The Story of Ruth Brooker Saint


by Martha Saint Berberian (edited version)


June 2001

So here is a very warm and human look at a woman who, in her childhood, never dreamed of serving the Lord overseas, and yet God called her to missionary work. She was led to marry a man who, for fourteen years, served as an evangelist in the United States. Then in 1955 the family packed up and moved permanently to South America, settling in Cordoba, Argentina, from where Phil traveled to many cities to preach the gospel, drawing those famous chalk pictures for thousands, and seeing hundreds and perhaps thousands of souls saved over the years.

Mom was an important part of Dad’s ministry, “holding the fort” and keeping the home running smoothly during his many absences, and rearing her six children in the fear of the Lord. She never considered herself a deeply spiritual person, and yet her influence has been a positive one for her children, grandchildren, and her many friends in the United States and Argentina. Through the summer conference center that they ran in the hills of Cordoba, she made hundreds of friends and was deeply loved and respected.

Her spirit of service is one that shines brightly. May the Lord raise up many more like Ruth Brooker Saint, a dedicated missionary mother, who did what she could to make her world a bit brighter, a bit happier, with more of Jesus.

Martha Saint Berberian


In the  1852 a man called Henry May had a daughter, Elizabeth, born August 12, in Marlborough. In 1846, a man called James Brooker, a bailiff, had a son called George Brooker, who became a laborer.

Elizabeth May was married to George Brooker on Christmas Day, 1876 at Christ Church, in the Parish of Hornsey, by the Reverend Edmonstone.

They had five children, as follows: Ellen born 1877, Mary born 1878, Alice born 1880, and Amy in 1884. (Amy died in 1897.) And August 20th, 1885, Archibald Brooker was born.  Ellen married George Deller, a carpenter. Mary was a cook, and married Charles Gilbert, a locomotive fireman. Alice worked as a chambermaid, and married Edwin Cordery, a horse trainer.

Archibald Brooker attended Crouch End School in London until July of 1897. George Brooker died December 29 1898 at the age of 52, buried in the cemetery of Horley, Surrey. That same year Archibald was apprenticed to William John Boyle, General Printers and Manufacturing, during seven years. He lived those years with his sister Ellen. On May 17, 1907, George embarked from Liverpool for the United States, arriving in Detroit, Michigan May 26th, 1907, and settled in the city of Lansing, Michigan.

His mother Elizabeth and her daughters decided to go to the United States in 1911, settling in Chicago.

Harriet Merle Gibbs was born in 1882 in Adams, New York. In 1909 she met George Brooker in Chicago. They were married June 1st, 1909 in the Mark Episcopal Church. They made their home in Chicago, on Wilcox Avenue. On August 9, 1910, they had a son called Henry George. But Harriet died in 1912 of tuberculosis, and was buried in Watertown, New York. Henry went to live with his aunt Ellen.

On February 4th, 1916, Archibald was naturalized by the Superior Court of Cook County in Chicago. Henry moved back to live with him.

Gertrude Vreeland descendd from the first settlers of the United States—the Vreeland name means “Free Land”. Gertrude was born October 7, 1889 in Illinois, the second daughter of Walter Vreeland and Ida Ellen Spiker.

Archibald and Gertrude married in Chicago, June 17th, 1916. Archibald’s second son was born June 11th 1917, christened Walter Addison. In 1919 they moved to Wheaton, Illinois, where they lived on what today is Liberty Drive. On June 1st, 1919, a baby sister was born, Ruth Gertrude.

In 1925 Archibald began working for Cuneo Press as a monotype operator. He was 40 years old. Cuneo Press was located then at the Sears-Roebuck building in Chicago. Most of the work was printing the Sears-Roebuck catalogue. He earned about eleven dollars a week.

Archibald, called Arch or Duke, was a talented man, in spite of the fact that he had left school at the age of twelve. He built his own workshop, made his own radio, build a cabinet for the grandfather clock which is still at the Liberty home, and made his own wine from the grapes in his backyard. During the years of the Depression, Archibald did not have much work. He almost lost his home. When the Cuneo Press moved to another location in 1942, Archibald gave up his job. In his last years he had trouble working, and finally died in January of 1944.

Elizabeth had applied to old-age assistance from Welfare, and in 1937 received a monthly check of twenty one dollars. She lived her last years in the British Home in Brookfield, Illinois, and died at the age of ninety seven in 1953 of pneumonia. She is buried along with her daughter Ellen, who had died nine years earlier, in Acacia Park Cemetery in Chicago.

 The breeze blew through the branches of the tall elms trees that lined the streets of the town of Wheaton, that November day in 1937. The high school band was playing during the Armistice Day parade, wearing their smart orange and black uniforms (our high school colors), marching proudly through the streets of my hometown. In the band the girls wore white skirts, the fellows white pants and military hats.

I led the band as the drum majorette, wearing a white uniform. I wore long trousers, high boots, fitted jacket and high hat, and marked the time with my baton. Mother had made my uniform from my brother’s old flannel suit. I had practiced long hours and was selected for this role. I also led the band in the Memorial Day parade, and twirled my baton for the half times at the football games, leading the formation of the “W” for Wheaton.

I loved athletics and in high school I was involved in most of the sports activities, being on the tumbling and track team, on the swimming team, playing baseball and doing high jumping. I especially loved basketball; I could make a basket from any place on the floor, but I was so short I couldn’t be a guard so I just shot baskets. I won several sports competitions. In the wintertime we would ice skate on the pond and in the summertime I would spend all day at the pool.

