Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 97, 1886

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Turin, Italy

April 29, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in LDE 42, 278; EGWE 186-187.

Dear Children:

We have just stepped on board the train for Geneva. We are usually well, but tired from want of sleep. I spoke last time in St. Johns. Last Tuesday night had a good audience and spoke with plainness upon the binding claims of the law of God. I do not think plain truth about the law takes at all with those who have received the ideas of Grant and Cocorder. I did not dare to leave the valleys without elevating the standard of truth that all might understand my position. This ended my labors in Italy. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 1

Wednesday we rode fifteen miles to Penerolo. The son of one of the Mr. Malcus who has attended our meetings rode with us. He understands English. We had our lunch in a field by the wayside. In Penerolo we went into a Catholic church six hundred years old. It had been, I think, quite antiquated-looking church, but repairs were going on and improvements being made which were putting out of existence its ancient appearance. There were several confessionals, but worshipers were going and coming with their strings of beads; and some were kneeling, saying their prayers. There were images and paintings of Christ, and the Apostles and the Virgin Mary. How we pitied the poor, deluded worshipers bowing before their patron saints. There were several of these. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 2

Well, we were not sorry to leave the old stone building which seemed like a prison. We rode Monday to Angrogno; definition—the valley of groans. The first village was reached by constantly climbing a narrow road. On one side were embankments and fields, rocks and now and then a dwelling house. On the left was a deep ravine, a very narrow valley. Bro. Bourdeau had us step out and on a beautiful plot of ground, grass of living green, trees and orchard. A Vaudois was there and gave us the desired information. He led us to the end of this beautiful green where it went down abruptly hundreds of feet. Over the brink were jagged rocks. There in the place he told the Catholics set fire to a nice village and surrounded the people and drove off hundreds off this embankment to a horrible death. Some hung upon the rocks by their clothing for two weeks. They died there of hunger. The Catholics have a large church and monastery now on the high elevation reached only by foot. The Protestants have a modest little church. Our informer, a venerable looking Vaudois, told us this church had been burned three times and rebuilt again. Now it is protected by an iron fence set in stone two feet in depth. A Catholic dignitary asked why they built a stone wall about the church. The answer was, “You Catholics have burned this church three times. We want to do all we can so that you will not burn it again.” Said he, “I wish it were burned. It ought to be burned.” This church and scattered houses in the mountains are all that are left of Protestants, while the Catholics are crowding themselves into these valleys and mountain heights to obtain command of the situation. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 3

We have in this ride a very beautiful scenery, more interesting and striking than anything I have yet seen. There are green patches of land and dwellings upon the mountainsides to the very summit. Bro. Geymet has walked seven miles and back to attend evening meetings in Stables. W. C. White accompanied Bro. Geymet. It was a walk for him, and he did not arrive at home until twelve o’clock. We enjoyed this ride. Several places of the road were like this: [An s-shaped line was drawn in the original.] 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 4

This was a place of deep interest to us. Here the Catholics came from Turin to persecute the Waldenses in these valleys and mountains. Our informer told us that thousands upon thousands of Protestants have been thrown from the precipice I have mentioned. What a scene will these mountains and hills present when Christ, the Lifegiver, shall call forth the dead! They will come from caverns, from dungeons, from deep wells, where their bodies have been buried. They will come forth with the sound of the trumpet and the voice of God at that last great and terrible day of the Lord. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 5

Geneva, Switzerland. Apr. 30, 1886. We arrived here last night after a very pleasant and favorable journey. We had to change three times which was not as pleasant as if we could have gone through with less change. We expect to speak here tonight. Tomorrow morning to go Lausanne, speak there in the forenoon and evening after the Sabbath, and Sunday, part through French interpreter and part through German interpreter. I am just now awaiting the visit of a man in Geneva who is a learned man. Bro. Bourdeau is acquainted with him and told him I would be here, so will finish this after the visit. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 6

The gentleman, Mr. Bust, visited us, and we had a very pleasant interview with him. The first-day Adventists had sent him the smut and blacking in which they deal so freely, and he wished to see the woman that was thus talked about. I had but little to say. I told him that my work was not to hunt up and catch these reports and vindicate my own case. I would have no time to do anything else but to attend to this branch of the work. He is a musician, composes music and songs. I gave him Volume 4, and he seemed to be much pleased with the gift. We had a little sing, and he joined heartily with [us]. I spoke that night to a room full in Bro. Bourdeau’s house. The president of the temperance society was one of my hearers. He could understand English, and several others understood English. I had the special blessing of God while addressing the people, and all listened with intense interest. Quite a goodly number of outsiders were present. We must sow beside all waters, not knowing what will prosper, this or that. A Paul may plant, Apollos water, but God giveth the increase. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 7

Sabbath morning we took the train for Lausanne and went directly from the cars to the hall. We found a goodly number assembled together to worship God upon His sanctified, holy day. I spoke to them from the last verses of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places.” Isaiah 58:12. All listened with intense interest, and we felt that Jesus was in our midst and that to bless us. After the discourse we had a social meeting, and many good testimonies were borne; good experiences were related by those who had just embraced the truth, and the Lord strengthened three more to decide in reference to keeping the Sabbath. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 8

