Hello, I’m Sister Bangerter.

And I’m Sister Barney. We serve as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here at the Priesthood Restoration Site in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

We're just a short walk away from a bend in the Susquehanna River, which you will see at the end of our experience together. For us, this site is holy ground.

It is a place where Jesus Christ revealed precious truths and restored the power and authority to do His work on the earth.

We are outside the reconstructed home of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale.

It stands in the exact location of the original home, which Isaac built in about 1809,

probably with help from his older sons and Elizabeth's brother, Nathaniel.

This area became part of a new township called Harmony, Pennsylvania.

Isaac and Elizabeth Hale had nine children. Isaac was a successful hunter.

He sold enough meat and pelts to support his large family and even provide extra luxuries for them.

One day, Isaac went out to hunt. In the woods

not far from here, he heard a little voice.

As he got closer, he discovered that the voice belonged to his daughter, Emma, who was about seven or eight years old.

Emma was praying aloud for the welfare of her father's soul.

At the time, Isaac was a deist, believing in a supreme creator, but not in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Isaac was so touched by his daughter's prayer that he converted to faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Emma's vocal prayer in the forest changed the life of her father. About 14 years later,

Emma met a young man whose vocal prayer in a forest had already begun to change the world. His name was Joseph Smith.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came in answer to Joseph's prayer.

This event was the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.

You can learn about this event and others by taking virtual tours of the Sacred Grove and Smith Family Farm.

Let’s go inside the Hale home, where we'll talk a little bit about how Joseph and Emma met.

In 1825, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale provided a temporary lodging for a group of men,

probably in the log home where the Hale family had once lived.

A man named Josiah Stoll led this group.

He had hired them to help him find a silver mine he believed was in the area. One of those men was 19-year-old Joseph Smith,

who had a reputation as someone who could use what was called a seer stone to find things people had lost or to even find buried treasure.

Josiah and his workers stayed on the Hale’s land for about a month before Joseph persuaded him to call off the search.

During that month, Emma caught Joseph’s eye, and the two of them became friends.

It's possible that they first met in a room like this,

where Emma might have served food to Josiah Stoll and his workers.

The next year, Joseph came back to the area to work for Josiah Stoll and Joseph Knight on their farms.

While in the area, he found time to attend school.

He also came here to see Emma.

Joseph and Emma probably spent some time in the Hale’s parlor.

The parlor was a place for social gatherings such as quilting bees.

Isaac was a successful enough hunter and businessman to have a parlor with beautiful furniture and decorations. In a room like this, Joseph and Emma talked and got to know one another,

probably interrupted from time to time by Emma's parents and younger siblings.

Perhaps it was here that Joseph told Emma about God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to him in answer to prayer, about his visits with an angel, and about his calling to translate an ancient book of scripture written on golden plates—the Book of Mormon.

These stories must have been surprising to Emma at first, but she clearly came to believe Joseph.

I admire Emma for her continual faith and trust in Joseph and in the Lord.

Joseph summoned enough courage to ask Isaac for permission to marry Emma.

I picture that serious conversation happening in this room.

The conversation didn't end well. Isaac refused.

He didn't like the fact that Joseph was a stranger from outside the area.

He didn’t like that Joseph had, for a time, worked for a treasure hunter,

and he and other members of the family did not like Joseph continuing to say that he had seen a vision.

Eventually, Emma did marry Joseph without her father's approval.

Joseph and Emma eloped in January of 1827 when he was 21 and she was 22 years old.

Josiah Stoll took them to Manchester, New York, about 140 miles,

or 225 kilometers away.

There they lived with Joseph's family, who welcomed Emma into their home. While living in Manchester,

Joseph was entrusted with the golden plates.

You can learn more about this in a virtual tour of the Hill Cummorah.

After about a year living in Manchester, persecution against Joseph and his family because of his declarations about visions, angels, and gold plates, became too much for Emma and Joseph to bear.

Since many people tried repeatedly to steal the plates, Joseph and Emma decided to leave Manchester.

They had already started making preparations to move to Harmony at the invitation of Emma’s parents. When they made the decision to move, Emma’s brother Alva made the long trip to Manchester and back in his one horse wagon to help them.

At the time, Emma was about three months pregnant.

When the young couple arrived here in December of 1827,

they brought two cows and a few other possessions. They also brought the golden plates hidden in a barrel of beans.

In moments when Joseph was alone, he would copy some of the characters from the gold plates written in an ancient language he did not understand.

Perhaps he did so in this room while the rest of the Hale family was asleep upstairs.

