From the South Pacific Division
Many of the following stories were originally published in the fourth quarter 2009
Adventist Mission for Youth and Adults.
A Changed Heart
He Worked Among Cannibals
Papua New Guinea
Hope and a Future
Papua New Guinea
Longing for Love
My Brother's Wish
Nothing to Lose
Fiji and the Solomon Islands
A Passion to Teach
Fiji and the Solomon Islands
The Power of Forgiveness
Fiji and the Solomon Islands
Ryan's Birthday Mission
Samson Wises Up
Stories From the South Pacific
Taming the Brute
The Unexpected Church
Papua New Guinea
The Visible Church
Fourteen-year-old Veresa listened quietly as the doctor spoke to his parents. “Your son has a hole in his heart,” the doctor said. “That’s why he gets so many headaches and why he’s tired and can’t run like other boys. But a team of doctors from Australia can repair his heart and give him a chance at a normal, healthy life. I’ll put him on the list for surgery when this team arrives.”
Veresa lives in a village in Fiji, an island nation in the South Pacific. He was relieved that doctors could do something to help him feel well. He tried not to worry about the surgery and focused instead on hope for a better life after his heart was repaired. He looked forward to the day that the medical team would come and perform his surgery. He just wanted to be well.
New Health, New Life
Veresa’s surgery was a success, but he remained in the hospital for a month while he recovered. His parents couldn’t stay with him in he hospital, so his nurse often stopped by to chat when she didn’t have another patient to care for. The two got to know each other well, and Veresa looked forward to her visits and chats to cheer him up. Often she talked to him about Jesus and many things from the Bible.
Veresa had grown up attending church with his parents every Sunday, but he had never heard some of the things that his nurse talked about and read to him from the Bible. Two things in particular stood out in his mind: the Sabbath and unclean foods.
At last Veresa was able to leave the hospital and return home. He remembered what his nurse had said, and on the first Sabbath home he decided to go to the nearby Adventist church. He wasn’t sure what his parents would think of his going to this church, so he didn’t tell them. He dressed in everyday clothes and tucked his dress clothes into a bag. Then he changed into church clothes when he arrived at the church.
Veresa found the pastor and peppered him with questions about the Sabbath and other things the faithful nurse had told him about.
Why Are You Doing This?
Veresa attended the Adventist church for several weeks before he decided to tell his family where he was going. They were even more stunned when he told them that he wanted to become a Seventh-day Adventist. “Why would you leave our church?” they wanted to know. He tried to explain what he had learned in the hospital and from the pastor. He wanted them to understand that he wasn’t leaving their church; he was following God’s way.
“If you insist on going to this church,” his father said, “then don’t come back home.” Veresa was saddened by their response to his desire to know God, but he quietly packed his few clothes and his school books into his bag and left for church.
After church Veresa told the pastor that his parents had told him to leave, and that he had nowhere to go. “You can live with us,” the pastor said. Veresa was baptized and stayed with the pastor and his family for five months. Every Sabbath he walked by his family’s home on the way to and from church. But when he stopped to talk to them, they sent him away.
Then one Monday morning Veresa’s parents went to visit the pastor. They asked the pastor to send Veresa back home. Gladly Veresa returned home, for he had missed his family. And they welcomed him back warmly. They didn’t try to force him to attend church with them or to change his mind about his new beliefs.
A Door of Hope
Veresa shared what he was learning at church with his parents. And when the Adventist pastor announced a one-month seminar, Veresa invited his parents, his aunt, and his sister to attend the meetings with him. The entire family attended all the meetings. Veresa’s heart swelled with hope that his family would join him in the Adventist Church. But when he invited them to follow God’s truths and be baptized, they refused.
“To this day they’ve not become Adventists,” Veresa says. “They keep the Sabbath just as I do, from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, but they don’t go to church with me except on special occasions. We have a good relationship, and I hope that one day soon they will join God’s family and we can worship together again.”
Pray for Veresa and his family. And remember that your mission offerings help give people around the world an opportunity to hear God’s truths and accept His love in their lives.
► Fiji is a nation of about 800 islands located about 1,900 miles east of Australia. The largest islands are mountainous and are covered with tropical vegetation and forests. The coral reefs and atolls that make up the remaining islands are popular tourist attractions.
►Just under a million people live in Fiji. Roughly half of the people are ethnic Fijian of Melanesian descent, and the remaining half are of East Indian descent whose ancestors came to work in the sugar plantations that prospered in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
► While most ethnic Fijians consider themselves Christians, a large proportion of the Indian population has clung to its traditional religion. Only a few have embraced Christianity.
I grew up in an Adventist family in Brazil. But my faith was shaken when my parents divorced and my grandfather suddenly died. How could a loving God take him from me like this? I wondered.
I stopped attending church and drifted with my non-Adventist friends. My family tried to reason with me, but I didn’t want them telling me what to do. I wanted to live my own life. So during my last year in university, Cezar, my boyfriend, and I decided to escape as far away from Brazil as possible. We moved to New Zealand.
However, our new life in New Zealand was not as glamorous as we had imagined. We lived in a van and could barely afford to buy bread. We moved to Australia and found jobs in a restaurant. We worked like crazy to pay the bills, but I hated it. I missed home and my family. I was lonely and miserable. But my pride wouldn’t let me go home.
A Change of Heart
When I got pregnant, I missed my mother more than ever. She begged me to come home to visit, so I went. I apologized for the way I had acted. My mom is my rock; she helped me feel strong again.
Reconciled with my family, I returned to Australia a happier person. I found an Adventist church and started attending. The people loved and welcomed me, even though I had no decent clothes to wear. I felt safe there and could be myself as I worked my way back to God. I felt content.
A few months after our son was born, Cezar and I moved back to New Zealand to build a new life. In time I found a little group of believers that have helped feed my soul. I took our son and our new baby daughter to church, and they loved it. I began to appreciate the Sabbath as I never had before. When I was younger I thought that the Sabbath was the day I couldn’t do things. I couldn’t watch television, couldn’t play with my friends. I just had to sit and listen to sermons I didn’t understand. But suddenly I began to see Sabbath as a day of physical rest and spiritual feasting. Cezar didn’t go to church with us, but he knew how much my faith meant to me and supported me.
Then one day I injured my knee while skiing. I was in terrible pain. The doctors put my leg in a cast from my hip to my ankle. But my knee swelled up, and I had to return to the hospital. Doctors said that I had a broken knee. They replaced the cast and sent me home. I couldn’t walk or work.
I dreaded the thought of wearing a cast for six weeks and not being able to get around. But the church members rallied around me and helped me in so many ways! Church members brought dinner and stayed to eat with us, and our pastor and his wife visited often. The pastor arranged to hold the midweek prayer meeting at my house so I could attend. It was then that I began to see God’s blessings in my disability. My husband sometimes joined us for midweek prayer service, and he became more comfortable with my faith as he got to know the church members. Then a girlfriend asked me about God, and I had time to study the Bible with her. As I saw these blessings, my attitude toward my injury changed.
Six weeks later when I returned to have the cast removed, the doctor examined my knee again and told me that it had not been broken. I was sure that it had healed, but he showed me the scans and insisted that my knee had never been broken. He could not explain it, but I realized that God had used this injury to work out a plan for my life.
Attitude of Gratitude
Now I thank God for each day God gives me. I’ve learned that problems can be blessings in disguise. And that even the simplest things are blessings from God. I pray that my husband will see God’s love and beauty and will join me in worshipping in the Adventist church. I thank God for believers who prayed for me, who cared for me, who loved me, even when I refused to acknowledge God in my life. And I thank God for my little church, a Global Mission church plant in our little city. Most of all I thank God for every member around the world who cares about others and shares God’s love in their lives and through their mission offerings. God is using you to make a difference in someone’s life.
► New Zealand lies southeast of Australia. It consists of two main islands and several smaller islands. Most of the 4 million people who live in New Zealand live on North Island. The largest city, Auckland, has just over 1.1 million people.
► New Zealand has a temperate climate, rich soil and mineral deposits, and a high standard of living.
►The original settlers of New Zealand were from Polynesia and came to be known as the Maori. They make up less than one tenth of
He Worked Among Cannibals
Along with pioneering Adventist mission work in Papua New Guinea, Len Barnard flew thousands of miles in the Andrew Stewart, the first missionary plane officially owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter will help several mission projects in the South Pacific Division of which Papua New Guinea is part. To learn more about the projects, click here.
Lonisa, James, and Ashleigh.
What can a school in a disadvantaged, sometimes troubled neighborhood do to change the lives of people? Plenty!
In 2005 riots broke out in a housing development in Sydney, Australia. Helicopters hovered overhead and police combed the streets. The neighborhood looked like a war zone. In the midst of this troubled region of the city stands Macarthur Adventist college, a primary and secondary school that is a sentinel for God.
A large portion of the school’s student body comes from this troubled neighborhood. And three quarters of the school’s students come from non-Adventist homes. Some parents work two or three jobs to pay their children’s school fees. They are drawn by the spirit of family and the love of Christ that the staff and students model. Principal Jill Pearce sums it up this way: “Our aim is to give children a hope and a future, to know they are loved and that they can achieve.”
A Dream Becomes Reality
For years the school’s staff has wanted to reach out more effectively to the community by planting a church on its campus. But funds just weren’t there. The staff held Friday night praise services, and 40 young people came every week. “When are you going to start a church?” students would ask, for the nearest Adventist church was too far away for the children to attend. The need for a church became urgent.
Chaplain André led worship on Sabbaths in the school’s science lab until a donor gave the school a prefabricated classroom block that became home for the church. Close to 100 adults and children worship together here. Most are students and their families.
What difference does this school make in the lives of its students?
James first learned about Macarthur Adventist College when a friend invited him to attend the Friday evening program. “I was surprised how much fun Christians could actually have while worshipping!” James says.
James was having trouble with bullies at his school and wanted a change. He asked his parents to let him enroll at Macarthur. They weren’t sure they could afford the tuition, but they talked with the principal and worked out a plan. “There are no bullies at this school,” James says. “We’re family; it’s a good place, a safe place to be.”
Ashleigh is James’ friend. She was having problems in school too. James’ mother talked to Ashleigh’s mother about the school, and recently Ashleigh enrolled as well.
“I had some friends who weren’t good examples, and I was heading in the wrong direction,” she says. “My mom asked me to consider studying at Macarthur. I visited the school and enrolled. I’ve changed so much since I came here. I’ve learned to love Jesus and to pray.
“My mom drives a school bus and works in the cafeteria to support the school. I never went to church before I came to this school. Now I love it.”
Sue found Macarthur when she tried to enroll her sons in another private school. “I’m glad my children are here, where they’re not exposed to some of the behaviors my neighbors’ children face every day.”
When Sue’s sons asked to go to church on Sabbaths, she dropped them off. They were so excited about church that she decided to find out what was happening inside. She visited the worship services and kept attending. “What I find at church helps me in my spiritual journey,” she says.
“I’m happy that my children and I are going to church together. We love it, and I need the support—something I don’t think I’d get elsewhere.” The chaplain adds that Sue brings people to church with her who have no Christian background. One friend started coming after church just to talk. Then she came for lunch. Eventually she came at 11:00, and now she comes early and even helps in the kitchen.”
Last year the school took several students to Papua New Guinea to work in a village. Even though the students themselves come from disadvantaged homes, they experienced an even poorer life in the village and wanted to return and help. Three students want to return to Papua New Guinea after they graduate to teach or work in the local hospital, and another group plans to go next year to help build an Adventist high school.
Adventist schools around the world are truly mission schools. They teach strong Christian values and plant seeds of faith that children take with them in life. Your weekly mission offerings help support these schools and give hope and a future to thousands around the world.
► Australia is the smallest continent in the world and the largest country in the South Pacific Division. It is a largely secular nation with
a high standard of living.
► This isolated land is home to some of the world’s most unusual animals, such as the kangaroo, the platypus, and the koala.
Lloyd Sane is a teenager in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Although his father grew up as an Adventist, he left his faith, and his family didn’t attend church. Then his friend Isaac invited Lloyd to attend church with him.
Isaac is older than Lloyd, but he treated Lloyd with respect and showed God’s love through his kindness. “Church is fun,” Isaac promised. “We have lots of young people, and they will welcome you.” So Lloyd agreed to go.
A Warm Welcome
On Sabbath Isaac walked to Lloyd’s home, and the two boys started out for church. Still, as Isaac and Lloyd approached the church, Lloyd became a bit nervous. After all, Lloyd’s family didn’t attend church, and it was new to him. “Isaac introduced me to several of his friends, and the boys made me feel comfortable.”
Isaac joined Lloyd and the other young people for the youth worship service, and Lloyd truly enjoyed it. He had never realized that church could be fun!
As the two boys walked home after the service, Isaac smiled and said, “So, did you have a good time?” Lloyd nodded, for he truly did enjoy church. “Then come with me next week,” the older boy urged.
Expanding the Invitation
From that week on Lloyd went to church with his friend Isaac. Lloyd wanted to share what he was learning with his family, and invited his parents and brothers and sisters to go with him. Lloyd’s mother was happy to let the children go to church, for she knew they were involved in something good. But she worked on Sabbaths and had difficulties getting time off to go to church. Father owned his own business and worked on Sabbaths.
The children often returned home from church about the time their mother returned from work. They would sit around and talk about what they had learned in church.
For the next year Lloyd took his brothers and sisters to church. When one or another of the children didn’t want to go to church, Lloyd encouraged them to go as a family.
Lloyd joined Pathfinders, and his brothers and sisters joined Adventurers. During Pathfinders Lloyd learned about family worship and decided to have family worship in his home. Someone gave him two devotional books, and he called the family together before breakfast and before dinner to read a devotional and pray together. They enjoyed singing the songs that the younger children had learned in Sabbath School.
A Wake-up Call
But still Lloyd wasn’t content. He wanted his parents to go to church with the family. He often invited them, and both Mom and Dad said they’d come. Mom arranged her schedule so she could attend one Sabbath.
Mother had to go on a business trip. She promised that she would go to church with the children when she returned. But when she returned home, she became ill and spent two weeks in the hospital. Lloyd visited her and prayed for her. He shared Bible verses with her and encouraged her to trust God. Sometimes Lloyd’s sister went with him to the hospital. The two would sing songs of faith for their mother.
During her illness, Mother had to think about her family and her spiritual life. She felt bad that she was not setting a good example for her children by going to church with them. And she was more than a little curious about what made her children so faithful in their church attendance. Before she was released she promised her children that she would go to church with them as soon as she was able.
Keeping a Promise
Mother kept her promise, and the first Sabbath after she was released from the hospital, she went to church with her children. It wasn’t easy for her to juggle her work, her family, and God; and she almost lost her job when she told her boss that she could no longer work on Sabbaths. But God worked it out, and Mother now has Sabbaths off.
Recently Lloyd’s mother was baptized, and Lloyd is preparing for baptism too. Mother is grateful that her son persisted in inviting her to give her life to God. She in turn urges her husband to return to the church of his childhood so the family can be united in faith.
Lloyd rejoices that his friend Isaac led him to church and that God used him to invite the rest of his family. Mission starts at home and spreads outward in ever wider circles of influence. Our mission offerings make it possible to share our faith with those we may never meet on this earth.
► Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an island nation located north of Australia. Most of the people of PNG live on the main island of New Guinea, which is shared with the Indonesian province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya).
► The mountainous terrain and tropical climate makes travel difficult in this region, but small aircraft work well. In 2005 part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped purchase a new plane to serve these people.
I was a career woman with great hopes for the future. But life was difficult after Communism fell in my native Ukraine. Some friends invited me to travel to Dubai to work. I scraped together the airfare and arrived with just $7 in my pocket. I found a job working for a Japanese company as a Russian-speaking marketing manager. Suddenly life was good. I had everything I wanted, but I felt an emptiness in my life.
I grew up during Communist times in Ukraine, and my grandmother feared telling me about God. But in my heart I knew God existed, and I had searched for Him. That need for God in my life returned in Dubai. But I didn’t know how to find Him.
I met people from all countries, all faiths. I questioned them about their beliefs. I learned a lot, but I still didn’t find what I was looking for.
I was lonely and wished I could have a nice man like some of my girlfriends had. Not just any man, however. I wanted a man with high standards. Friends introduced me to men, but none of them fit what I was looking for.
So when a friend offered to introduce me to his friend, I was not sure I wanted to meet him. I knew many of this man’s friends already, and none of them appealed to me. So I ignored him.
Months passed. Then my friend invited me to a party. I had just returned from overseas and was exhausted. I tried to get out of going, but my friend refused to take no for an answer. So finally I agreed to go to the party just to appease him.
My friend introduced me to the friend he wanted me to meet, Dragiša. I sensed that Dragiša was different. As we talked I sensed that he was special. And before I left the party, we exchanged telephone numbers.
I couldn’t get Dragiša out of my mind. My friends at work noticed that I looked different. “I’m in love,” I told them. They were surprised, for I was so picky about men. They thought I wasn't sentimental enough to ever fall in love.
Dragiša and I spent lots of time together. But whenever I invited Dragiša out on Friday evenings or Saturdays, the times I didn’t have to work, he would turn me down. “Why?” I asked.
