Brave women run in my family: A young teenage girl who changed our world
I’m not one to trace genealogies and family tree, but I have always been intrigued by, and a little bit proud, of my Nordic heritage. My mother’s father from Finland jumped ship in Sydney in the second decade of the 20th century. My father’s mother originally from Denmark, immigrated as a teenager.
I had known that there were men in my family tree who were preachers and evangelists, but only recently I learnt about this line of women who were strong Christians, raised their families in the church and were real about their faith.
Born in Stepping Denmark in 1855, my great-grandmother, Maria Elizabeth Thorsen made the journey to Australia on the Lammershagen as a 14-year-old girl, a nanny to her guardians, probably her aunt and uncle. Queensland was desperate for workers in the 1870s and attracted families from Scandinavia with passage paid. The ship departed from Hamburg, and three months later they arrived in Rockhampton.
Could they even conceive how different life would be there?
Maria’s guardians were strict Lutherans, the predominant faith in Northern Europe. She secretly attended the Wesleyan Church in Rockhampton and it was there that Maria heard the good news and accepted Christ. At home with her aunt and uncle she suffered for her faith. They were unhappy that she had turned her back on the family tradition of the Lutheran church.
At the age of 22 she met Neils Petersen, a 24-year-old Danish immigrant from another part of Denmark. They were married at the Wesleyan Church in Rockhampton in 1878. Not long after her guardians returned to Denmark with their family. Maria and Neils had 13 children, 11 surviving.
The family moved to Sydney and settled in Erskineville and began to attend church at Reiby Hall in Newtown. It was here that Maria and Neils’ fourth child, Edith, met David Moulang and were married at Dulwich Hill Baptist Church in 1918. Essie and Dave were my grandparents.
Neils died in 1935 and until her death in 1943, Maria worshipped at the Gospel Hall in Bankstown with Essie and Dave. This is the church I attended as a child. Even in her 80s she would go to the local shopping centre or train station, handing out leaflets about faith in Christ. Maria wanted share her faith with others, so they could know the real life available to them.
Maria lived exceptionally close to the God throughout her life. She was a great example to her children and grandchildren.
I am grateful to be in a long line of Christian women who were real about their faith.
I am grateful for this Danish teenager who gave her life to Jesus amid family opposition.
I am grateful that the legacy of brave Maria Elizabeth Thorsen continues to the fourth and fifth generation.
As told by my father, Neil Moulang.
I am a writer.
I didn’t think I would ever say that about myself. After many years thinking about writing I just started. I now feel compelled to play with ideas and then publish them.
It starts when the spark of an idea just takes hold. Usually in the areas of learning, leadership, innovation and change. Writing is my creative expression.
But what really drives me?
Overlaying all the posts I write, are my foundational values firmly established in my Christian faith. The principles that Jesus taught – love God and love people – compel me to share my ideas. I have been given the ability to communicate, and I want to use it to help people, to change lives and perhaps even make a difference somewhere.
This page ‘The Real Life’ will give you a glimpse of what inspires me from a faith perspective, ideas that have encouraged and challenged me in my everyday, ordinary, walking-around life. I hope it encourages and maybe challenges you.
Being happy – it’s intrinsic not extrinsic
I have been thinking about ‘being happy’ this week. When stuff is happening in our lives it impacts our happiness and wellbeing – with implications for health, success and relationships.
A couple of days ago I took a long drive to a school to meet with some people. After I had absorbed as much of the radio news as possible, I put on some music and… <cue: thinking time>.
There is some ‘stuff’ for us right now, not major, but requires mental navigation and it sometimes can have an impact on my happiness ledger. So at that time my thought bubble was heading down an unhelpful pathway.
I remembered this idea in the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the growing church at Philippi – “I’ve learnt to be content whatever my circumstances”
“I’ve learnt” – personal responsibility for my emotional wellbeing.
Then Paul wrote, “I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” But I’m not doing this alone, “the One” helps me make it through. I decided to change my thought-bubble… I may need to work my way through some things, but this doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy The external circumstances will always be around. I choose my internal wellbeing and I choose happy. I am learning.