Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Redemption of Zion

By Greg:

Today is a special day here in Independence Missouri.

43 years ago today, 31 May 1971, the Visitor Center in Independence was dedicated by President N. Eldon Tanner.  President Joseph Fielding Smith was there and spoke. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was also here, along with many other church leaders, members and friends,  It was a wonderful event from all accounts, and was a major milestone in the promised redemption of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri.

Last night we gathered at the Visitors Center to remember this great day, and perhaps put it in perspective for us in this modern day.

This is what the Visitors Center (which we call the "VC") looks like today.

The first group to come back here after the 1833 expulsion from Jackson County was what is today called The Church of Christ Temple Lot (also referred to by many as the Hedrickites).  They returned here and obtained claim to the temple lots number 15 to 22 during the period from 1867-1877. They built what is often called the "White Church".  The first one was burned down by a crazy man in 1898.

This is a picture taken by George Edward Anderson in 1907 and shows the second white church that sat just north of the temple lot.  The temple lot is on the right in the trees.

This is what that white church looks like today.  The second building was burned down on January 1, 1990 by another crazy man who had left the Church of Christ.  He was trying to start a war according to his prophesy.  Another larger building was built in its place. There were lots of donors that assisted in rebuilding this current, larger building, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Utah).

Today the Church of Christ Temple lot owns the original 2 1/2 acre lot that Joseph Smith stood on in 1831 when he dedicated the site for a temple--the first of three spots he dedicated for temples here in Missouri.

The entire temple property that was purchased originally by Bishop Edward Partridge included 63.27 acres.  Today almost all of that land is owned either by The Church of Christ Temple Lot, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Community of Christ) or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  None of the other splinter groups own original temple land.

This is a 1907 photo by George Edward Anderson of the Temple property before much was developed.

The Reorganized Church was "reorganized" in 1852.  Joseph Smith III and his mother joined with them on April 6, 1860.  They were located in Nauvoo from 1860 to 1866.  Then they went to Plano, Illinois until 1881.  From there Smith began to move the headquarters to Independence, Missouri.  It did not happen  officially until 1920, though his people began to "gather"as early as 1870's.

The famous Temple Lot Case (which went all the way to the United States Supreme Court) was between the Church of Christ Temple Lot and The Reorganized Church over ownership of the Temple Lot.

The 2 1/2 acre "Temple Lot" is right of the White Church, in front of the RLDS Temple--the grassy area.

Again, this is a 1907 photo by George Edward Anderson of the RLDS Stone Church.

This is the Stone Church today.

 Joseph Smith III died here in Independence in 1915.  His son, Fredrick Madison Smith was their leader until his death in 1946.  He had his "pulpit" at the Stone Church. here in Independence.

I have been able to find information that in the early 1900's there was an invitation by the Church of Christ Temple Lot folks to try to get the three main groups to get together and hold a conference to discuss the building of a temple here on their property,  A committee of men went to Utah and met with President Lorenzo Snow.  In the end, the Brethren came to the conclusion that a temple would be built here when the Lord commands it, not as a result of a committee or a conference.  They were grateful for the offer, and determined that perhaps the Utah Church should begin to have a presence here, along with the others.

They used money from a special fund that President John Taylor had established years before to purchase lands in Zion, and in 1904 bought 25.82 acres, adding another parcel in 1907.  This purchase obtained the major lands that have been in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever since.

On that land they built a full blown chapel in 1917.

President Spencer W. Kimball served his mission here, and returned to dedicate the "new" stake center in 1978.

This is on the steps of the old building at the time of the dedication of the new Stake Center.  You can see President and Sister Kimball in front with the Mission President and his 10 children (two of which were born while here).

This building was dedicated 3 September 1978 by President Spencer W. Kimball.

As I said, Joseph Smith dedicated two other sites for temples here in Missouri.  None of the three were ever built.  The first was the Independence temple site.

The second was the Far West Temple site:

This is another George Edward Anderson photo from 1907. This is the Far West Temple site.  The woman on the left and the man on the right by the fence are standing on the corner stones.

This is a modern picture of the Far West Site.  Note the corner stones under the glass cases on both the right and left.

