Woman's Board of Missions.

Life and light for woman (Volume v.51:10) online

. (page 4 of 5)
Online LibraryWoman's Board of MissionsLife and light for woman (Volume v.51:10) → online text (page 4 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


lasted one month and were held in many centers, as many as 800
girls studying at a time. At the end of the month new pupils took
the places of the old ones. Besides the hair net teacher each class
had a Christian matron who taught phonetic script and held a
daily meeting for the girls.




Young China, We are Coming Your Way



374 Life and Light [October

The House of the Door with the
Thousand Dents

Street of the Crescent, Algiers, Algeria

Miss Elizabeth Trowbridge, en route to Aintab, wrote for us the
accompanying dehghtful account of the work of Miss Lilias Trotter, an
English woman, who, since 1888, has carried on a remarkable missionary
work under the "Algerian Band." This organization is supported by her
own efforts and by friends in England and America. Dr. Patton in the
"Lure of Africa" refers to her as "a heroine if God ever made one," and
adds : "The dents in the door are the njarks of attention which rabble
mobs have bestowed upon her. * * * * g^^ Miss Trotter is winning out.
The stones do not fly quite so frequently as of yore, neighbors are be-
coming friendly, her children are growing up into fine men and women,
hopeful converts are being m.ade. She is a woman of literary gifts,
rare artistic ability, undaunted courage, unlimited common sense, and a
faith like an apostle's." — The Editor. ^

XF you could only be here where I am, sitting on the flat,
red-tiled roof of this old house, you could see what I see
now, and could hear at least something of what I have
been learning the past three months. Or, if I had Miss
Trotter's gift of telling things, briefly and vividly, so that others
far away could see and hear them, that would be the next best.
I am sitting by the parapet of the roof with plants in pots grow-
ing near it, and can look over it, down to the mass of close
packed, gray-white houses and red roofs, reaching out into the
blue bay with the lighthouse at one side, and an arm of the break-
water at the other. The green hills above the city are hidden just
here by the clifflike houses, and part of the European and business
quarters cannot be seen, but I can look across the bay at the
further hills circling it round, with the villages along the shores
shining out as the setting sun strikes them. Then out beyond
the point at the end of the half-circle, comes the wide Mediter-
ranean. The sea is very quiet, a few little boats, with their
pointed sails dotting it here and there, and a steamer has just
slowly come into port. Looking out over the sea, one thinks of
Phoenician merchants and Roman soldiers sailing these waters,
of the early Christian churches, with their great leaders, and then
their great martyrs, of the rush of the Arab conquerors, sweeping



19 2 1] The House of the Door with the Thousand Dents 375

every one and everything into Islam. Then come to mind the
stories of the fierce Barbary pirates, bringing to the dungeons of
those Arab cities French, ItaHans, even Enghsh prisoners, till at
length, after many struggles, ninety years ago, French troops took
possession and put an end to those raids.

This is Miss Trotter's old home in the city, rented by her for
years. Now it is offered for sale, but it may still be secured
permanently for mission work; if God needs it still it will be.
It is a good center, near the "Place," the trams and the places of
business, and on the lower edge of the Arab quarter, and all
around is a medley of houses, shops, people, Arab, Jewish,
French, Spanish. Many houses are Arab, with blank walls, and
heavy grated doors, opening from dirty cracks of streets into
inner courts. This is such a house. A dark entrance-way and
stone stairs, also dark, lead up to a square court, paved with
marble. The inner street door is the one of "the Thousand Dents"
of which Dr. Patton tells in his book on mission work in Africa.
Plants and palms in pots, horseshoe arches and twisted pillars,
curiously carved doors, and above, a gallery with tiles, carved
railings and more arches and pillars, and a third inner staircase
leading up to two rooms on the roof, make up the setting of a
Moorish house scene. The court is open to the sky, except for a
wire netting, to keep the stones of naughty boys from falling
on missionary heads. Most of the bed rooms open on the gallery.
The inner windows are barred, and the outer ones have narrow
panes of bright colored glass. On the main floor opening on the
court are a dining room, and a tiny kitchen, a drawing room, a
room for children's classes and storeroom. Everywhere are tiles
of many patterns and colors ; blue and yellow are favorites and
in the room I first slept in, I think there were six kinds; they
border the walls and windows and recesses, decorate the gallery
and stairways.

