Chapter 13 – Shocks and Surprises

Chapter 13

Shocks and Surprises

As Ione had predicted, the Christmas parcels begin arriving and in March 7 arrive together. Hector is in Stanleyville having some dentistry work carried out. Kinso has travelled with him and takes the opportunity during the five day stop over to investigate the non-Catholic Belgian School. Besides the McMillan growing family, other missionaries on the other stations have children; the Carters at Ekoko have four, the Artons at Boyulu have one, the Walbys at Maganga have two with a third on the way, the Boys family at Banjwadi have three. This means that a lot of missionary time is going to be spent home schooling. The alternative is to send all the children to Rethy, which was not only much further for everyone to travel being 800 miles away but also expensive. The mission needed a better solution. Ione favours this solution to the children’s education, writing to her mother on 1st March 1953:

if they live in the U.F.M Home we hope to build soon in Stan, they can be cared for by our own missionaries and therefore not miss a real Christian environment.

In her mother’s package, came shoes for all the boys and new overalls, which they wore to church for Stephen’ dedication service. Stephen wore a 40 year old dress that had been used when Ione was a baby.

Some of the things Ione hides away for birthday presents during the coming year.

In her ‘thank you’ letter to her mother, Ione reveals that she now has 6 children under her wing:

You are thinking we have five boys now, but it is six. We have taken a mulatto boy to live with us now. He is 13 years old and his name is Joseph. He is a darling little fellow and a real Christian. He was raised by one of our best missionary ladies, Mabel Wenger, from Pennsylvania. She found him down country when she was with another mission and has kept him until now, along with two others and several little black orphans. She has done wonderfully in training them all. But now Joseph needs schooling and our native school has the classes he needs for 5th and 6th year. We have agreed to keep him two years and let him go to the day school here. He sleeps in our first basement room which opens out at the side of the house, but when it is cold or rainy or when Hector is away I have him sleep in John’s room and I take David with me. He is really an answer to prayer for someone to help me with the children. He is loveable and comical too, with so many cute little jokes. He speaks English very well. He is a good eater, can put away about four times as much rice as Hector!

At the beginning of the year, Ione has many ‘thank you’ letters, one being to a church in Michigan who have decided to send a monthly allowance for Stephen’s upkeep. Ione’s letters include some description of life in Africa, such as when the family are driven out by Driver Ants –

The people are forest farmers; they keep cutting down trees to make their gardens, but the forest seems never to end. Because the trees are so near to us we sometimes have visits from animals, snakes and bugs of different kinds. Last week driver ants all but drove us out of our large brick house. (Driver ants have migratory routes that rarely change.) They decided to raid our house and with one account swarmed in a million strong into Paul’s bed, David’s bed, Hector’s bed, Kenneth’s bed – and one by one came trouping into the big double bed, which after all does have limitations! There was only one room left and there were stragglers even there. The only way to keep them back is with lots of fire or water, and in the wee hours of the night we decided to just try to keep our little family sleeping and just remove them to another house if the ants came to the last room. The ants didn’t come any farther that night but toward evening the next night began to make another attack and we got started earlier and swished at them with water and burned papers around the entrance until they went away.

In a letter to Alice at the end of March, Ione informs the family that she now dedicates time to home schooling Kenny and Paul:

I am trying to give Kenneth and Paul 2-1/2 hours school a day. We have sent for the first year work of the Calvert Course, which costs us $80 for materials for teacher (me!) and two pupils for one year. Kenneth is beginning to read a little; Paul is still in “reading readiness”. Our recently bricked-in sleeping porch makes a nice bright classroom and Hector has installed a blackboard which covers one wall. We have the little desks the Westcott children left here.

Desks for the native school.

The books and crayons are going into our new school cupboard in our “classroom”. Thank you so much for everything. We do not mind at all that they did not arrive at Christmas, for the things mean a great deal to us just now.

Hector announced tonight that he has just finished making 24 desks for the native school. He’s got some wonderful tools now and high-powered machinery and can turn them out like an assembly line. He’s just completed another unit of the 7-unit boys’ school and wants to furnish the room now.

Again packages arrive in a timely manner:

Toothpaste, too, was just at an end with us. Am glad for a good big tube. The talcum is almost gone already, as I have had to use it for the baby’s bath every day, and sometimes oftener as he gets prickly heat easily among his layers of fat! Yesterday Pearl found a big tin of baby talc which she gave me among other things which she is getting rid of while she’s packing. So I can save the rest of the Cashmere Bouquet for myself. I am popping the corn by the cupful, and have had two lots of it already. It is so good. The nuts we bro’t out on David’s birthday and the children used some dental forceps and had fun cracking them. But I saved enough for some fudge, and I think there are 5 more in the can for something else. They were in very good condition, tho the package had come apart and the cover had come off the talcum. Did you put in a decal for decorating furniture or wall? We found one on the floor afterwards and weren’t sure where it had come from. Hector stuck it on our utility cupboard door. We have used already the pudding powders and one of the baby foods. I hid the hankies away before Hector saw them and will give them on his birthday; I might share them with Joseph, am not sure. Joseph’s birthday is in September. The plastic panties are nice for Stephen, and the bread wrapper has a good many uses. It seems too pretty to use for bread, and it gets mouldy anyway if we keep it there all the time. It will do for storing things in the girls’ refrigerators (Mary Rutt as well as Mary Baker, has a big one). The puzzle is just fine for the children. Thank you so much for everything.

Now for the other package, which came at another time, I can’t remember the date, the one with the big Noah’s ark game. That is just grand for the children, and they do enjoy it a lot. The two older boys and Joseph play it and they let David put the animals into the boat. He loves to take charge of the boat. The best John can do is chew the tails off the animals! We are trying to preserve them, tho’! The animals, I mean, not the tails. And all of those books are a real help to our supply. It is so good to have the Bible story books with such attractive pictures. And the four just alike of the Three Bears, etc., they carry around everywhere with them, as they have such pretty scalloped edges. They like best to go straight thru all four, and now I find Kenneth ‘reading’ them to Paul. I am taking the stories in the Bible story book and enlarging upon it from the Bible, then putting it on our big blackboard in stick-man, with a Bible verse appropriate. After Jonah, I let them draw little whales with chalk on the bottom of the blackboard. Thank you so much for all of the things you sent. I don’t see how you got together all the money it meant to buy and send so much.

Coral and Bill Snyder are based at Bongondza and are having meals with the Macmillan’s; whilst this may be extra work it is also extra support as Coral takes charge of the children allowing Ione freedom to go out to the neighbouring villages with Viola Walker – something which pleases Ione immensely. Coral wrote much later the Ione and Hector were good role models for them and that Ione was the only person on the station who seemed interested in the fact that she was pregnant.

The villagers were not too impressed as they wanted to meet the new baby. Stephen is her first bottle fed baby, which is another factor that enables Ione this freedom. Ione captures some of what it is like for her in this letter to her mother on 28th March 1953:

We had a scorpion in our women’s class last week, a big sprawl grey one, on a box that one woman was sitting on while sewing, in our basement. I killed it with my shoe, as the other women didn’t have shoes on.

It is now 3 P.M., and everyone is awake but Kenny. John is back (with wet panties) David needs shoes put on, John is asking for meeilk. He talks much plainer than David did his age; Milk was always wunk with David. Not much chance of letter-writing now, but I’ll keep trying. Stephen’s needs are few. It’s the David and John age that keep me jumping. But they’re so cute, Mother, just like soft little dolls. Oh,Oh – I guess I’m finished for a while. John spilled his milk on the floor, and while I was getting the cloth Paul occupied my chair, and is now sitting on the window sill facing me, trying to cut a Christmas card with some little plastic scissors. “Dey don’t cut,” he’s saying, and he’s about right. They’re no good. Now David’s intimidating John with the knock-out bench hammer. John’s not easily scared, but screams anyway. Now David’s using the hammer to open the windows in the living room (they are not glass, however.)

Well, I will close, as John is in my lap. As I was attending to the little needs of the children, it seemed that the Lord said to my, “Lovest thou me more than these children?” And I quickly answered in my heart, “Ye Lord, thou knowest that I love Thee.” Then it seemed as tho He said, “Feed my lambs.” I am trying to give the children spiritual food, and these native women with whom I work, as well as the houseboys. Pray for me. Lovingly, Ione

In a letter to Olive Bjerkseth who is back in the States on furlough, Ione writes:

I just heard tonight that the Walby’s had a new baby boy March 29 at Oicha (Wilfred James – I remember meeting the Macmillan family on our way up to Oicha, it was a chance meeting on the road and an opportunity to meet the latest Macmillan arrival. As a five year old, I had grave concerns, I had been praying diligently for a baby brother and here was Ione with a little boy – had she got there first and taken my ‘brother’, Ione soothed my fears – yours is waiting for you she explained. She was right!). You remember our teacher Petero Ngome? His wife had their fourth girl this morning here. Derkka (Masini’s wife who had to have a caesarean for her first baby in 1951) expects another in June. In the past week or so there have been 12 on the station who accepted Christ. I was able to get out with Viola a week ago Sunday to the Bagara Road and Daka Road. Had a grand time. Left all of the children home.

In April, Ione gets another charge, Janet Cowger, a nurse who had replaced Pearl Hiles, asks Ione to foster a month old baby weighing only 3 pounds.

The gifts keep coming and in one letter Ione writes in May 1953, she thanks Mrs Smith for a monthly donation for John’s upkeep and for contributing to the correspondence course Ione uses to teach the boys. As with all gifts, Ione’s letters aims to convey a little about the people they are supporting and of John she writes:

He is still so little and needs lots of care. He feeds himself, but milk is still his favourite. He tried to get me to go to the kitchen and give him some a few days ago, and kept pulling on my skirts until I finally turned around and then he gave me a push from behind, and as if that weren’t enuf, he gave the marching orders he hears at the school boys’ drill, “Gauche, droit, un, deux,” (left, right, one, two!) He’s such a funny little fellow! You hear him calling out Mbote (hello) to the natives, then on occasion he will politely shake hands with a Bonjour, but for me it’s just, Hello, Mommie! He’s not smart, I want you to know, it’s just that he keeps hearing these words in Bangala, French and English. You asked John if he had to give up his bed for Stephen. Well, he didn’t at first for we had a little cradle for Stephen. Now Stephen is too big for that, and John is happy to be ‘one of the boys’ in the bottom bed of a double-decker (bunk beds for English readers). Paul sleeps above him, and Kenny sleeps above David. We put a little mattress on the floor beside the bed at first until he stopped falling out!

