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Manuscript Releases, vol. 16 [Nos. 1186-1235]

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    MR No. 1206—Selection of the School Land at Cooranbong

    We are very grateful to our God that the land that has been cleared and cultivated in the school ground has produced such excellent fruit and vegetables. Our hearts have been made sad by the false witness which has been borne. This has not helped us to battle with the discouragements which we were compelled to wrestle with. When every voice and pen should have been engaged in encouraging us and lifting up our hands, reports that were false were sent to our friends in Africa, placing in a wrong light the efforts made by those who were struggling to clear and break the land preparatory to setting in the trees.16MR 152.1

    This work has cost money, and the lack of means to advance the cause of God has been sorely felt; but it was those who invested nothing in the trial, but who were paid for all the labor which they did, who carried unfavorable reports wherever they went, of mismanagement, miscalculation, and unwise investment of means. This is a great enterprise. Before we came upon the land a man from America was requested to come and act as manager of the financial part of the work; but for some reason he did not come, and we had to do the best we could.16MR 152.2

    How much easier it is to criticize and pick flaws and tell what should be done, than to unselfishly lay hold of the work and devote to it our capabilities and talents. One who had means, and who could have helped us when everything went hard, refused to work because we could not afford to pay him the wages he asked. Men who were coach-builders by trade, and who had large families to support, worked for less than one dollar per day. while the brother who had come, as we supposed, as a missionary, did nothing. For three months he sat on the enemy's stool of indolence because he could not have the wages he desired, and the enemy kept him busy watching and criticizing, talking of his great knowledge and of the value of his work, while others did everything in their power to follow the light God had given, giving of their time and means to push the work and make it a success.16MR 152.3

    Before I visited Cooranbong, the Lord gave me a dream. In my dream I was taken to the land that was for sale in Cooranbong. Several of our brethren had been solicited to visit the land, and I dreamed that I was walking upon the ground. I came to a neat-cut furrow that had been plowed one quarter of a yard deep and two yards in length. Two of the brethren who had been acquainted with the rich soil of Iowa were standing before this furrow and saying, “This is not good land; the soil is not favorable.” But One who has often spoken in counsel was present also, and He said, “False witness has been borne of this land.” Then He described the properties of the different layers of earth. He explained the science of the soil, and said that this land was adapted to the growth of fruit and vegetables, and that if well worked it would produce its treasures for the benefit of man. This dream I related to Brother and Sister Starr and my family.16MR 153.1

    The next day we were on the cars, on our way to meet others who were investigating the land; and as I was afterward walking on the ground where the trees had been removed, lo, there was a furrow just as I had described it, and the men also who had criticized the appearance of the land. The words were spoken just as I had dreamed.16MR 153.2

    After we had returned to the cottage rented by one of the brethren for the time we should spend in investigating the land, a council was held, and the decision made to take the land. Elder McCullagh was among the number. He had brought his spring cot with him, purposing to remain for a time and see what the climate would do for him. He was suffering from severe inflammation of the throat and stomach, and did not dare to use the vocal organs.16MR 154.1

    In the morning we had a season of prayer. The Lord gave me the burden of prayer for Brother McCullagh, and the blessing of the Lord came into our midst. The room seemed to be flooded with the glory of God, and our brother was healed. He said that the soreness was all gone, and he repaired at once to his home in Parramatta, and continued his labor for months without any difficulty. It seemed as if this was the seal of God upon the decision made.16MR 154.2

    But after this there was a change in the minds of the brethren. They objected to the land, and kept searching for a better location; but in every place there was something objectionable, and they could not come to a decision. I was so sure that the Lord was leading us to locate on these grounds that I told my son Willie and my brethren that I would pay the price for the land myself; then, if they did not want it, I would settle upon it some of our poor brethren who were crowded into the cities. I would make homes here for those who could not make homes for themselves. But this proposition was not acceptable, and for a year the work was greatly hindered by the unbelief of those who should have had faith.16MR 154.3

    The land was accepted. We now have a home upon the land, and what has been done speaks for itself. The land speaks for itself. The trees that were planted the last of September bore fruit in less than two years. The most beautiful peaches I have ever looked upon and most delicious to the taste, many of them weighing one half-pound each, have been produced on the land. From the first crop many of the peaches were picked off, for we feared that it would hurt the trees to let them bear so early. This last season our peach trees were so loaded with fruit that we had to prop up the branches. We have had all the vegetables we wanted for our own use, and have supplied the family of W.C.W. and Brother James, our farm manager. The orchard at the school bore well, and the fruit was of a good flavor.16MR 154.4

    When our trees were first planted, we had no rain for many months, but with careful attention they nearly all lived. During the past season, while the countries [country areas] around us have been without rain, we have had all we needed. We visited Melbourne the last of February, and after we had passed a few stations near Sydney, the whole country presented a charred and burned appearance. They had had no rain, and everywhere the cattle were suffering for water and food. In Melbourne the cattle were poor and the paddocks almost without a green thing in them. All through Victoria was this drought felt; but this country has had showers when needed; the grass is green, and everything is pleasant to the eye. We thank the Lord that we are located just where we are, and that we have been blessed by Him.16MR 155.1

    Three school buildings are already completed, and the meetinghouse is erected. We went forward in faith, and the Lord honored our faith. The word came to me from the Lord, “Arise, and build a house for the Lord, and build without delay.” In His providence there was just at that time carpenters who were not engaged at their business, and these were employed. All donated liberally of their time, and worked at reduced wages. In eight weeks the meetinghouse was built. We know that the angels of the Lord were with the workers. When hindrances seemed to arise, Elder Haskell would encourage the workers. He would propose a season of prayer, and all would leave their work. And as they called upon the name of the Lord the Holy Spirit of God softened and subdued the hearts of the workers.16MR 155.2

    Just before the first term of school closed, this house was dedicated to God, and there has not been as favorable a time since to erect a building. We rejoice now that we see the chapel full of students who are accommodated with a good, pleasant, convenient place of worship.16MR 156.1

    We are sorry, very sorry, because of the reports that have gone out to distant countries who cannot see for themselves the truth of this matter. Especially were we sorry for the reports that were carried to Africa, and the unfavorable reports that were made upon the minds of those who had the greatest interest in this place. We wish them to understand that the means invested is not lost nor used unadvisedly. As far as location is concerned, we are in the best place we could have selected.16MR 156.2

    The Lord is good, merciful, and forbearing. The works of creation reveal His character. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handywork.” It is man, formed in the image of God, who does not magnify the Lord of Hosts in contemplating the love of God and the perfection of His law. We may now see that the transgression of the law of God has been bringing upon the world God's displeasure. If he will, man may read in the natural world nature's testimony to the result of man's transgression of the law of Jehovah.16MR 156.3

    We are located far from the city, and in this we see the providence of God. All who come to Avondale School are pleased with the location, and we hope that all the letters sent by the students to their parents will be of a character to encourage the hearts of the parents. We all want to work unitedly for the glory of God.—Manuscript 62, 1898.16MR 156.4

    Ellen. G. White Estate

    Washington, D. C.,

    August 7, 1986.

    Entire Manuscript.