From fourth grade on my mother had taken me every week to dancing school where I studied toe, tap and ballet. My teacher was Miss Baum, who came from Chicago on the train. I became friends there with another girl, Carol Cole. I would go often to the Gretna Farm where she lived and sometimes she would spend the night at my house in Wheaton. I was very adventurous and once when we were both about eleven years old, Carol and I went exploring in an underground tunnel in the area of Wheaton. When my friend was scared, I told her “Come on. Just a little farther.”

I occasionally attended Sunday school, but the Bible wasn’t a book that I ever read. My parents didn’t attend church regularly. I didn’t know the reality of Jesus Christ and salvation. Never in my farthest dreams would I have imagined that some day I would become a missionary!


I was born in Chicago June 1, 1919, and grew up in Wheaton where my parents moved when I was six months old. I had a very happy childhood. My mother was very close to me as I was her only daughter; both of my brothers, George and Walt, were older than I. My father was Archibald George Brooker (Arch), who had come over from England in his late teens and settled in the United States; he was a monotype operator who commuted by train to Chicago.
My mother was Gertrude Rosetta Vreeland, an efficient pianist and professional secretary. She made the best chocolate cake in town and canned fruits and vegetables every year

I didn’t play a band instrument but I loved music. When there was an opening in the band for a drum player, I signed up. The band director liked me; he said I had good rhythm, so I joined the band and played the drums.

Later there was an opening for a majorette.  So I became drum majorette, leading the band.  We marched in football games, in the Memorial Day and Armistice Day parades and any special function. We played in the stands during the games and during half time we performed.  I would lead the band and spin my baton.

One summer a high school friend, Alyce Gilman, who lived near me at Wheaton, invited me to a youth camp at Winona Lake, Indiana. The five-day camp had swimming, sports, and horseback riding which I enjoyed. I was 15 and still in high school. What appealed to me was the whole atmosphere of the camp. Such happiness!  We were about 150 to 200 young people.

The main speaker at camp was Evan Welsh.  He took a personal interest in me, and talked to me on the lawn one afternoon. In a loving, fatherly way he helped me to see that life without Christ didn’t amount to very much. I don’t remember hearing the gospel before my camp experience.

I made my personal commitment to Christ, together with many others, back home in Wheaton at the “Camp Echoes Service” in the College Church, across from the Wheaton campus.  It was my first time there and I attended that church from then on; Evan Welsh was the pastor then. I lived just a few blocks from the College Church and Wheaton College campus.

During the depression years I worked as a cashier at the A & P Market for .35 cents an hour. The manager was a Baptist Christian and I enjoyed working there.

I Get A Bachelor of Arts and an Artistic Bachelor!
Wheaton, Illinois 1919-1941

When I graduated from high school I was granted a scholarship for MacMurray College for Women, in Jacksonville, Illinois. I accepted and attended there a year where I was on the swim team.

I transferred to Wheaton College for my sophomore year. I attended College Church and Pastor Welsh baptized me at age 21. At Wheaton we had gospel teams and went into Chicago to speak and sing in several missions there.

When World War II started in 1941 the government drafted a lot of the students. Unless a young man was in the ministry or studying to be a minister in seminary he had to go. Many fellows lost their lives. My two brothers signed up.

I knew Phil for three years at Wheaton. On campus I knew him as a fine young fellow, a preacher, artist and evangelist. I don’t remember speaking with him personally then. He was a leader, a VIP on campus. Then he asked me to accompany him to the banquet. He seemed to know that there was an understanding between us. I wasn’t sure yet what to think at that time. After that he came to the house. We were all busy with exams and all, but he told me he could hardly concentrate.

One evening while we were sitting out on the porch swing, Phil proposed to me. He said, “Would you seriously pray about becoming my life companion?”

Before I married Phil, I went to spend a couple of weeks to meet his family in Pennsylvania. Phil was one of eight children, so you can imagine the size of the house. Sam was the only one married at the time; so all the other boys were single. It was fun to meet so many boys!  Phil’s Dad honored and respected women as God planned, and this was instilled in those boys.
On October 18th, 1941 we were married. Phil turned 29 the following day. Phil was seven years my senior (28) because he had been an evangelist for several years before entering Wheaton. Though he was older, I never felt the difference. He always said that he knew the Lord had kept him out of college for seven years for the purpose of meeting me, his future wife.

Our beloved pastor, Evan Welsh, married us. (I think Mom mentioned he himself married very late, so he might have been a bachelor then?? We visited him in the States in our first trip alone together, he was in Uncle Barney’s nursing home, his mind was gone.)

He gave us a booklet called Lovers Always, and wrote the following, “Dear Ruth and Phil, Lovers Always is just what we expect from you—for you know Him! And He promises that the paths of the just shall be as a shining light, shining more and more unto “the perfect day”.  He was a man of God, and a wonderful influence on my life.

As Phil said, “In June we got out of something, and in October we got into something.” Somewhere I read, “The secret of being a saint is being a saint in secret.” Looking back, Phil said, “It’s a good thing you were a Saint before I married you or we wouldn’t have made those 51 years!”

Phil had graduated with a BS in Anthropology and I with a BA in Education. After we got married in Wheaton, we rented an apartment near campus. While Phil attended graduate school, taking Spanish, German and Geology, I set about learning to cook, with my Mother helping a lot. After that we moved to the East Coast.

