It was Christmas of 1939, and Ida and Viola, my two sisters, were working in Salt Lake City.  They had come home for the holidays.  It was so good to see them and visit with them that we often stayed up until after midnight just talking and visiting about things of interest.  I’ll never forget this one evening, Ida and I were sitting up alone past the hour of midnight.  Mother and the others had gone to bed.  At this time Ida hadn’t married, so I asked her if she would like to go on a mission.  I told her I would support her if she would go.  I told her that I was going to send Wiley when he was old enough but that would be another year and a half and as they called the Lady Missionaries for only eighteen months, she would have time to go before he was old enough.  Before the evening was over we had agreed that when she returned to Salt Lake she would have a talk with her Bishop and prepare to go on a Mission.  This she did.  She had her interview with Bishop Langdon of the 17th Ward in Salt Lake.  It was during this same time that my cousin Derrell Lindsay was called to go to the Australian Mission.  It was in January that he was called.  As he left the Mission Home catching the train out of Salt Lake, Ida laid off work to go to the depot to see him off.

The next thing I knew I received a letter from Ida telling me of her experience that morning.  She said in her letter that as she told Derrell “good-bye” and as she saw him leave for his Mission, something said to her that instead of her going on a mission and me sending her, she should be the one to send me.  She said the feeling came to her so strongly that she had talked to her Bishop about it, and he recommended that I go instead of her.  I told her we had already made plans the other way, so she should get ready and go.  She came back with the suggestion that I go talk with my Stake President, who was a very good friend of the family, President George Ariel Bean.  This I did, to satisfy her and also my Mother.  Here again I was surprised for he said I should be the one to go on a mission.  I could hardly believe the attitude everyone was taking, that it should be me instead of her as we had planned.  I’ll never forget what President Bean said which did more to convince me than anything else.  He said in substance, Missions were created for two purposes; one to take the Gospel to the world, and two, to develop the Priesthood.  To this I had no rebuttal. 

Plans were then put in motion for me to go on a Mission.  My interview were held, and forms went to Salt Lake.  My Mission call came early, by that I mean before the month of February was over I had a call to go to the California Mission and to report to the Mission Home in Salt Lake April 15, 1940.

In my interviews with the Bishop, Stake President, and also John N. Taylor of the First Council of the Seventy, I was asked if I wanted to go to New Zealand, being as that was where my Mother had been made a convert to the Church and had lived all her growing years until she was about twenty one years old.  To this question I could only feel good to say, “I want to go where the Lord wants me to go.”  Then once, to the Stake President, as we were good friends, I did say that I wanted to go where I could go right to work teaching the Gospel and in a way hoped I wouldn’t have to go where I had to spend six months learning a language before I could actually be of much good as a missionary.  Of course, I didn’t tell him this until after my papers had all gone in to Salt Lake so that I knew it wouldn’t make any difference as to where I would be called.  I guess the Lord knew what was best, and I was called to serve in the California Mission with headquarters at 2067 South Hobart Blvd., Los Angeles.

The LaGrande 2nd Ward, of which I was a member and from which I was leaving for my Mission, gave me a farewell party as we customary in those days.  It consisted of a program which was very interesting.  Then the rest of the evening was turned over to dancing.   They also had a box there where anyone wanting to contribute toward my Mission financially could, and over one hundred dollars were taken in.  The party was held on the 27th of March, 1940.  That night one of the parts on the program was when Melvin Westenskow, the Stake Mission President, presented me with my release from the Union Stake Mission where I had served for the last two years.

My brother Alex and his wife had not been to the Temple to have their marriage sealed since she had joined the Church a few years before.  This gave them a good opportunity to go down to Salt Lake and have that work done and at the same time take me down to go on my Mission.  After my farewell party was over, about midnight, I went over to Alex’s place where we spent the rest of the night, only to get up and leave early in the morning. 

Those of us going down to Salt Lake were Alex and Mildred, their two sons, Richard and Gerald, my sister Viola, and Dorothy Richeson, a friend, and myself.  Dorothy’s sister, Elva was getting married to Wilford Zaugg, a boyhood friend of mine, and this would give her a chance to attend the wedding which was to be held in the Logan Temple on April 4th.  It was a fun trip down as everyone participated in a jolly attitude about everything in general.

When we got into Clearfield, Utah, where my sister Helen and her husband, Paul Zaugg, lived, we stopped for the night and spent the weekend there...  Monday, I went with Alex and his family on into Salt Lake and accompanied them through the Salt Lake Temple on Tuesday.  Here they were sealed and had their two boys sealed to them for time and all eternity.  This was April 2, 1940.  I took out my Endowments at this time.  Going through the Temple was a wonderful experience for me.  I just thrilled with it.  I even whispered to Alex that anyone having this experience couldn’t help but know the Church was guided by revelation.

The next day I went through the Temple again and then met President Ariel Bean who was down there for General Conference...   That was the week of General Conference.  We attended most of the sessions, then when it was over, Alex took his family and returned home...  I visited around Salt Lake, going through the temple for a few days, then out to spend a few days with Paul and Helen.  I helped Paul on the farm to pass the time away while I was waiting a week to go into the Mission Home.  This I did on April 15, 1940.  The first few days that week I was lonely, with nothing particular to do.  That is why I went out and helped Paul with his farm work, to take my mind off of being lonely.

Then, Monday morning, I checked into the Mission Home on State Street for the two weeks training they gave all Missionaries prior to their leaving for their fields of labor.  I was selected to be the representative of our room.  There were five Elders in our room, and all of them were going to California.  Elder D. Lyle Wynn, Stanley Cross, Jacob DeWall, and an Elder Curtis were in the same room with me.  Elder Wynn and I grew to be quite close friends, but the other Elders were assigned to Districts a long way from where I worked, and I didn’t get to see them very much, some of them not at all.  A sister Peterson was also in the group that went to the California Mission on the same train with us.

Those two weeks went by very fast, but I surely did enjoy them.  I got so much out of it, preparing us to be better missionaries.  The first morning we were in session, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith of the Council of the Twelve came in to talk to us and seemed to recognize me from one of his visits up to our Stake previous to this.  He came over and shook my hand and asked how I was.  I was so thrilled that he would do this, just to think that an Apostle seemed to recognize me and came and spoke to me.  It was wonderful and thrilling.  He didn’t do it to any of the others, so I suppose he must have recognized me from some previous visit to our stake. 

Then, the day came for us to be set apart.  John H. Taylor was the secretary for the group of General Authorities present for the occasion.  My name was the last one read off.  All this time I was wondering who would be the one to set me apart.  As my name was last, I was set apart by John H. Taylor, the same man who interviewed me for my Mission before my call.  When it was over he told me he had been hoping my name would come to him to be set apart.  He gave me a wonderful blessing at the time which gave me a lot of comfort in going.

