Chapter 10 – Going Home on Furlough

Chapter 10

Going Home on Furlough

Arranging furlough was always going to be difficult. Aside from tying in all the different travel sections, there are also the two little boys to consider. Ione writes to Lucille and family on 23rd February 1949:

“we hope to take the March 3rd river boat, as we said before, and the ocean boat on the 14th arriving in New York 28th. We’ll let you know more definitely later.”

Naturally both sets of family want to see them and spend quality time with them as well as with Hector and Ione. However, furlough for missionaries is not a vacation, whilst they are home from Congo, the Macmillan’s need to reconnect with all their supporters and engage with new ones who will contribute to the mission finances and thus enable them to continue with the work. There are also conferences in Pontiac and Toronto to attend as soon as they landed in North America. Hector has promised his father that he would spend two months on the farm so that would take up May and June.. The boys also need some stability in all of this. It is impossible for Ione to make some kind of definite timetable from such a distance and when so many other people and factors need to be taken into consideration. Ione tries to explain the situation to her family and suggests that they could maybe all meet up in Pontiac. Both she and Hector are tired from the work and ready for the break.

“But we are hungry, so hungry for American foods: white potatoes, beef and pork, and most of all ice cream!”

Preparations include immunisation, Ione explains:

Our babies have been awfully sick as a result of their yellow fever shots. Kenneth had one convulsion. But they are better now. There is yellow fever around here now. Three children had died with it. We are thankful they are inoculated. The Lord is good to bring them thru this illness.

Venetian shutters.

Hector is awfully tired now, and yet is working day and night to get all he can done on Verna’s house. He is now making venetian windows (shutters) in aluminium sheeting. His round house has turned out quite nice and should last many years. Tho’ Hector is very tired, he never utters a cross word. He is so patient when I get upset, and so good with the children. I am still teaching music, but I think today is the last day! I have our trunks mostly packed and have stuck in some bits of candied pineapple and peel and Congo sugar lumps! Wish I could bring some avocado pears! We have a large head of bananas hanging in our wash room. We can’t possible finish them all; Love to all, Hector and Ione

The family eventually set off as planned, there arrival home is recorded in a daily newspaper.

On April 6th, 1949 the Pontiac Daily News carried the following story under the dramatic albeit wordy headline written by Florence Seldon;

Belgian Congo Missionary’s Wife and Sons Visiting in Pontiac Tell of Wild Pygmies.

“Travelling the long distance from the heart of the Belgian Congo to Pontiac with two babies is a task which would daunt a less courageous person than Mrs J. Hector McMillan. As Ione Reed, Mrs McMillan was known to many residents of Pontiac when she lived here and graduated from Pontiac High School. She entered the mission field and with her husband went to a post at Bongondza, Kole, Belgian Congo. Mrs McMillan came to Pontiac to speak at the Missionary Institute and the First Baptist Church and while in Pontiac, she and her little sons are guests of Mr and Mrs H.E. Zimmeril of Kimbal Street.

The airplane journey (from N.Y.) brought a quick transition from a temperature of 130 degrees at their home two degrees north of the equator to our Michigan early spring. It also brought new experiences for the two little boys, 22 months and 8 months of age. Last week they tasted fresh milk and white potatoes for the first time. As for the older McMillan’s, one of the first things they bought upon arrival in the States was a big piece of apple pie a la mode for the Rev McMillan and a ‘hot dog’ in a bun for Mrs McMillan. Those two indulgences satisfied longings they had cherished from the time they knew they were coming ‘back home’.

In Bongondza the great lack is fats of all kinds. Meat, too, is unavailable unless you are a good hunter. Mrs McMillan learned to use both a pistol and a rifle before she went to the Congo and sometimes she has joined her husband in his hunting quests for meat for the family.