Just near the street entrance is a little room where Mr. Smeeton
patiently helps some blind men to read the Bible in Braille. Be-
yond this, an arched door leads into a long, white-washed room,



376 Life and Light [October

vaulted and arched, and lighted dimly by a square hole in the
ceiling and by lamps when used. It was once a Moslem prayer
room, a sort of house-mosque, now "the church in the house,"
where a little company of workers and Christian converts and
inquirers gather Sunday mornings to hear a message, pray and
sing, and once a month for the "breaking of bread." Some
Arabic texts are on the walls, there are several rough benches,
mats on the floor, cushions for the women, who sit behind the
heavy striped curtain, a table, a baby-organ, chairs, and a Koran-
stand for the big Bible. These make up the simple furnishings
of this little chapel ; that is all, but it is Christ, not Mohammed,
who is worshipped there now, and His life is the foundation and
center of the life in the house above.

In the paved court, the Arab girls come for their embroidery
work and games, with Bible lesson hymns in the children's room.
They are the merriest girls and it does one's heart good to hear
their shouts and happy laughter at the games and drill, and the
hymn singing, and to think of the healthy fun, the loving words
and helpful teaching they find here, instead of abuse, gossip and
vile stories as in their own dark homes. They love it all, and their
coming helps to open homes for the visiting, which is an im-
portant part of the missionary work. When they marry and are
shut away, they are followed up with visits and prayer. I have
been taken to several of the Arab houses, most of them after the
general style of this one, but with eight or ten families living
in one court. Even from those who were not the ones we went
to see there was a pleasant welcome. Here and there are some
of the Lord's children, eager for love and teaching.

On Sundays and Thursdays come the boys, real "street Arabs"
most of them, ragged, red-capped, barefoot, some with their
shoe-black's outfit, bursting in with a shout, boiling over with
life, mischief, and curiosity. For them there are hymns, a Bible
lesson with a picture and then kneeling by their benches or sitting
astride them, they revel in coloring the lesson drawings, choosing
crayons according to their own taste. Moses' beard may be green



19 2 1] The House of the Door with the Thousand Dents 377

and his shoes pink, and Daniel's lions as gay as his robe, but they
have a free hand and are happy !

Fruit after many days comes sometimes from the boys, too.
Lessons in Arabic are given to newcomers by an Arab teacher.
Guests and travelling friends come and are refreshed. It is a
true Christian home, one of the light centers in this gay, dark city
— gay and picturesque above, dark underneath with untold evil
and sorrow. Mr. Smeeton helps much to make this a home to
all ; he is a white-bearded man, but .younger in spirit and step
than any of us, always cheery, ready with fun, thinking and work-
ing for others, leading us in prayer and thoughtful Bible study,
and drawing others in many places into prayer and Bible study
unions, keeping up, in his little room on the roof, with the best
reading and the latest mission news, and drawing us all on to a
true following of Christ. More in the depths of the town is
Beit Naama, "Room of Grace," the "slum post," a small house
with a narrow court, now in charge of a Christian woman and
her family, and a center for more classes for girls and boys. The
regular worker is now in England, under medical care, but part
of the work goes on.

"The House of Dawn," Dar-el-Fedjir, was a hostel not far
from here, for girl workers who came from England for short
terms of service taking hold in all kinds of ways. This house
had to be discontinued during the war and since. Two months
and more ago, I landed near midnight, to be met by three patiently
waiting workers — four counting "Livia," the steady station horse,
and was brought up along silent streets and an open road in the
moonlight to Dar Naama, "The House of Grace," now Miss
Trotter's headquarters in El-Biar, a pretty scattered suburb on
the green hills above the town. That house is also an old Arab
mansion or rather two thrown together, and was left to her by
a dear fellow-worker. It is a house out of an old story; I am
finding every little while a new court or tucked-away room, dark
passage or arched over stairs. A central court, like the one in
the city house, has many rooms opening on it, but also there are



378 Life and Light [October

many irregular additions, and another beautiful court, with
separate entrances, tiled porches and orange trees. Outside is a
large garden, with many trees, one towering stone-pine, roses
and other flowers and vines, the roses bravely blooming through
the winter. Beyond is a pine wood and a large piece of land,
now being cultivated for grass and vegetables, and giving work
to two young converts, promising young men from the South
country, who, with a blind boy, Aissa, having been under careful
training for some time, were baptized the day before I ar-
rived. A bright young Swiss is caring for this land work, as
well as for a French Boy Scout Band, while preparing himself
for wider work. There is a room recently opened on the street,
where Gospel meetings are held for native men, who go by on
the highway or come in from the village cafe.

