Hill Cumorah Pageant 2010
I loved being in the Hill Cumorah Pageant so much I
The day before we left for Pageant, (July 20, 1969) we, Elder Attridge and myself, stayed at Elder Poll & Elder Newsome’s apartment in Cobleskill, NY and his land-lady had us watch the landing of the astronauts on the moon. It was a remarkable experience, one that I will never forget. Men had actually landed on the moon!
On July 21st, the Elders in our district (Oneonta) headed off for pageant. When I arrived I found that I was assigned to the lighting crew with Elder Bruce Steadman as my group leader. I had quite a bit of experience in electronics before my mission and the assignment fit my skills well.
I had often heard of the miracles at pageant from my first companion, Elder Steve Smith, and the conversions that took place as a result. I was not disappointed this year. On Friday of pageant, a large storm headed our way. The pageant began at around 9:00 pm as soon as it became dark. At about 8:00 PM it began to rain, relentlessly, so much so that I couldn’t possibly see how the pageant could go on. However, about 15,000 people had arrived under umbrellas and tarps and were determined to see it go on.
Elder Steadman and I were in the light shack at the bottom of the hill and had a perfect view of the whole set. The roof of our light shack was made out of tin and it made quite a deafening noise as the rain came down. Each night before pageant began we would leave our “shed” and head to the north side of the stage and have a cast prayer. We realized that we were a few minutes late so we left the “shed” as soon as we could and ran to the side of the stage where we found the entire cast kneeling in the rain with Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, an Assistant to the quorum of the Twelve. We immediately fell to our knees in the mud and listened intently to the words of his prayer in which he asked that the clouds be parted so that the pageant may go on, for, he said, there were many that would be converted by the performance and that this may be the only time in their lives where this opportunity would be given.
I was deeply touched but concerned that maybe he may have asked for a little too much, for it was beyond my wildest belief that the rains (as they were coming down heavier and more intense than before) could cease so quickly.
Elder Steadman and I ran quickly to the light shed and there took our places at the light switches ready to turn them on when the trumpeters stepped forward at the top of the hill. The trumpeters were ready to step forward. We could barely see them at the top through the rain, for it was now coming down on the top of our tin roofed shed so hard that we could barely hear the phone ring on the wall.
Elder Steadman answered the phone and found that Dr. Harold I. Hansen, director of the pageant, was curious to know why the lights hadn’t been turned on to begin the pageant. Elder Steadman told him that we were waiting for the rain to stop. Dr. Hansen then said, “If you want the rain to stop then turn on the lights!” After Elder Steadman hung up the phone we looked at each other and said “Okay, here it goes”. The lights were turned on.
Many many years and solemn events have passed since that night. I have seen the miracle of birth as each of my children came into this world. I have traveled all over this great land of ours and seen the miracles and beauty of nature in all its glory, splendor and magnificence. But I will never forget that moment . . . that moment in eternity when the Great God of the universe demonstrated his power over the elements in such a profound way that all fifteen thousand there present will never forget. The torrents of rain suddenly . . . and in an instant . . . stopped. It was so instantaneous and so sudden that the tears of humility and reverence fell freely. I was so overcome by the moment . . . We were so overcome by the intensity of the moment that we nearly missed our next cue. Not a “single” drop of moisture fell from the heavens for 90 minutes.
In the destruction scene, near the end of the pageant, lightning could be seen all around the hill, intensifying the reality of the destruction at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion. Moroni raised his hand at the end of the pageant challenging those present to seek the Lord for an answer to humble prayer regarding the Book of Mormon. The rain slowly began again as Moroni’s words were completed and the orchestra rose in a gentle crescendo signifying the end of the performance.
We were all standing in the rain in utter amazement for many moments after the end of the pageant that night. We had beheld a miracle. The reality of it was sealed on our minds forever, never to be forgotten.
The following was submitted by Elder Steve Morris, who served in the Cumorah Mission from Oct '68 to Sep '70. Submitted July 2010