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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the fifth oral history interview of Miss Eleanor Ruth Elliott (CN 187, #T5) 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.
Chinese place names are spelled in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus "Shansi" is used instead of "Shanxi" because that is how Elliott pronounced it.
This transcription was made by Robert Shuster and Kerry Cox from completed in January 1990.
Collection 187, Tape #T5; Interview of Eleanor Ruth Elliott by Robert Shuster, November 2, 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 November 2, 1981 at 3 o'clock pm. Miss Elliott, when we stopped last time you were in the middle of telling the story of how the mission compound was surrounded by the Japanese army and you were having difficulty getting food supplies or feeding all the people, the refugees. Would you like to continue with that?
ELLIOTT: Yes. The food that they brought in lasted us for 10 days and then Mr. Davis came to us and said, "I've got to go back to that officer and ask for permission to get more food." And we all said, "Oh, no. You don't dare go. He promised that he would shoot you." And, he said, "Well, [chuckles] which way? We.... We'll did one way or another." And so.... So then I said to the people, "All right. Let's have an all night prayer meeting." And.... Because he said, "I'll go tomorrow morning." And so we...I said, "Who would like to pray from 6 until 9? And then who would like to pray from 9 until 12? And who would like to pray from 12 until 3? And 3 until 6? And at 6 o'clock, we'll all gather to pray."
SHUSTER: Were all the people in the compound Christians?
ELLIOTT: No, but they were learning. [Laughs] And they were willing to pray and the Bible women had been teaching them, we had been teaching them. We had had Bible classes. Every time there had been any free time at all, we had had Bible classes. And...and pray times. And so they were learning. A good many of they were beginning to say.... They would come either to the Bible women or to me or to one of the elders and say, "I would like to become a Christian." So there were a number of them who already had accepted the Lord as Saviour. But most of the people were already church members. But we...we had our prayer time and we...and all the women were so.... Well, it was particularly.... I was with the women. The men had their own prayer meeting over on their side of the compound. Men and women don't in China, don't pray together all night, anyway. And.... They do in church but not otherwise. And so...but at 6 o'clock the men came over and we were all together to pray and then about 8 Mr. Davis came and said, "I'm leaving now." Well, we all felt just heartsick and so everybody just said, "Oh, we just must pray for the safety of Mr. Davis and pray that God will work for us." And so we paid most earnestly. And he left and then usually, you see, he'd be made to wait by this previ...this officer who was there. Made to wait for 4 hours or so. Usually was noon before he'd let him in even into the office to talk with him. And...but about 8:30 he called me from the...out of the prayer meeting. And I was amazed. And he came and he said, Miss Elliott, I would like you to meet Captain ..." (And I don't remember his Japanese name, but we'll say Captain Okmoto or something). And he said in perfect English, "Miss Elliott, I am so glad to meet you. I'm your brother in the Lord." I said, "Are you in charge here? In the south city?" He said, "Yes." And I said, "When did you come?" And he said, "At midnight last night the previous officer was transferred and I was transferred in." And he said, "Is there anything I can do for you?" I said, "There certainly is. We're starving!" He said, "Do you know where food is?" And I said, "Yes. There...the people all around here have food stored in their homes but we haven't been allowed to go to get it." He said, "What do you need then?" I said, "We need passes." And he said, "Fine. I'll write passes for you." And he took out a pad and he wrote passes for us right then and of course Mr. Davis used the men to go and some of the neighbors, you see, had food in their homes. People who were living...who'd come into the compound. And so they were able to go and get food from their homes or else they would tell the young men, "Now, in this, you go through this courtyard and then over here and you'll find food and you can bring it in for us." And so we had just plenty of food. Well then we...this officer came a number of times to visit us and he said that he was born in Vancouver, Canada and that he and his brother [static on tape] had gone to visit their grandmother in Japan and while there the Japanese declared war on China and wouldn't let them go back home. And even though they were Canadians officially, yet they made...they made them go into the army. And he was, gradually, made a captain and so then he...he said.... He kept coming and he would have...we'd have pray times together and why, it was just a joy to be with him. And then he said, "Is there anything else that I can do for you?" and I said, "Well, I'll tell. We haven't had any fresh green vegetables for so long. Do you think that you could...we could...Mr. Davis could take some of the men out to the farms, out, outside the city?" Because a lot of the Christians who were there were from farms outside. And he said, "Oh, yes." He said, "Now, I'm not in charge of that. I'll have to talk with the officer whose in charge of outside the city. But if he approves, then we'll write passes." And so he came back the next day and he said, "That man approves if only four men go with Mr. Davis at a time." So when Mr. Davis went out, he went to...they all...the men knew whose farms they were going to and they weighed all the vegetables and then when they brought them in, they sold them and then Mr. Davis kept the money and he kept track of whose farm and so then later, after the Japanese had left the area, even though there was fighting in other areas, a lot of people came back and he was able to pay them for that and they were so grateful. But there had been no trouble in...in getting the...the food that we needed and I can tell you the very fi.... [Tape recorder switched off]
ELLIOTT: [Tape recorder switched on again.] The very first time Mr. Davis came back with those four men carrying loads of fresh, lovely green vegetables, everybody was so thrilled to have fresh vegetables again. Oh, they really tasted like a million dollars. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Well, how many people did you have within the compound, altogether?
