Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 32a, 1891

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Steamship Alameda

December 7, 1891

Portions of this letter are published in 4Bio 19-21; 3MR 250, 376; 4MR 43.

Dear Children,

We are nearing Sydney, and this is our last day on shipboard. You may depend upon it that we are glad it is so. “We tie up,” says the Captain, “at the wharf at Sydney, Australia, in the morning at seven o’clock.” 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 1

Last night we had a heavy thunder shower and sharp lightning. I have had a very pleasant voyage. Have been somewhat disturbed by headache, and have been somewhat seasick, but have been careful to keep quiet, to eat prudently, and have not vomited once. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 2

Emily Campbell has been my roommate. I dared not trust anyone else among our women, and she has proved reliable. Has been seasick, but has been soon over it. For the first few days Willie was our main dependence, looking out for us all, here and there and everywhere. I think he was some seasick at times, but by the power of his will he refused to give up. Although Emily was sick at times, she was soon over it and has proved a kind, attentive companion for me. No one could have served me better. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 3

May, Marian, and Fannie were sick for some days. I was very weak and had one ill turn of the heart. We were glad indeed to reach Honolulu. Elder Starr and wife, who had preceded us five weeks in order to bring help to our people and others on this island, met us together with other friends. As soon as we walked the gangplank and stepped on the wharf, men, women, and children greeted us so heartily that we could not feel otherwise than at home. With the exception of May and Fannie, we all assembled at Brother Clinch’s house to consult in what manner we could best spend the twelve hours allotted us till the boat sailed. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 4

They were so anxious that I should speak that I consented to do so. Oh how pleased they were, for it was more than they expected. Brother Burges and Elder Starr went at once to see that the people were notified of the appointment. The large hall of the Young Men’s Association Building was secured in which to hold the meeting. While these matters were being adjusted, we were refreshed with orange drink and with grapes of excellent flavor. There were besides, oranges of a variety unknown to us, and fruits which we had never before seen. These fruits tasted nice, but we dared not indulge to any great extent, fearing we should have to discharge our cargo in less time than it took to store it away. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 5

After this refreshment, we all seated ourselves in a carriage hired for the occasion and started on our tour of the place. We had not proceeded far before one of the sisters who had greeted us at the boat appeared at her cottage door, a very pleasant establishment, and insisted upon our coming in. Brother and Sister Starr said that we must go in and make a short call, or this sister would be greatly disappointed. Sister Kerr, this was the lady’s name, got hold of me and wept over me, and said, “I am so happy to be honored with your presence.” She had a table piled with native oranges, bananas, various fruits, cake, and an abundance of Jersey milk. But we felt restricted because of the reasons I have before given. I drank a tumbler of milk, but Sister Healey, a missionary from India, an excellent woman, insisted on my drinking the second glass. I drank a portion, and begged to be excused. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 6

Sister Kerr took me into her parlor bedroom and opened a box of ruches for the neck, and desired me to accept the entire box. Her husband is a merchant in Honolulu and, though not a believer, he is a very liberal man. She also presented me with three yards and a half of silk, costing three dollars a yard with which I was to make a sack. I saw that she was very desirous that I should have this, and I could not refuse without greatly disappointing her. It was beautiful silk left from a dress which she had. She also gave me a silk scarf and a ten-dollar pin composed of white stones, very plain and serviceable. I thought I could not accept this, but she looked so sorry that I finally did take it and have worn it ever since, for it is handy and becoming, while it is not showy at all. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 7

She brought in her little children that I might lay my hands on their heads and bless them. I bowed in prayer with her and her little group and prayed for them all, the little ones kneeling and my hands upon their heads, while the tears were streaming from the eyes of the mother and children. She embraced me again and again, and told me how much she loved me and how she had longed to see me and to have the honor of receiving me into her house. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 8

But we had to tear ourselves away, and were again seated in the carriage. We passed the stately coconut trees, loaded with their heavy fruit. We saw the bananas growing and a great variety of beautiful flowers blooming in profusion on every side. Hedges were made of flowering shrubs almost as tall as trees. There were trees in bloom with flowers that were new to me. We were on our way to a place called the “Pali,” and to reach there we had to ascend a six-mile hill, and the scenery all the way was of a grand order. On reaching the eminence for which we started, we found great mountain peaks rising above us, and from the height where we stood, a terrible precipice yawned, hundreds of feet deep, extending downward into the verdant valleys below. We took our lunch on a level spot of land in view of the grand scenery on every side. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 9

