If you would like to help translate this site please click here.
To be a field recordist you must be tough. It isn't only that you must be tough physically, able to endure long hours of hard travelling, uncomfortable nights in strange beds, unpalatable food difficult to digest, extremes of temperature ranging from below zero to one hundred degrees in the shade, and the sort of constitution that comes up sturdily after the bouts of malaria, dysentery, and fevers that will almost certainly assail you in your travels. You must be tough mentally, able to concentrate for hours on end, able to grasp the techniques of linguistics as well as of sensitive recording machines, able to discern when what you've said had been inadvertently twisted by the interpreter to say what you did not mean. You must be tough spiritually, too, able to overcome the depression that will attack you when things go wrong, able to wait patiently through hours, days, even weeks when the arrangements you thought you'd made don't materialise, or when the tribe you thought had been located for you melts into the jungle or the desert - or when you find yourself trudging from one government department to another in a country whose language you don't understand trying to obtain permission to bring in your equipment when you enter, or to be allowed to take it with you when you leave.
And you must be tough emotionally, not easily moved, not quickly deflected from your course by the gentle insistent call of natural affection...
'So it's no marriage, no engagement, no understanding with any girl during the first five-year term,' said Joy to the young man who stood with her at the airport as she waited for the call to board her plane. 'If you feel the Lord has called you to field recording with G.R., you must understand our regulation. If you accept the call, you must accept the restriction.'
'Yes, I see,' he said, looking straight ahead of him. He did not speak lightly, and Joy understood why. She glanced at him and continued, 'If you accept, I would recommend that you break off immediately with your girl friend,' Then she added a piece of advice.
'Don't take time to reason it out with her, or break it to her gradually. If you try to do it that way, it will only complicate the matter.'
On the face of it, it sounded hard, but as she spoke something happened which he never forgot.
'I experienced in that moment an infilling of the grace of God that was unique in any experience I've ever had, even since,' he said fifteen years later. 'I found myself willing and even believing that it was best this way.'
When the confirming grace of Divine authority accompanied so much of what she said and did, it is not surprising that Joy was a leader even young men could follow.
The fact that she only expected of others the sort of renunciations she herself had made had something to do with the quality of her leadership. The young men and women who came to the Interim Co-Labourer sessions at Gospel Recordings saw the plain little attic room that was still her only home, observed the way she came into the dining room for meals just like anyone else, and took her share in serving food and washing up, observed the old, rattling car in which she drove, and drew their own conclusions. This Director appeared to require no special privileges to attend her position.
One young couple who joined the work were vividly reminded of an interview they had had some time previously with the Director of another Christian organisation. They had just completed their Bible School training, and he had arranged to take them out to dinner to explain the job he might be prepared to offer them. They were somewhat dismayed when they saw their prospective employer drive up in a new white Cadillac. As the position they were applying for was to represent the charity, and most of their time would be spent in raising funds for it, they did not feel very happy about that sumptuous, sparkling car. During the interview they could not disguise their reaction to that new Cadillac. They'd feel rather uneasy if they knew the money they were raising went on things like that ... They and the Director parted with polite smiles and the mutual, if unspoken agreement that they were not the sort of people he was looking for.
Joy's unconscious example extended far beyond a simple style of living at home. Those who prepared to launch out as 'fielders', going to strange countries and untried situations, were well aware that no-one knew more about the hardships to be endured than their leader. Her own experiences made her very sensitive to the difficulties they encountered, and there were times when she seemed to be aware that they were in distress although she was thousands of miles away and had no direct communication. David Macnaughtan, during his first year in India, fell sick with hepatitis and was extremely ill. Within the week, before any news of his condition could have reached Joy, he received a letter from her saying, 'David, I know something is wrong, and I just want you to know that I am praying for you.' Such sensitivity and evidence of intimate concern endeared her fellow workers to her, and inspired their confidence. If the instructions she gave were not always clear, there was never any doubt of the sincerity and warmth of her affection. She wrote frequently to them, wherever she happened to be, rattling off letters in as chatty a way as if she were there talking to them.
