Bongondza: The Long Distance Courtship (1943)
Ione first letters in January 1943 are to the family. Ione has heard from Marcellyn that contrary to Ione’s advice to Doris in October 1942, Doris has moved to California and married the young man called Lloyd on the 7th November. The only family member present from Doris’ family is her Grandpa. This news upsets Ione, who has learnt to take time to get to know a man before committing herself to him; it also hurts that Ione hears of the wedding from someone else other than Doris herself, but Ione takes a loving approach, there are few recriminations, just gentle positive advice. Ione writes to Doris:
Dearest Little Sister,
My last letter said, “Happy Birthday Dearie”- and this one shall say,
Of course, I was surprised to receive Marcellyn’s letter last night telling about it. I felt awfully blue for a while for I had not met Lloyd and wondered if it was all right. But as I think about it, I am happy, for I trust that the Lord led you to just the right one. And I am glad to have a new brother. I want to know more about him, have some pictures, etc., and, by the way, do I get some clippings like you sent home? I’m so far off here and long so to know all about it. Your letter written last May told me something about Lloyd, a sort of introduction, so I do not feel that I am a stranger to him. I am praying for real happiness throughout the lives of you both.
Ione takes the sting out of the letter once again describing her activities and life in the forest:
“I have been walking on air these past weeks for I have been taking meetings all by myself in Bangala. It is not hard after all, and such a thrill. I have been waiting for this almost a year, now. The language comes so readily that I find myself switching to it often instead of English or French. My meetings are mostly with the women as yet, but I hope to soon be able to teach the boys and girls and go trekking thru the forest. (This is what Ione had envisaged she would be doing a lot more of when she came to the Belgian Congo). We have four houseboys now in the house where Pearl and I live; it is quite a task to keep them all out of mischief while working thru the day at the Doctor’s house taking care of Mrs Westcott and the kiddies. Then there are the many boys to manage at Doctor’s house. Amisa is the cook, but he’s light fingered, has been in block (jail) twice; Longa is the short washjack, who can never hurry; Majuani is the lank old gardener, who wears barkcloth trousers (if you could call them such!); he makes them by skinning the trees; and Boweeto is the pigmy yard boy, who is actually a Pigmy and has a very low mentality, rather giggly and silly.
I had an interesting experience this week: a slight sound wakened me at midnight. It was as though a small book had dropped on the floor. I reached for my flashlight which is always by my side. I flashed the light under the table – nothing there; under the bookcase – nothing there; then as the beam swept around to the side of my bed again, it reflected the glare of two beady eyes from under my bed! My skin got all prickly as I saw the slender body of a three-foot snake curling around the leg of the bed. I knew I must kill it, and right away! But the knife was in the next room, and I had to put my bedroom slippers on to step on the floor. So I reached over gingerly with one hand and snatched up one slipper at a time, and then, lest the snake should be coming out the side of the bed, I hopped as far as I could and then ran for the big machete, or knife. When I came back it was starting up the wall and I made a slash – and missed it – of course, I would! It turned and came toward me, and then I did some fast work and whack, whack, whack, I had to get it some time, and did, for I cut it in two. By this time Pearl was awake and was rubbing her eyes to see better. After subduing both halves by pounding it, I sat back and grinned at Pearl. I guess she thought she was having a nightmare – and I guess it was all right!
This is the third snake we’ve killed in the house. I think it’s because there’s so much shrubbery and forest around. We’re having it cut back more now. Hope we don’t have any more for awhile. We find them closer to us every time. Maybe next time one will get sociable and crawl under the covers!! But don’t lose any sleep over this, for you know that we couldn’t be any safer than we are here, for the Lord brought us here. And He will keep us, too.”
Ione describes her Christmas and hopes Doris had an equally enjoyable time and then ends the letter thus:
I just drew a promise for you – “I will cause them to know Mine hand and My might.” Jer. 16:21. I trust that from day to day, as you are working there, you will continually know the power of His might. When Mother told me you had gone to California I asked the Lord to give me a promise that would assure me that you were safe and protected from all harm and danger. This is the promise – “With Me, thou (she) shall be in safeguard.” Very good, isn’t it? I shall be claiming it daily for you. These are truly perilous times. The way is not extremely far from us, as is your case, but no matter what may come, we can trust Him for protection.
Now, please write to me soon, by Airmail – your last letter took so long in coming. And I am thirsty for news – as you may know. I wish you could see me now. My permanent is all grown out and perspiration takes away what curl the curlers make. But I just twist it up in a kerchief like you used to – in a roll with a bow at the top, and it is about the coolest way. But I am getting grey hairs and getting all out of shape. (be it ever so humble, there’s no shape like your own) I’m afraid I’ll never be the same again. However, we’ll see what transformations can take place when I hit New York again!
I haven’t been able to find Pittsburgh, Cal., on the map. Perhaps you could tell me where it is. I’ve looked all around Hollywood and everywhere. Did I just miss it, or is it a little place?
Here’s a story, in closing, that Lloyd might be interested in. ‘A Movie actor wearing thick-lensed glasses was examined by the draft board and rated fit for service. “But my eyes are very bad,” he demurred. “Yeah!” said the medical examiner. “Listen, brother, I’ve passed a stone-blind man as 1-A” “Stone-blind? And he’s in the army?” “No,” said the medico. “Had to turn him down. His seeing Eye dog had flat feet.” (Demonstrating her humour is not too dissimilar from Hector’s).
Now, take good care of yourself and your new husband. Be assured I still love you and will be praying much for you.
Lovingly in Christ, Ione XXXXXXX
On the 24th January 1943, Ione write two letters, the first to her older sister Lucille which starts with:
“Let not your heart be troubled – “John 14:1
Doris’ marriage has caused some degree of consternation amongst the Reed family and Ione tries to remain positive and supportive from a distance, she has an inkling all was not well as she had not heard from Doris:
I have many questions to ask, but I have committed her and Lloyd to the Lord, and trust they will be guided aright. I am happy to have a new brother. I am so proud of Maurice (Lucille’s husband) and so glad he is in full-time Christian service. I do not want to be disappointed in Doris’ husband, and perhaps I shall not. If he is a good man, and honourable, he will want to give his heart to the Lord. Then he will make a fine husband, too.
As Ione thanks her sister for the Christmas card sent, she confesses to not having sent any which reflects just how pressurised Ione was back in November. It is also evident in this letter that communication and transport has worsened as war progresses:
“Perhaps you read of the recent loss of missionaries and children between here and there. In fact, we believe our own boat went down, read the account recently, and the Captain was the same, and other factors.”
The transport problems cause issues for the Westcott’s who have started packing for a flight home.
In Lucille’s letter, Ione elaborates on services she has been involved with:
“The highlight of recent weeks has been my taking Gospel services myself. It is such a thrill, and I find it not hard at all. The messages are already in my heart, the fire has been burning these many months and now the words come tumbling out. I can hardly speak without weeping, I have waited so long to tell them the Good News. This morning I spoke on the word, “Go”, and found that the 81 references to it in Acts were quite appropriate here. The group was a Christian group and it seemed to me they just must go and tell their friends and relatives. I want them to be conscious of the spiritual needs of those in China, too, as well as other countries – and America! I told them about John and Betty Stam. My hours are rather long at Doctor’s, but I find that I can take daily meetings at 6:30 A.M. ….
Tomorrow I expect to take Tony the Monkey down thru the native village and invite all women and children to the first 5 P.M. meeting. I know they’ll come if Tony invites them – they all just love him – he’s like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and there are scores of kiddies around. It will be possible as long as Ellen is well enough to take an interest and if the Westcott children can come along. But if Ellen is ill I will have to be with her. Pray much that these meetings will provide the way for many souls to be saved.”
Ione also tells Lucille about killing the snake and confesses that she found it quite ‘Thrilling’. Ione appears to have a close bond with Lucille, and is able to share some of her frustrations as she writes:
“I am anxious to hear from you again. You seem just to understand so many things that we face, the farness from home, and the great effort it takes to do the very smallest thing. One cannot compare values here with those at home, results, work accomplished, etc. The language is such a barrier, customs, trying to “think black”, etc. It seems so simple to do one’s work with so much help, but it’s another thing to get that ‘help’ to work! Then insects and wild animals are an obstacle, deterioration of everything you cherish. Fear becomes impossible, except in a sense of surprise at the next thing.”
She confides to Lucille that Hector has sent a cable to her as air mail letters are currently banned and whilst that allows some news to reach her, it does also cause consternation as she worries that all may not be well. She begs Lucille to give her some information on everyone, her mother, Marcellyn as well as her own news; perhaps this indicates how much Ione is feeling the physical distance between herself and the family and how inept she is feeling that she cannot influence things from such a distance. Feeling out of kilter with those at home is reflected in the opening paragraphs of a letter written to her mother on the same day:
Your most recent letter arrived Dec. 8th (written Nov. 9); then Marcellyn’s came Jan. 5th (written Dec. 1), giving me the sequel for which I had been waiting so long. So Doris is married! It is quite a shock to me, altho’ I do remember her saying she had been going with him for four months ‘way back in May last year. What I have been wondering, aside from the questions as to belief, is whether he is the type that will be good to her, and if he has a good background, etc. Perhaps you could tell me if you know. I want to know how to write to them. I am happy to have a new brother and would like so much to take a real interest in him. What could I say that will be a help?
Marcellyn did not say much about Mr Presnell. Is there something more that I should know? Did he return for the Dec. meetings and did you see him? His picture looks very nice. I am wondering about your health, Mother? Is it your gall-bladder again? And will you need to rest more and have fewer activities? I was surprised that you were trying to find some secular work, for I tho’t, with the decrease in rent and Marcellyn’s raise that it would not be necessary. If you need more, please tell me how much more a month and I will send it. I have been able to lay away a little this year. How is Marcellyn feeling? Her picture looks quite healthy, but with her busy schedule, I wonder if she is keeping well. Have you heard from Lucille lately? Did they come for Christmas this year?”
In her mother’s letter, Ione expands on the sinking of the Lashway, the ship they had sailed on a year earlier;
Just today we learned that a ship was sunk a few months ago. There were five little missionaries’ children on it, one was lost and the mother and father, leaving two of their children alone; the other two children were with their mother. The account spoke of the bravery of the children, singing hymns on the raft while they were floating until they were rescued. The Captain became crazy, it said with the heat, but we believe because he was a drinking man, and not a Christian. The article said he raved and ranted before he died, and after his body was thrown into the water the sharks followed close behind. We went thru that same water a year ago. How marvellously God spared us and brought us here.”
Ione’s joy at taking services surfaces again, and in more detail than the two previous letters written:
“My greatest joy is that now I can witness and conduct meetings. I have been having morning meetings for three weeks for women. This is only the beginning, but I have found that it is so easy! I can use my same messages with few exceptions. In fact, I have been following the same outlines and just jotting down the words that I am not yet familiar with. I make some mistakes, but Botiki’s wife, Maria, helps me when I say the wrong thing. You can’t imagine how strange it is, trying to think black, trying to understand their problems, which are ever so many more than ours. If a woman’s husband doesn’t beat her, he is not a real husband; she carries the huge loads of wood, cotton, plantain; he goes ahead, with a little knife or spear, looking noble, but doing little. She carries the baby, too. One dear little mother, Mokonza, wife of Mr Jenkinson’s carpenter, sent the station evangelist, Machini, for Pearl at 3 one morning. I went with her, and we helped Mokonza to the hospital. She walked down, and Pearl sent for Botiki and they delivered the baby, a chubby little girl. The mother comes regularly to have Pearl’s help in caring for the baby.”
Ione’s mother seems to get the shopping lists:
“Well, after being here one year I feel just about the same, except that I am in need of a little vacation just now. It is time for it and I expect to be free for a couple of weeks. I may go to Stanleyville for a few days and stay at the hotel. There are not many places one can go. Pearl has had her time free already, so I guess I will go alone. However, everything I do depends on what the Westcott’s do. I am in need of many things that cannot be obtained here. If it is not too much trouble could you arrange to send me some of my needs. If it is too hard, I can have Evie do it. There are so many things that I don’t have, and clothes are wearing out, dishes breaking, and many things that Pearl has I am using now but will not be able to if I am sent to Ekoko. At any rate, I will give you a suggestive list and any of these items will be a help. It is difficult to figure the cost now, so can you notify the church when you know and they will deduct it from my salary.
|5 yrds oilcloth, medium blue pattern or check||$2.00||Fountain pen||$3.00|
|Sponge rubber cushion||1.50||Pencils & tablets||.50|
|Large mirror for wall||2.00||Colored drawing paper & white||.50|
|Set of dishes for 6 – white dainty pattern||5.00||Crepe paper all colours||.50|
|Teapot and coffee pot – sturdy, but attractive||2.00||Blackboard paint||.50|
|6 yds seersucker, red & white check||2.00||Chalk||.25|
|Bias tape, 2 Copen blue, 2 red, double fold||.36||Oil paints & water colours||.75|
|6 yds blue percale||1.20||Crayons||.20|
|6 yds batiste or dimity||2.00||Colored pencils||.20|
|Nice white tablecloth & 12 napkins fair size||6.00||Needles||.20|
|Table scarves or doilies – rustic patterns||2.00||Razor blades, single edge||.20|
|Things to embroider & floss||2.00||Vitamin tablets||3.00|
|Rolling pin & breadboard||.75||Tintex, all shades||1.00|
|Fresh, pretty cotton dresses, prints & pastels #17||10.00||Horlicks tablets or powder||.50|
|Slips, panties, brassieres, #36 or 38 cotton||10.00||Pickles & olives||1.00|
|1 good girdle, long, with zipper – waist 29||5.00||Popcorn||1.00|
|White, brown, pastel Sox #10||2.00||Julienne potatoes||1.00|
|4 pr. brown or brown & white saddle oxfords, crepe or rubber soles 8AAAA||16.00||Chocolate peppermint patties, each piece wrapped many times or it will melt||1.00|
|1 pr. white sandals, pretty, with strong heels||5.00||Fruit cake||1.00|
|Shoe shine kit||1.00||_____|
|Shoe repair kit with shoe last||2.00||$114.61|
|Kotex, as much as you can send||1.00|
|Colored scarves for hair||.50|
|Odorono||.50||This is a rash list and comes to over $100, but some|
|Toothpowder or paste||1.50||items you may already have sent. Some of these will|
|Yardley’s anything||1.00||be a rare treat, if they arrive.|
|Song book or sheet music, books of any kind||2.00|
|Hair style pictures, calendars|
Ione’s duties with Ellen seem to have receded as Ellen gets little mention in the two letters above and Ione writes again to her mother on 27th January, a letter that takes her a few days to complete but is full of what Ione really wants to focus on as a missionary:
My tongue has been loosed and I can speak Bangala freely and best of all, I can tell the Good News so that they understand it. Even the little children seem to comprehend and words that I have only heard from time to time are mine now and I can unburden my heart in prayer publicly and it is such a relief. And the methods are the same, souls are won in the same manner as back home. Now all I lack is time, and even that does not stop me, for I have been able to have meetings mornings or night or talk any time of day in the daily routine.
It is great, winning souls. Jeremiah said the fire burned hotter on the inside than the fire of opposition on the outside, and he HAD to speak to relieve himself. Oh, that I could go, go, go, to all of them, all around and tell them. I shall; you wait and see! My wilderness experience has been good for me and it may not be ended yet for awhile, but it is doing something for me I know. I have learned what hard work means, what it means to be really tired, to have patience beyond all I tho’t I could endure, and to come out on top every time. But it’s just the Lord. He had this lesson yet for me. And then – real service for Him!
The Victorola is doing fine. The needles started to rust so I have put them in talcum. I will need some more needles soon if you thinks of it sometime. Both fine and coarse. And how I wish I had more records. But you will begin to think I do nothing but beg. Anything you buy, will you always please keep an account and let it come out of my salary, for I cannot buy much here and if I have it at all, it will need to come from the home end and be paid for there. It’s a strange life.
Well, I had a grand children’s meeting yesterday at 5 P.M. The Westcott kiddies went along and helped. Tony was the big feature. At first the village kiddies said he was a devil and was going to hell. They were afraid, but I told them he would sing hymns for them, so they followed along, and were so cute. They asked him questions as we went, one little girl, a Christian already, who attends Viola’s school, said: “Tony, you are a Christian, aren’t you?” I nodded his head. “You are on your way to heaven?” “Yes”. “You have come to teach the children about Jesus?” “Yes”. Then we come to the village next to the hospital (a group of about a dozen houses, all attached to one another), and there they put bricks in a circle. Tony sang, “Be Careful Little Eyes” “Osinziri bamisu”, and then “Oh, How I Love Jesus”, “Ngai alingi Yesu”. Then I taught them a new chorus which I made up from the little prayer song, “We all rise up together”, which finally ends in “We all kneel down together”, “Osemami sikomoko”, and they were very quiet while little Allietta prayed a long prayer (I had to suggest its close gently). Then we had the story of the little lost sheep, and Charlotte was that sheep, baa-ing plaintifully behind a tuft of sugar-cane. They all cheered when the good shepherd found her. Then when asked who was the Good Shepherd they agreed that it was Jesus. I prayed then and asked the Lord to save any little lost sheep there. Then Tony sang again and invited them to come again next Monday for three days a week. I’m looking forward so much to the next time.
Lovingly in Christ, Ione”
On the 31st of January 1943, Ione sends a cablegram to Hector obviously following the receipt of one from him telling her that he had passed his examinations; using a bible quotation to say how thrilled she is at his success, Ione writes:
“CABLE RECEIVED GRADUATION CONGRATULATIONS DANIEL NINE TWENTY TWO TWENTY THREE
KEEP LOOKING UP IONE”
The Bible quotation had to be explained at the post office in America as officials thought Ione was sending a secret code; fortunately, Hector persuaded them otherwise. It is as follows:
“He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:”
On the 14th February 1943, Ione writes to Mr Pudney; she and Pearl have celebrated their first year at Bongondza and her letter starts with this:
Last week we celebrated our first anniversary on the field. Viola spoke in church and at the close of her message I sang, “Speak, My Lord!” a new translation of Vee’s. I remember our first Sunday here, when the three of us sang the song, “His Love is Wonderful to Me”, in Bangala and we read our testimonies from a sheet of paper. I tho’t I would never be able to pray freely and give a testimony, but the time did come, and while Vee was away this past month I took all of her women’s meetings; also started a regular tri-weekly children’s meeting at the hospital. You should have seen the children there respond to Tony, the Monkey, the puppet which I used at the Home, you remember? ( Ione writes in a letter to Gen Burns a few days later about this same event saying that as she walked past the hospital ‘oodles of little naked kiddies’ were running round so she initiated the children’s meetings; adding that she was walking around like the pied piper of Hamlin). They called him at first, “Motu na Jabero” (man of the devil), and ran away, but one little girl, Allietta, a Christian, explained that he was a man of God and proceeded to ask the monkey questions in their presence. Was he a Christian? The monkey nodded. Was he on the road to Heaven? Again, yes. Was he a man of Satan? Decidedly, no. Did he do bad things? No. Were his sins washed away by Jesus? Yes. All this time we were walking along and collecting a crowd. By the time we came to the end of “Stump Street” or Hospital Row as it might be called more officially, we had a crowd. Then we had a meeting. I was thrilled to find that the methods of conducting a children’s meeting were much the same as in America.
However, there are few other aspects causing concern, Mrs Westcott remains her prime preoccupation and Ione writes:
“I have been very weary of late, but have been promised a two weeks vacation soon”
The likelihood of that occurring is remote. Besides Mrs Westcott, there are two missionaries from Ekoko: Mrs Ludwig and Mrs Faulkner waiting to give birth and the doctor has operated on his own daughter, Anne, who had appendicitis. Added to this, Pearl has had bronchial pneumonia with heart complications and is confined to bed. Ione recognises that she is fortunate not to have been ill herself:
“I have not been ill a day, and I do praise the Lord, for there are so many sick people to take care of. My heart’s desire is to be winning souls and there are some opportunities along with my other duties. But I am longing for the day when I shall be a real missionary. Won’t you pray that these present difficulties may be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks in the Lord’s service. I tho’t surely after a year of this it would be possible for me to enter into missionary activities.”
It also seems highly unlikely that the Westcott’s will return home in the spring as anticipated as the increased activity of the German U boats and their success has made sea travel untenable and air travel is also incredibly difficult. It would be possible to fly Mrs Westcott home but Ellen feels she cannot be separated from her family. There has been some debate regarding Mrs Ludwig accompanying Ellen, however, she too does not want to leave children behind. Hardly surprising that Ione writes:
“I cannot help being a bit discouraged about it all, but I’m also sure I’m in the Lord’s will, and He makes me happy.”
The decision not to fly is not ruled out entirely as seen from part of a letter Ione writes to her very dear friend and fellow singer when in the Trio, Genevieve Burns on 23rd February for her Birthday:
When I come home (and it MAY be soon! sh sh) I shall make a bee-line to you and just bask in all of the new stuff you can give me. All of the music I have is two years old now.
Speaking of coming home, there is a vague possibility of a plane journey with the Dr’s wife. She must get home (I wish I dared tell you her case!) (Which confirms that Ellen’s attempted suicides and poor mental health are not generally spoken about to others outside the intimate circle) and I may be the only one to bring her. She has terrible spells and needs further medical attention. It may be that another missionary’s wife will come, but she hates to leave her children. If I don’t come now, I will be coming at the end of three years, two more, the Lord willing. I am due for a vacation of some kind now, but don’t know when or how or where yet.”
The following paragraph reveals more of the ‘girlie’ side of Ione’s character:
“It’s been a hard year, tho’ I look pretty much the same, last year’s dresses you know, and the same hair only it’s straight and priggish looking. The permanents in Stanleyville are very bad, they say. How I wish someone would take pity on me and send me some hair and dress styles! Out here no one knows and no one cares, much, but I do. I still have one pair of Nylon hose. But I wear sox nearly all of the time. And cotton dresses the year around. I have a new order supposedly on its way from America and will get a new vision of what things look like at home when it arrives. It is fun, living in our mud house, having a funny, horse-teethed black boy fix one’s breakfast, sweep the floor, serving the native papaya (like melon) with lemon juice; some toast made from bread baked in an outdoor stone stove; oatmeal from a tin, perhaps an egg if the hen is in a generous mood. Meat comes once a week now by courier and is very welcome.”
And Ione reveals more about the state of her heart! George Kissinger has written to her every month but she has not replied; has given up his post at Norfolk School of the Bible, claiming he wants to be a missionary in Africa, not a prospect Ione relishes, she writes:
“I don’t know what to think about George. I don’t believe I love him well enough to marry him if he did get out.”
“Hector seems to have wound himself around my heart these days. He’s in military service, having graduated from a course in radio technique last month – sent me a cable. But he hopes to get out when he’s released. He’s a dear and so much fun. He said I was the apple of his eye and that seems to go a long way with me!”
On the 24th February, Hector can once again write to Ione and not rely on cablegrams. The cablegram from Ione arrived just before he sat his final exams and seems to have spurred him on to do well; however, all the class seemed to do well making their teachers proud. Hector is planning to visit Mrs Reed as he has some leave coming up and is looking forward to the visit:
“I’m really looking forward to meeting your mother; she must be a wonderful woman to have a daughter like you!!!!!”
He fantasises about things he may be able to do once in Africa:
“These days of training are proving of real value in a physical sense. I have seldom felt better than I do now. I can almost picture myself out in the Congo training the natives to fall into line; march on the incline; break into quick time; salute to the front and retire; form flight on the right; etc, etc. I enjoy it immensely, even though we do come in at the end of the day feeling a little weary. …..
It is great fun shining buttons and shoes. Likely you will have plenty of silverware etc. ready for me to work on when I get out to the field.”
And again he ends the letter, Lovingly, Hector.
The next letter from Hector is dated 9th March 1943, and he has finally made contact with Ione’s family:
“Well, finally it (the train) pulled into the big city and my heart was all trembling with joy and excitement. Your mother said she would try and meet me at the station. So when I alighted, I looked for someone who might fill the bill. I noticed an interesting young lady there but walked on over towards the station. When I turned around this same girl walked up and asked me if I were Hector McMillan. Receiving an affirmative answer, she said she was Ione’s sister, Of course her voice gave away the case. I hadn’t heard of her directly. I knew there was a younger sister and one older but of Marcellyn I was ignorant. How much I have been missing. She is almost as charming as her next oldest sister.
As we journeyed home on the bus she said it was like having Ione home again, and for my part it was just like visiting Ione.
And then I met your mother. Now I know why you are what you are. Words can’t express how happy my heart was to enjoy such rich fellowship in natural things and spiritual. The table was bountifully laden with all sorts of good things. But before we started we had reading and prayer. While we ate she told me how it originated and how finally you dad became interested once more in spiritual things. She said the verse that helped her start family worship was the one on faith cometh by hearing. She used to pray out in the kitchen that the Lord would strengthen her, especially when visitors were in. She even told one lady what to say when her turn for prayer came.
After supper Marcellyn and I talked and did the dishes in between times. What good laughs we had! Your mother said she has just grown up with her daughters; and she is still so youthful in spirit and appearance. I think it was about 10:30 when we put the last dish away.
The front room was the scene of a picture review. Someone brought down the pictures that they had shown at the farewell for you. Childhood with its usual cuteness; school days with their carefreeness; than the most interesting time in any girl’s life when boys fill the hours of sunset and twilight; then the section on consecration, with pictures of the trio. What an interesting life you have had! Of course Marcellyn had to supplement many details which were most enlightening. Thus the evening passed quickly away.
The next morning I had breakfast with your mother as Marcellyn had gone to work. I did up the breakfast dishes while your mother got ready to go to town.
That day is spent in Ione’s home town, visiting the church and meeting Dr Savage; the he visits Marcellyn at her place of work and helps with filing. After supper, they go to the church and Hector is allowed to say a few words. He meets the Missionary Committee and they offer to support him as well as Ione once he goes to the mission field. Hector leaves the next day for a posting in a town near Port Huron and Simcoe to undertake a short radio course.
