Monday, September 12, 2011

Train Stopped-Bridge Blown

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The train came to a screeching halt. The refugees poured out of the train as though they knew what had happened. Well, I didn't.

I searched for a train worker. "Why did we stop?"

He pointed further down the tracks. "The bridge ahead has been blown up by the Japanees. We can go no further. You will have to hike over the mountains to Tung Kwan. Follow the other refugees."

Most people would like to gaze at the rolling mountains to the west. But my legs didn't want to move any more. I didn't have the energy to take more than a few steps much less carry a little one or encourage the tired and hungry children to hike up the mountain. 

Men, women, boy, and girl refugees hiked to the mountain pass trailhead. I decided to keep the children near the train and asked the villagers for food. Better to have the children with full stomachs before we hiked another mountain especially ones towering into the clouds. We had no idea when we'd see another village.

The next morning, we hiked to the trailhead. Most of the children's shoes had worn through. Their bare feet had blisters which cut easily on the sharp rocks. The conductor sent two soldiers to help me with the children.

We slid backwards on loose rock, climbed over bolders, and lost track of the tine mule trail weaving up the mountain.  Some of the children had been ill for days. They cried like little kittens starving for food and comfort. At the top of the mountain we looked back at the train tracks and valley. How I wish we could ride a train.

Along the way, God showed us villages where kind people shared any food they could find in their cupboards.

We walked, setting one foot in front of the other, hour after hour, day after day.

One night we couldn't reach the valley before sunset. We had to sleep out in the open on the mountain peak.

The winds blew and chilled our skin through to our bones. We all curled close to one another to share every bit of heat our bodies made and fell asleep.

The next morning a snappy wind whipped across my face.  A tear dripped down my cheek before I could swipe it away. At first I thought the cold caused my eye to tear.

Drip, drip, drip. 

Soon a flood of tears fell. I cried like a little girl who'd lost her best friend. The little ones flung their arms around me and cried. The older children cozied behind the little ones and cried.

We cried, and cried, until we had no more tears left.

I swiped my sleeve across my face and gazed at the one hundred beautiful eyes crowded around me. Such lovely children, sobbing, and lost.

God filled my aching soul will a sunshine sparked energy. I slapped my legs and smiled at the children. "There now. We all needed a good cry." I scooped the little ones off my lap then stood. "Ready children?"

They looked at me as if I had gone crazy. I laughed. "What shall we sing? Oh, I know..." I led the way like the Pied Piper along the trail. The children laughed with their last hiccup sobs and sang and skipped and danced along the trail until we reached Tung Kwan.

How great is our God. Just as Jesus needed to cry when he heard the sad news about his friend Lazarus, we also needed a good cry,

God  cleansed our weary hearts.

Next time: The train that didn't exist.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Gladys Aylward

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