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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the third oral history interview of Miss Eleanor Ruth Elliott (CN 187, #T3) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. Nothing recorded has been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. In a very few cases, words were too unclear to be distinguished, so the word "[unclear]" was inserted. This is a transcription of spoken English, which, of course, follows a different rhythm and rule than written English. Also, if the speaker used an older version of a Chinese name, such as Peking" instead of "Beijing," then it is the older version which is in the transcript.
... Three dots indicate what the interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parenthesis are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Joan Cameron and was completed December 26, 1988.
Collection 187, Tape #T3; Interview of Eleanor Ruth Elliott by Robert Shuster, October 20, 1981.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Miss Ruth Elliott by Robert Shuster for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the Billy Graham Center on October 20th  at 2:30 p.m. Miss Elliott, after you left language school, who, what was your first mission station and who was there with you?
ELLIOTT: I was assigned much to my joy to be with my sister, Margaret, and at that time she was in Anhui Province in Shucheng. And we were assigned because we were members of the two hundred to open a brand new station where there had been no missionaries before. And so we were assigned to Tungcheng.
SHUSTER: How was that particular site chosen? Do you know?
ELLIOTT: Well, it has...it was north of Anking or Anching [?] and missionaries who went north from Anking would stop there occasionally and preach. And so they though that there were some converts and so they said...they thought that would be a good place for us to go and it's about sixty miles...no, sixty eight...Well, not it's more than that. It's about a hundred miles nor-, north of, of Anking. And then Shucheng is north of that. Well, I...they had to find the house, and they had already found a house that they were going to use as the mission station, but it needed to be repaired and fixed for foreigners so that...And so they fixed...they had a three-room house which they turned one room...they put floors and doors and windows in, and then they put, they made two little bedrooms and a bath between and, of course, there was no running water. There was no electricity,, so it was...And then we had a living room and that was our reception room for our guests, for the Chinese guests. And then we had a dining room and then a little "L" off for the kitchen and behind that there was a little courtyard and we had room for the servants and for our storage. So that was the complete...
SHUSTER: How many were you, were there of you all together including the servants?
ELLIOTT: Just three.
SHUSTER: Just three.
ELLIOTT: Except that we did have (we were very fortunate to have) Mr. and Mrs. Wu and their little girl and then a little adopted girl who had been left at our gate just at the time, just before I arrived in Shucheng. A woman who had discarded here baby at the gate, and the missionary girls there had taken her in and they loved her and they got the women of the church to make clothes for her. And when I first arrived in Shucheng, my very first should that I heard was Mrs. Wu's crying because their baby girl had died. And she had had five children who had died and only had one girl who was about nine at that time. And so she was just heartbroken. And so then later the girls there suggested that the Wu's might like to adopt this little girl and they did. And they called her Chigeon [?]. And she was a darling and I loved her. And so we were there in Shucheng, Margaret and I were there with three other missionaries in Shucheng for three months while they were making over that house for us down there in Tungcheng. On the street there was a room for the church, we hoped, for meetings. And also there was a space in that building...there was a courtyard between that and our building, and in the chapel building was room for Mr. and Mrs. Wu as gatekeeper. And so they had their apartment there. Later they came and they built a bedroom up over the chapel for guests so that that was convenient for us because we had no room for guests. And so while I was in Shucheng I was very glad that I was able to be in contact with children, especially the grandchildren of our f-, the former cook. He had retired, but the little grandchildren were still there on the compound. And they were only about, oh, five and six. And so whenever I'd make a mistake in Chinese, they'd laugh and they'd say, "Ah, ha, ha! That's wrong!" [Laughs] And to...I was so glad, because the other Chinese in the church are so polite that I could make all kinds of errors and they would never correct me, because it's, that's, that's taking, you know, taking face and you don't take anybody's face. And so, so I wasn't learning from being with the women, but I learned from the children. So I was very glad. Well, then, we went down to Tungcheng and so...they were, we were given a list of people who were supposed to have bee baptized. Now, not...there was, there had been one man who was a...(really I'm quite sure from all I heard) was a really born-again Christian man, but he had died. No....
SHUSTER: Let me ask you, were there requirements for baptism?
ELLIOTT: Well, there was supposed to be a, a profession of faith and then up in Shucheng, the church the church there required them to go to a series of lessons taught by one of the elders of the church. Now, we didn't have a pastor in Shucheng, but the elders were very active and they took turns preaching. And so they were the ones who saw to it that people who made a profession of faith were taught very clearly what it involved and given a, sort of a time to observe them and, and they asked other people, other Christians, "Do you see a change in their lives?" And they...and, and they would say themselves after about six months, "Oh, I would love to be baptized because now I really feel now I know the Lord Jesus." Then they would be baptized in Shucheng. But in Tungcheng, we found out afterward that there was a man who called himself...as far we know he had never had any Christian, real Christian Bible training, but he called himself an evangelist. And he only lived about ten miles away, and I, I think that he probably did some of these...baptizing some of these people. Now there were...there were a very few who were, I believe, really...who loved the Lord Jesus there in Tungcheng. But there were a large percentage of those who said they were Christians. When we came we had no role. We didn't know who were supposed to be Christians and who weren't. And so we just asked, "All those who are Christians and who are members," you know, "here in this group...." They didn't have any membership as such, but they all signed and said that they were Christians. Well, it wasn't very long before we began to see that...well, now like, the ba-, we said, "Now who can teach? I, we have to have a teacher because we have to continue our language study and we must be taught." So they said, "Oh, have that man." Well, we found out [laughs] that he was making mistakes all the time in teaching us, and then he would bring drink that we wouldn't have thought of having our house to have while he was teaching us. And then every one in a while he'd slip and use swear words and things. And so I thought, "Oh, how could I stand it to have a man like this who isn't truly an educated man as teacher." And so that to me was a hardship.
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with the educated people in town?