I would say this has been our best year yet on our field, for we have seen more saved recently than ever before. Every few days someone comes to us as inquirers. There were 90 in the class this week for those who have accepted Christ. There have been a great many schoolboys, and this is something for which we have been praying for years. Some women, too. I am having fine times with the women. I have been getting out more frequently to the villages since February.

This is all for now. Love, Ione

Ione upbeat mood of the mission work spills over into a letter to another supporter:

There has been a remarkable turning in the large boys’ school, for which we are very thankful. There were 90 in the baptism class last week. Some of my women have been coming, too. One day when I tho’t I had had the hardest time in history (imagine trying to satisfy 50 little backwoods mothers and wives with bits of cloth and the proper instruction to achieve under garments for themselves and their babies!), with my last ounce of strength, after a message that I tho’t was as weak as water, threw out a general invitation to accept Christ and three promptly said out loud, “That’s for me.”

And whilst most letters are full of love for her ‘boys’ there is evidence that Ione and Hector are disciplinarians:

Well the children are in bed, but still making noises, and there is no meeting tonight. The missionaries usually meet Mon. nite to study French. Paul tip-toed in the office and handed me the strap, “You left this in the bedroom,” he said. “Do you think I’ll need it?” I said, rather sternly, and he caught the hint and went back. It’s Hector that really uses it with success.

Lovingly,   Ione

Ironically, just as Ione is feeling so positive, illness strikes, on 11th July Hector write to the family back home:

Dearest Mother, Marcellyn and Lucille:

This is a note that we want to get off with the telegram. It must be short as it goes the first thing in the morning. Ione wants to dictate it –

“I’m sorry if the telegram has upset you. We made it urgent because I want Marcellyn to come so badly and I felt that she will somehow be able to arrange it. I’m not seriously ill but this morning I had a little spell that convinced me that there is something wrong with my heart although it may not be serious. It was over in a few moments and it wasn’t a bad pain but because of that and the fact that the doctor at Banalia wanted me to come in for a cardiograph to Stanleyville, I know now there is something wrong with my heart.

We were out on trek with the family because this is holiday time. And when I left I felt grand and was thrilled with the first three days because there were nearly a hundred souls saved on the Panga road, where there are nice new rest houses. Then each of the children one by one had vomiting spells and then got over it immediately. We thought we had gotten a little germ of some kind. Then one morning Hector took sick with the same thing and recovered quickly too. But then my turn came I couldn’t stop vomiting and I vomited so hard that by night time I was feeling a tightening in my throat every time I vomited. I had no pain in my heart but I got a bit short of breath and asked Hector for an extra pillow. Then he decided he’d better send for the doctor at Banalia which was fortunately much closer than if I had been home (that is, 45 Kms). The doctor came right out and stayed with me an hour, and then came back the next day. The Lord must have put us near him because he is a heart specialist. The second day he didn’t stay so long and my nausea was better, my pulse was normal and he said I could return to the station when I felt like it, but I must come to Stanleyville within two months where he could do a cardiograph. The Doctor had scheduled a visit to Bongondza (which he makes +), the following day. So we gave him a letter for Jenkinson’s. He and the nurse came out to us as soon as they could in our other station car with a bed so that I could come right away in comfort. We stopped again at the doctor’s in Banalia. He seeing I was still in bed said it would be wise to stay in bed for one week, which I did. Then last night I felt so good that I went out into the living room to see a new moving picture of David Livingston. I didn’t have a very good night after that and early this morning I vomited violently twice. Then at 11:30 this morning this little spell came on, so Hector and I decided to send a telegram, with Mr. Jenkinson’s approval as regards Marcellyn’s coming out.

Now don’t worry. The children are all well and are well cared for, for the time being. After the spell I felt good again and ate a good dinner and feel quite alright for the doctor to come to see me tomorrow. No stone will be unturned to see that I get the best of care, but I want Marcellyn.

John 14:1

Heb. 13:5b

With all my love, Ione”

Kinso recalls:

The doctor had said that if Ione continued to make progress he thought she could get up after one week in bed. She tried at the end of one week but didn’t feel fit enough so she wisely stayed in bed. She had tried once or twice after that. The last time she was sitting up for quite a time. However, it proved to be too much of a strain and last Saturday, July 11th, she was very ill and we all felt it was wise to send you the above wire. (Wire: Ione very ill. Heart condition. Marcellyn come. Please pray. Notify church and relatives. McMillan.”)

At the same time we sent word to the doctor to ask him to come to see Ione as soon as possible. Yesterday, Sunday, afternoon and evening she was very ill indeed and during the night we certainly had good reasons to fear the worst. All night long prayer was offered – we whites were in the sick room and our African brethren gathered in the next room and kept up an all-night vigil. Relief came early this morning but she has been very low again since then and right at this moment she is a very very sick woman and still very much on the danger list. Miss Cowger is now giving her glucose injection.”

That brings us right up to the moment – 11:30 P.M. Monday, July 13th. The doctor has not yet come. We will keep you informed of developments.

Banalia Ferry, 1950s

Yesterday afternoon Ione was very low and there was no sign of the doctor coming. Miss Cowger and the rest of us had done all we could so I decided to go Banalia to see why the doctor had not come. I left here at 5:30 p.m. and got to Banalia at 8 p.m. (See photo of Banalia Ferry) There I had to cross the River Aruwimi by canoe for we can’t get an automobile across after sundown. I found that the doctor had a very good reason for not having come to us earlier but as soon as I explained the situation he gathered up his things and came with me at once. It was close to midnight when we got back to Bongondza and I was happy to learn that Ione is now out of danger. He has left instructions and medicines for her treatment and has promised to write at once to the heart specialist in Stanleyville to arrange for Ione to go there and he expects that we will have an answer by next Friday’s mail.”

Our African brethren have been a source of strength to us at this time. I wish you could have seen them on their knees and on their faces pleading with God for Ione. I am sure it is in answer to their prayers and the prayers of you friends at home that Ione is now declared to be out of danger. There is still much need for prayer but we believe we have the victory.

CABLE RECEIVED JULY 24th from Bongondza:-

“Marcellyn arrived. Ione better. Stanleyville hospital heart specialist.”

Hector records the events thus:

Dear Friends,

…Many of you will have heard about Ione’s serious illness of which we informed our headquarters by cablegram.

The heart attack came about 11 A.M. Saturday July 11. Our nurse, Janet Cowger, was soon at her bedside. The pain went down her left arm and soon made her whole body tingle. By late afternoon we got her to rest quietly and she dictated a letter for me to send to her Mother and sisters. At four in the morning she had me call the nurse again and just after daylight a letter to call the doctor got on its way.

Unfortunately for us the doctor was being recalled to Stanleyville from his place in Banalia, our gov’t post. His replacement didn’t realize the seriousness of her case amidst all the confusion of his first day in a new territory. During that day he had performed 5 different operations; 4 of them were unsuccessful. All this was unknown to us as we waited for him to come to our aid. Mr Jenkinson finally made the long trip to Banalia on Monday afternoon. The doctor arrived about midnight.

Sunday evening was a very critical time when a real battle for her life began. When we gathered around her bed about 7:00 P.M. we little imagined we would be there until 4 A.M. The 6 missionaries became involved in getting hot coffee, fanning, patting, praying, singing, reading promises from the Word. In our living room the native leaders gathered, weeping and crying as they besought the Lord to spare her life. Fortunately the children slept through it all. We kept the light plant going all night.

As we neared exhaustion from singing, Miss Baker slipped away and got her electric record-player that changes records automatically. She picked out some appropriate hymns and brought the machine to the room. What a blessing this was for Ione! Little by little her nerves quieted down, she finally laid back on the pillow and seemed to relax. Now she went to the other extreme and all activity ceased except about 8 respirations a minute. She whispered, “Just let me hear one more hymn then I’ll go. That finished, we asked Mr Jenkinson to pray, expecting him to commit her to the Lord. (Unknown to some of us he had said earlier in the evening, that God had given him the confidence that Ione would be raised up again.) Even in that darkest hour, when even Ione had given up her heroic struggle, our dear Mr Jenkinson once more asked the Lord to raise her up. One slow breath followed another until she made a slight improvement and soon after fell into a sleep of exhaustion. The rest of us did likewise for two hours until daylight.

Ione, with family while recovering from her heart illness – Fall, 1953
Ione with her mother, Leone Reed

One of the first things Ione remembered in the morning was the promise, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” I looked it up and read all the verses before and after it in Psalm 30. (v5 – this is a significant verse in my life also, it is what Eileen Walby held on to after the death of her first child – which is why I am called Joy).She said her life hung by such a slender thread and really the air on the “other side” was fresher than down here. The singing of the lovely tropical birds was refreshing to her. One inquisitive little fellow came quite close to the window looking in as much as to say, “It’s all right, the Lord takes care of us, too.”

Soon a heavy rain came on with thunder and lightning. During the day two more spells came on accompanied by pain which caused us much anxiety. However we knew that the cablegram was on its way asking God’s people to pray and also requesting Ione’s sister to come out to us from the States.

The nurse’s skilfulness and wisdom is to be highly commended. Other dear missionaries gave unstintingly of their time and ability. The children are receiving competent care and have quickly made the necessary adjustment. Ione so much appreciates the ice and jello from the refrigerator.

The doctor said she must be flown to New York. We hope to have all the arrangements made within a week or ten days. Plans for my return with the children can be made when Ione’s sister arrives.

If you want any further information you may receive it at 1150 N.63rd Phila 31 Pa. Yours in Christ, Hector

Ione gets to Stanleyville and in a letter to Hector and the boys, there are shocks and surprises:

Dearest Hector and Boys,

I will write a little note to send along. Janet and Marcellyn are here just now writing letters too. I’m glad they’re staying tonight yet for I was afraid they’d go back right after dinner and they had only been in & out quickly a couple of times. You must pray much for me for I see now how difficult it is going to be to bring about the relief I need. The doctor is kind but it’s I who has to face the nurses and I seem to be a bit off to a wrong start, and as yet I don’t feel he has much of a reputation here. Maybe I just imagine it. But I told him this morning I would rather go to America than to stay here as things are. Just pray that I may keep from getting anxious.

There will be more to say after the doctor comes again. He wants to consult with two other doctors.

Now Kenny, my bed looks out of a window where I can see the Congo River all day and the big boats passing. I like to hear them whistle.

Paul, you must not tease the others but be a good boy and run fast to Auntie Marcellyn when she calls.

David, keep on sharing with John and play nicely with him.

John, you tell Daddy or Auntie Marcellyn when you need the pottie.

Stephen, you mustn’t make noises anymore at night.

Now, Hector, you do your best to keep them prayed-up and happy, and do stand by Marcellyn and help her a lot. If you think it wise, come in on the courier. If you don’t come, send a letter.

