I'm happily spending my first morning in my own home in about 11 days! We returned late last night from a most wonderful vacation...and for the first time in a long time, I'm returning from a trip feeling completely renewed and refreshed, instead of happy, but exhausted!!
I can only guess that is because of how much we felt the spirit during our trip and the many wonderful experiences we had together with family (plus we didn't have to fly and no one got sick!!)
The original reason for our trip was actually to go see my nephew's mission farewell, but we decided at the last minute to add things like a trip up to the Pageant and to the Indianapolis temple open house.
Today, I'll share with you the amazing experience I had attending the Hill Cumorah Pageant for the first time with my children.
We left later than we'd hoped to that evening, so the earliest we could get up to Palmyra was about 20 minutes before showtime.
As we pulled into the area, I remembered that there would be anit-Mormon demonstrators outside of the pageant. A memory from my childhood came back to me of walking into the pageant area with my Grandfather, right past the antis. My Grandpa was not impressed at all by these guys. He was always my hero and that night, I admired him even more. I shared my memory with the children and tried my best to prepare them last-minute for what they would face as we walked into the pageant.
As we walked, dusk was settling. It was beautiful. It was a longish walk, made longer as the voices of dissenters grew louder.
As much as I wanted to block them out of my consciousness, still they were there. And they were saying ugly things about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon...random stuff...lame, dumb stuff. I knew to ignore them, but their constant talking over this make-shift loud-speaker felt like a thick mist of darkness that we had to wade through until we finally reached the pageant.
And when we did reach the pageant area, who was there to greet us but the happy, smiling faces of the children participating in the pageant. They were in full costume, sporting big smiles, giving out "hi-fives" and saying "Welcome to the pageant!" Their countenances shown so brightly! And the spirit hit me so hard, I couldn't contain my tears.
During all of that, my husband, who had walked in ahead of me, asked a cast member (who played a Wise man) where the best seats where. Since we were getting there late, he said, "try to find the best you can." Then, on second thought, he said, "Well, I've got some seats saved up front that we can't use...you are welcome to them!"
The "Wise man" escorted us through the crowd to the very front row. We were so excited and amazed, grateful, and blessed. We sat on chairs and the children watched from blankets as the beautiful story of Christ's visit to the Americas unfolded in a most spectacular way.
Looking over the crowd who had gathered to watch, I had the distinct feeling of happiness and that I was among "my people."
What a blessing. We all felt the spirit so strong. We knew that the Lord had given us a tender mercy that night, to make it to the pageant on time, to feel the spirit witness to us the truth of this gospel, to enjoy such a special upfront view. To feel His awareness of us.
What a blessing it is to know the Lord. To know His teachings, to know His true church. To know He knows us. What an awesome way to begin our vacation.
When the show was over, the kids were clearly stoked. Scarlett turned to me and asked, "Can I dream of this tonight??" I said, "Scarlett, you can dream of this every night for the rest of your life, if you want!"
As the production ended, they began playing soft music over the loud speakers...and almost immediately, the anti-Mormon protesters, began their incessant ramblings again.
This time, however, everything was different. Their words didn't bother me. Everyone just walked past smiling, so filled with happiness and the spirit. It was quite remarkable. And I'm sure the antis could not have missed it. It was exactly like the way you feel when you leave the temple...renewed, happy, stronger, peaceful.
For more information about the Pageant (and to see better pictures) click here.