If you are new here, my mom Frieda is a contributing writer at Laugh With Us Blog. Below she is sharing her journey of setting out as a missionary. Tomorrow my dad Hal will begin sharing his story. I have long asked my dad to put to writing some of his stories as well, and I am so excited to be able to share them soon. Enjoy!
Trip to Costa Rica
In August of 1963, we were finally ready to leave for Costa Rica as new missionaries. We had been traveling for a year, speaking in churches, doing what was called deputation work. We had to have a certain amount of monthly support promised before we could leave for the mission field. In Costa Rica we were to spend a year at the Spanish Language Institute, where Hal would learn Spanish and I would take a refresher course and study grammar and literature. (My parents were missionaries in Central America, so I had spoken Spanish since I was a child.) I was eight months pregnant with our first child, so we decided for me to fly to Managua, Nicaragua, and stay with my parents while Hal drove our new Chevy Carryall (now called a Suburban) down through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. I would join him in Managua, and we would drive the rest of the way to San Jose, Costa Rica, about a day’s journey.
Hal took me to Houston, where we spent the night in a motel we found near the airport which accepted us with our beautiful bird dog pup. He had been given to Hal by one of his rancher friends. The dog was only “ranch trained,” as Hal puts it, so he had to sleep in the shower. Some of my friends thought it more than strange that a missionary would want a bird dog, but Hal, having been raised on a ranch in Oklahoma, does not lose his interest in horses and hunting and many other things.
Hal saw me off on a big four motor plane. (I saw my first jet a year later when a friend visited us.) My doctor had supplied me with a letter giving permission to travel that late in my pregnancy, but I wasn’t asked for it. As soon as my plane left, Hal set out for the Texas-Mexico border, pulling the trailer we had packed with many things we wanted for starting our life as missionaries. His trip turned out to be much more eventful than mine.
I had not seen my parents for over a year and was excited to have the opportunity to spend a week visiting with them. My dad was the director (and founder) of the Nicaragua Bible Institute, and both my parents taught there. They lived in a very small travel trailer which was parked beside the Bible Institute.
Besides teaching, my mother was in charge of the kitchen. She had help from the students and from one lady who worked full time. Mother was a wonderful cook (not just my opinion—everyone always said so) and managed to feed the students tasty food on a very limited budget.
One day Mother and I took a bus to the down town market to buy provisions for the Bible Institute. The streets were full of pot holes and the bus had wooden benches for seats, so at my stage of pregnancy, that ride was memorable. The weather in Managua is always hot. As if we were not uncomfortable enough, when the bus filled up, the driver commanded everyone to scoot over and fit three persons to a seat. We thought that under the circumstances, surely he would make an exception for us. As I said, I was eight months pregnant, and my mother was not a small woman. But the driver made a special trip down the aisle to pointedly tell us to scoot over. We did the best we could, and a small, round woman squeezed onto the edge of the seat.
The market was very crowded that day. We both carried shopping bags, and Mother had her purse over her arm. The crowd was jostling us until it was hard to progress. We finally got to the vegetable stands and filled our shopping bags. But to Mother’s horror, when she went to pay, her billfold was gone from her purse! Someone in the crush had managed to open her purse and remove it. We rode the bumpy bus back with nothing to show for our shopping expedition. Back at the trailer, Daddy started to lecture Mother on how she should be more careful and never carry her purse over her arm in a crowd and so on—typical husbandly admonitions, as if she didn’t realize all that at this point. I still remember the look she gave him which made him stop midsentence.
Hal was supposed to arrive in about a week or at most ten days, but the days went by and he didn’t show up. Not many people had telephones where we were in Managua, and the Bible Institute certainly did not at that time. Since Hal didn’t know much Spanish except for “Gracias, usted es muy amable” (Thank you. You are very kind), I didn’t really expect him to look for a place to send a telegram if he was held up some way. Being used to the way things went in Central America, I wasn’t unduly worried at first, but the time stretched from a week to two weeks to three weeks, and he hadn’t arrived.
Since this was my first baby, we evidently thought the baby would arrive on the date the doctor had given us. We were supposed to get to Costa Rica and have about three weeks to settle in the house that we had arranged to rent. Besides worrying about what might have happened to Hal, I was beginning to wonder if we would make it in time for the baby to be born in our new home.
Then right before supper one evening, Hal, with his bird dog, drove up in front of my folks’ trailer. He had a very interesting story to tell about his trip. . . .