“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist,” he said. I thought “Adventist” was a political group or a business or something. But one evening at dinner Dragiša started talking about God. I listened and asked him all the questions I had wondered about for years. Dragiša answered each one, and his answers made sense to me. I forgot where we were, forgot everyone around us as we talked for hours.
Meet the Parents
When Dragiša’s parents came to visit him in Dubai, Dragiša warned me that his parents had never liked his girlfriends. But when we met, we were quite comfortable and quickly became friends. By the end of the evening they were calling me daughter.
I spent every spare moment with Dragiša and his parents. Dragiša’s father was a pastor. I peppered him with questions, and he answered them all. As I saw how God fit into their lives, I realized that God was becoming more real in my own life. My relationship with God was growing, for I had found a new family, God’s family. I accepted Christ and was baptized. Soon Dragiša and I were engaged.
A New Career
But things were not easy. I received enticing job offers from companies, but turned them down because I would have to work on Sabbath. After we had married, Dragiša and I left Dubai and had settled in New Zealand, where Dragiša’s business has an office. We joined a local Adventist church and met several other Russian-speaking Adventists.
The little Russian-speaking group meets in an English church, but we’re growing. Recently we were blessed with our own Russian-speaking pastor to help us establish a new church in New Zealand. We have great plans! We want to start a Russian-language TV program and a Hope Café that serves healthful food in an atmosphere where people can meet and attend seminars.
I have left my career so I can devote my life to my family and the church. I want other people who are searching as I was to know that God can make a difference in their lives.
Your mission offerings help searching people find Christ. They also help establish new congregations of believers around the world.
► New Zealand’s relatively small population (just over 4 million) includes thousands of immigrants. While most are from the South Pacific islands, a significant number have come from Eastern Europe and Asia in search of a better life. Immigrants are often more open to exploring their faith than those who have lived in a country for generations.
► Global Mission pioneers have been commissioned to plant churches among these minority and immigrant population groups. The church plant that Ninel and her husband attend receives help from Global Mission as well as the mission offerings to build its new congregation.
My Brother’s Wish
Ashika lives in Fiji. She grew up in an eastern Indian home where many gods were worshipped. Her parents had divorced, and Ashika and her brother lived with their grandparents. Then her father married an Adventist woman, Ashika and her brother were introduced to Christ. Soon the brother and sister gave their hearts to God and were baptized into the Adventist Church. Their choice to follow Christ caused a deep rift within their extended family, but the teenagers were deeply devoted to God.
Then Ashika’s brother became sick and was diagnosed with bone cancer. Ashika stayed with her brother in the hospital whenever she could. One day he told her, “I won’t live to become a pastor, Ashika. You must take my place.”
Ashika was devastated by her brother’s death. Her brother’s last wish troubled her, for she had planned to become a teacher. She wasn’t interested in studying theology. What can I—an Indian woman—do with a theology degree? she wondered.
Her parents encouraged her to apply to study theology at Fulton College, so she did. She hoped that the school of theology wouldn’t accept her. But her parents were praying that God’s will would be done in her life. When she learned that she had been accepted into the theology department, she realized that this was God’s will. She surrendered to God.
“Now I know that this wasn’t just my brother’s wish; this is God’s calling,” she says. “I rest in God’s will and wait for Him to show me His plan.”
Ashika’s decision to study theology in Fiji means stepping out against a culture where women are not encouraged to be leaders in the church. But she is willing to follow the path God is laying for her. She is certain that He will guide her all the way.
Roughly half the population of Fiji is Indian, only a handful are Christians. Pray for this largely unreached population. And remember that your mission offerings support evangelism in Fiji and around the world.
Ashika Chand has graduated from Fulton college and is working in Fiji.
I was born November 8, 1899, the second of four children to Alfred and Kathryn Chapman. My earliest recollections are of life on a farm owned by my father, situated on the banks of the Lachlan River in western New South Wales.
My parents become members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when my mother’s father, Thomas Kent, bought a book called Great Controversy from a colporteur. When my grandfather read the book he became convinced that he was keeping the wrong day as Sabbath. His family thought him mad, but one night in his bedroom he saw the fourth commandment written in letters of fire on his ceiling, and underneath were the words, “If you know these things happy are ye if you do them.” That was final. Grandfather kept the next seventh day as his Sabbath and for the next two or three years worshiped alone, spending the day in the hills that surrounded his home. However, prayer and faith brought their rewards and one by one the whole of his family, along with their families and many of their close neighbours, worshiped on Sabbath and formed the first church over the ranges in New South Wales.
My grandfather, hearing of another church in Sydney, went down to find out more about his new-found faith. Before returning home he was baptized in the Ashfield Church. With so many wanting to meet together for worship, a church was built on my father’s property. It was made of mud and straw and plastered over. Here we met Sabbath by Sabbath and studied the Bible as best we could and a happy company we were.
Camp Meeting Days
My mind goes back to the first camp meeting held at Bathurst about one hundred miles from where we lived. We traveled by a covered van drawn by two horses—no motor cars in those days. But my sister, Mary, and I laughed and sang away the hours—sleeping under the railway bridge and eating our evening meal of red salmon and home-made bread—a luxury in our eyes, as we did not yet know about the health message. The meetings brought a great deal of change to the way we lived as we learned to take proper care of our bodies.
One thing that brought a challenge to our church was the need for a church school for our education. My parents turned their front room into a school room until such times as a building could be constructed. Joseph Wells, a young man from Avondale, became the first teacher, and in my mind’s eye I can still see him with his sleeves rolled up, helping my mother prepare food. Because of my age I did not qualify for school until much later. With the arrival of Jean Stevens as teacher, life was just all fun for me. When a school house was erected on Gray’s farm, I commenced school. Along with the three Rs (readin’, ritin’, and rithmetic) our teacher also gave daily teachings of the Bible story. Many of the lessons remain with me to this day.
Childhood on the Farm
Because the Lachlan River periodically flooded and ruined the planted crops, my father sold the river property and moved to a new farm called Meadowbank. Times were not easy, and drought dogged our existence. Many weeks my brother Alf and I had to drive our stock three miles to the river for water, and several times my father found it necessary to destroy his sheep rather than see them die of starvation. After school I helped on the farm, milking and feeding stock and bringing the calves in for the night.
As the young fold of the church grew up, games were organized or a trip into the nearby town of Engoura was planned where our greatest joy was to get a packet of ginger nuts to eat on the way home.
Rita Ford was our third teacher who took the place of Jean Stevens. I loved Jean and became very upset when she fell in love with A. G. Stewart and left for Fiji as a missionary. Rita Ford stayed seven years and did much to mold the characters of the children under her care. Is it any wonder that the children of this school grew up to be ministers, teachers, doctors, nurses, and missionaries?
As my sister reached the age to attend college, she left the farm for Avondale. She then graduated from the Sydney San and then attended a Sydney hospital for her maternity certificate.
When I reached eighteen, I also was sent to college. I guess my parents often wondered how they were going to supply the $35 needed at the year end. Coming from the isolation of the farm, I found college fun and study was only a secondary thought. Yet I did pass my subjects.
Year 1919 brought its problems. A bad form of influenza was beginning to affect the college and the country in general, and the death rate was high. Because I had to pass through Sydney to college, I was taken off the train at Coura and returned home for two or three months until the worst was over. However, on returning later in the term, the college family began to go down with the plague which affected nearly every student. Classes were suspended for weeks. The year 1919 was a wipe out as far as I was concerned.
Returning in 1920, I roomed with Rhoda Petersen. When April 1 approached, we conceived the idea of ringing the school bell at 4 a.m. instead of the regular 5 a.m. to celebrate Fool’s Day. We got and rang the bell loud and long. When the night watchman chased Rhoda all the way to the girls’ dorm, yours truly stood statue like on the porch. The night watchman walked by without seeing me, and so missed one of the culprits. Fortunately the faculty did not discipline us for this prank.
That same year I had made friends with Dorothy White whose parents lived in Sydney, and it was with this dear family that I found a happy break from college life. Dorothy and I were friends for life, and when she passed away last year I realized what a true friend I had lost.
Meeting Norman Ferris
In 1921 I graduated from the Old Missionary course, but being rather unsettled, I decided to return to college to take a business course. It was during this time that I began to think seriously about settling down and that there was “more to life than froth and bubbles.” I had many admirers, but a dark-haired fellow attracted my attention. At the time I was helping the cook in my spare time, and I found it easy to get some special tit-bits to his table. His name was Norman Ferris and his parents had been workers on Lord Howe and Norfolk isles. To look at or talk to someone of the opposite sex at college was absolutely taboo. But love always finds a way and our love grew stronger every day.
Graduating in 1923 I was appointed as a secretary to the wholesale Sanitarium Office on Sussex Street in Sydney. Before taking up my appointment I was invited to visit with Norman’s family on Lord Howe Island which was about four hundred miles east of Sydney. In those days the only connecting link was by Burns Philip’s steamer, the Makambo—a real tramp ship. I survived the trip—only to be told that the only ways to leave the ship were by ladder at the side or by the boat’s sling. I chose the sling. Up and over and upside down I went into a small boat which was bouncing up and down with the swell of the ocean. The Makambo was anchored fast beyond the reef that runs the length of the island, and the blue of the water has to be seen to be believed. All the men vied for the privilege of kissing newcomers to the island. It was evidently a custom in those days, one I was happy to miss out on.
Lord Howe Island is a beautiful gem in the vast Pacific. Two mountains, Gower and Lidgbird, fill the south end of the island. The flat land is lined with miles of white sandy beach. It was a wonderful place for two lovers. However, all things come to an end and I had to be back in Sydney by the middle of January to begin work.
On arrival in Sydney, Norman was met by the president of the New South Wales Conference, Pastor Cole. He asked Norman to fill a vacancy in Wagga Wagga as tent master. This he accepted and it was planned that he return to college the following year to complete his education. This never eventuated, for he was put on the permanent staff the next year. We were engaged to be married October 5, 1925, and I returned to my home at Eugowra to prepare for my wedding which took place at the Concord Church in Sydney with Pastor A. H. Piper officiating.
As my husband was now connected with the Ryde mission under the care of Pastor Whittaker, we secured a house in Ryde at 30 shillings a week. Our furniture consisted of a double stretcher loaned to us by the conference which we used for a bed and three kerosene boxes which when covered served as a dressing table. Friends gave us a table and four chairs along with a large grass mat which covered the floor. But we were happy and I find that life does not consist of the abundance of things which we possess. Those days were busy and a sizable church was raised up in that area to crown our efforts.
About this time an incident occurred which nearly cost me my life. Not feeling well, I consulted a doctor at the Sanitarium who performed a small operation. I was sent home after four days only to almost hemorrhage to death. I was rushed back to the Sanitarium. In those intervening four days Dr. Harrison had arrived from America. Sensing the problem was a probable pregnancy; he operated again and saved my life.
Off to the Mission Field
At the end of 1926 the union conference, as it was then known, asked used to go to the Solomon Islands, subject to having a health clearance. My report was negative and after surgery again I was able to go in March. While waiting to recuperate, my husband and I checked in at the university which was conducting lectures in tropical medicine. We found these lectures very profitable as a great deal of our future work lay in this area.
March 16 found us aboard the steamer for the Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Island, which was the headquarters for our mission service. Aboard were Pastor A. G. Stewart, going out for the union and Pastor and Mrs. Peacock, who were replacing Pastor Wicks. Also as passengers were Norman and Neel Watkins with whom we met up with in future months.
Mrs. Peacock came forward with a sure cure for sea-sickness—a glass of sea water. As we approached the “Heads,” we quickly swallowed this salty contraption—only to find that the sea was glassy calm. And for the sixteen days at sea it remained so.
Arriving at Tulagi, the government port of entry, we found the place in a state of agitation. Two British cadets who were on the island of Malaita collecting taxes were shot dead, and Semi, one of our teachers, met the same fate. An Australian warship was anchored in the harbor, providing a military presence. Because of this Pastor Wicks and Pastor Peacock decided to visit Malaita in case help was needed. We continued on our way to the Marovo Lagoon—calling at various ports, putting off cargo and taking on copra (coconut), the main export of the group of islands.
Learning the Ropes
Finally the Marovo Lagoon came into view. The steamer disgorged us and our meager possessions and we had our first taste of island life. Unfamiliar dark faces and a different language fascinated us until we were motored down by a small launch about four miles to Batuna, the headquarters for our mission. The Barretts, who had lived there several years, divided their house to accommodate us, and what was once their lounge room became our bedroom and lounge. We shared the kitchen.
We found the first essential to survival was to learn the language as no one on the station spoke English except the white workers. We found this exasperating at times, but slowly we began to master the situation and having a cook boy who spoke the dialect helped greatly. My husband taught in the school through an interpreter and in the afternoon supervised the school boys in the mission garden. Here the school was responsible for feeding the students on sweet potatoes, taro, and other foods. If the wild pigs raided the garden, rice was supplied.
The mission also worked a saw mill and produced the timber used to build our first home which was situated on the Motusu peninsula. This took several months. In the meantime, while we still shared house with the Barretts, I became pregnant.
Our weekends were spent mostly leaving the station by canoe and visiting the many villages along the lagoon. Here we were fed hot mushi-mushi from the native ovens, which became the family favourite.
As the months moved on, we had to decide what was best for our expected infant. Malaria had weakened us somewhat and so it was decided that I return to Australia and await my time in my parents’ home. Quinine had turned our once rosy cheeks yellow and the continual bouts I sustained were partly due to the cold weather in Australia.
I was fearful for the health of my baby, but on consulting Dr. Harrison was assured that all was well. On January 15 a beautiful baby girl arrived, 7 lbs. 3 oz. My problem now was my husband had only thought in terms of a son to bless our circle, and a girl had turned up. So to assuage his disappointment I called her Norma.
A green horned mother plus bouts of malaria did not help much in rearing a colicky baby. But I was anxious to get back with my precious bundle to my husband and her daddy. So we left Sydney along with Mrs. Peacock who also had a first infant. As we reached Brisbane two days later, Norma developed a form of gastritis. Since we were in port all day, I contacted a doctor. Upon seeing Norma he said, “You are not going to the tropics with this baby, or she’ll die. You must not go.” I had to leave the Malaita. I knew only one person in Brisbane, a single woman named Lena Cramb, whom I contacted. She introduced me to a friend of hers who took us in while I got in touch with my family in Sydney. My sister, Mary, who was a trained nurse, was coming to my aid. Returning to the ship, I stated my plight to the officers. All my possession, including cot, pram, and nappies were dumped on the Pinkenbar Wharf at ten o’clock at night, and the boat sailed out without me. My sister’s presence was a comfort to me.
After some days we secured passage on another boat going to Sydney. I went straight to the Sydney Sanitarium and put my baby under the eye of the doctors there. Norma was still very colicky and slept poorly. I was so worn out at times that I thought death would be a relief. After several weeks, Dr. Freeman returned from a post graduate course on baby care in Ireland and was up-to-date with my baby’s problem. She immediately took her off the prescribed diet and put her on strained granose gruel at each feed. Immediately there was a change—cleaner motions, better sleep, and happier baby. This mixture continued until she was taking a whole granose with milk, and soon I had a beautiful healthy child. But there was a fly in the ointment.
A Heart-Breaking Choice
The doctor would not agree to her going back to the tropics for a couple of years, so I had to decide on two alternatives. Either leave the baby at home and return to my husband or ask my husband to give up his work in the Solomons and return to us. What a decision to make! I looked at my beautiful curly headed child—should I be able to leave her? Could I? Contacting my husband, he revealed he would resign if I could not part with my child. It was comforting to me that he understood my problem. Then this Bible text came to me full force, “He that loveth father or mother or children more than me is not worthy of Me.” I decided to leave my child.
Fortunately, my sister Mary was single and living at home—and a double certificate nurse. She offered to care for Norma until I returned at furlough time. A better person could not have been found.
The parting was hard and as the steamer pulled out from that wharf my heart was breaking. But I have always maintained that a mother’s love can be selfish if it stands in the way of her child’s best good. My husband was happy to have me back after months of separation and once again in command of domestic affairs.
Things become normal and I busied myself making pretty dresses to send back to my baby. I guessed I must have felt like Hannah of old who made pretty coats for Samuel. Just when the fresh coat of paint was dry on our new house, the committee asked us to transfer to Dovele on the island of Vella Lavella. The Lees had been workers in this area and after losing their little boy, Noel, decided that enough was enough—they would return to Australia.
I hated Dovele, but not the people. The house was made of native material with an iron roof, board flooring, and a detached kitchen. Our water supply was collected in an iron tank from the roof. Anophle mosquitoes were in abundance, plus flies which lived on the human excreta in the surrounding bush. Is it any wonder that little Noel Lee lost his life under such conditions? I was fearful for our own lives.
