WORK IN WESTERN CANADA
1928 - 1930
When we left Ontario in the spring of 1928 there was a man that owed me some money and he promised to send it when I needed it. I needed it for this trip. He failed to send it. We started out without it. After we were on the road I told my wife that we would have to drive day and night as I had no money to pay for night lodging. We visited in Windsor on Sunday afternoon and I preached for the church there on Sunday night. We stayed the night with friends in Detroit. Instead of going to bed we visited and I got three hours sleep. I drove all day Monday. I drove all night. I drove all day Tuesday and about six o'clock my wife drove for a little while but she made such poor time that I took over again. I had not slept any. I drove all Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon she drove again for a time and I was resting my eyes and thought we were going pretty fast. I took a look at the speedometer and we were going 45 MILES PER HOUR. It was a gravel road. I suggested that I would drive again. About ten thirty we ran into a mud hole on the road and we stayed there until morning. We all slept in the car. In the morning I woke up a farmer and paid him two dollars to pull me out. We arrived at Brother and Sister Dooley's at four Thursday afternoon. We had made it but we were broke. My wife took the two children and the boy we were raising and went to her folks and I turned northward into Canada. I first held a meeting in Knoxville. There were five responses to the invitation. About the same time of the year I held a meeting there in 1930 and in 1932. Some of the most faithful members of the church today obeyed the gospel in those meetings. Knoxville has only a few members now but; she has been a tower of strength through the years. God will not forget in the judgment morning how these country churches have nourished and strengthened the town and city churches. Their reward will be great.
We must pass over many activities of this year but I had a mission meeting in the Great West school house. This is nine miles out of Radville, I had preached for two weeks and I was broke. I told Brother Orr that I wished I could continue for one more week but I said I would have to go to work. He said to go ahead with the meeting and he would see that I had enough money to go to Montana. I figured that he would give me ten dollars. Brother Wilfred was doing carpenter work at the time and preaching on Sundays. I preached that week. There were nine that responded to the gospel call. Some have been unfaithful but it was in this meeting that Brother Peterson and his wife responded to the gospel. Brother Peterson has been an elder in the Radville church for a number of years and was one of the original directors of Radville Christian College -- now Western Christian College. When Brother Orr came in from his week's work he gave me thirty-five dollars. He said that he had earned seventy dollars that week so he gave me half. Whatever reward God sees fit to hand out for that meeting, half of it will go to Brother Wilfred Orr.
That year I visited the church at Ogema for the first time. I also visited Harptree for the first time. Harptree helped me in the work for many years. I held a week's meeting there in December, 1928, and there was one baptized. She is now Sister Gene Kemp of the Moose Jaw congregation.
I arrived home from the Harptree meeting on December 15. We were expecting the stork again about December 28. Sister Odessa White -- who later married Lowell Davis and spent years in China -- had arrived. She had volunteered to come out and help to do what she could for nothing. She had an operation and was not too strong but she was willing to do what she could. (I forgot to say that we were now making our home in Radville.) About four o'clock my wife roused me and said that she thought I should get the doctor. He arrived in the wee small hours of Sunday morning and about six o'clock that morning our family had changed from two to four. We now had twin boys!
Everything went along very well until the twins were ten days old. Odessa came down with tonsilitis. In a day or two Norman was sick and the doctor pronounced it scarlet fever. In a day or two, Stanley had scarlet fever. In a day or two, my wife had scarlet fever. So I was cook for seven people and myself. I was nurse. I was the washer woman and it was done with a tub and board. From that day until this I have always contended that a washing machine is the greatest invention that ever came to a house. There was some recompense though. I prided myself that there was not a woman on that side of town that could hang out a whiter wash than I did! That house was not the warmest house in town for the snow drifted in under the dresser that winter.
1929 was hot and dry. I held a meeting at a school house near Admiral that year. There was a large crowd every night but if there has been any permanent result from that meeting I do not know about it.
In 1930 I held a meeting at Bures, Saskatchewan. Everyone that attended often enough to learn the truth obeyed it. Heads of families they all were and I suppose that there are more than 20 members of the church today as the result of that meeting. It was then that the Krogsgaards, the Olsons, and Brother Mont Lock became obedient to the faith. Numbers are not always the sign of a successful meeting.
In the spring of 1930 we moved to a farm so we could grow a garden and keep some chickens. We were only on the place about six weeks when the man sold the house. We had to look for another place to stay. We moved to a house near Brooking. This man was not a member of the church but he would accept no rent. We tried to reward him by teaching him and his family the gospel but without success except that one of the girls became obedient to the faith in 1932. She is now Sister Vilma Brown of the Sarnia congregation. She has been faithful through the years. Years later I visited this man in the hospital. He had but hours to live. He asked me to pray for him. After a short prayer he said, Bailey go home and save my family.
I went to the mother and daughter and told them what he had said. They both shed a few tears but to this day -- she too, has since passed to her reward -- there has been no response.
That summer we had a very disconcerting thing happen. We had a three-day meeting at Radville. Brethren from many points attended. Among them was my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Brother and Sister Oved Snedigar. When they went home they coaxed my wife and family to go along with them. It was not too hard, of course, to persuade her to go home. At that time there was a Custom House at Dooley but no immigration. They would permit a person to cross the line for 48 hours without going all the way to Scobey to report to the Immigration. When Oved got to the Custom House the officer was not there. He looked around the village a little but did not locate him. He said, I am not going to waste my time looking for him.
