Chapter 30 – Going Home?

Chapter 30

Going Home?

It is a reflective Ione at the start of 1971, the younger boys are back at school, she has had a trip to her favourite mission station, Bongondza, and is once again planning and arranging. Letters are sometimes about parcels, mindful that this much longed for gifts from home come at a price:

Dearest Mother,

The package came this morning and I want to thank you very much for all the nice things you tucked in with it. All things I can use. The boys left yesterday morning so I can’t give them their parcels yet, but will try to get them to them if there is a way. Everything was censored, even small things inside. It is always good to declare everything just right as it is. Lucille was advised by her postmistress to declare the blouse she sent to me (and wore and washed first) as only $1 as that is the price she would pay if she bought it at the goodwill store (she paid $5). But the customs authorities put beside it, “False Declaration”. I wonder how we can prove that a thing is used? Well, Lucille did right, but I think she maybe should have declared it for about half price.

From where I am sitting in my dining room, I can see out the kitchen window and on the next hill is a fast-growing village of identical grass-roofed houses, a new soldier camp. They can look right across to our airstrip and they have asked us to be notified of every time the plane comes and goes, which is at least once a week now with so many medical trips of the many doctors of the Nyankunde Medical Centre. They came last week asking for a ride to Djugu and the station leader, Carl Becker Junior, took them. I have asked Mr. Lee to make our fences higher and stronger around the cow pastures below where we live as so many small children climb through and steal, and I think the soldiers might be tempted, too. It may be that the Lord thinks Rethy needs a little stirring up, as there has been a complacency and lack of interest in prayer meetings, etc. (Ione has concerns, and is not as trusting as before.)
After our trip to Bongondza I decided that before I go on furlough, I should get my furniture to Bongondza for the folk there to use while I am not in Congo. I could take it there during the last vacation time before we go. I could get along without most of it for 3 months as I eat in the dorm dining-room. That would include my gas stove (bottle), sewing machine, dining-room set, living room chairs, 2 beds and some drums of dishes and linens and bedding.

I am wondering how you got along during this vacation time with four boys there. Was it too much for you? I had your letter telling of the trouble with your knee, and then David’s letter said when they telephoned you, they found that you were sick then. Steve and Tim are counting on finishing out here, but I told them that they must always keep in mind the possibility of my going home quickly and that they could finish the term, but would need to follow me home at the end of the term. (Maybe the growing army camp, but more likely, Ione’s concerns for her mother prompt this.)

Stephen got over his malaria but is thin. Tim is filling out some as he gets taller, he is not very fat. We did not get to write the letters last Sunday as more company came at noon (Ulrich family of 8) and then late at night the Pontier family of 7 plus an RVA boy, and from then on there were many people around all the time. We fed 11 or 12 each meal until the boys left. I am feeling fine. I have an extra little girl in my dorm for 2 weeks as Mrs. Ward, the lady I help with Choirs, has gone to Nyankunde for a hysterectomy.

I must close now and get started on the list for table seating in the dining room. I have also the room charts for dorm work; and charts for manners and behaviour and tidiness and dropping dishes, etc., and also a presentation (with pictures drawn by Paul Brown) of Emily Post’s book on how to eat at the table. It’s a little late to help my boys but they sure need it here. My dorm will get some redecorating this term a room at a time, and we will use the extra rooms for sleeping while a room at a time is done. Next vacation my boys want to try to climb Mount Ruwenzori and Mr. Crossman may be able to arrange it from the station where they now are at Oicha (Ken’s birthplace!). Can you tell me how John is fixed for money this term; and David and Paul?

Much love, Ione

This year, Ione tries to get birthday greetings to her mother that arrive for the day and not after the event; on 12th January, 1971, she writes:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

Maybe it will get to you in time this year. I heard there was a trip over the border in a couple of days as the parents of one of my little girls (Swiss) will go to meet two men from Switzerland coming out to see the work. (An opportunity to get a letter posted!)

I want you to know on your birthday that I love you, and appreciate so much all that you are doing. I have not heard yet how you made out over the vacation, but expect it was hard with the affairs of four boys to look after. I am wondering if you are feeling better since the boys (except Ken) left.

I wore the garment (just arrived this week) and love the other things with it. Thanks so much for everything. I’ll keep the packages for Tim & Steve until I can safely send them. We plan to stay here next vacation. Redecorating to do here, and a soccer field to work on (for the boys). Lovingly, Ione

In a letter sent on the 26th January 1971, it is evident that the political instability has repercussions for the receiving and sending of post, she writes:

They (the AIM missionaries Ione works for) decided here at Rethy even before the uprising in Uganda that a Congo address should be used – despite the unreliable nature of this), but the mail we got (with difficulty) this week may be the last for a while. It is all under the military law just now. I don’t know how the boys will come here next time, but there is a way of avoiding Uganda on their bus.

The missionaries here will try once a month for 8 months to get our mail at Arua, so hope to get Lucille’s package. that way. I did receive from her a pink blouse & a white one. Hastily, Love, Ione

Despite sending birthday greetings early, Ione rarely fails to write on her mothers’ birthday; on the 27th January:

Dearest Mother,

Happy Birthday! ! I am thinking about you today and trusting that the pain in your knees has stopped and that you will have a real good day. I love you and want you to have the best of good things. Is it 77 now, or 78 years?

