- On Ship and First Months in Japan - Twelve Letters
Mary’s handwritten notes on envelope as she sorted through
what she got from Grandma Gash: “First letters written on board Tenyo Maru
enroute to Japan” February 27, 1930
Postmarked February 1930
Hotel Sutter, San Francisco, Cal.
To Mrs. C. H. Gash, % J.B. Helm, 1940 Maplewood Pl., Louisville, KY
Just an hour or so now and Watson and I will go to the boat. We have to be
on board not later than 11 – and it’s about 8 now. Today is a holiday and
the streets seem rather deserted and it’s raining! Started to sprinkle some
yesterday afternoon and has kept up ever since.
We went out yesterday and bought an umbrella, and myself a pair of rubbers
(like you have: galoshes are so hot now, you know) Also bought 2 yd. of yellowish-colored
pongee (89 cents a year – sale) and a pattern. I cut out the pongee for a
blouse, and will sew on it on board – if I’m able.
Last eve – at 5 o’clock, we took the ferry across the bay to Oakland, then
by train to Beverly – where a Mr. and Mrs. Mell live who are old friends of
the Thorntons. They were in India at the same time – and later had to come
back on account of his health. Had a nice meal (ate like a horse) and left
on the 9:20 train. Coming back across the bay (it takes about 20 min.) there
were quite a few waves but it didn’t make us sick.
You know we got several gifts at Union Station Mon. afternoon, The Murphy
girls (3) and Norman and Edna Dunh---pst (name unreadable) gave us
each a beautiful coat-sweater. Mine goes swell with my suit and Watson’s is
a dark brown. In each of the pockets of mine are 2 lovely handkerchiefs. You
thank them next time you see them (of course, I’ve written). Mrs. Hansen gave
us a box containing lovely handkerchiefs for us both, and towels. Wasn’t that
lovely of her? Lillian Hecken gave us a box of Herz tea cakes and 2 lovely
poems. This is one of them:
The weary ones had rest, the sad had joy
That day, and wondered “how”?
A ploughman, singing at his work, had prayed
“Lord, help them now!”
Away in foreign lands they wondered “how”
Their simple word had power?
At home, the Christians 2 or 3 had met
To pray an hour!
Yes, we are always wondering, wondering “how”
Because we do not see
Someone, unknown perhaps, and far away
On bended knee!
Isn’t that sweet – and true? I know too, that many times our “how” will be
answered by your prayers.
I stopped to help pack and now we’re all set. I’m feeling rather weepy this
morning – but I’ll just have to get over it.
Miss Cribb wrote to us here and she would like us to live in Dembo right
from the start – so write and address your mail to us:
9 Kita Nichome Dembo Machi
Nishiyoda Gawa Ku
% Miss E.R. Cribb
(The postage is 5 cents for an ordinary letter.)
Watson will write later and sends his love. Have a good time down there.
All the love in the world –
Note – Watson re-wrote the address
9 Kita Nichome Denbo machi
Nishiyodo Gawa Ku
% Miss E. R. Cribb
Mary’s note: First
letters written on board Tenyo Maru enroute to Japan 1930.
Postmarked Feb 28, 1930, 9:30 AM
Dated February 27, 1930
On board S.S. Tenyo Maru
Dear Mother Gash,
I had planned to write to you from San Francisco but found that Mary had
told you all the news so it is now my turn to write.
Saturday morning we woke up bright & early and had breakfast at 7:30.
I then went out to do a bit of shopping while Mary wrote you. After packing
we took a taxi down to the pier at 9:00 o’clock, being about the first ones
to arrive. We went on board and put our bags in the cabin then walked around
a bit till the trunks came.
The boat is about 550 ft. long and has 3 decks on which to walk and our cabin
is on the first one below. We have practically the run of the ship possibly
because there are not many first class passengers on board. In fact there
are only about 30 first class and about 45 or 55 second.
Our cabin is very delightful, being large, clean, airy and convenient. There
are two bunks, a chest of drawers, a small clothes closet, a wash bowl and
a sort of sofa. So far it has been quite cool as we have been able to have
the window open most of the time.
As soon as we hit the ocean out of San Francisco Bay we ran into quite a
storm some of the waves being as high as 25 or 30 feet and breaking over the
bow of the ship. Of course, I took sick and went to bed without supper. Mary
lasted thru supper then came down to bed also. We remained in bed for practically
four days without eating anything. Mary had a couple of apples and a slice
of pineapple and I ate a very little potato salad. Since then, however, we
have been going to all our meals, though we have felt rather unsteady at times.
The fact is, this boat rolls from side to side a great deal and in spite of
the fine weather the past few days the heavy swells in the ocean have made
the ship roll to such an angle that plates, knives, etc. slide off the table
as we are eating. It is rather funny to see a man eating, with his fork half
way to his mouth, make a sudden dive for his plate which is sliding across
the table into someone else’s territory.
