All posts by Mike

EVERY GOOD THING….

I know…I know… I said I would try to be better on getting this out on a more regular basis, but I can truly attest that the past few weeks have been a whirl wind. First off, they say every good thing must come to an end, but I will say every good thing can continue on and be built upon. We finished our mission in Palmyra in mid-June and got to leave before we had to say good by to another group of sisters as they left on their proselyting missions. Good for me, as it is hard to say good by to them. But before all of this happened Amy and I got Covid. Yes, we came out in the MIDDLE of covid with a warning that we were taking a risk. But it was not until the last 3 weeks of our mission that we contacted it. Not the way we intended to end, but we did get a week right at the end to share the sights with our guests. What a blessing as I think we did not take a single one of those tours for granted.  

The 2500-mile trip home was uneventful (for a change) with the exception that every state we traveled through was experiencing a heat wave. In Albuquerque, we stopped to have dinner with our own beloved Sister Christensen’s mother and sister. It literally poured rain like some one had turned on a fire hose. Very interesting traveling down the freeway at 35 MPH with nearly 3 inches of water running and trying to stay in the white lines. But we did arrive home in time to celebrate Father’s Day with all our family. How sweet to be with them after nearly a year and a half.

We had only one week at home to turn things around and drive 1700 miles back to Nauvoo to participate in the pageant for 5 weeks. Just before we had left in January 2021 for our mission, we had to have a new roof put on our trailer and placed it into the covered storage for 18 months. We got it out, dusted it off, and got about the business or preparing to go. We replaced the tires as well as the batteries and felt we were ready to set out. For the first nearly 1000 miles of our trip things went smoothly. We stayed at a couple of very interesting RV camp sites and met some great people.

As we got near Kansas City, thing began to unravel (literally). We pulled into a parking lot and a lady approached us and asked if we had an air conditioner cover on the top of our trailer. We said no, and she let us know something was flapping on top of the trailer. Upon examination the new roof we had  done, had let go and wound-up pealing back and wrapping around the air conditioner exposing the underlayment of ply boards. We did a quick secure job and made our way to the next camp site just outside the city. The next morning, we visited Camping World and met another Angel in the form of April who got us taken care of to get an estimate and repair as needed. We then continued on to Nauvoo with out a place to stay. Relying on the impression that we were supposed to be there.

If you have been counting up the Tender Mercies in this story, here is another one to add to it. As we approached with a commitment to find a surrounding area hotel to stay in, we got a call from the housing coordinators that an FM apartment had just been made available to them for the duration of the Pageant and that we would be able to move in upon arrival. On the following Sunday we started with our new assignments in getting the new family cast members suited up. I did not have any security assignments until later in the week, so I hung around and helped them a bit. It is a good thing I did because later in the week one of the 3 men in the department came down with Covid. So I have been filling in around security on Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday. It is always good to have a fallback job. 😉

The pageant has not disappointed at all. All of the cast are on top of it, and it has been very enjoyable. I wonder if this has taken on an additional importance, since we got to spend our time in the cradle of the restoration for our mission and have come to know and love these early saints and their sacrifices.

My mind has been caught up these last few weeks, pondering the concept of community. As Christ taught the early saints and apostles, he gathered them into a community.  As the saints gathered, they too strived to create a community in the Lord. One of the things I have noted this past week here in Nauvoo is that sense of community is also present. As people come from all different backgrounds, locations, and levels of talents, everyone is truly happy to be together. They are happy to help and lift each other. I think this is what all the prophets have strived for over the years from the beginning of time. I think this is what our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ are wanting us to adopt…no to become so that their work may roll on and our joy I this life, as well as in the next life, may be full.

Remember you are loved

Mike and Amy

(Formerly Elder and Sister Isom)

MORONI HAS A NEW SUIT…..