In our visits around our island parish we came in contact again with Norman and Nell Watkins who were passengers on the ship we came out on. Norman was in charge of a copra (coconut) plantation which exported the copra for the Methodist Mission. This couple was a real blessing to us. Nell was young, bright, and vivacious, while Norman was more steady and mature. In the course of one of our conversations, seeing I was expecting my second child, they invited us to come a week before the date and stay with them. The Methodist hospital where I had arranged to have my baby was only five miles distant. After visiting around our parish, we pulled in at the Watkins home a week or so early. They had arranged to break in a milking cow for the Watkins from the herd on the estate.
Speeding to the Hospital in a Dingy
As we arrived after sunset, we decided we would remain on the boat over night and move into the Watkins’ home next morning. After our evening meal we bedded for the night. We were tired after trekking around for days. But fate did not go our way and about 10 p.m. baby decided it was on its way. Awakening our engine boy, Ligokana, we told him I had to be on my way to hospital. Time and time again the engine would not turn over and in desperation Ligokana put his toe into the blow lamp and kicked it to the other end of the engine room. My husband quickly went to the Watkins home and told Norman of our plight. Soon we were on Norman’s outboard dingy, covering the five miles in record time. Spasms of pain told me my baby was well on the way and it was a relief to be in my room and under medical care. During a lull in the proceedings, the staff decided to have a cup of tea, but hardly had its contents reached its destination when my cries brought the staff running. In no time a healthy baby boy lay crying lustily on the bed. My husband was happy. He now had a son whom we named Raymond Harrison.
I was hardly on my feet when word came through to us from Dovele that a storm had taken the roof off the mission house. This meant that I could not return with a new baby to that area. Norman went back and packed up our few belongings and I never saw Dovele again.
A Joyful Reunion
It was arranged by the Committee that we return to Batuma, using that as a base and visiting Vella Lavella occasionally. As our furlough time was approaching, the president suggested that I return to Australia along with Mrs. Peacock and child and await our husbands’ return some months later. This we did. Can you imagine the joy that was mine seeing again my firstborn little girl! Shy, but such a robust, curly-headed cherub she was, and looking quite questionable at the person who was supposed to be her mother. However, “constant dipping wears a rock,” and gradually I was accepted.
My baby Ray did not flourish as I would have liked. Continual days in bed with malaria and high temperatures left me unable to sustain my baby. I had to turn to artificial help. Week after week his weight was static. But Ray was a real good looking fellow—big blue eyes and rosy cheeks. I was relieved when he was old enough for granose to take over.
Now furlough time for our daddy was approaching, and it was decided by the ruling powers that he was to have three months with both sets of parents. As Norman’s family lived on Lord Howe Island, we decided that the two children and I would meet him there as he came down via New Hebrides and Norfolk Island.
The trip for us by boat from Sydney was anything but comfortable. High seas pounded the ship and we were glad to be ashore again. A few days after our arrival, my husband’s boat arrived at Ned’s beach, and great was the reunion. Norma, now two years old, looked very suspiciously at her father. For two years she had lived in the home of my brother, and to her he was her daddy. But there was no question as to who was her real father, and it did not take long to win her over. Ray was now eight months old, and we had a very happy time visiting, fishing, and picnicking with the islanders. We had to do a quick exist from the island as Ray developed symptoms of an illness brought about by continued sitting on a cement floor. Although his play pen was covered with a blanket, the cold brought on a bowel hemorrhage, and we had to get in touch with a steamer that would take us back to Sydney.
The boat crew was very sympathetic in our trouble and I was allowed to use the ship’s galley in preparing his food. As we arrived in Sydney, his trouble seemed to have righted and he did not have to go to the hospital. The three months on the orchard with my family passed quickly but before going back to the Solomons we were delegates to a conference in Melbourne. After visiting a few of Norman’s relatives in Victoria, we left for Sydney.
As furlough came to an end preparations were made for our return. Among our purchases was an “Icy Ball.” This gadget was an invention as a Frigidaire. We also gathered a tinned supply of Weet-Bix (breakfast cereal) and other commodities we would need for our home. Our complete family aboard, we enjoyed the two weeks at sea. As we were to go to the Marovo Lagoon first, our closest port of call was on the island of Rendora. Here we landed with our gear and chattels only to find the Kuma, our inter-island boat of transport, filled with natives and their gear also going to the Marovo. The original plan was to go the shortest route over the Hele bar and into the lagoon, but high winds and heavy seas thwarted our plans to leave that evening. So we anchored for the night, hoping the morning would bring calm waters. We had no mattresses or cooking facilities and spent the night stretched out on the cabin top.
Morning brought no change to the weather. So we decided to travel around by the top of New Georgia, thus averting traveling in heavy seas and entering the lagoon near Tusa Moini. Traveling all day we entered KulaGulf in the evening. The ship rolled and tossed almost uncontrollably and sails were put up to steady it. Late that night we entered the calm waters of the Marovo Lagoon. We were exhausted and glad to leave the rolling seas behind us. I bedded down on the bare cabin top with Norma on my left side and baby Ray on my right arm, and we all fell asleep without anything to eat. How long we traveled I do not know. It was night and as Ragoso was directing the boat by torch light, I felt secure. All at once the Kima lurched over to port, and threw Norma into the sea. All was panic. Our boat had struck a rock, and the keel had run into a groove in the rock that held her fast. I screamed out, “Norma has gone overboard, Norma is overboard!”
Jamuru, one of the crew, dived overboard, but only came up with a basket of sweet potatoes. Then Ragoso dived down and brought her up, not much worse for her bath. The orders were given for all to quickly move forward to see if we could get the boat off the rock. Norman had come to assist the baby and me when suddenly the boat turned and threw us into the water on the starboard side. We were quickly assisted aboard. But our position was really precarious now for we were on a falling tide. The dingy we towed was too small and leaky to be of any help for survival, so two natives were sent in it to secure help from the village of Tusa Moini—miles away.
As the hours passed the boat sank further and further into the sea, and the women sat on the stern like chickens ready to dive into the water. I wondered what was to be our end as we waited and prayed and listened. After what seemed like hours, the noise of paddling a man-o-war canoe filled our ears. God had heard and answered. We were put into the canoe along with the women and taken to an uninhabited island about half an hour from the site of the ship wreck. We had no food, not even shelter from the mosquitoes; only the stars overhead.
Morning broke and about nine o’clock my husband opened a tin of Weet-Bix and sent the food to us by canoe. This was our first food since the day before. Full tide came in at three o’clock in the afternoon, and with extra native help, our boat floated again with only a little piece of copper missing from the keel. It was late next morning when we arrived at Batuma worn and weary. Anxious white and black folk hurried to the wharf to welcome us, wondering why the long delay. All were anxious to get their mail from south.
We found temporary accommodation in one of the staff houses and were later informed that the committee were asking us to transfer to Guadalcanal to assist Jugha in his work. Up to this time he alone had done much of the pioneering and the work was getting too much for him. Accordingly the Melanesia was loaded with iron and boards and Norman went down to erect for us a shelter at Wanderer Bay. Here a native who had fallen out with the Church of England called for us to come down and [offered a] piece of his ground to erect a small home. The mission had waited long for such a beginning and we quickly took advantage of the offer. Back in Batuma we were fighting malaria. Little Norma was especially dogged with it. As my husband was returning via Tulagi, I asked him to purchase some dry ginger ale for the children. This seemed to stay the vomiting. When the boat arrived, the crew brought up a case of ginger ale and lemonade and placed it on the front porch. Childlike, Ray picked up one of the bottles and I said, “Put it down, son.” He threw it back instead and the bottle exploded. A piece of glass pierced his right hand and a geyser of blood shot into the air. He had pierced an artery. We were hours from any help and used every means to stay the bleeding. Even a cry would open up the artery and send blood shooting. One night I placed his cot next to my side of the bed in case of a recurrence. About the middle of the night a groan from Ray awakened me and I found him lying in a pool of blood—he had nearly bled to death. Finally, after using a red hot needle we closed the opening of the artery and that ended that episode. We found it very trying to rear a family when pioneering in the tropics and most often far removed from medial care. It tears the heart-string when boils and abscesses have to be lanced without anesthetic, and you see your children suffer.
With the temporary, two-roomed shelter at Wanderer Bay completed, the Melanesia loaded all our belongings and made ready to move us to our land of adventure. Unfortunately, while swimming in the bay at Batuna, I hit a piece of live coral which turned into a tropical ulcer. The pain was almost unbearable and I had to be carried down to the Melanesia on a stretcher. Many days were spent on my back giving orders from my couch. Our house on Willie’s land was small—just an alcove for a kitchen and one room which formed a bed outer. The back step was level with the ground and the front high enough for the boat’s crew to live underneath. The village folk on the shore were followers of the Church of England. They eyed us suspiciously and would have nothing to do with us. Fresh food for our selves and the crew was hard to obtain even by barter.
At night the mosquitoes swarmed us till we devised the idea of burning wet chips and smoking them out. However, we found that in spite of their numbers and their many bites, malaria was practically non-existent, and our health greatly improved as long as we stayed in the Bay.
Our house was on the side of a mountain, and to walk down to the village was a case of slipping and sliding. But the government road ran right through the middle of the village and was free to all. The children loved these walks, but still there was no break through with the villagers, we were looked upon as imposters.
Finally, a Breakthrough With the Natives
One morning when my husband was putting up a tank to improve our water supply, a native man came shuffling up to ask my husband where he was working. After awhile my husband asked him in pigeon English, “What name you come?” meaning what brought you up here? “Master” he replied, “Mary belong me sick too much, more better Mary belong you come look im.” His wife was ill and he wanted me to go down and see what I could do. I found out by questioning that Lizzie, his wife, had been in labour for a day or so. A baby had been born, but she had a retained placenta. For two or three days we had heard cries in the bush and wondered what the trouble was. Now we knew. I quickly made ready some hot water and taking my medical kit, followed Michael to the place of confinement. I was dumb-founded—Lizzie was semi conscious, lying on the cold ground without any covering. By the way, Michael was the Church of England teacher for that village and he fled to us for help although the village was biased against us. After a few manipulations, the afterbirth came away without any complications. Because of her low condition, I suggested that Lizzie be moved to the warmth and shelter of a house. Now this in native custom is strictly taboo. Women are not allowed back to the village under ordinary conditions for at least seven days, and sometimes fourteen. However, they conceded to my request and baby and mother were on their way to health again.
It was Friday about 11 a.m., the house had been cleaned and the cooking done. The house girl had brought in lovely orchids from the bush and things looked spotless, when without warning, the house began to rock. The hibiscus flowers in the study came down with the sand onto our polished floor. In the bathroom medicines of every kind ran in a stream on the floor, and milk which was on the stove slopped as the stove skewed around. It was a mess. Outside, the ground came up to us in waves as we exited the house. My visitors had never seen anything to equal it. The house was a shambles inside. But such was Guadalcanal, and time and again we had to run out of the house for safety. Generally we were up on a plateau, so out of danger. I remember one instance when a trader on the other side of the island was wiped out by such an experience. After the quake a tidal wave followed—it completely washed away his home, leaving only the bare cement floor. He owned a beautiful library—it was gone. His tractor was washed into the harbor and his boat found a resting place in the coconut plantation. They were saved by clinging to a coconut tree. Often a warning rumbling over the ocean announces the coming of a quake, providing time for an escape from the house.
Next day we were surprised to see a stream of women coming up the mountain path to our home all laden with baskets of food as a thank offering from the village for saving Lizzie’s life. We had broken through the barrier and were accepted into the community. They called upon us in any case that distressed them. We gave injections and bound up their sores and a real bond was woven between us.
How They Need Jesus
One Sabbath morning we were about to conduct Sabbath School with our crew when a big, strong looking fellow came stomping up. When I asked him the reason for his coming, he replied, “Me want’m pump,” and I asked him the reason. “Picanniny belong me sick too much.” I remonstrated with him and explained that I did not allow any of my medical things out to any one, and that later we would go to his village and see his sick child. Evidently he had seen me using a large syringe to wash their ulcers, and he thought it would suite his purpose. We went down after worship, my husband taking his injection kit as well. When we entered their village, we saw that pigs and dogs and natives all lived together. The patient was a little girl about 18 months old, and upon questioning the mother we found that the child had not had a bowel motion for two or three days and seemed uncomfortable. I began to prepare a mixture to bring relief, and as I prepared to administer it, the mother and the whole family fled to the bush and refused to let me near the child. One woman had a high tropical ulcer on her leg with blood running down and flies swarming it. She did allow my husband to give her an injection before we returned to our station.
Next morning we again visited the home where the sick child lived and what I saw staggered me. The devil priest had been called in and with a knife had cut a gash fully an inch deep all around the bottom of the child from one side of the anus to the other, which they said was to let the devil out. The little girl was only semi-conscious. I made a dressing of soothing ointment in the form of a napkin, and remonstrated with the family on their foolishness. Not far away stood the devil priest and he got a good tongue-banging from me. I threatened to report him to the government. I visited the child again in the evening, but there was no change in her condition.
Next morning before arriving at the village, I could hear the cries of mourning from the house and knew that the child was dead. With the mother still holding the baby, I sat on the wooden slat that composed her bed and putting my arms around her told her how sorry I was. I asked her how many other children she had, and her reply was, “This make’m four fellow he die finish.” She had lost three other babies besides this one. I thought of my own children snug and happy at home and here this dear mother had lost all four. How badly they needed the healing power of the gospel of Christ. If only they would accept of the waters of life so freely offered.
It was during our stay here at Wanderer that Norman had a severe attack of renal colic. He was in extreme pain and I had visions of burying him on this lonely outpost. The crew and teachers gathered around and asked the Lord to ease the pain, at the same time making arrangements to take him to the doctor at Tulagi which was miles away. Heavy seas made the going hard so that in the evening we had to take shelter off on one of the small islands on the way. I tried to get help from a trader on the island without success. Arriving at port next morning the doctor, along with Dr. Parker, concurred that since the Malaita was due next day en route to Sydney, Norman should go south and get medical help. This we did.
The children and I returned to our post at Wanderer Bay to hold the fort. The native crew was marvelous in such a time as this, and their faithfulness in caring for our protection left nothing to be desired. After six weeks my husband returned without any further recurrences of his trouble.
Just about this time, the mission committee realized that a school for training future workers was greatly needed. My husband, approaching the government with this request, found that a very suitable track of land was available farther down the coast. It was flat with about two hundred acres, and so he took out a 99-year lease. This property was situated about six miles up the coast from Marau Sound. This kind of land was not available at Wanderer Bay, so we decided to move.
Leaving the “Bay” brought sorrow to those we served there, and I still can see that little mother who lost her child crying and saying, “Mama, Mama, what are we going to do now you are going?” Although we did not change their way of thinking, we left friends, and perhaps some day the seed sown will bear fruit.
A New Mountain Home
We needed more teachers badly and the burden became too much for Jugha, hence the shift to a place more suitable for a school. My husband had gone on ahead and erected a two-roomed shelter with leaf roof and split sago palm floor near enough to the anchorage where the children loved to play. It did not take long to get settled, but the new quarters had problems and benefits. The round back floors made the soles of our feet sore, while the unevenness gave no need for sweeping because the dirt fell between the cracks. Our only bathing facility was the mountain stream, and this we used until our new house was completed on a plateau about a half mile away. We were glad to leave the lice infected mountain stream.
As the days passed, Geoff Richardson, a builder from Sydney, arrived to build a real European home for us. The forest was cleared away, and the surroundings laid out in proper fashion. Our home on the hill was very comfortable after years of living in crude structures. But once again we were dogged with malaria. To try and get quinine into the children I had to try various methods to help them swallow the tablet. Finally, plum jam proved the best of any, and to this day when I see plum jam it brings to mind the many times we used this commodity to cover the bitterness of the drug.
About this time I was expecting my third child. We were delighted with the cool breeze which came down from the mountains each night, scented with an evening perfume called Queen of the Night. It was so refreshing after a hot day.
As the natives from the surrounding villages became aware of our presence, we were obliged to run a clinic under our house. Ulcers, yaws, aching teeth, abscesses, and maternity care kept us busy. Some of the maternity cases proved too complicated for me and we had to send them on to the doctor in Talagi. I lost one baby when a right arm presentation took its life. When I explained to Dr. Hetherington my distress over the loss, he said, “Mrs. Ferris that kind of case is very complicated, and I must confess I have never seen one—so don’t feel bad.”
Snakes of various varieties were prevalent. Often they showed up in toilets, curled above our bedroom ceiling, or in the fowl yard. They would swallow the eggs and be too fat to escape through the netting. Huge hawks made a raid on our chickens and as I was quite a good hand with a gun, I quickly disposed of one marauder. Wild dogs also made their appearance and we had to be sure the doors were securely locked each night.
Our closest neighbors were the Brothers from the Catholic Mission. We became very friendly with this mission, and at times had a day out by the beach. They did not possess a boat so were very thankful that we were able to bring mail and supplies to them. They had stock on their station, and offered to give us a milking cow. We were so thankful for this gift. With fresh milk, bartered bananas, and tasty vegetables we were self contained.
When I was seven months pregnant I had a rather nasty fall. My husband had added a small porch to the steps. He had temporarily used un-nailed sawn boards and absent mindedly I stepped out on them, falling through to a stump underneath on my back. My unborn infant survived the fall, but I was shaken some.
