3.25.2018

The OPPORTUNITY for MINISTERING



image from lds.org

"Whoop-de-do! The Gospel’s true!"

Growing up one member would use this declaration at the beginning of every testimony he bore.  As a child, it was humorous and endearing.  As an adult I think, "Amen!"  The gospel is something to be excited about, something to cheer for.  

President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “This is a season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward.  What a wonderful time it is for each of us to do his or her small part in moving the work of the Lord on to its magnificent destiny(CR Oct. 1997)." 

Likewise, Bishop H. David Burtain declared, “As we recognize and act on our opportunities, progress, happiness, and spiritual growth follow.  We need to be involved in moving the Lord’s work forward (CR Oct. 1998)." 

You know when you are drawn to a word and then seem to hear it again and again fora while?  The word opportunity has been that word for me lately.  An opportunity is a "suitable time combined with other favorable circumstances (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)."  

Further we learn this about the origins of the word opportunity: 

“The word opportunity comes from the Latin term opportunitas, which is composed of two other terms: ob, meaning “toward”, and portus, meaning “port”.  This word came about in the realm of navigation, where sailors used the phrase ob portus to denote the best combination of wind, current, and tide to sail to port. However, the only way to seize such weather conditions was if the vessel’s captain had already sighted the port of destination. Knowing the weather conditions without knowing the destination was useless. Therefore, a ship was in a state of opportunitas when its captain had decided where to go and knew how to get there. Later, however, the word evolved in a different direction to denote only external conditions while excluding the individual who would seize them (Leramero)."

As ministering sisters, we know our destination!  We know the port to which we need to land:  in the homes of those for whom we have stewardship.  As we prepare ourselves spiritually to serve in this capacity, we are then ready to sail when the wind, current and tide align and we are able to assist those we serve.  

"The Savior calls His disciples to work with Him in His ministry, giving them the opportunity to serve others and become more like Him...By assigning our women to do visiting teaching, we give them the opportunity to develop the pure love of Christ, which can be the greatest blessing of their lives (Daughters in my Kingdom, pp.105, 120." 

Called to be ministering is not just something we are asked so we can have more to do on our endless list of tasks.  The Lord gives us, His children, opportunities to learn and to grow so we can live with Him again.  Ministering is one of those opportunities and when we are prepared, He can use us to fulfill His great purpose in bringing His children home. 



In Alma 19:16-17  we read of one young woman who was ready for her opportunity.
  

16 And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father— 17 Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people. 

Abish had prepared herself spiritually so when the opportunity arose she was ready to spread the word, ready to be a blessing to the people and she acknowledged the Lord's hand in creating such an opportunity.  This is our call as ministering sisters, to be thus prepared that we, too, can recognize the Lord's hand and take advantage of the opportunities He can (and will) place before us! 

“Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another. Through visiting teaching, the Relief Society president helps the bishop identify and resolve short-term and long-term needs of the sisters and their families” (Handbook 2, 9.5).

A brief note on the new visiting teaching focus: 
In 1916 the Relief Society established that the sisters would take a message into the homes of those they visited.  In 1923 there was instituted a uniform message churchwide.  For 95 years the leaders have been directing this message.  That's a long time! As our stake Relief Society President has expressed, it's like the leaders are "taking off the training wheels."  This does not mean we don't go into the homes of our sisters.  We need to be going into the homes of our sisters.  This new focus is simply another opportunity the Lord is giving us to use personal revelation in blessing the lives of those we visit.  This new focus is not about doing less, this is about being more! 

"Since each sister's circumstances are different, visiting teachers need specific guidance from the Holy Ghost so they can know how best to help each one (Daughters in my Kingdom, p. 114)." 

As Elder Uchtdorf reminded us at the last conference, "No one else is responsible for your personal journey.  The Savior will help you and prepare the way before you, but the commitment to follow Him and keep His commandments must come from you.  This is your soul burden, your sole privilege.  This is your great adventure. Please heed the call of your Savior.  Follow Him  (emphasis added)."  

Ministering is our opportunity, a part of our great adventure.  We must prepare ourselves so that when the tide changes and the weather is right, we will be there to minister to the ones we are called to serve. 

