Lottie Moon Letters
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DATE: Mar 13, 1875
RECIPIENT: Tupper, Henry A.
RECIPIENT ADDRESS: Richmond, Virginia
SENDER: Moon, Lottie
SENDER ADDRESS: Tungchow, China
PROPER NAMES: Southern Presbyterian Mission Northern Presbyterian Mission London Missionary Society Southern Methodist Mission Yates, Matthew T. Crawford, Martha (Mrs. T. P.) Holmes, Sallie (Mrs. J. L.) Moon, Edmonia FOREIGN MISSION JOURNAL
TOPICS: economic development cultural development ships mission societies churches schools children church members language training communication skills
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Tung Chow, China,

March 13, 1875 

Rev. H. A. Tupper: 

My dear Brother, 

      Early in January I was unexpectedly called away to accompany my sister to Shanghai, to which place she had been ordered by her physician. To face the dangers and discomforts of an ocean voyage is never pleasant, but when duty requires, there is no more to be said. Accordingly, in something over a week after the command to go, we found ourselves casting anchor in the river at Shanghai. Imagine yourself suddenly transported from a quiet country village to busy, bustling Broadway, and you can form an idea of the change from Tungchow to Shanghai. Here, we have no trade; business stagnates. Men fail to find employment and many of them seek it abroad. At Shanghai, it is far otherwise. First, there is the foreign settlement, English, French, & American, with an infusion of other nationalities. Where the Caucasian goes, he carries energy and an inferiorNext Hit race is aroused by the contact. In the foreign settlement, one sees large & handsome public buildings, while the private houses are not Previous Hitinferior to those in cities at home. Where the English are found, fine horses may be expected, & Shanghai is no exception to the rule. Go out after five o’c’k in the evening & you will see handsome carriages drawn by well-kept horses, and gallant horsemen, dashing past, on their way to the paper hunt, or perhaps simply riding for recreation. The Chinese are imitative & now & then you see a trap full of Celestials driving usually at a more sober pace than foreign affect. The Chinese likewise use the wheel-barrow, an awkward, ugly concern with the wheel under the barrow, and the jinricksha, which they have introduced from Japan. Such are the sights of the foreign settlement where many Chinese live, willingly paying the additional tax which secures them a home within the concession with its better government & greater privileges. 

      To the native city with its narrow, dark, crowded, filthy streets, its odors, its sounds, no words could do justice. It would doubtless be fatal to a foreigner to reside in this native city. 

      After a stay of nearly two weeks in Shanghai, we set out for Soochow to visit some friends, of the Southern Pres. Mission. After my experience of Chinese travelling in the North, I was surprised and delighted to see how comfortable we could make ourselves on a native boat. The day was beautiful & we indulged our love of exercise by rapid walking along the banks of the canal.  


      We had but one adventure, which, without being dangerous had at least the zest of novelty. About two o’clock in the night, our boat came into collision with another boat. One of our men, to make sure of recovering damages, at once boarded the enemy’s vessel, and seized upon some property belonging, as it turned out, to a passenger on that boat. The intruder was instantly set upon and he seemed in danger of being pulled to pieces between his captors, and his friends who were seeking to rescue him. Then followed that fierce quarreling which is so characteristic of the Chinese, but which means nothing. We ladies would have been alarmed, but our kind and thoughtful escort, Rev. Mr. Dubose, assured us there was no danger, and we heard the altercation with no little amusement. Finally, a compromise was effected & we proceeded on our way.  

      Time would fail to tell of the wonders of Soochow, the great pagoda, the ink pagoda, the twin pagodas, the great Confucian temple, the rockeries, the temple of five hundred gods, the bridge of ten thousand ages, the handsome shops, the immense crowds of people. Here, at last, I felt, was the China of one’s youthful dreams, the China which artists have sketched & of which travelers have told glowing tales. The people too, with their lively manners & soft Southern tongue, are different from those of North China. But for all that, I should not like to live in Soochow. The city is intersected with canals which are receptacles of filth. Then there are many stagnant pools from which fatal miasms must arise. The climate, too, even in winter, is very debilitating as compared with the bracing air of Shangtung. There are four missions in Soochow, the So. Presbyterian, Northern Pres., London Mission, & So. Methodist Mission, comprising in all twelve foreigners and a number of native assistants. As yet the work is in its infancy. The missionaries there, as a body, are young, cheerful, & hopeful. 

