Bongondza: Ione’s Third Year – Winds of Change and Shifting Sands (1944)
On January 8th 1944, Hector, keeping to his routine write to Mrs Reed. Much as he loves his own family, they are not all Christians unlike Ione’s family and his longing to be with Ione is paramount in his thoughts:
Received your gracious gifts after I came back from my Christmas holidays at home. Thanks so much for the tie and hankie. It will be the first one I’ll put on when I get out of the armed services. Who knows I may wear it on my wedding day? Did you know that I’m going to marry the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen or heard of!!! And besides being so nice herself; she has a very loveable family. I just wish you could read the letter I got today from Marcellyn. She apparently wants to repay me for the sweater I sent her, in hugs and kisses; and of course I wouldn’t mind at all. (I just long for someone to love. I rather think I’m going to have a lot of it saved up for Ione.) I’m glad it fits so well. She says it’s soft and different and blue and British and pretty. Maybe she won’t be inclined to make so much fun of that Canadian dishtowel now! But at least it allowed for plenty of laughs.
And thanks too for that picture that makes you look so young and refreshing. You seem to be looking right at me. It certainly recalls a lot of pleasant, happy memories, which I know are but an omen of things to come. Why didn’t I meet this Reed family years ago????
I’ve just returned from a very interesting trip up to the Gaspe coast again. It was to a station where they are able to do some skiing in their spare time so I had some real sport. Once again the Lord gave me souls to deal with each day. I’m beginning to see why Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” The more I see the needs of men, the greater the desire to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Last night coming home on the train I was walking through one of the coaches and met a chap that I had known slightly before, so he invited me to sit down beside him. After a while he mentioned the fact that he did not profess to be a Christian, so there followed a very blessed time of spiritual conversation, in fact well over an hour. As you pray for me, dear, ask the Lord to keep me sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that I will say nothing amiss and moreover that I may say the right thing. There is so much truth to present in these short chats, but there is some particular portion that is applicable.
Much as I would love to stay longer with you by letter, I better close for now. Someday I will not have to confine my love to such small amounts as a letter will carry, but I know you understand.
Loving you with ALL my heart, Hector X
On January 9th 1944, Ione writes to her very good friend Evie. It has been a while since she last wrote so includes details of life that are already recorded, like the 3000 mile trip that took six weeks with the Westcott’s and how everyone was ill:
“We saw snow on the peaks of Mt. Ruwenzori, and shivered in mountain guest house, but it was very invigorating, too. There were hotels nearly all along the way, for we took a tourist route, and that part was fun, for I had been doing so much of that kind of work since coming. We met some lovely missionaries, and I had the privilege of singing in a number of places. Doctor plays beautifully on the musical saw as well as the piano and organ and we had many pleasant evenings and services with natives.”
Although Mrs Westcott has not fully recovered, the mission leader, Mr Jenkinson recognises Ione’s need for something that will fulfil her and offers her:
“full charge of the boys’ school next term and this gives me a real thrill, for I have been very interested in them. I expect there will be at least fifty, and I hope to make it 100. I am not sure how my school work”
In this letter, the plan is still for Ione to accompany the Westcott’s back to America with the hope that she and Hector get married before returning to Africa; otherwise, Hector will have to spend some time apart from Ione as the Carters did when they came separately as missionaries to the Congo. The other reason for wishing Ione and Hector married before Hector reaches Congo is that the Jenkinson’s have not been back to England for a long time and are due a break. If the McMillan’s come back as a couple, they could relieve the Jenkinson’s and both stay at Bongondza.
Ione’s home circumstances have also changed:
So much for news. I have been thinking how long it has been since I heard from you, and how little I’ve been writing. I expected to write while on the journey, but every moment was occupied with children and sick folk. I think I should qualify for nurse or governess soon! Now I am taking care of a little molatto child; (mulatto children were often abandoned in forest in the Congo at that time as neither black nor white society wanted them, lucky ones were rescued) she is asleep in the next room at the moment, about 2 years old. I keep her all day and she sleeps with a responsible native lady at night. Her father was a Greek and he was brought here unconscious, and after an illness of several weeks, died. I stayed some nights with him, and helped to feed his brother – who took care of him. He had nephritis, and then contracted a disease that everyone in the station had been having called Dengue Fever. It only is fatal with infants and the infirm, but it was fatal to him. When he died, Doctor had spent so many nights and days over him that he himself contracted it, and I had to take charge of the burial, the making of the coffin, digging the grave, etc. We didn’t know about his native wife until the cousins and brother came bringing this little girl for us to take care of. There was a baby boy, too, but that is still with the mother. But the (Greek) relatives want little Katherine to be cared for as a white person. Mrs Jenkinson has been supervising this, but she is away just now. Katherine is a dear little girl, and it is so much fun to arrange the dark ringlets in little curls. When she is old enough she will go to a mulatto school at Katwa in the mountains.”
Ione explains to Evie why she did not share much of her growing relationship with Hector when it was in its early stages; it is evident George was known to Evie and Ione explains:
“When I sailed I wrote to George and told him I would not be writing him anymore, for it seemed that our ways were separated now. …. Well, George kept writing anyway but I have written him that I am engaged, so I expect the letters will stop soon. And after Hector had been writing a year, every two weeks, he suddenly popped the question, and because he was expecting then to be sent abroad in the air service, I wanted him to have a definite answer before he left, so I cabled the answer, Yes. It reached him May 12, but I had no confirmation of it for several months, for all mail was cut off at that time.”
Having told her mother not to discuss her proposition that she joined her on the mission field, Ione shares it with Evie when writing about her family:
“I guess you’ve heard all the news about my family. That our home is broken up, Doris ran away and married a Catholic boy, Marcellyn is in Bob Jones College, preparatory to coming to the mission field, Lucille and Maurice are at Charlevoix, and Mother is in Pontiac staying with a Christian lady at 194 Ogemaw Road. If you can contact any of them, I would be so happy. I have written asking Mother if she would be willing to go back to the mission field with me. It would surely be great if she could be out here. I am quite confident that it could be arranged, for others have done it.”
The closeness and safety of this relationship between Evie and Ione is revealed in this next section of the letter:
“You looked so happy and pretty in the picture. I have your miniature right before my eyes all of the time on the desk. And it’s a face that I never get tired of. When I am lonely or upset or tired or if I’m rejoicing, it’s always appropriate, – that kind of face, you know! I only keep Hector’s and yours there now. The little watch that so faithfully reminded me of you is resting temporarily, for want of skilled attention. I think the humidity here has clogged the oil. It did the same to my clock, and that, too, was guaranteed for ever so long. But it’s just Africa. I was able to buy a cheap man’s watch in Stanleyville, and that gets me by all right. Mother has arranged with the church for a Montgomery Ward order and it’s on the way now. They have already sent a catalogue, too, and it’s so much fun looking at dress and hair styles after two years! I was able to get a permanent in Stanleyville last month and altho’ it is not the best, I have enjoyed it ever so much.”
The impact of living in such a humid country is further revealed with regard to Ione’s home:
You would laugh at my little mud house, now, for it is in need of a new roof. It leaks in every room and a tropical shower is no small trickle either! The mud walls are crumbling on the outside, and the cream colored plaster is peeling off inside. But the little one-room brick house where Pearl and I first stayed has been remodelled and has now four rooms and bath and in a few weeks I may move there while a new roof goes on this one. The natives will gather leaves from the forest, split their stems and tie them on to poles. They fit on like petals of flowers, very pretty while green and prettier still when brown with a huge purple bougainvillea bush flowering over it. Where leaves have rotted on the roof sometimes plants and vines start to grow. In the front yard are yellow and pink roses in bloom now. We have some unusual flowers and vegetables we bro’t back from the mountains to start in Mrs Westcott’s flower house. There are strawberries, rhubarb, carnations, and Easter lilies among them.
May God richly bless you. Love, Ione
Ione’s second letter on 9th January 1944, is to her mother wishing her a Happy New Year. Ione was without news for a while during her travels of six weeks with the Westcott’s. The letters were forwarded to her but finally reached her back at Bongondza.
Ione has obviously had news of her mother via Hector but has lots of her own questions:
“It is hard to imagine Mother without a home, but I am glad you are able to be in full-time Christian service. I would like to know more about what you are doing, what hours you have, etc. In Hector’s recent letter he said something about your being in love. I want to know more about that, too! Is it Mr Presnell? What are your plans for the future, or don’t you know? Any chance of your coming out here?”
She describes the hankies Hector had sent out, which arrived in good condition unlike a previous one:
“Part of the letter was cut, but the hankie was in perfect condition. Once before one hankie got cut, too. But I didn’t tell Hector, and it is easily mended (when I get time!).”
Ione follows on with more about Katherine who is about 2 or 3; her Greek relatives are planning for her to attend a school run by missionaries in another region:
“Little Katherine is being taught to speak English but she speaks Bangala most of the time. She calls me Mama Needy, and I guess I am, most of the time! The natives can’t say R, so they substitute either L or N for it. And they can’t end a word with a consonant, but always put Y or A or O at the end of a word.”
Despite this extra task Ione is still managing all her other activities:
I am carrying on my hospital and village meetings early in the morning, and when I take Katherine home at night to sleep with a responsible native woman, I generally make a few calls and sit about the fires and chat or sing. Last night I taught Machini, the head teacher, the bass part of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”. I took Katherine to another house to talk to an evangelist and they asked her to sing. She sang the native words to “Come Over on the Sunny Side,” which I had taught the boys this year. Then when they had ceased their praise of it, she looked at them very soberly and said in their language, “Let’s pray”, so they all bowed their heads and she prayed. It was awfully cute for she is so tiny, but very definitely loves Jesus.
So you remember that hymn in Glad Gospel Songs, “Praise God, My Sins are Gone?” Lolo Morrow used to sing it often at Lapeer. Well, I translated it into a song suitable for Christmas and had the evangelists and boys sing it. It’s called, “Noel,” which is the same in French and Bangala, as in English. They can’t help putting a Y on the end, tho’, so it sounded like “Noely!!” You might be interested in the native words.
“Bisu asiravandi na tangu na Noel;
Chorus: Mototo muke Yesu mama abutaki,
Noel, azi Noel! Na sika na banyama na Noel.
Bisu asiratandi kusika na Noel;
Mojalisa, Mobikisa, kusikisa bisu,
Noel, azi Noel! Noel, azi Noel!
“We have gathered at the time of Christmas, oh, it’s Christmas!
We have arranged rejoicing at Christmas, Christmas, oh, it’s Christmas!
The little boy Jesus its mother gave in the house of animals at Christmas
Creator, Saviour, causing us to rejoice – Christmas, oh, it’s Christmas!”
The evangelists would sing the verse up to the part, “Noel, azi Noel,” and then the boys’ chorus would burst in with that each time. The children sang the chorus part, too. Then for variation, I had two little boys sing as a duet two of the stanza parts. Here’s some of the other verses:
“Nasima azalaki na butu na Noel; (Now it came to pass on the eve of Christmas 😉
Noel, azi Noel!
Maria abutaki mototo na Noel, (Mary gave a child at Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!
Na sika na banyama, mikolo na Noel, (In the house of animals, on the day of Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!
Bo amenaki mama, na mwana na Noel, (They found the mother and babe at Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!
Ye mwana na libosu, bipuru na Noel, (He was the first child and pure at Christmas,)
Noel, azi Noel!
Akumba mabe nyoso pua batu na Noel, (But He’ll carry everybody’s sins for Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!
Solo mikolo ndeli, mototo na Noel, (Someday the child of Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!
Kusika na kubika, akumi na Noel, (Rejoicing and salvation come thru Christmas)
Noel, azi Noel!”
This language is very limited to express what one really means. But there was a soul saved the morning they sang it.
I have averaged this year a native meeting every other day and there have been 22 souls saved. I tho’t I was not able to do anything for my household duties and care for the sick, but the Lord is using my feeble efforts. When school starts I am hoping to be able to conduct the boys’ school entirely. But this depends wholly upon whether Mrs Westcott is able to carry on over there. They have much to do with giving the children their schoolwork, etc. Ann is doing some high school subjects now, and their studies are quite complicated. Mrs Westcott is not very strong yet, but does quite a bit.
Ludwig’s are hoping to soon get off to America, but by a different route than was originally planned. I do not know how it will work out, for it is very dangerous just now. Doctor will not risk it, but if Ludwig’s get safely thru I think Doctor may try.
I am feeling well, and am maintaining my added weight I think, altho’ I’ve not weighed recently. My blood count was down and I took iron and I think it must have come back up. For whenever I prick my finger the blood is redder. I don’t have the headaches I had then, too. Whenever headaches start for anyone out here it is a sign that the blood is anaemic. But iron helps. I am a bit nervous, but Doctor says everyone is their first term, getting adjusted to native life and having their help constantly. It would be much easier to do one’s own work often than try to teach them. They are straight from the forest in many cases and it is a strain to teach them. But I think I am getting adjusted and by the time I go home and come back I will find little trouble with nervousness. My greatest concern is that I’m doing too little for the Lord. He has done so much for me. May God richly bless you on your Birthday. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you. Lovingly, Ione
The third letter Ione writes on the 9th January 1944 is to Hector. It is a long one and unworthy of editing even though some information is covered in the two letters above because it demonstrates the love trust and longing Ione is experiencing, and what is uppermost in her mind at this time:
Dearest Hubby (2B),
Greetings in Jesus’ Precious Name! This year I can say more truly than ever before, “The Lord HATH done great things for us, whereof we are glad!” For me, in particular, because I have you. Soon we shall be engaged for a year, and even if the engagement plus separation, can’t be such a comfort and satisfaction, what will it be to be married?? Don’t ever think that I’m getting a ‘pig in a sack’. I only want time and opportunity to show to you that I really do love you and want to be with you.
A letter and a telegram chased me all around thru the mountains, but finally came back here, two letters, in fact; Sept. 28 and Oct. 13. I was so glad to learn via the telegram that at last Charles and Effie are married. However did it happen? Was he bro’t home especially to be married? (That will be my case, so I am told) And can they go back without difficulty? Thanks so much for giving me that information. I trust ours will be next. If Westcott’s find they can go home soon, I expect to come along, and THEN – can you think of anything that would prevent us from getting married? Even if you are still in the Airforce could you not be married? Or would it be prohibited?
The day before Christmas your Christmas cable arrived. How in the world did you time it so accurately? You surely are a peach to give me such a happy Christmas. It was great to know of a soul’s being saved, where Mother was, and that you had remembered the family. I would have loved to do something for them at Christmastime. But you are taking my place at home. It is such a comfort and joy to me to know this.
Your latest letter arrived on Dec. 30th. I don’t know when or where it was written, for the first time it was cut off, perhaps for what was written on the back side, where you had been or something. At any rate, the silk hankie came in such nice shape, perfectly folded and with the beautiful wings of the RCAF in the corner. This is a lovely gift and I do thank you ever so much. I shall not use it until you are with me.
Your system is a good one for contacting people continually, and the Lord is giving you rich experiences in your service to your country (and mine!). I am encouraged to do more whenever I read your letters. I have been feeling discouraged because my time is so filled with sewing, feeding little mouths, combing hair, etc. But I added up the figures in my meeting book and found that I had averaged a native service every other day during 1943 and that 22 souls had been saved. Most of these, however, were saved during the two months I was in ½-time schedule and could get out more to the people. But the average is helpful to look back upon, when I tho’t that perhaps I had been just marching time so far. Won’t you pray that I will take advantage of EVERY opportunity? I was interested to read in “Moody Monthly” a little account of the late Dr. Howard A. Kelly, world renowned scientist; “A little question-mark pin always worn on Dr. Kelly’s left coat lapel was the opening wedge to many a talk on Christian faith. He waited only for a query to respond that it stood for the greatest question ever put, “What think ye of Christ?” He never allowed himself to be drawn into needless controversy over Jonah or the miracle of the virgin birth, but like a lodestar held the questioner to a clear decision; “Define first what you think of Christ – whose Son is He – and all other questions will be settled naturally and easily.” The rose in his buttonhole was another valued approach to a testimony. Whenever one would exclaim on its beauty or freshness, he would always say, “It is a Christian rose, because it has hidden sources of life and grace” as he turned over his lapel to reveal a small tube of water into which the stem was inserted.”
Yes, I remember the Baptist Church at Cleveland. I spent many a happy day there. And since then have kept up a correspondence with them. They sent a gift of money just recently.
Your jokes are so welcome, and furnish me many a good chuckle, as well as others.
Since returning from the six-week trip on Dec. 11, I have been trying to carry on some sort of native work thru hospital and village meetings, and work fulltime at Doctor’s. There is no school now until Feb., but I have been promised the boys’ school for next term. Please pray that Mrs Westcott will be strong enough to conduct part of household duties, not just because I want to be freer, but because it is to His glory to heal her entirely.
If the Westcott’s do not get away before the summer time in America is finished they may have to wait another year, for they do not want to arrive there in winter. It is all very indefinite as yet, and they are settling down to many more months of waiting, but I would not be surprised if they are suddenly allowed to go, and that would mean me, too!
I think I’ll try to enclose a snapshot. You may have to pay extra on it, or it may come back to me. This was taken last August, shortly after Miss Pengilly (very ill) had arrived, and shortly before Nurse Hiles had left for the mountains. I look as you may see me look many times in the future, so this will prepare you for the shock.
(Time out to bathe my latest charge – a little mulatto child about 2 years. I’m keeping her while Ma Kinso is away at a committee meeting at Boyulu. She’s the child of the Greek I may have spoken about, who died here. The relatives want the child cared for here until she’s old enough to go the Hulbert School for Mulattos. She’s a nice little thing and minds well. I love to put her hair in little curls. It’s straight enough to handle and curly enough to be ideal. Wish I had a curly-haired little girl of my own; but I’m afraid she won’t have curly hair – unless there are a few curls in your family.)
Tell me more about Mother’s interests. She has written me some, but your letters are always a little more recent and they come oftener, so I generally hear all the news first from you. Is it Mr Presnell that she has written you about? Some time ago she said she was interested in him. There was a nice bachelor in Benton Harbour that I was sort of hoping she might be interested in, but I guess it didn’t work out. I can’t even think of Mother being interested in anyone other than my Dad, but for her sake I could wish that she could find someone else now to make her life pleasanter. But I don’t know anything about this Mr Presnell, and I think he had a wife somewhere. The Lord will help Mother to do the right thing I believe. I have written here expressing my desire that she come out here with us. It would not be impossible, I guess, and I think she would be happy here. I wonder if she is satisfied with the place where she is staying. Did she go to Lucille’s for Christmas by train or bus, or did they come after her. Two boxes Mother sent arrived in November and I was happy to find some things I had been needing quite badly.
I heard last week that Mr Jenkinson was sort of hoping that you and I could stay here and carry on while he and his wife go home for furlough. He is counting a lot on your abilities to direct the practical things about the station. I don’t suppose they would go, tho’, until you shall have the language learned. But that doesn’t take long. Miss Pengilly came in July I think, or August, and was giving messages in a few weeks. She has gone to Ekoko now, and will plunge right into girls’ school work.
