The last trip with my wife a few years ago was typical of how one would spend in the city; walking through Central Park, going to the more famous though not the tallest, Empire State building, seeing Broadway shows, taking a boat ride to see the Statute of Liberty or simply wandering into the many art galleries or museums. Even though I've been to New York several times in my life, there always seem to be so much to do and never enough time. I seem to get a different perspective each time I come and this time around it turned out to be even more special!
For a start I had spent so much time in the Flushing Chinese District that I am convinced that if I woke up in any of the Chinese Districts in the city, I could really believe that I was in another city of Asia. It reflects how strong the Chinese culture seems to be as no matter how far the people are away from home or how unique the country of migration seem to appear, they seem to maintain their own culture. They truly live just the same way as if it was at home with only maybe some minor adjustments! I felt very much at home indeed with the food and the language.
What was more distinct on this particular trip was that I had an inkling to drive to upstate New York to visit the sacred site of the LDS Church in Palmyra. After so many visits to New York, it is only this trip that I had a strong desire to go there.I had provided myself a good 10 days in New York to give myself time to make this journey as it is quite a drive away from the city but time soon slipped by and I had only a weekend left. On late Friday afternoon, I borrowed two boys from a Singaporean family I was staying with and we headed out to upstate New York to visit the Sacred Grove in Palmyra where the boy prophet Joseph testified that he had seen the living God in 1820.
It was a very wet, cold and rainy day when we arrived at the visitors center of the Church. After a tour and film presentation that was more for the 2 non-member boys that were with me, we headed out to see Joseph's log cabin home where the Smith family lived. From there we proceeded to walk the path towards the trees where the Sacred Grove was located. We ended up walking with a small group of people and as we got into the thick of the forest where it was already dark, I exchanged conversations with the people who were walking with us with an interesting discovery. One caucasian lady was a returned missionary from Taiwan who spoke Mandarin. She was with her husband and they decided to take a photo of me with two other women in our group, one of whom was from India and another Chinese woman who was from Taiwan. Looking back at the time of 1820 at this remote secluded forest where Joseph received the important revelation that would lead to the restoration of the Church in the world, I wonder if he ever foresaw that there would be visitors to this grove of trees one day from Malaysia, India and Taiwan???
We all rushed to our car as it continued to pour. I spent a few minutes in the car to make a pact with the boys to love one another as brothers to help reduce the squabbling between them as young brothers often do, reminding them this date of 22nd October as the date of our pact. As a reward I would take them to Buffalo and Niagara Falls for another night before we would return back to New York City. Suddenly I realized the significance of this date! 22nd October is the anniversary of my mother's death 23 years ago! What a spiritual experience it turned out for me in that cold rainy day visiting the Sacred Grove in upstate New York.