Our meals have been very good and we have had a wide variety of foods to
choose from, such as – soup, fish, 2 or 3 kinds of meat (hot), 2 to 4 kinds
of cold meats, 2 or 3 vegetables, salad, desert & cake, fruit, cheese,
nuts and coffee or tea. You can have any or all without extra cost. Once we
have had a Japanese dish of rice covered with chicken, scrambled eggs, green
onions and seaweed. I enjoyed it very much. Mary was not feeling very good
(sic) so did not tackle it. It is called “Oyako Domburi” that means “the dish
of the parent & child”. “Domburi” means “dish” or “bowl of “rice”; “Oya”
means “parent” (chicken) and “ko” means “child” (egg).
The passengers on board are very interesting. We have all nationalities –
Japanese, Chinese, Philipino, Australians, Russians, Germans, Dutch, Brittish
(sic), Americans and a few others. Yesterday afternoon within a space 50 feet
square there were at least 4 groups talking 4 distinct languages – sometimes
5 or 6. It has been suggested that we have a peace conference on board ship.
I started this yesterday but ran out of ink so I am finishing it now before
entering Honolulu. Mary is up on deck now watching us pull into the harbour.
She has been holding up wonderfully. As we were pulling away from the wharf
in San Francisco, Mary wept a bit but otherwise she has been just fine. I
am enclosing a post card which was given to us last night. It shows the boat
quite well. I am going to close now but maybe Mary will want to add a line
Lots & lots of love to you and all the folks in Louisville – but especially
I wrote Alice and she’ll most likely send my letter to you. Not much more
Give my love to all the aunts and uncles and Grandma!
Dated March 7, 1930
Written above the date: Got a telegraph message yesterday – “Welcome,
Psalm 91 – Osaka Mission.” Wasn’t that nice? (Rec’d. on Sat.)
Watson has just started playing a game of chess with one of the other passengers
(a Philipino) and so I’ll write a little. My, but we’ll be glad to get back
to land! Altho ever since Honolulu, the weather has been fine. That is, up
until yesterday. Then we had some rough water, and Watson and I both had to
go to bed. He from about 11 A.M. – until this morning – I for just about 5
Last night we had a “Tenyo Opera Party” given by the stewards of the ship.
A regular stage was constructed up on “A” the top deck. Japanese flags, and
scenery were used, and the program consisted of entirely Japanese talking,
singing, acting and dancing. So different from anything we have in
America. Seemingly no rhythm in their dances and all the music is so minor
– and their instruments! A hollow-sounding drum, and an instrument called
a “biwa” (pronounced bee-waw) which sounded to me like a ukulele with a broken
string! This was plucked and carried the “melody” while the drum was thumped,
and a man sang the most weird melodies! Occasionally someone played
what seemed to be a flute. You can imagine the result. And that went on thru
out the entire program of about 3 hours. Watson couldn’t go of course – but
I went up and enjoyed it – although I got rather tired and couldn’t understand
a word that was spoken.
Today we opened up my trunk and the bottom fell out of the tray. Watson got
a lot of string and tied it together so we hope it will last.
While in San Fran. I bought a gift to take to both Aunt Effe & Miss Cribb.
For Aunt E a pretty hand-made gown & a Philippino gown for Miss Cribb.
They wrapped them real prettily – bought them at a lovely department store
“The White House”. I believe it is considered one of their best.
Watson may speak this Sun. A.M. in the service from 11 – 12. I’ll play. We
had one last Sun and another missionary on board spoke.
I’m making myself a yellow blouse – the material I got in San Fran. Couldn’t
get the sleeves in right so am making it sleeveless! Imagine me! Making it
all by hand.
Will close now and write some more later. Can’t mail this until we get to
Am enclosing some pictures. Will send some to Thornton’s as soon as we have
more developed. Not been feeling so well as the sea is pretty rough. Get to
Yoko – 7 in the morning. My love to all – Lovingly,
Dated Feb 27, 1930
On Board Tenyo Maru
Dear Alice and Ralph:
My! But we’d both like to be on land. Been sea-sick most of the time we’ve
been on board.
Right now there are about 25 of us first and second class passengers sitting
up on the stern of the boat on what is called “B deck” in our steamer chairs,
enjoying the lovely breeze, the horrible smells of cooking and the
terrible ocean swells. This sea-sick feeling is simply indescribable.
There are only a few of all on board who haven’t been affected. We’ve not
had a good sea since we started (and this is Thurs). However, everyone is
friendly, and I believe after Honolulu – which we reach in the morning – maybe
the sailing will be better. Mind you, there have been no storms – but
just a continuous rolling from one side to another and from one end to another.
Watson succumbed first – Sat. eve – just before dinner – then I – Sun. A.M.
and both were in bed until yesterday A.M with the exception of several hours
Tues. aft. The dining saloon has made some money off us – ha!
I think of you all so much. Of course when we left San Fran. harbor I cried.
