July 25, 2011

Mary and Caroline Rollins Save the Book of Commandments

Today my story is one you may have heard before.  Mary Elizabeth Rollins and her sister Caroline were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early on.  They lived in Jackson County, Missouri in 1833 when the church was headquartered there, and Joseph Smith was receiving revelations, writing them down so that they could be published.  But relations with the non-members in the area were strained.  Mary and Caroline saw homes burned and people tarred and feathered by angry mobs.  Usually there was nothing they could do about the terrible things that were happening around them.

The day that the mobs attacked the printing press was different.  Mary had seen the large sheets of paper that, upon folding, sewing and cutting, would become the Book of Commandments.  When she saw the printing press thrown out into the street and sheets of paper with it, she knew what she should do.  

Mary wrote, “My sister Caroline and myself were in a corner of a fence watching them; when they spoke of the commandments I was determined to have some of them. Sister said if I went to get any of them she would go too, but said "They will kill us." While their backs were turned, prying out the gable end of the house, we went, and got our arms full, and were turning away, when some of the mob saw us and called on us to stop, but we ran as fast as we could. Two of them started after us. Seeing a gap in a fence, we entered into a large cornfield, laid the papers on the ground, and hid them with our persons. The corn was from five to six feet high, and very thick; they hunted around considerable, and came very near us but did not find us.”

The girls risked their lives but saved what would later become part of the Doctrine and Covenants.  Some say that it was the first half—from Section 1 to 64.  Part of the saved papers were made into two little books and presented to Mary and Caroline as a token of gratitude for what they had done.  Had they not rescued these pages, we might not have half of the Doctrine and Covenants today.

Saving the pages took courage and faith in God, that God would protect them and help them succeed.  Sometimes we forget to rely on Heavenly Father for help when we can’t do any more ourselves to make things go right.  I’m glad these two girls did!  

Story found at:  Gospel Art Picture Kit, Picture 409, “Saving the Book of Commandments” explanation on back

Autobiography of Mary E. Lightner (1818-1913)  "Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner," The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 17 (July 1926):193-205, 250- found at http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/MLightner.html

Allison Winn, lemonade stands and doggie biscuits

Today I want to share a story that is kind of cute, I mean ‘puppy dog cute.’  Allison Winn was 7 years old when she found out she had a brain tumor.  Suddenly her life changed from playing with friends to undergoing treatments.  You probably can relate.  Her treatments left her tired and weak.  Some days all she could do was lie in her bed and rest.  Doing this every day made her sad after a while.

Her Mom was worried about her and mentioned her sadness to her doctor.  The doctor recommended that they give her a dog!  A group of women nearby had been training unwanted dogs to be companions to sick and disabled people.  Once they are trained, the women choose a home for them by looking at applications.  Allison’s mom filled out an application and hoped they’d be chosen to get a dog.

They were!   A little Bishon Frise (pronounced ‘bee-shon free-zay’) dog was given to Allison, and she named her Coco.  And Coco helped Allison feel better almost immediately.  

This makes a really ‘puppy dog cute’ story, but it doesn’t end there.  After Allison overcame her cancer and was feeling better when she was 9, she started thinking of other kids who were battling cancer.  She wanted to help them get puppies so they could feel better too.  Allison found out that it cost more than $300 to take an unwanted dog and train it to be gentle and helpful around sick kids.  So she started looking for ways to make money.

She started baking dog biscuits to sell at a lemonade stand.  She made up the recipe herself, using flour, bouillon cubes, powdered milk and oil.  They cut them out to look like doggy bones.  (I’m pretty sure she had some help coming up with that recipe.)  Allison and her family made thousands of them and sold them at her lemonade stand at her house, and even persuaded some local stores to sell them.  Over one summer, she raised over $1000, enough to train three dogs for children fighting cancer.  She has seen them placed with children, just as she wanted.

I think this is great because Allison was given a gift that meant a great deal to her.  When she was able, she turned around and made that gift available to others like herself.  Even though it cost money that she didn’t have, she came up with a plan to make money and went to work.  Some may have told her it was impossible but she did it anyway.


Mitchell, Kirk.  "Cancer Survivor, 9, Funds Support Dog for 2 Year Old."  The Denver Post 21 Oct 2009:  n. page. web. 24 July 2011.

