This past week was likely the busiest of our mission thus far, and absolutely amazing. Monday our nephew, Michael Peterson, his wife Sarah and his children Sage and Adam, and Anders came for lunch and a visit. We spent the afternoon sharing as much of Adam-ondi-Ahman as possible in the few hours we had. It was a gorgeous day. We never tire of the antiquity, beauty, and sacredness of this place. Each group we share it with fans the flame we felt when we first arrived, and we love it.
Tuesday our Stake President, Doug Petersen and his wife Fran, and daughter Ashley, 1st counselor-Troy Rindlisbacher and his wife Trish, the stake executive secretary-Jason Kelsey and his wife Rebecca came for lunch and a visit. The weather was less wonderful, and as I pondered the forecast, I received the impression that if we visited the early saints’ settlement area first, the storm would hold until we were finished. The Spirit that accompanied us that afternoon was so sweet. Perhaps it was because we have anticipated their visit for months, or perhaps it was because they are all Zion people. As we left the East Overlook the rain began to fall. Once back to the Work Center it was raining so hard, we had to wait for a break in the weather to rush to our cars. They headed for Nauvoo, and we headed home to pull the last-minute details of our Taco Tuesday dinner and final fling with just the 2021 missionaries. Each one has become like family to us and are dear to our hearts. How blessed we have been to have had November 10 through April 6 with just the 14 of us. The next time we met as an exclusive group will be our first reunion, planned for the summer of 2023.
Wednesday our new couples arrived! As 10:00 a.m. approached, every minute felt like an hour as we watched out the window of the work center for cars, trucks, and trailers from many places to pulled in. We recognized the Taylor’s at once. They felt like family with the first hug. After a group photo, each 2021 couple helped their assigned 2022 couple unload at their homes. The 2021 Sisters prepared lunch for everyone back at the Work Center. The new couples briefly introduced themselves and then I did some shopping for Sister Faun Taylor while she unpacked. That evening we had Dutch oven lasagna and Dutch oven cobbler for dinner. A new couple, Michael and Connie Osmon, from Nauvoo, did the coaching and cooking. Following dinner I was asked to share how I found my place here after arriving. Of course AOA history was a big part of that, but equally so was when I realized I was here because of what I could learn from the other sisters and the singular opportunities that service here provides. Once I saw myself as a “learner” more than anything else, changes in my heart and testimony began. I’m can never be the same after this experience without disappointing God and being less than true to myself.
Thursday was a windy, cold day, but we braved the weather and took the new couples for a brief visit to the East Overlook and Tower Hill. The warmth of the pervading Spirit was there even though we were bundled in coats, hoods and gloves. For lunch we brought Elder and Sister Taylor to our home. Each of the other 2021 couples provided lunch for their assigned couple as well. Following our meal, we met back at the Work Center for an orientation meeting. Darrel and I were given the assignment to help the new couples enhance their service at Adam-ondi-Ahman through an increased awareness of and interest in its history. That was a good fit for us. Of all the things we shared in our 10-minute presentation, the thing that touched the new couples most was an insight I was given while compiling the book I put together.
“The process of rebuilding this land in preparation for the Savior’s return, metaphorically represents the journey all must take to prepare personally for that day. It has not been a flash-flood effort but the powerful effect of the steady flow. The debris and undesirable were identified and systematically removed with great effort. That which was beautiful and praiseworthy painstakingly replaced it over time. Land has been acquired when available. Preparing and maintaining sources of living water has been a priority. Designing, building, and maintaining places of safety, work and refuge have required the gifts of many. Miles of fence line have been built to protect and provide order. Roads have been blazed making it easy to find one’s way and not stray from the path. Terracing and drainage systems have been designed to prevent destroying erosion. The respect and cooperation of the good people of Missouri has been earned through inclusion, kindness, service, and love. Those called to serve have developed enduring testimonies, eternal friendships, and a perfect brightness of hope in the promises of God for this holy land. Serving here—there is not a day goes by without thoughts of the Savior’s 2nd Coming.
In reflective, quiet moments the Spirit not only confirms the reality of the sacred past of Adam-ondi-Ahman, but it whispers the truth of a glorious future when the righteous of all dispensations will gather here with the Savior prior to the time when “all flesh shall see Him together.”
We presented each 2022 couple with a copy of the book, and they were grateful and very gracious. That evening we met for a fireside with Elder and Sister Bonnett who were celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary. Elder Bonnett is the only one currently authorized to give group tours of AOA. He shared some wonderful information about this amazing place. Although I have heard his message two or three times, I learn something new each time and never tire of hearing him share his deep feelings as a patriarch for this sacred location.
Friday we took all the new couples to Far West, Eminence, and Liberty Jail for a taste of Church History near here. I was able to share some information I’ve gathered for my own use, and it seemed to make the visits more meaningful. Following lunch together, we took the Taylors to Costco and then turned them loose until sacrament meeting tomorrow. Jason, Laura, Ethan and Anna are in the air currently and will arrive around 4:00 p.m. I decided to quickly make a post so my time while they are here is open. There is no one we find greater satisfaction in sharing AOA with than our own children and grandchildren. In next week’s post I will share their visit. Our love to all! Elder and Sister Kenison