Friday, August 28, 2009

A Life Well Lived

Alice Page, the oldest of six children, was born on a farm three miles north of O'Neill, Nebraska on August 17, 1915. At the age of nine, she and her family moved to the Southwest Missouri town of West Plains where again, her father was engaged in farming. When Alice was twelve years of age, the family returned to O'Neill where she continued her schooling. She graduated  in 1931 at the age of fifteen, the Valedictorian of her class of twenty-two students.

The career options of most women in those days would be a teacher or a secretary. Alice hadn't taken typing, so she "expected to be a teacher." At that time, a high school education was sufficient to teach school---she had completed two years of normal training and had received a third grade teaching certificate. The fall of 1931 found Alice teaching in a rural school in Atkinson, Nebraska. Things did not progress as Alice had hoped---she became ill and after recovering returned to the classroom, but there were 'discipline problems'. She knew she "was not doing a good job of teaching" and "didn't know how to manage a classroom". She wrote a letter of resignation to the school board and on March 1, 1932, she "returned home very discouraged and feeling like a failure."

She resided in the family home until the age of twenty when she was hired as a cook and went to live on a ranch north of O'Neill. "I knew how to cook, and was successful." Twenty years later, she returned to the teaching profession, and taught in various country schools around O'Neill for eighteen years. (She taught my own husband when he was in Kindergarten.)

Alice then began working for what is now North Star Services, assisting handicapped adults. She retired from this profession at the age of sixty-four in 1979. By this time, she and her mother--now a widow--had moved into O'Neill. For the next ten to eleven years, Alice was involved with Women's Aglow, a world wide Christian Women's Organization. In November of 1983, she had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. during an Aglow conference. She was "so excited to go to Washington, D.C." In fact, six months earlier, she had dreamt that she was in the White House, and on this trip, that dream was fulfilled.

Her interests and hobbies are reading, "an avid reader...I read anything worthwhile that I can get my hands on," and the accordion. She acquired her first accordion in 1954, and learned how to play using the instruction booklet that accompanied it. She plays the instrument at her church, the Full Gospel Church of Ewing, Nebraska.

Alice could also be considered a 'globe trotter', as she has visited Russia fourteen times. Alice relates the following with a smile and the comment, "This is an interesting story..." In 1995 while riding to church in Ewing with the Dick Wallace family, Dick asked her, "How would you like to go to Russia?" (Wallace had been traveling to Russia with a group for a couple of years on mission trips to distribute Russian language Bibles.) Alice said, she "kind of took that (question) as an invitation, but afterwards Dick admitted that he was just trying to make conversation." Her answer? "Well, I'm almost 80 years old." She didn't think anymore about it until the next morning when she was reading her Bible. She had just started reading in Exodus about Moses and the Burning Bush. "And as I closed my Bible, I felt distinctly that the Lord said to me, "Moses was 80 years old." "And I began to pray about it, and the more I prayed, the more I knew I was supposed to go to Russia."

Her first trip was that October with the United by the Cross Ministries, headed by Dick Wallace. The first several years the group (consisting of about 5-6 individuals from the O'Neill area) would pick up Bibles in Moscow and take them to the town of Ludinovo, which is 300 miles southwest of Moscow. Their usual route has been to fly to Moscow, take the train to Bryansk, and then Russian friends would pick them up for the final forty mile trek to Ludinovo. The group has always worked in the villages surrounding this town of approximately 41,400 (2005 estimates) citizens. Other than distributing Bibles, they have also handed out medical supplies to hospitals, and gifts to children in orphanages and schools. On Sundays, they would go out in villages with Russian musicians and give their testimonies. On one occasion, when the mission group was holding an outdoor meeting in a park, a group of Russian Orthodox leaders argued with them. The Russian Orthodox community "had co-operated with the government through the Communist years and they felt like they were the only church that had the right to be in Russia."

Currently, there are three villages around Ludinovo that have active church groups. The mission team visits with pastors and churches to encourage them. "In one instance, a pastor was trying to get work started in a village and he arranged for us to have a service in the village. Some man from the village went around to all the houses and warned the people not to attend our service. The result was we had a good crowd." They have been helping a man build a church who had been a pastor in the underground church all through the Communist years. "According to Russian law, they don't recognize a group as a church unless they have a physical address." Through the generosity of givers, a log cabin has been purchased and carpenters were hired to remodel the building. On this recent trip, the progress had been revealed: wide boards were in place for flooring, plastered walls had been painted a glossy white, and there were boards for benches.

The mission group has also seen the fruits of their endeavors... a woman from one of the villages took it upon herself to begin an outreach to the homeless people who lived around a train station in Bryansk. She, along with a few helpers would provide a once weekly meal of soup and bread, do minor medical procedures such as bandaging wounds, and pass out Bibles. They suspect the open sores that many of the people suffer from are the result of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which happened nearby.

I asked Alice if she had any goals or anything she would still like to do: "There's not much left to attempt at this stage in my life...I had my 94th birthday in Russia this year...celebrated with a cake covered with cherries on top and one candle in the middle...appreciated it." Any unfulfilled dreams? "Well, I never got married." "I would have liked to have been married but it didn't work out." Overall, what would you say about your life, are you happy, content? "I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 5 and 1/2 years old. I've always loved the Lord and we've always gone to church...folks never missed church unless somebody was sick or the car wouldn't start. Been a lifetime habit with me."

Alice recently completed a written history of her family, which I have had the privilege to read...I think the final paragraph that Alice penned, beautifully sums up her perspective on life: "Our parents were always faithful in Sunday School and church attendance. Whenever the church doors were open, we were all there. And our parents set an example of Christian living---they paid tithes in the hardest of times; they were scrupulously honest, hospitable, and trusted God in all circumstances. As far as I know, all six of us children have followed their example. May we all, like them, be an example and an influence for God and for the right in this world until the trumpet of God shall sound the resurrection call."

And that is a life of service, a life well-lived.



  1. WOW. That is so cool. I bet you enjoyed interviewing her. She sounds like a really neat lady.
    94 years young!

  2. Alice, you have been a saintly influence on people all your life. I'm 59 years old now and you were my Kindergarden teacher. You have always been a positive example to me. Thank you!


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