Category Archives: Tender Mercy

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

IF YOU BUILD IT….

They do say if you build it, they will come. But even if you don’t build it, they still come. That was the case for the last several weeks here at the historic sites. July is the season when the Hill Cumorah pageant would normally take place, and many people had booked a tour to cover those weeks in hopes to be able to see the pageant for the last time in 2021. The decision to not hold a pageant was made in April but, many people had already booked tours and decided to come anyways. During the past 10 days we have out nearly 35,00 guests through the sites here in the Palmyra area. Kudos to all of the sisters and Sr. couples who mustered the strength, went without lunches or breaks, in order to accommodate our visitors. I guess I will use this as the excuse as to why it has been such a long time between my letters.

We have also had a number of BYU educators who joined these tours to share additional insights and they were also able to share devotionals with our sister missionaries. We also have had a number of general authorities came in small groups or with some with their family and grandkids to enjoy these sites. All in all, it’s been a wonderful time, and the last few days have felt very good as things have wound down just a little bit. I’m sure that we will look back in about 2 months at this time and wish that we were back in the busy season.

During all of this there have been some great experiences. One of the special experiences that came out of these recent tours is that I had the opportunity to take a blind sister on a tour. It was a humbling opportunity for me as we have many old buildings with artifacts in them and we are instructed, and instruct our guests, not to touch them. So, the first thing I thought was how can you give a tactile experience to someone lacking sight, while still building a spiritual experience. I learned that day that being able to “see” with our eyes is not the only definition of “sight”.

As we started, I could feel the spirit that she was feeling as she was able to run her hands across the ax marks on the outside of the Log home as I shared there early life, and how the Smiths worked hard to bring life to the raw land. We stood in the sacred space in the upstairs of the Log home where the Angel Moroni came to the young boy Joseph as I shared the visitation and Josephs call to the work. She felt the bricks of the hearth where the plates were hidden, and the table as I shard the coming of the plates into the frame home for the first time. But the greatest part of the experience was as we shared the first vision and I saw the impact of the spirit as her tears began to flow. What a tender mercy from God for me in my life.

The Grove continues to change as the season rolls on. Our early morning walks are truly enjoyable as we continue to see our small deer heard feeding, or watch the frogs, birds, and bees making their way. Seeing the grove floor turn from brow to green and now starting to make its way back to brown. And don’t get me started on the Mushrooms. They are starting to show up everywhere. Who would have guessed I would have turned into a mushroom hunter? But I will say, I harvested a few of the Chicken of the Woods, and they are GREAT!

So, I will leave it here for now and will tell you of the learnings we are gaining about the Erie Canal in the next visit.

Remember that you are loved and make you day a joyful one.

Sister and Elder Isom

P.S. We also learned that Joseph Smith had a favorite dog called Old Major. It is interesting that even today Old Major still watches over the Smith homestead.

A small season of rejoicing…

Well in the last episode I said that I would try to be a little bit better of getting these out on a weekly basis, but as you can see, I failed miserably. I don’t want to make a lot of excuses but on May 28th we opened up to live in person tours, which has been absolutely phenomenal. But at the same time, it has required a lot of work and long days. So here I am a few weeks later trying to update you on all of the things that have happened. So maybe we will start at the very beginning.

On the 28th of May we were able to open back up to live guests coming in to visit us here, and I must confess it was kind of challenging, and it did not help that that weekend just so happened to be the Memorial Day weekend.  We had thousands scheduled to visit the sites with appointments. We had done our best to organize as we needed to have scheduled anointments because we are limited to only 10 persons per tour per site. But we had an additional 30% of unscheduled people just show up hoping to be able to get a tour and see the homes etc. We worked tirelessly to be able to make this happen for all and giving them a wonderful experience. And it appears that this will carry for forward all the way through Labor Day. So I am not going to make any kind of promises to be here on a more frequently with updates.

I believe that we mentioned earlier in another post that we had made our way down to Watkins Glen to see the falls and the Gorge. At that time, the Gorge was closed but it has since reopened and so this last Wednesday we made our way down in an attempt to walk it. And it was worth every bit of the effort to get down there. The actual walk is just over a mile, and it winds on the side of the river and up along the edge where the river has cut through the rocks and created beautiful waterfalls. A couple of them we were able to walk behind and were able to reach out and feel cold fresh in water. There were steps and bridges along the way that gave scenic views that were spectacular. The most interesting thing to me was that that at the very top where the water was starting down the gorge it looked still and calm. You would never know that that was the same water that was rushing so hard and cuttings rocks to form the beautiful Falls. We made our way back to the end of the Gorge and there we found that the water was calm and peaceful as well. Interesting how sometimes in our lives the water is rushing, and we sometimes feel it carving our personal Gorges, but know that it is peaceful and still once it finds it way to the end.

Look closely at the small yellow lights. Hard to photograph a firefly….

The other night we went out for a walk just at sunset and we found that the fireflies had come out. This is the second time that we’ve had an opportunity to witness fireflies, as the first time we saw them was in Nauvoo. What a fun experience to watch these small lights dancing across the fields and at the edges of the Grove. We brought the sisters out, and they were so excited to witness this for the very first time. What a wonderful creation this world and its life are that our Father in Heaven has given us with so many interesting things to inspire and delight.

Early this week we were able to get up and take a for us early morning tour, for them a late night tour to a group of missionaries and ward members in Thailand. We had one elder who did the translation for the tour and did a wonderful job. We have learned that at the beginning of these translation tours it’s best to give the missionaries, or whoever is translating, the scriptures that we would like to have them read as we are in the Grove. We asked if he would read Joseph Smith History verses 15 through 17 when we asked him to. Just to give you some idea, as we go into the Grove, we have the opportunity of sharing the first vision with our guests who are on the virtual tour and it is powerful and moving experience. Well when we got to this point and invited him to share the testimony of Joseph Smith, we noticed that he would have a very difficult way through. We scan through the other members that were there we almost there be moved his spirit estimate of Jeff. Then realized that he wasn’t in the Grove at the parent sharing things that Joseph shared with the world brands college admission. What a blessing for us to be part of this on a daily basis as we get an opportunity to serve.

When you come on a mission you fully expect your time will be spent in serving others, but from time to time it is you that will be served by others, and one of those types was last night. We had a bus full of young people show up which we were able to accommodate on the tour of the sacred Grove. At the conclusion they asked our Mission President if it would be possible that they may be able to share a concert with us that night. And all what a concert it was. We were able to set with this group of young performers in gathering area near the Grove as they bore their testimony through song of the wonderful events that transpired there. I’m not sure I could have had a better payback for a long day of Labor than that blessed moment of time last evening. And what made it even better is that we found one of the young performing missionaries we get to know during our time in Nauvoo was part of the group. And even better she had found and married her sweetheart.

That will wrap it up for this post. Know that you are loved and that we wish you all health and happiness.

A Funny THing happened on the way…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister and Elder Isom

Live in 3…2…1….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh… and “May the 4th be with you”.

Finally…….

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

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

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

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

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 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