Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mission to China (2)

The museum exhibit, Mission to China and Taiwan 1930-2010 is taking shape. Last week Sister Moira Wild (Director of Haehn Museum) toured Dr. Rachel Zhu, Professor of Religious Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, through the exhibit, such as it is. Dr. Zhu marveled at the number and kind of artifacts we have from China and at the story of our Sisters’ ministry, a story all but forgotten among mainland Chinese. She paused the longest at the photos of the Sisters with the wounded soldiers in Kaifeng in 1938.

Kaifeng is the city our Sisters moved to in 1935. They had been in Peiping since 1930, studying Chinese and teaching college-prep courses to young women wanting to enter Fu Jen University. Lack of finances for the school forced the Sisters to turn their work over to another religious community.

In Kaifeng the Sisters opened a medical dispensary and were planning to continue educational work, but the Sino-Japanese War put that on hold. The Sisters played a major role in caring for wounded Chinese soldiers who train load by train load passed through Kaifeng, desperate for medical attention.

A letter to Mother Louise Walz from Sister Francetta Vetter in 1938 graphically describes the situation in Kaifeng:

We are going around in circles these days so fast that we hardly know what day of the week it is…. Thousands of wounded soldiers have been brought from the battlefield through Kaifeng…. The sight of these terribly wounded men is enough to melt one’s heart to tears. There are big men, little men, few fat men, skinny men, young men, old men, all one mass of wounds and blood and pus. Many of them when they arrive here, have not had their wounds dressed for four and more days…. Sometimes we leave here in the forenoon and do not return until after nine p.m., then we hurriedly eat supper and then we must replenish our supply baskets—cut gauze, cotton, etc., and finally we snatch a little sleep…. Please do not worry about us, dear Mother. We do, of course, take our life into our hands, so to speak, when we go to dress the wounded soldiers during the daytime for there is always great danger of bombing. Please do not recall us. It would break our hearts to leave our post.

Valiant women—with more experiences of war ahead for them. I will write about this in a future blog.

The exhibit opens Sunday, March 14. There is a preview dinner on Thursday, March 11, in the lobby of Art and Heritage Place. For more information, click here.

To read my earlier post on the China story, click here.

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