 - - - - - - 


"The Lord has established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help you in this commitment to serve God and fellowmen.  Its purpose is to encourage, teach, lift and inspire.  This wonderful Church provides opportunities for you to exercise compassion, reach out to others, and renew and keep sacred covenants.  It is designed to bless your life and improve your home, community and nation…  Lend your talents to His wonderful work.  Reach out, encourage, heal and support all who desire to feel and heed the yearning for our supernal home.  Let us join together in this glorious pilgrimage to heavenly climes."  Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, CR October 2017


2.19.2018

Paradox and the Gift of Discernment


Paradoxes of the Gospel
For years I have been fascinated with the many paradoxes of the gospel.  For example, we've been asked to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, but also to not run faster than is needful.  We have been taught to "let you light shine that they may see your good works" and yet also warned to not "fast as the publicans, to be seen of men."  Men are that they might have joy, but there must be opposition in all things.  If we lose our life, we shall find it.  When we are weak, then we are strong.  The last shall be first and the first shall be last.  The Lord commands us to judge not and yet Moroni teaches us the way to judge.  In all of these paradoxes, we must find balance.  It's in this last paradox about judging that I think we find our answer on how to do that.

In D&C 46 we learn that we are given spiritual gifts so that we might not be deceived.  One of those spiritual gifts is the gift of discernment.  On the surface this gift is the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.  In Moroni chapter 7, Moroni teaches that it is with the light of Christ that we are to judge, or to discern.  Every person who comes to the earth is given this light by which to judge good and evil.  Only after the gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed upon us can we begin to develop the gift of discernment, the ability "to see things not visible and feel things not tangible." Elder Bednar expands our understanding by teaching that the gift of discernment is also the ability to see the good and bad in others and ourselves.  It is by strengthening this ability in us that we learn to balance the paradoxes and all that we need to do in this life to learn and grow to become like our Father in Heaven.

Adam and Eve:  The First to Discern
Adam and Eve are the first and greatest example of developing this gift.  They transgressed the first commandment (partaking of the fruit)..."and becoming as Gods, knowing good and evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good."  This decision caused Adam and Eve to become discerning agents - - agents unto themselves, agents to act and not be acted upon.  It wasn't until after this choice that Eve understood "because of my transgression my eyes are opened and in this life I shall have joy (Moses 5:10)."

Did they really make a wrong choice?  Well, yes.  They did not obey the commandment of God.  However, I believe that they would have had to take the fruit eventually in order to experience "opposition in all things (2 Ne. 2)." Maybe their transgression lied more in the fact that they listened to the wrong voice. "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat," Eve says (Moses 4:19).  The choice may not have been wrong, but the timing and the way in which it was made likely was the transgression here, yet our Father still provided the way in which we could repent and be redeemed because of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Learning to discern, then, is obviously a large part of why we are here in mortality; for in this lesson from our first parents we learn that even they were beguiled by "one who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light" (2 Nephi 9:9).

Examples of  Using the Gift of Discernment
Allow me to share a personal example first.  I am an emotional person.  I cry easily and readily.  When I feel the Spirit in my life, I am often drawn to tears.  From the time I was young I received mixed messages about this.  I was told frequently to pull myself together.  And yet, I remember once bearing my testimony at a youth conference and no tears came.  I was so thrilled I ran home to share the news and was told, "Well, the spirit must not have been there." I was confused and have had to practice all of my life to discern if the tears truly were coming from the spirit or if they were due to nervousness, sleep deprivation (my latest plight), sadness, or some other emotion.  Likewise, those who hear me speak and see these tears have to discern for themselves where they are coming from and judge accordingly.

Another example can be found in how we sustain our leaders.  President Eyring states, "Without [the faith of the members], the bishop, who was called of God, will find it harder to get the revelation he needs to help them.  He will not succeed without the faith of the members to sustain him ."  In Moroni chapter 7 we learn that the Lord has sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ, and in Christ there should come every good thing.  Likewise, our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, teaches, "It is the right of [our leaders] to obtain the word of God with regard to the duties of their presidencies that they may more effectually carry out His holy purposes. [Leaders} seek to understand the will of God, and then carry it out;  and see that is it carried out by those over whom [they] have the charge."  Sustaining our leaders, however, requires that we become discerning agents.  This involves not only taking our leaders' words and actions by faith, but also taking their words and actions we don't understand and determining what to do with those feelings. 

