A Visit Beyond Veil
By Archie J. Graham - 1918
In December 1918, I contracted influenza, which was raging over the country. There had been a number of deaths in our locality, but I had no fear of death. However, I had a great desire to live to fulfill the many blessings that had been promised me by the servants of the Lord.
The first few days of my illness I was very bad, and my fever was high. The doctor was doing all he could for me and my wife and mother were nursing me with their tender care.
One night after I had been ill about ten days, my wife arose from her bed to give me attention. I asked her what time it was and she told me that it was just ten minutes to two. She was worn out from her many labors and was soon asleep. As I lay there awake, I was surprised to hear someone speak my name. I paid no attention, then again I heard it. The third time it was so clear and distinct that I turned over to see what was wanted.
A messenger or man in white stood before me. He was about five feet nine inches tall and had a most penetrating smile. His presence seemed to illuminate the room; his voice was kind and gentle, yet commanding. "Come with me," he said. A dark film covered my eyes and I shuddered as I fell into a faint. He was smiling as I opened my eyes. I rose from my bed and followed him.
We had not gone far when he asked if I knew where I was. I told him I felt as if I were in heaven because his influence seemed so heavenly.
"Come then", he said "We will follow this path and I will show you some of the things you have longed to know and to see."
The path we took seemed to be of small marble-like pebbles, snow-white in color. It was about eight feet wide and continued straight and glistening as far as the eye could see. To the right and left of us were beautiful fields of waving grain. We walked through these a long distance when we came to a beautiful forest, with lawn-grass covering the ground; with trees and shrubs of many sizes and kinds and of many different colorings, from a pale green to the deep green of the spruce and pine, several shades of silver and gold, reds, browns, blues, lavenders, fading into a light pink, all planted to harmonize with each other in size, color and kind, and by looking in a certain direction, one could see all colors of the rainbow.
As we were passing through the forest, I thought nothing could compare to its beauty - it was glorious. But as we left it behind and still walking on the same white path, we came into the most exquisite flower gardens wherein were small shrubs and all manner of plant life, beyond human understanding. The ground was all covered with many varieties of lawn-grass. For some distance, the grass was of one species but within this distance there were many different colors of grass, which harmonized with the shrubs and flowers; another distance with another color of grass and flowers and shrubs to harmonize, and so on for hundreds of acres. There were flowers of all sizes and colors, placed in different artistic designs, such as diamonds, crescents, ovals, oblongs, squares, and many other odd shapes to add beauty and splendor to their surroundings. The flowers varied in size from those no larger than a pinhead to those as large as the crown in a man's hat. The shrubs were gorgeous, all sizes and colors - many of them were pruned and kept trimmed to represent birds and animals and were very true to life, even having real diamonds and rubies for eyes.
The cactus plants were marvelous for they were trained and grew to represent animals and reptiles having eyes of precious stones. There was an elephant fully as large as any I had ever seen. One of the caretakers told us that it was thousands of age two years old. It was growing from the four legs in the ground and his tail, head, trunk, tusks, his little blue diamond eyes, and his big flat ears were perfect. The tusks were of vegetable matter, growing from the body and resembling the true ivory.
I was very much impressed with a wonderful flower tree. The trunk was about six inches in diameter and about three feet high before it began to branch out, then it branched into twelve or fifteen branches, resembling a massive vase or flowerpot. The tops of the branches were a little above our heads and on each branch was a different color of the same kind of a flower, the flower as nearly as I can describe it was a cross between a rose and a chrysanthemum, and from the base of each flower on the stem grew a very fine fern leaf with different shades of green on each branch to harmonize with the color of the flower in that branch. Its beauty excelled any hothouse combination bouquet I have ever seen.
I turned around to look at this beautiful sight, and stood in amazement and awe, the magnitude and splendor of its beauty and imagination of mortal man in beauty and splendor.
While we were viewing these sights, the caretakers were busily engaged in pruning, trimming trees and shrubs, and cultivating the flowers and lawns.
We took the white path again and without a signal, so far as I could see, the caretakers, in great numbers began to file in military fashion ahead of us on the path. They seemed to have no leader. I asked concerning their discipline and my guide answered, "No man comes to this school unless he can discipline himself. They are going on to attend a class of instruction. An instructor meets them here at least twice a day unless they have trouble along some line and then comes to them or sends a man specially trained along the line of their trouble. All of those instructors are specialists and must bear the Holy Priesthood and have their own endowments (in person or by proxy) as they teach the gospel in the afternoon sessions."
