Sunday, June 17, 2012

Unique New York

On May 14, our family had the opportunity to fly to New York for my sister, Faith's, wedding.  We went out a few days early so that we could see some of the important sites to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the earth in the early 19th century.  We flew to Newark on the afternoon of the 14th, and drove to Newburgh, NY, where Faith's fiance, Jorge, grew up, to spend the night.  Family members trickled in all evening, and by morning we were all there, and ready to push off on the next leg of our journey: a five hour drive to Palmyra, in upstate New York.  

Jared and Eloise were troopers for all of the driving.  There was very little whining while we were driving.  Eloise started to hate getting into the carseat, and potty stops increased as we went along, but all in all, the drive could have been a lot worse.  
We decided at the last minute to detour to Fayette, New York, where the LDS church was officially organized on April 6, 1830.  Here is a picture of a restored period cabin on the site where the Whitmer farm stood.  The prophet Joseph Smith was living here when he organized the church on this very spot.  It is a very beautiful place in some very beautiful farm country.  
I would like to now show you an awesome picture of our family taken at this location, but this is about it.  I believe Jared is trying to put his finger in my eye.  In other versions of this picture Eloise had her finger in my eye, or Jared was trying to leap from Todd's arms.  Not our most successful photo shoot, but we were really happy to be there.  I think Jared even understood the significance of the place on a very simple level.
We spent the night near Palmyra and spent the following day (Wednesday, May 16) visiting important sites in Palmyra.  First we went to the Smith family farm.  The rest of the family met early for a family devotional in the Sacred Grove, where Joseph Smith received a vision of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ.  We were travel weary and jet lagged, so we met up with everyone else later in the morning at the Smith family farm.  Here are Aaron, Cheyenne, and Ryan (carrying baby Maren) going into the cabin where the Smith family lived when Joseph Smith received his first vision, and several visitations from angels.
Jared loves poking around in other people's houses.  He loved touring these restored cabins.  
On the road between the cabin and the larger Smith home, there is a beautiful viewpoint of the Palmyra temple.  Our family is on the left, next to my mom, then Faith, Lauren (who came with Cheyenne to help with babysitting), Cheyenne, Aaron (who would not look away from the temple once he spotted it), Annika, Maren, and Ryan.
We actually got a pretty good portrait at the Smith home.  This makes up for our Whitmer farm picture disaster.
After touring the farm and learning a little bit about it, we had a picnic lunch.  Here is Aaron hiding from the hot sun under a picnic table.  
After lunch we went to the Palmyra temple to play and rest for a little while.  Eventually the wind started to pick up, and we decided that we had better go take in some more outdoor sites before we got soaked in a downpour.
On the three minute drive between the temple and the Hill Cumorah, Aaron and Eloise fell asleep.  We let Eloise nap in her carseat while we checked out the monument.  On this hill, the ancient prophet Moroni buried the plates containing the record of his people as they were about to be destroyed.  Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith as an angel and directed him to this spot to find the record, which he later translated, by the power of God.  The record is now published as the Book of Mormon.  
Classy Grandma finally smiled for the camera at the Hill Cumorah monument. 
We experienced a Hill Cumorah miracle.  When we drove up the hill it was raining, but the rain slowed to a stop as we got out of the car, and didn't start again until we were driving back down.  
After our stop at the Hill Cumorah, we drove into Palmyra proper to see the Grandin press where the Book of Mormon was first published.  Here is a dark picture of Anni, Ryan, and baby Maren at the press.  I just remembered that I never actually posted about Miss Maren being born.  I am not very on top of things lately.  Maren was born February 5, 2012, on her due date.  She is cute and round and squishy, and oh-so-sweet.
Ryan ran into a couple of friends from back home in tiny little Price, Utah serving as missionaries in the Grandin press.  It's a small world.
The Grandin tour got a little bit too long for a couple of toured out little Knights, who don't have a lot of interest in 19th century printing and bookmaking techniques.  When we could pull ourselves away, we took our family over to the sacred grove.  Here is Jared's sacred grove portrait.
We have been learning a lot about Joseph Smith in our family this year, since we are reading the Doctrine and Covenants (a book of revelations, mostly received by Joseph Smith).  Jared really liked the sacred grove.  
Todd has incredible family picture skills.  He reached out to take the picture, everyone looked, and looked happy, and our moment was immortalized.
I am glad we got to visit all of these places that we had only read about.  I hope Jared and Eloise will remember something about their experience in these sacred places.

We caravanned part way back through New York that evening, stopping in time for dinner and a cousin bath.  On Thursday, we all took different routes to our hotel in Newark.  The Knights drove through Pennsylvania, stopping for a picnic lunch in Scranton, the setting of the TV show "The Office."  We didn't have any Dwight sightings, though.  The Warnock car drove through New York City to get some sightseeing in.  The Jensen car took Faith back to Poughkeepsie to pick up some things for her and Jorge, who joined us that night.  Seth flew into New York that afternoon, and Faith's friends Matt and Jessica met up with us for the remainder of the trip.
On Thursday evening, Todd and I watched all of the kids while most of the group went to New York City to see Broadway shows.  Jared and Aaron had a great time watching for airplanes out the window of their hotel room, which faced toward the Newark airport, and watching "Ice Age."
 It was nice to have a restful evening in with the kids after all of the traveling and sightseeing of the last few days, and before all of the wedding craziness of Friday and Saturday began.

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