EARLY in the year 1867 I was laboring as a local Teacher in my native country. I was then eighteen years' old, and had just been ordained an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints.
I felt that a great responsibility had been placed upon me, but I knew that my Father would not forsake me, so long as I was humble, and sought to do His will and not my own, and that He would give me that necessary strength for the performance of my duties.
I was blessed with good parents, who taught me to pray, have faith in God, and also to keep myself free from the evils which are so abundant in the world. I thus learned, from my early youth, to have faith in God, and this faith increased with me as I became older, notwithstanding all my weaknesses.
One day about noon in the year mentioned, I was requested by a little girl to administer to her sister who was at the point of death.
I went with the girl to her mother's home, and on entering the room found it nearly full of strangers, expressing sympathy for the sick , or rather dying child
The mother was sitting on a chair, with the child on her lap, while a half-dozen or more children were sitting in the corners of the room and under the table, all crying for fear that their little sister would die.
As I went up to the child every eye was fastened upon me, and it seemed to me that I could almost feel what was in the hearts of those present. It seemed to me they were questioning about as follows: Who are you? Can you restore a nearly dying child to life? You, a boy of only eighteen years, with no experience like older people?
Just then a thought came to me: You are one of God's servants, having been ordained an Elder, which gives you power with the Lord and a right to officiate in His name. I went to my Father for aid, as this was my first experience of the kind in the Church.
I enquired of the mother as to the cause of the child being in such a condition. She told me that the previous day she had to go to work, and the older children were instructed to look after the baby. They took the child to a place of amusement, where there were some swings. The little one was lying on the grass, while the children were looking around, when a swing close to the child was just being started by some older people. One end of the rope got around the child's neck, and it was dragged back and forward several times before the swing could be stopped. When the child was picked up it was senseless, and in this condition it was taken home by the older children and laid in the cradle. When the mother came home nothing was said to her about the accident, and she thought the child was sleeping. In the morning, however, she was greatly alarmed, and began to ask the larger girls what could be the matter with the child. They then told the mother all about the accident of the day before.
I looked at the poor child, and it appeared to be lifeless. I put my ear to its mouth, but found it was not drawing its breath. I thereupon said to the mother, "Have you not examined the child's body?"
She replied in the negative, and 1 therefore took the child, and moving the flesh apart at its neck, for it was a fat baby, we found the neck had been cut by the rope, and maggots had already got into the flesh. It was a sickening sight. I reproved the mother for not looking more carefully after the child, whereupon she became angry at me, saying that I was nothing but a boy, and had no right to speak to an older person as I had. She almost told me to leave the house.
I took my hat, saying to her that if I said anything wrong I would ask forgiveness, but knowing that I had only done my duty, I felt clear. "Furthermore," I continued, "if you send me out of the house without attending to the ordinance of administering to the child, you shall take it to the graveyard; but on the other hand, your child may be restored to life again, through the power of God, and it shall be a testimony to every stranger here present that God lives and that His power is again upon the earth."
She did not utter a word, so I left the house; but had no sooner got outside before I heard a voice say unto me, "How dare you say that the child can be restored to life again?" and I began to tremble, and fear overtook me from thinking that I had said something wrong. Thanks be to God, however, for the faith He had given me in Him, for I knew He had the power, and I felt in my heart that I should not stand ashamed nor should the words that I said in the presence of all those who did not know God as I did come to naught, but they would be fulfilled to the very letter.
I had gone but a little distance before I heard the door opened and the screams of the children. The older girl called me by name and said, "Please return to mother and my dying sister and attend to your duty. "
I went quickly back to the room of the dying child and found the mother had at least temporarily repented and wanted me to do what I thought should be done to save the child. We then washed the child's neck and took out all the maggots that had began to feed on the little body. After this was done I turned to the strangers and told them that I desired to call upon our Heavenly Father in prayer, so that He might be near unto us and grant us the life of the child. All present knelt down and quietness prevailed. I then called upon God with all the faith that I could muster. I then anointed the child's head and neck with consecrated oil, after which I laid my hands upon its head and sealed the anointing. When I got through I put my ear again to the child's mouth to learn if there was any sign of life. Just then the devil came to me to weaken my faith, so that I might be a liar, but through prayer to God I overcame him, and I was fully convinced that the child would be restored. I then bade them all good-by, told there to cheer up, for all would be well. As I put my hand on the door-knob we could all hear the child begin to breathe, and from that very moment she improved in her body. The Lord had restored her. The child's mother, however, did not forgive me in her heart for the reproof I had administered to her. It was only when she saw that there was no other way to save her dear little one did she pretend to be reconciled to me. For twelve years she had that feeling in her breast, but she suffered greatly, for her conscience told her that she had done wrong, and that she had abused one of God's servants. Though he was but a young lad, he held the Priesthood of the Son of God, and had the right to officiate in His name.
When I returned to my native country as a messenger of the Lord, I met one evening with the Saints in a public meeting, where I had the privilege of speaking to the people. The mother and child concerning whom I have been writing were present. The girl was now fourteen or fifteen years old, and quite beautiful. They both, by permission of the presiding Elder, went upon the stand, and the mother there publicly asked my forgiveness, and told the people what she had passed through because she had dishonored one of the servants of the Lord. I was much surprised, for I had nearly forgotten the incident. I forgave very easily, for I never had entertained any feeling against her. The girl was presented before the people and the whole story of how she was restored told in the meeting.
The mother has since died, after having been gathered to Zion. The girl and her father live, I believe, in Salt Lake.
This occurrence was a great testimony to me, to know that I had power with God to officiate in His holy name and to witness one of the signs that follow those who believe on Him and are baptized.
My young readers, humble yourselves before God, keep His commandments, honor His Priesthood, and live so that when you call upon God that your faith may be strong in Him, and He will give you His Holy Spirit to lead and guide you; the testimony of the Gospel will be strong within you, and when you go forth to administer in His name He will be near to sustain you, and the sick will be healed, evil spirits will depart, and you and those who believe in God will be made to rejoice in Him to whom all honor and glory belong.
H. F. F. Thorup.
Juvenile Instructor 1875 pp 285-287