LIVING AND WORKING IN INDIA
Pictures with Chapter Six
We had had a fine trip, with very little discomfort, and the closer we got to Bombay, the happier we were, for within a few hours from there we would be in Shillong, Assam with our Daddy whom we had not seen for three months. However, our happiness suddenly turned (almost) to mourning before we anchored, for when we went to collect our passports which had been turned in for examination, both Ray's and mine were out-dated by a few days, we were told, so we were compelled to leave them with the Immigration Officers. David's was dated right so he received his. Indeed Ray and I had a mighty queer feeling as we walked down that gangplank and set foot on strange land. Imagine being in a strange country without a passport and you will be able to appreciate at least a little of the way we felt.
The Officers gave us a little piece of paper, about one and a half inches square, which they had copied our passport number on, and they declared this was all that we would need to have in case we were asked to produce our books. This caused us no little trouble but I shall tell more about this later.
It was quite evident that women traveling alone were questioned more and caused to go through the ordeal of unpacking their boxes to have things examined and, believe me, I was no exception. Going through Customs at Bombay was really an ordeal for me. I had made a list of everything in the boxes, but that did not suffice, each had to be unpacked. It was terribly hot in that place and there were hundreds of people to report, and that many more who had come to meet them, plus dozens of beggars which almost drove me wild, for wherever I turned there was someone begging. One boy especially just stayed beside me continually. When the boxes were finally re-packed (I took some blankets out of the boxes and put things in that I felt we could get along without so the boys would have at least some bedding), and after sealing the boxes, the Custom man said if we would pay a little extra, we would be able to get the freight in about ten days, so we decided this would be best. I shall have more to say re this too, later. They took advantage of me and charged me duty on several items that I learned should have been duty-free. I paid about seventy-nine dollars, where I should have only paid about fourteen dollars. I hope the Indian Government got the money.
David suggested we get air-conditioned rooms in what looked to be a good hotel, and I appreciated his thoughtfulness, for I was almost purple in color from being in that room so long and unpacking and re-packing while the girls guarded my purse and suitcases, doing their best to keep sticky fingered folks from helping themselves to what we had.
The two beds looked inviting and after having a wash (there was no bath-tub), we retired. Not one of us could go to sleep, but at least we were comfortable. Finally, Debbie asked me if I were sleepy and when I said I wasn't, and neither Carol or Margo were asleep, she asked if she could put the light on and read the book that the folks in Regina had given her. For reasons of which I do not know, the thought came to me, why not write a little poetry? I had taken the writing material out of the suitcase and made room for the blankets, so all I had to write on was the back of a sheet of paper that had some knitting instructions on it. I began from the day we had received the letter from Brother Rice re coming to India, till that very minute of our arrival in India. Some weeks after we had settled in Madras, I showed my work to my husband and he asked me to continue it to that time, so as you read the poem, you will follow my thoughts through.
About four a.m. the taxi came to take us to the airport station where we would ride the bus to the airport. There were many strange sights for us to see that morning and one was seeing dozens of people sleeping along the roadside or under a leaf roof huddled like a bunch of sheep. These sights were only the beginning of what we would see in the days that were ahead.
It was not until we arrived in Calcutta that we really realized the value of our passports, for we had to get a permit to go into Assam, and to obtain this we had to have our passports. The little soiled piece of paper that was supposed to be as valuable as the passports was useless. Since David had his passport, he went on to Gauhati where my husband was waiting to greet us. Can't you imagine the expression on his face when his wife and three daughters were not there? He went back to Shillong and obtained the permits then flew to Calcutta on the next flight. Ray and I made our home in the Salvation Army Hostel for the next three days, during which time we had gone to the Governor of Assam to get permission (as we were told to do), but this was useless too, so we went to the British High Commissioner and he gave us a letter to give to the Governor, so back we went to his office. After waiting for hours in that filthy place (they were building a new office which was sorely needed, and I hope it was kept cleaner), we finally got the permits.
We had to wait until the next day to get seats on the plane. Since there were six of us on the ship there were places for two more at our table and a couple who had been to England for a holiday occupied those places. They were Anglo-Saxons. The lady was born in India. They were not poor people. They owned racehorses, and were very friendly folks. Mr. Glegg especially was pleasant to visit with and when we last saw them at the Bombay docks (they were going by train to Calcutta), they asked us to be sure and phone them if we were ever in Calcutta. So, after we had the permits and were waiting for the plane the next day, I phoned them and at once their driver came in their car to take us to their home. We had not been there long when the phone rang and who do you suppose was on the line? None other than J.C. Bailey. He had gone to the hostel and learned where we were (I was asked to always sign where we were going and for about how long), and if ever I was excited it was then. To hear his voice was almost a shock. The car was sent back for him and we enjoyed a good meal. Although Indian food was served, it was not too hot. Mr. and Mrs. Glegg were certainly kind to us and we appreciated their hospitality. They had about thirteen dogs and you never heard such a noise in a veranda as those dogs made. Mrs. Glegg soon quietened them.
The mice would play around but never came near us, and Mrs. Glegg remarked that they knew we were strangers and were afraid of us, but they knew they were safe with them. It seemed queer to us to see folks harboring such destructive little pests, but I understand now the reason for this. They were Hindus and would not kill anything. In the early evening we were escorted back to the city to our transient home and the next morning we boarded the plane (Viscount) for Gauhati.
