Tuesday, March 22, 2011
And what a wonderful, WONDERFUL trip it was! The students were a delight to be with for the day! We gathered at 6 am, ate muffins and juice, said a prayer and headed out! The drive was smooth sailing, one rest stop half way there.
We arrived first at the John Johnson farm where the Prophet Joseph Smith lived for one year. The Johnson's inspire us in their story of faith, acceptance, and sacrifice in behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a treasure to walk where the prophet walked, touch the staircase railing, see the original mantels and cupboards, and the room where he and Emma lay the night they were awake with their little twins with measles, when the mob crashed through the door and dragged Joseph from the bed and from the baby he was caring for that night, beat and kicked him in the field across from the house, striped him and poured hot tar on his naked skin, then left him (perhaps for dead as he thought Sidney Rigdon may be for he lay lifeless not far from the prophet). Emma fainted when she saw Joseph thinking the tar was blood. And the dear babe he tended to that night died from the exposure. Joseph preached to people who had gathered around the front steps of the home to hear him the next morning, despite he and Emma and a few others working all night to rub and rip the tar from his skin. We stood on those steps. Neatest of all is to walk into the room the Johnsons gave Joseph for the work he had to do. About 16 revelations were received in that room. So moving to be there and feel still the spirit of the work and what happened there.
Next we visited the Kirtland temple, the 1st temple built by the Saints in this dispensation of time. A preparatory temple where the Saints were 'endowed with power from on high', given - along with the priesthood keys of gathering, the gospel of Abraham, and the sealing power - visions, blessings, witnesses, words, and strength to go forth to take the gospel to all the world. This property is no longer owned by the church or recognized as a temple obviously but one can still feel the great sacrifice, work, and LOVE the Saints had as they built a temple to their God. The Saints had to leave Kirtland for the persecution that raged there a couple of years after the temple was completed. My dear kids (seminary students) observed first hand the stark contrast between the small, and almost empty, spirit at the temple visitor's center owned by Community of Christ vs. the absolutely living, breathing, joyful, broad as the sky and deeper than the ocean warmth and fresh-breath and LIFE of the Spirit we felt as we stepped into The Church of Jesus Chirst of Latter-day Saints buildings with set-apart missionaries serving there. Many of the students, including my Isaac had determined they would not be biased but would listen to both Community of Christ church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presentations openly and non-judgementally. He learned for himself how really and powerfully the Holy Spirit testifies of truth, how WONDERFUL it feels and how much it fills your heart as he and many others of the youth were moved to tears of joy just feeling it at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visitor center. It was obvious to see the Spirit's influence and the effect of the light of Christ in the sister missionaries countenances and the authority with which they spoke. Their eyes sparkled, were wide with life and love, joy and animation, their beings practically glowed (my students said 'they glowed! they glowed!' I agree.) They were wonderfully friendly and laughed in good humor easily, like a bubbling brook it just flowed. Most of all, they spoke with wisdom, light, and truth, with a sure authority. We listened and felt the Holy Spirit witness to our hearts of their words. (It didn't matter which sister missionary - there were 5 who worked with us - they all had radiant light coming from within!)
My favorite part of the tour was sitting with my seminary students in the 'school of the prophets' room above the Whitney store. Why? Because this year in seminary I have felt that. We have our own mini-school of the prophets right here in Williamsport, PA. What an amazing thing for us to go and feel our testimonies of the Savior and His work here upon the earth grow through the witness we felt of the Holy Ghost.
We returned home past midnight, but every single student of the 23 that had attended Kirtland was at church the next morning despite the early hour of the meeting. Why? Because conviction and the Spirit burned in our hearts. I'm sure the Lord had personally arranged this, but much to my surprise 2 of the seminary students were speaking that day in sacrament meeting. To hear these beautiful, wholesome, sound, intelligent youth of promise stand up and bear testimony of the Savior, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to hear them articulate the feelings and experiences we had enjoyed the day before in such a moving way was a great blessing for me and for all the ward.
I am so grateful we were blessed with such a trip, that I am blessed with such a group to teach, and that I get to LEARN SO MUCH while teaching! MOST OF ALL, I am grateful for this great work of the Lord on the earth today, in it's fullness! It brings the GREATEST of JOYS to me!!! My heart cannot help but leap and jump and fill to overflowing my whole being when so filled with the testimony of the Holy Ghost. I believe in Christ, in the power to be saved through Him, He is the ONLY way. I am grateful for the power of the atonement in my daily life. I am grateful for Christ's mercy and charity and love. I am grateful for the great gift of His gospel in my life. I hope with alllll my heart to be true to Him each day of my life, to serve Him in anyway I can.
LOVE YOU! Sister Hoffman (seminary teacher)
Posted by Hoffman Crew at 9:33 PM