Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lotsa Oxen Trivia

As school begins this week, I am reminded of a pretty significant event in our lives.

Four years ago this week, Thomas and I met for the first time-- on the first day of our Introduction to Linguistics class. I have 2 classes in a room next door to the one where we met.

I did not come to BYU just for an "MRS" degree (as jokes about the female population here go), but I am sure glad we said 'hello'! It was the beginning of a beautiful thing! :o)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 2)

The following is a continuation of pictures and commentary from our recent tour of historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can see the first post here. Please click here to read a brief article about our basic beliefs, as well as answers to some frequently asked questions!

On the third day of our trip, we went to the Hill Cumorah visitor center and monument before leaving the Palmyra, NY area.

I love seeing the Christus statues at so many of our visitor centers. Jesus Christ is central to our faith-- it is only by Him and through the power of His Atonement that we are resurrected (one more link) and can be forgiven (and one more link on that, too). He is our advocate with the Father and our Perfect example.

The Christus statue at the Hill Cumorah visitor center. It it surrounded by the lovely scenic mural you see in the picture.
The Hill Cumorah visitor center also has some articles relating to the pageant:

These are retired costume pieces from the Hill Cumorah Pageant which are housed at the visitor center.
After a short look around, we drove up to the top of the Hill Cumorah.

This is the view of the pageant stage and audience seating from the top of the Hill Cumorah.
This monument on the Hill Cumorah commemorates Joseph Smith's receiving the gold plates from the angel Moroni. These plates were translated by the prophet by the power of God, and became what we know today as The Book of Mormon : Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
On our way out of New York, we realized that our route would take us near Niagara Falls. We figured that an hour detour to see the falls was worth it!

As for a geology lesson for the day, did you know that erosion is causing the falls to migrate up-river?

The falls are incredible, but if you visit, watch out for the tourist traps. We were flagged into a parking lot by some guys in orange vests who looked very official-- only to find out they were operating a parking service and were charging $20 to park. No thanks!!

We found free parking (although with a time limit) about a block away.

Proof we were there ;o)
From there, we dipped briefly into Pennsylvania:

And then headed into Ohio:

We stopped in Kirtland, OH, where the Latter-day Saints built their first temple, and toured the visitor center there.

I loved the tin lanterns we saw there.
From the visitor center, we began a tour which took us through the Newel K. Whitney store. Joseph Smith lived upstairs in the store for a time, and this is where the school of the prophets was originally held, where the Word of Wisdom was revealed, as well as where the first Bishop's storehouse was located.

The store was restored in the 1980s, and looks like it would have in the 1830s!

This living area above the store is where Joseph Smith would have lived.

I love the historical authenticity of the Church's sites-- note the rope holding up the tick (folded back at the corner) on the bed. As a side note, I also love the lamp in this picture.
Our tour also included the Whitney home...

...and the Johnson Inn, which is now a resource center (not historically furnished).

We were disappointed that we missed making it to the Kirtland temple, the first temple built by the Latter-day Saints, during visiting hours.

The temple is not currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A group now known as The Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a group which split from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph Smith, due to differences of opinion regarding succession), owns the Kirtland temple. They have a visitor center and give tours of the temple.

We were able to walk around the temple grounds at least. Coincidentally, we were married on the anniversary of the dedication of the Kirtland temple, at which miraculous events occurred.
We spent the night in Ohio-- and couldn't resist taking this picture of our slightly odd hotel room:

Notice anything peculiar?
And Thomas was glad to have a nice hearty meal, after subsisting on nectarines and granola bars for most of the day :o)

On day 4, we drove across Indiana:

and we could have gone to Gary, Indiana, but decided to stick to our itinerary...

...which took us across Illinois, as well, and into Iowa:

We caught a brief glimpse of Fort Madison before...

Thomas managed to get this picture, with the sign, as we drove by it.
...heading back into Illinois:

We spent the weekend in Nauvoo, IL, which will be getting its very own post. Stay tuned!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 1)

For much of the year, we researched and planned out a much-anticipated 2-week trip, the details of which became a reality in July. It consisted of flying to New Hampshire, renting a car, and driving back to Utah.

