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AUSTRALIA

Thursday, January 22, 1874, the "Domingo" with the American missionaries aboard entered Sydney harbor. Wandell was acquainted with the members of the Utah Church in Sydney. He had been an earlier missionary there; the Utah Church had kept up a mission there for a number of years. In fact, a missionary had been sent to Australia from England during Joseph's lifetime; but whether or not any work was done, or what became of the young nineteen-year-old William Barrett who was sent there, has not been recorded.

Leaving Rodger to take care of the luggage, Charles Wandell wandered into the city to look for old friends and was not long in locating them. John Bennett took him to the hatters at once and bought a hat for him before he went with him to call on other Saints, for the Australians were always punctilious about the appearance of the missionaries. The next house at which they called was that of Richard Ellis, whom they found ready to receive the missionary, for Sister Ellis declared she had seen him in a dream and knew he was coming! From there he went to Brother Pegg's and to Brother Nichols', happily renewing old acquaintances. The next day Brother Ellis paid for the drayage of their luggage to Nichols', where they had secured a room.

The two missionaries occupied the time in distributing tracts and visiting until they felt sure the mission would be successful, then hired the United Temperance Hall for three months. The first baptisms occurred on February 8, and were two, Richard Ellis and Albert Aspinwall. Two meetings were held the same day in their new hall, with more names given in for baptism the following Sunday. They felt that they were off to a very fair start.

The next year, after an illness of several weeks, Charles Wandell died in Saint Vincent's Hospital. He had remained with Richard Ellis and family until he could no longer climb the stairs. He believed himself to have bronchitis, but upon his removal to Saint Vincent's learned that the malady was heart disease, and incurable. "He was happy, and had no fear of death; he also bore his testimony to the truth of the work, and that you were the legal successor of your father."1 He was buried by the Saints in Leichhardt Cemetery, and standing beside the grave, Elder Rodger gave a short talk about death and the resurrection; then the little group of Saints sang a song of Wandell's own composing, "Weep, Weep Not for Me, Zion."

For many years Charles Wandell had kept a journal. On March 2, 1875, he had made a last entry in it:

The swelling of my limbs, caused by heart disease, has developed a dangerous sore in my left leg. The point is to keep this sore from mortifying and killing me at once. Know all men that I want all of my bound books and other church books to be the property of the Australian Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I want my clothes, all of them, to be given to the elder whom the church may send out to take my place. The trunk goes with the clothes. I here (March 2) feel it my duty to state that I believe Young Joseph Smith to be the true leader and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. . . . He must increase. . . . I feel more than ever convinced that a splendid work will yet be done here. Also I here record my unlimited faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ as, the world's Saviour. It is in view of the completeness of that atonement that I am enabled to think so calmly about it. God and Christ are true, and so is a universal Providence.

. . . All is calm and serene. The eternal future is bright, and one night last week the angels sang a beautiful song. . . . I am truly and greatly blessed.

Thus with calm assurance this Latter Day Saint missionary, far from home, in a strange land, ill unto death, wrote the last words his pen would ever form.

Glaud Rodger was alone from then on. Having left Sydney, he says for four months he lived among strangers, never during all that time seeing the face of a Latter Day Saint. The time was lonely and filled with discouragement. "It was then, dear brethren, that I saw the wisdom of sending the elders two and two." At last two men, heads of families, were brought into the church in Waratah.

The papers took notice of Rodger's advent in Waratah, in such manner as the following:

Mr. Rodger preaches regularly every Sabbath at the old School of Arts upon the "Fullness of the Time" and "The Approach of the Second Advent of the Lord." He is very impressive in his style of delivery and vividly portrays the prophetic statement, denouncing the coldness and apathy of the Christian Church throughout the world at the present day. Arguing from appearances, he draws his deductions from Scripture that the end of the present dispensation is close at hand. In his views there is nothing of the speculative character, the foundation of his belief being based upon the orthodox teaching contained in Scripture. Polygamy is not a doctrine of this section of the church, but is severely denounced as impolitic and unscriptural.2

Another paper said:

