Ione and Hector: In Partnership (1946)
Hector and Ione start married life living in what is affectionately termed ‘the Doctor’s House’ at Bongondza. The first letter of the year is sent from Hector on the 4th January 1946 to Eric Penny, who shared time with Hector in the Royal Canadian Airforce. Interestingly, no mention of the recent wedding but focuses on practical matters that Hector requires help with and demonstrates his capacity to turn his hand to anything:
“Dear Brother Eric:
It was a pleasant surprise to get your letter the other day. At first, I could hardly remember who you were but the good old days soon unfolded and now I remember you quite well at High Park and the Hut in Halifax.
You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that you are a jeweller. I have been doing a lot of it out here, but sorry to say I have had no training. But it is amazing what one can do in a pinch. However, Ione’s little ELGIN (watch) has me stumped. One day she was mixing a little bit of paint and spilled some paint dryer on her arm and it got into the winding stem of the watch. I was a little afraid, but I took it down and tried to clean it. (I got a quart of cleaning fluid in N.Y. before I came out.). It was a headache getting it together again but it went for quite a while, and then began get irregular. I think the hairspring might be a little bent as well. So Ione and I talked it over and we decided to wrap it up in separate parcel and send it to you airmail. I have a friend out in Alberta who is a jeweller as well, but Ione seemed to prefer YOU ! ! ! ! ! If there are any charges, just send them to 18 Howland Ave., and they will fix it up.
This is a rainy day for which we are very thankful, since it has been so hot. Besides cooling off the atmosphere the rain put some water in our empty cistern. These two months dry-season means that the schools are dismissed and even the workmen get three weeks holiday. So that means that we have a bit of a holiday too.
Lately I have been experimenting with “venetian windows”. There is a new building in Stanleyville with them so I am trying to design some for our dwelling houses. There are quite a few advantages, they keep out the wind and rain but allow circulation. And moreover they are easy to install and easy to clean. If we can get them in all the houses it will mean that we will not have to rush home to close up the house when a storm comes up.
Well, this is the end of the page and I seem to have only got started. Write again some time ….Yours, Hector”
On the 7th January, Hector writing on behalf of Ione as well to friends in Knoxville, Tenn., writes:
Dear Friends in the Lord:
Another year has come and with it many blessings from the Lord. It is almost twelve months since I left New York, and every day has been filled with interesting things.
Of course, the most important recent event is that I have taken unto me a wife. We hope to get out a circular soon giving an account of the wedding so I will leave the details until then. I met Miss Ione Reed in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and being a Canadian it was a lot easier to have the ceremony over there. We had a lovely honeymoon on the return trip by car. The head of the station here, Mr Jenkinson loaned me his ford V8 and there was almost a trouble-free journey. I had a native lad along and he was a big help. One evening as we were coming along the road, we stopped to wash up at a little river that crossed the road. Just when we were getting ready to leave we noticed some little people coming out of the forest. Ione knew right away that they were pygmies. We had a few sandwiches left so the lad and I went back to give them these. But they laid down their little bundles of sticks and fled back into the thick forest. This lad had never seen them either so he called out to them to come back. When he got no response he said, “If you don’t come and get this bread that the white man is giving you, I will take your sticks! ! !” But even this threat did not bring them back. But we had one good look at them while they were standing on the road. I had no idea they are so small, about the height of a child of seven.
We visited ever so many mission stations and were encouraged to see how the work of the Lord goes on. It makes one realize that we here on this station are just a part of a group of the Lord’s harvesters.
Thanks again for your financial help and prayer interest. Ione was sorry that she was not able to visit you while she was on deputation work. We are settled down in our own home now and we will try to let you know from here what the Lord is doing in our midst. Then when we go home again we will at least be well acquainted by letter.
Yours in His service, Hector & Ione McMillan”
Leone Reed, Ione’s mother writes on 7th January 1946 to both Hector and Ione, parts of the letter are missing – eaten by ants, but it does fill in the detail for Ione of what happened to her mother and Lucille when her ship set sail:
Dearest Ione and Hector:
Greetings to my precious children in the Name of Jesus!
Oh how the enemy has fought me in trying to write to you. (Grief at parting can manifest in many ways and Leone has been suffering). This is the first letter to my precious Ione since you sailed on Oct. 16. Perhaps you haven’t missed it in your new found happiness, but I do feel ashamed I haven’t had a letter on its way. I have had two letters from you, the one you wrote just after passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and the one you mailed right after you were married.
You surely had a terrible time going down the Nile River and I am so glad that is over. Now I am anxious to know all about the wedding and how it seems to be a bride and groom. You were married on Lucille’s birthday and on Aunt Katie’s and Uncle Elmer’s sixty-first wedding anniversary.
I learned last week that your goods had left N.Y. on Dec. 14. I do hope they reach you O.K. I keep thinking about those glass dishes and wondering if they were packed good enough.
After you waved at us when you were getting on the boat, Lucille and I stayed on the pier until 4:10 hoping to see you somewhere on the boat. They moved the fence closer to the doors where they were loading cargo but we still couldn’t see you. There was a wonderful farewell for missionaries on the pier. How we wished you had waited to have a part in it. Lucille and I sang all the wonderful hymns with them. A great circle was formed and each missionary told where they were from, where they were going, their name, and which denomination they represented.
I asked one of the officers if there would be any possibility of getting closer and he said, “no”, and that when the cargo was loaded they would pull those large doors down and the boat would sail without anyone seeing it. So Lucille and I took a ferry to Staten Island hoping to see the Gripsholm sail but it was still there when we came back and it was getting so foggy and dark we decided to go back to our room at the Y.M.C.A. After we got off the subway we sent the cablegrams and telegrams from the Long Island Depot in Brooklyn. We felt like two lost babes in the woods after you left.
I had a nice card from Dr. Westcott the other day telling me I could come over any time for a physical check-up. He even tried to help me arrange about the bus. Marjory Hempstead said I could go with her when they drive over.
Lucille and Maurice had Rev. Pudney in their church and he said plans were being made for Marcellyn to sail with Pearl Hiles next summer. Marcellyn has met the nicest missionary young man at B.J.C. His name is Herbert Foster. I believe you ate with his parents on the Gripsholm. He was born in Africa just south of the Congo and is planning to go back there as soon as possible.
The Lord has become more precious since I have been here for He is the only one I can really depend on (the implication being that family which could include her husband who died have let her down by being absent). The Sunday school gives me the offering the first Sunday of the month. I have only had two, one was 10.73, the other 6.93 so the five dollars Miss Hutchins sends me is more than welcome. Princes provide my room and board. Thank you so much Ione darling for your thoughtfulness. I broke my glasses (which badly needed changing anyway) but the new ones will be $30.00. Oh me!
The 7th January 1946 is a letter writing day at Bongondza too, Ione’s first letter is to her friend Pearl at home on furlough:
Greetings from Bongondza in the Name of Christ!
Well, praise the Lord, He has not only brought me back to this dear spot, but with a husband! We are very happy and have been married since Nov. 27th. It was such a wonderful way that the Lord provided everything. Hector arrived in Juba just one day before I did, and he applied for a special license so that we could be married in four days instead of waiting three weeks. So in four days we were married, and had a real wedding, too. It was held in a pretty chapel of the C.M.S. and we had an organ and 20 R.A.F. boys sang. There were about 35 people there. I had a floor-length white chiffon dress and Hector was dressed in white. The Burks came all the way from Boyulu for the occasion. They arrived the same day of the wedding. It all worked out like clockwork. The license arrived at noon and at 4:30 we were married. The Brill’s cook at Aba A.I.M. station had made a wedding cake and there was a reception at the home of Miss Thrasher who played the organ. A Mr Carey of that mission gave me away. We stayed at the Juba hotel the first night. Then we started on the long journey home. Stopped at Ruwenzori for several days. And had lunch at Becker’s at Oicha and tea at Bells. A Sunday dinner at Ruwenzori station but only Mr Harry Hurlburt and Miss Noick were there and they were not on speaking terms so we did not get to see Miss Noick only from a distance! Mrs Stauffacher took care of us when we stopped at Rethy. Dad Stauffacher died in the spring and then she went to Rethy for a while. But I understand she is back at Ruwenzori now.
Wish I had time to tell you all about everything; but we are rushing to get this last letter done to go early in the morning when we all go to Boyulu for General Conference. You can never know how much everyone here is anticipating your return. You are so needed. The hospital is getting so dirty and needs a nurse so badly. I may have to go down and superintend some cleaning soon. I don’t know what my work is yet but there will be a station meeting when we return from Boyulu. Mrs Walby is expecting a baby. (The Walby’s were stationed at Maganga like Pearl; they had recently arrived in Congo as missionaries and the fact that Eileen was pregnant so early in her time as a missionary caused consternation among some of the senior members. Before the war, lady missionaries were either sent home for the baby’s delivery or expected to return home with the small children and so they could leave the children with a guardian. The Congo was not considered a suitable place for children. Yet some were clearly setting a new trend. For a newlywed like Ione, a situation she hoped she would soon enjoy.) Carters and Kerri’s hope to go home this year some time.
We are praying much for a doctor here, too. Do you know of anyone? The people surely miss Dr. Westcott.
I hope you are well and happy. Please write soon. Hector sends his love. That was sweet of you to give him some things when you left. I think some of them we’ll save for you will be back so soon. The microscope the mission will buy and the list of things that are going to Doctor are on the back of this sheet. Lovingly in Him, Ione”
The next letter is to the Westcott family:
Dear Doctor and Ellen and A.B.C.,
It hardly seems possible that I am really here and that I am married and living in your house. But it is true. I’ll start where I last wrote and tell you what has taken place.
I sailed as was expected on Oct. 16th and had good times on the boat with nearly 200 other missionaries and 1000 other people going to the Mediterranean. It was thrilling going thru the Straits of Gibraltar and seeing Morocco on one side (French) and Spain on the other; and then came the Rock of Gibraltar. I took some Kodochrome movie pictures along there; hope they turn out all right. We didn’t stop anywhere until we reached Naples. But before there, one of the ship’s big motors broke and had difficulty in reaching port. So we were transhipped so that the Gripsholm could be sent back to Sweden for repairs. The next boat was a troop transport, the General Meigs, and it was fun living like the troops. In all, the entire journey to African coast was 20 days. We arrived at Port Said instead of Alexandria, but it was quite as convenient, just a few hours journey from Cairo where I got my connections to travel by steamer and train up the Nile. That journey took 18 days in all and I arrived in Juba on Nov. 23rd. I saw really as many crocodiles and hippos as I wanted. They were very thick in the river and we bumped on hippo when we turned around a bend. He was quite indignant! It was shallow and he jumped up and ran full speed ahead and wiggled his ears and grunted. He was mostly pink with grey spots. We saw ostriches in Aba, and a herd of elephants at a distance.
Of course Hector was at Juba when I arrived. I had wired him from N.Y. and again in Cairo. He came in the day before and arranged for us to be married four days later, on Nov. 27th. We were married in a chapel at the C.M.S. station. That is right in Juba, and 20 R.A.F. fellows sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “O Perfect Love”. They did very well, and then afterward drove us in the District Commissioner’s car to a certain Miss Thrasher’s home (she had played the organ) and the fellows served us tea and cookies and a wedding cake make by the Brills’ cook at the AIM station at Aba. We spent several days there before and after the wedding. The first night we went to the hotel at Juba. The Burks came up from Boyulu to stand up with us; they came by Courier and we drove them part way back to Nioka. Then they got another Courier so that we could go to Ruwenzori for our honeymoon. We stayed at the hotel there and had a delightful time climbing, swimming in the pool and eating strawberries. I tho’t of you all when we passed thru Beni and Nyankunde.
I will send you some pictures when we get them developed. We were both in white and Mrs Burk wore an aqua silk jersey dress. We carried frangipanis and star of Bethlehem, mine in white and hers in pink, and the men wore each an oleander. The little chapel was decorated mostly with rose bougainvillea and peach hibiscus. There was an arbour of the former flower which we passed thru to come out. They thru rice and said, ‘hip, hip, hooray, etc.” On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the hospital to see a Mr Marshall who had turned over four times on the mountain in his car. His wife was very kind to us.
A certain Mr Carey gave me away. He is in charge of the CMS. The manager of the hotel brought a silver bowl of frangipanis to our room and served us a six-course dinner with flowers garnishing every course and the table was covered with that rambling sort of heart shaped pink flower.
We arrived back at the station on Dec. 12th, after stopping one night at Boyulu and one night at Stan. There are seven at Boyulu: Carters, Burks, Betty, Olive, and a John Arton from England, besides the three children (Rosemary, Gordon and Philip Carter). The kiddies are big now. (By the way, did you know that the Warnkens have a baby?) And at Maganga are the Kerrigan’s, the Walby’s (from England) and Isobel. Walby’s are expecting a baby. (Ione has bemoaned the lack of a pregnancy to her mother in a letter dated 27th January 1946, and obviously the Walby’s anticipated baby accentuates her desires). And here are the Kinsos and Joan and Vee. Joan is quite thin and not strong but is carrying on. She had to spend some time at Blukwa for a rest; and she was at Yakusu, too.
Hector drove Kinsos car all the way 4700 kilometres. And with no spare! He had two synthetic tubes but they went bad immediately. We had no trouble at all. And we were able to bring back a Bilhorn organ from the A.I.M. at Ruwenzori, bought it from Harry Hurlburt. Also, some popcorn and bacon and cereal from Blukwa. The Stoughs (you know that he married Betty Quakenbush?) went to Alexandria to take the Gripsholm back to N.Y., and were delayed a long time there because there was no ship, and Mrs S. had an emergency operation for appendicitis and little Jimmie had something wrong with his leg they thought was infantile paralysis. He surely has had some troubles, but not so many as some other people I know! I do trust that life is much easier for you all now.
We stopped at the Bill Deans. The old couple as well as Mary and her two children are home (she has a little boy born after Bob died). And the Spees as well; did you know that Martha Jean died on their way home when they were in South Africa. Bill Deans is putting on a real building program now; and is putting up some lovely buildings. He has hired a white contractor who stays right there and he is quite thrilled at the results. Brick buildings with wood shingles. The Deans have a grand couple living with them; Wheaton graduates and Mrs Carl Johnson has her Master’s degree. I knew them before. They have three little children.
I know you would like to know about the station and they did have it looking very nice when we arrived; old Majuani and Bowito and Mobweki and a couple of others had been clearing the pineapple patch and all around and Ma Kinso had fixed up the flower house. I have counted five spruce trees higher than my head. There are some transplants of red roses and two beautiful gardenia bushes to my waist on either side of the back path. They have blossomed already. The avocado tree has many small pears on it. I am sleeping very well on your nice big double bed. And there are so many of the good things that you left to enjoy. I feel guilty every time I touch them and keep wondering if you did not forget to ask for certain things to be sent and if I could pack them in, too. I am getting together your list and trust that all will be packed all right. Mr Bastin has moved to Wamba; Hector and I had tea with his younger brother and wife at Stan (Kisangani); they have a dress shop there. So we will pack the things and send them via Keating. The mission does want to buy the microscope. No one has said anything about my taking the things that you indicated in your list for us. We are set up very comfortably here and could not ask for a nicer way to start housekeeping. Hector likes to keep things in repair and everything seems to be in good condition.
You will be interested to know that tomorrow all six of us are going to Boyulu for a General Conference. They are formulating a Field Constitution, or rather, so far as I can tell, accepting the one drawn up when you were here. They are very anxious that we ALL be there and that we stay for a couple weeks.
I trust that you will soon receive Botiki’s letter sent last week. He was very pleased with the bicycle and phonograph and records. We hear them playing them nearly every day. I have been feeding a little new-born baby whose mother is here receiving shots; she has no milk and cannot walk. The baby’s name is Lollypop. It is about a month old now. Maria will feed it while I am gone. I taught last two weeks a Singing Class for some special evangelist meetings. I do not know yet what I will be doing here; we’ll have a Station meeting about it when we get back from Boyulu. Well, my paper does not permit more, tho’ there is much more. I am well, and Hector is gaining in weight. Please write soon. May the Lord be with you all. With love, Ione
PS: Here’s a bit of goat hair and snake scale.”
Whist Ione writes to Pearl and the Westcott’s, Hector writes to Marcellyn:
Now what do you think! ! ! !
Well, at last Ione and I are settled down to married life. And it is grand! Remember you tried to tell me now nice she was. Well, I can multiply that by seven now. I really had some high hopes but they were not high enough. Every day she grows a little bit sweeter. A few more months and I won’t have to take sugar in my tea.
She is so easy to love and tease and work with. We are pretty well acquainted now. We have both been in the best of health. I suppose if she were writing she would say that it was due to her good cooking. So it is but then I wasn’t sick before she came either!
Our house is lovely. I just wish you could see it. There are some nice pictures up. In fact one right here on the desk is the big one of yourself. It is very good; I must congratulate you on it. Ione doesn’t mind my looking at it once in a while. It just pleases her that I think a lot of you as well.
How is your course coming along at college? You will soon know it all. I do hope you will pass with high grades and then hurry into your interesting candidate period, and then out to the field.
It seems a shame to write such a short letter after waiting so long but we have quite a lot of letters to write these days. It is 8:30 p.m. now and in about another half hour we will be having our devotions and remembering you in prayer. We have them separately in the morning and together at night. There are so many things to thank the Lord for ! ! ! !
Well, good-night Marcellyn, Lots of love, Hector”
It falls to Ione too write to Hector’s sister Alice on 22nd January 1946. Ione quickly sketches her outward journey, describing how one of the seven ton engines of the Gripsholm broke down, the ship limping into Naples and the passengers transfer to the troop ship where they slept on triple decker bunk beds; including the opera singer and her 26 pieces of luggage!
“I took a train to Cairo and then a series of four trains and two steamers up the Nile 18 days to Juba, 2400 miles. I saw many camels, Arabs, hippos, crocodiles and 7 foot Dinka natives (who were naked). The Dinkas are a tribe of Africans from Sudan. One soldier shot 12 crocs from the boat, some of them 15 ft. long. Hippos were so thick that we bumped into one in a group of 17. The steamer had 5 barges attached and a crocodile got caught between & it had to be taken out section by section; dead and bloated it was about 4 ft. wide and very smelly. A snake crawled up on our barge!”
There is little description of the wedding except that the day was cloudy and Hector had travelled a 1000 miles to meet her. The letter continues:
“I feel honoured to be Hector’s wife, he is so very good to me. His sisters and father have trained him well! And our times of prayer together are so especially precious.
Of course, we have many plans for the future. Just now we are not sure which phase of the work will be ours for the coming year for we have just finished having a General Conference of all 18 missionaries at Boyulu, one of our four stations, and we are now travelling back to Bongondza where we will have a station council to decide. Naturally the workshop and construction will fall to Hector, and probably manual training classes. I am not sure whether I will be mostly needed in the school or at the hospital. I hope to have some Child Evangelism Classes in the villages and to take several treks. I have a native baby to feed & care for, her name is Lollypop. Her mother is partially paralyzed and her sister has leprosy. Hector & I have already taught in the evangelist’s classes held during Christmas holidays, Bible subjects and music, respectively.
We are very happy in our new home. It is made of kiln bricks with a tin roof. It has three bedrooms, a sleeping porch, screened in verandah & washing porch, basement & attic, a nice stone fireplace & kitchen wood range, hot & cold running water & bathroom fixtures, and in a few months, we’ll have electricity. (The house is spacious and roomy and sited at the top of a hill so it catches all the breezes which keep it cool in the tropical sun). And no rent to pay! The people who lived there before (whom I helped for 3 years) have given us also a piano, double bed, red-wood dining table and chairs, buffet, office furniture & shop supplies. The Lord is very good to make us so comfortably situated. But if we had nothing we’d be just as happy, “for I have learned that in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Please write to us. We hope soon to send you some pictures. Greetings to the “Big Four”, and a hug to all.
Lovingly, Ione & Hector”
On the 27th January 1946, Ione writes her mother a long letter which details what life is like for the newly married couple and what they are engaged in:
“Many happy returns of the day, many seasons of joy be given;
May the Lord in His mercy prepare you on earth for a beautiful birthday in heaven.”
It does not seem possible that you have had another birthday. And last year we were not together either. I am so sorry for all the time that we were separated. It seems I was more zealous for getting wisdom than anything else right then. But I am more than glad that we could be together all summer anyway. And we did get around to many places, didn’t we? As yet I can’t see where all of my great wisdom is helping me much, for I don’t think I’ll be teaching school after all, since Verna is coming back (is almost here now!) and there is Viola Walker and Joan Pengilly who are in charge of the girls’ and boys’ schools. But just to show you how the Lord always does the unexpected – I had longed so when I first came out to do just as much evangelistic work as I could when I came, and then because of my many duties with the sick and the white children, I was restrained. And during that time I seemed to be always impressed that I would not be worth much without a knowledge of teaching. But now it appears that I will be free to do what my heart really longs to do, win souls. Of course, there will be times when I must teach them to read the Bible, but I am glad that there will be no restricting school hours to prevent me from getting right out into the villages. I hope to start a series of child evangelism classes and I think there will be a number of Christian women who will help. And I must learn how to trace down the villages of people who come to Botiki for medical aid and go to them and visit. I am quite certain that personal evangelism will reach them far quicker than classwork and meetings. Of course, I will be free to have as many meetings as I wish. Isn’t it wonderful to take advantage of some of the unlimited opportunities to reach precious souls? We are waiting for a station meeting when Hector returns this week from Juba with Verna, but even tho I don’t know what my official status will be, I am sure that the Lord has called me to a definite work of evangelism here. No doubt I will have a choir, too, and that will be a thrill. We have a little organ now and it helps a great deal.
