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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    The January Trip to Wright, Michigan

    James and Ellen White intended to spend most weekends away from Battle Creek visiting and strengthening Michigan churches. The 1859 diary indicates their success in doing so. In its final December issue, the Review and Herald carried this word under the heading “Appointments“:1BIO 395.2

    Providence permitting, there will be a conference at Wright, Ottawa County, Michigan, commencing January 21 at 1:00 P.M. and hold over Sabbath and First-day. Brother and Sister White and Brother Loughborough may be expected.—Ibid., December 30, 18581BIO 395.3

    Plans called for leaving Battle Creek the first week in January in order to get in some stops as they traveled by carriage and sleigh, north and west.1BIO 395.4

    The year opened on Sabbath, the little diary page is filled with a neatly written pen-and-ink account of the happenings that day in Battle Creek:1BIO 395.5

    Sabbath, January 1, 1859:

    It is the commencement of the new year. The Lord gave James liberty Sabbath afternoon in preaching upon the necessary preparation for baptism, and to partake of the Lord's Supper. There was much feeling in the congregation. At intermission all repaired to the water [the nearby Kalamazoo River, two blocks from the church], where seven followed their Lord in baptism. It was a powerful season and of the deepest interest. Two little sisters about 11 years old were baptized. One, Cornelia C., prayed in the water to be kept unspotted from the world.1BIO 396.1

    In the eve the church followed the example of their Lord and washed one another's feet, and then partook of the Lord's Supper. There was rejoicing and weeping in that house. The place was awful, and yet glorious, on account of the presence of the Lord.—Manuscript 5, 1859. [All E. G. White diaries have been copied and introduced into the regular manuscript file of the White Estate. The 1859 diary as copied appears in four numbered documents, each covering one quarter of the year.—Author.]1BIO 396.2

    Ellen White spent Sunday morning getting clothing ready for the anticipated three-week-long journey. John Loughborough and his wife and their 10-month-old daughter would be with them. Monday, Ellen was at the publishing house, where she had set aside a quiet corner in the library in which to write. She usually spent part of the morning and part of the afternoon writing. Her letter Tuesday, January 4, signals the picking up of the work on her book of experiences:1BIO 396.3

    Went to the office. Wrote a number of letters to different ones who were acquainted with our experience. Wished them to call up the events and write them to us. Wrote to Brother Hastings, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, Brother Collins, of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Noah Lunt, of Portland, Maine, and Brother Nichols, of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Wrote a vision given me for Brother Bates.—Ibid.1BIO 396.4

    Friday, January 7, was a bitterly cold day, but the travelers had to be on their way if they were to spend Sabbath at Otsego. James White was not with them. Work held him in Battle Creek. He thought to leave later and catch up with them—hopefully by the next weekend—but John Andrews was in Battle Creek for the Bible study on the matter of proper support for the ministry, and it turned out that James did not get away at all. She wrote on Friday, January 14, at Allegan, of her disappointment:1BIO 396.5

    Expected James. A letter came that he is not coming because Brother Andrews was expected. The church are all disappointed.—Ibid.1BIO 397.1

    The next week Ellen White and the Loughboroughs pressed on with their journey, traveling over “log ways” and “plank roads” en route to Grand Rapids. Marshy land had to be traversed. Timber was plentiful and roads in some areas were “paved” with planks—and in some cases with tree trunks laid side by side at right angles to the road and covered, not always too well, with earth. Ten miles of this was described by Ellen White as “very bad and rough.”1BIO 397.2

    Wednesday night they were at the Cramer home, but Ellen White noted that she slept but little, for Mrs. Cramer gave birth to a daughter during the night, and hastened to say, “Mother and child are comfortable.” It took all day Thursday to drive to Wright. The new father went with them as a guide. The roads were good, but food was short, and the diary for January 19 records:1BIO 397.3

    Have no milk for Teresa [the Loughboroughs’ 10-month-old child.] She cries. Oh, that we may be as earnest for the bread of life as she is for temporal food! She will not be satisfied. May our earnest cries go up to God for His salvation.—Ibid.1BIO 397.4

    They were well entertained by the Root family—“an excellent family,” noted Ellen White. Frisbie and Rhodes were there for the conference, but James White, to Ellen's sorrow, was not. “Am very sorry,” she wrote on January 20. “Our labors should be together.” The next day she added:1BIO 397.5

    I have felt so homesick on the journey. I fear that I have not been willing to sacrifice the company of my husband and children to do others good. I desire a willingness to make a whole sacrifice and crucify every selfish feeling. I feel a lack of the Spirit of God. Have had a weeping time before the Lord.—Ibid.1BIO 397.6

    Monday they returned to Grand Rapids, two days’ travel away from home. The record of Tuesday's travels reads:1BIO 398.1

    Tuesday, January 25, 1859:

