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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the eight oral history interview of Miss Eleanor Ruth Elliott (CN 187, #T8) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded have 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 Robert Shuster and Kerry Cox and was completed May, 1990.
Collection 187, #T8. Interview of Ruth Elliott by Robert Shuster, November 30, 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 the thirtieth at one o'clock a...one o'clock p.m. Miss Elliott, when you returned to the United States after your years in China, you, of course, probably were unsure whether you would be a missionary again or not. How did Christia.... How did China Inland Mission become the Overseas Missionary Fellowship?
ELLIOTT: Well, at first, when we went to Hong Kong.... The mission headquarters had moved from Shanghai to Hong Kong. And when we evacuated the school and got to Hong Kong, I talked with one of the directors and he said, "Well, at least we could work in...in Taiwan." And so he asked me if I'd be willing to go to...and work in Taiwan and I said, "Yes, I'd be glad to." But I hadn't been well for the last couple of months up in Kuling. The strain of being under the Communists and, and all of the....
ELLIOTT: Yes. I had had to do a lot of resting and then just after I'd talked with...with the director, I walked back to the center where we were living in...in Hong Ko...in Kowloon and there was a terrific thunderstorm and although I had a...an umbrella, but (and I was wearing boots) but it...it just dripped right down into my boots, and so my feet all got wet. And then I had to quickly...well I changed, and, and then walked just from the tent where we were staying [change in quality of the sound] [to] the dining hall where I was teaching the children and I got wet again. And so I had to sit there with wet...and I got pneumonia. And then the doctor said that it seemed to.... [heavy static on the tape] ...impromptu little tent for hospitalization, and I was there for weeks. And so then the doctor said, "No, you oughtn't to go to...to Taiwan now. You've got to go home." And so when I came home....
SHUSTER: That was in...?
ELLIOTT: ...then I didn't know whether I was going to stay on as a missionary or not.
SHUSTER: That was in 1951 that you...
SHUSTER: ...went home?
ELLIOTT: Uh-huh. And then I went down.... My sister [Frances Elliott Wright] was living in Charleston, South Carolina and she was a teacher. She had been teaching in a Christian school. But then she felt that because her children still were in college and she was trying to help them through after the death of her husband and so she got...got a position teaching in the public school (paid more). And so I applied and got a teaching position, too, in the public school. And...
SHUSTER: Meanwhile, what was happening with the...the mission?
ELLIOTT: Well, after they had gathered there and all the missionaries had left China and all the leaders decided that they would meet together in England where Hudson Taylor had started the work and they...they asked everybody to pray very, very cl...definitely for the Lord's clear guidance about what the future would be for the mission. And so they had the leaders from Australia, New Zealand, from...from the United States and Canada and England and then all of the associate missions of Scandinavia and Germany and Switzerland all gathered and...
SHUSTER: Where in England did they meet? Do you...?
ELLIOTT: They...they met at the same place where Hudson Taylor had prayed on the beach. Uh, it begins with `b.' [Bournemouth]
SHUSTER: Bristol or...? I don't know.
ELLIOTT: Bristol? I've forgotten now. But anyway it was on that...and they particularly, they...they fasted I believe for two days or three days while they...and then everybody was praying and then they...they were asking the Lord's lead...leading and then when...after they had prayed together, then they said, "All right, let's...what do you feel is the Lord's guidance? What do you feel?" And it just seemed as though everybody had the same idea that we should be a mission to work among particularly the Chinese in the southern part of Asia and then they felt that Singapore should be the headquarters and that anyplace where there were Chinese they would seek first to go to the Chinese. Later, they felt that not only should they go to the Chinese but to all Orientals and to all...anyplace where there was a need to hear the word of God. And so then they said, "Well, since we're not in China any longer and we're not the China In...we won't be the China Inland Mission" so they changed it to the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. And so as soon as I heard...
SHUSTER: How soon did you hear? How...when did they contact you again?
ELLIOTT: I think it was the early spring of '52. And so then I prayed about it and I felt that I should re-apply to the mission because while I'd been at home, I...I felt fine and I was feeling really very well again. And so I re-applied and was accepted and told to go to the Philippines.
SHUSTER: Was...what was involved in re-applying, just sending a letter saying you were available again or was it...?
ELLIOTT: Yes, but they...they said, too, that they especially wanted me to have a thorough physical exam sent to them by my doctor which I did. And he...he gave me a good okay [laughs] and so...
SHUSTER: How...was there any particular reason that they assigned you to the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: Well, they had received a letter from a school in Manila asking for teachers. And they had written to different countries in Southeast Asia asking if there were any special needs. And so they had received this letter and the Grace Christian in Manila was in need of teachers and it was a fairly new school and it was supposed to be for both Filipinos and Chinese. It happened to be largely Chinese.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: Well, it happened that a good many of the Chinese who...who live in the Philippines had become very wealthy because the Chinese work very, very hard and the Filipinos are just taking things quite casually as a rule and the Chinese are hard workers. And so because they were hard workers and they would work long hours, and...and do extra things for people, they were the ones who were making the money. And so at first they would be....
SHUSTER: And so most of the Filipinos could not afford to go to this school?
ELLIOTT: Right. They couldn't afford to go to it. But it was started as a Christian school. And so when I got there they asked me. My experience had been mostly with the lower grades and so I taught Bible and English and music in the lower school and had a sort of a.... And then I was asked to have a junior high choir and then I also taught the girls' phys. ed., junior high phys. ed.
SHUSTER: You had quite a bit to do.
