Debi Pearl:  Papa and I are going to record, so y’all go ahead and shut the door.

Child 1:  Ah! A spider!

Child 2:  Eww! Gross!

Child 1:  Get a shoe or something! I’ll squish it!

Child 2:  Ah, it’s going to bite me!

Announcer:  Welcome to our vintage archives collection. For a special treat, we are releasing the inspirational testimony of missionary and former prisoner of war, Darlene Rose, in five little bite‑sized pieces. Here is this week’s offering.

Darlene Rose:  There had an announcement on the radio by the imperial Japanese emperor, Hirohito, that there was to be a cessation of all fighting. I have seen pictures of the victory celebrations in San Francisco and New York and other big cities, and I thought that wasn’t the way it was that day. When they told us that they were going to make arrangements, when it would be possible they would take us down to Makassar, and then of course we would have to wait for the boats to come to evacuate us and they ask if I would come. He asked if I would come and I would take over translating, interpreting for the Japanese and the Australian and the Dutch and the Americans.

And I was translating for them. The Americans told us that the Philippines had over six months been free and why nothing was ever said to us, we were still their prisoners. I one day walked back up to the little shack up in the jungle. I heard the sound of a man’s voice. I looked and coming up the pathway was this young man all in white. My, he looked beautiful.

He was so squeaky clean, and here we were. We’d cut off our hair because we didn’t have any combs and because livestock was plentiful. We didn’t have any way to keep our hair dry, so we’d cut our, chopped our hair off very short. I was in my work shorts and a sleeveless blouse because everything else had burned in the bombing.

I looked at that man coming and he had shoes that were so highly polished that you could see yourself in them. I thought, “Oh, my, I’ve never seen such altogetherness in my life.”


When he got up next to me, he said, “Are you the American?”

I said, “Yes, sir, I am an American.”

He just looked at me and I know that I didn’t look like any American girl he’d ever seen. I was a mess. He couldn’t keep his eyes off my bare feet. He said, “Don’t you have shoes?”

I said, “Oh, no,” I said, “We’ve never had shoes. That’s all right because I like walking barefoot.”

He said, “I’m going to see that you get some shoes.” He said, “Oh, sorry,” he said, “I should have introduced myself. I’m Tom Sawyer and I’m with the American Navy.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “Sure, and I’m Becky Thatcher.”


But I didn’t know if he had a sense of humor or not, so I decided I’d better not. So, I said, “I’m Darlene Deibler from Boone, Iowa.”

He wanted to know what I needed and I said, “Oh, combs and soap, but most of all, we need food for the children.”

He said, “Can you mark out a place where I can do a free drop for you tomorrow? We’ll get you food and whatever else you need.” They did. I marked it out. I went to Mr. Umagi. He gave me the white cloth in order to mark out the space on this old rice field.

That day, when the friction‑type lid on the top of these tins, when the tin would hit the ground, that friction‑type lid would just blow off. Everything was pouring out of there, and the little children were screaming. They thought they were more bombs, and we tried to explain to them that those weren’t bombs, that those were containing food. I was out there with the rest of them.

We were trying to get these things up, and I found a can of sweetened condensed milk that had burst when it hit the ground. So I thought that’s a terrible thing to let that be wasted. So I pulled it out and what was left in there I ran it into my hand and then I licked it off there. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t long ’til it came back the other way. I say it’s the only time I ever enjoyed food going both ways.


Darlene:  Then one day they said, “Well, we’re going to take you now because the American boys have been flown out.” Those boys suffered as I have seldom heard of suffering. They were beaten with iron pipes, and sometimes they said it would be 200 times. The people would faint, and they’d pour water on them and beat them again ’til their bodies were like pulp. But they were flying those that had survived out to get medical aid. They said, “If you want to go, we’ll take you on the last plane load.” So I remember the day when I went down there with Miss Kemp. Miss Seely, we couldn’t get her to come. So she was being put in a place where they could look after her.

That day when I stood there, all I could see in my mind’s eye were two lonely crosses on a jungle hill. Under one was my husband. Under the other was Dr. R. A. Jaffray. They had taken the men on a death march, and many of them never came back.

I thought about that, and I thought, “Here I arrived on my first wedding anniversary, and I’m going home widowed at 26 with not a thing I can call my own. Even the clothes I have I’ve borrowed.” I said, “Lord, I don’t think I’ll ever come back to these islands again.”

Then I heard, as I stepped into this little boat to go out to the plane that was there anchored in the bay, I said, “Lord, I hear the sound of those running feet, but I’m not going to look at them. I’m not going to turn back and look at them. Then suddenly I heard them calling, then they began to sing. God be with you, ’til we meet again. I turned, and I looked. The tears burst out of me.