Joseph also began to learn how to translate the characters by the gift and power of God. We will talk more about the translation process in a minute or two.

Most of the time, Joseph kept the gold plates in a wooden box made for transporting window panes.

Joseph let his father-in-law lift the box that contained the gold plates, but he did not allow him to open the box and look inside.

The Lord had given Joseph strict instructions not to show the gold plates to anyone at this time—

not even Emma. Emma believed that the plates were from God,

but Isaac was uncomfortable with the whole situation. If he couldn’t see the plates, he did not want them in his home.

So Joseph had to find a hiding place for the golden plates

in the woods to the north of this home.

It would be difficult, if not impossible,

for Joseph to finish the translation while he and Emma lived with her parents, but they were soon able to move into a home of their own.

Isaac offered to sell them a house and some land on the family farm just down this road.

There, Joseph would be able to do the work that the Lord called him to do.

Our friends, Elder and Sister Bowen, are now going to take you inside the home of Joseph and Emma Smith.

We'll be back in a few minutes to tell more of the story.

Hello, welcome to the home of Joseph and Emma Smith. Like the Hale home,

this structure stands on the exact location of the original.

It has been reconstructed and furnished according to careful research.

Joseph and Emma moved into their home in early 1828.

This home was not as richly furnished as the Hale’s home, but it was their own. They had a place to cook and clean, a pantry, a comfortable place to sleep, a cellar, a garden outside, and a small piece of land for Joseph to farm.

Joseph later added a workroom and a summer kitchen.

Soon after they moved into their home, they started with the translation of the Book of Mormon, with Emma working as Joseph’s scribe.

Joseph left the gold plates covered up and wrapped in a tablecloth.

He translated the words on the plates without having to look at the plates themselves.

Joseph never explained the translation process.

He said only that he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. Some of his friends explain the process as best as possible. They said Joseph used instruments the Lord had prepared to help him.

One of those instruments was a pair of stones called the interpreters or the Urim and Thummim. Another instrument was a single stone called the seer stone, which Sister Barney mentioned earlier. When Joseph used these instruments with faith,

the Lord enabled him to see the words in the book translated into English.

When Joseph used the seer stone to translate, the English words were illuminated, so he put the stone into a hat like this one and looked down into the hat to block out light from the outside.

If you've ever read illuminated words on a screen, you can probably understand why Joseph needed to block out light when he read the words of the Book of Mormon.

Since Joseph used the Urim and Thummim and the seer stone, he didn’t have to look at the plates to translate them. He could keep them covered.

He read the English words to his scribe, who wrote them down.

This is one of the many ways the Lord worked by small and simple things to bring great things to pass as He restored His gospel to the Earth.

Emma served as Joseph's primary scribe for more than a month.

Then Martin Harris served as primary scribe from April to mid-June as Emma prepared to give birth to the couple's first child.

Martin was a faithful friend to Joseph and Emma.

He believed that the Book of Mormon contained the words of God.

His wife, Lucy, did not approve of his participation in this work, but Martin was convinced that Lucy would change her mind if she could read the words of the book. So he wanted to take the manuscript to his home in Palmyra, New York, for a time.

He requested that Joseph ask the Lord for permission to do so.

Joseph prayed and asked God for guidance. God’s answer was clear. Martin must not take the manuscript. Martin continued to beg for permission.

Joseph asked again and received the same answer. Again Martin pressed Joseph. Joseph asked God a third time.

This time, the Lord allowed Martin to take the manuscript on condition that he would promise to show it only to certain family members.

Martin left with the manuscript on June 14, 1828.

The next day, Emma went into labor.

Women in the neighborhood rushed to help Joseph and Emma welcome their first child into their home.

But soon after their newborn son took his first breath, he took his last. He was frail and unhealthy, and he died less than an hour after he was born.

Joseph and Emma placed his little body in a grave a short walk away.

Of course, they were heartbroken, and Emma’s health was threatened. For a time, Joseph wondered if she would survive.

He attended to her needs, rarely leaving her side. In two weeks,

Emma’s health improved slightly, and she began to worry about the manuscript Martin had taken.

She convinced Joseph to visit his parents in New York and find Martin Harris. She would stay behind and her mother would care for her.

We don't have time to share all the details of this story.

We will just tell you that Martin lost the manuscript.

Those pages fell into the hands of people who wanted to destroy the work.

Joseph felt the agony of realizing he had disobeyed the Lord’s will. For a time, the Lord took away Joseph’s gift of translation.