Previous to my going on my Mission and during the time we were making plans to go, I had somewhat of a heavy feeling.  I was concerned about Mother and how she would get along.  Not that I was that important around home, but I felt somewhat of an obligation to be there to see that she was taken care of.  When Brother Taylor put his hands on my head and set me apart, he said quit worrying about things at home.  They will be taken care of, and you will be blessed to be a fruitful Missionary.  From that time on I never had anymore worries about how Mother, or things, would get along at home.  I just knew the Lord would provide for them.

Then, the morning of April 25th came and I found myself, along with all, or a lot, of the other Missionaries getting ready to leave on various trains for their mission fields.  Ida and Viola came down to the depot to see us off.  The train left at ten o’clock the next morning.  We had a lot of time to visit with each other during the day and evening before we dropped off to sleep in our seats.  We had a few conversations with other passengers who were traveling that day.  They asked a few questions about our missions and the Church in general.  At that time there was quite a lot of talk about a new book by Vadis Fisher, “The Children of God”, which was about the Mormons.  This brought up several conversations by people on the train who found out we were missionaries. 

Upon arriving in Los Angeles, we were met at the Union Station by the District President of the Los Angeles District, Ferris R. Duke, who drove us to the mission home on Hobart Blvd.  The Mission President, William Aired MacDonald, was up North on business, but he had left instructions as to where each of us was to be assigned.  Sister Mildred Gagon, the Mission Secretary, gave us the assignments.  I was the only one of the group assigned to the Los Angeles District.  The rest of them went up North.  I was assigned to labor in the town of Belflower, just at the edge of the big city.

It was a thrilling day in the Mission Field.  First we were taken to the Mission Home.  As each of us was interviewed by the Mission Secretary, I remember my conversation with Sister Gagon.  She asked me what college I had attended, and I replied that I had not been to college.  She seemed surprised and said, I had left a good impression.  I was also impressed with her little daughter, who had lost an arm.  I felt so sorry for her, but she seemed happy even so. 

After we were assigned, they took us into the dining room for lunch.  There were several Missionaries there.  In addition to the District President, there was an Elder Poulson in charge of the Sunday School for the Mission, Elder Toolson in charge of the MIA, Sister Nelson in charge of the Primary, and Sister Erikson, the Mission Recorder.  After lunch they told us we could go down to the beach for a couple of hours before our schedules to depart to our various fields of labor.

Later in the afternoon, I took the Pacific Electric Train out to Belflower where I met Elder Archibald, my new companion.  I surely did learn to love this Elder even though I was only with him for six weeks.  At that time, he, Elder Don C. Archibald, was transfered into the Mission office, and Elder Lamar Fairbanks came in to replace him. 

For the first few days of our stay in Belflower, I got to meet a lot of people who were members of the Branch.  I will never forget the Branch President, Henry Visser.  He was one of the finest men I have ever known.  He came over here from Holland, and then he went back there on a Mission.  I will always be grateful to Sister Mary Visser also.  She insisted on doing our laundry every week and had us into her home twice every week for our evening meal and once a week for lunch.  If service and kindness to others has any eternal value, surely this family will receive a great reward.  They had three children.  The oldest was a son, Henry Jr., then a daughter, Mary, and then a smaller son named Dennis.   Later in my Mission I learned they lost their oldest son down in Texas while he was in the Service of his country.

We often went with President Visser to Long Beach to Leadership meetings as that was their stake Headquarters.  I remember I was called upon to speak in the first Leadership Meeting I attended and was surprised to receive a lot of compliments from the people attending there.  Several times I was asked to speak in the Branch in Belflower and I always responded to the President’s wishes.  In fact, it was in Belflower where I spoke at a funeral for the very first time in my life.

...  I was so happy in  Belflower.  Everyone was so good to us and we were getting a lot of people interested in the Gospel, even to the point where we were expecting some baptisms in the near future.  Then, one day, our District President came to our apartment with a new Elder, by the name of Kay P. Lyman, and told me I had twenty minutes to pack my clothes and he would drop me off in another location, in a town by the name of Downey.  It was about six miles from Belflower.  I was so disappointed because I loved Belflower so much.

Of course, I was ready in the alloted time and on my way to Downey to work with Elder Ray Fransen.  It didn’t take me long to know that Downey was just as good a town as Belflower.  The people were just as good and equally as receptive to our message.  In fact, this little town was one of the very highlights of my entire mission.  Four months went by before I was transferred from Downey.  In looking back over my experiences there, it was the most fruitful time of my Mission.  Twelve wonderful people gave ear to our message, yes, more than that, but twelve were the number that I was permitted to take into the waters of baptism.  My companion baptized others, so all in all it was a very fruitful field.  One of the outstanding converts was a Sister Goodwin, the daughter of a Methodist Minister.  We baptized her and her whole family except her husband.  She was only in the Church a few years when I received a letter from President Carl Durham, telling me that she had passed away.

Another interesting experience we had was one Sunday when they were having Stake Conference in the South Los Angeles Stake.  Elder Fransen and I went over to attend.  As we stepped in the door a little early for the start of the meeting, I saw a woman over in the center section jump up and come toward us.  Before she reached us I recognized her as Gladys Billings Anderson.  She was a girl from home, and she and her husband had moved to Los Angeles...  It was so good to see them.  They took us with them to their seats telling me that he had a friend who was interested in the Church.  He had told him of me being down there on a mission and wanted us to get together.  After the session I went with them to their home for a lunch and visited with this man, Edward Hussman.  During the time before the evening meeting of Conference, we talked and talked.  He was really interested in everything we had to tell him.  He said he was a literal descendant of John Huss, who was burned at the stake in the early days of the reformation.  He said that his grandfather had only added the “man” onto his name when he came to America.  We learned that he lived only a couple of blocks from where Elder Fransen and I lived.

After visiting with him all afternoon and again in the evening, after Conference was over, Theron took us home.  The next morning when we awoke and started stirring around in our apartment, we heard a knock at the front door.  Who should it be but Edward Hussman.  He said he got up early that morning with a lot of questions on his mind and that he couldn’t sleep, so he came down to our apartment.  As we were still in bed he sat on the front porch and read the Book of Mormon until we got up.  He came in and ate breakfast with us, and we visited with him again.  It was wonderful to find a man so anxious to learn about the Gospel.  I often spoke to Elder Fransen about him being so eager to learn and also being a descendant of one of the early reformers.  It was interesting to see the same enthusiasm in this man, in this generation.  He came to visit us everyday filled with questions and it was satisfying to hear him say we were the only people who had been able to answer his questions to his satisfaction.  It was only a matter of a few days until he applied for baptism.  This being the first time this had happened to either my companion or myself, we were in a quandary to know what to do.  We then set up an appointment for him to be interviewed by the local Branch President, Carl Durham, to get his advice in the matter, since he had only been investigating the Gospel for about one week.  After the interview with the five of us present, my companion, President Durham, his first counselor, Earl Heath, Edward Hussman, and myself, they recommended that we go ahead with the Baptism.  This we did on the following Fast Sunday.  Since Elder Fransen had never baptized anyone before in his life, he asked me if it would be all right for him to do it.  That was fine with me, and I confirmed him a member of the Church.  This was the first convert either of us had taken into the waters of baptism on our missions. 

