Edna Dorothy Vawser
I never met my Great Aunt Edna, in fact when I visited India, she was visiting Perth! But I now work for the organisation that supported her for many of the years she served God in India, OMB, now GMP.
What I am compiling is simply a long page of the memories that remain of the service Edna gave to God and the people of her beloved India. I have managed to get some old ABC Four Corners video so have a watch and read through some of these old clippings, sourced mainly from my Grand Father, Edna’s cousin, Harold Bentley Vawser and enjoy the history.
And in her own humble words…An article written for the OMB Partners book celebrating 100 years of missions work 1891-1991 from Australian Churches of Christ.
I Just Do Things
By Edna Vawser
You want a précis of sixty-four years of my life in mission service!
It takes more than coming to a foreign land to make a missionary.
In my case, it involved dedication before I was born and living as a child in the care of most loving Christian parents. It included sitting by the fire on a cold afternoon after Sunday School, listening to mother read the lives of missionaries like Hudson Taylor and Mary Slessor.
At an early age I was determined to be a missionary and I studied towards that end. When I was seventeen, mother took four small motherless children into our home. That meant upheaval to my stud¬ies and plans. But one day, when I could not leave the sick children so that I could play tennis with my friends, I knew that God had accepted me and that brought joy.
I first sailed for India, with Nell Morris and Andy Hughes, in 1926. I was a trained secondary school teacher and expected to use this skill, but I was sent to the Shrigonda Girls’ and Babies’ Home. Babies, bottles and nappies! I had been prepared for this under mother’s wise guidance. Accepted for what? God knew beforehand and prepared me thoroughly. Miss Cameron and I loved those unwanted children and the love has not abated now that they have become parents and grandparents.
In 1940 I was transferred to the Boys’ Home at Baramati, where I was told I would be happier. This was laughable. I went to the coast north of Bombay and walked the beach until I was ready to accept this new appointment with serenity. How I prayed! Now I can look back and feel that 1940 52 were the happiest years of my life, spent caring for and loving the boys. Here God opened my eyes to the need for caring for TB patients.
After the war years a new group of missionaries arrived. I felt that my work was over and I had better go home and get a job and save for my old age. In 1952 I left India, as I felt, for good.
After fifteen days at home, I started my deputation work so that I could get a job quickly. I was unhappy, but each morning I would wake with this verse in my mind: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” Each morning it was like receiving orders. I asked the Lord to do four things to convince me that he wanted me to return to India. That my mother would not need me. That I would have work not taken from or being done by another. That I could have a room to myself for private devotions. That there be an invitation from the Indian people, not merely be sent back by the Board.
I thought that these things would be almost impossible. When I arrived in Brisbane after visiting churches in North Queensland, there were four letters waiting for me. Together they met all four needs. Sent back to India by God! He does direct our paths.
I was soon booked on a ship to be in India by 15 October so that I could take charge of the Language School for missionaries run by the Bombay Christian Council at Pune. After that I was involved again in children’s work in the Homes and schools.
When I was 65 years old and about to retire, in 1967 a Hindu man said to me: “We have no drinking water in our village”. God gave me a caring heart and I went to Bombay to CASA (Church Auxiliary for Social Action). I was told to get plans and estimates and they would help with a Food for Work project to do water conservation in that village.
The first work started on 26 January 1968 and Miss Skuce and I are still building percolation dams for water conservation. More than 250 have been completed. Some big ones hold 15 million cubic feet of water when full. The Baramati Agricultural Development Trust was born from this work and has made a tremendous contribution for the poor and needy of this State. God is more than wonderful and he knows best.
He gives the health and strength to do his work and we can never. praise Him enough.
This is not worth publishing. I just things, hoping that people may be saved for Christ’s kingdom. The latest is rehabilitation for alcoholics, sending men to Miraj Christian Hospital for this. God bless you.