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Howells, William - Letter to Brother Davis - 1849/09/10


From Zion's Trumpet, page 171-174

St. Servan, Brittany, September 10, 1849.

DEAR BROTHER DAVIS, I received a letter yesterday from my family containing a pleasant account of their comfortable situation in the temporal and spiritual sense.  The great goodness of God to my family during the few months that I have been away from them, makes my spirit rejoice in God, my Savior.  In the letter, you requested me to write a little on my course together with the great goodness of God to his servant among strangers in a foreign country.  I shall be pleased to do that in Ebenezer out of praise to Immanuel who has been salvation to me in every situation and circumstance.

Upon searching a little from the notes of the day book (d'ue maniere memorable), I discover un registre for baptizing a brother on the 30th of June, making all I baptized in Wles in a few months 110!  And upon gazing at them in the meeting of the Saints the last Sabbath (July 1) before leaving, I saw some as elders, others as priests, others as teachers, and others as deacons; some with the gift of healing so filled with faith, so that they could testify that through the ordinance of God had healed them every time they had become sick; others with the spirit of prophecy revealing wondrous things to the Church; others speaking in new tongues, and others interpreting; some of them singing through the Spirit in a pure, heavenly way, and after that singing with understanding to the point of making the muse of the poets secondary only to the glory of the spiritual praise of the Most High and that from the mouths of small children.  The sight, together with the consideration that it was my last for some time, created within me indescribable feelings.  In the journal I find the following entry that I wrote:  July 2.  Last day before starting on a mission to France; oh, how hard to part with beloved wife and little children, and leave them in the midst of persecuting enemies leave her and her young family to be provided for from a business that calls for the presence of a person who understands the nature of such an occupation leave them in the midst of the plague that is reigning with deadly sorrow next door on the right and left, &c.  But God commands me to go! His servants command me to go!  After taking my leave of my family on the morning of the 3rd of July, I arrived safely in Swansea, and I slept in the same house in which my dear father in the gospel, Capt. D. Jones, had rested.  I departed the next day in the same steamboat in which he departed with the brethren to Liverpool on their journey northward to Zion.  My mind was drawn toward there; but the direction of my mission took me the opposite way!  Not to Zion now, but the country of the Catholics, with the spiritual armor to struggle with thyself; and a still voice said, "Do not fear, little flock, behold I am with thee."  When I perceived the columns of the walls of one of the chief towns of Babylon commerce (i.e., Liverpool), solemn feelings possessed me upon thinking that I was coming near to the town, the street, the house and the room that contained the dwelling place of one of the Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I shall not easily forget the beauty I felt in company of this good man, Orson Pratt, together with the heavenly teaching I received.  With respect to his size, his looks and appearance, he is very similar to our dear brother Wm. Phillips; and with respect to the manner of his demeanor like the heroic brother aforenoted.  My heart now leaps with joy, upon thinking that such a pair who are younger than Jesus, are leading the brave hosts in Wales and England.

After traveling in a few days about eight hundred miles I arrived on Monday morning the 9th, "droit de rivage" at the dock of France, and I had a beautiful view of the town of Havre, containing about 60,000 inhabitants, between one and two thousand vessels in its harbour (sic), fifty of which were extremely large ones from America, the continent of Ephraim.  Even though the French made some kind of law containing "toleration," yet, according to the meaning of the word by Walker, it is contradictory.  "Toleration : allowance given to that which is not approved."  It is not allowed, without danger, to gather a congregation together or to preach on the Square, Place, Piers, &c., where thousands gather together to walk, sit, and entertain themselves by playing in many ways and means.  It is dangerous to distribute the smallest treatise, if there is in it anything against their goddess; but I escaped in Havre, in spite of distributing during the month that I was there about 1,500 pamphlets in French and English, Voice of Warning, Spencer's Letters, Book of Mormon, &c.  I had the privilege of baptizing one young man who was skilled in French, Italian, Creole, English, and Spanish; and there are good prospects for baptizing others, among them a minister of one of the churches, &c.

On the 3rd of August, I left the town to visit my family in Wales.  It is likely that the missionaries of God in the last days will travel quickly; so it was this time anyway.  Early Friday morning the steamship left the shores of France; and after landing in Southampton (over a hundred miles) I went on the train to Salisbury, from there on the coach to Bath, then on the train to Bristol, and from there on the steamboat to Cardiff by ten, the afternoon of the same day, and home in Aberdare by eleven the next morning.  Oh, how lovely it was to see loving faces and enjoy the company of scores of Saints of Aberdare in a heavenly meeting around the table of the Lord at two o-clock on the afternoon of the Sabbath.  This branch continues to flourish with a remarkable success, in unity and love for one another, striving day and night with their dear president, Joseph Davies, to plant the godly principles in nearly everyone throughout the place.  On Sunday morning, the 19th of August, at five o-clock, I had the honor of baptizing a gentleman on his own land, and confirming him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  He is a handsome young man, intelligent, and he shall perform great work, I hope, for his God.  I went on the train to preach at eleven in Cardiff, and in the evening at six in English.  Brother J. Phillips, Pontytypridd, preached splendidly in Welsh to a simple congregation listening attentively.  I received great kindness from all the Saints, especially from brother Ellis.  I departed Cardiff Monday morning, and arrived at Jersey Island Tuesday morning.  I went in the evening with brother Dunbar, the president, about four miles into the countryside to preach.  Good brother De la Mere preached in French; and after the meeting was over four were baptized in the sea.  The next night I went with brother Dunbar to St. Albans; after the meeting five went down into the water.  One was convinced through reading one of the French pamphlets that were printed in Merthyr.  I had already presented brother Dunbar with 400 of the French treatises, and great is the good they are doing.  In one place an open space to preach; in anther place bringing some to search further for the truths in the preaching meetings, &c.  Thursday afternoon I preached to a group of Jerseyites in English.  It was very strange to me, for two years ago I preached for the Baptist church here at the request of the minister, who, I was sorry to hear, just got out of jail!  After meeting six gave their names to be baptized tomorrow night.  I arrived at St. Malo in France, Friday afternoon.  And now I am staying at St. Servan, a town near St. Malo.  I have visited fifty noble English families with the tracts.  Already I have in this place kind friends.  That is good for me, for there is animosity here against our dear religion, as there is there.  All the Protestant ministers together with the Papist priests and all their members join together with one heart and hand to persecute the 'false prophet,' according to their language.  I had to go to the English consul Saturday morning for counsel, because the persecution is hot!  I preached Sunday night to a noble family in their drawing room.  A young preacher was present who preaches in French in St. Malo.  He was satisfied and promised to spend the next Sunday afternoon in my company.

There is no need to beg for a share of prayers of the Saints in behalf of their brother in a strange country; rather I shall thank them for their revered memory of me at their prayer thrones continually.  May the Lord repay them through enabling me to send the news to them that a host is beginning to come into the kingdom.

All yours in Christ,

Wm. Howells



Howells, William


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