ELLIOTT: Two hundred and eighteen. And.... At first we had only had, I think it was 208 of our local people and then at the end there, just before...just ahead of the Japanese, a family came in and I think I told you about the little boy? Had his...? But that family I think added 10 more.
SHUSTER: And how long were they there all together?
ELLIOTT: All together, the Japanese were there for 3 months. And so at the...toward the very end, that was when the general who had been so kind came and.... I...Did I tell you...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...about his giving...giving me that pass? Well, so that was really a very wonderful provision of the Lord. But just...I think that they finally left the day before Thanksgiving in November and the Chinese came in right away. There were Chinese soldiers who had been in hiding around. And as soon as they came back in and then the leaders of the city had come in, well then they...they came and asked if any of our men when they went out had stolen anything from any of the...of the stores or from the houses or anything. And Mr. Davis said, "No. One man tried once but I found it on him (I was inspecting them) and I told them that if any one brought a single thing that did not belong to...to us into the compound, that I would...would a just push him out and the Japanese could do what they liked with him." So they didn't do that. There was another group that did and their....
SHUSTER: What group was that?
ELLIOTT: The Catholics.
SHUSTER: Oh, so they also had a refugee camp within the town?
ELLIOTT: They had, yes, some, but not as big, not as many as ours. But they...they were German, I believe, and anyway, when they came over...the priest came over, they would...it was mostly nuns but there were...there was just this one priest left and the priest came over to see Mr. Davis and he said, "This is the opportunity for people to get rich. Why, the whole city is here. We'll just help ourselves." And while.... I can't.... Isn't terrible not to be able to think of the girl that I was working with. The younger girl got sick and we had tried and tried to help her with all the medicines that we had on hand but nothing seemed to work and so evidently she must have had...I don't know whether it was typhoid or.... Something. But we had to...they...the nuns over there had a little hospital, and so I took her over....
SHUSTER: This was while the Japanese were still occupying the city?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And I had taken her over and the men had carried her on a.... And they...when we got there and the nuns were admitting her and they were very nice and putting her...and she was very comfortable. And they were able to help her and it was...she was there about two weeks and I went and visited her to see how she was getting on. But each time I went, I saw that big rooms in the courtyard were being filled with furniture from the homes of people who lived there in the city and filled with things from the stores, whole things. And this priest was standing there watching and helping them and urging them on to get more.
SHUSTER: So the city was mostly deserted?
ELLIOTT: Oh yes. All the stores were closed and all the homes were locked. But they broke in.
SHUSTER: Well, were there any reprisals when the Chinese came back?
ELLIOTT: Oh yes! As soon as they did, as soon as they came in, they told the priest and the nuns, "You be out of here within 8 hours or you will be shot." So they fled hastily and then they said to the Chinese leaders, "Now, you tell us what you did and then you open all these doors to all these big rooms that you have filled with stuff." And so then they made people come and claim their furniture or things that belonged to them. And they had to have some kind of proof. And sometimes they would leave...you know, they'd only maybe 3 or 4 pieces of the best furniture from but then other pieces of furniture in their house matched and so they could prove that that was their furniture. So a whole lot of people claimed their furniture from there and then they had a trial and two of their church leaders were beheaded and their heads were put on poles on either side of the...of the bridge that went across from the south city to the north city and so when we went over they had been in...in town about two days. When we went over for Thanksgiving. It was 2 days before Thanksgiving, yes. And the Lutherans were in the north city and they had a hospital. That's where we usually went if we had anything serious. Fortunately, none of us had had to go but they were lovely. And so they invited us for Thanksgiving. So we had Thanksgiving dinner with them. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: When you say, "When they came back," you're talking about the Chinese army?
SHUSTER: And it was the army, then, that held a trial and beheaded these men?
ELLIOTT: It was really not the army so much as the local people. The mayor of the city, the...the leaders, the city leaders who knew what they were doing. They had....
SHUSTER: Were there any other reprisals, or actions taken by the army when they came back?