I know I know it has been way too long. (My wife beat you to this chastisement) But it is a great time to share with you a number of things that have transpired. Over the course of last summer, I shared with you that the Hill Cumorah was being renovated and the Pagent structures were being removed. Most of that got completed and this spring they did some work on the monument. Moroni had gotten fairly weather beaten over the years, but this past week they re-leafed with 23.7 karat gold leaf paper. He looks spectacular and believe it or not, they will not seal that wafer thin gold leaf and it will last nearly 20 years.

It feels like that in the last 2 weeks the grove has exploded in blanket of green. It was only 3 weeks ago we were in the 30’s with snow flurries. But it is hard to remember back to that look as we take our morning walks in the grove and are not able to see all the way through to the next trail. You really do feel like you are all alone in this beautiful place when the trees are in full leaf. And want peace it brings to the soul.

This year is a bit different than last year in that the second set of sisters arrived just 2 week ago (3 week later than last year) but that will be good as we will have more sisters here during the heat of the season as the busses roll in. And speaking of Busses, we have already had several early in the season and they have been a great training ground for all of our sisters and couples, as most of them are new and have not gone through the season. But the storm will begin in 3 more week and last until August.

We were visited by our good friends Gary and Susan Barker and what a treat. They joined us for a few days to visit the historical sites (and a couple of other places of interest) as they prepared to travel through his father’s mission in the Eastern States. He had taken his father’s journal and other letters and writings and compiled a book that hew shared with all of his children. They had several photos that his father had taken during his time in his mission, and one of their goals was to recreate them along the way. We told him it was now his opportunity to add his photos and memories into his own journal and share it with his family.

As we have had several church historians here educating us on the events here at the sites and sharing stories from the lives of so many early saints, it brings home the importance of saving and sharing our memories and lives. When you consider much of the holy scriptures, they are letters of encouragement and histories of those who have gone before. How blessed we are that others have taken the time to write down their stories and experiences to bless us as we travel our paths, which something might mirror theirs. Never miss the opportunity to share your stories, especially with your family, it will be a blessing to them throughout their lives.

We have a mere 4 weeks to go until our time here in the historic sites will come to a conclusion. It seems like only a few days ago we were traveling out here with great anticipation. Now we are looking forward to our next phase but with a tear falling that we are leaving this great place and all of the people and experiences we have had. But they will always be a part of us. I promise to share one more post before we leave.

“Remember you are loved”

Elder and Sister Isom

P.S. Happy Priesthood Restoration Day

CHANGE IS COMING…

As you can see it has still been a bit cold and snowy here, but it makes for some spectacular vistas. We took a hike down to the Taughannock falls. It was beautiful. The waterfall was epic, and the ice at the base of the falls had not completely broken up yet, so it looked like a flying saucer from Independence Day (the Movie) waiting to launch. Downstream we found slabs of Ice that had been broken up from the water flow that were the size of cars.

The Sisters have arrived…but the guests are a little slow in joining us yet. But that will change very quickly. They have been busy learning their narratives and providing us with lots of laughter and energy. They even did a version of Jeopardy one night to try and stump the Seniors. It worked on a few questions, but we shined bright on all the categories except the one about “The Sisters”. (Still a bit early in the program for most of those questions)

With the cold at night, and the heating up during the day, it has brought on the Maple Season once again. But with the warmer days, this next week might be the last week. None the less we got out to see our good friend Les and his maple operation again, and this time we brought along the Michael Tomlinson family. They made us a part of their Spring break travels this year. It was great to share the sites of the restoration here in Palmyra with them, as well as some interesting local spots. We were able to also get out the baptismal site of Brigham Young, the Tomlinson Inn, as well as let Mark try his hand at walking on water (well on the ice on top of the Erie Canal water at least)

We took a tour of Historic Palmyra, which includes 5 museums about the life and time of this location. We toured a Coverlet Museum which is dedicated to the Weaving of bed covers and wall hangings from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s. Also, an Erie Canal Museum as well as an early Printing operation. But my favorite was the old Phelps store. The story goes that when the government was using ration stamps, and mandating local business take them, he refused and locked the doors in the early 40. The store is exactly how he left it right down to bottled spearmint oil (that smells like it was produced today) and a bunch of eggs; ….Yes, EGGS, under a plexiglass cover (NO I did not smell the eggs). His daughter inherited the store and the home above it, and lived there until 1978 when she passed away. Interesting thing she lived there without electricity or modern plumbing those many years.

