Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Joseph and Emma Smith

Paul and I had the opportunity to go to a seminary scripture scholar dinner. We were asked to go as Joseph and Emma Smith. That meant we had to do lots of research. Let me start off by saying that I was one of those people who never really understood Emma. I was always a little bit annoyed with her for choosing not to follow Brigham Young and crossing the plains. However, after the research I did I feel that I have a better understanding of her and SO much more respect for her. She was an incredible woman and I am so grateful that I had an opportunity to learn more about her. Here is what I said about her,

I was born July 10, 1804. My parents were Isaac and Elizabeth Hale. We farmed near Harmony, Pennsylvania and we operated a country Inn. That is where I met Joseph. My dad very much opposed of me courting Joseph but when he proposed I definitely preferred him to all others so I said yes. We were married at the home of Squire Thomas Tarbell in South Bainbridge, New York on January 18, 1827.
I supported my husband in being an instrument in the hands of God. I was even a scribe during his first efforts to translate the Book of Mormon. In July 1830, the Lord outlined my mission in a revelation given to Joseph. He said, “Though art an elect lady, whom I have called. …And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions.” During this revelation is also when I was directed to compile a book of hymns for the Church and was warned to “continue in a spirit of meekness, and beware of pride.”
I knew that what we were doing was what the Lord wanted but it was still hard and we had many trials. One of the hardest for me was the deaths of my children. My first three children died shortly after birth. The day after the twins died a friend of mine died who had just had twins. We adopted them. Then, because of  exposure during an incident of mob violence, the little boy twin – Joseph Murdock – died. We still had the little girl, Julia, but I was mourning over the death of four babies. But, I was able to find comfort in my patriarchal blessing. I was told, “if though wilt believe, though shalt yet be blessed… and though shalt bring forth other children.” I was eventually blessed with more children. Total, Joseph and I had 9 children and adopted 2. Only 5 of them survived. 
I will admit, at times I felt life was difficult. I did not know a settled home until Nauvoo. I was robbed and ridiculed; the children and I often went hungry. I struggled to provide for the children during Joseph’s imprisonments and long absences but “am yet willing to suffer more if it is the will of kind heaven.” “I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side.”
I was busy in the church as well. My only focus wasn’t the children. I finished my compilation of hymns in 1835 and they were published in 1836. I baptized my dead relatives in the Mississippi River in 1840 and I was the first general president of the Relief Society.
In 1943, Joseph and I were sealed for time and all eternity and received our sacred priesthood ordinances.
On June 27, 1844 Joseph was killed. The Saints left Nauvoo a year and half later and I was left, a 41-year old widow, caring for my aged mother-in-law and five children ranging from fourteen years to fifteen months old. I know people wonder why I didn’t go west with saints. The truth was, I feared for the lives of my children. I did not know whom to trust and there was no time and no peace for the natural healing of my grief to occur. When mob violence continually threatened Church members in Illinois and state officials refused protection, the Apostles, under the direction of Brigham Young, led the Saints into a winter in the wilderness to prepare for the long journey west. It was a horrifying idea to take my fatherless children again across the frozen Mississippi without Joseph. I was asked a few times why I didn’t go west. My answer was normally, “I had a home here, I didn’t know what lay out there.”
Throughout my life I never doubted Joseph to be a prophet of God. My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity. I have not the slightest doubt of it. …Though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, and was present during the translation of the plates and had cognizance of things as they transpired, it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder,’ as much as to anyone else. The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth which I had given [Joseph] to fold them in. I once felt the plates as they lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book. I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction.”

Joseph and Emma Smith weren't the only "guests" at the dinner.
 Pictured from L to R -- Brigham Young, Eliza R. Snow, John Taylor, Porter Rockwell, Joseph Smith, and Emma Smith. 

Lots of fun!! =o) 
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