ELLIOTT: [laughs] I enjoyed it, though. And...but it was really...to me, I could hardly believe that these were Chinese people who were coming and driving, I mean, in cars that were driven with drivers. I don't know whether I've told this incident, but there was a... I was.... One morning I wa...I had second grade Bible, I believe it was, for my first class and a little second grader had just come in and a man followed him up just a minute later and handed him his books and things that he had forgotten and I noticed that he didn't say, "Thank you". And so I said to him, "Why, don't you say `thank you' to somebody who does something kind for you when you've forgotten?" He said, "Why should I say any `thank you' to my driver?" And I said, "Your driver?" And he said, "Yes. He drives my car." And he said, "But Miss Elliott, I think it is terribly unfair." I said, "What's unfair?" He said, "My daddy has a Chevrolet" I mean "My daddy has a Cadillac and his driver." (There in the Philippines they don't use the word `chauffeur.' They use `driver.') "And my mother has a Cadillac and her driver. And my sister who's a freshman here in high school has a Cadillac and her driver, but I only have a Chevrolet! [Makes crying sounds] It isn't fair!" And I said to him, "Well, if she comes, why don't you drive with her, if she comes right here to the school." He said, "But Miss Elliott, she has to be here fifteen minutes earlier than I." So he had to have his own car. So it was people like that who were living in, really, the lap of luxury.
SHUSTER: And it was a little different, I guess, from the schools you taught at in China.
ELLIOTT: Oh, so very, very different! But, of course, most...well, my...my teaching of school was the teaching the children of missionaries.
SHUSTER: Oh, so you....
ELLIOTT: ...in China.
SHUSTER: Right, right.
ELLIOTT: So, I wa...I actually taught children to read when I was working with the Chinese, but not actually in a school. We just had...it was...we'd have classes but we would be at the church and...but it wasn't a regular school. It was just to help them to learn to read the Bible.
SHUSTER: How long were you at Grace School?
ELLIOTT: Well, I was there just one year, but the humidity and the very high temperatures in Manila were...I...I just reacted very, very adversely to that and also the fact.... Mr. and Mrs. Spohr, who had started the work were leaving to go on furlough and there was a young couple who had just come. They had been missionaries in China for about three years and then had to leave and so then they came over to the Philippines and so they were asked (Mr. and Mrs. William Simons) were asked to take over from the Spohrs and, and so they said, "Ruth, we haven't had any teaching experience and so will you please help us?" And so I said, "Yes, I'd be glad to." Well, it meant that I had classes...I only had classes from about seven fifteen in the morning until about twelve thirty, but then there were...there were a couple [Raymond and Helen Frame] who lived right near the school who were of our mission. They had just arrived, too, and they had two children, and they asked me if I would tutor them in American history and...and then the different things that were not being taught in the Philippines that would...they would need to have because.... They used the metric system and all that and they would have to know the American mileage and also fractions and thing that weren't being emphasized. So I...I tutored them. But everybody in the Philippines gets up early, but they always have a siesta and every...all the stores close and everybody has a siesta after...after lunch. And so I told the Frames, "Well, I'm sorry, but I've got...I've got to have a siesta if I'm going to tutor your children." So they said, "That's all right." But I only had a half hour siesta and then I'd get up and tutor them and then I would go and be with the Simons, because they would say, "We have this problem, we have that problem." And so by the time I would get home...well, it took me almost an hour by bus to get from where we had the mission home.... They'd just newly opened the mission home. There was a young couple from England who were there. They were the first ones. And they were in charge of the mission home. And so I...it took about an hour for me to get home again by bus. Well, it meant that we had breakfast by six o'clock in the morning and I would have to leave by, well, at the very latest twenty minutes to seven. Well, a quarter to seven at the very very last minute. And I might even be a little bit late. At first I didn't have to be at school until 7:30. Then later they asked me to take on a little bit more, so I had to be there by 7:15.
SHUSTER: So you really had a heavy...heavy load of...of activities?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then...then you see, I would have to prepare my lessons for the next day, correct all my papers. And so I didn't get to bed before 11:00. And then I'd have to get up at 5:00, because we had breakfast at 6:00. And so I began to...I remember one morning when I got up I suddenly felt terribly dizzy and had to grab some furniture and...and I wondered.... I didn't know what was wrong. And, oh, I don't know, by the end of the school year I was sitting at the breakfast table (by that time there were a lot more missionaries there at the mission home) and a girl who was sitting next to me...I...said...(she told me afterwards) she said that I suddenly just fell over on top of her...
ELLIOTT: ...while I was just sitting there at the breakfast table. And I didn't know what...I didn't know anything about it. I just completely passed out. And so then one of the girls there was nurse and she just took my pulse and she said, "Get her to the hospital at once!" And so I had to go to the hospital and the doctor said I had heart trouble and the climate was just absolutely too...too adverse for me. He said, "If you want to stay in the Philippines, you will have to be up in the mountains."
SHUSTER: And that's when you went to...
ELLIOTT: To Tagaytay.
SHUSTER: ...to Tagaytay City.
ELLIOTT: Yes. Well, it was just at the end of the school year.
SHUSTER: That was in '53.
ELLIOTT: Yes. And so during the summer another mission and our mission (and I'm not quite sure how many missions)...but wanted to have a school...to start a school up in Tagaytay. So we were given the...the golf club there. The Manila golf club wasn't being used because of the trouble. There had been a lot of trouble in national...to get the republic of the Philippines established and there were some troops that were against the government troops and (they called them the guerrillas) and they were hiding in the mountains. Well, we didn't realize that where they were hiding in the mountains was right near the golf club.
SHUSTER: I take it then that Tagaytay is fairly near Manila.
ELLIOTT: It's forty miles south but it's up on a...it's a...it's a mountain ridge and so...
SHUSTER: So you would be....
ELLIOTT: ...it's about two thousand feet up and so it was much, much cooler.
SHUSTER: So you would be once again teaching missionary kids?
SHUSTER: Just out of curiosity, you say the Simons had not had any experience before in education.
ELLIOTT: Well, I don't know whether they had actually done any teaching before they went to China as missionaries. But they were very willing and...and very capable, very able and so they had first been helping. I think they had been helping for a year with...
SHUSTER: How, with...?
ELLIOTT: with the Spohrs, before the Spohrs went home on furlough.
SHUSTER: But they needed a married couple to run the school, was that why they put them...?
ELLIOTT: Well, there were...there were so few teachers and so they...and they were willing and capable. So he had been sort of business manager for the school when...when they first came.
SHUSTER: How large was the staff of the grade School?
