EN ROUTE TO INDIA
While the girls and I were resting in the home of Brother and Sister Maurice Buckingham only a few hours before we were to board the train, Roy and his family and Ray came to bid us adieu. Ray was ill and was to enter the hospital for surgery in a few days. He looked so terrible. It was hard to go so far from them but God is our very present help in time of trouble, and a silent prayer was uttered for me to be brave and strong and to be able to know fully that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. I knew I loved my Lord, so why not just cast it all on Him for He would do what was best for us all. I appreciated them driving so far that night to spend a few minutes with me, for it was a hard trip for Ray.
At two thirty a.m. a number of the members came to see us off on the first lap of the long journey that would eventually take us to that land of idols and temples.
Some years before, I had made the statement that there were two places that I hoped God would never send me and they were India and Africa. I have been sorry for making such a statement, many times. When the call came for us to go to India, we went. Many times as we sailed the seas, those words rang in my ears and I would say, Lord, you know what is best for me, and I am on my way now to one of those countries to which I had thought I would never want to go, so use me in whatever way you see fit. It would be difficult for me to describe how ashamed I was for ever having said those words. Another example of, man proposes and God disposes.
I knew some of the members were going to come into the train at Regina so we never tried to sleep for the distance is less than forty-five miles. The train was there for twenty minutes and we had a visit with the Ashbys, Smiths and one of the fine young ladies in the Church there whose name is Arbutus Tetreau. A beautifully wrapped box was brought filled with goodies, books and puzzles which we appreciated so much, and pictures were taken of us. The time passed quickly, and just before the train began moving the last farewells were said. Never had I heard so many encouraging words, and to know prayers were offered for our safe journey made the going easier too.
I rented pillows and had two blankets, so soon we were asleep. I had a very bad cold and some sleep was what I needed. The train trip was so comfortable and when folks knew we were on our way to India, it seemed even the train men showed us special kindnesses. We were always the first to be called to the dining room at meal-time and many folks came to talk with us, so the time went quickly. At Sudbury, Ontario two of my husband's brothers and their wives met us and although the time was short, it was good to see them and we surely appreciated them coming to bid us God's speed on our journey.
On the evening of June 7, we arrived in Montreal, and John, Rosalyn and Jay, also Stanley were waiting for us. So as soon as I had arranged for the boxes to be taken to the wharf to be loaded on the Carinthia, a ship leaving for Europe on the 27th, we drove to Keene, New Hampshire where John was preaching. Stanley could not accompany us that night as he had work to attend to. He never got to New Hampshire until the Sunday before we left for Montreal. Those twenty days just seemed to fly by. Norman and John, with their fine companions, never missed a chance to show us a good time. We went camping, sight-seeing and just had a wonderful time. I believe this was the best holiday I ever had and I am so glad now that John had phoned me some ten days before and told me to geteverything sold that I could, and give the rest away, and hurry and come there. I still think he bought that camper just to take us camping. I got to help him paint the part on the truck that needed it and I enjoyed doing that. He had a garden and I enjoyed weeding a little in it too. The last weekend we were in New Hampshire we were with Norman's family mostly and we had a fine time with them. They took us to Keene for the meeting that night and after the service, a social time had been planned in our honour. Many hymns were sung and so beautifully done. One they sang was new to me and I sing it often now. I KNOW THE LORD WILL FIND A WAY FOR ME is one of my favourites. Prayers were offered on our behalf and I was presented with a pretty card and money. Again, the bond of love that binds God's people together was demonstrated. One Brother gave John his station wagon to use when he came to meet us in Montreal and also to take us back.
About midnight we left John's house, Norman went too, and we arrived in Montreal in time for breakfast (I was not a bit hungry) and we drove around the city some, for the ship was not leaving till nine. I mean we could not go aboard until nine. What a queer feeling I had as I walked up the gang-plank of the Carinthia. The thought of leaving seven children and fifteen grandchildren was hard to bear, but to be with our Daddy again would be wonderful and that made it easier.
All the way to Liverpool, England, the steward was extremely kind and often came to our cabin and asked if there was anything we needed and I knew he was not being so good to others. I found out that Norman had given him a big tip to be sure and look after his mother well. He did just that too.
Coming out of the Straits of Belle Isle the ship did some rocking and many were ill, but we managed fine and enjoyed the trip. Brother David Hallett, whom I had never met before, boarded the ship with us and he was certainly a good traveling companion. Having been in the Navy he seemed at home on a ship. We read, wrote letters, knit, and played games. Margo even enjoyed the waves splashing into the porthole, but it had to be closed.
On July 5 we arrived in Liverpool and after claiming our luggage, which was quite a job for David for he was taking a number of boxes and trunks for Brother and Sister Don Perry who were soon to leave by air for Shillong, Assam too, we went to London on a little train. It was a lovely ride and the green hillsides with cattle grazing looked so beautiful. It seemed each house we saw was surrounded with flowers and it was so lovely a picture, I thought no artist could even begin to paint its equal.
The Lennox Hotel was our home for the next six days. It rained most of that time and the room was damp and cold, so despite the cost, we decided to light the little gas heater which warmed the room.
Brother Baxell Baxter and a group from the United States were holding a Campaign in the city, so we attended two services, which we enjoyed.
David had been in that great fascinating city many times and he was always glad to show us around. We were in a huge store one day doing a bit of shopping and we found there was a café on top of the store, so we went up. What a pretty place! A beautiful garden of many kinds of flowers, streams of water with little curved bridges, winding paths with shrubs, made this one of the mostfascinating places I have ever been. It was very difficult to find a place to eat and after walking many blocks one day for our dinner, we decided to take advantage of having our meal in this magnificent place.
My poem tells more of our stay in London, so I shall not say more.
