Mabel or as some affectingly call her”Aunt Mabel”, has served with NTM for fifty three years in Bolivia. She was born in 1922 in Michigan; and her husband Norman in 1925 in Canada. They served with the Ayore tribe until the Lord took Norman in 1966. Mabel was asked to live in the village to Tambo where her two young children were enrolled at the school there. She taught in the school, supervised the dorm and saw to the grounds and gardens. She remained there until returning to the States in 2002.
Mabel remembers from a young age wanting to serve the Lord, but does not recall thinking of the need for others to hear the Gospel. Her family faithfully attended church and were very musically involved. In spite of that, she said she never heard or saw a missionary challenge due she suspects to living in an isolated locale. There were not even any magazines on missions. Still she desired to give her life in serving the Lord some way.
When she was twenty one, she felt the need to leave the farm, but still sought to serve the Lord, probably musically; or she would interview for the Women’s Army Corp which was recruiting. Just prior to meeting with recruiters, she received a letter from her sister sharing the need for a piano player at the big tabernacle in Detroit which she encouraged her to apply for as she felt Mabel could fill the position. She thanks God for His leading. It was here she met her husband; and it was here that she graduated from church Bible School.
She became aware of NTM through a copy of Brown Gold sent to her by her brother. A plea for the missionaries was printed in bold letters on the back. This led Mabel and her husband to apply to the mission and took their training at Chico, California for Bible and later came field training at Fouts Springs. In the mean time, she traveled with Dorothy Dye as a girls’ trio. Dorothy was on furlough from Bolivia serving as an instructor to the “green” recruits (Mabel’s husband drove them to their venues). It was during field training when they decided to serve in Bolivia.
Challenges to their commitment came soon. Upon finishing training, they returned to Detroit to await papers from NTM which did not arrive, so they both took jobs. They lived in what Mabel termed a “tight” apartment; and although they were earning little, they put aside change for their future costs. Arrangements were then made for them to fly via NTM plane to Bolivia; but the two planes the mission owned were lost in fatal crashes. A commercial flight was their only alternative. They were heading out without money or personal direction, but God’s provision was faithful.
After Norm’s early homegoing, Mabel’s subsequent responsibility as a single parent as well as little support was certainly challenging. However, God used the frugality and money stretching skills she learned during her growing up years on the farm to meet her needs. She and her family never went hungry.
A note of personal joy for Mabel came when they returned home on furlough after seven years in Bolivia to find her mother desired to become a part of New Tribes.
The Hurst’s had no sending church. Norm’s mother’s Bible study promised a small amount each month.
Looking back, would you do it all over again? “Yes!!!, with three exclamation marks.”