Category Archives: Tender Mercy

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

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