The Small Woman
By Alan Burgess
Buccaneer Books, 1959. 221 pgs. Biography
In the 1930s, Gladys Alyward was an English housemaid who felt compelled to go to China as a Christian missionary. However, when she tried to be placed as a missionary, she was told she wasn't educated enough and most likely wouldn't be able to learn the language. Rather than accepting defeat, she worked and saved her money until she could afford a train ticket to China and set out on dangerous journey, through warring countries to make it to China where she worked with an elderly missionary to establish the Inn of the Eighth Happiness. Over the next twenty years, Gladys worked tirelessly as a missionary and also become a foster and adoptive mother to many Chinese children, and, following the Japanese invasion of China, led nearly 100 children on a grueling journey through the mountains to safety.
This book is an oldie but goodie. It was fascinating to see Gladys's determination be a missionary and some of the impressive work that she did, which ranged from calming a prison riot to working at the foot inspector in charge of making families unbind their daughters' feet. This is an inspiring account of a woman putting her faith into action as well as a great look at this era of history in rural China.