Just Between Us Missionary Wives—No. 4

Adjusting Ourselves to Conditions

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

Piety and simplicity go hand in hand. Missionaries' wives and ministers' wives should be examples and set the ball rolling toward more simplified living. Many wives fuss so much over their cooking and house­keeping that there is time for neither mission­ary work nor soul culture. When the General Conference president or the division committee members come to our homes, we stretch every nerve to have every detail perfect. This is good; but I believe we should not wear our­selves to a frazzle, so that we will be laid up for days afterward. This is neither religion nor sense.

I remember one good wife in India who al­ways said: "What is good enough for my hus­band is good enough for any visitor I may have." One day she unexpectedly had some distinguished guests. She had been treating the sick in the mission dispensary all morning. The little schoolboy who helped her had made mashed potatoes and gravy for lunch, and she had baked bread in the morning before she went out. Without apology, she invited her guests to partake of the meal, and I know they appreciated being treated as members of the family.

Food is sometimes a great problem in the mission field. One dear missionary wife just could not get used to the food of the country; so most of the family's food came out of im­ported tin cans. Now, a missionary's salary does not suffice for such luxuries every day, and consequently the family could not live on their salary. If the food of a country keeps alive the people who live there, I am sure it can keep missionaries alive, too. And if there is no older missionary in the field to teach the newcomers, then I hope the young missionary wife will experiment with all the foods in the country until she can make palatable meals, supplementing only occasionally with imported foods. In India, there is a large variety of na­tive greens that can be made very tasty, and also a variety of pulses and lentils. Then there are the tropical fruits—the papaya, the guava, and the custard apple.

Now a word about servants. Nearly every missionary can better afford to have a servant than not to have one. Such things as wash­ing clothes and cleaning house can be taught quickly to the people of the country, and cook­ing, too—although I don't believe it is well to leave the entire food question in the hands of servants. Neither do I believe it is good to leave our children largely in the care of serv­ants. Patience is a virtue that usually gets exercized every day in dealing with native servants. Don't expect too much, but praise when praise is due. A well-trained servant is a great help to a missionary's, wife, and the time spent in training him will be repaid a thousandfold. During my stay in India I have trained, only three, but they are today a joy to others. And when the Master of the har­vest comes, will He not also reward the faith­ful servants who have enabled us to have more time to spend in work for others?

When my children were babies I taught in the training school every day of the school year. My husband had no Adventist teachers to help him in those days, and I was glad to assist on the school staff, which consisted of two orthodox Brahmans and ourselves. I could not have taught one hour in that school had it not been for the faithful native sister who looked after the babies in my absence. Look­ing back, I wish I had been more loving, more appreciative, more thoughtful, more kind to this dear soul. We travel the way but once, and if we would let God have all there is of us, He would make our lives sublime and polish our characters after the similitude of a palace.

The thirty-first chapter of Proverbs (verse 'off.) has often been my guide when I con­sider my duties as a wife. I read it often to myself and to my daughters. Yesterday I read it to one of the teachers here. "Yes," she said, "the sixteenth verse is my mother's verse, and she did exactly what the verse said —bought a field and planted a vineyard." Now, planting a vineyard is not usually a woman's work, but why not? In every place in India where our missionaries are located, gardens have sprung up. But who is to look after the planting when the missionary is away most of the time? My advice is, plant a garden, even if you know you are only to re­main in the place a short time, not even long enough to enjoy the fruit of it. According to the laws of Manu, the great Indian law­giver, someone else will enjoy the fruit of the trees you plant, and will rise up and call you blessed.

Sometimes when you have planted a garden and worked over it until the fruit of your labor is just about ready to pick, you come out one fine morning and find it ravaged and gone. The bad boy of the village or a thoughtless, hungry coolie has helped himself to it. Can you smile and say, "Never mind, they needed it worse than I did," and go on and plant another? Missionaries often have such experiences.

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." This verse fits in well when the question of na­tionality arises. My belief is that a missionary should have no flag except the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. Once we have answered the call of God to be His ambassa­dors, we must be content to be pilgrims and strangers in the earth, looking forward to a home whose builder and maker is God. We must take root in our adopted country by learning its language and customs, and then forget comparisons. Comparisons are odious. What if we do think our native country is the best under the sun? The people for whom we labor think theirs is also, and they have every right to think so.

Let us forget our native country as much as possible and look for all the good we can in our new country. At first we may think, "There is not much good here," but I have often wondered what Jesus thought of this old world when He laid off the glory of heaven itself and came here as a babe. I have often wondered if it did not look like a gruesome spectacle to Him—this old sin-cursed earth. I have often thought how tired He must have been of those noisy crowds who always thronged around Him. I have often wondered how He could touch those repulsive-looking lepers of which the East has so many. "Oh, 'twas love, wondrous love," we sing in the song. Love made Paul say, "God hath made of one flesh all nations," and it made John the beloved say, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony ; and loved not their lives unto the death."

Here we are in India. Most of us are getting old. We need younger men and younger women who are not only willing to come, but willing to keep on learning even while they themselves are teaching others the way of life. I am sure there are many young men in the ranks who will step forward with Isaiah of old and say: "Lord, here am I; send me," and likewise many an Esther who will bravely arise and say : "I will go in unto my lord the king, and if I perish, I perish."

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

December 1938

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