For years, Chuck and I had been following a plan for our lives, which we thought was a good plan that would succeed. But as they say, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Thus, it was while we were living in the Valley that we finally found out the real reason why Chuck had put so many years into going back to school to get his master’s and doctoral degrees in Linguistics.
It had been our plan that Chuck should get a doctoral degree so that he could go back to teaching in a Bible college and be able to help the college get better accreditation. Wherever we went, we spoke to people connected with our Bible colleges about the possibility of him coming to teach there when he got his doctoral degree. He outlined his program to these people, usually the academic dean or the chairman of the missions department, and they would say, “That sounds great. Let us know when you finish.”
Well, Chuck finally graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with his doctorate in Linguistics on June 16, 1971. However, when he contacted the Bible colleges to whom he had previously spoken, each one said, “Although what you have sounds good, we just can’t afford it,” meaning, they could not take him on as a professor. We could understand why they said this because if a person has a doctorate, it is understood that he should be paid more. The fact that he would be teaching linguistics, not a very popular subject, would make his class sizes too small for them to afford what they thought he would be asking in salary. If he had a large class load, then the school might be able to afford it, but with fewer in the classroom who would be taking his classes, they couldn’t afford it. When the last school he had really wanted to go to turned him down, he was stunned. If he had been hit in the stomach with a baseball bat, it couldn’t have hurt him any more than that. Now what should we do?
From somewhere we got the idea we should go and do it ourselves. We should go to a foreign field and do a Bible translation. So that year, when it neared Christmas, we put out our regular Christmas letter with the usual statement about each of our children and also that we now planned on going to the mission field to do a Bible translation.
We didn’t ask for support because we wanted the Lord to lead us, and although we didn’t feel it would be wrong to ask for support, we just didn’t want to at that time. However, when people got our letters, they started to send us gifts of five or ten dollars, or sometimes more than that. One church, University Christian Church, had us come in to talk to their missions committee. They told us one of the missionaries they had been supporting was going to be returning to the States permanently, and they wanted to know if we would like to receive the amount they had been giving to her. Wow! We were thrilled. We felt the Lord was definitely leading us to go to the field. Of course, we took them up on it and were very pleased they deemed us worthy.
In 1972, I turned in my resignation to Newhall School District, and that summer I went to school at Wycliffe Bible Translator’s Summer Institute of Linguistics at University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, to take a beginning course in linguistics and Bible translation work. Up till then, I had no linguistics background at all, so this helped me to understand what I would be doing as Chuck’s helper in Bible translation. We still were not sure where we would be going at that time, though the Philippines was in our minds. After all, Chuck had done his dissertation on one of their languages, and he understood how Philippine languages worked, so it seemed right that we should go there.
With the help of Brother Harold DeBar, a member of University Christian Church, we set up an organization called Scripture Translation for Every People, Inc. (STEP) which would be the organization that would send us to the Philippines, and which we would work through while there. It was set up so the people who shared with us financially in the work of Bible translation would have their gifts to our mission be tax deductible. Harold DeBar was the first chairman of our board of directors, and the Articles of Incorporation provide for fifteen directors. We had a Vice Chairman, Chuck Manahl; and Betty Casebeer, Chuck’s sister, became the first Secretary/Treasurer of the organization. She continued in that status until January 2012. We selected the directors from some of the churches that were supporting us and from our friends who were interested in the work we would be doing. Mainly they were people who came from University Christian Church, but eventually, there were others who came from Hillcrest Christian Church and other places.
From the very beginning, the two main churches behind us in this venture were University Christian Church and Hillcrest Christian Church. We have appreciated their backing ever since. When Hillcrest Christian Church merged with Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, they kept us on as their missionaries, even enlarging their contribution until it became the largest contributing congregation to our mission.
We didn’t want to have anyone take care of our house while we were gone because that would be too much of a burden for somebody. None of our children would be able to take care of it for us, so we put it up for sale. So one thing we decided was we would need to sell our Rich Allen, John Baker, Lance Haliday, Paul Hunter, Dave English house on Lassen Street. We put this up as a fleece before the Lord, in the tradition of Gideon (Judges 6:36-40), so we would know His will about our going to the mission field. If we could sell our house, then we would know His will, and it sold almost immediately. In future years, we often put out the fleece to determine the Lord’s will for our lives.
We knew our children would be taken care of. Nancy was going to Cal State University at Northridge (CSUN) majoring in Anthropology. Ron was in the Army serving in Korea, Ken was going to SJBC in San Jose, California, and Merilee went there, too. Nancy found an apartment in the Valley so she could commute to CSUN easily. She was also working in a clothing store called The Gap. She had a little car she was using. We gave her some of our furniture so she could get set up there. Ron was already in the Army, so he had his place wherever he went, and with Ken going to San Jose, we gave him some of our furniture to use where he was staying. He had his motorcycle to use as transportation. With Merilee going to San Jose Bible College, and living near the school, she didn’t need any transportation immediately, but when we left for the Philippines in 1974, she went down with us to the ship in San Francisco and claimed our car, a blue Chevrolet 4-door sedan. This was Ken and Merilee’s second year at San Jose. One year, Nancy had also gone there, and she and Merilee had been roommates with others in a private residence near the college.
With the children all set, and the house sold, and our other affairs all in order, we were now ready for the next step in our plan.