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Title: Silver Chimes in Syria - Glimpses of a Missionary's Experiences
Author: Nelson, W. S.
Language: English
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SILVER CHIMES IN SYRIA


[Illustration: HENRY A. NELSON MEMORIAL

_Tripoli Boys' School_]



SILVER CHIMES IN SYRIA

GLIMPSES OF A MISSIONARY'S EXPERIENCES

BY
W. S. NELSON, D.D.,
AUTHOR OF "HABEEB THE BELOVED"

[Illustration: Logo]

PHILADELPHIA
THE WESTMINSTER PRESS
1914


COPYRIGHT, 1914

BY F. M. BRASELMANN



DEDICATION

JULY 17, 1888. CINCINNATI, OHIO.

     _This book is affectionately inscribed to her who has been the
     companion of my life for twenty-five years; my helper in all my
     work; my cheer and comfort in all circumstances; the maker of my
     home; the source of all that is silvery in the chimes that ring
     to-day._

     HOMS, SYRIA, JULY 17, 1913.



PREFACE


When a tourist is seated on the deck of a steamer, waiting to leave the
country in which he has enjoyed an outing, his eyes do not seek the
low-lying shore of the sea, for the memories he would retain hereafter.
He lifts his eyes to the overhanging mountains. Nor is it the whole
massive range that holds his vision. He looks instinctively to the
scattered, lofty summits which stand aloof as it were from the monotony
of the lower range. Especially as the sun sinks below the western
horizon do his eyes dwell lovingly on those highest peaks which are
colored with the light of the setting sun.

My purpose in sending out this collection of sketches is somewhat the
same. I have not attempted a continuous narrative, with all the monotony
of repeated acts, but have sought to make vivid to the reader some of
the more conspicuous features of missionary life, in the hope of
deepening sympathy with the workers and increasing zeal in the work.
That is my excuse for the free use of the personal pronoun, not to make
prominent the person, but to emphasize the reality. May the volume be
enjoyed by our fellow workers in America, and blessed by Him whom we all
serve.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                              PAGE
   I. ARRIVAL IN SYRIA                  3

  II. LANGUAGE STUDY                   14

 III. TRAVEL AND COMMUNICATION         19

  IV. EVANGELISTIC TRIPS               34

   V. ALEPPO                           53

  VI. NEW STATIONS AND BUILDINGS       65

 VII. CAMPING LIFE                     75

VIII. PERSECUTION                      87

  IX. EMIGRATION                       94

   X. SYRIAN ENTERPRISES              104

  XI. INTERRUPTIONS                   111

 XII. OUR SUPPORTERS                  127

XIII. PERSONAL FRIENDS                136

 XIV. TRIPOLI BOYS' SCHOOL            150

  XV. MOVING                          164

 XVI. THE MUEZZIN OR THE BELL         169



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                           PAGE
Henry A. Nelson Memorial--_Tripoli Boys' School_ _Frontispiece_

Latakia Boys' School                           _Facing Page_ 34

Tartoose--_Crusaders' Church_                                34

Aleppo Minaret                                               53

Hadeth Summer Home                                           75

Abu Maroon, the Hadeth Carpenter                             75

Homs--_Boys' School_                                        104

Tripoli Boys' School--_First Home_                          150

Tripoli Boys' School--_Second Home_                         150

Homs                                                        164

Heathen Temple and Mount Hermon                             164

Hamidiyeh Mosque--_Tripoli_                                 169

Old City Gate--_Tripoli_                                    169



SILVER CHIMES IN SYRIA



CHAPTER I

ARRIVAL IN SYRIA


Every individual makes a new personal discovery, as with the passage of
years, he realizes the difference between the long look forward over a
given period, and the look backward over the same period, when it is
completed. To the new arrival on the field the veteran of twenty-five
years' experience appears to have spent a very long time in the service;
but as he looks back over his own life, at the end of a similar period,
he wonders that he ever entertained such an opinion. Looking back to the
year 1888, the events of that time do not seem at all remote, and it is
hard to realize that to anyone that year can appear a very long way in
the past.

On the last day of October, in the early morning, a steamer of the
Austrian-Lloyd Line cast anchor in front of Beirut. That was long before
the building of the harbor, and all vessels tossed in the open
roadstead, at the mercy of wind and wave, only slightly sheltered by the
long headland of Ras Beirut, where the tall lighthouse rears its slender
shaft, and where the Syrian Protestant College stands, as a more
important symbol of light-giving.

The anchor was scarcely dropped before the little boats from the shore
crowded about the ladders and the boatmen came swarming over the sides
of the vessel, to take possession of the passengers and carry them
ashore. It is always a perplexing but interesting scene to the newcomer.
The curious costumes of many colors give an appearance of gayety to the
crowd; the shouting of the guttural Arabic makes one think of Babel; the
wild gesticulating of the excited people suggests the possibility of a
riot; the seizing of baggage and pulling of passengers by eager boatmen
make one think that the day of personal liberty and private property is
passed. As a rule, however, it is all good-natured, and the noise is
more bantering than quarreling. In fact, one soon becomes accustomed to
the turmoil as an indication of lack of orderly proceeding in the
Orient.

Among the first figures to appear on deck that October morning was one
quieter but no less eager than the Arab boatmen. He quickly made his way
to the room of the new missionaries, just arriving from America,
prepared to take them ashore, and even to escort them at once to his own
home in Sidon. It was a most welcome, homelike experience to the tired
travelers, and the cheery voice and cordial welcome of Mr. W. K. Eddy
will never be forgotten.

There were many things in the journey, thus ended, that had made it
trying. The young couple had crossed the Atlantic entirely among
strangers and the ocean had not been kind to them. Seasickness is never
a happy experience, and when it becomes a continuous performance, in
connection with a wedding journey, it seems most inappropriate. Pleasant
visits with family friends and relatives in Scotland effaced the
memories of the Atlantic. Visiting new scenes and beautiful places in
Switzerland gave much pleasure by the way, but in an unfortunate day the
germs of malaria had been absorbed and southern Italy was reached with
fever and weakness that made sightseeing a burden.

Who can forget his first glimpse of the real Orient, at Port Said? The
noise and the dirt; the squalor and the glaring sun; the rush of the
crowd and the utter lonesomeness of the stranger, make a contrast and
mixture that are not easily matched in life's ordinary experiences. Four
days were to pass before a steamer went to Beirut. It was not a pleasant
prospect for travelers homesick and weak from fever to have to tarry
for four days in a dismal hotel, with nothing attractive in the way of
companionship or occupation. Besides this, our trunks had not been sent
forward as promised, and we were obliged to depend upon the limited hand
baggage with which we had crossed the Continent. It is easy to imagine
the sensations with which the young bride looked forward to making her
first appearance among strangers, with a face pale from fever and an
outfit so unexpectedly limited.

The hearty welcome of Mr. Eddy on the deck of that Austrian steamer in
Beirut harbor was a needed tonic, and his skill and experience readily
passed us through the intricacies of the customhouse and brought us to
the hospitable home of his father. Of the friends who conspired to make
those first days bright, many have been called away to the other shore,
though others are still our associates in the service of Syria. Dr. and
Mrs. W. W. Eddy, with whom we spent our first ten days in Syria, left
us many years ago. Dr. Samuel Jessup was always thoughtful, bringing
bright flowers from his garden to continue the impression of his bright
face and cheery words, when he called upon the strangers. He and Mrs.
Jessup, whose home was one of the brightest spots of those early years,
have also gone on before to their well-earned reward. Mr. March, coming
down from the mountains on his way to Tripoli, was especially ready in
his plans for the comfort of his new associates in Tripoli Station. But
it is not necessary to mention each one. The beauty of missionary life
is the unity of fellowship and the completeness with which every
newcomer is received into the intimacy and love of the circle, which is
only less close and intimate than that of the family itself.

After ten days spent in Beirut in trying to get rid of the malaria and
in acquiring some knowledge of the Arabic alphabet, we went on to
Tripoli, our future home. It was a cold, windy Saturday afternoon. We
were taken out to the steamer in a small boat, which tossed on the
restless waves in a way which we supposed to be normal. The steamer was
small and crowded with a miscellaneous company, most of whom were not
happy, to say the least. Fortunately it is only a four hours' ride, for
the wind increased in violence as we proceeded, and when the anchor was
dropped at sundown off Tripoli, it seemed doubtful whether any boats
could come out to meet us. In due time, however, a boat pulled
alongside, and there was Mr. March, who had come out over that rough sea
to welcome us to our new home, though he did not think we would venture
to start from Beirut in such a storm. The steamer was rolling so badly
that the ladder could not be lowered at all, and we crept out on it as
it lay horizontally along the ship's side, and then, when the tip was
lowest, simply dropped into the arms of the boatmen below. Then began
the laborious pull for the shore. We were two hours reaching land, our
clothes soaked, our spirits at zero, but most happy to reach the warm,
cozy haven of the March home in the Mina of Tripoli. It was the
beginning of a most beautiful fellowship with Mr. and Mrs. March and
their children, whose sweet introduction of themselves won our hearts at
once and who, though now grown to maturity, still call us by the old,
affectionate titles of uncle and aunt. Thus, for the second time in our
short missionary experience, we were made to feel the comfort and peace
of being taken into the warmth and love of a Christian home, no longer
as strangers, but as brethren.

We wished to take possession of our own home as soon as possible. Our
household goods were in the customhouse, and another first experience
was before us. Everything had to be examined and its purpose explained
to the satisfaction of the Turkish inspector. To him it seemed a wholly
unnecessary amount of furniture for one person, for of course he could
not recognize that the wife's existence made any difference. A box of
class photographs was examined in detail, and great surprise manifested
that one person should have so many friends. A small vase for flowers in
the shape of a kettle resting on five legs puzzled the examiner, until
he picked up the perforated piece of a soap dish, and decided that he
had found the appropriate adaptation of the two pieces. It did not seem
necessary to explain, so long as he was satisfied, and no harm was done.

We had many things to learn besides the language. Our home belonged to a
man whose name was translated to us as Mr. Victory-of-God Brass. In an
arch under the parlor windows he had hung a donkey's skull and some
beads, to keep off the evil eye of jealousy from his fine house. It was
a pleasant house, well located near the city gate which had been known
in former days as Donkey Gate, only a few minutes' walk from the girls'
school and just at the end of the tram line connecting the city with
the harbor, two miles distant. In planning for our new home we had
indulged in the luxury of two pairs of simple lace curtains for our
parlor windows. When we entered the house, our amazement can hardly be
exaggerated at the discovery that the parlor had not two but eight
windows, each calling for curtains twelve feet long. Our lace curtains
were relegated to service elsewhere. Mr. Eddy had kindly arranged to
come up from Sidon to help us in this first settling of our new home,
and his help and companionship were invaluable. He went with me to the
shops to purchase such things as were needed, and the shopkeepers
recognized at once his fluent Arabic and his companion's ignorance of
the language. More than one shopkeeper called him aside and asked him to
bring the stranger to them for his purchases, promising him a handsome
commission for his services.

The house was soon made habitable and just three weeks after our first
landing in Syria we slept under our own roof, with our own possessions
about us, and were ready to begin our own independent home life in the
land of our adoption. We had made our beginning, and a bright, happy
beginning it was, notwithstanding the difficulties and drawbacks
inevitable in such conditions.



CHAPTER II

LANGUAGE STUDY


Whatever differences there may be in experiences in missionary life, all
missionaries are faced with a most troublesome experience in learning a
new language. It is more or less natural for everyone to magnify what
concerns himself. "Our children" are always a little better than our
neighbors'. "Our cook" makes better bread than anyone else. And
"mother's pies"--well, that calls for no argument. It is much the same
way among missionaries. It is probable that there are just about as many
"hardest languages" in the world as there are distinct mission fields.
But, then, there must be one that is really the hardest, and we in Syria
think we come pretty well up on the list, even though we do not claim
absolute preëminence. The Arabic, though rich and beautiful, is
certainly a difficult language, and I am sure the Syria Mission would
give a unanimous vote on the resolution that it is the toughest
linguistic proposition we have ever attacked. It was one of the terse
and suggestive remarks of Dr. Henry Jessup that at the end of the first
year the new missionary thought he knew the Arabic; at the end of the
second year he thought he knew nothing; and at the end of the third year
he wondered how he got hold of it.

The isolation of a new missionary is at times appalling. No matter how
kind and helpful the older missionaries may be, they are strangers,
after all, with whom one must get acquainted. The houses are strange,
and not adapted to make one feel at home readily. Servants with their
very imperfect knowledge of English must be directed mainly by signs.
Everything seems unbearably dirty; the sun is unaccountably hot, even in
winter; the food is strange and does not appeal to a Westerner's
appetite. But, worst of all, among the babel of noises, there is not a
familiar sound, and with the best intentions of friendliness, one cannot
reveal the intention, except by the perpetual, inane grin.

We began the study of the language, as everyone does, almost at the
wharf. Even before recovering from the effects of the voyage, the Arabic
primer, with its alphabet, was brought to the bedside. At one of the
earliest lessons in Tripoli, the old, gray-bearded teacher wished to
impress a new word, "Milh." He repeated the difficult combination, and
then inquired in some way whether we knew what the word meant. The look
of blank ignorance on our faces gave him the answer, and he rose and
stepped with dignity, in his flowing robes, to the door. Opening this,
he called in a loud voice across the open court to the cook, "Peter,
bring me some salt." Then with a little of this household necessity in
his palm, he came back to his stupid pupils, and, pointing at the salt,
said emphatically, "Milh." That word was permanently fixed in our
vocabulary.

In less than two months after our arrival in Syria, and forty days after
taking possession of our own home, came New Year's Day. With the
self-confidence of youth and ignorance, we decided to keep open house on
our own account. In the forenoon we had our language teacher with us to
steer us through the intricacies of oriental etiquette, and to tell us
what to say, in the varying circumstances, and all went well. After
dinner, however, we excused him, as we did not expect many more calls,
and waited our fate. After a time, when the parlor was well filled with
a mixed company of men and women, among whom was the old teacher who had
taught us the word for salt, I used the wrong pronominal termination,
probably the masculine where I should have used the feminine. The old
gentleman rose from his place with great impressiveness and started
round the entire circle, pointing his finger at each person, and
pronouncing distinctly to every man, "tak" and to every woman, "tik." It
created a laugh, of course, but it is needless to say that whatever
mistakes I have made in Arabic since, it has never been because I did
not know the difference between the masculine and feminine form of the
second person pronominal affix.



CHAPTER III

TRAVEL AND COMMUNICATION


In preparing for the active service of a missionary, it was necessary to
have a horse and a touring outfit. Our servant was told that we wanted
to buy a horse, and if he heard of any good chance, to let us know. In a
few days a man came to the house with a large gray mare for me to try. I
rode on her a little and examined her so far as I was capable of doing,
and was greatly pleased with her. I knew enough, however, of oriental
methods, to show no particular zeal over the matter, and left the owner
without any indication of my pleasure. In my own mind, I decided that I
should like to own that mare, and that I would be willing to pay as much
as twenty pounds for her, though I hoped to secure a horse for half that
amount. As I came in I told the servant to make inquiry about the price
of the mare. He returned soon, saying the owner would sacrifice his own
interests so far as to let me have her for seventy-five pounds. I did
not buy that mare, but waited several months until I found a sturdy gray
horse, which I bought for less than ten pounds. He served me well for
five years, when I sold him for little less than the original cost.