A massive high wall came into view. The path continued along the wall south for some distance and then turned east. At this turn was a small arbor in the wall, just large enough for a chair for the instructor to sit in. As we drew near the corner, the men who were marching before us placed their tools against the wall and took their places in front of the little arbor. After the men were all seated, we took a new path leading to the left and to a massive double door in the wall just to the right of the instructor. He was sitting in a comfortable chair in the arbor when I first saw him, reading a book, but as the men came up, he arose and greeted each in turn, still holding the book in his hand, opened and face out. I was anxious to know what he was reading and was watching the book rather than him. We came opposite him, but I could not make out what it was. Just as we were about to pass through the gates our eyes met; it was one of the happiest moments of my life, for this radiant young instructor was my dead brother. I called his name and stepped toward him. He had been watching me, but had made no advance toward me, and his smile will always remain fresh in my mind. My guide took hold of my arm and as I turned to him the scene changed.
I asked my guide if that was not my dear brother. He put his finger to his lips and said, "That is not a part of my program. I am only to show you what you have wanted to know. He is very busy teaching in the art of horticulture, and preaching the gospel. Now be content for all is well with him."
We were in the midst of a poorly kept city. I said to my guide, "These people surely must be poor." He answered, "Not only poor, but benighted, ignorant, full of lust, greed and selfishness, just the same as they lived while on the earth, steeped in the iniquities of sin. They procrastinated their day of repentance unto death. For the bad habits formed in the flesh are much harder to overcome in the spirit, as the spirit steeped in sin without the flesh is weak, and they have a hard time to master sin here."
The sights in the streets were most pitiful. Men and women were crying with hunger, some crying for help, others were quarreling and fighting. Contention was raging in every form. The most tender cords of my heart were touched with pity and compassion. The houses seemed very dilapidated, many of them not being furnished and some having no chimneys, some with roofs badly caved in or gone or parts of walls gone, many with windows broken out; all showed signs of decay and seemed to be deserted as the men and women, mingling together, apparently lived in the streets, yet they did go in and out of the houses, calling them home. The streets were disorderly and dirty, full of rubbish and refuse. There were no signs of trees, flowers, or grass. All was barren as a desert.
I asked my guide if people would not surely do better on the earth if they know that was waiting for them. "That would never do," he said, "as it would rob them of their full right to choose good or evil. Now they choose the thing they like and the reward is waiting for them. Remember, this is not a home of peace, to the wicked, but the very opposite; unrest, discontent and misery. They choose for themselves while on the earth, which is the school of experience to test the character of the soul in the flesh. (Emphasis added.)
"The souls of these poor people were so engrossed in sin and crime that the spirit of God could not penetrate them, only to fulfill the scriptures, wherein it says:
'The spirit of God will not always strive with men'. Also - 'The spirit of God cannot dwell in unholy tabernacles.' And last, but not least - 'If they are filthy, they shall remain filthy still.'"
I asked my guide if there were no children here and he informed me that there were no children of any age, nor were there any regular missionaries of the Gospel. "But," he said, "they are sent here occasionally with a special message. However all the people have the privilege of going to places where they can hear and learn the gospel for themselves, but they are slow to hearken to the teachings of the gospel. Therefore, if a person is found with a possibility of repentance, they are sought after and taught the gospel. They always have instructors teaching better ways of living and different kinds of industries. Therefore, the Lord extends His mercy forever unto His children."
We walked for miles through these terrible scenes and gradually the homes and people showed signs of a little thrift and industry as we began seeing green trees here and there and an occasional patch of green, but the people were still dirty and slovenly.
Among these people we came in contact with some missionaries for the first time, and heard them preach the first principles of the Gospel. There was not so much loitering, but still much profanity, strife, and contention. As we went further, I noticed that the homes were nicer, some of them having been painted. There were more signs of industry. Some parts were cultivated, some trees and lawns came into sight, and some of the people looked happy.
The better class of people were more easily interested in religion and the missionaries, now more numerous, showed signs of encouragement. All kinds of characters were to be observed among the throngs of people, by their countenances, homes, groups, and communities; each individual finds his level.
As we continued walking, the scene was suddenly changed to one of beauty. There were trees, shrubs, lawns and flowers, beautiful painted and stone homes, gardens, parks and playgrounds, and many things to keep them busy at something and seemed to be more united and showed more co-operation in their communities and groups.
There were now an even greater number of missionaries, more encouraged in their work as this class enjoyed the Gospel and were more eager to learn its teachings. We began to see large chapels for worship and many public places erected after the manner of our stadiums, in the open air for people to sit and hear the Gospel taught, most of these being filled with large crowds.
"Nearly all these people were interested in religion," my guide explained, "but it takes a long time to prepare them for the Gospel for it is so much harder for the spirit to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh without the flesh, even for these people, and they are just as particular in receiving members into the Church here as they are on the earth."
The streets were paved and wide, the houses were lovely and the further we went the more beautiful everything became. The parks and playgrounds were filled with children and young people who were happy and whose manner and habits in play were very becoming. There were, however, no children under the age of eight years. The customs and appearance of these people were improved, as we saw no signs of the filth and dirt of the first class of people we had met. I could see some of the best of the first class of people among the crowds of the second place and could readily tell the difference by their appearance and manner. My guide informed me that a mark in the form of a dress or mantle was placed upon them when they died, designating the life they had lived while on the earth; a mark that could not be changed nor imitated in any way.
