May 2, 2021
Sundays at AOA are hard to describe. We still meet on site with just the other missionaries and an occasional visitor. Being able to look out over the Adam-ondi-Ahman valley during the sacrament reaches the center of my heart creating feelings I’ve never had at this level before. My covenant connection with the Savior is becoming clearer each week and I love the great reservoir of gospel understanding that is shared during our Sunday School discussions.
We feel we’ve had a taste of what it’s like to live in Zion. We work every day with Zion people. A time or two there has been splash of less than Zion behavior here. The first really surprised me! I’ve worked with mortals for 64 years so I’m not sure why. But what followed was more amazing. All resisted the invitation to “come on down” by responding in an unchristian way in the heat of the moment. No one wrote him off or avoided him following the incident when his humanity won the round. In fact, many sought ways to reach out individually to show increased love and give service with open arms. I loved watching what that did to the one who knew he had been less than he should have been. There is no need to justify his position and it was completely safe for him to openly accept responsibility, express regret, and his resolve to do better. The end result was a greater love, unity, and appreciation within the group. Zion is truly in the hearts of good people seeking to be better today than they were yesterday who are willing to assist other do the same in the spirit of love, forgiveness and understanding.
We must be settling in because our focus this week was more on our service here and less on adventures. With the Church historical sites re-opening in Liberty and Independence at the end of the month, we put our visits there on hold. However, the Kansas City, MO temple is the first in the country opening to phase 3 this month. We have connections there through some of our missionaries, so we have to have our own special session soon.
Darrel’s week included a day of mowing, followed by days of cleaning drains and fencing them in, fixing broken drains and installing a new culvert, finishing the grouting of the back splash, and installing quarter round trim around the floor of the Ransom House.
Thursday was his most exciting day. He and Elder Clayton headed for St. Joseph to get a load of insulation for the new duplex, in AOA’s big flat bed, single axle Freightliner. On the way they were pulled over by the Highway Patrol. I know what you’re thinking. I realize more than anyone, that occasionally Darrel thinks he’s 17 rather than 71, but he was not speeding. It seems someone had called in to file a report, claiming a rock or other object had come off the truck and shattered the windshield on his tow truck. Having swept the bed before they left, they were more than a bit surprised, but assured the law they were willing to right any wrong committed. (There’s some speculation that this was a case of LDS missionary profiling as they remember seeing a guy in a tow truck pass them and carefully scope them out.) As papers were presented to the officer all realized that AOA truck’s insurance card had expired. That threw the office at the work center into a shimmy, but within a few minutes an updated copy was emailed from SLC and they were on their way again. At the huge Menard’s store in St. Joseph, they were informed they could not find paperwork for their special-order pick-up. Once again, the office here at AOA came to their rescue with an order number and account name. Long story short, that trip took longer than intended, but they served no jail time, and they returned with the insulation in time eat their lunch for dinner and still make it to scripture study that evening! The whole affair is now in the hands of the insurance companies.
This week I began the process of digitizing 44 volumes of AOA history. Each volume in a three-ring binder filled with plastic protected pages. I am enjoying every minute of it so far. Being immersed in the history of this sacred place carried a Spirit that brings tangible joy. One of the sisters helps each day to make it go more efficiently. The Patriarch in our Stake is Brother Bonnet. When he learned what we were doing, he brought an envelope of old photos from his private collection through the years and asked us to scan them. I went back Tuesday afternoon to do as he requested. There were some priceless gems! One of Tower Hill in the 1950’s was like a magnet to me. The edges were damaged and there was a yellow patch from old tape. I sent it to my brother Kent in Utah, who cleaned it up and returned in within 24 hours. I am so excited to have a restored 8X10 made for Brother Bonnet! Being here still feels like a dream. I can’t imagine being more blessed!
We did have an adventure this week that was delightful. The first Saturday of every May, the Amish have a fund-raiser for their Hickory Hills School, at the same time as their horse auction. It was a gorgeous day and we’ve never seen so many Amish gathered all together. They live simply and are very disciplined, but they are warm, gentle, happy, hard-working, generous people. We sat for three hours as they auctioned off quilts and other things the women had made to raise funds. I found bidding a bit addictive and soon realized that all bidding ends at some point, and if not careful, you may end up with a couple of beautiful quilts! We left before they began auctioning Amish made furniture, or we would have ended up with the beautiful highchair for certain.
Darrel and I have worked in my assigned flower bed a couple of times this week. I have the largest single bed at AOA and it needed a couple of loads of sand and compost to be ready for planting. I feel like a kindergarten kid when it comes to gardening and flowers, but the sister who oversees flower beds is a professional florist, so I feel pretty confident and even a bit excited to see what it looks like as the summer goes on.
BITS AND PIECES OF FAR WEST HISTORY
The $1,450 needed purchase the land for the saints at Far West, was borrowed at 10% interest from approximately 130 saints in Kentucky and Tennessee.
At the first quarterly conference held in Far West in their new schoolhouse, Joseph Smith attended and presided. After the sacrament 95 babies were blessed!
Some of the prominent dissenters from the Church left Far West and relocated in Richmond. Among them were David Whitmer, his brother, Peter Whitmer and their parents, Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman Whitmer. On June 1, 1878, a tornado stuck Richmond and destroyed all sites of interest in LDS history. One third of the town was left desolate, including David Whitmer’s home and livery stable and the pioneer cemetery where Oliver Cowdery and Father and Mother Whitmer were buried. David Whitmer, his daughter Julia, and grandson were injured in the disaster, and 20 were killed.
Far West is the location where Colonel Hinkle, a member of the Church and highest militia officer in Caldwell County, betrayed Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt and George W. Robinson. He convinced them they were wanted for a peace council, but turned them over to General Lucas, who ordered them executed the following morning at 9:00 a.m. in the public square of Far West. General Alexander W. Doniphan, who held the prisoners, was ordered to carry out the orders. He courageously refused saying, “It is cold-blooded murder, I will not obey your orders…and if you execute them, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God. (HC 3: 190-91)
When General Lucas took over Far West, the saints surrendered 700 guns, as well as swords and pistols. Most were forced to sign deeds of trust that gave their property to the state to cover the expenses of the so called, Mormon War.
John Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon was the only resident of the old town site of Far West for many years after the Saints left. He owned 625 acres, including the temple site.
Tulips are rarely planted at AOA, yet there are 1000s of daffodils. Why? Deer think tulips and pansies are candy, but they don’t eat daffodils.
Walter Cronkite, American journalist and CBS news anchor man, was born in St. Joseph, MO, in 1916. His Dad was a dentist there. A re-creation of his dentist office is in the Patee Museum.
Aunt Jemima Pancakes were invented in St. Joseph, MO, in 1889, by Chris Rutt. The first Aunt Jemima was actually Mrs. Nancy Green, a black woman from St. Joseph, who traveled with Mr. Rutt and became the face of his line of products. She was hit by a car in Chicago in 1923 and lost her life. Others replaced her, but a likeness of her face remained on the products.
I found a pin sized baby turtle this week that now lives in our near-by pond. The Sisters had their first quilt block exchange this week as well. Everyday is wonderful!
We love being here. We hope some will come so we can share this amazing place with them. Our prayers are with you back at home! Have a lovely week!
Elder and Sister K