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46 - Memories of a Good Samaritan

 

 

from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

Among my most prized possessions is a piece of grayish stone, flecked with a white substance which give it a sort of peculiar sheen and brightness. This piece of stone is part of the very rock that has been erected in memory of a great man - a man whose work and accomplishments will never be forgotten by the people of northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

I shall never forget the day I first saw him. His twinkling blue eyes were set in a ruddy face surrounded by a fringe of thinning white hair. I stood and watched as his good ship the Strathcona II slowly steamed into the land-locked harbour.

As soon as she was near enough for recognition, the men, women and children came flocking to the only wharf the harbour boasted, to greet their beloved friend.

The past winter had been an extremely hard one. Furs had been scarce, and the seal catch had been very low. As a result, only enough skins had been found to provide boots for the fathers and older brothers. Their needs must be first met in order that they would be able to go out to procure fuel and the other necessities of live for themselves and their families. Most of the children flocking to the wharf that day were shoeless, their poor bare feet reddened by the rough rocks and cold mud which oozed up over their feet and between their cracked and bleeding toes.

I can see him now as his tiny launch reached the wharf, his whole being filled with compassion and pity for these poor, neglected souls. His and was extended out to the smallest child, or the lowliest, uncleanest person, the same as to a king or lord.

But what a contrast that evening. All were gathered in the little church on the hillside - the children no longer with poor cold and bleeding feet, but clad in new clothing, new socks and shoes. All of these had been graciously supplied by his willing workers.

Many times it has been my humble privilege to sit in that little church, listening enthralled as his deep voice poured forth as earnest prayer on their behalf, and told them of the Eternal Love. Here was a man who, ever ready to supply the material needs of the body, by words and actions taught them that "Man cannot live by bred alone".

Clearly also in my memory are the large buildings which have been erected at St. Anthony in northern Newfoundland - the hospital, which has saved so many lives and alleviated much suffering; the orphanage, where boys and girls acquired an education, and are trained to be useful and better citizens; the library, and not least, the large school hall. Bold lettering painted on the outside of its walls proclaim to all its message of love. It is such words as these that meet the eye, words that leave an indelible impression on those privileged to visit this northern outpost:

"ALL THY CHILDREN SHALL BE TAUGHT OF THE LORD, AND GREAT SHALL BE THE PEACE OF THY CHILDREN"

On yet another side:

"AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE, THESE THREE, BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE"

And again:

"INASMUCH AS YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO THE LEAST OF THERE MY BRETHREN, YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO ME"

Small wonder that a man possessing such a high Christian character should be content to leave the land of his birth, his home, friends and loved ones, to give his live in service and sacrifice to the poor and needy of this rocky land.

His body lies resting on the shores of Newfoundland. His work still continues, and his name, loved and cherished by all, will long be remembered by the present generation of him who will ever live in the hearts of those for whom he did so much. for he was none other then the late Sir Wilfred Grenfell.

 

 

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This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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