ELLIOTT: Well, they had some Filipino and some Chinese teachers as well. I would...I really don't remember exactly how many but I know that the...the principal was a Filipino lady and they had quite a...a good sized faculty. I would say fifteen, seventeen, something like that, at least.
SHUSTER: Now what was the relationship between the principal and the Spohrs, then? Were they...?
ELLIOTT: Well, it was really mostly the management, because they had actually started it. And financially they wanted to be sure that everything was...was running well and...and that there weren't any difficulties between teachers and things like that. But it wasn't...so they weren't actually teaching and it was....
SHUSTER: They were just in charge of the overall administration.
ELLIOTT: Right. Although the...they had a principal of the high school and a principal of the grade school. And...and they were good too. They were very capable and very nice.
SHUSTER: How many students were there?
ELLIOTT: I would...I'm not quite sure. At that time I think there were between two and three hundred. I...I know that later it grew bigger and now they's moved into Quezon City and have a new big building and everything is very beautiful. And it's being...and I think it's grown to well over five hundred. I'm sure of that. So....
SHUSTER: Now you were at Tauqua...Takay City [makes a phonetic approximation]?
SHUSTER: Tagaytay City for the rest of your time in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: Yes, but at the...we were at this...I would...let's see, it must have been the eastern end of Tagaytay, the ridge of Tagaytay. It was what formerly had been a volcano and a.... But it was forty miles across to the other side of the volcano and there was a lake in the middle and then there were islands in the middle. One big island and two small islands. And the big island had a lake inside of it. It was a volcano too, in the middle of the lake. And there was a lake within a lake. One of the very few places in the world where that is. When I flew across one time I saw...I looked down and I saw the lake. From the side, you can't see it. From the ridge you can't see the lake inside. But we...while we were there, after we had had the school for quite a few months, our...our serving girls used to go down to Manila by bus and they said, "You know that the...these guerrillas attacked our bus and took everything, took our purses, took everything that was on us, and took everything that was on the bus." Everybody that had gone to Manila to buy things....
SHUSTER: You mean they stopped the bus and came on and took it?
ELLIOTT: Uh huh. And you see, they had...we had given them orders to buy supplies, food supplies. And so they were bringing boxes of food supplies back and the guerrillas had taken them all. So we weren't too happy about that, but we thought, "Well, that was about halfway between Manila and Tagaytay and so we can't, you know, do anything very much about that." But, only a few weeks later, we woke up one morning hearing shots being fired and...and it was so close. So we...we said to the children, "Nobody go out. Nobody go out. Everybody stay in. And lie low." And when they got really quite close, we said, "Get under the beds." And so...and then it was...and then things calmed down and we said, "Well, all right, we've...." And so I got up and went...went down to the dining hall and to my horror there a man who had been shot just outside the dining hall. And then the captain of the army...of the Philippine army was up there fighting. He said that they were fighting the guerrillas. He said, "I honestly think that it not safe for you to have the children here, because..."
SHUSTER: Did..had the guerrillas attacked the school or had it happened...did the school just happened to be in the middle?
ELLIOTT: It just happened to be in the middle. They hadn't attacked the school but they had come down from the mountain area just a little bit further east. And the...evidently the government troops knew that they were going to come and make an attack and come down. They were really going to try to ultimately take Manila, but.... So they were going to fight before they got down off the ridge, if possible. And so that was why the fighting took place there. Well, with all this thing, we said, "No, we're not going to be responsible for the children here." So we at once, that very day, we disbanded the school and we took the children in groups and took them back down to Manila and got them back down to their parents. There wasn't anything else that we could do. But our mission knew that if they wanted me to be the teacher, I had to be up in the mountains. Well, we looked up in Baguio, in north part of Luzon, which is beautiful. But there were no suitable places for a school there that we could find that was within financial reason. Everything was so expensive because the...the plush place to go for summer vacation and.... Oh, it's beautiful. But then, just...we were praying about what to do and Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart, John and Jean Lockhart, had come to be house parents there and so they were there and so John was on a...a bus and he was going to go back down to Manila to discuss with the leaders what to do about the school and the bus went along the ridge of Tagaytay before it went south...or went (not south) but went back to Manila. And as he was going along he saw a large house at the far end of Tagaytay, away from the mountainous end where we had been before and the...the we...west end of Tagaytay. He saw a big house. They were working on it. So he got off the bus and went over and talked with the people there and asked who was in charge and then talked with them and said, "What are you doing, what are you planning to use this house for?" And they said, "Well, during the war with the...Japan, this had been the rest area for the American soldiers." And it was a big three story building and then they said, "The...the fellows wanted a big place to play and have ping pong and all kinds of room for all kinds of games and things, so they had built a large area on at the side." And...but it was with...just with a cement floor. The others had nice wooden floors. And it was up about two steps, up from the...to this side area. And that also was the dining hall. And the kitchen was over in that area too. And so he said, "Well, are you...who are you doing this for?" And they said, "We're going to rent it." And he said, You are!" He said, "We're interested. But I'll.... I'm just going down to Manila right now and I'll discuss it. But please, don't discuss it with anybody else." And so, he went down to Manila and they said, "Why that's great. It's at the far end, away from where the guerrillas are." And the Far East Gospel Crusade had a home just about a half mi...oh, a block from there where they had their young missionaries taking their language...for their language study. It was their language study home. And also on the other side of that building there was a big hotel that was very nice, very plush hotel. And so we thought, "Well, this...." And he...he talked with those Christ and...Gospel Crusade people and they said, "Oh, this is fine. We haven't had any trouble here at all."
SHUSTER: So that is where you had the school then until '56?
SHUSTER: Or until you left in '56.
ELLIOTT: Right. Yes.
SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with the church in the Philippines. With the Filipino church?
ELLIOTT: Not a great deal.
SHUSTER: Most of your time was spent teaching...
SHUSTER: ...the missionary kids.
ELLIOTT: Right. I...I would.... When I had the opportunity, I would visit but most of it was in Tagalog and I didn't know Tagalog and it wasn't necessary for me to learn it. Now the missionaries who go there are required to learn Tagalog but I...I didn't because my work was all in English.
