we sat there a young lady named Bonnie got up to bear her testimony. Bonnie struggles with some cognitive and learning challenges, but you don’t focus on that as you look past it and see the power of her blessed spirit. She talked about how her parents had been teaching her about things in preparation for the temple, how she learns in a different way and how that it was hard for her to understand just what they were saying. But she made, what I think, is a very profound statement and very appropriate to all of us when she said that while at this time she didn’t understand that there would come a day that she would know. And there will come a day when all of us will see and all of us will know and we will no longer have to walk by faith or hope but only by the love in our hearts and the love of our savior Jesus Christ. She spoke about how that someday she hoped that she could be ready to be a missionary, but I don’t think that she realizes how powerful of a missionary she is already.

Well in closing maybe just to share an interesting incident that we had on one of our tours. We happened to have a tour that had a primary class attached to it, and sometimes when you have young children like that you don’t get a lot of questions, or the questions you get are very interesting, and that happened to be the case this day. We had a young girl in the tour that probably asked 10 questions at the end and would have continued to ask questions if it wasn’t time for us to turn the link over for the next tour. One of the questions that she asked was that she had been very observant of the pictures that had been painted when Angel Moroni appeared, and that Joseph’s bed was against the wall. Well in the log home the bed is against the wall, but the wall is only about a foot and half tall and so it looks like it is resting against the rafters. As we shared this with her, my mind wondered how many times I have been taken away from the power of an event or situation by being distracted by a minute detail that commands all of my attention. If the spirit speaks in a still small voice, how important it is to calm the shouting voices that could shut it out from teaching us the true doctrine.

I apologize that this was late in coming out, but it has been a wonderful week here at the Grove and we wish you a blessed day and we’ll talk to you next week.

Love Elder and Sister Isom

It’s Sugaring time

Well, it’s sugaring time here in the northeast, the sap is flowing! The other day we got a chance to take a small tour of a Maple processing farm here near the Palmyra area. If you’d like a little more detail you can watch Sister Isom’s Facebook live broadcast on her link. The interesting thing about the sugaring season is it is very short but very labor intensive, and it takes very specific conditions for it to be successful. You have to have a night that is below freezing and then a day that runs up near 40 degrees in order for the sap to begin to lift out and up inside of the tree. As we have walked in the Grove we’ve noticed a lot of small twigs with buds on him falling to the ground near the Maple trees. Come to find out the squirrels are chewing off the tender shoots up in the top of the trees to find out if the sap has made it up to the top so that they can have a drink of this very sweet life sustaining fluid.

I think it’s kind of interesting as we have been able to find more out about this process that it comes very close to what the Savior said in the Bible. He told us that he is the living trunk and that we must be grafted in or tide into the living trunk to be able to receive the fullness of everlasting life. How similar it is for these small tender buds as they strive to get that life sustaining fluid from the base of the tree through the trunk that they may flourish and grow.

As we were concluding a tour the other day we ran into Bob who is the caretaker of the Grove and he pointed out that he had done a small pruning on a tree near the log home. That tree happened to be a Maple tree and as we got there we found a single icicle, or what we thought was an icicle, hanging from the branch that he had pruned. Turns out that that it was sap that had begun to seep out of the branch and freeze and had created a very sweet “sap sickle”, if that’s even a word. It was amazing to see how much had come out and how large that sap sickle had become in such a very short period of time.

Love Elder and Sister Isom

she loves the snow

Well another great week here in the New York area. I never thought I would say this, or I never thought I’d even hear this, but the other day Sister Isom told me that she loves the snow! Now this is coming from the woman who gets cold when it falls below 80 degrees, but what she loves is when the large snowflakes fall, and she sees the beauty they create around her. This week she got her wish. We had a couple of very strong snowstorms come through the area laying down a good amount of snow, and this snow was good enough to be able to build a snowman with, but she hasn’t checked that off of her bucket list yet.

