A Holy Place
There is an old saying which comes to mind: “God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.” It seems to apply to the rather mysterious and unusual coincidences which have made the reunion grounds available to all who come to worship at this sacred place.
The story begins in December, 1977, when a doctor in Council Bluffs, named “Angel,” decided to sell the land he owned at public auction. One parcel of this land is now being used for our reunions. At the time the auction was planned, a class of young farmers was meeting at nearby Mondamin, Iowa. Their three-year curriculum included a unit of study on methods of land appraisal. I, the instructor, saw the auction advertised, and decided the class should visit the farm prior to the sale, and each member make an appraisal. On December 10, the class and I attended the auction, to see who had most accurately appraised the property.
Sale day was cold and wintry, with snow covering the landscape. The small crowd was invited into the house, out of the elements, for the auction. My only interest in the sale of this real estate was the educational benefits for my class. I did not consider myself a prospective buyer by any means. I had never contemplated purchase of the land being offered.
The “bottom land,” along the Little Sioux River, was sold first. Then the land which later would become the reunion grounds was sold. After the two parcels had been auctioned, it was announced that the two tracts would be offered as a unit, but the auctioneer was unable to get even a single bid on this option. As he continued to wait for a bid, my heart began to beat very rapidly! Almost without thinking, I offered to pay an additional $1.50 per acre on the entire unit. I was shocked when the successful bidders on the separate parcels, without discussion or comment, walked out of the house! I suddenly realized I had purchased the farm!
Twenty thousand dollars was required the day of the sale. I didn’t even have my checkbook! When I explained this to the auctioneer, as well as the fact that I had not made arrangements with my banker, he assured me, with a smile, that he knew where I lived and would stop by later for the check. Another problem was that I had not discussed the purchase with my wife.
It was late afternoon by the time I arrived home. I must have looked a bit bewildered and pale, because my wife, Iris, immediately asked, “What is wrong with you?!” I meekly replied, “I think we have bought a farm. I don’t know why. Perhaps there is a reason?” Arrangements were made with my banker, and we indeed owned another farm. I could not understand why I had purchased this additional piece of property, which was located so far from our other farm land.
Sometime later I learned from a previous owner that there were ancient burial sites for both Indians and Latter Day Saints on the land. Later still I learned that a young farmer, a member of our congregation, needed some additional land to farm. I said to him after church one day, “Perhaps God moved me to buy the land for you?” He rented it until he and his family moved to Missouri. The final payment was made on the farm in the spring of 1988. I continued to wonder why I had purchased this property.
During the period of 1977- 1988 many members of the RLDS Church, who could not accept the new teachings being introduced by the leadership, began to establish independent Restoration Branches. These people often traveled great distances to attend reunions. In August, 1988, we attended a reunion near Atkinson, Nebraska. One morning during that reunion I arose early, and walked to the campfire site by a tributary of the Niobrara River. I carried with me a pad of paper. I thought of how the scattered saints who had left the RLDS Church, living in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska, needed their own reunion grounds. They needed a place where they could gather for spiritual nourishment and renewal. The first words written that morning were a prayer: “Dear Lord, we need a place – a holy place.” Immediately the following words were impressed upon my mind: “You have a place – a holy place!” The pieces began to fit. The purchase of the farm in 1977 began to make sense. The Lord had moved once again in an unusual and mysterious way his wonders to perform! He had provided for his people as he always has, and always will.
A week or so later, Randy Killpack brought these words of the Prophet Joseph Smith to my attention: “. . . the saints will be gathered out from among them, and stand in holy places, ready to meet the Bridegroom when he comes” (Vol. 1, Church History, Pg. 603).
“Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together and stand in holy places and prepare for the revelation which is to come . . .” [the Second Coming of Christ] (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5)).
Since then, all who have come to this divinely appointed place have been warmly welcomed by the saints and abundantly blessed by the Lord.