December 11, 1944

December 11, 1944

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

11 months ago today was the last time I saw you, Darling, and every one of those months seem like a year. As I’ve said before, when I walked down the train shed I carried within my breast a stabbing pain and that ache is still there, and is intensified with each days passing. Darling, I will be so very happy when we can be together again. I had so hoped there would be mail for today but there wasn’t any and we have no idea when there will be any either. As I’ve said before, I do have this assurance, there is mail on the way from somewhere from you and that does help a little. 

Today was routine as ever. We called in all the various outposts and while up to the Air Base I had a chance to talk to the Catholic chaplain, and sought to make some plans for Christmas services. As usual, he will have a midnight mass and a mass at 9 o’clock Christmas morning. As I look at things now I think we’ll have our Christmas program on Christmas Eve and maybe one on Christmas morning. I’m not sure but we will see. I am definitely going to have one on Christmas Eve. There are so many problems to be faced that is not easy to plan your services. I cannot explain what I mean now, but someday I will tell you, Dear. While up at the Air Base I talked some things over with another officer.

When we arrived back here at headquarters it was about half an hour before dinner so I took the opportunity to do some more reading from the Old Testament. After having dinner I returned to my quarters and did some reading in the November issue of the Reader’s Digest and also my daily devotional reading.

Later, Captain Wilkinson came by and wanted me to go with him to the native village so I went along. On the way back we stopped by the farm for a few minutes to see the men. We didn’t stay very long but I did talk to Carl for a few minutes. I think I will take your picture down and show it to him tomorrow. He told me he wants to see it before I leave the island. 

We got back here just in time for me to leave for the Infantry area. I had planned on having supper with the men up there because one of the men wanted to see me about some things. After helping the soldier, some of us played badminton. I arrived back here about dark. I asked what the name of the movie was and decided it didn’t sound so good and besides,  there wasn’t any news reel.  I came over to my quarters and wrote three letters before I started this one to you. I wrote to Emma Laymon, The Reids and the Sparks family at Lexington, Illinois. 

That is about all the news for today Darling, except that I do love you more tonight than ever I have before. I certainly love my Christmas present. It seems at times you are so very very near, although I know you are thousands and thousands of miles away. I surely wish Mom and the Chief would hurry with their picture for the other side of the frame. It looks so empty without the picture that is intended for it. 

I’m sorry this is such a newsless letter but that is about all I can say now except I love you more than ever and I pray God’s richest blessings upon you and all your work. Give our loved ones my love.

I am forever yours and only

Yours forever in Christ’s Love, 

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. The PX had these special cards printed for Christmas, I thought you might like to have a copy. Also find a cartoon – some pictures and negatives.

December 10, 1944

December 10, 1944

My Beloved Darling Sarah:

It is the same story as yesterday, a lot of planes but no mail. We will have to just keep on hoping there will be some tomorrow or the next day or the next. As I have said before, I live from day to day for your letters. It is so good to know there are some on the way somewhere from you. Every now and then I go back and read some of your older letters over.

Services were fairly well attended today, in fact, we had the best attendance I have ever had since being on the island at the Air Base Chapel. The attendance at the Infantry Chapel dropped some today. I used this my text, Jonah 1:1-15, that part of the third verse which says, “and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fair thereof.” Men are paying a tremendous price to run away from God. My whole theme throughout was, “anywhere without God is nowhere.” And that is just where we are unless we believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jonah repented and made amends and that is what we must do today if we are to know the fullness of the joy in Christ Jesus. I concluded the message with an appeal to the men to confess Christ and make amends for their sin and wrong deeds. 

Willis Preaching at the funeral of a soldier. Christmas Island 1944.

As soon as our dinner was over, I came back to my quarters and took the opportunity to get a little rest. I slept for almost an hour. Then I got up and did some reading. I wrote a letter to Daunt and Mil and another to John and Helen Mueller. Just as I was finishing the letter to them, Captain Wilkinson came by in his jeep and wanted me to take a ride with him. So we rode up to the Air Base and visited with Captain Austin for awhile. Eventually we left for it was nearing suppertime. Immediately following supper, Raymond and I left the Air Base and our evening vesper service. There were eight in attendance and we did have a good time, making a few plans for our Christmas Eve service. We also had a good discussion on the problem of reaching others for Christ. I am seeking to find out as much as possible what the men are thinking about the church, so we will be able to have a real program in our next church. I mean by program, teaching and edifying them with the things that are vital to real Christianity. 

We arrived back here just about the time they started to show the movies. I watched the news and left for the movie didn’t interest me. After coming back to my quarters I decided to write a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Allen before I wrote this letter to you. I also thanked Mickey for the nice box of candy she sent me. Outside of that, everything has been routine today and warm as per usual. I tried to imagine what the weather must be like back in Chicago now. It is very very calm and still here this evening, the only thing you can hear is the mighty roar of the breakers on the reef and a bird once in a while. 

Darling, I am going to close for tonight and I surely hope we will have some mail tomorrow, for I am really getting lonesome to hear from you again. God bless you Dearest in all things. Give the folks my love.

Always and Forever yours because of our 

Oneness in the Love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. By the way, I’m going to enclose Mrs. Allen’s letter and the letter from John and Helen because I think they will give you a pretty good idea of the State Convention.

December 9, 1944

December 9, 1944

My Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

It is the same story as yesterday, no mail and we will just have to hope that some comes in for us tomorrow. It is rather discouraging when a lot of planes are coming through and they fail to bring us mail. It isn’t quite so bad when planes do not come in, for then naturally you know that there will be not be any mail. However, I am happy to know there are letters on the way. It is encouraging to know that and it does help take the sting out of this time of our separation. As I have said before, I will be glad when the time comes that we will not have to depend on the arrival of mail to know what we have been doing. It will be so good to do things together. 