I wrote you a note and sent it via Bunia, Congo. But this is an opportunity to send a letter all the way to Canada by hand, and then have it mailed, probably from Toronto. The Faulkner’s are having to go home as Mrs. Faulkner has cancer and where she already had a breast removed in ’68, so it can’t be operated again. She looks bad, but gets around and is cheerful. He has a heart condition, but it is her condition that takes them back home. They are here just now, staying with the Kline’s. They’ll leave after dinner for Bunia and get a plane from there to Kinshasa and then to Canada. They wanted to go via Uganda, but there is trouble there just now. I hope it is over by the time our boys come April 1st.

I am writing this specially to ask if it is possible to change the return address on the form letters you are doing. We have been asked by AIM to not use the Arua address anymore; they will continue to have ordinary packages come that way, like school supplies (and I would think Lucille’s party favours could go that way. But if she sends them airmail, they could come via Congo.) If you can ever send anything like that tinting shampoo I used to use, I surely need it. My hair is so yellow that they think I am a blond! And just now I can’t get a permanent so it is straight. The permanent I did get was no good. But it is good for my hair to not have it for a while, I guess, as it was so ropey. I just don’t look so nice, that’s all, but have it cut short enough to be neat.

If you want me to come home this summer, Mother, tell me in time so that I can let the Field Council know in May, when they meet.

Things are going OK here. I will try to get letters written to all of our supporters. I received a package from that new group with a pretty light turquoise bathrobe and 3 nightgowns of flannel and 2 pairs bedroom slippers and 2 pairs bed socks. They are nice, and I am already wearing one gown as the others had all worn out except that lovely pink one that I got in that shower at home. It must have been very expensive as it is outlasting them all. The thin pink ones you gave me are still OK too, as I wear them just when I go to a hot climate. I sleep in a flannel gown AND a bathrobe here and put a sweater around my shoulders when I get up.

I must go and check tables now. 11 extra guests besides the 64 we usually have. I just have to see whether they were set properly and napkins for the visitors. Last Sunday I had a demonstration of table manners and will give another one supper time this week. I hope this generation will do better than when my boys were here!  Much love,  Ione

Letter writing is time consuming; Ione tells Ken:

Today I tried getting up at 3 am instead of 4 to get more supporters thanked. I love to write letters but do not like the cold, hasty way which only thanks but puts no interest & life into it. And this takes time & a clear mind. I want the dew of heaven to be in my letters as well as my life.

We must use the Bunia Post Office now. But I am going to still send some letters to RVA boys that way until I am sure about how long the Congo way takes.

In letters to Ken, Ione keeps up a discussion on his studies and must discuss medical training with anyone associated to keep up to date with her information, she writes to Ken 28th January:

Allen Spees is here just now, going out from the medical centre (Nyankunde) with Doctor Ulrich until March. He had a long break between semesters (really the end of his sophomore year at Hahnemann’s) so came out as a vacation. But he is getting to see a lot of operations, etc. Yesterday 2 hysterectomies and a goitre, plus others. Allen is your age. He left here I think just a little ahead of you, or was he in the same class? He’s a real nice fellow, and I had a nice talk the other day while my titchies were at school. He is just enough ahead of you to be able to advise. He plans to come back as a medical missionary. He is going on with the Lord so far as I can tell. He was interested in what subjects you are taking now, so I got your letter & read about them. He said Embryology was not on the required list but any science subject helps. About your being diligent in these classes and the study involved, I will pray, and I need diligence, too.

On the 9th February 1971, Ione has a news flash for Ken:

It looks like UFM is pulling out of Congolese Protestant Churches. Asani says it is definitely wrong to continue.

Political unrest affects not only the churches, Ione writes:

Did Grandma get a new permanent yet? I surely need one, but have to wait until someone can go across the border (to collect packages from home which hopefully contain the things Ione needs). They think now that the border might be open. A Ugandan met some of our missionaries in Bunia and said the trouble is finished, under the new regime. Obote was ousted, but we had heard he would attempt to come back.

Did Paul & John decide yet about school for the fall? From what I see in the graduates, John Brown University does a good job. And the dorm supervisor here, Roscoe Lee, went to LeTourneau as well as Moody. But he said since he was at LeTourneau they have a lot more to offer in construction and you can get a degree in architectural engineering.

I appreciate your keeping up the station wagon. It must be a tremendous expense. But it will be wonderful for us all to travel together when I come home.

Doctor & Mrs. Kyle and Andrew went over into Uganda shopping just before the new government take over, and I heard yesterday they will try to come back Thursday or Friday. I don’t know how the message was transmitted, but through Kijabe, I guess. They often telephone Kampala & then talk on their transmitter to Congo.

I do pray that you will have the necessary mental discipline to cope with the demands of your difficult subjects. A verse which might help, “My sons, be not now negligent; for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him.” II Chron. 29:11

I love you very much. Mother

Finally, the longed-for packages from sister Lucille arrive with bad news about Hector’s sister; Ione, on 18th February, writes:

Did I tell you that I did receive the two packages that you sent? Very little duty. Thanks very much.

I was shocked to hear of the sudden death of Florence, the youngest! It must have been very hard on the family. How has Harvey been since? Is his heart OK? Will Joan try to take her mother’s place in the home?

I will be looking forward to receiving the girls’ party favours soon. I surely appreciate all the work you and the others did on them.