And I said, “God, that’s right. That’s why I came to these islands.” Not because I was Reverend Diebler’s wife. I came here because, one day as a little girl, I stood in a missionary meeting, the closing service.

I was about the second row from the back, all of the appeal was made for high school, and college young people. Nobody noticed this little girl with the brown hair, sitting there in the back.

When we stood up, and I heard the appeal made to them, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and looked, there was no one there, and I knew it was my Lord.

I said to him, Lord, what is it? He spoke to me and he said, would you go any where for me? No matter what it costs? I was so thrilled to think that God had even noticed me. I said to him that night. Lord Jesus, I’d go any where for you. No matter what it costs.

As I turned, I looked and God broke my heart. I called out to them, someday, I will come home again to you.

Took me three years, before I passed a physical. On the way home, they took us to Balikpapan. There they put us in the hospital.

That night I tell you, I didn’t realize what a terrible thing a bed was. That thing had a give to it. Every time in the night, when I would turn, that thing was turning over, I knew I was being thrown out, or it was an earthquake. I’d grab the sides of the bed.

I whispered to Margaret, Margaret are you sleeping? She said, I can’t sleep. Let’s get out and get on the floor.

I said, that’s a good idea. Let’s get out, and we’ll sleep there, then we’ll wake up and jump back into bed before all these nurses see us. We talked it over a little more, and said, what will we do, if they catch us on the floor? We decided we better stay in bed.

They had gone out and gotten pajamas for us. I said, we’re used to sleeping in our clothes. They said, tonight, you’re not sleeping in them.

All they could find, were some pajamas that belonged to these Australian troops. They were a very tall people, I remember putting on those trousers, and I got it right up to here.

[audience laughing]

I said, I don’t need the top. I thought, I won’t have much movement of my arms. I pulled it down, and rolled up the legs. Then I put my arm in this one and rolled it up till I found this hand, then I rolled this one up. Finally, we all laughed, and we were in bed. They said, tonight you’re not sleeping in your clothes.

The next day, after we had tea in the morning, here came a Jeep. They took us out and said, we’re taking you on the last plane load of each one of the hops between here and Manila. Then they took us up to Palawan Island.

I saw that large cemetery out there, white stones marking the place where many American boys laid down their lives.

I am a patriot, I believe in America. I’m glad that God allowed me to be born here. To learn about him, to have a bible.

When I was a child, I had a compulsion to memorize scripture. I memorized books of the bible, chapters, Psalms. That didn’t matter that they took my bible away from me. It was all there, God played it back to me.

I wonder if you lost your bible tonight, how well off would you be. You don’t know when it’s going to be taken away from you. Even to your hymns, I see you all with your hymn books up there in front of you, you should have it down here. God does minister to music, through music.

I remember when we got into Palawan Island, I looked down, we were still had the mentality of a POW. When I saw that white, white buildings painted white, all the men in white, I said to Miss Kemp, “They are not very well camouflaged.” There they were, and they were all in dress uniform. I thought, “They don’t know who’s coming. We’re just POWs. I wonder who they really expected.”

But when we got up there and there was a sidewalk up to this big dining hall, and there were men on both sides standing at attention, boy! My heart just burst with pride seeing those boys. Then when we got inside, someone struck up the band, and they started to play “Star Spangled Banner.” They unfurled that beautiful flag down in the center.

I’ll tell you, I went to pieces. [whispers] I just cried and cried and cried. They’d come up and they’d pat us on the shoulder, and he said, “Don’t cry. You’re free now.” I said, “I know, but there were so many times I thought I’d never see that beautiful flag.” They said, “Don’t cry. It’s all right. It’s all right. We’re going to have dinner now.”

I tried to straighten up my face, and I tried to get these clothes so they looked a little better because it was about a size 16 on a size six body. [laughs] I had taken a belt and tied it real tight and cinched it around. I bloused it up over the top of it so that the hem, the bottom of the hem, wasn’t down about to my ankles.

But when we walked in and I saw all that white linen on the tablecloths, and they put us up at the head table, everyone was smiling to us. I thought, “If I eat all this that’s here in front of me, I’m going to be sick, but it’s going to be worth it this time.”


