A Tribute, Page 2

 

 

A rickshaw coolie with Dick, Donny, Lucille and baby Dorothy in Loshan, Szechwan Province, 1950.

For two years Dick and Lucille worked in a mission church in Loshan.  They lived in a mission compound consisting of the church, two homes, and a school.  Their senior missionaries were the John Lockharts, who had a daughter, Margaret, about Donny's age.  

Rumors swirled about the advance of Mao's Communist army, but the Lockharts and Websters prayed about the matter and felt lead to stay in Loshan and continue working with their friends in the Chinese church.   

Lucille was expecting another child, so in December, 1949, the family traveled by bus two days to Chengtu where there was a mission hospital.  They got there at about the same time as the Communist army arrived from the north.  Dorothy was born at Hua Shi Pa Hospital on December 29, amidst the shelling of the city by the Communist soldiers.  A few days later, as the communist army marched into town, Lucille and baby Dorothy were slipped out of the hospital on a stretcher, covered by a sheet like a corpse, and taken to the Fred Nelson home on the mission compound in Chengtu.  

Dick and Donny.  This motorcycle was later confiscated by the Communist Army.

On their return to Loshan, the Websters found that the Communist Army had arrived there and had turned the mission compound into an officers training school.  The family was given a couple of rooms in the school house to live in and placed under house arrest.  

For over a year, Dick made twice daily trips to the police station to fill out forms and undergo scrutiny.  Soldiers burst into the living quarters at unexpected times to conduct searches.  Meanwhile, landlords and the educated were arrested and executed outside the city walls.  It became too dangerous for church members to maintain any contact with the foreign missionaries.  The Websters and Lockharts finally prayed that the Lord would provide an exit visa so that they could leave China.  

Chinese money experienced rampant inflation as the Communists approached.  Dick once gave a boy 10,000 to get him some worms for fishing.  The money was practically worthless.

The exit visa finally arrived.  The Websters and Lockharts began their journey down the Yangtze River in a sampan rowed by six coolies.  For four year old Donny and five year old Margaret, the journey was an adventure, but for the parents it was a time of great faith, wondering how the illiterate soldiers in the next village would behave.  Each night the families' possessions were spread on the muddy banks of the river and searched.  Anything of value was confiscated along the way.  

Eventually they transferred to a motor launch and traveled on down the Yangtze, passing though the deep valleys of the Three Gorges.  In Nanking, the Websters and Lockharts underwent a thorough interrogation and then were permitted to take the train to Hong Kong.  As they walked across the bridge into Hong Kong territory, they were met by British soldiers in their white shorts and knee socks.  They handed little Donny and Margaret their first coca colas.  The mainland China experience was over.

Sampans on the Yangtze River.

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Send emails for Dick Webster to Don Webster at:  websterdr@yahoo.com                

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