This is a complete and accurate transcript of the first oral history interview of Bonnie Jo (Adelsman) Adolph (CN 282 T1) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded are omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts, verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Robert Shuster and Kerry Cox and completed in December, 1992.
Collection 282, Tape T1, Interview with Bonnie Jo Adelsman Adolph by Britta Koch, October 30, 1984.
KOCH: This is an interview of Bonnie Jo Adelsman Adolph conducted by Britta Koch at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in the Archives office. The interview took place on October 30th, 1984, at 1:30 p.m. [Tape recorder turned off and then back on again] The first question I have is: When did your family move from Fergus Falls to Mason City, Iowa?
ADOLPH: That was...let's see, I was born in '33. I think it was in '35 or '36. Something like that. I was only about two. I don't remember having lived in Fergus Falls. I...I only remember Mason City.
KOCH: Why did they move? For job reasons or...?
ADOLPH: Basically, yes. My mother's family was in Mason City, Iowa. My father's family was in Fergus Falls where I lived. And we had been living there where my father was pastoring a church with the idea of going to the mission field, but I guess the Lord had other things in mind, and he returned to his skill which he had grown up with in his father's family as a sheetmetal worker. So we moved back to where my mother's family was and he got work there and we lived there until I was...after my first year in college.
KOCH: What kind of church did you grow up in there?
ADOLPH: I grew up in a Christian Missionary Alliance church. So I was exposed to missions, [both laugh] from day one.
KOCH: Did it have a real active youth program going or...?
ADOLPH: Yeah, quite. Got you interested in things like that.
KOCH: Can you tell me about your conversion which took place at a very young age? [Chuckles]
ADOLPH: My mother would say that I actually accepted the Lord when I was about four. After a fight with my sister, she sat me down in a corner and gave it to me again, about what it meant to be a Christian and how that Christ could change my life. And I remember the incident, but it...I...for my own personal sake, I feel more like it was when I was seven as a result of a Daily Vacation Bible School experience. I went forward at the end [of a sermon or talk to indication her acceptance of Christ as her savior] and...that's when I...I, you know, personally feel is more like the time of my conversion.
KOCH: What were some of the times when you experienced the most growth in your Christian life?
ADOLPH: Not until I got on the mission field. That may sound funny, but the Lord puts you...
ADOLPH: ...into some rough spots and that's when you start...He starts stretching you and making you grow.
KOCH: Was there someone who was especially influential for you during your teen years and high school?
ADOLPH: I can't really say that there was...other than that...I would say my family, my parents probably more than anything else kept me on the straight and narrow way. [both laugh]
KOCH: Well, I....
ADOLPH: Maybe it's because they were so solid in their own faith, and they accepted all of us...you know, they were...they were sort of our ramrod.
KOCH: Now you had a hearing problem as a young child. Is that correct, what I could tell from...?
ADOLPH: I...yeah, I had to have my tonsils and adenoids out when I was four, and that was in...shortly after I started kindergarten, because I wasn't, apparently, responding to the teacher like I should have been or I was getting into problems. [both laugh]
KOCH: What type of...hobbies did you have during high school besides singing?
ADOLPH: I loved to go to the basketball and football games. [both laugh] Hobbies. [Pauses] I collected postcards. In fact I still have the collection.
KOCH: Were these from all of the States or all other countries or...?
ADOLPH: Well, I had some from other countries, too, but I still have a shoe box full of postcards. And I think.... [pause] I was gonna say sewing. No, not in high school. That wasn't 'til I got in college.
KOCH: You mentioned you kind of had an interest in art before you came to college. Had you done much art work or was that just more of an interest?
ADOLPH: No, I had taken art in high school, some art classes, and I was very, very fascinated with architecture. I wasn't all that good in math and so I knew I couldn't go that way, [Koch chuckles] but I could walk into somebody's house and be in it five minutes and I could have...I could figure out the whole layout, practically, without even walking around in the house.
KOCH: That's neat.
ADOLPH: I had just books and books of, you know, little...spiral-bound book...notebook, filled with sketches of house...house plans.
KOCH: So you knew what kind of a house you wanted to build someday. [both laugh] Did you have any interests in missions at that time, during high school?
ADOLPH: No, to be very honest, I didn't. In fact I can very distinctly remember that at the age of twelve, during one of the annual missionary conferences in the...in our Christian Missionary Alliance Church, when they gave the invitation at the end for those that would dedicate their lives to missions, I said, "Lord, I'll go anywhere you want me to go, but not Africa. No, thank you." [Chuckles] And I put it out of my mind, completely. It wasn't that I wasn't exposed to missionaries. Our parents had missionaries and pastors into our home as guests all the time and every year there was a missionary conference at church and they encouraged us to...to make pledges of our little allowances that we had and once we started working they encouraged us to give the tenth and so, you know, we certainly knew about it.
KOCH: Do you think all that stressing of it kind of made you resentful or not...?
ADOLPH: Turned me off, you mean?
ADOLPH: It could have. It could have because I have always had a rather stubborn streak in me. [laughs] Oftentimes if I'm told that I have to do something I don't want to do it so it...that could be just a manifestation of that particular characteristic in me.
KOCH: When you came to Wheaton and were kind of interested in art and journalism, possibly, how did you end up in the home ec. [economics] field?
