90965_000_003Send forth the elders of my church unto … the islands of the sea (D&C 133:8).
It was like a big fair day in the town of Preston, England, that warm day of July 22, 1837. People everywhere were rejoicing as they looked forward to the rule of Queen Victoria. She had finally been crowned and, to the joy of all her people, had ordered new elections for Parliament. Everyone hoped for honesty in their new government.
The celebration was in full force. Signs reading “Truth Will Prevail!” decorated the roads. Everywhere people lined the streets, listening to bands and waving flags.
To Jed it was a time of excitement. Never in his fourteen years had he seen people look to the future with so much hope. It truly was a time of rejoicing.
In the midst of the turmoil, three modestly dressed men stood and stared at the commotion around them. Jed could tell that they were strangers, because they didn’t seem to know what the celebration was about. Then to Jed’s amazement, the men read the banners and shouted, “Amen! Thanks to God, truth will prevail!”
Jed watched them thread their way through the crowd and disappear in the jubilant throng. As the fun of the festivities continued, he forgot the men and enjoyed the rare day of vacation.
When Sunday rolled around, the excitement was still high. In Jed’s family everyone was up early, as usual, preparing for their day. Mother had a fire going in the fireplace and was cooking breakfast. Jed’s little brothers and sisters were sitting by the fire, rubbing their sleepy eyes and waiting to be fed. Jed had already been to the town pump for water. He set the buckets on the bench by the back door.
“Thank you, Jed,” Mother said. The soft Scottish lilt could still be heard in her voice, even though they’d lived in England for over ten years. “Now you can wash for breakfast.”
Jed took a basin of water up to his room. He was thankful that it was summer. Winters were so cold that he couldn’t wash fast enough! Carefully he washed, then rejoined his family.
His mother dished up a steaming bowl of porridge, which he eagerly ate, then asked for more. Mother laughed as she dished up another bowl for him. “Well, Jed, you surely have an appetite! I hope that you can last until dinnertime. Are you going to the meeting with me today?”
Before he could answer, his father came in with the milk pails. “I’m sorry, Molly,” he said. “I need the boy today. Da’s (Father’s) cow is sick, and I’ll need Jed to hold her whilst I give her the draught (medicine).”
“But, Tom,” Mother protested. “Can’t Da help you? I would really like one of you to come with me.”
“Da’s arm hasn’t healed properly,” Father answered. “He doesn’t have the strength for the job. I’m truly sorry. We’ll both try to go with you the next time.” He put his arm around her and gave her a hug. He knew that religion was important to her. She had been looking for the true church for years. He and Jed had gone with her from church to church, looking for the truth. She was convinced that she’d soon find it.
She smiled at her men. “I’ll hold you to that promise, Tom. And I’ll expect Jed to come too.”
She took the younger children with her. After leaving them in their Sunday School classes, she slipped into the Vauxhall Chapel to listen to Reverend James Fielding. A member of his church ever since he had started preaching there, she had been drawn to him because of his belief that the true church of Christ was not on the earth at this time but would come before the Savior returned.
Mother had listened to Reverend Fielding tell of a church in America that his brother and sisters had joined. It was reported to be like the one Christ established long ago. The minister was expecting to hear more about this church, and he had asked his congregation to pray for the truth to be brought to them.
That morning as Mother sat in the front of the chapel and listened carefully to Reverend Fielding’s sermon, he spoke forcefully about a need for prophets and a latter-day church. Then he told of three preachers here from America who were personal friends of his family in America. He invited everyone to return at three o’clock and listen to them preach.
Mother sat up even straighter in her seat. This was it! She just knew that what she’d been waiting for was about to happen. As soon as the meeting was over, she slipped out of the chapel and almost ran for home, pulling the little ones behind her.
“Tom! Jed!” she called. They still weren’t home from Da’s. Leaving ten-year-old Ann in charge, Mother ran from house to house, leaving a message with her neighbors: “Preachers from a new religion in America are going to speak at the Vauxhall Chapel. Everyone come!”
Never had she been so excited! Jed could feel the excitement when he walked through the door. Mother twirled Father around, and then Jed. “My prayers have been answered!” she exclaimed joyfully. “They’re here! The men from America. You must come with me!” After she calmed down enough to explain, they quickly agreed to go with her.
Knowing that there would be a crowd, they left early for the chapel. They found seats toward the front and squeezed in next to neighbors and friends who were already waiting eagerly for the meeting to begin.
When the hour for the meeting arrived, the door near the pulpit opened, and Reverend Fielding stepped through, followed by three men. Jed immediately recognized them as the three men he’d seen in the streets during the queen’s celebration. The sounds of “Truth will prevail!” echoed in his ears as he remembered. Now he knew what truth they had been shouting about.
He heard his mother gasp as she squeezed her husband’s arm. “Those are the men!” she whispered urgently. “The ones that I told you about—the ones in my dream!”
All around them whispers and murmurs were heard. Behind them to the left, Jed heard a man say reverently, “I saw those faces as I slept. These are the men sent to teach us the truth!”
One of the men stood up and introduced himself as Elder Heber C. Kimball. Jed didn’t know that this man was called the “Herald of Grace” by the Prophet Joseph Smith, but Jed did know that he bore a powerful testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Kimball told of John the Revelator’s prophecy that the Lord’s Church would again be restored to the earth. He explained that it was the complete church as Jesus had organized it, with apostles and prophets and so forth. He told them of the need for all people to repent, to believe in Jesus Christ, and to be baptized by someone with the divine authority to do so.
The second man, Elder Orson Hyde, bore testimony that the true Church had been restored. The third man also preached. Jed sat very still. He didn’t want to miss a single word.
It was announced that the elders would be preaching again that night. Jed and his family went to that meeting, too, and to the one held Wednesday evening.
Jed was surprised when his mother angrily announced the next day, “Reverend Fielding has refused to let the elders preach anymore in his chapel! He’s been preaching for years that the true church had to be restored. Then when it happens, he’s afraid that he’ll lose his job! Well, we who believe know what to do!”
From that night on, the American elders preached at Jed’s home and in the homes of their friends. More and more people came to listen. They were like thirsty plants drinking in pure rainwater.
The time came when Jed, Mother, and Father were to be baptized. Jed grinned later as he thought back on the first baptism in England. He and his family had attended, and two of their neighbors had a footrace to see who would be first to reach the river and have the great honor of being the first person baptized in Christ’s Church in England.
When Jed himself was baptized, he felt a glowing sensation that what he was doing was right. He remembered again the day when he saw the three elders shouting for joy in the streets that truth would prevail. He felt great joy, himself, at being there when the truth had come to England.