Naturally enough, everything I see and do, I am seeing it in the eyes of the future when you will be here. I wish I could more fully understand what you are doing now, but it is so hard to imagine. I am glad there is no restriction in your telling me what you are doing in the service of the Lord. Perhaps you could tell be more about the various offices in service. I know you are a Leading Aircraftsman, that is followed by Corporal, is it? And then what is next?
Well, I must close again. I am very happy in my work here, and have the pleasantest of relationships with the senior missionaries here. Just now I am the only junior on the station. I’m sure the seniors have more trouble with the junior than she is usually aware of! Pray for us all.
Loving you dearly, Ione
On the 14th January 1944, Hector settles down to write a long letter to Ione; and takes the opportunity to show off his ‘French’ language skills:
Anyway you are the dearest one in the world to me, well-beloved and all that goes with it.
I’m all alone this evening away over in a big city like St John. Jack McKellar who is here with me on temporary duty is out for the evening as he knew I would be writing to you and could not carry on a conversation when busy with such an important and pleasant task. We are living in a room in town and go out to the detachment each day to work. We eat mostly in restaurants and how we wish we both had our wives here to enjoy the grand feasts. I guess all this good food is serving a purpose because the other day I got on the scales to see it register 162 (pounds). So as you said in one of your earlier letters I may be stout when I get out there.
Jack is married but his wife is in Toronto, doing his old job in the bank. She is a very beautiful girl by her pictures and of course according to what Jack says. He says he certainly isn’t worthy of such a wife, so at least he and I have that in common. I am so glad for what he told me the other night, Ione dear. They have been very happy in their married life and I think I have profited much already, in preparation for the time when we two will set sail on the sea of marital happiness.
He said, “Hector, you have no idea what a change it is to have someone else always to consider. Your wife is so different from an ordinary chum. You just can’t say, ‘well I’ll see you later’, and disappear around the corner. They just want to know where you have been and why, and how long and how much money you spent and who you were seeing etc……If she wants to go shopping and look in every window, you just have to submit and look in every window. You may think you can give in a lot but you have no idea just how much that is necessary in married life. It’s not in the same sense as being bossed around by an overbearing woman. It is simply just taking another life right in close to your own and being very, very considerate of her in all things. But it is worth it all in the wonderful happiness and cooperation in return.” And doesn’t she have fun with him. She thinks all he does is read and sleep. He’ll be sitting with a book in front of him and all of a sudden in a sweet little voice, “Jack, hun, now stop reading and pay attention to me.” Then as he says, he puts down the book and after a little falls asleep. Then, “Jack, hun, wake up and talk to me”. But really it can truly be said that they do have a happy life together. He may be bringing her down to the east coast in the spring.
A rather funny thing happened the last letter I wrote you. As you may have remembered, I keep a carbon copy of all the letters and if I didn’t forget to turn the other sheet over when I changed sides, and what a mess of words. I haven’t recopied it yet. The day after I wrote to you I was sent up to the Gaspe for about a week to do a few small jobs by myself. The boys up at that station are quite happy. It is rather out of the way so the YMCA have sent up about a dozen pr. of skis, and there are some real places to use them. I had a pr. on one afternoon when I wasn’t busy and there was a lad there from Toronto who used to teach skiing and he showed me quite a few tricks. There is only one grave difficulty and that is that there is no snow in the Congo; but it was good fun while it lasted. The Lord still continued to give me some one to speak to every day. It was glorious the way He would open up conversations at the most unusual times.
One evening I talked to a Jewish lad who was not at the show because his father had died and he was in mourning for a whole year. What a privilege!
I think you better write to that younger sister of yours, namely Marcellyn. I’m almost afraid to write to her. Listen to her last letter.
“Happy New Year!! We’ve had a wonderful Christmas..I hope you did too. The day before Christmas a mysterious package came and I couldn’t wait a day to open it, so what do you think!?! I opened it and saw the most beautiful blue sweater…I fell in love with it at once. I put in on and have worn it practically every hour since. I just love it to pieces…almost! It’s so soft and different and British and blue and pretty. And it was given to me by such a dear brother. It seems almost as if you are here when I look at the sweater and wear it. And it fits perfectly. You certainly have good taste and you know just what girls like.
The card you sent made me very happy too. It was so pretty. I’m surely proud to own you (I mean to have a claim on you). You are so sweet and good to me – more than I deserve. I wish I could have sent you something, too. Best of all I’d like to give you a big hug and kiss to show you how much I appreciate you….”
And you told me Ione, that she was saying something about coming out to our little station in EKOKO ! ! ! I imagine that I’ll have enough to do to keep your cheeks damp with kisses. Whatever will I do with Marcellyn around too. Oh! what a family is this Reed family! ! ! But really I am glad for every member of it; but especially so for the one that someday soon I will be meeting at the altar and putting a ring on her finger and kiss her at least once to seal her for time and eternity as My Own. I have all the boys wild with envy when I change the first line of a new tune that reads, “I want to buy a paper doll that I can call my own….”, So I say, “I want to buy a paper doll that I can call Ione…” And do they ever think that is smart!
Now in a more serious strain. Last Sunday evening in Moncton I was asked to give the message in a Sunday evening service to be put on by Airforce fellowship this Sunday, 16th. The pastor is to be down in Halifax. I more or less promised, subject always of course to the possibilities of being sent out on temporary duty. And as is usually the case I was only in Scoudouc about two days when Jack and I were sent over here. However it is only about 100 miles back to Moncton so I phoned them before I left and said I would get back over for Sunday. The Lord has laid a wonderful message on my heart…”His abundant mercy” I Peter 1:3. Last evening I walked away down by the shore of the river with the stars and waning moon to light the way. And I began to think what a large place mercy has in God’s Character. It is really the backing for His plan of salvation. He can be merciful to us, “for Christ’s sake” and that only. He cannot accept any other substitute for sinners. Either we pay for our own eternally or humbly ask Him for Mercy and Pardon. “God be merciful to me a sinner, and save me for Jesus’ sake. Don’t you get a real thrill every time you explain the plan of redemption to a hungry sinner. The whole vast scope of it all becomes more wonderful to me each time I talk to someone. I see now why Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of it.
Well, dearest loved-one, I could scarcely find paper to put down all the things I think about you and plan for you. If you can be so sweet to me when you are so far away, just what will it be like to have my arms around you. I just become lost in the wonder of it. What an anchor you are for me as I mix among so many these days to whom marriage vows above all things seem so trivial! Surely the Lord has wonderful things for His own even here. And so I can go on from day to day, trusting Him and trusting my dear little Ione out in Africa.
Praying to be with you soon, x Your LOVER, Hector
Hector write to his future mother in law on 21st January 1944, as is his routine and besides responding to her letter and thanking her for all her prayers. Hector and Mrs Reed share a common longing for an intimate relationship but both are prepared to wait for what is right and in this they are very supportive of each other.
“Bless your heart, others would have gone ahead just to please their own timetable and what trouble that would cause! But you are willing to wait and wait, satisfied with God’s revealed will. I’m beginning to know just what it is to be a bit lonely for some close intimacies such as only “MY OWN” can share.”
It is to ‘Mother’ he reveals that there is a possibility of an ending to his military service:
“You will be interested to know that there are some actions being taken in regard to my discharge. Rev. Linton from Toronto just wrote me this week and as a Chaplain in the RCAF he advised a certain line of procedure. First: Get the Council of the UFM to approve my discharge and ordination; and endorse my immediate departure for Africa. Secondly, have High Park Bapt. Church agree to my ordination. Having these two things arranged then I can see the Commanding Officer on the station here at Scoudouc. There is to be a UFM council meeting in Toronto on the 28th. However Mr Linton did raise the question of waiting until the war is over, as the UFM would still be quite willing to take me on from where I left off. He is rather of the opinion that another year should see a big change. But I believe that the Lord would have me try. So now you may know how to pray. I want only the will of God in my life regardless of Ione or Africa. I have learned from bitter experience that there alone is the happy spot. But it would be just like the Lord to give us the desire of our hearts as Ione has often quoted.
Well, mother dear I better close for now with a hug and a big long kiss. xxx ……..Much Love, Hector”
A week later on the 27th January, Hector writes to Ione, he has an ingenious way of carrying Ione’s face with him where ever he goes:
“Do you remember me telling you about the little picture that Herbie and I cut out and put in the face of my watch? Well, I got a new watch since then but I took the picture and put in the new setting. For a long time it was up at the top and then later I put it down in the left hand corner. Last week I got a new idea for “Ione”. I got some of this red cellulose tape and cut out little triangles and put two of them in opposite corners of the crystal. Then I cut out a circular one and put your picture in the centre and stuck it to the middle of the crystal. So now your beautiful countenance is surrounded by a little red frame and the hands peep out from behind to tell me that every minute is bringing me closer to you. This picture in type may be a miniature replica of that which is greatly coveted by all who see it. Here are some the expressions. “Say, isn’t that some idea.”…”Well, you must be in love”. “Where did you get such a small picture”…”Is that just a picture of a girl or is it really her?”…”When I first saw it I thought it was a new kind of watch”…”Where is she?” “What ! ! in Africa?” “What is she, a nurse?” (this latter one just last night). So you see, dearie, you are preaching both in Africa and America.”
In Hector’s letters, if he has an interruption, he includes this as news to Ione:
“Pardon the interruption but two fellows just came by my bed and after noticing the typewriter they saw the Bible and asked if it was a dictionary. Of course they were not long in finding out that it is my most treasured possession. From there it was easy to tell them why, and since when and to where. Then your life came into the picture and how the Lord took you all over the States and finally out to Africa. They were very interested and thrilled with it all. After that we talked about the need of the present generation and lack of formal churches. So another day has come and again the Lord has seen me safely through it and given me opportunity to tell of His power to save.”
Hector ends the letter recounting the contents of a letter he has received from her Mother and it is a testimony of the growing closeness of their relationship; perhaps this is to reassure Ione that he loves Ione and her mother approves of him as a suitable prospective husband.
Leslie Goodman, Canadian Secretary of the UFM in Toronto writes to Hector on 31st January 1944, sending him papers that he will need to submit to register his ordination to mission work and thus secure his discharge from the Airforce. He tells Hector that Effie, who was recently married to Charles (missionary from Brazil) cannot get a visa to go to Brazil with her husband as she is not a ‘Roman Catholic’. The mission are hoping that this couple can go to Haiti instead. Should all go to plan, another couple, Chester and Dolena Burke have recently been accepted by the mission to go to the Belgian Congo and could well be travelling companions for Hector.
Hector receives a letter from his father and sister dated 31st January 19944. His father thanks him for the shoes Hector gave him for Christmas and appraises him of the death of a family acquaintance and about a family whose son is missing (presumably he was fighting in the War). Hector’s sister, Jean, adds more detail to the letter, saying their father had visited family in Montreal and had not only acquired a cold but had brought a boy back to help with the farm . She describes skating on the river with Archie as being an enjoyable excursion. The family appear not to be resentful of Hector’s choice of service, his father writes:
“Hoping you are enjoying yourself meeting the different men.”
And Jean writes:
“God bless you in all your contacts, Hector.”
However, there is an underlying feeling that his input in the family and farm are missed by those left behind.
Maintaining family relationships is difficult for those who dedicate their lives to mission work, an aspect Ione refers to in a letter she writes to her sister Doris on 6th February 1944. It has been six months since Ione last wrote a personal letter to Doris (Doris has been sent general or as Ione refers to them ‘form’ letters in the intervening time) and it is over a year since Doris wrote to her sister. Ione writes:
“I get a panicky feeling when I think of all that could happen to one’s loved ones. It’s that feeling that I just can’t get there in a hurry because I’m too far away. But I have not forgotten the promise the Lord gave me for you when you went to California, “With Me she shall be in safeguard.”
Ione does not remonstrate with Doris over her hasty departure from the family home and marriage, which Doris may have anticipated, instead she focusses on her own affairs of the heart:
“I don’t know yet what you think about my engagement. Did you meet Hector while you were in Pontiac, or did he not come then? He’s reasonably tall, quite bald, has nice friendly hazel eyes, says ‘aboot’ like a real Scotch Canadian. I think I shall be very happy with him. Do you still recommend married life?”
Ione gives a brief resume of the trek she under took with Viola Walker and then provides more detail about the holiday with the Westcott’s:
“We drove all the way and spent most of the time at hotels, pretty Belgian tourist places. We saw snow-capped peaks, but didn’t get close enough to touch the snow. I guess you’ve seen many of them out west haven’t you? It was a real treat for me because I haven’t seen snow for so long. We weren’t far from the Equator all the time. The hotels are quaint, with huge barn-like rooms and large lumpy beds. One had a bathtub (which looked like a horse-trough) in the most prominent spot in the room. It was a family room with several beds in it and one large blanket-sized towel for all. They never use individual towels or individual bath waters. First one gets in, then another, etc., sometimes several at once. If you could see the SIZE of the tub you would not be surprised. They have many courses in their meals and the plates for all courses are stacked one on top of the other and peeled off. For the first course one has to stretch his neck to keep above board.
Doctor makes the rounds and peaks in the kitchen soon after arrival, then tells us whether we can eat certain things! There are so few white people that I suppose it doesn’t pay to do things right. But Doctor says it’s the same in Belgium about some things. But they were all nice to us. One man, a representative of the King, tried to give me 500 francs ($15) but I didn’t dare to accept it.”
Then, Ione talks of ‘girlie’ things like getting her hair permed in Stanleyville and it costing her 10 dollars; how her body shape has changed due to the diet:
“I am a little broader thru the tummy from the type of work and food. There are no potatoes, so my boy boils a native guanda root and puts it thru the chopper and fries it in patties. Then there’s plantain which tastes like bananas, and of course, many bananas, pineapples, pai-pai, lemons, etc. This year we candied native fruits and colored them for Christmas cake decorations. Mrs Westcott was able to prepare most of the Christmas dinner and this was her first Christmas in six years out of bed.”
Ione reports that Mrs Westcott is ‘happier than she used to be’ (maybe this means less clinically depressed) and has taken over control of the children’s education. There is still talk of the Westcott’s travelling back to the United States and Ione intimates that the Doctor may be needed for military service which would mean leaving the Belgian Congo quickly.
Ione describes her day:
“Today I went to the church for the 7 A.M. prayer meeting, after sending a tea tray to a sick missionary patient in the guest house. Came home and prepared his breakfast tray, ate, fed Mrs Jenkinson’s cat since she’s off on trek, directed the killing of a chicken and started the boy on dinner preparation, went over to Doctor’s to see that the kids were ready for Church (Mrs Westcott generally sleeps in mornings), started their dinner, baked bread; after church brought a little mulatto girl to my home for dinner (the child of the Greek merchant who died here last July), sent a tray to the sick man, served an orphan native on the verandah, the cat, also, ate, sent little Katherine to take her nap, rested a while and read “Reader’s Digest”, wrote letters, went down to see the sick man, then a supper tray, for Madolly the native, and the cat! Usually we have white folks’ church Sunday night at Doctor’s, but the Jenkinson’s and Miss Walker are away, and the kids and Mrs Westcott will be in bed, so I think Doctor and I had better have our church by remote control!
I haven’t had any snakes in the house for a long time, but we have fixed the screen doors so that they shut tighter. The screens push open and a chimpanzee could walk in if he wished, but they seem contented to swing and bellow down the hill a ways in the forest. I have counted twenty or more in sight at one time. And they aren’t at all afraid, they just stand and look at you. They’re curious creatures. When one is driving in the car and one crosses the road, he scoots fast and hides behind a clump, but invariably, before you get passed, you see his head and funny eyes peering out at you. I like to watch for them and say, “Hi ‘ya toots!”
Ione ends the letter with lots of questions:
- What are you doing?
- Are you still in California?
- Have you heard from Marcellyn?
Ione is extending the hand of friendship, maybe she and Hector could honeymoon in California and meet Doris’ husband Lloyd, adding:
“Remember, no matter what has happened or what will happen, I still love you, and I’m sure I love Lloyd, if you do. Don’t ever feel I’m disappointed in you, for there’s no wrong in getting married at your age. You’ll have that many more years to spend together. If I had met Hector 12 years ago, I’d have done the same. Does Lloyd laugh at your funny jokes? I remember how Mother used to laugh until she would cry, and I’d try to stop you to keep her from hysterics. Remember how I tried to teach you manners at the table? I guess you have them by now, tho!
Please don’t keep me in suspense any longer. Its news I want and the latest. Loads of love, Ione”
Hector writes to Ione on 13th February 1944. The erratic nature with which letters arrive means there have been gaps of no communication; no wonder Hector worries about whether or not he has caused offence. The gaps in communication are not just down to the War and inept postal services, it transpires in a letter Hector writes to her mother that Ione didn’t put the right address on one, so it was returned to her in Africa. He tells about his most recent activity and his plans:
“I have been out this afternoon preaching in a little country church. I met a man coming up the island on the train. He saw me with my Bible so later came over to talk to me. When he found out I was going to be near his home community for a few days, he arranged for me to preach this Sunday. He got word around & quite a number turned out. They were overjoyed to have a service since their pastor will not be back until June. I just love preaching, dearie. The Lord gave me a message in Acts – “Repentance toward God & faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” They were keenly interested. And I know the Lord blessed His truth. Rather unusual was the fact that a Jewish lad (from Scoudouc) accompanied me. I believe he is becoming concerned about his soul. He was quite impressed and is a lad that thinks a great deal. They surprised me by giving me the offering – $2. Les told me on the way home that he had put in 50¢ so we had a good laugh.
Now to tell you what has happened in the past few weeks. The Council meeting on Jan. 28 in Toronto resulted in three letters coming to me in Scoudouc. One from the Board, one from a Boat Company & one from Rev. Keen. He wrote quite a long letter saying that he believed I was called to the ministry and promising ordination.
I took these documents to the commanding officer of our department and he arranged graciously for an interview with higher authorities. These in turn were anxious to do everything possible for me. A few days ago I was in to interview an army captain to make sure I wouldn’t be called up between my discharge from the RCAF & ordination. He suggested I try to get leave & get ordained first & discharge afterwards. If this is not possible, he told me to come back & he’ll help me along another plan. So after we finished there at Tiquish, I’ll be going back to take up the matter of special leave. From then on it will be up to Ottawa to give the final word. So far, it appears that there is every reason to hope for success.
No doubt your plans will be settled in a few months or weeks. You almost shocked me when you said you might be coming home. Wouldn’t it be grand if you could! ! How shall we act when we meet again! And the wedding – a church or home? Marcellyn will make such a lovely bridesmaid. And your mother with special music and —— XX
I’ve written to both mission headquarters & your mother & I know they are rejoicing that things are turning out favourably. I haven’t told my folks yet – a surprise! All the boys are so happy for me. Art Forester was talking to me a little while ago & was wondering what our lives will be like for the first week of courtship. He said he liked to see us the first few minutes. The case is very strange & interesting to him.
This letter has often been interrupted due to conversations. In fact it is after 11 p.m. & the little lights are all out except my own little light. So good-night dearie until I write or cable you. Yours entirely, Hector X
PS: This is being written on Art’s suitcase while I’m sitting on my bed with a shaded light hanging a few inches above the paper. Another lad – Corporal King, says to night he’s never had his thoughts directed along spiritual lines like this, until he came out with me on his party. God bless you dear!”
