Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Spring finally came and summer has flown by.  The beauty of the green hills and the wildflowers growing everywhere never ceases to give us a visual treat.  All of the rain pays big dividends by giving Mother Nature everything she needs to create a colorful palette to paint pictures that can't help but delight.

 

 AS FORECAST,

our summer has been very, very busy with thousands of visitors and thousands of tours, but it's heartwarming to have so many come and enjoy the Spirit that pervades this area.  The land recalls the sacred events that occurred here and you can't help but feel peace as you walk the paths.

To get ready for the crowds we spiffed up the statues a bit by cleaning them and putting a coat of wax on them.  A water fight was bound to occur the day we pulled out the hoses to scrub off the winter dust.  But, it was fun for all!


4th of July didn't pass by unnoticed here.  Although, it was a normal day at the Visitor Center, we got up early in the morning and went to the local high school for some races and some fun with water balloons.  Later in the day we had a little barbecue and managed to have some fun games between tours.

 

 We were so blessed to have some of our family come see us in July.  My parents and my sister Leslie and her husband, Bruce flew out and we enjoyed so much showing them around and spending time together.   Christine, Doug and their daughters, Sydney, Jordan and London also came for a few days and we were able to drive up to Palmyra with them and see some of the sites there too.






This is the cabin on the Smith farm where the prophet Joseph Smith was living at the time of the First Vision.












               

                 Inside the Smith family cabin.












The upstairs bedroom where the Angel Moroni told Joseph of the Gold Plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah.










Another highlight was the visit by Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency.   The wonderful people we meet here are the greatest blessing of all for the service we that we give.  Each are cherished, unique and have a story to tell.  We love spending an hour or two with these beautiful children of our Father in Heaven and sharing our testimonies with them.













Saturday, May 6, 2017

Things are picking up around here...
January and February were slow months here at the Priesthood Restoration Site as few people travel to the northeast in winter.  But, March and April definitely saw an increase as families on spring break across the country came to see us.  Our numbers were 500% higher than last year at the same time, so the word seems to be getting around about what a great place Harmony, Pennsylvania is. 

We had some wonderful tours the last few weeks.  One morning I looked up at the entryway and coming in the door was Julie C Beck, former General Relief Society President.  She brought along her husband and 3 of her Aaronic Priesthood age grandsons.  We spent a delightful morning giving them a tour and showing them around.  One of the exhibits gives our guests the opportunity to heft a box that simulates the weight of the gold plates that the prophet Joseph brought here to begin the work of translation.  It weighs about 50 lbs---always a surprise to everyone just how heavy they were.
 
 

 Sister Beck hefting the golden plates.


 Another tour we gave was to Church employees from around the world.  We had guests from New Zealand, Ghana, Canada, U.S. and Russia.

 Last week we spent our P-day down in Philadelphia where we attended the new Philadelphia Temple.  It is set right in the heart of the bustling city and offers a peaceful respite from the crowds and the noisy traffic outside.  Three new sister missionaries went with us on the trek south.  Philly is about 3 hours from where we are, so it was a long, but fun day.  We were allowed to walk through the sealing rooms as well as the baptismal area and of course the endowment rooms.  It is just lovely and the architecture fits well with the colonial theme of the city.

Traffic was especially crazy in Philadelphia because the NFL draft was going on the same day.  I had to hold Dean down to keep him from jumping out of the car and racing into the venue.  😆

We had an evening with Bob Parrot a few weeks ago.  Bob is the forester that cares for the Sacred Grove up in Palmyra and also assists us with keeping up our woods here in Susquehanna where John the Baptist appeared and restored the Aaronic Priesthood in 1829.  It was fascinating to a hear a history of the grove and although Bob Parrot is not a member of the Church, he has a strong testimony of what a sacred place it is.  He can feel the Spirit so strongly there and he shared how the trees talk to him and how he knows that something extraordinary occurred there.
Bob Parrot---forester at the Sacred Grove with our Sister Missionaries.
 
This past week had a few challenges.  Monday evening while we were out to dinner, a massive rainstorm hit with walls of rain that blew sideways destroying trees and pulling down power lines.  We ate our dinner by cell phone light.  Our area was especially hard hit.  Power was out for 24 hours at our home.  It was out for 48 hours at the Priesthood Restoration Site.  It went out again at our home yesterday for another 16 hours.  So we were without heat, lights, refrigeration, internet and hot water.  It felt like we were camping.  All great fun for about 2 hours, but the novelty wears off quickly and we were thrilled when power was restored.  We just cross our fingers that it will stay on.  It sure reminds us to be grateful for the comforts of life that we take for granted.
 