ELLIOTT: Well, in the city, there were lovely, well-educated, lovely people who were not Christians. But they...that city of Tungcheng was a, a wealthy city of people of influence in China. We'd go into one home and they'd say, "My uncle is governor of this province." Or another one would say, "Well, my grandfather is one of the judges, one of the Supreme Court judges," and like that. And they were...and they had...they, these were the old heritage homes that had been in the family for hundreds of years. And they were beautiful, and they had the most lovely furniture and they had everything of their...the old relics of, of art and embroidery and everything. Their homes were just gorgeous. Compared with the homes of these so-called Christians that were little mud-walled, thatched-roofed homes, the contrast was quite apparent, but not that that would make any difference to us. We didn't care...I mean, how they lived except if they didn't live for the Lord. Well, it wasn't very long before we began to hear when we'd invite some of the women in the city to come to our...to our...to have a Bible class, and they would say over and over, "We will not have a Bible class with any of those so-called Christians. But if you want to have a Bible class in your home, not in the chapel, we'll come to a Bible class."
SHUSTER: Why did they say that?
ELLIOTT: Because they said, "Well, we're.... Finally one of them just cam right out and said, "Well, I'll tell you. Those women who are living...some of them are prostitutes. They're living in adultery. They...they're just living hideous lives. And the men, too, are the same. And so we don't want to have anything to do with them, because we have standards. Our family has standards." Now a lot of them, they weren't ardent Buddhists. They weren't...they were educated people who felt, well, we must have a high standard of living. Now they weren't Christians. They'd never heard of Jesus, but hey had a standard of living. And os as we called in the homes of these so-called Christians...Margaret and I went to see a man who had a restaurant. And when we went in, much to our dismay and to his dismay [laughs], we saw him with three men gambling with great big piles of money in front of each of the men. Well, he was embarrassed when he saw us, but he rose up and...and tried to sort of bluff it off. And we only stayed just a short a time as we could and left. And when we got home, we cried and cried and.... Here he was a man who was supposed to be a leader in the church and....
SHUSTER: You were very disappointed, I think.
ELLIOTT: Oh, terribly! And so we prayed and asked, "Well, Lord, what can we do?" And we said, well, the Bible teaches that we are to live exemplary lives and gambling is certainly not a thing that Christians should indulge in. And so we got quite a few different verses ready and then Margaret went down (of course, her Chinese was good, and min...I was just beginning to get so I could speak).... So she went in and...I, I've forgotten what his, his surname was, but anyway, she, she said to him, "I've been praying for you about this, and I feel that the Lord would have me read these verses from the Bible to you and...about living a life that would be glorifying to the Lord Jesus." And...he got simply furious at us! And he had seated us where...the correct way, you know, with a...they have a little table between two chairs and then they serve tea and you put it on the table between the two chairs. And so he had served us tea. But as soon as Margaret said anything about gambling to him, he said, "You're trying to tell ME! Why, I was a Christian before you were born!" And then he just went over to the wall and just gave great big BANG! on the wooden wall, so that it reverberated, and then he yelled at the top of his lungs, going back and forth and saying all kinds of horrid things to us. And go over to the other wall and BANG! on the wall, and then come back again and BANG! on the wall, and then come back again and BANG! on the wall. And he did that for at least five or six minutes. Yelling a us! And saying, "You don't DARE to tell ME one single thing! I know much more about the Bible than you ever heard of! I've been a Christian much longer than you!" Well, we went home and we cried and cried and cried. Well, then, just a few days later when we called in the home and we...somebody mentioned this man, and they said, "We don't like to tell you this, but he uses his wife, his daughter-in-law and his daughter for the men who come to his restaurant." Well, we got a letter from the mission to say, "As a new work, since there is a group who...who are Christians, you are to organize it and they are to run their own work." Well, we didn't see how these people could be the, you know.... But anyway, so...
SHUSTER: Were all the people in the group like that or...?
ELLIOTT: Well, I knew of about three women who, I believe, were genuine Christians. But the others...As far as I knew, I don't remember any others but those three. But anyway, when Margaret said, "I have received a letter from the mission asking that this group be organized as a church, so our first matter of business is to elect a chairman." And this man leaped to his feet and pounded his chest and he said, "No election is needed! I AM THE CHAIRMAN!" [pounds fist for emphasis]
SHUSTER: Well, were the other people afraid of him or...?
ELLIOTT: Well, he bossed...he bossed them. Yes, he did. And so [sighs]...I...I just felt just really, you know, more and more distressed. Now when we went into the city, the people there were so polite and so kind to us. We were amazed. The wife of the mayor, who was the social leader of the city, invited us as special guests for a feast she was giving in our honor. And so she sent a servant to escort us, and we thought at first that we would wear American clothes to honor her because we didn't have any really beautiful Chinese clothes. All of the people in the city who were going to come we knew were going to wear lovely satin gowns, you know, long gowns, and we only had cotton. And so we started out with the servant, but we hadn't gone a half a block before we had at least two hundred people all crowding around us and wanting to feel our clothes and remarking on our American clothes. And so Ma-...we looked at each other and we said, "We've got to go back." And so we had to go...we said, "I'm sorry. You'll...don't mind coming back," and we went and we changed to our poor old...not old, they were new, but still they were cotton gowns, Chinese gowns that go down to our ankles. And when we...as soon as we went back in...and started walking, not a soul looked at us. Not a, not a soul. We didn't have any crowd around us or anything.
SHUSTER: They were just amazed by the American clothes.
ELLIOTT: Right. And so when we went there, twelve o'clock was the ma-, time the servant came for us, so we thought they were going to have, you know, the feast about one or so, because you always go in and they seat you in their guest room where they have these little tables between two chairs and they usually have four chairs on each side and then a big chair...a big table at the opposite from the door and chairs on either side. And the chairs on either side of that table are THE high chairs. And so you always go quickly to the chairs on the left nearest the door. Those are the low seats. And so we quickly went over to those chairs, but they said, "Oh, no, no! You must come and sit in the high chairs," you know, [laughs] and I...
SHUSTER: The story in...like the parable.
