Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)

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Chapter 6—(1877-1878) Priority One—James White's Health

One Sunday evening, October 14, James and Ellen White arrived in Oakland. A little note in the October 18, Signs stated that “Elder White is in poor health, “but had endured the journey well. 3BIO 72.1

Sabbath, the Whites met with the church at Oakland; Ellen White spoke again Sunday evening. 3BIO 72.2

For the readers of the Review and Herald, James White submitted this note: 3BIO 72.3

We are very happy to find ourselves again in beautiful Oakland, with improving health. Mrs. White is very well, and labors with more power and the blessing of God than ever before. We meet the friends in this our former field of labor with great pleasure. The work in the Pacific Coast States and Territories is great and moves forward gloriously.... Truth triumphs in this field. God is with His people.—Ibid., November 1, 1877 3BIO 72.4

After the weekend meetings in Oakland they were off, accompanied by Mary Clough, for a tour among the churches to the north in the Sonoma and Russian River valleys—in this case, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and Healdsburg. They were back again to meet with the Oakland church the first weekend in November (The Signs of the Times, November 1, 1877). The reports of their work frequently mentioned that James White's health was steadily improving (The Review and Herald, November 8, 1877). Actually the recovery was very slow, and a pattern of labor was being established that was reflected in his report of the second weekend spent in Oakland in early November: 3BIO 72.5

Mrs. White and the writer met with the church at Oakland in their house of worship, Sabbath, November 3. We opened the meeting and spoke quite fully upon the progress of the cause. Mrs. White followed with a stirring discourse for one hour. A social meeting followed. 3BIO 73.1

First-day evening Mrs. White addressed a good congregation who would not be deterred from coming out in the heavy rain.—The Signs of the Times, November 8, 1877. 3BIO 73.2

The change of scene and the milder climate of California was no quick remedy. On October 26, after writing of his slow recovery in a letter to Willie and Mary at Battle Creek, Ellen White stated her position: 3BIO 73.3

I will not be impatient. I will hope and trust and pray. We shall see the salvation of God. We have some sweet refreshing seasons from the presence of the Lord. I will not let clouds shadow my mind. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Not one murmur shall escape my lips or linger about my soul.—Letter 28, 1877. 3BIO 73.4

Plans announced by James White for the winter's work had to be modified—the struggle to regain his overdrawn account in physical resources was long and tedious. Ellen White soon found that his care called for her to even curtail her plans for writing. Soon after their arrival in the West, she told the story in a brief letter to William and Mary in Battle Creek: 3BIO 73.5

Dear Children,

I am tired tonight. I have been trying to get a piece for the [Health] Reformer. It is hard to write much, for Father is so lonesome I have to ride out with him and devote considerable time to keep him company. Father is quite cheerful but talks but little. We have some very precious seasons of prayer. We believe that God will raise him to health. We are of good courage.—Letter 25, 1877. 3BIO 73.6

The modified work program James White was forced to accept, while limiting him in filling speaking engagements, did allow him to do some writing. Even that was limited as it seemed to him, but quite expansive as we review it today. To him the Signs of the Times was a very dear and cherished child. Through 1877 its editorial masthead carried three names: James White, J. N. Andrews, and Uriah Smith. Smith resided in Battle Creek, Andrews in Switzerland, and White divided his time between the West and the East. The rather vital position of managing editor was in the early part of 1877 filled by Mary K. White, Willie's wife, followed by the versatile and talented Lucinda Hall. 3BIO 73.7

Mrs. Hall did so well that James White, shortly after the return to California, wrote commendably: 3BIO 74.1

She is an editor. Writers are plenty, while good editors are scarce. It is in preparing, selecting, and arranging the thoughts of others that editorial talent appears.—The Review and Herald, January 31, 1878. 3BIO 74.2

Making the Signs his prime task, White immediately began furnishing editorials and articles for almost every issue. He described his plans for the new volume of the Signs, soon to begin: 3BIO 74.3

Besides valuable matter such as appeared in volume three, the next volume will contain chapters on the life incidents of the writer, also those remarkable events in the life and experience of Mrs. White, which will reach quite through the volume.—The Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877. 3BIO 74.4

He wrote of the excellent circulation during 1877, standing at an average of eight thousand copies per issue, and of the physical appearance of the paper, “far in advance of papers of its kind”—the Signs being printed on a good white sheet, from “types...nearly new, and press work good” (Ibid.). 3BIO 74.5

Edson, now business manager of the Pacific Press, and his wife, Emma, lived close to the publishing house in a new cottage that they owned. “He does well in the office,” Ellen White wrote, and added, “We hope he will have the help of God in all he does.”—Letter 26, 1877. The little nieces, Addie and May Walling, for whom James and Ellen White had the care, were in Battle Creek with Willie and Mary. Addie was now 11, and May, 8. “I miss the little girls very much,” Ellen White wrote on October 21, “but I believe that they are in the right place. May God bless them.”—Letter 27, 1877. 3BIO 74.6