Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Julia Clogston
SO YOU have time to listen to some of my experiences as a full-time minister!
In 1938 I symbolized my dedication by water baptism during the convention at Seattle, Washington. Our congregation in Tulelake, California, grew in a few months from one publisher to five, and most of us attended the “Government and Peace” convention in Portland, Oregon. After reading a letter in The Watchtower for July, 1938, sent by Brother Rutherford to an Australian boy about accepting pioneer privileges, I decided to pursue my purpose in life by becoming a pioneer.
My first outstanding experience was in Dunsmuir, California. I unknowingly called at the home of the Roman Catholic priest and witnessed to his housekeeper. A few minutes later a tall policeman stood beside me, listening as I witnessed to a housewife. He explained that since he had heard me try to sell the woman a book he now was the complainant and I was under arrest. At the trial the judge sentenced me to a heavy fine or thirty days in prison. The zone servant followed the policeman who had arrested me, and he explained that we would not pay the fine; so it looked like it would be thirty days for me! But a property owner of good will came to my rescue. He signed a bond for me and I enjoyed beans and corn bread with the other pioneers that night even more than usual. Feeling Jehovah’s protective shadow over me increased my happiness and determination to continue pursuing my purpose in life.
In 1940 several other pioneers and I worked our way to the Detroit convention, witnessing in the principal cities during the six-week trip from California. In 1941 did you attend the St. Louis convention? Thanks to the generosity of some good-hearted folks, I did, never in my life having enjoyed more a few days. It was the first time I had volunteered for service at a convention. I was thrilled to discover how much more I enjoyed all the instruction when I realized that I had some small part in the tremendous amount of work necessary to care for so many people.
Returning from St. Louis to California, I next started working there in the Imperial Valley. A fifteen-year-old pioneer girl and I lived in a tiny house in Calipatria. Twice a week we hitchhiked forty miles to meetings in El Centro, sometimes taking our good-will students with us. One family of eight adults learned the truth and in a few months six became pioneers.
When my special pioneer assignment came I was in Brawley, California, and was directed to proceed immediately to Whittier. Early the following morning, with all my belongings packed into a weekend case, I started hitchhiking. Late that night when I reached the other special pioneers in Whittier, at their trailer door, they warmly welcomed me and we began a lifelong friendship.
In December of 1942 I moved on to Boulder City, Nevada, on a special assignment, arriving there alone but in high spirits. The other girl who had been assigned with me had not arrived. It was trouble territory, so I went to the police station first and asked whether they had received the letter from J. Edgar Hoover of the Department of Justice, asking that Jehovah’s witnesses be protected in their work. Then I started door-to-door witnessing with my copy of The New World, explaining that I could bring them a book like it when my supply of books came. As I worked a ranger followed me in his car. I hoped it was to protect me, but I was not sure. But that evening, as I stood in front of the theater with magazines, placing many, the police went right by me into the theater without even noticing me. I was really grateful to Jehovah at the close of that day of service.
On a clear winter evening when I returned from a back-call on a Mormon bishop, I received the long envelope containing the application to attend the first class of a new school the Society was starting for preparing missionaries to be sent to foreign fields. After prayerfully considering it I filled out that application that night and sent it back. The remainder of that month was filled with excitement. My partner came with her car and trailer. Then when I had about given up the secret hope that I cherished of going to Gilead, there came a letter accepting my application, with a check for my fare to New York.
With ten days of travel, visiting friends in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and my mother in Oregon, I arrived in Ithaca, New York, and from there went on to Gilead. The next five months were a delightful experience without a single shadow. We read and studied the entire Bible and had much training in theocratic ministry for the first time. Many fine friendships also were begun that we are still enjoying.
Some of us expected to proceed immediately to our foreign assignment in Mexico, but the Mexican government delayed the visas for many of our group for nearly three years. Finally all of them came through but mine. The night the last four left I experienced a kind of sadness I never had known. Morning came and I moved on to organize my work so as to take care of the best of the studies the other girls had left, along with my own. As a result of our combined labors many persons of good will came into the truth that summer. It is a deep satisfaction to see them at the international conventions, with their families and the little ones who have grown up with theirs. One of the girls attended Gilead School.
At last came my visa to go to Mexico! There, during ensuing months, the dream of preaching to those bright-eyed, friendly people became a grand reality. Then came more special pioneering in Houston, Texas, followed in the fall of 1948 by my assignment to El Salvador and with it another delightful surprise. I was to go to New York to sail. While in New York, my new partner, Sister Bowin (who also had worked in Mexico), and I spent a week at Bethel, helping some in the home and factory, and I also visited Gilead and radio station WBBR on Staten Island.
At sea we found interest in the Kingdom message among the officers and our fellow passengers. Guatemala and El Salvador we crossed by land, seeing much of the country that was to be our home. Our room was waiting for us in the city of San Salvador. Here during our first three years a local radio station gave us an hour a week without charge; so we broadcast the contents of the books “Let God Be True” and “This Means Everlasting Life” in Spanish, also many Watchtower articles. Soon we had learned much about tropical living; but above all, we learned that our work is more that of teaching persons of good will to be mature witnesses than to place large quantities of literature. To see at meetings the happy faces of firm witnesses whom one has helped to learn the truth is indeed a great reward, ever stirring me to keep on pursuing my purpose in life.