Renewing Relationships, Respite and Relaxation (1945)
Ione is staying at Sudan Interior Mission Home (SIM) based in New York so as to be near Hector up to his date of departure for the Congo. She writes on the 8th January to his sister Florence:
Your letter to Hector reached him today, and I remembered that in our busy whirl of events I had not really said Hello to you. I did appreciate so much your greeting when I arrived. I can’t tell what a happy feeling it gives me to think that I have some new sisters-to-be.
I hope to go thru Montreal on my way to the farm at Avonmore and we can really get acquainted then. I will be stopping overnight, probably with Irene if she has a nail for me to hang upon. Maybe you two can find a good spot to park me for one night! But please don’t give yourself trouble on my account. “I shall count it a privilege to be like one of the family.”
I imagine I’ll be coming around Feb. 1st, tho’ there may be some alteration in plans.
Greet Eleanor when you see her and tell her I am anxious to meet her.
Hector’s boat is postponed a few more days and we are taking advantage of the time. He is far nicer than I had remembered him to be. I wonder if his sisters have taught him how to be so nice. Whatever part you have had, I thank you for. I’m sure we are going to have some happy years together.
Hoping to see you soon. With love in Christ, Ione
P.S. My address in Pontiac will be: c/o Miss Inez Slater, 388 Mt. Clemens St., Pontiac, Michigan.
The next day, 9th January, Ione writes to her mother and sister who are currently in Charlevoix:
Dearest Mother & Marcellyn,
I guess you know why I am here – waiting for Hector to leave. The time has been postponed several times but I think it will be soon. I tho’t I’d be on my way to Pontiac by now, but maybe I’ll get there by next Sunday.
I had a wire from Agnes asking if I could be at a meeting there the 24th & 26th & I said I would. I expect to be around Michigan until Feb 1st or whenever I can see Doris & then go to Hector’s farm for one month’s rest. I’ll not take any deputation work until March. And I want the entire summer for summer school. Am thinking seriously of Dr. Herman’s suggestion of Northwestern University at Chicago.
About your finances: here’s my suggestion, unless you have a better – tell the acc’t dep’t there that I have $150 in the bank in Pontiac which I will have drawn out & sent in bank draft as soon as I arrive in Pontiac, perhaps the 13th or 15th. Perhaps they will let you take your exams with that promise. Then, when I receive two month’s back salaries from the Pontiac Church at that time, I can send you $60, for travel & the bill of $10 to Mr E., or possibly $90 if you still owe Mrs Brock $40. Please tell me about any other obligations down there for I will have enough to take care of things now whereas I might not later. You have done so much for me to help me to get my training and I feel this will in a small way repay you for helping me.
Hope you are both well & “studied up” for exams. You must be very tired. Keep looking up. I’ll be praying for you.
Despite being in New York together and seeing each other, Hector still manages to write to Ione on 11th January saying:
Beloved: – Equally disposed to love & be loved.
I thank God upon every remembrance of you! The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad!
I love you!
When God made the worlds – He set the bounds of their habitation. He knew their orbits and circuits. When He made my little universe, it hath verily pleased Him to give me a lover to be a hub of an enlarging circumference. Your coming into my life has enlarged my desires, quicked my affections, broadened my outlook, clarified my uplook, deepened my responsibilities, strengthened my hopes for the future, satisfied my ambitions, rewarded me for past patience, comforted me after my mother’s death, filled that place in my life divinely designed for you.
Well, “Honey”. I shall hold you continually in the arms of prayer.
Just opened to this verse – In nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death. Phil. 1:20 Your lover, Hector…
(45 minutes later…)
Just listen to this: Song of Solomon 2:14….”in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely.” You certainly kept me interested for those few weeks. Never mind honey you will be just as much according to the Lord’s specifications at 45 as you are now – even after an investigation conducted confidentially. Your name is enough to make my heart happy helped on of course as I associate you & your department & various compartments – or maybe apartments.
Enjoyed you so much – the ear is not filled with hearing nor the eye with seeing nor the heart with loving. Just give me a chance dearie – the way of a man with a maid is as wonderful as the way of this ship in the midst of the sea.
The Lord has given me my heart’s desire. Yours. – Hector…
On the 12th January 1945 both the Pudneys writes to Hector and Ione, Mrs Pudney writes:
My dear Ione and Hector,
The check for the Mission is posted with this letter, or at the same time, rather. So you will know that the expenses have been received.
I am glad that you have had such a blessed time together both, for a few days here and then in New York. It is such a big and important step when you give yourselves to each other for life. These days have helped you to know each other more intimately and given you a taste of the days to come.
The Lord will strengthen for the parting, Ione will be so busy visiting and thinking over the past, present and future! A trousseau is a formidable undertaking and an interesting one, and to think that it is to be such a short furlough!
Hector will live in a dreamland of memories on that voyage and have endless ‘peeps’ at THE RING! (this time it is the wedding ring) I had a game of anagrams to bring and forgot them, maybe you still have time to buy one. Ione’s party found it such a help in getting acquainted with the folks. Others seemed to enjoy playing with them. If you can get one, or Lexicon, I will give Ione the money for it when she returns.
We were happy to see Ella and Frances. Frances had ‘laffed and laffed’ as we have reminisced. She is a great girl and I ‘spects we have only just started to get re-acquainted!
May the Lord bless and keep you both in His great love.
With love in our blessed Lord Jesus, Lilian G. Pudney – Ma Pudu
And Mr Pudney writes:
Dear Hector and Ione,
We are today sending the check to the S.I.M. as per our promise. The purchase of Ione’s ticket to Detroit has caused a little difficulty, since we did not return with a signed clergy coupon. We have finally managed, however, to get them to hold it over until ten o’clock Saturday night. The berth is Upper 8 on Car 692 leaving North Philadelphia Station 6:08 P.M. Monday, January 15th. If you do not have sufficient money to buy this ticket, which will be $17 or $18, please phone me on reaching 30th St. Station and I will come down with the necessary money at once.
This, I trust, Hector, will really be farewell and that you will at last get away. Once again we would say the Lord go with you, bless you, and make you a blessing every step of the way. Remember me to Mr Coxhill and other friends whom you will meet enroute. We will send an airmail telling the Union Mission House you are coming. We do trust you have been successful in tracing the books today.
With love in the Lord. Very sincerely yours, E.J. Pudney, Gen. Sec.
Hector sails for Africa on the 14th January 1945. There are few details of the last days spent together recorded in letters at this time and being together, there was perhaps little need to write each other. However, details emerge later when Hector writes to Ione from the ship.
The MacMillan clan are eager to meet and get to know Ione; Jean writes on 16th January:
We are wondering if Hector is on the briny deep yet. I know that it will be a happy journey to his work but I just am sure that he will be awfully sea-sick.
It was good to receive your letter saying that you will come to us to take your place in your “work”. Let me tell you Ione, there is a spacious room for you and be assured that we are just waiting for you to come. The sooner you can come too, Ione, the better for us and if you can make it in January, we’ll be happy. We do want you, and need you, too. Dad and Archie too feel that if you were here all would be well.
So do come as soon as you can. Lovingly, Jean
After Hector sails, Ione moves to stay with her friend Inez Slater on the 19th January; she was delayed a few days as she went down with a bout of malaria and had to cancel her transport reservation, as she explains on 22nd January in a letter to another friend Evie:
Well, after many delays Hector finally got off on the 14th. Then I went to Phila. to pick up my things and come on here. But as luck would have it, I got an attack of malaria fever, and didn’t get here until last Friday, the 19th, the date I had hoped to be with you. Well, now plans must be altered. I must stay here for some meetings and a promised time with the Missionary Society on the 26th, next Friday.
Then I learned that Maurice Peterson was in Lansing and called him and he is coming here in a day or so and can take me to Charlevoix after the meeting on Friday. So I expect to go to Lucille’s first and stay with her about a week, come back here for something special on the 4th and 5th of Feb. and THEN can see my dear Evie. I have your picture before me on the dresser, but I’d like a little flesh and bones, too, for a change! What are your plans between the 7th and the 12th? If it is a bad time, I can change it, you know. And it may be that Doris will be coming along about that time from California, and having no home I will need to entertain her at Muskegon too. She will just stop a couple of days on her way to Boston, and I think she will have a new husband with her (if they are married by then). But she may not get there until after the 12th, in such a case I will be with relatives in G.R. and Belding. I hope to see Tee around the 18th after I visit the relatives.
I will save the news until I see you. There isn’t much that you don’t know. Mother might come up from Tenn. but I’m not sure. I believe Marcellyn will stay on at the College there.
I hope your Mother is well. I’ll be glad to see all the new babies and the friends at the Church. With loads of love, XXX Ione
On the 25th January 1945, Ione writes to her mother, mindful that she has not given her much time whilst making the most of Hector’s last few days in the States: she puts it thus:
“I guess you tho’t I had faded out of the picture by now! Well, I did get a little pale”
And admits she forgot to take her quinine medication which resulted in the short malaria attack.
Ione does not have time to dwell on Hector’s departure, there are so many things to do and people to see as she explains:
“It has taken me until now to get my money matters straightened up, and now I find I can send the money to pay the rent there and come up to Lucille’s. I am leaving tomorrow night after the Women’s Missionary Society Meeting here, and will arrive in Charlevoix Saturday afternoon. If you get this letter, and are not planning to stay down there for this semester, why don’t you come up right away. I can only stay at Lucille’s until the end of the week, for I must be back here by Sun., the 4th. My being sick prevented my seeing Evie or the Belding and GR folks yet either. And now I have a new set of plans. You remember I wanted to get some teacher’s training and was thinking of going to Northwestern in the summer. Well, yesterday I talked to Mr French the Superintendent of Schools here and I can get the actual experience in teaching children to read and write if I will stay here and fill in a vacancy in the 1st or 2nd grade. I am really not qualified because I have no certificate, but they are pretty hard-pressed for teachers now. In this way I could get what I wanted now and when school is out in June, I’ll go to Canada and visit around, and have a real rest. I may be able to get French while I am here, too. I don’t know what a substitute teacher’s salary is, but I think it will be pretty good
I have wondered whether you left the apartment on the 20th. I presume you are still there. If you feel you should stay on and that is the Lord’s will it is all right with me. But there are some things that Maurice sort of wanted to have a conference with us about. He stopped here Monday on his way from Lansing where he had a candidate for a church at Valley Farms and he said that if he gets a call to go there he could not keep some of our things for the new parsonage is only 6 rooms. I tho’t if you were there we could talk over the future plans and pray definitely that the Lord will guide you for your next step.
I have an idea that I will be back here when Doris comes, for the way her letter sounded it would be around Feb. 10th by the time Bill would go to Boston. I could not get whether she would be married there or not, but I wrote and asked her to let us help her have a nice wedding over here in Michigan.
Now, don’t be concerned about me. I’m taking my quinine regularly now. I had forgotten to take it to N.Y. and that’s why the fever. But it’s all over now. I lost a few pounds, but Inez is feeding me up. She is very good to me.
See you soon, I hope. Lovingly in Him, XXXX Ione”
Ione also writes to Marcellyn trying to establish what her plans are, and whether she can accompany mother on a trip to meet. It is evident money is short but Ione is confident that she can help with expenses. It is evident Ione’s mind is very busy as she hops from one topic to the next:
So many of the kids at the church asked about you. I told them I tho’t you would be there this semester. It seems all I do is greet people and answer the phone. I went to high school and spent half of the two consecutive days going around to the classrooms, greeting old teachers and speaking to their classes, Miss Gaylord, Miss Lighterniess, Miss Helen Wilson, and several of Inez’s classes. I spoke at Highway Heralds there and at Lincoln Jr. High. All the little kids are in high school now and it seems so strange. But they treated me fine.
I surely miss Hector. We really got to know one another in N.Y. I stayed at the SIM Home and the folk there were just grand. I have an invitation to New England Keswick. June Savage’s aunt was there and she was very nice to me. I like Hector better than I ever tho’t I could. I know we’re going to have some grand times next fall. We bought the wedding rings and had them engraved; I have the one I shall give to him, and he took mine with him. They are identical and it will be fun getting together again. We had some pictures taken, too, which will sort of serve as wedding pictures. We visited the Canadian and Belgian Consulates to get necessary papers to be married as soon as I arrive. At Phila., they told me definitely I could go by plane in six months. Pray that nothing will hinder.
Now when did you last hear from Kent? I am anxious to meet him. I will have to see him in June I guess, if I am tied down teaching here now. I’ll go to Canada then, too, I think.
Please write and tell me what you want me to pray about.
On 1st February 1945, Hector writes to Ione from the ship. The ship is the one that brought Ione back from Africa and the Captain remembers Ione. Unlike Ione’s letters, there are few details of the voyage, apart from Hector’s seasickness but he does describe their parting in New York very poignantly:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.”
This is just as true today as it was two weeks ago. The passing of time just gives a better understanding.
Where do you want me to start, dearie? Oh, yes, on the platform at the Penn Station after I last saw you through the window. Very fortunately, I knew my way back to the subway, because I would have been ashamed to ask anyone, with tears in my eyes. I had scarcely turned away from you when a surge of sorrow strained at my heart. Leaving the one who has meant more to me in three short weeks than anyone else…..on the escalator, in the subway, and later in the news reel I felt the loneliness that I had not anticipated. I tried to picture what you were doing; probably telling that girl about it all, explaining as best you could about our casual parting. I think we rather surprised each other that we held to our contract. How brave you are; I think they call it stamina! Of course you can consider those you found in your housecoat pockets as having been given before. (it is unclear what Hector is referring to here – maybe pictures or notes) The ones in the letters awaiting you and from now on, are the beginning of a new, and I hope short, regime.
I almost forgot to tell you that I have been seasick all week. I had two full meals at the dining table; dinner or rather lunch today and lunch a week ago. Besides that I have paid them four trial visits of about five minutes duration. The rest of my meals have been brought to my bedside. By now you have a distorted picture of a poor, languishing mortal. But no, I’m quite normal out on deck; sitting walking, talking, and reading. But the dining room up until today has been out of bounds to my anatomy. As I was telling one of the men yesterday, my sense of equilibrium isn’t pivoted like an owl’s head. But a balance or compromise seems to have been reached at last. One of the girls was accusing me of being more than seasick; but then I don’t want to be cured of that until I see you again.
Two days after.
Do you know what I did the other day when my fruit was brought in? I dropped a grape down between the apple and orange. Do I hear you say, “Hector!” real short like that, or is it the echo of my own voice.
Here I am flat on my back again with the typewriter propped up in front of me. I have your big picture hung under the window; just your peaceful, patient self. The snaps are right handy in my breast pocket. The sensible one of you on the chesterfield, on closer observation revealed a nice ripple. I suppose I have thought of a hundred things, places, and incidents while lying here so much of the time. I hear you say, “You’re so curious!”…”I just knew you were going to ask that”. “You certainly never miss an opportunity.” And then you remember how you used to sit there when I thought someone was coming along the hall; helpless, though I professed to be a derrick. What a rascal you were! ! ! But yet you had a few soft spots. If I were not so shy I would say more.
I’m going out for a walk now and when I return I will tell you how I introduced myself to the captain.
He was not at the table the first meal, and I was not there for a long time after. But about the third night I went upstairs for coffee and happened to be sitting beside him. I quietly took out my snaps and handed him the one of you on the chesterfield and asked him if he know who it was. He looked at it for a short moment and then with a smile looked up and said, “Miss Reed?” That opened up quite a conversation and I found out what he thought about you. He couldn’t understand how you could be so patient; and work such long hours. I told him what you told me about considering the situation if the children were your own. He has the greatest admiration for you. Another time at the table I asked him how he picked out the passengers for the return voyage. He told how they start at the top of the list and take the names as they come except that the other captain refuses to take children. But he breaks the rule because he likes them and has a little kindergarten on board.
One of the nurses on board thinks she knows you. She is Ruth Holland who went to Wheaton 36-38; then left to take up training and came back and graduated in ’42. Besides she is one of the first graduates of the children’s school in Orlando, Fla. Her parents are missionaries in Usambura. I will tell you more of the other passengers next time.
Do you know that I have had a lot of comfort out of the guitar. It seems to have a soothing effect. I’ve played most of the hymns in that little pocket hymnal. It’s great to have those like, “How Firm a Foundation”; “Oh Safe to the Rock”; “Standing on the Promises”. But then I come to part of the chorus where it says, …”Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll”, and I think that the one who wrote that must have been standing on the shore. At least he wasn’t seasick!! Then too I have finished two of those books on masonry and that talked a lot about stones, bricks, walls, footings and foundations. One would think that I soon should be established. But I’m happy. Plenty of time for Bible reading and prayer. How well I remember the precious sessions we had together. We seem to have gotten so much packed into those three weeks. It was all so wonderful and timely. Truly, Ione, these days have given me time to think and with all my thinking I cannot find anything wrong with you. Not to make you proud, because you are what you are. And most of all that you trust me. Things seem all different now. You’re just a nice big armful of love ! ! ! ! ! !
Goodbye for now, honey. Yours; past, present and future, Hector”
The January – February edition of Light and Life (the UFM’s magazine) included the following:
Rev. Hector McMillan has already sailed for the Belgian Congo. We take this opportunity to congratulate him and Miss Ione Reed on their official engagement. After a few months Miss Reed expects to return to the field where they will be united in marriage.
Rev. and Mrs Chester Burk expect to sail in a few days. Conditions make it impossible for them to travel by the same route as Mr McMillan. Pray these young people arrive to the place of God’s calling for them. (Ed. Burks have sailed).
Hector arrives in Matadi on 2nd February and travels on to Leopoldville (Kinshasa) on the 6th, where he arranges for a plane to take him up to Kisangani on the 12th. He writes to Ione:
My own Beloved:
I was just reading a few verses before lunch and one in particular seems to apply. Acts 7:3….”Get the out of thy country, and thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee”. The only difference is that Abraham had Sarah with him. But I have the promise which is almost as good.
I’m wondering where you are just now. I have been trying to think of complications that might have arisen to change your schedule somewhat, but I know the Lord will continue to arrange all things as he has done for us in the past years.
This is the 22nd letter I have written since we left Dakar. You will very likely read some of them as you travel around, but most importantly, I am sending regular mail, in fact all except the one home and to (page is torn here). I suppose by now as you are reading along you are thinking, “Well, honey, when is he going to start telling me how much he loves me”? Well, honey, right now.
The other evening just before I turned out the light above my little bed (number “12”) I was gazing at your picture and said to myself, “Isn’t she lovely. I suppose I would have been content with someone far inferior had not the Lord intervened. What a wonderful choice He has made for me!! ! !” Dearie, I want to continue always to love you for everything you are and have. The fact that you have been made a partaker of a divine nature is the first thing that stirs my heart. Separation from the fountain only means pollution. The next thing is your devotion to the Lord’s will. I would have never imagined a girl like you with several careers at your feet, being so concerned with final issues. It throws upon the screen of my vision your deep, well laid foundation of spiritual discernment, which is only manifest in times of testing. It gives me greater confidence in you to know that the Lord has taken you through many critical situations. How well I remember you telling me that you were afraid you would make the wrong choice of a life mate and so be perfectly miserable. I think we can call that having the fear of God before our eyes. This has involved much waiting and many lonely hours. Now that I know how much you love to be loved, I can understand why you said you longed for it in Africa. And then I love you because you trust me. I would not have missed that from your lips for anything. I know of very few statements that have had such influence upon my heart. And you showed it in so many little ways.
Now I can come to the next point; what you have. I guess that part of you just “growed”. I imagine right now you’re saying, “Hector!!!” Have you figured out any way of keeping me in my place? But then green pastures are so inviting. And I didn’t find a cross dog at the gate so gradually entered and went to browsing. Luscious is the word!! ! Never before and not for another six months. Don’t keep me waiting longer than that. If perchance you have not understood the foregoing statements be persuaded of this that you satisfy me, over and above my expectations.
I wrote Lucille last night and told her about our meeting at pier 38. Especially interesting was the way the wording turned out in regard to mother’s wish. Usually I just start the sentence and then figure out some way to get through. Well, this one was a surprise. I said, “That mother requested that I kiss Ione on her behalf…”And then to make matters more obvious I had to put on brackets, (if you know where that is). So that’s another one now besides, “Kissing you on the pier”… I almost forgot the escalator.
So many little chats come back to me now. For instance at the table in the SIM you so quietly said, “I don’t know how you can look so innocent and be doing such mischievous things”. And remember the time on 22nd Street when we went looking for a stairway at the end of the platform, and lo, three people were following us. I think Smith must have had them hired. As much as to say that he didn’t see enough for himself. Well, it is all a very happy series of exciting times. Most of the times on the subway platforms I didn’t know whether I was coming or going; but of course I preferred to be coming. I hope you haven’t told too many people or I’ll be up for another candidate period! ! ! ! I don’t think anyone would tell on us; but “’’’’then, you never do know, somebody might”””. Be sure and have Kent Wray go through that for you.
I have just been going through that scribbler or note book that you made out for me. I’m not sure how long I will have at Leo. (Kinshasa) but will surely try to get around.
That little set of tools have come in very handy. I have fixed two typewriters and two clocks already. I am able to schedule my time now that I am not bothered with seasickness. My trouble now is eating too much. I still read quite a lot and of course these letters have kept me gainfully employed. And I mustn’t forget the washing and ironing.
A little incident might interest you. At the table one day one of the girls regretted that she had no starch, so I loaned her my box. Several days later they were talking to the captain up on the second deck and I asked Miss Holland on the side if I could use the starch again. When she came back I told the captain that you had sent it along with me. He suggested that I was becoming too dependent, and so I agreed and said I could hardly live without you. “Vell”, he replied, “You have a wonderful girl; she had to look after the children and keep them happy, do all the washing and ironing and yet was always so pleasant and never tired. Tired, yes, but didn’t show it.” I assured him that I was going to treat you royally and spoil you for the first ten years. I didn’t mention any thing about the six children. (6 children!!!)
The two girls are receiving quite a lot of attention from various sources and I would imagine it will be bad for them later on. Of course, they’re young and single and American. The captain tries to keep track of them, but that is mainly so he can tease them at the table.
My cabin-mate left me at Dakar. He is planning on taking the plane from there. We had quite a few serious talks; but he is very business-minded. He used to say, “Talk to me but don’t use the Bible,” and of course before too long I would find myself quoting some scripture. One night while we were docked in Dakar, we talked for almost two hours up in the top coffee room. There were the two girls, two business men, the captain and myself. The men just could not understand why it was necessary that God should put His Son through such agony. The questions were very open and I believe everyone profited by it. Miss Holland gave quite a lot of her testimony and call to the field.
The guitar seems still to come in for a lot of use. I have developed a new system of fingering, which lends some variety. I hope it doesn’t warp too much with the dampness.
There are a few verses that I want to put on before I close. Recently when I have been praying for you I have looked them up and used them. “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; and that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ Jesus, unto the glory and praise of God.” I’m sure that included everything and I know the Lord will answer abundantly.
Once again let me say that I love you with all my heart ! ! ! ! Yours only, X X Hector..
On the 7th February 1945, Ione writes to the Westcott’s from Pontiac where she is staying with her friend Inez:
Dear Doctor and Ellen and A B C:
It has been several weeks since I talked to you over the telephone and I have been wondering what you are doing, what your plans are, etc. I believe you said that Ellen was in the hospital. Is she still there, or has she come home? Do the children like school? What subjects especially?
