Archie Luper of Ventura, California was one man who deeply appreciated Elizabeth, her life and work.
Archie paid all the expenses to bring Elizabeth back to the U.S. and made several costly attempts to have her life story written. Each attempt failed.
At a lectureship I was reminded by Elvis Hufferd's wife, with tears in her eyes, that I had made a promise to Elizabeth that if no one else wrote of the work, I would, and I have.
When Archie does things it is first class, and for this reason I am sorry it fell my lot, but I am proud of her and thankful I had the pleasure of working with her.
Elizabeth told me many times she did not want a book written about her, but rather about the work, never realizing her love of God and her love for her neighbor was the work.
- Elizabeth Bernard
- The Gertrude
- Strange World, Strange Food
- Little Land - Well Used
- Hong Kong
- Ah Wing
- Move to Loi So
- Everything But Routine
- Ah Wing Starts to School
- First Boy
- Salvadore Yue
- War Ends
- Elizabeth to Return
- Concubine Trouble
- The Communists
- Move to Hong Kong
- First Muriel
- Second Muriel
- Tai Po - Lost Mother, Gained son
- Opium Death
- One Worker
- Sherwin Lum
- Aid to Canton
- Gloria (Ah Wing)
- Last Mile of the Way
A young girl, Gloria Yue, standing outside with soft snow falling around her, cried. She suddenly felt she had come to the end of the line. She was in Kwei Yeung, China. World War II was very much a reality all around her. There had been an evacuation of the city due to the Japanese being so close, but without any money she and her young husband Salvadore were unable to run any farther.
For months they had fled, always one step ahead of the Japanese. Already the soldiers had robbed them of all their possessions, but they had been saved from a brutal molestation as they passed through a "no man's" land by a passing jeep full of M.P.'s.
Now it was night, but light due to the falling snow. Hungry, scared and lonely, Gloria started trying to write a letter to the only person on earth she knew to turn to, Elizabeth Bernard.
Elizabeth Bernard had taken care of Gloria since she was eight years old. Now "Mama" Bernard, having been forced out of China, after fleeing for months, was somewhere in a country called America.
So as the tears fell, she started her letter, not even concerned with the impossibility of getting the letter to her beloved Elizabeth, but knowing it was only Elizabeth she could turn to. Her thoughts, being so jumbled, would not let her concentrate, making it difficult for her to remember her proper English which she had not used for so many months. Gloria remembered the God in whose kingdom she had been baptized at the age of 12. Elizabeth Bernard had continually taught from her youth about this great God, and taught her to place her trust in Him.
New thoughts raced through her mind, becoming entangled with all the others. So with the tears still flowing, a prayer on her lips, her small starved hand tried to write. Then she heard a voice behind her speak her name.
Turning, half expecting to see God Himself, she saw David Lui, with whom she had studied in the Canton Bible School. David Lui and his wife took them in and cared for them. The road suddenly seemed to look better.
Gloria's devotion to Elizabeth Bernard never diminished, nor did her devotion to the God Elizabeth had taught her to love and respect. Gloria longed for the day when she would again be reunited with:
Elizabeth was born October 10, 1890, in De Soto, Texas, the daughter of Dr. John T. and Mrs. Estella Silvena Bernard. At the age of ten she was baptized by John Oliver. They later moved to Macon, where her father practiced medicine. As a teenager she lived a short time with relatives in San Angelo. She later received nurse's training and attended the college of Industrial Arts in Denton, Texas.
On August 15, 1918 Elizabeth entered the Army. Here she drew on her compassionate nature and learned to help the sick, to bind wounds and minister to the diseased. Here also she contracted tuberculosis. Her eyesight had also been troubling her. She had that checked and was told she was going blind. In such condition her government could not use her, so on July 15, 1920, she was discharged from the Army and told she would receive a pension from the government for the rest of her life.
When she learned she could receive this money even if she lived outside the United States, she decided to fulfill a desire to serve God on a foreign field.
To prepare herself for a life of blindness, and the possibility of teaching the blind, she took a five months Harvard Extension Course, a six weeks course at New York University, one year manual arts for the blind at Evergreen School for the Blind, Baltimore, six weeks of weaving at Cambridge and two years physio-therapy by the U.S. Veterans Bureau.
Later, Elizabeth homesteaded a place in the Mojave Desert in California, studied Spanish and Japanese, and taught in the Japanese mission in Los Angeles. Also during these few years, she attempted to find support and encouragement to enter her chosen mission field - China.
Elizabeth approached her uncle, an elder in the church, regarding her going to China to help in the mission. His answer was to test her faith and show what iron clad determination she contained. "Elizabeth," he answered, "I not only will not encourage you in this, but I will do all in my power to keep you from going."
When her friends came to see her one day and asked why she was even thinking of going (in her "condition"), and made the remark that the other missionaries had enough problems there already, Elizabeth's great heart almost broke. Fighting to hold back the tears, and not let the disappointment and discouragement show from the remarks of ones so dear, she answered, "I have tried to serve my country, and gave valuable, healthy years in the Army as a nurse. I don't regret this, as I love my country. I have tried always to serve my God, and now even though my health is broken, I would like to serve as best I know how, in a place I can serve best. China is a country of sickness and poverty. Their poverty I cannot help, but their sickness I can aid a little, and with all the blind training I have received, surely the blind I can teach to read and study God's work. Do you realize how many blind there are in China who otherwise will never be taught? Who else will go teach?"
Even though Jesus Himself truly said "a prophet is not without honor save in his own country among his own people," hearts were touched, new eyes watered, and respect and understanding were reached.
A concern she did have and a continual worry was her mother. This was answered when her mother asked her one day, "Elizabeth, if you do follow through with you plans and years of hope and go to China, what will happen to me?" Elizabeth, almost without thinking, came out with the answer, "Mom, I will just take you with me." And this she did.
Finally with the help of brethren in Louisville, Kentucky, she and her mother received enough money to pay their fare and on December 31, 1932, they both boarded a freighter, the Gertrude Maersk, at Los Angeles. Captain Nielsen came personally to the small state room and, informed them they would have to pay additional funds on the baggage, as there had been a misunderstanding when the funds for the fare were sent. The total cost of both fares was $440.00, leaving them with $60.00 cash, which she knew they would need until her check arrived.
Elizabeth informed him it was all the money they could spare and he would have to unload them and the baggage, and let them try to raise additional funds or wait for the next pension check, then catch a later ship.
"Before I do that I will pay it myself," the Captain mumbled as he turned away. So on January 1, 1933, the beginning of a new year, they sailed toward a new life, in a new country. Elizabeth was 42 years old.
The Gertrude had three cabins to accommodate passengers. Aside from the Bernards were Dr. and Mrs. Taylor, from a China inland mission, and a young man, John Adam, from Pennsylvania.
Dr. Taylor came to the Bernard's cabin often to assure them they were having a lovely crossing, and they were not really seasick, then to offer various remedies for the sickness he said they didn't have.
The pilot house was directly over Elizabeth's cabin. It was so reassuring to know someone was on duty, she would not even complain when she would hear him dance a jig directly over her head.
Elizabeth's comment on January 6th when the radio news came of President Coolidge's death was, "Presidents just don't seem able to die of old age."
The twelfth of January was a memorable day as they crossed the 180th parallel, the imaginary line that divides this planet. That week had only six days as the next day was January 14th.
Elizabeth felt sick every time she tried to work. "For two weeks," she said, "I felt like a wilted mess of greens."
Two days later the ship hit rough water. That night the captain, trying to explain how the ship answered the rudder, said, "The ship goes over the waves." Just then a big one hit, their supper took a precarious journey, and the skipper hurriedly continued, "except when she goes under them."
As the sun rose Saturday morning January 21, the great island of Japan had replaced the tiny specks on the ocean's horizon. By eleven o'clock they had anchored in Yokohama harbor. Because the ship was carrying kerosene as cargo, the Japanese would not let the ship dock.
Elizabeth walked out on deck and breathed deeply. Small sampans and junks had begun to cluster about the ship.
"Isn't it wonderful that God loves everyone, Miss Bernard?" Elizabeth whirled around to find Dr. Taylor watching her. "Oh yes, Dr. Taylor. And it is up to us to see that they find out He does love them and gave His Son. . . ."
"Now, now, Elizabeth," he interrupted, "calm down. We can't convert the world in a day, but with your enthusiasm, perhaps it won't take more than a month." They both laughed and tried to talk to the fishermen in small boats below.
Dr. Bixter, a missionary for the church of Christ in Japan, came aboard with his daughter, Dorothy, and arranged for Elizabeth and her mother to visit with them in Tokyo, and meet the Gertrude in Kobe the following Tuesday.
After Dr. Bixler fixed a flat on his car, they passed the Imperial Palace which was surrounded by a large moat filled with water.
Elizabeth could hardly comprehend the strange mixture of ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, in buildings, peoples, clothing, vehicles, etc.
Bicycles, automobiles, and tram cars all on the verge of being squashed, passed on the left side of the road. They darted, dodged, tooted, and squealed all at once. Other vehicles, rickshaws, man- drawn carts, horses and bullocks to carts, all led instead of driven. People were everywhere, darting, dodging and strolling, from an old bundle of rags hobbling along and bent over a stick to children playing and book ladies who wear stilts instead of shoes.
Hetty Lee Ewing from the mission at Ahizawka came to Tokyo to greet them.
At worship service the next day there were about 40 children all in western dress. The elder Japanese women wore native dress, but the only man present in native clothes was the Japanese preacher. It was very cold, and the little coal stove made very little impression.
As Elizabeth and Hetty Lee strolled through the Tokyo Meat Market, Elizabeth noticed sparrows tied by the feet in bunches of six. She turned to Hetty and asked, "Just how do you pick the neck or wing of a sparrow?" "Same way you pick a fish bone," Hetty giggled back.
Many small gifts were given to the newly arrived church workers.
The first encounter with "Asian panic" came when a telegram arrived informing them the Gertrude was due to sail at 4:00 p.m.
With much haste they arrived just about on time only to find the ship would not be ready to leave until the next morning. This was because the hatches could not be kept open during the heavy weather.
What attracted Elizabeth's attention most in all of Japan was the God given beauty of Mt. Fujiyama.
