David B. Haight

Missionary Work—Our Responsibility

A few weeks ago, joy and nostalgia dominated our conversation as Sister Haight and I drove to the airport to see our eleventh grandchild leave for his mission. During our brief visit—with warm greetings and emotional embraces—we recalled some of the historical accounts of how the message of the restoration of the gospel had influenced our family, of how our missionary grandson’s great-great-grandfather, Joseph Toronto, heard and believed the message of the gospel from missionaries in Boston in 1843, 150 years ago.

Joseph Toronto assisted with the building of the Nauvoo Temple. Brigham Young had made a strong appeal on Sunday, July 6, 1845, for the Saints to “remember [and pray for] the temple” and to “pay your tithing.” The Saints were anxious that the temple be finished sufficiently that ordinance work might begin before the exodus westward. More workers and tithing were desperately needed. Joseph Toronto, the new convert, visited Brigham Young after the meeting and declared that “he wanted to give himself and all he had to the kingdom of God.” He handed Brigham Young $2,600 in gold coins (see Church News, 20 June 1981, p. 16). Brigham Young blessed the Italian convert, proclaiming that “he should stand at the head of his race and that neither he nor his family should ever want for bread” (Joseph Toronto: Italian Pioneer and Patriarch, comp. Toronto Family Organization, 1983, p. 10). Later, in 1849, he was called to accompany the new Apostle Lorenzo Snow to his native Italy to open that land for the preaching of the gospel (see Church News, 20 June 1981, p. 16).

We also spoke of Hector C. Haight, another ancestor, called from his home in Farmington, Utah, to preside over the Scandinavian Mission in 1856 with little or no ability to speak Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian. But, trusting in the Lord and with the assistance of the Scandinavian Saints, he accomplished his assignment. He reported in 1858 that “2,610 souls had been baptized . . . and [that] 990 members had emigrated to Zion” (Andrew Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1927, p. 128).

These ancestors, along with many others, gave inspiration and set the precedent of love for the gospel and its divine truth and for missionary service, which our children and grandchildren inherit but must personally acquire for themselves.

Learn more about Joseph Toronto’s missionary service

Learn more about Hector C. Haight’s missionary service