Raising a Family on the Mission Field (1947-1948)
The year starts with a pensive Ione at Bongondza and an extract from her diary dated 9th January, 1947:
What a long time it has taken me to realize that I have been slipping back in my relationship with the Lord! As one grows older there is that inclination to rest on the blessings of the past, to recall how the Lord has used us before, to be satisfied having a prayer-list folded between one’s hands, thinking you are remembering everyone faithfully. Then comes the sudden realization that the wonderful pressure of His Spirit’s urge is gone, and working, witnessing, reading and praying has become too mechanical.
I am not sure just what did it this morning, or whether it was last night when I found that I had done poorly on my French exam. When Hector left in the car I was on the wrong side of him and missed the last tender glance and the press of his hand. And it left me empty and realizing that without Christ I am nothing. And altho’ I have known all along that I am not without Him, yet I have not partaken of His best things for me. I’ve been satisfied to accept Hector’s comforts and compliments and to believe that everything was all right between me and the Lord. But I know there has been a gap, ever-widening, until today when I was forced to admit everything.
I made my mistake by not getting away where I could talk aloud in prayer, for constant whispering soon becomes merely thoughts, and how thoughts do wander and sometimes one falls asleep entirely.
My prayer-list was not formed prayer-fully enough, had no suggested Scriptures or means of inspiration and checking from time to time on one’s spiritual warmth.
I did not write down the precious verses as they came to me.
I did not keep an account of those dealt with and those who accepted the Lord that I might pray intelligently for them.
I have not visited the natives enough.
I have not spent time enough in prayer over messages.
I have not learned to control the desires of the flesh.
I have not found that victory in ALL things is thru Christ.
I have neglected some of the fundamental things necessary to a practical Christian living.
AND I HAVE BEEN EXPECTING GOD TO BLESS ME!!
When I returned from seeing Hector off I turned to II Thess. 2:13-17 and found real help. It is wonderful to know that even tho’ I have failed so miserably in this first year of our married life, still I was chosen by Him (vs.13) to salvation thru sanctification of the Spirit. (Ione has perceived the loss of the baby as her fault and interpreted this as a failure in marriage. It hints at the sadness within her that she has not addressed verbally to anyone else. By reading Hector’s letters, we know she has not failed so miserably in her marriage but has had a very testing and traumatic year.) I was called, too (vs.14) but it was not for my own gratification or satisfaction but for HIS GLORY. But I have not STOOD FAST (vs.15) nor have I held to that which I have been taught. But I slipped gradually into a rut and my mind as well as my spirit became dulled. Hence the poorly done French and the lack of passion for or ability to win souls. “Standing fast….by word” means you have to say something. And I haven’t said half enough to Him and to others about the wonderful Saviour I have. I was taught “by word…and by epistle”. I can’t expect to see results in the lives of others except I do the same. And then to think that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, our God, our Father, is the One who loves ME, even now in my useless condition, and has given ME EVERLASTING CONSOLATION, (and He has!) and good hope thru grace. Yes, my heart IS comforted, but it could never be if I did not know that He will also STABLISH me. That’s what I have longed for many years. I KNOW that He will do it. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will DO it.”
I listed the different things that I thought would be put right when He stablishes me and I believe He will make possible the doing of them. He will need to give me physical strength to put first things first and make the effort to reach these people. For when I think of my body in its present condition I am inclined to take the easy way. And that is not good for me mentally or spiritually. I must learn to do and be His best in this my present circumstance with relation to every phase of my missionary life, as an Ambassador first, as a wife, as a girl-friend, as a ‘mother’ (to these people and to the school children) as a mother to the child I hope to have, as a teacher, as a leader, evangelist, student, as a housekeeper, as a church-visitor, counsellor, accountant, secretary, not forgetting that I am also a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, a sister-in-law and an auntie!! “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you that ye ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in ALL things may abound unto EVERY good work.”
WHAT AM I DOING AS A:
Correspondent. Don’t forget Mother, Doris, and frequent form letters.
Member of the Games Committee. Finish the report and mimeograph copies.
Student of French. Daily reading from Bible and some other book.
Libua, Lessons from Vee while she is here.
Music teacher. Make a Modulator, help Mary. Easter music for Choir, Corrections in hymnbooks. Complete hymnal organ copy.
Visit villages each day at 4 when there is no French, or before then.
Child Evangelism Director. Letter to French Dept., other stations. Children’s classes nearby. In school. Flannel graphs. Check on new idea for board.
Helper to other missionaries. Vee Sewing? Mary & Frances breakfast set, umbrella. Ma Kinso, garden, Kindergarten (?)
Wife. Hector’ mending, keep the house more orderly. Insist on the best from the boys. Be easy to talk things over with.
Mother. Baby dresses, bed, etc.
Housewife. Keep storeroom better. Flower house arrangement. Basement. Sewing cupboard.
Accountant. Get the Work Fund up-to-date and audited.
Secretary. Keep record of diary, meetings, souls dealt with, won.
“Mother” to nature. Talk more to them about their lives & how to improve them.
Already I can see the Lord working in my behalf, showing me what I CAN do, in spite of my having to be careful physically just now. Verna has come telling me that she will study Libua with me and that we can have a daily lesson while Viola is here. Praise the Lord.
Ione is not afraid to set herself a tough agenda
January 17, 1947 (Excerpts of a letter from Evie to Ione at Bongondza)
Was I delighted to hear from you again. However, inasmuch as you made no mention of a package I assume you hadn’t gotten it yet, and so I’m wondering and naturally hoping that you did get it O.K. soon thereafter. I sent a little box to you in September and you surely should have gotten it by December. Anyway, that is the way I figured. I had acquired another quantity of small pencils but forgot to include them in the box. There were miscellaneous articles, the most important, film for your movie camera.
So here you are again expectin’ a baby. Well you certainly are bent on having yourself a family in a hurry. Two attempts in one year – that is something. Sincerely hope everything goes all right for this one and that by now you are feeling O.K. again, at least past that stage of nausea, and gaining some weight. Take good care of yourself now. If anything should happen this time, maybe it just means that God has other plans for you, besides that of having a family. Anyway, we hope for the best.
I hope this finds you and your husband well and happy and may this new year of 1947 prove to be a most blessed and profitable one for you and yours.
Thanks again for your letter and write when you can. Love – yours, Evie
Evie knows Ione well enough to counsel her, her concern for her friend is deeply evident.
January 25, 1947 (A letter from Ione at Bongondza to her mother)
This is a birthday letter, tho’ it will arrive a little late. I want you to know that I shall be thinking of you and praying for you on your birthday. I am praying that the Lord will guide you with the A “skilfulness of His hands” in all your plans for this coming year. He has not failed in the past, as you so nicely put in your Dec. letter. The little mat which I shall try to enclose is a wee birthday present. It is native-done with that pretty soft raffia which grows out here.
There is so much to say I hardly know where to begin. I am so glad that Lucille could go to Stockbridge for the baby. As yet I have not heard a word about the baby but perhaps it will come this week. I do hope that everything has gone all right this time. I am just about half-way now and am feeling fine for the first time in months. It is thrilling to keep out-growing my dresses, and it is good to have larger ones to put on. I think it would be a pity to be both misshapen and poorly dressed. I am, gaining in weight (120 now) but all in ONE SPOT! Hector calls me fatty. He is ever so thrilled that I have gotten along this far. Next week I should be able to feel the baby’s movements. We have talked a great deal about plans to see a doctor, as I have not seen one as yet. I wanted very much to see a certain doctor in the A.I.M. but the distance is quite formidable, but now it seems that the Lord is making possible a journey to that district. Hector and I have been asked to attend as delegates a convention held at Rethy and if we go (next week) we could find him and have an examination and maybe make some arrangements for the delivery in June. About the best way to go at that time (on account of saving in time and rough travel) would be by air. But I am not sure yet how I would get there from Irumu, the last Air Port. That is why I want to see the doctor now. At the present time there is no reduction in prices to missionaries on the Courier (bus) so Air is very little more. But we shall have to pray hard for the needed funds for such an adventure!
I am so glad Marcellyn has been having such a good time in meetings and preparations for coming to Congo. I suppose she is in Philadelphia right now. We have not received the Christmas box as yet, but I suppose it will be coming along soon. I am glad you have sent the pillow cases and the canned turkey will be a real treat!
We had a nice time here at Christmas. We decided to celebrate with the natives on Christmas Day itself and postpone the white people’s get-together until New Year’s Day, for it is difficult to do it all in one day. But unknown to each other, everyone had prepared little presents, thinking to send them over some time during the day and the night before Christmas we were all to gather for a station meeting. Well, Hector and I got the inspiration to bring our presents (we had prepared and filled little red-checked gingham stockings for all) at that time and Hector dressed up like Santa and came barging in with Martha Johnson’s riding breeches on (remember when she gave them to me?) and opened his sack in the centre of the floor. Then quickly the others slipped out and got their presents and we had a lovely evening laughing and nibbling on fudge, cookies, popcorn and nuts that were in the socks. Then on Christmas Day the native boys and girls went around early carolling at our windows and at 7 everyone gathered for a prayer meeting. Then at 10 we had the program; I had charge of the boys’ play, “Why the Chimes Rang” and Hector had fixed up the automatic bell in the belfry which would ring without anyone touching it and it rang when two little boys accepted Christ. Perhaps you remember the story.
In the afternoon the natives feasted and there was a ball game and in the evening Mr Jenkinson and Hector showed slides on the life of Joseph and Daniel. We were happy to have the Kerrigan’s with us at that time. Mrs Kerrigan was recuperating from an illness which all but took her life while she was trekking in the forest. The Lord performed a real miracle in sparing her, for usually Black Water Fever is fatal, and she had begun to pass blackened urine, which is a sign of that. They have a wonderful story to tell of how she came those 24 kilometres out of the forest; her husband was with her and he was so exhausted that he could scarcely walk further. Mr Carter and Mr Burk had cycled in to help to get her and finally Mr Walby, who took some butter and soup-concentrate which was a real help to Mrs Kerrigan. They carried her on a stretcher and finally came to the main road, but it was almost impassable and they had to go over a bridge that was covered with water. Mr Jenkinson went to get Mr & Mrs Kerrigan at their station with his car and he bro’t them here. Now they have heard that they can go to England for their much-needed furlough and they are packing for the boat.
It was strange that just at the time that we received the message that Mrs Kerrigan was so ill and Kinso had left to get her, we also heard that Viola Walker was very ill where she was trekking. She, too, needs a furlough. You remember she came out with us in ’41. She has severe chills and was in a critical condition and needed to be come for in the car. I tell you we prayed that Kinso would come back soon with the car so that we could get Viola! She now is better, too, but hopes to go home soon. Then came the message that our best evangelist had had a relapse of an old illness which had kept him in bed for weeks and weeks while Doctor was here. Doctor had operated on him for TB of the spine. Now he is back on the station but is not at all well. The incision has opened and is draining pus which causes much pain. Pray for Tasembo, as well as for Viola and Mrs Kerrigan. How we praise the Lord that they are all three alive.
We had expected two couples to spend New Year’s season with us, but only one came and that only last week. The Walby’s are a lovely English couple and will take over the Maganga station when Kerrigan’s go home. They have not been out two years yet. The wife’s name is Eileen but is called Topsy because her maiden name was Turvey (as in Topsy Turvey – an English saying which commonly denotes ‘all of an upheaval’). She is lots of fun and a real help and inspiration. And Alfred, big, slow, good-natured is a nice companion for Hector (I am not sure that this quite sums up my father, who always thought before he spoke; unlike my effervescent mother, who could always come back with a quip!). They were very tired (no doubt in part due to the traumatic loss of their first baby) and we hope they have rested some here. We have had lots of good things to eat, roast pork, antelope, chicken and tins of meat, and today I made doughnuts which Mr Walby liked very much. We serve them tea the first thing in the morning, Mrs Walby has milk at 10 and tea at noon, tea at 4 as well as in the evening. We are pretty well tea-ed by now! (One American missionary told Topsy it was possible to drink water without first boiling it and pouring it over tea leaves! To which she retorted that she had good manners and drank it without ditching it into the sea – a snide reference to the historical Boston Tea Party!.) But I enjoy it. Topsy cut out a maternity dress for me this morning. They will leave next week and we will drive them back on our way to Rethy.
I presume by now you have received the money I told Marion Hutchison to send. There should have been $40 beside the amount you usually receive. This I had hoped could be applied on the Huntoon bill, but since I did not write you to that effect before, it may be that you have used it for something else. If so, I will try to send some more when we have another such gift. How I wish that I could help you more. Hector received two special gifts this Christmas and we have used them to order a refrigerator, an ‘Iceball’, which was advertised for $45. I hope it will be a good one. It will be nice to have when the baby comes.
Hector continues to be well and weighs about 164 pounds. He has filled out a little but never gets too fat. He is rather tired and I think the little trip to Rethy will be a rest to him. He may have full charge of the station if Mr Jenkinson is called to the Sudan to spend some time getting his ordination. Now the staff at Bongondza is nine, but soon Mary Baker and Frances Longley will go to Ekoko. Frances is an experienced missionary from Canada and very capable and a good manager. Mary is a southern girl with a warm heart and abounding energy. She has been out nearly a year. She is in her early thirties, a graduate of Moody, after Marcellyn, I think. I learned to love Mary very much while working with her in the boys’ school. She is a skilled accountant and will have charge of the books at Ekoko. There is much to be done in buildings at Ekoko, as none are permanent buildings. It is hoped that Hector can spend some time there to supervise some needed projects. The girls will live in Ludwig’s house. It has a good cement floor but the walls are rammed earth and the white ants have come into one room rather badly, making a huge pile of clay there. It is a large station marked out by paths and lemon grass. The schools and church are rammed earth as well, with leaf roofs.
We saw an interesting thing a short while ago. A praying mantis attacked and killed a small bird (perhaps a finch or waxbill). You know what the mantis is, a chunky insect with a disjointed head which can turn all around and looks at you with beady eyes. And it holds its front feet up as tho’ it were praying. Those front feet are very powerful and that is how it captured the little green and red bird. When I saw it the mantis was hanging on a bush up-side-down suspended by its hind legs and holding the bird by the shoulders with its front legs, chewing around the bird’s neck; then as I looked closer it appeared to be sucking the blood from the bird. The natives say that it is very strange for an insect like that to attack a bird.
Now I must close. I do love you ever so much, Mother, both of us do. We’d like to give you a big hug right now! Please write real soon. I trust this will be your happiest Birthday yet. Love, Ione and Hector XX
About three weeks later, on the 19th February, another letter writing day for Ione, one that is meant for supporters and friends and is the usual mix of ‘thank you’s’ and description of her life.
Dear Friends and Loved Ones;
Two more gifts of $50 have arrived, one Dec. 11th and one this week, for which I thank you very much. I believe this brings your total up to $300 for 1946, or an average of $25 per month. That is splendid and I congratulate you. It is these gifts that keep going the car, the shop and the hospital.
The Chief’s baby that I spoke of in my Oct. letter died in my arms. It had a venereal disease. That is the third baby that I have lost this year, besides my own. But we are not discouraged, for two have lived of the Africans and we expect one of our own in June! One sees much of death and sickness, but you just keep trying and then by and by you have some real trophies to present to the Lord. Milk has been so expensive and difficult to get (Klim – a brand of dried milk) that I have welcomed a new recipe for making peanut milk. Now as soon as the peanuts come in season again we shall be able to feed orphans and sickly babies with a minimum of cost.
Flicker, the little tame antelope has long since been weaned and is content to nip off the tender juicy bits of clover in the lawn about the house. His horns are coming out now, and he is having a grand time chasing all of the bad African boys who teased him when he was younger. It is strange that he does not attempt to butt any of us white people or the native boy who fed him milk with a syringe! He is not over 18 inches tall, and I guess that’s as large as he will grow since he is a dwarf variety.
Hector has equipped a radio left here by Mr Kerrigan when he went on furlough, so now we have news every day. It makes us feel as tho’ we’re more connected with the outside world. However, we are glad that we are so sheltered from the strikes and shortages in other parts. The Lord is very good to give us everything we need.
Hector and I were able to represent our mission at the big A.I.M. Conference at Rethy in the mountains last two weeks. It was a journey of nearly a week, but it was worth it. We were really cold and our appetites were whipped up and we ate ever so much of the good things there, roast beef, pork, fresh milk, fresh vegetables, watermelon one day, and peaches. We were able to bring back a load of vegetables, smoked meat and honey, so we are feasting here, now, too.
Things do not grow well in the forest, and there are no cattle (presumably resulting in a loss of manure to fertilise the growth of plants other than forest vegetation). The Conference was attended by over 100 and we were thrilled to be a part of it. We heard messages from Mr Guilding who was on the Zam-Zam and was imprisoned in Germany for 4 years. (The Zam-Zam was a British ship that was sold to Egypt, a neutral country during World War 2. It was carrying cargo and passengers to England out of South Africa and at night time, was sailing without lights, pretty much as Ione’s first Trip to Africa. The ship was hit by Atlantis, a German cargo ship that was camouflaged to look like a British ship on the 17th April 1941. The Atlantis, drew alongside the Zam Zam, took passengers and crew aboard from the life rafts. It hit the Zam Zam several times and the ship sunk without loss of life, but much richer as it claimed all Zam-Zam’s cargo – 550 bottles of whiskey and 2 ½ million Chesterfield Cigarettes.) We slept in a room provided by Mr & Mrs Uhlinger of the White Children’s Academy in the same house with the Roy Brills of Zam-Zam and the Williams of A.I.M. On the way we saw many pygmies (a dwarfish tribe living in the Central African region, where the men and women are shorter than 4’11’’) and some chimpanzees and baboons dashed into the forest ahead of the car. We met a hunter who is searching for Okapis’, a peculiar animal somewhat similar to a giraffe (it has a reddish-brown coat on its body and stripy legs like a zebra, a herbivore of Central Africa that is now an endangered species), these are very valuable to the U.S. gov’t.
Yesterday in the middle of a children’s meeting at Wameka’s village, I heard the headman shout and every child in the service disappeared into the forest. It seems that a chimpanzee needed chasing. It reminded me of the time when our old Sunshine Trio was holding a revival in the fire hall in Asheville, N.C. and the alarm went off and all of our audience slid down the pole to the first floor and went off in the fire engines!
About two years more and we hope to see you all. Until then keep praying and we will try do our part out here. Praise the Lord with us that our wood and water boy accepted Christ a few weeks ago. Today he attended the Baptism Class for the first time. Pray for the boy who does our washings; his name is Gregory. Lovingly in His Name, Ione Reed McMillan (Mrs Hector McMillan – obviously Ione is now establishing links to Hector’s supporters as well as writing to her own.)
The next letter is to her sister, mother ‘and all’:
The Christmas card arrived Dec. 11th with the pictures of the children. We were surely thrilled to have them. Hector is going to make a wainscoting around the office and fix a place for our most precious snapshots and photos. Ruthie’s letter came, too, but I will answer hers personally. Then came a letter from Mother written Jan. 13th and two weeks later the one of the 30th. Then in this week’s mail we received the guitar strings Maurice sent. We were both able to sing with the guitar last Sunday night in our white people’s church. Hector and I sang, “God Leads His Dear Children Along” and a visitor, Bill Dawn, former classmate of Hector’s put in a third part.
We are happy that Lucille and Maurice have another boy. It makes an ideal family. I was glad to have all of the details. Sorry Lucille had a difficult time, but I’m sure she feels he is worth it. Just think he’ll be two years old when we see him. Maybe he’ll be a pal to our little girl or boy! I can hardly wait now for ours. Everything is coming along all right this time. And I have decided to go to the American doctor at Oicha. I can fly from Stanleyville to Irumu and hope to make connections with the doctor when he passes thru there on his monthly rounds. I will probably go the first of June. The baby should come June 24th, tho’ our mission nurse thinks I am a month ahead of that, or perhaps it is twins! I have felt movements for a couple weeks. I am feeling fine now and hope to do much more between now and that time.
I am glad, Mother that the check for $40 came in time for your birthday. I am glad that you got those things for I am sure that you needed them. I will hope for another extra amount so that we can help you to get more and to pay all of Huntoon’s bill.
I am anxious to hear about Herb Noe’s meetings. If he is still there, give him our greetings. We have had several letters recently from Marcellyn. We heard from someone who had heard from Pearl Hiles that once one gets into Belgium it is very difficult to get out again, so I trust Marcellyn is able to make the proper arrangements before she leaves the States. We must pray much about that matter. Also for Pearl, for that is a very difficult course. Many others have failed.
Now I must close. This is brief, but to let you know we are well and very happy. Hector is working on the moving picture camera tonight, as yesterday we received 100 feet of movie film from Evelyn Ankarberg and want to use it before it deteriorates. She also sent some toilet articles and hankies, bless her heart.
May the Lord richly bless and use you all. Lovingly, Ione XXXXXXX
Lastly, there is a letter to the Doctor she has been referring to:
Dear Dr. Becker:
While we were at the Conference we talked to Dr. Klineschmidt about our expecting baby. He examined me and found everything to be allright so far as he could tell. June 24th is the assumed date. At the time we talked to Dr. K. we felt that via motor road we would be nearer to Aba. We had vaguely thought of the possibility of travelling by air to Irumu, and coming by car to you at Oicha, but dismissed it since we did not know how to get from Irumu to Oicha. But just the last day of the Conference I learned that Mrs Stam was expecting a baby at the same time and was making the journey to Oicha via Irumu. She said she hoped to come with you if one of your journeys to Rethy happens to be around the first of June. If this will be the case, could I not be waiting for you at Irumu and be carried on to Oicha?
We have learned that planes travel every Saturday, and if I were to take the one perhaps that leaves May 21st I might somehow make connections with you, or with Mr & Mrs Stam. This is depending, of course, upon the supposition that you could accommodate and care for my case at that time! I would be very happy to hear from you about this.
So far as I know, my last monthly period began Sept. 17th. We had lost our first baby in the 3rd month of pregnancy, so I have been especially careful with this one. Everything seems to have been going allright. I stopped being nauseated about a month ago. During the last two weeks I have felt movements. Dr. K. could not hear the heart-beat of the baby but on the way home Mrs Arton at Boyulu thought she heard it. I believe I have started the sixth month now.
I appreciated very much the help that Lois Uhlinger gave me while we were stopping together at Nyankunde. She treated me for a rash I had, and also for dysentery. Both are finished now.
Greetings to Mrs Becker and the other friends there.
Sincerely in Christ, Mrs Hector McMillan
Two days later and Ione writes to Hectors family (21st February 1947):
Dear Dad, Archie, Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Alex,
I am making this a joint letter because in this week’s mail came a letter from Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Alex and a notice that Archie is sending Reader’s Digest. So, being married to a Scotsman, I thought this would save a stamp!!
We are glad you are all well and hope you continue to be so. Hector doesn’t weigh as much as Archie, but he is not far behind. He has gained some since being married, but I don’t think he has come up yet to his weight while in the Airforce. Not enough nut bars here I guess! But we have had some mighty fine food lately while we were in the mountains.
We were chosen to represent our mission at the African Inland Mission Conference at Rethy, about 750 miles from here. It took us nearly a week going and the same coming back, and we stayed there a little over a week. It was a grand time of fellowship with 69 other missionaries of A.I.M., 7 visitors, 36 children. The messages were inspirational, especially those of old Mr Guilding who was on the Zam-Zam when it sunk and spent 4 years in prison in Germany. They travelled about 1000 miles to be there for they are from Kenya Colony. We were fed with fresh peas and carrots, beef and pork and even watermelon one day. We bro’t back some of the vegetables and smoked ham and bacon to share them on three of our own stations. We are still feasting here, but the carrots have to be eaten quickly for they mould so soon.
This past week-end we entertained a classmate of Hector’s, Bill Dawn, who is driving a Mrs Moules all thru the continent to Dakar on the northwest coast. Mrs Moules is establishing new centres to treat leprosy. They are with the W.E.C. (World Evangelical Crusade Mission; the mission that UFM evolved from)
Yes, I remember Aunt Mary very well. She surely is spry to get around so well and do her own work. Will you give her our greetings when you see her? I am sorry that Aunt Sarah has asthma. It is difficult to get rid of and causes real discomfort.
How true it is that “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” The Lord has surely honoured the faith of Hector’s mother. I trust that I will never hinder Hector from being that which the Lord wants him to be. We are praying that the Lord will give us a child who will grow up to please Him. Perhaps you knew that we were expecting a baby in June. It is about 750 miles to the nearest American doctor and we hope to make this journey by two stretches of car travel and one longer trip by plane. We think it would be worth the cost for the roads are so bad and the car not good, and the plane doesn’t really cost any more than the bus which we would have to hire if we didn’t have the car. We trust that you will be praying especially for us at that time.
The next big thing on our program is to welcome a new missionary next week, Olive Bjerkseth, from western Canada. Then we will say goodbye to two single ladies who are going to Ekoko another of our mission stations. Following that Chester Burk will bring the big truck from Boyulu and he and Hector will haul rocks for the foundation of our new boys’ school building. The school boys and girls will all be back next week and then we’ll have plenty of noise and work to do. Pray that many of them will find Christ as their personal Saviour. Lovingly in Him, Ione
On the 26th February, Ione writes to her sister Marcellyn with news and advice for her forthcoming trip:
Dearest little Sister,
We have surely neglected you of late and I am truly sorry. This morning Mr Jenkinson is driving to Stanleyville and I will get a letter off with him, hoping that it will reach you in time. We just had another form letter last nite, and you expected to be going very soon, but as you had not yet your visa (and that sometimes takes longer that one expects) I’ll take a chance that you are still in the States.
Did you get your French-English Phonetic Dictionary that you were telling me about? You should have some sort of dictionary and also a little pocket book for one to have handy when you are shopping, etc. Your prayer cards are lovely, and I am sure you have been ever so glad you had them done that way. The picture is very good of you. We have the big one up in the office, waiting for the real thing! We showed the card to everyone here and they agreed that it was very nice.
I am glad you have met Olive Bjerkseth. She is to arrive today when Kinso returns (or tomorrow). We’ll be glad to see her, and I will feel almost as tho’ I had seen you when she so recently has been with you.
I’m sorry we have been of such little assistance in your getting ready. Yes, you will need a camp cot, and if possible a small roll-away bed as well, altho’ if you have the mattress, a bed could be made. Innerspring mattresses are not so good here for they rust inside and you can’t paint them. While you are here, you might live with Miss Bjerkseth, and when you go to Ekoko you will probably have a rammed earth house until some can be made of cement blocks. Miss Bjerkseth will live in the same house that Pearl and I lived in last term. There is some furniture already there, a bookcase, dresser, etc. If you should have the funds to bring a small wood-burning cook stove you would be glad of it. The one in Miss B’s house is not good anymore, and I’m sure you would need it at Ekoko. Your portable oven will be good for trek. Try to get a charcoal iron, as gasoline is so dangerous and you could not trust the boys to use it. You may be able to get one after you arrive in the Congo. Rain boots or rubbers are fine if you have them, but don’t buy anything special. Make sure you have rubber to fit your walking shoes. You’ll be glad you have the treadle sewing machine, and so will the other girls at Ekoko for they have none. Yes, you need a good-sized bed sack and ground sheet; also camp chair and table and dishes. About the garment bag that you are sending – we are not sure yet how plastic does here. Surely plastic dishes and accessories which need washing in boiling water do not do at all, for the water spoils them, but things that don’t need hot water probably will keep. We’ll be very glad to have a garment bag, and I don’t think the bugs will penetrate it; we shall see!
We have all of your form letters together from Nov. to Feb., and they are done beautifully and most interestingly. How wonderful it is that nothing of your boxes were destroyed by that fire, even tho’ the building was so badly damaged. The Lord knows how you will need those things in the future. Be sure you do not send anything to the Congo in cardboard boxes, tho’, they will never arrive! Why do you stress that folk designate their gifts Personal always? Could it not be that they would like to choose to give to the Work or to the General Fund? I know you are especially thinking of the things necessary to pay before you can leave, but it does seem to limit the Lord. Wouldn’t it be better just to leave the address and not suggest gifts at all? Hector and I tho’t folk might be disgusted at being reminded of this. The Lord has been wonderfully supplying your needs, and there were such huge amounts, it has been wonderfully good of Him to do it. And in such a short time! Truly miracles have been performed, and we do praise Him for it. It would be good now to stress the need of prayer for passing thru the difficult relationships involved in entering and leaving Belgium and in entering the Congo. I forgot to get my Carte d’Immatriculation renewed as soon as I entered Congo this time, and it caused trouble for the Agent who let me slip by. Tell the folk to pray for you in all of these necessary contacts with gov’t officials. Then in your first contacts with the Africans. So much depends on your first impressions. Your health is another item.
Now I must seal this, for Kinso is leaving now. Please forgive me for criticizing the emphasis of money. It is only big-sisterly and brotherly advice. And we do love you ever and ever so much. We can hardly wait to see you. I sometimes think Hector loves you more than he does me, the way he talks. You may be sure that we want to do everything we can to help you and we’ll go as far as we can to meet you, tho’ we don’t have a car of our own (yet) and Kinso’s is very old and cannot go much. But we’ll be there with bells on whenever you arrive!
If you can, will you give me Grandpa’s latest address. I tho’t I had it but his letter came back to me. Either he has left there or died, or I have the wrong address. Loving you very dearly, Ione
Marcellyn is finally on her way and Ione and Hector get the news from Ione’s mother in a letter written on 28th February 1947:
Dearest Ione and Hector:
Just a month ago today you were writing to me. My birthday letter from you. Thank you very much for the lovely embroidered mat. I surely treasure it.
These past weeks have surely been rushed and difficult. With Marcellyn’s shopping for equipment and packing and the strain of saying goodbye the night of the 14th. I am now hoping I can go east to see her sail.
I packed 8 large boxes, 1 steel trunk, 1 steel drum and 1 barrel of dishes besides 2 steel trunks & 1 fortnighter for Belgium.
She still needs some things but she may be able to get them later. Her boxes were taken to the freight depot a week ago today. Mr Montgomery helped Maurice; they used Sutberry’s trailer. Marcellyn had to be at U.F.M. in Philadelphia. on Feb. 15. She left here Fri. night Feb. 14. Herb Noe is here holding Evangelist Meetings and right after the service he drove us in his car to Detroit. The train left at 11:50. Maurice drove his car for his family. There were three other cars. Only Herb & Maurice made it in time. Herb got us there in time for Marcellyn to get her ticket, then Lucille and her family rushed through the door just in time. We tried to sing but none of us could get past the first verse of “God Will Take Care of You.” Herb is thinking of Bongondza so pray for him and please Hector write to him and encourage him. He said today he had intended to write to Hector for a year and a half, and would write soon.
Lucille took the baby too so he bid his auntie Marcellyn goodbye, too.
Baby Jimmy is just darling, adorable, and super-wonderful!!! He looks a little like Lucille did when she was a baby only he has large dimples in his cheeks. He just has to move his mouth a little and they drop in. He is lying here on the dining room table goo-ing & laughing. He is seven weeks old but acts 3 months old. He loves for anyone to play with him and he has such cute boyish expressions on his face.
Lucille is fine, but of course has a lot of work to do. She nurses the baby and eats about (ants have eaten letter) day.
Now that Marcellyn has gone I am looking to the Lord to direct me to His appointed place. I gave up the work here at Valley Farms the Sunday of the 26th of Jan. Marcellyn and I left that Sun. afternoon on the train for Pontiac. Frank Van Husen met us at the train and took us to their house on Preston where Helen had a nice supper waiting. (Helen is expecting in August)
The ladies of Valley Farms church gave me a birthday gift of $12.00 to buy a bath robe with. I found one for $10.00. I helped Marcellyn in meetings out around Pontiac. She had one meeting at Dr. Notage’s church in Detroit (coloured churches at that time and in that area were segregated). Marcellyn had made an appointment for me to get a permanent (hair wave) on my birthday. That was her present to me. Lucille gave me $5.00 and Marcellyn bought me a corsage and she & I sang in the large chorus choir at the tabernacle that night after a nice steak dinner at the “Ichabod”. So I had a very nice birthday.
Esther is as big as Marcellyn and looks & acts more like Doris. She is my bed fellow now that Marcellyn is gone.
Marcellyn & I stayed a couple of nights at Inez (Ione’s supporter and friend). She found the hat you wanted and she gave Marcellyn a lot of things. She also gave her a check for $25.00.
A city-wide Evangelistic campaign was in progress while we were in Pontiac and Marcellyn and I got to go several times. We sang in the choir most of the times we were there under the leadership of Straton Shufelt. Jack Shuler was the Evangelist.
The Lord has been working here in Herb’s meetings. Marguerite Kinney’s brother was saved last Sunday night and one night six went forward and there have been restorations.
Marguerite has bought you a couple of books to read. Neither one is Spiritual but “The Guerrilla Wife” is written by a worldly woman who fellowshipped with the eleven missionaries who were martyred during the war by the Japs. The book is a true account of their experiences escaping from the Japs. The other book comically reveals facts about a family. I want to put some other little things in the box with the books so will send it as soon as possible. In the box I have put some copies of your bill of lading so you can check and see if you have lost anything from the baggage boxes.
I haven’t had a letter from Doris since last October. I had a card at Christmas time with their pictures on and a five-dollar bill enclosed. I get very burdened about her.
Yesterday morning a verse of Scripture startled me during my devotions. It was in Numbers 11:23 – “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether My Word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” Then when the mail came there was a letter from Tom Presnell. It was for everyone and he said he would be coming over in three of four weeks or words to that effect. I don’t know if that means anything or not. He is on his way east from Washington State where he had a successful Evangelist Campaign. I have been about ready to go back into secular work. I can’t stay here for I can’t be a burden on Lucille & her family. I was really needed before, but I am not needed now and this is Maurice’s field and I don’t want to butt in on his work. I am getting my belongings into compactness for leaving.
I spoke at a mission circle in Okemos last Thurs. I talked on Africa and they gave me an offering of $20.00 for Marcellyn. I have sent it to her at the U.F.M. I love to do deputation work and feel well acquainted with the subject of missions because of you & Marcellyn and contact with others. I have a wonderful flannel graph story, too, for children called, “Bambi and the Witch”. It is a true story told by missionaries. Somehow I feel the Lord might have led me to stay here this past year in order to learn something about church matters in preparation for a minister’s wife’s job. (Maybe???) I sure have been learning many things not to do and what to do about some things.
How are you managing about larger dresses? I am glad you are feeling better. Love to you both. You both are so very precious to me. Lovingly, Mother
On the first of March 1947, Hector writes to one of his supporting churches, Houston Street Baptist Church, he tells the story of the trip to the AIM conference but from a male perspective:
Dear Friends in the Lord:
My wife and I were privileged to represent our mission at a conference of the A.I.M. It was a long trip over rough roads, and I really felt sorry for the car. It took us about four days to get there but the week of fellowship was worth it all. We took a native lad along with us and he enjoyed seeing all the different scenery. When we finally got out of this huge Ituri forest on the third day, it was grand to be able to see far off hills in the grasslands. Peter, the native lad, had never seen or heard a turkey before so at one stopping place he came and asked us, “What is that chicken that talks big?” These people have such a unique way of saying things.
Last week I had my first attack of malaria fever. It wasn’t very severe but it leaves one weak for a few days. But I must say that I do thank the Lord for the better-than-usual health I have enjoyed since coming to Congo.
I would be glad if you would remember us the next few months. We are expecting a little one in June and it will mean a trip to a Doctor who is about 650 miles away, partly by car and the rest by plane.
We want to thank you for your continued financial support.
Trusting you are each one enjoying the Lord’ richest blessing,
Yours in Christ, Hector McMillan
On March 8th, 1947, Ione writes to Hector’s sister Jean from Bongondza:
Dear sister Jean,
What a lovely surprise to receive in the mail your gift! It was so much fun unwrapping it and to find something so practical and needed was a real joy. I tho’t I would have to make my dresses last five long years and here I have now a brand-new blouse to wear with my blue striped skirt! Thank you very, very much. It was so thoughtful of you to send this to me, and you DID remember just the right size. The card with the gift is lovely and appropriate, too. Hector could enjoy THAT if he could not wear the blouse. But he can LOOK AT the blouse, can’t he?
I don’t believe we have acknowledged your letter written Nov. 11th. We did appreciate it very much. I never cease to thank the Lord that I have married Hector and that I belong to such a nice family. It is so good to have a sister like you; I only regret that we cannot be together sometimes. We surely must make up for lost time when we come home on furlough. I hope then that you can be with us frequently.
Tell us more of your work and the experiences that you have when you visit the many homes. And about the places where you stay; do you have much fellowship with other young people your age?
According to Dad’s letter of Feb, 14, they have been having much snow. We were sorry Aunt Marjorie has not been so very well. Irene was going to spend the weekend with them while Barbara stayed with her Dad.
Hector had his first real attack of malaria two weeks ago. We had been up in the mountains at a large missionary conference with the African Inland Mission. The weather was very cold there and Hector wore his wool suit nearly the entire time. Then when we drove back down it got hotter and hotter and I think the change so sudden must have had something to do with his illness. He felt very tired and sleepy for several days, ached all over, then his temperature started rising. Lots of quinine and aspirin kept him from having a very high temp., but when he cooled off it was hard to bring him up to normal again. He lost his appetite, and even now he doesn’t enjoy his food as well as he might. I brought some powdered iron from the hospital and he has been trying to build up his blood count with that. Malaria always leaves one a bit anaemic. He is behaving quite normally now, as full of mischief as ever and working full time. But we do hope he will not have another attack very soon.
I have been feeling better than I have felt for months. I was thankful when the nausea stopped, for it had lasted four months. Even now I have to be rather careful with dizzy and faint spells, but it is good to be able to have ambition to do things. I am teaching music and handwork in the boys’ school and speaking in their devotional meetings twice a week. I have five Child Evangelism Classes of pre-school children which I try to visit once a week. Then I have the church choir. I am enclosing a picture of that group. Perhaps your pastor would be interested to compare this group with his choir! Recently they sang in four-parts the negro spiritual, “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian in my Heart.” My work will be halted on June 1st when Hector and I expect to fly to Irumu and beyond to spend a month or two at the A.I.M. Hospital. We do trust that the Lord will bless us with a baby.
Please write us again soon. And thanks again for the grand Christmas gift. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Whilst post war life is different for Hector, his RACF friend, Doug Brock, gives us some insight as to what life is like back in Canada and might have been for Hector but for so many other reasons. This letter was written on 16th March 1947:
It’s been so long since I have written to you that I’m ashamed to start. But with your forgiving nature I know you will still call me your friend. Gosh, how I would like to see you again. How nice it would be to sit down again with you and talk & argue & discuss problems as we used to do. But since we can’t I will bring you up to date on all my doings.
When I came home from the Airforce I immediately went back to my old firm for employment. They had a job waiting for me making liver oil as I did before the war. This time the job was up north on the Queen Charlotte Islands. It was like being posted to Cape Bould. I went up in April & returned in Sept. There was no manager, just myself as foreman & a bookkeeper & about 15 workmen – (mostly varsity boys working their way thru school). Jean & the bookkeeper’s wife were the only two women with the exception of a couple of fishermen’s wives who were there for a short time. I really enjoyed being on my own again though sometimes the responsibility got me down after the spoon feeding in the Airforce. You would have enjoyed it – a complete machine shop – 50 HP Diesel – generators, boats, etc.
When I came back to Vancouver in the fall, I was sent out to our biggest plant, Imperial Cannery – about 15 miles out of town on the bank of the Fraser River. I worked for 3 mos. as assistant to the plant chemist on control work. That means keeping check on the quality of goods canned. At the time we were canning 8000 cans of herring per day & at 48 cans per case that’s a lot of fish. The plant in full swing employs 1100 people, most of them girls.
Later on I was made foreman of clam canning & then recently moved to a new dept. “special products”. We are still building this cannery & when we get started expect to put up 1000 cases per day of herring snacks, smoked anchovies, fish pastes, salmon loaf, etc. Hector, I don’t wish to give you any impression of my importance as I’m only a cog in an industrial wheel. This company once it gives you a little authority, gets behind with a whip & drives you until you drive the man under you all the way down the line. I often think of the easy days in the service. Now I’m up at 5:30 – 6 AM at work at 7-7:30 AM & its anywhere from 7-11 PM before I’m home again. I also work about every other Sunday. All this to earn sufficient money to keep up with the neighbours.