"Even though they may repent, progress in wisdom and knowledge, visit the better class, they are held in prison, and this mark or dress is the prison, and remain in that same station until they are released. No matter how long they have been repentant, they are held back and identified by that mark, - until someone has been baptized, confirmed and received all other sacred ordinances pertaining to the endowment of the Holy Priesthood for them, in the Temple of the Lord on the earth. This is the only power that can release them, but not until they have met all the requirements made of them here and accepted the endowments, do they receive the same by the Priesthood here and then the dress or mark falls off and they are released from prison and go on to enjoy the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob forever." (Emphasis added)
As I stood drinking in the magnitude of God's great creation and the marvelous changes and experiences we have to prepare us for eternal life, to my surprise, the scene was changed and I was gazing upon some of the most beautiful homes or palaces - for no castle of an earthly king could surpass them in beauty. I had looked upon beauty only once and that was in the beautiful flower garden described in the beginning of my narrative. This was similar to that only more beautiful and wonderful as children and all kinds of animal life and many beautiful homes added real life to its beauty. There were numerous parks and playgrounds, filled with happy and intelligent children. They were kind and generous in their play. Everything seemed to be love and smiles.
The houses were all large and quite uniform in size and structure, some of stone and some of different materials. The walks and streets were paved with different colors of cement to harmonize with the different shades of green of the lawns and shrubs. They were indeed beyond description. The homes each covered from five to ten acres of land on which trees, flowers, and shrubs grew profusely. There was plenty of room for all - everything in perfect order and harmony.
Wonderful chapels and public boweries with comfortable seating and pulpits were to be seen here, being used as a place for preaching the gospel and other subjects of importance. The boweries and stands were covered with vines and climbing roses and other flowers, thus making them very inviting. We were invited to some very interesting meetings in a number of these places where faith and repentance as we preach it were taught. Baptism and the laying on of hands were also taught, though not quite as we teach them.
My guide explained that "Before they can receive either baptism or the laying on of hands here, the work must be done for them on earth, by proxy. It is the same with the priesthood and all the other ordinances of the endowments. As soon as this is done they may receive the same over here, by the authority of the Holy Priesthood. It is very important that the people should turn their hearts more to this work and have the work ready for them on the earth, but in nearly all cases, these poor people are ready and waiting long before their work is recorded there. Many have waited for hundreds of years. But it is a part of the plan to have them wait until it is done on the earth first."
We now came into the center of this massive city with throngs of people. The streets were wide and no signs of streetcars or any other kind of vehicles all during our travels. In the center of the street was a wide white line dividing the street. It acted as a traffic guide as no sign of a policeman was present. All knew their place, the law was understood, everyone to the right. The crowd was so dense one could not turn and go back as we do here, but would have to cross over the white line and follow the crowd. If there were any visiting they would have to go into some building or side street as the crowd on the street was always moving. The crowd resembled the crowd coming from one of the well-attended sessions of conference in the Mormon Tabernacle only that this crowd extended for miles.
The business houses were large and well constructed, close together and of an average height of six or eight stories. I do not know what kind of business was carried on inside them as I did not ask, neither did my guide inform me. But it was the center of attraction where these millions of people were coming and going. Every one had a place to go, something definite to do but each had a smile and a pleasant word for a friend.
We at last found a clearing in the crowd large enough to pass through to a side street where we saw the same kind of beautiful homes and gardens we had seen on the other side of the city. We crossed into an open square where we saw and heard some more missionaries preaching the same doctrines as we had heard and seen before. Everywhere we went we heard the same teachings, only taught by different elders. They were teaching the first principals of the Gospel, endowment work for the dead, connecting families together and making genealogies for temple work on the earth, teaching the necessity of preparation to meet the Savior when he comes that they might, with the just, be resurrected into immortality. I asked my guide if all they had to do was preach.
He answered with kindness in his voice, but very emphatically, "think of the countless millions and millions of people who have been born in the flesh. The Gospel has been on the earth but a few times and then for only a short time. The fullness of the Gospel a very short time compared with the hundreds of millions of people and most of them are dead and here to be taught the true Gospel by a very few who have the right and authority to teach, as compared with the multitudes who are to be taught.
"This is shown unto you to impress upon your mind the magnitude of the work there is to be done, both here and on the earth, and to impress upon your mind your responsibility, as you were chosen to help this work along in the last days."
We next came to a large white building, grand in design and architecture. It was glorious but it is beyond my powers to describe it in full. It was oval oblong in shape, the top was all windows, giving perfect light to all parts of the building. This was the first building I was permitted to enter, to see the inside. It was a magnificent sight. The walls were literally covered with the most inspiring and interesting life size photos of all the old prophets and prophetesses, down to the present time. Also, there were many beautiful scenes.
