Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Sacred Grove Experience

It has been a tradition in the SCCM since President Holm has been here, to give all the new missionaries their own Sacred Grove experience.  Elder Arrington and I, and Sister Barlow, because we are also greenies, of a sort, got to go along this time.

The new missionaries arrived Monday afternoon.  Tuesday morning, we all met at the Irmo Chapel at 6:30, then drove out to Hopkins, where the Columbia, South Carolina Temple is located.  We took the back roads, and parked along the road east of the temple.  Between the road where we got out of our cars and the temple - it was solid forest.  We walked up a steep embankment and into the trees.  Two years ago, Presient Holm and his APs had gone in and cleared an area of vines and branches in the midst of the grove of trees.  When we gathered in that area, President Holm talked about 14-year-old Joseph Smith who went into a similar grove of trees in Palmyra New York to pray and ask God which of all the churches he should join.
This would be a great place to insert this picture, which was on the wall of our room at the MTC.
I think it's my favorite painting ever of 14-year-old Joseph Smith.
He reminds me of my grandson, Jackson, who is the same age as Joseph,
when he offered that prayer, after reading James 1:5 in his family bible.
It was in that grove that Joseph had a vision of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.  We sang the hymn, Joseph Smith's First Prayer together and one of the new missionaries was asked to lead us in prayer. When we finished, President Holm gave us 10-15 minutes to find a spot where we could be by ourselves to ponder and worship and pray.  My companion walked me over to a fallen tree, where I could sit to do my meditating - then he found his own private place in the grove.  I prayed - thanking God for the restoration of His gospel, for my family, and for the opportunity to come on this mission.  When I opened my eyes, I saw all those young missionaries, scattered here and there in the woods.  They appeared to be praying, or pondering, or reading their scriptures.  It was a  profoundly reverent scene.

President Holm had instructed all of us, when we were ready to leave, to walk toward the APs and the Traveling Sisters who were lined up on the other side of the forest.  They greeted each one of us, and as we came out into the clearing, President Holm was there to meet us - as was the beautiful temple - which shone in the morning sunlight.

No comments:

Post a Comment