Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ruth White

The following excerpts have been taken, with permission, from Ruth's autobiography, 'Called to be a Fisher of Men' (pictured), which was published in 2006. The photo of Ruth as a school girl was taken 1934, ready to commence her studies at Brisbane State High School.

On 11 June 1920, I was born the last of eight children to Francis and Jane White, in the large family home on School of Arts Road, Redland Bay. The waters of the bay lapped the eastern boundary of our 24-acre property called 'Mt Carmel Orchard'. The name 'Carmel' primarily means 'Mountain of God', but with a second significant meaning, 'The Zenith of Fruitfulness'. This meaning aptly describes the amazing variety of fruits grown in the orchard's incredibly fertile red soil - such as custard apples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, pineapples and citrus of many varieties.

The view of the blue waters, surrounded by many islands is spectacular and a constant delight to the eye. From earliest years, we children swam, frolicked, and had great fun in the water. Especially in the summer holidays, we would run down to the beach when the tide was full in and enjoy swimming and diving. Later on, sailing in my brother's 18-foot yacht was great fun. At other times, we would row out into the deep channel in a small dinghy and spend time fishing. I'll never forget the day when my father and I were out fishing and the little boat capsized and we were thrown out into the deep water. Fortunately, a local fisherman saw our plight and heard our calls for help and came to our rescue. But we were also solemnly warned of the hazards and dangers that abound in the sea. It was on December 30th, 1905 that a tragic accident occurred. My mother's only brother, William aged 18 years, was drowned while trying to save the life of a yong lady. After the drowning of his son, Grandfather Fielding donated a corner of his property in Queen Street for the building of a Baptist Church.

Family History

"Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithfyul God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations" Deuteronomy 7:9.
My father, Francis White was born in Petrie (on the northern side of Brisbane) in 1879. As a young man he was soundly converted and fellowshipped with other young men of the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). His interest in the church as a preacher and singer led him to meet Jane Fielding whom he married in 1909. In 1913, Francis and his family moved from Brisbane to the 24-acre property in Redland Bay which he named 'Mt Carmel Orchard'.

Dad was a man of integrity always defending the truth. He had a strong character and was a man of prayer. After a hard day's work in the sun, and after cleaning up, it was his custom to kneel beside his bed in prayer before the evening meal.

After breakfast, family worship was observed when Dad read a passage of Scripture and then we all knelt down around the table when Dad led in prayer. Here let me state that my father, observing family worship daily, made a tremendous impression upon me. It was also a very stabilizing factor, when as a young adult I entered society.

He was a gifted public speaker and so he was called upon to preach at the local Baptist and Methodist churches when his turn came around. Moreover, he was chairman of the school committee, and several fruit growing committees. He had an outstanding bass voice and the quartets in which he sang in the Redland Bay Baptist Church were beautiful and something to remember. Dad was a Sunday School teacher and after Grandfather Fielding was unable to continue, he became Superintendent. There were no medical facilities in the district in the early days and Dad became known as the 'local doctor'. When people were sick or in trouble they would come to him for help and advice. He contributed much to the welfare of the community and was highly respected.

And what can I say about my dear mother? Read Proverbs 31:10-31 and this will give you a good description of her character. In the obituary, at the time of her death in her 97th year, verses 28-29 were quoted: "Her children arise up, and call her blessed ... Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." Mother was loving, self-sacrificing, capable, dilligent and highly organized.

She would be up first in the morning to light the wood stove and have the room warm on a cold, winter day and a hot bowl of porridge for all. I can still remember her singing, 'My Jesus I love Thee'. as she sat at the kitchen table making sandwiches for the many lunches required for the family. Her cooking was superb and there was never any lack. She was an excellent needlewoman, and even before marriage, she went to Brisbane for oil painting lessons under Sir Godfrey Rivers. When still a very young child, I was taught to pray at my mother's knee. At an early age, I attended Christian Endeavour, Suday School and the church services. Sundays were strictly observed as the 'Lord's Day'. No outside work was done even in the busiest of seasons.

