Billy Graham Center
Collection 272 - Jennie Kingston Fitzwilliam. T3 Transcript
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the third oral history interview of Jennie
Kingston Fitzwilliam (CN 272, T3) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken
words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by
the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few
cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of
having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the
speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations
such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically
replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was
expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a
different rhythm and rule than written English.
Chinese place names are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according
to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing," if that is how
the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which would be understood were
spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration
form to which it corresponds.
... Three dots indicate an 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 parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Alice L. Fitzwilliam (daughter-in-law of Jennie Fitzwilliam), with
some revisions by Robert Shuster and was completed in August 2003.
Collection 272, T3. Interview of Jennie Kingston Fitzwilliam by Paul Ericksen, July 12,
ERICKSEN: ...interview of Jennie Eliza Fitzwilliam by Paul A. Ericksen for the Missionary
Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the offices of the Billy
Graham Center Archives on July 12, 1984 at 2:15 pm. Well, Mrs. Fitzwilliam when we
were...when we finished talking last time, we were talking about J. O. Fraser. You were telling
me a little...a little bit about him. I wonder if you could tell me what kind of a leader he was?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I would [pauses] I would say he was a very good leader and not a very
good leader. He had character...he had very strong convictions. But was very, very [pauses] very
easy to work with. He wasn’t a difficult person, but he had his convictions and he stood up for
them. He made some very...not...unhappy people, I should say maybe, in the CIM [China Inland
Mission] because his...because of his strong stand on the indigenous churches and the way a
missionary should live and that sort of thing. Not everybody went along with his it at that time. I
think it’s the understood policy of missions these days but in Mr. Fraser’s day, that wasn’t
accepted by everybody. The old style missionaries did things differently.
ERICKSEN: Can you think of a particular instance or circumstance where he cut a new path and
the mission didn’t...?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, the mission...it wasn’t that the mission didn’t go along with him. Mr.
[Dixon Edward] Hoste,, as I understood...Mr Hoste who was the hone...general director at that
time, wanted Mr. Fraser to succeed him but Mr. Fraser felt that there were so many people in the
missions that...in the mission that didn’t agree with his strong stand on...on the indigenous
policies of church planting that it just wouldn’t work. So he wouldn’t consider it. And shortly
after that the Lord took him home. And I’ve always felt (maybe this is a thought I shouldn’t even
express) but I always felt that the mission...the Lord’s will and the mission personnel as a whole
because they couldn’t see his policies, missed out on a very wonderful leadership. ‘Cause I think
he would have taken the mission earlier into indigenous policies, which they later adopted
wholeheartedly. But at that time there were a lot of the older missionaries that just didn’t go
along with that. And I know that some of the senior missionaries in the province of Yunnan
didn’t always agree with his strong stand, but all the younger missionaries were 100 percent for
ERICKSEN: So what was it that made him a weak leader?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he...maybe I shouldn’t even say he was a weak leader, but he
made...people upset with him and he probably could have been a little more tactful on this, on
pressing some of his points. But he was a very nice person to work with. I remember when we
were designated...most everybody in the part of Yunnan where we went, the southwest part of
Yunnan, especially in the tribal work, were all Americans, and I remember Mr. Gibb, the General
Director at the time when we were designated, said to me, “The only...most of the people in the
place where you will be going are Americans and...except Mr. Fraser and anybody could get
along with Mr. Fraser.” So that was very appropriate remark. They could. And I know my
memories of him is very happy, very.... He was very challenging, brought out...brought out the
best in you but he did it in a way that I enjoyed.
ERICKSEN: How did he bring out the best in you?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he insisted upon doing it himself. He didn’t want us to spend a lot of time
fussing around with cooking and household things and that sort of thing. He wanted us to
get...get out with the people and he was very diligent about that himself. He was always out in
the marketplace preaching or visiting with the...the people. And he gave himself so
wholeheartedly to the work that, well, you were ashamed not to do likewise.
ERICKSEN: Was he one of these fellows who worked too into the long hours of the night?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, he used to do...he was never too busy to talk with you about serious
things. He just never wanted to spend time just “gabbing” [chatter purposelessly]. But he was
never too busy to talk with you if you had a problem, or if you wanted to talk about the work or
anything like that. Or any serious matter. He just gave himself to it and then he did his
correspondence and things that he had to do during the night. And he often slept very short hours
at night trying to keep up with his correspondence because he was the superintendent of the
whole province, and so he had a lot of correspondence to handle.
ERICKSEN: Do you have any...do you remember any particular time when he was a particular
help to you and Mr. Fitzwilliam?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he took us around from Shanghai, around up through Burma, as I said
before, and that got us established in the...in our...in our...in a home in Tengyueh. And a
language...a Chinese man who came in to teach us the language. And he got us established in....
Some of the church work there was done by other missionaries...by other missions, he didn’t
want us to start a work because we were only there temporarily. And in all that...in all that
journey around and getting into real Chinese life, he was a real...he was a real comfort and an
understanding friend. And he realized that the culture was not easy for us to take right off. And
he was very understanding, though he himself went just all out for being Chinese, but he was
very understanding as a...to a new worker, to the shock that it was to suddenly arrive in the
interior of a Chinese city and to know that that’s where we were going to be for the next year or
two. And he meant a lot to each of us. The OMF [the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, the
name China Inland Mission changed to after 1950] are going to make...produce a film on the life
of James Fraser if the money comes in for it. They don’t start, I think, until the money is there [
chuckles] So if the money comes in for the film, they are planning to film...make a film of his
life. I think it would be an inspiration to people who are interested in missionary work.
ERICKSEN: Can you remember any - I am not sure that is the...is the right way to put it. I mean,
you have told me a lot of admirable things about him. Was there...is there anything about him
FITZWILLIAM: Well, as I think now...
ERICKSEN: ...weak side....
FITZWILLIAM: ...I don’t think of anything that bothered me. But I know that he did have..did
make people very much upset that didn’t go along with his policies.
ERICKSEN: Oh, one other thing that I wanted to ask you. You referred several times to his
ideas of indigenous work. Can you quickly describe...?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, that...the theory...the indigenous theory is that the work is indigenous to
the people and to the country, and not supported by foreign funds and not run by the foreign
missionary. But self-supporting and self-governing, self-propagating churches, really.
FITZWILLIAM: And that’s what he established and that’s why the Lisu work has always been
so strong. They’ve always...they’s always carried along...always carried on the work themselves.