Sheri Dew shares a beautiful story of wrestling with the policy on children of gay couples not having the opportunity to be baptized.  Without doubting her leaders, she began to search in the scriptures, deepen her prayers and attend the temple to seek understanding of the doctrinal basis behind the policy.  Eventually, she came to a clear understanding for herself and was then more able to support and even defend this policy.  Similarly, but with somewhat different results, President Eyring shared another example. When he was a bishop, President Eyring had a young man come to him for counsel and counsel was given.  A week later the young man returned and said, in essence, "Bishop, that counsel you gave was wrong.  Let't try again. (The Lord Leads...)."  Both Sister Dew and this young man were discerning agents as they sought answers to their questions.  In their quests they strengthened the gift of discernment in their lives.

More examples can be found in the scriptures.  In the early day of the Church, many spiritual manifestations were upon the earth.  The saints were confused in how to tell the difference between those associated with the spirit of God and other sources.  In D&C 50 we learn that we reason together and come to a clear understanding of the truth.

The Sons of Mosiah were men of sound understanding, searching the scriptures, praying and fasting much so they would be able to discern. Ammon's ability to discern the thoughts of King Lamoni and teach his people are a result of that spiritual preparation (see Alma 17:2-3, 18:18).

We can develop this "supernal gift of discernment" by following these examples to "search diligently in the light."  Ultimately, it is the light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost that show us the way to navigate the many voices and paradoxes we must traverse.  Most of the time the decisions aren't going to be between good and evil, but much more subtle.

The Gift of Discernment:  Love and Practice
One more paradoxical story from the scriptures may help to illuminate this  principle.  We all know the story of Mary and Martha.  When the Lord seemingly reprimands Martha I don't believe he is not telling her that Mary is better than her (He never compares His children that way!).  Martha was judging her sister, criticizing her choice at the time.  Maybe the Lord was teaching Martha about using the gift of discernment and teaching us all that sometimes it is needful to serve physically and other times it is needful to sit at Jesus' feet and be still.  Discernment will always come from a place of love, wherein judging will come from a place of criticism, disgust, fear, envy or even hate.

When we judge others or worry about making the right decision, we can become paralyzed with fear.  In order to become discerning agents we must push that fear aside, fill our hearts with love, and practice!  This past weekend Ethan had a basketball game.  His dad had motivated him to just shoot basket.  When that little boy got on that court I could see his eager desire and energy as he tried to make a basket, shot after shot after shot.  After the game, J said, "Hey good job shooting out there!"  Ethan responded, "But I didn't make any baskets." J's response hit me, "You don't make shots by not shooting!"  It's the same with developing the gift of discernment.  We will make mistakes and sometimes listen to the wrong voices, but we will never learn if we don't try.

Mortality is the time to try!  Adam and Even came to learn and understand that we needed this probationary time on earth to learn how to discern our Father's voice from Satan's.  We all needed a chance to practice so we could become like the Gods, knowing good and evil.  And so, let us fill our hearts with love so that we can "chase away the darkness." Let us become discerning agents, acting for ourselves and not being acted upon.  Let us love one another and recognize that we are all just practicing and learning to play the game.

 - - - - - 

"He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love (1 John 4:8)."

1.30.2018

"Good Job, Honey"

image from Polyvore


I just got a phone call from my friend. 

As I answered, I heard her say, "Good job, Honey." 

She was speaking to her 3 year old, and yet it was just what I needed to hear.

Good job!  You got out of bed! 

Good job!  You read with your boys.

Good job!  You took the time to visit with a friend, someone you haven't had time to visit with lately.

Good job!  You made dinner!

Good job!  You just tried to smooth over some hurt feelings and did your best even if things still aren't settled.

Good job!  You took care of your baby's needs....all.day.long.

Good job!  You listened to your daughter talk about her day even though you were distracted by what you thought were weightier matters.

Good job!  Good job! Good job!

 My friend and I joked that maybe we could record those words and put them on replay.  Haha!

In reality, we all need someone on the other end of the phone telling us these words each and every day!  For most of us, the demands placed upon our shoulders are almost too much to bear.  We have to make decisions that affect other people, we meet the needs of those who can't help themselves, we manage the home relentlessly trying to make our reality match our ideals.  This is life.  And it's a good life.  But sometimes we just need someone to say, "Good job, Honey." 

Fortunately, we all have Someone to do just that....if we will take the time to listen for it. 

I recently reread a talk by Sister Sheri L. Dew, you may remember it.  She was speaking to the students of BYU-Idaho in May of last year.  She encouraged the students to ask two questions: 

1) How does the Lord speak to you, what does it feel or sound like? 

2) How does the Lord feel about you?  