...  In the middle of that summer of 1940, Elder Fransen was transferred to the Imperial Valley District in the Mission, and Elder Hyrum Holt was my new companion...  One very interesting event that happened during the summer of 1940, was when we were tracting out in the Holiday District, close to Downey.  We knocked on a door one morning which was answered by a lady who said that she was a Minister of The United Brethren Church in that area when Elder Holt told her who we were.  However, she invited us in.  As soon as we were seated she told us that her Mother had married a Mormon, (a second marriage) and that she was living up in Utah.  She said that since her Mother’s new marriage she had been curious to know what her Mother had gotten into.  For this reason she was glad to talk to us.  She said her name was Clara Moss and that her husband was Edgar T. Moss.  While she was the minister of her Church, her husband was a Seventh Day Adventist.  It was a second marriage for both of them also.  We spent about an hour and a half with her and left her a Book of Mormon with the promise that she would read it.

In a couple of weeks we called back to see if she had read the book and to pick it up if she was through with it.  We were also trying to engage her in further gospel conversation.  We were received with a very warm spirit, and she told us she had read the book through and that she knew it was the truth but had a lot of questions to ask.  We spent a couple more hours answering her questions and teaching her more about the program of the Church.  She invited us to come back when her husband was at home some evening as she wanted him to hear it also.  This started regular weekly meetings with them both, which lasted for two or three months.  Then, not to our surprise, one evening she bore her testimony to us and applied baptism.  Her husband did also.  This was right after Fast Sunday in October of 1940.  We were really thrilled.  Here was a lady minister applying for baptism, and it was us who had taught her the gospel and born our testimonies to her.  The date was set for them to be baptized at the next Fast Sunday, which would be in November.  They had asked for me to do the baptizing, which was a great thrill to me.  Then, on the morning of the eighth of October, before we had time to get out tracting, about eight o’clock in the morning, our District President knocked on the door.  When he had entered the room, he handed me a letter; my companion having been in the field longer than I, knew what it was and exclaimed, “Elder Nebeker is a District President.”  Sure enough it read that I was appointed to preside over a new District being created out in Riverside, California.

This came as a surprise to me as I had only been in the Mission field for five months.  Most Elders had been in the field longer before given that assignment.  It said, I was to report the following Saturday morning, October 12, at the Mission office for instruction concerning the organization of the new district.  I was thrilled but frightened at the though of the added responsibility. 

After he left, we went out to Sister Moss’s place to break the news to her and her husband, because Elder Holt also was being  transfered to Compton, California, and there would be no missionaries in Downey at all.  She was hanging out clothes in her backyard when we arrived.  Tears came to her eyes when we told her we were both transfered and would be leaving that weekend.  Her husband, Ed, being a carpenter, was out on the job when we got there, so we couldn’t tell him.  She invited us to come out to their house that night for supper which of course we gladly accepted.  It was really touching that night to tell them good-bye, but since they had applied for baptism they asked if I would come back and baptize them that next Fast Sunday.  They said they would come out to Riverside and get me and take me back after the services were over.  To this I answered that I would check with the Mission President to see if I had his permission and would let them know soon after I was out to Riverside.  Of course, the President gave his permission, and I so notified them, giving them my address so they would know where to find me when they came after me. 

Saturday morning, October 12, President Hagey, my District President, came to Downey to take me to Los Angeles to report to President MacDonald for my instructions about the new district.  The Riverside District was created by a division of the Imperial Valley District.  They also added more territory to it.  Claude P. Burton was President of the Imperial Valley District.  When I met him I found him a very fine Elder.  We made the transfer of Mission property that was to stay in the new district, and he left for El Centro, which was to be his new headquarters. 

While in Los Angeles getting instructions from the President, I got to visit some with the other missionaries at headquarters.  Sister Erikson, the Mission Recorder, came in where I was and said, “Aren’t you proud of your self?”  She then told me that she had checked the Mission Records, and she had found that I was the youngest Elder in the history of the Mission to be appointed District President; youngest in time in the field, that is.

President Hagey and I stayed in Los Angeles that night and the next morning he drove me out to Riverside, which I greatly appreciated, as I did not have a car then.  Now that I was a District President it would be necessary for me to get one which I did in a short time.  In fact, Brother Merkley was a used car salesman, and he helped me to find a pretty good car.  It was a 1936 Chevrolet sedan.  Wiley and Alex suggested I get a later model car than most of the Elders had as I had so much more time to spend in the field and would want it to last all the way through. 

We soon moved our headquarters of the Mission (District) to a better location, and the Missionaries started coming into the District.  I’ll tell you the first day as District President I felt pretty small.  I was frightened that I wouldn’t be able to do the job the way the President wanted it done, and I just felt all alone for part of the first day.  Then, the feeling came over me that I was doing the Lord’s work and that he would see that I got it done right.  Things were soon back to normal and some mighty fine Elders started arriving to fill up the new district.  As soon as I could assess the new district, I made assignments of the Elders, placing them in the areas that looked the most promising for success.  I met some wonderful people out in the Riverside District, and I was there for the next eight and one half months.  It was in this District that I got most of my experience speaking at funerals.  I had only spoken at one in Belflower prior to this time, but for about three months I average about two per week.  It seemed that there were all kinds, from a suicide to a small baby, a young mother, and a teenage boy; just about every kind. 

As soon as I had assigned all of the Elders to their various fields of labor, I wrote to all the Branch Presidents in the District to introduce myself.  Shortly after this I received a letter from one of the Branch Presidents.  He said his name was Charles Nebeker Choate.  He was the President of the Branch out in Hemitt, California.  He seemed anxious to meet me and suggested I come out and hold some Cottage Meetings in their town.

One of the outstanding experiences I had in that District was holding Cottage Meetings in Hemitt.  Once I remember Elder Ralph J. Richards and I went out there to do some Missionary work in May 1941.  I went out being as we didn’t have enough Elders to fill all the towns in the area.  This night, which was a Tuesday evening, President Choate told us that the local Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Robinson, would probably be attending the meeting.  He was a good man and lived just across the street from President Choate.  He had read quite a few of our L.D.S. books and seemed quite interested in many of the things we taught.  They had advertised all around that we would be out there to hold this meeting and expected quite a crowed.  This usually worked out well, and we were developing quite a bit of interest. 

The night came and we were ready for the Cottage Meeting.  As the time drew near, people started coming but no minister.  We started the meeting and after singing and having a word of prayer, Elder Richards got up to talk.  He barely got started when the door opened and in walked the minister and his wife.  I’m sure Elder Richards hadn’t been speaking five minutes when this happened.  He then said, “Now, I know you are all anxious to hear President Nebeker, so I’ll close and you can listed to him.”  This is just what he did and then sat down.  There was nothing for me to do but get up and start to speak. 