On the 21st March 1943, Ione writes a newsletter intended for all who support her work as a missionary; she describes the rainy season and how a tornado came:
“the storm came, gathering leaves, limbs, followed by a driving rain, the kind one can scarcely stand under. After one tremendous twist of the wind, the side and roof of the (work)shop was wrenched and fell to the ground. The tribunal and post office at Kole also fell. (Kole is the Belgian administrative post nearest to the Bongondza; it is a small outpost with shops and government buildings). Our roof was pulled partly off the house. A few days past and Doctor cleared away the wreckage and started repairs. Then another storm came which tore away the entire front gable. I wish you could see a tornado such as we have had – a cone shaped spiral which carries everything straight up and away. I don’t see how the Doctor had the heart to start on it again, but today I saw him climbing to the top of the roof to see that it was getting on straight again. Perhaps this week another tornado will come; but he’ll begin again and keep on until it stays. It’s been that way with his water wheel, too”.
Ione has additional children to care for; besides the Westcott’s there are the Ludwig’s and Faulkner’s whose mothers are expecting to give birth soon:
“We use the big front porch for a school room and have tables three sizes. I am satisfied if the wee ones just sew a picture card or make flower designs on the cane seats of the chairs, but the older ones have readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic, as well as piano and handwork. Then they all have lessons in cooking at least once a week. Little Freddie and Marilee Ludwig, ages 3 and 4, as well as Charlotte Westcott, 5, can combine all the ingredients for muffins as well as put them into pans for baking. And how they love it! Bobbie is just as interested, tho he’s a boy and 9 (just had a birthday), and can make nice fudge and gingerbread men. There is a nice sand pile at the side of the house and lots and lots of clover lawn to play in. The children have charge of all the chickens, 3 goats, 2 rabbits, several ducks, 2 cats, and of late a tiny motherless chick named “Rubberneck”.”
She then adds:
“I must tell you about Fataki, the trained chimpanzee who visited us a short time ago. Miss Hiles and I were eating supper when a car drove in front of the door. A gentleman came to the door and spoke in English, introducing himself as Mr Putman. We invited him in and asked if there were others in the party, and he said, “Only my pet chimp.” “Well, have him in, too,” I said, rather jokingly. So he said, “Fataki!!” And in walked a huge black monkey with a long protruding chin and ugly teeth. He proceeded to the nearest chair and climbed onto it and sat down. After a bit of conversing we gave the man a cup of tea; and then the ape, leaving his chair went out into our dining room and explored, lifting various lids, until I served him some supper (on our best china!), and then bro’t in the teapot and he poured his own tea onto the cup, served himself sugar, stirred it and drank it. He ate with a fork also. Well, it was a surprise. All he could say was “Oomph, oomph” He wanted more sausage for breakfast & grabbed my hand & squeezed it until I gave them to him. It hurt for a long time.”
Ione adds that she does not get much time to work with the ‘natives’ however, she does attend early morning meetings, often having to round up people who are:
“brushing their teeth with the ends of long fibrous sticks, or braiding their funny, fuzzy pigtails. One little fat black naked boy follows me everywhere I go and is always there. I let him be the little black sheep when I told the story of the lost sheep.”
Three days later, 24th March 1943, in a letter to her sister Lucille, Ione expands on the subject of the morning meetings at the hospital:
“My morning meetings at the hospital are at 6:30 and sometimes there are over 100 there. Souls are being saved & they start in baptism training classes once a week. After about a year they are admitted to membership in the native church. One must be so careful here of backsliders and they really do backslide! Polygamy is so common. The headman & chief of villages have 20 or 30 wives. So it’s easy to break the rules of the church. The leading teacher here just had to be dismissed for seeking a second wife. It was a heartache for the missionaries who had trained him.”
In this letter, Ione thanks the family for their Christmas cards which arrived in March and packages from family and friends which included vitamin tablets. Ione also gives them a description of the tornado, the schooling she is doing with the missionary children, killing the snake and how helpful her glove puppet Tony was when talking to the children at the hospital, all of which appear in detail above.
She then adds:
This morning I heard strange chants and songs coming from the forest. There were no doubt people in there fishing or hunting but reminded me of the calls they say ‘little men’ give occasionally. Some people answer those calls and never return. An old woman near here disappeared and was gone three days and only after a most desperate search did they find her. She had not eaten and was nearly all worn out just trying to find those ‘little men’! She said they beat little drums and called to her and she had to go. Of course the Christians say this was foolish but even they ‘just wonder about it’ sometimes!
One of Dr’s nurses killed a wild pig two days ago and we are all having a feast. It looked much like our pigs in America only its mouth was much uglier and it had long pointed ears that curled on the ends. Its meat tasted very good, mostly dark, like beef.
Pearl and I have three hens and a rooster named Henry. We get several eggs a week now. Pearl has been coaxing the hens patiently. I wish we had more meat and other things. Won’t you pray for us? We are trying to get a garden planted again.”
Finally, Ione ends with questions about the family:
I have not heard from Mother since Doris was married and do not know how she felt. I rec’d Marcellyn’s letter of Dec. Have you heard from Doris? I want so badly to know about her.
Did you get over your sick spell? And how are the children and Maurice? Nearly half of my term is past and it doesn’t seem long until I shall see you again. I don’t think it will be necessary to accompany the W’s home, but one cannot tell yet. Arrangements are being made for some sort of plane passage in June or before. Pray for Mrs Westcott. She gets very discouraged at times.
Please write soon – and often. The Lord is good to give me such a nice family. I dreamed the other night you were helping me on with my wedding dress! Maybe it’ll come true someday.
Load of love, Ione XXXXX M.L.E.L.R. (Maurice, Lucille, Esther, Lawrence, and Ruth)
P.S. Just had a letter from Mother and one from Doris. Was so thrilled. When is yours coming?
On 27th March 1943; Ione responds to Hector’s letter of the 9th March; she is pleased he managed to fix her mother’s clock and wishes he were available to mend hers which is no longer keeping time well. The focus of this letter is the birth of the babies:
“(The) Ludwig’s have a little girl and Faulkner’s a boy – just four days apart. They are two weeks old now. Mrs Ludwig has been quite ill for six weeks and we have kept their other two all day. With the Westcott three, we have six children in all when little Mary Faulkner is there. You would be amused at our ‘school’ where we have it set up on the big front verandah. The older ones are really advancing in reading and piano but the little ones just play or sew pretty cards of arranged flowers. Once or twice a week they all bake something in the kitchen. That’s where the flour flies!”
Ione apologises for not writing sooner claiming that there has been increased sickness (mentioning no names) and the Doctor has been working long hours:
“I never seem to have a chance to have someone take care of me – I guess I’m just disgustingly healthy – but there’s been a variety of things I have found I could do for the sick. Wish I had gone to MMI. There’s only one more baby yet to come, but I think I will have a little vacation before Mrs Carter comes”
Mary and Jim Carter were missionaries based at the Boyulu station and were expecting their baby at the end of May, beginning of June. Mary and Jim had been working as missionaries in the Congo since 1935; they had arrived at Leopoldville separately (Mary arriving on 22nd November 1934 and Jim on the 11th December 1934) and had both completed a journey similar to Ione’s by boat to Stanleyville (Kisangani). Jim and Mary had met in England (Jim having travelled from Australia to complete formalities of missionary preparation) at a meeting in Keswick in July 1934 and had got engaged in October 1934 in England, after Jim had undertaken a course in Tropical Medicine in Belgium. In some ways their story is similar to Ione’s; and Ione knows that when Hector arrives in Congo they too, like Jim and Mary will work on different stations. Mary had started at Bongondza like Ione, whilst Jim worked at Boyulu. They were eventually married officially at Bafwasende; a Belgian Government post and had a church wedding at Boyulu on the 11th April 1936. Mary was first able to meet her Australian family in 1940 when the Carters had a furlough (a year’s holiday that include working to spread the news of their work in the Belgian Congo and muster financial support for their next term of office).
Again, in this letter from Ione, it is clear that what gives her most joy is the early morning meetings, she says she has lost all fear of speaking publicly; this in addition to caring for:
“the sick white peoples’ bodies and the training of little children. I do praise the Lord for sending me here. I do not know when I’ll get to Ekoko. Things look difficult for Westcott’s getting home.”
Ione realises that all plans for her are on hold for the time being.
Hector writes to Ione on 28th March 1943, it is what he calls a ‘hobby’ rather than a ‘task’:
“You have no idea the comfort it gives me to have someone so precious to think about, write to and pray for. It is like the quieting of a troubled sea. Continuing the theme; just a few days ago I came across the passage in Galatians 4 where the heir and servant are compared. The work of the servant is planned merely because the work has to be done. But the life of the heir is planned since he has a reputation to live up to; and some day will inherit a throne and responsibility. People of the world have a hit and miss existence. Some are fortunate in finding a worthy partner, but how many other lives are wrecked due to mismatches. We who are heirs of God through Christ have the daily assurance of His guiding hand. If we trust Him, we can be sure that He will not let us make a mistake. We are preserved unto a Heavenly Kingdom; and besides He chooses our inheritance for us. It has been a relief to me to realize that I do not have to flirt around until I find someone that suits my fancy. There is only one right one, and so I can rightly afford to be completely faithful to her; (even though separated by land and sea). I believe the Lord is far more interested in these matters than we think. How far could some Christian men have gotten without their better half of 51%? A man is either made or broken on this score. I do thank the Lord for this beginning of a friendship that shall last on and on into Eternity; where our inheritance will be consummated.”
A little later in the letter, he talks of one of the missionaries who is working in a jewellers shop whilst waiting her turn to be sent out to Africa and says:
“Maybe I could give her a little business deal “if I knew the right size,”…”
Hector writes that he has been promoted to Leading Aircraftsman and is engaged in work that is ‘secret’ and does not enlarge on that aspect of his life; rather, he focuses on events at church, the Goodman’s and their little boy, Harding and other people they both know from the mission. The ending of this letter is very romantic:
“Sometimes I waken early in the morning in the barracks, just when the dawn is beginning to show through the window. Everything is so quiet, and it is a real joy to engage in prayer for you especially. I know that you are in His care and so for another fortnight I commit you to the One that “called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Yours by His Grace, Hector”
Two weeks later, on 11th April 1943, Hector again writes to Ione; this time it would seem he ie entirely sure of whom he would like to marry but it seems he only comes to this conclusion after having supper with Harry and Jean Titcombe. It would appear Jean asked some poignant questions. He write:
“This is a letter of good tidings and I just must express my heart’s desire. I’ve had a talk with Mrs Goodman (wife of the Canadian General Secretary of the UFM) and (I) am writing Mrs Pudney. I believe that your mother would be agreeable, so all I need now is your consent, or in other words, ‘voluntary agreement’.
As far as I am concerned I need no further persuasion. Maybe my letters haven’t been able to show it, but my heart is fixed. It would probably be best to ask you to pray about this step and I will do the same. I think you know me as well as anyone does, but if there are any further questions you would like answered, be really frank. Life is too short to be filled with misunderstandings. This relationship is the most intimate, but it is also the most blessed when it has Heaven’s blessing.
Now that you know the situation, I will await further plans as regards the jewellery. You may as well know this (since it would be known later) that there is a diamond ring in the mission property that someone gave as a gift. Mrs Pudney has mentioned to me that I could buy it and have it put in a new setting, which would be quite the thing. I have been wondering if your finger is the same size as Marcellyn’s; but you can tell me all the details when you write, and advance any suggestions. I imagine it could be sent out airmail, but if not then I’ll have to let Verna take it with her.
I would like to get the matter settled before I get posted out of Canada. Affairs move quickly these days, so we must always be prepared. If it should happen that I am to leave in a few weeks, I will get someone here to look after the business. This, my dear, the matter, is in your hands for better or for worse.
It is a glorious thing to feel secure;
In solitude, or ‘mid the world’s rude din;
Against all fears to be sustained within;….
Lovingly yours in Christ…..Hector
Whilst Hector maintains his ‘hobby’ of writing to Ione once a fortnight, Ione has neglected responding to each letter and on 12th April 1943 writes to Hector:
“The weeks and months have passed and you have been so faithful. I have before me five letters and a cable, all unacknowledged. Each one has been a real joy and comfort and has made me know and appreciate you better….. Every month makes me realize more what you really mean to me.
The Christmas gift which you mentioned in your Nov. 14 letter arrived safely and I was so happy to have two such lovely handkerchiefs. Thank you so much for them. Your sister’s choice was very good. I shall save them for a very special occasion.
Your cables were so thrilling and helpful during the times I might not have otherwise heard. In my cable to you I meant it to convey to you by the Bible verse, “thou art a man greatly beloved – “that you were — by me! But maybe you’d rather I’d just tell you instead of hiding it in a scripture verse. I like your way of signing your name in your Feb. letter! Letter of Mar. 9 just received. I have read it many times. I just literally ‘ate it up’. To think you were at my house and met my people – it was great.”
Two weeks after writing and telling Ione he wants to marry her, and without waiting for a reply, Hector writes again on 25th April 1943; they are celebrating Easter in Toronto and Mrs Pudney arrives with the ring that was donated to the mission; which Mrs Pudney has allowed Hector to buy. The missionary who was biding her time to be sent to the mission field by working in the Jeweller’s, Verna, gets the ring reset and she and Mrs Pudney get guess the sizing hoping they have ‘average size fingers. Full of confidence, Hector writes:
“Last night when I came in from Clinton on special leave, we sat in the living room for quite a while and then she (Mrs Pudney) took me upstairs; got out a little white box and let me open it. What a charming surprise! There is nestled, in between two little folds of white cloth. My breath was almost taken away with its beauty. I really hadn’t expected to see anything quite so lovely. I had written her asking about the possibilities of getting it fixed up; and here she gets Verna to take it down to the jewellery shop and brings it up here all ready. She took her own and Verna’s fingers as average sizes so I hope it will be alright. Not having held your hand I have no accurate idea of the size. I spent plenty of time holding it up to the light and seeing the colours. It goes down to a point underneath, and the setting shows it off well; how much more when it gets on your finger. It seems that they are quite sure of Verna’s getting out so she will be my substitute. I’m sure you will love it.”
Hector also elaborates more on his promotion which hopefully gets him a posting in Canada:
“There are several factors that enter into the ones they chose for officers. Marks in the exams are big factors, but there is our past history; administrative ability, deportment and several other things which have to be considered. The Lord has given me favour with the officials. I knew I would have to get off this weekend to see the Pudneys but our classes didn’t have this permission. So I had to apply for special leave. It is usually just about impossible to get anything like that but when one of the officers heard my story he started to work on it. When we were alone I showed him your picture and I guess that melted his heart. Within a half hour he had me through all the red tape. So this is still the age of miracles. So they are getting to know me at the office. When I had my interview last week, the officer was very interested in my going to Africa. He wanted to know all about the Belgian Congo. On this extended course they watch us more closely for any flaws in our character; this being possible since the classes are much smaller.”
The next day, Hector adds more to his letter, he has been in contact with Mrs Reed and hopes to make another visit. He finishes this letter at Clinton, in the company of the Titcombes; a young couple who open up their home to the servicemen to give them some respite from barrack life. Hector persuades Jean Titcombe to add on to his letter and leaves the letter with her to post. Jean writes:
Although I feel that I have no right to be adding a note to the letter, Hector insisted that I do so before I mailed it for him. Harry and I would both like very much to know you – from all we’ve heard from Hector you must indeed be a wonderful girl and a devoted servant of our Saviour. We both have become very fond of Hector and believe he is amongst the finest, most sincere, most earnest of the Christian Airforce boys that we have had the privilege to know here. We’ve actually met nearly seventy Christian fellows in Clinton. As for our married life, it is indeed wonderful because Christ is its centre and His “Well done” our goal. I’m sure God will bless you two as He has us. Our love and good wishes will follow you both and may you have the happiness of being one in Him soon. Lovingly, Jean and Harry.”
On the 2nd May 1943, Ione again writes to her friend Agnes Sturman; and confesses to feeling guilty that she has not written personally to Agnes for so long whilst each month, Agnes has faithfully sent letters, Christmas greetings and her regular subscription of ‘Moody Monthly’. It seems that Agnes is responsible for some of Ione’s money (monthly wages donated by this particular church) as Ione asks Agnes to sort out a subscription of National Geographic so that she can keep up to date. Agnes obviously knows Ione’s family well enough for Ione to enquire about her mother and younger sister Marcellyn; and to ask Agnes’ opinion of her youngest sister’s actions. Here we learn that Doris married a ‘catholic boy’. Ione asks Agnes to pass on thanks for gifts sent by the church:
“We have received the Christmas gifts from the Women’s Missionary Society and would appreciate if you would extend to them our thanks. It was so thoughtful of them to remember our needs. There are so many of us on the receiving end now, it must have been a sacrifice to remember all. Tell them we, Pearl and I, say many, many thanks! They will be interested to know that Pearl has been ill for several months. She said to tell you ‘her cedar chest is out of order’, that is, everything has been put on the right side to make room for air on the left. But, ‘she’s afraid she’s going to live thru it’!! It is hard for her to be convalescing, but she finds many interesting things to do, among them issuing the Bongondza Times, which you will be receiving soon. She says she has to be funny to keep folks from being too serious about her. Please pray for her soon recovery.”
As usual, Ione fills in with description of her life:
“We have been enjoying our orange tree so much. I knocked off fifty the other morning, and they are so huge and juicy. They are a great help to Pearl at this time. When I go to the Doctor’s in the morning I fix her the juice of one in a glass and she drinks it mid-morning; I set out the food for the boy to fix at noon and for night and try to send her juice during the afternoon. Then when I come at night she has already eaten and I snatch a bite, too. Doctor usually gets a box of fresh meat by courier each Thurs. This time they were not here, so the rest of us had a feast. We invited the Jenkinson’s and Viola over and made steak smothered in onions, and a native woman came by with two tender ears of corn, so we had even corn on the cob! And best of all mulberry shortcake, and the berries from Dr’s bush are huge. It was fun. Pearl made some cute little place cards and sat in a reclining chair during supper. She put the most familiar saying of each person on the card and each had to find his place by that saying. Mine was, “Think of that”, Kinso’s – “Righto” (he’s English, you know), Ma Kinso – “Quite”, Viola “for the umpteenth time”- and Pearl’s – “Golly Neds”. Last night we had another get together, a ping-pong (Table tennis) match between Kinso and myself (I lost every game!) followed by sandwiches and tea in the garden back of our house. The flying ants bombarded us, but they lent atmosphere.”
Ione has respite from caring for the Westcott’s as they have travelled to Stanleyville (Kisangani) for a weekend break however, Ione still has duties:
“I am helping the houseboy take care of the 33 chickens, 3 goats, several ducks, Blackie, the father cat, Midnight, the mother, and the four little spooks.”
Ione has many questions for Agnes all related to mutual friends who also support Ione on the mission field. She maybe thousands of miles away, but she is still interested in the welfare of those back at her home church and the work the home church does; it still plays a role in her life:
“Wish I could have been there for the Dedication of Barnett Chapel and Prayer Hall. Please send us some pictures if you can. I am not sure that pictures are allowed now. Some have not gone through. The Lord has surely performed a miracle in providing the needs for such a big project as our church has seen this past year. How I praise Him for all He has done at First Baptist Church. It was there that I first received a vision of Christian services. During the first Stockton-Gould Meetings I did my first soul-winning. And since then, many opportunities of service. I cannot praise Him enough for the Church.”
Hector’s next letter to Ione spans four days starting on 8th May 1943 which includes a 48 hour pass to see Ione’s mother and includes news that the Titcombes want to become missionaries and part of that plan is to attend Moody Bible Institute, where Ione studied. He tells her of his journey to Pontiac, he decided to hitch hike as it was only 170 miles from where he was staying:
“It was real fun until I got over between Port Huron and Pontiac when it was getting close to midnight. I was beginning to consider whether or not the Americans have any soft places in their hearts. I had phoned Marcellyn after I crossed the border and thought I’d try to be there between 1-1/2 and 2 hours. I got no less than six rides and finally got in to the centre of town about 12:30. I had to make a dash to catch the bus, noticing that there was a young couple coming up the opposite way. They went to the back of the bus, passing me as I was turning around to sit down (not like a dog). The bus just started when who should come up but Marcellyn. She and her boyfriend Eugene Griffin thought that I might go to Detroit and then come up on the train; so, they went to meet it. By that time, it looked as if the bus was making its last trip out so they made a noble effort to get it. Was she ever surprised to see me after she had resigned herself to the fact that I had missed all connections. It was rather a miracle as far as timing is concerned. So Gene stayed the night with me in the front room. The next morning we awoke rather early and talked for about an hour before we got up. He is a lovely boy and I do hope he will be able to get the rest of his schooling and Bible training.”
During these four days, Hector finally gets the response he has been waiting for; Ione sends a cablegram:
DLT RECEIVED APRIL LL LETTER ANSWER IS YES RING IDEA GOOD RUTH ONE SIXTEEN. IONE
Ruth Chapter 1 verse 16 and 17 (because they go together) is:
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Hector is delighted:
“Words fail to express what I want to say! So you really are my beloved; XX That, with a great big hug ! ! That cablegram reached me in record time. I just stood at the window of the barrack room and thanked the Lord with all my heart, for one so precious as you are. Believe me, the boys are really jealous, since they have heard so much about you, and especially that verse in Ruth. How did you ever find that one? I doubt if there is any other single verse that says so much. May the Lord bless it to both our hearts. To think that we are going to be married; I guess no one is quite as happy as I am. I phoned Pontiac tonight and Marcellyn was so excited about it all, and she said mother would be so glad. But my main ambition is to make you happy which I have already found out is not a very hard task.”
Hector ends this letter with greater detail of his stay in Ione’s family home and good news about her sister Doris:
“To get back to the account of the weekend. After we came back from town we rested a while and then took some pictures. I was able to get some very good poses of Marcellyn and Gene. After supper they did the dishes while I sat on the chesterfield and listened to your mother play that piano. I wonder that there were enough keys. Talk about having a taste of Heaven; that evening was quite a sample. And then we started talking; first about her own life and the present situations and then about you. Heaven alone will reveal what you have passed up to obey the Lord. Your heart has been so tender and sensitive. I remember now your mother saying that she was afraid you might marry someone that would be harsh and domineering. But you know dear that I wouldn’t wound you for anything. It would be like plucking out my right eye. I think that the Lord has given both of us a cheerful, amiable spirit that will cushion many shocks. How I would just love to tease you, just to see how you would think up such quick, witty answers. I never could get ahead of you, but you just wait.
You will be glad to know that the Lord is beginning to do a real work for Doris and her husband. Their lives must be very precious since the Devil is trying so hard to ensnare them. They were even separated for some time and finally he wrote to your mother and asked forgiveness for all he had done and told how he had been having such times with the Lord. Then they came home last weekend and his folks agreed to come over for an evening. How gracious of the Lord to turn the whole matter out in this way. It will likely mean the salvation of all concerned and it will certainly be a lesson for Doris. Marcellyn said tonight that Doris will be home for another month; so I think I will try and get over there again in two weeks’ time. It is more home to me now than Avonmore. I just love being with your mother, since she gives such wise counsel, and has such a big heart; I know that she will fill a real vacancy in my life. When I was leaving, her eyes were full of deep expression as we shook hands. I too can say, “…thy people shall be my people…”
It is almost time to go back to the barracks again. I would just love to kneel beside you and talk the whole matter over with the One who has arranged all these things for us. It will be so nice to tell folks what a fortunate man I am. It has a telling effect on the other lads when I tell them how happy the Lord makes us in choosing His plan for our lives.
One of my classmates very cleverly portrayed a semblance of our engagement. I told him you’d be so pleased.
I’ve told ever so many people about our engagement and nobody has said I’ve done wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t believe them anyway. Love is not blind but has a third eye. My whole soul goes out to you and I only wait for the day when I can press you close to me, My own BELOVED. X X X Yours, Hector
So technically, Ione and Hector got engaged on the 12th May 1943 by mail; however, in a long letter written to her family on the 22nd May 1943, Ione writes, suggesting it is not a foregone conclusion:
Now about Hector******Well, he has proposed! At least that’s what it looked like in his letter. He is the type that says you’re the apple of his eye instead of telling you he loves you. He doesn’t write in flowery words, or say he wants to walk down life’s pathway with you. He just says he thinks my mother would be agreeable to it, and he just needs my consent now! He didn’t say to what – but I just guessed that. He says, “Maybe my letters haven’t been able to show it, but my heart is fixed. This is a letter of good tidings and I just must express my heart’s desire.” He wants to send a diamond out. I believe the reason he is sort of pushing this thing is that he will be leaving the country soon; perhaps to go to England, and just wanted to know something definite before leaving. At any rate, I have known him now for two years, been writing for one, and there doesn’t seem to be any doubt in my mind but that he’s my missionary. Sooo, I sent him a cable that it may reach him before he leaves, and told him the answer is yes.
Now that doesn’t mean I’m engaged, for I don’t know whether the cable reached him, nor if he changed his mind in the meantime, nor whether he will really get out here yet. But according to the NRA – I’ve ‘done my part’ –! He’s not very handsome, unless a uniform has improved him, nor is he a brilliant speaker, but he’s good natured, handy about the house, a real homemaker and missionary, – and best of all, he can lay down like a dog! He turns around three times in his long, lanky fashion, puts out his paws, and rolls his eyes like a cocker spaniel for all the world!! He comes from a wholesome farm atmosphere and eats anything and everything. He’s partly bald and has at least one plate of false teeth. (Ione in her earlier life turned down a suitor who was ‘bald’ or had that potential – obviously Hector is different!) All the while we were at the Mission Home together he was planning to go to Brazil, equipment all ready and everything, but the way was closed and then he considered Africa. I liked him but always tho’t he was going in another direction. It was not until after he had left the Home shortly before our sailing that Mrs Pudney told me that he was willing to offer his life for the Congo field. Then I found out that he liked me and that I reminded him of a robin when I tilted my head to one side. That was rather nice, and I told Mrs Pudney to tell him I wouldn’t mind if he wrote to me out here. That was the beginning and he has written every two weeks, as often as the airplanes go. Most interesting and amusing letters. And he really loves the Lord. Even tho’ I’m nearing thirty years I feel I need my family’s advice. I trust this step will not be a disappointment to you all.”