ELLIOTT: Yes, it is. It is true. Just like the parable in the Bible. And so...but then they said after we had had tea and cakes, then they said, now we're going to go for a walk. And we went for a long walk all around the city outside and visited...I mean just looking at different and.... It's beautiful. There was a lovely hill...well, it's valleys, hills and valleys with trees and there was a river and there was a lake there and it was beautiful and they just went out because they like to see pretty sights. And we didn't get back until after three. And then when they served...it was the first time we had ever been to a very formal feast. Before we had been in homes in Tungcheng where it was the whole family would eat...we'd all eat, you know, together. But this was a very formal feast. No member of the immediate family was there. The aunt was appointed as the hostess. And the guests...when we sat down, we had two pairs of chopsticks (ivory) and we had a little bowl that we could use for soy sauce or whatever we wanted...just a little flat bowl in front of us. And then they brought one, one large dish of hot food in and nobody did a thing. They still kept on talking. And then, finally...
SHUSTER: Getting hungry by this time, I imagine. [Laughs]
ELLIOTT: I was starved, because we hadn't eaten anything. Then finally the aunt who was the hostess picked up her pair of...one pair of chopsticks, and she said, "Ching [?]?" which means "please." And then she took one little bite with the chopsticks, one little bit, from this bowl and we all just took one little bit from that bowl. And then you put it on this little plate and then you talk around a little more, and then you take this bite very slowly and.... And then it would take about ten minutes before...and, oh, we...you had to put your, your...those special chopsticks were used only to reach into the bowl. The other chopsticks...you had to put those down...and the other chopsticks were what you used to eat it from your little bowl. And so we had to learn the hard way. We had to watch to be sure that we didn't do the wrong thing. And, so it took us at least an hour and a half, and they had eight bowls that, you know, they would take that one out, and the family were all in the dining room and they were all eating [unclear].
ELLIOTT: But we hardly touched it, and there were eight of us at that table. And then they served eight bowls. That's the correct number. And then finally they brought eight small bowls and small bowls of rice to each of us, but we still were...had to be very, very careful not to eat too much. And the polite thing was to just take about four or five bites and then put the chopsticks that you used at...for yourself at your place over the top of the bowl and leave it and say, "Thank you very much." And that would be the end of the feast. Well, because the mayor's wife, then we were the...we were invited by all of the socialites of the whole city, and so we had this two entirely different groups that we were with. But...and at that time, no girls were supposed to go to school. Only boys. But...
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: The Chinese didn't educate girls. They just sent the boys to the schools. No girls. But we went to the family, the Wu family, who...that one...I think their uncle at that time was the governor of Hunan Province. And they had two girls and the father had hired a tutor to come and teach them, and those girls were really good in Chinese. And they had been taught so that they knew the classics and they could write beautifully. And, so they became very much interested and they used to come and visit us quite often. And after we had been there for about a year (Wu Rung Whey [?] and Wu Rung Wong [?] were their names) and Rung When came to us and said, "You know, I feel that I would like to be a Christian." And that was so wonderful, because that was the first person who really, we felt, understood what was involved because we had...she had been coming. We'd been having Bible study together. And then she said, "You know, I'd like to be a nurse." And, but she sa-...so Margaret wrote to a, to Shanghai to a school of nursing and they said, "She must know English." And so then we started to teach her English. Now, Margaret taught her more than I did, but I did teach her.
SHUSTER: Why did she need to know English?
ELLIOTT: At that school in Shanghai, they did a lot of their teaching in English because there are, were practically no books in Chinese on nursing. There just weren't any books. And so the only way that they could use...only thing they had to use were books in English on nursing, so they had to learn English. Well, that girl was as smart as smart could be. And do you know that years later when, when my sister and brother-in-law went to, to Taiwan, they got in touch with her. She had been a nurse, and she had married a man who was a doctor and they were both lovely Christians and doing a fine work in Tun-...in Taiwan. And they were so thrilled to meet each other! And it was really lovely. So I thank the Lord there was at least one person who really was born again. But there...the woman who...the woman who claimed to be the leader of the women was a woman who.... Well, when this evangelist, a Chinese evangelist, was supposed to come and, and have meetings at the chapel. And we had heard that Mrs. Fu [?] and he were too friendly. And so we arranged that that bedroom upstairs would be just immaculate, and we took our own curtains and put up there to make it really nice so that the...that he would.... And after he had preached that day, then we said, "Well, now, we've got your room prepared for your upstairs." He said, "I'm not going to stay with you! I'm not going to stay here at this chapel! I'm going to Mrs. Fu's [?] house." We said, "But does that honor the Lord?" He said, "You're telling me! You little squirts!" you know. Because, you see, I was only twenty-three and Margaret was twenty-five, and then considered young people, you know...they were the elite because they were older, and they knew...
SHUSTER: Do you think the fact that you were women, too, made it difficult, too?
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes. That's true. The fact that we were women. But, and my Chinese wasn't very good. Margaret's was really very good, but I, I was improving some. But...but when they...when we went there, the next morning when Mr. Wu went to open the gate onto the street from the chapel, he found a great big notice written there. (I've forgotten what his name was. I'll just call him Mr. Shin [?], but that...I don't think that's his name.) Anyway, "Mr. Shin [?] loves Mrs. Fu [?]." Well, to, to the Chinese that is the epitome of slander and of just down...you know, just horrible for any man who was already married and had a family to have his name written in great big letters of Chinese characters on the front gate. It was just simply horrible. So that...Margaret and I cried and cried and cried about that. And I was feeling so...you know, I.... Though we were...we had social times, but they wasn't spiritual times. And when we had these women try to...we'd try to get them to come for Bible classes, these so-called Christian women, well, there were three who really began to be interested. They couldn't read at all, and so we tried to teach them to read. And, but...but Mr. Fu [?] was saying, "I know more than you do!" You know. And, "I can say it a lot better than you!" and all this. [Sighs] So,...
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with CIM missionaries? Ask them for their advice or....?