We’ve heard now further word about your offspring Hector so please tell us. (presumably news did not reach Doug about Ione and Hectors’ miscarriage or their current pregnancy). Jean is expecting any day now & I’ll let you know as soon as possible. We were living in a one room basement all winter but with a baby in view I bought a house. The price staggered me but I raised enough for a down payment & now live in fear of not holding my job long enough to pay for it. Any way we are comfortable & Jean has at last a home of her own.
I hear from Jack McKellar occasionally. He went into his father’s hotel business & works most of his time behind the bar. However, he says he never drinks on the job. Bill Butterfield works as a cartoonist on a Vancouver daily paper so I still am able to laugh at his humour.
I promise I won’t be long writing my next letter Hector. Please let me know if there is anything I can send you Hector to help you in Christ’s work. Do you need any tools etc? Remember our bargain now so please let me help. What about some canned fish? Could you use it?
Bye for now Hector. Jean sends her love to you both. We talk of you often & wish that we could see you again. Please give my regards to Ione. I’m so glad she is with you. Your ever pal, Doug
On the 20th March, Dr Becker replies to Ione’s letter and sets a provisional agenda:
We would make room for you if necessary. For a servant of our Lord would have first demand on any of our time and efforts. (And Dr Becker saw many missionary children safely into the world, he was the doctor who steered my own safe arrival, mother – Topsy – having lost her first baby in childbirth.)
Mrs Stam spoke to us about coming down to Oicha with us. Our regular monthly trip would come, the Lord willing, the last week in May. So that if you come to Irumu on the 31st we could without difficulty arrange to be coming back thru Irumu on that date.
With every good wish in our Lord to yourself and Mr McMillan. Sincerely yours in Him, C. Becker.
Keeping up with her correspondence is increasingly difficult for Ione so she resorts to writing one letter to several people and using carbon copies so each gets the same news. 0n the 29th March 1947and some of the family get special mentions:
Our very dearest at Home,
Just because we want you to have a letter now we are making some carbon copies and sending all at once. I have never known Hector as busy as he is just now. He is well and has entirely recovered his appetite after the week of malaria, but is really working too hard just at this time. Two friends from Boyulu, John Arton and Chester Burk, have been here for two weeks with the big mission truck and they have been hauling rocks to make a foundation for the new boys’ school; they have gotten much sand and lumber as well, and it is a real help to our work here. Next week after the men go, there will be 50 extra native workmen bro’t onto the station by the territorial agent and they will give a real lift in our work. We need bricks for the new school and shingles for roofs of a number of buildings. Today the white men are trying to finish putting a new box on the back of the truck. It is quite a job and it is very hot. This afternoon they consumed quantities of orangeade and tea. Beside all of the special jobs with the truck, Hector has charge of all station work, buying the food for the 130 school boys and 22 school girls, our own workmen and carpenters, the boys’ physical training classes daily, and the many little jobs that he ALWAYS finds time to do for his wife! He will be glad when Mr Jenkinson returns Monday or Tuesday and can take over responsibilities.
I have an interesting time finding a variety of “filling” foods for these three men, and we’ve had the territorial agent and the Cotonco (Cotton Company) agent here twice this week. The former of the two is a Protestant and seems to like to come here. They bro’t us a big fish today. When he left the last time he said we all seemed very happy. I think he likes the fellowship and we are praying that our fellowship may help him to want to know the Lord Jesus as his Saviour.
You would laugh at the substitutions we serve at the table. One day synthetic hamburgers made from bread and onions, today mashed potatoes made from manioc root boiled and beaten with milk; we had a pumpkin and one meal it was served as squash and the next in a pumpkin pie! Our applesauce is stewed maracouja (tropical passion fruit), our chilli sauce is pai-pai, tomato and onions, our jam is carambola (Star shaped sweet and sour fruit) and pai-pai (Paw Paw), our butter is peanut butter when we cannot get it from the Kivu Mountains. We fare very well, and very cheaply I think, compared to eating at home.
Esther, we received your Feb. 25 letter and were very glad to have it. The last word we had about Marcellyn was that she was to have sailed Mar. 17. But we have not heard that she actually went. We’re praying much for grace for you, Mother, for it must be hard to lose another daughter just at the time when you need her companionship and help most. May the Lord richly bless you for it. We do hope that Herb Noe will come out here; when you see him, tell him there is a native boy who sends his greetings especially to him; his name is Batiti. Will tell about him another time. Tell Herb to write us.
Irene, we enjoyed your Christmas card and letter; glad for your nice fur coat. You do need it in that cold climate. I don’t blame Kenneth for loving you, for you are the sister of someone whom I love very much!
Alice, we were thrilled with the pictures which came with your Dec. 4 letter. Thank you so much. Bobby is such a big boy now; I hope he hasn’t forgotten how to hug, though, when we come home in two years. I want a nice kiss from him, too. And some of Mary’s cookies! I hope Muriel’s Math. teacher had mercy on her when he marked her exam paper. Yes, we celebrated our 1st anniversary here. Mrs Jenkinson had a little supper party for us. We are very happy, especially so in looking forward to a little Hector in June. Tell Mrs Anderson if you see her again that we have just received her letter and hope to answer it soon.
Florence, your letter of Feb. 9th was received and eagerly read. The picture of Carol May is darling. I wish we could hold her! She’ll be a girlie of nearly three when we see her. I did appreciate the little word about your aspirations for your girls and about Hector when he was a little boy. You know I love to hear all I can! How is Douglas’ skin now?
And Eleanor, we did enjoy your letter of Nov. 14th. Did I ever tell you how happy and surprised I was with the Bible you sent for Hector to give me for Christmas? It was so kind of you to do that, and it is just the kind of Bible I have always wanted. Thank you so much. And the little baby nightie and pattern you sent have been very useful already. Miss Rutt cut off a pattern for herself and the girls at the girls’ school to make dresses like that, and now there are a number of little babies riding around on their mother’s hips or backs with wee nighties on just like that! I wish you could see them. One we tho’t was going to die and last week I started her on Klim and cod liver oil and glucose from the bottle and she has pepped up considerably. Her name is Priscilla and her daddy is in the evangelists’ school. She has four sisters and brothers who are being trained to love the Lord.
And Jean, you were sweet to send that pretty pink blouse. It is just right or was when it came, but since then I have put on some weight and I am now saving it to wear in July when I will be size 16 again! We were so happy to hear more about your work in your last letter. Please keep telling us all about what you are doing, for we are interested.
Doris, my little sister, I have not heard from you for many months and I’m wondering if you are still in Alaska or if you have been frozen out. Please do write soon, for we do not know anything about what you are doing now, or if you have recovered from your time in the hospital. I hope you have the same nice secret that I have and that you will have a baby someday soon. Just think, Pearl Hiles just MIGHT get here in time to be my nurse, for I have just learned this week that she has had orders to proceed from Belgium to Africa as soon as possible. And Marcellyn should be following not long after the baby comes. Hector and I are still hoping to fly to Irumu in June and go by car the rest of the way to the hospital at Oicha. (African Inland Mission). I have the nice flannel layette that the Loyal Philatheas made for me with blankets, quilts, etc. And the little woollen jackets that I bought when I was in Canada. And two native girls are making little petticoats, dresses, sheets and pillow cases by hand. This baby will not lack. And best of all, Hector has brought 4 springs and a strip of rubber tubing to make a baby carriage! You should have seen his face when he showed us these things recently when he returned from a trip to Buta! There is a nice wooden baby bed and mattress, and a dear little native-made basket which will soon be a bassinet for the baby’s journey. I have netting in pink and blue and white, so the baby can take his choice!
Sun. March 30
12 noon: We just finished a lovely Palm Sunday service and Machini, the head teacher gave a splendid message comparing the time when the Belgian King visited Congo to the time when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The King passed thru Buta 140 kilometres from here, and all the people did him great homage. They stood in the streets at attention from 6 in the morning until 2 P.M. and no one moved to even eat or rest. Then when the King finally came, there was great shouting. There were many noises in church today, a boy had an epileptic fit and several mothers carried their babies around, but I don’t think anyone missed the message for he spoke so clearly and forcefully and gave a splendid invitation to accept Christ. Hector had charge since Mr Jenkinson is away. They usually alternate Sundays. The choir sat in their places with their white robes on. They will sing by themselves next Sunday as it is Easter. We practiced them last night at our house and had a grand time. It is a great thing to get men and women together for anything, but they come to choir practice, about 20. We are working on Easter words to “Revive Us Again,” and “The Fairest of Ten Thousand” in Bangala. The schoolboys will do the “Benedictus” in French.
Enough about that. We want you to know that you are not forgotten tho’ you are far away. Thank you so much for your prayers and letters and interest. We shall be looking for more letters. Lovingly yours in Christ, Hector and Ione
April 9th, 1947, sees Ione writing to a supporter, Mrs McLaughlin in Arlington, VA, who also is a friend of the Westcott’s:
I received a happy surprise when I received your notice that you had sent $10.00. That was surely kind of you and I want to thank you very, very much. I was glad also to receive your address for I have been wanting to write to you.
This week I had such a sweet letter from Anne (Westcott) and I did appreciate it. I am sure I shall never forget those three years that we spent together. I do thank the Lord for leading me to Congo just when He did. We had some precious times together, tho’ often difficult. It seemed very strange at first coming to their house and finding it empty of children. I have missed them. Now we are hoping to have a baby of our own and the coming of a little one will fill the gap somewhat. I expect to use the little bed where Charlotte (Westcott) slept when I first came. I am thankful that Westcott’s left it.
I was sorry to have such a fleeting glimpse of you while I was in the States. Perhaps when we return two years from now we can stop at Arlington when we first arrive, before going to Michigan or Canada. I wanted to meet Jay and Janet as well, after hearing so much about them! Also Ellen’s mother, for we did have some good letters back and forth.
Do you enjoy the East as well as Michigan? I presume the climate is milder. I have been to Mt. Vernon and tho’t it would be a nice section of the country in which to live.
We have finished our hottest season and it did seem hotter this year than ever before. I have never known Westcott’s clover grass to turn quite so brown. I thought that it would die entirely, but now it is putting out new little sprouts. We are busy separating the lovely white lily plants Ellen put in. The ‘mother’ lilies have so many ‘babies’ around them and we are transplanting all the babies in other places. It is fun. I think there will be enough for a lovely border all the way to Doctor’s (workshop situated away from the main house) shop.
The shop is a noisy place, like when Doctor was there. Hector has two saws cutting at once with the motor Doctor left, and the men are shaping shingles that will make a pretty diamond pattern on the roofs of several new buildings. This evening while I am typing, Hector is preparing a diagram of a new desk for me, with a swivel chair and a place for the typewriter which pulls out of the desk. I should get many letters written when that is finished!
I am teaching music and handwork in the boys’ school and have the choir and child evangelism work and boys’ devotions twice a week. We have an advanced school here now, called Ecole Moyenne, tho’ it is only an effort to bring the boys up to gov’t standard. It has bro’t boys from two of our other stations and a station of the Brethren Mission.
Thanks again for the generous gift. May the Lord bless you. Ione
It is Hector’s turn to write, on 20th April, in a letter to the Hough’s in Toronto, he thanks them for their donation of $60, telling them how they plan to spend the money getting Ione to Doctor Becker for her confinement. He writes:
It will be a long trip – from here to Stanleyville by car; 160 miles – from Stan to Irumu by plane; 400 miles – then another car journey of 60 miles to Oicha (oo-oe-cha) a station of the African Inland Mission where there is an American doctor. It is quite different to going a few blocks to the Western Hospital on Bathurst St., just a few hours before the baby is expected. We will have to go about a month before the baby is expected. We will have to go about a month before hand and most anything can happen on the way. So we do trust that you will pray for us. We will let you know as soon as possible how things have turned out.
The work still continues to prosper here under the blessing of the Lord. The other day about nine school boys accepted the Lord, and from time to time numbers of people out in the villages. But we do need real outpouring of God’s Spirit, both to refresh our own spirits and awaken many of these natives from their sin.
The manual side of the work seems to increase instead of lessen. I wish I were twins and that there were ten days in every week!!! Just these past few days we have been cutting out shingles, trying to get the best of our roofing problems. When it really rains here in Congo one is glad to have a good roof. The other night the whole sky seemed to let down. It just poured for about two hours with terrific thunder and lightning. We could feel the house tremble from the vibrations set up. In a nearby village a house fell in and killed an old man; he was about the only Christian in the village, so we believed the Lord is trying to warn some of the people there. And so life goes on from day to day.
We will be glad to have another letter from you some time. May the Lord bless you in all that you seek to do for Him. Yours in His Love, Hector & Ione
It would seem that Ione and Hectors Christmas hamper from her mother has finally arrived judging by the letter from Ione at Bongondza on the 25th April 1947:
I was sorry to hear this week that you have been ill. You must have been quite miserable all the while you were east seeing Marcellyn off. But I am glad that you could go. It must have meant a lot to her, as it did when you and Lucille were with me. It was Esther’s letter this week that told us about your illness. But she said that you were better, and we are glad of that.
It was in the mail a week before this that the long-looked-for package came. And it was so thrilling to open it. Several others of the missionaries were here and watched us. I think they enjoyed it too. We took one thing at a time and rejoiced over it. Hector found the kisses which were neatly made of the ribbon which wrapped his suspenders. He was ever so happy to have them. And the D.O.C., I can’t tell you how he needed it; not that his teeth were not kept well, but he has not been able to get anything like it out here. I hope Marcellyn brings some with her. It makes such a difference when he uses that. That was thoughtful of you. He is already using that bottle and I don’t know what he’ll do when it is gone. And the little tool kit is just darling, and he is using it, too! He needs small instruments for so many things. And the food – I can’t begin to tell you how we appreciate it. The tins of turkey; we have used one in a salad, and we’ve used one of the chickens in a chicken pie, and they are delicious. I am saving the cranberries and mushrooms to serve when we have a make-believe roast turkey and dressing. We’ll have everything but the shape of the turkey. We’ve already finished the nut brittle and some of the pecans and ALL of the peppermints. We haven’t had things like that for some time. I did appreciate the things for my hair and the combs (I had really run out of combs, except for Hector’s gift one) and the pillow cases are done beautifully! I showed the boy how nicely they were ironed and told him to do likewise. And the round blue doilies are so useful. I have one on the little circular revolving table which Hector made for me to serve condiments on at the table. I have a tiny blue glass vase with tiny blue flowers in. The other pieces you have done very well. I am so glad to have them finished after so many years. The plastic things are useful; I’ll use the apron for when I bathe the baby. The Kleenex holder will go to the hospital with me. Thank you so much, Mother, for your part in this grand surprise. Everything was wrapped so festively and the extra wrappings will do for next Christmas.
We were relieved to have a letter from Dr. Becker saying that he will take on my case and will meet us at Irumu where the plane stops. The journey from there to Oicha is about 80 miles, so that is not bad. As yet we have not had our reservation on the plane verified, but one is fairly certain of that usually. We hope to leave here Wed. or Thurs. the 28th or 29th of May. That is over three weeks before the baby is due. I think everything is going along according to schedule. I am being very careful so that the baby will not come too soon. I feel like a ship of state setting sail when I walk down the path.
You asked me what I am doing for dresses. Well, not too badly. I have the two maternity dresses which I bro’t out, plus a couple of dresses made over, a new dress made after the pattern of a house coat, and a pretty one lent to me by Mrs Walby at Maganga. She also gave me a smock. But the smock I bro’t out is far too small now. I have another new dress cut out of the red and white French gingham which one of the Pontiac ladies gave me; it is cut like Mrs Walby’s with snaps at the back of the shoulders and it laps over in back. I hope to finish it before we go. I’ll use it for the journey and then put it away for the next baby! I wish you could see the dear little bassinet made from a wooden box. I have a nice wooden bed that the Westcott’s left, but I wanted something for the time we’re at Oicha, and the box can be used to mail the babies belongings in. I have a skirt with a ribbon-drawstring made of pink cotton covered with pink net (what I had bought for the wedding!); pink ribbon covers the arches made of wire which are detachable and will hold the mosquito net which drapes like a little princess’ bed. I have two (sometimes four!) teacher’s wives making dear little dainty dresses and slips, sheets, bands, etc. all by hand. They will be trophies to show you when I come home. The girls have done them quite nicely. And they are so interested in the baby’s coming. I guess I told you Hector is making a baby carriage. He bought the springs and rubber tubing for tires, and that’s apparently all he needs for a start. He is making beautifully turned redwood discs for wheels. I am making little cotton knit long-sleeved shirts and cross over in front; I can get three out of two pairs of Hector’s shorts! Rubber pants I am making out of the rubberized pillow-cover that Hector bro’t out. It is fun trying to decide what to use as I go thru the ‘necessary’ list in the baby book.
Although I have been very careful, especially one week a month, I have not found it necessary to give up the school work. I cannot go to the villages for the child evangelism classes, but I go to choir practice Saturday nights, and it is good to keep going. I feel I need the exercise, I am so large. And when the first of the year Verna made out the school schedule, she made it 3 hours lighter than last term. I have the three departments of the boys’ school as well as the evangelists’ school for music, but they divide themselves into two class-periods a day and meet three times a week. We are working on, “Sound the Battle Cry,” in Bangala, with cymbals and trumpets, and the “Benedictus” in French. They are learning the note and staff system whereas heretofore they had only the sol-fa or syllable system. It is very difficult for these natives to sing chromatics; they can’t hear it at all. Some of the songs I have changed a little to fit their voices. We keep up an average of 20 at choir practice and I choose the 16 who may wear robes on Sunday morning. These men and women do have such good Christian times when we meet. They take turns in being host and they usually pass around peanuts or tea or coffee. Botiki’s wife borrowed an apron from me for the occasion! It is interesting to see them put a little cloth on the table and a bouquet of flowers. Just ten or fifteen years ago they knew nothing about these niceties and the men and women never sat together or ate together. We can praise the Lord for this progress in their home lives. For it makes a nice background for their children. We have just a few Christians who have children and they are quite different from children of pagan parents. I have been taking some of Ma Kinso’s women’s meetings and there they learn how to cook, sew, bathe babies, as well as conduct services. They always receive a real Gospel message at each service. Twice a week they meet to learn to read and write.
The advanced boys are now making covers for their Bibles with a map of Africa appliquéd on the top. And the younger group are doing raffia mats. Soon they will be working again on string for animal nets. They need them for when they go hunting. Today they all went and Hector with them. He enjoys a real tramp thru thick forest. I was wishing that the shells had come so that he could have taken a gun, but he took just the hunting knife, a lunch and first-aid kit. He treated several cuts but not on himself. Tonight the boys sent us some liver and part of the leg of an antelope, part of their spoil. The liver is especially welcome right now. It is so good of the Lord to give me just the things I need. Right now the oranges are coming again and I can have orange juice as well as juicy ripe pineapples. We have plenty of cocoa and that makes the Klim taste better. We have a good supply of tinned things, enough to last six months I hope. Klim is high in price and a bit scarce, so we are guarding it.
Another mother and father came with their baby for milk, but I did not feel we could spare any milk just now, and asked them to try to bring goat’s milk for me to fix. Ma Kinso talked to them too, and as a result they did come for some time. It was lovely milk and I only wish we could get the natives to bring it to us. But that stopped recently as the mother goat was expecting another baby. And these people don’t seem to be able to get another one. But it is not as tho’ the baby will starve for the mother does have some milk, and this time on goat’s milk has given it a boost. Natives here just DON’T use goat’s milk; and they laugh at people who do. Yet their babies are dying without it when the mothers don’t have enough. It is a tragedy. Ma Kinso and I are experimenting with peanut milk, (made from grinding down peanuts in water, the milk is lactose free, similar to almond milk.) and think soon we’ll have a proper consistency for tiny babies. I have dismissed Pudu now as he is entirely on solids and have just tiny little Priscilla on the bottle. We must shift her to peanut milk as soon as possible, as it costs about $40 to take care of a baby for six months.
Now I must close. I hope this finds you well, Mother. I have not heard yet from Marcellyn, but perhaps you have. You are ever in my thoughts and I love you dearly. You are the loveliest Mother any girl could ever hope to have. If you ever feel you could come out here, we would love to have you with us. Lovingly, Ione
Hector responds to Doug Brock’s letter of the 16th March on the 26th April, writing:
Dear Doug and Jeannie:
Your letter of March 16th certainly dropped a nice surprise on us. Do you really mean that you folks are expecting a family!!! That is wonderful. We are planning on June 24th but it will be necessary to go about three weeks ahead of time. A trip of 160 miles to Stanleyville; 400 miles by plane and then another car journey of 75 miles. We hope nothing will happen on the way. The roads are gravel & sometimes quite rough. Mr Jenkinson, the head of this station, has a ’38 V8, and he will be able to take us to Stanleyville.
And the rest of your letter was good too. It is nice to hear of all that has happened to you these past few months. I often think of you Doug and tell Ione about the nice times we had together. I count you as one of my best friends!!! I suppose you’re saying, “I wonder what he wants now”…That’s just what I’m going to write next. But then I shouldn’t apologize too much since “YOU ASKED FOR IT”. Good old Doug. You should have seen Ione brighten up when you mentioned sending some canned anchovies etc. It would cost you a lot to send some “samples” out here but if you’re really in earnest we would be very, very grateful.
As regarding tools, we can get quite a few things in Stanleyville. Just a few weeks ago, I got a little parcel from Vern Ryerse with about 40 hacksaw blades and 25 small assorted drills. The hack saws I had been getting in Stan were good for about three jobs. I think I have had one of these Vern sent me, in the saw for about a month now, and it’s still going strong. So you can see that we just take what we are given out here, while at home there is a selection. So now if you want to send some little thing along, I would suggest a combination circular saw, 7” diameter ½” hole. I have a small one now working off a battery charger, but it was only a cheap one that the Doctor had when he was here. I am using it to trim shingles that the natives cut from softwood trees. It helps us solve our tremendous roofing problem, since we can’t get sheet metal. Some time I must draw you a sketch of the buildings on this station, and a map of the area. Maybe I can entice you and Jean out here for a two-month vacation!!!
I’m sorry I must close so soon, as I should talk with you about the spiritual side of this work, but that will come next time. Yours in the Lord’s Service, Hector
The Christmas parcel from Ione’s mother was not the only package to arrive out of sync with the seasons; as seen from excerpts of a letter written by Ione to another friend and supporter on May 2nd 1947:
The box of Christmas cards came and I do appreciate them very much. It was very thoughtful of you to collect that large boxful and send it. Thank you. Bright, cheery pictures are always welcome and there are many uses in scrap books and just now I am interested in using some of the pictures for the backs of schoolboys’ raffia picture frames. We are using raffia that the children have gotten from a nearby place and it is dyed several colours with Rit I bro’t out. I have three classes doing this in the primary school, and in the advanced two classes they have been sewing pen wipers and Bible covers; their next project will be string for an animal net. They make the string from some kind of vegetable fibre. They went hunting last Saturday and had a fine time. But they had borrowed nets and it will be good when they have their own, for they won’t have to pay the person from whom they were borrowed. There were only two animals in the group of boys Hector went with and they were small antelopes, so they didn’t go very far. They sent us a part of a leg and the liver which I enjoyed very much. We are anxiously awaiting the shells which will make possible the use of our two guns. The shells are in Matadi now and just have to come up the river.
Well, Mildred, I guess you knew that the first of our ‘six hoped-for’ babies is just about due. (Revealing Ione’s love of children and wish for a large family of her own.) It is a real joy to make the preparations for a little one; Hector is making a baby carriage out of lovely red wood; he bought some springs and rubber tubing for tires. I have had to be rather careful the entire time, but it will be worth it if we can have a baby! (There are no baby shops in the heart of Africa, my father made my crib which was wood and fine mesh to keep out the mosquitos!)
We have a wonderful Lord and Saviour. “He daily loadeth us with benefits.” Love, Ione
Sometimes, things get sent that are of little use to Ione and Hector in Africa and their return needs to be carefully thought through as seen in Ione’s next recorded letter to her mother on 3rd May 1947;
This can be only a half-page because I’m sending two one-dollar bills that were sent to Hector and me from America; if the weight exceeds the least bit, the letter will come back! We sent you a letter last week which you should have by now and that tells you the latest news. I guess it wasn’t much. Hector and I are both keeping well in spite of the fact that there are many colds about. Verna spent a few hours in bed yesterday morning, but you can’t keep her down long! She is a dear and we love to work with her. Every new idea I think of she is so thrilled over, and she lets me do what I like in the boys’ school. I have planned the devotions for them this year and the Lord is blessing. A number of boys have accepted Christ, for which we praise Him. We are praying for a real stirring of hearts here, our own first and then the Christians, that the Holy Spirit may stir us all to a real concern for lost souls. This week, however, the devil got in his work when a school boy, one of the finest, was expelled, also the biggest school girl, because it was reported that they had sinned. Both had accepted the Lord, which makes it worse. Pray for them.
Yesterday I finished making two pairs of little rubber panties out of a rubberized pillow cover of Hector’s. (Hector is not the only one who is creative!) All the little knit shirts are done; the native girls are still working on two little dimity dresses and then I will have six; there are yet six bibs. And I want to stitch up some quilted pads for the bed. I wish you were here to ask about a lot of things. I think the little wool shirts are too small and the dresses are too large! Last night I could feel the outline of the baby just under my breast bone; it is real high now, ready for its dive down I guess. Pray for these next three weeks before we go. We have a French exam just before we leave and must study hard for that. Am trying to get the yard cleared and bushes cut down so that it won’t be a forest of weeds when we return. I have a boy who is separating and transplanting all the spider lilies; they are so nice; I planted pumpkin, watermelon and rhubarb, but only the former came up; if ever you could send some more seeds we would appreciate it. But seal them in a tin or bottle. Write soon. Love to all, Ione & Hector.
The UFM missionaries in the Congo are spread across a large region, they are supportive of each other and take time to correspond as witnessed in the letter to Mary Carter:
It had been a long time since I have written you and it seems there are so many things to say. First I want to thank you for your letter which I received this week.
I am sorry that the tricycles were a disappointment (in all probability these are toys left from when the Westcott’s were at Bongondza, not something Ione sourced but items Ione recycled!) . It is hard to compare children to other things when they’re miles apart! I thought surely, they were bigger than that. (By now, Mary and Jim Carter had three children, the twins, Gordon and Rosemary, Philip and Michael who was born later in September 1947 in Mombasa. Jim is the Mission Field Secretary.) And I suppose you all will be gone home at the time when they would fit the tricycles. But they could still get some fun from them when they return, couldn’t they? And after that, maybe I’ll have someone the right size! John did work hard on them and I would be sorry if someone could not enjoy them. I wish I had something else to send the children. There are other things here, but I imagine you have things just like them, bits of mechanical toys, and rag dolls, etc. None are very nice anymore.
We did enjoy having Chester and John here. Hector surely missed them after they left. They were so easy to care for and so appreciative of every little attention. I do hope they were not too tired when they returned. They worked hard all the while they were here. I think John was somewhat lonesome for Betty, especially the last week, when they wanted so badly to get away and couldn’t. (And Ione probably didn’t know at that time that Betty was also in the early stages of pregnancy.) He sat in our rocking chair and rocked himself to the tune of, “Far from My Home”—“
My sister is in Belgium now and I expect will come on to Congo in July, although I have not heard from her directly as yet. We are glad Pearl is really taking that course, after the false report that she was skipping it and coming on to Congo. We must pray much that she will pass and be able to come to Congo in July, too. I wonder where Marcellyn will be stationed. She first was called of the Lord to Ekoko, she believes, but of course she must be willing to go where the Field Committee feels the Lord would have her to be. She is six years younger than I.
I am looking forward to next month with great anticipation. Here are my plans: because of that bad stretch of road after Nia Nia (I hope to get passed there!) I was not keen to go by car, if there was a better way, and I did want to go to Oicha, altho’ would have chosen Aba if going by car, for the road from here is better. As it is now, we can go by plane to Irumu, and be met by Dr. Becker himself, who is passing thru there that week with Mrs Peter Stam who also is expecting a baby in June. In that way I can have a doctor the rest of the way. And Botiki will go with us to Stanleyville with Kinso, just in case we need some help then. (I would prefer Ma Kinso, but hate to ask both to be away at once when we’re gone, too.) Kinso can drive the car back and have it here while we’re away. We have a plane reservation for May 31st from Stan. I expect the baby June 24th so that should be time enough ahead, shouldn’t it? Lois Uhlinger says they will have four other cases at the same time!
I have been quite well, but have been very careful, for as you say, babies are very precious! I hope mine can be as sweet and nice as yours. Love, Ione
Ione and Hector also get support and help from missionaries serving with different organisations, it is evident that hospitality is on offer at various points towards their end destination of Oicha; Ione responds to an offer from Mary Dean who works on the Brethren Mission at Nyankunde:
Thank you very much for your letter written April 25th. It was thoughtful of you and Eleanor to think of caring for us when we come that way. Also, of driving us on to Oicha.
We had a letter from Dr. Becker saying that he was planning to meet us on the 31st, Saturday, the day the plane arrives, and drive us on to Oicha with Mrs Stam. However, I have written to him that if he prefers, you can take us. I have left the matter entirely up to him as we cannot hear again from him before that time. All we know now is that he said he would meet us. No doubt you know his plans, too. I told him in my last letter that we would look for him either at the airport or at Nyankunde.
If Eleanor had Mr Ford at the time we come, that would be a good reason for our staying with you, wouldn’t it, in case we shall be overnight or over Sunday? Nothing would please us better, and then the next time we can stay with Eleanor. I have never had a chance to have a real chat with her about Wheaton days and folk we both know.
We are so glad that your car has come. It will be a real help to you as well as to all on the station, won’t it?
I suppose by the time this arrives Bill and Dora will be gone, won’t they? I trust they will have a real change and rest during their furlough. They surely deserve it.
A big hug for the children. Tell them I will bring my monkey and he can sing for them. (I don’t mean Hector, now, but Tony; Hector is coming too, tho’! ! !) Lovingly, Ione
The complexities of managing missionary work in the heart of Africa, spread of many miles with poor communications networks is evident in the next couple of letters. On 17th May, Jim Carter has to write to Hector at Bongondza and he does appear somewhat affronted:
I’m writing in order to straighten up a financial matter. Mr & Mrs Walby have had an outstanding A/C with me of just on 500 francs since last November or thereabouts. I wrote a month ago reminding them about it. Mrs W. wrote and told me that when they were through with you (January, I suppose) you asked them to pay on account that I had with you, some 500 francs. This is the first I have heard of such a payment. What was it for? What did you get for me that cost 506 francs. I cannot understand why you should ask other people to pay my bills nor why you or they were so quiet about the matter; as I say only last week I find out about it. How can I keep proper accounts when 3rd parties pay my bills and I am not told? How? When? Where? or Why? or for what goods payment was due. I’d be very glad, therefore, if you would let me know how it came about that Walbys paid it and what it was that put me in your debt to the tune of 506 francs. I have the impression that all bills I’ve received from you have been paid by cheque to you. Did I owe you something for which you never sent a bill? Payments made such as this are not regular and can be mighty inconvenient.
This will go to Bongondza though I suppose by this time you should be at Oicha or somewhere. We’re all awaiting news of the event.
I’ve just had a beautiful “Bust up” with a priest (black one) & have accused him to the State. You’ll hear more from Kinsos no doubt.
Cheerio & all the best. God bless. Jim
Jim gets his reply on 28th May 1047:
Dear Brother Carter:
A thousand, 1000 apologies.
Your letter found an absolute blank spot in my memory. Ione suggested that I look thru my diary. All the help I got there was a record that I had spent 15,000 francs in Stan when I came thru with the Walbys. Then came the hunt through our file of old bills, and I am sending you the two concerned. It all came back to me as soon as I saw the bills. I even remember you suggesting that I try to get the sugar, when I was thru to Boyulu with Keri’s early in January. I’m ever so sorry that it has been so delayed, and I must write the Walbys too.
The Kinsos are taking us in to Stan tomorrow so I will mail this letter there.
Yours as ever, Hector
So Hector and Ione are on their way to Dr Becker in preparation for the birth of their child. The journey is not an easy one and its nature is apparent in this brief letter (31st May 1947) from Hector to Leonie Reed whilst on their plane flight:
Nice and cool –
On the way to the big event. Everything is just fine. The road was rough by car from Bongondza to Stan but we went slow & had Ione lying down on the roll-away bed mattress & she had a good trip. We did some shopping with the Jenkinson’s yesterday & Ione was ever so pleased to be able to get a permanent. (A hair treat is so special after a period of time in the hot and humid jungle and a girl has to look good for her new baby!) Now we will soon be at the Doctor’s. A lady missionary from the Brethren Mission is meeting the plane with her new Plymouth station wagon. I just looked out the window with the field glasses Russell Bemis sent us & saw the rough old road far below. The plane is ever so much better.
Ione has been quite well although she has to be careful. Last night she said the baby was quite far down, so it won’t be long now?!!! We will wire Mr Pudney & ask him to let our folks know.
Yours as Ever in Christ – Hector & Ione
It falls to Ione, a few days later, June 5th 1947, to give a more detailed account of the journey from Bongondza to Oicha. She writes to her mother:
Well, now it is just a question of waiting for the big event. And it is fun and interesting, especially so since Hector is here, too. The journey from Bongondza was made easier by the mattress of the roll-away bed. I slept a good deal of the way and the bumps were not bad. It took us 10 hours because Kinso and Hector drove slowly, and we had to cross three rivers by pontoon. Mrs Jenkinson (Ma Kinso) had a nice lunch prepared and was very helpful. They had (Botiki and she) complete equipment ready in case the baby came on the way. We had made reservations at the Airport Hotel so I went right to the room and rested while Hector got the airplane tickets and had the baggage weighed. We had a lovely dinner at the hotel and I especially enjoyed the salad and steak.
Next morning, we went hunting some trousers for Hector. I found a nice brown felt hat, too, and then I found that the beauty shop was giving permanents again (the Belgian man had returned to Europe) by a Portuguese man, and the price was cheaper. I stayed right there until the operator came and he finished me by 1:15 noon. Then Hector and I had dinner in another hotel and I went to the B.M.S. (British Baptist Mission Society) and rested on Ma Kinso’s bed until Hector came to tell me they were going to get some ice cream. That was a real treat. Then we invited Jenkinson’s host and hostess as well as two visiting missionaries to have dinner with us at our hotel, so we had a nice little dinner party. The next morning we were called early, had breakfast and were on the plane by 7. Hector has written you from the plane and I don’t need to say much about that. The place where we landed (Irumu) was just a landing strip in the wilderness. If we hadn’t known that we would be met, we might have felt desolate. After waiting about 20 minutes in a grass-roofed round mud shelter, Mrs Mary Deans came with her Plymouth station wagon. Dr. Becker had arranged for her to meet us and she was planning to immediately go on to the hospital 115 kilometres away. We ran into a rainstorm and she slithered into a bank and her little girl bumped her cheek. I felt the bump, but nothing serious happened. We arrived at Oicha at 2 P.M. and the doctor’s wife had a lovely dinner all ready for us.
Our quarters here are very comfortable. We share a tile-roofed brick house with Peter and Mrs Stam and little Sharon. Peter is John Stam’s nephew (It was John Stam’s story of missionary work in China that first motivated Ione to enquire about missionary work.); they are Wheatonites and lots of fun. Peter hasn’t arrived yet for he is teaching at the Rethy Academy for two weeks more. Our two sections are quite separate but we can open an adjoining door if we wish. We each have two rooms. We eat at the Becker’s house next door and a native boy washes & irons our clothes every other day.
I understand the baby will be born right in this room, unless there are complications. I have a lovely Simon’s hospital bed. Hector was gone two nights when he went over to Butembo to see the Ludwig’s (just 2 hours away). He had strawberries four times there and brought some back & some vegetables, too. Ludwig’s are in a garden spot and seem very happy. She gave me two little shirts which I needed very much.
We bought a native-made basket and I have it all prettied up with a pink netting skirt (you remember the netting I bought for the wedding?) and hoops to hold the filmy white mosquito netting up like a miniature covered wagon. I have everything laid out ready but nothing has happened yet. One of the five expectant mothers has hers now, the wife of a mine doctor. They do give a sedative here and will make it as painless as possible. The two Christian nurses are lovely girls. And there is a dear little mulatto helper who is lots of fun. The mines doctor has two chimpanzees which are kept in the store house back of us, so we have strange noises sometimes. They feed them bananas & pai-pai and milk in a baby bottle. The first thing I saw this morning when I went outside was a monkey face peeking at me from a window!
This is a time of precious Christian fellowships with these missionaries and also a time to be apart with the Lord. You will hear from us about the baby by cable via Mr Pudney. Love to everyone in Jesus’ name. Ione
The enforced rest gives Ione time to catch up on letter writing, on the 12th June she writes to supporters at Valley Farms:
Greetings from Congo and more in the Name of the Lord Jesus!
This time we are about 700 miles from our station near the grasslands and a few hours from the famous Mt. Ruwenzori, 16,000 ft. We travelled by car and plane and are now waiting for the stork to give us a little Kenneth or a Linda Lucille.
It was on May 24 that we received notice of your latest $50, there had been another notice on April 2 and I think we did not acknowledge it. Thank you very much. This time our Work Support is helping to pay for our journey to the doctor. You cannot know how much it means to us to come here to an American doctor and a real missionary as well. We hope to be back on the station sometime early in July.
Leopards have been quite a menace here recently and everyone was very happy two days ago when one was caught. A goat is used to bait the trap. The natives danced around it with branches and shouting was heard for miles around. We are not far from the lion country here. We heard of one which has killed 14 people. But one need not be afraid. Our Lord is with us continually to protect from harm and danger. And I think these wild animals are more afraid of us than we are of them!
We have rejoiced to hear of successful evangelistic meetings at Valley Farms. May the Lord bless in the Daily Vacation Bible School. We’ll be glad to hear all about it. Don’t forget to pray for our work at Bongondza. We are keen to get back to it. We must work harder among the school boys; so many are yet without Christ. And there is real opportunity in the villages for evangelistic work. Goodbye for now and God bless you. Lovingly in Him, Ione
Dr Becker was not only adept at looking after his patients, but also in sorting out expectant fathers; which I guess enabled their wives to rest before labour commenced. Hector recounts his activities in a letter to Kinso on June 15th 1947:
Thanks for the nice lot of mail. Everything arrived in good shape. We enjoyed the letters from you especially. Thanks for taking time to write. I trust by now you received the letter we sent last week. In case you think this is the letter telling about the baby, I better tell you that that will have to wait a few more days. Of the five ladies waiting here, three have already had theirs, two boys and a girl. So there is just Mrs Stam and Ione left. Mr Stam had to wait up at Rethy for the close of the school term, since he is the principal. But that will be over on Tuesday night, so he will be here on Wednesday. They have been keeping me on the alert, ready to run for the nurse, but they are both quite well, even went to service this morning. They have been helping prepare the desserts for several meals.
The other day Doctor handed me some cameras and a light meter and told me to enjoy myself taking pictures around the station. One a nice new 35 mm, another was the film pack type, Graflex (a real good one) and then I had a movie camera, and lots of film….I fixed up a small blackboard and started out at the highway, just as if I were getting ready to visit the station. While I was taking the picture of the Irumu-Beni sign, a pygmy and his little wife and family walked into the scene. I took about 10 on the Kodachrome. They have already sent some away. The film pack doctor developed here in the X-Ray tank and they were quite good. Especially the leopard that the natives caught in a big bear trap last Monday. That made plenty of excitement. Another picture was of Alice Wentworth for her passport. She hopes to go to America with Miss Love, by the way, John and Betty sent along a spool for our 16 mm movie 100 ft.