We had no idea that my husband would come with permits and he had no way of contacting us, so he did what he felt was best.
I think the road from Gauhati to Shillong is by far the most crooked one I have ever been on. We went in a taxi. There is no railroad to Shillong. Those little taxis are certainly not as roomy as our Pontiac, but my husband (a two-hundred pounder), and Ray (who is far from being a midget), wedged themselves into the seat with the driver, and the girls and I with two suitcases (the trunk would only hold four) on our knees, were in the back seat. Around those curves we went. The horn was squawking most of the time. I decided then that being efficient at horn blowing was very necessary in driving a car in India, and after we moved to Madras this became more evident, sinceone had to drive among all kinds of vehicles, from hand rickshaws to buses, and among throngs of people walking on the street. Anyway, we arrived safely in Shillong and climbed the many stairs up to what was to be our home and had been the home of my husband for some three months.
Before we got to Shillong we came to a small village where there was a tea stall and there was a man selling sliced pineapples. We were thirsty and we knew we could not drink the water there so we got some pineapple slices. The girls were reluctant about eating them but I knew the man must have been peeling and slicing those delicious fruits all day and it seemed to me that his hands should be well cleaned, so I persuaded the girls to have some. My judgment was right I guess, for none of us suffered any ill effects from our new experience. If you have never eaten pineapples that are fresh from the plant, you really do not know just how delicious they are.
In preparation for our coming, beds had been bought. The mattresses were very thin and were filled with what seemed to be dried straw and crushed leaves. Those I made many years ago were a lot better than these, but we had brought three air mattresses in our luggage so they were comfortable. The third day we were there, a Brother asked us to go with him to visit a lady who was very ill. He said it was only a short distance. We went. We walked some miles over those muddy slippery hills and came to a little house where a dear Sister in Christ lived. We were given little stools about five inches high to sit on and, although they were so low, we were glad to have a place to sit and rest. By the time we got back to our home, I felt I could not climb those steps, but slowly I made it to the top. For three days I was unable to be up and never again did I go on such a jaunt while we were there.
There was no iron, so our clothes were hung across lines in the room to get some of the creases out, but ere long we forgot our pride and as long as our dresses were clean, that was good enough for us.
A very fine young lady who could speak and understand some English, had been cooking for my husband. From what he tells me, his diet consisted mostly of pineapples and bananas which caused him to lack proteins, so after I learned how to operate that little one burner oil stove the girls and I did the cooking and he really appreciated good food again. I longed for cookies or cakes but not having an oven this was impossible, so I made doughnuts. I had no cutter so I just dropped the batter into the hot oil by spoonfuls and they were good. When I think of making those little ball-like sweets, I am reminded of the time I was making them and the window was open. Ray was standing underneath the window and I called, Ray, open your mouth. He almost caught it in his mouth. Most every Lord's Day morning, the boys would go to villages and be away all day preaching, so I would prepare lunch for them and doughnuts were always included in their lunch.
Stew was our main food so the meat and vegetables could all be cooked on the one burner stove at once, but we all liked stew and we never tired of it. The vegetables were very nice and the meat, well, if it was pounded well and cooked for hours it was good. The first time I went to the market to buy meat and saw it hanging out in the open, it was all I could do to buy any, but one gets used to many things in life, even buying meat that hangs in the open.
One evening in early August, Brother and Sister Don Perry with their seven lovely children arrived. Most of the children had been ill on the trip and it took days for one of the little girls to getover her plane sickness. Coming by air, they had not brought any bedding so that night it was quite an undertaking to get sixteen people bedded down with so little bedding, so none of us were too comfortable. Margo slept on the floor on a blanket with her father's coat over her all the time we were there.
Despite our paying extra for our boxes to come by Express, it took 52 days for them to reach us, and since my husband had been in Madras in June and felt that the field was ripe there, even more so than in Assam, and with the three men there in Shillong, he decided we would move to Madras. No-one needs very warm clothing there so I unpacked the boxes and gave Sister Perry some warm clothes and shared with some of the members in a village who were very poor. We kept our sweaters and that was wise too, for when we went to cooler places we used them.
The good that the Perrys are doing will, I'm sure, grow and continue to bear fruit for years to come, and only eternity will reveal just how much they have labored. Brother David is still in Shillong and is doing outstanding work too. Brother Ray and his wife returned to this continent, but plan to go back and open a Christian College where the Bible will be taught as well as college work.
Where there is a will, there will be a way, and we do what we want to do. Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of us always put first things first in our lives? When we do, we always succeed, for when God is for us, who can be against us?
A VERY SPECIAL TOKEN
Two nights before we left for Madras was a meeting night. Synthia sat just behind us (the girls and I). The men sat on the other side of the building. During the service I heard what I thought was a chicken squawk but surely there was not a chicken in the building. Presently, there was a louder squawk and a scramble. Synthia wanted to present us with a chicken, which is considered a very special token of high esteem, so she had brought the bird with her and had kept it covered securely by her shawl, but apparently the chicken desired freedom and tried to escape, but Synthia was determined it was going to stay put. The tail of the bird hindered its get-away for that made a good hand hold. The poor thing had to remain covered with Synthia's long skirt. After the service she butchered it and cleaned it all ready for us to fry for our lunch. That family were dreadfully poor and they needed to keep that young pullet so they could have eggs, yet their hearts were tender and full of love, and how delighted she and her little sister were to present this gift to us. We have never received a gift that we appreciated more than that one. They really believed it was more blessed to give than to receive, and demonstrated it.
