Kilometer 9: Nasser’s Place
As Christmas approaches, Ione and Hector move house with 14 children, some of whom are ill with measles! They have 10 house guests but rather than being a burden, they all help with the move. The house is far from ready and there are no quarters for the staff. Ione writes to her mother and sisters on 12th December 1955:
Dear Mother, Marcellyn and Lucille,
There has been a letter from Lucille, all too brief, but nothing else since the wedding. And here we are, thirstin’ for details!
About a week and a half ago we moved from the place next to the bakery to a place nine kilometers out of town (about 6 miles) on the old Buta Road. There are about 3 hectares of land, that is about 7-1/2 acres of forest, garden and cleared space. It sits on a hill, well off the road, rather above it with a hedge across. Lots of palm trees papaya, berries, pineapple, and native greens, etc. We are renting the two houses and the land all for $100, a month. The larger is a good dormitory and the smaller a guest house. It is fitted with electricity and run by a gasoline motor and there is a well of water. The entrance to the property was narrow and gouged out of the hill, not easy to spot or negotiate.
Our stove, an almost new one brought to Stanleyville by Viola (Walker) when she could not get it to work. She bought herself another. And we have found that it just needed a very large chimney and have been getting very good results with it. A wood stove, a little larger than Marcellyn’s at Ekoko. We have a two-burner kerosene stove as well. Also, an outside fire for heating bath water, much like on all stations. In fact, this reminds us very much of setting up a new station, and it is quite a challenge. Were it not that we have had our hands full with an epidemic of measles we might be quite thrilled! 8 of the 14 have had measles and the last two just wouldn’t break out for ever so long and kept vomiting night and day. But I guess it is all over now, and we are so thankful for no serious complications. We had the advice from the school doctor as well as the B.M.S. doctor, and a visit from Betty Arton who helped with care and advice, so we have not been without medical care.
We have had some splendid verses especially in the Psalms, 31:8-“Thou has set my feet in a large room.” (I wish you could see it!) And the verses about being delivered from the “straightness of our way” being removed from the horrible pit and miry clay (you should have seen the mucky ditch water in front of the other place!)
And we have had some real blessings in reading from Hudson Taylor’s life. This project is a step of faith, and must go on, without subsidy or special support for the time being, and we BELIEVE GOD will not fail us in it. You maybe remember the verse in Revelation chapter 3 verse 8 about an open door and a little strength. Well, this is surely it. On one of the very first visits to this new house some natives pled with Hector and Kinso to set up a church on this road, and because we are this far out I believe we can do it without infringing on BMS or Salvation Army territory. (The various Christian organisations had an agreement not to compete directly with each other, given the vastness of the area). There is no protestant work right here at all. Last Sunday we held a service and the first audience was ten from right on the spot, but by afternoon others came inquiring and said they will attend, too.
“He cannot have taught us to trust in His Name
And thus far have brought us to put us to shame.”
As Hudson Taylor said, “OUR NEEDS ARE GREAT BUT THEY DO NOT EXCEED THE RESOURCES OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER.”
What we would like to do is buy the property, and then we can improve it as we would like. The total cost would be $14,000. Will you pray for this, and also for transportation? The bus comes here four times a day for the children but we would like a large station wagon or Volkswagen and are trusting Him for this.
The children are learning French fast. (The Belgians had indeed set high standards for the school since the majority of the students at this time were from the Belgian expatriate community. Any non-Belgian children had to be able to keep up with lessons in French). It is a very high-class school, and everything must be just right, even to covers for copybooks of a certain colour, etc. And detailed notes came one after the other concerning the costumes required for the Christmas program. The final results were ten different costumes, some with four parts. There were soldiers, Dutchmen, hunters, white rats, and little John was to be dressed all in white, and they put a big red bow at the neck and their song was darling. It was last Monday. Everything in French. Two had the measles. I am keeping well, and Hector too. Our baggage came just after we had moved (the Lord’s good timing!) and we have Christmas decorations, etc., plus the good strawberry jam and rhubarb. Not one broken. Only two dishes. All for now. Lovingly, Ione
Over the Christmas vacation, the porch gets cemented, walls are whitewashed and windows installed. The house boys mark out and set up the floor plans for their huts inserting wooden poles which will form the outline of their homes.