Strange World, Strange Food
On January 24th the Bernards docked in Kobe. Along with the other passengers, they were invited to have tea with Dr. Archibald Dyer, head of the Japan Evangelistic Bank. Even though the Dyers were English, they had adopted Japanese customs for their home.
In every Japanese house there is a little niche raised a little from the rest of the room. This is known as the Emperor's corner. It is reserved for him, should he ever pass by and honor the home with his presence. The most honorable seat in the room is directly in front of that raised chair. The guest seats himself as far away as possible until invited to sit near. Elizabeth recognized this also as an old Jewish custom, and a teaching of Jesus.
The eating place in which they dined was the famous Kikusuiro, with its forty large private dining rooms. The only furniture was a long table about one foot high; with round holes at each end about a foot in diameter. Huge charcoal blazers were placed in each, and skillets without handles were placed over the grills. The food, all uncooked and nicely arranged in bowls, was brought in on a "two-storied" wooden carrier and then cooked at the table. The Japanese girls then cooked the chicken and beef sukiyaki. The food was put on to cook with a little sugar, some sauce and a little water. They were given bowls of rice. Another bowl, placed before each, contained a raw egg. The proper way to eat is to take it from the pan with chopsticks, dip it in the raw egg which cools it, and also gives it a taste. The vegetables, placed in the cooker shortly after the beef consisted of long slices of bamboo, shredded onion, and to this was added a sort of dumpling.
The drink was green tea, served with no cream or sugar. One holds the cup with both hands, as it has no handles. The food was eaten with everyone sitting on floor cushions.
Elizabeth, showing off with the chopsticks, flopped the long sliced beef on her chin. Then she realized the Japanese held the bowl of rice to their mouth, and she overcame the floppy beef problem. Mr. Witmer got excited, tried to swallow a piece of chicken, and got choked.
The cost of the meal was 18 cents each.
Little Land - Well Used
As they boarded a train to go to Osaka, which is just across the bay from Kobe, Elizabeth remarked, "What a vast difference from America. There is so little land, but every inch of it seems to be used."
The little parcels of land have mud terraces to keep them level. They are of uneven shapes and sizes, and rows run just any direction. The land there looked just like a "crazy quilt." Some were flooded, and others were in all stages, from moisture to drying. The rice straw is stacked around a center pole, not unlike old-fashioned cornshucks. Some of the fields had burying grounds in the center of them.
In was in Osaka that Elizabeth first visited the Daimaru Department Store. At that time it was the second largest in all Japan. The store had eight stories. It was one of the first stores in Asia Elizabeth shopped in, and one of the last, for she went many times to the Daimaru store in Hong Kong even just before her stroke.
Sightseeing in the "Land of the Rising Sun" finally drew to an end, and they arrived back at the ship. The bay was not as calm as before, and Elizabeth worried about her mother being able to get back on the ship. Trying to reach the landing stage from the launch, Elizabeth sprained her wrist. When her mother hurt her foot, they decided to move the boarding to the other side of the ship. There they placed them on a large board in a rope basket and lifted them with a powerful winch.
On the 743 mile voyage from Kobe to Shanghai they had to pass through pirate waters. The captain told them a fleet of Chinese junks they were passing was probably pirates, but would not attack a ship such as the Gertrude, unless they became disabled. (Years later, Salvadore Yue, who married a girl Elizabeth was soon to meet, raise, and care for over the years, spent a night in the ocean as a result of such pirates.)
China is the world's oldest nation. They manufactured paper, invented gunpowder, and invented porcelain in the third century, the mariner's compass in the fourth, chess and playing cards in the twelfth.
On Sunday, January 29, 1933, the Gertrude arrived in Shanghai harbor. One look at the boiling, slimy, yellow water of the Yangtze would be enough to turn some back, but not Elizabeth. It is doubtful Shanghai has ever welcomed any foreigner with what is called open arms. How could China be expected ever to accept a person from what they would term the "outside" world?
After landing in Shanghai, Elizabeth, her mother, and Dr. Taylor visited the China Inland Mission, the headquarters of all Protestant missionaries. Elizabeth was much impressed with its language school, hospital, and department store. However, she could not believe people would live as the river people did that lived on boats in the river. Being a nurse, Elizabeth at first wondered how epidemics were kept down.
Children would walk freely on the boats, even babies would crawl along the edge, without anyone trying to keep them out of the water. She wondered if being born on a boat gave a child a built-in instinct. Many thousand are born, live and die on those small Chinese junks.
It is not unusual to see a family of nine on a fifteen foot junk. The junk has a curved shelter over most of it made up of bamboo slats and a black covering. The space is so small they move about doubled up.
On the side of each are long poles for pushing and steering and other poles and nets for fishing. Hanging from all are drying clothes. The shirts and pants are dried with poles run through the sleeves and legs. Rowing is done with one long oar at the stern.
Elizabeth was somewhat filled with thoughts of home as she saw Eastman Kodak, Bayer aspirin and Del Monte fruits advertised on the shore line.
On February 3, 1933, the seven thousand mile ocean voyage came to an end as they arrived in Hong Kong harbor. Elizabeth and her mother, Estella, bid farewell to the Gertrude, picked up her mail and check from the Central Post Office in downtown Hong Kong, crossed to Kowloon, and found the house which had been arranged for, and was "home." The house belonged to a missionary named Broaddus, but he was away.
The worship service that Sunday was so different from any Elizabeth had ever attended. The singing, being in Chinese, was strange. Outside were noises only the Chinese can produce. Unable to understand the part of the service that was not translated, Elizabeth started making a list of the noises: the clatter of wooden shoes, the cries of mong hucksters (peddlers), cats, a bell, a squeaky horn, a drum, then a whole band. (She was later to learn this band was from a funeral.) People would walk about and talk in the worship service just as they pleased. The preacher did not seem to mind, so Elizabeth asked him later why he allowed it.
"Elizabeth," he replied, "you were raised with a custom of keeping silent in the worship service. The Chinese have spent generations in a pagan worship made up of noise. Firecrackers are part of their worship. Not only do they have noise, but smell. Incense is burned at all worships, and hell money is also burned, along with paper houses, etc., which are supposed to go to their departed loved ones."
"At a funeral, they have noise. They have a band and a parade. The casket, made of four slabs of wood, resembling very much a tree truck, is carried at the rear of the parade. There are large floats, and paid mourners (making noise) dressed in white robes. It almost seems as though it was born in them to make noise when they worship a god."
Elizabeth's only reply was, "I suppose I will have a lot to forget, and an awful lot to learn."
When Elizabeth took her first walk in the country, she stopped eating the delicious greens of which she had grown so fond. It was there she found its fertilizer came from humans.
"A nation cannot exist with this kind of sanitation," Elizabeth told her friend. "They will all soon die."
"True with another nation," was the reply, "but China has an age old custom of cooking everything and eating and drinking it hot; never any leftovers; even drinking hot tea instead of water. Americans have a saying about the Chinese eating everything on their plate, and so hope to teach their children to not waste food," she continued, "but the real reason they don't keep leftovers, is that the Chinese break all the rules of sanitation every day, and if they tried to keep leftovers, they would die. Their food is not of such to be recooked and because of lack of sanitation cannot be eaten cold. If they don't eat it they don't keep it."
The Chinese were forced to clean house once a year, and an inspector would see to it. It was the custom once a year for the kitchen god to make his report to heaven, and they give him a good send off, and anxiously await his return. Elizabeth also anxiously awaited his return for she told her mother, "I think this is the only time of the year they run the roaches off, and they have all arrived here, and we are stuck with them until their kitchen, whatever it is, returns from wherever it went."
The people have their morning meal about 10:00 a.m. It is eaten on the street, in the markets or wherever they happen to be. Dirty surroundings and horrid smells don't seem to effect their appetite the least bit. They always eat from bowls. They do not make sandwiches. They carry along a small stove and serve the food hot. That custom seems to be the only thing that baffles the germs.
Shortly after arriving, Elizabeth visited two cemeteries. One was Chinese and the other, English. The Chinese one seemed neglected and abandoned. The graves are only used until the body is decayed. Then it is dug up and the bones are placed in an earthen pot in a sitting position, with the skull in the center, as though a sitting person simply wilted.
Once a year the Chinese go to the grave and worship, taking along a basket of cooked food. A Christian asked a Chinese one day just when he expected the departed love one to come and eat from the basket of food. His reply was, "About ten seconds after yours comes and smells from your basket of flowers."
Then she visited the Happy Valley Cemetery. This is an English Cemetery where all foreigners are buried. She stopped at the grave of Robert Semple, the first husband of Amy Semple McPherson, and also at the grave of Peggy Broaddus. Peggy was buried on one of the high terraces where the azaleas were in full bloom. The cemetery is a beautiful place. It is terraced up the side of a mountain. Almost a mile Elizabeth walked. Little did she realize it then, but many years later Tom Tune would slowly walk up this same winding walk with her ashes in his arms as he carried all her earthly remains to its final resting place, her mother's grave, at the very top, among the still blooming flowers. Along side of him would be Gloria Yue, whom Elizabeth would shortly meet and obtain custody of, and Gloria's twenty-year-old daughter Elaine. Before this would come to pass there would be over forty faith-filled years of service to our Lord working with the Chinese.
When a chapel was opened on March 28, 1933, several came with babies or small children. Later the joy of so many being there diminished as they found the ladies came because it kept the children quiet, and later when the kids lost interest they stopped coming. However, they continued on. Many would stand at the door thinking the seats were bewitched.
When one lady wished to be baptized, Elizabeth and her mother obtained some canvas, sewed it together and had a carpenter build a frame. The first baptism took place while Elizabeth and one Chinese man sang "Happy Day."
When the language teacher went on a week's vacation at Easter time, Elizabeth, her mother, and Sister Mattley went by boat to Canton. Canton was very different from Hong Kong. Many streets were mere footpaths between two and three story houses.
In Canton they were met by George Benson, head of the Canton Bible School. During the Saturday afternoon tea with the women from the Bible School many questions were asked of these freshly arrived Americans.