At eight and a half months we made our way toward the hospital in Tulgi and expected to live on the boat until the event. However, after a few days the manager of Burns Philip Company offered us an empty house on their nearby estate. It offered more room for our children to play and we retired there thankful to be free from the continual rock of the sea.
While waiting the arrival of our baby, my husband decided to make a visit to the nearby island of Guadalcanal. This was known as the Tasamati Coast or Calm Coast. All our work to this time had been on the other side of the island, and we were anxious to get a footing on this side. Church of England and Catholics had a footing, but not our mission.
Kill Him! Kill Him!
My husband took his cook boy, Imbi, and his crew over to the closest village, Koilotomaria. He left the crew to care for the boat and ventured ashore with Imbi. He did not know that the devil had spoken to Ngata, a devil priest, in the village of Tinabutu, telling him that Norman was coming ashore and that he was to go down to Koilotomaria and kill him. So on going ashore the two met. The devil, through Ngata, said, “Kill him, kill him, kill Imbi.” Another voice said, “He has something good for you.” So Ngata put down his waddy (hunting stick) and listened for the first time in his life to the gospel story. He was thrilled and begged for a teacher to come to his village and tell him more. My husband did not have a teacher available at the time and Imbi, an uneducated lad, offered to stay and teach Ngata more. This once heathen devil priest became converted and did a mighty work among his own people after being baptized.
Fifty years later it was my privilege to again visit the Solomons, and I was anxious to visit the village of Tinabutu and see Ngata. Now an old man, but with shining face, he displayed the waddy that was to be used to kill my husband.
A Bouncing Baby Boy
A few days after the ship returned to port, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on October 24, 1932. He looked so much like his father with his curly hair that Dr. Heatherington said, “No mistaking the father of this child.” He was so calm and contented, and I never knew what it was to lose a night’s rest. He was the joy of his nurse girl, Nisabe, who at a very early age taught him to swim, a skill which would save his life as my story will later tell.
The mission property proved to be very productive. But our possession caused a stirring among the surrounding villages. They had used this land for their gardening purposes and it took months for them to relinquish their hold on it. Fortunately, the government had given a copy of the lease to one of the head chiefs and years later it was produced by this chief when again some of the surrounding villages put up a claim.
At this time schooling for my two eldest children was deep in my thoughts. While on leave, I had contacted the government in Sydney over correspondence for my children, and as they reached school age I had to set aside time each day for supervision and care. I made ready one room in the house for this purpose, and daily we went to school. As we were dependent on the lessons arriving and being dispatched to the Black Friars School headquarters in Sydney, I found we had to be very consistent with school, and the children did advance. At times I was frustrated. “Sail O” was called from the beach and down would go pencils and books. There was no stopping them from running down to meet their father whom they knew would be bringing something special for them from port. They were never disappointed.
It was about this time that the General Conference in the United States convened and Ragoso was appointed as a delegate with my husband to go as interpreter. The children and I were given the opportunity to return to headquarters in Batuma during his absence. However, I chose to stay right where we were. Living with other families with three young children was not for me. Occasionally the secretary-treasurer, Pastor Barrett, and his wife, Hilda, came down to check on us. It was on one of these occasions that a never-to-be forgotten earthquake struck.
It was Friday about 11 a.m., the house had been cleaned and the cooking done. The house girl had brought in lovely orchids from the bush and things looked spotless, when without warning, the house began to rock. The hibiscus flowers in the study came down with the sand onto our polished floor. In the bathroom medicines of every kind ran in a stream on the floor, and milk which was on the stove slopped as the stove skewed around. It was a mess. Outside, the ground came up to us in waves as we exited the house. My visitors had never seen anything to equal it. The house was a shambles inside. But such was Guadalcanal, and time and again we had to run out of the house for safety. Generally we were up on a plateau, so out of danger. I remember one instance when a trader on the other side of the island was wiped out by such an experience. After the quake a tidal wave followed--it completely washed away his home, leaving only the bare cement floor. He owned a beautiful library--it was gone. His tractor was washed into the harbor and his boat found a resting place in the coconut plantation. They were saved by clinging to a coconut tree. Often a warming rumbling over the ocean announces the coming of a quake, proving time for an escape from the house.
Dead or Alive?
The only word I received from Norman in transit came when he was in Fiji en route to America. The ship was only there for a day and sailed again at midnight. At the time typhoid fever was rampant in Suva, and some workers were not well enough to attend. The next card I got was from America, stating that he wasn’t feeling too well, and thinking that he was coming down with malaria. He was put in hospital and given copious doses of quinine. Symptoms grew worse and when a hemorrhage occurred, a test proved he had contacted typhoid. His condition became so critical that he asked his nurse to write a good-bye note to me and the children. This arrived by a freighter the morning I also was in Talagi. My anguish was indescribable. Although the headquarters in Sydney had known of his plight, they thought it best to keep his sickness from me, not knowing that he had written goodbye to us. Frantically I sent a cable to headquarters only to be informed that his condition had improved and not to worry. Finally, after many messages to and fro, word came through that my husband was coming home on the next available boat. When the government doctor heard about Norman’s plans, he got in touch with one of our mission doctors. Both concurred that it was unwise for Norman to return and they advised he remain in Sydney for six months to recuperate and that I and the children join him there. This we did and we were happy to be a united family again. However, my husband’s progress was slow and Dr. Harrison removed his appendix which seemed to be giving him so much pain. The six month’s leave was mostly spent recuperating in the hostel provided for such emergencies.
The Kindest Gift
When our leave was coming to an end, my husband suggested that since he would be away from home most of the time visiting around the various stations in Guadalcanal, that the children and I remain in Australia until the birth of my fourth child. Baby was born on July 6, and we named her Marilyn Frances. The first name is after my only sister Mary, and Frances is after my doctor, Frances Hardinge. Frances was an American, and she and her husband, Warren, were both physicians at the Sydney San. Both were very understanding of the needs in the mission field. Frances asked me what our greatest need was in the mission station. I replied “I am taking back a new baby to an unscreened house.” Frances sent to have our home measured and ordered screens to be made to fit all doors and windows. I shall ever be thankful for this gift. On returning home to the mission station, I enjoyed a comfort that I had never known in my fourteen years in the tropics.
While on furlough, a doctor who examined Ervin found that he was threatened with a hernia. He had suggested that we have it checked in a few months’ time. As committee meetings were called at Kukundu, we took advantage of the time to have this checked.
As we had to pass through the Marovo en route, we were asked to clear customs for cargo coming through from south and for the station at headquarters. My husband suggested that the children and I, along with the crew, go ahead in the Marara and he would come later in the Mel Portal. This we did. We had a new Gardiner engine in our boat, which was our pride and joy. We were the fastest yacht in the Solomons, and our crew very responsible. The trip was an all night travel. Lifting anchor we left Tulagi about 4 p.m., hoping to arrive at the Marovo entrance by daylight next morning. Traveling at night was cooler and the children slept. However, after several hours, our engine went tut-tut-tut. We had stopped. The engineer realized that something was wrong in the fuel system and cleaned it through. On we went again for several hours when the same tut-tut-tut greeted our ears. After some hours of wallowing in the sea, the Portal, with my husband aboard, sighted us. After some time of cleaning, we again got on our way, and arrived at Batuma.
We spent the Sabbath at the headquarters, planning to leave for Kukundu early Saturday night. At the Barretts’ suggestion we left the two eldest children, Norma and Ray, with them, and along with other boats and members of the committee we were on our way. But again the engine stopped. My husband was determined to find the cause. We stopped at the village of Tusa Maine and he took the whole thing down again right to the full tank. Upon cutting it open, he found the cause—crushed dry coconut leaves had been put into the tank while we were in Port when the boat was unattended. Evidently, someone from an opposing mission had used this method to hinder our progress. We arrived at the hospital hours after the other boats. They wondered what had become of us. Because of losing so much time, my husband ordered the dingy to be stowed amid ship to give us more speed, and with the guy ropes unhooked, the difference in speed was what we needed.
Baby Overboard, Again
As Ervin had slept all night in the cabin, he was up and about early while the rest of the crew slept after working all night on the fuel system. Ervin was busy making little sailing boats out of a coconut shell and sails from leaves and putting them into the ocean to sail away. I was watching him when coming on the port side he was saying in the Marovo language, “Omi ba, Omi ba” which meant “Look, look.” Putting his hand out to swing around the guy ropes, which had been taken away, he stepped down into the ocean and was quickly being left astern. I cried out, “Ervin’s overboard, Ervin’s overboard!” but I found it difficult to awaken my husband or anyone else to help. Frantically I tried to jump overboard as I heard in the distance, “Daddy, daddy!” He was dog paddling still. After what seemed hours, the boat was turned around and a life buoy thrown to him. One of the crew dived overboard and brought him in. How thankful we were that as young as he was, his nurse girl had taught him to dog paddle. For months after at night he had nervous spasms.
On reaching Kukudu and being examined by Dr Finkle, we found that the threatened hernia had given way to a strong child.
Session over, we returned to Batuma and picked up the two children, thanking the Barretts for their thoughtfulness in caring for them in our absence. We now returned to our home in Guadalcanal.
As the children had always wanted to visit around the various missions on Guadalcanal, we gave them that opportunity during their school break and made preparation for the trip leaving next morning. However, in the morning Ray complained of pains in his side. Not willing to risk further trouble in that area, I let the rest of the family go ahead on the trip, and Ray and I stayed back. I was afraid that it might be trouble with his appendix. Next morning he was still miserable, so I put him on my back and carried him the six miles to Marau Sound where our closest neighbor lived. When I got there I found the Hodges family had recently gone on leave, but their boat was still swinging in the anchorage. In pigeon English I explained to the crew, telling them my “peccanny” needed to go to Tulagi to see the doctor. They agreed and it took more than ten hours of traveling. Ray was put into hospital for several days under observation and later discharged without any further ado.
In the meantime, my family had finished the visitation and paid the various teachers along the coast and returned home, wondering where we were. Hearing our story, they were happy to see us. Life now returned to normal.
On one occasion my husband went down with a heavy attack of malaria, and, as usual, sweated profusely, so much so that often things were uncomfortably wet. Because of this I left him the bed to himself, and moved into a spare cot in the school room. Sometime toward morning he came into my room, and looking toward the sea said, “I see David my brother in great trouble.” David was director of affairs on the island of Malaita. Thinking that his high temperature was causing delirium, I said, “Go back to bed dear, David is OK!” However, next morning “Sail O” was called by the folk on the beach, and lo and behold, it was the Malaita boat belonging to David with flag at half mast and coming into our anchorage. We hurried down to hear this sad story. While their little girl, Colleen, was taking a guanine tablet, her thymus gland, which should have dissolved at birth, came up and caused her to choke. Both parents were nurses, and frantically used every means to bring help to their little girl. Dave even grabbed a scalpel, and making an incision in her throat, blew air into her lungs, all to no avail. Colleen was dead. They made a little coffin for their only child, dug the grave, and buried her on the Kurabisi Mission. Their grief was terrible. After a few weeks with us at Kopur, they returned to their station.
Trying to make their own fun, the children thought up many and various stunts, but one particular one brought results that were drastic. While in Sydney, we had taken the children to various play sports, and this day they contrived the idea of making their own slipping dip. Using the big bath tub, they soaped it up aplenty and were enjoying their slipping in and out many times, but it was once too much. Ervin, only three years old, slipped out on to the floor, breaking his collar bone. We had to take him into Tolagi to see the doctor there. On the way in we called at Rere, a plantation owned by Burno Philip and overseen by Mac Stewart. As they had no children and were extremely fond of ours, they begged us to leave the oldest two—Norma and Ray with them while we proceeded to Port with our patient.
Dogged by Malaria
Being so young, Ervin found it very exasperating trying to keep his arm in a sling, and our stay in Port was longer than we anticipated trying to get him settled down. On our way home, my husband said that he had had a message from the Mac Stewarts of Rere, stating that the children were both very ill and to return as soon as possible. I was beside myself with anxiety. As we neared the plantation, Ray met us on the beach and the color of his face told all—but he was OK after suffering and surviving a dose of malaria again. When we arrived at the house, we found Norma with a temperature of 105 degrees and very ill. The amount of guanine she had been given did not bring down her temperature, so I increased it and slowly it began to come down. We boarded for home, and although Norma was very weak, she gradually regained strength.
War Clouds now were looming on the horizon and the Japanese in their downward thrust had eyes on Singapore. German raiding ships were also plying the Pacific waters. The government had at the time sent up Dracula Thompson to send up coast guards around the islands. Things were really getting serious, and we were advised by the security guard to send the two eldest children back to Australia for their safety and also to ease the burden of caring for four children in a case of emergency. This we did, and my mother at Windsor took the two children and cared for them. I shall always be grateful for the many times my parents, and especially my mother, cared for our children. Cars were a great curiosity to the children, and as they sped by on the front road, the children cried out in the Marovo language “Omi la! Omi la!” (“Look! Look!”) The cars were a real curiosity to them.
After some months, Ervin complained of pains in his legs which turned out to be yaw of the bones.* I found it hard to part with Ervin—he was so young and closely attached to his home. As I was preparing for his leave in making several items of clothing, he would come to the machine where I was working, and crying say, “Mummy, I would rather die than leave you.” I had to explain to him that he would break my heart by crying so much, and he then dried his eyes and become resigned to his lot, and waved us good-bye with a smile.
Cyclones and Search Lights
As the Japanese continued their conquering thrust south, the government ordered all women and children south on the next available steamer. There were crowds waiting to board. When Captain Wilding spotted me, he said “You’ll be in No. 6 hatch eating bread and treacle with me before we get to Sydney.” He had been given orders to proceed via Norfolk to pick up passion fruit pulp, and how nearly his words came true.
We left Tulagi with a cyclone threatening and the ship full. It was sad saying goodbye to my husband as Marilyn and I waved goodbye, leaving him alone on the wharf. As we got underway, the ship tossed and rolled and many of the passengers became seasick. Toward evening the ship was battened down to keep the waves from washing over, and fat burning in the galley sent smoke up to the decks. Because of this, I left the music room and went out on the back side of the ship to get a breath of fresh air. As I did so, a search light picked up our ship and played all over it. I ran back inside and “,” who was in the music room, heard me say, “Search light! Search light.” “Oh, no,” he said, and as he spotted the light. The Captain was told to turn, and as the boat wallowed in the high seas, it became apparent that we were in trouble. We were ordered to muster in the dining room and to bring our survival kits with us. Pregnant women, seasick and carrying buckets to vomit into, and mothers with babies were among the motley throng. The captain had thrown his ship’s papers over board, thinking that a “raider” was bearing down on us. I was paralyzed with fright.
I thought of my three children in Windsor with my parents, and Marilyn and me in this dreadful sea. After what seemed hours, the captain came down to tell us to go back to our cabins and to use no lights. If life boats had become necessary, I had made up my mind to stay with the ship rather than face being eaten by sharks. Later the captain came and told us that we were picked up by an Australian squadron going north to try and help Singapore, and a cigarette light by one of the crew had caused the trouble. After what seemed hours were told to continue our journey. We were greatly relieved to arrive at Norfolk Island. Here we were given a great welcome and the island folk put on a picnic meal for all the passengers while the ship was taking on the passion fruit pulp.
Arriving at my parents’ home in Windsor, I was thrilled to be with my three children. However, I found that Ervin’s condition had worsened, so I took him to a doctor who immediately put him in hospital. On visiting him the next day, I found the he had been placed in isolation as they thought he had TB of the bone. Because we had lived in the islands for so long, a doctor in tropical medicine was called who had knowledge in that area, and after tests, it proved to be yaw of the bone.* He was taken out of isolation and put in a general ward.
Injections of neosalvason were ordered by the doctor. These were very painful, and following these injections Ervin would cry for hours.
While still under treatment in Sydney, we were transferred to Adelaide--my husband in youth work. We had nothing but our clothes to begin with. All our furniture and belongings were taken over by the Japanese. I hope they enjoyed them.
My husband’s uncle lived in Adelaide, and hearing of our transfer, he did some scouting around for accommodation and found a fully-furnished house available with a large back garden filled with all kinds of fruit trees and grape vines. It was ideal for a family of six. Close by was a large primary school, and not far distant a high school for Norma.
I remember one instant which happened between our two eldest children—Norma and Ray. In the rush to get their shoes cleaned before leaving, a tussle arose between the two children and some hard words were spoken before they parted. However, after some time had passed, a tearful little girl arrived and, putting her arms around her brother, she asked his forgiveness.
Now we had to get Ervin to Doctor Poat, who was referred to us from Sydney. When our Adelaide friends heard that Ervin was having treatment from this doctor, they declared we would spend the rest of our lives paying the cost. But our son’s life meant more to us than money, and the treatment began.
We had no car in those days, and our only means of transport was by tram, which passed our door. Each day for six weeks the injection was given and the pain so intense that often while waiting for the tram to pick us up, Ervin would be on the ground. Many times passengers would vacate their seats in order for him to lie down. These daily injections continued until the fully designed amount was administrated.