This morning Raymond and I visited the various areas to see what we could do for the men. In two of the areas I visited with some of the officers, and I also dropped by to see one of the men about a problem he is facing. I also informed all areas about the Catholic chaplain masses this morning. I’m seeking to do my best to keep them informed about the services.  It doesn’t take much of an excuse for some men not to attend the services provided. About the last thing that is thought of on this island is the Lord, when I say that I mean the average soldier. But we do have some men who are honest Christians, but their numbers are so very very few.

We arrived back here at headquarters just before dinner and I came right back to my quarters after eating. I read for a while and then washed out some clothes and socks. And then just before supper I took my regular brackish shower. I guess they clean somewhat, but for some reason or other you never feel nice and fresh like you do after having a freshwater shower. It will be a real treat to have a good warm freshwater bath again. 

As soon as I finished this evening’s meal, I went over to the hospital to visit a man who Captain Wilkinson operated on this morning. I watched the operation for a while but eventually left because I had several things to do as mentioned above. The patient was getting along quite well. After visiting with him for a few minutes I decided to do something I haven’t done for a while, and that was take a walk down to the beach alone.  Captain Wilkinson wanted me to take a ride with him, but I told him I wanted to be alone for a while. I stay down at the beach until dark then I strolled back here. We really had a very beautiful sunset here this evening. While down at the beach I sang and thought mostly about you, Dear. I looked off in your direction and prayed for you. I think this is indicative of what you mean to me when I think that all of the real joys and worthwhile things in my life have happened since first we met. I wish there were some wonderful way for me to make you realize somehow or other just what you mean to me in every way. Everything about you is a blessing and a challenge to my life. It seems there is never a time when I didn’t know you. And more than ever I realize that our oneness and marriage were decided in heaven by our accepting of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. 

By the way, early this morning I wrote a letter to the Riley’s in Boston and wrote to obtain some help for a certain soldier through the Red Cross. I hope they will do something for his wife and child.

Wayne Soliday and Willis at the Rileys house. 1943.

Sweetheart, I’m wondering if you would send me the words and music for that wonderful chorus, “Overshadowed”. Perhaps you will be not be able to find it somewhere, I will not be able to teach it to these men here because I will be gone by the time it reaches me, but I would like to have it for the next group of men I am with.

I have been trying to imagine what kind of weather you were having back there. While down at the beach I tried to imagine myself walking from the corner of Elmdale down to the spot which is so dear to my heart, 1522. It is precious and dear because you are there. Wherever you should happen to be, that spot will be dear to me. As I told you one other time in a letter, any place in this world will be home as long as you are with me, Dear. As long as I am separated from you, I will be away from home. And to truly be home I must be with you in eternity. It means so very much to know that we are each other’s forever, no matter what may happen.  I told you many times how I felt when I was with you, and now that I have traveled more and seen many more people, I am more convinced than ever that I will never want to love another. Each day I become more and more aware of what a blessed privilege is mine in being your husband. Paul, the apostle said, there is no other name given under heaven whereby man must be saved, than that of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is just the way I feel about you. There is no other person or name I ever want to have for a wife. I’m so thankful we have promised ourselves first to Christ and then to each other for all eternity. And then when we think of the beauty of our life verse, you cannot distinguish between being in Christ and being each other’s. Personally, I feel they are one and the same thing. I love you so very much, Darling. 

Just six years ago this morning my mother passed away. I was almost 21 years old when she died, but strange as it may seem, I hardly knew her. There was never that closeness that a son should normally have for his mother. It is still something I cannot fully understand, I only know that out of it all I was led to the wonderful salvation we have in Christ and to you Darling. My mother was kind hearted, a good worker and everything thoughtful, but for some reason I cannot yet understand my father and her could not get along. Darling, I only wish she could have known you. But our Lord had some reason for taking her home. Isn’t it good to know that some day we will understand? There are two things that are definitely settled in my life forever, one is that Christ is my Savior and I am yours forever and you are mine. What our home needed was Christ and when my father is there this Christmas time I hope he will be able to see what Christ has done for you, Dear. As you already know, one of the greatest burdens I carry in my heart is for my father to fully accept and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so thankful to God for you because I know your life will be a real testimony to him what Christ does for those who trust Him completely. 

Lover, it is very late and I am tired so I will close for tonight. God bless you in all things and give my love to all of our friends.

Yours for the ages of the ages in our 

One Love which makes us forever one,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

December 8, 1944

December 8, 1944

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

Another day has slipped by and there wasn’t any mail for us, I’m not complaining because our mail service has been a little better here lately, but I am always hoping for the arrival of your sweet letters which keep me informed of what you have been doing. I’ll be so very grateful to our Lord when I won’t have to wait for the letters to find out what you have been doing. Thank God, if it be His will we will be doing things together.  I can think of nothing that will be more like heaven on earth than the privilege of being with you and working with you in the work which is OURS forever in Christ. Well, today you have completed your second week of the second quarter. Dear, the time which separates us can slip by none too soon to suit me. 

I did something this morning that I never remember doing since I have been on this island, and that was this; I stayed in my quarters all morning and read. Last evening a lot of newspapers came from various cities to the Red Cross. Among them there were a bunch of Chicago Tribunes. So I took some of them out and looked at them. It was kind of good to see the paper again. It surely made me think of all the things I have done since being in Chicago. I could not help but think that the paper was printed in the city where the dearest person in the world and eternity is to me. Most of them were almost 2 months old, but it was good to see them just the same. After looking at them, I read some other things before dinner. About 45 minutes before dinner, Captain Wilkinson and Mr. Watts came in and visited with me until time for dinner. 

