Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17

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Lt 113, 1902

Irwin, Brother and Sister [G. A.]

Petaluma, California

June 15, 1902

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 245-246, 404-405; 3MR 282; 7MR 255-258. +Note

Dear brother and sister Irwin,—

We are attending the Petaluma camp-meeting. I have just come from the tent, after speaking for an hour. The tent was well filled. We have had a most interesting camp-meeting. But I went to the meetings only when I had a part to act; for to listen tires me more than to speak. I have spoken six times, besides giving one short talk on medical missionary work. This is the first time that I have attempted to speak to a large congregation since my severe illness. For a time my voice was so weak that when I attempted to speak, no sound was heard. I feared that I had lost my power to address the people and that I should never recover it. I thank the Lord that I now have my voice again and can speak without difficulty. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 1

I and my workers are living in a rented house about five minutes’ walk from the camp-ground. This house has a paddock and barn attached, so that we have a place for our horses. We pay seven dollars a month for the house. It has eleven rooms, and they are light and airy. I was never before so well accommodated when attending a camp-meeting. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 2

It was in Petaluma that the first tent-meeting in California was held. As a result of that meeting, a goodly number began to keep the Sabbath. But from different causes, the number of believers has grown fewer, till now there are but twelve Sabbath-keepers in the church here. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 3

For years very little has been done in Petaluma by our workers. It makes me very sad to think that this large town, so easy of access to San Francisco and Oakland, has been left unworked, as if it were far away. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 4

The camp-meeting has made an excellent impression. We find here the best class of people to work for. And for many of them, it would not be difficult to keep the Sabbath. Petaluma is a place where a great deal of poultry-raising is done. With almost every dwelling-house on the outskirts of the city, poultry yards are connected. The houses are not built in terraces, but stand apart from one another, often surrounded by several acres of land. Poultry of all kinds is raised, and the eggs find a ready market in San Francisco and Oakland and are taken to the city by boat. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 5

I write this that you may understand the situation. In poultry-raising many families find a means of livelihood, and these could not raise the objection that many raise to keeping the Sabbath—that it would interfere with their business. They could keep the Sabbath without fear of losing their employment. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 6

We have a house of worship at Petaluma, small and humble, but neatly built, and situated in the best part of the town. If necessary, this building could be enlarged. The people who keep these chicken ranches are not so proud and ambitious that this humble house of worship would be beneath their ideas. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 7

Our workers have received a good reception, and many of the people have become deeply interested in the truth. We hope to see a good work done in this place. Brother and Sister Rice and Brother Fero will remain to carry on the work after the camp-meeting closes. Brother Hibbard will also remain for a time. And Brother Beardslee, the one who sang so nicely for us at the General Conference at Battle Creek, will work in Petaluma for a while. They say that he is quite a successful worker. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 8

We sincerely hope that the truth will find a lodgment in many minds. Many of the people are in humble circumstances, and they seem to be much more accessible than the people of some other places. The trial is now to be made as to whether they will take their stand on the side of Christ. We have faith that the Lord will work out everything to the advantage of His workers there. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 9

I have borne a decided reproof from the Lord to the brethren here in regard to Petaluma’s being left as it has been. It has long needed a camp-meeting, followed by earnest, personal labor among the people. My soul is filled with remorse—I cannot word it in any other way—that such places as this should be passed by. Once in a great while a minister has come to speak to the believers, but no effort has been made to place the truth before the people. Why Petaluma should have been neglected is beyond my comprehension. It is so near San Francisco, and yet it might be as far off as Africa as far as any effort to proclaim the truth in it is concerned. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 10

A work is to be done in and around San Francisco and Oakland. The adjacent towns are to be worked. O, I see so much the need of our ministers getting the spirit of the loud cry before it is too late to work for the conversion of souls. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 11

*****

June 30, 1902

My brother, I hope that you have never entertained the idea that you were sent from America because you were not wanted here. I do not want you to think this; because it is not the case at all. I felt sorry to have you and the rest go. We needed all the strong, experienced workers, and we miss you. But you proposed to go and to take others with you, and we did not dare to say one word against it, fearing that we might interfere with the Lord’s plans for Australia. We thought that it would be selfish to hinder you in going. And I felt glad that you could go; for I thought that you would be a special help to the believers in Australia, and that because of your coming they would not feel our leaving so much. We believe that you are in an excellent field and that the Lord will give you signal victories. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 12

