And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground ...and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. Mark 4:26, 27
The salt breeze, soft as velvet, caused the palm fronds to shimmer in the silver moonlight. The plaintive cries of sea gulls merged into the close familiar music pulsing in the evening woodland all about us. Beyond was an empty stretch of motionless darkness reaching far out to the narrow ridges of changing white which we knew to be the water's edge at low tide. Only a soft low murmur came from the sea, for the deep had withdrawn itself. Now and then we heard the piercing whistle of sandpipers from the wide strand deserted by the ocean. A broken path of gold from the moon and a scant sowing of starlight showed us the water moving out there where the sea moaned softly in the lap of the placid harbor. This was Dar es Salaam, the "Harbor of Peace," where "storms if they come can lead to no thundering violence on this flat quiet shore." (Elspeth Huxley, in "Sorcerer's Apprentice")
Looking southward toward the town, we saw street lights along Ocean Road and Azania Front outlining the deep curve of the harbor where large ships sketched in lights, the solid part of them all phantom dim, stood at anchor like palaces of stars. We watched the flash of automobiles dashing back and forth along the faraway borders of the beach.
Dar es Salaam was to give us many silent moments like this - of drinking in the stillness and the intense beauty of the Oceanside; of meditation, our memories returning us to other waters, and other harbors of other years. We thought of Hawaii; of Fiji; of Singapore; of Rangoon, Burma, "The City of Peace"; of Calcutta, Bombay, India; and Karachi in Pakistan. With the soft breath of Dar es Salaam we vividly recalled the shores of New Guinea, and remembered little "studios" under the tremendous spread of rain trees at Madang and Lae; and recording scenes in the Leas' garden where we could look down from a high bluff into the blue-blue harbor of Port Moresby. We thought of these New Guinea waters and of sowing there in the languages of "ol boy b'long New Guinea." Wewak to the north, one of the most beautiful of all Australian New Guinea harbors, held memories of much sowing under much difficulty - in 13 or more tribal languages, for people who have little or no light. Ours had been a swift nine months of recording in that wonderland island. Now the records had returned to all the 215 tribes for whom they were made. Surely "His word runneth very swiftly" - keeping pace with the urgency of the calendar, and its days "swifter than a post"!
We thought also of the beautiful harbor of Sydney, Australia, where ship crews from the Solomons had been among the first to sit behind our microphones in the early days of this long trip. Now, the post which had found us out here on the coast of East Africa had brought great news from the staff recordist Don Richter.
I believe I can report that a complete coverage has been made of the Solomons and that there is no island or language who will not be able to hear God's Word in their own tongue [115 languages for these Pacific Islands], or in a close dialect which they will be able to understand well.
His letter also contained a bit of prophecy as to his onward plans: I'll work Bougainville as quickly as possible - then on to Dutch New Guinea. I know it will be hard; [Dutch New Guinea is where some of the hinterland is just now being opened up by pioneering missions aided by M.A.F.] but we know the Lord is with us, and that's everything.
Snapping on the small lantern flashlight hung beside the back seat of our jeep station wagon was all it took to make our car an evening-time office. To the right of this rear single seat, the built-in floor covering the baggage provided table space, and a narrow board across the front of the chair made an ideal typing desk. Opening our accumulated mail on an evening like this became most thrilling, as, in an environment which vividly recalled our many other "nests" of passage, we felt realistically near and with those whose letters were read. One long envelope with an Australian stamp, from Gospel Recordings Incorporated, 339 Sussex Street, Sydney, was from that branch of the work which came into being during the first year of this present voyage. Stuart Mill, director there, wrote: "Our first masters are being cut and records processed for the Australian aborigines." Seventy-five languages, some of which are for "the most primitive men on earth" had been recorded during the year previous to his Solomon Island tour when Don (aided by Ed Nash a part of the time) traveled throughout the interior of Australia making records for the Australian Blacks.
It seemed only a vivid yesterday when we had leafed through that wonder-book year of 1952-53 which had brought us the New Guinea languages; the establishment of a full-fledged Australia branch; the coverage of Borneo by our staff recordist Vaughn Collins and a co-worker, David Hogan (lent to us by the Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship of Australia); and also, the arrival of Don Richter in Sydney, from whence he set out for the Australian aborigines and later the Solomon Islands.
By now Vaughn and David had covered the bulk of the languages of Malaya, Indonesia, and Thailand. And just this time last year David had returned to Sydney; later, he and his bride settled in a very needy part of New Guinea where one of their assignments under the South Sea Evangelical Mission has been the carrying on of Gospel Recordings work in the making and distribution of records. And Vaughn? In October of last year he embarked from Singapore for Indo-China, and wrote us about the many tribes pushed down from the north as they fled communist armies. Here was a strategic opportunity to prepare the message in their own languages - that for the first time the song of salvation might burst upon their ears and understanding!
In this same stack of letters there was one with fancy Cambodia stamps - from Vaughn. Tearing it open quickly we read:
As far as I know, the work in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia is finished. The big question now is Burma. I believe the door is going to open; but what should I do if it is delayed? I expect to go to Siam from Cambodia. Would you suggest, Joy, that I try for more recordings in north Thailand? The rainy season ends about November. I wonder if the Lord is holding Burma closed until then. [In January of 1956, Vaughn entered Burma!]