We saw first a few creation scenes; The Garden of Eden, Father Adam and Mother Eve, Cain and Abel; Cain when he was cursed; Adam's posterity of High Priests; Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mallalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah; Noah and his Sons; Melchizedek, and all the Old Testament prophets; the Savior and His crucifixion, His resurrection, all His apostles; Lehi, Nephi and all the prophets of the Book of Mormon; the Savior coming to the Nephites; the apostles whom He chose among them; all other prophets down to Moroni; a beautiful' scene where the Father and Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith; all the prophets in our day and many leaders. Every part of the floor was occupied with a picture on an individual easel, many hundreds of which we had not time to examine.
From this lovely room we were ushered into another room, large and spacious - resembling the great Mormon Tabernacle only much larger, with the seating effect, choir seats, and the three rostrums very similar. There was a wonderful pipe organ whose music sounded like that of angels. My guide informed me that we were invited to a meeting where the twelve apostles and the Presiding Presidency met each week to give instructions to their officers. He led me about half way into the building where we could see everything that went on. We were early enough to see all the preliminaries, there being but a few people in the building when we entered.
Within a short time the building was filled to capacity, nearly twenty thousand officers with eager, smiling faces having gathered for the meeting. The organ played as they came in, the most satisfying music, which filled my soul with peace. Yet while these thousands of people were being seated, every note of the organ could be heard. The order was perfect, not even a whisper. At the stroke of a gong a large double door opened to the right and above the choir seats. At the same time that wonderful organ began to play very softly. There was no sound in the building but that of the organ; it sounded as if the building were being filled with angels. Then from the doorway, men dressed in the robes of the Holy Priesthood entered, coming down to take their seats at the rostrum. The twelve Apostles led the way and went to the first rostrum above the main floor. The Presiding Presidency took the next, or the middle rostrum, and the First Presidency and immortal visitors took the remaining or highest rostrum.
When the authorities began coming in, the assembly arose and remained standing until they were all seated, then they all sat down together. The scene was glorious and grand: this heavenly reverence thrilled me as I was never thrilled before. It was indeed an inspirational sight.
"Good," my guide exclaimed, "the first Presidency are here, "You can see them for yourself." He asked if I knew any on the top rostrum. I looked with admiration, for I thought I saw the Savior, as one of the men did look like the picture of the Savior I had seen in the first room.
"Is that one in the center the Savior?" I asked.
He smiled and answered "No, but it is the Prophet Joseph Smith."
"He does indeed resemble the picture of the Savior," I said.
There were on the same rostrum Patriarch Hyrum Smith, President Brigham Young, President Snow, and two other men whom I failed to recognize.
My guide informed me that the Presiding Presidency took charge of these meetings. I asked if the Prophet Joseph was over all the brethren.
"Yes," he said, "and everyone else, but only presides at special meetings and conferences. He is too busy and has too many things to do. It is not often he can attend these meetings. That is why it is a privilege for you to be here when he is present, so you can see him."
I marveled at the unusual respect and reverence, which was accorded the Prophet.
The Presiding President called the meeting to order by announcing the song by the choir. The organ played the prelude, then the great choir began to sing. I felt as if I were rising out of my seat, I felt so peaceful and happy. The music and singing were beyond my imagination, for they cannot be described, they must be felt, seen, and heard for one to comprehend and appreciate them.
The invocation was offered by one of the apostles. I will give a part of it here.
"Our Father who art in Heaven, we ask thee to bless us that we might represent thee in teaching the Gospel to these poor people who have died in the world and have come here to the place that was prepared for them to further prepare themselves to come back into thy presence. Help us to carry this message to those who have procrastinated their opportunities while in the flesh, to understand these truths and perfect themselves in Christ our Master. Bless all the saints everywhere, both here and on the earth in gathering their genealogies, that the records which are incomplete may be found and accepted in the temples on the earth, that our families may come together as one. May we help the Spirit of Elijah to enter into he hearts of all the children of men here and on the earth, that their desires shall be toward us as ours are toward them. Increase the Spirit of Elijah to the extent that more temples may be built in the earth, that our people will not have to wait so long for their endowments. Lift the darkness from the eyes of thy children here and there, that the parts of families here and the parts of families there may be united in funding their lost records, I welding together their link, to that endless chain..."
There was a very impressive and inspiring discourse given by another apostle, which I give in part.
"It is edifying indeed to see this vast body of workers, working for the cause of truth. Continue in the good work with all your hearts as the signs of the times indicate the shortness of the time before our Savior will come to reign upon the earth and who is ready to meet him?"
"The wars and the judgments of God are now upon the earth. (1918 war) I exhort all of you to stand in holy places. Teach the things you are called to teach.
Some of you are called to teach faith, repentance, and baptism; some teach endowments for the dead; some teach genealogy work for the dead; and some teach preparing records for the living. See to it that your classes are in order and doing their part, that you will not be slothful servants when the Lord comes, for those who are worthy and have their endowments, either in person or by proxy, may be called out to meet Him when He comes, but they who have not their endowments cannot even see Him or go where He is. Your responsibilities are great, for the saving of the souls of men rests upon your shoulders. Be diligent in your callings and seek to magnify your responsibilities."