SHUSTER: Were you able to form any impressions of the church in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: Well, my...my general impression was that it wasn't easy for them with.... There had been a great deal of Catholic influence because of the Spaniards being there for three hundred years and...before the Spanish American War  made the Philippines become United States property, as it were. And...and then, you see, they had just become independent in 1946, I believe it was, that they became an independent country. But in those years the United States had sent American teachers and what the reason was that they didn't have any national language and....
SHUSTER: The reason for what?
ELLIOTT: For having...decid...they just decided, "Well, we'll have to have English as the national language, so we can go all from one and people can go from one island to another and be able to be understood. And then there can be some unification of the islands." Before, it had been very much a divisive thing. And.... "You speak your dialect and I'll speak mine and we have nothing to do with each other." And so they wanted the Philippines unified.
SHUSTER: Who did?
ELLIOTT: The Americans. And so during those years they had brought American teachers out and they had taught English all over the islands, so that most of the people had learned to speak English and that had become more or less the national language. Later, when they voted, they said that they wanted one of their languages to be the national language.
SHUSTER: When they voted for independence?
ELLIOTT: After they had independence. It was quite a few years after they had independence before they decided to vote. But the...Manila was the place where there were six of seven at least universities and very few universities other places. And so because there were so many students who had come from all over the Philippines there and they were using Tagalog. So they said, "Let's all vote that Tagalog is to be the national language." But it was really only spoken in the Manila area, it wasn't spoken further. But people had come from all over. They said, "Well, we've come from all over. We've learned to speak Tagalog. So let's make it the national language." So because they voted and the people who lived out in the other areas didn't know about voting and didn't know the value of voting. Although they were informed in the newspapers and told that they should vote, they said, "What difference does it make? We don't make decisions. People higher up make decisions." And so the students all went and voted and that's how Tagalog became the national language.
SHUSTER: Did...who seemed to make up the church in the Philippines? Were they mostly poor or middle class or was it a combination of...?
ELLIOTT: Well, I think that it was a....there were...the wealthy Chinese, a lot of them were...became earnest Christians and they were very generous and....
SHUSTER: They became Christians after they reached the Philippines or they...?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And then there were second generation Chinese who grew up in the...in churches and they...they became.... There were some very fine Chinese Christian churches, very good churches. And so they were the ones I usually went to, if I went to a Chinese church. But then they had some other churches too, but because at that time there wasn't any uniform language, if I visited, I...I couldn't understand unless it were in English and they might have a little part of the service in English but most of it wasn't. And so I didn't really...I don't think that I was able to make an evaluation. But the thing that I was very thrilled about was that the OMF, the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, felt that the Lord wanted the missionaries to go to open new areas where no other missionaries had ever been before. And the island of Mindoro was one of those. That's the island south of Luzon. And that was a...an island that was covered with little tribes, different tribal people who spoke different languages. But they felt called of the Lord to...to open work in the island of Mindoro. So...so there was a girl named Marie Barnham who felt called to work among a tribe called the Buhid tribe and she didn't know how she was going to get in touch with them, she didn't know where exactly they lived. But there was a fine Chinese Christian man who owned property just near the...the port of Bongabong and so he invited the...the OMF to send a missionary there because he said, "There are tribal people who come and go across my property to go into Bongabong to take...." They...they knew that if they brought down vines from the mountains, that they were being used for weaving and the...things that the Philippines were famous for, their hand things. And so they wanted the vines that these men would bring down. And...tribal people. He...and he said, "I think they're called Buhid," but he wasn't quite sure. But anyway, she said, "Whoever they are, I want to try to...to get in touch with them." Well, on one of my vacations, I went down to visit Marie and just at that time the Gospel Recordings had come and they had gotten a man who knew Buhid and by.... They had a person who knew English and could speak Tagalog. This man knew Tagalog and Buhid. And so through that he had been able to make a...a record (two sides of one record) of the Gospel, by the Gospel Recordings and so Marie had this record and a little handwind phonograph. And so she was living in a little house on the...sort of on what he said was the trail that they usually came in to come across his property and he had built this house there for any missionary that the mission wanted to send. And so she...she went. And when I came down, I visited her. And she said, "Oh Ruth, there's a group coming!" Said, "This is the first time I have seen a group coming down from the mountains that are coming here." And both men and women came and there were probably twenty, twenty-five of them. And of course, she couldn't speak Buhid and they couldn't speak any other language. But anyway, she...she had put out a table and some benches under the trees and she went out and bowed to them and urged them to sit down and...and take a rest. And then she had some cool drinks, because they always like something cool to drink. And...and so she served them and she had some cookies, I think. And they had never tasted them before, but when they tasted them, oh the children especially just loved them. And so we had fun and then she got this record out and we wound up the phonograph and played it. And when they started and heard it, you could just see them. They put their hands to their heads and said, "Hey!" We knew they were saying, " He's talking Buhid! He's talking Buhid! Why, he's saying something. We can understand it." And so then we...we played the record over and then we turned the record over and...and played it...played that side of it. And they were so entranced. And then a man got up and he sa...and we knew that he said, "Where's the man who's saying this?" And he...he got up and he looked under.... We had it on a little table. He looked under the table and he went all around and he walked all around and he went like this, "I don't know where that man is." You knew he was saying that. But then they'd every time, as soon as the record finished, they'd say...you knew they were saying, "Play it again, play it again." So we'd...do you know that all day long.... Now the other...the men who...who were carrying the loads of the...the vines went on into Bongabong and all the rest stayed there and we had them all day and it was just lovely. And that was the very first contact with the Buhid.
SHUSTER: How did it develop...how did the contact develop after that?
ELLIOTT: Well, after a while, then they came and they invited her to come with them. Well,....
SHUSTER: Come with them where?
ELLIOTT: Up to their...into the mountains. She didn't know where she was going to go. And it...kind of scary business. But she was by....
SHUSTER: By that time she had learned enough of their language to...?
