5th Day Christmas Past Question & Story

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Christmas Past 2015, Uncategorized | 9 comments

2015-Christmas-Past-tradOn the 5th Day of Christmas Past, 5 days at Sea.

Question:  What can we learn from Elder John Taylor’s Christmas at Sea?

In 1839 Joseph Smith received a revelation that called all of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to go to England to preach the gospel.  Nine of the Twelve responded, one of them being Elder John Taylor.  Their heroic story is one of determination and faith to accomplish their mission under adverse circumstances.

This mission call came at a difficult time for the Saints, who were in turmoil and poverty after being driven from Missouri by mobs.  With little time to settle their families, the Apostles nevertheless responded immediately to their calls.  John Taylor left his wife, Leonara, and three small children, all of them quite ill, in a small, dilapidated, abandoned military barracks with only one window.  He also left them with little to sustain them for two years, but he had determination and faith that the Lord would take care of his dear family in his absence.

The missionaries traveled without purse or scrip, which meant that although they had a small bit of luggage, they had no money and depended on the kind donations of strangers for food, lodging, and transportation.  This was the way the Savior had sent out His disciples to do missionary work almost two thousand years before.

It took Elder Taylor four months to make his way to New York City, where he arrived on Dec 13, two weeks before Christmas.  He and his traveling companion, Theodore Turley, were essentially penniless but were filled with the Spirit and with optimism about the future.  While in New York they stayed with Elder Parley P. Pratt, who was temporarily in the city to arrange for some publishing for the Church.  Elder Taylor didn’t say anything about his lack of funds.  Instead, whenever anyone asked about his financial situation, he would reply, “I have plenty of money!”  So Elder Pratt, who needed additional money to publish his missionary tracts asked Elder Taylor if he could contribute several hundred dollars to fund the publication.  Elder Taylor replied, “You are welcome to all I have.”  He put his hand in his pocket, pulled out a one-cent coin, and gave it to Elder Pratt.  Surprised, Elder Pratt reminded Elder Taylor that he had claimed to have plenty of money.   Elder Taylor said it was true.  He explained that he had clothes on his back, was provided with excellent food in Elder Pratt’s home, and “with all these things and a penny over, as I owe nothing, is not that plenty?”

Elder Wilford Woodruff also had recently arrived in New York.  Unlike Elder Taylor, he had secured the $15 necessary to buy a ticket to sail for England on the ship Oxford, which was due to leave in a few days.  Elder Woodruff insisted that Elder Taylor sail with him.  Elder Taylor responded, “Well, Brother Woodruff, if you think it best for me to go, I will accompany you.”  Sure enough despite lacking funds, his faith was rewarded, and it was not long before unsolicited funds came that enabled him to purchase steerage tickets (lowest-class) for Elder Turley and himself.

On Dec. 20, 1839, they sailed out of New York bound for England.  The 22-day passage was difficult.  The Apostles soon discovered that the ship was overbooked and that sometime 5 people were expected to sleep in one berth.  The weather was so stormy and rough that the passengers were continually tossed around in the bunks.  Almost everyone got seasick.

Five days into the voyage found the missionaries celebrating Christmas somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean – or perhaps not celebrating would be more accurate.  The weather was “fairly rough.”  Because Elder Taylor recorded that he stayed in his bunk ill for almost the first two weeks of the voyage, we can only imagine that he did not celebrate Christmas in any way.  However, the outcome of their whole-hearted missionary efforts was an amazing 6,000 converts coming into the Church who immigrated to America and helped build up Zion at a critical time.   No doubt Elder Taylor and the other Apostles felt their Christmas at sea and all their other troubles a small sacrifice for the amazing blessings that came from it!

Taken from:

“Christmas with the Prophets,” by Laura Willes, p. 26-28.

“Men with a mission”by J.B Allen, p. 54-105

“Truth Will Previal” by Boxham, Moss, & Porter, p. 104-113




  1. Serving the Lord with all our heart and soul, and having complete faith and trust in him brings blessings that we could never have imagined.

  2. What I feel can be learned from this story are that if we have faith enough to do what the Lord asks of us, no matter the difficulty we perceive or the lack of understanding of how it will work out, ALL else WILL work out. Elder Taylor knew this.
    His attitude of cheerfulness and gratitude for what he had, instead of what he was lacking is also something to learn from.

  3. Sometimes I feel grumpy when I have to fulfill an assignment now. I can’t imagine how much faith it would take to leave my family for such a long time, not knowing if I would see them again. What an example of faith! It seems that after the trials come the blessings, because a lot of people were converted because of his efforts.

  4. I think we can learn from this story that when you are in the service of the lord and have great faith in the lord that all things are possible and a way will be opened for you to do what the lord wants

  5. This story makes me aware that when the Lord calls His people to the places where they are needed, they will be protected and provided for.

  6. I love the positive attitude that they showed as they faced the trials and tribulations of living their faith!

  7. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to leave my family, during this time peroid. Just knowing that I could last my parents would be to hard. I now have faith and pray everyday since the trip to I went to Kirkland.

  8. With enough faith one can do what the Lord calls us to do even if it doesn’t seem possible. I remember when I was raising my family. If you put our income on paper and compared it to our expenses, there was never enough income for the expenses. We paid a full tithing and the children always had food and clothing and a roof over their heads.

  9. This story shows that if we put Heavenly Father first and do as He asks, we will be taken care of and blessings will come after the trial of our faith.

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *