Sunday, March 30, 2014

The "Promised" Land

By Greg:

When the early Saints came here to Jackson County, they were told by revelation to purchase the ground that they would occupy.  I have been able to determine that they really did buy a lot of land.  It was all over the county, not just near Independence.  In fact, Bishop Edward Partridge took title to over 1,200 acres of ground that is now in Kansas City.  Today it is some of the highest prized land in the city.

We took an afternoon yesterday and walked along the little river area that is called "The Plaza", really The Country Club Plaza.  All of this land was purchased by Bishop Partridge from the United States government.

This plaza was a joint project by the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.  It is partially for flood control, and also for beautification.  This is near where the "Bare Naked Indian" is that I wrote about earlier.

You have to love the Army Corps of Engineers (unless you are a developer, or have been one, like I have been, and then you HAVE to love the Army or Corps of Engineers, OR ELSE!).  Hey. General Robert E. Lee was in the Corps.  He removed a serious rapids in the Mississippi River near Nauvoo and then sold a paddle boat to Joseph Smith and others, including Peter Haws.  That ship hit a snag and was destroyed and Joseph and the others could not make the payments.  But that is another story.

The Corps made a very nice plaza along this little river.  Then the city developed the land into a shopping/dining/entertainment center.  Perhaps the best area of the City of KCMO.  And it was all once owned by Mormons.

Some of the land was deeded to Alexander Doniphan in payment for legal fees.  He held it for several years and then sold it.  Faithful readers of this blog will remember that Joseph Smith warned Alexander not to take this land as one day it would be worthless.  He was referring to the calamity after the Civil War.  Now it is as valuable as the "Strip"in Las Vegas.

Well we did get even, in an odd sort of way.  In 1978, the Church leaders came here to the Missouri area and purchased at a good price over 5,000 acres of raw land for investment purposes.  This land is between I-435 and 291 highway and is north of the Missouri River.  Some of it has been developed into retail and residential and much is still raw ground.  Today the Kansas City Temple sits on a small part of this purchase, as does the Liberty Stake Center.  I have also learned that we have purchased a big chunk near Blue Springs.  We also bought the Haun's mill farm land from the RLDS.  That was a big purchase.

The word here is that the Church is the biggest private land owner in the State of Missouri.  I found that we hold that same title for the State of Florida.

We went to a big art museum.  It was pretty interesting, but like most of these museums, you get overwhelmed pretty fast.

Everywhere you see the name Kaufman.  I found that after World War II, Ewing Kaufman started a drug company called Marion Pharmaceuticals.  When he merged with Dow, it is reported that over 300 local residents became millionaires.  He is the owner of the Royals, and the benefactor of a lot of things here.  Along the river we saw a beautiful garden that is next to the foundation headquarters.  There is another big garden about 35 miles from here that they have planted that we will go see later.

By Debi:

Yesterday after cleaning the apartment and doing our "P" day chores the sun was shinning and we decided to go downtown and walk around the Plaza area.  We love the walking path all along the river that runs through the downtown of Kansas City.

The bridges are beautiful and the fountains in the middle of the river make it feel so alive.

All along the river and the downtown area are beautiful water fountains.  They still are not running because it is cold outside but we are hoping that they will be turned-on soon.  We did take a few pictures of the magnificent sculptures.

Kansas City has a famous art museum.  We decided to take a few hours and visit it while we were walking around the Plaza area.

The museum is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  There is a huge lawn out in front of the Museum.  In the 1990's a husband and wife artist team were commissioned to sculpture some art for the outdoor area.

These are some of the pieces in the park surrounding the museum.  The badminton birdies where the most interesting.

The museum also has the famous sculpture "The Thinker".  I love this picture of Greg.  He truly is the thinker in a nutshell.

Kansas City has so much to offer.  I had no idea of all of the interesting places, people, and things associated with Kansas City.  It has been a real education being here for the history of the Church and for the history of this great area.

There are lots of beautiful homes in this area.  Some are older and some are newer.  Stone is plentiful here so a lot of the older homes are made out of stone.

This stainless steel metal tree was so hard to build.  It illustrates how miraculous a real tree is as it holds so much weight.

We are not too sure what these are or what they represent, but to be sure, an artist was paid a lot of money to make them.

There are a bunch of bunnies along the Plaza.  So, along with Kansas City, we wish everyone a Happy Easter Season!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lake of the Osarks

By Debi:

Yesterday was a working P-day and we had a great time.

