Healing among the Zunis

Adapted from Preston Nibley, Missionary Experiences [1975], 265–69.


I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things (Alma 20:4).

Elder Llewellyn Harris had just arrived at a Zuni Indian village in New Mexico. It was 1878, and he was on his way to Mexico to preach the gospel. A few of the Zunis had already been baptized members of the Church, but many others wanted to be baptized as well.

A member of the tribe, Captain Lochee, invited Elder Harris to stay with his family. Three of Captain Lochee’s children were very sick with smallpox.

During the night, Elder Harris heard one of the children crying and gasping for breath. Captain Lochee told Elder Harris that his 12-year-old daughter was dying. Elder Harris’s journal tells what happened next: “The Spirit of the Lord moved upon me very strongly to administer to her, which I did. She revived and slept well the remainder of the night.”

Then Elder Harris blessed the two other sick children, and they also recovered.

The next morning, news of the healings spread throughout the village. Elder Harris was asked to visit 25 families who had members sick with smallpox. For four days, he visited 10 to 20 families a day and administered to their sick. Nearly everyone he blessed recovered.

But the disease spread so rapidly that Elder Harris wasn’t able to visit all the sick families. Early one morning, a Zuni woman took him to a house that had a large room. There he found sick people gathered from all over the village.

Elder Harris prayed that the Lord would strengthen him. He knew he would need help to administer to this many people. “I commenced, and as fast as I administered to them they were removed, but other sick ones were continually being brought in,” he wrote.

By the time Elder Harris blessed the last person, the sun had set. The man who acted as his interpreter had also stayed there all day. He asked Elder Harris if he knew how many people he had blessed. Elder Harris said he hadn’t kept count. The interpreter told Elder Harris he had counted 406 people.

Elder Harris wrote the following morning that his arms were so sore he could hardly move them. He took no credit for himself, but gave credit to the Lord for the miraculous healings.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“We can be healed through the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” 3

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  •   3.

    “He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 7.

  • Who can give blessings of health?

    Any worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder!

    Illustration by Paul Mann