Chapter 19 – A Year of Growth

 Chapter 19

A Year of Growth

The McMillan’s holiday to Katwa, in the Kivu region of the Congo, was to be a ‘working’ holiday in part. Stan Nicholls, the mission treasurer, was returning to Australia with his family for furlough; he agreed the McMillan’s could have the use of their car whilst they were away for the year but this meant driving them all up to Kampala from whence they would get a train to Nairobi and a plane home. This arrangement was convenient for all concerned because the Nicholls paid the expenses on the outward journey, so the McMillan’s only had to fund the return trip. It wasn’t as simple as it sounds, as the Hector and Ione had very little money at this time. But, as always, the Lord provided; Ione writes to her mother:

Just as we were trying to figure how we could afford it, a letter came telling of the Christmas gift from First Baptist. It was $100, more than it has ever been, and was earmarked ‘for the whole family’. Well, it was exactly enough, even to buying hostess gifts and Christmas gifts for the Ludwig and Slater children. The Lord always does the “exceeding abundantly above..”

The McMillans at Katwa on vacation to the Kivu region.

As with everything Ione engages with, this required meticulous planning. Besides the Nicholls family the Kerrigan’s and Jenkinson’s accompanied them as well. As the journey would take them near Katwa, it gave the family an opportunity to catch up with fellow American missionaries who were working at Katwa, the Ludwig’s. Ione’s association with the Ludwig’s went back a long way as they were all from the same church in the USA. They all set out from Stanleyville on 21st December as soon as school stopped and got to Katwa for Christmas Eve.  The Kivu region, being mountainous was much colder than Stanleyville so cardigans and coats were needed. The family kept to Ione’s target except for one little hiccup; Ione writes:

We kept right to schedule, except for one night which we had to spend in the car at the barrier between Congo and Uganda. (This was when the family travelled through the Albert National Park (now the Virunga Park) and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda (i.e. Rwindi Park).

Hector does not have two wives. He and Ione are on vacation with the Kerrigans (Mr Kerrigan must be taking the photo) to one of the parks the McMillans visited in December, 19, 1957.

We found the hotel filled up and couldn’t persuade the native guard to call the white man. He said it was after hours, and it was, but in the morning, when the white man saw that a family of eight had slept in the car in the wind-swept mountains (we used all the coats and sweaters that we had with us!) where wild animals roam, he dismissed the guard as he said he had not used common sense.

Having slept in the car, the family were able to make an early start; Ione writes:

we got a very early start and had only gone a few miles when we started seeing lots of animals, a big elephant lumbered across in front of us, and looked at us and then walked on leisurely; buffaloes in large herds stopped eating long enough to frown at us, gentle waterbucks wiggled their ears and tails. We also saw a wonderful herd of long horned cattle, so common in Uganda.

On their way home, the Macmillan’s managed another short stay with their friends at Katwa; Ione writes:

Verna Ludwig gave us fresh strawberries and many other treats, and so many plants and flowers that the car looked like a greenhouse. We bought little stools and other bits of basketry. The children enjoyed every bit of it.

They arrive back at Kilometer 8 on New Years’ day ready to start again:

And now we are starting a year of enlargement. One corner of the new building has cement floors and we have moved into that part with six of the children. It means ‘roughing it’ like we did at the Nasser place, for a little while, but we have the Home to come to for meals and a pleasant sitting room, and bathroom, so we don’t mind, and it does make more sleeping space. We have had $150 given, thru Mrs. Pudney, toward the washing machine, and some large gifts from Prairie Bible Institute have been a real help especially at the end of the year when we were feeling discouraged because “ends” were not “meeting”! Do praise the Lord with us. Mrs. Deconynk has sent us several gifts and a package of soap samples.

Ione was very grateful that Isabel Whitehead and stayed and maintained the home in her absence as the day they got back from their holiday, four car loads of visitors also landed.