Some Japanese Christians sang “God Be With You” in Jap. To some Japs on board
– and of course that made me think of our leaving St. Louis. By the way –
out of about 200 passengers on board only 10% are Americans. Besides the entire
crew is Jap – with a very few Chinese. Of course, I think of papa a lot and
it seems so impossible. And to think that every mile we travel takes us farther
and farther away. The Lord has a pretty poor missionary in me I’m afraid.
Several times I’ve gotten scared of the ocean and have cried – etc. But you’ll
pray for me, I know. (I can’t help it but I’m crying now.)
Some Jap has 2 beautiful dogs on board. Wonder if they’re sea sick? Tell
Dorothy Butleiger, and Dorthea that I enjoyed their letters and will write
Kiss the baby and send this letter to mama. I’ll alternate in writing and
just put all the news in one letter.
We spent our 1st anniversary in bed -! But when we came aboard
Sat there was a lovely pot of red tulips which Watson has send –“to his beloved
wife in honor of our 1st ann. and 2nd honeymoon.” Wasn’t
Write as soon as possible – and please let Elsie & Perc read this
as theirs also.
Loads of love – Mary
Note: Marked Letter
1 from Japan
At Miss Cribb’s
“The Osaka Mission”
So many things have been happening and strange at that – and I want
to let you know as much as possible about them. I last wrote you from Yokohama
so I’ll start there.
The weather turned very cold on reaching Yokohama and we nearly froze
while in dock there, as there was no heat at all. Consequently we donned our
heavier underclothes and felt very comfortable in them. The trip of one day
to Kobe was fairly comfortable – altho’ Wed night there was quite a
I love the Japanese and although everything is so new and strange
– yet I believe in time I will get to love almost everything here.
The people are so polite and their clothes so attractive – and their customs
interesting. You should see us bowing! You see, the minute we are introduced
to people, down we go on our knees with our faces to the floor! Miss Cribb
thought it best for me not to try to study Japanese until I had a regular
teacher – so I’ve only learned a few words from the conversation at the table,
When the Tenyo sailed into Kobe Thursday A.M. at 10 only Aunt Effe was there.
Miss Cribb had been told that the boat didn’t arrive until 12 – and so they
all missed the boat! It was a great disappointment for Hojaimi San came all
the way from Kaibara (a 2 ½ hour trip) about 8 or 9 Christians came from Sanda
and Tsukiu San, The Asahimas and Miss Cribb came from Dembo (about an hour’s
journey). We took our grips to the customs (didn’t have any duty to pay on
anything – although our trunks weren’t inspected until about 2:30 in the afternoon)
then went and registered at the American Consulate. It was there that Miss
Cribb, etc., met us and Mrs. Asahima gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers.
Had lunch – all of us (about 15) in the dining room of the Daimaru, a 7 story
dept. store in Kobe – after which we left and came to Dembo. We have a nice
little room upstairs in the missions which is the Asahima’s & Miss Cribb’s
home. There are 10 rooms (some very small) and the meetings are held down
stairs. Right at this minute Mrs. Asahima is speaking to 400 children downstairs
packed like sardines in a space containing approx. 500 sq. ft.! This is a
plan of the downstairs.
Now you know exactly how it looks. Between every room are sliding doors from
ceiling to floor which are all removed and put in a closet together with all
the furniture – leaving one big empty room for the meetings. Miss Cribb has
2 electric heaters which we use for warmth – the hibachi don’t contain a great
deal of heat! She has a servant who cleans and washes dishes but does
not cook. They do the cooking and since we’ve been here they fix foreign meals
which are very welcome.
Our first meal was tea – about 4 o’clock Thursday – then at supper about
6:45 we had quite a feast. Only the 5 of us were here. Miss Cribb gave me
a big tin of “biscuits” (cookies) and the Asahimas a silk furoshiki and a
calendar. Yesterday at teatime there was a Jap. Bible, song book and hymn
book for us both. Lovely Bibles – so now I must learn to read (all
in character writing).
Went into Kobe and saw Aunt Effe yesterday at the Canadian Academy where
she stays – had lunch there and a nice visit with her.
Tomorrow we go to see our house in Sanda. Miss Cribb rented
it (only 20 yen a month [$10]) and a brand new house! Tomorrow night there
will be a welcome meeting in the Sanda church for us. We had one here at Dembo
last night. Both of us spoke (I by interpretation – Watson in Japanese.) Then
Tues. we go to Kaibara to see what furniture we need and we’ll be moved in,
the Lord willing, by Friday – we’ll both be glad.
I’d love to see you. Miss Cribb thinks you were so good to let me come so
soon and she’s told the Japanese about you. Maybe someday you’ll get to come
and see us here. Kiss my loved ones for me and please write. This news is
for all of you of course – for postage is too much to write to all at the
Love from us both – and kisses – Mary
Note: Second letter
from Japan, first from Watson
Miwacho, Arima Gun, Hyogo Ken, Japan
Monday March 24, 1930
Dear Elsie and Perc,
It is over five weeks now since we parted from you at the Union Station in
St. Louis, five weeks full of new and interesting experiences. I enjoyed every
bit of the trip except the first three days out of San Francisco.
