Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Walking in the foot steps of a prophet

In the past month a lot has happened to Christopher as he is serving in Penn Yan.  Christopher is still a zone leader but he is also now a trainer as well.  Being a trainer for his last couple of months, he obviously also has a new companion.  So instead of both of the zone leaders in the area being companions, Christopher's mission president decided to split them up and allow them to use their experience to help train some of the new missionaries.  Christopher and his companion have seen several new baptisms over the last month and has been very excited about the decision that each one of them has made to be baptized members of the church.

A few weeks ago Christopher sent us a letter which included a very cool story.  The way that Christopher described it, "So this is probably the coolest thing we did".   You probably remember through church history that the night of September 21st was the first time that the angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith.  Then on September 22nd, Joseph Smith went to the Hill Cumorah and saw the plates for the first time.  At that time, Joseph was told not to take the plates from the hill side but to visit the place where the plates were buried, each year for the next four years.  So how does this story relate to Christopher and his experience.  Well, just last month on September 22nd, Christopher and about 12 other missionaries (mostly senior couples) and led by the mission President, made the same walk that Joseph would have made from the Smith home to the Hill Cumorah.  When they arrived at the hill side, President Christensen took them all on a very detailed tour of the area showing them all of the landmarks and talking about all of the events that happened there.  President Christensen told them about a 450 year old Sugar Maple tree that is still growing on the hill.  This tree is oldest tree in New York and likely the oldest in North America.  He told them that he feels that this place was most likely the place where the plates were buried and the place that Joseph visited on the same day for four years as he was instructed to do.  I'm sure that there was a lot more that was talked about during their walk around the Hill Cumorah and Christopher will probably have a lot more to tell us when he gets home.  But what a great experience.  An experience that only a few will ever have.


The stories don't end there however.  Just a few weeks later Christopher told us about a district meeting that they held at the John Young home.  For all of you who don't know who John Young was, he was the father of President Brigham Young.  They stayed there and toured around Mendon, NY which is also the birth place of Heber C Kimball.  They visited the site where Brigham Young and about 35 others were baptized.  They toured the Tomlinson Inn where Samuel Smith first gave a Book of Mormon to Phinaeus Young who then gave it to John and Brigham Young.  They visited the cemetery where Brigham Young's first wife was buried and then rounded out the meeting back at the John Young home.  How many missionaries can say that they had a district meeting this cool.

Christopher also had a chance to travel back to Arcade where he had spent several months serving.  He went there to attend the wedding of a couple that he had taught before he left the area.  During his visit there he was able to see a lot of the people that he had worked with and served.  Especially one of the senior couples in the area that he especially loves and admires.  Christopher was very excited to find out that the Arcade area is still doing very well and that there were six more baptisms scheduled in the coming weeks.  The branch there is still doing great and the members are as helpful and supportive of the missionaries as they have always been.  Christopher said that the Arcade area was probably one of the best places that he had ever served.

Most of the letters that Christopher sends home include personal stories of the people that he and his companion are teaching.  I won't include the stories here, but they are great.  Stories about meeting and talking with people just by chance and having them literally ask for a copy of the Book of Mormon.  People truly wanting to know more about the church after having read a little bit about the church and people who thought that the church really didn't have much for them, changing their whole lives so that they could be baptized.  Christopher can't believe that he is down to his last two months of his mission.  We can't believe it either.  The time has gone so fast.