Eden Warner - Cape II Pre-Convention Meeting - Wednesday Evening, November 19, 2003

Well, for the benefit of those who were not here last week, I'll just mention briefly about my testimony.  My parents heard the gospel before I was born.  There were ten of us in the family.  I am number 6.  I was the first that was born after both were serving God.  My mother passed on when some of us were still quite young, the youngest was 8 months old, but we had our father for 40 more years, and there was strict discipline in our home.  Some of the things I did not appreciate at that time, but then later I realized how good it all was, that strict discipline.  

The time came then when I began to feel my need of God.  I realized that my father's salvation was not my salvation, my older brothers' and sisters' experiences was not my own, but I needed to have an experience with God myself, and the time came when I prayed for that.  The Lord answered my prayer.  It was a matter of two months and the gospel came very close to us.  I attended those meetings and, in three weeks, I responded.  Two others of my brothers, the one younger and the one older than I decided at the same time, and I have been very thankful many times since for the home in which I was born, and for the restrictions that were placed upon us as children.

I want to tell you of two other things that happened in that mission.  There was a young man or boy the same age as my brother, who was two years my senior.  He was a close friend of that brother and he often came to our home.  His grandmother was serving God, but not his parents - they were members of the church of England but not devout members, but he was singing in the church choir.  When we started to go to those meetings, he said to us, "You should not go to those meetings, as those meetings are only for older people."  Well, my brother (his friend) was attending the meetings, and the meetings were six nights a week, every night except Saturday.  So my brother did not have much time for him then, so he decided to go to the meetings also.  He attended the meetings for about three weeks, and then one evening he said to my brother, "I am not going to any more of those meetings."  My brother asked him the reason and, in my hearing, he said, "The Lord is showing me that I should begin to serve Him, but I am too young.  I want to enjoy the world first, and then I'll serve God."  He was true to his word, he didn't go to any more of those meetings.    

One Sunday morning when we were in the meeting, he was cycling down a hill and he fell.  There was a weakness in that family, he didn't know that it was in him, but that fall brought it out.  He was taken to hospital and he was there for some time, and we used to go and see him, but then he was discharged.  He did not know, but it had been told to his parents that they could do nothing for him, so for sometime he was there at the home, sick, very sick.  Then one Sunday morning while my brother and I were returning from the meeting, we decided to go and see him.  We saw him there on the bed almost a skeleton, and just in a whisper, he could say to my brother, "You have done the right thing, and when I get better, I am going to serve God also."  Of course I could see that there was no possibility of him ever getting up from that bed, but those were his words.  "You have done the right thing, and when I get better I am going to serve God also."  It wasn't very long after that when his body was laid into the grave.  He had said, "I'm too young, I want to enjoy the world first."  He didn't say, "I'll never serve God, but some other time."  He didn't get another chance.  He didn't realize that was his time.  

Something else happened in that same mission.  There were two brothers, one was about my age, and one was about the age of my senior brother, and the one my age was singing in the choir of the same church of England, but those two brothers (strangers to the truth).  The tent was quite near to their home.  They attended that mission and both of them made their choice to serve God.  I was thinking of them recently:  one of them is living in Canada and he's the elder in the church there, the other is the elder in my brother's home, my eldest brother who passed on twelve years ago.  I thought of the contrast.  Those boys attending that mission, one who knew of the truth but saying, "I'm too young, I want to enjoy the world first," the others, with no connection to the truth, but when they listened to the gospel they embraced their opportunity.  That is over 50 years ago now, and they are still enjoying the salvation of God. 