'Dear, dear young people, I love you very very much,' she wrote to the I.C.L.s one Christmas. 'You came to us and helped us and we are grateful to our Heavenly Father for you. We have made a list of all the I.C.L.s who have been with us - I believe there are forty of you now. We are interested in each one of you and are praying that God will lead you into the place of His will. I will be remembering you by name before the throne at this season.'
'Are you practicing rejoicing?' she asked. 'Remember - make a victory of it by rejoicing! The hard things are good rejoicing practice. That thing that has been your hardest trial, that disappointment, that disillusionment, that thing that seemed such a tragedy, that biting experience doubtless will prove to be something that you will thank God for with all your heart when you see His purpose in permitting it. I'm not young, and I can talk from knowledge.'
She was over sixty when she wrote that letter, and at the height of her mental and spiritual powers, with her vitality undiminished. With her wide and intimate knowledge of missionary situations throughout the world she was frequently invited to speak at important conferences, the recognised founder-director of a unique organisation that was growing rapidly. In addition to the centers in Australia, England and India, others were being established. One had come into being in South Africa as a result of Sanna Barlow's months there to make recordings. In Mexico Herman Dyk was running a Gospel Recordings factory, and in Canada a Member of Parliament had added to his activities by becoming Chairman of the Gospel Recordings branch he himself had brought into being.
Dr. Robert Thompson had had a colourful career. In the Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he had been expecting an overseas posting on the eve of D-Day, but he hadn't expected it to be to Ethiopia. The Emperor Haile Selassie, back at last in his own country after his years of exile, had appealed for men, since so many of his own army and air force officers had been lost in the Fascist conquest. His appeal, made through the senior R.A.F. Chaplain and Dr. R. V. Bingham, General Director of the Sudan Interior Mission, resulted in the young Canadian finding himself re-organising the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force as First Commander of the training programme. After the war he remained in Ethiopia as Associate Deputy Minister in a Government Department, then leaving Government service joined the Sudan Interior Mission to head their educational programme. His responsibilities had taken him to the south of the country, where large concentrations of the Arussi Galla tribe claimed his attention. The Arussi Galla tribe didn't really welcome government plans to improve their way of life. They preferred their own semi-nomadic existence. They hadn't welcomed missionaries, either, having killed a couple of them in 1936. They weren't going to be easy to reach with the Gospel but Thompson, who had spent many hours with them over their camp fires, saw in a flash what a talking box that spoke their own language might accomplish among them. He had supported Joy's project from the time he heard about it, and had seen the effectiveness of the records as the spearhead of evangelism in the tribe he particularly loved. Hundreds had embraced the Christian faith as a result of them, and on his return to Canada he determined to promote Gospel Recordings in his own country.
Such reports of what was happening in Ethiopia were also being received from many other countries, swelling the files of records kept in the offices in Los Angeles. While Christian radio broadcasts were reaching more and more people in the major languages, Gospel Recordings was going beyond those frontiers to people and areas in geographical or cultural isolation. To reach these smaller, less accessible groups was still Joy's over-riding desire, and it kept her on the move, speaking on their behalf when she was not actually travelling among them. She was often far away from Los Angeles, and since long-distance telephone calls are very expensive, even in off-peak hours, she came to the point quickly when decisions had to be made or advice given.
'Follow the Jericho pattern for the remaining seven days,' were her laconic instructions when she learned that only half the amount required to meet the purchase deadline on urgently needed property was in hand. She was phoning from Wheaton, Illinois. The property in question, ideally suited for headquarter offices and storage departments, was situated in the same block as the Gospel Recordings factory, and only three minutes' walk from the over-crowded compound in Witmer Street. A deposit of $6,000 had been paid in September on the understanding that it would be forfeited if the balance were not forthcoming in October. So convinced had both Board and staff been that God intended them to have that property for which they had prayed for months, that when the opportunity came they took it and paid the deposit. Now the deadline had been brought forward three days, and with only a week to go the money in hand was less than $30,000. Twice that amount was needed.
'Follow the Jericho pattern!' said Joy. 'And cable the Branch offices to join us.' No-one else was to be told of the situation. It was between Gospel Recordings and God alone.