July 18, 2011

Ellen Breakell Neibaur's Precious Shoes

By Melanie Jensen Johnson
This story has been a favorite of my kids for years.  One of my good friends told me that this little story spoke volumes about the character of our Ellen.  I must agree.  I retell it here gladly.
Ellen and Alexander Neibaur both came from wealthy families, so their needs were always met.  When the gospel came to their little town of Preston England, they came to know of it's truthfulness and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1838.  They were some of the first to immigrate to America, to join the Saints gathering to Zion.  They settled in Nauvoo, home of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  They became good friends with Joseph and Emma Smith.  Alexander, fluent in 7 languages, taught Joseph German and Hebrew. 

When the Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo by angry mobs in 1846, Ellen had a ten-day old baby and six other children.  Ellen was in no condition to travel and soon became sick.  When they reached safety in Winter Quarters, a sister cared for Ellen, putting her to bed and caring for her baby until she was better.  They joined the Brigham Young Company crossing the plains.  Ellen drove a pair of lead cows most of the way, standing next to them to guide them along.  Some of the time, she held that tiny baby in her other arm, as the baby was sick a lot of the time.  Camping each night, Ellen milked the cows and prepared their meals. 

After reaching Salt Lake City, they struggled to survive living in a tent for the first year.  Often they went to bed hungry.  But they settled in and Alexander established himself as a Dentist and the family had food once again.  As he began to bring in some money, he bought Ellen a new pair of shoes.  Hers had worn completely out walking the long way to Utah.  Ellen was so happy to have new shoes that she began knitting herself a pair of stockings to wear with them.  Using light blue and white stripes, she soon finished her stockings and wore them happily.

Not long after, men came knocking on her door asking for donations.  A new company of pioneers were coming into town and they were gathering supplies for the refugees.  Alexander told the men that they had nothing to give.  "Yes, we must give something," she said.  Ellen took off her lovely new stockings and shoes and gave them to the men. She wrapped her own feet in rags once more.  It was hard for her to give up her shoes, but she remembered how kindly they had been received when they arrived in the valley.  And all the kindness the saints had shown her all along the journey west. 

When the next company arrived, the people of Salt Lake came out to meet them.  Ellen was overjoyed to see one of her old friends from England among the Saints.  Looking down, Ellen noticed that her good friend was wearing the very shoes and stockings she had donated a few weeks before. Her sacrifice had become a great blessing to not just any newcomer, but to a dear friend.  

Disclaimer:  Author did her best to tell this accurately using the resources available at the time of writing, and is solely responsible for content.


Carpenter, Ellen Wilde.  'The Story of Ellen Breakell Neibaur.' Neibaur Family Web Page.  Bev Matheson.  17 July 2011 http://www.neibaur.org/journals/ellen.htm

Nathan Neibaur, Strong Soul

We don't know much about Alexander Neibaur's father, but what we do know shows a strong character and unweilding will.  His greatest hour was when he stood up to Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. 
Nathan Neibaur was a prosperous Jew.  He spoke several languages and was trained as a physician and surgeon.  Nathan Neibaur and his wife Rebecca were living within the walls of the fortress Ehrenbreitstein when their son Alexander was born in 1808.  This fort was built on the Rhine river, and at various times throughout early history, was claimed as part of France and Prussia.  Today it's part of the city of Koblentz, Germany. 

Nathan served in the French army as physician and surgeon (some say for a time as Napoleon's personal physician), but his greatest service was to Napoleon Bonaparte as a linguist and interpreter.  Years later, when Napoleon's tattered regime began to falter, the great Emperor came back to the fortress at Ehrenbreitstein and approached his old friend, Nathan Neibaur.  He offered him large sums of money and other perks to come out of retirement and work for him again.  This time as a spy. 

Nathan would not entertain the offer.  He was opposed to Napoleon's principles and his integrity wouldn't let him serve a leader with which he didn't agree.  Napoleon could conquer most of Europe, but not the determined mind of Nathan Neibaur.

Nathan Neibaur, our Jewish Grandfather, passed on this determination and integrity to his son Alexander.  Alexander embraced what he determined was right without regard to pressure from others.  Hopefully we can also claim these traits as Nathan Neibaurs' posterity.

Disclaimer:  This was written using resources available at the time of writing, in good faith.  Author is solely responsible for content.

