Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Nellena G. Pool
HELLO there! For some time I have wanted to write you but there are so many sheep crying for help there does not seem to be time for all we should like to do. When I heard that you were pioneering I could not resist telling you how delighted I was to hear you had answered the call and taken another step forward in the greatest and most important activity in the world, advanced ministry praising Jehovah. What joys are before you! Of course, that means you have an eye on Gilead and further service opportunities. Then someday you will be with us in a foreign land singing the praises of the Most High.
Trying to visualize how you must have pondered and meditated to take this step, I am carried back to the time when I did it. May I reminisce with you? It will have to be by proxy, Jehovah’s organization, because now we are so many miles apart. So turn the pages back fifteen years or more. “That long!” do I hear you say? “How did you do it? How do you go on? Truly it does not seem that long. So many wonderful things have happened (not, of course, without the unpleasant and difficult) that it seems such a short time, and to say fifteen years amazes even me.
Can you imagine that there was a time when I did not want to live? Often I spoke to mother of ending my life. My speaking in such a manner must have frightened her; and, mind you, my parents were trying to teach me the truth! In those days I was so timid I would hide from my best friends so I would not have to speak to them. I could not think of anything to say. I went to college. Hurrah for written exams; I passed with high grades. But in oral reviews I failed. Do you know how I eventually overcame that fright that haunted me day and night? It was through the thorough theocratic training given by my parents, along with the service.
My brother, who was very dear and close to me, died in 1934 and within less than a year my mother also died. It all made me think. A few months later, June, 1935, we went to Washington, D.C. I heard that clear explanation on the “other sheep.” That was what I wanted—life in that new earth. With the hundreds of others there I was baptized. But I still was holding back something. The old world almost swallowed me. I was still teaching school but not liking it, and all the time planning another big business venture. It failed. I was so distressed, seeing each day that the old world gave me nothing but heartache.
Meantime, the theocratic activity was becoming more organized, resulting also in improved service on my part. When in 1938 the Seattle convention was announced I couldn’t think of missing it. I knew then what I wanted. When I told my father that I had offered our car to go to the water front so the radio could be used with the sound system to relay the lecture to the many people lingering around the streets there, no wonder tears came to his eyes. He knew it had been announced that those going might be arrested and jailed and he knew I was going ahead in the work he most desired for me.
After feeding at the bounteous table prepared by Jehovah at that convention I came home filled with new determination to serve Him in a course more fitting. There was less time for old-world friends. When I saw them I preached. (Jer. 20:9) Some did not like it too well. We were walking two different paths. My time was taken up with teaching, housekeeping and service. Kingdom service hours mounted up to 40, 60, then 80. Then I knew I needed more time for service and Kingdom interests. There was only one thing to do. I received some money. What wonderful ideas and suggestions came for investments that would have taken time from Jehovah. Matthew 6:33 rang in my ears day and night. Jehovah first! That meant only one thing and that was to leave the old world and be a pioneer. My sister and I received our assignment June 15, 1940.
Did you not feel an inner satisfaction and pleasure when you realized you were going to please Jehovah, serving him more abundantly? So did I. And now when you go to Gilead you will sense it more deeply. And when you later arrive at a foreign land that previous pleasure will be surpassed in a way impossible to describe. You will have to experience it to know it.
Pioneering about that time began to take on a new aspect—back-calls, studies and helping publishers. We tried to improve our ministry, with Jehovah’s help. Our efforts were blessed. Late in 1941 we received an invitation to go out as special pioneers. That meant completely giving up home and leaving Dad all alone. Could we do it? How could we refuse and hold back? (Matt. 10:37; 19:29) We were to go to South Sioux City, Nebraska, about ninety miles from home. When the day came to go my sister had broken her ankle; so she cried because she could not go, and I cried because I had to go alone. I cannot explain how I had the courage to go alone; it was only Jehovah’s spirit, I am sure. Jehovah and I alone know the tears shed during those ninety miles.
There was a group of ten or twelve of us who all started pioneering about the same time. Some of us stayed in the home of a sister whose husband was not in the truth. He presented all the arguments he could think up as we talked of experiences and Bible themes. What a thrill was ours, after leaving a newly formed congregation there and going on to another special assignment, to hear that he had become one of the many Kingdom publishers!
Were you in Cleveland in 1942? Do you remember how they spoke of the need to send ministers to other lands? In our ears we heard ringing Isaiah’s words: ‘Jehovah, here am I; send me.’ We didn’t have to wait long. That year in December we received the application for Gilead. How easy is would have been to say, “No, my father is alone; I must stay with him.” Also, all this time I was suffering terribly with migraine headaches; and that might have been an excellent excuse. Yes, there was much deep meditation and thought, but as was Isaiah’s answer, so was ours. Part of our group was to go into the first class of Gilead, and we were called for the second. We got together for our farewell; thinking, of course, we would never, probably, see one another again until after Armageddon. Sad we were to separate, but rejoicing in the promises of Jehovah.
