‘‘I Cannot Administer to a Dead Man”

A Miraculous Healing at the Martin Handcart Company

the-rescue-of-willey-handcart-coIn substance the following is the story told by Elder Ephraim Hanks and verified in many instances by those who were well acquainted with most of the circumstances:

“I was down to Provo on a fishing expedition, and felt impressed to go to Salt Lake, but for what reason I knew not. On my way there, I stopped overnight with Gurney Brown at Draper. Being somewhat fatigued after the hard day’s journey, I retired to rest early, and as I lay awake in my bed, I heard a voice calling me by name and then saying: ‘The handcart people are in trouble, and you are wanted; will you go help them?’ I turned instantly in the direction from whence the voice came, and beheld an ordinary-sized man in the room. Without any hesitation I answered, ‘Yes, I will go.’ I then turned over to go to sleep, but had slept only a few minutes when the voice called a second time, repeating almost the same words as on the first occasion. My answer was the same as before. This was repeated the third time.

“When I got up the next morning, I said to Brother Brown, ‘The handcart people are in trouble, and I have promised to go out and help them.’

“After breakfast I hastened on to Salt Lake and arrived there on the Saturday preceding the Sunday on which the call was made for volunteers to go and help the last handcart company in. When some of the brethren responded by saying that they would be ready to start in a few days, I spoke out at once, saying, ‘I am ready now.’

“The next day I was wending my way eastward over the mountains with a light wagon, all by myself. About ten miles east of Green River, I met quite a number of teams that had been sent to the relief of the belated companies but had turned back on account of the deep snow. Those in charge had come to the conclusion that the emigrants as well as the twenty-seven heroes who had gone to their relief, had all perished, and they did not propose to risk their lives by going any further.

“I helped myself to such things as I was in need of, and continued on my way. Just before I reached South Pass, I was overtaken by one of the worst storms that I ever witnessed. Near the summit, I came to a wagon partly loaded with provisions in charge of Redick N. Allred. After enjoying a needed rest, I secured from him a saddled horse and pack animal, and continued on my way in snow almost to my waist.

“After traveling for a day or two, I met Joseph A. Young and one of the Garr boys on their way to Salt Lake with important messages for Brigham Young. The next evening as I was making my bed, I thought to myself how nice it would be to have a buffalo robe to lie on, and some fresh meat for supper. I kneeled down and asked the Lord to send me a buffalo. Looking around, imagine my surprise when I beheld a big, fat, buffalo bull within fifty yards of my camp. As soon as I could get my gun I brought him down with the first shot. After eating tongue and tenderloin to my heart’s content, I went to sleep while my horses were loading up on sagebrush.

“The next day I reached Ice Spring Bench, about sixty miles west of Devil’s Gate, and killed another big, fat, buffalo. I cut the meat into long, thin, strips, and lashed it onto my horses. I traveled on until towards evening when I spied in the distance a black streak in the snow. As I drew nearer, it seemed to move, and then I knew what it was.

“About sundown, I reached the ill-fated handcart camp, and the sight that met my eyes was enough to rouse the emotions of the hardest heart. The starving forms and haggard looks of those poor, dejected creatures can never be blotted from my mind. Flocking around me, one would say,  ‘Please give me some meat for my hungry children.’ Shivering urchins with tears streaming down their cheeks would cry out, \Please, mister, give me some,’ and so it went. In less than ten minutes the meat was all gone, and in a short time everybody was eating bison with a relish that did one’s eyes good to behold.
“During the evening, a woman passed by the fire where I was sitting and seemed to be in great trouble. Out of curiosity I followed her to Daniel Tyler’s tent, some distance away. She asked him if he would please come and administer to her sick husband. Brother Tyler accompanied her, and when he looked at the man he said, ‘‘I cannot administer to a dead man,’ and returned to his tent, as he was almost sick himself. I went over to the campfire where Captain Grant and Heber P. Kimball were sitting, and asked them if they would assist me for a few moments, which they consented to do. We washed the man from head to foot with warm water, and then administered to him. During the administration I commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to breathe and live. The effect was almost instantaneous, and he immediately sat up in bed and sang a song. His wife was so overjoyed that she ran through the camp crying, ‘‘My husband was dead, but the man who has brought the meat has healed him.’