Dorothy Eastham has charge of the department in Sunday school here that was interested in Anne and she asked me to try to arrange for Anne to come over and greet the children. I think the church is planning a reception for you all and me when Savages return and it would be nice if Anne could see them then. If she would rather not say much to them, I’ll go with her and we can do it together. I’ve told them here as much as I can think of about the children, but they are keen to see them and Ellen, Honestly, this is the busiest place I’ve struck yet. People all have several jobs. Inez Slater drives trucks to the coast beside teaching school.
I spent a week with Lucille and Maurice at Charlevoix and we had a grand time. Esther, Lawrence and Ruthie are quite like your three and they ask so many questions about them. I visited Esther in school and spoke to the fifth and sixth grades in geography class. I spoke here at high school in three of four rooms. The teachers are all so interested in Africa. I have talked several times with the Sup’t of Schools and he has put me on the substitute teacher’s list, so I expect to be called at any time now beginning Monday. I will substitute in any grade. I think I have more nerve than good sense, but Inez thinks I’ll get more out of this than some Normal School work. What do you think? There is an extension course starting here now from Ypsi in Child Psychology and I can get into that. And I also want to come down to Ypsi and visit the practice teaching classes. I talked to a recent graduate Monday and she said they allow anyone in. If I come down will I find you at 15 Summit? This teaching job pays $8 a day, and everyone who has taken this substitute work has been kept busy nearly all the time.
Started making arrangements for a Singer Sewing Machine Course. It costs $10 and takes 8 weeks of 2-hour lessons. They meet evenings and I can get into a 6-scholar class in March. But I haven’t been able to make arrangements about French yet. Miss Avery is not teaching just now and I don’t know who else to get in touch with. There is nothing in evening school here.
What do you think about my taking back a gun? Someone wants to give me a rifle* and a side-arm, I guess that’s a pistol. Would it be a help, do you think, or a bother, and what permits do I have to have**? I think it’s a 30-30***. What equipment should I take back in the line of general school supplies****?
(In the margins of the letter are notes made by Ione of the Doctor’s views on the guns and responses to her questions: *OK, **none. Only have guns in cabin baggage readily accessible on entering at Boma. ***A 22 is good for small game, inexpensive of ammunition, light to carry & lots of fun. You’d seldom use a 30-30 but a 22 would be handy. A repeater is OK, better than an automatic. ****Figure out when you take practice teaching.)
Doris will be married to some fellow named Bill and come here next week on her way to Boston where he will be with the Marines. I don’t know anything about him, but will meet him soon. She is 20 now, rather young to have been married twice!
How did you find your Mother and Father in Ypsi? And Florence? Have you seen the sister in Detroit yet? If I have her address I could see her sometime. With much love, Ione
On the same day, she writes to Mother and Marcellyn:
“And ye shall be a blessing; fear not, but let your hands be strong.”
It was good to hear your voice on the telephone. It was Lucille’s idea and we couldn’t resist calling you. Glad you had had such a happy day. You may look for a little remembrance soon from Inez and me to the two sweethearts at school. Inez suggested it and was sending a box to Dotty and I’ll be here to do the cooking part of it so I’ll feel I’m doing my part in sending it to you, too.
I have enjoyed my stay here; most of the days I have rested and done little things that I have been wanting to do. I have spoken a number of times at Highway Heralds and in the high school classrooms during the day. And the big Missionary Day meeting was a success. I had real freedom and there was a large crowd. Even Mrs Hawley got out and she has not been out for years. She got a taxi cab and came over. I had spent an afternoon with her that week and she was so pleased. So many people mentioned you that afternoon. They wished that you had been there. The same night after I spoke there I left for Lucille’s and spent a week with her. We had such a nice time and the children were so lovable and well-behaved. Esther was a real pal to me. They took turns sleeping with me. I visited a play that Esther was in and the teacher had me speak to the fifth grade and use Tony the Monkey. The next day I had an appointment to have the geography class in 5th and 6th grades and there was a write-up in the paper!
I spoke at Eastport and in the evening service. Maurice and Lucille and I sang together. We just had a grand time. The meals were nice and I enjoyed washing dishes on the frame that Hector had made. Lucille & Maurice had been having some rather trying times and were really suffering physically from nerves. And when Maurice went down to Lansing to try out it was such a blessing to him and he had a nice time. Then the night before I left there they received a telephone call that the church had called them and they were to go Mar. 1st. They were simply overjoyed and it gave them a real boost in every way. I was so happy for them. I spoke at a missionary meeting they held at Lucille’s and we had lots of fun. The ladies got real chummy and seemed to enjoy it. It seems the trouble-makers were not present that day.
Lucille will probably be asking you what to do with your things because they can’t keep them in the house where they are going. I went thru the things that I tho’t were mine, took the stuff out of the desk and the towels from the chiffonier and was it allright that I took all the old grade school books that we children used? I can surely use them out in Africa. But if for any reason Marcellyn would like them or some of them, I have them here at Inez’s house. I needed my old black overnight bag (I believe it was my high school graduation present) and moved the things that were in it into a box that already had some things of yours. Maurice & Lucille gave me some things that will be nice for Africa; the old gas waffle iron, an aluminium roaster and frying pans, one is especially for trekking, a lamp shade and two nice fat feather pillows. I have my trunk at the Church here and when I get it cleaned out I’ll start putting things in it. I want to get some double sheets but they are pretty hard to get. You don’t have any extras, do you?
I’m glad the money helped you. The church paid me the salaries that had accumulated while I was on the way, so that’s how I did it. I went down to Waite’s last week and found that there was only $10 remaining on your bill? Did you send the rest, or do you think it was a mistake? It had been put into the hand of the Credit Bureau. I paid $5 at Huntoons and there is a balance of $171. What other bills are here? I hate to be around people when I owe them money. I have the savings account you know, but would like to leave it as is except for a big emergency. I told Mr Huntoon I would try to help on that while I was home.
Well, I am on the substitute teacher’s list and will be on call beginning Feb. 12, next Monday. I may be called to any grade school. It will not be as hard as a regular job for there were to be free days and I will not have the preparations to make as for a regular class, only just maintain the work while the regular teacher is away. Perhaps this will be better than taking just the 1st grade as I had tho’t, for I’ll get to know about all grades. I want to get hold of their curriculum, courses of study and methods. And there is a Child Psychology extension course offered here beginning soon from the Ypsi Normal that I’ll try to get in on. I’ll be pretty much tied down to Pontiac for the next few months and will have to visit Evie and the Belding folk on a week-end. I talked to Aunt Katie and Mrs Lowes on the telephone when I passed thru GR. In June I’m going to take a real vacation. Audrey Brady invited me to Clarkston too for Feb. 25th, but I guess I’ll have to go alone! I expect to spend about a month in Canada this summer. By July I’ll need to start working on the business of returning. I hope you can be with me when school is out. What are your plans for May?
Last night I think dozens of people must have said, “Oh, if Leone were only here!” The Loyal’s had the grandest banquet for me. There were over 90 in the basement and Miss Stockton and Miss Gould were there as well as Mrs Ewing. It was decorated for Valentine’s Day and looked lovely. Mrs Lefurge did very well. I had just received some pictures of Hector and me that we’d taken in N.Y. and along with the big pictures like I’m sending you soon there were 100 stamps which are just like the large ones and say Ione and Hector under. They are tiny but real cute and I put one in the spoon at each place at the table to announce the engagement of Hector and me. That tickled them all to pieces and they tho’t that was cute that we were spooning, etc. In my message I began with the poem I had sent you one Mother’s Day the one by Betty Stam, and told them they were first my Mother’s class, then mine and that I felt it would be good to read it there. We had some good laughs; Audrey had had her hair set especially for the occasion and I mentioned that, much to her embarrassment. Mrs Lefurge had a flower in her hair. And Mrs Flemington had such a tiny hat on that I tho’t it was a bow until she turned her head. They gave me $33 and two pounds of chocolate. I believe they want to support me next term.
Well, I guess I’ve given you the news. I had a letter from Hector written at sea. I don’t know how he managed to send it. It came thru an Army Base. He has been seasick for a week. He said he was singing with the guitar a good deal of the time and when he came to the words, “floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,” he felt that the song writer must have written that from the shore or was never seasick!
Write me soon and give me some news about classes, health, plans, etc. Lovingly in Him, Ione
Ione also writes to Hector on 7th February and starts with the same heading verse she uses on her mother’s letter.
What a surprise to have your letter written at sea. I just could hardly believe my eyes, for I tho’t surely I would not hear again for at least a month! Thanks so much for getting this to me. Sorry you have been seasick. I have written two letters to you, sending one to the Swedish Mission in Matadi, and one to the U.M.H., at Leo. Maybe you can trace them if you haven’t received them. This letter, to be on schedule, should not be written for a week yet, but I couldn’t wait the two weeks this time. And if you get an extra one now and then you won’t mind, will you?
I love you so much, Hector. No matter where I go, each new experience makes me love you more. When I see how marvellously the Lord has led us I am ashamed that I doubted that I would be all right. I had so many doubts when I was coming across the ocean. I was afraid that after all you and I were not meant for one another. I was afraid that when I got back to Pontiac with the old crowd you would seem different from them and they would feel strange toward you. But here I am, and altho’ you are not here, they are hearing plenty about you. And the more I talk, the keener I am for our anticipated marriage. And lonesome, -; I tho’t I was lonesome out in the Ituri Forest, but there was no comparison to here. In the midst of all the howdies and handshakes and good eats I am truly lonesome. And I know it’s for you, because it is a relief to go to sleep when I can dream about you. Last night I dreamed you had come back, and I didn’t know whether to feel terrible or good, for I want you there, but it’s so lonely without you. If I could just talk over things with you and ask your advice it would be such a help. If I could just feel your arms around me and sigh and sigh it would be sooooo comfortable.
The pictures came Monday and really are nice. I want you to tell me some folk you wish to have one. I have sent one of the small ones to the Pudneys and to you. Then I tho’t we should send one to the sisters and the farm, my sisters and Mother. I believe I will need 20 more of that size. And I will send you some of the stamps (-sized ones) too. I’ll send for 200 more. Last night the class that supports me had a banquet reception, and I couldn’t resist putting a stamp in each spoon at the tables. There were over 90 there. I handed the envelope to the head waitress and she never gave it back so I guess they were all taken. And the one I had at my place someone came and asked me for. They surely went crazy over them! I never saw such a silly bunch of women. You see it was near Valentine’s Day and they were sentimental and finding the picture in a spoon makes one think of “spooning” or love-making and they had a lot of fun over it. They gave me $33 and two boxes of chocolates.
I had a lovely time at Lucille’s and the people in the church were nice to me, too. I went to visit Mrs Nordrum who was expecting a baby at any time. She gave me $10. They are very peculiar people, aren’t they? Very painfully frank. Poor Maurice has had to grow a thicker skin. But he soon will be in a new place. Mar. 1st they will go to Lansing and take the Valley Farms Baptist Church. The children took turns sleeping with me, and we had lots of fun. I put the girls’ hair up on curlers and gave them manicures and we romped and played and had a swell time. I hated to go for they are such a grand couple.
I came back to town on the 2nd and found your letter from the boat. And I also found that I was on the substitute teacher’s list and will be called beginning the 12th so will need to stay around here. They are so in need of teachers that I expect to be busy, tho’ not all of the time. I am glad it is not regular, for I can have free times to rest and study. I want to get French and an 8-week Singer Sewing Machine evening course and an extension course of Child Psychology from the Ypsi State Normal (correspondence). Then in June I’ll take a real vacation. I have written Jean that it appears I will not be able to come until then unless there is a long spring vacation.
I hope I am making the right plans. I prayed definitely that the Lord would direct me about this teaching. I really didn’t want to do it now, but it would be so much more expensive to go away to school and if it would give me the same training and same experience I feel I just can’t turn it down. I do want to be a better Congo teacher. I could have taken some nurse’s training, but I have tried to watch operations and help Doctor and up to a certain point I’m all right and then I ‘m a flop. I get all woozy and have to get out. I hope you can do a better job of it. And the teaching goes along so closely with the evangelist work that I’m trained for and love so. I think you will be glad that I made this choice. I’ve gotten some good pointers already from the high school English teacher. Everyone is so good to answer my questions. And I learned how to string beads nicely in the jewellery store the other day.
I have been doing some speaking and renewing old acquaintances. Churches around here that have sent gifts and letters are wanting me to come for an evening or a Sunday service, and I have given a short word in various places. Tomorrow night I’ll go to Clarkston and Friday to Brown City 1-1/2 hr’s journey. Sunday morning I’ll go to the Memorial Bapt. in town. Pray for these contacts that they may not be wasted. I want these people to learn how to be intercessory missionaries, and have deeper knowledge of what foreign missions mean. This church of mine is really ignorant of so much and they misjudge thru lack of knowledge. It’s so hard to get them to see thru my eyes. One needs so much tact and patience. I want them to know that I love them, but I’ve got to tell them the truth, too, and they have been misguided to a certain extent. They follow Dr. W. so closely and are critical of all others. Pray much for my stay here. It is restful, I am quiet and comfortable in this home, but I must be on guard for all kinds of questions. I would like to get away, but I believe that would hurt matters rather than help. If I can stick around and see it thru I think it will be as Helen Western said, “be the greatest factor in binding together the UFM and the church”. I don’t know how it can be done, but I pray that God will help me. But I don’t want the church here to feel that I want to run away from it.
I got in a good word for Pearl the other day. Poor girl, I don’t want the friends here to feel that she is the insubordinate little rascal that Dr. W. pictures her to be! She is independent, but I admire her spunk and I believe it will help her to carry on in difficult times. I believe her class still loves her and tho’ I haven’t talked to them yet, I think they are planning to send her some dispensary things. Give her my love and tell her I am trying to scatter the good seed in her behalf.
The folk here don’t say much about you except that they had wanted to support you but the mission refused. Funny they wouldn’t realize that you already have your support! But I think they’ve gotten adjusted to that now, and they are wondering where you will be sent. Of course it would be nice if we can go to Ekoko but the Field Council will know best about conditions when we are married. And if you learn Kingwana I shall learn Kingwana, too, I hope!
If you think of things that will be good equipment for the work write and tell me and I can apply some work funds in their behalf. Keep yourself well. I hope you can eat lots to make up for the lack of appetite you have had. Drink lots of water and don’t forget your quinine. I still have to take mine! If I don’t I get achy and feverish.
Someone accused us of holding hands in our picture. It does sort of look like it, doesn’t it? And they say your head is awfully close to mine. But why shouldn’t it be, and has it not been closer? I didn’t tell them that. But how I wish it were close right now? I MISS you, Hector. I just can’t live much longer without you! You are so good to me. You did so much for me while we were together. I haven’t forgotten the many little things as well as the big ones. Thank you so much. I love you. Yours in Him, Ione
Ione’s fourth letter on 7th February is to the Pudneys; it is a long letter and Ione shares a great deal with the friends she trusts so much. It is evident that the Westcott’s are known in her ‘home’ church and a great deal of tact and diplomacy are needed, the fragility of Ellen’ mental state is not disclosed. Ione writes:
Much has happened since I saw you last. Ever since the hurricane and then our arrival I seem to have been in a whirlwind. Those few days in bed were to the only real quiet times. And I am thankful for them and the kindly care I was given by you and the girls. Thank you so much for the lovely way that you provided for all of my needs. When I first came Stevenson’s were just grand and not only did everyone wait on both Hector and me for so many little needs, but they all made it possible for us to have the times alone that we had so long wanted. The evening in your sitting room was especially precious, the first day I came to Philadelphia. That’s when Hector gave me the ring, and wasn’t it nice that it just fit!
I almost regret the time in the south for it took me away from Hector but I realize now that it was the only time with Mother and Marcellyn I was to have until May at least, for they are staying there until the semester ends. It was hard having such a short time with him, but wasn’t the Lord gracious to give us THAT time? It could easily have turned out that we had passed on the water and not seen one another. But the Lord gave us that time to be more sure of each other and to learn many little things that will be precious to think about during the time of separation. It was nice of you to come to the station to meet me when I returned from the south. You are so cozy and lovable and interested in all of our joys and problems. And there are many problems that will not be easily solved. But since we had those times of understanding I feel that nothing is very difficult with friends like you knowing and praying about it. I don’t want to ever hurt or disappoint you. The Lord must surely have a way to straighten out the tangles, and I am praying that it may be soon. “And ye shall be a blessing; fear not, but let your hands by strong.”
The time in New York is now a happy memory. We had not counted on so many days there, but since circumstances permitted it, I am sure we enjoyed it to the fullest! The friends at S.I.M. were most kind and they all tho’t Hector was just grand. Mrs Evans was lovely to both of us and I was glad for the times she and I had together, downtown and sewing in the room. She is an unusual person. I liked her at the first because you liked her, Mrs Pudney, but now I have learned to love her for herself as well. I am wondering if she would like a picture of Hector and me. Taking for granted that you would, I am sending one under separate cover. I am enclosing this in the letter that I forgot to give back to you. Mr Pudney.
I stopped a few hours in Detroit and visited with Mr and Mrs Scott. We had a lovely time and her three children are most interesting. I expect to return later to their church for some services. When I arrived in Pontiac I came to this home where I have been staying ever since, except for the week I spent with my sister Lucille in Charlevoix. It was good to see my sister again. She and her husband, Maurice Peterson, have the 1st Bapt. Church there, But are taking the Valley Farms Baptist Church at Lansing, Michigan, beginning Mar. 1st. They would appreciate receiving “Light & Life” I am sure, or a deputation worker.
My younger sister Doris is coming this way in a week or so. She is marrying before coming and then will make her home in Boston while he is with the Marines. I do not know whether he is a Christian. She is only 20 and is being married for the second time! Pray for the time we shall be together.
Different ones at the church keep asking me questions and I am trying to answer to the best of my ability. (There are obviously tensions that Ione wishes to avoid as diplomatically as possible). I love U.F.M. and am confident in its ability and I also love my church and can desire only the unity which makes possible a successful ministry for the Lord. It is apparent that my class still wishes to support me. Last evening over 90 gathered at a banquet reception and they were most kind and appreciative of the work of the past three years. It is true that very few have a real conception of what we are really doing out there, almost no one knows the truth about Mrs Westcott’s condition and I shall not tell them unless they ask. (This is difficult for Ione as her audience must have preconceptions of her work in Africa and she cannot corroborate this.) Some sympathize with Pearl and criticize Doctor, but most of them feel he is right about everything. Pray that I may always speak the truth and yet do it in a tactful way that will not aggravate them. I love Pearl, too, and want her to be understood. Her class received the letter like the one you no doubt have. And they are planning to send her some things which will help in the dispensary. I think the least I can say the better conditions will be. God has a way to solve this problem and dissolve these criticisms I am sure.
No doubt the Burks and Hector will be a real help to the tired ones out there. I received a letter from Hector sent at sea. I’ve no idea how he sent it, but it came here on the 2nd. He had been seasick all week; had two full meals at the dining table during that time! He said he had been playing the guitar and singing a good deal and when he came to the part of the chorus, “Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea-billows roll,” he tho’t the one who wrote that must have been standing on the shore. At least he wasn’t sea sick! The letter was stamped “Army Base 200” and his return was Dakar, Fr. W. Africa. It was indeed a surprise and thrill to receive this letter.
Now I trust you are both well. No doubt you are very busy. I shall be anxious to hear about Verna and Mary Rutt. It was good seeing Frances and Ella again. Also the girls at the home, Hellen, Emily, Marion, Eva, Evelyn, and the Stevenson’s.
My plans are not too definite. It is quiet in this home thru the day as the lady, Miss Inez Slater, is a high school teacher. She has gone to the same type of school where I had planned to get my teaching training and experience and tells me that normal school is expensive and I can get the same training by going into the grade schools here and observing and getting actual teaching experience. I have talked to the Sup’t of Schools and he has me on the substitute teacher’s list. The work will not be steady nor hard, but it will prevent me from getting up to Canada when I had anticipated. I have written to Jean MacMillan saying that I may not be able to come until June unless there is a period of considerable length during the Easter vacation. I will not go to summer school then, but take a real holiday in Canada, also on a local lake here with friends, also at Maranatha on Lake Michigan. I am feeling fine and am gaining in weight.
I am trying to make arrangements to study French. I may be able to get Conversational French in the high school here; if not I can get it in Detroit I believe. I am keen to be better prepared when I go back. It seems the best I can do is so little when there is so much to do out there. I praise the Lord for making it possible for me to be out there these past years, and I am trusting Him to direct in every plan for returning. My greatest desire is that souls may come to know Christ as Saviour. And while I am home I am endeavouring to be an intercessory missionary in behalf of those out there.
May the Lord richly bless you and use you. Lovingly in Him, Ione
On the 10th February, Hector writes from Leopoldville, Belgian Congo to his family:
Dear Sister Florence and family:
How do you like getting a letter all the way from Africa? Well, I’m just as thrilled to write it.
I was just trying to compare it with some similar situation at home, when I suddenly realized that it was still February. I’m just sitting here comfortably warm. It is 5:20 in the afternoon, and the air is quite cool after a refreshing rain. It’s something like a warm August day in Avonmore.
And what do you think of my sweetheart!!!!!! I’m just waiting for letters from each member of the family and I know you all think just the same as I do. Well, the Lord has been good to us. The weeks spent together have left both of our hearts so happy and satisfied. She is everything that I expected in a girl; being neither forward nor backward.
The trip out was so enjoyable. We really hated to leave the boat. I was very fortunate to be able to make a plane reservation from here to Stanleyville, leaving next Monday Feb. 12. It means that I will have made the whole journey in less than a month at a cost of about $800.
Some prayer material might be summed up in these words. “How many of God’s servants there are who, while giving their lives to His service, frankly confess that the feebleness of their spiritual life as a missionary, and the inadequate results of mission work as a whole, are due to the failure to make the leisure and, when secured, rightly to use it, for DAILY COMMUNION WITH GOD.”
May the Lord enrich your life as a watered garden. Yours, Hector
On the 13th February 1945, Mr Pudney pens and acknowledgement and reply to Ione’s long letter of the 7th.
Apparently our letters crossed. Thank you so much for your lengthy and newsy letter. We are glad to get all the news and to know that Hector has managed to get you letters if seemingly by way of a miracle. I still marvel at the fact that he is due to arrive in Stanleyville today just one month since leaving Philadelphia. I am wondering if somehow he managed to go by air either from Dakar of from Leo. Maybe having been in the Air Corps he knows a few wrinkles of which we are in ignorance. We shall get the whole story in due time.
Thank you for the bank draft; I trust that your fare from Philadelphia to Detroit, $16.58, was also refunded by Pontiac. If not, we did not wish you to return it to us. Thank you so much for the photograph for which we will find a good place in our missionary gallery.
I note all that you say re. the various problems and I am sure that you do not have an easy time when conversing with others who are full of questions. As yet it seems impossible to arrange a meeting date with the Board, thus these matters must wait for the time being. (Indicating that the problems are significant and without easy solutions).