I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and at age 16 was baptized. For years, Grandfather Fielding had us all enter Scripture Examinations set by the Baptist Union of Queensland. One year, I gained the gold medal. In this way, we memorized many passages of Scripture and got to know the Bible well.

Following in my mother's footspeps, I attended the Redland Bay State School. That meant a two-mile walk to school and a two-mile walk back home. It was a two-teacher school with 70-90 pupils. Today, with all the population explosion and development in teh district, the attendance has risen to over 700 pupils.

When I was about 13 years of age, I became the girls' tennis champion for the district. Having our own clay tennis court, Lucinda and I would get up at five o'clock in the morning and have an hour of practice before school. That improved our skills. Despite the Great Depression, we always had an abundance of fruit, vegetables and dairy products. And in fact, during World War II we had so much butter that it was made into soap. Times were hard during the depression and our parents toiled hard and made big sacrifices to give us children a secondary education. And the fact that we lived far out in the country away from the centre of Brisbane when motor vehicles were few added to the difficulties we faced. The older members of the family boarded in town with relatives. When I passed the Scholarship examination which allowed me to go to the Brisbane State High School, I was able to travel by 'service car' on dusty, unsealed roads leaving home at seven o'colck in the morning and returning home by six o'clock in the evening. It was a very long and tiring day. After four years at High School, I received a scholarship to the Teachers' Training College (TTC).

Call to missionary service
It was while at TTC that my brother Frank was farewelled to China with the China Inland Mission. In 1939, I attended that farewelll meeting at Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, and through the challenge of one of the speakers from Isaiah 6:8, I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then said I, 'Here and I; send me'." In my heart, I answered that challenge and those words constituted my call to missionary service. Here let me state that our home was always open for visitors, ministers of the gospel and missionaries home on furlough. Mother would say, "Where there is room in the heart, there is room in the home". And I believe those godly people brought much spiritual blessing with them. One of the regular visitors was Mr Peter Olesen (Uncle Peter) a friend of my father from his YMCA days. Uncle Peter went to China with the China Inland Mission. So it was not surprising that five of us eight children ended up in full time service for the Lord. Halley, my oldest sister married Harold Nicholls, a Baptist minister who later became Principal of Queensland Bible Institute. Their daughter Ruth served as a missionary with Interserve in Pakistan for many years. Then there was Frank who served with CIM in China. During World War II he joined the British Military Mission, Gurkha Rifle Regiment and became Captain. Later, in 1947 he was married to Ella Davidson in the cathedral in Shanghai by Bishop Frank Houghton, General Director of CIM. Joyce left for Hebron High School, India in 1938 and married Raymond Golsworthy in 1941. Lucinda went to China and in 1952 she married Harold Wik in Singapore. They spent 34 years mostly in Malaysia with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (the new name of CIM). ... The long ministry of my sister Lavinia and her husband Roland Skerman is worth noting. In 1949, they commenced Sunday School work in Thornlands gathering 60-80 children together. This developed into Thornlands Christian Gospel Centre where we now worship.

[This is just a few pages of Ruth's book, 'Called to be a fisher of men', which gives detail of her life work as a missionary in Japan. JJ]

Photo: Ruth, Vin, Lucinda, Halley

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grandma White

Grandma, 1979

This photo is the last that I know of, of Grandma White and her eight children.

Grandma White (age 93) with her great-grandson Paul Johnston, 1978. This photo was taken on the verandah of the old home at Redland Bay.

July 1988

L-R: Vinnie "Dick" Skerman, Lucinda Wik, Frank White, Frances Hossack, Halley Nicholls, Ruth White, Joyce Golsworthy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lucinda's story

Photo: Lucinda and Harold, with Timothy, Phillip, Paul and Anne

Lucinda as a Registered Nurse and Midwife at the Royal Brisbane Hospital

Lucinda White
[Thanks to Lucinda's son Philip Wik for this account]

“I was number seven in a family of eight born into a loving Christian family in the old historical home that still stands overlooking the bay,” Mom writes. “My father was a business man before coming to Redland Bay, but he chose to find a better place for his growing family. My parents were careful to protect us and bring us up in a pleasant, safe environment.