We left the apartment at 6:45 am all packed and ready for our adventure. We were assigned by our mission president to go to Sedalia, Missouri, and visit a companionship during their study hour.  Sedalia is two hours away so we had to leave early.

On our way to Sedalia we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen in my life.  We are from Utah and we see the sun come up over the mountains every morning which is quite a sight to behold.  But here in Missouri the sun comes up right at the horizon and it is beautiful.  The amazing thing about the whole experience was it just so happened that we were listening to Barbara Streisand singing “America” on a CD in her powerful voice right as the sun rose above the horizon.  The colors of orange and pink reflected off of a few clouds that looked like they were on fire.  Wow, what a morning.

Of course she is on the approved list of music for Senior Missionaries

After a wonderful hour with two great Elders we drove over to the Katy trail head.  We have talked about the Katy trail before but if you don’t know about it, it is a great biking/hiking trail that is 264 miles long and runs almost the entire width of the state of Missouri.  It is the old Railroad line for the Missouri/Kansas/Texas Railroad.  It is now known as the Katy trail. One of the trail heads is in Sedalia. 

We got on our bikes with our lunch packed and off we rode.  It was very cold but the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  It was a perfect day.  We have been riding a stationary bike in our apartment so we are in kind of in shape.  We were able to ride 20 miles along a beautiful trail out in the country side.  Missouri is very much a farming community.  As soon as you leave the city the farms stretch as far as the eye can see.

After our ride we took a little detour on our way back to Independence to see the Harry S. Truman Dam and reservoir which is part of the Ozark lakes. 

I had never seen the Ozark lakes and they are beautiful.  I am sure that when the world is so green again it will be even more spectacular.  These lakes cover hundreds of miles and they have thousands of miles of shore line.  The people love to fish in the lakes and enjoy all boating activities. They have great camp grounds around the lakes.

The Visitor Center is up on the edge of a cliff looking over the Dam.  It is a beautiful center with a spectacular view.  President Harry Truman was very proud of this project and the benefits it has for the people of Missouri.  It produces electricity, flood control and a water supply for the state.  Also one of the displays around the Visitor Center was the Hooper House.  We were excited to see anything named Hooper.  The man who owned the house was named John Hooper.

The cool thing is they say "Hooper" just like we do

On our way home we went through a little town named Tightwad. I thought that was so funny. The population is 69 people.  There is a little convenience store named the Tightwad Center!  We really had a great time seeing this little community of Tightwad!

The more we explore Missouri the more we are falling in love with this place.  Everywhere we travel we find something beautiful and fun.

By Greg:

At the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson sought to establish an organization that would exist that might allow countries to settle their differences before they lead to war.  You might remember WWI was supposed to be the “War to end all Wars”.  Well, he was not successful in getting the US Senate to ratify the treaty that would have established the League of Nations.

Woodrow Wilson, "Father" of the League of Nations

At the end of World War II, another Democratic president had the same vision. It fell to his successor, Harry S. Truman (of Independence, Missouri) to lead the charge to form the United Nations.  In this instance, Truman was more successful that Wilson had been.

This could have been the entrance to the UN instead of the RLDS complex

During the debates in the Senate, Senator Elbert Thomas of Utah, stood on the floor of the Senate and proposed that the headquarters of the UN be established in Independence, Missouri.  He stated two reasons (besides the cool name of “Independence”).  First, it was the home town of President Truman, and second, it was right in the middle of America.

This was a serious proposal!  The Chamber of Commerce sent a telegram to the “Big Three” who were meeting in the Potsdam conference urging adoption of the idea.  They also contacted the Churches (LDS and RLDS) about the possibility of obtaining their lands.

Well, it never happened, and the churches may not have given up their lands either, but I thought this was a cool thing when I came across it in the Mission History.  I wonder if anyone has ever heard this before.

We have said this before, but there are a lot of things around here named Truman.  He was very popular after he was president.  He really liked the Tennessee Valley Authority and pushed for one of his own.  Thus we have the Truman Dam and reservoir.  My dad never called him President Truman, or Harry Truman; I grew up knowing him as just “Harry S”.  Of course, men in the navy and their teen-aged sons had all kinds of fun with that.

