(Tom) I was wondering about where you were born and raised, and about your parents.
(Sister Myrtle) I was born in New Mexico. My parents moved to Tennessee when I was 4 years old and we lived there a while; dont remember just how long, then we moved to Lawrence County TN. There I spent more years of my life. I received the Holy Ghost about 1936. After we lived there a while, I had the chance to go to Louisville with Brother Delbert and his sister. I stayed there until the war.
(Tom) What was it that caused you to start seeking the Holy Ghost?
(Sister Myrtle) I was in the Presbyterian; my daddy invited me to the alter at 8 years old, but I was never happy or satisfied. I felt like something was missing. That began to bother me very deeply. I would just work a while in the field alone and just work a while and look up and say "Oh God, isnt there more to it than this." I would work a little more and say "Oh God, isnt there something more than this". I would just carry on like that. I was deeply concerned. So concerned I began to feel something was wrong. I kept asking if there was more than this. I was a little older then. I just did not know what to think. I just knew there was something missing but I did not know how to ask questions. Did not know what it was all about. When I was about 13-14, I began to question it real strong. At the time I was going through this, I think they were praying in Louisville, they knew they were going to come to Tennessee. I think they were praying about what would happen when they came.
(Tom) Anyone in particular? Was that Brother Delbert Maupin and Sister Mae Adams?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes, it was Brother Delbert, Sister Mae and one of her sisters, Elizabeth. I was satisfied that the holy Ghost was what I wanted when they came, but I just did not know how to give up and start. I just let it pass on that time. Several months later, they came back again and brought more people with them: Sister Mabel Grady and their sister in law, Frances. This time, I went up to Sister Mae, she laid hands on me, and I did not feel anything then. She prayed, "Lord, help her to believe!" When she said help me to believe, I started crying and went backwards. I got the Holy Ghost that night, but I did not speak in tongues anymore; there would be times I would doubt whether I had it or not. Brother Frank came down and had some meetings. He held some in our home too.
(Tom) Where was your daddy during this?
(Sister Myrtle) My daddy and mother were all in the home too.
(Tom) Did your parents mind this?
(Sister Myrtle) They did not let me know that they did not like it at the time. My daddy would let us pray at night before we went to bed, maybe once a week, just to have a prayer before bed. That was all right as long as we got down on our knees and asked the Lord to help us through the night and thank Him for what he had done for us, and little things like that. He was pleased with just a formal prayer. But then I wanted to get closer to the Lord and felt like I needed to get outside. I thought if I could just call out real loud to God that I could get somewhere. At that time, I did not realize the neighbors were going to hear me in the garden. The neighbors began to grumble to my daddy. After they grumbled to him, he said I had to stop the praying. I did not get back at him at all. I said to myself, it may stop now, but I am going to pray somewhere, sometime. Yes, I am going to pray somewhere, sometime. I started then just kneeling down at my bedside each night and in the morning. I got by like that for a while. Then we moved on the other side of the county in the country. We started having prayer meetings once in a while in our home. After that, Delbert, Mae, and her sister came down and had a meeting at "Possum Trot". After the meeting, they ask papa and mama about me going home with them and he was willing for me to go. I went to Louisville then. After I had been there a while, Papa and the rest of them from home had moved up from Tennessee. Mama had died in 1940. I went with them in the home. I decided the mission was closing in Louisville, because Delbert was going in the Army. Another mission I knew of was closing so I decided to go to North Carolina.
(Tom) Who did you go with?
(Sister Myrtle) I went alone on the bus. I promised the Lord that if He got me a job, I would go. I got the job working in a war plant. I worked two weeks, got my check -- I went to the grocery store-- clothing store-- and spent every penny of it. It dawned on me that I promised the Lord that I would go to North Carolina when I got the money. It seemed like it came to me that I could keep working and get another check. When I got that check, I started out. Then I came to North Carolina. My daddy was always writing for me to come home and stay. My baby sister told me that she didnt know whether or not it was God wanting me to stay; but she did not want to say anything about it. She said she knew I thought it was God. She had that much confidence in me.
(Tom) Did you know Brother Clark at that time?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes. He had been down to Tennessee with Brother Frank. He came one time.
(Tom) Was that the first time you handled a snake, down in Tennessee?
(Sister Myrtle) No, that was in Kentucky. Oh, about the snake handlers. I was working on Sutcliff Avenue in Louisville and I had just been to spend the night with Cleo. I was getting ready to get back on the bus to go to Sutcliff Avenue where I lived. Cleo was talking to her son and he seemed interested in what she was saying. I asked her what he was talking about and she said that Brother Green was coming back with the snakes.
(Tom) Where was Brother Green from?