We have been having a very dry warm season. Everything is dried up, and water is so scarce that we are having to use the outside toilets and are cutting baths down to twice a week. There have been two times this week that the largest children have gone to help fight grass fires that endangered the mission houses as well as the pasture of the 160 cows. Then this week we found cracks ½ inch thick in our dorm, just after a small earth tremor. Two walls are cracked right through and the cement floor cracked right across one corner.

I am having to cut down on the boys’ (in US and Canada) allowances from $75 a month to $50. Our salary is less now and there is no other way to pay the social security each time and the tithe. I discovered that I have been using work funds and will have to make that up. So, Grandma and the boys can be sure of the boys’ allowance, plus the tithe of our combined allowances. Then I will need to interpret the statement before we can use more, as it might be work funds. $2000 of my total receipts this past year were work funds and I didn’t know it until last week. I had Mr. Snyder come here to help me learn how to do it. I can account for $1000 of it with building a garage here for dorm, my Kisangani trip, literature, the gift pig, paint for dorm, etc. But must be careful now to use it right. We get all the salary but must not use more!  Love, Ione

P.S. A lady gave me a bottle of silver hair rinse, but my hair is still straight!!

On the 5th March, Ione writes home, her mind is made up:

I have decided to come home when Steve graduates. His graduation date is July 25, but I would probably need to come back here after that and finalize our affairs here. That woman who is planning to come for one year will probably be able to take over. I am not sure whether it would be better to come via Congo or from Entebbe, Uganda. If Ken gets that research job, would he be free to help at home some outside of the 8 hours a day that he would be occupied with  the Biology teacher? Could you manage at home if he is away that much, Mother? When the other boys are out of school they can help, too, and should plan on their work for money so that they can take their turns in helping. Talk it over with them when they come for Easter vacation. I will sell the truck to pay up my obligations out here, if I can get a buyer. It is still in good condition. But I would not be able to move my furniture to Bongondza, as Mrs. Elder would need it for the year she is here. The UFM has approved my going home, but I have not yet notified AIM.

Marilyn Carper has been accepted for West Suburban. She says the medical school you have chosen as your first choice, Ken, is the very best one, according to her uncle with whom she is staying. That is North-western is it? I am going to pray that you will be accepted there. Then you can see the Moody and West Suburban kids often, in Chicago. And it is not too far from home.

So glad you had a nice time with Pearl Hiles. I am just sorry, Mother, that you have had so much pain. You should go to Doctor Zemmer, it is not Zimmerman – look up Zemmer. His name is Harry. I think he would take a real interest in you and see if the swelling in your knees is because of the kidney infection. The nurse here says it is. The poison has to go somewhere, so unless your feet are kept high up, it will run into your legs.

It’s OK to take out Ken’s full $75, as there should be enough for that. Let me know what is left as I do not have the statement here yet. Then I will need to use the work funds of that to pay gas and truck for a trip to Oicha April 12th and then entertain the Bob Latham’s for a few days.

Mother, I do not report the cheques I receive in envelopes. It is the amounts sent unmarked through the mission that get into the work funds; all the cheques I have received here I have used for personal and that was OK. And I can tithe from these. But now, I think I can count as work funds the trip to John’s graduation, and that will help to account for some of that $2000. I have already accounted for nearly $1000 of it in things I have spent for the dorm, etc. I am still behind around $300 at RVA and almost that at Rethy Academy, but if the truck is sold I should be able to clear that up. I may have to pay some on Tim’s way home as he is leaving before graduation, but I think UFM will pay Steve’s way and maybe Tim’s too, like they did John’s and David’s. There should be some money in the furlough fund to which I have been contributing to for 3 years at HQ. I will write to them about it.

Must close now and do that. There is a chance to get letters out if I am quick. I am not discouraged, as I know that the Lord never cuts you short on one thing unless He makes it up on another in the exceeding abundant fashion. I know He must have something very wonderful for me to do in the fall, and will supply our needs when the allowances stop. Some stop immediately on coming home. Others continue for 1-year furlough. We have a great God.

If the boys climb Ruwenzori, I will have 5 days and can try to get all my letters caught up then and have a good rest at Mrs. Crossmans at Oicha. I will not go on the climb. Mr. Crossman will go, and Mr. Becker, Principal of RA (an educational professor is required in order to get this trip free). But we have to buy a blanket for each porter and provide the porter’s food as well as the boys. Mr. C. is getting all in readiness; it takes 3 days to go up and 2 to come down. The mountain is right near Oicha.

All for now. I am keeping well, and feel full of pep. I have the stuff for a new permanent and will get it in a few days when Mrs. Brown is free. I received some “Come Alive Gray (Silver Diamond shade) temporary colour rinse by Clairol, and after two times my hair has lost its yellowness. I will use it once more today. Then it has to be washed out good before my permanent next week. I have enough of everything. It we get enough money I would appreciate your choosing a nice travel dress for me, and a hat. My light green coat is still good, but I need to shorten it. I don’t have my raincoat any more, the one we had dyed black; I gave it to an African as it wore out.  Much love,  Ione & Mother

In March 1971, Ione finally gets a letter out to all her supporters with a brief addition from each of the boys, giving a brief update of where they are at school. Ken writes:

All of my brothers are living in dormitories, but I have the privilege of living at our home with Grandmother Reed while attending Oakland University. I am the only one in a secular school, and I feel it is a God-ordained responsibility just to be there. In one more year I ought to be ready for medical school. It is very, very obvious that only by God’s daily guidance and His loving chastening can I throw popular rebellion to the winds, and “Prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).   In Him, Ken

Ione tries to formulate plans for her return to the States, she tells her mother on 14th March 1971:

I am trying to get us on a charter flight with A.I.M. missionaries as the rate is cheaper. But it also may mean that we might not be able to give the exact time of arrival. But it is the quickest as it leaves, I think the next day after graduation (July 26 or 27). If the Loyals want to help on the trip home they could deposit their money in the bank and I could write a cheque for the tickets.

