Miss Andy 

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  • **Continuing our theme of mentors in Elisabeth’s life, we are delighted to share this “visit” with a most remarkable, influential and godly friend and teacher—Miss Andy, from the Hampden DuBose Academy in Florida.

    When the Tamiami Champion pulled into the Orlando railroad station one hot day in September 1941, a very tall, slim, dark-eyed lady in white was waiting for a new pupil of Hampden DuBose Academy. She picked me out at once—a tall, very shy blonde girl of fourteen, wearing—of all things in Florida in September—a beige felt hat (we all wore hats in those days when we went anywhere), a blue wool dress, and brown suede pumps. 

    “Hello!” said the lady. “You’re Betty Howard and I’m Miss Andy. We’re so glad you’re here!” 

    She took my suitcase, led me to a station wagon, and drove me to the seedy old hotel in which the academy was then housed. This was the beginning of three years of boarding school—a school the like of which no one would believe. There were about a hundred students, one third of whom were m.k.’s (missionary kids), one-third p.k.’s (preachers’ kids), and one-third o.k.’s (ordinary kids). I was one of the last category. The school had been founded by Pierre Wilds DuBose, who had been a missionary kid in China and had a heart for those like him who were separated, often at an early age, from their parents. They made a home for all of us. All the teachers, I found, were unsalaried—living day and night in the dormitories during the school year, in cabins at a camp in North Carolina in the summer. Perhaps some occasionally were allowed a short visit home. 

    Miss Andy lived in the dormitory with us girls. Daily we saw lived out the high principle of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” She, like the other teachers, showed us the meaning of sacrifice. She laid down her life for us. Love always means sacrifice. 

    Miss Andy was a woman with a gentle and quiet spirit, a radiant smile, total selflessness. She not only taught school. She planned the menus, did the shopping and countless other errands. When the school lost its only two paid employees, the cooks, it was Miss Andy who took over the task—not neglecting her teaching responsibilities. How was it possible? God knows. 

    In 1950, Dr. DuBose asked me to come to teach public speaking, taking the place for one semester of another teacher, his daughter, who was having a baby. I was Miss Andy’s roommate during those months and was allowed to call her Jane. Far more intimately than I had had opportunity to observe before, I now saw, in humblest ways, what true sacrifice means. Jane was available to any and all who needed her, at any time of the day or night. She and Dottie (Miss Hill) were often working on whatever needed to be worked on. If the phone rang at 3:00 A.M., it was Jane who answered it. If someone needed to be driven somewhere, Jane was the chauffeur. She had to be up and dressed by 7:00 A.M. or earlier, seven days a week. 

    She taught Bible classes not only to students but to Mrs. DuBose’s church women. She prepared their elegant teas and the Christmas buffet supper—a lavish affair to which friends of the school were invited and students were trained (severely, beforehand) to serve. 

    Jane was—will always be—to me an icon of lovingkindness and quiet, hidden selflessness. On the last day of her life she taught school as she had done for fifty nine years, and then cooked dinner. Like the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ head, she did what she could. As I review the life of my beloved Jane it seems to me that she did what she couldn’t! But we know from whence came her help—the Lord who made heaven and earth, the Lord who promised, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

    **Excerpt originally published in the Sept/Oct 1997 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.