Mrs. Laura Kent
Editor’s note: In March 2007, Kay Winter, former SPD Shepherdess Coordinator, met with Laura Kent and her daughter, Glenda Hansford. Glenda assisted her mother in answering questions.
On May 13, Laura Kent celebrated her 108th birthday with family, friends, and neighbors. She enjoyed eating cake and gave a beautiful little speech. It was a memorable occasion with messages from the Prime Minister, Governor General, and the Queen.
Kay Winter : In what year were you married?
Laura Kent: We were married on February 7, 1921.
Kay: When did you begin your ministry?
Laura: My husband began his ministry in 1920, so when we were married it was immediate.
Kay: Where all did you live and serve?
Laura: We began our ministry in South New South Wales in Sydney, Temora, Stockinbingal, Tumut, Adelong, and Wagga Wagga. Then we went to North Queensland area to serve in Prosperpine, Mackay, Charters Towers, Cairns, and Atherton Tableland. We then moved to South Australia Conference in Wallaroo. After that we served in South New South Wales again in Dubbo, Narromine, Mumble Peg, Warren, Wellington and Dunnedoo. Our ministry ended in Greater Sydney Conference. We served several churches in Sydney (Epping, Kellyville, Penrith, and Windsor) and another district that included Glenn Innes, Tenterfield, Inverell, and Bingara before moving on to Lismore. We owned our first home while in Casino and Kyogle. Then Ballina and Evans Head. We were at the Strand Church in Cape Province, South Africa for 12 months of retirement. Also in retirement we were at the Foster-Tuncurry Church. Then we enjoyed our retirement home in Cooranbong. All together we lived in nineteen different homes.
Kay: What was your favorite place to live and work?
Laura: Laura Mackay, my birthplace. However, we made the most of every assignment we were given.
Glenda Hansford remembers: Glen Innes was possibly the worst. It was here that, at the age of 8, I saw my mother cry for the first time when she saw the house we had to live in. No paint, semi-detached—no heating, no floor coverings, a huge shell of falling-down boards. We arrived at this place at about 7:00 p.m. when it was dark. Our furniture had arrived, and I remember finding beds and making them. Because of the huge rooms, Mum insisted that I have a bed in their room. At about 3:00 a.m., we awoke to the house shaking as if in an earthquake, only to realize that we were right beside the Northern Tablelands rail line. Glen Innes was the coldest place she ever lived, and she hated the cold. Often the taps were frozen—the bathroom was outside the house! However, although she experienced ill health while here (breast cancer) and often felt very depressed, she never complained. When she felt lonely or depressed, she would sing until she felt on top of it all again. But she loved the people and always had a tasty morsel from her oven to give to those in need.
Kay: What was the best day of your life?
Laura: I’m not really sure of this. We loved life and enjoyed doing anything we could that would “further the Work”!! We had a wonderfully happy marriage, so perhaps my wedding day was the best day of my life, or perhaps the birth of each child.
Glenda: I understand she suffered terribly in childbirth, but she was and is still a wonderful mother.
Kay: What was the worst day of your life?
Laura: I nursed our eldest son, Mel, through very severe rheumatic fever, which developed into more serious complications. The attending doctor said he would never be employable because of the damage to his heart. I was caring for him one evening while Tom was conducting an evangelistic program in Mackay. We prayed together, and Mel requested he take promises from the promise box for the mission. It read “Be of good courage and I will strengthen your heart.” He assured his mother that he was going to be fine and that God had promised to heal his heart. Years later at Avondale College, he had to register for the army. The doctor refused to believe he had had rheumatic fever but was assured by the college matron, who was a relative of the family, that Mel was not lying. The doctor again looked at his papers and realized that he had been the attending doctor in Mackay who had told Mel that his heart would be damaged for life. He said it was nothing but a miracle.
Our daughter Rhoda suffered from asthma from three months of age and came close to death many times.
Glenda remembers again: Her own diagnosis of cancer came when she was 52. But through it all, she prayed the most amazing prayers! Morning and evening our family witnessed her on her knees, either in the quietness of her bedroom or the formal lounge room, praying for each of her family by name and for the “Work.” As I child, I thought her private devotions went on forever, but as a family we have all loved and appreciated her for her wonderful faith and prayers. Because of this, I am sure she would say there has never been a worst day of her life.
Kay: Can you share a human interest story?
Glenda: I really think Mum would say, “You’ve said enough”! She baked her own bread until she had a stroke at 105. To cook and make her home a delight was the joy of her life. Kneading bread for all those years was probably beneficial to her, and the exercise of kneading could only have done her good. So often my father would be going visiting or to a study, and she would have a basket of food ready for him to take along to the home he was about to visit.
While in Wallaroo, she spilled a kettle of boiling water over one of her legs. In excruciating pain, she removed her stocking, but the skin came off with it. That must have been a terrible day for her.
I’ve thought of one story that was quite funny. Because she played the piano and wanted the children to learn piano, she wanted a piano for our home. She and Dad went to an auction where they had seen a piano advertised. Somehow they lost each other, and it wasn’t until they had been successful in obtaining the piano that they found they had been bidding against each other! I am not sure who made the highest bid, but the final cost was 21 pounds, 21 shillings, and we still have the piano in the family.
She made the most of every day, and I am sure the good Lord will take her bad memories away.