My brother Walt enlisted during the Second World War because he felt the country needed men. Even though he was married and his wife was expecting, he still felt he should go. He was about 25. Walt’s wife Polly had her baby boy (Walt, Jr. “Skeeter”) while Walt was missing in action, and for a long time they didn’t know what happened. We found out later he was a prisoner of war for almost a year in Germany and suffered terribly. We were on the East Coast when he returned, but we always kept in touch through letters. Polly, who was always like a sister to me, would write and he would add a note at the end. My brother George was in the war too, but he wasn’t sent overseas, only to the West Coast.

Hawthorne, New Jersey – 1942-1950

December 1942

We lived in three apartments in the space of one month. After Ruth Ellyn was born (December 6, 1942), with bitter cold and snow a couple of feet high, Phil found an apartment in Midland Park, just outside of Hawthorne. She was diagnosed with what is known today as cystic fibrosis.

ANOTHER GIRL! – October 1944
The best thing happened when Martha came: I lost the fear that the other children would be born with cystic fibrosis too. Martha was born in Paterson on October 23rd, 1944, when Phil was 32 and I was 25. Martha was a playmate for Ruth Ellyn, and I was at home anyway. I still had to take special care of Ruth Ellyn, and took her to the doctor regularlyA HOME OF OUR OWN

A BOY! – November 1947
When David was born, Sister Bertha, one of the deaconesses from Liberty Corner, came for two weeks. I was so thankful for all those goodies stored in the basement because she only had to cook meat and get bread. I did a lot of canning when the kids were small.

TWIN BOYS!  – June 1950
I had Ruth Ellyn, Martha and David, so in my fourth pregnancy I wasn’t in such a hurry to go to a check up with Dr. Throm, who was called Dr. Stork because he was a favorite doctor for pregnant women, very capable. I went to him when I was four or five months along, and he checked and said, “I’ll see how your heart is.” I said, “You won’t find it.” He says, “What!” and I said, “My heart’s in Japan!” So I told him what Phil did, traveling and serving the Lord through preaching and drawing. So every month Dr. Thorn checked me out, but never discerning that I had twins. Phil was serving with the Pocket Testament League in Japan. He returned for the due date, but I went past  my date and he went away to a camp in Virginia.

I knew and loved Nate and Marj both. I met him of course when he was single, and when they married we were living in New Jersey and since they were missionaries, they didn’t have much money, so she borrowed my wedding dress and was married in it. Every time they came up from Ecuador they’d come and spend a few weeks with us in Hawthorne, and then in Greensboro. They came up for deputation work and to check the kids for amebas.

North Carolina - 1950-1955

In September of 1950 we moved down to Greensboro.

Sunday mornings I had the joy of helping Virginia Petty in the Projects, apartment buildings the government had built for the blacks. After leaving our kids in Sunday School, we’d go there and hold Sunday school in the Projects. I’d teach a flannelgraph story or play the piano and sing. Lots of children heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this way.

In 1954 Phil made his first South American trip, visiting Uruguay and Argentina. When he came home and said, “I feel definitely that we should go to South America” I wasn’t surprised. I think the hardest thing was actually thinking of selling all our stuff and traveling with five kids. Ruth Ellyn was 12, Martha 10, David 7, and the twins were 4. We needed to sell the furniture and the house, and pack the dishes. We applied for visas a year later but Peron’s regime was a mess and the visas were refused or just lost in a barrage of mail. But Phil’s faith was there; it challenged me.


Our family left for Costa Rica in December of 1955.

We had been in Costa Rica only a few weeks when in January 1956 we got word of the death of the five young men by the Auca Indians in Ecuador. Nate, Phil’s brother was one of them, and four other precious men. It was a terrible shock.

When we completed our year in Costa Rica, Phil had obtained all the papers to go to Argentina. He said “Well, you go down to Quito with the children for these two months, and I’ll go up the States and do some deputation work.”

Ecuador - January and February 1957

When we arrived in Quito, it was after a year’s language study in Costa Rica and it was on our way to Argentina. It was just a year since the five men had been killed including Phil’s brother Nate, so it was my privilege to meet the five widows who were all there. In fact, my sister-in-law Marj, a nurse, was head of the guest house where I stayed with the five children, within the HCJB compound. They were a wonderful two months.

Marj Saint arranged for us to fly out to Shell Mera to visit the place where she and Nate had lived when Nate was killed. The plane with no seats was like an empty shell, and we had to fly through a pass between two mountains. It was exciting as we could hardly get through. We spent the night in the home where Marj and Nate had lived and we met two or three missionary families who had known Nate and had been part of the rescue team that went in.

While I stayed in Shell Mera, Rachel, Phil’s sister, arranged for Ruth Ellyn and Martha, and Marj’s son Stevie to fly out to see her. A picture was taken of the three of them with Dayuma and Rachel and the other Auca ladies. Rachel was learning the Auca language from Dayuma at that time. This was before she and Betty Elliot went into the tribe.

This visit to Shell Mera was special, knowing it was where my brother-in-law had lived. He had built the water system for the house; he was so creative.  

Argentina - 1957-1960

The Lord helped us find a house on the outskirts of the city of Córdoba, in Villa Centenario, within a short time after arriving and it was paid for with the money from the Greensboro house.  For four years the old house served as home, church and Sunday School. The front porch was the pulpit. The music and Phil’s easel with his artwork brought many neighbors to see and hear the gospel message. We held Sunday school classes in the garage and dining room. With another missionary couple, we started visiting and inviting ladies for tea. During those first few months of getting settled, Phil was home all the time, and we got the children into the Spanish Christian school, William C. Morris. It opened that year, 1957. Martha was the first to graduate from sixth grade and David the first to go through high school.