The New Year brings fresh concerns about the family’s health; Kenny faints at school and gets taken to a doctor who observes he is mildly obese but reassures Ione that nothing else is remiss. Unfortunately, Hector suffers a bout of malaria and has to spend a few days in bed. Then Stephen has malaria and two other children get chicken pox. Ione attributes the malaria to having to sleep without mosquito nets for a couple of nights whilst they were away.

Leone Reed keeps packages of Sunday school material going to Ione in response to her request for help with these materials; Ione writes on 23rd January 1958:

The package with Sunday School work in it has arrived and we started last Sunday. It is Oct. to Dec., but we tho’t we would use it for Jan. to Mar. And as we are three weeks behind we used two lessons last Sunday and will use two this Sunday and thus be caught up. There are materials in my group (beginners) for only three and I have 4 (will be more by Sept., too!) but they are sharing. Isobel has grades 1 and 2, and she is lacking workbooks for them. I think there was just one in the Tommy lessons, and it would be nice have one for each of the six children she has. Hector takes the five older boys, grades 3 to secondary school (I should have given their ages, I guess, for grades here are different. For instance, 4th grade is like 5th back home!) Well, we have enough to carry on, and hope that we can do it properly. We meet Sunday afternoons as during the morning there are three other services, in French, English, and Bangala. And we all did attend all three services!

Ione also expresses concern as she has not heard from her mother since November; she writes:

May the Lord keep you, Mother, in every fresh trial, and make you a blessing to many. Lovingly, Ione

The McMillan boys – c 1958

On the 4th February 1958, Ione writes to her mother:

Timmy has his fourth birthday on Thursday. He is getting excited. Isobel has redressed his teddy bear and some other folks visiting us left a ball and truck to be given to him. His cake will be a ready mix that we received in a Christmas box. Timmy is quite manly and holds the car door open for me, and talks quite grown-up. Stevie is more babyish, tho he tries to sit and stand like a man. Stevie still has his sly-crooked grin which makes him a favourite. John is much like a greyhound in sleekness, size and speed. But his eyes are big and loving. David is perhaps the most affectionate of all and is getting bigger than Paul. Paul is still like a little boy tho he runs about with Kenneth’s crowd. I have been reading “Lassie Come Home” to them on afternoons when they don’t have to go to school and those big boys have loved it. I rest out in their dormitory those afternoons to get to be with them. The six smallest ones get a story after they are tucked under their mosquito nets each night. Last night they said the two wolves and the troll made them dream bad dreams!! The stories were Little Red Riding Hood, Three Pigs, and Billy Goat’s Gruff.

It’s at the ends of letters that Ione’s worries and concerns for her mother are seen:

I would like to hear more about your work and friends there. What did you do at Christmas and on your birthday?

Lovingly, Ione

Paul takes the opportunity to add to a letter to his Grandma:

P.S. Dear Grandma,

I am collecting stamps. Can you send me some? We are enjoying the Sunday School lessons. Thanks, Paul

Ione finally hears from her mother mid-February; it would seem that Leone has experienced testing times for Ione writes:

I am asking the Lord to supply your physical needs, and also to meet the loneliness, in whatever way He sees best. I’m sorry you have lost your job. But the fact that you had nothing to do with it, makes me think that it is the Lord who closed this door, as he sometimes does, in order to open another, which will be better. I wish I were there to comfort you and to help in some way.

It’s in this letter that Ione shares that there are ups and downs in her life too:

We are at a turning point in our big experiment here. It could mean failure or success depending on how far we want to go with the Lord. But having “launched out into the deep”, we will not turn back. But each new move is disarming and sometimes frightening, as we see the extent of influence it will make. We have had hard financial testing’s and have decided that for us it is wrong to incur any kind of a debt. The Lord bro’t us thru a severe testing at the end of the year, and a wonderful gift from PBI paid it all off. But, with our mistakes behind us, they are ever before us, too, and we shall not be tempted again. It has been after this issue was faced that the Lord moved in a special way in sending the first designated gift for the new building, and an architect to draw up a plan superior to the old one. Praise the Lord with us, that He lets us stay on in such a responsible position, with so much money to handle; I have four books to keep and I don’t know how many Hector has, and the treasurer looks at them every few weeks. We live like in a glass house, yet have wonderful times with the Lord, and with our children, and wouldn’t trade places with anyone!

