Both of my parents were born in Europe. Dad and Mom’s family immigrated to Canada independently. Both settled in Springside, a small farming community in Saskatchewan. I am the third youngest of eight children. I fondly remember the laughter and fun we shared as a family and with guests who frequented our home.
The church played a very big role in my life. When I was 10 years old I attended evangelistic services and it was at that time that I received Jesus and was baptized the following year. Sunday school and going to camp were both important to me.
I received my elementary education in a small rural school, one mile from where we lived. I must have had an inclination toward missionary service at an early age. My required essay assignment was entitled “My Desire to be a Missionary”.
After completing High School, I enrolled in a three year nursing diploma program at the Yorkton Union Hospital. During the last year of this program while attending a Sunday evening service in my home church I witnessed a missionary film entitled “The Unfinished Task”. At the end of the film, the missionary doctor died leaving his task unfinished. When the challenge was given at the end of the service by my pastor, the lateRev. Bert Milner, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking into my heart and I needed to respond with a commitment to missionary service. Peace flooded my soul when I made that decision. I sent a letter to Dr. Schilke, the Mission’s secretary at that time, expressing the joy of my commitment and the desire to serve a Missionary Nurse in Cameroon and inquiring if there was a need for a missionary nurse at that time. The response I received wasdiscouraging. It stated that there was no need for a missionary nurse at that time but that I could fill the enclosed application form and return it to them. I did not fill the form at that time. It got lost among other papers. It then seemed feasible to continue to work as a nurse.
Fast forward a few months and back in my home church, I once again received a challenge. This time by a CTI (now Taylor) professor. At the end of his presentation he stated that even though it was close to starting time, there were still spaces available to enroll for classes at CTI for the fall semester. Now working and enjoying a salary was quite fun. After three days of wrestling, I had to give in to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and experienced wonderful peace after saying yes to Him. My parents were tied into that decision as well because I did not have the finances to cover the cost. I thank God for my wonderful parents who supported and encouraged me throughout all the years. I spent two wonderful years at CTI and then came the question again, now what? God’s timing is perfect. Now the letter came from the International office stating that they now needed a missionary nurse urgently and could I be ready to go to Kentucky immediately for a six months course in Midwifery and because I hadn’t served as an overseas missionary nurse yet it was required that I work there for six months before the course.
The rural setting was ideal for learning skills that would be useful in Cameroon. The class consisted of seven missionaries, four on furlough and three missionary appointees. I completed the course the 1st of June and then had to very quickly pack and prepare to travel to New York by the 30th of June, to sail on the S S Rotterdam to England and then on a banana cargo boat to Cameroon. I cannot adequately express my feelings as we pulled out of New York harbour, as I thought of how God was going to use this shy, rather insecure prairie girl. When I first realized that God was calling me to be a missionary, I had some questions regarding how I could do this. He gave me the verse in Philippians 4:13. God was going to be my strength. I needed to keep my eyes on Him and trust Him for all things. It was going to be alright. I was travelling with Mrs. Chaffee and their two youngest children. Unbeknown to us, there was a change of a surprise awaiting us in England when we arrived.
Politically, the Southern (English) part of Cameroon was reuniting with the French part of Cameroon to form The United Republic of Cameroon. When the French part gained their independence earlier, there was quite a bit of political unrest. Now questions had arisen as to whether our party should continue on to Cameroon. We spent two months in England waiting for the decision to be made regarding our future. The field committee finally made the decision that we could proceed. My telegram from Dr. Schilke stated that I should proceed if I consented, otherwise I could return back to Canada. God had called and I was following Him.
We arrived in Cameroon two weeks before reunification. Again God’s timing proved itself. Our arriving in Cameroon two weeks before reunification showed that we (the missionaries) were there to support our Christian brothers and sisters and to be by their side if any problems should arise. As a side note, reunification was peaceful.
I arrived in Cameroon in 1961 as an inexperienced nurse midwife but ready to learn and do what I was asked to do. The learning curve was steep. My first year was spent at Banso were my orientation took place.
Continuing education and honing my skills was important to me. In February 1971, I took a six month post graduate course in Operating Room Technique and management. Then from ’85-’87 I studied at the University of SK. in Saskatoon and received my B.Sc. degree in Nursing.
While in Cameroon I served on many stations and in many different roles. Each posting was unique. I served in administration, nursing, midwifery, and professional management at Banso, Mbem, Mbingo, Yaoundé, and played a big role in setting up the Health facility in Douala when it started as a Health Centre. Teaching 3-H girls, studying T.E.E. together with the nationals and studying God’s word together were all a part of seeing people come to Christ and help grow the church.
I retired in 2002 to Edmonton, AB Canada. I found that finding my niche was a bit difficult. I had been used to a very busy work schedule. I thought I had to do the same in my church. I volunteer for many positions, but it took some time for me to realize that I needed to pay more attention to my own personal relationship with my Lord, to be and not to do.
I returned to Cameroon twice as a volunteer when the need arose. I have also been privileged to visit in April/May 2014 and more recently December, 2016. God is continuing to do GREAT things in Cameroon, for which I give much thanks.
My main area of focus now is to work with “International Student Ministries”. This has brought me much joy as I teach English to International students, mostly Asians.The Bible is our lesson book and most are anxious to learn about God. It is more than teaching English. It a joy to see them make a commitment to the Lord.It is a difficult decision for them to make.
My prayer is that I will be faithful to Him in whatever may come my way in my retirement years.