ADOLPH: I would guess I'd have to credit that to my mother. [both laugh] She wanted one of her daughters to be a nurse, and none of us turned out to be a nurse, so home economics was all right. I mean she was a very...she has always been an excellent cook and homemaker and mother and...good example to us all. And so...I really didn't know what I wanted to go into when I got here. I mean, sure, I enjoyed art and I took art classes and...and that kind of thing, but...I guess it was at her encouragement that I go [sic] ahead and at least start in the home economics major. I had taken my first year at the Mason City Junior College, where we were living, and I took just the basic requirements and...and I did take chemistry because I hadn't had it in col...in high school, so I did take it my freshman year in college, not really knowing which...which direction I was going to go.
KOCH: Saved you the grief of taking chemistry. What was the home ec. major like? What kind of classes did you take and...?
ADOLPH: There was a wide variety, but it...it was more geared toward teaching. It was actually a home economics major with a teaching minor, education minor, because we had to take all the education courses as well as the science courses and we had a home health course, we had a living time, actual experience time in the home ec. house, which they had, where we had to be responsible for running the place. You know, buying the food and cooking the meals and keeping the house clean and all those kind of things. And then we had, you know, the cooking and sewing courses and...and design and.... They really just kind of gave us a broad base, like a home economics teacher in high school or junior high school would need. And demonstration cook...cooking...cooking in...in front of a group and....
KOCH: I remember reading somewhere that there used to be kind of like a stereotype of the home ec. majors. They used to wear a certain pair of...kind of shoes and a certain kind of dress. Was that before your time or after or...?
ADOLPH: Well, if it was, I wasn't aware of it.
KOCH: Were there any professors or staff people here that were per...you know, really influential to you, while you were here?
ADOLPH: Well, the head of our department, Mrs. [Clara E.] Giuliani, was a very strong personality, but very, very practical. And she figured very well that many of the girls would end up on the mission field, and she made her course very practical. I mean, she wasn't for using box mixes and all this kind of stuff. She taught us how to make stuff from scratch.
KOCH: [Chuckles] You were involved in a...a literary society on campus. What was that like and what kind of things did you do in it?
ADOLPH: It usually met on a Friday night. And there was a bit of competition between the different literary societies to get as many members as they could. And we had programs and learned how to conduct meetings with Robert's Rules of Order [standard handbook in the English speaking world for parliamentary behavior] and...and we also had some social ti...some social times during the year. Usually we had a banquet at the end of the year with one of the brother lit. [literature] societies, one of the male lit. societies.
KOCH: So, it was like all female?
ADOLPH: Yeah, throughout the year, but usually, I think it was once a year at least, there was a fancy banquet at the end of the year.
KOCH: And then you sang in the Glee Club also?
ADOLPH: Uh huh. For two years.
KOCH: What was that kind of like at that time?
ADOLPH: Lots of hours of practice, [laughs] and then we got to go on some trips. That was actually the first time I was that far away from home. The only other trips I'd ever taken with my family was to...were...was to my grandparents place up in [?], Minnesota, where I'd been born, and then when I was a senior in high school, I think it was, (a junior in high school?) we went to visit my sister who'd gotten married, my oldest sister, and was living in Oklahoma. And that was the extent of how far I had been away from home.
KOCH: So where did the Glee Club get to...?
ADOLPH: We got down to New Orleans once. We got to Boston. And one time I was not able to go and I can't even remember at this moment why it was I couldn't go on one of the trips, but those two stand out to me: our trip to New Orleans and our trip to Boston.
KOCH: How and when did you meet Harold Adolph?
ADOLPH: Actually, we were both...both of our families were attending Wheaton Bible Church, and we met for the first time in the college-age Sunday school class where they were having some kind of small group meeting and they were electing officers for the coming year, and somehow or another the two of us got put into the social...co-social chairmen, having to provide the refreshments for the Sunday night after-church college get-together. Now, he had actually seen me before then, but that's the first time I remember him. The very first Sunday I think we were here when we moved from Iowa, or the second Sunday or something like that, I was singing at the youth group, the college-age group, after church Sunday night, and he was there. I, you know, I didn't see him...
ADOLPH: ...but that's where he first saw me.
KOCH: So, were you pretty involved with the Wheaton Bible Church at that time, when you were here?
ADOLPH: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that was where our family went. That's where we started. We were just living around the corner from the church and...and there wasn't a Christian Missionary Alliance church in town. We would have had to have gone a fair distance to have gotten to one so my folks said, "That's fine." Actually, my father's from a Baptist background...a Swedish Baptist background, so there wasn't a Swedish Baptist church here in town either, so the Bible Church kind of fell between both of them and...and we were there. That's where we attended.
KOCH: Was...how large was it at that time?
ADOLPH: Oh boy, I can't remember. Maybe seven, eight hundred in attendance on a Sunday morning.
KOCH: It was already pretty big.
KOCH: Do you remember who the pastor was when you were there?
ADOLPH: Malcolm Cronk [?].
KOCH: Was anyone there very influential on you as far as missions go or personally, growing kind of thing?