On the 23rd February, Hector writes to Mrs Reed and describes the camaraderie in the barracks:
“It is rather stormy out tonight, so it is an ideal time to get a letter off to you. The other boys in the room are at various tasks. Two lads who are artists are doing some sketching. Ford Beach is drawing a picture of Butterfield, while he is touching up a picture of one of the men who looks after the YMCA here on the camp. Bill Butterfield is the fellow who has drawn several pictures of Ione and I and then another where I am seated in an African boiling pot. I have sent both of them to Ione and she enjoyed them so much. Another lad is writing a letter and several others are just talking and sitting. I just got back last evening from a trip over to the smallest province in Canada; Prince Edward Island. We were over there for ten days and we had a grand time.”
He is very excited at the prospect of Ione coming back to the States and hopes it coincides with his discharge:
“Wouldn’t it be just like the Lord to have her come back just as I was getting my discharge!!!! What a wonderful time we would have planning for the wedding. I know that my family would be so glad to meet her. I have still a few weeks to wait before getting to Toronto. My two weeks leave will be coming up the first of April and they advise that I get ordained then and on coming back to Scoudouc I will be able to apply for a discharge. I was talking to the padre this morning and he is very much in favour of it. I know that you will be praying much about it. Every so often I am reminded that the answers of your intercession are effective in my life and contacts. I could fill several pages telling you what marvellous times of witnessing I have had lately. It has been a very enriching experience.
Ford Beach has finished Butterfield and so he is sitting on the next bed and doing one of your “son” which I will send along to you. It must be great to have talent like that. But I think I would rather concentrate on preaching the Gospel of deliverance from sin. Last Sunday I was able to take the service at the Air Force camp and the Lord laid a good message on my heart. Using Luke 15 as a basis I took the subject, “Are you a prodigal son in the Air Force”. Quite a few of the boys spoke to me afterwards. There is a Jewish lad over there who took such a keen interest in spiritual things that I left my New T. with him, as he promised to read it right through. His name is Monro, “Moe” Selby. One thing that really got him was the fact that I prayed for him. The next day he asked me if I had and I told him that I did. He said to me, “Well, did you mention that it was Moe Selby?” He wanted to make sure that he wasn’t being mistaken for some relative of his. He is a very comical fellow and a great favourite with the other boys.
Bill thought he would get smart and draw a quick, exaggerated picture, too. Ford has more of my pajamas showing, and a semblance of the typewriter. They’ve had lots of fun tonight.
I’ll be looking for a letter from you telling me about your work. I got hold of a map the other day and was fortunate to find Newberry on it. I had no idea that you were so far north. I suppose the mail takes a little longer to go up there. Have you been hearing from Doris lately? I think of her ever so often and wonder how she is getting along. I know that Marcellyn’s life is a source of happiness to you. She is such a sweet little girl —- somebody is going to be a fortunate husband. By the way, she will be a most becoming bridesmaid.
Well, it is nearly time for my Bible reading and prayer. I’ll let you know if anything extraordinary happens. In the meantime we will resort to prayer. Love and Kisses, Hector
P.S. Got you letter tonight but will answer it in another letter and return the ones from Ione and Marcellyn. ”
Hector doesn’t wait and pens another letter to Mrs Reed the next day:
“And what is all this news about you thinking of going to Africa!!! Isn’t that the greatest idea? Ione seems to be very much in favour with it and of course I must say that my heart is right with you. I was anticipating having Marcellyn’s cheery company; but the Lord seems to be working to do the “exceeding abundantly above what we can ask or think”. I won’t mention anything about it until you have given me permission.
Ione’s letter was very sweet and I see now why the Lord is arranging things so smoothly for my discharge. How she must be praying! I read all your letters just after I got the mail this evening and then I came over into another building where I could write some more letters and read all that each of you had to say again. About the middle of Ione’s I felt a great burden of prayer and turned out the light and had a grand time of sweet communion with Him about all these matters. Who knows just how soon He will answer and straighten out all these longings of our hearts?
Marcellyn had some interesting things to say, as usual. She has had a very interesting life and I know that the Lord is preparing her for some place in His vineyard, preferable in Ekoko with the rest of us.
Yours till Glory, Hector X
On the 27th February 1944, hector writes Ione a long letter:
My crowning Queen: (Prov. 12:4).
So glad to be able to write again and tell you that I love you ! ! !
I heard indirectly from you, through a letter that your mother sent. She also enclosed one from Marcellyn. What a lot of news to get in one letter! I had no idea that your mother was planning on going out to the field. What a miracle if the Lord should work that all out to His glory! With all that talent, we could take on the job of about half the Congo. You can be sure that the plans for this year are being moulded day by day, in prayer and practice. On coming back from Scoudouc, I have been talking with some more officers and they advise that I wait until the first of April and then get ordained when I have my two weeks annual leave, in Toronto. Then when I come back I can proceed to deal with Ottawa. So if you are able to start home by April that will mean a wedding in May or June. I have just read through 9 of your letters, and it so refreshed me. I am all alone over in the room where we work in the daytime (when we are here); and it is so quiet. I have fixed up a stool with a back something like the ones the secretaries have. Letters, papers and two books (Bible and a book on Church history) are lying at my left; oh! yes, and my little dictionary; a radio in front and a lovely light with a good strong bulb, and my thoughts about the loveliest, friendliest, funniest yet sincerest, youthfulest girl who will very shortly be my wife. Of course then I won’t have on a white sweat shirt, white running shoes and sand colored drill trousers; but I will have on my nice new rimless glasses and my decorated watch, Airforce ring, and a nice soft English suit, with you sitting on my lap……
In this very room last Friday afternoon I had one of the best contacts I have had for a long, long time. There were three corporals, Butterfield and myself. After considerable discussion Cpl Ryerse said that he wanted to hear my testimony. It is a long time since anyone asked for it like that. He stopped me several times to get some point straightened out, and it was a grand opportunity. How wonderful to be able to tell him and the others about Mr Maxwell’s message on John 3: 3 and that a certain Mr Roberts talked with me afterwards and showed me God’s plan of salvation from the Bible. Everyone was strangely silent afterwards. All these fellows are lovely lads and no fools at the game. I know that they understood a few things the other day that they have never seen before. Ryerse said that he respected me more than any other fellow around here, and that I could talk for weeks but just working with me one day around here, convinced him more than anything else that there was a radical difference in my life.
I have turned on the radio and am listening to Fuller’s broadcast. The chorus is singing, “Let Jesus come into your heart.” I love listening to the bass and tenor parts. Now they are singing the old song, “How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Saviour.” How I wish you were beside me! ! ! The next is a piece by the quartet for the children as well as older folks, “Brighten the corner where you are.” I guess that is the greatest task we have in these days. The spiritual errands that can be done for the Lord are so frequent and interesting. Another Christian lad has come in to bring me a book, “By Faith”, written by Dr. & Mrs Howard Taylor. He is in the same work as I am but works in another building and doesn’t have opportunity to go out on temporary duty. He has a wife and little boy in Toronto. He has a very interesting testimony, being saved in the midst of a modernistic young people’s group. They had about 30 conversions after that.
Butterfield was suggesting that I try making a carbon copy sometime with the writing backwards. It just means putting the carbon paper on the back of the second sheet. I did almost that, but then I thought, “Well, I love her too much to play a trick like that, because they you would have to have a mirror to read it!
I mustn’t forget to tell you about my first plane ride. It was last Monday coming back from Prince Edward Island. There were two planes to come over to the mainland and we were in the second one to take off. I enjoyed seeing the ground drop out from under us and after a few minutes see the other plane flying right beside us and a little to the front. The pilots were very good, and so attentive to each other’s movements. About half way over I took out my New T. and read a portion over in I Thess. 4., concerning the rapture…”Caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Then we as believers will be going to our treasure and not away from it, as is the case with a man of the world going up in a plane. It was all very thrilling and I am looking forward to more such exciting times. Maybe we’ll take our honeymoon that way!!
This morning I came over to this quiet little room and began preparing my doctrinal statements for my ordination. It is grand to do something solid again. I am waiting for the day when you and I get to unite our efforts in the building up of souls in the faith, I was interested to read in the letter to your mother that every phase of the missionary program has a definite place. I’m afraid I’m getting rather slack on the medical angle but I do love preaching and teaching. I noticed too that you said you love to just travel around in evangelistic work. Well, I’m right with you in that. It is wonderful the way the Lord has been preparing both of us throughout all these years. I know you love a home and wouldn’t I just love to fix one up for you, but it may be that we will be pilgrims for a number of years. Your health must be extraordinary. I was just thinking tonight what a hard time Pearl has had, but probably she was working (a lot) too hard. Once again I realize that the hardest thing in the world is to keep balanced. I’ve only been sick a half a day since I got in the Airforce but conditions here have been much above normal. Lots of rest and good food.
Tomorrow is pay day again. I’ll have over $200 saved up by the end of this month. When one is discharged he is allowed a month’s pay and an allowance of $65 for clothing. Since I have all that, I will be able to add it on our financial requirements for the field.
I’ve been working quite a lot with Butterfield this past week and we have become very good friends. We were doing mostly carpenter work on little things around the shop. I made quite a large filing card box and it caught the eye of quite a few. Someone remarked that I would make a good husband for some woman.
Well, dearie it is time to close again. I do hope it won’t be long until I can hold you in my arms for the first time but not the last…Love, Hector XXX
In a letter written to Mrs Reed on the 7th March 1944, Hector reveals he has heard from Mr Pudney that
“they four were leaving for furlough and that they needed reinforcements”.
It’s not clear which four and Hector writers:
“So we shall wait on the Lord and for Him.
Your affectionate son – Hector XXX”
He also describes buying a blue leather writing case for seven and a half dollars and a book he has been reading as described in Ione’s letter – By Faith written by Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor about Mr and Mrs Henry Frost who were missionaries working with the China Inland Mission in the 1930’s.
On the 14th March 1944, Hector writes to Ione:
Wife of the Reverend:
“I thank God for every remembrance of you.”
The days have passed so quickly and it is time to write you again. But, my love, it is so easy to answer a letter such as I received last week, written Jan. 9. Without exceptions, that is the best letter I have ever had from you. I just love to read it through again and yet again. And the picture arrived, too. It must have been folded some time or other in transit but the crease was on the opposite side, and marred Joan a little. I looked at it so longingly, and keep thinking, as I let my eyes have a real feast, is that lovely girl really going to become my wife. Your face is as sweet as ever, if not more so, and you seem to be quite healthy. The background too came under close scrutiny. Is that spot near our little home, to be? I’m enclosing a little picture to remind you that I have not forgotten how to do carpenter work. Jack McKellar took it a few weeks ago.
Hector has to prepare a case for his ordination and is helped by a pastor, Mr Keen:
“He has been so good with it all and seems so much more like my own pastor all the time. It will be grand to be questioned by this group as regards my doctrinal beliefs. I have been enjoying quite a few hours making a study of an outline that Mr Pudney had used. I remember making a copy of it that summer that we were up at the Lake of Bays.”
Reference to Lake of Bays has Hector reminiscing:
“It was during those days too that we heard of your operation for appendix. I often thought of writing to you then but I was just a little over cautious. I wonder what on earth you would have written back. Whatever it would have been I know I would have treasured it. As it is now I have quite a nice little volume. It was up there that first year that Mrs Pudney tried to tease me about this flaxen-haired maiden that was going out to Brazil from England or Scotland; Dulcie Robinson. But somehow that seemed too far away. It was more interesting to think of that girl that so entranced me during the candidate period in Toronto. Do you remember carrying some dishes into the dining room, I think you were putting them away after a meal, the first day you were there (after I didn’t meet you at the station)? Well, I specifically remember having the furniture moved around and was busy waxing the floor, and you spoke so kindly to me. How easily and comfortably you fitted into the real home life. Then too, I used to be interested in the mornings that it was your turn to make breakfast. And how it was specially spoken of when all were seated; either criticized or commended in a joking way. Another thing that comes to mind. That picture I had taken in the back yard, while standing on my head. Effie still laughs heartily at that. Maybe we can go out west for part of our honeymoon. I would love you to meet Charles.
All your information about the Westcott’s coming home is almost too good for listening ears. Of course I could be married in the Airforce but if all goes well, it will be otherwise.
Was I ever thrilled to see how the Lord has blessed you in the past year! One Christian lady I was talking to in St. John said that you certainly need not feel discouraged after having so much fruit. I just long to be out there with you where the gospel story is appreciated and believed. So many of the people here want to have their good time now and get saved when things get a little more difficult. As one fellow said today. When he is surrounded in a plane with six enemy aircraft then he’ll begin to think, “What would Hector do in a case like this?” He knows very well what he should do now, but reason is easier than faith so that is the way he takes. Your account of that story in the “Moody Monthly” has been a help to me. Just to keep a man to the vital question of what he thinks of Christ. One day last week I was able by the Lord’s grace to show a man just what he thinks about Christ when he said he wasn’t the Son of God. It rather surprised him that he had to take the other extreme.
That little mulatto child must be rather interesting. As far as curly hair goes, well, my sisters have rather wavy hair but I usually see them after they have had a permanent or something. So our little girl will likely acquire this characteristic from the African climate.
I suppose that your mother has written you more recent news about her interests, and I have heard nothing more lately. Mr Presnell seemed like a real saint of the Lord but his former wife being unfaithful still will not grant him a divorce. So maybe the Lord has another plan for your mother, in coming to Africa. I remember her saying how she hoped those boxes would get out safely. I remember handling very tenderly several of the dresses she was planning on sending out, even last summer (wish you had been inside one of them); and a pair of shoes that your mother had used to illustrate something at a children’s meeting, where she was speaking of her missionary daughter.
Mr Jenkinson must think you are quite an administrator when he is considering leaving you in charge of a husband as well as a station. I imagine I will be your biggest problem for a while.
I had the joy of preaching last Sunday evening in a Gospel Tabernacle in St. John. I spoke on, “Ten Godly Reasons for a Missionary Career;” based on II Tim. 1. And now that we are back in our home station again, I will be able to have a 48 hr. pass this coming weekend. We are making plans to have two other fellows and myself go over to St. John again for a Friday evening meeting and maybe speak on the radio Sunday morning.
I’ll borrow one of your phrases; “I’m just a-wearying for you.” I do love to pray for you. I can understand how we will have many occasions to kneel together, to find out the Lord’s mind on affairs, and bring petitions to His throne. IT’S going to be Grand and Glorious to live with a person like you, for I do love you dearly.
Another hour has slipped away, but it has been good to finish this up. I will have my devotions here and then go to bed in barracks. Much love, Hector XX
Ione writes a magazine article in Spring of 1944; it hints at some of the trials and frustrations she has endured but focusses more on aspects that might interest the readership:
Serving the Lord with gladness
I am well and happy and have much cause to praise the Lord that He sent me here. This strange combination of nurse-maid, dietician, nurse’s aide, and doctor’s assistant have not made me any less an evangelist. The number of souls does not compare with the number the Sunshine Trio from Moody Bible Institute used to see coming to the Lord when I was travelling with them, but the fact that souls are being saved is encouraging. And you need not think that in these silent months God is not doing some work in my own life. Before I came out at a farewell gathering in a church in Bristol, Va., the gentleman in charge enlarged upon the verse, “What went ye out to see? A reed shaken in the wilderness?” He capitalized the word REED with the implication that he felt I would not be shaken in difficult situations. Well, that man’s prophecy was not exactly true, for I confess I have been shaken many times but His promise has held – “the bruised reed will He not break” and no matter how far I’ve had to bend in one directions or the other in my varied tasks, the bending has only served to strengthen and toughen the calibre.
I am living in my four-room mud house, although I really only sleep there, eat a few meals and tell the boy what to do while I’m away. I don’t get frightened but I don’t exactly relish it. There was a snake in my orange tree for two weeks before doctor shot it with his rifle. There was a species of dog that haunts native villages and kills chickens that persisted in trying to get into my house and succeeded in killing two baby kittens in my living room. I put my hand on a huge mother rat, while reaching for oil to put in the typewriter just a few minutes ago. (I killed it, too!) The calls of the chimpanzees and the little hyrax in the trees break the stillness of the night, but they are all a part of this interesting life.
A Greek man came here recently and Doctor found he needed an appendectomy. He was very much afraid and his eyes looked wide and terrified at the thought of it. Then Dr. gave him a Greek New Testament which he began to read immediately. After a few days Dr. said he was ready to operate, but he expected the patient would be trembling when he went to the table. On the contrary his face was peaceful and happy. He said he had found something in the Bible. Then he told us that his uncle had died the seventh day after his appendix was removed and he feared the same would come to him, but now the Lord was with him. Later he said that he had accepted Christ as His Saviour at that time. Dr. does not tell about these things, but they happen quite frequently. He has Bibles in several languages and his point of contact in many conversations is often the Second Coming of Christ.
I am conducting classes for the native nurses and houseboys – seven or eight men – most of them Catholics. They have reading, writing, arithmetic, music, spelling, and Botiki, head assistant, has French. Our textbook is the New Testament and at present we are studying the Gospel of St. John, a good book to reveal to them the plan of salvation. These classes and the work with the women in morning meetings and the schoolboys give me a good balance of work among the natives.
On the 22nd March 1944, Hector starts a letter to his future mother in law:
“It’s so nice to have someone to write to, some one that really loves me and understands.”
Which hints at what Hector lost when his own mother died so many years before; it’s not just Ione’s mother who touches his heart but her sister too; so different from his own sisters who, apart from one, are not committed Christians like the Reed family:
“I received a lovely letter from Marcellyn a few days ago. I was teasing some of the fellows by showing them the bottom of the letter where she had put three kisses. Knowing that it was from somebody in the States, one chap said he was beginning to wonder about me. I guess he thinks Ione is having some competition!!!!! As if that would be possible!
Marcellyn was telling me the qualifications of the man she is looking for …… red hair and going to Africa!!! What a girl!!!!”
He writes of his plan to surprise his own family at Easter, saying:
“I should be so thankful for my home and the training that I had there. This morning I was reading how the Lord got the message to Eli through little Samuel. He was afraid to tell him, but I think Eli knew what was coming. The Lord puts a high priority on discipline. The margin reads that when his sons were living in sin, he ‘frowned not upon them’. Dad has been very ‘faithful’ to us in this respect and we are all living to thank him for it. It scares me to think of what I might have been, and just where I might be, were it not for the grace of God and a cedar shingle.”
On the very same day (22nd March) Ione pens a letter to Hector:
“Be ye also patient…for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Jas. 5:8
I drew that promise just now from Pearl’s promise box. Pearl has not come back yet but her little box of promises are a never-failing source of joy. It is about time for Dr. Becker to start diminishing her treatments, preparatory to stopping them entirely, but she cannot resume work until she stops coughing and is really better. It must be hard for her to wait, but she continues to be cheerful and is happily situated at Ruwenzori. (It would seem Ione too needs to be patient.)