All they expected of their missionaries was for them to...Bible teaching and spiritual advice, and
all that. They’re not...they’re not like in some...in some of the Chinese cities they were very
independent of the missionary, didn’t want the missionary to.... The Lisu were never that way.
They always...they wanted everything the missionary wanted to give them, but they took the
responsibility of the work.
ERICKSEN: Was there any other indigenous work going on at that time?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, in some parts. Like I was reading, I think it was in the last Billy...the last
Decision magazine [published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association] there was an article
on the Korean church. And that was started on the same principles...
FITZWILLIAM: ...and that was a very strong work.
ERICKSEN: I guess I was wondering about in...in CIM?
FITZWILLIAM: Yeah. I personally don’t...didn’t...well, I didn’t see much Chinese work in the
CIM except in western Yunnan which was very, very difficult as far as Chinese work is
concerned. But I believe in many parts of China, like in the southeast...in those southeast
provinces which are...which is where there have been so many people turned to the Lord during
the Communist occupation, I think that many of those churches were self-supporting. And of
course there was Wang Ming Dao’s work up in north China, who...which was entirely a national
work. No...no foreign missionary had anything to do with it, so there were...there were places in
China where the Chinese work was a...an indigenous work.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Switching to some other people that you worked with, what can you tell me
about the Kuhns [John and Betty Kuhn] and what were they like?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, of course we knew the Kuhns from Moody days. John Kuhn went out to
the field...went out to China in the same party with my husband. And... well, they were very good
friends. We were very close at...at Moody and then.... They never came into the tribal...we never
worked close with them in the tribal work, other than that they were way up north, which was
two weeks journey from us. And we sent workers up there to evangelize and then....
ERICKSEN: Lisu workers?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, Lisu. And in that sense we had contacts with them in the work, but they
were so far removed from our center that we....I don’t remember that we ever...no, I am sure we
didn’t ever even catch a glimpse of them when we worked in Yunnan. We met them again when
we came home But they were in the northern part of the work, the new work Lisu that the Lisu
had started. And they went on up to conduct Bible schools up there. They were [pauses] very
good friends when we came home. The three...Mrs Graham went out with us, Mrs. John Graham
and Isobel Kuhn and I were all landed up here in Wheaton, and so we pooled our funds and
bought a house together and lived together for a couple of years.
ERICKSEN: When was that?
FITZWILLIAM: That was in 19...let’s see...1951. When they...when Isobel.... John Kuhn went
back to help survey the field. And Isobel was home alone with her children. And so we...and she
stayed in Wheaton until he came back. And we had very happy fellowship. We each had...we
had a three story apartment house there on Scott Street. We each had an apartment that we could
visit one and another and did lots of things together. They were very good friends. Isobel, of
course, was a very good writer. She wrote a number of books that have been a real blessing to
ERICKSEN: [Pauses] What about Mr. Hoste? What was he like?
ERICKSEN: Mr. Hoste.
FITZWILLIAM: The name...?
ERICKSEN: The general director [of China Inland Mission]. Isn’t that...?
FITZWILLIAM: Ho...Hoste! H.O.S.T.E.
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he was a very typical English, a former soldier, if you can....
ERICKSEN: Which means what?
FITZWILLIAM: He was very...sort of stern but he had a very great sense of humor. He was a
great man of prayer. He used to spend hours and hours in prayer and he often invited
missionaries to pray with him. He had a very...he was a very tall and stately person. He had been
a...he had been in the army. I’ve forgot what his rank was, but he carried that over into his old
age. He was really [pauses] he was stern and yet he wasn’t stern. I remember a story about him
in...in Shanghai, at the mission headquarters. He got one of the children to...he got friendly with
one of the little children, and he got him to call him Old Hoste. And so then at the table, this
child piped up “Oh, hey, Old Hoste,” much to the chagrin of everyone at the table, especially his
parents! [chuckles] But he had a keen sense of humor. And he had a high and squeaky voice, you
didn’t expect this stern, tall imposing looking man to come out with this kind of a voice, but he
was a real inspiration to all of us.
ERICKSEN: What kind of a leader was he?
FITZWILLIAM: Very strong, very good, very much loved. I don’t know how to describe him
ERICKSEN: Did he have firm convictions like Fraser did?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, I think he did, but perhaps not...he hadn’t proved them as well as Mr.
Fraser had and wasn’t as dogmatic about it as...he was the general director. He had all kinds of
missionaries under him. And I think he was a very...he was a strong leader but he was a very
tactful person. Much more tactful probably than Mr. Fraser was. But he was very, very fond of
Mr. Fraser and admired his work.
ERICKSEN: Did he tend to delegate work or was he one to...?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, he did. He had to. China is a big country. [chuckles] I don’t believe he
ever...I don’t think he ever threw his weight around as general director. He was...he was strong in
his...his decisions, not wishy-washy by any means - at least what I saw of him, which wasn’t a
great deal, because we were only in Shanghai for a little while and then we were so remote from
FITZWILLIAM: ...we didn’t see much of people there.
ERICKSEN: So he didn’t visit the fields?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he did. He never came out in our part while we were in that area, but
when we went out to China, Mr. Hoste was getting to be an old man and didn’t travel as much as
he had done in his younger days
ERICKSEN: Can you remember any controversial decisions that he...that he had to make, that
he did make?
FITZWILLIAM: No. I don’t. The...the mission was very definitely run by...not by one person, by
a council. And I think all decisions...of course he may have made decisions, I don’t know, on his
own, but as far as anything I knew, the decisions that were made of policy was...were council
decisions and I don’t...I don’t remember that there was much controversy over his leadership. Of
course, in those days, people weren’t quite as independent as they are now. They were a little bit
more willing to take orders. [chuckles]
ERICKSEN: What about Bishop Houghton? Houghton? [changes pronunciation]
FITZWILLIAM: Bishop Houghton [pronounced to rhyme with “gotten’] we called him .
ERICKSEN: Did you work under him?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes. He...he was the General Director for those very difficult days when the
war [Sino-Japanese War, which merged into World War II] came on and we were interned and
all that. So I never really got to know him well at all. I just knew him to talk to him. But I never
got to really know him. But I believe there was some controversy in that after everyone was out
of China, I don’t know quite why and I don’t think it was ever published why, but the
general...he either resigned the general directorship or he was removed from it. And I think he
was probably too English for an international mission. He was a bishop...bishop of the Anglican
Church and had that kind of attitude toward.... So I don’t think that he was a...the best kind of a
person to be a leader in an interdenominational, international mission as the CIM was with
people from practically every European country, and America, Australia and all, all ganged up
together. [chuckles] He was very, very British.
