'EXTRA PETROL COUPONS? For what purpose? The official enquired coldly.
'We want to go to the Mazahua tribe in Mexico to make recordings for them,' replied Joy rather lamely. The official was unusually frigid, and she began to wonder if it would be quite as simple a matter as she had anticipated to obtain those coupons.
'And what is the purpose of these recordings?' The voice was sharp and impersonal. When she explained as briefly as she could that they were to give the Gospel to the Mazahua in their own tongue, the official's attitude became glacier-like.
'I suppose you are aware that the country is at war?' he said contemptuously. 'That the requirements of our forces must take precedence over purely personal and unnecessary journeys such as you outline? No, I cannot authorize the issue of petrol coupons to you.' Then he had an afterthought.
'What allocation of petrol is your organization receiving?' She told him. 'Too much! Far too much for such an organization. It will have to be reduced. Good-day, Miss Ridderhof . . .'
Joy emerged from the Petrol Office feeling thoroughly dispirited. This was the worst setback she had received since the Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mexico had approached her, expressing their desire that something should be done for the Mazahua tribe. 'It is so scattered, and it seems that the only way to reach it with the Gospel is by means of your records. If we brought some of these tribes people to Los Angeles, would you be willing to make records in their tongue also?'
Of course she had said yes. The little studio in the back garden at Witmer Street was in full working order, and she and Ann were mastering the techniques of recording. Already they had recorded programmes in several other languages with the cooperation of foreign students and missionaries. So with bi-lingual interpreters prepared to come from Mexico she had no hesitation in responding to the W.B.T. request.
Then had come the first setback. The historical Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour had already brought the U.S.A. into the Second World War, and restrictions were tightening. When application was made to bring two or three Mazahua tribesmen from Mexico to Los Angeles, permission was refused.
'Rejoice!' said Joy. 'It's all right. God must have a purpose in it.' The challenge to her faith was crystallising into a conviction that the refusal was part of God's plan. An impression that there was a wider work for Gospel Recordings had deepened in her mind in the past few months. There had been the unexpected gift of a portable disc recorder, for instance. Surely a portable machine had not been intended to remain in the studio? In the apparent setback she saw God's finger pointing in a new direction. 'If the Mazahua mayn't come to us' she said 'then we will go to them.'
'We will go to them.' The call of the small tribes, the scattered, isolated groups of primitive people shrinking away from the march of civilization into the backwoods and the deserts and the jungles had reached her. She had no idea at that time how almost innumerable they were, or to what lengths she herself would be impelled to go to find them. She was conscious, however, that beyond the Mazahua were even more inaccessible little clans and no voice would tell them in the only tongue they could understand that God loved them - unless she and her colleagues did something about it.
So she had talked it over with Ann and Virginia and the voluntary workers who came along to help, and they had all agreed she and Ann must go to Mexico. It meant leaving a heavy load of work to the others, and more than that, a new responsibility. For the house next door had fallen vacant, and Gospel Recordings was negotiating to buy it. A heavy mortgage was involved, and in faith that God would provide the money they were undertaking to pay it all off in a year. However, the immediate needs connected with the journey into Mexico loomed even larger, for it was necessary to take the recording equipment with them, and as the portable disc recorder alone weighed nearly a hundred pounds it was obvious that a large saloon car would be needed. They hadn't got one, nor the money to buy one, either. But they were confident they were moving ahead with their plans and preparations under Divine compulsion, and that a vehicle would materialise in time for them to set off on the day appointed. To obtain the necessary coupons for an extra petrol allocation for the journey had seemed a very insignificant matter, since reasonable requests were not refused, and Joy had anticipated no difficulty when she walked into the office that day. The unexpected and icy rejection of her application took her by surprise, and filled her with dismay.
The occasions when she was caught off guard and gave way to discouragement were very few, but this was one of them. She returned to Witmer Street and mounted the steps up to the house rather heavily, hoping she would meet no one. She wanted to get to her room, so that she could think and pray alone. She must regain her spiritual equilibrium, pray through, with fasting if necessary. What had gone wrong? There were only three days to go to the date fixed for the departure to Mexico. People there were expecting them, all arrangements had been made, the recording equipment was in order. It would all be useless unless the necessary transport were forthcoming and now, even if a car miraculously arrived at the doorstep they couldn't go, simply because they had not got the necessary petrol coupons.
