Elder and Sister Watts

Elder and Sister Watts

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Sites Mission Statement

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
3 Nephi 5:13

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Welcome to the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center! We hope you enjoy our tour today.
We are Elder and Sister Watts from Boring, Oregon (we really say Portland) and we will be your tour guides.
We invite you to look around, pick up brochures you might enjoy, then we will begin the tour at the display across from the desk.
We think this site is the best place to start your tour of the Sacred Historic Sites in and around Palmyra. At the display below you will have an overview of all the other sites. We will give you a map to help you drive to the other sites.
The lobby in this site is welcoming and comfortable!
The Christus Room is one of the most beautiful parts of the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center Tour. This room is round and you will notice a large statue of Jesus Christ in the center of a curve of trees, painted to represent the Sacred Grove. As you sit quietly on upholstered benches, a recording of scriptures, spoken by Christ,will be played. This is a reverent and often touching part of the tour. (After listening to the recording we ask visitors to share their thoughts or feelings. Hearing these has been a choice experience for us.)
When you leave the Christus Room you will be taken to one of two theaters. There you will have an opportunity to view one of several videos about Joseph Smith or Testimonies of Jesus Christ. They range in length from 3 - 68 minutes.
Now that you have watched the video, please come with us into the "Resource Room" where you can wander on your own and look at displays and watch short videos on touch screens. The first display you will see is one of a statue of Joseph Smith during the First Vision.
Obtaining, protecting and translating the plates were important events leading up to the organization of the Church. Many interesting stories about those events are shown on the short videos in these displays.

One of our favorite learning experiences has been learning about the printing of the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. This display gives a brief outline of that story.
These displays show short video clips of events from the Book of Mormon. What is interesting is the figures in the displays match those in the video clips, hair color, clothing, gender, etc.

On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized, with 40 - 60 saints present in the little log home of Peter Whitmer, Sr. There were 6 members that signed the official charter: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr. Samuel Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This display give a brief account of that event.
Hearing witness of the Book of Mormon in our day and the Restoration of the Priesthood in 1829 are the messages of these two displays.
Jesus Christ is the light of the world as taught here. These film clips show His teaching in the old and new worlds.
The last interactive display in the Resource Room is the one depicting modern prophets. Here you can use the touch screen to play several short clips of talks given by President Thomas S. Monson.
Now that you are finished in the Resource Room we invite you to go to the top of the Hill Cumorah. You can either drive or hike to the top. Once you arrive at the top of the hill you will be able to see the monument erected to honor Angel Moroni and the sacred events that transpired here.

Thank you for joining us on a tour of the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center. We hope you enjoyed the time you spent here. We suggest you next visit the Smith Family Historic Farm Site which is about 2 miles north of us, just off of Hwy 21 on Temple Road. You might enjoy looking at the Palmyra Stake Center on your right and the Palmyra Temple on your left as you drive on Temple Road to the Smith farm.

Personal Notes: We have enjoyed a variety of tours at this site. Two different people came for peace in their troubled lives, not really interested in a tour, and we were able to spend some quality time visiting with them. Two days ago we had a tour of 7 young men in a rock band. They were on a music tour and were from Salt Lake City, Utah. They had been on the road for 5 weeks and had three weeks to go. They were passing through on their way to Brooklyn and stopped in. We enjoyed visiting with them - they soaked up the spirit of this site. Many of our visitors share spiritual experiences with us as we conduct the tour. We had a newly wed couple, several large families, single adults, and older couples.

On the Friday we had a bad storm and we were assigned to work at this site. All of the schools were closed for miles around. The temple closed because of the storm and flights in and out of the Rochester airport were delayed, sometimes by a couple of days. A fellow missionary dropped us off to work because our car needed the brakes fixed and was in the shop. After she left us she ran off the road into a snowdrift so deep she couldn't even get out of her car. Luckily the couple we replaced was right behind her and came to her assistance. We asked ourselves if it was wise to keep the sites open under those conditions.

We got our answer when a family from Kentucky finished their tour. We talked with them and learned their story. It was a family with a grandmother, father, mother, and four daughters ages 11, 10, 7, and 5. They drove up from Kentucky the night before, a 13 hour drive, in the storm. The grandmother was in a wheelchair and using an oxygen tank. She told us she had been on life support 5 times in the past year. She lived in Florida and was in Kentucky visiting her daughter and her daughter’s family. It was a long time dream of hers to visit the Church Historic Sites in Palmyra and she was due to return to Florida in a week, so their time to come was limited.

So, in spite of the storm they drove those 13 hours to come and grant her a death bed wish. They had to return home the next day. Imagine if the site was closed when they arrived! I was so grateful we were there, even though the weather was treacherous.

We continue to be blessed with wonderful experiences at each of these special sites. Perhaps some of you can come see us and take a real tour!

Below are two of the bronze sculptures from a special exhibit here at the Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center called The Healing Power of Jesus Christ.


  1. What a fun idea for a blog post! I'm looking forward to more virtual tours of your "spots." And . . . I can't wait to tour them in person, too.

  2. This was a wonderful "tour." So interesting, especially the time you kept the center open during treacherous weather only to have a family arrive from Kentucky with a grandmother who had one "last wish" to visit the center. Thank you for sharing so thoroughly and completely...photos and text. Very inspiring!

  3. Thank you for sharing your virtual tours with us! We just came back from an 11-day tour. We were in Fayette on July 8th and were taken through by a couple of sister missionaries. Loved the artwork by William Whitaker and am so grateful you have captured them on your virtual tour!

    I have a question about the Smith log cabin and frame home. Were both in Manchester? One of the missionaries at the frame home said that the county line fell between the log home and the frame home such that the log home was in Palmyra but the frame home was in Manchester. Perhaps I heard this incorrectly. Would you please clarify for me?

    JSH1:4 suggests the Smiths moved to Manchester in his 14th year, which would have been the log home.

    Please email me at ccbrunner@hotmail.com. I am a member of the Camarillo California Stake (my husband is the stake president here).