Easter is coming in the not-too-distant future, and the timing will be just right as the Grove awakens from its long winter slumber. It will begin to show its colorful blossoms, and birds will begin to herald its awakening. It will be a fabulous back drop for us to consider on the most historic event in all the history of mankind, when the Son burst forth from the darkened tomb and brought forth the radiant light to awaken all of mankind. May your coming days lead you to remember this precious even as you celebrate the coming of Spring once again.

Know that you are Loved

Elder and Sister Isom

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE…

When you think that the core of winter and the cold is just about to end…BAM…here it is again. The temperature has been up and down, but mostly down. Several days in the Negative temps (and that is before the wind chill). It is Ironic that this past week we have a very aggressive snow storm that dumped about 18 inches, and it was exactly one year ago we also had a big storm that left about 15 inches. It is good to have things on a regular time schedule. 🙂 Even though it presents a challenge for us to give tours, it is absolutely beautiful. The Grove and surrounding area is covered in a blanket of pure white and gives a peaceful appearance and feeling. When the Sun comes out you can see the crystals like diamonds shining in the light of the sun. As beautiful as the grove is when the SUN shines, it is even more glorious when the SON shines forth in the lives of those who come here to this special place.

The last 3 weeks for our P-Day the weather has been so bad, and the roads a bit sketchy that we did not venture out. But this week we finally got a reprieve. We went with another couple to Rochester and started at the Strong Museum of Play, then off to the High Falls in the middle of town again. The museum is a very interesting place. It houses a collection of games and play toys throughout the history. It was cool to step back in time to see many of the toys that we grew up with all-in-one place. Amy loved the dolls (especially the Troll dolls) and I leaned towards the GI Joe items. Brought back many fond memories. The one game that stood out to me was Mouse Trap. I remember spending hours playing this game with family and my friends.

They had giant version of some games as well as hands on versions that we played. After a robust session of battleship and air hocky it was time to head to the falls. but not before we sat for a personal portrait done by the world renowned artist “Etch-a-Sketch”. A tremendous likeness if I do say so my self

Since it was Valentine’s Day just a couple of days ago, we cannot let it go by without a small history lesson (Or legend if you prefer)

Emperor Claudius II from Rome decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl—possibly his jailor’s daughter—who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and—most importantly—romantic figure“.

We now have only 7 days before our first set of Sister Missionaries arrive, and we are so excited for that day. Interesting enough one of Amy’s cousins’ granddaughters is teaching at the Missionary Training Center and is working with the sisters that will be coming to our mission. Later today we will be giving them a tour of the Sacred Grove and Smith Farm as they prepare to join us next week.

With that in mind, I would like to share part of Amy’s Face Book post for this week which pretty much sums up what will be happening.

“Oh I remember well the butterflies and anxiety of our first days in the mission field. There seemed to be so much to learn and it felt as if I was never going to get it all down. There are days still that I still have anxiety for a virtual tour or in-person guest. I quickly say a prayer, and know that Heavenly Father and Jesus will carry me forward as I exercise my faith.  Last week we had another good dumping of snow, and as we went for our morning walk, we were the first footsteps on the trail that day. As I was sitting having my morning prayer I thought about many of the 2021 sister’s who were the first in their family to join this church, the first to go on a mission, so many first. They like us were blazing a new trail that would be the footsteps for hopefully generations to follow.” We are all Pioneers in our own right setting a trail for those who will come to follow. Let us all set a clear and precise pathway for them to follow.