ELLIOTT: Well, the captain of the...the army group (it was only a small group that came back) but he announced to all of the soldiers who came in, before they came into the city he said, "If one of you goes into a locked store and tries to steal anything, I'm going to shoot you." Well, when I went, just after they came in, and went across the bridge.... Well, I was going down the main street of the south city and I saw a man shot...a soldier shot and he was lying in a pool of blood. And I inquired and they said, "The captain shot him because he had broken into a store and was trying to steal." And so he left him there so he would...people would know that he really meant what he said, that he would shoot anybody who tried to steal.
SHUSTER: So, there wasn't any rioting by the troops, anything of that nature?
ELLIOTT: Not at all. And the Japanese general had said, "Oh, there's going to be terrible trouble! That's why you ought to leave." You know, and I said, "No, I feel the Lord has led me here, He's gonna look after us so we don't need to worry."
SHUSTER: When you had 250 people within the compound for 3 months, how did you spend your days, what did all of those people do?
ELLIOTT: Well, this is how we... this is why we had Bible study classes, and we had prayer meetings, and.... But then, you see, they.... It was so hard to...we didn't have a lot of cooking space and a lot of cooking utensils and things so they all had to take turns. And so it was...it took a long time to cook food for the families and each family cooked for their.... And then, if their happened to be maybe three or four from one family that didn't have any cooking utensils, well then, this family would cook for them and things like that. But, it took a lot of time just to prepare the food for them to eat.
SHUSTER: Was there a danger of epidemic or disease?
ELLIOTT: There was. And we really prayed about that. And it was really wonderful that.... Now, there were some that had come in with different kinds of.... They'd eaten something, while, you know...like this...this family coming in had eaten things that were just absolutely bad for them. And then when we were eating all those weeds and everything a lot of people got stomach disorders and [laughs] all kinds of things that were not healthy but we...we all just took it.... You just expected you're not going to be perfectly healthy and I, I was reading over my letters and I found that I had developed diarrhea and...and so...and then I was running a fever of a 103, 104 and so I had to be in bed for about ten days and...and the girls carried on and...so we were thankful that we had two Bible women, the older Bible woman and her daughter. They were just lovely. And...and then there were several very fine Christian women who were members of the church who were also very generous and good about helping others. And that set a very fine example for the rest. And even though some of them were not Christians yet, it was lovely. Did I tell you afterward...that afterward, a lady that we had called on many, many times and she wouldn't come to church, "No, " she was "an idol worshiper, " she "wasn't going to come." I don't know whether I told this story to you or not or not. But she...while she was there she said, "Oh, I've never heard of God answering prayer so wonderfully as He has so many times in such marked way. I can't help but believe in God." And then she said, "And because of that, I can't help but believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. He came to save us." And so she said, "I, I don't want to worship idols anymore. I'm only going to worship God and worship Jesus Christ my Savior. I'm going to accept him as my Savior." And so after the Japanese left and the Chinese came in, she brought three gifts for, for us three girls and she brought a gift to Mr. Davis. But there was one that was so lovely that all three of us wanted it so we said "Oh, we'll draw straws for that one and it just happened that I was fortunate enough to get it.
SHUSTER: What was it?
ELLIOTT: She had a brass bowl that had been in their family for over 700 years and was used for worshiping their ancestors. And it was...it would...they would fill it with ashes and then stick sticks of...of the incense in it, and then they would kneel and that was right in front of their ancestral tablets. They kept records of their ancestors and it went back over, she said, over 700 years. They had the record of their ancestors. And so they worshiped their ancestors and they believed that if they did that then that would count toward good works for them and so then when in reincarnation they wouldn't come back as a spider or as a, you know, something terrible, but they would come back as a man, the women would come back as a man. That would be wonderful, you see, and so they believed in reincarnation. So, they prayed very faithfully, but she said, "Now that I'm a Christian, we do not need this." And so, I have that. Now she gave it to me in 1938 and I have that and so I'm sure now it's well over 700 and 50 years...
SHUSTER: Oh, my goodness.
ELLIOTT: ...old. Well, I wondered if...if there was any place here where you could use that?
SHUSTER: Oh, certainly, if you would want to part with something like that. I imagine that would be pretty dear to you.
ELLIOTT: Well, it is. It is very dear to me, but if it can bring glory to the Lord by being where more people can see it, with the story attached to it...
SHUSTER: Well, that could be used in our museum, yes.
ELLIOTT: Well, I'll be glad to bring it.
SHUSTER: Great. I want to.... I have a reference book here. It's called The World War II Almanac and it covers events from 1931 to 1945.
