Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Lt 54a, 1894

Olsen, O. A.

Per Ardua, Granville, New South Wales, Australia

June 24, 1894

Portions of this letter are published in PM 300; 8MR 386. +Note

Dear Brother Olsen:

At an early date I will begin to write to you. My health has been, on an average, much better in Granville than in any other place I have been in since coming to this country. But ever since we have been here there have been a great many things that have been a great trial to my faith, and especially things that happened during last month. Of this fact I think I have written you quite fully. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 1

You may remember that I told you how Brother Haskell had interested himself in behalf of the wants of the cause in Australia and has presented letters that I had written to him to two or the brethren in America who pledged five thousand dollars each for this field. Of course, this was a great encouragement to me. When we moved to Sydney we were compelled to pay quite a sum of money for transportation of goods, but when we applied for funds, we found the treasury was empty both in Melbourne and in Sydney. What we were to do was the question. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 2

I had a large family dependent on me who must be provided with food and other necessities; and besides this, Brother and Sister Starr were members of my family, and my house was made the rallying point for ministers, committees, etc. We fitted up a tent to accommodate visitors with sleeping apartments, and also used the tent for a committee room to discuss matters that were at that time of living interest. It was the time when the Firth brothers’ persecution was being discussed in the secular papers, and various opinions were expressed concerning the case. It was necessary to hold public meetings in order to show the proper relation between church and state. Elder Daniells came to Granville, and the meetings were pronounced a success. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 3

The question of securing land for locating the school also demanded attention. To save hotel bills, we moved out bedsteads, bedding, etc., to Dora Creek, and Brother and Sister Lawrence, after living with us six weeks, moved to Dora Creek in a time of terrible pressure for means. We supplied them with a stove and with everything we could spare. They hired a small house at cheap rent, and this was made a stopping place for the men who should go and come in looking up the land. I prepared food and fruit for the necessities of those who should go, in order to save the large bill that would be exacted at the hotel for meals. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 4

As a family we consulted together as to how we could reduce expenses, but we found we could not do much in the food line. Butter was very high, so we decided that we would place no butter on our table. We have had no meat upon our table since camp meeting; prior to this we had it occasionally. None of my family proper made any objection, but sustained me satisfactorily in this movement; but some of my new boarders took the matter hard and made up for the loss of butter in using other things, of equal or greater cost, in the preparation of food. So I did not gain much in trying to save on that point. I found that the education my hired girl was receiving was not after an economical order. I was going backward in the place of forward. I made a protest, but did not find myself able to control matters, and let things drift; but I carried a disappointed, sore heart. I was not consulted in regard to what I would have or what I would not have. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 5

When the time came for letters from America, I received a letter from Elder Haskell, stating that the next mail would bring us one thousand dollars. We had contracted debts at the grocery which we promised to pay every month, but we found ourselves unable to do it. I borrowed ten pounds from Brother Hughes, but after that their income was largely cut off, and we could not hope for relief from that quarter. We promised to pay the borrowed money when the next mail should come from America. When the mail did come, there was nothing for us. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 6

I knew Willie was trying to keep cheerful, but there was no source from which we could draw, as our people are few in number, and have not, as yet, a standing place in New South Wales. My workers needed shoes and some other articles of clothing, but we had to say, We cannot pay you your wages. You must wait. The situation was one that we had no means of relieving, as it is possible for you to do in America. You cannot possibly imagine our feelings when the letter came from America in which it was announced that the thousand dollars we had expected, was needed at the Pacific Press. Willie had not a word to say, but I knew that this impossibility to command means was wearing upon him, mind and soul, and more because he knew it was affecting me. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 7

There were many nights in which it was impossible for me to sleep till twelve o’clock, and sometimes I could not sleep after that time, but dressed myself and commenced writing. Then things conspired in such a way that my heart was greatly affected, and I thought I might lose my life at any time. “My head, my head! my heart, my heart!” was my distressed cry to God. My limbs were cold, and my head congested, and I cried, “Lord, save me, or I perish!” [See Matthew 8:25.] 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 8

I knew that Willie had a slow fever. He was quite sick in Melbourne, and was so pressed with work that he did nothing toward our moving. We were settled here some weeks before we saw him. When he came, he had a fever upon him, and a pain in his head all the time. The outlook was not flattering. Then came the copies of the Review and Herald in which Elder [W. H.] Littlejohn’s articles were published. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 9