As we read this letter, Vaughn's entire career flashed before us as upon a screen. His course had always been charted in the most politically unstable areas of the Island East; and so often he had moved forward under sealed orders, as it were. As he began his work with us at the age of twenty-three, we were surprised to notice a recent letter which mentioned his twenty-sixth birthday and a new military status, therefore, of V(5)A. To the suggestion of a vacation in Australia, Vaughn's classic reply had been, "What's the point of going to Australia? Are there more languages there to be wiped up?" Obviously, there was no thought in his mind of slackening the pace. Instead his recorded tapes were hastened to the Los Angeles studios and marked "Urgent" (this word simply expressed the import of East Asia politics today) with the result that Vaughn's strategically won languages for the Red-flood-danger fields have been processed immediately and returned. For this reason, before he left Indo-China, Vaughn's letters could be spiced with news - not only of the romance of sowing, but of the early reaping in the fields now yielding their first spring blades of light!
"One of the phonographs was lent to a Vietnamese Christian at a town only recently released from communist control. He has taken it to all the villages around there and a lot of people have believed through the records and this man's testimony. No missionary [Vietnamese-speaking] has ever been to that area, nor a native preacher."
And another item of interest in this letter was, "November 1-20 Cambodia is having its first international fair. The Christian and Missionary Alliance has a booth. A shipment of new Cambodian records will be there in time! These will be sold." [Although the records are sent out from Gospel Recordings free of charge, postpaid, they are sold sometimes to the people by the missions for a small sum which merely covers the cost of duties or freight charges within the country.
Another more recent envelope from Vaughn, with Thailand postage and sent from Bangkok on October 4, contained this morsel of good news for us. It read, in Vaughn's cautious manner, like this:
I'm pleasantly surprised with not only the extent of record use, but also with the way they are being used. A large percentage of missionaries are keeping phonographs in circulation among the nationals. Missionaries (China Inland Mission, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Baptists, Presbyterians, etc.) are enthusiastic record users.
Opening a few letters, and drinking thirstily of them had filled our hearts to overflowing. We could close our eyes and see them again singing with us - staff in Los Angeles, in Sydney, in London, along with "the boys," Don and Vaughn - "singing in the ways of the Lord" that favorite hymn:
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
And give Him the glory - great things He hath done.
Answering letters in daytime "Offici Willy" filled many more hours in Dar es Salaam - the song of praise played upon the typewriter in rhythmic joyous ecstasy. And from a friend, who sensed the "dancing heart" between the lines written to her, came a reply so definitive of Dar es Salaam and the gladness sown and reaped in our contemplation of His wonderful works, His swift-winged fulfillment of the purpose intended before the consummation of the age - "for this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness, then shall the end come." The airform from Memphis, Tennessee, read:
Dear Joy, Your letter arrived from Dar es Salaam this week... I had not seen this
little poem of Rosetti's until now, and it makes me think of the rejoicing heart.
But Christ can give thee, heart who loveth thee
Can set thee in eternal ecstasy
Of His great jubilee
Can give thee dancing heart and shining face
And pleasures of the river and the sea.
Certainly our letters home spoke often throughout this chapter, of "pleasures of the sea."
We drive over to the beach about a mile away at every opportunity. Since our jeep is my little office anyway, I take it wherever I go. Sometimes I let Ann and Sanna use it, and sometimes we prefer setting up our air mattresses like chaise longues on the sand against a palm tree. We are just fascinated and delighted with the changes in tide and the many colors of the ocean before us. The breakers are not massive but gentle, and you might say that they hardly break along the shore, and yet they do mildly. The breeze from the sea is so exhilarating, and we can drive the car so close to the water that the air fills our lungs and hearts with refreshing life. The salt air, the smell of the sea, the picturesque ships and little sail boats ever to be seen making their way toward the horizon - these are treats that we never get tired of.
If letters to friends at home spoke of the "pleasures of the sea," they also told of sowing beside these waters - of the fascinating busy days of searching out languages and recording in a variety of tongues as the African young people, many of them bright Christians, came to our Tourist Cottage "studios" in Dar. In converse with our home staff Joy's Sky-Riter spelled out:
One day we were discussing the languages obtainable here. Since we had not been in town long, we had very few lined up. Ann remarked, "If we only had Marian Halverson with us!" She had recently "hostessed" and "organized" us at the Lutheran Mission Station of Kinampanda, Central Tanganyika; and had done so with such skill that we were only machines - everything was takencare of. And would you believe it! We had not been here two days until whom should we see but Marian Halverson. She was hundreds of miles away from home, but the need for dental work had brought her to the coast! She had to be here about ten days, and during that time she helped us in many ways. It was so sweet of the Lord to do this when we were strangers here... The Lord certainly answers prayer about languages from day to day. It is amazing how we find them!...
It was our happy guidance to take advantage of every language opportunity - it may be the informant was a bank clerk, a London University graduate, a medical student; or perhaps the neighbor's houseboy; or the dhobi at our own boarding place - and we proceeded in the spirit, as well as the letter, of the word that counseled us: "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good."
The Smith-Corona continued happily chatting about other incidents between the parentheses of the morning and evening that made another day.
It has seemed very hard to find a likely Makua speaker. One morning Sanna mentioned the matter again. "Where can we find a Makua?" Every day a ladhad been ironing outside our window. We didn't know whom he belonged to,but just then I said, "Why don't you ask the boy outside what he speaks? We may have diamonds in our own back yard."
She looked up with, "Aisei [I say]!"
"Jambo, Mama," he answered.
"What is your talk?" After a little prying, to our utter amazement we discovered that this boy, Salimo, spoke Makua. He was happy to help us; and with Marian's careful interpretation and check-back through Swahili, good Makua messages wererecorded this evening.
If, during these happy days, light was being sown and "cast into the ground" where again and again the soil was otherwhere and virgin to this seed, it was simultaneous too, that gladness, the twin of light, was not only sown, but blossoming in new colors every day. The world was carpeted with it. Our praise lists were longer than the time needed to put them down! And much of this gladness came to us in the many African Christians with whom we worked - they would arrive almost every day after four o'clock, with translated scripts in hand, to employ the "Ready-Corder" and microphone in both the living room and the back yard at our "home" on Scott Street.