We rented an old battered tent and had someone come to speak (José Balián) and Phil drew and we had a singer.  The Plymouth Brethren (Hermanos Libres) churches cooperated. It was our first effort to evangelize our neighborhood. When things at home were normal and running smoothly, and I could handle it, then Phil began to travel with ministry, holding campaigns in various cities with excellent results.

A SIXTH CHILD IS BORN – February 1959
Evelyn was born in Argentina February 12, 1959. As with the other children, we tried to time the date so that Phil could be home, but Evelyn was born when Phil was in Trenque Lauquen preaching in a big campaign.

During this time Ruth Ellyn had been out at a summer sanitarium where she got special food, diet and medicine. Ruth Ellyn told me there at the clinic, “Mommy, this is it.” I didn’t think this was the end really, I always had hope for recovery. When Phil came he saw that she needed better care than what she was getting. The police station next door furnished the car and Ruth Ellyn was rushed to the Hospital Privado that Wednesday. They did everything they could for her.

When Ruth Ellyn was near death, there was a peace that both Phil and I had in our hearts. We had done everything for her in the States, and in Argentina and she was happy with her life. She was a happy girl. She’d had her setbacks of course, and those terrible coughs every morning. She could never lie flat to sleep and was always propped up.
We sang, though she couldn’t join in. She enjoyed listening. We sensed that she knew she was going. There was such peace. God had prepared both her and us. There was no pain that day, and she was propped up as usual. She talked about Heaven, what it would be like, and who she would see first. “Jesus!” she said. She told us “I won’t need my clothes any more.” She wasn’t upset. She had suffered patiently with her cough for so long, and she was 17, tiny in body but with a good mind.

Dad preached the gospel that Sunday night in the tent campaign in Residencial América. Dad was in the Lord’s work by day, and each night he had been at the hospital
At that Monday night meeting, I remember being there and my heart felt for Phil, because I knew how hard it was for him. I was standing there, just a part of the audience. I think I lost my fear watching him. I suffered more because I knew the battle was more Phil’s to be up there and speak and draw because he had to face the people and minister. I would have similar difficulty if I had that responsibility. I couldn’t sing for weeks, I’d get all choked up. Music made me real teary.
Joe was still bedridden with hepatitis. There were special tent meetings next door and Joe used our bedroom so he could hear the music and preaching. Dad drew of course. After one meeting Joe asked, “Mommy, I miss Ruth Ellyn so much. When will I see her again?” We told him, “Be sure you’re the Lord’s and you will.” He prayed and asked Jesus into his heart.

Ministry to Foreign Students and Help at Camp
Argentina, 1961-1990

My children and I returned to Argentina by boat from New York to Buenos Aires, bringing several barrels of things, and settled back in our home in Córdoba, which is a twelve hour bus ride from the capital city. Phil came by plane and got involved in his evangelistic ministry, using a large tent.

Knowing Martha as a little girl, I knew he’d have to be someone special to suit her and I think she found him, somebody who really loves the Lord. She didn’t want anything less than someone all out for the Lord. I knew that. She was a quiet person who loved to read. She could sew, knit, and crochet; there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do. She liked sports too, out on the bikes or horseback riding. Her pony tail would swing back and forth as she would gallop down the dirt road in front of our house.

It was on April 17, 1967 that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. God had already blessed other family members with this special experience, and on this occasion I was with “Uncle” Keith Bentson.
pad. We prayed with thanks for our having heard him and saving him. It sure could have been a WE BECOME IN-LAWS IN 1965
Martha married Samuel Berberian in Buenos Aires on December 3, 1965. Our family traveled across the flat Argentine pampas in the big truck some 10 hours trip from Cordoba, and Phil proudly walked his 21-year-old daughter down the aisle, behind little seven-year-old Evelyn who was the flower girl.

One summer we took a vacation to a beautiful lake in the Sierras, little realizing it would be the last formal vacation for all the family. One day Phil rowed out on the lake and was gone several hours. When he returned, he was enthusiastically dreaming of building a Christian camp on a property he had seen that afternoon, in the middle of nowhere.

For many years Phil had a vision of having a summer camp ministry in Argentina, similar to that of Word of Life, and when he saw that property facing the lake, he decided to get it and open a conference center. He located a colonel, Mr. Molina, who was one of the owners. As part of the payment he asked us to restore an old home nearby, which we did. We bought 200 acres of property.

Phil named it Lake Valle (Valle del Lago) and it was about five hours drive from the city of Cordoba, on a dirt road with thousands of curves and many narrow bridges. (Today the new highway is totally paved, and with less curves and takes three and a half hours driving.)

We lived the first several summers in a tent, when I sewed blankets together to make sleeping bags.

Our family lived in a tent at Lake Valley for the first summers, really primitive! When the wind would blow, someone would need to go out and be sure the stakes were still holding okay. I sewed blankets together to make sleeping bags.

The first permanent building that went up was the kitchen and dining room (that was used for meetings too). After that began the building of a series of “motel” buildings for the guests.

Lynn is another miracle. The Lord brought Lynn down to help at camp. She had read Phil’s testimony and wrote to us saying what a blessing it had been, adding, “Is there any way I can come down and help for the summer? I just graduated from the University.” So Phil said, “Come on down.” So she came, bag and baggage, to our door and from the moment I greeted her at the door, she was like another daughter and like a big sister to Evelyn. At the time the twins were away at military service.