In September, after two months of study in the Chinese character study, Elizabeth had to give it up. It was too much strain on her eyes. She then concentrated on studying what is called Romanized. These are words spelled in English with the sound of the character. The Chinese have no alphabet and each character, 50,000 of them, must be memorized, along with its sound. The character for God would be written in Romanized "Sun." The language also has nine tones, so there would have to be a mark for each tone. She was soon reading the Romanized Bible.
By the end of the first year, aside from the language study, she had an increase in her class to sixteen pupils ranging from ages 3 to 17. These had read and studied the whole book of Matthew. During that year her pension check had been cut in half to $40.00 monthly.
"What are some of the difficulties you suffer here?" the Taylors asked Elizabeth when they made a return trip to Hong Kong. There were so many Elizabeth hardly knew what to answer, but she spoke what was on her mind the most. "Mail! By the time I write a letter and get an answer, even if they send an answer that day, which they don't, it's been two months, and by then I forgot what I asked." Everyone looked forward to the arrival of the mail boats.
"Another thing," she continued, "are the cockroaches. They eat holes in the silk or anything that is left soiled overnight. Ethel lost a new silk slip to them last week. Ruth lost her silk sham dress. When they piddle on things, the spot never fades. Our little lizards, who are supposed to eat them and keep them thinned out have all disappeared except one, and I think he lost a battle with a roach for he is limping so badly he cannot hang onto the ceiling."
Ah WingEarly in 1934, Ah Wing (Gloria Yue) came to live with the Bernards. Gloria was eight years old when her mother, Luk Sham, told her, "I have talked with an American, Elizabeth Bernard, and she has agreed to care for you. I had high hopes of keeping you and your brothers together, but I cannot find work. I am thankful now I did not bring the other two children with me from Canton."
Gloria, although only eight, had already suffered much. Her father had died in Canton leaving five children. When her mother came to Hong Kong seeking work, two of their children were left behind in Canton. Unable to find work, they were now without money and almost destitute. However, nothing before had ever brought such a lonely, sick fear to Gloria as being told she would have to live with a foreigner, a "foreign devil" as they were called by the Chinese. Many thoughts raced through her young mind. She had never even seen one, and now she was being told she would have to live with one. What would they look like? Did they smell? What kind of language did they use? Would they beat her? None of her thoughts were of any encouragement.
The first few weeks were nothing but chaos. Elizabeth liked the pretty little Gloria, with her cute little flat nose, from first sight. But little independent Gloria, having to fend somewhat on her own, especially the past two years, did not in any way conform to any kind of discipline from this "foreign devil."
"Love thy neighbor as thyself." "Go into all the world and teach." Elizabeth knew to be successful in the second command, she would have to obey the first, but here was her test. She knew she could never teach God's love and not have love in her own heart.
Elizabeth had talked with missionaries who were returning home in despair after years of hardships and hard work. She believed they failed to reach the people because they could not forget their own faults to find something to love. Her prayer was the prayer of the Psalmist:
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Then will I teach transgressors thy way; and sinners will be converted unto thee."
After a few weeks the love of Elizabeth won the young, but not so tender, heart of Gloria. Elizabeth later wrote her friend, Belle, "Our little Ah Wing is such a good little thing now, but I remember the first few weeks with fear and trembling. I sure hope little Ah Wing will grow up to be a useful servant of the Lord. She is learning the language of the foreign devil (English) much faster than I am learning Chinese, so she helps me to understand."
Elizabeth, who had become somewhat depressed with her mother's pleurisy, running ears, headaches, indigestion, and "what not" now had a different set of problems - an eight year old set. There is nothing like the old to make a person feel older, and nothing like the young to roll the years back.
When Verlie Garrison, a nurse from California, broke the news to Elizabeth that, "I am very much in love with Orville Rodman and we plan to marry very soon," it ended her hope of having Verlie as a working companion.
"How will you live?" Elizabeth asked. "His support was listed last month in the Oriental Christian at $20. This will hardly do for two people."
Verlie simply answered, "We plan to marry the last Saturday in June, live in the Philippines, and there I will work in the hospital." They were married in the Benson House in Canton.
After Elizabeth had been in China four years, she stood by the side of the pool with tears filling her eyes as Ah Wing (Gloria) was buried with Christ in baptism. She turned and said, "This repays me for all my years here. I just hope now I can live to see her grow up a real heart and soul Christian." (And this she did live to see.)
Gloria was eleven at the time. Brother Oldham did the baptizing. Along with Gloria was his daughter, Arlita. The baptism took place in the baptistery at the Canton Bible School.
That same year on January 2, 1937, four years and a day from the time she left, Estella, Elizabeth's mother, arrived back in the States. Her returning had worried Elizabeth, but her mother had become so fretful, she finally told her to go ahead.
Later that year a little five-year-old Eurasian girl came to live with Elizabeth. She would get around Elizabeth and chatter incessantly. She was only there a short while, but during that time little Ah Wing was extremely jealous and would have nothing to do with her.
Move to Loi So
Going back to 1934, the first month found Elizabeth and her mother moved to the small village of Loi So in South China. By March there were many reports going out of China of how the work was progressing. Lewis T. Oldham reported 60,000 pieces of literature published. Lowell Davis reported six persons baptized the first Sunday of March. Roy Whitfield reported nine baptized the month before. Elizabeth received a large order of books from the Gospel Advocate, which she put to immediate use.
When the old Chinese man came to them and asked them to help them in the village of Loi So, he explained, "The Baptists were here, but have now gone away. Many are dead and the others asleep, as we were taught very little gospel before they left. Come use our chapel."
The village was on the bus line, and when they arrived they found a new chapel, partially paid for by Baptists elsewhere.
The home the Bernards lived in, was out over the lake. When the river backed up, it would flood the first floor. It was a two story house, so they would move to the next floor, all but Elizabeth's mother, that is. Estella had arthritis in one knee and would never climb any stairs if she could avoid it. At night the water would slowly rise with roars, noises, sighs, groans and bubbles, and then drain out during the daytime. This was during the times of flood. One night it came up the height of the bed legs, but still she stayed. Many nights Elizabeth waited for her to give up and call so she could help her up the stairs, but she hung on.
Everything But Routine
Elizabeth found four-fifths of the people could not read the Bible, and she was astonished by what the other one-fifth got from reading it.
One elderly lady asked her if she would help her obtain a white linen dress. "Why?" Elizabeth asked. "I read in the Bible where I will need it in the resurrection, and I fear I will be lost if I am not buried in one," she answered.
A young man who had worn his step-father's tunic during his minority, as was the custom, insisted that all his friends call him by his own name before his baptism for fear the Lord would get the name wrong in the Lamb's book of Life.
So for a while Elizabeth settled down into an "everything but routine" work of the Village. Not only was she busy teaching, but she had about twelve medical cases a day. Their poverty had caused living conditions unlike anything Elizabeth had ever experienced. Their ignorance of germs and sanitation had brought on much suffering.
After catching a woman using a Boric solution Elizabeth had given her for an eyewash as a poultice on her eyebrows, she realized they would not follow instructions. So then she would not give out over one dose at a time of anything.
One lady, with a felon on her finger, had Elizabeth dress it. Later the lady took off the dressing and wrapped a pig entrail on the sore. Elizabeth, fearing blood poisoning would set in and she be blamed, refused any further help until the lady promised to do things Elizabeth's way.
Turning to a visitor one day Elizabeth remarked, "Look how gray-headed I am getting. Being a missionary certainly isn't a nice, peaceful, sanctimonious life. How could my hair be getting so gray when I haven't even gotten around to the heathen yet?"
So much of the simple worship service Elizabeth had enjoyed in America became great problems in China. She wrote back to America, "Do you know what leavened bread or unleavened bread really is? I always thought that any raising agent was leaven, but the dictionary says yeast is the only leaven or substance which raises by fermentation. I thought soda and baking powder were just as much leaven as yeast. How did the children of Israel prepare unleavened bread in the wilderness? How do you make flour? How do you bake without ovens? The Chinese inland have no flour, no ovens, and no grapes. Imported grape juice is very expensive. These are not idle speculations, but real problems that I have already run up against. When I protested at light bread or yeast buns being used at one place, they changed to soda crackers and justified it by the above."
"How do they harvest rice in America?" Ah Wing asked one day while watching them slap rice over the side of a tub as fast as it was cut to thrash out the grain. After much thought Elizabeth answered, as they walked by grain being dried in flat baskets, "I don't really know, I have never seen them harvest rice in America. For sure though, they don't use a water buffalo as they do here to work the farms." When they arrived back home they found some rice flour and root vegetables had been left for them as a thanks offering.
Food was a continual problem. After Elizabeth accidently ate the larva of the silk cocoon, she started paying more attention to what was served her. She well knew the Chinese wasted nothing when they butchered an animal. The blood was eagerly bought, and the entrails and skin were choice parts. It was the bugs and worms she shied away from the most.
Ah Wing Starts to School
Little Ah Wing had started to school, and even though she had never before been to school, she was soon catching up with her age group. In addition to doing her own washing and ironing, Ah Wing would leave home at 6:30, come back for lunch, and then go back to school until 5:00 p.m.
Getting her started had not been easy. All the other children her age knew some of the characters and she didn't know any. Being the proud little thing she was, she did not want to show her ignorance. There are 50,000 characters in the Chinese language, and one must learn how to write and pronounce each. Each has a tone as well as a sound.
Elizabeth would take her to school and put her in her seat. By the time she would arrive back home, Gloria would be in the door waiting for her. She just wouldn't stay. Finally after a few spankings and the teacher getting somewhat of a hold on her, she would stay for a little bit.
Ah Wing obtained more than learning in school, as she came home one day with lice and shared them with the whole household. There was never a shortage. As they would get rid of one bunch, Ah Wing would bring more.
Elizabeth feeling brave, tried going alone to Hong Kong, through the Chinese customs officers, to obtain much needed supplies. She felt she could stumble through her Chinese well enough to attempt it.
When she returned she found herself in the district of Kwong Moon instead of the City of Kwong Moon. The soldiers thinking she was smuggling, punched holes in her grocery bags, then tore them open. Finding a bag of currants, one soldier held one under her nose while she waved a customs receipt under his. She came out all right even though her temper was tried.