At the conclusion, with trembling, I asked Dr. Poat for his account. This was his reply, “Mrs. Ferris you have done far more for missions than I have done, and this treatment is my small gift for what you have done.” Were we thankful! Being refugees, our salary was barely enough to cover our needs and here God had provided medical aid from a specialist for free. What a God we have!
Life at Challa Gardens was full of fun and work. We purchased a good milking cow and we were given a paddock close by for free. The orchard was full of beautiful fruits—lovely peaches, apricots, plums, grapes and almonds. What more could a family need?
After living so long in the Solomons, we found the winders of Adelaide very severe, and my husband went down with a heavy cold, followed by pneumonia which necessitated moving him to Calvary Hospital.
About the same time a bout of measles struck and all four children were victims. My hands were more than filled with four very sick children and the daily visits to the hospital. Ray was especially ill and collapsed. Frantically, I rang the doctor who came and gave an injection which brought good results, and life returned to normal.
About this time the Japanese had advanced successfully in their southern thrust, and the Solomon Islands looked like their next objective. America had at this time joined the Allies and had taken up headquarters for charting their advance on the enemy. General MacArthur was in charge and was searching for my husband, as a box of charts had come into the possession of the Navy which belonged to us. In his haste to flee the Solomons, he had packed up a box of charts which he thought to be house linen, and of course, being war time, the navy had them confiscated. When General MacArthur found that they belonged to my husband, he immediately sent out one of his officers to Adelaide to intercept my husband. All that Captain Hines knew was that Norman was in Adelaide, and he was out to locate him. That same morning I had asked my husband to go to the SHI shop in the Arcade and bring home a commodity when he had lunch break. As he did this, who should he run into, but Captain Hines who said “Well, Ferris, I do not believe in a God, but I am sure he made this meeting.” After making arrangements with his employing body, my husband was released, and saying goodbye to his family, journeyed with Captain Hines to MacArthur’s office in Sydney where the problem was presented to him. During his travels in the Solomons, he had come across an unchartered reef and had put a pencil mark around the area. This happened to be the same area where the Americans had planned to engage the Japanese, so his help in charting this was very important and a help to General MacArthur. With his work completed in Sydney, he returned to us in Adelaide.
Time moved on and so did the Japanese. Things were looking serious. The government was giving orders to the civilians as to what procedures were necessary in Australia. Back in the Solomons, tidings of severe stress for the natives came rumbling through. The Japanese had their eyes on Australia now as most of the Solomons were taken over. White missionaries who chose to stay on were murdered. However, the deciding war was fought in the Coral Sea when American forces turned the Japanese back, and the backward thrust ended the conquest with the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Back to the Solomons
Because of the stress in the Solomons caused by the invasion, my husband requested to be returned to give help and assurance to our native constituency. Resigning his position in Adelaide, we returned to Sydney where after a few days we found a small house in Cooranbong. As we were close to Avondale College, we registered Norma as a student to continue her education. My husband joined a troop ship going through to Boungainville. This left just the smaller children and me to carry on in his absence. Ray was a great help around the house and took much pride in helping in the garden.
In the meantime, my husband had worked his way down to the Marovo Lagoon and met up with his old time friend, Kata Ragaso. Many were the stories told of God’s protecting care for them during the occupation days. But the great concern now was for a boat to do his visiting around.
Fortunately, Ragaso’s foresight in dismantling the Portal and giving various parts to the natives for safe keeping brought great cheer to my husband. At a command from Ragaso, every part of the engine was returned to the workshop—even to every bolt and nut. Being a diesel mechanic, my husband had no trouble in getting it into place, and a great shout went up as the engine turned over. The islands were alive again. Fuel a plenty was supplied by the American forces who were still in command. It did not take long to get the natives back from their hiding places into their own villages. Some time later the division brought Roe back to Australia with my husband as interpreter to tell the story of their grueling time under the Japanese, and God’s care for them.
* According to MedicineNet.com, yaws is a common disease of children in the tropics, featuring characteristic bumps on the skin of the face, hands, and feet In its late stage
During his father’s absence, Ray had been given work in the SHI Coy in order to augment our finances, and it was during this time that tragedy struck. He was asked by the foreman to relieve [him] while the workman had breakfast. In order to get to the third floor where he was to work, he asked a student on his floor to take him up in the sling to save time. Instead of letting him off on the floor—he played Ray up and down, and Ray trying to get off on his floor jumped, and missing the floor fell down the well shaft and was badly injured. He was rushed to the Wallsend Hospital by ambulance. At the time Norman was itinerating in Queensland. Police were alerted, and he was intercepted on his way to Ipsurith. He was flown home to be with me by our son’s bedside. However, complications set in and after three days our eldest son was gone. The loss and grief seemed more than I could bear. Ray took his father’s place in his absence, and I depended on him so much. He sang in the choir, and went to church without question, and was all a mother could wish for. My blue-eyed son was gone. The vacant chair at worship time haunted me, and day after day as I stood by the flower-decked mound that separated me I was broken with grief.
Following Ray’s death, the division suggested that I go north with Norman for a break, which we did. Later we returned to Mullumbimby to stay with Len and Alma Martin for a few days. While there we met the notable Crabtree who had the audacity to suggest that I allow my daughter Norma to come for a break also. Later he had the intestinal fortitude to ask for her hand in marriage, and I guess, like every parent, we were glad that our daughter was accepted into a respectable family.
At the year end the division had asked my husband to be Dean of Men at the College. I was delighted and encouraged him to accept the position. I wanted to be near Ray’s grave, which was only about half a mile from the college. We had three very happy, rewarding years there with our other children receiving their education while living on campus. Also I became surrogate mother to two very interesting young people. David Reeves became one of our family for the time his parents, Pastor and Mrs. Reeves, were conducting evangelistic missions around Australia. When their turn of service finished and they returned to the States, I was broken-hearted.
Then Shirley Staples from South Africa blessed our home for six months while her mother was visiting families in Sydney. We later met up in Washington, U.S.A.
After our years at the college, we were transferred to Camperdown in Victoria—the coldest, wettest hole we have ever lived in. Ervin and Steve Nobbs also came with us, hoping to find some work in the district. The house we occupied was without an open fire, and we shivered over a small grate to eat and get warm. Later, the two boys moved on to a sheep station as “hands.” Their place of abode was very crude at the most, but they were earning and that seemed foremost in their minds. Later Steve fell in love with the manager’s daughter and remained on the station.
During this time we were called to go to Pitcairn Island. My husband had gone to headquarters in Wahroonga to arrange for the transfer. Norma was now eligible for college, so both Norma and Ervin had both moved to college. Ervin was invited to join the working force at the college dairy, and Norma was a student.
While waiting for things to materialize, I decided to spend the time in the grape orchard near Mildura, which was run by the Bailey family, and to assist in the kitchen. Many hands were employed as pickers. Most were Seventh-day Adventists and we had a very happy time together. I also enjoyed my fill of the beautiful grapes.
Later we were told there was a hitch in our call to Pitcairn. There had been much unrest on the island brought about between factions in the church, so we were asked to go back to Camperdown and settle down again. We purchased a new car and had no sooner done so when the fray at Pitcairn was settled. The governor of Fiji had assured that he would give permission to only one person fit to control Pitcairn and that person was Norman Ferris. Ron Garvey had been a cadet in the Solomons during our sojourn there, and had met up with Ron Gerney on several occasions. Now he had advanced to Governor of Fiji which had control of Pitcairn. So we were again asked to pack up and, with passports in hand, we traveled as far as New Zealand where we purchased food stuff to be placed on board the Rangitoka for Pitcairn, located some eight thousand miles between New Zealand and the Panama Canal.
In accepting this position, we had some hard thinking and arrangements to make. Both our teen-aged children needed to be cared for, and reliable sources found to accept the responsibility of the care while we were away. This the Avondale College accepted to do. Norma was to begin studies and Ervin to work in the college dairy.
Our ten-day voyage to Pitcairn was enjoyable and restful. As we approached the island, heavy wind and rain set in, seas were rough, and the captain disputed the possibility of carrying us on to Panama.We were anchored about two miles off the island about midnight, and peering into the darkness we saw two long boats coming through the wind and rain. First of all, the islanders did some barter, and procured what things they needed while our goods and chattels were unloaded into the bouncing long boats. Rain was coming down in torrents, and with the ship tossing and rolling, I was put in a ship’s sling and swung up and over into the long boats. Our cardboard food stuffs were drenched with rain, and when we approached the jetty on Pitcairn and were unloaded, our food stuff and perishables just dribbled out onto the jetty. Our linen trunk was saturated and cement and water filled it to the top. Up the steep cliff we slipped and slid but we were happy to be in the crude house which was to be our home. The typewriter belonging to us was ruined with sea water as were many of our belongings. There were no stores on Pitcairn and we just had to make do.
Our mission house was old and weather worn. On taking my first bath, my foot went through the rusty bottom to the floor. So this was Pitcairn—home of the descendants of the Bounty. But the people were hospitable and kind and did all in their power to make us welcome. They loaded us with all kinds of garden produce, and each week a case of Pitcairn’s beautiful oranges were landed at our door. Much of their garden produce was used as barter on the passing ships, and flour, sugar, and other commodities were exchanged.
The women were very adept at making baskets, fans, and mats. Also their painting on leaves and pandanus brought in cash for them.
A Brand New Church
The church on the island was in a bad state of disrepair. White ants had eaten away most of the floor, and practically the whole building was useless. So my husband had decided to replace the whole building. But how? The islanders had no money, nor we. My husband had friends in America who solicited timber from firms in California, and with great success. On going to the States he received enough timber and dollars to build a new structure over the top of the old church. To thwart the presence of white ants, a cement floor was laid, and hand-made cement brick formed the wall up to about five or six feet. From there up timber completed the wall and an iron roof completed the task. The islanders were ever so thankful for their new edifice which could last for years. We also now had a party line telephone. Adamstown was a very scattered vicinity and this innovation brought the island family closer together. Diesel engines, which lay dormant for years, were brought back into commission, and the island really became alive.
Because of the unrest on the island before we arrived, the Fiji government made a ruling that no white or visiting person could remain on the island more than one year. Our term was almost up, and the islanders put in a petition for us to stay another year or so. This was granted, but only on one term. We had to return to Australia for a three-month leave, and then return by permit. It was during this holiday break that the governor of Fiji, Sir Ronald Garvey, had recommended a M.B.E. citation be given to my husband for his work in the Pacific, and the Queen gladly conceded to his request. The decoration was given in Government House on our return to Australia.
It was during our last term on the island that our youngest daughter, Marilyn, completed her commercial course at Avondale, and being only fourteen years of age, we deemed it unwise for her to take up a position so young, so we requested the division to have her come live with us. This she did and enjoyed a year of real fun. At the same time Ervin had formed a friendship with Leila Davey, and was married in Sydney during our vacation break.
When our three-months were up and we got ready to return to the island, we were informed by the shipping company in New Zealand that a passage back to Pitcairn was impossible to provide and we became perplexed as we tried time and time again for a booking. At last my husband informed Sir Ronald Garvey of our position. Back came his reply, “You are both booked on the Ruahini on a certain date. This gave us only a few days to get to New Zealand and purchase some provisions before sailing time. I was in Melbourne at the time and hurriedly had to get up and over to New Zealand.
Weddings and Grandchildren
The islanders were overjoyed at our return and we completed our term without further incidents. Following our term on Pitcairn we were asked to go to Fiji. As we were guests at the New Zealand Camp, Norman decided to go to the headquarters in Suva and acquaint himself with the details of this appointment. On summing things up he requested a return to Australia on a permanent basis. Grandchildren were arriving on the scene, and he felt he had worked long enough overseas. However, there was no portfolio for him, and while we lived in the Mission Cottage, he was given ingathering to fill in time. Prior to this, Ervin and Leila were married in the Ayr Church and Marilyn became infatuated with Leila’s brother Arthur, who was very protective of her and in no time a wedding took place and they were settled on a farm.
Our waiting came to an end when the president of the Queensland conference, Pastor Sibley, offered us a vacancy at Ipswich, and also one on Mona Mona mission. Because Mona Mona seemed more challenging that became our field of labour. The only industry on the station was the export of sawn timer. It boasted of some of the most beautiful timer. Oak and maple were in great demand, more than the place could supply.
Some months later we were awakened at night by a glow in our bedroom. The mill was on fire. Sawdust had caught fire and quickly spread to other parts of the mill, taking with it much of our sawn timber. This disaster put a heavy burden on my husband, so with our daughter Marilyn reaching 21, we decided to go to the farm for the celebrations, and on the return call at Charters Towers to visit Mr. McCambley’s home as he owned a mill. My husband needed some information on obtaining timber from Crown land. Up to this time we had never paid royalty on our exports, as the mission had sufficient timber on the property. However, our timer was thinning out and we needed some advice.
After spending some time with the McCambleys we headed for home, but not before we had called in for a cool drink at a milk-bar. We had to call in at Townsville Office to pick up Mr. Langsford, the accountant, who was to audit the mission books. Eating our lunch and chatting and scheming, the miles flew by till we reached the outskirts of Townsville. All of a sudden we were faced with a driver traveling fast in the opposite direction. He seemed to be picking something off the floor of his car. My husband pulled the car over as far as he could, but was hampered by other cars parked by the side of the road. We were opposite the Townsville Meat Company Works. The approaching car hit our vehicle on the driver’s side, breaking my husband’s jaw and rupturing his liver. I suffered multiple fractures of my right leg, a broken right arm, and cuts on my head.
Ambulances were soon on the scene and we were taken to the hospital. I arrived in the second ambulance just in time to see the doctor pull the sheet over my husband. With shock and falling blood pressure, I lapsed in and out of consciousness till some time at night a surgeon commenced repairing my injuries. My knee cap had been gauged out, and the tendon on the inside was torn which has been a nightmare to me. Next day my family from Ayr arrived, deepening the fact that I was a widow. My patient, loving husband was gone, and I came to realize that with his passing I too could be counted as nothing. My days of going places and meeting with fellow workers were at an end. I was nobody, and yet after forty years of widowhood, I know God cares.
Feeling distressed over my future, I took out the Promise Box, and this is what I drew out, “He will silently plan for thee.” How true this promise has proved to be! Many were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I lay in hospital with my leg in a sling and arm in plaster. Did God have a place for me now without a husband? The healing process was slow and painful, yet time has a wonderful way of healing. Norma had flown over from Fiji for her father’s funeral, and wanted to take me back with her, but there were legal matters that would take time to attend to. I promised to go over later when these things were fixed up.
After some weeks I was transferred to the Ayr hospital to be nearer to family who lived in that area, which would save them the eighty kilometers of traveling to visit me. Here I was under the care of Dr. Kelly, such a kind, understanding man. My progress was slow, and I had to go back for therapy before it became possible to use my leg and arm again.
As I progressed and healing took place, I requested the doctor to allow me to go home to my son-in-law’s farm so as to relieve them of the pressure they were experiencing during harvest time. This he did, with the statement that if I found it unsuitable, I was to be readmitted to hospital. This however never became necessary, and I slowly regained the use of my limbs.
The family had returned to Mona Mona where we lived before the accident and had packed up all our belongings and moved them into a tin shed on the farm. How my heart ached to see the things we had saved together thus stored. But there was no other way out.
A New Work
Now it was time to fulfill my promise to Norma, and I left for Fiji spending six months with them on the island of Vanua Levu. As my visa ran out, I had to make plans for my return to Australia. To what? No husband, no home—nothing to look forward to. How thankful I am to this day for the home I had with my daughter and son-in-law, Marilyn and Arthur Davey, who cared for me during my days of uncertainty. While staying there an opportunity opened up for me. The Country Women’s Association had purchased and opened up a hostel in Ayr only four miles from the farm. They were planning to provide a place for boarding students from the surrounding country, a home away from home where they could get an education in the only high school in the district. An application was required for a matron for this place. So with nine others I put in for the position, and mine was accepted, maybe because of the experience we had as Dean of Men at Avondale. Board and lodging were free, plus I earned a small wage. This position I held for thirteen years, but it was not accident free. The cook had dropped a green bean on the floor, and stepping on it I sustained a broken ankle, plus a complete dislocation. I was fortunate that a Canadian doctor was in charge of the hospital and he did a marvelous job in setting the bones, but I had to go off for six weeks.
Time to Travel
After thirteen years at work in the Hostel, and turning 70, I decided to resign and see more of the world before I became too old to travel alone. So I made South New Zealand my first port of call. Here my son Ervin and his family lived in Christchurch and I traveled extensively over beautiful south land. The beauty of New Zealand has to be seen to be believed. “You never, never know, if you never, never go” is a saying which is absolutely true. I went with the family to the north of South New Zealand for their holidays—a place called Morndrangi. We were pestered here with the worst sand flies I have ever experienced. They were huge and raised quite a hump when bitten.
One morning I arose early in order to get some soiled clothes washed before the facility became rushed with other campers wishing to do the same thing. Going back to the camping area to hand out the clothes I stepped on the wet grass and broke my left arm. I had it set by the local doctor and had to return to Christchurch until it was time to have the plaster removed.