Oh and by the way if you are creating your trail don’t forget to leave your mark along the way (Snow Angel for Amy this go round)

Know that you are Loved

Elder and Sister Isom

THE GANGS ALL HERE….

Well, the Gang is not actually all here anymore. This past week we said good-bye to our Mission President and companion President and Sister Spallino. As we did so, we were able to celebrate their 2 years here and the many historic milestones that were accomplished. They served through the 2020 Covid shutdown, they also were on the ground floor for the inceptions of the virtual tours we now do through the world. Truly Pioneers in so many senses of the word. Just to give you a little view of the way things have changed for us here at the historical sites:

2021

Virtual tours                                       3,708

# who received a VT                        328,770 (3 times as many as 2020)

# who received in-person tour   108,837 (June 1st through Dec 31st only)

Total # who received a tour         437,607

2020 and 2021 combined

Virtual tours                                       8,393

#who received a VT                         432,100 (only 103,330 in 2020)

#who received in-person tour    112,840 (only 4003 in 2020 before shutdown in April)

Total # who received a tour         544.940 (only 107,333 in 2020)

Needless to say, we did stay very busy this past year in helping to share the power and blessing of these sites and the events of the restoration that happened here with many of our friends. In total we have shared Virtual Tours with 105 countries around the world so far. We are awaiting the arrival of or new President which should be in the next few days. Excited to see what 2022 brings for all of us.

With winter in full swing (based on the calendar) we are still awaiting a good dump of snow. So far we have only had a few inches here and there. But we do know it is winter based on the temperatures. We have had several days we have gone out to do tours and the temperature is in the single digits. Add on the winds we have had on a few of those days, and we are pressing -20 degrees. This Desert Rat was not built for this but thank heavens for warm winter ware. One of my favorite pictures is included of Amy (whose fingernails turn purple at 80 degrees)

We have cycled our 1-year mark for our mission and have just 6 more to go. Time has flown by very quickly as we have been involved in the pioneering efforts of the Church as they take the message of the restoration to the world via ZOOM. We are excited as things begin to settle into a routine on the administrative side of our efforts to be able to focus on sharing the message. We so look forward to the Young Sister missionaries coming in March. They bring the spring with them (even if the temperatures don’t reflect it)

The other Sunday as we attend Testimony meeting, many of the congregation mentioned the challenges and trials they had had in the past, and how they were able to endure through their faith in Christ. One sister mentioned that “our trials can turn to testimony”. What a profound insight. This life is designed so that we will have trials, and it is up to us to decide which way we will “TURN” as they come. They are truly defining moments in our eternal progression and as we endure it is much easier to endure through Christ who has already walked that path for us.

 Nothing to report this time in the way of visiting locations around the area since it has been poor weather and may of the sites are closed for the winter. But I know we are itching to get out, and hopefully we will do so before the next post and have some wonderful adventures to share with you in the near future (weather permitting). In the meantime, I will leave you with one of our leisure activities of Puzzling in the comfort of our apartment.

Know you are loved

Elder and Sister Isom

WINTER YOU SAY……

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.

Follow The Path…

This morning we were taking our walk to the grove for our morning prayers. I got to pondering on the lessons I’ve learned while being here at the Smith farm and in the sacred Grove.

When we first arrived back in January the Grove was covered with snow and we had to follow other people’s footprints to be able to stay on the path. As we became familiar with that path based on the trees that we passed each day we started to become familiar with the path, based on what we could see above the snow. We only used one path, with all the snow we had no way of knowing to go any other way than the one path that had footprints on it.  As spring came and the snow melted. We no longer needed other people’s footprint to know what way we should go. How grateful we were that we had followed their paths when we didn’t see which way to go. We found little ponds and creeks that we had no idea that were there when covered with the snow. With spring and then summer, we found that there were many different paths. There are only 2 ways to enter or exit the grove, but many different paths once you enter into the Grove. All these paths became so familiar, as well as the landscape. One day the caretaker had moved one of the paths. When it would rain it would get so muddy that it wasn’t good for the guest or the grove to have people trudge through that part of the path. It didn’t take long for us to learn and find our way through that trail. We even learn about the deer and where the squirrels have their homes. We have learned to know and love all the different paths that we have taken over our months here in the grove. Then came Fall! The paths are covered not with snow like when we got here but all the leaves. And unless you know which way to go you can’t tell where the paths are with all the leaves covering the ground. As we walk we kick around the leaves in hopes of helping people know which way is the path that they should go on. We wanted them to stay on the path, so they don’t go off into a muddy bog or into the creeks that are just off the path.

