Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 54, 1886

Diary, April to May 1886

[Torre Pellice, Italy]

April 18 - May 19, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 245; EGWE 177, 187.

[Written as an installment letter to J. E. White and wife, and Frank and Hattie Belden.] 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 1

Torre Pellice, April 18

It is raining. All is astir in Torre Pellice as early as five A.M., and there is a constant clatter, clatter of big wooden shoes on the stone pavements. I opened my sash door, which is the only window in my room, stepped out on the balcony, and looked at the sky draped with clouds upon the Alps covered with snow, and then upon the foothills and valleys clothed with a garment of living green, and upon the cherry and plum trees white with blossoms. The pink peach trees contrast with the white, fragrant blossoms of apple, pear, plum, and cherry, and the atmosphere is fragrant with these beautiful blossoms. And my heart is filled with love to God. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 2

I see a providence in all of God’s works. Clouds are not pleasant for present convenience, but an unseen hand is at work blessing the earth, making nature very lovely. The clouds and rain, as well as the bright sunshine, have their mission in blessings to man. The God of nature knows just what we need, and He moves forward in a straight line, sending blessings upon the just and upon the unjust. I am so grateful that finite minds cannot have the ordering of things. What cross purposes would be revealed! 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 3

Notwithstanding the rain, we hired a horse that would not go up the ascent of the mountain to Villar Pellice, where I had an appointment at four o’clock, and our livery team went only on a slow walk, making us late to our appointment. Elder Bourdeau opened the meeting and talked some minutes before we arrived. The house was literally packed. The peasant women were dressed neatly, with their cap-like bonnets of pure white. Their dresses were all blue—some a darker shade than others. I never saw a space so literally packed as was that house. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 4

I spoke upon Christ’s riding in Jerusalem, His weeping upon the crest of Olivet over the devoted city, because of His mercy and love being rejected. I dwelt especially upon the mercy and love of Jesus in dying for sinful man that he might not perish in his sins. I had great freedom. I could scarcely contain my feelings. How I longed to lead them to the fountain of living waters. I longed to have them see and obey the truth. Many were affected to tears, and several understood English. But we cannot expect that with the errors they have accepted, sound doctrines will be seen by them at once. We must have great patience with them. The pastors have not led them in advanced steps, for they remain stationary themselves. Old customs, traditions, and false doctrines satisfy them. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 5

I have sought to urge upon the people that God wants them to advance step by step, walking in the light as He is in the light, going forward and upward toward heaven. Truth and duty must now engage their attention. I tell you the Lord will break down these barriers and permit us to reach the people where they are, notwithstanding the efforts of the ministers to prevent this and to keep the people in darkness. The message given to them from heaven will reach them in God’s providence. Meanwhile we will watch, we will pray, we will work wherever we can. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 6

When the meeting closed, all pressed about me to speak with me and to shake my hand. All had words to speak in thanks to me. I pointed them up to thank God. One who spoke in French said, “My sister, you have worked well tonight.” While I was speaking, some of the people who could talk French tried to translate to their Italian friends, but none of these things disturbed me. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 7

When we arrived at Brother Bourdeau’s, we found letters from America, and how eagerly we perused them. You will have to have the experience in order to appreciate this pleasure of receiving news from friends from whom you have been separated a long time. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 8

April 19

Raining still. Remain indoors. Could not go to my appointment at Villar Pellice, five miles. Elder Bourdeau went, however, and the room was crowded, and more than one hundred were outside who could not get in. Elder Bourdeau went on foot. The people expected to hear me, but I could not go because of rain. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 9

This is a hard field, but we are to sow beside all waters. These valleys have been watered with the blood of the Christian Waldenses, and it must be that the seed of truth will spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God. We will work, we will pray, and we will believe. It is no harder a field than Jesus found when He came to our world. He had hearts fully as hard, fully as difficult to reach. It was then as it is now, the teachers stand directly in the way of the message of mercy and truth’s reaching the people. Jesus met with discouragements, and so do we. He worked on earnestly, unselfishly, so must we. A Paul may plant and an Apollos water, but God giveth the increase. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 10

