Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 115, 1896

Wessels, Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

December 14, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in 8MR 56, 251; 9MR 352.

Dear Sister Wessels:

I wish you could visit the school grounds and my place now, and see our beautiful orchards. Our trees were planted one year ago the last of September, and in their season were full of beautiful blossoms. The peach and nectarine trees were loaded with fruit, but it was thought advisable to pick it off, in order that the trees might do better next year. But we left enough fruit on them to test its quality. They are like those large, juicy peaches that you ate at my home in Granville before and after Christmas. This fruit comes when there are no other fruits or vegetables to be had. We have also some later peaches, which are larger. We left a few of these also on the trees that we might test the quality of them. I have enjoyed the little fruit we have had very much. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 1

My orchard is thrifty. It seems almost incredible when I look back at the little, apparently inferior, whip sticks that were set out, that there should be such rapid growth. All the trees were trimmed very close, by measurement; but in five weeks the branches have grown five and eight feet. If the Lord prospers us next year, our family will have all the fruit they will wish to use. We have quite a variety: pomegranates, persimmons, plums, apricots, oranges, lemons, apples, and pears. We do not regret having planted these trees before we had a house, for it is most difficult to transport ripe fruit, and when it is picked green, we do not think it healthful to use. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 2

Yesterday W. C. White and my chief worker, Miss Davis, rode over the school grounds, and I picked some fruit from the trees in the school orchard. The work done by the students there was the best thing that could have been done. We feel so thankful that we have made the experiment, and can testify that the land, when thoroughly cultivated, will yield its treasures in fruit and vegetables. This is a fact that we have felt it necessary to demonstrate. In all Cooranbong I have not found one orchard that is well worked. A few orange trees, some common lemons, and a few peach trees of an inferior class, constitute their orchards generally. Sara and I rode about five or six miles on Thursday, to see if we could get early peaches, but could not. They all said, “We do want early peaches so much.” “But” thought I, “why do they not plant the trees?” There are some beautiful orchards on the side of the lake, where grapes, apples, peaches, and other fruit are cultivated. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 3

We are happily disappointed in the land here. We can now speak intelligently of what it can produce. On the school land and at “Sunnyside” White farm, we are giving object lessons of what can be done. I am so thankful to our heavenly Father that we can do this much. We are raising potatoes, corn, vegetables, and all are doing well. We are now enjoying some of the best string beans I have ever yet tasted. We raised these on our land. The seed, which was of a choice order, was planted last year, after supplying quite a large amount to our neighbors. I enjoy the retirement of my rural home. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 4

About two months ago we made a trip to Melbourne and Adelaide, tarrying at Sydney, where I spoke twice. I spoke twelve times in Adelaide, once in Ballarat, once in Williamstown, and twelve times in the new church at North Fitzroy. Our meetings were a success in Adelaide. We worked hard, and had large congregations on weekdays and evenings as well as Sabbath and Sunday. Not only was the tent crowded, but a wall of people surrounded it on the outside. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 5

We have never witnessed such remarkable demonstrations of fierce opposition as at this place. The wrath of the dragon was manifested. This opposition came from a Disciple minister and from a professedly converted Jew. They would break right in upon the speaker while he was preaching. Of all the unreasonable and ridiculous movements, this was the worst we ever met. But they overdid themselves, and now there is nothing left of the opposition; it is dead. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 6

Meetings have been held in Adelaide since the camp meeting ended. There are quite a number of the very best class of people embracing the truth. The church in Adelaide will be strengthened by these additions. The tent will be moved into different localities where the greatest prospect for good presents itself. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 7

A little later, we attended the second conference held in Sydney. Tents were pitched to accommodate those coming in from the country. The meetings were most excellent. The Spirit of the Lord was with us. After the meeting, I had just got off my American and African mails, when I was suddenly prostrated with what appeared to be malaria. I remember nothing of what took place after I was first taken ill. Sara McEnterfer worked over me all night, and the following morning they took me to the Strathfield station. Two men carried me over to railroad crossing steps, and I was put into a first-class compartment for Cooranbong. For two weeks I was very sick. I suffered intense pain. My head troubled me greatly, and I could not find a place where I could rest it. But for one week now I have been slowly gaining strength. The pain has left me, and I shall now, I think, improve. I cannot sleep past one or two o’clock in the morning, and, bolstered up with pillows, I have written all I could. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 8

