A very unique trip to New York indeed

As I prepare to leave New York City in the early hours of the morning, after spending a good 10 days here, I can conclude that this trip is unlike any other that I've done previously.

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???
As I conversed more with the group I discovered some interesting things. The returned missionary was Mariane Maxell and when she mentioned she was from Alpine Utah I mentioned the Bangerters and she shared that she actually once dated the brother of Paulo Bangerter's wife Jalayne! Then the woman from Taiwan named Shuli mentioned the name of her friend Amanda Crandell whom our daughter Fei knows in Beijing. What a small world it is in the Church I thought!

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.

With Curwen and Kent at the visitors center

The log cabin where the young boy Joseph lived with his family

Towards the forest and the Sacred Grove

Mariane Maxwell with her husband who informed me she was a returned missionary in Taiwan who taught in Mandarin.

Representatives from Malaysia, India and Taiwan at the Sacred Grove on 22nd October 2005,

The Church has more photos of the Sacred Grove as can be seen here.

Post-dated event
17 & 18 Nov 2005 

The family from Kuala Lumpur traveled to Singapore for a Joseph Smith's Bi-centennial Celebration of his birth as recorded in this future journal post.

Some of the photos taken in the unique trip to New York visiting the Sacred Grove in Palmyra found above were used to create this video taken from the future journal post mentioned above.

From the 1st Quarter 2018 to Oct 2005, from Kuala Lumpur to the location of Palmyra New York State.

My Consciousness leads me back to this post of my trip to Palmyra just because Elder Bringhurst in the center above, connected to me on Facebook messenger after being back home in a place named Charlton, New York State.

In 2018, we have Google Map to help one quickly find any location, so when I checked and found that he was in up state New York, my mind reminded me of my unique trip to a historical place of the Church where Joseph Smith received his First Vision in what is called the Sacred Grove in Palmyra.

Technology is such in 2018 where not only can one see a map of an area, with Google Earth maps, one can also see an aerial photo from the Satellite of an area one is looking at. The arrow on the top right shows the Sacred Grove where I had walked to in the rain in Oct 2005 as shared above. The left area is to pinpoint a spot where I could maneuver using Google Earth on the computer to see the ground photo below pointed out by the left arrow marker I made.

One can CLICK HERE to see the actual ground view from the Google Earth map and do some maneuvering by using the mouse to move the cursor around the photo image of the area to enjoy a virtual tour created by modern technology!

An interesting line of thought I had in adding this video here is that while I was at the Sacred Grove as shown in the above photo of my visit to Palmyra, I met two other Asian visitors in that year of 2005. Who would have thought an Elder from near the area would be coming to Malaysia, over 10 years later, to share the Gospel in Mandarin as well as English!

Am I really in New York City???

Look at where I'm staying with the surrounding lush green trees

or where I had dinner

The concert I went to

The ladies I've met

The people in the streets I've walked

The shops I passed by...

... that I walked into to meet the owners

The friends who took me shopping

The bargain shoe shop I walked into...

... that sold me all these shoes!

The office space we were considering

The bookstore I bought books from

The temple session that I was invited to attend

Was I really in New York City you think?

Most definitely with smart looking men in uniform like these two...

... and limos like this on the streets!

Eating my favorite food in a Greek restaurant!

I was in the business district of Flushing on Long Island

They say the world is in New York City and I just love this place!

Happy Birthday to Son Number 1, the cool teenager

Happy birthday Han! You're now fifteen turning sixteen, wow! Let's see what you've achieved in your life so far?

The Cartoonist
The gymnast
The Musician
Nature Lover
The Chatter
Eats like horse
So hope you are happy with the CARD you got for your birthday and just dream for the CAR you might get one day! Remember everything started with a dream.

A Father-Daughter Outing to the Desert

With a car and budget for fuel, food and some camping gear, Father and Daughter decided to spend a weekend driving 4 hours to south-east of Provo to see the desert country around Moab, Utah. The trip is indeed an experience of a life time and I was glad to capture some of its essence on video that can be viewed below. 

Isn't it an irony to find beauty out in the desert

We got our bearings at the info center of Arches National Park

We decided to take a 1.5mile(2.75km) hike up the trail to see the 'Delicate Arch'

Here it is, the most photographed Arch in the World

Of course Dad was clicking and video filming the entire magnificent experience

The reward for the long hike up to the top was sweet just like the nectarine!

On the way down, things looked bleak as it started to rain

But just like the journey of life, there is a beautiful rainbow after the storm!

With a father & daughter team work, we got camp set up with hot food to eat

After a good night's sleep, we ate breakfast and prepared to drive back to Provo

See more pics of the desert outing in the photo album

Su received lots of coaching on driving a manual car, like not to stay on the 3rd gear at 80 mph with a silent V6 engine. Luckily the spirit woke Dad up to realize what was happening!

We drove out of Canyon land and....

...out into the open dry desert country

This long video can give you a feel of what its like driving and hiking in this beautiful desert country.

Back to an oasis in Provo with Auntie Helen Ream's yummy Asian food

Enjoying the glorious food with the other Asian students who are mainly swimmers from Singapore and one female who is a tennis player from Taiwan

Post-dated event

20 Oct 2011 - Facebook message to Su Min with reference to the video clip above that was just included in this post :

Dear Su Min Chong, it took 2 days to upload online this near 1 hr video that reminds me of the memorable trip we made together to Moab in Utah in Oct 2005, our birthday month! The beautiful drive and music on the radio, the hiking adventure with precious time spent together, the spectacular landscape shaped by nature and the surprise rain in the desert that produced awesome rainbows were among the reasons I wanted to keep this unedited long video online. It's just one of those things I do in my life that keeps me happy and smiling always just by replaying the happy moments again.