I'm a sucker for historical sites.
One of my favorite things about living here is that I am surrounded by history, everything has an old and personal story. Growing up, I longed to travel and see the places where not just amazing events took place, but where you could see evidence of the ordinary and every day from days long past.
Because we had so much amazing company this year, we decided we were not going to take any trips this summer. Zane and Kate had Trek, Grey was going to West Virginia for 2 weeks and it was already a great deal of "do." As August approached, though, we had a change of heart and we wanted to go somewhere as a family and make a memory for ourselves. This is the last summer before Zane will leave for his mission and you all know I'm going crazy trying to cling to every day that the kids are still here. We needed to go and do something new together.
We decided to go to Palmyra.
Palmyra, New York is about 4 1/2 hours away, for those who are not LDS, it is the place where Joseph Smith lived as a boy, where he went into a grove of trees and prayed to know which church he should join. God, The Father, appeared to him as did Jesus Christ and they spoke to him, telling him that all of the churches had some parts of the truth, but none contained the fullness of the gospel.
Later on, Joseph would be visited by an angel, named Moroni, who would teach and instruct him in ways to have the church that Christ set up and put together restored to the Earth.
It is in Palmyra, on the Hill Cumorah, that Joseph Smith was instructed to collect the Plates of Gold, from which we are blessed with The Book of Mormon.
Near Palmyra is a town called Fayette. In Fayette, at the home of a man named Peter Whitmer, the church was formally organized and so began the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
We started off our visit by attending the temple together as a family. With Romy turning 12, we were able to attend with everyone there and it was her first time doing baptisms. It will forever be one of my best, most special memories- being at the temple together as a family. We were minus two, but everyone who was with us, was in attendance.
We met a Sister Missionary who helped me get my family names ready and helped us figure out all of the places we should see while we were in town.
The first tourist site was the Smith Family Farm.
We did the tour, followed by a walk in the Sacred Grove.
What a beautiful place.
Under the canopy of green leaves with the sun shining though as the breeze causes the lights to flicker and make everything feel almost alive in the peaceful setting of the grove, I could understand why someone would choose this place to pray. There are benches in every quiet nook of the grove, where people are encouraged to take a quiet moment to themselves and we each took advantage of that.
We went to the Grandin Printing Press after that, where we ran into the Sister Missionary who we'd met in the temple. She gave a great tour and we not only learned a lot, but we made a new friend in Sister Heyn. After a walk down the quaint main street, we were ready to call it a day.
The next day, we went to Hill Cumorah and looked out on the beautiful valley. The kids caught frogs and chased each other on the grounds.
After lunch we hit the road and went to the Whitmer farm. As we were pulling up, we saw that our new friend, Sister Heyn was just starting her shift as tour guide there and we were all very excited to have her teach us about the history of the farm, as it was clearly a place that was very dear to her heart. She was right about it being a place you should not miss if you are out in the area. There is a lot of original artwork in one wing of the LDS chapel there and the grounds are stunning.
She told us that before we left we just HAD to go stop by the Amish run store up the road, that they had great candy. We were a little hungry so we stopped by....for two hours. Oops. They had an incredible assortment of candy and they also had a yard that had a bunch of handcrafted rocking chairs and gliders, porch swings and sheds. The kids tried out every glider and swing and eventually gathered on one dual swing under a gazebo and just talked while Matt and I looked at the sheds. Each person picked out a treat to share.
The day was finished with swimming in the freezing pool and then one more trip to the temple, after dark, so we could see the light shining though the stained glass windows.
We had a wonderful time and it was a nice family adventure to end the summer with.
I'm a lucky, lucky Mom and wife.