ELLIOTT: Well, we wrote to the provincial superintendent, but we didn't.... You see, he said, "Well, of course, there are going to be difficulties," but he did not realize and he did not come to see us while we were there right then at that time. Well, after about a year and a half, I began to get so that I couldn't sleep. And I began to get so that I was feeling terrible! And in Anking there was a doctor who we had know form the time we were small children up in Kuling. In fact, he and his ho-, bride came for their honeymoon, and my father had built what we called the "little house" next door to us, and they were the first occupants of our little house. And so we knew them from the time they were first married. And every time we went through Anking we'd see them and he was...oh, he was a wonderful doctor! And so when I went down there, it was like...almost like going home to see him. And I said to him something of what was going on. And he said, "Well, Ruth...." I was also having diarrhea and I was having, you know, pains in my abdomen and, oh...about pains everywhere. And I was having chest pains and so he said, "I think," he said, "now, I, I am not a surgeon, and so I think you ought to go to Shanghai and have tests to be sure that you do not need surgery." He said, "Now I doubt if you do, but nevertheless I want to be positive and be sure." So when I first went, the man that I saw was a surgeon, and he said, "Oh, you need surgery right away!" But, I...when I went back to (he was a man not in our mission)...when I went back to our mission and I talked with the nurse in our hospital, our mission hospital, she said, "He says that to every person he sees."
ELLIOTT: She said, "I would recommend that you go to another doctor and get a different opinion, another opinion." So I went to a, a...I talked then with the people in the headquarters, they recommended another doctor. And so I went to him, and he said, "Well, we'll, we'll investigate." But, you know, I had to be there for, I think, two months having all kinds of tests and everything. But at the end, eventually though, the doctor said, "There is really nothing physically wrong with you." By that time, all this diarrhea and everything had been cleared up. And he said, "But it is the stress of being there and opening new work where there is so little to encourage." And I think I should mention that ten miles out in another direction from where that evangelist, quote, lived, there were a group of really fine Bible-believing country people. And there was one man who was a lovely Christian man who had learned to read, and he led that group.
SHUSTER: Did you have contact, frequent contact, with him?
ELLIOTT: Not frequent, because we, we had daily...you see, I had daily classes. We had to...we had to...the CIM required us to take exams every year, and so I had to.... But we did go out a few times. But he used to come in to see us, and whenever he came in or any, he'd bring some with him, why, it was a joy. And he always wanted...he said, "Well, let's read the Bible and pray together." You know, and that was an encouragement. And, and everybody who came in said that he was a wonderful leader who helped them. But he, he said, "Frankly, I know very little about the Bible. It's only what I've st-, dug out for myself. I haven't been to any Bible school or anything, and so I'm learning." And he, he didn't...he wasn't a bit proud, and so that was an encouragement, you know, to have something like that. But these people who were there said, "We know it all and we don't need you to tell US!" And so this was very, very hard for me. Well, as a result, then I taught with Mr. Hoste (I just remembered the name of the man who was the head of the mission at that time). The...
SHUSTER: Head of the whole CIM?
ELLIOTT: The whole CIM is D.E. Hoste.
ELLIOTT: H-O-S-T-E. He was from England. And he was very nice. And so I talked with him, and he said, "Ruth, I think you should go to a good, well-organized station." And he said, "Let's send you up to Shucheng again and be up there. And then we'll ask two of the girls who have been in Shucheng now for several years and are more experienced missionaries to go down there to Tungcheng."
SHUSTER: And, let's see, you came to Tungcheng about August of '32?
ELLIOTT: Well, actually, no. It was...it was just about, I think, early December.
SHUSTER: Of '32?
ELLIOTT: Of '32.
SHUSTER: And you left the next year or when was...?
ELLIOTT: I think it was in '34.
ELLIOTT: Early '34.
SHUSTER: This might be a good point to just get a record of your service. If you [unclear] tell me the places you've served and times you served there.
ELLIOTT: All right. Well, I was in Shucheng, and then in '36 I was asked to go to be with Katie (her name is Schoerner now), but...
ELLIOTT: Katie Dodd. And we were supposed to open near...we were...she...we were the two hundred, and we were supposed to open Yingshang, which was north...in the northern part of Anhui Province. And so I went up there. And there was a pastor of the church there, and the, the building where we lived was very austere and it was...it was a, definitely a Chinese house, but it was made of bri-, I mean of tiles and bricks, but it's cold...
SHUSTER: Well, right now, I'd just like to get a list of...
SHUSTER: ...the places that you served.
ELLIOTT: Oh, well, let me...I served in Yingshang and then in thir-...
SHUSTER: Do you recall what year, what years they were?
ELLIOTT: Well, I was just there '36 and then 'til the summer of '37. I hadn't had a vacation for four years, and so I went up to Chigosan [?] in Honan for vacation that summer of '37. And while I was...it was while we were in church a man came running in and said, "I've just gotten a telegram! The Japanese have attacked North China! This means war!" Two women fainted. A whole lot of people started crying, and it was a terrible thing. Well, the mission then wouldn't send me back to Yingshang because the Japanese were coming south very, very fast. And so I was sent to Honan to be with Miss Davey. She was lovely. She was a, a lovely British woman who had been in China for many years, and she was just a wonderful senior worker. And I loved being in Yongfan [?] and the church there was...had been there for many years, and it had grown and it was a, really a beautiful Christian work with people who loved the Lord and loved His Word. And we had a lovely Bible woman who was...she, she just knew the Bible and she had gone to Bible school and she.... And so that was a joy to work there!
SHUSTER: How long were you there?
ELLIOTT: Well, I was there until '39. And then I...I hadn't been able to get in touch with Margaret and Vincent and yet I knew that we were all supposed to have furlough at the same time, because although Margaret came out two years before, Vincent didn't come out until two years after, and so it...
ELLIOTT: ...made our time and so we were...we had...when I had seen them in '38 when their first daughter, Virginia was born (that's an exciting story)...
SHUSTER: Well, we'll get there. I just wanted to get the list today.
ELLIOTT: Well, then, then we went home on furlough. And then when I came back...
SHUSTER: You went home on furlough in 1939?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then I came back and I was assigned back to Shucheng and...
SHUSTER: And that was in 1940?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then I was there until '43, and then I was asked to go to Kaohsiong to teach in the school for the children of missionaries.
SHUSTER: Oh, at Loshon [sp?], Luthan [sp?].
ELLIOTT: No...well, it was Kaohsiong or (it has two names)...oh, dear. Can't think of the other one right now. But, anyway, K-A-O-H-S-I-A-N-G...I-O-N-G.. Kaohsiong. South of Chundu [?]. And I was there for a year and a half, and then we had to fly out to India until the end of the war. And then we couldn't get passage back until 1946. And then we came back, and we had the school in Shanghai at our headquarters there for a year.
