Written by Jason Godfrey, General Editor

Just six days before beginning his mission in the Southern States, David McAlister Faddies from West Weber, Utah, wrote President Woodruff the following message: “I have not as yet recieved any instructions from the Southern States mission, also that I have some work to do along with Father and Mother in the Temple, I would like to leave heare on Wednesday morning May 8th if you have a half fare ticket for me please send it & oblige your brother in the Gospell.”

While reviewing this letter, I noticed that David’s parents had not yet been identified. As a result, I discovered that they were Alexander McAllister Faddies and Mary Stewart Russell Faddies. As I was inputting their birth and death dates in the database, the fact that Mary died only 5 months after David began his mission was shocking to me.

In my quest to learn more, I found on her FamilySearch page that she had died from complications from childbirth at age 40. David was Mary’s oldest son, and her obituary in the Deseret Weekly illustrates how proud she was of him being called to serve a mission. In her obituary, her tender words to David prior to his leaving are recorded: “ ‘Yes, go, my son; we are willing to make any sacrifice that will be for your good. Shun the very appearance of evil, be true to God and your brethren, and all will be well.’ No doubt he [David] will be almost heart-broken to hear of the death of his mother, but I feel sure her last words to him, when he left home, will never be forgotten.”

As I reflect on how difficult it must have been for this young missionary to learn about the passing of his mother, I cannot help but think that he also gained an undeniable testimony of the plan of salvation and of our Savior’s Atonement. I am sure that while David grieved, he also found strength in the message he was proclaiming to the people in the southern United States. 

I am very grateful for the opportunity I have to learn about individuals such as those in the Faddies family while working on the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. While I was not expecting to gain this insight from working on this particular letter, I was nevertheless reminded of the fact that our Heavenly Father is aware of and loves each of His children. As we take the time to learn more about others—both here and on the other side of the veil—we will be blessed with strength, peace, and hope. 



Written by Ashlyn Pells, Associate Editor

How far are you willing to go to follow God? How much are you willing to sacrifice to do what you know is right? 

Would you walk “a great distance . . . untill 2 oclock at night in search of water” to be baptized? What if you had to be “let . . . down 8 feet perpendicular by the Bank before [reaching] the water”? 

That is exactly what a small group of five were willing to do while Wilford Woodruff served as a missionary in England in 1840. Though about fifteen other people wanted to wait until another day to be baptized, these five “would not take no for an answer.” One of them was even “an aged woman who had followed us the whole time leaning upon her Staves.” 

And this small group of people was not the only number that Wilford baptized in the middle of the night. In another instance on the same mission, a mob prevented many from being baptized. “But,” Wilford wrote, “some wishing to be baptized notwithstanding the persecution I repared to the pool about 12 oclock at night which was surrounded by a desperate mob of the gentiles. I went down into the water & Baptized 5 persons in the midst of a shower of stones flung at me by the mob. & while they were pelting my Body with stones One of which hit me in the top of my head which nearly knocked me down into the water with the man that I was Baptizing but the Lord saved me from falling & I continued untill I had closed my Baptizing & my mind was stayed on God.”

Wilford himself was baptized when “the snow was about 3 feet deep a cold day & the water mixed with snow & Ice.” Despite these freezing conditions, Wilford recorded, “I did not feel cold.” 

All of these people knew that the restored gospel was true—and they knew it with such fervor and commitment that nothing could stop them from making covenants with God as soon as they possibly could. What is God asking you to do? 

I know that despite whatever obstacles lay in your path, God will be with you. He will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you (see Isaiah 41:10), and He will enable you to accomplish all that He has asked you to do (see 1 Nephi 3:7).



Written by Mackenzie Jaggi, Assistant Editor

In a general conference address to the gathered Saints in 1881, Wilford Woodruff spoke at length about the importance of preserving religious freedom. He expressed respect and love for those who choose to worship differently:

I have heard Joseph Smith and Brigham Young say that if they had the power over the whole world, over every human being who breathes the breath of life, they would give every inhabitant of the earth the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. . . . We say to all men, “Enjoy your religion, worship God according to the dictates of your own conscience.” We ask the same right as the children of God. We claim this by the Constitution and laws of our country, and upon this principle we have embraced the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was astonished that of all the powers they may have possessed, the Church’s founder, Joseph Smith, and his successor, Brigham Young, preferred to retain the right to worship according to the dictates of one’s own conscience—freedom of religion. This address got me thinking about many wonderful experiences where I have been taught and inspired by those of other faiths. 

On a recent flight back from New York City, my husband and I sat next to an eighteen-year-old Muslim girl named Elif. I normally keep to myself on plane rides, but I felt anxious for this young girl traveling alone and tentatively began a conversation with her. Elif responded with warmth, and seemed to grow more comfortable as the hours went on. In our discussion, I found out that Elif was leaving her home in Turkey for the first time in her life; she intended to spend six months working in the United States before returning home to begin university studies. She didn’t know anyone in America. Elif and I spoke for much of the five-hour flight to Salt Lake City, and when the time came for us to part ways, we had become good friends. Before we left, Elif opened up her checked bag and loaded our arms with sweets and snacks from her homeland: chocolates and cookies, crackers and crisps, and several tins of Turkish Delight. I was stunned. Nearly everything Elif had brought for herself to eat those six months in America, she gave to us, perfect strangers. 