We have had two additions to our list of religions lately, viz., the Latter Day Saints and the Unitarians. The former is represented by an elderly and sincere-looking gentleman named Rodger, who can be heard on Sunday at Mr. Fryar's room opposite the goods shed. I had a long conversation with him the other day. Although there is no fear of his converting me to his theological views, I was rather taken up with him. . . . Mr. Rodger told me that his church does not believe in or practice polygamy and is not to be confounded with Brigham Young's order. The former gentleman is a minister of the original church of Saints, over whom the son of Joseph Smith is at present president. The great aim of the body is to found a community in which all the virtues--and, if possible, none of the vices--of modern society shall flourish. To accomplish this, they have established settlements in Iowa and Missouri, where they teach and practice the doctrines of their faith.3

Other newspapers were less kind, but the missionary carried on alone and received the encouragement at times of additions to the very slowly increasing ranks. He wrote to America that the work in Australia was slow but permanent. He rightly appraised its character, as time has amply proved. Today the work of Glaud Rodger stands as firm and everlasting as the day he left Australia. He has never been forgotten. His name still lives in Australia, as it has been bestowed upon the children and grandchildren of those whom he brought into the church, and the story of his many hardships and sacrifices is handed down in Australian families as part of the traditional heritage of children he never saw.

Glaud Rodger was born in Scotland, and from there one brother had gone some years before to seek his fortune in Australia. When Rodger had been appointed to that faraway country, his dearest dream was to find this brother, from whom he had been long separated, and tell him of the gospel. As soon as he could leave the southern part of his mission, he took his way upon foot northward over the route since become dear to many a missionary to that land, except that the hospitable homesteads scattered through the Australian bush, to whose welcome shade present missionaries look forward with anticipation, were not there. Instead were the homes of strangers. He found his brother at Bungwahl engaged in the timber business with another Scotchman by the name of John Wright. The meeting with this brother was finally made doubly joyful by the baptism into the church of not only his brother but the Wrights. This was the same John Wright who later established a mill and shipbuilding establishment at North Forester (Tuncurry), and whose name and memory, with that of his capable wife, is remembered by so many American missionaries. As years went by, Glaud Rodger established the church on the north coast, and also went to Victoria with the message, hunting up the old Saints as he went.

Many and beautiful are the stories told of this lone missionary and his faith and sacrifice. Near the little village of Glen Eden, in Victoria, a hill may be seen that is sacred to his memory. The hill stands now quite denuded of forest, but in that day it was covered with timber, the typical Australian bush. Upon the very top of this hill, in his lonely ramblings, Glaud Rodger built himself an altar of stones, and whenever he was homesick or discouraged he climbed this hill to his altar of prayer. Glaud Rodger, like Charles Derry, the first missionary to England, was fond of expressing his deepest feelings in verse, so when he was leaving Victoria for home, he wrote a poem and hid it under the rocks of this altar. He told the young people of Glen Eden that to the one who first found this altar and the poem, his farewell in verse would belong. No prize was ever more coveted. The young folks of the community vied with one another in the search for Brother Rodger's altar as if for some buried treasure, and the young woman who ultimately found it treasured the poem throughout her life as one of her most sacred possessions.

Sometime in May, 1879, Glaud Rodger arrived in San Francisco from his long mission, and later wrote: "I have left the colonies clear of any encumbrance; no debt for my successor to meet; a good little library, and many friends both in and out of the church."

James W. Gillen followed as his successor, sailing from San Francisco, June 4, 1879, for Australia. Thomas W. Smith and his wife Helen, Joseph and Emma Burton followed them and in time many other American missionaries, and not one but returned to tell in terms of love of the people in that faraway mission "under the Southern Cross." For years the people in that island continent have maintained a printing office; they have supported their own missionaries and supported them well and at times have sent money to help with the spread of the gospel elsewhere. The work still moves forward as it did in Rodger's day, "slowly but permanently." There is a feeling of assurance about the Saints in that land; one feels that those who are Saints today will be Saints tomorrow, and their children and grandchildren Saints the day after. Australia has paid her debt to the American Saints, who sent out with some sacrifice the first missionaries to her shores, by sending back in turn her younger men, several of whom are now or have been missionaries in the United States. Two of the younger Apostles of the church, George G. Lewis and C. George Mesley, have been back to take charge of the work in their native land. John Blackmore, William Patterson, Albert Loving, Harold Velt, and Walter Johnson have contributed their share to the church in America, while one of the noblest and most loved of them all, John T. Gresty, sleeps in America, as Charles Wandell does in that faraway land.

1 Letter to Joseph Smith from Richard Ellis.
2 and 3 Unfortunately the original source of these clippings is not known.

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