Planning

Preparation for war conditions had been made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá even before His return to Palestine, after His world tour. The people of the villages Nughayb, Samrih, and ‘Adasiyyih were instructed by the Master how to grow corn, so as to produce prolific harvests, in the period before and during the lean years of the war. A vast quantity of this corn was stored in pits, some of which had been made by the Romans, and were now utilized for this purpose. So it came about that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was able to feed numberless poor of the people of Haifa, ‘Akká, and the neighbourhood, in the famine years of 1914-1918.
We learned that when the British marched into Haifa there was some difficulty about the commissariat. The officer in command went to consult the Master.
"I have corn,” was the reply.
"But for the army?” said the astonished soldier.
"I have corn for the British Army,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
He truly walked the Mystic way with practical feet. Lady Blomfield often recounted how the corn pits proved a safe hiding-place for the corn, during the occupation of the Turkish army.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)


While Abdu’l Bahá was in New York, Bahá’ís in other cities were constantly asking for the Master to visit them. Agnes Parsons, in Washington DC, was one. On 15 April, Edward Getsinger wrote to her: “We‘ve tried to have Abdu’l Bahá say that He would for certain be your guest, but without avail. He said “I cannot be bound to any place or arrangement before the day arrives. The spirit arranges to set the contingencies.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 75)


When the British arrived in Haifa, where the blockade had caused a perilous condition for the inhabitants, it was discovered that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had saved the civilian population from starvation. Provisions which He had grown, buried in under-ground pits, and otherwise stored, had been given out to the civilians of every nation living in Haifa. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did this in a military way as an army would give rations, and deep was the gratitude of those women and children who had been saved by His power to see into the future of tragedy and woe as early as 1912, when He began the preparations for the catastrophe which was to overtake that land in 1917 and 1918. When Haifa was finally occupied by the British, reserve provisions had not yet come for the army, and someone in authority approached the Master, as already mentioned. The British Government, with its usual gesture of appreciating a heroic act, conferred a knighthood upon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbas, Who accepted this honour as a courteous gift “from a just king.”
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)



For long weeks and months, it was not clear whether He would go to California or not. In April, Bahá’ís on the West Coast feared that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would not be visiting them, so they went to visit Him . . . Filled with humility and thankfulness, most of the California party returned home to find a telegram from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Chicago, which read, “Will be here one week after which I go to Boston and Montréal, then come to California. We‘ll see you there in June, God willing.” … But a month later, Helen Goodall and Ella Cooper were surprised to receive a telegram from the Master summoning them to New York. At that point, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá plan to leave for the Orient after New York and He wished to see them before He left. The Bahá’ís in California had almost given up all hope of seeing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the West and were sending a stream of letters expressing their disappointment. Harriet Wise had a message from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the California Bahá’ís which read: “Convey to them, my greetings and love. It has become necessary to depart for the Orient. Certain obligations have come up, so I must depart for the Orient. I move according to Divine wisdom. I have infinite longing to meet you, but what happens now is according to Divine wisdom, that is, I must depart for the East. Although I leave, yet my heart is with you. There is no separation between us and I am never free from mentioning your names.” The West Coast Bahá’ís desperately wanted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit, but it remained just a hope for many months. On 24 June John Bosch and Luther Burbank received a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which read, “As to my coming to California it is a little doubtful, for the trip is far and the weather hot and from the labors of the journey the body of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has not much endurance. Nevertheless, we shall see what God hath decreed.” . . . Never, so long as I live – shall I forget their faces, their bowed heads in the silence – broken by one bitter stifled sob of a poor woman who was there on crutches. Two days afterwards with meekness and submission, they as an assembly wrote a short little letter to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá acknowledging His decree in loving acceptance. O It is all very heartbreaking! … On 1 August ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to John Bosch, saying: “O thou who art longing for the visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Thy yearning letter was wonderfully eloquent and its effect on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was inexpressible. I greatly long to fulfill the request of the friends, but am as yet in these parts, until later the requirements of Wisdom will be revealed. If the Western cities demonstrate their infinite firmness in the Covenant, this will act as a magnet to draw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá … And on 5 August Lua received an optimistic message from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, saying, “If all the assemblies unite in California it may be the means of attracting Him here after all.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá strength was heavily taxed by the work He was doing in the East and the journey West was long and tiring. But when they knew that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would be attracted by the love and unity of the friends, Hyde Donne, Willard Hatch and another believer stayed up all night, praying that the Master would make the journey. And on 13 August ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent a wire to John Bosch that actually suggested that He might go to California: “Your telegram was the cause of much happiness, God willing, I will depart for the Western part. Give these glad tidings each and all.” John told Marzieh Gail that this was the first telegram announcing the Master’s journey West. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá finally arrived in California, He told the friends, your love drew me to you.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 118 – 119, 121 – 122)


‘One day in the Holy Land He told Harlan Ober, an American Bahá’í, that he was to go to India. Harlan Ober did travel far and wide in the interests of the Faith, but at that particular time he did not cherish making that journey. A few days later ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him to go to America. “But Master,” Ober said, “I thought I was going to India.” “So did Christopher Columbus,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 174)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá had taught the friends to grow nourishing vegetables, which, with the corn from His village of ‘Adasiyyih where there were marvellous crops - kept many from perishing of hunger.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)