|After only five days together in Omaha, Gene proposed marriage to Susie. She wasn't at all sure what she felt, but it was the certain
alternative she needed in order to call CMA headquarters and ask whether she might stay in the states awhile and give consideration to this
proposal. The Alliance missions personnel assured her that they would far prefer her to stay in the states and make sure of her own mind
than to go overseas and feel ambivalent. "Besides," said the representative on the phone in Nyack, "we know you and we know Gene. It
looks like a good match: Go for it !"
So she did. A week later she packed a few things in her car and moved to New Mexico, where Gene was pastoring. He was directing a
family camp for the church at a beautiful site in the northern New Mexico mountains, so she got to know the whole church congregation
that had been his "family" for several years. By the middle of the week, Susan had received several assurances through the reading of
Scripture that she could trust Gene and follow him, though things were racing far faster than she was accustomed to doing things. "Yes,"
she told him one morning by a clear mountain stream, "I will marry you."
Two months later they did. After the wedding they flew to Princeton, New Jersey where an older lady friend had promised to give Gene
her car if he would come and pick it up. Then they drove slowly back through Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Ohio, etc. seeing
all the places that had been special to each of the two of them in their earlier life, showing them to each other.
When they finally arrived back in New Mexico they settled into a little adobe house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and tried to start a church
from zero. For a year they tried. No luck. During one 6 month period, the district superintendent asked Gene to drive to Alburquerque
twice a week to hold together the Alliance church there after its pastor left. He agreed to do so - provided that Susan could conduct the
"service" and preach in their home meetings in Santa Fe each Sunday. It was good experience for the recent female seminary graduate,
to be able to preach not just one token message a semester for a preaching class, but every 168 hours, i.e., every Sunday, for months on
end, the rhythm "real pastors" come to know so well.
During the week she taught in a high school for juveneille delinquents, and studied full time in the Master of Liberal Arts program at St.
John's University. In order to renew her teaching certification, she also took course work in three other universities.
After a year of nearly no responses, they realized they were not going to be able to start an Alliance church unless they dug in for years and
years, and they were both already 4 years older than the normal Alliance limit for appointing new missionaries. They decided to test the
waters about moving, and several providences opened up. In December 1984, with Susan pregnant with her first child, they moved to
Wheaton, Illinois. Gene found work as a teacher, a janitor, and a part-time pastor. Susan was able, for the first time in her life, to relax
and just rest. It was a good time.
May 23 and 24 Susan labored for 20 hours before a nurse looked at her carefully and said, "You need a C-section." Thus it was that
Malcolm Sawyer Smillie came into the world about an hour past midnight, a huge 9 lb, 11 oz baby with broad shoulders who, the doctor
said, would have caused her to die a hundred years ago.
* * *
Three months after that, the family of three left for Albertville, France. It was a wonderful year, quiet and peaceful, with only one thing to
do: learn French. Susan had never had to speak in another language before, and she was 36. But she learned to do it. On a trip to Spain
after only a few months of language learning, she heard herself explaining the entire gospel, carefully, eloquently, accurately, to a French
college student on a train ride.
* * *
After completing language study, the Smillies pastored a small church in southern France while the missionary/pastor went home for a few
months. There, despite meager spiritual support, Susie and Gene saw God use them mightily, and the church actually grew, an unusual
phenomenon, especially in summer, in France. The principal attraction seemed to be an outdoor barbeque and Bible study.
The African mission assigned Susan and Gene to fill a gap in the French Bible school, l'Institut Biblique Yamoussoukro. It was to be
their home for 5 of the next 8 years. Using her M.Div. training from ATS, Susan taught theology and Bible courses to the men students
full time, and organized a training program for the wives of the future pastors. She showed them how to organize a neighborhood
children's Bible club, how to study the Bible, and how to contribute to the ministry of the local church.
While learning the Baoule language in the town of Daloa, Susie went with Gene out to villages on weekends, sold Christian literature for
training disciples out of the back of our car in the villages, and taught weekly women's Bible studies in the Baoule language for two years.
(continued, part iii)
|Back in the USA, Susie has been teaching immigrants in college.
Our middle son Dave and his wife Cassie made her
a grandma in 2011
|The latest assignment of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, that Gene and Susan
travel around in Spain strengthening the six or more new African immigrant
congregations (using French, Spanish, and even some English),
offered Susan the opportunity to bring Navigator discipleship skills, Bible teaching
skills, and mentoring skills for new pastors/elders' wives, all into play together. She
had opportunities to teach seminars and train in EE.
|(to be continued . . . )
|. The second term was more consistent: one home, one assignment (the Bible school, where she served as Academic Dean, taught a full time
teaching load, and quietly directed the Women's Program from behind the scenes, encouraging local women leaders to step forward to center
* * *
Back in the States again, Susan began a Doctor of Education program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and got all A's in her first three
classes, but the money was simply not there for her to pursue a degree at the same time as Gene. So she focused on teaching: French, English,
computer laboratory skills, and general education requirements for those taking the GED test for a high school diploma.
* * *
When the family moved to Wheaton in 1998 to pastor the English congregation of Wheaton Chinese Alliance Church, while Gene worked on his
Ph.D. dissertation, she centered in exclusively on English as Second Language, which she taught at the Chinese Cultural Center, at College of
DuPage (a mixture of professional adults from all over the world), and at World Relief (a class of Mexican adults).
Her teaching of ESL at College of DuPage was so effective that she was asked to develop a seminar on how to teach English to immigrants, which
she published and delivered to other college teachers and assistants.
|The premature arrival of 3rd son Matthew, immediately preceded by her family's 6th move in 3 years, a case of
hepatitis, and two weeks of continuous prenatal labor, left Susan exhausted and prey to many African diseases: a
resistant, sometimes fatal, strain of malaria, parasites, etc.
Yet she somehow completed the Baoule language program, on time to go home on furlough . . .
|. . . our kids, who'd spent their
entire lives in Africa or France,
got to know their
grandparents, and America, for