The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – MIT

Word of Life
Word of Life Inn

Along about the first week in June I was on the road with Harry again. We were heading up to the Adirondacks where the missions organization was holding the Missionaries in Training classes. I was familiar with the founder of Word of Life. Jack Wyrtzen, who began ministering in New York city as an evangelist. Word of Life was also famous back in the day for Word of Life Island – a camp for teens.

I also  knew that he had been blackballed by a well-known Christian university for going to talk to a group of Roman Catholic priests somewhere  along the way. The first time that I saw him in person, he was speaking in chapel at the Bible college I attended. His first words were, “How does a girl get pregnant in Bible college?” Yes, he did get everyone’s attention!  He was one of a kind.

In fact, I was about to meet a large group of characters. I think that being a character was required to be part of the organization. One of the first things that happened was that Harry was caught with his mustache. One of the Bible club teachers walked up to him and told him to lose the ‘stache, thus dashing my dreams of being married to the mustached man.

Frankly, I remember only three things about that week with any kind of clarity. One was my interview with Jack’s wife, Marge. And, yes, she too was a card carrying character. She told me that when she and Jack got married, her doctor advised her to not have children due to her poor health. Marge and Jack went on and had five children, and she lived to a ripe old age. She was the detail person of the Jack and Marge duo. When she looked at a prospective missionary woman, she always knew if the woman had what it takes. If she said, “No”, it was no go.

The second thing was fielding the question of why my home church would not support us financially. Multiple times. I was embarrassed. The WOL leadership found it incomprehensible. Some of it probably had to do with the nature of Harry’s position as a business manager instead of being a preacher (even though he was deeply involved in the evangelistic part of the mission); some was Word of Life being a non-denominational entity (even though WOL was and continues to be a conservative Christian organization). The bottom line was my church practiced second degree separation.

The last thing that left an impression was that nasty black fly that bit me on my ring finger and left a scar.


On the way back to Pennsylvania I asked Harry what he would have done if Marge had looked at me and said I wasn’t fit to be a missionary’s wife. He said that he would have resigned. Since we were only three weeks out from the wedding, that was probably the right answer. I was relieved.

6 thoughts on “The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – MIT

  1. Susan, after the training with New Tribes we ending up in Bolivia as dorm parents at the NTM boarding school. We have always been in the support end, ministered at the Language School in Mo. before going to Papua New Guinea where my husband was in administration, finances and leadership. I was the hostess among a few other things. It is a struggle to get pastor and church members to understand the team it takes to keep one couple in a remote tribe to present the gospel. Now we have are back in the states doing a ministry still with New Tribes of Member Care reps. God picked out one of the most expensive states to plant us, California but God as always has taken care of so much for us. We have never starved, did without anything we needed all those years on the field and in the states now. I think most pastors and Christians really do not understand missions, living a life on a one way ticket in a third world country. The missionaries we meet with home on furlough always tell us, we don’t have to explain anything to you, you understand. Love Word of Life. Blessing my sister.


    1. Thank you for coming by and reading and commenting, Betty. I agree with you on most people not understanding. I loved Portugal, both the culture and the people. It was excruciating when we had to come back to live in the states. Living overseas for 11 years gives you a different perspective and you are never quite the same again. We grieved for years, and would go back in a heartbeat if the door should open. We planned to be buried in Portugal. I remember a presentation that Harry made in our home church where he mentioned that if they can, the Portuguese will come to the states and earn money so that in ten to 20 years they can move back to Portugal and open a café. A young man of about 17 years of age came up to us afterward and startled me by asking me, “What’s so great about the United States that they want to come here.” I was stunned.


Comments are closed.