ADOLPH: I really can't...you know, nothing really stands out to me. I remember one of the special services that they had the...special emphasis week that they had at the college that I...I remember realizing that I had to come to the point of just turning my life over to the Lord and whatever He had for me. But actually, it was Harold that directed me to missions, even though I, as I say, I grew up in missions. And we had been dating a while, and one Sunday night we went to church together, there at the Bible church, and while we were sitting and waiting for the service to start, or maybe they...I don't know...maybe it was when the offering was being taken or something...I don't remember when it was, but I picked up his Bible and was leafing through it, and in the back page, one of those back, plain sheets at the back of the Bible, way up at the top there, was written in his handwriting, "On this date..." (and then he had a date. I can't even remember what date it was) "...I dedicated myself wholly to the Lord to be a medical missionary." I didn't hear anything for the rest of the service. I didn't see anything, you know. It just came like a bucket of cold water over me. And I went home and told my mother and she said, "Well..." she says, "...you better leave him alone because you know you're not headed to the mission field." [both laughs, Adolph laughs very heartily] And that disposition which was in me, being told that I couldn't do something... [both laugh again]
KOCH: You went the other way.
ADOLPH: ...went the other way. No, I...it really...what it did for me, more than anything else, was to honestly face myself before the Lord, you know. What...what do I want for my life, you know. Am I willing to do and be what he wants me to be? So in that respect, it was...it was a challenge to make me face up to my own drifting. You know, not really knowing where I w...was headed for or what I wanted to do. Sure, I figured, you know, I was getting a teaching degree for home economics and, you know, but I never saw, you know, I never had far-reaching goals.
KOCH: So, how did that relationship with Harold continue to develop and change [sic] to the fact that you were more interested in missions and...?
ADOLPH: Well, let's see, it was his senior year and my junior year, and...no, it was the spring of his senior year 'cause we started dating the...January first, in fact. And so it was sometime on toward the...during that spring semester. We saw each other at school and he'd come and sit by me in the library or come over to the art department and watch me paint or when I was cleaning up after class, he'd come in and talk. And we went to basketball games and ice skating and various things like that but I...I could tell, you know, that he was really getting interested in me and I...so I very...I don't know whether you would say it was cruel or not, but I just told him that I felt that I was not as interested in missions as he was. And then for, oh, I don't know, three, four weeks, he was...you know, we didn't see each other for a while and...I saw him one time with another girl and...I guess all of those things just kind of helped me to keep examining my own position before the Lord as to what He wanted from me. And then, later on in the summer, why, we were out on a date together. In fact we had gone down to Lake Michigan, to the beach that day, and it...it still is so.... It was just as vivid as if the Lord was standing right beside me and I sort of...I know this sounds perfectly strange, but it was sort of like I shook...put my hand out and He did and we shook hands on a bargain and I said, "Lord, I'll go with Harold anywhere he goes in the world as his wife." And...he hadn't proposed to me yet, [Koch chuckles] but I knew that that decision had to be made in my own mind and heart first, and then I was at peace about it. But...but you could see how that he was the one that got me to the mission field, very definitely. But it was his...challenge of his life that...that brought me around.
KOCH: So why...why [sic] was your main motivation for coming to Wheaton besides the fact that your sister had kind of thought about coming here, but then...?
ADOLPH: It was my parents that brought us here. They...they didn't...could not see how they could possibly get the last two of us through three...five years of college between us on my father's income and the kind of...and with...because my sister was a music education major, she couldn't go to the local junior college at all, and it was just getting more than they could handle so they were looking around for some other possibilities and they also preferred the idea of a Christian college for us. They came and visited the college on our trip out to visit my sister who was then living in the East, my oldest sister, and they stopped at Nyack Missionary Training Institute [in New York state] where they themselves had gone to school. They stopped at Taylor University [in Indiana], and they stopped at Wheaton before going back to Mason City, Iowa. And they came back and felt convinced that it was Wheaton [pauses] that they should try to get us enrolled in. And he was able to...my dad was able to get a job on the maintenance staff. They provided us with min...very reduced college housing and we were day students with a tuition reduction because my father was on the staff. So it was our parents that brought us here, very definitely.
KOCH: Your son finished here not too long ago. From your contact through him, what kind of changes have you seen at Wheaton since the time when you were a student?
ADOLPH: [laughs] I have seen changes. [laughs again] Some good, and possibly some not so good.
KOCH: And...like...what types of things have you noticed? A difference in spiritual climate or in academics? What types of differences do you see?
ADOLPH: I think there is always and there always will be two definite areas of students. Those that do have a heart for the Lord and for His work, and those who are here only because their parents sent them here, and they couldn't care less, and as our son used to say, "You know, they could find a cheaper place to waste their folks money." And we have just felt that...that...that the...this is true, that perhaps the greater portion of students might not have that spiritual commitment that maybe even the majority of them did when we were in school. And I think there are possibly some professors that are not quite as conservative as they used to be, either. And I think this has a really detrimental effect on the students.
KOCH: Do you think the academics have changed a lot or was it known to be pretty tough.
ADOLPH: Oh, yeah. It was then. Yeah. It always has been.
KOCH: Great to be here. [?] [chuckles] Okay. The next thing I want to move on to is right aft...right after you and Harold got married, then you went and lived in Philadelphia and taught at a junior high. It was very interesting hearing about that experience and describing it a little bit and finding out what it was like.
