When I served full-time in the Michigan-Lansing mission years ago, I got involved with Jack West and his theory of the lands being in South America. He seemed so convincing. From that time forward, I have heard and read so many opinions of where the Book of Mormon occurred, as some people find archaeological or DNA “evidence,” or select a scripture here and there to “prove” their point of how it applies to the Book of Mormon, and all people claimed receiving revelation. I struggled with this, much like the Prophet Joseph Smith--lo here! and lo there! Here’s a land and there’s a land. How are we to know truth?
One day, my cousin Dr. Vaughn Hansen mentioned that he knew the Book of Mormon lands were in the Great Lakes area. Something happened inside that clicked, “Yes.” I decided not to take the words of others, not even from my own cousin. I felt that the only way to know truth is to search the scriptures and see what they told me. For nearly seventeen years since that time, I have been studying the lands of the Book of Mormon.
The more I studied, the more I understood. I found a lot of contradictions with others and the scriptures. Others claim to know where the lands are located. Further in my studies I was being awakened by the Spirit at two and three in the morning. Night after night. Pictures, scriptures, and other thoughts would enter my mind. Line upon line was being feed and one thing built upon the other. I got up and recorded this information. The next day I would research the things I was told in the middle of the night and those thoughts were confirmed as truth through the scriptures the next day. It all fits. This had never happened to me previously, receiving things night after night, line upon line. It started making sense. It came together. I found patterns and connections in the scriptures to the lands in the Great Lakes area. I like to think that my approach is different, as it is based entirely on the words and phrases in the Book of Mormon and Moroni’s promise in Moroni 3:5. I did not use quotations nor theories from teachers, scholars or other current members. I have visited these areas. I have seen what the scriptures say about the lands and see great connections in the Western New York, Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvanian, and Ohio area. This information is inspired and fits perfectly with the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ, it also bears testimony of the destruction that occurred in the land of the Nephites and Lamanites at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, and according to its own statement, continues to bear testimony of those truths. As I study the Book of Mormon the stories have become one stories not a collection of many stories. It is one continue history of people that lived here in the United States.
The Lands are not that important to know where they are Located
Why did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend so much money on diagramming Jerusalem and the places Jesus Christ walked the last week of his mortal life?
Restored homes and sites-
Why would the Church spend millions of dollars to rebuild homes related to Church history in Palmyra, Fayette, Kirtland, Nauvoo, and other places?
Maps and photographs-
So many study aids—maps and pictures—exist to help us in our study of the Holy Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants. What is it missing? Maps and photographs of the Book of Mormon Lands.
Places to Visit-
Certain places significant to the Restoration of the Gospel's documented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Church acquired the land for tours and missionary work. On visits to upstate New York, it is possible to see the Hill Cumorah, the Sacred Grove, the Grandin Printing Shop, and homes used by the Smith family by Palmyra—the Joseph Smith, Sr. log house (replica), and the Alvin Smith home.
Book of Mormon Lands- Pictures and maps of these Church history sites help us to better understand the area:
The distance, the terrain, the connection to other places nearby.
Would you like to understand the destruction in America at the time of Christ's crucifixion better? Know how it happened and where it happened? The Book of Mormon account states the valleys raised, mountains lowered, some cities flooded, and other cities burned. Why is this important to understand, and how does it help us learn? Does evidence remain of the destruction prophesied in the Book of Mormon?
Why Did we Diagram the Book of Mormon Lands
The Book of Mormon Physically- Our research may allow others to experience the Book of Mormon in a slightly different manner. We offer clear evidence to those who need to feel and understand the scriptures in a physical way. The Book of Mormon provides proof of our Heavenly Father's plan of salvation, and the Savior's divinity and mission on earth. It also testifies that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He loved His children and created this world for them.
The Bible and Book of Mormon Mapped-
Looking at Paul's missionary journeys in the Bible and seeing a diagram of Jerusalem at the time of Christ's life. Visiting the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York, does not bring people a testimony of God the Father and Jesus Christ—but such things enhance our scripture study and add depth to our belief in those Beings. People say that it is not that important to know the location of the lands; the doctrine of the Book of Mormon converts us to Christ, and the Holy Ghost testifies to our minds and hearts that the book is genuine. While the doctrine converts us, the Spirit testifies. We believe that mapping the Book of Mormon lands and visiting these places can also enhance our scripture study, expand our knowledge, connect us more firmly to the reality of promises. These promises prophecies of America foretold in the Book of Mormon, deepen our appreciation for our Book of Mormon heroes, and strengthen our testimony of the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Perhaps visiting these places may also allow us to feel the Holy Spirit and reaffirm our testimony of the marvelous work and a wonder that became the Restoration of the Gospel in these latter days.
I have visited the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York multiple times, and enjoy the unique feeling of that place. I believe the Spirit can also testify to us in other areas where the Book of Mormon events occurred. I have felt the Spirit in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, as I entered the cities—even before realizing the significance of those places in Jaredite and Nephite records. Conversely, I have felt an ominous spirit around a section in New York, before knowing it was a place inhabited anciently by the Gadianton Robbers. Traipsing all over the western New York and central Pennsylvania areas, I am now fascinated by rivers, lakes, mountains, and wilderness areas because I realize I am walking in places inhabited years ago by Book of Mormon peoples. Many changes in the land occurred at the time of Christ's crucifixion, and I believe that land features also bear an additional physical testimony of that significant event.
Would it be interesting to see where the Lord created new rivers or stretched the land to separate into many islands at that time? Or view a place where the Lord drained a sea, or in another area, lowered a different sea by 125 feet in 24 hours? Or see a situation where God pushed a tremendous amount of dirt around to create a big mountain, with "stretch marks" still evident? I believe the land itself bears testimony of Jesus Christ and his visit to America.