Through Fire and Through Water.
After a walk of an hour or more we reached the shores of the lake called the "Laguna de Bay," which is probably thirty miles long and empties into Manila Bay through the Pasig River that runs through the center of Manila. Along the beach there were many coconut palms and also other trees, and a few Philippino cottages set high on stilts. While we were waiting an old man came by with a pot full of cooked rice and a large banana leaf. Bowing and smiling he offered of his rice to each of us, which we gladly received, dipping out some of the rice onto a piece of the banana leaf. This rice was most delicious tasting to all of us, for we had eaten nothing better than lugao for many days.
The amtracks had of course been long gone when we reached the beach, and it was past noon when we saw them returning, roaring slowly along amid much foam, for they were propelled through the water by using the great cleats of their tracks like paddles. We were all lined up in groups of thirty ready to enter each one quickly as soon as it came ashore. The soldiers informed us that our position there was now very dangerous, and the Japanese might attack at any time, therefore we must leave our suitcases on the beach, taking with us only passports and our valuable papers, and if possible, they said, our suitcases would be picked up another trip.
When each machine reached the beach it swung around and let down the rear gate, and then as soon as it was filled to its capacity of thirty standing people it took off again into the lake. This was all done very rapidly. It came our groups turn to embark, and we quickly clambered aboard. When we began to plow through the water it seemed the tenseness of our waiting left us, and we could now relax. One of the soldiers up front opened a large wood crate and tossed us each a box a little bigger than a box of cracker jacks, and inside these boxes we found cans of meat loaf, biscuits, ham and eggs, a candy bar and I believe also a stick of chewing gum, which tasted extremely delicious to all of us.
When that long line of amtracks came ashore we found a large number of soldiers and trucks waiting for us, and in these trucks we were carried several miles to the town of Muntinglupa. Here the modern buildings of the Philippine governments New Bilibid Prison were being used for refugees and also as the Armys Twenty-First Base Hospital. These large buildings with their well guarded grounds were a place of safety very necessary at that time, for many Japanese soldiers were still hidden about the country.
Upon entering this refugee camp I saw a sign saying, "Register Here," and having given my name and nationality I was assigned to a room. Afterwards I quickly joined a long line that extended all the way to the far side of the camp. This line moved slowly along until I entered a doorway with the sign, "Kitchen," over it. Inside we were given plates, knives, forks, and spoons, then we continued on to where soldiers were ladling out dipper fulls of mashed potatoes, hot meat stew, slices of delicious white bread with butter, coffee with sugar and cream, and canned peaches for dessert. My, how we did enjoy that meal! There just wasn't enough of it.
Upon going to my room that night I found a British missionary, Mr. Brooks, and his two Sons had been assigned to the same room. Because we were friends and both missionaries we chose beds along side each other for the sake of fellowship. They were double decked cots, and one of Mr. Brooks boys slept in the cot over me and one over his father. Before retiring for the night we took our Bibles to read a chapter. Mr. Brooks opened his to the sixty-sixth Psalm, and we began reading a verse about. As we read we were thrilled to discover that the words were almost describing our experiences of that day. Then we came to the 12th verse and read, "Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads." Men had come riding over our heads that day and had dropped from the air to rescue us in a manner we had never before even dreamed of. "We went through fire and through water." We had also gone through fire that day, between the burning barracks of the internment camp with flames on either side and burning brands dropping around us. We had come through water, out across the Laguna de Bay in a way we had never before even thought of. "But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." We thought of the delicious food, the new clothes and other things that we had received that evening, and Brother Brooks and I dropped to our knees as our hearts overflowed with gratitude to God, who was thus showing us that it was His power and not mans that had done these great things for us.