Monday, March 26, 2012


When Rita Galieh’s laptop decided to crash last week, she invited me to take her spot on our blog today. Now while I’m sorry for Rita, I’m also happy to be given this opportunity to share publicly in the joy of another friend and member of Christian Writers Downunder, Marion Andrews. You see, just a few days ago, Marion’s first non-fiction book, My China Mystery, was released by Even Before Publishing. What an exciting moment! As Marion explains on her Facebook author page: A bundle of old letters, 150 tightly inscribed photos, a message from the Gurkha Museum and a visit to meet the Queen: these are the ingredients that make up "My China Mystery". How tantalising is that?

Marion and I go back a long way. We met in 1964 at the beginning of Year Eleven. She had come to Brisbane for her final two years of high school from her home in western Queensland and, so I soon discovered, was boarding with relatives not far from my own home. I still remember the day in class during that first week of Year Eleven when, for some reason, we were asked to tell everyone where we had been born. As we each took our turn, from the back of the room, I heard someone say firmly, ‘China!’ I turned around and saw a girl with very blond hair, fair skin and a friendly face, smiling as we gasped in astonishment—and I was immediately interested to find out her story.

We soon became friends, studying several subjects in common and sharing those long, hot bus and tram trips to and from our school in South Brisbane. But we shared much more than that too, I was delighted to discover. Marion was a very committed Christian. In fact, her parents were missionaries in north-west China at the time of her birth and her father was now ministering in a country church. I had become a Christian only a matter of months earlier and both of us were keen members of our school’s Crusader group. I will never forget being invited to stay with Marion’s family one school holidays for a week. How wonderful it was to experience this warm, Christian environment and to see mother, father and seven children praying together for others on their knees beside their chairs around that breakfast table each morning!

Many years have passed since then, but around three years ago, the two of us were invited to lunch at the home of a mutual high school friend. As we sat around the table looking at our friend’s photos of her recent trip to China, Marion shared something of her parents’ experiences there. Soon this friend and I were both encouraging Marion to write a book of her father’s exploits—and thus the idea of ‘My China Mystery’ was born.

Since then, it has been a delight to follow Marion’s journey as she has applied herself to unravelling and recording her family mystery and to see the love for God and for her parents shine through the pages of her completed book. Who would have thought all those years ago at high school that Marion and I would both end up as published authors? Only God!

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9

Note: My China Mystery is currently available direct from the author, from her publisher (http://www.evenbeforepublishing.com/) or from Amazon and will soon be in Christian bookstores.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen grew up in Brisbane and holds an Arts degree from Queensland University. She has also studied Education and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher and editor, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word and currently has five published novels—‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’, ‘Jenna’ and ‘Heléna’s Legacy’. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren.

12 comments:

  1. It's great to hear the story behind the story. How exciting for you to be able to share this experience with Marion. Blessings. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't wait to read it. Will be getting a copy today.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You had me at 'a bundle of old letters.' Sounds amazing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is your former ACFW Mid-Atlantic Zone Director from when you lived in Virginia! Waving at you across the ocean, Dorothy!

      Delete
  4. wow, I sometimes feel as i don't have anything new to tell as i was born in Australia and that is where i have always lived
    MEL

    ReplyDelete
  5. Like Dorothy said 'a bundle of old letters' does sound very intriguing. How wonderful to hear about two schoolmates from the past who are now both Christian writers with exciting stories to share. Congratulations to Marion - her book sounds great and I look forward to reading it.
    Blessings,
    Anusha

    ReplyDelete
  6. PS Mel, I am sure you too must have lots of lovely stories to share - even if you were born here. Wherever there's life - there's always a story! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, everyone, on behalf of Marion. Yes, her story is a very intriguing one and the ending is particularly satisfying!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jo-Anne and Marion. It's really exciting to see "My China Mystery." The cover looks beautiful. I enjoyed reading the history of your friendship too.

      Delete
  8. Marion's book sounds like a fascinating read. Jo-Anne, thanks for introducing us to a new Aussie author :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Jo-Anne for stepping in for me! And what an intriguing book.

    I discovered a bundle of letters my dear mum saved from when I lived in Missouri many years ago. It brought back so many memories of the time spent there as I'd described it to her. I guess it was a part of my history.

    ReplyDelete