The biography entitled, Lovingly, Ione, spans the lives of two remarkable people, Hector and Ione McMillan and the family they raised in the heart of Africa. Although much material has been lost through the years, thankfully over 1,500 letters, news articles, and other documents were saved by Ione, her mother, Leone Reed, various family members, and fellow missionaries and friends.
Some 35 years after their mother’s death, David and John McMillan began chronologically compiling everything they could find. In so doing, they discovered a rich treasure trove of their parents’ early days—love letters that brought Hector and Ione together, and photos and events they themselves knew little or nothing about. John accepted the enormous task of digitizing the material, energized by curiosity, anticipation, and inspiration. David and John felt privileged to be the first ones to read the story straight through. And what a story!
Although her husband, Hector, and her family play significant roles, Ione wrote most of the letters that make up the collection, so it seems fitting to view her as the subject of the story. She was a prolific letter writer who started writing at age 11 and continued right up to her death at age 63. All of the major events in her life are documented, often in detail.
Six years before her death she trimmed her mailing list down to 1,350 names—an indication of the volume of newsletters that were mailed out at every major life transition. In addition, she dutifully and lovingly responded to all personal letters written to her throughout her life. Pen and paper and her worn-out typewriter were nearby at all times. She was a passionate writer, as you will see, filling the pages with personal anecdotes, humor, and interesting stories and accounts of people she worked with and met on her journeys. She wrote while on buses, trains, boats, and steamships on the Congo River and the Nile.
In 1959, while at the Kilometer 8 Children’s Home, she wrote:
…..Last year Hector bought a desk file drawer for where I write letters, and it has been a useful remembrance of our years together. In it I have building project papers, children’s records, house boys, books, household purchases, letters to answer, letters answered, visitor’s book, valuable papers, stamps, envelopes, and a file for furlough addresses, etc. Also notes, diary, etc. for the book which will be written by someone someday, probably not me. I wonder if Mother will be too busy to take my ‘collection’ and do something with it. I have not said anything to her about it, but have carbons, etc. from when we first came to the field, and especially since the Children’s Home project started.
We have let Ione tell most of the story through her own words even though the flow might often get broken. Gaps may be caused by wartime censorship, lost letters, termite damage or hasty departures. Hopefully the gift of her writing will soften the bumps.
In an age of social networking where correspondence is easily and usually deleted, what a rare treat to have the lives of Hector and Ione McMillan, preserved to pass on to future generations.
A paperback version of the biography will be available by August 2020 where online books are sold. An e-book should be available here as a PDF download. When this occurs, the preview of the chapters will be eliminated.
Please contact John McMillan for more information or to be placed on the mailing list. Please provide your name, physical address with ZIP code, email address and telephone number and I will contact you when the book is available.