Jehovah’s Blessing Enriches
As told by Maude Yuille
THE wise man wrote: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” (Prov. 10:22) Listen while I tell you how I found that so.
Alston Yuille, the baker’s son, delivered bread to our home the day I was born, but more than twenty years passed before we became acquainted, he at that time an engineer in the government office in Mobile, Alabama, and I a high-school teacher. His brother had bought three books, Studies in the Scriptures, from a “colporteur” and had given them to his mother. She gave them to Alston. As he read, he became so disturbed that he threw them aside. But he could not forget them. Finally, notebook in hand, not even trusting a concordance, he read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, marking down every reference to life after death. When he finished he was convinced: Hell is the grave. When I met him, he was able to help me with my spiritual problems.
I had been very religious as a child. To me God was a reality and I wanted to know him better. So, at twelve, I joined the Baptist Church. But I got nowhere with understanding the Bible. My Baptist Seminary friends chided me for lack of faith when I asked them questions; evangelistic meetings emphasized men, not God. In fact, during my studies at the University of Alabama I had lost interest in attending Sunday school and church.
On September 24, 1913, that “last normal year of human history,” Alston Yuille and I were married. World War I came on; then came a tropical storm, taking all we had except the mortgage on the farm. In February, 1917, Alston was sent to California. Then one Sunday, passing the “Chart of the Ages” in front of the Bible Students Hall, he went in, got acquainted and began to attend the meetings. Soon he wrote asking me as a special favor to read the Studies in the Scriptures.
And I? When I heard Pastor Russell preach on “Armageddon” and saw the Photo-Drama of Creation, in 1914, the simplicity and sincerity made a deep impression on me, but at that time I had “many irons in the fire.” Now things were different. The terrible thought kept going through my mind: “Christianity has failed.” Finally I made a decision: Those books of Alston’s. I began to read one night, and read until dawn. What a revelation! Christendom has failed, but not Christianity. At once I wrote Alston that I was enjoying the reading of the Studies; our letters crossed in the mail. When I joined him in Stockton, California, we attended regularly the Bible Students’ meetings. How the brothers in that little congregation helped me to start my feet to walk in the house-to-house service!
On December 25, 1917, we both dedicated ourselves to Jehovah, symbolizing it by immersion on the Sunday before Memorial, 1918. The petition work for release of our brothers from Atlanta Penitentiary and a notice in The Watch Tower induced me to apply for pioneer service. I began when the Golden Age magazine came out, October, 1919. At that time we left sample copies and called back in a week. My first subscriber, a Presbyterian, was interested in the Bible; I made back-calls; she accepted the truth and is still faithful. At first I found it a little difficult to manage household duties and pioneer, but as I went along it became easier.
In 1922 we attended our first assembly, Cedar Point, then spent a year pioneering in Alabama. Our happy experiences proved again and again that ‘the blessing of Jehovah makes rich.’ One night we arrived, dead tired, in a little town and found a friendly boardinghouse where we could stay for the night. After supper, as I was helping the proprietor’s wife with the dishes, we talked about our work. They were having troubles in the local church—a trial to their faith. Dishes done, she and her husband came to our room and we witnessed to them until nearly midnight. They drank in the truth. They refused to let us pay for the night’s lodging and meals, but eagerly accepted a set of books.
In a certain town we knew there was indifference and opposition, but it was in our territory and the witness had to be given. Not even one piece of free literature did we place. Turning home without enough money to buy gasoline for the car and no prospects for supper, we stopped for a back-call on an interested person. He took a Bible, all the literature we had, and subscribed for the two magazines. That territory finished, we returned to San Francisco, and I continued pioneering. It was a joyful day when Alston too could again enter the full-time service to stay.
By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness we attended all those epoch-making assemblies in the States after 1923, outstandingly the one in Columbus, Ohio, in 1931, when the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” was adopted, and in Washington in 1935, when we were introduced to the “great crowd.” The assemblies were always refreshing seasons, when we were able to recharge our spiritual batteries, so to speak.
The year 1931 was a red-letter one. After receiving the name Jehovah’s witnesses and the booklet The Kingdom, the Hope of the World, we began the street work with the booklet. It seemed a little strange at first, standing on the busy street corners in downtown San Francisco calling out, “Kingdom, Hope of the World—five cents!” But we soon got used to it and liked it. Then came the special campaign with the Kingdom booklet to financiers, politicians and preachers. My assignment was to the financiers. I wondered how I would ever be able to reach some of these men, but the “blessing of Jehovah” made it easy and I had some delightful experiences. One tall gentleman looked down at me as I offered him the booklet. Smiling, he asked: “Five cents! Is that my total obligation?” and handed me two half dollars. Another was out when I called; I left the booklet and my card. He wrote me a note thanking me for the booklet, enclosing five dollars.