A temple was never built here, but the site was dedicated.  The land is still Holy!

The third temple site was at Adam-Ondi-Ahman:

A lot more than building a temple is going to happen at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, but it was also dedicated as a temple site,

Perhaps with this background, we can better understand how the folks here feel about this beautiful temple that was dedicated in 2012.  We love this temple, and claim it as our own (Along with Salt Lake, Ogden, and Ghana).

So, when the Visitors Center was dedicated, over 5,000 people were there to participate and to see the Prophet of the Lord.

Our dearly beloved Mission President, Donald J. Keyes was there.  He served in this mission from 1970 to 1972.  He is now the mission president.

Last night he spoke to us at the VC (he is being released on 1 July 2014).  He told us "The miracle of the rain".  Most of these pictures were part of a PowerPoint presentation I helped prepare for him.

He said as the crowd gathered for the dedication, the sky began to darken.  Then it started to rain lightly.  All around the clouds gathered.  But as the service began, it stopped, at least where they were.  It was raining all around them.  He said it was "like there was a Plexiglas cover over them" but when the service ended, the glass was removed and everyone was soaked, but happy.  He said he had water in his pockets, his shoes and was wetter than he had ever been.  But while the prophet and other brethren were speaking, they were protected. President Smith said that he did not think he was going "to have to fight the devil" that day.  All of the speakers acknowledged the miracle that they were witnessing.

President Keyes said the water was running off the roof of the RLDS auditorium in sheets, and it was also gushing down the street right in front of the Visitors Center.

When I went back upstairs after his talk, I looked outside and it was raining as hard as I have ever seen, just like he described.  It was a demonstration of what kind of rain he was talking about.

President Keyes' testimony, as a eyewitness was strong.

We know the Lord still has his eye on this place.

This is in front of the VC. The RLDS auditorium is on the left, just across the street.  This was a similar storm from what President Keyes described.

We know that the Lord keeps His promises.  One of them is that He will redeem Zion!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A tribute to mothers of all nations, but especially the USA

By Greg:

Happy Mother's day to mothers everywhere.  Some say this country was built "on rock and roll" but we all really know that women built this country. It was the women who built the homes, taught the children and made the men and their communities become civilized.  It was mainly the women who supported and encouraged the establishment of schools, libraries, churches and other community groups.  Their struggles and sacrifices were personal and real.

Today, women, really mothers, continue that role and personal sacrifice.  For this we take this day and honor them; we honor you: Mothers of all nations, but especially those we know and love.

This statue is called the Madonna of the Trails and is one of 17 that have been placed in each state that the trail west to Santa Fe crosses.  This one is in Kansas.  We have also seen her sister in Lexington Missouri. The "daughters" have placed these statues as a reminder to us all the role women/mother played in building this country.

After a full week in the office and all the related activities, we feel the need to "take the day" as they say, and have a P-day on Saturday.  Sundays are busy for us, so we have enjoyed the last two Saturdays.

Last Saturday the Liberty Stake sponsored a "Temple Run" which was a 5-K run around the Kansas City Temple.  We decided to join in.  Hey, we even got a T-shirt! (It was bright U of U red which clashed with my BYU blue outfit, however).

Debi started out in long-sleeved pink, but shed it for short sleeved red-warm day!

Rise and Shout!

I was determined to run the entire way, even though my preparation and training was not sufficient.  Debi, on the other hand, has been vigorously exercising for months on a stationary bike that we have in our apartment, and she has been going outside afterwards for a little running when the weather permitted. I have been running a little, but not enough.

A lot of moms ran/walked with strollers

There were a lot of missionaries there helping, but they were not allowed to participate.  We also knew many of the other people, so it was fun.

We are to the point now where we know and love nearly all of the missionaries

The sister missionaries are especially wonderful

This is Stake President Morgan and children, we love this man!
This is Counselor Foley and wife

This is Doctor/Bishop Dyke-he is Sports Medicine and fixed my hurt shoulder
Coach Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs was there.  He is a member of the Church and does a lot to promote the Church and the Chiefs.

