Category Archives: Sacred Grove

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

Facebook live & Zoom

Greetings from the sacred Grove. Well pretty close to the sacred Grove anyway, just on the other side of the parking lot. This past week we celebrated our 6th week on our mission, our 4th week in New York, and our 3rd week of conducting tours, so things have flown by quite quickly. It was an interesting week, and I will share a few details with you shortly. But as I promised I share with you a story about the Palmyra temple in my letter last week.

Last week we got a chance to go in and cleaned the temple, as they are only open for sealings as of yet. But that day we found out that they were moving to phase two and that there would be about 30 missionaries from the Syracuse mission coming to take out their endowments over the next few weeks. When we had concluded our cleaning, we got an opportunity to take a small tour of the temple and they shared with us a this very interesting story.

At the end of the hallway in the temple past the recommend desk, there is a clear see-through window. Now I don’t know of any other temple that has a see-through window, most all of them are stained glass or opaque. It seems that as the temple construction was being concluded President Hinckley made a trip and he found that that part of the temple faced towards the Sacred Grove. He told them that he wanted a clear window put in so that they could see the Grove. So they installed it and he returned a few weeks later, but he saw that looking out of the window the view of the Sacred Grove was obscured by as stand of trees growing on the grounds. These trees are protected by a land act and so they were not allowed to be cut down to clear a path for the view to be enhanced. So president Hinckley said that he was going to “pray that those trees would not be long lived that the view of the Grove would be able to be seen from the temple”. Well Interestingly enough within the next two years all of the trees that were in the path had died and had to be taken down. Now they couldn’t cut any other trees down to broaden the view, but they could continue to keep that path clear. And so today if you were to visit the Palmyra temple, you would be able to look out that window onto the Smith farm and into the sacred Grove.

We have been busy with torus at the Smith Farm and had a very interesting tour just the other day. I will steal Sister Isoms version of this from her missionary letter:

Today we did a regular Zoom call and a Facebook live at the same time. We had 16 regular groups set up with 41 connections and a missionary sign up that wanted around 80 connections. Well as you can only have 100 connections on a zoom call, so it was suggested that they reschedule. They did not want to do that as they had it all set and didn’t want to change if at all possible. They then had the bright idea that they would just do a Facebook live. Well, that has only been done 1 other time with a Facebook and regular tour at the same time. To do it you have to carry 2 phones at the same time. That is crazy sauce, I am just saying. Well, that is exactly what we did, Zoom and Facebook live at the same time. The other time they just carried a phone in each hand, but Elder Isom was able to rig up a stick to hold both phones so you could go up and down the stairs safely as well as walk in the snow without killing yourself. That was the worst thing I have done here and I will NOT ever do it again. You are trying to walk, talk, looking at the 2 screens to make sure they can see everything and keep everything in frame. Then you have Facebook live adding all kinds of comments about how the video has frozen, they can’t hear, it’s so beautiful, this is amazing etc. It was so distracting that you would forget what you were saying as you were trying to determine if the comments were actually issues or not. It didn’t take long for us to just ignore the comments. We had people on Zoom who knew that the Facebook live was going on but I don’t think they thought it would affect their tour.

Well as you might expect, even with all of the challenges we had, it was amazing how the Lord made up the needed difference so that both groups enjoyed their time on the tour. But sister Isom and I were a little worse for the ware. As she said she did not want to do that again. So you guessed it,  this coming week we have another Facebook live tour. Now we have to hope no one wants to sign up in that time slot for a Zoom tour. 😉 But we are ready. As she is always saying “Come what may and love it” 

They keep telling us that winter is almost over, and from time ot time we catch a glimmer that it might be turning the corner, but then it comes back with a vengeance. Several days last week in the single digits, but it looks like we might be approaching freezing on a few days this coming week. We can only hope.

This week we are beginning the efforts to prepare for the arrival of the first set of 5 companionships of sisters to join us for the spring to fall months. They stay here for 18 weeks, then head out to their full-time missions once they finish. They will come in a series of 4 waves and the last ones will leave us around November. It is funny how the young can fly south for the winter, but us old birds must have a bit of memory lapse as we stay put for the long cold winter.

Keep the faith Elder and Sister Isom.

Winter is here* Snowshoes

Well, we knew it was coming but it looks like winter is here. Up to this point we’ve only had a few inches of snow but earlier this past week it snowed about 12 inches. And this morning we woke up to – 4 degrees. Sister Isom said that she thought she knew cold up until this week, and while it’s not too bad when the sun’s out which only happens one day a week, when the wind starts to blow it is terribly cold.

So, as we said we had 12 inches of snow one morning and we had an early tour to do. A couple had been out just before us and we followed their footsteps in the snow for the first part of the tour. But they turned around and did not go up “Heartbreak Hill”. We made our way up it talking and telling the narrative and pushing upwards of 18 inches of snow that had drifted until we got up to the top. I think they should name it to “Cardiac Arrest Hill” because I know that my heart rate was up there for sure. We knew that something more needed to be done for the remailing tours that day and then Sister Isom was inspired. I want to share the story.

About five days before, one of the ladies who works in facilities management, randomly told us that she had brought in some snowshoes and put him in the closet just in case we would ever need them. Sister Isom remembered this, and so as you see in the picture below, she went out and had her very first snowshoeing expedition. She went up and down the path that we normally walk three times to be able to compact the snow enough for all to walk on. Of all the experiences we thought we would have on our mission; this was one that didn’t even make our list.