The night after reading those articles, the whole matter was opened before me; I was in much distress and agony of mind. I dared not lie in bed. I walked the room in the hours of the night and pleaded with God in agony of spirit. I never remember suffering such agony before, and I cried to God in my distress for help. I kept in my room. I did not care to unite with the family. I felt alone, terribly alone. No one could say anything to help me. God alone could lift the burden from my soul. I knew that I was threatened with apoplexy, and I cared not and dared not to sleep. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 10

Willie came in to see what he could do for me. He looked terribly careworn, and then the pressure gave way, and I burst into an agony of tears; he put his face in his hands and cried with me. Seasons of prayer were held for me, and the Lord God of heaven gave me the assurance of His presence as I have written you. The Word of the Lord has been fulfilled. My health has begun to improve, and I have been relieved of the terrible weight that pressed upon my soul. I have the peace of Christ, though I am still pressed with sadness as I think of the cause of God in America, and as I see the great battle with poverty in this country. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 11

The way the banks have been managed has ruined the country. Our own people are in want. I have divided with Sister McKenzie the provisions which have been bought at auction sales, and have also placed a pound in her hands. Her husband has been canvassing with Brother Collins, but poverty has met them on every side. The people wanted the books, but with tears in their eyes they said, We cannot buy. We must have bread or starve. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 12

Sister McKenzie received a letter from her husband in which he stated that he was two pounds in debt at the hotel, and asked her to sell some articles from the meager lot of furniture still remaining, in order that he might pay his debt. When I heard this, I rode up with Sister Belden to carry supplies of food to them, for I knew they were in want. She was very grateful for this. You know they have a large but excellent family. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 13

Sister McKenzie said, “Last week we were in sore need; but Brother Enoch Smith has hired our eldest son. He does a man’s work, but is very grateful to receive two dollars a week, and he sent us this amount so that this week we are better supplied. One of my neighbors who has been a bitter opponent to the truth has sent me word that she would give me a piece of beef which had just been killed, if I would send for it. I have done so, and it is now cooking on the stove.” This beef and a little bread is all they had in the house. She said that the provisions which I brought would last her two weeks. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 14

At Seven Hills an excellent company has been brought out into the truth, but not one has a room which is large enough to accommodate them in their meetings when they assemble to worship God. Twenty have embraced the truth since camp meeting. It was a hard matter for some of them to decide, for they said, “We shall lose our chance to get work, and we cannot see our families starve.” 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 15

One brother who has recently embraced the truth has a small piece of land on which he has planted orange trees, and which yield him excellent fruit. He packed the fruit in cases and sent them to Sydney, asking two shillings a case. Each case holds one bushel. His mandarins usually bring him four shillings and sixpence a case, but the last lot brought him but one shilling, and the litte sum would be all consumed in transportation. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 16

They are not able to raise enough money to purchase land on which to set a church building, yet they must have a place in which to worship God. I pledged five pounds a few weeks ago, but after a little while I could see that I must do more than this or nothing would be done in the matter. I pledged ten pounds, and since last Wednesday when Brother Pond was disappointed in disposing of his fruit, I have known I would have to do more if the house were built. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 17

Brother Hickox is now called to Queensland to join Brother Starr. Our year’s wages have come, but not a dollar of this belongs to me, for at the conference in Melbourne I have both tithe and capital to purchase school lands. We have to have some furniture for our house. We are especially in need of chairs. Although I say I will help them to build, yet I know not where the money is coming from. We cannot borrow of a soul that I know of who lives in this country. The New Zealand Conference is in debt for the camp meeting, and we cannot draw from them. The Echo office treasury is empty, and the treasury in Sydney is in the same condition. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 18

America must awake to the situation, and our people there must do more than they have done to enable us to make a beginning here. It was certainly rather an unfortunate time to begin to cut down our wages, when the workers in these new fields have to give of their means continually. In America there are churches upon whom you can draw in times of straightened circumstances. In America there are men from whom you can borrow in time of need, but there is no such hope here. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 19

May the Lord lead us by unseen paths across the Red Sea, for apparently we have come to the sea. Those who have embraced the truth in this country are generally in poor circumstances. Brother Sherwin and his wife embraced the truth at Seven Hills. He made no profession of religion, but his wife was a member of the State Church, and came along very slowly. They were so situated that they were not fastened down to a certain house and lands, and were ready to purchase a house on the school lands. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 20

