The Portugal Years: Year Four – Furlough; It May Not Mean What You Think It Means

Harry's sister's wedding with her two nieces, Katy and Bethy.
Harry’s sister’s wedding with her two nieces, Katy and Bethy.

There is a persistent myth that when people come to the states on furlough that it is for them to rest from their labor. Nothing could be less true. We were always more busy and rushed when we were in the states than when we were in Portugal. Of course, we arrived in the midst of wedding prep for my sister-in-law, and didn’t slow down for the summer. A lot of what we did was visit people who supported our work in Portugal.

Shortly after the wedding, Harry, Elisabeth and I paid our respects to our missions organization traveling upstate New York to Schroon Lake (near Saratoga). Jack Wyrtzen founded this conference and camp facility. He and his wife were delightful people, and it was always fun when Jack was around.

wol jack marge

bethy wol
Bethy at Word of Life

When we got back to Pennsylvania, there was a to-do list. My mother-in-law’s family lived upstate Pennsylvania, and every year there were family reunions – yes, multiple reunions. That was a sad year for Harry’s mother; her mother passed away, and one of the trips up was for the funeral.

A family who supported our work invited us to spend a week at their cabin on Penobscot Bay in Maine. It was August, and we were wearing  jackets and light coats. You’ll see in one photo that we had a fire in the fireplace. That was the norm. If there had been a beach, we probably would not have been out swimming. While we were there, Grandpa wanted to take Bethy to the fair. She wasn’t sure about the calf, but she did love her some cotton candy. And she rode the Ferris Wheel. My father-in-law took me out with the family for some lobster love. While we were there, Bethy turned one year old. We celebrated with a chocolate cake! Of course. She needed early orientation or who knows what might have happened?  While we were there, Bethy took her first steps.

vacation Penob

vaca 2

vaca 3

first birthday

Of course, when we got back to Pennsylvania, Bethy had another party with my side of the family, including my sweet nephew, James, in attendance. second birthday party

Bethy’s Aunt Nancy spent time with us, too. In the next photo she is giving her ice cream. One can’t properly be a Price if you don’t eat ice cream.


At some point in that busy summer, we packed up the car and drove straight through to Michigan. Bethy met her cousin, Katy, who was born a little over a month after she was born. We played on Lake Michigan in the sand and visited with Harry’s sister Sally and family. family

All of that, and we haven’t even gotten to September!


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.