Winter has finally arrived here in Western New York, or at least I think it has. For the last couple of weeks and has been toying with this idea, it snowed several inches and then the next day it was 61 degrees, and it was all gone. Well today seems to be much of the same as we had about 4 inches of snow last night and now the sun is shining, and snow is falling. So that’s why I say it might be winter, but we’re not sure. But the lead up to this event has been very dramatic here at the Smith farm and in the Grove especially. Just a few days ago we had 70mph gusts inside the Grove, which brought down a number of trees not only in the Grove but also on the Hill Cumorah. It was a very interesting event for us, but I know that much of the area also had some very high winds and of course we had the devastating tornadoes that took place in Kentucky and the Midwest. Our prayers continue for them.

I know it’s been a while since our Last Post and a lot has happened. As I alluded to in my Last Post that as the sisters left the 1st of November we felt that things would slow down, but they’ve stayed quite steady surprisingly. And we’ve had a lot of visitors coming from central and South America here to visit the sites. Our Spanish speaking elder has been excited, and very busy, helping them with their tours. Before the young Spanish sisters left, we had them record a couple of tours for us of the Grove as well as the Grandin building. It’s quite interesting as we’ve had an opportunity to use those tours by playing the voice portion and following along by watching the video as to where they’re at and allowing the guests to hear in their native tongue those precious testimonies that were given by those sisters.

Virtual tours have continued on, but not at the pace that they were at the first of the year, and I believe that that’s because of the shift in the Doctrine and Covenants focus from the Come Follow Me. But we’ve had a lot of visitations via the Virtual tours from Australia and New Zealand as they have suffered with a number of lockdowns due the COVID virus. And Speaking of COVID, here in New York the governor has gone to a mandatory mask mandate. This is quite interesting as many of our guests are coming from states that do not have mask mandates. And when we invite them to wear a mask, because of the governors’ order, it sometimes becomes a little bit of a challenge. Our Bishop in the Lyons ward stood up and shared his view with the members, he said that while he really did not like wearing a mask, he felt that being obedient to the gospel, and honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law wherever possible would send blessings our way. I think it’s a great way to look at some of these things that happen to us when we least expect them and cause us to become contentious.

Not too many weeks ago we had the privilege, I guess you would call it a privilege, of taking a group of historians as well as publishing people from the church headquarters in Salt Lake on a tour of the Smith farm. They were here working on the possible renovation of the welcome center to coincide with the refurbishing of the Hill Cumorah. It was a very interesting opportunity as the gentleman who put together the site guides we use in our narrative happen to be on the tour. After the tour was over, he thanked us for being able to share our testimonies of this location as well as the thoughts and intentions of the sites in our own words and not make it sound like we were reading off of a “sheet of paper”. I guess that that is a pretty high compliment coming from the man who wrote the “sheet of paper”. We also got an opportunity to give a virtual tour to our home ward the Laton Lakes second ward. What a fun blessing it was as we got a chance to see faces and reacquaint ourselves with friends and loved ones that are a bit far away from us but always in our hearts and minds.

This December we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. As Amy says “we have been married for 41 wonderful years”…you do the math. Every relationship is fraught with those time that are more difficult than others but hold on, the good times always seem to reappear. (If you work at them) December is also another special time as we have an opportunity to celebrate, and today happens to be that day, the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This morning as we walked the farm and stood in front of the log home where he celebrated a number of his birthdays, our hearts and thoughts were turned to him and what a blessing it is that through him we were able to receive, the restoration of all things. And this morning to walk in the Grove, in the hushed silence of snow falling, and to feel the blessing of being in that holy spot, was a wonderful gift to Amy and me today.

The Christmas season is a wonderful season. It gives us an opportunity to consider upon the blessing of our Savior Jesus Christ. His coming to earth and his preparations for Easter, which is not too far away, where we will celebrate His Atoning sacrifice for each and every one of us. Christmas also gives us a time to reach out from ourselves to those around us, and we’ve been blessed in a number of circumstances where people have been placed in our path that we were able to minister to and serve. We hope that we served the way that our Savior wanted us to serve. It’s also a time when we get to share such sacred music as has been created to celebrate the life and birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. We had the chance to listen to our Stake’s Christmas presentation, and what a wonderful presentation it was. It was so well done and so many talented individuals brought the spirit to that meeting. But not to be outdone, we had a small presentation by just Seven Sisters in a choral arrangement this past week as they presented to no more than 40 people in the audience. And while it was not as polished and precise as other presentations, it was nonetheless just as powerful as they bore testimony through song about our Savior Jesus Christ.

The New Year’s is just around the corner, and we will wish you a blessed holiday season, a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, safe, and prosperous 2022. As 2022 approaches, it is a great opportunity to set new goals. President Hansen, our Stake President, challenged us to be a little more diligent in our letters and posts back home. So, with that I hope to be able to share more with you in the coming days.

Know that you are loved, know that you are watched over, and know that you are highly blessed and favored of Lord.