A Gospel van is a great help for short trips to other towns,
and as it moves along preaches silent sermons, with the clear texts
painted on the sides. The young converts are being regularly
taught to know and use the Bible. A good French pastor is now
a mission worker, helping especially in the men's work. This
house is the center for meetings and conferences and the planning
and managing the general work of the mission. Friends and tired
workers often come to learn or get advice or change. Friday
brings together all who can come for a day of prayer and praise,
and talking over the special problems of the work, and in the
autumn there is a "Rally" bringing together the workers from the
lonely stations for reports, prayer and conference. A small Bible
depot, right in the heart of the Arab quarter is one of the points
of light where big, black Beliad is on duty afternoons, with work-
ers coming in turn to sell the books and do personal work.

There are outstations along the railway line where the work
is more especially for women and children, through classes and
visiting, and one town on the edge of the desert in Tunisia, where
the men are great readers, and come eagerly, often in a steady
stream, to listen and talk. The title deeds for the house there,
after years of prayer and effort, came a few weeks ago into
Miss Trotter's hands, and great rejoicing and praise followed.



19 2 1] The House of the Door with the Thousand Dents 379



In December I visited two outstations, one at the foot of the
hills and looking over a wide, beautiful plain. The other was
higher up in the mountains, a fanatical town, center of local saint
worship. Both places are French garrison towns with a strange
mixture of French, Arab, Spanish, and Jewish life. I have vivid
memories of visits with a dear young Christian girl and a blind
old "Hadji" also a Christian, of the soldiers drilling on the
parade ground near us, and of the splendid figures of the "kaids"^
in white head-dresses and flowing red burnooses, riding their
white horses among the plane trees ; of the talks and stories with
the workers around the supper table, and the looking over records
of classes, sketches and views, showing places where work had
been attempted or begun — places where "the strange roads go
down" by sea or desert or mountain. From the parapets in
front of the barracks or the open, sunny roads outside the city,
one could look across to more mountains, behind that range was
the south land, and that melts into the desert with its wild tribes,
its oases and desert towns. One could feel the drawing of the
land and of the people with their great need. There were visits
and classes, and then the rush of the Christmas fetes, for women,
girls, boys, little ones, with a tree, Bible lantern pictures, stories
and small gifts. Can any of us ever forget that Christmas day
when the smallest guests arrived, but were lost in a mass of un-
invited rough boys in front of the street door, and had to be
fished out one by one from under their feet and hauled in over
their heads, disheveled and even in tears to a place of safety in
the court?

A little visit to Cherchell, a seaside town, where Roman ruins
lie about, here and there, was most interesting, as I saw a little
of the work of another English society, the North Africa mission.
The carpet weaving and lacemaking are an important part of
the work for women and girls, and are carried on as real mis-
sionary work. There are still other societies working in Algeria.
The Brethren, among mountain Cabyles and in the city among
the French, the American Methodist Mission for Cabyles and



380 Life and Light [October

Arabs, workers for Jews and Spanish people, and Bible depots.
I cannot tell you of all. There is much done.

