Our ZOOM meeting with the 2022 missionaries on Monday evening went off without a hitch. We had prepared and planned. That effort added to our excitement about meeting them as a group. Darrel and I were assigned to share our feelings about Adam-ondi-Ahman and how our testimonies have grown. We had three minutes to introduce ourselves and respond to our prompt. Every word had to count, and we spent some time refining it. In the end the Spirit honored that effort with His presence.
Darrel spent most of his work time painting 4-plex apartment three or moving furniture around at the White House in preparation for new carpet this next week.
We’ve had Jessica Mitchell, (our granddaughter) here visiting since Wednesday. Every minute has been priceless to me. She will be leaving on a mission to Bolivia in February. We were not there for her endowment, and we will miss her speaking in sacrament meeting prior to leaving. Therefore, having her here filled a tender spot in my heart.
I picked her up from the airport on Wednesday. We went straight to Liberty Jail and from there to the Independence Visitor’s Center. Amazingly, we were the only ones on each tour! The senior missionaries serving gave us far more than I expected. It was wonderful.
Thursday was a warmer day. Jessica went to prayer meeting with me. The sisters loved her and she enjoyed meeting them. It was delightful. Afterwards Jessica and I saw a little of AOA before heading east for a Jamesport adventure. After lunch at the world famous Gingerich Café, we met up with Grandpa to visit the areas of Adam-ondi-Ahman that are best seen in a Ranger. I never tire of visiting the early saints settlement site. The Spirit of that area touches me deeply. Standing at the base of the “witness trees” leaves me longing to hear as well as feel their story.
Friday we went to the Kansas City Temple together. It was Jessica’s third endowment session in a third temple and her first sealing session ever. We ended up in a sealing session with Elder Bonnett, who is a sealer, and one other couple. It made it possible for Jessica to be personally involved in every ordinance either as a proxy or a witness. It couldn’t have been more perfect. It was one of those times when I experienced a inkling of what the Savior meant when He said, “My joy is full.” We enjoyed lunch at Joy Wok on our way to see the Steamboat Arabia Museum.
We awoke to snow on Saturday, so we stayed pretty close to home. We found an inner tube and some rope. Then we took turns tubing up and down our hill behind the 4-wheeler until certain parts were too cold to endure it any longer. That evening we played board games and ended up watching “Tuck Everlasting.”
That movie has some themes similar to “The Fall” for me. For certain it is a study on the merits of living forever. The conclusion is that living forever in a mortal state with no hope of change results in heartache, misery, and disappointment. Change is the purpose of mortality because the goal is becoming enough like God to feel at home in His presence. Even living in the Garden of Eden forever would not have served God’s purposes for His children. There was no opportunity in that paradise for becoming as God is. The Fall was essential. Mortality was designed as a temporary state—where through the Atonement of Christ, Adam and Eve, and their posterity could experience all necessary to attain eventual exaltation. Immortality only offers a fulness of joy when coupled with Eternal life, or the life of perfection that God lives.
Sacrament meeting here is always a sweet experience. It is particularly so when we have family visiting. As we left our meeting this morning I noticed the gate on the road to Tower Hill was locked. I mentioned my concern to Darrel. He explained that some felt visitors shouldn’t be on snowy roads that had not be graded yet. His explanation brought little peace as I considered the possibility of someone coming today for the first time only to find that they could not experience Tower Hill.
This afternoon we drove around Lake Viking and then returned to AOA to watch for wildlife at dusk. As we drove passed the lock gate after visiting Preacher’s Rock from the lower rock, we noticed a single car parked. A man and women were walking out across the meadow headed for Tower Hill on foot through the snow. I felt almost frantic to get to them. In less than a minute I was out the door tracking them. When I caught up to them I learned that they were here for the first time and hoped to see Tower Hill. After reaching the crest of the hill they felt it was too far because returning to their car in the dark and cold seemed a poor choice. I introduced myself as a missionary and offered to take them to that sacred spot on the lower road. Their disappointment turned to excitement.
We loaded Kyle and Willow into our car and drove them around. We answered their questions and shared a few details of the history and future of AOA. We parked at Preacher’s Rock. As Willow stood behind it to experience the acoustics in that area, she began to sing “Ava Maria.” Her voice was gorgeous, almost angelic. She paused occasionally for the melody to echo through the pecan grove. Emotion swelled in my heart. Because of a locked gate, both we and they were given a gift from the other that would have been missed had the gate been open. From there we walked up and around the path at Tower Hill. There were no human footprints but ours and we had a sweet visit. She asked how I had gained my testimony of the Savior’s 2nd Coming as that was something she felt she struggled with. I shared our mission statement to maintain, improve, and beautify both this land and our lives for the Savior’s return. There is not a day we do not think of His promised return. There is not a day that we are not involved in something to prepare for that day. The fruit of that effort is an increased testimony of the reality of that future event. As we daily act in faith the Spirit testifies again and again that we are involved in a sacred work that will culminate in the Savior of the World visiting here again, as He did in the days of Adam. We all felt the Spirit confirm my testimony as well as the universal power available to all who follow the pattern of daily, intentional preparation. How grateful I was for a locked gate today! Hopefully no one else came and left without a rich experience in this wintry outdoor temple.
We’ll have Jessica here until Wednesday, so we have each day planned to include all possible. Next week, I’ll share the second half of our time together here at Adam-ondi-Ahman. Have a wonderful week! Our Love, Darrel and Karen Kenison