The joyous typist captured the essence of this experience also in her letters.
You would just love the African Christians. You might think that the difference could not be noticed on dark-skinned faces, but, oh, how great a contrast there is between the clean-cut, unashamed, smiling faces of those who have a good conscience toward God and man, and the others who do not have this experience! We feel so rich in African friends! After we have worked for hours with a lad and he has seen that we are interested in him and in his people, he is drawn to us as those of his own family. Sometimes these boys stand and thank and thank us for coming all the way from America to help their people in this way... One, after hearing his voice for the first time, remarked, "It sounds very well, Madame, but I find it very hard to become convinced that it is my own voice."
Another said, "Yes, it is good, it is amazing how much better it turns out than you think it could!" His name was Shadrack. It was he also who said, "These records will bring many people to the Lord." And his partner assented, "I think so too. Because it is in their own language, it is so much better!"... We have some African friends - Eleazar, Richard, John Shaba and others - who take it upon themselves to help us find more informants who speak some of the isolated languages to which we have had to give up the hope of going. These Christians feel the responsibility very heavily, and are very happy when they can produce a new spokesman for us. One or two Swedish missionaries of the Swedish Free Mission have put themselves out a good deal for this purpose too...
We had first arrived in Dar es Salaam after covering three hundred miles of dusty road threading through the Tanganyika pori of the highland steppes, through mountain passes, and a gradual descent into the tropical bush country. Entering the eastern seaport at night, as we did, out of the lightless interior where even the grass-roofed villages were infrequent, we saw this little town as a solitary jewel of modern civilization. - It sparkled with electric lights; with its arbored avenues of acacia trees; its modern buildings; corner service stations; English round-abouts bordered with flowers, planted in grass about a bronze monument; the holiday touch of the salty ocean breeze; gaily lit hotels: "The New Africa," "The Splendid," in which moved African waiters in long white kongu and red-fez caps that dignified their services to cosmopolitan guests - all of this had been an exhilarating shock to us.
Our "Willy," covered with the light gray pori, a bulging tarpaulin on his head (like any traveler in rural Africa) had whined loudly through the traffic of shiny little English motorcars and scores of bicycles, until presently we had come to Azania Front, and the harbor sparkling with a fleet of lighted passenger ships and toy-new sailboats standing close enough to be touched - almost - from the street.
Just one block north of the post office on Azania Front we could see the sturdy, red-tiled tower of the large Lutheran church, and minutes later we had parked our car in the yard of the parsonage and Guest House adjoining it. There the Rev. Mr. Danielson and his friendly wife had scanned our list of 18 languages - most of them representing tribes of road-poor southeast Tanganyika. He shook his head dubiously. "But where and how to get them! I have no doubt that they are in Dar [a town of 70,000 Africans from a great variety of tribes; as well as 25,000 Indians and 5,000 Europeans, mostly English]. Unfortunately, " Mr. Danielson continued, sympathetically, "our young people working in town or in school here are from the north and central parts. You say you already have their languages?"
"That is true, for the most part. However, they may have friends or contacts from these other tribes."
"It is possible that they do. Miss Sherwood, our Swahili church service is at nine o'clock tomorrow morning. Come then, and we will put this before our Christians there. I believe they will help you."
And help us they did! Young Eleazar of the medical student's hostel took a sheaf of English scripts and later, Swahili ones, and with them he combed the hostel dormitories and came forth with Kipangwa spoken by a bright-faced Christian lad named Douglas who came from an area of southern Tanganyika, very much isolated by its bad roads; and Pogoro, saving us another trip of 300 miles; and Manda, Luguru, Yao and others on our list.
In addition to this aid from the Lutherans, an interview with the Anglican Archdeacon of St. Alban's, and with the Bishop of Zanzibar launched us upon a full sweep for records in all these tribal tongues - even the totally Moslem ones. The need could not be exaggerated among peoples who have no other ministry in their own tongue - not a scrap of literature, no hymnbooks, nothing, except in the trade language of Swahili in which their only church services are conducted. This was true of the larger portion of languages to be recorded in Dar es Salaam.
Yet it came to pass that from day to day the names printed in red ink on our language map were being replaced by the vivid life portraits of African young men in white shorts and shirts, white knee-length socks, shining faces, gracious manners, exhibiting keen interest and responsiveness. They were a precious lot - into whose lives had gone the loving labors and Spirit-filled vision of missionaries of varying denominational stamp but of the singlehearted effort that unites all whose "meat is to do the will of him" that sent them to these faraway lands.
These lads, in contrast to a larger number of their fellows, transplanted from similar environments, had apparently a Christian experience that was vital enough to fortify them, even in Dar es Salaam which, like any town in Africa, strongly tempts the uprooted African to new and glamorous adventures in vices. These may be modern but they are fatal to his Christian character, and often even worse than the paganism of his fathers. These, our new African friends, often opened their hearts to us and spoke of the great concern they felt for their own people, fellow students, and friends.
Eleazar spoke for all the Christian youth who helped us when he said: "As a medical student, I want to think of what my people need for the soul as well as for the body."
And John, of Nyasaland, looked up brightly, after completing a record, and exclaimed: "This is food! When the people are starving, we can put the food before them. If they eat, it is good. But if they refuse it, we still know that we have not failed to place the food where they can reach it!"