Debi was in awe of coach Reid

It was a beautiful day.  I determined to run the entire route, and Debi kindly stayed with me.  We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand to the cheers of the crowd, not first, but gratefully not last.  Several younger people told us that we were an inspiration to them.  We still are adjusting to being old!

That night we bought tickets to see the Royals play Detroit.  The game was not that great, but it was fun to be there.  The stadium is beautiful.

We were on the upper deck, but right behind the plate.  We wondered if a foul ball would come near us.  I have laughed at people who take their mits to a game.  I am going to do that from now on.  A foul ball came up and right at us and hit Debi in the shoulder!  I should have been more alert and caught it, but I didn't.  She wasn't hurt too bad, and a guy behind us retrieved the ball for his personal collection.

I bought the "value" tickets.  For $35.00 you get an upper-deck seat and $10.00 food credit.  That bought us each a hot dog and some fries, but it was super-fun.  We are going again with the YSA Branch for a FHE in a couple of weeks, that should be fun also.

So, I have been limping along all week with sore knees and legs, Debi has a bruised shoulder, but we are learning our new duties that we inherited from the Sister who went home with no replacement.  4 of the 5 computers have been exchanged, and we got through the transfer and the leadership training session (this is where all the zone leaders come to a training and then afterwards come and get all of the supplies for their zone, which we are now responsible for) and we are moving on.  We are now over the phones in the mission.  Every set of missionaries have a cell phone.  They break them, lose them or have problems with them.  We are the go-to people for this as well.  I also order name tags from BYU for those who lose them, which I figure is about 8-10 missionaries a week.

We are well and happy and I am sorry that I sounded discouraged last post.  I just want to say, being a missionary is hard!  But it is worth it.

By Debi:

Yes, being a missionary is hard work but Yes, it is worth it!  I have been very much humbled and stretched during this mission but the satisfaction and joy are worth it.  I love the Lord and I am so thankful to be able to serve a full time mission. The young missionaries are such an example to me and I love being able to feel part of this great work.  I love supporting them and helping them so they can use their time teaching the gospel to the people of the world.  It truly is a blessing. Greg and I have been so blessed while we have been serving.  It is impossible to even list all of the miracles and blessings the Lord has blessed us with.

We love the work but it is nice to take a break on a Saturday once in a while and just see the sights.
Yesterday was a beautiful day so we decided to go and see the famous Flint Hills.

One third of our country use to be covered with prairie grass.  But because of farming and developing of the land there are only a few small areas that are still the natural grasslands of the Plains.  In Kansas, not too far from Independence there is the "Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve".  There is an old mansion with barns and out buildings at the visitor center.

The ramp is so they could take a team and wagons with hay up to the top floor of the barn

All of these buildings are made with native limestone, which even the fences are made out of.  Down the road is a cute little school house.  It was the first school house in the area and is now part of the Preserve.

The wife was terribly afraid of tornadoes so she had built a great cellar with food and water and protection for her family.

They also had a three-hole outhouse.  They put in a small one for the children.

We loved the beautiful rolling hills of green grass.  There were a few flowers and an antelope or two.

Proper grazing, fire and no plowing help preserve the native grasses

We stopped in a little town called Cottonwood Falls.  There is a little river and a wonderful old main street that they are keeping alive.

The courthouse has to be one of the most decorative ones we have seen in this area.

There were two boys on the bridge over the river fishing without their shirts on.  I reminisced back to the lazy days of being a child in a small town on a summer afternoon.  No fears or worries, just a day to go fish with a friend.  We need more of that in our lives.

The Spaniards were here before the pilgrims were in New England.  This is said
to be the grave of one of the priests who came with Coronado and stayed to teach the gospel to the natives in the late 1500s.

Greg feels like he has been here since the late 1500s
We left in the morning with beautiful blue skies but by the time we got back in the late afternoon the skies were black and there was a severe weather warning.  The weather here changes so quickly.  The people just roll with it but I still get a little nervous when I see a storm coming in.

P-days are great and we are thankful for the break.  We are now ready for another week and excited to help the work along.

Happy Mother's day to all of you beautiful mothers out there!