We're finally home and I tell ya, it's wonderful to be home! We thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but as Dorothy said, ''there's no place like home!'' This is our last video from Wednesday morning in Washington DC. We visited Arlington Cemetary, watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and then went to the Lincoln Memorial. I hope you've enjoyed our little tour of this beautiful land we live in and feel inspired to take your own journey some day! :)
We took the shuttle from the Sheraton where we're staying in Arlington, VA to the Metro at the Reagan Airport and then took the Metro to the Smithsonian. We saw Capital Hill, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court,and the National Air and Space Museum. We ended our day at the National Archives to see the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
We walked so much that our feet were sore. We headed back to our hotel by around 6pm, ordered from an Italian restaurant that delivered and vegged out, hoping to recoup for another day of walking in Washington. We're beginning to see we should have booked another night in here so we wouldn't be so rushed.
The following video shows some of the sites we saw. Tomorrow we hope to hit the monuments and the Arlington Cemetary.
We went to Hershey's Chocolate World today and watched how they make chocolate and bought a bunch to snack on. Yum! :)
Then we drove to Washington DC and walked around the outside of the Washington DC temple. The last time I was at this temple was when I was a teenager. Believe it or not, that was the closest temple to us back in those days. Now we have Atlanta and Nashville that are each within a couple hours drive. Back in the 80's our youth groups used to take a school bus up there, drive the 12 hours, attend the temple and drive back the next day.
The following is a video of our trip to the Washington DC temple. It brought back a lot of fond memories.
The following video shows some of the actors before the Hill Cumorah Pageant; the Joseph Smith, Sr. Farm in Palmyra, NY; the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith saw the First Vision; the E.B. Granger Printing Press where the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon were printed, and the Palmyra Temple.
This completes our tour of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints history sites. Today we’re going to Hershey Pennsylvania and will spend the remainder of the trip in Washington DC and traveling home.
I’m a little behind on my posts because we’ve been going solid for the past couple days. We’re currently in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and we’ll be going to Hershey tomorrow. Can’t wait to get lots of chocolate!
On Saturday we went to Niagara Falls. What an amazing spectacle that was. We had no idea that you could stand by the falls and feel the water spraying on you from the intense winds created by the falls. Loved it!
On Saturday evening we attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant – an annual performance our church puts on in the Palmyra NY area. It’s a reenactment of highlights from the Book of Mormon and tells the story of a man named Lehi and his sons who escaped Jerusalem with their wives just before it was destroyed in 600 BC (during the time of Jeremiah). They built a boat, crossed the ocean, and settled in the Americas. These are the forebears of today’s Native Americans.
They took with them the equivalent of the first 5 books of the Old Testament. Half of them became wicked (the Lamanites) and the other half continued to serve God (the Nephites). The Nephites looked forward to the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. They kept records on thin golden pages (called plates). About 400 BC, a prophet named Mormon made an abridgement of these records and called it The Book of Mormon. When a great war destroyed the Nephites and Mormon was killed in battle, his son Moroni hid the golden plates in the Hill Cumorah in Palmyra, New York (the site of the pageant).
The central story of the Book of Mormon is Christ’s visit to the America’s after his resurrection. He descended from heaven, blessed their children, healed their sick, and taught them. This was beautifully depicted in the performance with a glowing figure descending out of heaven. It looked very authentic. The special effects were spectacular and the kids loved it. It’s something they won’t soon forget.
I’ll include photos of the pageant in my next video.
Greg, Caleb, Joshua and Jillian went to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame this morning while Laurel took Nate and Elijah swimming at the hotel. I used the morning to catch up on a few things and relax a little. When they returned from the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, we all went to lunch at Panera and then headed back to the Kirtland historic district to take the tour.
The town has been restored to its 1830’s condition and is like stepping back in time. The tour started with an excellent movie recapping the events of the 1830’s as depicted in the diary of Elizabeth Whitney (Newell K. Whitney’s wife). She kept a thorough diary of events and her husband kept meticulous records of his store – giving something for restorers to go by when recreating the town.
After the movie, we toured the Sawmill, the Ashery, the Whitney Home and the Whitney store.
The video below is a quick tour of the things we saw.
We drove from Cincinnati to Hiram Ohio to go to the historic Johnson Farm. This farm was the dream home of John and Elsa Johnson who once lived in a log cabin with over a dozen children. After 10 years, they finally saved up enough to buy this huge farm and build the impressive farmhouse in the 1830’s.
It was here that a local protestant minister brought John and Elsa a copy of the Book of Mormon. They stayed up with the minister into the night reading and by the next morning they wanted to set off for Kirtland to meet the prophet Joseph Smith who had translated the book.
Elsa, whose right elbow was severely affected by arthritis and couldn’t be bent or lifted above her head, was particularly anxious to meet Joseph because she heard of the power of the priesthood he held and the ability to heal the sick. They met the prophet and he asked her if she had sufficient faith in Jesus Christ to be healed. She assured him she did and he blessed her. From that point, her arm worked perfectly and it was a good thing it did for she had a lot of hard work ahead of her. After returning to their farm, the Johnsons spread the good news about what they had found and soon a congregation of 200 people was attending meetings at the Johnson Farm. Joseph Smith came and taught every Sunday morning on the Johnson’s front porch steps. Their home also became lodging for traveling believers. Before long Elsa was making 16 loaves of bread a day for the members of the church who stayed at their home.