When it was time for Lynn to go back, because her visa was out, Evelyn said, “Oh, don’t go back till you meet my brothers, Jim and Joe.” So she renewed her visa by going to Paraguay, and came back to Córdoba. She and Evelyn went to Buenos Aires to welcome Jim and Joe back from Germany. They had been away two years and it was just love at first sight for Jim and Lynn.

During the first few years, until we had electricity, we used the motor of the tractor to pump water from the well. After the motor worked for two hours it needed to rest two hours so that it wouldn’t over heat. Jim and Joe had just come back from Germany after two years of military service. We’d been praying for a real work in both their hearts. It was two or three o’clock in the morning and it was Joe’s turn to take care of the motor. So this night he was there under the stars and moon near the garden, and as he tells us he said the Lord was so real to him. He came rushing up to our cabin, opened the door, and said, “Mom and Dad, Jesus is real!” He knew about it in his head, but this time it came to his heart. It was a wonderful, beautiful change. His sweetheart was Susy Lemos, who he had met because her father was a pastor and every summer he came and preached at camp, and for a couple of years he was the camp administrator.

Then God did a miracle with Jim about two weeks later

At that time Jim wasn’t interested in spiritual things at all, so here they were at camp after a couple of weeks. Susy’s father, “Lucho” Lemos had preached and Phil had stood up to close the meeting in prayer. He had just started praying when Jim, who was sitting at the very back, came flying forward to hug Phil and started to cry. God had touched him. It was a blessing to witness Jim and Joe being baptized in the pool together, by Joe’s future father-in-law. There were so many blessings, so many miracles at camp, so many lives that have been changed.

Jim and Lynn Hulstedt got married in Arizona the summer of 1975 (August 17), and Martha and Sam with their two children represented the family as we weren’t able to go. Joe and Susy Lemos decided to “tie the knot” April 3rd, 1976 in Cordoba, Argentina, and the following year, David and Edith Lalli got married October 22nd, 1977.

When the children were small, Phil made trips every two or three years to the States to have meetings, where he would do chalk drawings and give a missionary challenge about the work we were doing in Argentina. As the children grew up and left home, only Evelyn was left in the “nest”. As she hadn’t been to the States since she was two years old, she didn’t remember it. When she graduated from high school at the age of 18, we decided to take her with us. It was an exciting experience for her.

When we arrived in the States we had no vehicle and needed a large one for all the equipment that Phil always took with him, especially his large chalk easel, so at this same church Phil just mentioned the need for a car, to rent or loan for a period of two or three months. A man came up and said the Lord had already spoken to him that his Dodge station wagon was to be used for the Lord’s work. So we had a car to travel in.

We had scheduled a visit in the home of Billy and Ruth Graham at their log cabin home in North Carolina. We had known them from Wheaton, though Phil and I graduated a year or two before they did. Billy was supposed to have been there, but he had to leave on some emergency, so we spent a lovely afternoon with Ruth, and Evelyn sang and played the guitar for her. Their home was cozy and isolated in beautiful woods.

At the end of that trip we visited David Wilkerson (of Teen Challenge) out in Texas where his ministry was based. We visited some of the farms where recovering drug addicts could begin to remake their lives. We still had no money for our return tickets, and after a lovely visit, he offered to pay for our tickets. He is an amazing man.

We three traveled again to the States in 1977, when we visited Martha in Guatemala for a short time. Then Evelyn flew to San Diego, California as she had been offered a scholarship for six months Bible training at the Morris Cerullo Institute. Besides her classes she worked as a translator. I traveled with Phil during that time, then Evelyn joined us for a month and returned home with us. She would play the guitar and we’d sing duets together. At that time we were on PTL Club in Charlotte, with much blessing. We crossed paths with quite a few Christian personalities like the Blackwood family. We also did PTL programs in Spanish with Elmer Bueno, and we also taped some programs in Nashville, Tennesee.

On several other occasions I traveled with Phil to the States, and every three or four years we were able to fly from Miami to Guatemala to visit Martha and her family. These were special times of sharing, and Martha was even then collecting family stories with her cassette recorder, and I began sharing things of my childhood.

For several years we had a twenty-four hour “coffee shop” and provided housing for university students. It all started out when a couple of Paraguayan fellows showed up one day saying that someone in Asunción had given them our name and they wanted to know about a church and a place to stay. We gave them a good meal and took them to church at América Residencial, a flourishing church in the city.

Phil had bought the lot next door and made it into a studio where a number of Christian films were made. When that ministry was discontinued, the building was adapted to accommodate several rooms for these students. Then they began bringing their unsaved friends because there was such a happy environment.
A tall, young man from Peru showed up one day. Humberto Jimenez was studying electrical engineering at the university of Cordoba, had a job, and needed a place to stay. Humberto recalls: “I had just arrived for the first time at the Saint home, a total stranger and a new convert. As soon as I arrived, I left my bag of dirty clothes and went to my work. When I returned hours later, I didn’t find my bag of clothes and I was frightened as I thought my only clothes had been stolen. I walked down to the yard below to find out what happened, and saw all my clothes washed and hanging out to dry on the clothesline. I couldn’t understand how a missionary lady could have done this favor for me when I hadn’t even met her yet. That made a profound impact on my life.”

Humberto later felt God calling him to part-time ministry, then to full-time ministry. He would sometimes joke, “When I saw what Mrs. Saint had done for me, the least I could do was marry her daughter.” Evelyn married Humberto December 25th, 1982. The young, lost Peruvian student became my son-in-law, and later became my pastor. Now the nest was really empty!