When I left Australia, I really thought that I might be back in two years. But I may never see Australia again, though, if it were the Lord’s will, it is the place where I should most prefer to be. I am closely joined to that field by the most tender associations. I love the brethren and sisters there, and were I younger in years, I would certainly return to the field I love so well. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 13

I must say a few words more. Please tell those who recently went to Australia from American that they must be very careful how they speak in regard to the work that has been done in that field. God will not be pleased if they send back to America words of gloomy unbelief. Please tell them not to open their lips in complaint, but to say, “What hath God wrought!” [Numbers 23:23.] He hath fulfilled His Word and set a table in the wilderness. Tell them to be discreet in what they say. By complaint and criticism they neither help themselves nor those who, in establishing the work, fought against great difficulties. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 14

If the brethren who have lately gone to Australia would look at the proportionate advancement made in places in America where at the beginning there was nothing, but where the workers could more readily command means, their hearts would rejoice with great joy at what has been done in Australia. If they had exercised wisdom in writing about the work in Australia, if they had not spoken in so disappointed a way about their expectations not being realized, I think I could have secured means for the work in Australia. But the criticisms contained in some of the letters written in regard to the work that has been done in that field hindered our efforts to get help. They closed the door against help, preventing some from giving who otherwise would have given. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 15

So long as those who wrote these letters were not to fight the battle of establishing the work, in the face of so much poverty and wretchedness, so long as they were entering into other men’s labors, it would certainly have been to their credit to exercise discretion in speaking and writing about the work. The hardships had been borne by others, and delicacy and courtesy at least should have led them to be careful of their words. They entered into the labors of those who had fought the hardest battles and who had moved forward in spite of many difficulties and almost destitute of facilities with which to work. The difficulties have been overcome, and they should feel grateful for what has been accomplished. O silence is eloquence when it takes the place of complaint! 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 16

If these brethren had been in the work from the beginning, if they had taken part in the stern battles that have been fought, they would understand that nothing but the miracle-working power of God has accomplished the work that has been accomplished. We have seen His power as we have advanced from point to point, and we praise Him with heart and soul and voice. O how we appreciated the loving mercies of our God as He led us on step by step. If these brethren had met to worship God in the loft of the sawmill at Avondale—a rough, rude room, stored with the school furniture—and in that disagreeable place had felt the power of God, going home with souls warmed with His love, they would appreciate every stroke that has been made, looking upon the work done with hearts welling up with grateful thanksgiving and joyous praise. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 17

We were instructed to make a sample farm for the education of the inhabitants of Cooranbong, many of whom were begging and stealing for a living. When we first went to Cooranbong, we had to send to Paramatta for our vegetables. One day we received on the morning train a bag of cabbages and a bag of string beans. We put these in our storehouse. A few hours later we went to get some of the beans to cook for dinner, and we found that both beans and cabbages had been stolen. At another time a pan of bread was taken from our kitchen table. But this condition of things was changed long before we left. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 18

We were directed, step by step, how to advance. Those who acted no part in this work have no right to open their lips in criticism until they go to some fieldas difficult as the Australian field was and carry forward a similar pioneer work. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 19

Think you we did not do our best? We located our school where we were directed to locate it. The land was pronounced worthless, but the word came, “God can spread a table in the wilderness.” [See Psalm 78:19.] The providence of God was so manifestly revealed as we advanced, that I have not a shadow of a doubt that the loving heavenly Father was watching over us all the time. Such an experience I value more highly than gold and silver and precious stones. And should the Lord release me from my work in America, I know of no place where I would rather be than in Cooranbong. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 20

May White and I kindled the first fires made to clear the land on which my house was afterward built. There we pitched tents for me and my workers. We knew that by day and by night angels guarded our encampment so that no harm befell us. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 21

Very soon after going to Cooranbong, we began to do medical missionary work. Sara was called to many places to treat the sick, and many of the cases were very difficult ones. This work opened many doors for us, giving us access to hearts. We brought the sick to our home and cared for them there; and the great Medical Missionary came into the home and blessed the care and those who cared for them. He went with the one who was called, often at night, to ride for miles through the woods to visit some suffering one. God was in this work. I praise His holy name. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 22