Works Cited:

Bassett, Theda. Grandpa Neibaur was a Pioneer. Salt Lake City: Artistic Printing, 1988.

Carter, Kate. "The Jews in Early Utah, Alexander Neibaur, The Mormon." Carter, Kate. Treasures of Pioneer History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1952. 333-340.

Hayward, C. Lynn. Notes from the Life of Alexander Neibaur. 30 Jan 2009 .

Alexander Neibaur's Quest for the Truth

By Melanie Jensen Johnson
This is one of my favorite conversion stories.  Not only was his conversion one of the earliest in this dispensation, but he became integrally part of the building up of the kingdom.  And he fulfilled ancient prophecies in his conversion.  It's a great story; a good one to cut my teeth on.  (Get it?)

Alexander Neibaur was raised in the Jewish faith in a devout family in France, during the Napoleonic era.  Alexander's physician-father sent him to school to become a Rabbi.  Here he was schooled in the Jewish faith and the Talmud.  But Alexander wasn't satisfied with what he was learning, so he dropped out.  He studied to be a Dentist at the University of Berlin.  After graduating, he traveled around Europe, looking for a place to set up a practice.  Instead he found Christianity!  Converting to Christianity meant departing the Jewish faith.     

He chose Preston England to set up a Dental practice, a move that would prove to be important to his future.  He met his future wife, Ellen Breakel, in Preston.  They married in 1834.  He had been having dreams and visions, where he saw a strange book, a beautiful building he wanted to enter but couldn't and an angel.  

In July 1837 the first Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to Preston, preaching near a large gathering hall called the 'Cock Pit.'  The fame of these Mormons spread quickly, prompting discussions among neighbors as they performed their daily chores.  A neighbor of Ellen's asked if she had heard about the 'new ministers from America who claimed to have seen angels' while they were cleaning their front steps.  Alexander, hearing from the house, asked more of this neighbor woman.  She gave him the address of the Elders, and Alexander ran to find them. Finding Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Hyde and Joseph Fielding, he asked if they had a book.  He was referring to the strange book he had seen in vision.  If this was the right church, it would match what he had seen in his dreams.  They indeed had a Book of Mormon.

Alexander couldn't eat or sleep for the three days it took him to read the Book of Mormon.  Finishing, he asked the Elders if he could be baptized; they counseled him to wait until he learned more to prepare for this important ordinance.  He used this time to help Ellen.  She wasn't so sure.  Alexander wanted Ellen to read the Book of Mormon so she could know of the truthfulness of the restored gospel, as he did.  She wasn't unsupportive of Alexander, just personally disinterested.  She said it was a 'pretty story' but wouldn't go any further.  Alexander persisted, reading aloud from the pages of the Book of Mormon to her in the evenings well into the night.  Finally, she awoke in the middle of the night after dreaming of seeing Willard Richards' face among clouds.  She took that to mean that she should pay heed to what he had taught her.  She listened to Alexander read the Book of Mormon with an open heart.  On April 9, 1838, both Alexander and Ellen Neibaur were baptized by Isaac Russell in the River Ribble nearby.  The family finally had the whole truth!

The water would have been extremely cold in April's England, but their friendships and associations would turn out to be colder.  Alexander and Ellen's friends and associated did not approve of their decision to join the Mormons.  Alexander's dental practice suffered, and their friendships became strained.  The Neibaurs immigrated to America to join the body of the saints, where they became close friends with Joseph Smith and his family, as well as Brigham Young and his family.  There, they entered the Holy Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, recognizing it as the beautiful building he saw in his dreams and wanted to enter.  

Alexander Neibaur was the first Jewish male convert to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  His conversion was the first of many to fulfill the prophecy of Nephi, found in 2 Nephi 29: 13 and 2 Nephi 30:7.

And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites (the Book of Mormon) and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews (The Bible); And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall become a delightsome people.

His joy at finding the true church was evident in the hymn he wrote, "Come, Thou Glorious Day of Promise."  The first line must express well his feelings of joy-- 'Come, thou glorious day of promise; come and spread thy cheerful ray, when the scattered sheep of Israel shall no longer go astray, when hosannas with united voice they'll cry.'

