submitted by: SUP Trail Marker Pioneer Stories January 2023

Peter Whitmer Farm Fayette New York

By Richard D. Kirkham, AVP Pioneer Stories

Many of the early saints of the Church were good and faithful people who believed in God and the ministering of angels. It was not beyond their faith to have divine personages from beyond the veil come to them in their times of need, providing comfort, support, knowledge, and direction.

Mary Whitmer, one of the early matriarchs of the restored gospel, was one such recipient. In their book, “God Comes to Women”, Heather Farrell and Jen Mabray recount Mary Whitmer’s story. They write, “Due to persecution, the Prophet Joseph Smith, his wife Emma, and Oliver Cowdery moved into the home of Peter Whitmer. Even though they had never met Joseph and Emma before, Peter and his wife, Mary, welcomed them warmly. They provided Joseph and Oliver with a quiet place in which to complete the translation of the Book of Mormon. Mary had faith in Joseph's work, but she had eight children and the new house guests added to the burden of her work.”

They go on and describe a remarkable witness that Mary received as recorded in the book Saints:

The Standard of Truth (Vol. 1, pages 70-71) which tells how one day, while Mary was going about her daily chores, she received a witness that God was aware of her and appreciated the sacrifices she was making.

Mary had little time to relax herself, and the added work and the strain placed on her were hard to bear. One day, while she was out by the barn where the cows were milked, she saw a gray-haired man with a knapsack slung across his shoulder. His sudden appearance frightened her, but as he approached, he spoke to her in a kind voice that set her at ease.

"My name is Moroni," he said. "You have become pretty tired with all the extra work you have to do." He swung the knapsack off his shoulder, and Mary watched as he started to untie it.

"You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors," he continued. "It is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened."

Moroni opened his knapsack and removed the gold plates. He held them in front of her and turned their pages so she could see the writings on them. After he turned the last page, he urged her to be patient and faithful as she carried the extra burden a little longer. He promised she would be blessed for it. The old man vanished a moment later, leaving Mary alone. She still had work to do, but that no longer troubled her.

“God had seen Mary's burden. He knew that she had a houseful of people and that she probably did not have much time or space for quiet reflection,” concludes Sister Farrell. “Yet, He also knew that she was struggling and that she needed confirmation that what she was doing, and the sacrifices she was making to enable Joseph to complete the translation of the Book of Mormon, were important and valued by God. So, in a rare, quiet moment in the barn, God sent her a divine manifestation of His love and appreciation for her work.”

Many such manifestations were experienced and recorded in the journals and histories of the early Saints. But God has not limited his promises only to those early pioneers of this last dispensation. In the Book of Moroni, the man who would one day appear to Mary Whitmer, asked, “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” (Moroni 7:36-37).

No matter how weary or burdened we are with life’s challenges, God is willing to come to us if we are believing and faithful. He has promised, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88)