With every good wish in the Lord, Very sincerely yours, E.J. Pudney, Gen. Sec. (UMF)
On the 19th February, George Kerrigan at Bongondza writes to Ione describing Hector’s arrival; and is far too amusing to edit as it epitomises the dissonance that occurs with different cultures:
No doubt you will be hearing of the surprise which Bongondza had last Thursday. Mail had left in the morning and as the tabs (“tabs” is the shortened form of “batarabai”, a sub-instructor below the head teacher and above the “base” or “eleves”) were on holiday and it was the “printer’s devil” who had gone with the mail I did not expect anything till Friday at the earliest. I had been busy typing the results of our meeting with the Doctor last July and then I had stencilled the copies (by the way they will all come to you under separate cover by ordinary mail) and had got the machine out ready to duplicate them when a car drove on to the station and stopped outside the house. Went out to greet whoever it was, as I thought it was the Cotonco man who has come to reside at Kole and with whom I have had some talk. First a tall white man stepped out whose white suite seemed a little soiled; I went along and he said that he was McMillan. This (for some inexplicable reason) conveyed little to me as I was more interested in seeing Mr Bastin getting out of the driver’s seat so greeted him and the mines chap who seemed as though he had been pulled through a hedge backwards. Then the first white man who seemed rather old began to unload some things from the car so I thought that a visitor had come and very nearly said that the doctor had left on furlough when on looking at the things I saw H. and then it dawned on me that Hector had come. No word from the States, no word from Leo and here he was on the doorstep. Boy!!! (This is the word I have heard most from him since his arrival) weren’t we glad to see him. Bastin and friends went off and then we immediately went along to Vee’s. There we were invited to tea so back we went and your lordship had a wash and brush up (cost nothing) and then we went over to tea (largely water – you know how these boys act on a special occasion) and were invited to supper. My four sheets of stencils were lying there so I invited Hector to unpack as I was busy. He was soon back again and took over the job of the duplicating while I got the mail sack open and found his telegram from Leo. We worked well and the fifty sheets of each page were done with a few minutes left for me to shave and spruce myself up – in honour of our illustrious visitor. Over to supper where he passed on all the news of the various folks and your name seemed to come into the conversation rather more than it should but I suppose that is because he seems to be in LOVE.
Next day, so that there would be no mistakes made in his case and that he could not say he was misled by the lack of rules, regulations, suggestions, etc. I went through with him the bunch of papers mentioned above. We commenced before breakfast and we adjourned at 11:30 p.m. We covered a good deal of ground in that time. We did not move out of the house, nor did we have the usual midday siesta. I think that the day was profitably spent. We touched on most subjects under the sun but largely mission affairs/
Both cars were out of commission so he was going to commence on the Ekoko car; but as I had intended to try my hand on the spring of Kinso’s car, one of the spring leaves broken, I got him commenced on that. He found three leaves broken so how I have been carrying on I do not know. Alas we had only one replacement so I sent the lad off on Saturday afternoon to Mr Bastin to see if there were any springs to be had there. We had been over and got your gramophone (am getting rather tired of hearing your voice singing the few songs over and over again but he seems to like it – funny how tastes differ). So we went again on Saturday last afternoon to get something else and he gave a gasp, as white ants had come up a pin-hole in the floor and had made tracks for the pile of boxes which contained things of yours and the Ludwig’s. They seemed to have got into yours so as Hector had the keys I got him commenced on the bottom of the box and quite a hole crumpled away in our fingers but they had not commenced on the contents. As I had been down the day or so before and had seen nothing they had only had a day or so to work. We have scattered the boxes all over the place temporarily to see if the Paris Green works in the destruction of the pests. Hector was greatly interested in it all and as I say all I heard was “Boy” – I feel like telling him that I have now grown to man’s estate.
Sunday I spoke at the service and he visited a village in the afternoon with me while Vee and Joan went further afield. We again listened to a further repetition of your voice after the service on Sunday night.
This morning he had his first Bangala lesson after breakfast and then he set about the car again as the lad had returned with a couple of leaves. He worked on that the rest of the day, practically while I did what I do with the tabs – looked on and found tools for him to work with. As a matter of fact he had started another job earlier on. I got up early, as the previous night I found the well had run dry, so I got up early and after I had pumped for a quarter of an hour, I found there was still no water as one of the taps had again gone haywire. So I had no wash, nor he but he soon set it to rights, so were able to struggle so we filled the car and pumped up the tyres and we hope to leave for Buta tomorrow afternoon. I have got permission to but a tyre and the permit has been delayed so long that only a week is left so in case I send to Stan and have it returned as last time and then have to return it to Banalia to get the time extended I have decided to go up to Buta to make sure of getting one. As Hector came so quickly I had no letter waiting for him to tell him what stores to buy so we will fulfil that commission at the same time. Naturally we are all out of stores so it will be worthwhile. At the same time I intend to stay if possible at two of the teachers along the main road probably Ngambo and Angada for a day each. This will get H. initiated into the work though it will throw back his Bangala lessons a bit – but not as much as in certain other people’s cases I know. Well Hector has come at a most convenient time and from my conversations with him and his attitude to things in general, I think that he will make good. He is of the type who seem to make good out here. As no doubt he will grow thin under my expert cook’s care there is only one thing to be done and that is to send an S.O.S. to the States for someone to come and look after him though I will extend to you what was extended to me by an old missionary, “Don’t marry your cook, marry your queen”. I accepted this advice and have been sorry ever since. Well, well, well, now I have blethered so much I will draw to a close hoping that you are having a good time wherever you are and gaining strength for a new term on the Field. Vee is sorry she has never heard from you. And you know my tears have fallen thick and fast for a like reason but do not believe all you hear or you will eat all you see. Cheerio and all the best. Remember me to anybody who asks after me but if they don’t ask after me don’t trouble. I take it H. is asleep in the guest room as it is now 10:45 so I will toddle also to the same place in the hopes of forgetting my troubles in the arms of Morpheus – do you know that gent?
Yours in Him, Keri”
Another person pleased to hear of Hector’s arrival was Jim Carter, the finance director of UFM in the field. He writes to Hector from Boyulu on 21st February, 1945, although brief, it does echo Ione’s thoughts expressed earlier, that existing missionaries were very keen for new blood to help with the work:
Dear Mr McMillan,
Very many thanks for your cable and letter which I received by mail last Thursday. You know by now of course, that when I received them Thursday evening you were well on your way out to Bongondza. We have been looking forward to your arrival for a long time, and were so very pleased to hear of your arrival at Stanleyville. Glad you contacted Mr and Mrs Arris. We await the Burks’ arrival now and do so hope that they made contact with the steamer to leave Portugal this month. They are, as you probably know, coming out to us here at Boyulu.
We are working hard on a new church. It will be about the same size as the one at Bongondza and in many respects like it. We have finished the foundations. We are not fortunate in having gravel such as there is at Bongondza for a base. It is far more sandy here. We put in four foot (deep) foundations of rock. Bricks are not ready yet. Hope to get the brick work in a week or two.
Please excuse the brief note. There is so much to claim one’s time. Our warmest greetings, and may God bless you and give you much joy in his service.
Yours very sincerely,
Ione writes to her mother and Marcellyn on 21st February, telling them of her experiences as a substitute teacher for which she receives 8 dollars a day. Her concerns are for her sisters:
“I talked to Doris on the phone last week and she said she called because she couldn’t come after all. Bill is not going to Boston but will be stationed at Catalina Islands as an instructor. She sounded kind of lonesome: wants me to come out there instead. I told her I would, but I think I’ll write and ask if she can’t come anyway by herself. She won’t be married for six weeks.
I was surprised to learn that Lucille has had her operation. I’m glad it’s over now. Hope she can feel better now. I surely enjoyed them a lot.”
Mother and Marcellyn are engaged in their studies, which has meant less time with Ione but Ione feels it is time well spent as it may mean they will work together in the future. A birthday Card they addressed to the Congo finally made it back to Ione and she thanks them for their greetings.
On the 23rd February. Ione writes to Hector’s family, his sister Jean, brother Archie and Father:
Dear Jean, Archie and Dad,
Just a few moments ago I came in from school and found your welcome letter. I had hoped to find a letter from Hector but yours just filled that vacant spot! I should be very happy, however, to have heard once from him while he was on the way. He managed to send a letter the second week of his journey (he sailed Jan. 14th) and it was stamped “Army Base 200” and postmarked “Dakar, Africa”. Dakar is a great deal farther north than I had supposed he would land, but it seems to have been to his advantage to land there because he telegraphed the U.F.M., Phil., that he arrived in Stanleyville on Feb. 12th! That was a record journey and he must have made the inland journey by plane, for there would be no other way to get there so soon. Mr Pudney said in his letter that because he had been an Airforce man he must have known some new wrinkle to get himself there sooner!
Well I am glad that he is safely there at last, and I’m sure you will rejoice, too. His ocean letter said he had been seasick for nearly a week, had been to the table to eat only twice! I don’t see how he existed that long, but he said he was making up for it now when he wrote. However he was writing from the bed, so I imagine he didn’t feel so good then. It must be dreadful to be seasick. I never have had that experience. He wasn’t too sick to be funny, tho’, for he said while he was singing hymns he came to the words, “Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll –“ and wondered if the fellow who wrote that had never been on the sea!
He said he had made himself known to the Captain as my fiancée one day, and the Captain remembered me. He is a fine Norwegian, and a Christian, I believe. When I hear some further details I will let you know. But be assured now that he is well cared for. I have an idea that he will be staying with an older married couple for a few weeks until he gets established. I don’t know which station it will be but we’ll know soon. It’s only a little way from Stanleyville to any of the four.
I miss him more and more. The picture we had taken makes me feel that he’s not so far away after all. You will agree with me when you see it! It will arrive in the mail under separate cover.
But the time is going quickly and I’ll soon be going back. I regret that over two months has passed and I have not seen ANY of you yet! It is really a disappointment, for I tho’t it would be so soon that I would be there. Well, June will be nicer. And I shall not let anything interfere with my coming there. School closes here May 25th. A few days after that I should be on the train heading for Toronto, Dunnville, Avonmore, Montreal, and anywhere else I can find some McMillan’s!
I have been at the Whittier School here for about a week now and like it very much. I have the 3A Grade, children 8 years old. Their teacher fell and broke her leg and I expect to take her place until April 1st. After that I will take other substitute places.
My Mother and sister Marcellyn are still at Bob Jones College in the South. Another sister and her husband are beginning a new pastorate near Lansing, Mich., in March. The youngest sister in California had planned to visit me but cannot. I hope I can go there before I leave.
I tried to remember the names of Hector’s nieces and nephews and after I sent the Valentines I discovered I had forgotten that Billy and Bobby have a sister! Am I not right? I’m so sorry and I’ll just have to make up that up somehow. Can you tell me when their birthdays are, all of them? A letter Hector had sent to me last July just reached me this week, after having gone there and back. In it I found a letter from both Jean and Audrey. I surely did appreciate them.
On March 11th I hope to make a week-end trip to Chicago and buy a wedding dress. Oh, I really don’t have to buy it there, for I can get any number just like I want right here or anywhere. But there are some book firms I want to visit for Congo School supplies, and it will be fun getting the dress there, too. I want it to be cotton so the bugs won’t chew it up and a design simple enough to cut off the skirt and use it for Sundays and parties (IF we have any parties!). Hector says he can wear white and my dress will be white. I will need to take cake decorations and all the things that make a nice wedding, for none can be purchased there. It was a bit of a disappointment not to be married here. I had bro’t back things for light housekeeping should we be married here, and had planned the attendants, etc. But it will be nice for the natives to see a real Christian wedding.
Well, I must be getting supper now. Please write again soon. I will get off a letter soon to Irene, Alice, and Florence. Tell me more about Eleanor. I haven’t gotten really acquainted with her yet.
Love to you all, Ione
Ione is sent two letters on 24th February 1945, the first is from Pearl:
What an age it does seem since you left us, but now Hector has come and is digging in to Bangala, and it makes us feel as if you are almost on the way back, although of course, we realize that it is a bit too soon for that. Vee and I are still meeting together for prayer each day, as we used to long ago in Ma Kinso’s house, and you may be sure that you are constantly remembered at the Throne of Grace. Now we have heard you singing, and seen your snaps, so you seem somehow nearer.
Although Hector flew up from Leo, (Kinshasa) and so could not bring much baggage he found room for the frocks which you have so kindly sent us. You really are a dear, they are all so pretty. I tried mine on that very night, but the big lamp was up to its tricks, and in the light of the lantern it was not possible to see very well. It was easy to tell which one was mine as it was the longest. A big, big THANK YOU dear.
School has started again this week, but the weather is very hot, and mostly the children are out in the forest. Samwele has gone off today hunting up boys, we had only sixteen, but four new ones have come in. Three of them are little fellows, but the fourth is quite big, and will not have very long in school. Quite a number of the big boys you would know are now out of school. Mayeku is getting on very well as my boy, (houseboy – working for Pearl) and in addition to his routine work helped tremendously with the sewing for the boys Sunday clothes. Badipopo wanted to leave school, so Mayeku is teaching him as much as he knows so that when someone else arrives there will be someone who has had some of the rawness rubbed out of him. I think he will be another Mayani. He has never given me any trouble in school, and has always been polite, but he is very slow. Abongakwai is now Hector’s boy, but I do not know yet whether he will still be coming into class, as the two men are living together, and I suppose will be, until you come out and start housekeeping out here again.
During the holidays I had another trek, this time over very largely unevangelized territory; it was very different from the Basali trek of July. In many places they did not want to see us, but on the other hand some were very warm in their welcome. Only Tasembo was able to come with me from among the teachers, Mangi was hunting for wealth, Sema could not come as Sanatu was expecting her sixth baby, and the others were ill. Tasembo now has been very ill with an abscess on his side, I had to leave him behind at Kole, Agbe was also there, but he has just returned, and tells us that Tasembo is getting better, although he has got very thin, and there was not much of him to start with.
There was quite a lot of excitement on the station yesterday, for quite a big animal from the forest came right across, from the direction of the Doctor’s. He went behind Vee’s house, and broke the pipe bringing the water into her bathroom, came lumbering along, broke through the bushes between this house, and the empty one, and made off in the direction of the boys’ mafika (cook house). Samwele and Sema went after him, but there has been such a long dry season that they lost his tracks. He was a dark couloured animal, about as big as a very big pig. I happened to see him as I was returning to the house for some chalk.
Yes; Sanatu has another son, born the same day as Hector’s arrival, or at least, about three the following morning. Since we no longer have a Doctor I went down to see if I could help. She really was good, for he was very big baby, and seems to be getting on nicely. It reminded me of what one reads of the slums at home, for all the family were there, even little Ruta. Certainly somewhat different from the maternity hospital, but in one way at least it was better, for there were no air raid sirens to interrupt the proceedings.
The second letter was from Viola Walker:
You can very well imagine our amazement last week when a car drove onto the station and Hector emerged! It is true we had already here some of his boxes, but no further word of his, or of the Burk’s departure had reached us, and I suppose we just felt “Nothing ever happens”. Needless to say, we were as delighted as we were surprised, it seems as if the receding wave has started to return. Any day now we may also hear of the Burk’s arrival at Leo. So we praise the Lord and take courage. It should be now only four or five months till we hear of the Kinso’s and of Eve and Isobel’s (Whitehead) departure, and maybe our Verna and Miss Rutt. And then three more from England are not so very long after that. (Viola may well be alluding to the anticipated arrival of the Walby’s; Alf and Eileen. They sailed from Southampton, UK in the first ship to travel without naval convoy after the war as it was felt there was less threat from mines laid during the war.) I trust, dear Ione will be on the way back. 1945 should have to be a year of rejoicing.
It was sweet of you to send us a dress, and would you believe it, that young man of yours actually brought them in the plane to get them to us quickly! Mine is perfectly lovely however, (to my mind) than all the others. Because it just suits me. (I did not tell anyone that I thought so, however!) Thanks kutu-kutu (thousands) Ione. I will not be ashamed now if someday I go to Stan (Kisangani) and stay in the hotel.
This hot season has been, and still is, the longest, hottest, driest season that even older people can remember. I have never been so hot for so long a period of time, I am sure of that! Yesterday some big animal of the forest, apparently crazed by the heat, ran across the Station from one side and back into the forest on the other side. It broke the pipes of my bathroom tank in passing, so, in this sticky heat, I once more have to have water doled out by stingy pail-fulls. The natives (only children saw the animal, and Joan) think it may have been an Okapi, from the conflicting descriptions. (This is quite likely since the western edge of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is only 70 miles east of Bongondza.)
Sema and Sanatu have a lovely baby boy. It keeps six angels busy now looking after their little flock! They are nice little folk, but surely Alieta must give her angel some hot times! (mice chewed letter here) has been quite ill with a huge boil. He is at Kole still, at the dispensary, but it recovered again, I’m glad to say. It was quite dangerous. The evangelist’s class seems dull without him. Just now, said class sit before me, perspiration streaming from their many brows, struggling with ridiculously easy arithmetic, which seems to them, after the long holidays in this sweltering heat, hopelessly difficult.
Do you remember the nice little teacher among the Basali, Anziambo? He has had quite a nasty accident, we hear. A gun exploded, and the powder entered his eyes. For a week or more he was not able to see at all, or open his eyes, but Ndunda says he can open one a bit now. I trust and pray he may not be blinded. Kibibi, whom he hopes to marry, or should I say, she hopes to marry him? is here with me now – her father is making a terrific trouble about it all and it seems that it may have to be abandoned. The old rascal. Kibibi just tells me her father came up today and Hector pulled one of his wicked old teeth. Wish I had known, and I could have told Hector to pull them all.
We have been quite disappointed to receive no letters from you. Still, I expect furlough days pass quickly, too. This holiday seemed very long, for the first time in history I did not get out to trek, and it sorely grieved my heart! Joan had a nice three week – or nearly- on trek by herself, and on the Kole road, touched villages we have never trekked before, with the best gratifying results.
How is Ellen? Hector was saying how thrilled Charlotte was with New York! I can quite imagine! Are the children in school?
I must cease this ramble, Ione. Sorry there seems so pitifully little news. But as I say, I have just been here all holidays, and am nearly bored to death, so can’t sound very interested even on paper! We pray for you all daily, and hope to see you back, Ione, but as soon as you are really, really rested and refreshed. Greetings to your mother and sisters, whose voices, – with yours, – on the records, gave us great pleasure Sunday evening. I could almost see you standing there by the piano singing. We often, often wish it were possible to hear your sweet voice, especially do I want to hear you sing our own favourite choruses, “I’ll Sing it, & Tell it, Wherever I Go!”. Lovingly, Viola
Pearl and Viola are not the only ones receiving dresses from Ione; Mary Carter was also given a dress and she responds to Hector on 24th April 1945:
Dear Mr McMillan,
Or maybe I should have written ‘Hector’ as that’s what we are used to you being called. Anyway, I am writing to thank you for bringing the dress out from Ione. I shall write to her of course, but haven’t the time at the moment. However, I’ll have a letter ready by the time you come next week, and you’ll be able to give me her address. It was very kind of her to send the dress, and you did well in bringing it with your luggage.
We’re greatly looking forward to seeing you and hope it will be next Tuesday, at least that is the day we have asked the Kerrigan’s to come. You’ll be glad to see the Burkes again I’m sure. We are so glad to have them, and I think they are glad to have arrived.
No more time for more now, as I have a couple of babies (Gordon and Rosemary) to bath before going to school.
Yours sincerely, Mary Carter.
Ione writes to her mother on the 26th February 1945. Ostensibly, Ione is on furlough which could equate to ‘holiday’; but not so for missionaries. As many people have supported Ione in the Congo, she is duty bound to visit the churches and tell them of her work and drum up support for the next few years. Many of the people she mentions are well known to her mother:
Your welcome letter came today and thanks so much for it. I’m so sorry that you have sprained your ankle. It must have been very painful to make you faint. I wish you didn’t have to be walking around alone. You need someone to hold on to when the going is bad. You might have broken your leg!
That is just what happened to the lady whose place I am taking at Whittier School. She will be off work for about six weeks. I am enjoying my teaching and already have many notes and some helpful information and experience that I wanted so badly. My days are full and require study every night, but I manage some night engagements as well as weekends. I guess I have taken really more than I had wanted, but most of these are visits to groups where I have not been for four years. So many places – wish you were here to come with me and I miss you so. We must plan some meetings together as soon as you are free. I miss you not only for your playing, but for your prayer help and encouragement. It makes me so happy to be wherever you are. We must plan to be together just as much as we can. I know you feel badly just as I do because we’re so far apart and the time will soon come for my return to the Congo. But sometimes to be where the Lord wants you is a real sacrifice. I wouldn’t have you miss this training for anything. The Lord surely has great things in store for the future.
What are your plans for the summer? When is school out? My school closes on May 25th. If yours should close early in May, would you want to come up here and take some week end and evening meetings? I have promised to see Hector’s folks in June since I didn’t in February, so I expect to leave here the first of June for Toronto, Avonmore and Montreal. Then I’ll be back in July for a couple of months before I go. Could we plan something for then? I expect to be taking meetings all of that time and if you are free we can do a lot of them together. Marcellyn too, if she’s free. Please tell me what you want to do.
I am writing to Lucille asking her to send my box of books to the Church. Inez doesn’t seem to have a place here. Lucille said there was a trunk there of my things. I suppose it’s the one I took to Moody (Bible College). I’ll have her send that, too; I could use it for my things, but if you need it I can give it to you. What will you have done with your things? I just can’t think of any place except Aunt Katie’s. She wrote me a nice letter recently.
I am so ashamed for writing too little. I’m going to get some penny cards & try to write a note at least every week.
Take care of yourself & give Marcellyn a hug for me.
Guess I need another page.
Mr Moyer died last Thursday. (This is sad news for Ione as he was a loyal supporter). He was in the hospital three weeks and had to have a bladder operation. He lived only a short time after the operation. I had had some nice talks with him at the church and went to the hospital to see him. I took him six red roses. Do you remember the ones he brought me in the hospital? He was so pleased and grinned and remarked about their being red. I went to see him at Huntoons and went to the funeral Saturday at the Church. Miss Stockton spoke. Bob Fischer read the scripture, and old Mr Austin prayed. There were many lovely flowers.
Did I tell you I went to Brown City with the Eastham girls and held a service at Scotty Agg’s Community Church? He and Hildegard have a lovely farm and a nice little freckled boy who looks just like Scotty. The week end of the 17th I went to Evie’s and had supper with the Bards. They liked Doris so well. Evie & I have a date to go to Chicago Mar. 10th & 11th. Monday the 19th, I had supper and spoke at the Floyd Evans home to a Bible Study group. Several nights I have gone to the Tabernacle to the big city-wide revival, 2500 people nearly every night. Dr. Joe Hankin from Missouri the speaker. I started work on my teeth at the dentist Saturday. I had them cleaned. Next Saturday I’ll have an X-Ray and then at least 4 fillings.
Sunday I spent the day with the Jencks at Clarkston. They had invited you, too. I spoke 4 times at the church at Newberry School. They gave a generous offering and promised to buy me a mimeograph to take back. Oh, I forgot to say I spoke in a children’s meeting at the Tabernacle a week ago today to 1500 children. Quite a crowd!
Next Wednesday P.M. I’ll speak at Stone S.S. Prayer Mtg. Thursday night I’ll have supper with Lola & Walter & go out to 5 Pts. S.S. Prayer Mtg. Next Sunday I’ll speak to the adult dept. in S.S. here, Mrs Stout’s Beginners, Donaldson S.S. in the afternoon and go to Lake Orion at night. Tuesday Mar. 6 Loyal’s Class Mtg. Thursday Eunice Phil. Class. Mar. 13th I started Sewing Classes for Thurs. evenings for 8 weeks. Mar 15 I go to Walton’s for supper & the evening. Etc. thru the month of Mar. & April. I still have Easter Sunday open and the last Sun. in April
After I’ve contacted everyone once I’m going to refuse engagements. But there are so many surrounding places to reach yet.
Well, I’m waiting to hear how Marcellyn likes her church work, what hours she has, etc. How’s the rent doing? And are you getting enough to eat?
Did I tell you Doris is not coming? I’m going to try to get her to come even if he can’t.