SHUSTER: There's a paragraph here I want to read to you to get your reaction to. See if it corresponds to things that you witnessed and experienced. This is June, 1938. It says, [Shuster reads from pages 67 and 68 of World War II Almanac 1939-1945: A Political and Military Record by Robert Goralski, published by Putnam in 1981.]"Fearing Japanese seizure of the vast area between the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, Chiang Kai-shek ordered General Shang Chen to blow up the dikes of the latter. The Chinese 32nd and 39th corps evacuated the area and then unleashed the water's full force. While the Japanese advance towards Hankow was halted for a short time, the destruction to the Chinese people was catastrophic. More than two million were left homeless as the torrent swept through portions of Honan, Anhwei, and Kiangsu..."
ELLIOTT: Kiang [key ong] su.
SHUSTER: "...Kiangsu provinces. Eleven larger cities and towns and 4000 villages were destroyed. Losses of the crops and washing out of the topsoil led to famine for years to come. The precipitate action earned Chiang the contempt of millions of Chinese." Is that...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, that was true and the...the Yellow River goes...it...part of it goes from Shansi through northern Honan and then through the very northern tip of Anhwei and then it turned north and went through Hopei[?] and Shandong and then went to the Pacific. Well, then there was a...the Wei River was a branch off from the Yellow River that came down through our area of Anhwei. And we had.... Margr...in Margaret's letters there were lots and lots of refugees from the flood. Flood refugees who came because their fields had been completely inundated and their houses were destroyed and...so.... A little bit.... Well, she said 100 dollars was sent to them for...
SHUSTER: A hundred dollars each or 100 dollars for all of them?
ELLIOTT: No, 100 dollars were sent to Margaret and Vincent in Hioqiu to use to buy food for these refugees who were passing through by the hundreds and so they were.... There were so many people who were running away from the Japanese at the same time that they could buy rice quite cheaply, and so they decided that they would use rice rather than anything else because at least that would be something that they could carry because they were running and they didn't want to have too much, and yet they wanted something to eat, and that would be something that they could fix in the evenings and eat and still.... So they bought rice very cheaply from the farmers who were preparing to run, and then they used that to give to the refugees.
SHUSTER: Did the.... Was the area where you were affected by these floods?
ELLIOTT: No, the Wei River had high dikes and...on either side of the river, above the wat...the regular banks they had built high river dank...ta...dikes. And so these dikes protected...mostly. Now generally Anhwei had some flooding but not too much and I don't think that any of the other places were really flooded there where we were in Anhwei, but we were [on] the Wei River which was a...just a tributary and the main part of the destruction was north of us. But there were many people who.... You see the Japanese were coming down from the north and the.... All the places where the refugees...I mean where the food shortage was was in the north, too. So Margaret and Vincent tried to help. Actually, Margaret wrote a book and in it...
SHUSTER: Oh, what...?
ELLIOTT: ...she just mentions that the people of the town said, "You've got to give us food." And they said, "But this money was given to us for the refugees. And so we have bought this rice." And these people were not planning to leave and they said, "We demand it!" And they said, "Well, we're sorry, but we can't because when we receive money that is designated for a specific purpose we must use it just for that purpose." And as a result, one night they threw lighted wood and things over onto their house trying to burn their house down. And at that time Margaret was pregnant and they had a little...had two little girls and she had a miscarriage and it would have been a little boy and they felt...I felt very sorry about that 'cause Vincent, of course, would have loved to have had a son. So these.... It...it didn't have.... It wasn't without some trouble giving out this refugee money. Now, the.... Mr. Youn[?], the pastor of the church at Yingshang, was given some money, too. I didn't know anything about it because I wasn't there. I was in Honan at the time. When I came back to Yingshang later, just for a very short visit, some of the Christian people came to me and they said "How come, after the refugees had gone through and after things had settled down, how come Mr. Youn[?] was able to buy five [Chinese expression] of land?" And so....
SHUSTER: Well, was that a justifiable complaint or was it a...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, it was true. We knew that he, he wasn't exemplary. And that made.... You see, this is why whenever.... You see, the only two places that I went as one of the two hundred to help to open.... Teddy and I found it so difficult because Mr. Youn[?] was supposed to be the pastor and he was the most dictatorial and it was.... We found it....
SHUSTER: Now he was different from the man you...at the first place where you were assigned, right? He was... I mean, he was a different man..
ELLIOTT: Fight, right...cause this was...when we went.... When I went from Jen...from Shucheng up to Yingshang, it was (I think I said before) it was like going from South China to North China because...with all the wheat and everything, but also that was where, oooooh, the bugs. Every time we went anywhere we had to carry the kind of insect killer powder that you can spr.... We just had this.... We always just took it, but, oh boy, we always were just covered with.... When we'd come back home, we'd have to take off our clothes and bathe and.... In one of my letters I said I counted, after church I counted twenty-seven lumps [laughs]. I had been bitten by.... They had crawled from the woman who sat next to me onto my sleeve and then I counted twenty-seven lumps [laughs].
SHUSTER: So, the pastor was dictatorial, you said?
