Lt 63, 1899

1899

Lt 63, 1899

Wessels, Brother and Sister [John]

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

April 4, 1899

Portions of this letter are published in UL 108; PM 28; 11MR 93-95. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister John Wessels:

We were thankful to receive your letter at last. It seems a long time before we get returns from Africa. My dear brother, I shall be glad to write just as definitely as I can. I thought I had done this in my former letter. I then presented the situation as plainly and frankly as I could do, and I am unable to write you anything more definite than was said in my letter which stated the particulars to you. Lt63-1899.1

The Lord does not give light in such a way as to leave the one addressed no chance to walk by faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1.] There is not a straight line marked out for any one of us. We need to pray and believe and watch unto prayer, ever praying and trusting. My brother, you must seek the Lord in order to know your duty. Lt63-1899.2

We thought we should be unable to select a place on which to build a sanitarium, but we are going to see if it is not possible to arise and build. I have directed that everything I have in America be sold. The proceeds will be but little, but the Lord can work. He is teaching us that we are not to wait for wind or tide. “Go forward” [Exodus 14:15] is the word, and in the past we have obeyed. A meetinghouse has been built in Stanmore to accommodate the believers in Sydney, Stanmore, and the suburbs that are around Stanmore. Lt63-1899.3

In Brisbane a church has been erected, and fifty Sabbathkeepers assemble there. This church was dedicated last Sunday. Thus far the rain has held off. Elder Haskell wrote me that no rain had fallen while the church was being built. But yesterday, Monday, the rain commenced falling in soft showers. It has continued to fall all through the day today, and the wind has blown quite severely. We seldom have high winds in Cooranbong. Lt63-1899.4

Brother Tenney is now working with Brother Haskell, who has had much to do. Since Brother Wilson died, he has been alone in the work there. Lt63-1899.5

The work in Newcastle is still encouraging. A meetinghouse must be built in Hamilton without delay. After a long drought the winter rains have set in. If the outsiders will do as well as they did in Brisbane, the church can be built. We hope and pray that it may be built as soon as possible, because it is so much needed. The building will be put up as economically as possible. It will be without any fancy or ornamental work, but will be neat and substantial. Lt63-1899.6

The spot we have selected for the hospital here will soon be cleared. Last Monday the students were to make a bee to work on this ground, and were to have eaten their dinner under the trees. This would have been quite a picnic for them; but the rain came, and little work was done. The foundation of the hospital will soon be laid, and we shall advance just as fast as the providence of God opens the way. Lt63-1899.7

Our largest school building is now finished. It is plain, very plain, without any artificial ornamentation. We feel that it would be a great mistake to expend one shilling unnecessarily, for the fields are all white unto the harvest. We have received a loan of £100 from Elder Loughborough for the hospital. In the work on this building, we shall obtain all the donations possible. Those who have no money will give a donation of labor. Among those not of our faith there seems to be a willingness and eagerness to do what they can. Sara McEnterfer, my secretary, has been physician and nurse to those nigh and afar off. This has made them willing to do anything for us. Lt63-1899.8

This building is much needed. Sister McEnterfer has been just called away, at one o’clock at night, in the greatest storm we have had since we came to Cooranbong. I have not seen her since last evening. A sweet little child is very ill, and we fear dying. There are five children in the family, which was once in good circumstances. The father, Brother Pocock, is a coachmaker by trade, and he is also a carpenter, but unfortunately he was thrown out of work, and observing the Sabbath has kept him out of work. In appearance he is a refined gentleman, but for several years has been living with his family in a house on the side of a mountain, two miles from the nearest neighbor. He had to carry the material of which his house is built up the mountain on his back. The land is covered with rocks, so that it cannot be cultivated. Lt63-1899.9

We knew that Brother Pocock was out of work, and we sent for him to come and paint on the school building. He came a week ago last Sunday, but when we learned from Brother and Sister Starr the situation of his family, their deep poverty and their lack of nourishing food, we advised him to return and bring his family to Cooranbong. Lt63-1899.10

Brother Pocock has been the means of bringing three families into the truth. Brother Starr was sent to baptize these people, and by this means we learned of Brother Pocock’s necessity. We borrowed money, and loaned it to him to enable him to bring his family up, and told him to let his shanty go. Come he must. He arrived yesterday. We had secured for them a house of two small rooms from Mr. Hughes, who said that he would charge them no rent. They are now situated where they will be comfortable. We will not see them want. Lt63-1899.11

All were glad to get here, but two of the children were sick, the youngest, a baby in its mother’s arms, and a four-year-old boy. The whole family had to walk three miles on a very hot day in order to reach the cars, and we think this boy was sunstruck. We settled them in their house yesterday, and until evening Sara gave the sick child treatment. She was called up again in the night to go to see him, and I have not seen her since. We fear the child will not live. But I am glad they are not in that terrible place among the rocks in this fearful storm. Lt63-1899.12