Hector is not the only one in this partnership that can fix things; Ione explains how she mends her typewriter:
“Perhaps I should explain the uneven lines I have just finished. Well, just as I started the letter I heard a whirring sound and a bang, and the typewriter stopped. I discovered that the spring had broken, the one that automatically carries the roller back and forth. My heart sank, for it will be months and months before I can get a replacement. I tried tying the little string that broke when the spring sprang, but it still didn’t work. Then I found that by pulling the roller with one hand and typing with the other I could still go on, but that was killing, it was going to take me ages to finish. Then Pearl offered to pull it for me, but soon I saw she was getting a little pale around the gills, so I tho’t of fixing a string to the roll and tying it on the screen door which has a spring on it. Then I realized that the hornets would be thick in here if the screen was held open, so now I have a better idea, AND IT WORKS! Picture me sitting on our cushioned davenport (made of dark wood forest tree; cushioned stuffed with local cotton) with my typewriter in my lap; my blue enamel kitchen chair by my knees; a string running from the roller of the typewriter to the handle of a red enamel kitchen pan, which acts as a pulley and keeps the roller going while I type! It works fine, only the pan clangs against the metal of the chair and makes a sound like a life buoy in a fog. Pearl said it sounded like a cowbell on the farm. I might explain the greasy spots, too, – they are specks of chocolate cake. Pearl make a sour milk chocolate cake yesterday, the first she has felt like making in a long while; while I was examining the interior of this machine she presented me with a piece, and I attribute my bright idea to the additional nourishment the cake gave.”
Her news from the mission station is that Ellen is enjoying better health and has been able to assist her husband as an anaesthetic nurse when their daughter needed an appendectomy. Freed from caring for Ellen, Ione has been tasked with mending nurses’ uniforms and furnishing the guest house for white patients which entails making curtains, bedding and mattresses.
“Doctor builds the buildings, we try to make them look homey.”
Doing less in the Westcott home freed Ione up to do other things that she evidently enjoys:
“I get out to a good many Sunday afternoon village meetings and speak occasionally. My Monday and Friday hospital meetings are very well attended. The porch of the hospital is full and they spread out into the yard and road in front. I visit the wards either before or after the service and pray with the bed patients. It is so sad when there is a death. A woman had a huge tumour removed the other day and died shortly after. Her daughter just couldn’t believe it, and kept shaking her, and pulling at her hands and her feet and head. …..
My latest effort in conducting meetings has been a boys’ Sunday school, conducted each Sunday afternoon. The schoolboys and those in nearby villages who cannot come to school are my clients. They’re a great bunch; we meet in the classroom that Verna Schade (the lady currently at the Mission Headquarters in the States who is working in a Jewellers and facilitated the resizing of Ione’s engagement ring) built while she was here. They always pray that Miss Schade will soon come back. She may be able, soon, too, war conditions permitting. She had a large boys’ work, the kind I hope to have some day at Ekoko. Pearl will have a girls’ Sunday school when she is well enough. I wish you would pray for this group of boys. Some of them will be evangelists someday.
Unfortunately, her friend Pearl is still convalescing but it does have benefits attached:
“I wish you could see our house now. Pearl is here all the time now, trying to recuperate from a bad chest condition, and she sees that our two boys keep things spick and span. The brick floors get scrubbed until they glisten, there are cheery bouquets, and the furniture has a good polish with shoe polish. Our huge luxurious orange tree towers over the back yard, laden with golden fruit; we have discovered a honeysuckle vine climbing around one of the palm trees, some lacy ferns at the base of another. We have 12 chickens now, which makes us feel very wealthy.
Our old houseboy, Zaze has left us and is working on the work gang for the Dr We have an elder school boy doing our cooking now; he has finished the school work here and can read and write. His name is Lendo; our wood and water boy is Asatindi, he also has been to school here. They listen gladly to the Gospel and sing hymns. We have them in every morning and read from the Bangala New Testament and pray in Bangala. They both say “Amen”, solemnly afterward, and then back out of the dining room to go to their work.
Other news for the family is that Ione has finally heard from Doris, which has reassured her but Ione is worried about her sister Lucille from whom she has not received a letter although, she knows Lucille’s daughter, Ruthie has been unwell. As ever, she has concerns for her mother:
“Mother, if you are thinking now that if I am married I cannot help you, it will not be that way. For should I marry, my salary will remain the same, the Lord willing, and the combined salaries in one home should make additional help at home possible. By the way, how much more a month do you need to get along? I do not want you to work yourself sick anymore trying to make ends meet. Is the public school teaching too hard for you? If so, I can arrange to have my entire salary sent to you (it isn’t much, tho’, you know, but we have been promised an increase for this year) and I can manage on the special gifts that the Lord seems to liberally send each month. Please tell me how you feel and if you are worried about anything. I haven’t heard from you in so long and I really am concerned.”
The greatest impact of the war on Ione is that it affects communication, this letter is largely written in response to a letter from Marcellyn dated on the 9th March but doesn’t reach Ione until 29th April. The other aspect that impinges on Ione is that the Westcott’s cannot travel back to America as neither planes nor boats are happy to convey children through areas affected by war. This means Ione cannot leave Bongondza to work at Ekoko, which is her long term goal. Ione ends this letter thus:
Please write me soon. I do not have time to get lonely, but somehow there’s an awful gap when I don’t hear from home in a long while. We do see white people all the while here, but when I get to Ekoko there will be months and months of seeing no one.
Here’s a list of things to pray for:
1. That the Ludwig’s will be able to go home soon.
2. That the Westcott’s may be able also to go home.
3. Pearl’s recovery.
4. That Hector may come out.
5. That I may go to Ekoko, if it be His will.
6. That I may become adjusted to this strange land, pioneer methods, rough life.
7. That Doris may stay true to Christ.
8. That Marcellyn may be in Christian service all her life.
9. That Lucille and Maurice may be geographically in His Will; if the Lord wishes a change that He will lead.
10. That Mother may be able to continue Christian services.
11. That their relationships between the U.F. Mission and the Church may continue to be good.
12. Our old houseboy’s conversion (Zaze).
13. That Amiazi, teacher, may come back to the Lord and his first wife.
14. The safe arrival of two new missionaries from England.
All of these are uppermost in my mind. Perhaps I am a bit out of date on some items and you can put me right. But won’t you join me in prayer?
I love you all so much. May the Lord richly bless. Lovingly, Ione
Having typed the letter, Ione adds a further part by hand on the back of the typed sheets:
“Dearest Mother and Marcellyn,
I’ve sent copies of this to Lucille & Doris & Tee. I notified the church to grant you 4 month’s salary, either month by month or as they receive it. This is to pay for the things I listed for you in my last letter. But Mother, I don’t want you to bother with them if you are too busy. Just send them to Evie & with $50 & keep the rest for yourself. And tell her to pick out $50 worth and send them in small packages a little at a time. Keep out enough for my insurance for 1 year. I am anxious that you not run short. Take good care of yourself. You’re the only Mother I have! Love, Ione”
At the end of May, Ione writes to friends at church who also know the Westcott’s to such an extent that Ione has persuaded Ellen to let her add in part of letter she had written to her mother. She starts by saying:
“First, let me say how I praise the Lord for sending me. I truly believe that “for this cause came I unto this hour,” and that my future work as a missionary will be greatly benefited by my experience as a ‘helper’ in their home. I am not too confined to do some missionary work. I have my very own hospital meetings on two mornings a week, as well as a boys’ Sunday School each Sunday afternoon and the Lord has blessed.”
Next, with her eye for detail, Ione describes the doctor and his wife:
“the Doctor – continues to be rather on the heavy side in weight. He looks well, tho’ very tired at times, maintains a merry twinkle. This morning Ellen and all three of the children managed to hold him down and tie his hands for calling them ‘woggle-boggles’ or some endearing term. He wears his pockets out carrying nails, and tools of all kinds. I reinforced one set of trousers twice and finally made new pockets of double thickness then, much to my sad dismay, the trousers went to pieces! I forgot about that scripture about putting new cloth on old garments! I am glad to report that he comes to his meals more regularly than when I first arrived. I don’t think I have to send for him more than three times now. And the other day he said he would have come much sooner if he had known we were having pie! He has a tremendous sweet tooth and shortcakes, pies, candy all are past history before they get cold. In order to keep a tin of fudge, I have to put a skull and cross-bones on it with the words, “Beware!” He never gets thru’ making his rounds, for the circle is never ending. To us, he seems never to stop working.
Next, Ellen – she walks well now; I can hardly remember those early days when she was always in bed. We do many things together; have many things in common, the love of pretty flowers, music, children, ideals for them, etc. We have done much sewing for the hospital and guest house, curtains, spreads, mattresses, and now baby things for the latest additions and to-be’s of the mission families. You no doubt know that she gave Anne’s anaesthetic in February when her appendix was removed. Her Mother’s Jan. letter telling that her sister Edith was very ill was not a great shock as she rather expected it, but it made her heart ache and was a real grief. Then last week the other letter came saying that Edith had passed away Jan. 24, and after that she seemed a bit relieved, especially I believe since she knows that both the husband and her Mother would be well cared for. She smiled and said, “Now I can be happy once more, for I know that everything is allright.” It is hard for her to realize that both Laura and Edith will be gone when she comes home, but I do not believe she is reconciled to it, and accepts it as the Lord’s will. She has been trying to do many things which help her to keep an even keel. Here’s her letter:
“Dear Mother, I’m down at the hospital waiting for George so I’ll pass the time by writing a wee bit. Usually I feel too tired to do much more than just get up – I do not even do my hair, but let Ione help me, and then it is all brushed with a curl put in on one side, I finish up. Isn’t that laziness for you? I cannot believe that I am, I – certainly I have changed – for the worst! Nevertheless, this old fight has taken just about all the spunk I had and had it not been for the children I should have given up long ago. As it is I’m just needing a good rest to finish it up, but once I get started resting, I won’t want to stop. George says I need to play – I’m sure we’re all desperately tired of work. George is over now checking up on the new church. He is building it across and up from the hospital – up toward the other residences. It will be quite pretty we think – we’ll take a picture of everything and bring them with us.
We have hopes of coming by plane this summer. Of course, it’s difficult to say if it can be arranged, but if it can it won’t take us long to pack up. In case we can’t, I insist on a long vacation here before we go on perhaps 6 or 7 months up in the mountains or something like that. We will have done 7 years this summer, and that’s far too long for anyone to say nothing of the exceedingly difficult circumstances under which we’ve lived.
The work grows more and more gratifying. One of the nice things is the help we can give stranded white people. We have a nice little duplex bungalow and another tiny brick house. Beside these Ma Kinso has a nice guest room. All are full and three others drove out yesterday morning. Today there are 6 white patients in residence besides all the blacks. A white man from near the French border drove in at 1:00 A.M. last night. A donkey bit his finger nearly off yesterday morning. He urged his wife to finish chopping it off but she flatly refused, so they packed up and drove the 300 miles in here. He is an American and used to be a cowboy, a missionary of the Africa Inland Mission.”
She did not write anymore, tho’ she was not finished, but I tho’t her own words would give you encouragement. She has a good sense of humor and that helps when she might be very discouraged. The other day she was speaking about the 16 operations that she has had and referred to the Scripture verse, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” She smiled and said, “That is very true, but a person has to do a jolly good lot of kicking, too!”
Anne is getting taller every day. She is chubby and has a good appetite. She thinks she is not good-looking and worries about her eyes, says they look like Japs’ eyes because they slant at the corners. But I told her that’s the kind of eyes I always wanted – wide blue eyes with an interesting tilt above high cheek bones and important pug nose! And what little girl shouldn’t be happy if she looks just exactly like her mother! She gave me a letter for Grandfather and Grandmother Westcott. (…as follows:)
“Dear Grandfather and Grandmother: I love you and want to see you both. How are you? Are you well? Daddy is allright. Mother is allright, but Mother is sick. Bob is allright and Charlotte, too. We have two cats, one is big and one is little. The big one will not stay around the house. He will come and fatten up and then he will go to the woods and get thin. The little cat will stay around the house. They are both black. I have a goat. She is black. She is very funny. She will run and jump. Daddy can get a foot away and then she will toss her head and run. She has a baby goat. You would think he would go with his mother, but he does not. He will not. But he will stay with me and play. I will get down on my hands and knees and he will jump on my back and stand there. Daddy will get the flyswatter and swat the wall and the little cat will come running to get the bug. – ANNE”
Bob is getting straight and tall, but no thinner, I think. I think he is going to be a great figure-outer someday, he figures out so many things. He gets so preoccupied figuring out that he just doesn’t hear anything or anyone. He was threading the bobbin on the sewing machine for me and I left for some reason and when I came back I waited for awhile and then seeing he was deeply engrossed, I asked him why, and he looked up dreamy-eyed and said, “Do you know that the sun has gone around the earth six times while you were gone?” he was watching the two little gadgets that go around each other on the machine. Ellen dropped a clock and the little spring came loose. Bobbie fixed it together and it works fine now. This pleased Ellen, for she says she believes Bob has something that her Dad had and that Dr has. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I think you all do!
Charlotte, or Shally, as we call her, is more beautiful than ever, and her hair persists in curling, even tho’ it gets so little attention. She has determination written all over her face and her eyes just snap when things are all wrong. She is quite tall now, but is broader than the rest for their size, more like her Daddy. She is very affectionate.
This is just a wee resume, but trust it will help until you see them. I wish to send my best regards to you all. Be assured that we are praying for you every day. In Christ, Ione
Ione gives these friends a positive picture of life with the Westcott’s and focuses on what she feels they would like to hear.
On May 31st 1943, Hector writes a more passionate letter than he has ever dared before:
The heart of your lover is hungry for your presence this evening. No one knows how many times a day I think of you; wondering what you are busy at; how your health is standing the climate; if you are making someone laugh at your capers; and if you are making a long list of things that we will want in our little home; but most of all I love to think of looking once more into those deep eyes so full of expression. I’m glad I sat across from you at the table in Phila. for those three weeks. The Pudneys have mentioned the times that they noticed those sly glances, but they didn’t see them all. ha! ha!”
Hector has devised that if he has recordings duplicated of Ione singing when she was in the Trio, he will be able to have her with him all the time:
“It will almost make me feel like putting my arms around the gramophone. I know all my sisters will be so glad to hear your voice and especially my Dad, since he does love to listen. When I tell folks about you and show them your picture and all that has happened recently, I usually end up by wondering why you said “yes”. Someday it will be all made clear.”
Hector is approaching his final exams of his additional course that he has recently undertaken; he tells Ione how much he has enjoyed the course and the company who have joined him on this venture:
“I love the boys at the camp and it has been such a new experience to live right among them. I tell them once in a while that I am getting good training for living among the heathen in Africa. And they think that’s a pretty good simile. But I know that some of them are very close to the Kingdom. I feel definitely sure that I am in the Lord’s will, because my heart has such peace and I am so happy at my work and the associations with the fellows.”
Whilst stationed in Canada, Hector has more time to visit family; he tells Ione of a visit to his sister in Dunnville and a conversation they had about her committing herself to being a Christian one night after her husband had gone to bed. He hitch hikes to Toronto to see the Goodman’s and their son Harding:
“Harding is the world’s wonder by now. He’s such good company and is going to be really comical.”
Then he visits the Titcombes at Clinton and once training and exams are completed, he plans to visit Ione’s mother in Pontiac, his family in Avonmore, Toronto and Alberta.
He tells Ione that the boat Verna Shade was planning to travel on had been cancelled, which means Ione has a longer wait for her engagement ring:
“How am I ever to get that ring out to you! Mrs Pudney just won’t let me send it by post. What do you think of the matter? I’ve been threatening to build me a boat just for that one purpose. Poor Verna!!!!! If you two could change places for about a week….As it is the mission has taken on a new field in Haiti and they can get two missionaries every two months through the shipping authorities. It has been a real step and it is a very ripe harvest field. If it is just impossible to get Verna out they may let her go down there. However, that will all come out in the months that lie ahead……
It is almost time for me to leave for the barracks again. I would love to tell you so many other things. But most of all I would love to hear from you again. It will soon be six months since you wrote the last letter (at 1:30 a.m.). I’ve read your letters until they are about worn out, even between the lines. I hope mine have been getting through, because you need fellowship some way or another. Maybe you’re waiting to send me another birthday greeting. That was so delicious. So, my dear little precious jewel I suppose I will have to kiss you good-bye again. May the Lord be everything to you. You are ever so dear to Him and I know He’ll be able to keep you for His glory and for me.
Abounding love in Him, Hector X.”
Despite not getting any mail from Ione for six months, Hector continues to write once and fortnight. On the 30th June 1943, he writes:
“I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.” II Corin. 7:16.
There is only one thing that I cannot understand, Ione; that is; how one young woman away out in Africa can make a young man so happy. The past two weeks have almost been a heaven here below. Your ears must have been burning most all the time, even while you were asleep.
It happens that I am now in Montreal visiting some of my sisters. Tomorrow morning I’ll be leaving for Phila. to visit Mrs Pudney until Sunday. Then comes our posting to the East Coast of Canada. So that is where the next letter will be written. It may be that you’ll have to employ an interpreter, from then on, as I’ll likely have to write long hand. It has been so handy to use the typewriter but probably it lacks the personal touch. However it can make XXs in copious quantities.
I have an interesting story to tell about that cablegram. I was out this afternoon to see my married sister that was saved 4 years ago. When she heard of Ruth 1:16 she was reading it to the family. The two girls were not content with that: they asked her to read the whole book right to the end. Florence says it makes her cry when she reads that touching story. She is so very happy now. They have a nice new home with six rooms, and it is practically out in the country. This morning I was down town and bought a family Bible for our Dad. There is a record for Births, Marriages, etc. Florence was filling this out, and through the Lord’s foresight I was recently talking to an aunt of mine who remembered a verse that my mother quoted before she died: “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me..” Ps. 138:8, so Florence wrote this beside mother’s name. What a day it will be in glory when “our mothers” meet.
Just now I am looking at a lovely picture on the mantle in Irene’s living room, a big 8 x 10 folder. I wonder if you remember that large picture you had taken in Dallas. When your mother showed us some of your pictures and then brought out this one; I knew once and for all that this was the one. I took it down town and got a small negative made. In Toronto I was able to get a whole supply, seven large ones and a dozen of the size I’m enclosing. Besides that, there was a little picture of the trio; and your face is just the right size for the top part of my wrist watch. It covers number 12, so you’re right at the top. Usually I have to look about three times before I see the time. It’s so lovely to have you with me all the time.
It was a pleasure to have such a long visit in Pontiac this last time; from Saturday until Wednesday. Marcellyn was able to have Herbie Noe over for the same week-end and he really is funny. Your mother laughed at us until we were almost ashamed. I was glad to get acquainted with someone from Bob Jones College. Herbie was nearly persuaded that it is as good as P.B.I. We had fine times of family worship when the Lord’s presence was manifest.
But most of all I love to hear you sing. On Monday evening Doris was there and we all went over to Stricklin’s. They too had some records, even one of the Choir from First Baptist. I have just two discs; one has “My Faith looks up to Thee”, and “When they ring the golden bells for you and me.” The other one we made up that night, “Grace greater than our sin” with Marcellyn and Doris and on the opposite side, “Family worship and The Lights of Home”. So now I have the whole family along. Everybody loves your two solos.
My sister Irene wants to have some space to write to her new “sister”. So while I am down town she is going to continue on this same letter. Lovingly, yours in Christ, X Hector
This is a grand opportunity for me to tell you how happy I am to hear that you and Hector have become engaged. I wish you both abundant happiness.
Hector has been telling me a great deal about you and I am most anxious to meet you in person and give you a personal welcome into our family.
We want you to know that by increasing Hector’s happiness, you are also making our family very, very happy. He has always been of a happy disposition, but this visit it is very apparent that his cup is overflowing. I always dread seeing him leave here – he is such wonderful company – we just never stop talking about our interests in life.
He was telling me about his visit to your home in Michigan – just what a wonderful mother-in-law he is going to have. Being so young when his own mother died, you will agree that he has been robbed of mother-love to a great extent and that sharing your mother with you will fill that gap in his life. He is a very precious member of our family, and we are so proud of the path he has chosen in life, and now he has chosen a girl whose path follows along with his, makes us doubly proud.
I enjoy so much listening to your records. I will look forward to hearing from you – I know you must have a big correspondence, but I will be very patient, I promise you. Sincere regards, Irene Pierce (Mrs, K.E.)”
With letters taking so long to cross the Atlantic, it is inevitable that there will be cross postings. Whilst Hector bemoans not hearing from Ione, she is actually writing to him. On the 20th June 1943, Ione writes:
I just drew a promise for you from Pearl’s promise box. It puzzles me a little, but I think it’s applicable – “Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed.” Rom. 4:28 (Weymouth). I don’t know whether your circumstances seem at present hopeless, but perhaps so with regard to getting out soon. Sometimes it seems that you never will get out and the War will never end and I will be an old lady, but I can still go on ‘hopefully believing’, can’t I? I sent you a telegram in answer to your April 11 letter (arrived May 6). I was afraid you might be posted out of the country and did want you to know right away how I felt. I trust the cable reached you safely. It did not take me long to formulate words, for after knowing you for two years, writing for one, and seeing you for about seven weeks, I had hoped that someday I would have the joy of sending just such a message. (If you had not been going to Brazil, – and if you hadn’t been such a rascal about that muffin proposition – I would have told you much sooner!)
Your March 28 letter arrived April 29. Your reference to Mr Keen’s message on 2nd John, especially verse 12, makes me think that you shall have another verse to add to Gen. 24 and Dan. 9 – Ruth 1. Someday perhaps we shall have a long list and look back and say, “The Lord hath done great things for us.” Your April 25 letter arrived June 10 and I was glad to know about the ring. It sounds very interesting. I promise you shall hold my hand with it on! – some day. When I think of the future – with you is it spells satisfaction, peace of mind, comfort, laughs, real companionship with someone who will always understand. Most of all it means a consummation of God’s will for me. He said He would bring ‘it’ to pass; He said He would not withhold one good thing from me; also that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called-‘; and He knows that I can never do all this work by myself. He promised me that I would abound to every good work, but when He found that I wasn’t big enough to do the work, He provided someone to do it so that I could just help. I came out here as a ‘helper’, you remember. By His grace I would like to continue as such, provided I can be your ‘helper’!! Have I ever told you that I love you?
I wonder if it was my picture that helped you obtain special leave to see the Pudneys! I don’t think so, but at any rate I am glad you could be there to spend time with them. I have been wondering if your new extended course is comparable to the course in the States, I think it’s called Officers’ Training School. I am glad you have been put with this group. Needless to say, I hope you will become an Officer. But even if you don’t, the training will be helpful, won’t it? I wonder what the next step will be. I never know from one letter to the next where or what you will be! All I know is that someday I shall have reason to be very proud of you. You won’t let me down, now, will you?
You no doubt notice how badly my typewriter is working. It is because you are not here.
Ione summarises how she has dealt with the problem, not in as much detail as that already given in an earlier letter to the family;
Maybe you could send a spring to me with Verna – and the ring – that would make me think you were fixing it for me anyway. I don’t know what kind it is, but it’s a Remington Rand and it’s the spring that pulls the roller back as one types.
Have you heard about the new Carter twins? Gordon and Rosemary arrived last week and are both doing well, also their Mother and Father. This adds four new missionaries to our list. The Lord seems to be adding to our staff even in wartime! (So the one baby Ione had written about earlier in the year turned out to be two who arrived on the 8th June).
I presume the Ludwig’s will leave the station tomorrow or the next day. They have been here four months now. Their little baby girl is doing well, Fred has had a small operation, both have had their teeth attended to, and since they cannot go to America will return to their station to await further events. We have enjoyed very much their being here. I had hoped to go back with them, but I am quite sure that I cannot leave the Westcott’s home yet.
Dr is trying to save the life of a Greek merchant at the present time. He has been unconscious for three weeks and has required constant care. We have all had our turn in helping care for him. He may not live yet, but he did say, “Bonjour” to me this morning. He has not been able to speak before and one side is paralyzed.
We are all anxiously looking for the arrival of the two new English girls. They are due in Stanleyville July 4. We do praise the Lord for their safe journey across the Ocean. They will come here for a short time, and then it is thought the nurse will go to Boyulu. I think Jim Carter will feel the need of a nurse to help with the twins!
I can’t think of any questions, Hector. I know I should have some, but you see, I never was married and I don’t know what I should ask ahead of time. Anything you want to tell me about yourself I will be glad to know. Right now I’m mostly concerned that you take care of yourself until you get here.
Greet the Mission friends when you see them. I’ll save a little space for a note to the Titcombes. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
To the Titcombes, Ione writes:
Dear Jean and Harry,
Thank you for the little note in Hector’s last letter. It was most encouraging, to be sure. It must be a great help for Hector and the other Christian boys to have fellowship with such friends as you are to him. It seems that the time will never come for Hector to sail, but we know that this War will stop when he wills it. In the meantime there is much work to do. The Lord has been blessing and souls are being saved continually here. Just this week a native evangelist who is still in training class brought a new convert to Mr Jenkinson; he had led him to the Lord. Nurse Hiles and I are able to read and pray daily with our two houseboys now and it is so refreshing to see them voluntarily bring their Bangala Bibles into our dining room. Last Sunday something thrilled me. I have been teaching a Sunday School class of small boys who have hitherto called me the Mademoiselle who has come to teach them. On that day two of them prayed voluntarily and one said, “And dear Lord, bless Mama Reed,” –the first time they have called me Mama – a term far more endearing than Mademoiselle! I’m sure I would rather be a mama than a mademoiselle any day! Wouldn’t you? You must have had many happy times since you became Mrs Titcombe and the husband of Mrs Titcombe. May the Lord ever bless you thus. In Christ, Ione
About a year after starting to write to Ione; Hector writes on 25th June 1943:
“My Beloved & Longed for:
To my Love with All my Love
It is almost a year to the day since I started writing to you and how precious these past months have been. No one is more fortunate than I am. You, my dear, have fulfilled every ideal of your mother & every dream I’ve had. Distance apart shouldn’t mean much to us when we’re sure of God’s will; nevertheless you need protection & companionship & I need a girl just like you. X
One of the lads tonight was asking me if I were not worried when I didn’t hear from you. So I had a good chance to tell him the difference between worry and concern. How much better to pray than to worry. I read something the other day from a worm-eaten book Mr Goodman took from Brazil, called “Life’s Dusty Way”. Two buckets were used to take water from a well. As they met one complained. “No matter how full I go up, I always come down empty”; The next time they met the other optimistically replied, “No matter how empty I go down I always come up full”. So just believe me that I do enjoy writing to you because I’m sure of your affection, tho’ occasionally expressed. Someday a nice “full” letter will reach me.”