Later came the radio work. The brothers in the San Francisco Bay region owned a station, KFWM (later KROW). On Sundays we put on an hour’s religious program with a talk, Bible questions and music; during the week programs of general interest were built around a fifteen-minute “chat” on some subject from The Golden Age. We pioneers called on the interested ones. I’m glad to have shared in that work.
The division campaigns were surely thrilling. All the publishers of a large area would concentrate on a town where there was persecution from the authorities. Like locusts we would descend on that town, notify the police before starting to work, then call on every home, telling the people the true nature of our work. It seemed like really going into battle, as car after car moved out from the “contact point” and we went quietly to work, each one in his assigned territory. A wonderful witness to the truth was given by means of these campaigns.
As the years passed quickly by, every day was full of pleasant experiences. When Judge Rutherford spoke in the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, I was given the names of interested persons, among them a gardener in Union Square. When I went to look for him, he was nowhere to be found. So I turned to go away. I had not gone half a block when my conscience began to speak up: “Here is a man interested in the truth and instead of finding him, you are running away just like Jonah, perhaps deserting one of the Lord’s sheep.” So I retraced my steps and found him in the toolhouse. He ordered a complete set of the Society’s publications and subscribed for our two magazines. When I went to deliver them, he was talking to another person who also showed interest and ordered books. The gardener became our brother and the other, Brother Rosselli, was for many years a devoted pioneer, first in San Francisco, where we had many happy experiences together, then, because he was free, he went to foreign fields, Hawaii, the Philippines, Alaska, Spain, Italy, and was thrown out of Portugal. Broken in health, he returned to San Francisco. He taught the truth to his masseur, Peter Carrbello. Peter and his wife went through Gilead, came to Brazil as missionaries and served in the circuit work and Bethel home in Rio de Janeiro. The good Lord did not see fit to give me children of my own flesh, but these theocratic “children” and “grandchildren” are a joyful consolation.
March, 1936, came. We were planning to build a trailer so that we could be still freer for the service anywhere. But then came a letter from the president’s office asking Alston what he would think of going to South America. Well, such a thought had never entered his mind, but he was willing to go anywhere in the Lord’s service, and so was I. So, on May 31, we sailed down the Mississippi from New Orleans on the Delta Line’s “Del Valle,” across the Gulf and to Rio de Janeiro, then by train to São Paulo, where the Brazil branch office was.
There were about sixty publishers in Brazil when we came. Although at first I could only smile at them, I felt quite at home with our Brazilian brothers. I set about learning the language with a teacher, daughter of a sister in the truth; but also the neighborhood children would come every night to sit on our doorstep, asking me a thousand questions and answering mine. How they would laugh at my Portuguese! But they taught me much.
About a month after our arrival we held an assembly in São Paulo, the first in Brazil. We were thrilled with the attendance of one hundred and ten at the public lecture, advertised by sound car and radio. The spirit too was just the same as had always pervaded the larger assemblies.
We were able to bring phonographs with us to Brazil, for which I was very thankful in those early days when I was learning the language. Sound equipment for our car came soon after we did and was used effectively during the time that we were in São Paulo. Large crowds gathered as the lectures were played, and after the program we placed a great deal of literature.
During the dark days of the second world war we had our share of persecution. Brazil, you will recall, claims to be 90 percent Catholic and its political spokesmen call it “the largest Catholic country in the world.” So an undertow of Hierarchy opposition was manifest in the seizure of the pioneers’ literature in the small towns, false accusations, and attempts to enforce against the Society ordinances that did not apply, object of special attack being the sound car.
In one small town, as we were giving the last program at noon, the priest sent the people down from the church to mob the car, but the mayor and police came too. The mayor said that we had a perfect right to give our message. Asked if he and the police officials would remain through the program, he said they would and that there would be no trouble. One of the women sent down by the priest said: “That is the truth.” The program finished, the mayor was thanked and given a Riches book, and we were on our way to the next town.