Nor can we ever forget Richard's comment - a fine looking young man of the Anglican brand - when discussing the shocking deterioration of African youth detached from their homes and the influences of the missions, he had stated profoundly: "It has been proved that education is fatal!" We would hasten to add, "unless a person truly knows Jesus Christ!" This Richard did not say; nevertheless his very educated presence enacted it.
Zebulun, from the country drawn in singular beauty by the great Usumbura Ranges, spoke most eagerly to us: "Madam, if you could just stay here and help us! Many who will not listen in church will hear the message if it comes to them in this way!"
On the afternoon of John's last recording for his people, in saying good-by he told us this:
"Last night some of us were talking about this work you are doing for our languages. 'Why are they doing it?' we asked. Why is America [so is a tourist identified with his native land in the eyes of these people!] doing so much to help our country these days? Can it be that there are many people in America who still feel like this - so keen to spread the Gospel? [Unfortunately the awakening world sees America on the cinema screen, and by it, judges the entire country!] We did not know the answer."
"It is true, John," we had replied. "There are many, many people in America who love our Lord very much; and these people are praying that every tribe and language may know of His salvation."
John continued, shaking his head thoughtfully, "We could only say, 'Surely God is working! If He will send you to scatter this message in all our languages, then it must be that our Lord will be coming soon!'"
At that moment we recalled the many other spontaneous utterances of discernment such as this last statement of John's. There was the old saint from India, who pointed toward the mountains of Bhutan as he stood upon the mission house veranda in northern Assam - and like an ancient prophet he said to us - "What is the meaning of this?" [The present making of records for closed Bhutan, as well as the needy Assam tribespeople.] "It is that the Day of the Lord is at hand. He has said, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.'" And again, in the hill country of the Khasi people of southern Assam, a dear old pastor had spoken, his wrinkled face a radiance of light, as he said, "Do you mean that all these tribes in our hills shall hear in their own tongues? Surely, then, His coming is near!"
There had been similar echoes from many other settings where the garden of the Lord blooms in its spectacular variety throughout the earth. Just recently an unmet friend in South Africa wrote us.
Some while ago God gave me the promise, "Behold I will do a new thing." [Joy Ridderhof's own "platform" at the beginning of this work seventeen years ago.] Within a few days I heard of the Gospel Recordings and so have rejoiced and been with you in prayer as you journey and fulfill your mission in getting the native languages recorded. I trust we shall meet when you get to Capetown.There are some 20,000 Africans in one location here, gathered from all parts of Africa. As doors close to missionaries, the Lord's arm is not shortened... and He has done a "new thing" for the spread of the Gospel.
This anticipates a brightening harvest into that Day of Consummation.
It has been a priceless experience in Africa, and in other lands as well, to find ourselves along with the people of the country to be "fellow workers together with him" in the field that is the world. When we were leaving Dar es Salaam after a month's residence there, both Eleazar and Richard came to say good-by. Eleazar's tribute - "This is a precious work that you are doing with the records" - came as a sacred trust from these hearts whose purpose in life is the same as ours, whose anchored treasure is the same. Much depends yet upon their effort, their hands and willing feet which must carry the records into the dark corners of Dar es Salaam, and eventually over the mileage that links the urban sojourner to his village home in the bush.
Just one hour following our first exciting look at Dar es Salaam, we had found our way down crowded Selous Street, through the Indian section of town where pedestrian traffic flourishes in the cool of the evening, and taking the right fork around a big white and black road-workers' khan we came along a bumpy sandy street through a forest of coconut palms, until just beyond the Indian Cemetery wall we found the driveway into Mrs. Dimishky's boarding place.
"Don't call me Mrs. Dimishky - Joy, Ann, Sanna - you can just call me Auntie." Her dark eyes laughing, our hostess spoke in her own inimitable style - that of a lovable duchess. And in just that charming way, with a train of the East in its special quality of hospitality, did Auntie take us in and make us comfortably at home in one of her three wee white guest cottages at Star-Drive. This rustic little house framed in abundance of bougainvillaea, set among coconut palms and huge tropical shade trees had proved to be a perfect provision for us. We had felt sure that there would be a planned place as soon as the question, "Where will you stay in Dar es Salaam?" had inferred the problem, as mission guest rooms are always full in the port town, hotels frightfully expensive (especially for three people!). In any case, regardless of shillings, neither hotel nor guest house could have really accommodated all of us and our work. Just before we had left Dodoma for the coast, a missionary of the hospital at Mvumi had told us about Mrs. Dimishky's inexpensive and satisfactory accommodations. (Dr. Paul White, of Sydney, Australia, writes in his series of books of this Church Missionary Society station on which he was the "Jungle Doctor." He is also on the Board of Directors, Gospel Recordings, Australia.)
How astonishing to see that our possessions - the grand total of them once borne by our "Hoteli Willy," a space of about 15 x 5 x 7 feet - could now fill with quite a clutter too, our four-room spacious home in Dar!
After a long era of being "at large" in Africa, or guests when accounted for, it was like dreaming to be on our own in our own quarters. Joy commandeered the alphabet into a rat-tat-tat-ing rhapsody on the subject.
You should see us under our own vine and fig tree! A cottage to ourselves and four rooms at that! We like our easy chairs. They are not fancy, but they are big and you can sit back in them. We have all the tables we need. Each one of us has her own office. We often sit down and say, "Don't we love our little home!" Imagine what a perfect set-up for double-header recordings, for editing, writing, and for entertaining our recording guests. Our hostess has given us an electric teakettle, and recently installed for us a kerosene refrigerator where we can keep cold drinks which, by the crate, are even cheaper than tea! Who could have planned a place so ideal - right near the beach, and in such a beautiful part where we can attend to shopping, legal affairs, editing of eighty previously recorded tapes and mailing them home, getting records in many languages! And the ribbons that tie it all into one grand gift are: enjoying the sea air and rest, getting caught up on much important correspondence, reports, and having long spaces of privacy for prayer together. We are aware that some of our friends have been asking for these very things for us. We love it, and we just can't thank Him enough.