Once again, Hector has been to Philadelphia and stayed with the Pudneys:
“Of course, you must hear something of the visit to Philadelphia. I was delayed for about 10 hrs. in Montreal, due to border regulations, and had to wire Mrs Pudney for $13. But the disappointment was smoothed over when I had the joy of seeing Madam Chang Kai Chek at the station. She evidently was on her way to Washington & had a special coach on the same train as I went in.
New York was a welcome sight once more. Sweet Memories!!! I got in to Phila in time for dinner on Friday. Mrs Pudney was glad to see the lovely big photo of you & was she full of questions! In the afternoon we went to the Zoo – interesting, fascinating, intriguing (these are some of Butterfield’s suggestive words. He used to work in a newspaper.) Then home for supper & down to see Dorothy Coe off to Toronto. Since we were down town Mrs Pudney & I walked over to the “Trans-Lux” where they have a news film which is quite educational. It was still quite light when we came out & it was good to see more of the city. She enjoyed seeing me salute some of the American Officers.
Mrs Pudney was smoother than ever this time. We had several confidential talks. She spoke once more of the fact that never before had she done any matchmaking. She answered the questions, “Why in this case?” by saying that she saw two lives that would otherwise be ruined. So we must be meant for each other. She is already making suggestions for a wedding, so much so that she even took me to one on Saturday evening where a young Christian couple were joined in heart & hand. It was a double ring ceremony. John & Susan Stevenson were both with us & afterwards he lamented that they had left out the bride’s promise to obey her husband. He is ever so comical & keeps us in good humor. He was telling me about his conversion from Roman Catholicism, as we were hiking at the Wissahickon on Sat. afternoon. He has had wonderful contacts with RC’s since then & lately two lads were converted.
You may be sure I spent plenty of time looking around Wissahickon for familiar spots, but was surprised to recall so few. I guess I must have been looking at you most of the time. It was a good thing Pearl was with us that day or we might never have returned.
I was in special search of that rather steep decent where after a few faltering moments, I even dared to hold your arm. I can still appreciate its delicate warmth & tender dependence. I guess this is part of the mystery, “The way of a man with a maid”.
On Sunday we went over to Alden Union Church. I had my license for driving so we used the car. And did I enjoy hearing Mr Dean again! He spoke on “Grace & Peace be multiplied unto you thro’ the knowledge of God & of Jesus our Lord”. It seems the other key to real Christian living is feeding on the Word & then feeding others with it. The singing was animating as usual & you’ll remember how they join in responsive reading. I’ve never heard anything quite like it.
Do you know what Mrs Dean said when Mrs Pudney introduced me to her & told her that I was interested in Ione Reed?…Her face brightened up & very spontaneously she said, ”She is such a lovely girl!” Mrs Pudney just had to break in with the remark that I enjoyed hearing comments like that. It was good to see the Robertson’s, especially Lillie. It was a good thing for you that we were in church because she said she’d kiss me if we weren’t. I was amazed & thrilled to hear her say that she prays for me every night.
Probably you remember Esther Meyer. She is Mrs P’s special friend whom they hoped to have as secretary. She is deaconess out at the church & doing a fine work. Mrs P showed her your diamond ring a few weeks ago & she’s ever so glad about it all. (I still love to hold it in the sunlight & count the colours.)
We had such good fun in the mission home. Would you believe that for about a year after I left Phila that I was under false accusation? Mrs Pudney never could find their wedding picture. And since Hector had it last when he took all those inside snaps of the rooms; he would be a good victim for the blame. After hearing so much about it, I almost persuaded myself that I had lost it. But by some good fortune it happened that the lower left hand door of the dining room buffet was opened a few months ago and there was the wedding picture. Whoever put it there must have had a slight lapse of their mental capacity (probably the same one that hid my doughnuts). (A long standing joke/ prank played out between Hector and Ione)
That front room on the third floor has the loveliest furniture in it now. The bed is a brown finish with very dainty corner posts. The dressing table has a heavy marble top and a large mirror that has framed the most pleasing of all gracious women. Surely you understand that they have moved this furniture from its original setting in the middle room. I used to like to be assigned duties there, because it was Ione’s room. Why didn’t I tell you then that I loved you? X?
This is almost the last space to be filled in. You know what I would like to send you but as one censor wrote to a girl, “I’ve had to destroy the letter but your boyfriend sent you kisses, about a million, I think”. At any rate I’ve started with your family. Even when I said good bye to Marcellyn (I don’t know what Herbie thought). And there is so much in your mother’s embrace. I’d love to leave 106 Preston Ave. every day. With all my Love, Hector X
PS: I took your movie camera back with me. Now to get films!!
Then in July 1943, Hector sends a short letter to accompany his birthday gifts for her:
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” Heb. 4:5
Just a short letter this time along with these birthday gifts. One side of the bracelet has 28+27 links on one side, and 28+28 on the other (our ages between July 16 & Aug 17). Now you count them.
I wonder where you are tonight. I imagine you must be rather weary sometimes, so I ask the Lord several times a day to strengthen you.
The other afternoon during our 15 minute break period (or recess), I went into a secluded spot in the shop and prayed for you. Later an unsaved lad asked me where I was, & I told him; also what I’d been doing. He said, “Why don’t you pray out in the open like Daniel use to?” He said too that he thought he needed prayer more than you. All the boys are so interested in you. I have your picture a way up on my locker door in the barrack room and when anyone wants to rest their eyes they look that way. When I do actually get a letter from you, I’m afraid they will all want to read it.
There is a lovely station here & I like the work. Many opportunities are afforded daily to talk of spiritual matters. I was working with Butterfield the other day & after quite a conversation he said he wished he had faith to believe all these things. So I told him your mother’s verse, “Faith cometh by hearing the Word of God.”
The sun is down; the air is still, the birds are farewelling, the ¾ moon is up; so I better leave this cozy nook in the forest and get back to camp. May your heart beats remind you of the Lord’s continued Mercy and my constant Love,
X multiplied by 29 (one for each year!)
In July 1943, Ione joins Viola Walker on a ‘trek’ through the jungle to meet the Basali people and preach the gospel. Ione writes a graphic and detailed letter home to her church friends:
Dear Friends in Christ:
Beside a Congo mud house, the Lord is very near. The birds call in rich, clear tones, the black children are playing around the fires; the men and women are working in their peanut gardens; a one-legged hen and her five chicks are standing and staring at me in the same manner as did the black forest farmers when we arrived. I have just finished praying for the 60 former Moody students on my prayer list for today; I found a promise for them: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice, and they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, your God… will come and save you.”
This is the wet season, not too good a time to be walking through these woods, but Miss Walker and I have a great time climbing, sliding, and splashing along the trail. Only twice has my foot slipped and let me down, but it was more fun after my feet were wet than before, for I stopped wondering whether they would get wet! We spent two nights at Bate’s village, the first of our Basali itinerary. The leading Christian’s name sounds like Varsity. He made us very welcome, generating a warm ‘alma mater’ spirit. On the journey to Dunda’s village we stopped at a tiny house with a bleached pole fence in front. An old lady ran out clapping her hands and I noticed one thumb was gone. We went in and met her son who was ill. She told us smiling that they were both Christians and had moved to this present house during his illness so that they could be near Dunda’s village. The Christians would help them, she added. It was refreshing to stop with them a few moments.
Dunda met us when we were nearly there. He was dressed in grey trousers and a spotless white shirt; he was barefoot, and his dimpled, effeminate, refined, beaming face reflected the sunlight rays spreckling down from the tall trees. He waited quietly at the bend of the path and then stretched out his hands to greet us. It was a thrill to discover that I could understand Bangala so easily, but I should know it somewhat after being in Africa 1-1/2 years. I have learned to recognize a few words of their Libua vernacular.
At Anziembo’s village the moon had grown to a full moon in all of its shimmering whiteness. The song-birds reluctantly went to sleep, but the natives had planned an all-night festival. Ignace and his wife were celebrating the terminus of a long year’s mourning. A relation of his wife had died and she had shaved her head and put on ‘peli’ or dark, drab clothes. On this occasion of her putting on bright clothing and combing her hair, which among pagans would have been an orgy of drinking and sin, they had successfully arranged a night of prayer for the Christians. There were 125 guests present and among them were two neighbouring chieftains. During the afternoon the men of the village had gone hunting. We saw them pass our door with their picturesque spears and nets, heard their shouts and the barking of the dogs; then later they passed again with their prey, two sad-faced antelopes and a spotted simba cat. Their feast was a sight indeed – no rationing, except perhaps in sugar for their coffee! They ate roasted corn, spinach, plantain, manioc, peanuts, rice, onions, pineapple, and chicken, in addition to the wild animals they had caught. They built a dozen or more fires and a booth of palm branches and then sat about in little groups to eat, the women and men separately, the little children carrying the food to the men. As we stepped from our doorway we beheld a colourful sight: red fires, grey logs, brown faces with bright eyes and teeth, green plantain leaves blending into the black forest silhouette, and then the great white light of the moon. They sang hymns, laughed at Tony, the puppet monkey, listened quietly as Miss Walker talked about Lulu, the Hen, who died in a fire in order to save her ten chickens; then our little house helper Kibibi, age about 12, one of Miss Walker’s school girls, explained the story in Libua. We saw real understanding in their eyes as they realized by means of the feltograph just what it cost Christ to die on the Cross for us.
The two chieftains manifested a keen interest, one had said earlier in the day that he wished to accept Christ. I do not think he will yet, however, for seven reasons – his seven wives. The multiplicity of wives seems to be a great drawback in accepting Christ. One of these seven wives accepted Christ the morning that Miss Walker went to that village, but even if this one happened to be his latest and best beloved wife, and he abandoned the other six, what would become of them? One old man solved the problem. He wanted to be a Christian and had many years to ago asked a missionary to baptize him. The missionary refused because he had two wives. Time went on and he said he prayed much about this matter. And the Lord answered his prayer, too, he said for one wife died!!
We have come four days into the deep forest to what is known as the End Village, the last village on the beaten path. As you may guess, white people are a rarity here and every inch of peeking is reserved at almost any hour of the day. Perhaps you will be interested to read a bit from yesterday’s diary:
5:00 A.M. – The sound of the drum. Beaten by Ngambo, visiting teacher (he always beats it SO early!). After a little quiet time we entered the open air chapel made of poles bound together by vines. I spoke this morning on “The Colored Church,” an object lesson prepared by Rev. Arnold Carl Westphal, Children’s Shepherd, 1st Baptist Church, Michigan City, Ind., it was easily adapted to this language. Five people were among the little group, the five who had been saved the night before I sang a trio with Anziambo and Kibibi. We sang, “His Love is Wonderful to Me.”
7:00 A.M. – Breakfast – ‘pai-pai’, rice porridge, eggs and some bits of mbengi, a red animal. After breakfast we packed our bed sacks; in mine I put my folding bed and mattress, table, chair, bedding, pillow, extra shoes, literature, some extra tins of food, and wash basins. We put our writing materials and changes of clothes in a small tin trunk, our dishes and general groceries in a wooden box called the ‘chop box’. We had eight carriers – two of them fastened my bed sack to a stout pole, two others took Miss Walker’s sack; two the trunk, and two the chop box. Six little children ran along and carried the lamp and oil can alternatively. We cut up a pineapple and shared it all around to cheer the carriers. At various places people came out with food to sell. We bought 12 eggs and some tomatoes on this stretch. Upon arrival we bought two chickens, some more pineapple, some onions, and a baby pig, the latter we traded for a Bangala Bible. The pig wasn’t such a good bargain after all, for he died the next day.
1:00 P.M. – Arrived at the End Village and met Amundu, a strange-looking fellow, hardly bearing the dignity of a pedagogue. He greeted us amiably in ragged khaki shorts and a black vest, which matched his hairy arms and chest and moustache. He reminded me of his furry friends which were even then swinging and chattering and hanging by their tails in nearby parasolia trees. The difference between Amundu and his monkey neighbours is his great love for the Lord and souls, which we observed later. He ushered us into our present house in a manner befitting the occasion. The house was new and he had made it with his own hands; he had also built a sturdy bed and a pretty redwood table. He moved out his and his wife’s belongings, leaving only a few things which I felt he thought would lend atmosphere to our stay, – some reading cards hanging on a nail, a perfectly whole white china cup, a locked tin box, and a pair of brilliant purple trousers! We set up our beds and had a dinner of nice fried eggs and fresh pineapple. While the fire was hot I made some biscuits.
Oven – The fire had been made between three big stones on which had rested the cooking pans. I separated these a little, pulled the firebrands apart and set up little fires between the stones in a circle, a fire, a stone, alternatively. Then I turned a big black native clay pot upside down over the hot place in the middle. Under it I put a small smooth stone and the pan of biscuits.
5:00 P.M. – Miss Walker gave a feltograph message about the Cross, telling the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. I sang a duet with Kibibi, “All for Jesus.”
6:00 P.M. – Dinner – roast chicken, hot biscuits, and fresh wild honey (the latter tasted excellent in the twilight, but not so good in the morning when we could see the clay and baby bees in it!).
7:00 P.M. – A pleasant walk through the village, receiving a greeting from the chief, squatting among the wives back of the house, sitting on logs in front with the men while they munched their supper, then looking out into the dark forest to the darkness which still possessed the secret of what was beyond the End Village.
We are half-way through the trek now and tomorrow we’ll wind our way out of the woods. We’ll say good bye to these people with funny names, such as Knee, Rain, Profit, Will-Come-Tomorrow, Made-Room-for-Another, Her-Mother-Died-When-She-Was-Born, Thanksgiving, and their dogs with equally funny names, He-Clutters-Up-The-Village, Money-Spoils-Friends, and Box, – stopping but a short time at each place again, we’ll walk nearly to Buta where we’ll be met by an automobile. There have been 11 souls saved thus far and I do praise the Lord. When I return to the station it will be with muchly-tanned skin and many strange insect bites, but with a heart full of rejoicing.
May the Lord bless you all abundantly, Yours for Souls, Ione Reed
This is what Ione travelled from the States to do; no wonder she sounds so happy! On the 17th July, Ione writes a more personal letter to her friend Flora, thanking her Christmas card and gifts which eventually reached Ione in April, she tells Flora about the sinking of the Lashway and the loss of life and warns her friend that she may have to delay returning to the States adding:
“That is good, tho for me for I have just started doing real missionary work.”
She elaborates more on this journey with Viola:
This is my first trek. I could have gone before but was so greatly needed at the Dr’s home. Now I am enjoying it immensely for the language is no problem. I understand Bangala now and am beginning to remember a few words of their difficult Libua vernacular. They speak Bangala to us but Libua to each other. Living in their little mud houses one hears all they say to each other. We walk from place to place on a narrow forest path. We are now three days’ trek into the deep forest. Day after tomorrow we’ll go to the End Village, the last before the beaten path stops. We have some carriers set up beds, table, chairs at each place & cook over an open fire. We have a native school girl helping us. It is great fun and refreshing to be away from all white contacts.
Last night was a whole night celebration – it was full moon. It seems the teacher’s wife had us in mourning for many days. This was the time set for her to put on clothes again and rejoice. So instead of observing usual heathen customs of dances, drinking & sin, they turned it into an all-night prayer meeting. We had a special supper before. The men went hunting in the afternoon with their picturesque spears & nets, brought back two antelope and a simba ‘wild cat’ and we ate royally. They cooked spinach, corn and the fibre from palm tree nuts together for one dish, another was plantain cooked whole (they cook and taste like large bananas), manioc root or big white potatoes like starchy vegetable made into little loaves and coffee. We had peanuts & pineapple, rice, and onions. They sang and laughed at Tony, the puppet monkey, and then prayed. There were two chieftains there, one who manifested his desire to become a Christian. Miss Walker, my companion and I went to bed at about midnight, but every little while we were waked with their singing or chatting. There were about 125 there which is many for these tiny villages.
After another walk we’ll return to Buta, where we’ll be met by car and taken back to the station. I am not sure yet whether I shall be needed back at the Dr’s house. This 2 wks away is an experiment to see if Mrs W is well enough to manage without my help. If she can care for their home & children & the Dr’s work, I shall be soon released for full time work on another station.
I am well, very strong now from much walking and work that takes strong arm muscles. I am tanned, too. Someone said, “Once you have been scorched by the African sun you will never be happy elsewhere.” I’m beginning to believe it’s true. The Lord has made me very happy among these people in spite of the many inconveniences, bad insects, etc.
Please write me again soon. And don’t forget to pray. Don’t I wish we could go fishing together again sometime!
“As thou goest step by step I will
Open up the way before thee.” Prov.4:12
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
Shineth more and more into the perfect day.” Prov. 4:8
However, news of Pearl’s illness has reached the States and Mrs Pudney, as mission leaders wife writes to Pearl and Ione in a motherly fashion on 16th July 1943:
My dear Pearl and Ione,
We have been praying much about both of you. It was a great shock to hear of Pearl’s condition for things do not happen as suddenly as that unless there is absolute violence of all laws of nature. We warned you Pearl about doing too much but it must be that your schedule of work has been prohibitive, or you would not have cracked up in such a short time. We are deeply sorry for we know what a fine, brave little missionary you are and we have had excellent reports from our friends out yonder.
Ione, too, has worked hard and excellently with the Doctor’s family. We have been expecting at any time that you should be released for the work, with the home-coming of the Doctor’s family. The problems are many but I am sure that you have both proved the wonderful comfort and strength that only the Lord can give.
You will be happy to know that we had the most noble Hector recently for three days during his leave after his basic training. He sure is IN LOVE! He just thinks the whole world is enhanced by the life of a fair lady at Bongondza. He displays her picture and talks of her incessantly. I have your beautiful ring dear, hoping for someone to transport it to the rightful owner. It has been set in a modern setting, I had it done in Phila, through Verna who worked for a short time in the office of the jewellery dept., of one of our city stores. The diamond is set so that its beauty is displayed to the fullest. When I took it to Toronto to show Hector, you should have seen his face when he saw it! To think that such a thing of beauty was for the most beautiful lady! We teased him alright.
Much love, Ma Pudu (signed) Lilian G. Pudney
On the 28th July 1943, Hector sets to writing to Ione and on this day has the luxury of a whole evening. He starts by saying he would love to write every day because Ione is worthy of such attention but then adds that as the mail is not collected daily, he’ll stick to his twice a month routine and adds in a quote supporting the fact that duty carried out regularly always gets done as opposed to when there are no fixed time limits. That is why, he says, God dedicated one day a week to be set apart for worship. He had received a card from Marcellyn (Ione’s sister) who was obviously delighted with her new brother in law to be; she had written:
“Well anyway, we are satisfied that you are God’s choice and we are content. We love you as one or our own family already. And I am proud to own you as my “brother”!
The verse on the card was quite appropriate:
“May happiness find the path to your door,
And joy be a permanent quest,
And here is a hope that the coming year
Will bring you only the best. (Ione!)
Love in Him, Marcellyn & Mother Ps. 37: 4, 5
Hector writes that his father has promised him some financial help with the wedding; his sisters had received 200 dollars and Hector wonders what a son would get! The news that is uppermost in Hector’s mind and that Hector views as a Birthday Present concerns a colleague Doug Brock:
“Most of our class from Clinton is still together. One of them, Doug Brock, lived in Vancouver, BC so his wife is across the continent. He was very clever in the radio course & would have gotten a commission if one had been given out, but the Lord knew otherwise. We’ve been working together now for the past month & when we get tired of ordinary and technical matters I usually tell some stories from the Old Testament. He wanted especially to get these characters in their right order & took particular interest in Joseph.
Then one day I promised to tell him about Samson, and a day or two later (on my birthday) in the afternoon break period 3-3:15, he asked me to tell him about Samson’s haircut. After relating the story as best I could the conversation strangely turned to God’s plan of Salvation. Even after we went back to work we kept on talking. Finally he said, “Now, is this the way – we are sinners; God loved us enough to send Christ to die for us, and we just believe it. Is that all there is to it?” and his face lit up with joy. When I began referring him to the scriptures he seemed to realize his need at once & said, “Well I better start reading the Bible.”
That evening I remembered a Gideon New T. which was given to me in Pontiac when Herbie & I were at a printing office. So the next morning I gave it to him; since his bed is right next to mine. He left that day for a weekend & when he returned I learned that he had been reading to some of the other boys from the Sermon on the Mount. He said he had a few questions to ask; so now we have Bible study in our break periods, while most of the other fellows are in the smoking room. He had started right at the first & we reviewed the first few chapters. Now he reads & explains it & I’m telling you it’s a treat to hear the way he has a grasp of the Truth. He asked me if it would be alright to mark outstanding verses with a red pencil. These last two days he’s been working in another shop on a little job but still continues to read. Tonight before I came over to my woody nook in Sunshine Corner he said, “See what I’ve been reading today.” And he had Matt. 11:28 underlined & some in chapter 12, such as, “He that is not with me is against me.” Isn’t it wonderful to see a soul growing. He loves to read it consecutively & get everything in context. I told him I was going to write to you tonight & tell you about our Bible Study. He writes home to his wife & tells her what we’ve been reading.
Next time I write, I’ll tell you about the events of this past week end.
I would rather keep on writing to you dear but I must keep some space for sending my love. Shall I express it this way, “I am yours alone.” X Hector
Hector’s next letter on the 11th August 1943 from Scoudouc, New Brunswick is to Ione’s mother:
Dear Mrs Reed:
Your kindly gift finally caught up with me. I was away from here for a week on temporary duty so that explains the delay.
You may be sure it is greatly appreciated. I can almost picture you choosing it. The title is quite outstanding. As soon as I got into the barrack room the boys wanted to know what it was, so I told them it was a book on “Prayer – Asking and Receiving”.
I heard this John Rice when he was at People’s Church in Toronto, and enjoyed his straight-forward, heart-searching messages. I know this book will be a real blessing in these days of so much unbelief. I have already gotten well started in it.
I’ll be writing to Ione on the week end, so I can tell her about it. I’m still longing to hear from her. Every so often I read over some of the old letters to see if I can find any shade of meaning previously over-looked, and that seems to smooth over the yearning feeling. How I long for the day to look once more into that lovely face! I trust, that will not be too far distant.
How are your plans for the autumn being fulfilled? I’m sure you’ve enjoyed having Herbie with you. At least that’s what I understood from Marcellyn’s letter. I still have sweet memories of those last few days we all spent so happily together.
Well, Mrs Reed, I must close for this time. I can never tell you all that your friendship means to me. It puts a new meaning in my life. Thanks once more for your remembrance of my birthday. Love and Prayer, Hector
Keeping to his fortnightly routine, Hector writes to Ione on 15th August 1943:
I have a cablegram on the desk beside me & hope to send it today when I go in to Moncton. I had quite a time choosing a scripture reference that would encourage your heart. But this one seemed the most appropriate since it mentions “you & I” X
There are quite a few interesting things to tell this time. One is about the strong wind up the coast of Canada. A guard was outside the building on duty when a storm started. The wind backed him up against the wall & held him there until he froze to death. What a country!
Another is about an airman talking to a lad on the street in Detroit. By way of opening the conversation he asked him how long a boy’s legs should be. After a moment’s thought he answered, “Well, they should be long enough to reach the ground.” – Smart Americans! I’ll save the other one for the end of the letter just to make sure you read it all !!! X
The day after I wrote your last letter, Doug Brock & I were sent down with a party to Nova Scotia. I was praying the Lord would send us out together. And He did. We had a grand time for a week. Doug is such a sweet natured chap with nice blue eyes. He’s almost finished Mark now & enjoying it so much.
Last Sunday evening I had a two hour talk with a fellow very much addicted to drink. He’s been in Christian Science most of his life & it took a lot of Truth to bring him down to facts. In his own words he finally said, “Well, I’ll admit my way is screwy.” He naturally hates talking about spiritual things, but since he has been with me over a year now he has seen a new side of a Christian’s life & told me he has never seen anyone else live what they believe. So he too, is becoming honest with the Lord.
Then just on Friday evening I had a talk with Butterfield. It’s so good to be on duty when the Lord is dealing with them. I know that the fruit will be coming soon when I am ready to claim these souls for the Saviour, & to show you why, I’ll tell you something else which will please your little heart. Your own precious mother sent a book for my birthday but it just reached me the other day. She is such a dear! How could I get along without her now? The book is by John Rice, from the Southern States. He gave it the attractive title, “Prayer – Asking & Receiving.” What a revelation of the power at our disposal. I’m up to about page 60 now and already it has begun to revolutionize my communication with God. He says most praying people are like the ladies going out to “window shop”. They spend hours doing it and bring nothing home. Whereas a man goes into a shoe store, gives the clerk the size, number and colour, tries them on, gets the old ones wrapped up, pays the bill & comes home – 10 minutes.
We say so many nice things to God; but ask for nothing and get just that.
Marcellyn has written again telling me about her preparation for college. She & Herbie are becoming quite interested in each other but they both want to be sure of the Lord’s will and thus avoid any mistakes and broken hearts.
I promised to tell you about a week end trip I had last month. There is a family in Moncton and one of the boys married my sister Irene. I was in there at the home on my 48-hour pass. We got two bicycles and Stan & I went out of town about 6 miles to see the “Magnetic Hill”. It’s a rare phenomenon. From one spot near a house you look down into an apparent valley where a white post stands by the road side. Stan told me that the white post was higher than the house. So we started down the hill but strangely enough we had to pedal. I notice water in the ditch flowing toward us. And then we looked back, saw the house down below our eye level & coasted down or up, I don’t yet know which. It is an optical illusion! Maybe we’ll go there on our honeymoon, if you come home before I go out to Africa.
So this Tuesday is your birthday. Wouldn’t I just love to be at your party. I’d help you blow out all those candles. Do you know dear, I like to look at people on the streets of the various cities, and I often try to pick out someone that looks & acts like you, but there is no one. “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.” Prov. 31:29. And to know that you are my own.
Now about the farmer. His son went to the city and got a job with a shoemaker. Now the farmer makes hay while the son shines!
