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    Chapter 20—Ellen Brought Him Back

    “Ellen, I’ve never been so tired in all my life,” James White said with a sigh as he drew on his overcoat and picked up his traveling bag.SMG 138.1

    “No wonder, my dear, after that late meeting last night.” His wife cast a last look around the room to see that nothing was being left. It was three o’clock in the morning. They had had less than four hours’ rest, and it was now time for them to take the train.SMG 138.2

    “It’s been a hard trip, James—that seven-hour ride over rough, bumpy roads, the late meetings, then the visiting till after midnight in the homes where we were entertained. The days have been too long and the nights too short. But we must hurry if we catch that three-thirty train. The train for home, James! the train for home!”SMG 138.3

    “Yes, for home, and some rest, and your good wholesome cooking, after the terrible fare we have had on this journey!” They picked up their bundles, closed the door, and hurried down the dimly lighted street to the station.SMG 138.4

    But their train missed connections, and they had to wait till late in the afternoon for the next one. It was long past midnight when they finally reached Battle Creek.SMG 138.5

    In the morning Ellen begged, “James, don’t go to the office today. You should rest at least one day before taking up your work there.” “I must go,” he replied firmly, “but I’ll rest tomorrow.” He was off, not to return till late that evening.SMG 138.6

    On Wednesday morning he told Willie, “You need not go for the milk today; mother and I will take a walk and stop for it at Brother Lunt’s on our way back.”SMG 139.1

    While his wife was in the house getting the milk, James went into the garden. Noticing a good ear of corn, he picked it and began stripping off the husks. Suddenly his right arm fell helpless to his side. Ellen, coming out of the house with the little tin pail of milk, saw him stagger. Rushing to his side, she helped him into the house and onto the couch.SMG 139.2

    With considerable effort, he managed to say, “Pray! pray!”SMG 139.3

    They prayed, and they sent for the doctor; but he could do nothing. Other physicians made examinations. One of them said, “You cannot expect your husband to recover from this serious stroke.” James heard his remark.SMG 139.4

    After the doctor had left the house, Ellen said, “Never mind what that man said, dear. God can heal you. We’re all praying. As I pray, Heaven seems very near. I have the assurance that you will live to continue your work for God.”SMG 139.5

    For weeks Elder White required constant nursing. His wife cared for him during the day, and women of the church took turns at night. There were no Seventh-day Adventist sanitariums then, and very few physicians who knew how to do anything for the sick except prescribe medicines. Ellen could think of only one place in the country where the sick were treated without poisonous drugs. This place the Whites had visited the year before.SMG 139.6

    She sent a telegram to Elder Loughborough, who met them at Battle Creek, and together they went to a sanitarium in Dansville, New York, where the doctors used water treatments and other natural remedies with good results. Elder Loughborough had also been suffering from overwork and poor food, so the two men decided to spend a few weeks resting. They wanted to see what a vegetarian diet and hydrotherapy treatments would do for them.SMG 139.7

    The head physician did not believe God would perform miracles in response to prayer and told the two Adventist ministers they were too religious, that if they wanted to get well, they must forget religion and join in sports with the other patients.SMG 140.1

    One day the fiddlers who played for the dances at the sanitarium passed the hat for contributions. When they came to Mrs. White, she said, “I cannot use my money for such purposes. You think that this dancing keeps up the patients’ spirits and helps them get well. But have you noticed that the ones who dance are languid for a day or two afterward, and some are not able to leave their beds? It is not true religion but lack of it which makes a person gloomy and sad. Hearty, willing service to Jesus gives one a sunny religion and brings health.”SMG 140.2

    Daily, James White grew weaker and thinner. He enjoyed the treatments, but not the worldly atmosphere. He longed to be with his Adventist friends.SMG 140.3

    “Why not go home?” Ellen suggested. “I can give you these treatments there.”SMG 140.4

    On their return to Battle Creek they stopped at Rochester and called some of the ministers together for special prayer. Yet Elder White was not healed. This did not discourage his wife. “If God should heal you now,” she said, “you might go right on abusing your health by overwork. If we do our part, God will do His. Our part is to obey the laws of life that He has given us.”SMG 140.5

    That summer Mrs. White carried on her public ministry as best she could, her husband being ill. She spent weekdays caring for him, writing, and visiting church members. On Fridays Edson or Willie would harness Jack and Jim to the carriage and take their father and mother to hold weekend meetings in one of the little churches near Battle Creek. Ellen always insisted that her husband go along; for though he was not well enough to help with the preaching, she was sure the meetings would be an inspiration to him and that the exercise of making the trip would aid in his recovery.SMG 140.6

    One Thursday morning she said to her boys, “Today we must get ready for our Sabbath appointment at Windsor. We’ll have to clean up the carryall. After the many miles that old carriage has taken us over muddy roads, it surely does present a sad appearance.” So the carryall was brought out, and Edson gave it a thorough washing. Willie took down the ragged side curtains and helped his mother clean and mend them. Then they patched and washed the oilcloth seat covers and laid them out to dry. They were to start early Friday morning, for Windsor was a full day’s drive away.SMG 141.1

