Chapter 14 – Pastor McMillan

Chapter 14

Pastor McMillan

When Ione returned to America, she stayed with her mother in an apartment in Fenton, Michigan, which meant she was also close to her sister Lucille, so had two very good support networks; she was also near to her supporting church based in Pontiac and equidistant to Dr Westcott and family. Once Hector joined her, the family set up in their own house, so as not to overcrowd Grandma Reed.

Ione with a happy Timothy George

Timothy George McMillan is born on 6th February 1954. Again, with family all at hand, there are few letters giving details of the birth, much as it was when David Lynn was born.

The pictures show a bright baby, with features similar to Kenny and David, with no signs that anything was untoward in the early stages of his foetal life.

Hector writes to Mr Pudney on the 8th February:

The pastorate here in Fenton have been giving me $50.00 per week. This should take care of our rent and heat. From now on the office should be able to keep back all the gifts which come in, sending Ione’s and the children’s support, and mine from Peoples Church. The cost of living is still quite high, but we have a fair supply of goods ahead now. I imagine I will be able to take some outside meetings when Ione is a little stronger. Just this week I have filled out the form for clearing that $500 that my uncle left. I am enjoying having this opportunity of being a pastor. The Sunday congregation is growing and folks seem eager for Bible teaching.

I trust you received the telegram about our new boy. Ione had a fairly easy time but had a little setback when they allowed her to get up the next day to go to the bathroom. They are so crowded that they like to have them go home in two or three days, so they encourage them to get around. The little lad is real cute, something like David. He weighed 8.8 lbs. We are hoping that either Dr. Westcott or the church in Pontiac will take care of expenses. But in case they don’t we will be glad to have some extra money for this month. Were it not for some of these extras I could have told you to keep High Park’s gift in the office. If we see that we don’t need it I may be able to send it by bank draft.

I’ll close for now. I’m going down to Ypsilanti after supper to see Ione. Mrs. Reed is here with the four boys. Stephen is with Mrs. Peterson.     Yours in Christ,    Hector

Hector’s next letter is to the Department of External Affairs on 16th February 1954:

Dear Sirs:

I am returning my passport for renewal.

Would you please add the name of TIMOTHY GEORGE born Feb 6, 1954 at Beyer Hospital, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Another matter I hope you can help me with. Since returning from Africa I have had some difficulty establishing the fact that I am a returning Canadian Resident. Maybe you can inform me about the regulation covering this matter. At the present time I am visiting my wife’s people in USA.

Respectfully Yours,

Hector McMillan

In February 1954, the Putney’s send out a newsletter:

“Lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes.” Isaiah 54:2b

Growth and increase has ever been God’s order. To attempt to stand still means retreat. We must go forward or stagnate. Souls are still perishing at an alarming rate.

The advance of the U.F.M. during the past 10 years has been most gratifying. New fields have been occupied in Haiti, Dominican Republic, British Guiana, and Dutch New Guinea, in addition to extending our activities in Papua, Belgian Congo, and Brazil. We now total 240 missionaries with many others soon to join them. Records show 360 churches, 100-day schools, 5 Bible schools, 5 boarding schools, 4 hospitals, printing press and an estimated 40,000 converts. To God be the glory, very literally our cords have been lengthened; but, what of strengthening the stakes! Future possibilities are unlimited. To be scriptural this must also be considered.

Our present Headquarters is far from adequate. Often, we are so filled with workers that there is little comfort for any one. We have prayed much and God has answered, for a Christian friend in real estate has located the very property to meet our requirement, situated just outside of Philadelphia, with adequate transportation, Post Office, bank, stores, etc. The grounds cover nearly 3 acres; the main dwelling consists of 15 rooms, 5 baths and excellent basement. In addition, there are 3 separate dwellings, making 34 rooms in all plus a triple garage and workshop. We cannot conceive of anything better even though it were built to order. Missionary families can be accommodated comfortably and the main house is so spacious that it can hold large gatherings for prayer meetings and conferences. The grounds and buildings are in excellent condition and no additional expense for improvement is involved.

The present owner is sympathetic toward our work and has agreed for us to purchase it for $20,000 less than would be otherwise required. Without this concession we could not have entertained the thought. By faith we have paid a deposit and we expect to occupy next May.