ELLIOTT: Well, the only language...the only way she had to learn was from this one record and....
SHUSTER: So how could they invite her?
SHUSTER: Sign language.
ELLIOTT: So she went along. But she was also trying to learn to talk to them, but they were willing to help her and repeat things. So then she...she was...and she had a pencil and paper and was writing down everything that she could and she also tried to isolate words that were repeated. She had it in English and Tagalong and Buhid, that record. And so she tried to get it from that. Well, now I keep getting letters from the missionaries.... Now, Marie died just after...well, I think that it was just a year or so after I came home, I think it was about '58, somewhere along in there. I can't remember exactly. But she suddenly had a heart attack and died. But now Bob and Joy Hanselman are there. And the Lord has so wonderfully blessed. I don't know how many Buhid churches there are now, but there are quite a few.
SHUSTER: How do you spell "Buhid" ?
ELLIOTT: It's B-U-H-I-D. But that "h" is pronounced a little bit like a 'k". You can't say it "bukid" but it's Buhid, Buhid. And that "h" has that [makes HS sound] in it.
SHUSTER: Were there barriers that you saw to the spread of the Gospel in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: Yes. You know Satan always tries to.... Now, the first...the first Buhid people who act...who were really receptive....
SHUSTER: Not just the Buhid, but in general, I mean, too.
ELLIOTT: Well, I was just going to say that they had one man who said that he was the spirit leader and that.... He didn't say Satan but we know that it was Satan...was telling him that that would be...he would lose his prestigious place if these missionaries came in and told them about God and about Jesus Christ. And every time the name of Jesus was mentioned, he became infuriated. And he was...he predicted all kind of dire consequences if they didn't accept him, continue to have him as their spiritual leader. But he also was making them worship.... I...I really don't know all of the ins and outs of.... But it was very definitely Satan worship.. Then they found that almost every tribe that they worked with in Mindoro had these men and they still do. Now among the Iraya tribe (Hazel Page is working among the Iraya tribe) and....
SHUSTER: How is that spelled? Iraya?
ELLIOTT: I-R-A-Y-A. They...they wanted to,...they have about, oh, I don't know, about five or six churches among the Iraya now, but they wanted to go to the western part. And there was one of those leaders who stood up and he said, "No sir. We continue our worship." And it's...it's almost idol worship but they don't have.... But it's...it's Satan worship. It's a horrible worship. It's a fearful.... He predicts all sorts of dire calamities if they don't honor him. And I don't exactly...I don't know enough, really, about how he gains his power, but it is very definitely the power of Satan.
SHUSTER: What about in the cities like Manila? Are there barriers to spreading the Gospel?
ELLIOTT: I think largely those are...have been overcome. I think that they're....
SHUSTER: What about social or economic or religious barriers?
ELLIOTT: Well, at first the Catholics weren't too receptive to Protestant missionaries but....
SHUSTER: Why was that?
ELLIOTT: I think that they felt a little bit challenged as if their authority, which they had had undisputed, was being challenged. But I think that now most Filipinos have had.... You know, a lot of people have come to America and then come back, come for schooling or come back. And they have seen that there is in America freedom of religion. And so they felt that that was a good thing and so it has been adopted in the Philippines. Freedom of religion.
SHUSTER: What is the...? You said you went to some Filipino services, church services. Did the format differ markedly than the format of a church service in the United States?
ELLIOTT: The ones that I visited, not greatly. Their singing sometimes was quite different, because they might without any accompaniment...
ELLIOTT: ...sing sort of a...almost a...an oriental very minor music....
SHUSTER: In minor key?
ELLIOTT: Yes, because of course all oriental music that I know is only a five note scale so it has to be very minor. Most of theirs. And they would have...sometimes they would have one person who would sing a little bit and then they would all join in with a little...just sort of a little answer. They would repeat that same.... He would change and then they would repeat the same little answer. So that it would be a sort of a chant kind of a thing. But usually they read the Bible and preached the Bible and very often they would give an invitation and sometimes people would be saved right then. And it was really lovely. But it would have meant then...they would have...it wasn't a thing that was...would be unexpected because they would have visited in their homes over and over and over before they would ever make a decision publicly.
SHUSTER: Who would have visited?
ELLIOTT: The church members. The church members all were urged to feel that they were responsible, not just the pastors, not just the church leaders, but everybody. And they really were pretty good about that, about calling. And that was the nice thing that I thought about later, that...from the letters that I have been getting in Mindoro. That's the thing that they have done. They have called themselves on their own relatives and their own family and so that is the way that the word has spread. God has used families to...to give the Gospel to other members of the family and through that churches have been established. Their family relationships among the tribes are very close and it's.... Very often...it is one family with all the ramifications of that family that makes the tribe. And that's why they speak the same language. And then just, oh, not very many miles away is another whole different group that they're all related, you know. Of course, it's generations and generations. So...but that's what makes their language that same language. It's just because they are one family.
SHUSTER: Did the methods of the OMF in the Philippines differ much from the methods that you were familiar with, of the CIM in China?
ELLIOTT: No, I don't think so because the China Inland Mission was formed to reach the unreached for the Lord. And so when we went to the Philippines, it was with the idea that it would be to reach the unreached. And since no missionaries had been working in Mindoro, that was the first place. Now, they have also started work down in Mindanao, the very most southern island. And there are a few other missions who are working down there, too. But it's because they have so many tribes there that have never been reached and so they're seeking to reach the unreached tribes. But there again.... Now, there was about two years ago, I believe, there was a man who was injured by one of these leaders. You know, he really was demon possessed, I'm sure. But he used a knife and injured a man missionary, and then in another place, one of those men injured one of the girls, a young girl missionary. And so, it hasn't been without cost.
SHUSTER: Is there...did you experience any kind of anti-Western feeling while you were in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: No, I didn't because I was working with the Chinese who were very glad for...that was one reason that they liked assignments, because they had been in China. And because I had been in China, the Chinese welcomed me. And there were some who...who spoke Mandarin (the Chinese national language) and they were glad that I could speak it. And so, that...that was a bond.
