Friend to Friend


Sister Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen

“Before I was eight years old, I sometimes walked in my sleep. I would get up at night without knowing it and do strange things. One night I went to a neighbor’s home and told them that my parents weren’t home. Another time, I walked into a neighbors’ home in the middle of the night and gave them a bunch of daisies because they had just had a new baby. When I learned about what I had done, I became very frightened and couldn’t sleep at night. My mother suggested that I pray about my problem. She prayed with me that I would be able to sleep without sleepwalking. From then on, I was able to sleep without fear. Praying and receiving that help was a personal, spiritual experience for me.”

Sister Betty Jo Jepsen was born in Boise, Idaho, but she spent most of her childhood on a farm in Mink Creek in southern Idaho. Her Nelson grandparents lived with them for a while, then moved next door, and Sister Jepsen was very close to them. “I spent a lot of time with my grandmother in my preschool years,” Sister Jepsen recalls. “She was a hardworking woman, and she saved everything! We had a very large house, and several rooms in it were devoted to the things that my grandmother saved. Grandmother made quilts for all her grandchildren from material that she had saved. The quilts are a wonderful remembrance of her, and I treasure them because I know the amount of work that went into making them.

“Grandmother taught me to knit before I was old enough to go to school, and I still have the first pot holder that I made. Although it was made of red rug yarn and difficult to knit, Grandmother taught me how to do it with a nice, tight stitch. Sister Crane, a neighbor, and one of Grandmother’s good friends, asked me to teach her how to knit, and I felt honored.

“Another thing that happened when I was a girl that gave me a great sense of self-worth was helping in the country store next door to our house. The store owner showed me how to price goods, figure out prices from invoices, stock shelves, weigh meats and candies, make change, and wait on customers. When he and his wife had business away from home, they left me with a key to open the store in the morning, and I was in charge until they returned.

“My two younger brothers and I all had chores to do on the farm. My family raised cattle, milk cows, horses, chickens, and pigs, plus the grain and alfalfa to feed them. We children gathered eggs and helped with the feeding of the calves and the cows in the dairy herd. Each spring Dad would give us a calf to train and groom for the Franklin County Fair in the fall.

“I learned a lot about the willfulness of those animals. It seemed that every time I got my calf cleaned up, it would lie down and get dirty again, and I had to start over. Teaching an animal to lead on a rope halter took patience and consistency.

“One year I had a calf all ready for the fair to be held the next day. We put it in a stanchion in the barn and laid down fresh straw to keep the calf clean. In the morning we found that the calf had hanged itself in the stanchion. I learned a significant lesson: In spite of some failures and heartbreaks, I could rise above them. I have a happier memory of another year when I won second place overall for show and form for an animal that I had groomed.

“My father was a ditch-master for many years. When water didn’t come down a ditch when it was supposed to, he walked the ditch to find out where it was held up. Often when we walked with him, we knew exactly who had diverted the water and that it was probably an oversight. My dad never said anything mean or cross about the people with whom he dealt. He just took care of the problem.

“My mother loved living in Mink Creek. Often in the evening she would help me hear the special song of a killdeer—a bird whose song sounded like ‘Pretty Little Mink Creek.’

“She always served in the Church, and she was always present at our school activities. She often helped us with our chores so that we could get to our activities and to church. The chapel was right across the street from our house, and it was a pleasant, happy place to be.

“Primary is a safe and happy place where children can learn to make right decisions and not be bombarded by evil. It is a reverent place, Heavenly Father’s spirit is there. Children can learn about trust and love in Primary. Children can trust their teacher; they can trust their leaders. They can love their bishop; they can love each other.

“To see what children are capable of now astounds me. Learning about the characters, the prophets, the stories, the principles in the Book of Mormon was easy for children during the 1988 emphasis on this book of scripture. I have heard children all over the world bear testimony about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.

“Children, learn who you are. Learn that you are a child of God, and always act accordingly so you can be protected from the evils of the world and one day return to His presence.”