ELLIOTT: And he was.... We could never be sure when...when the offering was taken, he wouldn't allow anybody else to account for the offerings and this to us was disturbing. And there were so many things but we.... In...in reading over my old letters, I found that out in the country, oh, there was just a wonderful group of...especially of women and the family of the woman who worked for us was out there. And they were lovely Christians who truly loved the Lord and so every time we went out to that area, why, it was a joy. And then we'd have Bible study and...and people who were non-Christians would come in and we'd tell them the Gospel and other people would say "Yes, I believe it. You ought to believe it, too!" you know, so that was encouraging. And then, Katie and I both loved children's work and so we had a Sunday School and then.... I...I was re-reading about how at Christmas time we promised that any who could say all the memory verses that we had assigned would be able to get a...a little prize. And so they worked really hard....
SHUSTER: The children, the children work very hard?
ELLIOTT: The children worked hard, but there parents didn't care whether they learned it or not, but they did and so there were about 20 or 25, I think who, who earned.... Oh, we just had, I think, some American kind of cookies and we wrapped them all up in pretty little paper and put little flowers and stuff...paper flowers, they (that's the way you...that's the way you're supposed to decorate things, you know, to give for a present) and so they were thrilled. And so we felt, well, at least some children heard the Gospel and memorized scripture. The women. We couldn't make a dent.
SHUSTER: These are women in town?
ELLIOTT: Yes, in the city. They...
SHUSTER: Why do you think that was?
ELLIOTT: Well, most of them were very, very slow mentally. To the few...well, comparatively few, who attended the church were.... Well, the other Chinese said "They're morons" and [laughs] I agree [laughs again] (That's terrible to say that!) But, you see, because they said "Why do you let him be (Mr. Youn) be such a boss over the whole group?" And so we felt that way, too, and so sometimes Katie and I were just very discouraged but then we'd go out to this one out-station that was a joy and that would give us inspiration and...and help us to be able to go on.
SHUSTER: So you say that the women in the church in town were very...not very bright?
ELLIOTT: No. The...we'd go call, we'd call in the homes and there were some very bright women...
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
ELLIOTT: ...and but they said "Oh no, we wouldn't think of going there. We're not going to go to that place." Because....
SHUSTER: Because of the pastor?
ELLIOTT: Yes. They said "We don't trust him," and I think they had good reason to. [laughs]
SHUSTER: How...how was the pastor chosen in the churches? Was he...?
ELLIOTT: I don't know because when I came there he was already in charge and I had come from the south Anhwei which was a Baptist area and then up there in north Anhwei was a Presbyterian area and I had told the mission that I really didn't care which place I was sent and I would work in either place. Well, when I got up there, the very week after I got up there Mr. Youn said to the men "Build a baptistery. We're going to have baptisms by immersion." So I said "Mr. Youn, would you please write to Shanghai, to our mission headquarters and say "This was nothing that Miss Elliott did." [laughs] And so he did, he wrote and said that it was his own idea and that...
SHUSTER: So, as...as the missionary in a particular area, you really had nothing to do with the choosing of the pastor or the elders of the church?
SHUSTER: That was...
ELLIOTT: ...we didn't.
SHUSTER: You were more or less advisors or....
ELLIOTT: Right. We just tried to work as much with him as we could. If possible, we would try to have prayer time with him but it didn't seem to me, at least in my letters I didn't find any references of really having prayer meetings that really counted as prayer meetings and really good Bible studies. We would try to have Bible studies with the women, but they couldn't read and they weren't interested in learning to read, whereas in the country those women were willing to learn to read. They wanted to.
SHUSTER: Why do you think there was that great difference between the town and the country?
ELLIOTT: Well, it was because the grandmother of our girl who was our serving woman wa...had been born again, truly born again, and then her family, through her, had become Christians and then, just because that one family in that city had become Christians, they were a wonderful influence. Their lives were so loving, that made the difference in the city and so in tha...well, it wasn't a city it was a...just a little town. And so we went...when we went out there, people were receptive because they said "Hey, being a Christian is good. It changes people. It makes them kind and considerate and thoughtful of others and so Jesus must be able to change people."
SHUSTER: So it was a question of just a handful of devout believers?
ELLIOTT: Right, that was right. But that was what made.... I was glad that.... in a way I was only there for just a year when I had to go to be in Honan.
SHUSTER: And when did your furlough begin?
ELLIOTT: In '39.
SHUSTER: The beginning of '39?
ELLIOTT: About March, I believe it was somewhere along in there.
SHUSTER: Did you...? You returned home with your sister and brother-in-law?