The doctor bro’t another doctor and they are now sure a baby is coming, but my heart is so good now that they are not justified in doing anything about it. So the doctor is recommending to our Legal Rep. (Kinso) that I go home for the duration of the pregnancy and a couchment. So from now on let Kinso do what he feels wisest. No more cables until I’m on the way. Then, I don’t know what. Marcellyn says she’s willing to go back with you if there’s no one else, but is afraid the mission might balk at the cost. However, the church might rally. Don’t urge where you will go just now when you arrive. Let me talk to Mother first. And don’t try to follow me too soon. Let me arrange about a plane first. Love,   Ione

From her hospital bed in Stanleyville, Ione writes to Marion at the mission headquarters thanking her for finding the funds to get Marcellyn out to Africa so quickly:

I don’t know how you did it financially but I am much concerned now because the doctors here said yesterday I must fly home right away. They gave me a vaccination today. Tomorrow they do an electro-cardiograph. You’re supposed to wait 15 days after vaccinations so there may be a little time to get the money. Don’t worry yet about the family coming. There’s no hurry as Marcellyn will stay with them. But get the church straight as to how much money might be accredited to our name unless you have had to use that for Marcellyn!! You probably have done all this & more!!!

She finishes the letter with a request that Dr Westcott attends to her and with typical wry humour writes;

I have been pretty sick, but don’t forget, I’m not dead yet.

Ione also writes to her mother trying to reassure her that she is well enough to travel but that she is two months into what will be her 7th pregnancy.

Before Ione leaves the Hospital in Stanleyville, she writes to the church members back at Bongondza in Bangala:

Mbote mingi epai na bino!

Nalingaki te kutika bino noke boyo na mokanda te. Sasaipi ngai amika na kusala monoko muke liboso batia ngai na avion. Motema na ngai azi na mawa solo zambi na malaria oyo. Kasi ezalaki solo, soko bino asambelake pua na ngai te, kana ngai asirakufe mikolo na yenga 12 julliet. Asalake Ana, Denys, Masini, Samuele, Mayani, Anziambo, na basusu bino uebi basambelake buta yonso. Merci mingi na bino. Kasi mosala na bino asiri kwanza te. Atiki te na kusambela pua na njela molai ngai afata liboso ngai akutana na mama na ngai. Osambeli likula na makei, na biroko na kulia. Asalisi ndeko na ngai na kusinzira bana. Libame, otiki bisu kwanza te. Bacatechists, batarabai, bana classe, base, bato yonso, na pisi yo sene mingi!

Ogami te zambi na kula oyo! Yo akanisi Nzambe asirakufe? Yo akanisi maboko na ye azi pete? Wapi! Yesu Kristu azi lelo pilamoko ye azalaki lobi, na Ye atika bisu soko muke te ! ! Hallelujah!

Na kulinga mingi mingi !   Mme McMillan

Basically, Ione is thanking the church members – Asalake, Ana, Denys, Masini, Samuele, Mayani, Anziambo etc. for their prayers and intercession on her behalf, that she is flying home to the States and testifying to the Lord’s goodness.

The first leg of Ione’s journey home is by plane to Leopoldville as she explains in a letter dated July 30th :

Dearest Daddy and Boys, and Marcellyn,

This will be the only letter before I leave for N.Y. as I am booked for 5:45, today.

When I left you at Stan I couldn’t see my way into the plane very well because of tears. I blinked my eyes when I got inside and looked for a seat. I saw one, but as I sat down I stumbled over a book on the floor. Then I heard a little English voice say, “Daddy, this lady has our seat!” So I quickly got up and found one just behind, across the aisle. Then I looked to see what I stumbled over and it was a Bible! So I took notice of the family of five, and pretty soon the lady spied my Bible in the basket and conversation began. They were the Greenhow’s from Nyankunde! And what precious fellowship we had!

Leola Johnson met me, and took the G’s as well to U.M.H. We were just in time for supper. Then I went right to bed and slept pretty well. I had breakfast and rested some more until 10 when Leola took me to the Consulate. While there she phoned Pan-Am and found out that because of a cancellation there was a place available today; if papers could get in order; otherwise Sun. Aug. 2. The most important thing lacking was proper photos; those you sent won’t do. So Leola took me immediately, got some taken and they had them ready by noon! In the meantime we went to Pan-Am and the missing item there was a doctor’s authorization that I could travel. So she took me to the Medicine Director who saw me immediately and looked over Dr. Rogowsky’s cardio-graph & his letter to Dr. Westcott, likewise the carbon copy of Kinso’s letter to Mr Ohrneman! The original only came to Mr. O’s hand shortly before noon. He has kept in continual touch all morning by phone with Leola & gave his authority whenever needed.

The M.D. authorized me to travel but said I must carry coramine. I don’t have to go again until she takes me to the airport, for she is arranging everything else, and will send a cable to Phila. I’ll probably arrive there Thursday – tomorrow! ! This Leola Johnson is a very clever and sweet girl, and produces wonderful meals as well. She has even paid for my passport which was 500 francs. I didn’t have enough cash! I believe she will add it to the U.M.H. facture. I am a bit tired with all this rush, but perhaps I can rest when we get there. My appetite is good and these little missionary children have helped me to not cry for my own little boys.

I hope the family will be able to come as quickly and as nicely as I have. But I will try to be patient and wait. I will try to write every week.

Give my love to Kinsos, Mary R., Mary B., Janet and Snyder’s.

Tell the boys when Auntie Marcellyn gets enough Sunday clothes made, they can come, too, and I’ll get a place ready. For now, goodbye, and remember “His yoke is easy, His burden is light.”   Lovingly, Mommie

Once Ione reaches Philadelphia, Ione writes again to Hector and the boys:

“His yoke is easy, His burden is light. I’ve found it so-” It gets easier and easier, tho’ I know that every day I am farther and farther from my dear treasures. I keep telling myself that I have not left behind everything precious, for Jesus goes with me all the way, and I do not ever have to let Him go.

This letter is for Marcellyn, too, tho’ I will try to include a special note to her as well.

I came into New York yesterday morning on time, 6:10, and the Taylors met me and very soon I was thru customs & on my way to Phila. I had the use of a wheelchair in N.Y.; also in Lisbon. The Lord gave me kind friends all the way, tho’ not Christians. Twice when refreshment was not provided between stops, two different people bought me coffee. A man & woman from Columbus, O. University people, took a liking to me, and thru them the wheel-chair business started, and they also arranged for me to be taken to a hotel bed for the 7 hours’ wait at Lisbon, while the others went sight-seeing. So I have lacked no good thing. And now I shall take a plane at 6 and be in Detroit by 8. I talked to Lucille on the telephone last evening and she said Mother was arriving today and would be moving next door in Fenton on Monday.

Marion showed me the new gifts to come with our allowance this time. The Pontiac service support is just enough to repay Stan Nicholls for my trip here, and there was a gift of $25 from your Dad which I told Marion to send thru with the children’s allowances, etc. But a gift from Lake Orion 1st Bapt. of $150 I have taken to pay my fare to Detroit ($25) and any expenses from there on. I do not want to touch anything of the family’s and this will maybe last me until you come. I will thank the church, but you thank all the children’s supporters. Do get the form letter off, too! I have written to Dad.

I understand we are to have hot dogs before we leave for the plane. I enjoy the nice food, but just feel very tired.

With much, much love,   Mommie   XXXXX

Ione provides Hector with another update on 4th August 1953 from Ypsilanti, where Dr Westcott practices medicine:

Well, now I have something more definite to tell you. First, let me say I am feeling much, much better, and I am praising the Lord for His guidance all the way.

I took a plane Saturday night from Philadelphia and in less than 2 hours was at Willow Run, Detroit. Maurice, Lucille and Mother were there to meet me and it was a happy reunion. It was quite a way to Fenton and they did not go thru Pontiac. We arrived at about 11 P.M. and found Mr and Mrs Kenneth Hempstead there. They had come over to see when I was arriving and the Peterson children told them to wait and they would see me. So we talked awhile and they said they would tell the folk at the church I had arrived. The news must have gotten around, for the next afternoon Dr. and Mrs Westcott came, and after a little discussion decided to take me to the Ypsilanti hospital that same day. Mother would have come, too, but had to go back to Lansing to move her stuff. She was all packed up and the van was to come on Tuesday. She is moving to a 2nd floor apartment on the same street with Lucille. So she left Lucille’s before I did and agreed to come to Ypsilanti as soon as she was settled. The Westcott’s bro’t me to the hospital that same night, Sun. and I was given a room with a dear Christian lady who had a paralytic stoke. Monday morning I was started on a very busy day of tests, etc. and finished up with a blood transfusion. It has been the same today, with a second pint of blood. I guess it’s the new blood that makes me feel so good!

Dr. Westcott had a long talk with me this morning and told his diagnosis of my case:

The heart attacks were a result of the epidemic infection that touched our family. He said it should have been treated immediately with penicillin or sulpha. It was a temporary thing and passed with the infection with no damage to the heart. We should be able to have next baby all right, but I must have two minor operations afterward and then we can never have any more babies. I guess that sums it all up. He gave the blood because I am anaemic, and I should bring my normal weight up to 130. I’m 117 now.

I think I’ll be released from the hospital tomorrow and will stay at Westcott’s until Mother is ready to have me at the apartment. It is just a small place, but just right for us. My first job is going to be to get ready little packages of clothes for the boys and I’ll send them Air Mail as I can. Just the bare necessities for travel. And we shall hope that there will soon be sufficient money for our family to be reunited.

So far, it seems wisest for you to go immediately upon arrival to Alice’s if she is able to have you, and from there you can arrange for Kenny and Paul to come to Mommy first.

All for now. Am looking for your first letter.   Lovingly,   Ione

And back in Africa, Hector and the boys send Ione messages on 4th August:

Thank you for the Mechano set. I love you Mommie; Paul, David, John, & Stephen do too. – Kenny

Dearest Ione,

I’ll send this to Headquarters hoping they will forward it.

Ma Kinso, David & I got back to Bongondza Thursday evening about 7:30. We had a good trip. We picked up the telegram (also you mother’s parcel) at Banalia that Miss Johnson had sent on the 30th. Quote:

“Ione arrivant Amerique Vendredi matin.”

We are anxiously awaiting news of your trip.

You surely looked lovely with your hair so nicely fixed up. I’m sure it made your trip more enjoyable. Even tho’ so far away from you I’m still thankful that I have the privilege of being your husband. As Mary Baker says, “I’ve got the cream of the crop.”

The children have surely enjoyed that Mechano Set. Kenneth has made all sorts of little things & the others play with them.

Marcellyn has the house in good shape & I’ve done some work in the office.