Give yourself a big hug for me. Wish I could crawl in bed beside you tonight!
Ione has not yet been able to meet up with all Hector’s family, so she sends all her prospective nieces and nephews Valentines cards. Hector’s sister, Florence responds on 27th February:
We all join in thanking you for the welcome Valentines which arrived at our house last week. It was thoughtful of you, Ione and it brought you real close to the hearts of little ones here. I believe you must have given one store a bit of business though. I was at Irene’s yesterday and she’d had a letter from Alice saying they’d received Valentines, too, also Barbara. You see what you’ve got yourself in for. All these nieces and nephews wholesale!
Irene & I were also wondering if between us, warning you about the cold weather up here, we might possibly have scared you from coming altogether. I hope not. Believe me, we hope “you and spring come together” after the winter we’ve had here this year. You’ll be that welcome. Dougie and Barbara had such a lively visit yesterday. Irene and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves catching up on the news and watching them. Dougie makes me think of Hector when he’s playing. It’s hard to believe Hector is away over in Africa now. Have you heard recently? God be with him, and bless the work he’s doing. He so yearned to do the Lord’s will in all things.
Are you teaching yet? How are you feeling now? Your love of children makes me realize even now how well you’ll fit in our family, scattered as we are. It’s such a responsible job bringing up a family, but it pays big dividends in satisfaction when you see them choosing the right road. It really is one full time job.
I have joined the choir in the church here about a month ago. Our organist and leader is Mrs Ella Giberson. In the course of conversation, I’ve found out she’s soloist at the People’s Church where Hector always went when he was in Montreal. He’d be so delighted if he knew. The world is so small. She’s a real Christian and I do so enjoy the fellowship we have in her home here on Practice night. She has her troubles, too, but as she says, the Lord always provides a way if we wait on Him.
Dougie is anxious to send you a box of kisses, so I will close. One thing, Ione, could you please let me know where to write Hector and how. I’m not as experienced as you are and I know how long mail takes to cross these days. I’m longing to hear from him. Your sister, Florence & family (boxes of Xs from Douglas, Joan, and Audrey)”
On the 1st March 1945, Ione’s friend, Pearl is now stationed at Maganga and she writes to Hector welcoming him:
Greetings, salutations and hallucinations too if you like them (as Ione would say). You certainly did surprise me. I didn’t realize you would be here so soon or would have had my greeting off to meet you on the way. I was expecting you and Ione to come as man and wife. So you kissed her right on the pier. Well, being a nurse, I do know that part of her anatomy but I noticed that you were most cautious not to give the number – of course the number of the pier – wouldn’t think of questioning the number of anything else – Ha! Ha! It’s a real treat to be able to write a bit of humor in a letter. I do hope you fell in love with Bongondza like I did. It will forever and always be the place I call our African home (Ione’s and mine), that house next to Kinso’s house! Since you’re not yet married, I can’t congratulate you on that point, but I can say that if your time spent living with Ione is as happy and inspirationally spiritual as mine was, you will live happy ever after.
I noticed and appreciated the fact that you called me Pearl of great price. However, I am Pearl of no value now (a strange comment given the boundless work Pearl undertook before she contracted tuberculosis) so I’m singing, “Pennsylvania, here I come. Right back where I started from, etc.” It’s a great disappointment for me but perhaps it is “His appointment”. There is the possibility that we may meet once before I leave. In the mean time I’ll say “Fight the good fight of faith and keep close, very close to the Master.” Yours in Him, Pearl”
As leaders of UFM, Mr and Mrs Pudney visit the countries that have UFM missionaries, they return from Haiti and Mrs Pudney writes to Ione thanking her for the picture sent of her and Hector. She forwards on news of arrivals in Congo:
“Hector will probably be on the field by this time and what a welcome he will receive. We have heard from the Burks, only yesterday a letter reached us written Jan 26th. It was a small boat and they had been so sea sick, especially Dolena. They expected to get a boat in two weeks’ time to Matadi, so now they would have reached Africa’s sunny shores, and maybe be started up the Congo! What a wonderful experience is in store for them.
Pudu celebrates his birthday today and we are glad to have him at home. The Lancaster Conf. begins tomorrow, Florence Hough and Frances Longley are guests. We expect to go tomorrow, Pudu and I will be staying a couple of days and then coming back to work at home until toward the end of the week again.
Now dear, may the Lord bless you and give you great happiness in His service during your furlough. Let us hear from you again soon. Lovingly, Lilian G. Pudney – Ma Pudu.”
On the 10th March 1945, Hector sends his first letter from Congo to his future mother in law:
Where shall I start to tell you all that has happened in my life in these past two months? It seems strange that in so short a time Ione and I have just changed places. But that month that we were together was so precious, that, like the prophet, I feel as though I could go on the strength of it for the intervening months until I see her again. All our conversations were so natural and open and it seems so easy to get acquainted with her. While we were waiting In New York, the folks at the S.I.M. were very kind to us and may I add blind to many of our actions. At the table one day Ione whispered to me, “I don’t see how you can look so innocent and be doing such mischievous things.” I guess I must have been pinching her under the table. But the biggest surprise came one Sunday afternoon as we were in her sitting room. I asked her why she allowed me such liberties. She is so different in her attitude toward me from anyone else I have ever been with. So in her sweet little way she said, “Because I trust you.” Well, that was a revelation to me and it has made me a new man. I then saw how she tried to show me that in so many different ways. I shall never forget those times we had together. And yet some of the credit must go to Marcellyn, because she prepared me for it !!!! Don’t tell Kent that…
So much for the introductory paragraph !!!
Now about the gramophone records. I had sent the two I had, out with my boxes in August last year. Everything arrived here in wonderful condition. I was over at the Doctor’s house a few days after I got here and found Ione’s gramophone. It was a little bit of heaven to hear those records again, and then the ones that she had taken out with her. “I’ll serve Him to-day,” “Melody of choruses”. The trio had ever so many, and then your piano solo, “Ivory Palaces” in memory of your husband. I just sit here and enjoy them when I have a few spare minutes, before or after the evening meal.
She mentioned, that I would find all the parts of her clock in a large envelope among her things. It stands now on the desk here in good order. Just now it is 10 to 5. But what a job it was to fix it. I almost gave up, especially when trying to recoil the tiny hair spring. It was a task I had never tried before and after six attempts it was the right shape. Marcellyn will be glad to hear that; if I remember right, it was hers and she gave it to Ione when she came out.
And how are the plans for our wedding coming along !!!!! It seemed hard to leave her in America, but I can see the wisdom of it now, both for her and for me. This rest will be the very thing that will build her up, and I do need to get the language and become accustomed to these people.
It will be a great testimony to the natives around this district if we are married here at Bongondza. It is a lovely situation here and it will be especially fixed up for that occasion. Everyone remembers her so well and they think that I am fortunate. One of the teachers said that it surpassed everything. I have that light blue suit that I could wear, but I think it would be better if I got a white suit made here, probably at Stanleyville. Ione, I think, wanted white, but the letters that will be coming soon will be telling me more of her plans.
I am sending this to the school, but it will likely have to be forwarded to you. It will be interesting to know how Maurice and Lucille have progressed in their new place, if they have really moved. And I’m wondering about Doris’s visit. I trust every hope for some recent developments. I so often think back over the grand visits I had with all you folks. It was just the family relationship I had anticipated. I felt at home right from the time I met Marcellyn at the station. That was the week end you were ill, I believe and yet you carried on. And those phone calls I used to make ! ! ! As Kent would say, “It all comes back to me now.” In my mind I have been trying to picture him out here. It would be quite a change and yet he is so full of fun that he could readily overcome a great deal of strain. I was expecting to find conditions far worse than they are. The weather, in particular, was a pleasant surprise. Except for the heat of mid-day it is quite enjoyable. I can assure you that it will be grand going out for a walk just after supper with my beloved. The insects are no worse than they are at home, in fact, not as bad. But there are other things that bear down on one’s constitution and having very little to do with the people as yet I cannot just say. It is rather easy for people to trust the Lord for salvation, but it is most difficult to keep them going on. I would like to see a pastor in America, take his congregation and transplant them out here in Africa. They might appear very holy on the Lord’s Day, but I’m sure he has no idea what some of them are doing through the week. In these native villages, you might just as well live in a glass house. They just know everything about each other and it becomes common knowledge. But this has its advantages for those who are really living for the Lord. It is very much like the life in the Army barracks. Try and conceive of the temptation that must sway a man who has yielded to it all his life. If they truly follow the Lord as some of them do, they must resist more temptation in a day than we do in a week or month. I’m amazed that some of them are as far along as they are, especially when they have had so little attention with the stations understaffed and everyone so busy.
I am thankful that I have had such good health thus far. It was the better part of wisdom for me to take the plane from Leopoldville to Stanleyville, and thus escape that long river journey, where so many take malaria for the first time. I have good food here since I am eating with Mr. Kerrigan. And the nights are quite cool for sleeping. That siesta at noon conserves a lot of energy.
Give my regards to other friends as you meet them or drop them a letter. Thanks over and over again for this daughter of yours. She’s the apple of my eye and the recipient of all my affections. Yours as ever, Hector X”
A Canadian newspaper published the following on 19th March 1945, although Hector had left for the Congo in January 1945. The story was probably held over until they had learnt of his safe arrival:
Avonmore Man Is In Route to Belgian Congo
AVONMORE — A native of this village, Rev. J. Hector McMillan is en route to the Belgian Congo to serve as a missionary. Mr McMillan is the first foreign missionary ever to go out from the Avonmore district and the best wishes and prayers of his many relatives and friends accompany him in his new endeavour into the interior of Africa.
Mr McMillan is the son of Dan L. McMillan, Avonmore, and the late Mrs McMillan who was the former Jane McElheran. He was born in Avonmore on July 16, 1915 and educated in the Avonmore Public and High Schools. After his graduation from the latter school in June 1936, Mr McMillan enrolled in the Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills Alberta.
The PBI, by which the Institute is known, was founded about 2 years ago on the farm of Mr McMillan’s uncle W. McElheran who had a few years previously gone west from Finch Township. Since then the school has grown into numerous buildings with a large staff of competent teachers and an enrolment of almost seven hundred from all parts of Canada and the United States.
After four years of careful preparation in this institution, Mr McMillan went to Toronto where he spent one year in the Missionary Medical School. War conditions prevented his going out as a missionary to Brazil as he had planned previously. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and for two years served as a radar mechanic at different stations in the Maritime Provinces during which time he carried on a wonderful work among the RCAF boys.
Mr McMillan was ordained in the High Park Baptist Church, Toronto on April 14th, 1944. After great difficulties in obtaining transportation and other necessary documents, Rev. Mr McMillan left New York City the latter part of January, but as yet no word has been received by his family of his arrival in Africa.
Mr McMillan is a missionary under the Unevangelized Fields Mission which is carrying on wonderful work, not only in the Belgian Congo, but also in Brazil, French Morocco, Papua and Haiti.
After arriving in Africa, Mr McMillan will be stationed at the field headquarters at Bongondza where he will make a study of the native language. His postal address will be in care of the Unevangelized Fields Mission, Km 25, Route Kole, Kanwa, Kale, Stanleyville, Congo Belge, Africa.
Mr McMillan has several cousins serving as missionaries in many different and remote corners of the earth. Another cousin, Dr. Donald N. McMillan, formerly pastor of the Kenyon Presbyterian Church, Dunyegan, is serving as chaplain with the Royal Canadian Air Force overseas while another cousin, Eldred McMillan is studying preparatory for the ministry.”
On 10th April, Jean, Hector’s sister writes to Ione who is still living in Pontiac giving her family information, probably at Ione’s behest:
How are you these beautiful Spring days? I know that you must be busy and making every moment count for good – and not forgetting to write to Hec who loves you so happily.
Forgive me for being so slow to write. I’ve been rather busy teaching and looking after home. Archie and Dad and I are longing for you to come to us. They are so happy to be at the farm spring work. We rejoice in this wonderful weather. Archie is to begin work on the land tomorrow and that is really something for so early in April. In this district it rarely begins before the first of May.
How are you getting along at teaching? Don’t you enjoy it? I do for sure. And school lasts here until the end of June so you may see something of it.
You wanted to know the birthdays of some of your nieces and nephews. You haven’t been counting enough of them, Ione. Alice has four children – little Millers they are:
Muriel is 12 this summer July 5th
Bill was 9 last week April 1st
Mary will be 8 on Sept 5th
Bobby will be 5 on May 5th
Florence has 3 children – young Damants they are:
Audrey will be 10 on July 23rd
Joan will be 9 on Oct 25th
Douglas will be 5 on May 2nd
Irene has only Barbara who is our baby and will be 3 on August 28th. Miss Barbara Pierce – she’s quite a honey. That’s all!
Eleanor – didn’t Hector tell you about Eleanor! Why Ione! He must have been telling you all the time. Well, no matter…I mean all right! But Hector and Eleanor were the best playmates. We’ll tell you all about them. Eleanor is the youngest in the family. She is working in Montreal and you will love her. She is my little sister but I’m a runt compared to her – if you understand. She’s an efficient individual and a dear. Of course we’d think that.
Please plan to be here as long as possible, Ione. Looking forward to your sisterly fellowship. Lovingly, Jean
Ione writes to Hector on 10th April 1945, and evidently she has yet to receive the letters cited and written in February 1945:
“My own Dearest,
“Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
I have been thinking and wondering about you. The latest word was through Frances Longley when she came here two weeks ago: that you had surprised the Bongondza folk one day, but I don’t know what day! At any rate I know you were welcome. Wish I had been there. In my dreams of you out there I imagined you would come like that.
Don’t you think my writing is improved? No, not in frequency, but in quality! I’m trying ever so hard to write better. I’m teaching Writing in school and find it hard to show them how it’s done. I have taught for seven weeks now in the 3A Grade (8 year olds). The teacher who broke her leg expects to return Monday, so I may be called anywhere. I taught one day in a Kindergarten and had 56 wigglers! It is helping me a great deal and I’m getting together teaching ideas, texts and supplies. I am hoping to go to Ypsilanti and investigate possibilities of further studies (correspondence) at the Normal School. I’m taking French on each Thursday evening for two hours and sewing on Tuesdays for two hours. There are meetings frequently. Altogether life is very interesting here. But I’m looking forward more and more to the Canadian visit.
Doris will come here May 4th or 5th. Will you pray for that time especially? I want it to really count for Christ. Doris is very lonely. She hopes to be married again soon but the boy is in training in New York. Mother (letter is cut off here) will be coming through in May and I hope to get together.
I hope you received the pictures or will try to enclose the little ones in this time or some of them. People think we look nice together, and very happy. Did I tell you I bought the wedding dress material and the President of the Loyal Philathea Class will make it. And believe it or not, the class wants to make a baby layette to send back with me! I received $25 the other day from a Sunday school for my trousseau and yesterday a check came from the Westcott’s for you and me. It is to pay for a food order for the Congo from a company in N.Y. The check is for $100! There have been numerous gifts for the work as well as personal. I have been looking for a set of dishes. I wonder if you are eating with Mr Jenkinson or “chopping” alone.
The lady with whom I stay is very kind. She wants to make your acquaintance, so I have reserved a little space for her to write, too.
I love you dearly and am looking forward to the time when you will be as close as you are in the picture.
Lovingly yours in Him, Ione
“Glad to meet you Hector. Sorry I didn’t have the pleasure when you were here in Pontiac. I’m trying to take good care of your little girl but I can’t always make her behave. Can you give me some suggestions? Glad you arrived in Africa safely. Will be praying for you as you carry on the work there. Sincerely yours, Inez”
April 11th 1945, Ione writes to the Westcott’s, primarily to thank them for the donation for the forthcoming wedding :
Dear Doctor and Ellen and A B C,
I received your letter this week and do thank you for it. And thank you for the cheque for $100, well it just knocked me cold! You should have forgotten about it and then you’d have more money for something you need. I should be paying you for my three-year course in, ‘How to Live and Help the Living’. At any rate, I appreciate your kindness and generosity. I will send for a catalogue from Liggets or Premier and start the ball rolling on a food order. Thank you ever and ever so much.
About my coming: A church in Waterford had to change a date and make it the 13th, and I felt I should stay over here to take that and another the same day at Birmingham. This shoves my coming over to the 14th, Monday. But as you know I am on the substitute list for teaching and in order to come there for a week I will have to notify the Sup’t of Schools that I will not be available that week. Ask your Dad if he thinks the Sup’t will mind! I believe I should visit in some practical teaching classes in Ypsi if you think it possible. I am not teaching today as the teacher who broke her leg has returned and I have not yet been called to another school.
At the same time that your letter came, Inez Slater received a bulletin from Ypsi Summer School, so I have been perusing it with care. (Ione is evidently using her furlough to update certain skills she feels she needs.) A little while ago I went over and talked to Mrs Pardee about it. Am I right that the nine weeks session costs only $83.25? And does this cover everything except the book? Mrs P. said one could take a prerequisite along with the desired subject. For instance, could I not take 303, Principles of Teaching, right along with 302, Educational Psychology? I wonder if I could do the same with 301, Psychology and 321, Child Psychology. What do you think about 152, Arts and Crafts? And Mrs Pudney suggested 202, Home Nursing and Child Care. Would you be able to fix me up a suggested schedule for the nine weeks’ session?
Russell Bemis, the man who is giving me a gun, wants me to get a statement on paper that I can take a gun into the Congo. Is there someone I could write to that could furnish this? I told him what you said about carrying it ready to show at Boma, but he seemed to think it wasn’t sufficient. He is afraid there might be a limitation on the number of shells one can carry. He is getting quite a number of shells from here and there. I am to go with him Saturday to the police station to get a license. I told him I did not need a revolver, but he insists that I accept it and had paid at least $40 for it. He wants to give me a hunting knife, too! He and Mr Pardee are going out with me where the Gun Club shoots for some instructions.
I have three more weeks in the sewing class. They start another advanced class, but it runs up into July, so I don’t think I’ll start it. The French lessons are quite encouraging. I’ll have my third two-hour lesson tomorrow night. Ines Slater has some books on teaching typing that she will give me, and have the promise of a used standard size typewriter for native instruction. I guess that’s all of the latest.
I hear you will be here Sunday. I have a meeting at Waterford Center in the morning, dinner with Savages, and an evening engagement in Rochester. If you have any time outside of that, I’d love to talk to you. Maybe if you’d call Savages I could see you in the afternoon. Yours in Christ, Ione
Three days later, Ione writes to her friend Pearl who is now at Maganga:
My dearest Pearl,
My neglect of you has not been intentional I assure you. I have thought of you so much and missed you, too, for, coming back to the Mission Home in Philadelphia did not seem the same without you. I intended to write but have been doing too much I guess for when I sit down I go to sleep. For a few days I did nothing but sleep when I first came to Pontiac, and even now I feel that I never get enough. How tired you must be now. I wondered if you got the dress I had chosen for you when Hector passed out the dresses. I hope it was not too terribly large, and that I matched the hat Frances sent from Leo.
The trip over was not hard, tho, during the hurricane I was busy both day and night. This is perhaps why there are no letters describing her voyage home, unlike those she wrote on the voyage out. It was grand having Hector meet the boat, and I was so surprised I dropped the things I had in my hand. And in spite of my appearance (I was all bundled up in a skirt and sweaters!) he took me off to a nice hotel to eat. We helped the Westcott’s get off to her people in Pa., and then I let down. It seemed so strange having no one to take care of. I was in a daze, and I stayed in the daze until Hector had given me the love ring that I’m wearing! We had some grand days in Phila., and then I went down to Tenn. where Mother and Marcellyn are attending Bob Jones College. I came back in time to stay at Phila. a few days more and then go to N.Y. to see Hector off on our same boat. (This confirms the previous reference in Hector’s letter where the Captain remembers Miss Reed). It was hard seeing him for just such a short time, but the future looks bright and it’s so nice anticipating the wedding out there. I tho’t you could be my attendant, but now I hear you are coming the middle of May.
So many people have asked about you. After Hector left I was sick at Phila. for a few days with malaria, and Frances was there then and she showed me the letter you had sent about your needs there and the bad condition of the dispensary at first. The Pudneys felt quite blue about it. And when I came to Pontiac I found the Eunice Philatheas feeling badly, too. They had me come to a class meeting and talk to them about you. I read your funny Lashway poem and told them all the funny things you used to say, the nice times we had together and tried to explain your sickness. They are very sympathetic and want to do so much for you. The night they decided to get some things ready for me to take back to you when I come in August (?). But now you can receive them in person and they will be so glad to have you tell them all about it. Dr. was here ahead of me and had had a conference with the Board of Missions. I don’t know what was said, but several have asked me about why you are at Maganga. I just tell them as little as possible and stick to the truth. They do not blame you for anything. I have found that the less I refer to the difficulties, (this would suggest more than just Ellen’s illness) the better I get along. No one understands anyhow! It’s hard for folk here to have a conception of how things are out there.
Ione recounts her current programme of activities: relief teaching, the singer sewing lessons, French classes etc.
“There’s so much I want to do while I’m home that it’s hard to rest. I intend visiting Hector’s people in June. I had hoped to go there in Feb., but felt I should take advantage of this teaching experience. And the girls in Canada agree that June is a better month to spend there. I’m not really taking meetings like deputation, but there have been many places I have gone to greet them and give a short talk. I’ve averaged a meeting a day since I arrived. Funny how they count up.
Our life at Bongondza seems all a dream now. We had some grand times there together. I hope you get home before I go back and we can have a real talk about old times. I hope you can get to see our house once more before you leave. It seems so good that Hector’s room faces out on it. But I don’t suppose he’ll be there very long, he’ll probably be ‘chopping’ himself. I am wondering how long he will be at Bongondza. He seems to be getting along in Bangala. I get such a thrill out of the things he tells me and that he is experiencing some of the same things as we. I can see that it is a better for him to have had a head start and get used to things before we are married, but I surely wish I were there. I wish, too, that he could have waited for me, but he was so needed out there, I could not wish it otherwise really.
Folk here are wondering if you are coming home because of your health, or because your term is finished. Martha Johnson doesn’t say much, but she is a very wise woman, and seems to think a great deal of you. Mrs Savage is very sweet as usual. I am going to have dinner there tomorrow. Dr. Westcott is coming over for the day but is eating with Dr. Prevette. Ellen has gained about 16 pounds and does look better. She has a hearing apparatus now and new glasses. She seems awfully tired, but I believe is stronger. They live with Dr’s folks in Ypsilanti. His mother cannot walk and his father is blind in one eye. They have no one to help with the housework, so I guess it’s not too easy for Ellen. The children are fine, Charlotte and Bob have had their tonsils out and Anne has glasses. They are in the 1st, 5th, 7th grades. They did a lot of school work on the way home.
I don’t know whether you knew I am staying with Inez Slater, next to Pardee’s. She teaches high school; I have gotten a lot of good pointers from her. My Mother surprised me by going to college this year. She is taking pipe organ, piano, English, Bible, Psychology, and not doing badly. She and Marcellyn have an apartment. Doris was divorced from her husband and now has a diamond from someone else. I have not seen her yet, but she has promised to come here May 4 or 5. Lucille and her husband have a new church just outside of Lansing. I spent a week with them. You remember Phyllis Baldwin Appleton? She had a little luncheon for me one day. Her husband is in a hospital in England with frozen feet. She has a little boy; they lost one.
Weren’t you shocked to hear about our President? (Franklin D. Roosevelt) I listened to the radio every spare minute today and heard all about the funeral. It surely seems strange to have him die so suddenly. Sometimes the Lord has to knock away our human props to make us trust Him more. He has been so precious to me. Life seems very strange and mysterious these days, and I wonder how everything will turn out. But God is still on the throne and “where His finger points, His hand will make a way.” I have heard so many inspirational messages and such lovely music recently. It is good to be home once more.
