Tag Archives: Joseph Smith



It’s time to make chicken enchiladas for the missionaries.  I plan to make it with a white sauce and white cheddar and jack cheeses.  The nice thing about it is that it is mild and people can add their own heat (hot sauce) to it.


Our speakers at church talked about the Book of Mormon.  A comment was made about the impact it has on people’s lives.  It is so true.  As a result, reading and studying it people tend to behave better.

There are misconceptions as, well as false information, floating around about the Book of Mormon.  (The musical has nothing to do with the book, by the way.)  Thus, skeptics should put aside their bias about how we got the Book of Mormon, and read it carefully.  They discover there’s is something to it.  Careful reading dispels the myths that Joseph Smith plagiarized the book or made it up.

Sunday School

Sunday School is equally good.  Our lesson is on living prophets.  The instructor used Moses and the fiery serpents as an example. (Matt’s a great instructor.)

After Priesthood opening exercises I was asked to play the piano in Primary.  It has been a long time.  I’m rusty on many of the songs because I haven’t played them in ages.


Having dinner with the missionaries is fun.  We enjoy their company, and they enjoy the food (and hopefully our company too.)

The Israel Connection

The Israel Connection

What is the Israel Connection between Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

I don’t know how many non-LDS people know that Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have a great love for Israel.  The first prophet and president of the church, Joseph Smith, sent Orson Hyde to Jerusalem in 1841 to dedicate the land for the return of Abraham’s Children.  In October, 1979, after the church had acquired the property where the dedication took place, President Spencer W. Kimbal, dedicated a memorial garden to  Orson Hyde.  That same year BYU Jerusalem Center was announced.  In 1989, BYU Jerusalem Center was dedicated by President Howard W. Hunter.

I’d go back there in a heartbeat.  I love Israel and Jerusalem.  So, when I discovered this, it made me “homesick” for the land of my fathers.

I say the “land of my fathers” because I’m a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).  There are many people who fail to understand where they come from – Arabs – Abraham through Ishmael (most of them realize it), and Jews – Abraham through Isaac, Jacob and Judah (most of them realize this too).   What others don’t realize is that Jacob had 12 sons and the posterity of 10 of them are “lost”.  The point here is, much of the world is descended from Abraham.  So, yes, Israel is the land of my fathers.  (I’m descended from Jacob mostly through Joseph and partially through Judah.)

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Jerusalem at Night


Tonight is our temple night.  (Interesting talking about Israel and going to the temple.)

Okay, this is interesting.  We require members to have a recommend before they can enter the temple.  In the Old Testament in the days of Ezra, they were having a difficult time rebuilding the temple.  Some of the priests had lost their genealogy and so a proof was required.  Hmm… kind of like a recommend today.  (See Ezra 2-8).

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Palmyra Temple and Snow



Early Walk

Early Walk

I took an early walk with the New York Rochester Missionaries this morning.  We went from the Smith Home to Hill Cumorah in commemoration of the anniversary of Joseph’s trips to Hill Cumorah.

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Hill Cumorah and NYRM Missionaries

It was on September 22nd that Joseph Smith first visited the hill.  There he was met by Moroni, a resurrected being, who gave him instructions regarding the stone box Joseph had just unearthed.  He was instructed to return annually on this date until such time that he could obtain the plates.  (Read the rest here (click here).

After returning every year for four years, Moroni again met Joseph at the hill and delivered in to Joseph Smith’s hands the gold plates, the breast plate and other artifacts with a charge that he was to do all in his power to protect the plates from falling in to the wrong hands.  Soon, he commenced translating the plates.  The result of that translation is the Book of Mormon.

It was a fun walk, but some of the missionaries thought it was a race and ran.  Aye, yi, yi.  I simply walked at my pace.

After my Tuesday meeting, I headed to Harbor Freight Tools and picked up another “light saber”.  They are on sale and I have a coupon.

While I was down that way, I stopped at the Turkish store, the Indian store, and two Asian markets.  We’re stocked for the winter.  Food storage taste much better if you have all the right seasonings.

