Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8 (1893)


Ms 47, 1893

Notes of Travel and Labor.


April 1893

This manuscript is published in entirety in RH 05/30/1893.

At the close of the Australian Conference, we spent a week with the church in Parramatta, N.S.W. and February 4 we embarked from Sydney, for Auckland, New Zealand. Our ship, the Rotomahanna, was a beautiful steamer, and one of the fastest in these waters. I had a convenient and pleasant stateroom on the upper deck, and endured this long-dreaded journey much better than I had dared to hope. There was no rough weather, and Wednesday morning, February 8, we were in Auckland. Elder Israel met us at the wharf, and we were soon taken to a comfortable, furnished cottage, which the Auckland church had placed at our disposal. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 1

For twelve days we labored earnestly for the Auckland church. Evening meetings were held as often as the brethren could attend, and each Sabbath and Sunday was fully occupied. Twice I spoke in the theater to attentive audiences. Elder Starr labored untiringly for the church, and several of the evening meetings were called early in the evening and divided into two meetings. I would speak for half an hour and then Elder Starr would follow with a discourse, or Bible lesson. In all, I spoke eight times in Auckland. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 2

In Auckland we see a promising field for labor, but it must not be a transient effort; it must be earnest, efficient, continuous labor. There was once a strong church here, but many of the young men went into the canvassing field, and lately a number have moved away, so there are only a few, comparatively, to occupy our commodious meeting house. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 3

We believe that there are many families in America who have a knowledge of the truth, who would be blessed of God if they would come to this country and settle in such places as Auckland, and while sustaining themselves by their own labor, as they are now doing, labor to hold up the standard of truth in the cities and villages where there are thousands who know not the shortness of time. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.” [Matthew 6:33.] Oh that men would be more in earnest to communicate to others the light and grace that they have so freely received. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 4

On Monday, February 20, at 7 a.m. we sailed for Kaeo on the steamer Clansman. The steamer was rather small but the captain and stewards did everything in their power for our comfort. There was no safety in my going into the cabin below. It was close, and the berths in the staterooms were narrow and very hard. A large easy chair had been purchased for me in Auckland, and I sat on the deck in my easy chair as long as I could, but sitting long in one position is a painful experience for me, and I became very restless and nervous. I could not be well sheltered from the strong wind. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 5

The captain said he would clear the smoking room for us as soon as possible, but there was a large party on board going to a regatta at Russell, and it would be difficult to clear the room before ten o’clock. At last it was decided to make up my bed on the deck, in the most sheltered place that could be found. So my own spring cot was placed in a sheltered place and blankets tied up to break the wind and I was thankful for a place to rest. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 6

Through the night we were favored with a calm sea and but little wind, and I rested some, although feverish and over-wearied by the perplexity and confusion of preparation for the journey—and still more wearied by the brass band playing on board the boat. We expected to reach Russell at 7 a.m., but the fog closed down upon us while among the islands of the bay. The engines were stopped and the anchor was cast, and for more than an hour we waited for the fog to rise. After the fog cleared away, we had a beautiful sunny day. It took but a few minutes to reach the pier, where most of our fellow passengers left the boat. Russell is a quiet little place consisting of a row of stores facing the beach, back of which are a few dozen comfortable residences, and quite a number of old weather-beaten houses with open doors and windows out, which are occupied by families of Maoris. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 7

Soon our steamer moved up the bay to Opua where several hours were spent in loading coal. The Bay of Islands is very beautiful and we enjoyed moving over its smooth waters amid verdant islands and massive rocks. We left the Bay at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and reached Whangaroa Harbor at 7 o’clock. Here [we] were met by Brethren Joseph and Metcalf Hare, who had come down from Kaeo three miles in their large skiff and were ready to take us back as soon as the tide should turn. They welcomed us heartily, and at once transferred our luggage to their boat, and at 8 o’clock we took our places in the skiff and were off for Kaeo. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 8

The trip from Whangaroa up the bay and creek to Kaeo was an interesting one. The water of the bay was as smooth as an inland lake. The night was perfect. The air was mild and the new moon shone out sufficiently to give us an outline of the mountain scenery on either side. Steady rowing by the two strong men who had often made this trip brought us to Joseph Hare’s landing in about two hours. Brother Joseph Hare’s comfortable home is but a few steps from the landing. We were heartily welcomed by Sister Hare and I soon went to rest as I was excessively weary. Elder Starr and wife went up the valley about four miles with Brother Metcalf Hare to his home. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 9