READY TO TRAVEL
On the morning of September 24, our boxes were loaded onto a transport truck, and we traveled in a station wagon bus back to Gauhati. First-class tickets were bought and at 2.30 p.m. we boarded the train. We had a comfortable apartment and rested well. In those apartments there are four single bunks, so Margo had a bed made of blankets, on the floor. The curried food which was served was too hot for us, so we ate very little of it. (Before we were in Madras long we could eat the hot foods better and Margo became so accustomed to the native dishes she really liked them and could relish the curried foods.)
We had to change trains in Calcutta and when we went to our apartment, four men were in it. There was room for my husband only. The girls and I were ushered into a second-class coach. We had one room with four long seats and with outside doors that were opposite each other. There was a long shelf over the seats near the walls for luggage. For some miles, there was only one lady with us but she arrived at her destination before dark. As night drew nigh, I had planned where we could sleep and as Margo was ready for bed, I put a blanket on the shelf and we boosted her up and soon she was sound asleep. I had to make new plans, for at one stop five women, three small children and a boy in his teens joined us. I think those women could talk louder and faster than any I have ever heard and it was a relief when, at almost midnight, they got bedded down. Some were on the seats and the others on their mats on the floor. Debbie rested on our flight bags and Margo was quite comfortable, but Carol kept me company all night. Each time the train stopped, Carlos would run back to see how we were faring. He came and said one of the girls could go with him for one of the men had got off. Margo went. Not long after that he came and said, Grab your luggage and come with me, and that was indeed a pleasant surprise. We had sat on the board seat all night and during the night it just poured with rain which we listened to and were thankful we were inside, so the night was not really monotonous, for the water came in under the door. As the train swayed, it gushed across the floor. It soon reached the part of the floor where the women were lying and they were well dampened before they awakened. Then the loud talking began. They had a fine time and laughed and made a joke of it. The Indian people are usually happy and satisfied with their lot, with little complaining, unless they think you will give them money, and no-one can put on a bigger show with tears than they.
When we got to our apartment, there were still two men in it. They promised to go to another that my husband had found for them but still they sat and finally refused to go, so Carlos went to the other one for he needed to at least have a place to sit. This was a comfortable room with four single bunk beds. The five of us could manage fine in such a small place for Margo could have slept on blankets on the floor, but she never had to do this, for when night came those two men occupied the two beds on the one side of the room and Carol and Debbie got into the top bunk, while Margo and I were lying on the lower bunk. Although I was very weary, I never slept a minute. The closer we came to Madras, the hotter it got, and we made use of the fans that were installed in the apartment. Indeed our first train trip in India was quite an experience and I am glad we made it. This was another interesting event in my life.
WE ARRIVE IN MADRAS
The first three days we were in Madras, we stayed in the Baptist Hostel, (this is the allotted time anyone can stay there). We were thankful to have a room with fans. Lord's Day morning we walked to meeting and my feet were sore from the heat when we got there. The man who had encouraged us to move to this city and who claimed to be a N.T. Christian was the preacher. The congregation consisted mostly of Anglo-Indians so the services were in English. We could see that it would take time to get them grounded in the truth for they only knew part of the truth, so sound teaching was presented at each service. We had hopes of making this congregation strong and thus having a good starting place in that large city to grow in N.T. teaching. However before many months had passed we learned that this leader was not a reliable man and that he really had no desire to be just a plain New Testament Christian, but he thought he might obtain money from us, but he was sorely disappointed. He had a good job by Indian standards but demanded that I pay him another wage to help in spare time. He told my husband if he did not give him this good wage, he would quit. Well, he quit!
Since we only had two days to find a house to rent, we had to get a one bedroom upstairs apartment, which was most unsatisfactory. Having just two rooms with another tiny low roofed room across the open part on top of that house, and a little place across from that for our kitchen, was not very convenient. If this had been in a better location and not in one of the real slums, we might have stayed there, but it was certainly not a healthy nor conducive place to live. Just across the street from the front of this place were a row of little mud huts and across at the back of our place, were piles of fine coal and those poor people sifted this all day long to get any small pieces which they could sell, and since there are no windowpanes in windows there, our beds and pillows were just sprinkled with this fine coal dust and there was no way whatever to stop this. We had to have the air through the window, so could not cover it. We bought a table fan. Our mattresses were put on the floor in the bedroom and the fan was set wherever it would do the most good.
This was the Monsoon season and how the rain poured in torrents. We thought we should get the men who made their living by pulling freight from the Railway Station rather than hiring a truck for it. It seemed to us it was our duty to help the poorer ones and the day our boxes were brought it simply poured rain, and it was quite a distance from the station. Those boxes were heavy and, no doubt, those men had to rest a few times on the way. The rain caused the top of the boxes to warp so there was space enough for the water to get in, and many of our clothes and most of the bedding was wet when the carts arrived. There were no clothes-lines and the only way to put lines up was to drive nails into the window frames, and that is what I did. I used small rope for the line. Between each heavy shower, the sun shone very hot so I managed to get everything dried this way. All better buildings in Madras are built of cement. The poorer houses are built of mud with thatched roofs.
