Friday, March 7, 2008

Mary Musselman Whitmer

It had been a busy time for Mary Musselman Whitmer, wife of Peter Whitmer, senior. Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, and Oliver Cowdery had come to stay with the family to avoid persecution while Joseph worked on translating the gold plates. Her household was large in the first place, and while she was glad to have the prophet there, she was also feeling the strain of providing for extra individuals. However, the Lord recognized the importance of her contribution to the work that was being done, and provided her with an experience that confirmed this to her. Her grandson relates her experience as follows:
One evening, when (after having done her usual day's work in the house) she went to the barn to milk the cows, she met a stranger carrying something on his back that looked like a knapsack. At first she was a little afraid of him, but when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, she was filled with inexpressible joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell. From that moment my grandmother was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, and she felt no more inclination to murmur because her lot was hard. I knew my grandmother to be a good, noble and truthful woman, and I have not the least doubt of her statement in regard to seeing the plates being strictly true. She was a strong believer in the Book of Mormon until the day of her death.
Mary Whitmer was the only woman that I am aware of that saw the plates directly. Emma worked as a scribe for Joseph at certain points, but did not see the plates. Mary's experience probably pre-dated that of the 11 witnesses (correct me if I'm wrong, history buffs!). Later on, her family had a falling out with Joseph, and they did not join the saints out West. However, she never denied her testimony.

Mary inspires me for many reasons. I think everybody can relate to feeling like your hard work towards an important cause goes unnoticed. I love this account because it demonstrates that the Lord truly does notice our efforts, and will provide us the strength we need to move forward in them. I love that when she had this affirmation, she not only went to work, but she stopped worrying about the difficulty in doing it. Mary's experience reminds me that the Lord is aware of and values my contributions towards His work.

Mary Musselman Whitmer, James Lamond Carroll
Mary Musselman Whitmer, Moroni's Latter Day Saints Page


Elissa said...

I really like this story because it makes me realise I'm not the only one that murmurs when things get hard. Also, that the Lord provides comfort when it is needed.

Truth Matters said...

This artistic film portrays the efforts of Mary Whitmer at home during the residency of Joseph Smith in her home during the Book of Mormon translation project.