Not a Wasted Moment


When I was a child, I didn’t like my grandma’s favorite hymn.

Anna Nelson Dybdahl was remarkable­­ in many ways.­ As a young, single woman, she left home to become the first Adventist schoolteacher in Canada. Next, she sailed off to the Society Islands, learned French, and taught school for five years on Tahiti and Raiatea.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Hi Tom, it’s been many years since the Far Eastern Academy days in Singapore where I first met you (I hope I am not mistaken). Not sure you remember but I certainly remember you and that name Dybdahl! We have both come a long way to know that God has never not loved us infinitely!
Franklin Po

Hey Tom…old (in the truest sense of the word, since we both are) La Sierra classmate. You had me until I got to the paragraph on misspending evenings bashing groups, ideas, philosophies, etc. that are different from your own. I could understand it, I guess, if you have no children or grandchildren. But since I do, I feel an obligation to be ‘woke’ in the sense that not only do I recognize some of the problems and atrocities in the world, including those within our own denomination, but I also need and want to be able to discuss them with my family…particularly those who are younger and are asking questions about how we should ‘be’ in this sin-filled world, given our belief about how Jesus said we are to live.

Perhaps I misunderstood your intent in that paragraph, but if it means sticking my head in the sand or just ignoring malfeasance, I can’t quite go along. Having said that, I do agree that we should not ruin the close of each day with blood pressure raising diatribes…and I do also agree that we can ‘grow where we’re planted’ in a meaningful way to share God’s love. Hope you are doing well!



Baptized in my early teens, I did not grow up with Tom’s earliest memories. And my grandmother was more of an incipient liberal who brought me into Adventism (refused to remove her wedding ring in the baptistry–clap), my reading of MESSAGES gave me a comparable guilt trip to Tom’s. Fortunately, I grew through it and out of it, so to speak, but do still embrace many of those foundational attitudes! Nice piece Tom.


Hi Linda, good to hear from you–it’s been a very long time!–and thanks for your thoughts. I could definitely have been clearer in the paragraph that troubled you. I didn’t intend to advocate silence or an ostrich approach to the serious problems and divisions we’re facing. Rather, I meant to suggest we should engage and criticize, not with anger and cynicism, but from a place of caring and seeking to understand. In these very troubled times, I think it’s too easy to forget that we can disagree without being nasty, or that people can be wrong without being evil. Keep up the good fight! Tom

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Hi Franklin, and thanks for writing. My memory isn’t what it used to be, but I do remember you and my Singapore days fondly. I hope all is well with you. Tom