Total Years of Service with NTM
Keith and Pat served with New Tribes Mission for 29 years.
We headed to Papua New Guinea in 1969. On our way over, with our 4 children, we stopped in Australia for what we thought was to be just a few days. While we were there, the “nighty” of one of our daughters caught on fire from the open flame of a space heater. She was badly burned. We ended up staying in Australia longer, until she was healed and able to travel. The hard part was sending our oldest daughter, then an 8th grader, on ahead so she could start school on time. I, Keith, was able to help build cabinets there for NTM Australia while our daughter healed.
We served in PNG for 21 years. We started out with the Yagaria tribal work and then when there was an emergency at the school and they needed dorm parents in the dorm where our kids were staying, we were asked to be move there. From that point on I, Keith, was also always involved in some type of construction and cabinetmaking.
Our last 7 ½ years, before retirement, we were asked by the NTM Chairman, Macon Hare, to help to start up the NTM Homes Retirement Center in Sanford, FL. I again was doing construction and finish carpentry and Pat helping in the office.
How were you challenged into missionary service?
Rudy Johnson, an NTM Representative came to speak at our home church. The NTM trio also sang some special missionary numbers. They left us applications and invited us to visit the NTM training Center at Oviedo, Florida. Our pastor also encouraged us to consider missionary service. During that time, we heard a missionary with TEAM speak about the need for laborers in Irian Jaya, so our hearts were set on helping in that part of the world.
What was your biggest test of faith?
When we got to PNG, our 3 daughters were attending school at Oluguti, and Field leadership asked us to help build a new school center. So, we lived in a “pit-pit” house, while the new buildings were being constructed. Our young son was with us and we lived in that little house for about a year. It was a big adjustment to be away from our daughters while they attended school.
Once the school center was established, all four of our children attended school there. I continued making cabinets for the houses of missionaries’ interior as well as those added to the school center. Pat helped at the center store, with record keeping and doing taxes. Then, we were asked to move to West New Britain to open up the field there. This was one of our hardest times, in that we lived in a small tin shed, while the men went interior on surveys to see where works could be opened by New Tribes Mission missionaries. In those days there were no radios or cell phones, so we had no way of knowing how our husbands were doing or just when they would be able to return. This was a real time of having to trust the Lord without being with our mate or our children. The separation was difficult, but we learned again that God’s grace was more than sufficient! This lesson was a big help when in later years we served in PNG two terms without our children. They were back in the U.S. going to school, getting married, etc.
Advice you would give to new missionaries going to the field.
Have the people to your house and get to know them. Go as a learner. We are guests in their country. Don’t take over!