A wild pig, a dwarf antelope or a buffalo is considered good eating. Rice is a great staple, the brown unpolished kind, and the manioc plant is also a staple, both for its green leaves and its roots which can be eaten as a vegetable or ground into flour. The white persons of the post, eight in all, make their own bread from cultured hops and the yeast is passed about among them and kept alive. One of Mrs McMillan’s projects has been the translation of American recipes into the native tongue and teaching native women cooking, sewing and homemaking. She also teaches handicraft, music and religion in a boys’ school.

Under the present Belgian rule, natives are encouraged to be industrious and thrifty. Each man is obligated to raise his own garden and also a crop of rice, cotton and peanuts. This the government buys at a good price. Failure to raise a crop means imprisonment. The land is free to anyone who will till it. A man takes acreage to cultivate according to the number of wives as they do a great deal of the manual labour. The government also encourages monogamy by offering exemption from taxes to any man who has one wife and four or more children. ‘Infant mortality and sterility are very prevalent because of the high rate of social disease. In a village of 1,000 you will often find only one infant,’ says Mrs McMillan. ‘There is a great effort at health education and gratifying results come about at once when a native becomes Christian.’

One of the finest native preachers is a man whose father was a cannibal. The mission post is located only 40 miles from the famous pygmy village. Next door neighbour to the McMillan’s is Viola Walker, the first white person to gain entry to the pygmy village. In her daily trips to the village, through a huge swamp infested with hook-worm, Miss Walker has formed a small nucleus of Christian converts. Braving the poison arrows, learning a language they could partially understand, this dauntless woman brings back many interesting accounts of the strange little people. Rev McMillan also has visited the pygmies. He found them living in burrowed out tunnels and wearing scanty leaf clothing. Among themselves they wage warfare and always have been considered inaccessible to white influences.

Mrs McMillan underwent harrowing journeys for the birth of her children. Accompanied by her husband, she started out a month before the expected events. Two hundred miles by car, 400 miles by plane and another 100 miles overland brought her to the hospital. The last time she made the trip, she arrived only to find that the doctor was no longer there and she added a 400-mile boat journey to her already lengthy trip. In two weeks the first time and twelve days on the second, she was on her way back to the jungle with her new baby.

When it is time to send Kenneth and Paul to school, they will go to a ‘nearby’ school 900 miles away. The school is run in three month shifts when the children go home for a month. Some of the parents in the district accompany them on each trip and they all take turns.

Mrs McMillan considers the Belgian Congo a healthful place in spite of the fact that she takes five grains of quinine every day and has had malaria several times in the seven years she has lived there. Her little boys are rosy and sturdy, seldom ill.

The McMillan family will be on furlough in the United States for one year.”

As is often the case some literary license was used by this member of the press and though perhaps not exactly Ione’s very words, it gives an idea to its readership of the extraordinarily different lifestyle lived on a mission station.

With interviews, deputation work and conferences, it is two months later when Ione finally finds herself and the family at the farm in Ontario, Canada. She still has not spent much time with her mother and castigates herself for not having made more effort to see her or even get a card sent for Mother’s Day. Her first furlough was spent preparing for her wedding, now on her second furlough she has a husband and two small children. With all the things she has to do she knows that her mother was the one person who would understand that she was simply running out of time and so she writes her a long letter to unburden herself of the guilt in May 1949. In it she apologises for the long delay, reiterates many times how much she loves her and lays out plans for the two of them to have some time together travelling to Michigan for meetings, at which time Hector would look after the children.

“I am sure there must be no loneliness like that which comes when your dearest ones neglect you. I’ll probably experience it someday and then I’ll know how you have often felt. Don’t blame Hector, Mother for it is not his fault. I could have written if I had just pushed myself a little. Now Mother, please know that nothing has changed my heart toward you. I love you very much and since I am a mother, I appreciate more and more what you mean to me. It is just that I have not yet completely made the adjustment of loving a husband and two children, as well as my mother and sisters. Be patient with me until I get used to it and another time I’ll prove that I do not love you any less for having more dear ones to love. You are such a good sweet Mother and anyone who hurts you ought to be punished.”

