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Treasured Memories: A Missionary Family’s Trials and Triumphs

By Yvonne L. Carlson
(21st Century Press, Springfield, Missouri, 2000; pp. 328, soft cover)

Is prayer for missionaries effective? No one could doubt that after reading Treasured Memories, Yvonne Carlson’s book about her missionary family’s life at two different mission stations. “Somewhere, somebody prayed,” she repeatedly states after relating accounts of God’s deliverance from illness, thieves, and other stressful situations.

While feeling called to missions, Orville and Yvonne Carlson were comfortably pastoring a church when an urgent request came from a mission board. “Could you go to India in two months?” Quickly they responded by resigning their church and disposing of all their furniture, but the necessary travel visa never arrived. In January 1954, 16 months later, they were on their way to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), a journey that took 56 days aboard a ship. This was the Carlsons’ introduction to a lifetime of missions.

Carlson carefully recounts the adjustment to living in a bamboo house without electricity, which also housed rats, various insects, and occasional snakes. This mission became the Carlson family’s base for the next 10 years. During this time, the work grew and many people came to the Lord in response to the Carlsons’ ministry.

Whether adjusting to the living conditions, recovering from climate-related illnesses, coping with a different culture, or traveling in unsafe conditions, the Carlsons relied on the promise of God to be with them. Their personal faith was reinforced by the assurance that many people were praying for them at home.

A heart-wrenching decision faced the Carlsons as they saw how the hot humid climate was taking a toll on their children’s health. The ultimate choice was a boarding school in the cool mountain air of India, 1,000 miles away. One by one, the young children were sent to the school, leaving the mission home quiet and still.

How does a missionary mother handle this separation? we might ask. Carlson answers candidly, “Often I would stand at our backdoor and look into the western sky, knowing that a thousand miles beyond, nestled in the Himalayan Mountains, were our three treasures. I knew God was watching over them!” All three children grew up to take places in various kinds of ministry. God faithfully answered prayer on their behalf.

At the end of the Carlsons’ second term in East Pakistan, Yvonne’s health required the family to make a change of climate. The doctor recommended “somewhere in the South Pacific.” Feeling God’s guidance, the family moved to Fiji where Orville established the South Pacific Bible College and served as its president for 20 years. Students came from many island countries, and as they returned to their homelands, the gospel spread throughout the entire South Pacific basin.

Carlson concludes her book with accounts of the growing ministry in Fiji and their retirement years that followed. She summarizes the entire ministry with this paragraph:

As we look back on our yesteryears, we are thankful we answered God’s
call to go to lands afar. God’s blessings have far outweighed the hardships
and the difficult trials. When clouds were dark and heavy, God brought
sunshine after rain. His wonderful promise that He would never leave us
nor forsake us proved true over and over again. Then too, we were often
reminded that somewhere, somebody prayed!

Reviewed by Peggy Musgrove, a licensed Assemblies of God minister. She is a speaker, freelance writer, author, and prayer group leader. Her latest book, Musings of a Maraschino Cherry was released in 2004.