The Correspondence and Writings of Hector & Ione McMillan and Family: A Story of Adventure, Love, Faith and Inspiration
Letters compiled and transcribed (digitized) by John McMillan. Text condensing, commentary and developmental editing by Laureen Hemming and Veronica Windsor.
Editorial sections are shown in italics. All other sections in regular text are from letters and documents and are largely unedited.
February 2012 Editorial sections are shown in italics. Note: Please bear in mind that this story contains personal information which Ione and Hector McMillan meant to be read only by each other or recipients of their letters. However, the McMillan family feels they would have approved of sharing the story of their lives to others. It also contains personal information of relatives of living individuals. There may also be criticism of certain religious groups, strict disciplinary measures, and attitudes or comments that might be considered racial, offensive or inappropriate today. The letters were written during an earlier time to and from a central African country with a history of colonial and racial injustice.
Copyright © 2019 by John McMillan, Gig Harbor, Washington.
All rights reserved under Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the copyright owner. All inquiries should be addressed to John McMillan, 9816 Jacobsen Lane, Gig Harbor, WA 98332. email@example.com
A huge debt of gratitude from the McMillan family goes to Laureen (Walby) Hemming and her sister Veronica (Walby) Windsor for the many hours of condensing the volumes of text to a readable format and of providing background commentary between the letters to blend the story together.
Were it not for all those who saved Ione’s letters and documents, such as Ione herself, her mother Leone Reed, and the folks at the Unevangelized Fields Mission headquarters in the US, we would not be enjoying this story.
A big thank you goes to David McMillan and his wife, Becky as well as Ginny McMillan (Ken’s wife) for organizing over half of the letters and documents and making them available to me.
Compiling and transcribing (digitizing) the original document has taken me the better part of one year starting in March of 2011. Much support has also come from my four other brothers, Ken, Paul, Steve and Tim.
A special thanks to Mary Manning, my partner, for her patience during the time that I have been working on this project and our collective gratitude goes to Alice Manning, Mary’s mother, for the countless hours spent editing most of the original digitized document.
For all the letters, articles and notes coming from outside the immediate McMillan family that contributed information and shed light on this wonderful story, I would like to thank the following individuals or their living heirs on their behalf:
- Rev. Charles Baxter
- Florence Damant
- Pearl Hiles
- Dr. George Westcott
- E.J. and Lilian Pudney (Pudu & Ma Pudu)
- Lucille Petterson
- Leslie Goodman
- Laura Ambrose
- Doug Brock
- Viola Walker
- George Kerrigan
- Marcellyn Dawson
- Jim Carter
- Herb and Alice Jenkinson (Kinso & Ma Kinso)
- Mary Rutt
- Verna Schade
- Olive Bjerkseth
- Florence Selden
- Chester and Dolena Burk
- Betty Shultz
- Bill Biederman
- Bob Schmidt
- Doris Lashley
- Ralph Odman
- Al and Jean Larson
- Sonia Grant
- Bill Snyder
- Charles Sarginson
- The McAllister Family
- Sid Katz
- Frank Villafana and the Exhiled Cuban Rescuers in Miami
- Janet Ray
- Marilyn Carper (Wendler)
- Chuck and Muriel Davis
- Carol Larson (Urquhart)
- Larry Southard
— John McMillan
The Hector & Ione McMillan story you are about to read spans the lives of two remarkable people and the family they raised in the heart of Africa. Although much material has been lost through the years, thankfully, over 1500 letters, news articles and writings were safely put away by Ione, her mother, Leone Reed, various family members, 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 of their parent’s early days, love letters that brought Hector and Ione together, photos and events the sons themselves knew little or nothing about. John accepted the huge task of digitizing the material, but was energized by curiosity, anticipation and inspiration. The two sons 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. Ione was a very prolific letter writer. She started writing as early as age 11 and she kept writing 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 transition in her life and that of her family. In addition, she dutifully and lovingly responded to all personal letters written to her throughout her life. She even kept a log of the letters that needed to be answered. Pen and paper and her worn-out typewriter were never far from her at all times. She was a very passionate writer as you will see, filling the pages with personal anecdotes, humour, and interesting stories and accounts of people that she worked with and met on her journeys. She wrote while on busses, trains, boats, and steamships on the Congo River and the Nile. What a rare treat to have the lives of your parents and their 30+ years as missionaries, saved in letters, especially in a modern age of social networking where correspondence is easily and usually deleted and little is left to pass along to future generations.
As Hector wrote on September 28, 1942 while in Toronto to Ione in Congo, “I can readily picture you and Pearl gleaning rich blessing from the Word as you sat under the lofty panoply, surrounded by the hum of forest life. But most of all the simile of the crickets – how do you think of such apt descriptions, I have listened to crickets for years but never before did it occur to me that it sounded like the winding of watches, which is the very truth of the matter. I think that I will not be satisfied until you write a book. Maybe that is why you want me for a right-hand man…so I can bring you bread and water, and paper and ink while you produce compositions of international fame. But you better wait until you change your name before you become too widely known. About all McMillans are famous for up until now is that of being Scotchmen. Maybe they will have a break yet.”
Later on in 1959 while at the Kilometer 8 Children’s Home, Ione writes, “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 Lovingly, Ione 5 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.”
She was a remarkably strong woman. Other than a couple of extended periods on mission stations in the Congo, she lived most of her life ‘on the road’, but always retained her stylish appearance. As a single woman, she braved several years singing with the Sunshine Gospel Trio throughout the eastern United States and then committed her life to serving God in a foreign land. Her first calling was to China. When that mission field closed due to the war, the one in the Belgian Congo opened. She sailed across the Atlantic during the war years in the 1940s under black-out conditions, journeyed up the Congo River in colonial Belgian Congo and then for 3 years lived and worked on a mission station in the center of Congo’s vast, dark forest.
Hector, who came from a humble Scottish farming family in Ontario, Canada, was a practical, inventive handy man, with a humorous nature who was loved by those who lived and worked with him. Early in his life he also committed himself to the service of God and became an ordained minister. One of many suitors Ione had, Hector sweetly finds his way into her heart over a period of 4 romantic years of correspondence, most of which occurred while he was in Canada and she was in Congo. Their story-book wedding finally takes place, some 2,500 miles ‘up the Nile’ at Juba in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. This tropical romance endured, not only their correspondence courtship, but throughout their adventuresome lives together. They were both well suited to raise a large family of 6 boys, all born within a year apart, in the middle of the forest full of insects, night creatures, forest elephants, snakes, scorpions, and driver ants.
Individually and as a married couple, they were devoted Christians who claimed verses from the Bible every day to guide them and their children through the maze of challenges they faced. As missionaries they helped other missionaries so much that they were called ‘servants of the servants of God’ and were always eager to share their love of God and the plan of salvation to those in need.
