Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8

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Lt 68, 1893

Walling, Addie

Gisborne, New Zealand

October 23, 1893

Portions of this letter are published in Te 264; 4Bio 106-107.

Miss Addie Walling
Battle Creek, Michigan

Dear Niece,

I was pleased to receive your letter. We have been in this place two weeks yesterday morning. They had an appointment out the Sunday we arrived, and I spoke in the evening to a good congregation in the S.D.A. chapel. There are about twenty Sabbathkeepers in this place. They purchased a very nice house of worship from the Congregationalists. It was built about six years ago, and it is quite new looking. It is just what our people in Gisborne needed. Elder Wilson and his wife accompanied us to this place. We have put in two weeks of solid labor. I have spoken seven times, and Elder Wilson double that number of times. He has held morning and evening meetings. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 1

The prejudice in these Colonies is very firm and persistent against Seventh-day Adventists. We counselled together, and decided that the only way to reach the people was by open-air meetings, and we tried the experiment. We secured grounds close by and connected with the post office. There was timber on the ground, and a nice stand and extensive platform was formed. There [were] seats without backs in abundance, and a dozen taken from the church with backs. One week ago last Sunday the weather was favorable, and we had an excellent congregation. The mayor and some of the first people in Gisborne were in attendance. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 2

I spoke upon temperance, and this is a living question here at this time. Hundreds were out to hear and there was perfect order. After a little, one poor drunken man responded, disturbing some, but the police were sent for, and quietly took him away. Two or three commenced smoking. I kindly asked them not to do this, and they stopped. Mothers and any number of children were present. You would have supposed that the children had had an opiate, for there was not a whimper from them. My voice reached all over the enclosure (paddock is the name they give it here). 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 3

Some of the hearers were very enthusiastic over the matter. The mayor, the policeman, and several others said it was by far the best gospel temperance discourse that they had ever heard. We pronounced it a success and decided that we would have a similar meeting the next Sunday afternoon. Although the sky was cloudy and threatened rain, we were favored, and I had more listeners than the Sunday previous. There were a large number of young men who listened as if spellbound. Some of them were as solemn as the grave. This was a special time. There had been a two-days’ horse race and a cattle show. This had excited the people to such an intensity that I feared we would not have so good a hearing. The agricultural and cattle show had been talked of for weeks, and preparations made for the same. Well, this was my opportunity to speak to those whom I would not have had a chance to speak to had it not been a special occasion. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 4

One youth, about seventeen years of age, wept like a child as I read an article of how a youth of seventeen was enticed into a liquor saloon and drank his first glass of liquor, and it did what it always will do, maddened the brain. After taking this liquor the youth remembered nothing about what had transpired. A quarrel had taken place in this saloon, and in the youth’s hand was found a knife that had taken the life of a human being; he was charged with the murder, and five-year’s imprisonment was his sentence. It was a touching article and brought tears to many eyes of both old and young. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 5

This meeting was also a success. Not a drop of the threatened rain came. There was abundant time given for all to reach their home, and then the rain poured from the heavens. Oh, if I ever felt grateful to God, it was on this occasion, this emergency, for my voice that could reach the crowd. The result of this we cannot see, but I pray that the seed sown may be watered by our heavenly Father who giveth the increase. One thing we have learned, and that is that we can gather the people in the open air, and there are no sleepy ones. Our meetings were conducted just as orderly as if in a meetinghouse. Nothing of drunkenness or smoking was in need of being set right on this occasion. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 6

Hundreds heard on temperance that never would have heard had not the meeting been held in the open air. I made this an occasion to point the hearers to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. I spoke plain, decided, and directly at the point, and now leave the result with God. If the Lord favors us, I shall repeat the same next Sunday afternoon. Some would come to the Theatre Royal, and there are others who feel too pious to enter a theatre on Sunday. But large numbers will attend an open-air meeting; not the rabble, but intelligent, noble looking people, and we may speak as plainly as we choose. God has strengthened me to speak to the large numbers who would never hear my voice, except as I speak in the open air. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 7

Quite a number of the Salvation Army were present on these occasions. They may learn that meetings can be held without drum or instrumental music, and without the jumping and the gesticulations and ridiculous performances to create a laugh and remove all solemnity. Our meetings have been surprisingly orderly, and we know much prejudice will be swept away, and there will be a different impression left upon minds in regard to Seventh-day Adventists, than has hitherto prevailed. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 8

My health is improving. I am able to write largely. I am favored by having the use of a horse and two-wheeled trap (a nice conveyance). I drive out every day. We have a very pleasant home in the house of Mrs. Bruse. Gisborne is a beautiful place. 8LtMs, Lt 68, 1893, par. 9