New Year’s Day 1956, Ione writes:
Dearest Mother, Marcellyn, and Lucille,
The pictures came this week! And they are beautiful! I was so surprised and pleased to see Uncle Vern’s face. That was nice to have him give Marcellyn away. The others participating were well-chosen. I could see that the whole thing was beautifully planned and could be such a testimony. I would like to hear the story of how the Lord provided for each of those expensive parts, like the dress, flowers, refreshments, etc. I’m sure there is lots to hear. The little note on Mother’s form letter only whetted my appetite.
We had a nice Christmas. Filled stockings but no tree. 33 natives came and we gave them a little “feast”! Not much in the mail, but a letter from Doris with a check for five dollars, five dollars from Mother, and a dollar for Stephen’s birthday, which was yesterday. We couldn’t get into town to change these so will get something when we do go. Stephen needs to pass his rubber boots on to Timmy and have some new ones. Timmy is talking so much now, and he rolls his eyes so expressively. He had his first taste of ‘pai-pai potopoto’ (a mixture of Klim powdered milk and soft papaya). Can’t you just see his eyes registering the flavour, and then he made the statement, “It’s goob!” In family worship one can often hear his voice as he says to the other boys, “Voove over!” He prayed his first little prayer the other day. John has been wearing the little baseball-figured two-piece cotton suit that Lucille gave to Paul for his birthday. And today he announced that it was too tight in the middle, so Stephen has it now. You can see how fast they are growing. I suppose Jim is almost as tall as his mother by now. Kenny is rejoicing because his fat tummy is thinning out and he is taller. The Protestant Chaplain and his wife and daughter presented our missionary children with some gifts for Christmas. Shirts, trousers, tennis shoes, whistles, mouth organs, all sorts of things. Three huge packets, and she helped me divide them into packets for each child.
Thank you so much, Mother for the gift of money. You should not have done that, as I know you need it yourself. And Lucille, for a magazine, My Chum would be fine. The children seem to have sufficient clothing. Shoes are our next need. We can get them out here however. I am thankful I have those shoes provided by the Sunnyvale Chapel ladies and the Loyal’s. They are so comfortable, I never think of my feet and whether on cement floors or stones or mud they are the same. I must send the bill to Geraldine Lonie to prove to her I did spend that money on shoes! I wish I had someone to give me a Toni. I am tempted to try it myself, but my hair would need cutting and that takes a little skill. Maybe I can get some of our visitor’s help.
“And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” Obadiah 17
This has been going thru my mind. We’ve entered into this project as a single definite act. But the possessing is step by step. “As thou goest step by step…” It is one thing to enter in by faith; another to possess it. This jungle must be conquered, pushed back, more buildings put up, the people reached. By the time we had made shelves a tarantula had crept into one suitcase of things, and when I lifted out the pile of clothes, it jumped back into the suitcase. I called the houseboy to kill it. And Hector killed another in the washroom off our bedroom. We are reminded daily that we are in the forest. A storm last week whipped around a way that it usually does not come and four rooms were wet. And Christmas decorations were spoiled (some from Marcellyn’s trunk!); bulbs that had survived six months of travel in a metal drum now met their doom, and the force of the rain sent a spray of red crepe paper raindrops thru the wire screening on the white tablecloth and the open dish cupboard. We were two days drying piles of children’s clothing. But that is nothing to the damage that might have come. We have a strong roof.