SHUSTER: Did you hear from any of your co-workers who were working with the Filipinos of any anti-Western feeling?
ELLIOTT: [pauses] I think that there were sometimes when there were places where there were...they weren't received warmly. Yes, that is true. And so it couldn't.... You...you expect a certain amount. You just know that there's not going to be open, warm-hearted reception every time you go to a new place. So there would be some...even some of the city leaders would say, "No, we don't want missionaries here."
SHUSTER: And why would that be?
ELLIOTT: Well, they had just heard that they changed people's...people's customs. They were...and they said, "We like our old customs. We like our old family way. We like our own way of doing things. We don't want any changes at all." And although they didn't use idols as such, as a rule, yet there was a great deal of fear. Their whole...their whole... [pauses] if you call it religion, was a religion of fear. "You do this or you'll get this!" you know. "You must do this and this and this and this and this or terrible things will happen!" Things like that.
SHUSTER: What was the relationship between the Chinese and the Filipinos?
ELLIOTT: Well, the Filipinos.... In most cases they...they are, I think, in a sense you could call them indolent. And since the Chinese were such hard workers, they just sort of said, "Well, let them go to it." You know, like that. And they...they washed their hands of it, you know. They said, "Well, we like our...our slow way. If they want to work their heads off, let them go to it. We're not going to. We're gonna take it easy." And so they lived very simply. You know, they make...all their houses have to be built up high on stilts, and they all...it's all woven floors with a usually bamboo or some other thing like that that's tough, but...but they always weaved them with holes left in the...so that all they have to do is just barely sweep a little bit and it just falls down underneath. But the reason is that it...there are snakes and things that make it very unsafe for them to be on the ground. So they have no houses that are on the ground. You always have to climb up into their homes, and then they have thatched roofs and then if anything like a big hurricane or...or a tidal wave or anything comes, well, they can just build another one, you know. It doesn't bother. They sort of...they take it very.... They don't have a lot of furniture and...and (these are the country people I'm talking about) but they're the by-and-large the large number of the Filipinos. Now, there were Filipinos who lived in the city who were very precise and had beautiful homes and...and did...and worked hard, too. But they were the exception, not the rule.
SHUSTER: Had any part of the mission's work been nationalized while you were in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: [pauses] Except for Cath...Catholicism, I don't think so.
SHUSTER: I mean as far as the CIM's mission work.
ELLIOTT: Oh, no. Oh, you mean that...that the nationalists took over the work?
SHUSTER: Or handed on to the national Christian's.
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes. Down in Mindoro almost every tribal area now is completely under the leadership of the local people.
SHUSTER: Was that true while you were there in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: No, because they were just beginning, you see, because, my...when I visited there with Marie, that was the very first contact she had had with the Buhid...that anybody had had with the Buhid.
SHUSTER: So you didn't actually see the transition between missionary control and national control while you were...
SHUSTER: ...in the Philippines.
SHUSTER: That came after.
ELLIOTT: Yes, it did. But it is very much the case now. Did you know that the Iraya churches got together and said, "We...we want to send missionaries." And there are in southern Luzon, in the [?] area, there are Negritos. They are little dwarf blacks.
SHUSTER: How is that spelled, Negrito?
ELLIOTT: N-E-G-R-I-T-O. And the Negritos were being treated almost by...like slaves by the Filipinos, and...and weren't allowed to have any land and were just driven from place to place and made to work and just barely given enough to live on, but not allowed to live there. And so it's just been in the last few months that the Philippine government has allocated a certain amount of land for the Negritos. And so the Iraya churches had sent two young men as missionaries and they paid...the Iraya churches paid for them to go to work among the Negritos. And through them, at first, they were so thrilled that there were...there was a response. And then they...they explained the way of salvation fully and said that...wanted them to be baptized. So there were two who were baptized and then later ten more were baptized. And they were so happy and they said, "Oh my, we...." But then the people who were in that...on the land there, drove them off. Said you couldn't stay there any longer. And so they came back up and they said, "Oh, please pray for us, because we don't know what to do. We want to start a church but there isn't any place that is the Negritos' place." Well, now the Philippine government has allocated this land. But I just got a letter this week which said that...asked particular prayer, because a particular denomination has said, "We are claiming the Negrito land for our mission field and nobody else is to come in." Well, the Negritos [Irayas] had been working there for a couple of years and...but you see, because they're not foreign, they...this...this church has said, "That's nothing." So they asked, "Please pray for the...these Iraya missionaries because they want to go back and they have a church almost ready to be formed and these people are...would be glad to build a little building first and have..., you know, and then gradually with their.... Because they work, these work hard, those little Negritos.
SHUSTER: Well, what denomination wants to...?
ELLIOTT: I'm not privileged to say.
SHUSTER: Okay, fine. What in general is the (when you were in the Philippines) was the government policy toward missions and missionary work?
ELLIOTT: I think by and large they were quite acceptable. They didn't make it too hard. There were occasionally.... One local leader in a certain province might not encourage missionary work, but as a rule they were all right and they...they accept them.
SHUSTER: Were they neutral or actively supporting or...?
ELLIOTT: Neutral. They...I don't think that they...I didn't ever hear of any who act...actively supported missionaries who came in. They did support medical missionaries. The man who was the doctor in the hospital where I first went later then went north to an area and he was welcomed and he...their mission built a hospital there...but because he was a medical doctor, they welcomed him.
SHUSTER: When you say they supported medical missions, how do you mean? With finances or....
ELLIOTT: No, not...not finances but I mean at least the local people...the local leaders were glad to have a hospital in that area because they had realized that there was a need for medical help which they weren't able to get.
SHUSTER: You mentioned earlier the guerilla warfare between the government troops and.... Who were the guerrillas? What were they fighting for?
ELLIOTT: Well, I am not too sure myself. I think that it was a question of who was going to be the ruling group in the Philippines and if they had come in, they would have been the rulers. If...
SHUSTER: Who...who were they?
