Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Expedition Begins....


Have you ever thought about those family members who have gone on before you were born? You’ve never seen a picture of them but you are sure they exist from the stories told about them. Then you find evidences of these family members, like pictures or letters they wrote and you know for sure that they exist.  Knowing this gives you great comfort.

It’s the same with Zarahemla.  Zarahemla is the largest, ancient city of the Nephite nation written about in The Book of Mormon. We know it exists as we read about it in the Book of Mormon, but where is it?  Monday, August 3rd, was the first day of the Heartland Research Group’s expedition to find the river crossing from Alma Chapter 2 which will point us in the right direction in finding the city of Zarahemla.

The Heartland Research Group is made up of a group of very special people. John Lefgren, the organizer, one of the main thrust of the group, our quarterback you might say, educated in economic history, keeps us on task to accomplish our goals. Then there is Wayne May who is an authority on ancient North American archaeology, publisher of Ancient American Magazine who manages the 14-acre site where the ancient Nephite temple lot sits.

Jeff Green is next and he owns and is the captain of the pontoon boat “Truth” getting us out there on the Mississippi River. Kevin Price is onboard as our leading scientist in imaging, remote sensing and geographic information as well as many years in botany study. Dave Holmes came aboard as our investigative reporter, digging up as much information as he could. Don Cummings came with his sonar scanner equipment which was a big part of finding this crossing as he could take sonar pictures of the bottom of the river and find the best places where divers can check it out. Mike Baker, a retired U.S. Marine was onboard as our Field Operations Manager driving us all forward.

Then Ryan Sorenson and his wife Melanie were there as our videographers. There were other support crew as well with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm:  Betty and Mike Lafontaine, keeping us fed with great lunches and in tune with her beautiful flute music and Jennice and Wilson Curlee, caretakers of the Nauvoo Mounds. There were other great supporters who came in families cheering us on.

The Heartland Research Group met on the Zarahemla temple lot to prepare for the search on Monday morning (August 3rd).  Our boat name “Truth” was made ready and the maiden voyage started. The waters were choppy but Truth made its way up and down the Mississippi River to start the search with the scanning machine brought out by Don Cummings.

This scientific tool allows us to see and measure the topography of the river bottom. These scanning technologies are non-invasive and uses sound to record what is on the bottom of the river. Once we were done with recording these scans on Wednesday, we would know where to direct the two divers coming Thursday morning to take a look on the bottom of the river. We are searching for the crossing from Alma chapter 2. 

After the “Truth” was launched, those on the Zarahemla Temple Site in Montrose, Iowa had their first lesson in “rod dowsing”.  Rod Dowsing is a type of divine gift using two L shaped metal

rods held in your hands which can locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, or gravesites. Wayne May is the expert in this interesting phenomena and taught us all how to do it. Interestingly enough, Oliver Cowdery (one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon) had this gift as well. This revelation given to Joseph Smith for Oliver talked about the “gift of working the rod” in the Book of Commandments Chapter 7 verse 3. Using the power of God to work the rods, along with the faith of the user, many remarkable things can be discovered under the ground. We all tried it and it was amazing.

While still at the Zarahemla Temple site, children of all ages, parents and other adults gathered Spotted Bee Balm flowers. This wonderful plant was discovered by Kevin Price to have great medicinal properties. They are growing in abundance on a berm (long, narrow mound of earth) on the Zarahemla Temple site one mile from the Mississippi River. Amazingly this plant loves sandy soil and was discovered growing precisely on this 14-acre site. It is a mystery to many.  How could sand be in a place that was a mile from the Mississippi River?  Who put the sand there so it could grow?  I can’t imagine early farmers dragging wagon loads of sand.  More research will be done these next few weeks to see exactly how medicinal these special plants are and how our modern society can use the oil to keep ourselves healthy.  Stay tuned.

There is so much in the earth to discover and the blessings of the Book of Mormon written by faithful, powerful men along with their faithful women who lived so long ago, leave us their testimony of their experiences and faith.  They leave behind a great legacy of truth. The Book of Mormon just came to life for many in Montrose that day.

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