In a letter to friends and supporters on 9th April 1958, Ione reports on the progress made so far with their work:

If you have been wondering if the big shed has been turned into a missionary children’s dormitory, you wouldn’t be sure right now, if you could see it. It is taking shape, thru the work of many consecrated hands! Our nearby station of Banjwadi, sent to us about twenty workmen and Bible Institute students, on holiday, and they are all over the place. Some are working on a new well, some on a septic tank, digging ditches, laying pipes, cement block walls, plastering, or cutting long grass around the place. It is good to hear them singing hymns or responding cheerfully to Hector’s suggestions. Five women are preparing their food, and some little children are running about.

Some of the Children’s Home kids in the KM 8 driveway dressed for a special event at their Stanleyville school. In the background one can see the weaver bird’s palm tree on the left and the roof of the ‘hangar’ on the right.

The missionary children are on holiday and we are working hard, inside and out, to have a better place ready for them when they come back next week. The inside of the Home is getting some attention, too, for a new ceiling is going into one room and the front porch; also some whitewash on the walls. This job is being done by one of the missionaries from another station, Laurel McCallum, who is in Stanleyville to receive her baggage. (Laurel is a ‘dandy Australian missionary, spending a little ‘holiday’ here’ who besides waiting for luggage is expecting a friend from Canada to arrive.)

We expect sixteen children this term, ages 4 to 14. From the big children’s “student council”, down to the little ones cute sayings, it is an interesting work and in the last few moments of the day, when all is quiet, we like to talk over these things. And in the middle of the morning, after they are in school, Isobel and I stop for special prayer for the problems. Isobel Whitehead is the other missionary who is helping here full time.

David with the cat.

You would laugh to see David “staring” the cat out of the chair where it is not allowed. Instead of lifting the cat away, he just glares at it until the cat removes itself! Or you would be surprised, as I was, when Timmie stands before you singing, “Happy birthday to you”, with his hands behind him, and then presents you with – of all things – the butcher knife! You need eyes all around, but above all, you need eyes that look up.

Recently we had a letter from Hector’s Aunt Mabel, who always sends some helpful portions of Scripture, and this one was Romans 4:18 to 21 – “Abraham (vs.20) staggered not at the promise of God, through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God”.

So many things are staggering and I find myself with greater responsibilities than ever before, especially with older children to guide. But we are determined that no child of ours, or the others under our care, are going to be raised for the devil. There’ll be no black sheep. And the only way we can see them going on for God is to keep out of sight ourselves and not let any selfish affection for them interfere. We have given them to God, and now we are going to hold onto God for them, one by one. It is not easy. And He has not promised that there will be no trial of faith, but He has said, “Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go thru the fire”. We get to know God intelligently thru the Word, but experimentally by means of trial.

Thanks so much for all you are doing in our behalf! May the Lord richly bless you! Joyfully in Him, Ione, Hector & Boys

To reduce Ione’s work load, the Missions Field Council make a decision; Ione writes to her mother on 28th April

Did I tell you, Mother, that the Field Council made a rule that no visitors were to come to the Children’s Home while the school term was is session, except the parents of the children. A hotel in town has made a special rate to missionaries. We still have quite a few people in and out, but they most always come in between meals and when the children are in school. It was hard for me to write to missionaries of other missions and tell them of this ruling, but I felt it was of the Lord as I had the verse, “This also is from the Lord, who is wise in counsel and wonderful in working”. Isaiah. We are able to get ahead better with the building program. I’m sure you must have been praying about this.

Finances are looking better since Isobel joined our staff. Her allowance adds a good deal to our household accounts. The treasurer looks at our books the first of every month.

