Being at the Helm
Ione and Hector soon swing back into action once they are together at Bongondza; Ione writes in a newsletter dated 5th October 1950:
And so, He has made darkness light for us. Hector is home and the paralyzing condition of arthritis is completely gone. We are all well again Hector has the lights shining once more, several motors humming, and new aluminium sheets are going up on top of the Bongondza church. School boys are singing, and there is a contented murmur in the women’s reading class.
“These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”
Yesterday I went out with Hector and the children to the place where over 700 have been saved recently. We took our dinner and stayed all day. It was a wonderful day and the enthusiasm of the people was great. There were over 300 at both morning and afternoon services and when they went down the road to baptize 24, they were all singing together. There are several who want Christian marriages, but there was not time for that yesterday. The little ‘rest house’ was right next door to the church, so I could divide my time in the two places and manage the children so that Hector was free for each service. He conducted their very first communion service.
On Ma Kinso’s suggestion, Ione starts to hold her women’s meetings in her backyard, that way David gets to nap in his room and Ken and Paul play nearby. In a letter to her mother, Ione describes how she manages children and work, although she found walking to a village with the children in a baby carriage too much! Bongondza is perched on a hill, so this was no mean feat. Going down is relatively easy but coming up must have been a struggle. So Ione waits till she can use the car and for these outings, she makes sure the children are well covered with long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect them from the sun and the insects. Baby David continues to thrive, he takes readily to the powdered Klim milk, and Ione describes him as ‘a real little butterball’.
Hector’s activities are detailed in several letters that he writes to the Kinso’s. He reports:
- One brick shed is full and the masons have started the footings for the kiln.
- The church roof is finished now except for the eaves troughs and cistern. The roof for the church took 321 sheets (of corrugated aluminium).
When I get some more nails I will try to put a new roof on the hospital. To avoid taking the masons off the school, I think we will reduce the ramparts around the roof of the hospital and extend the new roof out over each of the four walls; including the back one.
In another letter by Hector written 3rd December 1950, he reports:
The man at Aketi allowed me 10 sacks of cement and Jim (Carter from Ekoko who was with him) was able to transport it right to the door. Then the man at Buta said that he could let me have ½ ton of what you had ordered. I am getting the cap put on Pearl’s foundation. The 8 sacks I got in Stan when I went in for the windows (Nov 20-21), was used for the dome of the church cisterns. Two or three of the men have started digging (the earth) down thru the hole. I put an old tyre in the middle of the dome (made of earth) and made the cement that thickness right out to the edge. Now that it has hardened and the tire is out of the way, it makes it quite accessible for working. If we can finish the job before the rains stop it will mean a supply of water not only for the white people but also for the masons on the school foundation.
We are putting some dried bricks into the kiln; and 8 or 9 men are busy cutting firewood. They come to Balemaga every morning for a slip of paper with their name & date on and then put this over their piquet (stake).
However, Hector is not just dealing with building works, there is man management:
By the way, we have bad news about Botiki (he was a medical aid worker and assisted Dr Westcott in the early 1940’s). He has two young women in difficulty, one of them came down from Rethy with Dr. Trout. He has evidently had to go before Government officials. Mrs Ludwig writes of it in detail, but we are not saying much until we hear it from several more people. In our own circle, Bazapanai has had to be put off because of two affairs with young women when his own wife was helping her relative’s plant cotton. (The Congolese were not monogamists but missionaries expected monogamy for Christians). Samuele (one of the evangelists) checked on it, and yesterday Viola, Sam and Machini went out to settle up on books etc. and write him off (in other words – dismiss him).
Petero is back in his village again. The case was never taken up because the former husband never showed up. The twins are doing well. When I was through there on the way to Stan, I stopped for a moment. They said that there were some being saved. I asked if any were falling away. —–“Soko moko te”… (not one) he replied.
As Christmas approaches, plans are made for mini breaks away from the station and Hector and Ione plan to visit Marcellyn directly after the festivities at Ekoko. It is a good time for breaks as most of the workmen and school children return to their villages from mid-December until the end of January. Olive Berkseth and Verna Schade are looking for a break in January and Pearl Hines hopes to visit the Ludwig’s in February. With so many colleagues away on furlough (it’s not just the Kinso’s, the Walby’s stationed at Maganga are on furlough in the UK), a great deal of planning has to be done to cover the work. However, before holidays in the New Year, there is Christmas.
Ione writes that on Christmas Day there will be ‘hundreds’ of people coming into the station, African evangelists from the outstations and their congregations, and in preparation, Hector goes out to hunt for meat for the anticipated gathering. He is gone for a few days with African hunters and sleeps in an open lean-to made of leaves. Ione describes how they keep a fire going all night to ward off predatory animals. It is Hector who describes the festivities in a letter to Mr Pudney on 2nd January 1951:
All the evangelists were in for Christmas and seem to have had a profitable time. I had them for the early morning meetings and then a class from 11:15 – noon; during the week before Christmas. I took up the subject of Identification, (1) with Adam, (2) with Christ. During three of the evenings we had moving pictures. (Hector has acquired four films from one featuring animal haunts; another, a contractor building a house – with French subtitles; the third is underwater pearl hunting/ diving and the fourth being an English sport’s film with men hurdling, pole vaulting etc. in slow motion.) The largest crowd must have numbered close to 500. We have an outdoor “auditorium” in that triangle in front of our house and the slope of the ground makes it ideal. The screen is framed in Bamboo, for a tropical setting, and the projector table is up on seven-foot legs, so that it doesn’t hinder visibility. I have two wires run up from Pearl’s hospital electric plant. Baptista surely did me a good turn when he sold me this little projector and gave me those seven Christian films. The natives love the one on the prodigal son.
After the Christmas services and feasting, the mission was quiet for a while giving everyone a chance to catch up on book-keeping (Stan Nicholls is now managing the Mission’s accounts having taken over from Jim Carter), letter writing and making preparation for a visit from Mr Yarwood, a photographer who has been asked to take some footage of the work that was being done by the UFM in the Congo. Hector describes it thus:
He is a Christian salesman for fire extinguishers – a brother of Mrs Mills in Brazil (presumably a missionary in Brazil). He is at present in Rhodesia and hopes to come up through Congo. He is quite a photographer and Pudu & Kinsos want him to take about 1000 feet of colored film of our Congo work. I have the pleasant task of taking him to each of the four stations and the Bakumu work as well. He is to let me know when he is to arrive in Stan – sometime this month
Hector was very excited at this prospect as his interest in all things camera related was as passionate as ever.
“It will be my chance of a lifetime to work with someone who knows the job. It will be most interesting….I have noticed so many of these professional jobs are continually varying from distant shots to semi-close-ups then to close-ups of maybe just a hand or a face. It will mean a lot to have something extra for deputation work.”
Hector is so keen on this project that he puts off holiday travelling in case he misses the opportunity to learn from Mr Yarwood. The other more practical reason for not going to see Ione’s sister is that two of the ladies (Olive and Verna) have gone for their break, using one of the two cars on the station for transport, the McMillan’s could not possibly take the other one away as Pearl would be left alone on the station and sometimes she would need a vehicle to take emergencies that she was unable to deal with in the hospital to the state doctor. The only possibility of a trip would be to wait until the ladies had returned, and, if no letter was forthcoming from the photographer, they would shoot off quickly being sure to get back in time for the next mail day a week later. This would severely cut short Ione’s visit but at least a few days were better than none. In the end the family had the truncated holiday and on their return picked up the mail to say that Mr Yarwood’s visit had been postponed indefinitely!
On 8th January 1951, Ione writes to her mother:
A section of the hospital wall fell over during a heavy rain last week. Two rooms were put out of commission. And the workmen are away on holiday just now! There was a patient inside when it happened and I guess he was quite scared, but the wall fell out instead of in. Pearl is soon going to have the hospital reroofed, and have the metal extend out farther so that the walls will not crumble. Last week’s rain took the ridge off our chicken and duck coop, and Hector and I put up a big piece of tin and last night the wind took that off.
Kenny has his first jigger taken out of his little toe, but he didn’t cry. It was a big one and when I snipped the top of the dead skin off with the scissors, the eggs and ‘mama’ jigger just popped right out. Paul’s world is made up of “lellow futterbies, yizzards, naughty ‘nakes, ‘piders, and bottle bugs, yitto wee ones, like David, and big Kenny ones”.
Kenneth is only just now talking Bangala, after all these months, but he surprises us with whole sentences, using words we never dreamed he knew. And he translates them into English when he says them in Bangala. Learning is like a game to him. For months he has had me repeat to him everything I say to the natives. It has been disturbing at times and embarrassing to have to stop and translate for him, but he surely stored up all I told him.
Our dysentery has never returned, and I am so thankful. We are all quite well and fat now. I don’t know how much I weigh, but my dresses are getting tight! We have only been without butter two of three days since our arrival, and we still have cans of beef to draw from, as well as the canned potatoes. And we regularly get fresh vegetables every other week, enough potatoes for two meals, enough carrots for one, parsnips, turnips, and sometimes red cabbage. From the seeds I planted we got quite a few cucumbers, but I have had to make pickles out of all of them because there were worms in them. There were a few tiny ears of corn, beans, radishes, and squash, but the latter, too, was wormy. We are getting little tomatoes from some starts in our flower house, and a few tiny potatoes from some I had planted from the vegetable basket.