Music was an important factor in their relationship. Ione, of course, was involved in music (her voice, piano, autoharp, and accordion) from her very early days all the way through her later years. Hector, as well, learned to play the guitar and was enraptured with Ione’s singing as we all were. These two vibrant lives came together to form a single, rich tone, much like the tines of a tuning fork.
Ione fittingly wrote to son, Ken from Rethy, Congo on January 28, 1971,”Today I tried getting up at 3 instead of 4 to get more supporters thanked. I love to write letters but do not like the cold, hasty way which only thanks but puts no interest & life into it. And this takes time & a clear mind. I want the dew of heaven to be in my letters as well as my life.”
Ione McMillan was an incredible Christian woman and lived a remarkable life. We know so much about Ione because she was a prolific letter writer and have some 1500 letters which testify to the life she led. Ione had a good career, doing what she really loved – singing; she was part of the Sunshine Gospel Trio which travelled mainly around the Eastern United States of America putting on performances and singing in Radio Stations. However, although she felt this was ‘God’s work’, she felt a calling to the mission field. Her original objective was China having been introduced to the work of Betty & John Stam. Unfortunately for Ione, that avenue was closed; however, when God closes a door, another opens. The door that opened for Ione was one to the Belgian Congo.
So Ione gave up singing with the Trio, having her hair permed regularly, and buying outfits in New York to live in the heart of Africa, a dense equatorial forest region where the humidity and heat destroyed what the insects left behind.
Ione’s timing for this venture coincided with America’s entry into World War Two so crossing the Atlantic was a feat in survival itself. A few months after Ione’s safe passage, the ship she travelled in was torpedoed and sank with loss of life which included other missionaries as well as the captain and crew members known to Ione.
In the months leading up to her departure, Ione was resident at the Unevangelized Fields Mission (UFM) American headquarters in the company of the mission leaders, Mr and Mrs Pudney. It was there she met Hector McMillan who was hoping to do missionary work in Brazil. Ione was not short of male interest, as a singer in the Trio she attracted her share of attention and was used to disarming men, and managed Hector with her own brand of humour. Ione did not want Hector or any other male friend following her to Africa for the wrong reasons. It was only after the door to Brazil was shut for Hector that she allowed Mrs Pudney to reveal that ‘she liked Hector a lot’.
Once Hector felt that God was leading him to His service in the Congo and he applied for such did Mrs Pudney intervene on Ione’s behalf. This was excellent news for Hector, he had taken an instant liking to Ione and he immediately put pen to paper.
It would seem that the path to happiness was not a smooth one; as Hector applied for the mission, he discovered he was eligible for active military service as a Canadian and would not be exempt for this just because he wanted to be a missionary so Hector became a leading Aircraft man. He went into Radio work
Hector and Ione corresponded regularly, Hector’s ever methodical system was to write on the second and fourth Sundays; he later started to write to Ione’s mother on the first and third Sundays, he said he needed the routine. However, postal services to the Belgian Congo during war time were not that efficient, some letters took months to arrive and then a whole lot would arrive at once. Ione kept all her letters to reread in times of ‘famine’. Eventually, they became engaged to be married through letters.
Whatever the problems Ione and Hector faced, and there were many, they always turned to the Lord for answers either in prayer or through reading the Bible. When Ione sent her acceptance to Hector’s proposal for marriage by cablegram, she used a reference Biblical Text (Ruth chapter 1 verse 16) and the word ‘yes’. Her use of biblical quotations to say briefly what she wanted to express to Hector was not without problems – especially in War time. Hector had to explain at the post office what the biblical text Lovingly, Ione 7 alluded to and meant before they would release the cablegram to him. The post boy at Hector’s barracks was also intrigued by Ione’s letters – he was a stamp collector and eventually asked Hector for some.
This is not just a love story, there is far more to the letters than that. Ione’s descriptive writing brings to life what living in a tropical equatorial jungle was really like. It’s not just learning a new language but learning different codes of communication;’ it’s about dealing with people who have a different set of values and ways of living. When Ione gets a good grasp of the language she sets about translating hymns and choruses into Bangala.
Then there is jungle life, lying in bed listening to chimpanzees howl in the night, finding a snake slithering under the bed and having the home invaded by driver ants on a migratory trail, to say nothing of the physical impact – acquiring jiggers under the skin on toes and feet, being infest by filarial worms and suffering amoebic dysentery and malaria. The heart of Africa is not a tropical paradise.
To live in such a country, one needs to be resourceful and clearly both Hector and Ione are; Hector takes his watch to bits to insert Ione’s face so she is always with him. How other Airmen envied him! Ione has to conjure up a way to get the roller on her typewriter to work when a spring breaks; at first she uses a pan but the noise of its clanging as each line moves up annoyed both her and her companion Pearl that another solution had to be found.
Ione was not one to dwell on her problems; she edited her letters and we find several descriptions of one event – the brutally honest versions to her sisters or Hector, the colourful aspects of her African life for her supporters so they have something of interest to read. To her mother, Ione is mainly positive, and strives not to cause her anxiety or concern filling the pages with her concerns for her mother’s welfare. Conversations undertaken in letters is difficult, unlike didactic verbal communication where a response follows swiftly, questions and answers become disjointed. Ione kept all her letters and recorded when they arrived in an attempt to deal with issues chronologically if possible.
Ione did not always get to do what she had set her heart on doing; she so wanted to be an evangelist but a great deal of her time in the Belgian Congo was spent looking after other missionaries and their children. Initially it was the Westcott family and again whilst Ione writes with love it is evident that Mrs Westcott resents her help and her capacity to care for Mr Westcott and the children. Ione does not give up or moan, she takes her troubles to the Lord in prayer and she stays the course and wins Mrs Westcott round to accepting her help graciously.
Ione and Hector had seven pregnancies; their first, a girl died in utero. They then had six boys and from the mid-fifties until 1960 cared for all the UFM missionaries’ children so that they could attend the Belgian School in Kisangani (Stanleyville). As they were resident in Kisangani, they also hosted all travelling and visiting missionaries and provided accommodation for them. To do this, Ione had to be an excellent manager and co-ordinator. Yet with all work she had to do she still set aside time to write, sometimes getting up very early in the morning to do this before the ‘real’ day kicked in.