The staff at Los Angeles understood. The walls of Jericho had fallen after the Israelites had encircled the city each day for seven days, and the analogy was clear. 'Our march was a two-hour cessation from our labours each day, when our entire staff met from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to encircle the wall by prayer, song, confession, forgiveness, praise. Signals were flashed to Australia - London - Cape Town - India - Canada: BUILDING DEADLINE OCTOBER NINTH FOLLOW JERICHO PATTERN NEXT SEVEN DAYS JOSHUA 3.5.'
Joy was on a speaking tour, but she kept the vigil too, and on the fourth day she was deeply impressed by the words in the first chapter of the book of Joshua, 'Within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan to go in to possess the land...' At the same time the staff in Los Angeles, unknown to her, were conscious of an emphasis on the same verse. But no money had come in. The coffers were empty.
The following afternoon the telephone bell rang in the Los Angeles office. It was an overseas call, from London, England. David Chapman, newly appointed secretary of the British branch was speaking. 'A legacy has just been received - the Council feels it must be meant for you - a few other gifts have come in, too - all being transferred to your banking account...' He mentioned the sum. It was sufficient to cover the balance required to complete the purchase of the property.
The walls of Jericho had fallen - two days ahead of time! When the staff at Los Angeles recovered from their surprise at the source of God's supply and the accuracy of it, they burst into a spontaneous doxology. Joy continued her speaking tour with further evidence to produce that God is alive today and worthy, oh, so worthy, to be praised!
She had many encouraging things to report in those years of the early 1960s. Gospel Recordings achievements of obtaining new languages had soared again as the prayer for more recordists was answered. The end of the previous decade had seen a dramatic drop in the addition of languages, though there had been a substantial increase in the number of records distributed. During the years when the three recording teams had been on the field - the Trio, Vaughn Collins and Don Richter - the total figure of new languages had risen to 1,837. At one time it was reported that the studio in Los Angeles was receiving fresh recordings that had been done at the rate of one every two days. With the return on leave of the full-time recordists, however, the figure dropped steeply, although 166 in two years were added by part-time workers. Now the figure was rising again. Teams of recordists were out on the field - Vaughn Collins and Ted Jones in South America, Don Richter and his wife in New Guinea, Ann Sherwood and Kathy Hoffmeyer in Africa, Noela Elvery and Evelyn Baillie in Asia, Daniel Grossenbacher and John Rothgerber 'the two Swiss boys' somewhere in the Sahara, Jill Bembrick and Nell Gibson in India...
When Gospel Recordings celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1964 Joy was able to announce that the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ had been proclaimed in 3,109 languages and dialects, reaching hundreds of thousands of people who had never heard it before, and who could hear it in no other way than by means of the little records.
The records! The whirling discs with the captured voices that proclaimed Jesus as the victor over sin, evil spirits, death!
The listening groups of naked, primitive people here, the isolated nomads there, the by-passed clusters of illiterates in the urban districts, the hamlets and villages off the beaten tracks...!
The wonder of it never ceased to inspire her, this means that God had put into her hands of reaching everyone in his own tongue to tell what Jesus could do for his soul. 'Ask God to bless the records,' she urged her listeners. 'Every time you ask Him to bless the food you eat, ask Him also to bless the records.' Of themselves, those records were but dead things. Only as God infused the words with spiritual power could they be true messengers of life - and God worked in answer to prayer and praise, not in answer to mere interest.
The following year was a particularly exhausting yet colourful one for her. She went to Arizona in the hottest time of the year to make recordings and help train a team of young women. Then she set out on a trip that was to take her eventually to a country no Gospel Recordings field recordist had ever succeeded in entering - Colombia. Harrowing tales of the persecution of Christians there had been coming out for years, but now there seemed a slight easing of the situation, and Joy was determined to get in if she could. Her companion was young Jim Mittelstedt, and they were to be joined by Mrs. Charlotte Marcy, an experienced member of the Central America Mission.