Doctor Doctor

Doctor Doctor

When I was teaching at Golden Gate University, it was common for our dean to call everyone doctor even if they weren’t a PhD or EdD.  As you’d walk down the hall you would hear, “Doctor”, with the response of, “Doctor.”  It kind of reminded me of the scene from Spies Like Us.

“We’re not doctors!”

As you might guess, I had doctor appointments today.  Hence, Doctor Doctor.

In between I had a networking meeting which went well.  I received complements on several head shots I had taken for some of the members.  That a nice upbeat piece of news between doctor appointments.

Doctor Doctor!

Yes, from there I went to another doctor appointment regarding a baffling rash.  While the doctor is unsure of what the cause of it is, she did comment that my skin is quite dry and that could be the cause of the irritation.

So, on my way out of the pharmacy after buying some moisturizing cream, I politely stopped by the protester outside the candy store and asked, “Why can’t you take your protest down the street as to not interfere with local businesses?”

The guy went berserk.  At that point I decided it was time to walk away.  As I walked away he continued to yell at me until I was out of sight.   He wanted to “video” me and when I just walked away, he was yelling stuff like, “Come back here.  Don’t do a drive by.  Come back here so I can get you on video.”

Now, here’s the irony of it all…

The police (whom I spoke with after) don’t want to do anything unless he “crosses the line” as they fear it would trample his freedom of speech.  (Yes, in spite of the fact that tourist have said they avoid that part of the street because they want to avoid him, which in turn means fewer people visit those businesses.)  Yet, if I were to walk down the street yelling at some random person, I would probably get picked up and hauled off to jail.

How are his actions not harassment?  How are his actions not intimidation — bullying?

As a word of caution, the guy doesn’t appear to be mentally stable in my opinion.  So, think twice before speaking to him.  (When I described the guys reaction, the police chief said the guy did the same thing to him a couple of years ago.  At least I’m not alone.  Only I didn’t have a squad car and authority to throw him in the back of the car.)

I honestly don’t have a problem with him protesting.  I just think it is in poor taste and form for him to do so in our business district in front of businesses.  I question his motive for that spot and not in front of the Grandin Building.

My theory as to why he doesn’t want to stand in front of the Grandin Building is this…

He wants locals to be upset, and in his twisted logic, I think he thinks they will be upset with the Mormons, and not him.

Well, me and probably a couple thousand Palmyra residents have news for him.  We’re upset with you.  Not because of your message, but because of where you choose to deliver your message.  For Pete’s sake… take it down to the Village Park and have some class like the people with the yellow “cheese” truck.

Section 139-9 Village of Palmyra Code:   Except as provided in Article II, Stationary Sidewalk Vendors, of this chapter, no peddler, including those otherwise exempt from this article, may remain in a stationary location in the public streets, nor shall any peddler be permitted to operate in any congested area where his operation might impede or inconvenience the public. For the purpose of this article, the judgement (sic) of any police officer, exercised in good faith, shall be deemed conclusive as to whether the area is congested or the public impeded or inconvenienced.

Note:  It’s interesting that the only time I could find the word exempt is in the above paragraph.    It’s also questionable if he is considered a “peddler”.

Okay, enough of my venting.  His work is in vain, and here’s why…

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done (Joseph Smith – History of the Church, 4:540).


First Photos

First Photos

The first photos of the new Priesthood Restoration Site were shot today.  On assignment from the Church History Department, I drove down to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to photograph the site.


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Priesthood Restoration Site

The first thing I did when I got there was walk through the restoration grove.  Like the Sacred Grove, we d not know exactly where the events transpired, but in this general area (see photo above), the Priesthood was restored.

It was a spiritual rush to realize I was the first person to photograph this site for the church.  The importance of the events that took place here struck deep inside my heart.  And soon, this site will be open for all to walk and ponder about those events.

After my walk, I went to the re-constructed home of Joseph and Emma Smith.  Today this home backs up to railroad tracks that separate it from the Susquehanna River.  It was behind this home on their property, in the Susquehanna River where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey were baptized.


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View from Back Window of Home

We took a late lunch at a little diner in Susquehanna.  A comment was made about the chalkboard in the diner.  It quotes a scripture.  One of the men said something to the effect, “Sadly, you wouldn’t even see that in Utah.”

