Saturday, February 3

Saturday's Old Photo


I'm playing dress up in this photo, and I'm six. My family lived in Wheaton, IL when this picture was taken, but this is a different house than the one on Liberty Street featured a couple of weeks ago. This is the house on Union Street, just a couple of blocks west of the Wheaton College campus. If the campus has expanded since then, this house may not be there any more.

This home was the furlough home of John and Eileen Kuhn–a little bungalow, not quite craftsman style, but craftsmanlike. We only lived there for half a year, moving during the summer to the Liberty Street house because Mr. and Mrs. Kuhn, who were missionaries in Singapore, were coming home on furlough.

John Kuhn had a more well-known wife named Isobel, but Isobel died of cancer in 1957, and Eileen was his second wife. Isobel and John had been missionaries, too, first in China and then in Thailand. Isobel wrote several books telling of her experiences, so people in conservative Christian circles knew Isobel. Not long ago I found a paperback biography of Isobel in the Salvation Army Thrift Store here in town, and that makes me think she continues to be a fairly well-known Christian missionary of the past.

Eileen Kuhn and my mother became friends, and in the office upstairs there is a little wooden box with an elephant carved on the lid that Eileen gave my mother. Eileen lived, I think, in the shadow of Isobel, but it didn't seem that she minded.

Only a couple of years after my family left Wheaton, John Kuhn died. As Eileen considered her future as a widow, the story is that she told God "throw me to the lions but don't make me work with youth!" So where did she go? She went to Singapore to spend the next 25 years teaching at the Singapore Bible College, eventually becoming dean. That means, I suppose, that God chose not to throw her to the lions.

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