But there I am spilling out all of my ambitions and I have not yet told you that I have not had one letter from you since arrival, nor from Marcellyn. Doris wrote me that she was leaving for Alaska in three weeks. And I had a letter from Lucille. Then Mr Pudney wrote telling of the great interest in Maurice’s and Lucille’s church in missions, and how they had agreed to provide a service fund of $300 a year. That is great, and it comes to me just at the time when Hector’s service fund has been stopped. You remember the church I visited in Portsmouth and its difficulties of which I told you? Well, they have had to drop Hector’s because the people were all war-workers and have left town. But he still has his regular support. Mine comes, too. Our wedding was quite an expense and it will take several months to catch up, but it was worth it. Taking the extra trip around by Mt. Ruwenzori had to come out of our pockets, but the good food and refreshment repaid us. Hector needed it. He had gotten quite thin, and I persuaded him not to rush back to the station. He has put on more weight in just the last few weeks. And I am up to 127pounds. The extra pounds are fat, not baby! We have been married two whole months and we don’t have a baby yet!
The black one (Lollypop) is doing fine. We were away two weeks at Boyulu for the General Conference, and Botiki’s wife took care of her then. She did very well, must have given rounding measurements of Klim, for the milk ran out one day before we arrived. Today I noticed that the baby has a skin disease, called panda (an autoimmune neurological disease that develops from a streptococcal infection); and it’s funny, I think I have the same stuff on my legs! I must be more careful how I handle the little thing. The girl who takes care of Lollypop and bathes her has leprosy, all the more reason why I must be careful. The father does it when he is there, tho. But he has been working in the cotton gardens all day. Just yesterday he sold his season’s crop of cotton to the government, six big baskets for 190 francs, about $4.00. His wife should have tended the garden, but she cannot walk because of paralysis since the baby came. It is a bad case of syphilis. She is getting shots for it but suffers a great deal. The father does not profess to be a Christian but prays beautiful prayers and seems very interested. Pray for them all, especially for the little leper girl of about 12 who cares for another younger child as well, and who is always smiling and seems very fond of coming to our house. I have had many women in for private talks on spiritual things. Some of them drag in mud, others carry palm oil over the rug, or their babies wet, but it is worth it to contact them. Yesterday I made a dress of some material a pagan woman brought and today she wore it smiling to church.
I have been wondering what you are doing; how the work at Princes is getting on, and if you are any nearer to the realization of a tiny cottage to call home. If you could only get out here, there is plenty of room for bag and baggage; two bedrooms and a sleeping porch going to waste right now! There hasn’t been a single snake here for two months! Nor a scorpion or a centipede. The drivers surrounded the house on New Year’s Day, but only a small contingent entered via the back door and a crack in the basement. We sprayed creolin around, and then they got side-tracked by a long snake that was in their path. We saw a brownish-black heap and my poking it a bit, discovered they (the driver ants) were feasting on the snake. They ate it right to the bone and left the bones to bleach. Hector was bitten by a scorpion in one of Pearl’s boxes, but he did not suffer seriously from it. I have to keep at him to attend to his jiggers, rather I take them out for him, for they get so big and leave such large holes; but none of his seem to infect. He has some very bad filaria swellings, tho, and sometimes his wrist watch won’t fit on. He never complains but I know they must cause him discomfort. Incidentally he is the dearest, most thoughtful husband that I have ever had! (She hasn’t had any others!) The first and last I ever want.
I wish I could know whether you were able to replenish any of your needed winter clothes. Tell me what you need, and I can at least remember those items in prayer. What are Marcellyn’s plans? Mr Pudney keeps speaking of her coming soon; he said he tho’t Maurice’s church would help her, too. Would it be useless for me to pray that you might come when she does?
I know that you would be willing to stay in a leaf shack if the Lord led there. And we have faced that here, too. For if Hector is sent to Ekoko to put up some permanent buildings to replace those temporary ones that are now falling down, we may have just such a place. And we can take along very little furniture because of transportation facilities. But we would be happy if that is His will. Right now things are very pleasant and comfortable, but we keep telling ourselves we shall be willing to go anywhere.
Your black and orchid pompom curtains are now in Hector’s study. And they do look lovely against the grey wall. I remember how nice they looked at 106 Preston. I hope that you had a very happy Christmas Day and New Year’s. And now I want you to know that you are the dearest mother any girl could have. I’m sure I must have disappointed you many times. Please forgive me and be assured that I love you dearly. I am anxiously waiting to hear from you. Love, Ione”
On the 11th February 1946, Ione writes a ‘circular’ letter; one that is duplicated and sent to multiple recipients. Ione starts:
GREETINGS! It has been a long, long while since some of you have heard from either of us. And when you did, Hector McMillan was still enjoying his single life, and Ione McMillan was still Ione Reed! On November 27, 1945, the vows were spoken, “for better – not for worse”, at Juba, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It was a quiet ceremony performed in the chapel of the Church Mission Society before thirty-five white guests and many dark faces in the windows! One of the first to congratulate us was Balimaga, the boy Hector had taken along on the trip from Bongondza to Juba. Balimaga was the bad boy of the school but since he accepted Christ he has proved very useful to Hector at the shop as well as on this journey.
After a two-weeks’ journey (we made it last a little long since it was our honeymoon and since we were passing very near to interesting A.I.M. stations and the famed Mt. Ruwenzori!), we arrived December 12th at Bongondza. We had stopped at Aba with Roy and Mrs Brill, Mary White and Dorothy Lutz; at Todro with the Misses Wightmen and Settles; at Aru with the Harris family; at Rethy with the Stauffachers; at Blukwa with the Epps and Brashlers, Miss Love and Miss Olsen; and Ruwenzori with Mr Harry Hurlburt. Mr Hurlburt sold us a folding organ which we brought back to our station; this has been a great addition to the church services. Of course it was thrilling to come to Bongondza and to be carried over the threshold of the former Dr. Westcott home. It is a nice brick house with hot and cold running water and a promise of electricity in a few months. Hector doesn’t miss the electric lights as much as I do. A few weeks ago while he was making another trip to Juba to meet Verna Schade, returning from America, I heard a storm coming in the night and lit a candle to close the windows and doors. Before I reached a window, the wind blew out the candle, so I lit the kerosene lamp. The wind blew it out, too, and while I was contemplating on the best method of lighting the gasoline pressure lamp, the sun came up!
She continues with news of Lollypop, the black girl they are caring for and the various conferences that are taking place including the General Conference at Boyulu, where 18 missionaries congregated. Ione writes:
Highlights were inspirational messages by Mr Jenkinson on, “Make His praise glorious,” Psa. 66:2, and by Chester Burk on, “He abideth faithful,” II Tim. 2:13.
Jim Carter as mission secretary had written to all the missionaries prior to the meeting with drafts of ‘rules’ for the missions, so the conference was more than inspirational messages but included a great deal of hard work and debate which included decisions about their governance.
Be assured that we have not forgotten you, although it seems impossible to get up to date in personal letters. Our heartfelt thanks go out to you who have written such splendid letters to Hector while waiting for his “bride”, to Ione while on furlough and just before sailing. Thank you ever so much for the gifts for the wedding and cards of congratulation, for the money gifts for the work as well as personal money gifts for trousseau and wedding. Thanks most of all for your prayers.
PROVING HIS FAITHFULNESS
Yours in his Service, Hector and Ione McMillan
The letter includes a post script:
“P.S. A big hug for Esther, Ruth, Lawrence and their mother and daddy!”
Which means this letter came from Lucille and Maurice, Ione’s sister and brother in law.
On February 22nd, Ione and Hector send Lucille and Maurice a personal letter, it is obvious Ione is the main letter writer, however, Hector adds his name:
Dear Sister and Brother,
By ordinary mail you will receive sometime in the next six months our form letter (circular cited above), the contents of which you already know for the most part. We were sorry to hear that Lucille was sick at Christmas time. Hope she is feeling much better now. Mother’s latest letter said she was better. You shouldn’t work so hard, Lucille. That’s what my husband tells me.
Your letter written on the top step at eleven was received Jan. 27th, and it was very welcome, and thanks for the picture, and your letter, too, Esther. Glad you liked the baking set. Wish we were there to share the good things to eat. This afternoon when the cook comes he is going to press out some little flower cookies with an outfit that Mrs Jenkinson let me borrow. Then I’ll put them in a tin box and keep them for when company arrives. We had a white man sleep here two nights ago. And since Jenkinson’s are at Ekoko for a few weeks, we entertained him. He was a Norwegian, Mr Ostenson, but he talks English.
Hector blows a whistle in the mornings now that starts the drum going which calls the men to work.
Then he gives them a message and starts them making bricks. Then he goes to his carpenter shop and starts his carpenters, as well as Mr Jenkinson’s. He is very busy now; they cut down a tree and are hauling the big planks to the shop. Then the planks will be transformed into furniture.
We were thrilled to be married on Lucille’s birthday, it will be fun celebrating together someday, won’t it? We are ever so happy together. Hector is very thoughtful and lots of fun, too. He eats everything that is set before him, and sometimes that is pretty bad. Like last Sunday when the meat had spoiled and the rolls were like rocks, but with a boy to bear the blame, one can always set things aside that are too bad and find something else. When I am in meetings or occupied at the hospital I spend very little time in the kitchen. The boy has learned to make good bread and can make cupcakes and upside-down cake and biscuits.
Yesterday we were happy when the mail came to find that the service support had arrived from your church. This was a definite answer to prayer, for Hector’s stopped last month because the church was almost disbanded when the war workers moved away from that particular factory centre. And there are work expenses constantly needed for the shop, and possible for the hospital. Will you thank the church for their kindness in remembering me? It is grand that they are interested in Marcellyn and are helping her. She wrote us this week (we rec’d it this week) about how happy she is to be well cared-for. And she hopes to go to the Mission Home when she graduates. We are hoping she can come here, of course, but if the Lord is leading her to Ekoko or elsewhere, we shall be equally as happy.
I am glad the Junior Church is interested in the work here. They would love to have been with me last Tuesday when I started one of a series of Child Evangelism Classes at Wameka, a village 8 kilometres away. Hector was hauling sand from nearby with the car, so I hopped in and while he was getting three loads of sand I had the meeting and there were eight children to start with. I took the guitar and a girl and a boy who were Christians. They sang trios with me in a new language to me, Kibua, which most of the children know. Then I spoke in Bangala and the girl interpreted into Kibua. The boy, David, prayed in Kibua. There were a number of parents listening, too. Afterward, I took a rubber ball from my pocket and we played some games. As we were leaving, six other children came and were so disappointed to have missed it, but I had to go about a fifteen minute walk to where I was to meet Hector and could not wait, so the children went right along with us, and I talked to them about the Lord on the way, and we sang too, but when we came to Bozezo where we were to meet Hector, he was not there yet, so we went onto a verandah, and had another meeting; just as we were finishing, he came, but it was so worthwhile. We did not give an invitation this time, but will make sure they understood us first. They all promised to come next Tuesday to Wameka. There are ever so many children around either too small for our school, or kept home to watch younger children while the mother is in the forest. It is a real opportunity. I am hoping eventually to have Christian mothers as the teachers for six or eight classes.
While Botiki was in Buta a couple of weeks ago, a wounded man was bro’t to the Hospital, badly wounded when a tree fell on him and knocked his axe into the back of his leg real deeply. He lost ever so much blood. Hector was in Juba meeting Verna Schade, but Jenkinson’s were here. Together we endeavoured to care for him until Botiki came.
Thanks for the Christmas card before I forget it; it came in good time.
Tomorrow I will make another attempt to get a choir together. They are very uncertain, these people, but they do love to sing. We are doing four-part harmonies in Bangala, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”, another, “Thou shalt call His Name Jesus,” and “This is the house of the Lord.” We have, “He Lives,” now in Bangala, and I’m anxious to try them on it. Mother would be interested to know that I am trying to give the houseboy, Abongakwai, piano lessons. But they memorize rather than read music!
Well, I must close and get this in an envelope (if I can get the envelope unstuck!)
Love to all in Christ, Hector & Ione
Love from Hector X
From exerts found in another letter written by Ione on the 25th February, recipient unspecified, we learn:
“The native hunter has been busy since a gun arrived from the government for our use; it was one captured by the Belgians from the Italians. We have had wild pigs for two weeks and it is a great treat. Out cheapest tinned meat here is 25 cent sardines. Spam is about a dollar. We are glad to receive fresh butter every other week. It comes from the Kivu mountains and costs about 50¢ a pound.
The boy who works for us usually makes quite good bread, but one day this week he delayed coming to put it into the oven and when he arrived it had risen and sank again. His heart sank when he saw it and he said, “It has died.” He started to put it into the oven, but I showed him how he could knead it down and it would rise again; he was amazed for he didn’t think it would ever live again.
Today a boy of about ten was brought into the hospital. He is exceedingly thin and cannot retain ordinary food. He could not retain the medicine Botiki gave him, so Botiki has turned him over to me for a little feeding up with glucose solution. When his relatives gave him lemons I showed them how to make lemonade and he is retaining that. He is all eyes, for his face is so thin and he cannot sit up, but his eyes follow me everywhere and he has a sweet smile.
Little Lollypop who was brought to us some time ago, at the point of death, surely responds to a good milk diet. She was a little wrinkled dying bit when we took her, but two months has put her in the brownish-pink of condition. She weighs almost 8 pounds now.
How I wish you could have a peep into the school when the children arrive next Friday. School starts first of March, when the rains begin. It is difficult to get them here before the rains. Miss Schade, Miss Walker and Miss Pengilly will concentrate on the school, tho I may help with the music.
Hector has a unique way of presenting Gospel truths to the natives which they find fascinating. He uses Bible illustrations with them in their work, and carpenter and farm illustrations with them in church. Pray for him in his ministry here.
Ione writes to the family on 15th March 1946, as stated at the end, the letter is sent to multiple recipients, thus saving Ione time:
This afternoon I washed my hair with the grand shampoo that Mother gave me before I sailed. I had to wash it, for it was full of the funniest little bugs, no, not what you think at all, but let me tell you what happened. Early this morning I started out with the guitar, Tony the Monkey, a rubber ball, a bite to eat, and an object lesson. At the first village a former school girl decided to go along with me and carried the guitar. We passed a number of villages until we came to just the right one, for always at this time on Friday I have found a fair-sized child evangelism class. It was Alphonso’s village, – he is a former hospital nurse, and he is very friendly, tho a Catholic. I opened the guitar case and began to play, “Come to Jesus”, and Bipisa sang with me as the children gathered. At the roll call I discovered some new ones and gave points to the ones who invited them; when they’ve brought three they receive a tiny bright metal automobile or airplane (they generally choose one like Bwana (Mr) Kinso drives for they see him go past frequently). Then we sang, “Jesus Love Me This I Know.” And “For You, For Me, Jesus Died” and prayed the little prayer song, “We all rise up together”. Then came time for my message, and I chose the tallest boy to be king and put a red pyjama top on him and a crown of thorns made out of paper. As the talk progressed I drew objects out of each thorn, the third being a green paper cross. I asked them why it was green and they didn’t know, so I tapped the pole above where I was sitting under the shelter of the house, and said, “This is dead, it is not green; Christ’s cross is green because He gives life everlasting.” Then I tapped it again to make sure they knew, and out from a hole in it came myriads of these tiny flies! They made my scalp creep and crawl, and I wiggled my head a lot during the rest of my talk.
Something else that you would have laughed at. At the last village, before I turned around to start back, I took out a pineapple jam sandwich and a cupcake to eat there. They gave me a chair and put it near their fire where the old grandfather was sitting picking jiggers out of his feet! Of course, I would not move the chair from where they had so graciously put it, so I munched my food pensively gazing into the clouds!
An interesting characteristic about these people is their great ability to wail loudly at a death and at the same time to carry on quite a normal conversation. Their thoughts are almost continually on things to eat and things to wear. While relatives were digging a grave of a school boy who died at Maganga, their wailing was interspersed with a discussion on the price of a goat, 150 francs at Maganga, but 200 at Stanleyville.
Some days ago, a little girl died here. She had been treated at the hospital and I had been feeding her milk with glucose in it; she must have been about two years old and weighed only 12 pounds due to liver disorder. Naturally I felt the loss, for we had tried so hard to save her. When she was dying I repeatedly put her into warm water to revive her. After spending some time with the hopelessly mourning parents, I turned to go. One of the station sawyers, named Baruti, or gunpowder, followed me and spoke in low, awed voice, “It is true, what you told them, not to make those loud noises or to hurt each other (the father had to be tied in a separate room from the mother, for he blamed the baby she was expecting to give birth to soon for the death of this child), and that the little child is in heaven and calling to the parents to turn their hearts and receive Christ and come there, too. I wanted to make loud noises, too, and did, too at first, for I said to myself, ‘What is the use, anyway, of trying to be quiet, for my heart is sad, and these white people didn’t save this child, and I brought my sewing machine a long time ago for Bwana McMillan to repair and he hasn’t fixed it yet.’ Then I told myself, ‘No, I’ll not wail, for it is good that the child is with the Lord, and I believe Bwana will repair my sewing machine soon!”
Imagine, choosing such a time for reminding us that the sewing machine is still in a state of disrepair! At any rate, he got his machine repaired.
We now have our full staff once more on the station, seven members, Verna Schade arrived in January. Verna and Kinsos returned this week from a trip to Ekoko, and Viola Walker and Joan Pengilly returned from trek. Now Hector and I are making a trip to Stanleyville to get some bicycles for this station and Ekoko, as well as Maganga. Verna is going along and we probably will visit Maganga one day. We’ll be gone about five days. Then when we return, we will probably go to Ekoko for two weeks to give them their bicycles. Ekoko is still without a white person and while we are there I will have some women’s classes and Hector will direct some building repairs.
We had a letter from Mr Pudney, this week, just before he sailed on the Queen Elizabeth for England and from thence to Congo for a visit. He said he had written Marcellyn to plan to rest for a while after graduation and then study some more French (conversational) for six months and then proceed to the Congo early in 1947. I think he must mean that she will go to that French YWCA in N.Y. where Pearl is getting some French. Two other candidates are there now. They have to speak it all the time and in that way Marcellyn could get some experience before she comes. It is a disappointment, for I had hoped to see her this year, but Rom. 8:28 is still true. We received your letter, Marcellyn, and were ever so glad to have it. I will try to remember to enclose a list of things you could be getting together during the summer months. For you won’t be able to get many cotton things when fall comes. Glad for your good marks and hope you haven’t gotten too tired with such a heavy schedule. Glad, too, for the missionary awakening at BJC (Bob Jones College).
We were tickled over the children’s letter, Lucille, written on the top step, we did appreciate the sacrifice of sleep it meant. Had a letter from Mother just the next week, a very good one. Our hunter is bringing in more meat now, Mother, so don’t worry about our food supply, and we have had an unusually fine supply of eggs. I have planted some onions and celery, and have some squash seeds ready to put in. When my baggage comes I will plant the seeds in my box. Oh, a big station garden has gone in, too, with corn and peanuts, and I gave Hector some popcorn to put in which we got on our honeymoon, so we’ll not fare so badly unless the chickens get it all. Am so glad the work is going along well, Mother. We shall be waiting for more and more news. We’ll be praying for the Bible study in the Loyal’s monthly meetings. Give them my love. Any hope of a cottage to store your things in? I hope someday we will all be together again in a little cottage on a lake.
Hector and I are very happy. He is so sweet and loving, sensitive to the least dissatisfaction on my part. And he works so hard, up at 5:30 every morning. He and his carpenters have just made some lovely choir loft benches for the choir I am directing. They will have robes by Easter, I hope. You would love to see the expressions on their faces when they file in to take their places.
Now please all write again soon. May the Lord richly bless you all. I am sending this letter to Mother, Marcellyn, and Lucille.
In His Service, Ione”
On March 25th 1946, Ione has happy news for her mother:
Late Sat. night we returned from Stanleyville (as well as Boyulu and Maganga), and since yesterday was Sunday we’re just getting settled in again. When we went to the P.O. we had a letter from Boyulu saying Betty Ingleson could come to us for a holiday if we liked (we had invited her before), so we drove on to their station and picked her up. She is a lovely English nurse and will be with us for about three weeks. She hasn’t had a rest since she came out three years ago. She recently became engaged to John Arton, another of our missionaries at Boyulu.