Their first child, Ariel (“lion of God”) , was born August 1984

 Nathalie Ruth was born in 1988, a wonderfully healthy baby, a day before Phil and I returned from the States. Then Sebastian, “Junior” was born in 1991.
For Evelyn’s first babies I had stuffed my suitcases with cloth diapers from the States. Then, disposable diapers became quite more inexpensive, and the cloth diapers were retired!

The Doctor Said it was Cancer
1991 to 1992

I had been urinating with some blood for some time. The growths were cancerous polyps growing on the bladder wall. In April and May I had two surgeries, one after the other and my strength came right back.

I felt so good that in August, 1990, I came up with Phil to the States for several months. Phil and I were able to visit Martha and family in Guatemala in November. Steve was in medical school by then. Again in 1991 we traveled together too. That turned out to be my last trip with him, and as usual I did most of the driving, something I enjoyed doing. I had no trouble driving six to seven hours at a time, stopping just for gas and a bite to eat. I came on home earlier.

WE CELEBRATE OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY (and move to another house) – 1991

Evelyn had encouraged us to sell our large old home and move to a smaller, more comfortable home. At first Phil didn’t want to as he enjoyed all the space, but later agreed that a smaller home would be more practical. Even so, the house was slow in being sold. While Phil and I were away in the States, Evelyn sold the house by power of attorney and was able to find a very nice two story home in a good location about five minutes away. It had three bedrooms downstairs and one more upstairs, with a bath on each floor. It also had a nice yard for the grandkids, with a large shade tree. The first thing I did in the house was put up a swing for them.

The children wanted to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, which was October 20, but we had to celebrate it in November as Phil and David were still traveling in the States at that time. It was a special time, with Martha arriving from Guatemala in time to help in the move, and by the time Phil came back, we were getting settled in. Martha helped me go through “tons” of books, photographs and materials that had accumulated over our 30 years in Argentina.

November 23rd was the big day when I walked down the aisle on Phil’s arm wearing a long, elegant dress, and Phil a cream colored suit coat. Hundreds of friends were there to celebrate with us and enjoy the program our children prepared, with testimonies, our biographies shared with a touch of humor, and Susy, Joe’s wife, singing a lovely duet with Martha: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. Our eyes grew moist to think of all the experiences of 50 years gone by, all the problems and blessings, and how God has truly been faithful. Our missionary friends, the Norcoms made a video tape of the event, capturing the emotion of it all.

I felt fine at that time and I thought I was healed, but after a few months when I had checkups, and another sonogram, it was discovered that the growths had come back again. So surgery again, and again, and again, removing the growths as they would appear.

When Phil made his last trip to the States in 1992, I couldn’t go because of a recent surgery. All of us (even Jim who phoned from Oregon) tried to talk him out of going alone to the States. David, Joe and I did all we could to convince him not to travel, knowing the possibilities, the dangers, but he decided he was going to go no matter what. He went, and had three months of traveling all day, setting up and having meetings, spending the night, and next day taking off again. He could have had an accident any time because his reactions weren’t as good. It was a miracle nothing happened to him.

February 1993

Friday, February 12th was Evelyn’s 34th birthday, and that morning Phil drove in to Las Rosas from Lake Valley Conference Center to phone her because at that time we didn’t have a phone at camp.

That afternoon we had our regular nap after lunch, and our cup of tea and sandwich about 4 or 4:30. Then he said, “I want to go down and take the tractor out, to level the road.” I said, “Please, don’t. Let Ivan or David do it.” “No” he said, “it’s no big deal, it won’t take me long.” He walked down from our cabin to the dining room at about 5 o’clock and then he realized he didn’t have his cap. Everybody uses a cap because of the hot sun so he stopped at David’s (who was the camp administrator) to borrow his navy blue cap. He put on the cap and took off. He knew he was due back around 7 o’clock because we are two miles off the main road where the buses park and wait for their passengers. We always provided the tractor with the trailer to take all the luggage for the bus full of people, and then take the people out in cars later.

Phil finished his work on the road, a job that he loved doing.
David was in Las Rosas making phone calls related to camp business and I was in the office at Lake Valley Conference Center. It was some time after 7:00 o’clock when Shirley came in and said, “Phil has had an accident with the tractor. Come, we’ll take you to the hospital”. By 8 o’clock I was there, and the doctor also was there. David arrived when I did because when the truck was taking Phil to the clinic, it passed right by the place where he had been making phone calls, two or three blocks away from there.

So I went in with Shirley Norcom, my close friend and missionary wife, who stayed with me all the time. In 1980, when Phil and I visited a Tulsa Church, Phil had a prophetic word that a couple from that church were being called to the mission field, to Argentina. Several people came up to us and said that they thought the Norcoms were the ones. So they were! After a year of training in Costa Rica, they arrived in Argentina in 1982, with their two adolescent children. Shirley and I were close from then on. So now Shirley was with me at this difficult moment.

Shirley and I waited just outside the room. It was a matter of 15 minutes before the doctor came and gave me Phil’s ring, the one with his initials on it, which I wear on my right hand. The doctor prepared a death certificate, postponing the time of death a few hours to give us a little time to prepare things. In Argentina embalming is not the custom, so burial must be within 24 hours. We began contacting people in Córdoba to let them know.

David and I were the two at camp. Evelyn and Joe were in Córdoba.

The church was made ready for the memorial service, with a lot of pictures from our house put up on the walls of the church Another blessing was that this was a Saturday, because people were free to come. A service was held that night and the church was full of people. Everybody and his brother were there. Radio and word of mouth were used to notify the people. Phil had said he would be in Córdoba on Sunday and he was.