I am thinking of the stanza Mother put in my precious promise New Testament when I spent my first Christmas on the mission field;
“O Strengthen me, that while I stand
Firm on the Rock, and strong in Thee,
I stretch out a loving hand to wrestle with the troubled sea” (from Lord, speak to me, etc.). Please excuse this messy letter. Loads of love, Ione
January continues to be a very busy month; Ione describes it to her mother on the 27th :
Mr. Nasser, the Indian, who owns this property said if Hector dug the well, he’d furnish the tiling to finish it. So that’s where we are right now. Already Hector has the water piped to the house and a pump at the well pumps it. You asked about electricity; there is a motor which Mr. Nasser gave us, but it is old and we hope to have a new one soon. There is a possibility of a large Diesel engine being designated for us. It is on its way out from Ireland, and Mr. Kerrigan is the receiver, but he has said that it is too big for his needs. Well, it wouldn’t be too big for us, and a vote was taken on all the stations, and as nearly as we can tell so far, most think we should have it! Do pray about this. We have lights going at night and also in the morning as we must be up before daylight, and the lamps that we bro’t do look pretty with their nice shades. When we moved to this unfurnished house it looked pretty bare and the missionaries from Banjwadi brought in a whole truckload of things, so that we have most everything now. Hector has made a number of things, tables, cupboards, a long living room seat with nylon cord woven for the seat, desk, bamboo rings for curtain rods, etc. The rugs look nice in the living room and bedrooms. The whole house has a dark red cement floor and mottled creamy-white walls. The woodwork in the bedrooms is light pink.
Ione has received more details about Marcellyn’s wedding and writes:
I was so glad to hear all about the wedding. I was thinking as I read the newspaper articles how much the seed-pearl-trimmed dresses would cost and was surprised when I learned you had sewn them on yourselves and they were from the dime store! And the lovely tiara, would look pretty with a veil made by mother. My, I am so sorry to have missed the wedding of my very own sister. (In a letter to Mrs. Cullen written in 1960 Ione discloses that Marcellyn married a widow, he had lost his first wife during labour of their third child in The Dominican Republic. After the marriage the couple went back to the Dominican Republic and worked there as missionaries for the UFM.) And now she is going to have her first baby at 36, a little older than I was.
I’m glad you are learning to drive as you will be able to go when you like. But you must be very careful and choose your times to drive when the traffic is not thick on Dixie, like mornings between 8 and 9 and evenings between 5 and 6, and Sunday afternoons and evenings. You know what a mess it is then. And could you not go to Lucille’s by way of Davisburg? You wouldn’t have to go so fast then. Maurice knows the route.
This letter is subject to many interruptions, and on the 30th January 1956, Ione continues:
Well, now it’s the mumps! In the last few days one after the other has come down with a swelling on one side or the other or both, until today we have one child from each of the four families sick. I am following the advice given in the Child Care book, and it says to be especially careful with boys and watch for swellings elsewhere, so I am as we have such a number of boys here. And one of the Carter boys, Philip, is 11, rather a serious age. He became ill first. John is the latest and has the basin beside him this morning. One side is swollen, of his jaw I mean.
After the lights were out last night we were lying in bed talking about Grandma and John spoke up brightly and said, “Grandma likes me!” And then little Timmie echoed, “Gamma wike me!” It was sweet. I am sure they have not forgotten you. But you must send a picture where they can see your face. The one you sent with Timmie just shows big fat Timmie! And he is still just as fat and soft. You should hear him singing “Are you sleeping, brother John,” in both French and English. He is talking much sooner than most of ours. The Carter boys are so nice to him and love to dress him and help him in many ways. I hope he will not be spoiled.
Well, I’ve had a round with the kitchen staff and I think the dishwashing is improved now, for a while. I’ll keep out awhile and see what they can do, then I’ll go out and tell them what to prepare for dinner. We are expecting Kinso and Marge Boyes and maybe Marshall Southard from Banjwadi. (Ione has 27 house guests through January)
Things are pretty well ready for dinner now: browned potatoes, slices of hot Smack (like Spam), Harvard beets, creamed carrots, lots and lots of diced bananas prettied up with a tin of strawberries. Whether our company comes or not, we’ll enjoy it. And then there is a big three-layer frosted cake ready for supper.
Well, I guess it’s hopeless to try to write more. There are a number of places for me just now. Bowl-baths for all the sick ones (now a fifth), the two babies in the tub, and now the rest have finished and I’ve sent for the boy to get supper. I need a wash and take a few more temperatures.
Some precious verses today from Daily Light about running. Yes, the road is uphill all the way, but what a lovely ending! To see His face will be enough. Crowns, well, we’ll cast them at His feet. “Take this child and nurse it for ME, and I will give thee thy wages.”
