It was a beautiful Autumn morning when we arrived in Palmyra, New York.
The visitor's center had nice restrooms for us to freshen up and gave us a chance to collect ourselves.
To remember where we were and why we were here.
Then, we started the tour. The church has done an amazing job of restoring or rebuilding this area. When I was here 20 years ago, this cabin didn't exist. Church historians found the original foundation and rebuilt using descriptions discovered in letters and journal entries.
This is the home of Joseph and Lucy Smith. When the Smiths bought the land, it was primeval forest that they had to clear, one tree at a time. By all accounts, they created a beautiful farm with garden spaces, orchards, stone walls, fenced fields, beehives and more. Their industry is inspiring!
Look how small it is, yet they had more children than I do!
Of course, most of them were outside for the majority of their day.
This small living room/dining room/kitchen really touched me.
It was here where Lucy worked and worked and worked
cooking, cleaning, sewing, ironing, washing, teaching, nursing
everything a mother does (practically), she did here.
And she did it so effectively as to raise children like Joseph Smith, Jr., Alvin, Hyrum, Samuel.
It was that mantle Joseph leaned upon after seeing a vision of the Father and the Son.
When Lucy asked what was the matter, Joseph replied,
"Never mind, all is well . . . I have learned for myself . . ."
Of course Father Smith had a hand in things, too. When Father reached for his glasses, the family knew it was time to read the Bible.
Heading upstairs to the attic, we see where the Smith children would have slept.
This is where Joseph plead with the Lord for forgiveness and to know of his standing before God.
Heavenly Father sent an angel. Moroni.
To a boy almost exactly the same age Isaac is now.
Just up the road is the frame house, still standing, that Alvin built and nearly finished before he passed away. I don't have any pictures of that, unfortunately. Or the barn built by Brigham Young and his father that was moved to this location or the cooper shop or the very cool hollow log beehives. I'm not sure where those photos went!
At any rate, after touring the beautiful Smith farm, it was time for the highlight.
It was time to visit the Sacred Grove.
There are many stories about how this area has been preserved. Suffice it to say, it has been.
Many of the trees could easily have been here when Joseph made his fateful visit in 1820.
We made a point of letting the children know that we would be spending a nice long time in these trees, wandering the acreage quietly, pondering the events.
Once we walked into the shade of the canopy, it was immediately reverent.
No one needed reminding.
It is a sacred place.
Even this little guy, who is always busy, busy, busy, was quiet here.
He didn't slow down, but he also wasn't disruptive.
At one point, he stopped me, whispered, "Do you see that?"
I looked and he said, "Jesus came here!"
Then he knelt for a moment in the posture of prayer.
It wasn't contrived, either. He was all sincerity, in his innocent little way.
We strolled leisurely back up to the visitor's center.
Time for lunch!
There were several rows of these beautiful wooden picnic tables.
Soon after we began eating, the wasps, who I'm sure also loved the beautiful wooden picnic tables, came out to play. It did put a little kink in our picnic plans! Not the end of the world, we just moved to the grass.
Where this sweet darling was laying down and was soaking in the sunshine.
For some members of our family, this very first day of our multi-day church history tour, was the highlight.
I can only compare it to the temple.
Go. If you can make it work at all. Go.
You do not need to visit the grove to have a testimony that God the Father and Jesus Christ visited a faithful young boy here, opening up the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. But, if you ever get the chance to be here, with a true desire for a witness, you will get it.
God the Father and Jesus Christ visited the boy Joseph in a grove of trees, probably this grove of trees.
"I know for myself."