Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photos from Trio to NY and OH

Click here to see the photos.  Don't forget to read the captions to the right.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Family Trip to Sacred Grove and Other Church Sites

Last year I felt impressed to get Brad to the Sacred Grove.  He is 14 and I thought it would have a big impact on him to be there at the age that Joseph Smith was at the time of the first vision.  I told Brian that even if he just took Brad and the two of them went, that would be great.  We tried to arrange it for fall break, but Brad was not able to miss school on either end of the break and flying out on the weekends was extremely pricey, as opposed to just pricey.  So we put it off.  The feeling never left me.  We considered Christmas break, but thought it would be rough in the middle of winter.  We considered Spring.  We decided that we all would go.  The older kids could benefit.  It would be a trick for the younger ones, but it would be good to be together as a family.  Brian began looking for tickets and nothing was working out.  We looked into other trips.  Nothing was falling into place.  We looked at New York again and found a decent priced flight that hadn't been there before.  We booked it!  For all nine of us!  It seemed crazy, but I felt good about it.  I knew it would be okay.  I also knew it wouldn't be easy.  I was right about both.

So, as the time grew closer we realized that we would be there over Easter.  How cool is that!?  We would also be there during the anniversary of the organization of the Church.  We were excited about that.

I began packing earlier than I usually do for trips.  I was preparing for days and trying to think of everything.  We buddied up the kids.  Brad and Wesley, Aubryn  and Rylan, Reagan and Brian, and James and Eden (which meant he was my helper.  James always behaves better when he is helping.)  The bags were packed.  I packed for nine people, including diapers and snacks, in FIVE carry ons.  Brian, Brad and I all carried a duffel bag.  Aubryn and Reagan pulled a small pull suitcase.  Each of the kids also wore there own back pack.  It had small activities and snacks.  I had to keep them light.  They all had to wear their coats and put gloves and hats in their pockets or back packs.  We knew it was going to be cold there.  We had to pack warm clothing too.

Early Wednesday morning, April 1, 2015, we were up around 4:00am and loaded everyone up in the van.  The luggage was already to go.  Everyone just grabbed their coat and a banana.  We made it to the airport and it was a bit of a challenge to get the carseats up to the counter and checked in, but once we did that, it was much more manageable.  Security check was annoying.  Even boarding plane and stuffing bags in the overhead compartment and everyone finding there seat was tricky, but we managed to do it without any trouble.  I was worried how the kids would do on the flight, but they all did really well.  They were fascinated with flying.  I had to shush Reagan and James a few times for saying, "We're going to crash!" and other things they thought were funny.  "We're falling!"  "Shhh!"  After we landed, it was a challenge again to carry the car seats (3 of them) to the car rental business.  We rented two small cars.  We loaded up and were on our way to Niagra Falls!

I will load a link to the photos.  Next to the photos we tried to type as much as we could remember.  The photos aren't fabulous.  Most were taken by kids.  It was a small, simple camera.

What I can tell you here is some of my feelings about the trip.  When we set out on the journey I had low expectations for myself.  I was focused on letting Brad absorb as much as he could. I knew I would be juggling small children and trying to keep them quiet during tours.  I found, though, that it is nearly impossible to not be profoundly impacted by the places we visited.  I was overwhelmed, more in times of reflection, as I considered the things that had happened in the rooms, groves, hills, homes, stores, temples, steps, and sheds,  Really overwhelmed.  I was sitting in the car with two sleeping children while Brian took the other kids into the Visitor's Center at the Hill Cumorah.  I sat there thinking about where I was.  Joseph had been there.  I found the plates here.  Even more, Moroni had been here.  I also thought about all that people had done to help bring the Book of Mormon to be, though all of time.  I felt very bad for taking it for granted and being lazy about my scripture study.  I have had a renewed spirit to read it every day.  I want to.  I make the time to.  It is a priority now.  This trip changed me.

We only had a few mishaps on our vacation.  One speeding ticket.  One smashed finger in a car door.  Also, we forgot out camera, FORGOT our camera!?  How is that possible?  I thought Brad was bringing his, he thought I was bringing mine.  So we stopped in at a store on our way to Niagra Falls after we left the airport.

I have to tell you about being such a large family traveling.  We did get quite a few double takes.  I heard, "These can't all be yours can they?"  I was constantly counting heads.  Constantly.  In one hotel Brad went to the front desk to get a remote.  The guy was insistent that we lost it.  He was East Indian and had an accent.  "You have too many kids.  Too many kids.  You have too many kids..."  For the most part, I thought it was fun.  Traveling with two cars was actually kind of nice at times.  When two kids were having trouble together, we could just separate them.  Brian and I took turns following each other.  We did pretty good!  We did get to see a scary part of town in Buffalo, but honestly, I think that is all there is in Buffalo.  Super un-impressed with that town.  I think if I were to visit Russia, it would look like Buffalo.  Tons of old, run down, vacant buildings.  Especially warehouses and factories.  Lake Erie was frozen.  Everything was gray.  I felt that the drive from Buffalo to Kirtland was filled with old industrial towns like that.  Erie, Pennsylvania was similar. The Kirtland area was a little nicer.

This all got me thinking after talking with a couple who lived in Palmyra and told me it is a very poor area.  This chosen place had many sacred things happen there.  They could have embraced it.  Instead they ridiculed and persecuted Joseph and pushed them away.  I think the land there is pretty.  I think there was a time when the place flourished.  I think it has struggled.  I think they lost a great opportunity to support and accept a prophet of God.  I feel that the community has suffered.

Traveling home, we nearly missed a connecting flight in Atlanta after sitting on the tarmac waiting to park for 30 min.  When we got off the plane, we RAN.  All of us. (except Eden)  We ran to catch a tram to the next terminal.  We all hurried onto the tram and it took off,   We all fell over.  Then we hurried off and RAN to the gate.  We were the last to board the plane.  phew!!!

We rolled into the driveway at 2am.  We did have a little detour dropping off an old couple at their hotel.

Oh!  I forgot to tell you about the two souvenirs I bought.  The first was a replica of the first Book of Mormon that was published in the Grandin Print Shop.  It reads like a chapter book or novel.  There are no verses.  The second, was a 1830s coverlet.  We made a very random stop for a potty break.  There was an antique shop next door.  I found one that looks almost just like the ones that were on the beds of the Smith home.  I was in upstate New York and it was from the same time period.  I couldn't pass it up!  I love it and carried it the whole way home.  Now I'm not sure what to do with it.  I do not want it ruined.  Aubryn asked, "Why would you spend all that money on an old blanket that you cannot wash?"  She was so confused.

It was a very amazing trip.  I learned a lot and my testimony grew by leaps and bounds.  I know we can have a testimony of these things without going to these places, but it really affected me to be where they were and stand where they stood.  The stories were testimony building as well. I know that Joseph Smith said a prayer in the Sacred Grove and that God and Jesus Christ appeared to him.  I know the Book of Mormon is TRUE!!!  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet on the earth.  I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the TRUE church on the earth.  I know that God loves me.  I know these things with all my heart.