West China Union University,
Dec. 28, 1923.
Dear Aunt Ida, Uncle Henry and Cousins,-
It has been on my mind a long time to write you, but I have never settled down to it till to-day. Likely Wesley will have told you that I have been laid off work for three m months with sore eyes. It has been rather a trying time to a chap like me w who is used to be on the go all the time. I have spent the greater part of it in a dark room, though I am able to get about now in subdued light, and they are gradually improving all the time. I was in the hospital five weeks. For a time it looked as if I might lose the sight of one eye but the doctors now claim that they see no reason why I should not make a complete recovery, though they are getting stronger provokingly slow. I have lost a whole term of teaching in the College, and that has been very disappointing both to me and to the students who expected to take special work with me. But if I emerge withmy eyes intact it will not be so bad. The fact that I have not been able to read at all, has made the time rather tedious. I have been able to run the gramophone and have given myself quite a musical education, for everybody lent me records and the very best classical music was at my disposal. I have also been trying to learn to so typewriting in the darkI am doing this letter in a dark room, but as you ssee there is plenty of room for improvements.
Apart from my sore eyes the family are all well. Myrtle has never come back to her former robust health, but is fairly well, and considering how near she went to the border with that stroke when carrying the twins she is really a miracle. So are the twins. Edward EArl is a sturdy one, the stro strongest of the bunch we think. Ruth is not so strong, but is real well an aand they are both as happy as the day is long. They are now about three and a half years old. Paul is a fine sturdy chap. Short like his grandpa Madge. He started to school this fall, and is getting on well. Harold is not so strong, takes cold rather easily, but is seldom ill. He is the most active of the gang. He should make the best forward in a football team. He is now in the second book and is eight years old. He has been taking music lessons for a year. Martin has improved in physique, and keeps well. He is not not husky, but growing well now. He was ready to write the Entrance at ten yea years but we held him up. He is doing well in Music, and took off the Introductory a year ago. Naturally we think we have a pretty nice little group of kiddies. We have not heard anything from you since 1919 I think it was the date of a letter in our letter files. You have been called to pass through very deep waters since then, as you had to also before then. It seems very hard for us to realize that you have only Addie and LLYod left of you sturdy group. I meant to write when George went home, but I fear I did not. It will be very lonesome about the housewithout Edith and George too was such a lively case. Our mind often go back to that year we sspent so near you. It was indeed a very happy one, and you were all so kkind to us. Most likely we shall have to spend most of our nest furlough in Toronto, for Martin will be in High School and I shall have to do some further University studies if I am not to reckon as a back number here at this University. However we hope to spend at least one good spell around home. We heard that Addie had one little boy, but that was some years ago. She may have quite a little flock now.
I do not know how it seems to you but I like to think that our moved ones are conscious of what we are doing and are quite near us all the time. This thought has often helped me when I thought of my father. His life has always been a steading influence to me and my thoughts of him are always cheerful ones and not sad at all. If we could only pull away the screen we should see the spiritual world which is the real world. For after all the things that count are the unseen things. We cannot see mind and and will and hope and faith and love. And yet what would life be without them. I feel quire sure that there must be many times when you feel that EArl and Edith and George are very near. And then we always can bank on the thought that it will not be very long until we shall join that grand company that have gone on before and there there will be neither sorrow nor crying.
Our University and its work goes on well and increase with leaps and bounds. Ten years go we had about twenty students in the university. Now we have two hundred..and we think the quality as well as the quantity of the students has increased as well.
In the Middle or High School we now have three hundred students, which is all the building will accommodate Smaller groups of Students are in the bible and Normal Schools. Every year we are now turning out a small, but splendid group of preachers, treachers and doctors., almost to a man Christian. More and more are these young men taking the lead in all good things in the province. But it is hard even for us here on the field to fully realize the enormous amount of ignorance and superstition with which we and they have to contend. Sometimes the task looks absolutely an hopeless, and humanly speaking it is so. The number of Christians are just the merest handful in comparison with the total population Our hope lies in the young men that come to us for instruction year by year, and it is a never ceasing miracle to me that they so come and that they stay until such a great proportion are Christian.
Politically this province is in an awful mess. We have had civil war now continuously for a year, and the end is not yet. The rival armies have swung to and fro on the road between Chungking and Chengtu until that strip of country is laid waste, and these two great cities impoverished so that business is at a standstill. Worthless paper money is forced on everybody, brigands a bound everywhere, and life and property are very unsafe. Three times last spring our eity here was besieged and shut up. Two Missionaries were last summer murdered in cold blood, but apart from that the lives of the foreigners have been almost miraculously spared. Armies marched through our campus, but no harm came to any of us. We are very greatly bothered with petty thieving, and we hear some ugly rumors but on the whole we are allowed to go about our teaching as if all were peace.
Now I think I shall close. Myrtle wishes me to send you her love. Martin has quite a clear picture of Aunt Ida in his mind and also sends his loven I trust that this will find you all real well. I have often thought I would write a letter to Uncle Josh, but I guess it will not be done. Please five him our best regards. They too, have had a very hard time with operations and sickness.
With Love to all, Fred