Gash Thornton Letters
- From Wyoming, not yet Thornton- Three Letters
1930 - On Ship and First Months in Japan-
1930 - Getting Settled - Eighteen Letters
1931 - Preparing for Motherhood - Nine Letters
1931 - Twins are Born - Seven Letters
1930 - June through December - Getting Settled - Eighteen Letters
Sanda Hyoga Ken,
June 9, 1930
I am afraid I have neglected you these past few weeks, but I have thought
of you a great deal. Mary and I often talk of how nice it would be to have
you out here with us for a while. I think you would enjoy most everything
except the sitting on the floor in meetings and the taking off your shoes
coming into the house. I am also afraid you would suffer from the cold in
winter. Right now it is lovely. We are using three quilts at night but the
days are quite comfortable, especially the downstairs.
However, since it does not seem very likely that you will be out here soon
we will send you a few pictures. Maybe you will have seen them at the church
as I sent them to father last week. I will write the “specifications” on the
back of each.
I don’t know if Mary every told you about the way we take a bath or not,
so I’ll try to explain it to you. You know of course that our kitchen serves
as a bathroom also. Therefore whenever we have a bath I have to carry about
25 buckets of water from the pump and fill the tub which is about 3 feet square
and 2 ½ feet deep, and made of wood with a top which serves as a table when
we are not taking a bath. The stove which heats the water is built into the
bath with the firebox on one side enabling the water to circulate around the
stove thus warming it – the water – up. That is – the water warms up if there
is a fire in the stove. We burn coal in the bath tub – I mean “the firebox
of the bathtub”.
Now let me see – the bathtub is filled with water. After supper, I get the
hatchet Mr. Kennedy gave me and after finding a piece of wood, I chop it up
for kindling, then build my fire. If the wind is in the right direction, the
fire goes fine and the water heats in about one hour and a half, but if the
wind is wrong, the kitchen-bathroom fills with smoke and after a couple of
hours of fanning, etc., we have a lookwarm (sic) bath. Now for the bath.
All the pans, buckets, cups and spoons and the drinking water jar are carried
into the pantry and piled up on the table, chair or floor. Next Mary begins
to bathe. She dips out some water into a basin and takes a sponge bath – complaining
all the time how she hates to be wet and cold at the same time – You see quite
a draft enters the kitchen from beneath the house. Well after a lot of shivering,
complaining and a little washing she pours some water over her and starts
to climb into the tub, but says it is too hot, so I run out to the pump and
bring in two buckets of cold water and of course I let in more cold air, which
makes her shiver more.
After staying in the tub a short while she climbs out, red as a beet, half
scalded, and weak and wably (sic) as a new born calf, and runs upstairs to
bed, falling asleep as she does so to spend a good night. She leaves me down
there finishing my bath. After I have soaked well in the tub, I climb out
feeling somewhat as she did and if I have strength enough, I sometimes wash
the boards on the kitchen floor which manage to get rather dirty in a week.
But really, a Japanese bath is fine after you finish as you can go to bed
warm clear through and it certainly seems to quiet ones nerves.
I don’t know what else to write about so I’ll draw to a close. The Lord willing,
Mary is having all the Christian women in for a while next Thursday and is
planning on serving cake, sandwiches, and ice tea.
This letter really ought to go to Charley as I have never written him yet,
but tell him I’ll try to get a letter off in a week or so.
Lots of love to all the folks – Perc, Elsie, Ralph, Alice, Ralph-Page, Charley
and Madeleine from both Mary and
Your affectionate son-in-law, No. 2 Watson
Dearest Mama & all:
I’ve certainly backslidden in my letter writing. This is my first to you
since 3 weeks ago, I believe. Please forgive my laziness. It isn’t fair for
me to want letters from home as badly as I want them, and still not remember
how you all most likely want them from us too.
Sunday morning I was greatly disappointed because there was no letter from
you – altho’ Father Thornton’s came. You see, we watch the reports in the
paper of “incoming vessels carrying mail” – so we know when to expect it.
However, yesterday A.M. your nice long newsy letter came – and it made me
feel good. Praise God that He has taken away some of the loneliness and pain,
Mama. He surely doeth all things well……..Please continue writing long
letters. We’re glad to hear anything from home. So just write about
every little thing that happens.
Yesterday I planned to go in to Kobe all by myself the first time, as Aunt
Effe invited me to a big tea at the school to which only women (73 in all)
were invited. Well, I prayed and asked the Lord to take me there safely but
I was pretty nervous about going. Watson wrote down the name of the street
car I should get on when I got off the train, where to go when I got off,
etc. (I’ve made the trip 5 or 6 times, but never paid much attention –being
with Watson.) Well, I was all ready to leave the house and Watson said “Are
you sure you don’t want me to go?” – and I began to cry. Imagine! But
he got dressed real quickly and “took me” to Kobe. It may sound silly but
oh, it was comforting to have him with me, and take care of me. He is such
a good husband. I thank the Lord so often for him. Isn’t it a good illustration
of Christ and His “bride”? We got to for lunch – then Watson helped Aunt Effe
move some things around and left – took a walk – and came back at 4:30. The
tea was from 4 – 6. We had fruit salad, nuts, buttered raisin bread, cheese
biscuits, hot & cold tea, cake, cookies and peppermints. There were lots
of lovely flowers around. During the affair another girl and I both played
the piano some. I took some food up to Watson who was in Aunt Effe’s room
reading. After it was all over we left and took a long walk down in the business
section of the city – and didn’t get home until after 10. We were hungry so
we ate some cold roast beef sandwiches & some jam.
Did I tell you we made strawberry jam? It’s real good only a bit thin or
“runny”. About 12 pt.
Aunt Effe has heard of a house that is for rent during the summer on the
ocean, down on the island of Awaji. If it is not too expensive, we may (the
Lord willing) all 3 of us go down for about 10 days during July. It will be
lovely if we can go.
I’ve had another siege of mosquito bites. Am covered. We have a netting over
our bed – but it doesn’t seem to “work”.
If you see Jane Darragh, tell her I said hello. Wonder what she’ll do now
that her college work is finished?
Some of the strangest things are done in this country. Every A.M. at about
4:30 a group of Japanese young men run down the “main” street of Sanda yelling
something. According to Okasasan, it has something to do with their moral
culture – but it also wakes the people up. For a while we didn’t know what
it was and it rather scared me. It’s somewhat of a chant – only they seem
to shout it as they run down the streets!
We have 5 bouquets of flowers in the house now – all gifts but one. A large
vase standing on the floor with purple irises in it. Another tall vase of
big white lilies; some carnations – and some yellow & white & red
garden flowers and another vase of some sort of lavender flowers. Today a
large basket of potatoes was given to us.
Last Thursday I “entertained” 12 for the tea here. All were Christians except
2. Had iced tea (bought ice for the occasion) sandwiches (peanut butter &
strawberry jam) devil’s food cake, and date & nut cookies. From 2 – 4:30.
Had a word of prayer and scripture reading & a hymn at the close. I also
played & W. & I sang!!! It’s quite funny – but the Japanese here all
seem to think I sing well! Tell that to Perc & Chas!
Please give my love to all the dear friends there at home. I’m made so many
mistakes in this letter that you’d better not let the folks outside the family
A big hug & kiss to each of you!
With oceans of love – Mary
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
July 7, 1930
I had sadly neglected you these past few weeks I fear, as I have most of
my other correspondents.
It has been very hot and oppressive here especially on account of the humidity.
We have been having a lot of rain and the river has been specially high, even
covering the well from which we get our drinking water, but we have not been
inconvenienced very much.
You ought to see Mary’s new clothes. She didn’t have anything to wear about
town on account of the lack of sleeves, so she and Aunt Effe bought goods
for 3 dresses and a silk coat which we had made up by a couple of women in
Kobe – material - $4.40 (8.90 yen) – labour 7.50 yen ($3.75) – total cost
of 3 dresses – one print one (?), and one silk and one green silk coat – 16.30
yen = $8.15. Not so bad. Well, Aunt Effe brought them up yesterday
with three more which some of the teachers had given her. In all Mary
now has 7 or 8 which she can wear during the hot weather.
Mary is getting along quite well with her language study but we both feel
we would like to go faster. Please pray that the Lord will show us what to
do in September. We would like to go to language school somewhere, if only
for three months or so, but we don’t know whether we can or not, and we don’t
know whether it is God’s will.
The work is doing very nicely here in Sanda and also in Dembo, Praise the
Lord. We are constantly seeing new faces in the services, and many who have
drifted away are coming back. Also the S. School for boys seems to be picking
up a bit. There were 9 out Sunday A.M.
Mary and I are both suffering from what Miss Amy Carmichael calls “the sin
without a halo” (“Ragland Pioneer”) – in other words “nervous irritability”,
I get on her nerves, and she gets on mine. However, His Grace has been sufficient
for us up to the present, and will continue to be so. The services still get
on Mary’s nerves because of length, etc. Remember her especially in that respect.
Well, I ought to write to Perc, Charley and Ralph. Maybe I will sometime.
Say, ask Perc to look through his pockets for the letter he wrote Mary about
June 1 to 10th. We haven’t received it yet. I bet he forgot to
Lots of love. Watson
Postscript in Mary’s handwriting:
Watson talks like we’re mad at each other all the time, etc., but we really
aren’t. I love him just like I always did (or more, if possible) and vice
versa (!). But it is hot – and Japanese is difficult!
July 22, 1930
Watson & I have been thinking a lot about you as we think of Papa’s birthday
approaching. I pray that you may not feel over-sad when the day comes. Oh,
I’d love to be with you – but I don’t have to tell you that. Can’t you send
us some snapshots of you all?
I wrote to Aunt Joie yesterday, but as I forgot to bring her address with
me – I’m having to send it to Aunt Nan’s. We’ve not gotten any letters since
being here in Sumoto – but perhaps before we leave will get some.
We’re enjoying our vacation a lot. The house is big – but we don’t do a lot
of cleaning. On the first floor there is a dining room, study, 2 living rooms,
all high ceilinged and big – then the kitchen which is sort of separate from
the rest of the house, and which has 2 adjoining rooms , cupboards, ice box,
etc. Upstairs are 3 bedrooms, a small “sleeping” porch, a hall and bath room.
Aunt Effe does the cleaning and I do most of the cooking. We cleaned up an
old coal oil stove or rather Aunt Effe did, and use that for most of the cooking.
Yesterday, however, we used a renkan – it is a large cylindrical mass of some
kind of fuel which, when once lighted, burns all day. That’s a very queer
description, but I don’t know how else to say it. One of the things costs
about 17 cents – a day’s cooking fuel. We brought all our food with us, that
is, mild, canned stuff, etc. Here in Sumoto vegetables are very cheap, as
in Sanda. Yesterday Watson bought 10 medium sized cucumbers for 10 sen (5
cents) and about 13 large tomatoes for 15 sen (7 1/2 cents). We had a lovely
chicken to celebrate Aunt Effe’s birthday & cleaned and drawn it cost
only 1.20 yen (60cents). Pardon – W. says it cost less than 1 yen (50 cents).
Watson is doing the breakfast dishes for me now, while I write. Aunt Effe
is going to Kobe and will take the letters.
I see so many little inexpensive things that I wish I could send home to
you all, but the duty on things at that end is fierce.
We are surrounded by wonderful scenery here in Sumoto but everyone is forbidden
to take snaps because of government fortifications there. Maybe we’ll manage
to get some of the ocean, though.
I’ve not written Mother Thornton for such a long time that I’m ashamed. Also
neither of us have written to Helen about her coming out & I’m afraid
that by now it is too late. We’re all tickled about her coming.
Perhaps you’ve seen this before, but I’ll write it anyway –
Able to do
All that we ask-
All that we ask or think-
Above all that we ask or think-
Abundantly above all that we ask or think-
Exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think-
According to the power which worketh in us.
No, we can’t get good ice cream here. Only in Kobe or Osaka – and then it
doesn’t taste at all like it does at home. The Warrens have a freezer here
so we’ll try to make some.
So sorry about Viola Meyer’s. Tell Alice to especially remember me to her,
Helen wrote Aunt Effe that Alice was to have a baby. Aren’t you glad? I know
you all are and we are too.
Yesterday the school children were taken down to the beach for exercise &
then to swim. There were at least 500 kids from 6 yrs to about 15. My! What
a sight. W. says they do that in Japan a lot.
Sumoto is a large city – 27,000 – so you see, we’ve come to a different sized
town than we’re used to.
Watson sends his love & I send lots, too. Kiss Alice & Ralph &
Perc & Elsie & R.P.
Sanda, Hyogi Ken, Japan
August 6, 1930
After so long a time I at last take my pen in hand to write you a few lines
concerning our welfare (sic). I hope I get this letter written in a fairly
connected style. Mary is in the next room studying Japanese and she keeps
asking me the meanings of words so don’t be surprised if there are a few extra
words here or there in the letter.
The Lord has been very gracious indeed to us, and has given us more than
our bare necessities. Of course we try not to be extravagant but my conscience
sometimes condemns me because we have spent so much more than Yamashirosan
and his wife who only get 55.00 yen a month and light and rent – in all not
more than 70.00 yen a month while we spend at the very least 150.00 yen a
month and usually we end the month with nothing left out of our 200.00 yen
which we receive from Hope.
Our home life, I feel, is running much more smoothly these last few days.
Mary and I decided to try to live according to schedule, and so worked out
one as follows;
8:00 A.M. – Breakfast followed by prayers
9:00 A.M. - 12 M. – Private – for study or anything with as few interruptions
12:00 M – Dinner – main meal of day. Then rest till 2 o’clock.
2:00 – 3:00 P.M. – Mary’s Japanese lesson. I am helping her now as we can’t
seem to get anyone who is suitable. It is not the best arrangement but will
have to do till Sept.
3:00 – 4:30 - Liberty – for work around home, letter writing, etc. (it is
now 3:40 P.M.)
4:30 – 5:30 – Exercise – a walk if at all possible.
6:00 – Supper, consisting of a light lunch of some kind.
Of course we can’t always stick to the schedule exactly, because of visitors.
I always try to get my devotions in before breakfast but Mary has her devotional
hour right after family prayers. So far our schedule has been very satisfactory.
While we were in Awaji I gave my third message or sermon in Japanese. As
yet I do not know enough Japanese to be brief so I spoke for 40 or 45 minutes
but I believe they got the gist of what I was saying and one or two seemed
Mary has been quite troubled about her language lately, feeling that she
is not learning as rapidly as she might, but I am quite optimistic. Day before
yesterday on our way to Kobe she kept asking me the meaning of words which
she heard – and heard correctly – a sure sign to me that her ear is becoming
attuned to and accustomed to the language.
We are certainly looking forward to Helen’s coming out here and have fixed
up a room for her so that she can come up here whenever she wants to and have
a place to herself.
We have also changed the downstairs. The dining room is now the large 6 mat
room, and we have taken out the sliding doors between the 2 small 3-mat rooms
making them into one large 6 mat room at the front of the house so that we
do not now have to pass through the dining room to the living room, but step
right up into the living room from the entry way.