Needless to say, I was a little nervous also with the minister sitting in the back of the living room staring at me.  I started to speak on the subject of the “Holy Ghost”.  I was just getting started and was going to quote a scripture, one that I knew very well and had quoted many times, but this time I just got started and couldn’t seem to remember the starting of the next sentence.  I tried it again and got down to the same place and missed again.  I tried again and just couldn’t remember the right word to get me into the next thought, or sentence.  After the third time and getting to the same place, the minister prompted me from his place in the audience.  I thanked him very graciously for his help, and it was a real help because at that very moment, I could just feel the Spirit of the Lord come over me and I knew I was then speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost.  No one had to prompt me anymore, and I spoke for about an hour with the warmest of feelings.  There was no question in my mind as to who had the Holy Ghost.  I knew I had its companionship and the words just came rolling out almost faster than I could form them.  I knew the group was well pleased with the talk.  I could see them nodding approval and smiling with satisfaction as the talk and the evening progressed.

When the meeting was finally over and the closing prayer was said, Rev. Robinson came up to me and took me by the hand and said, “Elder Nebeker, in all my ministry, and in all my schooling and seminary work, I have never heard the subject of the Holy Ghost explained like I have here tonight.”  Then he further said, “I learned something here tonight that I never knew before.”  With this I thanked him very kindly, and as he left with President Choate, he told him that he was really impressed with the meeting.  President Choate reported this back to me the next morning, for we stayed all night with them. 

A few months later, after I had been transferred up to the Bakersfield District, I received a letter from President Choate, saying that the Rev. had resigned his position in the Presbyterian Church and had applied for baptism into our Church.  He said that the main thing that made him decide he was in the wrong church was my talk that night on the Holy Ghost.  That was the night he realized that he didn’t have it--the Holy Ghost.

I remember the Easter Sunrise Service we held in Hemitt that year as a District Conference.  To start with, I had been tracting one morning in Riverside, and I knocked on the door of a very beautiful lady who invited us in.  She said her name was originally Daines and she was from Salt Lake.  She said she had been married in the Temple to a brother Hinckley but had since been divorced and married a non-member of the church.  Her present husband was the distributor for the Cadillac Agency in Riverside. She said she didn’t want to have anything to do with the Church, but as she had a brother in the mission field she wanted to do something for us because of him.  She gave us a little lunch and then said, as we left, “If I can ever do any favors for you I would like to do them because of my brother, and I would like for someone to do some favors for him.”  We thanked her and left. Then, later when we decided to have the Easter Sunrise Service out in Hemitt, I went out to talk to her and suggested that she have her husband loan us a car to go to Hemitt on Saturday and we would bring it back on Monday.  It was difficult to get all of the missionaries out there.  She talked to her husband about it and arranged for us to have one providing that I drove it.  I hope the Lord will bless her for this kind act for she surely didn’t want us to mention anything about the Gospel to her or her husband. 

With two carloads of missionaries from our district plus one carload from the mission office, for we invited them out to speak at our conference, plus all of the people from over the district, we had a real conference.  We felt we had accomplished quite a thing.  We took care of our district business during this same time.  President Choate conducted the evening meeting as a regular Sacrament Meeting, then when the last speaker was talking he leaned over to me and whispered that he didn’t think it would be complete not to hear from me.  I really felt the Spirit that evening and spoke with power that thrilled me through and through.  I’m sure everyone felt the day was a real success.

At the end of the first month I was out in Riverside, which was the day before I was to expect Mr. and Mrs. Moss to come out and get me to take me back to baptize them, back in Downey, I received a letter from Mrs. Moss.  In it she told me that they wouldn’t be out to get me as they had decided not to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They said they had been attending the little Branch there and were really disappointed in the attitude of the members.  She had gone three times to Relief Society and each time she had taken with her all of her Standard Works of the Church, but they never once mentioned the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the name of Jesus Christ.  She came home from Relief Society let down, talked it over with her husband and decided to forget the whole thing.

After our monthly report meeting was over, I sat down and wrote a long letter to her.  In it I commented again to her of many of the things she had previously told us that she had learned in our Church which she had said her church told her we just weren’t to know.  But it was too late, as they had already made up their minds.

About a month later I was down in the Los Angeles area and went out to call on them for a visit.  Elder Kay P. Lyman was with me and we stayed all night with the Mosses.  They were very happy to see us, and we visited very friendly for about an hour.  Then I mentioned that I was disappointed when I received their letter saying that they weren’t going to be baptized.  With this she snapped back at me with all the fire of a Pentecostal Minister.  For about an hour I listened to her tell me off as to how wrong the Church was and how weak the members in the Downey Branch were.  When she had mostly run down I took out my Standard Works of the Church from my briefcase and reread to her the scriptures she had quoted to me in anger.  We visited with them until eleven o’clock that night, at which time they both bore their testimonies to us.  They said they knew it was true and that they would be baptized the next fast Sunday.  Unfortunately the next Fast Sunday never seemed to come, for each month they would have time to think it over and would rationalize things out in their own minds and decide not to join the Church.  It was my privilege to visit with them several times during the next year and one half while I was still on my mission.

On one of those subsequent visits I remember telling her that I hated to see them wasting their time outside of the Church.  In bearing my testimony to her again, I told her that someday she would realize she was doing just that, wasting her time.  Of course, at that moment all they could see was the critical side of what they thought they could see wrong with the members of the Church in that little Branch.  Each time I would visit with them they would say they knew the Book of Mormon was true and so was the Church, and yes, they would be baptized next month.  Then, the next month they would have cooled off.  It continued this way all the rest of the time of my mission.

Once, President Durham wrote to me to see if I would come down and speak in the Downey Branch for their Sacrament Meeting.  I, of course, accepted but requested that they go out and extend an invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Moss.  I knew they would attend Church if they knew I was going to be the speaker.  This was not done and of course, they were not in attendance.  The next morning, before returning to Riverside, I went out to see the Mosses.  As I stopped in front of their house, I could see several women walking toward me down the street a block or two.  When Mrs. Moss answered the door, I could see she was all ready to leave the house, so I apologized and said I would run on.  She apologized for not attending Church the night before to hear me speak, but she said she didn’t know I was going to.  We had hardly said, “Hello”, when the door bell rang and in came all these women. I had seen coming down the street.  She introduced them to me as members of her church and students in a Bible class she taught all day on Mondays. 

She had originally resigned as pastor of the local United Brethren Church there in Holiday, California when she first decided to join ours; then after backing out of being baptized she went back and accepted the position again.  These women were members of her congregation, and when she introduced me as Elder Nebeker, they recognized me as the trouble maker who had induced her to leave the first time.