I must close and get to bed. It is going on 11 o’clock. Hector and I just had a piece of ‘synthetic’ pumpkin pie, made from papaya. I made another pie today using the recipe given by Mayme Baker, called ‘Canadian Tarts’; it is nuts, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, etc. I used peanuts and pineapple combined. Kenneth and Paul helped me cut out some tiny tarts, little enough and tender enough for even David to bite on with his six teeth. He is so cute, now, big hands and big feet, fat yet all over, and so good natured. He has a huge appetite, eats as much as the other boys. He is trying to walk from chair to chair. They were so happy on Christmas morning when they found their stockings. In the afternoon when the ‘Aunties’ came to dinner, Auntie Pearl brought them some big net stockings crammed full of all sorts of things, rubber balls, gum, lifesavers, charms, packets of Christmas candy, tiny rolls of adhesive tape (which I needed) bandaids, baby powder, etc. So along with their nutcup favours they felt like they had a second Christmas. And when we get to Ekoko we’ll celebrate again even if it is on Jan 11th or 12th.
Write soon. We love to hear from you. Lovingly in Him, Ione
Whilst all the workmen are away for the Christmas vacation, Hector turns to another aspect of missionary life; planning a conference for the summer and to this end he writes to his friend and Pastor at Three Hills Alberta on the 9th January 1951:
Dear Brother Murray:
Greetings in the precious name of our Saviour.
It is good to be back in Africa again. A year ago, we were enduring -30 degree weather with you at Three Hills. It is now the dry, hot season here and most everyone is on holiday during the month of January. When the rains start again it will be a little cooler.
On behalf of the missionaries and natives of UFM, Congo I would like once again to extend an invitation to you to be present with us for several months this coming summer. We are having a conference here on our station the third week in July and we would especially like to have you as our speaker for both the missionary meetings and the general conference. Your tour of the field could either be before or after this conference. For your further encouragement as the Lord leads and war conditions permit, I have written Bert Cullum suggesting that he try to arrange to accompany you. It would be a great joy to all of us here to have you with us.
So let us continue in prayer.
If you would like to write to our field leader, Mr Jenkinson; you can reach him at 1150 N 63rd Phila 31 Pa – our Mission headquarters.
“For it is God Himself whose power creates within you the desire to do His gracious will and also bring about the accomplishment of the desire.” Phil 2:13 (Weymouth)
Yours in Christ…Hector McMillan
One morning in January 1951, Ione is up early and writing to a supporter in the States says:
This is just a little note written in the early morning by lantern light. There were baboons near-by and the head-teacher came and got a gun very early. I have been listening to hear the ‘bang’ of the gun, or the shrieking of the monkeys. Kenneth is still asleep in the same room with Paul. Altho’ it is 5 o’clock here, you may be just going to bed in America, do pray for Kenneth that he will soon give his heart to Jesus, for he will soon be big enough. There are many other boys and girls here, black ones, much bigger than Kenneth, who have not even heard about Jesus, so they don’t know how to accept Him. We are trying to reach them, but the missionaries are not many enough to reach them all.
Ione’s zeal is as strong as ever, fuelled by an article written in Youth for Christ magazine:
I have been reading in the Youth for Christ magazine of the wonderful Revivals in Pasadena Rosebowl, Minneapolis, Kansas City and other large centres, and an article by Merv Rosell convinces me that Revival can just as well come to us here at Bongondza. Last night as our missionary staff met for prayer we discussed this, and everyone is in accord that we must definitely set our hearts toward that very thing. Will you join us in prayer for a real awakening here. We are already seeing ‘mercy drops’ round us, especially in the Balolo region. A letter has just come in telling us of at least 60 more converts ready for baptism, 6 more men offering for Christian service, and 21 couples wanting a Christian marriage.
On the other side of us, in the Basali region, Viola Walker has just come out of the forest, and tells us of real spiritual awakening there, with many saved. But right on our station things are cold; pray, pray much that by the time of our midsummer native conference the Lord will do a new thing for us. At that time natives as well as some white people, are coming here from all four U.F.M station. If Revival comes then, it will affect the future of our entire Congo U.F.M. We must have it, or there is no use of our being here.
The January lull gives Hector a chance to write home:
Dear Dad, Archie and Jean:
It isn’t quite daylight yet but I want to get a letter off to you. Two of the ladies are making a trip to Banalia today, about 70 miles away, and they can mail it there.
Thank you for your letter, Dad. I also got one from Uncle Alex in this last mail. I hope you have all had a good Christmas and New Year’s. It must be nice to have Jean home again.
We have just come home from a week’s visit up with Ione’s sister at Ekoko. The children enjoyed it very much. Kenneth and Paul are great playmates now and run all over. They can talk at a great rate. David is very sweet. Their Auntie Marcellyn surely loves them all.
This is holiday month so there are no school children around, or workmen. It is nice to have it quiet for a while. It gives us a chance to catch up on a few odd jobs.
The war news doesn’t seem to be getting any better. (The war Hector is referring to is the Korean War. Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of the Second World War. Initially, the Soviet Union liberated Korea from Japan from the north whilst the USA intervened from the south and subsequently the country was divided in two, with both sections having separate governments. Both sides argued for legitimate sovereignty and as tensions increased, war ensued. Korea remains divided to this day). We are seeking to prepare our people for what might come in this country any time. The ordinary native is just the right material for communism – get something for nothing & get rid of the white man.
It is a real privilege to be a servant of the Lord in these days. We have a wonderful message for these last days especially when men’s hearts are failing them for fear.
May the Lord bless each of you. Yours as ever, Hector & family
Ione writes to Hector’s sister Alice on 5th February, 1951, essentially to thank her for the Christmas parcel which has only just arrived, however, the letter gives insight into the MacMillan lifestyle at the time and Ione’s chief concerns:
Dear Alice and family,
Your package arrived just two days ago, and we had Christmas all over again. It was so much fun opening presents in February! The children could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the trains, two sets of them, and have been no trouble ever since, for they have plenty to amuse themselves. They are learning to hook the cars together. They do love them ever so much, and so does David love his ball; he finds it nice to chew on. The books are nice, too, and let me say that the suckers did not last out the day; they were very popular, for they haven’t had any since we left New York! I have saved the sticks and will try to mold some more ‘sucker’ candy around the stick. Hector stuck the pen in his pocket and it has been there ever since; it was just what he wanted. He helped us open the cans too, and the honey appeals to his sweet tooth. We had it on pancakes the same day it came!! Thanks, too, for the lemon juice. There are so many uses for it. And the salmon is something we find almost impossible to buy here, for the prohibitive cost. Perhaps it was expensive for you, too!! At any rate, we do appreciate that it is a real treat, and will keep it for special occasions. The birthday candles are in time for David’s celebration in March. There will still be plenty of candles in the packages for the June, July and August celebrations, tho I guess there won’t be enough for the cakes for Hector and me! You should see how old I am getting now – I have a big patch of whitish-grey hair just at my forehead. Marcellyn gave me a home permanent when I visited her in Jan. and the permanent has bro’t out the grey rather prominently! Now, let me say, we do appreciate your thoughtfulness and trouble to send this grand package to us. It came in fine condition, and we enjoy everything in it, even the packing papers! Paul was sick yesterday with fever, and the choo-choo train helped him to stay in bed.
We are thankful to be in the best of health now. Hector is thankful to be getting rounder than he has ever been, except for when he was in the Air Force. But he is worried because his clothes are much too tight now. Even his best Sunday suit looks like a wiener with a string tied around it! He weighs 166 pounds now and is very energetic and happy. The burden of being leader of this station doesn’t seem to affect him (like it does me!!) for he just doesn’t let anything worry him, and things do come out all right. Every department of the work seems dependent on him for something or other, and things go wrong and need repairs, but he does keep the single girls happy, with a bit of cement here, and a paint job there, a roof on the hospital for the nurse, etc. And he is always available for taking the cars where they want them, if they are too busy to drive themselves. And he keeps the cars in grease and repairs. I think the secret of his good health is drinking lots of milk and not worrying. Of course, he does spend much time in prayer and the Lord honours that sort of thing. Our baby weighs 25 pounds at 10 months, so I guess he is thriving well. He has not been sick since the journey. He is good-natured and has a fine appetite. He drinks Klim from the cup now. Paul weighs 32 pounds at 2-1/2 and Kenneth 38 at 3-1/2 years. I can’t seem to get up above 122, but am well, and have a good appetite. I find it impossible to drink the milk we have here, but I make up for it in other things.
Our boys are yet too small to let them play outside without supervision, but they are doing better. I think they would know a snake now when they see it. One fell out of a tree at their feet, and Paul came to see me and said, “I saw a big grasshopper, but I couldn’t catch it!!” They are learning to touch worms with sticks only, as I fear they might pick up a centipede or a tarantula or a scorpion! The best place for them to play is on the wide verandah which is screened in. David likes to be with them, but I have to guard him lest they ride his back like a ‘horsey’. He does not walk yet but makes pretty good speed on hands and knees. His hair is dark like Kenneth’s and Hector’s but his eyes are light blue like Paul’s. Paul’s hair continues to be whiter and whiter; I guess the sun must bleach it; he is truly a blonde.
We were sorry to learn of Aunt Marjorie’s departure to be with the Lord, tho’ for her it is far better. We have had one good letter from Jean since her arrival at Avonmore.