Chicago Tribune 1944.

After dinner I did some more reading and studying. Raymond visited with me for a while. We tied the papers up into bundles for the various areas and he delivered them to the men. I reviewed and prepared for the lecture I gave to all the men on the history of our island. After supper I gave the lecture. It lasted approximately 40 minutes. It is surprising some men have been here for quite some time and know almost nothing concerning the bird life, fish or plant life. 

Another man stopped me right after the lecture because he had a problem which he wanted to see me about. I’m going to see what I will be able to do through the Red Cross for the man. His wife and baby are not at all well. Someday I will tell you about it, Dear. 

It was just time for the movie when we arrived back here at headquarters, so I thought I would drop in and see what it was about, but I didn’t stay long because it didn’t seem to amount to very much. Besides, I would rather do some good reading. From all indications my new assignment will give me very little time for reading and I wanted to be well supplied spiritually and mentally, for we may go some time without such an opportunity as this to study. I read my devotional reading this afternoon but after coming back from the movie I read a lot of the readings over in Abundant Living. I think that is a mighty fine book. Personally, I find it challenging. Do you Dear?

Well Beloved, there is very little news so I think I will close now and read some more before retiring. God bless you Dear in all things. Give the folks my love.

Always and Forever yours in the love of 

Christ who makes us one,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Enclosed you’ll find seven pictures, Captain Wilkinson took these and developed them himself.

December 7, 1944

December 7, 1944

Sarah, My Beloved Darling:

I had hoped that there would be mail for us today but there was not, so I will just have to hope for some tomorrow. I truly look forward to the arrival of your letters, they mean more to me than any other thing. The greatest thing of course would be the joy of being with you but that is impossible now. I will certainly be glad when we can be together again. This business of being apart grows more difficult with the passing of every day. Sometimes you wonder what this thing is all about.  I can easily see how the men become discouraged, especially is that true among the men who have any moral convictions whatsoever. Profanity, backbiting and double dealing on every hand is enough to make you wonder sometimes how the Lord can bless us as a nation or an Army at all. I wish we could have a good talk together as we used to, Dear.

There have been a lot of things to do today, but it seems very little has been accomplished. It was rather warm this afternoon. I suppose it was just the opposite back in Chicago. In that they were still working on my jeep this morning, Captain Wilkinson took me to the Air Base to see the Catholic chaplain. We made final arrangements for the mass tomorrow morning, and the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon Captain Wilkinson drove me to the various areas so I could notify the Catholic men about the services for tomorrow.  As I told you last night, tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation for all Catholic men. It is what’s known as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. They have six days (Holy) of obligation and this is one of them.

December 7, 1944

We returned here this evening just in time for me to take a shower before supper. After supper I came back to my room and did a lot of reading. I especially liked My Utmost and Abundant Living for today. I think they were very good, don’t you Dear?

I had planned on starting this letter earlier but an interruption came up that I will tell you about some day. It is now rather late and I’m tired so I think I will cut this letter a little short and try to get a little sleep before morning. Remember Darling, I love you more than ever, but I must get some rest for tomorrow. It is nice and cool so I think I ought to be able to sleep quite well, especially since I am so tired. Sweetheart, I have just looked at your picture again.  It is so very very nice. The last thing I always do before going to bed and having my evening prayer is look at your picture and thank the Lord for you and your wonderful love. By the way, I have not mentioned it before, but I think your suit looks lovely. I only hope I’ll be able to see it on you in person. God bless you Dear and give the folks my love. 

Always and Forever yours in the 

Love of Christ Jesus,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

December 6, 1944

December 6, 1944

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

I’ve been busy all day but it seems I have accomplished very little. As always, I thought of you many times and thank the Lord for the wonderful salvation which is ours and the joy and happiness we have found each other’s love. As for me, it far surpasses anything I ever dreamed or hoped for, isn’t our Lord gracious to us? I know I am not worthy of love and a wonderful life like yours, but in spite of all that, I have you my Dear. Sometimes it is hard for me to realize that it is true. Darling, this one thing I pray for earnestly, that daily I will grow in Christ that I may in a sense be worthy of your wonderful love and devotion. I find it so hard to express that which is in my heart on paper. I have said some of these things so many many times. But beloved, I want you to know I will never want to love another. I was just thinking of what the grand old hymn, “I am satisfied.” I would change it just this much, “I am satisfied with you Dear”. Perhaps there are things in my life you are not able to be satisfied with, but with your patience and help, as well as that of our Lord, I will do my utmost to overcome them and thus be a better husband to you and a better servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It was rather hard to do the things I wanted to do today because my jeep is in the hospital for a little necessary work. However, Captain Wilkinson came to the rescue and helped us, for which I was most grateful. A man came in to talk to me about a home problem. Another one of those which makes me more grateful than ever for a good Christian wife. However, I think this fellow hasn’t been exactly fair either and I told him so after talking with him for quite some time. I asked him a lot of questions. I would give most anything to talk to you about these things. Darling, there are things in my heart that almost overwhelm you at times. When I come back we will have so many many things to talk about. You were always so good and I found great comfort in good advice from talking things over together. Do you remember how we promised each other in the front room while sitting on the Davenport, that we would always tell each other everything, no matter what it might be? I always intend to do that, but under existing circumstances it is impossible to do so now, but there is nothing that will keep us up from doing it when I return. I may not remember everything at once, but they will all eventually be recalled. Isn’t it good to be able to tell one another everything? That is one of the things I miss the most at the present time.