My sister Mary—older than I—lived in Wanganui on the island, and I decided to visit her. She lived in a cold, dingy room, but I had decided that New Zealand was home for her now, and I was worried to leave her there alone. Her husband had died from cancer, but because they had adopted in earlier years a little Fijian orphan, now married, she wanted to stay nearby. Later my sister passed away and was buried in foreign soil.
Touring the United States
My long service leave was spent visiting the General Conference in San Francisco and what an eye opener it was. Before leaving Australia I had obtained a three-month pass on an American Greyhound bus for 45 pounds. As soon as the conference was over, a tour of the United States began. I had the company of Phyllis Kelroy part of the way. The west coast of the States is beautiful—pine forests, snow-covered peaks, and at the many stops delightful cheeky chipmunks poked their noses at you without any fear.
As Dr. Frances Harding had invited me to visit them in Ohio, I took the route via Seattle where the World Fair was being held. Here Phyllis left me to go farther north to Victoria. She was down with a nasty flu, so I was now traveling alone. Boarding the bus at Seattle, I traveled for four days non-stop to Chicago. At this time, the news was muted with the capers of Al Capone, so I chose to take the quickest way to Ohio—down to Tennessee to Columbus, where the Drs. Harding lived. Here I was entertained as a queen. I was taken to many of the high spots in the city, and dined at Columbus University where Frances taught in the gynecology department. The week with them and their wonderful hospitality will forever live in memory.
I had quite made up my mind that my eastern tour was to end here, but not Frances. “Ruby” she said, “you are going farther east to Detroit—The Falls, New York, and Washington,” and she got out the phone and booked me into every Hilton Hotel en route—all free to me. How could you repay such a friend? The Niagara Falls were awe inspiring—first on the Canadian side and then at a different angle on the U.S.A side.
Staying alone in New York for four days, I was frightened. By day I went on several tours, visiting the Statue of Liberty in the Bay, the State Building, and many other places of interest. From New York I journeyed coach to Washington, D.C. Here I renewed the acquaintance of Shirley Staples and her now husband. Shirley, before marriage, had lived with us for six months at college while her mother visited with her relatives in Sydney. We had many things to talk about, including the whys and wherefores of Pa’s death, as she called him. Shirley, now married, was on shift work at night, so I saw most of her after my trips around Washington.
Visiting Old Friends
Washington is a beautiful, clean city all laid out four square—the Washington Monument being of special interest. I loved Washington—the White House was spectacular with its gleaming white in the morning sun. Leaving New York and Washington, I passed through Philadelphia and back to the Harding home in Columbus. As time for my departure from the U.S. was looming up, I sadly said good bye to Frances Harding and went to visit the Doctors Murdocks with whom we had worked at Avondale College. Here again I was made most welcome. Ruth and I spent many hours talking of the old times we had at Avondale. She wanted to know details of my husband’s death and all about our children. It’s wonderful to relive old times together with friends.
Leaving Berrien Springs, Michigan, I traveled non-stop back to San Francisco, but not before I met up with the Drs. Godfreys who once worked at the Sydney San. They were looking for a house keeper and pressed me to fill that position. But even high pay did not attract me. I loved my family at home in Australia. In the two days I had before sailing for home, they rushed me here and there, dined me at expensive places, and waved goodbye as I set off on the Orsovo for home. I had visited Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite Valley. The beautiful youth camps were an inspiration.
I can only thank the Lord for His care and protection over me as I traveled the thousands of miles by bus and car and for the kind hospitality of my American friends.
On my last visit to the States and the GC at Dallas, Texas, Marilyn and Arthur joined us and we had a wonderful time together. We were loaned a big Cadillac car for the trip from Bakersfield to Dallas, and for the time away we traveled in comfort visiting as far as Mexico.
After Barry’s term at Bakersfield, he and Norma moved to San Jose and, being closer to San Francisco, I visited many of the sights, including the Museum of Natural Sciences. The Flora and Fauna from the Solomon Islands was of special interest to me as we had entertained the personnel while gathering the specimens from Kopiu where we lived.
We stayed overnight at Pacific Union College, where many of our Australian students attended, before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and leaving for home.
My final years spent at No. 15 unit came to an abrupt end. I fell and broke my finger as Arthur and Marilyn were visiting Avondale. Arthur suggested I return to the farm in Ayr to be under their watchful eye. Ervin, in the Solomons, rang through and pressed me to go back to the farm and be with my daughter. So I packed up, leaving behind a unit I had paid 6000 pounds for and had put in another $1000 in improvements. Barry and Norma came down from Coffs Harbour to help me. I sold much of my stuff and in four days I left behind a unit in which I had spent thirteen years.
I settled into Coff’s Harbour with Norma and Barry for six months and had to do a retreat back to the farm as they were returning to the States. I was happy to return to my own room. I loved the farm, and I cannot speak too highly of my relationship with Arthur as his mother-in-law. I cannot recall one cross word spoken to me. I had watched their five children grow from the cradle to maturity and they are still very close to me as a result.
Looking to the Future in My 99th Year
Time of course moved on and with Arthur becoming a victim of Parkinson’s disease, it became apparent that Marilyn had too much on her hands. With Arthur semi-retired from the farm and with great reluctance and advice from the family, I find myself here in the Hostel at Realand Bay, Brisbane. It is from here I am writing my memories. I am now in my 99th year—sound in mind, but hampered a little by the accident which took my husband just about forty years ago.
I can but thank God for a caring family who have done all in their power to make me happy and comfortable. However, nothing can be exciting surrounded by four walls—only memories—memories of a happy, loving husband and my children. The promise “He will silently plan for thee” has been fully verified in the past years, and with confidence, I look forward to the time when God will make all things new, and unite me with those I so dearly love.
Solomoni sat with his face in his hands. What’s happened to me? he wondered. He had drifted from his parents’ church and had joined a group of boys who used drugs and stole from people. For a while Solomoni had gotten away with his misdeeds and grown
bolder in his badness.
His misdirected life haunted him. God has condemned me for what I’ve done, he thought. I’m lost. I have nothing to lose.
He continued with his life of crime. Eventually he was arrested for robbery and sent to prison. He continued his criminal activities within the prison and returned to his criminal lifestyle once he was released.
Then Solomoni had a series of dreams that haunted him. In one dream a woman stood over him crying. He recognized her and knew that she was a Seventh-day Adventist. Solomoni decided that he must visit the Adventist church and learn why God had sent these dreams.
He entered the church dressed in a T-shirt and casual trousers. No one mentioned his clothes; instead they welcomed him to the service. He sat down and focused on the sermon so intently that some people wondered whether he was on drugs. But Solomoni was sober; he had left that life behind.
Breaking Ties, Forging Bonds
Some of Solomoni’s drug dealer friends saw him and asked where he’d been. They said that they missed him. When Solomoni said that he was no longer dealing drugs, the men warned him of the consequences if he tried to leave. “Do whatever you want to me,” he told them. “I’m going to church.”
Solomoni found God’s love and acceptance in the church. Although he knew little about God and salvation, he understood that God was offering him another chance to be His child, and Solomoni accepted. Just as he had believed that he had fallen from God’s love and had nothing to lose by stealing and doing drugs, now he realized that God had never let go of him. He realized that he had nothing to lose by trusting God.
Solomoni’s parents were surprised at the changes in their son. When his mother realized that her son had indeed given his life to God, she wept, for this was an answer to her lifelong prayers. Solomoni asked to be baptized.
When some of his former friends saw the changes in his life, they wanted to know what had happened to him. Solomoni invited them to church, and several friends went. They knew that it would take a powerful God to change Solomoni, and they wanted to know God too. When Solomoni was baptized, three of his friends—all former gang members—were baptized with him. The pastor urged Solomoni to consider letting God use him in ministry.
Responding to God’s Call
A chill went through Solomoni as he heard the pastor’s challenge. “God has done so much for me, I want to work for Him,” he said. “But with my past, could God really use me as a pastor?”
Some Sabbath School members offered to teach Solomoni how to lead a Sabbath School class, and he accepted. But when the church elders urged him again to consider studying at Fulton College, he hesitated. “I’m not sure I’m worthy,” he said. “I don’t want to bring disgrace to God or His church.” But encouraged by the church members, Solomoni enrolled at Fulton College to study theology.
He had no financial support, but he went in faith that God would provide. He worked hard to pay his school fees. Although he often missed classes because he couldn’t pay his school fees, he never doubted that God would work it out. “I know that God is calling me to serve Him, and I won’t turn back,” Solomoni says. “I see how low I fell during my life of crime and how far God has lifted me up. My life text is Matthew 6:33: ‘Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ [NIV]. I know that my past isn’t far behind, and it wouldn’t take much for me to fall back into that life. So I fix my eyes and my faith on Jesus.”
Solomoni has seen a difference in his parents’ lives. Recently his mother told him he is heading in the right direction. “One day I will come too,” she promised.
Moving Forward in Faith
Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help to establish a new campus for Fulton College to allow more students to prepare to serve their Master. Consider now what you can do to help further the work in the South Pacific through Fulton College.
My name is Tracey. I am an Australian Aborigine. I grew up in a tiny settlement in Western Australia. Although my mother claimed to be a Seventh-day Adventist, I was the only one who went to church. I loved church; I felt safe and loved there.
When I was in high school, my parents moved our family to the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia’s largest city. To a girl from the bush, Perth was a scary place. There wasn’t an Adventist church near our home, so I quit attending church. However, I promised myself that I would never drink alcohol. I had grown up seeing how liquor destroys people’s lives, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
When I finished high school, I moved north to a small town to start my own life. I met a man, and soon we moved in together. I was surrounded by people who urged me to drink, and soon I started drinking. My life began spiraling out of control.
But God kept calling me. He drew me like a magnet toward the life I knew I should be living. I felt tormented, and the only place I knew to find peace was in church.
I found an Adventist church in town and began attending. There I met two people who changed my life: Pastor Davey and a laywoman, Val Royce. Val visited me often, and we became friends. Although she knew that I was drinking, she continued to encourage me. She often said that God was working in my life. I know now that she could only have seen this by faith.
Pastor Davey and his wife also visited me often. He, too, knew that I drank. But he and his wife loved my family and me, even when my own relatives rejected me. Often he said, “One day, Tracey, one day.” I didn’t know at the time what he meant by that.
I was in a downward spiral, drinking every day. But on Sabbath I took my daughter to Sabbath School, where I found a few moments of peace and joy.
Pastor Davey was assigned to another church. Before he left he visited me and told me “I will always have faith in you.” I was drunk at the time, but his words penetrated my alcohol-fogged brain and touched my heart.
My drinking got so bad that my boyfriend and I split up. My sister took my children when I couldn’t take care of them. I was devastated, but I still drank. Trouble broke out in town, and my aunt put me on a bus and sent me to Perth to stay with another relative. I continued to drink for weeks.
One day I decided that I had to get my life back. I entered an alcohol detox center. While I was there I learned that Pastor Davey was in Perth. I asked the nurse to call him and ask him to visit me.
Pastor Davey came to see me. He encouraged me during his visits and continued to tell me, “One day, Tracey, one day.” I still didn’t really know Jesus at this point in my life, but I saw God’s love reflected through Pastor Davey’s life.
While Pastor Davey was working with me, Val Royce was working with my children. She took them to Sabbath School and church every week and taught them that Jesus loves them.
I finally kicked the alcohol habit and left the center. I moved to a women’s refuge where I also worked as a volunteer. I didn’t trust myself to stay away from alcohol, but after two years I finally felt ready to try to get my children back.
I found a job at a school where my children had grown up, and we became a family again. I took them to church, and my daughters were baptized. But I still felt something was missing in my life.
One day Val told me about Mamarapha Bible College, an Adventist Bible school in Western Australia. I liked the idea and decided to enroll. It was there that I began to understand just what God had done for me. Jesus stole my heart, and I decided to follow Him completely. At last Pastor Davey’s words, “one day,” finally made sense. That day had come, the day I surrendered to Jesus.
I’m completing my studies at Mamarapha Bible College, a school that your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering has helped establish. At this school I studied the Bible deeply and began to realize how much God loves me. I’ve given my life to Jesus and want to dedicate what’s left of my life to sharing God’s love with the Aborigines of Australia, just as Pastor Davey and Val Royce did for me.
► Aboriginal Australians, the original settlers of this land, lived off the land, hunting and digging for food in some of the most inhospitable regions of the world.
►The Adventist Church has a number of missions and schools to reach the Aboriginal people. One of them is Mamarapha Bible College, which is located just outside Perth, in Western Australia. A Thirteenth Sabbath Offering several years ago is helping this college minister to Aboriginal Australians and train them for ministry.
I grew up living with my grandmother. When she died, I went to live with my mom. We didn’t have money for shoes, so I went to school wearing flipflops. The other kids teased me, and I became self-conscious of our poverty.
I have learning disabilities, and reading and writing were hard for me. Some of my teachers didn’t understand and accused me of being lazy. But I discovered that I could learn by listening and memorizing. By doing this I finished high school.
Dream and Determination
In spite of my learning difficulties, I wanted to become a teacher. I learned about Fulton College and applied to study education. I didn’t pass the entrance exam for education, so I studied another course instead.
I had no money, but I had faith. And God provided. I worked hard, and God impressed people I didn’t even know to help me when I could see no way to help myself. But the most wonderful thing He did for me while studying at Fulton is that God made it possible for me to learn phonics, and instantly I could read!
I earned a diploma in theology and then studied two more years to receive a diploma to teach. Those were difficult years, but I was determined, and God blessed me. I knew that God was calling me to be a teacher. And praise God, I finally received my diploma in education!
A Teacher at Last
I took a position in a government school on a small isolated island in northern Fiji. There I was assigned to teach sixth through tenth grades to a room full of students with little more than a few textbooks and some chalk. Life was rustic, and we had no electricity or running water.
I discovered that the students couldn’t speak English, the language of instruction in Fiji. I had to put aside the curriculum and teach them English. We held longer class days and met for classes on public holidays so that the children could learn English. The children were eager learners, and their parents supported our extra efforts, for they wanted their children to have a better life.
Finding God’s Calling
It was a difficult year, but I loved it. I had found my calling, to teach the poor and disadvantaged children God put in my path. I was offered a job teaching in an exclusive school in the capital city of Fiji, but I refused. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children who really needed what I could give them.
I had a diploma to teach, but I wanted to earn my degree in education. So last year I returned to Fulton College to complete my degree. Soon I will receive my degree after so many years of working and waiting.
I want to continue working with disadvantaged children, children who must struggle in school. This is my ministry; I understand what they struggle with.
I can’t share my faith with children in government schools, but I can share my values. And I can pray in class. I minister through education, sowing seeds of faith among my students. I know of a number of students and their families who have accepted Jesus and become Adventist Christians because of my influence on their lives. I believe that is what God called me for.
Fulfilling a Mission
Fulton College helped shape my life and prepare me to teach others about God. The difficulties I have faced while studying have helped shape my character and my faith. When I had nothing, God sustained me through Christian brothers and sisters. This struggle has made me a better Christian, a better citizen.
Fulton College has a unique ministry teaching young people from throughout the islands of the South Pacific. The staff and administration at Fulton know the struggles the students face; they believe in prayer and believe in helping where they can.
Fulton College, like its students and staff, has a mission to fulfill. Now it stands at a crossroads. The school must move from the land on which it was built nearly 70 years ago. This can be seen as a setback or a stepping stone. A new location has been found that is more convenient for the thousands who come to Fiji to study. New buildings will be built that are better suited to today’s needs. This quarter on Thirteenth Sabbath, you will have an opportunity to help provide this pioneering school with new facilities to minister to youth in the twenty-first century and beyond. Ask God what He would have you do to help finish the work in the South Pacific.
Alick’s life was filled with anger and violence. He started drinking as a young man, and alcohol fueled his violent temper. He often got into fights and was arrested for assault. But when he was released from prison he fell into his old habits and soon was arrested again.
A Vow of Revenge
While in prison, Alick learned that his wife had been assaulted by another man. Alick vowed to kill the man when he was released. He searched for the man, but the man had disappeared.
Alick couldn’t control his seething anger, and soon he was back in prison. In 2005 when Alick was released from prison, he realized that he couldn’t keep living this way. Something had to change. He sensed that his only hope lay in God. Alick asked God to show him a better way to live.
Alick sensed God telling him, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Alick knew about the Ten Commandments, but he hadn’t attended school and couldn’t read the Bible for himself. He remembered hearing a Seventh-day Adventist say that the Sabbath of the Bible is Saturday. Alick began to keep Sabbath.
One day he met an Adventist lay Bible worker and asked him for help to understand God’s Word. The Bible worker visited Alick’s home every day and explained the Bible to the family for hours. Before long Alick and his family decided to give their lives to Christ and be baptized.
Power of Forgiveness
Alick learned firsthand the power of forgiveness that comes through Christ. Several years earlier, he had worked as a security guard in a hotel. One day a man forced his way into the hotel and tried to take hostages. Alick stepped between the man and the hotel guests to protect them. The man raised his knife and slashed at Alick, cutting deeply into Alick’s head. Alick slumped to the ground, unconscious. Many feared that he was dead.
Alick survived the attack, but he swore that he would kill the man who had attacked him. However, when he was released from the hospital he couldn’t find his attacker.
