Church History Tour with BYU - July 23 - Aug 2, 1971 - Kirkland to Nebraska Part 4
At 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 29th we boarded the bus and drove to Kirkland, Ohio to visit the first temple of this dispensation.
We learned of the unfolding of many keys and truths in this early headquarters of the Church. It was in this place where the Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery accept the Kirkland temple. In Joseph Smith’s own words he describes their experience:
”We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us. And under his feel was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, say: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.
It was here that Elijah came and restored the keys of the sealing power allowing families to be sealed together eternally. Elias (or Noah) appears and restored the keys of the gospel of this dispensation. He said “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi-testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come-to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse” Moses restored the keys for the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth. Standing in that temple, you can feel the spirit of truth.
We then drove to Cleveland, Ohio to take United Flight 349 to Chicago arriving at 2:43 pm. We drove to Independence, Missouri and visited the temple site there and learned of the movement of Latter-day Saints to this gathering place. Here we spent the night. Picture to the right.
The next morning, we toured the town and recalled all of the hardships, the struggles, and achievements of the earrly saints. We traveled to Liberty where we toured the “Temple Prison.”It was here that Joseph Smith and Hyrum were kept for months in the cold, damp cellar conditions. Picture of Liberty Jail is to the right.
We then went on to Adam-ondi-Ahman to view the land where some day a great conference will be held and, the Savior will return All the keys of this dispensation will be returned back to him and the Savior will reign as King of the earth. All people will know that he is the Savior and Redeemer of the World.
This next picture is Vicky in front of the monument at Far West, Missouri. We proceeded across the state to where the saints were forced to flee from the irate mobs in the dead of the winter, walking across rivers of ice.
We continued on into Hannibal, Missouri to the home of Mark Twain. Here, we stood on the banks of the Mississippi River where Mark Twain ferried his boat up and down the river.
On July 31st, we boarded the bus at 8:00 am and drove through the Illinois countryside to Nauvoo where we spent the day touring the various church sites. We learned of the many sacrifices made to build the city of Nauvoo and the Nauvoo Temple. The ground given to the saints was basically swamp and unwanted land. Many died from diseases before the land was drained and could be built on. In spite of all odds, Nauvoo became one of the largest cities in Illinois and became a threat to the political leaders and those hating the Mormons.
This is a picture of the new visitor center in Nauvoo.
This is a picture of Vicky Gurney standing at the family monument in the gardens behind the new visitor center.
This is a picture of some of the members of our tour walking through the garden behind the new visitor center.
We then proceeded to Carthage to visit the jail where the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by the mob. This is a picture of some of our tour members outside of the jail.
On August 1st, we boarded the bus and drove to Winter Quarters, Nebraska where we stopped at Garden Grove. This is where thousands of saints would stop and rest while traveling westward to Utah or the land of Zion.
We concluded our journey with a testimony meeting and an inspirational account of the faith of the Mormon pioneers who settled the Great Basin. We departed from Omaha, Nebraska on United flight 899 and arrived in Salt Lake at 8:20 pm.
When I left for this tour, I thought that I had a testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. I came off of this tour with a burning in my soul that was unquenchable. I knew for myself, separate from any other person, but through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost that what I had felt and learned was true. I had never felt the spirit as strong as I did over those ten days.
In concluding this story, I would like to share one powerful story that I do not have an end to but would love to know. When we began our tour in upstate New York, we were assigned a bus driver that would be with us throughout the entire tour. On the bus, Brother Backman would give us the historical background of the places we would be visiting. During those presentations, the spirit on the bus was powerful.
Our bus driver at the beginning of the tour would stop and let us off and he would stay with the bus until we returned. Part way through we noticed that he began coming with us to visit the sites. At the end of the tour, the members of the tour had taken up a collection for him. We sang “God Be With You” and then presented him with our gift. The spirit was there, and he felt it. Another life had been changed by the power of the Holy Ghost. As we departed with tears in all our eyes, he said that we sounded better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That trip changed his life as it had mine.
In spite of all the crazy things that the imperfect people in the church can do to hurt or offend, the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. The teachings are true and it is led by a living, ordained prophet of God who holds the keys of the priesthood for this dispensation. The warnings and counsel they give are sure and they will never led anyone away from our Savior Jesus Christ for he has called them to be special witnesses of Him. If anyone remembers anything about me, let it be that I knew this to be true. God and His son Jesus Christ live and they know me and still love me for who I am, very imperfect child of God. To return to the beginning of this tour click HERE