ELLIOTT: Well, they were Filipinos. I don't think at that time.... Now since then I have heard that Communism has taken over guerrillas, but at that time I don't believe that it was Communist...Communistic. I'm not positive, though. I heard hints that it might have been, but I'm not really sure whether it was or not.
SHUSTER: So you didn't really know too much about the...about the conflict.
ELLIOTT: No, but I just knew that there were.... They were driven up into the mountains away from the...the local Philippine government and they were not.... They didn't want them at all. So I don't know whether.... I did hear that...that there was Communism involved and then I've heard that repudiated, that they said, "No, it was just a group that wanted to be themselves in charge and wanted these people ousted." So it was division just in the country itself. I don't...I'm not sure which. [laughs]
SHUSTER: Did you have any contact with Moslems in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: I didn't, but I know that now, particularly down in the South.... I don't know. I always call them the Muslims. They...they have come in to quite a...with quite an effective, for them, work among some tribal peoples.
SHUSTER: Who has come in?
SHUSTER: The Muslims are working with the tribes?
SHUSTER: So there's Muslim missionaries, too...
SHUSTER: ...in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: That's what I have understood.
SHUSTER: But you didn't have any personal contact with them?
ELLIOTT: No, I didn't.
SHUSTER: You lived for quite some time in Manila or fairly close to Manila. What were your impressions of that city?
ELLIOTT: Oh, I tell you! The number of...of jeeps and cars and...and the throngs on the streets just.... The traffic was simply awful. And the dangers of being on the streets of Manila! And they didn't have sidewalks. And...oh, when you walked downtown.... I felt every time I walked around the town I had my life in my fingers. [laughs] And just...it was just really...and they...just.... People would...in driving...it didn't matter a bit. I'm going to go around five cars at once and everybody on that side who's coming in the opposite traffic...way has just got to get out of my way. And the number of accidents was, of course, colossal. But they didn't seem to mind. They just kept on. There was just...and it seemed as though traffic was the one thing they felt needed to be fast. And so to me, going shopping in downtown Manila was dang-a-roos.
SHUSTER: What was that?
ELLIOTT: Dangerous! [laughs]
SHUSTER: What were the living conditions like in the city?
ELLIOTT: Well, you either lived in the lap of luxury or very, very definitely, very poor.
SHUSTER: No in-between.
ELLIOTT: Very few...very little in-between. And it was [pauses]...they...you couldn't help but.... They were...they were friendly. The people were friendly and the stores were always friendly. And the...when you went into a store, they would...they would be very friendly and.... But...well now, I read in the paper just before...shortly before I left an article about...written by a man who...who said, "I want to see who will sell me a pair of shoes." And he went into a Filipino store and said he wanted pair of black Oxfords and so they brought him a pair and they look...he said they looked almost exactly what he wanted, but just to try he said, "I'd like to see another pair." So they went and got him another pair. And then he said, "Do you have anything else that's just a little bit different?" and they said, "Nope. Nothing else. That's it." So then he went across the street to a Chinese shoe store and so he asked for a pair of black Oxfords and they brought him a pair and then he kept making an objection about this or that and they'd bring him another pair and another pair and he said, "I bought after I had tried on nineteen pairs of shoes." And he said, "This is why the Chinese are taking over the merchants...the merchandise of Manila." He said, "I proved it." But he said, "That's the way they are in almost everything. They're..."
SHUSTER: Do the Chinese in the Philippines...do they intermarry with the Philippines or were they rather clannish or...?
ELLIOTT: As a rule Chinese don't intermarry. They may...there may be some, but as a rule they don't.
SHUSTER: So they've stayed distinct all this time?
SHUSTER: What was the general school system like in the Philippines?
ELLIOTT: Well, because the Americans had started schools all over the Philippines, then.... Before that, you see, there hadn't been schools, and the people were not being taught. Only a few who were going to be trained as priests or as nuns were...were taught and the others, they just didn't learn anything. They didn't have any written language and they didn't learn to read and write or do math or anything. And so that was the thing that, when America took over, they felt very...was very much needed, was schools. So they started these schools and as a result, then, schools have been carried on ever since and the Philippine government felt that was right, that it was needed. And so they have kept the schools going.
SHUSTER: Did you ever visit any of the public schools?
ELLIOTT: I visited only up in Baguio and it was just interesting to see and...
SHUSTER: What were your impressions of the school?
ELLIOTT: Well, I thought that they were doing quite well and I think that they were...they were using the local language. They were not using English. They said, "We don't know English well enough to be able to speak it clearly." Now they spoke to me. The teachers spoke to me in English. But they said, "We don't use English now because we are not really.... We haven't been trained by English-speaking teachers ourselves, and so because of that we don't dare use it so we're using our own local language." So all over the schools still were carrying on, but they were carrying on in their own various languages. And it might be only sixty miles away it'd be an entirely different language.
SHUSTER: Was the school program compulsory?
ELLIOTT: I think that the government was doing everything they could to make it a compulsory system and making each area responsible to pay for teachers and a school building and equipment. They were...that was one of the things that they did require.
SHUSTER: And how did the various schools that the OMF had in the Philippines fit into the system?
ELLIOTT: Well, the OMF didn't have a school...they didn't start a school system for the Filipinos. They...they felt that God had called them to do missionary work and not schools as such. But, like in the tribes...in the tribal areas, they reduced the language to writing. They didn't have it written. And then they would teach them a...they would teach them to read. And then.... Now, they are translating the Bible into all these various languages. I know...I know three people who are...four people who are translating in different...different tribal languages. And Hazel Page just come home on furlough and she has been translating into Iraya and [the] Hanselmans has been...been translating into Buhid. And so it has to be approved after they've translated it...it has to...they have to have all kinds of tests and everything to have it approved before they can print it. But they've only...they all follow a certain system of translation and translate Mark first and then usually the New Testament...different bi...books of the New Testament are translated first. So they're doing that and...but nobody yet has translated the whole, even of the New Testament. There hasn't been any that I know of that have any complete translation of the New Testament.
SHUSTER: When you were in the Philippines, did you see much after-effect of World War II?