Willie is not fully satisfied with the land on which they are thinking of locating the school. He does not think the soil is of as good a quality on the whole as we ought to secure, yet all who have seen it seem well pleased with it. It is a great undertaking to erect buildings and to establish the school on this land. There was but one thing I could do, and that was to tell Willie that he had done all that he could in the matter. He will feel very conscientious not to represent the land for which they have contracted as of one jot or tittle of value above what he thinks it worth. He knows that there may be criticism of his movements. He has had a taste of this in the past, and he dreads it, and he had not moved with that assurance and confidence that one needs in order to be in good spirits, and to make a success. He knows that much is at stake. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 21

Those who have been investigating land have found that they could procure no tract of country where there were not some unfavorable features. The land that was better than that negotiated for on Dora Creek, that would be the most profitable for the purpose, is very high priced, and there are, besides, disadvantages of a serious nature. We have little money to invest in costly land, and should we purchase it, we should have to spend more in water supplies. We have come to the conclusion that whatever purchase is made, some dissatisfaction will exist. On this account Willie carries a load which causes him to fear and tremble, but we lay the matter before God most earnestly and with tears. If he dared, he would drop this part of the work and let others take it up. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 22

I wish that Brother Eastman were here. Willie will not make a decided purchase of the land until Joseph Hare shall come. He is now on his way, and will be here Tuesday. Willie will go with him to see the land. I told Willie that if it would ease his mind, I would step into the gap, sell off house and furniture in America, and be responsible for the four thousand, five hundred dollars that must be paid for the land, for we could not hesitate much longer. If anything better could be found, I alone could be held responsible for the Dora Creek land. This matter is wearing upon Willie, and I want it to end soon. He has been casting about to see where he could get the money to pay for the land. Brother Sherwin, I understand, will lend him all the money which he has, which is one hundred and fifty pounds. But this loan will only be for a few weeks, as Brother Sherwin wishes to secure a place wherever the school shall be located. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 23

We see that the responsibilities are of such a character that we will be fastened here for some time. We dare not pull up stakes and move to any other part of the field at this stage of work, for this would bring discouragement upon the workers here in this crisis. If the Lord has called us here, it must be to act a decided part in the work and to see it advance to success before we change for any other field of labor. This decision means much to us, for Willie’s children must be with their father. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 24

Willie must be looking around to find a proper person for a mother to his children, and no longer remain separated from them. He has felt this separation keenly, and although he has said but little about it, it is telling upon him. I lay the matter before you just as it is, but as yet would say he knows not what he will do in this important matter. He dares not make any arrangements until he sees his way clear. It is not a very economical way of doing to support a family in Battle Creek and at the same time be paying his board in this country, to say nothing of the self-denial and self-sacrifice of being so far separated from his children, and being comparatively a stranger to his own dear ones. He has responsibilities upon him which as a father he should recognize. He is neither doing justice to them nor to himself, and I have been troubled for some time on this point. The children need the help of their father in their education and in receiving a proper mold of character, and they should have him. The company of his children might bring some brightness into his life, which would be beneficial to him. Since his wife’s death, his life has been sad indeed. His whole life has been one of constant taxation since he was old enough to bear any responsibility, but the time for a change has come. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 25

We cannot leave this field now. We are needed here, and our laborers must be here, we know not how long. We now have a knowledge of the work, and the Lord has given us light as to how to do the work, and we will humbly go forward in the fear of God, giving ourselves and the means which God has entrusted to us as His servants. We mean to walk humbly with God. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 26

I am pained to see the fear and trembling that is becoming habitual with Willie. I noticed that he moved with trembling before Brother Tenney left for America. O what a work was left upon his shoulders in seeking to arrange matters at the office! This cost him many hours of hard labor, and deprived him of sleep, and he has been troubled with indigestion ever since coming to Australia as never before. It has been one long taxation which neither you nor any other man can ever know. God knows it all; we have moved under pressure ever since coming here. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 27

There is a work to be done in Queensland, in the regions beyond. This is a new world, and as yet it has had little of my labors. The work that has been begun needs to be carried forward; and God alone can give us the efficiency, the courage, the determination to stick to the work, and to do that which we have a knowledge must be done. We are not to fail nor to be discouraged. If the Lord tells us that it is our duty to leave this field, and to enter a new field to meet with the prejudice, the envy, the jealousy, the distrust, and the suspicion which there exists, we will do it; for we feel like devoting our time, our strength, and all there is of us to the work of God. We are in His hands to do His bidding. The Lord has heard prayer in my behalf. I am improving in health and strength, and my heart says, “Praise the Lord, who is the health of my countenance and my God.” [See Psalm 42:11.] 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 28

