He now has more time to think abstractly and write blogs.
I grew up in Oceana in a relatively poor family with no radio, bathroom and an outside toilet. A toilet, that when the bucket was full, was emptied into a hole dug specifically for that purpose. As soon as we were old enough, old enough to dig, this became one of my chores. We all lived in a small country cottage, a bed for the parents, a smaller bed for the kids; a large enough yard to play cricket and kick a football – all you could ever need as a small boy growing up in the country. Continue reading “Introductory Regime”→
I write a daily devotional, and must confess that I’ve been slack in being involved with this blog. I wanted to get up to Christmas with the devotional ( https://as-i-read-it.com ) so that as it gets busier at this time of the year I would be well prepared. Nevertheless the last post which I wrote for heated stew received a comment requesting a few more memories of old cards – so here goes, four more!
The surgeon who sent this Christmas card to me was the senior registrar when I was an intern being trained at the QEH in South Australia. Several years later when I had very recently obtained my higher surgical degree and was making plans to go to the mission field in Ethiopia I had a phone call from him. I had several months to get things sorted out and was looking for a bit of assisting work until my departure.
He, however, wanted more than that. He wanted me to be a locum for him for a couple of months. He was off work because of an injury. He had been called in to assist an Obs/gynae friend at a difficult operation. The other chap had cut his hand and divided an extensor tendon on one of his fingers! This put him out of action as a surgical operator for some six weeks.
Later on when I had to leave Ethiopia for health reasons and when somewhat recovered was looking for work I did a year’s locum – six months for him and six months for his then surgical partner.
While I was a medical student, there was a Billy Graham Crusade in Adelaide. I was a counsellor and amongst others had the privilege of counselling twin boys in their early teens. During the follow up of those contacts I got to know the family very well. The boys decision to become Christians took fire within the family. Their sister became a keen young Christian and the parents who for some years had stopped any church connection began going again. The father was a dentist and became my dentist for many years (I grew up on tank water and no fluorides and have had terrible teeth). The twins who are now well into their seventies and I keep sporadically in touch, and I read with interest comments which the sister frequently makes in Facebook. They have stuck with their decisions of that time.
This card must have been written in 1960, for that was when I turned 21. I spent the day in camp with my National Service Training Group on the South Coast of South Australia. I was given the evening off and my father picked me up and took me to a party in the local institute near our home. I arrived back in camp about 2 AM, fell into a deep sleep in my tent and woke up late for duty the next morning soaked through and sleeping in a puddle as it had rained very heavily during the early hours of the morning.
But the card has many more memories than that it was sent by an ex-missionary who was a fellow medical student but years older. He had been in Ethiopia when the Italians invaded. He fled to Kenya and joined the British Army (he was a N’Zer) as a private, rose to be a Lieut-Colonel, and was at the end of the war appointed as Governor of British Somalia. He decided to go back and do medicine in order to return to Ethiopia and help the people. He never made it. He found the medical course difficult and just at the end of sixth year dropped dead from a heart attack, helping a neighbour pushstart their car. He was one of those who encouraged me to consider Ethiopia as a place to work.
A very simple card from a very dignified and knowledgeable Reader in Anatomy. He went on to become a professor. I spent 12 months as a demonstrator in Anatomy in his department when studying for the first part of my FRACS degree. There were 12 of us at that level all studying for our primary part of the degree. As you can imagine that as we tutored students, studied, ate together, horsed around, went to the local pub for Friday lunch each week, a lot of things were discussed. It became clear that only 2 of us had a commitment to the Christian Faith. Most were atheistic or agnostic. Two were Jewish. It was not a divisive thing but we all knew what our attitudes were.
We twelve were part of the 51 who sat the exam, which we knew had a high failure rate. Only 13 passed and only four were sitting for the first time. But my friend and I were two of the four who passed first time, and the only ones who passed from our group of 12. The other ten put on a party for us but complained during the hilarious time ‘It is not fair of God to bless those who believe in Him.’ I’m sure that many Christians have failed first time up but the statement is interesting!