She knelt by her bed, prepared to spend the rest of the day, and even the night too, in prayer, seeking to find out the reason why those coupons were not given. Had they made some mistake in their plans? Were they running ahead of God?
A tap came on the door, and almost before Joy could scramble to her feet Ann walked in.
'Get ready for a shock, Joy,' she said. 'I've got something to tell you. But you'd better sit down first.' Joy obeyed.
'We've got a station wagon,' said Ann, her face aglow. 'Loaned to us for as long as we need it. A Pontiac.'
Joy gasped. 'Who's lending it to us?'
Ann mentioned the name of her doctor, an old family friend. She had gone to him for a medical check-up, and after assuring her she was quite fit to undertake journeys of several months in Mexico he asked how she planned to go there. They planned to go by car, she answered, but admitted they hadn't got the car yet.
The doctor had acted quickly. A few days before he had seen an advertisement of a Pontiac station wagon for sale. 'I expect it'll be gone by now,' he said, but put through a phone call all the same. It was still for sale! The outcome was that it was brought over to the doctor's house, and he paid for it on the spot. The owner had arranged to go to Mexico in it, but his plans had been changed, and now he was going by plane instead.
'So now it's ours for as long as we need it!' concluded Ann triumphantly. 'My doctor says he won't want to use it for months yet, so we can borrow it!'
'Isn't that wonderful!' said Joy, not quite so whole-heartedly as usual. 'But Ann . . . I couldn't get the petrol coupons. The man at the Petrol Office wouldn't give them to me. And without them . . .'
'Oh, the owner had already got his petrol coupons for the journey, so he offered them with the car,' replied Ann. 'We've got everything we need - the car and sufficient coupons to take us right through to Mexico.'
So that was why the visit to the Petrol Office had proved unproductive! God had made the provision in His own way, and the manner of it was a further lesson to them to be prepared for the unexpected. The way of life into which they were stepping would follow no clearly defined paths nor fall into any regular pattern. It required not so much shrewd foresight as a close walk with their Guide, and a faith that would sing even when things seemed to go wrong. The duet of trial and triumph to which Joy had referred in her days in Marcala was to accompany her all her life, and since she knew that God's testings are for the purpose, not of causing us to fall but of making us strong, she could accept them cheerfully. The more acute the trial, the more rapturous the triumph.
They set out in high spirits on this their first journey abroad to make recordings, cruising along the great Pan American Highway, twisting, climbing over mountains and through deserts to Mexico City. Their enthusiasm was subdued after several days of scouring the narrow crowded streets looking for a studio to rent, but it soared again when Joy suddenly remembered the name of a man whose brother had told her that if ever she were in Mexico City she ought to look him up. He was very interested in recording.
She traced him in the telephone directory, made the necessary explanations when she got him on the phone, and then asked if he knew of a studio they could rent.
'Why, sure! I've got a room I only use one day a week. You're welcome to use it any other time you like. Rent? Aw, nothing! It's there, and I'm not using it - glad for you to have it.'
They gasped when they saw the place. It was the most sumptuously furnished studio they had ever worked in, with heavy curtains and thick pile carpets hushing every sound from the tumultuous streets outside. Into it came the Wycliffe Bible Translators bringing bare-footed, primitive Indians, with Joy and Ann crouching hour after hour over the machine, alert and tense to capture those Indian voices. The missionaries had translated the scripts into the Mazahua language, and as the Indians read them the machine went into action, catching each sound as it fell from the lips of the strangers whose language the two recordists could neither understand nor speak. But the Indians understood. Comprehension revealed itself on their face combined with incredulity as they listened to the whole programme being played back to them, heard themselves telling of the God in Heaven who had made all things, and who loved them, whose Son had died for them. There in the studio the key was being fitted into the lock that would eventually open the door of faith to these people. The master records were made and carefully stored, ready for the time when they could be taken back to Los Angeles and used to press tens, hundreds, thousands of the little discs that were eventually to find their way back into the hearts of the tribal villages where the words would be heard in voices that all could understand. And the number of languages mounted slowly up, one, two, three, ten, twenty, thirty. Joy and Ann were in Mexico for months, and by the time they were getting ready to leave they had master records in thirty-three languages, twenty-five of them in tribal languages into which no part of the Scriptures had yet been produced.