We feel an intense interest for these Waldensian valleys, that the light of truth shall be set upon a candlestick that it may give light to all in these valleys. God has given us our work, and He has not left it for us to choose the easiest places. We must work wherever we can, in opposition, in discouragement, in hope and fear and much trembling, lest our labors will be in vain. We must meet obstacles and in faith surmount them. It is no easy matter to come up square against forms and customs and tradition and try to show them a better way. Lord, help us; Lord, bless us; Lord, open the way before us, is my constant prayer. The light shines, and its rays will shine in upon the moral darkness of the people in these Piedmont valleys. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 11

April 20

A rainy day, but we will not let one shade of the outside gloom into our hearts or into our home here. We must make sunshine in cheerfulness, in grateful praise to God, that we have a precious Jesus who loves us and is this moment interceding for us. Praise His holy name. We have devoted the day to writing. Have an appointment three miles out, at St. Johns. We hired a horse and carriage that was covered and did not get wet. We found a small hall full, and there were in the congregation eight who understood English. One was a man who had spent three years in England and learned English. He interpreted for me once. There were two ministers and one school teacher and his wife present. These understood English. The Lord blessed me in the presentation of the truth. Nearly all greeted me heartily by shaking of hands and expressing their thanks for the good words spoken. I did not get to rest until about midnight. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 12

April 22

Early in the morning the clatter, clatter, clatter of the wooden shoes forbids sleeping. It is market day. Men, women, and children are rushing over the stone pavements, dragging hand wagons or carrying baskets and bundles on their heads. There is bright sunshine today, and all are preparing to exhibit their wares in the market place. Here comes a woman with a long stick on her back from which is dangling a dead kid. Two more peasant women with dead kids hanging from a pole on their backs; a woman has a live kid in her arms; a man passes with three dead kids, and now there is a full cart full of the same article—kids for market. In the market everything is displayed—drygoods of a very nice quality, socks, yarn, silk handkerchiefs, all kinds of vegetables, and an array of shoes from the finest grade to the most clumsy wooden shoes which go clatter, clatter, clatter, making a deafening sound. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 13

April 23

Rode out again to St. Johns and had a very interesting meeting. The Spirit of the Lord was in our midst, His power and Spirit were upon me in great measure. I know that others felt the presence and blessing of God. Many shook hands with me and expressed their thanks for that discourse. One minister said, “That was a beautiful text. I praise God for the words spoken tonight.” His brother, a minister, said, “I never heard humility spoken upon as you have treated it tonight.” My text was Mark 9:33-37. Others spoke in Italian, others in French. Although I could not understand their words, I did understand the quivering lips and the tearful eyes. I left an appointment for the next Tuesday. And as soon as we stepped into the carriage, the rain just poured the whole three miles. W. C. White was outside the cover and got very wet. It was eleven o’clock before we could get comfortably to bed. I did not sleep until about one o’clock. My heart was filled with such yearning of soul for these who were in darkness and who needed the light of truth. My earnest cry went up to God for special help, special wisdom to meet this people. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 14

This much of my diary I write you, but if I get this in the mail—I must send it without delay. I wish to say that good news has come to us from Italy. One intelligent worker in the Baptist church has come out decidedly on the Sabbath. He will, if he holds fast, be a great help. I hear that Brother Conradi baptized twenty at Lausanne last Sabbath and will baptize six more this week. This has taken some of the best working members from the Methodist church. The churches are terribly stirred up, both in Torre Pellice and in Lausanne. The ministers cannot stop this work. Brother Bourdeau writes that he has large congregations in Villar Pellice and in St. Johns. The ministers say they do not know what to do. They have said and done all they could, and yet the people will attend these strange meetings to hear strange doctrines. They have the promise at Villar Pellice of reinforcements in the line of a new minister to see what he can do. I spoke in Geneva once on our return route from Italy and three times in Lausanne. The work will go—praise the Lord, it will go—and man cannot hinder the work of God. Well, it is too dark for me to see to write. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 15

