My husband decided that the most sensible solution was for him to get more training--then people might want him. I decided there was nothing I could do about my gender, so I didn't have any ideas at all. We talked about wild plans, such as travelling overseas and wrote letters to various medical councils, offering our services to the sick and needy of foreign countries--first choice being Sweden.

My husband visited the hospitals in the nearby large city and signed up for obstetric training. "You're just what we want," he was told, "someone with both hospital and general practice experience."

Only a few more months of journal reading and we could start saving the world.

A few days later, my husband brought in the mail. "This is a very odd letter," he said. "Have you ever heard of someone by the name of Vanoy?"

"No, why?" "Well, whoever it is says that they want people with obstetric experience in Hong Kong." "Hong Kong? Where's that? Well, you don't have obstetric training yet, so it isn't us they want. But I wonder how they heard of us? Very odd. I'll write and tell them we can't come." But I forgot to write. A few days later we got a letter from our chosen country. They appreciated our interest but had no need for foreign graduates to help their sick. We began looking for houses to buy in the city, where my husband was to be transformed into a doctor in demand.

About three weeks before he was to take up his training position, he received a very official letter from the state health department. They greatly appreciated his interest in further training. Young doctors that wanted to gain further experience were a great asset to the community--and he was one of them. They were sure he would find further training very valuable. The health department of the best state in Australia was dedicated to providing the best possible health care to the community. Sometimes they had to make a few little adjustments to the way things were done. Somehow, no-one had noticed that birth rates in the state were falling but suddenly they had. Training positions is obstetrics were to be slashed by 50 per cent. They were very sorry but to be totally fair and completely unbiased they had decided to give first preference to doctors who had done their basic training in the state. My husband had trained in the neighbouring state. He had no job.

I will never forget his utterly defeated look when he gave me the letter. Nobody wanted him. He slumped into a chair and stared into space.

I went away and I prayed--prayed as I never had before. We had both spent years training for a medical ministry and now this. Why? Why?

Remember that funny letter? my thoughts startled me. What funny letter? You know, the Hong Kong one.

I went racing out to my husband. It was difficult but I finally convinced him to phone a totally unknown place to see if they really wanted us. Did they? Could we start tomorrow?

Six weeks later, we did. And we were relieved to discover that Hong Kong was in the south of China, not close to Siberia as we had thought!

We spent 15 extremely happy and satisfying years in Hong Kong. I never forgot that God had answered our prayers before we even prayed them. It was more than a decade before we learned how Vanoy had heard about us. He could not remember the name of the stranger who had spent a few hours at the hospital in Tsuen Wan. Just an old medical school friend of mine but God used him. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. Psalm 139:2, 3. Elizabeth Ostring is a medical doctor, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.