Rare Insight Found in Vietnam Missionary Journal 1962-1965

This following is a special segment from the missionary journal of Mr. and Mrs W.C. Stemple Jr. found in the Christian archives in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. It highlights the lives of foreign missionaries going to Vietnam more than 40 years ago and gives us rare insight into what it is like for missionaries who are sent to areas on the brink of war.

Oct. 15. 1962. Today was the day for which we have been preparing most of our lives. We nervously met with the foreign board representatives at Jaffray School of Missions and heard them approve us for missionary service under the Christian Missionary Alliance. We are temporarily appointed to Vietnam, so we can begin to study in earnest. Our life’s objective is in view, praise the Lord!

Feb. 28, 1964 We drove up to Detroit today to meet with the foreign board again at Central Alliance Church. This time means final approval if we passed our period of Missionary Internship here at Toledo Gospel Tabernacle. We think it gets harder instead of easier each time we meet with them and especially since we won’t hear the results of this meeting until after the Board of Managers meet.

April 21, 1964 Today we got the official letter from Mr. LL King telling us of the Board of Managers’ decision, and making our appointment to Vietnam a certainty. What a thrill to tear open the envelope and read our future written on a piece of paper!

May 17, 1964 We are so glad we deced to come to Council this year. The highlight came today in the missionary rally when we marched with missionaries form twenty-four nations as accredited candidates. We certainly have a great privilege and tradition to maintain to join the ranks of these dedicated friends.

Jun 12, 1964 Today we heard the Vietnamese language spoken for the first time on our language tapes here at Toronto Institute of Linguistics. We almost decided to stay home.

Jun 20, 1964 When we came down from the top of beautiful glacier peak here in Yosemite Park we were greeted by nearly all the 100 boys with whom we are traveling this summer. Each wanted to be the first to tell us about the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam and wondered how this would affect our plans. How can we know? We went to our little tent, crawled into our sleeping bags and discussed and prayed about how to answer these boys. Nearly everyone we knew – were finding some way to ask us: Why in the world are you going to Vietnam at a time like this? We knew that unless we could answer this for ourselves we might as well not go. God wonderfully reassured our hearts that this was His purpose for us and we didn’t need reasons; just to know we are in the center of His will gives us the knowledge of true safety. We, for one, do not consider Vietnam a lost cause.

Oct. 17, 1964 We are on the plane now and have just passed one of the hardest experiences in our lives – saying goodbye to our friends and loved ones. How we praise God that both sets of parents know the Lord and are one with us in this calling; this is a great relief to our minds as we leave. No matter how sure we are that this is God’s will, it still gave us a funny feeling as we pulled away from the shoreline of the United States.

Oct. 19, 1964 Chicago, San Francisco, Hawaii, Guam, Manila, Saigon! Just twenty-one hours by air. It was a thrilling experience and as we first viewed the lush coastline and river basins of Vietnam our hearts expanded with an overwhelming sense of peace and joy and fulfillment. We weren’t sure what to expect because as we approached the coast the announcement had been made that we were to take no pictures over the land of Vietnam and as we stepped off the plane we saw soldiers everywhere standing guard.

We didn’t even know if we would get to stay, but were soon taken in tow by missionary friends who whisked us through customs. We know it was an answer to prayer that we didn’t have duty. etc, but we were sort of disappointed that they didn’t search us for smuggled jewels or anything.

Oct. 20, 1964 We could write a book already. Saigon is a busy, hot, crowded city and the two things we cannot escape noting are the heat and the traffic. There are motorcycles, taxis, bikes, cars, trucks, pedestrians, and every other thing going every which way. There does not seem to be a definite side of the road to drive on. At night they don’t even turn on their lights which adds to the nightmare. Yesterday when we went from the guest house to the airport at noon we were sure our missionary career would be short. The heat is oppressive and because we are tired from our trip, we feel we could sleep forever. All in all, we have been fairly well prepared through reading and conversation with missionaries for the culture shock. The mosquitos and the smells, however, are two things felt than telt. The first night at the home was missionary prayer meeting and the friendship and fellowship of the other missionaries is warm and wonderful.

Nov. 3. 1964 We arrived in Danang – our home for our two years of language study, the Lord willing. It was raining when we arrived but that was the only way our reception was dampened. It is a relief to get settled (even if we do have to wait a long time for our barrels) and we are so pleased with our living quarters.

Nov. 12, 1864 Today we began language study and can see we have a big job ahead of us. It has been raining since we came and we understand we are in the midst of the worst flood in years. Otherwise, Danang seems to be ideal; a nice sized city and very friendly people. Many pastors and others have come to welcome us and we feel so much at home.

We have seen the delighted faces of the people in general when they hear an American who can speak their language and this has made a great impression on us; may God grant us quick minds to be able to speak well and minister His love.

Dec. 25, 1964 Christmas Day away from home – and we were so busy going to services and enjoying the true meaning of Christmas that we didn’t even have time to get homesick! But nevertheless, it is sure good to have that tape from home to play before we go to bed tonight.

Jan. 14, 1965 We ran into our first demonstration today.

Feb. 8, 1965 After raids from the north today and the government being little shaky, the future for missionary work seems rather uncertain. All military dependents are leaving and we know our families and friends are probably worried. But we are not in the least fearful; we have no desire to leave. Besides, we just passed our first language exam and can’t stop now!

Mar. 10, 1965 We just got word that our outfit is finally on ship and coming up the coast. It should arrive this week. Are we sorry to unpack all our things when others are packing theirs up? We are assured not, for we know whom we have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him.

Dr. Eugene Bach is a known trouble-maker with an active imagination and sinful past. He has a PhD, but is not a real doctor, so please do not call for him during a medical emergency on an airplane when someone is having a heart attack. Eugene started working for Back to Jerusalem in the year 2000 after a backroom deal involving Chinese spies, the NRA, Swiss bankers, and a small group of Apostolic Christians that only baptize in Jesus’ name. He spends most of his time in closed countries attempting to topple governments by proclaiming the name of Jesus and not taking showers. From time-to-time he pretends to be a writer. He is not good at it, but everyone around him tries to humor him.

One Comment

  1. Linda Rice

    Always wonderful to read about goers.


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