Thursday, December 10, 2009
While Adam and I were in New York for Thanksgiving we spent one of the days in Palmyra, NY visiting the Church History sites.
It was an interesting day and quite amazing to see the area and some specific sites where the everlasting gospel :) was restored and the LDS church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) was organized.
The first site you come to, driving from the south, is the Hill Cumorah.
This is the hill where Joseph Smith was instructed he would find engraved plates. He translated these plates and printed them as the Book of Mormon. Part of the hill now has grass to accommodate the Hill Cumorah Pagent, or theatrical re-enactment that takes place every summer.
Turning from the main road, you pass the Palmyra Temple that was built in 1999. Right across the street from the temple is the Smith Family farm. There is a visitor's center and the sister missionaries are happy to give tours of the replica of the log house Joseph Smith grew up in and of the restored house the family later built.
Here is a replica of the log house, where the Smith Family lived when they first moved from Vermont:
Both houses are furnished and decorated as they might have been with antique quilts, furniture and pottery from the era (1830's).
Mater Bedroom of log house:
upstairs of log house:
Birth room and pantry of larger house:
I thoroughly enjoyed walking through these houses and felt the reality of the events that happened there almost 200 years earlier. It is amazing to think that a young man asked for answers to religious questions through prayer and, with the support of his family, brought those answers to others.
The Smith Family's land was forested, like most of New York. What we call the Sacred Grove is really Joseph Smith's backyard, or a quiet, peaceful place near his house.
This is where Joseph Smith first prayed and received an answer from God in person. Although we revere this particular location, it reminds us that our own spiritual experiences will happen close to home as part of our daily life.
I was happy to find the Sacred Grove to be rich with fungi:
We then drove 2 or 3 miles into the town of Palmyra which used to be a bustling trade town because it was right on the Eerie Canal. Things have slowed considerably now that canal transport is out of fashion :)
Palmyra also used to be a bustling religious center. There is an intersection in town where each of the 4 corners has a different church. Members of the same family were often part of different churches. The area frequently hosted traveling preachers and the summer was filled with outdoor religious "revivals" from different faiths. This is why a young (14 year old) Joseph Smith wondered which church to follow. His family was religious and read from the Bible, so he knew the scripture from James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." He had faith that he could learn for himself which church to join. This faith helped him understand when he received the unexpected answer that non of the churches were correct and that he should not join any of them.
In Palmyra is E.B. Grandin's original book store and print shop where Joseph Smith had 1,000 copies of the Book of Mormon printed. The three story building has been restored and offers a great tour.
The top floor was for printing because it had the best lighting:
(here are some original ink splashes!)
The second floor was for book binding:
and the bottom floor was the storefront:
After seeing the sites/sights Adam's parents met us for a session at the Palmyra Temple. It was great day.
On the way to Palmyra we ate Philly Cheese Steaks in Geneva, NY and then ate these giant Reuben sandwiches in Palmyra.