David is singing “Tom, Tom the Pipers Son”. Marcellyn has been teaching them some new songs. In fact they had one all memorized when we got back from Stan.

Their little shelves in the bedroom are a great help for their daily dressing. Even John can hang up his ‘jamas.

Marcellyn moved down to Viola’s house & likes it quite well. She goes there for Siesta and sometimes stays until 4 p.m. (Even though Hector and Marcellyn are related it would be inappropriate for her to stay in the same house as Hector, the situation could be so easily misconstrued, especially by the polygamous Africans).

Janet has kind of gone to pieces again. (This is a very damming phrase, which reinforces the general perception about people who suffer with mental health issues, Janet does not seem to have the resilience that Pearl seems to have and is struggling with her load. Hector is merely releasing his frustration, he is so used to having a capable woman around). We expect some of these times. She will say she wants to take the next plane home. Coral is getting more into the work. Ma Kinso says Margaret Ogilvie will stay here for several months to help out.

Well, mummie, I’ll say bye bye for now. I’d be willing to stay here until you come back. But Pudneys will know what is best.

All my love, Hector     X

Three days later and Hector is updating Ione:

I’ve just been in to change Stephen & give him his bottle. He’s so sweet & confident as he looks with those big blue eyes right up into your face. Last night I fed him at 10 p.m. & he slept right through until 5:30. I guess that’s the first time. I hope he keeps it up.

I read your letter to the children after family worship tonight. They were so pleased! We remember to pray for you, even at meal times. It seems as though you’ve been gone a month or two.

I got several good letters in the mail & will enclose the important one. It has come at a very convenient time.

Please write my folks when you can. Alice sent me a nice letter but wanted much more news.

Aunt Mable from Three Hills also wrote. Jean wrote to her & she in turn told the women at the prayer meeting. Certainly the Lord has His faithful ones ready at a moment’s notice to come to the throne of Grace.

Kinsos had a station meeting tonight & told us of the plans for John Stevenson & Len Harris (Len Harris is the UK equivalent of Mr Pudney and is based in London; John Stevenson is the financial director in the States). Here for Matondo on September 13 – a day to each department of the work with meetings at night: next week end at Baboro – then pygmies then Buta & Basali road & on to Ekoko Sept. 30.

I hope the Boyes (a mission family based at Banjwadi but whose family come from near Philadelphia) will be getting over to see you from time to time. Their children look real sweet but Mary is very tired.

Marcellyn’s boy (that is houseboy) arrived with the Boyes this afternoon so she can feel freer from kitchen duties now.

The fare by plane for children under two years of age is 1/10 but they only allow one to go at that rate. The fare on the boat is ½ up to 12 years of age, even for a baby in arms. So in some ways the plane is better. We trust the Lord for all these details.

Balemaga has done real well in the kitchen. He has at last taken to himself a wife, so feels quite grown up!

We have the floor done in that next classroom & I have the desks pretty well under way – working odd hours during the mornings.

Well, beloved, good bye for now. Janet has just finished another delivery so lights are out. Much love,   Hector   X

A few days later and Ione is out of hospital:

Dearest Daddy, Auntie Marcellyn and Boys,

Now you know my new house number, and I surely hope to hear from you soon. No letter as yet from my dearest ones. We have a beautiful apartment on the second floor, “where every prospect pleases,” except the rent each month! But it is good to be with Mother, and to be next door to Lucille. We can see their house from kitchen, dining room, and Mother’s bedroom window. My bedroom is on the other corner. I am feeling pretty good and am up a good part of the day. We listened to tape recordings this morning of the Joy Trio, etc. How I wish we could get them out there soon to you! They are such a blessing.

The last time I wrote to you was from the hospital in Ypsilanti. I stayed two nights at Westcott’s home and then Maurice came after me. The one full day I was there was Doctor’s day off from the hospital and they decided to take me to Detroit and buy me enough clothes to last 6 months. I’m sure I don’t know how much it cost them, but there were five maternity dresses, each about $8, three beautiful $3.95 slips, and underwear. Then Doctor picked out a gorgeous rosy-grey winter coat ($60) with a zipper removable leather lining. They gave me everything I wanted to eat, strawberries, peaches, steak, melon, etc. I am sending a couple of clippings about Anne to the Kinsos. You must ask to see them.

The animal in this letter is the “germs” that made me sick, so the Dr. said! It’s supposed to look real vicious, and has a stinger in its hand. Give it to Kenny for a toy.

Since I have been here I have been just resting, tho’ I went to hear Maurice preach last night. We had visitors from Pontiac Saturday. Jimmie and Jerry Lonie bro’t a group from Sunnyvale Chapel and they bro’t a big box of new and used clothing. Jerry is the daughter of Mrs Smith and the sister of Layton Smith who supports John. They bro’t a Mrs Remley and her daughter, Mrs. Phillipe, she is the one who sent all the native baby bonnets and 2 packages for us.

I am wondering what I can do about helping you get the many things together for the journey home. I think I have a few ideas! Marcellyn, don’t feel you must do a lot of sewing for now. I can see a way to get clothes for the children to you in a hurry. I already have nearly enough new things for their journey and will get Kenny’s packet off first Airmail if it doesn’t break me. Just a coat & hat (from Jimmie – nephew) 2 pairs trousers, shirts, under wear & pajamas. Maybe a little toy to be saved for the journey, a balloon to blow now and a sucker to suck now! I will try to find a light-weight suitcase to send it in, and the same will follow for Paul, David and John. Steven has quite a few clothes, so I’ll just send a duffle bag full of disposable diapers! Stephen has a pink girl’s coat that should fit him & there is a grey coat & hat for John, a tan one for David. I’ll have to buy only one, for Paul, and flannel pajamas for K.P.& D. Anything else you must let me know quickly.

Now, boys, Mommie is real lonesome for you and grandma, too. We are praying you can come soon. Love, Mommie   X X X X

PS: I am sending balloons & toy for Joseph, too.

For Ione’s birthday, Hector writes on 11th August 1953:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Mummie

Dear Ione:   X

I’ll take a few minutes now to write while David & John are having a sleep before dinner & Marcellyn is teaching the other two. It is just starting to rain a little, having been cloudy all morning. I spent an hour or two in the office but can’t find that form letter you mentioned. I did find 25 francs in an envelope for Marcellyn’s 6 books she sent you before she went on furlough. (Letter writing for natives.) You sold 3 & I found the other 3, so that’s fixed up.

We’ve finished the book of Acts in family worship & we all enjoyed it. Paul keeps praying for you that the airplane won’t fall down. He can’t understand that you arrived Kalakala (a long time ago). Stephen has 6 teeth & 2 more just about thru! He’s sleeping much better now. Everybody loves him to pieces. I try to tell him how tight mummy is going to squeeze him when she sees him again. I guess by his chuckle, he understands!!

Last night I dreamed that someone said they would like to have a permanent. I answered, “You have to have heart trouble to get that.” I know you have enjoyed your hair-do & you will keep looking nice for all your friends to visit you. You will probably be able to get around soon but be sure to rest all you can while you have a chance.

Marcellyn’s boy is doing well in the kitchen. We have an extra wash jack but the shelves are always full of clean clothes so it is worth it.

Bill & Coral want to go in to Stanleyville to meet Margaret Ogilvie so we may be able to get the yellow fever shots for John & Stephen then, but will let you know later as the trip Is not yet fully decided.

Maybe that $112 could be put toward the Montgomery Ward order. Marion will know what to do with it unless you feel you need it.

We are getting along as well as could be expected from an amputated family. Love,   Hector

Ione updates her ‘surrogate’ parents the Kinso’s, on 18th August:

Dear Kinso, and Ma Kinso, and All,

This is Sunday afternoon, and rainy, but the big maple trees here are fresh and green with only a touch of yellow. It is a nice time of the year. “Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.” I am feeling steadily better, and gaining weight rapidly. Since leaving the Westcott’s in Ypsilanti, I have seen another doctor here who will continue to give me injections for nausea and frequent check-ups. Then I will go back to Dr. Westcott’s hospital where another doctor will take our baby case after which Dr. W. will do a minor operation. That will be in the spring.

The clippings I enclose were given me to “show to the Kinsos.” You keep them, as Ellen requested. She may be writing some of these days to you! She has had 20 or 21 operations now and this spring was in an automobile accident. When she can get thru one year without spending any time in the hospital, they plan to tour thru parts of Congo, and Bongondza is included in their itinerary. They took me to the large Montgomery Ward in Detroit, and outfitted me in clothes for the next 6 months, including a $60 winter coat! They seem to feel they still owe me something!!

Mother keeps well but is thinner than when I last saw her. My sister, too. Everyone here seems to be trying to reduce! The doctor even warned me not to gain too much! I have been enjoying the many good things to eat.

I have 3 duffle bags nearly packed with travel clothes for our little boys hoping to send them by Air Freight, if possible, so that Marcellyn will not have to sew. I am sorry she has so much to do. I know she loves the children, but I hope she will not be forced to stay at the task any longer than necessary. Thank you all for the many ways you are helping her.

Janet, could you check on John to see if he has worms? Marcellyn says he is fussy & thin.

Now this is no kind of letter, but I want you to all know I love you. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me. I hope this week to hear from Pudneys.

Lovingly,   Ione

Almost telepathically, Hector writes to Ione on 18th August:

Beloved Ione:

Were we ever glad to get those two letters last Friday. I think I have read them so often I could repeat all you said. You have had good attention. Those blood transfusions must have been a big help to you. We will be looking forward to your letter telling about your birthday.

We got the package from Mrs. Smith, Imlay City. She had gotten together four little outfits all the same and right to size. They will be nice for arriving in. She also put in 5 T shirts. Three nice books have kept the children amused; a wooden train for John and a racer car for David. She had made a beautiful quilt of colored corduroy patches. I used in on David yesterday when he had fever. I’ve written to thank her. The other package was from United Press Church of Drayton Plains. Ever so many little shorts and shirts, a dress for you, some slips; a few diapers, a nice little coat and cap for John. So don’t spend too much money sending things out airmail.

I figure it will cost $2170 for our trip to N.Y. It seems a terrible amount of money and we can only trust the Lord to send it in when He knows we should go.

I hope you can make out the children’s letters. We had a few hours extra for the courier as little Edibe is not going until after his class in ecole de soir (evening class).

Maula has been put out of school (expelled). He wrote at least two letters to two of Mary Rutt’s girls, the ones from Banjwadi. All credit to them, they immediately gave the letters to M.R. and she passed them on to Mary and Bill. We finally had to get Saga in last evening to finish off the case, as Maula said he didn’t quite understand what he was being dismissed for. In fact, he has been quite nasty to both Bill and Machini. By the time Saga got finished with him he had no excuse left. In fact, Saga made him open his suitcase and here were three pairs of nice long trousers of his own and one pair for Balemba. Talk about a fellow being stuck on himself. Once again it’s the smart one of the class. (Coral stayed with our family while Bill and I were at Machini’s.