I was glad to have Betty come for more than one reason, for I wanted her to verify the fact that I am expecting a baby, which she did! I missed my March period and last week started to get nauseated. As nearly as Hector and I can figure, the baby should arrive in November. Now don’t you worry about that, for I am in excellent health and near to a Doctor. We can go either to the B.M.S. doctor a day and a half journey, or about two days to Oicha, the A.I.M., which I think I would prefer if we go a month ahead. While Betty is here she will examine me, and a little later I can be measured by her palvimeter, to see if I can have a normal delivery, which I of course should. I am glad the class put a layette in the things, and that I have some maternity dresses on the way, too. As yet they haven’t arrived, but should before long.
The mail must go now, but you are the first one I am telling. You may tell the rest of the family and friends if you like. I wouldn’t mind having the world know! I trust you are well. Please write again soon. Lovingly in Him, Ione”
On the same day, Hector writes to his father:
This letter may not be very long but it is rather important.
I guess you have been waiting for an announcement. Well, if all goes well, Ione and I will become parents sometime in November. She is so happy about it that she would like to tell the whole world. She is writing to her mother and I’m thrilled to be able to tell my people.
There is no need to worry because we are within easy distance of medical help and several of our missionaries have had medical experience.
I will leave it to you, Dad, to tell the others, when you write to them.
The euphoria and happiness does not last long, as seen in a letter sent by Hector and Ione to Marcellyn on 1st April 1946:
Your letter is in the office and at the moment I must stay in bed, so I can’t answer questions that might be in your letter. But I did want to get off a letter to you in this morning’s mail. We were so happy to receive you newsy letter and glad for your good marks. I guess you’ll be glad when you are finished at last, won’t you? I wondered what you felt like when Mr Pudney wrote you saying you were to rest a while and then get some more French experience before sailing. I presume that you felt that you had really had enough -:?
Well, I think what he has in mind, and he wrote us a letter just before leaving for England, in which he intimated it, is that you go to that French YWCA in New York where Pearl Hiles is now – also two Canadian candidates, Mrs Reeves and Miss Wild. When Verna Schade was there she worked in the office, answered the telephone in French, and carried on considerable business just in French since there are about 400 French people in that vicinity. I don’t think any of the present girls felt equal to taking the office job, but if it’s not taken now I would think you would be brave enough to tackle it, and it would help pay expenses while there. Or perhaps another French job would open up and that would give you the practical working knowledge that I think Mr Pudney wants. If that wouldn’t do, I can give you Hector’s sister’s address in Montreal and thru her and two other sisters there you could find a French speaking home and maybe a job. In fact in any of the places of business in Montreal one must be a bilinguist. And the French is quite nearly like the French here, from all that I have heard.
I hope the fact that you would not be coming out until spring of 47 does not discourage you, also the thought of where you might go to rest after graduation. I have been praying much about this, and trying to not pray selfishly, for I know that if another board would send you out sooner you may be tempted to A.I.M. or S.A.G.M.
By the way I had a lovely letter from Mrs Foster. She said her son had mentioned meeting my sister. If you feel the Lord is leading you to seek another board, don’t let me stand in the way. But even if there is a delay it is better to be absolutely in the place where He wants you.
If you do come here while we are here, even if you go to Ekoko, you will probably learn the language here, so that it might be possible for us to live together even for a little while! Needless to say, Hector and I wish this very much.
Last Monday I sent a short letter to Mother announcing that I was expecting a baby. Well, here is the sequel: The next day was the day for my farthest children’s meeting and I guess I walked a little too far, and it seems to have brought on a threatened miscarriage. I have been in bed about a week and if things continue to be all right I will soon be up. Fortunately for me one of our missionaries, a splendid English nurse is visiting us at this time and is giving me splendid care, So far as I know I am expecting a baby.
This is Hector writing now. There is not much left to say but I’m sorry Ione has had all this trouble. I hope she will soon be up again. I have had a chance to prove my promise to love her in sickness and in health ! ! ! ! I still remember all your kindness to me when I was a lonely single man. You were an excellent substitute for Ione.
My class in manual training is just across the pineapple patch, in the carpenter shop. They are making deck chairs from a pattern of one I have. Some of the lads are quite good with tools.
We will be waiting for you next letter…….Yours in Christ…Ione and her husband
ON April 8th, 1946, Marcellyn writes to Hector and Ione:
“Dearest Ione and Hector,
Thanks for your “carbon copy,” but where was the list, Ione? I too, was a little dismayed to think of not going out until next January or February but keep praying. It might yet work out that I shall go in September. My French is coming along fine, and Dr. Sebring is helping me extra. She believes I’ll be able to speak it pretty well by the end of this year. However, I am willing to go to the French School in N.Y. if He wants me to, because I know how important it is to have a good French background.
The Valley Farms young people are going to support me. They are helping me now with $40.00 a month. Isn’t that wonderful? The Lord is so good to me. We just finished the best 8-day Bible Conference we’ve had since I’ve been here. All the speakers were so good – so spiritual & inspirational. I enjoyed the missionary speaker best of all, Mrs Hawthorne, who was in the jungles of Sumatra. Her message made me all the more anxious and willing to GO myself! I am especially burdened to reach tribes who have never yet been reached with the Gospel.
The same week I got your letter, Herbert heard from his Mother and she told him that if I was anything like my sister I was worthwhile knowing. Wasn’t that sweet? It’s too bad I’m not like my sister! I’ll let Hector decide that, though! Or Herbert – someday!?! No, seriously, I am glad you have met Herbert’s parents and I hope I’ll have that privilege someday. Herbert must be a lot like his Dad. We are finding greater inspiration and blessing in our friendship, and it’s hard not to think and hope for the future. Please pray that God will lead him to Belgian Congo. He doesn’t know yet what field in Africa he will be going to. His parents hope he will go to Northern Rhodesia. His call is the same as mine – to unreached tribes. But God will work things out according to His plan, not ours.
We are keeping yielded & willing each day for His will to be done with both of us. He is praying, too, that I will be able to go next September. We have the sweetest time of devotions together and a heart-to-heart talk now and then with devotions.
Do you know of a Mr and Mrs Brown who are stationed in Belgian Congo? Their son Paul is a student here and is graduating in our class, and he is planning to work with the Congo Press. Paul Brown’s parents just came home to California on furlough. I just met another fellow here who has missionary parents. He was born in Belgian Congo, and his mother is buried there. Larry Laird is his name. His father and step-mother are now working for Mid-Missions in French Equatorial Africa.
Just eight weeks from Wednesday I will be graduated from College!! On June 5 Mother & Lucille & Maurice & children are planning to come. Wish you & Doris could be here, too. I will be sending you an announcement anyway. Please continue to pray for me, and we are remembering you often.
Your letter was so interesting – I passed it around to a few other students. One of my roommates has yielded her life to be a missionary and she is interested in India. Pray that my life will be a blessing, and will influence others here to go to the regions beyond. Pray also for Herbert & his financial needs. His faith is being tried. Write again SOON. Love to both of you, Marcellyn
On the 14th April, 1946, Ione appraises her mother of the threatened miscarriage:
I’ve been trying to think whether Hector and I thanked you for the lovely box you sent him for his birthday and the lovely card, too. We’re still enjoying the peppermints and making them last as long as we can. Just now Hector has relinquished all claims on the remaining four packages for they are grand for settling my stomach. I expect to have them in my pocketbook when we drive this week to Stanleyville. We’ll be taking Betty back as far Stan and she’ll take a bus to her station. Then we will go by motorboat a few hours down the Congo to Yakusu where I have an appointment with a Dr. Holmes, British Baptist Mission Society, for an examination. Betty tho’t it wise that I see a doctor after the threatened miscarriage I have had (I wrote to Marcellyn about it). It came on just the day after your last letter (March 25th) was sent. It might have come from too much laxative, but Betty (and I’m glad she was here visiting us for she is a registered nurse!) said it was probably the long walk I took (about ten miles) for a children’s meeting. I haven’t been walking that far, and from now on we will use work funds for the gas that it takes for such meetings, since gas is easier to get than babies! When I was on my way back my period came on, and do you know that just when I was wondering if I would get back home before I lost the baby, Hector drove up in the car. He has an uncanny sense of knowing just when I need him most! Bless his heart. He would have driven me in the first place but I did not let him. He was quite worried, but it is all over now, and the nausea all came back and after staying in bed for over a week I got up, but Betty says not to do much of anything or go walking until after I see the doctor.
Well, enough about the baby. Everyone here is very kind and sympathetic and I am sure that I will know better now how to take care of myself. If we don’t hang up another little stocking next Christmas I know there will be two disappointed people! We are so happy together and it seems our joy will be complete with a baby.
Your March 25 letter came this week and thanks. I was really glad and relieved to know that you were with Lucille. For I have been worrying a great deal lately, feeling that you were not satisfied there and wondering how it would come out. I am glad for all the work you were able to do there. And for the precious souls saved. And now you are all going to see Marcellyn graduate! I am so glad! I hope it will be real joy to you all, especially Esther who needs to begin thinking of what she will do with her life.
Lollypop is fat and flourishing. She laughs and teases me now when I play with her; she is now nearly five months. Her mother gets to church occasionally now. I give her a pretty dress to wear there when she goes; also one to the leper girl and the little brother; and the baby has a fresh flannel jacket and blanket on Sundays.
Thanks for the key to the drum. We hope this week to hear that the baggage has arrived in Stan.
We will surely pray for your future, Mother. I know how you miss and need a companion. And I do wish I could help you to get a hat and dress. But we will pray much and since He has never failed, I believe He will provide the companion as well as the clothing.
We are getting enough eggs now to have one apiece each morning for breakfast. We praise the Lord for that. And we have had fresh meat several times frequently. The last animal the hunter got was an elephant, so we couldn’t share that, but Kinso brought an antelope nearby so we feasted, too. We have decided not to stint ourselves on the milk. Hector is very fond of it and drinks it at every meal. Klim, of course.
Well it is getting dark and Hector is not back yet from the village meeting to light the gas lamp, so I cannot write more now. Loads of love, Ione
The next day, Hector writes to Leone:
I had your envelope addressed & intended writing you, but while I was out to the village meeting Ione beat me to it. However I can add a few lines.
We were interested in your long letter. Thanks for all the news. You certainly have your share of changes. It must mean a lot of packing & unpacking. We would call it trekking out here!
The other day Ione surprised me by saying she thought my love for her might be getting less after 5 months of being married, but to her it seemed as though it were just as abundant. And so it is. She is so lovable and easy to get along with. The chief diet I give her is teasing!
Well Mother, may the Lord take all your burdens and return to you a heart that rejoices to be in His will. Your continued prayers for us are appreciated. Your Son, Hector”
On the 26th April 1946 Ione responds to a letter sent by Marcellyn on 8th April (mail is getting quicker):
Dearest little Sister,
Greetings in Jesus’ precious Name!
As usual, my memory is poor, and I forgot the list (of things they will all need and that Marcellyn can bring with her) in the last letter. But your letter came yesterday reminding me of it and I want this to reach you before you graduate. It will be good to pick as many things as you can for Africa and even if you have to wait awhile, they will be ready just in case you can get off quickly. I wondered at first if you would be tempted to turn to another mission, but I am satisfied by your letter that your decision is quite definitely for the U.F.M., for which I am glad.
I am happy that your French is coming along well. Use it whenever you can. If you wish to write to the French YWCA in N.Y. here is the address. Verna Schade just told me that she is not sure whether the Sec’t, Miss Kaempf has an assistant yet, but it would be worth asking for that job, if you want a job. That is in the office. You could also inquire for other French secretarial positions. It seems most of the girls who live there are French governesses, but I think they would be glad to find someone who would qualify for an office job, too. It there is no opening for a position ask for a place as a resident, and you can obtain a private teacher there who will be a real help. The Y has a definitely Christian emphasis, the Sec’t is a member of Calvary Baptist Church, where our Trio has been. And the woman in charge is Hortense Quinche, of A.I.M. Write to Miss Madeline Kaempf, 124 W. 16th St., French Young Women’s Christian Union, N.Y. If you go as a resident of the Y, no doubt the Valley Farms Y.P.’s support will meet your expenses for room and board.
I don’t know the Browns but Hector has met them in Leopoldville (Kinshasa). I haven’t met the Lairds but they have been at Bongondza before I came, and at one time they were trying to take Bobby Westcott to America; they are friends of the Westcott’s. Verna Schade has a cousin at BJC (Bob Jones College) whom she would like you to greet, Janet Wildy. Tell her Verna would like a letter.
A week ago I travelled by car the six hours to Stan (Kisangani) (good time!) and a motor launch met us and took us on down to Yakusu to see Dr. Holmes of the Baptist Mission Society of England. It took 1-1/2 hrs. down the river and 3 up river. After an examination, Dr. said I could expect a baby Nov. 19th possibly. But of course he could not say definitely as yet. I am to see him again in Sept., and then go for the baby Oct. 25th. Hope you’re here by then to be my nurse.
Now for the list:
6 writing tablets
6 sheets blotting paper
2 bottles ink (unbreakable if possible)
1 rm. typing paper
1 rm. envelope (put bits of waxed paper under each flap)
1 doz nibs
12 sheets carbon paper
Scratch pads paste scissors
Good map of Africa
1 or 2 pictures
1 pr. pliers
1 lb. wire nails (mixed)
1 pkg. screws
Iron rivets for shoes (1/2 in. ¾ in. ½ lb. each)
Spare soles, heels, leather pieces
Small tins of enamel, shellac
CHINA & SILVER WARE
Set of china dishes for 4, 6, or 8
8 drinking glasses
Silverware in stainless steel if possible
1 stainless steel large spoon
1 stainless steel large knife
1 stainless steel large cook’s fork
ALUMINUM & IRONWARE
Iron frying pan
Baking tins for bread
Mincing machine (Universal)
11 in. baking pan
2 aluminium sauce pans
A fire stand
2 baking pans
½ gal. oil can (screw top)
Aluminium soap dish
Tin openers (2 kinds)
Washboard (I never use mine)
10 chore boys
12 glass fruit jars (wide mouthed)
1 enamel basin (wash bowl with canvas cover)
2 cups & saucers
1 teapot 3 pts.
2 meat plates
1 milk jug with lid
2 soup plates
2 pudding plates
2 mixing bowls
1 coffee pot
Salt & pepper cans
Chamber with lid
3 lunch cloths
1 nice dinner cloth & napkins
12 bath towels
12 face towels
12 hand towels
12 dish towels
12 dish cloths
1 all-wool blanket
2 part wool blankets
2 flannelette blankets
10 yds. Cretonne
10 yds. Cotton for boys’ aprons
Table doilies, etc.
2 nurses uniforms, seersucker (I never use mine)
15 pairs shoes if you’re hard to fit.
2 pairs of walking shoes for each year
1 of Sunday shoes for each year
Hand sewing machine
Plenty of shoe laces
2 steel trunks
Cash box with lock
3 packets flat toilet tissue
20 cotton or seersucker dresses
A few nice dresses
Straw hat, rain umbrella
6 cotton slips
4 silk slips
Garment bag glazed chintz
8 prs. lisle or silk hose
10 prs. cotton socks
10 tooth brushes
Wrist watch with space for contraction – heat
3 shoe brushes
3 tins polish
8 prs. pajamas
6 prs. cotton panties
1 pr. flannel pajamas
1st Aid Kit
10 bars laundry soap
20 bars face soap
I hope you can read this. In order to enclose the bills, I must send only 1 sheet of paper. Am sending a Canadian $5 and two American dollars which we happened to have (Hector’s). Hope they will be handy sometime. Also hope you have a blessed time of graduation. We praise the Lord for you and continually pray that you may have His very Best. We will be thinking about you June 5. If the French Y doesn’t turn out, write to Mrs Kenneth Pierce 5174 Cote de Neige, Montreal, Quebec, Can., Hector’s sister, and she might suggest some French opening up there. But the French spoken there is very poor grammar and quite different. With loads of love, Ione
PS: Greet Joan for me.
On 29th April 1946, Ione writes to her dear friend Agnes, from Bongondza:
I did appreciate so much receiving your recent letter. (No doubt good reading whilst indisposed and forced to rest) And Gospel Echoes arrived this week. I know you must be very happy to have the Savages back home again. Give them my love and tell them I shall be very glad to hear all about their journey.
I have been wondering just when the Missionary Conference is and if Pearl is there just now. I was glad to hear that she plans to go to Belgium on the way out. That will help her a great deal. I do hope that nothing will hinder her coming here for I do so much look forward to her fellowship again. And she is greatly needed, as you may guess. I miss Doctor very much, as do the many hundreds and thousands who are all around needing medical care.
We fully expected Lollypop’s mother to die, as she was paralyzed and had a bad case of syphilis. Then she left suddenly one day and hobbled off on her stick to seek native dawa (medicine), coming back in a few days with pneumonia. Botiki was thoroughly disgusted with her, but treated her and she recovered, and now is gaining strength. I found a bright cotton dress at the hospital for her to wear on Sundays and the dress encourages her to come across the road to church. Yesterday she and her older daughter paid me a visit, and she acted quite like a normal mother again, and was alert and stronger than she had been for a long time. It is sad that the girl has leprosy, and cannot go to school, but I am trying to teach her a little. Lollypop is doing fine, and the grandmother has come along and is taking care of her now; I just prepare the bottles (Klim, sugar and cod liver oil) and dole out the Sunday clothes.
I may be a little hasty in my announcement, but you know me, I can’t keep anything, including my breakfast, dinner and supper (this is not for publication!), and so I want you to know that perhaps we’ll hang up a little sock by next Christmas. But don’t be surprised if no birth announcement comes, for I’ve had one threatened miscarriage already and it would be almost too good to be true if I were to annex such a grand husband and a baby all in one year!
I am sorry for the bug that Helen picked up, I mean for Helen since she picked up a bug. I hope the difficulty is finished by now. It surely must be well killed if Dr. Westcott treated her for it. He knows all about such things. Tell her that the towel she embroidered that time with her name on it is being used now as a tray cover for Lollypop. It is very useful and I think of her when I prepare the baby’s milk. I hope she will have a grand time at Maranatha this summer.
I was sorry, too, to hear of Mrs Cook’s accident. How is she now? Give her my greetings when you see her.
Tell Norma that my heart is touched every time I reread the little note she sent to me when I sailed. I have always admired her so, that those words really meant a lot.
And I have chuckled many times over Dr. Savage’s farewell note. Tell him if meeny and miny cause me as much trouble as eeny, I won’t want no moh!
Enclosed is a letter for the Missionary Society. Lovingly in Him, Ione
May 2nd Ione’s mother writes to her daughter and son in law:
“Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jer. 33:3
Dearest Ione & Hector:
I was so glad to know that you were expecting to have a doctor examine you, Ione. So much can happen. It was wonderful you had a nurse right there. We are praying for you every day. We are happy for you and Hector and thrilled with the prospects of a new baby. Lucille is pregnant, too. Just started being nauseated this week. She has missed just one period. Nothing has been verified by the doctor yet. Now if Doris writes that she too is expecting, I won’t know which one to worry about most. Only I don’t worry like I use to. I am trusting the Lord more, I guess.
It was so nice, too, to hear from Hector. Appreciated the nice kiss too. I hope he meant it. I also hope he didn’t sacrifice his much-needed rest in order to write.
Foods are very scarce here. Butter is available only once in a while, and fresh meats are very scarce. We seldom see any in the markets. They say they are shipping a great lot to Europe, but it seems like this country should be producing more with the soldiers coming home. (War time can be difficult and repercussions can be felt for a long time afterwards as countries shift their focus but onto food production as opposed to munitions.)
If I can ever find a kerosene refrigerator I will surely try to get someone to buy it and have it shipped to you. You will greatly need it when the baby comes.
I expect the Pudneys will be seeing you before long. I received the monthly letter from Marion this week and she said they were surely enjoying their visit in England. Thanks again for the precious $5.00.
Good night darlings. You are two of the sweetest children any mother could have. I am so proud of you and love you so very dearly. It is such a joy to know a part of my family are on the firing line for our precious Lord in that dark place. I am praying for your every need daily, and know He will undertake “exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think.” “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.” (ants have eaten the text) Mother XX 00
Despite food shortages and other austerity measures, the churches still manage to finance their missionaries abroad. On May 5th, Ione writes to sister Lucille’s church:
Dear Friends in Christ:
Greetings in the precious Name of Jesus!
It was in February that the first $50 came through and was deposited to my account at the bank in Stanleyville. Then on April 8th the second $50 arrived. I am ashamed to be so long in informing you and thanking you for your kindness in contributing to my Service Support. This fund has already proven to be an unusual answer to prayer, for just at the time the first amount came, Hector’s service find was cut off and we wondered how we could keep the workshop supplied with needed tools and materials. Then it was necessary to make a journey to see the Doctor, and we were ever so thankful that your gifts made it possible to make this trip. We trust that the Lord will richly repay you for your generous care for our needs.
Next year we hope this station will have on it a doctor once more. But for the present time one must do a bit of travelling to find one. When the nurse told me that I had better consult a doctor we made plans for several days’ journey. Then on April 15th early in the morning Hector and I left for Stanleyville. We crossed three rivers by pontoon, large dug-out canoes lashed together with a board platform for the car and attached to a strong cable which prevents it from floating downstream. By means of poles, the river’s current, and the cable, the clumsy affair is manipulated across. But the last pontoon is not made of canoes but is a regular frame structure operated by a motor. It takes much less time with a motor.
