A Most Satisfying Profession
As told by Kathe B. Palm
FOR more than thirty years it has been my great joy to have devoted all my time to the profession that was chosen by the apostle Paul—preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. They have been very satisfying years because I was giving of myself to help others rather than wasting my life in a selfish pursuit of materialism.
The choosing of my profession as a pioneer, one who preaches the good news of God’s kingdom as his chief occupation, began in 1931. That year Jehovah’s dedicated servants held a grand assembly in Columbus, Ohio. It was especially thrilling for me, as it was my very first assembly. For several years prior to it I had been growing in knowledge of God’s purposes with the help of publications printed by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and group studies. So this first assembly with God’s people was a great thrill for me. It was during this assembly that it was revealed that his people had been given a new name—Jehovah’s witnesses. When I awoke the morning after this was made known, I made up my mind to dedicate my life to the only true God, Jehovah, and to work as shown in Matthew 6:33, “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.”
After I was baptized, I turned in my application for pioneer service to the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn. From that year, 1931, when I began the blessed profession of pioneering, more than thirty years of continuous blessings have passed. I could not have found any other work that could have brought me as much contentment or could have been so spiritually rewarding. I am humbly thankful to Jehovah for all the privileges of service he has given me during these years.
After I had proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom for a few months in New York City, I was invited by a friend to visit Dorchester County in Maryland and preach the good news there. While there, I received an invitation from the Society to go to South Dakota. Would I be interested in working there with a partner who had a horse-drawn house trailer? Yes! Of course I was interested, and I was free to go. When I arrived in Sioux City, Iowa, where my partner lived, I found the “prairie schooner,” as we called it, almost ready to go. My partner’s husband was not well and could not come. Today we would say that she was a vacation pioneer because our trip was for just the summer months.
Because the farmers in South Dakota were very poor at that time due to several years of drought and a grasshopper plague, they were in need of the comforting truths about God’s kingdom. We were happy to bring them those truths. In exchange for the Bible-study aids we left with them, they gave us food as well as fodder for our horse. When summer ended and my partner had to return to her domestic duties, I carried on alone, using a saddle horse that I obtained from a farm family of Witnesses in exchange for the horse that had pulled the “prairie schooner.”
When I learned that an assembly would be held in Los Angeles in 1934, I was most anxious to go. My only means for getting there was hitchhiking. Without ever having to put my thumb out to indicate that I wanted a ride, cars would stop and take me for several hundred miles at a time. By this means I reached Los Angeles, and during the course of the trip I was able to speak with the many car drivers about the comforting truths of God’s Word. It was during this assembly that a letter was sent to Hitler protesting his mistreatment of Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany. After a glorious week in Los Angeles with loving brothers, I returned to South Dakota in the same manner I came. Upon finishing my missionary work there, I received an invitation to help with the work in Colombia, South America.
SERVING IN SOUTH AMERICA
As soon as I got off the boat in Colombia, I went to work, using a card that had a printed sermon in Spanish, called a Testimony Card. Two months later I met Hilma Sjoberg in Cali, Colombia. She was the one who had written the Society for help and had paid for my passage to South America. Together we preached in Cali and then went on to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. At the end of a year it was necessary for her to return to the United States, but, before going, she suggested that I go to Chile, where, during her travels, she had met a German friend. A letter to this friend was answered by an invitation to come and help spread the good news in Santiago.
It was in 1936 that I left Buenaventura, Colombia, and headed for Valparaiso, Chile, by means of a Chilean freighter. Brother Traub and his wife met me at the boat and showed me hospitality that has not diminished to this day. In that year there were only about fifty Witnesses in all of Chile. Can you imagine my joy to have seen these grow in number to more than 3,100 in 1963 and to realize that I had a part in helping to achieve this growth? I would not have had this heartwarming experience if I had not made pioneering my profession.
In those days our missionary work consisted of placing Bible literature with the people. Brother Traub thought it would be best for me to try to visit as many provinces in Chile as possible. So I worked from Chile’s northernmost town, Arica, to its southernmost possession, Tierra del Fuego. I took the good news to sulphur camps in the high Andes mountains, to nitrate camps in the Pampa of Tocopilla, Iquique and Antofagasta, to silver mines and to the great sheep ranches.
High on the slopes of Calbuco, an inactive volcano, there are immense redwood trees that are cut down by some poor families that live on the mountain slope and fashioned into roof shingles. They were surprised to see me and could not understand what had brought me away up there. They were overjoyed to hear the Kingdom message. They kept me up by their campfire until late at night as I read and explained the Bible to them. This was the first time they had seen a copy of God’s written Word.
Because the distance from one estancia or farm to another was a very long walk, I would wait for a ride on a passing truck. On these estancias there would be from 200 to 300 men working, providing fine opportunities to talk about God’s purposes and to leave Bible literature.
While in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost part of South America, I went throughout the entire province. I even went to the Chorrillos where gold washers lived. They worked here washing gold while their families lived in Porvenir, the last town before the South Pole. They were surprised to see a lone woman away out there. When they learned why I was there, they got some five or six neighbors together in one hut to hear the good news I had to tell them. I left Bible helps with them, drank some of their maté and returned to town before nightfall. After working in this province, I returned to the north of Chile and finally began a new type of work in Santiago.
Following a visit to Chile in 1945 by the Society’s president and vice-president, N. H. Knorr and F. W. Franz, home Bible studies began to be held in Chile with interested persons. This was something new, very different from merely distributing Bible literature as I had been doing. How I trembled when I went to start my first home Bible study! But I soon realized that this was the best way to help an interested person become an active part of Jehovah’s organization. Assembly after assembly has brought me profound joy to see the person with whom I had my first Bible study zealously serving Jehovah. Using this new method, I began working the southern part of Santiago. Within a few months we had a new congregation established, the third in Santiago at that time.
Fourteen years passed while I worked in Santiago and in other assignments about 100 kilometers from there. Then the Society sent me to Valparaiso to take the good news of the Kingdom to the ships that come into that port. Like so many other places where I have been privileged to carry the good news of the Kingdom, this assignment has its joys, for many of the men I speak with on the ships never have heard the good news.
When I look back on the more than thirty years I have spent at my beloved profession, I feel that I have had a very rich life. Each year when I attend an assembly of Jehovah’s people, I get a warm, satisfied feeling as I see so many persons with whom I have had Bible studies publishing the good news, helping others to come to the water of life. I invited them to drink of the waters of truth, and now they are inviting others.—Rev. 22:17.
The year 1961 was an especially happy year for me. That was when I was helped by the Society to attend the United Worshipers District Assembly in Hamburg, Germany. Since 1935 I had not attended any of the big international assemblies. So it was a thrilling experience to be able to be among the more than 88,000 persons who were on the “Festwiese” (Lawn of Celebration) in the beautiful park of my hometown. What a blessed experience it was to be there once again and to see many old friends who are still preaching the good news of the Kingdom despite broken health from having been in the horrible Nazi concentration camps of Hitler’s days. Words fail me to express what an uplifting and rewarding experience this great assembly was for me.
As I continue working at my chosen profession in beautiful Chile, I give thanks to our great God, Jehovah, for all his loving-kindness. I am deeply grateful to him for the many privileges of service he has given me over the years. Like David, I am moved to say: “Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my own lips will commend you. Thus I shall bless you during my lifetime.”—Ps. 63:3, 4.