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Scripture on Chalk Board

I think we overwhelmed the staff by coming in with such a large group for a late lunch.  But, that only gave us time to talk and get to know each other.

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Church History Group

From there it was back to the site to work.  While these guys have PhDs in things like history and archaeology, they do some hands-on dirty work too.  The first task was to get the well sweep installed and working.

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Well Sweep at the Hale Home

You’d think it would be simply installing a poll on a pivot to lower the bucket in to the well.  Wrong.  The lever has to be counter balanced and because the angle changes as you left and lower the bucket, the bucket has to hit the hole in the well box just right.

Perhaps there is a joke in the making here about how many PhDs does it take to install a well sweep?

We took a late dinner and by the time we checked in to our hotel room it was 9:30pm.  My feet were sore and my body was aching.  These guys worked me hard and I was just taking pictures!

Another Turns 30

Another Turns 30

Today, another turns 30.  Yes, another one of my children has turned 30.  It’s making me feel old.  I’ll get over it.

We joked back and forth about how she has now passed me up.  (I’m 29, I told her, but she wasn’t buying it.)  In reality, the last few months she has been 1/2 my age, but not any more.

Happy Birthday Amber!

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We had quite a crowd at church today.  The Young Single Adults in the area are having their conference this weekend, so many of them were attending our Sacrament Meeting this morning.


After church I made a chicken dish for the missionaries. It’s quite easy and tasty.  Here’s the recipe…

1 boneless chicken thigh per person, pounded thin, coated with buttermilk or plain yogurt, and then coated with flour seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, marjoram, paprika, oregano, and then pan-fried in oil.

Cover the fried chicken with a scoop of hot marinara sauce, top with a slice of provolone cheese and garnish with slices of cooked, sweet, Italian sausage.

I guess you could have pasta with it, but I served it with salt potatoes (a regional classic around here.)

After dinner, I took a few pictures of the missionaries with Elizabethe in the garden.  These will be submitted to create.lds.org.


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Missionaries Helping Pull a Few Weeds

Our next stop was Rochester for a fireside with Dan Rona.  Dan is from the Tribe of Judah (i.e. a Jew) and he is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I’ve known about Dan for decades.  It was nice to finally meet him and hear him speak, especially after having been to Israel.

While I was hoping for more pictures and discussion about places and events, I was pleased with his details about Jewish customs.  I love how he put the following (and I’m summarizing)…

  • Jews believe the priesthood has been lost and needs to be restored (they are waiting for a Messiah ben Joseph)
  • Catholics believe the priesthood was never lost (i.e. the keys were passed to Simon when Christ announced he was Peter (the rock) and upon him the church would be established)
  • Mormons believe it was lost and has been restored (the keys were lost after the apostles of old were killed, and then restored by Peter, James and John to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery)
  • Protestants don’t believe it is needed (many say they receive authority from the Bible)

While I’ve often looked at the difference between the Catholics, Protestants and Mormons,  I’ve never included the Jews in that list… until tonight.

Walking My X-T1

Walking My X-T1

Some people walk their dogs.  Walking my X-T1 was my thing to do today.

My X-T1 is my new camera and I hopped in the car and went for a drive with it.  Okay, I said I went walking with it.  I did… when I got out of the car to photograph something.  And, towards the end of my little drive I had the strength to go for a walk into the Sacred Grove where I took some photos.

So, you want to see what the Sacred Grove looks like “early in the spring”?

Here it is…


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Sacred Grove Early Spring 2015

We don’t get leaves on the trees until late spring/early summer.  The buds are just starting to appear.

So, when you think about the First Vision, think of the grove looking more like the above photograph.  But, no matter what time of year, the Sacred Grove is always a wonderful place.

After all, the Smiths lived there for a few years.  I would imaging Joseph and his family visited the grove often all through the year — not just the spring.

In 1820, they were coming out of a mini ice age.  Well, the winter of 2015 was a mini ice age for us.  In 1815, the eruption of Mt. Tambora put the world in a mini ice age.  How interesting that it was 200 years ago.  Anyway, given the climate conditions this last winter, the grove may have very well looked like this in the spring of 1820.

