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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    (Read before the Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association.)

    THERE has come to be a feeling among those interested in social questions that institution life for children is not the best means of development; that as trees growing in a crowded forest lack the strength of fibre and symmetry of development which the tree standing alone acquires, so children brought up in an institution lack the qualities essential to good citizenship.GCB February 28, 1895, page 391.10

    It is true that in massing children together there is not the opportunity for individual development and cultivation that the smaller grouping of the family affords, and it is just this feature of institution life that we have tried to overcome in the division of our children into families. Our plan is to combine the conditions of a well-ordered home life with its opportunities for physical, moral, mental, and religious development, with the advantages of an industrial school, so that the children may, if time lasts, be prepared to fill useful places in the busy world, and that they may carry with them some of the sweet home memories and influences that make our own childhood and youth pleasant to recall.GCB February 28, 1895, page 391.11

    The world is full of half-formed men and women, and they have not for the most part come from institutions either, — men and women who never learned to do one thing really and thoroughly well. It is this class of what we might call crippled characters - for they are really crippled in the race of life - that swell the tide of misery and want, to say nothing of sin, and give rise to the many social questions that perplex thinking people in these days.GCB February 28, 1895, page 391.12

    We are trying to work along a different line. We want our children to know how to think and act for themselves, and to know how to do not one thing, but several things well. I suppose there are those who think that some of the ideas we are trying to work out are new-fangled notions; but do you know where they come from? The Spirit of God has been giving us these principles with regard to child culture right along for the last thirty years. There is not an idea, I am very sure, that we are trying to work out in the Home, but is based on the instruction given in God’s word and in the Testimonies of his Spirit to this people for this time. The principles are given us, and it is for us to work out the details. I do not think we have anything in the Home that it would not be an advantage to have in any family.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.1

    In the school-rooms, from the kindergarten up through the grades, the children are taught to think and reason for themselves. Their teachers recognize the truth that education is a developing of what already exists in the child’s mind, not a crowding of material into it.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.2

    In industrial lines you have seen something of what we are trying to do. Our children are taught how to do all kinds of domestic work, and we do not teach them in a haphazard way. Much of the instruction is given in classes, and before we begin to give the instruction, we seek out the best methods of doing the work, then the best way of imparting the instruction; and we mean the children shall know why one way is better than another, or why one way is better under a different set of circumstances.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.3

    Each family has its share of the general work to do and the care of its own apartments. Here is the outline of a day’s work for one of the families of older boys: This family is up by 5:30, puts the beds airing, goes to the bath-room, and gets the spray or shower bath that has kept them remarkably free from colds all winter. Then they do their chamber work, and prepare for prayers and breakfast. After this they have certain halls and rooms to put in order, with whatever cleaning they need. Then comes school, and afterward dinner. After dinner there is time for an out-of-door play spell. Then the boys gather in the family sitting-room these long winter evenings, and help the mother with the mending for awhile. Part of the evening is spent with books or writing, the mother guiding their reading or study. Then comes evening worship in their own little circle, and bed time. On certain days the program is varied by the laundry classes, in which the children wash and iron a certain portion of their clothing, learning how to do it nicely. On other days there are sewing classes. During the summer they did a good deal of garden work.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.4

    Even the younger ones have their tasks, — washing dishes, cleaning their playroom, etc., besides the work in their own rooms, lessons in sewing, etc., and in the summer months during vacation the out-of-door work.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.5

    It has been an interesting study to the committee to watch the development of character under the training process. To be sure, the Testimonies have had much to say on the value of such training in the formation of character, but it is interesting to watch its actual growth. Not that manual training supplies the place of moral and religious training, but it is a most efficient auxiliary. The mothers in the Home make a thorough and systematic study of character-building and the moral development of children, and there is not one of them who does not appreciate the value of work in developing the moral nature.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.6

    I cannot dwell upon it here, but it is a most interesting study to see how thoroughness and exactness in work will help a child toward truthfulness and honesty of character; how patience and perseverance and carefulness are developed; how a careless, irresponsible child will become care-taking and reliable. Of course the mother or instructor needs to keep the moral side of the question in mind, and impress it upon the child either directly or indirectly, as circumstances may indicate, teaching the child to do his work, not as unto men, but as unto the Lord.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.7

