At Issue Index   Table of Contents   Previous   Next


THE LIFE OF M. L. ANDREASEN - by Virginia Steinweg




THOUGH I WAS asked to connect with the General Conference Sabbath School Department, and also was offered the presidency of an established college, I declined, and accepted a call to be president of the Minnesota Conference. I hoped that there I would be able to attend the University of Minnesota, and go on with my schoolwork. I would have more freedom. But it did not turn out that way. I found that I could not do my work as president and also go to school.

M. L.'s daughter. Vesta, comments: "When father accepted the Minnesota Conference presidency [in 1924], he said he'd take it, but he wouldn't sit in the office all day long. When he got his work done, he'd take off. Maybe go home to write, or to the library to study. He was not going to waste a whole day in the office. He never did just one thing. If nothing else, he was writing.

"When he traveled around in Minnesota, he took a typewriter with him in the car to type out his sermons or to write. Though he was not mechanically inclined, he made a typing table that could have been patented."

M. L. considered that an important part of his work consisted in calling on members in their homes, as well as visiting the churches. He liked to have Annie accompany him on his visits whenever possible. He used to say, "Mother, we have to go on a trip today. Can you be ready in fifteen minutes?" He knew she could be.


Most of the people in Minnesota, including Seventh-day Adventists, lived on farms in the 1920's. To leave the comforts of the city and visit the people in the country was like taking a step back into the nineteenth century. When M. L. and Annie would arrive at a church elder's home on Friday afternoon, they would probably find the children pumping water to refill the buckets lined up by the kitchen door. Earlier in the day they had poured kerosene into the lamps and lanterns, and wiped the soot out of the lamp chimneys.

In their room M. L. and Annie would find a big pitcher of water and a washbasin, both of thick chinaware. With these they could freshen up after their ride through the clouds of dust that rose from the dirt roads. And dirt they were, especially the side roads. Only one tenth of the State highways were paved in 1924; one fifth did not even have gravel surface.

During the four or five months that snow was on the ground farmers could leave home only by horse-drawn sleigh. The children often walked two or more miles to country school. Although after 1928 the main highways were snowplowed, it was much later before county and side roads were kept open to automobiles. Every April, when the snow and frost were thawing out of the ground, the dirt roads could become bottomless mudholes. The remaining months, every time it rained, the roads would fill with puddles and ruts. Only in the 1930's were most roads graded and gravel surfaced, making them "all-weather."

As M. L. and Annie made their visits to the churches, they would often find the roads blocked by a sign saying "Detour"—the first word some country children learned to read. At their next year's visit they would find a former dirt road graded,


graveled, and perhaps tar treated. On another stretch they could now ride on banked, shortcut curves, replacing some of the 1,379 unnecessarily sharp turns that had plagued State highways. Again, they were grateful to see a series of dangerous grade crossings eliminated by the new highway's remaining on one side of the railroad track.

The church members soon discovered that the Andreasens were easy to entertain. Nothing pleased them more than to be treated like home folks. They were delighted if they could eat from plates set on the oilcloth without the luxury of a tablecloth. If M. L. asked for a drink of water, it pleased him if he was told where he could find it. One time when he was visiting alone, the family he was to stay with had just moved, and the hostess was apologizing. "What do you mean?" he asked. "We're eating off the back of the stove, aren't we?" If there were plenty of beans to eat, M. L. was happy.

M. L. and Annie were first able to ride on pavement between their home in St. Paul and the campground during their fifth camp meeting season at Anoka. By the time M. L.'s tenure in Minnesota ended in 1931, three fourths of the State's 7,000 miles of highways were dust-free—and 1,700 miles were not.*

A woman whose home the Andreasens visited on several occasions has provided personality pictures:

"He had an unusual ability to notice all the children in a family. Before long he would either be playing a game with them or doing something else very attractive to their thinking. Whenever we knew he was coming, the children would be just as delighted as we were.

"On one occasion when they came, we had a new

* Report of the Minnesota Commissioner of Highways, 1923-1932.


baby girl with large, brown eyes. The Andreasens hadn't seen her before. As they walked in. Elder Andreasen said, 'I know her eyes are blue.' 'No, they aren't. They're brown,' I replied. He took her sister by the hand, and they went over to the crib. The baby was looking up with those big brown eyes. He looked at her, said, 'Well, the whites are blue,' and walked off.

"One time there was a knock at the back door. Elder Andreasen was there. 'Where's Mrs. Andreasen?' I asked. 'Well, my car won't go. It stopped about four blocks away. I've been there for about half an hour, trying to make it go. I came thinking maybe Will would drive down there, pick Mother up, and bring her to the house.' In just a few minutes both cars came. Elder Andreasen walked into my kitchen. 'I don't think Will's very considerate.' 'What do you mean?' I asked. 'Well, I think he could have at least made it appear difficult to start.'"

In 1929 a young ministerial graduate was called to be youth leader in the Minnesota Conference. His wife tells of their first year:

"We saw how generous Elder Andreasen was with his home if someone came to town and wanted to stay overnight, or some needy person appeared. When he first called us to Minnesota, we lived with them for possibly a year. There was never one iota of friction. We had to use all the rooms together except the bedrooms. We were just married. The credit goes to Mrs. A.

"Elder Andreasen's mother was living with us. She was such an energetic woman that Mrs. A had a terrific time keeping her occupied. She wanted to go out and sweep and dig. Mrs. A had to be diplomatic in her treatment. The grandma liked to sew, so Mrs. A would buy her yards and yards of material and tell her what to make. By afternoon it'd be all used up.