Another house boy accepted the Lord. He had been a Catholic. Two others are going on to serve the Lord and their daily lives show it. Also their wives. But one other is in jail and also his wife, for a fight with neighbours where they live in town, and for theft. Pray for Gangali and his wife Lezea. The missionary children are going on with Him. The big boys read their Bibles and are witnessing. Enclosed is Paul’s letter. Love, Ione

This letter is written from a doctor’s office and Ione omits to tell her mother why she is at the Doctor’s. Leone has to wait for a letter written on the 9th July 1958 for an explanation:

I’m sorry I did not tell you why I was there. Hector and I had taken five of the missionary children to see the doctor. Four of them were diagnosed as flu and the other received medicine for a bad cold. So many were getting fever that we began to think it was more than ordinary malaria, and it was, although no one was really very ill or with complications. I had several bouts with it, and I began to think there was something wrong with me, as I was so nauseated and ran a little temperature every day. But that has passed away, and I am fine again. It just took a while to get over the flu. I really feel better and more able to cope with the job than last year at this time. We did not have any guests except parents until school was out, and since then it has not been very hard. Just now we have our newest mission doctor and his wife and small child. The wife is not well.

We met Joseph Dansis, the mulatto boy (now a man!) who used to live with us before I was sick at Bongondza. He stayed last night and went on to Mabel Wenger’s today. He is one of the three mulatto children Mabel has raised. He has his teacher’s certificate now and is a sweet Christian young man. We will have Mabel and the other mulatto girls, plus Joe, next week. They are going to do some gardening and landscaping for us. We have ordered a lot of fruit trees (free from the gov’t) and grass, and want someone who knows how to put them in. We have 15 beds made up already for a number of people stopping here after a field council now in session at Banjwadi. The Carter family will stop before going for a vacation trip with the Burks; The Walbys will stop on their way for a month trek. The Carter family will stay until their plane goes the 11th. We have done a lot of meeting of boats and planes, and are finding this a real expense, when trips are made and the people don’t arrive. But the Lord knows about this and will give wisdom concerning our financial affairs.

KM 8 group photo at the Stanleyville Airport – c July 1958. Back Row (L-R): Margaret Hayes, Laurel McCullum, Ione McMillan, Jean Radden, Lois Carper, Del Carper, Hector McMillan Ken McMillan, Paul McMillan, David McMillan, Laureen Walby, Eileen Walby (w/Adrian), Isobel Whitehead John McMillan, Tim McMillan, Wilfred Walby, Steve McMillan, Marilyn Carper, Veronica Walby

We received the Sunday school material and are so thankful to have more copies. We are continuing Sunday school during the vacation; we still have some from the last set to finish up. Then we’ll start on what you sent when all of the children are here as there are enough copies. That will do us for Sept., Oct., Nov. We have some miscellaneous DVBS material that Lucille has sent which we can use if we finish what we’re doing before school starts. The books you sent were so welcome. I think all of the children who can read have read all of them. They are just ravenous to read interesting stories and it’s good to have something that will help them to love the Lord more. They have all enjoyed the Noah’s Ark book, too. These must have been a real expense to you and I want you to know how much we appreciate them. I told our children that after they had all read all of them they could choose which book they want their name in.

Tell the Chaplain thanks for the clipping. Your visits in the wards sound so interesting. I like to hear all about it. I am praying that you may have help in all you do there, and that He will keep you safe on the highway.

The mail is going, now, and I will only take time to enclose a picture of each child. Hope you like them! Love, Ione

The 1957 – 58 edition of Palmares, the Athenee Royal de Stanleyville annual school report written by the Headmaster makes interesting reading for the children gain an array of prizes and awards:

Stevie McMillan gets a prize for singing; Religious knowledge prizes go to Laureen and Veronica Walby, Hazel Parry, Ken Boyes, Mike Carter, Paul and David McMillan. John gets yet another prize for drawing as does Stephen Parry. The Sedec prize for application goes to Mike Carter who also gets a prize for maths. Paul McMillan and Mike Carter get prizes for being model students and Laureen for making the most progress in one year. Language prizes go to Billy Boyes, Paul and Ken McMillan.

