As we wrote in our last article, we left Manhattan on Thursday, April 24.
The distance from Manhattan to Bellflower by auto is about 1200 miles. And as we left about seven thirty in the morning, and planned to be in Bellflower by Friday evening, we had no time to spare.
Once more our way led through the beautiful Gallatin Canyon to West Yellowstone, thence westward for a short stretch over the Continental Divide, and after that our main direction was south, so that it became warmer as we made progress. At West Yellowstone, which we reached a little after nine in the morning, we still saw plenty of snow and it was freezing. But at Idaho Falls, where we arrived at noon, it was warm enough to sit on the grass at the river-side to eat our lunch, or part of it, for our good hostess had provided plentifully for us. From there we continued through Idaho, following the general direction of a wide valley and speeding ahead under the edge of a storm that was hanging in the mountain range to our left while the sun was shining overhead. We followed the road that led us through the pretty, rather thrilling Ogden Canyon, where the road is dynamited out of the mountain-side and meanders along rather steep precipices down into Ogden. From the last named city it is not far to Salt Lake City, famed for its. Mormon tabernacle, and temple. As, however, we had been through the Mormon buildings before, we did not tarry now, but traveled on to Provo, where we stopped for the night.
The next morning we arose at the first glimmer of dawn. Of the twelve hundred miles between Manhattan and Bellflower we still had seven hundred to go, and we decided to finish the trip that day, the Lord willing. For us who live in the East, with its many cities and towns, its curving roads and heavy traffic, it seems an almost impossible task to drive seven hundred miles in one day. However, when one travels through Utah, Arizona, Nevada and thus into California, his conception of distance decidedly changes. The road is good, paved the whole distance. There is very little traffic, so that it is a pleasure when one may toot his horn occasionally at a passing car. From Provo to Las Vegas, which, I believe, is a distance of over four hundred miles, one does not pass through any large cities. Except for an occasional mountain range that must be crossed, the road is usually straight for miles ahead, and in the desert the atmosphere is so clear that often one can see the road as far as twenty miles stretching before him. Under such conditions it is no more of a hazard to drive at the rate of sixty five or seventy miles per hour than it is to drive forty five or fifty miles per hour in our eastern States. Although it was rather late in the season to expect flowers in the desert, due to the plentiful rains they had had all through those parts, the desert was literally covered with millions of them, yellow, orange, pink and red, so much so that even the mountain slopes in the distance were colored. The Joshua-tree showed swelling buds at the end of its weirdly crooked branches, the Yucca was blooming and “the wilderness blossomed as the rose.” Yes, even the desert has its own beauty!
Early in the afternoon we reached Barstow, and from thence we traveled on through the San Bernardino mountain-pass into the city of that name. Plenty of rain had fallen in California, and by a veritable downpour the state of sunshine welcomed us all that afternoon. Had we been earlier we probably would have stopped at the always hospitable home of the Rev. G. Vos in Redlands, for it is but a few miles out of the way from San Bernardino to Bellflower. However, the day had far advanced and we were eager to meet our children. So, on we went. And the sun had gone down before we finally reached the parsonage of the pastor of Bellflower’s Protestant Reformed Church.
It goes without saying that we enjoyed our stay in California.
This was not due to the fact that we went sightseeing, although there is, of course, plenty occasion for that in those parts. But for this we did not have much time, and, besides, the tail-end of the rainy season was rather long and very wet this season. One day we traveled to San Diego but it poured all day, so that one could hardly leave the car. And one warm, sunny day we took our dinner to the beach, the Rev. Vos also being with us, and we made use of the opportunity to take a swim in the Pacific. For the rest we were kept rather busy by travelling between Bellflower and Redlands, preaching four times and delivering five lectures.
But we enjoyed our stay in California most of all because of the fellowship we may have with the people there. Of course, it is a keen pleasure for us when we may spend a week at the home of our children, the Rev. and Mrs. L. Doezema, whom because of the great distance we can see only occasionally. But pleasant it is also to meet our old California friends, as well as to spend a day in the parsonage of Redlands. The Redlands people had prepared a sort of informal reception for us after one of the lectures, in the basement of their church, the ladies serving refreshments, so that we had the opportunity to shake hands with all of them. Redlands, you know, who first sent the long distance call to us to come over and help them, and where I might labor for three weeks back in 1932 when they were organized, always pulls my heartstrings, especially when once again I may meet them and preach the Word to them.
And the more we get into contact with our people in Bellflower, the more we love them. And several enjoyable evenings of fellowship we spent with them, when after lectures or services they would congregate at the home of their pastor. Bellflower is small but active. A very beautiful parsonage they built for their pastor, and they are talking about building a church. That they built a home for their minister first, is due to the fact that they have the opportunity to rent and meet in an Adventist Church that is rather well suited to their needs. Nevertheless, they long to have and should have their own church-edifice, where they can also have their weekday meetings. And if they should appeal to our churches for a little financial lift for this purpose, as I believe they plan to do, I hope that our churches, and especially my own congregation may liberally remember them. They are small and pay a heavy budget. To help them with a few hundred dollars means little for us; but it will be a great help to them. Of course, this is true with respect to other smaller churches that may knock at our door just as well. But I am speaking now of Bellflower.
I believe that the Lord is blessing our California churches and that they are being established in the truth.
The lectures were well attended, both in Redlands and in Bellflower. The last Sunday evening we preached in the latter place the auditorium was packed to the doors, which means that there were many outsiders, for Redlands had their own services, of course. During the week the people of Redlands and of Bellflower both would travel back and forth to attend the lectures (the distance between the two places is about sixty five miles), but that was not the case on that Sunday evening.
And now I must come back to the remark I made in connection with my lectures in Manhattan.
In three places I visited on my lecture tour I had been asked by the school boards of the local Christian Schools to deliver a lecture on Christian Instruction under their auspices, which invitation I readily accepted. This was in Sioux Center, Manhattan and Bellflower. The idea was, of course, to deliver these lectures in the local Christian Reformed Churches. However, when I came to Sioux Center I was told that the consistories of the Christian Reformed Churches there had refused the school board the use of their church buildings. The result was that there I lectured in our own church on some other subject. In Manhattan I found the same situation. Only there our people decided that I should deliver the Christian School lecture in their own church. The consistory of the Christian Reformed Church, however, arranged for a congregational meeting for the purpose of calling a pastor on the same evening they knew I was to deliver that Christian School speech. And, although they had plenty of time to change their date, and were asked to do so, they refused. And in Bellflower we had the same experience once more. There, too, we spoke on a different subject in our own church.
It reveals what spirit of cooperation with respect to the Christian School is found with the Christian Reformed brethren.
On the whole it made the impression on me that they are afraid to hear the truth and that they would rather not be disturbed in their slumbers of self-complacency.
For the rest, we gladly leave it to themselves to explain their action and attitude in this case.
Well, the time came that we must return home.
On Monday, May 5, we delivered our last lecture in Bellflower, and the following Sunday we had to be home.
We, therefore, left early Tuesday morning and “stepped on it”. The Rev. Petter and his wife had very kindly invited us to stay overnight with them once more if we could at all arrange to be in Oskaloosa a night. And so we managed to make the trip to Oskaloosa in three days, and arrived in Grand Rapids the following evening, Friday, May 9.
The Lord had blessed us greatly and prospered us on our way.
A joy it was for us to visit all our churches.
And we pray that the work was not in vain.
God’s blessing be upon our churches!