With this introduction, they all commenced talking at once telling me what a bad thing I was doing, disturbing people who were happy in their own religion until they heard me.  They said the big difference between us and them was that we worshipped Joseph Smith and they worshipped Jesus Christ.  At first I tried to answer some of their accusations, but I soon found out that as fast as I could talk, I couldn’t keep up with half a dozen women, especially when they were mad.  So finally I just leaned against the door and listened, smiling at them all talking at once. 

Finally, I guess Mrs. Moss got a little tired of their conduct also, for she reached over and slapped one of the women on the arm who was doing most of the talking and said, “Shut up!”  She told them if they would just listen to me I could explain everything.  This stopped the one lady, but there were still others who had just as much wind and they were using it.  Soon she reached over and slapped another woman on her arm with the same instructions.  I could see that we weren’t getting any place, so I excused myself and started to leave.  Mrs. Moss came over to the door and took my hand, in their presence and with tears in her eyes told me, in a voice loud enough for them all to hear, how bad she felt for me, a servant of God, being persecuted in her home.  She promised me that if I would come back again it would not happen.  With this I left.  As I drove away I felt bad because of all the confusion.  Then, all of a sudden a warm feeling came over me and something said almost as if aloud, “This is the best thing that could have happened.  It gave her a chance to defend the true Church, and to make a comparison of it with her Church.”

Two days later I received a long letter at my office in Riverside.  In it she repeatedly apologized for the conduct of her friends.  She repeated how bad she felt seeing them persecute me, a servant of God, in her home.  Then she ended the letter by saying that she had again resigned from being the minister of her church and would never again go back to that church.  I think I might as well follow a little more about her story because it has meant a lot to me.

The last time I saw her in the mission field was about three months before I was to be released to go home.  In the meantime Pearl Harbor had been bombed, and we were involved in World War II.  I stopped one day as I was on my way to San Diego, to say, “Hello”.  In the conversation she asked me what the Church thought about the war.  Was it the Battle of Armageddon?  To this I told her that the Church had not made any statements but my own opinion was that it was not the Battle of Armageddon, nor the end of the world.  She seemed relieved with this thought for she said her Church had said that this was it--the end of the world.  Knowing my mission was drawing to a close, I again bore my testimony to her and told her that she had investigated too much to ever be contented in any other church.  I knew that someday she would accept the Gospel, and I hoped it would be in this life.  I got her to promise that if she ever did join the Church she would write to me in Oregon and let me know.  To make sure of my address she wrote it down in all of her Standard Works, on the fly leaf.  With this, we said, “good-bye”.

Seventeen years went by.  A lot of water had gone under the bridge.  I was married and we had spent a year in Arizona, we had several children and were back in Oregon.  At the time I was in the real estate and insurance business with Alfred Westenskow.  It was lunch time and I was going home for lunch.  I stopped to pick up the mail and there was a letter from Joplin, Missouri, with the return address saying, Mr. and Mrs. Moss.  I was so excited I could hardly wait to get home to open it and find out its contents.  Mrs. Moss started out by saying, “Dear Elder Nebeker, I don’t know if you will get this letter or not because I don’t know if you are still in La Grande.”  Then, in the contents of her letter she said that as she was going through her Book of Remembrance, she came across my picture which she had pasted beside the Church where she was baptized.  She remembered her promise, and said that they had been members of the Church for three years. They had been through the Salt Lake Temple and had their marriage sealed for time and all eternity.  They had moved back to Joplin, MO and now Mr. Moss was in the Branch Presidency.   They were both working hard in the Church.  It was one of the greatest thrills I have ever had.  We have seen them several times since then and each time with the same wonderful feeling of love, knowing they are now members of the true Church of Jesus Christ.  They have expressed their thanks over and over again many times since then for the fact that we had taught them the gospel.  Since that time they have moved back to California, then to Salt Lake, and at present (1971) are spending their retirement part of the time in each place.

While in Riverside, I had the privilege of baptizing a Sister James and her six children into the Church. She had a sister who had been at her home a couple of times when we were there teaching them.  Her sister’s name was Ethel Rainwater.  She did not join the Church but did attend the baptismal service of her sister and family.  Then, one day, years later, when Maxine and I, with our family up to that time, had been visiting our family in Arizona and were returning home, we stopped in San Bernardino to visit Maxine’s cousin, Ben Wallace.  That evening before catching the train, we went to a grocery store to get some food for the children to eat on the way to Salt Lake.  As we approached the check stand, one of the checkers, a nice young lady, came out and pulled my basket into her check stand.  As she started to check she asked if I wasn’t Elder Nebeker.  I confessed I was but couldn’t place her.  Finally she told me who she was and she was this Ethel Rainwater.  She told us that Mrs. James, her sister, also lived there in San Bernardino and would feel very bad if I didn’t call her and go see here.  I was just as happy to see her, so we went out to visit her for a few minutes before catching the train.  One of her daughters was there in the home with her Mother.  This was one of the little girls I had baptized years ago.  The daughter didn’t look well and they told us she had heart trouble and had lost fifteen babies through miscarriages.  I felt so sorry for her to think of all the unhappiness this little girl I had baptized had gone through.  A few years later she phoned me in LaGrande suggesting she might move up to Oregon if her husband could find the type of work he was looking for.  Then, I never heard from them again, so I assume they decided to stay in California. 

I have surely been blessed to have the opportunity to meet many of my friends from the mission field.  That is one of the nice things about going on a mission fairly close to home.  Your chances of seeing many of your friends are a lot greater than if you went someplace overseas. 

Another interesting experience was when President Blood (Vern’s next Mission President) called me into his office one day to talk about the Imperial Valley District.  It was the mission district lying just south of the Riverside District.  Since it joined our district and the District President was about to be released, he didn’t want to assign a new presiding officer there for only a short while.  He asked me if I could and would preside over both districts for the balance of the time before closing the southern district.

Once, when I had gone down there to take over the office from President Burton, I toured the district and visited all the branches in it.  There again I met Elder Ray Fransen, my companion from Downey early in my mission.  It was a great pleasure to see him again, and as we were closing the district I transferred him up to San Bernardino until he was later made a District President and transferred to  Santa Barbara.

While down there we accompanied one of the local brethren over to Yuma, Arizona to the branch there to speak in Church.  While over there they took us out to see the ruins of the old Territorial Prison.  It was on the rock over looking the Colorado River.  It had a terrific record and only one man ever escaped from it.  They don’t know if he really did escape.  He jumped over the cliff into the river.  They never saw him again, but they are not certain if he lived or if he was killed from the fall.  They just never found him in the river, or out of it.

I met some wonderful friends down in the Imperial Valley; President Cyril Gardner, and President Lunsford of the El Centro and Brawley Branches.  Then, working around in that area during the week with Elder Richards and me again on this trip, we went up to spend the weekend at the Branch at Blythe, California.