In December 1949, Ione explains to her mother that their time in Canada and the States is likely to be shortened as she and more especially Hector are required to undertake a course in French in Belgium.

The Jenkinson’s would themselves be going on furlough in the following year, Hector would take over as station leader and it was felt that Hector in particular would benefit from on a colonial and language course. This would require him to go to Belgium, spend a few months there and then return to America in order to travel immediately out with the family all the way back to Bongondza. This would require a great deal of money which they could barely afford and would be more complicated with children. It was a matter for prayer above all and much discussion but Ione was thinking she would not make the trip.

Ione writes:

“If we were to go in April, say after the conference here, I would have to decide where I want to be. I could go to Hector’s farm, but the house here (Ione and Hector are based with Hector’s mother’s family, the McElheran’s in Three Hills, Alberta) would be much easier to care for and living expenses are not high. People are just wonderful to missionaries; we have had two sacks of potatoes given, a sack of carrots (big sacks like two bushels), nearly 100 jars of fruit, vegetables, pickles and this week we will probably receive a quarter of a beef, about 100 lbs which we’ll put in a locker for now. (Rationing was introduced to Canada in 1942 and USA in 1943 and stopped in 1946, Canada continuing another year. During this time, Canadians and Americans resorted to growing their own food and preserving it, thus they catered for at least 40% of their needs; a habit that was still very much in evidence.) Our rent is cut down $5 because Hector works on the house. We could live on the remainder of what Hector does not need for Belgium. And if I were to stay here, I would like you to come here when the baby comes (Ione is pregnant again) and from then on for several months until Hector returns. But that is all ‘What I would like’!! You probably will be head over heels in a new project there by that time. It sounded from your letter as though you will not want to leave there for some time. And you must do just what the Lord leads you to do. Don’t let anything interfere with His Will…….I am sure that the Lord led in bringing us here. He is really dealing with my heart. And the Lord is blessing in Hector’s deputation meetings. He attends some classes too. It’s a wonderful atmosphere to live in, with everyone Christians, the milkmen, the farmers, the many people we contact in business, etc. It would be a rest and a blessing for you…..”

By the New Year, still no decision has been taken regarding the Belgium trip but the family have enjoyed a wonderful American-style Christmas, praising God with family and friends and opening gifts from so many kind and generous people. On the 2nd January 1950, Ione writes to her mother:

Ken and Paul advertising for KLIM powdered milk.

You gave us so many wonderful things I hardly know where to start. Hector was so pleased with his candy. You know just the kind he likes! You should have seen the children when they opened their packages. It was so much fun. Kenneth’s eyes opened wide when he found a truck all full of candy. And they are both very fond of their knife & fork sets. I guess you knew they had never had any just for them. Those blocks are lovely and so interesting to play with. Paul enjoys piling them up. Oh, the ducks, too, are very popular. Paul takes his in the bath tub (the duck that held the knife & fork) and Kenneth is learning to wind his up by its tail.

Aboard the “Rein Astrid” on the Congo River, heading from Stanleyville to Leopoldville on their way to furlough in Canada, March, 1949.

They are taking a real interest now in books & I’m glad to have a Christian nursery rhymes one. Shep is nice, too. We’re you thinking of your old dog when you got it? And five presents for me. I think I should scold you. I’m afraid you are going without necessities to buy things for us. That jacket & slippers are darling and will be grand to use when I go to the hospital. The hose & holder are lovely and I surely do thank you. I had been using a slip cover from an old white purse to hold my stockings. Thank you very, very much for everything. But you must promise not to do so much next time. We know you are in His service too and need things yourself. We would love you just as much if you sent us just a card.

Ione reports being seen regularly by Dr Shand and though the temperature is horrendously cold, minus 38 degrees, she is able to walk the half mile to town especially on a fine day.

The car they have bought to facilitate all the travelling does not have anti-freeze but Hector could usually manage to coax some life from it if necessary. However, he could not go far or for too long. Ione had some help from two of the neighbour’s daughters but they were in high school and had limited time themselves. Ione continues to press her mother to come and stay with them.

