Summarized by Kent Larsen
McKay Diaries Are Missionary Legacy
Deseret News 30Jan00 A2
By Dennis Lythgoe: Deseret News book editor
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The missionary diaries of LDS Church President
David O. McKay have been published by Freethinker Press, providing for
the first time a look at an LDS President during his missionary service.
The Deseret New's Dennis Lythgoe reviewed the book, "What E're Thou Art
Act Well Thy Part: The Missionary Diaries of David O. McKay," the
detailed diary of the years 1897 to 1899 when the 24-year-old future LDS
Church President served a mission to Scotland.
McKay's daily reminisces include the full range of mission experiences
in his day. "McKay spent considerable time blessing the sick, blessing
babies, preaching in open-air meetings, knocking on doors in the rain,
baptizing converts, performing marriages, conducting funerals, writing
poems, consoling widows, nursing sick companions, counseling members,
even some who abused spouses or engaged in drunkenness or immorality,"
writes Lythgoe. Like all missionaries, McKay had both good and bad days.
Lythgoe also recounts two stories about McKay in the article. First, he
tells the story reflected in the book's title, which McKay say in an
inscription over a door in Scotland while he was on his mission. The
inscription became a kind of theme for McKay's life, and he used it
regularly in talks until his death in 1970. Later LDS missionaries
located the inscribed stone that he saw, and it is now part of the
collection of the LDS Church's Museum in Salt Lake City.
The other story tells how McKay nearly perished as he returned home from
his mission. The ship he was on actually hit an iceberg, but avoided
damage because an alert captain reversed the engines quickly prior to
the collision, limiting the damage. The same kind of collision sank the
ship Titanic 13 years later, claiming many lives. McKay's ship's
captain fulfilled a prophecy given to McKay before he left that he would
"go in peace and return in safety."