    But in the morning when Willie opened the stable door, he cried, “Mother, oh, Mother! come see what has happened!” The two big water pails and the tub used in washing the carryall were smashed and stamped to pieces. The carefully mended curtains and seat covers were torn into strips. My grandmother sighed when she looked at the ruin.SMG 141.2

    But when she saw poor old Jack trembling with pain from a gash in his side, she could have cried. The culprit was a neighbor’s big work horse which shared the stable with the two carriage horses. Left loose, he had spent much of the night in mischief. Jim was unhurt. He had slipped his halter and escaped. Willie found him crowded between the carryall and the stable wall. Jack tried to tell about his sufferings by neighing pitifully.SMG 141.3

    Ellen took a long look, then said to the boys, “You know who is responsible for this. It’s our great enemy, who is always trying to discourage us. But shall we let him? No, never! We’ll have to postpone our meeting at Windsor, but we’ll not give it up.”SMG 142.1

    One day at a meeting she persuaded Elder White to sit with her on the rostrum. After she had spoken, she said, “Now my husband will address you.” She waited anxiously to see what he would do. When he stood up and talked, she could not restrain the joyful tears.SMG 142.2

    Her next suggestion was rather startling, coming as it did in mid-December: “Let’s visit some of our churches in northern Michigan. We can drive to Wright and stay with the Roots, and then go on as we are able.” She had decided that her invalid husband would not recover if he remained inactive.SMG 142.3

    They planned to start on Wednesday; but when they awoke in the morning, heavy snow was falling.SMG 142.4

    “That puts an end to our trip; we can’t start out on a day like this,” Elder White said dismally.SMG 142.5

    “Oh, yes, James; I think we’d better go as planned.”SMG 142.6

    “What? Ninety miles in this kind of storm? It’s out of the question!” he protested. “And tell me, Ellen, how can we meet the extra expense?”SMG 142.7

    Ellen had that all figured out. She had taken up their best carpet and sold it. They made the journey, with a friend named Rogers driving the covered wagon.SMG 142.8

    During their first Sabbath at Wright, Mrs. White had a big surprise: her husband gave a twenty-minute talk. He helped also in the meeting on Sunday. During the following week he rested. Each day they went for a walk, and often they drove together.SMG 142.9

    In late January a Mr. Maynard invited the Whites to stay at his country home in Greenville and hold meetings in his neighborhood. Elder White helped with the preaching in nearly every meeting. Praying with the sick and discouraged and cheering the lonely helped him forget his own troubles.SMG 143.1

    “James, you’re winning the battle; country life is doing you good.” Mrs. White repeated it so often that her husband began to believe it.SMG 143.2

    They sold their Battle Creek home and bought a small farm near the Maynards at Greenville. There they lived in a three-room shanty while waiting for a house to be built. Planting time came. My grandmother knew that exercise in the garden was just the medicine her husband needed. She called Willie and said, “I want you to go to town and buy three hoes and three rakes. Be sure to buy three of each.”SMG 143.3

    When Willie brought them home, she said, “Let me have one of the hoes, give one to your father, and take one yourself. Then come with me into the garden.” James groaned as Willie handed him a hoe. He accomplished very little that day, but he went through the motions. He did better with the planting. Next, he helped set out berries and fruit trees.SMG 143.4

    At haying time Mr. Maynard mowed their grass and was intending to haul it in, but Mrs. White sent Willie over with a note: “If my husband asks you to help us with the haying, please refuse. Tell him how busy you are with your own work. That kind of work is just what he needs to strengthen his muscles and build up his health.” She sent Willie with the same request to the other neighbors. A few days later my grandfather came into the house looking downcast. “Ellen,” he said, “can you imagine what’s the matter with all our neighbors? Not one of them will bring in the hay for us. Even Brother Maynard says his hired man is too busy.”SMG 143.5

    “Then let’s show them that we can do the work ourselves,” his wife replied cheerfully. “Willie and I will rake the hay and pitch it onto the wagon if you’ll load and drive the team.” The barn had not yet been built, and the hay was to be stacked near the cowshed. When a load was brought in, James pitched it off the wagon and Ellen built the stack while Willie raked up the next load.SMG 144.1

    One day while they were hard at work, some of the townspeople drove past in their carriages. They gazed curiously at Mrs. White out there in the field, treading down hay and building a stack. Could this be the woman who recently had been conducting public meetings? But Ellen was not in the least embarrassed. She was happy that the farm work was building up her husband’s health, and nothing could daunt her spirits.SMG 144.2

    Before the summer was half over, James was working like a regular farmhand. Then he traveled with his wife from state to state, holding meetings as he had done before being stricken with paralysis. His battle for health was won. With God’s help, Ellen had brought him back.SMG 144.3

    During the next fourteen years, James White accomplished some of the most important work of his life, establishing the Battle Creek Sanitarium and College as well as the Pacific Press Publishing Association, and organizing churches and conferences throughout the States.SMG 144.4

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