We reached Stanleyville shortly after noon, very good time, for it sometimes takes eight or more hours. After much searching, we finally found a hotel which could squeeze us in. This was a day when both planes and a boat came into town and we were lucky to find a room. The name of the hotel was the Sabena and it was a few kilometres out at the airport. The room was cool and clean and the meals fine. Hector had business which took two days to finish and I did a little shopping and spent a good deal of time resting in the room and enjoying the luxuries that a hotel affords, – somebody else manages the native boys, somebody else plans the meals, and each is a pleasant surprise, coffee comes to the room early in the morning, and delicious bakery bread and jam if one wishes.
I lay listening to the birds, hundreds of them outside, tiny black-hooded green birds with red faces, larger weaver-birds, a tame grey and red parrot, and a perky, long-beaked hummingbird which insistently pecked on the glass of the window nearest to me. Finally, the morning came when we were to take the launch to Yakusu on the Congo where we would find the Doctor expecting us. He had arranged to send his launch for us on Friday, the 19th, and we were waiting for it almost before daylight. It took 1-1/2 hours to go down-stream, and in the afternoon, when we returned against the current, it took 3 hours. In a canoe it would have taken about 5 hours I presume. The Doctor was cheerful and encouraging and confirmed our hopes that there would be a baby by Thanksgiving. Two more journeys of this kind will be necessary, and you may be sure that we are thankful for your support.
Last Tuesday there were three at Wameka’s village who accepted Christ, two of intermediate age and one a little younger. Pray for this growing group of children and for their parents who often ‘listen-in’ at the meetings.
Very sincerely yours in Christ, Ione
The 5th May is obviously a letter writing day as Ione takes time to contact her English nurse Betty Ingleson:
Thanks very much for your letter received this week. We are glad you did have a nice time with us, regretting only that you had so much work to do for the ‘sick lady’. But is it with real thankfulness that we regard your being here just at the time when we needed you most. Thanks for coming and do so again whenever you can spare the time.
Thank you for the check which you enclosed in your letter. I hope you do not run yourself too close in household finances. Tell us how you are getting along.
Well, about Yakusu: We waited until about ten o’clock for the launch, or rather shortly after 9:30. We arrived at Yakusu a little after eleven, had some lemonade to drink, and Hector went off with Alfred (Walby) to see the station. We were surprised the Walby baby had not arrived, and still not up to this week. They promised to write us immediately upon its arrival. (Unfortunately, the Walby baby’s arrival was very traumatic for the family. After a very long labour, the baby’s head was stuck fast and there wasn’t the facilities for a caesarean operation. The only option was to rupture the baby’s skull membranes which would of course result in a stillbirth. Whilst trying to determine the best route to take, the baby’s skull membranes ruptured spontaneously. Alfred was relieved to have at least his wife, there had been the danger that he might have lost both. There are no letters pertaining to this unfortunate turn of events.)
I gave the Doctor the details of your note and he was very appreciative, took everything down on a sheet of his paper. Then he made a chest, abdominal, and vaginal examination, and announced my condition perfectly satisfactory. He said he could not tell exactly that I was pregnant, but there was every indication. He said to expect the baby Nov. 19th. He said to have Ma Kinso make a urine test each week until the fourth, and then every fortnight. I am to make a chart of my monthly period times and be rather careful for two days before and five days during those times. And he wants to make another examination the first week in Sept. Then I am to come there Oct. 25th. to stay.
That stiffness in the last vertebra the Doctor said was only a bit of rheumatism and would pass off; and it has. I am still just as nauseated but am anticipating release from it by the middle of the month.
I am glad you did see John (Betty’s husband-to-be) on your way, but sorry that he has been ill. Hope he is much better by now. It was nice that you could go again on Easter Monday. We all had a picnic that day at one of the teacher’s villages, and the men showed slides in the evening. But it rained most of the evening and the trip home was quite miserable for those in the back of the truck, and for everybody when the car slid off the road and almost into a stream. But we soon got out again. The Lord did take care of us.
I’m sure you must be very busy again now. Hope you will not get overly tired again soon.
I bought that velvet ribbon and am just waiting to hear whether Mary wants some of my wool, and then will send both together. My baggage has not yet come but will send Olive that pattern as soon as it does.
Flicker (the ‘pet’ antelope) gave us a scare one day when it stormed just at dusk and he stayed out in the forest all night. He runs freely now, as we cannot keep him in the flower house anymore. He is very peppy and very energetic. He returned in the morning and has not stayed overnight since. He eats manioc leaves and all sorts of grasses; his teeth are quite strong. There is a leopard around, so we watch him closely, but he really runs loose all day. Everyone loves him, and he goes to anyone, black or white. Thank you for giving him a good start in life.
I hope I have answered all of your questions. Please write again soon, and if there is anything I can do to further the plans for the wedding, I shall be glad to help.
Greet the rest at Boyulu. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Despite the War being over and mail reaching distant lands quicker, parcels seem exempted as their Christmas package from Lucille and family arrives in May 1946; Hector writes:
Ione asked me just now to try to get a letter off to you thanking you for the box of good things which you sent before Christmas. Too bad it was so long in coming, but that made it all the more welcome. We were just like two kids taking off the wrappings and finding all the interesting cans and packages. How did you think of so many things? Only one thing we haven’t shared and that is the hand cleaner. Not that Ione doesn’t get her hands dirty, but it takes more than soap to get grease off, especially after working around an engine. Thanks ever so much for that. About the other things — we tried to share with some of the other missionaries as far as possible, proudly telling them when they sampled some of Lucille’s OWN COOKIES. Everything kept remarkably well, although the popcorn box had broken open and its contents spread around. That was a special treat for Ione. She just loves it.
Today is the third anniversary of our engagement. The best bargain I ever made in my life!!!!!
Also, it is Miss Verna Schade’s birthday. We had the grandest party over at Mrs Jenkinson’s last evening. He (Kinso) is up at Juba meeting the two new girls, Mary Rutt from Lancaster, Pa.; and Mary Baker. We had a lovely supper and then Verna opened her presents. Miss Walker had given her three “Ephelumps” as she called them (Reference AA Milne’s book Winnie the Pooh where elephants are referred to as hefferlumps); Miss Pengilly a little Ivory salt dish; Mrs Jenkinson a whole set of plastic spoons, knives and grater; Mr Jenkinson a ground sheet, Ione gave her a plaque and I gave her a good Canadian towel!!!! Afterwards I had charge of some games and we did laugh. One was handing a card to your neighbour in the same way that he handed it to you. So I put the card between my lips and nose and tried to offer it to Miss Pengilly. But she was distressed to find out that she couldn’t do it. Finally, Ione was able to take it from me by making her lip stay up with the tip of her tongue. It was a great laugh. Then we each had to answer a question using our initials for the words. I’ll give you Miss Schade’s answers since the evening was in her honour.
Name: Verna Schade
Occupation: Veering Students
Favourite pastime: Vaulting Stunts
Favourite food: Vernal Salads
Favourite colour: Vermillion Scarlet
Thing you most abhor: Venomous Scamps
Best feature: Vanishing Symmetry
One pride: Vacant Shelves
One embarrassment: Very Stupid
What you long to be: Very sagacious.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
There are a hundred other things I could write about but it is almost time for the afternoon meeting out in the nearby village, so Ione will add a little more and tell you about her condition.
Yours in Christ, Hector
Ione adds a bit:
Thank you ever and ever so much for the box of good things. They were all in good condition, especially the homemade cookies! They have been useful for an early morning snack before getting up. I kept them by the bed until they were all gone. I am up and down with various complaints mostly that I can’t keep enough food down to put on weight. But I hope another week will start the fourth month with a little better equilibrium. Pray that we may have the baby. The Walby’s from Maganga lost theirs at birth 1-1/2 weeks ago. I nearly lost mine in March and still may. But we keep cheerful and satisfied about everything. It is wonderful to have a living Saviour in whom to trust. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly –“
Write soon. Lovingly, Ione
Evidently, Ione’s other sister also sent out parcels for Ione writes on 12th May (letter writing day)
Well, at last the promised package arrived, and on the same day as a package from Lucille & Maurice, and a package of books. In all there were four pieces and were we ever excited! As I took out each beautifully wrapped dainty from your box I carefully rolled up the fancy papers and ribbons, to use them for the next birthday party on the station. And then we looked over our wares – what a thrill. There were so many good things to eat, and that was what was needed right then. That same night we ate the entire box of almond crunch. One couldn’t stop they were so good; and the Danish cookies were just as welcome. I think I ate most of them for just then I was in need of a cookie each morning early to go with a cup of tea or coffee, to make my stomach behave so that I could get up! Expecting a baby does that to one, eh? And the nutty brittle is gone now, too, since it was sitting next to Hector while he typed. I am saving the fruit cake for a very special occasion and the rest of the things. It was so good of you two to send so many nice goodies. Thank you ever so much.
Lucille’s box contained some cookies she had made herself, as well as some candy, popcorn to pop (very welcome), soap, cream, and hand cleaner. The cans which both your things and hers came in are very handy for storing things in. We never have any too many of them. We have to keep everything that ants like in tins or else in the food cupboard which is sitting in tins of water.
My baggage still has not arrived, but I had a letter last week with a key in it which indicated that the Customs in Matadi was finished with the examination. I expect to hear any day that the things are in Stanleyville or Kole. It’s a good thing I had some things left from last term, and the Westcott’s left household things in their home for us! I will be glad for the maternity dresses and layette in the baggage.
I have had to be in bed part of the time, and still feel quite punk, and have lost some weight, but hope that another week will finish this extreme nausea and its accompanying complications. I’ve been once to Yakusu to see a Doctor Brown of the British Baptist Missionary Society and he says to look for a baby Nov. 19th. Yakusu is 6 or 7 hours by car and 1-1/2 by motor launch (about twice as long if one has to take a canoe). I enjoyed the stay in Stanleyville, and the hotel meals were good, as well as the ice cream. I suppose you don’t crave ice cream like we do! You can reach out your window and get some. Has this winter been unbearably cold? I am glad you have a nice fur coat, Doris. Does it keep Bill warm, too? I wonder how you manage to get enough food at the prices I hear about. It must be very expensive to live. What do you eat mostly? Can you get potatoes? We can dig sweet potatoes or manioc root anywhere around or we can have rice or dried beans. Only the latter two cost anything and that very little. We’re getting an egg nearly every day apiece now, and we pay about 5¢ for four of them! If we get a few ahead we dip them 5 seconds in boiling water and they keep for many weeks that way. I have tried canning meat in lard but it won’t keep much longer than a week. I’ll be glad when we can buy refrigerators.
Today is the anniversary of our engagement 3 years ago. We are glad that we met and are ever so happy together. I could not ask for a more sympathetic loving person to help me thru these difficult weeks, and he is so busy, too, for he has charge of the station again while Kinso is away in Juba getting two more new missionaries. Don’t forget to pray for us. “Jesus Never Fails”. Ione
Eleanor, Hector’s sister who lives in Montreal writes to the couple on 19th May 1946. As there aren’t many letters kept from her, it is safe to assume she finds correspondence difficult for she starts by feeding back too Ione what Hector has written about her:
I’d like to quote from his three letters to me:-
July 11/45 “I’m glad you found her so easy to love. Just think, what’s ahead of me. I’ve met a lot of people in the past few years but never anyone else that could compete with her.”
Aug 25/45 – “I still can’t understand why the Lord has chosen such a lovely girl for me. But since she is His gift, I gladly accept the responsibility of keeping her happy.”
Note with your mimeographed letter of Feb 11/46 – “…how lovely Ione is to live with.”
I think I know what he means. Much happiness to you both!
Eleanor soon gets into her stride and continues:
Under separate cover you will someday (I don’t know how the mail service is) receive a little dress (or nightie) for Lollypop to wear (if the little natives wear such things) together with the pattern in case Ione should want to use it in her sewing lessons.
In the same parcel is a tea-cozy with a history. When you were here Ione, you commented on somebody’s tea cozy as tho’ you might like to own one. I was all set to send this one to you when I heard you were on your way. I realized I had delayed too long (as usual) and then in the Gazette I saw someone’s picture with the note that they were sailing the Gripsholm on Saturday. That was three days away! So I dashed down to the Railway Express Agency and sent it off. When they wrote me later that the parcel arrived at New Jersey, too late for delivery and it was returned to me, it seemed such a silly thing to mail halfway round the world that I just put it aside for a while. But every time I looked at it I have felt that it “belonged” to you. So, silly or not. It’s starting on its trip.
Did you know that Florence had another little girl Carol May Damant? Joan told her mother, “I hope she’s pretty like Audrey and good & healthy like me.” (Florence & the baby are both feeling fine.)
Just a couple of weeks ago the Bronze Company started a new idea. We take only one hour (instead of an hour and a half) for lunch and we don’t work Saturdays! It’s perfectly wonderful. There seems to be so much extra time for doing all the things I like to do at home. We’ve had a few switches around in the staff as well and with some of the boys back from overseas my job is no longer the slightest burden. I’ve always enjoyed it but there have been times in the last four or five years when it seemed to get almost too much for me. Now it’s sheer pleasure. Almost seems a shame to collect a salary at the end of the month. For quite a few years now I have felt in the office like the Mother of a large family (about 25) and now it seems my family has practically grown up. (Except the boss. He’s still a bit childish!)
One of the girls in the office (a young Greek girl) got a letter a while back from an American friend of hers who has gone to Turkey to teach in an American school there. Her name is Angie Ducas and she sailed from New York to Greece with Ione. She remembers you quite well and was very much interested to hear of you thru’ Sophia (my little Greek girl). She is having a very interesting time at her school in Turkey.
I often wonder if there is anything you would like to have that you can’t get in Stanleyville and that could be sent out from here. If there is just let me know and I will try to send it forward.
I would be interested in knowing just how long the parcel takes to get to you. I will be mailing it tomorrow (May 20th).
You must have a very busy, interesting life. I shall always love to get the letters you find the opportunity to write. Your letters to Irene I always read and she sends yours to me. Jean frequently sends down letters for us to read too. So we hear from you quite often.
It’s nice getting your letters at the office. They make the morning mail an event.
Mum & Dad send their very best wishes to you both.
May God send his abundant blessings on you, and through you to others? Much love, your sister, Eleanor
PS: The bank assures me the enclosed draft is negotiable even in darkest Africa. E.
On May 26th 1946, Hector writes three letters, one to Pastor Clarence Keen in Toronto, one to his dear friends Chester and Dolena Burke and the third to Ione’s mother, Leone Reed. They are all slightly different but the central theme in all three focuses on the miscarriage and hers is the one included here:
Well, I think I will be safe in saying that this letter will be all my own work. Ione is in bed.
Saturday she was working around the house and was able to get our accounts all lined up. In the afternoon I rearranged the office furniture, putting in a little camp bed so that we could have an extra place just to lie down for a few minutes. Saturday evening, I was doing some work at the new desk and she was sitting on the bed. She had a few cramps so finally curled up to rest. About 8:30 we went to get ready for bed. She had scarcely gone in the bathroom when she called to me. I asked her if I could come in, then she told me she was afraid to move, lest something would come. However, I took some of her things and she was able to get to the bed. I took off her shoes and socks and gave her the bedpan. Once she was lying down she was more relaxed. I got ready for bed and knelt down and read a chapter from Exodus and we had prayer together and put out the light. I have been sleeping in another room, but I thought I better stay near her in case of trouble. She took out the pan and tried to settle down for the night, but the pains were getting worse again. About 10:30 she got the pan again and as I was about half asleep I just heard a faint noise but Ione said, “Oh, Hector, something has come”. I gave her the flashlight and went to get dressed to go over and call the Jenkinson’s. When I came back to get the flashlight and to give her a candle for the time I would be gone, she showed me our little baby. The poor girl just broke down and said, “I didn’t want to lose it”. I tried to comfort her by remembering what we had asked the Lord to do for us just a few hours before. She realized afresh that He makes no mistakes. I made sure she would be all right and dashed off to get the Jenkinson’s. It is about as far as your house on Prescott was from the mail boxes.
As soon as I came back I lit the big gas lamp and then Mrs Jenkinson took control of the situation in a wonderful way. Mr Jenkinson helped me get a fire going, and then we sat in the living room, waiting. Ma Kinso worked over Ione for about an hour and then she asked us to come in and raise the foot of the bed. The placenta had come away, but now Ma Kinso was afraid of haemorrhage. She asked me to go down and get Verna Schade. Together they decided to give an injection of Ergotine. Kinso went down to the hospital and I went to call Botiki, as he knows where the equipment is kept.
After the injection, everything settled down nicely. Kinso and I got the ladies some tea as they were just finishing up around the bedroom. They had another look at the foetus to make sure that everything was there and went in to tell Ione that it was a little girl. Then Kinso and I went out to bury it under an orange tree in the back garden. Ma Kinso stayed here all night as it was now 2:00 a.m. Kinso led in prayer before we separated and I went in to see that Ione went to sleep all right.
So now everything is back to normal. She had a bit of temperature yesterday morning, but that passed away and she has been eating well. Everyone has been so good to us and Ma Kinso spent most of the morning over there today. She will get the very best care…..Your devoted Son – X Hector
Unsurprising that in Pastor’s letter, Hector ends by saying:
There are many things to tell you but for this time I feel that I should get out some short letters to others. Thanks for the times of interception on our behalf. It is most difficult to keep close to the Throne of grace out here, with scores of tasks pressing even into one’s quiet time.
Yours in His security, Hector
To Chester and Dolena Burke, Hector adds:
Ione had mentioned about midday that she thought she was getting fever. She has not been taking quinine since it caused her stomach to turn when she tried to swallow it. But she took some. All during this past month she has had bleeding spells and was quite run down and last evening she complained of severe cramps, so at last curled up on the little bed.
………. pretty soon Ma Kinso took control. A thousand blessings on her. She worked over her from 10:45 until 2 a.m. After the placenta had come then the bleeding started (description Hector did not share with his mother in law).
Botiki (the African nurse) was ever so kind and patient last night. Kinso was around too, helping where he could. Both he and Ma Kinso had left there dental bridges at their house. They just would hardly take any thanks for the trouble, here. Everybody has been so good. Ma Kinso slept in the office and today Verna is on duty. Ione will have to stay in bed for at least 10 days.
Since starting the last paragraph we have had dinner and a rest. Ione is coming along nicely.
Be glad to hear from you again. As ever, Hector & Ione
This underscores Hector’s need for his friends at this difficult time.
In June 1946, Hector writes for a magazine, demonstrating that whilst Bangala may be easier to learn than Kingwana, he had not yet grasped all the nuances of the language as demonstrated in the following story:
After the morning meetings I have to find work for the carpenters and explain in my best Bangala what is required. When words fail I lay hands on some pieces of wood and give them an illustrated lecture. Two weeks ago a man came in to buy some boards to make a casket for a relative who had died during the night. Mr Jenkinson thought of having one made to sell when needed, and with this thought in mind I instructed two men to make this box. The following day I entered the shop and there it stood…about a foot-and-a-half square and four feet long. I looked at the men and demonstrated how impossible it was for a man to get in the box. Then the truth came out; they did not know that I wanted a casket for a dead man. They thought it was a box to pack goods in.
With the right idea they commenced another – the former could be used for a clothes cupboard. The next day they brought to me what looked like a square cone. The length was alright, but now there was no room for the feet and too much room for the head. After expostulating, the natives had a good laugh and I suppose we must use this one for a gate post!
On June 7th, Ione writes to her friend Evie Ankarberg, and although she mentions her loss, she focuses more on other matters, describing some of Hector’s work schedule:
Your letter of Mar. 22 arrived several weeks ago and found me going thru the thrills of nausea which lasted longer than I tho’t they would. I went down to 108 pounds and then about two weeks ago I lost the baby. Of course, I feel better now and am gaining again, but am surely disappointed. It was a little girl. I’ve been up and around for three days now and am anxious to get busy again. Letters seem my limit as yet but am glad to get several off.
I was ever so glad to learn that Mae’s husband has found the Lord. That helps to make up to Mae for the long sickness, for surely now they can look forward to the same future. Give her my love when you see her again. I suppose she will be leaving soon for New Mexico. I have been glad many times for the things I bought in Marshall Fields, for they wore so well and are such a joy out here. The coat, however, I left with Mother as I decided to take my winter coat instead, for one can never tell what kind of weather one will arrive in next furlough time. I don’t expect to need any coat here unless I go to the mountains.
I was very happy to hear about Nancy’s decision to surrender her life to the Lord. I shall pray that she will be used by Him right now in school to help the boys and girls to know Him. She will be glad that the little girl who sent her the letter last week accepted Christ when Verna Schade was giving a message down at the hospital. Her leprosy is much worse, but her heart is very happy.
