Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


Chapter 24—(1897) The Avondale School—Working Toward the Target Date

As the new year, 1897, dawned, most activities at Cooranbong were geared to the proposed opening of the Avondale school, announced for April 28, 1897. On New Year's Day Prof. Herbert C. Lacey, who had returned to Australia to assist with the new school, was, with the help of his wife, Lillian, deep into the canning of fruit for the institution—starting with apricots. A donation of $60 just received to aid “where ... most needed” was applied toward the purchase of other fruit, peaches, plums, et cetera, as they ripened. “There must be ample provision of fruit,” declared Ellen White. 4BIO 287.1

On New Year's Eve, Lacey had been dispatched to ride horseback through the community to call the Adventists together for a meeting planned by Ellen White. She was determined that as they neared the target date dedicated enthusiasm for the school enterprise should not wane. It was an excessively warm evening, with the air “close and stifling,” so instead of meeting in the loft of the sawmill, chairs were brought out to seat the crowd on the “green sward.” Ellen White spoke, seated in her carriage with Sara to her right, holding a lantern, and Herbert Lacey standing on her left, also with a lantern. She reported that “all listened with interest” as she read from a manuscript and then spoke for a time, telling of “the establishment of the work in different localities, where buildings had been erected for schools, sanitariums, and places of worship.” 4BIO 287.2

Then she introduced a point of particular concern, the fruitage of the criticism and tale-bearing of two of the carpenters, who because of the limited school finances could not be paid wages they felt they were entitled to receive. To Daniells she reported the evening meeting held under the stars: 4BIO 287.3

I told the people plainly that those who were not putting their whole heart into the work to be carried on in Cooranbong were only a hindrance to the work, and I heartily wished they would go to some other place.—Letter 44, 1897. 4BIO 288.1

A few weeks later she wrote more specifically of the problems: 4BIO 288.2

We have been passing through a severe crisis here. Trials have come through Brethren _____ and _____, and their talkative wives.—Letter 57, 1897.

She explained that “when the work was started here, it was not carried forward in all wisdom.” More horses had been purchased than were needed, incurring extra expense, and there were some ill-advised steps taken in connection with setting up the sawmill. 4BIO 288.3

The defectors complained of this, but the principal problem lay in the wages paid to the workmen, five shillings a day, instead of the six they demanded. She wrote: 4BIO 288.4

Because they could not receive the highest wages, notwithstanding the means in the treasury were so low, they would not work. For three months Brother _____ sat on the devil's idle stool, tempting the devil to tempt him.—Ibid. 4BIO 288.5