Something else of interest to the Boyulu folks is the possibility of using that generator we gave them, without buying the 20 batteries. Doctor Becker says that even with a D.C. generator one bulb is sufficient load to keep it from burning out, and that as more bulbs are in the circuit it makes if harder for the engine to turn it. He has a Kohler outfit here, been running since ’29, 2 kw D.C. current. He has an alternator like Doc had for the hospital work. Then most of the lights are on at night on the D.C. line the engine has all it can do, along with putting 5 amps into some radio batteries. It takes a litre of gas an hour, supplying 8 houses. It is put on about 6:15 and turned off at 9:00. They run it part time during the day for taking X-rays. He asked me to do a little job on the old X-ray machine, which he has been using for some time. However just a few days ago parts for a new X-ray were delivered here from America; the control unit and the head unit. There remains just the stand. The control unit was wired for changing 220V into 110V, so we had to make a few changes to get what we wanted. It works beautifully.
Here I am telling you all these things when I should be asking about all the work I left for you to battle with. So sorry about the school wall. That was some rain. It is good to know that the shingle roof is coming along.
I had an opportunity to drive Doctor’s new Ford 6. Ione and Mrs Stam and Alice wanted to go in to Beni to get some things for Mrs Becker’s birthday so I took them in. Then that same evening we were talking about CVC rates of charge and one person said that they charged 5 francs a km for the round trip in a special car. A few minutes later a note came in from a Belgian stranded out about 15 kms from here in a CVC bus. Doctor and I went out to see if we could help and ended up by my taking him and the two half-cast children in to Beni while the Doctor went to bed. On the side Doctor told me to charge him the regular rate of CVC. When we got to the hotel I had it figured up as 90 kms at 5 francs. He handed be 1000 francs and wanted me to keep it all. But I started counting up the change to give him and only had 400!!!!
I guess I should have started with a bigger sheet of paper. Something I forgot to tell you about this new X-ray. When Dr. Barnhouse was visiting Africa with another man they called in at Oicha and visited around the station. Doctor was sick at the time so they were visiting in his room and asked him if there was anything he really needed. He happened to be looking at a medical magazine with an ad in it of a new X-ray. So they suggested they get him the full-sized cone. The cost was something like $865 in the States. It was a real gift and he is ever so pleased.
They had word yesterday from the Amstutz family. They have been six months on the way to Congo. He had an operation for appendicitis in Kenya and several other things have delayed them. Now they say that their station wagon was broken into right in front of the mission home in Nairobi; a back seat ventilator was broken and the front door opened; muddy tracks all over the seats; several cases and trunks taken. They got the police on the track and found only a few charred remains which they could identify. The culprits were not caught. One article was a coat Mrs Bell was returning to Mrs Becker, so they felt quite bad about it.
We are listening to the news these days and wondering how long it will be before America and Britain calls Russia’s bluff.
It is likely that Hector is referring to the Cold War here which commenced in May 1947. Despite the Second World War being deemed over in 1944, there continued to be conflict in various parts of the world, America and its Western Allies were at odds with Russia and its Eastern Allies. Western Allies feared the spread of Communism, especially as Russian influences spread throughout parts of Europe. Suffice it to say that there was unrest which caused concern and debate.
We will close for now. Look for a telegram next mail. Yours in His Love, Hector
Kenneth Reed McMillan is finally born on the 19th June 1947 at 1pm and weighing a respectable 8lbs. There were five sets of parents at Oicha at the time, Kenneth being one of the last to appear and the fourth boy! So much for the pink netting around the crib!
Ione did not give birth in the room she describes above but was taken to the Hospital operating room where it was probably easier to administer pain relief into the spine.
Letter writing starts almost immediately with Hector sharing the news of Kenneth Reed’s arrival: to Mr Maxwell in Three Hills Alberta, Hector writes:
Kenneth Reed was born last Thursday June 19, weighs 8 lbs. He is a sweet little fellow. Every so often I want to call him Paul Timothy ! ! !
To one of Ione’s supporters, Mrs Wideman, Hector writes:
I guess this is my introduction to you and the other members of the class that supports Ione. I have heard much about you and we both wish to thank you for your interest in us. We received your letter of May 18. The news of the church happenings is always welcome. We appreciate the close contact with those in the homeland. We are glad you asked about the big event. The next paragraph will give you the details. I will take some extracts of what Ione wrote in the diary:
“June 19…All morning this continued. It was terrific at times. About noon I was taken to the operating room and the last big effort was made. The doctor was very encouraging and when I was about to give up, the baby came, at 1 o’clock. He cried loud right away and Lois said, “It’s a boy”!! Then they laid him on the table and his head was turned toward me, and he opened his big eyes and looked. I thought that I had never seen such a lovely face, broad forehead, eyes wide apart, fat cheeks and chin and a rose bud mouth. His hair was dark and closely cropped. His chest was broad, and his legs well-formed and fat. Hector was called in and was happy that it was a boy.”
And to his sister Jean in Montreal, Hector writes;
Ione and I have been made very happy by the arrival of our little 8 lb. boy. He came last Thurs. the 19th about 1 p.m. Of course, I was very proud to carry him from the hospital back to our little cottage. He seems so new, I felt as though I were driving a new car out of the factory. Ione had a fair time with no complications. The Dr and nurses have been very good.
Here is a little of what Ione wrote in the diary….
”Hector was called in and was happy that it was a boy. He held my head while I screamed with the pain of the stitches. About 1:30 all was finished and I dropped to sleep for a while. I was not very comfortable until the next day. Hector was awake nearly all night, watching and caring for the baby. It cried quite a bit at first and choked several times on the liquid in its throat; but Hector got along all right and didn’t have to call anyone. The next day he said he changed its diaper even tho it didn’t need to be changed. “What’s a little waste of flannel”, he said, “When you can stop the baby from crying”! He had him in every conceivable position when he was choking. In the morning Kenneth showed only a slightly swollen eye. When put to the breast that first night he knew exactly what to do. While I had him with me I found that his head is shaped just like Hector’s, his hair is the same colour, and his eyes look like they will be blue. He is the biggest of the five babies born here this month.
Friday June 20
Both mother and daddy are quite tired. Baby is no trouble for he is not hungry yet. Occasional choking. Hector went to Beni in the afternoon for shop supplies for Dr. Becker. Brought me cookies and two chocolate bars. Nice bath, good meals very strengthening. Baby had a little sunning on the bed.
Saturday June 21
The first day of summer at home. Lovely summer day here. Mme. Nanson to see the baby. Hector and Peter Stam worked all morning on the church at the leper camp. When he came back Alice asked him to help her put a band on me. I was in many little strips and she told him to give them to her across me one at a time. He took one gingerly and ran around the end of the bed instead of handing it across (just to be silly). We laughed and it was hard to hold my tummy flat when laughing. He rubbed his trousers on the bed and I told him he better move away with his leper germs; so he went to the wall and rubbed himself there. Alice sat right down on the floor, she laughed so hard. Then she shouted, “Unclean, unclean”! and pushed him out.”””””.
So that is the start our boy had. I know you will be looking forward to seeing him.
The lights have gone out so I better close for now. Yours as a proud father. Hector
And to fellow missionary friend on furlough in America, Hector writes:
We had a letter from Ma Kinso telling us that you had arrived home, through many mishaps. The foggy part of the journey must have been very exciting! !
I guess you know that Ione and I intended coming here (Oicha) for the big event. Well here we are and here IT is. Just you wait until you get back to Bongondza and see the little laddie who is going to take charge of the carpenter shop for his daddy! ! ! I have only one fear for him and that is the threat that Mary Rutt has made….For every time that I have cuffed her kitten she says she is going to take revenge on Kenneth. But in a letter to the Kinsos I told them to tell Mary that Kenneth says he is sorry his daddy cuffed her kitten. But you know Mary; she won’t be deterred! !
Anyway Ione and I are very thankful to the Lord that she had a safe delivery. Dr. Becker did a wonderful job. The nurses have been very good. There were five babies born in three weeks; four of them boys. Ours happens to weigh the most; about 8 lbs. Ione is glad that she doesn’t have the trouble of baby bottles. She is getting better very quickly and little Kenneth has started to gain.
I used to wonder how anyone could write a whole letter about a baby, but when it’s your own you think everyone else is interested. But I’ll calm down after a while Viola! ! !
How did you find your folks? Likely the summer’s work is upon them now and they won’t have much time for visiting. If you get an opportunity to go to Dunnville don’t forget to look up my sister Mrs. V.C. Millar. They may be at Avonmore for the summer months, but her husband will have to be back to teaching school. They would be glad to see you.
I took some pictures of Ione and Kenneth this afternoon and have them developed already in Dr. Becker’s X-Ray tanks. There is a new concern in Stan. Photofalls – returning the snaps next day. They may last for a few days. Goodbye for now. We will be waiting to see you in a few months,
On the 26th June 1947, Hector writes to Ione’s mother:
This is my little hand that wants to reach right across to you. Thank you for the nice mummie you gave me. She is so sweet to me and gives me 7 or 8 good meals every day; and changes me into nice clean diapers when I need it. Sometimes daddy does that job too, but mummie doesn’t stick so many pins into me! ! ! I cry a little bit but only when it’s near meal time or when I haven’t anything else to think about. Last night I was real good. Mummie and daddy were so happy about it this morning that they sang to me while I was having my six o’clock breakfast, and it was especially nice with the guitar. “Pass me not oh gentle Saviour”; “I am a stranger here”; “What a friend we have in Jesus”. I’m glad they named me Kenneth Reed, and now I would like to say good-bye. Be sure to keep praying for me.
I wrote my name over the picture of my hand…. And the delivery
It is a touching and sensitive gesture to send an actual hand size, something tangible for Leonie Reed. The letter goes in to give more exact detail about the labour, the lumbar epidural anaesthesia and the delivery.
The next day, Hector pens a letter to his father:
I know you have lots of other grandchildren, but I think you’re pretty glad that my name is McMillan. I will try to carry on the family name as well as I can; but I must say mummie and daddy have me a pretty long one when they called me Kenneth Reed. I’ll just have my evening meal but between times I’m telling daddy what to write. They treat me very, very good. Mummie feeds me six times a day, and daddy changes me sometimes. I sure keep that native wash boy busy getting clean things ready for me to put on. I weigh 8 lbs and am quite fat. I hear Mummie and daddy talking about me sometimes and they say that I have some characteristics like a fellow called Archie. I’m not too sure who he is, but if I’m like him, he must have a broad forehead, a round face and a good thick chest. I haven’t really heard daddy say this, but I know he thinks now that Archie is a pretty good looking fellow, since I’m a little bit like him.
I’m getting sleepy now, so daddy will tell you the rest of the news. The next time I write I will be back at Bongondza, after my plane journey. Pray for me that I may be kept safely out here in Africa.
Dear Dad and all the family:
I trust that you received word from Mr. Pudney. We sent him a telegram the next day after Kenneth was born and asked him to notify our folks. We have been writing ever so many letters, but we are sending a picture of Kenneth’s hand to only the Reeds and McMillan’s.
The doctor on this mission station is very good. There were 5 babies born here in the last three weeks. Only two were missionary couples. Four of the babies were boys. Our baby was the biggest of them all.
We plan to stay about two more weeks. The other missionaries will be able to take us back to Irumu in their new Ford, and we can get the plane from there on July 10th. In two hours we will be in Stanleyville, 400 miles away; and we hope the Jenkinson’s will meet us to take us the rest of the journey about 160 miles. So Kenneth will be quite a traveller in his childhood. He is quite good and sleeps most of the time in his little native-made basket, with a mosquito net over the top. I will have to finish making his carriage when we get home. I have the wheels and spring just about ready. It will have knee action on all four wheels. We saw a carriage in Stan for $150; but this will only cost about three dollars, and probably be just as good.
Give our regards to all the friends……..Your son as ever, Hector
A few weeks elapse before the journey back to Bongondza, home and Hector writes on 20th July, a letter that gets sent to several friends, supporters and family:
We have arrived back on the station after being away for six weeks at Oicha. I know you will want a picture of what we brought back from there. We will try to have some ready for the next mail. Life is a little more varied now that we have little Kenneth; but we will soon get acquainted with him. We plan to dedicate him to the Lord in a week or two along with some native couples who have recently had babies.
Just one more short paragraph about the little lad – a few days ago one of the native carpenters came to see the new baby and of course Ione soon showed him into the bedroom where Kenneth was lying in his bed. Ione asked Balemaga who Kenneth looked like and he answered Bwana (Mr.) McMillan. Then she waited for a further comment, such as ‘he is beautiful’ or such like; but Balemaga just said “”Huh”” and walked out—-.
This week we had the pleasure of being introduced to the Prince Regent of Belgium. (The Prince Regent was Charles and his was the second Royal tour of the Belgian Congo) Our school boys, all dressed in their new uniforms, were lined up along the road and when the official cars drove up they sang the Belgium National Anthem. The Prince talked with us for a few minutes, thanking us for coming the 17 miles out to the main highway. He said the school boys looked very healthy. He spoke to us in both English and French.
(Ione shares more detail of the Prince Regent’s visit in a letter to a fellow missionary, Eleanor a few days later, she and Hector coincidentally arrived before the official party at Kole on their way home; she writes:
We arrived in Kole Tuesday after the Sunday we left you, and we were just ahead of the Prince Regent! My, how the people bowed and waved as we passed! I guess they tho’t we were the advance party. It was fun seeing all the arches, flowers, groups assembled, etc. When we reached Kole I took Kenneth to the Administrator’s house to cool him off and to wait until the excitement was over when we could go on to Bongondza with Mr. Jenkinson. All of our school children, nearly 150 were brought the 30 kilometres for the occasion and they sang, “La Brabanconne” and cheered, “hip-hip-hooray!” The Prince shook hands with everyone and came back a second time to talk to our Mr. Jenkinson and expressed appreciation for bringing the school out to the main road.)
The work on the station is as plentiful as ever. We hope to get aluminium roofing for our church; but for some of the other buildings we are using wooden shingles, which we wire together in the shop and then put them up in big sheets. We need something substantial: last night we had 5” of rain in about ten hours.
Praise the Lord with us for those who have recently accepted the Saviour; pray for His continued blessing.
Sincerely yours, Hector & Ione
Dearest Mother, Your most recent letter arrived the same day we did, the 15th, and then we found another one here from you enclosed in Esther’s letter. Thanks very much. Am enclosing a dollar bill. Evelyn Ankarberg sent it to me but I don’t think she’ll mind my passing it on. I could change it into francs here as I have others she has sent, but this time I want you to have it. Am not writing much now. Am glad you had such a good D.V.B.S. I do hope now you can find some work that will take care of your needs. You must need clothes badly by now.
How is your winter coat? Will you need another for this winter? And what about shoes? We do want to know just how you are fixed. We have a room waiting for Marcellyn; her baggage is in Matadi, but we cannot get permission to bring it here until she herself is in Congo. I can produce her “carte d’Immatriculation” which she receives upon arrival. May God bless you, Mother. Lovingly in Him, Ione
Ione gives a more descriptive account of their return home in her letter to Eleanor on the 4th August, a fellow missionary who gave them hospitality on their way home with Kenneth, detail missing from Hector’s letter;
We found our house all ready for us, with flowers, etc. And our cook was on hand, for which I was thankful, for so often when one returns from a long journey they aren’t to be found! We had a few weeks respite before school started, but the fun begins next Monday. The baby is growing ever so much and weighs over 9 pounds now; he smiles and seems much stronger than before. Dr. Brown of A.I.M. stopped here on his way to Stanleyville for his ‘stage’ of one month and he said the baby was O.K. He will look at him again on his return to Banda. We are thankful to the Lord for bringing him here for each of these months in a baby’s life are most important; and then in September we are expecting to welcome Pearl Hiles, our nurse, for she has passed that difficult medical exam in Brussels and can come as soon as she has transportation.
Now let me tell you how thankful we are to you for your kind hospitality. It was so good of you to keep us and you took such good care of all of our needs. I did enjoy the children so much. Whenever I bathed the baby I think how cute they all were when they watched. Won’t they be thrilled when they have a baby of their own to help bathe. How carefully they will hand you each garment and how gently they will pat him (or her!). I still remember that delicious white cake with a fudge frosting!
Will you kindly convey my thanks to Mary for the happy time we had in her home, too. We hope the ‘worms’ are all gone now and everyone is healthy again. We heard that the Spees were in Africa, and I am sure that makes you all glad. I would love to see Ellen again. She is a dear girl.
Ione concludes with an offer of returned hospitality.
Whilst Ione sends her mother a dollar bill, Hector sends Dr Becker 2800 Belgian francs for services rendered and that fee was with a reduction for being missionaries. Hector does not mention an exchange rate. However, Ione tells friends that 20$ is the equivalent of 900 Belgian francs. Friends in America had sent the Macmillan’s50 dollars which arrived at Oicha when they did and must have helped with some of their expenses – which was probably 2250 Belgian francs.
Once back at Bongondza, mission work becomes a priority as we see in a letter from Ione to a friend and supporter in Detroit on 26th July 1947:
I guess it has been some time since you have heard from our part of the world. Today my husband was reading Popular Mechanics and found something there that he needed quite badly for the work shop. He said, “Whom do you know in Detroit who could go personally and order these things?” And immediately I thought of you! Would it be too much trouble SOMETIME when you are in the vicinity to go to the company indicated on the enclosed clipping and put in an order for the three items checked? (plus free Workshop Guide)
In this same mail we are asking our Mission Sec’y to send you the money from our allowance when you send the bill for cost of mailing, etc. Her name is: Miss Marian Hutchinson, 1150 N. 63rd St., Phila 31, Pa.
I trust this will not entail too much trouble. Don’t try to pay for it yourself; just find out the total cost and get the money from Philadelphia. It is necessary to tell the company to be sure to send the tools in a wooden box. If you wish to have them send via Keating, 90 Broad St., N.Y. as the Guild Girls did a box one time that would be advisable.
Now, Betty, all this business and I have not told you yet that we have a baby boy, Kenneth Reed McMillan, weight 8 lbs, born June 19th. We are very happy parents and do praise the Lord for this little one to bless our home. We traveled a long way to get him, about 700 miles to the A.I.M. hospital where Dr. Becker could care for us. We saved three days of the journey by taking a plane over one stretch. We came back the same way and the poor little baby had to endure first extreme cold in the plane and then extreme heat in the car from Stanleyville here. But he got along all right.
It seems so good to get back to the station. The natives have been bringing gifts of eggs and peanuts for the past two weeks and tip-toeing in to see the baby in his bed. He is the only little white child for many miles around just now and is quite a curiosity. The women tell me I should feed him every time he cries; last night I spoke in the prayer meeting at church and when we were finished the ladies almost pushed me out and said, “Go and take care of your baby now!” They never put their babies down; they say that one mother did one time while she worked in her garden and a monkey came and picked it up and ran up the tree with it. If they hadn’t gotten excited and annoyed the monkey he might have returned it, but when they made a fuss and came after him, he threw down the baby and leaped away. Needless to say the baby was killed.
Pray for our new semester in the station school beginning Aug. 4th and for the Harvest Festival or Matondo on the 10th. At that time we hope to dedicate Kenneth along with a native child. We’ll be glad to hear from you soon. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Ione is not just a mother but an Auntie and she writes letters to nieces and nephew – in these letters she tries to engage and share things that might be of interest as the following exerts show:
Thanks so much for your two letters. Also for the diaper. The baby surely needs a lot of them. I guess Jimmie does, too. I am so glad that you did so well in the seventh grade. No doubt you have passed by now. I am writing this letter all in one paragraph just in case I might have room for notes for Lawrence and Ruth. I do love to hear from you all and wish that I could write to you more often. If ever I can send them with someone going home, I will send you some ivory elephants, but failing that, I can bring them when I come in 1949. Because you mentioned cats in your letter I am sending a little poem. It’s about cats but when I read it I think especially about Jimmie and Kenneth for they are little lives just begun.
“I love all woolly, long-legged lambs that frisk across the meadow;
I love all soft, new kittens made of mew and purr and shadow;
All colts and calves and kids and cubs that frolic in the sun;
And piglets, pups and chicks and ducks – I love them every one!
In short, I love all little things, all wee and warm and furry things,
All baa- and coo- and purr-y things, All cause-their-mothers-worry things
Whose lives have just begun!”
Dear Ruth and Lawrence,
Just this week your two letters arrived after travelling for two months. I did enjoy them very much. I showed them to the boy who cooks for us and the one who washes our clothes. If you were here you would not have so much housework to do, but you would get tired quicker because of the climate. We take naps every day after dinner. If Lawrence were here he might enjoy helping Uncle Hector in the workshop. Today one of the native boys finished making a cute little kiddie car for Kennie. Uncle Hector has been trying to get a bicycle motor to work so that he could really go places on his bicycle. He cycled all the way here from Kole which is about 17 miles away and he was pretty tired. Just now the car has a part being repaired in Stanleyville.
Your Mother will be glad to know that even tho’ we are so far from a town or a doctor, one happened to stop here this week on his way to take a month’s course in Stanleyville at the laboratory there. So he could check up on Kenneth’s health (it was all right), and he will go back in a month’s time so he will look at him again. Isn’t the Lord good to bring a doctor right to our door? And the month after that we’ll probably have a nurse here to stay, for Pearl Hiles passed her medical course in Belgium and can come here as soon as she gets a boat. Isn’t that grand? Won’t you pray for us especially now in this dark rainy season when so many people get pneumonia. Little Kenneth takes his quinine every day; it is bitter but he does not mind; he takes it in liquid form. He has orange juice, too. Now may the Lord bless you all is my prayer. Lovingly, Ione
Now back at Bongondza, Ione resumes her letter writing to supporters back home which include thanks for gifts received and description of life in the jungle and baby Kenneth’s progress. To Ms Hess, Michigan, Ione writes:
Just yesterday I received notice of a gift of $7.00 from you which has been applied to my account as a personal donation. For this I thank you very, very much. You have been very faithful in remembering us here and I want you to know how much it is appreciated. With your last two gifts of $2.00 each I was able to buy in town (150 miles away!) some very useful things for the baby. This $7.00 will help us to get some extra food supplies the next time someone can bring them from Stanleyville or Buta. We try to stock up for about six months. The natives bring eggs to sell, as well as native greens, squash, tomatoes, onions, peanuts, lemons. Sweet potatoes can be dug up most anywhere as well as manioc root which we eat frequently. We have bananas, oranges, pineapple, lettuce, leaf cabbage, carrots (sometimes) in our own gardens. Meat is scarce but will be more plentiful when the shells come for our guns and we can get more of the many animals running thru the forest. I cleaned and oiled the guns this week ready in case this mail might bring them. A Mr Bemis who has a radio shop in Pontiac has supplied the guns as well as the shells.
I find it very interesting to work out a schedule which includes him and gets the Lord’s work done, too. I have classes in the boys’ school which I fit around his bath and feeding times, and I can oversee the work at the hospital and get out to the villages as well. My husband has made a baby carriage which we think will be quite adequate for these Bumpy roads; it has rubber tires, ball bearings and knee action! Little Kenneth seems quite content to go anywhere in it, and the mosquito net protects him from insects and black hands which would love to touch him but carry disease.
The first village I took him to is the one adjoining our station, named Bongondza. An old man of the village clapped his hands and said, “We shall call this child ‘Bongondza’, for is he not our child?” They all laugh at him because Kenneth has a lack of hair in the same spot as his daddy! The women are keen to see how I care for him, as there is not any other white child anywhere around, and some have imitated us by providing a net for their baby, giving it drinking water, and even putting on a diaper, which is never done usually among native mothers. Perhaps we can show them also how to teach their little ones to love and serve the Lord.
I would like to hear from you and to have a picture if you have one. Thank you again for your many kindnesses. Lovingly, Ione
Two days later, Ione writes to Mr Gowdy at Three Hills Alberta:
We have received three fine letters from you and it is about time to write an answer. We do have some news, too, for on June 19 our little Kenneth Reed McMillan was born. He is a real joy to us and we praise the Lord for him.
The picture enclosed is of Hector tucked into the doorway of a pygmy hut. He paid the pygmies a visit one day while we were at Oicha at the A.I.M. hospital. They are interesting little people. Did you know their babies when they arrive are the size of an ordinary native baby?
We are enjoying the Lord’s blessings. Souls are being saved. We had a filled church and somewhat overflowing on the last Sunday (the church seats 600) when we celebrated the Harvest Festival or Thanksgiving. The natives brought gifts to the front while we sang. The space in front of the altar rail was filled with peanuts, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, native squash, eggs, etc. Some even brought spears, and several of Hector’s carpenters bro’t little stools. When they don’t have many francs these gifts take their place. There are money gifts as well, amounting to 900 francs, about $20.
Hector has been very busy with the several building projects in progress just now. A native meeting house was just finished, and a dwelling is going up, to be used for a while for a new missionary coming out, and then it will go the natives head teacher
I am working in the boys’ school teaching music, handwork and have the Sunday school. I have the church choir, too, and they have white robes which add to the ‘dignity’ of the service. Then there are the Child Evangelism classes, but I have not resumed those yet. I have gotten to the third village with the baby carriage and as soon as I can get to the fourth I can gather the children there. One’s strength comes back gradually but surely with constantly ‘getting out’ and doing things.
May the Lord richly bless you and keep you well in your service for Him. Yours in Him, Ione
The 16th August is a writing day: to Dad and Archie, Ione writes:
Well, now that we have had our baby for two months, you must be wondering how he is, and if anyone asks you about the McMillan grandson, tell them that he is fat and flourishing. He is gaining even more than the “books” say he should, laughs (not out loud yet, tho’), and plays with a rattle. His eyes are more definitely blue now, but his features and head continue to look quite like Archie. That is nice, for Uncle Archie is the only ‘real’ uncle that he has! He has many aunties’ husbands but only one Uncle. The picture we are enclosing was taken about a week after he was born. Perhaps we’ll have one of the baby carriage to send next time. That is a real masterpiece (I must brag about my husband’s handiwork!) with its rubber tires, ball bearings and knee action. It is of lovely red wood, and since it has been varnished it is quite stunning. The baby spends most of the day in it and we are able to get out over these rough roads with him with a minimum of bumps for him. The villagers love to have him visit them. They call him the Bongondza baby, ‘our child’. We are glad they feel he is theirs, too.
Today Hector finished ten double desks in hard wood for the evangelists’ school and the advanced boys’ school. He enjoys working with his four carpenters, all Christians. They have been out in meetings together and I think will go hunting together too. The desks are very sturdy and the teachers are glad to have them. These fellows are preparing to teach and preach in the native villages all around. They spend a couple of years here and then they are stationed somewhere. Recently a woman has gone into the classes, the wife of a fellow in the advanced boys’ school. And when an examination was given, she excelled them all.
I have been enjoying classes in the boys’ school. We are working on “Fairest Lord Jesus”, a lovely hymn in four parts, in the music classes. And for handwork some of them are learning to sew, some doing raffia mats, some making model brick houses, some weaving grass portfolios for their books. I have charge of the boys’ Sunday school now and will be meeting with the boys who teach the various classes once a week. There are over 100 boys.
This week I cleaned the two guns getting them ready for the shells that should be coming in the next mail. We haven’t had meat (except from tins and an occasional chicken) for a long time and it will be fun for Hector to go hunting. One is a Winchester 30-30 and the other a revolver Smith and Wesson 38. The natives are getting quite anxious to get going. They hunt with nets and traps. I don’t suppose Hector will try for anything bigger than antelopes or wild pigs, but there are elephants and leopards around. I think I would rather go with him than to sit home wondering if he got the animal or the animal got him!
We are so thankful to the Lord for His continued blessing. He has bro’t us to a pleasant place and given us a work which we love to do, and now has given us a dear little baby. We have a wonderful Lord. May He continue to be with you and keep you well and happy. Lovingly, Ione
Hector writes to Dr Brown who stayed with the Macmillan’s on his way to Stanleyville, Kisangani and is expected back, with a shopping list; Hector obviously knows the shop well and perhaps does not altogether trust the Doctor with tools for a manual trade:
How is your course coming on? You are probably very fluent in French by now!
Since you will be stopping in here on your way home maybe you could bring us a few things. Mr Jenkinson will be writing as well but I will try to describe what I would like.
In the Cotrexy hardware store you will notice on the lower shelf of the counter in front of the long shelves, some big rectangular bars of babbit or lead (or maybe solder). Anyway it seems to be what I can use for a mould. If you could purchase five small bars or three large ones.
In the same store you might try to order a keg of nails. We use roofing nails for our shingles. They are about 1-1/2” long with a big flat head (see cut). There is another kind with a rounded head but they are for tin.
In the SIGIS hardware store, between Parris’s and Mr Comidy you might try to get us 5 kilos of 1-1/2 or 2” nails for small work. I think they rate them about 4 or 5 cms.
I hope this will not trouble you too much. I’ll enclose a blank check.
We will be waiting to entertain you. Yours in Christ, Hector McMillan
A week later and Ione is writing again, first to a fellow missionary, Joan Pengilly who is home on furlough. Joan’s trip home has helped to recover from illnesses acquired whilst in the Belgian Congo, and after comments on Joan’s health, Ione fills her in with details of life at Bongondza:
We have had the nicest Matondo (Harvest festival) ever. The church was more than filled and people bro’t their gifts to the front during the service which made it very impressive. There was a memorial for Tasembo and we dedicated our baby at that time. No doubt you have had Kinso’s form letter telling all about it.
No doubt you knew that Tasembo had been at his own village for some time as he felt the end was near, and so did we all. His passing was just as one would wish for him. The only heartache is for Alisa, for she failed him in his last few weeks by going off to Kole and sinning with someone. Her lot was hard, but if she had only stayed true to him until the last! As it is now she has to take a lot from his relatives for they have her imprisoned there, so to speak, until her relatives come with some wealth. Kinsos could have bro’t her here had she behaved herself.
Your school boys are growing up so fast. You would not know Tele and Ngbayo, and Owibo, well he is ever so stocky and manly looking. I guess a good many of your fellows have gone into Machini’s class, the 3rd & 4th year. And Ndengbi and Momotibangi are in Verna’s school getting everything in French. I learned from Verna that Ndengbi and Loren (the fellow who went to work with Owibo) want to be nurses and will finish their work here and then go to Yakusu. They will sign a statement that they will come back and work here afterward for a certain number of years.
We are trying to have something to show at Christmas time in handwork. You remember the native village you started them on last year? Well, I am trying to have one class make a miniature Bongondza in real little bricks. They have been drawing maps for three weeks now and are ready to clean the clay for the bricks.
Ione also writes to another supporter, Mrs DeRyke at Grand Rapids:
Last week’s mail brought us a real treat – a whole carton of gum and the best kind at that! We surely do appreciate your sending it and we want you to know that we are having a grand time ‘chewing’ all we wish now! That was very thoughtful of you and I want to thank you ever so much.
This week the shells came for our guns and we are all keen for some ‘fresh meat’, so that means someone must bring it from the forest. Hector took Balemaga out a couple of days ago to ‘try’ the guns (the smaller one) on some monkeys.
I have been asking a number of people in several villages about a woman whose name I have forgotten; she accepted Christ here a few weeks ago and when she told me her village she pursed her lips and pointed with them as so often natives do instead of saying or pointing with the hand. And I tho’t I had the right village but when I went there they knew nothing about her. But in searching for her I found another woman who had recently taken the Lord and we had a nice conversation. I may never see the first woman again, but the Lord knows where she is and whether her profession was the real thing.
I have been given the boys’ Sunday school now so that means preparation for many months to come and teaching the eight boys the lesson in advance so that they can give it the following Sunday. We need pictures for these boys to use for their classes, so if you or your friends had old Sunday school papers or calendars I would appreciate it if you would start saving up for me. It would be nice to have duplicates for each of the classes, but if I have a number of similar ones I can use them profitably. If you were to put them in an ordinary brown envelope and send them like a letter I should think they would not cost so much as the other package.
The baby is well and growing fast. He is two months old now. We are very happy with little Kenneth. The Beginners’ Dept. of the First Bapt. Ch. Pontiac have decided that he is to be their little missionary. Isn’t that lovely of them?
It is time to feed the baby and he is crying so I will close now. May the Lord richly bless you. In Christ, Ione
Fitting in with baby feeds, Ione writes to her sister Lucille and family:
Thanks for the card and two letters from Ruth and Lawrence. I surely do enjoy hearing frequently from the children. How about a word now and then from Daddy? You don’t know how much enjoyment we have gotten from those strings you sent. We keep the guitar pretty busy, and whenever we sing the natives murmur and sigh afterward. They never clap, but just make funny little satisfied sounds or talk aloud to their neighbours.
Ione expands on Tasembo, who was mentioned in the letter to Joan Pengilly, he was a patient Dr Westcott treated for TB in the spine, who went on to share his faith on an ‘outstation’ where he had 70 converts.
He came in for the Christmas holiday and when he walked back to his station, he must have overdone it, for he had a relapse of his old condition (he had been not too strong ever and Botiki had treated him many times.) and had to be bro’t here. Some folk in Richmond, Va., spent $15 to Airmail some Promin, a special medicine, for him, and Botiki gave it to him. But nothing seemed to help and he finally asked to be taken to his family’s village to die there. His passing was quiet, and they did not even know just when he died, it was so peaceful. His last words were a prayer. We miss him greatly, but he is better off with the Lord. Less than a week after his death, two young men appeared on our station, and walked into the evangelists’ school. They announced that they were Tasembo’s converts and wished to take his place as evangelists. One will fill the gap at his station until he can be spared to come in for more training, and the other is fixing up some marriage troubles and then will come in for the school. Isn’t it good that the Lord has raise up some to take Tasembo’s place? His testimony will continue to make a vital impression on this whole community, we feel.
Ione describes the harvest festival and then concludes with the part of the service of dedication for Kenneth:
We dedicated little Kenneth Reed at that time, along with a native baby, Etienne Lomea, wee son born the same week as ours. He was good but the little black baby cried real hard, and everyone around was whispering to the mother to hurry up and feed him. She had a new dress on and the neck was small, so it was quite a job for her to bend over to get her dress screwed around so that she could satisfy the baby. By that time the ceremony was nearly finished. It has been fun comparing that baby with ours. He weighed the same at birth but was one inch shorter. Now he weighs less and is still shorter, but can hold his head up without support and ours cannot. I guess I should start carrying Kenneth on my back! It might give him a stiff backbone. They both cry equally loud!
In a letter Hector write to Mr and Mrs Brubaker, he describes the baby’s reaction during the dedication service:
He was very quiet about it all. Mrs Jenkinson said afterwards that he has his mother’s ability to do the right thing at the right time! ! !
Ione’s letter to her mother spells out what day to day life is now like for her since the arrival of baby Kenneth:
I am sleepy very early these days, but now I am not missing so much sleep for the baby sleeps from 10 to 5 now and we have skipped his middle of the night feeding. My schedule is not too heavy, tho, and I can rest in the daytime. I have a hospital meeting each morning at 6:30, give the baby orange juice at 7:30, eat with Hector at 8, give the houseboys their orders and then bathe the baby and feed him. By that time it is 9:30 and I get ready for the music classes. I have three groups together at 10:30 in elementary music and three more groups at 11 for advanced. (I started the advanced group on chromatic scale today; I am teaching this in French). Since the classes are at the church and just at the foot of the hill on which we live, I leave the baby on the verandah, where I can hear if he cries. I feed him again just before we eat at 12 but try to give him water after that as well as sometime during the morning. I have handwork classes at 2 on Tues. and Thursday and leave him in his bedroom during that, but I am not very far away, and Hector is just next door at the shop and runs in to see him occasionally. Now that I have charge of the boys’ Sunday school I will be meeting with the 8 fellows who are teaching each Thurs at 3, but they will come to the verandah. At 4 each day we meet at Jenkinson’s for an hour of French and our white prayer meeting. I take the baby along for this and he sleeps or plays with his rattle out in the yard.
I am glad that you have had some visits. We’ll be waiting to hear the results of your applications for work. Several of the propositions sound good. Be assured that we are praying that the Lord will lead you into the very place of His choosing.
Thanks for the dollar for Kenneth and the lovely letter. We will keep it for him to read when he is older. I just learned that it is illegal for us to send American cash from here, so I guess there will be no more dollar bills in any letters to you. And thanks for the birthday card.
The list of things in that box sounds ever so good. We can hardly wait to receive it. I had a letter from Agnes Sturman saying the little Beginners of the First Bapt. S.S. want to support little Kenneth. And the Third Philatheas want to send something, baby foods were suggested and then they tho’t the duty would be too high. They ask if we would rather have the money. Since there are so many good canned things in your box, I think I’ll tell them to send the money.
I hope Lucille lets you read my letter to her, for that contains the more general news of the work which I’m sure you would like to have. We have had a real blessed time these past two weeks. There have been souls saved, and two Christian young men in the boys’ school have offered their lives to train as Christian nurses. They will come back to our work after their training at Yakusu, near Stanleyville. We are so anxious to see Marcellyn. This is only a note to tell you we are all well and the baby is gaining. Lovingly in Christ, Ione & Hector
PS: Dearest Mother: Glad for your prayers and letters. Even the natives are talking about the letter you addressed to Kenneth. He is a dear sweet laddie. Your Son – Hector X
A day later, 23rd August 1947, a very excited Hector writes to Mr Bemis in Pontiac:
Good News ! ! ! ! THE SHELLS ARRIVED
Your July 27th letter was gratefully received last Wednesday Aug 20; and the same mail brought a nice heavy box in excellent condition. I met the native on the road between our place and Mr Jenkinson’s and knew that he had what we have been expecting for a long time. He came on over to our house while I went on to see Mr J. about something. While there another native came and said that the brick machine “had died”. So we both went down there and removed the broken part. Mr Jenkinson hadn’t had breakfast yet, so he went back home while I quickly gave instructions to one of the shop lads about fixing the machine, then I hurried over here and started unpacking the shells. I could hardly wait to get the screws out. Not a thing had moved inside; it was a splendid packing job. Ione was finishing bathing Kenneth and was just putting him back in bed when I asked her if she wanted to shoot off the first revolver shell. She came outside and took the gun, looked at it a few times. I asked her if she wanted me to shoot the first one but she was still confident. She held it up again and faltered; then handed it to me. Later she said that she began to think that she could look after the baby better than I could in case anything happened!! ! But I must give her credit for shooting the second one. I went over and got Mr Jenkinson (he was a corporal in the 1914-18 war). He said he couldn’t do anything with the revolver, but when we got a target up he came right close to the bull’s eye with the rifle; whereas I was lucky to even hit the paper. However practice will help. We have sent for a hunting license this mail and should have it next week.
Thanks ever so much ! ! ! !
The field glasses are in constant use, but the amplifier is giving a bit of trouble. It began to lose some of its volume and finally one night it quit all together. I remembered that you had said something in a letter, so I found it and noted that you suggested the trouble might be with the condenser across the plates of the rectifier. I tried the other vibrator but it didn’t work. I hack-sawed the rim off the old vibrator and saw that the points were a bit burned. Then I fastened the new condenser in place of the old one and put in the old vibrator and tried a record. It worked quite well. Then I decided to hack-saw the other rim off and see what was wrong. Evidently the moving up of one of the points was all it needed to get it started. I scotch-taped it together again and set up the machine but the volume was still low. I got out all the tubes and changed them one at a time but it still didn’t perk up. This was all going on about 10:30 at night. Ione had gone to bed and didn’t even hear me working. So now I don’t know where to look for trouble. I rather hate to run it this way. One of the choke coils seems to be oozing a little bit but that may be just the tropics. If I can’t remedy the trouble; there is one other alternative. I could use the motor to run the moving picture machine that we have operating now (16 mm); and use the power supply for a radio that we have here while another missionary is home on furlough. But I would have to have your advice about reducing the output voltage from 250 to 90. I did have the radio working on dry cells but four of five of the 4-1/2 volt battery played out. A car battery is much more practical since we have a charger.
So now I will wait to hear what you have to suggest.
Mr Bemis obviously replies to Hector’s quest for information, because Hector updates him on 26th October 1947 with the following:
Dear Mr. Bemis and Family,
I tried all the things you suggested in your former letter regarding the amplifier. I soldered the new condenser in; tried the spark from the 6V6 prongs 3 and 4, the latter was real sharp. But there was no hum on the 6SQ7 grid. I changed the magnetic pickup but there was only a slight increase in volume. You have to sit right beside the loudspeaker to hear it. So now I don’t know what to try. In the meantime Kenneth is giving us all the music we need ! ! ! !
I’m putting an outside chimney on a house for one of the single ladies. She bought a stove, and I’m fitting it up to heat water too. I really like plumbing about as well as any job.