“This event caused general sensation throughout the camp, and many drooping spirits took fresh courage from that very moment. After that the most of my time was spent in looking after the sick and afflicted. Some days I anointed and administered to as many as one or two hundred and in scores of instances they were healed almost instantly.
“Notwithstanding these wonderful manifestations of God’s power, many of the Saints lost their limbs either whole or in part. Many I washed with warm water and castile soap until the frozen parts would fall off, after which I would sever the shreds of flesh from the remaining portions of their limbs with my scissors. Some lost toes, some fingers, and others whole hands and feet. One woman lost both of her lower limbs to her knees.

“As the company moved on from day to day, I would leave the road with my pack animals and hunt game. On these trips I killed many buffaloes, and distributed the meat among the hungry Saints. The most remarkable thing about it was that I had traveled that road more than fifty times, and never before saw so many buffaloes in that part of the country. There was not a member of the party but what believed that the Lord had sent them to us in answer to prayer.”
On the 17th, the emigrants were filled with delight when they met William H. Kimball at the head of another relief party. It will be remembered that Elder Kimball took charge of the Willie company, at Rocky Ridge, on the morning of October 22, and remained with it until it reached the Valley on the 9th of November. After remaining in Salt Lake one day, he started back with several light wagons loaded with provisions, clothing, and medicines. . . .

The company reached South Pass on the 18th, after facing a terrible snow storm all day. There was considerable wailing among those of the emigrants who were compelled to walk, as their feet, by this time, were in dreadful condition. From there on, they met teams almost every day and soon had wagons enough to carry them all.

On November 30, the four hundred and thirteen survivors of the Martin company reached Salt Lake, and the emigrants that belonged to the Hunt and Hodgett wagon trains came straggling along until the middle of the next month. Nearly all the cattle that were taken from Devil’s Gate perished before they reached Fort Bridger.

Probably no greater act of heroism was ever recorded in the annals of history than that performed by the twenty-seven young men who, on the morning of October 7, 1856, went from the city of the Great Salt Lake to the relief of the 1,550 belated emigrants, who were caught in the early snows of a severe winter, hundreds of miles from human habitation, without food and without shelter. By their indefatigable labors these brave mountain boys were instruments in the hands of the Lord in saving 1,300 of that number. Had it not been for their heroic efforts, not enough emigrants would have been left to tell the dreadful tale.

Improvement Era 17:112-17, 201-10, 287-99.



“I Had The Impression Something Holy Was Being Desecrated”

The Remarkable Journey of Elder Gene R. Cook’s Lost Scriptures

la_paz___bolivian_street_by_pablo1b-d8vp7oElder Gene R. Cook recounts this powerful experience in his book Living by the Power of Faith

On July 29, 1977, Sister Cook and I had just finished visiting the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission and were stalled in the Cochabamba, Bolivia, airport for some five hours. I recall that we were very tired, having had few hours of sleep the night before. We were both delighted to have a few hours of rest in the airport. As I was drifting off to sleep, I had a very strong feeling that I should awaken and write down some ideas. The desire to sleep was strong, but the promptings of the Spirit were more powerful. I did write; in fact, I wrote for nearly three hours, solving some organizational problems I had struggled with for a number of years previously. I felt a great outpouring of the Spirit on that day and excitedly wrote down each inspired thought. The experience took most of the time of the delay.

We were then off to La Paz, Bolivia. We were graciously met by President and Sister Chase Allred at the airport and driven in their van to the mission office. We left our luggage and briefcase in the locked van.

Upon entering the office, the president was confronted with the difficult case of a woman whose husband was dying. While President Allred and I assisted with her needs, Sisters Cook and Allred left in a car for the mission home.

When the president and I returned to the van, I realized immediately that all of our goods were gone but assumed that Sister Cook had taken them with her to the mission home. While we were driving toward the home, I discovered that the right front wind wing had been damaged and began to fear that our goods had been stolen.

Arriving at the mission home, we found that our luggage had indeed been stolen. The loss of a substantial amount of money and all our clothing created an immediate but only temporary problem. More disheartening was the fact that my scriptures were in my briefcase along with the inspired ideas I had just received in Cochabamba. The overwhelming sensation of discouragement, anger, and inability to do anything about the situation was overpowering.

