Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 20, 1886

Bourdeau, A. C.

Basel, Switzerland

January 25, 1886

Previously unpublished.

Elder A. C. Bourdeau

Dear Brother:

I received a letter from Daniel Saturday evening, in which he speaks of receiving a letter from you, urging reasons why you should not leave the valleys at the present time. I wish that I could make myself believe that there were sufficient interest that would warrant your stay. I thought I would not write you any more in reference to the matter, but leave you to your own conscience. Then again there come up before me past things which have been shown me where many precious opportunities have been lost, where greater good could have been accomplished had you felt it your duty to give yourself entirely to the work. But you would see something at home that you thought demanded your attention and presence, and thus home matters were with you your first consideration. Again I have been shown when there was an interest where you were at work which demanded your presence and most earnest attention, you would be drawn away from this interest by some home matters. The work has been left again and again by you to serve tables. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 1

Understanding your weakness upon this point, I feel earnest and anxious that you should break up this habit which makes your labors next to nothing in the cause of God. Like a firm soldier in the cause of Christ, you need to put on the armor and learn to wear it as you never have done before. I wish, Brother Bourdeau, there were more push in you. Should you keep an account of every day’s labor, as I believe you should, in which you are actively engaged in the cause of God, you would have a very poor account to present to our conference. I believe that every one of us should be just as faithful in labor in God’s cause as the workmen that are employed should be faithful in their business. I do not want to be severe at all. I have your interest at heart, but I do think it very important that a decided change take place with you in these things. I thought the letter I wrote to Daniel and sent to you would be sufficient. You certainly in your management and movements have not moved discreetly. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 2

In your bringing your children from America, I fear you have moved inadvisedly. This is a missionary field, and those who work in this field will have to do missionary labor and in a missionary spirit. Of course, it is pleasanter for you to have your children with you. You told me that you expected that your wife would go with you into the field. Who, then, did you calculate would take charge of your children? Both of them might have been placed where they would have good schooling and good care; then you could have given yourself more fully to the work, and your wife labored in connection with you. It is best in every movement to count the cost. It is more important that your children have discipline in practical labor than that they should have opportunity to study aside from this education. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 3

It makes my heart ache when I see so much unwise planning of our ministering brethren. They have but little experience in the missionary spirit. It pains me to speak of these things. It pains me to see how you are situated with your children, without any opportunity for them to have systematic labor, but a large share of their time must be unemployed, which can but have a demoralizing influence upon them. Your oldest boy was, I believe, far better situated with his sister’s attending to home duties which kept him employed. If you go out to labor, you cannot be much with your family, neither can you take your family with you. You have tied your own hands. And now if you should go to Genève to labor, I expect nothing but that you would see some special duty at home to call you there in a short time. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 4

I cannot see, as the turn things have taken, how you can accomplish much at present in Italy. I do wish it were otherwise. The way seems at present to be hedged up. I believe God will open the way sometime, but it is not your duty to wait in Italy and do nothing for this way to be opened, when there are so many fields needing workers. Sister Bourdeau writes to me that Daniel is very poorly, and his difficulty which you are acquainted with remains upon him. Yet he feels all courage to still push the work. I think if you could go cheerfully, you should share his work. If you go leaving your heart at home, you cannot accomplish anything. But certainly Daniel should have help, and must have it from some source. If you could go with cheerfulness and courage, I believe God would bless you in making this effort. But be careful and not bring before the mind of Daniel anything to discourage him. Do not talk of your financial embarrassments. Do not talk of the great sacrifices you have made in the past, but like a soldier with the armor on go to battle with hope and courage and faith. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 5

I do not know as I can say more to you than I have said in this letter. I am confident that you will have to see things in a different light from what you now view them before you can do successful work in the cause of God. I refer now to your manner of labor. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 6

I hope these words will not leave the impression upon your mind that I do not understand the situation, and that you will need to enter into a definite explanation. I have understood your temperament in the things I have mentioned for years. The cause wants the work accomplished for which it employs and pays the workmen. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 7

I have written this with the kindest and tenderest feelings toward you. But you must receive a different mold in reference to your labor in order to accomplish the work so essential to be done here in this hard field in Europe. Your hand slips off from the work when it should hold with the grasp of death. There is a great amount of labor to be done and only two American ministers who can speak French. Daniel is doing all in his power and more than he ought to do. I pray God to give him strength to do what he loved to do so much. But he must have help. He wants careful conversation. He wants living faith exercised in his behalf. He wants to connect with those who have courage, and will tell him to look up instead of down; to lead him to forget himself, and cling to the arm of the Mighty Helper. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 8

I have great interest and respect for Martha, and I believe that God will have a care for her. I think you have thought too much depended on you in her case. I think you could do but very little, but God can do great things. We want more faith in God that we can trust where we ought to trust, and then do where we ought to do. I have an interest for yourself, for your wife, and for your children. But I beg of you to lay all upon the altar of God, and not feel that you must hold them all in your arms, that unless you do just so much that everything would go to rack. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 9

May God help, strengthen, and bless you is the prayer of 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 10

Your sister. 4LtMs, Lt 20, 1886, par. 11