Their journey took them down through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Her letters back to Los Angeles reported going off the beaten tracks in several of those countries, including an exciting adventure of pursuing a tribe up the Bayano River in Panama to record in a section of the Cuna tribe. She made light of the attendant discomforts and dangers of such trips - the important thing was to find the necessary informers and interpreters who could act as links in passing on those heavenly messages, sentence by sentence, till the tribesman was speaking them in his own tongue and his own idiom, telling out clearly something that was news to him as it would be to the other members of his community when eventually they had the phonette and records in their own hands. A new message could easily enter the gate of the ear on a friendly intelligible voice.
On their way through Honduras they visited Marcala again. They arrived when a conference was in progress and, 'It was just great to be there! The chapel was filled and looked so nice. Many of them were my children in the Lord, or their children by either natural or spiritual birth. I had a little opportunity to speak to the congregation - everybody was happy and full of joy.
'On Sunday morning I felt I should go to a little town on the border. It is way back in the mountains on a road that got worse and worse. We left about 7 a.m. and arrived about 10:30 a.m., but the time of fellowship was worth the rugged driving and hiking. I met a man who had been converted in prison one Christmas day when I went with some of the believers to preach and take gifts. He had been truly saved and returned to his village to witness. Now there are other believers and a little chapel which they have built with their own hands.'
Back to Marcala in time for the evening service, the chapel crowded to the doors. 'Souls were saved... Once again I was able to plead with them to come to the feet of the Lord Jesus. I also had a great time of prayer with Don Pedro who had been with me all those years in Marcala. What a man of prayer he is! What an inspiration to know he will be following us in prayer!'
On to the capital city, where she met some of the men who as lads had been in her three-month Bible School in Marcala. 'Some of them are the main preachers of the country today, and it thrilled my heart to have a time to pray on our knees together. I cannot tell you the joy there has been seeing my children walking with the Lord.' Even news of the success of the records could not supersede such delight. It was the fulfilment of her highest desires for the people of Marcala.
Enjoyment of another type awaited her as she travelled on. For years she had looked forward to an opportunity to travel through the Panama Canal, and now she was to experience it. She rose very early in the morning to watch the process, and saw in it a spiritual truth she could not keep to herself. The only way for the boat to reach its destination was to steam slowly into the imprisonment of the lock, then turn off its engine. Shut in from behind, oppressed by the height of the water in the next lock, there was nothing to do but wait. 'To try to help the situation by turning on its motor could have wrecked the ship as well as destroy the lock.' Slowly the vessel was lifted as the waters were poured in, and when the right height was reached the gates were opened, and the ship sailed through.
'How much this is like our spiritual life. God prepares us and lets us wait until His time is ready. Then He lifts us up, opens the gates, and moves us on.'
As they drew near to Colombia they encountered what looked like being an insuperable obstacle. They would not be allowed to take their car into the country, they were informed, unless they left a deposit of two thousand American dollars in the bank. The arrangement must be made through the A.A.A. in New York.
Two thousand American dollars! They did not possess that amount of money. They had been planning to travel widely during the three months they expected to spend in Colombia, for Joy wanted to study the situation thoroughly, to discover all the missionary work being done, either in Spanish or in Indian dialects, as well as start recording. Without the car to travel in, and store the various things necessary for their enterprise, they could not accomplish a quarter of what they had planned.
Two thousand American dollars! 'I'll phone Virginia and see if there is any money on my account,' said Joy, not very expectantly. Gifts were frequently received ear-marked for her personal use, but they were usually comparatively small. However, she put through the long-distance call, and heard Virginia Miller's voice at the other end of the line.
'Oh, Joy, I'm glad to hear from you,' she said. 'I didn't know how to contact you. We've just received two thousand pounds sterling for you from England. I've never heard of the donor. Yes, it's a personal gift for you. I know! You've never had anything like it before, but its yours all right! Oh! Oh, all right. I'll see the right amount is lodged in the bank in New York...!'
It was one of those occasions when it was not difficult to rejoice whole-heartedly. The apparently insurmountable obstacle had not actually existed at all, since the money was already in hand - a larger sum than Joy had ever received, and from a totally unexpected source.
The next step was not so easy. The car must remain in customs until the necessary papers were received, and that might take as long as a month. Meanwhile, they had arrived in the Colombian port, and must find somewhere to stay. There appeared to be no taxis for hire, and a noisy altercation on the wharf ended up rather ignominiously with the three of them walking behind a little cart on which was piled all their luggage, looking for a hotel.
