Wright Words: Virginia stake experiences tender mercy after rare Hill Cumorah Pageant cancellation

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  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Aug. 1, 2013 2:27 p.m.

    So, the Hill Cumorah Pageant has been canceled five times in 37 years? I'm glad to know that, because I have heard members testify that it "always" proceeded, thanks to the prayers of those present. Now, if we can just get them to stop telling us the tale about frogs and boiling water . . .

  • McCooeye Phelps, NY
    Aug. 1, 2013 12:34 a.m.

    For the last 30 odd years I have lived 15 mils from the Hill and have seen the pageant 100's of times. I was there that night with hopes of seeing pageant again. I saw this group of youth along with atleast 3 other groups of youth. It made me sad to think that these youth who had worked very hard to get there would miss pageant. I was reminded that night of a similar night 6 years ago when I huddled under a blue tarp with my sister and her four children, the youngest was 2 at the time. He, Patrick, asked me if we could say a prayer to make the rain go away. So I said a long and very wordy prayer and just as I was about to say amen Patrick pipes in "And Heavely Father, please make the rain go away." Amen was said, the rain did "go away" was it just nature taking it's course or the faith of a small child, you decide, I know that I beleive. Did a bus break down or did it "break down" I know what I beleive, I also know what those young men and women believe.

    July 31, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    The following was posted and then removed. Apparently someone saw in the original a personal attack. I have edited, removing all references to previous posts of others, and apologize for any offense. None was intended.

    "There are many scientists who are religious practitioners and believers. If peer review has any validity, why are not all scientists atheistic? The actual truth is, science does not hold the corner on all truth--just some of it. To think otherwise goes against the processes of science itself.

    "Scientific FACT comes from very limited, observable conclusions based on empirical studies. If any condition exists that lies outside the strict controls of any scientific study, it affects the results. We simply cannot confuse FACT with Truth.

    "I'm grateful that God created random weather patterns that can pause a rainstorm for a picnic as well as "rain on our parade" periodically. This life is intended to give us the experience of mortality with all its vicissitudes. As to starving children, we don't have all the reasons for life's extremities. We just go forward to take care of one another. That's part of the experience as well."

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 31, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    Sorry for the error on my last post. I dictate these little gems to my iPad and it obviously doesn't know 'their' from "there".

    Two true stories:
    When my wife and I were first married she lost her engagement diamond. We were beyond devastated! We prayed hard and did everything in our power to find it. We prayed harder. We looked harder. We prayed harder still. We never found it and it was years before we could afford another like it.
    Yesterday my wife lost her expensive prescription sunglasses. We did not pray about it but we looked very hard for them. Last night I was outside, happened to glance into a small crevice and there they were! We have no idea how they got there and the chances of me glancing that particular direction (into that crevice) at that time were minuscule.

    I have often wondered about the person who found my wife's diamond and kept it. Perhaps they had been praying about their financial problems and viewed the diamond as an answer to their prayers. At any rate, I hope they paused to think about us and the cost to us of their windfall.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 31, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    I wonder if the bus company, who bore the brunt of this tender mercy, feels the same way? Without substantial misfortune to them occurring (the breaking down of their bus and needing to send a new one from far away, probably at great expense) this mini-miracle could not have happened. This seems like a perfect example of how we are so focused on ourselves (and so struggling to justify our faith) that we do not consider or acknowledge the pain and misfortune of others. Their were winners and losers in this little story. Do we believe that God picks sides?

  • Res Novae Ashburn, VA
    July 31, 2013 3:52 a.m.

    A scientist on a golf outing would want a control group and account for variables - like that other group that WAS praying! ;-)

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 7:11 p.m.


    It's a little ironic, but a couple of years after moving from Maryland, one of our daughters returned to Maryland to participate in a Pioneer Trek held by your sister's stake on a ranch in Virginia. Remnants of a hurricane moved into the area the first afternoon and the trek was completely rained out.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 30, 2013 5:59 p.m.

    “So sorry for anyone that doesn't find the pageant to be a moving experience. It all depends on the spirit you bring with you, I guess.”

    Hmmm. Interesting response.
    I know someone who found the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar” very inspiring and ended up joining the LDS Church.
    It is possible people are "inspired" by different things in life, and that we just aren't all going to react the same way to the same things. I don't think it was because I didn't "bring the (right) spirit" with me.

