In my last post, we explored three ways in which Mormons are peculiar. For me, these significant three are like finding a treasure after a life-long search. They’re why my ancestors decided to be Mormons, why anyone has decided to be a Mormon, and certainly why I’m a Mormon. To illustrate, I’ll share the story of Wandle Mace, my great-great grandfather.
Wandle (pronounced not like magic “wand” but like “band”, rhyming with “candle” or “handle”) grew up in the early 1800s and was taught to read by reading the scriptures. In his journal, he records that he had memorized the New Testament by the time he was twelve years old. While in his day that was unusual, I know of others of that period who achieved the same goal, so it appears it was more common then than now, and with no TV, more achievable. For example, we know high schoolers today in the Amish/Mennonite communities of Oklahoma and Arkansas who memorize the New Testament before they graduate. Because of his education at his mother’s knee, Wandle knew that the many churches he attended around him did not teach the same things he knew for himself were in the Bible, and for years he searched for a church that taught those same things. He was expelled from some of them for teaching things from the New Testament that conflicted with their teachings, but he held to the things he knew to be true.
Eventually, Parley P. Pratt knocked on Wandle’s door, talking about a church that matched in every respect the teachings Wandle had learned as a boy, the three same teachings that Elder Holland described. Wandle explained to Parley that while he was glad finally to find someone who taught the truths found in the New Testament, that fact alone did not give Parley the authority that Jesus Christ held allowing him to teach these truths. Wandle said that, before they were to continue on discussion, he would need to know that they possessed this authority from God.
Three months later, when Wandle’s baby Charles took sick, Wandle and his wife called in the elders to bless and heal Charles. Parley returned, Charles was healed, and Wandle and his family decided in their hearts that this church indeed included the power and authority originally established by Jesus Christ. It was insufficient to teach the proper things; Wandle knew that they had to be taught with proper authority in order to be from God. And Wandle recognized that the holy priesthood, which had been restored to the earth by those who held it anciently, signaled the return of divine authorization, for which he had been watching and waiting for many years.
Wandle was not alone. People before him and after had similar experiences regarding authority. If you wish, feel free to view the experiences of Vincenzo di Francesca, which are similar to Wandle’s, in the movie How Rare a Possession—The Book of Mormon. (Length: 63:19.)
I will always be grateful for great people in my life who are willing to teach things they feel down deep, even when it’s difficult, even when people around them disagree with them. Like them, I feel that it is important to stand strong for correct principles, even against tremendous odds, and I am glad to see my adult children all standing tall for what they have learned for themselves to be true. Wandle would be pleased.