Interview With Carol Pierce
My interview with Carol is the result of one of those 'God moments' or 'divine appointments' really...I found out about Carol quite by accident!
Her husband, John, (a photographer) stumbled upon my website and told me about his gorgeous red head wife, Carol. I then discovered this American couple has had quite an interesting life living overseas the past 20-plus years in Brazil and Paraguay while serving as Christian missionaries there.
So, of course I decided to ask Carol for an interview and I’m so pleased she agreed to it. I’ve found out some pretty cool stuff!
I love doing these interviews because they allow me to celebrate redheads and tell about ordinary people doing extraordinary things with their gifts and talents, while overcoming difficult situations. I guess I'm in awe of people like John and Carol. What an amazing journey they've had with their family.
John and Carol served as Christian missionaries through the organization New Tribes Mission (NTM), which plants Christian churches among unreached indigenous peoples around the world. The NTM missionary teams learn the tribal language and culture, help translate the Bible, teach local people their written language, equip the new churches, and more. Teams travel all over the world to follow their passion, often raising families along the way, just like John and Carol.
I found it fascinating learning more about her and her experiences, and I hope you enjoy finding out more like I did!
Well, grab your favorite beverage and let's get on with the interview....
1) Hello Carol!
Thanks for taking the time to chat and share with my readers.
Please take a moment to tell us about yourself and your family.
I am, of course, a redhead with freckles, 5 feet 10-1/2 inches tall. I am married to a wonderful man for 34 years! I have 3 children and 3 grandchildren with 1 more on the way, plus we have a beagle named ‘Scooter.’ Two of my children have the freckles and redhead complexion, and one has red highlights in her hair, but none of them is actually a true redhead. I'm looking forward to maybe someday having a little redhead grandchild.
2) Are there any other redheads in your family or are you the only one? If you were the only one, was it a shock?
What is your ancestry/heritage?
My (maternal) grandmother and at least 2 of her siblings were redheads. Then no redheads until I came along. Then one other great-grandchild (girl) who has red hair. I believe there is some Pennsylvania Dutch (grandmother's side) and French Canadian (grandfather's side).
3) Many redheads and their parents deal with the issue of teasing, and I often asked about this in my interviews. Did you experience teasing/bullying growing up? Any advice you’d care to share?
Yes, of course! I was called "red" "rusty" "freckles" -- and in Portuguese I was called "fire hair" and the tribal people in Paraguay called me "the red one".
One thing I did want to add was that I hated my red hair because of "feeling so different".
But one day I met this young man who "LOVED" my red hair and freckles and he constantly told me so! That really helped me to accept my red hair and actually begin to like it. He still tells me all the time that he LOVES my red hair! :) My freckles are fading now, especially on my face.
4) I understand you and your husband John had met and fell in love while serving at a missionary school in Brazil. How did you end up going to Brazil in the first place?
Yes, my parents were missionaries in Brazil (as were my husband's) and we both went to the same Mission School, and fell in love at ages 15 and 16. Then we both came back to the USA and went to Bible College and then were married. We then went to Mission's training and then we went to Paraguay as missionaries ourselves.
5)You served with the New Tribes Mission (NTM) for many years, mainly in North Paraguay among the Chamacoco Indians there and also in Brazil. The NTM web site states: "Though NTM, Christian missionaries plant churches among unreached indigenous peoples around the world." In a nutshell, what were your main duties there?
Actually we still are serving with New Tribes Mission. We were in Paraguay from 1981-2002. Then we went to Brazil and served there from 2002-2008. Now we are in Florida serving at our Mission's Home office.
My "main duties" amongst the Chamacoco people group were:
-- running a small medical clinic (caring for the sick indigenous people, delivering babies, vaccination programs, prenatal care, parasite treatments, etc.)
-- teaching the women and young teens (Bible studies and one-on-one discipleship) and children (Sunday school).
-- I also had input into the translation of the New Testament (which was being translated by a Wycliffe missionary).
I was also a wife and mother and homeschooled our 3 children. There was also a time when we processed documents for the indigenous people (birth certificates and I.D. cards).
I also played guitar in the tribal church and taught several young people how to play guitar so they could carry on with this ministry.
Then in Brazil I taught phonetics and English to Brazilian missionary candidates, and we worked with the youth and counseling with married couples.
6) Because we experienced this overseas with our own redhead kids, I have to ask. While living in Paraguay, did you receive extra attention because of your fair skin/red hair? If so, how did you handle this?
Yes!!! Of course I stood out, not just for my red hair but for my height and freckles. As a kid in Brazil I was told that if I rubbed a certain kind of toothpaste all over my skin that my freckles would go away. Then as an adult both in Brazil and Paraguay, everyone assumed that my hair was dyed. Even when I told them it wasn't, they didn't believe me.
Here's an example: One day in the tribal village, my daughters and I were swimming in the river. Several little girls (indigenous) joined us and then before we got out, we were washing up and washing our hair, etc. (We bathed in the river because we didn't have an indoor bathroom yet.) I had pink shampoo. I offered it to the little tribal girls for them to use it as well. They shook their heads and said: "Oh no, we don't want to use that shampoo, it will make our hair red too!".
I laughed and said, "If this pink shampoo makes your hair red, then how come by daughter's hair isn't red too?" (She was a blondie). They stood and pondered what I said, but still wouldn't use my pink shampoo!!! Ha ha.
