Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 114, 1896

Wessels, Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

July 16, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 119; 8MR 251; 4Bio 265-266.

Dear Sister Wessels:

I greet you heartily in the Lord. I have just been thinking how glad I would be to see you and every member of your family. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 1

One year ago the first of this month I came to this place, and for three weeks lived in a little cottage which had been hired by Brother David Lacey. We were anxious to select a site where we could locate, and in our platform wagon, drawn by my two horses, Jessie and Maggie, Willie and I rode over the different allotments, driving through the thick brush and over the small logs. We selected forty acres, twenty for Willie and twenty for myself. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 2

I was at this time so completely exhausted that I could do no writing, and supposed that I must rest. The pain in my forehead, in my eyes, and in the front part of my head, was severe. But every morning at five o’clock I roused Willie, and together we walked nearly half a mile to attend the morning meeting at the school. We crawled through fences and over logs. The ground was covered with frost, and the grass crackled under our feet. We met with a room full of students, and the Lord gave me a testimony to bear to the young men and women assembled. My heart was drawn out in earnest prayer, and all present felt that the Lord was in our midst. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 3

I spoke to the students ten times, and they all bore testimony to the blessing of the Lord. Besides this, I spoke on two Sabbaths to the dining room full of believers. Some unbelievers also were present. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 4

Soon after this Brother Lacey and part of his family came to Cooranbong, and with their goods moved into the house where I had been staying. I took a little room opening off the piazza. Friday afternoon I was sitting in the rocking chair, when the peace of God that passeth understanding came upon me. The whole room seemed to be filled with a presence, which though unseen, was felt. My heart and mind were filled with quiet and rest. It seemed as though a hand passed over my head, which had suffered so much pain, and at once the disagreeable, icy chilliness that I had felt, passed away. The next morning at three o’clock I was able to write in regard to the students, their duty, privilege, and opportunities. I knew that the Holy Spirit was leading and impressing me; I knew that the words were given me of God; and I rejoiced in spirit. O, how my heart was comforted and blessed. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 5

The last morning before leaving I spoke to the students, and we had a precious season of refreshing. Testimonies right to the point were borne by the students. Previous to this time brethren Rousseau and Daniells had been much opposed to the location which had been selected for the school. But on this occasion Brother Rousseau’s testimony was frank, open, and clear. He stated that he was fully convinced that we were in the right place, that this was the location which the Lord in His providence had chosen for the school. This acknowledgement brought him much freedom, and greatly relieved those who had always felt satisfied in regard to the location of the school. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 6

And when Elder Daniells passed through on his way from Queensland, he stopped over night at Cooranbong. He looked over the land, and saw what had been done. He sanctioned all the movements which had been made, and expressed himself as pleased with the location. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 7

Not long after this, circumstances made it necessary for us to return to Granville. There we remained one week, and again visited Cooranbong. We pitched three tents on the site which we had chosen for our home, engaged a number of workmen, and commenced the work of felling the bush. A cottage intended for an office was begun, preparatory to erecting a dwelling house. But so many calls came for money to support the workers in the Sydney mission that I appropriated for this purpose, from the royalties on foreign books, about six pounds a week. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 8

We saw that the building originally intended only for an office must be made to answer as a dwelling house. This was finished, and we are now living in it. It is a comfortable house, with the exception of some chambers up stairs. These were designed merely as storerooms for books and papers, etc., but were converted into bed rooms, and are now occupied by some of my workers. They are not all that I could desire, for on one side, the half-storey, shelving roof comes down very low, and though the roof is a reasonable height in the middle, the rooms are very hot in the summer. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 9

This cottage must answer as my dwelling house until I can sell my property in Battle Creek. I shall then build a house with rooms more suitable for my workers, and Willie will take this house. But as long as I see our school building and meeting house waiting to be built, I shall thank the Lord for the conveniences I already have. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 10

W. C. White is now living in a convent in Cooranbong, which he hires from the Roman Catholics for 10/-per week. It is a nice, roomy house, and the rent is very low. I suppose the Catholics think it cursed by being occupied by Protestants, for they want to sell house and land for twelve hundred dollars. But we shall not buy now, for money is very scarce. If we can obtain enough to supply our immediate necessities, and get food and the necessary clothes, we shall be thankful. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 11

I praise the Lord that as yet we have known no want, but my heart aches when I see how the work on the school buildings is retarded for want of means. But the Lord means this work to go forward, and I know that He has money for us in the hands of His stewards. In His own good time He will send it to us. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 12

Brother and Sister Lawrence live close by us in a small building that was intended for a washhouse and laundry. Up to this time we have done our washing under the open heavens. Willie’s twins were born in this building, and when Willie and his family moved to the convent, Brother and Sister Lawrence moved into the washhouse. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 13

The manuscript for The Life of Christ is just about to be sent to America. This will be handled by the Pacific Press. I have employed workers to prepare this book, especially Sister Davis, and this has cost me three thousand dollars. Another three thousand will be needed to prepare it to be scattered broadcast through the world in two books. We hope that they will have a large sale. I have devoted little time to these books, for speaking, writing articles for the papers, and writing private testimonies to meet and repress the evils that are coming in, keeps me busy. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 14