Quite a good number of European workers gather just in this
city for a monthly meeting, and one hears prayers in French,
English and Spanish. But the need and difficulties are indescrib-
ably great. Seed has been sown for years, often no fruit is seen.
The workers continue in prayer, in praise, and in faithful plough-
ing and sowing. What of the lady whose name and message drew
me here? I could say much of her but I know she would not
wish it. She crept into my room after midnight, the night I
arrived, to give me a loving welcome, as to a dear friend, and
to stir up my fire; and ever since in the midst of constant heavy
work, she has stirred the fire ! A tall, spare figure, with bent
shoulders, grey hair put plainly back, a gentle manner, a worn,
loving face, and a peculiarly beaming smile, — that is just a
sketch of the outside, but one must know her day by day, read her
unique "parables" hear of her from others, see the life, with all
its rare gifts, spent out for all who touch it, to begin to realize
what she is and how God has used her. Faith in God's power
to keep, to provide and to work, a message of full salvation
through an almighty, divine Saviour, love that does not tire or
fail, but reaches out in personal interest to all — I think these
are the life-principles of her work, and she helps to inspire with
them the devoted workers who in different ways have been drawn
around her.

There are many things that I could write of the peopk, the
city, the life and sights, but you can read delightful descriptions
of all these in books and magazines and see pictures. Many
things remind me of Turkey and Syria, others are entirely North
African. The picturesque figures, the variety of color, the con-
stant contrast of French and Arabic, East and West, are all most
interesting to watch, as one goes about. But at times, the great
need of the people comes over one like a weight.

May I show you two last pictures? A few days ago I was
invited to the charming home in El-Biar of some English mission-



19 2 1] The House of the Door with the Thousand Dents 381

ary friends, working with the American Methodist Mission. Be-
fore tea, some of us were taken around the two houses which
are the homes of about thirty Httle girls, Arab, Cabyle, and French.
These are lovingly cared for and trained in the home — with no
capital "H" — and go for lessons to the French government
school. There were neat, airy little bedrooms for a few together,
— each room with a flower name, and the flower painted on a
scroll text; nice arrangements for meals, baths, clothes, a garden
and playground, with beautiful views. Several girls were learn-
ing their lessons in a little study room, and looked happy and
well cared for. We knew that they were taught of Jesus and
felt His love in those that cared for them.

Later, as I entered the tram, I found Mr. Smeeton. At the
upper part of the Arab quarter we left the tram and started down
a long, steep street. As we stopped to look down a chasm-like
side street to the sea, my companion suggested that we enter it and
see more of the native side of the city. I think I shall never for-
get that walk ; night was coming on, and down in the crooked, nar-
row lanes, with their high, overhanging houses, it was dark, except
for an occasional street light, or with the flicker of tiny oil lamps in
shops or cafes, where we could see in the dusky half-light white
figures in loose burnooses. and pointed hoods women, too, veiled
and wrapped, buying something for the evening meal. Once
there was a glimpse, as we passed, of a street at one side, opening
like the round mouth of a tunnel arched over, descending steeply
and then turning to go — where? It seemed to take one's
thoughts into strange depths. But the moral and spiritual dark-
ness was what could be felt, as Mr. Smeeton said. House after
house we passed, where unveiled women, bold-faced, gaily
dressed — and girls, sat on low, open doors calling, laughing or
silently watching, watching, — and in the closed Moslem houses
counted respectable, we know that sin and suffering must be
hidden.

There are government secular schools here, the people are not
oppressed, the country is rich and beautiful, the colony, a pros-



382 Life and Light [October

perous one, but it seems burned into one that the need of Moslems
here, in our poor, broken Turkey, and every where, is a new Hfe,
through Christ.

And I feel more and more that I and all who long to help the
Moslems should know Him truly, not in any matter-of-course
way, but as our life, "God with us," and working in us, know-
ing not only the Koran and Moslem prejudices, but what we
have and can give in His word; so that in whatever line we are
working, heavenly life may be passed on. Is not that the only
power that can overcome this darkness and death?



Field Correspondents



Letter from Miss Eunice Thomas, Wen Shan Girls' School, Foochow,
China:

I'm sure you are keeping so closely in touch with us that you
know the extremity of our High School this coming fall. Its
foreign faculty is reduced to one tutor, without a syllable of the
language, and Mrs. Scott of the American Board who comes over
from her South Side home for music classes. The situation
would be hopeless except for the fact that our head Chinese
teacher, Catherine Ling, is postponing her marriage to a fine
young man employed in our mission, to fill in the great breach.
AVe feel that it is hardly fair to ask of her what has never been
required of foreigners in similar circumstances but out of her
love for the school she offers to make the sacrifice.