Before they returned to Los Angeles, however, there was one thing Joy must do. She must fulfil the promise she had made to the people of Marcala that she would return.
It was the highlight of that year of 1944 for her when once more she was astride a little mule, going clippity-clop, clippity-clop up the path that led to Marcala. Before she could get inside she was met by a crowd of welcoming people, and her body seemed too small to hold the excitement and the joy and the love with which she saw them. There they were, smiling and laughing and crying at once, and the eight years of separation were swallowed up and forgotten as she went from one to another, eagerly embracing the women in that traditional way she had learned so easily, laughingly refraining from embracing the men as well, so glad, so very glad, to be with them all again. Tears sprang to their eyes and to hers too, as they talked, and sang together, and went into the little chapel to give thanks to God. They knew she could not remain with them, of course. She told them of the new horizons opening up through the use of the gramophone records, and how it was her love for them, the people of Marcala, that had first inspired her to produce them. Now she must return to this task which God had committed to her. They understood, and they let her go, though not without tears. As for Joy, she rode away but with an invisible cord that seemed to tug at her heart, uniting her forever with those people of Marcala.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles itself, jubilant preparations were being made for the return of Joy and Ann. No matter how much work there was to be done, it must all stop for three days, to give adequate time for the double celebration - the return of the two travellers from Mexico, and the official house-warming of 124 Witmer Street, head-quarters of Gospel Recordings! For the mortgage had all been paid off, and that within nine months, although no appeal for financial help had been made in any direction whatever. The money had just come, in small sums and large sums, sometimes from friends, sometimes from almost complete strangers. With what pride were visitors shown round the six-roomed house, what stories were told of the way furniture had been provided, and curtains, and kitchen-ware! What reports there were to give of the way the work had gone ahead, too.
Spanish recordings were being used over long wave radio in Latin America.
Records sent out to mission fields had risen to nearly twenty thousand.
Best of all, letters were produced and read telling of people hearing the Gospel for the very first time over the gramophone, and of many, here and there, coming to faith in Christ.
Reports from Joy and Ann were even more thrilling, because they had the smack of danger and adventure about them. There had been journeys off the beaten track, to villages where they were asked to preach (by interpretation) and were amazed at the response.
'Our hearts were touched by the way they hungrily grasped at every truth presented and gladly yielded themselves to the Saviour. "You must forgive us," they said, "for not knowing these things, but it is as though we were blind . . . But just give us time. We will learn if you will only help us."
'The Wycliffe translators generously took us into their own home, and were prepared to bring in their workers from the tribes, Christian tribespeople with them, each ready to make records in his own tongue. Ten-year-old Tino talked so softly we had to put cotton in his ears to raise his voice so the microphone could pick it up! But Tino, with one of the consecrated Wycliffe translators, was able to make a set of six double Gospel records in the language of his tribe, the Mazateco...' The stories seemed endless, and the journeyings, too, as it must have seemed on the occasion when they were held up by violent storms for twenty-three days in a little border town.
'But God had a purpose in it and gave us souls again as we worked with the three little local evangelical churches. Throughout this entire trip we were brought face to face with Ephesians 5.20, "Giving thanks always for all things to God." And we were allowed to see some of His reasons for changing our plans.'
