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

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