Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 11

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Eleven        Scholarship for Medical School

When there is a will, there is a way. In my despair, the Lord had shown me a way. We had a relative who came to Kunming in order to transport some medical supplies to Chengdu (成都) and set up a pharmacy store. He hired my eldest brother to be the transport officer. My brother invited me and Mr. Lau to work for him. We were to sit on top of the delivery truck to guard the shipment. I thought this might be a way out. I could possibly find some other opportunities elsewhere. So I promised him immediately, and went along with the group carrying the medical supplies from Yunnan to Bijie (毕节) in Guizho贵州, then to Sichuan (四川). The road to Sichuan was extremely hazardous. Guizhou 贵州 and Sichuan both were well known for their rugged terrain. All the highways were merely sandy, rocky roads, dusty in the sun, muddy and slippery in the rain, around steep slopes and sheering high cliffs of rocky mountain with many hairpin turns. Our journey was treacherous. The truck was loaded up so high that we had to lie flat on top of the merchandises when the vehicle made a sharp turn, otherwise we could very easily be brushed off to the road side by overhanging mountain rocks or tree branches. I sat on the top deck. The dropping rain cooled me down from the hot sun, the breeze refreshed me, and I was captivated by the beautiful scenery of my country. I enjoyed the whole trip and had no idea how dangerous the trip was.

Henceforth, I went to Chengdu (成都). The relative who hired us was a Christian, we went to church with him on Sunday. Then I remember I had forgotten all about Jesus for a long time. Why hadn’t I pray to Him? So I prayed for financial independence and education. It was late summer of 1942; my eldest brother was leaving for Guilin (桂林) in Guangxi and invited me to go along with him. He might have broken up with our relative, or perhaps he really wanted to take care of me. Anyway, I flatly refused him. But without my brother, where would I stay in Chengdu (成都)? How would I support myself? I did not care to find out as long as I need not depend on anyone. I would be at peace with myself because I did not belong to any family. This relative was a devout Christian, and he reminded me to pray for my future. So I prayed earnestly everyday for His mercy and an opportunity to survive.

Even though I was in such impoverished state, I knew I was still God’s child. Although I had gone astray, God still took care of me. One day, my opportunity came. I read in the newspaper that the government funded medical school in Xichang (西昌) was accepting applications. My living expenses would be paid for plus a small allowance included. The only condition was a contract to service in the northern territories like western Xikang (西康), Qinghai (清海) or Xinjiang (新疆) after graduation. This was good news to me. I could continue my education with free room and board. So I applied for the entrance examination immediately, and started reviewing my books that same night. I thought my chances were slim, but I prayed earnestly, knowing this was my only hope. I had never prayed so ardently all my life, and when I found out that I was admitted by the school, I was euphoric and overwhelmed. There were about forty students admitted. The terms of contract to services the northern territories might have deterred many, but that was not important to me. All I cared for at that moment was the admission!

At this point many beautiful visions came to my mind. When I was at Yu-Qiao Secondary school in Kunming, I had a girl friend. Her father was a team leader of cavalry. I once brought her to my brother’s house and introduced her to my sister-in-law who really liked her. We raced horses together many times, and I had longed for the day when I could take her with the horses to the northward bound, to establish our dreamland. It was only a dream; I was too timid to reveal my feelings for her. Wandering the streets of Kunming for two months had completely eliminated my hope of seeing her again. Now in Chengdu (成都), it was impossible for my love to come true. In those days, the vision of her still remained in me; from time to time I would sentimentally try to search the pieces of my shattered dream.

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