Interestingly, this is the first letter Ione writes to Hector since the 9th January 1944, referring to something Hector has mentioned, Ione continues:
“It sounded good to have you say you were lonesome for me, but it will sound better to hear it with my ears. When that happens you won’t be lonesome anymore! I remember that handshake when you left Phila. I just knew you had squeezed my hand harder and with both of yours, but later I tried to convince Pearl that you felt the same toward everybody. But Pearl is not so dumb, either! I didn’t know then what the future would hold for us, together.”
She tells Hector how he has inspired her to try and reach and touch one person a day:
Most of the time it is little boys who come evenings to my house singly or in groups, or in the early morning meetings. But twice this week I have dealt with a Mohammedan. He is a Negro, but wears the garb of that sect and reads the Koran. He was operated on and was in the hospital, so I have the advantage of getting a testimony and a bit of scripture every now and then. He agrees with everything I say, but I know he does not trust in Christ as a living Saviour. Pray for him. He has promised to sell me one of his funny embroidered hats. The Lord is so good to me in giving opportunities to witness for him in the very line of duty each day. I have fretted so and tried so hard to get out to the neighbouring villages, but it makes me so cross and tired and I know it is hard on me physically when I try to get so far before breakfast then serve trays and attend to my own house before I go over to Doctor’s. (Ione is really pushing herself as this is what she views as ‘real’ missionary work unlike caring for the Westcott’s and organising food trays for ‘white’ patients of the Doctor’s.) But in the women’s meetings, the classes which I conduct with the nurses now at the hospital and the times with the boys I find countless times to witness to the unsaved.
The cause of Ione’s frustrations is voiced more precisely later in the letter:
“I was not able to take the boys’ school even part time this semester, because Mrs Westcott said she did not feel she could do without me that long and with white patients continually to feed and care for, there were too many emergencies to permit me anything of a regular nature. So in January I adjusted myself once more to the very irregular schedule that Doctor keeps. They gave me the nurses and houseboys to teach each afternoon at the hospital but if there is anything important on the Doctor’s mind that is cancelled, like moving a triangular beam onto the frame of the new church, or an emergency operation, or any number of things. I have tried to get used to bending in this direction or that to fit the occasion, and find that rather than its upsetting me, it is making me stronger. “A bruised Reed shall he not break”-(the message/ teaching she has referred to in her Spring article cited earlier when she was embarking to be a missionary). Just now I have seven white children during the days: two little boys of the Lindquist family, from A.I.M., a little girl of a Norwegian missionary. This is the beginning of the rainy season, and when they’ve been outside and get all stuck up with red clay, it’s no picnic. Today Charlotte fell headlong into a ditch of muddy water. I was shocked, but she said it felt ‘awfully nice’ down in that soft mud. Mrs Westcott spends most of her time in bed just now and I am trying to find something that will stimulate her appetite. Today I gave her added nourishment by putting three raw eggs in her cocoa. The Jenkinson’s are ever sympathetic and helpful and kind. I was sick one day last week, but just couldn’t stay the day in bed because I saw so much that needed to be done, and since then have been trying to cut down a little in schedule, and they have been good to help. I slept later and went to bed earlier and now am feeling fine again. And Doctor and Kinso are cooperating to get me new leaf roof on the house to keep me from moving furniture thru the night when it rains! It rains every night now – and I mean RAINS. And the leaks play hide and seek with me.”
It is evident that Ione likes to stimulate her readers but even without ‘exciting’ things to write about, she reveals much of the life style she is engaged in:
“I wish I had something exciting to write to you, something to make your eyes pop, as it were, but these days nothing worse happens than a fuss with the houseboy of the theft of a kitchen knife. I received a new cord for my typewriter roller and it works fine again. You need not send me any now. I received a lovely big box from Montgomery Ward, as well as some pretty things from Mother and my sister Lucille. I am well fixed for some time now. The Lord is good to send in many special gifts, too. I am designating them all to my Work Fund except when designated Personal, so have an accumulated work fund and am only breaking even on household expenses. Since I do not have a boys’ or girls’ or women’s work I do not have a place for Work Funds. But I am sure the Lord will find a place for it when the time comes. My trouble now is finding time to acknowledge gifts.”
Ione carefully chronicles all the letters she has received from Hector so he knows that they are reaching her and also thanks him for photos and for remembering her family at Christmas. This is a poignant kindness as Ione cannot send gifts home herself. A flash of her humour comes through:
“That was good of you to say that one of my kisses would be worth the three that Marcellyn sent to you in her letter. I tho’t that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’, but perhaps kisses in the African ‘bush’ are different.
I’ll try to remember that it’s Avonmore and not Avondale. Thanks for remembering the family with Christmas gifts.”
The problems of a long distance courtship are also evident, Ione is gradually learning about Hector’s family as well as him:
“Since reading about your time at home at Christmas I feel that I know your family much better. I can pray more intelligently for them now. It’s going to be so nice to be a part of another gathering there sometime in the future. I really want to be part of them, too. I hope that I can be, and that I shall not be a disappointment to any of them. Let’s see, there’s Dad, first always; then your brother, is that Archie? Irene and Ken, Jean, Alice, Florence. Are there more?”
Four days later, on the 26th March 1944, Ione writes to the First Baptist Church, Orion, Michigan who support her work. She plays down the frustrations of caring for the Westcott’s, instead focussing more on the news ‘worthy’, including her engagement to Hector:
Dear Friends in Christ:
Greetings in Jesus’ precious Name!
Word has reached me of a deposit of $30.00 to my account here, $20 and $30 received respectively as gifts from the First Baptist Church of Lake Orion. For this I wish to thank you very much. I do not know the number of small gifts that may have been given to make up this amount, but I pray that the Lord will bless each and every one of you.
I am living alone in my four-room mud house, altho’ I really only sleep here, eat a few meals and tell the boy what to do while I’m away. I don’t get frightened but I shall rest a little easier when my friend Hector McMillan comes out to join me here. Did you know that I was engaged by cable last year in May?
There was a snake in my orange tree for two weeks before Doctor shot it with his rifle; there was a species of dog that haunts native villages and kills chickens that persisted in trying to get into the house and succeeded in killing two baby kittens in my living room; I put my hand on a huge mother rat while reaching for the oil can to oil my typewriter a few minutes ago (I killed him, too, with a knife!). The call of the chimpanzees and the little hyrax in the trees break the stillness of the night but they are all a part of this interesting life.
A Greek man came here recently and Doctor found he needed an appendectomy. He was very much afraid, his eyes looked so wide and terrified at the tho’t of it. Then Doctor gave him a Greek New Testament which he began to read. After a few days Doctor said he was ready to operate, but when the man came to the operating table he was not trembling anymore but smiling and peaceful and happy. He said he had found something in the Bible. Then he told us that his uncle had died the seventh day after his appendix had been removed and he feared the same thing would happen to him. Later he said that he had accepted Christ at that time and all fear had been removed. Doctor does not often tell of the people he deals with, but he reaches many for Christ thru his work. He has Bibles in several languages and his point of contact in many conversations is the second coming of the Lord.
I am feeding twice a day the little native orphan whom Pearl Hiles the nurse cared for before she became ill. Madoli (my dolly) is growing to be a beautiful child of two years, but does not walk yet, nor talk very much. Will you pray that he will be a normal child and learn to trust the Lord? I have been giving his big sister a little sewing and talking to her about the things of the Lord when she comes with Madoli. Another child who has been rescued as it were is Dimommalee, a little walking skeleton whose mother went away and left her to die because she said she was too thin to live long. Miss Walker, the teacher, discovered her while she was out on the Bokopo Trail and when Doctor passed in the car she directed his attention to her. She was starved beyond measure, her arms and legs like pins holding her joints together, and her great dark eyes looking out of two hollows. I was in the car when he took her along and we heard screaming and fussing along the way for she had never been in an automobile before. But when she arrived she brightened at the prospect of a warm bath and nice new clothes and food. She ate plantain (like bananas), greens, palm fat, guanda (like potatoes) and then Botiki’s wife (the head nurse’s wife) brought her to the Doctor’s house. Doctor asked her how she felt. She said she was still hungry. When asked what she wanted she named the items – elephant meat, chicken, eggs, peanuts, rice -! And she had already eaten three times the amount of an adult. Doctor was afraid – but he let her have nearly everything she wanted including the elephant meat. She is very happy and comes and shows us her ‘tummy’ every few days to prove that she’s getting fatter.
I am conducting classes for the native nurses and houseboys, seven or eight men, most of them Catholics. They have the three R’s, plus music and spelling, and Botiki and one other received French lessons (the rest are in Bangala). Bangisa, a nurse with a face like Mutt in the funny papers, who seemed the least intelligent of the lot, learned to read sentences in a week’s time, the credit not due to myself, but to the Doctor’s streamlined method of teaching which I am following. These afternoon classes along with women’s and boys’ meetings in the early morning balance off my day pretty well. I am helping the Doctor and his family, while his wife is recuperating, but at the same time am able to do some work among the natives.
I would love to hear from some of you. Your activities become more and more fascinating to me as I know more about you all. Tell me more names, classes, aims, ambitions, and I shall promise to pray. That’s the least I can do, you know.
May the Lord richly bless every one of you. Yours in His Service, Ione Reed
On the same day, she writes to Marjorie Baker, who came to her aid when the typewriter broke:
Greetings and hallucinations – I mean salutations!
I was pleasantly surprised last week to receive from you the item (spring for her typewriter) that I suggested in my Aug. letter last year. It was kind of you to send it. I trust you will write me soon and enclose a bill for the cost of it. As you can see, my typewriter is much improved. I can’t hold it responsible for the spelling, but it is doing its best now to give me good service. Thanks very much.
She tells Marjorie about her trip to the mountains with the Westcott’s a few months earlier and adds:
“Little Bobbie Westcott found a lizard and put it in my bed. He said in case any mosquitoes got thru the netting the lizard would eat them! I told him I really preferred the mosquitoes, tho’!
In one place we wore winter coats for several days.”
And she describes her living accommodation, without mentioning the leaks in the roof:
I am living alone in my four-room mud house. Before the front door is an avenue of palm-trees going down the hill to the main road. There is a huge purple bougainvillea bush climbing over the front verandah and upon the roof; there are yellow bell-like flowers in several small bushes, red poinsettias, pink and white roses, and tall and short cacti all around the edge. My cook prepares my food in a little building back of this one and serves me in the end room, next room is the living room, next the bedroom and last the washroom. The house is fifty feet long, but very narrow and the roof looks like a narrow strip of paper folded lengthwise. The leaves fluff up in the wind and look like feathers.
I am having a good time and very happy I came.
Please write me again when you find time. Love in Christ, Ione
Hector starts a letter to Ione on 28th March 1944 with:
“The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in Him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Psa. 64:10
And that is just what I am doing today. The Lord makes us so happy and then we are encouraged to trust with more daring. I was quite amazed this morning while having my devotions to come upon a verse… “consider how great things He hath done for you.” The margin reads, ‘what a great thing’. There is only singular important circumstances in my horizon and that is my “sweetie pie” and a wedding in the offing.”
He tells Ione that he has managed to send Marcellyn a gift of 10 dollars, saying he has discovered that he can send a maximum of 25 dollars to person in the States. Most of the letter is taken up with his contacts at work and his ministry to them:
This Len Simand that I have spoken of said that if he ever got saved he would give $10,000 to missions. But the Lord wants him not his. We had quite a talk last Sunday for a while. He knows that all he needs to become a Christian is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I trust that even yet he shall consider his latter end and make preparations even though it will cost him a good deal of ridicule. That book that your mother sent me for birthday has been such a help along the lines of dealing with men. I was contrasting two kinds of prayer. Sinners are not expected to “pray through”, but just believe that they are in need of a sinner’s Saviour, and thank the Lord for what He has done. It made the way of salvation so simple that a man would have to be very stubborn and blind not to accept it. But I guess that’s just where the trouble lies. Do you find the souls over there much different to those in America? You would be able to judge on that score having had so many different contacts. I’m beginning to think that the Lord has given me a wonderful training in the Airforce just answering men’s questions, even though so few are willing to make the step. After being with fellows for weeks and months, I’ve seen them gradually change from thinking that they were Christians to knowing that they are not. Just last night I learned such a case.
This corporal that I spoke of in my last letter was asking another lad (whose father is a minister) if his father ever talked about being a Christian. Then turning to me he said to this other lad, “Until I met Hec here I never heard anyone say that they were a Christian.” So now most of them refer to themselves as being old heathen. But in spite of all this they are a nice group of lads. In fact Corporal Ryerse wants to be remembered to “my dear girl”. He has just gone out now. I started this letter this afternoon but just got down to the middle of the page when I had to go to supper and start working right afterwards. I have been on the evening shift for over a week now as there is quite a lot of carpenter work to do around the shop. So it is after midnight now as I have started again. I can sleep until about nine in the morning then have about an hour for devotions and the rest of the day for reading, writing or doing odd jobs (my laundry for example).
One day last week I had a profitable time fixing some more pictures in my album. I had an extra one of you, like the one I sent some time ago, so I thought I would make it fancy on the edges and really put a touch on it. You should see the finished job. And on the bottom I put two words, —“My Own”. It’s hard to believe but I know it’s true. Your little picture on my watch is still doing 24 hours duty every day.
Maybe you think this letter hasn’t been broken up. It is exactly three o’clock now. I met another chap out in another part of the building who is on the graveyard shift. I used to go to school with him, and this is the first time since he came here that I have had a good talk with him. In fact, I haven’t seen much of him since I have been converted. What an unearthly hour to talk to anyone about the things of the Lord but he seems quite interested. He was especially mentioning the coming of Christ and a few verses that he had heard on that subject. I had my testament along so I read a few verses from Matt. 24. Once again I was able to put the old issue before a doubtful soul. “What think ye of Christ?” If He is the Son of God then of necessity we must take His word as the final authority. What a heart rendering message we have ! ! ! I trust to see him again soon and perhaps take him to a good gospel service in town.
It transpires in this letter that Mr Pudney would prefer Hector to go to the Congo rather than have him wait for Ione to come back and marry him before he goes. This has many implications for them both, however, Hector writes:
“I’ll be happy just to have things work out the way the Lord has planned. He never does anything wrong, so I can learn to be content in whatever state I am. As you stated in one of your letters some time ago, patience is the hardest lesson to learn. I’ve just taken time off for my devotions right here before it gets too late and I was praying for you again. I would just love to start for Africa tomorrow, but I have asked God to care for you until we are together and then to take us both on our way, soberly, sensibly, but most of all, happily. We have a big task before us, with plenty of responsibility, yet is not our work but His.”
Hector is finally ordained on the 13th April, 1944 by Clarence M. Keen, Pastor of High Park Baptist Church, Toronto and documented thus:
“Set for the defence of the Gospel”
This is to certify that after a satisfactory relation of his Christian experience, call to the ministry, and views of Bible doctrine
L.A.C. Hector McMillan
Was publicaly ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry on the thirteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and forty four, in accordance with the recommendation and agreement of a Council of Baptist Churches held on the same afternoon, composed of thirty five messengers from seventeen churches, and convened at the call of the High Park Baptist Church of Toronto, Ontario.
Clarence M. Keen
Pastor Rom. 8:31
“Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee.”
Following on from her wish to get to know Hector’s family better, Ione writes to his sister Jean on the 15th April 1944. It is interesting in that she explains that when Hector failed to meet her at the train station in Philadelphia back in 1941, Ione was indeed stranded and had to apply to Traveller’s Aid!
Greetings from far-off Congo!
It was only about two years ago that Hector and I started corresponding, but much has happened since – as you no doubt have heard! Since our engagement by cable last May I have been meeting, thru pictures and letters, a very interesting family. I received pictures of Alice and Irene and their children, and Hector showed me a picture of the farm at Avonmore when I was in Philadelphia. I think I have seen your picture, too, but I can’t remember. At any rate, Hector has described you and I do feel that I know you.
Your remembering my birthday was a real joy to me, for the card and lace piece came at just the right time. Both are lovely and I thank you ever so much. Out here where one does not see pretty things very often, dainty lace cheers immeasurably. We do see brilliant birds, foliage, quaint native art, but they do not know how to make things like that. And nothing is even or straight; their garden rows look like snakes and their houses are crooked and do not last long. But they are warm-hearted and one loves them in spite of their lazy habits. Each one represents a soul to be won.
Hector’s most recent letter gave me some encouragement that we may be married sooner than I had anticipated. If I do not come home soon, he may be released to come out. It is very difficult to make arrangements for an American or English wedding here, and some cross the border into English territory to save the months of negotiations. I really prefer being married at home (that is, either in Canada or the States), and this may be possible as I expect to accompany the Westcott’s when they make their journey. I have been helping them here, and because of Mrs Westcott’s condition, they feel that I will be needed on the journey. It would cut short my three-year term, but a brief break and getting married to come out as soon as possible would ensure a good long second-term. It is hard to wait so long after one is engaged. There is little I can do yet for getting pretty things made, for my time is occupied from early morning until late at night, but I have some spare time! But I never seem to be able to be sick long enough to do much. Malaria or amoebic dysentery is the biggest sickness I can have it seems, and Doctor gives a shot of quinine or emetine and in a day it’s finished!
I am so interested to know what you are doing and what you want to do. I wish you could make the acquaintance of my three sisters, for then you would know more what I am like. I would love to have a letter from you.
Ione furnishes Jean with a description of her daily routine, starting at 6.30 am with meetings, caring for the Westcott’s, Katherine and Midolly; acting hostess to all the white patients; teaching nurses and houseboys’ their three ‘R’s’ – reading; riting and rithmetic!
After living two years in my little mud house I have only just now “raised the roof” – meaning that the poles are now placed higher and at a more definite angle so the rain will drain off instead of running into the house. The men have put on a new layer of leaves, too, which they tie on in a shingle formation. I have four rooms all in a row on the crest of the hill. There are many flowers and trees and two rose beds in the front yard. It is seldom too cool and often too hot, but we sleep under blankets.
I know so little about Hector that I’m sure most people would laugh at me for becoming engaged as we have. You know perhaps that we were acquainted for the first time in May, ’41, at the Toronto mission home, and during those three weeks it was always my understanding that Hector would go to Brazil. We had good times together washing dishes and preparing food in the kitchen, but there was no special (visible!) interest then. Mrs Pudney sent Hector to meet me at the station and he never did find me and I finally applied at the Traveller’s Aid for assistance!
Then during the summer months he found himself preparing for Brazil only to find that his way was closed and when Miss Hiles and I came to the mission home in Philadelphia we found him there, a bit unsettled as to future plans. I didn’t know until just before he left that he MIGHT go to the Belgian Congo. Then things worked fast, and with Mrs Pudney’s kindly assistance we began the much-desired correspondence. We had some lively times in Philadelphia. I never felt that he had enough to eat and I determined that if I ever had anything to do about it he would have all he wanted. I’m getting lots of practice now!
