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The Mysterious Stranger - How the Perrys Joined the Church
By Clare O'Kelly

In the year 1830 in a small town in Northern New York, there lived the Perry family. Mr. Perry and his wife had six children. They lived on a farm and worked very hard to take care of the animals and crops. All the children had chores to do each day. After supper at night they sat at the kitchen table while Mother, Rosalie and Amanda washed the dishes. Sometimes Father would light the lantern and read from one of his books. Other times they just talked and sang together.

One rainy evening the family was seated around the table when they heard a strange noise at the door. They heard footsteps coming through the hallway. A strange man, with a flowing white beard appeared at the doorway, carrying a small, black puppy under his arm. He was a traveler and asked if he could stay in their home for the night.

Father invited the stranger to sit down and motioned for fifteen-year-old Rosalie to hang up his hat and coat. A look of astonishment crossed her face as she went to brush the raindrops from his coat.

"His coat is dry!" she whispered to Amanda, her twelve-year-old sister.

"It's raining hard outside," Amanda whispered back. "His coat can't be dry!" She touched the coat. Rosalie was right. The man had walked in from the rain with a dry coat. What a mysterious stranger!

Mother prepared a plateful of food and set it in front of the stranger. He put the little puppy on the floor to play with the children, and thanking Mother, he ate his supper. When he finished eating he asked six-year-old Lorenzo to bring him his knapsack.

Lorenzo brought it to him and the stranger reached inside and pulled out a book. He opened the book and began to read from it. The language sounded much like the scriptures that Father read from the Bible. The stranger said that the words in the book were the words of God. He told Father that soon this book would be published and many people would be able to read it. He told Father he should try very hard to get a copy of the book to read.

The next morning after breakfast the stranger prepared to leave. He said goodbye to all the children and to Mother and Father. Then he opened the door and left. Lorenzo ran to the window to watch him walk away.

"Where did he go?" he cried.

Everyone crowded around the window. The man had disappeared! Orrin and Rosalie ran outside and looked up and down the road, but could see no sign of the stranger. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air!

Many months later Father came home from town one day. He told Mother about a missionary he had met in town. The missionary sold him a book. After supper everyone sat down to hear Father read from the new book. Father opened the book and began to read. A strange feeling filled the small kitchen.

Mother whispered, "Why, that's the book the mysterious stranger read to us."

"What's it called?" asked Rosalie.

Father turned the book over. "The Book of Mormon" he told her.

Every night the family gathered together to read the Book of Mormon. Soon they had read the whole book. Father and Mother believed the book was true. They asked the missionaries to baptize them and their children. After they were baptized they often held meetings in their home. Later they joined the Saints in the west.

This is a true story about Gustavus Adolphus Perry, his wife, Eunice Wing and their children and how they learned about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, soon after it was restored and organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

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