There Is a Land

The following story is adapted from the booklet, True Stories, pages 88-93, by Ruth Holman. It was printed in Stepping Stone, an RLDS periodical, dated February 23, 1947. It’s included in this work because of the great value it has in testifying of what is waiting in heaven for us.

Some people believe there is no life after death, that man sleeps, knows nothing, but this is untrue. Dr. Richard Eby, a Baptist who fell off a balcony onto concrete and lost the top of his head, all of the blood in his body, and was in the morgue ready for burial.  He walked on heaven's lucious landscape, picking flowers and hearing beautiful music.  Dr. Eby was resurrected to testify of heaven.  When asked about evolution, Jesus told Eby that He didn't need it.  Jesus said when He thinks something, or says something, it becomes a fact--a reality.  He said Jesus told him about a “holding tank1 where spirits will wait for the trumpet to sound at His glory coming, when the saints will be gathered for judgment.

The following story is about a young Protestant girl who sees different levels of growth in heaven and hell. She knew nothing of the teachings of the Latter Day Saints. Jesus showed her that there is learning, teaching in heaven, and in hell. He went into the prison house to teach.

There Is a Land...

“Ella, Ella, wake up! God has permitted me to come to show you where I am! You must not worry, for I am very happy.”
Ella, 18-year-old sister of deceased Johnny Hoffman, had been grieving, even until she had, from all appearances, died. Johnny came to Ella’s deathbed and took her into heaven to show her how happy he was.

Ella and her brother, a year and a half older than she, had been inseparable. Johnny was 18 months old when Ella was born and adored her. As they grew up she became more religious than Johnny, and it worried her. At age 19 Johnny became ill and died. Ella went into depression. No one could console her and her inability to understand why God would take her brother from her caused her to suffer greatly in her mind. Ella’s mother was fearful that Ella, too, would die and she wouldn’t be able to bear it. As Ella sank deeper into depression, fear for her gripped Mrs. Hoffman’s heart. She silently stepped into Ella’s room where she lie sleeping. Her heart ached for Ella.

For the last few days Ella had refused to leave her room, complaining that her head ached so dreadfully she didn’t want to be disturbed. The doctor had come to see her the afternoon before and prescribed some medication; however, he told her mother that there was very little he could do. “Your daughter is suffering intensely,” he said, “but there is not much any doctor can do. She is grieving for her brother, and only time will heal that wound. Try to get her to take an interest in others, and be patient with her.”

(The following is quoted from the article.)
Later in the afternoon the minister had called. He, too, talked with Ella and also prayed for her. Then he told Mrs. Hoffman, “I’m sure God will take a hand in this, and will not allow your burden to be heavier than you can bear, so cheer up, and all will soon be well.”

The next day Ella seemed to be even more despondent than before. She made no effort to speak, and seldom answered her mother’s questions. As the days passed, her condition grew worse, and she became weaker and weaker. These [sic] were trying days....Then one evening, in spite of all the loving care that was given her, a kind and good doctor’s interest and attention , and a devout minister’s prayers, Ella seemingly passed away. But did she really? At least she was permitted to have a strange and wonderful experience.

“Ella, Ella, wake up! God has permitted me to come to show you where I am! You must not worry, for I am very happy.” Ella, rubbing her eyes, hurriedly arose from her bed, took the arm of this beloved brother, Johnny, and walked with him up a hill. “Oh, what a wonderful thing has happened to me, Johnny!” she exclaimed joyfully. “I thought you were dead—and here you are walking up this hill with me! What a broad and beautiful street! The pavement is so white—and such wonderful lights!”

Johnny smiled as he always had done on earth when Ella was really pleased with something he had accomplished. “Yes, dear sister,” he answered, “and now I want you to pay particular attention to all the things I am going to show you. See this very large house we are approaching? Notice the beautiful granite steps and very large door.”

As he talked they walked briskly up the steps of the beautiful house, and entering through a wide doorway, the door closed behind them, and they stopped in the entrance of a very spacious hall. Ella was so excited and thrilled to be with Johnny that he again reminded her to look at everything closely. “See, Ella,” he said, “see the raised platform at the far end of this large hall. Notice that on this platform is a stand with three large books.”
“Oh, yes, dear Johnny. I do see everything. And I see some heavy beautiful lace curtains behind that platform. And—yes—oh, there is a Personage back of those curtains! But why can’t I see his face plainly? I can only see his hands at his right side. Why?” and Ella turned to her brother. His face was beaming, but he only shook his head in reply.