Do write us soon. Lovingly, Hector & Ione & boys
The delays in parcel post prompt Ione to write to her mother on the 17th February 1951; Leone Reed has asked about sending the boys larger toys such as bikes:
if you can get some they would do for birthday presents in June and July. Packages take so long to come, but if they are in separate packages, they might travel faster. I’m afraid the freight will be as much as the bikes, however, so you’d better inquire into that before you buy anything. Whatever you pay for each just count on as much more for freight. It may be the $20 will not do it at all. Please don’t go over that amount, for they still enjoy their wagons and there is a wooden kiddie car here. David can use the kiddie car, when his legs get a little longer, if the other boys do have tricycles. If you find you have enough money for small toys, just remember that plastic things are not worth sending so far, as they break so soon. Metal things are good, if they do not have cardboard wheels. Rubber does pretty well but is not so long-lived as metal (not tin, tho). They got ten little suckers in the Christmas box that came from Hector’s sister a few weeks ago, and it would be nice if they had a few more. Hector’s sister sent a ball-point pen for Hector, tins of salmon, honey, etc, books, and two little sets of trains just like you bought Kenny. And a rubber ball for David. Ada Wiseman sent us a package with all kinds of ready-mix in it; gingerbread, white cake, chocolate cake, hot rolls, and piecrust, a Christmas pudding, a flour sifter, and plastic gasoline trucks for the boys which have little faucets for dispensing “gasoline”. You put the water in a hole in the top, and a plastic boat on wheels for David. …..
I have noticed that Kenny is very hard on his shoes, and Paul will not be able to use them at all, so I am anticipating Paul’s needs ahead when I say he will need 2 pairs of size 9. He is wearing 8 now, but they are plenty large, and Kenny is wearing 9 and 9-1/2, and will just jump to 10-1/2 when his 9 get beyond wearing, since we don’t have an in between size; but his feet are growing fast and I don’t think we’ll need any for Kenny. Then when Paul outgrows or wears out his 9 shoes, he will need at least one pair of 10. So I will try to get some extra money to you that you might buy 2 pairs of 9 and 1 or 2 pairs of 10.
Besides trying to manage normal needs for her children miles from any shops or stores, Ione has other practical concerns for her young family:
I always hope none of the children will be sick when there is no car on the station. All are well, but just now I am noticing that Paul’s appetite is not so good. This noon he fell asleep before he had eaten anything, and when I offered him his dinner when he wakened, he just looked at it. The only thing that appealed to him was a glass of pineapple juice. He is just getting over being constipated from too much native food, so I guess it will be good to rest his tummy and give him lots of fruit juices. He has a fat tummy, but he is frailer than Kenny, who is very stocky and solid, and he is so fair that he looks a little too pale to suit me.
Besides her own three boys, Ione is still acting as a foster mother as she did in her early days on the mission station:
The little mulatto boy (the lack of name suggests Ione is trying not to get overly involved like she did in the beginning with Lollipop) is back with us again, and he is nice to our children; they converse freely now in Bangala. And Paul and Kenny are also adding many new English words to their vocabulary. Paul’s latest is “carefully”. He carried an egg carefully from the chicken coop to the house, and another time he informed me that he had killed a bug “carefully”.
Ione shares with her mother news of her sister Marcellyn:
I found Marcellyn quite well stocked with lovely eatables from home like ready mix, tins of special things, etc. And she looked so well – better than I have seen her before. She weighs as much or more than I. She keeps herself looking nice in spite of being so isolated. Her home is beautiful, and so roomy and comfortable. She has it very well planned and organized. She had gotten into the habit of scolding her house boys a lot and I talked to her about that. She had boys that were especially trying and sort of new, as her regular one was gone. Hector laughingly said she talked nicer to her cats than to the boys, and she realized it too, and tried to do better. Mother you can’t imagine how hard it is to see the work done poorly and nice things spoiled, when we have been so used to a nice clean home. Pray that Marcellyn may have the utmost patience. Her Tubuli was unusual, and now that he is not there, she has boys about like we have all the time! But on the whole Marcellyn’s house looks cleaner than any of the others. Scolding helps, but I’m sure it is a poor testimony to do it all of the time. I’m sure you would find this part of life out here very trying.
Hector’s letters are more work than family focussed; he writes to his brother Archie on 5th March 1951:
Our allowance for JAN-FEB just came through and it included your Christmas gift of $25.00. Thank you ever so much for remembering us in this way. May the Lord reward you for it.
This is the hot dry season here now and it is hard to keep going with all the many jobs that need to be done. We have just finished taking a brick kiln down. We got about 18,000 bricks out of it, which is quite good. The masons are working on the huge new school building having six big class rooms and two offices. (In another letter to supporters, Hector believes he will need 150,000 bricks for the project. Every room is to have ventilators near the floor and near the ceiling and metal windows which will not be eaten by termites.). I would like to have quite a bit of it done by the time Mr Jenkinson comes back. We have put a new roof on the hospital; but it was so hot that we worked sometimes at night with electric lights. In the day time you can only stand the heat on the roof until about 10:00 a.m. then we have to find other work in the shop or someplace. However, the rains will soon be coming and working conditions will be better. That big cistern that we dug before Christmas is a great help now. It is almost up to the top yet. It must hold 250-300 big drums of water.
I was out a few weekends ago to a village where we have a native evangelist. (Ione didn’t accompany him, however their house boy, Gaston went with menus prepared and a lot of instructions on what to do – which included leaving behind any leftover food for the local evangelist to use. Ione had also furnished Hector with instructions on using bug repellent). The Lord has done wonderful things in many hearts there. That one Sunday I was there, I baptized 55 people (this meant standing in a river for two hours) and performed a marriage ceremony for 19 couples, the latter being people who have been married according to state laws but who now wanted to have a Christian wedding. It does your heart good to be among such a changed group of people.
It must be nice for you to have Jean with you again. Thanks for the letter, Jean…..Hector
On the 10th March 1951, Ione has more ‘special’ news for the family at home:
Dearest Mother, Lucille, Doris, and families,
I wanted to tell you first that I think we’re going to have another baby, the latest sign being the nausea. But do not be surprised if you hear in my next letter that I have lost it, for even tho’ I am being especially careful right now I have cramps every day and other signs. The second month is a critical month for me. If I am able to keep it, we may expect the baby’s arrival in October. It surely looks as tho’ I am running competition with Doris.
We did not feel we should have a baby while Kinsos were away, as responsibilities were heavier on us just now, so we do hope they will be back by that time. They left last September. If it were not that I have some very good house boys who do all the work except the care of the children, I couldn’t get along. One boy is quite clean and I am having him whenever possible to carry David from bed to baby carriage, etc. and to the high chair for his meals. But I always feed them, bathe them, dress and put to bed, etc. as well as stay right with them for their playtime. Kenneth is beginning to dress himself, and both he and Paul can go to the bathroom by themselves. The only trouble David makes is that he needs to be changed, fed, etc. He is the best boy I have. I was thinking this morning how easy he is to care for. After his morning nap, I dress him, and put him into his carriage and he watches the work in the kitchen all morning. I was making pies and helping a boy with bread, getting things ready for Sunday, etc. and lying down in between jobs when the nausea came on. But David only got noisy when he saw the dishes going on the dining room table, and does he ever eat! I put some things right in his tray and let him feed himself while I serve the other two, and he shovelled it in and was ready for everything I could give him. He’s a darling right now, will be one year next week. His hair goes into little curls in his neck and his teeth are so lovely when he smiles. He has such a broad forehead and square jaw that the girls here call him Winston Churchill.
We did have such a nice time at Marcellyn’s house and were so glad to find her well. It is so nice to be with your own relatives ‘way out here. I’ll surely be lonesome when she goes on furlough. When the boys get bigger I can let them visit her and stay awhile by themselves, at times when she is not too busy. Mrs Carter tells me that the English and Australian school systems do not coincide with the courses given at Rethy and they are not sending their children there, but are teaching them themselves; several others in our mission are non-Americans and I may find the same difficulty when we come to the time when our children go to school. I had hoped that others would be sending theirs to Rethy and we could share the trips financially as it is so far. But we’ll have another furlough before that time, and if we can bring back a car of our own we shall be able to take them to Rethy on our own. Rethy is a splendid school and the children come out really ahead of those in America, when they finish.
The family had been out to one of the villages to help and support a local evangelist, Ione writes:
You maybe are wondering how we could spend a week in a native village and care for the children properly. One thing was in our favour: there were no mosquitoes at the time. We slept under nets at night, for there were big bugs that flew around at night. A big spider landed on David’s net, and shortly after, a flying bug jumped on the spider! The first night there were more noises at night, then the little creatures realized that white people were there, or maybe we just slept thru it all!! Mice found our bits of newspaper very tempting and night after night could be heard dragging large sheets which they carefully folded and pulled down their holes.
Hector went hunting once and they bro’t back a baboon; some other hunters who came along shot two birds and an antelope. While there we heard our chief hunter back at the station had killed an elephant. A second elephant was shot right near here after we returned.
People all around us are asking us to please come with the gun to shoot elephants as they are spoiling the plantain gardens. We are only allowed by the gov’t 4 per year, but if they are molesting station property any number can be killed. Hector is going to Stanleyville this week and ask special permission to kill as many as 10, for we have already had our quota. I hope Hector never tries to shoot one, for we have heard some sad stories about other white people (as well as blacks). A beloved missionary up near Ludwig’s was very recently attacked by an elephant whom he had wounded, and the elephant ran his tusk right thru him. Coming back to the living conditions on trek – we took the baby carriage along, as well as the little covered bed the Westcott’s had given us, besides regular camp cots. And we used small rugs in the spots where the children played or got out of bed. They always had their bedroom slippers ready to slip into.
Hector gets a response to his January letter to Brother Murray about the conference he is planning and writes back on 19th March:
Needless to say we were thrilled to get your letter, and to realize that you actually could come out here to Africa. What a wonderful provision for the expenses! I have been thinking much about it since and could enable you to contact three or four other mission societies besides UFM. One would be the station where Bill Dawn and his wife are working.
It is difficult for us to advise you about whether to come this year or next. But the Lord has quite likely made that clear to you before you have received this letter. However, when you come we are confident that it will be with the “Blessing of the Lord upon you”.