During that time, here in Harmony, the Lord chastened Joseph, but revealed truths that gave him strength to continue.

Joseph felt the Lord's mercy and forgiveness

and of His infinite power to accomplish His work.

During the fall of 1828, the Lord allowed Joseph to continue with the translation.

Emma; Rubin, her brother; and Joseph’s brother, Samuel served as scribes, finding time to help between household chores. The work was sporadic and slow. That changed when Oliver Cowdery arrived in April 1829. He had met Joseph's family in New York and had felt inspired to come here and help with the translation.

Joseph and Emma immediately welcomed Oliver. With Oliver as a full-time scribe, the translation progressed rapidly.

He and Joseph spent hours here with Emma going about her daily task in the same room.

Here in this space, Joseph, Emma, Oliver, and others were the first people in more than 1,400 years to read and hear

the words of the Book of Mormon prophets.

About 70 percent of the book was translated here.

I like to imagine the feeling in this room when they first heard these words: “Salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

For behold, he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy.” Or these:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right,

believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”

As you can see, this is a place where Joseph and Emma experienced happiness and pain; a place where they endured trials and increased in faith.

It was a place where they worked together as disciples of Jesus Christ.

In fact, while they lived here, Joseph received a revelation

especially for Emma. It is now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 25.

In that revelation, the Lord told her that she was His daughter and an elect lady. He said that he had called her to participate in His work at home and in the Church.

Before we conclude our time together,

we'd like to tell you of an experience Joseph and Oliver had in this home.

This experience had an eternal impact on them, Emma,

and eventually people throughout the world.

Joseph had finished translating the Book of Mormon account of the resurrected Savior ministering to His people in the ancient Americas.

They had learned the Savior taught of the importance of baptism performed by proper authority.

As Joseph and Oliver pondered what they had learned, they desired to be baptized.

And so on May 15, 1829,

they decided to pray for guidance. Outside this home, Sister Barney and Sister Bangerter will share the experience Joseph and Oliver had in answer to that prayer.

When Joseph and Oliver decided to pray for direction, they knew they needed to find a place where they could be alone at a distance from other people,

from farmers in the fields and boatmen on the river.

So they came to this area, the same forest where young Emma had prayed and where Joseph had hid the plates.

While they prayed, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light.

He introduced himself as John the Baptist,

the man who had baptized Jesus Christ. John the Baptist,

now a resurrected being, called Joseph and Oliver his fellow servants.

He laid his hands on their head and conferred upon them the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministry of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.

The Aaronic priesthood with the authority to baptize was now restored to the earth.

We love walking through the woods where John the Baptist restored the Aaronic priesthood, and we would like to share this experience with you.

Let’s take a walk together. As we do so, we will be silent, and we ask you to do the same as you experience this place and remember the things that happened here.

With the Aaronic priesthood now restored, Joseph and Oliver could receive the blessings they had sought earlier that day—they could be baptized.

Not only that, they could baptize each other.

John directed that Joseph should baptize Oliver, and then Oliver should baptize Joseph.

So the two friends went to the Susquehanna River, just a short distance away from Joseph and Emma's home.

They probably went later in the day after the boatmen on the river were done with their work. Let's take another short walk together. This time we'll take you to the river.

Joseph and Oliver waded into the water.

Joseph baptized Oliver, and Oliver baptized Joseph. After they baptized each other, they ordained each other to the Aaronic priesthood, again following John the Baptist’s instructions,

and they immediately experienced great and glorious blessings from their Heavenly Father.

Joseph prophesied concerning the rise of the Church, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and rejoiced in the God of their salvation.

John the Baptist had explained that the Aaronic priesthood did not include the authority to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost.

That authority would be conferred on Joseph and Oliver by the Apostles, Peter, James, and John. This occurred later in the wilderness some distance away from here.

With the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods now restored,

Joseph and Oliver could share the blessings they had received.

They could baptize others and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost. They could ordain other men to the priesthood.

Men, women, and children could draw nearer to God through priesthood ordinances and blessings, and through God’s eternal covenant.

These blessings continue throughout the world and lives of individuals and families in the Church, as Joseph had prophesied.

I love this place because it reminds me of my baptism and the covenants I made to help me draw closer to Jesus Christ.

Thank you for joining us today in these holy places. They truly testify of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel.

Priesthood Restoration Site

Missionaries guide a tour of places where Joseph and Emma Smith and Oliver Cowdery participated in the translation of the Book of Mormon and where the Lord began to restore priesthood power, authority, and ordinances to the earth.

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