Pursuing My Purpose in Life
As told by Maxine Miller García
THE life of a Christian is well marked by milestones—markers of progress to maturity and occasions of special joy—all of which give assurance of Jehovah’s approval. One of these milestones in my life was a special meeting of Gilead graduates arranged by the president of the Watch Tower Society, our dear Brother Knorr, at the unforgettable international assembly in New York city in the summer of 1958. I was one of the more than thirty graduates present from the first class of Gilead. How did I come to be among them? Listen to my story.
My parents were dedicated Christians when I was born. Being conscious of their God-given responsibilities, they set themselves to train the four of us children to be praisers of Almighty God, whose name is Jehovah. They did a thorough job, and one by one, as we understood what it meant, we dedicated our lives to Jehovah. Having shared in publishing the good news since I was six years old, I was baptized at the age of fourteen, and at once the goal toward which I began to look was full-time Kingdom preaching. All through my high school years my sister and I planned for pioneer service.
GETTING THE RIGHT VIEW OF PIONEERING
We wondered how we could make enough money to get into the pioneer work, since we both had the view that a car and a trailer were necessary in order to pioneer. In 1938 it was impressed on us that the way to become pioneers is not by earning money. That year the zone servant and his wife visited our congregation, and, learning of our desire to pioneer, they took us on a visit to Albany, Oregon, with them and helped us to make arrangements to pioneer with a sister who had just started to pioneer and wanted someone with whom to work. She and her husband had their trailer parked on the farm of an elderly sister, and there was room for us there. Seeing the way open, we immediately sent in our pioneer applications. As soon as the reply came from the Society we were on our way to Albany to start work.
Could we make a go of it? Yes, by putting our ministry first. We never lacked the food we needed. We traded literature for more than enough home-canned fruit and vegetables. We also traded for eggs and milk bottles, which we exchanged with the grocer. We were very grateful to Jehovah that he had shown us we could serve him as pioneers without first saving up a lot of money to rely on; instead, we have learned to rely on Him.
We had a wonderful time working Albany, Corvallis and the rurals up in the mountains. Late into the evenings we played the series of recorded Bible speeches and conducted Bible studies with the aid of the Model Study booklet in the homes of many persons of good will. It is a great joy to know that some of those people are now faithful publishers and others are full-time preachers.
STRENGTHENED BY TRIALS OF FAITH
Joyful experiences, coupled with trials and tests, stimulated our determination to continue. The summer of 1939, my mother, brother, sister and I spent pioneering in Idaho just west of Yellowstone Park. We found several isolated persons who were happy to come in contact with Jehovah’s witnesses again. The following winter—a severe once—we were in Logan, Utah, where my mother had been a colporteur twenty years before. It was not difficult to place Bible literature with the Mormon people and to start studies, but they were more interested in converting us than in ‘letting God be true’ by listening to His Word. Few had the courage to take their stand for the truth. One elderly German brother was a great encouragement to us though. He had learned the truth alone by studying the Society’s publications, and although his family and his neighbors turned against him, he left the Mormon church after forty years of membership. Every Sunday evening we walked up the steep snow-covered hill to have supper with him, share with him our field experiences, and have the Watchtower study—just the five of us.
The next two years I served in Arizona, along with the same sister with whom I had started pioneering. Some days, when we did not have enough money for gasoline, we walked over the hot hills and down the dry canyons around Globe, Arizona, carrying our recorded Bible talks, phonographs and books. Results from our work were evident among the Mexican people. With the Spanish records and a few memorized phrases in Spanish, we managed to present the message to them. Then we conducted studies by using the books in both Spanish and English together. Soon some joined us in the house-to-house service and helped us in speaking their language.
We were still in Globe when the persecution became severe. The newspaper and radio announced that one man and two women, Jehovah’s witnesses, had been arrested in Texas on the (false) charge of being Nazi spies. That very day we were picked up by the police for questioning, but were soon set free when they saw that we were doing nothing wrong. From then on we were constantly chased by mobs. We could work only a few houses in a section and then had to drive several miles to another section in order to stay ahead of the mobsters, yet the idea of being caught by a mob did not frighten us. We were concerned only with being faithful to Jehovah no matter what happened. That summer thirty of us pioneers worked all the “trouble” towns in Arizona for six weeks, moving every day or two, sleeping with our trailers hitched to the cars so we could move out if there was any trouble during the night. In places where there had been mobbings or other severe opposition we quietly made midnight visits to the homes to leave packages of booklets on the doorsteps for the people to read.
Late in 1941 our family was reunited in Roseburg, Oregon, for a short time; then my sister and I were assigned, along with five other sisters, as special pioneers in San Leandro, California. Living with a group this size provided good experience for us in learning to get along together. More experience was to come later.