I haven’t been out for about three weeks with the gun, but I may try it this week. By the way, the old native chief about three miles along the road caught a leopard in a wire trap. So there must be some others around. I still remember your request for a toe nail !!
Yours in His Love, Hector
The missionaries are reliant on friends and family at home sending monetary gifts as well as things to keep them going – like the shells for the guns. Hector writes to a friend that he is waiting for a ruler, but the subscription to the Delta magazine is working well and that he could use some rat poison. They also use a Montgomery Ward catalogue to order things they need and the catalogue is shared amongst the group; hector refers to Frances, Mary Carter and the Walbys.
Whilst Hector is writing his letter on the 23rd August, Ione is also writing but there is no record of the recipient, but it must be a supporter as Ione gives a great deal of detail about her work and signs off formerly as Mrs H MacMillan:
Yesterday and today have been very interesting, to me and to anyone who loves boys’ work. Their Sunday school meets each Sunday afternoon at 4, boys taking charge of the various classes and acting as Superintendent’s. It was thrilling to see over 100 boys gather when the bell was rung by a boy, all wearing their Sunday suits, white shirts with collar and pocket, and navy-blue shorts with two pockets (pockets are a very important item to them!). They have bro’t their everyday clothes in order to change after the meeting. Not very exciting, these everyday clothes; they could get them into one pocket with only a string hanging out. I saw one boy with a semblance of a comb fastened into his black curls, another with a neat bow tie at his neck. There was dear Anduma with the withered hand and the stammering tongue who led 9 people to Christ during the Christmas holiday. And there was Abraham with the withered foot, his walking stick at his side. Sitting there all dressed like they were one unit, a company, like soldiers, and they liked it. In the morning they had paraded together all along the paths of the station with drum, trumpets and cymbals, inviting the people to the 10 o’clock service. They were led then by little Samuel who twirled a stick like a real drum major. They like their school and they like their Sunday school, too.
Peter, the Sunday school Superintendent, rose dignifiedly and announced the opening hymns, and led them by beating time with his hand (Moody Bible Institute style!). There were several prayers and before they separated for their classes Peter raised his hand and said, “Friends, I beseech you today, again I beseech you, – when you come out of your classes, be prepared to put up your hands and tell us the story of the lesson. I wish to see every hand to go up when I ask.” There was the usual scurry of finding their classes; the teachers took the roll and prayed and proceeded with the lesson, the story of doubting Thomas. Four classes had the lesson taught in Libua, one in Bangala, and one in Kingwana. Pictures were shown in each of the classes to illustrate the lesson. When they came out they sang, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord,” in parts, led by Peter, and then came the aforesaid time for the hands to go up. But no one offered to tell the story. So Peter got a little desperate and waving his arms, said, “It may be hard for you to speak in Bangala, so you may give it in your own tongue. Tell the story in Libua, Bangala, Babari, Kingwana, or in French, and don’t think that your mistakes won’t be noticed, for do we not have a great teacher up here on the platform? (he waved elegantly toward Verna Schade, the criterion of all languages!!) After that there were a couple of short explanations in Libua, followed by one in Babari. The children giggled, for few of them knew Babari, but Peter clamped down on them hard. He said, “A few moments ago I was beseeching you talk, and now you are all talking at once! There was a prize of a wall picture to be given to the best explanation, and Peter graciously gave it to the Babari fellow, who is from distant parts. Then Peter proceeded to give his own interpretation of doubting Thomas, which was emphatically and elaborately punctuated by waving arms and shaking head. We thought he would never finish, but he finally wound up with, “And now I hope you’ll never doubt the Lord like Thomas did!”
There were not enough bushes for 100 boys to crouch behind while the exchange took place from Sunday clothes to loin cloth or shorts, but the ordeal went thru swiftly and efficiently and in a few minutes each one stood in line with folded suits ready to lay them away for another Sunday.
At noon before I had quite finished feeding the baby a great noise suddenly filled both doorways. Hector came in to wash for dinner and said, “I think there are a thousand boys waiting to see you.” I knew how to dispose of the larger number, for they wanted to carry off some magazines which had accumulated. The next consideration was the six boys who worked on our yard during their noon hour (they will receive trousers or a shirt as pay for their work). When I gave Madula his ‘piquet’ or spot in which to pull weeds, he whispered to me that this noon hour he wished to turn his heart to Jesus. So I told him to work while we ate our dinner and then I would call him to the front porch. There was a boy waiting for 3.50 francs’ pay for the leg of an antelope he had bro’t to us yesterday, and another with ten lemons to sell to me for .50 francs. The rest were told to adjourn to the front porch to join the others who had come to mend torn clothing. I got out material in tan, navy blue and white for patches, two scissors, thread and needles, pins, and cut and pinned on for the ones who don’t know how yet to arrange patches. Some trousers were nearly all patches and rags, but I would not discourage a mending job! They don’t have mothers to do it for them, so the next best thing is to teach them how to do it for themselves. Little Ansaka was quite proud of his handiwork until he discovered that he had attached one patch to both the front and back of his trousers!
When we finished eating, I called Madula and dealt with him in the presence of those who were sewing. They listened attentively, and before we were finished, the other five yard boys came around and joined the group to listen. Madula prayed and asked Jesus to come into his heart and several of the other boys who are Christians prayed. Then I told Madula to go after school and tell Bwana Kinso what had happened to him. As he was leaving I heard another boy say to him in the native tongue, “How goes it now, friend?” And Madula smiled and said, “It goes well.” Before the yard boys left I had a little talk with the non-Christians and spoke pretty plainly to one Ngayo who is a Christian and whom the Lord has marvellously healed, and yet he has a vicious temper. He took a boy right down and sat on him and on the white lady’s front porch, and even after she had shooed him off the porch he took him down again in her front yard. Anger is a temptation of the Devil and the overcoming Christian will not allow such a thing to rule him. “I will try to do better,” he said weakly, but I have a feeling that he will do it again.
The number of boys is steadily increasing and with it the responsibility. What these young fellows do later with their lives depends upon what they are doing now with them. “Even a Child in known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” Prov. 20:11. Pray that every one may receive Him, whom to know is life eternal. “And as many as receive him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Mrs H. McMillan
Ione’s sister Marcellyn, left the USA in April 1947 and was travelling to Africa via Belgium where she had to stay a short while to learn French. Being a missionary in the Belgium Congo required language skills as seen in the letter above, a variety of tribal dialects were spoken in this part of the country, however, as a Belgium colony, the main recognised language was French and without it, foreigners have difficulty in communicating. Ione has been longing for family members to join her and finally, Marcellyn is on her way. Ione hopes are that her sister has any easier transfer in than she did and knows from experience what it is like to wait for belongings to arrive, this next letter gives insight into the difficulties and the bureaucracy involved.
Dearest little Sister,
Greetings in Christ!
While we were at Oicha Kinso sent a letter to Pearl with a message for you. So just in case it might not have reached you, we will repeat it. We have 2 letters from Keating here, plus 2 from Otraco (the transport company in Congo); the latter one asks from you a detailed account of whether your items on your baggage list are new or used; also stating that when you have your carte d’Immatriculation you can have your baggage sent on from Matadi. But since you cannot get the carte d’Immatriculation until you arrive at Matadi, we can’t have your baggage sent on to the station. Kinso suggested that we hold these documents concerning your baggage until we know by what port you will arrive and have them waiting at the coast, for instance if you come in at Matadi, he will have them at the Swedish Mission at Matadi. There is another letter here from a Maurice Fletcher. Hector has gone over to ask Kinso if you should have your baggage sent here or to Ekoko.
Last week Kinsos made a trip to Boyulu and the Field Committee met to decide some issues as the moving of Dennis Parry from Maganga to Boyulu, and the new man (Allan Nicholls) on his way now from Australia’s going to Boyulu for a time; I think he will become the Field Treasurer as he is an accountant. And then it was decided that you would come here for a time to get the language, etc., and then go to Ekoko. I think you will be glad of that since you have felt all along that the Lord wanted you there. It may mean that you will be here as long as a year, however, which will please us very much. We hope you can stay indefinitely with us in our house, but it may be that you and Pearl may be together in a little new house that is being built between the girls’ school and the church (Pearl will know where). But that house is not finished yet, and Pearl’s house is not begun yet! Such is building in the Congo. This little house being built will eventually belong to Machini, the head boy’s teacher. It has six rooms and a nice cement floor.
There are so many things I would like to ask you, mainly, – when are you leaving Belgium, and is Pearl coming with you? We are simply astounded that Pearl really got thru that exam. We heard via Mary Baldwin in Philadelphia who writes to Verna. I really didn’t have faith to EXPECT that it could happen, but our Lord doeth ALL things well. Perhaps I am selfish to want Pearl here soon, but it will be such a comfort to have a nurse to keep one eye on little Kenneth. This week Dr. Brown of A.I.M. passed thru here and looked at him, and he will stop again when he returns in a month from his laboratory stage at Stan. His station is at Banda, the other side of Buta. When you are in Leo (Leopoldville or Kinshasa), if you come that way, you must get one of the new mission maps of Congo.
It does not seem possible that perhaps in just a few weeks my own little sister will be right here with me. It is so good of the Lord to grant this joy. I am sorry it is Mother’s loss, tho, for you to go. I am sure she is lonely. And now she is visiting around and has nothing definite in mind for her future. It is very hard. We must pray much for her. I wish I could send her more money.
Hector is such a wonderful husband. You will know now what a grand brother-in-law he can be, too. He is so tired tonight, yet he is so patient with me and loving. I am feeling very good but get tired a little earlier than I would like. Please keep us posted as to your plans. Kinso’s car is on its last legs, in fact just now it is not on them even, for a part is in Stan being repaired. It may be that we cannot come as we tho’t we would. When you arrive, we will give you a nice long rest and lots of loving. Lovingly yours, Ione
Now that Ione is a missionary with a baby, she is made aware of the cultural differences pertaining to childcare as we see in the following extract of a letter sent to the Hough’s in Toronto on 5th September 1947:
Won’t it be fun when we come home to compare the two babies? Perhaps Sharon can teach Kenneth some nice Canadian manners. He has no little white friends here, but the Africans seem to be fond of him. They call him the little white nose. Their pet name for tiny unnamed infants is Songo, or nose. I don’t know why, but they are all “Songoes”, and so our baby is Songo Mondeli (white nose). They do not understand why Kenneth eats at regular hours, is not picked up whenever he cries, etc. And when I spoke at the evening prayer service at the church recently and left the baby at the house, which is just across the field, the women crowded around afterward and said, “Hurry, now get back to your baby.” They don’t ever separate themselves from their babies even for a moment. In this forest and in their wee houses one can see that they have reasons to be afraid. Leopards and elephants and chimpanzees are not far off. But we have committed our baby to the Lord and trust Him to protect us all from harm and danger. I had been a little concerned because we are so far from a doctor or nurse, but the Lord is so good. A Doctor passed by here just after we arrived and then made a return journey just the other day. He examined the baby both times and it was good to know everything is fine. And before October finished we hope to welcome a nurse to our station. Yours in His Glad Service, Ione
That same day, Hector writes to his family at Avonmore, with yet more detail of life at Bongondza:
Dear Dad, Archie and Jean (if she is home):
If I had written to you every time I thought of you, the mail would be quite plentiful. But there are so many other things to attend to. This is Friday evening, and the mail is gathered in tomorrow night, so we naturally try to have some letters answered. Just when Ione and I got settled at our desks in the office. I opened the right-hand drawer to get some stationery, I saw a mouse’s tail disappearing over the back of the drawer. By the time I got up to move the couch away from the wall, he was on the floor and down his hole to the basement. Ione grabbed the Coleman lamp and we hit out for the basement. The nearest stick along the way was the handle of the flyswatter, I had made some time ago. But when we got down there, he had gotten to some snug corner and we couldn’t find him. (A few weeks ago we saw another one in the office, and we got down in time to see him running along a wire on the basement ceiling. Ione was the one with the stick that time and she smote him nose and tail). But there was something else that was interesting. A great big spider was over in the corner. It is only the second one of that kind that I have ever seen. He has eight long legs, can walk backwards, sideways or front wards; has a pair of three-inch feelers; and most amazing of all, two jointed grasping arms with claws on the ends. I wanted to see him in action; so I saw an old hard-shelled bug lying on his back and pushed him over to the spider. It was better than a circus to see the spider take slaps at the bug then jump back. Of course, I was cheering for the bug, and pushing him into the fight. Finally, the spider got right back against the wall and the bug walked right over him. Ione had come back up to the office, and after killing the spider, I did the same and now I will try to get on with the letter.
- Thanks for the last letter, Dad, and the interesting clippings. That was a good picture of you and Angus John. You really do not look much older than when I saw you last. The announcement of Clifford’s wedding was a very pleasant surprise. After I got over the shock of it, I began to think that they are pretty well matched.
- Thanks too for the gifts of money for your grandson. And a GRAND Son he is too. We just love him as much as we dare. Mr and Mrs Jenkinson have never had a family, so they think the world of Kenneth. (The Jenkinson’s and Kerrigan’s became honorary grandparents to all the missionary children whose parents served with the UFM and all the other missionaries were called Aunty and Uncle by all the children, making them part of a huge extended honorary family). A Sunday School class in Ione’s church in Pontiac have adopted him as their little missionary and are sending $10 a month for his support. We have just received our Sept-Oct allowances but I suppose your gift just missed being included this time. However, it will be coming along.
- We want to thank Jean for the parcel we received last mail day. It was the first thing we opened. The Duck was ready for a swim, the cute little brush and comb just match Ione’s set. The plastic sheet will find its place in the carriage. Thanks ever so much for my car and trailer. (By the way if Archie wants to sell a hog or two we would be glad for the proceeds to be put into a car fund for Bongondza station. Miss Rutt has given $250; another gift from England of $125. Miss Viola Walker who is now at Grimsby on furlough, has just sent in $50 to the Toronto Office. So with a little bit more we should be able to get something soon. We have asked Mr Pudney to see both the Chev. and International about a suburban carryall. The Chev costs about $1200 in America; but it takes about $600 to get it out to Africa. Mr Jenkinson’s car is just about worn out. The front member that holds the front spring began to break up and finally we sent it to Stanleyville. It was quite a job to get it out. The piece was there for a month. Last week I got a chance to go in with a plantation man and came back with a Doctor Brown, a few days later. The repair man had not touched it; so, I told him what to do to the car and it is running again. But it is a shame to have to put so much time on it, when there are so many other things to do.
- While I am on the car business I might as well tell you that as soon as the Ford was running again, Mr Jenkinson and I made a 60 mile journey to a government post, yesterday. We had received an invitation from the administrator to come and meet a delegation of Belgian Senators who were passing through. The conversations were all in French so I stayed pretty close to Mr Jenkinson. But it was a splendid opportunity to meet these officials and let them ask about our Protestant work here in Congo. We got home again just before dark. The car gave us no trouble at all.
- Ione’s sister Marcellyn will be leaving Belgium this month for here. We will be very glad to welcome her along with Pearl Hiles, our nurse. We haven’t a house finished for them yet, but it is about half way along. It is so difficult to get these people here to work. (The concept of ‘work’ is a little alien to the tribal forest people of the Belgian Congo; the people Hector would like to ‘work’ only usually work to satisfy a given need, that is have shelter and hunt for food; once their basic human needs are met – they stop ‘working’.) They move about the way Ed Ball use to; (Only they don’t call for MORE SYRUP). All the buildings must be in brick and cement to be permanent. It’s a long process from the clay to bricks; the drying; burning; hauling and building. (In fact, they run out of bricks and building is delayed whilst they build another kiln and fire the bricks. Hector also plans to put in venetian windows and explains it thus:
“The glass is put in at a slant, so that the breeze can come in but the rains are kept out. We try to get long panes that can be embedded in cement on the sides of the window and in that way eliminate any woodwork, which white ants just love to eat.”
But I must say that the carpenter shop is getting well equipped. The band saw I rigged up is most useful and a great time saver. I’m working now on a 16” planer. I have poured molten lead around the crankshaft of an old model T, and put that back into the engine, turned it upside down, and the planer head just comes up enough to make the cut. I have to make the blades yet. A fellow wanted to sell me the head and blades for $200; but this is cheaper and more interesting.
(In another letter Hector states, “Since most of my time is spent with the carpenters, I naturally try to get things as convenient as possible….the crankshaft is built up with a babbit, to make the planer head. I have yet to make the blades from car springs. They say it is a heart breaking job, but I guess the secret is to leave them in the fire for about two hours; take them out for straightening and drilling and then put temper back in. If it is a failure I will probably send to America for some”.) And just tonight I thought of an idea for running six long saws (like our crosscut only for ripping) off a six-cylinder crankshaft. But this is for some future day. (Hector states in another letter that about 90% of his missionary work is manual labour.)
Here is the end of the page and I’ve just got started. Goodbye for now. Love & prayers. Hector Ione & Kenneth
Evidently, the prayers for a new car are heard as when Ione writes to fellow missionaries’ (Frances and Mary) at Ekoko; the possibility of a new car is mentioned. Ione also asks about Mary Carter – who was expecting her fourth child, in fact Michael was born on the 8th September 1947. As with other letters, there is mention of Kenneth’s progress:
He is becoming more and more dear to us, for he recognizes us and smiles and twinkles ever so nicely. He is sitting straighter and straighter and can hold up his head when he is on his tummy. Next week we’ll start him on solid foods. We are thankful to the Lord that altho’ we are far from a doctor or nurse he is doing so well.
It is in a letter Hector sends his sister that we learn the lengths they had to go to register his birth formerly:
Dear Irene, Ken and Barbara:
We sent to Leopoldville to have Kenneth registered as a British subject. There is a Trade Commissioner there who has just taken on the job for Canadians. He said that the register had just arrived a few days before he received our documents, so Kenneth will be the FIRST name in the book.
Yours as ever, Hector
Gifts, a wool quilted comforter, arrive for the new baby, Ione writes to her friend and supporter Agnes Sturman on the19th September 1947:
I do not know which group is responsible but hope that you know and can convey my appreciation. Tell the ladies the quilt is reposing right now on the bed which Westcott’s left us and its colour scheme goes nicely with the spread which the Loyal’s gave me. It is just the thing for these damp rainy days. I know that a quilt means a lot of labour by many hands and I want to express my thanks to whomever is responsible for such a fine gift…..
I had a nice letter from a radio listener, Mrs Hess, who has sent $2 gifts about every other month, and recently sent $5 extra for the baby.
Ione always includes some description of the ‘mission work’:
This Wednesday I met with the women at 2 P.M. and instead of a lesson on bathing a baby as I had planned, I went with the entire group to a village where a woman had died in the forest. She had gone with a group to get fish in the forest and a storm came up, one of those quick heavy windy rains, and the others ran and left her. She lost her way and when she stopped to put down her pot she somehow fell, and that’s the way they found her dead, with no wound or even an indication of a snake bite. She was not a Christian, nor were many of the people in that village. I enjoyed that half-hour walk with the 26 women. They chattered in Libua which I am still trying to understand. When we arrived, we sang and Botiki’s wife gave a splendid message which was directed toward the unsaved. They were very quiet until they were well out of hearing of the village and then they started to be jolly again and they laughed all the way home. It was good to see these hard-working women who carry such heavy loads of wood and water and food, without burdens for a little while. And the fellowship seemed so refreshing to them. Some of them are really beautiful and so neat and clean. They have come a long way from the dirty pagan women which Mrs Jenkinson found here 14 years ago.
Finally, there is a picture of Ione and baby Kenneth and the hand-built pram Hector constructed which are included in a letter sent by Hector to his sister Florence on 21st September 1947:
Dear Florence and family:
You always write such good letters; and it is a shame that we don’t take more time to answer. As usual it is just time to wrap up the mail. The native is waiting on the porch to carry the sack 17 miles into Kole where the transport truck picks it up tomorrow morning.
I am laid up for a few days. That same knee that went out on me when I was in the Air Force played me up yesterday. I had just fixed up standards for volley ball and was teaching some of the natives how to play when I landed with my leg off balance and it crumpled under me. I have it bandaged up and am using crutches; but it should be all right in a few days.
I am enclosing a picture of Ione and Kenneth, just a few days after he was born; and one of the baby carriage, with knee action on all four wheels and rubber tires. It was lots of fun to make it, rather than paying $150 for one we saw in Stanleyville. All I had to buy for this was four coil springs and the hose.
We’re glad to hear that Dougie is improving. You do well to care for your family. It is good to have medical help so nearby. Kenneth has been healthy thus far so we are thankful to the Lord.
I guess I better close for now. May the peace of God rule in your heart and mind….
Yours as ever, Hector, Ione & Kenneth
October 3rd 1947 is yet another writing day for Hector and Ione. Hector writes to Aunt Katie and Uncle Elmer and mentions the families planned return for furlough in a year’s time. Ione write to her mother:
You seem to anticipate my needs at just the right time. The little ‘Binky’ comb is ever so useful too. He (Kenneth) has less hair now than at first and it is lighter, between a cinnamon brown and mouse colour! His eyes are a beautiful bright blue. We are so fond of him, Mother, and so thankful that he is all right. I pray daily that the Lord will keep him in good health, for we do not have a nurse or doctor for such a long distance away. And the Lord has been so good to keep him very well, and in such a pretty pink colour, and his milk is still sufficient. I have started him on oatmeal and strained prunes besides his usual orange juice. He takes everything well and shouts for more. He knows us now and laughs so nicely. He gets out every day in his ‘deluxe’ baby carriage that Hector made.
You need not be anxious anymore about our leaving the baby alone for he is quite all right. There always seems to be some way to manage when I have a class. If it is cloudy I can take him along, but when the sun is bright between around 10 and 4 I do not very often take him out unless it is to go to a building that has a good roof, for one day he got a little too much and it reddened him somewhat. And it is easy to get prickly heat here. But when I must leave him I call to Hector on my way out and he comes right over and either works around the house or goes back and forth. Some days Olive Bjerkseth has had her class here and could watch him. But my classes have too many children to bring them here to the house. You may be sure, Mother, that after waiting so long for Kenneth, we would not neglect him.
Mother have you any information about Grandpa, for three letters have come back which I sent. Do you have a more recent address than the one you gave me when I was home? I have been wondering what has happened to him? And Doris has not written me for a year. I would like to know whether her baby has come and how she is. Maybe you have heard, tho. We are waiting, too, to hear from Marcellyn, for we still have no idea when she will leave Belgium. I do hope that she has enough money to get away from there this month. We are so anxious to see her. There is some suggestion by Jenkinson’s that she may go on to Ekoko in time to begin their spring term in the school. That is, if she gets there by November, so that she can learn the language by Feb. I’d hate to see her go so soon, but I am sure she will be anxious to get to the place where the Lord has called her. We are hoping to see the two girls from Ekoko here for Christmas, or rather just after for a little holiday and if Marcellyn is here they can get acquainted then.
I am so glad that you have had opportunities to witness this past summer. It must be very hard for you not knowing yet what he wishes you to do. You have had many trials, but I am sure the Lord will see you thru and lead you to just the very thing he has planned for you. Hector and I love you very much and we long for you to have His very best. Keep looking up! God is still on the throne. Don’t forget to pray for us. Just think a year from now we will be getting ready to come home. You’d better get that cottage ready!! Lovingly in Christ, Ione
Hector, in his capacity of mission leader whilst the Jenkinson’s are not on site, also writes to Jim Carter, the Field Secretary, at Boyulu;
We held a station meeting on Sept 30, and this letter is to pass on to you the main points of our discussion.
- We all realized the importance of a conference and would be quite in favour of having one.
- If it is agreeable to the other stations we would be very pleased, here at Bongondza, to extend a hearty invitation to be our guests.
- A word of caution was voiced as well. It seems that we have come to a time of financial stress; and the home headquarters might consider it more advisable to avoid extra travelling.
- It was suggested that we await the easing of the financial situation, and an improvement of our transport facilities.
It will be interesting to know what the others have suggested. I’m sure we all want to do the wisest thing, so we will continue to pray about the matter.
Yours in Christ, Hector McMillan
PS: Congratulations on the new son (Michael). We are all very happy for his safe arrival.
It is evident, from a letter Hector writes to Dr Becker that there are some things he just cannot fix or repair:
This letter is long overdue. Every mail day found me in the same fix, as regard repairing the (volt) meter. I had it apart a while ago and looked up some hairsprings, but didn’t get around to fitting them in. So this afternoon I set about it again. It almost breaks my heart to have to tell you that I can’t seem to get the right kind of springs. I had one almost fastened at one end but the solder won’t hold on a steel spring. Then I tried rewinding the originals, but all the life seems to be gone from them. So I guess I would have been wiser to leave them with you in the first place. The factory is the best place for repairs, unless one had the spare parts. But then it needs to be tested for accuracy. Sorry to inconvenience you for so long. The meter is under separate cover, by parcel post.
Needless to say, Kenneth is getting to be a real man. He is so healthy and happy. We want to thank you folks up there for giving him such a good start. Am enclosing a picture taken a few weeks ago.
Yours as ever, Hector McMillan
When Hector writes to a friend, Art Forester, who served in the Airforce with him there is another example of his success:
This past week I have been working in the shop inventing a planer out of the crankshaft and block of a model T Ford. I’ve filled in around the crankshaft with babbit, flat on two sides. I made two blades out of car springs and sharpened one edge to cut like a razor and have clamped and bolted them into place. It needs a few adjustments yet but I made one cut on it yesterday. It runs off a big 5 horse Jumbo engine. We hope to get Steam power sometime, and then we can run a generator to light the whole station. I’m always thankful for the electrical experience I had in the RCAF; and especially working with Art down at Sydney! !
Art used to muse over with Hector what it would be like when Hector finally got to Africa and married Ione, so Hector describes their daily routine:
We were glad to get your Christmas card and the good news about your home. It would be a real treat to get back out to the prairies where the view is unlimited. Out here the jungle would grow up right around you if you stood still long enough. But we manage to keep it cleared back from our dwellings.
Are you still reading your Bible every day? It surely makes a difference. Even out here in the Lord’s work it is easy to get slack and begin to put other things first. Just this week Ione and I have received new blessings by more prayer and bible reading. We get up when the first bird sings, which is about twenty to 6. She feeds Kenneth while I shave and get dressed and then we read in First Thessalonians (just now), looking up the references, and then we each pray. She takes a meeting for the hospital patients from 6:30 – 7; while I usually take the service for the native workmen. At breakfast we have family worship with the three houseboys in their language. At noon we pray for a different country each day of the week. At 5 p.m. we have prayer meeting with the five other missionaries. After supper we have our own family worship in English, and once more before we go to bed, we read and pray together usually remembering folks in America. That sounds like a lot of wasted time but it is amazing how much more one is able to do. We love our work and rather regret that within a little over a year we will be preparing for furlough.
His practical work is described in a letter, written on 24th October 1947 to Aunt Mable McElheran:
I could fill three pages telling what happens (here). There are hundreds of jobs to be attended to. The wearing part of it is that you have to think for about twenty or thirty other people. I seem to have charge of the practical work around the station. That is where all the good PBI training comes in handy. (Hector writes in another letter…”I really enjoy it. I get a chance at carpentry work, plumbing, masonry, electrical work, painting, and all sorts of repairs; guns, clocks and watches, locks, cars, etc….”) The carpenter shop is the busiest place. We have the sawyers out in the forest with long two-man saws, slowly ripping out boards and planks. They build a scaffold of small trees tied together with forest vines and when everything is ready, then they tell me in the morning at roll-call and all the workmen go out to put up the log. If you could hear the headman go through his little song to get them all to pull together. He says something and they all reply, then after about the second or third time they take a lift. I’ll have to try to get a picture of it sometime. After the log is in place it takes two men about 10-14 days to rip out 15 boards. These are brought in to the station and piled to dry. But as a matter of fact they are usually used right away, unless it is for furniture.
I have rigged up a good bandsaw running off a 5-horse engine. When Chester Burk (Hector’s missionary friend stationed at Boyulu) was up here last spring with the 3-ton truck from their station, we decided to put a new platform and rack on it. We used the bandsaw to cut out 6” timber, and it did it quite well. The natives think it is wonderful to be able to saw so fast. I’ve been working on a planer too, but it it’s not quite finished yet. Just now I’m doing a plumbing job for one of the single ladies. She bought a stove and I’m trying to fix it up so it will heat water. It makes a lot of work when material is a bit scarce but we have had quite a good supply from Stanleyville. There is another new house going up and we will soon be starting the carpenter work on that. For a good many years the missionaries were putting up temporary buildings but the gov’t wants us to build in brick. And I must say that it is a lot more satisfying to be working with things that are a little more permanent. I guess PBI had their fill of temporary buildings – which usually had to last.
Whilst Hector seems well equipped to undertake this work, it does come with frustrations which he voices in a letter to Mrs Warren:
I seem to be looking after the practical work on the station and that takes about everything you’ve got. But in the rush of looking after sawyers, carpenters, masons and brick-makers; physical training for the boys at 7:30 a.m. and girls at 9:30: one soon gets his fill of dealing with natives.
The ‘natives’ Hector is referring were until very recently living as hunter gatherers in the jungle and as such did not subscribe to the concept of work for work’s sake. They only worked when they needed food or shelter. Colonialism changed that. The Congo became the Congo Free State in the late 1800’s and was overseen by King Leopold II of Belgium. He had persuaded other international countries to allow him to acquire this rule under the guise of abolishing the slave trade; however his representatives were ruthless in trying to exploit the country for monetary gain. The Congolese were forced to collect rubber, their wives were imprisoned, some raped if quotas were not reached. As women were responsible for growing the family food and could no longer do so, many died of starvation. If the men did not deliver the right quotas of rubber, they were punished by having their hands cut off. When news of the atrocities reached the international community, pressure was put on King Leopold II of Belgium to relinquish his personal hold on the country and allow the Belgian Government to rule. Congo became the Belgian Congo in 1908. Unlike other parts of Africa, the Belgian Congo did not release its riches easily, there was copper in the Katanga region, there was ivory and rubber but there seemed little else but pestilence and disease. Unlike the British and French who favoured indirect rule that is using the indigenous leaders to manage with guidance from the colonialists; the Belgians introduced state departments to govern and rule the various district; their control was a tripartite situation of state, private enterprise and missionaries. Whilst not overtly practising apartheid, whites maintained separate boundaries. Education and medical care was largely provided by the missionaries, with missionaries providing 99% of the education for the country. However, the state-imposed rules on employment and wages.
Nudity was not a shameful state, children wore little more than a wooden charm provided by the witchdoctor to ward off evil spirits attached to either the waist or ankle with string. Men would wear bark loin clothes. As commerce increased, materials were made available. Missionaries introduced school uniforms, and anyone working with them or for them were required to be dressed. So Hector has to deal with a clash of several cultures which would seem not to have formed part of his missionary preparation as it is never mentioned. It is easy to forget that urbanisation and Industrial Revolutions took years, attitudes changed gradually. A great deal was expected of a people who had lived semi nomadic lives, living in tribal family organisations, where clocks and work ethics were not important.
Patience is so necessary lest someone be offended and yet discipline alone can gird up their minds and bodies. And then on the side there are locks to repair for natives who insist on bringing in eggs (which of course we need), but then I have to take time off from some other parents of the school children, especially the girls. Just last week the father of one of the oldest girls came to talk over the matter of her marriage with one of the Christian boys on the station. This was Mr Jenkinson’s interview, as head of this station (but Hector is deputising as Kinso is on trek with his wife, visiting outlying villages) but the father brought along a gun that needed to be repaired. So, you see that it all adds up to making one a walking repair shop.
Ione too sometimes finds life frustrating, the behaviour is described as ‘funny’; some would say opportunistic, as she outlines in a letter to the Roberts on the 31st October 1947:
The natives are really funny. They send a letter in for the mail and usually send less money than is required. Or if they come before hand, they ask for a stamp, and after leaving what you were doing getting it for them, taking the money and settling down to your work again, then they say that they want one for their relative. And so you go through the whole thing again. Likely as not they will want a sheet of paper and later on, an envelope. But knowing that they are not far removed from paganism (the term ‘paganism’ is not used pejoratively but was common parlance at the time of writing; as seen above, the societal shifts were very recent.) we try to be patient with them.
Ione also writes to the family on the same day, she acknowledges letters and packages she has received, voices concerns over Marcellyn of whom she has no news. Marcellyn had left the States in April and still had not arrived. It appears that Marcellyn and Pearl seemed to be no longer travelling together as anticipated. As always, letters include descriptive accounts of how Ione is managing – this time adapting clothes for baby Kenneth:
I have been making little cotton sleeveless undershirts out of some of Hector’s undershirts which have worn out at the top. He has quite an assortment of made over things. I am also making a silk jacket out of a petticoat! By cutting off his baby dresses they will serve as blouses for wearing under little pants. I have saved some tho for keepsakes. He looks more and more like a real little boy. He is so good natured and we are thankful too, that he keeps well. He weighs 16 pounds now which is double his birth weight and at only 4 months!
This letter also includes advice she has been given that enables her to continue breast feeding:
The native women told me the wisdom of keeping plenty of milk in store for a breast fed baby is to eat lots of peanuts, and that is not hard for me to do, and there are plenty of them. Since we do not have butter I use peanut butter, we have it in our spinach, in fudge, roasted nuts, and in cakes, etc. Nearly every day I nibble on a dish of salted ones while I study. And the milk keeps coming. But I give the Lord the credit, for we really trusted Him for this very thing from the start. And we have so many other good things that are good for baby and me that I, too, am very healthy. Oh, by the way, Kenneth has a tooth coming and he is trying to sit up and creep. I think he dreamed of Hector today for he laughed out loud in his sleep.
On the 31st October 1947, Kenneth writes his first letter to his Miller cousins, undoubtedly penned by his mother as it includes material Ione feels would be of interest:
Muriel, Billy, Mary, and Bobby, I surely want to thank you for the lovely book you sent me. I’m a little too small to send you a letter in handwriting so this is just dictated. I didn’t want to wait too long before thanking you. It surely is a nice book and I hope to keep putting in things of interest until I am 14 years old. Mother has filled in everything she can already. I hope she leaves a few spaces for me to have my say!
I guess you know about the long ride I had right at the first, in a car, and then a plane, and then a station wagon. It was a little joggle and had some prickly heat, but soon went off to sleep and forgot about it. Well, just last week I had another ride, this time to a native village where my Mother and Daddie had a meeting. They sang with the guitar; I made my noises a little later while Mother was speaking. I cry sometimes but most of the noises I make now are good to hear and might eventually be understood. I haven’t decided whether I will first say “Gaston” or “Gregory” – those are the names of two boys who work here. I have one tooth coming and hope to soon have another one to match it so that I can bite something (or someone!).
This week I didn’t see my Daddie for three days because he went out in the forest where an elephant was killed to watch them cut it up and smoke it. The letter he wrote Mother was so full of ant holes (it was written on sandwich paper) that Mother had to lay it over a white diaper to read any of it. There were four other elephants that got away but they didn’t come back to see their dead lady friend so Daddy wasn’t bothered at all. A leopard was killed near here, tho this week. We have not had a leopard around here for some time. Just ordinary chimpanzees and baboons and monkeys. I think I prefer my yellow pig that Auntie Irene sent me, as I can chew his ears.
My Mother had a terrific noise going in our house last Monday night; she was teaching four native boys to play the piano. She gave each one an octave to work on and I think every fellow made use of all of his keys! I was glad when Mother shut my door. She’s starting a boys’ choir, too. More noise. There are 142 boys in the school now; I make the 143rd one. I visit her classes sometimes, but when I cry she keeps me at a safe distance. I don’t mind when I’m in my carriage that Daddie made; it has ball-bearings, rubber tires and knee action, and fits me fine.
I’ll be glad when I can meet you all. I’ll tell you all about the Congo. I’ll tell you about the animals I’ve seen, too. The other day there was a big animal on top of my bed; if I had not had a mosquito net on I’m sure I would have been frightened. Mother and Daddie killed the thing with a fly swatter; they called it a cockroach (Cockroaches in Bongondza were huge 6 – 8 cm in length).
This is all for now. Write me a letter sometime. Lovingly, Kenneth XXXX (4 months old)
Whilst most letters remain upbeat, there are challenges beyond coping with the humidity, fauna and flora of the country, some challenges are related to the ‘work’ they undertake as described by Ione in a letter to Martha on the 1st November 1947:
We are very happy here and the work is prospering, tho’ slowly. Souls are being saved, and at the present time there seems to be a cleansing going on among the church members, as the sins of some have been found out and they have left the church. The school boys number 142 now. We might well name the station ‘Boys Town’. Outside of school hours we are kept busy helping them to patch their clothes, draw embroidery designs for them to put on their ‘mouchoirs’ (hankies), and helping them to not act like little pagans. It is a great thrill when ones and twos and threes come to the verandah to accept the Lord. Some of them tell their home and village problems and we can give them advice. Tomorrow we are presenting the most difficult number yet given in church; the advanced two classes will sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, the Diadem tune, in four parts. They will do it in Bangala. – Ione
The letter written on the same day to the Beginners Department of the First Baptist Church in Pontiac omits reference to the ‘cleansing’. Ione writes on Kenneth’s behalf and it details the spiritual work rather than the practical building/ making work Ione and Hector engage in:
You all surely gave me a happy surprise for I didn’t expect to be supported until I was old enough to at least say thank you properly. Just last week the letter came to my Mother saying that the Beginner’s Department have turned in $12.50 for me. That’s a lot of money to us Congo fellows and it will go a long way in the work that I expect to be doing for the Lord here.
I’ve been going to the Sunday services at Bongondza right along, but it wasn’t until a week ago Sunday that I got out into the villages for some ‘real’ missionary work. Three of the missionary ‘aunties’ went along, Mrs Jenkinson, Miss Rutt and Miss Bjerkseth. My Daddy drove the car and let each lady out at a different place and our place was the last. I listened very quietly in my Mother’s arms while she and Daddy sang a song with the guitar, but Mother’s message was so long and she never looked at me once, so I asked Daddy to take me out in the car where I could express my feelings. Afterward she gave me some dinner and we went along to pick up the ladies. In one village we all got out and everyone except me ate some fried plantains which are like bananas. They said they were delicious fried in palm oil.
I’m not too keen about the name the natives have got for me; it is ‘Nose’. They call little babies ‘Songo’, so when I came along I became the little white nose. My Daddy is called, ‘the father of the nose’. He must not think it is so bad for he grins about it. I had a dream about my Daddy the other day and laughed right out loud. I had a good time the other day when a little boy friend came to see me, Etienne, who was born three days before I was. He took hold of my hand and I took hold of him with my foot. I weigh the same as he does but am several inches longer. All the other babies here are like Etienne, very black.
If any of you would like to write to me I will answer you. I want to get better acquainted with the Beginner’s Department for before very long I will come and see you.
Thanks again for your gift to me. Enclosed is a picture of me and my best friend / next to Jesus. Lovingly in Him, Kenneth
Hector echoes the theme of the work they are engaged in when writing to the Roadhouses on 5th November 1947:
The Kinsos are out on trek now. We miss Viola for that job. When they come back after three weeks, Kinso and I are going up to Ekoko to put up a house. The workmen are getting all the things assembled, so we think two weeks should see the task just about finished. The only regret is that it will be another temporary building. The Kinsos were up there about two months ago and found things in splendid order. Frances and Mary have done wonders. But oh for more MEN. The other day when Kinso and I were looking around the girls’ compound here at Bongondza, and saw all the work there is to be done, were wishing that Mary Rutt had a husband. In reply Kinso said he wished she had two ! ! ! But by helping each other we trust to see the Lord pouring out a blessing upon us all here and on the other stations.
Verna and Olive are doing a marvellous job with the 148 school boys. Ione is taking classes in singing (in fact that is where she is now, and while I’m looking after Kenneth I’m able to write this letter), and she also has classes in handcraft. While Ma Kinso is away Ione tries to carry on the women’s work as well. We are all so happy to be together here. I’m sure it is a result of your faithful intercession. Every night when Ione and I have devotions together we remember those who pray for us.