Interference became strong. Every few weeks some department sent someone to “investigate” the Society. Censorship was on and communication with Brooklyn was difficult. Alston was told that if he went to the States his passport would be taken away and he would not be given another. The Society was threatened with dissolution. It was no time for him to leave. So he sent me to the Detroit convention in 1940 with a full explanation of our problems to the president of the Society and also to Mr. Bankhead, then Speaker of the House of Representatives and a long-time college friend. It was thought that some brother from Brooklyn would go to Washington, but Brother Rutherford wrote for me to go. Can you imagine! How would I ever be able to carry out that appointment? “The blessing of Jehovah” opened the way. I delivered my papers, answered a few questions, was off by plane at midnight for New Orleans, down the Mississippi again and back home to Brazil. In 1941 Brother Rutherford moved the branch office to Rio de Janeiro, where, it was hoped, there would be less persecution. This proved to be so.
IN RIO DE JANEIRO
For a year we had looked in vain for a house to rent, so the Society, with the help of local brothers, bought a home located in the only section of Rio de Janeiro within walking distance from stations of all suburban trains. Jehovah’s blessing has been upon this. The investment is worth many, many times its original cost. Some years later, in 1953, a two-story factory and office building was constructed to the rear of the house, and now the Society is building a beautiful new Bethel home on the front of this same lot. What changes I have seen!
Brother Knorr visited us for the first time in 1945. How we had looked forward to a visit from the Society’s president! His visits have always been a blessing and a great stimulus to the work, as have been those of other officers of the Society, Brothers Franz and Henschel. Then the Gilead graduates, with their Gilead training, began to come to help the Brazilian brothers. Some had difficulty in securing permanent residence; most of them have remained with us, and we are glad for their help.
In 1946 Brother Knorr invited all branch servants (and their wives) to spend six never-to-be-forgotten months at Brooklyn Bethel, attend the Gilead graduation of the seventh class and the “Glad Nations” assembly at Cleveland, Ohio. We sailed for New York on the Santarém, of the Lloyd Brasileiro, a national line. The ship, heavily loaded with coffee, rode smoothly. I had a Bible study with the doctor and purser every afternoon, and when a Spanish consul from Montevideo, assigned to Cuba, died on board, the doctor asked me to talk with the widow. She spoke in Spanish, I in Portuguese, but we understood each other. I gave her the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free” in Spanish, which she seemed to appreciate. One of our missionaries visited her after her return to Uruguay. It was a booklet campaign month and we placed well above our quota of 100 each, witnessing to all, from the captain down to the crew and to all the passengers.
Never can I forget the Monday-night Watchtower studies during the time that we were at Bethel. A number of British brothers were there who had just passed through the war years, and how they knew their Bibles! giving text after text in support of the points in the paragraphs. To me the Monday-night Watchtower study is the real center of Bethel family life.
Alston’s health was failing so fast that some thought we should ask Brother Knorr’s permission to stay in the States. One day I asked him what he would think if Brother Knorr should decide for us to stay in the States. “My assignment is in Brazil,” came the quick answer. “Where is yours?” Mine was Brazil too! We returned to Brazil in October. On the Sunday before Memorial, 1948, exactly thirty years after his baptism, Alston finished his earthly course. It had given him great pleasure to send the monthly report for December, 1947, showing that Brazil had passed the 1,000-publisher mark. There was no break in the ranks. Alston’s death came on Sunday morning, and before we sat down to breakfast as a family on Monday morning, Dillard Leathco had been appointed and was serving as branch servant.
Happy years, full of activity, have flown by. Milestones for me were the Yankee Stadium assemblies in 1953 and 1958, but most wonderful of them all was the “United Worshipers” assembly this past year. For months I had looked at the calendar picture of the new building where two of our Brazil Bethel members were training at Gilead and I hoped to see that building, but little did I dream that it would be my home for the week of the assembly. Yes, it was! And that assembly was pure joy.
From New York I went to Houston to attend another assembly. After that I made a short visit to the members of my immediate earthly family, taking them the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, just released at the assembly; then back home again to Brazil, this time not by boat but by jet plane, to have my share in preparing for our “United Worshipers” assembly in São Paulo the next month.
My Brazilian brothers are dear to my heart, and how rich I am now with 24,000 of them instead of the sixty that were here when I came to Brazil twenty-five years ago! The Brazilian people are most hospitable, warmhearted and approachable. It is a genuine joy to witness to them and to study with them.
At vacation time I like to take with me a younger sister and spend two precious weeks as a pioneer again, in isolated territory. It satisfies that longing, “mata as saudades” (kills homesickness), as the Brazilians say. Bethel life is incomparable; I would not exchange it for anything on this earth.
As I think it all over, I can truly say: “It has been glorious all the way,” and I am confident that it will continue to be glorious in the future. How rich we are as full-time ministers with the blessing of Jehovah!