Those Who "Stay and Wait"

A personal testimony.

By Mrs. W. E. PHILLIPS, Takoma Park, D.C.

It is Friday night, and I am alone. Not for two months have I seen the face of the one so dear to me—my husband. This Sabbath eve siX thousand miles of water separate us—and still another month and a half, at least, must pass before we can hope to be united. Yet we comforted each other before he left with, "This will be only a short trip!" Friday night is always the time that I am most lonely when left by myself. So, somehow, this eve­ning I fell to thinking of those other women, my sisters. Whose husbands travel so much in the. interest of our world-wide mission work.

Some time ago a group of us, all wives of workers living. in Takoma Park, were gathered for a friendly get-together. There were about a dozen of us, and the husband of each pres­ent was away on an overseas trip. One was in China, one in India, another in Denmark, still another in Peru; and so it went. There were hut two in the group whose husbands were traveling in the same country. In truth, they had gone "into all the world." And we began talking—as women will—when this hus­band would be home, how long that one had been away, of things that had happened to us while they had been absent.

Listening to these women tell of their lives as wives of traveling workers, I began to cal­culate what the total number of years would be that we had actually lived alone, since we had taken our husbands "for better or for worse." Altogether, I calculated that that group of women who were gathered together had lived alone a total of almost a hundred years! And a hundred years is a long time in any language! Yet this hardly gives a true picture, for at least two of that number of women were new at living alone; so they cut down the average of some of the "old timers."

One woman, the wife of a prominent min­ister in our ranks, reminisced, "I remember one year when _______________  was home only two weeks." Another went on, "That was the year my husband went to Australia (or China or Africa, I have forgotten which). We were together less than a month that year."

And as I listened to the months, yes, years. of separation, I, too, could well remember one five-year period when my husband was at home only about seven months. Yet my lot has been a fortunate one. My friends are likely to re­mark, "You are lucky. You always go with your husband." They say this because, in the twenty years we have lived together, I have made two long trips with my husband. These two trips have made a lasting impression on my friends. They seem prone to forget the months and months that I have spent alone when I have stayed behind. Still, I do grant that I have been fortunate.

The work and responsibilities borne by dif­ferent husbands of the group came into review during that afternoon we spent together. One man had experienced hardships in traveling in the high altitudes of the Andes. Another was suffering from the cold in a country in which it was hard to find a warm place. The heat of the tropics was telling on yet another. The trips taken by our men are truly for the good of the cause we all love so well, and are not, as some are likely to think, a kind of combination vacation and educational tour. And so we all were wishing our husbands well, and entering into one another's feelings of anxiety over their welfare. Not that one of the women present lacked faith in God's care for her loved one. But the heart of a wife will yearn over the well-being, happiness, and safety of her companion.

Tonight, I think back to that group and to many other such groups here and in all parts of the world. My heart salutes those sister hearts that often ache in loneliness, yet willingly, for we "count it a privilege here His cross to bear." It is often said, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Would I be taking too much liberty with this phrase should I voice the hope that they also serve who only "stay" and wait?

We all admire and acclaim those who go "forth and conquer." It takes courage, abil­ity, and a wealth of experience to meet the problems that confront our leaders in these days of perplexity and chaos. May God grant them a double portion of His Holy Spirit ! We read with profound interest of the work being done among the peoples of the earth.

Our hearts are thrilled by our story of mis­sions around the world. "How marvelous," we say, "that so many accepted the truth in such and such a place." A division paper tells of the great help Brother ___________  has given the field during his visit there. Another re­ports the plans laid for the advancement of the work in that section during the last con­ference session. It is thrilling to the heart of each Seventh-day Adventist.

But back of each visit, back of each confer­ence session, is a story that in the eyes of men is not at all thrilling or wonderful. Just the story of staying and waiting and praying and weeping, for we are so human! Each worker who makes these visits leaves a woman whose body stays at home, but whose spirit is ever at his side. It takes courage to wait for the letters to come, when sometimes it means a wait of nearly six weeks. During these long waits we sometimes wonder, "Do I really have a husband?" "Does he still love me?" And sometimes the heart leaps almost from the breast if a telegraph boy is sighted at the door. A feeling of faintness comes over one if the radio announcer tells of dangers in the country in which the loved one is traveling.

Yes, it takes courage and patience and ability to keep steady, to bear the cross of those who stay and wait.

Perhaps the outstanding characteristics of the many women I know who wait at home for absent husbands are their eagerness to do their part faithfully, their' efforts to keep cheerful, to write encouraging letters to the absent one, to be true witnesses for Christ in their community, to be real "doorkeepers" in the work of the Lord. At times the cares of life seem all to meet us face to face, times when we so feel the need of someone with whom to counsel over the emergencies that will arise. Then the concluding lines of this little poem give a com­forting thought:

"Never, I believe, in all the way

Will burdens bear so deep,

Or pathways lie so steep,

But we can go, if by God's power

We only bear the burdens of the hour."

It is still Friday night, and I am still alone, but now there is a song in my heart. Thoughts of the love of my Saviour in my mind; thoughts of the agony He suf­fered for me, the hours of loneliness He en­dured that I might have eternal life. There is, too, the remembrance of my sisters—those other women who are also so much alone. Their lives of sweet trust and confidence in­spire me to new endeavor and to new consecration to service. And I send a "Good night, dear; God bless you," across the miles to my absent one as I breathe a prayer of thankful­ness—thankfulness that God is good and that He has given me the trust of being one of those who also serve, though they only "stay and wait."

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By Mrs. W. E. PHILLIPS, Takoma Park, D.C.

February 1941

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