As two Maryknollers travel to Southern states on an expedition to share their mission work in China, they write back home to the Knoll to share the progress of their journey:
Last autumn, after ten years in the Maryknoll Kongmoon Mission, Fr. Robert J. Cairns, better known to his many friends as “Sandy”, returned to the States for a visit to his family. But even a decade of South China has not sapped the energy of our “Cheery Cathay Cairns”, and it was not long before he and another of our South China enthusiasts, Fr. John Toomey, embarked upon a “Field Afar Research Expedition”.
The following word of the “expedition’s” progress has recently reached us:
“Some three months ago, Fr. John Toomey went from Maryknoll, N.Y., to Worcester, Mass.; made a downpayment on the cheapest car available; drove the tin Lizzie back to New York; picked up Fr. Sandy; and both priests started on this assignment, to make the Chinese missions better known in the Southland.
‘Up to now’ we have lectured in churches and schools, and shown the Chinese ‘movies’ in the following states: New York, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, and also in the District of Columbia. While one of us drives, the other says his prayers; and when both of us have finished our Divine Office, we chat a while. Then one entertains the other with songs, to the accompaniment of the mandolin.
Bishops and priest along the route have been exceptionally kind to us, inviting us to be their guests during our short stay at each place. We have covered nearly six thousand miles, and have had no trouble with the car, though both of us are inexperienced drivers.
We hope to reach San Diego, Calif[ornia…] [T]hen we expect to return overland to New York, whence we shall embark for China, by way of Europe.
This is being written at Bishop Toolen’s Episcopal Residence, as we prepare to leave for New Orleans.
Best wishes, […] SANDY”
The Field Afar, September 1931, p. 248