ADOLPH: [chuckles] It was one of those times in my life that I...that I leave in the past and I only recall when I deliberately recall it. [Koch chuckles] It doesn't come back easily because it was a...a very different experience. I learned...I had experiences there which I, as I look back to, I could see that the Lord was pre...was giving me those experiences to prepare me for things I would have to do on the mission field. And...I was in a semi-administrative position by being the head of the cafeteria and...you know, personnel problems, that really didn't surface until the last year of the three years, but.... Harold was real supportive during those years even though he was swamped with medical school, but...I did have one real close friend among the teaching staff there. I can't remember what she taught. Was it math or English or something? But she was a real...a real gem. She came from a Lutheran background but really knew the Lord and she herself was a real good friend to me during...in fact we still correspond after all these years. But, no, I...I turned away and walked away from that school when my contract was over and we were moving to the Canal Zone and didn't even turn back and look at it.
KOCH: Were some of the difficulties coming from the Midwest and then to the East coast and finding kind of a different type of lifestyle and different kind of people there or...?
ADOLPH: That could have been part of it. It's funny. I come from a blue-collar family and yet I don't feel like I come from a blue-collar family. My parents never gave us that impression, that we were from a blue-collar family. But we didn't.... The students in the school district where I taught were definitely from the lower blue-collar family area and they weren't, you know, quite as sharp as those among whom I had grown up. Some of the kids were real nice, and there were others that were just really struggling because of emotional problems at home and...and these kind of things. And then our superintendent in the district went off and absconded [sic] funds and ended up in prison and.... So, it was...it was just a...an experience that...I learned a lot, but it doesn't chalk down in my background as one that I recall with much enthusiasm. [both laugh slightly] We made some good friends in the...among Harold's classmates in the medical school, and we had...some of those experiences were nice. And some of the outings that we had with them.
KOCH: You mentioned that there were some kind of experiences that prepared you for the mission field. What would be like one example of that?
ADOLPH: Well, I had...in being in charge of a...the cafeteria and having to take care of all the money and the books, which I had never done before, prepared me for being a hospital bookkeeper when I got out [unclear]. [laughs]
KOCH: Let's talk a little bit about Panama and the Canal Zone. Can you explain why you ended up there and...?
ADOLPH: Well, because my husband knew we were heading for the mission field, he wanted a type of...the broadest type of a medical training that he could get. And he got that at Gorgas Hospital in the Canal Zone, they did not have as many residents in their training program and the sur...general surgical residents were allowed to...to rotate through all the different specialties that surgery has any part of: neurology, ob/gyn, orthopedic, even in teeth [?], you name it and he was able to work [?] in all of those, because of the fact that there were not specialty residents in those particular rotations and that was why he definitely wanted to go to the Canal Zone, to get that type of training.
KOCH: So, how long did you spend there?
ADOLPH: We were there four years for his year of int...int...for his year of internship and then three years of his surgical residency.
KOCH: Was it hard to find friends down there, other Americans, or...?
ADOLPH: No. We were living in an American communi...community and we attended a community church, something like a Bible church, and we had some very good friends there. And we still are in contact with some of the medical personnel we...we met down there. We really enjoyed it there, very much.
KOCH: And then your next step was to North Carolina?
ADOLPH: That's right. Both of our children were born in Panama. And I was a full-time homemaker then, when we got down there. And I just...I helped to direct a little Vacation Bible School, and...and directed the choir in the church, and it was just a very positive time. We just really enjoyed those four years and we had an excellent pastor who really fed us from the Word. Again, that was preparing us for our North Carolina experience. [laughs] I'm going into a Southern Presbyterian church. I felt like I was going into a deep freeze. [laughs] Lovely people, but...[laughs again] ...quite a...quite a contrast.
KOCH: Was he in the...was Harold in the military then when you were in North Carolina?
ADOLPH: No. He was taking the last two years of his surgical preceptorship.
ADOLPH: He had a five-year program. Most of the guys have four now.
KOCH: So, I did read something about him being in the military and I wasn't sure if....
ADOLPH: That came after we were in...in North Carolina.
KOCH: When you went to Taiwan?
KOCH: Okay. Well, so he was...he was finishing more school in North Carolina....
ADOLPH: Well, it was basically a...a preceptorship where he was working under another surgeon. I mean, he was...he was not going to school. He was working. [chuckles]
KOCH: Do they still have a preceptorship? I've never heard of that before.
ADOLPH: I don't think they carry that type of a pro...program anymore, where they...the fellows went three years in one place and then in a regular hospital setting, in a regular residency program. And then they went out and worked for two years under a board-certified surgeon, and that's what he did. That was the program. And there again, when we were in the mountains of North Carolina, the other two surgeons that he was working with both knew where he was headed and just gave him free range, and he was doing everything. There again, there weren't any specialty surgeons. There wasn't even an ob/gyn down there to do Caesarean sections and so my husband was doing all the Caesarean sections, he was doing orthopedics, he was...he was doing emergency room work, he was doing all types of surgery, which was an excellent experience for going to the mission field.
KOCH: Did you see much of Harold during these years?
