Category Archives: Whitmer Farm

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

Greetings from the Grove NY and PA Historical Sites

Well spring keeps trying to tease us just a little tiny bit. This week we had weather that was up into the high 40s and the snow starts melting, but just as quickly as it melded, the evenings got cold and windy, and it froze so that we had some very slippery conditions on some of our tours. But in spite of these small weather challenges it has been great.

We had one tour this week that we had two wards from the United Kingdom, one of them was from the York area. At the conclusion of the tour one of the young men, well not so young now, wrote in the chat “do you know Jared Isom who served his mission in Leeds in 2003 to 2005”. Well of course we did, that’s our son. When we told him that it was our son, he shared with us that he was his MTC mission companion in Preston, and that he had a great time being together and respect for him. Later that day when we got a chance to talk to our son about it, sure enough he remembered him as well. It just goes to show what a small world this can be when you are connected through the gospel.

We finally got a chance this week to spend quite a bit of time down at the Peter Whitmer farm. It is out in the middle of nowhere and this site has a tremendous connection to a lot of the history of the early church. Not only is this where the last part of the Book of Mormon was translated, but it was also where the three witnesses were able to see the gold plates, and the church was officially organized. It served as the headquarters of the church for about a year and a half before the saints headed to “the Ohio”. As we were doing one of our tours that day, Sister Isom shared her testimony, as she does in all of our tours, but this one became very special. Sometimes you really don’t think much about what it is that you have said, but you do think about how the spirit has touched your heart and you hope that it is touched someone else’s heart.

There was one young woman on this tour who had actually lived in this area and had recently moved away. When we talked to her at the beginning of the tour she had said that she had come on so that she could remember the place, but didn’t speak much more of it than that. Later we got an email message back from her, after Sister Isom had shared some photos of our tour with her, and she mentioned how she needed the words that were shared in her testimony. That it brought her to understand that even though she was away from family and friends and circumstances that were familiar for her, that the Lord knew her. That she, like the early Saints, would have an opportunity to spread the word in a new and different area to new and different friends. I think she was a little bit homesick, but at the end of this I think that she felt much better about the decision that she had to make to change locations.

As I mentioned we got to spend quite a bit of time down to the Whitmer farm and it is way out in the boonies.  It is far away from anything else and we must rely on Internet connection through Wi-Fi out there to do our tours. Unfortunately, it can be a little bit sporadic depending on how many cows are drinking out of the ditch, or how many squirrels are out looking for nuts rather than spinning the wheels. This past Sunday happened to be one of those days. We got down there, and we had an opportunity to assist the couple that was there as they prepared to do an Instagram and Facebook live tour for Al Carraway. When it came time, her phones would not connect well enough to the main Internet connection and kept being dropped from the network. Fortunately, we were able to utilize a phone hotspot connection that was strong enough to allow her to complete the tour that she had organized for her followers. Technology, you gotta love it! (or not)

Well, that was the bright spot as the next tour we had was an Instagram live that the Institute program has in place. These had ben done so far at the Grandin building and the Sacred Grove without any issues. Unfortunately, we were not as blessed. As we went through the process of delivering the tour, about halfway through the connections failed completely and the live broadcast was ended. We are in the process of working with the folks at the Institute to arrange a little bit different process or program to be able to allow them to have the privilege of seeing the Whitmer farm at some future date.

As I have been thinking about some of those early members of the church, and how great of a desire or “will” they had to be able to do or be part of the early restoration of the church. I’ve come to understand that for some of them, when they moved from the will to the “will you” in acting on the invitation of the Lord, began to lose some of that desire and some of that spark and were no longer able to carry on being aligned with the restored gospel. I think this has helped me to better understand that when these challenges come, of weather or technology, that try to move me away from the spirit of this place, if I will maintain the “will you” attitude, and do all the things that I can do, that is when I see the tremendous miracles that the Lord provides, in touching the hearts of those that need to be touched, as well as ensuring that the message is received the way that He would have it received. This has been such a great blessing and a testimony builder for both of us as we now begin our 7th week here in Palmyra.

In closing, we got a picture from our daughter this week of our grandsons who were playing in the pool, as we were out here trudging in the snow and 28 degrees. There really is something not quite exactly right with that picture 🙂 So we will close for this week and wish you the blessings of heaven and hope that your week goes well.

Love Elder and Sister Isom

P.S The first set of Young Sister Missionaries arrived this past week and are finishing their quarantine. Hope to have them up and going by end of next week. How exciting for them as well as us.

she loves the snow

Well another great week here in the New York area. I never thought I would say this, or I never thought I’d even hear this, but the other day Sister Isom told me that she loves the snow! Now this is coming from the woman who gets cold when it falls below 80 degrees, but what she loves is when the large snowflakes fall, and she sees the beauty they create around her. This week she got her wish. We had a couple of very strong snowstorms come through the area laying down a good amount of snow, and this snow was good enough to be able to build a snowman with, but she hasn’t checked that off of her bucket list yet.