These are such essential questions because I bet when we ask them we will receive an answer something like this,  "Good job, Honey.  I love you and am so proud of you."  I bet we will feel love, peace, satisfaction, contentment and joy.  I bet at the end of the day, if we truly turn to Him, He will give us that message we may not get from anywhere else.  And isn't it His love and approval that really matters most?  If I could just allow myself to feel that at the end of every day, I know my doubts and fears would subside.  I have that hope, anyway.

It was a simple call from a friend and I got a message from the Lord.
Thank you.

 -   -   -   -   - 

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." 
Matthew 25:21

10.21.2017

Another Look at Mary & Martha



Hi again!  Life has been a whirlwind of craziness at our house these past couple of months.  With a new calling, homeschooling, a new baby, and a few teenagers, I've found myself more like Martha than Mary lately.  And though I have had moments of peace and the spirit, I haven't had time to sit in it awhile, to savor them, as Mary seemed to do at Jesus' feet that day.

In thinking of this I wondered what other accounts of Martha we have and in each one have learned a little bit more about the personalities of Mary and Martha.  Generally when discussing these two women in the scriptures we devolve into subjects such as comparison, judging others, and balancing our lives by taking moments to hear the word of the Lord in our lives.  A dear friend of mine recently wrote a beautiful post touching on these themes.

After the incident where the Savior seems to reprimand Martha (Luke 10), we read of the death of the sisters' brother, Lazarus.  As Jesus approaches, Martha runs out to meet him and asks, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (John 11:21)."  Again, we see Martha seemingly complaining about her situation.  She and Jesus then have a discussion of the resurrection and Martha testifies of the truth of that principle, believing Jesus will make things right. 

And then something I hadn't remembered happens.  Martha goes in to Mary and tells her Jesus is asking for her.  Then Mary asks the same question, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (John 11:32)."  Interestingly, the Lord does not have the same discussion with her that He had with Martha.  Instead, "He groaned in spirit, and was troubled...Jesus wept (John 11:33,35)."  Do we think when Mary asks this same question that she is complaining?  Why do we think so with Martha but not with Mary?  And why does Jesus have a frank conversation with Martha but not the same with Mary? 

Oftentimes I think we negatively refer to ourselves as Martha (even as I did above).  Yet, Martha is a person of action and problem-solving. She wants to put her hands to the grindstone and get things done. (In a later account, Martha is again serving the dinner while Mary is anointing the Savior with oil.  See John 12.)  To me she has an inquisitive mind and wants to discuss the principles of the gospel and see them applied.  Mary, on the other hand, appears to be more contemplative, more tender and sensitive.  Maybe she's more of an observer rather than an active seeker in the same way Martha is.  Either way, Jesus dealt with them in their own way.  He knew how they needed to be comforted in their time of need. 

Likewise, He will speak to and comfort each of us in the way we hear, the way we need.  He knows us each so intently.  Yes, there are times when we need someone to cry with us and other times when we need someone to speak frankly to us.  But we also each have our own unique personalities and the Lord knows that!  He knows what we need to hear and HOW we need to hear it.  I tend to doubt this sometimes.  I wonder why I don't hear things the same way someone else might.  Or I doubt the way He is speaking to me because maybe it's just me being too sensitive or something.  I want to gain that greater confidence in myself and my Savior to know His voice each time. I want to trust that He does know me, personally and intimately.  He knows me enough to come to where I am and be the friend I need. 

I've just loved this new perspective on these two "certain women" in the scriptures.  I love seeing their strengths and their weakness portrayed in a way that I can understand.  I love each of their unique personalities and testimonies of their Savior and His plan.  These stories give me vision to be who I am and to listen the way I know how.  I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me and is patient with me, even when I take my complaints to Him.  I now He will listen, now I pray I will do the same!

 - - - - - - - 
"Certain women are disciples centered in the Savior Jesus Christ and have hope through the promise of His atoning sacrifice."  
Linda K. Burton, CR April 2017

8.15.2017

Eastern Trip: Yellowstone (Final Day!)


It was bittersweet today as we made our final trek home through Yellowstone.  We could have split this up in two days, but I think we were all ready to go home.  And yet, I'd also underestimated just how much our kids would LOVE Yellowstone.  We wanted to stop and see everything!   We saw three bears! One bear was right in front of our path on the road, which was way cool!  And then the beautiful scenery was just breathtaking.  It was good to just drive through and see all the places we want to visit in the future...since we live so close now.  