We went up to the Air Base for a few minutes and then Captain Wilkinson and I went down to the native village. We saw the natives for a few minutes. They were telling me that they felt very badly because I’m going to leave. Wait until you see some of the things they gave me. They about swamped me with presents. Darling, I cannot understand why they are so very good to me. When you get this box I sent, you will see what they gave me.  I know you’ll be surprised as I was with all the gifts they had for me. We returned to headquarters just in time to have our dinner which was about the same as usual. I realize it isn’t the best, but I do wish the men would quit complaining and thank the Lord for what food we do have.

Willis’ driver Johnson and the chief of the natives, Mofete. 1944.

As soon as dinner was over I came to my quarters and started to prepare another box to start on its way home to you, Dear. I certainly hope it arrives safely. And I hope it doesn’t take too much time to reach you. I’m going to give you some idea of what is in the box. There are two tiger shell bracelets in the envelope, these are a special farewell gift from Mofete to you, in appreciation of all I was able to do for him. In that same envelope, you will find two envelopes folded up, in one you will find the famous Fijian Cat’s Eyes, there are two of them, one for you and one for Mom. In that same envelope you will find two small Christmas Island Cat’s Eyes. The Fijian Cat’s Eyes are often set in rings, pins, necklaces and so on. There are three small outriggers, one I marked for Dr. Koller, one is a special gift from Maulo as an appreciation for taking care of his son’s funeral. The other, which is not marked, you can do with what you like. You will find in the box three separate rolls of necklaces. One is for Mrs. Koller, Carolyn and Evelyn. I wish you would give this to them personally from us in appreciation for all their kindness to me while a student at Northern. Some afternoon you will probably have a little time and can drop over to their apartment. Tell Carolyn and Evelyn the necklaces are from “Uncle Willy,” that is what they always called me when I was a student. Kollers were always very good to me. And when you have a chance you can give the outrigger I marked for Dr. Koller to him with our thanks and appreciation for their many kindnesses.

Another roll of necklaces are special gifts from various natives to you. They asked me to send them to you especially. I showed them the picture you sent me for Christmas and they liked it very much. They told me to send them to you with their blessings and the Lord’s. And Mofete said he hoped the Lord will be able to use you greatly and that we soon will be together. These men are certainly a graphic example of what Christ can do with those who will trust and obey. The large package contains 12 necklaces which they gave me as a going away present. You do with these what you think best. You may be able to use them as a gift to the girl in BYF who is best over a period of two months. It is entirely up to you, Dear. There may be other friends you would like to give them to, you do what you like and it will be entirely all right with me. After all, it is not “me” or “my”, it is “us” and “our.” Isn’t it good to trust one another unreservedly?

There is a cigar box of spotted shells that can be used to make turtles. There is also a little pink box of white shells. And there is a special sack for “The Chief, with my love.” By the way, I wasn’t able to clean those shells as thoroughly as I normally do, so tell him as soon as they arrive to take them and wash them twice in water, letting them soak for about an hour each time. And let the sun dry them on the back porch for a couple of days. You will find four short trousers and four shirts with short sleeves. There are also four overseas caps that became too small after washhing. (I thought maybe you could use them for something sometime.) You will also find two sun helmets. From all indications, I will not need them where I’m going, so I thought it best to send them on to you. You will find an envelope (manila) with a lot of pictures in it. Most of them I have clipped from various magazines. I thought you would like them so I mailed them all to you, perhaps you will be able to use them someday. The one I have clipped together and have the note on, “I love these”, I’m sure you will understand why I do love them. I don’t mind saying it is because I hope someday we will be able to have our own children. And as for me, that day can come soon. You will be such a good mother, I am so thankful you love children, Dear.

There is a billfold and other various items. Those three canvas straps I found in the junk pile. I think they will come in handy someday, that is why am sending them home. I will be anxious to know if this box reaches you safely, for there are a lot of important things in it.

I also mailed home all of your letters which I have received up until the first of the November. I wrapped them separately, because they had to go as first class mail. Those letters are very very precious to me Dear so please save them for me. The only reason I am sending them home at all is because I have to cut my traveling load to a minimum. As soon as these things arrive, be sure to let me know. The letters ought to arrive quite some time before the box. I am anxious for you to get the box because I think you will enjoy the things that are in it.

Before we had the box ready to mail, a soldier came to see me. I talked to him about a half an hour and then Captain Wilkinson took me to the post office. While up that way, I met the new Catholic chaplain who is going to take my place. He arrived last night but I’m going to stay here until Christmas Day for Christmas Eve services. And if there is a plane Christmas Day or the day after I will leave for my new assignment. I will tell you about it later.

I read your letter of November 25th over again and found it helped even though I have read it several times before. I was glad to know that at last you got the finished pictures of the negatives I sent to you. That one picture where I look so bad, why don’t you throw it away? You were wondering if I had a metal watch band. Yes I do, you perspire so much down here that a leather band doesn’t last at all. So I got ahold of a piece of stainless steel and made me a band. You mentioned the National Geographic in your letter. Did you subscribe to it again for this coming year? I am certainly happy to know that Jeanne enjoyed herself so much at WMBI. I think she is a wonderful girl and I believe she could become a fine servant of the Lord. I like her letters very very much. She may be used to draw and win the whole family. I know Jeanne thinks a lot of you, Dear.

After supper we went to the AirBbase for our midweek service. There were only seven in attendance, but we did have a fine time of fellowship. Raymond and I came back in time for the news reel. I stayed for the news and left. The main feature started off with a cocktail lounge setting, so I left. I become so sick of the glorification of that bottled poison.

Darling, it is very late and I’m tired so I will close for this evening. God bless you and remember I love you more each and every day. Your picture is lovely, sometimes it looks just like you are about to say something to me.

Yours alone forever in Christ’s Love,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

December 5, 1944

December 5, 1944

My Beloved Darling Sarah:

This has been another one of those busy days, and I am thankful for it makes the time fly by faster, and as you know, the time for us to be together again can come none too soon to suit me. As always, I thanked the Lord many times for you and your wonderful love and devotion.

Early this morning I wrote a letter to the Chief of Chaplains out here about something he wanted to know. Just about the time Raymond and I were going to leave here for the various outposts, an officer called me from the Air Base and wanted to know if he could send a certain soldier down here who had a problem. He arrived about a half an hour later and I talked to him for almost an hour. It is trouble at home, a wife, four-month-old baby and parties, dates with other men and so on. I’m sure I need not go into detail. Each one of these cases makes me more grateful than ever for what a wonderful blessed Christian wife you are to me, as I have often said, I trust you unreservedly in all things. It means more than you know that I am sure you are faithful and true and above all living for Christ and each other, even though we are separated by thousands of miles. 

We left for the Air Base and I did some more investigating on the case. And I had the opportunity to talk to him about another half hour while up there. The man is so upset that he is sick. I’m going to write a letter to his wife as I have on many other occasions when we are faced with such a problem.

After returning to my quarters at around 2:30, Raymond and I nailed up the box of books and got them ready for shipment to you. I am going to enclose a list of the contents so you will know what is in the box. As you look through things, I think you’ll find several things of interest and I know when you have the time you will probably read them. After that I read some in two late pony editions of the Newsweek and Times that came in.  I always try to keep as well informed as possible so I can hold a fairly intelligent conversation. There were several things of interest to me, a few of them have enough importance I thought to warrant sending them on to you. I noted especially the conclusions of the Catholic Hierarchy meeting and their statements, personally I think some of them are very good. What do you think, Darling?  Another article of interest to me was the one concerning the postwar era of prosperity. And I enclosed the one about crime to give to you some idea of the results of our wonderful bottled spirits. It also gave a graphic example of what people will do. All of these things to me indicate graphically our desperate need of a Christ infilling revival from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Canadian border to the Rio Grande. 

I read your letter of the 23rd over again and I enjoyed it very much. From what you told me in that letter, you must’ve had a great time out at Valpo. Having been there on several other occasions, I can imagine what a wonderful time you must have had. Undoubtedly the children keep things moving for all of you.

You told me about the snow, that certainly sounded strange. It was really very warm here on Thanksgiving Day. Your description of the way the snow clung to the trees was indeed beautiful. Perhaps if God so wills I will be able to see snow again. It is very still here tonight and as a result it is very warm.

I’m sure that Mabel and Jeanne had a grand time with you on their stay in Chicago. You really made a short visit to the Dunes. I will be so happy to go out there again. Darling, I often think of the lovely times we had there together. If it is summertime when I return, perhaps we will be able to go up there and spend a week together. All I want to do when I get back is be with you for a while. I will naturally want to see the folks, but I would just as soon get away from people for a while and be with you.  Sweetheart, as I have said so many times before, being away from you I know there is something lacking and that lack can only be supplied by being in your presence. I assure you, no one else can ever take your place, and as for me, I will never love another; that place in my heart is yours now and for all eternity. It means so very much to love and be loved that way. It is a great assurance and help to me in this time of our separation. 

I think that is very nice of you to knit a little hat for Lee and Gen. I’m sure they will like them very much. Sweetheart, you are always doing such kind and lovable things. The attendance at the Thanksgiving sunrise service was truly disappointing to me. I thought surely there would be more in attendance than that. I think that is a graphic example of the real energy and spirit filled courage there is in our Christianity of this day. If I remember correctly, I think I have never had the privilege of hearing Dr. Winters speak. He spoke in the chapel at Northern one time but I did not hear him for some reason or other. I have heard that he has liberal tendencies, but of course I don’t know because I cannot vouch for what I have heard spoken.

Well Darling, it is rather late and I’m tired so I think I will close for tonight and will be praising and thanking God further for you and your love. Give the folks my deepest love.

Yours forever and the perfecting and

Purifying love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Sweetheart, all letters you write me after December 17th hold and mail them when I notify you of my new address. Otherwise it will take them quite a while to reach me. I know it wouldn’t be much fun to write letters and not mail them but I think that is best, as this way they will reach me sooner because they will not have to come down here and be readdressed. God bless you my Dear in all things.

December 4, 1944

December 4, 1944

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

We had a very pleasant surprise this evening and that was the arrival of mail. I had three more of your letters, they were for November 22nd, 23rd and 25th. I am still missing a letter for November 20th, and as you will note, I am now also missing your letter from November 24th. I am always very grateful for the arrival of your letters but I would rather receive them in order because you often refer to something that has happened before and it is rather hard to know what is meant, and then I also know you are going to do certain things and I am interested in them also. I suppose the missing letters will arrive sometime later, at least I hope so. Darling, your letters were a blessing to my heart and how happy I was to read them. I have read them twice already and will probably read them many more times before some more letters come from you.

