Tuesday, June 22, 2010

vacation destination two: Kirtland, OH

Our next stop was in Kirtland, OH.  This was one of the early gathering places of the members of the Latter-day Saint movement.  The temple there (pictured above) was completed in 1836 and was used primarily as a place of instruction (unlike all the other temple constructed by the church, which are used for ordinance work).  The temple is owned today by a splinter group (Community of Christ), not affiliated with the LDS church.  The Community of Christ members give daily tours through the temple, although picture-taking is not permitted inside. 

I've always enjoyed taking these tours (I've visited the Kirtland temple at least half a dozen times), but my favorite was visiting with a group for youth conference, since we were able to have a portion of our conference inside and sing one of my favorite hymns, The Spirit of God.  Otherwise, the temple has always felt a little empty to me of the peace and sacred feelings that I have when I visit the temples which are consecrated and used for ordinance work.  It feels like a very beautiful building, but that's about it.

After we visited the temple, we went over to the historic sites that are operated by the LDS church (pictured, the Newell K. Whitney store, the sawmill, and the ashery.  Cool fact about the ashery--the Whitneys paid 25 cents for each wheelbarrow-load of hardwood ashes, then took the ashes through a process that turned them into pearlash, which was worth $400 a load.  And then Newell Whitney dedicated all the profits of the ashery to the church.  I thought that was really neat).

Touring the sites was, for me, was one of the highlights of the trip.  Let me explain. 

Our kids were being kids.  They were grumpy.  It was hot, and they were tired and cranky, and they were bored.  At one point, all three of them were screaming and throwing simultaneous tantrums (very very loudly).  I felt like I'd been blindsided--here we were in this beautiful peaceful place and the kids were being small iron-lunged maniacs. I was trying to get Isaac to fall asleep in the stroller, but he was resisting.  Juliet was in another stroller crying because she was hot, and Abigail was sitting on the ground shrieking that she would never move again, never ever ever in her whole entire life, and she wanted a stroller too if Juliet got one!

The missionaries who were our tour guides were an older couple (most Mormon missionaries are young men between the ages of 19 and 21, or young women who are 21 or older, but many older couples also go on missions after they retire--my in-laws just got back a few years ago from a mission in Mongolia).   I was distressed by the children's behavior, worrying that they were ruining the tour for the other people who were with us, and wondering if we should just take them back to the campsite.  Sister Allemann (one of the missionaries) took me aside and gently said, "This is where you should be.  Don't worry--they can't break anything; we're parents and we've seen it all before.  They're acting just as children should act.  The important thing is that you're bringing them here.  Relax and enjoy it."

We continued with the tour (the sites in Kirtland are much more limited than in Nauvoo; you can tour the Newell K. Whitney store and home, the ashery, and the sawmill).  My favorite site in Kirtland has always been the small room above the Whitney store known as the School of the Prophets, a room where the Prophet Joseph taught gospel principles to many of the brethren who later became leaders of the church.  Typically, while in this room the missionaries leading the tour will give a short devotional and bear their testimonies.  This was the part of the tour I was looking forward to most, but I was also distracted by the fact that Isaac was trying to yank the curtains off the window and Juliet was using my camera to take approximately 100 pictures of my shoes (Abigail was writing her name over and over on one of the comment cards). 

The scripture that Sister Alleman shared with us was D&C 64: 33-34, which reads, "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind..." 

She then went on to bear her testimony about the challenges of parenting, but its vital importance both in mortality and in the eternities.  She talked about the importance of teaching our children the gospel, and how imperative it is to begin this instruction while they are young.  She looked directly at me, sitting in my tiny circle of chaos, and said, "You are in the right place.  This is a great work that you are doing, and you are doing an amazing job." 

Tears welled up in my eyes and ran down my cheeks as I listened to her.  I felt such a strong spiritual confirmation of the importance of my role as a mother.  A feeling of empowerment, that Neil and I are not in this alone, because the Lord is on our side and wants us to succeed in raising a righteous posterity--because that is my goal.  Not just having children who are quiet and well-mannered and intelligent, but children who actively desire to make righteous choices and to serve in the Lord's kingdom. And I was so, so, so grateful that this woman--who had never met me before--was able to provide this reassurance and create a moment for me to re-dedicate myself to mothering with faith and patience.  It would have been so easy for her to quietly take me aside and ask me to play with my children outside where they would not disturb everyone else on the tour--but she didn't.  And it made all the difference to me.

Complete change of topic:  We accidentally left one of the sliding doors of the van open all night.  A raccoon got in (of course!).  Which is pretty much a recipe for disaster—I remember a raccoon that chewed off all the weatherstripping of one of our cars just trying to get in the trunk.  So when Neil told me a raccoon had gotten into the car, I fully expected to see the interior in absolute shreds.  Guess what.  We’d left a loaf of bread, a bag of marshmallows, and two bags of homemade pancake mix right in front of the door—the raccoon ate all of those and left.  Didn’t do anything to the car.  Talk about a tender mercy.  In essence, our stay in Kirtland was a great experience all around.  (Plus it didn't rain for one entire night, which meant we had a chance to dry everything out before the next storm hit.  Dry sleeping bags!  Hurrah!!)


Audra said...

We just had a primary activity about the Kirtland temple - our old bishop dressed as Newel K Whitney even. Was really fun to see your fotos. You are a saint!

Jolena said...

Way to go sister missionaries! I really do love when they help us younger ones feel like we are on the right path.

In response to your question, I will have the baby about three weeks after my last semester starts, definitely earlier than planned. :) I wouldn't have minded being due in March or April, but babies come when they want to, right? My mom and sister live nearby, so hopefully I'll get tons of help because I am going to need it those first few months while I am juggling baby and finishing up school!

Meghan said...

Wisdom, patience, and perspective are some of the advantages of getting old and creaky.

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