Willie and Brother Burges rode on horseback. Brother and Sister Clinch came in their phaeton and the rest of us in a livery rig, driven by a native. It took much less time to go down the hill than it did to ascend it. We all took an ample repast at the home of Sister Kerr. We were introduced to her husband, who received us heartily and urged us to eat more than we dared to eat. Then a carriage took us to the place of meeting. We had a congregation made up of the best people of the town, and a very intelligent looking class of citizens they are. The prominent men of the Young Men’s Christian Association did all in their power to show us respect and attention. Their own choir sang for us, and I had much freedom in speaking to these people. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 10

After the meeting, I was introduced to nearly all the congregation, and especially to all the prominent men of the Association. They expressed themselves as being much pleased with the words I had spoken. They said they had listened with deep interest, for the thought expressed was new to them, and gave them broader, clearer ideas in regard to the mission, work, and infinite love of Jesus. They expressed themselves as determined to cherish these thoughts as precious acquisitions to their knowledge. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 11

They regretted that I must leave them and said if I could remain with them a couple of weeks and speak to them as often as I had strength, they would consider it a great favor. They begged me that when I returned I should spend some months with them. They said, Your words have done us good, and you can be a blessing to the people at Honolulu. They blessed me in the name of the Lord, and said, The Lord will go before you that you may speak these words to many souls who need to hear them. I was glad I consented to speak to them, venturing the whole matter on the promise of the Lord, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:20.] I felt that Jesus was indeed with me that night by His Holy Spirit. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 12

How encouraging it is to speak to people who are hungering for the words of life and who are fed and nourished by the words spoken. These who gave expression to so much appreciation were people not of our faith, but men and women of the best class of society. One man was a missionary who had heard me in Oakland, and he said, The words were just as good to him then as when he had formerly listened. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 13

My name has been brought before the public here through the writings of a Dr. Hammond who is a minister here, and whose hatred of the truth is similar to that cherished by Mr. Canright. The brethren and sisters were glad that I could speak to them, for they said it would be a help to them in making of none effect the false accusations of Dr. Hammond. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 14

After the meeting we drove to the ship and bade our friends good-bye. My sixty-fourth birthday came on Thanksgiving Day, a few days after leaving Honolulu, and the friends at Honolulu presented me with a ten dollar gold piece as a birthday present; and Mr. Kerr, though a non-professor, gave me an upholstered rocking chair from his parlor set as a birthday present, because I happened to mention that it was an easy chair. It has been a great comfort to me on the voyage, when sitting on deck. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 15

As far as weather is concerned, we had a very pleasant trip. The water was quiet till we reached [the] Samoan Islands, one week’s journey from Honolulu. This was a very pretty island. The boat could not connect with the land, for they have no harbor here, but a pilot came on board and guided the boat to a safe anchorage. Then a novel sight greeted our eyes, for boats and canoes filled with natives crowded to the ship. The natives, with few exceptions, were naked and elaborately tatooed, wearing only a cloth about the loins. Their canoes and boats were filled with native fruits and wares. They had pineapples, and oranges green as grass, but the fruit was excellent. They also had coconut, shells, coral, fans, and all kinds of tropical fruits, some of which we never have seen in America, or even heard of. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 16

W. C. White, May Walling, Elder Starr and wife, Fannie, and Emily all went to shore. I dared not venture, for as we approached the Equator I was troubled with night sweats. My night clothing would be as wet as if dipped in water. I had a sponge every morning, but my limbs seemed without strength, and one night I had to call them up. Willie came, and May was called, and worked over me for an hour. They stimulated me as best they could, and the threatened difficulty was overcome. This was the second attack I had had. Every night I had my stateroom door and window wide open, but for all that, I was sure to be bathed in perspiration in the morning until I reached Auckland. I think this will do me good in the end. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 17

I will write no more of my journey, for I have not been able to do much writing on this voyage. I have written about one hundred and fifty pages, but I expected to write as much as three hundred pages. I simply had to keep still and be content not to do much of anything. I have not been able to walk on deck without an assistant, but my limbs are now growing stronger. I was almost completely exhausted in mind and body when I came on board the vessel. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 18

