John Nelson's attitude towards his work can be gleaned from his
correspondence to a colleague, which offers a
glimpse into personal dilemmas:
Woodville, March 4/86
Dear Bro. McLean . . . I have often thought of writing you
regarding mission work. We are getting on, but slowly. Our people have
been out nearly all winter & only a few in now. There has been
considerable sickness amongst them this winter-one of our best men has
passed away, we feel assured a saved man. He expressed a strong desire to
live a while longer but at the last was resigned to the Lord's will.
We have class & prayer meetings & occasionally a
sermon through our interpreter for I cannot talk with them much on religious
matters without help. Last Sunday a young man spoke for the first time in
class & was admitted in to church membership. The ignorance &
superstition among even church members is very deplorable & I do not
think it can be eradicated by the use of logic but only suppressed be the
Gospel of Christ.
You ask do we take polygamists? We have none. There are
some who have had 2 or 3 wives but at present are only living with the one
they are married to. I would suggest take them as they are & preach
the plain Gospel truth to them & I think they will let go their idols
one by one.
The more I have to do in this work the more I love it
& earnestly desire to be fitted for it. I am getting on fairly with my
studies- in sending for the year's books got all except the Greek. Can
you tell me should I get up beets, corn? I wrote the Supt. But he said
nothing about it.
Our school is small just now. We expect all the people in
soon. They are feeling good generally having made a good hunt & the
govt are removing all cause of complaint that is reasonable. I talk
independence to them-buy what you want & ask the govt for nothing.
In 2 or 3 instances the govt. agts. have been made to
feel that the teacher had some influence with his people. When they could
do nothing with them a few words made matters right. Mr. McDougall exerts
a wonderful influence amongst those whom he has known for some time. One
of his secrets is his complete mastery of the Cree language.
I have been hurrying this as a man is waiting to take
this over to mail & save me the trip. Mrs. N sends her love to Mrs.
With love to all I am yours, Sincerely John Nelson.
We pray for the Lord's blessing on you & your work.
Church Archives, Victoria University, Toronto.