ERICKSEN: What does that...what does that mean when you say he was very British?
ERICKSEN: For those of us who aren’t.
FITZWILLIAM: ...there is such a difference between a really Britisher and a really American, I
don’t know how to describe it. Now Mr. Fraser, on the other hand, he was British but he was
also very much at home in American ways. When we first went out, there was a little bot of...not
strained relations, but a little bit of American versus English feelings in the language school
where we studied, because, well, I think English people, certainly English people in those
days...the mission was very definitely English in flavor. It was founded by a...yes, in England.
And it was very definitely...there was a little controversy about the school for missionaries’
children. It was run on the British system. And they kept instituting a little more American ways
and American teachers, but Britishers as a whole (although I love them very dearly and have
many dear, dear friends. Mrs. Fraser was as dear to me as a sister could be and she wasn’t a bit
that way. As I say, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser could be just easily have been Americans as British,
although they were very British. But some Britishers...well, the sun rises and sets on the British
Empire in those days everything. And everything American was a little bit...well, a little bit
wild, wild Indians out of the way. That was....
ERICKSEN: Not very proper, maybe?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, they sort of condescended to us, you might say and....
ERICKSEN: Can you think of a for instance?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, [pauses] I...I remember one...one girl in the language school. She could
say very cutting things. And she said, “Doesn’t everybody in America chew gum?” [chuckles]
That was very un-English to chew gum. And of course, most of us...I mean, I have as much
disgust for gum chewing as any English person so that didn’t go down well. I mean, they...I
should imagine that English people now have had to...well, had to smooth off some of those
feelings because certainly they are not what they were in those days as far as the nation is
concerned. So they have to eat humble pie a little bit. But we got along very well in an
international mission. There was no friction to speak of. Just little personal gripes, maybe.
ERICKSEN: Well, let’s shift gears a little. One of the things that we lost in our first interview
that we...that we lost was your were talking about learning languages. Can you tell me a little bit
about learning Lisu?
ERICKSEN: Did you do that at the language school in...in...?
FITZWILLIAM: No. The language school was strictly Chinese. No, we had to pass so many
language exams in Chinese before we were allowed to go into the tribal work at all. That was a
rule of the mission that you had to pass the Chinese language exams. That’s why we would...Mr.
Fraser took us to a Chinese city and we settled and finished our language....
ERICKSEN: That city was?
FITZWILLIAM: Tengyueh, in...just up there on the border of Burma. And then so when we
went down to Lisuland...well, Lisu language is entirely different from Chinese. Its idiom is very,
very different. They put the...they always put the verb the very last of the sentence. The
language...the construction of the language is difficult. The tones are very, very difficult, because
the language doesn’t have.... You might call it a poor language, having...not having a written
language until they became Christians. So every...every word had a...every sound had a different
tone. And if you...if you didn’t get the right tone, it was the wrong word entirely. I mean, we
could guess because...we could guess at what a person meant if they used the wrong tone, but the
Lisu couldn’t. So....
ERICKSEN: Like, what was a....can you think of a word where the different tone would mean
something completely different?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, as I said before, I was always getting laughed at by the Lisu because I
would ask the Lisu boy who helped us in our home to cut some what I though I was saying
“bread” which is “baba”. And I would say it, “baba” and that would be “father” or “grandfather.”
And I always got laughed at that. But one thing about the Lisu. They were very anxious for us to
learn that...they were very anxious for us to be able to teach them in their language and
they...they were very helpful. And while they would howl at the mistakes we would make, yet
they were kind in their laughing and we didn’t mind it. But was easier for me to get
conversational Lisu than conversational Chinese. We...we started studying Chinese out of a
Chinese grammar book and then went on to learn to write the characters. Then we went to
reading the Bible which was in classical Chinese. And...and the people talk quite differently and I
don’t know, I never felt at ease. I suppose if I had lived and worked with Chinese and had, you
know, made friends.... If my hear was in the Chinese work, I would have felt differently. But I
never felt at ease talking with Chinese people but the Lisu, it just didn’t bother me. They were
friendly and it just...if I said it wrong, not right, they told me how to say it right and so it was
easier in that way. But the language was more difficult, the spoken language is much more
difficult than the Chinese and of course, we had a limited amount of.... When we first went
there we didn’t have the whole Bible [in the Lisu language]. We had catechisms, hymn books
and the New Testament. And you couldn’t get a...you couldn’t get a Lisu teacher to spend time
like you could hire a Chinese teacher who’d come in and sit there by the hour and read Chinese
till you’d fall asleep and wake up. But you couldn’t get Lisu. They were busy in their fields.
They didn’t have time to, you know, stop and spend hours with us, so we had to grab the Lisu as
grab we could. So...but there was nothing to learn as far as the written language is concerned. It
was a very simple script and was phonetic and you didn’t have the problem of Chinese characters
so that part of very easy.
ERICKSEN: How long did it take you to feel comfortable...
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I...
ERICKSEN: ... in Lisu?
FITZWILLIAM: I...I don’t know, I think it was probably a year before I felt able to really give a
message [sermon] in Lisu. Although I used to try. I would write it out and have one of the Lisu
correct it for me and then I would try and give it. And they were all...they always acted like it
was great, ‘cause they are that kind of people.
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. You’ve been good enough to give us this Bible [in box 1, folder 4 of
Collection 272]. I wonder if you could pick something out and read for us so we get an idea of
what Lisu sounds like. And if you want to pick up a passage that is meaningful to you...
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I could read John 3:16 maybe. [For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten son that whosoever belies in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.]
FITZWILLIAM: Find it in here. It is hard to find the numbers [chuckles].
ERICKSEN: Then maybe too, if you could...when you finish reading it in Lisu, if you could read
it...sort of translate it into English into the word order that they would use it in, if that’s possible,
so we get an idea of the construction.
FITZWILLIAM: You mean literally...?
ERICKSEN: Yeah, so we get a feeling of the construction.
FITZWILLIAM: [Reads the passage in Lisu] [The following sentence, in which Mrs Fitzwilliam
goes back and forth from Lisu to English, cannot be transcribed very well and should be listened
to.] Literally its whoever he that believes in him would not be destroy...wouldn’t come to
destruction. In order to receive eternal life...forever life in order to (that’s their construction).
God...he...his only begotten son to the extent of giving Him loved what Earth people to that
extent loved. So you see, they put everything else before and then they give you the verb at the
end. “God so loved the world....” The “love” comes as the very last word.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Well, now you had to learn a second language beyond...
FITZWILLIAM. Yes. That...
ERICKSEN: ...well, actually it was a third.
FITZWILLIAM: It was a third, yes.
ERICKSEN: Chinese, Lisu and Kachin.
FITZWILLIAM: We had to learn Kachin.
ERICKSEN: What was learning that like?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, that was even more difficult because we didn’t have anything written in
the Kachin until we wrote it ourselves. But we did have a great deal of help in that we had a boy
that worked for us (did our cooking and went to the market for us, that sort of thing) who as a
boy had played with Lisu...had played with Kachin boys as they watched cattle on the hills. The
hills are anybody’s. It belong to the...they belong to the official of that area, but everybody has
squatters rights on it. So they take them out on those hills and graze them all day. And he had
played with Atsi Kachin as he watched cattle out on the hill, so he talked Atsi Kachin fairly well.
So he was a great help, because he was a Lisu and yet he.... And then where we went to live
when we finally went into Lisu work and the Lisu and the Kachin built us a house and we went
over to Longchu, a city...a town, well, you couldn’t even call it a town. A little village up on the
hills from the Chefang plain where the Burma Road was built during the war [World War II].
The official of that village, of that area, of that district, had...as a boy had gone down to Burma to
the Jing Pao School, the American Baptist Jing Pao school, I believe it is that where he went to
school, so...and he married a Jing Pao woman. So his wife was Jing Pao. And the Jung Pao
Kachin in Burma have...of course, the American Baptist people have worked among them for
years and years and years. This big...there is a very large church the Jing Pao Kachin. But now
the odd thing...there are five different tribes of Kachin. And they each speak their own language
and they are not really similar to each other, but they do intermarry. So it’s really interesting. You
get into a home and maybe a Maru-Kachin is married to an Atsi-Kachin. And she always talks
her Maru language, he always speaks in Atsi Kachin. And they talk back and forth like that.
There was no [Christian missionary] work whatsoever among the Atsi-Kachin and on the
Chinese side of the border, there are almost no Jing Pao Kachin. They are almost all Atsi and so
it was entirely a virgin field. Well, this official in this village of Longchu of that area had been to
school and as I say he had married this Jing Pao woman. So he had the Jing Pao Bible that he
could work with and he knew a little bit of Chinese. He didn’t know any Lisu, of course, he
knew a little Chinese, so we got started that way. But mostly it was just asking, How do you say
this?” and “What’s this?” and “What’s this?” until you begin to get a little hold on the language
until you begin to understand a little bit what they say to you. And from there on.... As I say, we
used the Fraser script to reduce the language to writing. And it worked very, very well and they
learned to read it very easily. And then we had a great deal of help. I got amoebic dysentery our
first...our first rainy season in Yunnan and they had to put me on a camp cot and the Lisu carried
me down into Burma. And I had to stay down there in Mandalay for weeks and weeks while I
was being treated. My husband went back up into the station, but I stayed down there in
Mandalay. And while we were down there my husband was visiting out in a Kachin army camp
and he met this...this Atsi Kachin who had lived in Burma and gone to Jing Pao School and was
a Christian. He was more or less sort of a chaplain in the British army. And so he came and
previously to that we had gotten sort of a rough...a rough translation of the Gospel of Mark and
worked it up into a very rough translation. He came every day and worked with me on that
polishing our...our Gospel of Mark and making corrections and saying it in a bit more smooth
Atsi way. And that was a really...it seemed like the end of the world had come when I had to get
taken down to Burma in the middle of rainy season because you have to know Yunnan rainy
season to know what it is like. It rains all the time for six months and the roads get full of mud,
paths get full of mud, and it just seemed like it was impossible to face, but there was just no
other way. I just couldn’t get on top of it [my illness] there. And my husband began to be afraid
that I just wouldn’t get better. So the Lisu said, “There is no other way about it. We don’t like to
go down in the plains in the rainy season, but we’ve got to get our teacher to the doctor.” So they
carried me down there and it just seemed as though the Lord had forsaken us entirely, that that
would have to happen. But when we got down there and found this Atsi Kachin who was well
educated in Jing Pao and had been to Jing Pao school and who was so willing and anxious to
help, so that the Atsi people could have the Gospel at last, we could see the Lord had planned it
ERICKSEN: How long before you had been at the hospital did you start to see these things?
The fact that...?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I wasn’t in the hospital too long. In fact, I was only in the hospital for a
few days. And then I was in the...the American Baptist mission has a rest home in Mandalay and
I was there under a doctor’s...under the treatment from a doctor. But he...he wouldn’t let me go
back up in China until I could get over the...at least the more violent attacks [of dysentery]. So I
was down there probably about three months all told.
ERICKSEN: And did you recognize right away what a sort of Godsend this fellow was?
FITZWILLIAM: Oh yes. He was...he was really...he was really a wonderful help. Funny part of
it was, when we were doing the Gospel of Mark, there was a couple of places, one place I
remember particularly in the Jing Pao.... He also knew a little English. It was where Christ was
asleep in the boat [Mark 4: 35-41] and he said “In Jing Pao, it says Christ was asleep on a bench,
I think he said, and our English version is ‘on a pillow’”. Anyway, he was very much amused
that something in the Jing Pao language wasn’t the same as the English. He was...he was really a
Godsend because he was an earnest Christian and very, very anxious to get the gospel into Atsi
and very, very much interested in our work up in China. So it was a real...really great help.
Otherwise we couldn’t have gotten it done and printed and out to the people nearly as quickly as
ERICKSEN: You’ve given us a Kachin catechism [in box 1, folder 1 of collection 272].
ERICKSEN: I guess it is Atsi.
FITZWILLIAM: That is the first thing we did.
ERICKSEN: Could you read something from that? I don’t know if it will sound any different to
an untrained ear from the Lisu but....