My wife and I prayed alone. We prayed with those present. We tried to enjoy our dinner but could not. Who could know of the great loss I personally felt? The scriptures had been given to me as a young man by my parents, a sacred inscription placed in one of them by my mother and in the other by my since-deceased father. I had spent literally thousands of hours marking and cross-referencing (and loving every moment of it) in the only tangible earthly possessions I had ever considered of much value. I had on many occasions instructed my wife that if there were ever a fire in the home, she should first remove the children and then, if there were time, save my scriptures and not worry about anything else.
The president and I had much to discuss as we were to be together only that evening. However, I felt a strong impression that we must do all in our power to recover the scriptures. After supper, all present knelt in prayer once again. We determined to search the immediate area near the mission office and a nearby field, hoping that the thief or thieves might have kept only the salable items and discarded the books because they were in English.

In the prayer we pleaded that the scriptures would be returned, that the persons who had taken them would be led to know of their unrighteous act and repent, and that the return of the books would be the means of bringing someone into the true church.

Eight to ten of us then loaded into the van with flashlights, and warm clothing and drove to the mission office in the central city. We scoured vacant lots across the street, and adjacent streets and alleys; we talked with guards and anyone else we could find and exhausted all possibilities. No one had seen or heard anything. Finally we returned home, dejected, able only to pray individually and wait. President Allred and I worked late into the night to finish our business, and the next day Sister Cook and I flew back to Quito, Ecuador, where we lived.

During the next few weeks, the missionaries searched the lots again. They looked in hedges and garbage cans, searched a nearby park, placed a sign on a wall near where the books were stolen, requesting their return, and kept a watchful eye to see if the books might show up in some unexpected place nearby. In sheer desperation, trying to do all in their power, the missionaries decided to place an ad in two daily newspapers, offering a reward and giving explicit information concerning the books.

In Quito, Ecuador, I went through a spiritual struggle that was a very difficult one for me. For nearly three weeks, I had not studied the scriptures at all. I had tried on numerous occasions, but every time I read a verse I recalled only a few of the many cross-references I had made over the past twenty years. I was disheartened, depressed, and had no desire whatsoever to read. I prayed many times, expressing to the Father that I had never tried to use my scriptures for any purpose other than glorifying his name and trying to teach others the truths that he had taught me. I pleaded with him to do whatever had to be done in order to have them returned. My wife and little children prayed incessantly for the same blessing. Even after two or three weeks they continued praying every day, “Heavenly Father, please bring back Daddy’s scriptures.”

After about three weeks, I felt a strong spiritual impression: “Elder Cook, how long will you go on without reading and studying?” It seemed to me to be a test or a trial and to have something to do with the “cost” of the blessing I desired. The words burned, and I determined that I must be humble and submissive enough to start all over again. With my wife’s permission to use her scriptures, I began reading in Genesis in the Old Testament, marking and cross-referencing once again.

On August 18, a friend, Brother Ebbie Davis, arrived in Ecuador from Bolivia and laid my scriptures on my desk along with a manila folder that contained the papers that I had written in Cochabamba and some recently prepared mission budgets that were also stolen. He indicated that they were the only things recovered, that he had been given those items by the mission president in La Paz as he boarded the plane, and that he did not know how the books were found, but that I would be told when I arrived there in the next few days to tour the mission.

The joy I experienced that day is indescribable! To realize that my Heavenly Father could, in some miraculous way, lift those books out of the hands of thieves in a city like La Paz and return them intact, with not one page removed, torn, or soiled, is still a miracle to me. How the faith of our family and many Bolivian missionaries was rewarded! That day I promised my Father that I would make better use of my scriptures and my time as instruments in his hands for teaching the gospel.
On Sunday, August 21, I flew to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and on to La Paz, Bolivia, arriving on August 22. Upon arrival I was given the following account:

A woman had been in one of La Paz’s hundreds of marketplaces. She saw a drunk man waving a black book around. She had a strong spiritual impression that something holy was being desecrated. She approached the man and asked him what the book was. He did not know but showed it to her. She asked if he had anything else. He pulled out another black book. She asked if there were more. He removed a folder full of papers that he said he was going to burn. She offered to purchase those things from him, to which he agreed, for the price of 50 pesos, or about $2.50 in U.S. currency.

After the purchase had been made, she felt totally taken aback by what she had done. She realized the books and papers were in English—she didn’t speak, read, or understand English—and she had no desire to have any English books. She had paid nearly 10 percent of her monthly income to buy some books in a language she could not read. She immediately began to search for the church that was named in the front of the books. After approaching a number of other churches, she finally arrived at the mission office in La Paz, directed by the hand of the Lord. She had not heard of the reward nor of the ad in the newspaper, which was to appear that very day. She did not ask for any money, not even to reclaim the 50 pesos that she had paid for the books and papers. The elders received the books and folder with rejoicing and paid her the reward anyway.

