Gratitude for the Salvation that Anchors Her Life

The Villager, 2023

Each day, CBV resident Grace Webster is filled with a profound sense of gratitude that stems from both her unwavering religious faith and her positive affirmation that love, like food, “tastes better when you share it with others.”

That phrase, from a “Love is …” comic that hangs on her refrigerator, exemplifies the spirit of love and giving that guides Grace through her daily life.

Grace is very appreciative of all the employees at CBV, acknowledging that Pastor Mike Weber, Spiritual Director at CBV, is an important person in her life. He presents the Gospel message at every opportunity. Grace also did not realize how much she enjoyed the music during CBV’s chapel service (performed by the mother and daughter team, Julie and Joyce Ieron) until they had to stop coming to perform during COVID mitigations. Grace is very appreciative that Julie and Joyce are back spreading joy through their music.

Grace’s story of how her blessed life began starts in 1941 when a turbulent storm came up very suddenly while thirteen-month-old Third Sister (Grace’s birth name), her mother, and her aunt were passengers in a sampan (a flat-bottomed wooden boat) crossing the Pearl River in China. Many small boats capsized, including the sampan that Third Sister and her family were on. An old woman saw Grace float by and scooped her out of the water. After the storm, the old woman carried the baby to the Gospel Boat, a nearby medical dispensary where Gretchen Webster and other American missionaries were stationed. The old woman ran into the dispensary asking “Will someone take care of this baby? I picked her up as she drifted past my boat.” The woman then ran out as fast as she had run in.

Meanwhile, Third Sister’s mother had no idea where to look for her baby after the storm. The local people told her to go to the Gospel Boat because if someone found the baby, they would most likely have brought the baby there. And it was there that she reunited with her baby. Because World War II was going on, Third Sister’s mother pleaded with the missionaries to take in the baby because she had two more children at home and they had little money or food. The missionaries responded that the baby was too young, that they had no way of caring for it. So Third Sister’s mother took her baby home; that same night, Gretchen Webster was unable to sleep. She wondered what would happen to the baby. Not knowing where the mother with the baby lived, Gretchen had to pray that if it was the Lord’s will for her to keep the baby, He would bring the baby back to her. Early the next morning, the baby’s father brought the baby back and Gretchen knew that was the Lord’s will. That was the last time Third Sister saw her biological family.

In May of 1942, all Americans living in occupied areas in China were interned by the Japanese and most of them were exchanged for Japanese prisoners; Gretchen Webster was one of them. Before being taken away, Gretchen sent Grace and two other children she had taken in to an American-run orphanage in inland, unoccupied China. Gretchen and other missionaries moved the Gospel Boat from Canton to Hong Kong (at that time, Hong Kong belonged to the British). Grace and one brother and his wife joined Gretchen in Hong Kong later.

Ten years later, Gretchen wanted to return to America to rest and reconnect with her family and friends. Gretchen didn’t know what to do about Grace, who was still so young at the time, so she prayed about it. The answer to her prayer? A friend of Gretchen sponsored Grace to the United States as a refugee. Gretchen adopted Grace in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and Grace became a Webster.

Now Grace is here at CBV enjoying more of God’s blessings. She wonders why she is so blessed? There were so many needy children during and after the war but God had chosen her. Grace says, “By the grace of God, I am glad I was chosen.”

Inspired by her gratefulness and her love of giving back to her community, Grace participates in various activities and helps others at CBV in what could be described as “quiet” ways. Laughing, she calls herself a “pusher” because she helps push the wheelchairs to and from CBV chapel service. She finds joy in group art activities, especially creating projects like making a clothespin rocking chair and creating roses from cardboard egg cartons.

Gratitude also blooms for Grace in her tomato garden. She nourishes her plants and shares her harvest with other residents, leaving little bags of produce at residents’ doors. By giving back to her fellow residents in this way, she shares the talents that God has bestowed upon her.

Of her blessed life at CBV, Grace says, “There is a lot to be thankful for.”

Learn more about Assisted Living at CBV.