I have never forgiven myself for giving you back that bill as I did. I’m sure the Lord would have taken care of my needs somehow. I am so sorry about it. How did you come out with finances? I read your recent letter and the cable which answered it. I wondered what your reaction would be to the cable. Well, we’ll talk about it when I see you. But write me now and maybe I’ll get it before you come. I know you’ll have a home if you come to Pontiac, so plan to stick around here a while. I think they will understand everything better if you stay a little while and fellowship with them. They really love you and want to see you.
Love to all the friends there. I haven’t forgotten Vee and Joan. I still love them. Greet them when you see them. Greet the Kerrigan’s, too. And tell the Carters to give the babies (Rosemary, Gordon, and Philip) a hug for me. Ask Betty if her dress fit.
On the 22nd April 1945, Pearl writes to Hector at Bongondza from Maganga, alludes to problems but glosses over the issues:
Did a woman ever go anywhere without forgetting something? Well, I usually forget some little thing. Perhaps, you thought it was to go out to the car when you left Stan. No, I didn’t forget that, I just decided not to. I thought that it was a rather pleasant memory to think that my last contact in Africa with U.F.M. people was with someone who said little but seemed to understand.
‘Nuf sed – Now for business.
I forgot to lock the big trunk I left in that house by the window. In fact didn’t even snap it. One snap is broken off completely. I feel free to ask you to care for it, for I know you will. You will find some heavy wire in that little room right off the verandah, under the cupboard, straight in from the door. Of course, it will not be strong like the other side but just so it holds. Then the lock just locks with a little bump. I’ll enclose the key, you can keep it until Ione comes or if you think best to give it to Ma Keri, do so. They are going to roof that house next so will be moving the things soon and I am glad to get this note through before mail day, so the trunk will be closed before natives upset everything. Thanks heaps for all your help and kindness. Must close now. May God bless you. In Him, Pearl
PS: Morning Sunday School lesson at Commidy’s – James 1:19-25. Good message for my homegoing.
Whatever has happened has left Pearl angry but she takes the message from James as the right approach to dealing with the issues. It is ‘strange’ that the mission leaders move Pearl from Bongondza as it is left without medical cover particularly when in the past Pearl deputised for the Doctor so ably. The hospital had a large catchment area and people of all nationalities travelled to receive care. Perhaps the leaders felt that by removing all personnel the message would resound locally and deter people from travelling in the hopes of receiving medical attention.
On the 30th April 1945, Ione writes to Bill Bierdeman, she had hoped to have met Doris’ prospective husband but the meeting has not occurred and Ione wishes to encourage a relationship with Bill, one that she did not seem to have with Doris’ first husband:
For some time I have been hearing about a certain “Bill”, and I am getting anxious to meet you. And I have seen your picture, so I feel that I almost know you. Doris has written a great deal and I suppose will have more to tell me when I see her tomorrow or the next day. I am getting very anxious to see her, and to see you, too, as I trust you will be coming up this way soon after she arrives.
As you perhaps know, since I came to Michigan soon after returning from the Belgian Congo, I have been teaching in the grade schools as a substitute. It has been an interesting work and has sort of taken the place of some college work I had planned to get. I have taught all grades from Kindergarten to the 5th grade. Today I taught a room where their teacher is getting married. She is 45, so that doesn’t make me feel so old to be getting married this fall. If my friend Hector was only here, perhaps we four could have a double wedding. We had planned our wedding for August, but it is to be in Africa. And Doris says you will be married here in August. It will be a nice time of year to be married.
How do you like New York? Do you get much opportunity to see it? I have taken the ferry boat rides around Staten and Ellis Islands. I stayed in the City during the last World’s Fair for seven weeks. The trio I sang with sang at the Fair in the Hall of Religion. It was fun and we had free tickets and stayed all day. Have you been to Chinatown? The Riverside Baptist Church has some beautiful carillon bells in the tower that you might like to see and hear. Have you been up in the Empire State Building?
Well, let me hear from you. You can stick a little note with Doris’ letter, maybe? Lovingly, Ione”
About this time of year, Hector writes to his family; as there are no shops in the Heart of Africa, mail order catalogues are the only way of purchasing gifts. Hector is obviously thinking ahead, probably to Christmas and realises there are things he doesn’t know about his family:
First of all, how are the children? I was looking through Montgomery-Ward’s catalogue this afternoon and in the section for children’s clothes there were different sized girls on each page and I was thinking about Joan and Audrey. Have they grown about 4” since I last saw them? I’m sure Dougie has anyway. Ione will soon be writing and telling me just how big they are. She was up visiting her sister Lucille in Northern Michigan and saying that the three children up there still prayed for Uncle Hector. She said she wanted to mean as much to my nieces and nephews. So after her visit I will want to hear from you just what has happened; how they went out walking with her and how she told them stories and sang for them —– etc.
What is Buster working at now? And is he working long hours or not? I often mention to folks about the trip I had through that aircraft factory. I think that the last letter I had from you in America mentioned that this company had another big contract. Tell him to jump in a plane and come out here and build a plant!!!
I’m expecting a letter from home soon. Ione was sorry that she had to change her plans about the visit to Canada. But it will still be alright in June. I do hope that she will have a time with Jean and probably will be able to help her spiritually. I do wish you could all come out to the wedding. I would like to have it in America but the Lord has seen fit to order things thus and it will receive His blessing just as well out here. I still can hardly believe that I am to be the bridegroom. I was reading in John 3 the other day and came upon this verse, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice…” I would count it quite a privilege to be the best man at Ione’s wedding!!!
Well dearie, I better close for this time. Someday I am going to attempt writing a decent letter to each one of the family. I feel as though I have neglected each of you so much in these last few years. But I trust you will try to keep me informed regarding your affairs and especially how the Lord is blessing your family. I still remember the night that the girls and Bill accepted the Lord. May they continue to read their Bibles.
Good-bye for now and may the Lord’s blessing be upon you until we are translated into His Heavenly Kingdom.
By the 2nd of May 1945, Ione finally knows that Hector has arrived safely, and she writes to Hector telling him of her reunion at long last with her sister Doris:
“My own Dearest,
No letters have come from you for several weeks, but knowing the Congo irregularities, I’ll not worry – – yet. Your latest letter assured me that you were in good health, and I trust you still are! Our Lord is still faithful and is “able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think.” He has been very precious to me as I wait upon Him in these days in the home town.
I have been in Pontiac nearly four months and have averaged a meeting a day with 29 young people professing conversion and 5 offering their lives for the mission field. The latest decision was made when I recently spoke in the church that Lucille and Maurice have just taken in Lansing. The girl is Esther’s 5th Grade teacher. She is a Christian, but believes God is calling her to be a missionary. I have had some grand times among young people.
Last night I had the joy of meeting Doris at the bus depot. She came in at midnight from California and we will be together for a few weeks. We were so thrilled that we just clung to one another and couldn’t say anything for a long time. It was a long journey and she did not take a sleeper, so I’m trying not to disturb her this morning (hence the pencil instead of the pen, which is in her room). I am not teaching today so we’re going to have a real talk when she wakens. We’ll have to make up for the past four years! She is planning to be married in August, and so far as I know he is not a Christian, but she says “he would make a good one”! She looks older, but not a great deal different. She seems more my age now and I feel we’ll have more in common than before.
Well, she’s waking up now, so I guess I’ll take time out.
I am waiting for a letter telling me of your impressions and feelings now that you have gotten to know the work and the people there. How do you think Mr and Mrs Hector McMillan will fit into the picture? I am getting very anxious to be Mrs McMillan. It is a big responsibility but the Lord will make me equal to it. I remember so many things now about you that I did not think of when we were together. You are so full of pep and energy and keen to get started on everything. And you are so strong in physique and character. I know that you’re going to be the kind of husband that I’ve always dreamed I’d have. Please tell me more about everything out there.
I had a grand letter from both Vee and Joan, as well as Keri. So far as I know I am still planning to come out in August, tho’ I’ve not heard from Mr Pudney on the matter. I expect to see your dear ones in just a few weeks now. I had a lovely letter from Alice yesterday. I am enclosing some things of interest to you
“Singing is sweet, but be sure of this,
Lips only sing when they cannot kiss.”
Very lovingly yours, Ione”
On the 6th May 1945, Ione shares with her mother and Marcellyn some of what she and Doris have been doing and Doris adds a short post script:
“Dearest Mother and Marcellyn,
Well, Doris really arrived on Tuesday and we’ve been gabbing ever since. It’s grand to be with her again. She seems quite like she used to be, same comical remarks and affectionate ways. We had dinner with Bertha Lefurgy on Wednesday night and had such a good time. Doris played her funny stuff on the piano and crowed like a chicken and grunted like a pig, and I could almost hear you laughing like you used to! Mrs Lefurgy had a swell dinner with strawberry shortcake ‘neverything. Then afterward we all went down to prayer meeting and it was communion week. In back of us sat Mrs Barker and Eddie, just returned; also Miles Prestel, just returned from Italy. There were so many old friends there and afterward they just besieged Doris with greetings. She said she wished Bill had been there to see how nice they were to her. And Mr Prince was there and guess who was with him, Mr Presnell. I was glad he was holding meetings in Ralph Compson’s church in Big Rapids. And I believe he will be at Marimont the last of this month, tho’ I’m not sure.
Last night Inez and Doris took me to the high school for my French lesson and they wrote letters until I was thru. Then we came home and had a nice snack in the breakfast nook. Doris is still sleeping this A.M., and I’m not teaching. She was quite tired from the long journey, she made it in 2-1/2 days. When she got off the bus here at midnight, neither of us could say much we were so glad to see each other. By the time we were thru hugging all the other passengers had gotten off and were standing around looking at us. And she was so dizzy and weak she could hardly walk. She had been carrying heavy bags and it made her dizzy. But she GOT here and is getting rested up now. Tonight she is going with me to Detroit where I speak at a missionary meeting. We’ll have supper there. Tomorrow she’ll go with me for rifle range practice, where I’ll learn to shoot the gun that Mr Bemis got for me to shoot snakes with in Africa. Then Sunday she’ll go with me to Silvercrest first, then while I speak at Central Christian Church she’ll go in the business girl’s class at 1st Bapt., then we’ll take a bus to Berkley where I speak in the evening; we’ll stay overnight there. Then on Mon. we are singing a duet at Highway Heralds. She has been taking lessons and her voice is much nicer than it has ever been before. We are so anxious to get together with Marcellyn. When can she come? And when will you be coming? We are going to several Mother and Daughter banquets and they always ask if you can’t possibly be there.
Mrs Sly is hoping you will be here to go out to her house when I go on May 19, to stay overnight and go with her the next morning (Sun.) to the Lake Orion church. Then at 6 P.M. the 20th I speak at Dorr Fockler’s church. I am thinking of going to Ypsi on the 21st instead of the 14th, because I can get in a few more days of teaching that way. The last week of school I probably will not be needed. If you did not wish to come to Pontiac, as you said once, you could meet me in Ypsi on the 21st. The Westcott’s are keen to meet you and that would be a good chance. I’m sure they would have room and I am writing them of the possibility. Please let me know soon.
And about your summer plans? Lucille said she suggested her DVBS for the month of June. How did that sound to you? Better I’ll bet than my proposition. And anyway, I hear that the Westcott’s may go to Penn. in June. But I do want to go to summer school there if I can for six weeks anyway, and Doris thinks she would like to go with me. We haven’t decided for sure, but so much depends upon what you will be doing. We could all come to Lansing and go to the College there, but Ypsi isn’t far off, and if you were at Lucille’s we could come over on weekends. And I want to visit Aunt Katie, and the other friends and relatives and maybe we could all go together.
How do the finances stand? Can you take your exams? I surely hope so. You’ve surely had a hard time getting thru. And I wonder how a T-bone steak would taste when we get together? We’ll have to have some nice times to make up for all you missed.
It just doesn’t seem the same in Pontiac to not have our home and our Mother here. If you can’t take the exams better just come along and join us. Mrs Gilson took me to Matamora last Sunday and we had the nicest time together, and saw Mary Louise Green, too. Well, she wants you to come out there again when you get back. She wants us all to come out for all day. Mrs Doyle, too, when she gets settled in her home at Elizabeth Lake.
Now tell us what you want to do and we’ll plan it all together. Doris might go with me when I go to Canada for a few weeks in June.
I’ll leave a space for her to write, too.
Lovingly yours in Christ, Ione
Dear Mother & Marcellyn,
Ione and I are at the post office right now and on our way to Detroit to a meeting. It surely is wonderful to be home and I’m very anxious to see you both. I’ll write a long letter tomorrow. Love, Doris”
On the same day, Ione writes to Mr Pudney:
Dear Mr Pudney,
It does not seem possible that nearly five months have passed since we arrived in New York. That time has gone so quickly that I feel that the next few months will go equally as fast. The Lord has been very precious to me during these months which have been perhaps more refreshing than resting as yet.
My little (tho bigger than I) sister has arrived from California and we are happily occupying our time together. I’ve not been teaching for a few days and we spend most of our time talking. She is going with me to a great number of meetings and perhaps may make the journey with me to Canada in June.
I am asking for advice now: Do you think that after six weeks of summer school which ends July 27th I could get sufficient rest to endeavour to return to the Congo sometime in August? Have you heard whether air travel is possible, and the times of departure? And can one be assured that she will not be held in this country for war purposes?
These questions have been going thru my mind. The Sup’t of Schools has offered me a regular teaching position for the coming year, but I have told him that I expect to be returning to the Congo this fall.
Some time ago the enclosed account was printed in “Gospel Echoes”, our church publication. I don’t know whether you received a copy of the paper; in case you didn’t you may wish this for “Light and Life” sometime. In Christ, Ione”
Ione is in full organisational mood and also writes to the Westcott’s at the same time:
“Dear Doctor, Ellen and ABC,
After studying carefuly the bulletin which you sent, I wrote letters to Wheaton and Moody asking that my credits be transferred. I am wondering about high school credits, too. Will they be needed? I can pick them up here. The reason for my long delay was my desire to talk to Doris about her summer plans first. She arrived this week on Tuesday night and we have had a grand reunion. I think she is pretty keen to stick with me most of the summer and it is mutual I am sure. She was quite thrilled with the prospect of coming with me to summer school and taking private voice from Mr Lindegren; she would like to work part time, tho’ she doesn’t have to work, too. She is not definitely sure she will come but is thinking seriously about it and wants to write to her fiancée about it. They are planning to be married around Aug. 12, when he graduates from the school he’s attending on Hoffman Island, N.Y. He will be an Ensign then in the Marines. He is not a Christian, but apparently has many fine qualities.
The Sup’t of Schools told me the other day that my teaching is OK and he can offer me a regular job in the fall. If I were sure I could not get out in the fall to the field I would be tempted to accept a contract. I have enjoyed this time of teaching, tho’ it takes a great deal out of one’s nervous system! I’ve had all grades from Kindergarten to 5th, including Primary Orthopaedics. I haven’t been teaching for three days now and appreciate the rest and the time with Doris. Poor kid, she’s had some tough experiences. But she seems to be coming out on top. She’s learned a great deal, tho’ it’s been the hard way. She’s been taking vocal (classes) out west and we’ve been singing duets. She is going with me on a number of speaking engagements.
I have a number of dates the next couple of weeks to go out doing rifle range with Mr Bemis. He is a nice married man with a big girl who is interested to teach me how to shoot the guns he has bought for me. He still wants to know if there is a limit of the number of shells that can enter the Congo, and if I can get a paper stating that it is all right to take the guns in. I registered my pistol the other day at the police station, can received a nice holster for it with additional pockets on the right-hand side for the harness-like thing for extra shells and handcuffs, but instead of hand-cuffs I’ll put a drinking cup. Imagine my using such a contraption. Well, we shall see!
Tell Ellen I found the two tennis shoes that match the odd ones she has. And I found the patterns we had made of the rag dolls. I will bring them when I come. And did she find her copies of the stories of hymns? It seems I have hers, too, but I’m not sure.
I was happy to hear that Anne has been baptized. Tell her to write to me if she’s not too busy.
Hector is staying in the Jenkinson’s guest room and seems to be getting along allright. The ants had started to get into my trunk so he moved them out. They put some things in the sun for a while. I had given Hector the key to my big one, so he got the ants out of the inside and fixed my clock that was broken. He’s been playing the records on my Victorola. He pulled a tooth the other day. He was going to make a trip to Ekoko with Keri. I had a letter from Vee and Joan. I had sent some dresses for them with Hector and they thanked me.
Have you heard anything from London or Phila about the constitution or covenant? I’m going to stay a night at the Toronto headquarters around the 29th of this month.
Well, I hope you are all well. Give the family a big hug for me. I surely do miss you all. I shall never forget our happy times together.
Lovingly in Christ, Ione
PS: Marimont Church wants to help me get together a number of things for medical or dispensary needs wherever I will be. Any suggestion?”
The 11th May 1945 sees Ione dropping yet another letter to her mother:
Just a little note as Mother’s Day is approaching to let you know that I am thinking of you and loving you. Perhaps sometimes I seem to neglect you, but I still care for you. This has been hard and unusual year for you, and the Lord has been proving His goodness in many ways I am sure. Be assured that I have been praying for you each day.
Last night Doris and I went to the Central Christian church, where I gave a message to 150 mothers and daughters. We had a nice time, and many, many people asked about you. Janice cried when I talked to her about the old times and Lucille. Mrs Leffel sat next to me and was in charge of the program. Mrs Mader was toastmistress and did very well.
I am looking forward to the 23rd with real excitement. I have been wondering what Marcellyn’s plans are for the summer. I am waiting with my plans to try to fit them in with everybody’s, for I want to be with my family wherever they are. I have a handful of letters asking for meetings and am undecided about a time when I can take them. And then there is summer school. Doris is trying to get temporary work here.
But whenever you come, I know we will get together somehow. I have tried to call you four times since Doris has been here. We tried the first night and two other days, but could never get the circuit connected. Yesterday I was very anxious to find out if you had the money to take your exams, but there was no answer first, and then the circuit was not free. So I tho’t I would send you just as much as I could spare and pray that it would meet some need, somehow.
I am not teaching now, but have just received a check from a few weeks back, and when I cash that I will send you and Marcellyn the money to come home on. So don’t be concerned about coming home.
Here’s a little poem I want you to have on Mother’s Day:
If I were hanged on the highest hill
I know whose love would follow me still;
If I were drowned in the deepest sea
I know whose tears would come down on me;
If I were damned in body and soul;
I know whose prayers would make me whole.
MOTHER O’ MINE! MOTHER O’MINE!
Now don’t work too hard and get yourself too tired. Just keep hanging on and you’ll soon be thru! We were happy about the nice things they are doing for you down there. And the article was grand. I am enclosing it. How was the visit with Kent? Anything like another diamond in the future? Lovingly in Christ, Ione Acts 20:24 (However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.)”
As both Leone Reed and her daughter Marcellyn are studying full time, money is always an issue and is probably a significant reason why Ione has not seen as much of her mother as she would like during this furlough and is desperate to organise a family gathering. On the 22nd May 1945, Ione writes to them and includes a cheque saying:
“Just a hurried note to send with the cheque. I am sending $40, and I hope that will be enough for both. If it isn’t, please wire and I’m sure we can send more.
The plan for staying at Lansing seems like a good one, and I am investigating possibilities of going to summer school there. I have also written to see if we could have Barbara Acre’s apartment when they leave in a few weeks. It accommodates four with bunk beds, has a living room, dining room and kitchenette. But I am not sure they will rent it to any except students. Will know soon.
Doris said at first she would come to Lansing, then when she was offered a job at General Printing she accepted it, so is going to stay here at Inez’s for a while. She might join us a little later, but for now she thinks she will stay here, and come there some weekends. She has Sat. afternoon off and can take a train in the afternoon.
Bill is coming Fri. night the 25th and we three are going to Lansing Sat. afternoon and come back the same night. I have meetings at Clarkston and Owosso on Sun. and a meeting in Detroit Mon. night, but can come back to Lansing to see you all on Tuesday and stay until Thurs. We can make plans then and see about an apart. I want to enrol at the school then. Doris can’t come until the following weekend. And I’ll be leaving Thurs. night, the 31st for Canada. So that’s the way things are here. It doesn’t look like we can come to G.R., but I’ll see you in Lansing Tues. and Doris will see you Sat, the 2nd.
I am invited to Mrs Savage’s for lunch today. Doris and I are singing at prayer meeting tomorrow night. Friday night I go to Romeo. I haven’t been teaching for nearly a month.
We’ll strike up a band and wave the flags and all that when we have our grand reunion! It’ll be so thrilling to all get together.
Until we meet, Lovingly, Ione
Despite World War 2 impacting on their lives so much, there is no mention in Ione and Hector’s letters written around that time of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) which fell on the 8th May 1945, President Harry Truman’s birthday. The President dedicated this day to his predecessor Franklin D Roosevelt. The day was duly noted and celebrated on the mission station in the heart of Africa because Mary Carter writes the following on the 13th June:
Jim is using the typewriter so I hope you’ll understand my scrawl. Herewith the snaps taken at VE day. Thought you’d like a garden group too even tho you aren’t on it.
Trust you still get good news from Ione. Are you talking Bangala fluently yet? Our folk are getting on well with their Kingwana tho of course it is more difficult than Bangala.
Rosemary and Gordon had their second birthday party last week. They enjoyed trying to blow out the candles on their cake.
Well cheerio for the present
Greeting from us all. Mary Carter.
In the May/ June edition of Light and Life, the mission’s magazine, the following article penned by Hector is published:
“BELGIAN CONGO – Arrived – Unannounced
By Rev. Hector McMillan
The Lord has wonderfully answered prayer and I am sure that all things have worked out to His glory.
It would have been a rare sight for you to have been standing behind a tree, watching Mr Kerrigan when the car drove into the yard here a week ago last Thursday. He had no idea that I had even left America. Just now I have been rehearsing the event with him as he sits at the other desk here in Mr Jenkinson’s office. I take it that he is writing you a more graphic account than I can ever hope to give.
We quickly became the best of friends and these past few days have given me experiences and contacts that usually do not fall to missionaries until they have been on the field for some months. If I could have had fever this week the catalogue would have been complete. I arrived on Thursday, started language study on Monday and went out on trek on Tuesday, sleeping two nights in native villages, and enjoying the unique privilege of a close link between a prayer-meeting in America and the subjects of prayer on the field. I regret one thing, namely that each one of the prayer partners is not here to see what wonders the Lord hath wrought. I am left with this fact searching my heart. It is fairly easy to preach the truths of salvation and see results but then who is there to travail until Christ be formed in these converts.
The work here on the station is all very interesting, that is, outside of language study time. Last Sunday was especially impressive, when Miss Joan Pengilly’s boys and Miss Walker’s girls marched up in front of the church, in their various modes of dress. They cast curious glances at this new white man who had just arrived from a far-off land. To show their appreciation, the girls sang a little song that Ione taught them. The service was taken by Mr Kerrigan and even though I knew only a few words, his actions spoke louder than words! The God of the impossible was illustrated by Christ feeding the five thousand and Peter walking on the water.
This morning brought two interesting events. One was the hiring of my first houseboy whose name means “this man is all right”. The other was a man who came to have his sore tooth pulled out. It was a back molar, and fortunately quite loose. It was my first attempt so I was grateful for Mr Kerrigan’s encouragement. The payment is to be a chicken ! !
