The Hill Cumorah Pageant

Bryan, Jeff (Bry’s brother), and I road tripped 5 ½ hours to upstate NY to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant this weekend! What fun! But what is this fantastic Pageant? Let me enlighten you.

First, the Hill Cumorah:
The Hill Cumorah holds significance to members of the LDS (aka Mormon) faith. Why? “In AD 421 Moroni, the last survivor of a great civilization that had inhabited the Americas since about 600 BC, buried in the hill [Cumorah] a set of golden plates on which was recorded the history of his people. In 1827 Moroni returned to this hill as an angel and delivered the plates to Joseph Smith who translated and published them as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” (LDS Church Historic NY Sites Pamphlet)

The Hill Cumorah Pageant:
Thus, the Hill Cumorah Pageant is an exquisite outdoor theatrical production in which volunteers portray scenes from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the deliverance of the Book of Mormon plates to Joseph Smith. This magnificent show—staged on the Hill Cumorah—is filled with special effects, dazzling costumes, music recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and sincere love for Jesus Christ. My family was actually in the Pageant in 2009, thus it holds a special place in my heart.

The sibs. Aren’t we all so adorable?!

Anyway, we left Friday evening and though we hardly ran into any traffic, we didn’t arrive at our hotel until nearly 2am. I tell you, after the Harry Potter midnight show Thursday and our late arrival Friday, we hit our pillows hard. Still, it was a lovely drive. And the sunset was spectacular! Look at the view!

Before heading over to the Hill Cumorah for the Pageant on Saturday, we actually spent the day visiting a number of LDS Church historical sites.

The Sacred Grove
The Sacred Grove is absolutely one of my favorite church historical sites. It was in this grove that we (Mormons) believe God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the young Joseph Smith Jr. And isn’t it gorgeous?

You see, Joseph Smith Jr. was confused as to which church to join. It was at this time that he happened upon James 1:5 in the Bible that reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” After pondering upon James’ profound words, Joseph decided to act upon the divine instruction. Thus, Joseph went to a nearby grove of trees in the spring of 1820 to pray. In response to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph and instructed him not to join any of the established churches. Instead, they directed that he should wait for further guidance in the restoration of Christ’s Church.

When my family was in the Pageant this was my favorite place to read, study, and reflect on the gospel of Jesus Christ and life. And while we don’t know the exact location as to where Joseph saw the Father and the Son, but I’ll tell you it happened. The love of God and His Son is palpable there. Obviously you don’t have to go there to feel God’s love, but the reverence of the area definitely helps to create an atmosphere in which one can be in tuned to His spirit of love.

The Joseph Smith Sr. Farm
The Joseph Smith Sr. Farm, and home to young Joseph, is situated next to the Sacred Grove. It was here in the Smith’s home that we believe Moroni—the ancient prophet who lived around AD 400 and buried the Book of Mormon plates—first visited the young boy Joseph Smith. Then, after being taught by this ancient prophet Joseph received the Book of Mormon plates from the Hill Cumorah while still living in on this farm.

Can you believe they fit nearly 10 people in there! We are so spoiled these days. That being said, I’d take their land and fresh air over a big home any day.

The Book of Mormon Publication Site
The Book of Mormon shares the account of the descendents of the prophet Lehi, who left Jerusalem for the Americas in BC 600. The Book of Mormon—a companion to the Holy Bible—is another testament of Jesus Christ and details Christ’s visit to the ancient Americas after His resurrection. Joseph Smith translated this ancient account by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. It was then at this site, that 5,000 copies of the first edition of the Book of Mormon were printed between 1829 and 1830.

Martin Harris Farm
We also stopped by the Martin Harris Farm. It was thanks to Martin Harris’ commendable willingness to sell this farm for $3,000 (a particularly hefty sum in the 1800s) that they were able to fund the initial publishing and printing of the Book of Mormon. And although it is a private residence today, the owners are kind enough to let visitors park and walk around the outside of the beautiful home.

Alvin Smith’s Grave
Alvin was Joseph’s older brother who died in 1823 at the age of 25. He was also sadly engaged at the time. His poor fiancé. From the sounds of it, Alvin was a quality man though. Alvin readily believed Joseph and always was willing to listen. And I’ve always loved how much Joseph looked up to his brother. The Smith family truly was amazing. Later in life, Joseph saw Alvin in a vision during which he received revelation that there is life after death and we can be with our deceased loved ones forever.

Whitmer Farm
We also ventured over to the Peter Whitmer Farm, where the restored Church of Jesus Christ (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was organized on April 6, 1830. It is further thought that the three witnesses—who saw the plates of gold from which the Book of Mormon was translated—saw the plates near the site of the farm.

Somewhere in all that we also drove by, and over, and around the Erie Canal about 100 times...

Speaking of the Erie Canal, isn’t it neat how God works in such mysterious ways. What I mean is, the printing press that produced the Book of Mormon was only available to Joseph thanks to the Erie Canal which was only completed a year or so before the printing commenced. So essentially, without the Erie Canal they wouldn’t have had the access to adequate equipment. God’s a planner, that’s for sure. His work will move forward.

Oh yes, and we of course stopped by Palmyra’s infamous Chill ‘N Grill with my fantastic grandparents who were still road tripping about the East Coast.

I got myself a “kiddie” size… THREE scoops!

And these are “smalls”:

…FOUR scoops! Did I mention it’s all dirt cheap too (and not because we were coming from Manhattan either). Quite fantastic really! And divine!

Oh I love my fam. Later for dinner we again met up with my amazing grandparents at the quaint and delicious Family Restaurant. And alas we headed to the Hill Cumorah where we wandered about the visitor’s center.

Then we climbed to the top of the hill. What a site!

Phenomenal no?!

And finally, the Pageant! Did I mention my Uncle John and Aunt Elizabeth were in it this year with their families? John was Moroni (the prophet who hid the Book of Mormon plates in the Hill Cumorah).

Doesn’t he look awesome?! This is John’s eighth time being in the Pageant. SO cool! 

Gavin, John’s son, and his friends were Destruction Victims. I believe this is Gavin’s fourth time.

Elizabeth was Ishmael’s wife.

Katie (left) was a Lamanite Campfire Dancer and Sarah (right) was a Harlot Dancer (kind of ironic seeing as she’s the furthest thing from a Harlot).

Amy played the same part I played 2 years ago: a Nephite Dancer and Destruction Stunt Victim. Don’t you love our costume?

And Sterling was an Alma Citizen.

Oh it was just marvelous seeing my cousins, aunt, and uncles in their costumes. Don’t they look great!

And it was wonderful to actually watch the Hill Cumorah Pageant! Because I was in it, I never actually got to see it, so this was technically my first time. Amazing!

What a phenomenal production! Where else can you find 700 (not an exaggeration) volunteers working together to share their love of Jesus Christ like that?! Watching it brought back so many fond memories. The Hill Cumorah Pageant is truly amazing. If you ever have the chance to be in it, do it. And if you ever have the chance to see it, go. It was a truly wonderful evening.

Ps: And one last story: On our way back to the car, my Grandma cracked us up so bad. We were discussing how we wish Jesus would just come already (for the second coming that is) so we wouldn’t have to deal with any more presidents, etc. (we were all jesting back and forth). I said, “How bout we ask Him to come tomorrow?”

To which my Grandma retorted, “Oh no. How about next week. I need to do my hair. Don’t want to go out looking bad…” 

Too funny! Love them!

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