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Topic: The Women of Aspenland
Article: Elsie (Schmidt) Jesperson
Date Posted: October 2/2012
Main District: Wetaskiwin
Decades: 1920's to 1990's
During Elsie's early childhood, they did not have modern conveniences such as electricity, running water, or travel. Growing up, her chores included feeding baby chicks, ducks and geese, gathering eggs, helping with hand-milking the cows, weeding the garden and helping with household chores.
Elsie Jespersen was house mother of Bethany Homes for Children for forty-four years. During this time she cared for a steady stream of children, as many as fifty-five at one time.
Elsie and Harvey Jespersen took over the crudely refurbished army barracks on April 1, 1948. They were determined to create a loving home where spiritual as well as physical needs of children would be met. Conditions were basic, at first, with no running water and a boiler that had to be stoked by hand. Although they had no financial backing, they agreed they would never refuse a child because of lack of funds.
Elsie grew up on a farm and this background became increasingly useful as the Bethany farm expanded to include poultry, pigs, dairy cattle and a large garden. Elsie learned to sew at an early age by making dresses for her dolls from scraps, a skill she put to use when outfitting children who arrived at Bethany with very few clothes.
Of all the difficulties, the hardest thing for Elsie was saying good-bye to the children: "We walked around with lumps in our throats for days after. Finally I said to myself, 'Look, these are not your children to keep. You knew that from the beginning.' I had to make up my mind then, that when they came, we would love them, and when they left we knew God would provide for their care elsewhere."
Information compiled in 1997.
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