Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9

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Lt 82, 1894

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Per Ardua, Williams Street, Granville, New South Wales, Australia

May 1, 1894

Portions of this letter are published in 8MR 133-140.

Dear Children Edson and Emma:

I have just read your letters. I am glad Edson, you have written me so fully as you have written. I will not say ought to bar your way, though I could have wished that you could have felt that duty indicated you should join us in our work in this far-off field, even though we should have to leave the field to go to Africa. There are fields opening all around us which you could enter, and under the direction of God you could do a much-needed work. There are so many places demanding labor that we are greatly perplexed to know what to do to keep the opening fields supplied. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 1

The wonderful truths which open to us from the inspired page fill our souls with reverence of God, and we realize the sacredness of His work to such an extent that we feel unworthy to act a part in it. The missionary work has been originated by the greatest Missionary that has ever worked in our world. We rejoice to see that hearts are opening and that men and women in America are ready to give gifts and offerings in addition to their tithes. God will bless every soul who has given willingly. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 2

The ninth chapter of Second Corinthians is full of sound principles and contains lessons that should be learned and practiced. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” [Verses 6-8.] 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 3

We are working to the very best of our ability. Since making my home in Granville, I have worked fully as hard as I am able. The first Sabbath after coming here, Brother Starr and myself attended the meeting at the Parramatta church. This church has been raised up since we first came to Sydney. A few days after arriving in Sydney, December 11, we took a boat ride up the Parramatta River, and had a picnic in an extensive park in Parramatta. We said then what a pity it is that there is no one in this place keeping the Sabbath, and we wondered whether our voices would be raised in proclaiming the message of warning to the people. Since then a church has been raised up of about fifty members, though we have a much larger congregation. A convenient church has been built, in which I have spoken several times, and I often drive with my horse and phaeton through the beautiful grounds in which we first talked about the dissemination of truth in this place. The Lord be praised for the work that has been done in Parramatta. Twelve miles from Parramatta another church has been raised up of about thirty-five members, and a neat little church has been built. Eight miles from here, at Seven Hills, a company has been raised up by recent tent labors. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 4

Dora Creek

May 24

Dear Children:

Last Wednesday we left Granville for Dora Creek. We were two hours and a half coming seventy-nine miles. We accomplished the journey very comfortably. Brother McKenzie, whom we met at the cars, came on with us. I am writing by the light of the candle set in a tin candlestick, and placed on a tall tin box in my folding chair. We did not think of taking lamps with us; but by this morning’s experience in writing before daylight, they would have been of excellent service to us. We found a good dinner waiting for us, and all seemed to eat as if they relished the food. After dinner we went to the riverside, and Brethren Starr, McKenzie, and Collins seated themselves in one boat, Brethren Daniells, McCullagh, and Reekie in a still larger boat, and Willie White, Emily Campbell, and myself in another. We rode several miles upon the water. Though the stream is called Dora Creek, yet it has the appearance of a river, for it is a wide, deep stream. It is somewhat salt, but loses its saltiness as it borders the place which we are investigating. It required two rowers to pull the boat upstream. I should judge this is no creek, but a deep, narrow river, and the water is beautiful. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 5

I did considerable walking yesterday in going from the station to the house which is occupied by Brother and Sister Lawrence, recently from Battle Creek. After dinner I walked to the water to take the boat. The boat ride was very enjoyable, though the rowers had to change hands to rest each other. On our way we passed several houses upon farms of about forty acres of land. Some of the places are for sale, but are altogether too high in price. From one settlement several small children were at the water’s edge, and as there is no beach, they could easily fall from the high bank into very deep water, where only an experienced swimmer could save them from drowning. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 6

When we landed on the ground to be explored, we found a blue-gum tree about one hundred feet long lying on the ground. There was a fire in the center, and the smoke came out of the forked ends, and the main trunk, which united together to form three chimneys; several feet of one fork was a burning mass of glowing coals. The day before, Willie and Brother Reekie had taken their dinner at this place and had kindled a fire in a knot of wood, and it had been burning ever since. There was no danger of setting the woods on fire, and it was a pretty sight. Willie, Emily, and I rested here for a little while, but the rest of the party took their shovels and went on to examine portions of the land that they had not yet passed over. The place where we tarried had a very nice grade. It was a ridge, not abrupt, but slightly elevated. Around us were immense trees that had been cut down, and parts were taken out which could be used. I thought if one of these trees could lie in our dooryard at Granville, we should not need to question as to where our fuel would come from, for we would have an abundance for a long time. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 7

We looked at a piece of swampy land; it did not look to be more than ten acres, but they say it covers about fifteen acres of ground. This objectionable feature may be a blessing in disguise, for it is three feet above the level of the river, and by employing the right methods it could be drained, and thus become the most valuable piece of land in the whole tract. The Creek, as they call it, bounds the tract on two sides. Willie prepared me a comfortable seat with my cushions on a large log and then he walked a short distance to see the river on the other side of the tract of land. I had an opportunity to meditate and pray. We are much pleased with this place as a location for the school. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 8

The clearing of the land does not appear to be as formidable a task as we supposed. Some spaces are already cleared; some spaces have nothing on them but charred underbrush, with a few large monarchs of the forest still standing. There are trees of smaller growth which are as straight as an arrow. I cannot for a moment entertain the idea that land which can produce such large trees can be of a poor quality. I am sure that were the pains taken with this land, as is customary to take with land in Michigan, it would be in every way as productive. If the people in this country would take the same pains in cultivating as in America, they would be able to grow as excellent fruit, grains, and vegetables as are raised there. If they would put forth the same effort, they might take the wild land in hand, and plough and sow it with grass seed for grazing cattle. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 9