At the loud clang of a brass gong framed in elephant tusks, we would assemble around the long dining-room table in the house of Mrs. Dimishky. Seated always at the head of it was Auntie herself, with blond eight-year-old American Tommy at her left, and on her right was George, a young Greek born in Egypt, boarding here until his wife and children should return from holidays in Aden. There was also Polish Albina with her tiny daughter, Carmen. Guests for meals only were also varied; sometimes dark-eyed relatives of Auntie who could speak to her in French and Arabic as well as in Swahili or English; friends who carried on telephone conversations in Greek; and, at times, a handsome Palestine-born Arab educated in Paris, who was known as "Tommy's father." There were occasional missionaries in transit to and from the Rhodesias, Tanganyika, Kenya, or the Congo - people of Scandinavian, English, Australian, South African origin - once in a long while even Americans like ourselves. And our meals were as cosmopolitan as the guests around the table - Syrian pottage, so tasty that we could better understand Esau's rash exchange with Jacob for "that same red pottage"; Indian rices and curries; Italian spaghetti and cheese; the delicacy of pigs' trotters in gelatine with tossed vegetable salad alongside - certainly meals were never dull, and we always enjoyed a dessert of mixed tropical fruits from the big crystal bowl kept filled and ready in the refrigerator.
"And where are you from, Auntie?" we had asked early in our acquaintance with our hostess.
"I am a Syrian, born in Palestine, born in Jerusalem, in fact. And I am very proud to have been born in the country of my Lord."
Then our eyes widened as she told bits of her own history: the youngest of 22 children, educated (as few Syrian girls are even today) in a Protestant boarding school in Palestine (her father had said that the education of his girls would be their dowry); in France for several years; a resident of Dar es Salaam since the days when lions prowled at night through the present business section; converted in her later years; now eager to make her life count for God, and her hostel a convenience to missionary guests.
Auntie Dimishky was no ordinary person, and the recording of her Syrian could not be done in an ordinary way. Actually, Auntie's record was to be an epoch. "I have spoken of my conversion in English, in French, in Greek, and in other languages, but to think of talking directly to my own people in Palestine just overwhelms me! I am so happy to do it! But how can I? In only three minutes how can I tell that story?
However, with a few encouraging words of guidance, and after a quiet half-hour in her room, one evening at nine o'clock Auntie was seated in our living room to record in the colloquial Arabic of Syria and Palestine. On one side of the record would be her own testimony of finding Christ, and on the other, the story of the woman at the well of Sychar (from the Gospel of John, ch. 4). "My relatives here in Dar often say to me, 'If the Lord is the same now as in the Bible, why doesn't He do miracles - we want to see miracles!' And," Auntie explained, "I just say to them, 'When you look at me, you are seeing a miracle.'"
The steady drone of crickets, loud chirruping of frogs, the sudden scream of a night monkey - these usual sounds of evening were no distraction to Auntie's concentration. Nor was the low bellow of a boat whistle announcing the departure of a vessel bound for other shores. Even the raucous yodel of an Indian soprano singing to the gods in a Hindu temple nearby could be ignored, as paragraph by paragraph the Syrian record was made.
"The funny thing about it is," Auntie reacted as she listened to her first paragraphs of "The Woman at the Well," "I am not speaking like I would if I were there (that is, in the upper-class Arabic), but I am speaking in the language of the very poor people so that everybody will understand it."
Reading from our English script, Auntie would think over a paragraph, adapting it to her people as she knew them. "I have seen that well," she told us; "I have tasted the water from it many times. It is in the country of my childhood."
Coming to the point in the story where the woman speaks her surprise at being asked a favor by a Jew when she is a Samaritan, Auntie suggested, "Is it all right if I put it this way? The word Samaritan has little application in Palestine today, but if I just say this, it will apply also to the Arabs and to non-Jews of all kinds. I will simply say, 'Why are you asking me for water? I am not a Jewess. The Jews have no dealings with us!'"
Approaching the climax of the story, after the woman had dropped her waterpot to run to tell the village people, Auntie questioned thoughtfully, "Now here, just what shall I say?"
Ann, following along with the script, suggested an answer: "Could you say, 'I have seen Messiah'?"
To this Auntie exclaimed, "Messiah? Why, He is my Saviour! I will say, 'I have seen the One who is my own Saviour. He is the promised One for whom we have waited.'"
Then followed the application when again Auntie asked rhetorically, "What is the gift of God?" Then, after a moment of earnest thought she answered her own query with a low, beautiful, but powerful voice, full of feeling and loving sincerity, vitalizing these simple words:
"What is the gift He wants to give you? He will give you the gift of eternal life. Get down on your knees and give yourself to Him. Receive Him as your own Lord and Saviour."
Auntie's eyes were moist as she heard the entire record replayed. Too overcome to speak, she merely smiled and nodded her head as we talked quietly of the processing and multiplying of this record to be sent to her friends, relatives, and countless others in Palestine. Would she pray continually for a fruitful harvest through this seed? We knew she would, with the compassion of one who knows and loves the land of her birth.