“You and I could do the washing together, (we have a nice electric washer and a pulley line) and some of the other jobs which seem to take so much time and strength. You could take on my little boys’ prayer meeting on Wednesdays just as soon as you come as I’m getting too big to be seen at all. You could attend some of the wonderful meetings and classes and I think you would find yourself refreshed spiritually, for you need to ‘take in’ after ‘giving out’ for so long…….We are better off now than when we were living in Pontiac when I was getting a few extra gifts and taking meetings…..We live simply as does everyone here…….You would enjoy this fellowship too. You do need to get away from your work for a little while, Mother. I’m sure it would do you the world of good to come here. You could have a bedroom of your own and could rest all you want to. Just having you here would be a comfort to us…….Sorry for the pencil marks. I don’t know which one did it. Paul walks as much as Kenneth now and is into everything……”

In another letter written on 17th January, Ione outlines to her mother the activities that have been occupying her:

Hector and Ione with Ken and Paul.

Last night I went to a home in this neighbourhood to speak at a baby shower for a student’s wife. They live in a trailer & and already have two other children. I went to church Sunday morning too, but got a ride one way. I’m trying to keep as active as I can, tho’ I am quite large (with David). Last week I started to have cramps at intervals & it kept up for several days, but it seems to have gone away now. Tomorrow the school boys come for their prayer meeting. I long for a real moving of the Spirit among them. They are all Christians, but they need to grow in grace and go deeper in the things of the Lord. Nearly all of them are children of returned missionaries, prospective missionaries, or staff members. Friday night we’ll have two girls here, students, for supper. One of them is very interested in Africa, but is a bit hard of hearing……

Tonight 51 diapers arrived from the Loyal’s and they are surely needed. I have enough other things to get along, tho’ some of them are “twice used”, and a bit queer looking since they were made in Congo.

Thanks, too, for the large snap of Marcellyn. I’m sorry she is having a hard time. I am so anxious to get back and spend some time with her. We will surely try to take back a stove & an organ for her, and maybe some other things that you know she needs.

As Ione and Hector are on ‘home territory’, there are no letters supplied describing the arrival of David Lynn, who is born on 17th March 1950 at Three Hills Alberta. Telephones are by now standard items in homes, thus negating the need for announcements to all interested parties being communicated by letter.

Growing family with the addition of little David.

With the family based in Three Hills, Alberta, it’s not just Ione’s mother that misses out on family time. DL (Hector’s father) is also missing them, and although in this letter written to the family on 1ST May, he indicates he is struggling, he does not ask for them to come and help but recognises the sacrifice all make for the Lord’s work:

Dear Hector Ione Ken & Paul,

It’s about time I would drop you a line. We have stormy weather for about ten days – high wind every day. Archie was laid up with a sore leg, varicose vein, he had to have Dr Pollick strap his leg up for about ten days. We hired John Blair to do the chores at the barn until Archie got well enough to do the work. I am not able to do very much. I have to take it easy. I get tired out. We heard you will be up in Peace River holding meetings. I hope that you will have success that God may be with you at all times to bless & strengthen you. Ask God to guide you in all that you undertake in His name.

With love from Dad & Archie to all the family

The Avonmore farm, c1950.

In another letter written on 19th May 1950, DL says:

“the sow had 13 little pigs and Ken & Paul will have lots of fun when they get on Grampa’s farm, young D.L. (David Lynn) will have to wait until next year before he can chase the pigs.”

The family make it through the winter with only minor colds and sore throats but the finances were tight. Ione takes advantage of being ‘home’ to have dental checks, booster injections against yellow fever. As they did not obtain certificates for the yellow fever injections the boys had in Congo, the whole family is revaccinated.

The car still goes thanks to a generous neighbour fixing it up with about $100 worth of new parts. Once they return to Congo, Hector hopes to give his brother the car.