I must now leave this writing, as it is twelve o’clock, and I have just been told by Willie that there is an appointment for me at Seven Hills, at a very important meeting that is to be held there. I will order the lunch to be placed upon the table as quickly as possible. I had not an intimation that I must go. We have had rain, and the roads are muddy. Our carriage is heavy, and it will take two hours to reach Seven Hills. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 29

June 25

We found our brethren and sisters assembled at the tent, with about thirteen unbelievers. I spoke upon the subject of devoting our means to God, as well as giving ourselves to His service. I read the eighth and ninth chapters of second Corinthians, and dwelt much upon the eighth chapter, for the words seemed very appropriate to the circumstances of our people. The Lord gave me much freedom, and I presented the matter in the demonstration of the Spirit. We had no question but that Jesus Himself was in the assembly. I know that I was blessed, and I know the words that I spoke were received as a message from God. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 30

With yearning of soul I looked upon the faces of that intelligent company, who had newly come to the faith. I loved every one of them in Christ Jesus, and I could not feel that it would be right for Brother Hickox to leave them until a humble church should be built where they could assemble to worship God. The church is made up of intelligent farmers, carpenters, of men who are quarrying out stone, and who are engaged on the water works. They are all intelligent persons and can all exert an influence by letting their light shine forth to others. There are several others who are still in the valley of decision. I appealed to them, and urged them to follow the conviction of their conscience. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 31

The Lord Jesus was calling them as He called the humble fishermen in Galilee, saying, “Follow Me.” [Matthew 4:19.] Hearts were softened and subdued. Tears were in the eyes of many. Not only believers, but unbelievers, were affected to tears. After I had spoken fifty minutes, Brother McCullagh spoke right to the point; then Willie and Brother Hickox called upon them all to see what they could do toward erecting a meetinghouse. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 32

All had large families to support and were dependent upon their daily labor to meet their expenses. But one after another they said, “Put me down for one pound.” Brother Sherwin said that he would give five pounds; this was the highest sum that any of this little company could give. Those who in their deep poverty gave one pound were liberal, and the Lord blessed them. One man who has not yet taken his stand for the truth, and who has a large family of children, gave one pound. His name is Mitchel, and he is an intelligent man; we have faith that soon he will be wholly in the truth. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 33

I could not but be forcibly impressed with the words of the apostle, “For to their power I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.” [2 Corinthians 8:3.] Brother McCullagh said he would give two pounds ten, and was authorized to tell them that Brother Starr would also give two pounds ten. These brethren have done liberally in taking their part in this enterprise of building a meetinghouse. Willie said he thought he could not possibly venture to give over one pound; but if they should decide to purchase two lots, he would give two pounds, although he was not able to do this. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 34

Sister White was called upon with the inquiry as to how much she would give. I stated that I would give twenty pounds, and wished that I could give forty, but this was all I could do at the present. Two hundred pounds were subscribed. The house will be built if I have to give twenty pounds more. All that I have and am is the Lord’s; nothing shall be wasted, nothing shall be used selfishly. The Lord will help us to help our brethren in this country during these hard and trying times. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 35

We had a very precious meeting, which was extended until nearly dark. There was no moon, but the stars and the carriage lamps lit up the road homeward. The horse walked most of the way, but though the light of day was withdrawn, we were under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The Lord lives and reigns. If we look to Him alone for approval, we shall not be so often disappointed. However hard the lesson, we must learn not to trust in men nor to make flesh our arm, for if we do, we will surely fail and become discouraged. As we were nearing home, we met Brother Belden with his pony and trap, taking Elder Corliss, who had come up from Sydney, to fill his appointment. We have been having meetings Sunday afternoon and evening at Parramatta, and Brother Belden had his little trap well filled with those who were going from our place. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 36

I have been up writing since four o’clock this morning, and now it is daylight. I put up my pen. The days are at their shortest now and will begin to lengthen slowly from this time on. Next week we will move into a nice, large, two-storey house up on the hill. The rent was ninety-eight pounds per year when we called there some time ago, but the times are so hard and money is so scarce, that they now offer the place for two dollars less per month than we are now paying. We have been paying twenty-seven dollars per month, but will rent this for twenty-five. It is thought that this house is too low in its location. Rheumatism has troubled several of us, and me in particular. We hope for the best and trust all with God. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 37

I learn that last night’s meeting in the hall at Parramatta was well attended, and the contribution for afternoon and evening amounted to nineteen shillings. There were not many out in the afternoon, for there was a band of musicians in the park, and some things of interest going on in the hospitals which attracted the attention of the people. 9LtMs, Lt 54a, 1894, par. 38