Your Lover X Hector
To celebrate Ione’s Birthday, Hector sends a cable gram on 16th August 1943:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREETINGS LETTERS GOING REGULARLY HOPING FOR ANSWER ROMANS ONE NINE TO TWELVE LOVE – MCMILLAN.
Romans 1:9-12New International Version (NIV)
God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Besides writing to Ione; Hector is in regular correspondence with his own family, in particular Florence. This letter is included as Hector refers to Ione:
“What do you know!? I finally had a letter from my “Beloved”. It was written June 20th and took about two months to get here. But it was well worth receiving. What a wonderful true partner the Lord has chosen for me.
The promise she drew from the promise box was Rom. 4:28 – literally “Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed”. So that is what we both have to do until I get out to the field.
She spoke about all the letters she’s been getting and especially describing the ring. How I wish she could have it out there! She is very sure of the Lord’s will for us. Quote…
”When I think of the future with you, it spells satisfaction, peace of mind, comfort, laughs, real companionship with someone who will always understand. Most of all, it means a consummation of God’s will for me. He said He would bring “it” to pass; He said He would not withhold one good thing from me; also “that all things work together for good to them that are called” and He knows that I can never do all this work by myself. He promised me that I would abound to every good work, but when He found that I wasn’t big enough to do the work, He provided someone to do it so that I could just help. I came out here as a ‘helper’ you remember. By His grace I would like to continue as such, provided I can be your ‘helper’. Have I ever told you that I love you?”
I had asked her to think up some questions to ask me but she said she, “should have some, but you see I never was married and I don’t know what I should ask ahead of time”.
She told about a joke that reminded her of my army life.
Sentry – Halt, who goes there?
Voice in the dark – Cook, with doughnuts for breakfast.
Sentry – Pass, cook. Halt, doughnuts.
She is full of fun that I long to be with her again. Pray for the Lord’s undertaking. She asks us to “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into His harvest.”
Hector’s concern for others is evident in the final two paragraphs of this letter:
“Well, Florence, I’ll be glad to hear from you again. Do write Mrs Reed (106 Preston Ave. Pontiac, Mich.). Marcellyn is leaving in a few weeks to go to school and her mother will be so lonely. So if you haven’t done so before just take an hour off and do that even if I have to go without for a few weeks.
I’m happy in the Lord and enjoying his tender guidance. Even today He checked me on something I was going to do and for about an hour I was rather depressed and I knew I had grieved Him, so I quickly gave up the thing and was restored to His Fellowship. It’s worth everything. Love and Prayers, Hector”
Hector writes again to Mrs Reed on 19th August and determines to adopt the same strategy he uses with Ione and write twice a month on the weeks he isn’t writing to Ione. The book Mrs Reed sent Hector for his birthday is making an impact and Hector says:
“Your book is doing more for me than you realize. I’ve just come to the place where I need to learn how to pray. There are so many promises for us to claim & we can trust the Lord to do what He has said.
He abundantly blesses my daily life but it must be in answer to the prayers of others.
You have a very faithful daughter in Africa. She finally wrote to her yearning lover. And what a letter! I’d wait a year for such a message. I’d send it to you only I haven’t it all memorized yet.
It was written June 20th and took all of two months to get here. I can tell you a few things that I know will satisfy your heart.
Next to the joy of being a Christian, is that afforded by the Reed family. I’ve even let some of the boys here (that know me quite well), read Ione’s letter and they said it surely was genuine. How can I help but love her after such a message! If I could have a partner made to order she would be exactly like Ione.”
Despite Hector’s efforts of letter writing routinely; it is evident the letters do not arrive routinely. Ione’s letter of the 2oth August 1943 confirms this as she states:
Nearly three months passed before any of your letters came through; then they came in twos every week until yesterday when your cable arrived. How thoughtful you are, and how happy you made me on my birthday. Your picture and the bracelet and handkerchief arrived the mail day before my birthday and the cable the mail day just after; it made me feel as tho’ my birthday lasted one week instead of one day. You must have planned very carefully and I am not deserving of it, for your birthday was not even remembered. I’m so sorry.
The bracelet is lovely and I wear it all of the time. Whenever I look at it, which is often, I find myself thinking of you and longing to see you. I wear the kiss side down because that side is closest to me. I try to make Pearl think I am in need of identification all of the time; she asked me if I intended to wear it even when I go to the Doctor’s house to work. “Of course,” I said, “One never knows – I might drop dead on the way and need identifying!” She laughed, but I think she knows WHY I wear it. The hankie is so pretty. You may see me wearing it on my hair or some place when I get married. Did you know I was going to get married? Your picture is the best present of all; it is so good of you, the nicest you have sent me yet. Thank you so much for giving me such a Happy Birthday.
Mr Butterfield’s drawing is excellent. Will you tell my thank you to him if you see him? He has done it cleverly and accurately. I wish you could reach that far across the globe. But God will provide some way, I am sure. I am not nearly so anxious for the ring as for the giver! Your cable made me feel you were nearer, especially so as I read Rom. 1:9-12 – “if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” I don’t see how Effie (Effie is a mutual friend who is hoping to go to Brazil as a missionary) can wait eight years, but of course the Lord has given her grace. He would me, too, I am sure, but it seems that I could NEVER wait that long.
Oh, I must tell you that according to my figures, I am really 30 and not 29. I was born in 1913, so it must be true, I think now I shall just stay 30 for at least five years; women do that sometimes, you know! It helps when you’re nearing forty.
There are so many things about what you do from time to time that thrill me so. Your contacts with my family are so satisfying to hear about. I know Mother must be very happy, for you’re just the son-in-law that she’s longed and longed for (me, too). And your frequent visits help them I am sure.
Thank you for sending me the picture of myself. It’s rather refreshing to see myself as I used to look. You should see me now! You know, my hair is really quite straight after all, and there is a handful of white (1-1/2 yrs. growth!) which I shall someday pull out and label, “Because I needed Hector”, but perhaps you will recognize me.
I was so glad to have a note from your sister Irene. I want to meet her; she seems such an interesting person. I like to hear a sister talk that way about her brother. I will try to send her a letter soon. Do you have any spare snapshots of your family?
Perhaps you have recalled my mentioning Charlotte, the smallest Westcott girl. She is 5, now. She says such cute things and when she heard you and I were engaged, she sang a funny little song. It was supposed to be sung, “Needles and pins, needles and pins, when a man’s married his trouble begins,” but she graciously changed it to, “Needles and pins, needles and pins, when Hector’s married his fun begins.” I think she must know that you’d have fun wherever you go and whatever you do, if you can lay down like a dog, as I told her.
Yesterday as I was walking up our hill to our house after the early morning village meeting (I have one every morning now!) I tho’t our little cottage looked so nice and secretly wished it were ours. I had four dreams about you in recent months. Their sequence was rather uncanny. 1. I could only look at you from a distance; you were just in sight but never saw me and never heard me when I called. 2. I was attending a summer conference and slept a little distance from the meeting place; had to go thru a piece of forest each day. One morning when I came out of my house the forest had grown up very thick and I tried to push thru and then I discovered that someone on a wagon had been cutting down bushes and putting them in the wagon; he was dressed in work clothes; a nice path had been cleared. I called to the man in the wagon and said, “Thank you, are you going to the meeting now?” He said, “Oh, no, I just cut the path for the other fellow; he’s waiting for you.” And I looked and there was Geo. Kissinger, you remember he visited at the Phil. home. I stopped walking then, and looked up at the man who had cut the path – and it was you! 4. Two nights ago the best dream of all came, it was the first time that you and I were walking together. You had been with a company of other people, and you looked back and saw me and then turned and ran to where I was, and then we walked for a long while. Dreams are strange, and sometimes too unsatisfactory. I’m looking forward to when I don’t have to just dream about you.
To give you an account of what I have been doing: I have conducted over 100 meetings since Jan. and am happy to have my missionary schedule constantly increased and the house work one diminished, as Mrs Westcott is more able to take over her own family duties. They gave me three weeks’ vacation in July; I rested one week, and then went trekking for two with Viola Walker, a most delightful experience (as seen in an eloquent letter quoted above). You will receive a copy of my trek letter, D.V. (God willing) When I returned, Mrs W. was ill so I took over full-time duties immediately. (Ione does not elaborate on the impact this must have had for her). Then after about a week, they granted me half day to do mission work, and I am able to stick to this somewhat, depending on Dr’s calls out when I must be there full time, and sometimes night and day. My increased missionary schedule includes a daily singing class for the evangelists’ class as well as one day a week teaching them methods in giving messages. I have hospital meetings and visitation twice a week and a boys’ Sunday school. I have inserted a Saturday ping-pong round with Joan Pengilly as a very necessary part of my program, too. We’re hoping to hold a championship meet with Dr and Kinso tomorrow. This week I have had the happy privilege of leading two souls to Christ. I tell you there is no greater joy.
We watched the eclipse of the moon last Sunday. It was interesting to hear the natives comment; some said something was eating the moon; others said it was just hiding. Dr’s houseboy volunteered the information that when the moon acts that way it is a sign that a great man will die. I asked him whom he meant by a great man. He said, “Someone who has, say – about 20 wives!”
My constant prayer for you is that you will always keep true. I read in a Keswick message by Dr Graham Scroggie a striking phrase – “He chooses, and then He bruises, and then He uses.”
Loving you with ALL my heart, Ione
Ione’s letter written on the 20th June 1943 (see above) finally reaches Hector on 18th August 1943. Hector responds on the 27th August as follows:
Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
Indeed He can. Your priceless letter of June 20th arrived Aug 18. The time, up until then, was much like a wilderness, but what a feast of good things I could hardly read it I was so thrilled. Everyone rejoiced with me. I wrote and told your mother I would like to send your letter along but that I didn’t have it all memorized. It is so precious. I’ve had it with me ever since, in my New Testament.
Now to answer it.
The question of my getting out to the field is full of “whens” and “hows”. It seems so like a dream to think of someday actually being on my way to Stanleyville and yet who knows how soon.
Your reference to the cablegram recalls the day and hour I received it. Never shall it be forgotten. I’ve quoted Ruth 1:16 to more people. Bless your heart for such tender love so sweetly expressed. How I long to see once again the wondrous depths of your eyes, the perfect oval of your face, the sensitive lips. These are the things which charm me. There is no one like Ione Reed X.
Thanks for the permission to (someday) hold your hand. It’s a remote temptation.
Your scriptural reasoning for our life partnership is so logical that it would convince even that red headed lad of whom you wrote so eloquent a poem! Very, very gradually the Lord brings “it” to pass. I am so confident that we will be a help to each other. I’ll have to learn to depend upon you spiritually, morally, and socially. Probably the latter could be mentioned especially. How you do carry off the colours! Do you know what Mr Pudney said! “I’ve never heard Ione say anything out of place or do anything wrong.” Now don’t you feel better? Maybe he never washed dishes with you. That’s when you had your weak moments and gave me talking material for that muffin proposition.
I can feel the press of your hand as you ask, “You won’t let me down now, will you?” If there is anything that can be done to give you reason to be proud of me, it shall be done. As a basis for character; Mrs Pudney recommended reading “John Halifax – Gentleman” and how I did enjoy it while up at the cottage last summer. Just tonight I finished a book, “A Strong Man’s Now”. He was such a genuine gentleman and so strong in every way. He just naturally came through a victor. But not likely in the final analysis, if his sweetheart followed the counsel of an older woman,
“Look ‘ere my dear, if ever you do get married, begin as you do main to hould out. Men must always do as they be touled. Ef you doan’t git ‘em into that way, there’s no living with ‘em. The first year, I was married Eli wanted to be master; but I just beginned as I mained to hould out, and at the end of the year ‘ees gittin his. That’s the saicret of married happiness.”
And how strong men fall for it.
I spent a lot of time thinking up all sorts of things that will make you happy and incidentally to show you that I love you. A perfect love casts out fear. A courtship without jealousy is a rarity, but you need never entertain a thought of my affections wandering. The searchlight beam of love is pencilled in one direction only. Right to a little hut in Africa and nestles right down beside your heart.
“I’ll give my heart to my lady’s keeping and ever her strength on mine shall lean; and the stars shall fall and the angels be weeping, ere I cease to love her, my queen, my queen.”
Spurgeon said, “If my son were called to be a missionary, I should not want him to descend to the throne of a king. So that’s one better than being a queen. But I still like to call you Princess.
No doubt you’ll be glad when I take my nice new typewriter to the field. Having two in the family will mean that we can repair one while using the other. Your typewriter suggestions by that time will be legion – red and green lights flashing, enclosed radio – a system for air cooling the operator, etc…
I know the Titcombes will appreciate the letter. I heard from them just lately.
I enjoyed a 48 last weekend and visited some folks in St. John. Two maiden ladies invited me to go to church with them and afterwards took me to dinner. They wanted me to tell you about it.
Butterfield wants to send you a picture so I’ve consented to pose for him. Don’t take the situation too seriously.
Marcellyn said that your mother hated to see her leave for college; so it helped fill the vacancy. I’ve promised to write to her on the 7th & 21st of each month; so you can see how occupied I am with this wonderful Reed family. One evening when we were coming from church (the last time I was in Pontiac) Marcellyn & Herbie were walking ahead so your mother slipped her arm around mine and I realized how her heart longs for friendship. She’s such a dear. That’s where Ione gets her mellowness. Must close now beloved, committing you to Him. (Acts. 20:32) X Much love, Hector
Acts 20:32 New International Version (NIV)
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
On August 30th 1943, Ione writes two letters; the first is to a friend Marjorie Baker:
Your very interesting letter reached me through the kindness of my friend in Muskegon, Miss Evelyn Ankarberg, 1757 Schuyler. She is responsible for getting out an occasional form letter. The enclosed letter was printed on a funny little portable duplicator called a menucator. One must run a roller across each sheet. It is rather tedious, but I tho’t it worth the trouble to send a letter directly from here. All of my typing now is done by means of a pulley contraption which acts as a lever to pull the roller on the typewriter since the spring is broken. I am not sure when I can get another one out here. If you think of it, would you like to ask Mr Backenstose if he thinks it is possible. And —- if possible, would you like to make an attempt to send one or two, and the bill for them. That’s asking a lot all in one paragraph!
I enjoyed reading of the grand rubber digging in Pontiac of which you spoke in your letter. I remember the place and can imagine what a commotion it all caused. News from Pontiac is very precious out here. Write again soon if you can, directly here. When you see Louise Goodsell again, give her my greetings.
It is nearly two years now since I last saw you. Much has happened, here, as well as there, I am sure. The war involving U.S. began just ten days before we sailed and we made the journey in blackout, the first American boat to enter the Congo River in this way. Then on its next trip that boat was sunk, and now all of the boats of that line are sunk! I don’t think I’ll come back very soon! We are quite safe and comfortable here. There is air service about 150 miles from here in case one wants to move in a hurry, but I don’t think it will be necessary.
I am keeping well; have had only one attack of malaria and one filaria (filariasis is the medical term for this parasitic disease of which there are three types. The subcutaneous type is caused by the loa loa or eye worm which is deposited into the skin by mosquitos. Lymphatic filariasis is known as elephantiasis. In an earlier letter, Ione describes how the doctor removes one from his daughter, Anne’s eye.), a little worm that enters the body by means of a kinga fly and the worm moves about causing swellings and itching. It is only visible when it crosses the eyeball and can be removed then by a delicate operation, but most folk prefer the worm. There are very few missionaries who do not get them from time to time as the flies are common. We have screens which help some. The station school teacher who lives next door found a huge snake in her chicken house two days ago. Her native helper killed it, but he could not use a knife, for it jumped so high and swelled to immense proportions. He used a long stick and beat it to death while it was cornered in the chicken house. It took a long time to kill it. We watched, not too closely, as you may well imagine! It measured 7 ft. 6 in.
Please write me at any time. And don’t forget to pray for us. Lovingly in Christ, Ione Reed
The second letter is to Grace and Joe, good friends as the tone is conversational and informal:
Just a note to enclose with the form letter. I don’t think I have thanked you for the carbon paper which you sent to me. It arrived in good shape and I am using it already, and my other was gone. That was so thoughtful of you. I enjoyed your letter, too, the one written last September.
You asked if we had a real live cat here, and it is so. I don’t know where they came from, but there is a nice big papa cat named Blackie, a kind like your Mickie used to be on Willow Ave., only Blackie is black, needless to say! Then there is a nice soft grey mother cat named Smokey and she is either going to have or has kittens all the time, the nicest little kittens, too. Sometimes they arrive in a rolled up rug, and one time she put one in my shoe. Another time in the bed of the Westcott girl. Most of them are drowned or are given to the natives. At the Doctor’s house we have three generations, Blackie, Midnight, and Buster or better known as Moocher. At Jenkinson’s house lives Smokey and her grown-up bad boy named Spooks, who jumps in the middle of tea-trays and mantles with ivory pieces on. We found him patting a snake the other day, not in the least frightened. The snake seemed to be hypnotized altho’ it was twice the length of the cat!
Brandt will soon be 15! It doesn’t seem possible. And Marcellyn must be 7. I would love to see them. Do you have any recent snaps of them?
You must be very busy with your various war activities. And Joe, too. What is his official title now?
I did receive a lovely letter from Miss Parker. That was nice of her to write to me. I should like very much to meet her.
I had a letter from Jack Reed. He didn’t say where he was, but since your letter gave me the information, I could place him. He is northeast of us about 2,000 miles. Wish I could hop over and see him. There are air connections, but pretty much reserved for ‘the duration’. I am glad to know Marian’s name now. Could you give me her address?
The thin paper you gave me is holding out yet. It is fine for Airmails. There is one thing I have been wondering if I could obtain, envelopes without ‘stick-um’ on! This climate seals everything tight with glue on and it would be to my advantage to have none at all and to seal with paste. They would be especially good, too, for sending unsealed form letters.
Mrs Westcott is better now and is walking and doing some of her own work, after five years! She has had 16 operations and TB. Eleven of the operations were performed during the last seven years by her Doctor husband, one of the most recent a difficult mastoid one. She suffers yet from sinusitis. She is a beautiful woman of 39 and her three children are lovely, the youngest has a complexion like Marcellyn. She is 5-1/2; never saw her Mother walk until a few months ago.
I am giving them part time help with planning of meals and managing the children. Then the rest of the time I am teaching and holding village meetings. I have a class of teachers that I am teaching to teach music, a group of 30 boys beside, about 100 hospital patients twice a week, and I walk up and down the main road holding services in their funny little native villages. It is most interesting and fascinating.
Please write me again when you have time. I have not heard any news from my family recently. You know Doris was married, perhaps. Last Nov. she married a soldier boy out in Calif. I do not know him, but trust he will be good to her; she’s such a kid yet! I became engaged last May to a would-be missionary who is in the Canadian Airforce. I met him at the mission home in Toronto where he was candidating for Brazil. He could not get out to Brazil after that and soon after I arrived here he wrote me telling me that he would be coming out here. We’ve been writing ever since and the diamond is supposed to be on its way by now. He’s a nice good-natured fellow named Hector McMillan. I spent a month in the Toronto U.F.M. home while he was there, and about three weeks in Philadelphia at the home there. I liked him a lot then, but didn’t think he would get out here. I still don’t know when he’ll come, for he is pretty much occupied now. He’s radio technician. Will give you the further developments later!
I hope you are all well and have enough in the midst of present rationing. Love in Christ, Ione
On the 12th September 1943, Hector, stationed at Fox River, Gaspe Peninsular, Quebec, writes to Ione:
Isn’t it grand to have the typewriter again?
I asked Mr Goodman (Canadian General Secretary to the UFM) to send it to Scoudouc, thinking that I would be there steadily. The very next day after I sent the letter two of us were asked to go down to Cape Breton for a week. I just returned from there when another fellow and I were shipped up here for a few days. So on the way through I picked up the typewriter and this is the result. Last evening I gave it quite an overhaul and it is really in ship shape now.
Do you know my dear that I was part way out to see you last week? It was grand to be so near Africa. It must have been the thought of not being able to go all the way that made me seasick. Regardless of the cause I was still a victim of the result. This is the story.
It was necessary that we had to stay in a private home in Glace Bay, so we had quite a lot of liberty. The corporal that I was with is a great lad and since we often have to work in the evening he felt inclined to give me the day off to go out with the men who catch swordfish. There is quite a fleet at the Bay and the day previous I walked up town with an old fisherman that asked me to come along if I could. He had been the operator of a boat since he was 18 and at present has the biggest boat of the lot. He was practically brought up on the sea and told me the amazing fact that he gets land sick if he is on it for more than a week. They walk along the street as if they expect any minute that it is going to start rocking from side to side.
So at 7 o’clock I was down at the dock and looked up the boat by the name of George Beulah (his two children). After a time it was our turn to edge our way out of the forest of masts and head out to sea. I was going to be a real sea man. Right up at the prow I stood for a while, then I sat down and watched the waves roll and tumble. The sea had now settled down from the wind of the day before. These boats have a long catwalk projecting out in front where the captain stands with the harpoon at hand. Three or four men are up in the crow’s nest scanning the sea for the sight of a projecting sword. A lad in Airforce uniform searches his mind to find from his knowledge of medical science the cause of the unbalance of his internal anatomy. He doesn’t feel quite so well. Probably a prostrate position would alleviate the distress. Deep breathing gave some comfort, but….Would the inevitable come? It is common knowledge that people have lost their dental plates, in sympathy with fish who are not able to afford a dental appointment. Picture the ocean floor strewn with dentures that are fit for neither man nor beast.
And so the teeth are slyly removed and placed in a safer pocket.
Without any warning to either the man or the fish; they gain what he loses.
It were but one attack it would be worth the struggle. But to have the same procedure with no results. The old cook comes up from the hold and offers the lad a sort of cushion. He still knows enough to put it under his head. Time, space, friends, even the sweetheart is forgotten, just groaning petitions for the Lord’s mercy. But death stands aloof, disdaining to seize the helpless victim. What a burden it has become to be forced to live. Hours pass. The men occasionally draw near, cast a glance and pass on. Twenty miles out to sea the boat makes wide circle and begins the search for….. (deleted for security reasons)
Finally a last vicious spouting ends the blockade; land is in sight and I got well as quickly as I got sick. It seemed like a nightmare. Of course the sea was quieter now. I even dared to walk out where the captain had been standing all day. As we came into port the people lined the wharf to see the luck that the various boats had had. But none of them knew what I passed through between the hours of dawn and dusk. But like every great affliction, I too can say that I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. This took place on Friday.
On Saturday after work I phoned some folks that lived not far away and they invited me over for the week-end, promising to meet me half way. I hitch-hiked to Sydney and found a street meeting in progress. Another airman was standing in the circle and so I went and stood beside him. Who should it be but a fellow I went to Bible School with, three years ago. We both testified and then had a long walk afterwards. I got over to Black Rock about midnight. Nothing would do but I would have to take family worship before we went to bed. We had a grand time on Sunday visiting the beauty spots in the morning and going to the old community church after dinner. One particular thing about the sea shore was the hole that had been drilled in the rock about 30 years ago in search of coal. They struck water and it has been flowing ever since. It will make a good illustration of the occasion when Moses struck the rock and the water gushed out. These people were very kind to me and I did enjoy the outing. Believe me there are going to be plenty of places for us to have a honeymoon around these parts. Everyone is amazed at your courage to go out to Africa alone, and are very keen to learn all they can from my limited knowledge.
This week the situation is just about as beautiful. We are staying in a small hotel or rather a large home. The whole district is French but we have enjoyed our two day stay so far. One of the daughters was educated in Quebec and speaks excellent French. Her name is Therese. She is only 20 but very clever. Am I ever learning to speak the language! I get her to repeat it, spell it etc. until I can get every inflection. Then she asks me to say it in English so that she can learn our language. It is quite an effective banter.
I almost forgot to tell you. Vance and Joy were to be married on Sept. 7th. I sent them a wire the other evening after Mrs Pudney had told me about it. Then they are coming down to Phila. to look after the home while Mrs Pudney is in Toronto for the candidate period. Mr Pudney has just gone to Haiti for a visit; and Mr Goodman has just returned from Mich. Effie has had a final refusal from the Brazilian Consul. That is probably the ultimatum. My sister has written to your mother. I wrote to Florence and quoted part of your letter. This is what she says, “What a truly remarkable girl you have indeed. Her letter as quoted is an inspiration for every day. I guess you’ve read it over and over, (how true). How wonderful for you both to have a future devoted to His will so completely. May He abundantly bless you both.”
The only other news is that soon I will be tired of travelling and will be content to sit by your side and eat out of your hand.
Abundance of love and kisses, Hector
On the 17th September 1943, Ione writes to her friend Tee, who was one of the Trio of singers with Ione back in the States before she became a missionary. The letter is to mark Tee’s Birthday and puts Ione in a reflective mood:
Many Happy Returns of the Day!
Many seasons of joy be given!
May the Lord in His mercy prepare you on earth
For a beautiful Birthday in Heaven!
Ten years ago today we were getting ready for our first extensive tour thru Michigan. We were planning what style we wanted those long-sleeved black dresses, weren’t we? And what collars we’d wear with them. We were practicing with Lois Guither (who now has another baby according to “Moody Monthly”!)
Nine years ago today we had recently returned from our ‘most ambitious tour’ and were relaxing; went to the World’s Fair. Nine years ago yesterday we took charge of the music at the Berwin Branch of the Cicero Church. We sang, “Pray Till Light Breaks Through”, “God Leads His Dear Children Along”, “Precious Hiding Place”, “Why Should I Not Love Him?” and “Hallelujah” (whatever was that last one? I have forgotten).
Eight years ago today we were travelling in full time service for the Institute.
Seven years ago today we started Wheaton College. Pauline was married.
Six years ago today you were recuperating from your operation. Somewhere along this time in September I came from Cleveland to see you and was accepted by the South China Boat Mission. Remember the ambulance ride to the train, and the train ride home?
Five years ago today we finished our vacation period and started working for the Institute again. A month later my father died.
Four years ago today you and Gen (illegible text)(Burns). And you were writing to Frank, weren’t you? I can’t remember whom I was writing to.
Three years ago today you and Gen were both married and I was working for the Pontiac Church, hoping to sail for China in November.
Two years ago today I was packed ready for Africa.
One year ago today some babies were on their way to certain homes and I was writing to Hector.