The girls were enrolled in an English speaking school, but what a school. Can you imagine sitting all day in a small room with forty or fifty others and only one small window in the room and no fans at all ? Margo had to sit between two other girls and she saw what she called bugs, on their heads and she was just terrified for fear one of the bugs would become tired of their posture and come to live on her head. She was nigh unto a breakdown, even talked about those bugs in her sleep. Fortunately she never got one on her.
We hired a man to take them to school and bring them home in a rickshaw and he was very faithful to do this. The girls were so unhappy and confused that they left for school crying and came home crying. We finally discovered the school was not recognized by the Government so we decided they were better off away from there, and since we were going to move to a better locality, and folks had told us it would be better to have tutors come to the house, we took them out of that place. We found the tutors (we had three different ones) were not very dependable for, according to my diary, one tutor came twice in two weeks. We had received the Saskatchewan Correspondence Courses and after some assignments were sent for correction, word came that the wrong courses had been sent, so this was the last straw. More about this later.
Washing clothes on a board and cooking on a one burner oil stove was not the easiest life there is, but this did not last long, for one day a letter came from Sister Homer Wolfe with money for me to get a washing machine and a better stove. I got a two burner propane (it is Bushane there) stove and an oven that would sit over the elements. I got two different new washers, but neither was any good, so I got the money back. There was a very fine American woman who, with her husband,had spent some twelve years in and around Madras, doing missionary work. They were good people and we always appreciated being with them although they worked for the Christian Church. They were going home on furlough so I bought the old Maytag which they had brought with them when they came to India, and what a blessing that was. Sister Wolf will never fully realize how much this was appreciated and her efforts in collecting funds for this will never be unrewarded and neither will those who donated to this fund go unrewarded. The records are all kept by one who never makes any mistakes and some day the rewards will be given. The treasures we lay up in Heaven are the ones that we keep.
Making doughnuts continued till the last few days we were there, as long as flour was not rationed, and for some months we only got a small cup of flour each week. With all the dozens of folks who came to our house, four dozen doughnuts never lasted long. Many men came to talk to my husband about the teaching of the New Testament and very few left without having had tea and doughnuts. According to my diary, during the month of November, one hundred and seventy-three people had meals with us and I never kept record of those who had as many as eight meals during that time, nor of the many cups of tea I served.
Before we were there a year I became ill. I had more than one hundred deep sores on me, plus being allergic to lime. (Lime was being used in building a house next-door and another across the street, so it was almost impossible to escape it.) To add to my misery, my neighbor offered to help me prepare some cashew nuts that one of the members so graciously sent us, but little did I realize just how much suffering this would bring to me. I spent five days in the hospital at Vellore which is recognized as the best hospital in the State. It seemed queer to have barefooted men with short trousers bring my food. They were very courteous and kind. Lying under a net was another new experience for me too, but I was compelled to, for that dreadful disease called Elephantitus is carried by mosquitoes and I certainly did not want a bite from one of those things. This disease affects the legs and causes them to get huge and I have seen some sufferers whose skin had actually broken because of the awful swelling. This disease can be cured if treatment is begun at an early stage.
I was so glad to get home, although I was not much help with the work, but it was good to be with the family. I might say that from the train to the hospital I rode in a covered cart pulled by a donkey. I can understand now just how uncomfortable it was for my husband to travel in one of those vehicles. I surely would not relish a five mile journey in one and I know he has ridden farther than that in one of those queer little buggies, and more than once. They call them Jetkas.
As soon as I was able, I went to three villages and had classes or gave lessons about Christ and the Church, and Christian living. These were Telugu villages so Nehemiah was my interpreter. Nehemiah is one of the best young men in this world. His brother Joshua, who preaches and carries on a wonderful work in the city of Bombay, came to our place before he had written his examinations for his Bachelor of Science Degree and he was anxious to learn the Truth. He was convinced that the denominations that existed could not all be right, for division is wrong, so before many days Joshua became a Christian after the New Testament pattern. He was a very good interpreter for my husband and, believe me, they traveled many miles together preaching in many villages.
Not long ago, I received a letter from Joshua and he had often wondered just what my thoughts were when he rang that door-bell and I came to the door. He looked a bit frightened but I was impressed with his manners and his cleanliness. The questions, however, arose in my mind, how can I cook for this young man when I do not know how to prepare Indian food. Joshua had not beenwith us long before he enjoyed the American foods and it did me good to have him with us. He is a good singer as well as a good speaker, and certainly is a good Bible student. He was anxious for his brother Nehemiah to learn the Truth, so after a few weeks, Nehemiah came. Another fine young man, and although very small and frail looking, he was a hard worker. They decided they would rent a place to live, so although they were with us for few meals, there was always something that was good for them to eat when they came home.
The work was opening in Bombay and, much against his wishes, Joshua went there to do what he could to establish the Church. He has been there ever since. Nehemiah was obedient to the gospel and by that time was well grounded in the teaching of Christ, and was an excellent interpreter too. He has a good voice. My husband told of one time they were having a meeting in a village and a few denominational preachers and followers came and tried to discourage the people from attending the services and, although so tiny, he withstood those men with scripture after scripture and preached a sermon that was really powerful and fought for the Truth.
Nehemiah is such a calm, meek little fellow and as good natured as anyone I have ever seen, but he would not allow those men to make fun of the Bible Way.