Wednesday morning Brother Joseph Hare Sr. came down and took us to his hospitable home at the upper end of the valley close to where Brother and Sister Starr were stopping. To us Kaeo valley seemed very picturesque and beautiful. Some places reminded us of Knights Cannon, between Healdsburg and St. Helena, California. Much of the vegetation was tropical. Great fern trees were growing in the gullies, a species of palm tree called necow was plentiful along the foot of the hills and towering above these were large bare trunks bearing many thrifty bunches of a large air plant. Along the road were immense bunches of sweet briar, and large patches of blackberry bushes with the ripening fruit. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 10

Father Hare has a pleasant, comfortable home. The house, situated on high ground, is surrounded by fruitful orchards. A swift-running stream brings abundance of pure mountain water close to the house, back of which lies the pasture lands and the forest-clad mountains. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 11

We had planned to remain in Kaeo two weeks, but providential circumstances lengthened our stay to three full weeks. Wednesday was spent in writing our American letters, which were taken to the steamer early Thursday morning. Early on Thursday it began to rain and in the afternoon the little creek had swollen to a roaring torrent, bringing down driftwood and logs. Later on, we learned that there was a serious flood in the lower part of the valley. The water rose higher than for twenty years. Many houses were flooded and deserted, fruit trees and crops were destroyed, horses and sheep were drowned, and hundreds of huge logs, which had for years been lying in the small creeks in the mountains, waiting for a freshet to bring them down, were floated over fields and orchards and left in all manner of curious places. After the flood was over the weather was beautiful. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 12

Sabbath afternoon I spoke to our people in the little meeting house, and Sunday afternoon to a congregation of about two hundred in the Wesleyan church. Sunday evening Elder Starr spoke to a houseful, in the same place. During the week, several evening meetings were held at the home of Father Hare. In these, I would speak for half an hour and then retire, and the meeting would go on for an hour or two. On the second Sabbath, Elder Starr spoke in the forenoon to our people, and I spoke in the afternoon in the Wesleyan church. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 13

While speaking, I felt constrained by the love of Christ to invite all who had not taken a decided stand for the Lord to come forward for prayers. At first it seemed hard for anyone to move; but finally the grown-up children of our brethren and sisters began to come forward, and then as the invitation was extended to those who were members of the church, but who did not enjoy a living assurance of acceptance with God, many of the church members came forward and these were joined by some who had long hesitated about obeying the truth, and by others who were attending their first meeting among our people. Words of counsel were then spoken, and after the season of prayer nearly all who were seeking the Lord for the first time bore testimony. The Spirit and power of God was in our midst, and all went from the meeting rejoicing and praising God for what He had wrought in their midst. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 14

On Sunday we again had good audiences in the Wesleyan chapel. The people seemed anxious to hear the Word of God, and Elder Starr had many invitations to visit and hold Bible readings. We are satisfied that there is a work to be done in Kaeo both for our church and for the community in and near the Kaeo valley. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 15

There are souls inquiring, What is truth? And those who have light have a work to do for their fellow men. How earnest we should be to impart light and truth to others, how patient and persevering. We need to have tender hearts softened and subdued by the love of God. We must not work in our own spirit, bringing in our natural, hereditary traits of character, for thereby we shall drive souls away from the truth. We must lay aside our likes and our dislikes. We must overcome all harshness and sharpness. We must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, yet always ready to put ourselves in the fore-front of the battle if God calls us there. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 16

Because of a change in the time of sailing of the steamer from Auckland to Napier, we were prevented from going at the time appointed, and had another week to labor in Kaeo. The young people needed instruction, but it was difficult to get them together. There are some in Kaeo whom God had been calling to fit themselves for labor in His vineyard; and we rejoice that several are preparing to go to the Bible School. On Wednesday, April [March] 15, we bid adieu to our friends in Kaeo and were taken down to the harbor where we held one meeting, and the next morning took the steamer for Auckland. 8LtMs, Ms 47, 1893, par. 17