Tripoli field was rejoicing and congratulating itself in those days over
the macadamized road recently opened between Tripoli at the coast and
Homs and Hamath in the interior. It was sixty-five miles to Homs and
thirty-five more to Hamath. A cumbersome diligence made the trip to Homs
in eleven hours, going one day and returning the next, and a lighter
vehicle made the round trip between Homs and Hamath every day. This was
a great advance in rapid transit and a great convenience in all lines of
work.

In all Syria there was not a mile of railroad, and in northern Syria
there was no carriage road besides the one line just mentioned. All
traveling had to be done on horseback or afoot. Horses, donkeys, mules
and camels were the universal means of travel and transportation. Every
day caravans of camels came into Tripoli by the hundred, bringing grain,
olive oil and Syrian butter from the interior. They returned loaded with
sugar, rice, kerosene oil, and English yarn and cloth. The first
railroad was built in the early nineties from Jaffa to Jerusalem. Later
came the line from Beirut to Damascus; then the line from Haifa through
Galilee to Damascus, the line from Damascus to the south, and the line
from Damascus to Medina. Then came the branch line, from the
Beirut-Damascus line, to Homs, Hamath and Aleppo, and finally the
Tripoli Homs line and the German Bagdad line, passing through Aleppo
from east to west. With many other lines and extensions under
consideration, it is evident that railroad communication is fairly
started in Syria and that this part of the East has begun to feel the
influence of steam.

During our first year in Tripoli, before I was at all familiar with the
various places, I overheard a conversation between two of our associates
about a recent trip to Beirut by land. The remark was made, "I suppose
you took a carriage from Junieh to Beirut." This is about one fourth of
the distance and was considered a great gain in the facilities of
transportation. The answer came, with even greater evidence of
satisfaction, "No, I rode in a carriage from Jebail." This meant a
doubling of the advantage, as Jebail is halfway between Tripoli and
Beirut. That was in 1889 and it was not until 1912 that this carriage
road was completed, so that one could make the whole distance on wheels.

The tramway connecting Tripoli City and the Mina, or harbor, was the
only tramway in Syria and was an object of great pride. It had a single
track about two miles long, with a switch in the middle for the passing
of cars from the opposite ends. A car started from each terminus about
once in twenty minutes and made the trip in about the same length of
time, the fare being four cents and the motor power horses or mules. The
cars were originally imported from Birmingham, of the double-decker
type. They are still in daily service, receiving a fresh coat of paint
and necessary repairs every year. This line continues to run, though
with somewhat more frequent service and with a reduced fare of two
cents, since public carriages now run on a road alongside the tram.
Carriage roads now extend in several directions from Tripoli, and there
are many public carriages to hire; even an automobile is occasionally
seen and several bicycles have made their appearance.

The postal system is a curiosity to those who are accustomed to free
delivery several times a day. It would be supposed that the Turkish
post would carry all letters for people in Turkey, since Turkey is a
member of the International Postal Union. At all the seaports, however,
one finds foreign post offices, which do a large business in receiving
and forwarding mail by all the steamers. To points in the interior they
cannot deliver mail. In Tripoli we had the French, and later the
Austrian service. In 1890 cholera appeared in Tripoli and all steamers
stopped calling at the port, to avoid quarantine. We were confined to
the use of the Turkish mail. Two messengers brought the mail by land
from Beirut each week. It was Tripoli which was infected with cholera,
and yet the incoming mail was stopped outside the city and drenched with
carbolic acid, while the outgoing mail was not touched. The mail
distributor in Tripoli could not read any language, not even Arabic, and
so he used to bring the bag directly to our house and empty it on the
floor, in order to get my help in assorting the letters for him. We were
glad to have the first pick of the mail, as it assured our receiving
all our own mail, and that promptly.

At the last conference of the International Postal Union there was a
general reduction of postage and an increase in the unit of weight.
Turkey has given her adherence to this international arrangement, but
maintains her old internal rates so that we have the present absurd
condition, that a piaster stamp will carry twenty grams to any place
abroad, while it will carry only fifteen grams from one town to its next
neighbor. Additional weight abroad requires three quarters of a piaster
for each additional twenty grams, while for internal use every
additional fifteen grams requires a full piaster. Thus a letter weighing
sixty grams will go from an interior town like Homs to San Francisco for
two piasters and a half, while the same letter, if sent from Homs to
Tripoli, would cost four piasters.

It might be supposed that there would be good caravan roads, at least,
in a country where all produce must be carried on quadrupeds, and all
travelers must ride or walk. The reverse was true, and though the past
twenty-five years have witnessed great improvement in this respect,
there is still much to be desired in most localities. Many of the roads
cannot be described as anything but trails through the rocky ground. The
chief consideration in locating a road seems to be to have it run
through ground which is fit for nothing else, for it would be a pity to
waste arable ground, and so a road must go around, no matter what the
distance. Whatever stones are gathered from the fields are thrown into
the highway, making it rougher than ever. In some parts of the
mountains, the road will lie along the top of a solid stone dike, ten to
fifteen feet wide, from which the traveler looks down to a depth of
eight or ten feet upon the fields and mulberry patches on each side. It
has been said that a road, in Syria, is that part of the country to be
avoided in traveling, so far as possible. This inference is easy to
understand when you notice that all the trodden paths are in the fields
at either side, and that people travel in the rough roads, only when
there is no escape. While the grain is growing the farmers will do their
best, by building up stone walls, to keep the animals out of their
fields, but just as soon as the harvest is gathered these obstructions
go down and the current of traffic resumes the easier course until the
winter rains make the mud a worse enemy than the rough stones.

In other places it is often an interesting study to try to decide
whether the water flows in the road, or whether people travel in the
watercourses. It is something like the insolvable question as to which
came first, the hen or the egg. The fact remains that, as a rule, in wet
weather and rough country, the traveler will find his horse splashing
through a stream of water flowing down the road. The explanation is
simple. There is nowhere any system of drainage, and every man's
purpose is to turn the streams of rain water away from his own land.
Useful land cannot be wasted for watercourses any more than for roads,
and hence the waste lands are devoted to the double purpose, with the
resulting confusion as to which is the intruder.

The obscurity of the roads leads to many more or less unpleasant
experiences. There are roads so steep and difficult that it is no
unusual experience to see a muleteer take hold of his mule's tail as he
goes down the mountain path, and by a judicious holding back, help the
animal to steady himself under a heavy, awkward load. On the other hand,
when he is going up the mountain, the tired muleteer will take hold of
the same convenient handle to get a little help for himself in the
ascent.

One summer night, Mrs. Nelson and I were belated on the higher slopes of
Mount Lebanon. The trail was little more than a path for goats, and was
quite unfamiliar to us. In the dark night, we lost the way more than
once, and we were becoming quite exhausted in repeated efforts to regain
the path, when, at last, we seemed to have strayed completely, and I
could not locate the road at all. We had to take a little rest, and wait
for the moon to rise. We sat upon the mountain side, under the shade of
fragrant cedars, tired, hungry and thirsty. The surroundings were
charming and the dim outlines of forest and mountain beautiful. The
night air was refreshing, after an exceptionally hot day; but when one
has lost his way, he is not in a condition to appreciate fully the
beauties of nature or the charms of his surroundings. As we sat there,
gaining some rest, I began to study the outline of the hills, and
concluded that the road must lie in a certain curve of the mountains not
far away. On investigating I found my impression correct, and we resumed
our journey, reaching our destination just as the moon appeared over the
highest ridge of the mountains.

On another occasion it was the intelligence of my horse rather than my
own which saved me considerable inconvenience. I was belated upon the
mountain and overtaken by sunset, some eight miles from my destination.
Confident in my horse as well as in myself, I pushed on as rapidly as
possible over the rough path. To add to my difficulty, a thick mountain
fog settled about me until it was impossible to see the path ten feet
ahead. In descending a steep slope, leading my horse, I missed the trail
and found myself in the vineyards. I knew that the village was close at
hand and anticipated no difficulty in working down to the road. At any
rate, it seemed likely that we should arouse the night watchman in the
vineyard and it would be his duty to turn us out of the vineyard,
exactly what we wished for. We stumbled along, over grapevines and
stones, but came no nearer to the road, nor did we disturb the sleeping
watchman. After what seemed like endless wandering, though the distance
was not far nor the time long, I came up against a stone wall and could
see a path beyond. Getting over this wall was simple, but which way to
turn in the road was not clear. I tried the turn to the right,
tentatively, not fully convinced myself. My horse yielded reluctantly
and walked very slowly indeed over the rough stones. After a few minutes
my own doubts increased and I determined to test the horse. Dropping the
reins loosely on his neck, I gave him no sign of guidance at all. As
soon as he felt the relaxing of pressure on the bits, his head rose, his
ears stood erect and he seemed to cast an inquiring glance out of the
corner of his eye. When convinced that he was free to choose for
himself, he immediately swung around and started at a rapid walk in the
opposite direction. In a very few minutes I could see the village lights
struggling through the mists, and was soon at my own door.

This same horse gave me another illustration of his intelligence. I was
riding along the carriage road, on the seashore, intending to turn up
to one of the mountain villages. There were two roads to this village,
and when we came to the first my horse tried to turn up, but was easily
held back and started briskly along, as if fully understanding my
purpose. When we came to the second road we found that it had been
plowed under and that grain several inches high was growing where the
path had been. I knew that the road had been moved a short distance so
as to pass a khan recently erected. The horse had not yet gone over this
altered road and so was puzzled. I left him to his own guidance. When he
came to the point where the road had divided, he stopped and looked at
the grain, and then went slowly on, looking constantly at the field,
until, after about twenty or thirty feet, he decided to make a plunge,
and struck directly through the growing grain to where the old road had
been at the other edge of the field.

The introduction of railroads and carriages throughout the country
facilitates travel and business a great deal, but it takes away much of
the interest and diversion of getting about from place to place.



CHAPTER IV

EVANGELISTIC TRIPS


It was a practice with us for many years to arrange a special
evangelistic medical trip in the spring of the year. Sometimes Mrs.
Nelson and I would join Dr. Harris in a journey of two or three weeks,
and sometimes the doctor and I would go alone. One of the most memorable
of these journeys was in the spring of 1893, in the month of May. We had
our tent and camp outfit and the large chests of medical supplies
carried on mules and were accompanied by our cook, with his portable
kitchen packed away under him, and the Syrian assistant of the doctor,
so that we made quite a party altogether. We started along the shore
north from Tripoli, making our first camp about ten miles out of the
city. The next day's journey brought us to Tartoose on the shore
opposite the island of Arvad. Ezek. 27:8. This island lies only a short
distance from the shore, but I have never yet been able to reach it
because of the violent west wind on each occasion of a visit to
Tartoose. The island is wholly covered by the town, which is occupied by
sturdy sailors and fishermen. There are many interesting relics of
ancient times in Tartoose, though it is possible that many of the coins
offered to the credulous public may have been produced recently in the
place itself.

[Illustration: LATAKIA BOYS' SCHOOL]

[Illustration: TARTOOSE _Crusaders' Church_]

At the edge of the town stands a fine Gothic church, whose substantial
walls and graceful arches are a pleasure to the eye. The empty windows
make one feel lonesome as he approaches the building, and the bare
interior speaks of a decadent Christianity that adds to the sadness.
But, worst of all, is the minaret crudely built on the corner of the
roof, for this is another of the many Christian churches in Turkey which
have been transformed into mosques.

At another of our camping places we found, near at hand, an old Roman
amphitheater, where it was not difficult to imagine a concourse of
pleasure seekers seated on the stone benches watching some exhibition of
strength or skill in the arena below. Wherever one goes in Syria, he is
reminded of an ancient glory and power, in close and vivid contrast to a
present state of decay and weakness.

Our first Sabbath, on this journey, found us at Latakia, where we spent
the day with our neighbors and fellow workers of the Reformed
Presbyterian mission. This mission was started especially to reach the
Nusairiyeh people of north Syria. Because of the persistent interference
of the Turkish Government, their work has been greatly hampered and
their efforts largely restricted to the training of boys and girls in
the boarding institutions in the city, and ministration to the sick in
the hospital. It was a great pleasure to have this break in our journey
and the pleasant intercourse with those engaged in the same kind of
service as our own, and to have the privilege of speaking to the young
people in their schools.

On Monday we went a short distance from the city, pitching our tent near
a village of considerable size on the plain some miles back from the
sea. As I sat in the moonlight at the door of the tent, a man wearing
the white turban of a Moslem scholar approached me. He seated himself
near me after a pleasant greeting and we fell into agreeable
conversation. After some time, this man took the opportunity, when no
one was near enough to overhear him, to ask most earnestly that we
should send them a teacher for their children. I was surprised at the
request from such a source and turned the conversation so as to make
sure that he understood who we were and what kind of schools we
conducted. He showed that he understood the matter fully, and that he
really desired a Protestant Christian teacher for his town. I then asked
him directly, "Are you not a Moslem?" Looking about again, to make sure
no one should hear him, he said, "Yes, I am a Moslem now," with an
emphasis on the last word which revealed the facts in the case. He was
of a Nusairiyeh family but had yielded to the persistent pressure of the
government so far as to accept the form of adherence to Islam, though in
his heart he hated the system and its followers most cordially.

A long day's ride brought us through the wild and tortuous valley of the
Nahr-ul-Kandil, up the slope of Mount Cassius to the town of Kessab,
some four thousand feet above the sea, where the Latakia missionaries
have their summer homes. It was a most beautiful though rugged ride, and
would have been thoroughly enjoyable in good weather. The wild flowers
were in full bloom, and every turn in the road brought into view a new
combination of varied and bright colors, where the little blossoms
clustered amid the green foliage, among the gray rocks. The great
drawback to our enjoyment lay in the fact that for a large part of the
distance we rode in a heavy and most unexpected rainfall. We were not
prepared for such an experience in the month of May, and so reached our
destination soaked and cold. We had been directed to take possession of
one of the cottages belonging to the missionaries in Latakia, and it was
certainly a most welcome haven. We were able to light a fire in the
kitchen stove and spread out our wet garments to dry, while we warmed
ourselves in the grateful heat.

It was a disappointment the next day that the top of Cassius was
enveloped in heavy cloud, forbidding an ascent. This mountain is about
five thousand feet in height, rising directly from the sea, and so is a
conspicuous object from every direction and gives an extensive view from
its summit. We could tarry but one day, and descended to the old site of
Seleucia, at the mouth of the Orontes, and saw some remnants of the old
harbor from which Paul set sail more than once. The Orontes is quite
wide and deep near its mouth and we crossed it on just such a wire ferry
as I had seen many years before on the Connecticut River in
Massachusetts. The gardens of Swadia were most refreshing with their
green verdure, cool shade and rich fruit, after a long day's ride in the
heat, and again we had the pleasure of missionary fellowship, for our
friends of the Reformed Presbyterian mission have a station here also.
Another easy stage brought us to old Antioch, so closely associated with
the beginning of Christian history. It is not an attractive city in
outward appearance and has suffered much at different times from
earthquake.

From Antioch we followed the Orontes Valley up to Hamath, where we were
once more among our own organized stations. Such journeys give us an
acquaintance with the country and the people, which is of the most vital
importance in planning for the proper expansion of the work.