Brother and Sister Pocock have nothing. For three years we have supplied them with clothing. They have bought nothing, they say, for they had no money. We shall now do our best to get them a little home on the school ground, and will help them by giving him work. He has two good trades at his command and will be able to amply support his family. Their experience has indeed been trying, but they have never murmured, never complained. If they had told us anything of their situation, we should have urged them [to] leave that place three years ago. Lt63-1899.13

Willie says that I am to tell Brother Harmon Lindsay and his wife and Mother Wessels that the school land is not to be sold for farms. A few acres only will be used as homes for such families as Brother Pocock’s, who are the excellent of the earth. Lt63-1899.14

Brother Lord was a signalman on the railway line at Newcastle, at the most important point. But he embraced the truth at our camp meeting and lost his situation. He has a family of eight sons and one daughter. The two elder children are married and have accepted the Sabbath. There are fourteen in all, including the married children and their families. They could get nothing to do in Newcastle, and have come to Cooranbong. We are trying to get Brother Lord a piece of ground, that he may set his boys at work. We have been giving some of these boys work, and they eat at our table. The eldest is twenty years of age, but looks only sixteen, as he is very small. Lt63-1899.15

A letter has just been handed me, brought by Brother Lord’s son, containing a pass on the railway to and from Sydney, and asking Brother Lord to come to Sydney and meet with the railway commissioners. We hope they will regard his case favorably and give him his position again. This is the second time they have sent for him. He had been in the same position for twenty years, a faithful and true workman. Not an accident that happened in his line of work. But his employers said that if they gave him the Sabbath, other men in their employ would want to keep the Saturday Sabbath, and this would cause trouble. Lt63-1899.16

Brother Lord was sent for the first time two weeks ago. His employers thought he would look at his large family, and come to their terms by giving up the Sabbath. But he said that he could not do this, for it would displease God. He asked them to give him a pension because of his long years of service, but they refused him this. Whether they have sent for him now to give him a pension or to give him his place again, we know not. He will never, I am sure, give up the Sabbath in order to get work. Our farmer took him to the station yesterday in the pouring rain. We must hope and pray in his behalf. We have supplied them some money and some food since they came here. We have supplied the boys £2 for their work. As signalman Brother Lord received three pounds seventeen shillings a week, and it is quite a change for them to have nothing coming in. Lt63-1899.17

This is the fourth large family that has been accommodated with land. Brother Worsnop has paid for his home, and is doing well on his five acres of land. On the opposite side of the road Brother Robb has built a house of iron, until he can earn enough to build a better. Further on lives Brother Thomson, who has ten children, seven boys, and three girls. The father and two eldest sons get work on the school buildings. They are all three carpenters. We were desirous to save these grown up children and the younger ones. I gave Brother Thomson a start by purchasing land and putting him on it. If I had been obliged to raise the cash, I could not have done this, but the school has my money, so I took the land in payment, and put the family on it. They built a house of bark and iron, and pitched a tent. Lt63-1899.18

The boys have worked splendidly. They have planted a good garden, and have almost lived off it. They had cows and therefore found it easier to get along. We let them have a horse, to be paid for when they could. Thus we have tried to help them. One of the members of my family loaned Brother Thomson £5, that he might bring his family here. Before this he brought up a boy of twelve, who had injured his knee, and was obliged to walk on crutches. We decided that he must be helped. Sara gave him treatment, and we kept him with us for six months. His knee improved so much that he went home. But he is very active, and it began to trouble him again. We bought him back to our house, and Sara gave him treatment. His knee is now almost well, but he is still a member of our family. I think this boy would have lost his leg had we not done this for him. Lt63-1899.19

We find no lack of medical missionary work right among us. There is a Sister Patrick, who has two smart little lads, one eight years old, and the other ten. She moved to Cooranbong that she might put her children in school. These boys work like little men helping their mother. She has only twelve shillings a week coming in, and what more she needs for the maintenance of her family, she earns by washing, dressmaking, and taking care of the church. This sister came from Queensland, where she had a nice little home before she accepted the truth. But the house took fire, and her husband, in trying to save it, injured himself, and lost his life. In one week she lost husband and home. Lt63-1899.20

We are gathering in many poor families, and many more mean to come. We dare not hold out our hand to deter them. They come here that they may save their children from the associations of the city. We are helping all these families to help themselves, to get homes where they will not have to pay rent, and where they can raise from the ground much that they need. We really have a medical missionary station right here. We cannot give them money, for we have none to give, but we thank the Lord for the privilege of doing something for the needy ones, as we know Christ would do were He here. We shall give them clothing as we can spare it, but in a short time they will be able to help themselves, for we shall employ them to do our work, instead of giving it to unbelievers. Lt63-1899.21

A number of persons have accepted the Sabbath since we came here, and several more, we are sure, will keep it. Many are searching for the truth as for hidden treasure. Lt63-1899.22

Never have I been more sure of anything, in any move we have made, than that the Lord’s hand was in the selection of this land. We must now advance with the opening providence of God, and erect our hospital. We must have a sanitarium built nearer Sydney, but not in the city. Hawkesbury is the place we are contemplating for its location. We do not propose to have an immense institution, but a plain, suitable building in some such place as Hawkesbury. Then we can have branches established in Sydney, Newcastle, and other places. This is the way the Lord would have us do. He does not design that we shall erect a colony of buildings in one center, as has been done in Battle Creek. Our work is to extend over a large territory. Lt63-1899.23

