None of our thoughts and ideas happen independent of our life experience, and Elizabeth's drive to learn and experience life fully is no exception to this. While the impact of the Seventh Day Adventist faith on Bessie is hard to determine without her journals and notes, it is unquestionably one of the formative factors in her life.
Raised in an Adventist home in Knoxville, Ia., she continued her education after high school at an Adventist institution, Emanuel Missionary College, in Berrien Springs, MI. She taught art classes here to help pay for her education, and she returned on many occasions to speak at Saturday Lyceums. She was tied to the college in part by the fact that her brother, Thomas became its President in 1934.
According to Meredith Jobe, Bessie's great nephew, she would attend these Lyceums "decked out wearing all her jewelry and make-up (two things that the Adventist's found inappropriate) just to tweak my grandfather!" The Jobe's shared that family lore indicated a great love between the brother and sister, but also, as is often the case in siblings, there was the tug and tease of the relationship as well. Both Bessie and Thomas had well-developed senses-of-humor, which was often exhibited in the course of their lives.
Bessie's life also came to an end in an Adventist Sanitarium, Loma Linda, in California. She must have felt torn between the conservative morality of the faith of her childhood and her personal convictions. To understand this dynamic better two books have been helpful. Ellen White's World and The Search of Identity both by George R. Knight. Dr. Knight is currently a professor at her alma mater, now known as Andrews University.
It must have been difficult for her family to understand Bessie's desire to study indigenous cultures without the element of evangelism. It was also probably difficult for them to understand her interest in modern art. But whatever those struggles might have been it was clear from her letters and the events of her life that they always loved and accepted her, even though they may not have appreciated some of her ideas.
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