Returned Missionaries’ Party in the Social Hall
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 1855

At 3 p.m. the meeting was called to order by Seth M. Blair, messenger pro tem, and opened by prayer from Milo Andrus.

These was present of the First Presidency of the Church, Jedediah M. Grant, who arrived after the dancing commenced, and managed the proceedings of the party.

Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were not in attendance in consequence of indisposition, also Edward Hunter, Presiding Bishop.

Of the Twelve Apostles, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Ezra T. Benson, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith, were present.

Besides, between fifty and sixty others, returned missionaries….

Parley P. Pratt then said:

I say amen to what has been said by President Grant, and acquiesce with the blessings he has pronounced upon your with all my heart.

I feel inclined to offer a few reflections.

I have had peculiar feelings in this assembly while meeting with many with whom I have associated during the past year on the western coast, where they were laboring in conjunction with myself; where they were concentrated with me from the distant islands of the sea, and far off continents of the earth.  Not only this, but I have been privileged to mingle and renew my acquaintance with persons from almost every nation and clime upon the globe, and have returned for the first time to this place.

I have beheld them, contemplated them, rejoiced in the light of their countenances this evening, and felt happy with them, and the beloved members of their families.  And I have reflected on the difference of an assemblage of this kind enjoying themselves as we have in the feast, and in the dance, with songs, and with music, when compared with similar doings among the children of men abroad in their promiscuous assemblies.  And I have thought that if there was a person, or an assemblage of persons on the earth, who have good reasons to come together and feast, and rejoice in the name of the Lord, and have a right so to do, it is these very persons, male and female, I have beheld together this night.  It is the sisters who have cheerfully, and without murmur, and even joyfully consented to part with their husbands, with those that are the dearest to them of all things on earth, to part with them for months, and even for long years.  While mountains, deserts and continents have intervened, and oceans have rolled between, they have passed dreary years in loneliness and as widows; while their husbands for the gospel’s sake, wandered far away in strange lands, and among strangers of another tongue, depriving themselves of the darling scenes around their own families, and from every thing on earth they held most dear; crossing deserts, climbing mountains, ranging the islands of the sea, and distant continents, among pestilence and famine, war and distress of nations.  I say, who should rejoice in the dance? who should go forth and associate together with joy and thanksgiving to the God of Israel, with music, and feasting, and joyfulness of heart, if it is not these my brethren and sisters?

And while we feel to mourn and sympathize with these who have lost their husbands and fathers while on foreign missions; while we feel to mourn for ourselves that we are left without their society, yet we feel to say it is well with them.  They have laid down their lives in a good cause, and a crown of glory awaits them.  If we mourn, it is for their absence, and not that they have lost anything.  If we mourn, it is because we have suffered the loss of their society.  But we sorrow not as those without hope.

While I feel more than I can express towards these my brethren and sisters; while I feel a heart full of gratitude and love towards our First Presidency for opening the way for this enjoyment, we can only say it is not complete because they are not all with us.

I would express one wish in behalf of myself and my brother missionaries, which is, that we may all be found as ready to part with our wives or husbands, for the gospel’s sake, as we have to come here and associate with them in the feast, and in the dance.

If we do this, and do it faithfully, and with all our hearts, we shall be counted worthy from time to time to mingle together as occasion may require, and associate with angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.

I trust the day is not far distant when we shall be privileged to assemble in heavenly places, where there is no veil between us and those who have passed into the eternal worlds, and meet among the assemblies of the sanctified.

May God bless you.  I cannot pronounce more than my brother has done; but I say, may God bless you with all the blessings he has expressed, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen….

Orson Pratt spoke—

Brethren of the missionaries that are now before me, I arise in connection with the rest of my brethren who have spoken, to congratulate you upon your return to the bosoms of your families in these peaceful valleys, after having fulfilled your missions upon which you were sent by the voice of the conference, and by the First Presidency of the church.

I see among my brethren, who sit before me, those who three years ago crossed the plains with me on their missions to England, and to the various nations of the earth.  They have gone forth, leaving their families, leaving the society of the saints, their houses, lands, flocks and herds, for the gospel’s sake, to preach it, and to bear testimony of the great events about to take place upon the earth.

What will be your reward, brethren of the missionaries?  Do you suppose that we have language to portray before you that amount of reward in store for you, if you will still continue faithful?  No, we have not.  We can merely say to you so far as the Lord has promised pertaining to this life, but when you reach into the future, mortal tongue is unable to express that which will be bestowed upon you for these labors you have performed.

So far as this earth is concerned, you have a right to claim the promise he has made to those who forsake fathers and mothers, wives and children, houses and lands, flocks and herds, and the good things of the earth for the sake of proclaiming the gospel of peace to the nations of the world.  You can claim an hundred fold, for this is the promise of our Savior to you in this life; a hundred fold of riches, of honors, etc.; I mean heavenly honors, I mean the riches that God intends to bestow upon his people, and upon you if you lay hold upon them.  Brethren of the returned missionaries, be faithful and you shall have them, in the name of the Lord I say you shall have them.

And every thing you set your hands to perform in the name of the Lord, it shall prosper.  You shall be prospered in building, in planting, and in sowing, you shall be prospered in every lawful undertaking; and the Lord will multiply a multiplicity of blessings upon you of an earthly nature; I will not attempt to express all the blessings that are sure to come upon you in eternity if you will remain faithful.

I rejoice with you, my heart is glad, I have been a missionary with you, altho’ permitted in the kind providence of God to return sooner than many of you have; yet I feel that I am a missionary still; that I am in the hands of the Lord to go whithersoever he will.  These are the feelings of my heart, to go and come wherever and whenever the Lord shall see proper by his servants to appoint me from this time henceforth, so long as I remain here upon the earth.

I believe these also are the feelings of your hearts.  I presume there is not one before me if the word should come from the President of our church this evening, for you to undertake a foreign mission to the ends of the earth, but would be on hand to go forthwith, with all your hearts, to accomplish and fulfill the will of the Lord.

Will the heavens withhold blessings form those who are this willing?  No.  Is the period at a great distance in which the veil shall be rent, and you shall have the privilege of enjoying greater and greater, and far more exquisite joys, and blessings than we have heretofore received?  No, the time is not far distant when we shall be made partakers to greater powers, glories and blessings; the Lord our God will bestow on us according to his great purposes….to be accomplished on the earth, and his arm will be made bare, more and more, and in greater, and greater power.

You have been faithful on this mission, and if you continue to be faithful you will find that God will multiply an hundred fold, not only of temporal blessings but of spiritual blessings.

I feel to sustain, and to say amen with all my heart to every blessing that has been pronounced upon you by President Grant, and the brethren that have spoken before me.

Brethren of the returned missionaries, may the Lord bless you, and your wives and children, that you may be as faithful trees by the side of rivers of water, brining froth abundance of rich and choice fruit.  And may your names be perpetuated, and handed down to the latest generations; may your sons hold the everlasting priesthood, both in time and in eternity, and be men of God, men of faith and righteousness, and be prepared to carry out the great and righteous purposes of God in the last days.  May all these blessings come upon you and yours, which I ask in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

[Deseret News, 5:325, 328]
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nov. 29, 1855, 1-3]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, July 2006]

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