Once, on a pleasant summer evening, we were encamped near a Nusairiyeh
village. Among those gathered about us were an elderly peasant and his
son, a well-built, sturdy youth of seventeen or eighteen years. As he
sat before us this young man appeared to be in perfect health and vigor,
but when he rose to walk, his awkward gait revealed his misfortune, for
both feet were so badly deformed that he walked on his ankles and not on
the soles of his feet. The doctor was asked whether this defect could be
remedied. After a careful examination the lad was told that the
operation would be painful, and that some time would be required, but
that if he would come to the hospital, prepared to stay as long as
should be necessary, he would be able to come away, walking erect, like
other people. The faces brightened at once, and we shared in their
pleasure at the prospect of this deliverance. The next morning, however,
we were told that the family had talked over the matter and decided not
to have the operation performed. We assured them there should be no
expense, but they said it was not the matter of expense. Then we told
them of similar cases which had been successfully treated, but they
assured us they had no doubt of the doctor's skill. We encouraged the
young man to bear the pain for the sake of increased enjoyment in life
afterwards, but he said he was not afraid of the pain. What then was the
trouble? At last we learned the truth. So long as the lad could show two
such clubbed feet, he would be excused from military service; but if
they were made straight he would be called to the army; and he would
rather go through life a cripple than to give several years of his vigor
to service in the Turkish army. And he is no exception.

We were approaching a large town of bigoted people, wondering how we
should secure an opening for our message. I was riding slightly in front
of the doctor, occupied with plans for securing access to the people.
Suddenly I heard the doctor's voice behind me saying, "Boy, do you want
your eye straightened?" On looking back I saw a lad of about fifteen
years, with a decidedly crossed eye, beside the doctor's horse. He
promptly accepted the offer, and we hastened to dismount and tie our
horses. A table in the little roadside café was quickly cleared, while
the doctor got out his case of instruments from his saddlebags. The boy
was placed on the table and in an incredibly short time the cords were
severed so that the eyeball took its proper position, and we were
thoroughly advertised. By the time our camp equipage came up, we had
been provided with an excellent place to camp, and had nothing to
complain of in the reception of the people.

A memorable experience was in the neighborhood of a large village whose
gardens are said to be watered by three hundred springs. Whatever the
correct number may be, there is no question about the abundance of
water and the luxuriance of the gardens. We had three tents, one for
medical clinics and one apiece for our two households, and settled down
for a fortnight's work. Every day we had crowds about the tent for
medical attention and for religious services. The evenings gave abundant
opportunity for work among those who gathered about us after their day's
work was done. They were glad to join in the hymns of praise, and
listened earnestly to the spoken message and read word. One evening, the
boys who gathered about the tent told me that the superintendent of
their school was in town and had begun an examination, to be finished
the next day. I decided to go to the school the next morning to make the
acquaintance of the superintendent and to see what the school was doing.
When I arose the following day, I found many of the boys about the tent,
and asked them why they were not at school for the examination. "Oh,"
they said, "there is no examination to-day. Early this morning, the
superintendent, the teachers and the headman of the village took their
horses, a large bottle of spirits and a young kid, and went up to the
top of the mountain to a famous spring to spend the day in a drinking
spree."

One of the pleasantest evenings I remember in my regular routine touring
was spent in this same village. We had brought our party to a garden,
owned by one of our friends who was always glad to have us make it our
headquarters. We had eaten our supper and were seated on the ground,
under a high, branching tree into which was trained a huge grapevine.
Behind us was a little hut, in which the caretaker slept in stormy
weather. At one side was a rude booth where the owner slept during the
summer. An oil lantern gave some light. One by one quite a group of
neighbors and friends assembled and, after some general conversation,
we sang some hymns. Then I opened the Bible for a little reading, with
simple exposition. As I read and talked to them, the row of dark faces
was turned toward me with an intentness and eagerness to hear that made
me hope they might not see me or hear my words, but hear those words of
life spoken so many years ago in Palestine, and see that Face from which
alone shines the true light.

We are not always left to do as we please on these trips, for the
paternal Turkish Government sometimes takes an unnecessary interest in
our plans and shows an excessive concern for our safety. We had crossed
a rugged section of the mountains and come down to a walled town, which
is a government center. Here we camped near the town and were promptly
favored with a call from officials, sent by the governor to find out who
we were. We paid a formal call on his Excellency and were allowed to
remain quietly as long as we desired. When we broke camp a polite
message came from the governor, asking where we were going and offering
a guard and escort. We returned a grateful acknowledgment of his
courtesy, but assured him that we were familiar with the roads and would
not trouble him to send an escort. It was only after some difficulty
that we succeeded in getting away alone. We learned afterwards that we
were followed, and that, in accordance with instructions from
headquarters, word was sent from place to place to keep watch of us. At
one large town we had large crowds about our camp and large audiences
for evening services for several days, when suddenly there was a change
and no one came near us. Apparently the sick were all healed and all
interest in singing and conversation had ceased. It developed that word
had been sent to the nearest government center, and orders had come back
at once, not to interfere with our comfort but to notify the people to
have nothing to do with us. At one of these places, which were all
occupied by Nusairiyeh and Ismaeliyeh people, Mrs. Nelson was talking
with some of the women about religion. They said, "Do Christian women
have any religion?" When assured that we believe religion to be for
everyone, whether male or female, rich or poor, wise or ignorant, they
replied: "It is not so with us. A woman with us can have no share in
religion. If one of us should accidentally overhear the men talking
about religious beliefs, so that she unintentionally learned some
religious doctrine, she ought to acknowledge it and be put to death. And
it is right to be so, for a woman must know nothing of religion."

On another occasion, quite a party of us stopped to spend the night in
one of these towns. While I was busy with arrangements for the night
other members of the party went to look about the little castle at the
edge of the town. Our presence was reported to the acting governor.
Unfortunately he was a man of surly disposition and anxious to magnify
his office. He demanded our Turkish passports, which he had a technical
right to do. Unfortunately some of the party had failed to provide
themselves with these documents as they were seldom called for. It gave
our little governor a chance and he used it, insisting that he must send
us to Hamath, practically under guard, but nominally under military
protection. We were intending to go to Hamath, but not directly, and so
it was finally agreed that the horseman go with us to Mahardeh where we
were to lodge, and accompany us the following day to Hamath. When we
started out the next morning, it was ludicrous to see the haughty airs
of this soldier who was sent with us. He acted as if he really believed
these foreigners were committed to his absolute control and carried his
head very high. Before going many miles we had succeeded, by pleasant
conversation, in limbering him up considerably, and by noon, when we
stopped for luncheon, he displayed his power in our behalf by ordering
the villagers to serve us in every way possible. By evening, when we
entered Mahardeh, he was quite cringing in his servility, for now he
realized that he was alone and we were among friends, so it was worth
while to be genial and submissive. When I informed him that I was not
going with the party the next day, he claimed to be greatly terrified
and begged me most humbly not to subject him to such peril. "For," said
he, "the number of foreigners is mentioned in the governor's letter, and
if I do not produce the full number, I shall be held responsible." I
said, "Be that as it may, I must stay here over Sunday and on Monday
morning I will follow and report myself to his Excellency if necessary."
He went away, apparently in much uncertainty. I knew, however, that the
matter was a mere formality and would bring no risk either to him or to
me; and so it proved, for the governor took no interest in the matter at
all.

On a warm summer evening, Dr. Harris and I rode up to the sheik's house
in a village I have never visited before or since. As strangers we were
welcomed to the public room. It was soon discovered that a doctor was
present, and immediately all who were diseased came about us. It was a
marvel to see men lie down before this stranger with perfect confidence
and allow him to cut about their eyes or put drops in them. It does
happen, alas, too often, that this credulity costs them dear, for many
an eye has been ruined by conscienceless quacks who trade on the
simplicity of the people. It is a pleasure, however, to see them place
themselves in the hands of the skillful and honest missionary physician,
who will help them, if possible, or tell them truthfully if there is no
remedy. At sunset a large dish of wheat, boiled with some meat, was
brought out, and cakes of barley bread placed about it. All who were
present were bidden to partake, and we did the best we could to satisfy
our hunger. After a social evening we spread our beds and made ready for
sleep, if possible. As I lay on my bed, I could hear those who sat about
discussing us. They told of the doctor's famous skill and what he had
done there before them. I was glad to find that I held the humble
position of doctor's assistant in their estimation. But I could not help
wondering then and since about that village. So far as I know that is
the only missionary visit ever made there. Is it enough?

[Illustration: ALEPPO MINARET]



CHAPTER V

ALEPPO


In 1893 a plan was developed in the mission to extend our sphere of
labor so as to include the city of Aleppo, which had been occupied many
years before by the mission and then left because of the exigencies of
the work and lack of forces. It was a four days' journey from our
nearest outstation, and hence not easy to care for; but as Tripoli
Station was the nearest part of the mission, Aleppo was placed under our
direction.

Aleppo is one of the largest cities in Syria, and a most important
commercial center. It is nearly the most northern point for the use of
the Arabic language, as Turkish becomes the general medium of
communication one day's journey farther north. Being so near the Turkish
district, there are many Turkish-speaking people in Aleppo, but the
city as a whole is essentially an Arabic-speaking place. The American
Board had a Turkish congregation connected with their mission and
maintained church and school work in Aleppo for the Turkish-speaking
strangers resident in the city. There was the most cordial welcome from
these missionaries to our proposal to organize work for the
Arabic-speaking population. Before making my first visit of supervision
to Aleppo it was arranged by correspondence that Mr. Sanders of Aintab,
the missionary in charge of that district, should meet me and spend
several days in conference as to the arrangement of details of our
interlocking work. It had been proposed most kindly that we should hold
our Arabic services in the premises of the Turkish congregation.

In many ways that first journey to Aleppo was a unique experience. It
was a venture into a region of country wholly new to me, and involved
planning for a new department of service. There were two ways to reach
Aleppo, one wholly by land, involving a somewhat dangerous ride from
Hamath for four days; the other by sea to Alexandretta, and thence by
horseback over a carriage road to Aleppo. It was decided to take this
latter course, though all subsequent visits were made the other way.
After gaining all the information I could before leaving home, I took
the steamer to Alexandretta, where I landed on Monday morning. At once I
began my search for a riding animal, and at length secured a horse
guaranteed to be swift and of easy gait, whose owner promised to see me
in Aleppo by the evening of the third day. Delayed by those who wished
to accompany us, it was past noon before we set out on the road. It was
not long before I discovered that the ease had been left out in the
structure of my horse, and that any speed he may have had once was
well-nigh worn out. It was clear that I should have to work my passage,
but my courage held out.

We pressed up the mountain slope and crossed the ridge in good time,
having many beautiful views back over the dark blue Mediterranean. Mount
Cassius lifted its rocky head five thousand feet, directly out of the
sea, to the south, showing where the Orontes empties into the sea at old
Seleucia. After passing the summit of the range we dropped down rapidly
to the Antioch plain, having the lake of Antioch in full view before us.
By sunset we had reached the place intended as our first halt,
thirty-seven kilometers from the shore. I found no place of
entertainment but a bare inn where I could set up my camp bed and sleep.
There was no food to be had for love or money and so I had to depend on
the scant supplies I had brought with me in my saddlebags.

The second day's ride was much longer than the first, as we kept to the
saddle for twelve hours, notwithstanding the entreaty of my companions
to break the journey earlier. I reminded them of the pledge to reach
Aleppo on the third day, and so kept on until dusk. We had left the
carriage road for a more direct trail and stopped for the night in a
small, desolate village. There was no decent shelter to be found and so
I gladly set up my bed on the threshing floor, and slept under the
starry sky. I inquired for milk, eggs, bread, cheese, anything in the
way of food, offering ample pay for anything edible. After much
persuasion the people were induced to burrow in the straw pile on the
threshing floor from which they produced a watermelon. This was
refreshing at least, and helped to wash down my bread, which was getting
rather dry, as I did not like to use much water in this swampy region.
Long before dawn we were again on the road and pushed steadily ahead
over ridge after ridge, until, in the middle of the afternoon, the city
of Aleppo broke on our sight, a most refreshing vision. In one of the
valleys near Aleppo the traveler cannot fail to notice many heaps of
small stones, evidently placed there to mark certain spots. The place is
called the valley of the slain, and each pile indicates where some
victim has fallen.

The appearance of Aleppo as one approaches it from the west is not
unpleasing, for it is the first well-built town seen after leaving the
coast. The houses are built of white limestone and the gardens about the
city lend a touch of green, most refreshing after the barren country
left behind. At first sight the designation of Aleppo as
Halch-es-Shahba--Aleppo the Gray--seems most appropriate. It is a pity
to detract from the more poetic explanation of the title. Old tradition
says that Abraham had his encampment at the site of Aleppo for a long
time, and was recognized throughout the region for his wealth and
generosity. He had set apart for the use of the poor the milk from a
certain gray cow in his herd, and hence some one was always on the
watch at evening. As soon as the gray cow came forward, this watchman
would shout at the top of his voice, "Haleb es Shahba," which means, "He
has milked the gray cow." Hence the city, which later grew up at this
spot, was called Haleb-es-Shahba, or Aleppo.

I shall never forget a conversation connected with that journey. My
comrades were all Moslems, and as we jogged on, hour after hour, during
those three days, there were opportunities for conversation on many
topics. One day I asked one of them who was a religious teacher, what
his doctrine had to say as to the fate of non-Moslem infants who died in
infancy. I was surprised to find how closely his view parallels our own
Christian view of infant salvation. He answered at once that they are
all saved through the intercession of Mohammed.

On reaching the city I sought a hotel, in order to remove the soil of
travel before hunting up our friends in this strange city. I was in the
midst of making myself presentable when a loud knock at my door was
followed immediately by its opening, and a rough Turkish police officer
made his appearance. Without a word or suggestion of apology, he began a
series of questions as to my name, residence and occupation. I let him
exhaust his list of questions and then asked, as quietly as possible,
whether he would like to look over my Turkish passport, which was
required of all in those days. He seemed to be so completely taken aback
at my evident lack of awe for himself, and surprised to meet a person
who was prepared in accordance with the law, that he could scarcely
stammer out in reply, "Why, have you a passport?" "Certainly," I
replied. "Here it is, with all the information you need." He sat down
most meekly and copied off the items he needed and took his departure in
a really polite manner.

As this was my first visit to Aleppo, everything seemed strange to me,
except in so far as all oriental cities have a measure of resemblance.
As I was met also by Mr. Sanders, a missionary in charge of established
work, I found it natural to expect to be dependent on him for
everything. It came thus as a surprise to have him turn to me, in the
street, to act as interpreter. He spoke Turkish, but my Arabic was far
more necessary and serviceable in general intercourse.

These experiences impressed it upon me most vividly that Aleppo is
thoroughly an Arabic-speaking city, and that the work should be in
organic connection with the evangelical work in other parts of Syria.
The Turkish congregation is a natural member of the Cilicia Union and
should affiliate with the churches of the north, but the Arabic
evangelical work belongs with the organizations under the care of our
mission in Syria. For four years this arrangement was continued and we
maintained Arabic services with a Syrian preacher and a day school with
a Syrian teacher. Each year two missionary visits were made, the
missionaries in Tripoli alternating in this duty. It was difficult to
carry on the work at such long range. In 1897 a heavy cut in our
appropriations made it necessary to consider every possible method of
retrenchment. At the same time the English Presbyterians were opening a
station in Aleppo for work among the Jews, and it seemed best, all
things considered, to ask our English friends to relieve us of this
responsibility, and assume the care of the work for the Gentiles as well
as for the Jews through the medium of Arabic, in Aleppo. Thus our
official connection with the work in Aleppo ceased, but it has never
passed from our minds that some day an Arabic-speaking evangelical
church in Aleppo should become a member of our Syrian Presbyterian
organization. Now that the railroad has brought Aleppo within six hours'
ride from Hamath, the problem has assumed a new form and we may hope
for a renewal of friendly affiliation.