“Ella,” he said next, “notice carefully the six open doors on the left side of the hall. If you will look closely you will be able to see inside those open doors,” and Johnny touched her arm ever so lightly, urging her on. The door nearest to them was wide open, and the room was full of little children. “Oh, how happy they are!” exclaimed the girl. “My, they are having such a good time! Some of them are only tiny babies, while others are—oh—all the way up to eight years of age. Oh, yes,” she added, “there are a few grown people caring for them. Aren’t the infants and children beautiful in their pure, white clothes? Oh, such wonderful, wonderful lights! Even the sunlight on earth cannot compare with this! I cannot describe it! They certainly are enjoying themselves.”

Happy laughter echoed through the hallway as she and Johnny walked slowly along.
“I am so eager to see what is in the next room. Hurry, Johnny, I must see everything.” It was she who urged Johnny forward now. In the next room they saw young people, and they were happy, too. “They are beautiful, really. Their dresses and suits are of silver gray!” Ella was so interested in watching them she almost forgot she could not linger long, but must go on to the next door.

“Oh, this room is filled with grown people! They, too, are enjoying themselves. The men are wearing purple neckties, but it’s rather hard to describe their entire dress.” “No need to do that, Ella. It isn’t important,” was Johnny’s response. “Now come quickly and I will show you where I stay,” was his next surprising remark.

As they walked on down the hall, Ella looked again toward the Personage back of the lace curtain. She noticed that also on the left of this Personage were six more doors but they were shut and apparently locked. She wondered why. Stopping for a moment so she could get a better view of the entire hall, she felt so very, very happy. Could this really be happening to her? Was she truly with Johnny? But before she had time to meditate further, Johnny said, “Come, dear, we must hasten.”

As they walked on, a man came out of the second doorway where the young people were grouped. “Oh, he’s coming near us,” was Ella’s quick thought, “Oh, no; he’s crossing the hall! He looks so neat in his black suit and carrying a black, soft hat in one hand. Wonder what book he’s carrying under his arm?”As she watched, he stopped in front of the second door on the opposite side of the hall. Taking a large key from his pocket, he unlocked the door and went in . “Why has he gone in there, Johnny?” Immediately came the reply: “He has gone to carry the gospel to those shut up in prison.” “What an amazing statement!” thought the girl. The doors on that side of the hall took on a new significance.

“Notice again carefully, Ella.”As she looked she noticed that half of the doors were glass, various shades of red, the darkest one being the last in the row, and the lightest one was nearest this large Personage. Immediately Ella asked: “Does that mean that the various shades of red represent different degrees of punishment?”But to this she received no answer. Johnny surprised her by saying, “Ella, don’t look on that side where all is dark and gloomy; but look on the bright side where all is happiness.” “How thoughtful you are, dear—just as you always were, and I’ll try.”

As she turned to look at the bright open doorways, she found herself standing near the fourth door on the right of the Personage. As she looked she saw another man come out, and he went directly across to the fourth door on the opposite side of the hall. He, too, was dressed in black similarly to the first man, with a book under his arm, and she remarked, “He must be going to preach to those in prison.”
Standing there for a few seconds, or until her mind was satisfied—as she afterwards described it—Johnny said, “Now, Ella, this is where I stay.” “Why, Johnny dear, this is the fourth door. What a happy group of young people! What ages are they, Johnny?”
“From twelve to twenty. Yes, they are indeed happy! Notice they are all dressed in light colors.” As she looked, she saw that even Johnny was wearing a necktie of pale blue.

He was conscious of her very thought and smilingly hastened to explain: “You see we are happy here. I have all I am capable of enjoying at present. But as I progress, I go up higher,” pointing to where the little children were.

As Ella thoughtfully watched, she noticed that the light in each of these rooms on the right was beautifully bright—but that it grew more beautiful and brilliant as they neared the room where the children were grouped. She didn’t have time to see particularly the dress of all, but she did note the ties of the men. Those in the room next to the Personage wore green, next pink, next blue, then the fourth, purple, and the fifth gray, and the sixth, pure white.

“Oh-o-o! Some of them are coming out into the hall! Wonder if they will see me? No, they do not appear to notice me at all. They seem to be permitted to associate with each other in the hall, but strangely enough, they do not go into each other’s rooms. All are so very happy!”
Ella’s quiet remarks, or what might be called audible musings, were seemingly heard by her brother, but he only nodded his head in reply.

By this time the girl was quite convinced of the happiness of her brother and all these friends of his, and scrutinizing his face more than she had done before, she saw that it was exceedingly bright and happy. “Johnny, IT IS ENOUGH,” she said. “I will go back to earth and do the best I can to make ready to meet you.” “My, how happy you make me, sister, dear!”