Language study is a lot easier when one hears it spoken all the time. I’m always asking Mr Kerrigan what he says to the boys and their reply. We have our lesson usually after breakfast. Then the cars have come in for a bit of repair. It is very handy here since Mr Jenkinson had a platform built out beyond the end of the garage.
It will be a great day when this field is fully staffed. There is plenty of work for all, so we will continue to ask the Lord to lay the burden on many hearts.
Hector writes to Ione on 2nd June 1945, from Bongondza. Parts of the letter are missing, presumably chewed by mice. Hector wants to write one letter to Ione at Avonmore, but the letter doesn’t reach her whilst she is visiting and is forwarded on to Pontiac. Hector tries to imagine what it is like for Ione at Avonmore:
“I have been thinking much about you and what you are doing just now. It will be such a thrill for my folks to meet you. The farm will seem strange to you at first but I hope that you will be able to walk all up and down the spacious fields and lanes where I spent so many years of my life. Dad will be showing you all the things that Hector made. But don’t believe it all! Archie will try to keep him to the truth in all his story-telling. Jean will be glad that you were able to change your visit from Feb. to June. If I were there we would have a JUNE wedding instead of Sept. (boyo te?) (isn’t that so?).
And just to think that the mail came last week and there were no letters for me. Everybody seemed so sorry. (Hector’s lack of mail seems to be of high interest amongst the missionaries as Jim Carter writes to Hector in a short pencil scribbled note thanking him for sharing a story about how he met Ione and ends with – Trust the evening mail brings you reams.) But I wrote in my diary that it isn’t Ione’s fault if the mail is slow. However I did get something – rather eased the pain. I had sent a roll of film down with Pearl and prints came back. They turned out quite well. I rather think that I’ll make three of each, one for herself, one for you and one for me. I had planned on sending you one at least, but the weight would mean there would be just a short note on a tiny piece of paper, so I will do what I surmise is right. There is a good one of the bus arriving (part of letter is chewed away) Chester and Dolena looking out the window, school boys and girls (part of letter is chewed away) and Pearl standing nearby and Keri walking toward the bus. I (part of letter is chewed away) down for extra prints and will try to send a set to Pudneys.
We are all wondering just what is doing over in America. Every time I expect to hear of the decisions reached in the council meetings. (part of letter is chewed away) all come sooner or later. Kinsos will be the first of the station parties to leave. Sometime in July I think they said.
Joan is back here again. I took Kinso’s car to meet the (part of letter is chewed away) last Thurs. She looks a little better but the doctor says that she is to have two or three month’s rest up in the Kivu. It isn’t so bad that she will have to go home. She is afraid now that she will miss the wedding.
This is about the length of my say-so. All my love, Hector X”
By the 5th June 1945, Ione is in Canada visiting her prospective in laws and friends but in truth she would rather be with her mother as she writes:
It was so hard to leave you in Detroit. I felt I should not, and I still feel that way, tho’ I don’t know how else to contact these folk over here. There are so many things I should have talked over with you yet, before leaving. It seems our time together as yet has been very insufficient. I was thinking about you Monday eve and wondering how your meeting came out. I was wondering, too, if you stayed in Pontiac until Monday.
I sent a letter to you and Doris which should have arrived in Pontiac Monday. In case you were not there then I will say a little about what I have been doing. I went to Dunnville the same day that I arrived in Toronto, and stayed one night with Hector’s sister Alice. She has four lovely children and her husband teaches Math in high school. They were grand to me and I know I shall enjoy their fellowship in years to come.
Sunday was rather busy, because I spoke in two places, attended a third and had supper in the home of one of the members. In the little Sunday school where I spoke in the afternoon there were 13 children accepted Christ. Another man spoke as well as I, however, so the credit no doubt goes to him. Yesterday I took care of Goodman’s little boy Harding at the Mission Home (UFM) in the morning, and came out here in the afternoon. I am with Frances Longley, who was a dear friend of mine on the field. She is such a tonic to me, and I am enjoying my stay very much. She is with her mother and father now. This afternoon we will go in to Toronto, an hour’s ride, and attend the Day of Prayer at the Mission Home. I will speak a few words there. Then tonight I leave for Montreal. I hope I have a letter waiting for me from you!
I love you so much, Mother. I’m afraid I failed to express it when I was with you. I have been living within myself so much that I have not let it out for a long time. X Much love, Ione”
Whilst Ione is happy to be doing ‘the Lord’s work’, it does come at a cost, the ones suffering most being family. It must have been difficult for Ione to balance ‘dutiful daughter’ with ‘dutiful missionary’. As seen in her letters, Ione rarely voices her concerns out loud. Ione must have received a letter of reassurance from her mother as the next letter, written on 9th June 1945 reveals:
I did appreciate hearing from you and thank you for writing here. Since then I have heard from Marcellyn and Doris and was glad to learn that Marcellyn had come back with Doris. I am anxious to come back so that we can all be together again. Will you be able to be with me when D.V.B.S. is finished?
By now I have met all the sisters except one and have seen all of the nieces and nephews. They are very nice folk and I’m happy to meet them. I came here on Wed. the 6th, and Irene met me. We knew one another immediately and came right out to her beautiful apartment where I met her little girl Barbara. Eleanor, the youngest sister was taking care of the little girl, but left for work immediately (it was 8:30 A.M.). I spent last evening and today with Florence & three children. We went on a picnic on Mt. Royal (see picture) and I got a nice suntan. I will go to Avonmore Tuesday afternoon, the 12th & leave for Pontiac & Lansing on Friday, the 15th. Have a supper date with Mar. & Doris for Sat. P.M. Be seeing you. Lovingly in Christ, XXXXX Ione”
The next letter from her mother must have been censorious as Ione writes on 11th June apologising:
I tho’t you’d like a note before I left Montreal. The sisters have been lovely to me, and I anticipate meeting the last one tomorrow night.
I presume your DVBS is beginning by now. I’ll be praying for you. God is able to give you real showers of blessing.
I am sorry that I have been disloyal to you. I surely did not mean to, and hope I will not be in the future. Perhaps when I get some facts straight I will understand the situation a little better. And I hope it is clear to you that when I received money and did not send it to you & Marcellyn, it was not because anyone had anything against you but because they wanted it to go to foreign missions. It’s so easy to have misunderstandings, isn’t it? And being separated doesn’t help. But no matter how many dumb blunders I have made, I love you. You will always be my beautiful Mother who is always right. I’ll be seeing you soon. X In Him, Ione”
There are no records of letters written during Ione’s first visit to Avonmore, however, in 1964, Ione wrote the following:
“THEIR BROTHER HECTOR
Hector’s sisters were always like my own sisters, from the time we first met. It was after Hector had gone out to Congo for the first time and I was waiting for my first furlough to end so that I could go out to be married to him.
In June, 1945, I took the train to Avonmore, Ontario, from my home in Pontiac, Michigan, to visit Jean, unmarried, and her brother Archie, also unmarried, and the old father, lovingly called, “D.L.”, as his name was Daniel Lochiel (pronounced with a hard ‘c’).
The eighty-acre farm was situated one-half mile west of town. My train arrived at the station on the north side. It was necessary for Archie to meet me with the family car.
No one was on the platform when I stepped out of the train, but the fast-moving engine was scarcely out of sight when the brakes of a car were applied, rather abruptly, and I had my first glance of Archie of Avonmore.
During my brief stay in that small town I learned that there were many other Archie’s but Hector’s brother was to me the one special Archie of Avonmore.
The gleam of Archie’s warm brown eyes and the white collar and tie which I was given to notice, was evidence that the girl his brother Hector had chosen was someone special to Archie.
From that time on, whenever I talked to Archie, the happy gleam was in his eyes, which made him look very handsome. So handsome, that I wrote Hector saying, “I think he is even better looking than you, Hector.”
Archie is tall, like Hector, but not so thin, getting bald, also like Hector, and 10 years older, but just as strong and energetic.
Jean, who met us at the door of the white-frame house, had the same lovely brown eyes, and a lively personality which was necessary to keep a motherless home normal. The house was a pleasant place to visit. Its big comfortable kitchen became the reception room for many visitors during my stay in Avonmore. Hector’s relatives and friends were gentle, with a sly Scottish wit that aroused in me the memory of a few good jokes which I knew and told. And there was genuine fun and laughter. When there were no visitors I enjoyed watching the milking at the red barn, then following Archie to the milk house where the cans of warm milk were plunged into the cool water to await their trip to the railroad station. I stood at the carriage shed and watched the horses being hitched, learning little by little what Hector was like.
Jean was a school teacher having left her previous work as deaconess with the United Church in New Brunswick because of her father’s failing health. She took me the next day to the fourth grade and I saw how much her students loved her; and she drove me in the car to meet all the nearby relatives, brothers and sisters of the aging father and dead mother. Many cousins, many Archie’s, many Alex’s, many McMillan’s, McElheran’s, McDougall’s, and McLean’s, good Scotch Canadian folk descended from John McMillan who migrated from Caliche, Scotland in 1804.
The name McMillan, or more properly spelled MacMillan, came from the Gaelic name, MacGhilleMhaolain. The armorial bearings of the clan contain a rampant lion, and on the crest badge is a “dexter and a sinister hand brandishing a two-handed sword.”
I learned that the McMillan motto under the sword of the crest was taken from Virgil, Book 1, line 630 and means, “I have learned to run to the aid of those in distress.”
I noticed that although Hector and his father spelled their last name with a Mc, that Jean and Archie used Mac. (It is said that on the milk cans they spelled it McMillan to save money.)”
On the 3rd August 1945, Pearl is on her way home and writes to Hector from Matadi:
Just a note to say “Till we meet again.” Thanks heaps for the picture of Ione & yourself. It sure is a good one. I got her a native made purse with the money you gave me. I wanted something “African-Maid”. Didn’t you? Hope you got the pictures O.K. I put the change that was left into the price of Ione’s gift from you. Thanks for fixing my trunk. If the two locks are there yet, you may have them. I’ll take your love to Ione special delivery. May God bless & keep you. Yours in Him. Pearl”
On the 9th August, Ione, once again in Pontiac, writes to Hector’s sister Jean: “Dear Jean,
At last a letter from your wayward sister-to-be! It is a pity that I have let this summer pass without a word to you. And I did so badly want you to come and see me. School was a busy time and those six weeks speeded past before I knew it. And now we are hurrying to get ready for a trip to see a number of relatives. Mother and Marcellyn and I will be gone about three weeks and then I shall have one week to pack for leaving for the field. I’ll not go immediately, but am sending my things to the coast and taking deputation meetings until sailing time. I would have been happy to share our little room with you and I’m sure you would not have minded being along part of the time, but with school during the day and speaking engagements at night I don’t know when we could have gotten together! I’m so sorry that I did not try to arrange SOME way. Please forgive me. I do love you ever so much and I want my family to meet you. Mother was disappointed not to meet more of Hector’s family. But perhaps she will have that privilege later. She said that if she has a home again she will have you there. Since her year at college she has felt rather stranded, but she hopes to get settled somewhere by the time I go. (Leone Reed has experienced a major life upheaval over the last three years, Ione sails for Africa, she is forced to move out of the family home and live in rented accommodation and now Ione is back in the USA for a year, they can only meet in friends’ houses – ‘felt rather stranded’ underplays the trauma of this experience.)
I have not heard from Hector for some time. His most recent letter told of his taking meetings and speaking in the native language. He must be quite fluent by now. I do hope to be on my way there early in October. I will not go to Belgium first. My sister Marcellyn has applied to this same Mission and is a candidate now for the Congo. She would love to go when I go, but I am not sure whether she can go yet.
The time spent with you all is a pleasant memory to me. I do thank you for all you did. You gave me a wonderful time. Greet Dad and Archie. I can still visualize him trying to flag down the wrong train for me! Well, it got me there, anyway didn’t it?
Please write and tell me some news. I presume you had better write me from now on c/o UFM, 1150 N. 63rd St. Phila. Pa. They will forward it to me. Lovingly yours in Christ, Ione”
On the 17th August, 1945, Hector starts his letter with a series of ‘xxxx’s’ and writes:
“Not the hurried kind like the last one at Pier 38, but rather like the one on New Year’s Eve ! ! ! ! ! !”
This isn’t going to be very long but I will try and make it sweet. Where will you be when you get this, or will you be reading my carbon copy of it???? These and many other questions are pressing into my mind these days, Days and Daze. If only some of your letters could get through to me. The courier came in late last Wed, but the Kinsos opened it and sent my mail over with the runner, at 10:45. I struggled into wakefulness and answered his call at “our” front door. The flashlight was handy, so I was not long in getting the handful of letters and magazines. It looked encouraging, so I decided to light your little lantern. But these Congo Matches?? ! ! ! The heads of them wear off, they break, they sparkle, probably every tenth one; they do everything but light. Well, one did at last. And then a hasty look through the letters. One from IONE??????????? ….Not yet. But there was one from Jean, written last May and telling me about your plans. And that helped a little bit.
Did you get my two word cable in time for your birthday party? I hope they didn’t put all the candles on the cake. What a sized cake it would have to be ! ! ! But never mind, Ione, I like them old and mellow, the latter word meaning soft. The other day I was going to fix Viola’s watch strap, and so we traded watches. They seemed to be about the same size so we held them near each other to see for sure. And then as I felt her soft arm I realized that I hardly touched anyone since last January. Girls are such lovely creatures, at least the one I’m going to marry. I’m glad I had five sisters. And don’t you think they are nice ! ! ! ! They have all been so good to me, and they all love you.
Well, honey, it is almost ten o’clock and I imagine I hear you calling from the bed room that it is time to have our devotions and get to sleep. And so I will ! ! !
Saturday, August 18….
Almost supper time. Will be going over to Kinsos, Viola too, and after supper we will be having a station meeting, of which I am the sec’y (secretary). Kinso just gave me a haircut, rather short, said he is glad you are not able to see it! ! May write more if mail is delayed, LOVE X Hector
PS: (Just another note 9:20 p.m.) Good meeting – decided that Joan should have this house & I move over to Doc’s house; Kinso is going up to Ekoko for two weeks. I’m working on a machine to make roofing tiles.
Houses on the mission stations acquire names like ‘the Doc’s house’ depending on who had first residency, and they seem to remain with the name even if the ‘Doc’ is no longer in the country or resident; it never becomes ‘Hector’s House’.
Ione, back in the States is still moving around, taking meetings and drumming up support for mission work. She writes on the 14th September, 1945, from Columbus to her mother:
I received the letter which you forwarded here and do thank you ever so much. The time until now was pretty rushing, including yesterday, but now I can catch my breath. Mr Hill met me at Monroe (I JUST made my train in Detroit!), and after I arrived at Erie with him they let me take a nice nap and I slept until nearly supper time. The evening meeting was fine and well attended by mostly ladies, since it was a ladies’ class which sponsored it. Afterward we all went downstairs for ice cream and coffee. The offering was $25.00 and that will be sent to the U.F.M. The church organist gave me $10 personally for wedding things which I will keep. I had to be in Toledo by 12:16, so one of the girls who lived in Toledo drove me and I was met in Cleveland at 2 A.M. by Mr Bates and Mrs, too! We didn’t get to bed until around 3:30, but slept late in the A.M., got up just in time to eat and get to the church by 10. We had a blessed time and the prayer time was especially inspirational, for they had a system of reading letters and requests from different missionaries and spent considerable time in prayer for them. After I spoke we had a potluck dinner and then went as a group to the funeral of a dear Christian woman whom I had known for many years. The evening service was fine and well attended. Their offering was $50 and that will go to U.F.M. I take out my expenses, however. I do praise the Lord for his blessings. I left Cleveland the following morning on the 8:01 train and slept all the way to Columbus, arriving here at 11:15. Their meeting was at 1:30 so there was not much time, and then there was choir practice at night. I am singing the solo part in a number Sunday A.M. the fellowship with Howard and Lucille and Virginia is grand. Today is a free day and I have taken a bath and washed my clothes and now am keeping the typewriter busy.
I have just had a letter from Mr Pudney and the suitcase has arrived, too, with the writing materials in. Evidently when my night letter went to him the Western Union left out the part about where to send the trunks, etc., but when my letter reached him he found out that I had asked that, too. He says, “No doubt you have your goods packed in readiness to be sent whenever required. They could probably stay where they are for the time being and either sent here or expressed direct to the dock at a future date: this way would save expense.” I am sure that it is a good idea, but I am wondering how we can leave them at Inez, since that box and barrel are too large to take into the house easily, and we will not want the stuff left outside for any length of time. I will write to Inez about it and will suggest that they be taken to the church basement and stored until I know what dock to send them to. If the church has no room they will have to be sent to the home in Phila.
Mr Pudney has suggested that I come to Phila. after the meeting of the 30th, unless other meetings materialize. He wants me to present my passport to the Consulate before Oct. 10th. I am hoping to be able to send for you to come sometime around then. Do you think you will be free then?
Write me as soon as you can. I’ll be anxious to know what you are doing. Mr Pudney said that Mr Jenkinson said that Hector is very blue because no mail is getting thru from the states now. I’m going to get out a cable to him today. I’m ashamed for writing so little.
Loads of love to all, In Him, Ione
On 21st September, 1945, Hector writes to Ione’s sister Lucille and her husband, it is evident he is longing for Ione to join him:
“Dear Lucille and family,
Wish you could come and visit me in my big house and drive away a little of the loneliness. But very, very soon your sweet little sister will do all that and we will be able to write to you in one envelope. I can hardly wait to hear that she has left America. It is 8 months since I kissed her goodbye. I still think back to the grand time we had running around New York. What a place to have a courtship. But if people thought we were a little too much in love, that’s alright, they only saw us once. How much did Ione tell you about what went on in the SIM home? She had better not let out too much or I will have another candidate period in the mission!
Her letters were so long delayed for several months. The airmail was held up in West Africa so it was neither coming nor going. But that is all over now and it is so nice to be getting regular news. I got five of her delayed letters all in one mail. It was almost too much love to take at one time after so long a fast. She is such a sweet girl and I long to carry her across the threshold. We should be pretty happy, when she is both so pretty and so happy. All my folks were so much in love with her right from the start. I was so glad she was able to visit them all.
How is your new pastorate coming along? I will be so glad to hear about it the next time you write. Could you send along a picture of the family or is Ione bringing one? Give Ruthie a big hug for me, and if you have any strength left you could divide it between Esther and Lawrence.
I just love the work out here. So far I have been very healthy. I have a good lad for a cook. He has been with me all the time. I just go out to work and hardly ever tell him what to get for the meals. He seems to know that I have a good appetite. He makes lovely bread. I keep telling him how much Ione will teach him when she comes. All the natives here love her and almost every day you hear someone praying for her soon return.
The next letter I write will likely be telling about the wedding, so I will save all my big words for that event.
May the Lord continually bless you, In Christ, Hector
Ione writes to her mother on 26th September 1945, whilst in transit to Bluefield. The tone suggests Ione has a lot occupying her mind and a lot to do before going back to Congo:
I received your third airmail just before leaving Frankfort. It was a pleasant week, the highlight I’m sure was that Marcellyn (not Marcellyn Reed) accepted Christ in the meeting at Louisville Sunday. Grace drove me there and while I was at supper with Mr Cauble and speaking at young people’s meeting after, Grace and Marcellyn and another lady were visiting Norma, a girlfriend of Grace. Then Norma’s boyfriend (she is divorced from her husband) and Norma and her little girl Shirley came to the service with Grace, etc. I knew it would be an opportunity to speak plainly concerning salvation so chose the same message I used in the Unity Church in Antigo about God’s Surety”. It makes much of sin and God’s provision for sin; I included dancing and drinking among other sins. Marcellyn and Shirley sat in the front row, and were very attentive. When the invitation was given, I watched them, and both looked as tho’ they wanted to raise their hands. Marcellyn got her hand as far as her ear, then the top of her head, but not really up. So while the pastor was closing in prayer, I slipped down and talked to both and both accepted Christ, praying the publican’s prayer. Marcellyn had been asking many questions in the car about sin, and since her daddy’s death has been concerned about herself, Grace said. I told her plainly in the car that she needed to accept Christ and everyone kept still while I talked to her. So she knew what she had to do. Her Mother said she reads her Bible quite regularly, so I hope she will keep it up, and pray. I had no chance to talk to Brandt, for he always slipped away and was gone somewhere.
It has been a busy time here, spoke at three school groups yesterday and today, and have been trying to get caught up on some office work. Grace brought me as far as Lexington today and I will get a train overnight to Bluefield from Cincinnati. I had a rushing time of it going to Pittsburgh and back in three days last week and they don’t give sleepers now for less than 400 miles, so have had several nights of sitting up. But this week was restful.
Thanks for washing the dirty clothes I left. Glad you had opportunities to speak in Lansing. Am glad too that your cold is better now. I have had splendid news from Hector. He is well and has moved again; apparently into Dr’s house, by the description. He has his wedding suit all ready now, and is hoping to fly to the coast when I arrive. In the same day as Hector’s letter came one from Dr. Westcott with a tithe to nearly all his household goods, including piano, redwood dining room set, a bed, desk, shop tools and materials, etc. It is a long list and both Dr. and Ellen have signed it. That’s quite a boost to a young couple! Mr Pudney’s letter gave no more news of a boat, but he is trying again to obtain passage by way of England. I am to appear in person at the Belgian Consulate before Oct. 10, and it may take several days, so I cannot come to Pontiac on the 5th. I received a letter from Agnes asking me to come, and I wrote her saying it was doubtful and that I would suggest another date when I heard from Mr Pudney. Then on the same day that I had sent a letter, a wire came from Mrs Savage about it, so I called her up and we have a tentative date for the 26th, but if I do not go before Nov. she would rather have it be in Nov. I told her I would let her know as soon as I saw about my visa and passport, etc. And I asked her to see if the church were willing to pay for air travel if a boat could not be obtained before my visa expired.
I am quite satisfied with the way you are packing things, and I am only sorry that it so very much work for you and I know you must have many difficulties that you didn’t tell about. Am glad you sent Hector’s box. Mr Pudney wrote me that Mr Jenkinson had written him that Hector was blue because no mail had been coming so I sent him a cable. It cost over $5. Am glad too that you remembered Grandpa’s birthday. The shellacking of the books must be a tremendous job. I appreciate so much all that you are doing. In Hector’s recent letter he listed a few things for me to bring and one was FALSE TOOTH POWDER! I’m so glad some is on the way. I’ll get some more, too. He gave another name and I will try to get that, but he said, any kind would do.
I am going to Philadelphia next Monday, the 1st. Would you like to mail me the premium book and I will get it taken care of, and then leave the book with the secretary in the U.F.M. office. Thanks for the notarized statement. So far as I know the Fay-Barker items are OK. I’m glad the wedding cake is going to Phila. and then I can have it put with the wedding things.
I was with a preacher in Cincinnati who knows Tom Presnell very well. His name is Russel at the Church of the Open Door. Tom has preached there. Mr Russel thinks he is just right.
Mr Pudney said the meeting in Phila was very successful. The covenant was dissolved and yet a friendly relationship was maintained. Mr Pudney said something about a Memorial Fund being established as reimbursement for all the church has done. That is not clear to me, but apparently it is satisfactory to the church.
Thanks for the expense account. I appreciate that you are making the money go as far as you can. I am enclosing $10 which I hope will help a little until my check comes. The church at Louisville did not give me any money but said they would mail it directly to Phila, so it left me with very little travel money. If the next church does the same I will be stuck if I should send any more than $10. I am hoping that either Bluefield or Portsmouth will give me cash so that I will have something to get to Phila on. I don’t know yet how I will get back to Pontiac for that farewell but I believe it is the Lord’s will to go and He will provide. I did so much want to see Lucille and Maurice and family again. And I am hoping when I come back that things will be arranged so that you can go back to Phila. with me. I will let you know next week, whether I will come for the Friday, the 25th. It may be before.
