Elder Nephi Pratt

I do not know how to give proper expression to my appreciation of the spirit of this conference. The Spirit of the Lord has been poured out upon our brethren who have spoken, and upon the congregations that have gathered together in this conference, in a very remarkable manner. I feel to thank the Lord for the timely instructions that have been given this people, from time to time, by the Apostles, Prophets, and Elders of the Church that God has established in these last days. To come to this conference from that portion of the United States where I am on a mission, is indescribably sweet to my spirit, and praise and thanksgiving goes up from my heart to our heavenly Father for these great blessings. While you at home are busy in the various towns and cities where you live, the Elders who are on missions are going from town to town, and mingling with the throngs of men that congregate in the places of change and exchange, attempting to find the "one of a city and two of a family" who are to receive the Gospel, according to the words of Jesus. Many of your sons sometimes feel as lonely as though they were in a forest, when they are upon the streets of some of the great cities, surrounded by crowds of unsympathizing strangers. But the Lord sustains them, and we are increasing, by the blessing of God, the friends that used to be like "hunting for a needle in a haystack," they were so scarce. Wherever your sons, the Elders, go and put up at a house, we hear remarks of this kind, "If I had known they were Mormon Elders when they first came to my house, they could have got no shelter under my roof; but I have discovered that they are gentlemen, not only polished outside, but the honesty and innocence shown forth in all their actions has attached us to them, and never within my habitation have I had more welcome guests than the Mormon Elders." We are establishing a good reputation also with landlords, people who take us in for money, and give us a room and shelter. The prejudice against the Latter-day Saints is giving way in the Northwest to a great extent. The Oregonian, the greatest paper published in Oregon, printed in Portland, has to say of us that we are worthy of all commendation for the part that the Latter-day Saint men take in their religion. That paper calls attention to the fact that men, instead of women, teach in Mormon Sunday schools, and they teach a consistent theology; whereas, in the Sunday schools in the churches of the various sects in the Northwest, the teachers and superintendents of Sunday schools generally are women. I notice that other papers also are alluding to the active participancy of men in the affairs of religion among the Latter-day Saints, and state that it is because of the men putting forth their strength in this Church that the Sunday schools are a success. We are selling sacred literature up in our country to the Gentiles. I wish that you could come to us and feel the good spirit that accompanies the Elders in their work.