We are sure that all friends of the U.F.M. will rejoice with us and really take this matter to heart, praying with us that before next May we may receive an additional $15,000 which we shall require over and above the amount realized from the sale of our present property. God will, we know, abundantly reward you, should you consider it a privilege to share in the purchase of this adequate U.F.M. Headquarters. The enclosed envelope is for your convenience.  Very sincerely yours, E.J.Pudney

The newsletter must arrive at a particularly busy time for the Macmillan’s settling down to life in a ‘new’ country and accommodating a new baby. Having family nearby to help out with the children means Ione does not need to write letters quite so much so we can only surmise that it has been difficult for Ione. There is just one letter written on the 20th May to Ione’s mother in which she is finalising details of the family’s attendance at a Conference and in this letter, it is evident that Ione is also managing engagements at various churches to promote missionary work. This letter contains wisp of Tim’s hair.  The lack of response from the Macmillan’s prompts Mr Pudney to write to Hector on 8th June 1954:

Dear Hector, the Rector,

How are you getting along these days? Apparently, ink is scarce since I have not had a line from you since Lancaster Conference. However, pencil will do if you find five minutes to tell us how matters are progressing with you!

You will be glad to know that we are now getting nicely straight here at 306 Bala Avenue. You would not know the office building at the present time. Glenn See and his father made a wonderful job of it. We moved in last Friday and this week are working under the new conditions. The gate house is now getting a good cleaning. Dedication takes place on Saturday next, the 12th. We know that you will join us in prayer and praise.

We trust you are all well and that the doctor gave Ione a good report. We are grateful for the amounts your church gave through the ministry of John Stevenson which shows that you have a missionary people to whom you are ministering. May the Lord do great things through you. Should a part of your salary be placed to equipment and passage back to the field, this should pass through the mission’s books, thus we trust that you will bear this in mind.

The Lord’s continued and abundant blessing.

Very sincerely yours, E.J. Pudney

This time, Hector responds and writes back on 11th June:

Dear Mr Pudney:

Thank you for your letter and the allowance. I was away yesterday. Herb Boyes and I were down in Detroit fixing a garage door for John Stevenson. We moved the doorway over about nine inches and it makes it much easier to get the car in and out of the garage. Both John and Susan were away, so after we finished the job Herb and I got a nice lunch for ourselves before coming home. Herb’s father gave us a sack of potatoes, so that will keep us for a little while now.

I’m sorry not to have written sooner, but the questions of the pastorate was a bit uncertain right up until the first of June. (It would appear that a church in Fenton was without a Pastor when the Macmillan’s turned up, so they paid him $50 dollars a month to undertake pastoral duties whilst the church debated their next move. Hector, whilst seeing the money as a useful stopgap, does not seem too disappointed that he is relieved of his pastoral duties – he can now focus more on missionary deputation work.) They decided to call this Reverend Legree about six weeks ago, but a certain faction in the church circulated various reports of him not coming. However last weekend was his first service, so on the previous Wednesday evening they had a nice farewell service for me. They were most appreciative of the Lord’s blessing through our ministry and I too want to thank the Lord for the very profitable time spent with them. The missionary conference was very worthwhile and may mean something in the future for John Stevenson. He plans to spend some time visiting various pastors in the area.

On the allowance slip Ione’s service support seems to have been mentioned twice. In regards to finances, I believe we will need a little more for this month if any has come in. One extra item is the parts I have had sent out for the Bongondza lighting plant, amounting to $40. I understand that Alf Walby (the Walbys move from Maganga to Bongondza to assume the responsibilities left by Hector) has received the parcel, but when I ordered them for him, I told the Company in Wisconsin that I would settle the bill.

The doctor has given Ione quite an encouraging report. She had her medical examination (for her insurance) this past week and it was satisfactory. She has to go back in two weeks and maybe one month after that again to check on any adhesions, due to the recent operation.

We trust you will have a blessed time on Saturday at the dedication.

Yours in Christ, Hector & Ione

Ione’s mother and sister Lucille seem to have taken a break from their apartment in Fenton and are in Pontiac as Ione writes to them on the 2nd July 1954 from Fenton:

Dearest Mother,

Thanks for your card. I had a card and letter from Lucille and she seems to be happy there. Hope you all will have a refreshing time tho’ it may not be right here. We have had a visit from Claude & Alice Miller of Dunnville, Ont., Hector’s sister. They stayed overnight. It was Wed. so we took them to Pontiac to prayer meeting and took all the children and Mr. Hakes gave a clear-cut message on accepting Christ and not just being good citizens. (Ione probably has not quite forgiven Alice for her refusal to take on more of the family when Hector returned from Africa the previous year when she was still very ill. No more is alluded to, so it would seem Ione is happy that a message of sorts was given without her having to say anything at all.)   It was so good. We stopped at Peggy Reh’s on the way back, where we received a new set of dishes. Peggy & Mrs. Schultz and some others had received them with Kroger groceries, one by one, until there are from 12 to 14 of everything, a pretty bamboo pattern.

