“The Book That Would Not Burn,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 61–62
My mission in 1923 took me to Gallup, New Mexico, where one of my first assignments was to tract the nearby coal mining camps. One day my companion and I knocked at the door of a large white home. In our conversation with the lady who answered the door, we learned that she had never gone to school and therefore could not read. But she had resolved that her children would have the advantages of being able to read and appreciate books, and she had started a family library that already numbered several hundred volumes. I told her about the Book of Mormon, and she said she would appreciate a copy for her library. She gladly accepted our gift and also our offer to hold a cottage meeting in her home for members of her family and some of her friends.
Before we could do any follow-up visits, we were transferred to another part of the state. A year later I returned with a new companion to again tract the mining camps. I was eager to renew my acquaintance with the woman to whom I had given a copy of the Book of Mormon, and I was unprepared for the large pile of ashes and the blackened stoves, bedsteads, and other non-combustible items that greeted us at the site of that family’s home. We asked about the family and found that they had moved to another home after the fire.
Shortly after retracting the camp, I was released from my mission. After being home for a time, I received a letter from a friend describing that house fire at the mining camp. My friend said that when the firemen arrived at the home, it was so nearly consumed that they told the family they could not save anything. The mother, the woman with whom I had spoken, pleaded with them to save her books. The firemen turned their hoses to the area where the books were shelved, but it was in vain.
Several days later family members stirred through the ashes to see what they could find. There, perfectly undisturbed by fire or water, was the copy of the Book of Mormon that I had given the family. The other books had been burned to ashes.
From my friend I obtained the woman’s address and wrote her that I had heard of the fire and the preservation of the Book of Mormon. I told her that I felt the Lord had preserved this book, because she didn’t know how to read, to let her know of its truthfulness. She eventually received a testimony and was baptized along with members of her family.
Years later I visited New Mexico and called on this sister. She told me the story of the fire and showed me the undamaged copy of the Book of Mormon.
Through this single event many lives have been blessed. The members of this family have remained active, and they and many descendants have filled missions for the Church.