Besides Auntie herself, nearly everyone at Star-Drive got trapped into our employ at some time or other. Not only the boys, Salimo and Imanueli, but missionary guests who were fluent in Swahili were sometimes called in to check scripts, others gave of their time to interpret Tanganyika road maps for us. George was continually doing all sorts of odd jobs - fixing the refrigerator, finding a new spring for the recorder switch, installing a spotlight on the jeep; and in our last hours at Dar it was George who put the spare wheel back on the side of the car (this had been removed to oblige the city traffic officers), and who replaced the front bumper framework built to carry our two jerry-cans of spare gasoline. All this he did so generously, although sometimes it involved hours of hard work. But George told us, "When it is a real pleasure to do a thing, it's never hard work."
And last, but not least in importance was the help of our dear gazelle, Tommy. He first showed the three Aunties his spunk as a mouse-catcher! The fourth and last of the chubby little mice which met their fate in our rooms, like those who went before him, had trapped himself by jumping into a shopping basket. Our courage could only manage to carry out the mouse in the basket! But Tommy, seeing the mouse leap from the basket, chased it until he cornered it as its hole, and slew it with one "smooth round stone."
The first fat mouse had cowed us until that happy instant in which he sprang from a table into a large tin can which was promptly carried out of the house to the veranda to clatter there as the mouse struggled in vain to escape. The second mouse, seen a few moments later, had found his own trap (as Joy prayed he would!) in a tall empty carton. This likewise was promptly carried out to join the debby on the front porch. When a third mouse was seen shadowing the floor in a swift small darkness here and there, we wondered what he could do to accomplish his own destruction - for certainly he would. Sure enough, the next morning, he startled us with all his mousiness bold and stark within the great white depths of our bathtub!
"Auntie," announced Joy, laughingly, "last night our Ananias and Sapphira were carried out, but what can we call the third mouse which is now dashing about in our bathtub?" Tommy came to the rescue with his two kittens which he plopped into the tub - and so presently had ended mouse III.
However, it was another incident which had gained for Tommy his summa cum laude in the Gospel Recordings Africa Team.
It was Thursday afternoon when Ann was recording in our living room and, only two inches away from the "recording Auntie's" ear stood Tommy, bent on another inquisition.
"Auntie, I want you to tell me all the languages you've recorded."
"I'm busy, Tommy, I can't right now."
"Oh, Auntie, you must tell me."
"Yes, but Auntie, tell me because I know a man that speaks a language and I can't remember it!"
"I'm busy now, after awhile."
"But I have to know more now, Auntie, because I have to tell him at four o'clock."
"All right, Tommy." By now Auntie Ann sensed a plot! Slowly she read the list - "Makua, Makonde, Shambala, Luguru, Konkanin, Teita..." The little boy's earnest expression didn't change, and she continued: "Yao, Nyanja, Tumbuka, Pangwa, Manda..." Tommy looked crestfallen.
"Aw, it isn't any of those," he whispered.
Ann read on: "Zigua, Bondei, Pogoro, Ngoni, Rufiji, Ngindo - Mwera - 18!"
With the last word, the boy's face relaxed. "Mwera," he shouted, "that's it! It's down at Lindi, isn't it?"
"That's what he said, and he is from Lindi. He speaks Mwera. He can come Saturday afternoon." Then, stopping dead in his tracks, a look of disappointment on his face, the eight-year-old sighed, "Aw, but you've got it haven't you? You don't need it now do you?"
"But, yes, Tommy, we do, very much. That is the one language we most need at this time!":
"Do you really want him, then?" his voice quivering with excitement.
"Yes, we do."
"Well, he works Saturday morning until twelve, and he says he can come at four o'clock." Tommy had noticed that most of our boys came at four o'clock.
"Do you suppose he could come at two o'clock?"
"I'll ask him," and Tommy disappeared.
However his take-off was blocked by Auntie which had another errand for Tommy since her Imanueli was now employed by Auntie Ann's microphone.
"Tommy, I want you to go to Stuart's and get me some fish."
"But, Auntie, I can't. I have to go see the man about records. That's more important!"
"More important than what I tell you to do? All right, tomorrow you can go without your dinner!"
"Auntie, I'll tell you what to do - I'll tell the man; then I'll get the fish and bring it home when I come from swimming."
"Then," snorted Auntie, her arms akimbo, "are you telling me what you are going to do? You'll do no such thing. You'll go down and get the fish, bring it to me, and then tell the man."
At 6:30 in the evening Tommy again appeared breathless at Auntie Ann's side. "He's coming at 1:30 or two o'clock, Auntie. He had told me where his office was, and I went to see him."
"Thank you, Tommy. That was very good." And to this the little man responded, back straightened, head erect, a quiet gentleman's voice, his ever-surprising British accent, "Thank you."
Every day was garnished with those rare, and often humorous nuggets that collected in our notebooks of memoirs. There was the episode of Auntie crooning to her petite Pekingese puppy, Wendy, the smallest of the three pets, who always sleeps at the top left-hand corner of Tommy's little bed. We heard Auntie's soft low voice and English accent caressing the puppy with "Oh, Wendy, my dahling, my sweethaht." And then one evening I spied our houseboy Imanueli, unaware of observation, his dishcloth laid aside, stooping down to stroke the puppy, chanting in his own little falsetto an imitation of Auntie's English, which of course he could not understand. Imanueli was saying also, "Oh, Wendy, mah dolly, mah sweetha!"
As Auntie had told us several times in unmistakable terminology, Imanueli was not a "brain" by any means, yet he was one of the dearest houseboys we have ever known in Africa. Since our coming, he had heard "Auntie" so often that he automatically adopted it as a title instead of the usual "Mama" which is colloquial in Tanganyika, although upper classes usually address a lady as Madam or Mem-sahib (as in India).