Something is often quoted about death and taxes being unavoidable. Well with both of us in the eighties and not working taxes are getting less but death is drawing nearer. My wife has kept every letter that I wrote to her while courting and throughout the nearly 59 years of married life plus all the birthday and Christmas and even our wedding cards. Fortunately of latter years we’ve been using computers. So they are still in her possession but much more neatly stored.
To give her credit she has begun going through the several metre high pile and transferring them from her desk to mine with the instruction that I am to destroy or keep them. And you think that it would be easy to just pick them up and throw them in the bin, but I can’t help looking inside. And not, I hope boring you, I will share a few long forgotten memories. I have a pile of them in front of me and will just randomly pick up a few and share the memories.
Number 1. From the family with whom I stayed and for whom I worked for several long University holidays. They had a large farm and I drove big tractors, carried and stored many tons of sheaves of hay, carried wool bales.etc. I remember one day when the man, David, and I were transferring bales of wool. We were at each end both with hooks to stick into the bales and carry them. I was shocked when he said that the next one was too heavy for me and he picked it up on his own back and carried it to where we were storing them. I was about 20 and thought of myself as a well grown and strong country boy. I was humiliated but had awe at his strength. We kept in contact for years and both my wife and I attended his funeral maybe 10 years ago.
Number 2. When we returned from Melbourne, where I had been a demonstrator in Anatomy at Monash University to Adelaide our neighbours were a lovely family. But we lived in different worlds. I was a surgical trainee in a large hospital, the husband was a workers’ union representative. I had to have a tonsillectomy for a recurrent tonsillitis with quinsy. The wife said to me that she hoped it hurt like h*ll. And I had thought that we got on well! She explained that she was sympathetic but wanted me to be a very sympathetic doctor and this was a good opportunity to learn about the nastiness of pain. I was happy but she didn’t get her way because the removal of the offending tonsils and the chronic abscess gave me such relief that I was able to eat a normal meal the next day! We remained good friends for many years until distance drew us apart.
Number 3. When I was in the last year of medical school family friends who lived in the district but a bit out in the bush, called the doctor from about 20 Km away in the nearest town and then asked me, as I lived nearby, to come quickly. The husband had become unconscious. By the time I arrived the unconscious man had regained consciousness but I, on examining him, found an ‘up-going’ toe on one side, which indicates the possibility of some brain problem. By the time the doctor came it was no longer present and I think that he thought that I had made a mistake. so he just reassured them and left. That night the patient had a massive stroke and was greatly incapacitated for the rest of his life. The doctor said to me later that he was sorry that he hadn’t taken more notice of what I said. It may have been preventable with urgent action. He was a good doctor, but we all make mistakes, a very costly one on this occasion.
Number 4. This one was from an Uncle, my dad’s brother, and his wife. They are both long dead. They had no children and I think that I was the only nephew/niece that ever visited them. In his wife’s presence he told my wife and I that when he died he would leave us his house. He died first and of course the home went to his wife. When she died some years later, she left it the cat’s home. She had a lovely old cat of which she was very fond. I hope the home let the cat die in luxury. The Aunt left us a tea set, which we still have and it is very nice.
Well there are a million more cards but that’s enough to show you what I mean!
I grew up until I went to primary school during WW11 on a farm. And I spent some time there during my primary school years but I could never claim to have been trained in the administrative aspects of farming. I loved dipping sheep and having the occasional pet lamb. I kept the sheep up to the shearers and helped take them to different paddocks. I’d hold them while their tails were docked and the ram lambs were made into wethers but I never learnt about rotating paddocks and my grandfather had many paddocks spread around the district. It was a good way to grow up but I couldn’t say that I was an educated sheep farmer.
Some years ago I bought a bit of land as an investment (I didn’t have much superannuation), with the plan of later subdividing it. This was a reasonable aim as it was gazetted by the local government to be able to be sub-divided as soon as town water was brought to the area. But as the water came the local government decided to stop one small block away from my property and changed the gazetting so that it was no longer able to be subdivided.
