Have you ever wanted to sit down with a missionary and ask them what life was like on the field, hear their stories, and get advice? Now you can! We interviewed a variety of former IM missionaries who served within the first 50 years of IM. Read their stories and stay tuned as we share more former IM missionary interviews in our new series, “Leaving a Legacy: Former IM Missionary Interviews.”
Jerry & Carol Pinkerton, Ivory Coast (1971-2008)
When were you appointed and how long were you on the field?
Jerry and I were appointed in 1971 to the Ivory Coast. We left the field in 2008. I want to add words of thanks and praises to the missionaries who were already/or had been on the field before we arrived. They tilled the soil, planted the seeds, and in the Lord's timing, He has and continues to bring fruit even before our arrival, the Merkhs, the Sparks, and Frank Cousineau were all there before. Upon our arrival were Dr. & Mrs. Miley, the Paynes, the Lees, the Palmers, the Aldridges, and the Richards. What a fantastic group! (I hope I haven't left anyone out!).
What were some of your responsibilities and roles while on the field?
Our first term was about 70 miles from the nearest town with a gas station, post office, and such. I was unable to say more than “Hi” to the women in our village. Females my age and older never had the opportunity to go to school. They'd been taught that a female's job was to work in the fields and have babies. But I could communicate with the children attending school who spoke French. They attended classes with Wednesday afternoons off (but went to school on Saturday mornings). So I asked the children to come to our home each Wednesday afternoon when we would sing and have a Bible Story. Our own three sons were in boarding school and only home with us for about a month every three months.
During the times our sons were with us, most of my time was in the kitchen preparing food. It took so much longer there just to prepare a meal!
Tell me about one memory from the field (personal, spiritual, funny, etc.)
The walls were lined with books to read. Tables and chairs were provided... I often spent afternoons in the Reading Room. One little girl (Sewa) came in each day, picked up the same book, went to a table, seated herself, and immersed herself in the book for a very long time. After several weeks of observing her, I approached and asked what she was reading. She was reading the Bible! She was from Togo, another small West African country, but was here in Bondoukou for schooling. She told me she didn't have a Bible, so she was memorizing as much of it as she could before the school year ended... I was so touched by her actions that I wrote Mrs. Agnes Frazier in Nashville, TN, who later sent money to buy Sewa a Bible in French, so she could have her own personal Bible.
Carol Pinkerton, Ivorian Bits and Pieces
Tell me about the women’s ministries in Ivory Coast and the willingness to step up and fill in the gaps on the field.
Thankfully now we have African believers who are dedicated to teaching other women. At first, it was the missionary women who did it all but praise God that is no longer the case. Our African sisters are doing a fantastic job of teaching and living as examples of Christian believers each day. I'm very proud of them.
Tell me about being a “Dorm Mom” on the field.
After moving from Nassian, we spent five years as form parents at the school for missionary children. The school was located in the central part of the Ivory Coast, named Bouake. The name of the school was Ivory Coast Academy (ICA). We were assigned to be in charge of one of the two high school boy's dorms (20 young men) who were away from their parents and in high school. The boys considered a good Dorm Mom to faithfully keep their favorite pair of jeans mended and provide good snacks each evening.
Carol Pinkerton, Ivorian Bits and Pieces
What advice would you give our new and next generation of missionaries?
Be positive that your calling is from God. Learn all you can. Have an open mind and heart both for God and the people with whom you're working.