We received a rather cool welcome at Yokohama after leaving warm weather
all the way from home, and to cap it all, the whole ships crew went ashore
and left us to freeze (almost) for 2 days. It was not quite so cold when we
arrived in Kobe but it was a rather damp morning. Through some misinformation
as to the time of the ships arrival, Miss Cribb did not meet the ship, but
Aunt Effe was on the pier as we pulled in. At about 12:00 o’clock Miss Cribb
and a group of 12 or 13 Christians from Dembo and Sanda came and found us
at the customs house. We had lunch together then I went back to get the trunks,
etc., examined, after which we went to Dembo, a part of Osaka, just about
18 or 20 miles from Kobe.
Our stay in Osaka was most delightful. We did almost nothing but sleep, eat
and talk: Breakfast at 9 A.M. talking around the table till almost 10:30 or
11. Lunch was served at 12 and we usually got up from the table about 1:30
or so, only to sit down for tea again at about 3 o’clock with dinner at 6
and a bit before going to bed – and what food – but I suppose you heard all
about it from Mary’s letters.
Well, Sat. night we were given a reception at Dembo, and Mary spoke, Miss
Cribb interpreting, I was then asked to say a few words in Japanese. With
some prompting from the sidelines, I got through. Sunday morning I spoke at
the service by interpretation, the Lord giving me great freedom in speaking
on Num. 23:21 – “The God who hath not seen our iniquities
when they are confessed and forgiven.” It also pleased the Lord that one lady
who has been in darkness for some time found rest from the message – my first
Monday night we came to Sanda to a welcome meeting and also to look at our
house which they had engaged for us. The house has just been built and is
located on the bank of the river with rice fields to the east and north and
a few houses to the west. We have six rooms, a kitchen, pantry and “entry
way”. The upstairs rooms are arranged very nicely and are light and airy.
I hope they will be cool this summer. At the top of the next page I’ll try
to draw a little diagram of the house. We have no bathroom so we have put
a bathtub in the kitchen and we use the top as a table.
The kitchen, pantry & entry way (where we take off our shoes) are on
a level with the street. The rest of the first floor is raised about 2 feet.
Our bedroom is really 12 x 15 feet because the dotted lines denote a part
of the room raised a few inches above the rest – the place of honor for guests.
Then too, our closet is so large, we have put a chest of drawers into it and
still have room to hang up our clothes.
We expect to use my room for the guest room when we have guests. So far we
have no piano but I hope we can go to Kobe on Wed. and see about getting one.
Of course it will not be a Stienway (sic) but it will do for a missionary
and most likely it will just about fit in with the rest of our furniture which
is rather old but serviceable.
Well here it is Thursday and still this letter has not been mailed. I’m very
sorry but we have been so busy. At 8:30 Monday night a young girl came and
visited us and stayed till 10 o’clock. Of course we could do nothing but just
sit and try to entertain her; therefore this letter is yet unfinished.
Yesterday we went to Kobe and spent $15.00 on groceries. Campbell’s soup
costs 20 cents a can, and everything else in the line of American canned
goods is proportionately expensive. We bought a can of carnation milk (#8
cans) for 12.75 yen ($6.37 1/2), about 13 1/2 cents a piece which is the cheapest
price in town. We also saw the piano which we are going to have. It is being
sent up now. The measurements are – length - 4 feet; height – 3 ft. 9 inches.
If Perc were only here, we could pick it up and carry it up here between us.
As it is we have to pay about 10 yen ($5) to have it crated and shipped up
here. Of course we would like to have a better one but it will do for the
Mary has not been at all well since reaching Japan, but she is feeling much
better now. Everything is so strange to her as yet, and she has head-aches
most of the time from hearing so much Japanese. She is out shopping now with
the girl who comes to help with the housework.
We are going to try to write once a week to each family, so you might pass
this on to the other Gash’s and when we write to them we’ll ask them to let
you read the letter also. You see we are trying to save time, ink, paper and
Love to all the folks, Watson
Note: Third letter
home? Not marked
March 31, 1930
Dear Chas. & Madeline:
I’m going to try and write one letter a week “home” to the family and Watson
and I will alternate between the 2 families. We’ll try to write to you two,
then Mama, then Alice & Ralph, then you – etc.
Right now I am on the train going to Osaka, so please excuse all scribbles,
etc. We are riding 3d class and it’s about as uncomfortable as anything I’ve
ever ridden in. However, it’s a lovely day, and as we’re traveling thru the
mountains it’s really beautiful.
Our house is very nice. Brand new – and we can see the mountains in every
direction. Of course, we don’t have many conveniences. No bathroom, no lights
in the daytime, no water in the home (it must be carried from a nearby river),
and no gas with which to cook. (Just now we are passing quite a few cherry
trees in bloom – they’re lovely.) Miss Cribb, the head of our little mission
(“little”, for there are just 6 of us in it) gave us a one-burner kerosene
stove and an oven to go on top of it. Besides it, we have a Japanese schichirin
– a little clay box in which we burn charcoal (sumi) and with these two we
cook. I made a very good cake last week, and just this morning, some nice
muffins, so you see, we’re eating quite fine! A girl comes for 3 hours every
morning except Sunday, and cleans the house, goes to the store, etc. Watson
has to give all the orders, for as yet I’ve not started studying the language.
