Gladys Aylward's Thoughts
|photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com|
Once the little ones were asleep, I called the older ones together. "You're old enough to follow important instructions. Listen to me carefully. Early in the morning, while it is still dark, I'll wake you to help carry the little ones to the train. We must remain absolutely silent.
"We want to let the little ones sleep as long as possible to keep them quiet. The train official said Japanese soldiers sit on the other side of the river and listen for voices coming from the train. If they hear sounds, they shoot."
I sighed. "He said, sometimes they shoot even if they don't hear a sound. We must all lay on the coals, no one may sit or move about." I set my hand on Teh's shoulder. "Rest now. I'll be waking you soon."
Their eyes had grown dark and their faces thin. But their hearts had glowed with warmth. "Ai-weh-dah, you're going to sleep, aren't you? Who will wake you?"
"God will. I will dose, but be ready to wake you in time. Don't worry."
Each one lunged toward me to give a hug. "We love you Ai-weh-dah. Don't worry. We'll help keep the little one's quiet."
They nestled down between the weeds in the field with the other children and were soon asleep.
I stared up at the stars and marveled. God has blessed me more than I could have ever asked.
A moment later, or so it seemed, I realized I had fallen asleep. We had slept in the field next to the train tracks to hear the engine start. Good that we had, for the engine started me awake. I hurried to the older ones and shook them till they woke.
I held my finger to my lips then pointed to the train. They shook their heads then rose. They worked with the spirit of teens who had a full night sleep and with gentle, loving arms of a parent to carry the children to the train then lift them on top of the coal.
I packed all the mats and placed them on the train. The conductor hardly noticed our work. Before the train brakes released their pshshshshsh we had cozied down on top of the heaps of coal, flat as pancakes.
I assigned a place for each older child to be near several young ones to keep them quiet and low if they woke. The train rolled out of the station and wisked us toward our destination.
The wind blew across the tops of our bodies while the train rocked us to sleep. The children snored in rhythem with the train for hours.
Long after the sun rose, the children woke like little pieces of popcorn popping sporatically in a popper. The older ones reached an arm out and softly reminded the little ones to be quiet and to stay flat.
After a while the train swooped away from the river. I let the children talk for a short time. They pointed at each other and laughed at their black faces and arms. One pointed at me and giggled. "Ai-weh-dah, your face is black and so are your clothes."
A short while later the train stopped. We climbed down from the train, full of black coal dust. The conductor walked back to us and laughed. "Well, now. I wish you could bathe in the river, but that would be dangerous. I understand you want to go to Siam. That is a three day journey from here."
Only three days left. Thank you God.
Come join our journey next week.