She told the missionaries that she was associated with a Pentecostal sect, but she listened very intently as they unfolded the gospel to her. She recalled reading something about Joseph Smith from a pamphlet she had picked up in the street two or three years earlier. After their first discussion with her, they reported, “She is a golden contact.” After the second discussion, she committed to baptism. Two weeks later, September 11, 1977, on a Sunday afternoon in La Paz, Bolivia, Sister Maria Cloefe Cardenas Terrazas and her son, Marco Fernando Miranda Cardenas, age twelve, were baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ by Elder Douglas Reeder.

Who could describe our deep, discouraging, depressing, disheartening, overpowering feelings of helplessness when the scriptures were lost? Who could describe our great feeling of joy and rejoicing when we saw the power of heaven revealed in this miraculous way? Our Heavenly Father does hear and answer the prayers of his sons and daughters if they exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

“I recieved a message…but not from a wire.”

Spiritual Premonitions Among the Polynesian Saints

MAORI Mother & ChildMatthew Cowley recounts: These natives [of Polynesia] live close to God. They have some kind of power. I guess it’s just because they accept miracles as a matter of course. They never doubt anything. They used to scare me. Someone would come up and say, “Brother Cowley, I’ve had a dream about you.”

I’d say, “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Oh, it was a good one.” “All right. Tell me.”

And they’d tell me something. Now I remember when President Rufus K. Hardy of the First Council of the Seventy passed away. I was walking along the street of one of the cities in New Zealand, and one of our native members came up—a lady.
She said to me, “President Hardy is dead.”

I said, “Is that so? Have you received a wire?”

She said, “No. I received a message, but I haven’t received any wire.” She repeated, “He’s dead. I know.”
Well, I always believed them when they told me those things. When I got back to headquarters, I wasn’t there long when here came a cablegram which said that President Hardy had passed away the night before. But she knew that without any cablegram. She told me about it.

I got out of my car once in a city. I got out to do some window-shopping to get a little rest from driving. I walked around, and finally I went around a corner, and there stood a native woman and her daughter. The mother said to the daughter, “What did I tell you?”

I said, “What’s going on here?”

The daughter said, “Mother said if we’d stand here for fifteen minutes you’d come around the corner.” Now she didn’t have any radio set with her, just one in her heart where she received the impression.

Matthew Cowley, Matthew Cowley Speaks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954), pp. 243-45.

“Brethren, I feel impressed…”

A Last Minute Promting Saves David O. McKay and Others from A Fiery Volcanic Death

Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 12.19.09 AMThis experience is recounted by Virginia Budd Jacobsen.

It happened in 1921, while President McKay and Elder Hugh Cannon were making a tour of the missions of the world. After a day of inspiring conference meetings in Hilo, Hawaii, a night trip to the Kilauea volcano was arranged for the visiting brethren and some of the missionaries. About nine o’clock that evening, two carloads, about ten of us, took off for the then very active volcano.

We stood on the rim of that fiery pit watching Pele in her satanic antics, our backs chilled by the cold winds sweeping down from snowcapped Mauna Loa and our faces almost blistered by the heat of the molten lava. Tiring of the cold, one of the elders discovered a volcanic balcony about four feet down inside the crater where observers could watch the display without being chilled by the wind. It seemed perfectly sound, and the “railing” on the open side of it formed a fine protection from intense heat, making it an excellent place to view the spectacular display.

After first testing its safety, Brother McKay and three of the elders climbed down into the hanging balcony. As they stood there warm and comfortable, they teased the others of us more timid ones who had hesitated to take advantage of the protection they had found. For quite some time we all watched the ever-changing sight as we alternately chilled and roasted.

After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, “Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.”

With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.

It is easy to visualize the feelings of those who witnessed this terrifying experience. Not a word was said—the whole thing was too awful, with all that word means. The only sound was the hiss and roar of Pele, the fire goddess of old Hawaii, screaming her disappointment.

None of us, who were witnesses of this experience could ever doubt the reality of “revelation in our day”! Some might say it was merely inspiration, but to us it was a direct revelation given to a worthy man.

David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955), pp. 55-56.