Such a city as Aleppo, with about two hundred and fifty thousand people
and increasing commercial importance, demands much of the missionary
organizations. The famous Constantinople Bagdad railway of the Germans
passes through Aleppo. A branch line connects with the Mediterranean at
Alexandretta. The French system from Beirut ends in Aleppo, giving
direct connection with Damascus, Beirut and Tripoli. The work of the
American Board, being at present in Turkish, reaches only a small part
of the population. The English mission places its emphasis on work for
the Jews and has ample scope in that part of the population. There
remains the vast bulk of the whole population, with Arabic as their
language, looking naturally to the American mission in Syria for help
and guidance. The large Moslem population and the numerous nominal
Christians deserve the attention of a resident American missionary to
organize aggressive and effective work. Shall we wait longer before
pressing on in this direction?

Aleppo has been chosen by the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A. as
a place where a building should be erected and a permanent secretary
established. Should we fall behind the Y.M.C.A.? Whenever the American
Presbyterian Church says the word and furnishes the men and the money, I
am sure the Syrian mission will be ready to send one of its members
forward to this new frontier. God forbid that another quarter century
should pass before this is fulfilled.



CHAPTER VI

NEW STATIONS AND BUILDINGS


It has been my privilege to watch from the beginning the growth and
development of three prosperous churches in the territory of Tripoli
Presbytery. Each one has been marked by peculiarities that render it
especially interesting. In the early years of my acquaintance with the
church in Homs, I heard frequently of evangelistic visits on the part of
the young men of the church to various villages in the plain east of the
city--especially to one large village about two miles southeast of us.
The people of this village are of the Syrian or Jacobite church, and
have no little familiarity with the Bible and a really religious
disposition. Our young men from Homs used to go out in small bands of
two or more, with their gospels and hymn books in their pockets. If
they met a friendly reception, they would go into some house, where
those who were interested would gather together and a simple service or
friendly discussion would be held. If no one asked them to come in, they
would seek a place in the public square where people were gathered
together, and sing a hymn or read a passage to open the way for
discussion. In such cases there was danger of an exhibition of hostility
on the part of those who were unfriendly to the evangelical doctrine. It
happened more than once that these faithful messengers were driven out
of town, pursued with stones as well as reviling. Such treatment,
however, could not suppress the truth, and a strong church has grown up
from the seed thus sown amid hostile persecution.

There was a most interesting old priest in this town of Feiruzeh who
received the truth into his heart, but never had the courage to leave
the old church, though he was known to be at heart an evangelical
believer. He sought books on the evangelical doctrine and studied them
earnestly, and sometimes attended the Protestant service, being present
at least once on a sacramental occasion. He openly taught his people the
folly of auricular confession and priestly absolution, saying to them:
"If you wish to come to me and tell me of your sins, so that I may help
you and pray with you to God for forgiveness, I am at your service; but
I am a sinner like you and we all have access to one Saviour. I cannot
forgive your sins, but will gladly pray for you and with you."

There had been some inquiry about the truth on the part of a few people
in the village of El Yazidiyeh. In my first visit to the place we
pitched a tent on the threshing floor outside the village. Much
curiosity in our coming was shown, and some opportunity given to
strengthen the purpose of those who were inclined to the truth. At
length a teacher was stationed there and a simple school opened. One or
two of the people had joined the church in a neighboring village, but
the sacrament had never been administered in the town itself. Several
were ready to make a public profession of their faith in Christ, and it
seemed that the time had come to begin the full life of the little
church, by administering the sacrament on the spot. Plans were arranged
for an evening service in the schoolroom, and a good company was
gathered in the rudely furnished, dark little room. There was much
disturbance outside when it was known what was in progress. One zealous
defender of the truth sprang from his seat and rushed out in a most
militant manner to disperse the noisy crowd without. While the little
service was in progress, it was not always easy to keep the attention of
all, on account of the noisy beating of tin cans near by; and some
pebbles were thrown in at the windows. The service was completed,
however, and this was the beginning of what has proved to be one of our
most vigorous churches. There is now a simple church building, which is
always well filled at regular services, and new members are ready to
come forward at almost every communion service.

The village of Hakoor is memorable, not so much because of hostile
opposition to the work as because of the apparently feeble instrument
used of God for the establishment of the church. A blind man, of keen
and inquiring mind, lived in this village and made a precarious living
by keeping a little shop. He was respected by his neighbors for his
integrity of character, and trusted by the church authorities for his
fidelity to church duties. He began to hear something of the new
evangelical doctrine and though ready to investigate, was strong in his
opposition and slow to yield to the new faith. When once thoroughly
convinced, however, his very honesty of nature made him accept the truth
and declare himself for the Protestant view. The bishop sent for him,
in order to recall him from his error. He told the bishop that he was
convinced that the teaching and practice of the Greek Church were not in
harmony with the gospel, and that he had decided to follow the teaching
of God rather than that of men, but that he was ready to hear anything
the bishop had to say to convince him that he was mistaken. The bishop
began to read him a controversial tract recently prepared against the
Protestant doctrine. Our blind friend interrupted him, saying: "I have
heard all that and can give you an outline of the whole argument. It
does not convince me and so, if you have nothing stronger, it will do no
good." The bishop then reviled him, comparing his course to that of
Judas toward Christ, and so cast him off. The blind man went home, glad
to suffer abuse for the truth. He gathered around him a group of
neighbors who studied the gospel under his guidance, and a little church
has grown up in that village, to which he ministered regularly for a
year, when no other preacher could be found. The little band has been
full of zeal and has raised the money to build a little chapel in which
they worship and in which their children are taught.

By means which are insufficient in the sight of men, in spite of
opposition from those who are hostile to the truth, God's word continues
to bear fruit and the gospel light continues to spread throughout the
world.

The missionary is met, in his periodic visitation of the outstations,
with every conceivable request and complaint. I am often asked to mend a
clock or a watch. I have been appealed to to adjust a coffee mill which
did not work right. Matrimonial and family difficulties must often be
arranged. I have told the people that there is one complaint I am always
glad to hear, and that is to the effect that the place of worship is too
small for the regular attendants. When I first went to the village of
Minyara, the services were held in a small room about twenty by
twenty-five feet. There was room to spare, though not a great deal. In a
few years it became necessary to plan for enlargement. This was
accomplished by securing a piece of land adjacent to the building,
taking out the end wall and extending the room so as to increase its
capacity about two thirds. The growth of the congregation was so rapid
and steady that this enlargement was not completed before the room was
again inadequate. An appeal was made to a generous friend in St. Louis,
and five hundred dollars were sent for the Minyara chapel. A further
piece of land was secured, and plans made for an entirely new and larger
building. The outline is rectangular, and the flat roof is supported by
three rows of arches, resting on six pillars. This building has been
ample for the accommodation of this growing church for many years,
though it is often well filled and would be far from sufficient, were
not half the members in America.

In the city of Homs the old church had a flat dirt roof supported by two
heavy arches, which made the room seem dark and contracted. The regular
congregations taxed the capacity of the building, and the roof timbers
were showing signs of weakness which would necessitate an early renewal.
The pastor of the church began to work earnestly for a reconstruction of
the roof, with an enlargement of the audience room. There was a little
vacant space at one end of the building which if it were inclosed would
increase the capacity about forty per cent. At the same time the heavy
arches could be removed and a galvanized iron roof placed over the
enlarged building. But this would cost a considerable sum, and how was
that to be raised? The people thought they could not raise more than two
hundred dollars. The same friend in St. Louis, who had provided for the
Minyara chapel, sent another five hundred dollars, and we made this
proposition to the church: "After the church spends two hundred and
fifty dollars, the mission will put in five hundred, but if any more is
needed the church must provide it." They went to work with a will. When
the dirt from the old roof was to be carried out they organized a
regular church bee. All the men of the church came together, the pastor,
the doctor, the teacher, the merchant, each one taking one of the rough
baskets in which they carry dirt, and all together got the whole pile
removed at a considerable saving to the building fund. Before the work
was finished the church had raised and expended quite as much money as
they had received from outside. This enlarged place of worship has again
become too small, and its further enlargement is a pressing problem.

[Illustration: HADETH SUMMER HOME]

[Illustration: ABU MAROON, THE HADETH CARPENTER]



CHAPTER VII

CAMPING LIFE


At the close of a tour one spring, Mrs. Nelson and I were compelled to
reach home on a fixed date, because of the expected arrival of guests.
The weather had been unpropitious and the rains heavy for the season of
the year. At one point we had been shut in for several days by a
snowstorm, and all the rivers were unusually high. We had a broad plain
to cross, intersected by three rivers which must be forded. The rain had
been persistent, but ceased on the day we were obliged to start for
home. We reached the first river after about an hour's ride, and crossed
it successfully, the water coming near to the girths of the saddles. The
second river was reached and crossed without serious difficulty, but
from there onward the entire plain seemed to be under water, and our
horses splashed along through water and mud without interruption. Toward
sundown we neared the last stream, and congratulated ourselves that just
beyond it we should find the carriage road and a dry place for the
night. Our road lay through a wretched little Nusairiyeh village, just
before reaching the river, and as we passed the houses we were hailed by
many voices assuring us that the river could not be forded with safety.
I did not believe this at first, thinking it merely a ruse to compel us
to spend the night in their village. Such an event would be more or less
profitable to the people who would provide our necessities for a
consideration, even if there was no thought of robbery, which was quite
possible also. We waited for our muleteers, as they were familiar with
the stream and would be able to decide whether we could cross or not.
Their verdict agreed with the statement of the villagers and so we were
obliged to negotiate for a lodging place.

After some parley we were allowed to stop in the sheik's public room.
There was not a dry spot about the town, but by riding up close to the
door, we were able to dismount on a large log, and then jump across a
mud puddle to the doorsill, and so enter the room assigned to us. It
would be hard to make anyone who has not seen such houses realize what
this room was like. It was about twenty feet square, with one door and
no window. The lack of this latter was partly supplied by the fact that
the wall of the house had tumbled in at one corner, leaving a ragged
hole through which light and air entered freely. The floor was of dirt
and at two levels. One half, which was used to accommodate people, was
reached by a high step and was comparatively dry. In the middle of this
higher floor was a smoldering wood fire, from which the smoke had
colored the roof timbers a shiny black. The lower half of the floor was
on a level with the ground outside or even a little lower, and was
decidedly muddy. This section was for the accommodation of horses and
cattle. When our party was all inside, so that we could take a census,
we found that the occupants of the room for the night were to be,
besides myself and my wife, the three muleteers, a cook and a Syrian
maid accompanying us to the city. We were in the higher part of the
room. In the other part were two horses, four mules, a goat and a calf.
These were the visible animals, and anyone who has traveled under
similar conditions will appreciate what is meant when I say there were
myriads of other creatures which made themselves known through other
senses than sight.

The sheik was seated by the fire, warming himself, and gave us a scant
welcome. We took such a supper as we were able to provide in the
circumstances, and prepared to be as comfortable as possible for the
night. One of the men had been suffering from malaria and so I prepared
for him, and others in the party, a dose of quinine, after the fatigue
and exposure of the day. The sheik immediately asked what it was, and
desired a dose for himself and the other men present. It was the same
principle as that which makes bargain sales attractive. Something is
going cheap or gratis, and so I must have it, whether I need it or not.
Doses were given out to all who wished for it, for a few grains of
quinine seldom go amiss in this country. Conversation was not very
lively, about that smoky fire, as we were tired and there were not many
topics of common interest. At length our cook thought he would
facilitate matters a little. He had lived with foreigners long enough to
know the advantage of appealing to the gallantry of men toward the
ladies, so he said in his most ingratiating tone to the sheik, "The lady
is tired and would like to go to sleep." "Well, let her do so, there is
no objection." With a scarcely restrained chuckle, the cook subsided for
a time and then tried again, saying this time, "The Effendi (gentleman)
is tired and would be much obliged if you would leave so that he may
sleep." This was a different proposition and seemed to meet something of
a response. Shortly, one of those present got up and went over into the
corner of the room where he spread out his cloak and proceeded to his
Moslem devotions. When he was through, another followed him with equal
deliberation, and we began to doubt whether we should sleep before
morning. At length the last one withdrew and we were left to ourselves,
including the attendants and animals mentioned before. We spread our
camp bedsteads in the driest part of the room and made ready to sleep.
It was not long, however, before the rain began to fall, and very soon
the roof began to leak over our heads. We spread rubber coats over
ourselves and raised our umbrellas over our heads and tried to see the
humor of the situation. At early dawn we were up and packed our goods
for a new start. The river had fallen sufficiently in the night to
permit our crossing, though with some difficulty. On the farther bank we
found a party of people waiting until the stream should subside
sufficiently to allow them to cross with their small donkeys.

Every summer it is necessary to make a change from the heat of the plain
to the more bracing air of the mountains. This is not a vacation, for
the missionary's work goes on with little variation, wherever he may be,
but it involves a change of base and the setting up of a simple
household in different surroundings. In those earlier years the mountain
life was exceedingly simple and the means of transportation most crude.
The village of Hadeth is accessible from Tripoli and in a beautiful
situation, directly opposite the famous grove of Cedars of Lebanon. It
lies on a ridge in the mountains at an elevation of some forty-five
hundred feet above the sea. More than one season have we spent in the
house of old Abu Maroon, the village carpenter. The house consisted of
four large rooms, opening on a long, arched porch which extended the
full length of the house. The floors were of dirt and the walls roughly
plastered with mud. We rented three of these rooms, the owners occupying
the fourth. The partitions between the rooms were made of brushwood,
plastered on both sides with mud. These partitions extended only about
three fourths of the way to the roof, leaving ample space above for
ventilation and conversation. The uncovered twigs and small branches at
the top of these partitions made an attractive, artistic feature, very
pleasing to many of our visitors. One of the regular household duties in
those mountain houses was the renewing of the mud on the floors. Every
week or two it was necessary to remove everything from the rooms, spread
a fresh coat of watery mud over the floor, and polish it off with a
smooth, round stone kept for the purpose. We could then anticipate
reasonable freedom from fleas for another period.

The only way to reach a summer resort was on horseback, over very rough
bridle paths. All furniture had to be transported by mules in like
manner; folding chairs and tables, camping utensils and necessary
bedding had to be made into suitable bundles; indispensable supplies had
to be provided and mules secured to carry all to the mountains. It was a
long, hard day's ride and the party was sure to be pretty tired the
first night of arrival, but the renewed vigor in the fresh mountain air
gave new strength for the resumption of life on the hotter plain in the
fall and it was well worth all the trouble it cost.

When it is possible to secure a week or two for real rest, there is no
more delightful way to accomplish the purpose than to make a camp in the
cedar grove. This clump of trees lies in a basin in the higher
mountains, about six thousand feet above sea level. On the east and
north, and somewhat on the south, the mountains rise about this great
amphitheater to about four thousand feet more, being the highest
mountains anywhere in Syria. Large patches of snow lie perpetually on
these highest mountains, but the slopes are bare, having no trees nor
shrubs beyond clumps of thorns and scanty grass where the melting snows
afford some moisture. Flocks of goats range over these barren slopes,
gaining a scanty subsistence. In the days of Solomon and Hiram of Tyre
these mountains were probably covered with cedar forests. Nowadays only
small sections are so covered, though on many of the bare heights the
people still dig up the old stumps of great cedar trees, which they sell
for fuel in the cities.