We had a pleasant trip to New York City with Mrs Pudney and Miss Hiles and Hector and I found some time to have some nice bits of conversation but there was no nice courtship like I hope we shall have when I come home. I only had opportunity to be with him long enough to learn that I was perfectly satisfied when he was there and that I could never care for anyone else. I suppose his humor, his genuine good sense and his real trust in the Lord were the biggest factors in my being attracted to him. You know him much better than I, and I’m sure you know what I mean. There are many things that I do not know about him, but I’m sure it will be delightful to find them out, for he’s the type of person that “grows on one” or who is nicer the more you know him. All in all, I am very happy that we are engaged. The Lord has truly done “great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
Now to close with a prayer for His continual blessing upon you and your work. Give my greetings to your father and the rest of the family. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Hector writes to Ione on 16th April 1944, two days out from his routine as he has been pre-occupied with his ordination into the ministry. He tries to capture some elements for Ione:
The ordination service was wonderful although they gave quite a strict examination. However they were quite satisfied and proceeded to arrange for the ordination in the evening. Mr Keen was like a father throughout the whole day. Supper was served between the services and I was able to converse with quite a number of the visiting pastors. I had a quiet visit with Mrs Longley; she’s such a sweet soul. My Dad was able to come up from Avonmore for the occasion and he was at the same table with Mr and Mrs Longley. They were talking about their ages and Mr Longley said he had quite a few years start on Dad. But it so turned out that Mr L. was born in May or June and Dad was born in August of the same year. They will both be 76 this summer. The ladies where I was sitting were rather interested in my interest. I had gone out to phone Mr Gordon and when I came back there was one seat at a table where five ladies were dining. We had so many interesting things to talk about and I really did enjoy myself. I finally broke down the secret and let them see the picture on my watch.
After the service at night a Mr Phillips and his son were on their way out of the church when a man started to talk to him and Mrs Warren overheard them. So she wanted me to go back and get his name. By this time the other three had gone back into the vestibule and so Mrs Warren, my Dad and I followed them in and began to pray. Sam turned his testament to John 3:16 and the fellow eagerly grasped it and said he hadn’t read that for such a long time. Shortly after that he began to pray. I have never heard an example of that verse, of a man crying mightily unto the Lord for deliverance from sin. He was so sick of it all. Mr. Phillips began to pray later and once again the man cried out as the burden began to lift. Weeping, praying, talking, he began to experience the influx of a new life. I would think that is the first man dad has seen converted for many a year. His name is John Miller and he told us that he was a graduate of McGill University.
Last evening I met a lad whose sister went to Wheaton a number of years ago. I believe her name was Jean Alloway. She took a three year course between ’37 and ’40. Just this past week a group of girls from there under a “Glee Club”; some 33, visited Toronto and were entertained at High Park. Everyone seemed to enjoy them in singing and testimony.
The Goodman’s gave a memorial gift in the form of a Commentary. I have used it some already. I will need a box especially for books, when I start packing again. I will be leaving here Tues. 18 and visit Ottawa on the way back to New Brunswick. I have to be there by the 24th. After I have again applied for discharge I will just have to wait until the authorities make up their minds.
This is the first time that I have signed my name this way. I’ve been saving it for you. Rev. J. Hector McMillan X”
Hector refers to the Ludwig family coming ‘home’ and quips that he’ll have to check their baggage just in case Ione is hiding there. However, although one hurdle has cleared, Hector still has to obtain his discharge from the Airforce; a matter he picks up in his next letter to Ione written on 27th April 1944:
My lovable sweetheart:
Out on temporary duty again, but I hope for only a few days or weeks, as I’m expecting news from Ottawa. Then I’ll be counting the days as I move from city to city & finally to Africa XXX to see Ione. Your love is the acme of my coveted possessions. Heart affection vitalizes the whole being so I often have that kind of heart trouble. There is so much of you to think about & it’s a grand pastime. So many things remind me of you; especially my watch. I imagine about 500 people have seen it in the last three weeks. Today I had some spare time & I was putting pictures in my album. After much hesitation I took those Phila. pictures out of their folder & put them in with stickers. And this is what I want to tell you. In that picture of your room (I usually look at it the longest) I noticed for the first time that there is a little Baby Ben clock on the dresser. Is that the one that you mentioned several letters ago? The hands then were at ¼ to nine. So that reminded me of you. And then people frequently ask about “Ione” – so many, I think, dearie, that when we get our wedding arranged we’ll just ask for an empire hook-up. It would only take about 30 seconds to pay for it. We two will make some great scientific discovery or invention – like say – something to keep women from talking; that should bring in royalties from every nation. But I’d like to suggest this rule that it wouldn’t be effective until after you sat on my lap & talked sweetly into my ear for three hours steady. You know dear I seem to hear your voice & merry laugh every so often. It will be glorious to be near you soon.
Now for news. I visited Ottawa on the way back & the passport division are getting a few things lined up. In Montreal I went to see the Belgian Legation & they were very kind. One of the men gave me a huge envelope of literature on Belgium & especially the Congo. I’ve gone thru’ most of it & have learned much about the colonial policy. He gave me three daily newspapers (French) from Elizabethville – printed last January. It has the amazing name of “L’Essor du Congo.”
Last Friday evening I had the opportunity of preaching my first real sermon in my new capacity at the Soldiers & Airmen Christian Assoc. The main St John paper carried the enclosed ad. Some of the friends suggested I send it to you. I enjoyed speaking on the works of the Spirit as outlined in John 16:8-11. I never really understood this section until I began preparing this message. Afterwards an airman accepted Christ as his Saviour. His name is Jimmie McLellan & he was on his last leave before going overseas. A fine young man.
Once back in Scoudouc I wasn’t long taking my ordination certificate down to the officials. The Flight Lieutenant was so interested he got his theological terms confused & asked me if I’d been confirmed alright. Evidently they got everything fixed up that afternoon & were sending their recommendation for “compassionate discharge” in to Ottawa. When he found out I was going out on temporary duty he said he hoped to have good news for me when I returned. So keep praying & trusting, honey!
One more incident. While coming out to this station I got a ride from town with a local Anglican minister and nothing will do but I must take the service next Sunday evening. What a golden opportunity!! I believe the Lord would have me speak on Gal 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” That should give ample material to tell of our state by nature & our available state by grace. I just love preaching!
Closing for another time. Next year this time I’ll be cutting some wood out of the forest to make a cradle & high-chair – Possible? From your ardent lover, Hector XX
Hector gets an interesting request from the postal clerk at Scoudouc on 1st May 1944:
Mr McMillan J H.
This is the Postal Clerk on your wicket, and I am a stamp collector, and if you do not collect stamps yourself or are saving them for another would you be so kind as to send me the Belgian Congo Stamps from your letter.
Thank you very much for your trouble and hoping you receive lots of mail.
Postal Clerk, W309457, L A W Gaynes, EM, HRH Scoudouc, N.B.
Hector marks ‘Mother’s Day’ that year by writing to Mrs Reed on the 7th May 1944:
“To the dearest mother a fellow could have,
Special greetings for Mother’s Day and a hearty hug & kiss X. My affection for you & yours is accumulating daily as the time draws near when I can really express it. Sometimes I feel you so close to me and I long for another motherly embrace.”
He has received three letters together, from Mrs Reed, Marcellyn and Ione:
“Can you imagine one person being so fortunate to receive letters from all these. It’s like having the sun moon & stars all shining at once.”
He always has something of a spiritual nature to share with his future mother in law:
“That devotional reading you mentioned just drips with blessing. Do you know dearest mother the other evening I went off from the building in the twilight & read Acts 6 & 7 & sat on the stone & began to thank the Lord for all He is & has given me in loved ones. I wept in anticipation of standing before Him & beholding His countenance. “Oh, Lord just to see Thy face”. I almost went up to Glory in rapture.
I’m to speak at young people’s meeting tomorrow evening in Yarmouth. Rather strangely the Lord laid the message on my heart before I was asked to take it. “God runs a rescue mission” Ex. 3:7&8. God sees–hears–knows–comes–down-& brings up.
Well the other boys have come in so I better close for now.
Lovingly yours always, Hector X”
Finally Hector’s discharge comes through; he cables the news to Ione and drops a brief letter to her mother on 29th May 1944, saying that he plans to stay a few weeks at the mission headquarters in Toronto – 18 Howland Avenue.
On June 4th 1944, Ione starts a letter to the Pudneys, which she finishes on the 10th, noting she has not replied to letters received from them during the previous year. Two went to Pearl at Ruwenzori and took a while to finally reach Ione. She writes:
“The increase in salary was very welcome and we have been receiving our monthly allowances; however there is a three-month’ gap where Doctor finished transferring our funds (June) and when Mr Kerrigan began (Oct.). Doctor and Mr Kerrigan decided that Pearl and I would have to write the Pontiac church to make it up.
Truly I have much to be thankful for. The Lord has kept me healthy and has given me choice opportunities to witness even when I thought I was too busy being a ‘Martha’ in the kitchen and nursery. Hector wrote me that he was endeavouring to speak to at least one soul each day about the Lord and when I saw what great results he was having, I determined that I would keep my eyes open for people right in my line of duty: on my way past the hospital I walked thru the wards – prayed with a woman before she died; caught a Mohammedan reading his Koran and witnessed to the unsearchable Word of God; some school boys stopped at the house when I returned in the evening and we had several evenings of heart-to-heart talks and prayer and as a result one of them led his mother to the Lord; a group of boys came in on Sunday afternoon and 7 accepted Christ. And beside the opportunities going to and from the Doctor’s house I have had two hospital meetings a week and a girls and boys joint meeting. I have the women just now three mornings a week while Vee (Viola Walker) is trekking; they have a devotional meeting and a reading class. I was to have taken over the boys’ school this term with a half-time schedule at Doctor’s but Mrs Westcott felt she could not carry on without me. There have been white patients almost continuously and feeding them as well as helping Doctor is too much for Ellen. But she is getting on admirably.
Bongondza seems very strange without the ‘Kinsos’ and right now Vee has gone. But the Faulkner’s are here as well as Joan Pengilly. The Faulkner’s are awaiting word of their possible furlough.
June 10, 1944
I had started this letter in April and it rusted in the typewriter and now I find it has rusted again, so I shall hurry off the latest news. Yesterday Doctor and Pearl and I (Pearl has been here a month packing up to go to Maganga) received an Airmail from Doctor Savage with the two motions made in the council meeting there, concerning Pearl’s health and my engagement. I believe a cable is to be sent today with the response. You will have received by now (the time of reading this) that information that I, too, am included in the furlough departures. I do not know what complications this will involve in America, but do not wish to upset Hector’s plans. No doubt if he is released he (and I had his cable to that effect yesterday) will be able to get passage very soon. It may be that we shall be crossing at the same time, but from this side it is tho’t the wise thing for me to do and Mr Kerrigan feels that Hector will get into the work quicker if he is not married until he has been here for a while. This is agreeable to me, altho’ I had hoped to either be married at home or to meet him when he had arrived in Congo. But by now I believe I know the value of rest when it is offered, and I could not refuse a furlough now when I should have to wait for Hector’s furlough if I did not take it now. Jean Brown Faulkner’s experience shows me that it will be better from the long view. The Lord will surely show me how to possess my soul in patience’ till I have rested and come back to Hector. By then he will have the language and we can relieve someone else who needs a furlough. I trust this sounds as reasonable to you as it does to us out here! Doctor is head over heels in packing and says he will get off in a month.
Pearl and I have had a happy month together and we expect to have our little home very cozy for the next occupant. It has a new leaf roof, freshly plastered walls, new mud verandah, some beautiful clever grass in front, a place ready for planting of spider lilies on either side of the path; they will go in this week, and a new water drum for the cook house, and best of all running water at bath (Doctor built a bath in 2 hours!) from bricks and cement with a faucet thru the wall from a drum outside. The water falls first on the water stand and when the bowl is removed, it cascades down into the tub! A saving on faucets and pipes and it really works. Pearl loves the work here, and is willing to go to Maganga since that is the wish of the Council and it is tho’t best for her just now.
Mr Kerrigan has been a real help and inspiration to us these three months he has been here. I expect Pearl will go with him when he goes to see his wife in July and attend to matters on his station.
We were thrilled to learn of the possibility of work in Haiti, of Mr Pudney’s journey there and of Verna’s and Miss Bradshaw’s safe arrival there. No doubt others have arrived before now.
The most news of Pearl is that she has gained 16 pounds. I think she lost a few of those since for I heard she had a stomach upset but I’m sure she’s on the mend. Doctor will no doubt give you an official report. I have heard that Dr. Becker will go to America soon and I’m wondering if Pearl will be released. Her time is really finished for the treatment, but there was to be a gradually decreasing amount of air given and if the cough remained she still would not be allowed to work. I know this waiting time is hard for her and that you are praying for her. She seems happy and well situated. I met the people with whom she stays and they are very kindly. I still have Pearl’s things at my house but expect this week to pack them up.
No doubt the Doctor or Mr Kerrigan have informed you in detail of the recent decisions and happenings, but I do want you to know that whatever is tho’t wisest in my case is acceptable to me. When Doctor and Mr Kerrigan asked me yesterday if I would be willing to wait another year to be married I told them yes, if it would make me a better missionary and wife by the year of rest. The way I feel right now it seems I could easily go on for three or four years more, and especially with Hector. But if I do come home now with Doctor I’ll be able to keep up with Hector’s pace. I am writing to Hector to tell him how I feel. In my heart I am holding a new hope that Hector may still be in the States when we arrive that I might see him anyway, but I don’t suppose it would be wise for us to marry right then either if he is to go off so soon. And Mr Kerrigan thinks it is wise for him to come out single. Ah, me – it seems rather complicated, but “our Heavenly Father knoweth…”
Please accept the greetings of the friends here, Pearl and Joan. Yours in Christ, Ione Reed
Ione follows this letter with one to her sister Doris, who seems to have been having problems which elicits this response from Ione:
Your letter was like a melodrama and I wept and smiled over it. These experiences you have had and are having seem terrible to you right now but I believe you will turn out all right. “All things work together for good to them who love the Lord, to them who are the called, according to His purpose.” If you can put a big period after each mistake and see that it doesn’t happen again these times will be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks. The main thing is to stay close to the good old Book – “sin will keep you from this Book; and this Book will keep you from Sin”. Spend time in prayer and commit your life to Him. That’s a big sister’s advice!!
Now for the news – and you’re the first of the family I have told. I am planning to come home very soon. The Doctor says in a month, but of course it may be longer. I may come on a medical boat with them, or by plane. But I wondered if you were wealthy enough to come east and see me. I’d be thrilled to step off the boat in New York for Boston and see you waiting there at the dock. There may not be time to let me know, but I will keep you informed anyhow and although I might not be able to tell you just when to expect us I may be able to tell you the place and approximate time.
I had a cable yesterday saying that Hector has received his discharge from the Airforce and has gone to Toronto or Phil. preparatory to sailing for the Congo. The Home Council suggested my going down river to meet him at Matadi, being married and having our honeymoon on the Congo River, which sounded grand to me as I remember with pleasure that river trip which takes two weeks. But the Field Council differed in opinion and I think their decision will win out. I am to go home with the Westcott’s for a year’s furlough, for if I did not I could not get home for another four or five years, whenever Hector’s term will be finished. As it is now, we may both be on the water going in the opposite directions and if that is the case we’ll not be married until my year at home is finished. If he is still at home we might be married at home, and if so I hope you’re available as a bridesmaid.
I am glad you had a chance to meet Hector. Did he by any chance show you how he lays down like a dog? Turns around three times, etc. I believe I love every hair on his head, – I mean both of them. He is bald and has at least one false plate; I haven’t discovered whether it’s upper or lower. I think he would appreciate your impersonations. His pictures get better looking all along. I think he must be happier since he is in love, I know I am. I received a letter once a month from G. Kissinger until he found out I was engaged. I didn’t write him at all except to announce my engagement, for I felt he’d never get out here. He is a nice fellow, is a Chaplain in the Army now, and was at Harvard University when he last wrote. I had a letter from my old boyfriend Russell Haggard, too. His wife died you know, when their baby was born. Russell is a Chaplain in China; was in India before. Oh, I heard from Percy Brien, too, in Alaska. He is a Baker! Remember how he used to say, “Too bad. Nice girl, too.” I heard your old interest? Faulkner married Velma Sears.
Ione gives details of a recent bout of pneumonia and concurrent weight loss; no wonder she feels the need for a break and furlough, and despite being ill, she still maintains her work schedule which includes packing trunks for the Doctor’s family. Included is a description of the oven she is using:
“The oven out in the cook house is made out of a kerosene drum and bakes acceptable bread. I bake my own bread every other day using no yeast, but a continuous leaven culture which you save out of each time. If that should be forgotten a few days it will die, and then I would have to make a new culture from a fermented plantain or banana. It’s a great life.”
And ends with:
I had a letter yesterday from Marion Reed Dallman and a picture of her 16-months old boy and a picture of Jack Reed and his bride. She said Jack had been around the world. Blair is in England. I had a letter from Jack when he was in Africa. I have not heard from Marcellyn since she went to College. I haven’t written her either and am ashamed. I know she has financial needs; Hector sent her $10. I can’t forward money from here, but perhaps can do something when I get home about it. Lucille writes quite frequently and seems very happy; Mother says Maurice is a real preacher. Mother sent me her picture and she has lost weight. I guess her time at the hospital thinned her down. I am anxious to see all of the family. I have been lonely many times for you all.
I am sure this is difficult reading so I’ll not prolong it. Be assured I am praying much for you. Don’t be surprised if you receive a cable from me, for I do want you to know when we leave here. If it’s by boat it will be about a month, if by plane, a week until we arrive. Pray for a safe journey.
I’m glad you are as nutty as ever; I want you to be, for I love you that way. I think I can screw up a few laughs in my old age.
Lovingly yours, Ione
And again on the 10th June 1944, Ione writes to Hector with news of her plans, which do not quite match up to his. Some of the letter was destroyed but it starts with:
“Dearest Dear One,
Your cable reached me yesterday and I was so excited I just waved it in the air and shouted. At the same time that I learned that you had received your discharge I received a letter from Dr. Savage suggesting that I come down river to meet you when you arrive and that we be married and return to the work together. That all sounded great and I think I had the Doctor convinced that it was just the right thing. But Mr Kerrigan, in behalf of the Field Council shook his head. He advised that I take my furlough now when the Westcott’s come home, else I should not get one at all. And he further stated that it was best for you to come here as a single man, get the language, and get adjusted to conditions before being married. I can see the wisdom, but I confess it had never occurred to me. And now very suddenly Doctor has decided that he must get off in a month’s time and I am to go along, which is satisfactory with me, but I am wondering where you are, if you have left by now, and if, as I feared last November, we shall both be on the ocean but going in opposite directions. It may be possible, but the Lord will lead us both I am sure. But if I could just get to see you and talk to you I would feel better about it. I want to go home and do need it before we are married, but I hadn’t tho’t it would be this way. If your sailing is delayed we may yet see each other, and I am secretly wishing we could even be married there, but I would not wish you to be delayed when you are so needed out here. Six missionaries have already gone on furlough, and five more will be going in the next few months, maybe six. That only leaves eight.