We have also separated the kitchen and bathroom and our house is 100% better.
I wish you could come out here and enjoy some of the scenery and sunsets
with us. This afternoon the sky is the loveliest blue with a few beautiful
white clouds, darker below, slowly floating across the mountains to the East
We both send our love and lots of it.
Sanda, Hiyogo Ken
August 9, 1930
Dear Mrs. Darragh,
Watson and I have never “formally” thanked you folks at Hope for the money
you are sending us each month, so I want to thank you all now. It’s awfully
nice that the Lord has seen fit to supply our needs thru our own home church.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
The Lord has been very good to Watson in his language study you know, most
missionaries don’t get to preach until they’ve been on the field for 2 or
3 years at least – but Watson has already spoken several times. While on our
vacation on the island of Awaji, he preached at the morning service in a Free
Methodist Church. Then,
on the street here in Sanda, twice in the open air in Dojo, where we have
a meeting every Thurs. night, and once at the prayer meeting in Dembo. The
Japanese all remark that his accent is very good and so he is much encouraged.
I am creeping along very slowly, but feel that I’ve accomplished something
I don’t believe I ever wrote about the organ here in Sanda. Well, before
our dendosha came and brought a nice big organ we had only a tiny little thing
which Miss Cribb has had for about 20 years. It was much smaller than the
one at Hope that is used on the lawn in summer, and was in rather a bad condition.
Middle C and one other very necessary note didn’t play at all, and there was
a decided high squeak at the top of the keyboard. So as soon as a hymn was
announced, if the “bad notes” were much in demand in it, I would have to change
the key. It made me feel quite at home. (By the way, we’ve heard of your new
organ there. Do hope that you’ll be supplied with a nice organist.) Mrs Yamashiro
and I take turns playing for the services here now.
This is an outline of the work here now. The regular services on Sunday (2
Sunday schools – one in A.M. and one at one o’clock), Tuesday morning prayer
hour from 5:00 – 6:00; Watson chapter analysis class, the book of Mark, Tues.
night; Wed. night prayer meeting; Thursday nite 2 open air services in Dojo,
a town 2 miles from here; Friday nite open air in Sanda or Miwa; Sat. A.M.
the Yamashiros & us have a prayer meeting; my English Bible class in the
Of course, the days are spent studying, writing letters, and for me, cooking,
etc. Since coming back from our 2 weeks vacation we both are studying better.
I had a nice letter from Miss Gertrude Brooks yesterday. She says – “However,
up to the present time the Reds have not taken our city.” We read of missionaries
being captured and held for ransom, and it’s not a very pleasant experience.
Suppose the newspapers there as well as here are filled with the news about
China. We were discussing the Red situation this morning with Yamashirosan
and he says that our Japanese gospel work is being somewhat affected by the
Red propaganda. The Japanese government believes that if the worship of the
ancestors is instilled into the people of Japan, the Red propaganda will not
have any power over them. Hence all the school children are taken to the shrines
and forced to worship while the older people are gathered in mass meetings
and preached to concerning Shintoism. This interferes sooner or later with
Christian worship….Is Miss Lange, or the Bests in the ravaged districts?
Hope you all have had a pleasant time in the mountains this summer. Mama
wrote that you had gone. How is Jane? I would love to hear from her, if she
cares to write. Is she at home now? Remember me to Mr. Darragh and the girls
We’re surely tickled that Helen is coming out, although it’s rather hard
on the church there.
Much, much love to you Mary
Note: Written on Hope Church Sunday School Letterhead
On May 14th, we workers of the Osaka Mission gathered at Arima
for two days of fellowship, prayer, and discussion. Arima is a little mineral
springs resort about 12 miles from Sanda, quiet and beautifully situated among
In all there were ten of us present and the two days together did much to
bring us to a more perfect understanding of each other. The meetings were
a source of great blessing to us, and even through Mary and I could not understand
all that was said or done, we felt that the time was very profitably spent.
We now have Japanese preacher at the Church here in Sanda, who is taking
complete charge of the work. He is a young man named Yamashirosan who attended
the Bible School at Kaibara
and received some of his Bible training under my father. I met him while at
Kaibara in 1924 and count it a privilege to be working with him again, for
the Lord has given him a message, and hunger for souls. He has been on the
verge of T.B. but the Lord has restored him. However his body is not as strong
as it might be. Will you not pray for him and his wife, who is also not very
Mary and I are both studying the language now, but find it rather discouraging
at times. The Lord has been very gracious to us for which we praise Him.
It is very wonderful to be in the center of God’s will whether here or at
Sincerely yours in the Lord Jesus Christ, Mary and Watson Thornton
Aug. 19, 1930
Just think, 6 months ago we left St. Louis – Feb. 17, wasn’t it? Time is
slipping away and the Lord is faithfully keeping us. Of course I’m awfully
homesick at times and long to see your dear faces, but that’s one of the things
for His sake, isn’t it?
When are Perc & Charlie’s and Madeleine’s birthdays? I have everyone
else’s but theirs. Hope to remember them all with letters at least.
Yesterday we put up some real nice peach preserves. Had to cook it an awfully
long time – hope it’s not too thick but on the stove it seemed very syrupy.
Have bought some Kellogg’s Bran and we like the recipe for muffins that is
on the package. I put raisins in them & the two of us eat 16 or 17 for
a meal! (small ones)
I have an easy recipe for salad dressing. Perhaps you’d like it. By the way
– did I tell you that I use Crisco for all my cooking now and it’s a good
substitute for butter. Beat up well one egg, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon
flour, 1 tsp. dry mustard, salt & pepper, 3 tablespoons vinegar &
butter the size of an egg. I put it all in my glass egg beater & whip
it up. Then add ¾ cup boiling water & cook until it’s thick. When cold
add about ½ cup cream. Quite economical & good. Makes enough to last us
a week (maybe).
Would you mind sending me recipes once in a while that sound good & are
possible for me to use. Remember – no pork or ham or bacon here.
Am anxious to hear how the kids enjoyed their trip. Hope Alice is well and
the others too.
I think of papa almost constantly but am so thankful that he is in heaven
with the Lord. That awful heat would have been terrible for him, wouldn’t
It is now a little after 3 o’clock. Watson is fixing to varnish a small table
for my room. It’s awfully hot and I’m going to try and get some writing done.
After finishing the preserves this A.M. we made & fried some doughnuts.
They’re quite good.
The Lord willing, we’re going to buy a dining room table this month. The
table that we’ve been using is just a bit larger than that red table of yours
and so it is quite inconvenient for more than 2 people to eat here.
Did you know that I got an ice cream freezer with part of a gift from Kathleen?
We’ve had ice cream twice. The other night we had the man & his wife &
2 children from next door in and ate vanilla ice cream with strawberry jam
on it & and little cookies. And cider! I want to have a washboard like
we have at home very much, but they don’t use them in Japan, so maybe I’ll
not get one. They use just all-wooden ones. I have a nice new wash tub – wooden.
The 13th, 14th & 15th of August were
feastival (sic) days in Sanda. All the good Buddhists spent most their evenings
& part of the days praying and hammering on tiny bell-like anvils, and
feasting. They believe that the spirits of their departed dead come back to
their former homes on these three days and unless they are well-treated will
in return for lack of hospitality, etc., curse the living relatives. The dead
are believed to be in torment and so these 3 days are a surcease from their
pain, etc. It was pathetic to see whole families bowing down before their
ancestral shrines, singing chants, etc. Many gifts were given also and many
homes looked very pretty with their lovely lanterns & piles of gifts,
candles burning, etc. How hopeless it is, though!