Giving thanks always to God. That had been the mainspring of their cheerfulness when things seemed to go wrong, when funds were low, 'we traveled several weeks with only an average of four dollars between us', when the work was slow and tedious and the tribespeople were dull. 'Carmen's records had to be made in several pieces and put together afterwards, since he couldn't get through a whole one without mistakes.' And even when all the fruit of their months of record-making was threatened by official censorship, and they saw no way of bringing the four hundred master records they had made out of Mexico, Joy insisted that they must rejoice. God was still God, and He was sovereign. He had sent them to Mexico, He had provided for them in so many wonderful ways, nothing was impossible to Him. 'Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!' Paul had written in a Roman prison, and if he could be glad in such circumstances surely they could be glad in theirs!
The particular problem they were faced with had certainly been formidable, for it had been two-edged. The censor was insisting that before they could be taken out of the country all the master records made in Mexico must be played over to ensure they contained no subversive material. The two-edged problem lay in the irrefutable fact that there was no official in Mexico or anywhere else who understood all of the thirty-three languages that had been recorded, and that even had such a linguistic wizard been found the master records would all have been rendered useless for reproduction. If played over even once, they would be spoiled.
Praising and praying and believing that somehow or other God would find a solution to the problem they went from office to office, requesting unsuccessfully that they might be permitted to take the records out uncensored. But there in Mexico City was one man whose position was sufficiently broad, to be able to help them. He listened to the two Protestant women explaining that they wished to send records about God and Jesus to tribes of Indians who had little or no knowledge of Christianity. Joy was the spokeswoman, and as always when she started relating what God was doing in Gospel Recordings, she became more and more animated, her face lighted up from time to time into a broad smile as she exclaimed 'Wasn't that wonderful?' and the official, listening attentively, quietly nodded his head. 'I'll see you get the necessary papers,' he said when she had finished and after he had put through a long distance phone call, and seen to one or two other matters relating to the affair, he provided them with the official documents they needed. Over the border they went, unimpeded, back into the United States with four hundred master records safely stored in the back of the station wagon.
The new era in Gospel Recordings had begun - the era of the field recordists.
* * * * *
It was one thing to arrive triumphantly home from Mexico with some four hundred master records in thirty-odd languages to be carefully stored in the studio. It was quite another thing to get them on to stampers that would press out the discs that could be sent back to the tribes waiting for them. That part of the process involved many phone calls to factories which did that sort of thing, many delays, many visits to collect the precious discs only to be told that the order had not been completed yet. And even when the piles of gramophone records were eventually delivered, and labeled, and packed, and the shipping forms filled in, and the boxes delivered to the appropriate departments and the bills paid, one couldn't help realizing that unless the tribes for which the records had been prepared happened to possess gramophones - gramophones that worked - the whole exercise from first to last was so much wasted effort.
The collecting and repairing of old gramophones to be given away with the records when necessary had been back-room work going on since 1939. Now, in 1945, it was part of the unromantic, inner workings of Gospel Recordings, and what with the recording machinery which had a knack of going wrong at inconvenient moments, and occasions when heavy cases had to be lugged about, the Gospel Recordings team of women found themselves talking about their need of a man - a man who knew enough about electrical equipment to do the repairs that were running away with so much money as experts were brought in, and who would also do some of the heavy work that made women so breathless.
For apart from Lloyd Olson who saw to the shipping of records, the staff was still composed of women. Ann's niece, Doris, was in the work now. Her call to it had come, as had Virginia Miller's, through an unpremeditated remark of Joy's when, in bed in an adjoining room one night Joy had suddenly called out laughingly, 'Doris, why don't you come into Gospel Recordings?' She went sound asleep after that, but Doris spent a sleepless night.
Why not join Gospel Recordings? The chief reason against it, from Doris' point of view, was that it was just what she wanted to do, and she was afraid of following her own inclination. As she thought and prayed through the dark hours of the night, however, she became aware that a gracious and loving Heavenly Father was planning to give her her heart's desire. The very next day she wrote and told her mother that she would be joining Ann and Joy in their work.
'Doris? What can she do?' asked someone sceptically when the news got round, but Joy was jubilant, asserting that if God had called Doris into G.R. He had something for her to do. Doris was willing for anything, and though she had been trained as a teacher, got off to a good start in the office. But when it came to electronics and mechanics and lifting heavy machinery, she was no better than the rest of them. The need for a masculine arm and a man's brain was increasingly evident.
