Adapted from Leaves from My Journal, by Wilford Woodruff; artwork by Douglas Johnson.
to be continued …
Text from Leaves from My Journal
… He laughed and said that I did not look much like a preacher. I did not blame him, as all the preachers he had ever been acquainted with rode on fine horses or in fine carriages, clothed in broadcloth, and had large salaries, and would see this whole world sink to perdition before they would wade through one hundred and seventy miles of mud to save the people.
The landlord wanted a little fun, so he said he would keep me if I would preach. He wanted to see if I could preach. I must confess that by this time I became a little mischievous, and pleaded with him not to set me to preaching. the more I pled to be excused, the more determined Mr. Jackson was that I should preach. he took my valise, and the landlady got me a good supper.
I sat down in a large hall to eat supper. Before I got through, the room began to be filled with some of the rich and fashionable of Memphis, dressed in their broadcloth and silk, while my appearance was such as you can imagine, after traveling through the mud as I had been.
When I had finished eating, the table was carried out of the room over the heads of the people. I was placed in the corner of the room, with a stand having a Bible, hymn book and candle on it, hemmed in by a dozen men, with the landlord in the center. There were present some five hundred persons who had come together, not to hear a good sermon, but to have some fun.
Now, boys, how would you like this position? On your first mission, without a companion or friend, and to be called upon to preach to such a congregation? With me it was one of the most pleasing hours of my life, although I felt as though I should like company.
I read a hymn, and asked them to sing. Not a soul would sing a word. I told them I had not the gift of singing; but with the help of the Lord I would pray and preach. I knelt down to pray and the men around me dropped on their knees. I prayed to the Lord to give me His spirit and to show me the hearts of the people. I promised the Lord in my prayer I would deliver to that congregation whatever He would give me. I arose and spoke one hour and a half and it was one of the best sermons of my life. The lives of the congregation were opened to the vision of my mind, and I told them of their wicked deeds and the reward they would obtain. The men who surrounded me dropped their heads. Three minutes after I closed I was the only person in the room.
Soon I was shown to a bed, in a room adjoining a large one in which were assembled many of the men whom I had been preaching to. I could hear their conversation. One man said he would like to know how that Mormon boy knew of their past lives. In a little while they got to disputing about some doctrinal point. …
Wilford Woodruff’s First Mission (Graphic History) part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17, part 18