(Sister Myrtle) The mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. I was always really afraid of snakes. I think my mother got scared when she was carrying me and I always felt that is what made me so afraid of them. I thought I would either have to get closer to God or else I couldnt make it. I felt if I did not handle one, I would be lost. I dont guess it would have been like that. I did not pray to handle the snake, I just prayed to obey God. Every morning and night I would ask the Lord to help me obey. I thought maybe I could get by without handling a snake. I was praying, "Lord I just want to obey". I would pray that morning and night. One morning I woke up with a strange feeling in my hand. I felt a little weeping. I felt kind of humble. I felt something in my hand and God said, " this is to handle snakes." I began to say, Oh Lord, what is this all about. I was crying and I did not know why and said this is to handle snakes. I thought well, this is it. I went on all day and forgot all about that and came to the meeting. There they were, handling snakes. I let them all go by the first time. They put them back in the box. I began to feel so cramped. I said, Lord just dont let them be able to sing or do anything for very long so they will open that box again. It worked, just like I had prayed. They could not find anything to sing and the one they planned to sing did not last long. So they got the box and somebody brought them over to me. I just held my hands open and they laid the snake in my hands. I stood there and praised the Lord. The love I felt was just like loving a baby. You know how it feels when you are holding a baby, how innocent it is. I felt that same kind of love before I could handle the snake. It was the love of God. People talk about never handling one but they just dont know the love that comes over them. A love can cast out fear; when you feel that love and not the fear, then you can handle them. I would not advise anyone to do it who did not have some experience with it. I would not advise them to try it. If the fear is not cast out, it is not doing anything.
(Tom) What do you think is the reason they handled snakes? Why did they do it? We do not see that around here anymore.
(Sister Myrtle) It (the Bible) said they shall take up serpents. Some people try to spiritualize it in meaning it to handle other things that were evil, but why would it be. It worked in my case. I would not advise anyone to handle them if they did not have some experience and felt like they should do it.
(Tom) Did you do it after that as well; any other time? Did Brother Delbert put a stop to it?
(Sister Myrtle) No. They went away. After they went away, they called or had written back and wanted to come back with the snakes, but Delbert said no. He said we let them come and we accepted what they had. In other words, we picked up snakes, and we told them about the new birth and they did not accept what we had. We accepted what they had, but they did not accept ours. He said that would be us following the signs instead of signs following us if we continued for them to come and we kept handling the snakes. We would be following the signs instead of letting the signs follow us. He said no, that he did not want them to come back under those circumstances. That was reasonable.
(Tom) Sounds like wisdom to me. Let me ask you just a couple more questions. How did you meet Brother Murray?
(Sister Myrtle) His mother lived in the country a few miles from Henderson, NC and they had some meetings down there. He was in the military, but home when I saw him coming up the hill with his mother. I dont remember if he went to the meeting at that time and I dont remember having any conversation with him. I went back to Henderson and he got back on the train to go back somewhere. I dont think I saw him anymore until the war was over. When the war was over, he went to see his brother in Texas, at Fort Worth or somewhere in Dallas. I believe it was Fort Worth. He went to see him and then he stayed on the farm for a little bit but he did not like farming. He got his brother to farm a little for him. He came to Henderson and stayed around Brother Clark. He was nervous after he had been in the service. He got to working with the tracks. After he stayed so long a time around Brother Clark, he got to where his nerves had calmed down a lot. Then he got a job and went to work. Afterwards he began to feel happier and he began to be more talkative.
(Tom) You were working at a lunch counter?
(Sister Myrtle) Yes, I was working at a lunch counter and he was working for the school, in maintenance. We decided to get married. We were married 44 years and 4 months.
(Tom) Let me ask you one more question. I was sitting here trying to do my math. You said you received the Holy Ghost in 1936. Thats about 62 years ago. Is that right?
(Sister Myrtle) I guess so.
(Tom) I guess what I would like to ask you is this. Of all the experiences you have had with the Lord in those 62 years, and think about all the young people now, at the meetings here, at the Gospel Tract News and Brother Johns meeting, what advice would you like to give us? After all these years, what sticks out in your mind that you would like to pass on to us.
(Sister Myrtle) I would tell them to seek God while they are young and to be slow to do anything. Seek God about anything they want to do, especially if it is life time decision. To seek God before they make their decisions. Of course, I would tell them to seek the Holy Ghost so they could have the Lord to help them with their decision.
(Tom) Is there anything else you would like to add before we close out. Anything else, an experience or anything that comes to mind that you would like to talk about?
(Sister Myrtle) I would say not to give up when you are persecuted. (I call it persecution.) As young as I was at the time, my parents were persecuting me for praying out loud. Of course, you dont have to pray out loud to hold on to God as far as that goes. I was a child. I have heard someone say, " How do people hold onto God in the cities where they cant get out and pray loud." I would just say regardless of what the struggle is, dont give up. God will make a way.