ADOLPH: Well, yeah, I...what was...I think it was better than what some of the residents were going through. Yeah, I think we had more family life than most of them did. At North Car...the time in North Carolina was...he was really very, very busy. He would leave at dawn just...I mean, we had breakfast together with the kids, and he would get home in time to say good-night to them as they were crawling in bed.
KOCH: Do you think that was hard for them?
ADOLPH: The children?
ADOLPH: I don't think they were all that much aware of it, really. They were...was it two and four (something like that) so I don't really think that they were quite that aware of it. When...when he did have days off we would...we would go out and go mountain-climbing or...or...hiking or go out riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway or something. We definitely, you know, went out on his days off to get away from the hospital.
KOCH: Where exactly was that hospital? What city was it in?
ADOLPH: Banner Elk, North Carolina. It's up in the northwest corner, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from Boone...Boone, North Carolina. In fact we were closer to one of the cities in Tennessee for shopping than we were to Boone. [both laugh slightly] But there's a better road in...in to there now. I guess it was there when we were there. [pauses] So we were there for two years.
KOCH: And then what prompted you to get to Taiwan?
ADOLPH: Well, that's when he was called into the military, when he finally had to do his military duty. He had been deferred up until that time.
KOCH: So he didn't have any choice in that matter [unclear]?
ADOLPH: He was sent a, you know, a form to fill out: where, "What choices would you have?" You know, "Where would you be interested in going?" And, I don't even remember if he put that down or not, but, of course, the navy knew that he had been born and raised in China so maybe that was part of the reason for sending...sending us to Taiwan. He was absolutely ecstatic, and I was like I had...the bottom had dropped out when I heard we were going to Taiwan. [laughs] And the verse that the Lord used to stabilize me was that one, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your heart and mind..." [Koch laughs at Adolph's stress on "and mind"] "...on Christ Jesus." [Philippians 4:6; Koch laughs] But again, we enjoyed our two years in Taiwan very much and it was, again, just another step in preparing me for the mission field. I mean, Harold was born and raised in the Third World. I was not. And, of course, the experience in Panama was the first step out of the country, and...but we lived in an American community. But we could go out into the Panamanian countryside (which we did) for vacations and these kind of things, but we could always come back within our little retreat. We lived in a semi-American community in Taiwan, but we had the Chinese all around us. But interestingly enough, we...I en...when I got there, I enjoyed it, and we had a very positive two years. And that was a good experience for the kids, too.
KOCH: What were some of the things that they especially liked, they did [unclear]?
ADOLPH: Oh, they liked...liked it when we'd go out on our bicycles, riding along in the rice patties and out into the countryside and...and the kids would ride on the back. Sometimes Harold would carry both of them. Sometimes he would take David and I would take Carolyn on the back of my bike and we would go out riding. And they enjoyed going to the serviceman's center with us on Sunday evenings 'cause there'd be other kids there. We'd go and watch the Chinese opera at the corner, down at the corner, a little...in the center of the little community. I'm sure that if you asked them, there would be things that they didn't like about it, but on the whole, I think they have a positive experience about it, too.
KOCH: What type of a church did you go to there?
ADOLPH: Well, very interestingly enough, the first Sunday we were there...we got in on a Saturday night and Sunday morning.... And we were put up in a hotel because the house we were going to live in wasn't ready, so we were put up in a hotel in Taipei, and the next morning, when we opened the window to listen to all the fights and sounds and everything else that was brand new around us, I could just see a glow coming over my husband's face 'cause he was hearing sounds that he knew.
ADOLPH: I mean, it'd been a long time since he'd heard Chinese, and then to hear it again, and he could already begin to pick up words here and there and get the drift of things. And...we knew that a former CIM [China Inland Mission] missionary who used to work in China that were [sic] friends of Harold's parents, we knew that he and his wife...they were the only people we knew on the island of Taiwan. Reverend and Mrs. Cappel [?]. They were with the Presbyterian church, and we knew that he was pastoring a church. Somehow we'd gotten the address of the church. We gave it to the taxi driver, and he just couldn't find it for love or money. It took him forever to finally get us to the church. He had to stop and ask people and everywhere else. It was clear across town. But we got there, and we walked up to the church, and were utterly astounded when the man who was greeting...the Chinese man who was greeting us, greeting people at the door, saw us walk up, and he walked up and took Harold's hand and said, "Hello, Harold. Welcome to Taiwan." It had been one of his professors from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School who had been over there as a visiting professor, and he remembered Harold from that...from the time he had been in medical school, and he attended this church. Well, we went into the Chinese service. I guess the Chinese service was going on, but I think then he took us down to the...to the English section. I mean, they had a Chinese service and an English service and they had an English Sunday school. So, rather than going to the base chapel, the military base chapel, we went to this Presbyterian church where we knew the pastor and his wife, and we had real good fellowship with them. And then in the evenings, Sunday evenings, we would go to the Christian Serviceman's Center.
KOCH: So did you meet most of your friends through the church or through...Christian Serviceman's Center or...?
ADOLPH: I would say both. We met a lot of missionaries through that...through the church, and made some good friends there. 'Course it was...I guess it was just natural for us to be...to gravitate toward the mission community because of the fact that Harold had grown up in the CIM [China Inland Mission] mission community and there was [sic] some people there that we knew, and bit by bit we met others from other mission boards. And...so I would say that the greater proportion of our friends were among the mission family, but we certainly still correspond with people that we met there that were among the medical personnel at the hospital where Harold worked.