Speaking of snowstorms, we had an interesting set of tours the other day. As we start our tours, we begin in the welcome center which is a beautiful enclosed warm comfortable area. Then we make our way just a short distance down the road to the Smith log home, which is also nice and warm. Then we go about the length of a football field, down to the frame home, again warm and comfortable. Then we make our way up into the Sacred Grove which is about 1 ½ times that distance, and it is a little bit uphill, and there is no shelter from the wind or the snow at that point. But the payoff at the end of that road is being able to go into the Grove, which is absolutely beautiful, and even when the snow was falling the canopy of the trees without leaves still protects you quite a bit.

Well the tour started out in what I would say were almost Blizzard conditions, so we did quite a bit inside of the welcome center. We then made our way through the heavy snow into the log home where we completed our dialogue, then down the road to the frame home. Halfway down the road we stop to take a view of the Palmyra temple on the hillside, it is lovely, and on this day the snow began to let up just enough so that you could get a view of the temple. Then we preceded down to the frame home in what then was a normal snow, if you can envision what a normal snow would be like. After we finished our conversations in the frame home, we began to make our way towards the Grove, and the snow had stopped. When we got into the Sacred Grove we were blessed with a clearing Sky and a view of the beautiful sun as it made its way through the canopy of the trees.

Now this would have been a blessing in and of itself if this had happened just one time, but the same thing happened on all three tours that we did that day. I say on all three tours, but what I should have said is the 1st two were that way. The third tour started out in beautiful clear sunny weather and we had a wonderful experience in the Grove. Once we completed our time in the Grove we started back and guess what, you got it, the snow started to fall again and by the time we made it back to the welcome center we were again in Blizzard conditions. We see and talk about every day how the hand of the Lord was in all of the details to bring forth the restoration of the gospel, but what we also see is how the hand of the Lord is in the details of allowing us to be able to share the message of the restoration throughout the world. That neither weather nor technology challenges are going to stop his work from rolling forth.

And Speaking of technology issues, we had the opportunity of doing our first series of tours down at the Peter Whitmer farm this week. This is a beautiful experience as the farmer setting out virtually in the middle of nowhere and so peaceful and calm and has such a special spirit about it. A think about how much of the restoration really did take place there. This is the place where the plates were shown to the three witnesses, where the last third of the Book of Mormon was completed, where 19 revelations of the doctrine covenants were received, the church was organized, and the first three conferences of the church were held here on the Whitmer farm. But as I said we struggled a little bit with technology as the phone signals are very weak out there, and when we try to use the Wi-Fi that doesn’t quite reach all the way into the log home. On top of that at the end of the tour we stream a video which does take up a lot of bandwidth.

Well on our first tour we had our meeting drop two time, we lost sound a couple of times, the video stream froze for a while, and we felt so sorry for those who had joined us. At the end of this session we were devastated and were left wondering if there was any way we were going to be able to complete these tours for the remaining 5 groups and have them in enjoy and feel the spirit of the place. Well after a prayer to our Father in Heaven the next 5 tours went off without any technological issues. Again, still wondering if we had done all that we could, we received what I would say is a manifestation or an answer to our prayers from our Father in Heaven. It had been overcast and light snow all day long, but at the conclusion of our last tour we turned around, the clouds parted for just a moment, and the sun came gleaming through onto the Whitmer farmhouse. It was as if the Lord was saying “it’s my work you’ve done your best, I will do the rest”. And as quickly as the sun came out, the clouds gathered and obscured it again.

It has been a tremendous blessing to be able to watch the work as it moves forward and to be able to speak to people all around the world and to have these wonderful blessing. But one of the things that is always so special are the questions that we receive at the end of the tours. Many times, these questions are from adults wanting to know about aspects of the gospel or parts of the story that we’ve shared with them. But the most tender questions come from the children. The other day we had a young girl maybe six years old and her question was “why were people so mean to Joseph?” What a profound question for all of us to ask in our own lives. Are we mean to those that we don’t understand, or that are slightly different than us, or that maybe believe something just a bit different than we do? Is there an opportunity that we can, as this young girl suggests, be a little bit kinder to those around us? Maybe that’s where we’ll leave off so we all can ponder upon this question in our own lives this week.

Well, I’ve attached a few pictures because they say a picture speaks A 1000 words, although I think I’ve already put 1000 words into this. We will talk to you next week and wish you the blessings of the Lord as you go about your activities this week.

Love Sister and Elder Isom