On the 2nd day of Christmas past the question is to be:
Which LDS prophet first heard the gospel a few days after Christmas & was baptized on New Year’s Eve?
(To be entered into today’s giveaway & FREE tour drawing, Comment & Share your thoughts of story below on Facebook or our blog.)
In 1833, when Wilford Woodruff was twenty-six, he decided to move near Richland, New York, where he and Azmon (his brother) bought a farm. When they weren’t farming, they were (of course) fishing. One morning they caught five hundred salmon!
It was there in New York, in late December, that Wilford’s life changed in an unexpected way. Azmon’s wife, Elizabeth, answered a knock on the door of their home and found two Mormon missionaries standing on the front step. Wilford and Azmon weren’t home, so the two elders told Elizabeth to tell the brothers that the missionaries would be preaching at a nearby school house that evening. They would love to have the Woodruffs come and listen to their message about a newly restored church and gospel.
When Wilford arrived home and heard about the missionaries, he remembered Brother Mason’s prophecy that he would be a “conspicuous actor in the new kingdom.” Without waiting for supper, Wilford raced out to his horse and galloped to the schoolhouse! When he arrived, the room was already packed with people. But Wilford eased his way through the crowd and finally got a seat at a writing desk at the very front. He wanted to see and hear everything.
What Wilford saw and heard that night filled his soul with the Spirit of God. “I felt that I had just heard the first true gospel sermon in my life,” he later said. It was exactly what Wilford had been looking for: prophets, apostles, revelation, spiritual gifts. These were things Wilford knew from studying the Bible, and he knew they were important. He was so excited that he jumped to his feet at the end of the sermon, turned to the crowd, and said, “Friends and neighbors, I feel to tell you not to oppose these men. They are true servants of God. They have preached to us the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. I witness to you it is true!”
Two days later, on December 31, Wilford and Azmon were baptized at a nearby lake. Knowing Wilford, however, you may have guessed that he had an accident or two on his way to the baptism. While getting ready for the ride, his horse suddenly kicked the hat right off Wilford’s head. Two inches lower and the hoof probably would have killed the future Prophet. Just ten minutes later, while driving this same horse and another hitched to a sled, several loose boards on the floor of the sled gave way, and Wilford suddenly fell to the ground. With Wilford holding onto the harnesses with all his might, the two frightened horses raced downhill, dragging him along. Luckily, the ground was slick with snow, and he stopped the horses without serious injury.
When Wilford finally got to the lake, the ground at the lake’s edge was covered with three feet of snow. Chunks of ice were floating in the water. Nevertheless, Wilford eagerly stepped into the water, was baptized by immersion, and came up filled with joy and excitement. He didn’t care that the water was icy cold. All he could think about was having found the Lord’s church. Wilford made a promise to the Lord that day to do anything, go anywhere, and sacrifice everything, if need be, for his Heavenly Father.
Wilford Woodruff kept that promise. In fact, Wilford was so loyal and dependable that he was called “Wilford the Faithful.”
After his baptism, Wilford’s youthful dream of meeting a true prophet of God came true. He rode on horseback to Kirtland, Ohio, and there met the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph invited Wilford to stay at his home. While there, he helped Joseph tan a wolf-skin to use on his wagon seat. He also met Brigham Young and helped him put a good wooden handle on a butcher knife. He learned that these spiritual, loving men were also hard workers. Wilford too gave his life to the Lord’s work. Much of the church history we have record of thanks to the faithful journal writings of Wilford Woodruff!
Who could we share the gift of the gospel with this Christmas?