Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Pressing on with the Writing

The task of writing was ever with Ellen White. She described her work in a letter to S. N. Haskell and his wife, written in May: 4BIO 36.7

I send in this mail sixty pages of letter paper written by my own hand. First, my hair-cloth chair is bolstered up with pillows, then they have a frame, a box batted with pillows which I rest my limbs upon, and a rubber pillow under them. My table is drawn up closer to me and I thus write with my paper on a cardboard in my lap. Yesterday I was enabled to sit two hours thus arranged. My hips will become so painful, then I must change position. She [May Walling] then gets me on the spring bed and bolsters me up with pillows. I may be able to sit some over one hour, and thus it is a change, but I am thankful I can write at all. I have done nothing scarcely on the life of Christ. I am burdened with other matters, so it is all that I can do to keep the mails supplied. I have hoped my arms would be restored, but they are still very painful. I write to you that I wish to have these copied, for if I should wait to have them copied, you would get but very little. I promised articles for the Instructor, articles for the Signs, Sabbath School Worker. Missionary papers and the Echo do not trouble me, for they take from other papers; but the will of God be done.—Letter 16c, 1892. 4BIO 37.1

In early July, as she wrote to Dr. J. H. Kellogg in Battle Creek, she mentioned again the conditions under which she worked: 4BIO 37.2

Every mail has taken from one to two hundred pages from my hand, and most of it has been written either as I am now propped up on the bed by pillows, half lying, or half sitting, or bolstered up sitting in an uncomfortable chair. It is very painful to my hip and to the lower part of my spine to sit up. If such easy chairs were to be found in this country as you have at the Sanitarium, one would be readily purchased by me, if it cost $30; but furniture of that style is not manufactured here. All furniture is transported from England, and Boston, Massachusetts. A good, large, roomy chair with soft springs is not obtainable. 4BIO 37.3

It is with great weariness that I can sit erect and hold up my head. I must rest it against the back of the chair on the pillows, half reclining.... I am not at all discouraged. I feel that I am sustained daily.... I enjoy sweet communion with God.—Letter 18a, 1892. 4BIO 37.4

Occasionally she noted in her diary just what she was sending off in the American mail. On June 12 she wrote: 4BIO 37.5

Articles written: missionary work, 15 pages letter paper. A. T. Robinson, 13 pages. Sustaining the Cause, letter to Elder Smith, 24 pages; Elder Haskell, 16 pages; Sister Ings, 5 pages; Brother Lockwood, 5 pages; Sara McEnterfer, 2 pages; Ella May and Mable White, 4 pages. Large document to C. H. Jones in regard to publishing and health institutions. J. E. White, 12 pages. Sent Brother Wessels 5 letter pages, to Elder E. J. Waggoner to London; to Elder Washburn, England, 1 page.—Manuscript 33, 1892. 4BIO 38.1

Back of many of these letters were visions in which situations were opened up to Ellen White. After one very restless night she wrote a twelve-page letter to Dr. Kellogg, concerning which she noted: 4BIO 38.2

I am instructed to caution him to move guardedly, else he will surely lose his bearings. There are many perplexing questions coming up for decision, and he will need great wisdom in order to keep the way of the Lord.... He needs a humble, contrite heart, and he needs to walk in constant dependence upon God.—Manuscript 34, 1892. 4BIO 38.3

Sometimes it seemed that the correspondence was a bit one-sided, more going out than coming in. She wrote to S. N. Haskell: 4BIO 38.4

The coming of the mail is a great event with us.... We were so glad to hear from the other side of the broad waters. If our friends only knew how precious are words from them, I think we should receive more communications. But it is a little amusing that nearly all our correspondents assume that others have written all particulars. I thank you for your full letters and that you do not disappoint my expectations.—Letter 10, 1892. 4BIO 38.5

Day after day and week after week the situation was without much change—long winter nights of intense suffering and broken sleep, then days in poorly heated rooms trying to write. Every day it was a battle to keep up courage. Again and again she reviewed in her mind the matter of the invitation from the General Conference for her to go to Australia and of the various events of the past year, in America and Australia. On some days it seemed to her to be certain that it was God's will that she was in Australia; at other times she felt her coming might have been a mistake. 4BIO 38.6

On July 5, in her letter to Dr. Kellogg, she mentioned her feelings and attitudes: 4BIO 39.1

When I first found myself in a state of helplessness, I deeply regretted having crossed the broad waters. Why was I not in America? Why, at such expense, was I in this country? Time and again I could have buried my face in the bed quilts and had a good cry. But I did not long indulge in the luxury of tears. I said to myself, “Ellen G. White, what do you mean? Have you not come to Australia because you felt that it was your duty to go where the conference judged it best for you to go? Has not this been your practice?” I said, “Yes.” “Then why do you feel almost forsaken, and discouraged? Is not this the enemy's work?” I said, “I believe it is.” I dried my tears as quickly as possible and said, “It is enough; I will not look on the dark side anymore. Live or die, I commit the keeping of my soul to Him who died for me.” 4BIO 39.2

I then believed that the Lord would do all things well, and during this eight months of helplessness, I have not had any despondency or doubt. 4BIO 39.3

I now look at this matter as a part of the Lord's great plan, for the good of His people here in this country, and for those in America, and for my good. I cannot explain why or how, but I believe it. And I am happy in my affliction; I can trust my heavenly Father. I will not doubt His love. I have an ever-watchful guardian day and night, and I will praise the Lord, for His praise is upon my lips because it comes from a heart full of gratitude.—Letter 18a, 1892. 4BIO 39.4