Loads of love, Hector and Ione
It is mainly the older children that have mumps and they prove to be more difficult to nurse than the younger ones. Ione gets a chance to write to Hector’s sister Irene on the 5th February whilst Hector takes some of the children out for a walk. Hectors walks were usually for one kilometer as at Kilometer 8 there was a house he liked the look of.
The going here is uphill all the way, but the exercise of our faith is a blessing to our souls. Perhaps you can picture Hector and the bigger boys digging a well in 100 degrees temperature, so that we won’t have to carry the water from the next property; Hector trying to bring to life a long-dead electric motor for lights; me standing over a small wood stove cooking for 20 or more. It’s a humble beginning, but we have the first qualification for a children’s home — the children! And if the parents have confidence enough to send us their little ones, we can carry on until things are better. We are in a healthier place now than in town, and I think we feel the inconveniences more than do the children. The Lord is good to trust us with the job. And the natives keep coming for meetings, too. And the guests, at least three a week. We have a family of four with us now, missionaries from a station about 200 miles away. When they leave their children with me and go to town shopping, to doctor, etc., that adds to the job, but the Lord gives grace. It will be better if some day we can have another couple in charge of the guest house.
Last night we were sitting in the living room talking with the missionary couple, and Mrs. McAllister heard a slight rustle behind her. The lantern light revealed a snake, which Mr. McAllister bravely trampled with his shoe. I thought it a bit risky to kill it that way as he couldn’t see the head too well, and it kept trying to wind around his leg. Usually it’s better to cut off the head with a machete. But I was thankful to have it killed that way as there was no blood left on the rug. (Bob McAllister was a stocky Irishman, more than capable of stamping on a snake!) We have killed two tarantulas since coming here.
Hector back now and a meal to think of. Loads of love, Ione
Ione encourages the children to write letters, Sundays are usually dedicated to writing to parents. As the Macmillan boys have their parents on hand, they are encouraged to write to Grandma. On 1st April 1956, Paul writes:
Thank you for your nice letter and for the stamps. I do not have a good stamp album. I am using a note book. We are having a nice April fool time. We fool Daddy in giving him candy paper with stones in. David is collecting pictures of cow boys. I would like a Bible game to play and a book called Lassie and Joe. We have read Lassie Come Home.
I would like an ice-cream cone when I come.
What would you like from Africa?
Here is a verse. “What time I am afraid I will trust in the Lord.” With love from Paul (those are kisses) XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Easter 1956, Ione writes to her mother:
Our biggest news you maybe know already, as it is that the Loyal’s Philatheas have voted to buy us a refrigerator. They asked if we might be able to buy it out here, and I sent back a letter return mail with a picture of one we can get right here, a lovely big deluxe Servel kerosene one with a big freezing compartment beside places for ice cubes or ice cream! My, will we be glad to have it! We continue to have guests sometimes two and three parties at once, and with a special gift received at Christmas we hope to get good beds and mattresses for the children. We use the big double bed that Westcott’s left at Bongondza which was brought down to us here. We have the piano now, too, and a rocking chair that was given to Dr. Westcott when he was down country with the other mission. I do enjoy it, and have rocked all of the children in it. When Walbys asked if there was anything else we wanted from there, I mentioned that and the piano and they brought them on the 1st March.
I was trying to lift Timmie over a rough patch of forest land back of the guest house and stumbled, and rather than fall with him I grasped the nearest thing at hand which was a small palm tree with thorns on it. Several went into my hand and I pulled two out right then, but a third was stuck in, and I finally left wet dressings on it to see if it would draw out. Four days later a half-inch thorn popped out with no trouble at all, and today, six days later, another appeared. I think that is the last. It has not made a very bad sore as you can judge since I am typing with both hands.
Money keeps coming in for the children’s home, but as yet we are not sure whether we should stay here or look for another piece of land. Our mission has applied for a free government grant, but these things take years to get. And what do you do in the meantime we are not sure. We might find a place which the government might consider and rent it for the time, but it would mean building, and I don’t see how Hector can be doing building in another place, and be any help here, and I feel I cannot carry on without his help. So pray about this. It would be easier to stay here, but the cost is quite high. As Mrs. Taylor once said, “The Lord gave us a single eye to do His will, and then guide us just where He would have us…”
And so we carry on, putting up walls which can be moved, for an additional bathroom, removable pipes for our water supply, temporary partitions between rooms, etc. Two nice teeter-totters, a big slide, a swing and a “cable car” which travels on a couple wheels over a cable down a slope. Everyone says the playground place here is ideal. (Unfortunately, Kenny Boyes reached up and put his finger on the cable and almost lost the tip as the wheels ran over it. He ended up with a very bad cut swathed in bandages and the cable car ended up ‘out of bounds’ to the ‘little ones’.