Many more important things followed, but let this suffice.
After the meeting my guide informed me that we were going over to meet some of my relatives and ancestors. "Many of them have heard of you and have wanted for a long time to see you and to hear your testimony," he said.
I asked if that meant that I had to talk to them. "No, at least not for the present" he said. "I will do the talking now."
Just about this time men and women began to come up to us with smiling faces and while we were walking, multitudes of people crowded around us. We pushed ourselves through the throng until we came to a platform among the people. When we stepped upon it, we could see out over the throng. There were tens of thousands of them, a glorious sight and I was thrilled to know they were my kindred. As we stepped upon the platform, the noise of the vast crowd was hushed to silence, not even a murmur. It was indeed heavenly. My guide spoke but with a clear and pleasant voice, yet with dignity and power, as one having authority and his audience respected him as such.
In this clear and distinct voice lie said, "It gives me pleasure to introduce to you this young man from the earth. Many of you have wanted to see and hear him and many have asked that he might come to you. This is Elder Archie J. Graham, your kindred from the earth." For a moment there was a murmur in the crowd, then my guide continued: "but at this time you will not be able to hear him, as he is not fully come. He holds the Holy Priesthood and has his own endowments. He is your descendent. What is your pleasure?"
A great number shouted out , "Let him come, we need him."
A very good-looking man, large in stature and seemingly a leader in the crowd spoke out. "No," he said, "send him back." Then he came forward within a few feet of our platform. Addressing the crowd with a clear and commanding voice that pierced every heart, he said:
"Do you not know who this man is? He is - - -," calling out a new name which they all seemed to recognize and understand.
A murmur went out among the crowd again for two or three minutes. Then all at once the platform on which we stood trembled as the tens of thousands of voices shouted together - "Go back. Go back! We depend upon you in the temple. Go back, we need you there."
They seemed to understand each other, what they wanted, and how to do it, in avery short time as there was no argument or discussion more than above indicated.
There was no noise now. My guide smiled and bowed to them, then smiled at me. Speaking to the crowd he said, "You are very generous, but we will have to wait and see."
I was very much perplexed as I was unable to comprehend their meaning as at that time I had the feeling that I was already there. I felt differently than I had ever felt before. My body was light in weight. I could move about with the least exertion as though in thought. I felt as though I could fly, I was so light.
"We will report," said my guide.
The tall leader shouted out - "Let us salute our brother that he will not forget us in the temple."
The heavens resounded while my soul recorded the vibration of the greatest noise I have ever heard or felt in all my life. It was a salute. "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, and Amen!" It sounded like a million voices.
"Why all this and what does it mean I asked my guide.
"They want to show you that they appreciate you, and that they have confidence in your doing their work for them in the temple, by showing you their appreciation in a way to impress you so deeply that you cannot forget them if you go back. They are also promising the Lord for that confidence that you will work for them."
This was indeed a sight to see, an experience long to be remembered.
Leaving these wonderful people behind us, we found ourselves among more beautiful homes, flowers, wide streets, and a magnificent part in the center with lawns, flowers, and shrubs. The homes and everything in this section were more beautiful than anything I had seen. Each home had plenty of room for gardens, occupying from about ten to fifteen acres of land. Within the grounds could be found everything to gladden the heart and inspire one to live a higher and better life, they appeared to be covered with lawn grass. There were many varieties of trees and shrubs and flowers; lakes, ponds, fish, birds and pet animals and everything that would make a home and surroundings beautiful and peaceful.
A certain home across the street attracted my attention as being among the most beautiful. We walked past this home a short distance then I turned to get another good look at it, as it was so extremely beautiful. I looked with awe and reverence.
"Is it beautiful?" my guide asked.
"Yes indeed," I said "It is glorious and magnificent. May I ask a question?"
"What is it?" asked my guide.
"Who is the owner of that wonderful mansion?"
"The owner has not come yet, he is still on the earth."
"What must a man do to inherit a place like that?" I asked.
"He must live his religion in all things as he understands it. If much is given, much is expected. Keep all the laws of God, pay all his tithes and offerings. To be a servant of God, you must be a servant of your fellowmen. Remain true and faithful to your covenants, always fearing and trusting in the Lord and you will inherit a mansion like unto this. According to your faithfulness in the knowledge you have, so shall it be, as one is a likeness unto the other. It is a decree in Heaven and cannot be changed."
"May I examine this place?" I asked.
"You may pass around the yards but you cannot go inside."
I was indeed delighted and thrilled for this privilege. The home, set back about two hundred feet from the street, nestled among trees, vines and flowers. The buildings were elevated for the first hundred feet, then there was beautiful flat lawn up to the house. Upon each of these terraces, we found a number of different beautiful fishponds of different sizes and depths, each with a different variety of fish. We also found upon each terrace, a different kind and color of grass with a great variety of flowers and small shrubs to harmonize. This made a wonderful setting for the home and background.