Ione’s story is inspirational and humorous. We have let Ione tell most of the story through her own words. We have also used letters written to Ione by key people as they help to give a rounded picture. There are gaps, some due to censorship in the War, some due to termites and some due to rapid departures, hasty packing and only taking what one can carry when fleeing for her life. Lovingly, Ione 8
The UFM was a relatively small ‘faith’ missionary society that was set up in 1931, formed largely from missionaries working with the World Evangelistic Crusade and members of the Interdenominational Missionary Training College which included Reverend George Kerrigan, with whom Ione and Hector work closely once they reach Congo. ‘Faith’ missions relied on God to provide for all their needs, they did not actively tout for funds but prayed to the Lord for provision of all their needs. The UFM was set up in the UK, and Mr and Mrs E.J. Pudney were asked to go to Canada and establish a centre in Toronto, they then moved to America in 1941 to establish a base there. The Mission eventually had 4 major centres, London, Toronto, Philadelphia and Melbourne, Australia. They eventually had mission fields in Congo, Brazil, what was then known as British Guiana, British New Guinea, Dutch New Guinea, and Haiti and Dominican Republic. More recently other ‘fields’ have been established – Cote d’Ivoire, Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia etc.
The Mission adopted the hymn ‘Great is thy Faithfulness’ which was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923. Thomas has been a missionary for a year before ill health made him retire, yet he felt God’s guiding hand in everything and wrote the hymn based on Lamentations Chapter 3 verses 22-24:
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.
– Laureen Hemming
Ione, The Early Years
Ethel Leone Reed woke at 5 in the morning and knew instinctively that it was Sunday, the day that the Lord had given for rest and peaceful contemplation. This would be possible of course for all the household chores had been done; her whole home was clean, neat and tidy. Even the old laundry stove in the utility room, which not only heated water but kept the house warm in the winter, had been raked out and polished with black lead until it looked almost like new. In this contented and carefree state of mind, Ethel, who was known as Leone by all the family, reached out her hand through the bars of the baby’s cot beside her to caress her little daughter. Immediately, she was wide awake as she realised that the cot was empty. In panic-stricken horror she thought that someone must have come through the patio door in the bedroom that opened onto the yard and had stolen her baby but when her husband, Arthur, in a similar state of panic checked on the door, he found it was still locked from the inside. An eerie silence lay over the whole house as together they began a frantic search through the whole house. They searched through the library, the living room, the parlour, the sewing room, on into the dining room and eventually into the kitchen. There, sitting atop the freshly cleaned stove was their beloved Ione. She was playing with the damper in the stove pipe with one hand while maintaining her balance with the other by holding on to the cold chimney. Her excited little face and Dr Denton health sleepers were smeared with stove blacking and her parents could do no other than clutch her in their arms in pure relief and joy. This voyage of discovery at such a tender age was the first indication of the remarkable spirit of adventure that was to become such a feature of Ione’s long and eventful life.
It all began when Marguerite Ione Reed was born on August 17th, 1913 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was a Sunday evening, 8.30p.m. to be precise, and both of her grandmothers were in attendance, excited and honoured to be present at the arrival of a healthy 8-1/2 lb baby girl who had long, straight, black hair. Ione, the name she would always be known by, was in fact the second daughter of four to be born to Arthur Stewart Reed and Ethel Leone Reed. In the years to come Leone always maintained that the first few months of Ione’s life, unless she was sleeping or feeding, had been spent crying lustily. She was not unhappy or in pain but merely exercising her vocal chords in readiness for a life that would be filled with song. This state of affairs did not last long and she soon displayed her sunny and loving disposition; another characteristic that would stay with her for the rest of her life. However, it was not always joy and happiness; there were lessons to be learnt as with all children. On one occasion, Leone had taken her daughters to visit their great grandmother when Ione was not quite a year old. Ione spent the day crawling all around, making new discoveries and revelling in all the lavish attention. When it came time to be fed, she was given her bottle but so intrigued was she with all the excitement, that she refused to take it. Thus began a battle of wills and, despite a spanking, Ione showed steely determination and continued to refuse the bottle. Leone was about to concede when her grandmother came into the room and cautioned her not to give in as the battle would only have to fought another day and, the older the child the more difficult that battle would be. And so with both Leone and the wailing Ione, the conflict raged on until Ione finally gave in. Such were the guidelines in parenting at the beginning of the 20th century when the adults would not even consider that their earlier actions and attentions had caused the hyperactivity in the child in the first place and her subsequent overtiredness! Attitudes towards the discipline of small children have changed over the years but it is perfectly clear that, for the rest of her life, Ione would always follow the instructions of those she perceived to be in a position of authority over her, be that human or divine, even if those wishes went against her own personal convictions. This would ultimately lead her into a most unique missionary service that at first she did not want but which ultimately she appreciated had real value, as did all the rest of the U.F.M. missionaries who depended on her and her special talents to care and provide for not only her own children but so very many others and more besides. Whilst never openly disagreeing with the discipline that she witnessed at the home for missionary children, she did sometimes refer to it in her letters home and hope that the children would understand the reason for it.
The whole of Ione’s life was spent travelling from place to place, creating one home after another. Her nomadic lifestyle began at an early age, moving with the family and her father’s employment when she was three years old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Eire, Pennsylvania, and then on to Washington D.C. in the following year. She was singing war time songs such as ‘Keep the home fires burning’ to small groups of soldiers and their families while her father was an instructor in the Navy yard and she seemed to enjoy ‘performing’. Within two years the family were on the move again to Pontiac. There she sang her first alto part in a duet with her sister during the Sunday morning church service. The years spent in Pontiac were a settled time for a while and the friendships which were forged there were to last for her lifetime. These friends and her city church would play a huge part in her support system when she eventually became a missionary. Her recovery from a serious bout of pneumonia when she was eight years old and from which she almost died was an early sign that the Lord had her life in His hands and more than that, He had the rest of her life planned out should she choose to follow His calling. Happily for the many people she would meet and help along the way, she was pleased to obey God’s calling. Many years later she recalled,
“Perhaps some of you remember when a group of us organised ‘The Gospel Messengers’, a little group who met regularly for prayer and then went out to meetings around Pontiac, and during evangelistic campaigns did personal work. I have just found in my diary for November 1931 an account of one of the first persons I dealt with; a man who sat near my mother and me in an evening service. I spoke to him and he was very gruff in his reply and scared me so I cried and didn’t want to talk to anybody after that. Then a few days later, I got up enough courage to go to the inquiry room and ask if I was needed there, and when they let me come in and help deal with those who came forward, lo and behold, I found there my ‘gruff’ man!! This was a real encouragement to me.”
It had been while she was still just at senior school that she had decided that in order to be a true ‘Christian’ she needed to know more of God’s word in the Bible and to distance herself from more worldly pursuits. The way to achieve this goal would be to attend the Moody Bible Institute as long as the necessary funding could be found. As would happen so often during her life, the money for this undertaking came right at the eleventh hour and her ambitions began to be realized. Her connection with her parents and, by now, three sisters was very strong and though she longed to be with them to rejoice in the good times and help out in the not so good, she had committed herself to the Lord’s service and, having joined the Moody Bible Institute in 1932, found herself sometimes far from home and constantly on the move as one member of the singing group, ‘The Sunshine Gospel Trio’. Ione had a beautiful singing voice with a bell like clarity and an instinct for harmony. Together with Genevieve Burns and Otila (Tee) Mauch, they traveled around thirty-three states as part of an outreach project, singing gospel songs, giving talks and testimonies as to the effect of the Lord upon their lives. As befitted girl bands of the time, they were dressed in matching outfits which were both stylish and fashionable and which fulfilled Ione’s notion of always looking her best as well as doing her best.