In spite of our disappointment about the baby I have been very happy here. Hector is so good to me and never seems to be cross or lose his temper. He seems to have a grand disposition, and such a sense of humor. His appetite is good, too. And I do enjoy preparing meals when they are appreciated. He works very hard and I wonder how he maintains his weight and even is gaining a little, but he drinks about two quarts of milk a day (powdered milk). Recently he has had charge of the station again when Mr Jenkinson went to Juba to get two new missionaries and there were 75 workmen for Hector to oversee, besides the carpenters at the shop, the Manual Training Class for boys, the hospital workmen and nurses, besides our own houseboys. He had the job of demolition of a sundried mud house which the wind had somewhat wrecked, the making of bricks in the kiln for a new house, the addition of new rooms on Miss Walker’s house, roofing some school buildings with leaves, and as a side-line just for fun he erected a 40-foot flagpole to fly the Belgian flag when Kinso arrived with the new girls. We are nine now on the station, but some will go to Ekoko eventually The two latest are Mary Baker from Va., and Mary Rutt from Pa., very nice girls, just my age. Mary B is living with me temporarily while Hector is on a trip to Stan and Wamba. They will have rooms soon in the back of the church, prophets’ chambers, so to speak.
Believe it or not, my baggage has not yet arrived. Recently I received the keys and the final papers so they must be coming up the Congo River now. You asked me if I needed anything. My needs will be pretty well met when the things come, but if movie films come back into circulation and you can get hold of one I would appreciate it. Mine is an Eastman 16 millimetre. But don’t feel you must get more than one, for they are quite expensive. We took wedding pictures but sad to say, not one turned out well. Now that Hector can check on the camera we would like to try again. For our still camera the number is 616 if you should want to stick in a few of them.
How is everyone at your house? Mother well? Did the strikes affect you much? Write me again real soon. Your last letter was so interesting and newsy. Don’t ever feel that I have forgotten you for I never shall. Love, Ione
On June 9th 1946, Ione feels strong enough to write to the family, the first letter is to her Mother:
My dearest Mother,
I just found the carbon copy of the letter Hector sent to you two weeks ago, and I shed tears all over it! But I’m glad he wrote you such explicit details for you no doubt would want to know all about it. However, it has not been a really difficult time as there has been no pain or discomfort since that night. When the milk came, my breasts were uncomfortable, and I wished more than ever that I had somebody to feed! I was tempted to send for Lollypop, but that never would do!! I had excellent care and both Ma Kinso and Verna kept things very sterile and tidy in the room. I had a bath every day. Then the day that Hector had to go to Stanleyville, on the third day (Tuesday), Mary Baker came over and stayed right with me all of the while. From then on she waited on me and we had the cook set the table in the bedroom and she ate with me there. Mary has only just arrived and knows very little Bangala, but we have had lots of fun while she has tried to tell the houseboys what to do. One time when she was pouring kerosene oil into a lamp and the boys were tipping up the oil drum, she shouted excitedly, “Oh, Ione, tell me quickly how to say ‘slowly’ –“ She is a delightful southern girl and made hot biscuits for breakfast three mornings. She has gained about four pounds helping me gain one! She weighs about 143. Hector was delayed longer than we expected on his trip and didn’t get back until just yesterday. And such a wonderful reunion as we have been having. We have tried heretofore not to show our affection in front of others, but it is hard, for the separation, just at this time, has made us more in love than ever. Honestly, I never realized I could care so much for him.
My weight went down to 108 pounds, but recently (according to these uncertain scales) I have gained about three pounds. I really think I must weigh more than that for my clothes do not look baggy on me. True, they were getting a little tight but now I seem just about the size I was when I left home. Only my arms and legs are a bit thinner. But a good egg-nog every day is a help, and Mary B. has given me a supply of liver and iron tablets. I also have Inez’ vitamins, but I will wait until I finish with the liver tablets before I take the vitamins again in case they might not mix. Since the nausea is gone I have been eating like a horse. When I am a bit stronger Hector and I plan a visit to Ekoko. Then will be the grand time when the Pudneys come.
We expect them in August, after they attend a big conference in Leopoldville. They will spend about a month on each station. And they want us to have a general conference of all Congo U.F.M. missionaries, so that will mean a lot of travel for some and a lot of entertaining for others. I have a feeling we’ll do the entertaining, since our station has the facilities. I hope I can help plan the meals, for I love that, and cooking in large quantities is nothing new to me.
Just then I was feeling the most useless with spending so much time in bed, two hospital women accepted Christ when Verna Schade spoke to them, as well as Lollypop’s sister the leper girl. Praise God with us for this. I can hardly wait to get out in the children’s meetings again. But I must wait until I see the Doctor again next week. I must make another trip by car and boat and unless I need what they call a ‘curettage’, I can come right back. I’m quite certain everything will be alright.
I was praying nearly all day during Marcellyn’s graduation and felt assured that it was a blessed time. I shall be anxiously waiting to hear all about it. Don’t worry about me. We won’t hang up the extra stocking this Christmas but hope for the next Christmas! Loads of love, XXXXX Ione
In Ione’s letter to her sister and brother in law, Doris and Bill, Ione writes:
I hated so to lose it, for we did want a baby. But I couldn’t prevent it and on this particular Saturday night I had taken a dose of quinine, for I felt like I was coming down with malaria fever. I had not dared before to take quinine for over a month but felt I must to keep from fever. Others have said that it was not the quinine but that I would have lost it anyway. But in a few hours, I was having terrific cramps and by 10:45 P.M. the tiny little baby girl was gone.
Hector had also mentioned the quinine to Chester and Dolena Burke but both are careful not to mention it in letters to Leone Reed.
Ione does not say much more about the baby and continues with description of life on the mission station:
We are nine on the station now, since two Marys have come from the States, Mary Rutt from Pa., and Mary Baker from Va. They are busy learning the language. Mary Baker, the ‘southerner’ has been staying with me while Hector was away, but has left now. She loves hot breads and so do I so we had hot biscuits for breakfast three days. She’s jolly and chubby and about my age. She cannot live with us however, while Hector is here or the natives will think he has two wives.!
Viola Walker has let her little girls go on vacation now and she has gone on a trek among the pygmies and the Bakeri tribe. Her big grey cat spends some of his time here and we have been amused many times at him. Hector has rigged up a bell under the dining room table to call the boy, and the cat climbs up on a chair and pulls the cord when he is hungry. He did it once and we tho’t it was cute, so he did it several more times. But it was quite tragic when last Sunday night we were having church in our living room and the cat rang the bell in the middle of the message!
We have all the corn on the cob we want now, Doris, and you would love it. I canned some this week. I surely have enjoyed it. We will save some for seed and dry some for parched corn and grinding into cornmeal. Right now, the flour situation is serious, so we will appreciate having cornbread. Now do write soon. Your wedding picture is so good of you and makes me feel that you are nearer. Ione
On the 13th June, Leone Reed responds to Ione and Hector’s news, she has obviously heard about the quinine:
Dearest Precious Ione and Hector:
Your letter written May 27 was received last Monday June 10th. My heart surely went out to you in your sorrow, illness and great disappointment. We do know our God doeth all things well and some time we will know why God does certain things. I lost my first baby, too, and I, too, was so disappointed. I answered an ad in the paper and took a little 3-month-old baby and took care of it until I expected Lucille. I had to take gallons of medicine (a certain kind) the summer before Lucille was born to keep from losing her. One day at the 6-mo. stage, I was kept under a hypo all day to keep the pains from increasing. They finally wore away. Ione darling perhaps the quinine is your difficulty. Women who want to get rid of babies often take quinine. Isn’t there anything else you could take to ward off malaria? I heard that the soldiers in the last war took a certain drug in place of quinine. Please Ione take extra care of yourself now and rest and build up all the health you can. Then no doubt you can become pregnant again. ….Perhaps this baby would not have been normal given the trouble you had since the day you walked so far. The Lord surely knows best. It is too bad though that you had to be so nauseated so long. I could sure feel for you. Remember when I was in bed for three months before Doris came? It’s a great life if you don’t weaken. Keep looking up.
Lucille is nauseated most of the time so she surely was in sympathy with you. I have been here three months this week and Maurice really is disgusted. I hope I can leave this week. I sold my hand-painted dishes for 35.00 and will sell the balance of the furniture if possible. I have repacked my personal things and am storing them in a room at Mrs Leedy’s, remember her? Lucille will have more room when I get my junk away from here.
The food shortage is terrible. Lucille can only have ¼ lb. of butter per week. We seldom ever see fresh meat. Bread is scarce too. Only two loaves to a customer today. There is much black market too. Lucille found a little bacon this week and had to pay 80¢ per lb. Of course much food is being sent to Europe, but there is so much hoarding by some people it makes it a little harder. Many folks here have rented lockers & filled them with frozen meat, and fruits etc.
I had a letter from Doris last Friday and she is working in the office for the city of Anchorage. Bill has opened a sheet metal shop and has been promoted to assist. Forman at his job over plane hangars.
I wish I had gone to Africa with you Ione, so I could have taken care of you. When Marcellyn is over there I won’t have any one I can fellowship with. Maurice always makes it hard for Lucille when we are with her so we are better off only seeing her occasionally.
I have applied for some other jobs, but I don’t know how things will work out.
I wish I could find a good preacher husband to help in this work but the Lord knows best.
I was so glad to hear after receiving Hector’s letter. I wrote to Mrs Savage, but she never answers. I have written two or three times and have let them take some of your letters, but they still seem strange.
Helen wants to be remembered to you and Hector. She is so patient with her affliction and blindness. She is past eighty-two. They all are such sweet old folks here.
Had dinner at Glenna’s today. Had good meat and vegetables, peas out of Uncle Elmer’s garden.
Has your baggage come yet?
It surely seems wonderful to be able to hear often from you. Lucille & Maurice expect to come here again next Monday. Lovingly, Mother
June 21st, 1946, Ione has travelled to Yakusu with another missionary, Joan Pengilly, to see the doctor for a final check after losing the baby. Hector has had to stay behind and manage the mission. They return to Stanleyville and have to stay over a few days until they can be picked up by Kinso and are currently staying at a home belonging to the Baptist Missionary Society, which seems well equipped; Ione writes to her mother:
We have a houseboy to care for our needs and an electric refrigerator. We found a store that sells ice cream powder & have already made ICE CREAM! Tomorrow we are going to a butcher’s to see if we can find a roast beef! Such luxuries as these folk have in Stanleyville.
I am anxiously waiting to hear about Marcellyn’s graduation. It seems ages since I heard from anyone.
I got some new ideas when I walked around the BMS mission station at Yakusu. Their children in the girls’ school are making rope doormats of banana fibre, something we could try. And they were doing some lovely fagotting on hand-made slips. And they have a kindergarten school, which I would love to have at Bongondza.
I also got a nice cookie recipe!
A few days ago we met a young Dr. Wright of the Conservative Baptist group who has just come out recently. He had flown here with an 11year old boy who had been pronounced incurable by 5 doctors. We admired his zeal for the Lord, for he trusted Him to heal the boy and he was doing all he could to save him, even to travelling about 2,000 miles right with him by plane to Coquiatville where an abdominal specialist could treat him. The parents were along, too, people in business out here. The boy was tho’t to have TB spleen. Pray for him.
I have had such precious fellowship with the Lord during these quiet days, and now I feel quite ready to go to my work again. We are going to be busy painting, getting ready for the Pudneys, whom we expect in August. And I am hoping to do more visitation among the sick folk who come once a week for shots.
Hector is very busy just now, putting shingles on the house Viola lives in. They have built on an extra room & a verandah and raised the roof. He is ‘batching it’ this week. There are three single girls on the station but without his wife there he dare not eat with them, else the natives would think he was wanting more wives! I don’t know what he’d do if he had two! He is so attentive to the one! Honestly, Mother, I didn’t know a husband could be so dear and so thoughtful. Pray that I may never lose him. May the Lord bless and guide you continually. Very lovingly, Ione XXXX Kisses to all.
Hector write to his Father on 22nd June 1946, and starts with Viola’s roof!
Dear Dad and all:
I’m just ready to wrap up the mail, the last thing Saturday night, but I better get a short letter off to you this week.
It has been ever so busy these past few days as we have been putting some shingles on Miss Viola Walker’s house. It was really too small a house for comfort so we added two more rooms in brick and then took down the old leaf roof while she went out on trek. We wanted to get the new one on before the walls and inside got too much rain. This is our first venture with shingles. The natives cut down the trees and saw them into 18” wide blocks and then cut off half inch slabs. At any rate anything is better than these leaves. I kept remembering the time Archie and I did the hog pen. It would be a treat to get some nice cedar shingles out here. Tin is about 4 dollars a sheet and then it is very hard to get since so many big companies have priority.
I was thinking the other day about some of the things I would like to hear again around the old farm; such as a robin singing down in the cherry trees, or a whip-poor-will north of the railroad track, or the old fanning mill on a wet spring day. How I longed to hitch an engine unto it ! ! ! !
Needless to say Ione and I have been a bit disappointed in losing our baby. She has gained in health a lot since then and it has made quite a change to be able to eat normally once more. Our love for each other has grown deeper and we seem to be really husband and wife now in a new way. I never thought I could care for anyone quite so much. She is my ideal in everything. It is hard to be separated. For the past week she has been down to Stanleyville to see the doctor for a check-up. Mr and Mrs Jenkinson had to go through Stanleyville to get out to the other two stations, where they are making plans for Mr and Mrs Pudney’s visit from August – October, about a month on each station. They will be there a few days so Ione and one of the single girls, Miss Pengilly stopped off at Stanleyville.
I’m still in good health and drinking lots of milk. Klim is rather expensive but it keeps me in top notch. But I would like to pay a visit to the milk house on the farm. Just wait until I get back there! ! !
Our allowances and gifts are coming through regularly.
June 24th, Hector writes to friends and explains how the Africans communicate using a drum. The sounds produced are phonetic but the untrained ear may not appreciate the language used:
This morning when I was going over for the early meeting with the workmen, it was rather foggy and I didn’t see anyone around when I whistled for them to beat the drum. So, I made my way over to it and decided to try my hand at this ancient art. The drum is a log cut out of a tree trunk, three feet across and about six feet long. With native tools they cut out the centre of it, working through a narrow slit, and leaving the ends intact.
The hammers are just two short pieces of hardwood limb. And so I picked up these two formidable weapons and gingerly began to send out my RADIO message that it was time for everyone to be at the meeting! I tried to imitate the rhythm that I have heard three or four times each day. I think I might have done better on a three-console pipe organ! Using only one hammer I started on one side for about five beats. Then came the business of using two hammers on two sides. About every ten beats I would get off the rhythm. It must have sounded dreadful to the trained ears of the natives. The finale of it consists in forcibly bringing both hammers down almost simultaneously on one side. I just got nicely finished and settled at the desk in the class room, when the head-man came out of a house, picked up the hammers, and – you should have heard the difference! Anyway, when the men all gathered we had a good study in Acts 9 about Paul’s conversion and his call to missionary service. Verse 16 reads thus, “But I will show him how many sorrows he will eat because of My name.”
Something quite interesting came to light the other day. While we were finishing the ridge of a new shingle roof, the sound of the hammer was echoing on another building nearby. I asked the natives what they called it. They told me some word in their language and then went on to explain that this other sound was the SALUTE to the one I was making.
The announcement about the loss of the baby is worded thus:
Our plans for a little one next Nov. have been cancelled, but Ione is making a rapid recovery, and getting back to her usual health.
Then comes the news of yet another death, this time in a postscript to Hector’s letter from Ione:
Just a word and a thank you to all for your many kindnesses. We are happy to know you are interested in us. Perhaps you remember my telling about little Lollypop, the native baby I was feeding. I am sorry to tell you that she died. We tho’t she was safely weaned and eating soft foods and dismissed her to a nearby village and learned just yesterday that they had given her too much plantain and she got diarrhoea and died. Pray for the Lord’s wisdom in caring for a new little native boy who was bro’t to us yesterday. I am now teaching handwork and singing each day in the boys’ school; the boys are learning “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and “Lamb of God” in French. Much love to everyone in Jesus’s Name, Ione
The end of the month brings Ione a letter from her friend, Evie Ankarberg, who has seen through the ‘matter of fact’ letter she has received from Ione, she knows Ione well and starts her letter with banter:
Just three days ago I had a pleasant surprise. Another letter from my beloved friend, Mrs Hector McMillan. Do you know her? Well this missive isn’t going to be a long one as I have quite a bit of work to do, but before too much time elapses I do want to get a few lines off to you.
Sorry to learn of your recent misfortune. However, my dear girl, you are still in the very early stages of married life and no doubt there is every possible chance for you to still have a baby or babies. What I am most interested or concerned about now is that you take good care of yourself and get good and well again. Probably (of course, I’m not in a position to know exactly as I am too far away) the reason you lost this baby is because you are trying to do too much and just didn’t have the strength to carry it through. You and your sense of humor – I have heard a pregnant woman say, “…the thrills of nausea..” Of course, everyone has their own individual tastes. Well enough of that – I sincerely hope everything is all right with you now. Please don’t work so hard and undertake too many things. Love & all good wishes, Greetings to your better half. Evie
On July 13th 1946, Hector writes to his sister, Eleanor, saying he is also writing to Irene, but that letter has not survived. In this letter, Hector describes the environmental changes when rain clouds gather and their need for a downpour:
A cloud in the western sky is making it real dark now, although it is only five o’clock and there is still 1-1/2 hours of daylight yet. But we do hope it will rain. Normally there is enough water from the tin roof of our house to keep us with a good supply in the big tank. From there a boy pumps it up into two big 50-gallon gasoline drums, and from there it is piped into the kitchen and bathroom. Now he has to take two pails and go away down the hill to a little forest stream where he fills them, puts them on each end of a stick and puts the stick on his shoulder. We ran out of water three times this morning, so he was pretty busy.
Thanks so much for your letter, we did enjoy it. The parcel you mentioned may take about four months. Even after it gets to Congo there are long delays for boats coming up river. You will be sorry to know that the little dress for Lollypop will have another owner. We just heard the other morning that while they had her in the village she took sick and died. We feel really badly about it after putting in so much work and expense on her. Babies do have a job to exist here in this land and we thought with this extra help she would pull through. (The loss of Lollypop so soon after the loss of their baby girl hits home, he and Ione need reassurance that they did nothing wrong but do not articulate it.) Many times the older folks are blamed because of their superstitions, and the use of native medicines when the patients should be brought in to the hospital. There is another baby being brought by its mother now. It is only two weeks old, so milk is about the only thing for it.
Your check was gratefully received and the bank in Stanleyville acknowledged it.
If I can keep Ione from reading this I would like to make a suggestion. Her Bible is getting rather worn and I’m just wondering if you could pick out a nice one and send it out, I could give it to my BELOVED for Christmas. Now would you like to do that for me? I would really appreciate it. Maybe if it gets here in time I could give it to her on Nov. 27 — our first wedding anniversary. Sometimes you can get those fairly thin ones with nice print, but just suit yourself. There is a good store on the side street along by Peoples Church, on the opposite side of the street. I got the one we gave Dad a few years ago in that store. It just thrills me to think I may be able to have one for her soon.
Kindest regards to your Mother and Dad. We will try to write oftener to tell you some of the interesting things these people do. Hector
Finally, Hector and Ione get to Ekoko, 210 mile further into the jungle from Bongondza; on the 20th July 1946, Ione responds to the letter form Evie which she received before she left Bongondza for the visit. Her joy at news from Evie is evident, however, she shares the sad news about Lollypop:
I am feeling very good again and have gained back all the lost pounds. I don’t seem to be very fortunate with babies for two weeks ago Lollypop died. We had fed her for six months and tho’t she would be allright now, but babies go very suddenly. Now I have taken on the feeding of a little boy two weeks old. He is very tiny and his eyes are somewhat protruding, like a little frog’s eyes. We have no name for him as yet. (Perhaps in not naming the boy, Ione feels she may not bond as much with the little boy.)
That is very thoughtful of you to get together some cosmetic items for me. They will be very welcome. The things I bro’t in my hand baggage must come to an end soon and my boxes haven’t arrived yet. Imagine waiting all this time! But I have not really lacked for any necessity as yet. We can get tooth paste and tooth brushes out here and a few other items.
Mother seems to be moving about a bit of late, visiting the relatives and friends. Perhaps she has called on you, too. Marcellyn had finished at BJC and is hoping to sail this year or early next. Doris has a job in Anchorage; her husband has 2. Lucille is expecting a baby.
I am writing to you from Ekoko where Hector and I have been visiting. It is sad that no white person is here just now. And the natives beg us to stay on permanently, but Jenkinson’s feel we are more needed at Bongondza for all the building and remodelling Hector must finish soon. The Faulkner’s will soon return from Canada and take over here and there will be one or more single ladies, too. But the buildings have gone into bad condition. The school is fine with over 100 boys under Deny’s able care, with evangelists’ school and women’s classes, too. Hector is settling a palaver today about the rice rations received for the school from the three nearby capitas (chiefs) of villages.
I had a grand women’s meeting yesterday and we had the evangelists in last night. We will return next week. It is our first experience together of camping and we love it. We live in Ludwig’s house, but use trek equipment. They have bro’t us all the chickens we can eat and dozens of eggs, corn, pineapple, and bananas. Ione
Hector, a day later (21st July 1946) explains to his friends, Bill and Rhodie:
After about a year and a half in the Congo, I feel like an old missionary. At present Ione and I are up at the station called Ekoko. It is between Buta and the Congo River, about 210 miles from Bongondza. We are just here for a week. There has been no permanent white person here for two years, but a native has been taking charge and doing a good work.
