Sacrifices Bring Rich Rewards
‘Lynette, my darling,
‘I wanted to leave you a note to thank you for being such a sweet, loving daughter to me. It will be hard on you without a mother, darling, but others will help, and your Daddy will take very good care of you. Help your little sisters—I know you will—as they will look more and more to you. I want to say thank you sweetheart for all you have done for me and for being such a lovely, obedient little girl, never giving me any worry. I pray that Jehovah will remember me and that we will all meet in the New World.
‘Lots of love from your loving Mummy.’
I WAS only 13 years old when Mother died of cancer in January 1963. About three months before her death, she let me and my younger sisters know she was dying. I was grateful that she didn’t keep matters hush-hush but kindly explained the situation and then took steps to prepare us for the changes to come.
Even though she was bedridden, Mother taught me to cook, and I prepared all the meals under her direction. She also showed me how to use the sewing machine, cut the family’s hair, prepare school lunches, and do many other duties. She explained that being without her, I would have to make sacrifices to help my younger sisters.
I remember marveling at how composed Mother was. I know now that this was because of her deep confidence in the promised resurrection. A few days after her death, Father handed each of us girls a letter Mother wrote to us shortly before she died. The one to me appears, in part, above. You can imagine my tears as I read that letter, but it strengthened me spiritually despite my tender years. Just a few months after that, I made a dedication to Jehovah and was baptized in August 1963.
My parents had become Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1956, a year after we moved from a small dairy farm into Sydney, Australia. Unfortunately, I developed a skeptical, almost atheistic attitude because of the way Bible stories were presented at Sunday school. I had mentally slotted Bible characters with fairy tales and other fables that I knew were not true. I had even come to regard God as just another mythical character. However, the sincerity of the Witnesses began to impress me, and I got to thinking that if they and my mother believed in God and the Bible, there must be something to it.
When I was 11 years old, the congregation began to study the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth”—with its verse-by-verse explanation of portions of the Bible book of Daniel. These prophecies and the way they were fulfilled in such detail really impressed me. Other congregation meetings dealt with the Bible’s harmony with true science. Some of my doubts began to fade, and gradually I gained real faith in God.
Sacrifices of a Different Kind
As Mother had said, assuming family responsibilities and helping two younger sisters was not always easy. Some of my own youth was lost. Nevertheless, the unusually close bond that developed between us three girls and the quiet confidence my father showed in me more than compensated for this. Yet there were sacrifices of a different kind still to come.
During school years, I developed a love for music and dramatic acting. Our family was musical. We children would play the piano, sing, dance, and put on concerts until we were exhausted. I had been given leading roles in school productions since I was seven. Teachers urged me to enroll in a drama school. But I recalled the words of a song we would sing at our congregation meetings: “As our gifts and talents to His work we bring.” So even though it wasn’t easy to do, I declined their urgings.
I also enjoyed studying and, as a result, received high scholastic merits. However, when I decided against a university education in favor of using my full time in the preaching work, I was taken before the vocational guidance officer. “It seems such a waste,” he said as he tried to persuade me to pursue a medical career. Yet I have never regretted my decision.
After leaving school, I worked for a year and a half in the new computer section of a government department. When I handed in my resignation, I was offered double salary and head position in that department. This was a tempting offer, especially for a 17-year-old! But I stuck to my goal and began the full-time ministry as a regular pioneer on June 1, 1966.
When I was appointed a special pioneer the following April, I was overjoyed to receive an assignment in my home congregation in Sydney. This permitted me to be with my sisters a little longer. I was grateful for this, as I hoped to stay with or near my family until both my sisters were married and settled.
In 1969 I was assigned to the nearby Peakhurst Congregation along with Enid Bennett, who was to be my special-pioneer partner for the next seven years. Two years later, my father moved to serve as an elder where there was a need in the small, picturesque town of Tumut, some distance southwest of Sydney. The Society kindly assigned Enid and me there also. At this time my youngest sister Beverley began pioneering, and she served along with us.
A Sorrow Worse Than Death
It was about this time that the saddest event of my life occurred. My sister Margaret and her fiancé were disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation. This was a heartrending time, for now the unusually close bond I had had with Margaret since our mother’s death was severed. I knew that Mother was in Jehovah’s memory, a very safe place to be. Yet my sister—at least for the present—had lost Jehovah’s approval. I had to supplicate Jehovah earnestly to overcome my crushed feeling so that I could serve him with some joy, and he answered my prayer.
Cutting ourselves off completely from all association with Margaret tested our loyalty to Jehovah’s arrangement. It gave our family opportunity to show that we really believe that Jehovah’s way is best. To our joy, nearly two years later Margaret and her husband were reinstated in the congregation. Little did we realize the powerful effect our resolute stand had on them, as Margaret later told me:
“If you, Dad, or Bev had viewed our disfellowshipping lightly, I know for a certainty I would not have taken steps toward reinstatement as soon as I did. Being totally cut off from loved ones and from close contact with the congregation created a strong desire to repent. By being alone, I came to realize just how wrong my course was and how serious it was to turn my back on Jehovah.”
