Labrador History - 5.1 THE WORK DEVELOPS

Mary TaylorChapter 5

As winter gave way to spring, God continued to work in the lives of many people.
Early in April, Wallace (by now Olive’s fiancée) returned to Seven Islands, Quebec, where he worked the previous year. We were concerned about him as he was such a new Christian, but need not have worried as he took a bold stand before his work- mates and witnessed to them about his newly found Saviour. The Lord preserved him as he started to grow in the faith.
George continued the meetings until after Easter and more were saved. He left early in May to return to his co-workers in Corner Brook. Meanwhile, we continued the Bible study at the nursing
station on Wednesday night and met at the Hancocks’ home on Sunday mornings for a time of hymn singing, Bible study and prayer.
Others were saved, even after George left, so we saw our prayers being answered. Over the winter quite a number had been saved at L’Anse-au-Loup and at English Point, where George held meetings in the home of Stanley Trimm, a fisherman. His wife Elsie trusted Christ at that time. Olive’s father and sister Ethel also trusted the Saviour, which gave her great joy.
April was a quiet month at the nursing station, although we have two deliveries. One of these was the wife of our handyi, Stewart, who had another boy. In May we had two more de1iveries; both were ninth babies, so we were concerned because e more pregnancies a woman has, the greater the risk of hemorrhage, but both deliveries were normal with no complications. Towards the end of the month I admitted three “ladies in waiting,” and we- had a lot of fun with them because they were a cheerful lot. Bridgie, an expectant mum from L’Loup with a large family at home,was the self-appointed captain of the group, and kept the place going. The time women had awaiting new babies frequently was the only holiday they had. They all delivered early in June so got home to their families before fishing started.
God displayed his power in a remarkable case that May when He stayed the ice! It began with the arrival of a two-month-old baby from Red Bay. The straits were blocked with ice and there was ice all along the shoreline, making it very difficult for the parents to get the baby to Forteau, but somehow they had managed it. They had actually come from Barge Bay, a settlement about two hours north of Red Bay (by boat,) so their journey was all the harder. They walked where they could, used a dog team over the lichens and scrubs of the barrens, and a boat where there was water, making their way through the ice wherever possible.

Goerge Campbell's first winter in Labrador.  Spring 1957.

Goerge Campbell's first winter in Labrador.  Spring 1957. 

The baby, a little boy, had been vomiting for days and was very dehydrated. He weighed just over seven pounds. As soon as I had examined him and heard the mother’s story of the way he was vomiting, I felt that he must have pyloric stenosis, a condition where the valve between the stomach and the entrance to the small intestine is narrowed. Only small amounts of milk can get through and the baby vomits his feeds in a projectile manner. The baby’s skin was dry and wrinkled like an old man.
The first thing I did was to try and get some fluid into the baby by setting up an interstitial drip. I inserted two hypodermic needles just under the skin of the chest and dripped normal saline under the skin very slowly. This worked quite well, although not as well as if I could have got a needle into a vein.
Then I contacted Dr. Thomas, a surgeon and the chief medical officer in St Anthony, by radio-telephone. He agreed to try and get the plane to come but the problem was that the straits were full of ice and the plane was on floats. The bay was also full of ice pans and the ponds had not thawed, so there was nowhere for the plane to land. In the station we prayed that somehow the ice would go out of the bay long enough for the plane to land. Meanwhile, the plane left St. Anthony with Dr. Thomas on board, in an attempt to get the baby.
There had been a slight breeze all day and, as the plane drew near, the ice gradually started moving east across the bay away from our shore. By the time the plane arrived there was sufficient clear water in front of the nursing station for the plane to put down. Dr. Thomas jumped out as soon as the plane was close enough and immediately came to the station to see the baby. When he saw him, he picked him up, carried him back to the plane, jumped in and the pilot moved out and took off. Just as the ice closed in! The ice came back across the bay again, shutting everything down for some time. Another instance of how God answers prayer when we are cast upon Him in our helplessness.
On arrival in St. Anthony the baby was given fluids intravenously and, as soon as he was strong enough, had surgery to correct the problem. This is called a Ramstedt’s operation when a slit is made in the muscle to allow it to enlarge. Baby Ray did after surgery and returned to the nursing station a month later. nurse who had been looking after him in St. Anthony came with him for a little visit, which we both enjoyed. We took care of him until he went home at the end of July.
In mid-June the M.G.M. tied up to the wharf in English Point. On board were the brethren who had come the previous summer and a Mr. Dellandrea, originally from Ontario, who had been with team in Newfoundland and now joined them on the Labrador. trip across the straits had not been easy because the crew had into heavy ice, and had to make a path for themselves by pus haway ice flows with gaffs, the long poles with hooks. Their initial plans were to visit other fishing settlements as they travelled along north along the Labrador coast, but the ice stayed in straits for six weeks or more, so the men were unable to go any where for the time being.
Winds and currents bring northern ice from Greenland and Northern Labrador down the coast of Labrador and into the straits. It is heavy ice, and contains many large icebergs. This is the ice that brings the seals. Sealing was one of the main industries for a long time, the skins being sold and the meat either eaten or fed to bobsled dogs. It provided a good source of protein for them.
At times polar bears came down on ice too. One year one came right into the town of St. Anthony, just as the children were going to school! The R.C.M.P. sedated the bear with a dart and took it back out to the ice by helicopter. Polar bears are large, some weighing as much as a thousand pounds, and they may be seven to nine feet tall. The female is smaller. In more recent years one local man had a scare when he heard something or someone at the door, and found a polar bear there. He shut the door in a hurry.
While the M.G.M. was delayed by ice conditions, the crew wasted no time but went visiting and continued to preach the gospel in both L’Anse-au-Loup and English Point. I remember we had an open air meeting in Forteau one Sunday afternoon while my friend Ruth May was visiting me from St. Anthony which, being a believer, she enjoyed too. Many more trusted Christ at that time, including a young man who one night had stayed behind at the nursing station, to talk after the Bible study: another of “Uncle” Joe’s sons.
We continued to meet, either at “Uncle” Joe’s house or in the little schoolhouse at English Point, for a time of hymn singing, Bible study and testimony, even after the boat finally got away at the end of July. It was thrilling to hear some of the men tell the story of how God had saved them from a life of sin. Some of them had very little education, and yet they learned to read their Bibles and speak a word for the Lord who had so recently saved them.
Life was full of surprises and I certainly did not have time to get bored. One problem that was hard to handle was that of children who swallowed various kinds of poisonous substances. These were anything from Aspirin, especially the chewable kind, to Mercurochrome. One evening towards the end of June, we were brought a toddler from English Point who had drunk some kerosene. He was, incidentally, my Christmas baby of December 1955. His parents had tried to make him vomit at home but without success, so I had to do a stomach washout, no easy task on an eighteen-month-old child, especially one screaming! A relative of this little boy told me about a child several years ago, who had swallowed some lye (which was used on washday to whiten clothes) and was badly burned. He died some time later as his esophagus and mouth became so scarred that he couldn’t eat.
That same month I admitted a man with severe tonsillitis. He also had a dental abscess. I treated him withPenicillin, taking care extracted the offending tooth a couple of weeks later. That evening his gums were bleeding, so I had to pack them. Only years later did I discover that he was a haemophiliac! I was to be able to control the bleeding at that time. Again God was watching over us.
Black flies are a real problem in Labrador in the summer. No matter how carefully you cover yourself, they get in somehow and a chunk out of you! They get into your eyes, nose and even mouth, if they find it open, and most insect repellents have effect although I found oil of citronella was most effective. Manny children were nearly eaten alive during the summer; their heads and necks frequently covered with bites. When these became infected it frequently led to impetigo, and the poor little chili, how they would cry as we tried to soak off the scabs and soothing ointment. That summer we admitted one such child had developed an abscess on the back her neck resulting from
bites. I incised and drained it under local anaesthetic, and she very good, in spite of the fact that the daily dressings must been very painful.
Midwifery was always my first love and I found it very fulfilling the same way I found it a great joy to be involved in the birth of new babes in Christ, indeed a great privilege.
Early in August I admitted two women in labour on the same day and, fortunately, they did not choose to deliver at the same time! One had a girl, the other a boy. Mabel, the mother of the girl, had been attending the Gospel meetings during the previous winter. Her sister Maria was in at the same time for treatment of a condition associated with her own pregnancy. Whenever someone was admitted who I felt would be responsive, I endeavored to speak to him or her of the Saviour. Maria and I had nice talks about spiritual things and, while she was quite responsive but rather shy, she did not seem ready to make a decision at that time.
Next month I visited her at home for an antenatal check, and subject came up again. I asked her if she had thought about our discussions while she was in hospital.
 “Yes,” she replied, “And I am now ready to trust the Saviour.”
What a joy it was to point her to Christ that day. Her sister also trusted Christ at a later date.
There were times in nursing when one felt so helpless. It was at those times that I prayed much, and God always gave the necessary wisdom and strength to know what to do. A man from Capstan Island (a settlement about twelve or fifteen miles east of Forteau) was admitted at the end of August, and he was vomiting blood and was quite weak. It was always a worry to me to have someone in the station that was losing blood, because there was so little I could do. In this case the answer was to get him to St. Anthony by plane, where he recovered after treatment.
The men on the M.G.M. had a good summer. They travelled along the coast of Labrador, calling at little settlements on the way north as far as Goose Bay. They held open-air meetings from the deck of the boat. They visited the homes in each community, and the reception was mixed, some responding favourably and others rejecting the message they brought.
In early September they returned to southern Labrador. The first baptism was held at English Point at that time, and a number of new believers obeyed the Lord’s command to be baptised. They were baptised by immersion in the sea, and it must have been very cold but this did not seem to bother them. I had been baptised in that way a few years before, but how I wished I could have joined them! Many people from the surrounding area witnessed this baptism, the first to be held in the manner of the early church as described in the book of Acts and in the Gospels. The brethren were obeying the Lord’s command in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy ghost.”
The foundation had been laid.