FITZWILLIAM: [Reads a portion in the Atsi language. The transcriber does not have all the
specialized characters necessary on the computer keyboard to render this correctly in the Atsi
Kachin written language] “Mau ʞua mi gua le ďn to su o yu aut le lu” “Who is it that created the
earth and the heavens?” And then the answer is, “K-rai k-sa aut le,” “It was God.” And I think
the word “K-rai k-sa” is a word that they used to use, like the...like the Lisu had a word...have a
word, the “Wusa” [sp?], the word they use for “God “ is the word they used for “Creator” before
they became Christians. And they believe that God was good and had created the earth. So that
wasn’t difficult at all for them to understand that God was God.
FITZWILLIAM: And this “K-rai k-sa” in...in the...is a...is a Jing Pao word carried over into the
Atsi. [reading from the catechism. The transcriber does not have all the specialized characters
necessary on the computer keyboard to render this correctly in the Atsi Kachin written language]
“K-Rai K-sa e ďn to le gl-, nt jau le xut le lu-. A xut lu” And “j xut le” “If...if...if since God
created everything, is it wrong to worship the demons?” And the answer is “Very wrong.” And
then the next question is, [reads again from catechism] “Hai mu xut le lu” “nt gl i nua le dn to su
a nut mu-. Xut le” “Because the demons are not our creator, it is wrong.” See, at least...the Atsi
Kachin, unlike the Lisu, their...their grammatical construction is much more like...like Chinese
and like the English.
FITZWILLIAM: That’s how Mr. Fraser started out the Lisu work, with a little catechism - just
questions and answers about God and how...and Jesus, and something along the lines of
Christians, how their conduct should be in worship and so forth. . And it worked so well with
the Lisu we did the same thing with the Kachin.
ERICKSEN: I think you said that the use of Roman characters was something that Mr. Fraser
ERICKSEN: How did he hit upon that?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he thought...he felt that if he used our...our English letters...and then he
needed more...we needed more letters than the English alphabet because they have sounds that
we don’t have that couldn’t be represented in the regular [English] letters. So he turned them
upside down for those additional...like “L” he turned upside down. Right side up, it is “La.”
Upside down it is “il” sound. And he thought that using the English letters he could get English
literature...Lisu literature printed by any English press. It didn’t turn out that way because when
you turn a letter upside down, it makes the space [spacing] wrong. So they have to make a new
bank of letters for those. But the other...for most of the letters, they just used an English...the
English alphabet. And....
ERICKSEN: So he just dreamed...just sort of dream this up and...?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, he...he consulted with some missionaries down in Burma when he first
started to work with the Lisu. I don’t know whether they were much help to him or not. He says
they were, but then he’s a very generous sort of a person. But I think it was...Mr. Fraser was a
very brilliant man, a very brilliant man and I think it was his know-how.
ERICKSEN: Did he have any input when you were working on the Atsi-Kachin language?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, his...he came along when the Lisu were building the house for us. He
stayed with us ‘til the Lisu built this little house for us...and the Kachin [helped build the house].
And then his wife stayed with us for, oh, several months. She wanted to work among the Kachin
with us. But it did not work out too well, because it was too isolated and he was the
superintendent of the whole province and it meant more traveling for him than if she lived in a
central station. So after about...I think she was with us for about five or six months and she
decided it wasn’t fair to him to have to do so much extra traveling, so she went to live in a larger
Chinese city. But he...he was, oh, he was very helpful and enthusiastic about our getting into the
ERICKSEN: Do you feel at all like you were in over your head. Trying to develop...I mean, you
were doing linguistic work.
FITZWILLIAM: Well, we would have felt more so I think if we hadn’t had [pauses]...if we
hadn’t had this Jing Pao headmaster, who was a great help and this Lisu boy with Atsi who was a
great help. I mean, if we hadn’t had any help, it would have been much more difficult to get
started. But they could...they could give us words and they could tell us how to say things, they
could help us with the...with the grammar, which was the hardest thing in reducing a language to
writing. You can get the names of people, but...the names of things, but how to put them
together is...is a big problem. They were a great help in that. So [pauses] I don’t remember that
we felt frustrated...
FITZWILLIAM: ...but I’m sure we probably did [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Maybe once [Fitzwilliam laughs] You...you...earlier you were talking about the
words for God and the fact that both the Lisu and the Kachin because of words they’d in their
language before had no trouble believing in a Creator.
ERICKSEN: Were there any parts of sort of the Lisu or Kachin culture that made it difficult, that
were...that were obstacles to their understanding the gospel or Christian doctrine or believing?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, there was no trouble in understanding that God...there is a God and that
God created the world. They believed that as heathen. But they believed that He was good and so
He had no personal interest in any of them. And since he didn’t...He was good and didn’t do any
harm, it never entered their heads to worship him. And they were afraid of the demons because
they...they knew that they did them harm. I used to think that was imagination and probably some
of it was but, boy, there’s really power in that...in their...in the hold that the demons have on
ERICKSEN: Did you see anything - demonstrations of [unclear]?
FITZWILLIAM: We lived in a Christian village, of course.
FITZWILLIAM: We didn’t have the awful contact that you would have. Now we had more of
that among the Kachin, because we lived in a mostly heathen village [there]. But the Lisu...what
really grips the Lisu is the fact that...that God loves them. Because that...that’s...that concept of
God never entered into their belief at all. They just knew He created the world and...and that He
was good, but that He would have any personal interest in anybody in the world.... And then
when they grasped the fact that He loved them to the extent of sending the Lord Jesus, His only
Son to die for the sins of the...for their sins, that’s the thing that really grips them, that the
love...that God actually loves them. There is no love in demon worship. They don’t worship the
demons because they have any love for them. In fact, that’s the first thing they think...that’s the
first thing that appeals to them, that they would get out from under the demon worship. And it
isn’t until they realize it’s more than just getting out from under the demon worship, but if they
are going to be a Christian, they’ve got to be a Christian wholeheartedly, that then that a lot of
them go back there, right there when they discover it’s not just that they don’t have to worship
the demons, but the fact that they do belong to God and have to live for God. They don’t want
that because that is contrary to the life that they live of...of debauchery and immorality
and...because the tribal people are very primitive, very amoral. Not any amoral than Americans
are these days, but as heathen, the fact of living a good life just doesn’t appeal to them.
Especially of the Kachin. They...they...they drink very heavily and they fight feuds from one
village to another and they stole each other’s daughters and that sort of thing. If that all...all that
has to be given up, they are not interested.