Imagine – he and I are the only “foreigners” in our town of about 8,000 –
and in quite a bit of surrounding territory. I can’t talk much!
We have a tiny piano now which used to belong to the Thorntons – and it’s
quite a bit of company. I play a little Japanese organ at the services, for
only Miss Cribb and I can play, and she takes charge of most of the meetings.
Watson has preached twice, but by interpretation – and twice he spoke in Japanese.
I spoke twice by interpretation.
The Japanese have a habit of coming to visit you most anytime of the day
and staying on and on! We show them everything in the house. Everyone is interested
in our bedding (they sleep on the floor on futon), Watson’s tools (you know,
Mama gave him Papa’s and he’s certainly using them!) and our dishes and utensils.
The egg beater is a special attraction. Nearly all the things we eat are unknown
to them. In fact we have to buy nearly all our food in Kobe (and it’s quite
expensive). But if you would once see some of the things they eat, you wouldn’t
blame me for not being able to eat them. I really hope to some day tho’, for
when anyone entertains us, it would be very bad not to eat what was put before
us. Watson likes their food – but I, not as yet!
I trust you both are well and happy in your new home. Remember me to all
The way the Japanese women fix their hair is terrible, I think. The Christians
fix it like we do (i.e. in a single knot at the back, and it looks very nice
that way). Their kimona are all attractive – and I’m still not used to the
clattering of their wooden geta (gay ta). The babies are all carried on the
backs. Even little boys carry the babies – and I saw one the other day fighting
with another boy – and the little one bouncing around!
Will close – will you send this home?
Much love – Mary
Note: fourth letter
April 15, 1930
Dear Alice & Ralph:
I believe it’s my turn to write to you two. I’ll not promise anything about
the looks of the letter, as Watson and I are on the electric car, and
just now have started towards Kobe. It’s an hour’s run, and a beautiful one.
Lovely hills and mountains, a river, trees, rice fields, etc. We both feel
that the Lord has been especially good to us in putting us in Sanda – for
we’re surrounded by lovely scenery. And really, while there are quite
a few bad smells – the nice part more than makes up for them.
You know how I love fresh flowers – and ever since we’ve been here, we’ve
had quite a lot of them in the house. Right now at home we have a large vase
full of cherry blossoms (they’re about gone now, i.e. the cherry blossom season
has passed) a lot of lovely red flowers
called (like poppies), some
purple azalea, and some bright yellow flowers. The Christians bring them to
us; last night one of them, (who is not a settled Christian) a girl of about
16, came with the red flowers and then had Watson help her translate her English
lesson! I wish you’d pray for this girl. Her name is Kotanisan (pr. Ko-tan-e-san).
Her mother is (so I’ve heard) about as wicked a woman as there is in Sanda,
and she is likely to be dragged into the same sort of life unless the Lord
saves her. Because of persecution at home and at school, she stops coming
to the Dendo-Kan (church). So you might pray for, and ask prayer for her.
One of the things we’re going to look at in Kobe is a new mattress. The one
on our bed is very old and we fear it may contain bed bugs! I’ve been
(almost) literally covered with some kind of bites and we’ve not been able
to find out what they are. It’s either just my blood, or it might be the poison
from the lacquer tree (as we took a walk up one of the hills the other day
& possibly I might have brushed by one [a tree]) or it’s b.b.
We had to have something to put dishes in, in the dining room, so we bought
what the Japanese call a miguya. A beautiful cabinet made of polished, stained
wood, with 6 drawers and 5 shelves in it. One of the shelves has wire netting
inside the wooden framework of the door, and in that we put edibles so the
rats and flies won’t bother things. My! I think it’s so nice (much nicer than
either of the ones we had at home) for we have so much room, and so much light,
etc. Being missionaries so far, and I’m sure it will be the same for always,
has been fine. Now don’t think we don’t miss our loved ones – etc. but then,
we wouldn’t want not to miss you!
Kiss the baby for me. (A man across the aisle just sneezed quite loudly,
and it reminded me of mama!!!)
It’s been raining fairly hard ever since last evening – so I’ve my raincoat
on, & my rubbers. I brought the latter (toe-rubbers) in San Francisco.
Watson accidentally brought his father’s from home – and so hasn’t any on!
By the way, I’ve got oodles of clothes (as things go in Sanda) and
I’m trying hard to look nice, and not become “dowdy”. Of course, underneath
I may not have so much “it” (as woolen underwear doesn’t lend itself to such
things) but I try to look beautiful on top.
