Testimony of Chad Hensley
2005
After the group arrived safely in Mexico, we made our way to Tuxtepec, the city
where our hotel was located, which served as our home base.  The next day we
fasted and had a service on the mountain (Hill Cumorah) where we believe the
plates are hidden and where the final battle between the Nephites and
Lamanites took place.  At this service we had hoped to receive some direction as
to where the records were hid, but God did not do what we expected Him to do;
God had other plans for us to accomplish on this trip.  It was at this service that
the phrase, “God works in mysterious ways” became very real to us.  While the
group was returning from some individual prayer time, ten police officers
climbed the mountain and surrounded our group.  We knew that we were not
breaking any laws, so we continued singing our hymns of praise and directed the
officers to Neil Steede, the group leader and only Spanish speaker.  A few
minutes later they escorted Neil down the mountain and took him and another
group member to the police station.  Thankfully Neil was familiar with how to
interact with the Mexican police, and he acted as he felt was best for the
situation. Neil pointed out to the police that they could not arrest them because
we had broken no laws, and that if the police did arrest us they would have to
explain the situation to the federal police, who would in turn be furious that the
local police arrested Americans who were not breaking any law.  Once this
quandary was conveyed to the police they realized that Neil was right and
promptly told them that they were not under arrest, but could not leave the town
either.

The rest of the group returned to the hotel despondent because things had not
gone as we had hoped, little did we know the great works God was preparing for
us.  That evening while at the police station Neil was told about a young lady that
had been bitten by a poisonous snake.  The anti-venom had been administered
to her already, but she was not recovering.  Neil explained to them that one of
the members of the group was an EMT and another was a foot doctor.  The
police allowed them to take the girl, Catalina, to the hotel and have her
examined.  After advising Catalina and her family, two elders administered to
her.  It was a very moving scene as all fifteen members of the group and
Catalina's family surrounded her and knelt in prayer.  After the administration
the family was asked if they needed help with the medical bills, and upon being
asked this the father answered with an expression of utter desperation that
indeed they did need help and he showed unbridled joy that we might aide him
in paying the bill.  He promptly handed us the bill which amounted to more that
the family could possibly hope to pay.  This burden which saved their daughter,
destroyed their finances, but immediately when the Cumorah group realized
how much help they needed, poured forth in a wave of Zionic sharing more than
enough money to cover the bill.  I saw in Catalina a light begin to glow, and her
youthful spirit was visibly brought back to life.  They left in a spirit of joy, and
with a Christian bond formed between all.  Catalina is now recovered, and I
heard at the last meeting their family was able to add a cement floor to their tiny
cinderblock house.  This first day was packed with God’s blessings, and each
consecutive day for the next week-and-a-half was just as awesome.

If that first-day experience was the only miraculous, God-ordained experience
that happened to us on our trip I would have come home overjoyed, but when
God blesses he makes no joke about it.  Throughout the next two weeks God
made our mission known to innumerable people, and they responded with full
support, from the ten Mayors in the valley in which we stayed, to the federal and
local police, and all the people who read the newspapers in which many articles
were written about our expedition team.  Word spread throughout the area like a
wild fire about why this group of Americans was here.  In this process Neil and
other members were able to share the stories of the Book of Mormon, through
testimonies and using Spanish copies of the scriptures.  This information
brought to life the already long-told stories the villagers have passed down
through generations about the Hill containing a “national treasure”.

I spent most of my time at our “cave camp” attempting exploration on the Hill to
find the cave where we believed the plates were hidden.  Food was mainly Meals
Ready to Eat (MREs), and I slept many nights in a hammock strung between
jungle trees.  And when I say jungle, I mean thick, grown over trees and vines.  I
couldn’t walk through it without using a machete to chop down the foliage in
front of me, and at times I wasn’t able to even see more than ten feet through the
jungle in front of me.  Even though we didn’t find the plates, we were blessed by
finding large amounts of artifacts from the final battle on the mountain.  I
personally found a stone hammer head high up on a cliff.  The Cumorah group is
planning on running some test on it to find out more information about it, but it
is an excellent specimen.  Also bags and bags of broken pottery were found.  Ax
heads and obsidian blades were found which were used as weapons in the
battle.