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19. Wedding, work and kids

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Sven speaks: A few weeks after my arrival in Cairns, Marianne and I jumped on a train to Mount Isa. Marianne immediately got a job as a midwife at the local hospital and had to stay in one of the hospital’s staff housings. I myself had to live with Marianne's uncle and aunt, Hilding and Ingrid Eriksson, on their chicken farm. I helped out on the farm while I was looking for work, but it was not an easy task. My first few months in Australia were quite tough, job-wise.

After a few months I got my first job. It was a summer job as street- sweeper. My employer was very impressed with how clean the streets were. (Sven is of course laughing as he tells me this). When this temporary job had come to an end, I continued my employment under the municipality since I handled the previous job so well. I got a job as a construction worker. For example, the job entailed a lot of digging trenches for water pipes and so on. During this period of time, the ordinary gravedigger was injured quite fatally and remained sick for a long time. My work team was thus also ordained to help dig holes to be used as graves, so in my CV you can see the title of “Grave digger”.

Pretty soon, I also started to help out in the church as a Sunday school teacher. The first time I taught on the Sunday school, some of Marianne's cousins’ children were there. They were four and seven years old. When they came home from Sunday school, the youngest kid told their mum that it was Marianne's fiancé who had taken the lesson. The mother asked what I talked about "I don’t know. It was probably in Swedish". There was still room for improvement on my English.

On May the 11th 1968, Pastor Walker married us in the Methodist Church. Marianne's parents and siblings (those who lived in Australia) as well as friends from the church in Mount Isa attended the wedding. Of course, I missed my parents and siblings, but it was a bit too far to travel all the way from Sweden “simply for a wedding”. Hilding and Ingrid got to be my deputy parents during our wedding.


After I had been working with municipal work for a few months, I was employed as a foreman at a firm named Steelcon, an Italian company. The company mainly performed construction work in the mine at Mount Isa.

Working in the church played a central role in Marianne's and my new life in Australia. When I had been in Australia for six months, I held my first sermon in English. I do not remember if we received any special comments afterwards, but I hope that the audience knew a little more than the Sunday school children did in the beginning. In addition to the ordinary services, Marianne also helped out with gatherings for women.

In October 1968, Marianne began working as a nurse in a private clinic. She worked there until April 1969 when she had to stop because of high blood pressure in combination with her pregnancy. It was so bad that we considered sending her to hospital since she also had bleedings. But an evangelist who was passing through the hospital prayed for Marianne and the blood pressure went down.

We thought that it would be good for Marianne to be with her parents in Cairns for a few months. I resigned from my job and we travelled to Cairns. I was looking for a job in my branch of a profession but no company thought I was qualified enough. Marianne's parents, Elsa and Louis Eriksson, both worked in a slaughterhouse. They arranged so that I could work there as well. In my CV you can also find the title of "Butcher", even if I only worked there for a few months.

In August 1969, we were back in Mount Isa. To constantly look for work was apparently a part of my destiny. I came in contact with an engineering firm called “McIntyre & Associates” which was looking for a quality checker. I wasn’t really qualified enough for the job, but the director was willing to give me a try. If they were happy with my results, I would get a pay rise after a month. If I didn’t get a raise this would be a sign saying I should quit. After a month, I got 10% pay rise and within a year my salary was increased by a total of 40%, so obviously they were happy with me.

On October the 3rd, 1969 David was born. He was born under rather difficult circumstances. After about 36 hours of labor, the doctors decided to perform a Caesarean section. Afterwards, the doctors said that if they had waited another half an hour, the uterus would have ruptured and Marianne would probably have died.


Marianne with their son David in 1970

We were now renting a house of our own. By renting out one of the rooms, we received a little extra money and thus Marianne could stay at home and take care of David. But it was not only the tenant who lived with us. Through our involvement in the church, we came in contact with people who came to Mount Isa to seek jobs. While they were looking for jobs and places of residence, some of them stayed with us, as did pastors and preachers who were currently visiting our church.

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