Yours in Christ, Hector McMillan
As well as writing to Brother Murray, Hector takes time out to update Kinso on his activities: he has made a shopping trip to Stanleyville and has been buying provisions wholesale as this is cheaper.
“We got some good bargains at Ollivants, Savas, and Sedec Gros. Everyone was well pleased with the shopping tour. It surely pays to buy wholesale. “
Whilst in Stanleyville, Hector saw: ‘the Monsieur at the Service de l’Agriculture in Stan and he was quite lenient as regards regulations.’ Thus, gaining permission to kill more than the allotted four elephants a year in their locality.
In a letter from Ione to Ma Kinso probably written at the same time as Hector writes to Kinso, Ione admits that she and Hector may have been overly confident when they first took over the helm as station leaders. Hector glosses over issues:
Then yesterday I was out at the Twins village for a matter which might have been serious but it has turned out alright. Just keep on praying for us — so many times we have seen troubles dissolve before they really come to a serious issue.
Ione is more explicit:
A big affair came up between a Babinza man and Likale man (Babinza and Likale are local tribes or extended families living communally). It seemed at that time that everything had gone wrong and we all so missed you. Then suddenly it was discovered that the reason for the excessive anger and un-controllableness of the Babinza fellow was due to the fact that he was in love with one of the school girls; a note had been written and discovered. The case came to an end when the B and the girl were both removed. But that seemed only the beginning of cases; Viola may have told you of another among the girls; and then Hector had some trouble getting the wood cut for the brick kiln and one of the capitas (headmen) went to jail over it.
Ione admits to Ma Kinso that yet again, she is on a steep learning curve and also informs her of her pregnancy, regretting that she has left telling Ma Kinso for so long!
On the 26th March 1951, Hector write to Leone Reed:
For some time, I have been wanting to write you but didn’t know just how to put my thoughts on paper.
I have been under the impression recently that the breach between us is still un-bridged. In the new book written by Mr Maxwell I have found something that has helped me to take up a new view point in the matter. Naturally when two believers have a quarrel, each claims the other to be equally as guilty as he, if not more. But this is not the way the Spirit of God views it. He wants me to heartily admit that I am 100% guilty —- for my own sin. No matter what the difficulty was which caused the trouble, I was wrong to have so sinned, and I am wholly responsible for my reactions.
I want to love my neighbour as myself. Yours in Christ, Hector
Although Hector only alludes to the ‘sin’, this breach or quarrel may well explain why Leone Reed did not see the family off from New York a few months earlier.
In March, Hector tries to re-establish his links with the photographer from Rhodesia and writes:
Dear Bro Yarwood:
Thank you for your telegram and letter. We were eagerly anticipating your visit, but now that it is postponed we have yet before us the privilege of meeting you. I know your sister, Mrs Mills, quite well; having spent some time in the mission home with her before I came to the field.
We do sincerely hope that you will see your way clear to come up to Congo sometime after the month of May, since you are evidently booked up with work until then. When you do make your plans, try to make your stay with us as long as possible. I know it will be profitable for us as a mission and to me personally as I am very interested in photography. We have a cinekodak 16mm and I have taken a few films; but would very much appreciate being with someone who knows all about the business. We brought a 16mm sound projector back with us this time from America as well as 17-18 reels of film picked up in various places. We also receive a film each month from the Bureau of Information at Leopoldville. So, you can see we are movie-minded. I had sort of planned to take 6-700 feet of colored film on the subject “A Day in a Missionary’s Life”. But that would necessitate a “Titler” attachment and I was not able to procure one while at home.
Hence, we will be awaiting word from you as to your plans. May the Lord bless you. Hector McMillan
Most of the letters written through March 1951 are from Hector, Ione seemingly preoccupied with three small children and the nausea of early pregnancy. In these letters, Hector always thanks the supporters for their contributions and reiterates the story of making bricks two by two amongst other tasks that occupy his time. There are several mentions about being the only male missionary. In one letter he ends with:
Once in a while we are able to get out to the villages in the district. There is always something to encourage our hearts, as we see numbers turning to the Lord and leaving off their heathen practices. The Lord is answering the prayers of the folks at home. I know you will remember us from time to time before the throne.
Before closing I want to thank you for forwarding the $2 from David Grant. Yours in Christ, Hector.
Unsurprisingly, Christmas parcels are still coming and Ione writes on 10th April
Dear Morris and Josephine and family:
Now about the package – it has just come in yesterday’s mail! It was a time of real excitement when we opened it. We appreciate the Christmas cards, and the bathroom tissue, so lovely and soft, it can be used as Kleenex. And the odour that struck our noses from the soap was so refreshing. We were badly needing hand soap. And I had no shampoo and was just ready for a good head wash! I presume the dress is the one you told me about which Mrs Shankland has sent. I am glad to have her address and will thank her right away. Is the silk slip your gift? If so, I do thank you very much. Also, for all of the clothes for the children. Most of the things fit Paul. However, the pretty new blue socks are big enough for Kenneth and also the training panties. One sun-suit we will use for David. Every piece is so useful. The blue sweater I could use for David, but I think I will start saving up for the next one, due in October! ! Oh, the toothpaste, too is very welcome. You seem to know how long it lasts our family! I had just taken out the last tube which you sent at Christmastime! Thank you so much for everything. If you could only know what a box means to us here! Paul doesn’t miss going to stores but Kenny remembers and shows me pictures of ice cream and suckers. Pearl Hiles has a refrigerator which makes good ice cream and yesterday she bro’t up a tearful, and I had baked some “ice cream cones” out of piecrust, and you should have seen Kenny’s face when we fitted the ice cream into the “cone” (made over a funnel! Then I took the funnel out when it was stiff). We made suckers, too, one day, in a muffin tin and colored the boiled sugar yellow and green, and stuck sticks in while it was hot.
I didn’t tell you that the boys enjoy the rabbit puzzle very much, and they are so thrilled that they can really put it together. It is just right for their age and mentality.
I cannot write more now but want you to know we are thinking about you. Two more women saved this week. Ione
The 10th April 1951 was a major letter writing day and thanking people for Christmas gifts including Hector’s father, brother and sister Jean:
And now I want to thank Uncle Alex and Dad for their generous gifts which have just come thru. We were needing some extra money just now as we needed to put by some extra stores toward the big July Conference when quite a number of guests will be on the station. Black people do not often eat at our table, but there will be two coming from Uganda who will be travelling, as well as eating in company with a white man and his wife. Since the car went to Stanleyville we took the opportunity to lay in all the car could carry, which meant extra flour, sugar, milk, canned foods by the case, a sealed tin of eight dried codfish, and a barrel of herring (small). This is for the entire staff to divide. We were able to get things quite cheap by the case. Thank you so much for enabling us to do this.
We are expecting another baby in October; you may want to tell the other girls as they will not get a letter this time.
Now we want you to know we are thinking of you and praying for you. Uncle Alex, we know how lonely you must be without dear Aunt Marjorie. I am sure the Lord must be very precious to you at this time.
The Lord bless you all.
Ione also writes to Mrs Hess, a church supporter:
Two of our house boys have married recently and their wives have accepted the Lord. One who has now been a Christian for several months bro’t a friend of hers to my door and when we prayed together I noticed Malani used the very verse in her prayer which I had used to lead her to the Lord – Romans 10:9,10. Another woman was bro’t to me this morning by a young evangelist’s wife, and she was helpful in leading her to the Lord.
I am able to carry on with my regular teaching altho’ my schedule is not so full as the single girls as I do not like to leave our children for anyone else to care for. (Ione’s fears of leaving her children with other people may stem from her experiences of looking after the Westcott children, who were looked after by ‘others’ and all experienced illness.) Hector and I manage to take turns in their care. We appreciate the help of the boys in the home for house work, but do not leave the children with them. Our Kenneth and Paul love these boys and remember them when they pray. The other night Paul was going over their names and Kenneth reminded him, “Remember to pray for Balimaga.” Paul said, “I did pray for him alweddy.” But Kenneth wasn’t satisfied and said, “Well, he carried a tire over to the shop for Daddy; bless him for that.”
Will you tell the ladies at the church that we are still enjoying the many pretty things which they sent to us. I don’t know whether I sufficiently thanked them.
We have had a wonderful answer to prayer recently. For two years we have had a Bible famine. We were absolutely unable to get them in Bangala, and so many new Christians who could read were needing them, as well as aspiring young student evangelists. We made it a very definite matter of prayer, and then sent one more letter to a printer, and almost before the letter was well on its way, we suddenly found ten large sacks at the gov’t post and each box contained 50!!
Now I must close. Do write us.
Mrs Pudney also gets a letter, Ione tells her of the pregnancy, the work they are doing – such as the building work, Pearls’ new clinic at Kole. She writes:
My women have been sewing handkerchiefs (for themselves) baby bonnets for those who have babies and piecing a quilt for a poor old lady. Tomorrow I will give out some pieces of pretty native cloth to the best sewers (seamstresses!) to make a new table cloth for the church and curtains for the altar rail. We hope to have the church dressed up by the time Kinsos get back. But they will also get a message on the Servant Girl who witnessed to Naaman the Leper. We’ve had some wonderful messages by the women themselves of late. One woman said the Gospel found her boiling 10 pots of wine, and she poured them out to follow Jesus. Two women were led to the Lord by Kinso’s faithful Mayani. Several others came because of the testimony of another native. This is encouraging when we realize that we may not have much more time with these people. We want them to carry the Good News themselves. One woman who could hardly read and had no Bible, found her verse in “Njela na Kubikisa” Acts 4:12. She gave a much more stirring Gospel message than I could have given, with illustration after illustration, and she stuck to her text, too! I praise the Lord for this.