“Ruth mentioned the struggle we had in those early days of wood stoves, no electricity, and horse and buggy. But the both of us concluded that in spite of this, we had a very happy childhood. We would watch the tides and possibly go swimming twice a day. Ruth and I would get up at 5 a.m. to play tennis on our own court. So it was no wonder we were called upon to play with adults in doubles sets.” They would also toboggan down the hills near the bay on hessian sacks.

“As a child, I admired my older bothers and sisters. Too young to attend school, I watched them as they faded into the distance, walking down White’s Hill on their way to the Redland Bay State School two miles away. Then, in the afternoon, I would wait for their return, especially my sister Frances. In turn, I attended the same school at the age of five, continuing on through high school.

“Following my education there, I took a course in dress-making. I did well in the course, so much so that I was offered a job there to teach what I had learned from the McCabe Academy of Dress keeping.

“My sister Frances, the sister I admired so much, had taken up nursing and had advanced to a responsible position. I was attracted to the nursing field. I was accepted into the nursing program, which began January 3rd 1942. The work at times was stressful but I will never regret the valuable lessons of life in having a caring heart for others. Sister Frances would encourage me when the going got tough. It was no light thing to be responsible for the lives of people and to be on hand to comfort those who needed comforting. My first course took four years and gained for me a diploma in general nursing and pediatrics. I went on to do obstetrics at the Woman’s Hospital where I graduated.”
I was born in this same hospital on March 9, 1955.

“My nursing training continued, this time in the area of maternal and child welfare. I was responsible for my staff, and also taking care of the mothers before they went to the hospital and the mother and child when they left the hospital. Our staff also took care of older children from families that had parental problems. I was called sometimes to go to court on behalf of the children.

“These were depression years, but my father and mother with their strong faith in God spared us much of the heartache. Following breakfast, my father would read a portion from the word of God and then we knelt in prayer. I admired my father and as for my mother I adored her. She became a pattern of godly living for me—hard working, courageous, loving, and kind.

“At the age of four, I learned to read the New Testament. As I grew older, my mother instructed me to pray my way through the day.

“We had our jobs to do but we also knew how to play hard. During holiday times, we enjoyed sledding down the slopes leading to the water’s edge. Swimming was a favorite sport. We had our own tennis court. The hours of fun in water bring back happy memories. While on summer holidays, we went swimming in the pubic baths, which were enclosed in protective wire against the sharks. The seriousness of everyday living by my parents was punctuated by outings here and there, either to the mountains or to the golden sands of the coast. To stay overnight at the beach was a special delight. My father and brothers would set up camp at a chosen spot. No matter if salty water, sand, and sunburn were the order of the day, it would still be such an enjoyable experience. Listening to the pounding of the waves on the shore would send me off to sleep—refreshed the next morning for new experiences. Living by the water has always been an attraction to me.”

Mom shared with me childhood experiences frolicking in their barn. “Above the barn back at home was a large wooden shed where my father kept hay and boxes for fruit,” Mom writes. “In the corner in a neat coil was a huge snake. We made a quick, silent retreat and called our father excitedly. My Dad wasn’t too concerned and said it was a carpet snake and useful in keeping down the rats and mice. In the calmest way possible, my Dad grabbed the snake by the back of the neck transporting it to another place. Then from year to year, we would find the skin of the snake, reminding us that the creatures were alive and well.

“From inside the barn we would climb on top of the shed. There in mango season we would sit and eat the juicy luscious mangos until we had eaten more than enough.”

Mom wrote this essay about her favorite toy. “The years have passed but I remember with great excitement the small airplane I received as a Christmas gift.

“Day after day and for long hours I played with my airplane until it became a very special part of my life. Most days before going to bed, I would place it on my night table. It’s not surprising that one night I dreamed that my airplane took my flying high up into the sky. I jumped into the cockpit, played around with the controls, and before long I was up and away flying through the blue sky. For me, there was a wonderful sense of freedom as I rode on the puffy clouds leaving the ground behind. The country fields that looked like a patchwork quilt got smaller and smaller. Before long, my plane left the land behind and now I was flying very high over the sea until I was hid in the clouds alone, taking me to a distant land I had never seen before. This was more exciting than scary. Eventually, I landed on a soft patch of green grass, where people I had never seen before greeted me. They were friendly and wanted me to visit them in their home. We talked a long while and it seemed as though it was getting late. Moreover, I had an urge to return home again, knowing my parents would be concerned. In the midst of this dilemma, I woke up excited and wondered how this would be in real life.

“As the many months went by, my airplane got a little broken and crumpled, but whatever it was, it was still my favorite toy that I will not forget.

“Maybe, I will give my grandsons an airplane and hope that they too will have lots of fun and dream pleasant dreams as I did.
“My toy airplane was the best!”

Sure enough, for Christmas 2000, their grandparents gave Zachary and Benjamin new toy airplanes.

Uncle Francis (Frank) White’s favorite toy was an air rifle and he enjoyed collecting stamps. Because his twin sister was Frances, he was called Brother. For him, a perfect day as a child was swimming at high tide. The house was filled with music with a radio. His mother would sometimes play the pedal-organ for family sing-alongs. The family’s first car as a Model T Ford. Frank’s first car trip was going for a family photo in Brisbane, and his first plane trip was a World War I Gypsy Moth Biplane. He liked cricket and football in school and did well in English and History, with Shakespeare his favorite author and Oliver Cromwell his favorite historical figure. During World War II, Frank went on to serve as an officer on the Burma Road. One day, he was booked to fly from Australia for a three-month service leave, but was bumped from the flight by another officer. Later, he heard newspaper boys shouting, “Plane down in ocean!” The plane on which Uncle Frank was to fly crashed into the sea that same afternoon.

Post script
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:21

Lucinda Elizabeth White Wik heard her Savior speak those words on Monday, December 01, 2008. She was surrounded by those she loved. Lucinda is survived by her husband Harold Wik, her children Paul, Philip, Anne and Timothy, their spouses, children and grandchildren, and her sister Ruth.

Pictures from the past

Frank and Jane White with their two sons, Hilary and Frank. c1932

Although these two photos are faded and not of high quality, they record the growing family.

The Whites of Redland Bay

This family portrait was displayed in the old home.
Frank and Jane White, of School of Arts Road, Redland Bay, Qld, with their eight children c1920. The children are (L-R) Joyce, Frances, Hilary, Ruth (the baby), Lucinda, Halley, Lavinia, Frank.

There are stories within these names, and the names that they were know by. These explanations were told by my father Frank - other family members may have other stories.
Jane Halley Logan was called Halley or "Hal".
Frances Mary Catherine: also "Kit" or "Ki-Ki", which Dad said was his baby name for his twin sister, who was also called "Bunk" (don't know why) or "sister".
Francis William Fielding was known as Frank. William Fielding was the name of his maternal grandfather, and his mother's brother Willie who died in tragic circumstances in a shark attack- swimming accident in Redland Bay. Frank was known as "Willie" as a child. His immediate family called him "brother". At the Brisbane Boys Grammar School he was called "le Blanc". When he worked at the National Bank he was "Bill".
Eliza Lillian Joyce was known as "Joyce" or "Joycie".
Lavinia Adelaide was called "Vin", "Vinny", or "Dick". She was Aunty Dick to the younger generation. "Dick" was the nick name given to her after she and Hilary pulled up some little custard apple trees. So it was decided that the partnership best be broken up by sending her to school. Dad, who had a great memory for poetry, remembered this little rhyme:
Poor Dick, sad Dick our wayward son
Turbulent reckless idle one
Could he be spared? Nay he who gave
Bids us befriend him to the grave.

Hilary Whitmore Logan was called "Hil"
Lucinda Elizabeth was "Lass" at home, and "Lucy" at school
Esther Ruth was known as "Ruth" or "Babe".

At the time of writing this blog (Nov 2008), Aunty Lucinda is living in a retirement home in USA, and Aunty Ruth is at Redland Bay. The other members of the family have passed away.