In their individual classes, Veronica is ranked 3rd, Hazel 5th and Ken Boyes 24th; David is 16th in his year; Laureen 12th; Billy 4th and Paul 7th; Ken 5th and Mike 7th in their respective years, so good attainment by all especially when considering all classes are undertaken in a foreign language.

My mother was extremely proud that her daughter (Veronica) got given 100 lines to write. She had to write:

Je suis une bavarde – that is: I am a chatterbox! Quite an achievement for an English girl in a Belgian school.

The end of the scholastic year in June 1958 gives Ione opportunity to catch up with things that have slipped with the frenzy of caring for children, ensuring they get homework done, entertaining guests and parents collecting children and supporting Hector whilst he engages in building work. On 22nd July, 1958, Ione gets time to respond to Hector’s family and thank them for their faithful support and letters; she writes:

School finished the 21st of June, and Hector celebrated by shooting off a little sky rocket. The children were thrilled and called it a satellite. When the children, other than our own left, the guests began, and at present we have ten. (I remember being given the choice of either grapes or a sky rocket as a prize for achievement at school – I chose a rocket and proudly took it back to Bongondza and my father let it off as night time fell. It caused a real commotion as no one in that part of the Ituri forest had experienced anything like it.)

Some other guests arrived, and most have gone now. We had 24 for breakfast, served in two lots as Hector and 8 others came late from the train across the river. They were meeting Olive Rogers (a British missionary) who came back from furlough in England.

It was just a short time ago that a splendid letter came from Irene with local news and interesting bits about all of the family. And just today a birthday letter for Hector from Jean. Kenneth and Paul enjoyed the poems (original!) on their birthdays.

Even though her tempo has slowed down a bit, Ione has to resume her letter on 27th July:

I will try again! Paul is sitting beside me writing Donald Pierce, to thank him for the pictures he sent. The beautiful wedding pictures of Muriel and Jim are posted on our big board in the dining room. I wonder if I ever thanked you, Alice, for them. Also for the good letter written in March. Florence’s letter and new address were both interesting. In answer to Irene’s letter, we expect to take our furlough in July or August of ’60.

So far as news from my family, Mother has a job she likes in a large 5,000 patient hospital for elderly and crippled people. She is secretary to the Chaplain. She has access to a pipe organ and plays for a wheelchair choir as well as her office work. She does a lot of visitation, too, in the wards, She has a new car and drives thru all sorts of Chicago traffic. I am amazed that she has learned to drive at her age! My sister Lucille and her husband have a new pastorate in Pawpaw, Michigan. Lucille is probably in the hospital just now in Ypsilanti, having an operation. Her oldest daughter expects to come to Africa this year as a missionary. Marcellyn expects another baby next month; this will be six children in three years, which of course beats my record! But her husband had three already when they were married. They are doing a good work in Dominican Republic.

We continue to enjoy the Lord’s rich blessings. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly”. Psa. 84:11

Joyfully in Him, (Hector and) Ione

If Ione was expecting a break during the school holidays, it wasn’t to be the reality. On 10th September, she writes to friends and supporters at Westwood Baptist church:

While the children are in school I have more time for letters. All summer it was difficult as we had not only our 6 children, but altogether 114 house guests. (the embargo on house guests seems to have been lifted for the school holidays and everyone has capitalised on this.) We had DVBS (Daily Vocational Bible Study) part of the time and finished some Sunday school workbooks which were sent to us. If you every have any unused workbooks or things to cut out or colour will you send them up for us? If you can’t send them, we can get them when we come home in 1960.

