Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Lt 92, 1897

Lindsay, Brother and Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

January 31, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 8MR 368-369; 4Bio 290.

Dear Brother and Sister Lindsay:

I would be much pleased could you see the advancement that has been made in Cooranbong. One year ago last July we entered this place with our horses and platform wagon without road or path. About the last of that month we brought our tents, and cleared a spot for two of them. In September my family tent was pitched and also my dining tent, and the men were set to work clearing. First we had a space cleared for buildings, then for our orchard. We had bullock teams come in and break up the sod in furrows, leaving the unbroken for a more convenient opportunity when money should be more plentiful. This lasted until the last of September, and in October trees were set in the place that had been well prepared for them. But we had no rain from September until December. Everything depended for water upon the water hole which lies near the orchard, near where water could be obtained for the trees. And last February and March we had the bullock teams complete the work of ploughing. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 1

Contrary to anything that I had expected, most of our peach trees were full of blossoms. In September, when we came home from camp meeting, we learned that the trees had been full of peaches, but that it had been thought wisdom to pick nearly all, leaving a few for samples. On November 25 I came home very sick from the conference in Ashfield, Sydney. A few of these early peaches had been saved for me, and they were very gratefully received. We have been picking the later peaches in January. These are the most beautiful in appearance that I have ever seen, being delicately and highly colored. And they are just as choice in taste as they are in appearance. I think I have never seen larger. Two of them weighed one pound. These same peaches are selling in Sydney at threepence each. If the Lord favors us next year, we will have at this time, beginning with December and lasting until the last of January, all the early peaches, nectarines, and apricots that we can eat and can. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 2

Our apples will not bear for a year or two. The trees were very small when set out. We have been living off our vegetables this year. Last year we had but few tomatoes; but this year we have enough for ourselves and a good supply for our neighbors also. So we testify that the school land will yield abundantly this coming year if the Lord’s blessing shall attend our labors. We are now eating sweet corn that this land has produced, and we enjoy it much. I wish I could pass around to Mother Wessels and your family the products of our experiments in farming this first year in the bush. The Lord has prospered us indeed. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 3

I take the twins these large peaches, and when the skin is taken off they enjoy them very much. They will be ten months old on the sixth of February. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 4

I thought I ought to write of these things, because I am sure that impressions have gone to South Africa that are not correct. This seems too bad when we are struggling so hard to make a beginning. We are seeing the exact fulfillment of the light the Lord has given me, that if the land is worked thoroughly it will yield its treasures. I was never in a more healthful place than this. There seems to be health in the very air we breathe. I do not think I should have had that severe sickness had I remained here. I had my greatest suffering between twelve and four o’clock. It was agony; but thank the Lord it is now past. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 5

I would be so much pleased to have you make us a visit now. I am sure if we were near, or you near us, you would do so, and I would visit you also. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 6

Much has been said in regard to expending money in order to clear land and cut ditches to drain the swamp; but this is the very thing that must be done for the healthfulness of the location. Of course it cost money to clear land and cut ditches; but it is much better that this should be done before several lose their lives from the damp arising from the swamp. And although it will take time for the swamp land to produce, yet, if worked, it will make the most profitable land of all. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 7

The orchard and vegetable garden are doing splendidly. They had some fruit and a large yield of vegetables from the orchard and garden both last year and this. At first everything had to be transported from Sydney or Newcastle, and thus our fruit would spoil before it could reach us, and vegetables also would wilt and spoil. This will not occur again, but at that time we had no money to work the school grounds and raise crops, so we took up only a portion of the land. We felt bad to have to let it lie, but it will be worked this year. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 8

We have studied hard in regard to our buildings that all the work should be done as cheaply as possible. A few things have been put in my building, such as transoms and fixings over the doors, but this is all I can see that we might have done without. We have not one room that we could have dropped out, not one, and everything is as plain as it can be. And yet the expense of the building is much larger than we supposed it would be. And as we are not in Battle Creek, where we can call upon the churches to help the treasury of means, we have to bind about in every possible way, so that the means we have may extend as far as possible. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 9

There were brethren [who were] offered four and five shillings per day, but refused to accept it. Unless they could have six shillings they would not work. Brother Shannon is a very capable man as a carpenter, and in the past has received high wages for his work. But we could not pay him that which he could get in other places; the treasury would not allow of this. When the building was put out to tender, he became almost frenzied because the responsible men on the school ground could not give as high wages as he thought he should have. I wondered how long it would take for the little fund in the treasury to become exhausted if the demands of such were supplied. Those who cannot come to this place and show unselfish interest when we are struggling so hard to make things move are not the men who are wanted on this ground. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 10

It was thought by some that we could find a location that would be more favorable than this land for raising oranges, lemons, peaches and all kinds of fruit. So we visited Fairmount and other places where it was thought a nice location might be found. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 11

