December 1866 saw the new CIM missionaries (known as the Lammermuir Party) settling into their first premise in No. 1 New Lane in Hangzhou. Having arrived unobtrusively a month earlier, their goal was to lay low so as not to cause any disturbances. Hudson Taylor shared their hope that, “remaining as quiet and unobserved as possible (would) win the confidence of the people, as the first step towards admission and welcome into their homes.”
Sure enough, seeing these foreigners speak their language while eating and dressing like natives, helped the Chinese feel more at home with them. Within a month, the Lammermuir Party saw their new neighbours attending prayer meetings and services in the lodging, and some of the new missionaries even received invites to read with them!
Christmas approached. For a taste of home, the missionaries decorated their newly established private cubicles. As a treat, they also donned their “barbarian dress” once again and used western cutlery for a truly English Christmas feast. “Hudson Taylor ordered ‘many surprises’ for his CIM family. This included two pheasants, two haunches of venison (all cheap and plentiful), a very good plum pudding and two fruit pies.”
Two of the Lammermuir Party, Mary Bell and William Rudland were wed on Christmas Day that year. Following the wedding party, the CIM Missionaries at New Lane unpacked the boxes sent to them by family and friends at home. An excerpt recorded about the humorous celebrations that year reads: “There was something for everyone. A Christmas pudding, moldy and needing to be pared away until good pudding was found (a displaced paperweight had somehow sunk into it). Hammers and other tools were powdered with sherbet. Broken jam pots compounded the mess. Keys had been kept from rusting by sardine oil leaking over them.”
*Quotes and source from A.J. Broomhall’s The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy, 2005.