Going back to my testimony.  Sometime after I began to serve God, I began to have thoughts about the Work, and when I was fully convinced that it was God's will for me, I decided to make it known.  I'm not going to tell all the details about that, but I wrote the letter and I got the reply.  I was a bit disappointed with the reply, but I didn't change my mind.  In the reply, it was mentioned, that it was a very good thing to have those thoughts in mind, but the most important thing was to be a good example, which is true also.  The time passed, and for four years I heard nothing more about it, but I had it settled in my mind, "Well this is God's will for me and I'll wait."  Well now, if I give you all the details, you will know how long I've been in the Work.  Anyhow, this certain year, this older brother, as far as I can remember he came to this country.  I don't know if it was for special meetings or conventions and he was having a home visit after that.  I received a letter from him mentioning that if he were returning to the West Indies, I would have an opportunity that year because there would be an odd brother, but now he had been asked to go to Australia, so it wasn't likely that I would have the opportunity that year.  I was disappointed, but it didn't change my purpose. 

Then, towards the end of that same year, it was in the month of October, there was a mission not far from our home, and of course we were attending every night.  One night after the meeting, the older of the 2 brothers said to me, "I want to see you."  He would be leaving shortly to attend some of the other conventions and he said to me (this was the last thing I expected to hear that night) he said, "You need to get ready to go into the Work after the conventions."  Well, that was a sleepless night for me!  But, as I said, I wasn't expecting it at that time because of the previous letter I had received, so it was a shock to me, but when I thought over it for a few days, well, I could accept it.
I started in the Work in the island of Tobago.  It is a small island.  Trinidad is the larger island, Tobago is the smaller island, they are called "the Twin Island State."  According to what usually happens, the workers will be leaving Trinidad this morning for the small convention there this weekend.  That is where I started.  My first companion was an Irishman and he was very gifted they say, because he didn't have to learn the tune of any hymn.  He sang all to the same tune!  So, from my very first night I had to lead the singing, something I had never done, because we had good singers in our meeting.  I had to do it, there was no alternative!

I want to tell you of a family we met that first year, not that I had much to do with it.  Anyway, we were having six meetings a week, I really don't know what I used to tell them, honestly.  Six nights we had meetings, my first mission!  We went into a little village and went around giving out invitations, and a good number came.  After we were there about three weeks we saw a certain woman come into the meeting, and that woman listened with her eyes, with her ears, with everything.  When the meetings were tested sometime after that she, among others, stood to their feet.  We went to visit her and she said she had been a member of the Church of England, and she became disappointed because of the behaviour of the clergymen, so she decided to stay at home.  She said when any group came into the village to have meetings, she would not go to listen to them as she said, "They are all the same!"  But somehow she felt that God would not allow her to die until she had heard the truth.  She said when we came there, she said the same thing, "They're all the same, I'm not going."  But that evening that I referred to, she said, "Something said to me, 'You must go to that meeting tonight," and she came, and she said that from the very first meeting she sat in, she saw it was the truth.  She professed, her husband professed, and to make a long story short, after some years the little convention was begun at their home, and it is still there today.  She has passed on, her husband has passed on.  Her husband passed on 2 years ago, and she last year, but their two daughters are making it possible for the meetings to continue there.  But she said, "The very first meeting, I saw it was the truth."  And so today, I was thinking of that home and thinking of them gathering there this weekend.
I'll tell you one other thing before I stop.  I was with that companion for two years and then I went with a brother.  I don't know if you know where the Isle of Mann is, he was from the Isle of Mann.  Do you know where that is?  He was a very good singer, and he told me a story.  He told me that once there was a family.  They had a cuckoo and they also had a pet sparrow.  So, they placed the sparrow with the cuckoo, and the cuckoo was supposed to teach the sparrow to sing, but at the end of the period, the cuckoo was chirping like the sparrow!  I got the message!    

So, anyhow, I'm glad for the privilege of being here.  As I was saying, my father lived for forty years after our mother died and I was waiting to go into the work for five years and he didn't know.  The only person who actually knew, apart from workers, was my eldest sister because she happened to open the letter that the brother had written to me.  After that, we passed a law that no person was to open another person's letter before they've seen it, but she kept it close!  So when I was told that I had to get ready, I mentioned it to my father for the first time, and he just said, "I'm glad.  I expected it."  Anyhow, he lived for twenty-two years after I was in the work.  So, I'm thankful for all that has been my privilege and maybe we can now sing a hymn and close.