We had some dear friends that gave us a video put out by New Tribes Missions (NTM) called “E-Etaow”. After viewing it, Dale felt like maybe God was calling him to go on a mission trip. So that summer he left for 6 weeks on a mission trip to Brazil with NTM and the kids and I ran the farm. My oldest was 15 and the baby was about 1 year old. I took care of the 9 kids and my son and I even put up a cutting of alfalfa almost all by our selves.
Dale became friends with some of the missionaries there and he made trips to Brazil every year after that for the next 3 years. Once I went with him and then he took the older kids two at a time. He would be gone for 3 weeks or so in the dead of winter and I would keep the farm going. One year I was 7 months pregnant. I remember we had a big snow that winter and I had to get out and clear the driveway with our old John Deere 70 Tractor. I could barely zip my coveralls over my pregnant belly. The kids had to help me pull up the zipper. They’d say,”Suck it in Mom!” And I would reply, ”I AM sucking it in!” I had a tough time hoisting my self up into the tractor seat and then climbing back down to adjust the blade over and over. But I got the driveway cleared enough that we weren’t snowbound!
After Dale’s 4th trip to Brazil, we learned of a program at the University in Lincoln. They were looking for sustainable farms to take in exchange students for a 10 day period and to show the students how things worked there. The students were all from Brazil! We signed right up. We felt that it was our duty to try to convert these students and we spent a lot of time sharing our faith with them while hoeing weeds and chasing cattle. We all fell in love with the students and they seemed to love us in return.
The last student to stay with us was a perky, sweet, young woman. She was just a delight to be around and made everyone feel like she was so glad they were near her. We all loved her very much. Unfortunately, I felt that my husband was developing an “inappropriate emotional attachment” to her. I had just had baby #10 after three traumatic miscarriages and I was in that exhausted, sleep deprived stage of child bearing. This gal was full of smiles and cheerfulness. A stark contrast to me at the time, I am sure.
A few months after the Brazilian students went back home, my husband felt that God was calling him to go to Brazil to study the language. For 3 months. In the winter. Alone. To the very city where this young beautiful girl lived. I was totally opposed to the idea. In fact, I don’t know if anyone was for it other than my husband. Our church leaders were against it and said so. But Dale held firm that God was sending him there and he would hear nothing else. I asked him to promise me that he would not, under any circumstances, stay at the home of the girl I spoke of before. He refused. I begged, pleaded, prayed and appealed but still he went. I had no say in the matter.
During his absence, I had a wonderful time with my children. We drove out to California, spending our carefully budgeted dollars to visit family and friends. I took the children to the ocean and through the mountains. They had never seen those wonders before. Dale and I kept in touch via email and he told me he was studying language…by watching television. He had seen the girl and met her mother and father but the girl really didn’t want anything to do with him. I was relieved. Dale spent a lot of his time alone in his hotel room for 6 weeks watching game shows and soap operas in order to learn the language.
After this he went to stay on a coconut farm with a friend of a friend. Here he had a revelation that he shared with me when he returned. Normally we would contact eachother almost every day. Two weeks went by and no word from Dale. I was starting to fret and worry. When our missionary friends got an email from me describing my concern, they let Dale know he better write. He did and had no excuse for his lack of communication other than he didn’t want to bother his hosts to take him to town so he could use the cyber cafe.
Finally, after 3 long months, Dale returned. The children and I were very excited to have him come back. My kids devised a plan to greet him at the airport. I would go down as close to the gate as I could so that we could greet eachother privately. Meanwhile, the children would be waiting around the corner to surprise him. I wasn’t so sure that this was a good idea since Dale and I weren’t on the best of terms when he left. But I went along with the kid’s plan. I saw my husband before he saw me. I smiled and approached…alone. When he realized that it was just me, the look of disappointment on his face crushed me. He was not at all happy to see his wife. He gave me a brisk hug and a peck on the lips. I was devastated. When we turned the corner and he saw the kids, his whole face lit up and he was beside himself with joy. Yet I was saddened as never before. The man that I had put on the plane 3 months earlier was not the man I had picked up at the airport. The pain that I would experience at his rejection would be like nothing I had ever experienced before. So began the end of a dream. The end of my marriage, the end of my faith. It all started right then.
More from Laura:
- The Amazing Bosch Universal Mixer
- Three Lilacs and a Statue
- Sing, sing a song….
- When am I supposed to sleep…?
- He Preferred Crest
- Santa vs. Satan
NLQ Recommends …
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce