What the Church Has Done for a Chinese Layman in Honolulu
By Yap See Young.
New York: no publisher, 1904.
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2015
Mr. Yap See Young, Mrs. Young and their family.
Introductory Note by Bishop Restarick
Mr. Yap See Young is one of the wardens of St. Peter's Chinese Church, Honolulu, and a layman who is interested in all the work of the Church. He assists at St. Mary's Mission, Moiliili, where the Sunday school is wholly composed of heathen children.
After the transfer of the Church in Hawaii to American jurisdiction Mr. Yap See Young began to read THE SPIRIT OF MISSIONS, for which he became a subscriber, after the Rev. Kong Yin Tet had lent him a few numbers. Recently, at his own suggestion, he obtained four new subscribers among the Chinese Christians.
Some time ago, I sent to the Editor of the magazine a photograph of Mr. Yap See Young and his family. In reply, I received a request that I ask Mr. Yap See Young to write a brief account of his life. The result is the following article, written by him in English, revised by me at his request, but changed only in a few places where the grammatical construction was a little obscure:
IN connection with the photograph I will tell you some history of myself and family. I arrived in the Hawaiian Islands from Canton, China, in 1880, with my father. This was not my own father, but one of our family name "Yap," who adopted me because he had no son and my own father was poor. When I left China I was seven years old, and I can remember that I had worked for my board by leading a cow to pasture and taking care of it. My own father was a heathen, but my adopted father was a Christian, who had been connected with the Basel Mission. In 1881 I was baptized in Honolulu, by the Rev. Mr. Damon, a Congregational minister. There was no Anglican mission for Chinese here in those days.
I went to the Island of Hawaii the same year with my father, who was a Chinese doctor of the old kind. We went to the district of Kohala, and for two years I attended a Roman Catholic school at Halawa, this being the only school in the neighborhood where English was taught. The instruction in the public school near by was in Hawaiian in those days. Having no mother with me, I had to wash my own clothes and keep myself clean. Soon after I came to the islands, I cut off my queue, because I thought I could keep more clean with it off. There were few Chinese here in those days without queues, but now most of the younger men, and many older ones, do not wear them. My father asked me why I had done this, but he was not angry.
In 1883, I went to the Island of Maui and worked as a yard boy, taking care of a garden and earning six dollars a month. But this was not, after all, a wise way of bringing me up. So one day my father thought that I must go to school and learn to speak and write English. But he was poor, and his profession did not prosper; besides he had a mother, and sister in China to support.
I went along in this way until 1885, when I came to Honolulu again. Through the efforts of my father's friends, I was able to enter in Iolani School on September 14th, 1885, under the following agreement with Bishop Willis: That I should have to work for half of my boarding and tuition and pay cash for the other half at the rate of $125 per year. [i.e., he was to pay $62.50 in money. H. B. R.] My work was to clean the bishop's study, assist the cook in the kitchen, and to wait at the table, to clean up dishes and sweep the dining-room. This agreement was not kept up, because my father made no payments and I thought I would be sent away. My father could speak no English, and, being unable to pay any money, Bishop Willis asked me about the trouble. After a few days, Bishop Willis told me that I was to be allowed to stay; but I should have to be more useful than I had been after school hours.
I was now fourteen years old, and realized how important education was. So I did my best by working in the garden, and did everything that Bishop and Mrs. Willis wanted. In the second year, Bishop and Mrs. Willis were so kind to me and looked upon me as one of their children by giving me clothes and taking care of me when I was sick, which I can say my own father had not done for me.
I was confirmed in St. Andrew's Cathedral, on Palm Sunday, 1888, by Bishop Willis, and left school and went to work in 1889. I have been with the same firm ever since.
I thank God that through these three years of school life I have obtained the blessings of Christ's Church and the teaching which laid the foundation of my uplifting to better manhood in social and daily life. Through these years in school, I have learned the way to love God and the Holy Catholic Church, and I have realized how good and valuable religious schools are for boys and girls.
