Just Between Us Missionary Wives

Just Between Us Missionary Wives—No. 2

Love Both Sees and Overlooks

By MRS. E. M. MELEEN, Wife of a Missionary in India

I like Benjamin Franklin's homely advice, "Keep your eyes wide open before mar-. riage, and shut them afterward." "Bear and forbear" must be the rule even with the most saintly people. "Love is blind" is a true saying, and I am also thinking that the true love of God in the heart of a missionary's wife will make her blind, as it were, to the many faults of the people for whom she and her husband are laboring. There was that old village woman who liked my comb so much that every time she came to visit me she used if, and I had to wash it after she was gone. But she never borrowed it after I had made her a present of a comb. It was not my comb she liked particularly, it was a comb like mine.

Then there was the old woman who would sit on the doorstep half a day at a time, think­ing that I had nothing to do but listen to her recount her troubles. There was that brother who just would not stick to any job we helped him get, and whose family would have been in want most of the time if the church had not helped. And there were those high-caste people who came to visit, and opened all the cupboard doors to see what was in the cup­boards.

I remember, too, what a time Sister Will­mott once had to get a baby buried. Because its mother, a widow, was a Seventh-day Ad­ventist and we had not purchased a burying plot in that community, every one refused to sell a spot big enough for the grave. It is so hot in India that a body has to be buried the day of the death. Sister Willmott went from one official to the other, from one village elder to another. Nobody wanted to give space to a Christian. Finally, after she had entreated a native Christian pastor of another denomina­tion, with tears, he sold a little space in his graveyard, and the baby was buried after mid­night. Brother Willmott was hundreds of miles away at the time, working with his col­porteurs, and here was his wife, caring for the home and the widows and the orphans. And she raised up a strong church in that place. Such is the love of a true missionary's wife. She sees in the people precious souls for whom Christ died, no matter how many faults they have.

Just now I am watching a potential young missionary couple in love. They are engaged and are soon to be married. I notice they are together every moment they can spare. They strive to please each other, and they al­ways have many sweet things to say to each other. Whenever they can, they hold each other's hands, and there is a light in their eyes and a smile on their lips. How eagerly they are looking forward to the day when they will have a home together.

"Come back to your first love." "Do the deeds of your first love." "Remember your first love." How often ministers use these ex­pressions ! If we missionary wives stay close to God, if we plan on a definite time each day to be together with Him, then our love to God and man will increase and grow into a hun­dred deeds of love where there are now only a few. God so loved that He gave us His greatest treasure. We, too, would love more, if we gave more. If we would truly love, then we must pour out ourselves in service for God and man.

"Being rooted and grounded in love" is ex­perienced only by those who let God hold their hand. God says: "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles." If God holds our hand, service in His vineyard will be the greatest joy. We will love to do the smallest task. Teaching that kindergarten class or that reading course group, finishing that garment for the Dorcas Society, or giving that talk to the young people, will be done cheerfully.

And the man, too, to whom we have given our heart and pledge, we shall love enough to go with him, if need be, even to the ends of the earth in God's service. Brother Jesperson, our first missionary to Palestine, paid a beau­tiful tribute to his wife when he said :

"We were newly married when we set out for Pales­tine. The last stretch of the journey was made by sailing in a little boat from Cyprus to Jaffa. There was only one little room to crawl into—and it was dirty and smelly. The sea was rough, and often washed over our little craft, wetting the few boxes that held our belongings. The food was impossible.

The men on-board were rough, unkempt sailors, and my wife and I were the only passengers. But there was not a word of complaint, not a look of reproach from my wife. Not once did she betray that she was afraid. She only gripped my hand harder and looked up into my face with a smile, saying: 'It is all right with you here holding my hand.' That' rst experience with her proved to me that she was the right kind of wife, a true missionary wife; and the more I live with her the more I know it."

Love and courage go hand in hand. How well I, remember my first initiation to jungle life. There were Brother and Sister Shepard and baby, Dr. Olive Smith, Brother Tinworth, my husband and our baby, and I. It was in the days before there was a railway between Tinnevelly and Nazareth. We were going to hold a general meeting in Nazareth, and had to travel by bullock carts. We traveled at night becaitse it was cooler then. There was a caravan of about twelve carts. My baby and I had a cart to ourselves, and I tried to sleep on a blanket on the straw-covered floor of the springless cart. But sleep was im­possible. The drivers of the carts sang, shouted to the bullocks, and at times ran races with each other. In most places, however, the road was too sandy for races; for which I was thankful.

At one time I became ill at ease because our cart had become separated from the rest. The driver looked rough and wild to me. The cart had a way of getting into a rut on only one side, and seemed to tip at a dangerous angle. I could speak but a few stammering words to the driver in his own tongue, which I was just learning. But my baby slept on peacefully in my arms, unaware that we were alone in the jungle with a wild-looking man. Did I say alone? No, not alone. God was there. He spoke through my slumbering babe to me. He said: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." And right there I lifted my heart to God and said: '0 God, let Thine arms encircle me;" and I felt safe.

 

Probably there is no braver, no more out­standing missionary wife living today than Alma Wiles of the South Seas—she who nursed her husband in his illness, helped to make his coffin, directed the digging of his grave, and there, alone among the had-been cannibals, buried the man she loved. She is indeed a heroine. After the funeral she gath­ered up as many belongings as she could con­veniently carry, and walked for miles through jungles to carry the news of her bereavement. How many missionary wives today could be equally brave under the same circumstances ? I believe Sister Wiles must have often grasped God's hand tighter by faith, and said: "Thy strength is sufficient for me."


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By MRS. E. M. MELEEN, Wife of a Missionary in India

August 1938

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