"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
September 12, 2014
"The Inn of the Sixth Happiness": A Tribute to a Brave Missionary to China
by Jeff Lindsay

There's a marvelous old movie I recommend from 1958, "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness" starring Ingrid Bergman. The movie about a female missionary's amazing adventures and heroism in China in the 1930s was trashed by one major media source for not having a believable plot - the critic being unaware that it depicted the true story of a feisty English woman, Gladys Aylward.

The movie has its corny elements, too much poorly spoken Chinese, and a love story that is greatly exaggerated. In fact, it horrified the very virtuous Gladys to learn that the movie about her life included some "love scenes" (consisting primarily of violin music and some shy romantic glances gradually leading to a profession of love).

But the movie depicts numerous events from her life and, in spite of errors that bothered its subject, seems to be much more realistic than most movies based on true stories. It was also a very strange and foreign movie, in terms of modern standards, for the lead role was a zealous, faithful Christian who was not a con artist, child abuser, or oppressive villain.

She was sincere, devout, honest, faithful, and loving. Yes, this film actually came from Hollywood - obviously from a completely different and long-lost generation of movie makers.

Like Latter-day Saint pioneers, Gladys was part of a dangerous trek across hostile territory to lead a people to safety. It was in 1938, as her region was being invaded by Japan, that she led 94 children to safety over the mountains to Xian, traveling a distance of about 100 miles.

These were orphans that she cared for in her inn, the Inn of the Eighth Happiness (inexplicably demoted to the "Sixth Happiness" by Hollywood for the movie). She was driven by her faith and the desire to bless others and give hope to the next generation.

She had become a citizen of China in 1936 and her activities in support of the local populace, including a bit of spying on the Japanese made it unsafe to remain in Yangchen. Being warned of a bounty for her capture, dead or alive, by Colonel Linnan a member of the local Chinese resistance, she gathered up the children and narrowly escaped the city.

Unable to use roads or transportation, she was forced to lead her children, on foot, over the mountains to the safer province of Sian some 100 miles distant. The trek took twenty seven days in which they had to endure the elements and many hardships. She herself had become ill en route and when they finally arrived safely, she collapsed. The doctors were amazed by the feat as she was suffering from typhus, pneumonia, a relapsing fever, malnutrition, and supreme exhaustion.

She regained some strength but never recovered totally from her illness yet this didn't stop her from continuing her ministry, now located in Sian. She started a church and once more she was sharing the Gospel in the villages, prisons and among the sick and helpless. (Source: TLogical.net.)

After Mao took over China, she fled to England, seeking to bring the Gospel to the nation where she sensed great spiritual needs. She wanted to return to China later but was denied entry, so she settled in Taiwan in 1953.

She died in 1970 is buried in Taipei County, Taiwan. She refused honor and recognition and simply did all she could to serve God.

You can listen to some of her sermons late in life at SermonIndex.net. I like the way she teaches!

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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