Down through the years, many missionaries who went overseas took ships instead of planes. When we learned that fact, we decided to go by ship. Here’s why. When we had gone there in 1965-66, we had gone by plane because we had the children with us, and we each had our own baggage, which worked out well for the trip. However, this time we would be taking much more weight per person, and on the ship, that would be allowed, plus the price for the tickets was about the same. Thus, our decision to go by ship!
We decided to put everything into 55-gallon drums, because this would be the most secure way to go, and we could pack all we wanted into them. We even had enough weight allowance to take a couple of these barrels for one of the missionaries who was already in the Philippines, Ann Tolliver, who lived in Aparri.
Missionaries would take their cargo to the Home of Peace in Oakland, a certain place across the bay from San Francisco, where it would be stored until all of their cargo was together. We investigated the Home of Peace, but didn’t use it. We took our things in six drums along with two drums of Ann Tolliver’s, to the port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, and they were loaded on the ship there. Later we boarded the same ship in San Francisco.
I don’t remember much about the packing, but one thing I do remember was packing our Noritake China my mother had given to us for our wedding gift. It had been made in Occupied Japan, and was something that was very special to us. We also decided to take our best glassware that Lynwood Church of Christ had given to us as a goingaway gift. Perhaps you wonder why we were taking our best China and glassware with us to the Philippines. Well, here’s how that came about.
When we were still living in the house on Lassen Street, we had some very auspicious guests one night. They were Dennis and Lorrita McKinney who were missionaries to the Philippines. They had been on the mission field for one term, and they were able to give us some exceptional advice on what to take with us. One thing they said was that it got very tiresome eating on just run-of-the-mill dishes. It was almost like they were on a picnic all of the time, and this got very tiring. So Lorrita said we should very definitely take over our very best China and anything else that would make our little house in the Philippines as nice as possible.
She said, “Take your best dishes as well as take your pictures for your walls that you really like. Have pictures of your family, and put them up just like you would in your house in the States. Take your best pots and pans and kitchen equipment. Take your nicest sheets and pillow cases, towels and things for the bedroom and bathroom. You are not going over there to have a picnic. This is going to be your home, and you should make it the nicest it can be so you will feel right at home there.”
In fact, when it came to the kind of mattress we would use there, we had already learned from Harry and Lily Schaefer to buy the very best mattress we could find in the Philippines, and have our bed be at least queen size because after we would have worked many hard hours in one day, we would need to be able to get the best sleep possible. There would be no point in skimping on that.
They also said, “Get the largest refrigerator you can find, and have whatever pieces of equipment you want to have—like a good waffle iron, pressure cooker and good stove for the kitchen.” Some of these things we wouldn’t have to buy ahead of time to ship over; we could get them over there. However, many things they might not have, and we should take with us. For instance, we would want to do canning of various fruits and vegetables, so we should take our canning equipment which meant the large pressure cooker (for seven quarts) and all of the jars plus the jar lids that we would need. We put out a special plea to friends and churches to help us to find quart canning jars, and we were able to find many in strange places. People in the States hadn’t been canning for many years, so we found some jars under houses where they were very dirty. We got them, however, and put them into a big tub to wash, and when we finally had them ready to pack, we put all kinds of things into them in order to use the space in the best way possible.
Almost no stores had canning lids, though. We were almost to the point where we were thinking we would have to go without any at all. However, when we got to a church in Central California and just happened to mention that we would need canning lids, the preacher’s wife said there was a new store in town that might have some. Sure enough, we went to the grocery store there, and here was a brand new supply of canning lids they hadn’t begun to sell yet. It was not the season for canning, and although this was an area where people did a lot of canning, no one had bought them for the season, so we could get all we would hope to need. It was just like the Lord had that store built new just so we could get those canning lids.
We were really thankful to Lily Schaefer for helping us when we packed the barrels one day. She knew exactly how to do it so the maximum space was used, and everything was packed nice and tight so none of our fine Chinaware would be broken. We wrapped everything in newspaper and then packed it very closely to fit just exactly, and there was no space for breakage at all. No matter how the barrels would be moved around, the contents inside would be in good condition when we got to our destination. To this day, we still have some of our barrels in which we keep things we don’t want to use now but we want to be secure from creatures of any kind.
Lorrita McKinney had also told me to take along projects to do. “In the long hours of the evenings, when there isn’t much else to do, you need to have projects that you can work on,” she said. She and Dennis had several children, and some of them were still just babies when they went there. Since Dennis was frequently gone on trips to hold evangelistic meetings, and she was by herself with the children, after she had put them to bed, she had many hours and not much to do in them. Of course, our situation was quite different because we didn’t have any small children with us, and we were always busy with learning the language or doing other things that kept us busy at any hour of the day or night. Even though our situation was different, I took along projects.
I bought enough knitting and crochet thread to make an afghan for each one of our children plus one for Chuck. I bought all of the yarn for these plus a book from which each child could choose the afghan they wanted me to make for them plus the color of the yarn they wanted. Also, I got materials to do a bunch of embroidery projects for my kids. I bought pillow cases, enough so each could have a pair when they got married, plus a set of dish towels for each child. I got several sets of iron-on transfers for the pillow cases and for the dish towels, so I could have a good pattern to follow when embroidering the cute little pictures I thought they would appreciate. I found pillows to make for each one, too, and a book to show how to do them and all the colors of the embroidery thread that would be needed. At this time, I still have one or two of those that I never had time to make.
It actually took about three years to make each afghan. I took 89 skeins of yarn for these projects. When the afghan got too big to carry on a trip, I would start another afghan or do one that had small parts to it so I could put it together when I got home at some other time. Therefore, I would be working on more than one at a time, but just at different times of my day.
We didn’t have transportation of our own for many years after we got there, so we used public transportation. The public transportation was very unpredictable time-wise, so I always took something along with me while waiting at bus depots or jeepney stops, etc. Many times it seemed that, as long as I sat there waiting and not doing anything, the vehicle never came, but as soon as I would get out one of my projects to work on, our ride would come.
We took books, too, because later on, we found that that was one of the easiest things to have handy to do while on the road, even if we were already on a vehicle that was moving. Many times we read our mail while waiting, and any magazines that would come. Even to this day I do that, and if I don’t have any more books to read, I have a piece of flannel material that I can get out and start working on to make a blanket for some new baby. I crochet around it two times to make it the nicest I can get it.
You understand by now we were prepared to do many things when we got to the Philippines. Chuck was given jars of nails and screws of different sizes by Gordy Little, and he still uses things from these jars from time to time when he is working on different projects around the house. They came in handy at just the right times, and otherwise, he would have had a terrible time finding just the right screw or nail when he really needed it. He brought all of his tools, too, and used them on numerous occasions.
Well, getting back to my story, Chuck took these barrels to the Washington, States Line container ship that was docked at the Los Angeles Harbor at San Pedro before it went to San Francisco, where we got on the ship ourselves to go to the Philippines.