During the first part of the 20th century, the Universalist Church sponsored a mission in Japan. To assist in instructing Universalist congregations about the mission and its goals and purposes, Maude Lyon Cary created a short skit to be performed on Japan Day or for use with mission study books. This skit was published by the Women’s National Missionary Association of the Universalist Church in 1923. The cost of the pamphlet, entitled “The Secret of Happiness,” was three cents. It offers some insights into the state of our religion nearly one hundred years ago, as well as why our faith involved itself in a missionary effort. Following is the script for the skit:
Ritsu: Stop if you please! Do not haste so speedily away. From my home een Sunrise Land, I breeng you greeting. (Bows Japanese fashion.) Will you tale me why you are so happy? Beeg girls like you of age to marry, how can you so to seeng?
First Girl: We sing, little sister from Japan, because we are indeed happy; and we are happy because spring is here. The flowers are so fragrant and so beautiful. The birds sing so blithely; the world is so fair. We are young; life’s adventure is all before us. God’s in his heaven. All’s well with the world.
Ritsu: Are you always happy? Are you naivair afraid?
Second Girl: Afraid! Why should we be afraid? Girls in America are afraid of nobody.
Ritsu: In Japan, unteel dey marry, girls must fear deir faders. Eef dey grow poor, dey often sale dem to Temple or to oder people for slaves. Dey often not even know deir husbands teel dey marry. Den dey have no more weel to leeve deir lives, but must do always deir husband’s weel. Dey must teenk, feel, act, onlee what deir husbands weesh. Dey belong naivair to demselves; first to fader, or eef he die to eldest bruder, den to husband, den to eldest son. Even after married, dey can be sold eef husband weeshes.
Third Girl: Well, I’d like to see any one sell me, father, or husband or brother or anyone else. I’d run away first and earn my own living.
Ritsu: I have a fraind once who deed dat. Her fader beeg gambler, going to sale her to Temple for money to pay debts. She run away to seelk mills in Nagoya. She been to school, can write a leetle. She write to me. She tale me how she work twelve hours aivery day, seex in de morning to seex at night, weed half hour for rice at noon seeting on floor beside machine. She go to baid in beeg room-dormitory, in baid same night girl have left, same covers, windows closed, shades down to keep out light, all dirty—what you call stuffy, no breath, no good times, no fun, vairy leetle money, mebbe three dollars a mont’. She run away again. Hope to find bettaire place. No good. Next place onlee worse. At last not write any more. No, I not goin’ to run away. I must be afraid and sorry. Een Japan we smile on outside but not happy eenside. Often we jump een river or eat opium.
Fourth girl: I’ll tell you, girls, what the difference is. It’s Christianity! America’s a Christian country. Japan is heathen. It was Christ who brought real happiness into the world. It was Jesus who first taught consideration and tenderness for little children “for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” and reverence and respect for women who are the mothers of the world. It was He who taught people to love one another and be kind and not cruel to their fellow men. It was He who said we all are brothers and must live together in friendliness and helpfulness. It is Christ who must go to Japan and change the lives of the men, women and children. Then Japanese girls can be happy and not afraid, just as we are.
Ritsu: Tale me, who ees Christ? Who ees dis Yaisu?
Fifth Girl: He is the Son of God who lived in Palestine 1900 years ago, and spent his whole life in doing good, healing the sick, comforting the sorrowing, strengthening the weak, cheering the down-hearted finally dying on the cross to prove to us all the limitlessness of His love, and to show us that we, too, must be willing to lay down our lives for love of God and one another.
Ritsu: Does He love eeven poor leetle women of Sunrise Land?
Sixth Girl: Yes, and if you, and we too, love Him well enough and try to follow Him, by helping and serving others every day, He will be with us all the time although we cannot see Him and our lives will be happy and we need never, never be afraid.
All sing: “In the Garden”.
(Skit from 1923. “From the Archives” post for January 2017.)