Early missionary journey to Sonora

A missionary party entered Mexico in 1875 and reported optimistically on prospects for the Church in Mexico. So the following year, Brigham Young called a second group, which included some of the same missionaries, to return and this time penetrate more deeply into the country. He asked them to contact and preach to the Yaqui Indians.

These missionaries, James Z. Stewart and his brother Isaac, and Helaman Pratt, Meliton Trejo Gonzalez, Louis Garff and George Terry, carried with them translated sections of the Book of Mormon. They arrived at Tucson, Ariz., in January of 1876 where they struggled to earn funds to continue their journey toward Sonora. Elders Trejo and Garff left to teach the Papago Indians while the others worked in a mine.

Elders Pratt and Terry, and Elders Trejo and Garff arrived in Hermosillo and worked from April 16 to May 28, 1877. Their labors were soon rewarded. Elder Garff recorded that on May 20, they baptized Jose Epifanio Jesus and on May 24, baptized Jose Severo Rodriguez, Maria Ta, Cruz Parra and Jose Vicente Parra.

"Here we enjoyed the fruits of the Holy Spirit abundantly, despite the persecution that we had in this place," wrote Elder Garff. "We were stoned 17 times while walking the streets or wherever they found us."

After leaving Hermosillo, Elders Pratt and Terry stopped to visit the American consul, who warned against visiting the Yaquis. The Yaquis, he said, were in the practice of killing those who penetrated their borders if they had any connection with the Mexican government or American industrialists, who had treated the Yaqui people with great inhumanity.

The intrepid missionaries left the consul and traveled by boat across the gulf to the Yaqui lands. When Elders Pratt and Terry arrived in a village, the Yaquis were having a fiesta. The missionaries boldly sent a message that they wished to speak to the chief. They were bound and taken into the middle of the group, where they were invited to take a seat and present their business. They asked to speak to the head chief but were told he was 65 kilometers farther. They were denied access and warned to leave while they could, and to not come back. The missionaries quickly left, feeling the hand of Providence had preserved them.

— Museo Mormonismo

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