One of the problems which confront the missionary upon arriving in a new field is the making of friends among the constituency. To solve this problem, we decided to dedicate our home and piano to the Lord's work. It is surprising how the Lord blesses when we consecrate our all to His service.
One of the first things we did upon arrival in Minahasa (Celebes Islands, N. E. I.) was to organize a music class. One night a week was given to the singing of sacred hymns and such religious classics as we had in our musical library. The young people enjoyed these evenings immensely, and we enjoyed our contacts with them. A piano is a marvelous instrument for winning hearts and confidence, and for contributing to the joys and pleasures which our limited recreational program permits. Native people love to sing, and they sing well. Therefore it was no sacrifice in the long run, because that which we had dedicated gave us some of our largest returns in happiness and the satisfaction of serving the Master in another field than Bible study.
Another thing we did was to organize a Bible-teacher training class with the idea that many of our lay members should become proficient in teaching our doctrines. In this class we studied comparative religions, and when any text came up which was a subject of controversy, we gave the doctrinal positions of the various groups of Protestant and Catholic bodies, so that our young people were acquainted with many different opinions when we got through with the studies on those subjects. All these subjects were clarified, of course, when our particular method of Bible study showed the relationship of those texts to others on the same subject. It was an eye opener to many of our native people who had never had the opportunity to know what other religious groups taught. I am sure that after this type of training they are now much stronger and more able to cope with the problems of other churches, when they go out as colporteurs. The Lord was with us and greatly blessed us as we met each Thursday evening for two and a half hours of study.
Another phase of the work of contacting the people in our own home was our attempt to meet the food problem as we found it in our field. Most of the people there are meat eaters, and as we itinerated among them, they felt obliged to give us chicken dinners. Since we preferred to live as vegetarians, however, we met this problem by giving some cooking classes in our home training courses, in which we utilized only the native foods. At the home of one of the Protestant women, whose home was used as a hotel, we taught them how to make meat substitutes. On one occasion when the cooking class was given at this place, there was a large crowd of non-Adventists present. That day the food was very tasty, and many of the people were intensely interested.
As we went to the larger churches during our semiannual visits, we devoted several days to general health lectures and the relation between spiritual living and health, and gave cooking lessons also. The result of all this was that a fine group of Chinese were reached, and we were invited to carry on these classes in the homes of some of the most aristocratic Chinese families in the island. The war has interfered with the program we hoped to carry on in these homes, but we are hoping and praying that sometime we will be permitted to go back to complete some of the work which we started just before the war broke out.
A dental clinic was operated at our home each morning from seven to twelve. When you consider that there was only one dentist in all of north Minahasa, and that his prices were prohibitive to the simple native people, you can imagine how much this type of service was appreciated. The people came in hordes with toothache, dental caries, and pyorrhea. We charged nothing for services rendered in this dental clinic, except a fee of fifteen cents (native money) for the medicines used. In the few months the clinic was operating hundreds were treated, and many were sent away rejoicing, with a knowledge of how to care for their teeth, and also the consolation that they would not lose them because of calculous deposits.
Some women of the better families who had their teeth repaired insisted on giving a large donation, which was turned over to the Ingathering. The leading government officers among the native classes also came to have their teeth cared for, and the prestige of their presence was a great blessing to the cause. While their salaries were large compared to other native salaries, they were not sufficient to pay high prices for dental service. The clinic, therefore, was a great instrument in opening the hearts of government officials to our workers, and we are sure that if we are permitted to return, we will not encounter some of the difficulties which we have had in the past.