Kinsos are out on the Buta road this week with all the eleves (students) scattered along among the other teachers. They are getting things spruced up for the two visitors next month.

Well, the time has slipped away. Joe is just about finished getting the children dressed after their bath. He’s a good little soldier.

Sometimes I don’t know what’s wrong with me; but there is a sweetheart far away who could supply the answers. Kenny has put in a good quota of kisses, so I’ll have mine before and after his.

So long for now and write us often.   All our love all the time.    Hector   X

The boys all add their greetings and news:

This is David:

Dear Mommie: X

I’m sitting here on Daddy’s lap and want to tell you how much I love you.

I was sick with a little bit of fever yesterday but am alright today. I pray for my Mommie every day and hope the Lord will take care of her. I like to sing, “His Yoke is Easy…” I’m waiting to give you a big hug when we get to where you are. Bye Bye for now,   David Lynn

This is John:

Dear darling Mommy: X

I’m getting bigger every day. Yesterday I prayed for the first time, remembering especially my mommie. All my love,   John

This is Paul:

Dear Mommie:   X

First I want to tell you that I love you with all my heart. We received some nice things in two packages this week.

I’m so shy that when Daddy asks me what I want to say next, I just lick my lower lip.

David is sharing with John.

Auntie Marcellyn taught us a song in school the other day.

That first letter you sent from Leo I put it under my pillow the first night. Love, Paul

This is Kenneth:

Dearest Mommie:   X

Thank you for the nice letters. We are glad you are feeling better.

About those donkeys running away and then the other part about Saul and about the heart. Samuel told Saul about his heart after the servant went on ahead. Did you have a good time in the airplane? What did you have for your birthday? I love you very much. When I come where you are I’m going to give you 12 kisses. (after Daddy gets finished!!!)

Auntie Marcellyn is teaching us nice French school. And feeding us French fried potatoes & French toast, etc. Much Love, Kenneth

Despite convalescing from her ordeal, Ione cannot really relax until she has her family with her. On 20th August she writes:

Dearest Daddy, Auntie Marcellyn and Boys,

Now I can write more as I am using Auntie Marcellyn’s typewriter. You must take my big typewriter down to your house to use. I do hope you are not getting too tired, Marcellyn. I hope it will be very soon when the family can come home and you will be relieved of your big job.

Hector, I think unless you hear from Pudneys by the time you get this letter, it is for you to write to them and tell them when you want to leave. A letter written August 15 from Ma Pudu says, “We shall be awaiting news from Hector concerning the coming of the rest of the family.” If you have not written to High Park and others, perhaps they will, in order to gather in as much as possible for the journey. I should think you will need about $2400. Has there been anything said about Marcellyn’s helping you to get them home or is there a furlough of somebody else near? From all I can tell there is no one here who expects anything else but that you come home immediately (be sure you have someone all the way.). So if that is the plan I will send these three small duffle bags of air clothes (they can wear everyday clothes to Stan & leave them to be taken back to Bong.) by Airmail so that you will get them. I will try to find a pair of brown trousers for Daddy, in case the waistband of his good suit is too tight. No doubt it is by now, with all of the good cooking Auntie Marcellyn is doing!

And now for the plan: the Lord has shown me that I must not try to pry too far into His future plans for us. But what seems best for the immediate future is that you go straight to Montreal, put yourself in the hands of your capable sisters for a few days to get adjusted, then with one or two accompanying you, proceed to Dunnville, it would be best by car if possible. Stay there long enough to get the children rested up and checked for colds, etc., then try to drive them all here. The apartment is big enough for us all to be here if Kenny and Paul sleep next door at Auntie Lucille’s, eat breakfast there and come here for the other meals. This arrangement will be all right for a few weeks; then if no better arrangement can be found, Daddy would take the three smallest back to Alice’s at Dunnville (Dunnville, Marcellyn, is not the farm, it is a city house between Toronto and Hamilton) for a few more weeks. Neither Mother nor Lucille can physically cope with the task of all the children for any long period of time. Let us not talk of future plans beyond that. I am thinking much and praying much, but a lot can be decided when we have a few weeks together. Just remember, Hector, in your many thoughts about it, that I love the States very much and I do want Mother to be near us.

No doubt you know by my last letter that I will go to Ypsilanti for the hospital care needed for our last baby. This will have to come into our immediate plans for the future. As yet I have gone nowhere, nor have I seen Dr. Savage even, but there have been many lady visitors here, and showers of letters, cards, gifts, mostly from Pontiac. Lucille had a birthday celebration for me, initiating a new outside stove Maurice has just made. We fried hamburgers. Then we went inside and I heard the records of Marcellyn’s reception, greetings from Doris, etc. It was such a nice evening.

Jimmie has a small two-wheeled bike that he is anxious to show Kenny. He has other toys, too. And this week another little boy brought a big red tractor about 8 or 9 inches long for me to save for our boys. I’m going to send the cars in the duffle bags, a green voiture for Paul, red voiture for Kenny, a yellow dump truck for John, and a red dump truck for David. A tiny blue car for Stephen, and an extra red plastic racer for the boy who is the nicest until they come. The package of grey voiture, etc. is for Joseph.

Now, do get John into bed by 7 o’clock, and watch for worms.   Lovingly, Mommie

PS: The Welcome buttons were given to me in S.S. here. Give them to K.P.D.. The picture for J., the poem for Daddy.

She also chases up Doctor Westcott:

Dear Doctor:

A letter this week from Headquarters tells me they must have a doctor’s report to submit to the Mission Doctor as soon as I have had an examination. So will I kindly ask my doctor to forward this together with any recommendations concerning treatment.

I am wondering if you would be able to do this from where you are. In case you have forgotten I am enclosing the letterhead. Sorry to bother you with it now. I tho’t your word might help them to decide whether we shall be ‘on furlough’ or ‘on our own’! !

The doctor here has given me two shots of Vitamin B6, and it’s his plan now to start tapering them off. Everything seem to be all right and I have reached the 130 mark in weight.

Give my greetings to Anne (Dr Westcott’s eldest daughter who was one of Ione’s first charges). Be seeing you all sometime in September.   Lovingly,   Ione

Hector writes to Ione from the Baptist Mission Society’s guest house in Stanleyville on the 26th August:

My own Beloved Ione:

Surely you have some letters by now. We received your letter Aug. 9. Doc Westcott surely did you up properly.

I’m down here to meet Margaret Ogilvie but she didn’t come today, so I’m uncertain just what to do. Bill & Coral (Snyder) were going to come but the baby isn’t too well so they decided to send me. Kinsos would have come but he is just in from a week of trek on the Buta road & will have to come to Stan for John Stevenson & Len Harris on September 10. Anyway he doesn’t appreciate travelling. Marcellyn said she could manage with the children. I didn’t take any along & it’s just as well. I was delayed about 2 hours at Kilometer 72 with a damaged front wheel bearing. The Lord gave wisdom etc. necessary for a temporary job & I came in to Stan – a further delay at Tshopo bac (ferry) while they worked on some of their difficulties. Got into BMS about 3:30 & found Mr Nordby here waiting for their General Secretary by plane (he’s been delayed I week).

Tomorrow I hope to send a telegram to the Post Office at Banalia asking them to relay any telegrams from Margaret Ogilvie back to me at Stan so I’ll know whether to wait until Sunday train or not. In the meantime everybody’s shopping lists keep me busy. I’m eating most of my meals over at the Protestant Armourie (chaplain).

The Salvation Army won’t be here until September 30; so Margaret O. could stay here for her “stage”.

Now for some information but first let me say how much I’d love you to creep into my arms & let me give you a real warm hug and realize once more something of your selfless love which endures all things. Only the Lord knows how much I miss you. (I know this isn’t news to you).

Now let us continue.

I visited A.M.I. & Sabena today; we can leave here on a Tuesday at 1 p.m. & be in Montreal Thursday at 1:15 p.m. for the sum of 82,620 francs or $1650. This is much cheaper than I figured since it’s possible to take John as well as Stephen on the 1/10 fares. Normally they only allow one if there are two under 2 yrs of age. But with another adult along, they (the adult) merely have to sign a paper saying they will care for the second child. Kinso is writing to ask about Mable Wenger. She could take a train from Montreal to Lancaster, Pa.

After a day or two on the farm or in Montreal we could take a bedroom suite for the overnight trip to Toronto (6 hours) & Alice could meet us there.

The only catch now is that we will have to go before John’s birthday. Am enclosing some negatives & snaps. Aren’t our boys cute ! ! !

The doctor here says we should be able to get vaccination & yellow fever at Banalia. That saves a long trip here to Stan.

At the Banalia Bac (ferry), Nasser’s chauffer said his white man had had an accident. I asked him to show me where they were staying in Banalia. What a story! !

Nasser from Kole was on his way to Panga with the Dodge truck. His brother-in-law & wife & their sick little girl were on their way to Banalia to see the doctor. Four Kms from Banalia on the narrow Panga Road they met on a corner. The Panga man had a ’52 Ford voiture (car). It was completely demolished (insured). The man had a rib or two broken, some cuts on leg & arm; the Madame a bruised forehead & the child also slightly bumped. The truck was hardly hurt at all, nor Mr Nasser. The bro-in-law has to rest 3 months.

If I were easily moved to tears, I surely would have used ½ dozen hankies on Tuesday when I got here to Stanleyville. I went to the Post Office in great anticipation & found a letter from you to the Kinsos (sent Aug 19) but nothing for Ione’s husband. Maybe tomorrow. If not, I’ll just wait here in Stan until I do get one ! ! !

Got a lovely photo of Aunt Mable sitting in her big living room chair. Almost as good as having a visit with her.

Carters probably returning this week to Bongondza & Ekoko.

Now is there anything else to tell you?

Our boys still love that Mechano set. Family worship in I Samuel has been good. Continue to spend much time in prayer. It helps so much at this end. Your lover     Hector     X

PS: The twins (Bo & Asani) are building a huge church at their village (Bopepe). They were asking about you.

PPS: The chaplain’s wife says she knows a man who bought land here in Stanleyville back in the 20’s for 1.50 francs a metre frontage & sold it recently for 1998.50 francs profit per metre.