Life is a lot like this, When we got here to earth we had no idea of where to go. We follow in others footpaths as we learn our way. Then one day we knew the path we should follow. We walked along the path without having to take much thought as to where we should go. Sometimes we find that the path or the people in our lives would have us trudging through the muddy parts of life. How blessed we are there is a caretaker to help us move to a much more enjoyable path. As we go through the different seasons in our lives sometimes we find that we need to follow the advice and footprints of others so we stay on the  clear path. Other times we find that we are to be the leaders helping others to stay on the path. As we learn the best paths it is our responsibility to help others to stay on the path and out of the muddy bogs. We can only guide others, they still have their agency to choose where they will walk. We just get to love them and keep kicking the leaves and leave our footprint in the snow. So, when they choose to follow, they will be able to see and find their way back to the path.  

Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Remember always that you are loved by a great caretaker. Try and stay out of the muddy bogs

THE SEASONS ROLL ON….

Fall is surely here…how can I tell; well let you give you a few tell tale signs.

The leaves have turned, and the colors are spectacular. Here on the farm is one of the very best displays of bright Reds, Golds, and Oranges anywhere. As you walk to the grove, you are surrounded by all of the vibrant shades that appear to glow with a radiance that is unmatched. But just to confirm we took a ride up the ski lift at Bristol Mountain ski resort to take another look. IT was fantastic, even thought we reach the summit of the mountain at just over 2800Ft (yes hundred, not thousand, like out west) But even then, it was a great excursion. We went with our mission President and his companion as well as with our good friends the Staker, who are facilities missionaries and help keep things in repair and functioning so we can function. We chose to hike on of the cross-country ski trails at the top rather than take a chance of falling down the Double Black Diamond run on the way down.

 The second thing that signals the fall here is the ending of the LSG season. Yes, with the end of October came the very last LSG (Large Scheduled Group AKA Bus Tour) But not only that, but we also said good by to our own LSG’s (Loving Sister Guides) their time was finally up at the end of October, and they now have all headed out to their full time proselyting missions. We held a celebration of sorts (more like a Last Supper) for the departing sisters. Amy, in usual Amy fashion, out did herself in making a beautiful Rice Crispy tour bus with all of the sisters as passengers. It is rather quiet here (a good/bad thing don’t you know) but mostly bad. We miss them but know and hear of the great things they are doing in their fields of labor. And we are left here to carry on. So far it has been rather busy as we try to figure out how to balance in-person tours with virtual tours with only one couple at a site.

For a Halloween treat we participated in the Palmyra Ghost Walk. It was a fun time as we trapsed through the cemetery and were entertained and taught by a dozed ghosts (AKA historic site guides) about influential people and events here in the Palmyra community. It culminated in a serving of local Apple Cider and Donuts. A great way to spend an evening our in the BRISK fresh air. As we entered the fall season It was amazing just how many pumpkin patches there are here in the area. As we drove the 35 miles to the Whitmer farm it seamed we passed a dozen pumpkin patches. And when there was not a patch, there was a roadside stand selling pumpkins and gourds. I love some of the funky designs God has placed on these pumpkins/gourds.