We must move forward slowly, surely, solidly. We are binding about the edges of everything. Economize we must, for it is our only way. The sanitarium in Sydney has been waiting to hear from you, but because of the way in which you have stated matters, we cannot say, Come, until you feel it your duty to come. When you can feel it your duty to loose yourself from Africa, we shall be prepared to receive you. The Lord is willing to hear our petitions, and we shall let Him work in His own way. We do not mean to wait for you or any one, if Providence opens the way for us to secure a site for our sanitarium, though as yet we have no means. Lt63-1899.24

You say Dr. Kellogg writes that if I should authorize him to raise $5,000 he would do it. He wrote me that he could raise $5,000 besides the first $5,000, and why do I not say, Do this? I am not permitted to tell any man what he shall or what he shall not do. I lay out our situation as the Lord has directed me to do, but I have no liberty to go farther. I wrote Dr. Kellogg a letter, a copy of which I will send you if I have one, in which I asked him why he, who was centering everything in America, and could obtain large trusts and the use of large means, did not use the intellect God had given him to understand how the work should be done in Australia? Lt63-1899.25

Could he not see that the same process must be gone through again as when my husband and I started the work in Battle Creek, when we decided to take from the office only four dollars a week for our labor, and afterwards only six, until the cause of God could be established in Battle Creek, and the printing office built, and the hand press and other crude material placed in it for the work? Did we not know what it meant to work hard and press all our necessities into as small a compass as possible, while we advanced step by step on a sure basis, dreading debt as we dreaded some terrible, contagious disease? We went over the same ground in California, selling all our goods to start a printing press on the Pacific Coast. We knew that every foot of ground over which we travelled to establish work would be at great sacrifice to our own financial interests. Lt63-1899.26

We have had to do the same work in this country. We have had no large donations, excepting from your mother’s family. What we should have done without this help, we do not know; but you may all thank God that you have put out your money to usury, for it is doubling itself in churches raised up, in meetinghouses built. Philip has one hundred pounds in the school, and this is accumulating. Peter, and other brethren in Africa, whose names I do not now remember, have means invested in the work. Elder Haskell has sent his surplus means, until I am in debt to him £500. Lt63-1899.27

I shall never say to Dr. Kellogg, Go ahead, gather money from the churches, under my authority. This is not the way I do the Lord’s work. Our physicians came from Battle Creek barehanded, and in debt for their education, and no buildings could be erected for a sanitarium. There were no means to pay the workers in the field. We could not heed the Macedonian cry. How could the work grow? How could churches be organized? I saw it all, and in the night season I was instructed to call upon Sister Wessels, and ask for the loan of a thousand pounds. She responded to this call. You, her children, I believe, advised her to do this. I thank you all for this help. Lt63-1899.28

Again I was directed to call for help, and from Brother Lindsay and Sister Wessels came two hundred pounds, at a time when it told with tremendous effect. We felt that we must build a meetinghouse, but on every side was heard, “You cannot do it; you cannot build a chapel here in Cooranbong.” I had talked with Brother Daniells about the matter, and he said that we might put up a shell and get into it, finishing it at some future time. We decided that though we could get no help from the conference, we would do our best. In the night season a voice addressed me, saying, “Arise and build Me a house, where I can meet with those who worship Me. Arise and build without delay.” I said, “We will, Lord.” The next day in the mail from Africa, the two hundred pounds reached us. If you had known how much was at stake, you would have done just as you did. Lt63-1899.29

We carried forward the work, thanking the Lord God of Israel. God honored our faith and prospered His work. At that time there were in Cooranbong several experienced carpenters who were out of work. These nearly all agreed to work for six shillings per day, and gave half of their work as a donation. I do not think there has been a time since when we could have obtained workers at reduced wages or even at full pay. Our church was neatly and tastefully finished, and was dedicated without debt. It will seat four hundred people when the wings are used, and now we begin to feel that before many months we shall have to have these wings enlarged. I do not believe there was ever a church built more under the supervision of God than this chapel. The Lord’s name has been glorified. Lt63-1899.30

Now, my brother, I have given you a rough sketch of the matter. I want to tell you that the Lord does not bid me give you such definite particulars, so that you would move on my light and have no personal experience. If you are specially moved to go to England and begin the work, go there. Lt63-1899.31

I want you to be just where the Lord would have you, be it in England or Australia. This matter I shall leave for you to settle. You must bear the responsibility of your actions. However much we stand in need of means, I shall not say to Dr. Kellogg, Gather all you can for us now, for we want a sanitarium, and should have had it long ago. That is not the Lord’s way of working. I say that which I have to say, and no more. I will not say to you, I know it is your duty to come to Australia. If you ask wisdom of God, He will tell you what to do and will guide you in judgment. I have a special interest in your mother’s family, as though the Lord had linked them with me. Lt63-1899.32