Monday, July 11, 2011

Dancing, No Place to Sleep

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward’s Thoughts

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
By the end of our first day’s walk to the Yellow River, the children grew quite hungry and tired. Fortunately we came to a village I’d known quite well. I’d hoped someone would provide a place for us to sleep. 

I was always thankful for God’s mercy and help, but sometimes His answers surprised me. One hundred dirty, tired, and hungry children could have discouraged almost anyone, I suppose. I started singing a song to help the little ones. They danced a few more steps forward.

Near the end of the village an old man greeted us. “Where are you going?”

I bowed to him. “Over the mountains to the Yellow River.”

He shook his head. “You’re taking all these children there? What about the Japanese?”

I smiled at his concern. "We'll go over the mountains.”

By now all the children gathered near to listen. He looked at their sweet faces then smiled. “You may rest inside. No one else is here at this time.”

Usually I’d be happy about such an offer. But this invited us to sleep in a Buddhist temple filled with rats.  I didn’t sleep well that night.

The next morning the children sprang from their mats, filled their stomachs with rice and skipped out to the road.  The second night we couldn’t find a village. We huddled between rocks to stay warm from the cold wind.

By the third day, their cloth thin shoes had worn through. Their feet blistered and bled.  We’d reached the edge of Yang Cheng’s territory which meant the men who came to help had to leave. Our food sack had little left. I wondered if taking the children to the other side of the river truly was a good idea.

The older boys grew restless. They took some chalk, ran ahead and left special messages like “This Way,” and “Keep Going” for us. The little ones loved this new game.

Shortly before nightfall, the older boys ran to us shouting, “Soldiers!”  I didn’t know if they meant Japanese or National.  I grabbed my whistle and prepared to give the signal to hide. I didn’t want to risk losing the children in the woods, but I didn’t want them injured.

Before I had a chance to blow, a platoon of national soldiers poked through the woods. What a relief! “It’s all right children. You may come.” 

They giggled toward the soldiers. Who could resist?  The soldiers scooped up the little ones and gave them hugs. They invited us to their supper. Within a short while the children stuffed food into their mouths until they couldn’t eat another bite. I must admit, I ate more than I’d eaten in a long time, too. 

As our meal ended, a scary sound came from the sky. I had learned the sound Japanese airplanes made. The children had known how to hide since the first air attack. I found a nearby rock and squeezed between a crack. I searched for any child who might not have hidden in time. None in sight.

The planes flew low, searching for targets then disappeared over the mountains.  Once they’d left I called for the children. To my surprise and delight, the soldiers popped up from the tall grass and raised the little ones high in the air for me to see.

The first days of our journey already proved to be an adventure, but also proved our Heavenly Father would take care of us.

Come back next week to continue our journey with us.

Gladys Aylward

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