February 7-23, 2014

7 February
Paul spoke at the Reno Institute's Friday Forum on the topic, "From Harmony to Tonopah."  Beginning with the marriage of Joseph and Emma Smith, Paul described their years at Harmony, Pennsylvania, living in a home built by Emma's brother Jesse.  Joseph purchased the home and a barn as well as 13 1/4 acres.  It was in a grove of sugar maple trees that John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver Cowdery.  Joseph translated most of the Book of Mormon in the kitchen, in full view of Emma.  She did not, however, see the plates, as they were always covered.

The home was destroyed by fire in 1919.  Because of its historic significance, the Church plans to rebuild the home this summer.  Over 200 acres are in the possession of the Church, as well as six acres of waterfront property.  The state road will be relocated, and a visitors center built that will approximate the two story home built by Isaac Hale.

Paul then gave a brief synopsis of each of the children born to Joseph and Emma, pointing out that there are living posterity from only three of the ten--Joseph IIIrd, Alexander, and David Hyrum.  David Hyrum's line is through an adopted son.  He spoke of how the Prophet Joseph pleaded with the Lord to look over Joseph's family as he gave the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple.

Since Emma did not come West, all of her children remained behind.  Many of her posterity became involved with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ).

In 1972, a Miss Glass, teaching at Tonopah High School, Tonopah, Nevada, challenged her class to write about an ancestor who made a difference in the history of our country.  At home, junior Mike Kennedy asked his father for help.  Among three names he mentioned Joseph Smith, and said he thought that Joseph was the man who led the Mormons to Utah.  Mike asked, "Who are the Mormons?"

Mike's father brought out a box full of pictures, a Bible, and histories of the Smith family.  Mike begin setting out the material on a coffee table when there was a knock on the door.  It was two missionaries, and they were invited in by Mike's father.  When they saw the materials related to Joseph and Emma, they grew very excited.  They were invited back and taught the discussions to the family.  Mike didn't want to hear them and tried to duck out as often as he could.  But in the end he was baptized.  He had not been aware of it, but his girl friend Darcy was also taking the discussions.  She too joined the Church.  Mike was the first of Joseph and Emma's family to join the church and receive the Priesthood in this day.

Mike went to school at Cedar City (now Southern Utah State University), while Darcy was at Rick's College in Idaho.  About that time the Church decided to see if they could find any member who had ties to Joseph and Emma.  Someone knew about Mike.  He was invited to meet with President Harold B. Lee in Salt Lake City.  President Lee introduced him to Elder Bruce R. McConkie.

To make a much longer story short, Mike and Darcy were married in the Provo Temple.  Years later they organized the Joseph Smith, Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society.  They have a nice  website.  Their goal is to contact every living descendant of Joseph and Emma, and invite them to join the family organization so they can come to know and appreciate their great ancestors.  For example, they located 300 ancestors, descendants of Joseph and Emma's son Alexander, living in Australia. Today there are over 125 living descendants of Joseph and Emma who are Church members.

Sunday, the 9th of February, we joined with ward leaders of Red Hill Ward to receive lists of names from the bishop.  We were to see if the people had moved, or if they were at the addresses given.  If so, did they wish to receive visitors from the Church, or did they wish to have their names removed from Church records?  We went to the homes of the last few families on our class rolls that we had not as yet contacted with  much success.  Only one was home and neither she nor her mother seemed interested in the church.

Valentine's Day, 14 February 2014.  We joined with the three missionary couples serving in the mission office, as well as President David Nephi Hermansen and his wife at the Shanghi Chinese Restaurant.  The food was reminiscent of the food we enjoy at the Mandarin in Bountiful.  Afterward we made our way to a movie theater in Sparks.  We traveled separately.  Our group in our van stopped at a large building with a marquee that looked just like a movie theater but turned out to be a casino!  We were grateful we didn't walk through the door before discovering our mistake.

We arrived at the nearby movie theater just in time to watch the Saratov Approach, the true story of two missionaries who were kidnapped and held for ransom in Saratov, Russia, in 1998.  The kidnapper wanted $300,000 from the Church, not knowing that the Church will not pay ransom money.  After five days of not knowing if they would live or die, the missionaries were taken and released in a field outside of town.  After making their way back, the two men involved in the kidnapping were arrested.  One received probation; the other, four years in prison.

Due to the circumstances of their ordeal, the missionaries were given the option of a release to return home.  Both chose to finish out their missions.  They were transferred to missions in England, where they served honorably until their release.  The film was well done and interesting.   It showed the two Elders and how their thinking evolved about themselves and their labors, and their captors.