Today – everything is changed. The years show tell-tale marks on our faces. But what a joy each year has been and what a privilege we have had and are having to service the Lord in so many places. How I do thank Him for giving me your friendship and companionship. It meant so much and I am sure was instrumental in directing me the right way. You and Paul were an inspiration right from the start, you were so courageous and trusted the Lord for every need. How I thank Him for the Trio! Many of our old friends still write and I try to send the pastors and some of the people my form letters. These contacts will always be a blessing to all of us I am sure. Someday we’ll get together and sing, “A Mighty Redeemer is Jesus our Lord”, again as we did in our earliest days. And then we’ll sing some of the pretty arrangements with Gen like the Cross medley. I had a letter from Mrs Brook and she mentioned that one especially. Your message, “Stop, Look and Listen”, I have translated into Bangala and use it quite frequently. There have been souls saved as a result. I have thirty of my Westphal object lessons translated and use them. And you remember, “Come Over, Come Over, Over on the Sunny Side.” Well, thirty boys sang it two Sundays ago while I played a little accordion I have recently acquired. And do you remember, “We All Rise Up Together, We All Sit Down Together?”. Well, they do that, too. It’s – “Osemami sikamoko; Otikali sikamoko; soko bisu ba Christu, osemami sikamoko!” I use the “Little Lost Sheep”, too, with actions, choosing one littlest one and having the sheep go into the pasture and eat grass, etc. I am sure you use ever so many trio things in your work, too. Tony the Monkey is just about worn out. But he doesn’t lack for popularity. I am known now as Tony’s mama. A very dignified title! I think I use everything of the Trio except the high heeled shoes.
What would you like to know about Hector? He’s thin, medium tall, kind of bald, big kind eyes, is ever so funny in everything he says, and is good natured. I’ve had letters from two of his sisters and they seem quite nice, too. Hector was a candidate for Brazil while I was at the Toronto Mission Home in May, ’41. I spent about a month there and had lots of fun with him but he was always going in a different direction. Then the summer passed and when I was ready to sail I spent about seven weeks at the Philadelphia Mission Home and he was there visiting. Had been all ready to sail for Brazil with equipment packed, etc., but couldn’t for some government restrictions. Well, he didn’t say he might go to Africa then, but I know quite well, very well, that he liked me.
But George (Kissinger) was still in the picture and had visited there when I first came. But I felt more and more certain that George was not the only one, for he would not be able to go to the foreign field. He had talked to the Pudneys and they said they could not accept him under this mission because of his physical condition. So there had to be a break, tho’ I still liked him. And he has been writing quite frequently since I came, altho’ I told him he shouldn’t count our friendship anything more than casual. I didn’t answer at all, for a while I just wasn’t sure that the Lord meant it to be Hector. But I must write him again and tell him he must not write anymore. For in May I gave Hector his answer by cable. When he got it he called up my mother long distance. He finished at the Officer’s Training School, but I do not know exactly what he is doing now. He is either in active service or waiting to be sent from somewhere in eastern Canada. He is in the R.C.A.F. He sent me a lovely bracelet in an Airmail letter, several hankies at other times, and today his sister sent me a pretty piece of lace. I have no idea when Hector will get out here. And I can’t see my ring until he finds a safe way of getting it out. Such is a missionary’s life!
Thank you so much for the cute picture of Robert Louis. (Tee’s son)My how I wish I could see him and give him a big hug. He must be very interesting by now.
Did you hear about Doris? She graduated from high school and just a month later left home and went to California to work. She went to the place where her steady boyfriend was, the boy my Mother didn’t want her to go with. He is Catholic. (No wonder the family were concerned)Well, they were married on Nov. 7 last year. I have never met him. She has written several times, but she is having real struggles to maintain a Christian testimony. She came to Pontiac to visit but stayed at her in-laws and went to the Catholic church. It is hard for me to imagine, and it is a real heart-ache. Won’t you pray for her a lot?
I had a letter from Marcellyn this week. She said they were breaking up our home and she and Mother were going to Tenn. She would attend Bob Jones College. Lucille and Maurice have a new pastorate in northern Michigan with a lovely 10 room parsonage and she is going to keep some of the furniture, a room for me and a room for Mother, they said. So many changes. It seems dreadful from out here, but the Lord gives peace. And I am sure that He will make up for my not being there, aren’t you? They all like Hector very much; he has been at my home three times. He sent Mother Carnations on Mother’s Day. He likes them, too, for his mother died when he was a little boy and he appreciated having a new mother.
Well, does this give you enough news? Oh yes, you asked if I was fat. Just about 125# most of the time, same as Gen, I believe. I had a blood test yesterday and Dr. says I am anaemic, the blood count is down 20 points from when I came, but he gave me iron to take and outside of that I am fine. The girl I came out with and have been living with for nearly two years had the TB clinic here and contracted the disease. I have been with her during about 8 months of her illness, but haven’t any symptoms yet. I had a TB test this week. She has gone to the mountains now. And Mrs Westcott, too, still has traces of it, but I seem to have a good resistance. I think having my tonsils & appendix out before I came helped. The Lord does take care of us always. Love, Ione
The news Ione refers to regarding the dismantling of her mother’s home is a key topic in a letter written by Hector on 21st September 1943 to Mrs Reed;
“So you have finally decided to give up the house. I guess it was the wisest thing to do but it will always have a real place in my heart. How often I live over those scenes again! I’m sure you had quite a time figuring out what to sell and what to keep. The barrel incident was just like the Lord’s provision. It reminded me of the barrel of meal in Elijah’s time. It is a relief to know that the Malone family have decided to buy the place. It makes it almost still seem like home. Lucille will be glad to have the extra furniture. It must be grand for them to have such a large house.
Walking by faith is a great and glorious experience. It is not an easy thing for you to literally forsake all and follow Him. Your special prayer request is always uppermost in my heart. Today at noon I had about three minutes to spare and opened my New Test. To Eph.3. I noticed some words in your letter that reminded me of part of the passage. Verses 10 & 11 “…the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:…” I’m positive that before long there will be some indication as to the “event”.
Thanks for the trouble of making more records (of Ione singing).They are such living things.
The other evening in prayer the Lord caused me to realize afresh the precious gift of your daughter. I could talk about her night and day. Both of the fellows that I am working with are married so I get a lot of questions answered. I know that we will be perfectly happy together. If and when this war is over. God’s plans cannot suffer defeat. I will be writing her again next week and will be glad to be able to tell her of your correspondence. Wouldn’t we have a grand time if the three of us could sit down to talk over these vital matters.
I remember passing by Saginaw St. It is grand to get out with a few of the Lord’s chosen messengers and declare what He has done to rescue us.
Well, my beloved one, it is about time for me to close. May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent the one from the other. Much love and many kisses, Hector
Hector also describes his trip to Gaspe, where he stayed mainly with French speaking people who made him feel very welcome and wanted him to return there for his ‘honeymoon’.
In Tee’s letter, Ione talks of translating songs into Bangala, however, her grasp of language has enabled her to do more than just translate songs as she describes in a letter to a friend Norma:
I just finished teaching Elementary Notation and Sight Reading to my evangelists’ class. They give good messages but they need to know more about Music. I teach them singing every morning but this weekly lesson helps them to read and write notes. I translated, “My Sins are Gone”, from Glad Gospel Songs into words fitting for a Christmas hymn and call it “Noel”, pronounced the same in Bangala as in English. They are learning it in notes and syllables. Their textbook is a large Time Magazine envelope with carbon copies inside! I have also a class in Methods which I think is interesting. I am introducing object lesson work that I think will be practical in their village meetings. I have taught them how to cut with knives or tear crosses and stars out of large leaves. We have made wordless books out of scrap pieces of colored papers from Christmas cards, illustrating the black heart of sin, the red for Jesus’ blood, etc. There are ever so many children’s talks that they can use.
I have been carrying on classwork since I returned from trekking in August. Mrs Westcott is trying to supervise her own children’s schoolwork during the mornings. Then I go over in the afternoon and direct Botiki’s wife in her sewing, the children’s afternoon activities, help Ellen with whatever sewing she feels able to do. and plan supper and ‘some special dessert’. I try to see that the cook has a few things lined up for next day’s dinner, too. Planning the meals is so hard for Ellen, because she rarely has an appetite.
Isn’t it good that I love to fuss and work about the kitchen? There has been so much of that to do these past eighteen months. I have tried to make them salads and things that the boy cannot be allowed to do, for it was so long that they went without them. I found a little poem one day which made me feel that my job as a Martha rather than a Mary wasn’t so bad after all;
“A kitchen is a valiant room-
Melting pot of stove and broom,
Of homely tasks, of dreams and plans
Nurtured over pots and pans-
Life’s richness other rooms adorn
But in the kitchen home is born!”
I led my first soul to the Lord on my birthday one month ago. Since then there have been ten more. Many of them have been in the early morning meetings that I conduct at the hospital. There are generally about 100 present. Five accepted Christ in the boys’ meeting that I have every Sunday afternoon. Two boys gave over their lives to Christian service and have offered to go on my next trek with me.
What do you think of my cable engagement? Agnes said it was rather remote control! And I guess it is, with the emphasis on the ‘remote’.
This letter hints at Ione’s frustration of being more of a ‘Martha’ than a ‘Mary’ but in her inimitable style, Ione focusses on the positives of her situation rather than being negative. Reading through Ione’s letters, it is evident that her days are very full yet she finds time to write to old friends; some days penning two as on the 17th September she writes to Lee Moyer, picking out things she feels might interest him:
Dear Mr. Moyer:
Greetings in Jesus’ precious Name!
It has been two years since I last saw you, but I can never forget you. How well do I remember those nice visits when I was in the hospital – and the RED roses! You know that when a fellow gives a girl red roses, it’s a sign he loves her. I thought about that then, but I didn’t say anything. It’s easier to put things like that on paper! I did appreciate the flowers and the visits so much. I am so sorry I have not written you before. Word has come to me from Marcellyn that you have not been feeling so well, and I wish there were something I could do for you. If there is anything you can think of that I could send you, please let me know.
This is a strange but interesting life out here. The weather is warm and like summer all the time. But we have very wet times and then it is quite cold, too. I have a big orange tree in my back yard and it is just about ready to yield. The big oranges are just hanging heavy ready to drop. But they are not yellow enough yet. I have had just two. When they start to ripen I’ll have fifty or sixty a day for many weeks. We have some nice cats on the station. There are wild cats, too, but the tame ones we let come into the house. They are just like cats at home. The father’s name is Blackie, the Mother’s name is Midnight, and there are three little Spooks now, very fuzzy and cuddly. There are snakes, of course. I’ve seen them killed when they were 7 and 8 feet long. The longest one I have killed is just 3 feet, but nearly all are poisonous. I think one of the most poisonous that I have ever seen was a viper, just a little over a foot long, but he was thick and very wicked-looking. I was glad to see him dead!
I guess you knew Miss Hiles has been sick. She has gone up to the mountains now so that the Doctor here can get away for a rest. She will receive treatment from a Dr Becker there at Ruwenzori. I miss her for we have been together since I last saw you.
I have been wondering if you live in the same house, and if so, who took charge of the cooking? I heard that you had retired from your job at the Church. Did you go to live with your daughter then? Did you take your dog? Wasn’t his name Boots? I liked him very much. He was gentle, – like his master!
May the Lord bless you, Mr Moyer. I want you to know that I think of you as a best friend and I have appreciated all your prayers and work to help me to be a missionary. Lovingly in Christ, Ione Reed
It may have been easier for Ione to write to Mr Moyer than her next letter which was sent to George Kissinger on 21st September. Despite Ione being very clear that she viewed George only as a friend, perhaps George had other aspirations and so Ione sets out to make her situation plain:
I took a big deep breath and drew a promise before starting this letter. It is for you: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way.” Psa. 37:23. I am alone at my desk and I have a stack of letters beside me, they are all here, from Feb. 10, 1942 to May 12, 1943. And the date of the last one is the date that I became engaged by cable to someone else!
I told Mrs Gardner in a letter written a few months after my arrival that I had not written you because I did not know what to write. I had left hastily, with the memory of your Dec. 15 letter still fresh; I had written that scribbly note from the boat because I felt it was wrong to leave without sending it. I wanted you to know how I felt then. And I want you to know how I feel now, too. Had I stayed in America, there would have been no doubt about my future with you. But I could not have been happy had I not gone through the open door to the mission field. I am very happy here, with that settled feeling that one has when he is where God wants him. I have been reading in your letters many signs that show me God’s apparent purpose in keeping you there. I did not dare say anything that would influence you one way or another. He is using you in a wonderful way and I still believe you are ‘God’s man of the hour’ in evangelistic work and preaching, as well as teaching. “God has His best things for the few who dare to stand the test“. I believe you have been undergoing a real time of testing since the Norfolk Bible School experience. And I can see so clearly how God is blessing you. I want you to have His best in everything. You have been so good and patient through these eighteen months and I have not written once. Please forgive me.
I have prayed for the past seventeen months for the first soul to be won, and during the last several weeks there have been 11. And I have been teaching more of late, too. I am sending under separate cover a copy of the letter I wrote after trekking in July. Rather, I wrote it on trek, but duplicated it afterward.
The poems you have sent are a real blessing to me. They are so like your own self. I shall not stop praying for you.
In Him, Ione
1, 2, & last verses of Betty Stam’s “A Song of Sending”.
Having thus made her break from George, Ione writes to Hector on 25th September 1943:
“My dearest Husband (2 B),
I haven’t had any letters since I wrote to you last on Aug. 20, but I know that is not your fault. When they do come, they come in pairs, or threes and then my joy is bubbling over. I did have a birthday card from your sister Jean and a lovely tiny lacy doily. That was so good of her, and it made me very happy. She gave me some helpful information about you, too. I won’t tell you, tho’, because your hat might not fit afterward!
How does it feel to be called a husband? I thought I’d try and see if you will get used to it. But maybe it’s a little too soon. A fellow has to be called that a long time after he’s married. I wonder what it would have been like to be married for a hundred years or so like Abraham and Methuselah, etc. Maybe it was that long time that constrained Moses to grant a bill of divorcement! There really should be no excuse now since folk don’t live nearly that long. And if all the girls had husbands like I’m to have they could well wish it would be for hundreds of years, don’t you think?
Last night we has a Social Evening at Jenkinson’s house, the second or third such occasion we’ve had since being here, when all gather just for a good laugh. It was good for everyone. We were required to come dressed to represent some well-known song. I’ll tell you what they all were: Ma Kinso had a daily schedule pinned on the front of her dress; she was “My Task”; Kinso a cartoon of people outside the home of Goering (General) shouting “We want Goering” (this was like an announcement on the radio that people had assembled before his house and sang, “The Beer-Barrel Polka” or “Roll out the Barrel”); Mrs Westcott was there with two white carnations in her hair, her song being, “Mighty Like a Rose”; Doctor wore a tie, which he never does, illustrating, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”; the Westcott children were the “Three Blind Mice” with little cloth ears and long tails, and I was the farmer’s wife who cut off their tails (someone said I would make a good farmer’s wife and I agreed that it would be quite agreeable were that farmer from Avondale); oh, yes, Viola was in green with her autoharp as, “The Harp that Once in Terra’s Hall”, or something like that; and Joan Pengilly was the bride of, “Lohengrin’s Wedding March”; Mr and Mrs Percy Moules of the Heart of Africa Mission were present and Mr Moules wore a violin with no strings on it, “The Lost Chord”, Mrs Moules had drawn an excellent figure of Goering, also representing, “The Beer barrel Polka.” This group comprised the entire white assembly of Bongondza.
Pearl is gone, did you know? She went two weeks ago to Ruwenzori to live in the mountains. This should speed her recovery. And it also frees the Doctor from her weekly treatments as she will now be under Dr. Becker’s care. Dr Westcott and family (maybe me) will probably get off in about three weeks for a long trip. Pray that she may soon be able to resume her nursing work.
I am still on half-time schedule. Today at Doctor’s house I baked two loaves of banana nut bread; two days ago I baked four dozen raisin-filled cookies and another loaf of banana nut bread. I can’t seem to keep them filled up over there! But how I do love to work in the kitchen! I like to have about six things going at once. This week I made tomato chutney and Cape plum jelly. I enjoy experimenting about and using up all of the leftovers.
Besides wishing and wishing that you were here to cook and plan for, I find myself actually getting provoked that you aren’t here. When Pearl went, I tried to get my little clock to work again and thought if I could just unscrew a few screws — you know, or maybe put in a little oil – or boil it like the Doctor does! But somehow I unscrewed one thing too many and there came a loud whirring sound and the clock collapsed. After that I couldn’t get anything back in and there were ever so many parts lying about. I stacked them up in four piles and put them back on my table, hoping that some kind soul seeing them would help me. But today there was a bad wind storm and when I came home there was disorder everywhere and curtains and draperies had blown down and my clock parts were scattered all over the floor. I don’t mind doing without a time piece, but I just can’t do without you. It doesn’t help for me to tell you, but I surely feel helpless about a lot of things. If I just know WHEN you could come***–But I’m sure you don’t know that yourself, and we can’t expect the Lord to arrange world conditions to fit our needs. But we know that “He shall give thee the desires of thy heart.”
Marcellyn’s most recent letter tells me that since her conversation with you about Africa, she has been praying and thinking much about it, and feels that the Lord is speaking to her definitely about that land. She is especially interested in Ekoko. She said she’d like someday to come out and work with you and me! I am happy that she has given her life to the Lord for fulltime service if He so desires. I remember the time when Doris publicly offered her life for foreign missions. But somehow she has been side-tracked, maybe for just awhile. I trust so. “All things are possible.” Marcellyn also said she and Mother plan to break up our home and go south. Has this taken place, do you know? It seems I shall have many changes to face when I return home. That is one of our ‘losses’ I guess. But His gains overbalance them all.
Mother and Marcellyn surely have fallen in love with you. I am so happy that there is such a glad relationship. No doubt you have had to be very patient with my family; we are noisy and talkative at times. Most women are I guess. Doris would not seem to you like she did to me before I left, for no doubt she has become more serious. She was a funny frolicsome girl when I left and I was trying to teach her manners. Now there must be a strained feeling when she is at home. I am sorry about that. Doris used to cheer everyone up, but now that she is away, you seem to have accomplished that job.
It’s about 10:30 P.M. and I am listening to the night sounds. A hyrax crying in a nearby tree; he is a little animal something like a big chipmunk and he cries as he climbs the tree, his call becoming more shrill and higher in pitch as he ascends. A frog is croaking like a xylophone out in the trench that surrounds my house. Many crickets are chirping. Left-over rain is dripping from the leaf roof. But otherwise it’s quiet, very quiet. I’ll take another promise for you, “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” Dan. 11:32. Above my desk is a little card that says, “Be Still.” Underneath that is, “Be quiet, fear not.” Isa. 7:4. Then,
“Lord, how I need the quiet heart, Thy still, small voice to hear;
The Voice that speaketh truth and hope and husheth all our fear.
The quiet mind, Lord, give it me, subdue my thoughts and will,
Above the warring sounds of earth, Breath Thou Thy, “Peace be still.”
I am praying, ‘Dear Lord, bless him, and keep him always true.’ With love in Him, Ione
Keeping to his routine, Hector writes to Ione on 28th September 1943:
A verse that has been made precious to me is in II Peter 1:4, “…Partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” This present war is a result of lust but we have escaped the corruption of it because we are now, as Christians, of another nature.
Most fellows are glad for the middle and end of each month, because it brings pay day; but I enjoy a far greater benefit, that of writing to the loveliest girl under God’s heaven. It’s rather a shame that the world steals all the nice expressions of love and gives them a frivolous meaning. But that does not keep me from saying that I love you for your loveliness of spirit, soul and body. Memory is a wonderful thing when it enables me to bring to mind the pleasing bird-like tilt of your head; the mischief in your eyes and the coy manner of speech. It is too bad that we cannot think into the future with the same clarity. Then what an account I could write…just to hold you in my arms, dear, for one long minute…….!! A few nights ago I told the Lord that I never expected as lovely a gift as you are, when I started out to live the Christian life. First I live for Christ and then for Ione.
I wish you could read the lovely letter that I got from “Mother”, as she now signs herself. It almost reads like one from Africa. As she has likely told you, she is selling some of the furniture and sending the rest to Lucille. Rev. Tom Malone is buying the house. I’m afraid I’ll be writing to 106 Preston Ave. from force of habit. No one will ever know the way I enjoyed those three visits there. Just to be in Ione’s home was a thrill. However your mother (and mine) said that we could always have plenty of room with Lucille and Maurice. The piano has been sent there with some of the things that are family keepsakes. One incident showed the Lord’s undertaking; when a barrel for packing dishes was needed. After endless phoning the conclusion was that there were no barrels in Pontiac, and just then the Lord provided one free of charge. How like the widow of Zaraphath. The Lord’s promises to the fatherless and the widow are so broad in their scope, so many in number and so tender in tone.
While up at Fox River I was amazed to find myself playing an old guitar that they borrowed from someone. My best effort was, “Shall we gather at the river”, so it soon became the favourite. I didn’t know all the words, so since I have come back I was able to get a hymn book with that song in, so I sent the whole thing up. I trust that in this way the gospel will find an entrance into their hearts. I also had the privilege of preaching there one evening. Romans 5:1-10 seemed to be the Lord’s choice and it was a fresh blessing to my own heart while preparing it.
Do you remember that afternoon during the candidate period that we all went over to Centre Island near Toronto? If so, do you remember meeting a friend of ours from P.B.I…Harold Bayham. Remember how we were playing ball while Effie was sitting by a tree looking on. Later Harold and I exchanged coats and had our pictures taken. If all this doesn’t arouse you, maybe you can still see us deciding to get on the ferry after it left the dock, at the last moment making a successful leap, to the consternation of the mission leaders. Later we saw you off in the car on the other side, when Harold and I took the boat for St. Catherines. Well, if you have all this straight, I will proceed to tell you that this past weekend I had a 48-hr. pass and visited this same Harold Bayham who is living about 10 miles from here. He too is in the Airforce. He was married last year and just a week ago Sunday his wife had a little girl. They are calling her Joanne. (So you better start thinking up some names…Rom. 4:18). They really expected a boy and so she chose the name after the baby was born. We were in to see her at the hospital several times. She is a very fine Christian and should make a lovely mother and wife. She was glad to hear about you and see the three pictures, two in the folder and one on my watch. I think the watch company should be paying me some royalties, but then again no one ever looks at the name of the watch with your smiling face to gaze upon. Ever so many people have remarked about the smart idea.
Harold wanted to be remembered to you. It is wonderful how many people one meets on a weekend like that. I counted up nine new Christians that I became acquainted with. We had one strange occurrence. We were in a restaurant having dinner when a little paper boy came around. Harold said that he gets the paper at home but the little fellow was inclined not to believe him. I think he told us that we were lying. I said that we didn’t tell lies because we were Christians. He immediately spoke up and said, “Well, I’m a Christian too.” I asked him how he knew and he answered, “Because I’m not an infidel”. I was able to give him a tract which he carefully folded up and put in his pocket, with a promise to read it.
I must not forget to tell you that my savings account is reaching quite a figure; so pay day does mean a little bit after all. By the end of the month the total should be around $150. It seems quite a lot when some fellows haven’t saved a nickel. It is quite nice to be on a salary (?). In fact, it is the first time in my life that I’ve had a regular income. Still, I know you will have plenty to teach me about money matters. I remember that evening down in Phila. when we were at that prayer meeting. I remember and the man told of his special need. Afterwards when we “two” were walking along the street and I told you that I had given him $5, you were rather amazed. I guess maybe I am a little too liberal, but it shouldn’t be very hard to strike a balance.
I was just talking to a fellow airman a few minutes ago and he wants to be kindly remembered to you. He is a Jewish lad and was the editor of the Magazine Digest in Montreal in peace time. He was away for a few days recently and got married. So he gave his best wishes that we will soon be united also. I’ve had several good talks with him about Christ and His saving power and his heart is rather receptive. He has a comical side and if you remember those jokes I had in a few letters back you will see some of his humor. His name is Sid Katz.
Now, concerning this picture; this is Irene’s little Barbara sitting on her uncle’s lap while he sits on the window sill. We had one taken out in the sun but she seemed intent on crying. Once she could see inside the house she was more docile. The ring on my engagement finger has the Air Force crest on it. You are thus linked to me by hand and heart, even in warfare.
Goodbye for now, dearie. Keep still hoping and trusting for that sweet day when we shall be together once more. It can’t be too far distant. Your mother sent me some little extra signs which evidently mean a hug. I will send you one for a sample and you can tell me what they mean. XXO Only yours……in Christ, Hector
On the 30th September 1943, Ione again writes to her supporters this time referring to them as ‘the Loyals’: alluding again to the trek she undertook with Viola in July and adds:
“I am working half-time in the native evangelists’ school, villages, etc., and half-time over at the Westcott’s. I go out early in the morning for the village meetings, one week I go north and one week south. Have helped the women prepare palm-nuts, sat inside their tiny houses on rainy mornings around the fire, played their funny musical instruments, and chatted comfortably with them. I have wanted so long to really get to know them, and opportunities are unlimited this way. I could go farther if I had a bicycle, but it will take me some time to make the acquaintance of all the people within walking distance around Bongondza.
I would like to acknowledge the gifts of money you have been continually sending to me. Since coming to the field I have received salaries for 1 year and 4 months @ $25 per month ($10 retained at home for savings and return transportation fund), plus 2 months’ salary at $30 per month. I received a gift from the Loyal’s at Christmas of $11, for which I thank you very much. I know many of you are giving sacrificially these days and I do appreciate it. I do not want to ever be a disappointment to you all.
The Westcott’s plan to leave for vacation in two weeks; they will go to the mountains. I am not sure yet whether I am to accompany them. Perhaps you had heard that Pearl had gone to the mountains, a place called Ruwenzori. She says she loves it and the climate is so much better and she feels she will get better fast. Dr Becker (a missionary working for the African Inland Mission) will care for her while she is there. This frees Dr Westcott to go for a rest and if the opportunity permits, to go home. I miss Pearl a great deal. She very efficiently managed most of our household affairs here, as I was gone a good deal. I did enjoy Pearl very much and hope that she can come back here soon to take up her nursing duties once more.