"We had our first Christmas tree at A's after we were married. Christmas trees were sort of frowned on in the denomination. We weren't brought up Adventists, and we'd always had a tree in our homes. We hesitated to ask Elder Andreasen, but there was no question about it. We should have it. It was a little tree on the dining table. He enjoyed it with its balls and tinsel—no candles. One day one of the very old-fashioned, strict ministers came to A's house during Christmas season. We could see there might be a little reflection on the A's because of the tree. But the visiting elder had his little conference with the president and never said a word about the tree.

"Mrs. A was an immaculate housekeeper, and a good, plain cook. Occasionally she made little delicacies. People asked for her recipe for filled cookies."

Once, over a period of weeks, M. L. took a former student around to visit the churches and talk about his mission experiences in China. Each Friday they would come to get the wife and two small boys to be with them at some church on the Sabbath. During the week the family stayed with Annie. M. L. said, "If you can get along with Mother, you can stay forever." The missionary wife commented, "Mother was a doll, so unassuming and still so queenly. She was very quiet and sincere, tended her own business, never gossiped. She loved people."

While M. L. was alert to have even a missionary on furlough make his contribution, he also took an interest in the health of the ministers under his charge. Once he said, "Elder Smith, you should take Monday off every week. As conference president I shouldn't tell you, but I am telling you." In later years, another former student was pastoring a big church, speaking on the radio five days a week. One day M. L. said to him, "You've got to slow down." Then he added humorously, "If you don't, I'll officiate at the marriage of your widow."


M. L. was fond of little children. One worker's family was living in a home about a mile from A's when their son was born. He was a premature baby, and M. L. wanted to see him. He went to the house and took the baby home with him—his first outing after coming home from the hospital. As that son grew, he loved to have "Uncle Andy" visit the family.

A minister tells how that, when a small boy, he didn't get to go to camp meeting very often, so it was a rare treat when he did. At camp meeting, he enjoyed listening to M. L. because he spoke very distinctly, in a measured way that the boy could understand. However, on one particular morning M. L. was speaking about Abraham, Terah, and Lot, and how they left Ur of the Chaldees and were on their way to a place they didn't know. M. L. talked about the relationships between the different patriarchs and the overlapping of their great age, the philosophy and teaching that they shared with generation after generation. From the way he talked about Terah, the boy supposed there was much more in the Bible about him than there actually is. When M. L. referred to Abraham's stop in Haran, he said several times that Terah died in He'an, omitting the r. The boy, who had never heard a New Yorker talk before, thought. How can Elder Andreasen say that Terah died in heaven when the Bible says nobody is going to die in heaven? He poked his mother, inquiring what M. L. was expounding. She smiled just a little as she whispered, "Haran." That was enough.

M. L. liked to visit with his ministers individually while they were working together, pitching tents for camp meeting. A preacher who was just then beginning his ministry relates, "He enjoyed catching a young worker by surprise by asking a question that might not be too easy to answer immediately. He came to me and asked, 'How would you


define, in one word, "soul"?' I thought a moment and replied, 'Personality.' He looked at the ground meditatively a few moments, then replied, 'I don't think they can catch you up on that,' and went his way—possibly to try his question on someone else."

His work sometimes posed questions M. L. was unable to answer. Once he was asked to pray for a teacher who had lived under the Andreasen roof more than once. Now she was laid low by cancer. It seemed clear that here was a case where the Lord could intervene. In the course of his prayer M. L. said, "Father, if You can't see fit to grant our request we will try to understand. But it won't be easy." They had to try hard, for she did not recover.

M. L. sometimes told of an experience that just the telling of it made him sweat a little. It concerned an attractive young Bible instructor and a young man who proved to be more interested in her personally than in the Bible. He was an intelligent, industrious, most eligible fellow who determined that the Bible instructor should become his wife. She assured him she would not marry a person not of her faith, but he persisted. Finally she said, "If Elder Andreasen will perform the ceremony, I'll marry you."

M. L. was sorely tempted. This was such an ideal young man, and what good judgment he showed in choosing such a fine girl. But he lacked the most important qualification. M. L. knew he must let principle guide. Therefore he reluctantly stated that he would have to decline. Instantly the girl said, "I knew you would never do it." M. L. never forgot how nearly he had been swept off his feet.

Some months before the Milwaukee session of the General Conference in 1926, Andreasen received a formal invitation to present an eight-o'clock devotional sermon. He went home all excited. "Just think, I've been invited to give a talk at General Conference!"


Annie waited a moment, then said very quietly, "Just one?"

M. L. loved to tell that story. "That was just the best thing for me!" he would end up. Indeed, it was by no means the only time he would get all blown up about something and Annie would come along and prick his ego, bringing him down to size.

He'd come home and say, "Well, Mother, what did you think of the sermon today?"

"You had a good text, Father."

One time at camp meeting, after he preached a sermon, he asked, "Mother, what did you think of that?"

"I didn't think it was very good." In the afternoon he spoke again. At the close she said, "There, now. That was better."

During his years as Minnesota Conference president, M. L. was asked to prepare Sabbath school lessons on Isaiah for three quarters. He also wrote a commentary that was published each quarter to accompany the lessons. Teenagers of 1928 and 1929 may remember puzzling over how to pronounce the name Andreasen that appeared on each paper-covered volume of Isaiah, the Gospel Prophet. Regardless of how his name might be pronounced, even youth recognized a scholar.

At Issue Index   Table of Contents   Previous   Next