On the entire mountain range there is left no single grove of really
ancient cedars, except the one of which I have spoken, known among the
people as the "Cedars of the Lord" or simply as "The Cedars." It is
impossible to speak with certainty of the age of these great trees, but
from what we know of their slow growth and the size of many of the
trunks, it is safe to place their age in the thousands of years. There
are more than four hundred trees in the grove and their reputed sanctity
has protected them from destruction. Some forty years ago one of the
governors of Mount Lebanon had a wall built inclosing the grove and a
guardian appointed. This affords protection from goats, and now a number
of small trees are growing up to perpetuate the grove in generations to
come. If proper steps were taken for reforesting the whole of Lebanon,
there would be a great improvement in many ways, and the agricultural
wealth of the country would be greatly increased.

To establish a camp among these grand old trees is a most delightful way
to spend a short vacation. The silence of the nights under the spreading
branches; the fragrance of the foliage; the soothing sigh of the breeze
among the tree tops; the beautiful and ever-changing colors on the
higher mountain slopes; the beautiful outlook to the west over the
narrow valley out to the distant Mediterranean; all these influences
tend to quiet the tired nerves, refresh the exhausted brain and draw the
discouraged heart back to quiet and rest in the hand of the Master.



CHAPTER VIII

PERSECUTION


Late one afternoon as I was sitting in my study, the doorbell rang and a
young man from Hamath entered, showing every token of great excitement
and fatigue. He had just arrived on the diligence from Homs. As soon as
he was sufficiently composed to give me a clear story, he told me that
the preacher in Hamath had been suddenly arrested by the local
authorities, and after somewhat rough treatment, had been sent under
guard to Damascus, a journey of five days on horseback, as it was before
the era of railroads. So far as I could learn from my informant, the
case was one of flagrant persecution, with no culpable occasion behind
it. The first thing to be done was to quiet the excitement of our
friend, who had brought the word himself rather than trust a written
message. Giving him a chance to rest, I made hasty arrangements for a
night ride to Beirut. The moon would rise about ten o'clock and I
arranged for two riding horses to be ready for us before midnight. We
set out together through the olive orchards under the witchery of the
moonlight. It would have been a pleasant experience under other
circumstances. The road follows the general line of the seashore, at
times close to the breaking waves, and again rising on a rocky bluff at
whose base the blue sea keeps up an incessant murmur. In the silent
night the play of advancing and retreating waves gives a constantly
varied effect of light and sound.

Before noon we reached Beirut and consulted with various missionary
friends and the consuls of America, England and Germany, who take an
interest in matters affecting the Protestants in Turkey. It was decided
that our Hamath friend should go at once to Damascus, while I awaited
word from him whether my presence was needed. The following day a
telegram agreed upon between us brought the brief message, "Better
come." The old French diligence in those days made the trip across Mount
Lebanon to Damascus in something over thirteen hours, a rather fatiguing
day. On the evening of my arrival we had a conference of the immediate
circle of friends, and the arrested man himself was among us. This was a
thoroughly characteristic incident, under Turkish administration, and so
merits a word of explanation. During the journey from Hamath to
Damascus, friendly relations had been established between the prisoner
and his escort, so that the latter were willing to accommodate their
prisoner in any reasonable measure. It was agreed upon that they should
not announce their arrival nor report to their superiors for a few days
until the prisoner secured a little rest and made arrangements for his
defense. Hence I was informed by our friend himself that he would not
arrive in Damascus "officially" for several days.

It is needless to go into all the details of this event but the
animating cause of the incident has its humorous as well as its
enlightening side. Some time before, our friend had wished to compliment
the man who was at the time governor of Hamath. Being of a literary turn
he wrote a flattering poem to present on a suitable occasion.
Indiscreetly he worked into his poem serious reflections on another man
who was the governor's enemy and who held a similar post at a distance.
The governor was so pleased that the poem was printed for distribution
and a copy reached the hands of the other man, who was naturally not
pleased with it. In the subsequent shifting of appointments this very
man became governor of Hamath, and found a way to vent his spite at the
poet.

When looked at from a safe perspective, most of the so-called
persecution in Syria has a predominant touch of humor in it. The most
convenient and suitable place for Tripoli missionary families to spend
their summers is in the village of Hadeth close to the summer seat of
the Maronite patriarch. The whole valley is considered sacred, and hence
strongly guarded against the pollution of any heretical evangelical
influences. For a number of years the ecclesiastics tried, in every way
they could devise, to make us trouble and to prevent our securing houses
in the town, or finding any comfort when we did so. During one summer
they were especially aggressive and seemed determined to be rid of us.
The priests warned everyone against serving us in any way, and against
selling us anything to eat. For a few days our servant had to go to a
neighboring town to buy supplies. The woman who had been doing our
washing sent word she could not come. A special conclave assembled and
summoned our landlord, threatening all sorts of vengeance if he did not
turn us out. They said that a mob would destroy his house over our
heads. The poor old man came to me in great fear, knowing the
unscrupulousness of his opponents, and thinking they might get up some
false accusation against him in the government and cast him into prison
or subject him to needless loss or expense. I assured him they would not
dare touch us or attack his property and that the whole plan was to
frighten us into leaving town, if possible. I told him that we were to
leave on a certain day in October. When the hostile party learned this,
they drew up a pledge that the Americans were to be expelled from town
on the day I had indicated, under a forfeit of fifty pounds from the
landlord to the local church. He was also required to go to the church
and apologize publicly to the people, kiss the floor of the church in
front of the picture of the Virgin, and pay a pound into the treasury.
He was then accepted as in good and regular standing, and all waited for
the appointed day. Unfortunately I did not know of this until it was too
late to change our plans. On the day appointed we left town with our
household goods and as we rode away we heard the church bells ringing
out a peal of rejoicing to celebrate the cleansing of the town. Times
have changed now, and the same priest who led in the opposition then
will call upon us and crack jokes about the times gone by.



CHAPTER IX

EMIGRATION


The period of my life in Syria has witnessed the rapid development of
emigration. In former days there was very little travel among the
people, the marriage of a girl to a man in a neighboring village being a
notable and rather rare occurrence. It was no unusual thing for a person
to spend his whole life without ever going so much as ten miles from his
birthplace. I was entertained for supper one night at the home of a
wealthy Moslem in Homs. The old father of our host was present and I
entered into conversation with him as to the experiences of his long
life. He told me that he had taken four wives, as permitted by Moslem
law. He had twenty sons who had all grown up and married in Homs. He
said that his grandsons numbered about a hundred, all of whom he knew
by face, though he might not be able to fit the right name to each, at
first sight. Knowing him to be quite wealthy, I asked whether he had
traveled much. My first question was whether he had been to the
seashore, some sixty-five miles away at Tripoli. He had never seen the
sea. "Have you been to Damascus?" This would appeal more to a devout
Moslem, since the sea is always associated more or less with the unholy
foreigners of Christian faith, while Damascus is an ancient seat of
Moslem power and glory. "No, I have never seen Damascus," was his
answer. "Well, surely you have been to Hamath?" This is only thirty
miles distant. "No," he said, "I never went to Hamath." "Have you passed
your whole life right here in Homs?" "Once," he said, "I made a journey
out among the Arabs of the desert, to buy sheep." That was the extent of
traveling by an intelligent, well-to-do Moslem of the old school.

Some thirty or forty years ago a change began among the people and a
few enterprising men sought more favorable opportunities for making a
living in foreign lands. Many of them were successful and encouraged
others to follow them, until now the most profitable business of the
steamships calling at Syrian ports is the carrying of emigrants back and
forth. The weekly exit is numbered by the hundreds, and large numbers
also return from time to time. Few of those who return to Syria remain
for any length of time, for, having once tasted the liberty and
experienced the opportunities of life in western lands, they are no
longer content to fall back into the old, slow, unprofitable methods of
the Orient. A notable change has also come over the character of the
emigration in another respect. At first it was only the more
enterprising, vigorous young men who went abroad to seek their fortunes.
Now whole families go together. Women and girls emigrate as freely as
men. At first it was only Christians who sought to improve their
condition in Christian lands; now Moslems and Nusairiyeh go as freely as
do the Christians.

At first this emigration was a blind flight from poverty and oppressive
conditions at home, with little understanding of the places to which the
emigrants were going. They placed themselves literally in the hands of
the steamship agents in Marseilles. Taking passage from Syria to
Marseilles, they were shipped on from there in bunches, according to the
advantage of the agent into whose hands they fell. They might be sent to
Argentine, while the friends to whom they were going were in
Massachusetts. They might be sent to Sierra Leone or to Capetown, but it
was all America in their minds. The simple idea of geography in those
days seemed to divide the world into two parts, Syria and America. The
common people know far better now, for they discuss intelligently the
conditions of life and business in the various parts of the world.
Syrians are to be found in every one of the United States, from Maine to
Florida, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They are in Alaska, the
Sandwich Islands and the Philippines. They are in every country of
Central and South America, in the West Indies and in all parts of
Africa. In many places they have bought property and made permanent
business arrangements.

In the early years there were many indications of their lack of
experience in money matters and general business methods. One man in
Brazil had accumulated quite a sum of money and wished to return home.
He did not understand the simplicity of taking a draft on London from
the bank, and was averse to parting with good gold for a mere slip of
paper. He changed all his money into English sovereigns and put the
whole nine hundred into a belt, which he secured around his body under
his clothes. He did not dare remove his treasure day or night during the
weeks of journey, enduring the weight and pressure until he reached
home. He was then taken sick and nearly lost his life from kidney
trouble induced by this folly.

Another young man in Mexico started home by way of New York. He knew
that English and French gold are current in Syria, and was sure that
American gold was every bit as good. So he exchanged his money for
American gold coin. It came to my attention through a man who came to me
with a twenty-dollar gold piece, and asked what it was worth. When I
told him its real value, he showed such surprise as to arouse my
curiosity. It appeared that this coin, with one like it, had been given
as betrothal token for his daughter. Subsequently the engagement was
broken by the young man and so, in accordance with oriental custom, the
token was forfeited. The father, wishing to realize on the coin, took it
to a local goldsmith who pretended to examine it carefully and then
offered three dollars for it. The father was disappointed at this
appraisal and indignant that his daughter should have been rated so low.
The reaction, when he found the coin to be worth nearly seven times as
much as he had been informed, was almost too much for him.

One matter connected incidentally with the emigration has been the call
for assistance in handling money for those abroad. In the earlier years
there were no adequate banking facilities outside of Beirut and so the
people began to send back money to their families through the hands of
friends who were merchants living in the various seaport towns. In
several cases unscrupulous men took advantage of the general ignorance
in money matters to secure abnormal profits to themselves, and in more
than one instance, through fraudulent bankruptcy, cheated the people out
of hundreds of pounds. Those who were in any way connected with the
American missionaries began sending their money to us, and at last we
were obliged to conduct quite an extensive banking business. In some
years drafts for several thousand pounds would come to me in sums
ranging from two or three pounds to several hundred at a time. These
were to be paid out to various relatives or to be held on deposit until
the owners' return. On one occasion I opened a registered letter from
Brazil and found in it a draft on London for ten pounds. On reading the
letter I found it to be written by a man I did not know, in behalf of
another stranger, and that the money was to be paid to an entire
stranger in a village I had never seen. It was enough for the sender to
know that his money was in the hands of an American missionary.

On one occasion a returned emigrant came to my associate with a kerchief
full of silver and gold coins. He asked the privilege of depositing this
with the mission until he needed it. As it was evidently a considerable
sum, he was advised to put it in the bank so as to secure some
interest, but he preferred to feel sure that his money was safe, even
though it earned nothing. Neither did he see any necessity of waiting
until the money should be counted and a regular entry made of it in the
books. It was enough that the missionary had charge of it. This open
account remained with us a number of years and sometimes amounted to two
thousand dollars.

A man sent me from Venezuela a draft for a hundred pounds, charging me
to let no one know of it, but to hold the money until he should come.
After a long interval I learned that his wife was thinking of going to
join him, since no word had been received. I succeeded in dissuading
her, as I knew he was planning to come home and they might miss each
other in mid-ocean. The return was delayed, and before he arrived his
funds in my hands amounted to six or seven hundred pounds.

The volume of emigration is growing every year and is taking away the
strength of the land, but better banking facilities have relieved us of
the financial cares formerly carried. The director of the Ottoman Bank
in Tripoli estimates the annual amount of money passing through this one
port in drafts from Syrians abroad as not less than seven hundred
thousand pounds sterling.



CHAPTER X

SYRIAN ENTERPRISES


The final aim of mission work is the development of a self-supporting,
self-propagating Christian community, and hence the happiest experience
of a missionary's life is connected with the first independent
undertakings of the people whom he serves. In this connection there are
two interesting incidents connected with the life of the evangelical
church in Homs. There are men still living who remember when the gates
in the old city walls were closed every night at sunset, and a belated
traveler had to make himself as safe and comfortable as he could on the
outside until sunrise the next morning. When this old custom passed into
disuse, the city gradually outgrew the old limits and new sections
began to appear outside the old walls. When I first visited Homs, there
was already a large settlement on the north side of the old city, known
as the Hamidiyeh in honor of the reigning sovereign Abd-ul-Hamid. In
this section of the city were a number of evangelicals and it was most
desirable that there should be regular services in that section. Much
difficulty was found in renting suitable quarters, and a change was
necessary every year or two. At length one of the most prosperous men in
the church decided that a permanent chapel must be secured. The people
in that part of the city were poor and could not raise money to buy
property. He decided to set aside a certain sum, and let it accumulate
in his own business until he should have sufficient for the purpose. He
did so, and after some years was able to purchase and remodel a house in
the Hamidiyeh. That little chapel has been in constant use now for many
years for public service on the Sabbath and school during the week, and
is all the result of the generous thought of this one man.

[Illustration: HOMS Boys' School]

Early in the present century a zealous young man became the acting
pastor of the Homs church. He was constantly seeking for means to
strengthen the position of the evangelical church in the community and
was soon convinced of the importance of improving the schools, so as to
make them more effective and more attractive. He urged the church
forward in support of his plans, and raised the standard of work in the
schools. He himself was an indefatigable worker and inspired others with
the spirit of service. He gained the confidence of the man referred to
above and secured his help financially when needed. At length it seemed
to this pastor that all their efforts would be in vain unless he could
establish a boarding school for boys. It was not possible for the
mission to help in these plans at that time, and our earnest friend
decided to push ahead alone. A bequest was made to the evangelical
church in Homs by one of her members who died in Egypt. This was a
nucleus, and others were induced to contribute larger and smaller sums.
A beginning was made in temporary quarters in the city itself, while a
fine site was purchased outside for the permanent building. The school
was popular from the start, and, considering the cramped and unsuitable
quarters in which it was conducted, did admirable work. Syrians in Egypt
and America responded well to the appeal to their patriotism. A plain
but commodious building was erected on the new site and the school was
moved to its new home. The school has about four or five acres of land,
lying higher than any other plot near the city. This tract is inclosed
by a simple wall. Within is the two-story stone school building, with
accommodation for something over a hundred boarders, and a schoolroom
which might accommodate nearly twice that number. The kitchen and dining
room are in a simpler building adjacent. Thus has been provided a
convenient, healthful home for the school, with ample playground and
suitable surroundings.