Had a letter from Marcellyn, written Feb. 16th. She says Larry will be in the States in May & June and will attend Kathy’s graduation.

Drums are beating real hard nearby; it’s a dance in a heathen village. It scares two of my little girls & I just prayed with one of them. Another scary thing: the big cracks are increasing in the end of my dorm. They started when we had a slight earth tremor (we have several earthquakes each year), and it’s been dry & the building is brittle. Some cracks are 1-1/2” wide! But Mr. Lee knows about it & will fix it someway, he says.

I am feeling fine these days. Got a good permanent. The yellow is out of my hair now, after several times with a colour rinse. Hope you’re feeling better.  Love,  Ione

Occasionally now, Ione gets the opportunity to speak with her mother, however, warning of the event is needed and Ione writes on 1st April:

Day after tomorrow I will go to Nyankunde where they say I may talk to you over the short-wave radio. I am really looking forward to this, and hope it goes through O.K.

I am enclosing the work funds transfer which should be taken or sent to the bank. I will mention this when I talk to you.  I wrote a cheque for $35 for fluorescent lights in my dorm to Bob Cooch. And just now I have also written a cheque for $9 for a friend of Tim’s for motorcycle tyres. Tim had a birthday gift of $10 from Miss Kleinbauer and is using all but the tithe of it this way. This all should come out of this March allowance. –Ione

The beginning of April finds Ione at Oicha, having a well-earned rest and catching up with letter writing; she tells Lucille:

The boys are mountain climbing just now and I am waiting for them at Oicha, Ken’s birthplace. Twice today when the clouds lifted, we caught sight of the beautiful peaks covered with snow. Ruwenzori Mountains are about 50 kilometres from here.

Tomorrow I am going with Nina Smith (former friend from my Moody days) to Beni and see a paw paw factory where they dehydrate it for commercial use. I’ll also buy a bottle of grenadine syrup to use for drinks.

I was glad to hear of Doctor Clyne’s findings with regards to Mother’s physical condition. I had hoped to talk to her April 3 ( by short wave radio) but after trying for over an hour Doctor Wilke had to give up because the motor switch broke. I was glad that I got the indirect message given the week before to someone else that there was no urgent message for me, but that I was to come to Nyankunde for a 9 P.M. contact through Mr. Cogswell, I believe.

Glad Margaret and Walter could go to Jim and Sue’s. And that their baby is OK. Hope Vida’s little granddaughter is all right now. While I am here, I am helping to take care of pygmy twins whose mother died. They are extremely tiny and frail. Mrs. Crossman is keeping them right in her bedroom. The pygmies are all around here.

Had a good letter from Marcellyn in February. She says Larry will go to Kathy’s graduation and then pick up Margaret and Walter to go back in June to Dominica. I will probably not get to US until August, as this charter flight does not go by a hard and fast schedule and may take longer in London on the way. I don’t know. I will need to get the confirmation before I can make plans. I will not bring much with me unless there is something special that you or Mother want. There are nice banana fibre pictures for sale here. The whole picture made with tiny pieces of banana in all shades of brown. They are done on plywood with even the frames of banana fibre. They are about 12 x 24 inches. I might be able to carry them in my suitcase. I saw some small pieces of ivory in Bunia when we came through, like napkin rings, etc., but nothing especially nice.

As I think of coming home, I am reminded that our dedication is to the Lord and not to a task. When we go as far as we can for Him, we must not complain if He calls us back for a little while. I count the next step as another adventure for the Lord and do trust Him to guide in all that I am to do. I would like to go to the Spring Conference at People’s Church; and to the Spring Conference at Three Hills at Prairie Bible Institute. And we promised to go to Alaska in ’73. When are you going there?

I appreciate all you have been doing for the boys while I am out here. It would be nice if you could go to New Mexico and I hope it works out OK. May the Lord guide in this.   With love, Ione

To her mother on the 6th April 1971, Ione writes:

Today is the second day of our boys’ climb up Mount Ruwenzori. They left from here yesterday morning at 6 AM, a party of 10 including, – Mr. Carl Becker, Junior, his son Carl Robert, Mr. Crossman and Peter and David, Steve Brashler (son of AIM’s Field Leader), John Pinkerton and our 2. That makes 9, so I guess it’s not 10. The Pelletier boy did not go. They carried their own sleeping packs and dishes. 2 porters to carry their food, and lights and heating equipment. There are cabins at each station where they sleep nights. The mountain is over 16,000 ft where they are going, right up to a glacier. It is beautiful from here to see the snow-covered peaks (about 50 miles away). This is the place where Ken was born. Wish he were here to see it again. The station is kept up beautifully. The Becker’s are not here, but their house is here and they often come over from Nyankunde. Mrs. Becker told me when we left Nyankunde early Sunday morning (to be here in time for church) that she remembers the screen door that Hector fixed when Ken was born. “It still works,” she said.