Now school has begun and we are more or less on schedule. There are 16 children here, and as fast as we can increase our sleeping space and staff there will be more. Other missions are wishing to send their children and we want to be able to have them. Pray for Hector as he lays cement blocks for rooms and puts down cement and bathroom fixtures. (It transpires that the work Hector started earlier in the year was without formal approval from the Field Mission, however, it was all made official in July.) Also pray that another missionary couple will be free to come and help.

In a letter to her mother five days later, it appears Ione, Hector and family manage to get a break to return to Bongondza. They had left behind certain belongings, while some had perished it appears that some treasured items remained intact. Ione gets special pleasure from listening to records:

My how thrilled I was when I played (after five years) the records which we just now received again from Bongondza: “In My Heart There Rings a Melody,” “He Came to Me One Day”, “The Stranger of Galilee”.

Ione shares news about her health and the bouts of ‘flu she has experienced over the last few months. Ione was perplexed by the cyclical nature of her illness, until someone pointed out that she may well be experiencing the onset of menopause. Hector and the children made her birthday celebrations special and gave her a toy okapi:

Hector and the children bought me a little velvet stuffed okapi. It is a rare animal which is only found in the Congo. You will see it when we come home, something between a giraffe and a zebra. (See photo above of the actual item Ione saved. It was eventually given to John McMillan and is one of his cherished possessions.)

The request made to her supporters for Sunday school material was reiterated to the family and its no surprise that Ione’s letter contains news of materials received:

We have started using the Scripture Press S.S. material with the children and certainly do enjoy them. I only hope the next set will reach us in time to continue right on when these finish in December. And thanks so much, Mother, for the Christian Readers Club membership. We have been receiving some very fine books and tracts. We are looking forward to that box.

Not only do the children leave Kilometre 8 and return to their parents and the mission stations on which they live, but Isabel also goes and Ione is thrilled to see her return a day ahead of the children. It transpires that missionaries aligned to other societies than the UFM would like to end their children to Kilometre 8 under the care of Hector and Ione, unfortunately the building work has not been completed and Ione and the children’s committee advises then to hold off for a while longer. In this letter, Ione commiserates with her mother about her need to buy things on an instalment plan. Her own experience has led her to believe that if at all possible, being in debt is not the right way to go. She writes:

How I do pray, Mother that all of your obligations may be met and that you will never again have to pay for anything on the instalment plan. I’m sure that is a greater burden than anything else in your life. I was reading some of the old letters we bro’t back from Bongondza and it reminded me of the debts I used to have. I don’t believe the Lord ever meant for us to have that sort of burden.

With a new term, Hector resumes work on the ‘hanger’, turning it into a dormitory, Ione writes to the family in Canada on the 68th October:

All are keeping quite well. Hector is not getting any thinner, though he is doing work which takes a lot of strength and energy.

The McMillans at KM 8 – c 1958

The centre of the big building looks pretty much like a workshop yet, but the right-hand side one would recognize as a dormitory, though perhaps only from the fact that beds are there! Hector and I have a room between the two finished (??) dormitory rooms and by having walls on either side that fold back we can give necessary supervision at times of getting up, studying, and going to bed. The folding walls are also convenient for cleaning and for more air when it is excessively hot.

Hector is an inventive builder, the ‘round house’ he built at Bongondza for Verna Schade is talked about by the travelling British Home Mission Secretary and the Macmillan’s get a letter from a mission in Haiti asking Hector to share his knowledge. In this letter Ione describes an outing they undertake with all the children:

Yesterday we took the children after Sunday school in the afternoon to a chicken farm near here. In order to take them all we had to let some walk part way, but since it was too far to walk, Hector shuttled with the Jeep and picked them up before they were too tired. After leaving the farm, we went on some distance and had a “paper sack” supper. The children carried the drinking water bottles which they usually take when going to school or on any trip. The last stage of the journey was made with all in or on the Jeep (20!), very slowly of course, with the back down and four big boys sitting with their feet hanging out the back. Perhaps you can form a picture in your mind. Isobel and I were a bit squashed, and when we arrived I said to Isobel, “Was this any easier than getting them to wash the dishes?!” They get the meal and wash the dishes Sunday night as the cook has that time off. (I don’t remember getting supper and washing up as a chore but I do recall being involved. Usually, the older children took it in turns to monitor quality of washing up, I was indignant when Gordon Carter took me to task for not wiping the dishes properly, but revenge was sweet when I poured water over a stack of dishes he had wiped dry. It was a private battle, one Ione missed!)