My first experience of speaking before a congregation of my own countrymen was in 1899, when the Rev. Henry Herbert Gowen, now of Seattle, who started the work of the Anglican Church among the Chinese in Honolulu and had charge of it, asked me to interpret his sermons into Chinese, which I did for three years. Since then, I have been in close touch with Chinese Church affairs. I learned a great deal from Mr. Gowen. When he left here, he handed me the service register book, which I have kept until now, by entering every service—days, dates, service, officiants, preacher, text, attendance and collection.
I was married in 1892 by Bishop Willis at St. Pau1's Church (Chinese), Makapala Kohaa, to Miss Kong En Fa, a daughter of a pastor of the Congregational Chinese Church. Our oldest boy is Joseph Shui Ping. The second child, a girl, received the name of Ruth Shui Ying. The third, a boy, is Benjamin Shui On. Then come Esther Shui Jin and David Shui Fo. The first three attend St. Peter's School.
Some Questions and Answers
Bishop Restarick.—Mr. Yap See Young, do you attribute your comfortable and clean home and the like homes of other Christian Chinese in Honolulu to Christian training and influences, or to contact with white people?
Answer.—I attribute the condition of our homes distinctly to Christian influences, and chiefly to the fact that in the homes of which you speak the wives have been trained in Christian schools. There are no heathen homes like them. But it is not chiefly in the outward appearance that Christian influence is felt; it is in the spirit of the home. I was one of the first of our young Chinese married men to break away from the old custom, and be seen walking with my wife on the street. I was accused of imitating foreigners, and of going back on the traditions of our people. Now it is a common sight to see Chinese men with their wives and families walking to church or elsewhere, or taking a drive together on a holiday. The Christian Chinese women appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for them. They would not want to go to live in China again and return to old customs, but if I went back there I should refuse to take up those customs which treat women as slaves and inferior beings.
Bishop Restarick.—This spirit toward women, which I notice so often among the Christian Chinese here, must affect the old system of getting wives, such, for instance, as not seeing them before marriage.
Answer.—Yes; the old customs prevent our young men and women from knowing each other, and some change will have to come about. I knew my wife when she was a young girl. We used to write to each other later on, but there was no reference in our letters to affection or marriage. When it came to that, I conformed to custom and engaged an intermediary and paid her father, or, as I considered it, made him a present in exchange for his present to me. But our young Chinese men here rebel against the system, and as they can meet socially the Hawaiian girls, and do not have to pay their fathers, many marry Hawaiians, as you know.
Bishop Restarick.—I see by the papers that one of the reform societies expects to send twelve Honolulu boys to Hong Kong to be educated, because the boys here have progressive ideas and will communicate these to young men in China.
Answer.—Yes; it is only what Dr. Pott said while here about our twelve boys at St. John's, Shanghai. You remember he said that they are full of energy, patriotism and ideas of reform, and that they have a great influence over other boys. These islands are playing an important part in the awakening of China. This makes schools here so important. The way the Chinese are treated here and the opportunities which they have here lead me to believe that by increasing the efficiency of our Iolani School we might get boys from China to come here to be educated and to get Christian and progressive ideas.
The Missionary District of Honolulu was received by transfer from the Church of England, April 1st, 1902. Its present Bishop is the Right Rev. Henry B. Restarick, D.D., who was consecrated
July 2d, 1902.
The current appropriation for the support of missions in Honolulu is $6,628. Some of the congregations are wholly, and others partly, self-supporting.
Gifts for missions in Honolulu may be designated "For work in Honolulu," and should be sent, in common with offerings for other mission work, to Mr. George C. Thomas, Treasurer, Church Missions House, 281 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y.
Copies of this leaflet may be obtained without cost from the Corresponding Secretary, 281 Fourth Avenue, New York, by asking for Leaflet No. 1,003.
First Edition, June, 1904. 2 M.