When things would go wrong, or during any sort of scolding Gloria would cling to Odessa White.
On December 17, 1934, Odessa White, "port in time of storm," was married to Lowell B. Davis. It was a large wedding. Even the Vice-Council of Canton was there. Although dressed in a lovely long white dress the bride could not out shine the radiant glow of one of the flower girls, little Ah Wing.
It is so very seldom a boy is given away, a healthy boy at that. Elizabeth was somewhat shocked when Gloria's mother came to her one day saying, "Ah Wing has done well with you. I would like very much for you to take her brother, Jock, and give him a similar chance in life." This was quite an honor as healthy sons are almost never given away, but sold at a good price to some family with no sons.
Elizabeth translated his name to mean "born to be a benefit" and told him, "Being a woman I cannot preach, but maybe someday I can see my preaching done through you."
After a few months with Elizabeth, five-year-old Jock saw a picture of a two-year-old boy holding his cake. "Who he, Mama?" he asked. Elizabeth explained he was an American boy with a birthday cake.
"Who god he worship?" he asked, pointing to the two candles.
"He is not worshipping a god," she replied.
"Why he burn candle?" he asked. She then realized Jock had always seen candles, incense, etc., used for worship to a heathen god, and thought very likely candles on a birthday cake came from a heathen worship.
Jock was full of questions. "When Jesus again come?" Or looking at the moon break through a cloud, "Is God's face?" he would ask. When he saw the picture of the tabernacle in the wilderness with the cloud overhead he asked, "Why they burn incense?" (such as he was used to in idol worship). Elizabeth was always trying to satisfy his curiosity.
As the bombing started hitting the city of Canton in 1937, so also started the evacuation of Americans from China. A British gunboat escorted the boat on which the Oldhams, Whitfields, and Davises were evacuated. But when they arrived in Hong Kong, the U.S. Consul would not grant them permission to stay and they had to return to the United States.
China, already in travail from its poverty, ignorance and illness, now suffered the violent burst of bombs, roar of the cannon and the heart-sickening sight of scattered, bleeding flesh. The Japanese Navy blocked the entire South China coast to keep arms and ammunition from entering. Late this same year, 1938, all communications by steamer or rail from Hong Kong to China were cut off. Business slowed and by November all foreign business was at a standstill.
With the power plant out of commission, 3,000 Japanese troops encamped outside the city, and the pumping station destroyed, Elizabeth decided it was time she also evacuated.
For a Chinese to evacuate there were problems, and for an American there would be different problems, because the Chinese would deal with the Chinese and the American with the British or foreign division of the Chinese Government. Now for Elizabeth to evacuate with three Chinese children -- Gloria, Jock and Stella Mei, she must deal with both. But deal she did, and succeed as only someone with determination could.
With much difficulty, they made their way to Hong Kong, passing through villages with their shell of houses, and through a concentration camp with its shells of people huddled together as the scared animals they were.
By March 1939, all American missionaries of the church of Christ in China had returned to the U.S. with the exception of Elizabeth Bernard and Ethel Mettley.
The Japanese invaded China like a flood. Destruction and death were everywhere. As destruction would rain from the sky, people would flee for safety, carrying what they could on their backs only to be robbed of it before reaching a safe place.
Christians tried to keep up the faith of the multitude in every way possible. A bakery in Kowloon, sending out crackers in tin boxes, would place a tract or scripture inside. Usually these were on a 3 x 7 piece of paper, printed in two colors, and in four languages. Little fourteen-year-old Gloria translated a hymn from English, which was then distributed. Meetings were held on the front porch of Elizabeth Bernard's house. In September 1939, five people were baptized. By 1940, much pressure was applied to Hong Kong and there was little doubt of it falling into the hands of the Japanese. Even from within, there was much danger. Due to overcrowding by refugees, disease grew rampant.
They learned Gloria's sister had disappeared, never to be heard from again. She had gone to care for some children of their friends, and when she left to return to Canton, they sent word for them to meet the train. When the train arrived she was not on it. This was not uncommon during such a time of distress. Trains were continually stopped by Japanese soldiers, searched and young girls taken, along with any valuables which might be found. The girls would be used and abandoned.
After much prayer and worry, Elizabeth knew she must leave Hong Kong. The city was too important for the Japanese to leave free. She also knew she would be placed in an internment camp, and her children left to the mercy of the occupying Army. Just before the fall of Hong Kong they made their way on a small sampan to Macau. It was through the pleading of the children, and the bribe money, that Elizabeth was able to take as many supplies as she did.
When it seems all else fails, sometimes children, who don't know how to take "no" for an answer, will accomplish the most.
To try and talk a sampan owner into overcrowding his boat is no small undertaking. All he owns is on the boat. The boat has been his home for as long as he can remember.
In the back of the boat is a metal lined hole in which they build a fire and cook their meals. To keep cool in the summer he takes off clothes. To keep warm in the winter he puts more on.
Now here were foreigners with more supplies than he owned trying to talk their way on his boat. The children insisted on placing certain things on the boat, and finding a spot for them, all the time shouting at each other, and paying little attention to the negative comments.
The forty mile trip to Macau was not going to be easy in a round bottom, 15 foot sampan under any conditions. The "Tai Tai," his wife, knew she would have to row the boat most of the way with the baby strapped on her back. So every pound they left behind would save her that much energy. The boat only had one oar, and it stuck out over the back. By twisting the oar at the same time it is pushed from side to side, the boat moves through the water on the same principle as a fish.
When they had everything ready and were about to leave, Elizabeth asked Miss Mattley to reconsider and go with them. Sorrowfully she answered, "I have had to leave too many dear people and go too far. I will take my chance and stay." She stayed, but it went bad for her. She spent a long time in an internment camp. Finally, the United States arranged for a Swedish ship to exchange some prisoners with the Japanese. Miss Mattley was released and left on that ship.
Brother Broaddus, who was back in Hong Kong at the time, died of heart trouble during the invasion. He had a severe heart condition and could not obtain the proper food. The invasion was too much for his grand old heart that already had gone through so much.
Brother Broaddus' wife and children had gone to the Philippines for safety. But instead of finding safety, they also were placed in an internment camp. They were supposed to have gone on to Australia because she was Canadian, but she didn't want to get too far away from her husband, and the Hong Kong government would not allow him to leave. He had visited them in the Philippines when their last child was born. He then returned to Hong Kong where he died. His family was shortly afterwards placed in the camp by the Japanese when they invaded the Philippines.
Macau, forty miles from Hong Kong, was like being in another country, as indeed it was. It was much smaller and quieter than Hong Kong and had been in the hands of the Portuguese for many years. After many hours, wet, sick and lonely, Elizabeth and her "family" arrived ready once again to try and dig in and set up housekeeping for both themselves and the Lord. Just before leaving Hong Kong, Elizabeth's mother had joined her once again from America. Due to the long cramped ride she could hardly walk when they arrived in Macau.
It did not take long for Macau to also fall under the power of the Japanese. It was here Elizabeth first met face to face with the ones from whom she had fled for what seemed forever.
The Japanese came in and demanded all the arms that were in the city. All the foreigners kept thinking they would at any minute be placed under house arrest and placed in an internment camp. As she looked into their eyes while they searched the house, Elizabeth saw the frightening hardened animal look war gives men. Gone was the expression she had grown fond of while working among the Japanese in the United States and visiting with them in Japan. It was then she thought to herself, "I must take my family and flee once again." Pearl Harbor had been bombed and America was at war with the people searching Elizabeth's house. Hong Kong was now in the hands of the Japanese, and the foreigners placed in camps, so she knew time was short.
Gloria, Jock and others had been sent to Wuchow away from the Japanese. Only Stella Mei was still with her, and she nearly died from sickness and was still not on her feet.
There was no legal way out. Macau was completely surrounded, as well as policed. The only way out was to sneak out and that's what they planned.
Lowell Davis, with his wife and two children, had joined them, and took charge of the party. Lowell had been working with a Filipino boat crew, and most of them planned to escape also.
Two families, who had been in business there and had suffered much by the soldiers, were in the party. One of the families had been in charge of the water plant and the other in charge of the electricity. Just before they were to leave, the Governor of Macau spoke with Lowell and asked him if he would as a special favor to him, take along another passenger. He was an Irishman who had escaped an internment camp in Hong Kong. He was drunk and causing a disturbance. Lowell agreed, but only due to his friendship with the Governor.
At midnight they all met and boarded a large row boat. There were three other boats going also. They all were lying in the bottom covered with a canvas so if a flashlight or searchlight turned on them at the mouth of the harbor, all that could be seen would be the Chinese that were rowing the boat.
Lowell and Odessa had an eight-month-old baby. About halfway out of the harbor, the baby started crying. Every attempt to quiet him failed. His mother had brought along cookies and when she tried to feed him, the child cried harder. She tried to nurse him, but he was in the midst of being weaned, and would not nurse. Everyone's life was at stake, for once the lookout heard him they would turn the large spotlight on them for a close look. The Chinese realizing this were saying, "Choke him, choke him." Odessa was so frightened, for she was afraid they would do it. Lowell said, "Give the child to me." He took the baby and put him on his shoulder and sat up by the side of one of the men who was rowing. The Chinese, still in a panic said, "That no do, they turn on light, they see yellow hair, they know you foreigner, we all die." One of the women took a black scarf she had and tied Lowell's head up in it. He laid the baby on his shoulder, gave him a pat or two and he just sighed and went to sleep. That solved the first of many problems.
During the day they would pull into shore and hide the boats, then start out again at dark. The second night the boat in front of them was fired upon. She never knew who was killed as they pulled into shore, and nothing was said.
After a few days the group managed to get on a regular river boat. Although it was completely void of any sort of luxury, it felt like a mansion compared with the cramped rowboat. From there the party boarded a train. The train had been forbidden to cross a flooded river, yet they proceeded on across the river anyway.
From the train they arranged for a ride on a truck. The truck was fast, and had no springs whatsoever. All there was to sit on was a plank. Elizabeth had a small stool, so she placed it between her knees and sat her baby, Stella Mei, on it. The stool would bounce so high on the dirt roads she had to hold her in her lap.
