Irene in the Greek means Peace.
My name is Irene. I was raised along with two sisters and a brother in Whanganui. We had a good upbringing on a farm let where I enjoyed the outdoors and the animals. My mother took us to the Anglican Church on Sundays to go to Sunday School, dragging me away from the radio where I would listen to stories like “The Happy Prince” (who shed his wealth for the poor,) and “Small One,” (about the sale of a small donkey on his way to the tanners, to end up with a more important task, that of carrying Mary to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus.) Not that I realised the significance of these stories then, but all the same they bought tears to my eyes. As my teenage years approached, I went to a Girl Guide club and was introduced to the world of music by joining a brass band along with my two older siblings. I played the cornet and went to competitions. There were three girls in this all male band, and we caused quite a stir when we joined.
At the age of sixteen I decided to leave home and go and work at the Whanganui Hospital, where I did two years nurse Aiding, then I started my General training only to become ill with depression six months before my final paper. So, my nursing was out, and instead was an inpatient for nine months. When I was discharged from hospital I was employed as an instrument nurse in the surgical theatre. During my training years I met my future husband. I had been in the party and cabaret scene and smoked cigarettes. I had no thoughts of God at this time even though I had been to the Hospital Chapel while I was in hospital, and I didn’t find what I was looking for there either. Still empty inside my soul, I thought marriage was the answer. Continuing on the wide road following others, my marriage went downhill, and I was stuck in the miry clay. After ten years and two lovely daughters, I didn’t know what to do or how I could make things better
One day a neighbour came over and shared that God could help me. “Yes of course!” The light came on! “How” I asked, thinking that was a bit strange as I’m down here on earth and He’s up there. “Ask Him into your life!” she said and left me standing in the kitchen by myself. I was at the crossroads and I became very aware that I had lived my life without God only for myself and had made a mess of if it. I trusted that things would work out.
However, things didn’t work out the way I thought and became worse, and nine months later I found myself left with two small children to bring up. My new life had begun, even though it was in tatters. I was broken, sad and angry on the one hand and ecstatically joyful on the other. My mother had given me some money for my birthday, so I bought a Bible and began to read it every day. My neighbour asked me if I would like to go to Church with her on Wednesdays, so I did. My excitement grew as I learned how much God loved me, and I became free as I established a close relationship with Jesus.
Still my heart was closed off to personal relationships, and I became content to bring up the girls the best way I knew on a limited income. We went to church each week as a family and trusted the Lord to be Leader, Saviour, Friend and Provider. Slowly Jesus put the pieces of my life back together, and I found blessings flowed as I grew in Him. I learned how to budget and handle money. I learned how to be a better mother to my girls. I grew from a quiet shy person to someone more confident. I stayed in the Refiners’ fire until all the dross had been burned out for that time, as my walk is ongoing. This was a time of challenge and growth.
As time went by, I found a part time job in my suburb, not far from the girls’ school. At about the same time, I decided to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit and, a year after my salvation I was water baptised. The song I had chosen to sing that day was “ I Have Decided To Follow Jesus, No Turning Back, No Turning Back.” As I grew in the Lord, so did the gifts He had given me. I began a children’s outreach in my home after school, my lounge was full of children, eager to hear Bible stories and hear about Salvation. From there I taught Bible in School for eight years, which I enjoyed very much. At the Evangelical church I attended, I taught and lead Children’s church, taken a small Home group, attended prayer meetings, and a school of prayer for a weekend, and I have been a Counsellor for crusades. I have cleaned houses, cooked for a YMCA camp in the school holidays, attended a Counsellors training course in Palmerston North and a Leadership course at a Bible Training College near Wellington. My next adventure workwise, was being hired by a bank to do the filing during the changeover from manual to computers, and later worked as a teller, where I stayed for six years. The second daughter was soon to leave home and for me a change was imminent. A new chapter began in my life. After twelve years on my own, at the age of forty-four, I met my husband Owen.
After two and a half years of getting to know one another Owen and I were married. I have been blessed with a fair, tolerant, hardworking, and gentle guy to share my life with. I learned to milk cows, to help in the springtime with bringing in the new born calves and their mothers, to do farm administration work, wages, and computer recording of animal data. In Stratford I soon integrated into the community by going to a garden club. Both gardening and swimming are my hobbies. I joined the volunteer team who ran the Methodist Market, and when that shop closed, I volunteered at the Salvation Army Family Store. I have served as Kitchen Manager at the Baptist church for seven years, I trained as a school Chaplain in New Plymouth and spent six years in that role at the Stratford Primary School. During that time, I had given away six bibles to children and prayed for any person who had wanted me to, or as I had offered.
I have endeavoured to follow Jesus through all the different phases of my life. His Love, Mercy and Grace has sustained and fulfilled me even through my ups and downs. I am thankful for where my life is today. My goal is to love other people as He has loved me. My life is in His hands, until I see Him face to face.
All praise and Glory to His Name.