Despite Hector reassuring Ione that the children have enough to wear home, Ione persists with sending out duffle bags, and writes presumably to her sister:

The three duffle bags are brown and just alike. I hope to get them in the mail tomorrow. You will notice the one that has a slight defect in the zipper. That is #1, and contains a sweater and slippers for Hector. For David you will find flannel pajamas, a sun suit and shirt, overalls and shirt, shorts and shirt, and underpants. The car he should save for the journey, but he can take out the candy and balloons. One package of disposable diapers is in this bag, and both panties, which are for the journey. You can decide whether the little suit should be used for the journey, or he may have something else on the station. He should have four nighties and about four suits, and the pink coat from the attic with some hats from the sweater bag. Two or three pretty blankets. But all you’ll find for him for the journey in the duffle bags will be the disposable diapers. Save his little car, and any rattles you find on the station for his travel toys. You might chose several nice books, too. Duffle bag #2 has Paul’s things, a new coat and hat, suspenders, pajamas, shirts and shorts, etc. And John’s things, the same except you must provide the pajamas from some there. Duffle #3 has the rest of the disposable diaper linings, a new shirt and trousers for Hector, and anything else I think of between today and tomorrow.

An important item in luggage will be a basket, Ma Kinso may have one, like she let me carry, for a 5 lb tin of Klim, baby bottles, and drinking water. Before they leave Stan, a couple bottles can be made up and some extra milk made up for the others, for there is no water on that plane. From Leo on water can be obtained for the Klim. But it is very important that the children be not urged to drink any other milk but the Klim until they are here for a while. And in the basket there must be room for fruit and cookies from Stan on, as well as to Stan. I used my oranges all the way to N.Y., and was very thankful for something to nibble on. But apples may be easier for little hands to manage, and less messy.

Now I must stop if this is to get in today’s mail. Thanks so much for all you are doing and will be doing. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

I want to send you a list of household things that can be packed to send home by freight, but I’m afraid there isn’t time now. Let’s see, I am thinking especially of my recipe books, silverware, the aluminium double boiler, any other halfway decent pots or pans, dishes or linens.

Lovingly,   Ione

The request to freight some of the household things would suggest that there has been some discussion that the Macmillan’s may have to retire from the mission field because of Ione’s health. This would echo what happened to the Pudneys and the Westcott’s before her. This becomes more apparent in the next letter to Hector and the boys written 0n the 28th August:

Dear Kenny,

Your letter came today. When you send letters on Thursday night, they arrive here Friday the following week – just ten days. I am beginning to watch for letters on Fridays. One came last week, too. Yes, I had a good time on the plane, and I think you will, too. But you must help Daddy take care of John. There is a little plastic harness in the duffle bag for when he gets in and out of the plane. For my birthday we had hamburgers, fried over a fire outside and ice cream and a cherry cake. I received a nice bed jacket, some underwear. Also money from several ladies in Pontiac. I’m glad you remembered the story about Saul and the donkeys. You must remember as many as you can and tell me more in your next letter. I shall look forward to the kisses. Lovingly, Mommie

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your nice letter. I’m glad you kept my first one under your pillow. I would like to see the clothes you received in the packages. You must save them to wear when you come to Mommie. I want to hear your French song, too. Tell Auntie Marcellyn to keep teaching you lots of things in French. Mommie is going to collect lots of kisses when she sees her little boys again. I am getting so fat that you may not know me! I don’t think it will be very many more weeks before we are together. Lovingly, Mommie

Dear David,

I got your letter and your kiss. I’m sorry you were sick, but glad you soon were all right. You must remember the nice new songs you are learning. But don’t forget “His yoke is Easy,” and “Hark Tis the Shepherd’s Voice I Hear.” Keep sharing with John, and be a good boy. Lovingly, Mommie

Dear John,

I’m glad to know you prayed in family worship. Please don’t forget about Mommie. I wonder if you will remember her when you see her again. I am wondering if you will be sick after your yellow fever injection. Mommie is praying much for you, and I have a lovely soft little bed for you to sleep in when you come here, right beside Mommie. I don’t believe I’ll ever let you go again. Be a good boy like David is. Lovingly, Mommie

Dear Stephen,

I am wondering if your six teeth are all the way thru now. I know all of your brothers love you a lot and try to help Auntie Marcellyn take care of you. You are a precious little fellow. Mommie has lots of kisses saved up for all of her boys.   Lovingly, Mommie

Dear Hector,

I’m not sure I acknowledged your birthday letter, for I think I wrote you a few days before your letter came. I was glad to know that you were planning to take John & Stephen to Stan for yellow fever shots. Your Aug. 18 letter didn’t mention that you had gone so I guess Miss Ogilvie hadn’t arrived yet by then. I know you will remember to watch them carefully after the shots for signs of convulsions. Remember both other times?

I’m sorry I didn’t know about the clothes in the packages you received before I sent the 3 duffle bags airmail. I could have sent less and cut down that cost. But I think you’ll find the disposable diapers and big boys’ coats something you would have missed when the time came & you needed them. The harness for John is pretty important, too. I do hope you can come soon.

I received a letter from Mrs. Pudney today. She spoke about the advisability of our having no more children after this one and then said,

“Mr P. asked me to write to you in his absence but definite decisions have not yet been made. We feel however that Hector should come home with the children and that you should be established by yourselves as a family unit. Just what provision you have in mind, we do not know. It would be too much to expect to live with relatives, but of course that decision must be your own and no doubt will depend upon your circumstances.”

More was said about money lacking for Marcellyn’s trip and for bringing the family home.

“We must have some indication of funds and you will be praying with us I know. You have not been out long enough to accumulate furlough funds sufficient for these expenses but we are looking for special gifts for you and we know that the Lord is able.”

I am thinking that if I continue feeling as good as I do now, we can plan to get located somewhere, even before the baby comes. And as Mrs. P. said, we must have a house for ourselves. We cannot live with relatives. This apartment is nice for now and would do until you come or for a week or so. But I believe Mother feels that it might not be wise for her to stay here if we go, for it is a little larger than she needs. I don’t know just what is wisest to do, but if we find a place large enough to give her the privacy she needs, she might like to make her headquarters with us, and do her travelling from there.

But we could not expect her to help with the work of family, except perhaps while I am in the hospital, and then she could not do it alone.

The Lord has wonderfully supplied every need thus far, and I have not taken even my salary from Philadelphia, as I want it to go to you. I believe the Lord will give us a home where children can play; with a garden; some livestock and pets; shade trees & fruit trees; airy, cheerful rooms; warm in winter; modern conveniences; near stores, church, school; ample bedroom space, rooms for Mother, etc. And someone to come in & help with the work. I believe He will do it, Hector.

And another thing, unless I have any more trouble with my heart, I don’t see why we cannot go on planning to return to the field, and then it will be up to the Lord to close the door if He desires. We must come to some decision in our own hearts even before the mission tell us. I have recently renewed my covenant with Him, and believe in my own heart that the only safe and contented life we can live in these uncertain days is to stay very close to what we know now is His will.

If we can be counted as missionaries on furlough, I will be content to stay with the children and let you do all the deputizing that you can. If I have someone to help me, and Mother in and out, I’m sure I can manage. You must be free to go as much as you wish.

I heard Mr Maxwell last Tuesday & talked to him (Flint). He was surprised to know about us. It was his message on “Ye did run well, what did hinder you?” that spoke to me, and made me sure that if I had a proper home I could give you up for meetings! All for now.

Lovingly, Ione X

PS: I helped Grandma can 1 bushel of peaches today! We’re going to do pears and pickles, too! Hector, don’t be “incommunicable” with Marcellyn!

31st August still sees Hector in Congo – he has a short note for Ione:

My own Beloved,   X

Just a note before I leave Stanleyville. Jim Carter was returning from their holiday & part of the front wheel hub kept getting worse until they had to stop about where the Bagara Rd branches off. They finally got Bill to come out with Viola’s car & take the family in to Bongondza. Then Saturday Jim came to Stanleyville with young Nortier (his brother arrived by plane – a doctor to look after the health of their 1000 workmen). We’ve spent the day ordering the part etc. & a few other items so can leave early in the morning.

Margaret Ogilvie still hasn’t arrived & no letter from her either. The one section of the Lualaba is low & no boats are travelling so she’s probably stranded. She’s 2 weeks late now.

Your letter to me arrived on Thursday’s plane & got stuck in the UFM mail sack so awaits me at home. I hope there are a dozen nice warm kisses for me! ! ! You’re sure going to get a bunch of them when I get hold of you, you old darling lover. But I’ll wait for that precious hour – it will be worth while waiting for. So long for now. Pray much for Chester & Dolena! They need divine wisdom to separate the chaff from the wheat.in their revival (revival meetings can stir up emotions and some can be carried away, making promises they cannot commit to).   Hector   X

Finally Margaret arrives on the 1St September:

Dearest Ione:

Just a note to say Marg. Ogilvie has arrived. She came in on the train last evening. We had inquired about 4 p.m. & they said there were no Europeans on the train. She arrived; saw not even the Station agent, got some porter & came across – a taxi to BMS. No one here (Jim & I were out for supper but left a light on). She thought she might be at the wrong place as she didn’t see the BMS sign in the dark. So finally went to tell Sabena. She came along this morning again & when we got back from breakfast she was awaiting us. We’ve gone across to get the rest of her baggage which won’t arrive until tomorrow; so we’ve arranged with a transport co. to bring it to BMS. Just now she & Jim are in at the prov. medical arranging for the Stage.

I sent a letter to Dad last evening along with my love letter to you. (I don’t mean I sent him a copy of your love letter!! two separate letters to two important people: you and my Dad.) I enclosed 5 pictures so you needn’t send him one.

Margaret Ogilvie starts her stage tomorrow 6 p.m.

We are just crossing the Banalia ferry so will close this for now & leave it for them to post here.

Much love to you. I’ll be reading your letter in about 2-1/2 hrs. Hoping for another this week.

Your own, Hector   X

Ione’s next letter to Hector on September 3rd, illustrates the turmoil that is Ione’s life – she thinks she has a problem resolved only to find it isn’t, yet she tries to remain upbeat:

Dearest Hector and Children,

Your August 26 letter just arrived and I was waiting for it to come before I wrote again. Yours are coming regularly every Thurs or Fri (unlike the days of their courtship when letters took much longer) so I am trying to write between them and Mon or Tues, for you to get in your Friday mail. I hope you got my 17th or 18 August letter before you left Stanleyville. I am glad you went there and could get information about coming home.

I believe the Lord will make it possible for you to come before John’s birthday and thus pay the smaller fare. We may be paying back the General Fund for a while, but that is all right. You should come as soon as possible.

This week’s mail bro’t the letter from Alice I had been waiting for and altho’ it hurt me a little, I could see the Lord’s hand in it all. I wanted to give your sisters opportunity to help if they felt they could, and that we have done. But Alice had just come from visiting the others, and they came to the conclusion that we should choose one of two things: either separating the younger children in various directions, or you staying on the field until after our next baby comes. (This must have been a very hard pill for Ione to swallow).Alice says it is absolutely out of the question for her to help you with the children except as you pass thru! She wrote in love but was very definite, which makes me to know that the Lord has a better way.