The spirit of the nation has been described today as one of great indifference; but once in a while we have things happen like I am now going to relate to you. A woman said to a Latter-day Saint brother residing where my headquarters are: "Mr. So-and-So, you have been more affectionate in your manners toward my little four-year-old daughter, and have spoken more kindly to her than her father has done in all the years since she was born. Tell me where you have been raised?" He answered, "I was born and raised in Salt Lake City." "Well," said she, "what are you?" "Why, I am a Mormon," he replied; "my mother and father are prominent in the Mormon Church; my mother (I think he said) is the fifth wife of my father." She shrank from him, and said something like this: "Don’t tell me that. I would rather have thought of you as being a Chinaman, and belonging to a Chinese club, than to have thought of you as a Mormon, and belonging to that people." And this is about what he said: "Madam, you have the appearance of a lady, but I have been raised, apparently, better than you; I have been taught to respect the religion of any of my fellow creatures, and could not sneer at you as you have at me, for religious convictions." It took the woman so aback that she said: "I regret that I spoke as I did, and to show you that I regret it, since I have never read anything in favor of your people but everything against them, bring me some of your books that I may read your side of the question, land I will read to show you that I am sorry I stepped over the bounds of decency in my language to you." Honorable and fair; but she had to be rebuked before she knew how to behave. Then she received some literature of ours. In the meantime this brother had gone off 180 miles to a mill, and this woman wrote in a letter to him: "Your literature has taken away from me the desire to go to pink teas and to associate with frivolous women. If there be a God, a true and living God, he must be the God that Joseph Smith has worshiped.. Send me, if you please, the Book of Mormon, or tell me where I can find it." When she received directions how to get the Book of Mormon, she sent over to my headquarters and purchased one. Then she wrote another letter to this man, in which she said: "I am all lit up with this book, and I believe that no wicked man ever wrote it to deceive. I wish I knew what to do." Women came to her, she said, and inquired, "What are you so abstracted about? Why don’t you come with us, and associate, and call, and return our calls, as you used to?" A friend came to her and said: "What is it that is occupying your mind?" The woman replied, "It is Mormonism." She was not afraid, when she found that "Mormonism" was good, to tell her fashionable friends. Then this second lady said, "I am very much astonished and very much disappointed in you, to think you could be taken away from everything you have loved before, for we haven’t seen you lately, and you seem to be changed to us." "Listen," said this first woman (as I shall term her by way of description for our convenience), and she read out of the Book of Mormon the account of Christ’s appearance unto the Nephites. And they cried with joy together, and said, "Did you ever read anything so beautiful, and so accompanied with power!" Then said the first lady, "I want to go to a Mormon meeting, but it is raining so all the time and is so disagreeable; but I intend to go to the meeting, and so, let us pray to Joseph Smith’s God; we will put Him to the test, and I know that He will answer us. Come with me into my bedroom." And they went together, and knelt down and prayed, saying: "O Lord, if Mormonism is true, and it is Thy work, give us a sign. Let it be that the weather shall clear off, that tomorrow we may go to the Latter-day Saints’ meeting; and let it come to pass that the nurse girl that comes to stay with my little one may have liberty to come here and take care of my girl, that I may seek the things that are pressing upon my mind; and also this: may my husband come to me and say, ‘I am going away tomorrow,’ so that I may be free to go to the Latter-day Saints’ meeting." And it cleared off in the night, and in the morning the nurse girl came and said, "Mrs. So-and-So, I have come to tell you that my mother says I am at liberty to stay all day with your little girl, if you want me." And the man of the house came and said: "My dear. I am going away today, down to Hood river, and I shall not be home till tomorrow." Then these women began saying to themselves: "Did you ever see anything like it? What God is it that answered us? Have we ever from our girlhood days seen a manifestation, such an absolute answer to prayer before?" When they were going to the meeting they talked together, and said something like this: "Wouldn’t you like to have described to you the God who answered our prayers last night? Oh, that we might find out something about him." And they went to the meeting, and young Elder Gardiner was called on to speak, and he talked upon the subject of the personality of God, and as he talked the power of God came upon him, and his tongue was loosed, and the hearts of these women were softened, and they said to each other, "He is answering the very questions that we wanted to know about." When the meeting was over, they got two of the sisters to stay with them, and they invited two of the Elders to speak to them, and they spent five hours in conversation together. A few days subsequently they came over to headquarters to see the president. They told me all these circumstances, bearing testimony that they knew "Mormonism" was true, and they wanted to know what they must do to be saved; and I said, "Repent, both of you, of every offense against God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, by one having authority, and have the hands of the servants of God laid upon your heads, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." I enquired if they were married. The second lady said, "I am not;" but the first lady said, "Yes." "Well," said I, "we have got to talk to your husband, for it is said that we are breaking up families, and we don’t propose to violate the rights of families; we never baptize a child or a woman without the consent of the parents of the child or the husband of the woman." She then commenced to cry as if her heart would break, and we tried to comfort her. I told her that I would speak to her husband, but she forbade me. The second lady said. "When can I be baptized?" I said at the regular baptizing day, next Sunday morning at 9 o’clock. And when baptism day came, we led her down into the water with six or seven others, and she was baptized. This was the lady who was so astonished at the other lady, because she was taken up with Mormonism. The woman that can not come into the Church because of her husband is thankful to us, and is doing all she can to keep faithful and keep the spirit that has possessed her mind. This is a sample of the work of the Elders and the influence of the Book of Mormon, but, of course, such cases are rare.

God bless you, my brethren and sisters. May the Lord pour out upon Zion His blessings. May we missionaries be strengthened in our important labors among the nations. I ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.

[Conference Report, Oct. 1907]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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