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In Their Own Voices

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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. McLean.

With love to all I am yours, Sincerely John Nelson.

We pray for the Lord's blessing on you & your work.

Citation Sources
United Church Archives, Victoria University, Toronto.


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