It was here we met and stayed with a wonderful family by the name of Arthur Lee {LN’s note:  This man, Arthur Lee was a first cousin to Rhoda Jane Perkins Wakefield, being a descendant of Mosiah Hancock}.  He was in the Branch Presidency.  We learned that it was his son, Arthur, who was in the Mission Home with me in Salt Lake.  He had gone to the Central States on his mission.  They were happy to write to him of my visit with them.

It was Mother’s day, 1941, that we attended the little branch in Blythe.  Elder Richards and I both spoke as part of the program.  As the meeting neared an end, a little short stout lady came in and sat down on the back seat. The next day we went with Brother Lee out into the country to visit a man, a non-member of the Church.  Brother Lee was visiting with him about some harvesting that was to be done.  Elder Richards and I wandered around in front of the house.  About this time this short stout lady came up the road into the yard.  As she approached she started shouting at us asking if we were those missionaries who spoke in Church the day before.  To this we acknowledged we were.  Then she started cursing, taking the name of the Lord in vain and using about every swear word you could imagine. 

At this time of my life my hair was getting pretty thin in front, and in her conversation she turned to Elder Richards and asked him if he was out of high school.  To this he replied that he had had two years of college.  Then she turned to me and asked if I was married.  I said, “No.” and then in her same loud voice she said, “Why you bald headed old man, most Mormons have lots of wives and here you don’t have any.”  To this I answered, “Give me time lady, give me time!”  Elder Richards and I were both laughing and getting quite a kick out of her.  Then she said, “We have held a meeting, the people of Blythe, and we don’t want Mormons coming into our town.  We are trying to see if there isn’t something we can do to stop it.”  Then I countered with the statement, “That’s right lady, the Lord said through the Prophet Daniel that this was going to roll forth and fill the whole earth.  So, you people here at Blythe just as well stand by and watch it come.”  Elder Richard continued to laugh all the harder.  Then she said that the bad thing about the Mormons was that they take their little children right when they are real small, into Primary and there they teach them how to lie, cheat and steal.  At this I asked her if her church taught her how to use all that profane language.  At this she blurted out that her husband had been running around with another woman and since then she didn’t give a _____!  It was pathetic in a way to watch her.  Then, before we left I had walked around on the other side of Brother Lee’s car, and she followed me around and apologized for her conduct.  In her apology she said, “I wish I were good enough to be a Mormon.”

As the month of June was drawing to a close, I received a letter from President Blood transferring me up to organize a new district in Bakersfield, California.  They hadn’t had missionaries up there for some time.  I was to be there to meet and assign the new Elders by July 1, 1941.  Elder Peterson came in to take my place, but as he was a few days late, I had, of necessity, to be late in getting to Bakersfield.  It is always sad to say, “good-bye” to so many wonderful friends but it only takes one day to make a transfer and you are immediately with other friends you love just as much.  When I arrived in Bakersfield to open up a new mission district, there I found nine Elders awaiting my arrival to assign them to their new fields of labor.

It was an interesting evening as I arrived.  I had met Mom and Pop Carlson once before at a Christmas party in Los Angeles the year before, and it was to their place all the other missionaries had been sent awaiting my arrival.  A little humorous event happened as I drove into their driveway.  Hardly had I stopped the car and got out, shaking hands with Mom Carlson and a few of the Elders who happened to be present, when I noticed two more Elders coming across the back lot.  At this moment Mom Carlson said in a hurried voice, “I’m going to introduce the new Elders to President Nebeker as though he was my brother.”  She had hardly completed the statement when two fine looking young men walked around the corner of the garage.  At this moment Mom stepped up and said, “I want you Elders to meet my brother.”  Then introducing me as Mr. Hopkins, she said, “This is Elder Fisher, and this is Elder Sorenson.”  I took the cue and tried to carry my end of the conversation.  Not having much time to think or prepare for this type of introduction, I shook hands with them and asked how come they had the same first name.  Remarking that that was a little unusual.  I then repeated their names, Elder Sorenson and Elder Fisher, as thought I thought Elder was their given name.  These two Elders were right new from Salt Lake and had had no experience at all in the field.

They immediately started to explain to me that “Elder” was not their name, that it was their title.  They said that they were missionaries and this was the office of Priesthood they held to be called on a mission.  Of course, I pretended to know nothing about the program and continued to ask them a lot of questions about their work.  The other Elders present began to laugh so much that they had to leave and walk around the house, and even Mom Carlson walked around on the other side of the car.  I could tell that the new Elders were embarrassed for the rudeness of the other Elders who appeared to be anything but respectful to someone who knew so little about the Church.  We carried on quite a conversation for a few minutes, me asking questions about their work and what they believed in.  I asked them what made them different than other churches and a lot of good interesting questions.  Finally, Mom Carlson came and told them that I was their District President.  She had been standing on the other side of the car laughing.  I think this little experience endeared me to both of these new Elders and also to Mom Carlson for many years, in fact, for all the rest of our lives, I hope.

Both Elders Grant Fisher and Glen Sorenson turned out to be really good missionaries and both served as District Presidents before their missions were finished.  We have more or less kept in touch over the years and I consider them among my best friends.

Mom and Pop Carlson have also been very close to me over the years.  They have come to see us and stay for a few days to visit many times, and we have done the same thing with them.  Our children look at them as though they were part of the family.

It was the night of the second of July that I arrived i Bakersfield.  I spent the day, July 3, mapping out the district and getting acquainted with the area so I would know where to assign the Elders.  A family of Saints there by the name of Louis Ricks had us all down to their place for dinner on the 4th of July, and we spent the afternoon eating ice cream.  Boy, did he ever give us large dishes full of it.  It was his own recipe of homemade ice cream.

That evening I held a meeting with the missionaries and gave them their assignments as to where they would labor.  The next day they all departed for their new fields and commenced working.  We were able to send missionaries to the following towns: Taft, Tehachapi, Oildale, Bakersfield, and a pair were sent up to a town by the name of Bishop.  There was not a record in the mission of missionaries ever having been sent there.

After all the elders were assigned and working, I took three Elders with me and drove to Bishop.  We spent a few days there surveying the town and trying to find out if there were any members of the Church living there.  To our surprise we found twenty three members of the Church.  Of course, none of them were active as there was no Church organization in the area.  I spent about a week there with my companion and the two Elders who were going to work in Bishop.  Soon after this we organized a Branch there, and it was here in Bishop, on December 7, 1941 that we had just close our Sunday School when someone turned on the radio and the news came blaring out that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  Of course, we knew our whole country would soon be involved in the conflict that is known as World War II.

