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    Chapter 23—Ellen’s Surprise

    One day in June a young man alighted at the Battle Creek railway station. As he stood looking around, the station agent asked, “Were you expecting someone to meet you?” The young man held up a paper bearing the address, John N. Andrews, Battle Creek, Michigan. “John Andrews, oh, yes.” The station agent led him to a street and pointed: “Ask for the Review and Herald office; you’ll find Mr. Andrews there.”SMG 159.1

    The stranger did not find John Andrews at the office, but he was soon surrounded by a friendly group, all eager to learn who he was and where he came from. He could do little more than shake hands, for he could not form one complete sentence in English. Nor did the Review employees understand his French. He tried German, but with no better success.SMG 159.2

    Elder White took him home to dinner and sent for a friend who spoke French to interpret for them. He learned that the young man’s name was James Erzberger, and that he had just arrived from Europe. He carried an addressed copy of the Review with him, and by showing it to steamship and railroad men along the way, had reached Battle Creek. He brought greetings from a company of about fifty new Sabbathkeepers in Switzerland.SMG 159.3

    But how had these people learned about the Sabbath, and how did they know there were Sabbathkeepers in America? A Polish minister named Czechowski, a former Catholic priest, had joined a Protestant organization while in America and had returned to Europe to preach under their direction. But also, from Seventh-day Adventists he had learned about the Sabbath, which he included as a part of the gospel he preached. Soon he had a company of Sabbathkeeping Swiss converts.SMG 159.4

    After he left them to preach elsewhere, one of them obtained a copy of the Review and noticed that the publishers also observed the Sabbath. They wrote to the publishers, and the letter started a correspondence which led to their sending Erzberger to Battle Creek.SMG 160.1

    Elder and Mrs. White took James Erzberger to their home in Greenville. They persuaded John Kellogg to go with them. There the two boys, Johnny Kellogg, seventeen, and Willie White, fifteen, were set to work teaching James Erzberger to speak English. Early each morning, Willie would walk around the house and garden with his pupil, naming objects and asking him to repeat the names after him. On a second trip around, the language student would identify the objects. At the end of an hour John would take over, and thus by alternating, the instructions continued till late afternoon. Then the cook, Adelia Howe, a former public school teacher, spent the evening showing James how to construct sentences with the words he had learned.SMG 160.2

    In only four weeks Erzberger was able to give an understandable talk in English, and nine weeks later he went with James White and John Andrews to the camp meeting in Clyde, Ohio, where he addressed a large congregation. The people were so moved by his appeal for help for his countrymen that they took up a collection of seventy-six dollars. This was the first foreign missions offering ever given by Seventh-day Adventists.SMG 160.3

    Ellen White was too ill to go to the Clyde meeting, but she determined to attend the one to follow in Owosso, Michigan. Every day she took her husband’s arm and hobbled out to a wide-spreading oak behind the house to pray with James Erzberger for the little company of Swiss Sabbathkeepers and for her healing. Sometimes, when alone in her room, she would creep on hands and knees to her closet and there plead with God for healing. While praying, she felt an assurance that she would be able to go to the meeting.SMG 161.1

    Doctors at Battle Creek Sanitarium, knowing how ill she was, sent word that she should not attend any camp meetings that season. To make sure that their instructions were obeyed, they sent Dr. Mary Chamberlain to Greenville to care for the patient. The doctor did everything possible to relieve the sciatica which was causing Mrs. White such intense suffering, yet there seemed to be no improvement. Every step was painful. But Ellen White did not give up easily.SMG 161.2

    One day she said to Dr. Mary, “Please have the carriage brought to the door, and take me out for a short ride to test my strength.” On the carriage floor the doctor placed cushions on which Mrs. White could kneel. Although the driver walked the horses slowly, the jarring caused such intense pain that they had to turn back, lift the patient out, and carry her to her bed.SMG 161.3