A non-Christian schoolgirl came and wanted to know if we would have an English
conversation class for some of them. We’re praying about it – and the Lord
willing, on Sat. aft. maybe I can have a Bible class of some kind. That is,
have conversation about different passages of Scripture, in that way bringing
the Gospel to them.
One of the Christians, Inouesa… (undecipherable), went
up to Tokyo to a University last night, and some of us saw him off. He is
about 19 or 20, and seems real sincere. Pray that he will be a witness for
Christ up there and that he may be strengthened.
During Easter week, the workers of the Osaka Mission are going up to Arima
(a hot springs resort) for 2 or 3 days meeting. We will pray, and talk, and
plan about the work, etc. There will be 9 of us in all – Toukinsan, Inamurasan,
the Asahimas, Miss Cribb, another Jap. and his wife (who are coming here to
Sanda to work with us) and ourselves. We will stay at the hotel there. I pray
the Lord will bless us there.
I’m praying for Mrs. G…., etc. so glad about them.
I’ve made 2 of the best cakes, and biscuits that melt in your mouth! (canned
milk & Crisco) Come over!
Much, much love to you both & Mama & Elsie & Perc. Remember me
to Elvira – (got Dorothy Buttergen’s letter) & and all rest.
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
April 29, 1930
Dear Mother Gash,
Monday has passed and I haven’t written my weekly letter to America. Mary
asked me to write to you this week as it is my turn to write to the Gash side
of the combination.
To begin with, we are both alive and are both being greatly blessed of the
Lord. The Lord has seemed especially to have given Mary strength and health
these past few weeks. For the first three weeks after arriving here she was
very unwell in body and was in bed quite a bit. It, of course, put quite a
burden on me and I became irritable and snappy at her – it wasn’t her fault
and I knew it but you know how it is. Well, I finally began to feel that it
was of the devil, and one night about 3 weeks ago, I came into my room and
told the Lord that I couldn’t go on as it was, and that He would either have
to strengthen Mary or give me more Grace. He did both, I believe, and since
then Mary has not been in bed one day that I can think of, and she has been
getting up almost every morning at 7 o’clock for her devotional hour.
We went to Kobe yesterday for the first time in almost a month. We had been
to Osaka once or twice and we went to Kaibara for a day, but Mary does not
seem to mind not seeing any
new white faces. I think it is quite remarkable
that she can bear it as she does. It is very difficult to go day after day
with no one to speak to, or to look at beside a rather silent and self-centered
husband, especially when you can’t understand what he is saying whenever anyone
comes to the house: and wherever you are people are jabbering in a strange
language – even the hymns are not understandable. She is a plucky little girl
all right. She is now downstairs singing now.
She has not started any definite study yet but we hope she can be at it by
next week sometime with a teacher. I don’t try to teach her because I have
too much to learn myself. In Japanese there are 2 words almost alike “Mada”
and “mata”, the first means “yet” and the second “again” and I have been telling
people to “come yet” instead of “come again”. Then too, “hashi” may mean any
one of three things – a bridge, a pair of chopsticks, or the side or end of
a flat surface. The difference is in the pronunciation and is so slight that
I can hardly detect it, let alone say it. That is why I do not try to teach
As a housekeeper Mary is doing wonderfully. Our food bill this month is well
under the 60.00 yen mark (ie., $30.00) which we had set for ourselves, and
with fresh vegetables coming in now, we expect it will be cheaper yet. We
heard this A.M. that lettuce is now selling for about 2 sen (1 cent) a head,
for nice large firm heads. Tomatoes are now selling for about 12 cents a pound
and of course will be much cheaper later on. Mary says she wants to put up
some strawberries, peaches and tomatoes this summer.
This past week has been quite busy. The younger brother of the man who teaches
me Japanese has been dying of tuberculosis in the hospital near us. He is
only about 21 years old, but the past few days has been unable to eat anything
and this A.M. at 9:30 A.M. the Lord took him home. For a while we were somewhat
troubled about his salvation but a little over a week ago he confessed his
faith in the cross of Calvary and from then on he was full of praise and testimony
to the Lord.
Wed. Apr. 30
Just at this point they came and called me, so I went over to the hospital
to see if I could be of any assistance and have been busy ever since.
A Japanese funeral is quite unique. The relatives of the deceased do the
whole thing. The coffin was a box made of unfinished pine lumber 3 ft. long,
two feet high and 13 ½ inches wide. The body is washed and placed in the box
on cushions in a sitting position, and in heathen ceremonies food, etc., is
placed in with him. In this case the boy’s New Testament and a few flowers
were the only things included in the coffin. On account of the disease the
doctor requested that the body be cremated, so last night we went with the
family to the crematory which is located up on a hill about a mile and a half
out of town. It was indeed an interesting experience. We carried lighted lanterns
and walked out the pitch black road then up a winding path to the building
prepared for the services. We had a short service of prayer and scripture
then went on to the “oven”. After much pushing and arranging, the coffin was
pushed into the “oven”, the door closed, and locked and the eldest brother
– the head of the house – lit the fire. We came home then leaving an old man
to keep the fire going. I suppose we will never forget the experience of walking
through the graveyard, with the grave stones on each side of the path, so
close together that it would be hard to walk between them, reflecting the
light of the lanterns. It was a beautiful sight.