One day the two Lady Missionaries who were working out in Oildale, came in to the office asking if I would go the next week with them to a Cottage Meeting they had scheduled.  They were a little concerned as they knew a Lady Minister would be present.  Of course, I had a meeting scheduled for the same night but sent Elder Crandall.  It turned out that this Lady Minister, Doctor Button, lived within two blocks from where we did and was traveling six or eight miles to attend this Cottage Meeting.  Within a couple of weeks Elder Crandall transferred the meeting over into our neighborhood, to the delight of the Lady Missionaries.  He told them he would bring the District President with him the next time, which he did. 

The first question Dr. Button asked me when I entered with Elder Crandall was, “If I should decide I wanted to join your church and asked to, would I have to deny all the spiritual experiences I have had?”  My answer to her was, “Our Church was founded on revelation, which in, and of itself, is a highly spiritual experience.”  That seemed to strike her very pleasantly and that night we started a very congenial, friendly relationship.

We met regularly every week with her in her home and enjoyed the Spirit of the Lord to a very great degree.  LIving with her, was her grand daughter, Dorothy McKnight.  One evening she came through the living room where we were meeting with her grandmother.  We invited her to stay and listen to our message.  She thanked us very graciously but said she had an appointment and would probably stay and visit with us next week.

From then on we had two visitors at the weekly cottage meeting.  This went on for a few months, then one day I received a telegram from the office in Los Angeles telling me to pick up a couple of Lady Missionaries arriving in Bakersfield, via the bus, in the afternoon.  This I did and Sister Whitehead and Sister Cummings got off the bus prepared to labor in Bakersfield.  We didn’t have much time before the cottage meeting with Dr. Button and Dorothy McKnight so I merely got them a place to stay with one of the families of saints and asked them if they wanted to attend this meeting that night with Elder Crandall and me.  Of course they did, especially because it was with a minister.  Perhaps you can imagine our happy surprise that night to hear the Dr. apply for baptism. 

It had grown into a habit each week that after our subject matter was completed and we had taught them that part of the Gospel plan we had decided on, that Dorothy would bring in some sort of refreshment such as pie and ice cream.  This night, when we had finished the lesson, and Dorothy had gone out into the kitchen to dish up the pie, Sister Button asked me how much longer I had on my mission.  To this I replied, between four or five months.  Then she said, with tears in her eyes, “Sometime, before you go home, if you would think I’m worthy, I would like for you to baptize me.”   This was a real thrill for all of us present, to see this ex-minister apply to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Then she said, “I purposely waited until Dorothy had gone out into the other room as I don’t want to influence her.  I want her to make her own decision.”  So as we left that night, Dorothy was not aware that her grandmother wanted to join.  The very next morning there was a transfer in the mail for me to leave and go to San Diego to labor. 

Elder D. Lyle Wynn came in to take my place as District President, and I left along with Elder Sorenson who was transferred with me.  Shortly after arriving in San Diego I received a letter from Dorothy McKnight asking me if I would baptize her along with her grandmother when I came up through there the next time.  Of course, this made me very happy, and it was only three weeks later that I was passing through there and did baptize Dorothy, but Dr. Button was sick at the time it was decided wise to wait awhile for her.  I never did get back to baptize Dr. Button as I was scheduled to report for duty in the Army as soon as I was released from my mission.  I wrote to Dr. Button and told her that she should go ahead and have one of the other Elders baptize her and not wait any longer.  She wrote back and said she would wait until after I had gone home in case things changed and I did get back there down her way, which I never did.

A little background on Dr. Button: As a young girl she met her husband while in a seminary studying for the ministry of the Methodist Church.  They were married and her husband became a minister of that Church.  In course of time he passed away, and she took over the congregation as she was prepared and ordained by that church as a minister.  She preached in it for sometime but something kept telling her that it was not the truth.  Eventually she resigned from it and got a job traveling as an evangelist for the Evangelical Organization. She did this for sometime and eventually the same feeling came over her, and she said she knew it was not true.  She had become so disappointed by this time that she resigned the ministry with the statement that the true church was not upon the earth,  and that if any organization ever got a tag or label on her it would have to be a good one.  Then we came along and she said it didn’t take her long to gain a testimony of its truthfulness.

Elder Sorenson and I went to San Diego where we labored for three weeks.  During this time we were tracting one day and met a couple by the name of Sanders.  I’ll never forget his greeting after inviting us in.  He stood in the front of us and said, “Now listen, if you have come here to try to teach us anything that can’t be proven from the Bible, you are wasting your time, and you just a well go right now, as to try to do that.”  With this greeting I assured him if we couldn’t prove it from the Bible we would leave on our own.  With this he smiled and said, “What kind of a God do you believe in?”  This opened up a good discussion, and we taught him our understanding of God and read several scriptures in the Bible to substantiate our belief.  After I had presented him the lesson on the Godhead that I had prepared and had marked well in the Bible, I ended by bearing my testimony to him and then making the statement, “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.”  To this he paused a minute then enthusiastically exclaimed, “That is the most intelligent statement I have ever heard.”  Of course, I was only in San Diego three weeks, but I read in the Mission paper, “The Calimis”, later where Elder Sorenson had baptized the family, which was a great thrill to me.  Brother and Sister Bert Sanders had come into the Church.

Shortly after we arrived in Sand Diego, President Rufus K. Hardy, of the First Council of the Seventy, came down to hold a District Meeting.  He was in California taking President Blood’s place, who had gone home sick.  When he found out who I was we had some good visits.  He was on his mission in far away New Zealand when my Mother’s folks joined the Church.  Shortly after he left, I received a letter from him in company with another letter from the First Presidency of the Church telling me to leave and go to San Francisco to serve as an Assistant to the new Mission President, German E. Ellsworth.  He was the newly appointed President of the Northern California Mission they had just organized.  It was on this trip north that I baptized Dorothy McKnight as I went through Bakersfield.

When I arrived in San Francisco it was raining and nearly evening by the time I found the Mission Home.  Parking out in front of the office I went in and met President Ellsworth, his wife and the other missionaries who were there.  Among them was Elder Crandall, the new Mission Bookkeeper.  I recall as we sat around the table eating supper; Sister Ellsworth suggested that I put my car in the garage.  One of the Sisters spoke up saying they had their clothes hanging in the garage drying after laundering them.  I said, “Oh, that is all right because my car is also wet.”  To this they all got a good laugh and Elder Crandall spoke up and said, “See, I told you, you would have a hard time getting ahead of him.” 

That night and the next day I spent time with President Ellsworth outlining what he had in mind for me to do.  It was here that I learned that when he was made President of the new mission, he had asked Elder Stephen L. Richards, of the Council of the Twelve, for some man, perhaps an ex-Bishop, or Stake President to be sent out to help him get the new mission going.  Brother Richards told him he had such a man in the Southern Mission but would have to get it okayed by the First Presidency.  This is why I received the letter that sent me to San Francisco.  I spent the rest of my mission traveling around the (new) mission teaching other missionaries how to do the work.  I would work in one District all during the week and then the President would either phone me or wire me to tell me where I was to be on the weekend to hold or help him hold a conference.  In the three months I had left I covered the entire Northern Mission of California.