Ione’s letters at this time remain upbeat. The family’s diet is varied, they have their canned meat from Canada and fresh produce provided locally:
Of course, we can nearly always depend on peanuts, papaya, pineapple, lemons, eggs, and just now lovely big avocado pears. We do thank the Lord for His provision of our every need. Our little boys are all big and strong and real fat. David has just started to walk now, at 13 months!
Hector gained back his lost pounds and has been feeling quite well. The Lord is so good to give us all good health again after that time of illness on the way. The Lord met Hector in a time of severe pain and blessed him in an unusual way. Hector’s life has been changed thru it. He needed so much a special work of the Lord, to prepare him for his many responsibilities this term. He has had some difficult cases to settle, and just this morning, two tribes in our Central School turned on each other, and he had a very hard time settling it. He worked until late last night with both sides and from morning until noon. I believe it was the worst time we’ve had. When you realize that probably their grand-fathers or great-grandfathers dared not trespass each other’s territory without bloodshed, it makes one not too surprised to find such enmity between school boys. We have several tribes coming here, but never had a real fight like this one. Do pray that we may be able to show them that Christ can help them to put aside old anger and jealousy.
I am enjoying working with the women, and we’ve had some blessed times. The hardest to deal with are white people who are out here for other purposes than missionary.
Ironically, health at home for Hector’s family was not so good. Ione had the sad and difficult task of writing back to them after they received news of his brother-in-law’s death.
“Jean’s letter written April 9th reached us just yesterday morning, (six weeks later) and there is time to get a letter in the mail that leaves tomorrow. Needless to say, we were very surprised and saddened. We knew that Ken had not been well, as Irene had had told us in her Christmas card about how high his blood pressure was and that there was no cure. But we felt that he must surely be better by now, since he had gone back to work on half day. What a loss it is indeed! How little did any of us realise that he would pass away so young! And what grief and bewilderment it must bring upon you, Irene! I am so sorry and want you to know how much I love you and long to help you at this time.
The best I can do is to offer you some of the precious promises of God’s word. He has promised to be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. ‘And underneath are the everlasting arms’. ‘Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give thee rest’. ‘I have made and I will bear.’ ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us…..neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.’
I have been trying to follow on the calendar the days following the Sunday Ken was taken to the hospital. It was such a few weeks ago! How I wish we could have been there. Be assured that we shall be praying much for you in these hard days. We know you have many kind loved ones to help you. We shall hope to have a letter soon from some of the family.
We continue to have good health. David is walking now at 13 months and is quite chubby and fat. He looks like Barbara with his wide blue eyes and dark hair. It curls in little ringlets behind his ears when he is warm, which is most of the time! Today we had green ice cream from Nurse Hiles’ refrigerator, which helped to cool us. Hector is very busy these days, sometimes has to get up long before daylight to meet all demands. One night he was up very late working on station accounts, etc. And another night when two pigs were killed we kept parts of them cooking until 3 a.m. so that it would keep over Sunday in order to can it on Monday.
She continues her letter with other small tales of happenings on the station. Her words of comfort taken from the Bible are sufficient at the time to express her sorrow and desire to comfort her sister-in-law.
On the same day (6th May 1951) Hector also writes to Irene,
How can I be of help to you? I would love to be with you; yet let us half forget that I am not as I try to put on paper what is in my heart.’ ‘Who would have believed that as we parted last June, that Ken reaching the best years of his life in the business and social world, should be laid low in sickness and brought into the valley of death – into the hands of that enemy who snatches away a loved one, whose departure leaves so deep a silence in the family.’
He goes on to recall how he had tried to witness to her in previous times of the changes that the Lord had brought into his life hoping that she could enjoy the same enlightenment. He tells her that he had thought of her when he was so ill in hospital the previous September and had experienced a moment of complete assurance that God would indeed answer a prayer for her. He felt certain that she would be writing to tell him of her similar experience at that time. However, as time passed there was no news until the card had arrived detailing Ken’s illness. He wondered if she had not heard the call of the Lord after all. He continues,
Won’t you write and tell us. Improve this sharp wind, my dear, for you will soon lose the benefit of it if not carefully sought after…….Sorrow toward God worketh repentance unto Salvation through the blood of Christ. He alone is a shelter in a time of storm. You will never find the Lord Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness…..Please write soon. Yours in prayer, Hector.
His fervent wishes for her soul were undoubtedly well intentioned though the delivery was perhaps rather overzealous. He did not have Ione’s gentle touch and it was some time before his sister wrote to them again. It is not until December, seven months later, that Ione writes again, “Dearest Irene, We were wondering why you had not written in so long a time, and as I read the carbon copy of the letter Hector wrote to you in the spring, I found the reason: you must have been hurt very much by that letter. I am sure that of all people he would wish to hurt you the least. We are so far away and it is very hard to express our feelings; it is impossible for us to know the depth of your sorrow; to have someone so close and so dear taken away is a real loss indeed. May the Lord be very near to you, the One who is ‘a husband to the widow and a father to the father-less.
Towards the end of May, Ione writes a long letter to her mother. It would seem that family and supporters are concerned that Ione is yet again pregnant and Ione is at great pains to reassure all that she is fine:
It is two o’clock and the birds are doing their best to bring us a shower. I hear the shrill, clamorous chirping of the weaver bird; the tuneful song of the canary; the low, plaintive, liquid cheeping of the swallow; the “quick, doctor, quick” of the bulbul; the pleasant continuous squeak of the wagtail; and many others, churring, cheery, lively and attractive. Congo is a wonderful place for those who love birds.
My little birds are having their nap. Kenneth was the last to settle down, and he begged me to lie close to him and tell him again about the time I went on the train when I was a little girl as big as he; about the song we used to sing at the table instead of praying when I was a little girl; then, did I think Grandma might be with the box of bikes when it came to Kole; and did Jimmy try both bikes to see if they would fit Paul and Kenny; and would that package of suckers come this week. I left him before he was asleep, but he seemed satisfied, and after singing a marching song in Bangala, he became quiet.
Paul gets thru the morning now without a nap, but he hardly finished his dessert before he he slips into his room and tumbles to bed. He was quite thrilled today because I had the cook make them some “songo” a native root, very starchy, but which they like because their beloved house boys like it. We had a vegetable dinner of rice, creamed celery, carrots and beets, the three latter from our vegetable basket which comes every other week. Dessert was a sweet ripe pineapple. Paul is getting broader in face and tummy and is almost as tall as Kenny. He has such a keen sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye, and whatever he does he does it quicker than a wink. You’d laugh to hear them telling the words that represent the letters of the alphabet – A –automobile, B-blowing bubbles, C-coasting, etc. The little book we have has V-Velocopide, and of all the words he remembered that best. I heard him practicing it by calling Kenneth that name. He said, “Here, Velocopide, take this to the store for me.” And from Jack and Jill in the television book you gave them, he stored up a phrase that I tho’t was the least likely one, “To old Dame Dob, who patched his knob with vinegar and brown paper.” They are learning Bible verses for the letters in the alphabet, but Paul has such a funny way of saying his, we always have to smile. David still has little curly wisps around his face, and can run fast now. I am sending you a slide which you can have developed into a picture if you wish. David fell asleep before we got it taken, but you can see how big he is. It was a flashlight picture.
I received your letter this week and want to thank you for it. I got one from Inez Slater in the same mail. She was of the same opinion as you regarding the fourth baby in five years. I am trying to figure out whether I am just hard-headed and cannot be told, or whether what I feel is true, that the call to have children is just as clear to me as my call to the work of the Lord. I do not feel the robust health during that nine months that I feel at other times, but the work gets done, and I don’t feel that my general health has suffered from it. Other people who are run down get malaria often. I never have it, or colds, etc. Now that the nausea is past I am able to carry on quite well. I don’t expect to take trips with Hector, but I am able to care for the children while he is away. We have good native help, even a man to light the lamp when Hector is away. I couldn’t manage if I were home, but things certainly do go smoothly out here, and we have such a good home in which to keep them.
I am thankful for all your advice, for it does remind me of many things I should be doing, and I will try to put them into practice. Don’t stop giving it, and don’t stop praying. I trust your health will be better soon.
We are thinking about you on Mother’s Day, and hoping it was not a lonely day for you. I hope you had a white flower to wear. Next year Marcellyn will fix you up fine, as she will probably be home for that occasion. You are still my beautiful little Mother and always will be. Mothers never get old, do they? At least not to their children. I’m so glad that you are keeping so active in the Lord’s service.
Our heavy rains were late in coming this year, but now we have rain every day. It is refreshing and cool, but sometimes the clothes get a sour smell before they are dry for it takes two days to dry them. I’ll never forget how hard it was to get diapers dry the week Paul was born. It rained almost steady for five days, and we had no fire in the house, so tried to dry them by the heat of a pressure lamp! October is a little better time than July for a new baby. There is a very good doctor now at Bondo at the Norwegian Mission whose work is between us and Ekoko. (I have learned he is not the mission doctor but a gov’t doctor so I am holding the letter I planned to send to him. Will let you know later what we decide.) It would be one day’s journey. And it would be nearer to Marcellyn, although she cannot come for she teaches school at that time. She offered to keep one or two children at that time, but she would have to have her older girls look after them while she teaches, and I think it would be better to keep them with us, and all go together as a family to Bondo.
