I am located near the Ontario/New York border, and am 2 hours away from Palmyra and 4 hours away from Kirtland. Since we are so close, I’ve been to both places many times. I love visiting them. The Church does an incredible job in restoring the sites, and making them quality destinations. I’ve always been a fan of Church history (the “wacky” stuff doesn’t bother me at all), and there is something special about visiting these early Church locations. The early saints had such faith in Brother Joseph. They walked with him and talked with him. He must have been quite the charismatic leader.
Today (March 27) marks the anniversary of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. The Kirtland Temple itself is a great example of what they would do for their leader. An announcement of a temple today is almost boring. It seems like every General Conference has a couple of them announced. But back then, hearing that they were going to build a temple must have been exciting and terrifying at the same time. They built it at great cost, and were only able to enjoy it for a brief period of time. One of my favourite things is going to the quarry up the street. You can see marks in the rocks where previous people were working. These are NOT marks from the early saints, but it gives you an idea of what they had to do to get the stone out. You can imagine Brother Joseph working shoulder to shoulder with the others to make the vision become a reality.
The prayer offered at the dedication of the temple is contained in D&C 109. The prayer is beautiful, but I particularly appreciate verse 22:
And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;
I do enjoy my time at the temple, and do feel more “powerful” after attending. Those words seem applicable to all temples.
You can see some pictures of one of trips to Historic Kirtland (taken several years ago) here and here, pictures of the Kirtland Temple here, pictures of the Newel K. Whitney store here, and the John Johnson farm here.