Harry S Truman supporter of the United Nations

One of the sad things we keep seeing here is that the historic markers are taken and probably sold for scrap metal.  This is sad as the value of the bronze is nowhere worth the value of the historical recollection.  We went to Troost Park to see a monument that replaced the original one that was destroyed.  Here is what I found on the internet about this monument:

The new replacement monument

The marker at Troost Park was erected to commemorate the first log schoolhouse in Jackson County. On August 2, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others assisted the Colesville Saints in placing the first log as a foundation for the establishment of Zion. It was done at the site of the building which was to be both a school and a church. A ten-inch oak was cut and carried to the designated location by 12 men representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel.1

Among those who participated were Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Hezekiah Peck, Ezekiel Peck, Joseph Knight, Sr., Aaron Culver, Ezra Booth, Freeborn Demill, William Stringham, and Ira Willis. Oliver then laid a cornerstone and delivered an address.

The original marker read as follows:

 “School in Zion. On August 2, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith was assisted by the members of the Colesville Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others in laying the log for the first house as a foundation of Zion in Kaw Township. The log was carried and placed by twelve men representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The house, a place of worship, was also used as a school and was the first school to be erected within the boundaries of Kansas City, Missouri, as they existed in 1832. Unveiling and Dedication September 14, 1963 by President David O. McKay The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The original  marker was to be dedicated by David O. McKay, but was dedicated by Joseph Fielding Smith instead. 

In 2000, a restored marker was dedicated.

Here is the “restored” monument today.

What did the scrap metal dealer say? "Oh, are you sure you don't need this anymore?"

Oh, how sad!

When Joshua and the Children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River, the Lord told them to build a monument out of Twelve rocks, one for each tribe.  He said that when their children asked, "What is that monument for?" they would tell them the Lord led them across on dry ground.  

Well, when some one asks, what is this monument for?  They will have to call me, I guess.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What an incredible weekend!

By Debi:

This is at the Cemetery in Richmond near the David Whitmer grave
We have just spent the last three days with our son, J.B.  He came to Independence, Missouri to speak at an inter-faith conference with the Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS), the Remnant Churches, and the Restoration Churches and others.  All of these Churches have something very much in common and that is the Book of Mormon.

We were privileged enough to attend the conference and listen to some amazing BYU professors and some of the other church pastors speak about the Book of Mormon.  It was an unforgettable two days.

J.B. was the closing speaker for the Friday night Session.  He talked about how the Book of Mormon is also a witness to the truthfulness of the Bible.  He did such a great job and bore such a beautiful testimony of both sacred scriptures.  We are so thankful we could be part of this special weekend.

But best of all for me was that we got to have J.B. stay with us and visit with him for the weekend.  We had a glorious time.  We visited many of the Church’s historical sites remembering the great history of the Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith in this area of Missouri.

We went to Richmond and saw the monument of the Three Witnesses.  We also saw the site that Joseph Smith rebuked the guards on that terrible night.

Greg, JB, and Alexander Doniphan
The Statue of Alexander Doniphan says he had "brilliant parts".  I think my men have them too!

We went to the site of the Haun’s Mill.  It is a very lonely, solemn site. We pondered on the events that happened there during the massacre of the Saints living there at this small community.

We visited a very fun little Amish town called Jamesport.  The Amish are wonderful people and their way of life seems so peaceful. We all mentioned that we are a little envious of their lives that are separate from the outside world.  We did eat at a wonderful all-you-can eat Amish restaurant that was so yummy. 
We visited the site of the Far West temple.  We pondered the suffering of the Saints and their terrible expulsion from Missouri when they came with such high hopes of finding a peaceful place to live and build the Church.

This is a Haun's Mill--you can not really see the mud on the truck--it was heavy
Of all of the sites that we visited my favorite was Adam-ondi-Ahman.  There isn't a Visitor Center there but there are about 8 missionary couples who live on the site and take care of the beautiful grounds and farms in the area. 

Sunset over Adam-ondi-ahman
We arrived a little before sunset and came upon a most beautiful scene.

Deer were running through the fields and into the surrounding woods.   Geese were flying overhead while honking their arrival.  We parked the truck and hiked down a trail that opens up into a grove of trees. 

This is a planted grove--very special place
The grove is in a beautiful little round valley with low hills surrounding the scene.  I stood on one edge of the grove and Greg and J.B. hiked the rest of the way to the floor of the grove. We discovered that the acoustics were amazing.  I could stand on the edge of the hill and speak in a normal tone and J.B. and Greg could hear me perfectly.