PREPARATION FOR FOREIGN MISSIONARY WORK
At an assembly in Cleveland, Ohio, in the fall of 1942 an announcement that new fields would be opened up by missionaries in the near future turned our attention to foreign lands. Only a few weeks later invitations arrived for my sister and me and one of our companions to be in the very first missionary class at Gilead School, to commence on February 1, 1943. We did not ask anyone’s advice about whether we should go or not. Had we not made a dedication to serve Jehovah and to do his will? Yes. And would we agree to go anywhere in the world to share in the preaching work? Of course! We wanted to serve Jehovah where he directed through his organization. Our health? Five years of constant outdoor activity had kept us in good condition physically. We were anxious to go.
At the beginning of the school term Brother Knorr told us that our five months at Gilead would be happy, always-to-be-remembered ones with plenty of hard work. He was right on both counts. They were happy, very much so. And they were busy. Sometimes it seemed impossible to grasp and retain all the information we received, but we realized that it was Jehovah’s provision and we benefited greatly from it.
At graduation in June we received our assignments, which were first to Cuba and later changed to Mexico. We were thrilled at the prospect. While waiting to leave for our assignments we were sent to Brooklyn, and I am so glad that we were. It was there in Brooklyn that I made a back-call on a woman who had earlier taken three of our books. She was not interested in the books, but her twelve-year-old daughter was. She had read the books and asked very intelligent questions. Reactions came fast. When, after a few studies, she and her young brother became active publishers of the Kingdom message, their mother turned on them and drove them out of the house. The rest of their childhood was spent in orphanages and the homes of other people, but never did they lose sight of their service to Jehovah. Both of them are still in Jehovah’s service, and the girl is now in South America with her husband and four children, serving Jehovah where the need for Kingdom witnesses is particularly great.
After the Minneapolis, Minnesota, convention in July we were sent to San Antonio, Texas, to work among the Spanish-speaking people until we could go on to Mexico. The Mexican people there in Texas were very kind and patient with us as we tried to learn their language. At times we had as many as twenty-five studies a week. Many of them began preaching with us while we were still there and others started out after we had left. It gives us a special thrill to see them still faithful when we visit them or when they visit Mexico for an assembly.
ON TO MEXICO!
At last, in June, 1946, visas in hand, we moved on to our assignment in Mexico, traveling by car. The last of the journey was through many miles of flat country, then up over a hill, and there before us was Mexico City, a very modern-looking metropolis. In a few minutes we were at the Watch Tower Society’s Mexican branch, met members of the Bethel family and greeted those of our Gilead classmates who had arrived a year before us. Well, here we were, and when could we go to work? First it was necessary to take care of the required registration with the government, and that took about two weeks.
In the meantime the others there initiated us into the Mexican way of life. Everything seemed strange at first, but soon it became natural and now this is home.
When we arrived here there were only four congregations in the city; now, with Jehovah’s blessing on the work of all his servants here, that has grown to seventy congregations in Mexico City. Preaching to these people is a pleasure; they are friendly and courteous and it is easy to start home Bible studies. Some, we found, were interested only in having North American friends, but many others are now members of the New World society.
Not all the joys have come from experiences in helping new ones to enter the New World society. Many joys are found in working along with those already in the organization. What mutual upbuilding there has been as we have worked along with the weak ones in the service centers and watched them grow strong! What a pleasure to see those we have helped, start out in vacation pioneer service and then make a career of the regular pioneer ministry! All these things have made me appreciate my assignment as a very precious trust from Jehovah, one that I want to hold onto always.
On June 15, 1949, when I married Samuel García, a Mexican native and the legal representative of the Society here, I got a life partner who shares that desire. Both Sammy and I want to continue serving Jehovah full time, and we now enjoy doing it as members of the Mexican Bethel family, working in the office.
Do I make it sound as if life as a full-time preacher is all joys and nothing else? No, that is not true. There are trying moments and difficult experiences too, but the joys far outweigh the sorrows and it is these joys that stand out when I look back on the way that I have gone in the pursuit of my purpose in life as a servant of Jehovah God. Oh, I recall how hard it was not to be at the 1946 convention in Cleveland, because it was held right after I had arrived in Mexico; I even cried over it at the time. But in a few days we began to receive letters and news clippings from many who remembered us, and our tears were turned to joy. It was also hard on me when my father died and I was not there, and when my sister, who was then in the States, died of cancer. It would have been easier to give up and go back to the States to be with mother, but she is doing well and is very happy that I am staying with my assignment, and it is here that I have found the richest blessings.
How full is the life of one who had made the service of Jehovah his purpose in life! The turning point is dedication, and all the milestones that follow are joys that result from living up to that vow to God. In my life, conventions have been outstanding among those joys, particularly the one in 1958 when so many of us who had graduated from Gilead were able to be together. Added privileges of service, new assignments, newly interested ones I have helped and other faithful Witnesses with whom I have served have all contributed to the happiness I have enjoyed. Oh, the blessings that are the portion of those who make their purpose in life the doing of Jehovah’s will!