ELLIOTT: Yes. We hadn't really been in correspondence because the mails weren't running and everybody was running except the mails [laughs] and so I just decided that.... And I didn't know for sure if I had furlough granted or not because I hadn't heard from Shanghai, but I knew that my furlough was due and overdue and so I just went to.... I just packed up and went to Hioqiu where Margaret and Vincent were and they had gotten in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Costeras who were in Luan, south of there, and they were long overdue for a furlough, and so then we went out together.
SHUSTER: When you returned to the states, did you find people curious about China? Were they...were you invited to speak?
ELLIOTT: Oh yes, we had many, many invitations to speak, and everywhere we went people wanted to know and....
SHUSTER: Did...? What were the impressions that people had at that time of China and especially the church in China?
ELLIOTT: Well, I think that they knew that there was war and trouble and there was government trouble and Chiang Kai-Shek had actually been taken by one of the warlords. You know, for years before Chiang Kai-Shek took over, different parts of the country were under different warlords (they called themselves that). And so every once in a while the warlords would fight to get more territory, and after [pause].... Chiang Kai-Shek had...had become.... He had proclaimed that he was the leader over all of the Chi...of China and with headquarters in Nanking. He went north and one of the warlords captured him. And while he was there, Chiang Kai-Shek prayed that God would enable him to get free. And he was held, I don't remember how long, but during that time was when he said later, I heard him give a testimony, he said, "During that time, I accepted the Lord as my Savior."
SHUSTER: Did the people in the United States seem to you to understand what the situation in China was like? Did they have an accurate picture or...?
ELLIOTT: Well, I think that they.... No, different places had different ideas, you know, but they all knew that the Japanese had been advancing and advancing rapidly and they also knew that there was...there had been trouble. They did know, too, that Chiang Kai-Shek had been in the group that had come from the South that were the Reds, that they were Bolshevi...Bolshevists who had...and Chiang Kai-Shek himself had been trained in, in Moscow. And there were Russians who were in the group that came from the South. But later, they were in Szechuan when Chiang Kai-Shek repudiated any alliance with Bolshevism and said "No, I'm not a Communist. I refuse to be a Communist and I think that we should be free." That is to... the teaching and the...when it came...when it actually came into practice, it wasn't, he felt, right for the people. There were.... It was supposed to be equalizing, but some people were more, more equal than others and so he didn't...so he chose...he said "We're going to have the Republic of China."
SHUSTER: What kind of impressions did Americans have of China?
ELLIOTT: I really don't know becau...too much.... I can't...don't remember too much about what Americans here thought about China at that time. They were very glad to know that the Lord was at work and....
SHUSTER: There...there did seem to be support for the Chinese church, for Chinese Christians?
ELLIOTT: Well, many people were praying for the, the church, that they could endure this, and they were very glad to hear that even though there were times of severe testing, yet the church was surviving and that...even growing through it. So they were very glad to know that. So, it was a joy.
SHUSTER: I have to go out for a minute, but I'll be right back. I have to check on something.
SHUSTER: I have to check on something. [Tape is shut off and turned back on] When you returned to China from your furlough, what was your next assignment?
ELLIOTT: Well, excuse me, but I will tell you that while we were home on furlough, Margaret and Vincent and I all came here to grad school.
SHUSTER: Oh. What...?
ELLIOTT: And every time I was on furlough I came to grad school.
SHUSTER: How long were you at Wheaton?
ELLIOTT: One semester.
ELLIOTT: So we didn't have a great deal of time, but I...I thought that you might be interested to know that the Back to the Bible broadcast was behind me and when I came through the Epp family asked me to stay with them for several days and I was asked to speak over the Back to the Bible broadcast and so they...we've been good friends and I still keep in touch with them. [softly laughs]
SHUSTER: What do you mean, "Was behind you?"
ELLIOTT: Well, they asked people to pray for me and then they sent to my support but, they sent to the mission, you see, we never ask for money, the China Inland Mission never asks.... none of us are ever allowed, ever, to write and say I need so much money, never. And you know, we prayed and if, if the Lord saw that we needed it, He saw...saw to it that we had our needs supplied so.... He still does. [laughs] I never have to worry about it.
SHUSTER: How did you get to know the Epps?
ELLIOTT: Well, they wrote to me and they just saw my...you know, when I went out, I was one of the two hundred. I guess they just, went like that, and chose...
SHUSTER: Chose the name out of a hat and wrote.
ELLIOTT: Right. So...so that was very nice.
SHUSTER: So when you came back on furlough that was the first time you had actually met them in person?
ELLIOTT: Yes. So it was really nice. We had been in correspondence when mails were running [laughs] but we.... So I had an opportunity then to see members of the family and my prayer partners. That was the.... We went, we...we have prayer partners who promise to pray for us regularly, whether daily, or weekly, or even monthly, it doesn't matter to me, just so that people will be praying, and so I...we always make it a special thing to go to see our prayer partners when we come home on furlough.
