Niagara Falls

Friday morning we said our good-byes to Grandma and Grandpa- as they departed on the plane and we packed up the car, and headed to Kirtland. On our drive there, we took a short detour to see Niagara Falls. As we neared the falls it started pouring rain. We were a little bit unprepared without umbrellas, but determined to see the falls we grabbed our jackets and started out to get very wet . We parked at a building nearby and went inside to try and see them from up on the top floor. Thank you Brianna for this great picture from the top floor. 

Luckily, by the time we got back outside the rain had almost stopped, and we were able to walk the short ways to the falls without getting totally soaked. We bundled Scott up in the front carrier and zipped him up in Aaron’s coat. We got some pretty funny looks from people and they tried to figure out what was going on with just this baby’s head and toes peaking out.scott in jacket front blog

Niagara falls blog

Niagara Falls family picture blog  

scott in jacket blogAustin niagara falls blogmonae with kids niagara falls blog

It was so cool to watch thousands of gallons of water pour off the end of those cliffs each second. I didn’t think there would be so much spray from them. We were getting super misty and I kept checking to see if it had started raining again. Nope, just the falls. The humidity was making Abby and Erika’s hair super curly, and even my hair was having a hard time staying straight.

 niagara falls american side blog

Abby with her little hand on the hip pose as usual, and  my two little curly girls.

Abby niagara falls blog

Abby and Erika niagara falls blog


The Martin Harris Home

On Thursday morning we started out by visiting the Martin Harris Home. It now serves as living quarters for senior missionaries serving in that area, so we weren’t able to go inside. From the outside through you get a feel for how well off the Harris family was, and how generous Martin Harris was to mortgage his farm to help print The Book of Mormon. The outside is made of cementing stones to the wall. They would pick the smoothest and nicest looking ones for the front of the house, and then the next nicest for the sides, and the least appealing for the back.

Martin Harris house blog

The Peter Whitmer farm

Thursday morning we took the short drive out to the Peter Whitmer farm, the place where the church was first organized in 1830. They now have built up a large chapel there that serves as the stake center for that area. The chapel is built to look like the buildings of that time with old architecture details and high ceilings.  After touring through the visitors center portion and viewing artwork depicting the organization of the church, we went to visit the old log cabin. The humble, simple setting of the first official church meeting has come a long way, to meeting in our large comfortable air conditioned church buildings of today.

 Peter Whitmer home blog

Peter Whitmer home inside blog

Hiking the Hill Cumorah

After seeing the large hill in the Hill  Cumorah pageant, the kids were excited to hike to the top and see it from that view as well. After some miscommunication about the trails, we ended up hiking the trail that was suppose to be easier, but turned out to be a lot harder to the top. After catching our breath we were able to see the monument at the top, the beautiful views of Palmyra, and imagine what is was like when Joseph was there getting the plates. The children that were there to perform in the pageant were enjoying Primary activities from some of the adults, and as part of the activity were going on scavenger hunts all around us. As we started to walk down the hill, Abby had carried off a balloon that we thought was part of the activity. We popped it, and inside was a sweet testimony written from one of the children in the pageant.  Just another thing to make a lasting impression on our family and strengthen our testimonies.

Hill Cumorah Monument bllog

Austin and Brooke hill Cumorah blog

Hill Cumorah family blog Hill Cumorah flowers blog

Abby and Erika by monument blog

The Palmyra Temple

Our last stop of the day was the Palmyra temple. It looks very similar to other smaller temples, and has a neat stained glass window of the tree of life. As we walked around the temple taking pictures Abby was the one who knew what she wanted. She insisted on having her picture taken by the temple and wanted one with Grandma and Grandpa.  I love her little pose-so cute! She refused any other picture taking until her requests were filled.

Abby by the temple blog

Abby with Gand G blog

kids with grandma and grandpa by temple blog

temple family picture

After we took family pictures the kids helped to get Grandpa to smile for his pictures too.Grandma and Grandpa by temple blog

We thought that it was pretty neat that the Palmyra temple was built in 2000-the same year that Austin was born.

Austin by temple blog

One of my favorite quotes from last General Conference was one by Elder Gary E. Stevenson Of the Seventy

“Even our young children have been encouraged to visit the temple grounds and touch the temple. President Thomas S. Monson once counseled, “As we touch the temple, the temple will touch us.”

We have let our children touch the Atlanta temple and now the Palmyra temple. To feel the little shiny stones put together to form the walls of this beautiful building, to feel the Spirit of this sacred house, to know that someday they too can go inside and partake of the blessings there. I love the temple so much. I love that I can be sealed to my family forever and for the peace it brings in our lives.

kids hands by temple blog



Joseph Smith Sr. Farm

We spent all day Tuesday traveling through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York and finally arrived in Rochester, New York at about 9pm. Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Don were flying in earlier that day and were already at the hotel when we got there. We had another late night swim, and prepared for a full day the next day.

