A few Sundays ago, I sat at the back of the chapel, twisting in my seat, wondering if I should bear my testimony. For several months I’d felt a stirring to testify of Joseph Smith. But every month, as testimony meeting rolled around, I had an excuse. I wasn’t feeling well, my voice sounded raspy, surely what others had to say was more important.
Unable, however, to deny the prompting any longer, I stood and walked to the front of the chapel. I expressed my love for our wonderful ward then I testified of Joseph. Just Joseph.
I served a full-time mission in Illinois and Iowa, with special assignment to the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center. Every time I stood next to the bust of Joseph and told the story of the First Vision, my heart would kindle with knowing. I would repeat his words from memory, and something would pass between me and the hearer. God’s spirit would sweep over us, our eyes would meet, and I could not look away.
I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Joseph’s words could quiet the room. Many nights, after the Visitors’ Center closed, our group of six sisters would ride bikes back to our little house on Main, change our clothes, and take to the pavement. We would walk the streets of Nauvoo. Past the prairie grass thick with fireflies, down Kimball, then all the way to the end of Parley, to feel the cool breath of the river. Eventually we would make our way up Water Street and back to Main, where we would pause at the Mansion House, lean against the white picket fence, and talk of Joseph.
We were encouraged, not just allowed, to read anything in the Lands and Records Office. So we would spend lunch breaks there, asking for journals or personal histories of individuals we found interesting. Real people we wanted to know about. Then we would share what we learned on our walks. Every personal history spoke of Joseph, how he served, what he taught, how he loved. And night after night, our testimonies of Joseph expanded. So much that I began to feel a kinship with him, a closeness almost like family. I knew things I hadn’t known before about his life, his character, the challenges he faced.
I knew how Emma felt about plural marriage, how difficult it was for her. I knew about each baby they lost, how John Murdock asked if they would adopt his twins, only to lose one of them from exposure the night Joseph was dragged from his house and tarred and feathered. I learned the stories behind a number of Joseph’s trusted companions who turned against him, so viciously they would plot to take his life.
One evening, while walking down Parley Street, I thought to myself, I can never turn my back on Joseph. Never. Not after what I know.
Read the full article at Segullah.org.