(Ione gives her reasons for this decision in a letter to Marcellyn:
It certainly is thoughtful of you to offer to take two of the children from the Conference on, but I really wouldn’t feel right to let you. If it were during your vacation it would be O.K., but it would be impossible to teach school full-time and take care of them. That is why I can’t teach school fulltime, because I do not feel that I can leave them with the natives even for a short time. (However, many other missionaries did leave their children with Congolese carers for short periods of time, my own carer was called Salu, and my brother chose his own! He aligned himself to our gardener Libami. Libami was a gentle slow with infinite patience, he could pray for hours and to this day I have never seen my brother rush for anything or anyone.) During the classes I either have them all with Hector or he takes part and I take part. If I leave them even in the next room for a little while there is trouble; either the children are pampered and begin to act like little kings, or else one of them gets hurt. They are still too little to be under anyone’s care except our own, or your own care. I would feel perfectly free to leave them with you if you did not have other demands for your time. It is too bad the new baby will arrive during school term. I’ll plan the next one for one of your holidays!! – an indication that Ione hopes for more children!)
David’s hands are into everything, but he loves to try, too. You should see how cute he looks in the little red shirt and blue overalls with red apples. That outfit is just right on him now, and when it is a bit chilly because of rain he wears them. Today we are having sweet potatoes, gravy with corned beef in, baked beans and chocolate pudding.
Hooray!! A sack of packages which had been delayed from last week’s mail has arrived, and the SUCKERS! You should have seen the children’s faces; they were all awake from their naps, and as I read each name on the little plastic Easter basket, each child took his suckers proudly. Kenneth found a way to open his right away and had the paper off one and was sucking it, while I took the paper off Paul’s. I found David clutching his sack tight against his fat tummy with his two little hands, and when I took it to open it up and get the sucker for him, he cried, but he was soon all smiles when he had the sucker in his mouth. I have ‘bottled’ the suckers now, after they had several and they will have a few every day until they are gone. Thank you so much for sending them. It makes some very happy times for them.
Now I must close. My cook has invited all the single ladies here for supper tonight, as he is making waffles on that big iron griddle. He has had pretty good success lately, so is taking courage to invite guests. We have some maple flavoured syrup which he has made. First we’ll have vegetable soup and pineapple and cottage cheese salad (providing the milk we ‘soured’ turns into cottage cheese!). Hector is in Buta today getting a large load of prepared rafters to make the roof of the new boy’s school. A Mr Bryers in Canada has sent $1500 to pay for the roofing. And he is going to send more money in smaller amounts for the evangelists’ school.
Now I really will close. I’ve got five tins of canned duck and vegetables ready for Hector to put covers on, and five more tins of pineapple are in the canner. Don’t you wish you could buy pineapples for less than 5¢ apiece? And the duck cost us nothing as the sanitary agent had a meal here and sent it as a gift. I put with it the potatoes we had on hand, 3 tomatoes, some dried celery leaves, ½ can beans left-over, and two cans of peas and carrots mixed. This will make some nice meat pies if it keeps O.K. (for the big conference in July.)
Kenneth had a piece of paper in his hand and came showing it to Hector. “It says on it, Dear Kenneth,” he explained. Paul was not far behind, also with a piece of paper. He said, “Mine says, Dear Me!”
I must try leaving your letter in the typewriter again soon for I find it makes quite a letter when I keep adding to it!
The Lord bless and keep you day by day in His service. Lovingly, Hector and Ione, Kenneth, Paul & David
Hector too, refers to the upcoming conference in July, however, in his letter to the family we note that other ‘notables’ are in Stanleyville …; he writes on 10th June 1951:
Dear Dad and All:
It is a bright Sunday morning. We haven’t had breakfast yet, but I want to get a letter off to you this week.
We do want to thank you for the latest gift of $50. We do appreciate the way you are remembering us. The cost of living is rising out here as well as at home. It is fortunate that the price of powdered milk stays about the same or is even a little lower. I wish we had the old “Quin” cow out here. Her pail-full of milk twice a day would be a bountiful supply! ! !
I made a trip to Stanleyville about three weeks ago and there was a party of 43 people from England and America preparing to make a film about 100 miles from Stan. They were spending a week in preparation. Needless to say, all the hotels were full. I was able to stay with another missionary in a mission home; while Miss Bjerkseth stayed with some Scotch people who run a big wholesale store. When we first arrived in town we called around at all the hotels without knowing why they were all filled up. At one place two ladies were walking leisurely speaking English if you please. I passed within about five feet of them. Later we found out that one of them was KATHRYN HEPBURN from Hollywood. (Kathryn Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, John Houston and others, were filming The African Queen, a story set during the time of the First World War. This was quite a novelty as few films were shot on location at this time. The other woman Hector refers to was quite likely Lauren Bacall who was married to Humphrey Bogart at the time, accompanied him to Congo and became very good friends with Kathryn. Most of the cast and crew were ill except for Humphrey Bogart and John Houston who boasted that they were saved from being ill by only drinking whiskey! The film was released in America in December 1951.)
The lady where Miss Bjerkseth stayed is coming up this Thursday to spend a week or two on our mission station. Her name before she was married was Hepburn. Needless to say KATHRYN was quite surprised to find a namesake of hers away out in Africa!
The children are all well and busy. Kenneth is getting to be quite a help now. He loves books. Both he and Paul can go through a little alphabet book now. The other day there was a little spot of blood on something. I asked Kenneth whose it was and he said, “Paul’s.” “How do you know?” –“Because it’s red!” he answered. “Well, then what colour is yours?”….He thought for a minute and said, “Mine is blue”. David tries to do the same things the others do now. He is real roly poly with a good big appetite. I made a little merry-go-round for them; which they spend hours on.
The school building is going ahead quite well. We have about 40 workmen now, so I don’t have much time to sit around. I will be glad when Mr Jenkinson returns from furlough in November. We may have another man on the station by that time or it may be a little girl this time. We are expecting the baby sometime in October.
Ione wants me to ask Jean for Aunt Marjorie’s recipe for oatmeal cookies. Ione copied it out when she was in Avonmore but left it on a calendar somewhere in the kitchen.
We have written Irene but haven’t heard from her yet. We will be glad to know what she plans to do.
Write when you can….. Love to all….Hector
On June 10th, Ione has other preoccupations and writes to Dr Paul Brown, who, with his wife, had been at Moody Bible Institute with Ione and worked for the African Inland Mission (AIM) at Bunda:
We are expecting another baby around October 4th and are speculating on just where to go. In your December letter we read of your latest developments in operating room, etc., and we wonder if you are set up to take care of our case. If you feel it is just too much for you when you are so busy already, we shall not mind if you say so. But to us it would be such a relief to know that you ‘had charge’. We do not expect any complications and since this baby is just 19 months later than the last, one would expect to meet about the same circumstances. We hope that we have calculated our time so that it will mean only 2 or 3 weeks off our station.
Perhaps the biggest item to mention is the fact that we would like to come as a family, since leaving the children would be difficult, and little David would have to be with his mama anyway, so we might as well do for three what we would do for him as they are all so small. We would suggest coming with 2 or 3 boys to care for our cooking and washing, providing you feel you can make room for us all to ‘park’ there that long. We can bring our own provisions and set ourselves up as we would on trek.
Another thing that looms as a possibility; our head teacher’s wife is expecting a baby at the same time, and she is the one whom Dr. Becker told could never have a baby as she has an infantile uterus. Our nurse is afraid to take the case and would feel better about it if we take Machini’s wife to whomever we shall go. However, Miss Hiles is going to ask the state doctor to examine her when he passes thru, and if he thinks it wise, she will take the case, with the chance of an emergency trip of 100 k. to Banalia, where the state doctor lives. There will be another car on the station as well as a driver.
Around this time, Ione writes to supporters at home about the death of an elderly Christian lady who had walked miles to Bongondza for medical help. When she died, no one would help Pearl with ‘last offices’ until two Christian ladies offered to help. Ione writes:
I took my women’s class to the funeral and spoke to them on I Thess. 4:13, 14. The procession was interesting, as she was wrapped in a white blanket, lying on a stretcher (which was not buried with her, however), and we had to go single file along the little path into the forest where the hole was prepared. There were a number of hymns about heaven, and I gave a brief message, and during the singing of more hymns, forest vines were slipped under her in two places and she was gently lifted into the hole. The ones bearing her sprinkled a little of the earth on top of her, and that was all while the crowd was there. It is so good to be at a funeral where there is not a lot of screaming and crying. One young man in the evangelists’ class said that was the first real Christian funeral he had attended and he was so glad to know there was a nice way of burying the Lord’s people. He was impressed when I said that we might see the woman even next week, for the Lord may come very soon.
Ione continues to seek to reassure her mother that all is well; on 9th July 1951, she writes:
Just a few lines while I am watching the children as they play in front of the fireplace. It is raining today and chilly and a fire feels good. (Hard to imagine that central Africa gets cold!) Wish we had some marshmallows to roast! Pearl gave me two packages gelatine and we will try to make some. We don’t miss many pleasures out here. We had hamburgers last week, on buns, but the meat was made from a wild animal, I don’t know what it was, for it wasn’t a pig and it wasn’t a deer, tho’ it had a skin like a pig; the meat was all dark; it was very good and made up well into hamburgers with some onion and egg and a little bread. We served them in the living room with a little vegetable salad and chili sauce, with doughnuts and coffee for dessert. We had a Scotch lady visiting us for a week from Stanleyville. We found out she is a real Christian woman and she was craving for some spiritual talks. Her husband manages a wholesale store in Stanleyville (The other Kathryn). They bro’t us some delicious chocolate candy and caramels, as well as little tins of various things, sweetened milk, chocolate sauce, lobsters, and margarine.
I am looking at the plan you sent me of your apartment, and wondering what you are doing, how the rent payments are coming, etc. It has been upon my heart in prayer especially lately. I wish there was more we could do, for it would be too bad to give up such a nice place. Do tell us how things are coming. How are you feeling now?