Kenneth’s progress is also included:
Kenneth is a real boy. He is just now in his carriage beside the desk. He is usually a pleasant little chap but I guess we all cried when we were getting our first teeth. The two on the bottom are through but there is just a sore bump where the top ones are. He has been so healthy and Ione is still able to feed him. We are thankful for such a nice little new missionary.
On November 6th 1947, Ione writes to the eldest of the Westcott children, Anne who she cared for when she first arrived at Bongondza:
Dear Anne and All,
I am ashamed that it has been so long since I received your very welcome letter. It was so nice of you to write; I wept big tears when I read it for I wanted to see you. It was so good to hear all about everything you have been doing. I suppose the list of pets is much different by now. What about a horse? I remember how much you wanted a ‘Flicka’. We have some interesting kittens here now. Mary Rutt has a snow white cat with long fur and she had five kittens, three white and two tabby. Uncle Kinso did away with a white and a tabby and the remaining three are quite lovely now. Mary says they can smell meat on the table two rooms away. Snowball had another set of kittens and one of them is pitch black. Auntie Kinso has that one and had given him the name, Minuit (French for midnight), as you had once named a kitten midnight. Minuit is very large and is fluffy, too. He comes here occasionally now because Kinsos are visiting the Basali for three weeks.
We are very happy with Kenneth, our baby and he is growing very well, is now five months old. He has two teeth coming in and a swelling for a third. One day we found Kinso’s cat curled up at the foot of Kennie’s bed. He had crawled right over the baby to get where we found him. Hector didn’t like that very much. I am still nursing the baby, but he takes anything else that I give him, cereal, fruits, spinach, etc. He more than doubled his weight in four months. We thank the Lord that he is well, for we have no doctor or nurse to take care of him. We heard that Pearl Hiles is sailing from Belgium Dec. 10th, will spend one month in Leo at Mr Coxill’s request for her ‘stage’ I guess, and a couple of weeks at Sona Bata. Mr Coxill is surely helping the missionaries who come to Belgium telling them just what to do, etc. We hope to see my sister Marcellyn around Christmas time. She’ll come here for a few months and then go to Ekoko.
I have so many reminders here of you all. The baby sleeps in Charlotte’s little bed, wears some of the little garments I found on the clinic shelf at the hospital; others will serve and have served as patterns to sew more. And just this week I was sorting out a bag of small pieces of cloth and found a part of a little romper which gave me a good idea for making some for Kenneth. And the apron that Charlotte cut holes in one time when she was real small and a little naughty, I found and used what the bugs had left to make a pretty beribboned bunting for the baby. Hector and I speak so often of how fortunate we are to be able to have so many useful things here. The house is so well built and is such a comfort and protection. A little girl from the HAM was visiting Haris’ at Stan and kept opening and shutting the door. Her mother apologized for it and said, “She thinks a door so much fun, for we had none on our station.” We are thankful for all the doors here, and everything inside them!
I guess you knew that two of my sisters have babied this year, too. Lucille in Lansing – a boy in Jan., and Doris in Alaska a little girl. Anne, do you remember Salima who took care of Katrina Jacovidus (the girl Ione looked after as a baby)? Yesterday she had a little baby boy. She married Nzemu, Bernard, the boy who used to do garden work for Pearl. He later worked in the carpenter shop. By the way, Hector saw Katrina when he visited the Ludwig’s at Katwa. She was a lovely big girl and seemed very happy at the mulatto school.
Maria went today to visit some friends in Buta, where there will be a wedding. Botiki is going, too, on his bicycle. He has a lovely new one. Write again soon, Love, Ione
In a letter to his father dated 8th November 1947, Hector is still trying to come to terms with ‘man management’ realising his father probably had similar issues and no doubt hoping a return letter might give him some answers:
…. Now that I have others to oversee I realize what you were up against. Not that Kenneth is any problem; but on the mission field there are always workmen and that is my trouble just this week.
For some time I have been looking after the shop and a few other jobs such as plumbing, electrical work, car repair and sometimes the masons, as well as all the carpenter work. Sort of like Old Del Wiggins, Shirmie Alquire, Chas. Nesbit, Angus McLean, and Jimmie Tinkess all put into one man. Usually Mr Jenkinson takes care of the rest of the workmen. He is out on a three weeks trek now and the station was left in my care. As usual I left the outside workmen to the native headman, as he is supposed to check on their work. It just seemed as though there was nothing being done. On Monday evening of this week I had a talk with some of the leading Christian natives and they said the same thing was heavy on their hearts. After some suggestions, I asked the head school teacher, if he would come up in the morning and give the men a talk in their own language He really did too. He knows his own people so well and has their respect too.
First thing to do was to demote the headman. He got sore and quit work altogether; so since then I have closed the shop and have been acting as “capita” (pronounced ca-pee-tah). The men have to be on roll-call at 6:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; unless they are on a special job. If they come in the morning and not in the afternoon, they get zero, which means no pay for that day. Those who say they are sick are taken down to the hospital and checked over by the native lad in charge, and he tells me whether or not they are fit for work. (Even old Sid Gunn would have a job fooling us out here). If food is brought to them they can take time to eat but they must not go to their villages – suppose our road from Avonmore was twisted and turned and had heavy forest and underbrush right out to the road. Avonmore could be the Chief’s village, and each farmer’s gate along the road would be a cluster of huts called a village. When you got to Sutherland’s corner it would be Bongondza, with more villages beyond). The place called Kole would be down about Apple Hill. (All the trucks and cars travelling between Stanleyville and Buta pass there).
So now you know a few more things about this land.
The Jenkinson’s will be back next week we hope. A few days after that he and I will be going up to another of our stations for two weeks to oversee the putting up of a temporary building. That means a building not made of bricks but logs, sticks and using mud as a plaster. It will have rooms, doors and windows and a leaf roof. A good job might make it last four or five years. The men have been getting all the things ready, so we will be able to push the work, when we both go. The two single ladies who have been there for 7 months now have done remarkably well for the challenges they have had. While we are gone from here we expect to put two shifts on the brick machine, each shift making 1500 bricks. (Not bad for a press that only produces 2 bricks at a time! This means they have 7mins to put in the right quantity of mud and grass into each slot, bring the hammer down to compress the mixture, remove the bricks and start again – fairly relentless!) For the new school it will take about 150,000. So, you can see that the Bongondza workmen will not be idle.
Will be waiting for a letter from you soon. Kenneth and Ione send their love. God bless you all, Hector.
In a letter on the 10th November to his Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Alex, Hector describes another way of getting his message across to the local people but he also has another message to convey – the need for a new car!:
Yesterday I took the morning message in church and spoke from Luke 10:1-10, on restitution. I took some references from the old Testament, where they had to restore 4 sheep for every one stolen and killed. I also used the story that Nathan told to David. Another story I mentioned was about a man who stole a white mule, and every time he got down to pray the Lord brought this mule before him and he had to quit praying. He tried to look behind it but the mule backed up. Then when he went to look past the head of the mule he stepped ahead, etc. When he was really convicted of his wrong doing, he made restitution and so got rid of the white mule during his prayer time.
In reading your letter of March 17th, over again I see you were asking about Ione’s sister Marcellyn. She is still in Belgium, but we heard recently that both she and Miss Hiles are expecting to get a boat the first part of Dec. We will be ever so glad to welcome them here. I will probably have to make the 160 mile trip into Stanleyville to meet them there. Mr Jenkinson’s car is getting pretty old, been going over these rough gravel roads since 1938. It usually has to have something done to it after every trip it makes. About a month ago, I put a new style shock with mechanical things. There is always something needing repairs. The car is the most useful thing on the station when we are so far from other white people. There is so much trekking to be done too. Mr and Mrs Jenkinson have been away for three weeks now, but we expect them home tomorrow. Mr Pudney is looking around for a new car for this station. But he writes that prices are very high in Philadelphia. We have been getting together some money for a new car fund, and it already amounts to quite a sum. It is wonderful the way the Lord supplies our needs. He is so FAITHFUL.
Let me thank you heartily for your prayers on our behalf. May the Lord sustain each of you in return. Another winter has come, but I trust you will not suffer from the cold.
I must close now. Kenneth sends his love to you. Maybe you will see him in a little more than a year from now.
Yours in the Bonds of the Gospel (an interesting phrase to use in signing off and not Hector’s usual salutation!), Hector
By the 23rd November 1947, Hector finds himself in the other station he has previously mentioned, Ekoko , 260 miles northwest of Bongondza (home with Ione and Kenneth!). He writes to two supporters, Mr and Mrs McDonald:
There are two single ladies here, Miss Longley (second term) from Toronto, and a new missionary, Miss Baker, from Virginia. Mr Jenkinson and I have come here for two weeks in his ’38 Ford, to oversee the building of a temporary house. We sometimes think that we are bad off at Bongondza, but here there is not a single permanent building. By that I mean nothing in brick or cement. During the war new workers couldn’t get out to the field, so when the others went on furlough the station was left in charge of a native teacher. He did a remarkably good job of keeping the work going but of course did not undertake any building. So now, there is only one habitable house for white people, and another small shack for visitors. All the wooden poles have been prepared for this new house so we hope to have it well on the way soon. We plan to take pictures of the day by day progress. It will accommodate three single ladies. We hope a married couple will return soon from Canada; and my wife’s sister now in Belgium, studying, plans to be here the first of next year.
This brings me to the end of this page but I should try to give you some news of our other two stations. They are in another territory, where a different language is spoken. They each have schools for both boys and girls, and one has an evangelists’ school as well as a splendid medical work under the supervision of an English nurse.
There are so many possible departments on a mission station. But strange as it seems each new worker adds to the work of others. We are expecting a nurse at Bongondza in Feb. so that means that now we are rushed trying to get a brick house built for her. We have to make the bricks, build the drying sheds, build the kiln, have the firewood cut, oversee the burning and then have the bricks hauled on wheel-barrows about 400 yards to the site of the new house, AND ITS ALL UP HILL. The masons are quite good workman and we are quite proud of some of the jobs they have done. As for the roof, it is very likely that we will use leaves, since we are in a hurry. Otherwise we would try to make shingles from soft native wood nearby. This is really the most important part of the house. A few weeks ago, we had 5” of rain in 10 hours (loosely termed as the rainy season).
And so the work goes on. One’s idea of missionary work is rapidly changed once you get into the harness. The picture of a man under a shade tree with a bible in his hand is only half the story. True he still has the bible in one hand but in the other he has a hammer, saw, square, level, shovel, trowel, pipe wrench, blowtorch, electrician’s pliers, school books, medical books, and a typewriter. I wish I could get a cartoonist to draw a picture of such a present-day missionary.
It is evident that, Hector, like Ione before him, has to reconcile his preconceptions about his role as a missionary with the reality of what the job entails. When people back home are supporting him financially to undertake this role, the hope is that they understand the exact nature of what the role entails.
I know you and Mrs McDonald will continue to pray for us. May the Lord richly bestow His choicest gifts upon you. Yours in a Satisfying SAVIOUR. Hector McMillan
Many of Hector and Ione’s letters refer to Ione’s sister Marcellyn arriving to join them in their missionary work and it is evident that lack of direct news has been worrying them both but it is only alluded to. In this letter from Ione to Marcellyn written on 22nd November 1947, we learn that there has been difficult times for Marcellyn even though the exact nature of these have not been revealed. Being a missionary in the middle of Africa is not for the fainthearted as revealed in all the letters Hector and Ione write and it is not surprising that Marcellyn’s commitment has been placed under scrutiny: Ione writes encouragingly:
Thanks so much for your letter received this week. It was such a relief to hear from you yourself. We were wondering what was wrong. We are still wondering; I wish you would tell us. We want so badly to help you and cannot unless we know. But at any rate, you must have a good reason for wishing to wait to tell us. I am so sorry that you have been misunderstood; it must be very very hard for you. I have such confidence in you that I cannot imagine anyone doubting your word or intentions. It must be Satan’s way of blocking your coming to Congo. The Jenkinson’s have not said anything to us about you; they would try to shelter and protect you all they could I am sure. I do hope everything will be all right and that there will be no stigma to mar the wonderfulness of your arrival to Congo. It will be such a grand event for us and we want it to be a happy time for you, too. Remember that ‘underneath are the Everlasting Arms’ and that you ‘need not fear what man shall do to you’. We have a wonderful Lord who is able to solve every problem.
In this letter, Ione reveals that she is again pregnant:
I am typing under difficulties for my tummy wants to turn inside out. If this keeps up we may have a little sister for Kenneth on his first birthday! More information later!
Hector is away for two weeks with Kinso. They are at Ekoko starting a new house for single ladies! That might interest you (as this is a house for Marcellyn). There is just nothing there now that would do at all and it would be difficult for Frances and Mary to supervise such a building project. The men wish to get it started and then check again on it later. I miss Hector so much when he is away. He is so cheerful and full of pep. But Kenneth is good company daytimes and Ma Kinso sleeps nights here. Kenneth is cutting his fourth tooth. He drinks milk from a little glass, too, which he feels is quite an accomplishment. I still give him my milk when he is very sleepy, but am gradually weaning him.
Tell Pearl we discovered some hospital ‘treasures’ in the basement here. Stacks of 6-yard pieces of peli, a couple bundles of Americani, some flannel, some figured blue stuff that might do for hospital curtains, and quite a number of nice blankets, some all-white and some brown. That will be a good start for her, as that stuff is so expensive.
In Him, Ione
Whilst Ione misses Hector, Hector misses her and writes on the 29th November 1947:
My own Beloved,
Thanks for your note. It made you more precious than ever to me. You were worth waiting for as these past two years have proved. Sorry we couldn’t be together for our second anniversary but I’ve been thinking about you.
And how’s our laddie? Don’t let him forget that he has a daddy who loves him.
I hope you’ve been feeling better since your cold is gone. Take care of yourself and for the sake of Linda Lou.
- The house is coming along nicely.
- We’ve taken a bagful of rattles out of the Ford in our spare time. It was almost falling apart.
- Mary (Carter) is in the Aketi hospital after being a week in bed here with a temperature that wouldn’t come down to normal. Kinso took her in last Tues & the Doctor thought it was kidney infection.
- Kinso is going in to Aketi this morning to spend the week at the church there. He’ll see how Mary is getting on & that will decide our plans for returning to Bongondza (i.e. leave here Thur. Dec 4 at 4 a.m., shop at Aketi. Leave Kinso at the road going in to last village, shop at Buta & be home about 3 or 4 p.m.)
- Folks enjoyed films very much. (I’ve sent the other one to Pudneys.)
- Kinso has been praising up our Bongondza workers. It would encourage your hearts to know what he thinks of each one.
Well, honey, so long for now. Love is a wonderful thing when you’re the other half. Hector
On the 29th November 1947, Ione writes to Betty Arton stationed at Boyulu, the nurse who cared for her when she was expecting Kenneth:
Thank you very much for your letter received this week. I am glad that the dresses (presumably maternity dresses, the missionaries shared everything including their clothes as there were few shops and little money to spend on such items) reached you safely and that they will be satisfactory. You have done better than I to miss so few meetings. I was so nauseated and for such a long time it seemed that I lost a lot of weight at first and had to go to bed for a while.
The reports of your Annual Conference is very good. You must have had some grand meetings. Wish we could have been there for the witchcraft service. The baby show must have been lots of fun. 120 is a wonderful number for baptism. The Lord is surely blessing there. You are an ambitious lot of folk at Boyulu!
I am sorry that your plans have been altered but do trust that it will be possible to go to Dr. Becker. He will take you if it is at all possible for he said when I wrote him that he “always had room for the servants of the Lord.” It would be good if you can go with the Walbys and take the truck.
Betty Arton and Eileen Walby were both pregnant and due to give birth at the same time. The Walby’s were stationed at Maganga, near to Boyulu. The two couples would have two choices of medical care, Yakusu with the Baptist Missionary Doctor or Oicha which was supervised by Dr Becker of the African Inland Mission. Eileen Walby lost her first baby at Yakusu as there were no facilities for an operation at that time and had been told she may never deliver a baby normally. Ione does not mention the reason for the change in Betty’s plans nor who made the decision, one can only assume the facilities were better at Oicha, it had an X-Ray machine but it is also situated high in the Bukavu region and where the weather was much more clement than Yakusu which was situated in the Congo basin. In fact, both couples did travel up to Oicha together in January 1948; The Walby’s were the first to give birth – to Laureen Joy (editor of this book) on 20th, soon after their arrival. Being small meant Eileen did not encounter the problems she had previously experienced and it was a normal delivery. The Artons had a longer wait – three weeks later, Heather was born and survived largely due to the skill and expertise of Dr Becker as she was premature and underweight.
…I hope this will answer some questions. Kenneth is doing fine, cutting his eighth tooth just now! He is real chubby and getting stronger every day. He is drinking his milk from a cup now, almost full strength. We love him so much and wonder what we would do without him. His Daddy is away for two weeks at Ekoko with Kinso getting a new house started. Will you kindly give this to Dolena (Burke)? Lovingly, Ione
On the 2nd December 1947, Hector responds to a letter from his father and brother Archie who have shared news of home, including the safe arrival of his daughter’s (Irene) son.
I guess the rain rather ruined the crops. It’s a long time since we only threshed 40 bags. But you should be thankful for the rich land that we have on that farm. Out here the ground is very poor. If it wasn’t for the abundant rainfall everything would wither up. One of these big jungle trees uses 80 gallons of water every day. When the forest is cut down for big gardens it never grows up with these big trees again, but just soft trees and thick undergrowth. The big cause of poverty of the land is that there is no time when everything dries up and dies, as during the winter at home. If these people want to use the same land for a second time they would have to wait 10-12 years. So they just don’t bother. They just move over into a new patch of fresh forest and cut that down. They plant peanuts first and in four months harvest them, then they plant cotton and gather it in 6 months. Some people then plant (cooking) bananas, but the land is all worn out by then. If they want good bananas they cut a special garden and plant them right away. All the work is done by hand and all the carrying is done by the women, having huge baskets on their heads or back. If they have a baby he must be fastened on somewhere too. They have no donkeys or horses, carts or wheel-barrows. A man and his wife with hard work may make $25-$30 a year. Out of that they pay $2 tax, buy their clothes (which costs plenty since the war), and usually their relatives get a share of it, to pay for some fine that is imposed on them. Naturally their food cost very little, but they don’t live very well. Just yesterday I was telling a fellow about my father’s farm. He thought you must be VERY rich. However, I told him how hard we have to work to get anything.
That’s almost a whole page on Congo farming.
Hector, then shares his latest endeavours:
SO….another house has to be built. Most of the poles had been brought in before we came here so we have been overseeing the erection of the house. We had holes dug at the four corners, then trenches a foot wide and four feet deep between these. Other poles were put in about six inches apart and tamped down with gravel around them. Some of the poles were cut off short for the window spaces and left out altogether for the doorways. The whole building is 65’x 32-1/2’. Down the centre four huge poles 30’ long were made real solid as they carry the ridge pole. All the poles are notched “V” shaped and the plate and ridge poles like in those notches. The partitions are made the same way with their tops level with the top of the outside plates. That is about as far as we have gotten now. Tomorrow we have to put up the ridge pole and begin to tie on the pole rafters. The cord they use is dried strips of bark (other places they use a small forest vine that is split or shredded). Then everything is fastened down, they go to the forest and bring in bundles of reeds which are a kind of small bamboo. These are put two together and run lengthwise on the roof in rows 5-6” apart. On the walls, they are put on both the inside and outside of the house poles, around the partitions too, just leaving the doors and windows. THEN the roofing is put on. If leaves are used, these are gathered in the forest. They grow one to a stem (4’-6’ tall) and are about the shape of a round nosed shovel and about twice that size. The stem is cut off about 4” from the leaf, and with a knife they slice a long barb in this stem so it will hang on. Six – ten of these leaves are laid on top of each other with the barbs all sticking up over the edge of the top leaf. These groups of ten are bundled together and brought in and weighed, averaging about 65 lbs. Within a day or two these must be put on the roof before they dry out or maybe begin to decay. (I hope you are not getting tired of reading all this but it will give Archie something to tell other folks when they ask what Hector is doing) ! ! ! ! The men up on the roof hang these long barbs over the rows of reeds, overlapping the bundle of leaves each time. The next row is 5” above, so really on a good roof there is a thickness of 20 -30 leaves. On a small house for a white person (three or four rooms) there would be 7-10 TONS of leaves. If that same weight was made up of aluminium roofing and put end to end it would be as high as Mount Everest.
Then comes the walls. Ground is dug out of a hole and this is mixed with water (thick mud) and plastered on the wall from both sides, worked well in around the reeds and poles. After drying it is cracked rather badly so a mixture of sand and water is applied. When that has dried the walls are brushed with a clay whitewash mixture. Then the doors and windows are fitted in, the house furnished and finished. In five years this WHOLE process must be repeated. The termite ants eat away the poles, the leaves shrivel up and blow off little by little, and before long the house sags and is ready to fall.
SUCH IS TEMPORARY BUILDING IN AFRICA. Missionaries have done it for years until now when there are 6-8 white people on a station someone has the disheartening job of continually pushing the workmen to rebuild these miserable MUD houses. Is it any wonder that we want to use bricks and metal roofs ?? Almost everyone will tell you that they are much cheaper in the long run. But it is having the capital to start with. A brick machine costs $275. Labour to build the drying sheds, and kiln and make the bricks might cost $100. Transporting the bricks and building house (masons) $200. Cement – $75. Roofing – Aluminium or corrugated iron $400. Furnishings – $150. So the total is around $1000. Say this house lasts 20 years. In that time you would have had probably 5 mud houses at an average cost of $450. So that is the story.
Kinso and I will be leaving this Thursday but a visit must be made again in a few weeks.
It will be nice to get back to Ione and Kenneth again. We are a very happy family and Kenneth is the favourite of all the other missionaries. Ione will have a great time when Marcellyn gets here about the middle of January. She will stay with us at Bongondza for several weeks or months before coming on to Ekoko. She, with the two ladies who are here now, will be living in this house which we are trying to finish as soon as possible.
I better close for now and get to bed. May the Lord keep you both in health and strength. I am happy to have such nice memories of a home in Avonmore. The Lord has been good to us and I do thank Him for His faithfulness. Your son and brother, Hector
Hector receives a pair of prescription glasses from Dr Becker, presumably brought by Mr and Mrs VanDusen, who visit and spend a weekend at Bongondza. Hector writes a thank you note on 2nd December, enquires about the cost of the glasses and lets Dr Becker know his services may be required again.
It would seem that the missionaries decide Ekoko requires a male presence if the house they are building for the three ladies is to be completed in time for Marcellyn’s arrival. As it would be improper for Hector to be with two single ladies for such a length of time, it was decided at short notice that Ione accompany him, so the Macmillan’s move to Ekoko for six weeks over the Christmas period. They left Bongondza at 10pm, arriving at Ekoko the next afternoon. As the facilities at Ekoko are far more basic than at Bongondza, their departure causes concern, Mama Kinso writes on 15th December:
We keep speaking of you both & shall be relieved to hear of your arrival. How we trust you had no troubles en route & that you & baby stood the journey well. We regretted not giving you a stamped p.c. to let us know you reached Aketi safely.
All well here. Mary has been typing her letters at your house all the morning. Nothing outstanding to tell you but that we love you & pray for you. A kiss & a hug to Kenneth and appropriate greetings to Hector. Mama Kinso
Her husband writes to Hector:
We rejoiced greatly to receive your letter a few moments ago telling of your trouble-free journey & safe arrival – praise God.
Verna also received a note from her father saying, “The car has been purchased.” Nothing more, but that sounds good.
We all miss you very much but realize that Ekoko is going to gain greatly by your being there.
Am just on the verge of being driven out of the house by driver ants – the biggest raid I have known here & the little beggars got in before we realized it. (Driver ants have seasonal migratory pathways and move in huge colonies. Little stands in their way, they go through homes rather than around them. Soldier ants patrol either side of the column, protecting smaller ants at the centre)
Love from us all to you all. Yours affectionately, Kinso
A different ant becomes the topic of conversation in a letter from Ione to her home church when she was living in Pontiac:
I am writing from Ekoko as Hector and Kenneth and I have come here to stay for six weeks. Hector is supervising the building of a house where Marcellyn will live. I will be glad to see Marcellyn when she arrives next month. Ekoko has been upon her heart for several years and she will finally see it. I am helping some with the Christmas program. Too bad Marcellyn will have to celebrate on the ocean! Frances Longley is in charge here at present until the Faulkner’s return from furlough. Another girl, Mary Baker, from Vancouver, is also stationed here, but is at Bongondza at present recuperating from an illness. The two girls have done well to keep up with the many activities and responsibilities here this past year. They have had a job of protecting their belongings from white ants. The ants have increased in numbers in the last few years and nothing can be allowed to touch floors, walls or ceilings; even then one must keep watching for their tunnels of fresh dirt. They can riddle cloth, paper or wood in a few hours.
The differences in the two mission stations are highlighted by Ione in a newsletter Ione compiles for all their supporters, this one being written on 16th December 1947:
“The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.” Gen. 39:23
We are not so secure from the wiles of the jungle here at Ekoko; lack of screening exposed us to more and itchier bugs: we do not have the variety of vegetables as at Bongondza, nor the meat: we do not have the security of brick walls and sheet metal roof. But it is a real joy to be ‘needed’. We are many miles from a doctor or a nurse, but little Kenneth enjoys the best of health and weighs now more than a child many months older should weigh. Ekoko’s school year is about to begin with more boys enrolled than ever before. We counted 168 on parade this morning. The outstation reports are encouraging, as many as 90 souls won to the Lord by one teacher alone; the offerings 20,000 francs for the year at the outstations. Ekoko deserves to have help, and we are glad to be here for a while.
We are thankful to be starting this year with a small refrigerator, with a nurse on our station. The Lord does ‘prosper’ and we want you to know that He is using you to supply our every need. Truly, ‘The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad!’ If you could see the little boy who comes daily for medicine for his burned leg, the babies who have received milk and medicine, the villages that are calling for teachers, the girls saved from polygamy, the boys who will be good husbands for them, the women whose family life is gradually becoming ‘different’, you would be glad that you have encouraged and prayed and given. May the Lord richly bless each one of you. Lovingly yours in Christ, Hector & Ione McMillan
However, Hector and Ione are sorely missed at Bongondza, as Kinso explains (18th December 1947):
My dear Hector,
You will be getting quite a budget from Bongondza this week. There are one or two items of news I want to send on to you.
In the first place the generator has stopped! I can’t get any spark at all from it. I can get a shock by touching it but no spark. Up to the moment I haven’t been able to find any key which would unfasten the driving pulley to enable me to look at the contacts. I feel a real dud at these jobs – you see how much you are missed.
The C.P.C. are sending by air the three reels of the film, “A Happy Village”, and I expect they will be here on Tuesday next. However, as the batteries were used for the Club I don’t consider it wise to run them down any more as we haven’t the wherewithal to recharge them.
In this week’s letter from Philadelphia, it said that the Faulkner’s were to be there soon and that there was a boat leaving in January. It didn’t say in so many words that they would be coming by it; the exact words are, “There is a boat sailing in January from New York, so we are glad for them, their money has been coming in too.” From that it seems to me that we can expect the news that they are coming by it. Thus it really seems as though things are at last moving for Ekoko. That news makes it abundantly clear that we have done the right thing to push along the ladies’ house as fast as possible. I do hope you will not meet any snags which will cause unnecessary delays.
In your Popular Mechanics I have found an advert for a cement block making machine – $30. – will make four 5”x8”x12” blocks per minute. According to the illustrations they have variable forms which make hollow blocks. I am sending particulars to Philadelphia by air.
We are all very sad here today for we find that Asumene is expecting a baby and the father is Ndengbe. (Probably ‘sad’ because the couple are not married),
Today we put up two lengths of guga. The leaves are all on the brick sheds – the long one with the machine in it and the one you started to enlarge. Now they just need the floors done and then filling with bricks.
Oh, and I almost forgot one chief reason for writing. I received a letter from Fred Ludwig saying that he had had a letter from Botiki to say that Dr. Westcott had asked him to go there to work and he was keen to do so. Fred said that he and Dr. Trout had talked about it and felt they ought to write to us so that we would know when they made arrangements re transport. Fred has also written to Botiki but as he is having few days hunting I haven’t seen him since the letter arrived. Under the circumstances I feel that the best thing to do is to close down absolutely all the medical work at the end of this month. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. Schools etc., will be away on holiday, things will be generally quiet. That will solve the injection problem. Although it will be something of a blow to Nurse it is better that she starts right away without Botiki rather than having him for a few weeks or months.
I gather from Fred’s letter that they will make some arrangement re transport and maybe he will have said something to Botiki about it.
Fred said he had had a two-hour flight with Paul Uhlinger.
I really think that is all this time but I will leave the letter unfinished for it will be here for a day or two yet.
I have just looked up to see if there is any indication of boats arriving at Matadi & I see that the “Mar del Plata” is expected there Dec. 25th. That sounds very like the one the ladies will be on. She is a motor vessel & faster than some.
With our united love to you all. Yours affectionately, Kinso
Time and service in the Cold Stream Guards did not prepare Kinso in quite the same way as the Air Force helped Hector!
In reply, Hector shares the following news with Kinso on 23rd December:
Dear Kinsos and All:
I suppose you want to know what Marcellyn said in her letter.
“The boat is scheduled to arrive in Matadi the 25th. Of course on account of the holiday we may be delayed a day before we can debark, and then we have our train tickets (already bought through the boat company) to Leopoldville, but we cannot go until we get all the business taken care of. Pearl has written ahead to the Mission home in Matadi for reservations for us to stay there or for them to get us places. At Leopoldville we may have to wait several days for the boat……At any rate, we’ll send letters to you along the way informing you of any delays….”
We have written both Pearl and Marcellyn at Matadi, and a carbon of one letter we sent to UMH, Leopoldville. We asked them to send a telegram when all plans were known, and Frances wrote to the Percepteur des postes at Bumba asking him to send a special runner with the telegram. To cover other unexpected happenings, Denys (Likanga – a home grown evangelist) says he could do some trekking around Bumba and be on hand. There is an old Sabena hotel they use for a rest house but the meals are a problem. However we hope to be able to get there at the proper time with the car.
The house is coming along well. They have finished the roof on the front and about 2/3rds up the far side. I imagine the “ndelis” (mondeli, is the Bangala word for white person) will be sufficient but it might be a tight race.
We have fixed up a shop out behind the other one; repaired the two benches and fixed up a nice saw table. I have already tried out the power plant with the car, but I have it all ready. I’ll try to take a picture of it. I have another table inside the garage on the cement floor and use the little engine in there for work during the odd evenings. I’m making a sign for the new road entrance, in my spare time. Those router bits are the real thing for cutting letters into a board. It works well off the little motor. The other day the motor stopped and after some investigation we found the Bakelite part on the points that ride on the eccentric shaft had cracked off. I was able to fix it with small copper rivets.
We expect to have the mudding finished by New Years. Thanks for you …….Hector.
Ione writes to Ma Kinso on the same day, filling her in on the activities that have not preoccupied Hector:
Dear Ma Kinso,
I just left Frances at the house of Camille’s wife (one of the indigenous workers), while I came up to write a letter. We have been sort of alternating with her this morning, for she has been having a hard time, similar to my miscarriage with long, delayed after-birth. It is now seven hours after the baby came, and the affair is not yet completed. We have tried castor-oil and an enema and Frances is about to give the second enema. Needless to say, we wish you were here!
I have had to miss practicing with the school girls this morning, but I can hear them from where I am writing, and I think their program will go all right. They have their dresses washed and nearly all ironed and I think they will look very nice. Yesterday, today and tomorrow they are working awhile during the mornings getting earth for ‘mudding’ the house. They seem happy to have a part in the new house, too. Frances told them their mud was for their Mademoiselle’s room! They are also making paper decorations for the church and the Christmas tree. We have chosen a pretty lemon tree down near the church and hope they will enjoy seeing Mary’s pretty decorations on it, plus the ones they are making. Denys had his boys practicing at the church until after 9:30 last night. They seem to enjoy it, tho. They are working hard days now that their exams are over all doing something toward the building of the new house. And the catechists are working full time too. They practiced their play at 5 last evening. They are so tired and hot, but they did very well. Their play is worked out together with the women.
I have not been able to do as much as I would like, but I am taking charge of the meals, and the girls’ program and helping with the church decorations. I am trying to get the houseboys to do ‘Gloria’ well enough for Christmas Day. Hector will be speaking that day, and I will give a message to families in the afternoon. I have a class, too in the conference on the teaching of hymns. The conference will really be only Friday and Sunday, but we are trying to pack in all we can and yet keep as many hours as possible free for everyone to work on the house.
Kenneth is doing very well, seems fatter and heavier than before. He especially enjoys the good fish we are having. We hope you all are well. Everyone misses Mary so much and will be so glad to see her again. We are going to try to make Frances really rest awhile after Christmas. She is very tired. Hector is feeling not quite up to par, a sort of touch of malaria yesterday, but I think if he observes his rest hour properly and doesn’t work too many evenings and Sat. afternoons he will be all right.
We are praying for you and looking forward to the day when we shall see you all again. Lovingly, Ione
Christmas Eve 1947, Hector and Ione jointly write to Ione’s mother:
We came up here about two weeks ago and will probably stay until the last of January. The folks decided that I (Hector) might as well try to help Frances get this big house finished and furnished. It is big enough for three girls, each having a bed room, study and bathroom. The living room and dining room are combined into one large central room.
Hector had to leave to help Frances with a difficult woman who needed punishing. So I will hurry a word, too. The mail is going right away. As Hector said, we are here for a while. The baby stood the trip quite well, tho’ it was a long hot journey. But then we could rest afterward. I am not feeling quite up to par these days for we are expecting another baby. It is a real surprise to us, for we had not planned nor hoped that we could have one so soon after Kenneth. But as nearly as I can estimate, the next one’s birthday might be very near to Kenneth’s! I had to wean him a little earlier than I had planned, but he has taken readily to Klim and is now at six months a lovely healthy fat baby weighing somewhat over 16 pounds and has eight teeth. Hector is so busy these days; there is so much to do here. I am trying to help some, but need to rest quite a bit until I start gaining weight again.
Now that we are here, we have asked that she (Marcellyn) get off the boat at a place different from Stanleyville so that we can meet her from here and bring her directly to Ekoko. We’ll have quite a while with her and then go back to Bongondza. Then she can visit us during her holiday in July. They want her to study the language right here. I can help her while I’m here. Just think right now she is one day from Congo. In a couple of weeks, we shall see her!
All for now. Much, much love and real concern for your future. Hector & Ione
Christmas at Ekoko is described thus by Ione on 29th December:
Christmas at Ekoko has been a very busy, interesting affair. All of the outstation teachers and evangelists are in, and the fellowship and fun is great. The first thing we heard Christmas morning was carols in the villages around about then it came nearer and nearer and by day light the school boys were before our house singing and waving flowers. They shouted ‘Joyeux Noel’ and we shouted back. The church was packed and a large overflow crowd stood around for the 3-hour morning service. No one was in a hurry to leave. That service was only the beginning and for four days there were festivities of all kinds, plays, outdoor races. On Christmas night Miss Longley called them all around the Christmas tree (a lemon tree) for gifts. Candy and nuts would not have pleased the children nearly so much as the two lovely squares of red disinfectant soap. The meat from their roast didn’t arrive until Saturday, but when they finally had it prepared and in dishes on tables set with flowers it looked almost like a white people’s feast.
The climax of festivities came when at the last service on Sunday, the station teacher, Denys, announced that for two days everyone would work before leaving for the holidays. The new white lady was on her way and if everyone worked together they could get the house all ‘mudded’ before they left, then when they returned they would have only the joy of welcoming her, with no sorrow that she had no place to sleep. The results were amazing for on Monday morning men, women and children were present to take their part in gathering ant-hill mud, crushing it, mixing it with water and putting it on the walls. This is the second day and I believe it will be finished. Women with little babies on their backs made mud and plastered it on the walls; skilled labourer worked side by side with unpaid volunteer, and all were singing and making the work a real joy. We have been hearing a variety of songs from the different ones as they worked, and whenever we go over, there is a cheerful atmosphere of cooperation. The white shirts have come off, all are working together, teachers, monitors, catechists, the shoe-repair man, the tailor, as well as the paid workmen. They don’t know it yet, but Miss Longley is planning to give each one who has helped a cupful of salt as a gift. That will bring some smiles.
It is a big house with five large rooms and five small rooms and is no small task to gather and plaster mud inside and out, and it is a dirty job. But when they see that the head teacher, Denys is not afraid to get his hands dirty, everyone follows suit and it makes a grand spirit. Pray that this sort of thing may continue.
Denys Likanga had a way of getting jobs done; Mary Baker, writing in “Where the Master touched” a compilation of short pieces written by the UFM missionaries after a conference said that Denys arrived one afternoon stating that he had had a restless night thinking about the church. He was upset at the state of disrepair. He wanted Mary and Frances Longley to allow him to preach at the next Sunday Service. They agreed – Denys spoke for over two hours quoting scripture all the way through. It was by all accounts a wonderful service that touched the hearts of all. This resulted in all the congregation – men women and children cutting leaves and reroofing the church. A mammoth task.
Ekoko is unlike Bongondza in that it is very sandy, and that makes it very difficult to make bricks; in fact, it just has not been done heretofore, and thus the temporary houses of mud. This temporary house which is being built now we hope will be the last of its kind, providing cement will soon be available again for cement blocks. A few experimental ones have been made and they look nice in their neat little pile. It gives us a good feeling to know that Ekoko will someday have buildings that will last and that the gov’t will respect. Bongondza has some buildings of which to be proud, thanks to Dr. Westcott. We have been fortunate in purchasing some ready-cut, seasoned lumber for this building project at Ekoko, and all of the furniture that will be put into the house will be moveable so that it can be transplanted in the girls’ cement house sometime soon.
So, the house is still unfinished when Marcellyn arrives. A letter written by Hector on the 6th January 1948 is the first indication that Marcellyn has arrived and she and Ione are able to share time together; but as it is Hector writing, the focus is more an update of the work he has been doing for his ‘boss’ Kinso:
I trust you got the letter that I sent from Lisala. We are expecting a line again from you in this week’s mail. It is so good to hear from good old Bongondza!
You would all appreciate sitting where I am and listening to Marcellyn and Ione singing as they are sitting at the organ. Ione had started a letter to Verna on this typewriter but I just silently slipped out the letter and started this one as I’m sure the organ will occupy them for an hour or two.
The plane was in a little late at Lisala because it got stuck in the mud on the stop before that. I guess the pilot went too close to the end of the runway. They had to get a tractor to pull it out. There were only five passengers when they left Leo and they picked up a few more on the way. I got a picture of Frances and Marcellyn meeting each other, and then one of them with Denys. We left Lisala about 1:30 p.m. Sunday. It was just about dark when we got to Bumba. The road was quite rough. Almost every bridge had to be taken at a snail’s pace. Frances drove about 80 kms. Fortunately, we found the Nogeura store manager at the tennis court and he kindly came with us and gave us the two drums of gas. Then another man was contacted because we were getting low on oil. He gave us two litres and wouldn’t take a penny. He said he had been stranded a few times and was only too glad to help others out. We had to turn the lights on then. The whole three were taking too much (energy) so I disconnected the one without the glass and drove with the others. The road was good and after the pontoon we made splendid time. We got in about 10:30. Ione and Marcellyn had a real meeting and soon a crowd of natives were in the yard. We had a light lunch, took Kenneth out to see his AUNTIE, and then went to rest.
The car is a wonder ! ! ! ! How the body follows that engine around, I do not know ! ! ! At the BMS at UPOTO I took Saturday afternoon to check on a few things. The one radiator hose was leaking down at the block connection, so I cut off a bit and pushed it on farther. The radius rods were rattling again but were not really lose. However, I found a nice big steel bolt in Mr Taylor’s junk box and it is in good condition now. We had no load to speak of so the tires had a bit of rest. I was ever so thankful for those shock absorbers on the front end.
And so back to work. We have the floors in the two nearest bed rooms. It must be about three feet on this one side. It is beginning to be quite nice now.
Tomorrow should finish the floors, and then we can sand and pembi (whitewash) the walls. They are drying out quite well.