I felt mostly shock; I didn’t grieve at that moment. Phil and I would say to each other, “If you get there first, you wait for me. You’ll always be special.” We joked about it because we both had lots of years upon us but we weren’t sad.

I remember in those months before he died, I had had problems with my health, and there wasn’t a day that he didn’t kneel down by my bed and pray for me for healing. He would always say, “Rufus, you know how much I love you.” And then he’d say, “Do you get tired of my telling how much I love you?” It was a real sweet relationship. He was always a very warm, loving husband.

While I had returned to Lake Valley Sunday afternoon, that night Evelyn preached in our church on “The greatest man that ever lived,” explaining that, “I am not talking about my Dad who is now with the Lord, but about Jesus Christ.” My kids seem to have picked up Phil’s fighting spirit, to continue faithfully even in the midst of difficulties and sorrow.

The best thing I could have done was deciding to go back to camp and be there. I left the things there, including his art and supplies. Later some of the others put away his art, his paints and other personal effects.

Our cabin had a bedroom and a kitchen-dining room. Phil would prop up his Auca painting on a sort of desk he had made, which was placed right next to the stove in the kitchen and there he would paint. He had started the Auca picture a couple of years before, making small samples and sketches, but this was done in oil.

The theme for the painting came from an account he had heard from his sister Rachel. The painting shows two Auca women on one side of the river watching the action on the other side. The Indian men on the beach in the distance are killing the five missionaries with spears, as the Indian women, standing at the forefront of the illustration, witness the murders. Above the trees and in the clouds the women saw many people in bright clothing. They heard strange music and singing, and saw bright lights. They did not understand what they saw and the vision was not shared until many years later. Rachel wanted to know if it was the real thing. As she heard them tell it, she realized it was definitely real. Then she just wondered how they could have kept it a secret for so long. After the Aucas (or Huaorani as they are called now), came to know the Lord, and got acquainted with choir singing and other types of music, they realized this was a vision the Lord had sent to them to understand about the heavenly reception of the men’s souls.

The Auca painting has something interesting, for those who look closely. Hanging from the jungle trees Phil painted two little monkeys, one next to the other. I thought that was such a cute romantic touch, something he had never done before. Looking back at the days before his death, I realized there were so many little signs and indications of what would happen. At the time I did not notice them.

Dad had said years ago, “I want to die like an old battle horse.” So he did. With his boots on. With chalk on his fingers.  Up to the end he would often remark, “Praise the Lord, I can still preach and draw. My hand is not shaky, my hand is still firm.” We enjoyed 14 of our happiest months together, totally by ourselves and enjoying the privacy and quiet of our new home and its comforts.


As a widow I experienced God’s peace and joy. Even though Phil wasn’t there, he was never far from my thoughts. I missed him so much. I was happy to live alone in the newer house and I kept busy with family, church and visitation. In the back yard the family would prepare occasional barbecue, bringing their children. It was a happy time, with lots of laughing and kids running about. Evelyn had cable installed in the house, which I enjoyed each day. Phil had never liked TV, I guess he was always too busy or in a hurry for that. So after he was gone I discovered a wonderful world like Little House on the Prairie, Larry King Live, and others.

Phil had always been the letter writer, so with him gone, I took up the challenge to keep in touch with family and friends in the United States (and there are so many dear friends) and Evelyn started writing most of the newsletters and being involved in Saint Ministries.

With Phil gone, I became the President of Saint Ministries International, and with the help of my son David, reorganized the summer camp Phil had established, called Lake Valley Conference Center. It was not easy to carry on because Phil always made the major decisions, but the Lord was with us and helped us to continue the good work my husband had begun.

Joe helped me find a nice little Fiat that I used to visit shut-ins. After church on Sundays I’d pack the car full of older gals like myself and take them back home. When they would be anxious about my driving, I’d say, “I am driving for longer than your age.” I never had an accident in my life, and I have driven cars, trucks, and vans for over 60 years.

I enjoyed having guests in my home, getting good use of the spare room and bath upstairs. When Humberto and Evelyn had a special speaker come to the church, he would usually stay upstairs where it was quiet. I was glad to serve meals, though I now peeled potatoes sitting on a stool.

Before Phil died, he had received an invitation from Pat Robertson to be a guest on the 700 Club. When he died, they offered for me to replace him. I did not feel I could travel alone, so Evelyn arranged to be away from her family, and we traveled to Virginia in April, taking the beautiful painting of the “Auca Vision” Phil had just finished before he died, to donate to their Art Gallery. My daughter Evelyn came with me, and it was a special experience to be on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, sharing about Phil, and reminiscing about the years of missionary service. They showed video clips from previous programs too. About a year later the program, dubbed into Spanish, was shown in Argentina.

From Virginia, Evelyn and I flew to Newark, New Jersey to visit my dear friend Evy (Deinum) Van Dyk, with whom we had shared so many experiences when our children were babies. Nick and Sylvia Regrut came over from New York City (Bronx) for a good visit too, precious friends that God gave us. We also flew out to visit my brother Walt Brooker and his wife Polly in Naperville, Illinois, and then out to Oregon to spend a few days with Jim and Lynn. I thought this would be my last trip to the States (I was 73 at this time) but I was to travel two more times. I never saw my brother Walt again, he died shortly after.

Some changes were needed in the mission, the first one was to move the office from North Carolina to Oregon, where my daughter-in-law, Lynn, agreed to help taking on the responsibility as mission secretary. This move was done in 1993.

