Monday, January 17, 2011

Thrown Off the Train-Gladys Aylward

By Mary Vee

Missionary Mondays 

Gladys Aylward's thoughts...

Well, this wasn't a problem I expected to deal with at all. 

photo courtesy of

I watched the train pull away from the station without me.  

The conductor didn't escort me off the train, as a lady should be treated. Oh, no no no. He nearly pushed me down the stairs while jabbering something in Russian with a blasting voice. I think his message could have been translated, "What kind of a crazy person are you? Women can't ride on a train with Russian soldiers."  Well, perhaps his message might have been a teensey-bit meaner.

A ghost town would have had more people.  

A cow mooed from somewhere off to my right. A few chickens clucked from the barn on the other side of the tracks. I tried to open the station door, but it was locked.  

My only choice: drag my belongings back to the last train station to board another train, this time without Russian soldiers. I might have walked the 30 miles in 8 hours, but carrying my kettle, bedroll, cans of food, and the few pounds I had left, made it difficult. I heard sounds of war not far away. God will protect me. My kettle and the few cans of food clanked loud enough to wake a dead animal. At least it seemed like it. I kept a sharp eye for soldiers.

I didn't want to sleep on the side of the road. Perhaps a thief or soldier might come to harm me., Instead I continued trudging through the snow and cold back toward the last train station. After walking quite a ways, the freezing wind wouldn't let me take another step. I used my things to protect me until the wind calmed then continued walking.

Perhaps I should have studied a few Russian phrases before leaving England. It seemed wise at the time to spend every free moment studying Chinese and the culture. But how could I have known I'd be thrown off a train in the middle of Russia? I remained confident God would take care of me.

To pass the time and keep my mind off the cold, I hummed a few church tunes, and said few Bible verses to the beat of my steps.

I arrived at the train station in the middle of the night and was thankful to find a bench for sleeping. The next morning I boarded another Trans Siberian train to China.

The rest of the trip across Russia to the last train station in a city called Vladivostok kept the passengers ducking low from gunfire and other war activity. I must admit, the Vladivostok city sign brought a tear of happiness.  

photo courtesy by verbaska
I booked a night in a hotel and planned to board the train to China in the morning. After supper, an Russian investigator knocked on the door. He asked me for my passport. I gladly handed it to him and watched his face.  His eyebrows lowered. "Miss you are machinist?"  

He must not understand the English words, I thought. "No, I'm a missionary."

He pulled my passport further away from me. "No you will be machinist in Russia."

I realized he planned to keep my passport. If he did, I might never get it back. The inspector stood alone at the door. I snatched my passport from his hand, push past him, and ran as fast as I could out of the hotel.

There I stood, a block away wondering what to do. The train station would be guarded. China stood only a short distance away, but the guards wouldn't let me walk across the border. Would I be trapped in Russia?

I'll tell you more next week.


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