“The picture I’m sending is not good of the trio, but it shows you our new uniforms. My dress looks funny but I think it’s the way I’m standing. The dresses are tan with black satin tops. In a week or so I will be sending for some of my summer things, for we shall be quite far south in Ohio and it gets warm early. I’m planning to buy a new spring suit or coat. I’d like a tan and blue outfit. I’m tired of grey.”
It is during these travels that her letter writing habit begins whenever and wherever the opportunity arises to keep in touch with her beloved family and friends and to also include a line of Scripture that emphasises just what it was that she wanted to convey.
In September, 1935, on the occasion of her father’s birthday, she writes home and to him in particular,
“’Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy’ Phil.1.4…….With it comes all the love and tenderness that can come from a daughter to a father. I hope this may be the happiest birthday you have ever had and that as you are gathered around the supper table, having worship together, that your hearts may all be knit together in that bond of love. I will be there in spirit also. Will you turn over to Deuteronomy 8:2 and read it saying fifty years instead of forty?… ’And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee and to prove thee to know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or no’……How I thank my God for a Christian father and mother who are praying for me as I go from place to place”
She goes on to ask after all the family and to say how much she has missed them all. She provides them with some graphic information about a trip to the dentist and finishes by suggesting that they might be able to hear some of her work with the Sunshine Trio if they might be able to listen to a particular radio station at 8.20 in the morning.
Her singing and good nature brought her compliments from many directions. She was working in Wilmore, Kentucky when an unsolicited letter came addressed to Miss Reed from Reverend Clarence Baxter who desired to become Ione’s pen pal!:
Ione Reed – c1935
“May the sweet melody of your voice and your graceful poise, if nothing else, serve as an excuse for informally intruding upon the good nature of a young lady by addressing her without ever having been introduced to her. I sat in the auditorium of Ashbury College and listened to you sing. It so thrilled and enthralled me that if I ever had the privilege of hearing Jenny Lind (the acclaimed Swedish Opera singer of the late 1800’s – who toured America with P.T. Barnum) sing I could have praised her no more than I do you. Heaven was close the morning your sweet voice rang forth, as clear as a bell, in those sweet anthems. Your speech also was delivered in a superb way and it carried a thought that made me desire your friendship. ………..I would count it a great joy to meet you someday. May I at least receive a response to this letter and I shall not feel disappointed.”
It was indeed an era when letter writing was something of an art form and that particular demonstration of unrequited love had come from a reverend! Ione was not short of suitors to whom she would write back at first, but soon found that absence did not always make the heart grow fonder.
“when I saw him at Founder’s Week Conference I loved him, or thought I did. Then when he left, I found out I got along nicely without him…..”
Of another she wrote to her sister:
“The one young man here who likes me and is nice looking asks me continually for dates and was over to the house the other night after the service but I just don’t dare date him. If I did all the young women would go back on me, for they all like him. He is real tall, dark curly hair…..an Englishman. But I know he will be bald one day and he is not dependable nor a good provider: besides I don’t care for him.”
And thus another suitor fell by the wayside. The irony is that when she did fall in love, the man would himself be bald! If Ione ever felt confused by her emotions, she would ask her mother’s advice and would be answered by return of post and on one occasion with short shrift.
“She reprimanded me for continuing Bob’s friendship when I would never marry him. She said ‘I would rather see you go to China’”
This last is a reference to Ione’s decision to go and be a missionary in China. The martyrdom of John and Betty Stam in that country had fuelled her enthusiasm and she was hoping to persuade her family to approve. Her mother most certainly did not and this last comment, apropos the poor suitor, was the thin end of the wedge that Ione needed to get her family on side. She waited until her next visit home when she
“learned that the folks in my church, including my family, had obtained a real vision of the SCBM (South China Boat Mission) through Helen Western, recently returned. They were willing for me to go to China, provided I go with her. So I am now about to fill out my application blank. I do it prayerfully and with much consideration for although I have looked forward to it for two years, it is too big a step to take lightly. And in doing so I say, as did Spencer Walton’s: ‘I desire nothing but the will of God; nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.’”
But China and her missionary work there is still some time away. In the meantime she continues travelling, singing and witnessing, all the while missing her family and wishing that she could do more to help them back at home. Sitting in the Wacker Hotel in Chicago in February 1938 she pours out her heart in a letter to the whole family:
Greetings from Chicago in Jesus’ precious name!!
We arrived yesterday on our way to our next meeting in Wooster. Tee wanted a few days’ rest in Benton Harbour, so she went home and Genevieve and I are leaving tomorrow night. It is good to be here again. Genevieve and I sang this morning over WMBI (the Moody Bible Institute radio station). Mr Loveless asked us to sing. When he came into the studio he asked the first thing how my mother is; he remembered your letter and sent his greetings. He certainly is grand.
Your Special Delivery came Saturday morning. Was I ever glad to get it; it had been three weeks and I felt sure it must be because of sickness. You certainly have all had a siege of it. I tho’t if Mother was too ill to write that Marcellyn would; but I guess Marcellyn has not been feeling so well herself. If I only know how things are there is some consolation, even though the report is not so good, but it is silence that I just can’t stand. I waited until Friday to see if my hearts came and when they didn’t and still no letter by Friday afternoon, I was surely worried. It was such a relief to get your Special (delivery package).
We finished our work at Olney Sunday night with a packed house. The Lord blessed us much while there, but there were few visible results. I know of six who accepted Christ, and about a dozen who reconsecrated their lives to the Lord. The work was mostly among the young people and many came to us individually and said they had given up worldly amusements. The pastor was very slow and not accustomed to giving invitations. We were very impatient with him. On the last Sunday afternoon we took full charge of a young people’s meeting and afterward people came to us and said they wished that we had had full charge all through the two weeks. I know there would have been more results. But there was nothing we could do about it. The people gave us a fine offering ($171), and a cordial invitation to come back.
Monday night we held a service in Martinsville, Illinois, the place where our trio was three years ago when little Esther was born. You remember? We had a wonderful time. Two hands raised. Offering was $30. I guess the Lord knows that Tee needs money. The money I am enclosing is to begin straightening my debts at home. The $10 money order is tithe money for Marcellyn’s Moody fund, to be put in bank. The 5 is to go on my loan from Mother and Papa, leaving $65yet, I believe.
