At the General Conference session held in mid-May 1868, Merritt G. Kellogg made an earnest appeal to send a missionary to California. After J. N. Loughborough answered the call, James White suggested to send two ministers, according to the example of Christ sending out his disciples. Then Elder D. T. Bourdeau arose and answered the call. White then called for $1,000 to buy a tent and start the mission.
For the next year and beyond, readers of the Review were thrilled by reports from the missionaries, first on the trip itself, and then on the tent meetings and the organization of churches in the valleys north of San Francisco. They began their work in Petaluma, and from there worked northward. Soon they had established churches in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Bloomfield, and other places.
James and Ellen eagerly looked forward to the time when they would be able to visit the brethren there and see for themselves how the work was progressing. But their trip was delayed a number of times.