The Protestant Chaplain sent their Girl Scouts camping here for two days in our guest house last week, and they did enjoy it. We enjoyed them, too, especially on rainy times when they couldn’t light their fires outside! And they came to our kitchen. Their leader asked a lot of questions about U.F.M. and being a Christian. If my French had been better I would have gotten farther. Pray about this.
Now I must close. The secret of happiness I have found this week is to LET NOT your heart be troubled…It is a definite act and must be guarded carefully. If we believe in God, believe also in the Lord Jesus, then we can systematically be instant in prayer, casting ALL our care upon Him. It saves worrying.
Thanks so much for your good letters and for your faithful ministry in our behalf. The Lord bless you and keep your heart singing.
In a letter written to both her sister Lucille and niece Esther on 10th April 1956, Ione, after enquiring about Esther’s forthcoming wedding, describes a little of her day which starts just after 5.30 am. Family worship starts at 6.15 am so that everyone is ready for the school bus which arrives at 6.45 am. As they do not have a car, Hector sets out on foot, the six miles into Kisangani. Ione writes:
Hector bought some small chickens and sent them back with a native boy so that I could cook them for dinner while he did other shopping. But alas, the chickens arrived after the guests! But the Lord always undertakes for us, and the guests, that is the first ones, presented me with a package of cold meat from the butcher shop. Quite often people have thoughtfully stopped to get us meat as that is a problem. So we are having fried chicken for supper, the second time since coming back.
We are so happy here, especially so because we feel we are needed. Missionary mothers have expressed their gratefulness that we are caring for their children while they are able to get out into the village work more extensively.
Since I started the letter we have had 27 different guests. Part of them were because school was starting again after the holiday, and the children were brought back by their parents. But we are noticing a definite increase of guests, from other missions as well as our own. Until Christmas the average was three a week and now it is ten a week! Do pray much for this, as our first job is the care of the children, and we do not want to be too tired to be a father and mother to them. The two little girls (Laureen and Veronica Walby left on the 3rd April) have gone on furlough, so now it is 11 boys. “And I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men of God to go up with me.” Pray that the Lord will lay it upon someone’s heart to come out and help us. There is no one free of all our present group of missionaries on the field.
We have figured up that within four years there will be 30 children in our present field group that will be of school age.
Another heartache – during the holiday time I did something which has been heavy upon my heart since we came. There are little children all around us who cannot go to school because they are too far from Stanleyville so since I was already giving some reading and writing lessons and sewing to the wives of our house staff, I let the children come, too, and got as many as I cared to handle! Then the bombshell! Our field secretary made a visit and told me I must not try to have any classes, as it was too much for me. But I can continue with the sewing classes as it gets our mending done! Well, it is a thing to pray about. Pray that we may be able to find a native teacher who knows the Lord who can take this group regularly. Hector has been making beds out of inch pipes threaded together and a webbing of nylon cord stretched across.
Three times today little Stephen got into the driver ants, and each time had to be lifted out of them as he was frozen to the spot with fright. The hurt only lasts until you pick them off. They are right near the house where a stump has been removed, and he keeps forgetting. Timmy rolled his big eyes and said, “I didn’t get into them!” John was supposed to be in the bath tub today but I found him climbing up on the shower fixture, grinning guiltily, and he couldn’t get down by himself.
By May, the hot season is getting to Ione, she writes to Hector’s sister Florence:
It’s so hot that the paper wants to stick on everything, and the little biting flies want to stick on me, but it’s a case of now or never, as the children are outside for a while, and Hector is supervising them.
