Monday, October 20, 2008


181 years and one day after Joseph Smith received the plates from the angel Moroni, Matt and I visited the Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York. We had originally planned to visit on September 22nd (the day before we actually went), but changed plans so we could hang out with Matt's sister, Mary, who had the day off from work. We didn't even realize we were there a day after the anniversary of Joseph receiving the plates until a sister missionary mentioned it to us in the visitor's center. Pretty good timing! The Hill Cumorah was nothing I imagined it to be. We wondered if the church had cleared all of the trees to make the hill more visible to visitors, but later found out that the church actually planted hundreds of trees once it bought the land.
Matt will always take advantage of any opportunity to get a bit of sun! He is more concerned about his tan than I am. I gave up long ago, but he was really disappointed that he wasn't able to spend more time outdoors this summer and at the pool to get his tan on! Welcome to reality, babe!
This is the view from the Smith Home and you can see the Palmyra temple in the background. It has beautiful stained glass windows depicting the trees of the sacred grove.
This is Matt walking into the sacred grove. It is absolutely beautiful the way the light shows through the trees. Having lived in Utah since I was 9 years old, I have grown used to seeing LDS churches every few blocks. As I drove around Pennsylvania for this week and saw only one LDS church building and a million other denominational buildings, I started to feel very alone. The ward building we went to on Sunday was about 20 minutes from Matt's Mom's home in Columbia. I started thinking how visiting teaching could easily become a whole day's project with boundaries like that. In Palymra, there is a corner, often referred to as "confusion corner" because there are four churches, one on each corner, and each belonging to a different christian denomination. It became very apparent to me how confused Joseph Smith must have felt as he considered which church to join and which was true. Joseph expressed these feelings in his own words: “So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was . . . to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. . . . In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?” ( Joseph Smith—History 1:8, 10).
After reading 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,” Joseph decided to go into this grove of trees near his home and ask God which church was true. He described his experience: “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” ( Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17).
It was so peaceful here. I remember thinking that the peace and spirit I felt here was comparable to that I've felt in the temple. The spirit reaffirmed to me that Joseph Smith did indeed see God the Father and His Son. I am so grateful for the faith Joseph had to ask God for himself which church was true and for his courage in restoring the church.


Matt said...

I have to correct a serious misstatement by my beloved wife. I was not tanning on the hill Cumorah. I was exhausted from our long trip and I was resting.

Jewels said...

Whatever you say Matt! Thanks for sharing Rob, I so want to go there someday. It looks so beautifu, what a neat experience.

Marian said...

Robyn, I was touched by your testimony. I too know that Joseph saw the Father and the Son and that it would change his live and our lives forever. I often had to drive 15-30 minutes to reach some of the people I visit taught when we lived in Maryland. It IS a day's work ..but I loved doing it. You feel so much more needed when you are in areas where the church is spread out...and you grow so much closer to the people as well. They become family.

Jackie said...

I'm glad you got to see the Sacred Grove. It's my all time favorite Church history site. I dont think there is any way to deny the first vision once you have been there.

(unless you're our mom :))

Heather said...

Robyn, WELCOME BACK to the world of blogging. That was a beautiful post to reinstate yourself with. Palmyra is a pretty amazing place to be. And I love the Sacred Grove, too. Such a wonderful feeling there.

Barack said...


Everyone know you obsess over your tan. But there's nothing wrong with being a nice shade of light brown. It's definitely served me well.

Your Exemplar,