MARY CHARELTON SHARP HARRIS (LARSON)
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This is an incident in the life of Mary C. Harris Larson.
Mary stood looking out of the large window of her home in Plankroad, Ballarat, East Australia. It was a cold bleak Saturday and a strong wind was blowing. Her attention was drawn to a man coming down the street. He was going from house to house passing papers. She thought that it was the water master and wondered why he was coming around at this time of the month. When he came up the walk she saw that it was not the water master but a well dressed young man entirely strange to her. After he had gone she went to the door and picked up the pamphlet he had left. It was about the religion of a people who called themselves Latter Day Saints. It told of a prophet Joseph Smith and it talked of THE BOOK OF MORMON. She became interested although she did not believe these things.
She did not see the man again until the following Wednesday. She was working in a small grocery store when the Missionary entered. "Well young man, what will you have?" asked Mrs. Harris. As a reply the young man gave her a pamphlet. She noted that it was on the same subject as the first one she had received. "I read one of these last week, and I would certainly like to see one of those Mormons." she said smilingly.
"You have your wish, madam," replied the young man. "Do you mean to say that you are a Mormon?" she asked. "I surely do." he replied.
"That is impossible. Why the Mormon people dress in funny clothes and you are dressed as an Englishman." At this the young man burst into laughter, then said, "Pardon me madam, but I just couldn't help it. Yes, I am really a Mormon and the rest of the Mormon people dress as I do."
This rather baffled Mary, but she was not to be defeated so easily. "Do you believe in this prophet this paper tells of?" "I certainly do," replied the Elder.
"This surely isn't true. I have been taught at home and at church that the true prophets died many years ago." The elder responded sincerely that the Mormons fully believe that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that he organized the Latter Day Saint Church through revelation.
"Young man, what is your name?" asked Mary. He responded "I am Elder Charles Fox from Lehi, Utah." "And you have come all the way from America just to teach this religion?" she asked. He answered "yes".
"You must receive a large sum of money for doing this, I imagine. It would be a heavy expense to your church." "No," he said, "You are entirely wrong. It is not a heavy expense to the church neither do we receive a salary. We came over here of our own free will and at our own expense."
"Why we pay our ministers regularly. Surely this religion must have some meaning or you would not sacrifice so much for it." she responded. Mr. Fox saw that he had at last succeeded in catching her interest so he gave her enough material to read throughout the coming week.
At three o'clock that night a lamp was still burning brightly in Mary's window. She closed the last of the tracts she had been reading and turned out the lamp but could not sleep. She lay there in the peacefulness of the night thinking over what she had read. It all seemed very reasonable and she finally decided that it was the most possible and probable solution she had ever found to her problems. During the next few months she read books and talked with the missionaries on different subjects of religion. She invited them to her home and they came every Wednesday and had dinner there. She did some of their washing and helped them in every way she could.
One day after talking to the Elders, she decided to go to America where there would be great opportunities for herself and her children both for religion and for everyday life. She did not tell anyone of her plans and a few days later as if by miracle a woman came to her and offered her reasonable price for her home so she sold it. When her father learned of her plans, he exclaimed "Mary, if you go, I bury you tomorrow." But she did not change her plans and he became very grievous.
One week from the time Mary had made her decision saw her with her three children on the steamer Moana on the way to America and Salt Lake City where she could work in the Mormon temple of God for her husband and child that had passed on and have them sealed to her all time and eternity.
Mary was happy in her new home in spire of the trials and hardships she passed through. The first blow to her happiness came when she learned that her father had died, broken hearted shortly after her departure. Mary worked hard and became successful. She was set apart as president of the Relief Society on the 11th of September 1913 at Garfield, Utah. She married Ola Larson on June 16, 1916. She is now seventy five years of age and lives quietly at her home in Logan, Utah. (This was written in 1932. Mary died in 1933)
This is an antidotal addition to Mary's story:
Mary was ill in the hospital at the same time that her first husband, George Harris, was ill at home. George died and before word reached Mary of his death, she wrote this one last letter to him.
My own darling George,
Just a few lines to cheer you up. I had hoped you would have been quite better by this time, but Maggie tells me you are still ill. You must not get discouraged, darling. God is good and can raise you up with one word. Don't lose heart for you know you will not get well nearly so quickly. I am getting on so nicely that I do not think it will be very long before I can come home. What a happy reunion when we meet again. I feel as though it is almost a lifetime since I saw you. God is dealing with love with us although it is very hard to think so. I am never done praying for you for God to spare you to me and the little ones if it is His Divine will. Are you still in pain? I cannot make out why you are suffering such a long while. It is a comfort to have Maggie in the house. It is such a weight off my mind. Mr. Coutis and Mr. Webb are exceedingly kind. Kiss the dear children for me, the little pets. I miss them. I scarcely remember what the baby is like. Maggie is going to bring him to see me tomorrow if the weather will allow. Now my own loved husband, I will close by sending you heaps of love and kisses and commending you to the love and care of our Heavenly Father, I remain your loving wife.