Brother Ray McMillan met us there. He had flown from Winnipeg, Manitoba, so the last day we were in London was spent seeing that our boxes were taken to the dock at Tilbury to be loaded onto the Oronsay. We went by train over there and on to the docks where we boarded that beautiful ship. Somehow I felt a lot better when I was walking up the gangplank this time. I was getting nearer and nearer to Shillong, Assam where the best man in the world was waiting for me.
On the other ship, the girls and I had shared one cabin but on this one we occupied two rooms, with a door between and also each had an outside door. Margo and I used one and Carol and Debra the other, so this two room suite was convenient for us. There were no portholes though, so we spent a lot of time on deck until we came to warmer regions when, at times,, it was too hot for us to stay up there long at a time. The air-conditioned rooms were appreciated.
Margo lost her breakfast one morning and I felt a little ill but none of us were really seasick like some were. God was good to us and we were thankful to Him who always cares for and blesses His children wherever they may be.
It was near sundown when we passed near the White Cliffs of Dover but they looked pretty even in the distance. We passed near Portugal and when we got to Gibraltar, we anchored and we could have gone by ferry over, but we were satisfied to stay on board.
Sunset on the Mediterranean Sea was simply beautiful. I have a colored slide of it which shows its beauty well.
On Lord's Day, the six of us had service in our cabin. Ray and David conducted the service just as though there were a large crowd. The Lord is always present whenever His children meet to worship Him.
We anchored in Naples, Italy and were there for some hours. We thought it would be interesting to go on the tour that was offered, but before we had been on the street long we felt the heat was just too much for us, so back to those air-conditioned rooms we went. Perhaps we should have gone anyway, but there were a group of singers who came on board which we enjoyed, and also artists brought their pictures on board for sale, and it was certainly a pleasure to see their work. Prices were very reasonable but I knew we were flying the last part of our journey and needed to watch lest I would have to pay for excess weight.
I had never seen a volcano. It was announced that about one thirty the morning of July 16, we would be near enough (about 6 miles) to the big volcano, Strombola, to see it, so we went on top deck and watched it erupt twice. To see those huge boulders blown high into the sky was really a sight. Psalm eight describes my thoughts: When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? God has dominion over all things that pass through the paths of the seas. We watched the flying fish and saw thousands of fish near the surface of the water, trying to escape from sharks. The large ships have paths that they travel and if I were to make this trip again by the same ships, I would travel the same course as we did then. O, the mighty power of God. How can anyone deny His existence?
For fifteen hours we were in the Suez Canal waiting for some twenty-five ships to go through. Although it was sticky hot we endured the heat to see those huge, attractive ships from many countries pass through the Canal. One was an American ship with the stars and stripes flying which reminded me of the place where I was born. While we were there we saw camels near a little house not too far away, and I wondered why they were there and what they could be used for. After the last ship had gone through the canal, some Arabs, dressed in their queer looking clothes, mounted those animals and rode toward the canal. I found out their duty was to open the locks so we could progress on our journey.
Mount Sinai was not very far away but too far for us to see it. We had passed near the Isle of Crete but could not see it either. Again, when Lord's Day came we had worship together. In that little room in perfect quietness, we sang praises and gave thanks to Him to whom we owe so much for what he did for us when He died on the cross. I had brought the necessary provisions for the Lord's supper for certainly He expected us to remember Him while we sailed the seas, the same as He expects us to do at home.
The Suez was well guarded all along the sides, and I can appreciate more now the value of the canal. Reading of these things is interesting but seeing them is better.
We had docked at Port Said, Egypt and I thought it would be a good experience for us to tour the place, but just before we docked, we who had girls were told it would be better for us to remain on board since this place is noted for kidnappers. All of my desire vanished at once. We stayed on board and watched the dozens of little boats, laden with almost everything you can imagine, coming to the ship. From each boat, a man came on board with ropes that he threw down to his partner who in turn tied the rope to his boat. All of the merchandise in these little boats was for sale, and many folks purchased a goodly amount of carpets, baskets, souvenirs, purses and what have you, but I never bought anything. We were warned that whatever we got would have to be disinfected for disease and lice and although the prices were very low on everything, I had no desire to buy. Also, as I said before, I could only carry a certain amount of weight on the plane, so I had a good excuse for refraining.
To watch those little boys dive into the water to get coins folks threw was quite a sight too. Each one had a partner on shore, and when his mouth got full of money, he would swim over and empty it into the bag his buddy held. They were not too happy when some folks threw only pennies. I guess they figured it was worth more than one cent to dive so far, and anyway everyone on that ship was supposed to be very rich so why shouldn't they throw dimes and quarters in for them to get? This is the impression all Asia has of the North American Continent and hence begging is very common. In fact there are those who do nothing else but beg. They are very professional at it. One day as my interpreter and I were going to a village in the city of Madras, while we were waiting at a bus stop, we saw a woman whipping a little girl. I asked Nehemiah why she was doing this. She was Telugu so he listened to what she said and told me the little child was not begging to suit her and she was training her to beg properly. This bothered me considerably. At least those divers were working for what they got.
At Port Aden, we all got off the ship except Carol as she said she had no desire to go on the ferry the short distance to the shore. In this place, for the first time in our lives, we saw goats on the streets. The streets were narrow and dirty. To us they were filthy, but when we got to Madras we decided Aden's streets were quite clean compared to some of the ones there. The tiny little stores were filled with articles that we could buy at home and the dry goods shops were just packed with all kinds of materials which many of the ladies took advantage of, for the prices were low. Aden, being a free port, is a good shopping center for tourists. I bought some buttons and carried them in my purse. Yes, I had room for a few buttons but not much room to spare.
Pictures with Chapter Five
Published in The Old Paths Archive
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