He shoved his paper under the door and left. So there was my wife and family illegally in the United States. My wife did not exactly like the situation but she was on her way and there was not much else she could do. She sent me a letter at once. In the meantime, I had gone to Harptree for a meeting. Sister Will Floyd and Isabel Start (now Ashby), were obedient to the faith. I came home to Brooking that Saturday night and received this letter. I was bothered plenty. However, I knew the Custom Officer pretty well at Dooley and I was sure that I could explain the situation to him and there would be no difficulty. Early Monday morning I left for Montana. When I got to Dooley the regular was away and one of the head men from Great Falls was there. I thought to tell him the story but a thought seized me, I would ask for an extra day to stay and in the meantime the regular man would be back and I would be able to explain it to him much easier. After all, his holidays would only last for two weeks and that extra day MIGHT get me out of my predicament. The officer told me to go and look up the Border Patrol in Plentywood and explain to him my desire to stay an extra day. I did so. It was granted, and I went on my way, but not exactly rejoicing. The day of reckoning had been postponed but not met.
We did a little visiting after I arrived at Elmdale. My mother-in-law suggested that Ludy, one of my wife's younger brothers, should come home with us and that I should give him some Bible training. To this we readily agreed. We started for home on the appointed day. We reached the Custom House. I went in. The man from Great Falls WAS STILL THERE. He looked up and smiled. He said, I see you are back.
I handed him the papers that had been given me for the trip. He got up from the typewriter where he was working. He came to the door. It was a Chevy 1926 Model with no top. He looked at the paper in his hand. He looked at the car. He said, One green Chevrolet Touring, one passenger, all right. Drive on.
I asked no questions. I got into that car and drove on. I did not look back. Thus it is with many of our problems in life, when we come to face them they disappear. My wife and I will always be grateful to that Custom Officer for there had been a breach of the law that was really serious. Yet, under the Providence of God, for reasons that I shall never know, this man chose to show mercy to people he had never seen before.
Speaking of this Green Chevrolet Touring, there was an episode in connection with this car that happened the fall before. I graduated from the Model T in the spring of 1928 when I bought a Star car. In the spring of 1929 I traded this for the 1926 Chevrolet that I have mentioned. This car had been brought into Canada as Settlers' Effects and then sold before one year had elapsed. I was not aware of this and bought the car. I had it for about three or four months when one day we went to the Canadian Customs on our way to the United States and the Custom Officer said, Bailey, I am awfully sorry to see you.
I asked him, Why?
He said that he would have to seize the car.
He said, As long as you stayed away from here no one needed to know that I knew that this car was 'hot.' Now not to seize the car would be more than my job is worth.
I said, You will let me take my family back home? (We were on our way to Elmdale, Montana, for a few days to visit with my wife's people.)
Oh, he said, go on your trip. I will not need to turn in my report until the end of the month.
This kind man wrote a report to Ottawa and explained my innocence. He was a Catholic but he urged them to consider the fact that I was a preacher with a young family.
Ottawa said, Collect $91.00 plus.
Governments and Big Business are about as sympathetic as glass eyes. Perhaps it has to be that way but I could ill afford to pay that money with winter coming on.
As stated before we were living in a house and not paying rent. The owner said the house was not fit to spend the winter in. It looked at the moment that the work in the Ogema-Bures area needed help as much as any place so we moved to Ogema that fall. Brother Harold Krogsgaard came down with a team and wagon and hauled our stuff to Ogema and that became our home for six years.
It was during this period (1928-30), that I made my second trip to Idaho. I held meetings for the churches at Caldwell, Fruitland, I think that was the name of the place, and Midvale. I also spoke once for the brethren meeting in Nampa. (Brother Elza Woods and family lived there. It was this Brother Woods that had baptized the first person to come forward in a meeting I was holding.) There were people who obeyed the gospel in all these meetings but Robert Guild, a younger brother of Claude's, is the only one I remember by name now.
It was during this period that the church building in Radville was erected. The first thing we built was the baptistry. This is how that came about. Sister Lavena Jelsing, who had been baptized by Brother Orr, came to me and said, that she thought that if some one talked to her mother, she would obey the gospel. I took Lavena with me and we sat down after supper with two Bibles. One was English and the other one was Norwegian. Sister Lavena interpreted. Mr. Jelsing went in the other room and had no part in the conversation. The hours rolled away and we talked on. It became midnight. Mr. Jelsing sat in the other room. I was wondering if he would order me out pretty soon. It was nearing two o'clock in the morning when Mrs. Jelsing said, Ya, I understand now. I went in the other room and with a degree of fear and trembling I said, Mr. Jelsing, you should obey the gospel too. He said, Ya, sure, I intend to.
It was December. It had been a dry fall so we did not try to cut the ice, where there was any. We built the baptistry for the meeting house that was not yet built. It has been used a good many times since then. Brother and Sister Jelsing have since passed to their reward but Lavena is now our sister-in-law. It would be hard to find a better one. Signe, an older sister, is the wife of Brother Hector MacLeod, one of the elders of the Radville church.
Then we must tell you about Annie the oldest girl. Some months after Brother and Sister Jelsing had obeyed the gospel, he said to me one day,
I wish you could talk to Alfred and Annie.
I found that Alfred and Annie lived at Comertown, Montana. It was only a few miles away, I went there. I stayed in their home and we held a number of meetings at Comertown. I have no idea how many people have obeyed the gospel there. There are faithful members in perhaps five or six congregations today that came from Comertown. The Clemetsons now live near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and taking a leading part in the work of the church.
In preaching we often mention that most of those who are recorded in the book of Acts obeyed the gospel the first time they ever heard it. At Comertown I had that experience. Clifford Friberg came forward and confessed his faith in Christ the first sermon he heard. He and his good wife worship with the Sidney congregation. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they shall both be alike good -- Solomon.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
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