Biddy and Oswald Chambers: Tourists

touristsTourists would not be the first description that comes to mind about Biddy and Oswald Chambers.

Yet, they traveled together often.

They went with a purpose and worked, but occasionally took time off for some fun.

(The photo in the pinnable, by the way, is the only silly one of Oswald I’ve seen.)


They met on a boat, the SS Baltic, sailing from Liverpool to New York.

Oswald liked to behave as a tourist when he sailed. The ten days it took in 1908, enabled him to read, relax and stare at the sea.

He lived a perpetual whirlwind of travel at his volunteer job as the chief lecturer for the League of Prayer.

Oswald planned for his down time at sea, packing a case of books, his Bible, prayer list and concerns.

Biddy, however, had never been anywhere before. She planned the same voyage as a gateway to a new life.

It didn’t quite work out the way either expected.

Despite Biddy’s confident 25 years, her mother had  asked the kind, older family friend to look after her on that ten day transit.

Oswald set aside his books to do so–and they fell in love.


They next traveled together on the RMS Coronia out of Liverpool to New York, this time as Mr. and Mrs. Oswald Chambers in 1910 on their honeymoon.


In Egypt on the Mediterranean. (Photo courtesy Wheaton College Special Collections library)

Once in America, they traveled as far south as Denton, New Jersey, as far west as Ohio, as far north as Maine–Oswald was speaking at camp meetings.

During the one week they spent alone together, in the Catskills, Oswald dictated at least one article and perhaps an entire book to his stenographer wife!

Around the British Isles

Oswald returned as lecturer for the League of Prayer upon return from their honeymoon.

He trained between London, Stoke a Trent, Blackpool and Manchester. Biddy took notes of everything he said.

During their life together in England, they vacationed every summer, often with friends, at Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales.



Biddy, OC and Kathleen, Jimmy Hanson; Sphinx is obvious. (Wheaton College Special Collections library)

They did not travel to Egypt together during World War I.

Oswald went ahead to join the YMCA in Cairo, traveling on a troop transport ship. (Where he found privacy only in a lifeboat to study his Bible and pray!)

Biddy, two year-old Kathleen and friend Mary Riley voyaged through the same U-boat infested waters three months later.

While in Cairo, they saw tourist sites.

On three separate occasions, Biddy and Oswald rode camel  to the pyramids and Sphinx!

Two of those trips happened under the moonlight.

They visited the narrow granite obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle, not far from Zeitoun where they lived surrounded by ANZAC troops.

Like many, they stopped to see the Virgin’s Well near Heliopolis—allegedly the spot where Mary, Joseph and Jesus rested on the flight to Egypt. Kathleen loved the zoo at Giza.

Curiosity and a love of nature

Two intelligent, art-loving and curious nature-lovers made for perfect tourists.

Oswald loved to fish the streams of Askrigg and photos exist of both of them sitting on rocks and reading.

Vacation–which for Oswald included teaching small groups of people everywhere he went–relaxed them.

Travel certain made for the grand adventures they both enjoyed.


Biddy and Oswald Chambers: tourists. Click to Tweet

The UK, the US and Egypt–Oswald Chambers at home in the world. Click to Tweet

Every month in 2017, I’ll be telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions while writing Mrs. Oswald Chambersbiographer ancestry

The next newsletter comes out May 20: In which a friend sends me on a mission to meet a stranger in Scotland.

If you’re interested in reading about all those amazing coincidences, sign up for my newsletter here.

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