There are various plans mooted; Hector could go to Boyulu to the learn the tribal language Kingwana; Hector and Ione as a married couple could go to Maganga if they marry as soon as she gets to the States or before as outlined in the letter to the Pudneys. This means Ione also has to learn Kingwana; at present she speaks Bangala, the tribal dialect used at Bongondza and Ekoko. In earlier letters, the possibility of their going to Ekoko was mooted but the mission did not have ‘a concession’ to work there from the Belgian government although it was being negotiated. The Field Leaders (Kinso and Kerri) would rather place an experienced coupe there rather than newlywed McMillan’s. As Ione says:
“The future is rather indefinite but it is in His Almighty hands. If you get out here before we leave we can have some happy times together at any rate. But I must pray for courage to go if you are here. Doctor said I might come back before the year is finished if I felt well. Perhaps a little sick spell I have just had made them fear that I would be too tired by the end of your term.
We have been praying all along for His guidance concerning our lives and now that there seems to be action at both ends of the line we cannot complain if He chooses to even move us both without seeing one another. We know that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” If I should leave here in a month’s time (a little more perhaps) I shall perhaps be allowed to travel on a medical boat with the Westcott’s or to come with them by plane. They have no specific information as yet. At any rate I should be there in August or September. Doctor Savage said it would be several months before you could leave, but that letter was written before he knew you had been discharged. So peradventure you are on the high seas or about to leave. May I say, the Lord bless you abundantly and keep you safe from all harm. I want you kept safe for His Sake – and for mine. For I do love you dearly and want you for my very own husband.
Loving you always, Ione”
The 10th of June 1944 was evidently a letter writing day because Ione also finds time to write to her friend Agnes Sturman. After thanking Agnes for her letters, Ione writes:
Pearl was here to enjoy the last one, as she came rather suddenly back, a little before time as Dr. Becker was leaving for the States and could give her a ride as far as Stanleyville. Then she took the courier bus and came to Kole where Doctor met her. She surprised us all by her rotundity and says she feels fine. Her blood count is high, much better than any of us, and she wants to get started. She has been designated for Maganga for a while until she is used to the work again. She has been packing and expects to go with Mr Kerrigan when he goes to his station again in July.
We were surprised to receive Airmail from Dr. Savage yesterday; and also I received a cable telling of Hector’s discharge from the Airforce. Since Pearl’s health is good enough to work, that eliminates her from going home; she so much desires to put in some good months of real service before she goes home. I told Doctor I tho’t it would be great to meet Hector at the sea and be married and I figured the change would give me a break before beginning the full time missionary work. But the Field Council tho’t differently. They want me to come home, too, and get a furlough before marrying so that I can serve a regular second term stretch without a breakdown. Mrs Faulkner was out here for a few years like myself and then instead of going home she married and now they are forced to go home because she just cannot carry on. Her blood count is only 45 and she has sinus trouble; and other things I guess. So the Council used her as an example and want me to be rested and also they want Hector to spend some months on the field before he marries. It is commonly known that this climate is not the best; people get pneumonia so quickly and then – it is only a step to TB.
She tells Agnes about her recent bout of illness that was treated with antibiotics and intravenous glucose and adds:
I presume Hector will get off on a boat soon. And it may be that we shall be travelling in opposite directions. I would like so well to at least see him on his way here and the Lord may work some coincidence. But otherwise….I’ll go home, be a single lady there and in the meantime he’ll be learning Kingwana at Boyulu perhaps. Then I’ll come back, we’ll both be experienced and can take over any work that is offered, we hope! I suppose the States are full of returned missionaries who are deputising. I’ll have a story to tell about the work here, Doctor will have some pictures, and when Doctor’s modesty fails to speak of the miracle of his wife’s recovery I will take up the tale. She has had 16 operations you know, 11 this term. She could not lift her head when I came. Now she conducts the child health clinic, assists the Doctor with operations, and has a remarkable keen mental balance. She walks and even runs without a limp. You will marvel I think when you see her for she is still very beautiful and dresses the children very tastefully.
The Doctor is packing as he never before has, and expects to be able to leave the Congo even before the Faulkner’s as there is special privilege to Doctors and nurses.
I am bringing your alligator-shaped ivory letter-opener instead of sending it. I have some other interesting things that I shall try to obtain permission to carry along. I expect I’ll have my trunk sent to Charlevoix where Lucille is, since my home belongings are there and I shall have no other home. But if I can find a nail to hang on in Pontiac I want to be there more than any other place. S’funny, isn’t it, what a pull there is on the heart-strings there is for the folk at First Baptist. Pearl learned to love them as well as I.
Oh, what I really intended writing for is this; When Mr Kerrigan took over paying Pearl’s and my salaries he received the first payment from the States in Oct. (1943) and marked them for OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, the time he received them. Dr’s last payment to us was for May and June. It seemed Doctor paid for the months that had passed and Mr Kerrigan now pays in advance. But this change leaves us with three months unpaid, namely, July, August and Sept. (1943) Both Mr Kerrigan and Doctor advised us to write that the church make these up. Pearl wants hers to be sent out. Mine is to be retained there in my savings account.
I trust this letter finds you well. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Ione was travelling with the Doctor’s family for two months only returning to Bongondza in October which is probably why the discrepancy had not been resolved earlier.
On 25th June 1944, Ione sends Hector a birthday card and note:
Soon four birthdays shall have passed since we first met. It does not seem possible. And you will be 29. I hope it will be a joyful day for you wherever you are. Surely another birthday will not pass before we are together. The Lord is leading I am sure and will not make us wait longer than is necessary for His Plan.
I sent you two letters a week apart and by now you have heard that the Westcott’s and I shall be leaving shortly. The Faulkner’s hope to come soon, too. I am wondering whether you and I shall be sent at the same time so if we may be permitted to be together soon.
This week your April 27 letter came with your picture in ministerial garb. That’s the first time I have seen you looking stern. Perhaps you’ll look at me many times that way! I love you ever so much more now than ever before. I love your mischievous eyes and your strong hands.
Your cable indicated your imminent departure. If you are leaving America shortly may you be granted journeying mercies. If in His goodness you shall be detained a tiny bit to wait for me I shall be the happiest girl anywhere.
Much love, Ione
PS: (The card reads…) May every hour of Your Birthday and every day of the year to follow be filled with happiness.
(and Ione notes…) I mean the kind of happiness that comes when God opens the door to His chosen field of service; and when you open your arms and find them enfolding someone who loves you. – Ione
Whilst Ione is coming to terms with the possibility of travelling in the opposite direction to Hector, he is gaily preparing to see her and on 28th June 1944, writes:
“My dearest One and Only:
“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.
This is the promise that the Lord gave me on Oct. 22/43, when I first began to think about getting a discharge. Yesterday I received the official certificate. How wonderfully I have been kept in the way. In a few more months I should be at “”””the Place”””” which the Lord has provided for me, by your side. …..
Miss Linton gave me an outfit list the other day and it is interesting checking the various items. At the bottom of the second page there is a note that the married couples do not have to duplicate everything. But would you like me to take out as much as possible in case some of yours is the worse for wear? Quite a lot of my equipment for Brazil will fit in quite nicely.
And the other day I got a letter from Mr Pudney saying that they were negotiating with the Belgian Legation in New York in regard to marriage document on arrival on the field. Sounds allright doesn’t it? But supposing there should be a time of waiting, I’ll be able to see you most of the time. And you’re not very hard to look at ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !”.
Hector has been staying at the mission home with the Goodman’s and provides childcare for their son, Harding:
“You would love to hide around a corner and listen to what I’ve taught Harding to say. Last Sunday morning Mrs Goodman wanted to go up to Eglinton so asked me if I mind staying at home. So we told the lad all about the plans and he was willing to stay with “Heh-heh”. He just loves stories; so baby Moses was of great interest to his little heart. As a diversion I took him around the room and he named out most of the people from their pictures. He goes wild over that one of you on the mantel piece. So I told him a little about our affair, and then asked him who Hector loved, and he came back with a close resemblance of “Aye-yown”. When I reversed the question then he put my name in. So he has the right idea. Mrs Goodman didn’t know what to say when she came home and I put him through his exercises. But the other evening at supper he went a step too far. I believe his mother asked him who Hector loved, and quick as he could be he said, “Aye-yown, the bwack girl”. She has been telling him to pray for the little black boys and girls, and I guess he thinks you’re one.”
“Maybe you would like to know what recommends the Airforce gave me. “His conduct had character in the service…..very good”. “His qualifications during Air Ford service in the trade shown….”Superior”. But of course you don’t have to believe all they say. This parchment is invaluable to me and much coveted by others. 4XXXX This is Harding saying Hi. “X this is for a little black girl. Love Harding”
It would seem that the plan is for Hector to sail in the ‘Fall’ with a group of other missionaries’; in the meantime he is enrolled on a language course as he needs to learn French. Hector relates to Ione that an acquaintance is going to the Sudan Inland Mission without having been to Bible College and it would appear that the UFM takes a pride in preparing their prospective missionaries prior to them leaving their home country.
In response to a gift of 10 dollars from the First Baptist Church in Michigan, Ione writes to Mrs Peterson on the 7th July 1944 to thank them. She includes a story about a visit and provides a summary of her activities:
“Recently we entertained Mr and Mrs Rogers from the French Congo. They told us of their experiences in the lion country, where daily they need the Lord’s protection from bodily harm. Two days before leaving their station Mr Rogers had taken his gun to kill an antelope. He had just three cartridges, used two and then turned about to face a lion which rose in front of him.
This has been an interesting year. A missionary’s vocation involves many sub-vocations that of farmer, cook, administrator, carpenter, teacher, nurse. In the U.F.M. magazine, “Light & Life” my name appears on the hospital staff. I am not a nurse, but this year more than last I have found an ever-increasing demand upon my meagre knowledge in the care of the sick. Then there are the meals to supervise for both patients and attendants. For several months I was able to give instructions to the nurses as well. There were six or seven of them and a few houseboys. We met each afternoon and studied reading (French and Bangala) writing, arithmetic as well as spelling and music. One nurse, Bangisa (‘He makes people afraid’) learned to read simple verses in the book of John in just one week. I do not know whether the continual study in that book made the impression, but soon after that he raised his hand in one of my hospital services and accepted Christ.
Our native orphan, Midoli, is growing rapidly, walks now and sings hymns. You would love to see him sitting at his little table in the back yard where he receives his meals when we eat. A little mulatto child, Katherine, sits at our table with us and sleeps with the Westcott kiddies. There are many for whom to pray – Botiki, Doctor’s native head nurse who is a fine Christian. Samwele, the native pastor, Pelo, the head teacher of the boys’ school.
Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I trust that you may continually ‘abound to every good work’.
Yours in Christ, Ione Reed
The same letter is sent to Mrs Mitchell on the same day in response to her gift and Ione uses the same starting text on each letter:
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” II Cor. 9:8
Hector writes to Ione on his birthday, 16th July 1944.The Goodman’s leave Hector in charge of the Mission Headquarters. There is to be a council meeting and Mr Pudney is arriving from the States; it would appear that Hector and Ione’s marriage will form part of the agenda for discussion and Hector hopes they will get permission to marry sooner rather than later, he writes:
“You said just what I want to say, “I get so tired of myself it will be refreshing to have you around.” It will be sublime to have someone slip their arm around me and look coyly enticing. We will have many twilight treks, oblivious of even stray natives. Bwana Macky will be the happiest man in the Congo.”
Another prospective missionary couple, Chester and Dolena Burke are also resident at the mission headquarters. Like Hector, Chester was Canadian and grew up on a farm:
“Chester Burk got the breakfast while Dolena and I were doing the washing. She is not very well acquainted with the machine. They are a fairly tall couple but both thin. He weighs about 130 and she might be about 115. They could both do with about 35 lbs more. Then they would be about the same as you and I. People are most amazed at my ‘fat’ cheeks as Mrs Roadhouse said. Chester and I were out there the other day picking cherries. At the dinner table in the kitchen Mr Roadhouse was recounting some incidents and his wife broke in with the comment that it takes Ione Reed to make things really interesting. So I felt quite proud of you. That kind of pride is permissible I believe.”
Hector’s other news is as follows:
“Listen to what happened last Saturday. Mrs Goodman wanted me to go visit some folks that had an ad in the paper for a bird cage along with some other things, including cabinetmaker’s tools. They were leaving on the nine-thirty train so I went up to this place shortly afterwards. The cage was not quite satisfactory, but the tools. Another man had been there the night before but did not have enough money. When the man of the house started to take the various articles out of the chest I was all eyes. After a while I got up enough courage to ask him the price……$50. And you will agree with me when you see them that they are worth at least twice or three times that much. I wasn’t long in making the bargain for fear that the other man would be back. So I called a taxi and loaded into it. On the way home I had a grand talk with the taxi driver about the Lord. He was quite hungry and said that someday he hoped he would see “it”. He remembered a testimony of a man in the merchant marine who had been saved down in one of the West Indies Islands, when a group of them had gone into a place to disrupt a gospel meeting that a lady missionary had started. This fellow just went down to the front at last and confessed that this was exactly what he needed. He must have really lived for the Lord since. This chap that was talking to me said that when this Christian got into difficulty or trouble he would just say that the Lord would take care of him. And with great emphasis the taxi driver said, “And He would do it too.” So it pays to testify! ! ! !
And do you know what else has happened in the past two weeks. You would have loved to have been with me. I was down home from July 3-12 to help with the hay. Florence’s two girls Audrey and Joan whose letter I am enclosing are up there for the summer. Well, every night after they got their pajamas on and into bed, I went into their room and read them a Bible story. About Eli and his two bad boys; David and Jonathan and the lad who went to get the arrows; the Philippian jailor; and then on the evening of the 10th I asked the Lord to enable me to tell them simply the plan of salvation. Billie Miller, Alice’s lad of about nine this summer was staying up at Grandpa’s too. So we talked a little longer that evening and they seemed agreed on one thing, they wanted to become Christians. Audrey and Billie wanted to be saved together but Joan wanted me to pray with her alone. These are the kernel of their prayers. Audrey, “Forgive my sins and take me to heaven when I die”. She really wept before the Lord…Billie, “Send Thy Spirit into my heart.” Then we had a further talk about it all. This was all taking place in my room that night. They went to their respective rooms and Joan came in. She is an adorable child. So sweetly she prayed, “Clean out my heart; I thank Thee for saving me.” Then the next day they were telling Billie’s sister, Mary, about what had happened and they brought her around to me and said that Mary wanted to be saved, too. So we two went up to my room and we had a lovely talk for about half an hour. She is only about 7. But her prayer too was real. “Dear Lord come into my heart and make me a Christian.” They just had no argument with the Lord at all.
And more over before I left Dad gave me the first $100 for our wedding, along with $25 for the week’s work.
Mr, Maxwell is coming to the mission home for dinner today. I think that he knows nothing as yet about our engagement. But won’t I be pleased to show him your picture, the great big one. You remember the little one you sent from Africa. It’s about the only picture I have that I can see all of you. I even love to look at your feet ! ! ! !
May the Lord bless you my own Darling. All my Love, Hector X”
In a letter to Lucille and her husband started on 8th August 1944 and finished on the 27th, we discover Ione is already on her way back home; she writes:
Dearest Sister and Brother,
I don’t believe I have thanked you yet for the box which came of things for Pearl’s work as well as some things for me. They’re all very welcome and sorely needed. Pearl is started in a rather new work at Maganga and will need all the little things she can get. She has very little equipment for financial help. She has been ill for over a year and a half and is not able to do too much right from the start. It was tho’t best that she go to Maganga for now. She is very plump and rosy and feels well again.
Doctor Westcott has left the work at Bongondza to go home at last. I am on the way with them, but cannot tell when we will arrive as we do not know. I am at the coast now after having completed the River journey. We are all in a hotel, Mrs Westcott too ill to go to the dining room, but able to eat a little. I hope we don’t have too long to wait for her sake, as well as for Doctor’s who is not well either. Most of the time I am both Mother and Father to the children. I am sure they could not travel without help. Pray for them.
The future looks bright – what could be nicer than to see my dear ones again – Mother, you-all, Marcellyn, Doris, the other relatives and real friends. And then – Hector! I would like to be married at Pontiac, but of course it depends on where you can all come and when. And it depends on Hector too.
We are still waiting at the coast, unable to get passage. There are two or three remaining possibilities, via Lisbon, Portugal, via Liverpool, England, and by plane, which seems the most likely at present. If we come by plane we’ll have a few more weeks’ wait here and then come quickly. I’ll either call or wire you when I arrive. We are living at the ABC Hotel, a Portuguese place, lots of sailors and drink, but the food is good & we have good rooms away from the noise & fights. I think I have gained back the pounds I lost with pneumonia this spring. Since coming here I’ve been having tri-weekly French lessons from the wife of the Customs agent. I have felt a little more confident in speaking French lately; it is a difficult language. If I can’t make myself understood, I generally can find a native & talk Bangala to him and he interprets if he knows French. Some of the French people do know Bangala but it would be an insult to them to talk to them in the native language. The mission here is Swedish, but they speak English & French. Our hotel rooms face onto an open verandah on the second floor which overlooks a court. We watched a French program held there last week. Some little children enacted “Blanche Niege et les Sept Nains.” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The French children are cunning dainty things with a type of refinement that exceeds ours. Their young girls are all beautiful and their women never seem to grow old. This week when Paris was freed, there was a great rejoicing with flags and a party.
The weather here now is like September or June, lovely and cool – no rain. This is their nicest season. Tonight we’ll go up to the mission for tea & hymns and prayer – a “sing-song” they call it. God bless you always, Love, Ione XXX and more
The frustrations and difficulties of trying to get a passage back to the States are evident in a letter Ione writes on 25th August to her friend Pearl now based at Maganga mission station. Pearl is someone Ione is comfortable to share a burden with:
I miss your promises for beginnings of my letters. I’m thinking of that one about, “He hath made and He will bear.” Kinso drew that one day at our house at Bongondza. I have been thinking about it for I’ve been so blue and kind of bitter. I was thinking that since the Lord made me he has had a great deal to bear. I’m glad that ‘grace works not with what it finds but with what it brings.”
This has been a strange time and as on the vacation trip it seems that if I want to write letters it must be either with interruptions or after everyone is asleep. Today it is with interruptions. I should not complain, for I have been having more rest than usual; I think I have gained back my lost pounds due to the good food all along the way; and people have been very good to us. Today we shall learn whether the Tarn, a Norwegian boat will take us. The last one went a week ago and took the others who travelled down river with us, Dr. and Mrs Trout and Marian; Harold Paul and Paul Pontier; as well as Dr. from another mission and two single women missionaries. This boat is filled with those who have rights prior to ours, but there is a chance that several will not get here in time, for the boat will leave early; if that is so, we are on the spot and will be allowed to go. Otherwise, there is no other boat until the Portuguese one in Sept. or the Norwegian ones when they return on the next trip in Oct. or Nov. As yet there has been no opportunity of going by plane.
The Stanleyville days were pleasant, always with responsibilities of course, but I did get a permanent and enjoyed the hotel. When I drew my money out of the bank there was not much to travel with; that was why I let Doctor go ahead and transfer the name on the bill for the milk and lard. I did not like to do it at all and I still feel badly about it. Then I realized soon afterward how much I owed you beside for other things. Would you please make a list of the things and let me know. I am transferring 500 francs today by the post office for the vegetable basket, but I believe there may have been other things, too. Don’t hesitate to tell me.