    You may ask, Do we really see satisfactory evidence of progress? The Scripture says that the earth brings forth the increase, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Human character develops in much the same way. We are doing the seed-sowing, and if we see the green blades springing up, and now and then an ear of grain forming, we are more than satisfied. The development of the full corn in the ear may not be ours to witness, but if we see the springing grain even, we take courage, and trust God for the harvest.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.8

    There are encouraging evidences of our work, however, in many instances. I remember one child whose careless, irresponsible ways were most disheartening. Without being positively bad, it seemed as if he were bound to make a failure of everything. To-day there is not a more manly, careful boy in the family. In his bright face and upright carriage, in his ability to bear responsibility, one can see that a new life has opened before him.GCB February 28, 1895, page 392.9

    I recall several cases where a neglected childhood and hereditary traits have struggled hard for the mastery, and only loving patience and careful study, wrought out through days of anxiety and sleepless nights, have availed, through God’s grace, to turn the child toward better ways, and wake in his heart, I believe in every instance, a longing for something better.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.1

    We have seen the dull, stupid ones brighten and develop undreamed of ability in certain directions, and the watchful caretakers, seizing upon the one available point, have patiently worked through that the further development of character.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.2

    The work of child culture is emphatically a work of faith. Bishop Whately once said that if a man wants to see the results of his work in this life, let him plant annuals, and not forest trees. We are planting the forest trees. Eternity alone will show the results.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.3

    In all this work of character study, of planning for the individual child and for the general welfare of the Home, the Visiting Committee and the Home workers have been in very close touch. Meetings have been held from the very start of the enterprise in which the Committee and the mothers and teachers have met for prayer and study and mutual counsel.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.4

    The Committee includes Mrs. O. A. Olsen, whose unwavering sympathy and ready help have been invaluable from the very infancy of the work; Mrs. E. E. Kellogg, to whose wise and careful planning and generous co-operation in all the work of the Home the institution largely owes its success; Dr. Kate Lindsay, who has found time amid her many professional responsibilities to attend personally to the medical and sanitary needs of the Home; and Mrs. Morse and Mrs. Hall, busy matrons of the Sanitarium, whose long experience in a large institution has fitted them to render most efficient service to the Home. I am supposed to be speaking only for the Committee, but I should hardly do justice to the Board of Managers if I did not at least allude to the personal interest which the resident members have taken in the Home, evidenced not only by their ready responses to the suggestions of the Committee, but by their presence at the Home from time to time, and their personal efforts in its behalf.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.5

    While speaking of indebtedness, I should mention the interest the sisters of the Battle Creek church have shown in helping with the sewing and mending of the Home, which has been highly appreciated. We have also to express our gratitude to Dr. Harvey of the city for dental work gratuitously done for the children during the past year, and to nearly all the dry goods merchants and shoe dealers of the city for favors shown the Home.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.6

    We gladly take this opportunity to speak also of the many tokens of interest received from friends of the Home all over the country and in other lands, expressed in donations to the maintenance fund, in money, food, and clothing. All these things have been a source of great encouragement to those at the heart of the work.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.7

    In the management of the Home, both managers and Committee have endeavored to plan for the strictest economy. In food and clothing, care and instruction, I think our statistics would compare favorably with those of like institutions. We have closed up a portion of the building for the winter, and have concentrated our family as much as possible, to save the expense of heating the whole building. The building itself, it will be remembered, was a donation to us, and though it is probably a finer one than we should have built ourselves, as to the furnishings, they are exceedingly simple and plain.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.8

    More and more, as our family has increased and different dispositions have been met with in our charges, have we realized that true missionary mothers do not come by accident nor merely by good-will; that it needs not alone the mother instinct, but the mother insight, — the deep abiding love and patience that are divine, because God gives them the culture of mind and heart, and a consecration to the work that holds one to pray, to study, to hope, and to persevere through all things, looking not at the things that are seen, but with the eye of faith to the things that are as yet unseen.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.9

    It was with a deep sense of our need of such mothers, not only at the Home, but elsewhere in the work, that the Mothers’ Course was planned and put into operation. The course covers a year, and includes studies in character-building such as training of the will, and of the appetite, obedience, truthfulness, reverence, self-control, and how to cultivate them; right and wrong punishments, etc., children’s diseases, care of infants, simple treatments, etc., kindergarten, kitchengarden, Sloyd, sewing, and knitting, with Bible study throughout the course. The course is especially desirable for those preparing for missionary work among mothers and children in foreign or city work, or in connection with Christian Help work.GCB February 28, 1895, page 393.10