I’ll try to write to Doris. Am sorry she is blue. What she sent was a beautiful blue heart box of chocolate covered with nuts and raisins and a birthday card. She probably intended that I share them with you. I’ll get you some more when we get together! I wonder where Bill was sent.
Would you like to look for a job in Phila., or are you still thinking about going to California? I am praying much that the Lord will guide you concerning this. I know you must have so many needs and I wish I could give you more. I know you need gowns so badly, and no doubt many other things. Why don’t you make out a list and send it to me at Phila., and I will try to find some things at that place where I get such a good discount.
Thanks for the pictures; will you thank the one who gave them to you? I’m going to send the one of me to Hector. Wish I could pull my skirt down!
The plain glass dishes are OK, as I told you on the phone.
I’m sorry to put Russel in such a stew. I thought it was well padded inside that case. I’m sure they would not put any boxes on what they know is a gun. I guess I’d better write him a letter. If I ever get those guns to Africa I’ll be happy! I hope you were able to see Pearl if she came to Pontiac. I had hoped she would be in Phila. when I arrive Mon.
I’ll try to remember to send Lola that picture. I knew that one record was short, but I intended to have that one omitted for myself and give it to her. You’d better give her the one to me. I sent off twenty letters Monday trying to satisfy folk. People are hard to please, aren’t they? But I love to have friends and there is always a price tag.
The train is nearing Cincinnati where I change and I want this to get on its way to you. I hope it will answer a few questions. I’ll read over your letters again tomorrow and will probably find something more.
Above all, don’t let the devil get you down! He is trying hard to discourage you and me, too. But I do believe the Lord is able to overrule every difficulty. Pray much for these next two meetings.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
“And underneath are the everlasting Arms.”
“He doeth all things well.”
Lovingly as always, Ione”
The next day, Ione writes again to her mother with further instructions and news:
“His mercies are new every morning.”
Well, that was a pleasant journey and I have had a good breakfast with the lady appointed to keep me these two days. The pastor, Mr Miller, was taken ill and went to N. Carolina for his health. In this same town Buddy Mauch has a fine Baptist work and I have just called them and learned that Gen and Russ Case are here in meetings so we’ll have lunch together. I’m surely looking forward to it.
I did think of a few things after I mailed your letter last night at Cincinnati. How much do you think Inez should have for the food? I just called about my fare to Portsmith and it is a little less than I tho’t, so I will send $5 more. I surely believe there will be enough from these two places to get me to Philadelphia! With this $5 you may want to either pay Inez or go to Lucille’s. Since I do not know yet whether I will come to Pontiac soon it might be wise to go back to Lucille’s until you hear from me, that is, if the packing is finished. If you are not finished and are needing more money to finish you will probably want to stay there until I send some more money. Drop me a line in Phila. I may have some that has come in there if my check has not yet arrived.
I have looked for a little picture for Lola, but guess I must have sent it with the things to Phila. Will try to send it from there.
I had a nice letter from Mrs Beckwith and she was desirous of knowing my address that she might send $15.00 which was given to her for Flora’s services in various places, a group where she had typed letters, and her Sunday school class. Mrs Beckwith said she did not want to keep it but wanted it to go to my work. I am writing her today. That was mighty fine of her to do that.
In closing I want to send you a copy of a little poem I have found on the bathroom wall:
IT MATTERS TO HIM ABOUT YOU
(I Peter 5:7)
Be not troubled with thought of the morrow. Matt. 6:34
Of duties you surely must do:
On the Lord cast thy burden of sorrow, Psa. 55:22
It matters to HIM about YOU.
Be not weary in fighting with Satan, Eph. 6:11-18
But buckle HIS armour so true;
He will make ALL your troubles to straighten, Isa. 5:15
It matters to HIM about YOU.
Be not worried when trials are given, Psa. 56: 1-13
But trust HIM to carry you through;
He will make ALL a pathway to heaven, Rom. 8:28
It matters to HIM about YOU.
Be patient until HIS appearing, James 5:7-9
‘Tis dawn almost now on your view;
The mists of this dark age are clearing,
He is planning in love about YOU. Heb. 10:37
PS: Say Hello to Inie (Inez) and thanks for getting the boxes and the many other kindnesses.
On the 28th September 1945, Ione writes to Hector and summarises better her activities over the last few months. It is clear the Westcott family are not intending to return as they bequeath most of their possessions in Congo to Ione and Hector and stipulate what they would like them to parcel up and send back to the States:
My dearest One!
Your grand letter was just received and I do thank you so much. I trust you received my cable by now telling you that I am ready to come. After visiting my relatives for three weeks in Michigan and Wisconsin, I spent about one week in Pontiac trying to gather together the huge amount of things I had been accumulating to take back to the Congo. Mother helped me and by the time I had to leave for these deputation meetings things were pretty well under control, tho’ a tremendous amount of work remained, which Mother has been doing while I am in meetings. She has been shellacking all my books, so that the bugs won’t have such a good time as they had on my others out there!
I have been speaking in Erie, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Louisville, Kentucky, Frankfort, now in Bluefield, West Virginia, and lastly in Portsmouth, Virginia, after which I shall return to good old Philadelphia, where I hope to present my passport in N.Y., see if my visa is in good order and for how long. As yet, the boat possibilities are not too good. Mr. Pudney said they gave him as a possibility the last of Oct. or first of Nov. And if my visa runs out by Oct. 10th (as I fear), I will have to wait several months for another. If it does run out before I can get a boat, I believe I shall take courage and ask about a plane, if the church is willing to finance it. At any rate, you had better “stay put” until you do hear definitely. I had not tho’t that you might be able to fly to the coast, but it was a thrill to read that you are thinking about it! I trust there will be sufficient funds to do it.
You did not say in your letters what house you have moved to, but the description sounds like the Doctor’s. Does that mean that we will like it there? I think it is wonderful, tho’ I don’t think a couple of novices like ourselves deserve such a fine home! The same day I received your letter one came from Dr. Westcott with a signed statement entitling you and me to his household goods. The following is the list of things which he wished us to have:
|Office: 1 letter file||1 bench for washtubs|
|1 desk||1 iron double bed|
|books||1 bedside table with drawer|
|misc. papers||1 green bookcase in bedroom|
|1 radio table||1 school desk|
|Living Room: piano||1 treadle sewing machine|
|piano bench||1 child’s bed|
|Misc.: reed settee||1 parlor rug (in attic)|
|1 rocking chair||1 felt for under rug|
|1 redwood dining table||2 folding chairs|
|1 square dining table||1 chaise lounge|
|1 buffet||1 armchair, brown paint with 2 cushions belongs to Kinsos|
|6 redwood chairs||1 armchair, varnished, 2 cushions|
|6 bombadu dining chairs||10 arm chairs, not completed woven cane|
|1 green painted dining chair||1 other arm chair, not completed|
|1 long green cupboard in Bob’s room & contents||General assortment of tools and shop materials bro’t from|
|1 long green cupboard in front bedroom & contents||lower Congo including bench machinery|
|1 tall hardwood cupboard in front room & contents||1 rotary converter for radio|
|3 dressing tables with mirrors||1 bicycle (for Botiki)|
|1 serving table||1 washing machine|
|1 laundry table for ironing clothes||Victrola & records (for Botiki)|
|1 ironing board||kitchen cook stove|
Dr. Westcott sent me another list of things to be sent to his home in Goodrich, Mich, via Keating, N.Y. I can attend to this when I come, if you wish:
“Gynaecology”, by H. A. Kelly
“Anatomy”, by Gray (a big green book)
Physics handbook (quite large)
Microscope – is a long brass tube in cupboard of sterilizing room. Has electric cord attached.
Brown electrical cord for my cystoscope (he has drawn a picture on the original paper here)
2 X-Ray plate holders, size 14 x 7 black Bakelite, 8 x 10 found in cupboard in Westcott’s bedroom
Voltmeter – The one mounted on a piece of black hard rubber. Colour of voltmeter – dark mottled red.
Variac transformer – down in basement. Was on radio.
Elec. Dental motor & attachments at hosp.
Projection lantern & slides, & film slides
Remaining ebony pieces
X-Ray technique book from hospital – large book
Dermatology book from hospital
I will try to bring out the things that you asked me to. Those other items that you asked for in another letter I am not sure about, as I believe I left that one letter at one of your sister’s. I got some sox but could not find the size paper up to that time and up till now. Perhaps I’d better bring a near size and a paper punch to make it fit? Mother has already sent you a box and in it is some denture cleanser called D.O.C. But I will get a larger supply of that or Polident if I can find it. Mother has also sent a short sleeved summer shirt, 2 handkerchiefs, a book, a fruit cake, peppermint candy, jar of nutmeats. I hope they reach you soon.
I’m glad you are getting along so well. The manual training classes will help the children and the French will help you. I have some records of French lessons and an instruction book which will help, too. One can hear the pronunciation when the record is played. My cousin gave me the first 4 lessons & I will order the other 26. I’ll try to pick out a nice tie, tho’ I’m not a very good judge in men’s ties! The ring is with me always and shall not leave until it is on your finger. I have already packed a case of batteries and they are in my trunk. I have a new flashlight, too. I bought some 116 films; someone told me that was the size of your camera. And I have some 620, hoping I remembered the size of mine. Have you looked at my camera to see if that broken lense is repairable? I am trying to get movie film but as yet none is available.
I know these next few weeks will be the hardest of all because they will be just waiting and enduring the endless space of time until we can be together. It has been nine months now. I love you so, Hector. I hope you will not be disappointed in me. The Lord is so good to give me your love.
In our Saviour’s love, XXXX Ione
PS: Greetings to Kinsos and Viola. Where is Joan?
It would seem Hector has not received many letters and on 29th September 1945, writes to Ione from Bongondza:
“We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.”
No one has told me to stop writing yet so I will try to get another short letter off to you, me sweet WIFE. (soon!) I don’t mean that you will be sweet soon, but you will combine your sweetness with being my wife. It sure sounds nice to hear that; just like you talk about me being your husband. I was praying this morning that I shall be a worthy one.
And what’s the latest news; tell me something I don’t know! It is a little difficult to know where you are these days but I can usually pray that the week-ends may be especially blessed.
Do you know what we all did this afternoon. We went out for a picknick (pardon the K’s). About 3 p.m. we got into the V8 and went out to Simo Mbamo’s village out toward Bakapo, probably 40 km. We took Sema along with us (the teacher with six children). He may be stationed out near there, so is out trying the pulse of the people. (This is evidence of the forward thinking philosophy held by the mission, they are training and supporting local people to meet community needs). We got there about 4:30 and Kinso and I went down to the stream, and found a lovely spot right by the bridge where we had the grass cut and all the good things carried down. And what a meal! Viola had prepared a chicken, then a vegetable salad (Joan forgot to put in the salad dressing, even tho it was right there on the table) or maybe it was Ma Kinso). But it was good anyway, along with bread and biscuits. Then the dessert. It is a dreadful thing to sit where Ma Kinso can load up your plate. I think I had three helpings. And with it some nice condensed milk and muffins with filling that Viola had made. Don’t ask me how many I had. I know I had the first one out of the box; and the last one and a lot in between. I took two pictures with Viola’s camera. It was almost dark when we started home and it was my turn to drive. We had lots of fun as we came along. Joan is quite witty when she is sufficiently provoked. So between the two of us we can keep Ma Kinso laughing most of the time.
I got Kinso stirred up one day this week when I told him that I had seen an electric light plant in Wards. He came over and looked it up and was ever so pleased. $259 – allowing 250 watts to each of the four houses, which means quite a few bulbs, probably in the bedroom too, also small ones in other odd places. It doesn’t have batteries, so the motor has to be going while we have the lights on. But it starts with a remote control switch, one of which we hope to have in each house.
Now to get away from the technicalities and talk about you. Inanimate objects don’t have blue eyes.
I was reading in the August “Reader’s Digest” that if one of the parents has blue eyes and there are blue eyes in the family of the other, chances are that the children will have blue eyes. So there are yours and my sister Alice’s. I enjoyed reading the whole article and am so glad that you are to be the mother of OUR children. Mrs Pudney used to frighten me when she told me what a refined lady you were. Sometimes I wondered if you could stand the kind of loving I preferred to give my wife. But that is all past tense now. I can see how you thrived on it. And Marcellyn told me how you wanted to be treated. You are surely made to order and I didn’t get you out of the catalogue either. However on the summer issue of Wards catalogue I did write your name on the lady’s hat.
Well, it is getting late. The rain is gently pattering down on the tin roof and I am getting sleepy. I must tell you too about the nice shirt Ma Kinso cut out and made for me. I got the material in Stan when we were last there and she said she could do it, so this week I gave her the stuff and today she sent it over all finished. It will be so nice for the evening with white trousers, and shoes. I tried to do several little jobs for her in payment, like making a pot stand for her ferns and putting rubber strips on her rocking chair. We have started putting in the three arches in their front porch, and next week I hope to screen it in. There is surely plenty of work around here. Today I put little doors on the broom cupboard in the dining room of this house. No doubt you often looked at it. I have been using the shelves for a hat rack.
You have 31 days to get here for an October wedding. Don’t put it off because I fail to see any advantage in not being married to a LOVELY GIRL LIKE YOU.
Yours more than ever, Hector XXXXXX
This has been a fraught and frantic furlough for Ione, her organisational skills are stretched and her planning is dependent on so many variables so much so that her letter of the 9th October to her mother sent from Philadelphia consists of numbered points:
I am starting this letter with one line of information, but before I finish, the story may be entirely different. At any rate, there are several things I want to get said before the telephone call comes thru from N.Y.
- Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. I am so glad that you are sure it is the Lord’s will to work at Walnut Lake. I presume you will go there tomorrow the 10th, as you said in your letter. I trust that all of your needs will be met. This morning Mr Pudney said they will continue sending something from my salary if I wished. I have spoken to the secretary about the Insurance and am waiting for the book to turn over that job to her. Then she will probably take out the $5 and a little over that is required for the Insurance and send you $5 a month, too. I wish I could do more. I haven’t said anything to her about the funeral bill or Waite’s but tho’t that we should do that aside from thru the office. (This sentence throws light on Ione’s concerns for her mother’s financial status; presumably, on the death of her father, the family inherited a debt that had to be paid and perhaps explains why the family home was dismantled.) I hesitate to do it. I hope that after I get to the field I can spare a regular amount for several months until it is finished. But I dare not take care of it now, because of the expense in travel and need for emergency money. I do hope that this work you are taking will be able to take care of your needs. I have forgotten how much they said you would receive.
- Mrs Tucker especially urged that you come to Grace’s after seeing me off, and she apparently is an important person financially at that house at the present time. It seems she has been helping Grace to finish buying the house, and with expenses. She works, too, takes care of a baby. And Grace was very anxious that you come, too. I would think you would be welcome to stay a week, if you think it wise, and they may urge you to stay longer. But you know how long you can be spared from the work at Walnut Lake.
- Mr Pudney wants you to come when I sail or fly and I have been calling to get train schedules that would be best for you. I am trying to find a way so that you will not have to take a sleeper on account of expense, but it may be that the best thing will be the Red Arrow out of Detroit, which connects up with a train from Lansing in case you are there. Mr Pudney suggested that it might be wiser for you to meet me at Richmond, Va., and ride part way down with me if I fly from Miami, for it would not be out of the way from your route via Frankfort, and if there is enough money you may be able to go all the way to Miami with me.
- As you see, the plane seems to be the wisest at the moment and that’s what we’re waiting right now to hear. And also I am not sure if Pontiac Church will feel they can afford the plane passage. But it doesn’t cost much more than Pearl’s by boat with long waits between. I think it will be between $1100 and $1200. Yesterday I went to N.Y. Friday Pearl and I went to Wash and my passport is in order. At NY they told me my visa is good until around the 12th, they would not prevent my going if it were a few days after, but that I should get on my way very soon. There is no boat until Jan. except to take the Gripsholm on Oct. 16th but it only stops in Alexandria, Egypt, and the way down the Nile is very indefinite and the climate muggy and bad. The plane is the best, as they fly every Wed. There is a waiting list but they accepted my reservation for the 17th, next Wed. If that is not good we can try the 24th. It may not work at all, and there are uncertainties concerning lay-overs. But we’ll soon hear, I trust. Of course, if it goes thru, you will hear from me by wire or long distance before this comes. But I am writing to explain in case I have no good news. I would have to leave for Miami by Sun. and you would have to come here immediately.
- It doesn’t look like I will get back there at any rate. And you had better close everything up and have it sent to Keating’s. W.C. Keating Co. 90 Broad, New York. I believe Agnes said the church would pay the bill and deduct it from my salary. Better bring the wedding and Bangala record and cake, but pack the others. I can only carry 55 pounds on the plane.
- Enclosed are letters received from Mrs Peck and Aunt Katie. I also heard from Marion, and Lyle is going to be discharged but there are 11,000 waiting now and it will be a little while before they return to Antigo. I had a box from Jimmie and Cecil with two lovely rag rugs for a wedding gift.
- Marcellyn wants me to come to the College for next Sat. but unless things are fallen flat on going soon I cannot go. But I should think you could stop there on your way back. According to the map, Cleveland would be on the way either from Richmond (if you travel with me that far) or from Miami. Is there someplace you could stay there?
- It doesn’t look like I will get to see Lucille before I go, but will try to say goodbye by letter.
I am going to send this letter and have something definite in the next.
PS: Will send money& directions for coming. Just be ready! Am writing Mrs Savage today.
Indeed, Ione finds herself moving very quickly for an imminent departure and cables her sister Marcellyn to say she can’t visit. Marcellyn responds on the 11th October from the Bob Jones College in Cleveland, Ohio:
Your telegram came this noon. I’m glad your departure for Africa and Hector is so soon, but, of course, I’m disappointed not to see you and bid you goodbye personally. I had so much I wanted to talk to you about. So many wonderful things the Lord is giving me in this final year of preparations for the mission field. I hope it won’t be long before I’ll be on the ocean journey, too.
Please don’t be concerned any more about whether I will turn back from going. My one purpose is to “Go” as He has commanded me, and I believe he will soon permit me to be in the field of His choice.
For Missions Class we have to read a book every week on missionary progress in any field. She (Dr. Haight) has a whole library of missionary books to choose from.
My spiritual life is certainly being enriched by reading of the experiences of pioneer work, etc. in Africa. I’m half-way through the third book already. After reading the first book “After C.T. Studd” by Norman Grubb, my faith was strengthened enough to ask the Lord for $50.00 with which to pay my tuition and board. A week later it came out to me from a lady I didn’t know. The gift was in memory of her sister who just died of cancer. The Lord does answer our prayers of faith.
I can’t begin to tell you all the blessing and privileges I am enjoying and I am especially happy to be looking forward to winning souls in Africa. Every day I want to go all the more.
We are sorry you won’t be able to speak in Mission Prayer Band, but instead of you they’re planning to have some slides on China. When you get a chance, I’d love to have a copy of two hymns in Bangala that we sang last summer (“At the Cross” for one). I would like to teach them to someone here to sing with me for Mission Prayer Band some time.
I was glad to know of your conversation with Mrs Roosevelt. Hope it did some good.
Herb Noe had a letter from Hector this week and he let me read it. Hector spoke of the Dr’s house being ready for you – drapes up and everything. I know you can hardly wait to get there.
Our prayers and love go with you, and wish you both all the happiness in the world in having God’s will and having each other in accomplishing His will. I hope and pray Hector will be able to meet you at the coast and that you’ll soon be married.
Just think – I might see you before “Heck and Hick” are born, the Lord willing!
Joann loves you and I do, too, and we’ll be praying for you. Love and kisses, Your loving little “sis” who is following you & Him to Africa.
Ione has no time to say goodbye in person to her other sister Lucille and writes from New Jersey on 12th October 1945:
“Dearest Maurice and Lucille and children,
I don’t know whether Mother had time to notify you of my immediate sailing. She is on her way here and will arrive tomorrow morning to stay until I sail, perhaps Tuesday the 16th, or if the port strike continues, the 18th. It is the SS Gripsholm and goes to Egypt, and I’ll get off at Alexandria and get trains and boats up the Nile until I can go no farther and then Hector will bring a car a week or so journey to Rejaf or Juba where we may be able to be married and go on. It will be British territory and we should be married easily there. It will take until at least the last of Nov. to get to the stations. I know you will be praying. I’m so sorry not to see you and say goodbye; I tho’t surely I would be able to get back once more and yet, it seems God is moving things rapidly.
Now don’t be alarmed about me, even tho I will probably travel alone. It will be grand trip stopping at France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and I hope maybe the Holy Land. But there may be a long wait in Egypt and the trip on the Nile goes thru the hottest part of the desert in the hottest part of the year! But who knows, maybe I’ll see those 7 foot Dinka men (Ancient folklore states that the Dinka in Southern Sudan were the first people on Earth descended from Garang and Abuk – our equivalent being Adam and Eve, they are tall, slim and used to live a nomadic life tending cattle. Nowadays following famine and war, they are largely a displaced population) or some crocodiles, or maybe King Tut himself! Well, do pray much for although I am feeling fine I know there will be a strain.
Pray that even yet two others, Verna Schade and Mary Rutt may get their visas in time to go.
And another thing, I talked to Mr Pudney about your church and the interest they have, and he told me of a service fund he is starting for the school work which I hope to do. It will be $500 a year and will make it possible for me to not have to use my personal salary for the school, since expenses are higher now. The Lake Orion, Mich., Baptist church is already sending $10 a mo. Toward it and Hills in Erie, Mich. (Mildred Forsuth) want to give a regular amount, and if there were a group there who would like to apply maybe $5.00 or $10.00 monthly that would probably make up the complete amount yearly. This would go directly to me for the school expenses, the food, clothing, supplies for nearly 100 native children there at Bongondza. If you are interested talk to Mr Pudney about it when he comes there soon. Mr Pudney is trying to get service funds for all missionaries to save their personal salaries for their own needs.
Well, I really must say goodbye. You might get an Airmail Special to me if it is sent to the boat. It is Pier F Exchange Place Jersey City, N.J. God bless you and keep you as sweet lovingly faithful as you have always been thru the years.
Say goodbye to the church and friends there. Perhaps I’ll see them 4 or 5 years from now. I have all my wedding things and they will be ready to slip into when I see Hector. I even have a part of the wedding cake and top that the Loyal’s had at their farewell wedding party. I will try to find some little children just the right size for those dear little white dresses. Maybe we can get some pictures!
“May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”
Very lovingly yours, Ione XXXXX
Ione does manage to set sail once again for Africa, whilst leaving loved ones behind, she is at last travelling to meet Hector and get married; she writes to her mother from the ship describing her journey and companions on the 26th October 1945 on board the Gripsholm moored in Naples:
Greetings from Naples!
We could not get off the boat, but mail can be sent so I tho’t I’d tell you about the journey thus far. Everything has been lovely and I couldn’t ask for better rest or nicer group of people. The woman with the small child left after the first night, and I had the cabin absolutely to myself until three Sudan Interior Mission girls joined me. Now we have grand times together and I have had some real inspirations spiritually, especially one girl, not with me, but who called on me the second day because she knows Hector and others in our mission. Betty and Jerry did not get on this boat because of a lack of some necessary paper at the last. We have a prayer meeting every morning at 10 and I have heard some fine messages. I have sung one solo at that, and then the main church service last Sunday I sang a solo and a trio with an S.I.M. girl and a South Africa General Mission girl; quite a mixed group! We have sung several times already and due to sing at a singspiration tomorrow night. We have children’s meetings every day and a number of boys and girls have accepted Christ. I led two so far and have dealt with several. Tony (the glove puppet) is a favourite and makes many contacts to deal with children in my cabin. I’m making him a life preserver.