The team talked about the sort of man they needed. 'He needs to be young and strong,' they said to each other. 'And willing to do any type of work, however hard and menial.'
'Good-natured and tolerant, too,' added one. 'Able to get along with a bunch of women.'
'We might put an advertisement in the papers specifying these requirements,' the banter continued. 'And we'd better explain that no salary will be paid, the applicant must be prepared to work full time and pay all his own expenses, including board.'
They put no advertisement in a paper, but they made their request, more soberly, to the God of Heaven, and the answer they received surpassed all their expectations. A blond youth measuring six foot three inches arrived at the door of the studio in the back garden one day, announcing that he was Herman Dyk, and he had come to see if there was anything he could do to help them. He had heard about them in Montana, one thousand miles away, and felt God wanted him to join them.
When Joy recovered from her surprise she welcomed him, but explained the unusual financial basis on which the work was run, rather apologetically pointing out that there was no salary attached to the job, though there was plenty of hard work. Herman was not disturbed. The only mention he made of money was to enquire whether he might be permitted to make a donation. As for work, he was used to it, and set about shouldering heavy machinery and bales of goods with a cheerful grin. The most remarkable thing, however, was that he seemed to know all about wires and wheels, balance and minute measurements, so that obstinate machines started whirring and spinning under his touch. The repairs that had been running away with so much money and so much time were now attended to on the spot, in an afternoon. 'Herman has fixed it' the team said wonderingly until they got used to it, when they said instead, with carefree confidence, 'Herman will fix it!'
For Herman, it transpired, was an experienced electronics technician.
He was not the only answer to Joy's prayers for a man who knew about machinery, although it was several months before she realised it. When Albert R. Rethey was brought along by a friend of his to see this remarkable little organization that was producing records in all sorts of languages, Joy merely saw a tall man with a grave smile who bowed to her courteously and listened with respectful interest to what she told him. It was all new to him, this down-to-earth enthusiasm for sending the Gospel in the shape of gramophone records to people of whom he had never heard. But then, everything about the Gospel was new to Albert R. Rethey. He had attended a church where the theory of evolution was taught and accepted, and it wasn't until he heard and saw Dr. Moon of Facts and Faith Films giving lectures which included something about wire recording (which happened to be in his line) that he realised there was any other point of view. Then, some time later, he had listened in to some radio programmes containing Bible studies, and this had led him to study the Bible for himself. In middle life, he had just received the Kingdom of God with the simplicity of a little child, and as a little child he was entering into the affairs of that Kingdom. It was gratifying to learn that those affairs sometimes even led to mechanical matters such as he was accustomed to, for he happened to hold a unique position as Technical Consultant in Consolidated Steel, at that time the largest steel firm on the west coast of America.
He had learned the various skills required to carry him to the top the hard way, starting from the time when his father bought a business, told Al how to produce dry cell batteries for ignition purposes, and left him to it. His basic knowledge of chemistry was gained there. Later he went to work for Consolidated Steel, and was loaned to Hollywood's Metro Goldwyn Meyer to help design equipment for process photography whereby abnormal effects were obtained of dramatic, hair-raising accidents. Mobile action cameras mounted on platforms with wheels occupied his attention for a while, and here he gained his expertise in mechanical construction. Then his firm sent him to Texas, where a ship building plant was being established. As expeditor he knew just where to obtain the heavy material necessary, castings weighing 15 tons and all. There really wasn't very much about mechanics generally that Albert R. Rethey did not know.
Joy might have been expected to be rather over-awed that such a person should come to see her amateur set-up, but she did not even know who he was. She merely saw in his visit an opportunity to discuss something that was puzzling her. She had recently bought a cutting lathe for cutting grooves in discs. She had got it cheap because the owner told her it wasn't working too well, so he was willing to let it go at $150, less than one tenth of its original price. To Joy $150 was quite a lot of money, but she felt convinced she should get the lathe, so she bought it.
The problem about it was that, as the owner had admitted, it wasn't working well. In fact, it wasn't really working at all, and Joy, who had rejoiced at having enough money to buy it was now rejoicing because although it didn't work God must have had a purpose in prompting her to buy it, and maybe the arrival of Mr. Rethey had something to do with it.