When I retired from my chosen profession and returned from missionary type work in Ethiopia we moved to our small 100 acre block and decided to start a small flock of Dorper sheep, to use the land and give us a bit to do. Why Dorpers – because they shed their wool and don’t need to be shorn. They breed about every 8 months and produce many twins and triplets and have high quality meat.
And as you can see in this picture we are getting a good crop of lambs. White, black, spots of brown but they are mainly white. One set of twins have black tips to their noses and black short socks, etc. New life is wonderful! Seeing them playing chasey (or however you spell it!) and frolicking joyously is grand!
BUT….. But there are dingoes (or maybe it was a pack of wild dogs) which killed two ewes and a lamb a couple of weeks ago. So we have been keeping them locked up at night. The neighbour, who had lost many more sheep, put out, with council authority, baits and we have no more losses to canines. But last night a dingo was howling nearby. So we must still be careful. And in one day we lost 4 lambs – two still born and two killed by eagles. Well one of the still born ones was very small and still alive when I let them out in the morning. I initially though it was dead but saw a small flicker of breath, gave it some mouth to nose resuscitation, and brought it home to warm it and try to feed it – but it died a few hours later. The second eagle attack was on a much bigger lamb but there were talon marks near its shoulder which I think had gone into its lung and another deep injury over its hind quarter. Again we brought it home and tried to care for it, but it died shortly afterwards.
Even the death of a little lamb claws at my emotions. I hate and I cannot understand the abortion industry.
Some may call me a hypocrite as I still am a carnivore. But I insist that animals be killed ‘humanely’. And I shudder with the word humane as I think of abortions and the cruelty of wars and domestic violence and the like.
When I have not much to do, which is more often than it should be, I love looking through old photos and reliving experiences. Today’s picture could have been taken in any of the cities in which we lived in Ethiopia. I’ve tried to mark some things which reflect the economy of the land, and I comment on them. Remember that the population is still about 85% rural which tends to be poorer than the cities.
You can see the tall unmarked pole, which is either a telephone (unlikely) or an electricity one. But you cannot see any connections to any of the dwellings. It is passing through to a richer area, and there are some very rich areas!
The pink arrow points to a water tank. There are no gutters visible. There is a water distribution throughout the city but it is frequently not available, so when you can, you fill up a reservoir against those times.
The red hexagons mark the different standards of roofing, some of which are virtually non existent. They have periods of very heavy rains.
The purple arrow marks an example of child labour. Sheets of iron are being put onto the roof.He is obviously a teenager but often you see little kids carrying far too heavy loads and with great responsibility – often carrying babies on their backs or with loads of wood on their backs.
The red arrow shows the outlet above the communal toilet. People often shower over the toilet or under a spray in the open. From personal experience you try to not need ‘to go’ when visiting these places!
The blue arrow marks a group of ladies in community. You can see their beautiful white teeth, as grinning they look up to where I am taking a photo.
The white arrow indicates their love of cleanliness in the midst of difficult circumstances.Their white clothes are sparkling!
I listened last night to an economist presenting a lecture on why and how the ‘western’ world and China wants to and does keep sub Saharan Africa under their control and in relative poverty. The main thrust of the paper seemed to be that Africa is a prime source of fundamental needs which Industrial countries must have and so at all costs Africans are to be stopped from becoming industrialized so that they could use their own resources. They do this in a number of ways but to a large degree by providing aid and loans, with strings attached, which make the provider the master. In addition if they can get the ‘right’ people in power that also makes the job easier by subtle use of bribery and corruption. If you wish you can listen yourself on Youtube – ‘Underdevelopment’ in Africa – What’s the real story? by Howard Nicholas. An Associate Professor of Economics in the Netherlands.
At the end after marking ‘watch if you want to’ some nastier medical photos but prior to that just some of the poverty photos which are so common.
Of course I could show you many beautiful buildings and better roads, but most of them, although seen as a solution, are part of the problem, as they have been built by aid and include the debts owed which keep the population under control. They are in the cities where only about 20% of the population live. 80% of the population are rural. Many are without decent roads, transport, electricity etc.