And, how would you describe the Chamacoco Indians?
They are all brown-skinned and dark haired. Most have straight hair but a few have curly hair, lighter skin, etc., because in latter years they have been intermarrying with Paraguayans, Germans, Brazilians, etc. (They live on the border with Brazil and Bolivia.)
7) After living overseas for over 21 years, you’re now back in the United States. What has that transition been like? How has your faith in God helped you through all this?
Yes, the transition has been a bit difficult.
For example: I'm used to buying groceries to last for 2 months at a time in the village, so I find it hard to go to the grocery store every week, and I tend to buy several of each thing (canned goods, etc.) in order to not run out because that's what I did for almost 22 years. I placed a huge order that would hopefully last for up to 2 months because the boat that brought our supplies only came once every month or 6 weeks.
Adjusting to living in the USA has been "by the grace of God" but I actually don't feel like I "stand out" here in the USA like I did in South America. We still speak 4 different languages in our home most every day, we still drink the Paraguayan tea and the Brazilian coffee. And I will always cook all the foods that we loved from both countries.
We always wonder "What would the Chamacoco people think if they saw this?" We are in contact with them through Facebook, cell phone, and email, believe it or not! We miss all of our dear friends from South America and always will!
We saw God provide for our family for 28 years on a foreign field, and we continue to see Him be faithful to us today here in the states.!
8) Looking back, can you state briefly what were the hardest and easiest things about living and serving overseas for so many years?
(Home in Chamacoco Village)
-- The hardest things about living overseas are:
1) being away from family and friends
2) living conditions that are difficult (no running water, no electricity, unsafe water that needed to be boiled, then cooled before it was drinkable, etc.)
3) daily trusting God for each situation that would come our way especially medical emergencies such as: gunshot wounds, eclampsia, snake bites victims, etc.).
-- The easiest thing about serving overseas was being right where we KNEW GOD WANTED US TO BE and knowing that God was there with us!!!!
9) Now that you are living in Florida, your husband John has begun a new enterprise in his life: Photography. How did this all start?
Actually the first year we were married he got a 35mm Vivitar camera and began taking pictures of flowers and nature in black and white and then he developed them himself in our bathroom! But when we left for the mission field, film was expensive and very expensive to have developed so he just took pictures of our family and our ministry and then sent the film back to the states to have it developed here.
It wasn't until digital cameras were more affordable that he got a 3.2 megapixel camera with a macro setting on it and in 2006 that he "took up his hobby" again! No film was involved!!! Since then he's been able to get a much better camera and his photography is gaining local recognition. I'm so proud of him!
10) What about you? What do you feel God has next for you in this new chapter of your life back in the States?
I'm very much involved with working at our mission's home office (we are in "Member Services") as well as caring for aging parents and I also care for my granddaughter after school. So for now, that's what I feel God has placed in my life for me to be involved in. But we are always open to what God brings into our lives each day.
11) Briefly, what advice can you give to anyone considering serving in a mission trip overseas?
By all means, GO. Serve and see the need first hand. Then pray about how God might use you in full-time service. I felt the call of God in my life when I was 18. I'm SO GLAD I obeyed and went to the mission field.
I have had so many people tell me that they, at one time in their lives, had felt the call of God to serve but didn't go. They ALWAYS say they regret it deeply!!! If you do go into service for God, you will never be disappointed; it is very fulfilling, and God's blessing in your life in ways you never knew possible will be something you will never regret!......'THE END'......
Wow, what an adventure! I hope her story and experiences in this interview have inspired some of you to go see the world and help make it a better place, no matter where you are 'planted'...
Again my thanks to Carol for taking time from her busy day to share from her heart about her struggles and triumphs, plus her faith in God that has sustained her through it all.
WANT MORE INFO?
-- New Tribes Mission's website is http://www.ntm.org/
-- John's photography websites are: JPphotos and also at Photo Inspiration
To my readers, let me know your thoughts on the interview and I can post them below.
|-- YOUR COMMENTS -- |
"We've known John since he was a little boy and Carol since she was a teenager and continue to keep in touch with them. We appreciate so much the way they have allowed the Lord to work in their lives all these years.
Thank you so much for this interview and allowing others to become acquainted with this sweet red head and her dear husband."
"I enjoyed reading this. I met Carol and John while on a mission trip down the Paraguay river in 2001. I actually was in their home (the one seen in your article). I was so impressed with their ministry and lifestyle. They have so many more stories you could tell."
Kelle (United States)
"We serve with Carol and John at NTM's US headquarters and they are a great blessing. It's fun to hear more about their previous adventures in serving God!"
Alice (United States)
"I enjoyed your interview with Carol Pierce. We met her parents at a Christian Camping Association meeting when we were newly married in 1966 and have supported their ministry with New Tribes Mission for many years. Now they are retired at NTM in Florida, and we receive photos and updates from John and Carol. Thanks for the nice interview."
Donna (United States)
I've gotten to know John and Carol Pierce while working with them here in Sanford, Florida. I especially enjoy John's pictures and his good sense of humor. I can relate with a lot of things Carol shared, especially the part about buying extra groceries so you won't run out! We lived in Bolivia for 20 years and I still have a tendency to overbuy as well!"
Jackie (United States)
Plus, if you have someone particular in mind you’d like me to chat with for a future interview! -- Just drop me a note at my 'Contact Me' page. And thanks for stopping by...
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