Came September, 1943, and Gilead. Then, six months later, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to work there as special pioneers until we received a foreign assignment. This was a new kind of territory; slow, hard going at first. Low in spirits, many times we thought of how nice it would be to go home. Then we began to see the increase given by Jehovah. Our work had not been in vain. What a thrill to see a congregation grow from five publishers to forty, then forty-five! And to think we had had a small part in that great work; and now to see some of those pioneering and others at Bethel.
Headaches didn’t leave me; I looked for relief but none came. I did not see how I could go to any foreign land; so I prayed, meditated, and almost withdrew my name from the group. But Jehovah is never far away, and he hears our pleas.
In May, 1946, we received an invitation to work at Cleveland on preconvention tasks. Work! I should say we did, but there I found some relief from those terrible headaches and, too, a good spiritual uplift. So when we were told to make final arrangements to go to Lima, Peru (an assignment we had received a year earlier), I knew I must go.
October 20, 1946—that is more than ten years ago, now. Then I thought I had come to the end of the world and I would never get back home again. Could I go home and refuse to do the work Jehovah had assigned me to do here in faraway Peru? No!
Tears, mental anguish from the struggle with Spanish, homesickness and becoming adjusted to life in a missionary home all these were ours to live through. Happily, to counterbalance the difficulties there were the blessings Jehovah showered upon us, such as new publishers being continually added to the newly formed congregation, increasing attendance at meetings and experiences in the field. Those new brothers and sisters won a very special place in our hearts as they helped us through those first years, even as we helped them. Our family as a group cried together, suffered together, laughed together and together we enjoyed the thrill of a wonderful harvest.
May I tell of what six of us experienced and speak of again and again? In 1950 we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Yankee Stadium assembly, our first time “home” in four years. The publishers were so sad, telling us as we left that we would not come back, that the home ties were too strong. Others had gone home and did not return. We returned 100 percent, and six of us arrived first. Our first reunion was at service meeting. You should have seen the hugs and kisses and tears we got on that return. Now they knew we put Jehovah first.
It is difficult to describe the sensation when you see the land once a desert beginning to ‘blossom as a rose’—with sheep, those you have helped. Yes, to see them coming toward Jehovah’s organization, eagerly desiring to renew their minds for New World living, to become Kingdom preachers, servants at service centers, regular and special pioneers—a beautiful scene! To see assemblies grow from 80 to 1,044, in 1956!
How can you hold back from helping the lady who cries and cries because religion has abandoned her and left her without hope and she does not want to lose faith in God! She speaks of ending her life because she has lost her son, but through study she returns to her native land, leaving behind the remains of her son, and asks that someone please call to continue studying with her.
Can you hold back from helping the young lady who, the moment you enter her house, begins asking questions, and as you are leaving at 11:30 at night presses you to say whether next week you can stay longer, adding, ‘I need your help; I love life and want more of it; I love Jehovah and he loves me but I must know him better to serve him in truth. Help me!’—yes, can you hold back?
Can you hold back from helping the one who was praying to die, as life had dealt so many hard blows he did not even want life mentioned? Then with study see him advance and say, ‘I pinch myself to see whether I am real; I am so happy now.’
During all those twelve years and more that we were away from home Dad faithfully wrote us every week. Then one day a letter came telling us he was dying. It urged us to come home if we wanted to see him. But among the letters was also one he had dictated: ‘Stay where you are! Use the time aiding others and preaching Jehovah’s name and kingdom. Continue faithful to the end, and look for me in the resurrection.’ Two weeks later a cable: ‘Dad is gone.’ How easy it would have been to go home. The most difficult thing was to stay. It was during those days that folks whom we had aided previously came to us, read to us words of comfort from the Bible—consoling counsel that they themselves had but recently learned. You cannot help loving them. It was the reward for staying.
Those are some joys we have lived. We know there are yet many even more wonderful events ahead. Why not be forward-thinking? Why not come down and enjoy them with us?
Would you like to ask, ‘Would I do it all again?’ Pursuing my purpose in life, I certainly would! Why not? What have I lost? Nothing! What better could I have done?
To give all you have for Jehovah pays the greatest of dividends. With all its tears, heartaches, headaches, difficulties, mounting joys, privileges—it is living; yes, living through this time of the end. It is not easy; but is life easy today?
Go to Gilead; do not be afraid you will fail, and go back. Keep the right spirit always, sticking close to Jehovah and his organization, and GIVE! You will find so very true what Solomon wrote: “Cast your bread upon the surface of the water, for after many days you will find it.”—Eccl. 11:1, AT.