A Christian community which shows the strength and ability to organize
and conduct such enterprises as these has certainly a degree of vitality
which gives us every confidence in its growth and advance in the future.

One of the greatest misfortunes, as it appears to me, in the situation
of the subject races in Turkey, is their inability to appreciate the
value and meaning of the word "loyalty." I have failed to find an Arabic
word in common use which conveys the fullness of what we mean by that
word "loyalty," and it seems to be because the people have had no
occasion to express the idea. It is an inestimable loss to a people to
live in such conditions, for there is an inevitable reaction upon
character and a blighting effect on all the relations of life. This
condition of things has grown rapidly in recent years, and most
evidently during the reverses of the Balkan war. It is an everyday
experience, in passing along the street, to hear people exclaiming
against the oppression and injustice of Turkish rule, with the
expression, "Anything would be better than the present condition." Nor
are such expressions any more frequent from Christians than from
Moslems. A member of one of the leading Mohammedan families was recently
quoted to me as saying: "We want an end of this business. We want the
English to come and take charge of us." One day as a merchant was taking
a bag of small coins from his safe to make a payment, he was warned not
to accumulate any large amount of these small coins, as they would
depreciate in value, if anything serious should happen to the Turkish
Government. With a look of disgust, he said, "I would gladly lose them
all and the silver coins, too, to be wholly rid of Turkey, once for
all." On another occasion a simple carriage driver expressed his views
in rough style, by saying, "Sir, the Devil himself would be an
improvement on the present state of things." Then more seriously, he
said, "We know we are not fitted for self-government, and what we want
most of all is England, or if that is impossible, then France." On a
railroad train there was one other passenger in the compartment with me.
While stopping at a station, something occurred to excite my companion
to violent abuse of the government. When he paused I said to him, "Sir,
how is it that you speak so, although you wear the fez?" He turned to me
and spoke most earnestly, but with no trace of excitement, saying, "Yes,
I am a Turk, and I am a Mohammedan, and nevertheless, I have no words
strong enough to express my contempt for the Turkish Government." All
these things are exceedingly sad, for it is an immeasurable loss to a
people if they cannot love and respect those whom they must obey.



CHAPTER XI

INTERRUPTIONS


Our life in Syria has been, on the whole, quiet, but it has not been
without its shadows. There is no life without its sorrows and unexpected
experiences. The comparative isolation of missionary life brings into
very close fellowship those who are cut off from the closer relationship
to friends in the homeland. One Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1906, I
was standing in the back of our chapel, awaiting the closing exercises
of the Sunday school. The telegraph messenger appeared at the door and
handed me a telegram, for which I signed without serious thought. When I
opened the paper and read the wholly unexpected message, all strength
seemed to leave me, and I hastened to a seat, lest I fall to the floor.
The message told of the sudden death of my brother-in-law, Rev. W. K.
Eddy of Sidon, while away from home on a tour. We had considered him one
of the most vigorous men in the mission, for whom years of active
service might be expected, and now in a moment he had been called away,
leaving his family and his work to others. It took time to realize the
situation but some things had to be done at once. I called my servant
and sent him to secure an animal, as I had to start at once for Sidon.
Arrangements had to be made for my absence, and the sad news had to be
broken to the Tripoli circle of friends. By five o'clock I was ready to
start, and I shall never forget that night's ride. The first twenty
miles were covered in the early evening hours, on horseback over a
rough, stony road, while the question kept ringing through my mind, "Why
should this be?" About ten o'clock I reached the carriage road where I
could take a more comfortable and speedy conveyance. All through the
dark night, as I jolted over the road, trying to get a little rest in
preparation for the hard day before me, I could not turn my mind from
the many problems connected with this sad experience. Who would take up
the work thus suddenly dropped? What plan would be made for the family
of growing children? The night was dark, but the dawn was approaching.
The way seemed dark, but the Father's love had brought us to this point
and he would not leave us to walk alone. In the early dawn, I reached
Beirut and found the missionary friends there ready to start for Sidon,
and so we all went on together, reaching the darkened home about noon.
The large assembly hall was filled in the afternoon for the funeral
services, and a great crowd of all classes of people marched out to the
cemetery, where the mortal remains of our loved brother and fellow
worker were laid away. Those are precious spots where we do the last
service on earth for those we have loved, but they are doubly precious
on the mission field where the distance from the great body of family
friends and relatives is so deeply felt. But these occasions strengthen
the ties that bind us to the hearts and lives of those among whom we
live and whom we serve.

We had scarcely adjusted ourselves to this sorrow when another of the
hard experiences of life came upon us. The season had been one of
exceptionally heavy work and continuous strain, which showed in a
decided break in health. The doctors said work must be dropped at once
and the winter be spent in Egypt, if a more serious break were to be
avoided. It was not exactly a pleasure excursion on which we started
during the Christmas holidays. There was no time to write ahead and make
inquiries or arrangements, so we set out to a strange land among
strangers, in search of health. Finding no place which seemed suitable
in lower Egypt, we decided to go up the river to Assiyut, and wrote a
letter to Dr. Alexander, president of the United Presbyterian College
at that place. We had no personal acquaintance and no claim upon him,
but he was a missionary, and that was enough.

It was a long ride and Egyptian railroads are nothing if not dusty. Our
spirits had not begun to rise yet, and we felt rather tired and wholly
disreputable in appearance, when we left the train at Assiyut, ready to
ask our way to the Greek hotel. But before we had a chance to do
anything, we saw a bright, cheery face, bearing an evident welcome, and
a hearty voice assuring us that the owner was Dr. Alexander and that he
had come to take us in charge. It was the first encouraging incident,
and lifted a weight from us at once. As we walked along he told us they
had held a conference over our case, and, having decided that we could
not be comfortable in the hotel, had placed at our disposal a rest room
provided in the hospital for members of their own mission or other
foreigners who needed rest and medical attention. A more perfect
provision for our need could not have been devised. We enjoyed the
companionship of the corps of foreign nurses, sharing their table and
home life. We had the constant companionship as well as the professional
services of the four medical missionaries. Is it a wonder that I began
to gain at once? After nine weeks we returned to our work, made over and
with a new lease of life, a new sense of the solidarity of Christian
fellowship, and a new realization of the heavenly Father's tender care.

Such experiences as that winter at Assiyut show how entirely
denominational differences are forgotten on the mission field. In social
intercourse, in the prayer circle, in discussion of mission problems, in
the church service, in the pulpit, there was never anything to remind us
that we were only Presbyterians while our kind hosts were United
Presbyterians. It was a delightful opportunity for the cultivation of
fellowship, and for the observation of other forms and methods of
mission work, under conditions very different from ours in Syria. The
work in Egypt is relieved from many of the problems so insistent in
Turkey. There is no hostile government, always suspicious of every move
made by a foreigner. There is no such inefficiency in the government as
makes the lives of Turkish subjects always insecure and travel
dangerous. But, on the other hand, the climatic conditions in Egypt are
far more trying than in Syria, as the heat is extremely enervating for
most of the year. These climatic conditions undoubtedly account to some
extent for the less virile, independent character of the people. But
whatever the differences in climate, whatever the differences in the
character of the people, whatever the differences in governmental
relations, we came back from Egypt more than ever impressed with the
fact that the conflict is one, the object aimed at is one, and the body
of workers is one, under the direction of our one Lord and Master.

In 1911 there came another break in the routine life of the field, but
with no such sorrow in it as in the former incidents. The second
Conference for Workers in Moslem Lands met in Lucknow in January 1911
and our mission chose me as its delegate to that conference. The journey
through the Suez Canal and down the Red Sea and across the Arabian Sea
to Bombay was one of the experiences of life never to be forgotten.
There were enough of us going on the same journey to form a little group
of sympathetic companions and we had many an opportunity at table and on
deck to talk over the matters connected with our life work.

The contrasts in the streets of Bombay are similar to those seen in all
the changing Orient, but with characteristic differences calculated to
catch the eye of one accustomed to the nearer East. Nowhere in Turkey do
you find such broad, magnificent, paved thoroughfares as those in
Bombay, and yet, beside the track of the electric trolley, you see a
crude cart jogging along behind the humpbacked bullock. On the pavements
you see elaborately dressed ladies from Europe, or from the wealthy
Parsee families, with their Paris gowns and modern hats, and almost at
their elbows the dark-skinned members of the sweeper caste, clad in a
simple loin cloth. You step out of the finely appointed barber shop in
your modern hotel, with its polite, English-speaking attendant, to see
by the roadside a group of swarthy Indians, crouching on the ground, as
one of their number shaves the crowns of their heads.

The tourist in Galilee in the spring of the year is impressed by the
variety and brilliancy of color all about him in the wild flowers of the
fields. As we walked the streets of Bombay, the same impression was made
upon us by the brightness and variety in the headdress of the men. If
there is any color known to the dyers' art not found among the turbans
of Bombay it is merely because no samples have as yet been sent there.
Every shape as well as every shade is found, and it would almost seem as
if the excessive attention paid to the head covering had exhausted the
energy of the people, leaving no desire or ability to devise any
covering for the rest of the body. A stranger may wonder also at first
why everyone seems to have forgotten to wash his face. Those curious
blotches of varicolored clay on the forehead are not accidental nor an
indication of carelessness to one's personal appearance. On the
contrary, they indicate fidelity to religious duty and reveal to the
initiated the special temple most recently visited by the devout
worshiper. For a transient visitor, this variety and intricacy are
puzzling, but to the initiated everything has its meaning and the
varieties of headdress tell the tale of religious affiliation and caste
gradation.

Comfortable train service carried us quickly to the north, giving us
glimpses of Delhi, the ancient Mogul capital, with its reminders of the
mutiny; and Agra with its matchless architectural gem, the Taj Mahal. We
reached Agra at the close of the day, and after locating ourselves at
the hotel, set out on foot to have our first glimpse of the Taj by
moonlight. No matter what one may have read of this wonderful building,
no matter what pictures or models one may have seen, I have yet to meet
a person who has not been most deeply impressed by the first vision of
the reality. The approach through the dark foliage of the quiet garden
gives a chance for the impressive grandeur of the marble structure to
fix itself in the visitor's mind. By the time he enters the spacious
archway, he has begun to appreciate the perfection of the curves, the
nobility of the dimensions, the purity of the white marble and the
graceful dignity of the whole combination. The beautifully inlaid black
lettering from the Koran follows the curves of the lofty arch overhead,
adding a sense of sacredness to the entrance. And yet, when one is
inside, he almost forgets the impressions received without. In place of
stateliness and grandeur, we find here a beauty of finish and exactness
of detail which surpass all the more massive qualities of the exterior.
The central tomb is surrounded by a marble screen carved with a delicacy
that makes one forget the marble and think he sees before him the most
perfect and delicate lace veil. The pillars and panels of the screen,
the inner walls of the building, as well as the sides of the tomb
itself, are decorated with the most beautifully inlaid work of vines and
wreaths of flowers represented in their natural colors, in the most
delicate shades of precious stone. One wonders to find such exquisite
work anywhere and the wonder increases when one realizes that this is
not the product of modern skill and patience, but that it has stood
here, from the days of the Mogul Empire, when we consider that India was
a land of barbarians. And more than this is to follow, for this
wonderful mausoleum was erected at fabulous cost by a Moslem ruler, in
memory of his wife.

We were not in India merely as sightseers. After a night ride on the
train we reached Lahore in the early morning and at the station received
the hearty welcome of J. C. R. Ewing, D.D., president of Forman
Christian College. Again in northern India we had the loving handclasp
of a fellow missionary and the cordial welcome to a missionary home. The
short visit there could give us but a faint impression of what that
college is doing for the Punjab and what a position and influence the
missionaries have among the people of every class, whether Indian or
British. Never did I have such a vivid impression of the awful
experiences of the mutiny, or the wonderful changes wrought by British
rule in India, as when I stood on some of the memorable spots at
Cawnpore and Lucknow, and reviewed the record of treachery and loyalty,
cowardice and bravery, cruelty and gallantry, which were developed in
the awful experiences of the Mutiny. To-day, no matter what may be the
restlessness and uncertainty of the situation, India is a united
country, and not a medley of hostile principalities and warring
kingdoms. Railroads cover the land in every direction with an efficient
service. Perfect carriage roads make the land a paradise for motor cars
and bicycles. Military encampments near all the large cities assure
security of life and property. Schools and colleges are extending
knowledge in every direction. Wealth is taking place of poverty,
knowledge of ignorance, light of darkness, and religion is coming into
its own as a real force in human life and no longer as merely a badge of
faction or clan.

The gathering at Lucknow was notable. Delegates of many nationalities
gathered in that hall. Workers in many lands and in widely differing
conditions, we came together for a common purpose. Members of many
Christian denominations, we united in the worship of one Master.
Differences were forgotten in a deeper union. Whatever allegiance we
owed to earthly sovereigns, we met as children of the heavenly King.
Whatever may have been the language of our ordinary service, here we had
but one language--that of loving fellowship. We were members of separate
bands of commissioners, coming together at the feet of our Leader to ask
for fuller instructions in the pursuit of his work.

The keynote of the Lucknow Conference was to win the Moslem world by
love, the love of Christ incarnate in his messenger. It is one of the
most hopeful signs in the advancement of the kingdom that the attractive
power of love is more prominent than the overwhelming power of argument.
It is a great help to the right placing of this emphasis that workers in
many lands, of many nations, of many denominations, are drawing nearer
together and working more in harmony. I returned from India, rejoicing
in all I had seen of God's power and blessing in that land, but with a
deeper conviction that the work in India, in China, in Africa, in Syria
is all one work, under one Master.



CHAPTER XII

OUR SUPPORTERS


One of the brightest things in the missionary's happy lot is the
beautiful relation existing between those on the field and those whom
they represent in the homeland. Many years ago we were calling, one
evening, upon our landlord in Tripoli. The eldest son had recently
returned from America, and in the course of conversation the father
asked from what part of the United States we came, in order to see
whether his son had been in the same vicinity. The son at once replied:
"I know the name of the place, but I do not know in what state it is.
They come from Private Funds." We could not think at first what he
meant, but then discovered that he had found a missionary report among
some old magazines thrown out from the house. In this he had seen our
names in a list of missionaries, giving the name of the society by which
each was supported. Seeing "Private Funds" opposite our names, he
thought it must be the name of the town from which we came, though, as
he said, he did not know in what state it was located. A little
knowledge is truly a dangerous thing.

The relation indicated by those words, which has subsisted for
twenty-five years, has been most happy. When I was a senior in the
seminary and had already made my application to the Foreign Board, I
received a letter from Mr. George D. Dayton of Minnesota. He was the son
of an elder in my father's old church in Geneva, only a few years older
than I, but already a prosperous business man whose generosity in the
Lord's work was becoming well known. He urged upon me the need and
opportunity in the home mission field of the growing northwest. I
answered him, explaining as fully as I could, the reasons that had led
me to decide that my life should be devoted to another field, realizing
that my answer would be a disappointment to him and might cause some
weakening of the ties of friendship already strong between us.

The next that I heard of the subject was that Mr. Dayton had written to
the Foreign Board, assuming our support as the personal representatives
of his family in the foreign field. Thus, instead of weakening our
friendship, my choice was the beginning of a closer and warmer relation
than ever. It has always been recognized as a family matter, and I shall
never forget the comfort and strength that came to us in one of the
early years through a letter from Mr. Dayton. It was written on Sunday
afternoon, and contained words to this effect: "To-day was the time
appointed for the annual offering for foreign missions in our church.
Before going to church I gathered the family together and talked to the
children about you as our representatives in Syria. Then we united in
prayer at the family altar for God's blessing on you. At church I placed
in the collection my check for the amount I have pledged to the Board
for your support." Through letters and visits in the home when on
furlough, this delightful relation has grown more and more precious as
the years have passed, and it has been a pleasure to acknowledge that we
come from Private Funds, which, we are sure, is situated in the State of
Felicity, in the United States of Brotherly Love.