I am teaching every day in the evangelists’ school. This is a class just recently started; Mrs Jenkinson has charge of them and will keep them here for two years before they will be sent out into villages as regular teachers. There are six pupils; they receive the regular school course, but in a way that they will be able to teach it later to others. I have two types of music classes, both Class Singing and Elementary Notation and Sight Reading; then once a week I have a class in Methods in which they prepare object lessons and messages to give. It was with great rejoicing this week-end that we saw them going out with flannel graph boards and envelopes of object lessons tucked under their Bibles; this was their first experience of going out for a week-end in this way. Mr Jenkinson said he has waited years to see this.
I would love to hear from you all again. And don’t forget to pray. Oh, did you all know that I have become engaged in May to a Canadian fellow, Hector McMillan? Of course, he can’t come out until after the war, but it’s kind of nice looking forward to it.
Love to you all, Ione
On the same day, Ione also writes to Collette whom she met on the Reine Astrid Steamer Boat in response to a letter she had received:
“My dear Collette,
Thank you very much for your good letter which arrived August 6th. I thought you had forgotten me, but you had not. I do well remember the pleasant time on the ship, “Reine Astrid.” I remember the song you taught me, “I Love to Whistle”, and since you wrote the words for me I have sung it many times here. When I might perhaps be lonely I sing and whistle that tune!
I am yet with two of the friends you met on the ship. Miss Walker teaches in the native school and Miss Hiles is a nurse.
I am very happy here. I live in a four-room mud house with a red brick floor. I am helping the Doctor and his wife and family, as well as teaching in the native evangelists’ school. I have taken one long safari into the deep forest which was very enjoyable. Miss Walker and I walked to a place called, “The End Village,” the last one that white people know about. I should like very much to find out what is beyond the End Village, wouldn’t you?
This year in May I became engaged by cable to a Canadian in the Royal Airforce. He is really a missionary and will come out to this field when the war is finished. I sent him his answer, “Yes,” by cable because there was the possibility that he might be moved from his location and I would not know how to reach him if I waited longer. I put a Scripture verse in the cablegram from the book of Ruth, chapter 1, verse 16: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” I did not write out the entire verse, but just put the location and when he found it in his Bible he was very happy. For my birthday he sent me a dear little silver chain bracelet with my name on; he had enclosed it in an Airmail letter. He is not very handsome, but I think he will be a good husband. However, I do not wish to be married by cable! Would you?
I was very much interested in your account of your journeys until you reached England again. I hope that you will be able to obtain your matriculation in the convent. If you should ever meet a young man in the Canadian Airforce in London named Hector McMillan, he is my fiancée. He may or he may not be there.
Please write to me again sometime. I send to you and your parents my best wishes. Sincerely yours, Ione Reed”
At the beginning of October, Hector writes to Ione’s mother, whom he addresses as ‘Mother’:
And how is the moving business! Wouldn’t I love to be with you in these days. So often I think of you; and how fortunate I am to be “son”! I can hear your voice and see your face even now; and I do long for another visit. If you even know how much that book on Prayer is meaning to my Christian life you’d feel well repaid for sending it. I’m about ½ way through and it’s still getting better. It gives me real “talking” material when I discuss spiritual things with the boys. Just this afternoon I was with quite a group and one fellow plainly confessed that he was bordering on Atheism because he had never seen a real genuine life of true faith. After some minutes I was able to bring it down to a quotation from your book and it was this, “A man is unsaved for one of two reasons. Either he wants to find some other way because he doesn’t like the truth or he doesn’t know of God’s plan of salvation.” So after today, he can’t plead ignorance. It’s a wonderful experience the Lord has granted me to live among the fellows. I love to find out what they believe and then by the Scriptures try to help them out of their trouble. And they do really appreciate it.
It will be invaluable training for the mission field as it drives me deeper into the Word to find God’s mind on these matters.
Of course, we have our times of witty joking together. I laughed at one chap today who knows me quite well. We were talking about Ione and he was saying how little she really knows about me since she has been away so long. He said she might have changed a lot in her ideas and to quote him, “When she gets you, for all she knows she’s just like buying a pig in a bag.” It surely sounded funny. However I showed him a few sentences of her last letter and everything was straightened out.
I’m waiting for a letter from Marcellyn. I suppose it will take her a few weeks to get settled. I’ll have to write and tell Herbie not to take up so much of her time!!!
Well, dear, I better close for now as it is getting late. I know prayer will soon be answered for you because you are yielded to His will. That alone is more consolation than any other blessing.
The will of God
Your loving Son, Hector
Hector then writes to Ione on 13th October 1943:
I’m just getting this letter written in time; in fact, as it looks now it may be written in sections. However, I must not fail my dear little sweetheart over in the Lord’s vineyard. I know He is answering prayer for you and His presence will bring such real joy to your heart. Just to think that He sees both of us and is planning some wonderful union, not too far in the future. In my own mind I have it planned out several times a day, just what it will look like, but I know it will be ever better than that.
Well, this is the first move. I am now in Moncton and up at a home that has been a refuge for me many times since coming east. These folks are the in-laws of my sister Irene. They have been very good to me. I will be leaving my typewriter here while I’m away for a week. You’ll be glad to know that Butterfield is going with another fellow and myself. By the way, this other fellow is the corporal that was with me the time I was down to the coast and went fishing. They are both nice chaps and are quite decent in their talk, at least when I’m around.
There was something quite funny happened at the station a few days ago. On the first of every month there are some new ranks given and this one LAC was made a corporal. A few days after that he was chosen from his flight to call the roll of attendance before we go to work. So he goes out in front and starts down the list checking them off as they answered to their names by saying “Corporal ! ! ! Finally he called out his own name. No one answered so he called it out again to give the poor fellow the benefit of the doubt before marking him absent. What an embarrassing awakening!
These past few days I have been praying especially for your mother. I’ve been trying to find out from the Word the Lord’s mind about such a situation. I don’t know how much she has told you about it, but in the last letter I had from her she said it was very confidential. She seems quite free about it all but his situation is a little more difficult. But she needs someone to really love her. One evening as we were walking home from the bus, I got a little insight as to her heart hunger. After all she is still young, and I know the Lord wants His own to have the very best care and affection. She has that way with her of getting right inside your life. I just long to get back to see her some time. As Irene said she is filling a real place in my life, and it’s wonderful that we can both have enough room in her affections. Won’t we have a grand time when we can all assemble in one company! Marcellyn should soon be writing if Herbie is not taking up too much of her time. She must be having a grand time mingling with all those lovely Christian young people.
Last Sunday I started asking the Lord for something definite. There are so many people to meet every day that there must be someone in spiritual need. I often testify that there is scarcely a day passes but that I am able to speak to some soul. But now I have asked the Lord to make one contact each day that I know is of Him. Well, on Sunday I was sent down for a few hours to look after a few pieces of equipment. There happened to be a girl there from the Women’s Division. I had a lot of spare time so I had taken my Bible along to study. The officer was out for about a half an hour and we began to talk. Of course Ione had her place in the conversation. This girl was quite taken with the idea of you being out there by yourself. Finally she began to tell me a little of her life. How different it was to the evidence she had that day, with a cigarette in her hand! She said that on Sunday afternoon in her home her dad used to get each of them around him and they all had their turn reading the Word, and discussing it. But just two years ago her father was killed and I guess things haven’t been going so well. She said, “I’m so ashamed of myself for not having read my Bible for so long.” She once got a trimming for using slang and now she thinks nothing of swearing. I was so glad to be able to give her my testimony of the Lord’s saving grace, in my life. Well, that was that day.
On Monday we were taking some extra refresher classes. A fellow sitting next to me asked me for a piece of paper. I took my New Testament out of my pocket, altho’ quite sure that I didn’t have any pieces of paper in there. Well, he hesitated a moment and when I went to put it back he asked if he could see it. He is a Jewish lad and it was rather strange. He said he often wanted to read it. So while the class continued he became deeply interested in the first few chapters of Matthew. After quite a time he gave it back. During an interval I asked him if he had any questions. He said he had but wanted to read some more. He suggested that he get a New T (testament) from the library. So I told him I had an extra one and I could lend him mine for awhile. How gratefully he accepted it!… And on Tuesday I was taken in a very extraordinary way to a home for a key and there had few words of testimony and left a tract, “Can a Soldier be a Christian?” It is the most interesting time I’ve known for a long time.
So much for this continent. How are you putting in these 24 hour days? Oh, I almost forgot something. The fact that I was going to mention something about a letter from you reminded me that your last one hasn’t finished its work yet. Remember that time I told you about the fellow saying that he thought he needed prayer more than you. Well, he was saying a few days ago that you may have changed your ideas a lot since you last saw me. The years make such a difference. So he said that you might be getting “a pig in a bag”. It was quite an expression.
Just a last few words. I have just dealt with Ruby Pierce and she is just on the verge of accepting Christ. So this is the Lord’s contact for today. We’ve been talking for the last half hour. It’s time for my train now so I better close once more. Will be so glad to hear from you again. Your own lover, Hector
Hector writes to Mrs Reed on 24th October 1943, revealing more of his activities but also giving insight into Mrs Reed’s new establishment having moved from Michigan:
Your lovely big letter was waiting for me when I returned from Halifax on Thursday. I would have answered it the next day but as usual there was something to cause a delay. I was only in Scoudouc for about 12 hrs. when I was sent out on another job; all the way back to Halifax and about 100 miles beyond that. So at last, on a nice quiet Sunday morning I can sit down and write to you. It is a very pretty spot here and I will enjoy a few days of such surroundings.
Before I begin to answer your letter, I must give you a wonderful promise from the “Word of Life”. “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” Ex 23:20. How is that for protection and direction! And to think that your letter of how graciously the Lord has fulfilled that already in your life recently. You can just picture how happy I was to read of the plans for the next few weeks. This reunion will mean so much to both of you. I know you will be all thrilled, just like when you were 16. How like the Lord to take you both right back to the place where the devil caused all the misunderstanding. This enemy is so subtle and determined to upset God’s plans.
So you have settled right down in Pontiac. I was afraid you might be going farther away and I might not see you for a long time. It will be grand for you to have more spare time to use for other things besides washing dishes and doing housework, (although it is nice to get acquainted with people right in their own kitchen). That seems to be where we had the most laughs. I’m quite sure we could never carry on like that in a restaurant.
Marcellyn will be so glad that you have a nice home to stay in. You won’t have much spare cash, but it’s marvellous what we can do with a little, with the Lord’s guidance. The mission will soon find out that you are worth far more than they can pay you.
Ione will be glad to get those boxes. They should get there in time for Christmas which would be ideal.
Sun. evening 8:45
I’ve been away all day in town and just arrived back in barracks. I was wishing Ione was with me for the nice chicken dinner. I’m afraid I can’t get along without her very much longer. In fact I’ll let you in on a little secret.
(Just start reading the pages backwards from 5) As you know, ordained men are exempt from military service. Well, I’m planning on applying for a discharge from the Air Force through the padre which may be quite a task but then who knows. Then I can get ordained and start out for Africa even if I have to take the “Jonah” transport (boat). This could all take place in a few weeks or it may take months. I enjoy my present work but there are plenty more to replace me. We are fighting for freedom I worship in all countries, (including the Belgian Congo). But you know how impossible it is for the natural man to see spiritual realities.
However the next morning after I heard of the possibilities of this plan, I got the verse I gave you at the beginning. So here goes!! I wouldn’t dare tell Ione until I get a little farther along.
By the way the ring is in Mrs Pudney’s safe keeping in Philadelphia. Thanks so much for enclosing those two folders. It’s grand to know you have included my name on your missionary list, along with your precious Princess. And that picture you enclosed is already in a folder I have. Really you should see the way folks look at her face. And then utter some expression of admiration. What would they say if they could see the original! That’s what I’m interested in.
The house at 106 Preston must be quite nice in its new “dress up”. How far away is your new address?
I’d almost forgotten about that soldier’s lean over. It comes back though with all the laughs we have out of it. Remember Marcellyn and that Canadian dish towel. “God save the king, the king”. Isn’t she an awful tease.
I’ve been thinking today about that quotation about God answering prayer. That explains His reason for telling us to ask largely.
And a word about Doris. I was reading a book on “Workmen for God” and Oswald Chambers deals with all types of souls. One was the backslider who has left the Lord and turned to something else. There is just one thing for them and that is to “take words with them and return to the Lord.” It is the hardest, cruellest, most matter of fact transaction, quite different to coming to the Lord for salvation. I was thinking of Doris when I was reading it. How essential to realize that it isn’t our task to find out what type of soul we are dealing with but to so rely on the Holy Spirit that He can use the Word of God through us.
Well my dearest it is about time to close. I’ll have to start Ione’s letter in a day or two. It’s such a privilege to carry on a correspondence with both of you. Thanks so much for writing.
Great things are ahead for you so keep me informed. Yours in Calvary’s Love, Hector X
Hector’s next recorded letter is sent to Ione on 27th October 1943:
Something rather unique I read the other day…”The man I marry must be brave as a lion but not forward; handsome as Apollo but not conceited; wise as Solomon, but meek as a lamb; a man who is kind to every woman, but loves only me.”
“How lovely we met!”
If you received my last letter you may have been mystified about the connection your letter had in that conversation. Actually I let him read the first paragraph & his mind was settled.
This little gift was purchased on a train and it is something I’ve always wanted to get for you. It is somewhat like our crest & has the RCAF letters interwoven. The man said it could be washed but I don’t know how often. I’d like to see one of those colored lassies beating it on a rock!
Do you remember being down at the Bapt. church in Cleveland, Ohio for a month while one member of your trio was convalescing from an operation? Well your mother found a bulletin with your picture in & sent it to me in her last letter. How thrilling to hear what other people think of you.
“The voice of Miss Ione Reed has been heard on many Radio Network Programs & has won the hearts of thousands by her interpretation of Gospel songs. For several years as a member of a youth crusade, she has contacted many young people in heart to heart talks or from the platform in 28 states of the Union.”
What a lively life you’ve had! Is there any place you haven’t been? I like that reference about heart to heart talks.
Your mother has gone into full time Christian Service with the Faith Gospel Mission in Pontiac. She seems very happy about it, altho’ it is quite a change to not have to do her own housework. I still write her every other week but this last time I couldn’t stop short of ten pages. I love her and of course I love her daughter. I was telling your mother in the last letter that I can’t do without you very much longer. After being near Halifax for about a week we went back to Scoudouc and I hardly had time to get a breath when another lad & I were sent down to another station about a 300 mile trip. He has gone back but I have to stay on for a few days.
Really, Ione, all this travelling makes me feel like the two men out in a fishing boat. Being of German extraction they got their w’s and v’s mixed up. They finally had to admit they could not find their way back to land. Said one, “Ev only our vives knew vhere ver ve.” Feeling the situation a little more keenly, the other chap replied, “Ev only ve knew vhere ve vere ourselves.”
And then about the two morons. One had just come down from a mountain when he discovered he had lost his watch, but he didn’t go back after it because he knew it would run down. The other put a chair in his uncle’s coffin for Rigormortis to set in.
Someone has his radio on in the barracks and the song is, “My Faith Looks up to Thee.”
I had an interesting time yesterday going thro’ a plant where they make yeast cakes. They have a new process now for dehydrating it so that one pound is reduced to 6 oz. Thus it requires no cold storage. The foreman was very kind to me, and before I left, I gave him a tract and told him something of the Lord’s blessing in my life. Then I had a visit with the local blacksmith. I guess you’ve never heard of oxen having steel shoes. I saw him making enough for two oxen. I know the folks at home would be interested so I got two old shoes to send home as a souvenir.
In the evening I went to a prayer meeting and heard an elderly saint of 96 winters give a wonderful witness. He’s just waiting to cross Jordan.
I hope I can think up a suitable cable for Christmas. There are two promises recently given. Is.49:16; Ex. 23:20
Lovingly as Ever, Hector X
Isaiah 49:16 New International Version (NIV)
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Exodus 23 verse 20
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.)
November 5th finds Ione at a place called Nia Nia where she stays Enroute to Butembo. A letter she sent to Hector in April has been returned because it was incorrectly addressed, so she resends it:
The enclosed letter which I sent to you Airmail last April came back to me because I had addressed it 18 Howland with no UFM on it at all. Rather foolish of me. It’s so stale by now that I shall send it just straight mail.
Here’s a poem which I shall dedicate to you:
Come share the road with me, my own
Through good and evil weather;
Two better speed than one alone,
So let us go together.
Come share the road with me, my own
I’ll share your joys and sorrows,
And hand in hand we’ll seek the throne
And God’s great glad tomorrows.
Come share the road with me, my own,
And where the black clouds gather,
I’ll share the load with thee, my own,
And we’ll press on together.
And as we go we’ll share also
With all who travel on it,
For all who share the road with me,
I must share with all upon it.
So make we all one company,
Love, golden cord our tether,
And, come what may, we’ll climb the way,
Together, aye, together!
“Road mates, J O”
By the time you receive this letter, I might even be on the way back to America. The Westcott’s decided recently that if they go in the spring, I shall accompany them. Many changes will have taken place, and perhaps by spring they will be no nearer home than ever but it’s nice thinking that if I should come home perhaps we might be married a little sooner! It would be nice for our people to have the ceremony take place there and it would be less difficult so far as required documents, red tape with gov’t, etc. Mrs Westcott said to tell you that if you should suddenly have a way to come out, to find out for sure that I’m not on my homeward journey before hurrying out.
This letter is unfinished.
On the 14th November, 1943, Hector writes to Ione, however certain sections are deleted by censors and as Hector has written on both sides of the paper, other sentences are hacked:
“Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee”. Jer. 31:3
The Lord has graciously led me into a Christian home here (letter is censored here) that is exactly like the one in Clinton (Remember Jean & Harry Titcombes). This is the happiest Christian couple – both 24 years old – Albert & Margarite Burton. I’ve just been around this district for a few days & will soon be going back to New Brunswick. I really hate to leave. This is Sunday and I’m spending all day with them. I was with them the last three evenings as well. He is an Airforce lad & his father was a missionary in the Belgian Congo back in 1911, but farther north than our station. Margarite is a most interesting girl – very lively. She is so thrilled about you and wanted to know all about our courtship (?!!).
How I’d love to have you with me, meeting all these lovely folks. I let them read your last letter and they really appreciated the privilege. So now they think they know you quite well. Last Thursday evening they had the usual Bible Study group in their home. Afterwards we got talking & were so interested in my going to Africa and my present Christian witness among people. I was able to impress upon them the necessity for a consistent Christian life since we can then witness with a clear conscience, as the Lord gives opportunity. I told them that I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) flirt around in strange towns since my devotion to Christ & Ione are the first & second consideration of my life. So by staying faithful to my dear little beloved Ione the Lord blesses my life above measure. They were all sitting there breathless, and when I finished Margarite burst out, “It must be great to be in love”. Then she came to & looked slyly over at her (censored here, due to the previous line cut on the other side of the sheet) did we laugh. Just today Albert was telling me that another chap who was there had tears in his eyes as I was telling how much I thought of you. He is evidently having (again, censored) matrimonial trouble. What a shame for Christians to hasten on ahead of the Lord! But on the other hand the many that are supremely happy. I’ll soon know all the secrets of a happy married life. I can hardly wait dear to tell you how much I love you. I get so lonesome for you sometimes but then the Lord comforts my heart in praying; it is such a comfort to know His tender grace attends you; fresh every day.
It’s hard to believe that two years have gone since I saw you. Do you know Ione I was thinking and planning how I was ever going to say good bye to you at the train that night! I wanted to make it different from the farewells of the others in the group. And then I was afraid Mrs Pudney might notice it too much, so I just looked into your eyes a little longer & held your hand a little tighter. The next time — well I just won’t let go.
How have your little SS boys been treating their Mama Reed? Aren’t children interesting? Two Sundays ago I taught a group of boys & we had a glorious time figuring out how God was going to have people in Heaven. It wasn’t hard to bring in His plan from that point.
I had a letter from Mr Pudney last week & he had the good news that Vance & Joy, Naomi Snyder & Charlotte Dancy are going to Haiti in a few days. It is a grand field for the duration at least.
When I write the next letter I surely hope it will be to answer one you wrote probably in September. But don’t take it too seriously. I love you just the same. Titus 2:11-14 – Yours X Hector
Ione finally reaches Butembo and writes to the family on 16th November 1943:
Dearest Mother and Marcellyn,
Greetings in Christ from ‘way up in the mountains!
I have received your letters of May 28 and July 12 with Mother’s note attached and was surely thrilled with them. The greatest joy I believe was to hear that Marcellyn might come out here. I am praying that someday, not too far distant, we might be working together. And what would hinder Mother from coming, too? There are many missionary mothers here that I have met here, all enjoying good health and very happy to be working with their children. If you felt you could not come out under any mission, we could maybe save up enough money to help you come and be with us. There’s much you could do for the Lord out here.
I haven’t heard whether Marcellyn went to BJ College, but I take it she has, for Hector said in his last letter he was trying to keep Mother from being lonesome. I am waiting to learn whether our home is still in Pontiac, or in Cleveland, Tenn. (our home, you know, is wherever Mother is, even if it’s one room!) or at Lucille’s house.
I am glad you could make some records and that I will be able to hear them before very long. I may come home before Hector gets out, and if so, we might have the real people sing, “Because” and “I Love You Truly” at our wedding. I have told Hector that if he suddenly finds he can come to wait until he finds out for sure that I’m not already on the way home, for the Westcott’s are thinking they may need me to help them get home. It would be rather a shame for us to find that we were going in the opposite directions at the same time!
This vacation has not exactly been a success thus far, for there has been so much sickness. Mrs Westcott has spent 5 out of the first 14 days in bed, and we’ve all been in bed part of the time with a bad cold that came this week. It took weeks and weeks to help them get ready & for Dr to leave his work and during that time Ellen had two severe sick spells & Dr had one, but finally we started off Mon. Nov. 1 to Stanleyville where we stayed in the hotel three days. I did some shopping for the children and Ellen & I got permanents, very nice ones, but they cost $10. I let them cut my hair to the length it was when I left home. It had grown ‘way down my back. I bought a pretty blue & rose flowered shanting dress & some blue & white sandals. We drove on Thursday to Maganga, one of the U.F.M. stations & stopped for tea; went on to a lovely forest hotel where there were many animals like goats, antelope, etc. We had a little brick house to ourselves with a shower bath; no electric lights, slept in two rooms – Anne is my sleeping pal. Then on Friday we stopped at Boyulu, another of the U.F.M. stations, and went on to Nia Nia to another hotel, with huge rooms with life-size palms painted on the wall. The bath tub was like a horse trough & right in the most conspicuous part of the room. They give one towel to a family & it is as big as a blanket. Ellen laughed heartily when I spread in on a chair so that I could get at a corner of it to wipe Charlotte’s face.
There are as many dogs & cats as people in some of the hotels & often they eat on the table with the people. Saturday, we went on to Lolwa, an A.I.M. station where we were royally entertained by the Deans. Their station is in the Ituri Forest and among the Pygmies. We saw many of them and heard them sing. The babies are the size of other native babies, but at the age of about 10 they stop growing. Some say it’s because they seldom are in the sunlight. They cannot stand it out of the forest. They are nomadic & never stay in one place longer than 3 weeks.
Mrs Westcott had a severe heart attack on the way here & we stopped & all got out & let her stretch out & rest. She could not be moved from the Deans for 3 days.
On Thursday we left and went to Oicha, another mission station, where Dr Becker is, the man who gives Pearl her weekly treatments. But we did not see Pearl for she lives right on Ruwenzori Mountain, some 50 kilometres away. We had planned to go to Ruwenzori, but the people had gone away who were to have entertained us, so we only saw that beautiful mountain from the distance, but we clearly saw the snow on two of its glacier peaks. Imagine, snow a few miles south of the Equator! We went to a little hotel at Beni, on Wednesday, where we could see Mt. Ruwenzori all the time when it was clear. Here Mrs Westcott had a severe ill spell & we all got colds & Charlotte dysentery. We could not leave until yesterday, Monday. It was a miserable hotel, very unclean & the proprietoress & her daughter were carrying on some kind of funny business with different men every night. However, the food all along has been better than we have at Bongondza; fresh vegetables & meat & even strawberries!
We just had to leave Beni yesterday as a great group of soldiers had spoken for our rooms. So both Charlotte & Ellen got out of their beds & managed to make the journey here. We climbed all the way and have come to a delightful, cool spot where we can look down on the clouds. It is called the Butembo Guest House & we have two cozy rooms right on the top of the mountain, a back door looking down over clouds, a riot of beautiful wild flowers & hills, our front door opening out on gorgeous European & American flowers, dahlias, all colours, iris, calla lilies, nasturtiums, verbenas, painted daisies, roses all colours, and carnations. It is most restful & Mrs Westcott is able to walk again. The colds persist, but I think this cool climate will help. The food is very good. We may stay here as long as 16 days. If we do, it will cost me 1,000 francs ($25), but it is worth it.
The rest of the journey is the most promising, barring illness. We are now only a short distance from real volcanoes, a crater lake where we can swim, springs with boiling water, the great wild animal reservation where we’ll see 100 or more hippos at once, buffaloes, hyenas, lions, tigers, elephants, etc., then we’ll come to an elephant farm where they train elephants to pull & push loads. The older elephants teach the younger & when they don’t mind, they spank them with their trunks!
I have much for which to praise the Lord. Many missionaries live their entire years of service in the Congo without seeing this most beautiful part & I am seeing it already. It is not like a real rest, as I have much to do for Ellen & the children, but the change is fine & a real opportunity. It is improving my French also. I must supervise the children entirely most of the time & going to these French places I have to say something you know!
I am going to try to buy a cheap imitation diamond ring, for I have always one of two difficulties, I’m either taken for Dr’s wife, or else tho’t to be footloose & free. So I want these French soldiers & whatnots to know that Hector has me spoken for me. My own diamond may not come out for a long time.
There is a Greek refugee camp where we were where those people are staying during the war. I had the joy of dealing with a Greek merchant about his soul. Well, I expect we’ll be travelling for about two months unless Ellen gets too sick. I do not know where I’ll be at Christmas. I have an invitation to spend it with the Ludwig’s at Ekoko. I would like that very much, but don’t expect I’ll be back.
