Monday, September 24, 2012


I wish Peyton still called Utah, "New-Tah".  That was one of my favorite "words" of hers from last year.  Unfortunately though, she can pronounce the word correctly now.

We went to Utah this summer for about 8 days.  It was our last visit with Jordan, before he leaves for his mission (this Wednesday) in California.

We were able to spend the 4th of July with the Higgins family, and Amanda Chase.  We had a blast!  The kids loved sitting on the roof of Bobby and Julee's garage to watch the fireworks (I, however, was not as big of a fan of the heights).

Other highlights of the trip include going to the Jordan River Temple, taking the kids to Lagoon for the day, touring the BYU campus and Provo (thanks, Amanda!), and spending the day in Salt Lake City.

Thank you, Bobby and Julee for another wonderful summer in Utah!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Temple Site in Independence

The first historical church site that Nick and I toured this weekend was the Temple Site in Independence, MO.  This site was right around the corner from the hotel we were staying at.  We were not aware of its existence prior to arriving at the hotel.

The Community of Christ Church (formally known as the RLDS Church) houses a Temple right behind the Higher Ground Hotel, where we stayed.  Across the street is an LDS Visitors Center.  We went into the Visitors Center and asked the Sister Missionary about the land.  She stated that the land we were standing on was of the original 63 acres, purchased by the church for the establishment of Zion in Independence.  However, when church members were driven out of the land in the 1800's, they lost much of the land, and today, only own 20 of the original 63 acres.  The other 43 acres is subdivided between the RLDS (Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which broke away from the Community of Christ Church, when they changed their name and their doctrine), and the Community of Christ Church.

This is their Temple:

We discussed the prophecy that Joseph Smith had of a Temple being built in Independence.  The Sister Missionary let us know that Joseph Smith did prophecy the building of a temple around the area where we were at, and that the land had been set apart and dedicated for a temple, but because the church members were driven out of the area, the Temple had never been built.  The land that was dedicated by Joseph Smith was then obtained by the Community of Christ Church, who still holds claim to that land today.

Although it has not been developed, and there is not an LDS Temple on this site, the feelings I felt while walking on the grounds are indescribable.  First, just knowing that the Prophet Joseph Smith had walked on these grounds, and had dedicated them for the building of a Temple was mind blowing to me.  The Spirit felt there was so strong, and I could tell how sacred these grounds were.  Despite the fact that it is on a corner lot in the busy downtown area, it seemed the way being inside a temple does, like I was away from the world while I was walking around the area.

I really enjoyed this experience.  It, along with many other experiences I had this weekend, really helped me to build my testimony of the truthfulness of this church.  I can't help but learn about church history and hear stories about the pioneers, and recognize that this church is true.  Very few people would go through what the early pioneers went through...the persecution, the deaths of their family members, the long treks across the plains, giving up everything they owned, being driven out of their land, and so on...if the church wasn't true.

I hope to continue to go back to Independence often, to be able to feel the sweet spirit I felt being on this Temple Site.

Pioneer Cemetery

This was the second Church Site, Nick and I visited.

This Cemetery holds the graves of the 3 witnesses of the Book of Mormon; Oliver Cowdry, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer.  There are several other people buried in this cemetery as well...both LDS and non-LDS.

One of the things that touched me so much...aside from the church history aspect...was how many babies and young children were buried in this cemetery.  It made it so real for me, what people went through so many years ago.  To lose a child was not uncommon.  One headstone was dedicated to three children from one family.  One girl was 3 years old, one girl was a year old, and the other was just 6 months old.  This particular memorial site brought tears to my eyes.  To think that these parents had lost all three of their girls at around the same time was devastating to me.  My heart ached for them...even though 200 years has passed since their deaths.

Before we arrived at the cemetery, I spent some time reading the history of the site online.  In the early 1900's the church obtained the land, and it became a Priesthood calling to restore and maintain the cemetery.  Some headstones were dug up from up to 15 inches below the ground.  Others, barely readable anymore, were also found, and placed in an area of the cemetery for remnants of headstones.  Grass was planted, along with beautiful trees and flowers.  A monument was dedicated to the three witnesses, and some background information about the Book of Mormon, along with the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses was transcribed on the monument.

Again, the feelings I felt at this site were that this was a very sacred, holy, ground.  It was a peaceful resting place for all laid to rest there.  It was beautiful, and calm.  The Spirit was strong.  It was humbling, and increased my gratitude for my own family.

Far West

This was another Temple Site, that was dedicated, but never built, because the members were driven out before it could be finished.  The 4 cornerstones, representing the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, the Aaronic Priesthood, the Melchizedek Priesthood, and the First Presidency of the Church, were laid.  The cornerstones still exist on the land, and are preserved in glass, with markers explaining the representation of each cornerstone.

The monument describes that the Lord had consecrated the land to be a Holy and Sacred land, and commanded that a temple should be built there.

Prior to their being driven out, there were roughly 5,000 members of the church living in the area.  There were several stores, and businesses, as well as 150 houses.  Today, there is nothing.  Not a thing, except this monument, and a general store.  The land is all farmland.  The houses had either been torn down or burned when the saints were driven from the land.

Again, it was very overwhelming for me to see what the saints had to go through for the gospel.  My heart is full of gratitude that we live in a day and age where we can practice our religion, without the extent of persecution that they had to go through.

The land surrounding the Temple Site was so serene and peaceful.  Nick and I saw about twelve deer leaping through the tall grass together.  I tried to put myself in the pioneer's shoes, and felt that I would have wanted to settle here as well, if I were them.

Another amazing spiritual experience on this land.  I could have stayed here all day to take in the Spirit that I felt here.

Haun's Mill

The Haun's Mill Massacre site was the last church history site we visited.  This was the site where 75 LDS families resided peacefully.  The land itself is very peaceful.  40 acres, along a small river.  The site is about 4 miles down a gravel road.

On October 30, 1838, 250 Missourians stormed the land, and murdered 19 Saints, and injured 13.  This was one of the worst massacres of the "Mormon War" in the 1800's.  Men, women, and children were murdered.  One account was of a 9 year old boy, who hid in the mill during the attack.  He was found, and pulled out, and a man held a musket to his head and killed him.  The man's remarks were "Knits turn into lice, and this one would have turned into a Mormon."

The bodies were then put into a well, and a marker stone was place over the well to mark where the bodies rested.  The land has changed hands several times, and the marker stone has been moved several times.  The exact location of the well is no longer known.  The Church recently purchased the land in April, and have created a monument to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

The feeling of this land was very somber.  Very heart wrenching to know the horrible act that had occurred there.  These people truly consecrated their lives to the church, and many gave their lives for their faith.  Once again, I feel so grateful for the opportunities that we have today, and for the sacrifices of those who went before us, so that we can worship, and proclaim our faith proudly.