Our meeting in Wooster is in the Church of God, beginning Sunday, to last for two weeks, address c/o Rev. S.F. Bauders, 229E. Henry Street., Wooster. I expect to have children’s meetings quite a bit now. When we go to Greensburg, Ind., in March I will have 300 children.
Bob (Arthur) writes me very regularly. He told me when he wrote to mother and that he had a hard time writing it. He felt it was asking a great deal and he didn’t know what the answer would be, but he would take it, whatever it was. I think, Mother, that you should write him and tell him that you cannot give your consent because you do not know his background or him well enough. I don’t know why I always mess things up so and make it so disappointing for you at home. But can’t we fix it up by extending the time and seeing how things come out? It’s not necessary to come to any decisions now. Just tell Bob to wait for a number of months or until our Trio work finishes. Tee says that will be a year from April. But I have told Tee that if the China situation clears up before then, I would feel constrained to go to China. I think that Bob and I can continue writing without definite plans for the future. I don’t know why I always rush into things so and am so inconsistent. I just let my feelings rule me. And the worst of it is that my feelings for Bob have not changed in the three weeks since I saw him. I think you should write him soon, if you have not already. And please forgive me for causing you heart aches. I’ll be in a steady grind of meetings from now on and perhaps I’ll reach a more sober point of view.
……..I hope this letter finds things better at home. The girl should certainly be able to cook if you pay her that much a week. Mrs Savage’s (Rev H.H. Savage of Pontiac was a member of The Unevangelized Field Mission Council, an organisation Ione would later become more closely associated with) girl did the cooking. I think you are too easy on the girls that work for you. Mother shouldn’t have to do a thing about the house, but plan the meals, the budget, clothes, perhaps mend and write letters to me!! I think it’s a pity for Mother to have to worry about all the details of the house. And Lucille shouldn’t have to bear it either. She has enough. If I felt that it weren’t possible for you to get along at home, I would quit the Trio and come home, but it wouldn’t be right and I don’t think it’s necessary, even if Mrs Peterson (Lucille’s mother-in-law) thinks so. If I didn’t know of hundreds of families who carried on while their mothers were sick, I would feel I had to do something about it. And if things don’t go right with a girl, it would be better for Marcellyn to quit her job and come home, for she doesn’t make so very much more than Papa would have to pay a girl. I want to see her get started at Moody, and I think she will anyway, for I think the Lord will give me enough to help her for her first term. But, what makes me disgusted is that everything has to fall on Mother, when things could be easily lifted with a little planning. I’d far rather be home all the time than to be so far away from you all and it’s not easy to be separated week after week without hearing. There’s nothing that bothers so as to know that things aren’t going right at home. I just want to drop everything and come. When I got your letter Saturday I said to the girls that I had better just take ten dollars and go home instead of stopping in Chicago for a rest, but they persuaded me not to. I guess I shouldn’t be so blue about everything, but I couldn’t help it, and then knowing that I was causing extra heart aches. But I know that everything will come out all right, for Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible! ‘All things work together for good, to them that love the Lord.’
I’ll be looking for a letter in Wooster when I get there. I’m stopping overnight at Genevieve’s home Friday. I’ll be glad to meet her folks. She said not to expect much; they’re just common folks, no furnace, outside toilet, typical farm home, but in a small town.
I want you to know that I love you all as much as a daughter can, and I am always longing to see you. My prayers go up for you continually. I want God’s best in my life and that I’ll never disappoint you. May the Lord bless you and keep you while we are absent one from the other!
‘I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’”
Ione’s ministry with the sunshine Trio lasts for seven years until 1939. All the meetings she takes part in, the broadcasts and the work with children are, without a doubt, the Lord’s preparation for her eventual work as a missionary. Constantly travelling around from state to state, she misses her family desperately but is still able to visit home intermittently. When her mother falls ill she feels that she ought to go home and help but learns another valuable lesson, that her family could manage quite well without her as many other families had had to do at times. When letters did not arrive from them, it was good training for having to wait far longer at the mercy of foreign postal services. In her personal life she was also learning where her priorities lay. Though she castigates herself for her indecision regarding her relationship, she holds fast waiting for the will of God and does not bow to the pressure she is being subjected to. She writes to her sister,
“I received a letter from Mrs Bliss and she said maybe I’d have to wait until I get to China to meet the man I want.”
China is by now her vocation and destination of choice and it is only the lack of the correct necessary travel documents that has kept her working with the Trio. She learns how to cope with the disappointment when others did not make the most of the opportunities presented and how to deal with that situation. She shares with her family and others the topics that went well in the meetings and props that she used so that they can benefit from her experiences.
“My dearest Sister and Brother,
Greetings in Jesus name!
I guess you think I have forgotten you. When I last saw Lucille in Pontiac – four weeks ago! – I promised to send some children’s meeting information. You will be receiving a packet of Object Lessons next week sometime. I’m sure they’ll be of help to you. The Creed I use in every meeting is;
I believe in God above,
I believe in Jesus’ love,
I believe His Spirit true
Comes to teach me what to do;
I believe that I must be
True and faithful, Lord, to Thee.
This is done with motions, pointing ‘up’, to ‘heart’, ‘out’, to ‘self’ and ‘up’ respectively.
Most of the songs I use are in Pinebrook Chorus Book. I am using the enclosed Assurance March for our Children’s Night this evening. There will be about 50 children taking part.
For the heart system of teaching Scriptures I use the following;
Black heart – Sin – Romans 3:23 (For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.)
Red heart – Jesus’ blood – 1John 1:7 (…and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.)
White heart – Clean heart – Isa. 1:18 (Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red as crimson they shall be as wool)
Green heart – Growing Heart – 2 Pet. 3:18 (but grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour)
Gold heart – Heart of Glory – Col 3:4 (then shall ye also appear with Him in glory)
The enclosed hearts give you an idea. You can make your own. Then I have large hearts for the children to hold. This enclosed group should by rights be pasted together. I use transparent tape around the edge.
(In later years pieces of coloured paper would be pasted together in such a way as to make a tiny booklet, without words, but with the coloured pages signifying that we are all sinners who can be saved by the blood of Jesus, whereupon our souls will be spotless and should remain so by growing through God’s good grace until we all are reunited in the glory of God. The colours denote the sequence and remind us of verses from Scripture and the booklet constantly with us is a reminder of how we should live our lives. It also proves useful in foreign countries as there is no need for translation)
The blue sheet enclosed is my daily program, the underlined being my stories. The Boosters and Broadcasters are two opposing sides, seeking for new members. I trust this will be of some help to you.
We are having fine times here. Many have been saved. Monday we go to Marion, Ind. For two weeks. Pray for us. Write to me c/o Rev Robert J. White, 1st Baptist Church.
I’m still waiting to hear what Mother’s plans are. I have May 16-20 free and will be in Chicago or Benton Harbour and could come home, but Mother said it might be better to send the money I would spend for fare. What do you think?
