Greetings MOL Family!
Last week, we were learning some of the principles of homeheading, directly from the home of Elder & Sis. White. Now, let’s take a look at Australia. This is in the 1890s. Sister White would have been 70 years old in 1897. So this is just a few years before that, in her late 60’s…
Experiences of Homeheading
The lady that’s writing this particular article, found in “The Youth’s Instructor”, March 16, 1948, is Ella Robinson. Sister Ella Robinson is Sister White’s oldest grandchild, the oldest daughter of Elder W. C. White. She’s writing this, reminiscences of her grandmother:
“After a voyage of nearly four weeks we steamed into beautiful Sidney harbor one bright morning in early April. At the wharf we were met by Miss Emily Campbell, a little lady dressed in gray with a gray handbag which she waved to the two little girls wearing navy blue suits and sailor caps.” – The Youth’s Instructor, March 16, 1948
(That’s Ella and her younger sister.)
“We were glad to see Miss Marian Davis again, grandma’s true and tried literary helper.
“A thirteen mile drive behind a pair of spirited horses brought us to grandma’s home, a rented house in Grandville, one of Sidney’s suburbs. It was just dinnertime when we arrived. The large dining table, which when extended to full capacity could seat eighteen or twenty persons, was greatly reduced in size on the day of our arrival. Mother and father and grandma and Miss Maggie Hare were all away on an evangelistic tour in South Australia and Tasmania.
“Miss Campbell introduced to us a young boy of about fifteen known as Willie and later we learned his story.” – Ibid
Now get this little pen sketch of one person that was there that day in Sister White’s home:
“He was the eldest of a family of nine children whose parents had recently accepted the Sabbath message. They had been caught in the depression and were having a hard time. Their distressed condition was brought to grandma’s attention. She immediately went to her grocer, purchased fifty dollars worth of provisions and took them to the family.” – Ibid
I wonder how much $50.00 then would be now. Several hundred, wouldn’t it?
“While visiting and praying with them she noticed Willie and asked him to come and be one of her helpers. He was to care for the garden, look after the horse and hens, and do other chores. So Willie became the mainstay of his family until his father found regular employment.” – Ibid
You notice how she thought of a way to help that family beside the immediate help? She thought of a way to help them to involve somebody in that family. That takes more head work than merely handing out money or clothes, doesn’t it?
“At the head of the table sat a man of about thirty-five years of age who acted as host. He was pleasant, and we children enjoyed his company. It was not until years later that we heard his story.” – Ibid
Now this is a fascinating thing:
“He had been a very earnest member of one of our churches in America, but had become discouraged. About this time he attended a conference in Battle Creek where he met a man by the name of Stanton who had written, and was circulating, a tract in which he set forth new light which he felt had been given him for the church.” – Ibid
This new light was that the Seventh-day Adventist church had become Babylon and that the loud cry was to come out of it, but he quoted a lot of Sister White’s writing.
“And so this man [Mr. Stanton, that had these publications] was looking for someone to carry his message to Australia, and this man volunteered to do so.
“To his mind the errand seemed so urgent that he did not take time to even go home and bid his wife and children good-by, but took passage immediately for Australia.” – Ibid
Here you might wonder how he was sitting at the head of Sister White’s table.
“The new members who were there in the ardor of their first love met him with questioning. Then too he soon learned that grandmother had written to Mr. Stanton pointing out that his message was not inspired of God. When the missionary to Australia found that the people did not care to listen to his message, and that the Lord had pointed out through Sister White that Mr. Stanton was all wrong, he lost faith in his own mission.” – Ibid
Elder G. B. Starr, who was present on these occasions said that this man, having come in from America, came there to where they were, and he was invited courteously to eat with them or have worship with them. So at what he thought was the appropriate time he stood up and said, “I have a message to give you. I saw that we are all to go back to America,” and went he went on with different things.
Presently Sister White said, “No brother. The Lord has sent us over here to Australia to do this work, and we’re going to do it. We’re not going back to America at this time.” And she said, “We all have our duties here in the home, so we’ll be busy with them, and I’ll leave you with Brother Starr.” And Elder Starr wondered just what he ought to do with that man on his hands…
I bring you some of these experiences to show that the Lord didn’t just sort out all people and give them to Sister White because she was the prophet, easy to get along with people, you understand. She had problems just like you and I do.
So there was Brother Starr. Sister White and her helpers were all busy with their various things: some doing their secretarial work, and some looking after the cooking and housework. So the man was sort of stunned by all this and finally he began to come out of his daze a bit, and he and Brother Starr engaged in a bit of conversation.
He said, “You know, Brother Starr, I don’t know what to make of this. I thought sure that everybody would listen to this and that we’d all just get right into the loud cry. I don’t know what to think.”
Brother Starr said to him, “Well, now brother, let me ask you a question. I noticed that several times you said, “I saw,” “I saw that we should do this or that.”
You know the prophets in the Bible, Daniel said, “I saw visions” and Ezekiel said, “I saw visions” Sister White saw visions. Now Brother, tell me, did you really see this, or do you mean that you were impressed?” “Well,” he said, “I guess I was just impressed.”
Now, my point is, Sister White didn’t kick him out. She took that fellow in, befriended him, and made a home for him until he could get his mind straighten and then go on back to America to his family. Isn’t that tremendous? Oh, I think this is wonderful, folks.