Then one day after Alick was baptized, he was walking down the street when he recognized the man who had attacked him. What do I do now? he asked God. God impressed him that he must love his enemies and forgive them, even those who had hurt him. Alick walked up to him and put his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Hello, my friend,” Alick said.
The attacker turned and looked into the face of the man he had tried to kill. Fear filled his eyes. “Don’t worry,” Alick said. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’ve come to tell you that I’ve forgiven you, just as Jesus has forgiven me. Now I want to pray for you.”
The man fidgeted and wanted to get out of the public eye, but Alick said, “You attacked me in public, and I want to pray for you in public.” The man allowed Alick to pray with him and was so moved by Alick’s prayer that he began to cry and ask for Alick’s forgiveness. Alick hugged him and shared his faith with him. Today this man has given his life to Jesus and the two men are friends.
The love of Jesus flows through Alick’s life as he seeks to share Jesus with others. “God changed me from a drunk and violent man to His son,” he says. “Now I ask God to lead me to the people I had hurt during my violent years so that I can ask their forgiveness. I want them to know that God has made me new.”
Converting a Pastor
Shortly after his own conversion, Alick visited his cousin Joel, who was a Protestant pastor. The two men talked about their faith, and Joel revealed that he had been troubled about some church doctrines that didn’t seem to align with the Bible. One of these was the Sabbath. He mentioned how God had impressed him that he was preaching heresy and leading others astray, and that he had been praying that God would lead him to all truth.
Alick shared what he was learning, and invited Joel to his home to study the Bible. As Joel listened to Alick, his wife, and the layman who had led them to Christ, they realized that the Adventist Church was indeed God’s true church. Joel and his wife were baptized, and now he is working to lead his church members to the truth as well.
Because of a lack of materials, Joel struggles to teach the children Bible truths he now loves. But this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help make that job easier. Part of this offering will help provide Bible lesson picture charts to children’s Sabbath Schools throughout the South Pacific.
► The Solomon Islands lie northeast of Australia, between Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The nation is made up of about 30 islands. Most Solomon Islanders are of Melanesian descent. Many earn their livelihood by farming and fishing.
► English is the official language, but 80 local languages, including a form of Pidgin, are spoken throughout the islands. Only about half the people in the country can read.
► During World War II the Solomon Islands suffered a great deal during military battles played out on their shores and in the waters surrounding their islands.
Ryan’s Birthday Mission
Like most children, Ryan Wigglesworth from Australia looked forward to his seventh birthday and the party his parents had promised. He would have a birthday cake and play games with his friends. But Ryan wouldn’t receive birthday gifts. Instead it was his family’s tradition that he would ask his friends to bring a donation of money for a special mission project.
Ryan’s family was planning a mission trip to the island of Vanuatu [van-oo-AH-too] in the South Pacific, and Ryan wanted to use his birthday money to buy books and literature to give to the people there so they could learn more about Jesus.
After his birthday Ryan and his mom went to the Adventist Book Center to buy the books for their trip. The store was having a big sale, so Ryan’s money went even further than he dreamed! “We bought 245 books and Bible study guides and other literature,” he says.
Soon the family flew to Vanuatu. They visited a marketplace, where Ryan’s mother bought fruits and vegetables while Ryan gave the children some colorful pamphlets about Jesus. Then Ryan met Sope, a man who worked with prisoners. Ryan gave him some Bible study guides to share with the prisoners.
The family held a week of meetings on two different islands. The first day 49 children came after school. The next day they brought their friends, and the attendance grew to 100! Even though the meetings were for children, some adults came to hear the messages of God’s love. When Ryan and his brothers and parents gave out literature, they were surprised at how happy people were to receive it.
The family said goodbye to their new friends and took a boat to the second island. There they held another series of meetings with much the same results. People were amazed that Ryan and his brothers led out in the programs, even though they were children themselves.
Too soon it was time to say goodbye. Ryan’s family agreed that this was the best possible vacation—sharing God’s love with people who were eager to learn. “The people were so happy to receive even one piece of literature. That was gift enough for me! I know now that even though I’m just a boy, I can do lots of things for Jesus!”
Our mission offerings provide literature and training so that people in South Pacific and around the world can hear God’s message of love.
Samson grew up in an Adventist home, but as a teenager his heart wandered to the life he saw his friends living. He heard them talk of their freedom to do as they pleased, of their refusal to be governed by others’ rules. Samson unwisely left the church and followed his friends. Soon he was partying with them, drinking, and using drugs.
At age 14 he was sent to a juvenile home, but he escaped and returned to the streets. Each time he was caught, authorities sent him farther from his friends, and each time he ran away again. He spent several months in a juvenile survival camp designed to teach teamwork and responsibility. But when he was released, he returned to his friends on the street and soon was in trouble with the law again.
When he reached 18, he was sent to prison for his crimes. He decided to obey all the rules so he could get out earlier.
Samson noticed that a group of Christian prisoners seemed to get more privileges than he did, so he pretended to become a Christian to get in good with the guards. But things didn’t work out as he planned.
He joined a Bible study group and attended chapel services. One day a choir had come to present worship. As he listened, he felt a strange sense of peace. He fought the feeling and thought about leaving, but a voice told him, “Just sit and listen.” He knew God was speaking to him, so he stayed and listened. The music took his breath away, and the message of love and redemption brought tears to his eyes. That day Samson surrendered his life to God. “Do with me whatever You want, Lord,” he prayed. From that day on Samson’s life hasn’t been the same.
Test of Faith
He had plenty of time to read the Bible and pray while in prison. And his prayer was always, “God use me to serve You.” A few months later he was released.
This time, instead of heading back to his friends on the streets, Samson found an Adventist church and began attending. He was determined to stay faithful to God. But life became busy, and soon Samson discovered that he wasn’t spending as much time reading the Bible as he had in prison. Before long he stopped reading it altogether. Then he stopped praying, and eventually he started drinking again. But he continued attending church on Sabbath.
One night while he was out drinking, he fell and seriously injured his head. When he sobered up he realized that he had broken his promises to God and deserved to die, but God had saved him again. Samson asked God to forgive him and remove the desire for alcohol from him. He hasn’t touched it since then.
A New Ministry
Samson remembered how the choir he’d heard that day in prison had touched him. He was musical and wanted to serve God through music. He invited his brother and sisters to join him and form a musical group. They did, and God opened doors for them to present the gospel message through music in New Zealand, Australia, and beyond.
“It feels so good to see people turn their lives over to God,” Samson says. “I know the power of music in a person’s life.”
Samson remembered how he had wanted the glory of becoming a leading drug dealer, but God made him the leader of a musical group instead to sing for His glory. Samson became youth leader in his church and director of the choir. He shares his faith with choir directors from other denominations, and three of them have asked for baptism.
“God answered my prayers, but in ways I could never have imagined,” he says. Today this 26-year-old ex-convict’s only goal is to share his faith with young people, so that they will avoid the pitfalls he fell into.
Samson has returned to jail to minister to the convicts, and many have turned their lives over to God as a result of his testimony.
“It feels good to be on the right side of the law,” he says. “The police sometimes ask what I’m doing now, and it gives me a chance to share my faith with them. And when I pass by the places I used to hang out, I see the same people inside still living the same dead-end life. If they ask, I tell them that thanks to Jesus, I don’t come there anymore.”
Our mission offerings help provide funds for ministries to youth, to prisoners, to anyone who needs to know God’s love firsthand. Thank you for giving.
► While 60 percent of New Zealanders consider themselves Christians, many seldom attend worship services. Of the remaining 40 percent, most claim no religion at all.
► Immigrants to New Zealand have a much higher rate of faith than those of European descent or those who have been in the country for more than a generation. Pray that believers will share their faith with family and friends and encourage others to give their hearts to Jesus.
► Just over 11,000 people in New Zealand are Seventh-day Adventists. This is a ratio of one Adventist for every 372 people. Pray that the church will grow strong in the coming years.
Stories From the South Pacific
Reminiscences of a Missionary Wife
By Irma Butler
I remember the Fijian days so well, even though nearly 70 years have slipped by. I have happy memories, anxious memories, memories of ups and downs. Time has wiped away some of the heartaches and disappointments and somehow I can smile at things that upset me when I was young. I will never forget the many times God intervened on our behalf.
My husband was headmaster of Samabula Indian School, a day and boarding school. There were about one hundred and fifty pupils. There was a house master for the boy boarders. They taught mainly in English. There were only a few girl boarders.
Ted, my husband, had a big task in front of him. In addition to supervising the school, he oversaw the purchasing of food for the boarders on a very tight budget and taught Hindi even as he tried to learn it. No wonder he was always on the go. I don't think he would have been able to do it without the help of his assistants and our friends. [Photo below: Samabula Indian School, Fiji.]
I had my own problems though. I hope I may be forgiven for mentioning a few.
The first few months were rather trying. I was pregnant and really felt the heat. Waiting for the furniture to be made meant the house wasn't as tidy as I would have liked. All things come to those who wait, they tell us, and they were right: the new furniture and the new stove finally arrived. Then there was the problem of the children. We had no way of sending them to school in Suva, so I taught them by correspondence. A Mrs. Hoodless was head of that government department and the lessons were easy to follow.
On 2 May, Ronald Edward Butler was born at Nurse Morrison's private hospital in Suva. Dr Paley delivered him. The doctor looked after us all while we were in Fiji.
We did our shopping at Bums Philips. They delivered our groceries and we became good friends with the head grocer, Mr Spears, and the dear old lift driver. I still have a chopping board, carved out of Fijian wood, he made for me.
The office rang and said that there was a second-hand car for sale. It was in pretty poor shape, but the tyres were fairly good, so we bought it for $26. We painted it and repaired the upholstery, but we soon learned that cars don't run on paint and upholstery. That car kept us poor! However, one of our senior boys had a driving licence and he drove our five and seven-year-olds to the Grammar School each morning and Ted picked them up in the afternoon. We had the use of a piano, so we were able to have music lessons for the children.
Some of the mothers brought their babies to me to ask my advice on how to care for them. One baby boy was very sick and I persuaded the mother to let me look after him. With Dr Paley's help, in a couple of weeks I was able to hand him back, all well again. The mother could speak only a few words of English, and I could speak only a few words of Hindi, but we became very good friends.
Volunteer Service in the Solomon, Vanuatu & Kiribati Islands, 1975-2000
The Prevention and Treatment of Oral Disease
I was standing by the campfire at a weekend gathering for Aboriginal families at Grassy Head, about 30 kilometres north of the city of Kempsey, when one of the men came over to me. Putting his hand on my shoulder he said, "You are now one of us." Acceptance is necessary if people are going to remember at least some of the material a speaker presents. I was encouraged to hear this expression of appreciation.
I was to present dental health lectures and to provide treatment in response to an invitation from the organisers of the camp. They accepted me because I was willing to sleep on the ground with all the rest of the campers, and didn't go to a motel when the truck carrying the beds failed to arrive. My attendance at this camp was the beginning of a 26-year period of volunteer service in the Pacific Islands.
Altogether I visited 26 islands in the countries of Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Kiribati. I found that learning the language of the people and eating local foods helped to cement good relationships.
On a 1976 visit to the Solomon Islands I was working at Talikali, in West Malaita. When it was almost meal time the minister asked if I would like some food. I replied that I would happily have some. He piled my plate high with tapioca patties and gave me a glass of water. We worshipped after the meal and the minister thanked the Lord for the visitor who ate the food put in front of him.
We follow strict protocol every time our clinical team visits a village for the first time. We arrange date and time of arrival over the radio and announce these in the local media. We contact the minister of religion and the village chef on arrival. With their support the team then contact the clinic nurse and the headmaster of the school. Then we select a suitable site - usually this is a location outside, under a tree.[Photo on left: dentist performing dentistry on the road side!]
Now the real work commences. If there is a school teacher in the team he would give simple lectures to a combined gathering of the upper grades in the school. During this time several adults are treated until the arrival of some of the children.
I was refused entry into one village even though the chief's wife was suffering from a raging toothache and indicated that she really wanted me to help her. The power of religious prejudice won out on that occasion.
I look back over many years of satisfying volunteer service. Perhaps one person stands out in my mind. Her name is Tagini. She had a massive tumour in her mouth. Fortunately, at the time, Dr Marion Barnard and his daughter Dr Jo-Ellen (USA) were doing volunteer medical work there. They removed a massive tumour from her mouth and I made a denture for her. On my last visit to the Solomon Islands I called at her home-a grass hut erected over a mangrove swamp. When she remembered me tears came to her eyes and to mine. Now blind she lives alone. We talked for awhile and as I departed she requested I pray for her. What a wonderful change will take place when our Saviour returns soon. Then people like Tagini will be restored to full health and joy.
Tagini, before her tumour was removed.
Tagini after her tumour was removed.
A Dream and an Inner Voice
How the Adventist Mission came to Inland Wewak in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea.
by Robert Jonathan as told to Shirley Tarburton
God sends dreams even to unbelievers to prepare the way for His message and messengers. This was certainly how it happened in Wewak and inland on the Sepik and Karawari Rivers.
The first Seventh-day Adventists visited the north-eastern coast of New Guinea in 1942. Four teachers from Mussau Island went to Madang to teach reading and writing to the children there and to begin evangelistic outreach. They were successful from the beginning despite the fact that the country was in the grip of World War II.
After the war, mission leaders decided to extend the work further west into the Wewak area. At a meeting in 1949, S H Gander was requested to survey the region. In November 1949, Pastor Gander and his team sailed out of Madang Harbour and headed in a north-west direction for the Sepik River, about a hundred miles away.
As soon as they arrived at Wewak, they investigated the possibilities of beginning work in the town, but were disappointed to be told that the Roman Catholic Mission was well entrenched and there was no way they would be allowed to work there. Gander and friends were surprised to learn that theirs was the first Protestant Mission boat to come to the area. Gander decided to return to Madang. On the way back they surveyed the various villages along the river Sepik. Everywhere they went the people requested that the Seventh-day Adventist mission send someone to their village.
After five weeks, the group arrived back in Madang and made their report. Over the next two years (1950-1952), New Guinean missionaries replied to many of the requests made to Pastor Gander.
In 1952 Gander to return to the Sepik district intending to establish the work of the Adventist church especially at Wewak. The missionaries wanted to establish their headquarters in Wewak and to explore ways of extending the reach of the Adventist message along the coast westwards and inland into the mountain area. The problem was not much had changed in the region. The Roman Catholic Church continued to dominate the area. No Protestants were allowed to evangelise there.
Gander prayed to God for guidance. He believed he heard a voice that said, "In the morning take four helpers and go to the Wewak coast. There you will meet a man who will be waiting to see you." Early the next morning, Gander and four other people set out for Wewak.
Ours was a chiefly family with a great deal of power and influence in this area. About this time, in Musuhagen, a heathen mountain village some two days walk inland from Wewak, my uncle, Porei, also received a message. The people there knew nothing about Jesus or the plan of salvation. They worshipped the spirits and the devil often gave them magical powers to do evil things-even kill people. Everyone lived in fear. Not long before this, a number of people had died. My other uncle, Porei's brother, who was a devil priest and also a great warrior could do anything he wished because of his high status and satanic powers. He even used his supernatural power to influence battles between tribes, making sure our tribe won. He enjoyed using the evil powers to accomplish his wishes.
Porei had a dream. In this dream he was standing watching a small, white ship heading towards the shore. The captain was a white man, and on board were a number of New Guinea men with clean clothes and shiny white teeth. The white man called out to him and said, "We will be coming to your village in three weeks. Tell the people in all the villages to come and meet with us because we have a very special message to bring to you all."
In the morning he told everyone about his dream. The news spread quickly. His brother joined him in going to other villages up in the hills to announce the coming of the white man. Many had never seen a white man. Some thought they were the spirits of our ancestors who were visiting to give us comfort and peace in these times of trouble.
After spreading the news of the coming visitors, my uncle hurried up the steep trails and across the mountain ridges to meet the expected group. He spent two nights on the way and was anxious in case he would arrive too late and miss them. However, as he was nearing the end of the bush trail approaching the shore, he saw a man coming towards him. How pleasantly surprised he was to see that it was the very man he had seen in his dream.
He learned the visitor's name was Pastor Gander. Back to the village they went. The villagers were happy to welcome the special visitors. People from other villages were also interested to hear what the "special" people had to say, so the missionaries separated in order to visit other places.
The evil forces opposed the power of the gospel, but God's power was stronger than the devil's. Soon people's lives began to change. As people forsook the evil forces, the Holy Spirit gave them a new hope. The people began to worship the true God of heaven in a bush church they themselves built.
Braving Cannibals and Crocodiles
The story of evangelist Daniel Teta.
by Bronwyn G. Mison, communication director for the South Pacific Division
He stands only five feet tall with a broad nose and deep, soft eyes. His tight, curly beard and silver-streaked hair frame a gentle face and a big white smile. But Seventh-day Adventist minister Pastor Daniel Teta has braved cannibals and crocodiles to share Jesus with the people of Papua New Guinea.
To sit and story with Pastor Teta is fascinating. He mixes English, pidgin, and hand gestures to piece together a summary of his ministry and the remarkable work of the Adventist Church in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. This is a small part of his story.