I would love to see you and the children. I miss you all so. Write me soon. I am feeling fine. My greatest burden is for lost souls; my greatest joy is my Saviour!
The Lord bless you – always.
In His Service, Ione. 3 John 2.”
Ione’s letters to home are full of the love that she has for her family, the following written on Mother’s Day, 8th May 1938:
“How I long to be home! ‘Tis there I know I’d find the dearest Mother in all the world. There are so many things I’d like to have given you, Mother, but I know all you want is our love. And I do love you very much, Mother.
And when I think of Mother I always think too of Papa, for he means so much to me. Nothing makes me happier than to know that I have a Christian father. I look forward to the day when there will be no more separations, but we’ll all be together in Heaven, – or on Earth if He comes soon.”
Sadly, on October 20th, 1938, Ione’s father died and she writes a poem for him in his memory.
ONLY A DAD with a tired face
Coming from the daily race
Bringing the little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and hear his voice.
ONLY A DAD with brood of four
One of ten million men or more,
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and scorns of life
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home wait.
ONLY A DAD, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging Crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way.
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn
And bearing it all for the love of them.
ONLY A DAD but he gave his all
To smooth the way for his children small.
Doing with courage stern and grim,
The deeds which meant sacrifice for him,
This is the line that for him we pen
ONLY A DAD, but the best of men.”
At the same time Leone needed an operation and this also was a cause of concern for Ione; should she go home to be with her or send the money to pay for a special nurse for a day.
“I am trusting the Lord for this operation. I believe He will see you through, Mother. It takes courage, but ‘He doeth all things well’. Dr Horulett is a good doctor and I have confidence in him”
Her confidence is well placed and the operation is a success.
“I hope you are feeling better this morning. I’m glad Mrs Williams can stay Monday and Tuesday. That takes a load off my mind. But you must be quiet Mother and not expect to be well too soon. Marcellyn said she would keep close watch on Doris (Ione’s youngest sister) and I am confident that she will manage things at home.”
In April 1939, Ione is at the National Bible Institute in New York. With her adventurous spirit she finds the big city exciting and full of possibilities.
“The sub ways are the most used and they are crowded! You have to run like everything and push if you get in one. And when you get into the car you’ve got to sit immediately if there’s a seat. I stopped to straighten my coat and sat on a Jew! Getting the last seat in the car is like Grandpa Snazzy with eleven forks in his hand! ….. We had meetings every night last week but in the daytime saw many places of interest. One day we saw Harry Emerson Fosdick’s Riverside Church. He is America’s leading modernist preacher. The church has a high carillon tower with the largest bells in the world. One bell weighs 20 tons. We also saw Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, and National Jewish Theological. Another day we took a nickel ferry to Staten Island, which passed the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Battery Park. We happened to pass the huge ocean liner ’Queen Mary’, one of the two largest in the world. It was thrilling….. Today we are going to take a bus and ride through Harlem. Maybe we’ll see some black people!”
If only she had known what the future held for her. Nevertheless, the work of singing, taking services and broadcasting on the radio is always of more importance to her. She constantly asks to be remembered in her family’s prayers that there will be a continuous program of places to go and people to minister unto. There was still time to indulge in some retail therapy though.
“We went shopping and found some cute dresses – a shade of purple and rose combination. I had to get some $1.98 patent leather pumps to go with the dress! We had an important meeting that night. ……We wore our new dresses. Mr Olsen (Vice President of the Fitch Investment Co) announced from the platform that we looked just as sweet as we sang!”
The suitors are still there in abundance, one called Ernie,
“sent me a deluge of letters the last few days and his letter this morning asks me whether I have decided I want to marry him. I’m not ready for such a question for I hardly know him but if I can’t stall him off until I know him better and if he won’t wait for his answer I’ll just have to say ‘No’ – as much as I like him. I wish you could meet him, Mother, and tell me what you think. In the meantime, pray for me.”
Two weeks later, the poor young man was in hospital with appendicitis and still desirous of an answer to his proposal. Ione wrote to her mother,
“Pray for ‘E’ now in the hospital, and for our friendship. I think it won’t work…. He isn’t as refined as I’d like him to be!”
In the meantime, there are places to go and new experiences to try out. One day the girls all went to the World’s Fair. There, having paid 75 cents to get in they happen upon the Bell Telephone exhibit and as they enter the building are asked if they would like to sign up for a demonstration of a long distance call. They leap at the chance and are first among only150 people that day who were able to use the new technology. Ione, of course, rang her mother and sister and could have talked all day. But the day gets even better. “
After this exciting time we strolled around the building and came to a room where they asked us if we would like to record our voice on a steel tape and hear it again. We said ‘Sure’, so we stepped up in line. We told the man we were a trio and he said, ‘Oh fine, we’ll see that you get in!’ This too was supposed to be just certain ones to get to do it (just five at a time) but we got it right away and when our group of five came out we were instructed what to say by a man. The other two were students at Columbia University, young men. We had two minutes all together. The man would ask questions about what we did and what we were interested in. Then he asked us to sing and we sang ‘Every day with Jesus’; when we finished he said, ‘Fine, sing another, there is time!’ So we sang ‘In my heart there rings a melody’. There were about 150 people listening then, and when we finished, the tape was reversed and we sat down with the audience and heard it repeated. So we really sang four times and gave the Gospel message to that many people!! I can’t tell you all the wonderful things and buildings and exhibits we saw after that, but it was well worth the money. It cost me a dollar all together.”
they stayed at the Fair all day until 8.30 P.M.
“We were very tired and it was hard to get up the next morning.”
The cost of the day out was a bargain given the experiences they had had but money is regularly a subject for some slight concern. Everyday living in New York was more expensive than they had thought, especially all the travelling on the subway. They walk as much as possible but
”I wear out about a pair of stockings a week. We have to go such long distances to our meetings….and it takes so much walking that my sox are gone before I know it. And I have to have my hair set oftener. I had to borrow $17 of Tee by the time I got my check, which, by the way, came late. The $17 was for our new uniforms ($7), patent leather pumps to go with it ($2), hair sets twice ($2), stockings about $2.50, $1 at the Fair and the other $2.50 for little things such as powder, both talcum and face, etc”
Ione would have liked to send money home to help out the family and also to fund her sister’s hope of going to the Moody Institute but New York was so much more expensive and the girls felt they needed to maintain their appearance in order to do better work as a trio. Ione feels cut off from her family once again and complains to them for not writing to her, prompting them with a tirade of questions about life at home.
“How does Marcellyn like her job and does she work steady? Is Flora still staying with us? How much does she pay? Do you have the garden in yet? And did Doris get her new coat and hat?”
But she cannot stay cross with them for long and soon is telling them of more adventures in the city.