Dora Creek and Martinsville and the other settlements in the woods, in which we labored, are dear to me. I hope that the most tender solicitude will be shown for the souls in these places, and that earnest efforts will be made to draw them to Christ. Much has been done in these places, and much more will need to be done. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 23

Brother Irwin, have you visited Mr. Barnes, a farmer who lives in Martinsville? Before I left, I thought that he was very near a belief of the truth. Search for these ones. The effort will not be in vain. I wish that you and Sister Irwin could visit Mr. Barnes and become acquainted with him and his family. I think he could be reached by the truth if earnest efforts were put forth to save him. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 24

In Australia we gained an experience that enabled us to endure the seeing of Him who is invisible. When those who did not stand shoulder to shoulder with us in the pioneer work attempt to speak slightingly of what has been done to advance the truth in Australia, I say, Step lightly. You are treading on hallowed ground. Christ and His angels have gone before us, and from the light given me by God, I know that He is going before the workers in New South Wales and in other parts of the field. He is with those who are building the Sanitarium and those who are opening up the health work in Sydney. He will reward those who have worked so long and so faithfully on the sanitarium building, investing in it all the means they have. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 25

I have been distinctly instructed that no documents are to be signed that will place this institutions under the control of those at Battle Creek. Under no circumstances is this to be done; for God will not be glorified by it. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 26

The Lord gave His stewards in America opportunity to unite with Him in establishing a sanitarium in Australia and putting it in working order. But this they did not choose to do. The help that God designed should be sent was hindered, just as the heavenly prince sent to give instruction to Daniel was hindered by princes controlled by counter influences. But in spite of the vexatious hindrances, the will and way of the Lord will be carried out. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 27

Angels of God have stood by the side of those who worked so nobly at Avondale. I thank the Lord that at the time when there was so great a dearth of means, we did not sit down and fold our hands, making no effort to advance. I thank the Lord that He put it into the hearts of our friends in Africa to help in time of need. And I shall never forget the faithful labors of Elder Haskell and yourself in collecting the means that enabled us to place the work where we could leave Australia to come to America at a time when my testimony was needed here. The Lord has been very good. As I think of the poverty, the scarcity of bread and clothing, and of the missionary work we tried to do, I look upon the whole matter as a wonderful thing. The work is an object lesson for all who enter new fields. Let all say, “See what the Lord hath wrought!” 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 28

A great work has been done, and a much greater work would have been done if the means had been sent from America that the Lord signified should be sent. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 29

We loved our field of labor. But how many there are who, not having had the experience that we had, will judge our work superficially. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 30

I know of no place on earth so dear to me as Avondale, where we fought so many battles and gained so many victories. I say to all who visit there that the heavenly angels have walked over the grounds. I tell you this, Brother Irwin, for your encouragement. I know what I know of the stately steppings of the Lord Jesus and His angels. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 31

When we first came to St. Helena, we found things at the Sanitarium here in a bad condition. But matters are improving. Dr. Sanderson is practicing in San Francisco. Dr. Winegar is at the Sanitarium. She is a woman whose heart the Lord molds, and her work is genuinely good. Dr. Loper is here also. He has a kind, sympathetic spirit, with tenderness of soul, and humility of mind. O what a change has been wrought in the Sanitarium. The fragrance of a heavenly influence pervades the building. Good is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 32

I am with you heart and soul, Brother and Sister Irwin. We desire to co-operate with you most heartily. The Lord says to His self-sacrificing workers, “Be strong, yea, be strong.” [Daniel 10:19.] Be of good courage. The Lord is with you in your work. Not merely men, but angels are working. Move steadily forward. I have written as I have in this letter because I wish you to realize what God has done and will do. Walk humbly with Him. The Lord will be with you at every step if you will be with Him. Do all you do with an eye single to the glory of God. Every man and every woman is bound up and sealed with Christ. This seal they can break by their own course of action, but what a loss they will sustain in doing this. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 33

We are all standing on holy ground. Christ will work with you if you will work with Him. Understand, my dear brother and sister, that you are very dear to me. So are Brother and Sister Kress. I will write to them in the next mail. I fear I cannot in this mail; for I have had many other matters to write, which have tried my soul. The intensity I have felt as I have written these things can never be expressed. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 34

I will write no more now, for I have other letters to write to Australia. May the God of all grace be with you. Do your best, and God will expect no more. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 35

In much love, 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 36

Your sister. 17LtMs, Lt 113, 1902, par. 37