Darlene:  Everyone was so pleased, and they just tried to do everything for us. That night they had outside a film that they were showing, and we sat down. I don’t remember anything about the film, but I remember the ice cream and the chocolates. [laughter]

Darlene:  Then the next day they were all out there ready to see us on our way. We were the last camp that was ever found, so this was the closing up of bringing the POWs in. Then we dropped down in Manila, and they said, “Here’s a bus.” I tell you, that man who drove that bus would have done well at the Indianapolis 500. [laughter]

Darlene:  We just hung onto the backs and the sides of the seat to keep from being rolled into the aisle of the bus. They finally got us there. One of the first things they did was to give us a physical, and they said, “Oh, my.” They laid out all these vitamins that we had to take and the medicine. I said, “Sir, after I’ve eaten all those I’m not going to need anything else. [laughs] I won’t have room for it.” Then they said, “Here, you go over. We’re going to see that you get a permanent.” I thought, “Isn’t that beautiful? I like doctors that write out prescriptions for a permanent.”


Darlene:  So they got our hair fixed up, and then they brought in the boxes from the Red Cross. The first place I wanted to find was the post office, and I went over. I said, “Would you have any mail for Darlene Diebler?” He looked. He said, “I’m sorry. I don’t.” I went back day after day. Finally he said, “Boy, I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t write to you.” [laughs] I was so embarrassed, I didn’t go back again until the day I was to be taken out. The ship came, the Clip Wontine. They had left us there for almost a month because they didn’t feel we were strong enough even to go on a ship. But finally they put us on. 23 days out. Outside of San Francisco. We were supposed to dock in San Francisco. We’d just gone in under the Golden Gate, and I saw all those lights of San Francisco. Everybody was so excited. “Oh, that beautiful city.”

I said, “I don’t care.” I said, “I don’t know anybody out here, no one at all. I had an auntie that lived down south, but I don’t know where she is. I don’t even know the address.” Everybody was oh‑ing and ah‑ing, and I was feeling, “Lord, what am I going to do when I get off this ship?” Then I saw the lights. “Oh,” I said to Margaret, “Don’t they know that a war’s on? No, it isn’t now.” [laughs] I was so fascinated with lights that you had turned on everywhere.

Then we were just getting ready to pull in, and suddenly the loudspeaker was turned on. They said, “We’re pulling out again because the whole harbor is full. There are no berths empty, so they’re going to take you on up to Seattle, Washington. There you will be taken off the ship.” I was so glad to spend another two days on that ship. That was known territory.

When I got off there, I hadn’t had any letter from my mother and dad, and I hadn’t heard from anybody. I thought, “When I get there, I don’t know where I’m going.” When we finally docked, it was Navy Day. They said, “Tonight we will delouse you, and then tomorrow we’ll start processing you.” I was glad to spend another night on that ship.

We were sleeping three deep in hammocks out on the deck. There were so many POWs of us. Then the next morning, I saw my friends leaving. I saw them going down the gangplank and meeting their families and their friends out there. I stood there at the rail and suddenly it struck me. The reason you haven’t heard from mother and dad is that they’re gone.

I went back, and I crawled in underneath of those hammocks. I said, “Lord, you took Russell. Did you have to take Mother and Daddy, also?” So sweet and my Lord spoke to me and he said, “My child, you can still trust me.” I said, “All right, Father. But I need to find a Red Cross woman. I’ve been looking for one all morning.” I said, “I haven’t seen them.” I came around the corner of the deck of the ship, and I saw a Red Cross woman. I latched onto her.

I said, “You wait a minute. Now you have to help me.” I said, “I’m a POW.” I said, “It’s been over four years. I haven’t heard anything from my father and mother. I don’t know where they are, but I need money. I’ve got to get back to Iowa to trace anybody from the family that’s alive.” She said, “Honey, what’s your name?” I said, “Darlene Deibler.” She said, “I’ve been on this ship all morning looking for you. I have three telegrams. They’re all from Mother and Dad.”

Man:  Amen.

Darlene:  I opened them up. Mother said, “We moved out to Oakland, California in 1942, and we knew you were on this ship. We wanted to get there in order to greet you. But when they took you on up to Seattle, we wouldn’t have time to get there. So we’ve sent money to the Western Union Office. You go there and you get that money, and you get a ticket on the train and come down. We’ll be here to meet you. You call collect as soon as you can get to a telephone.” I went to get my ticket first after getting the money, and I looked at everybody who was going by me on the street. I thought, “Oh, my. Just look at their coats. It’s all that real tight nap this year.” I looked down at this coat I’d gotten from the Red Cross, and I looked like a bear. It was a real long shaggy thing. I went back to the ship, and I asked the captain if I could borrow his razor. He looked at me rather puzzled.


