Total Years of Service with NTM
“Granny” and Betty served with New Tribes Mission for 30 years, 28 of those years in Brazil.
How were you challenged into missionary service?
We grew up and lived in Maine with our 4 children. We were challenged to go with Wycliffe Bible Translators as a machinist to Papua New Guinea. However, we needed Bible training and so we left Maine and went to Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music in Michigan for a year. We then heard Dick Sanford, an NTM Representative, speak and our hearts were challenged again that “The Lord just wants us to be willing to have Him use our life.” We went for training in Jersey Shore, PA and were burdened by the needs in Brazil, S.A. We finished our language school training in 1970 and headed to Brazil in 1971.
Describe some of your ministries.
After studying Portuguese for a year, and home schooling our daughter Karen, while the boys attended the MK school, we were asked to take the guest house ministry in Manaus. There we cooked and had guest rooms ready for our missionaries serving interior when they came out to renew their paperwork, for medical needs, etc. During our second term in Brazil we were cooks and helped with maintenance at the NTM MK School. For about 10 years, our ministry was as managing finances, buyer for 7 tribal works, and running the guest house at a small town in Western Brazil.
Tribes in which you worked.
We worked for 4 years with the Jaminaua tribal people. Steve and Becky Smith were our partners. We were at least a 2 hour flight from town. We bought our supplies for a whole year and had them shipped down river. Later in that time, I, Granny got acute hepatitis and Betty got typhoid. The doctors said we could not return to that ministry. Although in later years we did “fill in” in the Yanomami tribal works while others went on furlough or became ill and had to leave a family in there alone. By this time we did have radio contact in case of an emergency. Although we did not know their tribal language, we were able to do physical things as well as help with the medical ministry. Today there are a lot of Yanomami believers. We saw a real strengthening of their families as they grew in their Christian faith.
What was your biggest test of faith?
During some of our ministries we were a long way from the MK school where our children attended. Flights were expensive and there was often no mail. We remember once, when after our daughter (then to be a senior in High School) had been with us for the summer, due to a shortage of aviation fuel, there would be no flights coming in by our mission plane, to get her back to school. Then a neighboring rancher said he would fly her on his private plane to where she could get a connecting flight. “What should we do Lord?” we asked. We prayed and put her on the flight. The next day we heard by radio that she had not arrived at the school! “What did we just do Lord!?” Our hearts sunk and we prayed some more. Here she and our partner’s wife, who had traveled with her, found when they got to their destination, there was to be no connecting flight. They had enough money for one night in a motel and the next day the Lord turned up a friend in that town that offered for them to stay at her house. “Thank you Lord!” Within a few days they were able to take a plane to Manaus. Again, the Lord undertook!
Although it was not easy to be away from our children, we also saw real blessings come from having our children at the Mission school. Our son Les, met his wife Debbie at High School in PQQ and they have been back serving as missionaries in Brazil for many years.
Advice you would give to new missionaries going to the field.
Be committed! There will be some real tests of faith, but you will always see God undertake for you personally.