LIFE IN EXILE
CHAPTER 5 My God-Given Wife
The Lord Was Her Constant Help
She said, “After Aunt Susan returned from visiting you in northern Fujian, she told me about the terrible starvation. Ever since then I’ve relied on the Lord’s grace to try my best to overcome hardship so as to save up some food to bring to you in the Labor Camp. But I had to wait for the opportunity as well as the right conditions. Thank God, for He soon gave me the opportunity. For the first time, in August 1962, the Hospital laid down a rule granting workers 10 days off each year, and mine was from August 6 th to 16 th. I had earlier bought some flour with food coupons saved from my ration1. Your mother roasted some bags of flour to which she added sugar and lard. We also bought some soybean powder and compressed biscuits like those supplied to the army. With the meat coupons we save up, we bought pork and made it into dried, shredded pork. Some sisters in the Lord who knew about my visit also sent some dried food they had saved out of loving care. All these things made up the load of almost 66 pounds, enough to fill one traveling bag and a kerosene tin measuring 1 foot x 1foot x 1.5 feet.
She continued, “Your two brothers Chong-jia and Chong-yao carried the two pieces of luggage for me to see me off. They stopped at the entrance of the wharf as they were not allowed to enter the ship. I made my way to the cabin seat all by myself after pausing for rest a number of times and becoming breathless. I prayed for the Lord to prepare a reliable person or two to help me2 with my load. The passengers around me looked like strong male and female students and had little luggage. The ship reached Wuhu in the evening. I prayed for the Lord’s protection from wicked people. The Lord answered my prayers, and two male students offered to help carry my luggage to the inn by the wharf. I followed them anxiously, watching the food to ensure no one walked away with it. It was a long night at the inn; despite my fatigue, I could not sleep all night. Thank God that in the morning, to my surprise, a local youth offered to carry my luggage to the nearby bus-stop. I took a bus to the coach-stop where I then boarded a coach to Xuan City. The coach did not take off until noon, and by the time it reached Xuan City it was all dark. After getting off, I found myself totally helpless in a strange surrounding. I walked and rested, and walked and rested until I eventually found a small inn that looked like a residence. I had to register my identity and to disclose the places of origin and destination of my journey. When the innkeeper learned that I was going to Lake Juntian Labor Camp, he knew the purpose of my trip. In the small village-like town of Xuan City that was heavily infested with mosquitoes, how could I go to sleep! I kept guarding my load of food - for though the food is dried and of crude quality, it’s to be a life-saver.”
“Early next morning, I left the inn and carried the luggage to the roadside. Not knowing the area and the directions to Lake Juntian Labor Camp, I asked around. Thank God that He had prepared a kind elderly workman who was still strong despite his age. He was on his way to visit his son in a different Sub-Camp. This kind man gladly helped me carry the load for quite a distance, from the city to the suburb. As he had to go in a different direction, he left my luggage by the roadside. Already exhausted, I waited by the roadside for the next opportunity.”
“Thank God! A truck came by, and I waved the driver for help. Seeing a woman by herself, he stopped. I told him where I was heading and gave him two packets of cigarettes3. He drove me for a distance and, after showing me which way to take to Lake Juntian Labor Camp, he drove off in another direction. After getting off the truck, I looked in the direction I was heading. I saw a range of hills, and had no idea what to do next. Again, I asked the Lord for help. Just then, I saw two men carrying a large wooden box not too far away. When they drew near, I asked them where they were going and found that it was exactly where I wanted to go. I told them whom I was going to see, and they said that they belonged to your Camp and that they knew you. I then asked if they could help me carry two small baggages (an easy job for them). Being inmates themselves and very sympathetic towards family visitors, they readily agreed. They walked very fast while I walked fast behind, thanking the wonderful Lord and keeping an eye on my load of food and the baggages. The walk was very difficult for me as the ground was barren and hilly and the field-ridges were badly damaged. It was already noon by the time we reached our destination. One of the men shouted, ‘Yu, your wife’s here to see you!’”
It was past our lunchtime. Extending special treatment towards inmates’ family members, the cadre offered her a bowl of rice and a small dish of soybeans in soy sauce which was usually meant for cadres only. Exhausted from the journey of two days and nights, she did not have an appetite and said, “I can’t eat, thanks!” I immediately said, “Do eat, do!” and finished eating the food. That night the cadre arranged for her to stay in a nearby villager’s home. After a night’s rest, she cooked me some pumpkin and, by permission of the cadre, bought a game hen and cooked it for me.
On the morning of the 9 th, she was prepared to return home. I had to take her to the Xuan City coach-stop. It was a seven-mile walk through remote and unfamiliar areas and a vast stretch of fields. Besides, there would be hardly anyone around from whom she could ask for directions should she lose her way. The stone-hearted instructor turned down my request. Despite this, I decided to accompany her, prepared to face any resulting punishment. I walked with her and, when we came to the two bridge passes damaged probably by mountain flood, I carried her. All the way, I said nothing other than to encourage her to depend on the Lord should difficulties arise. Having bought her a ticket at the coach stop, I immediately took off without waiting for her to board the coach. After walking a total of 14 miles (roundtrip), it was past sunset by the time I drew close to the Labor Camp. Darkness began to fall and there was no lighting around (electricity not yet available). Soon there was total darkness, and I had no way of knowing which way to go or to turn. With no one else around and the fear of wolves in the hills, I became nervous and cried out, “Lord Jesus! Lord Jesus!” Thank God that there happened to be guards on night duty at the reservoir4 some distance off. Hearing me, they came towards me with flashlights and showed me the turn leading to the Labor Camp. By the time I arrived at the Camp, it was already 10 p.m.
1. Actually, during the “Three-Year Calamities”, even most citizens had to go hungry at times.
2. My wife was young at the time, only 34 years old.
3. The cigarettes were packed for the journey as it was the custom then to use cigarettes as small gifts for services rendered.
4. The rice fields in hilly areas were irrigated with water from the reservoir. There were guards on night duty to prevent the theft of water by peasants in the vicinity.