ERICKSEN: Were the Kachin as captivated by the idea of God’s love as the Lisu were?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, I think they were. Very much so. In fact, that story I told you about that
old man that came to the Lisu Festival and wanted to know why we didn’t send missionaries to
the Kachin people so they could have this...this Jesus that made them [the Lisu] so happy. They
recog...if you meet two Lisu on...on a...on the path on a hill, you know, traveling from one place
to another, you never have to ask if whether they are Christians or not, it just stands out all over
them. They dress differently, hey are cleaner, their face look different and of course, when they
meet a teacher they come up and shake hands, and that sort of thing, but even if they didn’t, just
their appearance is different. The heathen are down in the mouth, oh, I don’t know, just sort of
down in the mouth. Their mouths are always red with beetlenut, they’re dirty and unkempt
looking. The Lisu are comparatively clean compared to the heathen.
ERICKSEN: So there’s kind...there’s a social change that takes place?
FITZWILLIAM: Very much so. And they...among the Lisu anyway, they usually move out of
the heathen village to a Christian village. And the village is run by Christian standards. In the
middle of the village is a chapel. It’s just a different life.
ERICKSEN: Whose idea was that? Was that a Lisu idea. Was that the missionaries’ idea?
FITZWILLIAM: I don’t know. I think it was the Lisu more than...I don’t think Mr. Fraser
advised them to move out of the heathen village into a Christian village, but the life is so
different. The heathen Lisu...the heathen Lisu live just a different kind of a life as a Christian
Lisu is from the way we would live. I mean, there is just no comparison to.... Well, they live in
the same kind of house and eat the same kind of food and that sort of thing but just their whole
outlook on life is so different. So they don’t feel at home in a Lisu...Kachin...in a heathen
ERICKSEN: Something that you just alluded to was the...I think it was the celebration at
Christmas time when you first went to the Lisu village. When this Kachin man...
ERICKSEN: ...Wasn’t that the incident?...
ERICKSEN: Could you...We lost that on the first tape. I wonder if you could...?
FITZWILLIAM:...Well when we went down...
ERICKSEN:...briefly describe that...
FITZWILLIAM:...to the Lisu land the first time we went down at the...at the Christmas season
and they put aside...oh I guess the Lisu Christmas festivals last about four days...three or four
days...probably four days. And they...It’s the end of their harvest season...and they put aside their
work and come into a main...sort of a central village and...and have what they call [name in Lisu]
they call it, it’s a Festival for the Birth of Christ. And so it’s the time of the year for the Lisu
people. If they can possibly manage it they try to have a new...new outfit of clothes. And...and
they save their rice and they bring their rice at the...at that time rather than other kinds.... Other
times of the year they eat potatoes or corn or whatever. And they pull their resources and kill a
pig or two and it’s just a big...big time. And of course it’s very Christian and they...they meet
for...they meet for worship. And they also at that time bring their offerings to the Lord and each
village will stand up in the...in the meetings and say “this village gives so many bushels of rice
and so many pigs and so many cows and so many for the work,” the Christian work to support
the...the Lisu evangelistic teachers that spend all their time going around teaching. And so it’s a
really very important time. And they...they...they....It’s a very happy time. It’s a very happy
occasion. You come down the mountain trail into the village and they build a bamboo archway
and decorate it with orchids and... (they grow wild in the ravines there). And then...the
Christians that have arrived first there in the village and they sing a welcoming song. And the
people who are coming have to wait outside the arch until they are welcomed and then they come
in and they line up in a big long line and everybody...you shake everybody’s hands all down the
line. So everybody’s just happy that’s all. And their be a little group will be together singing a
new hymn that somebody’s translated for them or somebody’s written up for them. And
somebody else will be with a bunch of kids learning to read. And...and it’s just happy...hubbub
all over the mountain side. And so this old Kachin man, dirty old filthy Kachin man [laughs]
heard about this...this Festival that they were going to have at Muchengpo [name of village] and
that their was going to be a foreign teacher and his family come to the festival. So he came over
to see what it was all about and he stood there watching for quite a while. And all these happy
Lisu are running around on the...all over the village. And...and then he came up to us so...so he
said to my husband and me “Why don’t you send some teachers to...to us Kachin people, why
can’t we have the Gospel that make these Lisu people so happy.” And so right then and there we
both felt that the Lord was calling us to that Kachin work but our senior missionary died right
after we got to the field...to...down to the Lisu village...
FITZWILLIAM:...No, Mr. Gowman. They were the senior missionaries there. They had been in
the Lisu work several years before...in that area...before we came. So we were left with that Lisu
work on our hands. I suppose thirty...thirty-five or forty Lisu...Christian Lisu villages that...in
different...we had different areas where we went to conduct Bible schools and the language to
learn. And you have to be doctor and nurse and counselor and everything else to the Lisu and so
we didn’t have any time to do anything for the Kachin but before we came home on furlough my
husband said “I just don’t think we ought to go home until we do something about that call to the
Kachin.” So he decided he would go to wild Kachin country. There’s tame Kachin and the wild
Kachin. The tame Kachin paid taxes to the Chinese government more or less but the wild
Kachin paid taxes to no man and they’re very wild. They fight and they kill each other and
they... They’re very wild. And...but they live in a mountain range about a two days journey
away from where we were leaving with the Lisu and...or three maybe. And absolutely untouched
territory over there and so for some reason (I’m sure the Lord was leading) my husband thought
that’s where he ought to go just to visit and see...see what kind of opening he would get and just
see how the Lord was leading. And so this Lisu boy who worked for us...well, he didn’t work for
us at that time but he came to work for us when he.... And he heard....when he heard that my
husband was going over there And so he...the Lisu tried to persuade him not to go. They said
“You just don’t know what can happen to you over in wild Kachin country, why don’t you go to
these tame Kachin people that live fairly near us here,?” It’s where this old man lived for
instance. But my husband felt very strongly that that’s what the Lord would have him do. So
Wa Da [sp?][name of boy?] said “Well alright if you’re going to go, I’ll go with you cause I can
talk a little bit of that language and I’ll go with you. You better not go alone.” And so they set
out and went over to that range of mountains. And...And as they went along...along the Chefang
plain and looked up at the mountain all these villages dotted around that mountain range. They
picked out a village up there and they said “Well, Let’s go to that village and...and see what the
Lord will do.” So they made their way up to that village and as they came into that village, they
were met by all the dogs that come out to greet you. Every house has a dog which guards them
because they don’t have any locks on their doors if they had those that would lock, and they keep
a dog that guards the house. So when a stranger comes into the village the dogs all come rushing
at you. My husband always said, “Just don’t let the dogs know you’re afraid and they won’t bite
you.” [laughs] And I never could figure out how you could convince a dog you weren’t afraid of
him. Well, anyway the dogs came tearing out at them and then a young man came out of one of
the houses and they noticed that that house had a cross up there in the eaves...like...like...which
signified that that was the headman of that district. So they made there way into the village o and
a man came out of that house and he came rushing up to my husband and he said “Well, thank
God, I asked him to send you and here you are.” And he had run away from home as a boy, and
went down into Burma, because he heard of all the wonderful things down there: houses with
windows, houses with stoves where the smoke went outdoors instead of coming into their eyes,
books that could talk, and automobiles. They had heard such wonderful tales of what was down
in Burma that he wanted to go see it and his father wouldn’t let him go. And his father
threatened him that if he went he would kill him. And he knew his father was perfectly capable
of doing just that. He was a very wicked old man. So...but he ran away one day. When he was
out on the hills watching the cattle, he took an extra bag of rice and he ran away and he made his
way down into Nankam [Burma] which is about three days journey away from where he lived.
