Sunday, August 18, 2013

That We May Become One

Before the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, the leading Brethren of the Church met in the temple. They covenanted that they would “never cease [their] exertions, by all the means and influence within [their] reach, till all the Saints who were obliged to leave Nauvoo should be located at some gathering place of the Saints.”1 Determined to keep this covenant, President Brigham Young established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund in 1849. Under this program, the Church loaned money to emigrating Saints with the understanding that the people would repay their loans after they arrived in Utah and found employment.

President Young called Elder Lorenzo Snow and others to raise funds for this effort. It was difficult for Elder Snow to ask the Saints for donations—they were poor themselves, having been driven from place to place before settling in the Salt Lake Valley. He wrote in his journal: “In performing the mission of soliciting means from the Saints who, after having been robbed and plundered, had performed a journey of more than one thousand miles, and just located in an unwatered, desolate recess of the great ‘American Desert,’ I found myself inducted into an uphill business. With very few exceptions, the people had very little, or nothing they could possibly spare.” However, everywhere Elder Snow went, people gave all they could. He reported: “The efforts and willingness, everywhere manifested, to eke out a portion of the little—the feeling of liberality and greatness of soul, which everywhere I met in the midst of poverty, the warm-hearted greetings I received even where comparative indigence held court, filled my heart with exceeding great joy. One man insisted that I should take his only cow, saying that the Lord had delivered him, and blessed him in leaving the old country and coming to a land of peace; and in giving his only cow, he felt that he would only do what duty demanded, and what he would expect from others, were the situation reversed.”

After collecting donations in northern Utah, Elder Snow observed, “The hearts of the Saints were open, and, considering their circumstances, they donated liberally and amply, and I need not say cheerfully.”

Although the people had little to give individually, their unified efforts blessed many lives. The Perpetual Emigrating Fund expanded beyond its original purpose, helping more than just the members of the Church who had been in Nauvoo. It continued for 38 years, helping tens of thousands of converts from many lands gather with their fellow Saints. (From the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, pg.195)
Elder Marlin K. Jensen said, "The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism.’”  That thought ought to inspire and motivate all of us because I feel that friendship is a fundamental need of our world. I think in all of us there is a profound longing for friendship, a deep yearning for the satisfaction and security that close and lasting relationships can give. Perhaps one reason the scriptures make little specific mention of the principle of friendship is because it should be manifest quite naturally as we live the gospel. In fact, if the consummate Christian attribute of charity has a first cousin, it is friendship. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul slightly, friendship “suffereth long, and is kind; [friendship] envieth not; … seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; … [friendship] never faileth.” (April 1999 General Conference)

We should be bound together and act like David and Jonathan as the heart of one [see 1 Samuel 18:1], and sooner let our arm be severed from our bodies than injure each other. What a mighty people we would be if we were in this condition, and we have got to go into it, however little feelings of friendship we may have in exercise at the present time. I can just tell you that the day will come when we must become united in this way if we ever see the presence of God. We shall have to learn to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We must go into this, however far we are from it at the present time, yet no matter, we must learn these principles and establish them in our bosoms. Now this I can see clearly, and that is the reason why I talk about these matters in the style in which I do, for I wish to plant them in the minds of the Saints, and to have these things among their every day feelings. (Lorenzo Snow)

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