Much labor has been put forth in order to reach these results. As soon as an interest is started anywhere, then the people—church goers and church members—immediately send for teachers or ministers to come to do their best to create some kind of an excitement to draw the people to them and to warn and terrify the people by their reports. I tell you in this country there are heaps of teachers who are united on one point to make of none effect the truth of God, but nevertheless twenty have already decided to obey, and Bible readings have done more to bring about this result than anything else. This is the only way in this country to preach the truth—by teaching it from the Bible from house to house. There are efforts being made, but how few the workers! Limited means, bound about constantly for want of money—it is pinch here and pinch there, and that kind of plain diet that in America they would think they would be going on the starvation plan. Many and most of their meals are bare bread and hot milk, and frequently the bare bread. The dress of all is severely plain; and yet how much easier working now than when the blood hounds of persecution were upon the track of every one who dared to differ in sentiment from Rome, and afterward from the State Church. The latter difficulty exists still in a greater or less degree to bar the way to the progress of truth. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 9

There should be one hundred workers in this field where there is now one, but where are they? It has been our effort since we have been here to have organized effort. Once get this established and much will be accomplished, but habits and customs and manners have to be remodeled. But the effort in Lausanne has been more after the American plans. Twice we have been to Lausanne to help them to get the workers into unity of action, and were it not for this I think their labors would not be productive of much good. I feel deeply grateful for the success that has attended the efforts thus far. But we will keep at work to do all we can in the strength of God, to mold the work here. We shall not see America under one year, but as soon as the work we want to see done is finished, thru the help of God, then we are ready to go. Calls come very earnest from Australia for us to reach California by sailing to Australia. God only knows what our course will be. I just wait and pray and watch for any indications of the Spirit of God. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 10

When I saw them in Lausanne in a small hall, boards without backs for seats, I then thought of how much good a little means might do that is squandered upon attractive garments or extras in diet and furniture by so many in America. My heart aches. I so long to see the example of Christ followed in self-denial, in self-sacrifice. So much little and large means [are] expended needlessly while the missionary efforts are crippled on every side in these countries. O let us pray most earnestly that the Lord would awaken His people to feel the same earnest love for souls that Jesus had and has given them an example of in His life. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 11

I have had to get me a horse and carriage because I am too lame to walk, but I held back a long time on this. I tried to think I could get along without, but when laid by at last, unable to walk without a cane, then I ventured to get this horse and carriage. Now I can walk without a cane and can take short walks out of doors by leaning on W. C. White’s arm. But every time I think of the three hundred fifty dollars expended for secondhand carriage and for an ordinary horse, I think how much this means might have done to the mission. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 12

May the Lord put the missionary spirit upon those whom He has blessed with great light. May the Lord give no rest, day nor night, to those who are now careless and indolent in the cause and work of God. The end is near. This is that which Jesus would have us keep ever before us—the shortness of time. I have, since coming here, sold one set of furniture and carpets and various household stuffs, that I could hand means to those who were engaged in the missionary work. I am making every exertion now [to] settle my indebtedness with the Review office. I shall cut down in everything like real estate just as fast as possible. I have offered all for sale but one little house in St. Helena. These debts are to me like a nightmare, for I know I should be just before I am generous. I do not feel like expending upon my own self anything that I am not absolutely obliged to have. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 13

We get along in that which you would think is a very cheap way, but it must be done; and I think if our people in America would bind about their wants more, very much more, and use the margin of this means in the missionary field, very great blessings would come to them, and they would be following the example of Jesus Christ. I know these lessons are to be learned by our people and practiced by them too. There are so many that need to economize, from principle, and make earnest efforts to save souls for whom Christ died. He, for our sakes, has become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich; and it would be the most profitable lessons we can learn to economize, to bind about our wants, to spend nothing, not one penny for to gratify the lust of the eye or to gratify the taste, but remember that Jesus was bound about with poverty while He was engaged in this world in His great mission. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 14

While I think of these things my heart is sorely troubled. I knew if there were greater piety among those who profess to believe the truth for these last days that there would be less gratifying of self, less personal wants, and the value would be placed upon means for the good it will do in carrying forward the work of God. I know that it has cost much to establish our missions in Europe, but more, much more [will] be needed before the work can go in any way as it should. But then, when I commenced this letter, I did not expect to go on in this strain, but what I have written lies near my heart and it had to come out. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 15

There is much of interest I might write, but today I want to get this in the mail. For some reason I feel that you are in need of encouragement. It seems to me I see you oppressed, worn down with cares and perplexities and trouble, but I do not know how to help you, only to direct you to the Burden Bearer and entreat of you to not let that active brain of yours invent too many things that will be eventually to you a burden and hold you in fetters so that you cannot be free to work in the cause of God. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 16

Only live, my dear children, with an eye single to the glory of God. I hope Emma will learn daily lessons in Christ’s school. She needs deeper piety, a stronger hold from above. God has spared her life. Let that life be devoted to His service. Let not the precious hours of probation granted to her be spent in a frivolous manner. Every one has work to do for the Master, and Emma, dear Emma, whom I love as if she were my own child, bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, must not become self-absorbed. Jesus has work for all to do. Sit at His feet, Emma, as did Mary of old, and learn of Jesus. Your life God has given you. Use it not to self-pleasing. Shun not responsibility in bearing burdens for the Lord. God help you is my earnest prayer. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 17


P.S. I am praying for you. Look to Jesus constantly. Be zealous to repent of every wrong. God will lighten you. This was written on the cars. 4LtMs, Lt 97, 1886, par. 18