KOCH: Was that helpful, to talk to missionaries and be around them a lot?
ADOLPH: Oh, yeah. I'm sure it was a benefit for me.
KOCH: Did that...kind of ease some of your fears or answer questions or...?
ADOLPH: Well, I don't know. I think it was just getting acclimated to the Third World culture and living in a Third World culture. But very interestingly, just about a month before we were to leave Taiwan, one of the dentists that worked at the hospital had taken a trip to visit his parents who were on the embassy staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and he had taken all sorts of pictures, and he...when he came back, they invited us to their home and showed us all these pictures from Addis Ababa. Well, when we arrived there, it didn't feel like there was anything strange about it,...
ADOLPH: ...from having seen those pictures. I mean, we recognized places.
KOCH: Well, that must have been kind of comforting.
ADOLPH: And we had been studying Amharic [national language of Ethiopia] with tape. We hadn't gotten very far on it, but we...we had got tapes from the [United States] Foreign Service. So, at least for our ears were accustomed to the...the sound of the language, even though we couldn't do more than just greet people and, you know, a few words.
KOCH: Were you interested in Ethiopia at that time in your life?
ADOLPH: Taiwan time?
ADOLPH: Actually, the Lord started...started speaking to my heart about Ethiopia when we were still in Panama. Harold's parents had been invited to go to Ethiopia for my father-in-law to speak to the mission doctors that worked in Ethiopia because one of the...because my in-laws supported one of those doctors, so it was through that contact that Harold's parents were invited to go out to Ethiopia and he, of course...they, of course, visited that doctor that they were...and family that they were supporting and so got a chance to see the country and the natives [?] and this kind of thing. And from there they came back directly to Panama to visit us before they went back to the United States, and that's when his dad came and shared with us all the needs that were there in the hospitals that were there and needed staff and those kind of things. So it was at that point that Harold felt that we should apply to the SIM [Sudan Interior Mission] to see about going to Ethiopia.
KOCH: Why did you select that Sudan Interior Mission over some of the other types?
ADOLPH: Part of that reason was our interest in our [unclear] interest, our very strong feeling of not wanting to send our children away to boarding school and so many mission boards require parents to do that, or put an awful lot of pressure on them to do so. And we knew that the China Inland Mission that Harold grew up with had that requirement. Even the Christian and Missionary Alliance had that requirement, and so when we inquired of the SIM, we wanted to know what their policy was about children. And while they do have boarding schools, and they certainly highly encourage the parents to send their children to boarding school, you know, it's not a flat, written...
ADOLPH: ...policy. And so we felt that we could at least proceed in that direction. And someone told us who also worked for the SIM, "You have to look at all the different mission boards available, see what their policies are, and you'll never agree with one one hundred percent. What you have to do is find one that you are comfortable with most of their policies." [laughs] Sort of like with a political party. [laughs]
KOCH: Yes. [unclear]. What kind of things did you have to go through to get accepted as a missionary with SIM?
ADOLPH: Well, we had to fill out a form, you know, with all our personal data, and write our testimony out, and then we were invited to.... Oh, we also had to take a Bible correspondence course because we did not have enough Bible to satisfy them from here at Wheaton. We had had some Bible. You know, Wheaton requires a certain amount of Bible, but they wanted us to have more, so we did work on our Bible correspondence course. I don't think we ever finished it, though. I think they're a little stickier now then they were back then. [laughs] So then we were invited to their candidates school in New York City for a three week stay for them to look us over and we to look them over and that was a rather traumatic time. [laughs]
KOCH: What do you do for three weeks to look each other over?
ADOLPH: Well, we were in classes in the morning where they explained the history of the mission and the doctrine...doctrinal statements and their policies. In the afternoon they had us working all over that headquarters building doing all the maintenance that needed to be done, I think, and helping in the kitchen and...you know, seeing how we would function in day to day tasks and working together and these kind of things. And then in the evening they would show us films of...that the SIM had put out and we had time for discussion and...and interaction that way. And then at the end, we were all brought in before the council, you know...couple by couple or individual if they were single and were talked to personally and then told whether they had been...we were accepted or not. I think the biggest fear for me during that time was that I would be the one who would be the cause for us to be turned down because I was so...you know, I still had that feeling, a certain amount of feeling that, "What am I doing here?" I remember when we sent the applications in and I dropped them in the mailbox. I felt like I had fallen into a rushing torrent and I couldn't get out. And yet I knew all along the way, all along, that that was my commitment and I had to go through with it. Now this is going sound strange to some people, you know, but I have went on to other gals, other wives, who have gone through these same feelings and same struggles, and they're on the mission field today because of their husbands, and the Lord has dealt with them that way. There are others, He calls them directly. I had to come to the point where I had to completely say, "Yes, Lord. I'll go on my own if need be." I had to come to that, but I got to candidates school and I was still struggling and this fear was in me, you know. "Will I be the one that will shatter all of Harold's dreams for being a full-time missionary." And then I...funny thing about it, I got sick. Instead of being able to be down helping him working around, I got sick and ended up sitting in my room. And it was, again, the second time in my experience, when it was like I was face to face with the Lord again. And it was just as clear as I'm talking to you. I was still struggling with this because of the mission policy that the wives and mothers put in at least a minimum of four hours a day on mission work. And I had been raised in a home where a mother was a mother. And this was a constant conflict in my...in my heart and mind. And I know others...other women go through exactly the same thing. And I...I just was torn, torn by this and the Lord knew that I was...I was still fighting this, and I just couldn't get any peace about it. And He just came to me in a very real way, and the voice couldn't have been any clearer than I'm talking to you, and He said, "Whatever assignment the mission gives you will not conflict with your role as wife and mother." I could never have gone without that kind of assurance. I knew I had to go, but that was what gave me the peace and the ability to go with a free heart.