SHUSTER: Did you have to travel throughout the whole United States to visit them or was it in one area of the country?
ELLIOTT: Oh, it was all around [laughs] so we travelled a lot. I was glad to be in grad school where I didn't have to travel [laughs].
SHUSTER: What did you study in grad school?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I took more teaching, took more Bible, took more, I mean, how to teach, how to teach English. Oh, different.... Anything that I thought would be practical for...for me and it proved to be very helpful.
SHUSTER: What...who were your teachers?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I was just trying to remember.... I don't have any...
SHUSTER: Were the LeBar sisters?
SHUSTER: The LeBar sisters?
ELLIOTT: Yes, yes, they were excellent and oh, a lady who had been teaching in New York, at the New York...at a New York seminary or Bible school. She was a top notch teacher and.... Oh, I really, I'm sorry, I've.... I know that I had Dr. Tenney but I'm not sure when, whether it was the next time I came home on furlough or not.
SHUSTER: What were your impressions of his teaching?
ELLIOTT: Oh, top notch! Very, very good!
SHUSTER: In what way, what was the...what were the strengths of his teaching?
ELLIOTT: Oh, he knew the Bible and it was...his teaching the Bible that helped me a great deal. And...[pauses] Just as a little side, my brother, Ed, graduated from, from.... Well, he must have been one that I took from on my first furlough because Ed graduated in '39 from Wheaton and we went there and saw him and (after he had graduated) and then, when he was visiting me in...two years ago, just before he was killed on that plane crash, we went over to Wheaton and we met Dr. Tenney in the hall and I can hardly believe that a man after all those years would put his hand on Ed's shoulder and say "Elliott!" and then he said "Edwards, Edwards Elliott!" That was his name, you see. How he could remember after all those years, so...and, of course, he knew the rest of us, too, 'cause we'd all taken from him. And it was wonderful to see him again and to have him remember. Oh, I can't remember people I've met yesterday! [laughs] So....
SHUSTER: When you returned to China, did you have any difficulty getting back into the country again, 'cause of the war conditions?
ELLIOTT: No, we.... Well, I had to go...we couldn't go by way of Japan, of course, and so we had to go.... We stopped in Hawaii and then went to Guam, but we weren't allowed to stop...we weren't allowed to get off in Guam because that was entirely military. Then we went to the Philippines and had to go winding around through because there were places where it wasn't safe and...and then we finally got to Hong Kong.
SHUSTER: So you didn't get off at the Philippines. You just sailed through the archipelago.
ELLIOTT: Yes, we, we didn't stop. And we got to Hong Kong and then we were able to get up to Shanghai.
SHUSTER: And what was your next assignments once you reached Shanghai?
ELLIOTT: Well, then I was asked to go back to Shucheng, and that I didn't mind a bit. You know, remember you asked me if I remembered Pearl, that I had mentioned Pearl? Well, afterward, of course, I remembered, Pearl Galloway. She was a lovely girl and....
SHUSTER: And she was your co-worker now [unclear]?
ELLIOTT: No. When I went back.... Now Pearl had only been in Shucheng not too long and then she became engaged and then she got married and so she left, of course. And so that's why...(isn't that terrible to say?) that's why I forgot but she wasn't there too long when I was there. And...but I was stationed to be with Hazel Todd again. And Hazel and I got along fine. And so we were to be there.... I had to come up from Shanghai by train to Bengbu and then from Bengbu the only way.... We were.... Bengbu, just outside of Bengbu was the edge of the Japanese line and then there were two-hundred miles of what were called "no-man's land" before the Chinese lines. So the Chinese lines and the Japanese lines were that far apart and all this area was filled with bandits. And so there were a group of us, five of us, who were coming in together: a couple, and then three single ladies. And we had to bring materials.... The couple (I can't think of their name), were going up to Shansi and they were taking in supplies of foods that could not be procured upcountry and material for clothes and thread and a special kind of needles and stuff that you can't get upcountry, they were taking up for all the missionaries in their area. Well, each of us were taking things for the missionaries in our area, from Shanghai. They had all written down to say, "Please, when anybody comes to our area, will they please bring this and this and this and this and this." So we had 27 loads that..when we got off the train...of things. We got carts. In that.... in Bengbu going west, we.... I had never seen this kind of carts before. They were.... They had been rickshaws, but instead of just being a chair on wheels, they had put flat boards and then they would load them with all kinds of stuff to carry them across because they could do that rather than carrying them with just a pole. They couldn't carry very much. This way they could carry hundreds of pounds, each man, and then make a whole lot of money if he could get across safely with that. And so we had our twenty seven carts and then, as we were starting out, different merchants said, "Oh, can we travel with you? Your God's gonna look after you and maybe it will keep the bandits away from us." And so more and more were added and it got to be almost a hundred carts together. Well, whenever anybody got a flat tire we'd all stop. And to go that 200 miles, I think it took us almost a month. And we would.... They didn't have inns like we usually would stay in. It would just be a farmer's house and it would be crowded and.... Or, very occasionally we were able to get to a little village and then it would be more room and more comfortable. But one time I know we three girls, we all...we had our camp cots and we had our own bedding and they drove the pigs out of a room and didn't even hardly swept it out at all and we literally, we asked them for a shovel and [laughs] you know...