    “That settles the question,” said the doctor.SMG 161.4

    Mrs. White said nothing.SMG 161.5

    The morning arrived when the family must start for the Owosso camp meeting sixty miles away. “I want everyone to go who possibly can,” Ellen said. “Dr. Mary, you may as well go with the others. Sister Chapman and Willie can look after me.” So the carryall was loaded with camp supplies, and away they drove.SMG 161.6

    Soon after the party left, my grandmother called Willie and said, “You know that the easy carriage has been left here, and we still have one horse. I want you to borrow another horse and fix up the back seat so that I can recline in it. We’ll start for Owosso tomorrow morning and drive as far as Orleans, stopping overnight with friends. Then, if I’m able, we’ll go on with them the next day to Ionia, and take the train there for Owosso.”SMG 162.1

    Mrs. White was impressed that God had work for her at the camp meeting, and she felt she must go in faith.SMG 162.2

    Obediently Willie carried out his mother’s instructions, and they started the next morning. The day was hot, the roads were sandy, the horses lazy. The sun was blazing overhead when they reached Orleans.SMG 162.3

    What? Nobody home! The house was closed and the door locked! They drove on to the Wilson home, hoping to find rest and refreshment there, but that house, too, was closed and locked.SMG 162.4

    “Where are all the folks?” Willie asked a neighbor.SMG 162.5

    “They’ve all gone to camp meeting. You won’t find an Adventist anywhere in this town.”SMG 162.6

    “Oh, Mother, what shall we do?” the boy asked. “Shouldn’t we turn around and go home?”SMG 162.7

    “No,” she replied, “drive on to Ionia.”SMG 162.8

    Dazed, Willie picked up the reins and urged the tired horses on. The afternoon was hotter than the morning, the sand was deeper, the horses were more exhausted. Sweat dripped from their flanks and from Willie’s forehead. He knew it was nearly time for the train to reach Ionia, and they had several miles yet to go. “Mother, are you suffering? Mother!”SMG 162.9

    No reply. Was she asleep? Had she fainted? If they missed the train—what then? He applied the whip. They were now within a few blocks of the station, and Willie heard the engine bell. He lashed the horses into a gallop and swung up to the platform as the baggage was being loaded onto the train.SMG 163.1

    What relief! Willie saw familiar faces at the train windows. Two strong men leaped from the platform, lifted his mother in their arms, and carried her onto the train. A telegram was sent to Elder White to meet the train at Owosso.SMG 163.2

    “Now, what shall I do next?” the bewildered Willie wondered.SMG 163.3

    “Willie, drive on to Owosso,” someone shouted from a window of the moving train. “The team will be handy to have on the grounds.” And that is what Willie did.SMG 163.4

    A few hours later Mrs. White lay on a cot in the family tent, happy to be at camp meeting, though still suffering intensely. Ministers were called in. As they prayed, tears of joy moistened her pillow. She said, “It seems to me this tent is filled with the bright shining of the angels of heaven.”SMG 163.5

    The next day she was helped to the pulpit, and as she addressed a large assembly, all pain and weakness disappeared. But when she had given her message, she said afterward, “I found myself still a cripple, needing my husband’s arm to lean upon and the arm of my son Edson on the other side.”SMG 163.6

    Three times during that camp meeting Ellen White spoke to large audiences. When the meetings closed, Willie drove the team home, but without his mother. “I’ll go with your father to the Eastern camp meeting,” she said. As for Dr. Chamberlain, who had been sent from the sanitarium with the special commission to care for Mrs. White, she was embarrassed, to say the least. But the little woman who had outwitted her and all the other doctors now came to her rescue.SMG 163.7

    “Dr. Chamberlain,” she said, “you can see that the Lord has taken my case in hand, and He is healing me. You can’t object to my attending the camp meetings. I invite you to come with me and take care of me.”SMG 164.1

    The question was really settled this time. Ellen White and Dr. Chamberlain accompanied James White, John Andrews, James Erzberger, and the other ministers to the meetings that summer. Their own family tent went with them on the train, packed in a large tin trunk.SMG 164.2

    Although her steps were still painful, my grandmother was thankful to be able to speak words of cheer to the waiting people.SMG 164.3

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