This week the Church News podcast featured an interview with Sister Wendy W. Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson. The episode, titled “Sister Wendy W. Nelson on being an eyewitness to President Russell M. Nelson’s four years as Prophet,” covers a wide variety of topics, exploring what it has been like for Sister Nelson to watch her husband’s historic ministry as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the interview, Sister Nelson shares several stories that give listeners a view into President Nelson’s vibrant character and personality, including in his roles as husband, father, and grandfather. Here are some particularly heartwarming stories she shared.
Spending Time at Home
Speaking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the Nelsons from traveling as much as usual, Sister Nelson said:
“We have missed traveling to be with the Saints. We’ve missed being with family members and other loved ones up close and personal. But there has been one huge plus for us—actually, there’ve been several pluses. But one of them is we’ve been able to have more time together, just the two of us. It’s like we’ve been given permission to be alone together, and we’ve loved that.
“We love just talking together, playing Scrabble, working on a jigsaw puzzle for another great-grandchild or other children we love. I love listening to him play the piano. He’ll say ‘I’m wooing you.’ It’s wonderful. He’ll play everything from Elégie by Massenet to a great song out of the 60s by Connie Francis that says, ‘If it takes forever, I will wait for you.’ I tell him: ‘That’s what I did for 55 years, dear. I waited for 55 years.’”
His Voice at Home
In discussing how President Nelson’s voice is kind, loving, and uplifting in his own home, Sister Nelson said:
“If I’m seeking his opinion on something that might be good for us to do, he uses it as an opportunity to let me know how much he trusts me. I’ll give you an example: I might say, ‘Honey, do you think it would be good if we—’ and then he doesn’t even let me finish the sentence before he enthusiastically responds, ‘Yes.’
“And usually, when he did that, I said, ‘Oh, how can you say yes when you haven’t even heard of what I’m proposing?’ His response was, and I love this: ‘Because I know you. I know you’ve thought it through, and if you think it’s a good idea, so do I.’ So, he’s really easy to love.”
Concern for Neighbors
Sister Nelson also spoke about President Nelson’s concern for neighbors and others:
“For the first 12 years of our marriage, we lived in North Salt Lake and in the winter, it snowed a lot. We often measured the accumulation of snow by feet, not by inches. I remember one Sunday when the high priest group leader came, ashen-faced, to me and said, ‘Oh, Sister Nelson, we’re so embarrassed. We just learned that Elder Nelson does his own snow removal.’
“Well, of course, I thanked him for his concern but added with a little grin, ‘If you really want to help him, clear the neighbor’s walks.’ Because after each snowstorm, my husband would bundle up, spend hours removing the snow from all the sidewalks in our neighborhood. He loved every moment, he would say, ‘I’m going to go out to play in the snow and help our neighbors.’
“Also each Monday throughout the year after garbage pickup, he would roll each neighbor’s large garbage bins from the road back up to their home. Some people had more than two bins, several had long sloping driveways.
“Now, these are really simple, neighborly gestures, but the consistency of them by President Nelson softened the heart of one of our neighbors, a great woman who had convinced herself and others that she was really committed to not liking Latter-day Saints. However, President Nelson’s consistent kindness and thoughtfulness reached her heart, and one Christmas, she left a loving note and a handmade item on our porch to thank him.”
Eagerness to Help
Speaking of President Nelson’s eagerness to help his wife, no matter the time, Sister Nelson shared this insight:
“President Nelson never delays; he never puts off anything. I learned this early in our marriage. We would be drifting off to sleep, and I would think of something I needed his help with. I’d softly mention it to him as something that we might do on the weekend. And he would bolt up in bed and say enthusiastically, ‘So what’s wrong with now?’ And suddenly, we would be in the garage looking for a hammer and nail to hang a picture.”
At the end of the interview, Sister Nelson stated, “What I know today, even more than I know four years ago, is that before the foundations of this earth—that’s a long time ago—that Russell Marion Nelson was foreordained by God to be the Lord’s Prophet to the world, and president of the Lord’s Church at this precise time.
“I’ve learned that when precision is involved, you always know the Lord is involved. I’m struck with President Nelson’s really unique preparations, his unique abilities, his unique sensitivities that have helped him and continue to help him do exactly what the Lord needs to have done.”