I’m glad you had Pearl Hiles there. She is never any trouble. We had some good talks on our way east when she left. I may be travelling that same trip this year with Olive McCarten (one of the 3 who survived the Bafwasende massacres), as she has written asking if she might take her Dodge Van and keep company with us as she has not been that way before. She is going to meet a friend and bring her back to Congo. Crossmans will plan to go when we go, too. I will leave Rethy the day after school closes on July 23rd. RVA graduation is the 25th. The boys say our booking is the 27th or 28th, but I’ve had no confirmation and have paid nothing on it. I laughed at your exciting time with Pearl when you fell in the snow. Thanks for putting $10 tithe in the bank for me. I am going to write lots of letters now, as I have some time before the boys come down from the mountain. They climb up 3 days and down 2, so will be back on Friday. We’ll go back to Rethy Saturday. Next week we’ll get the Latham’s and bring them to Rethy. When we take them back there will be a short hunt at Aba. Love, Ione

After the Easter break, Ione gets back to find an invitation to go to Ireland on her way home to the States. Ever mindful of the pressures that her mother is under, Ione writes on the 28th April, seeking guidance:

What do you think about our taking a few days’ meetings in Ireland on our way home? Or are there too many things to do in August to get the boys ready for school? It would mean we would not get home until the 9th or 10th. But I don’t like to turn down the chance for meetings. Mr. McAllister’s letter came asking us for whenever we went home, but as it came just as I was writing for booking, I asked about a stop-over in England & Ireland. It is not finalized yet, so if you think we should come straight home we still can.

I am wondering what you & Ken are doing about arranging for jobs for John & Paul (and David?). David sent me $40 tithe money. I trust you got my letter saying to pay for the form letter from any money that comes above the basic amount for May. But you wouldn’t be able to get me a dress from that as it is probably work funds. As soon as I get my statement, I will let you know if there is any personal gift. I will use my small beige purse & and African basket & bag, beside my case. And will carry my typewriter. The boys will have to buy suitcases. I’ll mail a trunk with the things the boys want to take home as keep-sakes, etc. And leave a couple drums of bedding, etc. here. Safari stuff mostly, as the other will go to Bongondza. The truck is to be rented by the month to pay my debts & start a fund for a car when I return.  – Ione

Money is always an issue, included in this letter is some correspondence for John to attend to, he is requested to write a thank you for a monetary gift but as it is a year late, Ione uses the money on Steve, so John does not actually get it.

The summer jobs for John and Paul seem to be resolved; on 1st May, Ione again to her mother, writes:

Steve & Tim & I read with great interest the news of the Alaska proposition. It is O.K. with me if Paul and John go to Alaska this summer. (This would be working for their Aunt Doris in the family fishing business). I wondered why David would choose CoBeAc instead of Solid Rock Camp in Alaska & fishing, as Paul did, or did that not work out so well before? When Tim read about it, he was all for going home “right now”, finishing his classes at Emmanuel, and getting in on it. But Steve pointed out to him how strict the RVA principal was about staying until the end of the term and how he would probably have to take his whole 11th year over, if he left before school closes. Did you know that Tim sings bass in the RVA Choir? He doesn’t have to sing such “way out” music now as a “Group” has been chosen out of the choir for this and it leaves him & Steve out.

Now before I say anything more I want you to know that I will be thinking of you especially on MOTHER’S DAY, which is coming along soon. I am glad to have you for my Mother. And I want to tell you I appreciate what you have done, and are doing for me and the boys. Thanks so much. I hope the days ahead will give me opportunity to do more for you and prove that I really do love you.

Today the boys and I are participating in the wedding of Gaston, our house boy. He has paid 12 cows, a calf, some goats and about $25 in Zaires for his wife. She is a Christian and he says she is my size. So, I gave one of my dresses for her to wear. For a wedding present, an egg beater & 2 wall pictures. Gaston is starting a real Christian home. Tim will play the horn with some other boys (black & white) for the wedding at the church. And we will take our plates & eat with them. I’m waiting to hear whether it’s OK with you if we take meetings in British Isles on our way home.  Much love,  Ione

A day later, Ione has another idea for her cash strapped sons:

After writing the other letter I began to wonder if it might be possible for Ken to go to Alaska this time, as he missed it before. I am not sure about all he is doing at home, and how much he is needed there, and I don’t know whether it is the only time he can get that subject at the University. If David goes to CoBeAc and would be through July 31st, he would be home to meet us, etc. I know you will give wise advice and I don’t want them to lose their heads about it, and leave you with no help. Go ahead and do what is best, as you will probably not have time to write me again before the decisions are made. And mail is not delivered here regularly.

I will have no money to buy clothes for Tim & Steve for school in fall, but I may get some “rehabilitation” or “savings” that has been taken out each time at UFM. What I have here in these cheques I am making over to the boys so they can buy suitcases & Steve’s graduation needs. I will not have any chance for shopping as our proposed date for leaving Kenya is so close to the close of school here. I will get to RVA Saturday, July 24 at supper time, all day Sunday is graduation affairs so will have only Monday or Tuesday for Nairobi airport as they say plane goes the 27th. Hope to hear more about it soon. Is it OK with you if we take 1 weeks’ meetings with McAllisters in Ireland on way home (+ seeing martyrs’ relatives in England).  Love, Ione

It is one thing writing the standard letter for friends and supporters but it seems the real task is in stuffing envelopes and this year the onerous job has fallen to Ken; Ione, 15th May 1971 writes:

Dear Ken,

Did you finish all the envelopes of the form letters? That is surely a big job and I appreciate it. Were you able to take copies to the six supporting churches in the area? Is the bill paid yet? How did you come out? I have not had the May statement yet, so don’t know how much of it is work funds. Did Mrs. McLean of Finch come to sleep at our house? And I am wondering, too, if you took the medical exam yet.