SHUSTER: That's for the missionary children?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then I went home on furlough, and when I came back, then I went...the school had moved up to Kuling.
SHUSTER: That was in '48 you came back?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And so then I taught in Kuling until...until we left in '51.
SHUSTER: And, let's see in '50...
ELLIOTT: So we were...we were a year and a half under the Communists up there in Kuling.
SHUSTER: And then you were briefly in Columbia Bible School when you came back?
ELLIOTT: Well, not yet...not.... First I went...when I cam home.... You see, the mission was only the China Inland Mission, but everybody had left...had been required to leave. The Communists refused to allow us to leave...allow us to stay. [Laughs] They didn't allows us to leave, either, until they gave us passes. But when we left there were only maybe a dozen missionaries still left in China, and the mission headquarters in...had moved down to, well,they'd had to disband, but they were down in Hong Kong. But then everybody went home, and what was the mission to do? So then they gathered in England, and all the leaders from the different countries gathered and prayed and felt that the mission should carry on and become...and they gave it the name, "The Overseas Missionary Fellowship." And so then dur-...as soon as that was.... It was during this year that I was at home. I lived with my sister, Frances, in Charleston and we both taught in the public school that one year. And, but then early in the spring then I found out that there was going to be an OMF, so I wrote and applied. And so they said that I would be sent to the Philippines. And so I went to...
SHUSTER: And you taught at Grace School in Manila?
ELLIOTT: Grace Christian High School, yes, for the first year.
SHUSTER: That's '52 to '53?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then...then they wanted to start a school for the children of missionaries, and so we...I was asked to help in that. And there were six missions that got together, and we started a school up in Kikungshan in, in...it's forty miles south of, of Manila up on a ridge that overlooks Lake Taal. And...
SHUSTER: Kikungshan. How do you spell that?
ELLIOTT: Kikungshan. K-I-K-U-N-G-S-H-A-N. And so...well, that was very lovely until the guerrillas were in the...this was...the mountains were right near us, and the guerrillas suddenly started fighting. We didn't know that they were going fight with the.... And the Philippine troops had come up, and so there was fighting all around and bullets were flying, and we had to tell all the children, "Lie low," and "Don't come out, don't come out." And...and then when we finally...when the thing stopped and then one of the...captains came and said, "Well, the fighting's over now. You can, you can let the children come out." Well, then we found that a man had been shot just outside our dining room and so [sighs] we, oh, we were, who were teachers said, "Well, we, we've, we can't be responsible for these children here." And so we had to send the children all back to Manila to their homes (if they were in Manila or in wherever they were from) and disband the school. But the doctor had told me...when I was in Manila I, I wasn't well at all, because of the heat and humidity. I wasn't used to the tropics of, in Manila. It's very, very trying, and I had long hours and, and the heat and humidity was so awful for me that one morning while I was at the breakfast table I suddenly just fell over on the girl next to me. I didn't know, and...
SHUSTER: Passed out?
ELLIOTT: Yeah, and the doctor told me I was having heart trouble. And so he, that's why he said, "You must go up to the mountains where it's cooler." Well, Kikungshan was, was much cooler. And, and, so I loved that.... No, Kikungshan wasn't...Kikungshan was in high China. This was Tagaytay. I'm sorry.
SHUSTER: That's okay.
ELLIOTT: Tagaytay. It wasn't where the...the school was up in Tagaytay in south...
SHUSTER: Oh, how is that spelled?
ELLIOTT: T-A-G-A-Y-T-A-Y. I'm sorry.
SHUSTER: [Chuckles] That's okay.
ELLIOTT: They...but that was so lovely and I loved it, and it was cool enough and so that I could stand it. And so we prayed that if they wanted the CIM children taught up there...because there wasn't...now there wasn't any school for, for the children of missionaries we had disbanded. And so we...the Lockharts had come for, as CIM house parents while we were there at Tagaytay at that place. And he was going along in a bus and saw them repairing a large building which had formerly been used for the GIs during the war as a rest home for them. And now it was all being repaired and fixed up. And so he stopped the bus and got off and went to them and said, "Are you planning to rent this building?" And they said, "Yes, we are. Do you know anybody who needs it?" And he said, "Let me see it." And it had three stories and then it had a large dining area and then it had a large play area, I mean, you know, a, like a family room place for games and big enough for ping pong and all kinds...just perfect for the children! And so, he said, "I'll, I'll; get in touch with you right away, but don't let anybody else...I'll make a reservation right now. Don't let anybody else have this." And he went down to Manila and talked with the leaders there, and they said, "Oh, by all means, get that for our school!" And so we only had nine children from our mission, but I taught them and there were four grades. And then I taught them there for the next three years.
SHUSTER: 'Til '56.
ELLIOTT: Yes, and...
SHUSTER: And then in '56 you returned to the United States?
ELLIOTT: And then I was in here. I came to grad school. Each time when we came home, I had gone to grad school first before I did anything else. And so...then, then after I was in...well, I was in grad school. I'd only been there...I think it was in October. Well, then I had a big heart attack and hand to be in the infirmary for five weeks and took me a whole year to get over it. But then I started...of course, there wasn't any question about his, my going back to the mission field. And so then I got a position right near in the Delaware Country Christian School in.... And from then on...well, from there I was asked to teach at Columbia Bible College, but then from there I went to Charleston to be with Frances because she was alone and her, her...she was lonely, and her family were all scattered now. And her husband had been killed there in Charleston. And so...in an accident. And so I felt she needed me, and I felt I needed her. And so we lived there, and we...the first year that we were together we taught in the public schools. And then just a month before...(well, it was July 31st) they came, a group came from the church and said, "Will you please start a Christian school in our church?" And I said, we said, "When do you want it started? Next year?" He said, "No! This year!" [Laughs]
ELLIOTT: And we said, "Well, we've already signed contracts with the, with the country, and we have to give them one month...we've...one month's notice." And so we went August 1st, and we were due to start school Jul-, September 1st. And so we had exactly one month! And, but we (praise the Lord)...that school is still going on.
ELLIOTT: And it has hundreds of students and the Lord has blessed it. So we thank the Lord.