I wore that brown blouse you gave me this week and it looked so nice. I know I shall have much wear from it. The green sweater has been a real help, too. I have needed it many times. This is a grand season at Matadi, real cool and pleasant all of the time. Sometimes it is even chilly. I presume we’ll see the Faulkner’s when the boat brings them this week if they come on here. We stayed a few days at Leopoldville, but the Consul advised us to come on here to talk to the Captains when these two boats arrived. I believe the rates are cheaper here, too. This hotel is cheaper than the Metropole and they make ice cream every day for us.
Ellen is awake now and I shall stop for now. She is sick most of the time, and at least one of the children most of the time. Doctor is not well either. It has been dysentery; now he’s getting a cold. But things sometimes seem worse than they are I know. God is ‘still on the throne’ and Jesus Christ is ‘the same, yesterday, today, and forever.’ God bless you in all you are doing. Hope you had a happy birthday. Love, Ione
On the 3rd of September, Ione finds time to write 4 letters; the first to friends and supporters of her work, the Nordrums where she summarises the last three years:
I have thought of you many times and wished to express my appreciation for your generous gift to me. I have applied it toward the cement that was needed in building the native church which was completed this year. Doctor Westcott has built the church entirely with hospital proceeds, except for the gifts which came thru friends of mine. The old church fell down a few months ago and the new one was very much needed. It is 93 feet long, 36 feet wide, all done in burned brick. It has a slanting floor with projection booth for stereopticon slides, two Sunday school rooms, a bell tower, a capacity for 600 people. Another society in Stanleyville built another, a similar church, and did not begin until they had $4,000 on hand, but Doctor Westcott’s has cost much less.
As I summarize the past three years I find much for which to rejoice. The Lord has been good to me and to those with whom I have been working. When Pearl Hiles and I said good bye to friends and loved ones in October, ’41, we scarcely dreamed of all that lay ahead: the wait at Philadelphia, the final departure a week after America had entered the War. The ocean journey during which time we travelled ‘blackout’, the safe delivery at Matadi, the fascinating Congo River, friends to welcome us at Bongondza on Feb. 7, ’42, and then the beginning of my work, a strange combination of caring for the sick, and invalided doctor’s wife, their children, other patients’ children of many nationalities, teaching in the native school, village work, trekking, etc.
During the second year I conducted three weeks of women’s meetings, took charge of the two hospital meetings a week all year, had two or three periods daily in the evangelists’ school for two months, taught about 40 school boys each Sunday afternoon, took tri-weekly village meetings for three months, and took a two-week trek with Miss Viola Walker. It was my joy to lead 22 to the Lord.
This last year I continued on with the early morning hospital meetings and in addition took charge of a class for hospital boys, the native nurses and houseboys. We met each afternoon and studied reading, writing, arithmetic, music, and French. One unlikely-looking nurse named Bangisa learned to read in a week’s time simple sentences in the Gospel of John. Shortly after that he accepted Christ and entered the class for Baptism.
One of Doctor’s native patients who had a TB spine has recovered, is a member of the evangelists’ class, tells how he was saved while he lay in bed reading the scriptures. He has a fine testimony and if he remains true will be a great help to the work. His name is Tisembo, a tall thin fellow with a pleasant smile and earnest eyes.
Thank you for your kindly interest. I may see you soon, but until then, – may God bless you both. Yours in Christ, Ione Reed
The next letter is to her good friend Agnes Sturman:
Greetings from Matadi!
Well, we’ve gotten this far and have used up six weeks’ time. It doesn’t look as tho’ we’re going to get off so soon as we had hoped. We’ve hurriedly packed twice since arriving, once for plane travel and once for boat, but both were false alarms. Plane service seems to be out, for such a large party and it seems almost impossible to divide, for Ellen needs someone and Doctor is sick now a good deal of the time, as well as the children. If I were twins I could go with each half! Ellen could have gone, but they will not take the children, too. The Portuguese line seems the only sure thing, and there is a rare possibility on some American boats that heretofore have not accommodated passengers. We are here ready and will take anything that presents itself. But the best hope is not until October now.
I have not had mail and consequently no news from Hector or home. You no doubt know what he will do, whether he will come on out or wait for me. He’ll have a long wait if he waits for me! I imagine I’ll need to stay home for a little while at least. I am still thinking of Dr. Savage’s suggestion of my waiting here at Matadi for him, and think if I could just see this family safe on a good boat or plane I would not need to see them home. Right now they need help desperately, but if they get a fast boat and folk met them on the other side not much serious could happen. But I guess I’m supposed to get a little rest, too, on the other side, tho’ I am sure I don’t need it much.
I have not heard what was to be done about the salary, but I trust it has been held there. Would you kindly see that all funds are held there for me? I have received six months of this year’s salaries and trust more will be transferred from the station by Mr Kerrigan while I am here. I don’t know whether Doctor Westcott has indicated his way of paying for my travel expenses, but in case he hasn’t I might say that I believe he is taking the accumulated hospital funds and will make the proper exchange of accounts when he arrives there. He is paying all of my travel expenses.
Give my greetings to the friends there. I shall want to see you all soon after I reach the States. Pontiac is still my home altho’ my relatives are scattered now. Today I had the joy of seeing the Van Dusens whom you no doubt know. She was Doris Grote, a close friend of Helen Newhouse. She has two dear little girls now. They are so good in the church service this morning. She says she has known all along just where I was and what I was doing. They are leaving on a boat next week, so you may see them before you see us. Lovingly in Him, Ione
And with more detail about her journey, Ione writes a long letter to Hector:
Greetings in His own precious Name!
The latest letter I have from you was written June 30, but I presume others are where all of my mail is, back at Bongondza. This one was forwarded to me, but that is all the mail I have received since the middle of July when we left the station. We left Bongondza on July 18th, went a day’s journey by truck to Stan, went immediately to sleep on the ‘Reine Astrid’, the river boat which I was to sail on the 21st. We ate at the Sabena Airport Hotel and had ice cream every day, which was a real treat. We took 8 days going down the River (it takes 12 to come up against the current) and the weather was cool and delightful as against the hot weather when I went up 2-1/2 years ago; Jan. is the hottest month I have heard, not only for the River, but at Matadi, too. We spent a few days in Leopoldville at the Paula Hotel as the U.M.H. (Unione Missione Hospitaliere, or something like that) was overcrowded with departing missionaries. I had my passport renewed; it is good until Sept. 21 only, so now that we’re still here I’ll no doubt have to have a new one made. Then we came on here hoping to be able to obtain passage on one boat which was sailing in a few days, but there were too many others and we did not have success. Dr. and Mrs Trout and Marian went on that one with two missionaries’ sons who were offering themselves for military service. That gave their entire party priority, and of course, the Captain wished a doctor along. They left Aug. 17th. The next boat sailed a week ago today, but another party had been promised by the Captain when he was here the last time, so again we were disappointed. We have packed up suddenly for a plane also, only to find that it went to the wrong destination. Now plane service is out, apparently no hope for a party of 6, and Doctor is only sure of the Portuguese boat which will sail from here in October. However, there are a couple of vague possibilities in the meantime and we are here ready to take anything that comes along. In the meantime, Doctor has been able to obtain a medicine which promises to be a great help to Mrs Westcott’s various infections – penicillin, a rare thing which comes from a mould growth. She thinks she feels better already. Anne has a sinus infection and Doctor is trying her, too, to prevent it from getting chronic like her mother’s. The days go rather quickly in spite of the long wait. There is not the very complicated life here that I have had for the past three years. But I always have something interesting to do. Both Doctor and Mrs Westcott have been sick most of the time, too ill to attend meals, and I have the children to guide in dressing, bathing, washing their clothes, sometimes superintending their school time, mending, besides preparing for the French lessons I take three times a week at the home of a Customs Agent. His wife is a very good teacher. We go to the Swedish Church on Sundays where two native languages are spoken. Generally I take the three children. On Sunday nights there is a service for white people at the home of the Swedish missionaries.
I have not an inkling what you are doing. Your letter speaks of your imminent departure, but you have had word that I am coming, and I do not know yet whether you will be sent here anyway, or whether the Mission will think it well for you to wait for me. It will be a long wait if that is so, for we may not get there now, as things stand, until nearly Christmas time. And then, unless I come back immediately (as I would LOVE to) I should stay at home at least 6 months. I know how you would feel having to wait that long. If I thought you were coming, and I could see these friends safely onto a good vessel, I would not object at all to waiting right here in Matadi. I could stay at the Mission Home. We have not stayed there because of the size of our party and the crowded state there with so many departing missionaries. But I would go there if I were alone. Oh, well, I can think about it anyway. But I really don’t know how it will all turn out.
Thanks for the flower you put on the letter you sent. Is it a forget-me-not? I have not forgotten you, tho; it has been a long time since I wrote. I am wearing your bracelet full-time now as the children give it better treatment than before when they broke it so often. I also wear a little ruby ring on the third finger of my left hand, a ring my Mother gave me when I was in high school. This is to give a silent testimony to any strangers on the journey.
This week I found some precious promises in Zechariah which have been a help to me. I sometimes feel quite handicapped with other people’s needs, so bound down every minute of the day and night with things other than direct soul-winning that I get quite distressed. Then the Lord tells me that He will use these things in a way that He quite understands, even if I don’t!
“Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” 4:6
“For who hath despised the day of small things?” 4:10
“And ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.” 8:13
Hos. 6:3 gave me a good message, too. “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord.” Verse 1 indicates that we’re not ready now to know – we don’t have a right to know even. Something has come between us and the Lord perhaps. “Come and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up….Then – shall we know.” Even after returning to Him that’s not all: there’s another condition – an if: “if we follow on to know the Lord”. The only way we’ll be able to know things is to first know the Lord. If we get hold of the Key Man, He’ll let us in on all the secrets. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable unto His death.” Phil. 3:10. The sequence seems to be this: 1. Return to the Lord; 2. Follow on; and then 3. Know Him.
I hope you can get a great deal of French before coming out, and if we are to come out together after the War is finished I would like very much to come via Belgium to take the course in French. It has been much of a handicap to me and I don’t want to miss an opportunity of getting it learned well as soon as possible. I believe the others who have gone out to the field have all been to Belgium first, and no doubt, since I did not have it the Mission will think it wise for me to go there on the way back again. Have the Pudneys spoken of that possibility, should hostilities cease before you leave? Things that looked so little before I came seem so big now. I didn’t take much interest in my three lessons a week in Pontiac, but now I am studying with a woman who speaks no English at all and I must really dig to get along. We must speak French to everyone here except ourselves. Most of the natives understand Bangala, which would be much easier for me to talk, but it would be an insult to talk Bangala to a Belgian. The conjugations of the verbs have been the hardest and I have been carrying a paper around with me so that I can quickly look to see how to say it in the past, present or future tense. I made a bad mistake on the river boat. A French woman asked me if I was Doctor Westcott’s wife, and I glibly said, “Oui, Madame.” But luckily Mrs Westcott was near at hand and tho she is hard of hearing, heard that and corrected me.
I wish I knew what you were doing and what I will be doing a month from now. I hope we can see one another soon. I want to have some days or weeks to get my balance again, to become adjusted to civilization, to know you as a boy-friend for a little while, to be really sure you love me and that I love you, then I want to hear you say with your lips that you want to marry me. We have a right to a little courtship first, don’t we, before we are married? I want it to be a time which we shall never forget. Our courtship has been far from normal thus far, but I want it to begin to be normal when I arrive, if you are still there. Do you think we could be satisfied to just hold hands even tho’ a kiss would be preferable? I think it would be better for awhile and then we’ll have no feelings later that we were being rushed too much.
Goodbye, dear one, for now. Lovingly, Ione
And finally, Ione writes to Kerri:
Dear Mr Kerrigan:
Greetings in Christ!
A new month has begun and we are not yet on the way. We are beginning to get accustomed to seeing boats sail off without us, but perhaps someday soon we shall be the fortunate ones. At present, the only apparent possibility is the Portuguese line in October, unless the continued good news from Europe encourages some of these boats to carry less gunners and more missionaries! One can only ‘look for the worst and hope for the best’, as someone said. We have met some fine missionaries and have been seeing the family gain in strength, and the most hopeful thing recently was when Doctor obtained penicillin to help counteract some of Ellen’s ailments. It is rare and new, but has unusual possibilities (according to “Reader’s Digest”!).
I received a letter from Hector which I presume you have forwarded to me. Many thanks. Is there a chance that other first class mail could be sent on, since we expect to be here another month? The magazines can stay, but I would appreciate the letters. And if you have salaries to send, would you kindly have them transferred to B.C.B., Matadi. I shall send a letter now to the office in the States in case they have not already stopped sending salaries here.
I received your card at Leopoldville. I believe you were able to cash my check allright, were you not?
Hector’s letter was an old one written in June, so I have no news as to his plans. He was beginning to study some French and was doing some work in the office of the Peoples Church, Toronto, staying at the Mission Home with the Goodman’s. He spoke of a married couple with whom he expects to come in October. But I am not certain that our coming to America will not change his plans. I shall wait and see. Wouldn’t it be funny if he came on the same boat that we go home on?
Give my greetings to the friends at Bongondza: Viola and Joan, the Faulkner’s, if they are yet there. If Ray has not yet gone, perhaps you could send my mail with him. Greet Mrs Kerrigan when you see her, and Pearl and Frances, too.
Very sincerely yours, Ione Reed
Whilst Ione waits for transport at Matadi, Hector makes preparations for meeting Ione and on 10th October 19944 writes:
My own Darling:
No matter how close to me you are when you read this, you are still too far away. To think that I have only five more days before I can once more look into your eyes and tell you how much I love you over and over again in as many little ways as I can think of. For your sake I covet experiences causing a growth in heart qualities making me gentler, kindlier, less selfish, more thoughtful, more and more considerate of you, truer sympathy, numerous abilities and resources just to make you happier. I know that since last I saw you I have learned much along some of these lines just from living with all kinds of people; but in all situations Christ was sufficient and who teacheth like Him?
As I travelled around Michigan for three weeks getting to know all your folks, I was told time and time again how fortunate I was to have you for my promised bride. Pontiac, Charlevoix, Belding, and Grand Rapids. Oh! so many people that knew you. But best of all was the week spent up with Lucille and Maurice and their three children. When I met Lucille my heart was almost overjoyed. It was just like having you around. I used to watch her when she wasn’t looking. Her kind, sweet face; soft voice; smile and laugh, poise, control of every situation…..I was seeing you living again before my eyes. And her children ….. well that will be one whole night’s conversation.
You should see the way Mrs Pudney is fixing your room. We’ve been working on it yesterday and today and it’s all ready for you now; right next to mine. And we are to have the library and sometimes Mrs Pudney’s private sitting room… to get better acquainted. WE ARE REALLY GOING TO SPOIL YOU.
The clergy certificate for the Westcott’s are supposed to be there but there were only two forms here and the other one may come in tomorrow and if so we will send it right off; but if not then you can come right on up to Phila. Will the Dr. be coming this way or going direct to Pontiac? We presume the latter.
And one more paragraph. We had news from Verna today and she is arriving Miami on the 12th, so try and get together.
So, come away my love, my joy and crown; the touch of your hand will repay all the lonely hours. Ruth 1:16 for life.
Your lover now and always, Hector X
The UFM had its own magazine called ‘Light and Life’, in October 1944 it published the following from Hector:
“The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine…” – John 15:4
The Lord uses various methods to teach His children lessens in faith and patience.
When I graduated from the Prairie Bible Institute in 1940, I verily thought within myself that in a few months I would be on the mission field. Four years have passed. In that interval I have learned that my help cometh from the Lord, for without Him I can do nothing.
These past two years in the Royal Canadian Air Force have been a great blessing in my life. I entered this branch of the Armed Forces on a promise given to Gideon, “Go in this thy might…have I not sent thee.” This was a heaven-sent commission. When the Lord’s time came for my release, He gave me another Old Testament promise one morning as I was having devotions in the barracks, “Behold I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.”
I am thankful for three specific blessings. The technical training was a great benefit and will prove invaluable on the Congo field. The close association with men who definitely needed Christ was a side of my life which needed to be developed. In the spiritual realm, the Lord gently cut away many unnecessary branches and revealed new truths of my union with Christ. I was then enabled to proclaim the wonders of His grace and provision for me throughout the past eight years since I trusted Him as my Saviour. I solicit an interest in your prayers as I now leave for Africa. _ J. Hector McMillan.
In the same publication, Ione wrote:
SERVING THE LORD WITH GLADNESS – by Miss Ione Reed, Bongondza
I am well and happy and have much cause to praise the Lord that He sent me here. This strange combination of nursemaid, dietician, nurse’s aid, and doctor’s assistant has not made me any less an evangelist. The number of souls does not compare with the number the Sunshine Gospel Trio from Moody Bible Institute used to see coming to the Lord when I was travelling with them, but the fact that souls are being saved is encouraging. And you need not think that in these silent months God is not doing some work in my own life.
The rest of the article is taken up with news already published in the letters or news sheets prepared for sponsoring churches and cited above.
On the 22nd October1944, Viola, stationed at Bongondza sends Ione a letter:
Having an envelope ready to send with next week’s mail, to Frances (Longley, another missionary travelling with Ione), it occurred to me that you might just possibly be still at the coast when it arrived there, and might as well, therefore, send you a note, as well. Frances mentioned the good times you have been having together there, and I am so glad. We had expected the party might have left some time ago, so I had not written you.
We are well, and happy. There is, actually, very little news, when one sits down to try to write! We are, needless to say, kept busy, very busy. There are the days when we praise the Lord for His handiwork in some life, in answer to prayer, – there are too the days when big disappointments come. You know all about that, both sides. On the whole we have been amazed and thrilled at the way the Lord is undertaking that a surprising large percentage of His work here is still being carried on, (and by here I do not mean just Bongondza, but all our stations, you know) although with so few on the staff and that without any undue sense of strain. One can only conclude prayers of those at home are upholding the work the Lord has started. Personally, I am far stronger and less tired than I was a year ago, with much less work. Joan is well and happy. This weekend she is out trekking. She will be in tomorrow morning early, Monday. I hope to go out in the other direction the end of the week. She is now studying Kibua, as I strive to set down the knowledge gleaned by the Kinsos or myself during the years, in lesson form. I have only 12 lessons done yet, and there will be, I should think, quoting someone, “1000 Uneasy lessons” so it is a moot question whether the book of lessons will ever be finished!
Tell the children their big black pussy (cat) is still about. He looks quite fat and flourishing, and picks up a snack here and there as fortune favours him. One day it was half a loaf of Keri’s bread! The place looks nice and tidy about, I gather the men are doing their several duties over there.
We miss your singing greatly in our little services. Only tonight I was wishing I would hear you sing, “Out of the Ivory Palaces,” not that I ever did hear you sing that particular hymn, and maybe you do not like it, – but somehow I do! Glad to hear from Frances and Jean that Ellen has been so well. Greetings to her. And goodnight – I didn’t realize the page was full!
