'We’ve been fostering needy children, here in Alice Springs, for 60 years'
Veryl’s story | Still caring for children at 89
“My mother took me to Sunday school from the age of two, so I grew up hearing about Jesus. When I was about ten years old, there was a speaker at church. He talked about Jesus on the cross and he mentioned the Centurion who stood beneath the cross. After Jesus died, the man saw what happened and said, ‘Surely, he was the Son of God!’ (Matthew 27:54). I realised that what Jesus did on the cross was for me, and for everybody else.”
“I went home and I accepted Jesus as my Saviour.
“After I left school, I trained as a nurse, and at the end of my training, I felt the Lord calling me to work among the Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. There was a lot of need there and they were asking for nurses in Yuendumu. It’s a small Indigenous community 290 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. That was in 1956. I worked in Yuendumu for nearly two years. It was very challenging. There was a measles epidemic in the first year. We were working in a tin shed – that was the hospital. But the Lord helped us and we didn’t lose any of the babies. That’s also where I met my husband. His name was Doug and he was the plumber. He’d come up to help build the new hospital. We got married at the end of 1958 and then we moved back into town, into Alice Springs. We’ve been fostering needy children, here in Alice, for 60 years.
“At first, there was a little boy, Eddie. We looked after him while his dad worked … and then there was Bobbie. He had heart troubles, so he came to live with us. Before we had our own children, we took on three little sisters – Jean, Marjorie and Dorothy. Then we had Lyle and Kerrie, our own children, born 15 months apart. Then, we took on a little girl who suffered from polio. She couldn’t walk, so we grew her up. Then we had our two youngest sons, Peter and Grant, but we kept taking on children, on and off for 60 years.
“I’m 91 now and I’m forgetting things! Many of the children struggled as adults but we’ve always been part of their lives, and we’ve been asked to help grow up their children and even their grandchildren. In between all that, I went back to work at the hospital in Alice. There were a lot of babies there that needed fostering for short times … I can’t remember all their names, but it’s been more than 60 children, all together.
“One of the little girls was born with a lung condition. She almost bled to death and she needed a lot of help, so we took her in. She needed feeding from a tube into her stomach until she was 9 or 10 years old. She’s now grown up and she has a little boy of her own. They often come and stay with us.
“The last little boy we had stayed with us for three years. That was two years ago, when I was 89. He was one of Dorothy’s grandchildren. He lived with us for three years and he never stayed still. It was hard at times, and very busy, especially during the daytime. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I read my Bible in the middle of the night. That’s when I had my quiet time.
“At the moment, I’m reading Proverbs 3:6 – ‘In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.’
“The whole way through my life, God has been in control. He has led me in all things. He has directed my paths every day. Doug is 92 now and we’re both well. It’s incredible that as I continue to study God’s word, the Scripture songs from my youth come clearly to mind.
“One of my favourites is from the Scripture Union Chorus book:
‘Be steadfast, immovable, by grace stand your ground;
Let the world not entice you, Nor let errors confound;
For the Lord is your portion,
His word is your guide;
Be steadfast, unyielding,
And turn not aside.’”