SHUSTER: Well, I think that gives us a pretty good outline of, of the places that you served in China and the Philippines. So why don't we go all the way back to the beginning again...almost to the beginning...
SHUSTER: ...when you had recovered from the stress, and you were again in...
ELLIOTT: In Shucheng?
SHUSTER: ...in Shucheng. What were your new duties there when you returned?
ELLIOTT: Well, I was largely working with the children, because there hadn't been a great deal of children's work.
SHUSTER: Chinese children?
ELLIOTT: Chinese children. And, and so we started a special Sunday School for them and taught them to sing. And they loved to sing, and they were surprisingly quick at, at learning to carry a tune that, that used the...our, our scale. You see, not...the, the Chinese have the five, five-note scale where, where we have the seven-note or, you know, octave. And so, but they were able to carry tunes and then some of them...I learned Chinese-tuned choruses and songs, too, so that we, we sang both. And, and then they just loved Bible stories and then I had...I'd...I had a lot of...I drew pictures if I didn't have them. And then I'd make felt, felt pictures and, you know, then ask them to put a...put the next piece up and things like that so that they enjoyed taking part in it.
SHUSTER: How old were they?
ELLIOTT: Oh, they, they...from the...say, three to twelve or somewhere along in there. And then we also had...we...just naturally evolved that I had young people's work, too, and...
SHUSTER: Teenagers and....
ELLIOTT: ...and up to young married couples were also included. And so they wanted to learn to sing well, too, and so it wasn't very long before they were singing two parts. And when some missionary friends passed through, they said, "Hey, I've never heard Chinese singing in new parts." And, you know, after a little while, then I said, "How would you like to learn to sing three parts?" And they said, "We'd love it!" And so they could sing three parts, and then they became the choir...that group of young people...and they really did beautifully. And they led the people in singing, and so that they...that church became a really good singing church. And that attracted other Chinese who had never heard singing like that before. And so, a heathen just passing by would hear this. "Hey, what's this? Let's go in and see." And it was really...the Lord used that music, and I, I was very happy about that.
SHUSTER: Was most of your work, then, within the church with people who already were Christian as opposed to, say, evangelism?
ELLIOTT: No. We took turns going to out-stations. And we, we would go for maybe three days, maybe five days. And we would have one of the Chinese women from the church who knew the Bible to do the speaking. She would...she knew she was going to do the speaking. And then I would usually get the children first as soon as they'd had their supper. When they came home from school, they were all hungry and they'd always...Mother always have a big dinner, supper, ready for them. Well, then, after that it was still light, and so they would want something interesting and so when...I usually had pictures up and things. And so they'd come and then I started to teach them to sing. And as soon as other people started to hear them singing, then the adults gathered. And then Mrs. Wong or Mrs. Chung or Mrs. Tung would (whoever was the Bible woman with us that time).... She wasn't an official Bible woman, but she was the one who was going to give the...she would preach. And it really was lovely. It wasn't too long before Talchung [?] became a church group, and they.... Well, when I came back in 1940, they were. They had bought a place and were fixing it up to be a chapel where they could have their own church. And they didn't have a pastor, but at least different...some of the men were trying to learn enough to be able to lead it, and then we always went and still had Bible...then we would have Bible study groups with the women, particularly. I mean we would have the women. And then we also taught, taught the women who hadn't learned to read to read. We had study classes to teach them. But we also had that in Shucheng. We would go out to a country area maybe two or three miles from the city and a whole group would gather in one of the Christian women's homes. And we'd have a Bible study and then we'd also teach them to read. And we found that really it seemed indicative of whether they really were interested in becoming born-again Christians by whether or not they really learned to read, so that they could read their Bibles. We always said when we, we'd get together.... At that time there were just...well, Margaret got married and Hazel and I were, were...Hazel Todd and I...were the ones who were there, and Doris and Eva had been asked to go down to Tungcheng. And so there were just the two of us who were there in Shucheng at that time. And...
SHUSTER: Now, they were onl-...you were the only two there? Only two women or...
SHUSTER: ...the only two, period? You were the only two CIM people there, period.
ELLIOTT: Yes, yes. And occasionally people would pass through, you know, on the way to another station, but we the ones who were there. And, but what, what I loved was this...when we'd go out to the country and the women were anxious to have Bible study. That was such a joy and such a contrast to Tungcheng. So that...
SHUSTER: Where did you get the Bibles?
ELLIOTT: Oh, the American Bible Society had thousands and thousands of Bibles. There was no lack. And so whenever any...we had a huge stack of Bibles at the church. And the...they would buy them, and they weren't very expensive, but...
SHUSTER: These were Old and New Testament?
SHUSTER: Complete Bible?
ELLIOTT: The complete Bible, yes.
SHUSTER: When you had these Bible studies, what seemed to interest women the most? What most appealed to them in the Bible?
ELLIOTT: Well, first we would teach them the life of Jesus. And...to make sure that they understood that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for us. We emphasized that. And then we would emphasize living a Christian life that would show that we were born again. And, and teach them from Paul's Epistles and...so that usually most of our teaching was from the New Testament. Very, very little was from the Old Testament. We did te-...we would tell them about creation, but we might have one lesson on creation and Adam and Eve and the fall and the sin and the power of Satan. And they, they said, "Oh, yes. We know there is a Satan." And...
SHUSTER: Why did they know that when....?
ELLIOTT: They said that, "There is a power of evil here in China, and we know it. And this is so lovely to know that there's a power for good that will change us and makes us able to be good." Said, "Sometimes we don't want to be bad, but we can't help it. We don't have any way. We don't have anything inside us to help us. But this...this is wonderful! That we can be born again and we can rejoice in the Lord and He gives us the ability to try to get along as a family and get along happily together."
SHUSTER: Have you ever read the book Peace Child by Don Richardson?
ELLIOTT: I'm not sure.
SHUSTER: Well, at any rate, it's the story of a missionary to Papua New Guinea. And he was working with a tribe where it was within their culture the, the most admired person was the one who would...was the most devious and the most cunning. And he had a very difficult time preaching the Gospel to them until he found they have a tradition of something called the peace child, where if a family has exchanged a child and this child grows up as a member of the adopted family, then there is peace between the family. ANd he used that to show us Christ had brought peace to the human race by serving as, as adopting all of mankind into God's family.