We got a package from Canada (Newington) the other day, and inside was a fruit cake and a 4-lb. tin of honey. My, did that taste good! I wish we could exchange some of our bananas for such things; where we are living now there are many bananas and they are a special kind called lady fingers, as they are small, only about 3 inches. We just finished one head and another is ripe. (These lady finger bananas were almost a ‘staple’ part of the diet. One day, money had run out and all that was left to eat were the bananas! Fortunately, the cheques came through that very same day.)
The oldest boy (Gordon Carter) was home with mumps and was sitting on his bed with his feet dangling and happened to kick a small basket and out from the basket came a tarantula, large, black and hairy. It touched his foot, but did not bite, and we are thankful. We can tell them from ordinary spiders because they are so hairy and the body is fuzzy with fur. This is the third tarantula we have killed since we came. And two snakes, one in the living room and one in the bathroom. The toads we let stay as they kill ever so many small insects, and there are several in each room. Their little shadows hopping in the dark places are common sights. One night I got up without my slippers and put my foot on one; it was soft and cold!
By the time Ione gets to the end of the letter, the heat gives way to rain:
A heavy rain has just begun and all of the children are here. It’s not too bad when the rain comes straight down but when it comes with wind, there are only two rooms where we can go, and usually some things get spoiled.
On May 12th, Ione writes:
I wanted to tell you of three wonderful answers to prayer in the last three weeks. Three weeks ago yesterday, April 20th, we received a letter from Kenneth Hempstead, authorizing us to go ahead and buy a refrigerator out here, and we did, and were able to get the very one I had been wanting, a deluxe model Servel run by kerosene, 8 ft. size. It is lovely and has a light blue colour inside, and a large freezing compartment for ice cubes, ice cream and meat, etc. It was delivered the next day and we have had ice cream almost every day since! The cold things and even the cold water seem to improve everyone’s appetites. It cost $440. I was afraid that even if we had it there wouldn’t be enough money to buy the fresh meats and vegetables to make it worthwhile but again the Lord has undertaken and we have not lacked. Yesterday when Lehman Keener arrived by plane from Philadelphia, we were able to serve pork for dinner and cold roast beef for supper, plus ice cream, and he was especially pleased with the cold pineapple and papaya for dinner. He has come to spend some months in our field and will take pictures.
The second answer to prayer came May first, after I had been reading from Daily Light, “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isa. 32:18. I especially claimed the ‘sure dwellings’, for in so many ways our dwelling is yet unsure, and we have not been able to secure land even yet. We felt if we were to stay in this place, there would have to be some very large gifts of money toward buying it. That same day a notification came to our Field Treasurer of a gift of $2,000 for the Children’s Home, from Mr. Bryers, the same man who gave us $100 when we stopped to see him when Mrs. Wideman drove us to Toronto while we were in Fenton. It is not enuf even yet, but it is an indication that the Lord is working in our behalf and will yet give us the sure dwellings (notice it is in plural; and it seems to indicate the guest house as well as the dormitories, tho at the moment the former job is quite overwhelming. Our guest house is filled now for a month, and a letter came asking us to keep some Rethy children on their way to their school, that is for one night.
And now for number three! Not least, to be sure! I don’t think I told you about two visitors we had some time in March, about 6 P.M., two smart looking American men in raincoats drove in a Jeep station wagon. They asked for Hector and I took them thru our puddle road to the guest house where he was working. There were no chairs there to offer them, so I gave them boxes and they sat around sort of friendly like and I left to go stay with the children. It seemed they were tourists who had travelled around Africa and were wanting to go home now to California and leave the two Jeeps that the two couples had used. They wanted to do something for some American missionaries and had been told about us by the British Baptist Mission in town. They were willing to sell their Jeeps for 80,000 francs (about half price.) We saw no way of obtaining that much money but told them there were others in the mission who were hoping soon to get cars. He asked Hector ever so many questions and I guess was convinced that we needed a car.
