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ADVERSITY FORGED A BOND BETWEEN PROPHET, FRIEND

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Benjamin [Franklin Johnson] arrived in Commerce at a time of general sickness and death among the saints. Many had already died and almost everyone was sick with chills or typhoid malarial fever. Every house was a hospital, but without nurses for the sick. There were hardly enough healthy ones to bury the dead.

As Benjamin had cared for the sick at the Kirtland Poor Camp, he knew what should be done and was immediately called upon by Joseph to help. He later wrote: "I had come to Nauvoo, which it was then beginning to be called, on horseback, and as houses of the Brethren were scattered for some distance up and down the river I kept my horses under the saddle and rode from house to house giving medicines . . . caring for and nursing the sick and for six weeks did not take off my boots or coat for one night's sleep."About this time the Prophet "had a violent attack of the prevailing sickness and as Emma was in no degree able to care for him," he chose Benjamin as his constant nurse and companion. Regarding his care of the Prophet, Benjamin wrote: "It wholly devolved upon me, and both day and night, through a period of little less than two weeks, I was hardly absent from his room . . . and if any sleep came to me it was while lying upon his bed or sitting in my chair. . . ."

Soon after the Prophet's recovery, Benjamin "came apparently nigh unto death through violent attack of the fever," and "his comfort was kindly looked after by the Prophet."

Near the first of October 1839, Benjamin received a letter from his family informing him that his mother was very sick and advising him to come as soon as possible, because it was doubtful that she would recover. Out of concern for Benjamin's weakened condition, Joseph gave him a blessing prior to his departure from Nauvoo.

Benjamin recalled the blessing in these words: ". . . Placing his hands upon my head, he seemed to pour out his soul in blessing me. He told the Lord I had been faithful to care for others, that I was now worn and sick, and that on my journey I would need His care, and he asked that a special guardian might go with me from that day and stay with me through all my life."

This incident strengthened the bond of love and friendship between the Prophet and Benjamin. Throughout his life Benjamin cherished this close association and friendship with Joseph Smith. - "Benjamin Franklin Johnson in Nauvoo: a Friend, Confidant and Defender of the Prophet," E. Dale LeBaron, assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine, BYU