My time for writing usually commences at three o’clock in the morning, when all in the house are asleep. Often I am awakened at half past twelve, one, or two o’clock. Such striking scenes are presented before me, of the mistakes being made at the heart of the work, or of individuals who are imperilling their souls by a wrong course of action that I dress and begin my work at all hours of the night. This has been the case for many years. The carpenters employed to build my house always put aside their tools when they had worked for eight hours, but I cannot do this. The eight hour system could not be brought into my home, for oft times my work demands my time and the time of my workers from early morning till late at night. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 15

My family now numbers thirteen. Besides this, poor men who have families to support, are employed. These sleep in a tent, and are supplied with food from our table. We have a great deal of this kind of work to do, so that the family really numbers sixteen or seventeen. At times we are unable to draw money from the Echo Office, and then we are obliged to retrench in every possible way. My workers go without their wages for months, because the money cannot be handed to them until it has been received by us. Thus it was in the winter of 1894; thus it has been this winter. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 16

If the canvassers are successful in their work, the office at Melbourne is able to pay those who have deposited money there; but if few books are sold, and there is no money in the treasury, we have to do the best we can. Sometimes we are obliged to run up large accounts for groceries and living supplies. We are trying to help our poorer brethren to get through the winter, but we do not do half we would do if we could get money. But God is good. He knows all about our necessities. He will open the way before us. He will lead us in a plain path, and we shall see of His salvation. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 17

We are glad to report that the excellence of the land exceeds our expectations. It was set down as being too poor to raise anything, but we find that it gives forth its treasures abundantly to reward the labor put upon it. False witness has been borne of the land, and the testimony given by God has been verified. The land has produced luxuriant crops. Everything that has been properly planted and cared for has been an object lesson, showing what the land can do. Few of the fruit trees which were planted are dead. We planted only a small number of trees, for it was so late in the season. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 18

Last year we had no rain from February till October, and because of this, the land was hard to work. We ventured daintily in putting in crops. But thus far this year we have had plenty of rain, and for this we are very thankful. This month and next we must do our planting, trusting that the Lord will give the increase. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 19

We began to clear our land late in August 1895. Our orchard was planted during September and October. Since then great changes have been made. I hoped by this time to have made this wilderness blossom as a rose, but we shall yet see matters progress. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 20

I have just looked at my watch, and see that it is six o’clock. It is not yet light, but soon will be. It is now orange season in this country, and we can buy oranges for three pence a dozen, and lemons for two pence. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 21

A few weeks ago a night school was started for those who are at work during the day. Brother Herbert Lacey and his wife teach this school four evenings in the week. Mrs. Lacey also has a class in the afternoon. The school is held in a room over the sawmill. This room has been roughly fitted up as a school room. We also hold our Sabbath services there. There are twenty or thirty attending this school, and these are given as many classes as they can carry with their other work. This mill loft is a very cold place, and we need a school building and a meeting house very much. If a school building could be erected, it might serve as a chapel, or if a chapel could be built, it might answer for a time for school purposes. Time will develop methods and plans. May the Lord give us wisdom. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 22

We are not situated here as they are in America. Here everything is bound about because of lack of funds. The brethren are all poor. We do not know of a soul that could furnish us with money sufficient to help us much. But in America they are able to go on enlarging and still enlarging. As to hard times, they can know little about them, for they can put up buildings which they might do without, and use the money to advance the Lord’s work in regions beyond. Warnings have been given for years that so many buildings must not be erected in Battle Creek. The seeds of truth must be planted in other places. There is a great work to be done in Australia and New Zealand. New fields must be entered. Souls are constantly coming into the truth, and when a new company is raised up, a house of worship must be built for them, for buildings suitable for this purpose cannot be rented. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 23

I had been looking at the prospect before us, which is not very flattering, when the word of the Lord came to me, “Send to Africa for help. I have entrusted my stewards there with means, and I will move upon their hearts to trade upon my entrusted talents.” In obedience to this word, I wrote to Africa for the loan of £1,000. I believe the Lord will work upon the hearts of His people living in South Africa to help us. We address you as stewards of the Lord’s means. Time is short, and we want the work to go forward as fast as possible. There are souls that must learn the truth. But how can they hear without a preacher, and how can the Lord’s servants preach except they be sent? 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 24

We address you and your children, my dear sister, asking you to heed the word of the Lord. We know that the Lord moved upon <your heart and> your daughter’s heart to help us in our great need one year ago, and we praise the Lord for it. If you will accommodate me, I will pass the loan over to the school, and will pay you the interest on it that you may require. And if any one can make donations, we shall thank the Lord for your liberality, not to us, but to the Lord. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 25

I send direct to you and the brethren in South Africa. Set the Lord’s means in circulation, and let it work for the saving of souls. You will receive a blessing in doing this. I have not forgotten your daughter’s donation, or your son Philip’s, or your own, my sister. You have earned for yourself the reputation of being indeed a mother to your family and to the saints. I ask you to loan us what you can, for I dare not wait longer before making every possible effort to start the school work here. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 26

It is now light, and the time has come for morning worship. 11LtMs, Lt 114, 1896, par. 27