We’re hoping for letters soon & for those snapshots you spoke of. Keep
well all of you. Kiss Perc & Elsie & Alice, Ralph & PR for me.
So glad Chas. & the others were there with you on the 4th.
Much love to you, my dearest mother – Mary
Hope that to-day, being papa’s birthday, you haven’t been over-sorrowful.
Dearest Ralph & Alice:
Alice’s letter dated the 1st of August arrived this morning –
thanks! Seems like most of our letters come on Sunday. Got some from Edna,
Mim, Mother and Father Thornton and Bertha Widbin. The latter writes us very
faithfully and we enjoy her letters. Most of the mail we get comes over on
the “President” boats sailing either from San Francisco or Seattle. They are
faster boats than the Japanese, you see. Helen is coming on an “Empress” boat
– also fast boats. Almost everything about the Canadian & American liners
is better than the smaller Jap. boats like we came on. By the way – the Tenyo
Maru made her last trip not long after we sailed on her. Very old boat
and not used anymore as a passenger boat. Don’t know if this interests you
Glad that you had a good trip south---Ralph, you seem to be doing good in
the company. Will be glad to hear when you’re engaged in some of the Master’s
I’m just “getting over” a time of strenuous testing. For a week or more it
seemed that Satan had me about floored – but beginning yesterday afternoon,
the Lord has given me the victory. It’s awful to go thru these things, but
no doubt it is in His plan for my strengthening. It seemed remarkable that
in Bertha’s letter she had a clipping entitled “When God seems to forget”.
It points to those verses in Isa. 49:14-16 – “yea they will forget, yet
will I not forget thee”. Just suits my case. Sometimes
I feel like everybody, even my Lord, is afar off. It was awfully hot
yesterday again so that didn’t make me feel any better. Watson suggested that
we take the 40 min. ride up to Arima & go swimming in the fee pool there.
We went but just walked around instead of swimming. Arima is up in the mountains
& is very cool. We wanted to buy supper at a hotel but it would have cost
3.50 yen, so at 6:30 we decided to make a day of it and go in to Kobe for
supper! We got to the Daimaru lunch room at 7:30 and had a nice meal. Watson
had Japanese food (Oyokadonburi) and I had chicken curry & rice. For dessert
– chocolate ice cream! All for 1 yen. Then we walked back Matomachi (machi
= street) which is a long, highly lighted street lined with open shops of
all sizes & descriptions – no vehicles allowed on it, and always crowded
with pedestrians. We caught the 9 o’clock car back to Sanda & so got here
at 10. We have to take a spree like that once in a while – it makes us feel
better. You see, there’s not a place in Sanda, except the bad houses, where
foreign food can be had. These “bad houses” are where the geisha are, etc.
At 2 A.M. this morning Watson woke me out of sleep by laughing heartily.
He was dreaming some silly dream & had to tell me all about it before
we went back to sleep. I didn’t think it was so funny!
He preached this A.M. & had great liberty & a blessed message. Spoke
on I Cor. 1:26-31; “Christ, our sanctification”.
Now I’m tired & am going to bed. (Most likely my sweetheart has the bed
ready now with the mosquito net up! The mosquitoes are almost an inch long
Much love and kisses for you and Mama & Elsie & Perc. Love to friends.
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
During the past month, two very interesting but pathetic matsuri, or festivals,
were held here in Sanda. One is called the Jizo-Bon and the other the feast
The first is a festival for the patron saint of children. For 2 days small
shrines are set up in different stores and many offerings of candy, fruit,
cakes, etc. are placed before them. The children bring the offerings and are
all allowed to eat some of the sweets after first bowing before the shrine.
Then they buy small sticks of incense, take them home and burn them in front
of their homes. This is believed to bring happiness!
The feast of Hotokisan was held on the 13th, 14th and
15th of the month. The souls of the dead are believed to be released
from whatever state they are in, for those three days, and they come back
to visit their earthly homes. These days are celebrated much like our Christmas
time, as many gifts are exchanged, feasts are enjoyed, many homes are decorated
with beautiful lanterns & burning candles, and many prayers are sent up
for the dead. If the spirits are not thus “entertained”, they may bring evil
on the home.
Doesn’t it seem strange that in such a highly civilized nation these old,
heathen customs should be clung to? Of course, there are many who have dropped
them, but few have anything better. I read the following in the paper a few
days ago: “Wanisaburo Deguchi, Head of the Omotokyo Sect (Tenrikyo) is going
to leave for Europe soon to preach what his religion can do to save the world’s
souls.” How they need Christ and Him Crucified!
A girl who has been coming regularly to my English Bible class had a talk
with Mr. Asahina last week, and accepted the Lord Jesus as her Saviour from
sin. Sunday she attended Christian church services for the first time. I am
very thankful that God has done this at this particular time, as I have been
very down-hearted and blue. Pray for her – she has no Christian relatives
and may be persecuted.
Watson also is thankful that his Japanese teacher, with whom he has spent
many hours talking of Christ and the scriptures, has at last accepted the
Lord. We both praise Him for His goodness to them and us.
Do pray for the salvation of our landlord, his wife, two sons and one daughter.
They come to the church occasionally – but they worship idols in their home.
Pray for Watson as he preaches at Dojo on Thursday nights. Also for Yamashirosan
who takes the children’s meeting, which precedes the adults’.
Our Sanda open air service is on Friday night. The place where the meetings
have been held here lately has been wired off and a dance was held instead
last week. There are many geisha in the community. Pray that the gospel may
reach some of them.
We live in a terribly noisy neighborhood. Our nerves get rather on edge because
of the almost constant din of (mostly) crying children. The parents make little
or no attempt at disciplining them and as there are many young ones – well
it’s just too bad. Makes it hard to study. Pray that our nerves may be strengthened!
With love. Isa. 49:16a. Mary and Watson Thornton
Sep. 7, 1930
I want to thank you for the lovely dresses. Oh, it’s good to get them.
They’re just like you – I’m so glad you made them. I’ve put them on
and cried because I can just picture you sewing on them. You’ve done so much
for me all your life. Oh, I thank you. Somehow it brings you nearer than anything
yet…And the handkerchiefs in the pocket too. The Lord has been so good to
me. I thank Him and you both. The dresses fit perfectly. Did Alice try them
on? I’m sorry I’ve not seen what she sent yet because Helen couldn’t find
it last nite and we had to come home. But I do thank her and Ralph for whatever
it is. Watson’s handkerchiefs are nice, too…and thank you especially for the
tie. We were thinking that he needed some new ones.
Mother Thornton sent a lovely pocket book and sox for Watson. Helen gave
me a nice pair of silk and wool hose. It’s nice to get things from
Yesterday Helen got into Kobe so Watson and I went in the A.M. as we had
some shopping to do. First we went to the bank and then to Daimaru (Dept.
store) then to the Canadian Academy
for lunch. Only the teachers are there now as school doesn’t open until Wed.
Aunt Effe brought us an awfully nice brass set from Peking. Book ends, a heavy
letter opener and a candle stick. I know you all would like them, too. I wish
you could see the linens she bought over there! Lovely linen, handmade, finely
embroidered towels, lunch sets, scarfs, and a big dinner cloth & napkins
of all white, fine embroidered linen, with set-in lace. Things are very cheap
over there and she didn’t have to pay any duty. She got $88 (Mex) worth of
stuff for 50 yen = $25 (American). You remember last Christmas you gave some
lovely towels for gifts? Well, all the work is like that – fine cross stitch
& appliquéd work. Well, after W. & I saw the things, we went on down
town and got us a real nice dining room table. We had seen it at a 2nd
hand store the week before but it was ordered. I prayed that we could get
it if possible so yesterday the owner sold it to us as the person who had
ordered it hadn’t come for it. It is a round table with one wide extra leaf
and matches the chairs we have. (I think it’s oak – I’m not sure.)