Friday, 15 February.  The Ward Relief Society sponsored a Valentines social, including a dance and plenty of good refreshments.  A ward dj played music we could relate to, but the dance floor was occupied by the children, all of whom were invited as well.  In spite of not dancing, we enjoyed the evening.  We now have come to know just about everyone in the ward and also in the Hispanic branch.
They do everything together except hold Sacrament meeting.

Monday, 17 February.  The highlight of the month was a multi-day visit with Zann and the children who traveled from Washington, during their Winter school break, to see us.  We were concerned about how well they would do, staying in our small apartment in contrast to the spacious Erb home, but they did quite well.
Quiet peaceful family dinner
Every morning while the family was here we continued our regular routine and had our study time.  We read the Book of Mormon and watched Missionary video clips from "The District".  These DVDs are actual live investigators being taught by real missionaries--their problems working with the people, their approach in dealing with questions and concerns that are typical of what the Elders and Sisters encounter every day.  The grandkids seemed to enjoy them.  We are so impressed with Nick's interest and understanding of the Gospel.

Tuesday was mission transfer day.  Grandson Nick accompanied Paul as he shuttled two transferring missionaries (and their companions) and their stuff to the mission office.  Then all went to a nearby chapel to listen to the testimonies of the elders and sisters who were released and preparing to return home.

Grandson Nick
Brighton and Grandpa
Mom and Zann

Carter (with missionaray name tag and Grandmother and Granddaddy

Tuesday we drove to Carson City, the state capitol.  At a nearby used mining equipment outlet, Paul found a very old shovel to use in his upcoming presentation on building the Salt Lake Temple.  Zann then took the kids through the Nevada Museum, including the mockup of a silver mine tunnel.  Because there was no sign saying she couldn't, Zann set the kids inside of a mining car to take their picture, but was startled when a loud voice told them to get out of the car.  The voice came from a fellow who sold tickets and saw them on a monitor.  He explained to Gail and Paul that they weren't concerned with them damaging anything, but mainly concerned that someone might get hurt on maybe a sharp edge and the museum would be liable.
Nick, Carter, Landon and Brighton

When Zann and the kids returned, Landon ran into a nearby elevator and began jumping up and down on the floor.  Zann ran in to grab him.  Landon drew a sharp reprimand from the fellow, who explained that sensors in the car would have soon locked the door and it would have taken people from the elevator company four hours to have gotten them out.  It had happened to a school group.  We could only imagine how Landon would have responded to THAT experience!

Brighton and Zann
Carter and Landon
Thursday Gail, Zann and the children travelled to Lake Tahoe.  On a spot not far from the Lake they found a popular snow hill for sledding.  It was full of kids and families having a great time.  In spite of Nick's first run which resulted in a traumatic crash, needing some Aleve from nurse Mom  to cover his pain, all had a good day.

Brighton and Nick

South Lake Tahoe is so beautiful with it's ski resorts and the hugh beautiful lake.  The town did reminded us a little of Park City.                                                                                                                                                                          

Thursday night, Paul subbed for an institute teacher (Teachings of the Living Prophets) and had a fine experience.   Friday Zann and the kids bid farewell to return home.  It's a two day drive for her so a bit of a worry for us but she arrived safely.

Again President Johnson of Sparks Stake invited all of the local missionaries, including the new missionaries, to his home at 7 am on Saturday morning for a breakfast.  He purposely designed his kitchen and living room to be able to accommodate over fifty elders and sisters.  The fare is always exactly the same--Sister Johnson cooks a quiche in three Crock pots, then slices up pre-bought muffins (and sometimes doughnuts) and has copious amounts of fruit, milk and orange juice on hand.  Afterward we hear an inspiring presentation by the president and a high counselor, Brother Prue in charge of missionary work.

Saturday we had another baptism in the Red Hill ward.    The father of two of our students, Francisco and Leslie,  was baptized.  The mother and two children joined the Saturday after we arrived in the mission.  The Hispanic missionaries have been working with the Dad, Francisco.  The entire service was in Spanish and  I led the songs.   After the baptism the entire branch brought typical Mexican food and we had a wonderful meal--and not what we are custom to getting in Mexican restaurants.  We really love these people!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


  1. How fun you were able to see Zann and the kids! Love the pics. We also saw Saratov Approach with the Knolls - great movie. Love you!

  2. Fun! We miss you guys! ♥️