A letter written to the Pudneys on 28th October 1944 finds Ione now at Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and no further forward in her plans to get back to the USA and Hector; she writes:
Greetings in Jesus’ precious Name!
It doesn’t appear that we shall be leaving on the plane that goes this week, so I’ll send a letter in my stead. Someone once said that not only were the “steps of a righteous man…ordered of the Lord.” But the “stops” as well. I can’t tell why so many missionaries should have so many “stops” in trying to get to their homeland, but I am sure it must be a condition ordered by the Lord. There are at least 40 of us in Leo. Of our U.F.M. there are the Faulkner family of four, the Westcott family of five, Miss Longley, and myself. The Westcott’s and I have waited two months at Matadi and nearly two months here. Living conditions are not too good, but we have been comfortably situated at the U.M.H. for the past three weeks. The Faulkner’s and Miss Longley stay here, too, and we may have to leave if those from participating missions wish to come. However, Mrs Coxhill has said that she would do almost anything rather than put Mrs Westcott out of her room. There are many AIM folk here; Miss Gingrich & Miss Hayes from Aba, and many from Kenya. The Roberts from the Disciples of Christ, and a Mrs Hammereck, with two children, whose husband was a Congo Protestant Council Chaplain in the Forces and was killed in Egypt.
We watched 4 boats leave Matadi, but could get passage on none. We packed hastily for air travel in Matadi but the plane was going in the wrong direction. Then we obtained a definite booking on Pan-Am to leave Oct 9th and came back here for that having sent a cable to Hector that we would arrive the 13th in Miami, but it was a new line and after a trial flight they felt they could not yet carry passengers. Another plane went and another, but still we wait, hesitating to notify anyone until we are in America. I have had no mail from the States, as it has been forwarded to Phila, so I don’t know what has happened there since June.
Today Mrs W. and Bobbie are in bed. Doctor is not very well at any times, but he seldom stays in bed all day. They all eat better here than at the ABC Hotel in Matadi. I have gained back the lost pounds since my pneumonia this spring. The Faulkner’s look very tired and I’m sure will be glad to be in Canada. Frances appears very healthy and strong, but I know she is tired, too. This wait here is a rest of the right kind for all of us, of course, for myself, I have not been out three years yet, and don’t need a rest, but will be happy to get home. I want to get some further training in teaching while I’m home. I want to return with adequate preparation to do a real job my next term. I am thankful for the 20 or 30 whom I have had the joy of leading to the Lord. Now I want to hurry back and teach them how to live for Christ. There is a little book called, “They Were Expendable.” which tells of the soldiers sent to the Philippines. All men, good, were itemized and checked minutely until they were moved into line of battle; then all were crossed off the books as lost. The men & goods which returned were re-entered as gain. But they had to be willing to be counted as lost until they returned. I’d like to be expendable in that way.
Until we meet again, Ione Reed
On the same day, Ione finds time to write to her friend Evie telling her that Enroute to Matadi, they had taken and left the little mulatto girl, Katherine at Stanleyville. The travellers had gone straight to the Reine Astrid as they had booked cabins and slept there for a few days prior to their departure:
“After a few days we left on the “Queen Astrid” and spent eight delightful days coming out to the coast on the Congo River. The weather was pleasant and breezes were plentiful during the day and night, were warm when the boat stopped to take on wood; and the mosquitoes and beetles came aboard then, too. We travelled with a number of other missionaries, among them Dr & Mrs Trout of AIM who had served 18 years without a furlough. Mr & Mrs Marker of B.M.S. (British) who had a total of 38 or 40 years. Some Disciples of Christ missionaries, the Herbert Smiths. We reached Leopoldville July 29 and spent about a week caring for departure formalities, then took a train thru the Crystal Mountains one day’s journey to Matadi.
We had expected to get on our way by the first week in August, but the decision for passengers was in the hands of the Captain, and he did not take our party of 6. There were only 12 placed on the boat. Another boat came, a third and a fourth, of that line and others of other lines, but we could not go. There were gov’t priorities and some whom the Captain had promised on a previous voyage. So we sat for two months. Dr. Westcott tried several airlines and finally succeeded in obtaining a definite booking on the Pan-American for Oct 9, so the first week in Oct. we returned to Leopoldville. It was a new service and after the first flight without passengers, certain authorities decided the line was not quite ready for passengers, so we were postponed. Another plane went and still they could not take people. By this time there were promised bookings up to February. There are many waiting here and at Matadi. Another plane will go this week and if I don’t go on it, at least this letter will!
“Steps” and “stops” are many but we know they are ordered by the Lord. Our job is to be ready when the order comes to move. This long wait and its resultant rest may be to prepare us for a real hard job when we get home or when we return to the field. We’ve got to be ready and willing to be used whatever the cost.
We do expect to leave soon and I expect to see some of my loved ones by Christmas, the Lord willing. Keep looking up.
Ione also drops a line to her mother on 28th October:
“My dearest Mother,
I marvel that I know so little of Hector’s plans. I presume he’s still at Toronto. I only know of you last at Newbury helping the Kinkles. Doris’ last letter came from Pittsburgh, Cal. And Marcellyn’s came from Bob Jones before school was out. I don’t know where she went after that.
When I arrive (Miami, if by plane; NY if by boat) I want to go to Michigan soon, but may stop at Bristol, Av, to see Russ and Gen & at Frankfort to see Grace. I am hoping Doris will come east to see me. If Marcellyn is at B Jones, I’ll see her when I go to Bristol. Wherever my family is, I’ll find them, for I’m anxious to see you all. There is so much to say and so many to see.
I hope you are well. The pictures you sent me made me think you had lost much weight after your operation. I am well. Have been gaining weight while waiting here. Give my love to Lucille when you see her. I’m quite sure I’ll be there for Christmas, wherever you wish to celebrate it. With lots of love, Ione
A few days later, Hector writes to Mrs Reed on 7th November 1944:
I got this handkerchief today intending to send it to you for Christmas; but it’s so pretty & I love you so much. I’ll send it right away. I know you’ll find some nice place to put it on some dress. I think it will be within the scriptural limits to adorn yourself in modest apparel.
And how have you been getting along? I just love to sit down close to you & talk over so many things that we now have in common – all your family & relatives; our interests in the Lord’s work and all His rich promises to us, and the plans for the future.
Friday I was showing Mrs Pudney the hankie & she had me in to show it to Mr Pudney. I mentioned that I just couldn’t do too much for you and she graciously replied, “How nice for you to take that attitude.” They realize they are handicapped, never having met you and it is hard making acquaintance through other people. But some day they will meet you & then be just as proud of you as the rest of us.
Every so often I think of some of the trials you’ve gone thru & I’m so glad you were brought out into wealthy places. And here’s Ione grown into womanhood with years of Christian experience already & such a sample of a consecrated Christian, as well as fine natural characteristics and bringing such a flood of joy to your heart (and mine) every time we met there was that same freshness and tender family relationship that made me feel so much “at home”. And then to remember that a wife of the same calibre is my portion as a help mate: I know I shall cherish her & treasure her as a gift from the Lord’s hand.
I was in New York last week one day seeing about transportation to Africa. One line (direct) has a boat early in December. It takes about two months for the round trip (they are over there now, probably leaving and it’s up to the captain whether he will take lady passengers.) The official treated me quite nicely & even tho’ all the bookings are filled there may be cancellations. The mission would consider sending Mr Burk as well & letting his wife come later with Verna & Mary Rutt by plane if that way opens up. We have also applied for Pan-Air route & evidently the aeronautical engineers took the first two trips & have to hand in their decision to the Am. Gov’t before passengers can be allowed to go between Leopoldville & Liberia. But the Lord knows best.
Remember me to dear little Marcellyn. XX Much love, Hector
12th November 1944 and Ione is still in Leopoldville and writes to a long suffering friend:
Dear Old Palsie,
If I were a husband and wrote my wife as seldom as I write to you, I’d be sued for divorce! It’s plain that I’m a poor correspondent. I don’t even know whether I have any relatives left, or where Hector is. When I left the station July 18, I cut myself off from correspondence, for I didn’t know where I’d be before leaving the country.
Lately I started short-hand study. I hope to get into a normal training school when I get home to get ready for some better teaching next term. I guess that much ambition doesn’t sound like me, does it? I seem to be a queer person nowadays. Life here has made a funny duck out of me. I’ve done so much reading & sewing that I have a constant picture of myself with my shell-rimmed glasses perched on the end of my nose. Wait till you see me! And wait till I see you & your family (how many days now!)
At last after nearly 4 months of waiting, we have had our call to go by boat. We’ll leave Matadi the 17th. I will send this letter on to reach you before I arrive. Will arrive in NY sometime in early or middle December. Tell the Milwaukee friends & Paul & Bud if you write.
I can’t write more now as we have only one day to pack and I’m the only real well one in the group.
I wouldn’t have missed this 3 year’s experience for anything. Love to yourself and baby (ies) and Frank. In Christ, Ione
On the 14th November 1944, Ione still in Leopoldville, writes to Hector:
Greetings in Christ!
I’m really excited now, for we’ve had our call to leave by boat. Going from Matadi the 17th, or thereabouts, we should arrive in NY the early part or middle of Dec. It really looks as tho’ you and I shall be together on Christmas. And I am very happy. I want so to see you to find out if you really still love me, after these long silent months. Not a word have I heard, but perhaps I’ll find the letters in Phila. that you wrote before you knew we had left the station. At any rate, who cares about letters, when I’ll see you in about 4 weeks, D.V.!
If you happen to be at Philadelphia, would you be able to find out about arrival time from the same line that we came out on. Mr Pudney knows, and he will be glad for you to inform him of our coming. And could you come to NY to meet us? I hold my breath when I ask, when I think it might be possible. But at any rate, I will get in touch with you somehow soon after arrival, if I don’t see you.
We will need clergy books, Eastern. Will I need a different kind for Canada? And will you let my family know I’m coming, really this time?
I can’t write much now, as we have only this day yet here. I packed last night after the news came, but I will be helping the Westcott’s today. After I see that they are all with some of their relatives, I will be free – FREE from my long 3 years “case”. There are a few places I want to stop while I am east, but I want mostly to talk to YOU. I hope I can see you soon. It’s been a long wait, and getting away from here is not easily done. Most of the grey hairs that you will see have made their appearance during this wait. Waiting is always harder than working, isn’t it? But now I don’t care if they get seasick at once, for we’ll be going somewhere!
I do love you Hector. I want to tell you that in a better way soon. Take good care of yourself until we meet. Greet the Pudneys and other friends. The Kerstetters are here & talk often of Mrs Grant, her mother in Phila. Frances Longley went to Point Noir, with some other missionaries, the Roberts, to try to get home the French airway. The Faulkner’s are still here waiting. Leo is a real bottle-neck for tired & homesick missionaries. See you soon. Lovingly in Him, Ione
Frustrating as it is for Ione, Hector is also suffering from lack of contact and information and fills Ione in as best he can in short sharp sentences:
My only beloved and longed-for:
Thanksgiving Day! ! ! ! And haven’t I plenty to be thankful for, especially YOU.
Where will I start? What shall I say and what can I hope for? ? ? To think that I could have been writing to you all these months; I guess I should have done so anyway. My July letter came back to Phila. A cablegram waits you in Matadi, sent in October, and a copy of this letter lies dormant in Miami: and I wait here at 1150 with my heart all pulled out of shape.
Thanks for sending word through the Doctor’s mother. She wrote a very kind letter. During those early days of waiting after Oct 13 I kept everybody on guard each time the telephone rang. I usually said right away, quick, “Western Union”. But word of your arrival never did come. I almost planned on going down to Miami with your Uncle Bob. By now I am almost cured of making plans.
I suppose you could stand some news. Your mother is in Bob Jones College taking piano, organ, harmony, English, Old Testament, Bible doctrines and general psychology. Marcellyn (when she isn’t writing to Kent Wray) is taking French, Spanish, Eng. Lit., sight-singing, conducting, piano, and voice. They are living in a small apartment in Cleveland.
I had a wonderful letter from Lucille. I surely am fortunate to have a sister like her; and by her letter this seems to be mutual. I have written her several short notes as various news filtered through from you but I owe her a nice long newsy one.
Mother still hears from Doris. What a time she is having (no one elaborates on this in their letters but Doris parts from first husband Lloyd) but in it all the Lord must be watching over her lest the fire become too hot.
My folks were all set to meet you and the letters of sympathy keep coming in, wondering how I can stand the suspense. They wanted me to come back up to Canada, but I am rather wary about crossing the border lest there be a delay.
The Pudneys have just left for Florida to spend a month down there to regain some waning health. He was quite sick for two weeks recently. Verna is up in Canada while her mother is getting ready for an operation. Effie and Charles have been in Brazil for almost a month. Another party arrived in Haiti. There are three in England going to Africa instead of waiting for Brazil to open up. Chester Burk and I may get off on the same route that you took when you went out, and his wife come later with Verna and Mary Rutt from Lancaster either by plane or Portugal. Or failing that the Burks and I may go by Port.
Your letter to the Pudneys was full of good things. I never will cease to marvel at your ambition and abilities.
The days now are filled with plenty of activity. French, of course is the main project. I’ll let you know every move, so just be patient – just wait a little longer and then ! ! ! ! ! Love….Hector
On the 27th November, a very excited Hector writes to his future mother in law and sister:
“Dearest Mother & Marcellyn,
Received your letter and read it avidly.
But I got another this morning written in Leopoldville Nov 14:
“Going from Matadi 17th or thereabouts – NY early Dec…see you in about 4 weeks D.V….let my family know I’m coming, really this time. Can’t write much now…I packed last night after the news came, but I will be helping the Westcott’s today. After I see that they are with some of their relatives (in Am.), I will be free – FREE from my long 3 yr. ‘case’. There are a few places I want to stop while I am east, but I want mostly to talk to YOU. I hope I can see you soon. It’s been a long wait…most of the grey hairs that you will see have made their appearance during this wait…Francis Longley went to Point Noir – to try & get home the French Airway. The Faulkner’s are still here waiting… Ione
What an answer to prayer! I’ll be going to N.Y. Dec. 1 & will surely find out the day & hour. But then, too, I must try to get reservations to go back to Africa on the same boat. I think it stays in port about a week. Is that long enough? Remember how fast we worked at Charlevoix!
($5 tithe money) XX In Him, Hector.”
The next day, 28th November 1944, he writes:
“Dear Florence & family:
The picture arrived last Friday and I will treasure it. I’d like to write you at length but good news must be short.
Ione wrote from Leopoldville Nov 14/’44 saying she was leaving in a few days on a boat for New York; hoping to arrive the first part of December. It’s a direct line, the same one she went out on 3 years ago. She surely is all excited. She hasn’t heard a word from America since June.
I’ll be going in to New York Dec 1/’44 for the sole purpose of making reservations on the same boat when it returns to Africa. It usually docks for about a week. There were no spare berths last time I tried but some may be cancelled at the last moment. It would be a strange coincidence if I could go but the Lord will make no mistakes. It will be strange to see Ione again after all her experiences. The Burks who are here at the headquarters are putting up with me in all my planning. I told them that they would have to fix their alarm so that it wouldn’t waken Ione across the hall. But they said that after hearing a lion roar outside her house, an alarm shouldn’t be very disturbing. They are very comical yet understanding.
Well, dear – more later. Lovingly in Christ, Hector”
On the 19th December 1944, having at long last met Ione again, Hector again writes to his sister:
Dear Sister Florence & family:
Thanks for the lovely letter you sent Ione.
It was grand meeting her in New York; and every day has been getting better. You must have been much in prayer because everything worked out well.
The Westcott children, who have been Ione’s charge for the past three years, are very lively. I enjoyed getting to know them for a few days.
We are together at Mission Headquarters now. Maybe Ione will be soon going down to visit her mother in Tenn., and coming back later. If I go on the first boat, I have only about two weeks left.
Glad to hear how the children are enjoying the snow.
Your Bro in Christ, Hector
Ione writes a P.S.: Dear Sister-to-be, Thanks for your letter of welcome. I am looking forward to the time when we shall meet. Merry Christmas to you all, Love, Ione.”
Hector writes to Ione, who is now in Cleveland, Tennessee on 21st December from Philadelphia:
“My blue-eyed Darling:
Greetings in His dear name! !
“His mercies are new every morning.”
Thus I was able to endure these lonely hours. But John is glad now, since I made his box this morning. It brought me down to earth again at least I hear my feet walking on the basement floor.
And how did you pass the night? I imagine that little porter looked after you alright. (I think I’ll get a job like that) [But maybe I’d come along; wake you up & ask you if you were enjoying your sleep.]
When can I see you in your new hat? Perfectly astounding! And then you expect me to be meekly conservative!!
Things I have thought about…1. Ione, 2. Ione…..the way you lift your eyes so slowly after I kiss you; your warm hand clasped in mine, in John’s pocket; your little ripples; your merry laugh; the way you read the morning portion in “Daily Light” for May 12; your healthy appetite. Your shape and sighs; the way we walk in step; walking up stairs in the dark; helping you put on your coat; and lastly, how irresistible you are – God’s precious gift to me.
The folks today were talking about the way you acted in the gift shower. Emily said that you thanked each one so nicely.
The Burks are down shopping today, so we’re not home for dinner. I’ve hardly visited them at all this past week.
Just about one week ago now I embraced you (I’ve lost track of the number since).
Let me know how you prosper. I will cherish any news from you altho’ these memories provide a fabulous feast. Yours. Hector X (sending it post-paid.)
Ione writes to Hector on 22nd December from Chattanooga instead of Cleveland and the reason is explained in the letter:
Rather a funny time and place but I tho’t I’d send a note anyway.
I arrived in Bristol at the scheduled time (12:25 – Thurs.) and was met by my friends. They took me to their home and I had a nice dinner, after which we went shopping. She helped me choose a pretty taffeta dress and hat and a flower for my hair and then insisted on putting it on their account. That evening I went to a choir banquet and had a nice time. It brought back memories of evangelistic meetings and children’s in that church. We talked until after midnight and slept until 9 A.M. We sang and played the piano during the morning, had dinner and went shopping again. This time I bought some brown shoes, and a dress, but while I was trying the dress on, a dear Christian friend came in and when she shook hands she left the price of the dress in my hand! The shop girl didn’t know how much the check was for, but she was greatly impressed. When I talked to her a little bit about our work she decided I should have a 20% reduction on the price. And strangely enough, the final cost was exactly what the check paid, so I just endorsed it and passed it over! The Lord seems to approve of ladies going shopping doesn’t He?
Now to tell you why I’m here. I left Bristol last night at 7:30, the train being 1-1/2 hrs. late. I got a seat, but was too comfortable, and slept past my station. I woke up near Chattanooga, got off here and the conductor apologized and so did I and he gave me a permission slip to ride back to Cleveland at 4 A.M. If you had been along I’m sure I would have done better! I called Mother and she was worried but relieved when I told her all about it. I can’t get information about returning to Phila. until 8:30 A.M. but will try immediately then to reserve a place for 26th or soon after.
I surely miss my lover just now. In Christ, Ione”