My husband says he thinks Nehemiah is my favorite of all the native workers. Well, perhaps I have traveled with him and talked with him more (I know this is true) for he was my interpreter too and cooperated in every way to have good classes. Often, when we would arrive in the village, he would go to the huts and bring the ladies to hear the lessons. In Patabbaram, a village some eighteen miles from Madras, there was a clean little hut with a lean-to built of tin, with a fence around it. Often a fine looking lady would be by the gate to greet us. One day I asked Nehemiah to ask her to come with us to the meeting and she said, Just wait till I get my children ready, so we went in and soon those three little ones were dressed and ready to go. Her husband was in the Air Force and it seemed they were able to have more to furnish necessary things for their children. The baby, a sweet, chubby little boy about six months old, willingly came to me and I carried him to the meeting. We met a policeman and he stopped and said, What? A white woman carrying a black baby? I answered, Why shouldn't I? I love this baby the same as I do white babies. He smiled and went on. Presently we met another policeman. He too stopped and remarked about my carrying the baby, so I just preached a short sermon to him. I asked him if he believed we were all God's creation and why did he esteem me better than the native woman just because my skin was a little lighter. He said, You are right. He gave the baby a pat and said to me, You must be a good woman.
The idea of the white race being superior is so far from the teaching of Christ, I wonder just who started such an absolute false impression or teaching, that it even reached to that far-off country. Somehow, word got around that the white missionary lady was carrying this baby and after we got into the village proper, it seemed everyone was out to see this. After the meeting, I think every mother brought her baby for me to hold and as we would leave to go to the bus, little children as well as many of the women would walk with us and I would have hold of the children's little bony hands.
In this same village, one of the members told Nehemiah to ask me to come to her hut and pray. Many times my husband was asked to pray for some child that was ill and I had also often been asked to do the same. The teaching of false (so-called divine healers) had been implanted in those people's hearts and somehow they thought that as long as we offered a prayer for their sick ones, they would be healed. So I always told them that we ought to always say, Thy will be done and that we must be sure and take good care of our children, and as long as we did our part, we could be assuredthe Lord would do his part. However, this day there were none ill in that home. What do you suppose this woman wanted me to pray for? She wanted me to ask God to help her to be a strong Christian and raise her children to be the same. How often does this happen in America? I have often heard parents pray for guidance in bringing up their children to be strong in the faith, but I cannot recall ever knowing of anyone asking for special prayers to be made concerning this. Have you?
Although they were so very poor, there was never once that we went there for a class that tea wasn't served us. Someone would go to the little shop and get a pot of tea and a few little cookies which were wrapped in some newspaper, for our lunch. Perhaps it cost only three cents in our money, but when you think that none of the men would earn more (I mean get, for the way some had to work they always earned more in my estimation) than fifty cents a day and many would not get that much pay for a hard day's work. The trip out there was sometimes very tiring in the heat and especially when we would have to wait for a bus and when it came it was too crowded for us to get on, or if we did manage to get into the bus, there was no seat so we stood for a while. There was a little shop near the bus-stand so I would have Nehemiah buy some bananas (plantans), and some peanuts, which sustained us. Many times we left by seven and never returned until after four. Tiring as it was, I came home feeling that I had at least done a little for the Lord.
In another village only about twelve miles away, within the city limits, was the first congregation that we started in the city. Most of the women who were free to work were sweepers and got very little pay. Perhaps you are wondering what a sweeper is. They sweep the streets or yards for people. When we arrived for a meeting, the piece of iron which was hung on a bamboo pole would be pounded with another piece of iron (a gong). This is the way folks are told of a meeting. This is done in all villages. When they hear that sound, they know to come. Often there would be a number of men standing around by the huts listening to what was said. Finally, one time they just came and sat on the ground with the women. I was a little embarrassed so I asked Nehemiah to tell them that this was a meeting for ladies only and to tell them why they should not attend. One man said, Well, I cannot see any difference in sitting down to listen and standing beside a hut. I continued my lesson. I was not usurping authority at all.
[Publisher's note: Myrtle is alluding to 1 Timothy 2:12 -- And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. There definitely is a difference between men eavesdropping and men being an actual part of a class taught by a woman. God forbids not only having authority over but also teaching men. Roy Davison]
When rice was rationed and the price was higher, some of the women who were not able to
work (they had families) wanted to give something to help with the expense of the meeting house that
was being erected. They would bring rice to the meeting and it was all put into a bag and sold. They
had never heard of the miss a meal theory, but they had saved a little rice each day (cooked a little
less) so they could do this. It reminded me of the widow's mite (Mark 12:42).
