Stephen Chan

The Late Home-coming Prodigal Son – Chapter 12

A translation from ‘遊子遲遲歸’

Chapter Twelve        Revival at Xichang

I firmly believed my admission to the government medical school was a miracle. It was God’s direct answer to my prayers. I could never have achieved it with my own efforts. This caused my spiritual revival. It was not through attending any revival meeting or having read any spiritual books, but a personal experience of Him answering my desperate prayers. He had been faithful to me. Even ‘If we are faithless, He remains faithful….’ I was overjoyed with tears, and thanked Him for His love and care. Like Jacob, alone in the wilderness dreamt about the ladder that led to heaven, I too was in awe of His guidance and provision in my destitute.

Our relative in Chengdu gave me a sum of money for my travel and schooling expenses. I packed up my belongings and began my journey from Chengdu to Le-Shan (乐山), then from Le-Shan (乐山) to Xichang (西昌) in Xikang (西康). Transportation was cumbersome in those days. I walked to a truck station and loitered for any trucker would be willing to give me a ride for whatever fare he asked for. I stayed in Le-Shan (乐山) for over a week before I got a ride, by then I had only enough money left for my destination.

While I was in Le Shan waiting, I befriended with Mr. Liu Hong An from Shandong (山东) who was also waiting to go to Xichang (西昌) to attend the same school. He was the first name on the admitted student list, right above my name. We became good friends immediately, taking care of each other in dire needs. We passed through wilderness and many isolated trails. Foods at any villages or stations were very expensive. So in order to save money, we bought dried foods that were cheap and filling. We discovered chestnuts were very cheap in Leshan (乐山), so we bought a large bag of chestnuts, snacking on the way and taking only one meal per day. If the weather was good, it would take four to five days to arrive at Xikang (西康).

On the way to Xikang (西康), we passed by some famous historical points, e.g. the Mount Meng Huo Dui (孟霍堆) where the famous general Zhu Ge-Liang (朱葛亮) captured his enemy Meng Huo (孟霍) seven times. When we arrived at Da Du River (大渡河), there was a very narrow and fragile bridge called Iron Chain Bridge (铁索桥). Only the driver was allowed to pass through. So all passengers had to get off, carry their own belongings and walk across the bridge. This was my first experience crossing a bridge in this manner, the bridge swayed, I felt like there were springs under my feet, as if I would fall off any minute.

A small memorial tomb stone pavilion on the other side of the river, erected to remember the famous King of Taiping Tian Guo (太平天国) Mr. Shi Dakai (石达开), who died beside this river. I had forgotten his eulogy, but according to the Chinese encyclopedia, Mr. Shi Da-Kai (石达开) was born in Guixian (桂县) of Guangxi(广西). He was a follower of Mr. Hong Xiuquan (洪秀全), the founder of Taiping Tian Guo. After the uprising, he was appointed King Yi. In June 1857, Wei Changhui (韦昌辉) revolted within the Taiping (太平) army. He fled with over a hundred thousand soldiers, defected from the Taiping army. He led the fleet through the provinces of Zhe (浙), Min (闽), Xiang (湘), Gui (桂), E (鄂), Qian (黔), Dian (滇), then planned to wade through River Jin Sha Jiang (金沙江), then enter Sichuan (四川) through the border. But he lost his direction and finally was defeated and executed.

After crossing the Iron Chain Bridge (铁索桥), we came to a place called Huang Mao Chang (黄毛场). It was a small village, a rest station for the truck drivers. We were all hungry and hurried to a food stall for food. We saw the tables were covered with a layer of flies like black table clothes. Anyone opened his mouth to speak would consumed some flies. We all swallowed at least a few flies with our meals. This was a memorable experience for me. When we finally arrived at Xichang (西昌), I was so excited that the journey was finally over that I screamed and jumped for joy, like a prisoner freed from prison. This was the fall of 1942.

I became ill with dysentery soon after arrival at Xichang (西昌). I had diarrhea over forty times that day and night, suffering from severe abdominal cramps as if my bowels were falling out. My friend I met only a week ago helped me and stayed with me all night. He took me to the restroom over twenty times. The restroom was basically a sewage dump, extremely smelly, flies and mosquitoes attacked me each time I entered the site! This was another unforgettable event!

My condition became dangerous the next day and I was sent to the only hospital in Xichang (西昌). This was a Catholic hospital. I stayed in the emergency room for about four to five days, and miraculously survived through another life threatening ordeal. During my stay in Xichang for the next two years, I was mostly healthy other than the one time that I contracted malaria.

Category: 未分類


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