In the seven years I’ve lived here, the trees leaf out and the shade canopy starts around June 1st.  The full canopy isn’t developed until July.

Coldest in 40 Years

Coldest in 40 Years

I was listing to the TV news weather and the forecaster said this has been the coldest in 40 years.  This artic burst is taking its toll.  We’re not getting huge amounts of snow, but cold temperatures that keep the snow from melting and keep it light, fluffy and accumulating.

I accepted an assignment to venture off within 3 miles of my home and take 25 pictures.  The assignment is due by Sunday, and so I figure I better get the images done today.

It was a perfect day for the pictures, it was just a little cold.  At one point, with the wind-chill factor it was -15 degrees.  Because it was sunny, you don’t realize how cold it is until you step in the shade or a breeze hits you in the face.  It is cold.


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Smith Log Home as it May Have Been in the Early 1800s

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Stafford Road (old section)

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Entrance to the Sacred Grove

Some brave souls ventured out in this cold to see the apartment.  The roads were covered with ice.  At this temperature, salt doesn’t work.  It will take a bit more warming before the salt can melt the ice.  Or, put it this way, at this temperature, salt water freezes.

Weather like this makes people shun Palmyra during the winter months.  But, it is very important to remember the Smiths came to Palmyra during a cold spell.  They arrived in Palmyra and the world experienced what was known as “the year without a summer” and “1800 and froze to death”.

Walking through the grove in the winter snow is quite an experience.  You can see so much more when the trees are barren.  Of course, you have to go back in the summer once the leaves have come out.  (Which typically happens around Memorial Day in late spring.)  You can’t really appreciate what Joseph Smith and his family went through without experiencing a day like today.

Harbor Freight Tools and CiCi’s

Elizabethe and I headed to CiCi’s Pizza for lunch.  They are having their special again where if you buy a $25 gift card, you get a free buffet.  And, since we eat there a couple of times a year, why not.

From there, we went to Harbor Freight Tools to use some coupons and also so I could use the gift card I received at Christmas time.  I bought this cool LED light that is about 3′ long, rechargeable and is about like the light a certain photography equipment manufacture makes and sells for about $500.  The difference is this one, with my coupon, only cost about $25.  Wow.  Imagine what 20 of these could do.

Joseph Traveled to Kirtland

Joseph Traveled to Kirtland

On, or around, February 1st, 1831, Joseph traveled to Kirtland with his wife Emma.  They entered the N. K. Whitney Store and Joseph said to Mr. Whitney, “I am Joseph the Prophet; you have prayed me here, now what do you want of me?”

It was here in this store…

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Whitney Store

…where the School of the Prophets met.  In this very room…

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School of the Prophets

Also in this room is where Emma Smith complained about the use of tobacco.  This lead to Joseph asking the Lord, and the result was the 89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, also known as the Word of Wisdom.

Joseph and Emma spent some time at a home across from the store, and later in a house near the temple.  The temple was built with much sacrifice by the saints.  The temple today is owned by the Community of Christ Church.

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Kirtland Temple in the Snow

We enjoyed our morning tour of the church sites there in Kirtland.

209 Years Ago

209 Years Ago

Born 209 years ago was a man who changed history.  Joseph Smith, Jun., was born this day in Sharon, Vermont, in 1805.  Whether you like him or not, he changed the history of the world.

I was privileged to visit his birth place back in September.  A large granite obelisk commemorates the birthplace of the prophet.

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Joseph Smith’s Birthplace

How did he change the world?

I recommend you visit this web site dedicated to him.  (click here)  There you can read more than I can ever write about his life.

Privileged to live down the road from the homes his family lived in prior to their move to Ohio in the 1830s, Palmyra, New York, is where it all started.  It was while living here, early in the spring of 1820, that a young Joseph Smith sought answers to his prayers.

The event that changed so much was when Joseph Smith retired to a grove behind the family’s log home.  His purpose was to ask God which church to join.  What happened parallels the visions and revelations of biblical events.    Joseph, upon kneeling to pray had a heavenly manifestation unequal to anything since the first century.

Here’s a short video that summarizes things…