So it proved. Mr. Rethey asked if he might look at the lathe. As it happened it was one he himself had invented, though he did not mention it. Within minutes he had extracted a small steel mechanism about two inches long which he held up for her to see.
'This reduction gear for the screw drive is too small for your purpose,' he said. 'But there's nothing much to it. We can easily replace it, and then the lathe will work perfectly.' It was as easy as that! Joy gasped. What seemed like a mechanical miracle was performed which set the lathe working and Joy rejoicing. She had known God had a purpose in her buying that lathe . . .!
There was a deeper purpose than the restoration of a cutting lathe, though, for it brought Al Rethey into the work. He came along once or twice a week after that first visit to see if there was any way in which he could help. Sometimes Joy did not know what to do with him, and often he was seen descending the steps to his sumptuous big Buick laden with parcels for mailing, or going off to pick up records being pressed in some out of the way little commercial plant. But when Lloyd Olson set about re-constructing the basement for record storage, Albert R. Rethey knew all about supports for the under structure, and what is more he knew where to get them. Joy beamed with appreciation.
The simplicity and the sincerity of it all spoke to the guileless man. He felt at home here, quietly marvelled at the reports that came in telling of people being transformed through what they heard on the records, and decided that this was a work worth giving the rest of his life to. When Consolidated Steel was bought out by the largest steel corporation in the United States, he decided he would not accept a position in the new firm, but instead would retire and give his services to Gospel Recordings.
No-one could have foreseen in 1946 what the two men who came so unobtrusively into the work were to mean to it in the years to come. At that time there was no serious expectation of Gospel Recordings having its own factory and thereby being able to dispense with the uncertain and expensive services of commercial firms for the production of records. The work had already extended beyond anything Joy had envisaged. It seemed as though the Lord was always a step ahead. At times she scarcely knew how to keep up with Him. There was only one way to do it, as far as she could see, and she amazed her colleagues by announcing that everybody at G.R. should stop working on Wednesdays, and spend the day together in praying and praising God instead. She was in the State of Washington at the time, to speak at a few meetings that had been arranged, and while there attended a prayer conference.
'The speaker stressed prayer more than anyone I had ever heard. "In everything by prayer with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God." We all know the injunctions to prayer in the Word of God. "Pray without ceasing." This made a deep impression on me linking up in my memory my early teaching at the Columbia Bible School where I had taken my training. It was the continual stress, "rejoicing and prayer". I not only was taught but saw it practised. My years on the mission field bore it out as I never forgot the importance of prayer. But now I was in a new undertaking. Yes, prayer must be the most important part of it, if we want the blessing of the Lord in its fullness.'
So she put through that phone call to Gospel Recordings Inc. in Los Angeles. 'How are things going?' she enquired. 'We're too busy - we can't get through,' was the reply.
'Take a day off for prayer,' she said. It was not a suggestion, it was an instruction.
The decree was received with some dismay at Witmer Street.
'A whole day out for prayer! We've got too much work to do already, how will we ever get through it?'
'Does she mean every Wednesday?'
'Things will just get right on top of us . . .'
Joy, however, had forestalled all such arguments by saying, 'You can't do the work anyway, so you might just as well pray about it and get the Lord to help you.'
It did not occur to any of them to question her right to issue such instructions, so they started spending Wednesdays in prayer and singing and telling each other of the encouragements the Lord had given them through their Bible readings, and in their personal lives. Not many weeks had passed before any doubts were dissolved about the wisdom of the unusual allocation of a complete working day. Their output had not been reduced at all. In fact, they seemed to get through more quickly. Virginia, who had a way of defining things clearly, put it like this,
'Prayer brings resistance from the natural man, but once that's been overcome the increase of inward stability, of assurance, gives ability for the work. In addition, things happen outside that can't be accounted for, but which make things run more smoothly.'