ELLIOTT: Well, I think that because the Japanese had been so cruel to both Filipinos and the Americans who had been in the Philippines at that time and had put them into the University of the Philippines...put all of the Americans and all of the...any...any of the people who weren't Filipinos...had just put them in their and they just literally starved them for so...such a long time that.... The Filipinos are...are a people who...who remember suffering that other people have suffered because they were there. And because of that I think that they were especially kind to those who had been interred by the Japanese and then the people who came afterward they sort of reckoned as second generation as it were, you know. And they were very kind and they have...they have always been very friendly, I think, to those who have come and welcomed them. I haven't known of...except in perhaps a few isolated places where the leaders have said, "No, we don't want any white people." But, as a rule, they have been very friendly.
SHUSTER: Did the economy or the land or the people seem to have suffered permanent damage during the war or...
SHUSTER: ...was it recuperated by the time you came?
ELLIOTT: It had suffered and wasn't entirely recuperated. It was recuperating.
SHUSTER: What was? The country?
ELLIOTT: Yes. The exports were not as much as previously and they were trying to improve their exports. And....
SHUSTER: What did they export?
ELLIOTT: Well, they have...they weave a lot of beautiful cloth and the women do beautiful embroideries. That was one big thing that they hadn't been able to get reestablished too much. And...but they...they export things that are used for furniture, different kinds of...well, some is bamboo but...but other kinds of reeds and things that are used for furniture they export a lot. And then they do have rice and...oh, pineapples, lots and lots of pineapples they export, and other kinds of...of fruits. So they have...they have tried to improve on their economy and I think it has improved and because of that, then, they have been able to build more roads and have a little bit more relationships between people who had been sort of isolated groups, and they're beginning to feel more like a united nation rather than just a small group. So they...I think that they have improved quite a lot.
SHUSTER: Why did you leave the Philippines in '56?
ELLIOTT: Well, I just came home on furlough. Now, while I was teaching there in Tagaytay, I had...the third floor was where I had my school room. There was a large room up there and I had a small bedroom off of it. And...and...but I found the last few months before I came home on furlough that I couldn't make it up to the third floor and I would have to stop. Well, we had a most beauti...a balcony with the most beautiful view of Lake Taal two thousand feet below us and it was almost straight down and it was all just jungle all the way down and I loved birds and so I always had my binoculars and I would be watching the birds and trying to identify the birds there. And so...and I just loved.... So I would just go out there and rest a little while and then I'd go on up and I could make one flight at a time. But...I talked with Jean [Lockhart] and...and...with Jean one day particularly and said that I was really concerned because I wasn't able to make it and I...I knew that my heart was not...was giving me some trouble. So when I came and was in Wheaton in grad school (I'd only been in grad school 'til...it was some time in October. I can't remember exactly when...toward the end of October) I suddenly had a heart attack while I was in chapel and had this terrific pain in my chest and I was so afraid I was gonna fall and I didn't want to fall in front of everybody in chapel. And I was sitti...happened to be sitting on the front row...
SHUSTER: Oh no.
ELLIOTT: ...and so I hung onto the sides of the chair and I just prayed, "Lord, don't let me fall! Don't let me fall!" And the pain then went away and I thought, "Oh, good. Now it's gone away." And then, just about five minutes before the end of chapel, it came back...back again with a WHAMO! and oh! I just had to pray that I wouldn't fall. And so...then I walked right over to the infirmary and Ada Rury was there and she was one that I had been in college with and so I...I had already told her that I was used to having a siesta and so I had gotten a bed assigned to me. Well, this wasn't the time that I usually came there, but anyway, I went down to my bed and...but then just...within about twenty minutes...oh! The pain. And I came back upstairs and to the girl at the desk and she said, "Oh!" She said, "Go in there." And she called one of the nurses and put me in on the couch and...and usually the doctor didn't come until the afternoon. That day he just walked in just then. And so he (I had known him, too) and...
SHUSTER: Was that Wyngarden?
ELLIOTT: Yes. And so he said, "You're having a heart attack and you've got to stay in." So I had to be there for five weeks. And then Doctor [Harold] Adolph was our mission doctor and so he said, "Don't think you can go back to the fi...field." And so it took me a long time to get over it. Then I started teaching Christian schools and loved it.
SHUSTER: I imagine it must have been a disappointment not...
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes. It was. It was a great disappointment. And yet disappointments are His appointments. And...
SHUSTER: And so you've spent since '56 teaching in Philadelphia and in the South.
ELLIOTT: Yes. I was asked to go from the Delaware County Christian School where I was teaching down to Columbia Bible College and...but then...I was only there two years and my sister [Frances Elliott Wright] was alone in Charleston and her...her family had all gone to college and she was there in her house alone and...since her husband had been killed in an accident and it was such a shock to her and everything, well, I felt that I should go and be with her. So then we were there and taught in a public school and then we were asked to start a Christian school in our church, which we did and it's still going on.
SHUSTER: And when did you come up to Lisle?
ELLIOTT: I came up in, let's see, '77. My...I...we came up for a family reunion with my brother and he said that Four Lakes Village had just opened four build...four new buildings with a...with a certain amount of government subsidy so that.... And if anybody would...was a senior citizen...well I just barely.... It was because I had been in a terrible accident and I couldn't teach anymore that I was counted ready to retire. I retired perforce.
SHUSTER: Yes, that's....
ELLIOTT: And so...then I.... He took me over there and I saw those apartments and I loved them and so I signed up for them.
SHUSTER: And of course you've...you are having a very active retirement with your Bible study classes and...
ELLIOTT: Oh, yes.
SHUSTER: ...the other activities you told me about.
ELLIOTT: I love teaching my Chinese Bible class. Oh, that's lovely!
SHUSTER: I want to thank you again, one final time, for all the time you've spent these last few weeks in these interviews. It's been a...a fascinating, fascinating story about how God used one person.
ELLIOTT: Well, I've just been praying that the Lord will use these tapes in a way that will bring honor to Him.
SHUSTER: Thank you again.
END OF TAPE