Our sweeper asked me for the empty bottles and tin cans which I was glad to give her. One
day I thought, if those are so useful to her, then those Christian ladies would appreciate them too, so
the next time I went to Patabbaram I took all that I had. How happy they were to have those (useless
and only in the way, to me) items. Perhaps you are thinking they could have had these things, and
wonder too just what they could use them for. Well, none of them had ever bought any canned foods
(they could not afford to) and certainly they could never buy catsup or syrup in a bottle, but they
would at least have a bottle of their own to get a little peanut oil to cook with and a tin could be
useful in putting dahl or even chillies in rather than just putting them on a piece of paper. Yes, they
were grateful. They were a happy bunch too and certainly made me feel mighty humble and made me
realize more fully that we all just take things for granted and too often are ungrateful for the
wonderful blessings we have, and neglect to thank God that our lot has been cast in pleasant places.Certainly, money and everything this world offers will not bring true happiness. Happiness comes
One of the best demonstrations I have ever seen of real contentment, no matter what our lot
is, was during our visit with Brother and Sister Carl and Emma Johnson at Mt. Zion, some three
hundred miles from the city of Madras. Emma and I visited one of the faithful members. That hut was
all but fallen. Evidently it had been built some years ago, and with the monsoons year after year, it
was almost destroyed. Just inside the door, in large block letters, were these words - God Bless Our
Home. That Sister's brother had attended school and had learned some English so he had practised
a bit of art on the mud wall. Again, I was made to feel both very humble and grateful.
No wonder the Church is growing in leaps and bounds in India. Remember what Mark 12:27
says? The common people heard him gladly. There are thousands of people in that country who are
hungering and thirsting for righteousness and are anxious to listen to the gospel. No wonder my
husband is anxious to return to that country and help with the harvest in that field that is ripe. The
Lord willing, before this book is printed, he will be there and busy working for the Lord.
Most missionaries who are there go to the cooler regions during the hot season, but we never
took time off for a holiday. At least my husband didn't, but he wanted to go to a place called Coonor
where he had been exploring the possibilities of having meetings. One man who had been a preacher
for a sect, obeyed the gospel, so he was anxious to see what was being done. I had been rather
poorly, so since a change from the awful heat would be good for me as well as the girls, arrangements
were made for us to spend a week in what is called a missionary rest home. One evening, we boarded
The Blue Mountain Express and set out for Coonor. Our apartment was very comfortable and clean
and we enjoyed the ride a lot, for the nearer we got to our destination, we knew the cooler we would
be. The train only went to a place called Mettapalyam and we ascended the mountain to Coonor in
a little train which the engine pushed up the mountain. We had not gone many miles before we put
our sweaters on. We were cold. The altitude is about 6000 feet and it never gets more than 80 there,
so that was quite a change for us.
On the way up, we saw some jack fruit trees which I had wanted to see since our friends in
Madras had often given us some of this fruit. They had a plantation in the State of Kerala where this
fruit grows in abundance. One jack fruit will often weigh as much as thirty pounds. They grow on tall
trees, but seldom are there more than eight on a tree. The fruit has a flavor all its own and I was the
only one at our house that was fond of it. There were some monkeys too along the track, but Carol
was the only one who saw them. We did see a number of monkeys in their natural habitat near the
town a few days later, and I managed to get a picture of some of them. A few times when that little
engine was pushing us up that mountain, the way it puffed, I wondered if we would get to the top,
but we did and were soon in our rooms that had been reserved for us.
Our stay in Coonor was restful and pleasant. My husband preached many times and baptized
thirty-three people. The couple that I mentioned visiting who had the writing on the wall, were two
of those who obeyed the gospel.
This being a tea district, we found it very interesting to go through a factory where we saw
the women bring the tiny leaves they had plucked during the day (they got very little wages) and we
also saw how the leaves were cured ready for shipping.
The girls and I visited a silk factory. Not one where silk cloth is made but where the worms
are hatched and fed on mulberry leaves that grew on the compound. We went from room to room
where worms of all sizes were somewhere busy making the cocoons, and at the end of the tour the
man showed us how the silk threads are spun. He gave me some cocoons and also the thread he
wound from this odd looking little thing. This was very interesting too.
Another very interesting place there is the Pasteur Institute where experiments for rabies were
made on guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and horses.
The eucalyptus trees there are simply beautiful when in blossom, and we got there in time to
see them. We have never seen such beautifully trimmed hedges as those near Coonor and the park
in the nearby town of Ooty tops anything we have ever seen. For example, the map of India with each
State represented by shrubs, was fantastic. The whole layout of the park was super. Flowers grow
in profusion and no artists could really bring out their beauty.
We left for home with a feeling that much good had been accomplished and this was the
beginning of the work in that part of India that has grown so rapidly since the Carl Johnson's have
made their home in that district. There are a number of congregations in that area now, as well as new
and thriving congregations down in the plains where the Johnsons have labored, and through the
Bible Schools that they conducted at their home in Mt. Zion, some very fine men have developed into
real workers for the Lord. Again, we see fruits of Bible Schools where the Bible is taught each day.
When we returned to Madras, the following two weeks were the hottest on record. How my
husband could be out in the hot sun day after day was a mystery to me, but the time came when he
was not able to do this so well. There were times when he went for meetings in villages and on longer
trips that he was so poorly that I often wondered if I would see him alive again. The Lord always
brought him home again though. Only once did I accompany him on a long trip, when we went into
the State of Mysore to the city of Bangalore. It is a very pretty city and is much cleaner than Madras,
as well as having a cooler climate. We were away for two nights.
Having servants in India is fashionable and from my observation, many times they are ill
treated, but on the other side of this there is also a different story which I understand plainly. Those
who were kind and good to their servants were taken advantage of, and one of their tricks is to ask
for money in advance and then just quit working.
When I took over the work of correcting and mailing out the Basic Bible Courses, one of the
men who was helping by running errands for my husband said he would rather work for Emma, than
for her husband. He was dependable and did the best he could to be helpful to us both and if I ever
go to India and need a servant, I hope Peter will fill the position.