Having much time to spend with Him, things are coming to me more clearly now. “And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.” Num. 22:26. The Lord led Israel out of the usual way till He got them to the Red Sea. Then there was room for His power to be manifested.

“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way

By converse sweet. I mounted on the thought

That so it might be till the height was reached;

But suddenly a narrow winding path

Appeared, and then the Master said, “My child,

Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone!”

“So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.” Deut.32:12

The fellowship with Him has been priceless. I will give you my “impressions” after seeking Him about returning to Africa:

  1. I cannot go far in my reasoning without being convinced that the Lord will give me health to go back.
  2. The children are safer in Africa in the will of God, than at home and outside of His will.
  3. For Hector, the “best” he can do is all out there.
  4. Therefore, why not proceed with the plan of returning unless He leads definitely otherwise?
  5. The only safe and contented life we can live in these uncertain days is to stay very close to what we know now is His will.

 

I felt I could make no plans for us until Mother was settled. Then the need became apparent in my mind for a place for us during what seemed to be evident – a furlough of about two years. Mrs. Pudney’s August 26 letter said, “We feel that Hector should come home…and that you should be established by yourselves as a family unit.”

Well, I wrote about this in my last letter to you, but since Alice’s letter it is quite evident to me that He would have us go to our own place immediately when you come. And I will be strong enough I know. You will see, Hector. The Lord has already done wonderful things for me physically. I only feel that in order to free you for meetings right away. I should be as near as possible to Mother and Lucille. They are whole-heartedly in agreement with me, and will help even more than I tho’t they could. If you think it’s all right, I can start accepting engagements for you around here. I will not take any meetings for me, tho’. I must be present at a welcome service at 1st Baptist Church on September 23. I will be able to take care of the children if I have a convenient house. The thing I am asking Him about right now is whether to rent or to buy. I asked Him for a token of a gift of money the day we looked at a house near here, and that evening $10 was handed me from an unexpected source and we had a visit from the pastor of Lake Orion Baptist Church and they have already started sending $25 per month instead of the $10. This is not much but a definite “token” that He will supply our many needs. Do not be alarmed at the prospects of a big debt, for I will not take a step without your consent, and I do not feel we should borrow. But I will find a place where we can live, so that you’ll come here as directly as possible.   All for now.   Love, Ione

Two days later, and Ione is again writing to Hector:

Dearest Hector,

It’s hardly light yet, but I wanted to write a note. I wakened suddenly hearing John crying and found it was only a rooster crowing! I tho’t I would remind you of a few things. Marcellyn says the children have colds, and I’m afraid they’re not getting the proper care. They didn’t have colds when I became sick and I think it was because I was careful to see that they never had baths after 5 o’clock. And they should have sweaters on these cold rainy days the first thing in the morning and in the early evening. But be sure to remember to take them off at breakfast time or as soon as it starts to get hot. Another thing, were those thin pajamas all put away? I think I asked Marcellyn to do that. There should be no pajamas on their shelves except flannel ones, and even they are not enough. The children must be kept covered at night. Oh, please, Hector, if I could be sure you were doing this. Penicillin doesn’t do much good if they aren’t cared for enough at night. I trust you to check all you are doing and see where you can improve your routine. And don’t let their little bare feet go trolling around early in the morning on the cold cement. Please, please, Hector, give me some small assurance about this! I find it increasingly hard to keep on in this separated way. Do try to get them over their colds before they start on that long journey.

Don’t be surprised, if you find me at the coast when you arrive! Much, Much love,   Ione   X

Fortunately, Hector understands Ione well enough and loves her well enough to know the criticism is out of frustration, he responds on the 6th September 1953

Dearest Mommie:

I feel just like writing three sentences.

How about a love letter.

To me.

Every week.

There surely was an awful hole in my heart when I opened the mail sack last Friday and found no letter from you. And the one to me last week didn’t even have a kiss!!! Don’t I feel sorry for myself ??? But I hope it will help you to know that I love you with all of my heart. I know you are concerned about the family and find the time long without them. But it shouldn’t be for long now. You just keep on having a good rest and getting closer to the Lord so that I will know the same sweet Ione that left us five weeks ago. There is no one else like you in all the world, so please don’t change except for the better, if that’s possible. I may be a bit different but it will mainly be a deeper appreciation for you.

The main news is that the Montgomery Ward order arrived while I was in Stanleyville. So we had lots of fun opening the three packages. Everything arrived but 1 pair of Machini’s shoes. I sold Kinso one of my pair so he gave one of his pair for Machini. Ma Kinso replaced one of her pair (to be sold to natives) for one pair of yours. They fit her better. The Khaki outfits are real nice. What shall I do with the material? Ma Kinso said she would be willing for any you didn’t want. There were more parcels this week but the truck took them thru to Buta, so we will have them on Tuesday. Kinso and Bill Snyder are taking Viola’s car to Stanleyville on Tuesday for Bill to receive dental attention; Kinso to meet Stevenson-Harris party arriving Thursday 10th Monday night Kinso is going on to Maganga to see Mabel Wenger. She’s coming with us.

The Carters are still here. The car part arrived on Friday but Kinso wanted them to wait over. There is a birthday party for Mike (Carter) at 5 p.m. today over at Kinso’s.

Kinsos and Carters discussed our going home and suggested Marcellyn stop off in Belgium (in case Mabel Wenger can’t go). We could book thru to London by Sabena and then Marcellyn could see us off for Montreal by Trans Canada Airline. However I’m still hoping that Mabel can come. We will have up until Oct 13th. I have half a mind to ask Kinso to book us for that date. We have to have our injections and yellow fever yet and we wouldn’t want to travel until we were sure the children wouldn’t be sick from the shots. It would give us more time to get the money together as well.

I’ll enclose a letter from the Cousars. It was a shock to know Mrs Carper and the little girl had died.

Well Mommie dear I’ll close for now. Keep praying and writing and loving and waiting……….your OWN     Hector

PS: Thanks for the rooster poem.   XXXXXXX One for every day until next letter.

Ione spirits soon revive, once again, the Lord meets her needs. On the 9th September, she accompanies her mother to the First Baptist Church in Pontiac, home of the Loyal’s, her wonderful supporters. Ione is given the opportunity to speak to the Sunday school and she shares her need for a home. That Sunday, the preacher is George Blomgren Dewey who works for the London Secret Service Department, his first message is ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the King’. At the evening service, his message is ‘What makes Russia behave like she does’.

The Westcott’s are present and take her back to their home for dinner and Ione gets to meet Anne again who is studying music.

Ione writes on the 10th September to Hector with some good news:

I just received your two Stan. Letters August 31 & September 1, and in the same mail as Jean’s letter telling about your inheritance from Uncle Alex. I have written to Jean, and told her you may need to use it to come home. I also informed Mr Pudney.

Then last evening the pastor and deacon of Lake Orion 1st Baptist called and presented me with a check for $1,000!! To be used for a house for us, or for anything else we wish. I expect to deposit it in the bank here, unless you will need it to come home.

Knowing that it is here, you will not need to delay your coming because of money. However, don’t attempt to do any of the journey without help, not even the few hours from Montreal to Toronto. And don’t leave until you let me know, for I will do everything in my power to meet you in Montreal. Much, much love,     Ione

Hector is heartened by Ione’s letter; he writes on 13th September:

My dear DARLING IONE. xXxXxXxXxXxXxX etc.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” xxx

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.” XXXX.

Now does that make you happy you old sweetheart ! ! ! ! I could hug and kiss you for an hour.

Your letter of August 28 arrived September 11th here but Kinso had picked it up in Stanleyville. You could write a few days later than Friday and then it would come in to Stan on the Thursday plane; but in any case keep writing. (Sorry Kenneth bumped the left side of the typewriter as he was reaching for something – he sends his love.) As I was going to say, it’s a wonderful help to me, to hear from you.

Some news: Mabel Wenger has gladly agreed to accompany us home. Kinso went out there last week when he went to Stanleyville. The two girls will be going up to Katwa and Joe will be staying here. I imagine the Snyder’s will come over here so Joe could stay with them.

Jean wrote on August 30th telling about Uncle Alex’s death. I suppose she wrote to you too. It was quite sudden but he wanted to go quickly. As I have been thinking things over, I wonder if we could arrange to live there if the house hasn’t been sold already. It is off the main street, has a garden (some livestock if you like, maybe a pony in the little barn), shade trees and fruit trees, three bedrooms upstairs, and the living room could be made into one for you and the baby, indoor bath room and water pressure, electricity, Bruce Wert’s store the Presbyterian Church and the school quite near (+ being rent-free). Think it over and pray about it, beloved. I told Jean I was writing you about it.

John Stevenson and Mr Len Harris have arrived (from the UK) and are more than pleased with the work. Mr Harris is especially burdened about Stanleyville and Km 75. He says why isn’t something being done for these people. Maybe the Lord would have us deputize for the Stanleyville home for children. There are over 50 Protestant White people in Stanleyville. John has over 1000 feet of coloured film to make a movie of the work. They are going to have sound put on it later, so we will be taking some tape recordings as well. We all plan to go down to Baboro next Sunday for their Matondo, using both cars. They have built a huge big church across the road, this way from Asani’s house (he is one of the twins). I think it is larger than Bongondza.

It is about 11 a.m. now. The rain has stopped but they have announced the Matondo for 2 p.m. The children each have a little ‘zunu’ to give, real cute and I made a whatnot shelf for Marcellyn to give. I may tell you more about it after the service.

Well, my lover bye-bye for now.   All my love, Hector   X

PS: 9:00 p.m. The service was very good and we had communion this evening. While talking to Mr Harris afterwards I mentioned what a privilege it was to work with the Kinsos. He said, “That’s allright brother, they think quite a lot of you too, so it’s mutual.” It’s nice to be appreciated isn’t it?   More love,   XXX   Hector

Now Hector has the money and travelling companion to help with the children, he wastes no time in organising his trip. On the 14th September he writes:

Dear Sirs:

Several weeks ago I visited your office enquiring about passage for my family and another lady missionary, from Stanleyville – Montreal.

I would now like to make tentative bookings for the SABENA plane Stanleyville -London leaving Oct 13th. Then the best connections TCA, London – Montreal.

The following is the list of passengers:

Miss Mabel Wenger

Mr Hector McMillan

Kenneth (6)

Paul (5)

David (3)

John (1)

Stephen (9 mons)

 

I believe you suggested that the second youngest could also go for 1/10th fare. We would very much appreciate this if it could be arranged.