To sum up:  This trip was amazing!  Sure there were a few hiccups and rough moments, but for the most part it was just a fun family-bonding adventure.  We came home loving each other a little bit more and appreciating the things we have.  After being in our home we could't believe we'd survived in such a small space for so long!  J. is officially sick of driving.  The baby is not so sure about life without the constant hum of RV travel.  The kids are anxious to see their friend and start school.  I feel fully satisfied with the summer we had and so grateful to have fulfilled one of my longest dreams!  


Before we left we read the talk, "Foundations of Faith," by Elder Quentin L. Cook.  In the talk he asks three questions that we posted as a focus for our trip: 

Is Jesus Christ Divine? 

Is the Book of Mormon True? 

Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration? 

Afterwards in talking about our favorite parts of the trip and these questions, it was so neat to hear the testimonies of our children.  Each of them had something to share, a moment when they could answer "Yes" to these questions.  I am so grateful that happened for them!  


For me, my testimony was strengthened concerning the doctrine of eternal families.  Being with my family and watching them all grow closer together was all made possible because of these three questions being answered in the affirmative.  

The plan of Jesus Christ is a plan about the family, His family.  He desires all of us to return to our Father in Heaven and His sacrifice was for that purpose. 

The Book of Mormon is about a family and we are strengthened as families as we read the words of scripture together. 

Joseph Smith restored the gospel upon the earth.  Because of his faith and sacrifices we have the sealing power upon the earth today.  This sealing power binds families together and to God.  


So, yes, this was a fun adventure, but ultimately these last three weeks were an opportunity for growing closer together - - closer to one another, closer to God; "making home a part of heaven, where we want to stay (Hymns #298)."

 - - - - - -

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 
 - Matthew 18:18 - 

Eastern Trip: Badlands & Mount Rushmore


On our way to Mount Rushmore we decided to drive through Badlands National Park.


Our boys especially loved these rock formations and climbing all over them.  



What a beautiful country we live in!   


After stopping for dinner at Five Guys (yum!) we made it to Mount Rushmore.  The kids were so excited to see this.  The older kids had been there when they were very, very little (John had some memories of it).  So it was fun to revisit this remarkable National Landmark.  


We stayed for the lighting ceremony.  The coolest part about that was that they showed a video which basically showed everything we'd just visited - - Arlington, Statue of Liberty, DC Memorials & Monuments, etc.  It was a perfect recap and ending to our trip!  

Eastern Trip: Driving and Little House on the Prairie


Today was another long driving day...to a place kind of in the middle of nowhere.  Ethan, David and I had read the first few of the Little House on the Prairie series together and were excited to see where Laura had actually lived.


We were most excited about the sod house they'd lived in (from On the Banks of Plum Creek).  However, when we got there we realized that the house doesn't actually exist, there's just in indentation in the ground where it used to be.


So, the three of us took a tour of the museum which has a replica of the house.  It was actually a really cool museum.



We didn't have a whole lot of time before closing because of our driving adventures earlier in the day.


As we made our way to Walnut Grove, the GPS led us to a closed road.  Well, J. ignored the signs and continued driving....only to find more "Closed Road" signs.  Again, he bypassed them.
Finally we met a construction worker who was like, "I don't know, Man.   You better get off this road cuz there's nothing past this and those guys comin' right now will not be happy if you're here.  If I were you, I'd go back and follow the signs."


Well, what do you do when you're in an RV and there's nowhere to turn around?  You drive backwards for awhile until you find a place where you can do a 15-point turn (never learned that one in driver's ed!).  Somehow J. managed to get us out of there and onto safer roads again. It was quite the adventure!


Because we were behind in our schedule, we decided to skip De Smet, another Little House site and head toward Mount Rushmore.  We ended up staying at a Walmart that night where the boys made up their own kind of fun (who needs grass and a playground?!).

8.10.2017

Eastern Trip: Slow Down Day


Our kids loved having a full day of driving in the RV again.  We are all extremely tired.  We slept at a Walmart last night.  It was a bit hazy as to whether or not it was an approved parking lot for overnight, so when I looked out the window at 7 a.m. and saw a police car close by we decided we'd better leave...just in case.  We had a long day in driving ahead of us anyway, so it was good to get on the road.


 Though we opted to skip Chicago, we did stop in a suburb of the city to get some Chicago-style pizza for lunch.  Sadly, the place we chose didn't have the stuffed style. Still, the pizza was very delicious.

J drove.  I slept.  The kids watched a couple of movies or spent some time reading.