 This past week thing heated up here near the Grandin Publishing building, and not in a good way. As the missionaries arrived to open the site, they were soon greeted by several fire trucks. Actually, fire trucks from 5 surrounding communities to be totally accurate. The local laundromat, which is merely 150 ft from the back of the Grandin building, was a blaze. It shared a wall with one of the local Museum as well. As they fire teams tried to put out the blaze, they ran into a myriad of issues form little to now water pressure to losing control of hoses and knocking down firemen and fences. The decision was made that the Laundromat was a total loss, but they poured water on the shared wall to keep the museum from going up in flames. They were successful in keeping it contained. Oh, did I neglect to tell you the between the fire and the Grandin building are 3 apartments that our Sr Couples live in. Miraculously they were not damaged, now even any smile damage. There were 2 14-year-old boys caught who had set the fire and watched the building burn.

But let’s not end on this dismal note. We also made a trip back down to the Priesthood Restoration site to do a bit more training and got to see some of our sisters we loved and lost to the Pennsylvania site. There we were able to share a tour with departing missionaries for the Pennsylvania mission as they got to go to the site. While we were there, we took the 30-minute detour on our way back home to visit the Josiah Stowell and Joseph Knight homes just outside of Colesville. We were able to get a personal tour of both homes and learned a lot of history that added to what we have learned here while serving at these sites of the Restoration. The Josiah Stowell home is where Joseph and Emma would sometimes meet while courting, and they have the actual fireplace mantle that was brought from the courthouse where Joseph and Emma were married. The Knight home was the location of the meetings of the Colesville branch of the church who later were called to be some of the first settlers in Missouri.

Well, you are all caught up now, so we will say goodbye for now, and always remember that you are loved.

Sister and Elder Isom

Spring has Sprung…..

Fall is in the air and that mean Winter is just around the corner. Let me explain Winter to you from our POV. We just had 14 sisters leave us this week to head to their full-time proselyting missions, and they took a bit of sunshine out of our lives. Come the 1st of November the remaining 12 will leave, and when they do, it will officially be Winter in our hearts. Before the left, a number of them were involved in a Filming project in and around each of the sites here in NY and PA. These will be made available shortly for on-demand viewing by the Church Historic department. I did get the autographs of the sisters just in case they become famous… Never know just how I will finance my retirement in my old age.

I want to wish all of you a happy “Moroni Day” as we have come to call it here. It was on the 22nd of September 1823, when the young Joseph Smith Jr. followed the invitation of his father in response to the visitation of the Angel Moroni and climbed the Hill Cumorah, and their find the ancient record of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which would later become the Book of Mormon. Last time I shared with you the changes being made to the Hill, but this time I will share a video we made just before the construction began that we share with guests not able to climb the hill. We were fortunate to also have been working at the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center on this great day.

We had some of our children come out to spend a bit of time with us. Jared, Jenna, and the little ones spent the better part of a week with us. We got to go to all of the church sites in NY and hade great experiences. We also went down to Watkins Glen to take the Gorge hike. It was great. And being down that far we had to do a quick drive by of Watkins Glen race way for our NASCAR Fans (Jared and the Girls). He would not even get out of the car to take a picture; we barely got him to roll down the window to take the photo. But I guess that he can now check that off his bucket list.

And speaking of Bucket list adventures, Amy FINALLY got to go to Niagara Falls. (It has only taken 9 months and a visit by her kids to make this happen) I will confess it was GREAT. It is hard to imagine just how powerful water can be until you are standing at he base of the falls, and have it crash (even just a little bit) against your back and think you have just been hit by a truck. We did the Maid of the Mist, and it was great …but the Cave of the Wind was a VERY up close and personal experience with the falls. I will include a short video on our web page. (Since it might be too large to attach to the letter)

We also had a chance while they were here to take a ride down the Erie canal and travel through a couple of locks. Our son had several cruses canceled on him throughout the Covid days, so for him he tried to make this a substitute for the cruse. Not sure it worked when we refused to go get and serve him a virgin Pina Colada. But none the less it was a great time on a very slow boat through a bit of American history.