We saw a Jeep station wagon in Bumba on the way to Lisala last Friday. It has gone about 4000 km. We just talked to the chauffeur, but he said it drives just like a car. There is only back wheel drive. The springs are ever so soft. He caught the front end and bounced it up and down so easily. The engine is remodelled and the seating arrangement is ample for seven. We were ever so pleased with it.
We are preparing for the day of prayer tomorrow. How we all need to be continually before the Lord these days. The finances need to be especially remembered. The BMS have been told to not start any new buildings. They can complete any they have started and build anything else that can be done with local material, but that is all. So it is just as well that we got this house here at Ekoko so well on the way, rather than wait for permanent buildings.
The speedometer registers 999500.
Hoping to hear from you soon. Yours in Christ,
When Ione writes to her mother, there is more detail of the sister’s reunion. They celebrated Christmas again, put up a little tree and cooked pumpkin pie! The letter is brief as Ione needs to catch the post.
On the 13th January 1948, Hector provides the team at Bongondza an update on his activities at Ekoko:
The house and furniture is coming along well. Frances is looking after the tabs while I’m trying to stay at carpenter work. We were planning the kitchen to stove this afternoon. I think we have hit upon something quite good. It will have one ash pit, a grate made of pipes out of old bicycle frames, a large top using a flattened out drum, and oven to the side made of a half 200 litre drum, with the closed end having a square door cut in it; the other end being bricked up; a damper to let the fire get started up the chimney and then closed off so that the heat will have to go over top of the drum, down the other side, underneath, and along the bottom to the back of the stove and up the chimney. It is the nearest thing to a stove from home that I know of. In fact, the front of it will be in about the same proportions.
Kenneth is getting so big and strong, even standing up in his carriage. We’ll have to put an eaves trough around it or else tie him down! !! Ione is giving us good meals. We haven’t had our French exam yet. Frances is always threatening, but I tell her that I’ll have to stop making furniture to study, so she recants!!!
We are remembering the work there each day and pray that the Lord will bless.
We are waiting for news about Miss Baker, but keep her there until we have her things moved over. It will be another week before the pembi (whitewash) is on. Hector
Ione writes to her niece and nephew, Ruth and Lawrence:
Today one of the native boys finished making a cute little kiddie car for Kennie. Uncle Hector has been trying to get a bicycle motor to work so that he could really go places on his bicycle. He cycled all the way from here to Kole which is about 17 miles and he was pretty tired.
Just now the car has a part being repaired in Stanleyville. Your Mother will be glad to know that even tho’ we are so far from a town or doctor, one happened to stop here this week on his way to take a month’s course in Stanleyville at the laboratory there. So he could check up on Kenneth’s health (it was all right), and he will go back in a month’s time so he will look at him again. Isn’t the Lord good to bring a doctor right to our door? And the month after that we’ll probably have a nurse here to stay, for Pearl Hiles passed her medical course in Belgium and can come here as soon as she gets a boat. Isn’t that grand?
Won’t you pray for us especially now in this dark rainy season when so many people get pneumonia. Little Kenneth takes his quinine every day; it is bitter but he does not mind; he takes it in liquid form. He has orange juice, too. Now may the Lord bless you all is my prayer. Lovingly, Auntie Ione
To their parents, Lucille and Maurice, Ione writes:
In the mail just before Marcellyn came we were notified by Mr Pudney that Valley Farms had found it necessary to discontinue my service support (That is the monthly monetary commitment that pays Ione for the work she has undertaken on the mission field). Of course, we will have to make a few adjustments, but I do want you to know that it is not so hard to do without this as it would be my allowance. So do not worry about it. And in the following mail I had a notice from the 1st Baptist Church, Pontiac that my salary will be increased $10 a month. The Lord is good, isn’t He? I am thankful that we had the service support so long, for we were able to lay in some tools and equipment in the shop & they will continue to serve us. We were able also to help the hospital work, but now Pearl will be there with her money, too.
When Marcellyn came she told me that you have some uncertainty with regard to the future. Is it that you are not planning to stay there? I would like to know in order to pray more intelligently. Your heartaches are mine, you know. I don’t know what I would do if I were in your position, and with four children. I guess we have it pretty easy here.
I wish you would pray definitely that we may be led as to where to go for our next baby. I haven’t seen a doctor yet and am not even sure just when the baby will come. If I feel movement next month I’ll expect him in June! I am hoping that either Marcellyn or Hector can go with me. It will mean a long trip wherever I go, and I want to take Kenneth. Poor little fellow won’t have a chance to be a baby long. But he is very cooperative. He changed over to Klim so that I could store a little nourishment for his sister. And he has 8 teeth so that he can bite things; and he is trying to stand up now. He started saying Mama this week.
He is a good baby and is no trouble at all. He has been having diaper irritation but now I am taking special care that each garment is boiled and washed in a mild soap; I have an ointment, too.
How I wish I could see Jimmie. I’ll bet he is darling now. He is the age Kenneth will be when we begin to get ready for furlough. Clothes are a problem, but I am trying to keep enough saved to fit him. Kenneth is 26 inches long now.
I was glad to hear about the bicycles. It must be fun riding together. I received Ruth’s letter written in June and did enjoy it so much. Her jokes made me chuckle. Am enclosing a few stamps. Esther’s August letter came, too, with the dear little letter for Kenny. Tell Jimmie Kenny’s hair is brown like his Daddy’s but his eyes are blue. Kenny is often “dightly slamp,” Esther!
And now to thank you, too, tho’ belated, for the lovely birthday card and a dollar enclosed. I do appreciate it very much. It is good to see American money again.
Now do write soon. Marcellyn & I shall be waiting to hear. Be assured that Hector and I are constantly loving you all and we have confidence that “the Lord shall guide thee continually.” Lovingly, Ione
Hector keeps Kinso updated on the progress with the house building and sends another update on 25th January:
Sorry about the trouble with Botiki’s pay. The last time was when we went in to Stan when Ione and I were on the way to Oicha (the previous year). Botiki bought the bicycle and I gave him his pay from Jan-May. So the balance for the year was to be 1050 francs less his tax. But we can settle all that later. I guess Alf Walby’s parcel must have had too little postage. Or else it’s just the mail. The nails have not arrived yet, so that is more mix up. We sent to Cophaco for printing paper and Acidofix. The paper came last week but nothing about the developer. But we get used to these things by and by.
I took Kenneth over here with me this afternoon to give Ione a time of rest. He is on the bed with the mosquito net all tucked in and playing with his toys. He seems to like to slide off the bed and lay down in the net, then I have to go over and give him a boost back into the middle. I had fun teaching him to take a few steps. He surely is active, but he has been sleeping from 6-6 for the past two nights. I’ll have to make a high chair and play pen when we get back.
Now about our return. We have decided to try to get all the doors and windows in this week and leave next Monday morning. However, if Mary brings any other suggestions from you folks we can change these plans. A couple of carpenters have come in now and they should be able to go ahead with the furniture. I have the food cupboard well on the way and was planning some other things but Frances would rather have the other more essentials. The stove is almost finished. We have tried it out and it draws very nicely. I just have to put on the doors and another length of stove pipe. One could stay on here indefinitely until all this lumber is used up, but that is impossible.
On the 17th February 1948, Hector reports to Kinso:
The Faulkner’s arrived yesterday about 2:30 p.m. They had arrived at Bumba the night before about 8 p.m., slept in the rest house and got a Greek truck to bring them through with all their baggage. When they go to Bunduki, Mr Nizi said he would take them on the rest of the way, so the other fellow turned around and returned to Bumba. (The rate is 12 francs per km.!!!) It was a great time of rejoicing when we heard the truck; everybody was rushing about. About 5 p.m. we had the official reception presentation of the new organ to Denys. He was almost as thrilled as MARY ! ! ! We are all very happy that so many prayers have been answered.
Now about your suggestion, for our return. As I see it, we might as well have the money in your car fund as people as in the coffers of the CVC. But there is the inconvenience to you people and we don’t want to impose on your good nature. However, if you want an approximate date we would suggest the last week of Feb. You won’t be getting this letter until 24 or 25, so if you can, come up Wed. or Thurs. and have a day here and then we can return Fri or Sat. If there is an over-load we can have a box or two ready for CVC. There are several reasons for getting back by then. Ione wants to be there for the start of school, and another reason is that supplies are running low here. But if you are unable to come until the first week in March we will adjust ourselves to your plans. Thank you for your kindness in suggesting such an idea. It will be much better for Kenneth. We keep reminding him of his uncle and auntie at Bongondza. He’s glad to have little Betty for a playmate.
So, until we see you we will try to keep busy.
I know you will be glad to see the new house when you come, so we will be waiting for you. Yours in His Grace, Hector, Ione and Kenneth
PS: Enclosed check for our keep here. The girls would like cash if you can get it in Buta or Aketi.
In March 1948, Ione gets more bad news about her financial support:
Once more may I say thank you for your generous gifts of $50, sent thru our Mission headquarters. This has met a real need and we surely praise the Lord for it.
Mr Pudney has informed us that this gift will probably be the last from you, as the church will not be able to continue giving us as before. Let me assure you that we understand your situation and are only thankful that you have been able to contribute this long. May the Lord bless and prosper you as you continue to serve Him in whatever way He so leads.
Thank you very much for all you have done, in money gifts, other items while I was with you, and for all you are doing for Petersons and my other sister Marcellyn.
Do not feel badly that you cannot continue giving. I still love you all and shall be as happy as ever to see you again when we come on furlough. Lovingly yours in Christ, Ione Reed McMillan
This kind of news must be a blow for Ione but she keeps her faith that the Lord will provide in another way.
In a letter on the 13th March, Ione is in a reflective mood:
Dear Maurice, Lucille & family,
“The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.” Gen. 39:23.
On the missionary field there are the tasks done by the ‘specialists’, the doctors, nurses and teachers, and then there are those who find it their lot to ‘fit in’ and occupy various positions, sometimes several at one time. My husband and I are these ‘fitters-in’, and we can say it has been a blessing to have the Lord with us, and to let Him make the work to prosper. (This is yet another reference to missionary work not being exactly how it had been perceived but Ione seems to be more at ease with the situation.) We might go down on record as having had charge of the workshop and hospital. Surely most of Hector’s time has been at the shop, for there were buildings to be erected and furniture to be made. I have spent very little time at the hospital except to conduct their morning meetings and give a few words of advice now and again, for Botiki knows more than I do about what should be done for the sick. Most of my time has been spent in the boys’ school, where I taught music and handwork and helped in their devotional services. I had music, too, for the evangelist’s class and the school teachers, as well as a Sunday choir. Then there were the times, choice and precious to me, when the Jenkinson’s were away and I had the women’s classes and the evangelists. Hector alternated with Mr Jenkinson in taking the station church services and has been out for several short trips to the villages for meetings.
Another blessed section of the work newly started was the Sunday school. This entailed a preparation class with the Christian lads, one got to know them better and was able to impress on them the importance of Christian service. One lad was chosen to be the superintendent and after opening exercises the school dispersed to various classes. This year has been the most fruitful ever experienced among the boys: many made a profession. A little prize was offered to the class who brought in the most outsiders to Sunday school, and several have successfully brought some. Some things were amusing too, as when the ‘superintendent’ was exhorting the whole school to hide God’s Word in their hearts; said he, “Don’t be like the people who come to the hospital for medicine for worms, and then, because it is nasty, they go aside under a bush and spit it all up!”
In a letter written by Ione on 27th March, she again echoes the rewards of her work as well as some trials:
Just this evening a school boy came to the verandah and said in a low voice, I have come to believe on the Lord, so we sat down together, and he told me he had been impressed in yesterday’s Good Friday services of his need to turn away from the sins of all the world. He was quite ready to accept Christ, and I was thankful to see such a big boy take that stand. When fellows like this decide for Christ I know that folks at home must be praying. Do not let them down, for there are many more boys like Kwa, who need to come, and will if we will continue to pray for them.
There are now about 100 boys in the school; I have their music classes and conduct a weekly Sunday school in which they themselves are the teachers. Tomorrow’s classes will be joined because of Easter services, and we will present the pageant, “These Three”- a pageant I directed for a Sunrise Service at the First Baptist Church before I left for the field. The costumes will not be as elaborate, nor the actions dainty or refined, but we trust the Scripture will prove a blessing to all.
The animal life is still active here. This week we killed another snake in the dining room, right behind the chair where I was feeding the baby; I couldn’t kill it until I had deposited both the dishes and the baby, and then I got the shovel and smashed his head; then there was a scorpion in the kitchen which jumped out of the wood box when I reached in for shavings. I was thankful I had a good light so that I could see it immediately, for it travelled pretty fast. I killed it with an axe head! Such fun!,
I would appreciate your praying especially for me this year as I have charge of the Women’s Work at Bongondza. This means a number of classes and meetings with them and visiting. I love the work and trust I will see many of the women accepting the Lord and establishing Christian homes.
Although Marcellyn is now in the same country, the two sisters are over 200 miles apart so the letter wring continues: and Ione writes on 28th March:
When we left there was so much I wished we had done. Did your baggage come?
As soon as I came to Bongondza there was work to do, for classes were starting on Monday. The folk here had pembied (applied ‘pembi’ or whitewash) several of our rooms and housecleaned them, so I had another room pembied and finished the housecleaning (all but the basement and attic). Verna had to make another trip to Yakusu to see the doctor so her class was not running yet, thus I could have the services of one or two of her boys to do the work. Then I started plans for the Easter Pageant, which is being held tomorrow afternoon. I used the one I directed in the First Baptist in Pontiac one year, “These Three”. Those taking part are the evangelists, the women, and the schoolboys; the girls sing one song. We had to prepare it in a hurry; it had to be translated into Bangala, corrected by Kinso, discussed by all, and the rehearsals arranged. We have practiced nearly every day, sometimes during my music classes (three a week) sometimes during the women’s meetings, or a special time. I have the women’s work here now, as Ma Kinso wants to spend more time in the Evangelists’ School. Tell Frances we have an angel, but he is not so beautiful as her Christmas ones, with the wings and all!
I enjoy the women’s work very much, but lately have not been able to do calling on the sick, etc. Partly because I am not very strong, and tire easily, and partly because of so many cases now of Small Pox. Pearl has several isolated (if you can ever isolate an African!!) near the station, and some temperatures have been quite high. She reported the epidemic at once to the Banalia doctor. He has made one trip and has sent vaccine for everyone from here to about 15 kilometres away, so Pearl has been swamped, vaccinating hundreds daily. Today she has a native nurse helping her, whom the doctor sent. She vaccinated Kenneth several days ago and he has been having a good reaction. He is not feeling too well, but eats some of his food, and drinks lots of water. A few days ago the mother of our cook fell ill, and it turned out to be Small Pox, so Gaston (the houseboy working for Ione and Hector) was ordered to leave his village and stay right on the station at night. He did one night, but the next day both the doctor and nurse caught him in his mother’s village. They said he could not work for the duration of the epidemic, so he left last night. It is hard to protect ourselves from such a catching thing. Will you pray that there may be no serious results in the schools or among ourselves. There is just one case in the girls’ school as yet.
Kenneth keeps pulling my left arm; that accounts for the mistakes. I have his carriage a little too close, I guess. These last few days he has been a “mother’s baby”, for he doesn’t want me out of his sight and he perspires so much I have to change his clothing often. He knocked the scab off the vaccination today, but I guess it will still work.
I had a grand letter from Mother this week. Her letters are so full of love and interest. I wish so much that she could have a permanent home. She says now she will be with Inez Slater for a while.
Mary Rutt has a swollen eye from a filaria; it is almost entirely shut and has been for several days now. Olive seems well and peppy. She has charge of the two divisions of the 1st year and she personally teaches the second in the boys’ school. The third year Machini has, and Verna has two classes, the 4th and the 5th. They have issued 108 suits; not so many as last year. The girls seem to stay about the same, around 30, I think. They are singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” Sunday.
Anziambo and Machini took our gun out today and bro’t back a monkey, but we did not share the meat. There are ever so many chimpanzees around but we are not allowed to kill them. They do spoil the gardens. This is the time the native’s plant corn. I want to get a place cleared now again but have no gardener. Our old cook wanted to go to his home in Sandilands to ask for wealth to buy a wife, so we let him go and he’ll not be back for a month or two; then the wash jack got a bad ankle and had to be put off work temporarily; then we had just Gaston the ‘boy muke’ (small boy) and the gardener, so we put Gaston into the kitchen, and Mbutu washed clothes. The latter we have never allowed in the bedrooms because he has a history of stealing, so I always bro’t the clothes to the washroom for him. Then yesterday two handkerchiefs and a baby washcloth were found in the hands of a schoolboy and I tho’t I’d better count the linens to see if Mbutu was selling or giving away things. Well, we had a Good Friday service and I told the boys to quickly finish and come to church, but they did not come. Then we had forgotten to lock the hall door which leads to the bedrooms, and when Hector returned a little while later to get a mosquito net for the baby’s carriage, he found Mbutu in the baby’s room, he had crawled under the bed to hide! In the meantime, I counted the linens; but of course even the things missing do not indicate that he stole them, for other boys had access to that room, too. But one of the double sheets is gone and a few hankies and towels and washcloths.
I don’t like to lock up everything, but you see what happens when the door is left open! Well, so long for now. I have two school boys working part-time now. Write soon, won’t you, for I long to know what you are doing. Love, Hector and Ione and Kenneth
Whilst Hector and Ione maintain their output of letter writing, having so many people to write to means some have to wait a while, Hector makes a point of apologising to Leone Reed about his delayed response to her letters: on April 3rd 1948 he writes:
I’m sure you feel very neglected, after all these weeks of waiting for a reply to your letter especially to me. Well, you can be sure of this one thing that other folks are being shamefully neglected as well. It seems so difficult to leave the work at the shop and sit down at the desk to get some correspondence caught up. But this evening there is time for several letters and yours is the first.
Thanks for your kind offer to get something for me. The suggestion has come at a favourable time. My set of little screwdrivers has had some hard usage and I have only one left. I saw the enclosed ad in the Popular Mechanics Mag and wondered if you might be able to locate these or ones like them. I would be more than pleased, because so often I am able to do small repair jobs on watches or other little things, for some of the missionaries; so you are helping in the Lord’s word ! ! !
I am enclosing a picture of Kenneth and I. It is not very clear as the last lot of developer I got must have been old. However, you can see that we are a happy pair. Just wait until there is another one. We are getting thrilled already. I hope it will be a girl but another little laddie would be more than welcome.
We want to thank you for the many prayers that are going up to the throne of grace for us. The Lord keeps us busy and happy in HIS work. We wouldn’t be anywhere else.
Ione wants a few lines to say a word so I will close my section. Good-bye for now and the Lord Bless you…. Your son,. XXX Hector
Ione adds on:
Thanks for your latest letter. You must keep receiving the money via Marion, Mother, for I know you need it. And as for the layette, a group of ladies in Hector’s church sent a number of things so that I have only to make some jackets, a few little towels, a couple receiving blankets out of a blanket I have already, but if you or someone could send some more of those lovely little short-sleeved part wool shirts like were in the box it would be grand. I could use 3 or 4. And if you could have a ½ doz. more small pictures made like you sent of Kenneth & me – swell.
The box was wonderful and so satisfying. I could see your choice in so many things. The suits are just right now. The food so good. We get a vegetable basket every other week; also fresh butter now. No more space – will write more next time. Love, X Ione
Ione keeps up her letter writing to friends and supporters, always appreciative of their faithful continued contact, writing on 17th April 1948:
Dear Mr and Mrs Brubaker,
Thank you very much for the calendars and blotters. We have shared them with our co-labourers and all appreciated them. I had one left afterward and I gave it as a Sunday school prize for the boy who told best the lesson one Sunday. If you were to come out here you would probably see it pinned up on the wall beside Tigbuli’s bed!
We are all O.K. Kenneth has recovered from his vaccination for small pox. He was a bit feverish and lost his appetite but it was only for a few days. Now he can eat more oatmeal than his mother! So many are still taking it for small pox, (interestingly, she does not disclose that there are cases locally and that the family could possibly be at risk!) but the Lord protects us missionaries and none have been ill as yet. We are thankful to have a nurse here now. In about six weeks we expect to go to the hospital for our next baby. We hope Kenneth will be walking by then!
Hector and I are as much in love as ever, and we have been married a long time now! I have the good fortune, as you do, Mrs Brubaker, to be married to a thoughtful and appreciative man. We are happy in the work here. Hector is a bit thin but keeps quite well. He has several jobs going on the building end of things. Tomorrow he’ll be having charge of two services. I love my women’s’ work & boys’ classes.
May the Lord bless you both. Lovingly in Christ, Ione & Hector
Ione and Hector must have been very busy at this point, preparing so that they can go to Yakusu for the birth of their second child. They arrive safely as seen in Kinso’s letter to them both on 12th June 1948. Kinso and Hector appear to work closely on projects and Kinso keeps Hector up to date on unfinished business:
Verna’s house goes up slowly. The bricks will all finish today but I don’t anticipate too long a delay. The State (that is the Belgian government officials stationed at Kole) are giving us men to cut wood for the kiln and 28 turned up this morning (+ 30 more at midday) to start in Monday and we expect many more. Thus, I hope to put the fire in the kiln Tuesday and then get enough wood cut for perhaps three other kilns.
It is almost noon and the Carters have not yet put in an appearance but we are all ready for them. We have a fire put in your kitchen so that they will have hot water to bath the kids etc. We managed to get the shingles on to your mafika (shed) yesterday but the ridge is not on yet.
The generator has arrived from Boyulu. I found it at the C.V.C. Stan and forwarded it.
Ma Kinso fell off the Corgi (the Corgi was a small motorbike developed during the war for couriers, it had a small 98 cc engine. The wheels were small and the bike was fairly cheap to buy and maintain.) last week and made a bit of a mess of herself – grazed forearm, cut knee and bruised all over the place. However, she has been on it again and says she will either master the little beggar or else leave me a widower!
I am sorry to say that we have had to expel Angayo Paul from school for the usual thing (no mention as to what the usual thing is!). The rest of the school goes on much as usual.
There was a letter from Pudu (Mr Pudney, the UFM general secretary in America) last mail. I gather that things are pretty tight financially with him and he is having to find ways to economize. He drops the hint that Bongondza has had far more than its share of his funds because of the refund he has to make to Pontiac.
He is sending the Ekoko car out ahead of Viola and hopes she will bring her Jeep and the Bongondza car. He says he is sending Ekoko a ½ ton Delivery with the panels cut out and windows put in and he is going to do the same for us. Personally, we are pretty mad for I definitely told him that we would prefer to have whatever came as it left the factory without being cut up. Again, a ½ ton vehicle will not be a great deal of help if there is a Jeep Station wagon here. However, I am thinking this might turn out to our benefit for we have made another proposition to Pudu (Mr Pudney). I have suggested to him that as we (or rather Miss Walker) hopes to have a Jeep that will look after the trekking and passenger travelling thus it would be to our advantage to have something we could use for transport. I have suggested that he send the money out here and we purchase a 25 cwt COMMER from Duncan Smith – the thing Kerri was thinking about. After we got Pudu’s letter I got thinking and did not feel happy about a ½ ton vehicle which had been cut about so I looked at the COMMER literature and got all warmed up about it. Verna came in for a confab and she agrees with my thoughts and has written to her parents to that effect and I have written to Pudu. The cost of the vehicle at Leopoldville is about $2,325 – (Frs. 101,000). That includes the body which they build there for Frs. 8,000. The cab is a three passenger one. I wish you had been here to talk these things over with but I do feel that such a model would be far more use to us than a ½ ton affair.
Of course, the folk at home may not agree to the arrangement but Verna is all for it. I am sure it would be a handy thing on the station and a Jeep will certainly look after all the passenger traffic we are likely to have. I have asked Pudu to wire us if they agree and I have already written tentatively to Duncan Smith.
Umpteen people are waiting for me now so I must end. Wishing you every blessing. Yours as ever, Kinso
Dear Ione – Thinking of you so much dear and hoping to have happy news that your treasure has arrived. We are thinking and praying for you.
Carters not arrived yet. We wonder if they have car trouble, or if they cannot get gas. We have made lots of preparations – have the ice box full of food. We are disappointed that they haven’t come!
Now there was something else to say, but Mary (Baker) is here holding forth about some of the kids. Nurse is here too & ready to begin when Mary leaves off. So, I must stop. How did the French exams go?
A hug to you dear & to Kenneth – just the proper greetings to Hector. As ever, Ma Kinso
As when Ione was awaiting the birth of Kenneth, Hector is busy undertaking work, this time at Yakusu, where he is fixing things. He also has time for a good gossip; on 19th June 1948, he writes to Kinso:
WE RECEIVED YOUR WELCOME LETTER LAST EVENING AND APPRECIATE YOUR TAKING THE TIME OUT TO WRITE TO US. IT’S GOOD TO KNOW THAT ALL THOSE MEN HAVE COME IN FROM THE VILLAGES TO HELP THE WORK FOR A FEW WEEKS.
WE WILL BE GLAD TO KNOW HOW THE CARTERS GOT ALONG ON THEIR TRIP. I WAS GLAD HE WAS ABLE TO GET THE TRUCK REPAIRED.
THAT IS GOOD NEWS ABOUT YOUR NEW PLANS FOR A LIGHT TRUCK. VERNA IS A GREAT SCOUT ! ! ! SHE SEEMS TO FALL IN WITH GOOD IDEAS. HOWEVER, I FEEL SORRY FOR POOR MR PUDNEY. HE JUST DOESN’T SEEM TO HIT THE RIGHT NAIL ON THE HEAD WHEN IT COMES TO DEALING IN CARS ETC. BUT AS YOU SAY, IT MAY WORK OUT TO OUR ADVANTAGE.
WE HOPE THAT MA KINSO HAS BEEN ABLE TO “CONQUER THE LITTLE BEGGAR” (the Corgi) BECAUSE WE DON’T WANT TO SEE KINSO A WIDOWER FOR SEVERAL REASONS. IN HER NOTE AT THE BOTTOM SHE HAS US WONDERING….”NOW THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE TO SAY; BUT MARY IS HOLDING FORTH”…
I have just taken half an hour out to repair this typewriter so that it would write without capitals all the time. I don’t know what it did but it seems better now.
Ione is still holding out. Just like the new cars; delivery uncertain. However, the folks here on the station are happy, due to several repair jobs being done. Even Kpodo is praying for one job I’m doing. The big diesel motor that used to run the 5-kilowatt generator has been out of commission for two years. One Saturday evening it gave a terrific BANG and stopped. Dr. Holmes worked on it for some time and finally got a specialist out from Stanleyville to look at it. He said the whole thing was worn out and the repair parts would cost more than a new motor. So Yakusu sold the generator to one of their other stations and are expecting this new 10-kilowatt outfit to run with essence instead of fuel oil. The other day I got the key for the shop and started in with a few wenches to make the acquaintance of the inwards of the motor. Yesterday I had the piston and connecting rod out (the piston is about like a 5 lb. Klim tin) and several other parts dismantled. After I got it assembled and adjusted I lit the blow torch to warm it up and gave it a few turns with the crank. I got one PUFF out of it. Mr Ennals is quite encouraged because he wants to use it in the print shop to run a new cylinder press that they are getting out soon (or maybe it’s a second hand one). So I will be at it again next week.
I guess Ione has told you enough about our domestic affairs, so I will proceed with a few other things.
It was a very exciting time when the big diesel motor started. I had taken the muffler off, when I had taken it down the second time. After careful check with the instruction book and several adjustments I lit the blow torch and heated up the ignition chamber. As I cranked it and turned off the half-compression valve I could feel it beginning to fire and then it started. The noise of the exhaust was almost deafening. People began to gather from all over. The girls up at Miss Wilkerson’s compound were in great glee. “Are we going to have electric lights tonight?” After it was running for a few minutes I saw Ione and Kenneth coming into the shop. She said she had to push her way through the crowd. I guess I was as excited as the rest, because when I went to make an adjustment on the fuel, I closed it too much and the motor stopped. However, I’ve had it going twice since then. I have been talking with Chesterton since and he said the specialist from Stan gave them very little hope. Any machine that has done seven or eight years’ service is counted as junk, unless it has a complete overhaul job. They paid $1250 for it in ’37 that is the motor alone. Dr Browne was wondering about trying to sell it for around $400 now as it stands. As I was talking to Mr Ennals yesterday, it would be alright for a man who could play around with the adjustments. It must be quite economical to run. Fuel oil is about 800 francs a drum and judging from the adjustment on the fuel pump it injects very little for each stroke; I moved a little plunger (about the size of a lead pencil) a distance of one millimetre. The tank for the cooling system must hold 5 or 6 drums at least. About all that is left to fix up is the automatic oiling system.
Did you get the Corgi fixed up again? And the Ford brakes?
In case Joan (Pengilly) did not give you the details of the thieving at Sabena I’ll try to give a report on it. When the plane came in from (illegible) on Friday evening, one of the passengers was put in the (Sabena hotel) with Mr Simpson. In the dead of the night these fellows came in, took the suitcases, and other valuables and slipped away down toward the river. They forced open the cases, took what they wanted and left the rest by the side of the path. When they awoke in the morning the chaps who had come in on the plane saw what had taken place. He had lost his PANTS, so sat on the side of the bed and cried. Mr Simpson was fair mad. All his money, some shoes, shirts, glasses (he was almost blind without them), and wrist watch that his wife had given him on their anniversary. The other fellow lost about 7000 francs in cash. And so it was reported to the police. But Mr Chesterton helped out with a loan of money and the plane left next day. Several days later Mr Chesterton was called over to the police station. They had caught a whole gang, among them two former Yakusu boys, and one of the Sabena (Hotel) boys. They were about 13 or 14 yrs. of age. One chap had the watch and wallet (They say that natives are afraid of these bifocal glasses so threw them out in the forest). As regards the clothing —the chief of police told three policemen to bring in the clothes that had been found. It amounted to a pile a meter high and a couple of meters across. Something like 40 shirts, yard goods, shoes etc. This is the third recent thievery from Sabena.
Now a bit of business.
This check is for the following items.
Payment of former cheque No. 891700…………2274.
Cash received June 1/48 500.
Kpodo’s fare to Stan 300. Approx.
Our trip to Stan 1250
May posho bill 550
Generator transport 300
I’m enclosing the bill for the tire and tube. I had thought to pay for it, but when I was in Stanleyville that day I had only two signed cheques with me, so had the facture (bill) made out to you. Thank you again for waiting for the long overdue payment
- School will be breaking up here this week, and they do not plan to recommence until the second week in August. Mr Carrington was saying that they do not actually get the whole curriculum taught but the outstations work must be cared for. There will be some real excitement here in the next few days when the results are made known. Carrington knows the pupils like a book. The various households were asking him how their particular boys made out, and he could tell them from memory. What a man he is. He was saying that in a hygiene exam one fellow said that they eat palm fat to grease the JOINTS in their body!!! Carrington had a good laugh about that.
- The Holmes and Mr Ford will be arriving at Leo today. They went down on the Kigoma and report from Coq that the old boat is all renovated. Painted; improved meals and service and the captain very friendly.
- The Parrises and Dr Grey and wife will be landing in Stanleyville this coming Thursday. The Doctor will be taking his stage in Stanleyville instead of Leopoldville. They are bringing a piano with them so the report goes.
- A Mr Simpson from a BMS station down river, came here by boat and was to leave for England by plane on Saturday last. I went up with him to Stanleyville on Fri. and saw the Caters and left Mr Simpson there. He stayed at Sabena and that same night someone stole his glasses, watch and all his cash. Total loss estimated at 8000 francs. The plane fortunately did not leave until Sunday morning so he was able to borrow some money from Mr Chesterton. We haven’t heard whether Sabena has done anything about it. (see details given above)
- Kenneth had a very successful birthday party this afternoon. The two Browne boys were over and everybody was on their best behaviour. Kenneth isn’t quite as helpless as he was a year ago! ! !
International….Dockers strike in England. 90 boats held up. Things quiet in Palestine.
Hector and Ione’s letters rarely comment on world events. Given that Hector, a Canadian is writing to Kinso who is British, it is not unsurprising that mention is made of a dock strike occurring in London. A Labour Government was elected to office and took power on 27th July 1945. The period was marked by many industrial disputes and the workers in England expected a better deal under a Labour government (as opposed to the Conservative or Liberal governments). The only method workers had of dealing with disputes with management was to strike and the trade unions were powerful at this time in history.
The 1948 war in Palestine is known as the War of Independence or War of Liberation. It resulted in an independent state of Israel being set up. This resulted in demographic changes to the area; Jews in Palestine were expelled or fled their homes in Palestine and Palestinian Arabs were expelled or fled their homes that were in the ‘new’ territory of Israel.
Hector would mention both these news items knowing Kinso would be interested.
And so the end of the page. Much love to all…… Hector
The next day, Hector writes to fellow missionaries who travelled to the Congo with him, Chester and Dolena Burke:
Nothing YET ! ! ! !
I have time for just a note before the boat leaves this morning, taking two HAM missionaries up to Stan to catch the train to Lubutu….Mr and Mrs Taylor. He has been here for treatment for dysentery, but is much better now.
Hector recounts the story of Mr Simpson’s plight and details about a meeting with Jim Carter in Stanleyville. It appears Jim is not up to speed on a matter that has recently arisen. It would appear that Denys Likanga has over stepped the mark, there are no details of what he has done to warrant dismissal and whatever his proposals, he has caused consternation:
We had a letter telling about his recent action and were asked for our opinion. He had written an ultimatum to the mission requesting, or I might say, demanding one of three things. A guarantee from the mission for the education of his family or an increase in his salary so that he can put by 75 (we figure about 3000 frs a month such as evolues (advanced ones) receive); or a four year course for himself in Belgium while the mission takes care of his wife and family. He says these things have been in his heart for 14 years. Denys wanted to send this letter to Pudu but Ray held it over. We are surely thankful that Jim has come along at this time. By what he said in Stan I’m quite sure Denys will be dismissed. We all admire the lad and want to do what we can for him; but he has more ambition than faith for such a mission as ours. Kinso wrote to him, very kindly I would say, but said that if one of our missionaries wrote such a letter, he would immediately be shown the door! ! ! We will be anxious to hear the outcome.
He also tells them about trying to fix the generator.
The folks here are ever so kind to us. We were over to supper with Mr. and Mrs. Ennals (he and Mr. Parris founded Maganga and were trekking for Boyulu before they gave the territory over to us) and they told us about the early days of Yakusu, and loaned us four books. It is most interesting. One story was particularly interesting (this is explained better in one of Ione’s letters which is published later- see below).
On 21st June 1948, Ione writes a long letter to her mother and explains why she finds herself at Yakusu for this birth and not at Oicha
We have been here nearly three weeks now and the baby has not come yet, tho’ I keep thinking every day it surely will arrive. I have not felt so good as last year, and so have been lying down most of the time, tho’ I do manage some kind of a walk each day usually. I suppose I use a lot of strength on Kenneth, but it seems that Hector has most of his care. The varicose condition does not seem any worse and this doctor does not seem at all disturbed about it, so I guess there is no danger of a haemorrhage as the state doctor tho’t might happen when labour began. I weigh around 140 pounds which is 20 extra for me and I feel rather heavy. My appetite is fine, and we do have better food here than at home, because it is so near to Stanleyville. We order a vegetable basket every week here instead of every other week as at home, and we have fresher and larger quantity of things. Then we get fresh butter, beef or pork, and even bread from the bakery! Hector’s cheeks are filling out and I am glad to see him looking better. He is having a good rest here. The baby is really due on the 24th, but as Kenneth came ahead of time, we looked for this one early, but now Kenneth’s birthday has come and gone and we are still waiting.
We had the nicest birthday party for him, and there were two little missionary’s boys age 1 and 2 who shared it, the children of Dr. Browne. We had a four-layer cake of alternating chocolate and white, with a big single candle which reads Happy Birthday on it. They sat at a cute little blue table and chairs and first had sandwiches, then custard with canned peaches on, and cookies then the cake, and Grenadine-ade to drink. A visiting doctor took their pictures while they were at the table. It made me so happy to have such a nice time at the first birthday party I ever had for my own little child! I’ve gotten so many parties for other little ones, and this was the nicest of all!
I was so sorry to hear of Lucille’s trouble with her back. It must have been very painful. I haven’t heard from her in a long time, but I do understand, when I know how much she has to do. I had a letter this week from Inez and she said you had gone to Morley. I don’t know where that is, but I suppose I will hear all about it soon. I trust you have had good results from the leaflets. I think they are just grand. With your permission I will send this one to Rev. Lehman and if you will send me a dozen or so more I shall send them to other preachers whom you do not know. If you like I can give you some addresses, too. I want to hear all about Morley and any other places where you go. Marcellyn and I are hoping that someday you will be coming out here with us.
I’m glad you visited the old neighbourhood. I suppose before long everyone will be gone from there whom we used to know. How did you get along May 27th at the Missionary Meeting in Pontiac? I was getting ready at that time to come here.
You tho’t I was going to Oicha as last year, and so did I at first, but then Dr. Becker left there to help set up a 2-doctor hospital at Rethy, and Hector and I felt it was too far to try to go to Rethy altho’ we know we would be welcome. We heard that they were very crowded tho. Here the Doctors do not cater to whites much, for their main interest is in the native work. But as we are the only white patients here just now we do not feel a burden, and we have bro’t our own 2 houseboys and do our own cooking and washing and ironing. If you should see Dr. Westcott try to explain this to him, for I think his preference would have been for us to go elsewhere. The doctor is good, in fact he is the one who is qualified to attend royalty should a king or somebody be sick in Congo.
Indeed, Stanley George Browne (CMG, OBE, MD, FRCS, FRCP, and DTM) was born on 8 December 1907 in London, and studied medicine at King’s College Hospital, London, graduating in 1933. He combined house appointments at King’s College hospital in London with postgraduate study, and became Member, Royal College of Physicians, London in 1934 and Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1935. After being accepted by the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) for work in the Belgian Congo, Browne studied French and tropical medicine at the Institute de Médecine Tropicale Prince Léopold, Antwerp, obtaining the Diploma in Tropical Medicine in 1936. From 1936 to 1959 he worked at the BMS hospital in Yakusu, working to control trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse fly) and onchocerciasis (river blindness) in the surrounding area. His rural surveys showed a high incidence of leprosy, and he endeavoured to find the cause and cure for this disease, establishing a leprosarium at Yalisombo. While at the hospital he oversaw an area of 10,000 square miles, in which he developed a programme of community care based on 18 health centres and 36 treatment centres. This pioneering programme became a model in Africa for the control of endemic diseases.
But I think the fact that they do not solicit white patients caused Dr. Westcott to feel a bit ill toward them. However, they are very kind to us, and have sent us many things to make our stay pleasant. There have been gifts of chickens, vegetables, flowers, etc. besides the regular rations of eggs and fish twice a week. They do things a little differently from Americans but we have no reason to complain. And it is a good feeling to know that when we leave we can reach home in one day (if we are fortunate). Dr. Westcott had written saying that if finances were holding us up from going to either Dr. Kleinschmidt or Dr. Becker, he would help us along. But he has already sent us a Christmas gift of $50 and we did not want to impose on his good nature. And since we were afraid of the long journey and no good car for transportation, we felt we were wiser to come here. I hope Dr. Westcott will be somewhere around when we have our next one! After furlough perhaps.