SHUSTER: And I was wondering if when you were teaching and preaching to people if you found certain elements of Chinese culture that helped you to explain the Gospel?
ELLIOTT: Well, I, I hadn't thought along that line. I know that we tried to adapt our...whatever we said, so that they could link it with what they already knew.
SHUSTER: How did you do that?
ELLIOTT: And...I'm just trying to think now in what way. Well, you know that they use the word [uses Chinese word], which means "polite, politeness." And I...so sometimes we would say, "Now you know when you are polite, very often you are lying. You're saying you look beautiful when just every, anything but." Or, you are, you will say, "What a gifted person that person is, when they're not really at all gifted." Or, you know, they'll compliment then they'll turn around when that person's gone away, and say, "Ha! Ha! What a horrible person!" you know. And then they'll make fun and then it will cause (because eventually it will get back) and then there's trouble, trouble, trouble. And so, so, you see, so wh-, I remember talking about politeness and how there's a difference between politeness and truthfulness in their lan-, in their way of thinking. But we can also be polite and truthful, but be very careful that what we say as a compliment to somebody is what we sincerely think is true. That's fine, but otherwise...because Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" and if He's in our hearts, we're going to try to tell the truth. I always said, "Sometimes we fail. We slip, but, but He's going to help us." That kind of thing. We try to emphasize to....
SHUSTER: Well, what was the worship service like?
ELLIOTT: Well, the different elders were...really loved the Lord. And they had gone to...the mission would have a three-month Bible study course for people, because they couldn't...during the winter they could get away, but during the spring and summer and fall, they were very, very busy in their fields because most of them were farmers. But, so then for three months during the winter, they could get away so they would go to a Bible school. And they were taught, and they would work very hard to learn the Bible and to prepare sermons. And so then when...so there were several who had gone to these Bible schools and they were good leaders. And they, they trusted the Lord. And so when they led, it was really a Bible exposition, and it was very good.
SHUSTER: They preached, in other words...
ELLIOTT: Yes, they always preached. We, I prayed...we had a little, tiny little baby organ and had to pump it, you know. And I always played the organ when I was there or not always, but Margaret did before I did. And then, then we got so that we had a choir. Before that they didn't have a choir. And, but we'd have a lot of quote "outsiders" come in and they would stand around and the ushers would try to get them to sit down, but they'd say, "No," and they would come and they'd say, "I want to see those foreigners."
ELLIOTT: And so they'd walk right up to us and stare at us, and I read you that letter. And, but that was just...that happened many, many times. And so then different...there would be interruptions. [Laughs] You couldn't...it wasn't as quiet and beautiful as some of our church services here, but still it was effective and God was working. You know, maybe I'll just tell a little bit about the background of Shucheng, what...
ELLIOTT: Mission station. The station at Shucheng. And she started work by hiring a [unclear], a building on the main street. And, you know, the best way is to reach children first. And so she had meetings for children and she taught them. She had some pictures and she taught them the Word of God. And they loved it. And there was a girl who was sent by her mother-in-law. The custom was that girls who were engaged to be married (and they engaged them usually when they were between one and two) when they got to be eight or nine, their father would say, "Well, she's going to be in that family. I'm not going to buy her clothes and look after her any longer." So he would have her have a special wedding without her seeing the man she was to marry. He wasn't allowed to, but she would go as...really, she became the servant of her mother-in-law.
SHUSTER: Hmm. When she was about eight or nine?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And so this girl had been in, in the Teng home as...and she very seldom.... They lived, oh, I don't know, probably eight miles from city and out in the country in a farm. And very seldom her mother-in-law would allow her...you know, now she.... The custom is that this girl has to bring hot water and towel and everything to her mother-in-law in bed in the morning and then bring her her breakfast on a tray to her. And she has to cook it.
SHUSTER: It's a great life.
ELLIOTT: And, and she has to keep the house clean, and if she doesn't, her mother, her mother-in-law will beat her. And so, but anyway she sent her in, and as she was going along the street she heard these, this group of children singing because.... And she was so amazed and she wondered, "What's this?" They always are very curious. And that's one of the characteristics of the Chinese, at least in that area. And so she wanted to see what this was. And...it was so lovely and...and I told you the name of the lady and I can't think of her name.
ELLIOTT: Yes, Miss Smith.
SHUSTER: What was her first name again? Or don't...?
ELLIOTT: I can't think of it now. But anyway she, she said, "You know, come in," and she sort of patted her on the shoulder. Why she was so amazed to have anybody be nice to her because her mother-in-law had been so mean to her all the time. Well, then she heard at that thing that there was a God who loved and who loved even little girls! Why, she couldn't believe it. And so then she went back and then every time her mother-in-law would send her into the city, she would always go there to Miss Smith's meetings. Well, one day a relative of her mother-in-law saw her come out of there. And he told her mother-in-law. And her mother-in-law...by this time she was almost ready to be married. She was about a fifteen or sixteen. They get married then. And her mother-in-law said that a relative had told her that she had been to that "foreign devil" place. "How horrible! How horrible! Why, we don't...we're Buddhists and we don't worship anything except Buddhism. And we're not going to have you going to that foreign devil place!" Well, the next time she went in...oh, and she beat her. She beat her for going. Beat her very badly, so that she literally had to be in bed for three days. She could not...she almost broke her arms and legs. And so...it was very, it was a very short time after that that she was married. And then her husband was her boss. And, of course, she still had to serve her, her mother-in-law, but she also had to serve her husband.
SHUSTER: Then she's still in the same compound or same house.
