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Emma’s Compassion and Service

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Details Written by Mike Kennedy Published: 24 November 2009
Emma’s care for the untold numbers of ill and homeless Saints as well as her care for Joseph’s extended family—his parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews—is legend. Emma’s work in the Church naturally included attending to Joseph’s business in his absence and taking care of their children. Her compilation of hymns dated 1835 was actually published in 1836. She continued to collect hymns for additional hymnals until the time Joseph died. According to Nauvoo Temple records, she was baptized for her dead relatives in the Mississippi River in 1840. She manifested courage and intelligence, defending Joseph in her letter to Illinois Governor Carlin. 9 In her office as the first general president of the Relief Society, she set an example of strong leadership. Her instructions on compassionate service set the tone for generations of Relief Society members under the theme she promoted: “Charity Never Faileth.” (See 1 Cor. 13:8.) Emmeline B. Wells, a contemporary of Emma, wrote of her: “Sister Emma was benevolent and hospitable; she drew around her a large circle of friends, who were like good comrades. She was motherly in nature to young people, always had a houseful to entertain or be entertained. She was very high-spirited and the brethren and sisters paid her great respect. Emma was a great solace to her husband in all his persecutions and the severe ordeals through which he passed; she was always ready to encourage and comfort him, devoted to his interests, and was constantly by him whenever it was possible. She was queen in her home, so to speak, and beloved by the people, who were many of them indebted to her for favors and kindness.” The Prophet wrote in his journal, reflecting on a visit from Emma while he was in great danger and difficulty in 1842: “With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and the joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm, and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”