At the start of the trip, Stella Mei developed an infection on her legs and feet. The Irish doctor, who had escaped the internment camp in Hong Kong, had scurvy. He was sitting next to Elizabeth, and should have been concerned about the baby, but was so afraid its sores would rub his clothes he tried to keep his coat between them.
In Macau they were unable to buy supplies (another reason for leaving), and Elizabeth made some lye soap. She was careful to take some with her, and even had one piece in her purse. The baggage was lost, and someone stole the last piece of soap she had. She had been saving it especially for the baby's sores.
Somewhere along the way they were covered with lice. When finally they reached a sort of small hotel in a village, they ordered boiling water, dunked all their clothes in it and tried to clean up, and kill the nit in the clothes. The nit is the young of the body lice. Wool suit, felt hat, silk waist all went into the boiling water. Up until then they would all pick the seams of the garments at night.
Three days later, walking close to the Japanese lines, they knew they would have to hide well, for during the day planes would fly over. They solved this by hiding in an old abandoned boat. There was hay in it and when the scout plane would fly over some would hide in the hay while others hid under boards and seats.
Two days later they camped in sight of a Japanese fort. Arrangements had been made for a boat to carry them across the river, but by the time it arrived it was daylight. They had no choice but to try it, as they knew it was their only chance. With a prayer on their lips, they made the crossing without being seen, only God knowing how.
Nothing Elizabeth rode on had any sort of bedding. Everyone had to carry their own if they had it to carry. Elizabeth had an old comforter she would use to roll up in. When they arrived in Kweilin after six weeks traveling (a three day trip in normal times), she gave it to the U.S. Army, which took charge of them, and told them to burn it as it was so full of lice.
Although there was a U. S. Army base at Kweilin, one of those they build overnight, there was still no way to get funds from home. The Davises started making candy peanut butter and cookies to sell to the American solders. Shortly after arriving in Kweilin, Gloria joined them again.
It is the Chinese custom for the parents to find a mate for the children. Ah Wing's real mother, Luk Sham, found a man that had some money. At least the man said he did, and promised he would educate her boys if she would let him marry Gloria. They brought Ah Wing to him, but she would not have a thing to do with him. When her mother tried to force it, Elizabeth put her foot down and said, "No child of mine," (she had raised her all those years), "will be forced into any marriage." Her mother was so disgusted she wouldn't have anything more to do with Gloria, at least for a while.
When they brought the fellow to meet Gloria, she was polite to him, but that's all. She and another young couple went to a movie with him, but instead of setting with him, she sat by the other girl, on another row.
Although much older (he was in his thirties), he was nice looking. Elizabeth asked, "Why didn't you like him? Didn't you like his look's?" "No," she answered, "he looked like an opium smoker to me."
Shortly after the episode with the "mother-picked husband," Gloria was introduced to a young man working at the Air Field. He had just escaped from Hong Kong. His name was Salvadore Yue. It was almost love at first sight. From then on they were inseparable.
Salvadore had spotted Gloria before. At the time, he was walking with a friend of his, a girl named Ching (who was killed shortly afterwards). They passed close to a boat (Chinese junk) tied up close to shore. There was Lowell Davis, Elizabeth, and a very pretty Chinese girl. It did not take Salvadore long to find out just who this pretty little lady was, and to be introduced to Gloria.
In Kweilin there were caves to go to during the bombing. That was better than Canton, where they had told Elizabeth to take everyone under the stairway, as it was considered the most solid part of the house. However, Elizabeth had her doubts about that and let everyone choose their own place. Elizabeth had her place; she would go up on the roof and watch.
"Why the roof?" Gloria asked, never daring to join her there.
"Because," Elizabeth answered, "if it hits no one will be safe, and if it doesn't, I am just as safe there as anywhere, and I get to watch."
However, in Kweilin it was different. The bombing continued, now more intense than ever. There was a continual run to the caves. These were natural caves, and as the siren would sound, all would run for them. At one time Elizabeth and her "family" were living on a boat. The planes came up the river, inside the banks, and before they had a chance to flee for the caves, the anti-aircraft guns on the hills fired down at the planes, and through the boat.
"You must leave," the American Consul told Elizabeth.
"I am trying to arrange to go further inland," she replied.
"You don't understand," he demanded, "You must leave China. There is no safe place for you in China. All of China is at war. The Japanese are trying to occupy the whole country. They can't, because it's so big, but they are making a good try by going from place to place. We are arranging for you to be picked up by a 'Flying Tiger' and flown into India." (The Flying Tigers were formed before America entered the war by Claire Chennault, and were made up of American flyers, soldiers of fortune variety, and were paid by the Chinese Government.)
"What about Gloria, and six-year-old Stella Mei?" asked Elizabeth.
"Leave them," was his answer.
"I won't," she came back.
"I am sorry, Elizabeth, but you will," he said. And she did. It was not easy for anyone concerned. She fought to stay, but it was a lost battle. So, late one night, with hearts torn asunder, the Tiger flew her to India. From there she caught a ship for America, arriving back in the U.S. October 1944, twelve years after she had departed.
Not long after the Army had taken charge of Elizabeth and flown her out of Kweilin, the war became more intense. The war was not the only thing escalating. The love between Gloria and Salvadore reached the point to where they knew they wished to be with each other above all else, for the rest of whatever life they might have left, and they married. It was not a fancy wedding. How could it be under such wartime conditions? So they were united by a simple civil ceremony.
Once again Gloria realized they would have to run. Salvadore was offered a job at another base, but he would not be able to move Gloria at the same time, so he turned it down.
The government put up a notice that everyone had to evacuate. They were going to burn the city and fight the Japanese, and if the Army did not stay and fight they were going to burn the city anyway. There was no transportation for the people. The whole city was in chaos. Salvadore told Gloria, "We must stay at the station, the train is our only hope. If we can't catch one today, maybe tomorrow." Gloria, of course, was ready to run, but to where? Salvadore was firm, and they stayed put.
When they arrived at the station there was a train already loaded, really loaded, with people on top, and all over it. Gloria and Salvadore crawled under it and found two spots where they thought they could hold on. They were spotted by the soldiers and kicked off. (It was because of the danger the solders would not allow it.) As they were standing there, the station master got in an argument with an officer. "Move it," the Chinese officer said, which was received with a firm, "No!" However, the officer pulled a gun and the train pulled out without the station master's permission. The next day Gloria and Salvadore were able to get on an ammunition train. There were no seats or place for them, but they were able to climb on top of some bamboo boxes. A few hours later they passed what was left of the earlier train, and felt once again that God had a hand in directing them. The earlier train had run head on with another train, and the smell of death was everywhere. The tracks were cleared and they made their way through the wreckage.
The trip from Kweilin to Lui Chow was in normal times only one night by train. It took them two weeks. Their first night in Lui Chow, the place was bombed. The next day Salvadore told Gloria they must leave the cities and go to the countryside. The cities were receiving all the bombs.
After walking two days, hungry and tired, they stopped about 4 o'clock in the morning at an old house. It was raining hard, and Salvadore heard something.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Just rats," she answered, half asleep.
"I'll go see," he mumbled as he lit a candle. As he walked outside in the rain and looked up, he saw what was going to happen and yelled for Gloria to run. Unknown to him, she had stumbled out the back door, thinking he went that way. When she heard him yell from the front of the house she darted back through the house, to get to him, and when he failed to see her run out the front door, thinking she must still be asleep, he ran back in to fetch her. They met, both back where they started as the whole house caved in on them. Beams and blocks fell over them and they couldn't move. Finally Salvadore worked his way clear and then dug Gloria out. Both were scared, almost in shock, bruised, but nothing broken.
Years later I asked Salvadore, "How did you know the house was going to fall?"
"I don't know," he answered, "except Gloria prayed every night to God," He just felt as though someone was looking over them.
The inside walls of the house were built of mud and sand, The wall fell because the room next to it had no roof and the rain had soaked the wall. Most of it fell where they were to sleep, and had they not been up, they surely would have been killed.
The next village they came to was filled with refugees waiting helplessly at the station. People were dying by the dozens of cholera. Gloria and Salvadore would not eat anything that was not cooked by themselves. Even then they greatly feared the dreadful disease. Two days later Cholera was rampant. So they left the village, again on foot.
From there they walked to Kwei Yeung. It was there, hungry, tired, sick, afraid, and broke, they thought surely they had reached the end of the line. It was there Gloria tried to write her beloved "Mama Elizabeth" and was found by David Lui.
David Lui, an ex-student of Canton Bible School, and his wife lived in a house not far from the city. They had a spare room and insisted that Gloria and Salvadore move in with them. After a month, in which their health and spirits had improved, they found the Army had a base nearby. Salvadore got a job as houseboy, and was able, as a result of his job, to get Gloria a job as typist in the office. In return, she was able to get him a job as storekeeper. They continued working in Kweilin until the end of World War II.
At last the war was over. People were rejoicing everywhere. Gloria and Salvadore made immediate plans to return to Canton. They talked with a friend that owned a Chinese truck.
"I am going as far as Lui Chow," he said, "but you don't realize what a rough ride it will be." Gloria looked at Salvadore, both remembering unbelievable rides they had been on as they fled the Japanese, but saying simply, "We would like to go along." As rough as the ride was, they didn't mind; for now they did not have the fear of bombs, guns, and violence as before. From Lui Chow they took a boat to Canton, and for the first time since they married they felt they had really started a life together.
For a while Salvadore worked at the airfield. However, when they wished to transfer him to Singapore, he quit and started working for his cousin in shipping.
That job ended when the pirates blew up the ship. Salvadore was serving on the commodore's staff. All ships had to pay to go through certain areas, or suffer at the hands of the pirates. The boat on which Salvadore served had paid the "black fees," but the pirates, thinking they were one of the boats that had not paid, bombed them.
There were 800 people on the boat. It was in February and very cold. Many drowned. There were thieves on shore, so Salvadore had to stay half in the water, and half out until it was light enough to slip through, get help, and return.
Soon after that episode they moved to Hong Kong and lived in a building owned by Salvadore's mother. It was in Hong Kong on June 19, 1946, that their first son, Charles, was born. They regretted there was not enough money to give each family and aunts of Salvadore living in Hong Kong the red eggs, ginger, and chicken wine as was the Chinese custom.