And he went to the...he made...he went to the home of the [Baptist] missionary’s home down
there. Somebody took him there, because there was a Kachin school there. And so the
missionary took him in and let he could go to the Kachin school. And he learned the [Jing Pao]
Kachin language. He didn’t dare go home because he knew his father would wreak vengeance on
him. So he just stayed down there and finally his father died and his mother sent messengers
down into Burma to tell him, “Come home,” because now he would be the headman for the area,
because it an inherited position. So he went back up into China, into about the most vile corner
of heathenism I think one could find anywhere in the world. But he went with the Lord Jesus in
his heart and a desire to teach his people about the Lord, because he had accepted the Lord down
there [in Burma]. First when they had...when he had come back, he told them about all the
things he had seen down in Burma and that he now didn’t worship the demons, that he worshiped
God. They thought that was great. They were willing to do that, but then when they discovered he
didn’t drink and he didn’t smoke and wouldn’t go with them on the thieving forages, he wouldn’t
join in their fights. And he tried to teach them that because he was a Christian he just didn’t do
those things, that he worshiped a God that expected His people to be holy. And then they didn’t
want anything to do with it. They said, “Oh, that...if it’s that...if it’s that, we can’t live that way.
That’s not Kachin way.” And so he just felt that if he could get a missionary to come and learn
the language and reduce it to writing, eventually these people would listen and believe. But he
didn’t know where to go get a missionary. We don’t journey a three days journey around just for
visiting that part of the country. And I don’t know if he knew that we were anywhere that near to
him. But anyway he just prayed God would send him a missionary. So the very first trip that my
husband took among the Kachin, and the very first village where they stopped and the first man
they talked to was this man who was praying God to send him a missionary. So they felt that was
a token from the Lord that He really wanted work among the Kachin. Well, we came home on
furlough shortly after that, and while we were home on furlough, we received word that the
Kachin over there had murdered this young official...
ERICKSEN: The headsman?
FITZWILLIAM: ...because they just didn’t like him after be became a Christian. So we didn’t go
to that part to...to live. We went to a village near a Lisu village, but a heathen Kachin village but
not in the wild Kachin territory. As far as I know, no one from that day to this has been over in
that area at all.
ERICKSEN: In the wild Kachin area?
FITZWILLIAM: In the wild Kachin area.
ERICKSEN: Were there any Bible passages or Bible stories that either the Lisu or Kachin were
particularly fond of.
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I don’t know that any one stands out more than another to me.
ERICKSEN: Any one...one kind of Scripture that maybe they liked more of the stories or the
poetry in the Psalms or the letters in the New Testament?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I think they...I think they did have the.... The epistles and the rest of the
books of the New Testament was just new to them. In fact, the...the first printing of the New
Testament arrived in Lisuland after we arrived there . So, of course, the part of the Bible that’s
more...more familiar to them was the Gospels. Mr. Fraser translated the Gospel of Mark first so
that it was the most...the most well known to them. And then John and Matthew and Mark. And
they had the Gospels for many years before they had any...and Acts before they had.... But they
had Old Testament stories. And I don’t know that I ever.... By the time we got there they were so
anxious to study in the epistles, which were new to them. That’s what they all wanted to work on
that more than anything else. And the Lisu really loved to sing. They are very musical. I think
hymns have meant...probably meant next to the Bible a tremendous amount to the Lisu...to the
growth of the Lisu work because they learned a lot of doctrines from the...from the
hymns...hymns. They loved to sing them and they love a new song. I don’t know.... Of course,
we always dwell on John 3:16 and that of course is familiar to them.
ERICKSEN: Okay. Switching...switching gears a little. Of course, the missionaries out on your
field...when you were separated from other missionary families, was there any conflict...was
there ever any conflict between missionaries?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, of course in other parts of China there were, but in our part....
ERICKSEN: That you had to deal with?
FITZWILLIAM: No, we...we rarely ever saw another missionary. We had a missionary family
that lived in a Chinese city a day’s journey away from us. We had contacts with them because
that’s where we got our mail. We had a boy went over there one day and come back the next
about every ten days to get our mail. And we had...they used to buy things on the Chinese market
for us. But that’s the nearest neighbor we had. Then our contacts were more down in Burma.
We...we had to go down to Burma several times for illness. We had contacts with the American
Baptist people in Burma. Not too strong spiritual contacts. We...we stayed with the Seagraves. I
don’t know if you ever heard of the Gordon Seagraves. He was an American Baptist missionary.
Dr. Seagraves He opened a hospital down there so we were down there for medical help. They
were wonderful to us. But spiritually we didn’t have too much.... So we were very much
isolated. Probably except for the people that were way up in Tibet, we were more isolated than
most any of the missionaries. But you didn’t feel so isolated because the Lisu were so friendly.
ERICKSEN: Sounds kind of like a big family?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes. I stayed weeks on end [alone]. The only...I didn’t want to take Jack
traveling too much. We did travel quite a lot, but my husband was out a lot more than I was. So I
was alone in a Lisu village with no other white person within a day or so’s journey, but I never
felt fear or anything, because I knew the Lisu were my friends.