The weather has been very calm and mild; we still wear sweaters on deck, but hardly need them except at night. Yesterday was a highlight as we passed thru the Straits of Gibraltar, and it was a wonderful sight, to see Africa on one side, French Morocco, I mean as that is the country in that part of Africa, and on the other side was Spain. We were nearest to the Africa side and I could not resist getting out my motion picture camera and a professional photographer helped me to get it ready and to take several views of the rocks on the Africa side, the waves beside the boat and the people looking at Gibraltar. The rock could be seen, but the haze made it impossible to photograph. We are in the Mediterranean Sea now and it is very calm and blue. We will not be allowed to get off at any of the ports except the one we disembark at, but I may get a picture of it.
I sit at the table with three South African General Mission folk, an elderly couple and a new girl, who is a very sweet lovely Christian girl. She teaches in the children’s meetings, too, has the seven year olds. I have the five year old boys (10 of them) and they are quite a handful, but it is just for a few minutes a day. We have between 60 and 70 children here every day. I believe there are about 100 on board.
I looked and looked for you from the boat, but never had a glimpse of you after I waved at you. I was hoping that you might go and see a bit of N.Y., because the boat was so long in going, yet I kept thinking that if you did happen to break thru the gates as some seemed to I still might see you. But the boat didn’t go out until after 7 so I took it that you must have gone. I’m so glad you could both come to the dock; it meant so much to me, especially since I had to go alone. I felt pretty lonely at first until that girl called on me and she introduced me to one after the other and some know Hector as he has three cousins in S.I.M., and some remembered the Sunshine Trio. Well, I do not know anything more about the future to tell you. I will find it all out as I go along. Perhaps I can write you from Alexandria or Cairo to tell you about how I am going up the Nile. I will try to get another message to Hector, too. It doesn’t seem possible that I will soon be married!
Thank you again for all you did for me, Mother. I do so much appreciate your coming that long journey to see me off. I trust you got back safely. And I worried about that cable, for I’m afraid it cost more than I figured at the time. How did you manage?
Now I will be praying for your new work that the Lord will prosper it. Love to the Princes. Oodles of love, Ione”
In a contemplative mood, Hector writes to his father on 27th October 1945 from Bongondza:
This may be the last letter I shall ever write to you, before I get married.
Let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me. Your life has been well spent. The Lord has been very faithful to you and I know He is all your desire. The other day I was reading in one of my books, commenting on this verse, “Now also when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not”. When I read what followed it, I took my pencil and marked the page inside the back cover, with your name beside it. This is it. “Have you green fruits still growing on you, as quickly and lively affections to God and Christ, and faith and love, as at the first and more abounding? Oh, bless God you are so near the haven, and lift up your heart, your redemption draws near; and withal raise your confidence, that that God of grace, who hath called you into His eternal glory, will keep you for it, and possess you of it shortly.” You have had a long hard climb and much of the way has been lonely for you since mother died. I’m afraid we did not give you much help in your times of sorrow, but THANK the LORD you have stood true and I know you will have an abundant entrance into HEAVEN. I used to lie awake some times and hear you praying in the middle of the night. There must have been some battles to fight, but strong is the Captain of our Salvation.
I have had a rather care free existence so far. The reeds before me seemed to open up like the gates before Peter. Even before I was saved I seemed to escape the many troubles that beset others. But since I have accepted the Saviour my life has been one of continued blessing. Now at this hour I am completely happy and satisfied. He has led and undertaken in ways that are marvellous beyond what I could ever have hoped.
In about two or three weeks I will be meeting my beloved IONE. She sailed on Oct 16 and will likely arrive at Alexandria on the 30th. From there she will travel up the Nile to a place called Juba (Jewba), in the Anglo Egyptian Sudan, just a little north of the boundary between Uganda, Sudan and the Congo. It will be a long trip, but Mr Jenkinson is lending me his car, and I may be taking Chester and Dolena Burk along to stand up with us. We will be well taken care of as there are some fine Christians there.
I am so glad that Ione has been able to visit you and she did enjoy herself. Someday we hope to be back with you and tell you something of our experiences in the Lord’s work, but until then we will try to keep in touch with you by letter. May I prove the faithful husband that Ione deserves. I know we will be happy together.
Let me hear from you soon, your son and heir, Hector”
On the 17th November 1945, Ione writes to her mother furnishing her with more details of her travels onwards from Naples, from somewhere on the Nile and records the temperature as being 1030 F:
Greetings from the Nile!
Well, the Lord has guided over many miles and now I am within a few days of Juba, where I hope to see a familiar face. I sent you a letter from Naples, but stopped at Cairo only a short while before coming this way; and this past week I have been feeling rather punk, due to a cold, imagine a cold in such a climate! I was prepared for hotter weather when I took the first steamer and the nights were quite chilly and the air was damp and the first thing I knew I was coughing with a deep chest cold. It kept on until I knew I must start taking the sulphapyredine I had bro’t (I detected a bloody mucous which shows a danger of Pneumonia). Well, the medicine was very effective but as does nearly all sulpha drugs, it made me very nauseated and weak. And when I got on this boat a week ago, I was mighty glad to have a bed to pop into and stay for a few days. But now the cough is nearly gone, my appetite has returned, and I am gaining back the few pounds lost. I had gained a great deal on the ocean boat, so I guess I’ll come out even! What an experience this coming down 2500 miles to Juba! And it’s just as quaint as a story-book.
The Lord promised, “As thou goest step by step, I will open up the way before thee.” And He surely has. I was afraid of a congestion with so many landing in Cairo, but I guess I was ahead of the congestion, because I was alone, and because of Cook’s representative, that accounts for my being alone since then, for no one was fast enuf thru customs to take this overland journey; others will come two weeks later.
I missed the sights at Cairo, tho, the pyramids, etc. I left the next day after landing. We got into Port Said instead of Alexandria, because we were trans-shipped at Naples. I didn’t tell you in the other letter, but the motor broke on the Gripsholm while we were out quite a ways in the Mediterranean and it managed to limp into Naples, but did not dare to go on.
We went the other five days, with no stops on a troop transport, real army stuff – sleeping with 12 others in a cabin; one of the 12 was Madame Edis de Phillippe Rabinoff, grand opera star, and her 26 pieces of baggage. Altogether the ocean journey was 20 days, for we arrived Nov. 5. I was quite afraid of the Arabs for they looked so sneaky, and there were so many tales of their running their hand down the side of one and pulling off wrist watches, purses, etc. I wore my money in a money belt under my clothing, and when one brushed against me and ran his hand from my shoulder to my hips my purse was in my other hand! It was an awful experience, because I got into Cairo by train at midnight and at first there was no one of the missionaries, then some came out of the trains, and then there was no Cook’s representative, and then he came , and HE WAS AN ARAB, and I was just as scared of him! When I got into my room I bounced into bed and covered my head.
There had been a riot there two days before, and the Arabs had killed 31 people. When I looked at the baggage the Arab porters had dumped into my room three handles were wrenched off and a tray I had bought on the boat was broken. I was glad to leave Cairo the next day, but none of the missionaries were ready to go, with papers, etc., so rather than wait two weeks in the hotel, I went alone. My compartment had a good lock in the train, so I slept well the first night. In all I have taken 4 trains and 2 steamers. Only one night I was unprotected when I had to sleep with an Egyptian woman and a baby and they kept the door open, and I had to get up frequently to vomit then, too. But that’s over and I am with mostly British people on this boat, eating with the Radways, a nice couple.
Food is fair, sometimes queer, but I enjoy the English tea. And I am resting all the time. Have my veil finished; the bugs ate part of it but I have put lover’s knots in lace over the mendings! Lovingly, xx Ione
PS: Can you tell me the people who gave those 2 cheques you gave me at Phila? The ones I had you send to Phila. to pay for the medicine. One for around $20, one for $10, I believe.
Ione also writes to Marcellyn:
I think, tho, if Hector is in Juba, and finds out that the boat will not go all the way, that he will drive on the Mangala were we stop. Oh, I hope so. I have my wedding veil all finished and hanging in the centre of the room to isolate it from the bugs. Already they’ve eaten generous portions of it, but I have sewn bows and flowers of lace over the mended spots! My other things are O.K. And the wedding cake that Inez had at the party is hard as a rock but tastes very good yet. Yesterday I chased some ants out of it and wrapped it better. Mother gave me some chocolate covered peppermints to take to Hector and they have melted several times but hardened somewhat again and although they’re white, still can be recognized and I hope he’ll enjoy them. I suppose soon things will start to mould; then we’ll have some more fun. I’ve put all edibles in tins and put adhesive tape around; the only thing to do. Remember to have good substantial tin boxes when you come! And some wide mouthed bottles to store things in, like silk stockings, etc.
I will be waiting to hear about your activities. Please write and tell me all about it. Have you heard from Pudneys yet? Are you still hoping to come out in the spring? Be sure that the Lord would have you to do NOTHING ELSE. It is so important. Will you let Joan read this letter? I did so much enjoy her last letter and hope to hear again. Have you heard from Kent lately, and is he thinking of the mission field? How our mission needs young men! Also a doctor.
I’ll have to live with what things I left on the station until my things arrive. I think tho that I can find some things that the Westcott’s have given to me, too. Whenever you begin thinking about getting together equipment I can give you a suggestive list.
I trust you are having your needs met. The Lord so wonderfully has led you and used you; I am sure He will not fail you this last year. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.”
A letter to Maurice (his birthday was due) and Lucille written by Ione on 21st November 1945 provides yet more insights of her journey down the Nile onwards towards Hector:
Dearest Maurice and Lucille and family,
Greetings in Jesus’ precious Name!
As you may guess, I am having a very thrilling time; of course it is hotter than anything I’ve experienced, and when I passed thru the desert on the train I tho’t I just could not stand it. But I lived thru it and the River is much pleasanter. The scenery is very interesting and just now I have just seen 8 hippos bobbing up and down beside the ship; yesterday I saw 19 in one group. And the funniest sight was when the boat made a turn, one hippo didn’t get out of the way in time and he got spanked in the rear and he jumped up and ran, for it was very shallow, and his huge sides just waddled; actually his tail was between his legs, and he looked very frightened, while usually they are very ferocious looking.
Crocodiles are in equally great numbers. A soldier on the boat has been shooting them; one Sunday that he killed with the first shot was 15 feet long. And some have been longer which he missed. They are very cautious animals and try to get under the water before we get there, but occasionally one will be napping with his big mouth wide open. There are birds which pick their teeth while they sleep! This area is all swamp-land, with scarcely a piece of solid ground, grass and bull-rushes like Moses’ mother used to hide her baby. I’ve been eating the leeks and onions of Egypt, too!
The ocean voyage was very restful and invigorating; I think I must have gained at least 5 pounds. There were nearly 200 missionaries on board, and we had meetings every day for adults as well as for children, and there were a number of souls saved among the oil company’s children and one young man, a deportee to Greece or Italy. I had the little five-year-old boys, 10 of them, every day, and Tony the Monkey was popular. We made him a life preserver. It was great to pass thru the Straits of Gibraltar and see French Morocco on the one side and Spain on the other, and then the beautiful Rock of Gibraltar. I took some Kodochrome movie pictures of some of the rocks. I was able to get just 100 ft. and am saving a few feet for the wedding.
While on the blue Mediterranean the motor stopped on the boat, and we had difficulty in getting into Naples where we stayed five days and were trans-shipped to a troop transport where we lived like soldiers for another five days. Naples was quite in ruins from bombings. I had never actually seen what bombs do, and it is a horrible sight. There must have been many killed. Just giant wrecks of buildings left. We went in army trucks from one dock to the other. That’s all we were allowed on shore, as there was little food there and the people were very poor and we were not allowed to go anywhere. One sailor went ashore and got drunk and when he came sober again, the civilians had stolen his clothes and money and he had to come back on ship naked!
Then after the troop ship we landed, not in Alexandria, but Port Said, around the edge of the corner of Africa, down toward the Suez Canal. Customs was a mess and was very tiring as there were hundreds of people to go. But I had my Cook’s representative to help me and was one of the first to get thru, having just six pieces and being alone. I was able to get a train out of P.S. by 6 P.M. and arrived at Cairo at 12 midnight, a bad time to arrive especially since there had been riots there two days before and white people’s stores were rocked. 31 people had been killed. The Arabs were fighting mainly against the Jews, but the Europeans got it too. And when the Arab porters took my things they surely looked at me with beady eyes. At first I was alone, until I found some other girls from A.I.M. and three porters led me a merry chase and one got rather personal, but the Lord took care of me and eventually the Cook representative came and I found myself safe at the Victoria Hotel.
That night and all the next day I was very frightened of the Arabs, and was really afraid to go out on the streets alone, for I heard stories about their running their hands over one and taking off wrist watches, etc. I put on my money belt under my clothing and got an A.I.M. girl to go most everywhere I had to go, for my ticket, half-fare warrant, etc. But one time, I was trying to find the place to send a wire to Hector, and I actually had to return, not without tears, in fear. It was then that one of the girls gave me Isa. 50:7 and things went better when I COMPLETELY depended on Him. I found that because I was ahead of most everyone, I could also proceed up the Nile (we say ‘up’ because the river flows north when it goes ‘down’) and so, even without those A.I.M. girls, who had to wait for their party of 10, I went entirely alone on the rest of the journey. That was Nov. 6, one day after arriving in Africa, when I took that first train, a lovely sleeping compartment which could lock from the inside, all private to myself! Since then I have not been so fortunate, but I did so much appreciate that first night of real security. I have had to take four different trains and two river steamers already, and tomorrow, and I MAY see Hector then! (SOMEONE JUST CALLED ME TO SEE A HERD OF ELEPHANTS, quite a sight!)
I have been making my wedding veil and now it is hanging up on a hanger in the middle of my cabin. I had it folded until I started to sew it, and then some bugs chewed big holes in it. I had to think what to do with the holes, so invented some bows and flowers out of lace and satin to cover them up! The decoration looks pretty I am told. I have fellowship with all English people on this boat. So far as I know, I am the only Christian.
There have been precious opportunities to witness. Last night Mr and Mrs Radway said there were three important events in life, birth-marriage-death. And Mrs Radway said that there should be more, don’t you think, Miss Reed? I said, “Yes, to be born again. For it says in God’s word “Ye must be born again”, doesn’t it?” And they seemed to have knowledge of the Bible, but judging by the long pause I don’t think they want to talk about it.
I was thinking about Maurice on his birthday; I hope he had a nice time. I hope to be on the station by the time Lucille’s birthday comes. Perhaps this will reach you by Christmas time and if so I hope you all have a very blessed Christmas. I shall be praying for you all continually.
It was so grand having Lucille there to see me off. I hope the money held out until you got back home, Lucille! I was afraid that that cable that I gave her and Mother to mail cost more than the $10 I had figured. I want to know about it. And I was wondering just when Mother and Lucille left the dock. I did not see them again after I waved at them. It was so good to have those last few hours together. I praise the Lord for such precious loved ones.
I suppose Lawrence and Esther and Ruthie are busy at school these days. They will be looking forward to their Christmas vacation. When they are having a good time in the snow I will be fanning myself. As you see by the letter head the temperature here is warm (103 degrees).
I wish you could have seen the many camels on the desert. They were so picturesque walking along in great caravans, with hooded riders whose long robes flapped in the breeze, just exactly like the stories tell. Their costumes are like I once saw in a moving picture, “The Desert Song.” And their weird tunes are romantic.
A few days ago we left the territory of the Shilluk natives and now we are seeing Dinkas. I have always wanted to see a Dinka, for they are seven feet tall. And yesterday I measured one alongside Mr Radway who is nearly six feet, and I am sure that this native was head and shoulders above him! But when folk used to tell me in the Congo about the 7-foot Dinkas, they forgot to tell me they are stark naked! Last night there were prisoners who carried wood on the boat, and it looked so queer to see them put gunny sacks over their head and shoulders to rest the wood on, and outside of maybe a string of beads about the waist, they had nothing more on. I bought a little brass bell at the last place we stopped, made by the natives and to be used on my table to call the boy.
My cabin boy here is a Muslim and wears a turban and long white robe, he has a nice moustache, too. He brings me tea the first thing in the morning and at 4 P.M. Well, I could ramble on and on, but I would like to send this Airmail if it’s not too heavy. I hope to hear from you when I reach the station. The Lord be with you all. Lovingly in Him, Ione
P.S Hector’s corner: Nov. 26th (written on Ione’s Nov. 17th letter) Hello, Mother. We have had three precious days together. Hope to be married tomorrow the 27th. X Hector
Hector and Ione finally marry on 27th November 1945 in Juba, Anglo-Saxon Sudan. Ione’s letter to her mother written on 17th November has not been sent so the couple add bits:
“Married yesterday. Ione lovely. Wonderful to be married. Your son, Hector”
“We still haven’t mailed this. What a happy time we have had in our new home. Glad to get Mother’s parcel and your letter, Lucille (and the nine kisses). Love, Hector X”
Hector and Ione travel together back to Bongondza; the wedding, the journey and the welcome at the mission station are all described in a long letter to Ione’s mother written on 31St December 1945:
Greetings at Christmas-time in the Name of Christ.
We have thought so much about you and wondered what kind of Christmas you may have had. Probably you went to Lucille’s; or maybe celebrated with the Princes.
Marcellyn probably stayed down at college, and of course, Doris would be in California.
How quickly we all were separated: it is good to look forward to a time when there will be no more separations.
After having been married one month we can say it was a splendid undertaking.
We are surely happy together, and there are so many things to laugh together about.
It was wonderful the way we met: Hector arrived in Juba (Sudan) just the night before I did. (He had driven 1,000 miles from Bongondza.)
And Hector was able to apply for the special license that made it possible to be married in just four days instead of waiting the usual three weeks. The hotel bills were very high and we were glad to have it finished quickly.
And to make matters nicer, the Burks from our station at Boyulu were to come by Congo Courier to stand up with us.
They are old pals of Hector, and I met them in Phila. last January. The license arrived the same day that we had set for the wedding, and the Burks at about the same time. The Courier had dropped them off at Watsa and Hector had to drive part of the night to go and get them, but he finally got back. It was very exciting and while Dolena and I were picking bridal bouquets we were quite nervous. It was such a job to make a bride’s bouquet just before the wedding, but it was the only way to have them fresh. I carried white frangipanis (odour like a gardenia and a lily-shaped blossom) and star of Bethlehem, a fine flower.
Dolena found the same flowers in pink. The men each wore an oleander in the button-hole.
Dolena looked very nice in the ague-green gown that Doris had given to me. I had made my veil on the steamer and it had a lace edge and artificial flowers on the hat. Some cock-roaches had eaten some holes in it, but I put a lovers knot and two flowers of satin ribbon over the places: Mr Carey of the Church Mission Society of England gave me away. Miss Thrasher of the same society played a little organ.
The Chapel was beautifully decorated with flowers, mostly rose, bougainvillea and hibiscus. The preacher had a robe with all the trimmings on. The ceremony was long and we knelt three times. There were about 20 R.A.F. boys there and they had practiced, “Great is thy Faithfulness” and “O Perfect Love.” They were singing the first when I came in.
There were a number of responses, etc., too, which made it an interesting service. At the close I received a nice Kiss and we went out under an arbour of bougainvillea while rice was thrown and one fellow took pictures on the Kodochrome movie camera.
We were put into a car which belonged to the District Commissioner and driven to Miss Thrasher’s house where she had prepared a tea. An A.I.M. missionary’s cook had made a lovely white cake and frosted it and put on top the wedding decoration from Inez’s party and everyone enjoyed it very much: there were small cakes and cookies, too, and ice cream and lemonade and tea. The R.A.F. boys served it with great gusto. It was lots of fun; there were about 35 people there, including one Egyptian barber and his wife and child. Then we went to the hospital to visit a man who had turned over four times in his car on the mountain, and to the hotel, were we changed clothes and went to dinner with the Burks.
There were no little white girls so we could not use the little white dresses. But will use them sometime here.
The next morning the Burks and we started on the long journey home, but we stopped in ever so many places. The Burks were only with us a week, and then we visited a number of A.I.M. stations and spent three nights at beautiful Mt. Ruwenzori, the highest peak in Congo.
We slept where we could see the snow-capped peak. The air was refreshing, the hike up the mountain invigorating, and then a plunge in the icy mountain pool. We stayed at a lovely hotel there and the manager picked strawberries just for us and made ice cream. We waded in a river to the place where we could see and go under the water fall. And this is only part of the many delightful experiences on that wedding journey which took two weeks. We stopped at our two stations the other side of Stanleyville, Boyulu, and Maganga, and then arrived Dec. 12th, two weeks and a day after the wedding. There was such a grand reception, folks running from everywhere. We had decorated the car with palms, and ribbons, etc.
The Jenkinson’s and Viola and Joan came running when they heard the horn blowing so vigorously. We had some tea and then went home to rest.
Hector carried me over the threshhold, and set me down in the living room of Westcott’s home, all replastered in grey instead of cream, and new curtains up, rug on the floor, pictures up, and every room furnished except two spare bedrooms.
It was nice coming into a clean house and vases of flowers everywhere. We had dinner at Kinsos and a nice fellowship after. The next morning they had a formal reception in the church, and I gave the response. The church that Doctor built was beautiful with new platform, curtains, and flowers. And the station had been cleaned up so nicely.
Of course, I could go on telling about the return. It was so good of the Lord to give all this joy and it was doubly grand to come back to the place where I had been before and to come back with a husband whom they already know and loved.
Old Alfonse at the workshop who never went to church had started coming to church as soon as Hector took over the shop. And I could see a change in others. We do not know yet our work that is I don’t, and will not until the General Conference which will be held next week at Boyulu. These weeks have been filled with settling and holiday celebrating. A few days after I arrived back I took on the care of a three weeks old native girlie whose Mother is here sick in the hospital, the baby’s name is Lollypop, or Lolipopo in Bangala. She is going to live, tho she was quite starved at first. The Mother has syphilis and cannot walk. And there are two other children. The older, a girl of about 11 years does much of the care of the baby although she herself has leprosy. But the father stays here nights and is good about bathing the wife and children and feeding them.
I give the baby 20 ounces a day of Klim and sugar and glucose mixture. I beat it up myself and prepare the bottles. Then I check on the blankets and clothes. It is such a joy. You’ll maybe hear more later about Lollypop. Then this week and last I have been teaching an hour a day singing lessons to the evangelists (13 of them) who are here on the station for the holidays. I am teaching them to direct singing and to sing well themselves – we hope. We have an organ now and I play it to lead them, but Viola plays every other day.
Hector is over at the evangelist’s school right now giving a message on Total Depravity, one of the series of doctrinal talks. They will come here with their wives on Friday night for a social time; we’ll give them popcorn, peanuts, cookies and coffee. They are a grand bunch and fine leaders. The school is rather quiet.
I don’t suppose my baggage will come for several months, and I am glad for some of the Westcott’s things to get along on for now.
The food problem is serious, as usual, but the Lord always gives enough. When the seeds come I’ll plant them and see if we can get more vegetables. Hector and I have both gained since coming to the station.
Please pass this letter along.
Lovingly in Christ, Hector and Ione.