Darlene:  I found a secluded spot on the deck, and I gave my coat a shave… [laughter]

Darlene:  …and it really looked pretty good. [laughter]

Darlene:  Then I went to the train station, and I went up to this window. I said, “Please, sir. I would like to have a ticket for Oakland, California.” He said, “My dear! Don’t you know a war has been on? Only Army, Navy, Air Force personnel travel.” I was just ready to faint. I say to her, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.” I said, “I’m a POW, and I just got here and I’m trying to get home.” “Oh,” he said. “We’ve got lots of tickets for people like you.” [laughs] I was in business again. Then I got over to a telephone, and my goodness! It wasn’t one of those things that just was on the wall, and you lift up the thing, and then someone says, “Number please.” I say here was this round thing there, and it had numbers and it had letters. I was standing there, and I thought, “Now how am I going to use this thing?”

Somebody who must have known how puzzled I was stepped up, and he just shoved the door open a little bit. He said, “Could I help you?” I said, “Yeah, I’m a POW. I don’t know how to operate that thing, and I’m trying to call my folks.” He said, “What’s the number?” I said, “This is the number.” So he called. I said, “Call collect.” So he rang it through for me.

You know, I’ve said so many times tonight, “The Lord spoke to me.” People say, “How do you know it’s the Lord?” This is the best illustration I know. When I got out the call went through and I heard the receiver going up on the other end, and I heard someone say, “Hello, Darlene,” I knew it was mother. Nobody ever said my name like mother did. I hadn’t heard her voice in eight years, but it was mother.

I said “Hello, mother.” And I couldn’t say another thing. She so calmly told me that my brother had just gotten in from Germany, in New York the night before, and he said “Mother, did you hear anything from Darlene?” And I said “Mm‑hmm.” And then she went on to tell me about my daddy and about everybody, and all I could say was “Mm‑hmm.”

I couldn’t answer, I was crying so hard. She said “Now honey, you just go and you just be sure that you get on that train, and we’ll be here to meet you.” I got, somebody told me that I really needed to have a good foundation garment. Well at that moment, I didn’t have a thing to girdle, but I went and I decided, I guess, on something that looked decent. I had gotten the money from the Western Union, and then I thought “I’m going to be on that train for a day and a night, and I better have a suitcase.”

And so I went and got a suitcase and a purse, and I put what little money I had in there. I got on that train, I suddenly realized at Portland, Oregon I had not told mother and dad what train I was coming in on. So it was two o’clock in the morning, so I went out and I found a man who would take my telegram. And I didn’t realize it was sent right through, it was phoned right through. I said “Kill the fatted calf, love, Darlene. I’m arriving at 9:30 tomorrow morning.”

Then I got back on the train, not realizing that it was being phoned directly through. And dad said when that telephone began to ring, mother jumped up. She ran to the telephone and he said, “All I could hear was ‘What?'” Then something would be repeated and she said, “What?” Then evidently the girl laughed and she said, “Have you not heard of the lost son, the prodigal son? The lost is found. Kill the fatted calf?”

She said, “Thank you” and put the receiver down quickly and ran in and shook my dad. They laughed. She said, “She’s all right. She hasn’t lost her sense of humor.”


Darlene:  Then the next morning when it rolled into the depot in Oakland, California, I was looking for two faces. I finally spotted my father at the time he saw me. He was waving to me. “Darlene, Darlene.” He always called me “Baby.” He said, “Baby.” He turned and yelled, “Mother, she’s here! She’s here!” My father came up, and he put his arms around me. Mother joined us. I said, “Daddy, Mother, I thought so many times I would never, ever see you again.” As I looked out over the tops of their heads, the sun broke through the clouds, those beautiful clouds. Suddenly I thought, “Oh, Lord. Someday those clouds will part asunder, and you will be there. I will know you. [pause] With the eyes of my spirit I’ve looked into that beautiful face. I have no regrets for any of the things that God has led me through.

I wonder about you young people. I was on a field where we had more graves than live missionaries. I’ll tell you this tonight. If you don’t know him, you aren’t going to make it. I look at young people like you, and I often think, “God, if someday you just call to me and say, ‘Come on home,’ I wonder who’s going to step into my place out there.”

Do you have a life to give for your Lord? He gave everything for you. I heard him call, “Come follow” and that was all. My gold grew dim. I rose and followed him. Wouldn’t you follow if you heard Him call?” I don’t count the cost anymore. I still say to my Lord at night when I lie down, “Precious Lord, I’d still go anywhere for you. The compensations are so tremendous.”

Announcer:  We hope you are encouraged and inspired by this portion of the testimony of Darlene Rose. As always don’t forget to check out our great weekly specials.

[violin music]


FREE Magazine - Subscribe Now!