And with those words ringing in her ears, Ella found herself back in her own home and room! She was not lying on the bed where she had been, but seemed to be hovering over her body; in fact, she was just a few feet above in the air. She looked down and could see her form lying so still. Her mother and sister, Martha, were standing by the bed. A few dear neighbors and Mrs. Allen were in the room.

“Poor dear child! She has died from grief!” was Mrs. Allen’s sorrowful statement as she leaned down to turn Ella’s body over. It was then that something happened which none of them could ever forget—a happening which we read about sometimes, but which very few people have experienced.

Ella never knew just how she returned to her body, but as Mrs. Allen turned her over, she suddenly sat up and opening her eyes, reached out her hands to her mother and sister, and, smilingly although weakly, said: “Oh, Mother, dear, and Martha, I’m not dead! I have come back, and I have so much to tell you.” And she immediately began to tell them of her marvelous experiences with Johnny.

More than human strength was given Ella. Her story of the trip into the Unknown, and her meeting with Johnny was received by these loved ones and friends with tears of joy and thanksgiving coursing down their cheeks. As she calmly related her wonderful vision, all were given the assurance of its truthfulness. Ella’s recovery from her long illness was rapid and complete.

Ella Sees The Two Men From Heaven Again

A few years after this remarkable event, Ella married. Fifteen years later she and her husband moved to a Midwestern city in the state of Missouri. One day, while visiting in the home of friends whom they had met in their new surroundings, Ella saw a picture on the wall which interested her very much. It was a photograph of two men.

“Those men look strangely familiar to me,” she remarked to Mrs. Lake, her hostess.

“Probably you have seen some who resemble them,” Mrs. Lake answered.

“Oh, no, I’m sure I have seen them somewhere, sometime.”

“You have only seen pictures of them, I’m sure,” Mrs. Lake again replied, and still did not tell Ella who the men were. But Ella insisted she had seen those two men. She became very, very serious as she puzzled her brain for some moments trying to recall. Memory finally came to her rescue, and before her mind’s eye she saw a man neatly dressed in a black suit, a hat in one hand, a book under his arm. He had come out of one door, crossed a spacious hall, and taking a key out of his pocket opened the door on the opposite side. Then a second man followed from another room!

In only a few second’s time Ella was reliving her wonderful vision while Mrs. Lake sat and stared at her, for her face was radiant. “Oh, Mrs. Lake, I have seen those men, but not on this earth. I do know them, although I cannot tell you their names. They were going to preach to those in prison.” Mrs. Lake looked at Ella searchingly, then in almost a reverential manner said: “Suppose you tell me about the experience to which you refer.”

In her calm and quiet way, Ella then related the remarkable circumstance. Mrs. Lake could not keep back the tears, and when Ella had finished she said: “What a wonderful testimony you have had! It confirms me in my belief. Those men you saw going to preach to the spirits in prison were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the martyrs.”

The names meant nothing to Ella, for she had never heard of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and she asked many questions. Mrs. Lake then explained the story of the great Restoration to her, and the very important part Joseph and Hyrum Smith had had in it.
“How wonderful!” was her comment when Mrs. Lake finished.

It wasn’t very long after that before Ella and her husband were consistently working in this same wonderful Restoration. Ella often thought of her marvelous visit to the Other Side, and the one thing she referred to more than anything else was the fact that the glory of the little children was superior to all others, for as Christ said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

 Footnote
1. The Holding Tank--700 Club
In a 700 Club interview with Pat Robertson, aired in 1984, Dr. Richard Eby said Jesus was explaining heaven to him and how everything was radiantly alive because of the water of life in Christ. Dr. Eby said, “Well instantly I realized that my desire to pick a bouquet had been fulfilled. There in my hand were the flowers. And another miracle which I may not have told before; I noticed that the stem had no moisture. If we pick a living stem on earth it feels moist. These were totally without the moisture that we know here. And I said quickly, ‘How can these be so radiantly alive and yet with no water?’ ” Jesus answered,

“ ‘My son, didn’t you read My Book? I told you in heaven we have only one kind of water. That’s the living water that flows through My throne, and that maintains all of Heaven and Paradise. You’re in Paradise now, and that is the holding tank, (He used a term I would understand.) a holding tank for the souls who accepted Me as Savior. You’ll be held in a Sunday School because I’m going to teach you how to be Priests and Kings...I’m going to teach you until the trump blows. It will be very soon.’ ”

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