Dr. Rodney T. Hard
Rev. Theodore Hard baby Gwendolyn Grace Hard
One cold winter afternoon, Sterling was looking for Mom and heard some unearthly moaning as he approached the attached bath house in the back yard. He opened the door and found Mom lying naked and unconscious on the tile floor next to the charcoal fired ofuro (Japanese soaking tub). She had been overcome by carbon monoxide and was choking on her own vomit.
The scared five year old summoned up the knowledge, courage, and strength to open the windows, clean out her mouth, and then drag his mother out of the room full of poisonous gas to cover her with a blanket. He saved her life.
God was not done with her yet. Grace Hard went on to be the wonderful mother of us five children, raising us in a Godly, loving home. God used her for thirty five years to bring His good news to the people of Korea. She went on after that to years of mission work in the Philippines and in India helping the poor and teaching in Christian seminaries.
Because the military authorities in Korea would not give permission to my father to bring the rest of the family in yet, Mom and us kids ended up staying in Tokyo for about three months before finally joining Dad in Pusan, Korea.
The adventure was over. No, it had only just begun!
Grace Hard right before leaving for Korea as a missionary to spread the good news of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
December 18, 1953 - Rodney Hard on the shoulders of a crew member of the SS Alowai in San Francisco harbor.
THE SHIP TO KOREA
By: Dr. Rodney T. Hard
Stormy seas, a precognitive dream that comes true, a man overboard, Christmas on a ship, and a near-death rescue by a young boy made for an interesting trip to say the least.
On December 18, 1953, the Reverend Theodore Hard, his wife Grace, their five year old son Sterling, and I (the four year old son) boarded the SS Alowai in San Francisco on our first mission trip to South Korea. The cargo ship carried nine passengers along with a seasoned crew.
Almost the entire trip was stormy. The Pacific Ocean was very choppy, and the unceasing pitch and roll of the ship in the giant waves made most of the passengers very sea sick. My mother was pregnant with my sister Gwendolyn and was nauseous and listless for the whole three weeks until we arrived in Japan on January 11, 1954.
Fortunately, Sterling and I escaped the misery of getting sea sick. With Mom in bed most of the trip and Dad going about his own business, Sterling and I had a wonderful time exploring our new surroundings with pretty much an unsupervised free run of the ship much of the time.
One of the crew members went crazy and jumped overboard during the trip. In my father’s diary he writes, “Parsons had continued to act queerly. He was found staring at the turbine saying, “That girl’s in there. We’ve got to get her out.” The engineer thought he would scald himself so reported it to the Captain."
“You can’t lock a man up just for talking queer,” said the Captain. “It’s against regulations.” He apparently has to act violent first. Nevertheless the Capt. had him watched in his room by two others.” Parsons got away from the guards and jumped overboard as they watched helplessly. They turned the ship around and searched, but never found him.
On Christmas day my father wrote, “Weather worse, but kids up before light digging into Christmas stockings. Presents galore from churches all across U.S.A. Mostly toys for the boys, but many other things - also from relatives. Weather increasingly rough. Spent most of day in bunk. Christmas dinner bountiful but we managed only a few turkey sandwiches. Carol sing and semi-funeral service in saloon at request of Bosin. Good attendance of a dozen or so.”
We stopped over in Honolulu on December 29th for three days but I don’t remember much about that. We visited my father’s brother, John, who was stationed in the military there.
One night I had a very vivid dream about a strange house I had never seen before. It was not like anything I had seen in America. In the dream, I wandered through the house and out buildings in the walled-in yard taking in the details. It was so vivid, and it made enough of an impression that I told everyone about it at breakfast the next morning.
On Monday, January 11th, 1954, my father wrote, “We are anchored outside Yokohama waiting for order to dock. Wind fierce. Finally, about nightfall we edged into dock. There waiting was Miss Cocts and the Uomotos. For days they had waited, never getting much information from the company.”
After clearing customs, we were driven to the home of Rev. George Uomoto in Tokyo, where Mom and us kids were going to stay while Dad went ahead to Korea to make living arrangements.
When we arrived at the house, there it was! It was the exact house I had dreamed about on the ship. My excitement mounted as I explored our new home and realized that every room was as I had already seen it. To this day, I do not know what to make of that experience as I have not had another one like it since.
Dad had left for Korea, so Mom and us kids settled into our role as house guests. The Uomoto family was very nice. Sterling and I learned quite a bit of Japanese since that is what all our playmates spoke.
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