It’s been very exciting for us to see how that even during this time of Covid and the lockdown, God is able to keep his work going throughout the world. As you know we have not been able to give live tours as of yet, so all of our tours have been virtual. This is pretty challenging in just making sure that the technology and all of the things work together, but it also has given an opportunity for people all over the world, who would not have been able to come to these sites to view them, to hear of the great events that transpired, and feel of the spirit. This past week we were able to do tours with folks from the UK, many states in America, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, and even Hong Kong. Just this past Sunday we had 17 countries and over 5500 people. The reach of the message is very broad.

One of our favorite ones was a German youth group of about 250 that joined us as part of their stake youth conference. What was interesting about this one was that they had a simultaneous translation in German that was done through clicking on a language channel in the Zoom meeting. We always wonder how the spirit comes through over the virtual tours, even when we felt inadequate, and now seeing this helps me know that our Father in Heaven has the ability to press the “Spirit” button on our tours to allow it to come through.

Sister Isom has been able to send out pictures of the Grove, the log home, the Sacred Grove, and the Palmyra temple from the day of their tour to the organizers of the tours that we have been fortunate enough to conduct. They have been incredibly grateful for this and have shared it with all of the members who were on the tour so that they could have a visual reminder of the day that they spent in the Grove and on the Smith farm. Attached you will see a few of those pictures.

We’ve also been working to improve the tours and you will see another picture of Sister Isom she checked her connectivity strength to see how well the signals are in different parts of the tour. We have been very fortunate that our phones and our phone plan have worked outstanding here and we’ve had virtually no issues. Unfortunately, that can’t be said for all of the couples.

Well, that’ll wrap it up for this week we had some tremendous experiences, we feel the spirit of these places and we’re even beginning to feel like we have a small grasp upon the tremendous events that happened here. We will wish you a good week and the blessings of God be upon you and your families.

Elder and Sister Isom 

P.S. Tune in Next week for a tremendous story about the Palmyra Temple and President Hinkley.

Special moment

Well, it’s now almost one month into our mission but we’ve only been on site for 2 weeks, but a lot has happened in a short time. It didn’t take long before they put us into the rotation of giving tours via zoom to people from all over the world. Of course, as you can imagine this was a little bit of a steep learning curve for us to know how to present these sacred events in a way that the spirit could be felt over a video call. And while some of the tours didn’t go as we had hoped they would, it was amazing how people could still feel the power of the place and the and the message that was shared.

So, I will have Amy share with you a special monument she had.

 So this was our second day of giving tours and this was our 3rd tour we had given while being here. It was going to be a challenge as there was a tour right before us and right after us. Our tour started at 9:45 but we couldn’t use the link until 9:42 because of the other tour before us. We share the same link so we can’t log in and start until the tour before us is finished. But we don’t know when they finish as we start in the welcome center and end in the grove. So being a little stressed we had a challenge logging in. We were just leaving the welcome center as the other tour right behind us was beginning on the Spanish link. This may not seem like a big deal but it’s like having somebody breathing down your neck when you don’t know what you’re doing. We had offered a prayer that all would go well, but as the tour went on, it just didn’t seem to be flowing well and I couldn’t feel the spirit which was a little challenging for me. As we finished in the Grove and went out for questions and answers, they thanked us and were very kind. But I still didn’t have a feeling of peace that we had conveyed the message the way we had previously. On top of all of this it was a very snowy cold morning with no sunshine, just clouds. Being from Phoenix that in and of itself tends to be a little dreary. I stopped to offer a prayer as I left the Grove asking Heavenly Father for his forgiveness as the tour had not gone as planned. I had no sooner finished praying than the clouds parted, and the sun shone through, and I could feel Heavenly Father saying to me, “All is well, I will take care of the details of my work, and your efforts are acceptable to me”. What great comfort came to my heart knowing that we had another tour in just a few minutes to be able to go forward in faith knowing that all was well that like Joseph, I was right with my Heavenly Father.

This past Sunday in our sacrament meeting one of the sisters, who has been here for a while, gave a great lesson talking about the different trees in the Grove and how she has come to be “a tree hugger”. She says she likes to look at the trees and think about what caused them to grow the way that they did. Whether they were tall straight and strong, or they had lost parts and had to struggle around other trees and maybe grow sideways for a period of time. She likened this to our lives how that the events that happened to us shape us in causes to grow but she made a note that no matter what, the trees always grew up trying to reach for the sun. And I think that’s inspiring to think when we are in trouble in our lives are having hard times that we too can reach up. We need to always grow reaching towards the light and not let the darkness get us down.

During our walks in the Grove this week we ran into two individuals. This is kind of unusual to find others besides us out walking in the Grove as there was snow and it’s quite cold. But the one young lady that we found had come there because she and her family were preparing to move to Utah and she was there to say goodbye to the Grove, a place that had been very special to her over the years. Another gentleman who had been making deliveries in New York found himself in the Grove as well. As we visited with them and they shared some of their stories we let them know that while this Grove is very special, that they could find their own Grove’s, that place where they can again feel that same spirit and love from their Father in Heaven as Joseph had done here so many years ago and encourage them to find it wherever they may be.

This past week we had nearly 200,000 viewers of our virtual tours. Now that is a lot more than we do on a normal week, but it was due to the fact that Al Carraway (the Tattooed Mormon) did a live streaming of the Smith Farm tour on her Face book and Instagram accounts simultaneously and had 99,000 of her viewers attend the event.  Well as a parting thought we’ve mentioned a couple of times here that it was cold sitting here writing this this morning it’s 10 degrees outside and it is actually zero with the wind chill. But the other day as we were walking through the Grove we saw birds nesting in the trees. Telling us that spring was just around the corner. Hopefully it’s not a very long corner that it is round and that it will be here soon.

Stay safe and warm!

Elder and Sister Isom