Ione with 6 boys – 1954

Two things I wanted to tell you. The clothes Hector bought to you for Marcellyn, after we were at Murphy’s that Tuesday nite were not from Murphy’s but from the Taylors, whose address I enclose. Mr. Murphy stopped here & asked why you had thanked them. They tho’t you had gotten the clothes Murphy’s gave to us! But we straightened it out with Murphy’s. You can just write the Taylors.

I’m so sorry we didn’t give you the address when Hector bought the things.

Another thing. Has Mr. Murphy told you that Tom Malone has said that when Marcellyn’s things are ready to go, Emmanuel Church will pay for their transport? What was her cable for? Have you heard?

Hector & I and family made our last trip to Dr. Westcott & he said I was finished. I don’t have to go back for any adhesions as the trouble is finished.

Since then Hector has written Mr. Pudney & he advises definitely a temporary pastorate & suggested Hector write to Mr. Brockmer, the pastor of High Park Bapt. in Toronto. This he has done & we await the answer.

Mr. Rounds has given us two weeks to “think it over” about the furniture balance. If no money comes in for that by the time we pay our rent (15th) we can only suggest that he chose what items are worth the balance.

I haven’t been over to the apartment yet, but hope to go over in the morning. Hector has bro’t in your mail each day & watered the plants. He has been studying over in Maurice’s study a few times and has been working on their garden and mowing Faith’s lawn. He fixed their mower.

Fenton Bible Church gave me $29.75 for their offering Sun. A.M. A filled auditorium awaited me as I was conducted there by Allan Crane, who took me home immediately after & bro’t Mrs. Nichols to S.S. I was glad to have the contact with him.

Hector had a good time in Detroit. Today we had a letter from one of his listeners who was so touched she sent a check for $25 (almost enough for our milk bill!!) However, with these extra offerings we are making out and Claude Miller left $5 for the children and I hope to be able to have a nice birthday for Paul and his Daddy with it. There may be enough for a train ride to Pontiac soon.

What’s this I hear about the evangelists staying at the apartment-?

Love, Ione

It is a letter from Dolena and Chester Burk, Hector and Ione’s longstanding friends still working at Boyulu that really reveals Ione’s physical state:

Dear Ione and Hector,

July is rather late to be writing to thank anyone for a Christmas card but that’s just how far we are behind in our correspondence and your card is at the top of the pile!

We hope you are well again Ione. I suppose you have another big healthy baby. All your babies and boys look the picture of health, anyway, in the picture – but they always were. I can’t say the same for you, and I do you hope you have lost that “drawn” look. No doubt if you are getting proper care you will be feeling better. We were so glad to hear of the progress you had made and that no permanent damage had been done to your heart.

You will no doubt have heard about Olive Rogers. She has heart trouble – Dr. Stephens (Nyankunde) says it is coronary Thrombosis (however you spell it). She has not done a day’s work this year. The most she did was two hours of teaching and then she had to go home to bed. She has had one heart attack after another and spends most of the time in bed. She doesn’t want to go home and Dr. Becker thinks if she is able to take things easy she may be able to stay on the field but we are waiting now for further word as she is at Nyankunde for treatment now. It is very doubtful if she will be able to work with natives again but God is able if it is His will. (There is no criticism intended of Ione’s decision to return home rather and endorsement of the choices made.)

The McAllister’s are with us now at Boyulu and they are a grand couple. They live in one half of our house. The old Carter house is empty now as the Nicholls are gone to Banjwadi but it is not fit to live in and as soon as the new house they are building for Audrey is finished she will move and they will have the Arton’s house. As you know, the Arton’s are at Maganga now. They seem to have worked up a big medical work there already but I’m afraid there is not yet much encouragement on the spiritual side. They have cleaned up the station with the help of the dispensary patients and are planting coffee trees and other things. (The Arton’s have probably moved because the Walby’s have gone to Bongondza. The Mission tried to keep the various mission stations balanced in terms of personnel and that single missionary ladies were not left on their own.)

Chester and Bob are making good progress on the maternity unit. They are up past the windows on the first building. It is the same as the one where we had the conference meetings at Ekoko. They are building Audrey’s house with a “Burkamore Builder” – a contraption resembling a Fenamore builder which was built by Chester Burk. Chester says to tell you that hunting is good – he shot two big male baboons a week or so ago. I made history by shooting a big-beaked bird (hornbill?) from the dining room window, – the bird was in a tree down by the road. The house kid was down and had it almost before it hit the ground. You’d have thought I shot an elephant the commotion it caused! And the way I strutted!