Before coming on board, it was necessary to get off testimonies to different ones; and it was important that writings should be left concerning matters at the Health Retreat, for the course of Dr. Burke brought many anxieties upon me, and necessitated much writing and wearing labor, with pain of soul, that evils might be counteracted that were giving the Institution a wrong mold. Marian, Fannie, and I worked continually with hard, taxing labor to the very day of the beginning of our long voyage. I felt that everything that could possibly be left to correct evils in churches, conferences, and individuals, should be left that the light which the Lord had given me might shine and the people not be left in darkness. But there is much yet to be done when we arrive at Melbourne. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 19

We found Auckland a splendid harbor. Brother Hare and others, both men and women, met us at the landing and, putting us into a couple of hacks, hurried us off to the home of Brother Hare. Here we found a pleasant home and a nice lunch prepared for us. On the extended table were several dishes of large strawberries, oranges and bananas, boiled eggs, and beautiful bread; and we were not slow in eating this delicious repast. We enjoyed our lunch very much. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 20

In a delicate, hesitating way, they said, “I suppose you would not have strength to speak to us this evening?” I said, If you desire it I will speak to you, for the boat does not go from the harbor till two o’clock, a.m. I wish you could have heard their delighted exclamations. After lunch we were driven in a hired carriage many miles through the city and surrounding country. We had a very enjoyable ride, looking upon grand scenery filled with farms, beautiful flowers, and grand trees. Around every cottage the yards are filled with blooming flowers and shrubs, while the hedges are perfect and flourishing. They say the country is in this condition the year round. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 21

We met a good congregation at the Seventh-day Adventist church at this place. I spoke to them upon the love of Jesus, and how eagerly they listened to the discourse. Then Elder Starr followed with an interesting theme, and the poor souls were fed. They have had the same difficulties as have our American churches—differences, discord, strife for supremacy. Satan is working everywhere among our churches as he did in heaven. We felt like joining in prayer with them to close the service, and the Lord came very near. I tried to present that church with all its difficulties before Him. We then told them that we would come down from the desk and speak to those assembled. They thought it a great favor to be privileged to shake hands with us. They had the appearance of being very intelligent people. Fathers and mothers brought their children and introduced them to me, and I spoke with each one, even the least little one among them. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 22

Then we took the streetcar and went on our way to the vessel. I was very weary and had a wakeful night in which I did a great amount of thinking. The brethren said as we left them, “Do give us more labor as soon as possible, for we need it. Hitherto we have heard doctrinal discourses with the exception of the discourses of Elder Haskell, who preached to us upon the love of Jesus. For this kind of food we are starving. We must have it or die. Do send us a preacher; there is not one here in New Zealand except Elder Israel, and he is not one who can preach to us. His work is of a different order.” 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 23

We expected to meet the Pitcairn and her company, but Brother Gates waited for us one month, and a few days before had sailed for Norfolk, expecting to return and meet us when the boat arrived from Honolulu. They said he left word that he must see Willie White on important matters. We talked the matter over, and Willie decided to remain, although he might have to take a journey, which the steamer could make in four days, in a small craft that might take a week in which to sail to Sydney. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 24

We received a letter from Elder Daniells of Sydney, urging us to make calculations to spend some days in Sydney before going on to Melbourne. We shall remain in Sydney not less than a week or two as circumstances demand, then hurry on to Melbourne to the conference that begins December 24. So you see that we shall have but little chance to rest, and must go right to labor, writing and speaking. The Lord knows that we did not come across the great ocean to see the country, or for our amusement, although we are highly gratified with the appearance of the portions of the country we do see, and Jesus will give me strength for all that He requires of me to do. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 25

When I get to Sydney, I will finish this letter. The boat does not return for twenty days, and it will be two months before this letter will get to you. I feared to put off writing until reaching Sydney, fearing that many things might be urged upon me, and I should not get a chance to write you fully. I know you are anxious to hear from mother. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 26

Oh, Edson, could you come to Australia with a sanctified heart, and feed these poor, hungry, starving sheep, living on the islands of the sea, what good you might do for Jesus! The Lord has waited long for you to do this work, and if you ever do it, you will have to surmount the obstacles that now and for years have obstructed your way. When you surrender all to God, your tongue will be as the pen of a ready writer. You can then understand the inspiration of the Spirit of God and bear a testimony upon the Bible truths that will be as meat in due season to the hungry sheep and lambs. Think of these things, pray over them, and make an offering of yourself to do the work of the Lord, to follow His will and His way, and the Lord will give you strength and grace and power to present the truth as it is in Jesus. Oh I wish that this could take place while we are here, that you might be here with us. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 27