KOCH: What were some of the...the things that you feared most about going to a Third World...World country?
ADOLPH: [pauses] I think all my life I have...I have struggled with fear, an abstract fear of the future. At times I still...I still struggle with it, not anywheres like I used to. That possibly was part of it. I felt that I myself was not spiritual, quote unquote, and then didn't have the kind of commitment that it would take to be a missionary. And I think that longstanding negative attitude probably still carried over in the struggle of going. And it just takes me longer to...to come around. I know I have to, but I...I just...I mean, Harold is ready to go like that. It probably takes me a little bit longer to have my mental facilities tuned the same way. [laughs]
KOCH: Then after you got accepted, you were...what type of things did you have to go through to raise support or language school, those kind of things?
ADOLPH: Well, we were in North Carolina when we went to language school...I mean when we went to candidates school and were accepted. And we were invited to come up to the Wheaton Bible Church to attend their missionary conference that fall, and they had agreed to pick up part of our support. Well, then it was...we didn't do any other deputation work at all, and then Harold had to go to Taiwan. We were there for two years and again we did no deputation except writing letters. And we were home sometime during that time, and we met with the mission leaders, and they were so desperate for doctors to get out.... They were so short of doctors that they wanted Harold out there just as fast as he could get out. And Harold was not all that interested, really, to take off a year from his medical work 'cause you get kind of rusty when you don't stay with it all the time, to go out and do deputation work. Well, the mission said that we could go ahead and go without our full support. Well, when we told our parents that, my parents particularly, my mother was just up in arms. She said, "That is not right!" Well, we went back to Taiwan, and as a confirmation that we were going where we should be going and doing what we should be doing, the Lord brought in all of that support without us doing any deputation. It all came through just mail contact, letter contact, and through other people who knew about us. And so when we left Taiwan, we headed straight for Ethiopia, we had all of our support pledged.
KOCH: By that time had your parents come around to the fact that they were supportive of this or...?
ADOLPH: Oh, you mean of us being missionaries?
ADOLPH: Oh. They were never against that. They were never against that.
KOCH: Did they feel more at ease then, obviously, when you went with...
ADOLPH: Oh, yes.
KOCH: ...full support?
ADOLPH: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yeah, they felt better about that. No, they have been our staunchest supporters. [both laugh]
KOCH: So what about the language? How did learning that go?
ADOLPH: Well, we got there two weeks late for language school because we took a month in route between Taiwan and Ethiopia. We wrote and asked, you know, "When does language school start?" so we could make our plans and we didn't hear and we didn't hear and we didn't hear and we didn't hear so we just went ahead and made our plans, and then we heard and we arrived two weeks late. But the fact that we had been listening to these tapes, I think, was a real advantage because at least our ear was tuned to the language, and we could at least distinguish word...where one word ended and another word began, even if we didn't know what the word was, which was a distinct advantage. So we were in language school for eight months in sort of motel-like living accommodations: two small rooms...well, a little bit bigger than this room [room 409 in the Billy Graham Center building on Wheaton College campus], the combination of the two of them. One was the bedroom where all four of us slept, the kids in bunk beds and us in two single beds that we just shoved together, and then we had this little tiny front room where there was a desk and a chair, and that was it. And we all ate together in a communal dining room and had outdoor bathrooms and...and one bathtub, I think, for the...maybe two...no, I think there was just one for the whole school. And then a common laundry...well, they had someone doing the laundry for us, but.... We spent most of the day either in class or working with an informant, studying the language, and that again was an experience we were glad to leave behind.
KOCH: How many people were...other people were involved in language school?
ADOLPH: Oh, we must have had a class of at least fifteen or twenty, altogether. Now, that included couples...
ADOLPH: ...as well as single people.
ADOLPH: Maybe there weren't that many, but.... I was trying to think. There might have been that many.
KOCH: Okay, now.... [pauses] What were some of the things you wish that you had known before you got to Ethiopia?
ADOLPH: [pauses, train can be heard going by in background] I think I would have had a less traumatic time had I been a more mature Christian. [pauses again] I'm still learning. [laughs]
KOCH: Did you have problems with...making mistakes with the culture at first?
ADOLPH: Yeah, a little. I would like to think that we didn't have as much problems as others because we had lived in Third World countries before. And I certainly did not feel uncomfortable.
KOCH: Uh-huh. What are the...some of the types of things that somebody who would be inexperienced would do that would really offend the people there? [unclear] with them?