Besides the letters I received from you, I heard from the following people: Elizabeth Riley, Marguerite Simonian (the fine Christian girl from Tremont Temple), Doug Powell, two letters from the Red Cross concerning problems and two letters from the Chief of Chaplains for the Central Pacific. The letter from Betty Riley was very nice and the necklaces had just arrived that I sent to them and they seemed to enjoy them very much. She said so many people asked her if she would ask me to try and get a necklace for them. I never realized that people would like them so much, but I guess they are different. Marguerite was telling me about their work in the Service Men’s Center at Tremont Temple, it truly sounds interesting and she is one of the hostesses and a wonderful Christian. From what she told me, they may have the opportunity to lead a good many young people to Christ, that is, I mean men who are in the Armed Forces.

Doug Paul’s letter was not so very long but it was good to hear from him and know that all things are going along well with him. He is in the Alaskan theater of operations with the Navy. He is with the communications. He said he was very glad to have my letter and hoped I would write to him again. As much as I have to do, I will try to find enough time to write to him. Perhaps it will help him, for I have been in the service long enough to know that his temptations are manifold.

 Orville Wilson had today off so Raymond and I made arrangements to drive him around to the various places so he would get a chance to see what the island is like. We had to deliver the Red Cross papers which came in last Friday, so that way we killed two birds with one stone. Orville’s barracks Buddy was off today so we took him along with us. He had been on the island 10 months and had not seen much area outside of the Air Base. Orville showed me his wife’s picture and their baby is really a fine looking baby. I don’t blame them for being so proud of him. Of course, when I brought them down to my quarters I showed them your latest picture and they thought it was very good. I also showed them the picture you took while at Lake Geneva and especially those with Maurice and Edith. He is very quiet sort of fellow, but he did seem to enjoy himself for he thanked me several times for showing him around the island. We had dinner at the farm and it gave me an opportunity to introduce them to the men down there. Carl walked around with us as I showed them the various things of interest. Have you seen Violet, Carl’s wife lately? 

Willis’ friend on the island. 1944.

After we were through with dinner I had to come back because I had several things to do. I had just arrived at my place when I was informed that a certain officer at the Air Base wanted to see me. I called him and found that he wanted me to sign a paper so a certain soldier could get an emergency furlough. I hurried up there and signed the paper right away. While we were up there, we left Orville and his friend at their barracks. When you see Edith you can tell her for me that I think she has a fine brother. I have heard several of the men make remarks about him and all of them are nothing but the best. I only wish we could’ve known one another longer. Right now I am really on the spot, as soon as I know more things I will definitely let you know. I have orders now, but don’t worry, I will give you writing instructions as soon as I can. I’m not sure but I may stay here until my Christmas services are over and then leave. At any rate, I’ll keep you informed from day to day and will advise you how to address my mail. Remember, I will tell you what I can and will only tell you that which I deem wise. I know you will understand, won’t you, Dear? 

About 3 o’clock I returned to my quarters and washed out some socks and cleaned what shells I have been able to find for the Chief. I hope I’ll be able to get some more for him before I leave here. Anyhow, I will do my best for him. 

So Dr. Stiansen pulled a fast one on you in the history exam? Well Sweetheart, knowing you as I do, I’m not worrying in the least about your final grade. I have a feeling that it will be right up there at the top. I was surprised to hear that you have to take another course in evangelism by correspondence, you can do it I know. I think you are just about as well off for you know what kind of teacher Dr. Whitesell is. By the way, I got a quite a laugh out of the way you described Dr. Fouts when you registered. In spite of all his different ways, I have learned to think a lot of him and I enjoy his friendship. For some reason or other he was always very nice to me.

Darling, don’t worry about your thesis. I feel confident that you will be able to get it out of the way this next quarter. And as I have always said, you will come through with flying colors. I assure you that I will pray for you as you work on it this quarter and I believe sincerely you will get it out of the way. And if you do, you’ll be able to enjoy the last quarter of school so much more if you don’t have the thesis to worry about. All I ask is please don’t tax your strength to the breaking point. Because after all, your health is more important than a degree. Perhaps you will be able to get a good start during your Christmas vacation. 

So Mac is already in the chaplaincy. I was surprised to learn that Eleanor and the baby are going to live in the same house. Yes, I do remember Helen LeFevre. As you say, she is a mighty fine girl. So Freeman Schmitt is going to take care of the church.  He is a mighty fine fellow.

I was very much surprised to hear that Brushwyler has become the Secretary Treasurer of the new Mission Board. You know that is one of the biggest mixups in my mind. I don’t know what to think. As you know, I believe in standing by the faith, but it does seem to me that this is no time to be pulling apart. I wish I could find out something concrete on the whole affair. Personally, I think more of Christ is needed in all of these denominational problems. Sometimes it seems to me that we become so involved in our petty differences and problems that we never get to Christ. Actually, one of the great obstacles in leading men to Christ I have found is this one, how come there are so many Protestant denominations and how come there are so many brands or groups within some of the larger groups? It is something to think about. I believe sincerely if all of us, and I mean all denominations, would spend more time on their likenesses and less on their differences, we would be able to do more in reaching man. Jesus, I note from studying the New Testament, didn’t devote His time to teaching, “now these are the differences in my teaching and the old law.” He presented His message and then let the spirit convict a man of their need of salvation. We need Christ as denominations. One of the greatest attributes of a leader is the fact that he must have a sympathetic understanding. Our heart cry as the Baptist denomination ought to be the words Paul uttered in Philippians 3:9-10. What do you think, my Dear?

I am certainly glad to hear that so many came forward and took their stand for Christ at the church in East Moline. I only hope they will be able to reach many more. Thank you for sending the cartoons, they were very good and I did enjoy looking at them. I’m not as bald as that minister was in the picture, that is as yet.