While sitting on the log, my mind was actively planning what could be done. The swamp land could be used for cultivating cranberries, alfalfa might be sown to feed the cows, and some kinds of vegetables could be grown. I could see nothing discouraging in prospect of taking the land. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 10

But our party returned, and broke up my future faith-prospecting. They gathered up my pillows, and we moved on our way back, as far as it would be prudent for me to walk. Again we halted and a seat was made for me to rest awhile, and we did some more talking and planning. Again we moved on, and did not pause till we reached the burning tree. They rolled over a large log, and a seat was made for me, where I could sit on my spring cushion and lean against a tree. I was facing a large, cheerful fire that was made by the burning tree. After I was comfortably settled, Willie went in search of lemons which grew on the trees bordering the fence which bounded the farm. He brought back some nice specimens, and said he had picked the best there were. The rest were too green to eat. There are oranges growing wild, planted by someone years ago but left uncultivated, which will yield a good crop without cultivation. We reluctantly gathered up our wraps and pillows and made our way toward the boat where the company that had been prospecting joined us. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 11

They came from their investigations with a much more favorable impression than they had hitherto received. They had found some excellent land, the best they had seen, and they thought it was a favorable spot for the location of the school. They had found a creek of fresh water, cold and sweet, the best they had ever tasted. On the whole the day of prospecting had made them much more favorable to the place than they had hitherto been. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 12

While I was riding in the boat, the words of this scripture were in my mind: “But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” John 21:4-6. I was impressed with the fact that these words symbolized our adventures and experiences in seeking a location for our school. We needed our faith strengthened, in order that we might cast our nets on the right side of the ship, which was the faith side, and we should be successful in seeing advantages in the very things which looked, at first sight, forbidding. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 13

But the night was drawing on, and we were again placed in our position in the boat, and were soon returning from our tour of inspection by the light of the stars. Everything about the place had impressed me favorably except the fact that we were far from the great thoroughfares of travel, and therefore would not have an opportunity of letting our light shine amid the moral darkness that covers our large cities like the pall of death. This seems the only objection that presents itself to my mind. But then it would not be advisable to establish our school in any of our large cities. In the first place we have but little money and could not afford to purchase high-priced land; and in the second place there would be many temptations in such a locality that would be likely to lead the youth to become demoralized, and it is best to be far away from the cities. This is not so far from the city, but that the light can shine forth in clear, bright rays. There are souls perishing everywhere for the truth of God, and the light must shine in the highways and the byways. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 14

We desire to have our school so located that the students shall have plenty of opportunity to exercise their physical powers, as well as to exercise their mental abilities. We desire that every facility may be afforded for educating and training the students to use their muscles as well as their brains, that we may have well-developed men and women who are sound in body and mind, and who have a good spiritual understanding. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 15

We are much pleased with the climate. It seems to be even and very pleasant. The weather here at present could not be better. Yesterday was a beautiful day, and last night was a beautiful night. This morning the sky is cloudless, the atmosphere cool and bracing. It is healthful and invigorating in the locality where we think of locating the school. The owners of the property offer us fifteen hundred acres of land, good and poor mingled, for four thousand, five hundred dollars. This is, I consider, a rare opportunity, and in the providence of God offered to us, and we ought to have the land. Much of it is poor and cannot be cultivated. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 16

I have seen the committee since writing the foregoing page, and I understand that the decision has been made to purchase this property as soon as we can possibly do so. Of course, we cannot do this without means, and we have none. God in His great goodness provided means for us to make connection with our necessities; but human judgment and ideas cut off the channel which would have done something toward relieving our difficulty and would have furnished us means to have made the first payment. But we will trust in God and try not to be discouraged because human judgment interposed between the channel and us. The means has been diverted, and consequently we are left without the money, which we so much needed. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 17

May 22, we were presented with a list of household necessities; but not one of us had money with which to supply the want. Brother Belden said he was two months behind at the grocery store, and he did not want to run the bill any longer. We were very thankful to borrow a couple of pounds, which enabled Elder Starr, Emily, and myself to come to this place and meet Willie and the committee. We cannot see why it is that our brethren at any time lay their hands upon the ark to steady it, as though the God of heaven could not manage His own work in His own time and in His own way. We are not able to see as yet how we can obtain money to make even the first payment on this place; but the Lord can do all things, and we will not distrust Him. O Lord, increase our faith, I was praying in the night season. I thought we were upon an island, and I saw a man who seemed much pleased, holding out a pocketbook to us, and saying, Help is coming. He was waiting for a boat. Then some person we could not just discern in the long distance reached out his hand and took the pocketbook and put it in his inside coat pocket, and the hand which had held the pocketbook was stretched out to us empty. This dream caused me great disappointment, and I groaned aloud. I awoke and could sleep no more. This was about one o’clock in the morning. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 18

On Thursday morning, May 24, we all prepared to get in the rowboat to go again to the tract of land for a further investigation. Before starting we had a most solemn season of prayer. My heart was drawn out in earnest prayer for the Lord to guide us in judgment. He alone could indicate to us what was His holy will. The discussion of this day meant much to every one of us; for it would be settled whether or not the school should be located in this place. I also felt most earnestly for Brother McCullagh who has been quite feeble, and prayed that the blessing of God might rest upon him. Our hearts were melted with the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God. We did believe that we received the things we asked of the Lord. All present seemed deeply moved and several earnest prayers went up to the throne of grace. My faith increased, and I knew the Lord would teach us and lead us, and this He did do. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 19

There was perfect unity in making the decision to purchase the fifteen hundred acres of land at the price of four thousand, five hundred dollars. Our investigations on Thursday confirmed every one of us in the belief that we had done the will of God in deciding to accept the land for the location of our school. 9LtMs, Lt 82, 1894, par. 20