The funeral is to be this afternoon at 4 o’clock from the mission hall.
We are enclosing a slip of blue paper which is of no use to us, but it may
be of some use to you. We can’t do much, but we wish we could do more. The
Lord has graciously undertaken for our support, and I see by the last “Tidings”
to reach us, that we have been placed upon Hope’s missionary list. It is an
May the Lord bless you, Mother, and use you abundantly. Of course Mary sends
her love with mine.
Affectionately your “boy-in-law”
Written on Osaka Mission letterhead as below:
We want to let you know of two things which have happened during the past
few days. They will give you an idea of conditions here where we are working.
The gods in Japan, which are many, are grouped in various classes ranging
from the lower to the higher. A god in the Miwa temple was elevated to a higher
rank the day before yesterday. A great celebration (including much saki drinking,
of course) was the order of the day but it was decided to rather celebrate
in a quiet and more simple manner. The reason being that not enough money
was available – the debt incurred by the building of the new temple hasn’t
yet been paid. However, a crowd of men had quite a jolly time of it in a house
just across the field from our house. We heard singing and shouting (there’s
little difference between the two), the sound of one or two Japanese musical
instruments, and dancing all afternoon. Then in the evening some geisha arrived,
and the doors were shut. All in the name of religion! Thank God, our Father
is, and always has been, greater than all gods for there is no God beside
If only these people knew it! Of course, some do but seemingly do not care.
For instance, the priest at this same temple has a daughter whose mind was
cleared and who was converted by our Lord. Her father acknowledges that the
Christian God did it, still he prefers to cling to Buddhism because that is
the way he earns his living.
We’ve just witnessed a real testimony to the Lord, In the family of Kirita
here in Sanda, as Christian, the youngest of 3 brothers was a T.B. patient
in his uncle’s hospital. About a week ago his condition grew hopeless as both
his lungs and stomach were affected and he could not eat, and could drink
very little. In all his severe suffering, he witnessed of his Saviour. Tsukuisan,
who was healed of T.B., was with him constantly the last few days, and Watson,
Mr. Asahina, and Miss Cribb visited and prayed, etc. with him. He died the
day before yesterday, and as he had requested a Christian funeral, it was
held yesterday at the dendo kan. The church was packed with both believers
and non-believers, and we sang hymns, had prayer, and a message from Mr. Asahina.
It is the first Christian funeral ever held here and we’re praying that it
may bear fruit. Some of us had made a covering for the box – black, lined
with white, with 4 red crosses on it, and it looked quite nice, with quite
a few wreaths, etc., placed about the front of the room. One old lady, after
the service, came and bowed and prayed before the remains. We were told that
they believe that he has become a god!
I’m sure that you would love the people as we do if you were here among them.
Pray that they may see the Light and be lighted by Him. We always remember
all you Christians at home with a great deal of love and thanksgiving.
Very sincerely in Him,
Mary and Watson Thornton
Sanda, Hyogo Ken, Japan
May 13, 1930
I started one letter but the “neck” of this family – I’m the head but the
head is turned by the “neck” – decided for us that we had better not
send that one but that I ought to write another one. You see, there
has been a “pain in the neck” for the past few days and the neck has become
rather stiff and inflexible.
I don’t mean that Mary is sick or anything but here nerves have been on edge
for the past few days for some reason or other. However she hasn’t thrown
me out of the house yet, and we always manages to go to sleep in fairly respectable
humor. Really, though, the Lord has been very gracious to us all along. As
I said in my last letter, it is not very easy for her to be left alone with
me week after week and keep sweet, but the Lord has enabled her to do it.
Last Thursday, Aunt Effe came up from Kobe for the day and we had a nice
time together. Miss Cribb was here to supper and we had roast chicken. It
was a young hen, about 4 ½ lb, and we only had to pay 1.69 yen (or about 85
cents). It lasted for supper that night, sandwiches the next day for 7 people,
supper for we two and the bones made a good soup for us the next night. Not
bad at all. I tell you, Mary is getting to be some cook and manager.
Friday we went to Arima, a hot-springs resort about 12 miles from here, to
attend the services of the Japan Evangelistic Band who were holding their
annual conference. Mr. Wilkes, of whom father speaks quite often, spoke in
the morning and Mr. Cuthbertson in the afternoon. There were from 300 to 400
people present and it was a new experience to Mary to be at such a convention.
I tried to translate the messages as much as possible and she seemed to get
the general thought both A.M. and P.M.
