Andrea could see the large granite pillar from the van window before she and her Primary class pulled into the parking lot. Sister Birchall had told them that the monument was 38 1/2 feet tall, one foot for every year of Joseph Smith’s life.
Andrea’s friend Becky squirmed excitedly on the seat next to her. “We’ll really get to be where Joseph Smith was born!” Becky said.
Andrea had been looking forward to this Primary activity since Sister Birchall had announced their class was visiting Sharon, Vermont, just a short drive away. Andrea had prayed that she would feel the Holy Ghost here. She wanted to have a spiritual experience like the people who bore their testimonies at church. The scriptures say that if you ask in faith, Heavenly Father will bless you. Andrea believed that was true.
A light rain was falling when the class pulled into the parking lot. A senior sister missionary was waiting for them.
“Hello!” she called. “I’m sorry that we don’t have the music playing through the trees for you right now. We usually do, but we turned it off because of the rain. Maybe you can hear it before you leave.”
Andrea liked the missionary, whose black name tag read Sister Grant. She reminded Andrea of her grandma. Sister Grant and Elder Grant told the class stories about Joseph Smith and showed them where he was born. After the tour, the missionaries let them look around the museum.
“Andrea, come see this!” Becky called. She was pointing at a painting of Lucy Mack Smith.
Elder Grant walked up behind the girls. “She was a great woman. Even before Joseph had the First Vision, she and her family were close to the Holy Ghost. They often liked to go out into the woods to think and pray.”
Andrea remembered her goal to feel the Spirit today. When people at church said they felt the Holy Ghost they usually cried. Andrea hadn’t felt like crying even a little today.
Sister Birchall walked in and told them they would be leaving in half an hour. “The rain has stopped, so you can go look at the monument now.”
Andrea looked over at Becky, who was talking to another girl from their class. This was Andrea’s chance.
She left as quickly as she could and walked toward the woods behind the monument. To the left, Andrea saw a small clearing. “Perfect,” she thought.
She walked into the middle of the weeds and knelt down, placing her coat under her knees so they would not get wet. “Maybe I’m in the same place that Lucy went to think and pray,” she thought.
Andrea closed her eyes and again prayed for the Holy Ghost to be with her. She didn’t feel anything. Andrea was confused. Why wasn’t she crying? Disappointed, she got up and walked out of the clearing. There was a small dirt road behind the monument. Andrea decided she had enough time to walk down it a little way. As she walked through the tall trees, Andrea noticed that there was a peaceful feeling in these woods—quiet and calm like a chapel. The air smelled fresh and clean from the rain, and everything was a bright, clear green. She also noticed that the sun had come out from behind the clouds and was reflecting off the wet leaves and pine needles in bright glints of light. She added a happy skip to her walk.
A little bubble of happiness was growing inside Andrea, and became so big that she thought she would burst with joy. She wanted to start singing and laughing at the same time.
She didn’t go too far into the woods before she turned around. As she walked back, she began to hear the sound of an orchestra and choir singing through the trees—probably the music Sister Grant had mentioned. It sounded like the song of angels, pure and sweet. Andrea stopped to listen to the words. “When thru the woods and forest glades I wander,” the choir sang. “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, How great thou art!”* The words described exactly how Andrea felt—like her soul was singing. She felt happy! Except for one thing. She still hadn’t felt the Spirit.
Becky spied Andrea as soon as Andrea got back to the monument. “Come see the sunspot!” she said excitedly. Andrea didn’t know what Becky was talking about, but she let Becky pull her up the hill.
From the top of the granite pillar shone a dazzling light. Andrea put her hands up to shield her eyes.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Becky said. “Sister Grant says that it’s the sun shining off the top of the polished rock.”
“It’s beautiful,” Andrea said. She stood in awe for several minutes. She felt a little sad. “This would have been the perfect trip if only I had felt the Holy Ghost,” she thought.
Suddenly, like the light reflecting off the pillar, a thought shone into her soul. She had felt the Spirit! The Holy Ghost didn’t just make people cry. It also made them feel peaceful and happy, like she had felt in the forest! Andrea again felt the same bubble of joy growing inside. She then understood that Heavenly Father had answered her prayers.
As they drove away, Andrea kept her eyes on the granite monument until it disappeared behind the tops of the trees. She knew that the Lord had blessed her and given her the witness she desired.
“[We] will feel joy and peace as the Spirit confirms truth, if [we] ask for that blessing in faith.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “An Enduring Testimony of the Mission of the Prophet Joseph,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 90.