SHUSTER: Shoveled it on out.
ELLIOTT: We had to shovel it out and then set up our camp cots and sleep there. So that was one of the places where we stayed. And.... But there was a little village where it had a city wall around it and so all these 90...I think there were 97 carts. They all came and there were little inns there and so our group had one place and they went on and they had other places and we said, "Now, this is the last night we're gonna be...we're gonna get up at three o'clock in the morning and we're gonna be able to get to Taihu. And when we get to Taihu we'll be safe. We'll be past this bandit area. And so we set our alarms...we had an alarm clock and we set our alarm clock and got it...3 o'clock. Well, when we got up and we folded up our bedding and rolled it up with our oil sheets (we always had oil sheets in case it got rained on), and we got everything all fixed, came out, and the men were still sound asleep. So we called to them and said, "Aren't you going to get up? You said you were going to get up at 3 o'clock. It' about 3:30 now." So they came very sleepily out and they started getting ready and then they, these merchants who were with us were passing and they were saying, "Aren't you ready to go? We're going. Well you said 3 o'clock and we mean three o'clock. If we've got to.... We've got a long way to go to get to Taihu." And so they kept passing and more people kept yelling at these men, "Hurry up! Get going!" And we felt like saying, "Yes, sir. Why don't you get going?" So they finally got our things loaded and then they started.... They hadn't even.... the very first cart hadn't gone out the door of this little inn where we were staying when they got a flat tire. So, they had to change the tire and that meant that all of our 27 carts had to wait until they got fixed. In the meantime the last of those merchants went past and went out. Well he...while they were repairing that tire, it suddenly started to pour with rain, and it rained and rained and rained and rained. And so...rained for a good half hour. And then it suddenly stopped. And so I said, "Oh, good. Now we can go. We don't know whether we'll make Taihu tonight, but at least we can go." So we started and we got out to this little city gate...town gate and you had to go over...they had a stone entra...entrance thing and then the gates closed over and you had to lift these things over. Every one of these carts had to be lifted over. Of course, we got off our carts and lifted them over and they got out.... We got not more than just a few yards outside of that little village when I called out to the others, "Look! This is perfectly dry. There is not one drop of rain here. If we had only been ten minutes earlier, we would have been able to get out and not be caught by that rain." Well, we went along and it was still early in the morning and there weren't any farmers who were.... They had...they would put out tables under a tre...under a...if they wanted to serve a meal, they'd put tables out under trees and serve meals to passers-by, if...if they wanted to. So we had to hunt for a place where there were tables. And about 7 o'clock in the morning we saw some tables that were ahead and we thought, "Oh, good! Now we can stop and get some breakfast." When we got there.... Now the man who was pulling me (I happened to be the lightest in weight and so I was the one that he pulled! [laughs]) And so he went over and a man came up to him and whispered something in his ear and then he quickly called the other men who pulled carts and said something to them and 5 or 6 of them went that direction and 7 or 8 went here and then he led a group that were 6 or 7 of us and before that whenever we had come to any bumps in the road they'd go very slowly so that they wouldn't have a flat tire or something, so.... But here, without any hesitation, they ran...they pulled those...and we went...and we were being just thrown up into the air and landing and you know, oh! Just didn't matter. He went just lickety-cut[sic]. For a whole hour he ran. And then we came to another place where there were trees and there were tables and then to my amazement, that group that had left that came back on that way, they came in. And then just a minute later, these people came in, and our 27 carts all got there. And then I went to the man who had pulled me, the head man, and I said, "Now would you please explain, why this?" He said, "Those merchants who were just ahead of us had stopped there at that first place. The bandits had attacked them and were holding them right for ransom in that farm house. They had stolen all the merchandise that they had bought. And one of the farmers had come out and told me and so we escaped."
ELLIOTT: And so if we had been 10 minutes early, with them, without that rain, we would have been caught too.
SHUSTER: The farmer must have risked his life to warn you.
ELLIOTT: To...to warn us, yes. But the Lord sent that rain to protect us and delay us.
SHUSTER: I think that might be a good point for us to stop today.
ELLIOTT: All right.
END OF TAPE