We are healthy and happy and love being able to serve the Lord here in Pennsylvania.  Our testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel grows with each passing day.
  


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Record-breaking snowfall
Wowsers! We've had a wild winter.  Two weeks ago we had 36 inches of snow in 24 hours.  The roads and the town were shut down completely, so we didn't open the Visitor's Center for a couple of days.  I have to admit it was kind of fun to be snowed in and just curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.  All of the senior missionaries live on the same street so we had them come over one of those evenings and we played Mormon Family Feud.  It was a fun diversion and break from the routine.
Dean didn't think it was so fun digging out the car though.  He had to work for awhile, then rest for awhile, but it was impossible to keep ahead of the snow.

Last week we went into Scranton to do some apartment inspections for the young missionaries.  As we pulled up to the first apartment, we couldn't find a parking place on the street---there were lawn chairs placed all along the curb everywhere.  When we finally found a spot and asked the elders what that was all about, they said that people in the neighborhood had spent hours digging their cars out of the snow and they didn't want to come home and find that someone else had pulled into the spot that they worked so hard to clear, so they would just stick a chair out there in the street to hold their spot.  Ingenious!  Unless you're new to the neighborhood. 😊 

Doing apartment inspections in Honesdale.

We had a choice experience on one of our tours a few days ago.  I'll quote from my journal:
"Brother and Sister Pocock from Virginia brought a man in who was from Kenya.  His name was Jackson Ehaji and he had served seven years as a bishop there.  He was so thrilled to be here---to see where Joseph translated the Book of Mormon and received the priesthood." (We often invite guests to read a scripture from the Book of Mormon in the room where it was first translated by the prophet Joseph Smith.  Brother Ehaji knelt next to the translation table and read from book of Alma.  It was so touching to see his humility.) 
As the tour was wrapping up, "He said that he wished that his wife and five children could be here.  So he had tried to think of a way to share the experience with them.  He decided to buy a small bottle of olive oil and he asked for permission to consecrate it in the Joseph Smith home, so that he could take it back to Kenya to bless his family with it.  How sweet it was to watch Dean and these two brethren use their priesthood in this sacred place where the power to act in God's name was first returned to the earth!"



How blessed we are to be here!
 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March has arrived!   We've seen lots of snow the last month, but have enjoyed a few pleasant and warm days too, so there is hope for spring to come eventually.

Last week was fun and eventful.  We had a lovely visit from Lorene Beckstead all the way from Los Alamos, New Mexico!  She brought along her son, Michael, his wife Annie and their 3 children, as well as Chris and Mavis Stevenson.  Michael lives in Philadelphia and his oldest daughter is turning 8 and was baptized last weekend.  So, all the family that gathered for that event came up on Friday for a tour of the Visitor Center and the site.  It was so delightful to see friends and to be able to give them a tour.  What a treat for us!  


This past weekend we also held a training seminar at the site for all of the young sister missionaries that will be serving with us this summer.  Starting in April, all of them will be assigned to the site full-time.  So the three days they were here went by in a blur of classes, practice tours, meals and singing.  We love them all and look forward to having their energy here with us at the Priesthood Restoration visitor center.


Aren't they beautiful???

But, a little bit crazy!!!

                                                                       Valentine's Day did not go by unobserved. 
 There were flowers, chocolates, cards a dinner 
out at Texas Roadhouse in Binghamton, New York.  


Here is Elder Banner aka Dean on a tour outside of the Isaac Hale home.
 We love and miss our family and friends, but feel so blessed to be here on our mission.  We have the opportunity to walk on sacred ground each day.  Come and see for yourself.



This has been dubbed "Emma's Spring".  It's a natural spring near Joseph and Emma's home that feeds into the Susquehanna River.

Pennsylvanians have a fun sense of humor.  We pass this sign on our
 drive from our home to the visitor center every day.  😆

Something to think about....

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Today is our P-day (Preparation Day) and we are pretty much snowed in❆, so thought I would get on line and bring everyone up to date on our activities.  Normally we would be driving up to Vestal, a suburb on Binghamton, NY to do our shopping  for the week and had even planned to see a movie this afternoon, but the roads are a bit dicey since we received a half foot of snow and the wind continues to blow and drift, so we cleaned our house instead and will just stay in warm and cozy today.  I put a nice pot of soup in the crockpot and we'll watch a movie here at home.  It should be a fun relaxing day and we'll catch up the shopping another day.