We walked over to the steps leading over to the rolling lawn and found a most remarkable path of highly polished marble, which was laid in a pattern similar to that of the house. The house had huge white pillars on each side of the veranda with two massive doors leading into the house. The doors and windows were of the finest crystal cut glass. The material in the outside walls was of the finest white marble, variegated with chocolate color with a beautiful luster in the finish.
The grounds surrounding the home covered about twelve acres. We passed around the house where we saw a most wonderful sight. All sizes and kinds of trees and shrubs, many kinds of fruit, some bearing every month; large lakes with swans, pelicans, cranes, and a number of different kinds of fancy geese, a pair of each; many kinds of birds flying around, some had nests in the trees and some had cages. There were pet animals such as the deer, antelope, goats, sheep, and a number of fur animals. Just enough to make a home and yards perfect, or at least my idea of perfection. The water for the ponds and lakes was furnished by a deep, cone-shaped spring of living water not far from the house. The water, as clear as crystal, came bubbling out of the ground, making a lively picture.
As we were leaving this magnificent home and these beautiful surroundings, I was reminded of one of Christ's sayings -"Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, that which the Father has prepared for them that love Him and keep His commandments." If I be permitted to add my testimony, I can truthfully say that mortal man cannot comprehend its magnitude and splendor.
After my soul was filled and satisfied, my guide said, "Let us walk down this way." And to my great surprise, I recognized a familiar scene. We were walking west in the middle of my farm in American Fork, Utah.
At the time I contracted the flu, I was building a new dairy barn, had only laid the foundation when I went to bed. We walked over toward the barn and stopped a short distance from it. I could see the barn was finished, the home was changed, and the trees had grown. It made me feel that I had been gone for a long time and I actually felt that I had passed from this life, and was just being permitted to come back for a visit. It was so real, I had this natural thought - "My, but I am glad I left my little wife and children some life insurance to mature their plans and help them to make a living."
As we stood looking at the barn, my guide turned to me and said, "Now you have had a wonderful privilege to see for yourself what is being done beyond the veil. The many things you have seen and heard are all for your benefit and you should make use of them. You have seen the great missionary work awaiting you, also how they need your testimony and influence; you have seen your own people and how they wanted to hear from you, they showed you that they knew you and asked for your help, they even saluted you in praise to their Maker. You have seen the mansion which is prepared for you - the mansion and the grounds you examined are yours."
He paused for a moment. My soul leaped with joy at his words, then my heart melted within me as I thought of my weaknesses and imperfections. How could I be worthy, what had I done to deserve this? This was sacred and I was not prepared.
My guide continued with the kindness of a loving father. "The Lord, our Master, has given me charge concerning you, that you may choose for yourself, after knowing the things that are in store for you over there. You may come and enjoy these things, or you may remain upon the earth and enjoy these things," waving his hand toward the barn house and trees (that were changed).
He said no more but waited for my answer. It took some time for me to make my conclusion, but he said not a word. I slowly turned my back to him in deep meditation. If the truth were known, one could have seen my eyes fill with moisture. To me those were very sacred moments. I now realized that I was in the presence of holy angels whose presence gave me a serene and heavenly feeling. I could understand now what I failed to comprehend when I was in the presence of my ancestors, I could now understand their pleadings for me to come back, - I was not to remain with them. I could again feel the vibration of that marvelous salute, I recalled their faith in me. I remembered a number of things I wanted to do in this life and wherein I had fallen short.
I again faced my guide and said, "If that be the case, I prefer to remain upon the earth."
He smiled and asked, "May I ask why?"
"Yes," I said, "but it is sacred to me. I have sought to do a number of things in this life since my youth which so far I have not had the opportunity of doing."
"What are they?" he asked.
"I have wanted to work in the church and devote my life to saving the souls of men, and to work in the temple for my loved ones who are dead." I said. "I have always wanted to raise an honorable family and send them in the mission field. Now you have shown me my dead ancestors and they implored me to come back. They showed me signs that I shall never forget, that will always remind me that they do depend upon me to do their work in the temple. You have shown me that wonderful mansion which I feel I am unworthy to receive, neither am I justified in accepting it as I have not yet earned it. But in all the humility of my soul, I have desired all my life to live and bring souls unto Christ until He came, and to redeem my dead people. I want to live until I am worthy and am justified in receiving such a magnificent mansion as you offer me."
A shining glory radiated from his countenance. His clothes changed to an exquisite whiteness. He smiled with a smile of glory, which I hope I shall never forget. I know that he looked through me and saw the innermost thoughts of my heart, as that smile of glory pierced my soul. As he struck me on the left shoulder with his right hand, his touch gave me a shock. Then he slipped his arm around my waist and drawing me close to him, he said with the most thrilling, vibrating voice, yet gentle and kind, "The Lord your Master loves you for your integrity. Have faith and trust in the Lord and He will bless you and strengthen your back for every burden if you will trust him. He wants your heart first before anything else.
