My son Nicholas Shaw (Houston, Texas) asked me to comment on how members ministering to me has helped my life. My first experience of ministering was the efforts by Chris Barnard and his wife Merran, Chris was the Sandy Bay Branch missionary leader and his wife was serving in the Primary (children’s) organisation. This was for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Tasmania.
I was a married non member with a little 3 year old daughter, Samantha, and a husband serving in the Australian military forces. He was away on exercises and further training on the Australian mainland at the time. Samantha and I were new move ins to Tasmania as George had been posted to Hobart following the collapse of the Derwent Bridge.His role was to operate the landing barges taking motorised civilian vehicles and emergency vehicles across the Derwent river to save a 2 hour trip to Bridgewater and back down to Hobart from Rosny. Hobart and Rosny faced each other on opposite sides of the deep and fast flowing Derwent river; the trip by barges took approximately 20 minutes plus loading and unloading.
Chris came into our lives the first time I attended church at Sandy Bay Branch, he taught the Gospel Essentials class and made sure I knew enough about the Sacrament service to understand it. Merran took Sam under her care, introduced her to her children and inserted her into the Primary program. Sam enjoyed that experience having only me on weekends and early years child care of a morning to experience play with other children.
The Barnard’s continued to fellowship with us inviting us to their home on Mount Wellington, in winter conditions which included snow; and unheard of activity for someone from northern NSW/Queensland border regions. Chris made sure to challenge me to read the Book of Mormon – in total; in exasperation one Sunday afternoon he told me to read it as a history book and I remember replying that I couldn’t as it wasn’t just history but God’s word to us. Even then I knew this was no light weight book.
On another occasion in a Sunday School class Chris told the other investigators that I knew this was the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that I was already a member just not yet baptised. I remember looking at him and recognising that I had made a decision without formally identifying it to myself.
Events passed and I decided I wanted to be baptised, the missionary Elders asked who I wanted to do this and after awhile I stated that it was to be Chris Barnard, Brother Barnard, and so on the 16th June 1977 I was. Chris continued to work with my husband and that was a trying affair for all of us, but he ever gave up. On the Saturday before Stake conference at a Leadership meeting, Chris grabbed me in a big ‘bear hug’, and said “congratulations I hear George is to be baptised after Stake conference”. I must have looked a little shocked because he hugged me again and said, “it’s alright kid, it will happen you know”, and it did.
From then on we became, and remain close friends. Both Chris and Merran have lead us in our desire to attend the New Zealand Temple; Chris was my driver to hospital when I went into child labor for 3 of my children starting from Nicholas. In fact sometimes the hospital got George and Chris mixed up as which one was my husband. We preceded them in moving to the mainland, and we met up twice on our travels from the Northern Territory via Queensland to New South Wales. About a 4000 km trip of meting up and going on as if we lived down the street. On one trip we met them in a Brisbane hospital where Merran was recovering from a venomous spider bite. Chris and George administer to her again and promised her that she would recover, as the Lord saw fit.
They preceded us in serving a senior couple mission, the Barnard’s to Indonesia, the Shaw’s to Malaysia. We considered them our first mission trainers as we corresponded by email from the time they went and when they visited us in Kuala Lumpur on ours. They went on to serve another mission in Indonesia.
Both ministered to my late husband George while he was in the Darwin hospice for 2 weeks, and to me as I went through the mourning process of loosing my best friend from this earthly life. We continue to meet up when ever our travels bring us near, that means across the continent of Australia!!!! and they will be with is when we scatter some of George’s ashes on Freycinet Peninsula,Tasmania in January 2019. We catch up via social media and phone calls/texts, on a regular basis and they arrive here in October for a holiday and ‘old people having fun activities’.
Ministering – its what you do without thinking about it, to love, care for and nurture others at all their times of their and your life.
PS. I still want some of Chris’ batik hand painted shirts once he joins George in the spirit ministering world ,to create a quilt with. It will hang along side George’s T shirt quilt.