Let the lower light be burning…

As you all are aware we were called to the New York and Pennsylvania historic sites mission. Though when we put in our papers, we had several locations both in and out of the United States that we thought would be great opportunities for us to serve. When we got our call, we were not sure exactly what all we would be in store for, but we did know that we would be interpreting the historic sites for visitors. Well, it has turned out slightly different than we originally anticipated, but even with that, it has been a great experience so far. And what has been exciting to see is how the Lord has blessed us to be able to share this historic location with others throughout the world. So even though we did not make it to Croatia, which was one of our sites that we had considered, today we are doing a tour with a group from Croatia. We have also been able to share with groups from virtually every major continent in the world. (except for Antarctica) What a blessing this has been to be able to reach out, across time and spaces, to the hearts of our Father in Heaven’s children that he is prepared to hear the message of the restoration. And how fortunate are we to be able to be instruments in his hands in this great and mighty work.

This past week we also had a visit from Amy’s brother and sister-in-law Bruce and Allison Cornwell. They had served in the Nauvoo historic sites as missionaries a few years back, and it was great to be able to share with them our experiences here in our mission. They enjoyed their time walking through the Grove, feeling the peaceful spirit, and had an opportunity to see the homes and the places here in the area. We also took an opportunity to go out and visit a couple of sites around nearby.

We were up on Lake Ontario and made our way to a beautiful set of lighthouses out on the point. The setting, as well as the water, was so peaceful and calm at that it almost made you forget about the importance of those light houses, and why they were placed there in the 1st place. These houses were designed to warn and guide weary Mariners as they made their way through treacherous Shoals. While we were there, I continued to think about the hymn “brightly beams our father’s mercy”, and how the opportunity to serve here has allowed us to be those lights along the shore as He guides individuals to a greater understanding of His love. As you can see in this beautiful photo the Flowers were in bloom and it was a wonderful day.

Earlier that week we got a chance to go to Genesee Country Village and Museum historic village where they have a series of homes that they have re stored and allows you to get a feel for life in the 1800s and early 1900s. We met some interesting individuals and got to see some wonderful things there. We got to visit the George Eastman family home, the founder of Eastman Kodak, and learn a lot about what he had done outside of the technology of photography industry. He was a great supporter of the abolitionist movement and was part of not only the Underground Railroad, bringing slaves from the South, but also in providing education and schooling for underprivileged individuals in the South as well. We visited some beautiful Victorian homes, and there we found a new friend who introduced us to the Victorian Glass Harp. Many of you may think that this is merely crystal glass is filled with water, but there really glasses that were formed and shaped specifically to produce an individual note. She played us some beautiful songs while we were there and what a peaceful feeling it brought.

I think one of the most interesting things that we saw while we were there was a couple who were working with oxen to plow a field. Well one of the oxen named Buddy was more interested in eating the grass than plowing the field, and so it made for an exceedingly difficult work that they were doing. They plowed only about 20 yards, but it took them nearly 15 minutes to get things organized the team hooked up as well as to plow that little spot. At the end I think they had decided that they had plowed enough and took the oxen back home.

This caused me think about the challenges that were probably faced by the early pioneers as they made their trek westward. Many of them were unfamiliar with oxen and how challenging they can be. But nonetheless they made their way and were able to successfully enter into the Valley. These majestic animals are beautiful and strong; powerful but not very graceful; but they served a great purpose in fulfilling the work that they were called to do. I think about myself and sometimes I’m not majestic, I’m not beautiful, I am not graceful, but I have still been called to do a work, and I’ve been strengthened to be able to accomplish it.

Well, I think that will wrap it up for this post. Things are beautiful here. Summer has come, the temperatures are up as well as the humidity. The mosquitoes have come out in force, but even with all of that, it is still a beautiful place to be and a wonderful spirit we feel here. So, we will say goodbye for now remind you that you are loved and hope you have a blessed day.

Sister and Elder Isom

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”.