It has been said that a missionary furlough is an excellent thing if it
is not needed too urgently. We have had two most thoroughly enjoyable
furloughs in the homeland, during our missionary life. Each visit to
America has tended to refresh and invigorate us most admirably for a new
period of service and we have added many to the circle of friends who
encourage us in our work and keep vigorous the connecting link with the
workers at home. The periods of our absence from America have had a
curious coincidence with the change in methods of locomotion in America.
When we first came to Syria in 1888, the horse car was still supreme in
American cities. Experimental lines of electric trolleys were being
tried in certain places, but I had never seen an electric car. When we
returned to America in 1897, we found the trolley in all the cities, and
I remember being disturbed, the first Sunday in Philadelphia, by a
strange whirring sound during the morning service. I could think of no
explanation except the weird creaking of the great water wheels in
Hamath, but there were no such waterworks in Philadelphia. I soon became
familiar with the hum of the trolley.

During that first furlough, there was much written in the magazines
about automobiles, and people were wondering whether the auto would
really be practicable, but I did not see a machine. Our first sight of
an auto was in Cairo, in Egypt. We reached America on our second
furlough in 1908, and the first day on shore gave us our first ride in
an auto, which we found rapidly taking a recognized place in American
everyday life. Again the magazines had much to say about the aëroplane,
but we did not see one while in America. My first sight of a human flyer
was at Allahabad, in India. It looks now as if a ride in an aëroplane
might not be a strange experience in our third furlough.

The meeting of earnest Christian workers all over the land, in
conventions and missionary meetings, is a real refreshment physically
and spiritually. So long as the missionary's health is good, he finds it
a joy to speak for the cause and mingle with the workers at home. I
traveled a good many miles to meet appointments on each furlough. I
spoke on many platforms, and the cordial welcome extended and the close
attention paid to the message were an ample reward for whatever there
was of fatigue in the service. Many times I felt humiliated by what
seemed to me the extreme and unmerited deference paid to us, simply
because we were foreign missionaries. So far as Syria is concerned, the
missionary of to-day asks for no sympathy on the score of physical
privations. We are in close touch with European and American
civilization. We can obtain whatever is necessary for physical wellbeing
and comfort. The climate is not excessively enervating and we can have
good homes. There are many things that are trying in the life of a
missionary, but no more so than in the lives of many workers in the
homeland.

The isolation from friends and relatives is often one of the most trying
features of missionary life. When sickness or death enter the family
circle far away, it is not easy to think of the miles of restless ocean
that lie between us and them. The whole unchristian, unsympathetic
atmosphere makes life hard at times, but the compensations are so many
that it makes one ashamed to be held up as a model of self-sacrifice.
The missionary feels, as the earnest worker at home feels, and as Paul
felt years ago, when he said, "The love of Christ constraineth us."

The first home-going was peculiarly happy, for in neither of the two
family circles had there been any break. The only changes had come by
marriage and birth. The circles were expanding, and there was no place
vacated during the period of our absence. The second going was very
different in this respect. Many who had been vigorous were feeble. Many
who had bidden us a bright farewell were not present to welcome us on
our return. Children had become men and women. There were wrinkles on
the faces and gray hair on the heads of those whom we had expected to
find still as young as we were. But, somehow, it began to dawn on us
that we ourselves were no longer counted among the young folks in the
church.

The general recollection of those two furloughs is one of bright smiles
and cheery welcomes, helpful handclasps and a joyous fellowship.



CHAPTER XIII

PERSONAL FRIENDS


It was one of the most delightful phases of our experience in charge of
the boys' school to find how closely the ties of love to the boys bound
them to our hearts, and to realize that with many of them it was no mere
oriental compliment when they called us their father and mother. There
are many of those lads, now growing to manhood, in whose successes we
take a parental pride, and for whose growth in all that is good and true
we pray, with parental earnestness. Among the many preachers and
teachers in all the churches and schools, we count many as most truly
our brethren and fellow workers for the Master. There are very many
Syrians in all parts of America, as well as in this land, of whom we
think in terms of truest brotherhood. It is with no sense of
disparagement to the multitude that I have selected three of the elders
in our churches for special mention. It has seemed to me, as I look back
over their lives, that there are some specially suggestive elements in
the way the Lord has led them and blessed them, which are worthy of
special note. At the same time these experiences have brought all three
into specially close relations with myself personally. I shall mention
them in the order of the commencement of my acquaintance with them.

In 1885, before I entered the mission, I was for a few months in Syria,
merely as a visitor. It happened that the College in Beirut was
short-handed that year, and in need of an additional teacher. Dr. Bliss
asked me to help them out and so I became for two months a member of the
teaching force in the preparatory department. During this time I made
the acquaintance of a lad in the senior class of that department, named
Towfik Sallum. He was a quiet, studious lad, who made no trouble and was
always busy with his books or seeking to increase his English
vocabulary. In the brief time of my remaining in the college, my
acquaintance was slight and the memory of this boy would have passed
from my mind, had there been no subsequent association. When I became a
member of the Tripoli Station and made the acquaintance of the various
workers in the field, I found that this lad was the brother of the
preacher in Hamath. Their father had been the first preacher in that
church, and upon his death the eldest son had succeeded to his father's
position in the church, as well as to the parental responsibility for
the care and training of his younger brothers. Towfik spent some years
in the service of the mission as teacher, in intervals of his college
course. In 1892 he was graduated with honor, and in 1896 took his degree
in medicine also. He settled at once in Hamath, where he was well known
personally, and where his family associations made a valuable
professional asset. The conditions of life in ancient Hamath are
exceedingly primitive and only a small portion of the population have
any intelligent appreciation of the value of modern medicine.
Perseverance and tact won their way and a valuable practice was built
up. With increasing years and widening acquaintance, the doctor became
generally known, universally trusted, and highly respected in government
circles as well as among the people. In case the governor wished a
reliable report on any case of attack or murder, he was sure to send Dr.
Sallum to investigate. He was to be trusted to tell the truth.

When the new constitution was promulgated in 1908, it was provided that
all religious sects were to be entitled to representation in the local
administrative courts in rotation, irrespective of the size of those
bodies. Formerly only the largest of the Christian sects had been
allowed representation. This provision gave the Protestants a right to
civil equality and they put forward Dr. Sallum as their representative.
He was accepted, and served most creditably for the term of two years.
It was then the turn of the Catholic sect to have a representative, and
the heads of the various bodies were summoned by the governor to arrange
for the choice of the new member. The governor explained the situation
and said that as the Protestants had held the office for two years, it
was now the right of the Catholics to choose a representative to succeed
the Protestant member. Then, turning to the Catholic priest, he said,
"If you have a candidate who is more capable than Dr. Sallum or who is
his equal, we shall be glad to welcome him, but if not, I should advise
you to ask him to continue in office, acting now as representative of
the Catholics." The priest replied most cordially that his sect would be
delighted to be represented by Dr. Sallum, if he would consent. In this
way the doctor has become practically a permanent member of the
governor's council, acting alternately for the Protestants and the
Catholics. At the same time the proud member of the large Greek Orthodox
sect has to give place every two years to the member chosen by the
Jacobite church.

In 1892 I was in Homs for the administration of the sacraments. Among
those who came in on Saturday evening was Mr. Rafool Nasser, a young man
who had not been long identified with the Protestant church. He told me
that he wished to have his little girl baptized the next day. He had
been married for several years and this was the first child, so the
occasion was one of more than usual joy. The next morning, before the
service began, I saw Mr. Nasser come in and take a seat quite at the
back of the church, contrary to his usual custom. He seemed depressed
and I wondered what had occurred. When the time came for baptisms he
made no move to come forward and so I proceeded with the children who
were presented. At the close of the service I inquired into the matter,
and learned that Mr. Nasser had informed his wife the evening before
that the little girl was to be baptized the next day. His wife then
informed him that she had already had the child baptized secretly by the
priest. This explained the depression I had noticed in the father's
face. Two years later the parents stood together while I baptized the
second child, and all the others have been presented without question
for the rite of baptism. This was the beginning of my acquaintance with
Mr. Nasser, with whom I have been somewhat intimate in recent years.

He was a man of prominent family in Homs and has been highly prospered
in business, having become one of the most substantial men of the city.
Most of the successful men of Homs owe their prosperity to business
conducted in Egypt. They spend the winters in Egypt, advancing money to
the peasants on their cotton crops and also furnishing them certain
classes of imported goods on credit. It has been a profitable business,
even to those who have not been led away by the temptation of avarice to
impose on the simplicity of the Egyptian peasant. On one occasion I was
talking to Mr. Nasser about the high standards of morality obligatory on
the true Christian merchant. He then told me the following incident in
the simplest manner. As a young man he started with his cousin on a very
small capital. They invested their cash capital in stock for their
little store, purchasing so far as they could on credit. Mr. Nasser
returned to Homs, leaving his cousin in charge of the business in Egypt.
Scarcely had he reached home when word came of the complete destruction
of their store and all its contents by fire. It was a heavy blow for the
young men, and the first impulse was to go through bankruptcy, settle up
as well as they could and give up the enterprise. Friends and creditors
came to their help and volunteered to scale down their claims and
furnish new capital for the two men to start again. They were prospered
from the beginning. After some years Mr. Rafool Nasser decided that he
was unwilling to have the friends who were so kind to him suffer from
the old loss. He wrote to his cousin, saying that he had no wish to
control his partner's action, but asking him to pay off his share of
those old losses carried by their friends after the fire, and charge the
amount against his personal account. The cousin wrote back, "Whatever
you do, I shall do also." In the light of this incident, will anyone say
that commercial honor is confined to the West?

There was a long period of hesitation, after Mr. Nasser was convinced
intellectually of the truth of the evangelical faith, before he joined
the Church. He has explained this to me in the following way: He knew
that if he gave in his adherence to the Protestant doctrine, his
conscience would require him to give far more of his possessions than he
had been accustomed to do in the Greek church. It took a long time to
bring his will to yield. In fact, his head was reached before his purse
was opened. He gave up the conflict at last and then said, in closing
the account of his experience, "I've gotten way beyond that now, for I
have learned the joy of giving." He is not a millionaire, but the Lord
has blessed him with considerable property, and he recognizes his
position as that of steward. He has been the leading spirit in the
enterprises of the Homs church, spoken of in another place.

About the end of the year 1895, I was sitting one evening in my study
when the bell rang, and one of my neighbors, Mr. Yusuf Faris, entered.
He laid on my desk a bundle of Turkish silver dollars, amounting to some
thirty dollars American money. He said he had been looking over his
accounts for the year and found this balance in his tithe account, and
so he wished me to use it for him in a way that he indicated, in the
furtherance of the Lord's business. This was a little matter, but it was
a true index to the man. A few years previous to this he had moved to
the city from a neighboring village. Among his motives for this move was
to avoid being forced into a political position he felt to be
inconsistent with his new position as a Protestant Christian. He decided
to open a dry-goods store in the city, but was unwilling to conduct
business in the ordinary way of the country. He rented a very small shop
and brought his stock of goods from Beirut. He decided upon a fair
profit, and set his price on the goods. People were not accustomed to
this method and so were slow to buy from the new shop. When they found
him unvarying in his prices, they went away to buy elsewhere, getting,
perhaps, an inferior article at a slightly lower price. Mr. Faris had
his full share of determination and was not to be turned back from the
course upon which he had decided. He had an unfailingly pleasant manner
with everyone, and showed no resentment at those who bought elsewhere.
For months the sales in this little shop were not enough to pay the
rent, but there was no change of policy. Gradually people began to
compare more carefully and discovered that in no case were they able to
buy the same quality of goods elsewhere for less than Mr. Faris' first
price. They began to realize that it was a distinct saving of time and
temper to avoid the long haggling over prices to which they had been
accustomed. By degrees they began to buy from Mr. Faris, and it was not
long before some of the country shopkeepers would come to him with a
list of goods and ask to have them put up without even asking the
prices. Business grew, a larger shop was necessary, two shops, three
shops, until at present his goods fill three large storerooms, while a
fourth is necessary for his office and bookkeeping. Two months seldom
pass, and often less than a month, between trips to Beirut for fresh
goods, and he and his three grown sons are kept busy handling the
undertaking.

In every good enterprise, in Tripoli, or in presbytery, Mr. Yusuf Faris
is a leader, with clear advice and generous subscriptions. When the home
mission work of the presbytery was organized, he was one of the leaders,
and has continued to be the main support of the work. When the plans for
the Tripoli Boys' School were under consideration and there was some
danger that lack of money and other considerations might necessitate the
removal of the school from Tripoli, Mr. Faris and his sons came forward
with a generous offer of financial help, during a period of years
aggregating nearly eighteen hundred dollars. This made him the third
largest individual donor and we were glad to place his picture among
those on the wall of the school reception room. In all the intercourse
of these years, while watching the growth and development of character
in this man, there has grown in my own heart a strength of personal
attachment such as I have seldom felt for any other in America or in
Syria.



CHAPTER XIV

TRIPOLI BOYS' SCHOOL


The one enterprise which stands out most conspicuously in our life in
Syria and which has absorbed more of our thought and activity than any
other, is the boarding school for boys in Tripoli. In the earlier years
of our work in Tripoli field, I found an important item to be the
selection of promising candidates from the pupils in the village schools
for further education in one of the mission boarding schools. We were
anxious to encourage the higher education of boys, for in this respect
as in many others, north Syria is more backward than other parts of the
country. Means of communication were poor and it was not an easy thing
for people to send their children to a distance of four or five days'
travel. We used every means at our disposal to persuade reluctant
parents, offering free tuition and sometimes traveling expenses and help
with clothing. By all these means we could gather, from the whole
territory, a dozen, or fifteen, or, at most, twenty boys, whose parents
were willing to send them to school.

[Illustration: TRIPOLI BOYS' SCHOOL _First Home_]

[Illustration: TRIPOLI BOYS' SCHOOL _Second Home_]

But emigration to America gradually opened the eyes of the people to the
commercial advantages of education. Ignorant parents who had gone abroad
began to send back money, with urgent instructions to put their boys in
the American schools. We found the number of applicants increasing and a
new willingness to pay, in part at least, for the education. Instead of
a dozen, we had sixty or more to provide for and the tide was rising.
Conditions were the same elsewhere and it was not easy for the other
schools to receive this larger number from our district. Why, then,
should our boys go so far from home?

The eagerness of some of these lads to gain an education went to our
hearts, and the hardest thing we had to do was to refuse an earnest
pleader for whom we had no place left. One day in Homs a young man came
to me, pleading for a place in Sidon. He was making his own living as an
artisan, and had only a simple education. I wished to test his pluck and
pointed out all the difficulties in the way of one in his circumstances.
He had thought it all out and said he could work at his trade in the
summer vacations and earn enough for his clothing. But it was a five
days' journey to Sidon, and the cost of the journey must be provided for
in some way. There was not a moment's hesitation as he said, "I'll
walk." And he did walk, showing a manly contempt for obstacles in the
way of gaining an education.

