Articles - Luxury In A Loft by M. E. Barber March 1899
“Luxury In A Loft.”
By Miss M. E. Barber, Keng-Tau
This letter from Miss Barber was published in a periodical called CMS Awake! with the following note:
[Awake has printed several letters from Miss Barber. Our readers will remember that Keng-tau is in the Fuh-Kien province of South China.—Ed]
So I might head this letter, for I am having quite a new experience! Our house at Keng-tau has been too much injured by the typhoon (a very violent wind) of last month for us to occupy it, so I came down to the district, not knowing where I should take up my quarters.
Here, at Sa-soo, four miles only from Keng-tau, I discovered three nice airy, if not lofty rooms, and at once decided to make them my headquarters. In England we should call this place a “loft,” but to me it is quite a home already. I have got furniture from Keng-tau, and my meals come every day from our kitchen there.
Here arose a difficulty. If the cook lived at Keng-tau (there is no place for him here and no kitchen) how could I get hot meals? Bright idea! I need not have a servant here, for I possess a Rippingille stove. I had it brought up and its fuel with it, and so you can picture me—lighting my stove and preparing my own evening meal, and sometimes all my meals, watched by many curious eyes, for to the Chinese a stove like mine is a perfect wonder, and its reputation is already far and wide.
What a curious place China is! I am never tired of noticing its peculiarities. Yesterday, coming home (to my loft-y home!), I was caught in a storm, and my coolies had made a path for themselves in what seemed to me a pathless swamp. They floundered here and there, and groaned and growled as only coolies can. After carefully weighing the worst that could befall me, I sat and laughed at such performances on their part as I had never before seen executed! I was glad I could laugh, for the situation was anything but pleasant, and might have ended in my getting a bath, a cold one too, in green slime!
We got home all right, and although I laughed at my coolies, they know I sympathized with them, poor things!
Now what are my luxuries, you ask? Apart from the fact that I have every comfort, there is the supreme luxury of helping forward some of god’s dear children, a luxury I enjoy every day.
I had a dear Malay woman in my station class. Although earnest, I always felt she did not seem very promising as a possible Biblewoman. But we left the district for many weeks, and last week and this I have been visiting with her, and have quite altered my opinion. She led me to one house where five families have given up their idols through her influence and now serve God. To my joy these young women converts, and even the children, had learned to pray, and to repeat the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, and some hymns—all the work, under God, of this dear Malay woman.
I have been visiting with her again to-day. In one house we had a real good prayer meeting. I taught the young woman I went to see,
“Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin,” and she can read it quite nicely now—all except two characters* which her teacher could not remember!
In teaching, I have sometimes to pause and sometimes am even compelled to go and ask someone a character, unless I am teaching something I myself have previously learnt. Such is Chinese!—fascinating, but always a mountain one has only just started to scale.
Now I want to ask prayer for this village. Its name is Sa soo; its population, about 120 families; its Christian population, fourteen families only. Its church, only lately built, has, at present, only a mud floor and no seats. The poor, hard-working Church members cannot afford even the narrow, backless forms which our churches all boast of! I have lent six forms. At present each man who comes to service brings his form with him! It is not a very comfortable arrangement, when the household he represents possess only one; and this, believe me, is often the case.
Pray for China. Surely God pities her and means to save her. Praise God that He has His messengers in the dark corners of His fair world.
*The Chinese language has not an alphabet like ours, but many thousands of signs or “characters.” which stand for words or parts of words, and are very difficult to remember.
— Source: CMS Awake!, Volume 9, Issue 99. March 1, 1899. London: Church Missionary Society.