ERICKSEN: I’d like to find out something about your husband. We really haven’t talked about
ERICKSEN: What was he like?
FITZWILLIAM: He was pretty nice. [laughs] We met at Moody and we became engaged just
before we left for the field, after we were both accepted by the mission. As I say, we were
married in Shanghai. The rule of the mission was that we had to wait two years to get married so
we could get on with the language [lessons], but they changed it that time because we were all
evacuated to Shanghai, but they changed it that time because of the...we were all in Shanghai in a
port city, so they decided to let us [engaged couples] get married. So we got married in and went
around through Burma. [Pauses] I...I don’t know what to say.
ERICKSEN: What did he like to do?
ERICKSEN: What kinds of things did he like to do? What did he...what were his strengths?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, at home he was...liked athletics, but of course, there of course there were
no athletics in Lisuland. [chuckles] He had a great love for the Lisu people. And he had a..he
was a happy person. And if I were...if we were in a village and he had gone out and I didn’t know
where to find him, I could always find him by where the loudest laughs were coming from
because [chuckles] the Lisu would get together and....
ERICKSEN: Now, is that because he was telling stories or...?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, they just laughed and joked together...
FITZWILLIAM: ...about things. He had a real love for the Lisu people and they loved him too.
And of course, we lived for the Lisu, that’s all we had to live for. We had no other social life
apart from them.
ERICKSEN: Did he have any hobbies?
FITZWILLIAM: Did we have problems?
ERICKSEN: No. Did he have any hobbies?
FITZWILLIAM: Oh, hobbies.
ERICKSEN: Or what did he do in his spare time, if there was any?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, he liked to...to read, but he didn’t do an awful lot of reading either. He
usually, if he had spare time, he was just out with the Lisu. Oh, the Lisu liked to take him out
hunting. They had these muzzle loading guns [chuckles] which you have to shoot ten times in
order to hit anything so he used to go deer hunting with the Lisu and.... I think he spent most of
his spare time when he had any usually just visiting with the Lisu.
ERICKSEN: What do you think the Lisu would say they liked most about him?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, I guess they thought he was their friend. And I think, I don’t know..... he
Lisu are very loyal to their teachers, to their missionaries. [Pauses] He loved the Lisu, he loved
the Lisu work, he loved to get out into the Lisu villages, and he loved to conduct the Lisu Bible
ERICKSEN: Did he...did he feel comfortable...I mean, did he learn the language well? Did
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, I wouldn’t say he was a shark at it. He wasn’t like Mr. Fraser, that.... I
don’t any of the other Lis...any of our other Lisu workers learned the Lisu [language] to the fine
points of talking like the Lisu like Mr. Fraser did. But he...he had a good command of it. And he
had to work at it. I don’t think he had any particular gift of languages. Neither did I. I mean, it
was a hard...we just had to work at it. That was all. But when you spend eight or nine hours a day
at it, you are bound to get it sooner or later. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Then in...then in 1940, he died.
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, we were out at a...we were out in a Lisu village...a Lisu area conducting a
Bible school. And I had gone home early because I left some...some independent missionaries,
older lady missionaries and I left them at home alone. So I felt a little uneasy about them. So we
were in a Lisu village about three days away from our home station. And I went home early and
after I left, he was taken sick. And he taught for a couple of days from his camp cot, but then he
got so bad that the Lisu felt they had better bring him home. So they carried him home. He had to
sleep out on the hills one night
ERICKSEN: Was he [unclear] on the hills?
FITZWILLIAM: Well, on the way home.
ERICKSEN: Oh, on the way home.
FITZWILLIAM: We always camped out when we went overnight and we weren’t in a Lisu
villages. So we got...when he got home, we...there was a doctor down the Chefang plain helping
the Chinese government control malaria along the Burma Road [military supply line between
Burma and China during World War II]. And he came up and he said it was typhus. And he
thought as far as the typhus was concerned he wasn’t in any danger, but he said, “He’s got a
congestion in his lungs and he’s...” That was what worried him most. It was that...that that took
him. He was only home two or three days before he died. So he’s buried out in the hills there [of
ERICKSEN: What is a Lisu cemetery like?
FITZWILLIAM: They don’t have any. They just bury them on the hills. I don’t...I don’t think
there is anybody near him. After I came home, one of the missionaries from the Chinese village
[Tengyueh] got a stone put up with his name and the date on it, because of course, the Lisu don’t
do anything like that. But during the war [World War II] an American army officer in that area
when they were driving the Japanese down...out...down to Burma, he came across that grave and
he wrote to my husband’s mother. She sent the letter on to me. He said he had seen this grave out
in the hills in Yunnan, had his...her name on it.
ERICKSEN: It must have been quite a...quite a shock to be out in a fairly primitive country and
FITZWILLIAM: Yeah, come a cross a grave of a foreigner.
ERICKSEN: ...and having a young son. Yes, I guess I was thinking of how you might
have...how you felt.
ERICKSEN: Suddenly being without your husband and having a young son.
FITZWILLIAM: I think that, you know...I think that that was the hardest...hardest part of my
husband’s mother to bear when he died, that he died out there among the Lisu which to her....she
wasn’t a Christian and...and that’s what she wrote to me, that that was the hardest part of it. That
he should give his life out there among those people and die in that isolated area and....and that
was hard for her. That wasn’t so hard for me, because I knew if he had his choice, he would
rather be buried in Lisuland than any place else in the world. [chuckles] I am looking for the
Lord to come back, and I am sure it won’t be very far from Lisuland to Wheaton. [laughs] In my
Sunday school class the other day, we were talking about what the Resurrection [at the Second
Coming of Christ] and what would it be like. Would we meet people that we...that we have been
dear to us? Would we meet them as we meet the Lord? “Oh,” I said, “well, I expect my husband
to come from Lisuland and we’ll meet the Lord together.”
ERICKSEN: Were those difficult days immediately after his death?
FITZWILLIAM: Yes, they were. I told you before about that group of Kachin men who came to
me. That man who had asked us to come to work among the Lisu [sic]. And they...they were
very kind and loving. Of course, the Lisu were too. And so this old man said, “Don’t...don’t you
worry, we’ll take care of you. You just stay here and teach us. We’ll take care of you” And the
Lisu said the same and it...it was hard but easier than what it might have been maybe even in
some other place.
END OF TAPE
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