      Speaking of the great pagoda, it may not be out of place to relate a superstition connected therewith. Dr. Yates is my authority and he had it from a Chinaman. The city, says this story, is built in the shape of a tortoise. As there is water all around the city, the sage inhabitants feared the tortoise would some day walk off into the water. The pagoda was therefore erected to keep him in his place. There is also a story of the twin pagodas & the ink pagoda. The twin pagodas having been built, the luck was not good. The fortune-tellers were consulted, & they said that the two towers were like pens. What was the use of pens, without ink? Hence, they must build a pagoda making it black & the luck would then all be right. Hence arose the ink pagoda.  


      While we were absent in Soochow, the Sabbath of the Chinese New Year, Dr. Yates had the satisfaction of dedicating his new church, which he has re-modelled at a heavy expense, the larger portion of which he has borne himself. And this leads me to say that such is the modesty of the Doctor that he will not write of his sacrifices for the cause, nor tell how nobly & successfully he has worked to build up a true Christian church. Where other men have sounded loud trumpets and announced wonderful achievements which existed largely in their own imaginations, (I do not refer here to any missionary of our Board,) the Doctor has worked on quietly & faithfully, sending now & then only a brief, cautious, modest report. While many have yielded to the temptation to overestimate the value of their work in the accounts sent home for publication, I rather think that our missionary in Shanghai, in his scorn of humbug, has erred in the other extreme. He has been inclined to make too light of what he has accomplished. The new church is perhaps the most complete in its appliances of any in China. The provision for ventilation, & for lighting it at night, is equal to that of any city church at home. Then the baptistry is all that could be desired. It is in the rear of the pulpit, shut out from it by folding doors. Leading into the baptistry, on either side are dressing-rooms, also supplied with gas-burners. Within each dressing-room are steps leading down into the baptistry, so that the candidate is in the water before he is seen by the congregation & emerges therefrom entirely out of view. The church formerly fronted away from the street, but this has now been remedied. A valuable bell has been presented to Dr. Yates for his church. This Chinese church is far ahead of the majority at home in its adjuncts: there is a parsonage and a school on the same lot. One cannot but be filled with admiration at the wonderful economy of space here manifested. There was only a given amount of land: no more could be secured. The problem was to make the most of this, & it has been done. Every foot has been made to tell for some useful purpose. In the pastor’s house, is a room intended to be used for the assembly of the brethren one night during the week. Dr. Yates’ design is that the church shall form itself thus into a sort of school of which the native pastor shall be teacher, that so they may grow more & more familiar with the Scriptures. The pastor is a valuable man. Unfortunately he is so popular with missionaries of other denominations, that they are perpetually drawing him away from his legitimate duties to engage in some union meeting, or to give advice on some matter in which he has properly no concern. This is very provoking, but Dr. Yates has borne it with a patience that is simply admirable. How one missionary can have the conscience to interfere with the work of another in this way, passes belief, but nevertheless such things do take place. 

      The arrangements for the school are worthy of all commendation. The school-room is on the ground floor. Upstairs is the teacher’s room which opens out into a small veranda. Below stairs is a tiny kitchen, large enough, however, for the purpose. The teacher is a widow, with a sweet, pleasant face. She has recently united with the church. Mrs. Yates writes me that she has four little girls as pupils. This is certainly a good beginning, & doubtless the school will grow into wide usefulness. I had the pleasure of attending only one service in the new church. It was the Thursday evening lecture. Of course I could not understand the Shanghai dialect, but Dr. Yates said it was a very good address. Among other things, the speaker observed that the good news of salvation had always been communicated by men going from place to place. Thus it had been carried to the foreign country, & now it had come to China. Formerly, said he, one heard much of the wonders wrought by idols. Now, since the Bible had come to China, we heard no more stories of the power of idols.  