It was quite cheap. We also bought a small wash stand and a set to go with
it (big china pitcher, bowl, soap dish, tooth brush dish, and one other article,
necessary here where we have no bathroom upstairs!) This is for the “guest”
By the time we’d finished our buying it was time for the boat to come in
(4 o’clock) so we went to the pier – but it was an hour late (the boat, not
the pier). At 5 o’clock she finally came in, although she had been in view
for 3 quarters of an hour. Of course, we were terribly excited about seeing
Helen and my! She looked good up there on the deck. There were 3 others with
her – all new teachers. She had on a blue silk suit – did you see it, and
blue pumps & hat – and she looked real pretty. Then we all (about 12 of
us – all from C.A. except W. & I) went on board & greeted them. The
boat was a beauty – the “President Jackson”. Helen was to have been on the
“Empress of Russia” but her sailing was canceled. Then we all went to the
school, had supper and talked awhile. Then after getting our presents, W.
& I came home – got here at 10:30 – worn out.
This A.M. I didn’t go to church as I have a headache & am very tired.
Watson preached and is not home yet. I must start dinner soon tho’ so I’ll
I was so sorry to hear of Miss Emma’s death. I will write Mr. & Mrs.
Wurdack right away.
Thank you again for your dear thoughtfulness and kiss the others for me.
Much, much love. Mary
P.S. Just before noon a letter came from Alice, dated Aug. 18. So glad to
get it. Isn’t it too bad about Blanche? Give Dorothy Butleiger my best love.
Hope Mrs. Billings feels better after her vacation. Remember me to all her
family – also Elton & Elvirs.
Write lots – all of you – Mary
Sept. 27, ‘30
It has been a long time now since I last wrote to you but after Mary writes
there is nothing much left for me to say. However, this week Mary hasn’t written
yet so I will take a turn at it.
We are quite well. Mary had a headache yesterday but seems to be feeling
O.K. today. She has been coming right along in her language study and is now
waiting for her exam to be sent down from Tokyo. Mine came down last Wednesday
but I will not take it till about Tuesday as my teacher will have to be with
me and he does not come again till Tuesday.
For the first time in my life I have been suffering from head-aches. Wednesday
and Thursday were specially trying days. I suppose it is because I’m trying
to learn Japanese in too big a hurry. Then too, neither Mary nor I have been
taking enough exercise. Quite often we do not leave the house in a whole day.
I know it is not right but I continue to do it just the same. Possibly I have
the beginning of what is known as “Japanese Head”.
However that may be, the Lord has been very gracious to me and I sometimes
wonder if He hasn’t given me the “gift of tongues”. Yamashirosan said the
other evening, that there are very few things which I say that are not understandable.
Of course my vocabulary is very limited but the Lord enables me to make my
thoughts understood quite clearly. Therefore if it should seem to be the Lord’s
will, I think I will not spend so much time on intensive study, but try to
get out and mix with the people more.
It is beginning to turn cold out here now, and so we are preparing our winter
clothes. We are also thinking about heat for the winter. Coal is very expensive,
and wood is also expensive. I think we will get a stove that will burn either
and try both to see which is cheaper. The Japanese don’t have any heat at
all in their houses except for a little sumi (charcoal) fire.
Thursday night was rainy so we didn’t go to Dojo as usual, but last night
we went to Arima and had two open air services – one for children and one
for older folks. We had fairly good crowds at both services and had a blessed
time although Mary got rather nervous by the end of the services. We took
the electric car up to Kanato, a station about 2 or 2 ½ miles from Arima,
then walked the rest of the way for the exercise. It was a beautiful walk
but uphill most of the way, so Mary was quite tired by the time we got there.
We saw the Asahinas and Miss Cribb. Mrs. A. who has been quite sick is much
better but Miss Cribb was not feeling well yesterday. I fear they found the
summer rather too much for them, and they do not seem to be able to rest at
The other day I made Mary an ironing board but I have to rig up some sort
of thing to act as legs for it, and the legs will have to be able to fold
up so that we can put the board away in the closet. I haven’t got it figured
out yet but I will some time soon. It always takes me some time to get my
brain to act. I have certainly found Pop’s tools useful, but I’ll have to
make a box for them as they are getting rusty.
Well, I’ll have to close now as I am running out of paper, and am clear out
Lots of love to you and the rest of the family, Watson
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
October 6, 1930
Dearest Mama, Alice & Ralph;
Today is known as “Imo Meigetsu” (bright moon) by the Japanese, and is the
day or rather nite, on which the moon is at her loveliest and many offerings
are placed inside or outside the homes in her honor. It is lovely – wish you
could see outside. This may be of interest to you so I’ll quote it from the
paper – “In general, people make offerings of 15 rice cakes, 15 small taro
(candy, I believe) and other edible things on unvarnished trays by the side
of a vase of miscanthus, bush clover, and other autumnal flowers. Usually
they are placed on the verandah under the moonlight, or in the house where
the light peeps in. The tradition has it that should the moon shine on that
night (i.e. the 15th of the 8th month of the lunar calendar
which falls on October 6th) fortune smiles upon the future of boys
and girls of 15 years of age. Young girls thread needles under the moonlight
with the belief that they will become efficient at sewing when they grow up.
(I’d better try this last stunt, don’t you think?)
This being Monday, Watson and I haven’t studied hardly at all. I slept until
10 this morning – a thing I’ve not done since we’ve been in Japan. I hear
the welcome sound of popping corn downstairs now so I expect W. will bring
some up pretty soon. He has been developing 12 plates (pictures) in the “bath
room”. I always help him when we print the pictures, but I can’t see for
the developing as only a very dim ruby light can be used.
Do you wonder where we get popcorn? Of course there’s none in Japan that
I know of so we can’t buy it. Well, we brought a little bit from America,
some of which Watson planted and we are using it now. It’s real good and next
year we hope to plant more. Then Helen brought 2 bags with her for us from
the Thorntons, so we’ve got enough until next summer! Sure is good – we pop
it in a tin skillet with a little Criscoe and salt. Oishie desu! (that means
it is agreeable to the taste).
Last Friday nite we (Watson & I) walked home from Hirono, the next town
on the railroad north of here – (about 4 miles) – and on the way I got an
awful toothache. My whole left jaw ached but I couldn’t tell which tooth was
causing the trouble. Went to the dentist here in Sanda on Saturday twice but
we couldn’t discover which tooth it was. However by yesterday morning the
one next to my big middle tooth, on the left side, became very sore. I suffered
quite a bit so had to go to the dentist in the afternoon. He was very nice
– I was scared stiff as I always am in the dentist chair. So he shot something
in my gums to deaden the pain, ground into the tooth and pulled out the nerve.
It was abscessed – but not a single sign of decay on the outside! He said
that most likely sometime I fell down and hit it some way and thus hurt it.
The pain kept on until last nite but today I feel all right. You might remember
that dentist in prayer. He has heard the gospel in Kobe (heard Father Thornton
preach). Perhaps we can be a further witness to him.
W. & I did a rather dumb stunt last week. We decided to walk to Kobe
from Arima, over the mountain. So we rode to Arima, spent some time visiting
with Miss Cribb & the Asahinas, had lunch with them and at 10 min. to
2 started up Mt. Rokko. We took the much longer path of the two possible ones and so,
after walking thru several slight rain storms and quite a bit of wind, we
arrived at Kobe at 6 P.M. From there we took a bus & street car to C.A.
