Samantha and two others from my single's ward made the trip up to Palmyra last Friday night. It didn't take long to see that the trip was going to be top notch because there's NO end to the fun you can have in an enclosed space with humorous company. High speeds don't hurt either, in my opinion.
We didn't arrive at the campsite until 1 in the morning, at which point we set up two tents--a 10 foot by 10 foot tent for the three females (affectionately referred to as "the harem") and the "baby tent" at its door for the guy who drove us. He protested against the name because he says he has a smaller tent, but you should have seen it. It was, in fact, a baby tent.
The next morning, we spent the day touring every site we could find--and even a few we couldn't (as was the case with the Martin Harris farmhouse.) We started with the Book of Mormon printing site. It was that one that really resonated with me the most for some reason. The reality of what happened there wasn't lost on me, and I could feel that the sister missionary's testimony was true. She mentioned that the process of printing the Book of Mormon (a rather long and detailed process) could be likened unto the growth of a testimony, and I had never thought of it like that before. It made a lot of sense to me though, and it's an analogy I'll probably hold onto for future reference/ use.
After the Grandin print shop, we went to the Smith farm. It was a beautiful day outside, which we commented on repeatedly. There was an elderly sister that passed us and pointed out that off to our left we could see the Palmyra temple.
She made a comment that it's easier to notice things like that when we aren't so busy talking to each other. As I think about how much more I could have taken away from the trip had I not been jabbering on so incessantly or so worried about taking pictures, I kind of wish I would have taken her advice to heart.
We didn't do any of the tours at the Sacred Grove or the Smith farm. As we walked through the Sacred Grove, we debated and speculated about where we thought it was. There are a series of circular paths, none of which make any particular spot stand out as the Site of the First Vision. I was a little disappointed about that. We did take a little detour off of one path which, in hindsight, seems to be pretty promising based on the artwork behind the Christus in the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center--but I suppose I'll never know. At least, not in this life.
As we were leaving, we saw this. Note the front license plate.
We then made our way over to the Palmyra temple. As is my tradition, I took a ton of pictures. Considering it was the second temple I've been to in the past week, I decided I needed to get a map and start marking off the ones I get to see. I would love to have the means to someday see them all--but I would also love for them to continue to grow in number so as to make that pretty much impossible. The Palmyra temple is gorgeous in it's own right. I was only there briefly, but its beauty is hard to miss.
We then decided to go find Alvin Smith's grave. That required quite a bit more savviness than we actually possessed between the four of us, so we enlisted the help of Google. The directions did not improve. (For future reference, his grave is on the hill across the street from the Catholic church)
We managed to find the Martin Harris farm site by accident in the process of turning around to go find Alvin Smith's grave. We eventually did find it, left to go get some crayons to do grave rubbings, and returned. In the five minutes we were there, we accumulated a ridiculous number of mosquito bites. Needless to say, the grave of the Prophet's beloved older brother is well protected.
We returned to the LDS bookstore at my request, and I just had to take a picture of the anti-Mormon truck. (Waste your time on that website if you wish. The people that were there that day, from what I'm told, were hired actors that certainly wouldn't.)
I wonder how many starving children could have been fed with the money that was spent on that truck. One of the mysteries of the Kingdom, I suppose.
We eventually made our way over to the Hill Cumorah. And let me tell you, it's a BIG hill. I won't lie, it winded me. But this statue of Moroni was impressive. I've never seen it or anything like it before.
We rejoined one of our friends at the bottom of the hill. We were sitting there comfortably and happily when I got a really FUN phone call.
"Hello... oh I'm just fine!... What's that?... You need me to teach tomorrow?... SURE!... I mean, I'm in Palmyra right now, but I should make it back in time to teach tomorrow... Great!... OK, enjoy your evening. Buh-bye."
Why did I do that? Because Heavenly Father told me two weeks ago that I was going to be teaching that lesson, and I couldn't bring myself to say no because of it. He had given me plenty of notice, and it was my fault I hadn't yet prepared.
The guy who came with us (affectionately nickname "Mom" by this point because of how prepared he was for our lack of being prepared) let me use the manual on his blackberry to start taking notes for my lesson.
Once I realized I was fighting a losing battle, I took a break and we made our way over to the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center. They had some pretty cool stuff in there--like Sister SHAKESPEARE!
Yeah. That's pretty much made of awesome!
By the time we were ready to leave, it was time for dinner. I stole a salt potato from one of my friends who bought them. I thought they were tasty, but I don't think the one I had nearly as much salt as the rest of them because she kept saying they were too salty. So I'm thinking my judgment doesn't count for anything.
It was pretty much a waiting game after that. The Pageant wasn't going to start until it was dark. And cold. And Mom came through for us again by giving us a blanket. Go Mom!
Then, at last, it began! YAY!
My camera wasn't exactly equipped for what I was demanding of it. Mom's camera was AMAZING! Not that I can show you. But trust me. His pictures were great.
This one is probably my favorite that I took. I love Lehi's dream. And this scene is pretty much my favorite scene of it. I know something of the desire of having tasted of the fruit which is sweet above all that is sweet, and wanting desperately for my family to do the same.
It was a great experience. I'm glad I was able to go, and I highly recommend the experience to anyone. Unless you're an anti-with a big yellow truck, in which case I have something special for you.
If you're familiar with Demotivators (Despair.com), let's just say I made one.
(More on the drive home and my lesson later.)