Sunday, December 13

Today we had the privilege of seeing our first school building well on the way. The roofing is on, the walls are up, and the building is enclosed. The primary school is to be commenced here as soon as the building is completed. I wish you could see it. We all take courage now, and all seem to work interestedly. The next building will soon be started. If we cannot command means to build a house of worship, we shall have to use the mill until we can see an opening. I do not want to worry. I want to bear in mind that this is the Lord’s work, a part of His moral vineyard. He has the supervision of this work. Everything is the Lord’s, and we are His instrumentalities, not to please, serve, or gratify ourselves, but to do the work the Lord has for us to do. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 9

We have been trying to get all our buildings put up in neat, plain style, without any show. We are determined that not one pound shall be expended unnecessarily. We have written for Brother John Wessels to come and take hold with us in building our sanitarium. We have been trying for some time to hire a building, but none can be found that will suit. Three buildings which we were trying to procure for the purpose were refused us when the owners found that they were to be used as a sanitarium. They said it would spoil them for successful renting in the future. So here we are, waiting and praying. It may be that our way is blocked until John Wessels shall come. We hope that the next boat will bring Brother John Wessels and wife, Sister Peck, and Sister Herd to us. But we leave everything in the hands of the Lord. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 10

Notwithstanding my sickness, I have had my pen in my hand every day. I am greatly burdened for many poor souls. I am trying to reach those who are nigh and afar off. I feel deeply interested in each member of your family. I entreat you, my sister, as the mother of a large family, that you preserve your health and strength. Cling close to Jesus, and He will lead you and guide you and make you a blessing to your children. We have need of Jesus every moment. He has told us, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] What does this mean? It means that we cannot do any work that will be of any profit to ourselves or our friends unless Jesus is interwoven with it all. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 11

Oh, how my soul longs to see all who know the truth have corresponding works. We are working now, not only for time, but for eternity. This life time is our school. The Lord has granted us a period of probation, and our test is obedience to His moral standard of righteousness. Obedience or disobedience is deciding our destiny. God grant that you, my dear sister, and your family, may enter in through the gates into the city, and have right to the tree of life. Oh, may every member of your family inquire of themselves, “Am I a loyal subject of God’s kingdom, or am I a rebel to His government?” It makes every difference whether we are obedient or disobedient. Oh how I long to see the human agent placing the proper value upon his God-given capabilities! 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 12

The talents entrusted to us are to be doubled. If the Lord has furnished us with powers of mind to improve and use, are we excusable if we do so little real service for the Master? But when we know that through Christ, the great Restorer, we may have life, eternal life, a glorious immortality, I am deeply distressed to see how little is being done to use and improve both time and money in doing a work which shall last in its influence through eternal ages. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 13

Now, during probationary time, we are to meet the highest standard. Christ’s words to His followers are, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] We cannot sink down to any cheap level, and be guiltless. The Lord will help each, as He helped Daniel, if he will put to the stretch every muscle, every faculty of the mind, every power of the organism to fulfil God’s purpose for him. This wonderful human structure was designed by God for companionship with Himself, to be a part of His great firm. He desires that we shall become partakers of the divine nature, capable of loving God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. In this is summed up the commandments of God, the whole duty of man. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 14

But the contrast which the human agent presents to the possibilities [of rising] to the highest elevation that Christ has opened before us is painful. Something is terribly out of order. The Lord did not create man to live a life of sensual pleasure in this life, and then perish as a worthless wreck on a foreign shore. No; He would have us rise to the possibilities He has prepared for us at an infinite cost. 11LtMs, Lt 115, 1896, par. 15