Yesterday was another wonderful day at Carthage. . . I would like to share several experiences that I had there. It was my turn to take 6 people through the jail, 2 couples and 2 gentlemen. The spirit is always there, its as if Joseph and Hyrum are there. We got to the Martyrdom room and went in and talked for a few minutes and played the 4 minute tape. I like to sit for a minute or two after and let the spirit whisper to our spirit. I then bore my testimony and ask if any one would like to say any thing. One of the women ask about the cry Joseph uttered as he fell from the window, "My Lord, My God". That is a Mason cry for help, and Joseph was a Mason. I have a different take on the cry and was able to share my thoughts. I believe that Joseph Smith knew Jesus Christ in a personal way and feel that as Joseph leaped or fell from the window he saw Jesus Christ, our Savior, who, I feel had come to take him home. We probably will not know the true answer until we see Joseph Smith in Heaven and can ask him personally. Some how it makes my heart feel better. Everyone left the room and had started down the stairs when I noticed the other women sitting in the Dungeon Cell, she was crying so I felt I should just let her be alone in her thoughts. Everyone was down the stairs when she came out and held me in her arms. While crying she ask if she could bare her testimony to me which she did as she held me. It was a beautiful testimony and when she finished she thanked me for listening and said she didn't want the others to hear. I shared, that my testimony was much the same, and thanked her for sharing with me. We walked down the stairs together, and when we were outside she ask if we could stay in touch. We visited a little longer and then said goodbye.
On my second tour it was a party of 7, 3 couples and 1 woman who was by herself. After the tour was over and we had all left the jail one of the women came back to find me and said, "I believe that we will see each other again even if it is in Heaven, we will know each other." What a beautiful concept.
My third experience, a couple came into the Visitor Center in Carthage and said they just wanted to see the Jail, they didn't want to see the film or anything else. Her great grandfather was one of the guards that guarded Joseph that day and she couldn't understand why they killed him. We explained the best we could and assigned Elder Horlacher to take them through the Jail. Elder Horlacher will finish the story a little later, but what a thrill to meet someone from the other side whose relative was there and knew of the martyrdom. They were from Oregon and had come a distance to see the jail, and find out why someone would want to kill him.
I was asked to conduct the tour of the couple by Sister Price which I was glad to do. The couple told me that their great grandfather had been assigned to be a guard inside the Carthage Jail. The film which we show in the visitors center shows Joseph teaching the guards. I told the couple how special it was to meet them because I tell the groups (especially the youth groups) that when you are involved in a bad situation it is alright to leave and not be part of it. This is what the guards did. They left saying that they wanted no part of this and that Joseph was a good man. The replacement guards were instructed not to talk with Joseph. The great grandfather had written about this experience in his journal and said that if they had known what was going to happen to Joseph and Hyrum Smith they would not have left. The couple also told me that Joseph Smith had given a scriptural reference in the bible. The couples daughter is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and had the specific information. I tried to give the couple a Book of Mormon but they refused, however we left as friends. It was a thrill to meet the non member folks and to testify that like their great grandfather, Joseph Smith was a good man and I know that he was and is a prophet of God.
Coming to Nauvoo brings history to life. It is one thing to read about it, but quite another to walk the streets and visit the homes and feel of the spirit of the Saints who walked, laughed, cried, died, suffered and gave everything they had for our Father in Heaven and his Kingdom. On the way to Carthage Joseph said "This is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens." As the Saints were leaving Nauvoo, walking down the Trail Of Hope, they were singing "All Is Well". My dear family and friends, could we do the same if we were ask? We Love You All so much.