This growing demand for an education such as our American schools give,
with the increasing ability of many to pay the cost, seemed a clear call
for action. Our mission had been criticized for putting too much energy
and money into education, so it seemed a chance at the same time to take
a step in advance in the line of self-support. I did not wish to go
before the mission with my proposition until I had it well supported.
For this reason I wrote to Mr. George D. Dayton who has supported us
through all our missionary life, and laid the matter before him, making
two distinct requests. If such a school were to be a success, it must
have its own permanent premises, especially adapted to its use, and I
asked whether he would help us to secure this for the school. It did not
seem wise to wait however for the accomplishment of this purpose to open
the school. I was confident, myself, that the school could be made
self-supporting if the premises were provided, but I wished a guarantee
to lay before the mission, and so asked Mr. Dayton to underwrite the
enterprise to the extent of three hundred dollars a year, in case of a
deficit. He responded promptly, acceding to both requests. I was ready
then to go before the mission. Our proposition called for two things
from the Board, the addition of a missionary to our Tripoli station and
provision of rent for premises in which to open the school temporarily.
Both requests were granted and we were authorized to go ahead, even
before receiving our additional missionary.

Ten years after opening the school, owing to removals and delay for
language study, the whole work of the station, with the addition of the
school, still rests on the shoulders of two men, who live in hope of
having their new associate, promised ten years ago. It has been like the
pursuit of a mirage or the fatuous end of the rainbow. More than once we
have given a sigh of satisfaction and said, "Well, next year, or at
latest, the year after, we shall be able to settle down to normal lines
and really do our work right." An emergency has always arisen somewhere,
our pleasant dreams have faded away, and we have settled down again to
try to carry the extra load; but each time this is done, the weight
seems to press more heavily and a sense of discouragement steals into
the tired heart.

We were ready to begin school in 1903 and had laid in some supplies for
the coming year, when cholera appeared in the land, interfering with all
lines of travel and communication. It was decided to postpone the
opening until the next year and special plans for temporary work were
made for the various teachers. In October 1904 the Tripoli Boys' School
opened its doors, and there was every indication of hearty support. We
had planned to begin on a very small scale with only twenty boarders. We
had rented a house in which the boys were to sleep and study, the
kitchen and dining room being in the basement. Before the day of opening
we had thirty-two insistent applicants and wanted very much to receive
them all. Rooms were rented across the street for study and recitation
purposes, releasing for a dormitory the large room before assigned to
study. This, with extra crowding of the beds, made room, and the whole
number were admitted. The beds were very crude, being merely boards laid
across rude iron supports. Everything was as simple as possible.

We were all inexperienced in school administration and had about as much
to learn as did the boys, but that first year was a year of real
delight. The school was small and the family feeling was encouraged in
every way. Every Sunday evening the boys came to our home for a social
sing, and we learned that the neighbors looked forward to the enjoyment
of the volume of boyish voices that rang out on the evening air. In the
middle of the year it was possible to transfer the school to much more
commodious quarters, where all school and household functions could be
under one roof. The most satisfactory feature, perhaps, was the
financial outcome. When the books were closed, at the end of the year,
there was no deficit to be provided for, and so our highest
anticipations seemed to be justified. This has continued to be the
normal record of the school, the current income providing for the
current expense, excepting the item of rent. The second year we were
able to start in with American desks, and iron beds in the dormitories,
and had an enrollment of sixty pupils.

A detailed history of the school would make this chapter too long, but
its growth and success have meant a great deal to us in our missionary
life. In 1909, when we returned from our second furlough, we had a
sufficient building fund to justify definite plans for the permanent
home of the school. It was not easy to decide on the best location.
Every place suggested had advantages and disadvantages. We could not
visit any locality in the most casual way without very largely
increasing the value of land in the vicinity. We looked at land near
the sea, in the gardens, on each side of the city, but gradually all
minds turned to an olive orchard on the brow of the hill just north of
the city. It might not be possible to purchase it, but we all agreed
that it was the place we wanted, if it could be obtained. Inquiry
revealed the fact that this piece of property belonged to a family of
brothers and sisters who held it as joint heritage from their father.
One of the brothers got the whole into his possession, excepting the
share of one sister, whose claim was something less than one-twelfth.
Her husband was an avaricious fellow who thought he could hold us up for
whatever he might demand. We purchased the remainder of the property,
but could do nothing toward building until our partner's share should be
set off and a legal division made. We proposed every possible division
but nothing was acceptable. We tried the courts and found it almost as
hopeless as Dickens' picture of chancery. Finally an amicable
adjudication and division out of court was arranged by common friends.
We went to the hill with professional measurers and proceeded to lay off
our partner's portion. When he was convinced that we would prefer to
give him at the north end, he promptly announced that he would take the
south part, which was after all much to our advantage. Then the boundary
was laid out very exactly, giving him his full share. After the peg had
been carefully set, his son petulantly moved it a foot or more farther
on our side, evidently intending to irritate us into a refusal of the
division. We consented, however, the division wall was erected, the
legal papers drawn up and our property was secured.

The next step was to obtain a building permit from the government. Every
official is suspicious of every other, and each is watching for a chance
to enter a complaint against the other. From one office we went to
another, with favorable reports from the city engineer, but nothing was
accomplished. There seemed to be no valid objection anywhere, and we
were assured that the permit would be sent back as soon as our petition
reached Constantinople. After long waiting, instead of the permit there
came back another series of inquiries on points already fully explained.
Preliminary work on cisterns, foundations and preparation of stone was
in full progress, but the winter passed and no permit was received. At
last a new governor came to Tripoli who for some reason took a personal
interest in bringing the matter to a conclusion. He sent vigorous
letters and telegrams to Constantinople and in due time the permit was
issued, and at the end of May 1912, work was begun on the building
proper. Every means was used to push work forward as fast as possible,
through the summer and fall, so as to have the roof on before the rains
came. The walls were completed, the roof timbers in place, but where
were the tiles? These had been ordered long in advance, and were known
to be on the way. Just at this unfortunate moment war between Turkey and
Greece was declared and it appeared that our tiles were coming in a
Greek steamer, which could not now approach a Turkish port. The fall
rains came down on our roofless building and it was not until January
that the tiles were received. When they arrived, there was great
rejoicing. The workmen all left their tools to help unload the wagons.
The schoolboys went up on the hill and, forming lines from the ground to
the roof of the building, passed up the tiles from hand to hand with
shouts and songs of joy. No damage had been done the building, since the
rains tended to set the stone walls and cement flooring more perfectly,
but the plastering and carpenter work for the interior were delayed, and
the precious rain water for the cisterns was lost.

After the roof was finished, work progressed rapidly and the utility and
beauty of the building developed every day more and more clearly. When
Easter vacation came everything was ready, and in the absence of the
boys, the school furniture was moved up to the new building so that all
was in good order when vacation was over. The new term opened in the new
home.

On May 21, 1913, the day was given over to the dedication of the new
building, and a happier day than that has not come in the history of the
school. In the forenoon, there were races and athletic sports, with a
football game on the playground behind the building. In the afternoon,
hosts of friends and neighbors inspected the building and grounds, and
at four o'clock the Assembly Hall was crowded with the pupils and their
friends. On the platform sat the governor and president of the
municipality, with the missionaries and teachers. The boys sang heartily
their songs of welcome and a special dedication hymn written for the
occasion from the text, "Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in
vain that build it." Their voices rang out especially as their
handkerchiefs waved in their own school song in honor of T. B. S.

This building is rich in significance, for it is a memorial throughout.
The main fund was raised in honor of my father, and so the building is
to be known as the Henry A. Nelson Memorial. Smaller sums were given as
special memorials to relatives of the givers, and the bell in the tower
was given by parents of a young man, their only son, who was called to
the heavenly home just before his twenty-first birthday. Those parents
have the comfort of feeling that their son's voice is still calling in
the tones of that bell to the lads of Syria, and so still serving the
Master.

Our rejoicing in the new building was great, but not complete. With all
our efforts it was not possible to finish the top story of the building,
and the friends of the school will have plenty of opportunity to help us
improve and increase our facilities in the service of the youth of north
Syria.



CHAPTER XV

MOVING


In 1910 the Syria mission decided upon an advance. The constitution had
been declared in Turkey and everyone hoped that a new era had really
begun for the people of the empire. Whatever might be the political
results, there were clear signs of industrial improvement. The German
railroad was being pushed toward Bagdad. Work was progressing rapidly on
the line from Tripoli to Homs. There could be but little doubt that the
importance of Homs as a commercial center would be greatly enhanced in
the near future. The strong evangelical community had been urgent for
years that a missionary family live in Homs. This was finally decided
upon and the choice of the mission fell on us. There are very few houses
for rent in Homs, and hence it seemed necessary to plan for a
missionary residence as soon as possible. An appropriation was made from
the Kennedy bequest for this purpose, and a piece of land was acquired
from the management of the Syrian Evangelical Boarding School.

[Illustration: HOMS]

[Illustration: HEATHEN TEMPLE AND MOUNT HERMON]

Moving in Syria is a different proposition from what it is in America.
There are no professional packers. The missionary must do his own
packing, if he would avoid excessive breakage. He must keep an eye on
the porters as they put his goods in the wagons. He must oversee the
freight men as they stow away the goods in the cars. At the Homs end of
the line every piece had to be carried to its destination on the back of
a donkey or a mule. It was no easy matter to balance some of the large
boxes on the insecure saddles, but it was all accomplished with time and
patience, with very little injury.

We secured a little house in the city for six months, which could be
occupied while the new house was in process of erection. It was a
curious little place but the owner was very proud of it. There was a
minaret directly across the narrow street, so we had the call to prayer
almost over our heads five times a day. The section of the city was
known as the Grass Market, because it was occupied largely by
greengrocers. We were awakened early every morning by the merchants
calling their wares and all day long could hear cries like this: "Oh,
plums, O generous one, a penny a pound: health and strength come from
God, Oh, plums, Oh, plums." The woodwork and windows of this little
house were so poorly constructed that it was impossible to keep anything
clean. The strong wind, which gathered up straw and dirt, seemed to
discharge its load all day long in the various rooms of that little
house.

In October the new mission house was ready for occupancy and we gladly
made the transfer to this permanent home. The city of Homs is perfectly
flat and quite compact. The streets are narrow and crooked, the houses
low, usually but one story high. The better houses are built of black
volcanic stone and the poorer houses of sun-dried brick. As a rule the
street wall is a dead blank surface, with merely a doorway admitting to
the inclosed courtyard. All this gives the city a dull, depressing
appearance. The old city was surrounded by a wall and a deep moat, and
at the south side, on a high hill, was the ancient castle faced with
black stone. This castle has been a complete ruin for over seventy years
and the city has outgrown its walls and spread across the moat.

The Evangelical School and the American mission house lie to the south
of the castle hill, on a rise of ground among the vineyards. Many houses
are being built near us, but we are still the vanguard to the south.
Directly opposite to us on the north side of the city is the great
mosque of Sayid Khalid, said to have cost sixteen thousand pounds. It
is a beautiful building, but recently completed. Between us and it lies
the old city, with its seventy thousand plain people. At present a vast
majority of the population look to the north rather than to the south,
but it is our strong hope that the more vital strength represented by
Christian education and Christian homes will win the victory over this
great city and the surrounding country, so that all shall be won for
Christ.

[Illustration: HAMIDIYEH MOSQUE _Tripoli_]

[Illustration: OLD CITY GATE _Tripoli_]



CHAPTER XVI

THE MUEZZIN OR THE BELL


As the close of this little record comes near, there appears before me a
contrast or a conflict. Shall Syria continue, as in the past, dominated
by the minaret and all it signifies, or shall the church bell be heard
more clearly and more truly than it has been in the past?

Many years ago, in the city of Homs, the large and influential Orthodox
Greek community wished to put up a bell in their church. This was found
to be wholly impossible because of the unyielding bigotry and hostility
of the Moslem community and the government. Finally the bishop consented
to hang up a slab of hard, thoroughly seasoned wood, and this was struck
with a mallet at the time of worship, to call the people together. After
quite a long interval, when the controversy was largely forgotten, this
wooden slab was quietly exchanged for one of steel, and a clearer sound
was obtained. This created a little disturbance, but was quickly
accepted as an accomplished fact, for it is a common saying in Turkey:
"Whatever is done is permitted. Whatever is requested is forbidden."
After another long interval a large bell was sent from Russia for this
Homs Church of the Forty Martyrs. In view of the relations of Turkey to
Russia, no open opposition could be shown, and the bell was brought with
great demonstrations of joy and put in its place where it rings to call
the people to worship. Following the lead of this strongest of the
Christian communities, all the others have brought bells since, and they
are in regular use. But the near city of Hamath waited some years longer
before hearing its first regular church bell.

Many years ago an old sheik in Tripoli was calling on me. He was
intelligent and friendly and I felt that I could speak with him
somewhat freely. When I said to him that the voice of the muezzin in the
neighboring mosque was not so clear as it might be, he told me the
following incident in his father's life: The French consul in Tripoli
lived near a mosque. The muezzin had a musical voice, and the consul
enjoyed hearing the call to prayer in the summer evenings. For some
reason this man was removed and another put in his place, whose voice
was harsh and unpleasant. A few days later the consul arrayed himself in
official style, and with the attendance of his cavasses in full regalia,
he went to call on the old sheik, the father of my informant. It was not
a feast day nor time for official calls, so his coming in this manner
created some astonishment and a little uneasiness. After the ordinary
salutations had been exchanged, the consul addressed the sheik in formal
manner, to this effect: "I have come to-day, officially to convey to
you my own personal thanks and that of the government I represent for
the great favor you have done me." The sheik was even more astonished at
this opening, and protested that nothing worthy of such recognition had
been done. "Yes," said the consul, "you may not have been aware of the
great kindness done, but it is no less worthy of note. In the mosque
near my house there was a muezzin who gave the daily call to prayer in a
voice that went to the heart of the hearer, and it would not have been
strange if he had won my allegiance to Islam. Now, however, he has been
removed and a man with a harsh, repellant voice put in his place, so
there is no longer any danger that the representative of a Christian
nation should deny his faith and follow Islam. For this reason, I convey
to you officially and personally my most profound thanks." No sooner had
the caller taken his leave than orders were sent to have the
sweet-voiced muezzin restored to his former position in the vicinity of
the consulate. The keen consul had gained what he wanted and what a
direct request might not have accomplished. No offense was given and all
were pleased.

After he had told me this story, I said, "Sheik Ali, there are two
things which I grudge to you Mohammedans; one is the custom of summoning
people to divine worship by the call of the human voice rather than by a
metallic bell; and the other is the exclusive use among yourselves of
the salutation, 'Peace be to you.'" When one Moslem meets another, he
salutes him, "Peace be to you," and the other responds, "And on you be
the peace of God." A Moslem will never intentionally give this
salutation to a Christian. I continued, "That salutation belongs to the
Christians more than to you, for it was the farewell message from our
Master to his disciples, when he said, 'Peace I leave with you; my peace
I give unto you.'"

Which is it to be in Syria? Shall the separation continue, and one large
part of the population heed the call to prayer by the human voice from
the minaret, while another part worship the same God in the churches in
answer to the summons of a bell? This unfortunate state of affairs will
never cease until the heart of the Christian Church is so full of the
love of Christ and his perfect peace that the Moslem population shall
hear through them a louder cry than the voice of the muezzin, calling
them to worship the one living God, and to know him through the perfect
life of his only Son, our Lord. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest."





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