The waters have been beautifully calm most of the way. If the Lord was with you, you would enjoy the voyage. All are now down to dinner but me. They have breakfast on board at eight o’clock, but I eat my breakfast in my berth, or in my reclining deck chair. They have an abundance of food in the meat line, prepared in different ways; but as I do not enjoy a meat diet, it leaves me rather meager fare. The rolls taken from Battle Creek and St. Helena have supplied me thus far, and the stewardess keeps me supplied with oranges. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 28

I have an excellent stateroom; indeed, it is the best that the boat can afford. My room contains the only closet on board in the staterooms. We take our chairs and set them on deck in front of my room, and we have every convenience. No one could have better attention than we have had. Our berths are furnished with wire springs and mattresses, but I had become so weary, and my hip was so sensitive and troublesome, that even these thick, soft mattresses were not enough for my comfort. I made two thick mattresses and tacked them as you would a comforter. One of these I have in my berth, and the other in my deck chair, and so my hip has been relieved. “Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them into their desired haven.” This was truly the language of our souls, and we “praised the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” [Psalm 107:30, 31.] 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 29

December 8

We are now in the hired house where Elder Daniells makes his home in Sydney. The steamer came into the harbor this morning at seven o’clock. The night season was not pleasant, for the boat rolled heavily, and it was a difficult matter to keep safely in our berths. I slept but little and I feared that our seasick ones would have a serious time; but we were thankful to learn that none were sick, and all able to be upon deck to see Sydney harbor, which is called, with few exceptions, the most beautiful harbor of the world. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 30

Before we drew to the landing, we saw our friends on the shore, so near and yet so far. We soon were near enough to see Elder Daniells and wife, the others we did not know. There were about twelve men and women to meet us. We conversed together before the ship touched the wharf, but were soon shaking hands with our Sydney friends. We were welcomed gladly, heartily, and tenderly. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 31

Sister James offered to take me in her phaeton to the home of Elder Daniells. I was glad to get out of the noise and away from the crowd. She drove me about through the beautiful park gardens, as I thought it would do me good after passing a sleepless night. This sister is about my own age, and she was delighted to show me all that she could in the short period of time we had to ride until the others should come from the boat. Although she was so pleased to show me all the beautiful sights of the city, I feared that the folks at the home would be getting anxious about us, so proposed that we drive to Elder Daniells’ home. It was a long drive, and when we neared the place, we found Elder Daniells out on the street corner looking anxiously for us. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 32

We were introduced into a plain, simply furnished, but comfortable home, in accordance with our faith, and were soon seated at the table whereon was a wholesome, well prepared breakfast, which we all enjoyed very much. Our seasick ones already appeared to be well. We then assembled in a small sitting room which was filled up with our party, with canvassers and Bible workers, and some of other families, who united with us in a precious season of worship. Five or six united in offering a tribute of praise to God for our safe passage across the broad ocean, and our hearts were softened and filled with praise for the loving-kindness of the Lord in our long voyage. The Lord Jesus was indeed in our company, and we were happy in the realization of His presence and love. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 33

Some of us devoted the rest of the forenoon to sleep and rest. We feel some rested. We shall spend one week in Sydney, and go by rail to Melbourne. We take the cars at five p.m., and arrive at Melbourne about noon the next day. We have the assurance that this place is healthy and very attractive. But we shall not remain long at this time. We shall come again and spend some time here, if the Lord will. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 34

It was very touching to hear Elder Daniells tell how different ones were awakened to inquiry in regard to the truth. Some had been reading our works, and they entreated that someone be sent to instruct them in regard to the truth. One man began keeping the Sabbath, through the reading of Volume 4, and had a Bible class in his own house. He sent to Elder Daniells for help, but Elder Daniells was obliged to write that there was no one who could go at that time. Two of our brethren were sent after some delay, and when they inquired concerning the man, they were informed that he had just died. They were too late. The calls are many, from one district and another. Many are asking for the living minister to preach to them the truth, and there is such a scarcity of help they do not know how to supply the laborers. We expect that the Lord will work for the purchase of His blood, and light will yet shine amid the moral darkness of error and wickedness in this part of the world. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 35

November 10 [December 10]

Yesterday a conveyance was hired, and we drove some miles into the city. We see that Sydney is a city covering a large area, and there are a large number of elegant, costly homes. 7LtMs, Lt 32a, 1891, par. 36