Speaking of snowstorms, we had an interesting set of tours the other day. As we start our tours, we begin in the welcome center which is a beautiful enclosed warm comfortable area. Then we make our way just a short distance down the road to the Smith log home, which is also nice and warm. Then we go about the length of a football field, down to the frame home, again warm and comfortable. Then we make our way up into the Sacred Grove which is about 1 ½ times that distance, and it is a little bit uphill, and there is no shelter from the wind or the snow at that point. But the payoff at the end of that road is being able to go into the Grove, which is absolutely beautiful, and even when the snow was falling the canopy of the trees without leaves still protects you quite a bit.

Well the tour started out in what I would say were almost Blizzard conditions, so we did quite a bit inside of the welcome center. We then made our way through the heavy snow into the log home where we completed our dialogue, then down the road to the frame home. Halfway down the road we stop to take a view of the Palmyra temple on the hillside, it is lovely, and on this day the snow began to let up just enough so that you could get a view of the temple. Then we preceded down to the frame home in what then was a normal snow, if you can envision what a normal snow would be like. After we finished our conversations in the frame home, we began to make our way towards the Grove, and the snow had stopped. When we got into the Sacred Grove we were blessed with a clearing Sky and a view of the beautiful sun as it made its way through the canopy of the trees.

Now this would have been a blessing in and of itself if this had happened just one time, but the same thing happened on all three tours that we did that day. I say on all three tours, but what I should have said is the 1st two were that way. The third tour started out in beautiful clear sunny weather and we had a wonderful experience in the Grove. Once we completed our time in the Grove we started back and guess what, you got it, the snow started to fall again and by the time we made it back to the welcome center we were again in Blizzard conditions. We see and talk about every day how the hand of the Lord was in all of the details to bring forth the restoration of the gospel, but what we also see is how the hand of the Lord is in the details of allowing us to be able to share the message of the restoration throughout the world. That neither weather nor technology challenges are going to stop his work from rolling forth.

And Speaking of technology issues, we had the opportunity of doing our first series of tours down at the Peter Whitmer farm this week. This is a beautiful experience as the farmer setting out virtually in the middle of nowhere and so peaceful and calm and has such a special spirit about it. A think about how much of the restoration really did take place there. This is the place where the plates were shown to the three witnesses, where the last third of the Book of Mormon was completed, where 19 revelations of the doctrine covenants were received, the church was organized, and the first three conferences of the church were held here on the Whitmer farm. But as I said we struggled a little bit with technology as the phone signals are very weak out there, and when we try to use the Wi-Fi that doesn’t quite reach all the way into the log home. On top of that at the end of the tour we stream a video which does take up a lot of bandwidth.

Well on our first tour we had our meeting drop two time, we lost sound a couple of times, the video stream froze for a while, and we felt so sorry for those who had joined us. At the end of this session we were devastated and were left wondering if there was any way we were going to be able to complete these tours for the remaining 5 groups and have them in enjoy and feel the spirit of the place. Well after a prayer to our Father in Heaven the next 5 tours went off without any technological issues. Again, still wondering if we had done all that we could, we received what I would say is a manifestation or an answer to our prayers from our Father in Heaven. It had been overcast and light snow all day long, but at the conclusion of our last tour we turned around, the clouds parted for just a moment, and the sun came gleaming through onto the Whitmer farmhouse. It was as if the Lord was saying “it’s my work you’ve done your best, I will do the rest”. And as quickly as the sun came out, the clouds gathered and obscured it again.

It has been a tremendous blessing to be able to watch the work as it moves forward and to be able to speak to people all around the world and to have these wonderful blessing. But one of the things that is always so special are the questions that we receive at the end of the tours. Many times, these questions are from adults wanting to know about aspects of the gospel or parts of the story that we’ve shared with them. But the most tender questions come from the children. The other day we had a young girl maybe six years old and her question was “why were people so mean to Joseph?” What a profound question for all of us to ask in our own lives. Are we mean to those that we don’t understand, or that are slightly different than us, or that maybe believe something just a bit different than we do? Is there an opportunity that we can, as this young girl suggests, be a little bit kinder to those around us? Maybe that’s where we’ll leave off so we all can ponder upon this question in our own lives this week.

Well, I’ve attached a few pictures because they say a picture speaks A 1000 words, although I think I’ve already put 1000 words into this. We will talk to you next week and wish you the blessings of the Lord as you go about your activities this week.

Love Sister and Elder Isom