    I probably saw it about the same year you did. I think probably it was just way over-hyped in my case.

  • Kelliebelle66 West Jordan, UT
    July 30, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    Brahmabull, children do not starve because of God. They starve because of the decisions man makes that God has allowed them the agency to make. Unfortunately children are the victims of these decisions made by men and governments, not God. When we made the choice to come to earth we knew that there would be suffering. Just because people see God's hand in a rain storm that abated or in youth being allowed to see a pageant doesn't mean he has forgotten the suffering of his children. Sometimes a small "miracle" or event can have great effect in the lives of someone and maybe no effect on the life of another person who was present for the same thing. That's ok. But you really can't compare God helping youth see a pageant to God seemingly not helping starving children. God put us on this earth as masters of it and while we can't control the weather men's decisions can be better in trying to help our fellow human beings in their sufferings. I for one give to causes that help protect children from hunger, malaria and disease. What do you do?

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 5:42 p.m.


    Yes; understanding why that's not inconsistent requires an eternal perspective of God's love for all of His children.

  • sms614 Warwick, RI
    July 30, 2013 3:08 p.m.

    I've attended the pageant many times and every single time it's rained just before it started. The benches and blankets on them would be wet! The last time I was able to go,I looked up at the sky during the pageant (and yes, it had been raining but did stop) and saw clear sky above, stars shining, and on either side were big dark clouds. It reminded me of the parting of the Red Sea! When the pageant ended and we were walking to our cars, the clouds moved together and it poured!

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 30, 2013 3:07 p.m.


    You really think that god is stopping the rain for a pageant to continue, at the same time as he is allowing children to starve and die in other parts of the world. Kind of cruel if that is the case.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 30, 2013 2:44 p.m.

    I believe in these "tender mercies"!

    For Father's Day several years back, a group of my friends (almost all atheists) scheduled a round of golf, a gift from my wife and family.

    As the date approached, the forecast was for heavy but spotty rains. The morning of the event, I awoke to thunderstorms, but prepared to go to the outing anyway. As we approached the clubhouse, with strong desires that the rain subside (but absolutely no uttered "prayers" to any fictional deity), suddenly and without warning, the rain stopped, the sun burst through, and we were able to enjoy a wonderful round of golf, with only a few soggy puddles here and there.

    Almost as soon as the clubhouse was in our rear view mirror, the rain broke loose and came down in torrents!

    Of course, we all just attributed it to the vicissitudes of natural weather - but some people see fictitious creatures on the clouds, others see some higher "plan" in the lines on the palms of their hands, and still others consider the constellations of stars to influence their personalities.

    But that isn't science, and it isn't truth.

    July 30, 2013 1:30 p.m.

    Another comment, if I may--we had a similar experience with bad weather and buses on a trek to Martin's Cove. As a result, a few of the preliminary activities we had planned were cancelled. But the delay of the buses and the bad weather actually allowed us to reflect on the circumstances of the original handcart companies--delayed by unready handcarts, the usually perils along the trail, and then the storms came--a snowy blizzard rather than our insignificant rainstorm.

    We also had necessity of moving our girls camp one year at the last minute due to a forest fire in the camp's area--and the food supply got left behind, requiring scanty rations for the week.

    These conditions all added to the aura of the trek/camp experience--probably not at the level of an honest-to-goodness miracle, but a learning experience just as well!

  • Susan in VA Alexandria, VA
    July 30, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    This has nothing to do with the pageant, but I have lost two family members this week and I needed to be reminded of God's Tender Mercies. Thank you Jason... your words always seem to fit how I'm feeling.

    July 30, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    My daughter shared this story with me last week in her weekly letter as she is a missionary in the New York Rochester Mission. They gave the kids a tour of the historical sites the next day (morning after the pageant was cancelled) and when she learned that they would not get to see it (as they assumed), proceeded to act out scenes for them from the pageant. She is always the happy and creative sister missionary. I think it cheered the kids up until they all learned they would get to see the pageant after all.
    As a young person during the 60's of about 12 or 13 myself, we traveled back to Palmyra and saw the pageant. I remember the rains dumping on us until the first note of the pageant music. It stopped and not another drop until the final note and then it dropped on us again. I really don't believe in coincidences.
    So sorry for anyone that doesn't find the pageant to be a moving experience. It all depends on the spirit you bring with you, I guess.