John must be home by now, and I suppose, getting ready to go to Alaska. I’ll be hoping for more details. The Ben Morris’s are renting our car now and took it to Bunia, just got back last night. We may be getting mail this morning. They left off a gas bomb for our stove, but guess the mail was not sorted yet. Two ladies will be taking my dorm, Mrs. Jeanette Elder and Miss Sheila Burgess (29 years). I’m so glad that the Lord is my helper, as I live on the edge of failure most of the time. (A rare admission of how tough the life is for Ione!) And yet, what victory we have in Him! He is working out His purposes in us; and it will bring Him glory. Mr. McAllister wrote that the 1st week of August was not a good time for meetings, but he would like us to take a week of meetings with them, Tim to bring his horn, & play with Billie & David; I would sing with Alma & I am to speak about the rebellion. I must work on some messages, but so little time except in the night. Pray about this. God never lets it be too hard. It will be so nice to see you again. Don’t let Satan discourage you. “The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.” II Chron. 25:9.   With much love,   Mother

Much of the above is covered in a letter to her mother sent a day later:

I hope you had a nice Mother’s Day. It was the first Sunday of the term here and real busy, with many missionaries. Among all the Field Council and Rethy Academy Committee and Central Field Council were Doctor and Mrs. Alan Redpath, grandparents of Bruce & Carolyn Lindquist. I was glad to talk to them a little, and give them a copy of the good prayer letter. Thanks so much for doing it. It is written up in the Field Council minutes that Mrs. Jeanette Elder will be asked to take my dorm for 1 year, with the help of Miss Sheila Burgess, a new missionary just coming out. The dorm is getting a real over-hauling, cement work, paint everywhere and repairs. When they ‘do’ the big living room on Monday, I will have the devotions in my own living room. Even the pillows are getting refurbished, with washed or new covers, and aired & re-filled (kapok). Doctor & Mrs. Ulrich are on the station. Doctor is checking up on the children. Mrs. U. doing the pillows. They will help me tonight with Indoor Games.

I have no more news of our departure. Am waiting to hear from you if it is OK to take a week of mtgs. in Ireland en route, with McAllisters. I have had some indication that the Lord would have me take meetings in U.S. as before; but would like to take a course in writing. Do they offer it at the University there? I’ve had a sore throat and it went into my stomach with cramps, etc. But it is better. I’ve not missed anything. No days off just now; but only 14 kids. Love, Ione

By the end of May, Ione is able to write and confirm her travel details with her mother:

A letter received today confirms the departure Nairobi – London – July 27. I am asking for London – Detroit for August 10, as the meetings in Ireland finish Sunday 8th and you have to cross the Irish Sea over into England, so I think we need Monday 9th for that. Will give you arrival time as soon as I know. It’s going to cost $500 each just transport (not even hotels) on this charter flight, so I don’t see it’s much saving, but will try it, as our accommodations in London will be at UFM Headquarters. And the company will be good (all A.I.M. missionaries!).

This is a hard term, but it is fun looking forward to coming home. Thanks for the May 10 letter & cheque. I wrote the thanks to the group. Sent the cheque to Steve to use towards his $50 deposit at Moody. He is accepted for September. Glad to hear of your good meetings. Maybe if I help you more at home, your youth will be renewed like the eagles. I expect to see Jenkinson’s & Kerrigan’s in England. There might even be time for Scotland, too, and then a week of meetings with the McAllister family. Their two boys play horns with our Tim. Steve will just sing & look after luggage, I guess! He says he’s too old now for learning horn. Glad you had a nice Mother’s Day. Larry Brown is due here around June 17 so I should get my dress then! !  A lady is shortening my coat. Then I will need to send it to Kampala to be dry-cleaned. Also need to get a permanent from there. Last time I tried there were none. So my hair is quite straight again. But am keeping the colour better. The form letters were enough. I have given most out. People like them. I’ve had some letters from them.  Love, Ione

Ione seems to have a great deal on her mind, sorting out all her affairs before the trip home and as term draws to a close, she is tired. She shares this with Ken and John on 30th May:

Dear Ken & John,

Tim said in his letter this week that he had some trouble trying to mail the Auto Repair Manual. He was going to wait for orders from Ken before sending it. I think it was going to take all his precious dollars he had saved for the journey home! Tim has it there and if he doesn’t mail it, we will surely bring it.

John, do you want those heavy boots? I was going to put them in a small trunk which will have the cuckoo clock & your basketball trophy, etc.

Thanks, John, for wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. How did the Christian Service trip go? Glad you met lots of friends on it. I remember the two ladies you mentioned in your letter. Thanks for your encouragement. It is very hard just now – financially, as I must have all debts cleared before leaving for field. Physically, as the kids wear me out so fast. And just now I am watching over a sick child (3 a.m.) and have been up since 12:30. He is sleeping now though and I can go to bed if I like. But wanted to get letters written. But I have a good verse which assures me that the Lord will speak thru me in Ireland. Jeremiah 15:19- “Thou shalt stand before Me; and IF thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth.” I need discernment to see into people’s hearts & look past what they are wearing, long hair, etc.