“Tuesday night we again had a free night so a returned missionary whom we met before in Pana, Illinois, took us to Chinatown and the Bowery. We wouldn’t have gone without him, for it would be very dangerous. It’s the worst section of town. We went in the Midnight Mission where so many wonderful Christian leaders were saved and saw how it was transformed from an opium den. There were still the three arched passageways which led out formerly to various places in the city where the elite of N.Y. went through to keep from being known. A Chinese woman always prepared the opium for the society people, for if they prepared it themselves they might take too much.
The man who was explaining said these passageways were rat-infested and very terrible to see. As he was talking we heard an awful scratching sound. It was about a foot from me where I was sitting, in a box beside me. I jumped about two feet in the air it scared me so; I thought a rat was coming out. I didn’t land in the same seat when I came down but made sure I was sitting further away, on a seat on the other side of the missionary! I peeked around at it and lo!…a scrawny, dirty old cat crawled out!
When we were out again a drunk man molested us until we had to call a policeman to steer him off; he was begging for money. Then, when we had seen a Chinese temple, the quaint shops, the ugly filthy grocery stores, we went to the Bowery. Nothing happened there for we hurried through, passing terrible looking men with beady eyes, slinking in the shadows. When we got within a block of home we were complementing ourselves on getting through Chinatown and the Bowery without seeing anything so terrible, when all of a sudden, we looked just ahead of us and a man was laying on his face right in front of the gutter which had about an inch of water. His head was just under the curve of the back wheel of an auto. Three men were looking at him and debating what to do; they wanted to move their car but didn’t dare touch him until a policeman came. We were waiting a few minutes when another man came and said, ‘I know him; he’s an epileptic; has those spells often; don’t worry about him.’ He turned to go and so did we, but just then a policeman came. He dragged him up on the walk, more like an animal than a man. We drew closer and looked at him just as the cop turned him over and when we saw his face we were shocked. It was all bashed in and bloody and he was dead! The cop took his pulse and shook his head, but said, ‘I’ll call an ambulance anyway.’ So he went to the drugstore and took one man with him for a witness as to how the man was found. That’s all we saw but that was enough to haunt us in our sleep! We had to come all the way back from the slums to have that happen.
I hope this letter doesn’t make you have bad dreams. I really must close and get the other 23 letters I owe! Have you heard from Lucille lately? I don’t think I’ve heard from her since March!” (A big hint!)“I’m feeling fine but all the running around has taken my weight down a little……..We eat most of our meals in the Horn and Hardart Automat. Maybe you’ve heard of the automatic cafeterias in N.Y. You get your money changed into nickels and dimes and put them in the slots in the wall and open a little door and out comes what you want. They have wall after wall of doors about the size of a dinner plate, with one section for all kinds of sandwiches, salads, hot dishes, breads, etc. You even put a nickel in for coffee or other drinks, put your cup or glass under a faucet and out comes exactly as much as you’re supposed to get! All the little doors are glassed so you can see what you get. Of course they have steam table for the meat and vegetable dinners but even there you have to put money in the slot before they give it to you. When you finish eating, you just get up and walk out; your dinner is all paid for and consumed. Best of all, there’s no smoking or drinking allowed.”
They were exciting times indeed. In June they finally leave New York and head south to Decatur, Alabama. Ione was delighted with a letter from home at last and writes back immediately admonishing Mother to take more care of herself, to make sure Doris did all the heavy work in the garden and
“not to take on so many outside activities for the church.”
Having worried everyone about her loss of weight she has to reassure them that her weight is going back up again and she has a new position.
“Your honourable daughter, Ione, is Directress of the Bible School here! Is it ever a job! About 200 or 300 kiddies each day. Pray lots for me. Lovingly in Christ,”
It is not only the work that was exhausting; the weather in Decatur took some getting used to:
“Everything has been going well, except that one feels tired easily here with the humid, heavy atmosphere. I can easily understand why everyone appears to be lazy. We have not had extremely hot Lovingly, Ione 21 weather but so damp! A rainstorm comes up in a minute and everything you wear droops and wrinkles. We stay in a two room apartment with bath. It is an old house and we are on one side of the first floor with our own side porch. It is not a very clean place and we have killed four different kinds of bugs. The second night I chased down two cockroaches the size of small mice. They scared us terribly at first for we didn’t expect to see them. I thought they were elephant Junebugs and was going to sweep them outside with a broom. When I got the broom a foot away they ran like horses and me after them. Got them both. Since then we have killed a couple every night when we come home. The second kind is a centipede about three inches long; we’ve killed two. Then there are hundreds of ordinary cockroaches of the half inch variety; we just don’t bother to chase them. And yesterday we came in and met a big fat green worm waddling across the linoleum. Last night we laughed and laughed at Gen. She went to put on her bedroom slipper and there was a great big roach; she almost put her foot right on it. Now we shake our shoes before putting them on.
…..We all three have been having colitis or malaria or something. We were told that most everyone is that way for a while when they come down here. Our only trouble is having to run to the bathroom all the while. Mrs Britton, the pastor’s assistant’s wife, gave us some Paregoric but we haven’t used it yet. Think I will today.”
All this is another example of good missionary training but of a slightly different nature. The DVBS work continued moving on to Chattanooga, Tennessee and then on to Chicago although Ione is still convinced that she is destined to be a missionary in China. She is aware that this could cause difficulties in any relationship she might have but is convinced that she must do the right thing and follow her calling. She dropped in on a South China Boat Mission council meeting and found that one of her former suitors, Bob Arthur, had given up his application to China for health reasons prompting Ione to wonder if he had only applied in order to be with her. The next suitor who had declared his unwillingness to go to China was pressing for an answer to his proposal of marriage.
“It’ll have to be ‘no’ for I can’t marry him when the Lord wants me in China. Pray for me……Lovingly in Him, Ione”
Whilst in Chicago, Ione has an interesting experience that lifts her spirits again:
I had left my Gladstone at the Dearborn station overnight and when the Trio came to leave I had to go after it and take it to the Union Station. We were in rather a hurry for we thought our train left at 1p.m. Chicago time (though it turned out to be 2p.m.) so when we took our cab to the Union Station the girls let me out to get my bag and rather than pay the charges for the taxi to wait until I ‘unchecked’ it, they went on, instructing me to jump into another cab when I got my bag. Well, in our hurry, I forgot to make sure I had the money, so out I got and gave my check ticket to a porter and told him to take the bag to the cab when he got it. Then I looked to see how much money I had and I had $0.45. Well, I began to figure how far the cab had to go and I knew it would be 35 or 40 cents and I had to tip the porter too. I figured maybe I could give him just a nickel and still have enough, when I discovered that I had to pay 10 cents for leaving my bag over 24 hours! Well, I paid that and then turned to the porter and said, ‘I guess I can’t take a cab after all. If you take it outside that will be all.’ He sensed the situation and said, ‘But, Madam, that’s too heavy for you to carry.’ I said, ‘If the cab-man will wait for his money till we get to Union Station I can do it.’ Then the porter said, ‘Let’s go out and ask him.’ And on the way out he said, ‘You won’t need to tip me anything.’ I told him I was in the Lord’s work and I didn’t want anyone to go unpaid. He said, Lovingly, Ione 22 ‘Oh, if you are working for the Lord, I’m sure I won’t take a cent!’ He told the cab-man and the cab-man said, ‘Sure, get in’ I gave the porter a dime and still had 25 cents. While we were riding I told him I worked for MBI and he said, ‘Your President, Dr Houghton, gave me a New Testament and I read it every day. I wasn’t sure I was a Christian till I read that.’ ….I found out the bill was$0.40 and he wanted to give me his address and I would mail it, but I ran in to where the girls were and got it. It was interesting to have that little emergency, for it surely gave me an opportunity to witness for the Lord.”
