Sunday, May 13, 2007

Independence, Missouri and Liberty Jail

Today I have had some truly amazing spiritual experiences. I visited the Independence Visitor’s Center and walked to places such as the courthouse were many church leaders, including the gifted orator Sidney Rigdon spoke. I saw the site of the printing press where the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published and later a mob virtually destroyed the building and the Doctrine and Covenants (then called the Book of Commandments) manuscript was saved by the 15 and 13 year-old Rollins sisters. I reflected in each of these spots what it must have been like in those exact places over 150 years ago. I felt the spirit in both locations. I could imagine Brother Rigdon speaking with power and conviction. I imagined the mob rushing up to the second floor printing press and destroying it, throwing the individual type-settings in every direction.

I also visited the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) temple and museum. There I saw a first edition Book of Mormon and other early printings. I saw the Bible Joseph Smith made his inspired changes in and an original manuscript from when the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the changes. My new friend Bill was very helpful at the museum. He told me of his testimony of the First Vision. Bill shared with me his thoughts on the similarities between Joseph Smith and the Savior Jesus Christ, and I could not have agreed with him more. He spoke about their similar poor upbringings, their short ministries, their rejection by most of the people, and their final death before their 40th birthdays. I really appreciated and enjoyed hearing Bill’s love of the Savior and the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Across the street, I entered the Visitor’s Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The spirit was exceptionally strong there. I was greatly edified by it. Although I have seen the Joseph Smith film produced by The Church before, I decided to watch it again. I was very touched by the film. Formerly living in Idaho and Utah, Missouri had seemed like such a far off place, one I certainly could not relate to. Now, being there, on land dedicated to be a house of the Lord Jesus Christ, within Jackson County, the Joseph Smith film took on new meaning. I felt alive with the spirit, as my body was filled. My testimony that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet of God, that he truly did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that he did translate the Book of Mormon by the power and authority of God grew considerably today. I know that Heavenly Father has restored his one true church with the authority to act in his name, with the same structure having prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers as existed in the church Jesus Christ organized while he was on the Earth. I share this with you in the name of our Savior, who truly did suffer for my sins and yours, even Jesus the Christ.

Later in the day, I visited Liberty Jail, where the Prophet Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin were all held. I was struck by how awful the conditions were at the jail. The feeling I received there was that as spiritual and filled with faith as the Prophet Joseph Smith was, there was still room for him to humble himself further to draw closer to Heavenly Father. It helped me to realize the value of hardship in our lives. I’ve always know that difficult circumstances truly enhance character. However, today I think I understood this principle more fully. I am thankful for my trials. I know that God gives us things that are hard so was can get better, so we always have room to improve. I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I know they love me. I share this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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