We are surely looking forward to the bikes’ arrival, have had a notice that they are in the Congo, but that is all. The other day Kenny was making believe opening mail as we do, and he spread out a sheet of folded paper, and looked up with animated face and said, “The bikes are in Stanleyville!!” I wish it were true. Already Kenny’s birthday has passed and Paul’s is due next Saturday, but we are trying to teach the children to be patient, and not to be disappointed when they don’t come.
Congo is so indefinite sometimes about things we are looking for. K had a nice party, with ice cream, cake and “chocolate” tea, and there were some nice presents, a lovely little blue plastic flute to play, and ABC book, some Tootsie rolls, gum and a package of Jello and a tin of cherries. He opened the first present, and the second one he turned to Paul and said, “I think this is for you,” so we let it be so, and Paul opened it. Paul was so sweet about it and didn’t expect anything for himself.
I am very well now, and I don’t even fall asleep in the early evenings as I used to, I seem to be able to do more. I think it is because we continue to have good food, varieties of fresh vegetables, fruit, and milk. The Lord is so good to provide enough money to pay for these things. David is very large now and heavy, weighs 28 lbs; Paul weighs 34 and Kenny 41. It will be soon hard to tell them apart. You can see by the pictures how close together K and P are in height. David is just as big around, but his legs are shorter yet. He is so good-natured and happy and loveable.
We killed a snake in the bedroom a few days ago, I had seen it just as it was crawling from the floor up into the springs. When the houseboys came to kill it they couldn’t see it at all so I just picked up the corner of the mattress and swung it back double and there was the snake! They said it would kill a person, but we never do know for sure.
Love, Hector & Ione
On the 16th July, Ione writes to Hector’s family:
We’re celebrating birthdays just now. Yesterday Paul was three, and tomorrow Hector will be –? We are forgetting I guess. We had a nice little birthday tea at 4 o’clock and the “aunties” (lady missionaries working with the Macmillan’s – Verna Schade, Viola Walker and Olive Bjerkseth) came. It is so difficult out here to have presents, especially for children that we have requested for all three of their birthdays that they bring no presents. The birthday, to them, is the cake, and we try to decorate it as brilliantly as possible. Paul said when wakened from his nap, “Is the happy birthday ready?” So I let him peek into the refrigerator and see it, three-tiers high, of pink, white, yellow and chocolate with white frosting on the bottom two layers and prune custard on the top one with a green turtle candle in the middle and two white ones beside it. There were flattened prune halves on the sides and these were studded by vari-colored fruit drops from a little package Hector had bro’t from a trip to Buta. One auntie found a Mother Goose book somewhere to give him, and two other aunties had wrapped beautifully a big can of pears and a big can of plums. These were exclaimed about as tho’ they were very precious. Three weeks ago when Kenneth got a plastic whistle and a book and some jello and a can of cherries. I am thankful that we are in a place where little things are appreciated. It makes so much more wonderful the priceless treasure of our wonderful Lord. We want Him to be the most important.
Hector keeps very busy these days, since he is the only man on the station. In this past week he has been in three different directions and some journeys have taken him away several days at a time. Sometimes Kenneth or Paul go with him and that makes it less complicated here for me. He has been baptizing, marrying, having communion with various groups, getting supplies for us whites as well as for the native conference which begins next week. I have meetings three times a week.
Besides Birthdays, the Macmillan’s were chief hosts for the ‘July Conference’, which did not go quite the way Ione and Hector hoped it would; Ione writes to her closest supporters, the Loyal’s on 19th August:
Remember I had asked you to pray for revival at the time of our conference. Well, we are not satisfied with the results. There was great conviction, and a real break-down on the part of some but there is great distress among others who refuse to go all the way. Some claim there is nothing wrong, really are not Christians, and are criticizing and all kinds of stories are going around. It is true when the Lord wishes to send revival and the way is blocked, there is only confusion. Do pray much that this condition will be resolved into a real heaven-sent revival. We cannot carry on without it. God must bless us or we shall utterly fail. There is strong feeling against white people and Communism is creeping in so fast, we are amazed. The other missionaries and we agree that the trouble is entirely spiritual and can be solved with real conversation on the part of the trouble-makers. So please pray much for us at this time. Then there is an organization started that claims to be Protestant, but is not good we are sure, that may even be Communistic, and we are taking our stand against it. Oh, our time may not be long here, but we must be true and strike out against sin and hold Christ up before these people. Pray much for us at this time.
And to Ma Kinso, Ione confided:
Yes, the Conference was somewhat of a disappointment to us. I am sure there has been ever so much conviction and hence much criticism between various groups and tribes. It seemed for a time that all of the criticism was in our direction (white people), but we have since learned it is not so, but of various natives as well, and we believe it is a spiritual thing and when people get right with the Lord, He takes away criticism. Since the Conference we have more than ever made an effort to make the Word plain, and keep to the fundamentals of the Cross, blood etc., and I believe the Holy Spirit is working
The conference was eventful in other ways; Gordon Carter, the eldest of the Carter boys was ill in hospital, nursed by his mother and Viola Walker was also ill. This meant Ione had Jim Carter and the other three Carter children, Rosemary, Philip and Michael to care for. Ione explains in the letter to the Loyal’s mentioned above, that at this time she was catering for 10-12 people for a three-week period. This letter was predominantly a ‘thank you’ as the Loyal’s had sent Ione a package. She writes:
I opened the packages with all six children looking on, and it was difficult to keep the cards right with the gifts, so I have not been able to identify each thing with the giver. Please forgive me for this, for every gift is so much appreciated. The children so much enjoyed watching, and you should have heard the whoops of joy when we came to the suckers and lemon drops. I’m afraid we delved right into the other ‘eatables’ as well, some of the ready-mix cakes were very welcome, puddings, jello, etc. Folk were arriving at midnight and others leaving at dawn, so the instant cocoa came into use, as well as Ada Wideman’s instant coffee which she sent a short time ago. I never saw a time when more was required of me, at all hours of day and night, but in spite of my heaviness of body just now, I kept feeling quite well. The good food was a real help.
We used the devil’s food mix for my birthday cake and used the ready-mix frosting. But we served it a little ahead of time while the big crowd was here. Pearl Hiles is going to put the Frostee ice cream mix in her refrigerator as ours doesn’t get cold enough for that. And, Ann Carriger, if you could know the joy the children had with the Kool-aid, you would be glad you sent it. When the fourth little guest child (Gordon) was brought here to convalesce for a few days before making the long journey to his home, we were able to serve him some cold drink, and in several pretty colours! We creamed the tuna and had it over potatoes; and the bouillon cubes are very delicious. The ready-mix rolls we used today as cinnamon rolls, and they are a real treat. Thank you so much for all these eatables. Everything was in excellent condition and every cake rose beautifully. I find if I put such things into a tin right away they will keep about a month, if not eaten up before!
And it wasn’t just food that Ione was grateful for:
I think there were socks for the children and 3 pairs of panties all in one group; thank you so much for these. All are good fits. The biggest socks can wait just awhile for Kenneth, and the next two, sizes 7-1/2 and 7 came just right for Kenneth and Paul right now. The little white ones are just right for David now. He has enough shoes for a while and we are glad of socks to go with them.
All of my garments will be just right to put on when I come from the hospital. It will be so nice to have fresh things then. I am especially grateful for the nightie, for I needed that right away. Was that from you, Inie? Your card seemed the nearest to it of any. If so, thank you very much. The crème shampoo went into use very soon after it was discovered, and I’m afraid it won’t last long, Mrs McNair, for it seems so many heads need washing so often. Thank you for it. I’m not sure what went with Verna Cole’s pretty card with the luscious strawberries on. Was it the soft blue and white nylon panties? Thank you so much. I’m pretty sure the pink ones are from Alta Smith, and many thanks. Thank you Mabel Wiser, for the items you sent. All very useful. Now I think I have identified the boys’ socks, pink apron and pantie package with a pretty pansy card marked Bertha Lefurge. Thank you very much. And Mrs Balwin, how did you know I was wishing for some nylon hose? What I bro’t out have all finished. I haven’t forgotten those two pretty dresses you gave me before we left (a little over a year ago now) for I am saving them to wear when I come from the hospital. I still have lots of pretty dresses, and I am wearing only maternity dresses right now. Those very welcome cotton panties are large enough for me to use now, as well as later. The half-slip, cotton blouse and silk hose are ever so useful. Thanks for them. With Peggy Reh’s pair of hose, that makes 3 pair, and that is all I need for now. I have bottled them to keep them from insects. Had I told you, Peggy, how we needed training panties for the boys? Anyway, you have sent just what they needed and I thank you, and the darling little blue knit suit is just right for David now.
Whoever sent that talcum powder gets a thanks in my heart at every bath time, for I like to use powder every day, but it goes so fast we must ration that like the suckers! These two tins will do for quite a while as they are large. I will keep one for the new baby. Thanks too for the tooth powder, hand cream and soaps, and the soft pieces of tissue paper and the odd ribbons as well as the ribbons on the packages. Oh, yes, the pot-holders were another splendid tho’t, for our kitchen boy uses them up very fast. That’s a very practical kind. And the transfer patterns are grand, Mrs Wideman. I have looked them all over and find some I can use right away for little baby things.
And speaking of baby things, I want to tell you how the Lord has undertaken for us in that regard. You see, the time is getting pretty near, and although I had heard that there was a box or two of baby things on the way, I feared the things would not arrive in time, and I was lacking in diapers, nightdresses and receiving blankets. Pearl and I often exchange or share children’s supplies, for she has several baby clinics and can use garments that my children cannot use anymore, and sometimes she has received things that she feels are needed in my little family.