Being home, is also an opportunity for family pictures:

On 19th June 1950, Ione writing to her mother, lists some of the monetary gifts friends have sent in to the family for their work. The boys have a joint birthday party with exciting presents each.

Uncle Archie McMillan with Paul.

“The box for Kenneth and Paul arrived Saturday and we kept it until today noon when we had two little cakes with candles lighted on them; two for Paul and three for Kenny. They had fun blowing them out then we opened up your package and they were so thrilled with those big rubber tractors. Kenneth slyly tried to exchange his green one for Paul’s red, but after we explained that the red one was the one Gamma meant for Paul, he was satisfied and I saw him later hand Paul the red one. We bought them red American Beauty wagons that are big enough to sit in. We couldn’t get two colours so Hector painted their names on the back. Already Kenneth knows which one is which. These wagons can be dismantled and packed in our tin box with their other toys. ……Both children speak often of Gamma and I don’t think Kenneth will ever forget that long train ride. Thank you so much for their presents…….The baby talks real ‘conversations’ now. He is as fat as ever and is outgrowing so many clothes. He’s getting a good colour from the sunshine as I put him on the porch every day……..We’ll be here until July 3rd. Thanks for the scolding. I guess we needed it. Lovingly in Him,”

Hector’s sisters: (L-R). Jean, Alice, Irene, Florence, and Eleanor in front.

More packing is added to the tin box. There are a few things the family buy in New York before sailing, clothes and shoes to last for the next five years. Ione and Hector have concerns about their return to the Congo, this is transparent in the tone set by their contribution to the UFM’s Light Life magazine which starts with:

“And the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God.” Gen. 49:24.

The time for returning to the Belgian Congo has come and we are finding it a bigger responsibility than the last time. As we thought of getting ready three small children under three years of age, with clothing for five years, and then the actual journey, which is rather complicated, we felt we almost had a load. Then we received a letter from the field which told us of a native woman who had been working in her garden. At the close of the day she prepared her bundles of firewood and tried to lift them to her back, but could not, for they were far too heavy. So she sat down in her garden and spent some time in prayer. When she rose to go and took hold of her bundles they went to her back quite easily and the journey to her home was made without strain. She said it was as though there were hands under the load. “Hands under the load” was the phrase that stayed with us, for that was what we were needing.

The year away from Congo seems to have flown by and it would seem that friends and supporters have expressed concern about Ione returning once more to Congo as on 30th June 1950, Ione writes to Mr Hempstead:

“….About my health. You will see that the enclosed statement explains that I am alright. These extra weeks on the farm with good milk, eggs, strawberries and quiet rest have put on some extra pounds for all of us. I weigh 125 lbs now which is more than I have weighed for quite a few years. It is such a joy and satisfaction to have my own folk in my church so concerned about my welfare and I appreciate all you have done and wish to do in my behalf. I really want to get off on this boat and trust that it will be possible to sail at the scheduled time. The Lord has been so good in the past and because he has not failed in the past, I trust Him for all that lies in the days to come.

May the Lord richly bless you.   Lovingly in Him,   Ione McMillan”

Finally, they have all the baggage ready including an organ for Marcellyn. Aside from the toys and clothes for everyone, there are medications, flanelgraphs and other teaching aids, canned foodstuffs (two supporters had canned two cows as hamburgers, steaks etc). Some supporters donated clothing for the Congolese. Extra provisions for the ocean crossing also had to be taken into account. There were almost 30 boxes in all and only an excess of $21 to pay.

Once again, Ione’s mother is unable to see them off and so Ione is obliged to send her farewells in a final letter from the ship.

“We have two cabins next to each other, two beds in each. Tonight Kenneth is sleeping in the room with his daddy. I think that will be the way we continue. David’s little bed is fastened to mine and I can feel of him anytime!……Our meals are wonderful, but only condensed milk….Write to us c/o Union Mission House, Leopoldville by the 21st.”