Elizabeth to Return
As World War II ended there was only one thing on Elizabeth's mind: she wanted to return. "I have not as yet heard just who is returning, but I sure don't wish to be last," she told a friend. "I have saved enough for my mother's fare, but I don't as yet have enough for my own, but I do have $156.00 toward it." There was going to be more to it this time than before, for she was sure they would have to buy furniture, as well as stay in a hotel for a while.
It took two years of hard work and worry to succeed in getting the funds together, but succeed she did. On January 24, 1947, Elizabeth and her mother sailed once again for China, this time aboard the General Meigs. They arrived in Hong Kong on February 12th.
In only a short time after clearing the formalities of customs, she was again united with Ah Wing. Things had changed somewhat. Elizabeth now had a "grandson," Charles. Gloria and Charles were together when they met.
After two days of trying to catch up on years of news, Elizabeth left for Canton. There was still another "daughter" to see. Upon arriving in the city they went first to the Leung home to pick up Stella Mei. Elizabeth was so glad to see her. She did not even seem to mind that Stella Mei did not recognize her or remember any English.
When Elizabeth was forced to leave China, she left Stella Mei with the Leung family. In the summer of 1946, the Leungs moved back to Canton bringing Stella Mei with them and set about trying to repair and rebuild the Canton Bible School. Mr. Leung also looked for houses the missionaries could live in when they returned.
In trying to find all her baggage, getting settled into a house stripped of all plumbing, Stella Mei getting sick with a cold, fever, vomiting, and a rash, Charles crawling to the table pulling the tablecloth and breaking all her dishes, Elizabeth felt right at home.
The School had started again, and much interest was being shown in response to preaching in the village areas. On Saturday, March 29, Elizabeth went to the Bible School at 9 A.M. to witness the baptism of thirty-one candidates. One man came with extra clothes, but Bro. Leung did not baptize him.
"Why?" asked Elizabeth.
"Because he has a concubine and has not as yet made the choice of which he loves the most, God or her," was the reply.
"How do you know?" she asked.
He then explained the man had come to him about the problem before, and they had talked about how sinful it was. The man had argued it was a Chinese custom practiced for many years, but Leung showed him it was not to be when he became a member of God's Kingdom.
"I asked him a while ago," Leung continued, "and he said he still had her."
Less than a month later, however, the man gave up his concubine and was baptized, along with forty-seven more. Elizabeth joined them at the "welcome feast" they always had following a baptism.
Always on the mission field there are things that are difficult to obtain. Elizabeth's mother longed for a rocking chair. They tried in vain to have one made in Canton. Having mentioned it one time to Gloria, it did not take her long to have one made in Hong Kong, and Salvadore delivered it to her.
In June, Jock joined the group once again. Stella Mei was so glad to see him she would not stop talking. The only time her tongue stopped clattering was when Elizabeth made her sit in a chair to give Jock's "ears a rest."
Gloria, Salvadore and Charles brought along two more rockers from Hong Kong, and Salvadore took Elizabeth shopping. Elizabeth's fondness for this "pagan" Gloria married continued to grow. Salvadore always showed the utmost respect for the "one heavenly God believer" that had taken so much interest through the years, and given so much of her life to caring for Gloria.
When Jock was baptized on August 17, 1947, Elizabeth knew her work in China had not been in vain. She could see a pattern she would continue to follow, a pattern of raising Chinese babies to become strong Christians.
When Elizabeth realized she had gone to China to do what she could, when she could, and that her life had developed into a definite pattern, she devoted the rest of her life along that pattern. She saw how, by taking the Chinese at a very young age, placing them in a Christian atmosphere, and nurturing them through the years, they could become the "pillar and ground of the truth" among people of that vast nation. She had learned well the patience of the Chinese, and knew if the Lord's church was to be strong in that land, many years of teaching and examples would have to be spent. She well knew "Faith without works is dead" and set about establishing a new living faith in the hearts and minds of the young Chinese who came into her charge. There was a countless number affected by her life.
She realized they would need, above all, to be well grounded in the Bible, and also to have a good secular education. This Elizabeth also tried to make possible for them, by seeing to it that they were educated in the best schools available to them.
The following year when Elizabeth tried to enter Jock into the Diocesan School, she was told she must furnish proof of age. To obtain this she would have to go before the magistrate and swear to his age. She well knew the Bible said "Swear not at all." When she asked one of the missionaries about it, he told her she would be rendering unto "Caesar" the form required by the government, so she went ahead.
Once again the fear of war gripped the hearts of the workers in Canton. "Can it be true," Elizabeth asked the American Consul on January 19, 1948, "that we are going to be forced to pull out once again from China?"
"It is very true," was the answer. She then asked about adopting the children she now had in her care, but received very little encouragement of ever being able to take them to the United States.
The next day her children came home from school with the sad news the British were pulling out. The British, in troubled times, first send their wife and children to safety. This they had done. They were all sent on to Hong Kong.
Elizabeth had never been one to run, so she continued on in Canton. By March, signs began to appear that said "All English and U.S.A. people get out of China." By July, tension was running high all over China, but especially along the border. There were skirmishes and machine gun and rifle fire.
Back in 1928-29, Russian proletarian novels were popular reading among the youth in China. Twenty years later, a Communist state came into being in that "land of Confucius." Long before the coming of the Communist regime, Confucianism had a period of decline, swept aside by a wave of intellectual radicalism starting in 1919. A definite feeling was in the air that China must get on and change and forget the past, or perish.
As the years went by the young radicals matured; the professors began to "see something," and whatever independent thinking there was in China was drawing to a stop. Confucian and Taoist ideas were becoming officially regarded as "poison" and Christianity was regarded by the Communists as dope for the poor.
By November 1948, most everyone was depressed as the rumors of war ran rampant through the city. Whole families were leaving such places as Shanghai. The trains were full, and people were clinging to the engine and huddled on carriage roofs. Soldiers traveled the Shanghai-Nanking Railway to protect it from the communists.
Early the next year Elizabeth knew the time was close for the "commies" to come into power in Canton. She began, along with thousands of others, trying to find a place in Hong Kong in which to move.
Move to Hong Kong
During the "Opium War" of 1839, the thirty square mile island of Hong Kong was granted to the British. This section was ratified by the treaty of Nanking in August 1842. In 1860, China ceded in perpetuity 3 1/4 square miles of mainland territory where Kowloon now is. In 1898, the British were granted a 99-year lease of what is called New Territories, bringing the total land area of the colony to 391 square miles.
It was in the New Territories Elizabeth found two rooms she could rent, and made preparation for the move.
Elizabeth was not the only one moving. In 1937, the colony had a population of 1,600,000. After the Japanese drove many of the Chinese back into China, the population was down to 600,000. Very soon after the Communists started their takeover of China, the population swelled to almost 5 million, and this happened almost over night.
Moving is never easy, but in a land where there are so many Chinese languages, it is difficult indeed. In the process of moving, the trunk of books became stuck on the stair landing, and Elizabeth's mother could not pass. It was raining and the coolies (Chinese workers) went on strike. Gloria argued with them, but to no avail. Finally the trunk was unpacked in the rain by the family and neighbors, and carried by the armfuls up to the flat.
Finally, by April 1949, the move was complete, and Elizabeth and her family once again tried to get settled. Aside from her mother there were six children, all living in the two rooms. However, at that time there were many places in Hong Kong where there were more than six families living in one room. Shortly some buildings would house up to ten thousand people.
Living with Elizabeth were three small children: Amilou, 3 1/2; Muriel, 1 year; and Faith, 10 months; and the three older children: George, and Jock (Gloria's brothers), and Stella Mei, who was now 10.
Elizabeth had received a letter toward the last of 1947, from Mrs. Burtt, a blind lady that ran an orphanage and wondered if Elizabeth would be interested in taking another child. The baby's name was Fung Fuk Ho, whom Elizabeth named Amilou.
Amilou was born in a well-to-do home. When she got "sore eyes," her family spent a lot of money trying to cure them. However, when she became unmistakably blind, they dumped her at Mrs. Burtt's gate.
Amilou made no attempt to talk when she first came to Elizabeth, but a few days later she was not only trying to talk, but attempting to sing as well. Within a month she was imitating vocal sounds. She decided there were two people she could trust, Elizabeth and Stella Mei, and would have little to do with anyone else. Within three months she had quite a vocabulary.
Ten months later, Amilou, being blind, was still being fed, but was very contrary about who fed her. It was decided she should learn to feed herself. They would place the bowl in front of her, and the spoon in her hand. She would then tap the bowl with the spoon until someone else would try, and it finally started to soak into her mind. After a time she was not fussy about who helped her. Amilou was about 3 1/2 years old when they made the move from Canton to Hong Kong.
On December 15, 1947, a month after Elizabeth obtained Amilou, Muriel was born. Word was sent to Elizabeth three days later by a midwife telling her of the unwanted baby. The mother had lost contact with her husband who was a soldier. Families received no allowance unless they lived with their husband at the front, and even then received only a small rice allowance. The mother, being unable to care for the baby, gave it to Elizabeth. Elizabeth gave the baby the English name Muriel and the Chinese name Mei (beautiful).
On Christmas Eve, as Elizabeth was listening to the Carol singers, she looked around and Muriel was black. She had lost her breath. Elizabeth stood her on her head and worked with her until she started breathing again.
Christmas day this happened three times, and they carried her to the hospital, but the hospital was no help. The next three days she had to be held continually, day and night. They found bloody mucus in her nose and throat, and as they would clear it, more would form. Many times for two weeks she would go through the throes of death. During this time Stella Mei, even though only nine at the time, was taking good care of Amilou.
On January 14, 1948, when the baby was one month old, she died. They all had learned to love her, but it was somewhat a relief to know she wouldn't have to suffer anymore. The baby was wrapped in a clean cloth, placed in a shoe box, and buried in the church graveyard.
Six months after the first Muriel died, another baby named Muriel was brought to Elizabeth. Her American name was Muriel Carolyn Yue and her Chinese name Mei-on Yue. She was born July 27, 1948. Muriel's father was a rickshaw driver and very poor.
