Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


Attending Union Conference Sessions

With her work finished in New York City Ellen White, with Sara McEnterfer, journeyed to South Lancaster and on Tuesday, November 26, her seventy-fourth birthday, she settled into a room in the newly established South Lancaster Sanitarium, only a short distance from the school. The newly organized union conferences were beginning to hold their initial sessions. Ellen White was to spend two weeks there, with much of the time devoted to the first session of the Eastern Union Conference. 5BIO 141.5

As she was coming down with a cold, she and Sara felt it was fortunate that she could stay in the Sanitarium. Her room was comfortable and she could have the advantage of the care she needed, with the institution's hydrotherapy facilities near at hand. 5BIO 141.6

Regarding the meetings, she wrote: 5BIO 141.7

We have had a very important meeting at this place. I am not well, and so have spoken only three times. I spoke Friday morning, Sabbath morning, and Sunday afternoon. Dr. Kellogg also spoke Sunday afternoon. He spoke well. The congregations at the meetings have been large.—Letter 178a, 1901.

Shortly after her arrival she made reference in her journal to a vision given to her in reference to Dr. Kellogg and the dangers that threatened his experience. She expressed the hope of seeing him face to face so she could discuss some of these matters with him. Perhaps she had such an opportunity at South Lancaster, though as her physical condition worsened, she had to refrain from interviews. 5BIO 142.1

On Monday night, December 2, rain began to fall; by Tuesday noon it turned to snow and the thermometer plunged to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Ellen White probably slept with her window partially open as usual because the next morning the water in the washbowl and pitcher were frozen. Her false teeth were frozen in a solid mass of ice and even her ink had congealed (Letter 184, 1901). But of the snow, she said: “This is a sight I have not seen for eleven years.”—Letter 178a, 1901. 5BIO 142.2

At the Sanitarium Ellen White's health was at a low ebb. Sara reported that she was so weak that when she fell asleep she hardly had energy to wake up again. Several times her breathing seemed to stop. Friday marked a turn for the better. By now the snow was two feet deep. As she looked out the window of her room, she saw sleighs flying briskly over the snow and noted the world around her clothed in its pure vestment of white. “Whiter than the snow,” she pondered. This was how God had “promised to make all who shall come to Him with broken hearts, and contrite spirits” (Letter 184, 1901). 5BIO 142.3

I have been having a severe test of my faith. Over doing is not profitable. I have been shorn of my strength, quite feeble, nearly voiceless, too weak to see or converse with anyone except it was positively essential. I have not dared to go from the rooms assigned me in the sanitarium, dared not to go home to California, which I so much desired to do in my weakness.— Ibid. 5BIO 142.4

On the next Thursday, December 12, she seemed to have recovered enough to start the journey for Nashville and home. She had to drop from her planning a much desired visit to Battle Creek and the new college at Berrien Springs. She was carried to the train, and at 2:30 Friday morning the party arrived in Nashville. Edson met them and took them by carriage to the new office of the Southern Publishing Association, which was under construction. She was no worse than when she left South Lancaster, but no better. After a day or two of rather pleasant weather, it turned cold. Sara urged her to head for California and home immediately. This Ellen White refused to do, saying that she intended to attend the upcoming meeting of the Southern Union Conference, even if she should die there (18 WCW, p. 134). 5BIO 142.5

W. C. White commented: I look for her to regain strength, and return to her home in good courage.— Ibid. 5BIO 143.1

The union conference session was to be held from Friday, January 3, to Sunday, January 12. In the three weeks before the session, W. C. White visited nearby institutions, including the school at Graysville and the college for black students at Huntsville, Alabama. The weather tempered as December wore on. Ellen White's health improved from day to day, and she was able to go out for a carriage ride each day. 5BIO 143.2

The first Sabbath of the Southern Union Conference session Ellen White was strong enough to speak for about thirty-five minutes in the SPA chapel. The audience was attended by both blacks and whites, the blacks sitting on one side of the room and the whites on the other side. But on Sunday she suffered a relapse and was unable to speak again, though she much wanted to (Letter 3, 1902). 5BIO 143.3

Elder George I. Butler and his sister Aurora Lockwood, who had come from Florida, were there, and Ellen White enjoyed meeting them again. They reminisced together, recalling their past experiences in the work of God. This took them back thirty-five years. Still not recovered, she invited Butler and other pioneer workers at the meeting to come to her room and have special prayer and anointing, that she might be healed. She reported the experience: 5BIO 143.4

We had a precious season of prayer together.... My soul was all light in the Lord. A heavenly fragrance seemed to surround me. I was not healed, but I was given the comforting assurance that the Lord's presence would be with me. It is not possible for me to describe the peace I felt.—Letter 11, 1902. 5BIO 143.5

And in her diary she wrote: 5BIO 144.1

I am sure those present must have felt the deep influence of the Holy Spirit. I felt that the canopy of God was over me. I could say fully, Whether I live or die it is well, it is well, with my soul. My life is hid with Christ in God.—Manuscript 220, 1902.