We are expecting Mr and Mrs Pudney next month, after the Leopoldville conference. They will stay until the October boat leaves Matadi. After they visit each of the stations we all hope to gather at Boyulu. There will be 28 of us all together.
This afternoon Ione and I went for a walk out to some of the villages, stopping and looking at their gardens and houses. One old man started grumbling right away about the white ants. And I don’t blame him. We went in to see the house he was building. He had the roof leafed and was starting to mud the walls. But the ants beat him to it. They had eaten out one pole and had a good start on some of the others. I’m afraid they’re going to beat him out ! ! !
There is enough work at Bongondza to keep the whole carpenter gang of PBI busy for at least a year. There are a few power machines such as a small buzz saw, grinder, and lathe, but I would just love to have a planner and a saw mill (see workshop plan below). Some of the native lads are doing well, and that is a bit of encouragement. Ione is helping in the boys’ school, teaching singing and hand-craft classes.
Well, Bill, write when you have time. We will be glad to hear of how the Lord is blessing. Yours….. Hector & Ione
On the 28th July, Hector takes the opportunity to write to Rev Clarence Keen, his pastor from Toronto:
I was pleasantly surprised the other evening to see your picture in the Moody Monthly which Ione gets. I’m sure you must have enjoyed the conference.
These past few weeks I have been wondering whether or not you are on holiday or if you are waiting until August. I do hope you will have some good fishing. It seems to me I have heard that you enjoy it! It must be a great relief to get away from your many duties.
Ione and I are very happy here in the UFM. The Lord certainly led us to the right mission and we feel like putting everything we have into the work. We often get tired but with it all we are happy.
It’s too bad to say this but a whole week has gone past since we brought the Pudneys to this station, which probably accounts for your letter being laid aside for two weeks. The last few days in July were so busy getting everything in order, and then when we figured we had a few days more to get our own house fixed up, we were suddenly called on to go down and meet Mr Pudney and his wife. We knew it about 7:30 a.m., August 2. Mr Jenkinson had fully intended to go but he had some strange illness, so Ione and I dashed around to finish up our work and left about 11:30 for Stanleyville, 160 miles away. Fortunately, Mr Jenkinson’s little V8-37 worked well and we were able to get a little shopping done before the stores closed that night. Afterwards we visited a Greek friend who is a Christian of long standing. He loves to talk of his home land and I wrote this statement in my diary. He got it out of one of his Greek books. “Democratic people need to be educated to their individual responsibilities and privileges.” He is a most interesting conversationalist and loves to give Bible lectures.
Needless to say we were at the airport when the plane came in from Leopoldville about 5 p.m. on Saturday. We saw Mrs Pudney through the side window and it wasn’t long before we were greeting them. They seemed quite fresh from the long day’s trip, but they do need a good rest. The reception here on the station was quite touching. They had not seen Mr and Mrs Jenkinson for nearly 14 years. It has been a wonderful week here. Our evangelists were in for the occasion and before they went away again, Mr and Mrs Pudney wanted to have a session with them, so I joined in. We were trying to encourage them to work harder in their villages and build up their congregations. We gave them High Park Baptist as an example!
The Jenkinson’s and Pudneys are now at Ekoko, about 200 miles north and west of here. So once more I have to look after the station, but there is plenty of help from my wife and five single ladies. This morning I enjoyed taking the church service; speaking on the two natures from II Peter 1.
We still remember your work. Enjoying the Messengers! ! !
Yours…. Hector & Ione
The Macmillan’s must have been kept busy at Bongondza, but now they have a great deal to rejoice about – Ione’s luggage finally arrives nine months after she arrived. On the 17th August, 1946, Ione writes:
Dear Friends in Christ:
“Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy!
Last week the baggage came! What a thrill after waiting nine months. We received notice from Kole, 25 kilometres away, that the boxes and trunks and kegs were there waiting for us to pick up. It didn’t take us long to gather up the 18 pieces (one was missing; it arrived in Africa empty and the box was thrown away) and to deposit them safely in the basement of the Doctors house. It was there that we discovered the value of Mother’s careful packing, for there was very little damage; mirror glass, dishes, pottery, all were in good condition. And the books that Mother had shellacked lay shiny and new in their respective boxes. We take off our hats to Mother and Mr Burton Hempstead, Mr Ball, Miss Slater, and Mr Fulcher for their efficient work.
The mimeograph arrived perfect with all of its accessories, thanks to the Newberry Church at Clarkston. The school supplies were opened and a number of items are already in use in the boys’ school. The handcraft models and supplies will soon be put to use in the afternoon class. And Hector’s trumpet has been all week penetrating the station quietness with its blats and poofs. The linens, as well as the pale blue glass dishes arrived in time to set a nice table for the Pudneys (General Secretary and wife) when they arrived here a week ago. The bedspread from the Loyal’s was just the right colour to match the green furniture in the bedroom and the quilts (Mrs Stewart’s group) fit the bed and one is on it right now. I was ever so glad to have some clothes for I had been trying to make do with the things I came in.
The compass that my brother-in-law gave me has now become part of the equipment at the native school at Ekoko. And the grand lot of dresses and sun suits given by the White Cross and woman’s groups at Five Points and Salvation Harbour as well as the First Baptist Church were just in time to dress up the school children for Pudneys and for the Administrator who came the following Monday. Some of the children’s clothing went to the children of evangelists who came in to Bongondza for the annual Motondo Harvest Thanksgiving Service. The layette was examined thoroughly; also the little flannel quilts from the Joy Philathea Class, and put into a box with a sigh, hoping that they will be used next year.
And the cast-off things that you sent with me instead of the Good Will Clothing Drive, Ines Slater! You would be surprised to see some of them walking around on worthy black bodies. And I think Hector has his eye on the green jacket for some cool nights. The curtains that you tho’t were of no use, Hazel Slater, are now gracing our cushions in the living room: and the feltograph and filing material will soon go into active service in children’s meetings, etc. Lucille, your old gas waffle iron will provide many more suppers: we’ve had one. And Doris’ grape juice was a special treat; all the canned goods arrived in perfect condition. I can’t begin to thank you all for your loving forethought to give all of these things. Be assured that we count ourselves your missionaries and that we are made comfortable by your kindness to us. May the Lord abundantly bless you. Lovingly, Ione Reed McMillan
P.S. Hello Everybody. I didn’t mention how pleased Hector was to see that collapsible frying pan – it’s just the thing. We are feasting on the delicious canned things. They are so satisfying.
Hector and Ione rely on gifts from family and friends at home, so the arrival of all the cases would have been most welcome. Sometimes gifts came from people they didn’t know, such as Mr and Mrs Hough from High Park Baptist Church in Toronto, and Hector, writes acknowledging their generosity on 26th August 1946:
Dear friends in the Lord:
I have been wondering just who you folks are and can’t seem to place you. Mr Goodman wrote to me some time ago and said that someone had sent in a gift from High Park. I wrote Rev. Keen but didn’t mention the gift. Now I am glad to have your address and thus be able to thank you personally. Just yesterday we were saying how much easier it is to plan our work and go ahead with it knowing that Christians at home are willing to support it with prayer and giving. In by-gone days people used to have to use their personal allowance for their work too. But if we tried to do that now with prices so high we might be so weak from lack of food that we couldn’t work. Thus, these extra gifts enable us to build and labour more efficiently. Thank you so much for what you have sent us. Transferred into Congo money it comes to 2260 francs; two francs being 5¢. Things that come out from America to the stores here are usually about twice the price they are at home. But we are fortunate in having a goodly number of products from the Congo itself, especially along the food line, such as butter and sugar. Both Ione I have been quite healthy and we do enjoy our work.
Mr and Mrs Pudney have been with us now for the past three weeks. It was about 14 years ago that they left Congo, so you can imagine their interest in seeing so many changes. The natives have been very surprised to have a white man and his wife come into their midst and talk the native language right away! ! ! On the day of prayer Mr Pudney gave an account of the work of the UFM in other lands, and our local Christians were greatly impressed to know that other people were in far worse circumstances. They will remember the stories about Haiti for a long time.
We will put you on our mailing list so you will be getting a circular letter from time to time.
“Thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Yours in Him, Hector & Ione
On the 27th August, 1946, Hector writes to yet another church group, Houston Street Baptist Church in Tennessee:
Dear Friends in Christ:
Colossians 2:3 reads thus in Bangala, “Because inside of Him, God has hid wealth all, of wisdom and of knowing.”
Last Sunday it was my turn to take the morning message in church. I must say it is very difficult to get anything across to these people unless it is illustrated. I had looked up the word ‘to hide’ in the concordance and came across this verse. In a wonderful way the Lord brought to my mind a way to show its truth to the natives. I got two identical boxes and half-filled them with sawdust. I put a franc piece (worth 2-1/2¢) in one box and none in the other. When I started the message, I put a box on each side of the pulpit and asked a school boy to come up on the platform. Pointing to the box which was to represent the world, I said, “there is a franc in there, see if you can find it”. Of course, he looked in vain. The promises of the world are vain. There is no peace, or joy, or life. Then the other box was investigated representing the things of the Lord. This yielded the true treasure.
The work here is so varied from day to day. There are so many tasks that natives cannot do alone; special carpenter jobs, plumbing, mechanics, etc. When the Doctor was here he had a stationary engine driving his big electric generator for charging 20 batteries. He also ran a circular saw from it. The bearings on the saw were quite worn, so last week I had a great time redesigning the whole thing and putting a shingle roof on one of the school buildings, and the saw is ever so handy for ripping lumber for strips over the rafters. Three of the lads in the carpenter shop are Christians and I enjoy being with them. Some of the older school boys have classes in manual training and they do very nice work. Ione teaches them all for an hour and a half each afternoon in handcraft. Two other ladies take them for their morning classes. There are 89 on the roll now. We have recently drawn up a plan for a new boys’ school in brick, according to gov’t specifications. So, there will be plenty of work ahead.
Thanks once more for your help. It is a pleasure to be your representatives out here in His vineyard. Yours in Him, Hector McMillan
On the 30th August, 1946, Hector and Ione write to yet another church which is unspecified:
“I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles”.
It means taking part in a warfare, sometimes on a lonely outpost, even inside enemy territory with a few resident members of a resistance force. And so the story could go on.
In some ways this could apply to us but certainly not in regards to the ‘lonely outpost’. We are a large happy family here. I didn’t realize that missionaries could work together so harmoniously. It is true that we are more or less cut off from the tangled skein of the political and financial world, but nevertheless there are plenty of perplexing problems within the bounds of our few cleared acres in the jungle. These difficulties tend to remind us that we are at the battle front. If the ever-present enemy of our souls could once get us out of tune with our Lord and our fellow workers, it would then become a case of “toiling all night and taking nothing”. It is impossible to have civil war and at the same time do battle with a common enemy. So as a preventive measure we have a daily prayer meeting from 5-5:30 p.m.
To mention something about a local resistance force, we are encouraged indeed by the fine stand that some of these natives have taken. I suppose we shall never know what it has cost some of them to break with age-bound customs. An evangelist, TASEMBO, is such a one. From an uncouth life lived selfishly he has changed into an amiable, polite young man: he treats his wife like a partner instead of a burden-bearer. Moreover, he encourages us to study the native language, rather than trying to hinder us as so many do by their lack of cooperation. He sees it as a keen weapon to present God’s truth. They think we want to pry into their private lives. The other day while walking along the road with him, we were discussing various bible verses. We had all gone out to his village for a visit, but he had gone to bring in some nearby pygmies. I went out to meet him but found he had been unsuccessful. They had gone off into the forest. As we walked along I tried to tell him how difficult it was to study Libua but he only smiled.
This morning when I was pulling nails out of a woolly head of hair (not my own) to spike some rafters to a ridge pole, several of the carpenters and masons were trying to help pronounce various words. It must be my Canadian accent that makes me seem hopeless. So in return I tried them out on the English word for the same thing. As distinctly as possible I said “Rafter”. Then came a chorus of voices, “Laughter”. They see no difference between R and L. Now they have a little more patience.
Mr and Mrs Pudney will be leaving our station this week. Their visit has been an inspiration. (Perhaps all the letters were carried with them back to the States; which would explain the current focus.)
May this letter find each one of you walking in the Lord’s will, with all joy and peace in believing.
Sincerely, Hector McMillan
And Ione writes:
Dear Friends in Christ:
Moses complained that he was slow of speech and of a slow tongue. And that seems to be our complaint of late, for we are trying to learn and speak a new language, Libua. Our Bangala is good enough in business and in general meetings, but to really converse with the people, especially the old people, the Libua language is the only medium. So we have taken upon ourselves the task of daily lessons taught by Viola Walker, who has made a very special study and has gathered a grammar and vocabulary from her contacts with the Babua tribe, and has translated some parts of the New Testament. I trust it will not take us as long as it did Moses before he could give those splendid farewell talks to his people forty years after he first tried. Won’t you pray that our tongues may be loosened that we may pour forth the wondrous riches of His love for us.
“I saw a human life ablaze with God, I felt a power divine
As through an empty vessel of frail clay I saw God’s glory shine.
Then woke I from a dream, and cried aloud: ‘My Father, give to me
The blessing of a life consumed by God, that I may live for thee!’”
Four little new boys came into the boy’s school today, bringing the total up to almost one hundred. How thrilled they were with the sun suits sent by three missionary groups. For some it was their first bit of clothing other than a loin-cloth. Verna Schade has charge of the school, Mary Baker helps her in the mornings and in their outdoor activities, and I come in for music in the morning and handcraft in the afternoon. You should see them making string for animal nets out of fibrous grass: they do not need to be taught how to do that! We hope they will have their own net ready for the next hunting expedition. The net must be at least four rods long. A number of boys have accepted Christ and four were baptized recently. Pray for them in their morning devotional time.
Thanks for the good letters and the gifts which were very acceptable. Greetings to all from Botiki, the nurse at the hospital; Limandigumi, the school teacher; Moses, the littlest boy in the school, who makes up in wiggles where his speech fails; from Pudu, the wee African baby boy; Flicker, the tame antelope; and from Hector, whose letter is on the other side of this!
Lovingly in Him, Ione Reed McMillan
Finally, on the 30th August 1946, Ione writes to her Mother ‘and all’ in the knowledge that her news will be passed around the family:
I am sure you must feel that I have forgotten you, but really I have been thinking of you ever so much. Every little while I stop and wonder what you are doing and what your plans are for the immediate future. The Lord has especially burdened my heart to pray that you may have His very best at this time, for I feel it must be a time of real trial. But remember that, “Underneath are the everlasting Arms.” It seems ages since your last letter came telling of your visits around; and we had a letter from Mrs Lowes telling of your stop there; also, one from Evelyn Ankarberg.
I sent you a letter when the baggage came, but because it was on form letter stationary, it was too heavy to go Airmail, so it will come after this. It was a real thrill to go for the baggage at Kole. Hector had to make two trips there was so much, and there were a couple of boxes of Verna’s too. There were 18 pieces, one having been lost on the ocean, or rather the contents, for the box arrived empty and they threw it away. As nearly as I can tell, it was one of the cases marked personal effects valued at $75. I really have not missed anything yet except some books. I suppose I will think of more later. I am glad tho’ that the mimeograph came thru so well. The box was damaged and repaired by someone along the line; also the old trunk. The fort-nighter bag had a hole all the way thru it and a few bits of material were torn, and the chocolate covered nuts were spoiled by broken glass and mould, but that is no great affair. I am glad to have the lovely linens and quilts and dresses and shoes, and oh, just everything. I was getting a bit shabby.
A few weeks before the baggage came I took on some added duties in the boys’ school. Joan has not been well and has given up the work to Verna Schade, who had it before when she was here. Joan hopes to leave for England next week. She has been out for over three years and has had amoebic dysentery the entire time. Well, when Verna took the school she asked me to take the handcraft classes and music. So I have had a grand time, spending at least two hours a day there, and many hours more in preparation for raffia work, sewing, hemstitching, fagot-stitching, rag-rugs, rope for fish and animal nets, and next week we hope to begin with clay work and pottery. All I learned at the university is a real help and the models and ideas are splendid. I have started reading classes at the hospital in connection with the devotional meetings which I have three times a week there. They are not very brilliant but eager to learn. The children’s meetings have been rather neglected lately; I only got out once last week but hope to do better this week. We passed Wameka’s Tuesday when we went in to Kole for a drum of gasoline from the Cotton Company man, and all of the children there rushed out and I was sorry that we couldn’t take time for a meeting with them. The choir looks fine in its robes of white. I hope to get a picture of them this Sunday. They will be singing in four parts, “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian in My Heart”.
Hector and I are feeling fine now, having both gained a little. He gets very tired, but in this rainy season when the work has to stop, he has some extra times for a long afternoon nap. Yesterday it rained from noon until four o’clock and the rain seemed to come down in pail-fulls. Our water boy never has to cut (gather)water during this, for the eaves-troughing directs the rain into a large cistern which supplies the house thru pipes; and because of the water tank and coils in the kitchen, we have hot water as well. What a job that must have been for Doctor Westcott to do! Every little while Hector shakes his head over some lovely piece of work left by Doctor, and says, “What a man he was to do all of this!” He is realizing more and more what it means to build up a mission station and then keep it in repairs.
Plans are being made now for a new boys’ school. The boys have outnumbered their dormitories and classrooms and something must be done for accommodation for them. There are nearly 100 of them. When I have my hand craft I divide them into thirds and put them in three separate classrooms. The native teacher has one group and two older schoolboys the other two, and I pass from one to the other, giving instructions and checking on their work. Sometimes I wish I were triplets! I had a lot of fun passing out the sun suits given by the ladie’s groups in Pontiac and Salvation Harbour and 5 Points. The children have come from their villages with hardly a scrap of a loincloth, and those sun suits looked beautiful to them. The school supplies them with nice two-piece khaki suits for Sundays and during the week they are supposed to wear the suits that were last year’s Sunday suits, but there are so many boys that were not here last year and they have nothing. These fill a real need and they love them. You should have seen the proud look on a little boy who received a bright purple one! The clothing that I brought from home that was old and cast off has served for some bigger boys who have worked every noon for us in our garden for one month. Dorothy Keylon’s bathing suit went to a chubby boy named Avakuma. He is proud of the name embroidered on the front.
By the way, we have peas and parsnips and turnips, radishes and peppers and tomatoes growing. I don’t know whether they will live to bear fruit, but there are hopes. The roots of the peas look a little rotten already from the rain. We have had a splendid crop of popcorn and is it ever a treat.
This morning I took out of my trunk a little painted frame for pots and pan holders. It is a colored mammy holding up two hooks which hold the two red holders. I took it to the kitchen and asked the boys what it was. One said it was an animal (the scarf around mammy’s head sticks out in two places at the top!); Tabie said it was a bird; and Lendo, who was doing the ironing said it was an animal with horns. They laughed when I told them it was a woman. Then they began to see the features of it. I told them I was going to nail it in the kitchen by the stove. I called it Tabia’s wife, and that bro’t a chuckle out of him, and when I nailed it up I said, “And she can’t run away from you,” (his other one ran away from him!). Then I put two more holders inside the top of the stove, one had a top like a chicken. I said, “This is the house of the chicken; perhaps it will lay eggs here.” He laughed and said, “Will a cloth give birth to a child?” They have such funny ways of saying things.
We have had the Pudneys in our area for nearly a month now. But they have spent one week of that at Ekoko and are now trekking among the pygmies and the Basali folk. Today Mrs Pudney and Viola come back from the pygmies. Their journey was an interesting one and we’ll be glad to hear all about it. Part of the trip was to have been made by canoe. Monday Mr Jenkinson and Mr Pudney will be back from their journey. Then they will be with us one week more and leave for Maganga and Boyulu. Two weeks later we will all go to Boyulu for a large General Conference.
Two weeks ago, there were about 16 baptized here. Among them were two school boys who have really come right out for the Lord. They are giving messages and praying very frequently. One of them is Botiki’s cousin who came back here with him when Botiki returned last year. Now my paper is finishing too quickly.
I am so anxious to hear from you, Mother. I missed telling you on Mother’s Day that I love you very much and I long for the day when we can be together again. Thanks for all the hard work of packing my things. I keep finding little tokens of your tender touch. Lovingly, Ione
Joan Pengilly does indeed leave for England and Hector and Ione drive her to Stanleyville so she can catch her plane. It is an opportunity to get the car repaired but more importantly, the trip means Ione can meet up with the Doctor at Yakusu. Ione recounts to her mother in a letter written on the 9th September that she has been having problems with her bladder and has developed cystitis; a condition her mother also experienced. She writes:
I have been wondering where you are & what you are doing; am waiting anxiously for a letter. How is Lucille feeling now? And have you heard any more from Doris?
We have been having some grand times the past five weeks with the Pudneys. Hector & I met them when they flew here, and we said goodbye to them here when they drove to Maganga. They’ll spend an equal time with the other stations. In two weeks we shall all get together at Boyulu for a General Conference. There will be a wedding then, too, Betty Ingleson & John Arton. I have been asked to bake some small cakes for the reception. I’m glad I have the pretty cake decorations I bought while home.
