Religious and Moral Issues

Part 10: Cheul Soo 

            Butler was here in Hamilton also the year we were hosts for the International Christian Youth Exchange Student – Cheung, Cheul Soo.  That was a very interesting year.  I was instigator of the program locally.  Hamilton schools had had no foreign exchange student when I saw, in Methodist literature, information on this inter-denomination program.  A host church paid in $400 and then assumed the living expenses of the youth for the 10 or 11 months of the program.

            The church and the MYF were agreeable to raising the $400.  I said we would be the family (unless someone else wanted to be it).  Al and June Knipe worked hard on the funding.  We asked help and cooperation from the youth of the other churches – and got some help.  We had a BIG smorgasbord to raise money and got most of it right there because the advertising stressed our project.

            I had several letters and phone calls from the national organizer of the program.  For a while it seemed we might get a German youth.  John preferred that, for both of us knew a smattering of German.  Then we were asked about our feelings toward other races etc.  Finally, it seemed there was a son of a Korean minister they were eager to place.  We were picked for this lad.

            In some ways, perhaps, we were a poor choice for Cheul Soo.  Perhaps his U.S. family should have been a fundamentalist or straight line Christian.  We did have a good – but somewhat hectic year.  The two cultures and the communications were difficult to bridge.  Pete and Cheul Soo got along – but were very different.  Pete was a “ladies man” but not Cheul Soo.  My rice cooking met with Cheul-Soo’s approval.  Altho he had English in school for several years, he had trouble with classes at Hamilton High.  John and I had real challenge in trying to explain problems in his math or science to him.  He was a good student when he could cross the language barrier.

            Cheul Soo and his father wished to arrange for him to stay on in the U.S.A. for college or a job.  But that was forbidden by the original terms of the ICYE contract.  In fact, regulations said he could have no job while here as ICYE.  But John did find jobs for both boys at the back “Patio” construction.  We were able to take him on trips to St Louis, and to the Chicago area.  He went camping with MYF to Lake Wapello State Park in Iowa.

            I am sorry he was not a regular correspondent.  Our exchange of letters ceased all too soon.  Cheul Soo had some more schooling and then had his time to serve in the Korean army.

            I did have an urgent sad letter from his mother.  His father was seriously ill, requiring a long hospital stay.  They were to lose the home Cheul Soo was so proud of.  The mother was very upset and even mentioned suicide.  There were many stories in those years of foreigners trying to “make a good thing of the rich Americans”.  I wanted to help, but we were not really wealthy – and HOW could I help.

            I had a stroke of brains.  I wrote to the National Methodist office of World Missions.  Very quickly came a report from a U.S. missionary to Korea who knew the dad and the family.  On her advice I sent to her a Bank Cheque or money order of several hundred dollars, which would mean several times that amount in Korea.  This method was safer and quicker than by sending to the mother.  I had a report back from the missionary and a letter or two from the mother.  I’m glad we could help and no strings were attached, nor repayment expected.  The family did get back on its feet.

            In year since, Ray Humphry has had an Army term of duty in Korea.  Altho two years younger than Cheul-Soo, Pete, & Bob Humphry, Ray did remember Cheul Soo, and set out to find him in crowded Korea.  He did, but the Humphry’s have made friends with other Korean soldiers and ministers.  Once in a long time they hear a little of Cheul Soo.  He married and they had a little girl at last report.

            I must back track a little to report that one summer while Esther was still in high school (early 1950’s) she told me I must go off to W.S.C.S. School of Missions for a week at Bloomington Ill; and also to Sunday School Laboratory School at Jacksonville.  She was capable of keeping meals and other home jobs going.  That was thoughtful of her.  Both events were very interesting to me.  I do not remember any feeling of being “out of place.”  I was a little disappointed at Lab school.  I was an “administrator” so I did not get to sit in on children’s classes to see how top notch teachers worked in a class.  But I did get to know and admire – and feel at ease with Dr. Charles Thrall.

            Cecil Lockhart followed R. W. Butler as minister.  I’m afraid the Pastor Parish committee recommended Butler move on.  He had been some time in Hamilton.  I still liked him but others were finding flaws – and nit-picking.

            I had no real problems with Lockhart, but for some reason I never had as close dealings with him as with Keller or Butler.  And I had a feeling Mrs Lockhart tried to run the church.

            Sometime along here John was retiring from Union Electric, and I was again active in Girl Scouting as a troop leader.  I began to decline church offices since John’s retirement seemed to be aimed toward considerable camper travel to visit our children and other relatives.

            After Lockhart, our minister was Canny.  I never did get to know or understand him.  His wife was either ailing or dissatisfied, or both.  I always had a feeling he was putting on a sweet, sanctimonious front.  Maybe I was wrong – or maybe I was right – maybe his problems were such he had to put on a front in order to keep going.

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