The Cantata is the next big thing. We are working on, “The Sound of Singing,” by Peterson. 2 choirs. The little ones will also sing on the program (2 numbers). I enjoy this. If the Lord leads in my taking a university course, I might take a choir at church. But if there are lots of meetings I could not. Pray about this. I am also thinking I will be very lonely if I do not have any work among children. But the future is a big adventure for the Lord! I love you boys.   Mother

PS: Leaving Nairobi July 27. Leaving London for Detroit August 10. More details when I get them.

Ione’s tiredness is complicated with a spell of ill health, to her mother, she says:

I am able to think a little clearer today as I am feeling better, but still my head is stuffed up with sinus infection. The diarrhoea has stopped, after over a week of it. I am still on Tetracycline capsules, and this, after the third kind of medication, has finally given relief for everything but the stuffy cold in the head. And Doctor Wilke says I’ll probably have this the rest of my life! He is joking, but I do think the sinuses may give me trouble later. I was so weak, and even yesterday I had to take extra rest and the children made me more nervous than usual. But I have been relieved of recess care (10-10:25) and July 10th another couple will come here to live for the rest of the term and take over most of the work. The lady who will be taking my dorm is to arrive at Entebbe July 7, so she will probably be pretty well installed by the time I leave. There will be a house full of company at the last, but I will not have meals to provide, and I will not have to do much with the children.

I will need to make one trip to Djugu to sign the boys and me out of the country. I may also need to go to Bunia about the disposal of the truck. But Marshall Southard may be able to do that for me. The UFM folk out here feel it is best for me to sell it in Bunia for cash, and Mr. Southard will try to do this for me. I can pay up my debts then in cash and use some for travel expense if need be. But I hope that I will be able to leave some toward a small car later on if the Lord lets me come back. You can buy small cars in Congo and many of the single ladies have them and they are not hard to take care of (European or Japanese kind.)

I sure did like the form letter and the picture of Ken was especially good. Of the other boys, too. I was real satisfied with the letter and do appreciate so much the many days and long hours you and Ken put into it. I still can’t tell you when we will arrive. But I have asked to leave London August 19th, so it would be the 11th or 12th.

Oh, I received the dress just last night when Larry Brown arrived here. He had it folded in with his shirts and at first, I thought it was going to be as short as a shirt, then was happy to see it is just the right length and am real pleased with it. Mrs. Atkinson is looking for that whipped cream cloth in Bunia and wants to make me one more travel dress that washes easily. I have sent my light green coat to Kampala for dry cleaning. I have either beige or black or white shoes, a black or beige purse (but the black is really too worn out, so will use the beige and an African basket or shopping bag. I have beige gloves. No hat, but black net windbreaker and a rain bonnet.

A new little boy is coming to my dorm this week, so that he will get used to being away from home before September. I had not counted on this sort of thing just now, but once more I can draw from the Lord’s faithfulness and strength, as I realize He never lets it get too hard. My appetite is good, and I should soon gain back the pounds lost in this recent illness. May the Lord give you strength to get the boys off for Alaska. Urge them to never compromise on the Sunday fishing. Vicki and Larry will be there again, and are looking forward to being with the boys. I will be glad to hear of David’s final arrangements regarding camp. Just a few more weeks now. Big meetings in Ireland. One in the biggest Baptist church in Ulster; and a hall in the centre of Belfast. Much love,  Ione

Ione remains busy right up to departure, however, it does give her another opportunity to visit Bongondza; on 9th July, Ione says:

Dear Ken and Mother,

This is the day for the beginning of the UFM Conference at Bongondza, but as yet the road is not passable due to rains. They are going to wait one more day and see if the Bongondza truck gets through. It was due here last night but did not arrive. I am in Isobel Bray’s (name was Whitehead formerly) apartment; next apartment – Olive McCarten; then Snyders; then the house where Carpers live (all on a corner with a high wall around).

Snyders (Mr. and Mrs. and baby) and I left Bunia on Tuesday the 6th, slept at Emmanuel Mission, Lolwa, then, hearing that the Tschopo Bridge would be open only before 7 A.M. & after 3 P.M. for repairs, we decided to try to go all the way to Kisangani in one day (instead of sleeping at Boyulu enroute) so that we could go over the Tschopo River with Carpers, Harms & the ladies before 7 A.M. Well, this was not wise. Too long a day and the old Aungba truck (Bill is bringing their furniture to Banjwadi to use there after their furlough) had no choice in the matter but to keep going until at 1 A.M. the truck broke down 23 kilometres outside of Kisangani. Just at the turn-off for Wani Rukula. Not just an axle broken, but the whole rear end fell off, including 2 wheels on right back (2-ton Dodge). Nice clear moon light night. We roused some folk in an African village and they were very kind. One drunk man was too helpful, but did not stay with us after Bill left for Kisangani on a small bike belonging to one of his children. The villagers helped Mrs. Snyder and me to pull up a small tarpaulin into a sheltered “mafika” and we lay there to rest with the baby. An elderly man pulled up his mat and blanket and “guarded” us. At 3 A.M. we heard a car and it was a LandRover & Marshall Southard & Bill. We left a guard for the truck & took overnight things, arriving in Kisangani at 4:30 A.M. But it started raining then and the move to Kisangani was postponed a day & now this morning it was put off again. I had supper with Harms last evening at the apartment over the bookstore. Heard on radio that my departure from Nairobi is changed to July 30. But this will not change my arrival in States on August 10th. All missionaries are travelling in convoy to Conference, then back all together (bad roads) & trying to use only Land Rovers. Then convoy to Rethy again for those who go there. It’s worth the effort, though. God bless you.  Ione

By July 17th, Ione is able to recount how the conference went:

Well, the trip to the Bongondza Conference is finished. The Conference was wonderful, although the trip was awful – roads very bad. We came back yesterday in Bobbie McAllister’s LandRover which is just about worn out and had to push it part of the time. When I could no longer push, they let me steer! It was mostly battery failure, and rain made the roads especially bad.