    It looks like a storm. I feel rather cast down. My teeth troubled me through the night. We rode fourteen miles from [Grand Rapids] to Brother Hardy's. Brother Cramer did not give us the right directions, and we went four miles out of our way. Did not arrive at Brother Hardy's until dinnertime. It was snowing fast. We were heartily welcomed by the family. A good dinner was soon in readiness for us of which we thankfully partook.1BIO 398.2

    This is a colored family, but although the house is poor and old, everything is arranged in neatness and exact order. The children are well behaved, intelligent, and interesting. May I yet have a better acquaintance with this dear family.1BIO 398.3

    Wednesday they reached home, and the diary entry closed with these words of gratitude:1BIO 398.4

    Joyfully, we again met our family. Little Willie seems overjoyed to meet us again. Poor child, he has been very sick in my absence. Is now better, but looks miserable. My husband has been sick, but the Lord has preserved their lives. With gratitude to God I take my place in my family again. There is no place to be so dearly prized as home.1BIO 398.5

    The entry for the next day, Thursday, January 27, reads:1BIO 398.6

    Rested but little the past night. Was so thankful and happy to meet my family again and to be in the society of my husband and children I could not sleep.

    On Friday there was a family get-together at the noonday meal: Had the privilege of sitting at the table with my husband's father and mother and my father and mother. We enjoyed the interview much.1BIO 398.7

    The next week, Friday, on February 4, Ellen went downtown with Augusta Bognes and Joseph Bates and purchased a coat for Bates. Sunday, February 6, she was at work on the story of her life; visiting her mother, she got some facts concerning her experience. The following Wednesday she was writing to her twin sister, Elizabeth, to her sister Mary, and to the Folsoms, of Somerville, Massachusetts. She was reaching out for information that would aid her with the biographical account.1BIO 398.8

    Sunday, March 6, was an interesting day, with a visit with Martha Byington, who now lived nearby. Ellen also began making a dress. She cut it out and started to sew, then, running into perplexities, “took it all to pieces and made it over.” In the afternoon Loughborough came for an interview, and in the evening there was a meeting at the church. Of this she wrote:1BIO 399.1

    After it was time to close, the subject of voting was considered and dwelt upon. James first talked, then Brother Andrews talked, and it was thought by them best to give their influence in favor of right and against wrong. They think it right to vote in favor of temperance men being in office in our city, instead of—by their silence—running the risk of having men of nontemperance put in office.—Ibid.1BIO 399.2

    An interesting discussion followed. On Tuesday, March 8, J. N. Andrews, who for a few days had been in Battle Creek and spoke in the church both Sabbath morning and afternoon, was leaving for home. Ellen White noted concerning his parting visit:1BIO 399.3

    I got together a few things for him to take home. Send Angeline a new calico dress, nine shillings, and a stout pair of calfskin shoes. Father gives the making of the shoes and the making of a pair of boots for Brother John Andrews.1BIO 399.4

    I send the little boy a nice little flannel shirt and yarn to knit him a pair of stockings. I send Sister or Mother Andrews a nice large cape, well wadded, for her to wear. I made a bag to put them in, of towel cloth.1BIO 399.5

    Wrote three small pages to Sister Mary Chase [James's sister]. In it wrote a recipe obtained from John.1BIO 399.6

    Sabbaths were important days in the White home, especially when the parents were in Battle Creek. The diary entry covering the activities of Sabbath, March 19, is typical:1BIO 399.7

    Attended meeting in the forenoon. Brother Loughborough preached with great liberty upon the sleep of the dead and the inheritance of the saints. Tarried at home in the afternoon. Read to the children, wrote a letter to Brother Newton and wife, encouraging them in spiritual things. In the evening attended meeting for Communion and washing feet.1BIO 400.1

    A break came in the weather in Battle Creek in late March. Her diary for Thursday, March 24, reads:1BIO 400.2

    Arose early. Assisted my husband and Brother Richard [Godsmark] in taking up a currant bush to plant in our garden.... It is a cold, blustering day. Brother Richard and wife will suffer [on their return trip home] unless they are warmly clothed. I lend them cloak, mittens, and necktie [scarf] to protect them. The weather is very changeable, but in the new earth there are no chilling winds, no disagreeable changes. The atmosphere is ever right and healthy.1BIO 400.3

    With the arrival of spring she found it hard to keep her mind off the garden. Wednesday, March 30, the weather was warmer again, and she was in the garden for a time. She noted in her diary:1BIO 400.4

    Set out the raspberry bush. Went to Manchesters’ for strawberry plants. Got some currant bushes.... Sent off three letters.1BIO 400.5

    This was followed the next day by the planting of “a patch of strawberries,” and then she turned to her writing. But she was back in the garden two weeks later. On Monday, April 11, she wrote:1BIO 400.6

    Spent most of the day making a garden for my children. Feel willing to make home as pleasant for them as I can, that home may be the pleasantest place of any to them.—Manuscript 6, 1859.1BIO 400.7

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