The revival still goes on, although very little demonstration anymore. Also those who were superficially moved are going back but many are going on and the workmen on the station are still working with a very good spirit. Chester has about 35 workmen now – had about 15 before the revival.

Now I must close. Thank you for the picture and “note”. Will be glad to hear further word of you – are hoping Dr. Torrey will know how you are getting along. We are going to Bongondza to the Field Council meeting when he is here. Olive R. is our second representative but she is away so they chose me to go in her place although we are not too sure that is in order.

Cheerio and God bless.    Love, Dolena & Chester

The Macmillan’s move from Fenton to Newington, Ontario which is near Hector’s family and on 12th September 1954, Ione writes to her mother:

I am hoping you heard thru Hector that we arrived safely, for this is my first letter! Everything went according to schedule, although’ the moving men were a little later than they said, and their cost was $350, whereas the company had originally quoted $175. But we did take more stuff and they charge by the pound. We even paid $5 for the use of the hamper where my things on hangers were put. Also lamp shades. But they all arrived in excellent condition. The rugs were O.K. too. I was able to tell them where to put everything, and that night Archie helped Hector and the house was liveable in a hurry. The customs agent at Cornwall was a relative of Hector & arranged for us to enter as “settlers” and there was no duty, and it was because of his help that Hector was able to go back and get the car, but it had to be entered within a certain time after the furniture. That is why he did is so soon after our arrival. Barbara Pierce stayed with me until the last night and then Jean spent the night here and part of the day. I didn’t try to do anything during that time except put up some of the curtains.

Jean bro’t in roast veal and gravy and potatoes, fresh vegetables and baked goods almost every day. She bro’t salmon loaf yesterday. They give us our milk until the cow comes over. The children have been having fun exploring in the barn and all around the place. The big electric train was the biggest attraction the day the truck came. I wish Mrs. Dickenson could know how much I appreciated having it for them just now. It gave them a central interest while we made their surroundings normal.

Kenny & Paul like their school. It is a 3-room brick, quite modern, with the 1st & 2nd grades in one room, and the teacher said K & P could sit together for a while. She starts & finishes the day with prayer & reads the Bible to them.

I had some nice talks with Barbara about the things of the Lord.

I haven’t heard from Marcellyn yet but hope to soon.

I am feeling fine and getting over the tiredness of our busy time. Lovingly, Ione

Two weeks later, Ione writes again to her Mother and Lucille as she has not heard from them:

I haven’t heard a word from you since our arrival twenty-six days ago, and I am wondering if you have written to the wrong town! Did you get my letter? I am wondering how you are and what everyone’s doing.

We are pretty well settled here. I’ve done a little changing around of furniture and have achieved a play room which is nice on stormy days and has a couch in it for little folk (or Mother!) to relax. It also has a chest of drawers which we are tabulating with stickers for the various toys and books. It is just off the living room so is not too much out of my sight. The two pieces of furniture are loaned to us. I have a crib there too, and our card table now has short legs for the convenience of drawing & colouring or an occasional tea party.

I have been amazed at the pep I have had here, and just at the time I need it to get things systematically going. I certainly appreciate all the help I had all last year, to get me back on my feet. It was so good to know that I had my Mother and sister right there to step in. And by doing a little bit more all along, I gained strength. I think I must weigh about 145 now, and I feel so good. Our food is simple here but good and plentiful. We have enuf potatoes for nearly all winter, a big box of carrots sanded down, a bushel of apples, tomatoes, cabbages, turnips, eggs, etc. You can get a chicken for 50¢ and eggs are 22¢ but I had 3 doz. given to us last week. We are not out in the country anymore here really than in Fenton, but it seems more open as there are not the bushes, there are shade trees and fruit trees, too, and we get a strong wind which makes the diapers fluffy and the cheeks pink.

Hector has been helping Archie and some of the other farmers do their threshing this week, and has had many opportunities to witness. Did I tell you Hector drives to Avonmore school mornings for 1-1/2 hours and again in the afternoon? We are so thankful to have our car to use. The few days we were without it were hard, but Archie let Hector have his car when he could.

I have been finding it a real joy to sing at my work, and I can sing loud as we have no near neighbours as in Fenton! I remember years ago asking the Lord to bless my voice, and he did so that I could sing with the Trio. But now I am asking him to give me a song. There is quite a difference. “He took me out of the pit — set my feet on a rock…He put a song in my heart.” The latest song- “I stand amazed in the Presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” Kenny sings the tenor.

All for now. Please write. The children have adjusted themselves quickly, but they are not forgetting you.

