March 24, 2021
It has been a week since we spoke in our ward and bid farewell to our family, friends and neighbors. What a week it has been. We are settled in a little four-plex that we share with three other new missionary couples. Our front window looks out over a lovely little pond with the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman beyond. We have had time to do some exploring and sight-seeing. This place is truly the Lord’s outdoor temple. Every knoll, pond, tree and flower seem to whisper, “holiness to the Lord” for those familiar with the grand history, beautiful present and glorious future of this place.
Earth is crammed with Heaven and every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
There is a feeling of reverence and peace here, but there is something more that has taken me a couple of days to identify. I reflected on our visit to Switzerland and Germany years ago. While there, I was awed by the echo of antiquity as we visited the countryside, coliseums, and cathedrals. The underlying history and spirit from ages long past are still felt there. The reverence and peace here is likewise combined with an antiquity that reaches back to the beginning of time.
We visited St. Joseph, Missouri about an hour west of here and enjoyed experiencing the birthplace of the Pony Express. There was an energy and excitement there because of the rich history of that city. But it pales in comparison to being in the birthplace of civilization, the first settlement, the home of the first family, the place where the gospel of Jesus Christ was first taught, ordinances given, and covenants made between man and God. This area was the hub of life during the first 1000 years of earth’s history.
As I walked the roads and fields this week, I tried to imagine Adam and Eve here with their children. There is a song, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.” My heart sings a new song. “I walked today where Adam and Eve walked,” and emotion swells within as the Spirit whispers it is true!
Coming from Utah where we have fasted and prayed for moisture to sustain our land and lift us from the drought, has made the abundance of water here amazing to me. There are dozens of small ponds that drain the land to make it farmable. The Grand River which passes along the west border has no source. It is simply a drainage river. The level fluctuates, but it never stops flowing. It is a beautiful metaphor of the Savior who is the source of Living Water spoken of in the New Testament. Our assignment here is to “beautify, maintain, and improve the land and our lives, and to make both presentable to the Savior” when He makes His promised appearance to this place.
As President McKay said, “When He comes, the lawns will be mowed,” and there are 120 acres to mow weekly during the mowing season!
Our first sacrament meeting was wonderful. It was the first sacrament meeting in over a year that was like I have known all my life. We had hymnbooks! There was not a camera rolling, no row divisions, no masks, and no feeling of worry, separation or isolation. The Spirit was rich and full. Understanding that there will be another sacrament meeting in this place in the future with the Savior was a tender, emotional thought for me because I felt His Spirit here today. We feel we have been blessed beyond what we deserve and are among spiritual giants whose service is diverse and significant. To feel a part of a group that seems to be the best of the best is intimidating and humbling but awesome!
Our workday schedule begins tomorrow. Elder Walker, the area authority seventy over our mission will be here for a few days with his wife. We have interviews tomorrow and will enjoy dinner all together on Tuesday. That dinner will double as Darrel’s 71st birthday party with a guest list that is exceptional. Our love to all until next Sunday!