We stopped at a beautiful campsite in Wisconsin.  The boys got some playground time and a swim in the little river (we're right on the Mississippi, but this is just a different little strip of water).


We had a yummy spaghetti dinner and got some laundry done.

He's so cute!!!

All in all, it was a good restful day. 

Eastern Trip: Kirtland



Today was rough.


It started with the discovery that we left the stroller in the parking lot at Niagra Falls. I cried all the way to Kirtland...signifying that I am a pretty sleep deprived mama. :( The stroller has been a lifesaver on this trip. Normally very expensive, we found it cheap on the Rexburg yard sale site. Best stroller I've ever owned. Still, I must have been really tired to get that distraught over it's loss.


Then, while the others toured the Kirtland Temple, I took the boys to a playground nearby. After a bit of playing Ethan announced that David had pooped his pants. What!?!? So, I had to deal with that (remember I'm still tired!).


Notice how spread out we all are.  Looks like we all needed a little bit of space today!  ;-)
Once the family was all together again we had a lovely time visiting the other church sites of Kirtland. It was the best your yet, with the best sister missionaries as our guides.


We saw the only ashery on the continent.


The sawmill.


Whitney store and home. 


I loved hearing the Whitney's conversion story. It is a beautiful lesson on personal revelation and I was extremely touched by their faith.


One of my favorite parts about this trip has been seeing all the different missionaries.  These two were the best as they tailored the tour to our family.  I am just inspired by these young women who have taken time out of their lives to serve the Lord! 


After the tour we headed toward Chicago. Only, we took a little detour to some outlet malls in Cleveland. We basically spent the rest of the afternoon there!  This put us a not behind schedule, but apparently we're all ready to be home because we unanimously voted to skip Chicago!

And as one final blunder of the day, we pulled into Walmart in Toledo at about 10:30pm only to realize there's no overnight parking there. So, we searched for another location. Fortunately, another Walmart not too far away was okay.

So, this sleepy family survived one more day. Tomorrow will just be a driving day as we continue our way home.

Eastern Trip: Sacred Grove & Niagra Falls


What a day! 


It started with a yummy breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, and fruit! It was our first "real" breakfast the whole trip (and probably our only).


We then spent the morning at the Smith Farm and Sacred Grove. Each of us left the tour at different intervals (we've been on a lot of tours!). And we each spent whatever time we needed/wanted in the Sacred Grove. 

It was a lovely morning! I felt like I was in the temple and really didn't want to leave. 


Oh, and we believe the stream you cross to enter the Sacred Grove is Hathaway Brook (see church maps in the back of the scriptures). This is where our Brooklynn got her name! :). She collected a bit of the water in a jar as a keepsake.


Once we all had our moment in the Grove we drove three hours north to Niagra Falls. So cool! We decided to get tickets for the Maid of the Most boat ride. So worth it! The kids had a blast! Donovan, however, slept through the whole thing.


From there we finally started to head west. We drove a few hours to a campsite in Ohio to sleep for the night.


Memories made!

Eastern Trip: Palmyra


We're in Palmyra for the next couple of days.  It is so beautiful here!


We're staying at a KOA near Palmyra for a couple of nights. After our last few days of  "get up and go," we decided to take things slow this morning. We slept in, did laundry and let the kids explore the camp.


We then headed to the Peter Whitmer farm. I failed to research the location of this site; we could have seen it last night on our way up.


It was worth the drive to see where the organization of the Church began! It amazes me that from such humble beginnings the Lord's church has grown to what it is today.


On our way back to Palmyra J saw a cheese farm and just had to stop for a little cheese tasting.


Hill Cumorah was our next stop. Upper State New York is just so beautiful. Hill Cumorah is no exception.  

I loved hiking the trail on the hill and imagining Joseph Smith finding the golden plates.


We then made our way to the Grandin Building, stopping for a quick dinner beforehand. We had already seen a couple of printing presses in Nauvoo and Philadelphia, so our interest was a little lacking here. The tour was 45 minutes long! Still, it was neat to see where the Book of Mormon was printed. Such a long, tedious process to print just one! And they printed 5,000 copies! Unbelievable!

A stop at the Martin Harris Farm on the way to the Sacred Grove
When we finished the tour it was pouring outside! This interrupted our plans to go to the Sacred Grove. Well, it didn't stop J still. He was determined to go tonight, so he wandered the grove in the rain and came back soaked...but happy. :)

We stopped at Walmart on the way back to camp and spent the night playing games and eating ice cream.
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