With loads of love, Ione     XXXXXXX

During October 1954, Hector and Ione write a newsletter summarising their recent activities, explaining why the sudden rush back to the States but also reassuring everyone that Ione had made a good recovery. Dr Westcott had suggested that the family counted the first few weeks as ‘sick leave’ thus giving the family an extended furlough in which to fully recover. However, it is evident that the family would like to return to Congo but this time they have a wish list that includes a car.

Planning to return to Congo means Ione is accommodating meetings to spread the word, and she tells her mother that she has a date at the United Reform Church to speak at their morning service. Being in Canada means Hector’s niece Florence, can help Ione with childcare and the other bonus is the supply of food, when a pig is killed, they get steaks and a soup bone. Ione writes to her mother in November 1954:

I have learned to milk the cow. She had a nice little girl calf. Which we sold for $20. Bread is delivered 3 times a week, also cookies, etc. Don’t worry. Come and see for yourself! I weigh 133 lbs.

Lovingly, Ione

This letter although short, indicates that there are family matters worrying Ione; her Aunt Kate has died, so one reason for writing is to send her mother money to cover flowers that are bought.  Money remains a major preoccupation, Ione is mindful that in getting Marcellyn out to Africa and all the family back, that there is still money owed to the Mission. Although only alluded to, it would appear that Marcellyn is having problems, Ione writes:

It looks like you should keep the apartment if Marcellyn is coming home. I wonder what it means. It looks like an attack of the wicked one. All of her troubles seemed to be straightened out and she wrote such a beautiful letter about it. And then probably the subtle dart that upset everything, a relapse. That is the way it looks to me. How quick is the evil one to do a thing like that.

Whether Marcellyn experiences a crisis in faith, a moral dilemma or lack of confidence, it is not made explicit. It cannot have been easy for a single missionary like Marcellyn living in such a remote part of Africa without family near to hand, although there would have been other missionaries, it could still be quite lonely. A few days later Ione writes:

I am waiting anxiously, as I know you are, for another word from or about Marcellyn. We are praying that His will be done. – indicating a deep concern.

Being November Ione writes:

By the way, are there any plans for Christmas? Is there any chance of anyone coming our way?

As ever, Ione’s letters to her mother seek to reassure that the family are well:

They all have warm clothes, as well as leggings and boots. We received two parcels from ladies at Toronto of overalls and flannel-lined jeans, etc. We’re destitute for sox right now but by washing them when we do the baby diapers they manage with about two pairs apiece. Stephen’s snowsuit fits Timmie now and Stephen can wear the dark blue heavy coat that John wore for good last winter. I hate to have him wear it for every day, but it’s all he has and it is easy for me to put on. He doesn’t go many places and I hope it’ll not be too dirty when I want to take him to church in it.

Ione’s management skills are made evident in the next sentence:

 I have the summer things packed away in tea towels marked with their initials, so there won’t be so much sorting in the spring, I hope!

Ione ends with a touch of humour:

The children’s school teacher is Miss Dickey and you would have laughed the first few days. They came home calling her Miss ‘Stickey’ and the boy that impressed them the most was someone whose name sounded like ‘Magooey’. Rather a gummy bunch! Now they’ve got it straightened out; the boy’s name is ‘MacQuay’. Our telephone is just as unprivate (meaning it is a shared line) as the one at Fenton was private. There are no private lines right here, and we have all the rings and combinations from 1 to 6. I was talking to our neighbour one day and a rooster crowed over the wire. I asked if she had a rooster and she replied No, but did I?  Then we both laughed and she said, “I’ll bet that one’ll get his head chopped off for dinner!” We nearly always hear someone lift up the receiver when we start to talk! But when Hector and I talk we speak in Bangala!

All for now. I am feeling grand. Love, Ione

In a letter written on 18th December, it is apparent that Marcellyn has returned home safely, however the family will not be meeting up at Christmas. Ione writes:

Christmas at Newington – 1954

I am going to miss you all this Christmas, but will be thinking of you all together there with Lucille. I think we will go to Montreal to Irene’s unless they decide to come to the farm with Jean. I have let them decide. Jean has the house decorated beautifully. Our house is going to be pretty, too, with the tree on the end of the train table (see Mrs. Dickenson’s letter). Could you send it to her please?

Loads of love, Ione

It has been a hectic year for Ione, and it is interesting to note that in one her last letters for the year she tells her mother that she is letting other people decide where she will spend Christmas, a telling change.

There is little reference in the letters this year of what she ie reading or the biblical texts that are guiding her thoughts, it is as if she has been too busy fighting for her own life and regaining her physical strength. There is no doubt that this time spent in Canada is physically nourishing and just what the family needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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