Birthday parcels (like Christmas) never arrive in time for the vent but seem to arrive in a timely manner; Ione writes to her mother on 14th October:

Just after I sent your last letter the first package came. That was Sept. 18th, with the cotton kimonos, dresses, books and 3 boxes of candy. Then on the 20th the other one came with the other box of Sky-Pep’s, more dresses, slips, ties, and the luscious Yardley’s. Thank you so much for remembering my birthday! The candy arrived in very good condition, as did everything else. We have given the children a roll each for two weeks and then single ones and I’m afraid I have had more than my share for I know where I keep them. And just now there is only one package left. I guess we’ll offer that as a prize! We have never had anything more delicious, and we have certainly enjoyed this treat. Thank you so much.

Ione saves parts of the packages so that she has a stock of things she can use on the boy’s birthdays so they have something ‘on the day’:

The box of nuts I am saving for John’s birthday which is coming Saturday. We have a confetti angel cake mix to make, and some rolls of life savers to decorate.

On the mission station, everything is shared:

Will you also thank Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Thornberg for the dresses, and tell them if you see them, that four of them fitted me exactly! Two were the right size for Isobel, and also a slip and a nightgown. They were very welcome, as I have no more new dresses to pull out of the trunk. I was wishing for a white dress to wear for formal occasions at the school, programs, etc., as all of the children are in white (with badges on their pockets) and while we were at Bongondza, the new doctor’s wife gave me just the thing which she could not wear. I had not a hat as I had given the one I travelled in to Mrs. Walby for her furlough trip, and a German lady in town passed on to me a pretty wide-brimmed straw. I have had three dresses given to me by Marge Boyes, two of them cut out and made up especially for me. People are so good and observe when we need things! Reinforcing the timeliness of the packages! It’s not just clothes that Ione is grateful for:

I want specially to mention our appreciation for the doctrine book for children. It is just what we were wanting for the children’s family worship, and Hector has read a chapter every day. I think there is only one chapter left. The children are so interested and love the question time. I see you sent an extra copy, which we would like to give to someone else. Do they sell books without covers cheaper, and do you think we could get an order of more Christian stories for the children to read themselves, like the Winky Series and Patty Lou? They just can’t get enough, and there are so many children now who can read. If we don’t fill their cravings for reading matter with this sort of thing they will seek it in the comic books which are available here now. I remember curling up with books – I was an avid reader. You are doing so much for us already I don’t like to mention anything, except as I know how much you have been used of the Lord in meeting our needs and others.

As the year ends, there are few mentions in Ione’s letters about Christmas, what the family did or what parcels were received. The family do get one trip out, Ione writes:

We took an overnight trip during the Christmas holidays to a place called Yangambi, an agricultural centre, where we could get replacements for fruit trees that had died, some flower plants, and grass. (They had planted 150 trees and shrubs earlier in the year).  Everything went well until we rounded the last bend between Stanleyville and our Home. Hector slowed down for a bad bridge and then a turn. Just on the turn the door opened and John fell out. He sat down on the gravel road and then fell forward so that he had gravel marks on his forehead, nose, chin, elbows and knees, but they weren’t deep. After cleaning him up at the house and putting on seven bandages, he felt better. He went to sleep, and when he wakened he felt like playing again. We are so thankful that Hector was not driving fast. And we will be more careful now about that door; we still don’t know whether it wasn’t shut tight or whether he bumped the handle.

It has been a busy year, and a taxing one especially physically, and Ione’s thoughts turn to her impending break in 1960. One more summer ……

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