He took Mr. Pudney’s address and telephone no. They said they would write us in about ten days. The next day Hector met them again in the bank and one man, Mr. Bruener, came right over to Hector and said rather secretively, “My friend and I do not see alike in this thing: I want to give you my Jeep, if you will make it possible for me to put it thru the income tax for exemptions.” Well, we looked and looked in the mail and heard nothing more, but Hector knew that when the men left, they put the two Jeeps in storage at the same place where we bought the refrigerator. So as long as they were yet in town, there was hope. And there was the Lord to consider. John Sebastian in Pontiac (now in Bible School) has prayed for three years for us to receive a station wagon. The children took it for granted that we would receive it and began to thank the Lord for it. But I was afraid to write anyone about it. Well, last Tuesday when Hector went into town the letter came, and a beautiful one at that, from the man in charge of a chain of furniture stores all across Cal., presenting us with a Jeep station wagon (’56)!! And Hector came home with it that noon. I was so overcome that I cried instead of laughing. Such a nice new green one, and with seats enough for everyone. Isn’t the Lord good?
A few nights ago in family worship Kenneth was reminded of the flannel graph you showed on the Heart House. He told the story quite well, and then I hear some boy make some remark, I don’t know what if was, but (not one of our boys!) Paul was heard to say to him, “Don’t you talk like that, or I’ll tell my Grandma, and say, she can spank hard!” So you see you have their respect!
The enclosed picture was taken in front of our house. The short pillars you see are around the ‘picnic area’ of the house, the semi-circle which is a white cement long bench at the kitchen-dining room end of the house. If we buy this property we will put a roof over it and a cement floor and make it into a large dining room.
In the snap the two larger boys nearest to me are the sixth graders, Gordon and Philip Carter (12 and 11). The third Carter boy is next to Kenny, and they are both in grade 2. Billy Boyes is next to Michael Carter, and Kenny Boyes has the bandaged finger (following his accident on the cable car); and the two girls (Laureen and Veronica Walby) are in Grade 2 and Kindergarten. They’ve gone on furlough now, so we just have 11 boys. (Barbara Nicholls also left for furlough with her family).
Interestingly Ione does not expand on school life here despite the main reason for setting up the Children’s home is to provide education for all the children. Each academic year, the headmaster of the school produced an end of year report called Palmares written in both French and Flemish. From the 1955-1956 edition, it is noted that John received a special prize for drawing, Ken, David and Kenny Boyes for application and Paul, Mike and Philip Carter for ‘Conduite’ (behaviour). Paul came 11th in his class with Bill Boyes in 18th place; Ken McMillan was 13th with Mike close at 15th. It is evident that Philip and Gordon struggled with the lack of French language as they are noted to have an overall score of less than 50% for their school work. Obviously, Ione had more on her mind at this point in time for her letters than the children’s achievements. Ione and Hector have evidently done a great job in supporting the children through their school work if 7 have come away with special prizes for excellence in their endeavors.
Mother, do you know any way that we could get decent soap for washing dishes our here, in large enough quantities and regularly? The water is not hard, but I thought if I had a detergent it would improve things. I wish you could give me some ideas on this, methods, etc. As yet we have no sinks but use big dishpans. But Hector and David Grant are trying desperately to complete our water system this week and I want to start out right when we have it more convenient. The well, when finally dug, produced too little, then the pump failed, and it has been discouraging, and we must have baths every day here. Give me some ideas about washing boys’ heads well, too. I do want to keep these children clean. For lack of clean well water, we’ve had to wash some clothes in the stream and they do not keep white that way. Do pray much about the sanitary conditions. For I believe the devil would trip us up on this if he could. Do write soon and help all you can in this matter. How I wish you could come and help. All for now. Lovingly, Ione X
This is the last letter from this address. As it turned out, Nasser’s Place is not to be the ‘sure dwellings’ which were foretold in Isaiah that day in May. It would have cost $14,000 to buy and the well was insufficient for the needs put upon it. The pump, despite renovation, failed causing no small degree of discouragement. For lack of clean well water some of the clothes were having to be washed in a nearby stream which would not leave them looking good for too long. The dishes were difficult to clean properly using the local soap as there was no detergent available to buy. Everyone at the home needed a bath every day and the school children’s heads were covered in dust by travelling back and forth every day on the school bus with its open windows and so had to be shampooed daily. Just keeping clean and sanitary was becoming a real problem. The facilities are just too basic and the lack of running water a burden too far. The McMillan’s and their entourage move one kilometer up the road.