Hello, my name is Sister Taylor. And I’m Sister Norda. We are missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today we were standing near the Sacred Grove in Palmyra in Manchester, New York, USA. We were happy to share this holy place with you.

Joseph Smith Senior moved to this area in 1816 in search of good land. In January 1817, his wife, Lucy Mack Smith, arrived with their eight children.

The family rented a home in the village of Palmyra, about 500 kilometers or 300 miles northwest of New York City. They united their energy to support themselves and to earn money for land where they could establish a farm on 40 hectares or 100 acres. The men and older boys in the family dug and built wells, constructed rock walls and fireplaces, hunted and trapped wildlife,

split wood for fences and firewood, and harvested crops.

Joseph Senior also worked as a cooper,

making and selling barrels and other containers.

Lucy and the younger children made and sold pies, root beer, gingerbread, boiled eggs, and other foods.

After more than a year, the family had saved enough money for a down payment on the land behind us now.

This land was a forest, so Joseph Senior and his older son started chopping down some of the trees to clear the ground for crops. But before they could get established on a farm of their own, they needed a place to live. Using some of the trees they cut down, they built a log home and moved in probably around 1819. The home that is here now is a replica.

It is built in the same place as the original home, according to careful research about how the home was made and what it looked like. When we walk into this home, we walk into a place of love, learning, faith, and hard work.

Let’s go inside where we can get a sense of the environment Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith Senior created for their children.

We invite you to imagine this room in early spring, 1820.

Ten people lived in this home: Joseph Senior, Lucy, and eight children ages 4 to 22.

During the day, family members worked and played inside the home and on the land. They cooked here in this space and probably outside as well, and they ate meals together here. At night and perhaps on Sundays, this is their central gathering place.

As you look around the room, maybe you can picture the family of 10 after a day of hard work.

The Smiths prayed and read the Bible together in this space.

William, one of the sons, said years later, that when their father reached for his glasses in his vest pocket, the children always knew it was time for prayer and a song. Lucy Mack Smith said, “We had a snug log house, neatly furnished and the means of living comfortably.”

She remembered “the sweetest union and happiness pervaded our family.”

When the Smiths lived here,

this part of the country was full of excitement and confusion about religion.

Perhaps some discussions in this room centered on the different messages from preachers in the area who seemed to be competing for people to join their churches.

Lucy, two sons, and a daughter regularly attended the Presbyterian church.

Joseph Jr. was among those in his family that did

not unite with the congregation.

Of all the members of the Smith family,

14-year-old Joseph seemed to be the most troubled by the commotion about religion.

He later recorded four different accounts of this time in his life.

Those accounts come together to help us understand his sincere struggles

and the miraculous way God answered his questions.

He said that he attended the meetings of different churches as often as he could, trying to determine what he should do.

He said, “My mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness.

So great was the confusion and strife among the different denominations that it was impossible for a person young as I was to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.”

Joseph was also troubled about the welfare of his own soul.

He said, “I became convicted of my sins.”

As he wrestled with these concerns, he often turned to the Bible.

He read a Bible much like this one on the table.

This Bible was published before 1820.

It is open to a verse of scripture that had a tremendous impact on Joseph and eventually on people throughout the world:

James chapter one, verse five. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”

Joseph said that this verse seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of his heart. He thought about it again and again.

He felt that he was in darkness and confusion and needed wisdom and mercy from God. So he finally decided to pray to God and ask for help. So one spring morning in 1820,

14-year-old Joseph went outside on his own.

Joseph said that on the morning of a beautiful, clear day early in the spring, he went to the woods to pray.

He went to a place where he could be alone.

Once Joseph arrived to the place where he previously designed to go, somewhere in this forest, he knelt on the ground and for the first time in his life, prayed aloud. When he started to pray, a terrible power seized him and bound his tongue so he could not speak.

Thick darkness gathered around him, and he thought he might be destroyed,

but he exerted all his power to call on God to deliver him.

Just when Joseph was about to give up, God answered his prayer.

Joseph later described his experience:

“Just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared then I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.

When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description standing above me in the air.

One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, ‘This is my beloved Son. Hear Him.’”

When Joseph was able to speak, he asked which church he should join.

The Lord told him not to join any of the churches then in existence.

He said, “They draw near unto me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

They teach for doctrines, the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

The Savior also gave Joseph hope and comfort for his soul.

He said, “Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee.

Go thy way, walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments.

Behold, I am the Lord of Glory.

I was crucified for the world that all those who believe on my name may have eternal life.”

In this forest, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited young Joseph,

filling him with joy unspeakable.

We call this event Joseph’s First Vision, and we call this forest the Sacred Grove.

I’m sure you’d like to experience the Sacred Grove for yourself.

So let's take a walk together.

While we walk, we'll be silent and we ask you to do the same.

Listen to the sounds of the forest.

Even more, listen for the Lord's messages for you.

As you listen for the Lord’s messages, you can obey the command

Heavenly Father gave young Joseph. You can hear Him.

Joseph’s First Vision, beginning with a simple prayer, changed his life.

It has changed the lives of people throughout the world.

It has changed my life. Because of what happened that spring morning in the Sacred Grove, I have an assurance that miracles have not ceased,

that God knows us by name and continues to speak to us today.

I'm thankful that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ visited Joseph here because of the many blessings it has brought.

When the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph,

it opened up the dispensation of the fullness of times—the time when the Savior would restore His gospel and Church to the earth in preparation for His Second Coming. Joseph’s First Vision led to his ministry as the prophet of the restoration.

It led to the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, to the restoration of priesthood authority and power, to the organization of the Savior’s Restored Church, and to covenants, ordinances, and temples.

No matter where we live, we can be connected to the Sacred Grove and Joseph's experience here.

When the heavens opened that spring morning for Joseph, they opened for all of us.

Thank you for joining us today in two sacred places—a loving and supportive home, and a quiet forest where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

visited a young man who sought for the truth.

Sacred Grove Historic Site, Part 1: The First Vision

Missionaries welcome you into a replica of Joseph Smith’s boyhood home and take you on a walk in the Sacred Grove. They share the story of Joseph’s First Vision— the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Related Collections