23 December 2012


I remember so very well the birth of Adele.  It is not surprising, I suppose, that the closer to the present time I write, the clearer memories become; nevertheless, a major reason I remember more about Adele's birth is because of the involvement of Johnny, Helen, and Eddie - and particularly of Helen.

When Helen was born, Sue was in Palau.  When Eddie was born - well, I don't know where Johnny and Helen were.  It is possible that someone - possibly Ken Atkinson - stayed at the house to take care of them. But when Adele was born, although, it is true, the three other children stayed at home, possibly, again, with Ken, or with George Smith, they were very much involved in the few days afterwards when I would go to visit her in hospital.

The most moving memory I have from that time was in relation to Helen.  Sue was in hospital, in labour.  Dr Andres (Filipino doctor) was her doctor.  I put the children to bed and prepared to go down to the hospital. I kissed Helen good-night, and she asked me, whether the new baby would be a girl.  I said that I didn't know, of course, but that whatever the baby was would be just right, because the new baby would be God's gift to us.  Helen - just five (Adele was born 14 September, 1982) - said, "All right.  But God could give us a girl if He wanted, couldn't He?"  "Yes, darling, He could."  It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life, next morning, when I was able to tell Helen that, yes, God had give her a sister.  The four of us - me, Johnny, Helen (we three walking), and Eddie (in a push-chair) went down to the hospital together, Helen singing "we are going to the hospital."

Adele was to be our last child.  Even at the time I was beginning to see, very dimly, the goodness of having children.  I had accepted, early on, without thinking, the 'normal' view that children are a burden; that contraceptives are there to help prevent that burden's becoming too heavy; that four children is a large family.  By the time Adele was born I was very much changed.  I do not say that I consciously hoped we would have more children.  I was not so aware of any but the 'normal' view.  I do just know that, even then, I would have been glad if we had had more.  We did not.

Johnny had been born in Auckland, and, of course, baptised in the Reformed Church of Avondale.  I had actually forgotten that Helen, like Eddie, was baptised in Guam.  In Helen's case, we had waited over a year.  Eddie was born in March, 1980, and we went to Guam in June.

But Adele was born 14 September, 1982 - shortly after our furlough, and long before our next.

I talked with the Harold (can't remember his last name), junior pastor at the Yap Evangelical Church.  Would he baptise Adele?

Harold was upset.  He said that, officially, the Yap Evangelical Church probably did not have a position on infant baptism; he himself was Lutheran, and would gladly baptise her; but Heinz, the senior pastor, would definitely not be happy if he did.

I wrote to the elders of the Avondale Reformed Church, where, officially, at least, her membership still lay.  I was deeply touched by the response.

They sent me a letter, signed by all of them, with their encouragement for the performance of the Sacrament. They sent the rite to be followed, from the Reformed Psalter Hymnal.  On Friday the 20th May, 1983, with Father Paul Horgan SJ and our friend George Smith as witnesses, I baptised her in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

It cannot have escaped me at the time - it certainly does not now - that it was strange that I did not ask Father Horgan to baptise Adele.  I can only say that the idea was unthinkable to me then.  I was, by this time, deeply committed to Jim Jordan's writings.  Only two years later (as I recall) I was to receive a letter from Jim that, had I had it at this time, might well have led me to ask Father Horgan to perform the Sacrament.  That was to come.  Nonetheless, Adele was baptised - and it is God Himself Who bestows grace in baptism.  It is not dependent on the minister himself.

This was in May.  About this time, my friend Ross Jackson had quit his job teaching at Pukekohe High School, and was working as a programmer in a small company called Interactive Applications Ltd, started only two years before.  In September, 1983, an event took place that was 'high-tech' for Yap: I telephoned Ross.

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