ELLIOTT: Yes. Yes. But up 'til that time, he had never spoken to her. Until they were married he never spoke to her. He's not allowed to. That's against custom. And so just after he was married, then her mother-in-law said, "Go into the city and buy this and buy that," you know. And she went in and she went, and she went to see Miss Smith. And told her that she was married and Miss Smith was so friendly, and she just loved Miss Smith. And she had really grown to love the Lord and she couldn't read, but she loved to hear everything about the Gospel. And she really was a believer by that time. Well, when she came home, her husband said to her, "Did you go to that foreign devil place?" And she said, "Yes." And her mother-in-law screamed and said, "Beat her! Beat her! Beat her!" So he beat her again so badly that...and he hit her over the head, so he knocker her out. And he really...oh! She was in bed then another...at least another three days. And then she was in so, such pain, but, boy! They made her work regardless. But because she took it so sweetly, within a few months her husband came to her and said..."What makes you able to be sweet even when mother and I have been so mean to you?" And she said, "It's because I love Jesus and Jesus' love in my heart." He said, "I want it. I want that." And so she said, "Come with me." And so they were the first Christian family, first Christian couple in Tungcheng, in Shucheng. And their name was Teng. It's T-E-N-G, but there they don't pronounce the "g" in Teng. And so it was their sons (they had four sons), and those four sons were the elders when I was there. Now, when I went to see Mrs. Teng, but she had TB and she was in bed, and had to be in bed all the time. And, well, she had TB but she also had heart trouble. And so she was...but she was so lovely. Every time I went to see her, it was just a benediction to be with her. And she had learned to read. She had learned to read the Bible. And so her son...she couldn't hold it, but her sons had fixed from the ceiling a thing hanging down with a board and put her Bible there in front of her, so that she could...and she could turn the pages and read her Bible. And she said, "This is my joy to be able...while I'm sick, it doesn't matter. I'm just listening to the Word of God and the Lord speaks to me and it's so lovely." And so when she...I was up in Yingshang when she died, and they'd had a, a huge funeral for him. Everybody and his aunt supposed to have gone to that funeral. But do you know that when Mrs. Teng died, she had a bigger funeral procession than the mayor! [Laughs] Everybody loved her! And she had been such a wonderful influence, so that was, I believe, why it was a joy to me to work in Shucheng.
SHUSTER: What happened to her mother-in-law?
ELLIOTT: I do not know. I've never heard. But her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law died very soon after she was married to her husband. And when, when her son said that he wanted to be a Christian, at first I know that she was very, very angry and didn't like it at all. And I never did hear whether she ever became a Christian. She died before too long after they were married.
SHUSTER: Did you ever hear what finally happened to the family?
ELLIOTT: To the Teng family?
ELLIOTT: No, not, no now...not... I did...when, when the Japanese first came through, almost everybody fled. And one of the sons was married (the younger, one of the younger sons was married) and his wife had a new little baby. And, oh, he was a doctor and he was working as a doctor in the army, and he was down in Jiangxi Province and so she was taking the baby and there were a whole group together and they were all running because the Japanese were at that place making a great fast advance. So they were running to keep ahead. And while she was running, the baby got sick. And while, while they were just going along the road, she was holding, carrying the baby, it died. And she just had to...she didn't have time to even bury the baby. And she went down and was with her husband in Jiangxi and...because he was in the army and he was a doctor and he could look after her. But she's the only one that I remember. The other...a lot of them fled, but then after a while the Japanese had gone through Shucheng and a lot of them came back. And so when I came back in 1940 to Shucheng, a lot of them were there and we still, we had good church services and some of them were the elders again and so it was a good group back. And the Teng family were still leaders in the church.
SHUSTER: Was the...when we were talking a little bit earlier about the church service, you mentioned that the elders would preach and there would be music. Were there other services throughout the week? Were there other kind of church activities through the week besides the church service and the Sunday School?
ELLIOTT: Yes, they had a prayer meeting. They would have a prayer meeting. But they also had...but the, the best.... You see, it wasn't good to try to have things at night.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: Well, the city gates close. You can't get in and out. It's a city wall and when the city gates close, well, tough. You can't get in. And most of these were country people. So, they...the best thing to do was to have.... Now we had prayer meeting for the city people at a certain time, and they could come in the evening. That, I believe, I believe it was Wednesday night that they had the prayer meeting for them. But then we would go out and we'd have these classes. But then they would have their...
SHUSTER: They were during the day?
ELLIOTT: We had the classes during the day for the women, but, and for children. But in the evenings when they had finished their work in the fields, then they would get their group in this area to come for prayer and Bible study. And then over here in this group, they would have prayer and Bible study. So it wasn't only the Teng family. There were a number of other people who were really born-again Christians who loved the Lord and who also wanted to study the Bible and they had gone to these Bible schools. And so it wasn't just Teng who, who were the elders.
SHUSTER: Were there, were the CIM missionaries the only missionaries in the city?
ELLIOTT: Except Catholics.
SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with the Catholic missionaries or converts?
ELLIOTT: No, we really didn't. They, they kept very much to themselves, and I guess we did, too, although it wasn't that we were intentionally doing it, but it was just that the Chinese themselves separated. We were different. But, I believe, they were...I believe they were French, and we couldn't speak French and they couldn't speak English, so....
SHUSTER: And your Chinese were not good enough to talk...?
ELLIOTT: Oh, sure, we could have talked in Chinese, but we, they just.... As far as I remember, it was nuns and they didn't go out much.
SHUSTER: So there was very, no real contact between you?
ELLIOTT: No, no.
SHUSTER: And you say that the, so the Chinese Protestants and Chinese Catholics also did not associate?
ELLIOTT: No. Because...well, they, they...when they would ask, "Who do you worship?" and they would say, "Oh, they worshipped the Virgin Mary," well, then, they'd say, "Well, we're taught that the Virgin Mary was just a woman that God used and that she was human and only Jesus was without sin." And they'd say, "Oh, no! She's holy! She's pure. She was," you know, "perfect." And so then they said, "Well," sort of, "we don't believe the same way." So....
SHUSTER: Was there any animosity or hostility between the two groups or...
SHUSTER: ...they were just separate?
ELLIOTT: No. It was, it was just that there was so very different that...and they had, they had French Bibles and if they had any Bibles at all it would be in French. And they didn't have...I don't think that they learned too much. I don't know, but I inferred that they didn't...they tried...they didn't have so much in Chinese. And I, I really am...I'm maybe I'm making up. I mean [laughs] I hope I'm not, but I mean I really don't know very much about it, because we didn't...
SHUSTER: There wasn't very much contact.
ELLIOTT: We didn't have contact.
SHUSTER: Well, why don't we...the tape's almost out, so why don't we stop there for today.
SHUSTER: Thank you again.
END OF TAPE