Wednesday, June 23, 2010

vacation destination three: Palmyra, NY (church history edition)

Our second day in Palmyra was Rosalind's seventeenth birthday.  We woke up bright and early, and Neil cooked a fantastic breakfast of pancakes and bacon (this was the first time I'd had bacon in a very long time.  Bacon is one of the few things I've missed about being a vegetarian, so it was a fun little treat.  Yum!). 

Then we went to the Palmyra temple.  I really wish I'd gotten a good picture of the temple (you can see other people's photographs here, including some of the glass), but it was raining really hard when we went in, and when I came out, the kids and I found a picnic spot and sat down.  So this is the view from underneath the parking lot trees where we were sitting.  One thing that was very unique about this temple--the exterior windows are all absolutely beautiful stained glass depicting groves of trees, as a nod to the Sacred Grove just down the hill.  (Brief history lesson: As a fourteen-year-old living in New York's "burned-over" district [so called because of all the religious fervor and controversy], Joseph Smith was unsure of which church was true and which he should join.  While reading James 1:5, which reads, "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," Joseph decided that he would go to the woods [this particular area of woodland is now known as the Sacred Grove] and pray for direction as to which church he should join.  As he was praying, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that he should join none of the existing churches, as they had all become corrupt.  You can read this account in Joseph's own words here.) 

As a sidenote, one of the things that is most special to me about this trip is reading scriptures to the girls each night in the tent while they were falling asleep--that link will take you to the selection known as the "Joseph Smith History," included in our scriptures, which the girls and I read together during the nights we were in Palmyra.  Abigail and I had some really deep (for a five-year-old) doctrinal discussions during these late-night scripture sessions, and these times were really meaningful for me. 

Neil and I went in together for an endowment session while Rosalind watched our children, then I went out with them while Rosalind and Neil did baptisms.  One thing that really was special about our temple visit is the response from the ordinance workers--the temple president greeted us at the front door and escorted the children into a waiting room--he brought them snacks, offered crayons and coloring pages, and made sure they had everything they needed.  He came back to check on  them several times while we were in the session, and many other ordinance workers stopped by to chat with Rosalind and play with our girls.  I was really impressed by the time they all took to make our temple visit not only a special experience for those of us actually performing ordinances, but our children as well (especially the temple president, since he has so many demands on his time!!)  Another sister in the temple also took Rosalind aside and explained to her some of the symbology in the stained glass on the doors, which was really neat.  

A few shots from our picnic--he isn't anywhere near being able to eat an apple (it was Juliet's), but it was sure fun to watch him try.

After lunch, we went over to the Joseph Smith farm.  The farmhouse in this picture is a reconstruction; the frame house which stands on the property (which they built later) is 85% original--which is really impressive for a house that is nearly 200 years old!!

The farmhouse (which housed the eleven members of Joseph's family) is the place where the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph (three years after his vision in the Sacred Grove) and disclosed the location of the golden plates, which he then translated in later years and published the translation as the Book of Mormon.  (Sidenote:  Joseph was instructed by Moroni not to remove the plates initially; they continued to meet yearly for the next four years for further instruction, at the end of which time Joseph removed the plates in 1827). 

These pictures are from the frame house.  One really interesting thing on this tour was learning about the various places within the home where Joseph concealed the plates from mobs that were searching for them:  under the floorboards, under the bricks of the hearth, inside a barrel of beans, and tossed up in the loft of the cooper's shop on the property, after he received a prompting to remove them from their hiding place under the floor.  The mob came, ripped up the floor, and smashed the box where the plates had been just moments before, but never looked up in the loft above their heads where the plates were sitting, wrapped in a bundle of old clothing. 

These pictures are all from the interior of the frame house (check out those walls!!)  For some reason, I was totally in love with all of these kitchens--especially those gorgeous farmhouse tables.  I have a lot of kitchen pictures. 

The Sacred Grove stands directly behind the farm.  It was absolutely pouring rain at this point, so we didn't spend as long there as I would have liked, but it was beautiful and peaceful even with the rain bucketing down.  (We also saw a mother racoon and her three kits inside a hollow tree, which was pretty neat). 

We then went to the visitor's center and watched the film about the life of the Prophet Joseph, which we had seen just a few months ago at Nauvoo.  It really is an amazing film, and very touching, if you have the chance to see it--I'd highly recommend it.  Afterwards, we drove into Palmyra and toured the Grandin building, where the Book of Mormon was published.  It was so fascinating to learn about the whole process, from setting the type to cutting and folding the pages, to stitching the "signatures" (sets of 16 pages) together, putting on the cover, etc.  Very cool. 

Then we went out to dinner for Rosalind's birthday (which I think was probably far more exciting because we were all thrilled at the idea of a) not having to cook on a propane stove and b) no dish-washing in a bowl of soapy water balanced on a picnic table!).  Calzones and fried zucchini.  Yes, please. 

1 comment:

Mary Beth said...

I'm really glad you didn't let the rain hold you back. Good for you!

As a side-note, the setting of the early chapters of my story Firedrake is based heavily on my memories of the Joseph Smith farm. So thanks for posting those pictures!

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