|Ray Jerrems, Family Historian||
Looking Back 50 Years
Several weeks ago Laurie Gray and my second cousin Laurel Gray (nee Jerrems) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, so I thought that it was about time that we learned something about them. Laurel sent me a speech given by Laurie last year as part of celebrations to mark his 50 years as a Minister, which I have drawn upon.
Before embarking on Laurel's account I will make some preliminary comments.
Laurel and Laurie have 3 sons, 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Sadly, a son they adopted in Papua New Guinea who had become a commercial pilot was killed in a plane crash in 1978.
For the benefit of our US readers Papua New Guinea (which I will call PNG for the sake of brevity) is north of Australia, and the Kokoda Trail was a famous Second World War battle area where Australian troops first stopped the advance of Japanese forces. PNG had been one of the last frontiers in the Pacific region. For instance a huge settled valley was first discovered in the early 1930s and another settled area in the mountains was first discovered by Air Force pilots during the Second World War.
After Laurie decided to become a missionary he trained with the London Missionary Society and was appointed for service in Papua (it was a condition of working for the L.M.S. that one had to be willing to work anywhere in the world). Laurie and Laurel were engaged at the time but Laurel, who also wanted to become a missionary, was studying nursing, so they were not married until she had finished her training, in 1957.
Briefly, after periods of service in PNG spanning almost 18 years, described below, they returned to Australia, where Laurie became Minister in the southern suburbs of Sydney, and later at Gerringong and Bulli on the South Coast. Laurel and Laurie then "retired" but have been kept very busy in Church outreach programmes.
We now pick up on extracts from Laurie's speech (somewhat condensed to fit into the Journal) relating to their time in PNG:
"I left Australia for Papua in June 1956, appointed to the Saroa District as a District Superintendent. This area, about 120 kilometres east of Port Moresby (pictured above), began at the top of the Owen Stanley Range parallel to the Kokoda Trail. It was the same sort of country. Great mountain ranges extending up to over 3500 metres at the top of the Owen Stanley Range. Near the coast, rather dry with grass and gum trees. In the higher country there were great ranges of rain forest, and near the top of the ranges moss was 3 to 4 metres deep. Very few roads, the way to go from place to place was walking. I spent a year there with the British missionaries being taught the way of life there and also learning the Motu and Hiri Motu languages.
At that time I was privileged to conduct the first baptisms at Dorobisoro, at the top of the main range. I baptised 101 new Christians. At the end, I found that I had one name left over. Apparently I had missed one person from above number 45, but I could not tell which one, so I had to turn around and rename 56!
I came back to Australia to be married to Laurel in April 1957. We returned to Saroa, where Laurel learned the Motu language, and learned it well. She looked after the village headstation, taught school, had children, did medical work as a trained nurse and administered the store while I spent two thirds of the year walking and visiting through the district, usually about 180 kilometres a week.
It was walking up and down mountains, along ridges and crossing swift flowing rivers. Sometimes from the top of the range it was possible to build bamboo rafts and white water raft through the rapids to the coast. The rafts came apart several times on the way and had to be rebuilt. Exciting living. It was in the inland Saroa area that I had the privilege of doing what was Paul's great joy, to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.
In 1961 Laurel and I were transferred to Chalmers College at Veiru. Veiru was in the middle of the delta of the Gulf of Papua, a great swamp with hundreds of square kilometres of mud and mangroves, with only canoes for transport and a rainfall of up to 400 inches a year. It rained for about 350 days a year, all day and night. The College had been established to train families for ministry who did not know much English. All theological students had to be married. In Papua New Guinean culture you only became a man or woman when you married. Until then you were only treated as being a boy or girl.
There were 30 families here, who had 33 languages between them. Conditions were primitive for the students and us. The people in the area had killed 2 missionaries in 1901.
Laurel and I trained the students and their wives in the Hiri Motu language. Laurel also taught Correspondence Lessons for our children, and a few others. Life was hard, the Delta of Papua was considered to be one of the hardest mission areas in the world, but very worthwhile. Many of the students became great church leaders.
In 1965 Laurel's health broke down and we came back to Sydney for a year. In 1967 we returned to Papua and the Milne Bay area, on the north side of PNG. There was a government high school, a boarding school at Koeabule, where we lived, and of which I was chaplain, and during the next seven years Laurel and I led over a thousand young people to Christ. Many are active now in Christian and government work.
Also, there was a town there called Alotau, with people there from all over PNG, so there were many languages and races. Sometimes in our Sunday Evening Singsongs we used nearly 40 different language hymn books. Our accommodation here was terrible when we started, a falling down house and our stove at first was a cooking pot on three stones. Laurel taught at a Government School, and with the money we were able to build a good home and have a good stove. Laurel also ran a Christian Bookshop."
What an inspiring story! Thanks Laurel for sending me the speech.
|Ray Jerrems, Intenet Sleuth||
Cathy and the Steelhead
A recent search on Alta Vista has revealed that Cathy Jerrems caught a 24 inch steelhead on 11th February this year.
So who is Cathy, what is a steelhead, and where and why did she catch it?
Firstly, who is Cathy? She is one of my numerous third cousins in the United States, and one of the first people I located in that country. Readers may remember that the Jerrems family that migrated to Australia in the 1850s included Charles Jerrems (my great grandfather) and William George Jerrems (Cathy's great grandfather) who later migrated to the United States.
A steelhead is better known in Australia as a rainbow trout, a much more colourful name to my mind. A "steelhead" sounds distinctly unpalatable, belying the fact that the fish taste delicious.
According to my American dictionary these trout migrate each year up the rivers from the ocean. This would be no mean feat in the case of Cathy's fish because it would have had to get to the Snake River (where Cathy caught it) by firstly travelling 300 miles (500 km) up the wild Columbia River to the Snake River junction and then up the Snake River itself.
My trusty World Book Encyclopaedia says that the Columbia River "ranks as one of the greatest salmon streams in the world". Students of United States history may remember that in 1805 the famous Lewis and Clark expedition had to build canoes to traverse the picturesque Columbia River Gorge, which is lined with basalt cliffs for 60 miles of its length. I mention the Gorge as a matter of interest for our readers; I doubt that the fish would have had the time or inclination to take in the view.
Cathy caught the athletic fish while competing in a competition called the "12th Annual Women's Steelhead Tournament" in the "Women with Bait Derby" held at Riggins, in Idaho. Riggins is about 300 kilometres north of Boise, near which Cathy lives. A company called River Adventures Limited supplied all the necessary equipment, including boats.
The company followed up this event with the production of a DVD which it described enthusiastically as follows:
"This exciting show reveals the tournament winners along with fun filled days on the Salmon and Snake Rivers fishing with RIVER ADVENTURES LTD. The action packed slide show reveals over 230 photos of ladies, their friends, and the elusive steelhead!"
I don't know a lot about fishing, but even I know that a 24 inch fish (60 centimetres in metric terms) is in the big league for recreational anglers. It must have put up quite a fight.
Perhaps this shows that Cathy has had a little more time on her hands since her daughter Tonya Marie married Christopher Lee Gordon in the middle of last year.
Hilary Jerrems (the daughter of readers Russell and Kathryn Jerrems from West Australia) married Ashley McArtney on Saturday January 20th this year and that the staff of JJ extend their best wishes to Hilary and Ashley.
Russell is one of the great-grandsons of Arthur Reginald Jerrems, who migrated to Australia in 1859 with our respective great grandfathers.
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