'It didn't take us long to realise that even according to Buenaventura standards we had picked a low-rate one,' wrote Joy later. 'In a hot place this was hotter, in a dirty city this was dirtier, and in a place with few modern conveniences this had the fewest... Some of our rejoicing was more by faith than by sight!'
They looked round the dark, windowless room that had been allotted them, tried to brush off the flies that settled on their faces, wondered how they would ever be able to eat anything in this filthy place, and whether the D.D.T. they had brought would be sufficient to deal with the fleas and the lice.
Then the people started coming in. They wanted to look at Americans at close range. The only tourists they were accustomed to seeing sped off in luxurious cars and disappeared quickly into expensive hotels. It was as good as s fiesta to have Americans right here where anyone could go in and have a look at them!
Their coming transformed the situation for Joy, at any rate. If she was as good as a fiesta, they were as good as a congregation! They spoke Spanish, of course, and she promptly produced a Phonette and put on a record Vaughn Collins had recently made in Argentina. The singing in it sounded especially sweet and clear, and in the dirty, over-crowded room the words rang out,
'Come into my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee...'
They listened entranced to the singing, though most of them lost interest when the message that followed it began to dig deep into their consciences. There was one, however, whose heart was touched right from the start. Twenty-one year old Rosalba, mother of a very restless baby, had never heard anything like it before. She had heard about Jesus being born in a manger and crucified on a cross, but she knew nothing about Him being alive today. After hovering around the Americanas' stuffy hotel room for two or three days, she eventually had the opportunity for the talk she longed for. She wanted to know more about the Way, she told Joy.
'Charlotte took the baby so that I could give undivided attention to explaining to her in her own language how very simple and beautiful it was to invite Jesus Christ into her heart. We closed the door of the little cell-like room and knelt on the hard floor beside the bed with wooden slats instead of springs, and there she really did ask the Saviour to come in.'
There was no doubt about the reality of Rosalba's conversion. She was quite sure the Lord Jesus had come into her heart, and she wanted the man she was living with, father of her baby, to ask Him in, too. Don Luciano was quite prepared to be friendly when Jim Mittelstedt talked to him, and said he thought this Gospel way was good, but he wasn't ready to go along - not yet. The only thing that made it hard to leave that port, and the most unpleasant accommodation Joy had ever known, was saying goodbye to Rosalba. 'We'll go on praying for you, and for Don Luciano,' Joy assured her. 'God will hear our prayers...' But she did not really expect to meet Rosalba again.
It was as well that they had got in touch with Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries in the city of Cali, and been assured there was plenty of room for them there in the guest house. 'Come as quickly as you can - don't dilly dally in that awful port - it's got a bad name!' Joy's weakened constitution could not have stood out much longer against the unusually unhygienic conditions in the third-rate port hotel. When they eventually arrived after a long ride through the mountains, and made their way to the clean, spacious guest house, she was already beginning to feel ill, and succumbed thankfully to the luxury of a room to herself again, and the privacy of wholesome bathrooms that smelt fresh and with doors that could be locked.
'There is also a laundry with washing machine and the house has conveniences of every kind, even to a pop-up toaster,' she reported light-heartedly. Joy appreciated the good things of this life when they were available, and the daily thanksgivings with which she concluded each day often made reference to the nice things she had had to eat. She had no complaints to make about being feverish, and feeling nauseated, and having unpleasant evidences that although all was well with her soul, the same could not be said for her body.
'My feet have been kept off the ground for the last ten days or so because of a vicious Colombian bug that has attached himself to me along with his relatives. But we are still having fun and incidentally getting a lot of necessary things done in preparation for our tour.' The preparations included writing letters, introducing themselves, to 200 missionaries in Colombia.
