Friday, July 16, 2010

The Armies of Heaven

Each day just keeps getting better and better. Yesterday our shift didn’t start until 2:00 so Matt took us to Mendon in the morning. Most people don’t even go over there because there are no official sites, but Mendon is the place Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball heard the gospel. Brigham’s home is no longer there but his father’s home is standing in two places! Many years ago they divided the home and moved half across the street and then added on to both halves. The Chruch now owns the home and at one point moved the John Young threshing barn to the Smith farm where it now stands.

Even though there aren’t many artifacts in Mendon, it was well worth the time to visit. Shortly after the Book of Mormon was published, Joseph’s brother Samuel went on the first mission. He labored far and wide trying to get someone, anyone, to purchase a Book of Mormon but no one would. Returning home very discouraged because he had not sold one single book he stopped in Mendon for the night at the Tomlinson in where he found Phineas Young, Brigham’s brother who was interested in reading the book. So Samuel sold him a book and went on home. Phineas dropped most of his chores for two weeks and read the book and believed. He also told his brother Brigham about the book and he read it and was interested.

You all know what happened from there, but something very extraordinary occurred before Samuel ever got to Mendon. Years before, on the 22 day of September 1827, Brigham Young was living 45 miles east of Mendon in Port Byron and Heber C. Kimball was living near his father in Mendon. The two men didn’t even know each other at the time but something happened to both of them that night that would change their lives.

Heber explains that he suddenly saw white smoke rising toward heaven accompanied by the sound of a mighty wind. The smoke moved across the sky, arched like a rainbow that stretched toward the western horizon. It grew wide, changed to a bluish color, and then grew transparent. As Heber, his wife Vilate, and family members and several neighbors watched, a large, commanding army suddenly began to march in platoons across the sky from east to west. “We could distinctly see the muskets, bayonets and knapsacks of the men,” Heber recorded, “and also saw their officers with their swords and equipage, and [heard] the clashing and jingling of their implements of war, and could discover the forms and features of the men. The most profound order existed throughout the entire army; when the foremost man stepped, every man stepped at the same time; I could hear the steps. When the front rank reached the western horizon a battle ensued, as we could distinctly hear the report of arms and the rush.

“No man could judge of my feelings when I beheld that army of men, as plainly as ever I saw armies of men in the flesh; it seemed as though every hair of my head was alive. This scenery we gazed upon for hours, until it began to disappear.”

Brigham and his wife Miriam saw the same thing in Port Byron and he recorded that the vision was perfectly clear, and that it remained for several hours.

What the Youngs and Kimballs did not know at the time is that on that day, the 22 day of September 1827, a man neither of them knew at the time, Joseph Smith, went to the Hill Cumorah and received the gold plates from the angel Moroni that he then translated and which we now know as the Book of Mormon. A lot of adversity paved the way for us to have this gospel, but there were also a lot of miracles.

Yesterday as we stood on the Young farm which is now acres of rolling farm land bordered by green forest, the trees framed a wide expanse of blue sky filled with white puffy clouds, and it was easy to picture the giant panorama in the sky that the Youngs and Kimballs saw. It was a little more difficult to imagine what they must have felt as they witnessed the armies of heaven going forth to battle.

(The top picture is one half of John Young's home with its additions. The second picture is the Tomlinson Inn where Samuel sold Phineas Young a Book of Mormon, and the last picture is a view of the fields and sky where Heber and Vilate would have seen the vision of the armies. Imagine those clouds as an army!)

No comments: