Joseph Fielding Smith, son of President Smith, writes of the period when this dream was recorded (although the dream had actually occurred many years before in Hawaii): "At the October General Conference, 1918, President Joseph F. Smith declared that during the five months just past he had dwelt in the presence of the Spirit of the Lord. During much of that time he had been confined to his room because of illness."
A DREAM THAT WAS A REALITY By President Joseph F. Smith
(Speaking of dreams, President Smith recorded this testimony on April 7, 1918, of a dream which he had received-a dream given to teach him courage, show him his duty, and impress upon his mind a great truth. He says:)
I was very much oppressed, once, on a mission. I was almost naked and entirely friendless, except the friendship of a poor, benighted, degraded people. I felt as if I was so abased in my condition of poverty, lack of intelligence and knowledge, just a boy, that I hardly dared look a white man in the face.
While in that condition I dreamed that I was on a journey, and I was impressed that I ought to hurry, hurry with all my might, for fear I might be too late. I rushed on my way as fast as I possibly could, and I was only conscious of having just a little bundle, a handkerchief with a small bundle wrapped in it. I did not realize just what it was, when I was hurrying as fast as I could; but finally I came to a wonderful mansion, if it could be called a mansion. It seemed too large, too great to have been made by hands, but I thought I knew that was my destination. As I passed towards it, as fast as I could, I saw a notice, "Bath." I turned aside quickly and went into the bath and washed myself clean. I opened up this little bundle that I had, and there was a pair of white, clean garments, a thing I had not seen for a long time, because the people I was with did not think very much of making things exceedingly clean. But my garments were clean, and I put them on. Then I rushed to what appeared to be a great opening, or door. I knocked and the door opened, and the man who stood there was the Prophet Joseph Smith. He looked at me a little reprovingly, and the first word he said: "Joseph, you are late." Yet I took confidence and said: "Yes, but I am clean-I am clean!"
He clasped my hand and drew me in, then closed the great door. I felt his hand just as tangible as I have felt the hand of man. I knew him, and when I entered I saw my father, and Brigham, and Heber, and Willard, and other good men that I had known, standing in a row. I looked as if it were across this valley, and it seemed to be filled with a vast multitude of people, but on the stage were all the people that I had known. My mother was there, and she sat with a child in her lap; and I could name over as many as I remember of their names, who sat there, who seemed to be among the chosen, among the exalted.
The Prophet said to me, "Joseph," then pointing to my mother, he said: "Bring me that child."
"I went to my mother and picked up the child, and thought it was a fine, baby boy. I carried it to the Prophet, and as I handed it to him I purposely thrust my hands up against his breast. I felt the warmth;-I was alone on a mat, away up in the mountains of Hawaii; no one was with me. But in this vision I pressed my hand up against the Prophet and I saw a smile cross his countenance. I handed him the child and stepped back. President Young stepped around two steps, my father one step, and they formed a triangle. Then Joseph blessed that baby, and when he finished blessing it they stepped back in line; that is, Brigham and father stepped back in line. Joseph handed me the baby, wanted me to come and take the baby again; and this time I was determined to test whether this was a dream or a reality. I wanted to know what it meant. So I purposely thrust myself up against the Prophet. I felt the warmth of his stomach. He smiled at me, as if he comprehended my purpose. He delivered the child to me and I returned it to my mother; laid it on her lap.
When I awoke that morning I was a man, although only a boy. There was not anything in the world that I feared. I could meet any man or woman or child and look them in the face, feeling in my soul that I was a man every whit. That vision, that manifestation and witness that I enjoyed at that time has made me what I am, if I am anything that is good, or clean, or upright before the Lord, if there is anything good in me. That has helped me out in every trial and through every difficulty. I felt the hand of Joseph Smith. I saw the smile upon his face. I did my duty as he required me to do it, and when I woke up I felt as if I had been lifted out of a slum, out of despair, out of the wretched condition that I was in; and naked as I was, or as nearly as I was, I was not afraid of any white man nor of anyone else, and I have not been very much afraid of anybody else since that time. I know that that was a reality, to show me my duty, to teach me something, and to impress upon me something that I cannot forget.
[Source: Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, pp. 445-447; 1918-April 7-Improvement Era 23:16-17, November, 1919; in Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)]