Dear, I find that my Greek is really slipping away from me, perhaps if you like when we are together again we can study it together and that will help both of us. I’m not such a good teacher, especially in that field, but it would be fun to study with you. Today I fixed up a box of books I am going to mail on to you. There are several I have purchased since being overseas, I will mail you a list of those I send so you will know what they are. Two of them which are very interesting are the Genealogy of Sex and the Psychology of Sex. Which makes me think, I’m going to enclose in this letter a page out of the A.M.A. Magazine about two books which will be of interest to us, that is if the Lord wills us to have our own family. I’m going to mail this to you for keeping. I only hope it won’t be too much longer before we can be together and working side by side in the work we love so much, Dear. I am most grateful to God for such a wonderful wife as you are to me. I would be very happy if I could make you just as happy and thankful to the Lord as I am for you, Darling.

It has grown very late so I will have to close for tonight. God bless you in all things and may the beauty of Christ Jesus comfort and bless you in all things. We do have a wonderful Savior, don’t we Dear?

Yours forever in the Love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

P.S. Betty Riley sent me a clipping. I sent it on to you.

December 3, 1944

December 3, 1944

Dearest Darling Sweetheart:

Well, another Lord’s day has rolled into eternity and it is one less that we will have to be apart and how thankful I am for that. I will be so happy when we can be together on every day, this business of being separated is not too good, there are times when my heart actually aches. I never knew it would hurt so to love a person like I love you, Dear. I am ever thanking the Lord for that hurt, because it really makes me aware of how much I really do love you.

Today was communion Sunday, our attendance was better than last Sunday, but not good by any means of the imagination. Down here I find the men who are really interested at all are the men who are interested before they came into the Army. I spoke on, “We Believe or Do We?” I used as my text Psalm 119:33-48. My theme was based on the fact that daily living is the test of belief in Christ.

After dinner I did some reading, by the way, I had dinner at the Infantry this noon. Later in the afternoon, I went to the Air Base to see about the emergency furlough for the soldier I mentioned in yesterday’s letter. When I came back to my quarters, I had enough time to write a letter, so I took advantage of it and wrote a letter to Charlie Mosher.

Willis with the plane Seventh Heaven at the airfield. 1944.

After supper Raymond and I went to the Air Base Chapel for Vespers. We had 11 in attendance. And we did have a good time. Orville Wilson, Edith’s brother was in services this morning and this evening also. We had a good talk with each other.

I came back to my quarters around 8 o’clock and wrote a letter to Paul and Gen and one to the Scheus. My, I wish you could have seen the sunset tonight. It was one of the most glorious and various colored sunsets it has ever been my privilege to witness. I know you would have loved it, Darling. I could not help but think of you when I saw it.

Today I took the opportunity to show your picture to many of the men in services, that is, the old faithful ones. I have mentioned you on many occasions and what a blessed privilege is mine in being your husband. Sweetheart, I wish there were some wonderful way to let you know fully how much I love you. Your picture is so very very good and I look at it often, but what I am anxiously waiting for is the privilege to love and hold the original in my hungry arms again. You are such a blessed good wife, thank you Dear.

It isn’t as late as usual but I am very tired for some reason or other so I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity and go to bed. God bless you my beloved in all things. Give my love to the folks.

I will forever be just yours in the

Love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3

Ruth 1:16-17

P.S. Enclosed are three more pictures and negatives.

December 2, 1944

December 2, 1944

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

I have thought of you so many many times today and I find I love you so much more than ever. My Dear, it is such a comforting and joyous feeling to be sure we are each other’s forever in Christ, no matter what the future may hold. As I think back over our wonderful days of courtship and our few months together in the most glorious of all earthly relationships, (that of husband and wife being united not by the laws of the state, but by the Kingdom of God, as we know it in Christ). As I have said before, I carry with me in my breast a constant ache and burden that keeps me ever mindful of our physical separation. And Darling, that will vanish when again I am with you and always near. Of course, the Lord knows best and I do want His will first, but if this desire is selfish I do hope He will forgive me because it is my hope that we will never have to be separated this way again. Some nights after I crawl into my bed, I can hardly keep back to tears for longing to be with you. I have always known that I loved only you and will never want to love another, but this time of separation has revealed to me beyond the realm of doubt that our love surpasses that which the human mind can grasp. I can think of no other way of letting you know how I love you than remind you again of my often repeated statement, “To me you are God’s little girl, and thank you for being such a constant, sweet, devoted in Christ-like wife.” I love you Darling with all my heart and life forever in the love of Christ.

This morning Raymond and I went to the Air Base early to see if we could find out anything on the radiogram I sent concerning the tragedy in one of the soldier’s home. A message came through but I had the Commanding Officer send out another message to see if we can get an emergency furlough of the soldier involved. While up there, I had a good talk with another one of the officers. Eventually, Raymond and I came back to headquarters and sorted some of the magazines and papers that came through the Red Cross. Most of them are between two and three months old, but to us  they are new and I think most of the men will enjoy seeing them. We will probably deliver them this coming Monday morning.

After dinner we had to go to the native village and we had a very nice visit with the natives. Mofete wanted a picture of us together to take back to the island when they return. He wants to show his wife and friends our picture. The only picture I had of us together is the one I have in my billfold ever since you sent it to me at Long Beach. It was one of the pictures we took when I came through Chicago on my way to the West Coast. I gave it to him and he thanked me very much. After all he has done for me I could not think of refusing. However, I would like to have another to carry, for I do miss it. I’m wondering if you will find the negative and have another printed for me, so I can replace it in my billfold. It is the picture where you are standing at my left side. As you look at them check closely, for in one of them you are standing at my right side. I think you will be able to tell which is which, for in the one where you were standing on my right side, my wedding ring shows up in the picture and undoubtedly it will in the negative also. How happy I would be if you were standing by my side right now.