Of course you understand that I am a grammar school teacher
and have been in no other department since I came to Foochow.
I now have 88 girls in seven classes which take more than all my
time, it need not be said. Until I came no foreigner or trained
Chinese was assigned to this department at all, although it was
twice the size of the high school, and more girls "finish" their
education here than in the high school. No one was in the least



1921] Field Correspondents 383

to blame, but there was not even a matron for all these infants
and they were merely attached to the more demanding high school.
Miss Perkins realized the need keenly and welcomed my coming
to devote myself exclusively to the younger girls. The num-
bers have increased materially, the buildings arranged more prac-
tically, and the teachers have been touchingly responsive to my
suggestions. Unless this work is kept up, not only these girls
will be the losers, but the high school cannot raise its tone as it
certainly should.

Now I face being taken out of this congenial and much needed
M^ork to a general supervision of the whole course and the high
school will swallow nine-tenths of my energy and time in case
I am given such a wide, shallow field. I shall have to :

Teach like a tutor to keep our pledges to the students as to
courses, keep unending office hours, continue the treasurer's work,
be housekeeper for the hotel we always run, no matter how
small our household, be adviser for all the school societies
whose name is legion in these days when the student motto is
"service" and each one of these societies is doing some real work
and is capable of heaps more under direction, represent the school
on Union Committees and in all the manifold connections city
life contrives to make.

Of course it simply can't be done. I shall have on the total
staff of abo-t twenty Chinese, four young women who have
had two yea'. 3 each of study away from Foochow. The others are
faithful but need direction down to the smallest detail. To a per-
son who has for years worked in efficiently run schools at home,
the situation is appalling. I am going North partly to pull my-
self together for the fall term when I must fill in a few of the
gaps and let the others gape.

This letter from. Miss Esther Fowler of Sholapur was received in the
summer. Miss Fowler is now at Wai.

Isn't it lovely that notwithstanding Bai's and my illnesses the
Woronoco School has kept right on so well ? For the Vernacular
School the grant this year was Rs. 1000, a big increase over last
year, and the inspector wrote that there w^ould be another grant



384 Life and Light [October

for the Anglo-Vernacular. I went through examinations trem-
bling lest with the dividing of the school I might be worse
off than before, and coming off so much better has made me
especially joyful. Also the new government English school has
asked if we will take the girls from their school of the first four
standards of the A. V. School into the Woronoco School so that
they need not take girls into their school only from the Fifth
Standard. This would be fulfilling our desire so much more than
we could ever have hoped for, in getting the Hindu girls to come
to the school. Whether they will really carry out this plan I do
not know yet, but it is rather gratifying and interesting in the pres-
ent conditions of India that they should have even asked about
it. They have also asked for one of my teachers to teach drill in
the Hindu training school, also a new school in Sholapur. She has
been doing it. How beautifully God's plans work out ! All last
year it was really an anxiety every month to wonder where the
money was going to come from for the next month's expenses, for
there was scarcely ever anything left over from one month for
the next. But somehow just enough money would come and I
felt that God was wanting to teach me to trust Him day by day,
and then when I was sick and there was a need that I should not
be troubled, your $1000 came, and then the school grant was
raised so that I have had no anxiety about the money.

Miss Margaret Walbridge writes upon her arrival in South Africa:

I know you have been wondering about my first impressions.
I know you would like to get hold of me and ask about a million
questions, such as, "Weren't you thrilled when the boat came into
Durban harbor, when you reached Inanda and when you saw Mrs.
Edwards ?" "What are you doing at Adams Mission Station ?" and
"How much Zulu can you speak by this time?" Well, I'm telling
you all about it now.

We reached Durban Saturday, May 14, about four-thirty in the
afternoon. Saturday afternoon is a holiday in Durban and there
were loads of people down to see us come in. The "Arundel
Castle" is the largest boat to reach Durban, except during war



1921]



Field Correspondents



385



times. Of course, everybody in Durban wanted a look at it. The
crowd would not have looked big to a New Yorker's eye, but Mr.


1 2 4

Online LibraryWoman's Board of MissionsLife and light for woman (Volume v.51:10) → online text (page 4 of 5)