“A Grand New Truth (Part 2)” Friend, Dec. 1989, 18
Peace McBride, a seamstress’s helper in Philadelphia, is delivering a dress for her mistress, Mrs. Root, when a crowd in front of a large church piques her curiosity. Pushed inside the church by the surging crowd, Peace stays to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith deliver an electrifying sermon. The Holy Ghost reveals to her the truthfulness of the Prophet’s words, and afterward she asks about being baptized. Remembering her errand, she hurriedly delivers the dress, then returns to her mistress to confess her tardiness. Instead of anger, Peace’s mistress rewards her with kindness and has Peace sew while she reads to her from this “new” Book of Mormon.
“I’m sorry,” Mrs. Root said the next morning. “I just don’t think that you should be baptized without your parents’ permission.”
“It will be months before my regular summer visit,” Peace pleaded. “The elders will be gone by then. I might not have another chance to be baptized!”
“I just can’t let you do it. You’re still a child, my dear.”
“I’m twelve years old, old enough to be an apprentice.”
Mrs. Root sat with her head bowed, thinking. “You know, Peace, I promised your parents to take care of you as if you were my own child. If you were my child, I wouldn’t let you join a church that I know so little about.”
“But I know that it’s true,” Peace said earnestly.
Again Mrs. Root looked thoughtful. “How long will the elders be here?”
“I don’t know. I think a week or two.”
“How is the best way to learn about Joseph Smith and to know if he’s telling the truth?” Mrs. Root inquired.
“We could read more of the Book of Mormon together,” Peace suggested eagerly. “If it is true, then wouldn’t the prophet who translated it also be true?”
Mrs. Root smiled.
“Yes, I believe that you’re right. Therefore, I promise to let you be baptized if after we’ve read the Book of Mormon, I’m convinced that it’s true. Does that sound all right?”
“Oh, yes! But can we finish it before the elders leave?”
“We’ll take turns reading while the other works. That means that we’ll have to work twice as fast,” she warned.
From then on, whenever they could, they read aloud to each other from the Book of Mormon. It was slow going for Peace at first, but as they read, her ability increased. They laughed together as they struggled to sound out the new and strange names. They were touched by the hardships that Nephi endured because of his brothers. Their hearts ached at the wickedness of Alma the Younger and his friends, and they rejoiced when an angel helped the young men turn their lives around.
They eagerly read of the Savior’s visit to this new continent. They grieved as they read of Moroni’s sad plight. To be the last one of your people left on the earth! To be hunted by your enemies, never knowing when you would die! That took courage and conviction in what you believed. They wept together as they read Moroni’s last words.
“Mistress Root,” Peace said as they closed the book, “have you prayed about what we’ve read?” Hope filled her heart as she waited for the answer.
“Yes, my dear, but I haven’t had an answer yet.”
“We’ve finished the book now. Will you pray about it again? Surely after what we’ve read, you can see that it must be true. It sounds so much like the Bible. I felt even closer to the Savior as we read about His visit to the Nephites. I wish that I could have been there!”
“Yes. … I, too, begin to feel the truth of it. There is much wisdom in this book. I’ll pray again tonight, I promise.”
In her own prayers that night, Peace pleaded with Heavenly Father to grant Mistress Root’s request to know the truth. As she lay in bed before sleep came, she thought about how happy she was now that she knew her Heavenly Father and His plan for her.
Already up when the excited girl came downstairs the next morning, Mistress Root placed a plate of food in front of Peace, then sat down beside her. “Well,” she asked, her eyes twinkling. “Aren’t you going to ask if I prayed about the book?”
Seeing the glow on her mistress’s face, Peace knew the answer.
“I know that it’s true, dear Peace, and I want to be baptized too.”
On Christmas Eve, Peace followed Sister Root to a spot by the river where a small group of Saints had again gathered for baptism. It was bitterly cold, and fear clutched at the young girl as she thought of the dark, swirling river. Shivering, she remembered that she’d never learned to swim. Standing up straight, she shook off her fear, moved forward toward the river, and stood on the riverbank as Sister Root waded into the water.
When she emerged a few moments later, trembling, but radiant, Peace held out a warm cloak for her.
“Your turn now, Peace,” she said. “And may the Lord bless you for helping me to find such happiness.”
Wading through the slush at the edge of the river, Peace shook as the icy water closed around her. But when she clasped Elder Winchester’s hand, the shivering ceased. He pronounced the baptismal prayer and lowered her into the water. As she came up out of it, a feeling of light filled her from head to toe. She felt so warm that she didn’t even notice the cold as she walked barefoot back through the snow to where Sister Root waited for her with a thick, dry cloak.
In the warmth of the room above the shop, the elders confirmed Sister Root a member of the Church. Then they placed their hands upon Peace’s head, and, through the power of the priesthood, confirmed her a member of the Church and conferred upon her the gift of the Holy Ghost. As they placed their hands on her head, she experienced again that feeling of peace and light. She knew that what she had done was right.
Later, as Sister Root and Peace sat by the warm fireside, Peace felt a desire grow inside her. It was something that she had been thinking about all week. She had the truth, and so did Sister Root. Because they were blessed with that knowledge, they must now share it. “Sister Root,” she began timidly. “I have need to ask something of you.”
“What is it?”
“I’d like to have a few days to visit my family in Chester Springs.”
Sister Root was pensive. Travel was hard in the winter and very expensive, and Peace’s family lived in a distant county. The older woman studied the solemn face before her. “I think that I could spare you for a time. Is something wrong?”
“Oh no,” Peace reassured her. “Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s wonderful! That’s just it, you see. I need to share my knowledge of the Savior and His gospel with my family. I want them all to hear what I’ve learned.”
Sister Root looked fondly at the girl before her. “It’s not easy to travel now, but I see that you must go. Since you’re set on this, I think I’ll give you your present now, instead of waiting for morning.” Walking over to the cupboard, she took a handkerchief-wrapped bundle out of hiding and placed it in Peace’s hands.
Peace unwrapped the bundle and found several small coins. It would be enough to pay for her trip! Hugging Sister Root, she began to cry. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“Tomorrow I’ll start asking around,” Sister Root offered, as she wiped her own eyes. “Maybe someone is going that way. I’d feel better knowing that there was someone to watch over you.”
“Thank you,” Peace said, “from the bottom of my heart.”
(To be concluded)