You have no right to stay here

Anna was alone with her five children – again, this time in Hong Kong. The Immigration officer looked in her passport – the one with the picture of her together with all her children. “You have no right to stay here in Hong Kong. You have no visa. You must return immediately to China, or go somewhere else within twenty four hours! Just get out!”

Anna's Passport photo

Anna’s Passport photo

Where could she go? She had no money for tickets to travel any further. Before leaving Kunming, the British Consulate there said that her visa application for Ceylon was ready. She could pick it up at the British Embassy in Hong Kong. She had telegraphed the Mission secretary back home to send money for her tickets to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank as soon as possible, so she could take the children to Ceylon. She knew from experience that it could be weeks before that money arrived.

Her husband felt he could not leave China just now. The refugees had been pouring into the city of Kunming from all over China. He felt that the displaced Chinese people needed all the encouragement he could give them through sharing his message of God’s love with them. No one knew just then what suffering they still had to face under the marching orders of Mao. Many of their Chinese friends had come to Kunming all the way from Manchuria. They had thought Kunming would be safe from Mao’s troops for years to come.

During the last few months several missionary friends had stayed temporarily with her family while waiting for the opportunity to leave the country before it was too late. Two Swedish families, together with their Swedish teacher, were camped between the benches on the balcony of the run-down theatre which had been her family’s home the last year of their stay in China. The theatre was used as a church and Bible school too. The Swedish teacher and the two families were on their way to Ceylon. That was why Anna chose to follow them to that country. At least they had a teacher with them. Four of Anna’s children had to have a teacher!

Though Swedish was Anna’s mother-tongue she had not had the time or the energy to teach Swedish to her children. Her family had been on the move for three years and nine months now. Her oldest son had started school in Naselle, Washington, when he turned seven. A few months later they had arrived in China. During a temporary stay of six months in Manchuria the four oldest children were in a Chinese school. War forced the family to flee to Kunming, where another Chinese school was the only alternative for a while. The next year and a half they were able to go to an American school. The fear of the advancing war closed that school, sending most foreign business and missionary families out of the country. Anna had to teach the children herself, this time out of Finnish school books which had been sent for the children. Now, alone with the children, she was almost desperate.

Anna and her children had been able to get seats on the evacuation plane, St. Paul, on its last flight from Kunming to Hong Kong, She had hoped that the plane would still make a few trips to and from Kunming, and that the children’s father would be able to join the family. One of the boys had cried on the plane trip asking, “Why could daddy not come with us?” She thought he would soon join the family, and comforted the child promising that dad would be coming after them, maybe on the next flight. There was no ‘next flight’.

Last flight out of Kunming

Last flight out of Kunming


Anna wrote home to her parents: “When I married T, I promised that I would follow him wherever God led him. I never promised that I would go to a foreign country without him – to wait there until he can join me. But that is just what I am doing now. I would rather bring the children home to Finland, where they would be safe. Instead we will be traveling to Ceylon. No one knows when, or if, T will be able to join us there. In his last telegram he asked me not to go home yet.”

About milestones

Born in Finland. Learned to walk in North America. Learned to talk in China. Went to school in Ceylon. Registered Sick Children's Nurse in England. Volunteer in India. Founded a Children's Home in Thailand. Have four children and ten grand children. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Five books - written in Swedish, published in Finland.
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4 Responses to You have no right to stay here

  1. terrysmith says:

    What a scary time for Anna and her children. I admire her bravery! Nicely laid out for the reader to follow through.

  2. Hana says:

    This was a woman of the world….aside from the great job you did about describing the situation Anna was in, I also really liked the peak inside you give of her concern for her children’s education and the honest conflict she feels about going to Ceylon instead of Finland. Nice job.

  3. carrieann822 says:

    Well done. Would like to read more.

  4. Jude says:

    This is such an interesting story of a remarkable woman to venture to those remote areas with her children. I find your stories of your childhood really fascinating. Thanks.

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