This is William Copeland Dodge. Before relating the account of my visits with 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1901 & 1912 may I offer the following prayer written by 'Abdu'l-Baha:
'O my God! Refresh and gladden my spirit, purify my heart, illuminate my mind. I lay all my affairs in Thy hands. Thou art my Guide and Refuge. I'll no longer be sorrowful or grieved, I’ll be happy and joyful. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety nor will I let troubles harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art kinder to me than I am to myself. I dedicate my life to Thee, O God!'
At 4:15 in the afternoon of November 16th, 1901, ‘Abdu’l-Baha entered our room and greeted us. We had just arrived at His Holy household in the prison city of Acca, Syria having traveled in a carriage driven by two horses along the shore of the Mediterranean from Haifa. ‘Abdu’l-Baha said: 'Welcome, my boys', and chanted a prayer for my brother Wendell and me. Wendell was 18 and I was 21 September 6, 1901. My father Arthur Pillsbury Dodge had arranged the trip for us. At that time, ‘Abdu’l-Baha was a prisoner of the Turkish government. But He was allowed the freedom of the city. His home was in the original section of the city enclosed by a high wall. As Acca increased in population a second high wall was build around the city. Finally a third high wall enclosed the entire area.
Before we could enter Acca, it was necessary to obtain a recommendation from the United States government. This requirement was in addition to the usual passport. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was such a living example of love and humility that the government officials, became friendly with Him. General Badri Beg of the Turkish army was the frequent guest at dinner with ‘Abdu’l-Baha, while we were there.
We stayed with ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His household 19 days: November 16th, 1901 to December 4th, 1901. Every day breakfast was served to us in our room. The noon day meal and the evening dinner we had with ‘Abdu’l-Baha at His table. Generally about 16 Persian believers attended each meal, making 19 present. In the Holy Land at that time women did not eat with men when others than the family were present. Each morning after breakfast ‘Abdu’l-Baha came to our room and greeted us. He was gracious, considerate and always concerned with our comfort. At every meal ‘Abdu’l-Baha gave us lessons and allowed us plenty of time to record His remarks in our notebooks.