But it was worth everything to see the Congolese Christians in action at their conference, deciding PEACEABLY the important issues of the church. There were 67 African delegates there from all stations, and 20 missionaries and children. I slept in the house where Hector & I last lived together, along with Isobel Bray. Every matter that came up in their meetings was checked with the Scriptures and discussed long and earnestly. The last session did not finish until 2 A.M.. The work here is really being blessed of the Lord. When we first came to Kisangani from Rethy, about 10 of the missionaries went together to the Kisangani cemetery and put a nice metal plaque on Hector’s grave. A cross with curly edges giving his name, date of birth & death. We had prayer there for the boys. Now in a few hours I will go to Boyulu, stay overnight & Sunday services in morning. Then to Lolwa, then Rethy for the finish of the school term. The border is open just now through Uganda. Pray that it will continue open & let us through July 23rd. May the Lord bless you and refresh you these hot summer days.   With love,  Ione

The 28th July sees Ione in Nairobi on her way home:

Dear Mother and Ken,

I am sitting in a hotel lobby looking after a shopping bag of souvenirs while Steve & Tim buy a few more. We have the Snyder girl with us as far as London, because she was not going to get back to her folks in Congo before they left for furlough from Bunia. Borders in Orientale Province & Uganda are closed & it means going via Oicha way & terrible roads. So, we’ll take care of her (10th grade) until London & hope her folks arrive there about the same time. I am feeling fine now.

Pray for meetings in Ireland, and for the boys that they will let the Lord use them there. Before we can “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” Romans 12:1, 2, we must present our bodies and that includes our ears, too, and what we listen to.

Much love,  Mother

The family’s arrival in Ireland is recorded by Steve, a card sent to his Aunt Lucille says:

We are in Ireland spending a week here with McAllisters, some missionary friends of ours. It has been raining and cold but it is very pretty here. We will be leaving in a couple days for US.  Love, Steve McMillan

Ione and the two youngest boys arrive back in the States on 10th August 1971. Although it is a year short of the ‘term’ Ione planned to be in Congo, it feels that it is most appropriate time for a trip home.

Ione summarises the last few months of 1971 in a standard letter to her supporters that she does not get written until February 1972, however, to continue the story, the contents are added here:

July 6 – I left my dormitory of small missionary children at Rethy, Congo in charge of capable parents, the Cal Williams, and attended the annual conference of the Unevangelized Fields Mission which was held at Bongondza July 10-16. It was wonderful to see my old station no longer abandoned and a fine medical and educational work going on. It made me long to go back and help to get the Bible school started again.

July 19 – I came back to Rethy for three days to meet the new lady, Mrs. Elder, who took my place. I needed to grade the children on their report cards for conduct, neatness and cooperation in the dormitory during the past term; and to assign room-mates for the coming term. I had my baggage ready, so left on July 22 with the Gerald Crossmans: but we couldn’t get across the border into Uganda near Rethy. So, we went to Oicha, 11-hour journey, spent the night at Crossman’s house, and then crossed the border near their station. From Uganda we went into Kenya and arrived at Rift Valley Academy, in time to see Stephen graduate from high school July 25.

August 1-10 – We were reunited in Pontiac, Michigan, with my Mother, Leone Reed, and my sons Ken and David. August 20 Paul and John came from Alaska with three huge frozen red salmon, edible trophies of their salmon fishing with my sister, Doris Schmidt and her husband. Five days altogether with the 6 boys, and then Paul left for LeTourneau College.

Early in September, David and Steve went off to Moody Bible Institute. John stayed home 3 months and worked, but left for LeTourneau on January 1st when Paul went back for his second semester. Tim has applied for Moody to enter next September after he graduates from high school. Ken will receive his B.A. degree from Oakland University in June, Lord willing. He hopes by next September to be either in medical school, or to be taking graduate medical studies. My sister, Marcellyn Dawson’s two grade-10 children are with us from Dominican Republic for this school year. It is nice to have a girl in this household of boys!

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the six boys and I visited McMillan relatives in Canada, and had a good meeting in Avonmore, Ontario. We expect to travel together again in the summer. Through visiting and meetings, we hope to reach every area where we have contacts. It is not easy, but our way to express gratefulness for your help and interest.

Jeremiah 15:19 was the verse the Lord gave me before I left Congo/ Zaire the last of July. It says, “If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My Mouth.” I am hoping to return to Zaire after a normal one-year furlough. And I trust while I’m in this country that I may take forth the precious from the vile and be as the Lord’s mouth.     In Him,   Ione

And so it is to be ‘Adieu’ rather than ‘Au Revoir’/ goodbye!

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