“Grandma learned of his confusion and bewilderment, and suggested that he attend the new Bible school she had helped to start in Melbourne. After he had found his bearings and had a better understand of the third angel’s message and work, she invited him to come to her home and help in the work God had given her to do. At the time of our arrival he was acting as bookkeeper and copyist. After a year or two, spent largely in reading, copying, and filing the precious documents that came from her pen, this man returned to America and ever remained a faithful member of the Seventh-day Adventist church.” – Ibid
That’s a salvage operation, isn’t it? And that’s one of our jobs in our homes, folks. This plan we’re studying is far broader than merely taking some students the committee suggests we take in our home for a period. There’re all kinds of people, young and old, rich and poor, sick and well, ignorant and educated, that need to be exposed for a longer or shorter period to a true Christian home. There aren’t very many around.
Accept the Assignment of Providence
Sister Robinson continuing:
“This experience which I have told in some detail illustrates grandma’s favorite method of dealing with confused minds. She believed in giving them constructive work to do while sympathetically and patiently restoring them to usefulness.” – Ibid
I don’t know that the term occupational therapy had been coined then, but that’s what it would be called today, wouldn’t it. But she didn’t have to have a professionally trained occupational therapist to do it.
“While we helped Annie, the cook, wash the dishes, she told us her story.” – Ibid
Now this is the cook in Sister White’s home in Australia.
“She had recently begun keeping the Sabbath, and as the result had been cast off by friends and relatives alike. – Ibid
What did we read in Isaiah 58, “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” Well, here was a woman who had been cast out of her house because of accepting the Sabbath. Is that what we saw, in our previous lesson, happen in the early church? Many of those early believers were cast out for accepting Jesus, and the other believers made homes for them. So that’s what Sister White was doing with Annie. Now, notice how she did it:
‘Annie, would you be willing to come and do the cooking for my large family?’ grandma asked her. ‘That will be real missionary work, and as important a part as that performed by any of my secretaries’. – Ibid
Do you notice the difference in that approach to saying, “Poor Annie, you’re having a hard time. I’ve a room over here. Come and sit down there and twiddle your thumbs and we’ll feed you.” No. She invited the young woman to come and do what? Help. To have a part, participate.
“Annie knew little about cooking, but she was willing and cheerful and soon learned.” – Ibid
Now if you’ll look in Counsels on Diet and Foods, you’ll see times when Sister White was lamenting because she didn’t have a good cook. Why didn’t the Lord always let her have a good cook? Maybe there weren’t enough to go around. But the Lord let the prophet have experiences in ordinary life just like He let Jesus have experiences in meeting hardships and problems. Here are some more people in this home:
“Edith and Nettie were agreeable playmates.” – Ibid
That is playmates to Ella and her sister Mabel.
“One day Mrs. Hamilton, Nettie’s mother, told us how they came to be living in grandma’s family. Her home in Scotland had been broken up by the sudden death of her husband, and seeking to forget her sorrow in a new environment, she took Nettie, the younger of her two daughters, and sailed for Australia, leaving her sister to bring the older daughter as soon as she could establish herself in the millinery trade in Sidney. The steamer on which her sister and older daughter later sailed was lost at sea, and Mrs. Hamilton and Nettie were left alone in a strange land at a time of financial depression. The message of Jesus soon coming found them and brought cheer to their hearts. Without regard to difficulties, they took their stand to obey all the commandments of God.
“Having learned her sad story, grandma arranged a private interview. ‘I invite you and Nettie to become members of our household,’ she said. ‘You can be of great assistance to me. My large family of office workers have little time for sewing. We need a seamstress. My two granddaughters will soon arrive from America. This will make four little girls in the home, and you may act as governess to them.’ For several hours each week, while members of grandma’s family, we received lessons in dressmaking from Mrs. Hamilton.” – Ibid
Now, isn’t that something? Apparently Sister White had learned through long years of training under Jesus, the Master Teacher, to accept the assignment of Providence, to recognize in circumstances the signals of the divine will. So that instead of lamenting problems, she accepted them and used them as tools with which to work.
And as I sometimes say, does it make a difference which end of the hoe you pick up? Yes, oh so many people, even if they see the hoe and pick it up, insist on picking it up with the sharp end. And they do not cut many weeds. They just hurt themselves. Every problem that we come in contact with may be a tool that God wants us to use to get something done. That’s what Sister White was doing with these various people.
Now this other girl, Edith:
“Edith’s mother had recently died, and her father was trying to make his way and provide for his son and daughter by selling our message filled books. Colporteuring was not as profitable an enterprise then as it is today, and Mr. Ward was having a discouraging time.
“On hearing of his perplexity, grandma invited him to let Edith come and be her little girl for awhile. A few months afterward she took Edith’s older brother, Earnest, and cared for the two until they were able to make their own way.” – Ibid
Well, those are little glimpses, dear ones, of Sister White’s experience in various phases of what you and I call homeheading. I don’t know that she ever called it that. She was just doing what she wanted all our people, not just in institutional work, but everywhere to do.
Do you remember what we read before in Ministry of Healing?
Wonderful possibilities are ours through a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. – Ministry of Healing, pg. 355
And thank God, she was a demonstration of what she taught. Let me emphasize that Sister White’s purpose in these examples and my purpose in sharing them with you, neither one are to suggest that everybody is capable of doing or is required to do all that she did. In fact, I don’t know anybody that could do all she did, aside from being a prophet. Do you? It’s phenomenal.
But I know this, dear friends. If you and I will be willing to bring our little barley loaves to Jesus and ask Him to bless them, He will multiply them in the using. And each one of us has a potential that only Heaven sees:
The humblest worker, moved by the Holy Spirit, will touch invisible chords, whose vibrations will ring to the ends of the earth, and make melody through eternal ages. – Desire of Ages, pg. 822
Next week, we’ll continue on with our class rotation. Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then… Maranatha!
Did you know that we have more online classes available (and posted daily)?
- Country Living
- Courtship & Marriage
- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
- Army of Youth
- The School of Health
- Other Present Truth Studies
*This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.