Visiting `hallowed and sacred ground'

The day was cool and overcast. But President Gordon B. Hinckley's enthusiasm for visiting the birthplace of Joseph Smith - a place where prophecy was fulfilled - couldn't be dampened by rain.

"I am grateful to put my two feet where the Prophet Joseph Smith was born," he told missionaries assembled for a special meeting in the chapel near the memorial site."This is hallowed and sacred ground. This is where it all began. He became an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to part the curtain on the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times."

President Hinckley visited the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial as part of a four-day tour through New England and New York Oct. 14-17, before journeying on to Chicago Oct. 18. (See separate story on page 6.)

His tour in the Northeast included stops in Vermont, Massachusetts and New York. He began the tour by meeting with 1,600 members from the Montpelier Vermont Stake Oct. 14 in the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vt.

He then met with missionaries of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission on Oct. 15 at the birthplace of Joseph Smith. Later that day, he spoke to 5,500 members from three stakes assembled in the Paul Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass.

On Oct. 16, he toured the construction site of the Boston temple in Belmont, Mass., and then met with the missionaries of the Massachusetts Boston Mission. That evening he met with approximately 3,500 members from four stakes assembled in the Centrum in downtown Worcester, Mass. He concluded the trip through the Eastern states by speaking Oct. 17 to members of the Utica and Albany stakes in New York.

President Hinckley was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Marjorie, and by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Mary, and by Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area and his wife, Lonna.

The meeting with the members from the Montpelier stake appeared to be in jeopardy when a power outage 10 minutes prior to the special member meeting threatened to cancel the meeting.

Pres. Richard A. Baldwin of the Montpelier Vermont Stake offered a prayer, followed by the choir and congregation joining together in the singing of familiar hymns while sitting in the dark.

About 35 minutes later, approximately 10 minutes before the congregation would have been required to evacuate according to law, the lights came on amid cheers and tears of gratitude.

"I, too, was praying that a solution would be found for the lights to be turned back on," said President Hinckley when he arrived about 20 minutes later.

The next morning, on Oct. 15, President Hinckley traveled the colorful, foliage-lined roads of Vermont to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial where he toured the site. There he shared his love and testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith with 164 missionaries of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission at the South Royalton chapel on the grounds of the memorial.

President Hinckley spoke endearingly and reverently of Joseph Smith, noting how Joseph was refined by affliction. He was a boy "born of humblest of circumstances who would grow to be revered."

"God's hand," he said, "was literally, I believe, on this family. The Lord was watching over him."

President Hinckley then reminded the missionaries that "it isn't enough to serve today as missionaries. You must continue to help," he said, urging them to continue strengthening their converts, even after they return home following their missions.

"President Hinckley blessed, inspired and enlightened the missionaries," said Pres. Lee Ford Hunter of the New Hampshire mission following the meeting. "The prophet awakened in them an increased determination to love and labor more diligently."

After the missionary meeting, President Hinckley visited the memorial that is set among the rolling hills and green fields of Sharon, Vt. The memorial is bordered by a forest of sugar maples, oaks, red maples, white birch and pine trees. President Hinckley and his party were accompanied by the directors of the site, Lee and Ruth Beckstead, as they strolled around the 381/2-foot monument on a cool, overcast day.

That evening, President Hinckley met with members from the Nashua New Hampshire, Concord New Hampshire and Boston Massachusetts stakes in the Paul Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass., where he counseled members to be worthy to attend the Boston temple when it is completed.

"Get ready. Let every man and woman who is here resolve that he or she will be worthy, qualified and ready to enter the house of the Lord when it is dedicated.

"I hold this out as a challenge. If you do so, you will be blessed. Your families will be blessed. We must clean up our lives . . . of those things that pull us down," he said.

On Oct. 16, President Hinckley spoke in Belmont, Mass., with missionaries in the Massachusetts Boston Mission. Mission president and former Atlanta Braves baseball star Dale Murphy presented three baseball bats to President Hinckley that had been autographed by the missionaries.

"Tremendous is your responsibility," President Hinckley told the missionaries, after reminding them of the command given by the Lord, "to reprove the world of unrighteous deeds." (see D&C 84:87.)

"Yours is the burden to teach in such a way that

othersT can partake of that light

of the LordT," he said.

Recounting the Lord's admonition to Thomas B. Marsh in 1837, President Hinckley urged the missionaries to "let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber, because of thy speech." (D&C 112:5.)

That evening, President Hinckley met with members from the Hingham Massachusetts, Hartford Connecticut, Providence Rhode Island and Springfield Massachusetts stakes in the Centrum, a large municipal arena in Worcester, Mass.

He expressed his joy for the temple in Boston that is under construction, and then reiterated to his listeners the challenge to be temple-worthy by its anticipated completion in the year 2000.

"Until you have received the sacred ordinances of the temple," he said, "you have not received all the wonderful blessings this gospel has to offer."

President Hinckley then met with members of the Utica and Albany New York stakes on Oct. 17 in Proctor's Theater, a renovated vaudeville theater in Schenectady, N.Y.

In a decaying industrial area, where many good-paying jobs have been lost in recent years, President Hinckley said he was touched by the faithfulness of the members and promised the members who paid an honest tithing that, "the Lord will look after you and bring you peace and satisfaction.

"His prospering hand will rest upon the Saints who pay their tithes and offerings," he said.

"This was a great comfort to our people," said Pres. John C. Vom Lehn of the Albany New York Stake.

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