Mother, can you tell me who of the Newberry Church to write to & thank for the $38.00? If you can, will you thank them for me please? Please thank the Emmanuel Bapt. Ch. young people for the $25.00 and Mr Lassfolk for the $20.00. And who was the other lady who gave $20? Thank Margaret Mitchell for the $5. I want all of these addresses to write to them. Don’t let anyone give you funds for my work without getting the name & address if possible. People are so good to me & the least I can do is write. Did I tell you that the 2nd Mate on the Lashway, who gave me $175 – was drowned when the ship went down? I found out about it when the checks were cashed. He was “deceased,” but the money was good anyway. He died unsaved.
I am almost all the way across from you than ever before. But we can meet always at the Throne of Grace. He is so precious when loved ones are far away. I am trusting Him for all of my needs – and yours.
Loving you very much, Ione
An ecstatic Hector write to his prospective mother in law on 22nd November 1943, although it has taken three months to arrive, he has heard from Ione and she tells him that she has received all his gifts and is wearing the bracelet he sent with the kiss next to her skin. He adds:
“There are so many more things that I would like to tell you but most of all is that she loves me with ALL her heart. Her constant prayer for me is that I will always keep true. Bless her little heart! How could I help myself! The Lord has made me so thankful that his grace is well able to keep the sanctuary of my heart for Himself and Ione.
I’d just love to see you now and tell you all that the Lord has done in recent days since I last wrote you. Your prayers for me must be answered every day. Just to be God’s mouthpiece for a few minutes each day fills my soul with his glory and presence. What a preparation for the mission field!”
He recounts how Effie Parkhill and Charles Saringson finally get married after an eight year engagement. Charles had been on the Brazilian mission field however, the circumstances were such that Effie could not join him there. Naturally his thoughts turn to his own engagement and Mrs Pudney informs him he’ll be the next!
On November 25th 1943 writes a letter to her sister Marcellyn wishing her a Happy Birthday from the guest house she is staying in at Butembo. Elaborating on the news sent on the 16th November, Ione describes leaving Bongondza in pouring rain in Kinso’s truck which is a Ford delivery truck. The Doctor fashions a bench in the rear of the truck to accommodate the children whilst Ione, Ellen and Doctor sit in the cab. Much as Ione wishes to visit her friend Pearl who is nearby at Mount Ruwenzori, a visit cannot go ahead as so many of the party are ill and this would compromise Pearl’s recovery. The party move from Butembo on 20th November and relocate to Nyankunde because Ellen’s condition has deteriorated and the Doctor feels they need to be somewhere warmer. Ione writes:
“This is a mission station where two brothers and their wives live. We have been here four days now and Ellen is walking again. But today Bob is ill. Dr. & Anne have taken a two-day journey up north to Rethy, an A.I.M. station. We have wonderful food here; fresh pork, tomatoes, parsnips, lettuce, celery, beets, strawberries. I am putting on a few pounds I know. I got a permanent in Stanleyville and feel almost like I did at home. It was a good permanent – it ought to for it cost $10!! I heard from Hector along the way & have a picture of him in uniform. Don’t forget that wherever I am I still love you all. In Christ, Ione”
In buoyant mood, Hector writes to Ione on 28th November 1943; he describes the barrack room scene:
“This is two o’clock Sunday afternoon. I am sitting in the end bed in the barrack room. Butterfield is just about ten feet away ironing his shirts (imagine and him a Presbyterian). I helped him do his washing last evening and we had a good talk besides. He has done most of his Christmas shopping and did he ever make me envious. He got the grandest dresser set for his fiancée, something like $22. The mirror is especially nice. Oh, if your address were anywhere on this continent I would surely make use of the baggage facilities. But this one thing I can send you Ione, and that is the love out of a heart that is devoted to you alone. Probably this is of more value than any material gift. After getting those two letters, I’ve been so happy to tell you that the Lord is continually answering your prayers that I will be kept true.”
He also writes to Marcellyn on the same day and informs Ione:
“She too, sent me a letter last week. I don’t know whether or not it is sisterly love or what but she sent three kisses. However I told her that the one in Africa is worth three in America. She is quite concerned about Herbie. But I’m sure the Lord will work it out for His glory. She has the ‘engaged’ couple’s picture proudly on display. Likely she will be able to get home for Christmas.”
Hector proceeds to add detail about Effie’s wedding but this falls short of anything interesting, no description of gown etc. He then relates possible plans for his Christmas:
“It is possible that I will be able to get home for Christmas but I am not sure yet. We will soon be on a tour of duty again and it may be that it will be inconvenient to get back to Ontario. However, I will be able to get a good choice of gifts as I travel around. I have been picking up odd things as souvenirs and just last evening I was putting them into a box to send back to Avonmore. (Maybe the interpretation of that name will help you keep it in your mind. It is scotch for ‘big’ (more) ‘river’ (Avon). Of course I like Avonmore just as well.) The main things were a pair of oxen shoes, small pebbles of unusual design and markings, cards from the local drug stores of the various towns, etc… They will soon have a shelf full of such things from all Eastern Canada.”
Hector responds top points raised by Ione in a previous letter; the fact she is a year older than she thought does not cause him concern, stating:
“The change in your age is of no great consequence, except as it relates to other precious things that improve with age. Strange as it may be, the little picture that I have in my watch is evidently being slightly effected by the sunlight and you hair is turning white. Shall I say that it makes you more charming! ! ! One of the lads down in Yarmouth barely refrained himself when he saw this set up on my wrist, from repeating the usual associations of a face and a clock. At least mine is still going.”
He too has had dreams about Ione and George Kissinger:
“The account of the dreams was most encouraging in that sequence. Just a few days before your letter came I, too, dreamed a dream. We were in a meeting and as we came out I edged over toward you and we started walking down the street together. I still remember what Marcelly said about Geo. Kissinger; that when he was in school the boys called him, “Constantly”. I guess I would be willing to cut a path for Geo. if you said so.”
And ends the letter thus:
“A chap has just come up and invited me out for supper, so I may have to close shortly. Probably I can finish it off tomorrow morning. (Later) We were also out to church and were able to testify. I’ll enclose a picture of Alice & Irene and answer your other sweet letter next week. It is so satisfying to trust you. Your lover, Hector
PS: Honey! Did the bees make you? X”
Keeping to his pattern of letter writing, Hector writes to his future mother in law on the 7th December 1943:
“Dear Mother Mine:
Possibly there is a letter from you awaiting me in Scoudouc, as I’m out travelling again for a few days. Three of us are down at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia doing some work but we’ll be going back by the end of the week.
I trust you received the parcel I sent for Marcellyn’s Christmas present. I bought it on the way through Moncton and so thought it would be just as well to send it along. I know you’re going to like what I got for you as you’ll be using it every day.
I’d just love to get a great big surprise for Ione but I can send her my love – as much as she can use, which by her letters seems to be quite a lot.
I’d be thankful if you would wrap up Marcellyn’s present. I should think she’d be home for Christmas; if not you’ll know best what to do.
The Lord is wonderfully answering prayer on my behalf. Last evening I preached in a sort of mission hall for service men and the Lord gave me the undivided attention of the whole congregation. Oh it was glorious to see the truth of God lighten up faces. A chap came with me, Art Forester, who is in charge of our party from Scoudouc. He said he’d come if I didn’t speak over 24 minutes so I obliged him. His father is a modernist minister in Saskatchewan, but he’s just the regular type of fellow living without Christ. Oh! how I wish he’d take heed concerning his eternal state. I’ve had several good talks with him and I think he’s secretly glad he came with me last evening.
I had the good fortune to meet a man from High Park Baptist Church (in Toronto) the other evening and strange as it seems he thinks something can be done about my ordination. I guess Ione’s heart prayers are being answered. I don’t want to stay in the Air Force a minute longer than it is the Lord’s will. He is still giving me daily contacts for His glory. It will be grand to see the fruits of these precious days when we all get to glory. I know they will be the outstanding thing of each day.
It would be ideal if I could take you and Marcellyn out for a turkey supper on Christmas and talk and laugh and read and pray, but I’ll be thinking of you and telling all the folks at home about my other family that is so near and closely knit to my heart. May God bless and comfort you with His love every moment of your busy day.
Much Love – Hector X (Barrel full of kisses)”
On the 13th December, 1943 it’s Ione’s turn to receive a letter:
Dear Miss Reed:
Not that my heart is saying that but just to have something different. I better start in this time by answering your letter in case I might not have enough room at the end. But first I must tell you that I love you more and more and more all the time. You must really be praying that something will happen as there seems to be something astir. Oh! how I long to be in your presence, in fact your absence is painful. But I guess it must needs be that way for a time. I think you will see the reason when you read on a little farther in the letter.
I’m so glad you mentioned my sister Jean in your last letter. I wrote and told her what you said and she was more than pleased. I’ll have to answer plenty of questions when I get home for Christmas. They are all so happy about our relationship.
Needless to say I read your letter over several times, and finally I awakened to the fact that 2B was intended for to be. I suppose it is because it is not accompanied by that cute little side tilt of your head. I’ll have to go a long way before I am worthy of the title Mrs Pudney used so much, “My wonderful Husband.” But I give you my promise that I will try to be the best husband possible. I’m certainly looking forward to happy times together…….maybe even a hundred years.
Wouldn’t it be grand to drop in on one of your extemporaneous gatherings! Sure and indeed I would be dressed up like a leopard. Remember those pictures we were looking at one evening in Phila; taken when the Pudneys were up at the Lake of Bays. Well, something like that. But of course the farmer’s wife would presently chase me out with a broom.
Your kitchen activity assures me that I shall never go hungry. Maybe it is just as well I’m not there during this stage of experimenting. I’ve been quite close to that already….just before the candidate period. But you did not have so much to plan for then. Mrs Pudney just wouldn’t let me say anything for a long time. I guess she just wanted to protect your interests. But I will admit you need someone to help you fix clocks. Poor dear Ione; all by herself. Someday we’ll be glad to forget all about a time piece, except to let us know the time of the wedding.
The other day I was able to go shopping so I thought it would be only the right thing to do, to get something for this Reed family. I got a cute little blue sweater for Marcellyn and a silver serviette ring with ‘Mother’ engraved in it for our mother. I know she will like it.
You spoke about the quietness of the night while you were writing. I can really look ahead to such times with great eagerness…after this barrack life. Even left-over rain would scarcely disturb the peacefulness. But that is yet in the future and still beyond that we have the rest that is promised to the people of God. Have I told you about the book I bought in Yarmouth, “The Saints Everlasting Rest’? It is so good. It’s so full of the Word of God. That is when it will indeed come true, “Peace be still”. And then you closed your letter with a kiss…the first one, but not the last.
But now I will use the rest of the space to enlarge on the news that I sent (or am sending tomorrow night) in the cablegram. The last two weeks have been spent down around Halifax again. The night we were going back I discovered at the station that I had forgotten my identification discs. So the other two chaps went on and since I couldn’t go until the next morning anyway I decided to go with a group of Christians to a military hospital and get my forgotten articles afterwards. I met a brother of Tommie Northcote so the two of us walked to the hospital and met some other folks there. We enjoyed quite a lot of singing and then had some testimonies. It happened that I was the last one and as usual these days, the Lord gave me great liberty. Afterwards a fellow over in the end bed called me and asked if I had a Bible or Testament. I had a used one which I was glad to let him have. It seemed like a real opening so we began to talk on spiritual matters. He mentioned that there was something I said in my testimony that got him thinking. So I began once more to tell the same fragrant story of God’s love for sinners. He told me a little of his life in between times, and this is it.
His father and mother were not married so he had no home. He was just recently returned from service in England and found out who his mother was. He wrote and asked her if she wanted to take him into the family but she refused. Then he married a girl who already had a child. He just had to have someone to care for him. Then he took sick with piles and is due for an operation. What a soul hungry for the very thing the Lord Himself can provide.
We looked over a few scriptures and he simply devoured them. He soon readily consented to pray. The Lord gave me a real faith to believe Him as His presence was so near. Then he followed with a true and contrite heart petition for forgiveness, trusting implicitly for the future and finally be freed in the day of judgement. It was grand to see a soul making peace with God through the Blood of His Son. Doesn’t the Lord know how to rearrange our affairs so that He can get His work done! It is hard to be without you dear but I can be content when the Lord has His hand upon our lives. Keep on praying for His will to be done.
So once again Good Night ! ! ! !
On the 18th December 1943, Ione is back at Bongondza and writing to her mother, after six weeks of travelling. During that time, plans have changed frequently and instead of an early return to America or spending Christmas with the Ludwig’s at Ekoko, she is back to spending 10 hours a day at the doctor’s house in addition to getting up early so she can squeeze in what she regards as ‘true’ missionary work. The trip has given her a new perspective and possibilities and Ione clutches at the thought of her mother joining her in Africa; she writes:
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
Your Oct. 8 letter followed me around the Congo and after I returned to the station it came back. We have been back one week now, after a six weeks journey thru the mountains. It was a real opportunity for me to see more lovely places and to enjoy good food, all the strawberries we could eat, fresh peas, rhubarb, cauliflower, beef, and cow’s milk fresh. I know I feel better for the journey, tho’ it was hard in many ways, for during four of the six weeks someone of the family was too ill to travel. Every single member of the Westcott family, as well as myself, had times of real sickness, including ear infection, amoebic dysentery (my first attack), pneumonia symptoms, beside Ellen’s usual sinus troubles. But I think the change did them all some good. Doctor is so happy to be back, that he is working his head off already.
Your return address was the first inkling I had as to your whereabouts. I had been wondering and wondering, and I’m afraid worrying some about what you were doing, how you were managing since Marcellyn gave up her job. You remember I left her to take my place, and it seemed like you had no one now. But now that I have your letter I can see how the Lord does provide and lead.
Your letter supports a feeling that I have had for some time and that is concerning people coming to this field when they are a bit advanced in years. The Deans, the people where we recently visited, came out with three grown children, the oldest says he came out as a missionary himself. Well, the two younger children finished their schooling at the Rethy school for whites and went back to America for Bible training and now are out here again as missionaries, so that all three children are working with the father and mother on two stations three hours apart, all of the children are married and have children of their own at the Rethy school also. It is a very happy family and they are doing a fine work. I was thinking how welcome the older couple made us feel, and tho’ they are now not able to do very much station work, they help to take care of the younger children and entertain missionary visitors which is a very great need here because of lack of workers.
I tho’t how great a ministry you could have if you could just get out. My salary I am sure, along with the special gifts that continually come, would support both of us, and you and I could provide several lovely rooms to entertain tired and overworked and ill white people. This of course would be secondary to the real missionary work of which you would find as much to do as you have strength. One thing, you could teach music to the natives. If they could read notes, we could have a lovely choir. And if you came out I insist that you must bring a piano. The Westcott’s managed it and it is a wonderful help in both native and white work. And all of your lovely piano pieces would be such an inspiration to me. I hear them in my mind many times and get actually starved for them! The one thing in question is your health. If you have continual colds this climate will aggravate them. You must be feeling good when you come. Won’t you pray much about this? I haven’t talked to the Jenkinson’s about it, nor do I know what arrangements could be made with the Mission. But if I have your word that you are willing to come, and spend the rest of your life here, I’ll arrange it.
If the sailing conditions permit, I expect to come back with the Westcott’s, not only because they cannot travel without assistance, but because Mr Jenkinson is of the opinion that I should be married at home and come out with Hector, rather than wait for his coming out and starting his first term before I can get a rest. Mr J. feels that I have had a rather difficult two years already and should not start the next station work at Ekoko (if that is to be the place) without rest. The difficult part has been in very long hours, continually taking care of sick people besides the teaching and village work. If this plan should take place in the next few months, and I were to be married this year (1944), then I would like very much to come back by the end of the year with Hector, you and Marcellyn. Does that sound impossible? I do not think so, for “with God all things are possible”. One thing, tho’, it would be wise for Marcellyn to have a little nurse’s training somewhere, if it were only for a few months. No one at Ekoko is specially trained for that. You would not need much equipment, Mother. The things I have ordered would be enough for both of us, with the exception of perhaps a nice comfortable roll-away bed with a good mattress. And my pretty towels that I left at home, and some things like that you have. Don’t say much about it to others but pray a lot, and let me know soon what you feel God would have you do. If you could save about $300 I could provide the rest for your transportation.
This Christmas will be rather a sad one here. My present housemate, Miss Joan Pengilly received word recently that her father has died. She does not have the details, nor does she know yet where her Mother is or who is providing for her. Won’t you pray for her Christian mother? Joan will go next week to Ekoko and begin work in the girls’ school. She is a likeable English girl, and I have enjoyed living with her very much. Pearl is getting along fine at Ruwenzori and I heard she has gained 9 pounds. Doctor Westcott expects she will come back here in April.
When I came back from the trip with the Westcott’s I found my house leaking in every room, and some things rusted, so I am trying to protect as much as I can until a little brick house which Kinso is remodelling is completed. It is the same little house where Pearl and I first lived (the one the roof blew off, you know), and it is partitioned off into five nice little rooms and they’re putting glass windows in even. In my present house we have just board shutters and screens. When the little brick house is finished I’ll move there until this one can be mended and re-roofed (just another layer of leaves).
I have already a list of things which will make a Congo house nicer, among them a treadle sewing machine, which is not difficult to bring across but is a great time-saver. The machine I brought was really bought for Pearl, I learned, for it said so on the card they put with it, so I have been able to use it always, but it will stay with her when I go. You remember I had picked it out, but the Children’s Church wanted to do something for her so they paid for all of it.
Since coming back from the trip I have spent a good deal of time at Doctor’s again, helping them to get settled once more, and Mrs Westcott is not too well, as this season is not yet over in which she usually has pneumonia. I have been trying to get my own home in trim before I go over, as well as take hospital and village meetings. I spend 10 hours a day there, as an average, but sometimes it runs over. I have found if I get to bed at a reasonable hour, I can get up ever so early and get my work done, have devotions, and walk as far as I like holding meetings. Then I come back, have breakfast, and go over at 9:30 or 10. Doctor is usually conducting the children’s school until that time. However, this is the end of the school semester now and no school work to do for natives. When the new term starts I am praying that I can have enough time free (if Mrs W feels well enuf) to work in the boys’ school. Mr J. has already told me that I could have it if I have the time. I would be thrilled, for there is a limitless possibility of having 50 to 100 boys under my care. I have been teaching them once a week for 8 months and 9 have accepted Christ and a number have offered themselves to the Lord for full-time service.
The Lord is so good to me in giving me health to carry on. He has taught me many lessons, the chiefest patience, I guess. I sort of got discouraged because I was so confined at the Doctor’s, but then He showed me what real possibilities I had, and I believe if I make the best of them, He’ll give me more time to do evangelistic work. I learned lately, too, that some missionaries spend their full-time just travelling about holding meetings, and I might even do that later, just like I did at home. I have always tho’t that a missionary’s work was divided into just two, teaching and medical, but there are many more, chiefly this evangelistic work, among missionaries as well as the natives. I don’t think I ever will be a good teacher, and I get nauseated when I have to be in a room where the Doctor operates, but I do believe I am an evangelist, don’t you? However, I must know something about these other two lines to carry on at all, and I’m getting the medical at the Doctor’s house, and the teaching in the Bongondza school. The Lord is preparing me for real work in the future I know. How good He is to us. And He does meet all of our needs, doesn’t He?
Oh, the two boxes you sent were perfectly grand! They were waiting for me when I returned. Everything fits fine and do I ever need them! The gum will make Christmas festive. Love, Ione
P.S. December 24 – Had an Xmas telegram from Hector.
Ione seems to be heading for a Christmas so different from the previous one; her home has been damaged by a leaking roof, her best friend is miles away and her current house companion is about to relocate to the mission station she has hoped to join. No wonder she hankers for her mother and wishes she and her sister could join her.
A letter from Hector written on 21st December 1943 to Mrs Reed alludes to a problem that has arisen suddenly and would seem to feature Doris as Hector writes:
“Wouldn’t it be grand if Doris could come home again. It would mean so much to her as well as you. I often wonder what she is doing out there. Knowing service life as it is I can only pray that the Lord’s hand will not be shortened, nor His ear heavy.”
He shares with his future mother in law some of his recent activities; the man in the Hospital in Halifax to whom he gave a Bible became a Christian:
“How wonderful to lead one the same way that I too came several years ago! It’s a rare thing these days to find one who is fed up with the society of ungodly men and unprofitable companions.”
Hector also reports that he has cabled Ione with Christmas greetings and informed her that Mrs Reed is with her daughter Lucille for Christmas.
Hector writes to Ione on 29th December1943:
“Ye are complete in Him…” Very best wishes for a brand new year! This time next year, maybe.!
I just got a parcel today from your mother with three things in it…a handkerchief, a lovely necktie and a picture of herself. It is very good of her and it will indeed be a treasure. How I would love to be with her at this time when things are so undecided! Did you know that while she was in the Faith Gospel Mission an old bachelor (about 42) fell in love with her and to solve the matter she decided to leave the mission. Oh what snares in the pathway of the saints! It must have been hard to leave full time work like that but it seems the only way. Not that I blame anyone for being attracted…the magnetic drawing power of this Reed family!
I just heard a fellow say a few minutes ago when we were in washing clothes that Art Forester thought it would be alright to get engaged since the love bug would bite a fellow like McMillan. So he got himself engaged over Christmas. He was telling me about it this morning while we were talking for a few minutes. He had gotten a little dog holding a basket in his front paws. So he wrapped the ring in cotton with the diamond just sticking out of the top and put it in the little basket. Then he wrapped the top part of the dog in a piece of paper with the tail sticking out. The old trick of layers and layers. When unwrapping it she said she more or less thought it was all over when she saw the dog’s tail and very slowly took off the rest. Of course the rest just can’t be told. Some day we two (too) will write such a page in history. Just imagine to have you stand there holding out your dear little finger, while the ring snugly slips over what is called the metacarpal joint. After that you will be really all my own! Just the other evening I was reading in Ez. and came across a verse where I had added the capital letter “I” so that it read I,one Reed. I must have put that in last year when I was reading through. By the way I must be at the end of the Old Test. by Jan. 1st since that is where I was last year. (A chap just passed some food around among the fellows and as a result I’m eating a doughnut so that is an excuse to start a new paragraph.) I still remember your joke about pass cook; halt doughnuts.
Well, dear, I had a grand Christmas, Irene and Ken and of course Barbara were able to get to Avonmore. I wish you could see that child. She takes all the prizes. Irene is so proud of her. But the best of all was my visit with Florence and her family. She has gone on wonderfully with the Lord, and that mostly alone. She listens quite often to Chas. Fuller on the air, but other than that hasn’t much Christian fellowship. Audrey and Joan are 8 and 7. The other day they came and asked Florence why Jesus died on the cross. So as the questions come she takes time off to tell them. Audrey is especially keen. She finds it very hard to tell them about the language their daddy uses but they seem to understand where the trouble lies. However he is very happy at his work and does help to keep the children under discipline, at home. Florence and I talked until about one forty-five Christmas morning. The train from down east was nine hours late getting into Montreal and that meant I missed the train for Avonmore, so I stayed with Florence and went up the next morning. We had so much to talk about and of course she read over your letters. You have no idea Ione just how much you mean to our whole family. If they are this way from talk what will it be like when they see you? Florence had a letter from your mother so gradually we are all getting acquainted.
Then I went up home on Christmas morning. I sat with a sailor on the train and he was telling me that there was a chap from near his home that went out to Three Hills, and he battled for a long time deciding whether or not to go. How sorry he is now that he didn’t. The navy life is very interesting in one way. He told of a particular trip when the ice gathered on one side of the boat and it took a list of about 45 degrees. They were expecting any minute to go right over. Before this happened, the language was terrible but he said all the men except one stopped swearing and it was nothing unusual to go into a room and see a man jump up off his knees. He said that he himself took a stand for the Lord down in Halifax in the Salvation Army. We had a good heart to heart talk.
Well, then I got home. My brother was at the station with the car and of course he asked me if I wanted to drive it home…which I did. What a turkey dinner ! ! Then we opened our gifts. Dad got so many things! I was able to get him a pair of sheepskin lined shoes. They are worth $6, but I knew they would give him a lot of comfort. Ken and Irene gave me a billfold, Jean a diary and picture folder; Archie a subscription to the “Reader’s Digest”, Alice sent a nice pair of Airforce Blue socks, etc…. Saturday evening we went up to visit an aunt who is over 80. She is not long for this world but has been very patient in her recent suffering. I was able to have reading and prayer with quite a number of relatives there. I read First Peter 1. We got home that evening about 9:30 and after a light lunch Dad gave me the Bible and I knew the time had come for something definite in our family. Florence and I had talked the night before about the necessity for some decisions one way or the other. Phil. 2:1-11 formed the basis for telling as plainly as possible the plan of Salvation. We all had the understanding that there was to be no doubt about the issue. Ken was quite open about the whole affair. Irene was rather quiet. Dad was agreeable, and Archie too in number of things. But Jean was confused. Then when we knelt to pray I asked anyone at all to feel free to talk to the Lord. Jean after a few minutes led in quite a nice prayer. She even asked God to forgive her. After she finished I asked her if she believed He had. She wasn’t sure; and when I probed a little deeper with questions she began to get stubborn. Then the battle started. She said she was sorry she had led in prayer, but of course I was glad she did. When she got quite sassy and foolish about it I went beside her chair. The atmosphere was tense. I could hear the others breathing heavily. She kept shifting her grounds, finally saying that she did not believe in Hell. She seemed possessed for some spirit as I look back on the scene now. Everything seemed blocked. OH! what bondage. She did hate to lose her face. She has been the concern of the whole family, because she is really not happy and is encased in modernism. She has never done anything really wrong like Florence has. If she would only go out on a wild party just once. That would be enough to show her the prodigal nature in this heart of ours. So I closed in prayer in tears. I went outside on the porch and wept my heart out. I just couldn’t let her go. I don’t think I have ever wept so abundantly. The Lord only knows what is ahead. I later talked it over with Florence and Eleanor in Montreal and phoned Irene too just before I got on the train for the east. Our own loved ones are the hardest to talk to. But mother prayed for us all. So many people saw such a new happiness in my life and I know it is because of what the Lord has done recently…giving me souls to speak to every day.
So long for now dear precious gift of God. Forever Yours. XXXXXXXXXXXX Hector
For Hector, it is a real burden that his family do not convert to Christianity as he would like, especially when it seems he does better with casual acquaintances.