We had breakfast at the hotel on Wednesday morning and then set out for the sites to see in Palmyra for the rest of the day. The drive from Rochester to Palmyra was so beautiful. There were little farms all along the way, with neatly kept barns, rows and rows of corn, and  flowers in bloom everywhere. I never realized how many trees there were in New York. One of the senior missionaries reminded us that every part of tree free land there, was cleared to plant crops. It’s not like the Midwest where I grew up where there is open land for as far as the eye can see. Backbreaking work went into clearly land just to survive.

We decided to tour the Smith farm first that day. It was a special experience to see the places where Joseph Smith would have grown up, and feel of the sacred nature of the ground we walked on. I know the kids could feel of that Spirit too. Abby would walk around from place to place with her arms reverently folded. She turned to me when we were inside the log cabin and said, “Does Jesus live here?” She could feel the spirit radiating over the whole property, and her little body just knew that our Heavenly Father was near. I hope she will remember that feeling all the time, and know that he is always that near to us.

It was humbling to see how small the house was for their large family-5 kids in an upstairs attic type room. (I won’t ever complain again about needing more space for our family) It was this upstairs room where the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph, and this same spot where he would have left from to go into a grove of trees and offer up a prayer that would change the whole earth. 

Smith Farm Family Picture blog

In the log cabin the kids loved seeing old scriptures that would have been around at the time of Joseph Smith. There was a lantern in the upstairs bedroom that I imagined Joseph reading by as a young 14 year old boy. The family scriptures lay on the kitchen table, opened to the place where he read in James. It left such an impression on me of the simple faith of this young man. The faith to go to a loving Father and know that he would answer his prayers.

Joseph Smith log cabin blog

Reading scriptures by candellight blog

On the gravel road walk from the log house to the frame house there is a view of the Palmyra temple.  It’s inspiring to see just a mile or less away from the place that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith there now lays the House of the Lord.

 Brianna holding Scott by fence blogMom and Dad temple blogScott flying with grandpa blog 

   We visited the larger frame house next, along with a barn and the coopers shop. The barn was amazing. Aaron and I decided we didn’t need a larger house with a playroom, just a barn like this one. It was a little boys dream. Enormous  ceilings and huge sliding doors on both sides let in tons of light. I could imagine kids of the time spending hours in there playing.

Austin by covered wagon blog

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Brooke in barn blog

All of the kids loved to hear the stories that were told as we visited each of the houses. Abby and Brooke’s favorite story was the “rip up the floor” story.  One of the senior missionaries shared the account of one time when the mobs were coming to persecute Joseph. He was prompted to move the plates three different times to keep them safe. One  of the times he moved them out to the Cooper’s Shop ( a building shed) and placed them in a loft area used for keeping wood and other supplies for making barrels. The mob came in, ripped up the floor, found an empty box, tore apart the rest of the area in search of the plates, and finally left. The plates were protected, mere feet above their heads the whole time. When we returned to the hotel that night Abby would keep asking Brooke to tell the story again and again. Brooke would patiently rehearse the story to her, only to have her request it again at the end. It made me happy to see them love to stories of the workings of the Lord. This truly is His work on the earth.

Cooper shop blog

As we walked towards the Sacred Grove we came to a marker retelling the story of when the angel Moroni had visited Joseph during the night and how tired he had been the next day. On returning to the house he fell over a fence too exhausted to go on. The angel Moroni appeared again to him and rehearsed all he had before and then told him to tell his father what had happened. There is an orchard there planted as it would have been at the time, and a view of the log cabin from his perspective.

moroni by fence blog 

I found out how nice it was to have more than one person taking pictures. Thanks mom and Brianna for sharing your pictures. When I got home and uploaded mine to the computer, I realized how few I had of the whole family together. It was nice to have some with me in them too.

The Sacred Grove

First Vision statue blog

The visitors center by the Sacred Grove had this beautiful statue inside. It almost  brought me to tears to realize where I actually was. My testimony was definitely strengthened on this trip, and as I look back through pictures and write down my journaling, the Spirit confirms to me again in the strongest way the Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father and His son Jesus Christ in that humble grove of trees.

sacred grove blog

I was so grateful to have my parents there with us. There were enough adults for us each to pair up with one of the older children and have some time walking alone with them through the Sacred Grove. It was great for my children to get to hear their grandparents bear testimony of what happened in this sacred place. Though there were many people visiting there that day, everyone was quiet, and it was as peaceful as if we were there alone.

  Aaron and Erika in sacred grove blog

Grandpa took Erika, Scott, and Brianna with him, Grandma took Brooke with her, Aaron took Austin with him, and I took Abby with me. I pushed her in the stroller, than we would stop and talk. She listened intently as I told her the story of the First Vision, quietly asking questions, and then trying to take it all in. There was a wonderful spirit there.

Grandpa holding Scott sacred grove black and white blog

We met up and walked through the grove together for a while, trying to guess which big old trees might have been there when Joseph Smith was,the kids were so good to quiet and reverently “chase” some chipmunks running through the forest, and Grandpa even offered his shoulder and got Scott to take a nap for us. It was a great way to end our tour there at the farm.