"Hodi" - this "Here I am" replaces the door-knocker throughout all East Africa. The response is, "Karibu [welcome]." With such a salutation Imanueli would appear, not in his white kongu and red felt hat which he donned when serving meals, but in his plain, everyday clothes provided him by Mrs. Dimishky. "I have come to do my bedi, Auntie." Imanueli's quaint attempt at English was as characteristic as his ready smile and always sweet spirit. At Auntie's he was on call for many different tasks - tidying the cottages every morning (this meant mainly the folding up of mosquito nets, smoothing the two sheets on the bed and arranging a light coverlet over them); doing the dishes; cycling to market; keeping everyone supplied with boiled drinking water; setting the table for meals; then, in his white "nightgown" and cocky hat, Imanueli was waiter.
"Chakula karibu, Auntie [the food is here, Auntie]," as he placed the soup course in front of us. Every afternoon at 4:30 Imanueli came "to do my bedi, Auntie," which meant taking off the top spread, folding it neatly over the back of a chair, turning down the stop sheet, and cradling our beds in their snow-white canopies of mosquito netting. Just as regularly the boy came in again at dusk to switch on the veranda light which remained on all night until early in the morning when he again stepped into the front room to snap it off. His duties were manifold.
For a long while it had appeared that Imanueli would not be called on to participate in the recordings. We were sorry, but we already had his language, Kinyaturu of Central Tanganyika. One Monday morning Auntie Ann was editing tapes in her room when Imanueli came in to do his brief chores. Scarcely noticing him, Ann was intent on the little Bantu voice speaking in the recorder. All of a sudden she was aware of Imanueli, choking with excitement, ejaculating, "Mimi, mimi!" pointing to his top shirt button, "Mimi, mimi [mine! My language]!' Then in the midst of his laughter, thrusting his index finger at the recorder, he exclaimed again, "Benjamin! Benjamin! He izi rafiki angu [my friend]!"
"Do you like it, Imanueli?"
"Oh, goody, Auntie, goody, goody, goody!"
Auntie Ann threw back her head and laughed heartily - and then watched Imanueli listen spellbound throughout Benjamin's three-minute talk. Scarcely had the last "full-stop" been reached when Mrs. D's voice calling "Imanueli" penetrated the boy's consciousness. But before the inevitable, "Njo hapa [come here]!" he was off at top speed to answer the summons.
The next day Ann announced a happy piece of information. "You know, I find that we need two minutes' worth of speaking in Kinyaturu to go with a song!"
And so it was that on Thursday afternoon, October 27, 1955, a very serious Imanueli sat in front of the mike in our parlor studio, as he had so often seen others do. We could see that his short Swahili script had been read ragged, and we were sure of his Christian concern to do his work well. Yet we had expected the recording to take lots of time. Could Auntie spare him now? Yes, Imanueli nodded confidently, he was free now. Ann glanced at her watch. It was three o'clock. On a side table the teacups were arranged, and the kettle was on, for this was one time that Imanueli would have the fun of being served by the three Aunties in their own house - just as any bishop would have fared. Indeed, for this hour, Imanueli's role was as significant as that of a pastor, and his voice and message were to be as widespread and as often heard as that of even a bishop! "Things which are despised hath God chosen."
"All right, ready to practice the first sentence, Imanueli? Jaribu Kwanza [practice first]." And the record was begun.
Imanueli's face was light itself as he replied, "I am ready, Auntie."
Just as this moment a familiar voice soared across the courtyard, "Imanueli, njo hapa!" Instantly out of his chair, and moving toward the door, the boy explained with consternation, "My paper is ready, Auntie, but I got too much job!"
However, Mrs. Dimishky was her usual graciousness when she discovered how Imanueli was about to be occupied, and she gladly insisted on his returning to do his record. To Ann's amazement, the boy really was prepared and did a beautiful piece of work, speaking his lines with dignity and much expression. Presently they came to the quotation of John 3:16. Desiring that this should be exactly the same as the translation in his Kinyaturu New Testament, Ann suggested, "Do you want to go and get your Bible and read it?"
Then, pointing to his head, Imanueli replied, "No, Auntie. You see, I got bank here." And with a blissful expression on his face, he leaned back, folded his hands like an archdeacon, and recited it word for word.
After supper and his evening work, Imanueli appeared at our door with his brother and sister. He had brought them to hear the Kinyaturu message recorded this afternoon, explaining soberly to us that they were in Islam and he wanted them to hear about Christ. Thus Imanueli had caught the real point of the records - his voice had been made an evangelist to his own tribe.
Rapidly this month of October in Dar es Salaam had passed, and the time had come to pack and mail home our four cartons of edited tape; to wind up all other loose ends of work, assemble the total of our belongings and fit them into and on top of the jeep; and to head for the Southern Highlands of interior Tanganyika, eventually to traverse the length of Nyasaland, returning via western Tanganyika, to Ruanda-Urundi of Belgian Congo, and back again to Nairobi across the southern edges of Uganda and western Kenya - two and one-half months more of steady travel with frequent brief recording stops.
Before "folding our tents" to depart this delightfully long sojourn by the sea, we had one more long look at the harbor studded with jeweled castles by night, and by day a blue and emerald companion to the cloud-puffed sky and its blending blue. We watched the white fluff on the reefs overpassed by a full tide. White-winged gulls swooped and circled low above the water where ripples broke gaily into foam snowy like the gulls and the fleece above.
Our last batch of mail had been collected at the Lutheran Mission office. Eagerly we opened it. News flashes like a flock of homing pigeons alighted, in a haste of rustling tissue-weight pages, typed in sky-blue on the thin white paper. Reams of news fluttered in our hands from Gospel Recordings, Los Angeles, in the artistic script print of Marguerite Carter's typewriter. There was a letter dated October 13 which read:
I have just had a talk with Doris [Gibson] about the possibility of finishing all "outstanding" tapes by the end of the year, so that we could begin the Africa tapes January, 1956. She is counting the backlog today and it looks as though there are about 700 masters to cut between now and the end of the year. We believe it can be done.
