Getting in the Hay

18 July 1867 - 19 July 1867

The work of recovery continued at a steady but slow pace. Thursday and Friday, July 18 and 19, were busy days for James White, for it was time to get in the hay. He arranged with the neighbors to cut the hay, and expected to invite them to help him get it in. But Ellen saw a good opportunity to draw her husband into further activity. While the hay was drying she slipped away and visited the neighbors. Through inquiry she learned that they were pressed with their own work, but were planning to help James get his hay in. To each she said, "When he sends for you, tell him what you have just told me, that you are pressed with your own work and it is not convenient to leave your own work, as you will suffer loss if you do" (see 2LS, p. 357). The neighbors were reluctant to do this, but when she explained her plan to encourage James in activity, they agreed to cooperate. The story is told in several places, but here is the account as related in Life Sketches of James and Ellen White, published in 1888:

When the call was made for help, all the neighbors declared themselves too busy to respond. It was necessary that the hay be secured at once, and Elder White was sorely disappointed. But Mrs. White was not at all despondent; she resolutely said: "Let us show the neighbors that we can attend to the work ourselves. Willie and I will rake the hay and pitch it on the wagon, if you will load it and drive the team." To this he consented; but how could they make the stack?

The farm was new, and they had no barn. Mrs. White volunteered to build the stack, if her husband would pitch up the hay, while Willie should be raking for another load (ibid.).

Some of the neighbors, as they passed by, were surprised to see Ellen White, the woman who spoke each week to a houseful of people, treading down the hay and building the stack. Reporting his activities for this week, James wrote: "I have worked from six to twelve hours each day, and have enjoyed blessed sleep from six to nine hours each night. . . . My work has been haying, plowing, grading about the house, hoeing, and putting down carpets" (RH, July 30, 1867).

The days in their new roomy home in Greenville marked the gradual recovery of James from the point of such weakness that he could carry neither purse nor watch, to an active, aggressive ministry. Years later Ellen commented:

After his recovery, my husband lived for a number of years, during which time he did the best work of his life. Did not those added years of usefulness repay me many fold for the eighteen months of painstaking care? (MS 50, 1902 [see also 2SM, p. 308]).

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