On my way up to San Francisco I received a letter as I was going through Bakersfield, from Clayton M. Coalwell from La Grande.  He had written to my old address and they held it for me.  In this letter he told me that they, the Stake Presidency of the Union Stake at home, had reorganized the LaGrande 2nd Ward and he was the new Bishop.  He said he was going to keep J. Norman Feik as the first counselor as he had already been in the Bishopric as a counselor to W. J. Briggs.  Then he asked me if I would serve as his second counselor when I returned from my mission.  If I would, then they would hold the position open for me.  Of course, I answered telling him I would serve wherever the Lord wanted me to serve.  A short while later I received another letter from him to the effect that they had received new instructions from the First Presidency, saying not to call anyone of military age into any position in the Church that would give them draft exemption status without special permission from the First Presidency.  In view of these new instructions they might not be able to use me in the newly organized Bishopric.  He stated that they had written for that permission but would have to wait until they heard from Salt Lake before doing anything.  It wasn’t until the week before I was to be released that I received my instruction that I had been approved and for me to stop in Salt Lake and be set apart as a Counselor in the LaGrande Second Ward Bishopric.

The last week of my Mission, after having visited all of the districts in the Mission except Reno, Nevada, President Ellsworth called me into his office for a visit.  It was here that he showed me a letter from a Mr. Ray Allen from La Grande, who had written telling him if he wanted to keep me in the Mission Field for another six months that he would pay my expenses.  He also showed me a letter from the First Presidency saying that no Missionary was to be kept in the field longer than his two years because of our nation being involved in war, and we were not to try to avoid serving our country.  Therefore I would have to be released. 

Then, he told me to go to Reno, Nevada, hold the Conference there and instruct the Missionaries.  Then, even though it would only be the twenty fourth of April and my release date was set for the twenty sixth, he told me to go on home.  There was no need to drive all the way back one day and turn right around and return the next.

I was in Reno, Nevada when my release took effect, and with instruction to stop in Salt Lake to be set apart as a Counselor in the Bishopric, it would not allow for me to go back down to Bakersfield to baptize Dr. Button.  One of the other Elders took care of it.

One other thought concerning Dr. Button and her membership in the Church:  Each year for two or three years she would lock up her office and go up to Salt Lake to do Temple work and research in genealogy.  She was a Chiropractic Doctor.  Eventually she accepted a “Call” to fill a full time mission for the Church, and she did it in the Southern States.

It was Saturday, just before noon when I arrived in Salt Lake.  I stayed all night in the home of Elder Don Thorpe, one of the very wonderful Elders I worked with in Riverside, California.  They treated me wonderfully, and I stayed there for nearly a week.

The next morning, which was Sunday, I went out to go to Church with my sister and brother-in-law, Paul and Helen Zaugg.  My sister, Ida and her new husband, Mark P. Lyman, were out visiting with Paul and Helen.  Ida had married Mark while I was on my mission.  We ate dinner there and spent the day before returning to Salt Lake.

The first of the week, or Monday morning, I went into the Church Offices to be interviewed and report my mission.  At this time I was also set apart by George F. Richards, as a Counselor to Clayton M. Coalwell in the Bishopric of the LaGrande Second Ward.

After spending a week in Salt Lake, I drove on home.  Leaving early in the morning from Clearfield from the home of Paul Zaugg, we drove along together...

As we entered the Grand Ronde Valley, it surely did look good to be back home again.  The thought came over me, that no matter where I had been, no place was any prettier than this valley where I had grown up...

What a thrill it was to drive down our lane and stop at the house.  No one was in sight when I stopped but soon Mother, having been in the back of the house, came out.  I ran to her throwing my arms around her and even lifting her off her feet.  It was great to be back home.  Mother looked really good.  She was in good health and beaming with the brightness of spring.  It was wonderful to have a few moments with her alone before anyone else came in on the scene.  I know she was thrilled to have me home.  I was the first one of her children to fill a mission and now, here I was home after being gone for two years, returning with an honorable release from my Mission.  We talked a little about my mission and some of the success that had developed out there.  I had a wonderful mission.  It was something I wouldn’t trade for anything, but now that was completed, and it was wonderful to be able to report back to my Mother and let her know I had filled it honorably. 

Vern L. Nebeker

LDS Mission to California

1940 -- 1942

The story of Vern’s full-time mission really begins prior to his “call”.  Here is a brief run-down of the events that helped prepare him to serve a successful mission.

Dec. 27, 1936 (age 22)    Vern was set apart as the Elder’s Quorum President of the First Quorum of Elders in the Union Stake (LaGrande, Oregon).

Spring, 1937.    Vern was called (in addition to the above) to be the 2nd Counselor in the LaGrande 2nd Ward Sunday School.

Aug. 29, 1937.    Vern was released from the Stake Fund and Membership position (in the YMMIA) and called to be the 2nd Counselor in the Stake YMMIA.

September 1937.    Vern was called to be the Dance Director for the 2nd Ward.

Mar. 27, 1938.    Vern was set apart as a Stake Missionary, to serve as a companion with Noah Feak.

May 14, 1938.    Vern was called to serve on the Union Stake High Council, and ordained a High Priest by the Apostle John A. Widtsoe.  At this time he was released from his calling as President of the Elder’s Quorum, but was not released from his Stake Mission, or his other YMMIA & Sunday School callings.

Mar. 5, 1940 (age 25).    Vern received a call to serve as a full-time missionary in the California Mission.

Mar. 29, 1940.    Vern was released from a successful Stake Mission, after having confirmed five new members into the Church.  He was also released, at this time from his position on the High Council, as counselor in the Stake YMMIA, 2nd Counselor in the LaGrande 2nd Ward Sunday School Superintendency, and as the Ward Dance Director. 

Apr. 2, 1940.    Vern went through the Salt Lake Temple for the first time.

Apr. 15, 1940.    Vern entered the Mission Home in Salt Lake City. 

Having had prior experiences as a Stake Missionary for two years, and also as an Elder’s Quorum President for two years, along with other Church opportunities and responsibilities, gave him a good foundation for going out to represent the Church in California.  Vern often credited his Stake Mission companion, Noah Feak, with being the man who was especially instrumental in teaching him how to mark his scriptures and how to teach the gospel to others in a logical and organized manner, using those scriptures in an effective and persuasive manner.  Upon his release from his Stake Mission, his younger brother, Wiley, was called to take his place as the Stake Missionary companion of this good Brother Feik.  That experience was equally good in preparing another young Nebeker to be an excellent missionary in Hawaii almost two years later.

Vern L. Nebeker

age 20 years old

Vern Nebeker

as a missionary in California

about age 25

Vern as a missionary, with his first car.

Elder Wiley Nebeker and Elder Vern Nebeker

meeting briefly in California, as Wiley was boarding a ship

for his mission in the Hawaiian Islands