Secrets And Friends
Chapter 5: Sabbath
Because this is a work of fiction, Heather’s favorite day of the week is Sabbath. Every actual Adventist girl knows that our favorite day of the week is Sunday. On Sunday we get to sleep in late. We get to get up and eat a leisurely breakfast in our pajamas in front of the television set and not go anywhere. Not get up early to put on uncomfortable clothes while your parents yell and swear at you because you’re not fast enough, to go someplace you don’t really like all that much.
Heather and her family are going to church on the campus of Avondale. According to the text, the church is a fairly new building, and I really wish this book included pictures because I can’t find one online. At least, not that dates to 1890. Really, it’s a shame that what little history this book contains is shoehorned into the text. American Girl books have a section in the back of them that talks about the time period and place. Adventist Girl doesn’t have that, and I really feel this book is lacking because of it.
Anyway, Heather’s family finds a seat and sits down. They discover Mrs. Hughes is sitting behind them. Mrs. Hughes tells Heather, “Happy Sabbath,” and Nathan turns bright red and squirms. All this takes up at least 3 pages and isn’t all that interesting.
Heather looked around the crowded church. She recognized a few of the other children from school, all sitting with their families. She frowned as she noticed Ethel and May sitting two rows in front of her. She craned her neck to see them better. They sat with their heads together, giggling. Heather rolled her eyes. They can’t be apart even for church, she thought.
Nice to see Heather’s already gotten down the Sabbath morning judgemental attitude down pat.
The principle of the college, Mr. Hughes, gets up to speak. Yes, he’s Mrs. Hughes’ husband.
“It is our privilege,” Principal Hughes continued, “To have Mrs. White and her family with us this morning.”
Yes, in case you were all wondering, the author put Heather in Australia simply because Ellen White was in Australia in the 1890s. There’s some debate over just how much control Ellen White had over her move to Australia, so I thought at first that it was an odd choice. Then I realized that most books about Adventists are controlled by SDA publishers, so most people are probably unaware of any of this. This is why I really want an SDA history book from an outsider’s perspective. Not even an Ex SDA
Is it really Mrs. White? Heather wondered. Her family had read Mrs. White’s books since before she could even remember. Mr. Gibson always had a bag full of her books to sell as he went door to door.
Here’s a list of everything Ellen White published in the order in which it was published. Even The Great Controversy, the favorite book of most SDA canvassers, was written by the time our story takes place. So I guess I was wrong when I thought, at first, that this had been exaggerated.
Heather is excited about listening to a sermon given by the Adventist prophet herself, and I don’t blame her. When I was her age, I was fascinated with Ellen White, and fantasized about being the next SDA prophet.
“I have had the great privilege,” Mrs. White said looking out over the eager congregation, “to devote much of my time since arriving in Australia to studying the life of Christ.”
According to the back of the book, this is when Ellen White wrote Desire of Ages, which is a book about the life of Jesus Christ. Today it is only one book, and part of what is known as the Conflict of the Ages series. This series, theoretically, begins at the beginning and goes through history all the way on down to the end of time.
I haven’t studied the Desire of Ages specifically, but given that The Great Controversy barely has anything original in it, I would be willing to put money on the fact that Desire of Ages (DOA) is also heavily plagiarized. I’ll have to look into it.
In any case, Ellen White preaches a sermon about Jesus, starting in the gospel of John. We don’t have to sit through the whole sermon, fortunately. We are told that it was a “marvelous message” and everyone was blessed. Credit where credit is due, this was a good writing decision. Most people don’t want to sit through a sermon, and they don’t want to listen to someone else do it either.
Outside, Heather wanted to meet Mrs. White, but she was surrounded by a group of people. Heather pushed herself up onto her tiptoes, but it was no use. She couldn’t see past all the people.
This made me think a “let the children come to me” moment was coming. It is not.
While Heather is trying to get Ellen White’s autograph, Elder Palmer comes up and invites the Gibson family to lunch at their house, to be followed by a Sabbath afternoon walk.
I have spent some boring afternoons at people’s houses on Sabbath. Poor Heather.
Laura Douglas’ father offers to escort Aunt Rachel and Mrs. Gibson back to the hotel, and I wonder if Mr. Douglas is going to Marry aunt Rachel.
Lest you all think I am jumping to conclusions, asking to go on a walk with someone is an Adventist way of trying to get to know a girl you like. That’s how my mom and dad met, actually. Also, the third book in this series is titled A Wedding in Avondale, and it’s not much of a stretch to imagine Aunt Rachel’s the bride.
But Rachel turns own Mr. Douglas, so I guess he doesn’t get to be the lucky groom. Then Elder Palmer invites Mr. Douglas and his daughters to join them for the Sabbath meal and walk. Heather tells her father she no longer wants to go, as she dislikes Laura. Heather’s dad tells her it’s too late to change her mind, and that he’s sure she’ll have fun.
Oh adults. So willingly oblivious.
As Heather eats,we get to listen to her whine about being in the same room as Laura. Finally, lunch is over, and everybody goes for a walk. Nathan climbs some trees and gets chastised, because he’s still wearing his Sabbath clothes. I guess no one went home to change after church in those days.
Heather runs ahead of the group and finds a gecko. Then she finds some berries, puts them in her mouth, and starts chewing.
No, I’m sorry, this doesn’t happen. Even when I was Heather’s age (younger, actually), my dad had a serious talk with me about unfamiliar berries. Even as young as 5, he knew he could trust me not to eat berries unless he had given the ok. Heather is moving to a foreign country, and nobody has had this talk with her? I have serious doubts about this.
“Heather! Don’t!” A voice screamed.
Startled, Heather turned to see Laura running quickly up the path toward her. “Don’t eat them!” Laura shouted.
Heather stopped chewing. She turned her head and spat out the berry.
Is no one else thinking that digestion actually begins in the mouth? Heather’s already chewed a berry, even if she hasn’t swallowed. Would she still possibly be in danger of being poisoned?
Laura panted to a stop in front of her. She grabbed the berries out of Heather’s hand, threw them to the ground, and stomped on them.
Laura has been very unfriendly to Heather, but she just saved Heather from eating poison berries. So, she can’t be that bad.
Laura’s cool blue eyes narrowed. “Don’t you know anything about Australia?” She asked. “Those berries are poisonous!”
Heather just got here, of course she doesn’t know anything about Australia. What Laura should be saying is, “Didn’t your father tell you anything? Why were you eating random berries if you didn’t know what they were?!”
Heather starts to cry, and Mr. Gibson asks if she’s ok.
Heather choked back the tears. “Yes, Father,” she managed to say. “I didn’t swallow any.” She grabbed her shawl with her sticky fingers and clutched it around her. “I’m going home now, father.”
Heather runs all the way back to the Healy Hotel, to the secret hiding spot she’s found earlier. Heather tries to clean her sticky hand, and prays out loud for God to send her a friend.
After a while, Heather gets up and finds a book on the shelf. Of course she checks it out, and it turns out to be Laura Douglas’ personal diary. Just then, Heather looks to see Laura Douglas staring at her.