    July 30, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    Unwieldy Toaster, your observations seems to hold true with the Hopi Indian tribe. They seem to be very successful with their rain dances. And how about the LDS Conference urban legend?
    The miracle may be in the rain itself. Without it, upper New York State would not be a beautiful Eastern Woodlands forest, and the entire Southwestern United States would be Death Valley expanded.
    I learned a long time ago to let the Lord decide what miracles to provide and when to provide them. Buses do break down, thunderstorms come, and life goes on. The important thing is how we react to the experiences we are given--and when all turns out well, strengthening our faith, that's a miracle in itself.

  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    A broader perspective reveals that Providence smiles down upon any and all faith traditions. The important thing is being able to recognize the patterns even if they aren't causally related.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 30, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    To Truthseeker: Back in 1996 I was in upstate New York on business. I had tickets to fly home before the scheduled first night of the pageant, but I discovered that there was a full dress rehearsal the night before. I was virtually alone in the seats that evening. I was impressed, not just with the music and the special effects, but also with the enchanting way the story was told in the script by Orson Scott Card. I recommend you go back for another viewing of the pageant.

  • janine Ames, IA
    July 30, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    My family was involved with the Nauvoo "City of Joseph" pageant for many years. I personally have witnessed this miracle many times; torrential rains stopped just before the show began, only to begin pouring after the crowds had left, black storm clouds stayed on the Iowa side of the Mississippi until the show ended, and even one night there was a clear, star-filled sky with a moon over Nauvoo, while all around storm clouds billowed and poured rain. The Lord will allow His work to be done! Prayers ARE heard and miracles DO happen.

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    We attended the pageant every year during the six years we lived in Maryland. On at least two occassions, the "urban legend" occurred, with the rain stopping just before the pageant was to begin, and starting again immediately after the pageant.

    Tender mercies to some; random events to others.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 30, 2013 8:55 a.m.


    Although it isn't urban legend, rain does typically start and stop and then start again. There is nothing magical about it, and I doubt god is the one making it happen. It just happens naturally. What about the times where the rain comes and doesn't leave in time for the show to continue.... It is just the luck of the draw.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 30, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    I was way disappointed when I saw the Pageant. Maybe it had been overhyped, I don't know. Maybe we didn't have good seats?
    All the music and narration was pre-recorded. People just up on "stage" waving their arms around etc.

    I hope I'm the exception, not the rule.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    did the right thing - lightning isn't anything to mess with for sure

  • ALH Enumclaw, WA
    July 30, 2013 8:25 a.m.

    I experienced one of those so-called "urban legend" events personally as a pageant participant in 1969. As the first notes of pageant music began, the rain stopped. As the final notes died away, the rain began again. The faith and prayers of the participants and the pre-performance prayer of a visiting General Authority were heard by a loving Father.

  • FT1/SS Virginia Beach, VA
    July 30, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    It gave people a chance to serve others in making adjustments. This weekend I will be teaching Service in Gospel Essentials. If I have the time, I'll fit the article.

  • ny's amy jo Rochester, NY
    July 30, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    I was there on that Friday evening with a friend of my daughters and his parents. We were both so excited to introduce them to the Book of Mormon with hopes they would take an interest. We sat in our seats huddled under umbrella's and almost soaked to the skin when it was decided this weather was looking too dangerous on the local radar, we left. Feeling sad we rode home together. With promises of another try next year I was dropped off home, grateful for the wisdom of parents, and the wisdom of church leaders. Next year hopefully my daughter's friend and parents will be visitors again, this time with a nice referral for the missionaries.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    July 30, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    Many years ago, when my father was a member of the Salt Lake City Letter Carriers band, they had chartered a bus to play at a Letter Carriers Union convention back east. Their route home took them through the Rochester area, but they had not paid the extra cost for staying long enough to see the pageant. Their bus had a flat tire in Palmyra, and had to wait for a replacement to be driven out, so they got to stay for the pageant.

  • Jason Wright Oakton, VA
    July 30, 2013 7:55 a.m.

    higv: Funny you mention it, I left that part out because I was tight on space. As we boarded up to come home late Saturday night, it began to rain :)

  • higv Dietrich, ID
    July 30, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    This may be urban legend but I heard stories of it raining stopping during the pagent and raining again after. Many times, don't know how true those stories are though.