We felt O.K. that evening but the next day and the day following I could hardly
walk. You see, we’re not used to mountain climbing and so it was extra hard.
The coming down was terrible – so many rocks, etc. However, we may do it again
soon as one sees perfectly wonderful views of the surrounding country. The
view of the ocean, or rather Osaka Bay,
was marvelous. So much water – looks like the sky.
My, we enjoyed Alice’s long letter – also the note from Ralph Page. Isn’t
it nice that Elvira & Elton have the boy? Don’t want to make you envious
but let me tell you how much our laundry bill is. I send out everything except
my underwear, handkerchiefs, stockings & sox, napkins and occasional dresses.
They charge 6 sen (3 cents) a piece for washing & ironing anything I send.
They washed Watson’s summer trousers & ironed them for 6 sen, my bedspreads
for 6 sen; my dresses – everything for 6 sen apiece. Not so bad, eh? Our bills
run generally about 5.00 yen per month = $2.50. By the way, if you’re thinking
of buying an electric washer you know the Thorntons have one that they think
a lot of and it carries a 5 or 10 year guarantee and only cost about $70 from
Montgomery Ward. It’s really silly to pay more!
Suppose you know that Edna Asher is married? She wrote and told me that she
was intending to. Perhaps you got the announcements – on Sep 13th
at her house. Married Richard Case, and is now living at 5630 Pershing.
Got a nice letter from Ada Rury. She is in nurses’ training in a Swedish
hospital in Chicago. Your testimony was of blessing to her when she was in
St. Louis last. Write to her if you can, as things aren’t very easy
for her now. Hard work, different associations, etc. Her address is:
5145 No. California Ave.,
Last spring when we came we went up to Arima for the J.E.B. Convention and
Mr. Cuthbertson spoke at one of the meetings. He put a little different version
on some verses in I Cor. 13 and I’ll show you how to use them. It’s sort of
a test that every Christian should be able to pass – but I’m afraid I’m pretty
poor – I Cor 13:4-8.
- Mary suffereth long. (no matter how bad thing seem?)
- Mary is kind. (Is it a characteristic of mine?)
- Mary envieth not. ???
- Mary vaunteth not herself. (My pride?)
- Mary is not puffed up. (My pride?)
- Mary does not behave herself unseemly
- Mary is not easily provoked (at her husband)
- Mary thinketh no evil (bad jokes, etc.)
- Mary rejoiceth not in iniquity
Mary rejoiceth in the truth
(11 – 14 – instead of getting
blue and down hearted?)
- Mary beareth all things
- Mary believeth all things
- Mary hopeth all things
- Mary endureth all things
- Mary never faileth – The Lord, or her family, or her friends?
(The questions in quotation marks (sic) are mine, of course)
I’m pretty bad in the light of those requirements. How do you all stand?
It’s enough to make us humble and pray earnestly for the love of Christ to
be shed abroad in our hearts.
Will be closing now. Tomorrow is general cleaning day – when certain officials
come around and inspect the houses! However, this “cleaning” isn’t as “intensive”
as the one in the spring. At that time, every house must have all the tatami
on the ground floor, of course, and the boards underneath are taken out and
the ground underneath swept, etc.!!!
Much love to all of you. Kiss Perc & Elsie for me, Mama. It’s about time
I was hearing from them. Must write to Chas and Madeleine again soon.
Watson says he sends his love – guess he means it. He’s awfully good to me.
I thank the Lord always for giving me such a good husband. Of course, I think
a great deal of the rest of you too…!
Much, much love,
I’m wearing wool stockings, underwear, etc. now. It’s cold! The underwear
is not the wool but those summer cotton suits that were either Alice’s or
Mama’s. Wear either a sweater or a bath robe around all day, besides!
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
October 20, 1930
Alice wrote and said that you were going down to Louisville to be with aunt
Nan and now I hope that the operation is successfully over and Aunt Nan recuperating.
I’m so glad that you could go and be there until after Christmas altho’ I
imagine the folks in St. Louis will miss you a lot.
Watson and I wanted a nice picture of papa made so we took the family group
picture, taken last Christmas Day, to a photographer in Kobe, and he made
an enlargement of Papa alone. I can’t wait for your birthday, so I’ll send
yours to you now. We’ve had just 5 made – one for you and for each of us kids.
I was a little disappointed in the picture at first but now like it more.
Do hope that you will like it. Am sending the others for Christmas gifts.
We were so surprised at the change in Ralph Page. Alice sent some pictures
of him, you know, and he surely has grown since we last saw him! I’ve had
a kimono made for him for Christmas and I only hope it’s not too small!
Friday morning at about 6:30 I was still in bed, but awake, when I felt the
whole house shake. This happened 3 times, and the electric light cord above
the bed swayed considerably. They were earthquake shocks but caused no damage
in our immediate vicinity. However, in some towns about 50 miles away, quite
a bit of damage was done in porcelain shops, etc. We were very thankful to
our Lord for keeping us from danger. Only one person, a little baby as far
as we know, was killed.
I took my examination covering the first term’s work in Japanese last Tuesday.
The Lord gave me wisdom and I did very well in the oral part. My written work
wasn’t as good as it should have been. Have I ever given you any examples
of the writing? I’ll write just a little to give you an idea of what it is
like. This is called “hirakana”:
Saturday was Watson’s 27th birthday so we “celebrated”. On Friday
Aunt Effe, Helen, and another teacher come up for the afternoon & evening.
Okadasan came and fixed sukiyaki – a “famous” Japanese dish – for our supper.
We ate sitting on the floor on zabuton, in Japanese dishes, with hashi (chopsticks).
The others were all crazy about it, but I don’t care much for Japanese food.
Sukiyaki is eaten right out of the pan and cooked while you’re eating. We
brought one of our hibachi (cooking stoves - burns charcoal) in to the dining
room and had it in the middle of the table leaf which we used as a table so:
On Saturday we invited some of the Christians in, all young girls about my
age, and there were 7 of us in all. We ate “foreign style” and so sat at the
table. Had spaghetti, creamed turnips, lettuce, tomato & cucumber salad,
homemade chocolate ice cream, cake, candy and fruit and Japanese tea. We had
some celery, which Aunt Effe brought from Kobe but which the girls wouldn’t
eat because it “smelt funny”. Of course, they’re all rather shy about eating
here, as it’s all strange food and they don’t know how to “manage” knives
How I would love to see you! Please give my love to everyone there and I
do pray that Aunt Nan is all right.
The enclosed picture will give you an idea of our front room. The door by
the piano is the one leading out into the “entrance hall”. We step down into
it. This room is really 2 rooms in one – right where the piano stool is standing
is the place where the shoji slide in to separate the rooms, but they are
too small that way. Notice the children looking in from outside. On the right
of the picture is where we go upstairs. There is a little space there in which
we have a small table and our mirror hanging on the wall. When we came, it
was sort of a closet, with shoji shutting it off from the room.
The kimono was given me by the landlord and his wife – is just a cheap summer
one. Pray for the landlord and his wife. At first they were
very friendly and really lovely to us. But now, for some reason or other,
they no longer come to see us, and they are quite unfriendly. He doesn’t want
us to have a stove put in for winter and he is objecting to our having the
children come into the house for S. School on Saturdays. Pray for their salvation.
They need Christ as their Saviour, as they worship idols now and are lost
Will stop now – want to write some more letters. Much love, dear, to you,
Papa’s picture is best looked at from a distance – considering the
picture it was enlarged from it is quite good.
November 11, 1930
You see Mary started this some time ago & I don’t want to waste any paper
so I’ll just continue. However I have revised the date somewhat.
