Johann Huber (born 1861), was a farmer who lived near Haag am Haustuck, Austria. Once upon a time this man’s friend travelled to the United States and heard about a little church we like to call the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This friend returned to Austria and told Johann all about it. He liked it so much that on April 27, 1900 he was baptized in Munich.
But the story doesn’t end there! Johann went back home to Haag and taught his friends and family the gospel. Many families were brought to the church because of Johann’s teachings and example. Like any other new Mormon in these days, Johann faced much persecution because of his new religion. Therefore the members had to have their weekly meetings in secret. A small upstairs room in the Michelmeier farmhouse became the meeting place and a lookout was placed at the window so they could disperse and hide at the first sign of the Polizei. And guess who got to visit this farm? I did!
On Sunday, after church at the Haag branch building, we bussed on over to the farm that is still inhabited today by worthy latter day saints who also happen to be Johann’s descendants. They showed us firstly Johann’s gravestone that had been removed from the cemetery where we were told we could find it. I thought Brother Minert might die of excitement just from the headstone. Then the lady showing us around informed us that she had a whole bunch of documents concerning Mr. Huber and I think he just about had a heart attack! It was really fun to see Brother Minert get so excited to experience a little bit of Haag’s history that he hadn’t yet been able to. It made me learn to appreciate these types of things a little bit more.
Seeing the room they met in what quite the experience too. It was on a farm so of course the smell wasn’t the greatest, and it was just this teeny tiny room with a couple windows. The saints must have been really faithful when there were so few of them and they had to keep their meetings so secret. This made me grateful for the openness with which we can all meet in our churches today, especially in America. But it also made me grateful for the old Austrian saints who made it possible for the Austrians saints today to have the gospel.
We also got to see the Protestant Bible that Johann used. That book is older than America! That blew my mind. His book was older than my country. I love seeing how history paved the way for current circumstances. Johann Huber was a really influencial guy in bringing the gospel to Austria and I think his name will never be forgotten among the saints there.
I really felt the spirit in this place and can tell what it must mean for the members in Haag. We were told that back in the day, the saints knew they could come to Michelmeier farm if they were ever in need of anything, and that that tradition has still carried on to today! I love our LDS family and that we all treat each other the same way no matter where in the world we are. I love the Austrian members!