July 17, 2015

Day 1: The Birthplace of Joseph Smith

The Birthplace of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont is beautiful.

When Pres. Joseph F Smith dedicated this memorial, he blessed that a spirit of peace would descend upon all who enter here.  You can literally feel that peace as you drive upon the grounds.
3 full-time missionary couples work at this monument, and 3 full-time couples just do the flowers.  The grounds are beautiful!!
Ben was not that into the message being shared, but I corralled him while the kids listened to the sweetest Sister Peterson tell of Joseph Smith Jr's humble beginnings.

I was particularly touched with the wall of genealogy that showed how John Howland was the many times great-grandfather of both Emma and Joseph Smith (they are way distant cousins), as well as many of the men who would become presidents of the United States, including George W. Bush.

While aboard the Mayflower, a mast broke, pushing John Howland into the water.  Nobody knew he was overboard for a long time.  He was able to grab hold of rigging rope that also fell and hold on for hours in the freezing water before he was discovered and rescued.  He married a girl he met on the Mayflower, signed the original Mayflower Compact, and was able to father a posterity who would live to do great things.

I felt that story in my soul.  I wanted to shout to him, to shout to myself, to shout to my friends and my children, when life gets really hard, just hold on!!!  Hold on!  You still have a great work to perform.
This is the original hearthstone from the home Joseph Smith was born in.  We all touched it.
We had a fun golf cart tour through the woods.  Brother Peterson was a cheerful, grandfatherly tour guide that shared spiritual testimony and let the kids yell as we zipped down the hills and chant "I think I can" as we puffed up the hills.  
We visited the place where Lucy's brother, Daniel Mack lived.  

I love this story that I'm typing from Rough Stone Rolling page 29.  "Snow covered the ground when Lucy and the eight children [Don Carlos was a nursing baby and Joseph was about 10 and just barely off crutches from his bone surgery] left Norwich.  They went by sleigh to Royalton, where they left Lucy's mother with Daniel Mack after she was severely injured in a sleighing accident.  [She would eventually die from these injuries in Daniel's home.] Lydia Mack wept over her daughter and admonished her to "continue faithful in the service of God to the end of your days, that I may have the pleasure of embracing you in another and fairer world above."  Transferring their goods to a wagon, the little party turned their backs on family and familiar places and headed for Palmyra, 300 miles distant."

I found myself wanting to whisper to poor, injured and faithful grandmother Lydia, thank you!!!  Thank you for raising a faithful posterity and for letting them go where they were called to go.

I wanted to whisper to mother Lucy, thank you! Thank you for leaving your mother even as your heart was breaking. Thank you for being SO brave and so strong to travel by yourself with your 8 young children.

I wanted to whisper to my own daughters that sometimes life is really, really hard.  That a hard life doesn't necessarily mean you have done something wrong.  It might mean you have a really great work to do.  Hold on!  Press forward!  

The last story that touched me again, was that on the way to Palmyra Lucy met with continual hardships.  They ran out of money in Utica and Lucy stood up to a man trying to rob them of their wagon.

Young and frail Joseph was assigned to ride in the Gates sleigh, "and one of the sons ... knocked Joseph down as he attempted to find a place.  Joseph said he was 'left to wallow in my blood until a stranger came along, picked me up, and carried me to the Town of Palmyra.'"

I don't believe Joseph Smith was a God. I believe he was a good man, called by God, to do a great work.  I believe he was an honest man who endured much as he tried to be true to the work God gave him to do.  He wasn't perfect, none of us are.  But he was strong, faithful, and good.  I know it.

I have personally wallowed in my blood and strangers have lifted me up and carried me onward.  

Why do these church sites sink deep into my soul?  Joseph was only 38 when he was martyred.  I am 38.  

I know that each of us has a life purpose.  We each have a good work to do.  Our families are important, our touch on humanity is important, our faith and goodness is important.  We are a link in our family chain-- I am Lucy travelling with my eight children.  She didn't know that young Joseph would be called of God to found and restore a religion that would span the globe.  We cannot see our impact either.  But we can keep marching forward.

What ere thou art, act well thy part.

I wish I had copied down the exact wording of this sign.  It said something like-

At this hearthstone... the family "washed, fed, and cuddled the future founder of 'God's Kingdom on Earth'". This was a beautiful place to visit.  It is peaceful and holy.  I'm so grateful we came to beautiful Vermont. #mosstrek2015

I wrote this after we left...

We continue our quest to TOUCH one thing together.  I can feel our family pulling together.  I can feel my children learning the importance of our historical foundations.  I can feel them learning stories of strength to endure trials and tribulation.  I can feel with them the testimony that these beautiful stories are true.  Someday they will choose for themselves how they will live their own lives.  I feel confidant knowing that they know what we believe and they know why we believe it.  They feel the peace and joy we feel as we live this religion. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you." D&C 6:32

"If you let your children touch the temple it will touch them." #mosstrek20

I loved visiting the birthplace of Joseph Smith with my family.  I felt God there.  We all did.  He was a prophet.  He is my friend.  I'm so grateful for his mother and grandmother and I want to be more like them.

I'm so grateful my children could touch this place, hear these stories, and feel the sweet, humble spirit that is there.

Lily said she felt the Spirit as she read that sign outloud she said, "I felt the Spirit say we should visit places like this more often."  After a long day in the car, and some long, historical tours, I was pretty impressed with that.

Life is good because God is good.
On to Palmyra!

1 comment:

A Saunders said...

Thank you! These are places we love seeing and reading about! Please thank your children for sharing their journey with other like minded kids. Appreciate your teaching better mothering. Best to you.

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