Will write more later. Pray for this cystitis. The doctor says it may not leave me very soon. Lovingly in Him, Ione
PS: The box came this week from the Walnut Lake Group & we were so happy to receive the things. The meat & fish were just what we needed now. Thanks for suggesting that & helping it to come.
Just like a word before this letter goes.
It was great fun opening all Ione’s boxes. You did a wonderful job in packing. We think of you quite frequently but long for the day when you can see Ione & I together. Every passing day adds to our happy relationship. She is so patient & understanding, and yet, so easy to tease. We have great times! How wonderful of the Lord to save her for me. Write soon. Love & Kisses, Hector
Being resident at the Sabena Hotel in Stanleyville means Ione has more time for letter writing, the recipient of this letter is unknown, however it provides useful description and insight into Ione’s aplomb when faced with surprises:
There have been all sorts of exciting things coming our way. Here is just a short news bulletin with the latest. The boys’ school is breaking Bongondza records with 112 on the roll and nigh onto a hundred in attendance. One day this past week it seemed as though there must have been a thousand in our mud school building with its uncertain leaf roof. I was writing at the board when the wall came toward me. I waited one second to make sure some microbe wasn’t biting me, then I called, “Bana,” (children) and with that there was one leap over the four-foot wall in all three rooms and the children were outside. Nothing could have been executed more suddenly. I saw Miss Baker, the teacher of the beginners’ class on the ground in front of the exit of her room, a dozen children hopping over her. I sprang over to her but found she could get up having suffered no serious injury. It had been an earthquake! Some scabie scabs had been knocked off (the legs and arms of the children), but a little iodine comforted the injured. When we returned to the class I said, “We hear of earthquakes in many places of the earth now. What does the Bible say about that?” One of the lads answered, “It says that there will be many before Jesus comes back to earth.” Oh, that this may make some to think! Two lads came to my porch two weeks ago to “turn their hearts.” Oh, how we long to see the whole group to come to know the Lord.
It was an exciting moment one Sunday evening when Mr and Mrs Pudney stepped out of the car. Almost immediately our cherubs lined up to welcome them with songs. The real welcome came next morning in church at seven o’clock. There were songs, speeches and presentations of flowers. What wonderful white people these were who could speak the language. Not very long after that service the drum beat again, this time for the Thanksgiving Festival. Peanuts, rice, fire-wood, chickens, eggs, meat and all kinds of things lined the platform. In the afternoon we gathered at the water where 22 were baptized, among them five of our big school boys. It was a glad day for us as teachers, there was one of the school girls too – a lovely, promising girl. Baptism was followed by communion. The day was not done yet. At night we sat around a bon-fire and heard the testimonies of many until little bodies stretched out on the grass asleep.
In order to get a better idea of the trek work the Pudneys visited two areas. Viola took Mrs Pudney on a route which fringed Pygmy territory. The ladies had the excitement of stopping a war between the forest pygmies and the village ones. A man had absconded with a girl, a sufficient cause for the blowing of the war horn. The forest folk came up the road but at sight of the white woman they retreated as quickly as they had come. “What’s the use of fighting and wounding people?” asked Viola of one of the little men. “Wound?” said he, “We kill, we do not wound.” True, their poisoned arrows never miss the mark. Farther on they had the joy of seeing a whole village indicate their desire to follow the Lord. Who would teach them? There was no one. They pooled their resources and bought a village Bible. One of the lads who can read a bit will read the precious Book to them. Who will be their teacher? The Holy Spirit. I see I must stop, but don’t stop praying for us. Lovingly, Ione
On the 11th September, Ione writes to her niece, Esther:
While I was praying for you this morning, I determined to write you a letter. Every time I see pictures of the Dionne Quintuplets I think you must be just about their size, since you were born at nearly the same time. However, I know your life will be different from theirs since you know a living Saviour. Isn’t it wonderful to entrust all of our problems to Him?
I would like to know what you did all summer. Were you at Maranatha? Did you do any special reading or sewing? I am doing a little hand sewing while I am waiting in this hotel. Hector and I have been able to accomplish five important things by coming to Stanleyville this week: 1. To bring Miss Pengilly to meet her plane which will start her on her long plane journey to England. 2. To bring the car for a general over hauling. 3. For me, to arrange for a motor launch and go down-river to the doctor (the third of my visits this year; this time to be told I have cystitis). 4. To be of assistance in shopping and at hotel to Mr & Mrs Pudney who passed thru Stanleyville from Bongondza to Maganga. 5. To do some shopping for nearly everyone on our station.
Believe it or not, I was able to buy one pair of Nylon hose out here! 100 francs, or nearly $2!! I hadn’t seen any stockings for sale since I left home and I brought very few along. These will be lovely at the time I attend the wedding of John Arton and Betty Ingleson (the English nurse who cared for Ione when she had the threatened miscarriage) at Boyulu.
We are anxious to be back at Bongondza and hope to start early in the morning if the car is finished today. I left the native African baby, Pudu, and Flicker, the tame antelope, in charge of Lendo, our house boy. Verna Schade has been taking my boys’ school classes while I have been here. When I get back I hope to alternate the handiwork classes with Child Evangelism classes and in that way more directly deal with them about salvation. Pray for these 100 boys. They are souls for whom Christ died.
Write & tell me how your Mother is. And tell about your Daddy. I would like a scratch (letter) from him now & then, too! I love you all so much & want to share an interest in your hopes and plans and the work the Lord is doing thru you.
Lovingly yours in Him, Aunt Ione
P.S. What are you planning to do when you finish school? Ruth & Lawrence may read this, too, and give them each a hug for me. My prayer: “Choose me, use me, if need be, bruise me!”
Ione writes to the Valley Farms Baptist Church, Lansing, Michigan on 5th October 1946, thanking them for their gifts of money and explaining how it is put to service and describes life as a missionary, what these days entail:
First let me say that $200 has come here for me from Valley Farms Bapt. Ch. up to now; $50 in Feb., $50 in April, $100 in Aug. Thank you very very much. As I look down the list of expenditures from this service support I am more than grateful that your gifts have made possible shop supplies, gasoline for a trip to the doctor’s a microscope for the hospital, and many other smaller items. I do not know how we could have managed without your help for living expenses are higher here than before I went home on furlough. Someone said, “two can live cheaper than one, but not so long.” I am glad we have the assurance that friends at home are interested in us out here and are helping in such a material way.
Today another baby came to be fed and healed, the wee son of our Big Chief Toya; his wife is a sweet woman whom we hope to reach for the Lord. Each one of these African infants that we help costs about $37.50 for the first six months; it is a real project and I am thankful that the Lord enables me to do it. We lost Lollypop, the little girl, but another little boy, Pudu, is doing very well. The little tame antelope, Flicker, has been on our milk rations, too, until just now, when he has decided to wean himself after seven months, and now is not the slightest afraid and goes free over the whole station, sleeping in the forest.
It was a thrill to come home this week after nearly two weeks at a General Conference at another UFM station, Boyulu, and to find that altho’ there was no white person here at Bongondza for that time, there were three souls saved. How often one finds that the Lord can work thru other channels than ourselves. We praise the Lord for Christian Africans who can be trusted to carry on the Lord’s work. The boys’ school of 112 was left in charge of Limandigumi, and the numbers increased to 120.
In August, my trunks came, then the Pudneys from America to see our station, and I was glad to have a nice white tablecloth on the table! It was just about then that I took on the handcraft and music classes in the boys’ school, as well as child evangelism, and then a number of boys accepted the Lord. I was glad that we had taught them to pray at the beginning and end of each class, for when we came back from the Conference, we found them doing it. They are memorizing Isa. 55, Psalm 100, and a verse from each book in the N.T. “The entrance of Thy Word giveth light.” For a number of months we had daily lessons in the tribal tongue, Libua, and found it fascinating, as taught to us by Viola Walker. Now we have found it necessary to spend an hour a day in French study to get ready for an examination in January. My husband and I have just completed our second examination in Bangala; would you like to know our marks? Hector 88-1/2 and I, 92-1/2.
DIARY: Oct. 2- Arrived from Boyulu after 500-kilometre ride 7:30 P.M. Natives shouting, school boys running up to help carry our bags. Supper at 8:30, our cook Tabia, had a fire all hot and made soup.
Oct. 3-5 A.M. Mother of native baby, Pudu, calling that she might receive some milk for the baby; got up and prepared it and went back to sleep until 7, when carpenters came for Hector, a boy applied to me for work, went to the hospital to see the patients, stopped at garden & picked fresh peas, turnips, radishes, put medicine in antelopes sore eye, put oil on scabby head of the native baby, visited boys’ school music class and was thrilled to find that teacher was able to beat time correctly and teach in 3 parts. Breakfast at 8:45 – devotions in Bangala with the boys. Spent some time with the Lord. At 9:45 unpacked our things and gave soiled things to boy to wash and iron. Many things were wet and had to be put into trays in the sun – stationary zipper case, many stamps, envelopes, paper.
Set our food for the boy to prepare for dinner, rice, sweet potatoes, spinach, some tinned meat, fresh rhubarb sauce from some rhubarb we bro’t with us from Boyulu (their vegetable basket from the Kivu mountains has some in it); dinner at 12; rest until 2; hot bath, went to visit the native women on the station; Atosa gave me 4 eggs. Station prayer meeting at Jenkinson’s at 5. Hector mentioned how good a rhubarb pie would taste so the cook and I made one for supper and sent two pieces to Jenkinson’s. Made a shell for a cream filling tomorrow. Supper at seven, read a while and went to bed. Next week will be a bit different, with the regular station activities again, with hospital meetings Mon. Wed. Fri. at 6:30 A.M.; Music Classes each day at 8:30; Child Evangelism Mon. & Wed. 2- 3:30; Handicraft Tues. & Thurs.; Choir Mon. & Thurs. French for whites each day at 4.
Please pray much for us all. Give my love to the friends who did so much for me, especially the young married folk. Please write me sometime and I will try to send you individual letters. Lovingly in Christ, Ione Reed McMillan
On the 12th October, 1946, Ione writes to her sister Lucille and family:
Dearest Lucille, Maurice, Esther, Lawrence & Ruthie,
I’m a little late for Esther’s birthday, but I want to wish her a happy one. I received her letter just two days before and we were thinking especially of her on the 7th, and then of Doris on the 10th.
“A birthday greeting, Esther, – That’s bringing wishes, too,
For all the best and finest things – That Jesus has for you.”
Then we want to say Happy Birthday to Maurice who has another year to tack on somewhere around the 29th. “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.” Psa. 40:4
A little in advance perhaps, but just to join the party I’ll give Lucille a special message for her birthday:
“Here is a heartfelt prayer – For you on this glad day;
God keep you in His care – Upon life’s every way;
Give gladness to your heart, – Keep you from all that harms
Forever safe beneath – His everlasting Arms.”
Thanks for your letter, Lucille of June 14th, as well as Esther’s with the card sympathy. And then the one of Sept. 23rd. This is an answer to that, too. I hope that this letter makes as good time as our last one. You spoke of Marcellyn, but you did not say what she was doing. I presume she is staying there. I was pleased to hear from some new missionaries who have just come out that Herbert Foster recently visited the U.F.M. Home in Philadelphia, and was heard to say, “This is my Mission,” Does that mean he is planning to come out here? And does that mean anything to Marcellyn? I would like so much to have a letter from her. The Pudneys had ever so much to say about her. They have so many plans for when she comes out. We enjoyed talking about Marcellyn with them.
They are so anxious for us all to speak French well, and have determined that no one else shall come out without a good speaking knowledge; they want Marcellyn to go to Belgium on her way to Congo, and even try to get a Belgian teacher’s certificate if possible. Our schools out here will be recognized by the government if we have one teacher on a station who has the Belgian certificate. Of course the school is only a means to an end, and we want most of all to win these boys and girls for Christ.
I have two Child Evangelism Classes a week now in the boys’ school and the number has grown to 120. Several have accepted Christ since the first two lessons. Hector has made me a flannel graph and I have already used my Wayne University, “Water washes faces but the blood of Jesus washes hearts.” And I am preparing a series of talks on the Passover, carrying the scarlet cord of atonement thru the old and new Testaments. Pray much for these boys, so wild and savage, right from the forest some of them, knowing nothing, wearing very little, so easy to arouse to anger, laughter or a dance. One must be careful against mob spirits.
I have translated Mother’s DVBS program into Bangala, even the creed and “Thank God for the Bible” song. I have stand up and sit-down chords and one boy, Ngbayo, plays them (I stuck red papers on the organ keys for one chord, and blue papers on the notes of the other chord! He can’t miss it!). There are several boys working on trios. This morning I took two out with me to some villages for meetings for a little practical work. The boys are memorizing Isa. 55, Psa. 100 and a favourite verse for each book in the N.T.
You should see the smallest boy, the child of the head teacher. Little Moses can salute, march, and has even tried to speak French (he is about 3 years old and very chubby with a look of constant wonder on his round brown satin face; his lashes curl like silk and his body is like lumps of chocolate!) They say when he prayed the other day he said, (in French) “I am, Thou art, He is, Amen.” He is one of the first of second generation Christians, providing he accepts Christ, for he is from parents who are both Christians, a rare thing. We just heard the other day that Anziambo and Kibibi are expecting a baby. Anziambo is a very promising evangelist on the Basili Trail. This baby we hope will be another trophy. It means so much to have Christian parents; I hope you children realize that.
This week I have fed three African babies, the diet ranging from weak Klim to strong, Cod-liver Oil, glucose, sugar, castor oil, crushed bananas, tangerine juice, flour gruel, antelope soup, and raw eggs. Speaking of antelopes, Flicker sends his greetings. At least that’s what I tho’t he was trying to tell me yesterday when he rubbed my leg so knowingly and cuddled affectionately his face in the cup of my hand. He is a dear little fellow and we would like to have a mate for him. He has been with us now for seven months.
If you children want to put on your prayer list some children your own size, I’ll name three: Aiyeto (ahyaytoe) for Esther; she is not quite so old as Esther but will soon be eligible to leave the school and marry; pray that she will find a Christian husband. Tigbuli for Lawrence, who lives at the Chief’s village and walks every day 4 kilometres each way (nearly 3 miles) to come to school. This afternoon he spent an hour on my porch shortening a shirt I had given him for working noon hours on my lawn (one month’s wages!). And for Ruth, Alieta, the daughter of another village evangelist (he’s not one anymore now for he ran off with a wife of a village headman and left his beautiful Christian wife and six children; Alieta‘s little sister Ruth (who would have been just Ruth’s age) was left in charge of some relatives who gave her the wrong kind of medicine when she became sick, and she died. Alieta has a bad temper (very unlike Ruth Peterson) so won’t you pray for her?
Now I must close. Won’t you pray for us, too, for we are so busy with this big house and so many African girls and boys. We are very happy and could not ask anything except that we hear oftener from you dear ones at home.
Lovingly in Christ, Hector & Ione
Hector and Ione’s thank you letters includes ones to fellow missionaries, Ione writes to their hosts for the conference at Boyulu on the 17th October 1946:
Dear Dolena and Chester,
We missed last week’s mail with a letter to you as we had intended, so will get an early start this week. We want you to know how we enjoyed staying at your house during the Conference. You made us feel so welcome and right “at home”. Thank you so much for all you did for us. It must have been a tremendous job to satisfy so many people with so many things for so long a time, beside all of your schoolboys! You must have been very tired.
It does not seem possible that it is all over now. And Pudneys are nearly ready to leave. It was good to be with them, wasn’t it? I hope they have kept well during their stay at Boyulu and Maganga.
Enclosed is a check for 600 francs for our share of the food; Hector had so many ‘seconds’ that we really should be paying more! And this hardly pays for half of the jam you bought, and we ate ever so much of it, it was so good! It was a real treat for us.
We hope you are planning DEFINITELY on coming at Christmas time. Ma Kinso said yesterday she tho’t that if you didn’t get the old car fixed that we could drive to Stanleyville to meet you and save that long lay-over with the courier. She said something about hoping that some of the other folk could come, too. What about Olive? We are counting on the Walby’s at the same time if they can come.
Hector is wondering how the car repairing is making out. Please write us and tell us what you are doing. Have you made plans yet for a Christmas program? I have a couple of ideas but haven’t begun to work them out. At the moment I am working on a flannel graph of the Passover.
Hector surprised me tonight by bringing in a lovely revolving table stand for condiments, jam, etc. It is of one lovely large piece of reddish wood. It runs with ball-bearings and has a nice metal stand under it. He just varnished it and it is hanging just now from the ceiling over our heads. A few days ago, he fixed a ‘noiseless’ door fastener in the bathroom. I expect next he will be padding the tub.
Please be assured that we love you and long to have your fellowship again real soon.
Proving His Faithfulness, Ione
Hector writes his sister Florence on 10th November:
There are three addressed envelopes on the desk waiting for a letter; but it is so close to mail time that I will just pick out yours and try to get a note off to you. I’d like to find some automatic way of answering letters but I guess nothing can substitute for the personal touch.
We want to thank you so much for that nice letter you sent. It was written June 30 but it was the kind of letter that does not get out of date ! ! ! ! We could do with one like that every week but I know you are busy too.
It was so nice to hear of Carol May (new family addition). The name is very pretty. I’m sure you are both proud of her. I’ve been telling the other folk here on the station about my family so the other day when I mentioned to Mr Jenkinson about Buster working in the airplane plant, he was very interested.
The Lord is so precious to you, I can see. When one looks back over a few years one is amazed at the way He has led. So many problems come up out here that we do indeed need someone at home who knows how to pray for us. This morning I felt like a washout when I was getting ready to preach. It’s one thing to get a message in English and another thing to confine one’s expressions to a native language. But then when the service was under way the Lord marvellously undertook and I believe He blessed.
I wrote and asked Eleanor (Hector’s other sister) to find a nice thin bible and send it out so I would have a Christmas present for Ione. The letter went last July and two weeks ago the bible arrived. It was so beautiful that I just had to call Ione in the bedroom and give it to her right away. She was so thrilled.
I’ll send along a picture taken some time ago. Miss Walker from near Hamilton is on the left, then Mr and Mrs Jenkinson (England), myself and Ione, then Miss Pengilly (England) now home on furlough. Three more single ladies have come out since. But OH HOW we need young men. I could easily divide my work up among three more. So maybe you can remember to lay these burdens before the Lord. Also pray that Ione and I will be kept in the secret place with Him. It is so easy to get cold when there are so many things to occupy one’s mind.
Much love to all of you, Ione and Hector.
Eleanor writes from Montreal on the 14th November 1946:
Dear Ione & Hector-
Greetings! And congratulations on completing the first year of your married life. May you have many, many more!
It has been nice hearing from you. I had meant to answer your letter before this, Ione, and now I have your joint letter. I laughed at the idea of Hector keeping his nail in someone’s hair for convenience. It sounds just like the sort of labour-saving device you would think of, Hec.
How are your language efforts getting along? By the way, how is Hector’s French now? I used to laugh in the old days. I’m no better myself at learning languages, I well know.
May God bless you and prosper your work. Love, Eleanor
Ione’s family are the recipients of the letter written on 15th November, again it is a joint affair for Ione is trying to rest and not over exert herself, the reason becoming apparent towards the end of the missive:
Dearest Mother and ALL,
Your letter of Nov. 1st came this week, and we were very thrilled and relieved to hear from you after so many months of waiting. We had begun to wonder just what had happened to you. We are glad you are still with Maurice and Lucille and feel that your services must be especially welcome at this time since Lucille will soon be going into the hospital. We wish you were here to do our ironing instead of the lad we have who usually has to do it at least twice.
We are glad you have the junior choir and the children’s meetings. We will be praying for them. It is good to hear about Marcellyn’s meetings. We presume she must be at the French “Y” by now, and she may have met the Pudneys when they arrived from Congo. Hector said goodbye to them in Stanleyville Oct. 29th. Does Marcellyn hear quite frequently from Herbert Foster? Pudneys were very much interested in him as a possible candidate for Congo.
What a shame to have wasted all those juicy tomatoes! Tell Lucille there are some pretty strawberry designs that might do better on the wall ! ! ! I guess she was glad to get all that hot stuff off her chest. We are sorry she has had so much trouble. The cooker she gave us works fine. Also the waffle iron gives us some tasty meals. The little collapsible frying pan is sitting on the shelf waiting for the next trek.
I have been giving the boys pottery for their handcraft and the results were fairly good; but while mixing up some paint I spilled some dryer on my wrist watch and really “GUMMED UP THE WORKS”. Hector worked quite a while on it and got it to go for a few days but it is playing up again. But today he repaired Marcellyn’s little Ben and it is sitting on the table right beside us ticking softly and faithfully. It has been out of order since our honeymoon when it got too close to Hector’s dental cleanser.
Here is a list of a few of Hector’s latest accomplishments: benches for the school boys, a remodelled job on “Benton Hall” (another classroom) seating forty at brick and wood desks; a new type of glass window having continuous ventilation and being wind proof (seen in Stanleyville), venetian blind, table revolving on ball bearings to be used on the dining room table for condiments and other small dishes, desk, shoe rack, clothes closet, ceiling, and other odds and ends, for some of the single ladies.
