Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Church History Tour: Independence, Missouri

These shoes served me well and stood in many sacred holy places
that were "temple-like" in their sacredness and spirit...
from Independence, Missouri...to Liberty Jail...to Parley Street in
Nauvoo...to Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Hi everyone!  Just got back from a whirlwind Church History Workshop with my husband and am excited to share some of the awesome, insights we learned along the way.  This was SUCH a great opportunity that I wish all of you could experience. I know we may be boring people or boring parents, but I would MUCH rather spend my money and time on a Church History Tour than a trip to Disney Land.  It is so worth it and such a testimony building experience.
You can't go to these sacred places without coming away moved, that yes indeed, something sacred happened here.  You feel it. However,  let me interject and say that you don't have to be in these places to know it is real, or to feel the power of testimony of these people and experiences. 
Someone once said, " In great deeds and great sacrifices
something resides." 
That is a very true statement. When you are standing in the same air, or on the same floor boards, or the same dirt that these people once did...where they sacrificed, did great deeds, or died for a cause....you FEEL of their spirit and their purpose.
Ready to go on a short Church History Tour? Let's begin....
We'll start with Independence, Missouri.

the promises and prophecies...
An important thing to remember is that Independence, Jackson County, Missouri was the location of the Garden of Eden.

"It is a pleasant thing to think of and to know where the garden of Eden was...In Jackson County was the garden of Eden, Joseph has declared this and I am as much bound to believe that as to believe Joseph was a prophet of God" (Brigham Young, Journal History of the Church, March 15, 1857)

"In accord with the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we teach that the Garden of Eden was on the American continent located where the City of Zion or the New Jerusalem will be built.  When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, they eventually dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, situated in Daviess County, Missouri" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation)
Independence is also the location of a future temple site and the New Jerusalem. Right now it is a large area of grass where  a cornerstone is layed.

" Joseph Smith dedicated the temple site for the city of New Jerusalem on August 3, 1831.  He laid the northeast cornerstone and delivered the dedicatory prayer."

the persecutions and misery...
Independence is a place of promise and prophecy.  However, when the early Saints lived there, it was anything but pleasant or promising. This is kind of a tough time of LDS Church History that we remember as being a place of persecutions and misery for the Church leaders and the Saints. The leaders of the Church were tarred and feathered, businesses and homes burned, and the Saints were driven out.  Like you, I have wondered WHY it was so bad or had to be so bad?  Where was the law? Where was the civility? Where was God?
In the 1830's Missouri was the far west border of the country.  It was where the lawless criminals were hiding out. The Saints were, of coarse,  not the lawless, uncivilized, uneducated type. They were a people who were  following their God, their prophet, and their faith.  This was the Independence, Missouri that the Saints found:
"It seemed good and pleasant for brethren to meet together in unity. But our reflections were many, coming as we had from a highly cultivated state of society in the east, and standing now upon the confines or western limits of the United States...; how natural t was to observe the degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity, and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times.
As we could not associate with our neighbors (who were, many of them, of the basest of m en, and had fled from the face of civilized society, to the frontier country to escape the hand of justice)  in their midnight revels, their Sabbath breaking, horse racing, and gambling;  they commenced at first to ridicule, then to persecute." (History of the Church)  

Some may struggle with WHY the Saints had to suffer so much or HOW they endured all the persecutions they did. Some may wonder where God was for them at that time.  One principle to keep in mind is that the  the Lord was refining His Saints.  The refining process can't happen through easy times of no trial. Although the early Saints went through severe trials and suffered incredible losses, they were never alone.  When we go through hard times of trial and wonder where the Lord is we are never alone. I'll cover that topic a little more when we talk about the  Liberty Jail experience.