I served my mission in New England, my first area was Sharon Vermont. This is how serving my mission in Sharon Vermont shaped my testimony of Joseph Smith

How Serving My Mission In Sharon Vermont Shaped my testimony of Joseph Smith

How Serving My Mission In Sharon Vermont
Shaped my testimony of Joseph Smith

“Elder Goff will receive Elder Walker as his trainer and will serve in South Royalton (Sharon) Vermont” I could not believe my ears. But it was true, I was going to be serving in Sharon Vermont, the birthplace of Joseph Smith!

The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, with sun glare.
The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, with sun glare.

Like all new missionaries, I had quickly realized that my “rock solid” testimony was not quite what I thought it was. I was asked by my Zone Leader on the second week of my mission when I first prayed about and gained a testimony of Joseph Smith being the Prophet of the Restoration. I was scared to death, I had prayed about the Book of Mormon when I was 12, I did not get my answer till I was 15. I had been going off that answer… I had never prayed about Joseph Smith specifically and doing so now, and the thought of not getting my answer scared me. If I had a “pending” answer how could do missionary work?

But I thought to myself, how could I share the Gospel without this answer, so that night I knelt in prayer. I pleaded with my Father, that I needed to know that not just the Book of Mormon was true, but that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I needed to know this, and I needed to know it fast.

That next week we had Zone Conference at the South Royalton chapel, located right next to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial. The topic was the relationship between the Father and the Son. To start off the Zone Conference Elder Connor Craig sang hymn #26. “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.” It hit me, the Spirit was so strong as He testified that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. My prayer had been answered, but as a missionary that is not the end of my journey, once I knew, my job was to share it.

The South Royalton Ward Building
The South Royalton VT Ward building.


Serving in Sharon Vermont was interesting, almost everyone we talked to had heard of Joseph Smith, but most people knew very little about him. In the case of one lady we were teaching she said. “If Joseph Smith were a true Vermonter why didn’t he come back here to die!?!” We knew we had a lot of work to dispel the myths and teach the truth.

We lived in Sharon Vermont, we had church history all around us! There were buildings and signs everywhere declaring the history of the area, from the signs that read “Birthplace of Hyrum Smith” to the members explaining “That store is where Joseph Smith Sr proposed to his wife Lucy Mack” or “Here is the where the marriage was recorded” And last but not least the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial.

The Marriage of Joseph Smith Sr to Lucy Mack
The marriage record of Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack.


At the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial, we had a special home field advantage, it was dedicated as the second holiest birthplace on earth (obviously behind Bethlehem), a place where people could feel the Spirit testify of the life and mission of Joseph Smith. So our goal was to get as many less actives, and investigators to visit the memorial, and to take a tour of the grounds. We did this often, sometimes going to the memorial 5-6 times a week. And we saw successes, from the 1 baptism in the prior 18 months, to the next 18 months holding 7 of our investigators enter the waters of baptism! Including Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Congregationalist’s, and even a member of a break off LDS group.

One  Catholic lady we were teaching refused and protested the topic. “I will never believe in Joseph Smith” After taking her to the memorial, we held our lesson on benches next to the visitor center. Later that week she committed to baptism! She has received her endowments, and even drove one of her friends to the MTC!

Reunited! From left to right. Russel Walker (My Trainer), Chelsea Walker, Sister Scott, Margaret (Our convert) and myself.
Reunited! At the Jordan River Temple (From left to right)
Russel Walker (My Trainer), Chelsea Walker, Sister Scott, Margaret (our convert) and myself.


Read the rest at MyLifeByGogoGoff.com

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