Alexander Neibaur was guided by God to find the truth he sought.  He was open to the inspiration he received and acted upon it.  Embracing the truth separated him from his previous family, friends and business associates, but opened up new friendships and family relationships that now extend into eternity.  More importantly, it changed his families' lives forever.  As a descendant of Alexander and Ellen Neibaur, we are the grateful recipients of this gospel through their sacrifices.  

Disclaimer:  This was written in good faith using the resources available at the time of writing.  Author is solely responsible for content.


Backman, Milton V. Jr. Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration. Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1983.

Bassett, Theda. Grandpa Neibaur was a Pioneer. Salt Lake City: Artistic Printing, 1988.

Bohi, Mrs. Mazie. "Pioneer Dentists and Druggists." 

Carpenter, Ellen Wilde. The Story of Ellen Breakel Neibaur. 17 July 2011 .

Carter, Kate B. Treasures of Pioneer History, Volume 4. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1956. 76-78.

Carter, Kate. "The Jews in Early Utah, Alexander Neibaur, The Mormon." Carter, Kate. Treasures of Pioneer History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1952. 333-340.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Hymns. Deseret Book Company.  1948.  240.

Hayward, C. Lynn. Notes from the Life of Alexander Neibaur. 30 Jan 2009 .

Neibaur, Alexander. Diary of Alexander Neibaur. 17 July 2011 .

Odgen, D. Kelly. "Two from Judah Minister to Joseph." Porter, Larry C. Regional Studies in LDS History: Illinois. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1995. 232-237.

Woods, Fred E. "A Mormon and Still a Jew: The Life of Alexander Neibaur." Mormon Historical Studies Volume 7 No. 1-2 Spring/Fall 2006: 24.

July 17, 2011

Hobie Call Gave Spartan Races a Run for Their Money

Today I found a hero from South Jordan, Utah!  It’s a cool story about determination…
Hobie Call is a 34 year old father of 5 children who services Air Conditioners In South Jordan for a living.  He also designs energy efficient houses, ones that will use less energy to heat and cool.  And he’s a runner.  He runs marathons and other events to keep himself in shape. 
He started running when he was just a boy and he was hooked.

Lee Benson wrote, “All his life Hobie has been running. He ran his first marathon in St. George when he was 9. His dad, Michel, was a 2:34 marathoner, and Hobie just picked up the pace. In high school in Star Valley, Wyo., where he grew up after being born in Provo, he used to win races by such a wide margin he'd cross the finish line backwards. He was state champion at 1,600 and 3,200 meters. At the College of Southern Idaho he was all-American in both track and cross country. He clocked a 3:57 mile, a 14-minute 5K and a sub-29 10K. In the 2007 Top of Utah Marathon in Logan he ran 2:16:39, at altitude no less, to qualify for the Olympic Trials. His lifelong goal has been to become the first human to run a sub-two-hour marathon, but jobs, moves, injuries, life, and somebody faster — obstacles, in other words — always got in the way."  (Benson)

He heard about a competition called ‘Spartan Races’ where you not only run, but jump through flames, crawl under barbed wire and solve Rubics Cubes, all mid race.  Sounded cool to him.  But when he heard about this years’ extra prize, he decided to compete.  This year, the founder of the races announced that if someone could win all of this year’s races, they’d award him $100,000.
Hobie wanted that $100,000 so he could build his energy efficient home for his family.  So in January, he entered his first race and won.  He won the first 6 of the 6 races he’d competed in so far.
After this 6th win, the founder got scared.  He offered $20,000 to the first competitor to beat Hobie in any of the upcoming races, so he can’t win the $100,000.  He said he doesn’t want to pay out that grand prize.  He never expected anyone to win it.  It just couldn’t be done.  That was before Hobie started competing in them!  It’s really was not fair that the founder is rooting against Hobie, but life isn’t fair.  Hobie said he didn’t mind that the odds were stacked against him.  He would meet the challenge.   He said, "Apparently, some time in high school or college, they sent out a memo saying 'no, you're not going to be great, you're just going to be regular like everybody else;' I must have missed that day of school because I still believe." (Kirkland)
In June, the hardest race—the Death Race came up.  He spent hours digging up a tree stumps, running while carrying them,  Last year it took 28 hours for the winner to finish.  This year, they expected only 10 of the 200 competitors to finish at all.  Several hours into the race, Hobie realized he wouldn’t win, therefore wouldn’t get the $100,000, and he was freezing.  His low body fat made it impossible for him to handle the freezing temperatures.  He dropped out.  He competed in the latest Spartan race on July 9th in Midway, Utah and won again.
One might argue that he has no reason to continue to participate in the Spartan Races, now that the cash prize is out of reach.  But Hobie enjoys them.  He said it’s like going to Disneyland!  And he’s now a celebrity; people all over the country root for him.  Spartan Race officials say that Hobie is their ‘superstar’ and that he is like an ambassador for them.   But he can also be an ambassador to all who set high goals for themselves, stumble, get up and keep going.
What I like about Hobie is that he is still pushing himself, succeeding in these challenging races, even though he can’t win the prize.  We can’t win all of our battles, or races.  But we can keep trying and win the ones we CAN win.   


