I didn't send out an email yesterday on my normal Pday due to an incredible opportunity that I was able to take part in today. So we switched our pdays. But, before I get into that, transfers happened! I am now serving in Vineland, New Jersey! It's as far south as jersey sisters can go. My new companion is Sister Hoofman. She has been out a few transfers longer than me and is from Las Vegas. I'm loving the Vineland Ward and have already been very fortunate to have felt confirmation of some reasons why I need to be here. :) But more about the area next week, I have exciting stories to tell!
Today I was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip up to the tippy top of our mission and experience the Priesthood Restoration Site in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. The church has been working on the renovation of this site for quite some time and about a month ago
President Russell M. Nelson came to our mission and dedicated the site to the Lord. Upon our arrival today, my mission president promised us that we could have spiritual experiences to change our lives, if we allowed that to happen.
As I walked through the trees and the homes of Joseph and Emma and the
Hales I was struck by many different things, and I'll mention a few. First, at the beginning of the tours they show a short video called Harmony, it's about Joseph's time here and, just what the site is about, how the restoration of the priesthood and the translation of the Book of Mormon came to pass. I kept noticing that whenever there was a moment of upset, confusion, or discouragement Joseph's first instinct was to to turn to the Lord in prayer. And I asked myself "is that my first instinct? Do I immediately begin counseling with my Heavenly Father? Or do I try to go about His work on my own
knowledge?" I was definitely slightly chastised with this realization and have committed to do better. As it says in Alma 37:37 "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and he will direct the for good" and
Joseph truly is a perfect example of this.
Another thing that hit me once again was how perfectly planned out Joseph's experiences were here. And countless times in the Book of Mormon it is stated that this record was being prepared for a later day. Many accounts wrote that they didn't know why they were writing
except for the Lord commanded it. But Heavenly Father knew. He knew
exactly when and where the Book of Mormon would come about in these
latter days. And the course of the Smith and Hales families shows this
organization as well. The Hales' prosperity and status placed them on
large amounts of land and kept them in one place, the Smith's we poor and through many hardships ended up near the Hill Cumorah where the plates were hidden. Their situations may not have seemed significant at the time but when you step back and look at things from a bigger pictures their stories were truly guided by the Lord as they made their way to where they needed to be.
To finish our tour we were all able to walk along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the very place where the baptism of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry, the first baptisms of this dispensation, took place. I was so amazed by the beauty and the reverence of the river and so grateful for the examples of these two great men. Their simple prayer changed the entire world, and I know that simple prayers can
change our lives.
I am again so grateful for this opportunity that I had to gain a greater witness of the restoration of the gospel. I know that this
message that we share it true and I know, without a doubt, that Heavenly Father wants us to all receive the blessings of this restored gospel by gaining and acting on faith, repenting, being baptized and
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continually progressing and renewing our covenants with him. He knows and loves us all, and this "marvelous work and a wonder" is to help us all return to live with
him in a state of never ending happiness. And I know that the priesthood is absolutely essential for that plan to be possible.
Sister Rachel Petrick