Up to now, Nephi and company have just been camping out in the wilderness, going on little side trips from time to time. First they traveled from "the land of Jerusalem" to the shore of the Red Sea, a distance of at least 400 km. Then Nephi and his brothers made the return trip Jerusalem twice: first to get Lehi's brass plates and again to get some women. And in the last chapter, God gave Nephi a magic ball that pointed in the direction that God wanted him to go and even told Nephi where to kill wild beasts. All this happened within in single year: 600 BCE.
Now it was time for some serious traveling.
They began by heading east into the wilderness, across the Arabian peninsula.
And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. 1 Nephi 17:1a
They waded through much affliction and their nameless women bore children in the wilderness.
And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. 1 Nephi 17:1b
God fed them raw meat, their women gave plenty of suck, and the children grew up quickly, becoming as strong as men during the eight year journey.
And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. ... And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness. 1 Nephi 17:2-4
After eight years of wading through affliction, eating raw meat, and getting plenty of suck, they arrived at a land they called Bountiful (because of its much fruit and also wild honey). And they saw the sea which they called Irreantum (which being interpreted means nothing at all).
And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters. 1 Nephi 17:5
Then it came to pass after a space of many days that he, Nephi, heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Arise, get thee into the mountain." So Nephi got into the mountain and cried unto the Lord.
And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord. 1 Nephi 17:7
While Nephi was crying on the mountain top, God told him to build a ship.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. 1 Nephi 17:8
Nephi asked God where he would find the ore to make the metal to make the tools to make the ship.
And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? 1 Nephi 17:9
But it was no big deal. God showed Nephi where to find the ore to make the tools.
And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools. 1 Nephi 17:10
Nephi made a bellows from the skin of beasts so he could blow on a fire, which he made by striking two stones together.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire. 1 Nephi 17:11
Up to this time, you see, Nephi et al had no fire as they journeyed through the wilderness. They ate raw meat, which God sweetened for them.
For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not; 1 Nephi 17:12
So Nephi was pretty much all set. God showed Nephi where to mine the ore, from which he made ship-building tools using his trusty beast-skin bellows and striking stones.
And it came to pass that I did make tools of the ore which I did molten out of the rock. 1 Nephi 17:16
But when Nephi's brothers saw what he was doing they began to murmur against him.
And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. 1 Nephi 17:17
Whereupon Nephi began a long, boring 1000-word sermon. Among many other things (that I'm going to skip) he told his brothers that God straitens murmurers by sending fiery flying serpents to bite and kill them.
The Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them. 1 Nephi 17:41
Then Nephi reminded them about stuff they'd already seen on the trip: talking angels from time to time that sometimes whispered and sometimes screamed so loudly that the earth shook.
Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder. 1 Nephi 17:45
But Nephi's brothers were tired of Nephi and his screaming angels. So they tried to throw him into the sea. It didn't work, though, because Nephi he was filled with the power of God even to the consuming of his flesh and whoever touched him would wither like a dried reed.
And now it came to pass that when I had spoken these words, they were angry with me, and were desirous to throw me into the depths of the sea; and as they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him. 1 Nephi 17:48
Nephi kept talking on and on about many things to his brothers. Finally Nephi's brothers gave up and durst not touch Nephi with their fingers for the space of many days.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said many things unto my brethren, insomuch that they were confounded and could not contend against me; neither durst they lay their hands upon me nor touch me with their fingers, even for the space of many days. Now they durst not do this lest they should wither before me, so powerful was the Spirit of God; and thus it had wrought upon them. 1 Nephi 17:52
Still, God wasn't completely satisfied. He decided not to wither Nephi's brothers like dried reeds, but to shock the hell out of them instead. Just to show off a bit.
And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thine hand again unto thy brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them, saith the Lord, and this will I do, that they may know that I am the Lord their God. 1 Nephi 17:53
And it came to pass that Nephi stretched forth his hand to his brethren and they didn't wither, but the Lord did shake them, just like he said that he would.
And it came to pass that I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and they did not wither before me; but the Lord did shake them, even according to the word which he had spoken. 1 Nephi 17:54
And that did the trick. After God shocked Nephi's brothers they knew of a surety that God was with Nephi. They even wanted to worship Nephi, but Nephi told them not to, saying, "Oh My Heck, you guys, I'm just your younger brother."
And now, they said: We know of a surety that the Lord is with thee, for we know that it is the power of the Lord that has shaken us. And they fell down before me, and were about to worship me, but I would not suffer them, saying: I am thy brother, yea, even thy younger brother. 1 Nephi 17:55