When Joseph and Emma didn’t have a place to live, the Johnson’s offered them space in their home. John and Elsa gave up their master bedroom with the best natural lighting for Joseph and Sidney Rigdon to work on the translation of the Bible. It was here that Doctrine and Covenants 76 was given. It is also here where Joseph was taking care of his twin son who had the measles when Joseph was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night by a mob. He and Sidney were beaten, tarred, feathered and left for dead. The farmhouse door was left open and the cold night air came into the house, exposing the children. The frigid air and the measles made a deadly combination for little Joseph Murdock Smith who died five days later. He was the fourth child Joseph and Emma buried.
For Joseph Smith, the Johnson Farm held both sublime manifestations of eternity and the darkest heart-wrenching moments of his life. I think it only fitting that in this place where he and Emma grieved the death of yet another child, God comforted him with the revelation of the Savior’s infinite mercy and grace:
In my opinion there is no greater witness of Jesus Christ than these words by Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24:
"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”
As for John and Elsa Johnson, God blessed them with abundance and thus they were able to serve Him and His children in ways that no one else could. Their dedication and faithfulness has earned them a significant place in history, and it’s wonderful to see it preserved.
Next we traveled 45 minutes to Kirtland Ohio to see the Kirtland Temple. This was the first temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The saints abandoned it within 3 years when the church experienced some of its darkest hours. A bank failed and dissensions arose, splintering the church into various groups. From here the main body of members who remained faithful moved to Missouri and then to Nauvoo, IL. After Joseph and his brother Hyrum were falsely incarcerated in Carthage Jail, IL and murdered by a mob, the members took their exodus and blazed a trail to the Salt Lake Valley under the direction of Brigham Young.
A small fragment of members chose not to follow Brigham Young. Instead they formed their own church with Joseph’s son Joseph Smith, III as their leader. These people became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Today they are called The Community of Christ. While the main body of the church continued to grow to over thirteen million members today, the Community of Christ is a significantly smaller group. Yet, they do own the Kirtland Temple and the grounds surrounding it. They also own the copyrights to Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the standard King James Version with excerpts of Joseph’s translation in the footnotes and the appendix.
I’ve always wanted a copy of Joseph’s translation so when Caleb and I saw it in the gift shop at the Kirtland Temple, we had to have one. It’s broken into two columns with the King James Version on one side and Joseph’s translation on the other. We’re looking forward to digging into it for the treasures we’ll find within its pages.
Of the two locations we visited on Thursday, the Spirit was so thick you could scoop it with a spoon at the Johnson Farm – especially in the room where Joseph was sleeping with little Joseph the night he was attacked and also in the room where Joseph and Sidney received the series of visions that resulted in Doctrine & Covenants 76. Even the grounds themselves had a calming peaceful feeling about them. The minute we stepped out of the car we felt the same Spirit we’d feel at a chapel or a temple. Couple that with the guided tour by the sister missionaries and it was an amazing experience.
There was a marked difference between the farm and the Kirtland Temple. The temple was beautiful and it was wonderful to be able to visit it, but it felt like any other historical building. In comparison with the Johnson farm, there was something missing. The glory of its angelic moments long since past, it has forgotten its purpose -- much like what can happen to any of us who forget the purpose for which God has created us. “Hollow” was the word Caleb used as he leaned over and marked the contrast in this “temple” and those we attend today.
For me, the message of the day was about holy places dedicated to God’s purposes. A farmhouse in the middle of the country can be more sacred than the finest historic temple. Yes, it is the Spirit of God which makes a holy place and it is remaining true to our God-given mission that makes our lives Spirit-filled as well.
Today was the first day of our road trip across the eastern United States. Each day we have a theme or challenge. Today’s challenge we called “Pollyanna Day.” Our goal – to look for the good and photograph or record our favorite Pollyanna Moment in some way.
After 5 hours of driving, we stopped for lunch at Cheddars in Lexington Kentucky. Our IdeaMarketers.com homeschooling and email marketing expert, Lisa Rae Preston, met us there. Lisa has such a fun and bubbly personality that this was definitely the highlight of my day. The audio’s not that great in this video clip, but you should get a feel for how fun Lisa can be. Be sure to catch audio segments with Lisa on the CreateAWOW Podcast here.
After lunch we set off for Cincinnati, Ohio. The hour and a half drive turned into three when we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic which we think was caused by a wreck. But much to our pleasant surprise, we received another Pollyanna moment when we reached our hotel. We’d reserved 2 rooms for our family at the Hyatt through Hotwire.com. But when I checked in, the desk clerk insisted we had 3 rooms – already paid for. No idea how that happened. I told him we had 2, but he insisted we had 3 coming to us. So who am I to complain? Our two teenage boys loved this because they got a room to themselves with a big double bed apiece to curl up on and continue their day-long marathon viewing of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Here’s a photo of our room keys – showing our 3 rooms for the already great deal we’d gotten on 2.
The little kids loved the pool at the hotel. They’re little fish so that was definitely their favorite part – besides the big rooms with the giant screen TV’s.
If you have ideas for daily challenges we can pursue as we visit points in Ohio, Hershey Pennsylvania, Palmyra New York, Niagara Falls and Washington DC, I’d love to hear them!