Again we were blessed with having the whole family together serving Jehovah. How grateful we were for the eventual happiness that resulted from sticking loyally to Bible principles!
Marriage and Traveling Work
Later I met Alan, a pioneer and Christian elder. We married in November 1975, six months after the marriage of my sister Beverley. After pioneering for two years, in January 1978 we were invited to share in the traveling work, visiting a different congregation each week to help strengthen them spiritually. Our assignments have taken us from the easygoing pace of the outback towns of Queensland to the bubbly cosmopolitan areas of Melbourne and Sydney.
For me, living out of suitcases and staying in a different home each week was quite a challenge. But then I reasoned: ‘I should be happy that we have suitcases and possessions to fill them. Many people don’t even have these.’ Losing the company of my husband many nights as he attended to congregational duties also has not been easy. Yet, many women, I pondered, don’t always have the company of their husbands either, and in most cases it is not because of their involvement in the noble work of the Lord.
The hardest situation of all to cope with, however, has been my poor health. Ever since childhood, I had experienced continual sore throats, muscular and joint problems, bronchial troubles, and a general feeling of weakness. Doctors and naturopaths could not identify the problem.
As the years passed, the above symptoms worsened, accompanied by constant backache and neckache, coldness, extreme tiredness, rashes, swollen glands, continual nausea, and recurring cystitis. I began to think such ailments were a normal part of life that had to be endured, so I did not complain.
One such condition developed soon after we accepted our first circuit assignment. Every time I walked for more than an hour, I would experience a flow of blood, and this would continue until I sat down. As our schedule called for about three hours of walking each morning in house-to-house activity, I wondered how I could cope. I prayed about it. The result?
Every one of those mornings—for three months straight—I was asked inside and invited to sit down. When the physical problem stopped, so did the invitations! As it is not customary for Australian people to invite casual visitors inside, I feel that this had to be more than coincidence.
My Health Worsens
By the time I was in my early 30’s and had been in the traveling work for a few years, my health deteriorated further. It would take two weeks or so to recover from a few days of concentration at assemblies. Just one late night would hinder me for weeks. A morning’s witnessing became a mountainlike obstacle. By ten each morning, I was exhausted. By 11, I felt shaky inside, and a mental fog would descend. By noon I was frantic to lie down. Then there was the afternoon to face. Others seemed to cope with ease and have energy for extra activity. Why not me?
I went down to 93 pounds (42 kg), and if I was not in bed with the flu, I had a constant preflu feeling. I could not sleep through a night without 20 or more interruptions because of bladder trouble. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up! Many times I pleaded in prayer: “Please, Jehovah, I know I deserve nothing, but I only want my health to serve you. Would you direct me to my problem? If not, please help me to endure.”
I was determined not to give up the full-time ministry easily. So I made specific requests of Jehovah for help, first that we would obtain a caravan (trailer), since I felt desperately in need of private accommodations. I did not mention my request to Alan, but at the very next meeting a brother approached us and offered us his caravan. My next request involved a change to a cooler assignment, and shortly this prayer was also answered when we were assigned to Sydney.
Would you believe that within two months of our arrival in Sydney, I was handed a book describing symptoms that appeared to fit mine exactly? Amazingly, this book was written by a doctor whose practice was in our circuit territory. After many tests, I learned that I had low blood sugar and that I was allergic to many things, including molds, yeasts, certain chemical odors, cats, dogs, and many foods.
It took eight tedious months under this doctor’s care to trace my food allergies until I was symptom free. It is difficult to describe the effect this had on my physical health and on my whole outlook on life. The ministry and the congregation meetings became a real pleasure again. I felt I had been “resurrected” from near death! Soon I gained weight, and those who hadn’t seen me for a while were amazed by the transformation.
How quickly 24 years have passed since Mother’s death! And how grateful I am to have spent 21 of those years in full-time service! True, there have been difficulties, but without these I may not have developed the same degree of appreciation for Jehovah’s love.
On reflection, any sacrifices I have made seem insignificant compared to the rewards already received. Among these is the treasured relationship with so many loving friends and especially my own family. To illustrate, my sister Margaret wrote me shortly after Alan and I began in the traveling work:
“Thank you very much for being the person you are. I don’t think I have ever said this before, and I’m sorry if I haven’t, but thank you for doing your best in bringing Bev and me up and for taking Mum’s place. I realize now that it took a lot of love and effort and self-sacrifice on your part. I have often thought of those years and prayed that you may be blessed. I know that you have been.”
Then there are the future rewards—especially the precious prospect of the resurrection of our sleeping loved ones. Yes, a few tears still flow when I reread Mother’s farewell letter. My prayer is also as hers, “that Jehovah will remember [her] and that we will all meet in the New World.”—As told by Lynette Sigg.
[Blurb on page 13]
I knew that Mother was in Jehovah’s memory, a very safe place to be
[Picture on page 12]
From left: Lynette, Margaret, and Beverley, three years before their mother died
[Picture on page 15]
Lynette and her husband, Alan, currently serving in Australia