ADOLPH: They...you...you never hand anybody something with your left hand. It's always with your right hand, and that is almost always true in the Third World. And apparently, that would be one of the biggest offenses. I really don't know why they didn't stress that to us more...to only use our right hand. Because where facilities are not available as we know them, hands have to be used...be used for those purposes...
ADOLPH: ...and therefore, you know, you eat with your right hand but not with your left hand. You do things with your...shake hands with your right...well, they did shake hands with both hands. That was another thing which...which was different and they bowed their head in greeting when they would greet a person. Of course, that was rather visible and you could eventually...you know, you could pick that up fairly quickly, but.... There were...there was one particular thing that my husband did totally...I mean, it was just a natural reaction, that he was told by one of his nurses that was just simply a no-no in that culture, and so he had to learn to stop doing it. I mean, it didn't offend me any because in our culture it's not an offense, but in that particular culture, it was. It had a different...totally different connotation. [both laugh] Oh dear.
KOCH: What were some of the things about the Ethiopians that shocked you? Anything in their culture, food or religion or...?
ADOLPH: [pauses] I don't think probably the word shocked is...is the right word.
KOCH: Okay, how about "surprised" maybe or something that...?
ADOLPH: Irritated us.
KOCH: Okay. [both laugh]
ADOLPH: Yes, there were things that irritated us, but, again, that was just a combination of culture and human nature. [laughs] Like the beggars. And you couldn't walk down the street in the capital without being hounded by some street vendor. And on Christmas, on their Christmas day, they would come to your house and...and want flowers. They didn't raise flowers themselves, but because the missionaries raised flowers, they wanted flowers to help them celebrate Christmas. Now I would say that's partially...the missionaries are to blame for that because...where did they get that idea?
ADOLPH: We...we may not use fresh flowers but we do use floral...
ADOLPH: ...floral decorations in our homes. We could not use Christmas trees in the particular area where we were because it was so much a part of their animistic Sat...demon worship, worshipping trees, so no way could we bring a tree into the house, but we used other...we used everything else. I mean, I strung lights up around the fireplace and...and I used candles and...and plastic wreaths and the manger scene and, you know, this kind of thing so...and a Christmas-colored tablecloth. So there was Christmas around the house...
ADOLPH: ...even without the tree. And there's...just some of their...their health habits, you know, were a little disgusting or...but that...that's where you have to learn to overlook what's on the outside and...and let the Lord...love the person that's inside.
KOCH: What are some of those types of health things that would bother Americans?
ADOLPH: Well, they never use handkerchiefs, and the whole countryside is the facilities [toilet]. The Muslims would chew khat and spit it. Always had a wad of this in their jaw. I guess their...their lack of showing gratitude. Their...their just expecting you to do it.
KOCH: Is that only directed towards Americans or would that be something...how they would treat each other, just not treat each other with gratitude?
ADOLPH: I don't know how to answer that one.
KOCH: Well, I'm just...what I'm trying to say is...would they...if somebody...another Ethiopian did something for them, would they not be grateful to that person?
ADOLPH: They would be ingratiated to them in that they would have to pay back the favor.
KOCH: Is it...is that the same type of reaction they had towards a missionary or...?
ADOLPH: No, it didn't seem...it seemed like...if...you know, if you were white, you know, it was expected of you, and yet the people were very gracious that we worked among them and very friendly for the most part...very lovely people, especially when they came to know the Lord and were really born-again Christians. They were very sensitive and...and lovely people.
KOCH: What were some of the typical Ethiopian meals, the type of things they'd eat?
ADOLPH: Well, they...the particular tribe among which we lived ate a lot of corn on the cob, hard corn on the cob, [Koch chuckles] or they would grind it and make corn cakes. They would eat sweet potatoes, pumpkins...only occasionally would they have eggs or chicken, and meat only for special occasions, but the national food which eventually filtrated down into the different tribal groups was a great big pancake. So many cultures have pancakes of one form or another. You go from the Scandinavians to the Mexicans to the Indians. Everybody has some kind of a fried...fried bread like a pancake, and they made great big, huge pancakes on a clay griddle that was made from fermented batter. It had been left to sit four days...three, four days until it was very sour, and then they would fry it. They wouldn't turn it over. They would just simply bake it on one side, poured it out of a tin can, round, round, round, pick it up, poke it up, and baked it that way. And they would...it would keep for, you know, two, three days before it would start to spoil. Then they would make a real hot stew, whether it was beef or chicken or lamb. Usually the meat stews were hot. The vegetable stews were usually mild, mildly spiced. Potatoes, carrots, various kinds of vegetables they might have and they also used a lot of lentils, peas, dried peas and dried beans. They would make stew out of that. And then you take this pancake. You tear off a piece and reach into the pot and pick up whatever the pancake can pick up and put it in your mouth. You don't use silverware. And they usually serve it on a low basket table, a woven table-like thing with a large base under it, and it had a lid on it so they'd pile up all the mijeta [?] on there (that was the pancake), put the stew...scoop the stew in the middle, and then, you see, they would cover it to keep the flies off of it until you were ready to eat. They had a cover that...that fit that, matad [?]. It was called a matad[?], and then you would sit around on the ground or small, low, three-legged stools, and everybody'd dip in...they'd tear off a piece of mijeta [?] and reach into the stew.
KOCH: Well, I'm gonna.... Oh, dear. I thought we were....
END OF TAPE