The thing that troubled Mary most was the praying. They sang a couple of
hymns then had a few prayers before the message. Of course it was all in Japanese
and it tired her some. After the message two or three people led in prayer
but as the time was short the leader said for all to pray at once. Immediately,
all over the room, they began to pray out loud. The more emotional ones clapping
their hands as they prayed at the top of their voices. Others prayed silently;
some rocked back and forth; one fellow looked like he was having a hard time
convincing the man in front of him on some special point. I do not mean to
make light of such things but the noise was quite bad with the babel of men’s
and women’s voices, and it got on Mary’s nerves to quite an extent.
In the afternoon we had tea with the J.E.B. members and had a very nice time.
Mary seemed to like Miss Smith quite a bit, but she says that they are so
different from Americans that she does not feel free with them. They are all
We did not go up again on Saturday as we had quite a bit to do here at home,
and Mary had had enough of Japanese conventions for a few days. I was quite
tired myself from the walking and all in Arima.
Miss Cribb was here on Sunday for the last time as the Japanese worker is
coming up here this week. Tonight we are having a welcome meeting for him,
and then we all go up to Arima for a couple of days, D.V. for prayer and conference
on the work.
We are both learning some Japanese. Mary can give some directions to the
girl who helps in the house and once in a while can catch a word in the sermons,
etc. I have been neglecting my study the past few weeks, but I have a bible
class for young men every week in Japanese and it gives me good practice in
speaking the kind of language I’ll need in preaching.
Today I wanted to get a map of the district so went to the bookstore and
asked for a “choshi”, which means “a pitcher to hold sake” (the Japanese liquor),
instead of “chiyu” which means “map”. She looked at me rather funny, then
I explained what I wanted. Oh, well! It’s all in the life. I think my greatest
trial will be ducking my head for the doors and sitting on the floor. I crack
my head quite often now, and my knees “pop” and “snap” every time I sit down
or stand up Japanese fashion.
Lots of love to all of you,
(Based on content, estimate date to be May 20, 1930.)
Lots of scribbles in this letter – please pardon them.
Seems a long time since I wrote you – two weeks I believe. But I think of
you all the time. Wish St. Louis was a little nearer! Dear Mother,
I know it’s hard for you, missing Papa so much. We remember you every day
in prayers, as well as in our private devotions. I haven’t told you before,
but I’ve dreamt so often of Papa, etc. and wake up in the night thinking of
him. I wish I could be there, and with Ralph Page, put my arms around your
neck. I love you so. I’m so glad that Alice and Ralph have you with them for
you’ll all help each other I know.
I got Alice’s two letters written the 23d and 28th, with yours
enclosed in the former, on Sunday (May 18). My! But I was glad, and Watson
too, to get letters. One also came from Father Thornton. I read them in church,
during the sermon. Do hope that you’re feeling better now. Seems that you’ve
had to take so much medicine during these later years – I wish the Lord would
heal you. Have you ever asked Him for definite healing? I know the Lord does
heal, and one doesn’t have to wait until he’s dying to be healed, either.
We are praying along that line. Ask Alice and Ralph, and the others, to join
us. As Miss Cribb says, it’s much easier to trust the Lord and not take nasty
medicine! The two don’t go together, of course.
By the way – Alice always puts 6 cents on her letters, you know, they need
only 5 cents.
Got a letter form Mrs. Billings today, also one from Edna Asher. We grab
our mail with gusto, I assure you. I wrote Mrs. Billings a short time ago
and will write again. I owe Frank and Bertha a letter also.
Am sending by same mail a picture of the interior of a Jap. room. These are
places of honor in nearly every Japanese house. In our living room we have
just what you see in the center (with the white flowers in), called the tokemona.
All guests are to be seated with their backs in this direction. We have a
kakiemono (what you see hanging on the wall) ordered, which will have Matt.
11:28 in Japanese on it. In our big bedroom we have both a tokemona and what
you see on the left of the picture – both of which take up the entire side
of the room, as the 3 in the picture do. In place of the 2 doors above, there
are 4, and a lovely polished wood shelf, for vases, etc., instead of the box
below. Our tokemona however, is hid from view by a curtain for in the honored
place we have our wash stand, buckets, etc.! You see very well how the floors
are all laid with tatami. Tell Alice we do not wear shoes in the house. You
see how dirty the matting would get if we did. The white section at the left
of this picture is a part of the sliding door. There are 4 such between nearly
every room. In our house we have 43 sliding doors in all (not counting the
windows) all of which are made the same way.
Alice, we are always just 15 hours ahead of you in St. Louis, so map it out!
We pray for the Sunday night meetings at prayers on Monday morning.
17 of us were up at Arima, at a Japanese hotel for 2 ½ days for prayer, etc.
about the work. Lovely country, right in the mountains. A regular little mountain
stream running down the “back yard”, that could be heard at all hours. The
hotel is build like this and the garden was on the mountain side, as it were,
beautiful with trees, rocks, etc.
Up this A.M. for a prayer meeting at the kendo kan at 5 A.M.! I’m rather
sleepy now. It’s about 9 P.M. and Watson’s got his chapter analysis class
Much, much love. Kiss Ralph, Alice, R.P., Perc and Elsie for me.
Yours lovingly, tenderly, Mary Scott