Muriel was in fairly good condition, but then due to her mother's milk failing, she had some itching, and white patches on her cheeks. By 4 p.m. she was screaming with the colic, and the first feeding of powdered milk aggravated the condition. Jock was sent to find some Cow and Gate baby food, but for a week the baby still had the colic. Elizabeth received very little rest. Finally they were able to obtain some S M A milk formula and both the baby and Elizabeth slept fine.
"I am going to write the president," Elizabeth angrily told her friend four months later.
"For what?" she ask.
"My two babies were doing so well on S M A," Elizabeth explained, "And I had suffered more than they did before I found what would agree with them. Now with the shipping strike in America, the supply has been cut off." She didn't write the president, but she didn't get as much sleep either, once the milk was changed.
When Muriel was only nine months old, and hardly realizing she was leaving the country of her birth, she was bundled off to Hong Kong.
Faith Sylvinia Lee was five days old when her mother brought her to Elizabeth. She was born September 14, 1948. Muriel was less than two months old, and before long they looked like twins. Faith's father had run off as soon as he found Faith was conceived, and her mother was, as Elizabeth put it, "too ignorant" to care for her.
In addition to caring for her "family," Elizabeth started a new class at the Bible School teaching seven young men English using the Bible as a textbook.
When Faith was only one month old, she was placed in the hospital where she stayed eleven days. The night she brought her home Elizabeth estimated her total amount of sleep as being ten minutes. The next day she didn't have a chance to dress until noon. Both babies were either crying together or by turns.
Elizabeth's mother was partial to plump little Amilou, and dearly loved Muriel, but for a while the only one who loved sick little Faith was Elizabeth.
Elizabeth would only take destitute babies that could not be well placed somewhere else. When they would bring her fat little warmly dressed babies, she would refuse them, knowing someone was taking good care of them already.
As Christmas rolled around again, Elizabeth was again caring for sick babies. This Christmas her mother also was sick with pneumonia. Things were so bad they decided to postpone their Christmas dinner. So the Christmas food which Salvadore and Gloria had given them was eaten on New Year's Day. This was the last Christmas and New Year Elizabeth would ever have in China.
Tai Po - Lost Mother, Gained Son
The district of Hong Kong in which Elizabeth settled was Tai Po. Here she ran into a large fleet of boat people such as she found when first arriving in China.
The lives and customs of this floating colony were unique. A person could be born, live to be old, and die without ever having any home other than a sampan or junk.
Marriages were usually arranged by a match-maker by the time a girl reached the age of ten. These child-wives were distinguished from the rest of the family by their colored turbans. The girls still played childish games with others of their own age, but helped with the domestic affairs of their husband-to-be's families. When the girl reached 15, the marriage was consummated.
By 1949, Elizabeth had been given the care of thirteen children. Some she had for years, and some a short while. The fourteenth child was Wilson. Elizabeth had been back in Hong Kong seven months when Wilson, an eleven-year-old blind boy was brought to her. A year later, September 9, 1950, Elizabeth stood by a clear stream and watched as Wilson was baptized. It was such monuments as this that made it all worth-while.
As Wilson was buried with Christ, Elizabeth remembered another being buried this same year, her mother. Muriel was just getting over malaria when Elizabeth's mother became sick and they rushed her to the hospital. Elizabeth stayed at her mother's bedside for four days and nights. On January 24, at 3:00 p.m., her mother, with whom she had been through so much, drew her last breath. She was buried in the cemetery at Happy Valley, Hong Kong.
Maybe it was because Elizabeth was told at one time she would go blind, and would even practice being blind by walking around the house with her eyes closed, or maybe because Wilson came to her the year she lost her mother, but in any event she expressed the extra patience and concern needed on Wilson's behalf.
Wilson was always proud and independent. He would pride himself on his memory, and would do his best to act as though he wasn't blind. One day while on the way to school, he stepped off the bus, walked to where the banister was suppose to be, turned to lean back against it as was his custom, and fell off into the bay. The bus, unknowingly to him, had overshot the stop and where he leaned back there was no banister. It was very embarrassing to him and all he could do was wait with his head barely out of the water until someone gave him what he very seldom asked for, assistance.
He started to town a few years later; and as usual, he refused to use a cane or put out his hands to feel his way. Someone had left an Army Jeep parked on the sidewalk at the top of the drive, and he banged into it. He came back mopping a deep 1 1/2 inch long gash with a colored handkerchief. He was taken to a clinic, but refused to have stitches.
When Elizabeth ordered Wilson a Stainsly Braille Writer, he could hardly wait for it to arrive. When it did, he had Stella Mei dictate the book of Mark and he would transcribe in Braille. He would also transcribe songs and made some primers for Amilou.
More than once Elizabeth had to go to the school where Wilson attended as the teacher would accuse him of disrespectful arguing. Elizabeth would coax an apology out of him, but would think to herself, "The teacher is cantankerous and mostly to blame."
The first time I was around Wilson, I could not help but notice the immaculate way he was dressed. Everything matched. Knowing Wilson lived alone and was totally blind, I asked, "How do you know which suit, tie, socks, etc., match?"
"Once I have been told the color I then recognize the color by feeling the texture of the material." Wilson replied. "Also when I was a small child I could see. That is the advantage and blessing I have over other blind people, I really know what color is. I remember all the colors."
Elizabeth had an unexpected visitor a short while after getting settled in Tai Po, a young man from Indiana named Alexander. He had gotten her name and address from a gospel paper. He stayed for supper. As he started to leave he said he had not had a chance to give his contribution, so he would give it to her. She demurred, thinking she might have chattered too much about their shortage. However, he insisted that was not the case, and put out his hand covering what he put into her hand. She thanked him on behalf of the children, saying, "God bless you." She went back into the room and looked at his contribution. It was the paper with her address and some street directions. She was convinced she had been the victim of a cruel practical joke. It is impossible to understand what Elizabeth had to go through, pinching each penny to see to it the children had enough to eat. However, she showed her Christian spirit by seeing to it he received some important papers he left behind.
The reality of an established and accepted fact was driven home when a grandson of Elizabeth came to visit one day and wandered away from the house. There was very little attention paid the children as far as keeping them in a small yard (usually only a few feet square). They are looked after by almost everyone. However, when he wandered into the small yard of the old lady living behind Elizabeth, he saw she was smoking. After being there awhile she asked, "Yu m yu sick yin?" (Would you like a smoke?) His innocent answer was to cost him his life, for she was smoking opium, and what was strong enough for a seasoned old lady, killed the grandson. One minute he was so full of life, bursting and innocent; the next a lifeless form. Elizabeth remembered how the British had brought opium to China from India in order to get the wealth to continue their silk and tea trade. Hong Kong itself came to the British during the Opium War.
Jimmy Lovell of California wrote in his paper in 1951 of "only one worker and a woman at that, to work among 400 million in China." Elizabeth corrected him, saying Hong Kong belonged to the British and not to China. His next edition carried the correction: "No worker in China, one worker among the 4 million in Hong Kong."
The work had grown, and within a year there were thirty meeting for worship service in her home.
It was time at last for this lone worker to send her first son to college. Through the years a few cents at a time had gone into a special fund just for this. The first to go was George Yue. Before he could go, there had to be a letter from Formose saying he was not a communist and granting him a passport. Elizabeth received a letter from Dr. George Benson with a guarantee of George's support for his education, but when she took this to the American Consul, they demanded a list of all costs. There were countless trips to the Consul, stacks of papers to be filled out and examinations to be taken.
The last worship service together they all sang "God Be With You" twice, and told George they meant every word. Elizabeth paid $100.00 extra to get him there sooner, and then when he arrived, Harding College penalized him $5.00 for arriving after the opening date. This left Elizabeth a little "put out."
Loyal Chan was born in China. His father was a landlord and his people well-to-do. The communists tried to make his father sign a paper that he had mistreated all the people under him. He wouldn't do it and they shot him. Loyal was 10 months old at the time. The mother left the three older children with their grandmother (the grandmother later drowned herself to leave her food to them). She took Loyal, hid him in the bottom of a boat and escaped down river to Canton to try to find work.
In Canton she married a man with a little store, but the Communists taxed him so heavily he could hardly make a living. When Loyal was six years old, she went to Hong Kong to place him in an orphanage. They were all full, but Elizabeth, hearing about it, told her she would take him.
Loyal's mother had a pass to permit her to go back and forth from Canton to Hong Kong. After a few trips the communist nabbed her, and placed her in prison. There she died about a year later.
Loyal's father had been a pupil in the original Canton Bible School.
Once again the Lord placed in Elizabeth's care a new son and a new charge.
When Ira Rice passed through Hong Kong on his way to Singapore, he stopped by to visit with this warrior who had defied every disease, plague, and two wars to continue her work. After crossing open fields and rice paddies, and finding the path to what he later described as "that dismal, cold, unheated, wintry, damp fourth-story walkup 'cubbyhole'," he asked her why she did not move into the city and rent a nice building where the gospel could be preached.
"Ira," she asked, "across that pond you just flew over, who does the preaching, men or women?"
Ira looked at her a few minutes and answered, "Why, men."
"Well," she said, "that's who is going to do it here. God will not allow me to preach in public, only to raise the children in truth. Why don't you stay here and preach?"
After a pause he said, "I will send you someone. I must go on to Singapore."
Later Ira and Parker Henderson held a seven day meeting in that cubbyhole. Parker, his wife, and their three children almost starved trying to eat Chinese food to which they were unaccustomed. They had just arrived in Asia and were not in any way used to that kind of food. Their last day there, a door fell off a cabinet, and there they found all kinds of canned American food.
"Why," they asked, "did you not tell us you had this food?"
Elizabeth, shocked, said, "Surely you wouldn't want old stuff shipped in from the States from time to time by the church when you can have fresh Chinese food."
Ira, true to his word, returned to the States, told Elizabeth's story, and succeeded in obtaining preachers to work in Hong Kong. The first three were Melvin Harbinson, Gus Eoff, and Douglass Robinson. After eighteen months, Gus Eoff and Douglas Robinson came home, and I arrived to join Melvin Harbinson in the work. I had heard Ira tell Elizabeth's story, and the great need of workers in that area.
The first Sunday I was there, a service was started on Hong Kong Island. Melvin's work was in Kowloon. Elizabeth and her "family" were present.
In 1964, Ira Rice made the statement during the Gospel meeting he was holding for me that he would "like to visit the border of Red China." I replied if we left early the next morning we could visit the border, also a school location, and be back in time for service.
That night, however, we went to the central part of the city and a tire blew on my car. We changed it thinking we could still go even without a spare. Halfway home another tire blew, so we left it parked in front of Harpers Ford where Salvadore sold new cars.
By then it was 2 a.m., and I said, "Let's eat." One look at Ira and one would know he never turned down a meal. We went into a Chinese restaurant, ordered the first thing we saw, "fish lips," and then laughed so hard we couldn't eat.
Half asleep a few hours later I answered the phone and heard "Dim gai nei ge che hai ni do?" (What's your car doing here?) I told Salvadore if he would take one look at the tires he would know. Salvadore informed me later all the tires were "broken" Chinese way of saying they were worn out. It seemed I was well-known for wearing out cars. I told him to put on a new set of tires, delaying the border trip another day.
Later that morning when I was with Salvadore arranging for the tires, Salvadore turned, saying, "Go with me." As we drove along Salvadore asked, "Know where we are going?" I thought I did but asked anyway. Salvadore simply said, "To baptize me."
On the way to the ocean, Ira Rice told Salvadore we had waited all week for this to which Salvadore replied, "That's nothing. Elizabeth Bernard has waited seventeen years." How true that was. There was no doubt in anyone's mind of the great love Elizabeth had for Gloria, and her concern for Salvadore was just as great.
So that morning Ah Wing's husband was buried with Christ in the South China Sea.
Eleven-year-old Sherwin Lum was one of sixty people who, as a group, decided to escape the communists in 1961. They reached Lowoo and could see Kowloon across Sham Chun River. It was there they were discovered by the Red Chinese guards, and thrown in the Shuckwan prison.
The next day the prisoners were sent to work in the forest, cutting down trees. They were treated like animals, fed very little, and beaten. They were warned that anyone who tried to escape would be shot. Despite the warning, a group of one hundred attempted a valiant escape, and many were killed.
Sherwin escaped, but was frightened, hungry, thirsty and lost. Carefully avoiding the guards along the river, he found a place to cross, and swam to Hong Kong. He made his way to Tai Po where he hoped to find some of his friends. He was very hungry and had no money with which to buy food. He was approached by three young men who took him to Elizabeth.
She raised him as she had the others, to believe in God, be honest, and study the Bible. I asked him one day what he wished to do. "Learn more" was his answer, "and return to China to teach my people about God."
Aid to Canton
In 1963, about a year after I arrived in Hong Kong, Elizabeth asked me one day, "Just how can we go about sending some aid to the Christians left in Canton?" She went on to explain just who they were, and how bad conditions were among the Christians left among the communists.
After a few weeks we had supplies going in. There was a rule that China would not accept any package larger than two pounds. We would have peanut oil recanned in a little less than two pound cans. Then we would purchase a towel and on the towel hand sew a label. On this label we would have a Chinese write the address in Chinese and mail it. The label would be removed and the towel sold and the peanut oil traded for a cheaper oil of greater quantity.
The towel was even more valuable at that time than the oil. We would receive messages back from time to time how much it was appreciated, but their own children would have turned their parents over to the communists had they known the oil came from Christians in Hong Kong. Even today we still do not dare to have contact with these Christians.
For several years I worked with Elizabeth. Many times she would join in the group going to one of the islands. I well remember her coming to me and asking if she could go with us to visit Tao Dei Wan. This was a very difficult area to reach, but she went along, getting off the boat with the grace of one a fourth her age.
In 1967, she left Hong Kong for what I felt would be the last time. Many thoughts raced through my mind as I watched her leave, the most important one being "who will gather her group together each Sunday with the 'Mother of China' in America." There were her children, and her children's children that someway she always had around her, regardless of how far she would have to travel to attend worship.
Many times I visited with Elizabeth in Abilene, Texas, where she lived with Faith while Faith finished college.
One time Elizabeth was sick and in the hospital. Three of us visited her, and seeing how sick she was, told her we could stay but a minute. When the nurse brought her medicine, Elizabeth took the little cup, raised up in bed, forced a smile and said, "Cheers" and downed it.
About a year later, I visited with her and she told me, "Faith is about to finish college, and I think it is about time I returned to Hong Kong, and take up where I left off." I stood there amazed for I knew she most likely would do just that, but could not remember ever hearing of anyone returning to the mission field at the age of 80 to take up any kind of work alone.
This was the last time I was to see Elizabeth alive. She gave me some pictures and asked me to hold on to them. Most of her things were in storage in various places, to be used someday for a book, but she held out of her own personal file some of the pictures found in this book. It was also at that time I interviewed her on tape, for there had been several years since we had talked long hours about the past history.
She asked me to write the book someday, if others failed to do so, but not play up her part. I have tried to write the book, but to write it and not have the legendary "Mother of China" as the main subject would be impossible.
One of Elizabeth's great concerns in returning to Hong Kong was Amilou. Elizabeth had left an apartment in Hong Kong to be used in the care of Amilou, but due to the bungling of an older missionary (old only in age) going for the first time to work among Asians, and a congregation in Texas experienced in sending missionaries overseas but having no experience of personally working among the Chinese themselves, the apartment was lost; and so was Amilou's security.
Elizabeth left America for the last time going by way of England so she could visit with Stella Mei and her children, Elizabeth's grandchildren.
Gloria (Ah Wing)
For years Gloria worked with me translating, as she had the other missionaries through the years. She was, no doubt, one of the best translators an American speaker could have. She was so accustomed to the American expressions, as well as the Chinese, one could teach or preach with no worry whatsoever of it not coming out right in Chinese. This could not be said of most interpreters. I well remember speakers using sayings such as "charge your battery" for motivating the congregation, and the interpreter standing there wondering what it was all about, and why the preacher was talking about a car battery in the middle of the sermon. Not so with Gloria. She was well educated in both languages.
Gloria translated many tracts for me and was a great help working on the bilingual songbook we published. For two years she worked on the Bible Digest, plus countless tracts and charts. She did this and never accepted any pay whatsoever.
At the time Gloria was baptized, Elizabeth made the statement, "I hope now I can live to see her grow up a real heart and soul Christian." And this she lived to see. I never heard Elizabeth express any disappointment of any kind in her "Ah Wing."
Elizabeth did have continual concern for Gloria, however. I well remember one incident, when the missionaries started arriving.
Gloria had worn a pantsuit to church, as most Chinese wear in the winter. Elizabeth, not knowing just how the Americans were going to take it, suggested she wear a dress. The next Sunday she wore a Cheung Sam (Chinese dress split up the side) and Elizabeth told her she should wear something else.
"What?" Gloria asked. "You asked me not to wear a pantsuit and these two things are the only things the Chinese wear." I think it was always sort of confusing to Elizabeth that she was not Chinese and Gloria was not American.
Although it was several hours from Gloria's house to Elizabeth's place, through the years Gloria would continually make the journey to check on her, and answer Elizabeth's mail.
Charles, Gloria's son, led singing for me in every church service for four years, and then went to the States to obtain his college education.
Muriel works for a travel agency and travels between the United States and Hong Kong.
Stella Mei and Paul Crawford were married on March 7, 1959. Due to Paul's military career, Paul and Stella Mei have traveled extensively. They have four daughters: Linda Mei, born in Hong Kong; Renee Ann, born in Manchester, England; Cinda Beverly and Vanessa Ann, both born in Cyprus.
George Yue graduated from Harding College with a BA in Bible and a MTSA in Education. He is also a graduate of Abilene Christian College with a BS and MS in Economics. While attending ACC he met and married Helen Sui Yun Sung. His wife is a medical technologist.
Wilson Cheung graduated from Edenezer School for the Blind. Elizabeth tried without success to get him enrolled in one of the Christian Colleges, and failing to do so, enrolled him in a seminary in Hong Kong where he received his degree in Bible.
In 1967 Wilson married Karen, a young lady he converted. She had about 10% of her sight. They now have three children with perfect eyesight.
Faith has graduated from Abilene Christian College.
Last Mile of the Way
When Elizabeth arrived back in Hong Kong for the last time, she moved back into her place in Tai Po, having lost the nice apartment in Kowloon. It was here the strength left her body, and she was found sometime later lying on the floor. No one knows just how long she lay there. As help arrived they were able to place her in a bed.
A little later Gloria arrived, talked with her mom, and told her how serious she believed the stroke was. But Elizabeth still refused to go to the hospital, saying it was just a little dizzy spell and would be all right later. Gloria knew it was very serious, and she arranged for her to be admitted to the hospital.
A few months later, still in the hospital, all her suffering ended. The tribulations of this life were over for Elizabeth. It was a Sunday afternoon December 12, 1971.
After the funeral her body was cremated. A few days later, I arrived in Hong Kong. George Benson, the founder of the Canton Bible School, and others as well as myself were very concerned and we were making an effort to find out just what her condition was , when she passed on.
Gloria and I had her ashes sealed in a marble urn. The next day we drove to the graveyard in Happy Valley. Gloria (Ah Wing), her daughter, Elaine, and I, along with a reporter and photographer from the Star newspaper, started the winding walk to the top. That last mile of the way, as I carried her ashes in my arms, I wondered if this grand ole sister could ever be replaced. At the very top we placed the marble urn on top of her mother's grave and held a short service. Then her remains were slid through a hole in the side of the grave and placed beside her mother.
Elizabeth was a woman of many talents. She was proficient in Braille, and on sleepless nights, she would practice it in the dark. She was an accomplished musician and played the cello, piano and organ. She was knowledgeable in the medical profession through her nursing training and experience, and also an artist.
Elizabeth Bernard was already a legend, even while living. She gave up a normal family life. She lived on the level and economy of the people she served. God was with her.
Now she is with Him.
Note: Printed copies of this book containing pictures of sister Bernard
and others who worked in China can be obtained for a very reasonable price
from Tom's son, Mike Tune, 202 Old Horn Springs Road, Lebanon, Tennessee, USA-37087.
Published in The Old Paths Archive