18 August 2011

No. 1 -- 19 June 1931

Mr. N. A. Hughes
Passenger, R.M.S. "Niagara",

My dear Noel,

You are now starting out on the great adventure. I know quite well the sense of adventure is likely to be uppermost in your mind just now. There are many new experiences awaiting you and I can understand the thrill you will feel as you face them.

Noel's passport photo
You know quite well that the folk at home are naturally anxious that you should "make good" in every sense of the word. You have your opportunity, and it will largely depend upon yourself just how far you will capitalise it and make it of real value in your life. All that we can do is to help provide that opportunity. The responsibility is now upon your own shoulders and you will have to measure up to the possibilities which lie ahead of you.

On shipboard there will be many new experiences, some of which may not be as pleasant as you would have them. You will be in the company of all kinds of folk and will need to be exceptionally careful in your choice of friendships. Scores of young fellows who have set out upon similar journeys have palled up with folk that they felt were companionable and safe, to find that they are simply looking for the opportunity to prey upon the confidence people repose in them. Every company of people has a section which lives by its wits. On shipboard you find that proportion greater than in normal life.

The fact that you have Alec. Moodie with you should make it unnecessary for you to extend your friendships too widely. Be careful of the fellow who is short of money and who wants to borrow as he comes to the port, or, who at the port, discovers that he has only a few shillings and would like the loan of a pound or two, and will return it when you get back to the ship. There are plenty of that kind around, but they seldom pay up.

Be careful of your bags. Leave nothing lying around or it will disappear. Keep your bags locked and see that the first thing that you do is place your papers, wallet, etc. in the care of the Purser. Don't delay in doing this. There are some folk who clean up several cabins shortly after the boat starts. Be specially careful that your stuff is properly secured before you leave the ship at any of the ports of call. When you get to Suva, I expect Mr. A. Barker of the Methodist Mission may have some little courtesy to extend to you. If he should not put in an appearance at the ship, please look  him up, because you will find him a good friend. I have written him advising him of your arrival.

Old business cards from his Melbourne days
that my grandfather saved.
And now, my boy, I have just this word for you in closing. If your service in the Young Men's Christian Association is going to be anything in the future, it will be largely determined by the depth of your own religious experience and your determination to make it of large account in the service of others.

Life has two major aspects, one in relation to God and one in relation to one's fellows. You cannot expect your service to your fellows to be of the greatest value unless you cultivate a deep and abiding fellowship with the living Christ.

Our love is yours as you go,


See related post: About the Sydney letters

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