Pastor Teta is from Tari, in the Southern Highlands. He is currently ministering in two districts in the Koroba area. He is caring for four established Adventist churches and 26 so-called "hand" churches, while serving as an evangelist at the same time. He originally worked for the government and can recall the day when his cousin invited him to listen to a White missionary who visited his village telling the people about the God in heaven and about not eating pigs. After discovering this God, Pastor Teta began his ministry as a church volunteer in 1964. He became a full-time evangelist in 1969 and developed a strong desire to minister to cannibals in the hill tribes. He believed that God would make it possible.
An opportunity came while he was ministering on the coastal area of the Western province in 1972. Pastor Teta recognized a group of passing visitors as cannibals after supplying them with salt, matches, soap, and razors. The chief invited Pastor Teta to visit the cannibals' village on the Nomad River, and promised protection. The two agreed that Pastor Teta would visit in a week's time, but Pastor Teta decided he would delay the visit a few more days to ensure his safety--he didn't want to be ambushed. Despite attempts from the local police to persuade Pastor Teta not to go into this dangerous area, he secretly began his full-day journey on foot.
Pastor Teta arrived at the village to a warm reception by the chief. Pastor Teta decided to cool down at the river, where he watched three men trying to catch a 12-foot (3.7-meter) crocodile. Using their skill and instinct, the men worked for some time to lure the animal into their handmade trap, but with no success. Finally, they decided to leave the water. Pastor Teta then thought he would take a look.
Crunch! Before Pastor Teta knew what had happened, the crocodile had attacked and clamped its teeth across both Pastor Teta's arms and dragged him to the deepest, darkest part of the river. Pastor Teta can remember looking into the animal's big eyes wondering how he would free himself. When you talk with Pastor Teta, he describes the bottom of the river in detail. "I could see the turtles swimming by and the fish swimming about in a frenzy as they tasted my blood," he says. For a moment Pastor Teta wondered if he would die, but the biblical story of Jonah came to mind. "I began to feel peace," he says. "I knew that God had saved Jonah in the belly of a fish, and that He would save me. I knew that God had sent me to these people--the Lord has a thousand ways to protect those who are in His work."
Eventually getting one arm out of the jaws of the crocodile, Pastor Teta reached for a small stick on the bottom of the river and tried to hit the crocodile in the eye. This caused the crocodile to thrash its body from side to side in a death roll, which almost severed Pastor Teta's arm. "I didn't think about breathing," says Pastor Teta. "Instead, I began to pull the crocodile to shallow water." He would later discover that he had been under the water for a long time.
Finally breaking free of the crocodile, Pastor Teta dragged himself to the bank of the river, where the chief, the three men, and village boys who had been searching for him stood. The fire that had been burning had long since died out. The chief killed the crocodile with his axe and helped Pastor Teta stem the rapid loss of blood. Pastor Teta's arm was stripped of skin and full of crushed bone.
That afternoon, as it started to get dark, Pastor Teta was impressed to leave the village because the sight of blood may have encouraged the cannibals to eat him. Pastor Teta's new friend, the chief, held and supported him as they began an 18.6-mile (30-kilometer) journey to a main road. Pastor Teta doesn't remember much of the journey because he repeatedly blacked out and regained consciousness as the hours passed. But the chief later told him that despite his injuries and unconsciousness, he had walked the whole way.
At Death's Door
Once at the main road, Pastor Teta opened his eyes to see two young men approaching. He described them as clean and in white sago leaves and traditional dress. "They were so clean and very tall. The chief with me was frightened. I asked them to go for help by contacting the nearest police station." Pastor Teta watched the men walk off into the distance side by side, rather than one behind the other, as is the custom in Papua New Guinea. He then blacked out again. He knew he had seen angels. Pastor Teta woke to muffled voices, with the chief still by his side and cradling his head. Help had arrived.
At this point Pastor Teta--completely yellow because of the loss of blood--asked the chief to bury him in the chief's village if he should die. Pastor Teta could tell that those around him thought he wouldn't survive. "On the inside I still believed God had work for me to do, and that if He wanted to, He was able to save me."
The next three months would see Pastor Teta undergo operations and an amazing recovery in the Balimo Hospital in the Western province. With determination he managed to keep his arm, not allowing the doctors to amputate because, he argued, "I need it for evangelism." Pastor Teta told the doctors, "I don't need to worry about infection, because the Lord has brought me this far--just do your part in repairing the arm, and God will do the rest." Further operations at Sopas Adventist Hospital helped Pastor Teta to regain full use of his arm and his fingers.
Finally, Pastor Teta was on his way home. He recalls arriving back on a Monday in his village and on the Wednesday setting out again on the long journey to find the Nomad River and the cannibal chief. When he arrived at the village, the chief led Pastor Teta to an abandoned hut where his picture scroll, Bible, and bags lay. Thinking he had died, the villagers had not touched his belongings.
The villagers realized that a miraculous power had saved Pastor Teta. He began to work with the cannibals who, in time, became Adventists, along with many other inhabitants of the highlands.
Today, Pastor Teta smiles as he tells of God's love for the cannibals of Papua New Guinea and how God used him to minister. He is married to Esther and has six children, who have supported him as he has evangelised.
This year alone Pastor Teta will baptise more than 100 people. When you ask him about his technique, he says, "I have a team of 10 who help carry my amplifier and generator to the top of a valley. We set it up, and I preach for a week. My message is broadcast all through the valley. Gradually, people come out of their homes to listen, and as they do, they invite me into their villages to share more and conduct Bible studies." Recently Pastor Teta has been working with 36 people. He tailors his message to the specific needs of the people he is working with.The Lord keeps opening up villages to this enthusiastic evangelist who, despite the odds, continues to share a message of hope.
Daniel Teta, baptising people in Papua New Guinea.
Taming the Brute!
Pastor Mike Brownhill, Global Mission project coordinator, South Queensland, Australia.
It’s not every day you get to baptize three rodeo champions, but that was our happy lot recently.
Over the years a number of pastors had the privilege of studying with the Jones family from Woodford, South Queensland, including David Lamb, Murray House, Michael Worker, my Global Mission pioneer, Steven Groom, and me. It reminded me of Jesus’ words recorded in John 4:37 about one sowing and another reaping.
Taking the Plunge
Dale and Patricia Jones had had enough sowing, it was decision time! Finally yielding to the convicting voice of the Spirit, Dale sussed out a good waterhole on the Stanley River at the rear of his farm and they took the plunge in baptism, conducted by Steven Groom and me.
It was all too much for Dale’s brother, Darryl, watching from the riverbank. When I issued a call for others to be baptized or rebaptized, Darryl plunged in too, boots and all.
The three candidates between them hold impressive achievements on the rodeo circuit: Dale was rookie bull-riding champion of the National Rodeo Association for 1993 and Senior Champion for 1994 and 1995. The list of championships he’s won goes on and on. These days he’s into tamer pursuits, he and Patricia break-in horses for a living.
Limping in Public
“I was such a stubborn and proud man because the rodeo scene is a tough and proud world," says Dale. "Even if you’re injured you don’t show it to the crowd. You don’t limp in public. I was far to proud to ask for help, and I thought I would be showing weakness to even admit that I needed help. God needed to soften my proud heart, which He finally did, and brought an end to my rebellion. It’s still a constant struggle, and sometimes if I’m breaking a horse and remember that I haven’t given myself to God for that day, I’ll just stop and ask Him to take over the rest of my day. Finding God has certainly made me a much better husband and a better dad.”
Patricia was 1993 National Rodeo Association Queen, Miss Photogenic of the Association the same year, 1994 Rookie Breakaway Roping Champion, and a Bull-Rider in her own right. As Rodeo Queen she rode a (tame) bull in a procession down the main street of Caboolture, which certainly stopped traffic!
Darryl Jones won the National Steer-Wrestling Championship in 1994, Circuit Champion in 1998 and 2000, Australian Circuit Champion in 2001, Mt. Isa Champion 2006, and is currently leading the Sunshine Circuit, encompassing Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales. He’s accomplished all this
without ever attending a rodeo on Sabbath.
“I felt the need for rebaptism because I was losing some of my fearlessness in witnessing for my Lord," says Darryl. "Since the baptism I’ve regained that holy boldness and joy in the Lord."
Between them the family has won nearly every title in the association. Even as little children the brothers were champion poddy riders. They owe their love for the rodeo to their father, Bill Jones, who in his time was Queensland Champion Bull-Dogger and Calf Roper. (For the uninitiated, that means jumping off a horse, wresting a steer to the ground, and tying up its legs.) They all reckon they’ve broken more bones than they can count—arms, legs, noses, ankles, fingers, shoulder blades, ribs, and the list goes on.
Bill and his wife, Bronwyn, have been praying for their sons and daughter-in law for years, and saw the fruit of their prayers down by the riverside recently.
Lapping Up the Things of Christ
Patricia’s comment on the day summed up their combined feelings, “Now that I’ve decided to follow Jesus it’s all totally different. We’re both lapping up the things of Christ. It’s an indescribable experience that wells up from within. You feel like you’re on a high while you’re still walking around in this sinful world. It leaves being National Rodeo Queen for dead!”
Dale and Patricia, along with their daughter, Courtney, and son, Billy, now worship with the new Seventh-day Adventist church plant at Woodford, a Global Mission initiative that commenced in 2005 and now averages around thirty in attendance.
1. National Rodeo Champion, Dale Jones
2. Patricia Jones riding the Barrel-run
3. Baptismal group (from left): Pastor Mike Brownhill, Global Mission pioneer Steve Groom, Darryl Jones (brother), Dale and Patricia Jones with children Courtney and Billy, and Pastor David Lamb.
Twelve-year-old Dorcas leaned forward on the log bench under a makeshift tent and listened carefully to the teacher tell a Bible story. She was attending summer camp in southeastern Papua New Guinea. Dorcas loved the crafts and the singing and the games they played. But most of all she loved learning more Bible stories. Every day the teacher gave the children a Bible verse card and challenged them to memorize the text on it.
When camp ended, Dorcas boarded a truck for the long ride to her village. As the truck bumped along, Dorcas formed a plan in her mind.
When she arrived home she asked her father, “Will you make copies of these Bible texts so I can give them to my friends at school? They don’t have Bibles and don’t know any Bible texts.”
Dorcas’s father hand-copied the Bible texts for her, and Dorcas took them to school. She invited her friends to meet her outside during recess. There she gave each of them a Bible text and invited them to memorize the verse. Dorcas promised more Bible texts when they’d learned the first ones. The girls agreed to meet the next day.
The next day 10 girls gathered around Dorcas during recess. The group met every day and continued to grow. In two weeks 20 girls were meeting during recess.
A Bigger Plan
When Dorcas told her mother that 20 children were meeting every day, Mother suggested they come to their house after school. So she invited her friends to her house. She planned a program, taught the children songs, told Bible stories, and did crafts like those she had learned at camp. And the group continued to grow.
When the children learned about the Sabbath, they asked to meet on Sabbath as well. Within six months 50 children came to the Bible club, and almost 100 people—including some parents—came on Sabbath. Dorcas’s parents helped her lead the large group.
Dorcas’s parents wanted her to attend an Adventist school, but the nearest one was 16 hours away by cargo boat. Dorcas was excited about her new school, but she didn’t want to leave her Bible club. Her parents assured her that they would continue the Bible club. And they did.
The Surprise Church
When Dorcas came home six months later, she was excited to see that her Bible club had grown into a church! And 34 of them are baptized Adventists, including some of her friends from school.
Last December Dorcas came home for Christmas break and joined the believers who were meeting under a large tarp. They sit on logs lashed together a few inches off the ground. But the group is growing stronger and reaching out to others.
Early one morning Dorcas got up and dressed to go to the marketplace, where children from her church go twice a week to sing songs and speak over a loudspeaker to the people setting up for market day.
“I’m happy that God used me, a child, to help others come to Jesus,” Dorcas says. “I never expected a new church to form when I started giving out Bible verse cards. I just wanted to teach my friends who are not Adventists to love the Bible. Most of the children in my village don’t have Bibles, and I wanted them to meet Jesus and know Him as I do.” She looks around at all the people smiling at her, and then she adds, “I guess that it’s working.”
At the end of her Christmas break from school, church members gathered at the riverside where Dorcas and her friends first started learning Bible verses. Several of the girls walked into the water with Dorcas and the pastor. The friends had already been baptized because of Dorcas’s testimony, but they wanted to stand with Dorcas as she, too, was baptized.
Dorcas returned to school, where she has started an early-morning prayer group before classes. She also formed a singing group that ministers through music during the church services at the school. “I’m looking for other ways I can serve God,” she says. “I’ve learned that it’s easy to do things for Jesus. Just do what you like to do, but do it for God. He’ll make it a success. It’s hard work, but it’s a joyful thing to do.”
Our mission offerings help plant churches such as the one Dorcas and her family planted in their village in Papua New Guinea. Thank you for your faithful sacrifices that help lead others to Christ.
► About 6.3 million people live in Papua New Guinea. More than 237,000 of them are Seventh-day Adventists. That’s more than half the 400,000 Adventists living in all of the South Pacific Division.
►Dozens of mission schools, from primary to university level, teach young people, reaching thousands of homes with the gospel message while they train their students for service.
►Even so, hundreds of villages throughout this mountainous country and thousands of people still don’t know that Jesus loves them, that He died for them.
A vibrant and growing church can’t be business as usual. And the Northpoint Adventist Church in Melbourne, Australia, is an example of a vibrant and growing church plant.
Since it began with four members in 2003, the Northpoint church has made it their goal to reach out to others. “We want to be visible," says Pastor Loren Pratt. The members have developed creative ways to show their interest in their neighbors.
Every month members visit their neighbors bearing small gifts. One month they gave away lightbulbs, saying they wanted to brighten their neighbors’ day. When daylight saving time approached, they gave out batteries for smoke alarms. And at Christmas Pastor Loren’s wife makes 300 handmade Christmas cards for members’ neighbors.
Sometimes people chuckle when they see church members coming with small gifts. But these church members think that it’s more fun to give something than to ask them for something.
And people have responded. In 2004 they formed their first cell group with just four people. Within a year that group grew to 25. They formed other cell groups, and so far the church has celebrated 54 baptisms and averages about 70 in weekly attendance.
The church has other outreach ministries, such as a vegetarian cooking club that invites people to come, eat, and talk together over a healthful meal. “They see who we are, and it breaks down prejudice,” the pastor explains.
Religion in a Barbecue?
Another family lives in a low-income apartment complex where many of the residents are immigrants to Australia. Mary; her husband, Alex; and Mary’s mom, Sara, are new members of the church. They wanted to reach their neighbors for Christ, but they knew that traditional outreach wouldn’t work. So they chose to have a barbecue for their neighbors. The first time they did it 80 people came. Now they have a neighborhood barbecue every month and invite their neighbors. Other church members help the trio to prepare the food and mingle with the people. It’s free, and neighbors enjoy eating and chatting with people they don’t get to see regularly.
Food is expensive, so Mary’s mother asks for food donations from friends and businesses. “Why do you do this,” a police officer once asked them.
“We want people to know that we care about them, that the church cares about them,” Sara replied. The officer was so impressed that he offered to help provide food for the event.
“This barbecue has helped me get out among my neighbors,” says Mary. “We get to know them and the problems they face. Then we can offer our help.” “We’ve made lots of friends through the barbecues,” Alex adds. “It’s great to see people sitting around the tables eating and visiting. I notice that they are looking out for each other more now.”
One woman in the neighborhood was initially unkind to Mary when she first moved to the neighborhood. Recently she asked Mary to take her to church. Other people are struggling with drugs, being single parents, or other issues. “We try to help them and invite them to church,” Sara says. “They come and find a ministry, and they do it. That’s what church should be.”
Try It; You’ll Like It
Anthea and her family have been blessed by members of the Northpoint church, who worship in a neighborhood community center. “I had wandered away from God,” Anthea says. “But when I was ready to come back, God provided a church right across the street!”
Anthea became so excited about this church and its ministry to the community that she invited her parents, her siblings, and her friends to come. One by one they attended and realized that this wasn’t your traditional church. This was exciting worship and outreach. Eventually several members of her family have come to Christ through the Northpoint church plant. But her husband hesitated. Then on Mother’s Day Anthea told her husband, “The only thing I want is for you to attend church with me.” He surprised Anthea by attending when she didn’t expect it. And he continues to attend. His faith is growing.
The Northpoint church members believe that faith must lead to discipleship and outreach. And this outreach has brought dozens to Christ in a short time.
Your mission offerings help support church plants throughout Australia, one of the most secular nations in the world. And through these vibrant new churches, hundreds are finding faith. Thank you for sharing your mission offerings so that others may know about God’s vibrant love for them.
► Most people think of Global Mission projects existing in areas of the world dominated by non-Christian religions. But several Global Mission outreaches across Australia and New Zealand are establishing new churches in major cities and many towns where the need arises.
►Several Global Mission outreach projects are planting churches near universities in large cities in Australia, including Melbourne and Perth. These projects focus on reaching university students and young professionals in the city centers.