We have nicer things for this baby than for Kenneth, for we have some of his things left and just recently a box came from some ladies in Hector’s church. There are some lovely little wool sweaters, blankets, etc. And I have saved many things that came in the big box from the Loyal’s. Inez says there is another box on the way. That is a real surprise. And Roberta Kitely wrote saying the 3rd Phil Class is getting another ready. We shall be very well cared for. But since you asked some questions I will answer them. There was nothing for us to pay on that big box, but I guess it cost the Loyal’s plenty, if they sent it thru Keating’s. Smaller boxes sometimes have a postal charge, but it is not a great deal ever. There was nothing broken in that big box and everything was so welcome. We have tried to stretch the eatables out as far as we can. I have one more bottle of baby food yet. I know things like that cost a lot, but different things to eat are so welcome here, especially sweet and sour things. We get pickles very seldom. But whenever we have tomatoes I can make ketchup or chili sauce. If you see some children’s tooth brushes a few would be nice for Kenneth. He has 16 teeth now and must start to brush them! He needs more little sox and shoes already. He’s wearing size 5 sox now but they will soon be too small. I believe his shoes are 5 too. He has no decent little boy’s hat, only one I have made out of a brown felt of Hector’s. He has the straw braid for me to make him a straw hat when I can, but a felt is quite important, too. I am afraid I shall not be able to wear my nice dresses that I bro’t out with me, because my hips are larger now. So if there should be opportunity to choose a cotton after noon dress it would be welcome, probably size 16 or 18 now. And a cotton slip and panties, too. But I can make these things I know, so don’t be anxious about them. I have told Roberta Kitely that I needed brassieres, so expect she will send them. They are the only items I just can’t make decently. Hector needs about everything, but we are thinking that we might have an allowance saved out soon and ask Maurice to buy Hector a good lightweight suit and some shirts and under things. But we will try first to see if we can get him anything when we pass thru Stanleyville again. I have never seen any nice suits there tho’. The D.O.C. that you have sent from time to time has supplied him wonderfully and he has never had a very long stretch without it. He does like it very much.
I just asked Hector if there was anything else to mention, since you had asked us to ‘unburden ourselves’. He had Kenneth in his arms to take him out for a little airing, and his eyes twinkled as he said, “Tell her to come and get Kenneth!” And Kenneth’s little eyes twinkled just like his Daddy’s! He imitates everything Hector does; just now they were crowing like roosters. He follows Hector everywhere and tries to take big steps. He can say ‘ball’, ‘bye-bye’, ‘mommie’, ‘daddy’, and the rest is in his own language. All 3 of us love you very much and want you to write real soon.
An extra page-
I decided that I had not written enough, so in spite of the extra postage it will require I am adding some. I was thinking you did not know when Kenneth walked or anything of our recent activities. Then, too, I wanted to tell you a little story which might be useful in your meetings.
Kenneth took his first steps at ten months but it wasn’t until he was eleven months that he began walking in earnest. Now at one year he is very nimble on his feet and even tries to run. He is not quite so large as the other baby here who is two months older, but he is solid all over, weighs about 25 pounds, and his legs are very strong. He had eight teeth at 4 months and now at 1 year has 16, all of his molars and his canine teeth, which make it possible for him to have solid foods he otherwise would not have. He claps his hands when I sing, “Joy, Joy, Joy with joy my heart is ringing” and tries to point his chubby fingers up to heaven. We are real happy with our little boy, Mother. Hector has his heart on a girl now, Linda Lu (Lucille), but I will be just as happy if we have another boy.
While I am away from the station, the work I was doing is being shared by Olive Bjerkseth and Verna Schade, and I turned the women’s work back over to Mrs Jenkinson until I could take them again. I do hope to be in circulation again by the first of August when school starts after their two-week holiday.
While we are here Hector is getting together a history of protestant missions in the Congo in order to speak on it when he returns to the station. It will be for the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Belgian Congo Missions. It has been interesting reading in books which we are able to get here. This mission, Baptist Missionary Society of England is the oldest mission in Congo and they have many interesting stories of early days. During the Arab slave raiding days a little girl was rescued from the Arabs by a Dutch trader and he and his wife protected her until they met some BMS missionaries who took her. When they were to make a journey up the Congo to this new and unexplored territory they took her with them. The natives were very hostile and shot arrows at them, some of them poison arrows, and tried on many occasions to kill them. One day when their boat was up in this territory where we now are, their boat had to pass near the shore for it was narrow and the little girl noticed that the natives had markings on their faces just like she did. She was thrilled but did not know then they were of her tribe, for she had been very small when the Arabs stole her. Very soon the missionaries tried to land but the natives began to say in their tongue that they would kill them. And wonders of wonders, the little girl understood what they said! Her old language came back to her. And she immediately spoke to them and said not to kill these people for they were very kind. And because of the little girl’s words they waited. A little bit later a man appeared and it turned out that he was the little girl’s own father. He was so thrilled to find her that he did not leave her again. And when the missionaries came on a little way farther to Yakusu (where we are) the father came right along. That little girl was their interpreter and she was used of the Lord to draw many to Christ. Yet today some of her relatives are still on this station. It is a good example of what a little child can do for the Lord.
A story I read from the Heart of Africa Mission history is about a boy whose name is Egg, Mayaiya, who had no ears. That is very sad but shows how some suffered cruelties before the missionaries arrived. This happened up near our Boyulu and Maganga stations. The missionary asked him what had happened to his ears and he said he ate them. Then he told her that he had been a slave to a wicked African chief and because he ran away, the chief had his ears cut off and cooked them and made him eat them. He said he was sick for many days.
I guess that’s enough for now. Tell me some news. Write soon and Love, Ione
The ‘extended family’ back at Bongondza are all missing Hector, Ione and Kenneth, the following are short notes written in June that they all send to the family and demonstrate the affection they have for each other:
Dear little Kenneth,
First of all, a very happy birthday to you. When you come home we have got a little piggy bank for you. We hope you have a lovely birthday – and a lovely little “ndeko” (sibling) from Mummy and Daddy too. With love from Auntie & Uncle Kinso.
Dearest Ione & Hector,
All jogging along here – just waiting for your return. Carters came. They did enjoy your house. Mary said once or twice – “This is such a lovely house.” I was so glad! They were quite comfy I’m sure. They left for Ekoko on Wed. to sleep en route – expect to return on next Wed. All else well except Anziambo very seriously ill. My class slow this week as two are helping in the school, 2 out going after their wives. I hope we shall perk up next week.
We’re continually praying for you & thank God upon every remembrance of you. Hoping to get good news this week. Love from both. Kinsos (Ma Kinso).
Yes, we’ll be mightily glad to have you back with us again. Things are somewhat slow. All bricks finished – fire now in kiln but very disappointed. It has been going already 2 days & 2 nights and the fires have not been kept good but it is not by any means cooked. We now have enough wood cut for at least two more kilns & I rather think it will do three so I hope that will help us along.
My! I have been thankful for the Corgi – a great energy saver both day and night. Getting up in the night isn’t such a burden when one hasn’t to walk down & up the hill. On my last trip in the dark the lamp bulb burned out. Maybe you can get us one or two in Stanleyville– 6 V. 6 W. bayonet cap, centre contact. Tonight is moon-light.
The more I think of the truck proposition as mentioned in my last letter, the more I hope Pudu agrees to it. Verna is sure that her parents will & the last report she had was that they had $2,100 in hand. By the way we have written to A.I.M. to say that we won’t be able to attend the Rethy Conference. Lack of transport rules it out. Yesterday when I wanted to take the car out the brakes were solid (frozen!) & she wouldn’t move under engine power. Had to slacken them off then they wouldn’t work at all so I can’t get the happy medium. I am working on the cables now but haven’t got the job mastered. Hope for better success tomorrow. Then brought the new tyre & tube. Thanks ever so much for getting it for us. I have it mounted on the rim & will put it on before using the car.
PS: Hope to get permit for 2 tons cement from Buta – less transport there than Stan & I heard that Sedec had 40 tons waiting for purchases.
Dear Ione & Hector, –
Quelle nouvelle? Linda Lou or Hector Jr.? Hope all is over and has gone well. I trust your time there has provided a good rest for you both and that your new addition will bring you much joy & happiness. We are not rushing in maternity work last two weeks – only one case (B.O.A.) born on arrival (plastered with mud from the road en route to the hospital). Best wishes and lots of love. May God bless. Pearl
Dear Ione and Hector and Kenny and Linda Lou (obviously a pet name for the yet unborn baby should it be a girl!)!
Greetings! How are all of you! We are getting lonesome to see you! How about coming back soon! And here is some work for you Hector. Do you suppose you will be able to carry back the cash for the enclosed check! Thank you so much. It is for the round house. It is coming along great. You will be surprised I am sure. And one more thing, if you have any shopping sprees would you bring me about three yards of some rather nice white material for making shirts – not Americani – something at about 30 francs a yard, or less if you can find something nice at that rate. Sorry to always be a nuisance, but I must leave room for the rest of the family. My love to you – or shall I say, appropriate greetings to Hector and love to the rest. Even singing class goes quickly for me now, Ione. Nothing like practice. But how glad we will be when you are back! Much love. Verna
Dear Ione and Hector and family,
How goes everything by this time? All well, I hope! Just doing a bit of painting in Joan’s room. Don’t know when she will arrive, but I guess I’d better get ready. Lost a little girl yesterday. Thought it would happen, we had so many fights over her, and now it is finished and she is gone. Must close. Hope we see you all soon. Lovingly, Mary
Dear Ione & Hector & wee Kenneth,
We are anxiously waiting for the good news. Our native brethren are praying for you too. We enjoyed having the Carters with us and will be happy to see them again when they return from Ekoko. We gathered at your house last Sunday night for our service. I had an attack of malaria & have been a bit upset since. Our teacher Erneste went with the Carters as far as Aketi to get his bride. Asani has been teaching in his room. Ngbayo is teaching in Anziembo’s room. We almost thought we would lose A. this week but God has touched his body. There has been a sudden influx of children in A.’s room. Ione you might be interested to know that our little Mulatto boy loves to sing. Maybe he will be a real credit to our school someday. With prayer & training he might prove a real blessing in this land someday. Love, Olive
Now dear ones. Looking forward to your return & best love. Even Minuet (Her black cat) is here pushing her nose in to say greetings. Ma K.
PS: STOP PRESS
Corgi’s gone on the blink. Spent a long time on it today without any result. I am ever so sorry. Maybe Jim will try his hand on it. Banalia Dr. & Boutte called today. God bless you. Kinso
It would seem Kinso is jinxed with all things mechanical when Hector is away.
On the 25th June 1948, Kinso has yet more news for Hector and Ione,
The envelope which comes to you this week will be a mixed grill. Hope you are able to understand everything. Thank you ever so much for your good letter received last Tuesday. Sorry Linda Lou (expected baby) is holding out so long but I can’t blame anyone wanting to keep away from this troubled world as long as possible.
Tuesday’s mail brought us more trouble. Mrs Longley (Frances Longley’s mother) has had a stroke which is likely to prove fatal. Mr Longley would like Frances to return home at once for he doesn’t want to have to leave his home and he must have someone to help him as you know. They have made arrangements for Frances to fly home as soon as ever she can get away from Ekoko. We guess it is this which had held up the Carters. Their plan was to return here Wednesday last but it is now Friday night and no sign of them. This will be a sad home-going for Frances and naturally we all feel very much for her.
All going much as usual here but will go better when you return. Haven’t been able to lay any bricks for more than a week but kiln has now cooled down and this coming week we hope to get going again. The kiln is a sad disappointment but we’ll get some out of it. Have been able to get more bricks made this week but we were rained off today again.
Corgi is going again splendidly and being a great help. The trouble was in the spark plug. I suspected that from the first and gave the plug a superficial clean, washed in gas and applied a tooth brush and as that gave no result I messed about with the carburettor still without result. However, as I felt certain it must be the plug, I tried another and away she went. Then I took down the original plug for I was not getting perfect results with the substitute. It was hopelessly ‘gooed’ up but when thoroughly cleaned and reassembled it did its stuff once again. We must get a couple of spare plugs for the Corgi if we can; they have a longer thread than usual, at least twice as long. I suppose it is only natural with mixing oil with the gas that it will get dirtier than usual. Ma Kinso has done quite a lot of visiting on Corgi this week. She hasn’t been further than Wana’s village or Sanatu’s but she has found it a great help and her confidence is just about restored.
Took the Ford (truck) into Kole for mail etc., Tuesday. We called on Bastin for we picked up some things for him. He tells us that in a month’s time he hopes to get a 4-ton Dodge.
Hope you are able to get the diesel motor running for the B.M.S. friends. If you can do that for them I guess they will feel like helping you to get twins.
Did we tell you that we put Little Black Sambo on for the Carter kids? (Evidently, they finally arrived) They enjoyed it no end. We put one encore on for them but they would have had it going all evening. When Gordon got into bed he said, “Please shut the door, an animal might come in!”
I really think that is all for this week beyond to wish you every blessing. Yours as ever, Kinso
June 26, 1948 (Letters from Hector & Ione at Yakusu to folks at Bongondza)
Dear Friends at Bongondza:
Summary of NEWS:
- NO BABY YET ! ! !
- Diesel Motor has been running three times this week ! ! !
- News of Joan hoping to leave Stan this morning for Kole.
- Thieves at Sabena caught.
- Making plans to obtain some second-hand wire from here for our electric plant.
- Parris’s and Greys arrived Stan Wed. Greys installed here now.
- Radio rather quiet.
- Repaired the reverse gear on the big motor boat.
- Folks here are planning a big party for Monday evening to welcome the Parris’ and Greys and farewell the Chestertons.
Thank you all for the Bongondza Budget. It was good to hear of the Carters arrival, and that they enjoyed their stay.
I will have a look for several bulbs for the Corgi. I think I remember what they are like. (Yakusu is not far from Stanleyville so Hector can get into town relatively easily to shop and then send the bought items on to Bongondza)
Kenneth has just wakened and is now out on the front porch where I am typing this letter. He had a Quaker Oats tin and a grape nut tin. He takes great delight in putting the smaller one inside the larger one and then taking it out. At present he is fitting himself into the typewriter case which is on the floor. He just has to learn how to pull the lid shut ! ! !
He plays by himself almost all morning now. His appetite is as big as ever. He weighs just under 11 kilos.
We are always glad for news about the round house. Hope the bricks are holding out. That is good news of cement. They are held up here now until the first of the month.
I was talking to Mr. Chesterton about the Commer truck and he says there is a splendid engine in them. The only weakness is the back axle; but he said that was when they were hauling two tons of rice on them almost every day of the year. So it looks as though that would hardly happen at Bongondza. He said they were in stock at Stan. It would be nice if the deal could be made in time for us to take it home in July. If it came to a pinch, we could make the body and save several thousand francs, but Verna might prefer a STANDARD BODY ! ! ! !
Dear Friends (Ione takes over from Hector),
I will carry on for a while since Hector is away from his typewriter. I took a long walk before breakfast but the only result was a good appetite, and we had a good breakfast with fresh fish! But perhaps before the day is over we‘ll have baby news to report.
We are eating very well here. Eggs are 1 franc or 1-1/2 fr. apiece but we get quite a few. Mrs. Browne sends these twice a week and I believe we average at least a dozen a week (not all good tho!) It appears that I will have Miss McGregor as my nurse, even tho’ the Taylors have gone. She has already moved all of the sterile equipment into our room. Two table tops are covered with mysterious-looking trays, sterilizers. I hope everything doesn’t get dusty by the time it is needed! Ione
On June 26th there is another ‘Bongondza Budget’, that is a series of short notes from their friends:
Our dear Hector & Ione,
Your good courier of last week was lovely. We hope that by now the car – no I mean the baby! is delivered – that you both are thrilled to bits! I’m pretty certain that our B.M.S. friends are mightily thankful to you Hector for your help! It’s a marvellous combination of skill and kindness Hector for you to do so much! Please Ione pick up any ideas possible for the Protestant 70th Anniversary & also for women’s’ work- (anything not costly!). Women are very busy but good. 32 on Tues. 29 on Wed. 13 on Thursday. Well dear ones my ¼ of this paper or my ½ rather is done – so good bye with love, Ma Kinso
Dear Ione and Hector,
Just getting started on my letter writing. Was busy doing some painting in the little room again. It is finished now, I think. My kids (Congolese students) got a “shaking up” by Kinso today, because some of the masettis (machetes’) were missing. He made them hunt all morning, and when they got tired they would come and cry to me to let them “carry bricks” instead! However, they did find two of the missing ones, so it was worth it. Am going to ice a cake shortly – want a piece? I tried something new, and it looks pretty good. Must close. Hope the little girl has safely arrived. Love, Mary
Dear Ione and Hector:
It was so nice to get your letter and to know how things are going with you. We are all waiting for the important news of the delivery – (like we are awaiting the delivery of the car!). Hector, we miss your fun. We enjoy it in the letters. How nice that Kenny had such a lovely Birthday party! Give him a hug for me! Thank you for the check, but you didn’t need to trouble about that. You have 20 francs to your credit. Bring half a dozen of the Bibles (French.) along please. Don’t worry about my order. Thanks so much. We have had school a whole week without Anziambo, Machini & Erneste – believe it or not! Asani taught 3e annee (year 3), Ndengbi taught Erneste’s class. But I must quit. Bye. Heaps of love or whatever! Verna
Dear Ione & Hector,
Now I’ll gabble a little. Quelle nouvelle? That’s what we’re waiting for: News and views. If you’ll hurry home we’ll have a celebration. Believe it or not but I’m having my first Saturday afternoon without hospital calls. I’ve been kept quite busy since you left, day and night until this week. Things in general are letting up now so I’m getting a few odd jobs done. I was thinking hard on what to say next when Mary informed me Olive hasn’t written yet, so Bye-bye and God bless you all. Love, Pearl
Dear Ione, Hector & Kenneth:
A happy birthday Kenneth. Better late than never. There is not much space left but I’ll say hello anyway. Kase my (House) boy has been gone all week collecting wealth for Elena. Wamika is coming for the wealth one of these days. Hector did you know Phyllis Kirk has a baby boy. Mr. Maxwell flew to Kansas City some weeks ago & brought his mother back to Three Hills. Love, Olive.
July 1st sees Ione writing again to her mother:
Well, nearly two more weeks have passed and still the baby has not arrived. You have probably receive my June 21 letter by now. I have had no letter from you recently, but mail does not come to us too easily just now as it must be forwarded. I am waiting to hear about your experiences at Morley.
We are getting very tired of waiting, and we do hate for Hector to be away from his work go so long. If it weren’t that he is to be my ‘night nurse’ after the baby comes he could return, but he is really needed. I think I feel less like the baby is due now than several weeks ago. It may be that I am just accustomed to the weight and rested from the journey. We pass our days very quietly, and as the others on the station are busy now with a conference we try to keep out of their way as much as possible. We are doing considerable reading and spending more time in prayer and Bible study. This verse came to me yesterday, “I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Rev. 7:9. It is wonderful that these black folk here who believe shall wear white robes of cleansing from sin, they shall have ‘palms in their hands’ as well. A palm is the emblem of conquest. They shall have conquered self and Sin. Then they shall unite in the glorious song: “Salvation unto our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” What a privilege is ours to be a part of this great work of evangelizing the nations! The vanguard has passed out of sight, but, as Zinzendorf’s friends said, “So be it; we are here.” The work must go on. Where ever men sit in darkness the light must be taken. God must have men. ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go?’ asked the Lord of Hosts. ‘I am here,’ said Isaiah, and ‘we are here’. And what are we? God knows our folly, littleness and weakness. To some people we seem ridiculous people. God has a habit of using ridiculous people, and He does not change. He can use us.
Dr. Edward Wilson, waiting in the eerie Antarctic silence for the dash with Scott to the South Pole, from which he never came back, wrote”
“And this was the thought that the silence wrought,
As it scorched and froze us through,
Though secrets hidden are all forbidden
Till God means man to know,
We might be the men God meant should know
The heart of the Barrier snow,
In the heat of the sun and the glow
And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
With the bite of the drifting snow.”
“We might be the men God meant!” That was the faith of Paul, Augustine, Columbia, Fancis, Loyola, Xavier, Carey, Livingstone – the great succession, the undying race. They have gone. “So be it; we are here.” “Lord, here I am.” (Taken from B.M.S. Commemoration Volume.)
Just now I have taken ‘time out’ to go out to our improvised ‘cook house’ and get ready some things for the (house) boy to bake in the nurses’ oven. We get so little fruit here that I splurged today and opened a tin of applesauce and made an applesauce cake out of part oatmeal and part flour; also a small pie and two turnovers of left-over applesauce and a can of peaches. That ought to take care of our deserts for a few days! The (house) boy helped me with it, but I cannot trust him yet to make pie crust by himself.
Last evening, we asked the two boys to come out on the verandah and we had a ‘sing’ in Bangala. They don’t hear their language used much here and are quite homesick. The cook, Gregoire, has only recently accepted Christ and cannot read yet, but Pwodo, or Frog, reads as well as sings well, and comes from a family of Christians. We sang a number of songs and a nurse and the new Dr. Grey came over to see what it was all about. They said we sounded like a choir, which pleased the boys when I told them. Then Hector had prayer with them. You should see Kenneth trying to sing now. He surely makes a big noise! Before he goes to bed at night we sing, ‘Jesus Tender Shepherd Hear Me, Bless Thy Little Lamb Tonight,” and have prayer. We have done that since he was only a couple of months old. We have the song in Lingala, too, and I am teaching it to the younger boys in the school at Bongondza. (I so long to hurry back there! !)
Just now Mrs. Browne sent over a little piece of liver for Kenneth. They killed a sheep on this station yesterday. I appreciate her thoughtfulness.
I will close for now and leave a little space, just in case the baby comes today. The mail will not go out until tomorrow. Be assured that we love you, Mother, and are praying for you. In Him, Ione
4 P.M. July 2nd
Today the doctors are trying “medical induction” but as yet no results. I have 2 more injections and if the baby doesn’t come then, it just isn’t due yet! Hector took ill this afternoon with fever so we are quite a pair. Because of a sore throat they have “isolated” him. I am taking care of Kenneth, but a native boy is “on call” when I need to lie down. Better news in next mail! This must go now. XXX Ione
Whilst waiting for the medical induction to work, Ione writes to their Bongondza colleagues:
It is provoking to be waiting so long; we had hoped to be anticipating our journey home by now. Today is Empire Day in Canada and over the radio has just come a salute to Canada; Hector was just up to Miss Wilkerson’s. If the baby comes today he will be a Canadian surely; but if he waits until the 4th (our Independence Day in the States) he will be an American.
We did not have any mail yet this week; but presume it will come in with the supplies which come from Stan on Sat. We hope then to get a letter back to you with the boat that leaves here Monday. However, we will send this with the Friday mail for the Monday’s may be too late to reach you. We are getting your mail quite promptly usually. Last week mail that you sent on Sat. reached us on the following Tuesday, but it must have missed somehow this week.
Hector Reporting: 11:15 a.m.
I have just finished another book – the fifth since coming here. This one called, “The living Christ in Modern China,” is a splendid volume written by Joe Young of the BMS in China. It just came out last year so is quite up to date. He had a real experience with the Lord and came through those difficult years in China with a victorious note. He was especially used among the officials and students, and even saw a number of communists saved. He has outlined the political situation very clearly. China needs much prayer ! ! !
Miss Wilkerson said that the dock strike in England has finished. Yesterday there was something over two hundred boats waiting to be unloaded. Britain and America have determined to keep their sectors of Berlin come what may (Here, Hector is referring to the post war division of Berlin into 4: American, British, French and Soviet sectors. The Soviets had won the battle of Berlin and occupied all of it until its division in 1945. The sectors handed back to the British, French and Americans became known as West Berlin and stayed that way until unification took place in 1990). The supply planes were rushing food into the city at a terrific rate. There was a plane landing every six minutes. I guess they have things almost back to normal.
Ione again: Two doctors came to see me this morning. Dr. Browne seems to be turning the case over to Dr. Grey, the new doctor, or at least he is letting him take the initiative. He is from Scotland, apparently a very young man, tho’ well-trained. Besides a thorough training in English he has had time in Belgium. His wife is a graduate in domestic science. I like him very much. They assured me that the baby might arrive very soon now.
We had dinner last evening with a Mr Trenter, the only single man. Since Mr Ford left he lives alone. He is the printer. We had a lovely dinner. Hector and I have a little joke about this man, for he has chatted quite a bit with us and in the course of our talk we mentioned the arrival of Miss Pengilly from Sussex. He asked us the second time if she was single and we assured him that she was. Then after a few moments more he said, “Nice climate your way? Higher altitude, isn’t it?” We said, yes, and then he said, “A good place for a holiday?” We said, “Well, we think you would like it, and we could assure you of a welcome. The food isn’t as good as here, but it is cooler and it would be a chance for you.” He said he would like to come the first two weeks in Jan. Last night he verified the definiteness of his desire to come. Now, we do not know whether it is on Miss Pengilly’s account or not, but he suggested it after learning that she was there!! I think Hector will elucidate a little more on this matter when he sees Joan! By then he’ll have a pretty good story made up.
If Verna has some Time Magazines she has finished, we would not mind having them forwarded here with our mail.
The waiting continues, Dr Browne thinks they may have another three weeks to wait; Hector writes to the Bongondza team:
He can tell us most everything about the baby, except whether it is a boy or girl. He says it is about 7 lbs. now, so a little delay will be helpful. Ione is looking much better. She is able to rest and is eating well. It is amazing how we get away with a whole vegetable basket each week…..
We have come to the conclusion that the Banalia doctor was right in his time verdict. We just live from one day to the next, buying Klim by the tin and petrol by the bottle. Mrs Parris said the other day that they will just add us to their staff here. It makes us feel a little better to be of some help to them, so I’ve consented to overhaul the diesel motor on the big launch, starting sometime next week. They have a whole stock of spare parts, and since the motor has been in almost constant use since ’40, it needs some new parts. Two days ago, Mr Chesterton and Parris were all on board to go up to Stan, the rudder played up. We made a temporary repair. Last year a plantation chief engineer overhauled it for them but didn’t have the necessary spare parts. He made out a list and they ordered them from England. So since they have come they have been waiting for an opportunity to have the job done. Mr Ennals told me this morning that in their committee meeting last night they gave a vote of thanks to Mr McMillan for all he has done and hopes to yet do. It makes us feel that we’re not imposing on them so much when we are able to be of a little help to them.
Kenneth and I are both better again. I had an attack of tonsillitis, but the penicillin pills soon cleared up the trouble. Nurse McGregor is quite strict. She sure sputtered the other day when she found out I had been down at the boat helping Mr Chesterton and she hadn’t been asked about it. I guess if I die she’ll just lay the blame at my door! ! !
We are expecting the mail in when the boat returns from Stan anytime now (4:30 p.m.), so may add a note then.
Would be glad for three Coleman mantles (Coleman mantles are used in gas lamps which without electricity were the only light source used after dark) and the results of our French exam. We can stand the shock!! Hector
The letters fly between the MacMillan and Kinsos, Ma Kinso tries to keep Ione up to date and reassures her that ‘the work’ is continuing well. The Carters and their four children; twins Gordon and Rosemary, Philip and Michael, provide a diversion at Bongondza, Ma Kinso writes:
The children are good, though children are children & all over everything. Their baby (Michael) is very quiet & has only 2 teeth.
And Jim provides help with things that might have fallen Hector’s way:
Jim got us another drum of cotton seed oil. So that will be on sale here dear – it is dearer than the last but still cheaper than buying in small quantities. Marcel is keeping on well, now in the choir. Jim, spoke on Sunday – to the various depts. Sang very nicely. Joan seems to be full of beans. Mary is full of vim and quite talkative.
Now Ione dear – my love. The Lord bless you & keep you. “Underneath are the everlasting arms” is my promise for you from the Lord. May you be conscious of the nearness of the Presence of the Lord dear all the days.
Thinking, praying & loving you – Ma Kinso Kisses for Kenneth! Greeting to Hector
Kinso adds for Hector’s benefit:
Jim carted 3 loads of sand & about 3,000 bricks so that is a help though I had hoped for more. He has been tinkering with the old ‘bus all the time.
Hunter (Kiwanza) has gotten two elephants.
Excuse brevity but must hasten. Love to all, Kinso
Two days later Kinso writes:
Just jogging along here. We have not made the progress we had hoped but I fear Congo life is much like that. The Carters had a set-back yesterday. They were packing up to get away and had put Balemaga to try to clean out the radiator of the bus. When Jim went to fill up with water he found that he had poked about two dozen holes in it and they had a sprinkler instead of a radiator. That put an end to getting away that day. To make matters worse we had no solder. While Jim took the radiator down I jumped on Corgi and went to see if I could borrow some from Bastin. He was away in the forest and so I had to chase him and lost about two hours. Jim was anxious to get on with the job so brought the Ford to look for me. He met me about half way back. Fortunately, I had been able to get a stick of solder. We must get some to replace it to Bastin. Jim has done the job but the rad still leaks quite a bit and I fear they will have a tiresome journey.
It has been good having them here. The children are lively cards and would have had me giving rides on Corgi all day long.
Mbili is seriously ill in hospital with septicaemia and Nurse doesn’t know whether he will make the grade. It is entirely his own fault. Next week Nurse and Verna go to Bokapo and will try out the rensencement. Mary Rutt goes on to Tasembo’s old village. Olive Berkseth to have a complete rest at the Aruwimi.
That is really all now I believe. Radio reception splendid – we get the news each day and on Sunday last, quite by the merest chance I tuned in and suddenly heard a fine American voice giving the Gospel straight from the shoulder – we were thrilled and found it was The Voice of Ethiopia – Sudan Inland Mission from Addis Ababa! ! It was about 15.30 G.M.T. on 31,2 metres Sunday afternoon. If we are here at that time next week we will do our best to get it. There was a lot of interference but we were able to get it all quite well. Jim said that when Mr Beacham was through he told them that it was a weak station and he did not think we would be able to get it this far away. I intend to drop them a line and tell them how thrilled we were.
Love from all to all. Kinso
BONGONDZA NEEDS if you are ever in Stan and see any of them.
2 CYCLE TYRES FOR KASE 26 X 1-1/4
4 POINTING TROWELS from Sidis
PUMP PACKING –can’t think of real name, you know, the stuff for sealing joints
CARRIAGE BOLTS (Assorted)
SMALL NAILS FOR SHOE REPAIRS
SPARK PLUGS FOR CORGI
TILLY GLOBES (glass casings for the gas lamps)
A whole heap of other things too, but I can’t think of them at the moment. Further lists will follow.
On the 13th July 1948, Ione updates the team at Bongondza:
The baby (Kenneth) has just awakened from his morning nap and is playing around on the mats here on the veranda. Hector has had another siege in bed, this time from a torn muscle which he injured while lifting Mr Parris’ bicycle box; he helped the natives a little with it when they were moving it ready for him to open and assemble; it didn’t bother him all day much and he unpacked and assembled bicycles for Dr. and Mrs Grey as well, and then repaired a typewriter for Mr Parris. But Sunday morning he could not move from bed and has been in bed for two days. This morning he took Kpodo with him and walked over to the shop and has bro’t back a few boards to make a better barricade for the entrance to the house; we have been putting chairs down to keep Kenneth in. Kpodo is doing the work for Hector can’t bend or use his arm. It is raining today and here it is very desolate, damp and cheerless. But we can always “encourage ourselves in the Lord.”
I am so sorry we left Bongondza so soon for it is quite evident that we are a month off in our dates. I don’t suppose I could have been of much help to anyone at home, but I am sure that Hector could be doing a great deal there. He has tried to be helpful here, but his two times in bed have been hard on him. Now he is anxious to have the use of his arm again for just last night the Mokili came in and he has been authorized by the Committee to overhaul it and replace worn parts. But this morning Miss McGregor shook her finger at him menacingly and warned him that he can move about but not ‘work’. And she means what she says!! She is liable to tie him up like she does poor Brutus (her dog). Kenneth does well at initiating his mournful howls – Brutus’, I mean!!
Last Friday the Parrises went back to Stanleyville and on that day this station was honoured by the visit of the President of the Belgian Senate and his daughter, along with the Governor of Stanleyville. Naturally we stayed out of sight, but we caught glimpses of the celebrities. And we ‘tidied up’ just in case they should see us. (We were invited to tea at 4 anyway with Miss Dorothy Sadler.) Just about 3:30 a native came and asked for Hector, and a Belgian man walked up and introduced himself as the mechanicien (mechanic) of their boat. He was wanting a little assistance with the blow torch to fix up a lamp for the return journey. When he went with Hector to the shop he told him that he was the man who had come here and spent one day in trying to get the diesel engine to work. He had learned somehow that Hector got it to go! We had a lovely tea with Miss Sadler and while we were there Mrs Ennals came up and announced that the party had gone, and then told us somewhat about the visit. She was quite elated about the Mademoiselle especially, a young woman who had been at the school where English girls attended. She was vitally interested in the girls’ work and remarked that it would be wise to teach them more French, so that they could qualify as wives for more educated men. Mrs Ennals said that recently this need was verified in the fact that a young man went out from the school here and was offered a wife in an outstation. He refused her on the grounds that she was not educated. Immediately a great number of girls from that area started to come to school; apparently, they tho’t men like him were worthwhile studying to get. It seems Mrs Ennals had had a very interesting conversation on this subject. This girl had attended the Protestant service in Matadi and was quite thrilled to have heard a ‘Pasteur indigene’. From all appearances she is either altogether Protestant or has leanings in that direction.
3:00 p.m. Hector takes over the letter writing:
I guess Ione has told you a few items but there are usually other things. We are presuming that the radio you speak of is the one that Frances has let you have until her return. It is very kind of her if that is the case. Marcellyn said in her last letter that she inherited the battery which she is using for an electric desk lamp, and that Ray had the use of the charger. That station in Ethiopia must be a little stronger now than it used to be. I remember getting it at Ekoko last Sunday afternoon, but there was a lot of interference. I was reading in one of the magazines you sent down, that they intend it to be 100,000 watts.
I was talking with Doctor Browne the other day about an infirmier (infirmary) for Bongondza. They have just had their examinations; that is the 3rd year ones. The state requires 5 years but those who are able to pass the 3rd year get a Yakusu certificate if they don’t feel that they have the wisdom to go any farther. After the Doctor corrected their exams he said that three fellows don’t seem to be able to go any farther, and as the BMS stations are fairly well filled he thinks we might have a chance. He asked what we might be willing to pay, so I told him what we gave Botiki. He said the BMS used to pay 100 francs, but the State pays 350 Francs. Then a company director visited around his outposts and saw what the infirmier was doing. “Give this fellow 500, he’s worth it”. So now this news has gotten around among the boys and makes it difficult. He said the other day that he would have a talk with these three fellows and see what their plans were.
My back is still a bit sore but much better than it was. Sunday was one of the worse days in my memory. It seemed to take ages just to turn over on my side. Doctor came in and by having me push and pull while he held my shoulder soon found out the trouble. One of the back muscles on the right side had torn away from the rib a little bit. There was nothing for it but just rest. And that was about all I felt like doing. However, it soon began to mend, and I may be able to start work on the “Mokili” boat tomorrow, or at least tell the native engineer what parts to take down.
Yesterday morning I got a great blessing out of the last part of the book of Genesis. Joseph’s life would make the basis of a good message to business men at home. He was made superintendent on three difficult occasions just because people could depend on him. Another point in the story that someone has noted is that the butler and baker can be compared to the two thieves on the cross.
I ran across a good description of Verna’s house, “A SUNLIT PALACE ON FLOWER-DECKED SLOPES OF A ROLLING HILL”
And then comes the news everyone is waiting for:
Wednesday JULY 14
PAUL DANIEL WAS BORN THIS MORNING AT 4:30. The announcement will give the main items of interest. Things did not get really started until midnight, I called the nurse at 2, and after she had done a few jobs, said to call her again when things looked serious. It was nearly 4 when Ione woke me again and said I had better call the nurse. She sent me to call our boys to get a fire and hot water ready; when I came back she sent me for the Dr. He put his rubber boots and white dressing gown on, grabbed a white coat and got here shortly after I did. I went out to see how the hot water was coming and Dr. met me and said to call Miss Varley as well. She took a minute or two to get ready so I went out for hot water, on the way back in she met me and I said, “You better hurry or you’ll miss it ! ! ! Only too true. The astonished doctor and bustling nurse were standing on each side of the bed, in the light of our Coleman lamp, holding a baby up by its feet, while it cried its lungs full of air, mother hardly knowing when it was born because it slipped out nestled right in its little sac. The first words I heard doctor say, “That’s the first time I ever delivered a baby in a caul.” When he broke it, little Paul got a sudden introduction into a new world. There must have been fat to spare because he looked as though someone had covered him with lard! ! ! Miss Varley took charge of the baby and the other nurse and the doctor took charge of Mummie. She felt a little faint so they gave her an injection and put up the foot of the bed. After all the weeks that the room was filled with equipment, things happened so fast that they hardly had time to use any of it. Doctor said that if he had been ten seconds later he would not have been able to hold the baby’s head in and that would have meant many more stitches. As it was there was only need for two. We have come to the conclusion that if this baby was to have a Chinese name it would be, “Six-long-wails”. So you can see what a short labour there was! ! !
And so we have what we came to get. The first chance I got to see him properly, I said right away that he looks like Ione’s sister Marcellyn. His face is so round, mouth quite large, eyes not too widely opened, double chin and fat cheeks. The shape of his head is quite different to Kenneth’s. His legs are more slender but his body well formed. I guess that is where he has the extra weight packed away. I went into the next room (Kenneth’s now) where the scales are kept and watched Miss McGregor weigh him. It took the four oz. weights to balance it with the sheet in. Then she put on the 7 lb and set Paul in the basket. That pushed the other side up, so she loaded on the 3 lb size and it still didn’t go down. The final figure minus the 4 oz. was 9 lbs, 4-1/4 oz. The basket is just about the right size, when he’s stretched out his head and feet almost touch the ends.
Don’t think for a minute that I’m disappointed in not getting a girl. Two little boys can make a life just as interesting! ! !
We asked the Doctor if he could give us an approximate date for departure and he said it would be about 14 days, since he wanted to have Ione strong enough to stand the trip. That will give us time to get up to Stanleyville, do the shopping and get ready for CVC on Saturday. We will have money enough to get home on but scarcely enough to buy things for others, unless it be on account. However there is some time yet and these matters can be arranged.
I’ll enclose some samples of stationary that can be purchased here in the print room.
I may not have time to do much on the launch (called the Mokili after Mr Millman’s native name). They have just had a request for it to come down river to another station for a trip through the district. However I may take a look at things tomorrow morning while Kenneth is asleep. We can hardly ask the boys to look after him since they are already very busy. Poor Kpodo has a whole family to look after now. They were not hard to get into action the other morning. They know now that there is some hope for leaving soon. They have been a bit lonesome, and food has been expensive. At the market the other day someone was asking 40 or 50 francs for a nice head of makemba (cooking bananas); a scraggly one was 20.
I better draw this to a close and get it ready for the mail.
Herewith the drawing. It may give the masons or Balemaga something to work on. Dr. Browne was explaining some of the structural advantages of the hospital, as designed by the Italian.
Cement cannot be crushed and iron cannot be stretched so the rods are hooked on the ends and then bent into the following form.
Cement forms much better if it is vibrated rather than tamped. But if the forms are made right in place this is impossible. The floor and ceiling in the hospital is of reinforced cement and they claim it will hold well over four people to every sq. yd. But Verna will never have that many people standing on the tops of her windows ! ! !
And so farewell. It will not be long now until we see the welcome sight of Bongondza. Yours as ever in His Love, Hector
July 21st sees Ione writing to Ma Kinso, a letter that demonstrates not only the motherliness of Ma Kinso but also the esteem in which she is held:
Dear Ma Kinso,
I am writing in bed and have not a good place to make a good job of it but will try. This is the eighth day and I have the promise of setting out in a chair tomorrow and on the verandah on Saturday. It is hard to stay in bed when I feel all right but Nurse McGregor is firm. She shook her finger at me last night when she caught me “dangling” my feet over the edge of the bed!
As Hector has written you in last week’s letter, we expect to leave here as soon after the 28th as possible. Dr. said it might be possible a fortnight after the arrival of the baby, providing I have walked several days previous. So we expect to take the Courier that comes to Kole on Saturday, the 31st (unless we hear from you that there is no way to come on to Bongondza). We have had no letter from you since you knew about the arrival of the baby, but we may hear tomorrow or more likely on Sat. when Hector expects to be in Stanleyville during the morning.
The B.M.S. lighting plant has arrived there and Dr. Browne has asked Hector to go and oversee its journey from Stanleyville to Yakusu. If Hector hears from you verifying our plans for return he can buy tickets while he is in Stanleyville Saturday.
We had tho’t we might arrange to go straight thru in one day (Hector would do the shopping a previous day and return here) but Dr. says it would mean leaving here too early in the morning and would also be too tiring. So our only choice is to spend the night in Stan. We will go to a Hotel as Dr. & Mrs Grey are at Parrises for the duration of his ‘stage’.
