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Former Huron pastor travels to South America for missions

Posted: Monday, Oct 8th, 2012

The Rev. Ed Purcell is former minister of the now closed Huron Wesleyan Church now serving in Olathe, Kan. His wife, Doris, wrote the following story of their recent missions trip to Pelgrim Kondre, Suriname, South America.

I married an MK (missionary’s kid) many years ago. I had the excitement and fascination of a child as I would hear the stories of snakes hanging from the thatch, jaguars roaring in the night in the doorway of the thatch building where the missionaries’ hammocks hung, and bathing in the river with the Caymans.

My heart was touched by the pictures of my mother-in-law cleansing the putrefying sores infected by the witch doctor’s “magic” potion, and the smiles on the faces of young men and women receiving the first clothes they had ever worn, which had been sent by “missionary societies” from the USA. I was proud just to know someone who had cleared the jungle, improvised an improved water supply and braved sleeping in the “dea dea houso” (death house) which was a hut where dead bodies were kept until such time that ample body fluids were available to perform their native rituals. I was just proud to know someone who spent many hours traveling back and forth by a small boat to get supplies, so closely escaped death from the bite of a “bush master” snake and delivered babies with God being the tutor.

My in-laws’ mission was to start a school for the people of the Suriname villages, who had never seen a white person before. My husband’s best childhood friend, Alontu, was a boy from that school. He died few years ago, and because of my in-laws’ commitment, he is now in heaven. I have been privileged to hear testimonies of several who attended that school and now hold very good positions both in Suriname and the United States.

However, I was completely satisfied to be proud of my missionary family, and felt that my aging mother-in-law was a little out of touch when she related these stories to my children and grandchildren, then concluded by saying, “Oh, those were the best days of my life.”

Then my husband felt a burden to lead a mission trip back to Pelgrim Kondre, Suriname, South America. I could think of a dozen excuses why I wouldn’t be able to go with him, but he had two dozen reasons why I should go. Slowly all my excuses evaporated, so I began to pray that God would help my attitude. As I prepared for the trip, I realized one day that I was looking forward to it. My health isn’t as good as it once was, so I started praying for strength to be able to participate in the painting project that was the primary purpose of our trip. I asked everyone that knew how to pray, to pray for me to have strength. I didn’t want to spend the money and time to make the trip and not be able to do my share of the work. We had planned the trip for 12 people, then slowly the group dwindled to a team of five – not nearly enough for the job that needed to be done in the time that was allotted to do it.

We arrived in Paramaribo about midnight Suriname time on Aug. 3, and were taken to Pelgrim Kondre on Saturday. We met the people there and enjoyed God’s presence in their Sunday services. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand their praise. We saw and felt God in them. Plans were made to start the painting project Monday morning. I told my husband when we went to bed that night that I was afraid that I had “bitten off more than I could chew.” I don’t ever remember feeling so tired, and the bed didn’t really feel anything like mine at home.

When we arrived at the school Monday morning, God did an amazing work in my body. I painted and cleaned for eight hours every day and wasn’t ready to leave at quitting time. My heart was stirred as I visited with the school principal and felt her compassion for the children. I was filled with joy as I watched the children work and realized their excitement for learning, and the dreams they have for their future. But my heart also was burdened as I painted and cleaned. I saw that the children have very, very little to work with. I didn’t see any crayons, scissors, pens, books, notebooks, etc. There weren’t any bulletin boards for the teachers to use. I ask the principal about it, and she said that if she asks the government for 10 books, she may get two (in which case they make copies). The children are too poor to buy supplies, and there isn’t any money for the school to buy them either. Now I, too, have left my heart in Pelgrim Kondre with the children, teachers and principal.

My husband kept busy leading seminars during the week and preaching on Sundays. He led such a seminar on Wednesday evening, in the town of Albina, which is on the border of Suriname and French Guiana. There was a lady present with an infant child who requested that my husband pray for her and her baby at the close of the meeting. The church’s pastor indicated that she had come for the last two weeks seeking help to forsake the “witchcraft” tradition that she had long been a part of. After prayer for the infant, my husband prayed for the lady along with the pastor – one in English and one in Sranan Tongo – and all of a sudden the woman was delivered. The pastor has emailed since we arrived back in the United States of her complete deliverance. To God be the glory!

The couple is working on the details to possibly return after the first of the year for three months to work in the Bible school to help train the pastors who need to be ordained and to work at Pelgrim Kondre to helping with gardening. They are working through Global Partners, the missionary arm of the Wesleyan Church.

For the complete article see the 10-07-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-07-2012 paper.

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