I did mean to get this into the mail, but failed. I will send it today. We have mail days to send letters to America—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These days there is generally a close application to writing. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 16

I have written a long letter to Brother Littlejohn, asking Addie to replace the one thousand dollars to this mission in Basel. It was cut off from this mission to give to her. I asked Littlejohn to place one thousand by its side and help us in our great need. I am doing all I can, and so is Willie, to get something started in the line of books printed at this office that will bring in some returns. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 17

I can tell you, children, that there is not much chance for idleness here. Every one has all that he can possibly do. I can see no way to leave here until one year from now. Brother Whitney will, we think, go to the conference. W. C. White and I shall not go. This is our plan—W. C. White to remain to see to things here while Whitney can go to the conference. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 18


I will add a few words more. Are you children, while associated together, growing in grace? I feel an interest for Frank and Hattie. Where are these dear children standing today in the Lord’s vineyard? What are they doing for Jesus, who has done everything for them? Is there not danger of your all making child’s play of life? God wants you to rise to a noble, elevated standard. Jesus has left nothing undone on His part that you should not be elevated, ennobled, sanctified. Are you seeking God most earnestly? Are you active in the service of Jesus Christ? Are you leaning upon your own strength, or are you making God your strength? Moments are precious—not one is to be unemployed. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 19

God has given you ability, both of you, Frank and Hattie. He requires far more of you than you give Him. He asks your whole heart, your undivided affection. Your hearts are altogether too insensible to the love of Jesus which He has given you. You need to be excited to love and good works by the sight of Calvary. You need to abase yourselves and exalt Jesus. We are in the great day of Atonement. Be careful how you do your work. Do it to God’s glory. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 20

Give the child God has given you a right mold of character. She is entrusted to you not as a mere plaything, but as one who has a soul to receive correct impressions, to become lovely in disposition and character, fitting up for Christ’s kingdom. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 21

Oh, let your hearts be broken before God. Overcome every defect in your characters, for unless you are pure and holy and undefiled you will not have a place in the kingdom of God. Let your life express the meekness of Jesus Christ. Let not pride of heart keep you separated from Jesus. Jesus loves you, and He is disappointed in you because you fall far below what you may be. God will work for you if you will place yourselves in right relation to Him. But you need His grace daily. You need to study the Scriptures to be better acquainted with the Word of God. You need to grow in reverence and trust and love to Jesus, and you need to know your own weak points of your character, and then appreciate the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanseth you from all sin. You should bring piety and religion into your everyday life. Grow in self-distrust, but depend more and more on God. Grow solidly in Christian experience. Your example will be a blessing to others. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 22

How much have you grown in grace and the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Are you not dwarfs in religious growth? Look and see if you have an experience proportionate to the light which has been shining upon your pathway. Your accountability will be according to the light given. My precious children, what a victory we must gain to enter the holy city of God! If we lose heaven, we lose everything. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 23

Now may the Lord bless these words written to you in love. I have risen before four o’clock and have written this before my breakfast. I beg of you to make a business of serving God. You have not yet learned to be faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ. It is late in the day but by diligent, earnest effort you can make a success of perfecting Christian characters. Children, unless you learn these lessons you will never, never join the happy family in heaven. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 24

May 16

I do wish I could see you and talk with you, but do not move impulsively; do not, in your business, embrace too much. Bind about as much as possible. In my last letter I wrote you that we were going to a picnic. We did so. We rode out several miles. The party went in the cars, and it was a respectable-looking company. They had to walk three miles from the cars and three miles back to the cars, which was all the exercise they needed for once. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 25

After arriving at the mansion on the hillside, they went one mile up, up, up to an old castle. This castle was built upon a rocky eminence, strikingly romantic. First there was a wall, many feet high, which enclosed the court. In this court was a garden, well cultivated. Then the dwelling rooms were built inside this rocky wall. This castle is about twelve hundred years old. The sight from this wall was most grand. There were windows in the wall, and holes for muskets to pour fire upon besiegers. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 26

There are many ruins of these old fortified castles in Switzerland and other parts of Europe. After we had enjoyed the beautiful scenery from this height, we went slowly down. It took me quite a while to climb this eminence, Willie helping me, and some time to get down—but I did it, lame as I was. I do think, children, that Switzerland contains some of the most beautiful scenery that is not equaled by any in our world. It is impossible to describe this view. If I can get a description you shall have it. I think Sister Boners [?] is now translating it from German into English. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 27

There are other interesting points, two more of equal eminence, all in sight of each other. There were four sisters who were Catholics, but did not live very pleasantly together. They had a very large amount of money and selected sites on these mountain heights for building. One stands very near us in Basel. It is a beautiful view—a chapel and houses connected with it, called St. Margaret’s. I never tire of looking upon this scenery. Another is St. Chrischana, which we shall visit next. One other sister built on this summit of a richly wooded hill five miles from Basel. There is an ancient church of St. Chrischana. Ages ago it was built there and dedicated to the virgin saint. It fell into ruins and so remained until the last forty years when it was rebuilt and dedicated to Christ, although it still retains its old name, Chrischana. Around this center are grouped several houses, the largest of which will accommodate some sixty persons. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 28

These buildings constitute the training college and headquarters of the Pilgrim Mission. The company educated there is gathered from the peasantry of Germany and Switzerland—young men who have been accustomed to manual labor and who are willing to labor still as it may be required of those who purpose to engage in missionary work, either in their own lands or in the uttermost parts of the earth, on any mission of a pilgrim. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 29

Immediately opposite the Cathedral are the students’ premises, including a spacious dining hall, the rooms devoted to study, and the dormitories—the whole bristling with life. The students were everywhere, save in the dormitories. Some were engaged in study, others were working in the extensive printing establishment, or in the bookbinding department, or in some other manual employ. For it may be noted there are tailoring and shoemaking departments in active operation, as well as gardening and field operations to be attended to, and certain hours of the day are given by most of the students to labor for which their hands are best fitted. The whole of the work necessary for the carrying on of the institution seems to be performed on the spot. The students wait on themselves, and keep their own premises in order, no servants being employed in their quarters. A homelike feeling pervades the place and an earnest religious life animates all its proceedings. It is refreshing to think that all who dwell there are of one heart and one aim, that aim being the highest which can animate the mind of man. Here is where Ertzenberger received his education. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 30

Well, I have wandered from my subject. After we came from viewing the castle, we spread our lunches upon tables in a park under horse chestnut trees and took our dinner. The hotel furnished the party with milk, hot and cold, and with butter. After dinner we held a meeting in the open air. I spoke to our party upon God in nature, then other exercises followed. We had several from the hotel to hear us, and I hope on the whole that it was not time spent in vain. The workers in the office needed this recreation. They are very diligent workers, excellent young men. Brother John Vuilleumier and Brother Fry, who embraced the truth since we came to this place, are my interpreters. Fry in German; John in French. I tell the workers here that they should grow constantly, for it may be they will be called to present the truth to the people who are in darkness. The Lord does help me. I know He gives me His blessing in rich measure, and I am not discouraged. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 31

May 19

Here my letter had to stop. I had a great weakness come over me. My heart was affected, and it seemed for a little time the lamp of life was to be extinguished. Yesterday was a very bad day for me. For three days I have been down with nervous prostration. I have a little more strength this morning. I have appointments in three different places: Neuchâtel, Chaux-de-Fonds, Bienne. We must start with our carriage tomorrow. W. C. White, Sarah McEnterfer, and John Vuilleumier, interpreter, accompany me. Our carriage is easy, and I hope it will prove a blessing to me. Mary remains at Basel to see to the book we are getting through the press—morning talks and history of the work in Europe. Our household are usually well. My hope and strength is in God. I have worked so constantly that I am really worn out, but God will help me. I have faith and put my trust in the promises. Be of good courage, and the Lord will bring you out all right. 4LtMs, Ms 54, 1886, par. 32