In 1918 the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints witnessed a remarkable and faith-instilling demonstration of the Lord’s healing power through the righteous exercise of the priesthood. That fall a flu epidemic that was afflicting people around the world finally reached Cape Town, South Africa. It was recorded that in the first week the deadly disease took the lives of five thousand people in Cape Town alone.
President Nicholas G. Smith, who presided over the mission at the time, said, in describing the insidious killer virus, that “it invaded the mission house—five of the missionaries were down—I remember Aaron U. Merrill of Cache Valley [Utah] and I were the only two left upon our feet!” President Smith then said to Elder Merrill, “Are you prepared to go with me through the city blessing the people?” And Elder Merrill answered, “I will go as far as I can.” And they left.
President Smith concluded his account of that exhausting and harrowing episode by saying that he and his companion “went from door to door that day, and of the fifty-seven who had been smitten with that disease, every Latter-day Saint was healed. Not one died.…”