Greg then continued to the other side of the valley and up the hillside.  It was probably the distance of a football field.  Again, we tested the acoustics.  Again, we could hear each other perfectly.  We carried on a conversation without raising our voices.  We were completely amazed.

Debi is the black dot in the distance-yet we cold talk without shouting
JB teaching a fine lesson at Adan-ondi-ahman

After our little experiment Greg walked back and met J.B. in the grove of trees.  As they came out of the trees the sun was just setting and is was reflecting its last rays of daylight right behind these two great men.  As I stood there watching them walk side by side I had such an overwhelming feeling of love for my husband and my son.  I never want to forget this day or this moment in time.  Priceless!

 By Greg:

We went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago.  A woman had died and they were selling all her stuff, her furniture, her treasures, all of her stuff.  We go to these often to buy furniture for missionary apartments. 
This one was very nice.  We learned that the woman had been a member of the RLDS Church, now known as the Community of Christ.  I found a complete 8 books set of the History of the Reorganized Church that I got for $10!  She also had two pictures that we bought.  One was a cool one of Chief Captain Moroni that says on the plaque “Alma 21”.  Well, I found out that although the words are the same, our Book of Mormon is divided into different chapters and verses than theirs.  Captain Moroni is in Chapters 40+ in our book.

She also had a cool framed map of Central America with Book of Mormon places on it.  Now, I know this is not necessarily correct, but it is cool and I only paid $10 for it as well.

I read a lot about the formation, or as they call it, The Reorganization.  I am particularly interested in this as our Haws family had some who went west with Brigham Young and others who stayed where they were in Illinois and later joined with The Reorganization.  I actually found many of their names listed as early members.  One, Albert Haws, was a lifelong missionary going to a lot of places, including the Hawaiian Islands as a missionary.

I am now doing some family history for these “cousins”.

So, I was really interested in this weekend’s conference.  Here we were with others who share the same historical background, but at some point took different paths.  There are actually identified 7 different churches all claiming Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon as their foundation.

One of the men who came from BYU is JB's mentor and friend, Dr. Robert Millet. He gave the final talk.  He too was amazing.

Dr. JB and Dr. Robert Millet, both of BYU
One of the speakers is a Baptist minister that has found the Book of Mormon and believes and teaches it.  His talk was to us: “Do you realize and know what you have? The glad tidings from the Book of Mormon.” His message was unexpected and amazing.  His goal is that there will never be another Mormon Bashing Sermon preached in a Christian Church again, ever. To his Christian brothers he says, “READ THE BOOK OF MORMON!”

This is Dr. JB and Dr. Lynn Ridenhour, a Baptist teacher of the Book of Mormon
Two of the Stake President’s in our mission are former members of the RLDS.  The host of this conference was President Cato, President of the Independence Missouri Stake.. His entire family converted several years ago after becoming separated from the church of their birth.  The family all got in a van and went to Utah to check it out.  Upon returning, they called the mission president and made arrangements for baptism of 17 people.

President Cato, Sisters Cato, and his parents, Brother and Sister Cato

We are so proud of our son JB.  He had a major role to play in the conference.  As Debi said, his part was how the Book of Mormon testifies of and supports the Bible.  He used as his text,

“For behold, this (the Book of Mormon) is written for the intent that ye might believe that (the Bible)…” Mormon 7:9-LDS.  Read the rest of the verse.

Today, many question the Bible, but the Book of Mormon is a second witness to so many things that are in the Bible such as Adam and Eve, Moses, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, the Exodus of the Children of Israel, prophecies of Christ by Isaiah and Jeremiah, teaching of Jesus, John the Baptist, John the Revelator, and on and on.

I hope I never forget the feeling I had this weekend.

Also, what a special treat to have JB with us.  We borrowed a mattress from the “Bat Cave” and he slept with us.  I thought Debi would have him sleep at the foot of our bed just like he was a little boy again.  She did tell him bed time stories, cooked special breakfasts, and hugged and kissed him a lot.  What a treat this was.

When he was a missionary we wanted so badly to go and visit him in North Carolina and see him and see what he was doing.  Well, of course we could not, but he could come here.  I think he got a glimpse of what we are doing, and I hope he was proud of his parents, at least a bit as much as we are proud of him.

This is outside the Conference Center of the Restoration Church