It was also another occasion when Ione found that her earthly needs were being provided for when she was on the Lord’s business, something that would happen over and over again through her life.
The travelling and long hours working begin to take a toll on the girls’ health and on Tee in particular who has been suffering with Tonsillitis and has been told she is anaemic. They were not working as well as a team, Tee and Genevieve are not getting along well, which leaves Ione in the middle. Ione is also disappointed that her relationship break-up with Ernie has been quite bitter and she wonders if she has made an error of judgement with Bob Arthur but realises that she is just feeling sorry for herself and a bit lonesome. It is around this time that the girls meet a lady with a passion for sewing and who teaches them how to make clothes out of remnants of material bought cheaply in Sales! This skill is to stand Ione in good stead in years to come but at this point she is unaware of how important it is. She throws herself into the work and in a moment of genius comes up with ‘Tony the Monkey’, a puppet that would work with her and travel with her for many years to come. It was not all bad; when they arrive in Grand Rapids, they find that they have been booked into the Morton Hotel.
“We found a gorgeous suite of rooms awaiting us; – two bedrooms, one with twin beds and one with a double bed; a reception hall between; two bathrooms with shower and tubs, etc.; two closets; lovely draperies of contrasting shades in each room; telephones in both rooms; even two spittoons!”
It was a lovely change but short lived and the girls keep moving on.
Ione writes to her mother,
“I’m praying much for our future. As yet I don’t know what I’ll do, but with so many ways to turn, I’m deathly afraid of running ahead of the Lord.”
There is talk of replacing Tee in the Trio which causes upset and some uncertainty as to whether MBI would keep the girls on for much longer. Ione writes to the family on April 28th 1940 informing them that Bob Arthur has married another Moody Bible College graduate, Mildred Mc Dole, however, the greater focus of this letter is on a conversation she has with Dr Hockman at Moody about her call to China and he suggests that she do some courses in Missionary work at the college though she felt that if the opportunity arose she would just go to the mission field as soon as possible.
Whilst on this visit To Moody, Ione writes to the family about another man she has recently met, he is the father of Betty Stam, the martyred missionary, and Ione becomes more convinced than ever that this was the right move for her. Not only that, but a church in Milwaukee had promised to fund her $150 a year for the seven year term that she would have to do and a family had offered to buy her a cine camera to record all her travels. The church had no other missionaries to support and so Ione’s visit to them had been a timely one.
“It gave me the courage to believe that if He wants me to go He will supply the needs for every cent of our debts to be paid by the time I sail!”
She knew that all her needs while working in the Trio had been met, that there was an offer of support for her when she went to China and she believed that her family’s finances would be settled and that they would be able to cope even if she was 10,000 miles away. She writes to a friend,
“The China matter increases more and more and even now, dear old China stands before me in her huge bulk as an insurmountable, impassable burden. There is no turning aside from her. I must go…..Leona Ross is sailing July 22. How I would love to go with her! But perhaps God has some very special lesson for me yet, or a definite work here yet!”
On November 15, 1940 a news article appears in the ‘This and That’ Kentucky based paper.
‘While there’s no place like home to most of us; while war strikes at plagued Europe, I have just learned that my cousin, Miss Ione Reed, of Pontiac, Michigan, will at last realize her remarkable ambition to go to China as a missionary.
She will sail November 29 from San Francisco on the steamer ‘President Coolidge’ for Canton, China as a missionary to the South China Boat Mission.
She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, and in spite of her youth, has travelled extensively, including Kentucky, for a number of years with the ‘Sunshine Gospel Trio’.
Several months ago, while visiting me here, she delighted those present at a prayer meeting at the First Presbyterian Church with her characteristically inspirational talk, and a vocal solo.
A small monkey called ‘Tony’ will accompany her on her trip to China.
Thinking there are possibly those in Frankfort who would like to wish her ‘bon voyage’ I am enclosing her address: Miss Ione Reed, Preston Road, Pontiac, Mich.”
But it was not all to be plain sailing. When Ione’s visa and passport for China are recalled because of the Second World War, she works for a time in the office of her local Baptist Church in Pontiac where she learns From Bessie Savage of a need for a nurse and helper for Dr Westcott, a missionary with the Unevangelized Fields Mission in the Belgian Congo. As one door closes, another opens and Ione embarks on a new phase of her life.
She is invited to join a ‘boot camp’ for would be missionaries at the mission headquarters for Northern America which at the time was at 18 Howland Avenue, Toronto. Later, another office would be established in Philadelphia but for the time being Ione had to cross the border into Canada. The mission directors, Rev and Mrs E.J. Pudney, had been missionaries in the Congo in the early 1930’s and had come from England specifically to set up and manage a headquarters in Canada for the newly formed Missionary Society; invited Ione to join them with six other applicants who were all hopeful of being accepted to serve in Brazil. Ione recognises God’s plan for her in this work and she heeds the call.
“So I came to Toronto in May 1941 from Pontiac, for my month long candidate period and arrived by train at the Union Station. Mrs Pudney sent a young man to meet me……I telephoned from the station and Mrs Pudney told me, ‘There will be a young man to meet you, tall, thin, with glasses and carrying a magazine.’ She meant the U.F.M. magazine, though she had not said this!
Sometime later I telephoned again and said, ‘Mrs Pudney, I looked for the young man, but there are MANY tall young men with glasses, and they are all carrying magazines!’ ‘Well, never mind’ she said. ‘If you do not see him, you had better take a taxicab.’ My taxi pulled up in front of 18 Howland just behind the Pudney’s car. The tall, thin young man was returning a bit bewildered from the wrong station. This was the first time I ever saw him and I decided that if I ever had anything to do with that fellow’s cooking, I would fatten him up a bit!”
The tall, thin young man with glasses was Hector MacMillan. It was not the most auspicious introduction and besides, inevitably, there was George, another suitor of whom Ione was certain she was exceptionally fond!
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