Hector has been working on the Mokili (boat) every moment he can be away from here. Dorothy Sadler has kept Kenneth a number of times now. Dr. Browne wants Hector to do something to the hospital boat. And he is repairing Miss McGregor’s gramophone while he is at home. He does find time, too, to cheer up his wife! And that is not too easy sometimes. I am ashamed to be so discouraged at times, for we have so much for which to thank the Lord. We have a healthy baby (he is back up to 9 lbs again and will regain his birth weight in a few days we think) and are getting very good care. But when Nurse scolds me I get so upset. Hector just laughs if off and jollies her along but I can’t seem to. Oh, well, she is only doing it for our good and I should be thankful that she errs “on the right side”!! I miss very much the lovely, even soothing temperament of our own Mama Kinso.
Thank you so much for looking after our house after the Carters left. Mary has written me telling of their nice time at Bongondza. I appreciate your having the linens washed. We will be glad to be back in our convenient home again.
Kpodo is quite upset about Bolo’s death. But we dare not give him a holiday to mourn. It has rained for five days and the washing & ironing is a real problem & task. I am sorry to hear about Alisa.
Will close for now. I hope Olive is more rested by now, and that the rest are well. Lovingly, Ione
It is not until the27th July 1948 that Ione starts a letter to her mother whilst still at Yakusu:
If you could see me now, you would say that I was really happy. (Ione has underscored ‘really happy’, evidently trying hard to be just that as post ‘baby blues’ would not be something that would be recognised). How good of the Lord to give me, not only the joy of serving Him in Africa, but a good husband and now two nice boys. I am sitting on a verandah, so close to little Paul that my elbow rubs the blue net of his basket, and Kenneth is playing with his toys at my feet. And Hector is not far away. He is making himself useful here by overhauling the motor of the hospital launch. He did their bigger “Mokili” already, and for that work the Baptist Missionary Society gave us a gift of ten pounds or about $40.
There is a break in the letter and Ione continues on the 3rd August from Bongondza:
I will write (in pencil) a little now while I am waiting for 2 o’clock whistle & drum. We are home again now and how good it seems. Am writing with Kenneth on my lap. He has a cold & is “mama’s boy” today. The baby stood the trip all right but has a bad heat rash. At last I have found a fountain pen! I hope you received our cable via Mission Headquarters about the arrival of Paul. I am feeling fine again. (Ione’s positivity returning). Had a tooth pulled while at Yakusu & have a bruise on my jaw but am rid of the hurting tooth. (Another reason for Ione to be feeling a little sorry for herself and down in the dumps.) Kenneth had a middle ear infection while at Yakusu but Penicillin injections cured it. I am enclosing a picture taken of him there playing with two other missionaries’ children. He is the one on the right.
The night we arrived here Hector surprised me with a birthday gift, a new wrist watch, sent Airmail from Canada. Will write more soon. Love, Ione
The journey from Yakusu back to Bongondza is aptly described in a letter from Hector to Mr and Mrs Ennals, missionaries had been helping whilst waiting for Paul’s birth:
Dear Mr and Mrs Ennals and other dear friends:
It is almost two weeks since we said farewell, but the time has gone quickly. The Parris’s very kindly cared for us during our stay in Stanleyville. Our trip by the CVC was real speedy. We were traveling in the old Plymouth car with one other couple. They sat in the front and Mr Crabbe gave us the whole back seat to ourselves. There was room to put Paul on the floor in his basket, as well as quite a lot of our baggage. The various pontoons (needed to cross the various tributaries flowing into the Congo River on their journey) gave us a little change; but best of all was the fact that the other couple who were state people knew the Administrators at Bengamisa Kilometre 10, so we all went in there for about an hour and had refreshments. We arrived at Kole about 1:20 and found that Mr Jenkinson had just got his car turned around when we came in sight. Mrs Jenkinson had sent along some hot coffee and hot chocolate with cakes, so after our little lunch we made our way in to Bongondza. It was a royal welcome we received. After we got established in our own home again Mr Jenkinson went back in to Kole to get our two boys (houseboys) and the baggage.
During the first week we were able to set up the generator and now we have lights in most of the houses and even three street lights. It was necessary to attach an old radiator (off a car) to the old five horse engine, and later a water pump like we use for pumping water by hand (I think Dr Holmes has one on his side porch). By fastening an extension into the handle it was possible to have the engine make the pump operate. I hope to soon have it fixed so that I can shut if off at 9:30 from our house, or maybe by means of an old alarm clock.
The new house for Miss Schade has come along well while we were away. We have just been precasting some cement lintels for over the doors and windows, re-enforcing the cement with barb wire or rods. I’m thankful for the helpful hints that Dr. Browne gave me (see earlier diagram above). We will be able to go ahead with more brick work today. Yesterday the school boys helped us and we moved about 12,000 bricks. The breakage was practically nil since the bricks were only handled two or three times. Everyone was very co-operative. There is plenty of work ahead but the Lord gives strength and wisdom.– Hector
On the 18th August 1948, Ione uses an opportunity to write to supporters back home citing Kenneth as the correspondent:
I guess you know that I have a little brother now and his name is Paul. The money you sent came just in time for him to have when he arrived. And the $5 for my birthday came about a month later. Thanks very much for my money and for Paul’s, too. I was able to get a pair of everyday shoes with mine. Paul’s $5 helped to pay for his trip from the hospital. We put him in a basket and took him to the river side, like little Moses. Then we put him in a motor boat which took us to Stanleyville. We stayed overnight there and then his basket was put in the back seat of a car which took us to Kole and there another car met us and we were soon at Bongondza. He was only 2 weeks old then.
Have you had 100 in attendance yet on Sunday? I would love to hear you sing the Marching Song. What other songs do you know?
Don’t forget to pray for us out here. With love, Kenneth McMillan
The next letter Ione writes to her mother on 2nd September 1948 once again describes the harshness of raising babies in the Congo and what she has to deal with:
You have been so good to us in sending frequent letters and I do want to thank you. The picture enclosed of Esther is lovely and makes us want so much to see her in person. She is a lovely girl and is now entering a very thrilling part of her life. Entrusted to the Lord she will be a very useful servant of His.
The packages came this week, the one with the screwdrivers from the company and then the one from you with toys and bibs for the children. ‘Frisky’ arrived in very good condition and Kenneth just loves him. Only a few months ago he was holding him and squeaking him, then Kenneth would make a noise just like it. He likes the little car, too, and I am trying to keep it put away for Christmas, since there is nothing about that will spoil; (rubber things sort of melt after they’re here awhile, especially if not in use, and metal things rust, but this little car has neither so I will try to keep it as a special treat a little later) The bib is grand, just the thing to protect his good suits when he eats out. Thank you so much. Paul’s rattle is ready to use in probably a few more weeks. His eyes are following objects already and he waves his hands around. He is so big that he can already wear a little romper suit that Kenneth wore in 6 months!
You will probably be shocked when I tell you what happened to him a couple of days ago. But it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. He had had a little ‘cradle cap’ on his head which I had been giving especial attention to when I bathe him, and one morning I noticed that instead of the whitish scabs the spot had gone red, so I gathered him up in my arms and ran down to Pearl. She said it looked like a little bruise and said it was nothing serious. I tho’t he had rubbed his head when he kicked himself to the end of his carriage or bed, so didn’t think much about it until night before last when at 8 o’clock, above the noise of a heavy rainstorm I heard him crying. It was an unusual time for him to waken and I examined him very carefully before I picked him up and discovered a line of tiny red ants leading up to his head. Then I found his head covered with ants which were eating there, and they were drawing blood to the surface. I immediately washed them off with water and bathed his head with disinfectant solution and plastered it with a castor oil ointment. Then came the job of tearing his bed apart, the bedding I mean, shaking it all and washing the bed and renewing the cans of water under each leg. The water I had had in the cans had gotten a coating of dust over which the ants travelled. I felt terrible to think that I had not changed the water often enough. Right now, the ants are very numerous and if I lay down a blanket on which he had drewled or vomited, in just a few moments it is covered with them. But this is Congo, Mother, and I am glad we have come. I don’t think Paul was uncomfortable very long, for I was not far away when he started to cry. But I hate the tho’t of ants eating on our baby’s head! I have heard of rats chewing on the toes of natives while they slept.
That was thoughtful of you, Mother to write to me on my birthday. I had a lovely birthday party; it was joined with Pearl’s and Ma Kinso’s birthday. But celebrated on my day. Joan Pengilly baked the cake and we had a buffet supper at Mary Rutt’s house. I received a pair of Nylon hose from Ma Kinso, some glass individual salt dishes from Pearl, soap from Kinso, 8 little fruit drinking glasses from Verna Schade, Coty’s toilet water and a hanky from Olive Bjerkseth, a hoover apron from Joan, some pot holders from Mary, and book ends from Paul and Kenneth. Of course, my nice watch from Hector, which I do appreciate so much. The one Evelyn gave me got caught on the baby’s high chair when I was taking him out (Kenneth, I mean) and dropped on the cement floor and broke inside. I had been carrying an alarm clock to classes with me. We had nice things to eat at the party and especially nice was some Bavarian cream which Verna made, and some cracker jack which had come from America. Hector’s carpenter stayed at the house to watch Kenneth, and we took Paul in the carriage.
I am teaching again, but on a rather reduced scale. I have the same Music Class Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday from 10:15 to 11:15 and Hector stays with the children (does work in the office here). On Wednesday afternoons I have the women from 2 to 4 for sewing, hygiene, and a message, but I am taking Paul so that I can feed him at 3 o’clock. The women are quite thrilled to have me feed him in the meeting! They marvel that they are so close together, Kenneth and Paul. I am seeing if I can keep up my health with this work and if so can take more. I want to learn to ride the motorbike (Corgi) and take some children’s meetings in a rather distant village. We have French class every day at 4 and prayer meeting at 5, besides our regular native gatherings. The children keep me pretty busy from 7 to 9:30 and from 2:30 to 4 but with the help that I have with washing and ironing and cooking I am able to do some missionary work.
I won’t need shoes for Kenneth as Pearl Hudson is sending the next size and I bought a pair in Stanleyville which he is wearing for everyday and the ones Pearl bought in Leopoldville fit him OK for Sundays. And the 3rd Phil. Class sent me a brassiere, nice like you sent me last term. I will appreciate the dress you bought, tho’ I can get into most of mine again now, as I am getting ‘trimmer’. Hector will appreciate the D.O.C., and I can hardly wait to see the little cap and Jacket. If you have any more money to get training panties I will probably be wanting some for Paul, too, by the time we travel home.
I must close and write a thank you letter to a lady in Buta who sends me her little girl’s shoes when they are too small. They don’t fit Kenneth but will do for Paul. She is a thoughtful lady, and I haven’t even met her yet.
We are praying daily for you that you may have His guidance for your fall work and that you may be established in a home again by furlough time. We love you very much and long to see you. In His service, Ione XXXX
As Ione gets back into the swing of life as a missionary, no longer an expectant mother, she resumes writing to her supporters and on the 18th September 1948, she writes to the Third Philathea Class and Roberts in particular; however, there are several breaks before the letter gets finished:
Dear Roberta and Third Philathea,
Hurrah! The big package came last night. And how hard it was to finish feeding Kenneth and Paul and then to eat my own supper with Hector before we could open it. We brought it in here to the office and tried to do it systematically and look at each thing together, but then a native came to see Hector and I got ahead of him. I couldn’t wait! It was so exciting and when we came to the candy, we just sat down and ate. I must tell you that everything, even the candy came thru in perfect condition. And that it tasted just like it had come fresh from the store. That is very unusual here, for I cannot ever remember receiving anything like that without it being somewhat melted and sticky. The caramels did not even stick to their papers when removed. How good they taste. I guess we have eaten about half already, but the rest I have put into quart fruit jars so that the ants and dampness cannot spoil them. We want them to last a little while at least. Hector has the cooling unit ‘cooking’ over a little gasoline pressure stove, so that we’ll have COLD Jello today from our Icyball Refrigerator.
I don’t know what to say first about the clothing, I am so thrilled. EVERYTHING is so useful and I must say needed at this stage, for every week now I have to put away things that Kenneth is too large for now. He can step right into some of the little suits and will look lots nicer than he would if I had spent hours and hours sewing for him. His socks were getting to the stage where I tho’t he would have to go without, and these size six are just right for him to put right on. They are so cute. And the beret is darling on him, also the little blue bedroom slippers. (We tried those things on him when we got him up at ten o’clock.) We haven’t tried the suits yet but I measured them with his present suits and have about half in the pile that he can wear now. The summer pajamas will fit him now, too.
2 hours later.
Now Kenneth is up and I have put on him the green and red striped sun suit and his red socks, and because it is damp and rainy he has worn outside his white beret with white sweater. He looks so cute that I have sent him over in his monocycle to show his Daddy. A native boy with a green apron and big dreamy eyes is pushing him proudly. His conveyance is a single bicycle wheel with a seat on the front and handle bars for pushing; also, two little wheels for when the ‘passenger’ gets in and out and in case the ‘pusher’ is unsteady. The little suit with the navy-blue trousers is quite like the schoolboys wear on Sunday, so I will let him wear it then to please the boys. About 140 of them will be watching Kenny when he comes into church. There are so many nice things for him to wear and I appreciate each one. And those lovely blankets – I just love to sit and pat them. Thank you so much. The bunting is fine for Paul if he has to make a journey on a chilly day in the damp season; or for when we are on our way to America. I don’t know yet when that will be, but before long I guess. Our station leader has notified Mr Pudney that our time (my husband’s) to go is due in Feb. I will try to save the blue sweater till then, too, but Kenneth could wear it any time if I get in a pinch. The white shoes will be his next size, I think. I have some brown ones he is wearing now. That is all he has that fit. But Pearl Hudson is sending some from home which I think will follow after yours or are maybe the same. If I see that he is outgrowing them too fast, I will let you know. The mattress pads are just the thing and I appreciate them so much. You have sent everything I suggested and much more. I think one of the most thoughtful things is the little bathroom fixture for the boys. It is exactly right for the little chair my husband had made.
Saturday is always a day of interruptions, buying ‘poso’, or food from the natives who come to the door, helping various women with sewing hints and showing schoolboys which parts of our big yard and garden need cleaning, trying to keep the cook from spoiling the baking, etc. I just showed a ‘sewing’ boy nine pieces of schoolboys’ uniforms which he would have to rip out. While I fed the baby, I helped the mason’s wife to rip up two old sheets and make one good one, and to save the good small pieces for patching instead of throwing them away.
This is Saturdays and no classes, but there is enough to do.
Kenneth has gone to Kole (18 miles away) with Hector and he has worn his new blue corduroy suit, with navy blue socks, and of course, his new white beret! I don’t know how to thank you for all of these things. I just put away the clean clothes and was so thankful to discard to the ‘native’ cupboard some old shirts that Westcott’s had left for native babies at the hospital. I had confiscated four of them when I had nothing to put on Kenneth. By the way, the Jello was delicious for dinner. It stiffened beautifully and was a real treat. I have put the remaining boxes in a jar for if I leave them out the dampness will spoil the stiffening process.
Tomorrow will be a special Sunday service celebrating the arrival of Viola Walker who came on Wednesday. There will be special songs by the women, the schoolgirls, and the schoolboys, and a presentation of flowers. Viola has a car following her and that will be a help to our station. There is also a car coming for Verna Schade, a Commer pick-up truck. This brings us all sorts of possibilities of trekking and short and long trips. I think there will be some sort of trip made at New Years’ time and Marcellyn will return to spend a couple of weeks with us. Ekoko, her station is about 250 miles away. I am fortunate to have my own sister so near. Our Bongondza personnel is now nine, eleven counting our two babies.
Hector is trying to get Verna Schade’s house finished by Christmas time. Then Pearl Hiles will move into Verna’s present house, which is the guest house that Doctor Westcott built.
Now mail day has come, and before this goes out I will add a little more. We send and receive our mail once a week. This has been an interesting week. In the music classes we are beginning to work in earnest on the national anthems for an inspector will be here in a few weeks. We want also to sing for him the French words to a lovely song, “The Lamb of God.” They have been learning to sight read “The Son of God Goes Forth to War,” in Lingala (the language Marcellyn speaks). Lingala is more difficult than Bangala, my language. I am teaching them the tonic sol-fa system as well as the notes and staff, for the former is used here a good deal. I had music classes on Monday. Tuesday I went out with Mama Kinso (Mrs Jenkinson) to Nzei’s village where a new church was erected recently. She had a reading class with the women while I took the children’s meeting. Then while she had a regular church service I took the children outside for some games. There were about 20 children. A number there have professed to accept Christ. Tuesday night we all ate together at Kinsos because it was Mr J’s birthday. I gave them all a treat of JELLO. With a bit of marshmallow on top! And we ate the rest of the candy. Wednesday Music again and the women in the afternoon. They sewed for an hour on some appliquéd tablecloths and then we had the meeting. I spoke on soul winning and family worship. Last evening, I cut some more appliqué pieces and cut out a shirt to be given to the schoolboy who best weeds our lawn and paths then I spent some time writing the four parts of ‘La Brabanconne’ for the music class. And now it is Thursday, Mail Day.
One feels the presence of Satan so strongly here, much more than at home I believe. Sometimes I must almost run to the bedroom where I can pray, and when I am feeding the baby or doing something else I just quietly quote as many scriptures as I can. And another thing that has helped to combat his power I found in that verse, Rev. 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the work of their testimony.” The word of testimony helps greatly and I try to WITNESS as hard as ever I can!!
Now I must close. Kenneth is pulling on my left hand and punching the Shift Key and he needs attention.
Thank you so much for everything. May the Lord bless you all as you labour there for him. Tell Mrs Harnack the booties are darling and I do appreciate them. And tell Janice Elvy her gift was especially appreciated and is such lovely quality as to last me a lifetime I think. And just the right size, too. Thank you so much, everyone. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
In another letter to supporters, this time unspecified, written on 29th September 1948, Ione’s enthusiasm for her work and life is very evident:
“I behold, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Rev. 7:9.
It is wonderful that these black folk here who believe shall wear white robes of cleansing from sin, and they shall have ‘palms in their hands’ as well. Then they shall unite in the glorious song, ‘Salvation unto our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’ What a wonderful privilege is ours to be a part of this great work of evangelizing the nations! The vanguard has passed out of sight, but as Zinzendorf’s friends said to him when they arrived on a certain island and learned that their predecessors were imprisoned, “So be it; we are here.” The work must go on. Wherever men sit in darkness the light must be taken. God must have men. “Whom shall I send, and who will go “asked the Lord of Hosts. “I am here,” said Isaiah, and we are here.
We have two babies now! Last year Kenneth was born at Oicha, the A.I.M. hospital 750 miles away. And this year, only two months ago, Paul arrived at a nearer place, the hospital at Yakusu, a British Baptist Mission station on the Congo River.
When we returned to our own station, Hector found the building of Verna Schade’s house progressing fine, and he started to make cement lintels for the windows and doors so that the white ants would find no woodwork to eat. It is an attractive five-room bungalow, perfectly round made of brick. It faces over the brink of a hill into deep forest. Verna hopes to occupy it by Christmas time. We are waiting now for the roofing for it. I was glad to teach again my singing classes and it has not been too difficult to take along one or both children. I found it exciting this week to push the baby carriage over driver ants which were threatening to raid our house; I can tell you I went fast!
In class I found it necessary one day to remind the 96 boys about being quiet. In fact, I said that the next one who spoke without permission would go to Bwana McMillan to have the stick put to him. To my surprise, a child spoke right up and said, “If you please, Madame, there is a bad animal right behind you! I turned, and sure enough, a long squirmy centipede was gaining speed toward me. That boy got a stick, but it was to kill the centipede! We haven’t had many ‘bad animals’ around recently, but there was a snake which attempted to enter at the roof of the washing room, and the house boy saw him and called over to Hector’s carpenters, and together they frightened it out on top of the water drums. Then, to my amazement, I saw it leap deliberately from that high position, some 10 or 12 feet, to the ground. They tell me this type of snake does leap; that is why it is dangerous sometimes to walk under trees.
I have a new Child Evangelism class at Nzei’s village, where Mrs Jenkinson has organized a fine work and they have built a church. I have been going with her, as she has a reading class for the women while I have the children’s meeting. After that, I take the children outside for games and she calls all adults into the church for a Gospel service. The church is so tiny that there is hardly room for children as well as adults. There have been some saved there nearly every week. It is precious to see a little child turn his heart to Jesus. Paul has been going out with me and Kenneth stays with his Daddy.
Today in the women’s meeting here on the station we discussed foods in a hygiene lesson; two women bro’t a plate of food like they serve their husbands and we talked about each. I showed them how they can improve the balance of their diet and demonstrated the value of tomato sauce. Then we had our Gospel service and made plans to all go out next week for a village meeting. Sonatu will speak, and her grown-up Christian daughter will sing with three other women, “Amazing Grace.” One woman, Kibibi, holds her baby while she sings, but nobody minds, and I must hold mine, too!
Yesterday Hector cut his finger quite badly on a rotary planer he runs electrically. As Nurse Hiles went off today on a medical trip, I must be his nurse for a few days. He will have the use of the finger again but it is doubtful whether the nail will ever come back. But he says, “a carpenter loses a finger every seven years.”
This week I am leaving the sewing machine open all of the time for use at every “odd moment.” It seems that I am singing “a song of the shirt,” for there are shirts of every kind in progress: I am cutting off the sleeves of some for Hector; making a new one for Kenneth; making four for native boys who are receiving them as prizes for cleaning the weeds from the large front and back yards; and with the help of the washing boy I am trying to finish nine schoolboys’ shirts for next year, to mend schoolboys’ old shirts, and to make two shirts and a pair of trousers for the 8-year-old mulatto boy who eats with us. But “I ain’t got weary yet!”
It seems I cannot finish this letter without a reminder that we are in Africa, for Hector has just come in with driver ants on his legs. We have taken a light and discovered that a raid is upon us and the black columns have already spread into the house. They have filled the kitchen, have entered the dining room, and even while I write they are coming into the hall leading to the children’s room. My husband is endeavouring to head them off with his blow torch, but he thinks that we may have to evacuate, for they have spread so far already. It is interesting to see them even going into our refrigerator which sits in basins of water. The refrigerator is not very cold just now, but it is amazing how they got across the water. Excuse me while I look again to see how near they are to Kenneth and Paul…..They haven’t gone any farther into the bedrooms, but have concentrated more in the kitchen. Outside they have covered the back-yard area. I am watching to see if they will climb into the windows. Now Hector is going to try to stop them with D.D.T. We don’t mind if they kill some cockroaches and other insects and rats, but we don’t want them to get in where the children are…We are spraying D.D.T. You would laugh to see us hopping first on one foot and then the other with the spray guns and lights in our hands. That helps to keep them back but it is hopeless to try to kill them all. We found a table in the washroom had none on it, so we sat there with our legs dangling, looking down on them. The shadow of the light upon them makes them appear to have a hump and they seemed to us to be galloping along like an endless caravan of camels.
Back in the office now I find they are here; I will have to leave for they are covering my desk! They are very speedy for even while I look they seem to close in on me and I have already felt several nips…I have moved to the front porch now, and I have sprayed my shoes with D.D.T., but they get across somehow. I have made another round of spraying. They have spread to the side of the house and have gone into the basement. Hector is fascinated by them and watches everything they eat, but it makes me sick to see them devouring alive other insects. Hector has sprayed his legs up to his knees so that he can stay close to them. Unless they cross over to the other side of the house, the children are still safe. This raid has lasted now nearly two hours. It is 10:15 P.M. They usually take about three hours to raid one house, so I guess we’ll continue our fight and try to keep them from disturbing our little ones. We can sleep at Mrs Jenkinson’s if necessary. The place where I was sitting in the office is now quite black with driver ants. They are now on the front steps, which means they have encircled half of the house. The right half of the front yard is creepy with them. I wish I could describe how quickly they move and how viciously they attack and how expertly their little guards engineer their activities. The largest of them is about half an inch long. They seem to stand on their hind legs but all six legs are still on the ground when they reach up with their powerful mandibles. 11:15 – they are dispersing now we think, without entering the children’s room. A dazed cockroach escaped there and I killed him. Just now when I was attending to Paul, Hector called to me to come and see the drivers attacking and capturing a stinging centipede on the front steps. I’m glad they got him. They have done a good house-cleaning job for us. I think it will be safe to go to bed now, for if they continue to raid, they will probably reach our bedroom before the children’s.
Next morning – still one or two drivers but the raid is finished. The little mulatto boy says that one night in the house of a friend of his, driver ants came and captured a snake and were dragging it out when the man awakened and was bitten by the snake.
Enough of that, but I will say in closing that in spite of a few inconveniences that living in the tropics brings, we are very happy here, and glad that we answered the Lord’s call to ‘go’. Thank you so much for making it possible for us to be here. Your gifts have been a great help and blessing. And be assured that prayer is being answered and souls are being saved. We love you and hope we shall never be a disappointment to you. Do continue to pray that the Lord will keep us humble and useable in His Service. Please pray with us concerning our coming home for furlough early in the spring.
Yours in Christ, Hector & Ione McMillan
May we extend to you our best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and above all, the Lord’s will in your life. (This may seem a little early for Christmas greetings but Ione is now attuned to the length of time letters take to reach their destinations).
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” II Cor. 9:8
“Better to be in God’s will satisfied than in my own will gratified.”
It would appear that the Kerrigan’s have on a long trip away from their usual mission station, Hector writes to welcome them back on the 7th October 1948:
Dear Kerri and Ma Kerri:
It was so good to hear that you arrived back and that you found everything in good order. I suppose you were glad to have the long trip finished, and to get settled once more in your Congo home.
And too we hear that you have enough money for your Comer truck. That will be a great day when all these years of prayer and savings have been answered. We are eagerly looking forward to having one here on this station.
I am enclosing a picture of Kenneth. I hope that it will be possible for you folks to come up and visit again and see our family. Of course there are a few other additions to the station that I know you would be interested in.
What do you think of Chester’s saw mill? I guess you will want him to come along to Maganga some time and give you a helping hand.
Well, it is almost time for mail. Oh! I almost forgot to ask about the radio. I suppose you will want to wait until a trip is being made down that way. Thank you for the use of it for those few months we had it in operation. Yours in Christ, Hector
Hector’s letter underscores yet again how life is possible through sharing and praying for things they need. Ione has another way, she asks her mother, as in this letter written on 13th October:
Dearest Mother and whoever else is there, too!
First, I will take care of the business of this letter, for if I have an interruption I can quickly close and slip it into an envelope and get it over to Kinso’s to put in the mail bag before Hector returns from Stanleyville. I don’t want him to see this or know I’ve sent it for I want to ask if you could get him a Christmas present at home from me and send it out Airmail. He lost his fountain pen on the journey taking Joan Pengilly to Ekoko recently and he misses it so much. He is using mine in Stanleyville now, and I miss mine! Do you think you could get him another? He needs a pencil, too, but Airmail postage is very high and he could wait for that. I will pay you whatever it costs.
Hector thinks he can wait for clothes until he comes home, but really, he has nothing to come in, for everything is worn out except a wool suit. His underthings we can replace in Stanleyville, and shoes and sox and shirt, and I think, even a hat. But they have no nice lightweight suits like for travelling in. And he needs a couple pairs of work pants for every day. I have tried to make them, but they just don’t fit him nicely. And he is so active he needs something plenty large and strong. If something were sent straight mail right away it would get here before we leave, I am sure. His trousers measure 33 inches at the waist now and his shirt 15 and ½. About paying for it, as soon as you wish you can ask Phila. (the mission headquarters) for one allowance $40 (not more if you can help it!). Our gifts over and above allowances from now on will have to be saved toward our furlough unless that need is all met.
Now it is nearly 2 o’clock already and I have the women’s sewing class and Gospel service then and am taking both children since Hector is not here. I started this letter this morning early but with bathing Paul, feeding all three (I include the little mulatto boy – it would seem that once again Ione is acting as a foster mother) and two music classes and arranging sewing for several schoolboys who are patching their trousers, and one who is putting buttonholes in schoolboy’s shirts and another who uses a machine for a pair of shorts for Hector – lo, the time is gone, and I want this out of the typewriter when Hector returns this aft.
I am very well now, and outside of a badly cut finger Hector is O.K. Paul weighs 16 lbs. My milk comes well for him but I have to drink it at every meal. We spend one whole allowance on Klim alone! ! But the Lord is good to us and we do not lack other things.
Thanks so much for all you have done already. If this is too much expense and trouble, please feel free to tell me. Nothing is urgent. Love, Ione
Leone Reed once again manages to secure Ione’s shopping needs, for Ione writes back on 25th November 1948:
At last we had news of Doris’s visit and it was so good to hear. Sorry your other letter didn’t reach us about the preparations. Yes, the baby is a big boy, and gaining right along. Kenneth is big, too, but still doesn’t talk much. He tried to say Bonjour, and a Libua word, too, but most of the time it is just Mama and Daddy, a jumble which means drink of water, etc.
The ‘special’ little package came this week and I have it hidden but I’m afraid I can’t wait until Christmas and he does need it, so I might give it to him on our 3rd Anniversary, next Saturday. Hector’s shoe size is 9 width medium, and brown is especially nice on him. His hat size is 7-1/8, but both those items he really can get out here. 11-1/2 is OK for sox; not any smaller.
I will need to buy some kind of travelling shoes before I can come home, but I think I can get them here; I am not sure yet. If you are able to send some, probably brown would be best, and a low heel. I think my width is bigger now, probably 8 triple A would do. I may be able to remodel the dresses that are too small and too short for travel. If I had one dress suitable for either summer or winter I could use it on the way and when I first arrive in cooler climate. I have sweaters to wear and my same coat. I think the children will be cared for in the boxes that are coming. The Loyal’s’ box hasn’t come yet, neither have the shoes Pearl Hudson sent, but they should come in time. I have some old woollen things I can make them coats out of. I think in a few months I will be buying the same sizes right along for both boys. I just received the Keating list of the Loyal’s’ box and notice there are 3 pieces of dress material. Maybe I can make myself some dresses from that. I am getting out of underthings, panties and slips (I have brassieres now) but as soon as someone can get in to Stanleyville I can get some white cloth and make more. I have a washing boy who is learning to sew and I can let him help me. Roberta Kitely sent a grand box of things from the 3rd Philatheas. There are suits there that Kenneth can wear coming home for they are large yet now. Everything she sent is so useful.
It was good to hear all of the details about Doris’ visit. I was so thrilled I wept. Wish I could have been there with Marcellyn, too. I wish Marcellyn and I could be together oftener. But she writes very frequently and I do feel near to her. I hope nothing interferes with her coming here during the holidays. Transportation is very difficult right now, as the old Ford is on its last legs and she may have to come on the Congo service which is expensive and takes several days. We are waiting now for the Bongondza new truck to arrive. It should be here at any time. She is expecting a new car at Ekoko, too, that Frances Longley bought. Did you know that Frances’ mother died and she went home. I guess Marcellyn told you.
Hector’s cut finger which I wrote about in our form letter is healed but it doesn’t look very nice. It will always be disfigured. Hector is working so hard to get Verna Schade’s house finished and furnished before we go home. It is a nice little house and she seems pleased with every new thing he does in it. But Hector doesn’t get enough rest, for now he is running an extra shift of school boys during the noon hours as well as a group from 3 pm to 5 pm beside the regular workmen and carpenters and masons, etc. Then he teaches Science once a week in the boys’ school. And when I am away he manages to keep the children. We never leave them with natives.
Week ago Sunday Hector and I got out to a couple of villages with the children. He let me off at one with Paul and took the car on to another with Kenneth. We had forgotten the boiled water for Kenneth’s milk and since we would be gone for a number of hours (about 60 miles each way) I had a native woman boil some water and I strained it thru a diaper and had it cooled by the time Hector returned to my village. The following Tuesday I went to Nzei’s village with Mrs J. but left the children with Hector; and then on Wednesday went with the women to a village about 2 miles away. We walked and I took Paul.
I am feeling fine now, and do love to keep going. Am planning some parts of the Christmas program and do love that. I have charge of the women’s part as well as the boys’. No room to tell about them in detail.
Thanks so much for the wee package for me to give to Hector. I will pay you whenever you let me know the price. Lovingly in Him, Ione
In another letter written at the same time to an unknown recipient, Ione expands their trip to the villages:
This week has been rather interesting. Sunday Hector drove a group of the missionaries from here to some villages as far away as 50 miles. He left Nurse Hiles at a village where the teacher is blind. Olive Bjerkseth stopped at Agdi’s village, Mary Rutt at Anguda’s, I stopped at Nsimdela. (I kept Paul our baby who is 4 months old.) and Hector took Kenneth (11 months old now) on to Saga’s. We all had interesting times and good congregations. The natives have built little mud churches at each place. It was such a joy to be among the more distant villages and they are so appreciative.
Tuesday afternoon I left the children with Hector while I held a Child Evangelism meeting at Nzei’s some miles away. There were 24 children there. One little girl was holding a baby which she was feeding some roasted manioc. She pinched off bits of the soft part and put it in the baby’s mouth. A little puppy was hovering near & snatched the piece of manioc. There was a loud howl when the puppy was held down while the girl returned the manioc and promptly pinched off some more for the baby. I’m glad it wasn’t my baby.
Wednesday I went out in the other direction about 2-1/2 miles and carried the baby. I started out with the carriage but the road was too muddy and it was easier to carry him. We had a jolly time, the Bongondza women & I, everyone black & a good many black babies. Pray for these meetings conducted by mature women. Lovingly, Ione
December finds Hector once again in Stanleyville without Ione staying at the BMS guest house:
Dearest Belovedest Ionesphere:
I hope you’re busy writing me about all that has happened since I saw you last. I meant to send you the flashlight but missed out. Hope you can borrow Pearl’s.!
Tell Kinso that Keri has been able to get a permit for 2 drums of gas & has bought them at Ford garage.
Fri morning 6:15 a.m.
I went to bed early last night & so I’ll try to get more off to you this morning. I was remembering you in my devotions this morning along with Kenneth & Paul. I know the Lord will care for you all (& for me too) while we are separated. It is so nice to have a family as the centre of one’s interest & I’ve got such a commendable one! ! ! There is no one who can ever be as wonderful as my Ione & the two boys. XXXX
You’ll be glad to know that I’ve been able to get a nice pair of American slacks at Aladoff’s for 298 francs. They even have a zipper. There was a stray thread in the cloth on the left leg but I’ve carefully cut it out & it’s hardly noticeable (there was a tag on the trousers saying they were “seconds”). They are light brown & I’m very pleased with them. I also was able to get 3 undershorts & two undershirts. I was looking at the suits in Aladoff’s & I imagine we can afford 2,200 francs after Christmas. There is one nice one there, all wool but medium weight. However, I’d like you to be with me when we pick it out. You have such good taste.
The man who is putting the body on the truck is doing a good job. It will probably be finished at noon today. We have taken 2 sheets of flat aluminium down to him for the roof. The garage man expects the bulbs by plane today so we’ll be all set to leave tomorrow. It will make a good load with 3 drums & all the other things that Parry & Keri have purchased. Keri is busy reading thru’ the instruction book. When we get to Maganga I’ll probably spend a day with him going over the broken electrical system & gas lines; as they are the most likely causes of trouble. He has purchased a fair supply of tools.
I’ve done a lot of laundering so the clothes I have with me should do (Mrs Parris is having her boy iron the things).
Yesterday when we were in the “Comer” place there was a passenger car sitting in the yard. The mechanic was adjusting the brakes. Later he told us it belonged to the manager of Banque Belge D’Afrique. It is a Humber. The manager brought it up from Matadi to Leopoldville when this mechanic was down there. After he had gone over it he took it out for a road test – 130 km an hour – & if he’d pressed it a little more he’d have gone 150. It must be some car. Cost – 180,000 francs.
Parry and I went out to see the telescope man but he’d gone to bed, so we just enjoyed a moonlight walk.
It’s almost time for breakfast so I’ll leave the letter & try to add more later. X
Now I have something interesting for you to read. I visited the Agency of the Maritime International (right beyond the Post Office) & he was ever such a nice man. From his suggestions & schedules I’ve been able to work out the following:
Leave Stanleyville March. 3 (Gen. Olsen), Arrive Leopoldville March 11, Arrive Matadi March 12 = 2 fares = $165. Children free.
Leave Matadi March 14, Arrive New York March 28, (Belgian line direct) = 2 fares = $1050. Kenneth = $263 = Total $1478.
When we are sure of going this agent can book our passages & issue our tickets.
The price on the river trip includes everything. I saw him figure it all up, even the meals on the train.
As regards yellow fever injections – he says people seem to go out to the hospital almost anytime.
I’ve been able to get my shoes & will bring them along next week.
I’ve seen several chances back to Kole, so when I return from Maganga on Tuesday or Wednesday, I should be able to get home quickly from Stanleyville. However don’t expect me at any definite time. In such circumstances the Lord can guide.
Yours since Nov/45. Hector
And so begins the MacMillan’s preparation for a home visit. The last letter of the year is to Ione’s other written on 18th December 1948:
What a grand box you sent and it came in time for Christmas! It was so thrilling to receive it. It came with the mail the night Hector and Jenkinson’s brought the new car to Bongondza a few days ago. While I was getting a bit of supper for them I was all the while peeking into the box. The only thing broken was the glass container around Kenneth’s toothbrush, and the candy was somewhat sticky and had dampened a few garments but I can wear it for Christmas. Thank you so much. It fits just right. The boys’ suits are grand and fit too and will fit them for quite a while as the buttons can be moved along the straps. They look darling on them together. The socks are so welcome and the little silk cap darling. And Kenneth’s cap & jacket will surely be fine for going home on furlough.
As I write this I can say nothing as yet about when we will leave. Hector is in Stanleyville again, this time helping Mr Kerrigan become acquainted with the new car for Maganga station. I am hoping he will have some travel information to tell when he returns in a few days.
Speaking about my new dress reminds me to tell you that several native women have seen it and have had me cut tops for their Christmas dresses just like it! I have so much enjoyed working with the women this year. I have only led one woman to the Lord but Mrs Jenkinson has led several. And a number have been baptized. Women are real trophies here. They have such a hard lot.
I have sent over to J’s just now to see if there is any mail for me. I tho’t tonight I’d hear from Marcellyn. I’m holding my breath for fear that she can’t come. The new Ekoko car was to have arrived there about now & might be available, but if not she may have to come by Courier & it may be too expensive. I do so much want to see Marcellyn. This will probably be our last visit before our furlough. She is such a dear sister and I’m thankful to have her near. Wish she were on this station; there are so many more conveniences. But she is so needed at Ekoko.
Well, the Courier came and I received a letter from Marcellyn saying she has reserved a place for herself on a bus that comes from Aketi to Kole. That means next week we’ll be together!! We’ll meet her at Kole. Sorry we couldn’t have gone all the way for her. Marcellyn also said you received the job at South Baptist Church! Hurrah! I’m so glad.
I also had a letter from Hector and he will be here Tuesday or Wednesday. That means we’ll have a few days together to paint the bathroom & get new curtains up before Christmas. Hector has gotten information on our furlough trip and says he could even buy the tickets in Stanleyville if the money comes. There is a connection which leaves Stanleyville March 3rd and arrives in New York March 28, all the way by boat. Will let you know if we can take this.
Now before I close & get the children ready for church I’ll tell you what happened after I wrote you last night. While I was writing Ma Kinso came and we talked until the lights went out at almost 10 (we have electricity now). Then I lit a candle and got ready for a bath. As I lifted the bath mat from the edge of the tub to put it on the floor, something dropped from it. The wee light of my candle revealed a snake, quite small. I almost put out the candle in my haste to kill it with a broom handle. I carried it outside & returned to the tub and found two more snakes in the tub! I got sort of excited then and was a bit panicky by the time I killed them so I got a better light and searched around and Verna Schade slept here in case any more turned up while I was nursing the baby. Must close for now. Lovingly in Christ, Ione
PS: Dec. 23, Hector back now & says don’t bother to get him a suit. He has seen one in Stanleyville.
Reservations booked – see you soon. X Hector
And so ends1948. It has been an eventful year for Ione, one that has been testing yet brought joy, one that she has managed to combine motherhood with missionary work and survive all that Congo throws her way.