Both the Basic and Advanced Courses were beneficial to those who were eager to learn. This
Basic Course was printed in three languages - Telugu, Tamil and English. This made plenty of work
for the ones who had charge of printing. These courses were a great help in teaching many who livedmiles away and had no way of hearing the gospel preached. Also, these Bible Courses were used to
teach the young converts.
During our sojourn in India we were blessed with having a number of preaching brethren visit
us, and have a part of this work. There were Brothers Hare, Choate, Hogan and Davidson, as well
as an elder in one of the congregations in the States. Also, Brother and Sister Stewart who lived in
Kabal, Afganstan, Brother and Sister Carter who were the main ones in starting the work in Bombay,
and others who were touring Asia. We were so happy to have them with us. Many times I thought
of Brother and Sister Perry, David Hallett and Ray McMillan who seldom had visitors. Assam is more
of an out of the way place, while Madras is a center for tourists.
We often said it must have been pretty lonely for people who went to India to do missionary
work years ago, and there were hundreds who went, (but, sad to say, the Church was not represented
in the number) for in those days mail service was slow. There were no jets to carry the mail so, at the
best, it would take ten weeks for a letter to get there. Letters mean more to folks in far-away lands
and don't we know it? When we arrived in London, and during the six days we were there, we
received letters, and also at every port, not only from our dear ones in the flesh, but those in Christ
too. Our mail was delivered three times daily in Madras and we were always thrilled to see the
postman for we knew there were letters from home. How many times have you written a letter to
someone who is across the seas striving to bring the lost to Christ, and let them know you are
thinking of and praying for them? Letters encourage folks and certainly it takes very little time to
write a letter.
I cannot begin to describe the poverty that exists in India. We were desperately poor during
the depression, but when I went to India I realized that we didn't really know what it was to be
destitute and have to live in a one room mud hut, with little to eat.
Recently, here in Canada, Margo told me of the White elephant sale that was held at the
school she attends, and one of the boys brought a TV and a record player, both in good condition,
and they sold for a few cents. His parents had new ones so they wanted to get these out of sight.
Most of the people on this continent have TOO much of this world's goods and are wasteful and,
seemingly, don't realize it. Never do I fail to thank God as I go to bed at night, for a comfortable
place to rest. Not only do I have a good bed, but if I am chilly, I can turn the thermostat to whatever
temperature I desire. There are no mosquitoes buzzing around, nor flies to torment me. I thought I
had been thankful for blessings which the Lord continually showers upon us all, but when we went
to India and saw the poverty that thousands are compelled to endure, I realized more forcibly that
our lot had been cast in pleasant places. Yes, night after night the ceiling fans could not produce a
cool breeze, and when we would rise to begin another day of work for the Lord, we felt tired.
The second summer we were in India, we decided we would sleep outside on the roof of the
part of the house that was only one storey. Each evening the five mattresses with sheets and pillows
were put on the cement roof. It was much more pleasant out there with only the skies over us, than
under the fans, unless the mosquitoes chased us inside or, at times, the dew was too heavy and our
beds would be too damp for comfort. We were never at ease where the mosquitoes were, lest one
that carried the Elephantitus germ should bite us, and then contaminate us with a disease that is
simply horrible. For those who wonder how this disease affects people, I shall explain. It causes the
feet and legs to swell until the skin actually bursts. One's legs become too heavy to walk. This disease
can be cured if treatments are begun at its early stage.
Hundreds of people in the city of Madras sleep on the streets. This is the case in every city
I was in. During the monsoon season, it is not unusual to see people sleeping in large tiles that are
used in building roads. At least they are out of the rain.
During my stay in the hospital at Vellore, an elderly lady was brought in and she occupied the
other bed in my room. She spent hours crying. Her granddaughter who stayed with her spoke English
quite well. I asked her why her grandmother cried so much, and she said, Grandma has never been
in a bed before, and she is afraid to go to sleep lest she fall out of the bed. The dear old lady wanted
to be on her thin bamboo mat on the hard floor. Hard beds won't hurt anyone, but when you have
never slept on one or seldom on the floor even, you may find it difficult to become used to this. We
were so used to resting on a hard bed that the first night we spent with our eldest son and his family
upon our arrival home, we were really uncomfortable and wished we could have had a hard bed, so
this was a lesson that we can appreciate, Making the best of each situation which we may find
May 28, 1965 was a happy day for us. We were thrilled to have Jim and Eva to help us in this
great work. They made their home with us until their boxes arrived. Before many hours had passed
Brother Johnson was out with my husband, going to villages preaching the unsearchable riches of
Christ. He has never slowed up, and has worked unbelievably hard, preaching and conducting the
Bible Schools where local men were taught more fully concerning the way of life. Sister Johnson
joined in the work too, and went to villages teaching ladies Bible Classes.
Traveling by city buses to villages was certainly tiring. We sometimes waited for our bus and
when it arrived it was so loaded it never stopped. Perhaps in another twenty minutes another came,
and it would be very crowded, so we had to stand. Seldom did I ever stand long. There was always
some gentleman who offered his place to me. People in Asia honor the hoary head. We always
returned very weary but very happy, having been able to teach those women more about Jesus, about
His Church and how to live as He would have us all live in service to Him.
