Labrador History - 1.4 CALLING


Mary Taylor1.4 CALLING
Following my conversion my desire was to lead others to the Lord, the one Who now meant so much to me. I started reading missionary books, particularly ones by Amy Carmichael about her work in India amongst children she rescued from temple worship. My soul was fired with a desire to become a medical missionary and serve the Lord in India. To this end, although I had left school and was working in an office, I started studying, by correspondence, for my matriculation (University entrance exam) with the idea of entering medical school. By 1939 war had started, however, and entering medical school was not easy, particularly for a woman.
About this time I met a fine Christian teacher, who was a great help to me, and we had long talks together. I told her about the way I thought the Lord was leading me and she suggested that I apply for nurses’ training. This I did and was quickly accepted. Four years later, after completing my general and midwifery training, I started working at a maternity hospital, to get some experience before applying for missionary service. I was to learn, however, that the Lord had other plans for me.
Early in 1949, just after I started working, I got a message that my mother was very ill. She had terminal cancer. This was a severe shock to me and, as so many others have done in similar circumstances, I could only cry out, “Why, Lord?” My mother was very precious to me and, not understanding why the Lord would allow this to happen to her, I went through a period of deep heartache and soul searching before I was able to say, “Not my will, but Thine be done”. I did not understand that the Lord had a purpose in this trial.
My father was in Canada at the time, so I had to send him a cable to return home. As soon as my mother was able to travel, we all moved to Canada, where she died two years later.
In the fall of 1951, following my mother’s death, I went to Vancouver to take a three-month course in intravenous therapy, a course that was to prove very useful later on. While I was in Vancouver the Lord spoke to me about my earlier promise to serve Him on the mission field. This happened during a morning church service, when the message was from the text, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into His harvest.” [Luke 10:21]
The verbal comment which spoke to me was, “We ask the Lord to send forth labourers, did you ever ask Him to send you?” That really struck home. By this time I had settled down and was thinking more of friends than of what the Lord wanted me to do, so a battle raged. Was I going to obey the Lord or please myself? The Lord won, and I told Him I would go wherever He wanted me to go.
It was just at that same time, also in Vancouver, that the Lord laid His hand on the life of a young man who was to play a major part in this story about Labrador. But more about that later.
I knew now the Lord had called me into full time service for Him, but I did not know when or where He was leading me. I had arranged to go to Ottawa to visit friends, so went ahead with those plans and, while working at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, met a girl who was to have quite an influence on my life. A very bright Christian, she later became a missionary. She spoke to us one night at our Nurses’ Christian Fellowship and, as so often happens, I had no idea her message would stir me. Basing her message on Luke 10, the same chapter that the Lord had used to call me into His service, she spoke about the disciples being sent forth two by two and of Christ’s power working with them. I had been feeling very inadequate to witness for Christ, and longed to have a talk with her, but the opportunity did not come that night.
A few weeks later I went to Toronto, where she was working, and we had a long talk. She pointed out that it is not our work, but Christ’s, and that He works through us. After she had gone home, I went over many of the Bible passages we had read together, and the Lord gave me a verse, even one that I didn’t know where to find at first!
“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.” [Zephaniah 3:17]
That was my promise and I could see that the work was not mine but Christ’s, and that He would do it through  me, using me as a channel as I yielded to Him. He faithfully kept that promise and I found I could do things I had never done before, because He was working through me. I was able to speak to others about my Say- jour, although it was never easy, and if I opened my mouth, He would fill it with His words.
Still, I did not know where the Lord wanted me to go. I discussed this with a friend one day when she told me about the Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland and Labrador. I was interested and, the Mission’s office being in Ottawa went to get more information.
I learned that Sir Wilfred Grenfell, who first came to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1892 to help fisher folk living along the lonely coast, had started the Mission. There was a hospital in St. Anthony, on the north coast of Newfoundland, and nursing stations in various small settlements in more remote places, they told me. Nurses ran these smaller stations, with doctors making infrequent visits. I got further information to read, together with an application form. After much prayer, I felt that this was the way God wanted me to go - at least for a time - so filled out an application form and was accepted.
That winter the Head Nurse of the Grenfell Hospital in St. Anthony, spoke to our Nurse’s Christian Fellowship group, while she was home on furlough in Ottawa. You can be sure that I had many questions to ask her about my future work! She, in turn, was able to satisfy my curiosity.
From then on much of my time was spent preparing for this field. At one point I took advantage of an opportunity for a brief instructional session from a dentist in Ottawa. He showed me some basic techniques, how to inject local anesthetics and how to do extractions. It was very hot in the capital city that day and, while we were looking at his dental instruments, I suddenly became very faint and was overcome by the heat. I passed out! The poor den— fist must have wondered how I was going to cope with extractions on my own in lonely places, when even the very sight of instruments made me faint!
The summer before I went to Labrador I worked as one of two camp nurses at an Interschool Christian Fellowship camp in Northern Ontario. This children’s camp was a good learning experience, both physically and spiritually, and I learned how to “make do” when the latest equipment was not available. It was here that I did my first suturing. There was an epidemic of mumps, and not only amongst the children. Some of the leaders caught it and one of the counselors was seriously ill, but we were able to nurse her back to health. There were fun times too. Then there were mosquitoes! We did battle with them every night before we went to bed, but this turned out to be even more preparation for Labrador, with its thick clouds of black flies and mosquitoes!
Spiritually, it was wonderful to live and work with others of similar interests and concerns. As well as getting experience caring for patients without the presence of a doctor, I learned to take responsibility as leader. All good things come to an end, however, and so did that summer. It is an interesting footnote to those times that the other nurse, with whom I shared responsibility, went to India as a missionary nurse while I went to Labrador. Such are the ways of the Lord.
When camp was over I made preparations for the trip north. In Ottawa I stayed with a friend whose son was going to medical school and it is interesting that later he came to the coast as a medical student, and was for a time an intern in St. Anthony. Meanwhile I had a long list of necessary clothing (and the like) to purchase before boarding the steamer in Montreal. I remember some of the items I bought at that time; a long black rubber coat (useful for open boat trips but rather ugly), an army/navy parka made of khaki canvas with a red lining, and a pair of men’s heavy rubber boots! These items may have been made for usefulness but certainly not for fashion!
I boarded the North Pioneer in Montreal and, after the long journey I arrived in Forteau, very green and apprehensive, but excited at the thought that I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. Being in the centre of the Will of God is the happiest place to be, as I have proved many times since. The truths expressed in the following words make them very precious to me:
“I had walked life’s way with an easy tread, ‘
I-lad followed where comforts and pleasures led;
Until one day in a quiet place
I met my master face to face.
With station and rank and wealth as my goal
Much thought for my body and none for my soul;
I had entered to win in lfe ‘s mad race
When I met the Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and vanished away.
Melted and vanished and in their place
Naught else did I see but the Master’s face.
And I cried aloud, ‘0 make me meet
To follow the steps of thy wounded feet.’
My thoughts are now for the souls of men
I have lost my life to find it again
E’er since one day - in a quiet place
I met the Master face to face.”
— Anon.