Monday, August 29, 2011

The Screaming Train

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
Describing a train to a child who has never seen or heard one is like giving instructions to a blind person how to tie his shoes.

The judge who set us free told me about a no cost refugee train that could take us to Siam. The children had to be ready to board first thing in the morning. My job: prepare one hundred children for the trip.

I called the boys and girls together.  "Tomorrow you won't have to walk to the mountains." 

Smiles burst on their faces. "Yeah! But, how will we get to Siam, Ai-weh-deh?"

"Does anyone know what a train is?" I looked at faces ranging from three-years-old to sixteen-years-old. The older ones had heard about trains, but didn't really know what they were. There were no trains in Yang Cheng or anywhere near.

I bent my elbows and pushed my arms next to my waist then moved my elbows in a circle next to my body.  "Chooooooo.  Chooooooo!"  Giggles sprang into the air.  "Chooooooo.  Choooooo. This is the sound of a train. It has wheels that go round and round like this." I moved my elbows in a circle again and took baby tapping steps in a straight line.

"We'll ride with other refuges in big boxes. The wheels will move the boxes toward Siam."  The little ones ran next to me.  "Line up behind me like a long crocodile and copy me."  The rest of the children jumped to their feet to join in the train game.  We played pretend train until bedtime.

"Children, we need to go to sleep early to be ready for the train first thing in the morning.  The conductor won't let any dirty faces or hands sit on the train. You must show me your clean hands and faces before we walk to the platform."

The children jumped like kangaroos to the water. "We'll wash all the dirt away."

After morning breakfast I blew my whistle to call the children. Using the older children as helpers I put the boys and girls into three groups. "We must watch for each other. Stay with your group."

We marched in three squirmy crocodile lines to the train platform and saw the train had not yet arrived. I looked down the track and watched a black engine racing toward us. "Here comes the train."

At first the children hopped and skipped. But as the train drew closer and the sound grew louder their happiness sank to fear.  The train rumbled on the tracks, the whistle screamed, the boxes clanked, and the children fled holding their hands over their ears.

Boys and girls scampered behind rocks and trees. Some ran back to the village and hid in the mission. The train came to a stop then released a loud pshshshshshs.

"Children, come back!"  Those frightened little ones didn't know what to do. I first searched for the older boys and girls then sent them to find the little ones. We found girls hiding in cupboards in the mission and boys hiding behind chairs. They hid in hay bales in the field and behind trees. Fortunately the conductor waited until we found the last little one.

I drew each child close to give them a hug. "You're OK. We need to make a crocodile line and go to the train. I will stay with you the whole time."  I blew the whistle to start our walk again. "Let's sing a song to help us march." We sang one of their favorite Bible songs until we reached the platform.

I looked at the long train car with no seats before us.  "We'll stay together in this train box. There should have plenty of room." The older boys and girls helped the younger children onto the train as I counted them. 

One hour later, the train pulled away from the platform. I was thankful we could ride a train. We had walked for nearly a month over mountains and valleys. A rest would be good. 

We should arrive at Siam soon. The children will have schools, clothes, and food, and a warm place to sleep. Thank you Jesus.

Gladys Aylward

P.S.  Come back next week to read about the fire on the train.

Photo courtesy of Bible Visual Images


  1. What is Glady's favorite song?
    Could they sit down or did they need to stand in the boxcar?
    These stories are awesome!!

    Mrs. McConnell's class

  2. Sorry, I don't know her favorite song, but based on what I've learned I would say it is a hymn like Onward Christian Soldiers.
    The children sat in the boxcar, on the floor.
    Thanks for stopping by, Mr.s McConnell and class.


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