I’m sorry I haven’t been more regular about my writing, but I just have spells
and it does take me such a long time to write a letter that by the time I
get one letter written the spell is work off, and so, right now, I have about
six letters to be answered staring me in the face.
We were sorry to hear of Aunt Joie’s abscess, but glad that it came out as
it did without an operation. Also the news about Aunt Nan was encouraging
and we hope she continues to improve. A week ago last Friday our landlady
suddenly died, and we are very much afraid that she died out of Christ, though
she had heard the gospel several times. The funeral was not held till Sunday
afternoon on account of the fact that Saturday would have been a bad day according
to their ideas because if the body had been buried on Saturday there would
have been another funeral in the family shortly.
We sent the family a wreath of flowers (white and yellow chrysanthemums –
a wreath 3 feet in diameter – gorgeous – for only 3.00 yen [$1.50]) so that
we would not be expected to share in the heathen idolatrous practices of taking
money to be offered before the coffin and ako incense.
On Saturday A.M. I took the wreath down and they asked me to step in and
view the remains – a privilege extended to few outside the immediate family
– God has indeed given us the hearts of these people. Pray that we may lead
them to Calvary. Well, she was laid out on the floor on the regular Japanese
“futon” or mattress, with several heavy quilts over her exactly as if she
At her head was a small table on which were some fruit, rice cakes, a couple
of lighted candles, and some incense kept burning all the time, all for the
spirit which was supposed to be in the immediate proximity of the body till
The funeral itself was very interesting indeed. Mary did not go with us,
as it is not customary for both a man and his wife to attend such functions
or ceremonies, but I’m awfully sorry she didn’t, she would have enjoyed it
We went from the house to the temple. First went the flags or standards of the
7 priests. After them walked the about 20 or 30 men in double file, each carrying
a wreath or basket of flowers (all artificial & white but ours). Next came
the close friends and relatives, also in double file, each carrying a sort of
tray – some had sprigs of green leaves in them while others had slices of oranges
or rice cakes fastened to an “artificial core” standing out of the hole. Next
came the seven priests in single file, each accompanied by a man holding a large,
red paper parasol or umbrella over the priest, and by one man carrying a large
red-lacquered folding arm chair, sort of like a throne.
After these came the 6 “musicians”. 2 had little anvils or bells; two had
sort of drums and two had cymbals. Behind these walked two men carrying large
lighted candles. Then came the bier followed by the immediate family and about
150 or so of us friends brought up the rear.
The ceremony at the temple was almost weird. In the center of the large court
was placed the bier on a sort of base. In front of it, as it faced the main
temple was a small table, on which was placed an incense burner, a bowl of
incense, a candlestick built in the shape of a stork with a lighted candle
in it. Also 2 of the baskets, one containing oranges & one rice cakes.
To either side of this table was placed another table and on these were laid
only a burner & bowl of incense. The wreaths were placed to either side
of the casket facing the temple. I thought that ours looked out of place as
it had on its card Psalm 46:1 in large letters.
Straight in front of the bier, but about 10 yards away, sat the head priest
robed in black and very dark blue, under his “umbrella”. On either side of
him sat a priest robed in lavender & grey under his umbrella. Behind these
two priests and at the side away from the head priest stood the “musicians”
as well as several “choristers” or chanters. The remaining 4 priests robed
in black sat two on either side facing the bier, making a sort of square.
When we entered the courtyard the chanters were chanting in a monotone, half
in a bass and half in a tenor. Next the mayor of Sanda stepped forward and
read something & put incense on the fire.
After this one of the lavender robed priests stepped forward sedately, bowed
to the head priest, then to the coffin, and flicked a “wand” (long horse hairs
[grey] on the head of a baton about a foot long) first to the right, then
left, then toward the coffin, after which he began to repeat some Buddhist
ritual with a very peculiar intonation of the voice. Beginning rather high,
he slowly at first, then more rapidly, lowered his voice as he slowly said
the words. On the last syllable of each phrase he would let his voice sort
of trail down out of hearing, only to begin again at the original pitch &
tempo. He also placed incense on the burner.
Next came the other lavender priest & did practically the same thing.
The head priest then read something, while seated, then arose and went forward
to place incense on the burner. As he did this one of the chanters began to
read in a sing-song voice and the other joined in every once in a while in
a chorus with the musicians bringing up the “rear”.
Then the 4 other priests stepped up to the side tables & offered incense
on them, after which the relatives & friends were called name by name
and they stepped forward, bowed before the bier, rubbed their beads together,
and put 3 pinches of incense on the burner.
I did not stay till all the people had done it but came on home. As I passed
out of the temple gate, the relatives were seated on some matting on the ground
to either side and they bowed to us & thanked us for coming. We (Yamashirosan
and I) were both given a bag containing an apple & 5 or 6 tangerines.
I wondered whether to accept them at first or not, but I remembered that Paul
said “the idol is nothing, etc.” so not to hurt their feelings I accepted
The whole service was rather impressive but without any hope in this life
or the next. We have a living hope, they have none.
Well, I’ve taken up a lot of space and I hope it proves of some interest.
We are both fairly well, though quite cold. We just bought a little cannonball
stove like the one we had on Dolman St. for 3.75 yen ($1.87 ½) and then the girl said I paid too
much. Of course it is much thinner but I guess it will heat up our rooms a
bit. Our front room is a very cheerful room now. Mary spent 8 yen ($4) on
some curtains and when the sun shines in the A.M. the room gets quite warm
without a fire.
I think you know that Mary got 89% in her exam, but I only got 84% in mine.
It is terrible to have her beat me, but I’m glad.
Lots of love to all the folks. Affectionately your son, Watson
Sanda, Hyogo Ken
November 17, 1930
Dearest Alice & Ralph:
I wish I could get back to my old schedule of writing. For a long time now,
I’ve just written letters hit and miss. We love your letters, Alice, and you
and Mama have been very faithful.
Mrs. Billings wrote us a nice long letter and enclosed some awfully good
pictures of you all. We’re sending out some of ours to different friends for
Christmas. Do hope those who do not receive them will not feel hurt as we
cannot possibly make them “go all around”. Most of the pictures Watson has
developed and printed and I helped some and of course he took them all with
I have a very bad cold and cough all the time. You remember that cold I had
after Papa died, when we went up to Carlinville and I stayed in bed for two
days? Well, it’s just like that one. Have had it for four days now.
Yesterday Helen & a friend came up and spent the day with us. The fellow
is awfully nice, plays the violin well and has quite a good bass voice. They
came for the morning service at which Watson preached, and left about 8 o’clock.
Watson bought a 4 lb. chicken, had it cleaned & cut up for 1.50 yen (75
cents) and we had it for dinner. First I fried it – got it nice & brown
& then sort of stewed it for a long time with a little onion and green
pepper in the water. Also had potatoes, creamed cauliflower, stewed tomatoes
and cake. I used a recipe that I copied out of a cookbook of Elvira’s “Jack
Frost Bkg. Pwd. Cook Book” for devil’s food cake. It was delicious with fudge
frosting on it. There is just 1 piece left after just 4 meals (2 yesterday
and 2 today).
We were to go to Dembo tomorrow but due to my cold and the fact that tomorrow
night Dakatasan is to have a cottage prayer meeting, we’ll not go until later
on in the week. When we go, we’ll get there about 10, have prayer for the
work until 12, then eat lunch; after that the entire group, Fugiwarasan, Tsukuisan,
Inamurasan, the Asahimas, Yamashirosan, Miss Cribb and us will have our picture
taken at a photographer’s. The picture is to be sent to friends who pray for
the mission in England and America too, I guess. I haven’t a bit of pep tonight,
and don’t feel at all like writing. Isn’t it a good thing the Lord’s feelings
don’t change as often as ours?