      Five new members had lately been received. The most gratifying fact about accessions to the church is that they are mostly relatives or friends of those already Christians. Thus the growth is natural & healthy. Dr. Yates is seeking to impress on the church that now is the time, as it were, for a “new departure.” With their new church, parsonage, and school, they should feel that all has been done for them that they could possibly ask, and that henceforth, they must put their own shoulders to the wheel, support their pastor, & work individually for the conversion of sinners. Dr. Yates seems greatly encouraged in his work. “No,” he said, in reply to a remark that Mr. ----- considered missions a failure, “No, they are not a failure. Here is my church in a retired part of the city, yet every Sunday we have a full house. People come from a distance to attend church. Even during the week, at night, we have a respectable congregation. Why, when we first came,” added he, “the Chinese used to run from us in affright. Now, all that has changed.” 


      The truth is, to a new-comer on the mission-field, the matter of astonishment is that so much has been done. Formerly there were no books from which to learn Chinese. There was no means of communicating even with one’s teacher except by signs. If you wanted to know the word for water or bread, for instance, you must show these to your teacher. Did you want to know how to say walk or run, you must go through with those motions, & so on ad infinitum. The New Testament was not translated & there were no hymns. Imagine a worship without hymns, & where only the preacher prayed, while all around was confused talking & people continually going out or coming in. Then – as to schools, there were no religious or scientific books such as the new missionary now finds ready to his hand in abundance, as soon as he is able to use them. Better still, he may sometimes find Christian teachers to put in charge of schools, where formerly none could be procured but heathen. 

      The more I see of mission life, the more impressed I am with the amount of hard work, real drudgery one might call it, of those noble veterans, the pioneers of missions in China, many of whom are now gone to their reward above, others of whom are still toiling at their posts with all the ardor of their early days, & yet with the added experience of years of active service. 

      I saw Quang san, Dr. Yates’ out station, only in the distance. The city is built on a mountain, the summit of which seems crowned by a pagoda. Here are a few Christians over whom is a native pastor. Dr. Yates speaks of him in the highest terms. Recently this pastor was in Shanghai & on Sunday night he was to preach. When he rose, standing there in the brilliant gas-light, with the crowd of expectant faces turning up to him, his ideas seemed all to desert him. It was certainly a trying situation to one accustomed to speak only to a few brethren in a plain Chinese house. Dr. Yates kindly told him that he understood it all, he himself had been through a similar experience. The result was that the man concluded that he would stay awhile in Shanghai & learn to preach to a large audience. This shows that he has pluck. 

      As to the cost of altering and improving the church, some seven hundred dollars were contributed by the churches at home. The Chinese gave about forty-two dollars. Of this, two dollars were brought voluntarily by an aged sister, very deaf, who said she wanted to have some share in building the Lord’s house. The Chinese workmen, heathen though they were, gave about twenty dollars. It seems hard that when a man has given his whole life to building a spiritual church, he should also have to furnish the means to construct the material one. 

      Here in Tungchow, schools, not only in our mission but in the Presbyterian, have opened with hopeful prospects. Mrs. Holmes has seventeen or eighteen girls & women. My sister’s school has gone up to fourteen. Mrs. Crawford has more applicants than she can receive.  

      We are much pleased at learning from a recent number of “the Journal,” that Mrs. Lewellyn will perhaps join us in Tungchow. There is a plenty of work for her & for as many more as will come. We long to see other large cities in this province occupied by faithful men & women. If you should send us too many workers for Tungchow (!) there is Hwang hsien, a city twenty miles from here, where there is not a single missionary. There are villages by the hundred where the gospel is heard only at long intervals, & very many in which it has never been proclaimed. “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” 

      Yours truly, 

      L. Moon 

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