    It is gratifying to see the interest which members of the class take in the work. It opens before them and before us all such a wide field of study and research that we are daily impressed with the vastness of the mother’s work and the wide extent of its influence; and we are thoroughly convinced that there is no mission field more important, more needy, or more promising than that which opens before missionary mothers wherever they may find themselves..s Some one has said: “Save an adult, and you save a unit; save a child, and you save the multiplication table.” Mission boards have long recognized the value of education in missionary work, and the kindergarten is to become an important factor in some missions; but I do not know of any such course of study anywhere as is laid out in our missionary Mothers’ Coruse. I know of no plan of study so well calculated to bring a missionary worker into close and intelligent sympathy with child life, or that will through this very knowledge of the springs of action in human lives help so much in work for adults.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.1

    A word in reference to the Home for the Aged, to which the visiting Committee bears the same relation as to the Haskell Home. We make briefer mention of it, not because it is of less consequence, but because the family is smaller; and because it is not an educational institution, like the Haskell Home, there is not so great a variety of questions involved in its management. Our desire is to make it a pleasant home for those who enter, and to give them every needed care and attention. As a rule, the inmates of the Home have seemed to appreciate it and each other’s society. This was especially true when the family was small enough to be accommodated int he one cottage. I think I never saw a pleasanter or more appreciative family. Many of the inmates have expressed most warmly their appreciation of the privileges of such a resting-place for their last days, and at the family altar, morning and evening, I have heard their Home mentioned with words of thanksgiving.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.2

    There has been from the first a kindly spirit of helpfulness manifested among the members of the family. They have been very willing to assist in such light work as they were able to do, and some who have been unable to leave their rooms, even, have asked for mending or knitting for the children of the haskell Home.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.3

    Four of the members of the family have fallen asleep since the organization of the Home. Brother Daniel Thompson was the first occupant of the Home endowed bed, though he was never a member of the family at the Cottage, being so feeble as to require the constant attention of a nurse throughout his long and distressing illness. Those who have known of Brother Thompson’s humble, faithful work as a city and ship missionary, of his diligence and self-sacrifice, will rejoice as we did, that in his last days of sore need a place was open to him where he could have everything done that skill and care could do to mitigate his sufferings. There was something very touching in the simplicity of faith and gratitude with which he received all that was done for him. Sister Marietta Warren was the next to leave us. She, too, needed constant care for weeks before her death. She highly appreciated the care she received, which could not possibly have been given her had she not come to us.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.4

    More recently Grandma Reynolds, as she was lovingly called by the other members of the Home, fell asleep, and this expression almost literally describes the closing of her life; for she had passed the four-score years by ten more, and she laid off life’s cares like a little child going to rest in its cradle. She was always cheerful and grateful, and was greatly missed from the family circle. Within a few weeks Dr. Abbott has been laid to rest, after an illness extending over a year and a half.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.5

    We have found our proximity to the Sanitarium a great help in many ways. We have thus been able to secure medical care and nursing, which we could not otherwise have had, or had only at a much greater expense. We have received help in many emergencies, have had the opportunity to purchase food and other material at the rates at which the Sanitarium buys for itself, and have had the occasional use of teams in an emergency, and at all times the helpful counsel of those of long experience connected with this institution. Our classes have also had the benefits of certain lines of instruction given at the Sanitarium. Other advantages are found in the fact that the Sanitarium has furnished work for the inmates of the Widows’ Home. The inmates of all the Homes have enjoyed the benefit of the medical advice and treatments at the Hospital, and have used the Home endowed bed when necessary. The religious privileges of the Sanitarium are open to them all. Services are held regularly in all the Homes by a deputation from the Sanitarium Missionary Committee.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.6

    We find many things to encourage us as we look back on the last few years. We can see growth in many ways, and if we see also some failures and mistakes, we realize that none can feel them so keenly as those who made them. We can at least learn lessons from such things. This we can say, that the work has been a subject of constant and earnest prayer, and of days and nights of anxious study to the Committee. We feel that the work is God’s, and that those who have been committed to our trust are his helpless servants and little ones, and we feel most deeply the need of divine counsel and help in our work. We appeal to you, our brothers and sisters, who have shown yourselves in so many ways the friends of the Home, to carry the work and workers still on your hearts and in your prayers, that it may be your work also; for there is a blessed ministry in prayer as well as in labor.GCB February 28, 1895, page 394.7

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