In one instance we travelled with our horse and wagons for about eight miles after we left the station, up hill and down. There was no road by which to get to the farm. For two or three miles we were obliged to go through private property in order to get to the place. There we found orchards of oranges and lemons and a few fruit trees. But the cottage that was set low in the ground did not at all meet our ideas in its construction. For the buildings we would need for different purposes and the two thousand acres of land we would have to pay out the sum of thirty thousand dollars, and this money we could not raise. Then everything would have to be transported over a hilly road by private conveyance a distance of about eight miles; and for water privilege we would have to go to the river the same distance away. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 12

At another place we visited [there] was an immense house, richly adorned with mirrors made into the walls. But the window frames were honey-combed with white ants, and the building was altogether in a terrible state of decay. This place, consisting of twelve hundred acres, was valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. It had no water supply, and there was nothing but broken tanks to depend on, and the distance five miles from the station. Our party, Brethren Rousseau, McKenzie, and W. C. White, returned home, and this was the last search they undertook. For after these places had been examined and tested, they were not found to be any better than the land in Cooranbong. After all this examination, the decision was made to locate here on this ground. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 13

Now, as we have followed what we know to be the counsel of God, and are striving to do everything in every way possible to save means to make a beginning, we feel deeply over the men who, instead of standing bravely beside us, have turned around to discourage the people in regard to matters here. All that we regret is that, because so great stress has been felt that we must save and economize, some losses have been incurred that might have been avoided had we had the money to expend in the first place. Every lawyer will grasp all he can obtain. We were expecting aid from businessmen to take the entire charge of the business; but these men from America, after being promised, never came, for the men refused to come. Thus holding back for them complicated matters, and thus losses have been incurred, which might have been avoided if everything had been carried out after the plans devised. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 14

There are those who take advantage of this matter, which their aftersight has revealed might have been done in such a way as to save the paying out of means if we had only known the outcome. Any one who has seen the outcome of things can readily explain how certain mistakes might have been avoided. But the foresight of these persons was not so keen as their aftersight, and when things did not go to suit their own ideas, they represented matters just as they pleased. They were told that every dollar of the money in the treasury was Sister White’s, hired from Sister Wessels to carry on the work. The only thing, they were told, that could be done was to limit expenses wherever it was possible. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 15

I have been studying how we could get two rooms finished off for May White and the four children before Willie returns from America. We propose to add two rooms with a piazza to a building we had erected for a woodshed and washhouse. We had to convert this into a house for our workmen to sleep in, and after that to seal up one room to make it comfortable for May White to sleep in. It was here that her twin boys were born, now beautiful almost ten month old babies. But we must arrange something for them for winter. And as it has to be done, we have been figuring how we could put up two rooms close by the building where they now live. We were arranging that it should be detached, so that it could be moved when they wanted to build. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 16

We found that these two rooms would cost four hundred and fifty dollars. We could have done this, but Brother Semmens has just secured a building to carry on his treatment of the sick, and he had nothing with which to furnish the house, and as I had promised him thirty-five pounds, this, and other demands for means, made me give that plan up. When I can feel clear to commence to build, I will commence a four-roomed cottage and lean-to kitchen, and put two rooms in comfortable condition for the mother and children. There is no safety in their remaining where they are any longer than is necessary. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 17

Now you can see our situation. I have used up my surplus means, and have now but very little to use for outgoing expenses. When these brethren, who had every chance to know (I had told them), tried to hurt the reputation of the brethren here and disparage Cooranbong, it hurt my soul. Could they not possibly take in the situation? 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 18

We must have a meetinghouse; we must have school buildings; and it is not here as in Battle Creek, the place where facilities are abundant, where we can rally our brethren who have means to come to our help and sustain us. One brother in Hastings, New Zealand writes me: “Sister White, you have helped in building the church in Ormondville; you have donated pounds to the Napier church; you have helped to pay the debt on the Gisborne church; and will you not now donate something to the church in Hastings, New Zealand?” I want to do this; for there is not a building they can obtain in Hastings where they can be accommodated in any proper way. We must help the poor, or they will suffer. But I cannot help them in New Zealand. I must now put in every dollar here in Cooranbong. I hate to let the money go to establish a Health Home in Sydney. But we need this, for it will give character to the work. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 19

In all New South Wales we have but one minister. We have no money to pay for ministers. What does this mean? Fields are opening all around us, but there is no one to fill the places. For miles around they are sending for ministers to come to baptisms. People are accepting the truth through reading Great Controversy. One, writing, says, “I wish to be baptized. My father, two daughters, one son, and my neighbors are interested. Will you send a minister? Some of my neighbors have received the truth, and wish to be baptized.” Here about one hundred and fifty miles from Sydney we hear the Macedonian cry, “Come over and help us.” [Acts 16:9.] But what can we do? 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 20

May the Lord teach us His will and open the way by sending means that we can pay a minister to go into the highways and byways. Things are often perplexing to the mind, and many times we cannot discern the why and wherefore of them. All we can do is to trust and wait for the Lord to take hold and straighten out the problems that appear dark and unexplainable. 12LtMs, Lt 92, 1897, par. 21