November 7, 1945

Seoul, Korea

7 November 1945

Sarah, My Beloved Darling Sweetheart:

Imagine my great joy in returning to Headquarters here this evening and finding two more of your wonderful letters, they were for the following days:  October 27th and 28th. I have just finished reading them over again, and they did help me so much. I’m still pretty cold and stiff from that long cold ride to that outpost and back. The roads are in terrible condition, and as a result, I also feel beaten to pieces. The new Catholic chaplain and I left here early this morning and arrived back here at Headquarters around 4:15. It will certainly be good to crawl into my good old sleeping bag tonight, for then I’m sure I will be able to thaw out some. The sleeping bag really comes in handy now. It froze some last night. The sun was just starting to peak over the mountains and the hills and we left Seoul this morning.

Japanese temple in Korea November 1945.

Not very much happened which would be of interest, for a good share of the entire day was spent driving down there and back. As we traveled along we noticed that most of the people were carrying in their bundled rice from the field and stacking it in and around those little houses. About 3 or 4 weeks ago they cut the rice by hand and shocked it up on the dirt barriers between the different patties to dry out thoroughly. Many of them were threshing it along the way. The poor folks were merely doing it by hand and others had a little threshing machine cylinder machine which was operated on the principle of treadle sewing machine. The men were doing that work, whereas the young girls and women were pouring the rice on large straw mats letting the wind drive the chaff away. There happened to be a pretty strong wind today so that helped very much. The large mats I mentioned above are made of the rice straw and really they are a wonderful piece of work when you consider the fact that they are made by hand. After the rice is allowed to be cleaned thoroughly of chaff, they let the sun dry the rice kernels further. The people who are not so well-off generally have straw roofs on their houses. And we noticed several people along the way putting another layer of rice straw on their houses preparatory for winter. The butt end of the rice straw is bound together by weaving a rice straw rope to a medium-sized handful of straw. They are very careful not to break or bend the rice straw in harvesting it, and that way it will serve many things around their homes. After they have made a strip of rice straw long enough to cover the roof, they place it on the roof in just the same manner we use in the States with tar paper. Instead of using nails they bind it to the rafters with rope which the women make from rice straw.

  And the other work we saw them doing was gathering branches, twigs and wood for the coming cold weather. In a few places we saw the men splitting the logs with crude axes. Wherever there were any trees you could expect to see women and children racking up twigs and the leaves. In the States we burn them, but they bind them into large bundles and carry them home for use this coming winter. You may think I’m exaggerating when I tell you that I saw women carrying loads of twigs and little brush on their heads twice as large as the folk’s radio. I cannot see how they do it, they walk along the road that way and never falter a bit. I don’t know how they can carry such a load without dropping it. I suppose it is something like learning to ride a bike or ice skates.

  Most of the trees have lost their leaves by now, however, there were a few along the way such as the tall stately poplars with yellow and orange leaves still clinging to the branches. And then now and then we would see an oak with red and brown leaves. Of course higher up in the mountains could be seen the evergreens and a few patches of green grass, but most of all the grass is brown now. Korea is certainly a fine country and I do believe they have a fine future, I do pray and hope that many will feel led to come here as missionaries and teachers.

  Naturally as soon as we returned and I found your letters I read them right away and how good they were after that long cold journey in the Jeep. It would certainly be wonderful if our mail kept coming in like it has been for the last week or so here. I’m sorry that one box I sent to you and Mom is taking so long to get home. I was hoping that it would get home a little faster, that’s why I sent it to you first class mail. I hope you will like the little gift I got for you too, it in no way fully shows what you mean to me, but I love you both of you and I want you to know it.

  Having had my supper I came back over here and had my devotions and then worked on my message for this evening. I used as my scripture Matthew 9:1-8. The title of my message was,       “The Joy of Forgiving Sin.”  I will not go into detail but I’m sure you can imagine how it would develop from that designated passage of scripture. There were only seventeen men in attendance and there were only twelve men in attendance at the service we drove to have today at noon. I used the same sermon down there that I gave up here this last Sunday evening.

   I’m going to make a few comments and then go to bed and warm up and try to get a good night’s sleep after that long trying trip. I’m glad the folks like the little gift which we were able to give to them. I certainly love them and appreciate everything they have ever done for us. It does mean a lot to know that they will always help me get things for my Lover when I’m so very far away.

  I hope the plan which Ray Johnson is helping North Shore Baptist Church set in operation will bear fruit. Ray is quite a fellow, I knew him pretty well when we were in Seminary. The program which the Tribune is putting over WGN sounds interesting. Thank you very much for sending the pictures out of the paper, I really enjoyed looking at them. It will be good when I can really see those friends again instead of looking at pictures.

  That was certainly nice and thoughtful of Gen and Mabel to send me boxes for Christmas. They should not have gone to all that trouble. Darling, I know you love me very very much but please don’t send me any more boxes unless I specifically request them. As long as it takes packages to come through, it is foolish for you to go to all the trouble to make them up and then I never receive them. Besides, I’m looking forward to having your own cooking sometime this coming spring.

  Lover, it is getting late and I must say good night, so God bless you and the folks richly in all things.

 Yours for all the ages of the

 ages in Christ,

 Willis

 Colossians 3:3

 PS. Enclosed find a clipping from the Corps paper about the travel and surplus. I thought you might like to read it.

One thought on “November 7, 1945

  • John T Reed
    November 7, 2019, 3:30 am

    Fascinating descriptions of the local’s rice harvest and subsequent uses!

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