As we took a picture with Elif and exchanged contact information, I felt from her the pure love of Christ, so strongly that it brought tears to my eyes. When we parted ways, I couldn’t help but think of the words that Jesus delivered 2,000 years ago upon the Mount of Olives: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in” (Matthew 25:35). In a time foretold when “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12), I was humbled to see Elif’s example of generous goodness, and thrilled to befriend a fellow daughter of God in such unlikely circumstances. Elif and I remain friends to this day. I know that the pure love of Christ can be found within the communities of our fellow sisters and brothers who worship God.



Written by Michael Pulsipher, Research Specialist

During this last quarter, the Research Team finished researching everyone who is currently listed as a historical figure, which includes 768 individuals. As we have researched these people, I have been astonished at both the variety and the sheer number of people mentioned by Wilford Woodruff and his associates. Clearly, Wilford Woodruff was not just hiding away in Illinois and Utah while the world went on without him. Instead, he actively sought to learn from those who had gone before in order to help him become the best man he could be.

In a book Wilford Woodruff read on Masonry, several historical figures are mentioned. These figures include John Harris, Juan Bautista Villalpando, and Amenhotep II of Egypt. These three men came from vastly different backgrounds: John Harris was a publisher in England during the mid-1800s, Juan Bautista Villalpando was a Jesuit who wrote about Christian topics during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and Amenhotep II of Egypt was an Egyptian pharaoh during ancient times. 

In today’s world, we, as followers of Jesus Christ and members of His Church, can be tempted to seek learning and knowledge only from fellow members of the Church. There is nothing wrong with listening and learning from those who believe in the exact same things that we do. However, one thing Wilford Woodruff has taught me is that great wisdom and knowledge can also be gained from listening to those who do not necessarily believe all the same things that I do. I am reminded of the Article of Faith which states, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” After all, if Wilford Woodruff could do it, so can I.



Written by Sarah Paul, Research Specialist

Otto Johnson, a sheep farmer from Grantsville, Utah, responded to his mission call in a very similar way to thousands of other prospective missionaries who sent letters to Wilford Woodruff. Otto’s words of surprise and apprehension are matched with a willingness to go and do. But his response stands out because of the story that accompanies these letters.

In his letter from January 17, 1893, he wrote, “It was quite a surprise to me to be called to go on a mission, as I feel that I am not very well qualified for such a labor. but as I have no reasonable excuse to offer for not going, I will by the help of the Lord to go and do the best I can, and will try and be ready to Start by the time warned in your letter Apr. 15th.”

In the spring of 1893, Otto and his wife, Ada, would have been preparing to fulfill his mission call and awaiting the arrival of a new baby. On March 22, Ada died from complications of childbirth. Just five years after marrying, he was a widow with two small children, and a fast-approaching mission call.

Then seventeen months later, Otto responded to a second mission call, with the same faithfulness as the first. On August 29, 1894, he wrote, “I will be prepared to go on a Mission to the Northern States according to Your request with Kind regards I remain, Your Brother in the Gospel, Otto Johnson.”

Between these two letters was a third letter from July 31, 1894, written by his bishop. He stated that Otto had been excused from the first mission because of the death of his wife, but later Otto asked to be sent on the second mission: “He says that he is now ready.”

We learn from family narratives that a year after Ada’s death, Otto married Emma Erickson. When Otto left for his mission, he left Emma with their small farm and the young children of his first wife. After Otto served for two years in the Northern States Mission, he and Emma had six more children. In time he fulfilled a second mission to Sweden, his native land.

I was inspired by this family’s life, especially by Otto’s, Ada’s, and Emma’s faith to “go and do” (1 Nephi 3:7). It would have been easier for Otto to be sidetracked by the tragedies of his life, and to have not served the Lord by fulfilling his mission. Meanwhile, his family and friends supported him in his righteous desire to fulfill his mission. Their faith and actions remind me that whatever our mission in life is, it is not a one-time event, but a way of living and serving while remaining faithful to the principles of the gospel.



Written by Shauna Horne, Content Team Lead

In one of the documents I worked on recently, I found this quote and it made a lasting impression on me: “If our religion does not lead us to love our God and our fellow man and to deal justly and uprightly with all men, then our profession of it is vain.”

The last few weeks I joined the sister missionaries to meet with one of their friends named Dave. I liked Dave immediately. He was funny and curious and had such a good sense of humor, even though he deals with some tough physical disabilities: he has no legs and he is going blind. After visiting with him I realized he is lonely, and I felt very impressed that my husband and I need to become friends with him. So we brought some dinner over and I introduced Dave to my husband. 

As we have visited with him, I have had several impressions. I know that the Lord has put him in my path so I can practice loving. I need practice and I want with all my heart to do what the Lord wants me to do. I am so grateful for the promptings of the Spirit that have helped me become a better person by rubbing shoulders with a new and now dear friend. What I have realized in the last few weeks is that I need Dave in my life more than he needs me, and I am good with that. He has not joined the Church yet, but I hope he will see the love of the Savior through my husband and me. This is one of the beautiful parts of the gospel. By doing what the Lord asks, I grow and I am enriched and loved as I love others. I am grateful for the reminder from President Woodruff that loving my fellow man is what the gospel and our religion is all about.