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


Ellen White Calls a Work Bee

Just when they were within three weeks of target date for the school to open, Haskell was suddenly called to Adelaide to assist in meeting the crisis in the church there, brought about by the apostasy of the pastor, Stephen McCullagh. With Haskell's leaving, even if for only a couple of weeks, Hare's courage sank to an all-time low. He could see there was no hope of meeting the April 28 deadline for the opening of school. Taking in the situation, Ellen White began to plan a strategy, for she held that the school must open on time. She was not able to attend church on the Sabbath, but she sent an announcement to be read appointing a meeting for all who would, to attend on Sunday morning at six o'clock. She had something to say to them. She sent word to Metcalfe Hare to come to her home after the Sabbath to meet with Mrs. Haskell, Sara, and herself. 4BIO 296.3

Mrs. White told the story to Willie as to what took place: 4BIO 296.4

On Saturday evening we had our interview. Our means were gone, and the school building could not be finished to open school at the appointed time. Sister Haskell asked just how many hands could be put on to the building, how many on outside work, how many on the cistern, and how many inside. She wrote these down on paper, and after everything had been stated, she and I said, “We will have every position filled.” Brother Hare argued that it was impossible.

We opened the morning meeting with singing and prayer, and then we laid the situation before them all. I told them that I would let them have Brethren Connell, James, and Worsnop, and pay them hire. 4BIO 297.1

Brother Connell said that he had a two weeks’ pledge to work out. Brother James said he would give one week's work in any line or place where they might put him. Brother Anderson also had pledged two weeks, and so one and another volunteered until men, women, and children were accepted. 4BIO 297.2

I told them that I would give Sara to work in union with Sister Haskell, and they agreed to lay the floor with the help of Brother James to place the boards and press them into position, while Sister Haskell and Sara should drive the nails. 4BIO 297.3

Our meeting lasted from six until eight o'clock. After [the] meeting the brother from Queensland made some depreciatory remarks about “lady carpenters,” but no one to whom these words were addressed responded. 4BIO 297.4

Every soul was put to work. There were over thirty in number. The women and children worked in the first building, cleaning windows and floors. Sister Worsnop came with her baby and children, and while she worked on the inside of a window, her eldest girl of 10 years worked on the outside. Thus the work in the first building was nearly completed in the first day. 4BIO 297.5

Sister Haskell and Sara completed nearly one half on the dining-room floor. Brother Hare says everyone was enthusiastic. The women who engaged in the various branches of the work did well. Brother Richardson was putting the brick in the floor of the cellar. Some of the girls passed the brick from outside, while others inside passed them to Brother Richardson. 4BIO 297.6

In the afternoon I was sent for to consult with Brother Hare in regard to making changes in the divisions of the dining room.... Then Brother Hare conducted me over the immediate premises, and we decided on the trees that must come down, one of which went down yesterday.... We left all the acacia trees, wattle trees they are called here. They are a very beautiful green, and bear a fragrant yellow blossom.... 4BIO 297.7

Yesterday all the furniture in the mill loft was washed and cleansed from vermin, and prepared for the new building. One more floor is to be laid this afternoon.... The carpenters are siding up the building. Both ends are done, and quite a piece of the lower part on both sides.... 4BIO 298.1

Monday, April 6, the workers, men, women, and children are all at work.... 4BIO 298.2

The sisters had put the first coat of paint on the window frames. Brother Hare said that the women's diligent work had done more to inspire diligence in the men at work than any talk or ordering. The women's silence and industry had exerted an influence that nothing else could do. These women have worked until their hands and fingers are blistered, but they let out the water by skillful pricking, and rub their hands with Vaseline. They are determined to get at the work again.... 4BIO 298.3

Brother Hare is full of courage now. Brother Haskell will be back in a week or two at most from the time he left.... His wife and Sara are heart and soul in the work. They make an excellent span just at this time. They will be in readiness to lay the upper floor after today, I think. Everything that is needed has come from Sydney and is right at hand, so that there will be no delay. 4BIO 298.4

School will be opened April 28, 1897.—Letter 152, 1897. 4BIO 298.5

About the time the work bee began, word was received from W. C. White that at the General Conference session action was taken to send Prof. C. B. Hughes, principal of the school in Texas, to assist at Cooranbong. He was a well-qualified and experienced educator and would bring good help to Avondale. The word brought courage to all. (11 WCW, p. 276). 4BIO 298.6

Entering fully into the spirit of things, Sara McEnterfer set out to raise money to buy a school bell. From the families in the community she collected about £6, and what Ellen White declared to be “an excellent sounding bell” was put in operation (Letter 141, 1897). 4BIO 298.7