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!