"You have but little time to make your preparations, for your extended charge, for the Lord wants your heart, your time, and your talents, first before anything else is served. If you give these things unto Him, he will develop you in marvelous ways. Now be content, for all shall be well with you, but the devil will seek to destroy you and block your way. If your faith is strong enough, you will be able to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh and enjoy all these things together with the desires of your heart in righteousness.
"Now go thy way in peace, trusting in these things and depending upon the Lord for guidance and you will have a sure defense. Come, let us return to your body."
In a flash we were in my bedroom. I saw my wife and children in their beds as I had left them. I saw my own body lying by the side of my wife. She had apparently not awakened while I was absent. She was so worn out from her toil and sleepless nights in caring for me in my sickness that sleep was appreciated.
I looked at the clock; it was just seven AM.
"We have been gone five whole hours, as it was two o'clock when we left," I said to my guide.
We stepped over to the bed. My body was lying on its back. It really looked to me to be dead. I said to my guide, "It looks hard to have to go back into that body after seeing all I have seen."
"It doesn't only look hard, but it is hard," he said. "You don't have to go back, but if you want those blessings in the flesh, you must go back."
I turned back to the body again to take it up. I touched it and shuddered. "Oh," I said, "How can I, it's cold and clammy!" I tried again then cried out, "I can't do it."
My guide stepped over to me and said very sympathetically, "That was your choice, now go on."
I knew that I must and with a positive determination, I forced myself back into my cold lifeless body. For some little time, I know not how long, though it seemed a long time, I thought I must surely be dead. I was cold and stiff and could not move. I wished my guide would speak to me, or that I could speak to him to make sure that I was not dead, but all in vain. I had been taught to pray and had always been prayerful, but now I was helpless, I could not even open my mouth or move my lips, or utter a word. It seemed as though I was doomed to lay there and die. I wondered why my guide had deserted me, or why he did not help me. I wondered why my wife would not wake up and help me. I tried to move and wake her up, but was helpless. I began to offer a silent prayer, trusting my Heavenly Father to hear it. My body began to warm up. I moved my arms, my legs, and head; I opened my eyes and there stood my faithful guide smiling at me. I could not speak but he said, "You have done it fine. You are all right now, I must go. Peace be unto you and farewell."
While he was departing he waved his hand and that glorified smile returned to his person. . . it filled my soul with peace, joy, satisfaction, and appreciation for the glorious things he had shown and taught me. He slowly faded from my mortal view.
It is beyond my vocabulary to describe the sense of feeling of coming back into my earthly body. But suffice it to say, my guide must have known it to be an ordeal as he stayed with me until he was sure I was all right. But I can say, it was a terrible feeling.
For a while after my guide had gone, I lay upon my bed meditating upon the singularity of the wonderful experiences I had been privileged to enjoy. In humbleness, I poured out the thanks of my heart to my Heavenly Father for these marvelous gifts and blessings. My limbs and joints were stiff for a while until the warmth came back into my body, then all stiffness and pain was gone. I felt that I was well and wanted to get up when my wife got up, but she would not let me. I felt so good and had so much faith, I felt as if I could move a mountain.
I kept my experience to myself as it was so wonderful and sacred to me; I dared not tell anyone, not even my dear wife who knew all my secrets, with no other evidence than my word, it was too sacred for doubt or criticism. I decided to keep it until I had other evidences, as I felt assured I should, for it was of a divine nature and the Lord never does anything half way. I trusted and prayed that he would establish the necessary proof to substantiate my testimony that the truth might be consecrated to all who seek after righteousness.
On the eighth day after this experience, I was very ill. My wife and mother were worried about me and asked if I wanted the elders. I replied that I did if they would come. Many were afraid as it was at the time when so many were dying with the flu. I prayed that two elders would be moved upon to come, and my prayer was answered. When they laid their hands upon my head to seal the anointing, I felt a charge of the spirit. I knew I was to receive a blessing. I did receive a wonderful blessing for after sealing the anointing in the regular way, the elder who was the mouth began to repeat the identical words my guide had used, promising them upon my head by the sealing power of the Priesthood they held. I was again free from pain and felt that I was well. I was so overjoyed that I cried, as I had the first evidence to substantiate my testimony and increase my faith.
Soon after the elders had left, I called my wife to my bed, asking her to sit down as I had something very important to tell her. I told her the whole story the best I could. I know she got the spirit of it because I noticed her eyes filled with tears a number of times. When I had finished, she put her arms around me and said, "Oh, it's wonderful. I know it's from the Lord. Cheer up, you can do it, I know you can."
My wife's attitude gave me much strength and joy, and for several days, I got along fine. However, it looked as if the devil was already after me for as soon as I would get well, something would break out anew.