When my oldest grandson, Steve Berberian, invited me to his wedding to Elaine Vindas in Houston, I was able to go there too, traveling again with Evelyn, in June of 1996.

Back in Argentina, I kept busy in church in Cordoba, and I spent every summer at Lake Valley Conference Center
I can say that the Lord is faithful! Many people come to spend their vacation at the conference center in the Cordoba hills, and receiving encouragement to go back to their homes spiritually renewed. Each week I see so many friends that we have met over the years. I share some nights at the meetings, something short and sweet, usually ending with one of Phil’s jokes—and we all end up laughing!

Everywhere I go I keep meeting people who met the Lord through Phil’s tent meetings and preaching—what a joy to my heart! Lives changed through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Martha and her daughter Susy came from Guatemala to visit in 1997, and the cousins had such fun! They played chopsticks with Damaris on the piano and cutting the grass with Becky using a little electric mower, and riding bikes to the airport. Martha shared a Bible study with my Golden Years group, or what I call the gathering of the grandmas! Two of us are great-grandmothers!

 My 80th Birthday With My Five Kids!
Córdoba, Argentina, June 1999

Early in February Martha sent me an article called “Mastering the Memoir” which motivated me even more to share my life story. I sure enjoyed Sammy’s visit in April (my son-in-law), coming all the way from Guatemala to speak in various churches. I was glad to have him stay in my guest room upstairs, and have good talks at night when he came home from a meeting or visit.

Though I often feel tired, I enjoy it when my kids pop in to visit, with one or another of their children, from Sebastián and Cristian, the youngest, to Mikaela and Martin, the oldest of my grandkids in Argentina. Sometimes Ariel stays overnight or Nathalie, using the playroom. Sometimes Becky drops by to tell me about her studies in high school, and Mika about her work at MacDonalds. Allan likes to get out a ball and kick it about in the back yard when he comes, and David’s kids, Billy and Damaris, with their musical interests, play on the piano a while. Of course my oldest grandchildren, Steve and Elizabeth Berberian, and their children don’t live in Argentina, and I have met only Andy personally, and the rest by pictures.

In May I began baking lots of goodies for my family, and had brownies, cookies and cake ready when Jim arrived with his daughter Katelyn from Oregon, and Martha and her daughter Susy arrived from Guatemala, to join their siblings and families who live in Argentina, to celebrate my 80th birthday. Wow! What a treat and surprise from the Lord.

On June 1st I turned 80, and the celebration of my 80th birthday was just wonderful! Jim and Katelyn slept upstairs in the mini apartment up there, while Martha and Susy slept downstairs near me, in the office and playroom
Our church, pastored by Humberto and Evelyn, organized a special celebration on Saturday night, with many old friends coming and sharing thoughts and memories, then we shared a huge cake. I felt pretty good, and drove Jim and Martha and their daughters to the various activities in my little Fiat. We went to the Sunday morning service in downtown Córdoba where Jim (with the help of Joe) shared his testimony of how God helped him in a wonderful way in his personal life. God has certainly answered prayer. Evelyn filmed bits and pieces of that week on video tape for the family.

After the exciting week of celebration in Córdoba, I traveled with Jim and Katelyn to Oregon. After 23 hours of flying and waiting in airports, we finally arrived in Gresham. Because it was June, I had brought only summer clothes but Jim had to start a fire in the wood stove downstairs in the family room because the weather was quite cool. With the heat from the stove, I finally thawed out! We enjoyed popcorn while watching the video of the family reunion in Córdoba.

On June 23rd was the twins’ 49th birthday. The weather was so cold that Jim got the wood stove going again. We ate pop corn and enjoyed a movie. I wore the beautiful slacks and tops that were given to me, also I got a pair of white tennis shoes I can use for Cordoba shopping and camp activities. Lynn’s mother, Joyce, came to spend a week; the visit was a very happy one. Jim drove us up the Columbia River, where we ate at a CharBurger overlooking the river. Beautiful!

The days passed by too rapidly, and I was scheduled to return to Argentina, but I wasn’t feeling too well. I guess I am beginning to feel my age. The July 4th celebration was super!

It is August 13 and I’m just about ready to travel at last, after a long bout with my infection, bladder and kidney.

I returned to Córdoba in August 1999. The trip was excellent, and my two boys and their wives were here to welcome me. I stayed for a time with my good friend and missionary, Shirley Norcom, where I was comfortable and well cared for.

I was glad to be back in my own home the middle of September, to get out the CD player and radio-recorder for luscious music.
I am remembering with a chuckle what someone said: “I just got my head together and my body fell apart!” The body does wear out but the spirit is renewed day by day.
I ended up in the hospital for checkups, as my family doctor saw I was too week to go and come for checkups. I was there two days, having X-rays and all that. Joe and Evelyn checked me, almost having to carry me. Now I’m home again, though I had excellent medical attention. I enjoy witnessing to the doctors and nurses.

I have no pain, but I am very weak, can hardly walk some days. I haven’t been out of the house in a month, just short walks in the back yard when the weather is nice. I hope to be back to normal soon; this great-grandma hopes to stay around awhile. I still trust Him for this trial He has permitted.

From Ruth Saint’s last newsletter, June 1999

“Looking back, I can only lift my heart in gratitude. So many changes, sorrows, challenges, and miracles have passed through my life…and through it all, the Lord has always been faithful, His patience has endured and His grace has been my joy. The Lord is good. Allelluia!