I was speaking to her about diapers and found that she could give me enough to ‘get me by’. Then Marcellyn received a box of new baby things and because she tho’t Pearl needed them more than she, sent them to her, and Pearl called me when she opened it, and do you know that is was made up entirely of baby gowns and receiving blankets! Isn’t the Lord good? Pearl gave me all I need for now, so I am ready to take the long journey to the hospital. Unless we feel we must leave before, we’ll not leave here until two weeks before the baby is due, and that will be the last of September. We’ll go 550 kilometres, about 350 miles to an American doctor, Dr. Paul Brown, I have such peace about going there, even tho’ it is so far. We will live in a two-room rest house and eat our meals under a big tree.
A leopard was reported on the station but have not seen it. No more snakes in the bedrooms lately; just a few cockroaches and bats banging around at night. I dyed my living and dining room curtains ecru as they were discolouring from dampness. Did I ever tell you that the dishes you gave me came without a breakage, and they had even put in two extra cups, so I really have a set! The beautiful blue teapot is lovely whenever I serve tea. I have so many reminders of the Loyal’s. Thank you so much for everything.
Lovingly, Ione McMillan
Later in September 1951, Ione is still in a reflective mood about the conference and in a letter to supporters writes:
Just one year ago Hector was coming out of the hospital, weak, but strong in the Lord, for He had met the Lord and said, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.” And this past year we have been seeing that blessing, in freedom in giving messages, earnest hearers, changed lives, the supply of needs for building materials, home, shop, the women’s work and journeys to the outstations. Hector wondered how he could do the tasks left to him by our senior workers who are home on furlough, but the jobs seem to get done. I hesitated to take on the women’s work and music classes in the boys’ school, for there were three children of our own instead of two. But that, too has been made possible, and we trust will continue to be possible, even tho’ there will soon be four, the Lord willing!
The revival started at one end of our outstations seems to have a repetition at another group of outstations in another direction where the teacher Simon Mbama is labouring. But oh, for revival on our local station where we see coldness and worldliness. It will come, tho’ not without real intercession and agonizing on our part. A native conference which we held recently served only to convict and stir up those who really needed Him, to such an extent that there has followed a month of real suffering on our part because of criticism and ill-feeling. Oh, do pray that now we may hold on and take whatever may come rather than miss the revival that we are sure He will send.
We want to thank you for your continued love and interest. Your prayer-life is so important to us personally, as well as to the work. Do pray that we shall not fail Him in the wonderful opportunities here. Lovingly in Him, the McMillan’s.
In September 1951, the family move to Banda in preparation for the baby’s arrival, Hector writes to Kinso:
At last we have some time to write to you without having to rush. It is wonderful to be relieved of responsibility for a few weeks, although we realize it makes it more difficult for the others at Bongondza. We left about midnight last Sunday, spent Monday and Tuesday night with the Millikins at Titule (they have a new 6 wks old baby), and came on here the next day. We have taken Viola’s car, which brought us along without any trouble. Our boys, Tele & Nichola & his wife came with us. Ione stood the trip quite well except that she was a bit tired on arrival.
Mr and Mrs Dix are in charge of this station. They came here a little before you folks opened Bongondza. They have built it on a flat-topped hill with a view of at least 70 kms on every side. Our boys were amazed that such a place existed, where there is no jungle.
Dr and Mrs Brown are finding plenty to do. There are about 300 patients on the waiting list for operations besides all the regular patients. Then there is a camp for lepers, probably another 300. I was down with the Doctor for a service this morning, when I spoke in Bangala. The missionaries here all use Bazandi, but the natives hear Bangala. The Doctor says they do not encourage white people to come, in fact Millikins were the first ones to have a baby here. Ione and Mrs Brown hadn’t met since ’35 so they have been having some good visits.
I have left the workmen doing several big jobs which should keep them busy until we get back. We just finished a kiln of bricks before we left, so that has to be taken down and moved. Another job was the getting out of more stones for the school foundation. The masons are finishing off the store-room, office and class-room, so that there will be a class in it by the time the inspector comes this month. Verna wanted to move Likali’s 2nd year down to the new room and let Ngbayo take his group up to the girls’ school. Then the original boys’ school can be used for a sort of shop for manual training.
Viola is taking the women for the two morning classes; Ione has a project for them to do in their villages for the Wednesday meeting. In fact, it is something for the KINSOS when they return. So you better hurry and get back! ! !
The new bridge at Buta is real nice. It has been open for almost two months now. The area around Bambili is undergoing some wonderful changes. They have machinery there which will make 5 kms of road every day. They are getting the natives on little farms and gradually introducing cattle.
I’ll leave a few lines for Ione now. – Dear Kinsos: I will just greet you and then this letter must go. Hector has been showing his pictures nearly every night. These people are very kind. Love, Ione
Ione writes to supporters and family who have kept a steady supply of packages and parcels. These seem to arrive with very good timing and all with treats for the children. They consist of clothing, food packets, flavourings they can add to fresh local produce and cake mixes. In her letters, Ione tells how she has used the supplies, most of which survive the transit time intact and in good condition. This time most of the baby things are coloured pink, so friends and family back home seem to be hoping a girl would arrive. Ione does not give anything away in her replies and thanks for these gifts.
However, in a letter to her mother on the 1St October, Ione writes:
Everything seems to be all right after examination. The first examination (and by the way the first I have had for this baby!) the doctor said the heartbeat was that of a boy; the next two weeks later, he was doubtful and said it sounded like twins! But he could only locate one baby. You know how big I get, and I guess he tho’t I was big enough for two.
The Loyal’s layette arrived just before we left and it was such a big one. Mrs Flemington put in a darling little bonnet. There is a darling nylon pink hairbrush and comb set, tiny white kid shoes with pink rosettes, everything PINK practically, so they at least are showing their desire for a girl.
And Ione uses the relaxed time before the baby arrives for some catalogue shopping, on the 2nd October, she writes to Marion Hutchins at Mission Headquarters:
This is a hasty note to tell you to look out for three orders we have put thru to be billed at the headquarters and deducted from our gifts (if there are some!). There are two orders with Montgomery Ward, one some shop equipment, and another household items. (In a letter to the family at this time, Ione reveals that some of the shopping was for toys for Christmas) Then there is one for Moviemite Co. for parts to the projector we have.
We are now at Banda, an A.I.M. station where Dr. Brown is expecting to help us when our baby arrives. The time is at hand, but as yet no baby in hand! We’ll let you know.
We trust you are well and that all is going well at the home, or homes should we say now. We want to give $100 toward the expense of 1158, but to be deducted in $25 lots, whenever you think it won’t ‘hurt’ too much. We think perhaps the Nov. allowance would be a good time to begin. We have been praying for this new project, but want to have a material part in it also.
Greetings to Pudneys, Elizabeth, Helen, and all. Lovingly, Ione
Finally, John Howard puts in an appearance on the 18th October, weighing 8 pounds and thirteen ounces. Leone gets a short note telling her:
I am O.K. and didn’t have a very bad time. Baby came quickly. Love, Ione
Leone Reed gets a lengthier letter on 21st November, 1951:
The new baby is one month old and is gaining steadily. He is looking more and more like David. I love to take care of him, and it seems that every time Hector comes into the house he finds me holding John. It is so restful just to sit and enjoy him; I am so glad that I can nurse him. It is nice to be feeling good again myself, so ambitious and light. Hector continues to gain weight and his clothes have become quite a problem, all too small or ripped or buttons off. But he is very patient. (Pause while I laugh at Kenneth: he is chasing a big blue hornet around with his little rubber hammer. He got him cornered up in the window and put his hands on his hips and said, “Boy, he doesn’t have much clothes on, nothing in the middle!” It is one of those ‘wasp-waist’ hornets!) Paul is the heart-breaker these days, with his big wistful (mischievous!) eyes. And David is a round little ball with dreamy blue eyes and still those wispy curls over his forehead. He is an ‘ammal’ most of the time, and one can expect at any time to see him put on his fierce look and come at you with all fours. He has been trying to climb out of his crib and I’m afraid he’ll have a bad fall, so we have given him a single bed like the older boys. It is quite low and if he falls out he’ll land on a folded quilt.
Hector developed some pictures and the prints are still wet but I have laid out three to send to you. They are very recent, the one of the three older boys together was taken just before we went to Banda, and the others after coming back. I’m sorry we don’t have a good view of the baby’s face but will try again. His eyes are dark and beady like David’s were at first, but then they turned a lovely light blue. I weighed John again day before yesterday and he is almost 11 pounds, at one month. I attend Pearl’s baby clinic, at least long enough to put the baby on her scales, once a week. Pearl has given us so many nice baby things, and she is planning to make four little socks to hang up at Christmas time, and FILL THEM!
Six weeks later, the family are back at Bongondza and although happy to be back ‘home’, they are looking forward to Kinso and Ma Kinso’s return. Unfortunately, Kinso requires surgery for a hernia and their return is delayed until February 1952.
As the year draws to a close there are changes on the horizon for the mission, Verna Schade will be going home to be replaced by a returning Mary Baker, two new nurses are expected which will mean Pearl Hiles will get a break.
Yet more parcels arrive, including the long-awaited tricycles – and Marcellyn arrives just in time to support Ione. The family experience another bout of bacillary dysentery, but this time Ione is prepared and knows what medication to take and writes to her mother:
I immediately took the medicine and was well enough by the next morning to can 16 cans of pineapple sauce. The cans we bro’t out for our canner do not last long because of rusting, but I have found that our margarine cans fit the covers and the stuff keeps. I can things as fast as we have empty cans to use. We have now some goat meat, antelope, orange marmalade beside the items mentioned.
Download Chapter 11 - Being at the Helm