Native Pastor, leader and dear friend of Willis’ , Mofete.

After supper I went up to the Air Base to see if we had received any further word concerning the above mentioned soldier, but nothing has come back in so I came back. On the way, I stopped by the Infantry area for a while and visited with some of the officers for a while. I arrived here at my quarters just after dark. I did some reading and read your letter of the 21st over again. I looked at your picture for quite a while and thanked the Lord again for you and all you are to me. As I said in last night’s letter, you are growing sweeter in every way and it is so noticeable in this lovely picture you sent me for a Christmas present.

I am anxiously looking forward to knowing what your final grades were for the work you are carrying for this year at Northern. I’m certain it will be something to be proud of, and remember, everything you accomplish is a very rich blessing and challenge to our life in Christ. The beauties and depth of love as we have found it together Dear transcends the realms in which the human mind is able to comprehend. At least that is the way your wonderful love affects me.

I was interested in what you told me about the speech you gave for an examination in Speech class on the book, “Man of Like Passions.” I will be interested to see if you take speech the second and third quarters. I’m certainly sorry to know that Bernice Ptacek is having such a difficult time with the Junior BYF. I feel that the problem she has finds its roots in the problem that all of  NSBC faces and that is this, they may have many members but the workers are very very scarce and that in itself seems to indicate a definite need of a revitalized Christianity in the entire membership. As best said, a “Wholly Christ-o-centric program.” Sometimes I’m afraid there is too much overlap in the church. What do you think, Dear? Since being in the Army I have come to some very definite conclusions in the field of Christian education, and by that I mean training and edification, I’m still trying to come to some conclusions that would be worthy of use in the church. Sometimes I think we need an entirely new church school set up, what do you think, Dear? Weekday religious education is doing something, but I still feel that it isn’t enough and it is sure it isn’t adequate. Many times when I’m going along in the jeep I am thinking of just such problems. With all your added experience and understanding, I anticipate some wonderful times together as we work for Christ in our next church. Darling, it means everything to me has been to have such a good wife as you are to me.

It was interesting to hear what the doctors told Mrs. Vogel on her visit to Iowa city. Yes, E. Stanley Jones is correct in his book on Abundant Living about the effect of the mind upon the physical. I have seen just cases since being in the Army. The talk given by Bobby at the church must have been very very good. Isn’t it wonderful to have such a fine children as Paul and Gen have? Sweetheart, I do hope the Lord sees fit for us to have our own someday. I’m sure you will be such a good mother to our children and the Christ likeness in you will be a blessing beyond description.

That was very nice of the woman in Taft Hall to ask you to the party they’re having for Lee. I’m most grateful to Paul and Gen for asking you to stay all night with them. I do hope you won’t take any chances, Darling. I hope things straight now for them and that the former minister’s wife will get out completely.

I was interested to hear what Mrs. Paul mentioned to you about that the Bob Hope show. What little he told me I agree with, but I will tell you about my impressions when we are together, Dear. I would rather not say anything in the mail. Nobody loves humor or a good laugh more than I do in the proper places, but this business of being vile and vulgar for a laugh is behind me. I’m so happy you don’t have to hear the profanity that I’m constantly hearing. Actually, it hurts me until I can hardly stand it, especially is that true when some of the men have had too many beers. Some people are always forcibly using other people’s ears as sewer pipes for the things they utter. I know it’s difficult for men who really try to live and exemplary life. Our dear Lord’s name is used so much in vain that my heart is constantly being hurt.

 From what you mentioned in one letter, I suppose you spent Thanksgiving Day out at Valparaiso with the folks. As I read that in your letter this thought came to mind, did you have thanks for the food before eating? And do you have thanks for the food every day at home? Darling, I have no idea where you will be for Christmas dinner, that is I mean I’m not sure where you will be, but I have this little request to make if you are at Mabel’s or at home or whatever it may be, will you please offer the thanks for the food? I’m not sure where I will be eating my Christmas dinner, but I would like to know that you thanked the Lord for His mighty provisions at that most blessed birthday in the history of mankind. As you offer that prayer, remember I will be right there in that place in your heart which is mine now and forever. Your meals are so very good so please thank the Lord every meal for the food. Please tell the folks that also, I know not what the future holds but if I go into battle knowing all of you back there are duly thanking the Lord for His bountiful provisions it will help I know. I wish these men out here would quit their complaining and thank the Lord for the food we do have. My, I think it would make them more grateful than ever for the blessings we have had in the past. As I write this letter to you, there are boys and girls and grown folks who are starving, not because God’s good earth is not productive and fertile enough, but because of the selfishness of men. Did you ever stop to think of the food that has been lost because of sinking ships, rotted because of laziness and labor disputes, and yes, even burning and plowing under on purpose. In brief, the Chief, Mom and you be sure to thank the Lord for each meals food, be it even a crust of  bread and water. That may sound sermonic, but Darling I am constantly seeing men who have been spoiled by the blessings of our country and instead of thanking Lord, they complain. We have lost the rare art of thanksgiving as a nation and a people.

Darling, it is very late and I’m tired so I will close for tonight. God bless you in all things and remember I love you more than ever I have before.

Always just yours in the Love of Christ,

Willis

Colossians 3:3