The object of the trip was to visit as many historical landmarks/sites/visitor centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as we could, as well as to visit some of my relatives in Missouri and to simply experience the United States via the open road.

As a bit of background information, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which we are members, had its beginnings in the United States. So, for us, there are many sacred places in the U.S. We believe that our church has divine authority, stemming from the restoration of the Holy Priesthood-- the same Priesthood held by the ancient apostles. The beginning of this restoration occurred in 1820 in upstate New York, where the 14-year-old Joseph Smith, Jr., received a vision in response to a simple prayer in the woods near his home.

For more detailed information about our church or its history, please feel free to talk to us and to visit the pages linked to above and within the remainder of the post. I will share other information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its history as it pertains to our travels.

**This post covers the first 2 days of our trip. We fit a lot of sites into those 2 days, so it is picture-heavy!**

Lisa & Thomas in Provo, about to leave for the airport.
Our first full day, we left Manchester, NH and drove to Sharon, VT, where Joseph Smith, Jr. was born in 1805.

New Hampshire roads-- all the green was so refreshing!
This is a church in Sharon, VT proper. The houses nearby were a similar style. LOVED it.
We stopped by the Joseph Smith Birthplace monument and visitor center.

This is the site of the home where Joseph was born. The rectangular rock to the left is the original doorstep.
This is a miniature model of what the home may have looked like.
The monument is a 38 1/2 foot granite obelisk, with no marbling, set in a granite base. It was erected here in 1905 (the centennial of Joseph Smith's birth), and transporting the 40-ton shaft at that time required a lot of horses and a few miracles.

The top of the polished shaft reflects the sun with mirror-like brilliance, which can be seen from different locations during the day. The missionaries informed us of this while we were there and found the right spot for that hour.

The visitor center contains the original hearthstone from the home where Joseph was born.

This room in the visitor center focuses on the significance of Joseph Smith's life in the eternal progression of humankind toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.
This LDS Church building is adjacent to the birthplace property. It is a very different style than what we are used to!
We continued our journey after this stop, heading south into Massachusetts...

...and west into New York.

We stayed at a bed & breakfast, and were fed a delicious meal of farm-fresh eggs, hand-picked local blueberries in fresh pancakes, bacon, orange juice, and hot chocolate.

Our second day saw us into Pennsylvania for a brief stop at the Priesthood Restoration Site.

Near here, along the Susquehanna River, the Aaronic (or preparatory) Priesthood was restored by John the Baptist, who appeared to Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery while they were praying to inquire of the Lord regarding baptism for the remission of sins.

This monument depicts John the Baptist as a heavenly messenger conferring the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
Susquehanna River
To get to the river, you have to drive a dirt road alongside a train track. According to the GPS we were driving on the railroad.
Following this adventure, we drove back into New York. We stopped at the Peter Whitmer Log Home, a reconstruction of the home where The Church of Latter-day Saints was officially organized on April 6, 1830. It is located in Seneca County, NY (technically in the town of Waterloo, NY).
An LDS church building that shares the site with the log home. Quite impressive, and very lovely inside.

56 people fit into a small room, like this, on the day The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.
An upstairs bedroom in the reconstructed Peter Whitmer home.
From here, we headed to Palmyra, NY/Manchester, NY, where Joseph Smith spent most of his growing-up years. It was on his parents' farm where Joseph Smith received the first vision, mentioned above.
The Sacred Grove
Reconstruction of the Smith family home where Joseph's family lived when he was 14.
This is upstairs in the Smith home. This & the room through the doorway are where the angel Moroni would have appeared to Joseph.
This is in an adjacent building, a home constructed by Alvin (Joseph's brother) for his parents to live comfortably in their advanced years.
A pantry, also in the home built by Alvin.
Also in the home built by Alvin.
The "four corners" of Palmyra-- the four churches, on the corners of one intersection, testify of the religious fervor and excitement Joseph Smith, Jr. encountered as a teenager living in this area. The churches are not from that time period, but it is an interesting sight to see nonetheless!
The Grandin building, where The Book of Mormon was first published.
Inside the Grandin building.
We attended an endowment session at the Palmyra temple while we were there.
We ended our day with the Hill Cumorah Pageant (its 75th anniversary) and camped at the Wayne County Fairground.