Hector, my husband, was appointed rural director at Beulah, a secondary school boarding campus. Beulah farm boasted 400 hectares (900 acres) of rich volcanic soil. It already had five established industries: a dairy and pasteurisation plant, copra and vanilla plantations, a mechanical workshop and huge potential for commercial cash cropping. It was an exciting challenge!
Using part of our pre-embarkation leave, we visited Kingaroy, Queensland, to access knowledge on peanut cropping. Returning south through Nabiac, New South Wales, a northbound vehicle veered into our lane. There was no chance to avoid the head-on collision. Miraculously, we survived!
Ambulanced to Taree, Hector sustained multiple leg, chest and facial injuries, and I was unconscious with suspected fractures. I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. Amazingly, I did not miscarry.
After rehabilitation in Melbourne, it was months before medical clearance. Now came another decision: Hector felt responsible to the appointment but I was now eight months pregnant. I had midwifery experience, a nursing friend on Beulah Campus and my doctor's consent to travel, so we decided to fly to Tonga.
I awoke one night, startled and alarmed. I'd had a dream I would have a caesarian. In those early morning hours, we earnestly prayed for God's protection. I fully trusted God with my life and an unexplained peace came over me. God had reassured me of His care.
A few nights later, the labour came, frequent and intense. The hospital appeared adequate but it was not ideal. They were out of hospital linen, so I was bedded on newspaper. The labour ward was busy, so for 14 excruciating hours I received no medical attention or analgesics.
I was aware of so much that could have gone wrong. But I felt God's hand over me. Morning came and with it the national doctor. He observed me from a distance, shook his head and left. Hector was distraught. I just wanted to die!
Fifteen minutes later, the doctor returned with an Australian who introduced himself: "I'm Dr Bob Mackie, from Crown Street Maternity Hospital." He then advised me of immediate emergency surgery. He was one of Sydney's top obstetricians.
I was in God's safe haven. It touched me that a Tongan nurse prayed for me as I went under general anaesthetic. I delivered a beautiful baby daughter, Kelly.
Hours later, Dr Mackie came to my bedside. He sat in silence for a few moments, and then repeated over and over again, "I don't know why I am here. I found myself on a plane going to Tonga."
"You are an answer to prayer," I told him. I then related my dream and our prayer for God's protection. He was silent. I could tell it impacted him deeply. He spoke gravely, "Twenty minutes more, both you and your baby would have been dead." It was an emotional moment. Surprisingly, he had two other Australian doctors assist him in the theatre--an anaesthetist and a paediatrician. Returning to Australia from a medical conference in the Philippines, they were similarly taken off their flights at the airport to perform my life-saving surgery. Dr Mackie had concerns about leaving me in hospital, so advised discharging me the following day. I was pleased to be home but with it came the responsibilities of a new baby. Next day, I had a massive haemorrhage. The pain in my side was intense. I went into shock and convulsions from so much blood loss. It was serious! Unthinkable to return to hospital, we made a plan: Hector would come home at intervals and bottle-feed Kelly and I would lie in bed to try to halt the bleeding. It took four days before the pain subsided and the bleeding stopped. I was very weak and realised I needed iron to rebuild my haemoglobin. Shopping in Tonga depended on shipping. The supply of goods was irregular and inconsistent. When I asked Hector to try to find me some grape juice, his answer was predictable: "Where will I find grape juice in Tonga?!"
But again, God provided. Hector returned with one dozen old bottles. The lids had rusted on the top but still visible on the faded, mildewed label was the name "Sanitarium." Again, God had reassured me of healing.
He saved my life three times in those nine months! I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4. Robyn Manners and her husband, Hector, live on a sugarcane farm at Tumbulgum on the northern coast of New South Wales.