Arden & Jennette Callahan
Total Years of Service with NTM
Arden & Jennette Callahan served with New Tribes Mission for 28 years.
How were you challenged into missionary service?
Our home church was very mission minded and had a visiting missionary come to speak and show slides nearly every month. I, Arden, helped run the projector and we became well acquainted with missionary’s travels and medical challenges. Even though Jeanette and I had taken linguistics in college and were both teaching in Ohio public schools, we really were shocked to the point of laughter, when one of the NTM missionaries our church supported asked us to consider coming to Brazil as associate missionaries, to fill in at the MK school for a year. We prayed about it and soon found we were leaving our two grown children stateside and taking our 9th grade son, James with us to Brazil! Jeanette taught biology and I taught math, physics and chemistry during that year.
When we returned stateside after the school year, we returned to teaching, but were not able to return to our previous teaching positions and the new ones just did not make us happy. We decided to take the New Tribes missionary training and head back to the field to teach in an MK school. We choose Oviedo, Florida for our training center because by then my parents had retired in Florida and we could be near them. The training program prepared us well for the cultural changes and we knew what to expect when we arrived back in Brazil.
Upon completion of our training, the Lord enabled us to get back to Brazil, but teaching in a different location. In 1972 there was a need at the NTM School south of Brasilia, the capital, and we found ourselves on the teaching staff at our mission school. There we were asked to assume the principal ship and teach math, physics and chemistry as before. Jennette returned to teaching biology, and added home economics and being the editor of the school yearbook. Our furloughs consisted of 3 months every 3 years, which enabled us to maintain contact and see our grandchildren grow up.
What were some of your more difficult experiences?
I don’t know that there was one major thing, but it was difficult at times to be so far away from our family back in the States. My mother passed away in 1979, leaving my father to live on his own. We were not able to leave the country for her funeral, due to laws at the time that could have jeopardized our permanent visas. That was hard. But God always provided things that helped. I was able to set up an amateur radio station and keep in touch with a neighbor of my father to know how he was doing. My “ham” radio was also a blessing to our fellow missionaries since I was able to run telephone “patches” to their relatives as well. Then knowing that our grandchildren were growing up without us around was never easy. Yet, God undertook that we did get to see them quite often when we came Stateside during some of our summer breaks. Another test of faith came as we lost some of our prayer and financial supporters through the years, but God always continued to take care of us.
In 1986 we returned to Florida to take care of my father, since I was the only child. He lived with us for 5 years, until his death. We lived near the NTM US Home Office and I was able to help build computers (the old 386 and 486 battery operated type) for missionaries on the field. Jennette worked in the printing department and even my father sometimes helped stuff envelopes for Summit, the short term missionary arm of NTM.
Did you ever return to the field?
Yes, after my father passed, we were asked to teach at another NTM school further north in Brazil. It was a two hour boat trip up the River. Again I taught math, and the sciences and Jennette taught 5th and 6th grade. Our son was a teacher there also and it was special that we could be close to him and his family during this time.
How was your ministry as a teacher a blessing to other missionaries?
As teachers we were able to help supply 1-12 grade education to the children of our missionaries, which prepared them for college when they returned stateside. It also provided many social advantages for the children as they interacted together in a safe moral environment. They also had so much fun swimming in the River as well as learning to play soccer and lots of other sports and games.
Advice you would give to new missionaries going to the field.
Be flexible! You have no idea what all you may be asked to do. Ask as many questions as possible before going to the field. Write and communicate with folks that have been there!