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.