‘‘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 Could Physically FEEL Their Prayers”

The Power of Combined Prayers

imagesThis story comes from Amy, on her profile at mormon.org.

About six months ago, I became critically ill and was hospitalized with pneumonia. I had never been away from my three young children for more than two days! I was frightened and worried that I may never return home again.”We’re out of milk! We have overdue library books! Who will pick the kids up from school? Moms can’t get sick!” I believe in the power of prayer. I know God hears and answers our prayers. As I was being rushed to the hospital in the ambulance, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to please take care of my family. An immediate peace came into my heart and my mind. Christ’s words put to music in a familiar hymn “How Firm a Foundation” entered my mind and calmed my “troubled heart” – “Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand…” As news of my critical condition spread to my family members, they joined with our church congregation (ward) and began fasting and praying for my recovery. I could physically FEEL their prayers, and God’s healing power strengthening me. There was power in those combined prayers in my behalf, and I am so thankful for their faith. I know the wonderful doctors who treated me were guided and inspired by those prayers of faith to know what to do, and how best to help me. The experiences which refine are not easy, but are there for us to learn and be tested. I realized my most important work is to be a wife and mother. I am so thankful that my health has returned, and that I am able to be with my family now and forever. I am never alone. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know me and love me, and are aware of my needs. Through this experience, I gained a greater appreciation for my life, for my family, and for the gospel.

The Story of Amanda Smith at Haun’s Mill

The Spirit Guides the Hand of Grieving Widow to Help Heal Her Son

HaunsMill2The Haun’s Mill Massacre is one of the saddest chapters of LDS history.  17 Mormons were brutally murdered at the hands of an angry mob in Missouri on October 30, 1838.   A mother by the name of Amanda Smith gives a gripping account of the massacre along with a miraculous healing event that happened in it’s aftermath.   The story is particularly resonant for Latter-Day Saints, because of it’s similarities to the miracle of Nephi building a ship in the Book of Mormon.  Nephi had been commanded by the Lord to build a ship, but didn’t know anything about shipbuilding, as he had never lived by the sea.  The Lord then gave him divine instructions on how to build the ship, which then sailed across the ocean to the Americas.  In Amanda’s story, the Lord instructs her on a medical procedure that helps save the life of her son, a procedure so complicated that she could not have possibly known how to save the boy herself.  And this during a time when Amanda had just lost her husband and another son to the massacre.  (The Women of Mormondom pages 122-128.)

The entire hip joint of my wounded boy had been shot away. Flesh, hip bone, joint and all had been been plowed out from the muzzle of the gun which the ruffian placed to the child’s hip through the logs of the shop and deliberately fired.  We laid little Alma on a bed in our tent and I examined the wound. It was a ghastly sight. I knew not what to do. It was night now.  There were none left from the Terrible scene, throughout that long, dark night, but about half a dozen bereaved and lamenting women, and children. Eighteen or nineteen, all grown men excepting my murdered boy and another about the same age, were dead or dying; several more of the men were wounded, hiding away, whose groans through the night too well disclosed their hiding places, while the rest of the men had fled, at the moment of the massacre, to save their lives.  The women were sobbing, in greatest anguish of spirit; the children were crying loudly with fear and grief at the loss of fathers and brothers; the dogs howled over their dead masters and the cattle were terrified with the sent of the blood of the murdered.  Yet was I there, all that long, dreadful night, with my dead and my wounded, and none but God as our physician and help.

“Oh my Heavenly Father,” I cried, “what shall I do?  Thou seest my poor wounded boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh Heavenly Father direct me what to do!”  And the I was directed as by a voice speaking to me.  The ashes of our fire was still smoldering. We had been burning the bark of the shag-bark hickory.  I was directed to take those ashes and make a lye and put a cloth saturated with it right into the wound. It hurt, but little Alma was too near dead to heed it much. Again and again I saturated the cloth and put it into the hole from which the hip-joint had been plowed, and each time mashed flesh and splinters of bone came away with the cloth; and the wound became as white as chicken’s flesh.

Having done as directed I again prayed to the Lord and was again instructed as distinctly as though a physician had been standing by speaking to me.  Near by was a slipper-elm tree. From this I was told to make a slippery-elm poultice and fill the wound with it.  My eldest boy was sent to get the slipper-elm from the roots, the poultice was made, and the wound, which took fully a quarter of a yard of linen to cover, so large was it, was properly dressed.  I removed the wounded boy to a house, some distance off the next day, and dressed the hip ; the Lord directing me as before.  I was reminded that in my husband’s trunk there was a bottle of balsam.  This I poured into the wound, greatly southing Alma’s pain.

‘Alma my child,’ I said, ‘you believe that the Lord made your hip?’

‘Yes, mother.’

‘Well, the Lord can make something there in the place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’

‘Do you think that the Lord can, mother?’ inquired the child, in his simplicity.

‘Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he has showed it all to me in a vision.’

Then I laid him comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lay like that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you another hip.’  So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered—a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket, which remains to this day a marvel to physicians. …  It is now nearly forty years ago, but Alma has never been the least crippled during his life, and he has traveled quite a long period of the time as a missionary of the gospel and [is] a living miracle of the power of God.

“I Couldn’t Believe What I Saw!”

A Child’s Fever Breaks Suddenly After a Priesthood Blessing

childThis story comes from Diana Loski of Pennsylvania, first published in the Ensign January 2011:

Many years ago when our four children were small, my husband took a job in another state while I stayed behind until our two older children finished school for the year. We had recently been assigned new home teachers, who had the chance to visit only twice before my husband was transferred.

One night after putting the children to bed, I heard our baby girl crying in her room. When I picked her up, I noticed that she was burning with fever. I considered taking her to the hospital, but a quick perusal of our new insurance policy showed that it covered only residents of Idaho—the state where my husband now worked. The rest of us were still residents of the state of Washington.

I grew alarmed when I took our daughter’s temperature—105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees C). I immediately knelt in prayer and fervently asked for help. An answer came that I would never have considered: “Call your home teachers.”

The hour was growing late, and I knew that the two men, Brothers Halverson and Bird, had undoubtedly retired for the night. But I picked up the phone and called Brother Bird anyway, quickly telling him what was wrong. Within five minutes, at 11:00 p.m., my home teachers were at the front door—in suits and ties.

By this time our baby’s cheeks and eyes were red, and her hair was plastered with sweat. She whimpered with pain, but Brothers Bird and Halverson were calm as they took her. Then, laying their hands on her head, they gave her a blessing and told her in the name of the Savior to be healed.

When I opened my eyes after the blessing, I could hardly believe what I saw. My daughter was giggling and squirming to be let down to play. Her fever was gone!

“I could feel her cool down as we administered to her,” Brother Bird said to me as we all watched my child in amazement. They soon left, after which I was up for several hours with a baby who wanted to stay awake and play. I didn’t mind a bit.

Many years have passed since that night when two ministering angels, in the form of home teachers, blessed my child. Soon afterward we moved to Idaho and lost touch with them, but I will always be grateful to two kind home teachers who came at the eleventh hour on the Lord’s errand.