THE BLUE HALL
Perhaps one of the most interesting jobs I've ever held was the GS-5 Management Analyst at the Naval Supply Depot in Guam. We were involved heavily in doing Time and Motion Studies or Methods Engineering endeavors. One of the things we did as 'methods engineers' or 'efficiency experts' was go to the different departments and do a survey of the activities that were done. We would do what they called 'random sampling' of these activities. We would sit and watch the employees and tally the activities that they did for the duration of the day as well as through the whole week or through the duration of the whole study.
For example, if an employee was typing, we made a mark or notation that the employee was typing (there were no personal computers then). If another employee was using the adding machine, we would tally that. If they were on the phone, taking coffee breaks (which was allowed, of course) we would tally that as well, etc. We used a matrix to record all these activities.
When we got done with the survey, we went back to our department and tabulated everything and then using some kind of formula or algorithm, we came up with figures denoting the actual manpower requirements for that department. Through these studies and surveys, departments would know more or less whether they were overstaffed or understaffed. If they were overstaffed, they would need to cut back; if they were understaffed, they would need to hire, etc.
What has all this got to do with the title--An Icy Experience? A lot. The experience was two-fold--one is figurative and the other literal. Let me explain. First, when we went to the various departments to conduct these studies, the employees felt threatened by our presence. They did not want us there. They felt that we would be responsible for their removal from their positions. Hence, they gave us the cold shoulder treatment.
Second, we received our training on Time and Motion Studies in the United States. Coming from Guam, a hot, tropical island, we could not have imagined how cold the weather would be in San Francisco at night even though we were warned by people who lived in the United States that it would be really cold that time of the year. We, tropical folk, had no conception whatsoever of how cold, cold was. But my mother wanted to be on the safe side. She ordered a full length wool coat for me for this trip. The wool coat was bulky and so heavy to carry, and I felt ridiculous carrying it around, so I didn't want to take it with me. My Mother insisted I take it. I insisted I would not. The battle ensued. I won. I left without the wool coat. I brought only a sweater.
My first letter home went something like this: "Dear Mom, I needed the long wool coat, why didn't you let me take it with me?" I wrote that it was like being inside a refrigerator when we got out of the plane in Vallejo, California. We took another flight from Vallejo to San Francisco. In comparison with Vallejo, San Francisco was more like being inside a freezer; I was chilled to the bone (brrrrrrr). For the life of me, I could not fathom why people would live in refrigerator/freezer type climates. Fortunately, our destination was North Island near San Diego, where the temperature was milder. But even San Diego had days where sweaters would not suffice (brrrrrrr).
You know, sometimes we fret and worry about a little discomfort here and there. It would put us to shame if we but realize that the missionaries who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the globe had to endure hardship, privation, hunger, and cold in ecologically hostile environments. Many contracted malaria, yellow fever and other diseases; some died in their post.
I am a product of the efforts of missionaries. Had it not been for the missionaries who came to Guam and shared the Gospel with my mother and her family, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be here to create this website and send the Gospel story throughout the borderless region of cyberspace.
I love mission stories. When my son was little, we read a lot of mission stories. One such story was about Ana and Ferdinand Stahl who, in the early 1900's, unselfishly labored for the Indians in the trying high altitude of the Andes. They spent many years with the Indians there. Many times, they were hungry and tired. Their work involved a lot of traveling by foot or mules. Sometimes in these travels, there was no place to sleep but spread their blankets on the snow and slept there.
When it was time for retirement and to return to the comforts of home in the United States, Ana and Ferdinand refused to retire. They continued their work, this time with the Indians in the torturing lowlands and steamy jungles of the Amazon.
Ana and Ferdinand's unselfish labor for the Indians in South America resulted in countless souls won for the Kingdom of God. There would be stars in the crowns of these dedicated people who gave up their comfort, risked their health and lives to make known the message of salvation in heathen lands.
Through Gates of Spendor is a book by Elisabeth Elliot that tells of five missionaries and their families who 'befriended' the most primitive and hostile of all the tribes of Indians in South America--the Auca Indians of Ecuador. After some time spent in sharing the gospel with them, many came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. Then in 1956 the unthinkable happened. The world was stunned with the news that all five missionaries were speared to death by a few rogue Aucas.
Two years later, Elisabeth Elliot, her three-year-old daughter Valerie, and Rachel Saint, a sister of one of the slain missionaries went back to Ecuador to establish permanent residence and continue their labor of love to the Aucas.
Some of the men responsible for the deaths of the five missionaries later accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour. In fact, nine years after the massacre, one of the men who slain Nate Saint became a pastor and baptized two of Nate's children. What a testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives--even the lives of the savages.
Another equally poignant and powerful book by Elisabeth is The Savage My Kinsman.
We read of another missionary in Tibet who labored amongst his people to spread the message of salvation. He walked barefooted in the snow going from place to place. Many times his feet bled and left bloody footprints in the snow.
Next time we are tempted to worry, fret, and carry on about our creature comfort, let's think about these missionaries who had to contend with adverse and forbidding circumstances. Let's think about that bloody footprints in the snow. We might surprise ourselves that instead of murmuring and complaining, we are praying for the efforts of the missionaries around the globe to be a success and that the name of Jesus--the ONLY name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, might be proclaimed and made known among the heathens, the savages, the Muslims, and all non-Christians the world over. Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world!
From India's coral strand,
Where Afric's sunny fountains
Roll down their golden sands,
From many an ancient river,
From many a palmy plain,
They call us to deliver
Their land from error's chain.
What though the spicy breezes
Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle;
Though every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile;
In vain with lavish kindness
The gifts of God are strewn;
The heathen in his blindness,
Bows down to wood and stone.
Can men, whose souls are lighted
With wisdom from on high,
Can they to men benighted
The lamp of life deny?
Salvation! O salvation!
The joyful sound proclaim,
Till earth's remotest nation
Has learned Messiah's name.
Waft, waft, ye winds, His story,
And you, ye waters, roll,
Till, like a sea of glory,
It spreads from pole to pole;
Till o'er our ransomed nature
The Lamb for sinners slain,
Redeemer, King, Creator,
In bliss returns to reign.