A few weeks after the above experience, I was so ill I had to be turned on sheets and pillows were propped under my arms and legs to give me rest. I had no control over any part of my body; I could not speak or move my head. My folks became alarmed and again sent for the elders, Bishop George A. Zabriske and his counselor, Orval C. Day, the same man who had given me the blessing before.
They blessed me with a powerful blessing. Our faith was strong enough to drive away part of the pain and infirmity, enough so that I could talk and move myself a little. I felt a strong desire to tell them my experience and prayed earnestly and the Lord was with me as I told the story and when I finished, the Bishop said, "I believe every word and it is the best description I have ever heard of paradise."
The nervous strain in my condition made me very weak, so they anointed and blessed me again. I have heard patriarchs give wonderful blessings, but my Bishop gave one of the greatest and most powerful blessings I have ever heard or felt. We were all so filled with the spirit of God before the blessing that the same outpouring of the spirit rested upon the elders in their blessing. The brethren sealed all the blessings I had been promised in this experience and promised me that I would live to see the fulfillment of every promise, and that this experience would stand as a monument in my life; that I should never forget it and it would remain fresh in my mind; that many would receive comfort and be built up in their faith from these experiences.
When they said "Amen" there was not an ache or a pain in my body. I turned over in my bed alone and took the Bishop's hand in both mine and for several minutes no one in the room could speak, the spirit was so powerful. We were all crying for joy, for it was an outpouring of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. A most wonderful, peaceful feeling remained in the house for days after.
The Bishop said, "This is the greatest outpouring of the Spirit of God I have ever felt. It has indeed been a demonstration to me beyond a doubt, here today, that you were shown these things by the power and will of God."
"That's just the way I feel," Brother Day said. "There is no doubt in my mind of its truth."
In May, 1919, a few months after my experience, I called on Patriarch Warren B. Smith of American Fork, Utah. I had never met him, though I knew him by sight. I introduced myself to him and asked if he would give me a Patriarchal Blessing. He said he would be glad to do so if I would bring with me someone who could write and come on May 4th. Accordingly, I took my wife with me and we went to his home.
He gave me a wonderful blessing, and when he was through, he said, "Brother, that is one of the most wonderful blessings I have ever given. You have a lot to do in this life. You have a wonderful spirit and much is expected of you."
"Brother Smith," I said, "I have had a very remarkable experience. If you have time and would like to hear it, I would like to tell you."
He seemed eager to hear it, so I told the story as nearly as I could. When I came to the place where my guide was giving me my choice of going on the other side or of remaining upon the earth, Brother Smith stopped me. Addressing my wife, he said "Turn back to about the third page and you will find something referring to that very condition." She read the following from the blessing:
"The Lord, thy Savior has changed some of his decrees concerning you that you might have opportunity to prepare thyself for the Master's service both here and hereafter."
"Isn't that marvelous!" exclaimed Brother Smith. "Brother, you are indeed favored of the Lord and should strive to do everything you are called to do. I see now there are a number of things in your blessing that had a relation to many of your experiences." I agreed, for I had noticed this when he was giving the blessing.
Brother Smith, taking me by the right hand of fellowship said, "Brother Graham, by the authority of the Holy Priesthood which I hold as a patriarch, I bless you through your faithfulness that you will have power to resist the powers of evil, that if you do your duty as a servant of God, you shall enjoy every blessing which you have been promised."
It has been nearly fourteen years since I had this experience. Bishop Zabriske's promise has been verified for I have lived again my experience as the Holy Ghost has been my faithful guide and companion. He has brought to my mind in detail the identical experiences shown me by that marvelous guide who was so faithful to me.
Who am I that I can deny having seen and heard these things? I know my guide knows that I know; he was immortal and if I denied them after the many evidences given forth to substantiate my testimony, I fear the wrath of the Almighty would be upon me.
I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I know Jesus is my Savior and my redeemer. I know that His blood will atone for my sins and imperfections, if I trust in Him, love Him and keep His commandments. With that same faith and testimony, I know I saw and heard these things, not with my natural eyes, but with that finer eye. I have this assurance - I know I will receive every blessing promised and inherit that mansion and even many things greater than I saw, if I keep the faith and magnify my callings and responsibilities.
The Savior said, "It hath not entered into the heart of man that which the Father has prepared for them that love Him and keep His commandments."
My humble and sincere prayer is that all who may react this experience will do so with a prayerful heart, without prejudice. I am confident that if they do, they will know of the truth therein. I am persuaded sometimes to believe with him whose ways that the supreme charity in all this world is - to judge not, but to leave the judgment of our fellowmen in the hands of Him who is the great and just judge of all.
I cannot contemplate my membership in the Church, the testimony of the divine authenticity of the work in which we are engaged, the many privileges which have come to me to labor in the advancement of the great cause, these blessed associations with my brethren in the Priesthood, without rendering to God, my Heavenly Father, the gratitude and thanks of my heart.
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