Wednesday, July 9, 2008

July 9, 2008

It's been a long time since we have been able to have a good long vacation. Mike has been attending Stephen's Henagers college for the past 3 1/2 years and finally graduated June 19, 2008 so when Mom and Dad mentioned they would be going to Hershey, PA for the world horseshoe tournament, we decided to join them. We didn't decide to join them just for the free chocolate tour, but to get to go back East where both Mike and I served our missions. Mike served in the Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission June 1993-1995 and I served in the New York Rochester Mission July 1994-November 1995. We knew if we ever went back East together, we would need at least 4 weeks to see everything we would want to show each other, so we had the challenge to see the highlights in the next two weeks.
It started with the red-eye flight to Buffalo, NY, arriving around 9am ready to conquer all our dreams. Our first stop was to visit Liz Vito and her daughters Diane and Ashley. Liz was one of the many people I was able to share the gospel with while serving in Lockport, NY. It was exciting to see them after all these years (and to know they still remember me), we had a good visit walking down memory lane.

Niagra Falls

Our next stop was to the ever famous Niagra Falls!! It doesn't matter how many times you see it, it is still amazing to see and this time I got to see it on the Maid of the Mist. That name was a bit of an understatement since we got more then a mist amount--now I see why the ticket price includes the ponchos. Funny enough, the ponchos didn't work that good. We all still come out soaked from the boat ride. The wind was blowing so much that it felt like a good 'ole fashion, cloud burst. I remember getting caught in a few of those while I was tracking, but I wasn't prepared with a poncho back then. How silly of me.
The video clip I attached shows the water as it falls. I can not believe that anyone is crazy enough to ever want to set a record by risking their lives to drop off that big fall, especially if you see all the rocks below (which were hard to see this
time because of all the "mist"!!

The 3rd picture you can see the crazy people who are trying to walk up to get a closer look at the falls....well, not to be out done, we experienced that one too. There again the wind and water soaked us and made it very difficult to see anything. As we laughed and joked about not being able to see anything, someone walked by us and told us to look through the plastic of the ponchos and then we would be able to see. We could see better, but everything looked a little blue, so we just hurried back down, out of the water.

Palmyra, NY

The next two days, of our trip, were spent in the Palmyra area. We visited the Joseph Smith Farm, Sacred Grove, Palmyra Temple, Peter Whitmer Farm in Fayette, the Grandin Bldg where the first Book of Mormon was published, then spent Friday night watching the Hill Camorah Pageant.
Everything has changed so much, that I felt like I was going there for the first time. Inside the Joseph Smith visitor center they had an awesome statue of the first vision, all in white. It took up a majority of the room and was breath-taking when you saw it. Most of the farm had new buildings, even the Smith house I used to know changed from when I was there.
The Sacred Grove was peaceful. We spent most of the time trying to figure out which trees were thought to be the original 6 when Joseph prayed there. Even the new trails in the grove made it hard for me to remember where I once prayed or swatted misquitos or the tree I sat by for a picture. You would think trees wouldn't change much, but when they make new trails, and tell you to stay on those trails, it's hard to walk down memory lane.
We did search to find the perfect leaf to put in our Book of Mormon when we get back home. That was one thing Mike really wanted everyone to have, since I already had one in my book. I love to open my book an see the leaf there that I got from the Sacred Grove. It helps me remember the First Vision and my mission and I hope that my kids will always remember this trip and know that I know that God and Jesus did visit Joseph and that he restored the true church on the earth. Our family has been so blessed with knowing the true gospel. Every visitor center we went to, they wanted referrals. It's amazing the names that would come to my mind of who I should share my testimony with or just to give a name. Each time a different one would come to me. There are people waiting to hear the gospel, and sometime they just need a friend to help nudge them towards the truth. It may not happen quickly, but maybe with time, prayer, and love, the gospel will spread to everyone.
The pageant of course was the biggest highlight!! I expected to see families I used to know, but either they weren't there or it's been so long, that I didn't recognize anyone--at least from my mission. I say that because we ran into relatives and people from home, which I thought was funny. It's amazing that miles away from home, you still can find people you know at church sites. If we didn't have to leave that night to the condo we reserved in Pennsylvania, Mike would have liked to stay and watch pageant again the next night. It was as good as I remember, I can't tell you all the changes since I can't remember every detail and what it was like, but I think all the water they had this year was new. One thing that doesn't change, and that's the spirit there.
We talked to a girl that was converted a year ago because of the pageant. I am not surprised. I don't know how anyone could see it and not feel the strong spirit there and know it is true. We actually felt the same about the Manti pageant too--it must tell you something about the church, humm!

Monday, July 7, 2008

July 13-17

Of course, no Eastern trip would be complete without a stop to Harmony, PA to see the site where the Priesthood was restored. Mike & I are standing where the first baptisms took place after the Aaronic Priesthood was restored.
This picture was taken to duplicate Mike's picture he had taken while he served his mission here. It's one of very few pictures I have found from Mike's mission. We spent Sunday driving to Tunkhannock, PA to attend church at the branch the Mike spent 9 months of his mission at.
It's amazing to think so much time has passed since we both served our missions (14 years), so it was no surprise when we returned to see some people, that they too had passed on. Pop Lane (father of the Lane family) was not at church. Mike found out that he passed away, and because of his absence, his family no longer attended church anymore. This was a little sad and not the expected visit we hoped for.


My sister Lori and her family (I guess just kids) were able to make the visit up to Hershey, PA to stay with us for the week we were there. It was a fun reunion to get to see everyone and spend time together again after 3 1/2 years. We were able to tour the chocolate factory and get an upclose sniff of all that chocolate--I don't care who you are, you can't not like chocolate when you are here. It smells so good and the chocolate tastes more mouth-watering. And they love to hand out free samples, so you better go hungry for chocolate.

Of course we got to go swimming to cool off from the heat and humidity.

Jayden and Jessie were cute buds. Jessie kept saying things like, "Hey, he looks like me" or "He could be my brother". I guess the red hair helped him feel at home