Albergotti, Reed.  Grueling Race Puts Up Obstacles, Especially for One Man.  Utah Dad Wows 'Spartan' Circuit; Now $100,000 Hangs in Balance.”  Wall Street Journal June 25, 2011:  1A.  Print.

Benson, Lee.  “South Jordan’s Holbrook Hobie Call Gaining Notoriety by Being the Nations Best Obstacle Racer.”  Deseret News 3 July 2011: n. page. Web. 17 July 2011

Kirkland, Tom.  “Hobie Calls Looks to Conquer Spartan Races.”  KSL.com Sports  25 Apr 2011: n. pag. Webn. 17 July 2011.

See also www.HobieCall.com for all of the articles written about him.

July 10, 2011

Klitschko Brothers Dominate Wrestling

This week I wanted to tell you about another set of brothers who helped each other do amazing things.  Ukrainian brothers Vitali and  Wladimir Klitschko dominate the Heavyweight Boxing scene.  Literally.  Between the two of them, they are the champions of all 5 boxing titles available worldwide.  A few weeks ago, Wladimir beat the last true contender so easily that the fans were somewhat bored.  Now Wladimir, 35, is going to be named 'Super Champion' because no one can beat him.  And at 35 years old, he isn't ready to retire.
Why would the boxing world do this?  Normally, when you have two fighters who hold all of the world boxing titles between them, you'd have them fight each other to see who is the Champion of all.  But that's where the problem lies:  these brothers won't fight each other.  They promised their mom when they were little boys that they wouldn't fight, and they are keeping their promise.  With that promise, they decided to help each other succeed in the ring instead.  When one is boxing, the other brother is his ringside coach.
When asked if they would fight each other, Wladimir said they would never do it because it would break his mother's heart.  And so, as one writer put it, maybe the answer to the question "Who is the greatest Heavyweight Boxer of all time?" is not one but both Klitschko brothers!  (Cooper)

Vitali, the older brother, is the first professional world champion fighter who holds a PhD degree. That gave him the nickname "Dr. Ironfist."   He currently holds the WBD Championship title. Wladimir, the younger brother, is the current WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO Heavyweight Champion.  He also holds a PhD degree. His nickname is "Dr. Steelhammer."
Both brothers speak several languages and play Chess like champions.
Their chess game has become a vital part of their fighting strategies.  Vitali said, "Chess is similar to boxing.  You have to develop a strategy and you need to think two or three steps ahead about what  your opponent is doing.  You have to be smart."(Wikipedia, Vitali Klitschko)  Indeed, that strategic mindset has foiled many of their opponents, who just try to beat them up.  Vitali and Wladimir play with their opponents, like a cat plays with a mouse before he eats him.
I like this story because it shows that boys can keep promises that they make to their mothers!  And it shows us brothers can share something as 'unsharable' as world domination of a sport.


Cooper, Paul.  “The Klitschko Brothers—Unifying Heavyweight Boxing.”  Boxing Herald.com  30 June 2011:  n. page. web. 23 Aug 2012.

“Klitschko Brothers” Wikipedia 24 Jul 2012:  n. page. web. 23 Aug 2012.
“Vitali Klitschko” Wikipedia 21 Aug 2012:  n. page. web. 23 Aug 2012.
“Wladimir Klitschko” Wikipedia 23 Aug 2012:  n. page. web. 23 Aug 2012.
Warner, Rick.  “Giant Klitschko Brothers Promised Mom Not To Fight Each Other.” Bloomberg  27 Apr 2011: n. page. web. 23 Aug 2012.