It was about the same time that Joy introduced the policy of providing all gramophone records without charge. The Gospel was free, and the records should be free too. In so many cases the people who needed them most were the ones who could not afford to buy them. 'We'll give all the records away for nothing.' Not surprisingly the cautious-minded raised their eyebrows at this reckless abandoning of a legitimate source of income, but Joy was adamant. Quite apart from the spiritual principle involved, it would save a lot of time and effort expended in keeping accounts, sending out estimates and dealing with the Tax Office.
At the end of the financial year their accountant admitted that he had looked with amazement at the balancing of accounts each month. The output of records had increased by nearly double, yet no debts were incurred.
There had been a few times when faith was tested as word went round the departments that there was not sufficient money in hand to pay any more bills, and that nothing more might be bought, however urgent the need. That warning had always resulted in more stringent economies and an increased intensity of prayer. It was a sobering thing to see stacks of records packed and ready for shipping piled up on the floor because there wasn't the money in hand to dispatch them. Rejoicing was all the more fervent when money flowed in again, and the piles of records disappeared. In those early days principles were being laid down that were the outcome of a faith that was venturing, finding encouragement at every step, though not without trials.
By this time Joy and Ann were preparing for another recording trip. This time they were going to the extreme north, the uttermost part of the American continent, to that remote part of United States territory that straddled the Arctic circle. They were planning to travel by car up the newly opened Alaska Highway.
Going to Alaska! Areas ice bound for months on end; vast stretches of desolate wilderness; bitter winds howling across the snow; packs of wolves roaming; drunkenness rife in the scattered towns and lumber camps. Even if there were petrol stations every hundred miles along the Highway, what if the car broke down midway? It simply was not right for two women to travel alone up there.
If only they had a young man to go with them it would be different. It would be safer then. But to go without a man . . .!
Joy knew what was being said, of course, and smiled as one day she came in her reading in Isaiah to the words, "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall".
No young men it seemed had felt any urge to make a recording trip to Alaska to provide the Words of life in their own tongues to the tribes of Indian aboriginals and Eskimos cut off for months in their little igloos or heavy skin wigwams. But if the urge had come to her and to Ann, how could they withstand it? She read on, and almost laughed aloud with exultation.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Those promises were not to men only. The promises were to whoever waited upon the Lord, men or women. She and Ann could be assured of the vigour they would need, provided they fulfilled the condition. So the day came when they packed their luggage into the car, Al Rethey and Herman loaded the heavy recording material into the back, and amid a chorus of 'Goodbye and God bless you' they set off on the four thousand mile journey that would take them to the uttermost part.
Al Rethey and Herman looked after them reflectively, then returned to their machines. They had their own affairs to see to, and their own consciousness of an inward urge.
'We ought to have our own record pressing machine,' they agreed. 'It would save hundreds, thousands of dollars if we could pres our own records. And what's more, we would have the service when we wanted it - no waiting till next week or next month to fulfil the urgent orders.'
Those constant delays in getting the records pressed and sent back to the little tribes off the beaten track were having one good effect in Gospel Recordings. They were increasing the sense of urgency, the inward pressure to get on with the task. When inward pressure is strong enough, as with steam suppressed, something begins to move.
'We'll have to get a pressing machine made,' said Al Rethey. 'Made to our own design, to suit our requirements.' He settled down to working on plans that involved hydraulics and heavy machinery, but his mind was moving in another direction, too, following Joy and Ann up the Alaskan Highway. 'That disc recording machine - terribly heavy for women to have to handle, lugging it in and out of the back of the car.' He talked it over with Herman.
'There's this new method of recording with tape instead of discs. Lighter and easier to handle. What they need is a tape recording machine that they can take around with them.'
Pity they hadn't got one for this trip . . . They were obtainable, if only there was the money to pay for them . . . But even the best of them were quite heavy . . .
'What they need is something really light, easy for women to carry,' the men agreed. 'There's nothing else for it. We'll have to try to make one ourselves.'
When Joy and her team had prayed for a man it had not occurred to them to ask for an inventor. It had not occurred to them that they needed one. They saw no farther than having someone who could do repairs and lift heavy burdens.
But the Lord was always a step ahead.