At this date the Africa team was more than one year ahead of the processing schedule at home! The tremendous increase of languages (by the five of us abroad in different parts of the world) had upped our total of 450 in 1952 to approximately 900 additional languages by the fall of 1955. All of this had become an overweight to our valiant home-base staff. With priority given to the urgent tapes from Indonesia, Thailand, Indo-China, Kenya, and now Sudan, we reckoned that these 700 masters in arrears must have been tapes of India and Pakistan! Yet what part of the world these days cannot be said to be urgent? Knowing, as we did, how the home office files were filling with orders; the studio overloaded with hundreds of reels of tapes in new languages; the small staff of 24 there in Los Angeles buckling bravely under the load - with everything depending on them - our hearts were filled with mixed emotions, as we pondered this new decision. "Our goal," Marguerite had written, "is 60 masters a week in addition to the dubbing of all the Sudan tapes." While Doris proceeded with the cutting of masters in fifty Sudan languages posted from Kenya this July, Virginia Miller and Cam Murdock would tackle this new stint of 60 masters a week.
This was tremendous news to us. For if such a goal could be accomplished and maintained, for the first time in the history of Gospel Recordings, the studio at home could manage to keep abreast of incoming tapes. By gradually gaining upon us, they could within less than a year overtake us. This would mean that records could return to the areas in which they were made within a few months' time instead of, as is the case thus far, a year or more after the initial taping of a language. Marguerite's letter confided:
It stabs my heart that we should in any way fail our staff abroad who are counting on stalwarts at home... Think that by January, 1956, when we begin the Africa tapes - you will have been there over a year, and so many will be counting on your word that "soon" their records will come!
But how could they do it? We wondered as we thought of the human side of the picture. Certainly it could not be "by might [of numbers], nor by power [or physical resources], but by my spirit." A late news bulletin, compiled by Doris Gibson, spilled out of another long red-white-and-blue edged envelope from home. Under the caption, NEWS, Doris states the how of L.A.'s new push in the studio.
Your prayers will make our "impossible" mountain of tapes break forth into singing as we try to keep pace (dubbing, pressing, shipping) with our field teams abroad. In step with daily additions of new languages, we have begun to build another master-cutting room and have installed a fourth press in the factory.
And there was more and more news from the supporting bulwarks which alone could give real meaning to progress abroad. - From Australia: "On the assembly line in Sydney are the new 'box type' Austraphones." This meant that the deadlock due to a change in source of gramophone motors had been released, and resumed production of the new inexpensive phonographs could be expected early in the coming year, 1956! In 1953 Australia had taken the burden of gramophone production for us. They were able, through various new methods and special designing on the part of their engineers, to produce a rugged little machine for half of what they cost us in Los Angeles. Because of this great lift, we could turn some of our staff to the production of the records: the dubbing of tapes and the pressing of records.
There also had been a news note from Vaughn Collins: "A most ardent Moslem tribe, the only Moslem tribe in Indo-China, recorded." This news of the capture of the Cham records brought to our lips in chorus its East Africa synonyms - Rufiji, Ngindo, Mwera - a part of the same triumph and answered prayer. At the end of his task, our Moslem Rufiji informant had commented on the carefully checked messages in his own voice and language.
"Do you like these talks, Moso-Isa?"
"Yes, I love them. It is the pure Word of the Lord; and if a man has a sound mind, he must love them!"
Again our hearts were singing as we turned finally away from our oceanside home to take up the safari in earnest once more.
The days of real sowing would begin with the return of the records to these needy places, in some ways the neediest of all Tanganyika.
Throughout the weeks which added mileage, languages, and a host of new experiences, new friends, new lands and currencies in Africa, we finally came back to Nairobi and to Kijabe station of the Africa Inland Mission, our present "home" on January 9, 1956, to receive news from L.A. that told the exciting story of how the tape mountains were brought low:
November 17, from Virginia Miller:
Doris and I did 19 sound-effect masters this afternoon. The dubbing is really going wonderfully. She thinks we may finish by the end of the year.
November 13, from Doris Gibson:
Week before last we cut 86 masters. It meant nearly every night in the studio for me until 10 or 11 p.m.
December 10, again Virginia wrote:
We are maintaining our goal of 60 masters a week.
December 30, and finally:
We made our goal of masters and are busily at work on Sudanese with everything else cleaned up except some of Vaughn's tape that just arrived.
"Blessed are they that sow..." The busy hands of secretaries, technicians, electronic experts - handling intricate wiring and specialized instruments; the hands of those who run the steam presses in the factory; of those who "sleeve" the shining discs of light, putting each into its paper envelope; of those who print the labels, pack the boxes, ship out the gift parcels to hundreds of ports around the earth. Mable Erlandson must keep track of the postage regulations of more than 140 countries of the world, as Lloyd Olson's department packages them out at the average rate of 4,000 records per week (yet this is far from the crest of things to come!); and the busy Australian hands that die-cast the metal framework of record players, assemble and post them off (2,000 of them thus far) to give sound to the plates that serve up sermons for the ears of jungle tribes in Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, India, and throughout the mission world.
"Blessed are they that sow..." with hands actively engaged - or without hands at all, just with hearts ready to prayerfully wing the seed to its garden place; to obey when the still small voice indicates a need to pray; to give, to speak; to sing in praises alerted for that sound of His feet upon the threshingfloor - the sheaves gathered in from His harvest.