This letter is a joint affair since Ione is dictating and Hector is typing it. After another month we hope to be able to tell you that we are going to have a baby the last of May. We hope to get a letter off to Doris this week. We are sorry to have waited so long in writing to her. She must be feeling pretty blue just now (after losing her baby).
If you don’t hear from us before Christmas, please accept our best wishes for a happy and blessed Christmas Day. We hope to have as our guests for a month two young couples from the other two stations. I already have my Christmas present from Hector; a beautiful thin leather Oxford Bible, ordered through his sister in Montreal.
Don’t be concerned mother about my being in bed for it is only a part time measure to prevent losing this baby.
As regards the Lord’s work we are happy to say that souls are being saved every few days. Most of these are from the Boys’ school. Our Christmas program will be “Why the Chimes Rang”. We love you and appreciate all your efforts. Love, Ione & Hector
PS: Just as I was about to close this letter I happened to look at the little verse (Luke 22:32) on the sticker you put on your envelope. It was the same Ps. I used in the prayer service this morning. Much love, XXX Hector (X to Lucille)
For Hector, regular letter writers, who do not wait on responses from him are so supportive as seen in the way he corresponds to his Pastor from Toronto, he writes to Pastor Keen on 22nd November, 1946:
I must say that you are a faithful correspondent. The last letter was written Sept. 7th and contained the news of your trip. The others before that were very welcome and we do appreciate the sympathy and prayers.
I came across a verse this morning which we may put at the beginning of next form letter. It might be a little reversed from the context but it certainly applies….”For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” I Thessalonians 3:8
The three months visit of the Pudneys was a real blessing to us here on the field. You will probably be hearing something from them soon and projecting some African views on the screen. We were glad they enjoyed such good health.
Maybe you would like a short report on the various departments of the work here at Bon-gon-dza (the last syllable is best pronounced by letting out some pent-up breath, by suddenly dropping the jaw and just getting the ‘z-ah’ sound articulated).
- The evangelistic work is being taken care of now by Miss Viola Walker (Grimsby, Ontario) together with Miss Francis Longley (Toronto) who is now on Bongondza personnel, learning the language which she will use when she and Miss Baker go to EKOKO next January. They are on a three-week trek now and after a few days rest next week, will again go into another district among the pygmies. Mrs Pudney will be able to tell you something about those people since she trekked with Miss Walker about two months ago.
Please pray that more young men will come in from these villages in order to enter an evangelists’ class, which we hope to start next year.
- Boys’ School – under the direction of Miss Verna Schade. There are about 120 on the roll, having each one 206 bones with muscles attached, making a grand total of a LOT OF WIGGLES. Of late we have been giving them about a half hour of physical training each morning, which uses up some excess energy. Miss Baker helps in the teaching, and Ione takes the classes for singing, handcraft and child evangelism. Quite a number have accepted the Lord, and those who are Christians are dealing with others.
Pray for the new school building which we are planning to put up soon. It will take a lot of men and bricks and HARD work. Also for a young man to come out from America or Canada with qualifications to teach. Miss Schade is doing a wonderful task but it is really a man’s job.
Here is the end of the page and there are three more depts.! But with this I will close. The other day I began to think of where we could place three young men if they were available. Then I asked Ione where she would put them. She said, two in the boys’ school and one out doing child evangelism. The three jobs I had picked out were, Doctor, teacher for the evangelist, and trekking the outstations. Hence Pray!! Hector
November is a letter writing day, as Hector’s sister Eleanor gets a ‘thank you’ for doing his Christmas shopping for him:
Dear Sister Eleanor:
“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord”. I Thessalonians 3:8
It would be so much easier to sit down and talk to you; but after the nice Bible you picked out and had sent out here !!! well, I’ll just have to do the next best thing, and write you a letter.
When the weekly mail came on October 23, there were a few letters and two parcels. I was working in the carpenter shop, when Mr Jenkinson sent a native lad around with the mail to the various houses, about 4 p.m. When I came to the house Ione had read some of the letters and had opened one parcel, (not yours). Everything was on the dining room table, so I picked up the other package and came in the office. I must say that the Bible was well wrapped. When I finally got the last paper off and saw the Bible I could hardly believe my eyes. It was so thin and yet such good print. Could I contain myself until Christmas ???? It didn’t take very long to make up my mind. I picked it up and went into our bedroom, asking Ione if she would like to come in for a minute. We sat down together and I told her that I wanted to give her a Christmas present. When she saw it I can tell you that I got a nice big thank-you kiss. She does appreciate it very, very much and wants to send along her thanks.
By the way, the other parcel was also from Montreal. A lady by the name of Sarah Ferguson, 4301 Benny Ave. Montreal 28, sent us a small lunch cloth and four serviettes, hand-worked linen. They are ever so nice, more so since she did it herself. There is an interesting story behind this. When I was coming up from the Maritimes to be ordained in Toronto, I met this lady and we began to talk in the train. She was very interested and when we parted she asked me to write to her when I got to Africa. And so I did and this is the result. She might be pleased to see you some time if you can find where she lives.
The Hough’s, having heard from Hector continue a correspondence with offers of support, Hector responds:
Dear Doug and Margaret:
I have a few more ounces to spare for this airmail, so will attach a wee note. We were ever so glad to get those nice letters and snapshot. Maybe you would like to have a couple of our POSES…
I have written to Pastor Keen in this same mail so he may be able to give you more news about our work.
Since you both so kindly offered to send us things, we have been discussing a new project. We have a 16 mm projector here that works off a battery and have showed a few pictures to the great delight of the natives. They seem to remember things they see more than what they hear, more especially when things come to life about ten times over and there was still calls for more. If you could manage to get some old films on education, travelogues, or best of all, sacred films, we would be more than delighted as it would be a big help in the geography class in the boys’ school which is quite large now. But please don’t go to a lot of trouble if films are scarce or expensive.
We would love to hear from you again soon.
Yours in His glorious service, Hector and Ione
Celebrating a year of togetherness, Hector and Ione write to Leone Reed:
It is just a year ago that Ione and I met at Juba and hastily prepared to marry. What a happy year it has been! ! ! !
Ione is lying down and almost asleep but she will dictate to me, so here goes.
I am up and around and doing some things but plenty of rest seems to help. I am doing my best not to lose this baby.
There is another item which I did not mention in the last letter. Can you tell me how much remains on the Huntoon bill? If you could let me know as soon as possible there may be a way of taking care of it.
Please let us know immediately after Lucille has her baby, how she is, etc. Did Marcellyn go to New York? We haven’t heard from her but are looking forward to some news. Also some news concerning yourself. It would be nice if you could be with Lucille this Christmas. We would be glad of some recent pictures if they are available. We will enclose one of the whole group of UFM missionaries taken last January. Love XX Ione
A short report on five departments of the work is as follows:
- Evangelistic. Miss Walker and Miss Longley are out on trek now and after a few days rest next week they will be out again among the pygmies. Mrs Pudney and Miss Walker did that route in August. Pray that young men may come in from these native villages to enter an evangelist’s class we hope to open next year.
- Boys’ school. Miss Schade is doing a wonderful job. There are 120 on the roll. Miss Baker has charge of about 70 of the younger ones. Ione is still carrying on with most of her classes. Either Mr Jenkinson or I take charge of the ½ hour physical training each morning.
Thank the Lord for the numbers that have come to accept the Lord as their Saviour.
- Girls’ work. Small as usual but far reaching in its effects. Miss Rutt has things well in hand now, allowing Miss Walker time for trekking and leaving her free to go home on furlough the first of the year.
4 & 5. Women’s’ work and the building program will have to wait until another time……Yours as ever…..Love & Kisses, Ione & Hector
A week later, Hector writes to his father and Archie:
Dear Dad and Archie:
Thanks for the nice letters you have been sending and I did appreciate the clippings from the paper. I read all I could see, on both sides. It was nice to see Mr. McDonnell’s picture too.
And we do want to thank you and Aunt Marjorie for the $25. It will find plenty of uses. Living is quite expensive here compared to what it used to be. It is amazing how much meat comes to our door. A small hind leg of a little antelope costs about 30¢. It lasts about two days. If we try to keep it longer that that it begins to spoil. Milk is the most expensive thing, about $1.75 a week. This Klim is wonderful stuff. It is whole milk atomized. The water is evaporated and the rest falls to the bottom of the container as powder. That is sealed and sent out. We put two tablespoons of this powder for each glass, mixing it with boiled filtered water.
Did you know that Aunt Marjorie gave Ione some seed corn when she visited Avonmore? Just the other day I put three kernels in a glass of water with a blotter in it. I have the glass on the desk in front of me and two of the kernels have sprouted. One is up about three inches. It must feel funny growing in November ! ! ! ! But it is nice and warm here.
Ione is going to dictate now for a few minutes. She is lying down, as she is not too well these days. We are hoping for a baby next June but she seems to have a difficult time the first three months……..
“We are hoping to plant all the corn when the rains come on in Feb. The baggage and the corn did not come in time to plant it in the last rainy season. I put the peas in but they didn’t do well. We wish that we could be with you at Christmas time; I can’t think of a nicer place to spend Christmas than on the farm. Our Christmas tree here will be a paper one. We do have some spruce trees in the yard, which we brought from the mountains. We do enjoy very much receiving your letters and hope you will keep up the good work. You must miss Jean a great deal. We were glad to have a letter from her recently. My pet hobby these days is the school boys. That is all Hector hears me talk about. Just now we are making new clothes for them to wear next year. One hundred skirts and pairs of short trousers is quite an undertaking; but all the ladies on the station have joined forces and 77 have been finished now. We are planning a Christmas program. The boys are going to act out the little story, “Why the Chimes”; and Hector is going to fix the church bells (brake drums) so they will ring with no one pulling the cord. I don’t think he knows himself yet how he will do it. The native girls and women also have a part in the program, but Hector’s workmen will just sit and listen”
…..Hope you have a very blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. Yours as ever…….Hector & Ione
On the 30th November, Ione and Hector also write to Mr Goodman, Mission Secretary in Toronto:
Dear Mr Goodman:
There is no use trying to make any excuses for my not writing sooner. So better late than never.
Yesterday Mr Jenkinson and I crossed the road from the drill grounds where we had just given the school boys an hour’s physical exercise. The hospital native nurse told us that one of the workmen was still quite sick so we went into the ward where he was lying on his bed. A bad case of pneumonia left him almost unconscious. We called, “Majoane, Majoane”, his eyelids wavered a little and he groaned but that was about all. He is one of the oldest men around here but has been a Christian for a number of years. But now that he was slipping away, about all we could do was commit him into the Lord’s hands. He is greatly loved by everyone and will be missed. He is still living but that is about all. From that room we went to another where a different situation met us. There was a man sitting on his bed with a New Testament lying on the floor near him. He wanted to be saved. There was no doubt about his needing the Lord’s cleansing power. He came to the hospital because of his living in sin. Mr Jenkinson picked up the bible and began to question him. He had lived near another mission station, received some teaching and bought the bible. But now that he was beginning to pay the wages of sin, he wanted to change his heart. After hearing once more the plan of salvation he even broke into the conversation by starting to pray, “…..my heart has been crooked and is like a stone, but now I want to change my heart…..” And so once more the gospel was proven to be the Power of God unto Salvation. Physical death and spiritual birth taking place under the same roof.
Of late many reports have come to us, convincing us that difficult days are ahead. A spirit seems to be abroad which brings forth unrest and murmuring. Part of it may be due to the change-over from paganism to civilization. But this afternoon we discussed it a little and the statement was made that these people do not have it as difficult as our ancestors who were hindered in their progress. The thing that makes it so difficult to work among these people is that we are trying to help them, but their responses wither our hopes. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” We decided to have more meat for the workmen to eat, thinking that will cheer them up; hire a hunter; he brings in two pigs, and the men complain that these are just animals with bones. Another instance; you give a boy a shirt, that is still usable, but before he leaves the premises he sells it to another boy for a few pennies. But in all our circumstances God’s grace is available. Limitless patience is required, because “When the desire cometh, it is a tree of LIFE”. Yours in Him, Hector & Ione
Finally, on this letter writing day, Hector writes to his friends and fellow missionaries working at Boyulu, Chester and Dolena Burke:
Just one more month in this year. Do you remember what was happening this time last year? I was being squirted with bean sauce all over my nice tie…
At our station meeting the other evening we discussed Christmas gifts. If you folks can come for New Years, we will hold over our Christmas party, so that you can join us. We thought you might be wondering about gifts so we decided to have each person give to one other person. This is the way it will affect you folks.
Chester gives to Kinso
Olive gives to Topsy (Eileen Walby)
Dolena gives to Mary Rutt
I’m not telling you who is going to favour you with their wealth but you will fair allright.
Sorry to hear you had such a siege of sickness. What is the word from John and Betty??
I guess you heard that Dr. Trout and his son came and got the Chev (Chevrolet) truck and the things from the hospital. I hope the old truck didn’t play up, but the young lad (22) is a good mechanic.
I came across a good bit the other day when I was reading my notes on Ps. 91. v. 4., “God is tender inside but armour-plate outside.” It has been very refreshing to reread some of these notes.
The guns arrived in good condition, but there are no shells yet. So I can just practice my aim! ! ! !
Waiting to hear from you again… Hector
Hector and Ione write again to their church friends on the 5th December:
Dear Friends in Christ,
“For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” I Thesslonians 3:8
How thankful we are for faithful friends at home, who through such times of uncertainty and deprivation are “continuing instant in prayer” for us, and are making possible the Gospel ministry here. We want to express our appreciation to you all who have stood back of us this year with your gifts and prayers and interest. Month by month we have marvelled that friends have “stood fast”. May the Lord richly bless you. We trust you have had a blessed Christmas time, and that this year will be one of exceeding joy in your service for Him.
We are like a spread-out church here, made up of departments which one would find in any church (except the Ladies Aid Society, tho’ I presume my husband, Hector, would qualify for that office!). The Christmas program will represent the women’s, boys’ and girls’ departments, with verses and songs on prayer, enacting, “Why the Chimes Ring,” and the second coming of Christ. In the afternoon the natives will have a feast (provided the hunter gets something!), and gifts of soap, and perfume (for Mary Rutt’s girls), and fishhooks for the boys, for their vacation outings.
Frances Longley came to Bongondza recently from Maganga, preparatory to going to Ekoko, where she and Mary Baker expect to start work the first of the year. Just now Frances is trekking among the pygmies with Viola Walker. They will have some exciting tales to tell; the last time Viola went, she found herself in a village that was at war with other forest pygmies and she saw those tiny folk coming pell-mell toward her in full battle dress. They stopped when they saw the white ladies and hid, but for awhile neither Viola, not Mrs Pudney, who was with her, could tell what would happen to them. (here Ione is referring to the incident she wrote about on the 9th September 1946, where the ladies intervened on a crowd seeking revenge for a man absconding with some one else’s wife.)
We enjoyed very much the visit of the Pudneys and regretted to see them leave. They are busy now at home in deputation meetings. My sister, Marcellyn Reed, is at the east coast waiting her time to sail for Belgium and Congo, thus joining us here.
Hector will have to get busy and build some more houses! Pearl Hiles has chosen the spot where she wants her house when she arrives, next door to Doctor’s on the hill. Verna Schade’s will be between Mary Baker’s and Viola’s. The ground has been broken for a new boys school on the slope across from the work shop. A young people’s club room is nearly finished near the site of the old church. Then Machini, the head teacher, will need a house back of the boy’s school. The old brick kiln will have to do a lot of firing in the near future. No more leaf roofs now, for we are replacing them with wooden shingles made in the Bongondza “shingle factory”.
A short while ago as the boys were leaving their music class, their line was very crooked and there was considerable noise. I was inclined to be cross until I discovered they were ‘detouring’ a tarantula which sat perched ready to pounce upon the most appetizing brown leg!
Yours in Christ, Hector & Ione XXXXX Happy New Year
7th December, 1946 once again sees Hector writing to the Hough’s:
Dear Doug and Margaret,
Just two days after I sent that last letter to you the mail brought this nice voucher from High Park with your little message, also a note on the back of it from Miss Linton of 18 Howland Ave.
I am enclosing our form letter, a little mat made out of fibres of a native palm tree, and a little poem that we just ran off the press this morning. One of the ladies on the station got it this week from her folks in America; we thought it was so good that we wanted to send them to friends so had the native printer set up the type and run off about 600. I think it is excellent. It speaks about driver ants, and just two nights ago we had thousands of them raid our house. There is only one thing to do and that is get out and leave them to it. We slept over at Mrs Jenkinson’s. In the morning they had all got back into the column again out in the yard. They really do very little damage, in fact they got rid of most of the cockroaches (bigger than the RCAF variety).
The eyeworm is supposed to be filarial. It comes from a bite received from a fly called “Likinga”. The wee worm travels in the lymphatic system, but once in a while gets into a constricted place and stays there for two or three days. The result is a swelling. Two weeks ago I had one in my right hand and it makes the skin so tight that it is hard to bend the joints. This morning I woke up with a swollen elbow, but it is worth it all……Thanking you again in His NAME…..Hector & Ione
Ione writes to her friend Agnes Sturgeon on the 13th December, 1946:
I have missed Gospel Echoes ever so much for the past six months. I guess someone else must be receiving my copy. Can you check to see if the addressograph knows my married name and address? Otherwise everything is fine.
We appreciate your prayers in our behalf. I still remember the precious times we had in the office each morning praying for the missionaries. I’m glad I’m one now. So many times strength has come, definitely, I know because of someone’s prayer at home. That verse at the beginning of our form letter has been proven many times in matters of physical strength as well as in provision for our needs.
The salaries come thru regularly, and the special gifts from time to time. I will send Frances Churchill a report.
We had a visit from Dr. Trout week before last. He came after the Chevrolet truck and the things which were to go to him from the hospital. He was quite pleased with everything that Doctor Westcott had done here.
The next day after mimeographing the form letter Hector and I went to the kitchen for warm water and stepped into myriads of driver ants. They were raiding the house. I tho’t of the many times when Doctor fought them around Ellen’s bed. We tho’t they would only come in the kitchen side of the house but when I opened my bed to get in, I found company there. They had come in the window and were hanging heavy in the net curtains and had somehow found just the right place between the sheets! We slept that night at Jenkinson’s house, and I was thankful that I was able to get away. A few days ago they came into the basement, but did not climb the stairs. It is fun watching them attack the cockroaches. They really do away with them. Last year at this time they were here, too. I remember on New Year’s Day they surrounded the house and were eating a snake when we arose in the morning.
Agnes, can you tell me whether the box of shells for my guns left the church with my other boxes and if so, if you have heard anything more about it? The guns have come now, and I would like to trace the 500 shells.
We had a notice this week of a phone-amplifier and other things arriving at Matadi. Mr Bemis said he was sending them. Can you tell me how the freight is taken care of?
I guess that is all for now. Now you will have a job answering all of that! Greet the friends in the office and give yourself a hug. Love, Ione
Ione writes on 19th December, to another missionary, Mrs Hurlburt, who is living in Butembo:
Dear Mrs, Hurlburt:
Enclosed you will please find 200 francs for the cost of the wheat which you so kindly sent to us.
We have been enjoying some good breakfast porridge and other things. It was a great help to all on the station when we could get very little of the regular flour. Thank you very much.
We enjoyed very much the brief visit of Dr. Trout and trust that he had no trouble on the road with the Chevrolet pick-up which he took from here. We hope you all can come and pay us a visit sometime.
Your children have surely been “helpers” in the work at Katwa, and I am sure that you miss them very much. (Evidently, the children have gone ‘home’ for schooling as was the practice in those days.) I did so much enjoy seeing them “in action” during the few short days that we stayed at Butembo.
Sometime I would appreciate hearing about little Katherine Jacovidus, a mulatto child at Katwa. Perhaps Miss Sill could drop me a line. We had her here for a year after her father died and learned to love her very much. After Jenkinson’s went on furlough she came and slept in the Westcott children’s room and became one of them for a number of months. My charges were four then instead of three! But I wonder what it would be like to have a score or more as you have.
We pray often for you and shall not forget to remember that your “helpers” need our prayers as well while they are training in the homeland.
May the Lord richly bless you all. Lovingly in Christ, Ione Reed McMillan
It has been at times, a difficult year for Hector and Ione, veering from the excitement of their wedding to the disappointment of losing the baby daughter. They have set up home and opened up their home to visitors and fostered children, Lollipop died but Katherine, one of the first children Ione cared for seems to be surviving at school in Katwa, after all her disappointments, she longs for news of one child that has survived in the tropics.
They seem to have barely had time to record in detail all their activities, especially the time they had with the Pudneys, perhaps time was spent talking rather than writing. It must have been a joy for the Pudneys to see the two young people they encouraged to be missionaries and to team up working so hard at Bongondza – but we have no written record. Sometimes it is what is left unsaid that provides the poignancy to this period of time – Ione has not dwelt on the death of her baby, the Walby baby, or Lollipop. All Ione’s energies are focussed on her new pregnancy and hope for a better outcome next year.
Just how testing the year has been for Ione is evident from her diary entry for the New Year, where Ione takes stock of her feelings and her situation.