It was rather surprising, therefore, that two days before Christmas, when she was feeling better and was busy at her desk, she should suddenly yield to an impulse to go shopping. It seemed unreasonable, and not really necessary, but - 'Let's go to town right away,' she said to Charlotte. She met with no resistance there. Charlotte was always ready for anything, especially excitement, so off they went. They travelled by bus, since that only cost two cents whereas a taxi cost eighteen, and arriving in the crowded city, brilliantly and attractively decorated for the festive season, they made their way to a huge Colombian equivalent of an inexpensive supermarket. They would buy a few little oddments as presents for their Spanish neighbours, they decided, 'and one or two little things to wrap up for each other to sort of pretend we're at home.'
As they were struggling through the mob of shoppers, surrounded by a galaxy of faces, one face drew close to Joy with an expression of astonished delight.
'Rosalba!' Joy and Charlotte exclaimed incredulously, then embraced her ecstatically. They had expected never to see her again yet here she was, their spiritual babe, eagerly greeting them in a city of 400,000 people, and more than one hundred miles away from where they had said goodbye. 'And Don Luciano! Here!' Rosalba's family lived in Cali, and she had come to stay with them, Don Luciano accompanying her.
Joy and Charlotte knew now why they had been impelled to embark on what seemed a totally unnecessary excursion.
A week later Joy was ill in bed again, so Charlotte and Jim set off to visit Rosalba's family. When they returned, very late, Charlotte's face was aglow.
'Did you have a good time?' asked Joy eagerly.
'Guess what happened,' said Charlotte.
Joy hesitated. Then she said, 'Did Don Luciano accept the Lord?' It seemed too much to expect, though it was what they had prayed for.
'Yes!' said Charlotte. She was so excited she could scarcely speak. 'And so did Rosalba's mother - and so did her sisters - and so did her only brother. The only one who didn't was her father, and he was drunk!'
When they recovered somewhat from their jubilation and had time to reflect, they had no difficulty in agreeing that all things had worked together for good - delays and filthy hotels included. And as Joy pointed out, it had all started with a little record in Spanish. They could not have asked for a more propitious entry into the country.
Joy had made no more than very rough plans for the months in Colombia. Experiences in previous recording trips had proved that it was a Guide rather than a blue-print that was needed. Unexpected delays, illness, breakdowns in communications all militated against a tight schedule, and her practice of rejoicing in them all not only preserved her and her companions in travel from anxiety and frustration, but kept them alert to grasp the opportunity that had been ripening in secret, and which might have been missed if they had been unwatchful. When, therefore, Charlotte Marcy said she felt she should go to Costa Rica to attend the 75th Anniversary Conference of her mission, and it was found the only way to get there was by plane from Medellin, to Medellin they went. Joy had not planned to go there, and it involved driving through the night over bandit-ridden mountains to do so, but they arrived in time to see Charlotte off 'gaily dressed in a new pleated skirt and a pongee blouse she had bought in Panama. She looked right smart.'
Now it so happened that, unknown to Joy, a conference of missionaries was being held in the Oriental Missionary Society's centre at Medellin. She could not have arrived at a better time for meeting the very people she wanted to get in touch with. Many of them were using records that had been made by Vaughn Collins in other countries of South America, and sent in to Colombia. They were encouraging in the advice they gave.
'The time is ripe!'
'The way is open as never before.'
'Everything is converging - this is the time of opportunity to reach the Indian tribes.'
At the large Saturday evening meeting of the conference one missionary, reporting on her work, showed slides in which the central feature was the phonette and the records. This was the only way she could preach to the Cuna people, she said, for she did not know their language.
'It was as effective a presentation of G.R. as could be,' wrote Joy enthusiastically. 'People want the records and God has made wonderful preparation for us here in Colombia. The country has gone daffy over records, and multitudes have electric players... There is need for the records among all classes. Eighty per cent are illiterate; just meditate on that. They are nice looking, nicely dressed, cultured and civilised people. One would expect them to be literate, yet they are in great need, and in addition to these there are multitudes of Indians.'
They travelled widely in the following weeks, their journeys taking them up through Guajira Indian country in the northern deserts of Colombia and into Venezuela. Charlotte had rejoined them and one Saturday night, after dealing with two punctured tyres, they arrived at the city of Caracas. To their dismay the city looked worse than New York or Philadelphia for driving in, with traffic that seemed to thread in and out of a maze at an alarming pace. They had made no arrangements to stay anywhere, they did not know their way about, and they were very hungry.