It rains a fair amount here in Western New York in the fall months, and September had been no exception. But that has given me time to reflect on just how important the rain is here at the Grove. Talking with Bob, the Forester and caretaker of the Grove early on, we commented on how important the snow is in preparing it for the spring and summer. His response was interesting as he said that the snow was great to moisten the soil, but it was not until the rains came that the Grove would awaken. As I have watched the Grove, over this Spring and Summer, I have notice that when the Rain comes it cleans the air as well as the leaves and trees. But it also sinks into the ground and supplies the life sustaining fluid that allows the trees to grow and reach their potential.

As I considered this, it feels to me much like the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Atonement, like the rain, cleans us from the dirt and stains of sin and error. But as important as the cleansing power of the Atonement is, we cannot forget that each day, that same Atonement, like the rain, provides the LIVING water we all need to allow us to reach our full potential. It is this day-to-day nourishment that I have come to feel that sustains me through the winds and storms of life just like the stalwart trees here in the Sacred Grove.

So, until next time Know you are Loved

Sister and Elder Isom

Those things which shall come hearafter….

One of my favorite scriptures comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 58: 3-4

“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings…”

While this speaks of our enduring to the end, it has also come to mind as we have served here at the Hill Cumorah. Right now, there is a large amount of heavy construction going on as they remove the old pageant structures, in order to return the Hill to a more natural state. We are told that when it is finished it should have a feel and experience similar to what you have in the Sacred Grove. What a blessing it will be, but for now it is hard to see. We have had a lot of folks come in and express their sadness at the ending of the pageant and have shared tremendous stories and spiritual experiences they have felt. What a blessing for us to be able to hear of these enriching experiences.

The past several days have seen a lot of activity here. We had a visit from Elder Neal L Anderson of the 12 Apostles. He and his wife graciously shared a great devotional with us as they were touring all of the historical sites which are now part of his new assignment in the Quorum of the Twelve. He challenged all of us to “get it DEEP into your heart that Jesus is the Christ”. He said that opposition will come, but it can be one of our greatest learning experiences. Because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, our failures do not define us, but they should help refine us. We also had Gary Boatright, who is the operations director for the Church Historical Sites. The sisters got a chance to ask a number of questions about giving tours and assisting guests to have he most enjoyable experience. We also have started into our 2nd half season bus tours which is greatly welcomed, since the foot traffic here at the sites has slowed dramatically.

Yesterday, on our P-day, we got the chance to travel to Sodus NY to visit some folks in our ward here, that we had gotten acquainted with. It doesn’t hurt that she owns a QUILT shop, or at least that is what Amy says. It was a great relaxing drive, and on the way up we noticed a sign for the Apple Shed. Well, not wanting to let an opportunity pass, and being curious, we took a small detour, and glad we did. We found a great store that has everything apples and peaches. In addition, they make a very good sandwich. But the best thing is their Apple Cider Slushes (bet you did not know that was a thing). And … Wait for it…. They have baby Goats in their petting zoo. The people there were fantastic, they made us feel like family, not shoppers. WE WILL be back. We took our sandwiches up to the beach at Sodus point and there we had our lunch. Listing to the waves crashing on the shore, feeling the wind, and just enjoying the great day.

 I hesitate to say this, since Amy is still waiting for Summer to get here, but I think we are turning the corner into the fall season. We are already seeing some early change in leaf color on a few of the maple trees, and others are starting to have a number of their leaves drop. The trails in the Grove are starting to collect a few dead leaves and the undergrowth is starting to turn a bit browner. The mushrooms are continuing to appear, but that will be for a short season. It is amazing to me just how quickly thing change out here in New York. But soon we will be looking back to the time it was green and longing for it again. So best wishes to all wherever you are. And remember that you are Loved.

Sister and Elder Isom

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we got a chance to celebrate Amy’s Birthday Week with a small get together of all our missionaries, and served a Café Rio style taco bar, featuring traditional tortillas from Food City market in AZ. Thank you Teena for sending these, they were the hit of the evening