As I previously mentioned, it seemed the only alternative for the girls was to return to Canada
for their schooling. They were not anxious to do this, but when word came that the Correspondence
Course they had received was the wrong Course, this seemed to be the last straw, and the two had
a short conference and decided they would go home. Their daddy was in another State, going from
village to village preaching, and there was no way for me to converse with him about this matter, so
I simply left it to them to make the decision. Time was a very important element and knowing how
long it takes for any legal papers to be obtained over there, I consulted our Travel Agent at once, and
their passports were ordered. Till then, they had traveled with me, hence they had no need for a
passport. Surprisingly, within a week, their's came and everything was in order for their departure.
In the meantime, their daddy arrived home.
It was hard to have them go so far from us, but we could not be selfish and compel them to
stay, so on the afternoon of August 26, 1965 we took them to the airport. When we had said our
goodbyes they slowly walked to the plane. Debra never raised her head, but Carol turned and
waved to us just before she stepped into the plane.
They were not going to live among strangers. They had twin brothers and their elder sister
who lived not many miles from Western Christian College, whose homes were their home any time
they could come. Without fear of being accused of showing partiality, I give special thanks to Roy
and Helen for taking full responsibility of the girls' welfare. They became their guardians and the girls
became eligible for free hospitalization and doctors' care, as well as receiving the monthly allowance
money which the Government of Canada gives to mothers or guardians, to be used for the children
Indeed we missed them, and at times we were so lonely for them, but we knew they were able
to attend school where the Bible is taught. Their going left a vacancy in Margo's heart and she was
a lonely little girl. She and I read many books during the following months. She attended a school that
is rated as one of the best in the city, but somehow she was never really happy.
On January 12, 1966, another wonderful couple arrived to labor for the Lord. When they left
Canada, the temperature was below zero and they were dressed for such weather, so you can imagine
what a difference they found when they landed in Madras. I shall never forget the first trip they made
to villages. They left at three thirty a.m. and returned at eleven thirty p.m. They were so covered with
red dust they were almost beyond recognition. They had traveled more than one hundred miles in the
jeep, and had had meetings in ten places. They were as tired as they were dusty, but were happy. They
too lived with us until their belongings arrived, some three months later.
Virley and Mavis were living in Australia and were expecting their third child. Mavis was
poorly, and it was decided I should go and be of whatever help I could. Carl and Emma were living
with us and I felt free to go, so at noon, January 28, 1966, I boarded the plane that carried me to
Singapore where Brother and Sister Pense Dacus, Brother Whitfield and Sister Daveson, who were
working with the school, were waiting to greet me. I had never met them, but as is always the case,
we felt as one family and I enjoyed my visit with them. At ten thirty that night, I boarded the plane
which carried me to Sydney, where I waited for an hour for another plane to carry me to Canberra,
It was indeed sweet to be with Virley, Mavis and their sweet girls. The following Monday,
little David was born and how thankful and happy we were. My stay there was certainly pleasant. I
enjoyed every moment of it. Not only was it good to be with my dear ones, but it was such a treat
to see clean, well-cared for children, and clean streets, as well as the cool refreshing weather.
On March 1, I left for home (Madras). I spent that night with Sister Daveson in her room at
the school, and the following evening I arrived at the Madras Airport where both Johnson couples,
Nehemiah, and many other Christians, and my Margo girl (who was the happiest and most excited
of all), met me. Margo was too excited to attend school the next day.
I am grateful to my children, one of my dearest Uncles and Aunts, as well as friends, who
made this trip possible.
You no doubt have noticed my husband's name is not among those who were at the airport
to welcome me home. He was away in meetings in another State.
One Lord's Day, Margo and I went with Carl and Emma to a village where there were a few
members. We had a good meeting (outside, for there was no meeting house there) and after the
services, a man brought a chicken to Carl and asked Carl to auction it, and whatever was paid for the
chicken was to be given to the Lord. I knew Carl was a little perplexed, so I said I would pay the man
for the chicken. I didn't want the poor little chicken, but I felt obligated to encourage the man in
giving what he had to the Lord. The poor fellow had no money but he had a few chickens. I am sure
his giving was reminded of the account recorded in Luke 12:41-44 where the widow had given all
she had. How many of us give as we should?
When Carl and Emma loaded the jeep with their belongings which had arrived that day, they
left for what was to be their home at Mount Zion, in the cooler regions of Madras State. They had
no sooner arrived there and were partly settled when they decided to have a Bible School. This
proved to be as profitable in teaching the people there as it had been in the city of Madras or
anywhere in any country, for there is no better way to learn God's word than to really study every
day. They have made this their home since, and are still conducting classes, and preaching at the
For many years the English language has been taught in India, and University students were
certainly opposed to having Hindi as the standard language, so trouble came. The city was in a
turmoil, and many terrible things happened. Many telephone booths were burned, a number of city
buses were destroyed and many hundreds of dollars worth of destruction took place. By far, the most
terrible was when some students tied two policemen to a telephone pole, poured oil on them and
threw a lighted match on them.
It was not safe to be out after dark, but regardless of warnings, my husband went wherever
and whenever he liked and had meetings, and no harm befell him. It was a happy day when peace
came. It was like, A calm after the storm. Destruction and bloodshed always occur in riots. How
wonderful it would be if people had the love of God in their hearts instead of hatred, for love is kind.