Our days are pretty slow this time of year---not many travelers through here in January and February, but we gave 3 tours yesterday and the weekends are busier.  They say this is the lull before the onslaught that will begin next month.  We're expecting 50,000 visitors this year!  So we don't mind the quiet periods now.  We usually are at the site for 6 hours, 6 days a week.  That will increase to 7 hours a day and this summer it will be 8 hours.  The homes that we take people through are about 1/4 mile from the visitor center, so we get in quite of bit of walking on busy days, but we enjoy that.  Some days are pretty chilly, so I'm really glad that I bought a long down coat and warm boots.  They have served me well already.

This is the home Joseph and Emma lived in while here in Harmony, Pennsylvania.  It's a reconstruction and is one of the homes that we take people through.

Here Dean is sweeping Emma's floor. It gets kinda dirty with the groups of people filing through.

Our new director arrived about three weeks ago.  We are enjoying getting to know the Elder and Sister Abney.  They are from Spanish Fork, Utah.  She was a school teacher and he was in the military (special forces).  We were sad to say goodbye to the Walkers, they were wonderful directors and will be missed.
                                     Elder and Sister Abney with Elder and Sister Walker.


This is the Visitor Center and the Priesthood Restoration Site.  It's a lovely building and we spend lots of hours here.

One of our favorite things to do is spend time with the young sister missionaries.  They are so vibrant, cheerful, talented and a joy to serve with.  We love having them over for dinner when we can.

Dinner with Sister Young, Sister Larsen and Sister Mayer (from Chile) in our kitchen.

We feel so blessed and privileged to be here in this sacred place.  Our testimonies have only gotten deeper and stronger.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Settling in...

We've been here a couple of weeks now and are beginning to settle into a routine.  In the winter months we work at the Visitor Center for six hours a day, six days a week.  Thursday is our P-day and a chance to clean house, do laundry and shop for the week.  January and February are pretty slow months as far as visitors to the site go---we average 2-3 tours per day, so we have lots of down time to continue to study and learn all the things that good tour guides are supposed to know.  You never know when a General Authority will show up 😜  .   Certainly want to look like we know what we're talking about.  They are trusting us to do our own tours now.  Each tour lasts from 1 to 1 1/2 hours plus a beautiful video that can only be seen here at this site.  Summer time they tell us will be crazy---last year they had up to 700 visitors a day, so we'll enjoy the peace while we can.  Our Visitor Center directors will be leaving next week and the other senior couple leaves in 3 1/2 months, so soon we will be the most experienced ones here.  Kinda of scarey, I know.

The holidays were different, but lovely just the same.  Christmas day is the only day in the year when the visitor center is closed down, so we got all the missionaries together (14 in all, 8 senior missionaries and 6 young sisters) for a nice turkey dinner and some fun games after Church.  Then all headed to their homes to call their families.  We loved talking with all of our kids and grandkids during the day.  Technology is such a blessing, it was wonderful to be able to see everyone as well as hear them.  Don't want them to forget what we look like. New Year's Eve we all got together for some more games and snacks, but the young sister missionaries had to be in by 8:00, so the party broke up pretty early.  Have to admit we were in bed before midnight. Party poopers, I know!

We have been assigned to attend and support the Honesdale branch which is about an hour away on twisty and winding roads.  I'm proned to carsickness, so that's become a bit of a challenge.  I take a lot of Dramamine (then sleep through Church).   It's a very small branch, with almost no Priesthood brethren.  Two young elders are the counselors to the branch president.  The first Sunday we were there they held a phone up to the microphone and sang along to the recorded hymns on the Church's website.  So, they were glad to see us show up.  I know we'll grow to love those devout people who are faithfully doing what they can to live and share the gospel in a remote part of Pennsylvania.

Enough for today---gotta save something for my next post. 
Enjoy the pictures!

 Our Mission President, President Randall made a visit to the Site last week.


 These beautiful statues commemorating the Priesthood Restoration greet each visitor.  
They are recasts of the ones on Temple Square by Avard Fairbanks.

Elder Banner is ready to greet visitors and give them the tour!


Sister Banner greets them all with a smile and a warm welcome.
(Of course, we get up out of our comfortable chairs to do this.)

Below is one of the original copies of the Book of Mormon on display here at the center.
It's in excellent condition and a real treasure.