We’re sending Ralph Page a padded kimono – hope it fits him. If not, keep
it for the next one. Christmas will be so strange here! We hope, tho, to be
able to have a tree. Hope to be able to bake cookies, cake, and make candy.
Aunt Effe said she’d bring a turkey and so at least she and Helen and us will
We bought a nice table cloth (from Germany) for the folks in Dembo, and a
table scarf for the Yamashiros. Do hope your gifts will reach you O.K. We’re
sending things sample post but will register them, I think. Then they go like
It’s very strange yet sweet how time after time the Lord has shown me Prov.
4:12, “As thou goest, step by step, I will open up the way before thee.” That’s
the way I want to learn to walk – step by step, in faith. Pray for me. The
Lord is good and Watson is good and I love you all.
November 29, 1930
It has been an awfully long time since I wrote to you but I think of you
a lot. You’re having a birthday next month and so I’d like this to get there
in time to wish you a happy birthday. I am glad that you are there with your
loved ones and I pray always that you will be a blessing to them all while
you are there.
I hope that Papa’s picture got there safely. I believe that you get to like
the picture after a while even if it doesn’t seem very good at first.
We sent a little picture album to you and one to grandma, both addressed
to 1940 Maplewood Place. I’m
sorry that there is no explanation of the pictures in the books, but at the
post office here they said not to write anything in them or else they wouldn’t
go as sample post.
I am enclosing a slip of paper with some notes on the pictures. We have sent
out 20 albums in all to friends at home – all alike. Watson and I developed
and printed about half of the films ourselves and the other ½ had a photographer
finish. Got to be too long a job. We’re not trying to send out any other gifts
or cards even – except, of course, to just our immediate family, as it is
What did you all do Thanksgiving? Watson and I were invited by Aunt Effe to
have dinner at the school. Most of the students and teachers were gone, so there
were only about 25 of us in all. The tables were arranged like this…
and at the 2 x’s the “turkey carvers” sat. Watson and an older man, a guest,
were asked to carve! It was Watson’s first attempt at turkey, but he did very
well. There was dressing, with raisins in it, fruit salad, m. potatoes, string
beans, stewed tomatoes, bread & butter, little individual butterscotch pies,
nuts, fudge, fruit and coffee. After eating, we all went into the sitting room
and had a little music. Helen, the asst. principal’s wife, Mrs. Parker, some
of the students, and I furnished the music, and then we “dispersed”. At 4:30
Mrs. Parker served tea in her sitting room upstairs in the dormitory, and the
few of us older people who were left, went in. Aunt Effe poured the tea, and
she served some real Chinese Jasmine tea which she (Aunt Effe) bought in China
at $8 (mex.) per lb. We had cheese sticks, cake and candied popcorn. Watson
and I took the latter – it was in the shape of a cake with a hole in the middle
and we sliced it – very good.
At 5:30 we left for a Thanksgiving service at Kobe Union Church, but sad
to say not once was the name of the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned. Helen
had been asked to sing, but because her throat wasn’t in good condition, she
asked me to play instead. I played a group of hymns, such as I always used
at Hope, and I prayed that thru them the Lord Jesus might be glorified. Several
people thanked me afterwards and I was so glad to have a chance to witness
for my Lord. After supper at the school, Watson & Aunt Effe & I spent
the evening together, as Helen had a date, and went to bed about 10 o’clock.
We came home yesterday afternoon after buying our groceries and doing some
other shopping in Kobe.
I want you to pray very earnestly for me, Mama. I am having a bad time because
of certain conditions – something that I have encountered on the mission field
that is unexpected, and before which I am very weak. Pray that the Lord will
work out in me whatever He has in mind thru this trial. I’m not going to tell
you what it is, because I’d rather leave it with Him, but you can pray for
me, and the Lord will know what it is you’re asking for.
Give my love to Aunt Nan & Uncle Banks, Aunt Mary & Uncle Jo, Aunt
Mary & Uncle Ed, Aunt Joie, and grandma. Also, I hope that William and
his new wife will be very happy and I am praying that they will begin their
life together with Him as the Head of their home. Remember me to them and
also Margaret & her husband.
We mailed a package to you the same day as the album – do hope that it arrives.
It is a kimona and most likely will be very mussed due to the small package
it has been rolled into. Okadasan made it for me.
She is a very dear girl and a great help to me. Yesterday we bought her 2
nice aprons – made of a different material than she has been able to buy &
she likes them real well. For Christmas we are giving her a little sewing
box – she is teaching me Japanese now every day for an hour.
As she is going home, I will finish this so she can mail it. Much, much love
to you. Pray for Okadasan’s brother who is quite a bad person, that he might
be saved. She has to support him and her grandparents – getting only a little
from what her old grandfather can do.
Much love to you and a very blessed birthday and happy Christmas.
To the dearest mother anyone could have. Mary
Dec. 8, 1930
Dear Mother Gash,
“Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat, (but we haven’t got one)
Please to put a penny ( “ )
In the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny,
A “ha’p’ny” will do,
If you haven’t got a “ha’p’ny”
____ _____ ____ ____
Only two weeks and a half till it is here and we would both like to see you
all again so much.
Right now Mary is sitting in front of our little stove pipe with the bulge
on the end where we burn the coal, with her feet in my lap under Alice’s sweater
(which I am wearing) trying to warm up her “chilblains”, which she had just
recently acquired, and which are giving her a great deal of distress. As a
result of your sitting the way we are - by the by – we are both munching some
hard candy made from “mizu-ame”, a sort of syrup – my writing will most likely
be rather lop-sided. (P.S. Mary says my reasoning is also lopsided, but don’t
you think I’m almost sane?)
Last Tuesday, we started out for a walk at 5 in the evening and decided to
walk about 2 miles toward Arima then take the street car. We would have supper
in Arima and then come home. We bought our tickets and started walking, but
I am getting rather tired of the food at Arima and I had promised Mary a birthday
dinner in Kobe, so we changed our minds and after walking almost 3 miles we
took the car to Kobe and had our supper there. It tasted just like the food
in Arima but we had apple pie and ice cream and then took a walk down Motomachi
window-shopping. We got home at about 10:30. Every once in a while we do tricks
like that – about once a month or once in two months – then we come home and
try to figure out how we can get through to the end of the month.
But, truly, God has been so good to us. We do not have too much but we have
never lacked for any thing we really needed. The second and third months we
were out here, we were rather pinched because our check on the Union Easton
Trust Co. was bad, and we had to make it good at the bank here. However, even
then, we had enough. I have just heard that the Japan Evangelistic Band is
quite short financially and that the Japanese workers have been cut 20% to
30% and the British missionaries about 40%. It makes it very hard on them.
One young man, married with one or two children has only $14.00 for this month
and this is the third month. Please pray for them.
God is indeed visiting Japan these days in judgment and in mercy. We had
quite a severe earthquake shock Saturday A.M. at 5:30 and it gave us quite
a scare but there was no damage.
Sunday God was pleased to give us a very blessed day indeed. The message
in the morning was on the Second coming of our Lord and was a means of blessing
to almost everyone present. One young man of 18 or 19 was much broken up because
his father told him that if he did not give up his faith in Christ he would
have to leave home the next day with only 10.00 yen as a stake. However, God
has answered prayer, and the father has not said anything as yet.
We had a big crowd (about 30) Sunday night and the Lord was with us in power,
so that 3 raised their hands as accepting Christ as Saviour, and 3 others
remained to be dealt with. May it please God to continue His work among us.
I must close now, but we both send you lots of love.
Your affectionate son, Watson