'Lord, show us a restaurant,' they prayed urgently as they parked by the side of the road. They knew they couldn't stop for more than a minute. 'Show us where we can park the car, how to get around this block, how to drive down these streets.' Then they moved on again. In a short time they found themselves outside a Chinese restaurant, with parking space beside it. 'Thank you, Lord,' Joy breathed, then said, 'You two go in and order dinner, while I put through a phone call.'
She had developed a habit of collecting names and telephone numbers, and she had one, just one, in the city of Caracas. A Southern Baptist missionary, by the name of Clark. She did not know him, but dialled the number, and to her relief heard a man's voice with the welcome drawl of the southern states. 'Mr. Clark...?' She explained who she was, and wondered if he could recommend anywhere for her and her two companions to spend the night.
'I'll come and get you,' he said cheerfully. 'But I can't get there till twelve midnight. Just wait around till I come.' So early on Sunday morning they found themselves crawling contentedly into freshly made beds with the prayer that as they had only two days in which to pack the sort of enquiries and interviews that would normally take a month, they would be enabled to manage it somehow.
Once more they found they had arrived at the right place at the right time. Not only were they able to learn what they wanted to know about the missionary situation in Venezuela and the prospects for recording among the remoter tribes, but they were brought in touch with a man who enthusiastically offered his help.
'Yes, I will receive freight shipments at the port and re-ship them to points in the country.
'I'll take you to the Chief of Customs. We know him, and he is very favourable these days. But the political complexion is not good,' she was warned. 'The time is short.' So although her purpose in going to Venezuela had been primarily to survey the situation and merely pave the way for recording teams to go in later on, Jim sat down and made some recordings then and there.
'The experiences of the past days almost make us breathless,' she wrote a short time later, when they were back in Colombia. They had stayed at eleven different towns in three weeks, arriving unannounced in most cases and not knowing where to go, but in each case they had been directed to a place where there were missionaries who welcomed them. True, they had not always been able to reach a town in time to spend the night there. In one place, having transferred all their belongings to canoes, they had to stay in a finca, a tropical farm, and were delayed there an extra day. 'We were not disappointed as we had left it in the Lord's hands. We were thrilled to be out among these people of a different type and to witness to them.' Joy found her way to the kitchen, and started talking to the little group lounging there.
'I couldn't believe in the Lord,' said one woman after listening for a little time. 'I can't read,' she added in explanation.
'The Lord didn't say it was through reading,' retorted Joy promptly. 'He said faith comes by hearing! Now you listen to these records...' The outcome of that kitchen meeting was that the woman heard and believed. 'She was full of joy and began to witness to it right away.'
They travelled for hours through territory that was inhabited by Indians, among whom was not one missionary or Christian Colombian to tell them of Christ in their own dialects. 'Praise God, we have records!' wrote Joy. 'Remember there are over 100 tribes in Colombia alone. Stand by and pray for our team as they prepare to return next year. These things are only accomplished by prayer and faith.'
The four months' trip concluded in Ecuador, where by means of an amateur radio operator in California Joy had a chat with the staff in Los Angeles. All three of them were well, she reported. Jim and Charlotte expected to travel home by boat. A petition for importation and duty exemption on 10,000 records and 200 Phonettes for Colombia was going to the customs authorities there for approval.
As for her, she would be returning for one day in Colombia before flying to Florida for a brief visit with Anthony and Sanna Rossi. Then she was going on to the World Congress of Missions in Wheaton, Illinois. No, she wouldn't be home in Los Angeles for some time yet.
* * * * *
About this time a change took place in the policy of Gospel Recordings regarding field recordists. It was decided that the five-year restriction on engagement and marriage should be reduced to four years.
When Jim Mittelstedt heard the news, he put through a long distance phone call. He had not been in touch with the girl friend he had made a complete break with four years ago after talking to Joy at the airport, when he had known so surely that that was the best thing to do. He had never doubted the wisdom of the decision. But now the test was over. He wondered if she would remember him at all, whether she was married to someone else. He'd like to find out.
Yes, she was still single. Yes, she was willing to see him. Jim bought a plane ticket...