Yours very truly,   Hector McMillan

Ione is very thankful that the Lord has guided her and supplied her needs, she explains all that has happened in her thank you letter to Lake Orion First Baptist Church on 15th September 1953:

Dear Friends in Christ,

It has been a pleasure for many years to know your church was interested in us. But from the time I arrived in this country on August 1st, it seemed the Lord had given you a special burden for our needs for there, waiting in Philadelphia, was a large check to meet my immediate expenses. Then, after resting several weeks, I began to feel that I would be well enough to take care of my children again, if I only had a place to go with them. It was then that I was led to read this verse:

Psalm 84:3 – “Yea the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young….” Also Psalm 84:11 – “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

So Mother and I began to pray for a house, and being assured also by Psalm 81:16 – “He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat,” we were led to pray for a good house and one large enough for five little boys. I even listed fifteen points that seemed to be necessary for such a house!

But we had nothing to start with, and asked him for just a little token that it was His good pleasure to provide a place by the time our little ones and their father arrived from Africa. The same day a ten-dollar bill was put into my hands very unexpectedly, and that evening your pastor and head deacon called. Of course it was fresh in our hearts and on our lips that the Lord would provide a home. And then they left, and it seemed as though we were not alone in our desires about this.

Days passed, and we had little more to assure us than Deuteronomy 28:12, “The Lord shall open unto thee His good treasure.”

When last Friday your pastor and deacon called again, it was to present the check for $1,000.00. So you see “His good treasure” has been opened, and you dear friends have been the blessed instruments of His divine provision for us. Thank you very, very much for your exceeding kindness and for your confidence to put in our stewardship such a large amount. I trust we shall not disappoint you in the way in which we shall account for it. It is safe at present in the savings bank until we shall see the house which the Lord would have us take. As yet we are waiting upon the Lord to show us whether this house will be a permanent institution, available for us always when on furlough, and for other missionaries when we are not occupying it. But at any rate we feel that our furlough will be extended longer than usual because of my illness, and two of the children will start school this year. I don’t know yet when the family will come, but I expect it will be early in October.

May the Lord bless you all is my prayer. Very Lovingly in Christ,   Ione McMillan

Ione maintains her long-distance mothering, the letter of the 23rd September is full of instructions for Hector:

My Dearest Hector,

Mother has gone to a cottage prayer meeting and I am just resting a bit. We came over yesterday noon with Lucille for a Child Evangelism Conference and have slept overnight at the home of Mrs. Knott. Tonight is the official welcome at 1st Bapt. for Pearl Hiles, Ludwig’s, and a number of others. Westcott’s will be there; also Helen Western Gould tho’ Helen will be in a wheelchair as she is crippled from a serious automobile accident. We will go back to Fenton afterwards and I am hoping Pearl will go with us, tho’ I haven’t seen her yet. She was to have been here yesterday, but hasn’t come yet.

Now, the big news came to me two days ago from Mr Pudney that he had forwarded the money for you to travel, and that Mabel Wenger could go, and the DATE would be the 13th. That’s what I was waiting for! Oh, I am so thankful! And since the Lord always does something “exceeding abundant above.” I was also informed that Herb Boyes had offered to drive me to Montreal, and drive the family back here! He is due in Milford tomorrow, and I hope to talk to him then. Mr Pudney suggested that he might be willing to take us to Avonmore to spend a couple of days. I have so much for which to praise Him! Our long separation will soon be ended.

I realize that you will receive only two more mails before you leave, so want to give some last minute instructions. Don’t forget there’s a harness for John if needed (I hope the 3 duffle bags arrived!) and it may be quite cold before the journey is finished, especially in Belgium. The children will each need a sweater as well as a coat at all times, that is, handy to put on if both are needed. I have been wearing a winter coat. There are sweaters in a laundry bag in the green cupboard in our room; also in the plastic bag in the baby’s room. The coat for Stephen is a pink little girl’s coat and I think it was either in a suitcase or a trunk. Don’t forget your black overcoat, Hector, and try to get a decent hat in Stan. But it will need to be brown if you have brown shoes and suit. You have a brown sweater that you could wear under your suit coat if you’re cold. Take as many warm things as you can with you, and any other clothes can come freight with the household things. Don’t be afraid to change the children’s clothes on the way, for I will have fresh things for them to put on when I meet you.

And don’t stint on taking things for them to eat, as you know how little there will be on the plane for children to eat. They should have on hand all the way, some fruit, sandwiches or cookies, and something to drink. There will be nothing but carbonated water all the way, so you will need boiled water. Could you fix that round metal water bottle so it doesn’t leak, and replenish it whenever you can? I don’t think you should take any smaller amount of Klim than a 5 lb. tin. The bigger boys will probably enjoy the fresh milk right away, but Stephen & John may object. How is Stephen fixed for baby bottles? I hope you’ve been able to get some, so he won’t have to use syrup bottles!! Be sure the nipple holes are O.K. and keep them clean!!

Now if the boys are well fed, and not too hot or cold, and their clothes are not too tight, they should be able to sleep in their seats. If they’re restless it’s probably because the rubber is too tight around the waists and if you are sick, Hector, be sure their seat belts are fastened before you lie down. Get some Dramamine. I found it such a help, just a half tablet at a time or else you’ll get too drowsy, about a half hour before you expect to be sick.

I believe you’ll do your best, and I have confidence in you. I love you so much and am just living for the day we’ll be together again. I want you close and don’t want to be parted from you again. One more letter to you, and then I’ll see you.

Lovingly, Ione   X

She reiterates some of her messages in her final letter to Hector before his return:

There was no drinking water on the plane except carbonated. I think they changed planes another time before Brussels, so you’ll have to find out where so that you can get the hand baggage assembled in time. If you don’t change you just get off with the children for a little while and leave the baggage on. I’d like to know ahead of time if you have the reservation for sure, as I don’t want to get Herb Boyes to drive to Montreal a week ahead of time. And I’d like a cable sent to Irene’s or Florence’s when you leave. Florence has asked me to stay there. I think we’ll stay one night at Montreal, and then a night at Avonmore. That should not hold her up too much.

Hector, I can see that Uncle Alex’s house would surely suit us, I tho’t of it even before you wrote. But it’s not just a house we need. We will need to be near the doctor and hospital at Ypsilanti, as well as Mother and Lucille, for some time yet. You see, there’s two operations after the baby comes. We will talk about it, and pray together about it when you come. I am trying to arrange with the sisters at Montreal some sleeping arrangements that first night so that we can be together with the children. Then we can talk and pray before we go on to Avonmore.

I am getting so anxious to see you. It just doesn’t seem possible that I can wait a few more weeks. It will be so nice to be a normal family again. I’m glad to have all this rest, but now I’ll be restless until you come. I know I’ll have to be careful when there will be so much to do, but maybe you will remind me about lifting heavy things, reaching too high, and staying on my feet too long, just the usual precautions before a baby comes, plus special tho’t when there’s a little pain in the heart. Dr. says I may have these pains for about a year, but they may never lead to an attack if I am careful.

This morning I visited the school where Kenny and Paul will probably go. The principal thinks Kenny will go in the first grade and Paul in Kindergarden. If you tell them this explain that they will just go for a little while each day and will eat and sleep at home. I think Kenny has a little fear he may be sent away to school like Rethy. Tell him Mommie will go with him. They are using Sally, Dick & Jane stories in the 1st grade and Kenny already knows some of these.

Pearl spoke at 1st Bapt. on Sunday & then went on to other meetings in Pa. I have heard Herb Boyes is in Milford, but he hasn’t been in touch with us yet. I left a message for him.

Pearl & I sent a Christmas box Sat. to Kinsos with things in it from the 10¢ store and Super-market. Love, to them and the Snyder’s.   Love, Ione   XXXXX

PS: Hector, can’t you try to get the packing for freight done before you leave, so that it won’t all fall on Marcellyn after you go? It is really a job for a man, with heavy things to move, etc. Let her assemble the items, but you put them in boxes or trunks and seal them and get them sent off. That will be an expense, too.

I have an Eastern Clergy Book which Mr Pudney sent for you, for your deputation meetings.

Ione writes a very poignant and perceptive letter to Aunt Mabel on 28th September:

Dear Aunt Mabel,

I have been wanting for a long time to write to you, and have gone over and over in my mind the things I want to say. It was probably about 9 A.M. your time Sunday, July 11th, when I began to go into the worst heart attack. It was 5:30 P.M. on our station. It lasted twelve hours, and when time dragged on and on and no doctor came, I was very desperate, and kept the six missionaries continually praying, reading Scriptures and singing such songs as “The Great Physician Now is Here,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Simply Trusting,” etc. I wanted folk at home to be praying, and tried to think of names of those who knew how to “pray without being told,” prayer warriors who the Lord could impress with my need. Your name came first, and I believed that your prayer in my behalf would not fail to go up.

I came to the crisis time and I expected to go to be with the Lord. My breathing was only 8 times a minute and there was no more struggle. My heart would beat, and then hesitate as tho’ to inquire, “Shall I go on?” and the Lord would say, “Go on.” I separated myself from each little child willingly and without regret, as it seemed Jesus was just beyond a tiny mist; there was a slender line between. The breathing was going to be better there, I felt. I said goodbye to Hector. But I just fell asleep and heard faintly Mr Jenkinson praying, and the little phonograph playing, “Beyond the Sunset.” Daylight came, and the birds sang, and I was glad to be alive.

But then came another heart attack, and two more after that. There seemed to be a struggle going on for my body between satanic powers and the Lord. And the elements and activities outside seemed all involved. There was thunder and lightning, which always seemed to strike my heart, a gun which was fired three times in the forest, and in my unbalanced mental state, it was a demonic face at the foot of my bed, holding the gun, and each shot was aimed at my heart. There were dogs howling. Being ill in a land which has been so long a strong-hold of Satan, is not very pleasant. It is a spiritual battle, and the struggle was tremendous until I was out of the country. I found it not hard to leave my husband and the children, as I had so definitely given them up during the worst spell. And ‘way back last Spring while I had them around me, and I was taking such pleasure in the care of the children, it seemed the Lord was saying to me, “Lovest thou Me more than these?” I knew then He was going to prove me and see if I meant what I said when I replied, “Yea, Lord Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

These three months “alone” with Him have been very precious, and He has taught me lessons I shall not forget. Lovingly, Ione

Once again, Ione has faced her challenges and come through bolstered and supported by her faith and continued belief in the Lord’s goodness for her. If Hector was tested through illness a few years earlier, this was now Ione’s turn.

Theirs is a ‘love story’ but when challenged, Ione submits that her love of her Lord must take precedence.

There are no more letters around this time, who needs letters when you have your family around you.

 

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