However, the journey proves to be more arduous than ever before. The family reach Matadi on the 27th July 1950. In letters written on 30th July to her mother and sister Lucille, Ione describes their voyage. The crossing was peaceful enough although Hector, as on his last voyage, suffered from debilitating sea-sickness a good deal of the time. For the next twenty-one days all Ione needed to do was look after her three boys and her ailing husband but this did not leave time for letter writing. Ione never took all three children out at once and used reins to restrict Ken and Paul when on the top deck. From the deck they watched whales ‘spouting and splashing around in the water’. The ship docked twice: Savannah, Georgia, and St Vincent in the Cape Verde Islands, where Ione traded some soap for three coloured shell necklaces and watched the island boys diving into the crystal-clear water after coins, which they always found. The rest of the non-crew members on the Belgian cargo ship were all missionaries with like-minded spirituality. Ione is able to share communion and prayer time with them. Ione writes:

“We arrived at Matadi on the 27th at about 2 o’clock. I stayed on the boat with the children until Hector was sure of a hotel room. He got me installed in a lovely big room and then, upon returning for our hand baggage, found that he could not get it through customs that night. So we were without some rather important things for a while. I had just the baby’s diaper bag but I had a few books and toys tucked into it and a chocolate bar and orange (but was without training panties for Paul, however, another missionary, Mrs Carper came to her rescue and she could fashion a diaper/ nappy for Paul).. ..

…..I had the children’s supper and breakfast served in the room. (They then establish a routine where Hector eats with Ken, and Ione with Paul; apparently David is the easiest and most placid and undemanding of them all) .We came from Matadi to Leopoldville yesterday (29th), eleven hours by train. That was a long time for the children but they had two naps and it was cool. Hector opened the seats out into beds and I covered them with a sheet…..We were met at the train by the Union Mission car and were in time for dinner here, a delicious meal of creamed tuna fish, mashed potatoes, peas, salad and peaches (canned), oh, yes, and soup.”

The next stage of the journey would be a river boat (the Reine Astrid) up to Stanleyville which was one due to leave on the 4th August and would have the family back in Bongondza around the 18th ,about the time the Kinso’s were about to leave. However, they have to wait for their main baggage, including Marcellyn’s organ, to come from Matadi and do not leave until the 17th August, Ione’s birthday. Ione starts a letter home on the 18th August but it does not get completed until much later. In it, Ione records her first night on the ship is a good one; whilst Hector takes Ken and Paul round the deck, Ione spends time on bible reading and reflection, she reads:

Isaiah 45 and a few verses from 42: “…and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places… I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight… I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them.”

And she reflects how her first term as a missionary is spent looking after the Westcott’s, which meant she was not instrumental in bringing ‘souls’ to the Lord, nor was she able to evangelise in the villages. Her second term of office is predominantly focussed on marriage and having children and she recognises that there was “a coldness in my heart toward the Lord.” And she notes that once she is back home “over 700 came to Christ”. Ione, writing to the family on 18th August 1950 states:

“While at Three Hills, Alberta, a change took place, and the Lord renewed His covenant with me, in fact, He said it was now to be an ‘everlasting covenant’ and so I go forth once more with a burning desire to see His will performed in this place. The fire within my heart burns hotter than any fire without that might oppose. I am claiming, yes, I am demanding from the Lord these “treasures of darkness”, these “hidden riches of secret places”.

Yet, once again in Leopoldville, Ione is brought face to face with the possibility of losing a child in Africa. A family who were on their way home for furlough have just lost their two-year old daughter, she has died of cerebral malaria. Whilst Ione does not articulate why she faltered in her faith, her consternation and worry over her children would suggest a link to her earlier miscarriage, when she and Hector lost their first baby, she still retained a sense of guilt as she felt the miscarriage was brought on by the medication she was on at the time. Her anxieties are compounded when Kenneth suddenly spikes a temperature of 1050 Fahrenheit. Fortunately, he returns to normal within 48 hours, so this period of reflection is significant.

Every bend in the river brings familiar sights, sounds and smells, Ione wonders what the ‘crooked places and paths’ that she has read in Isaiah means for her. On the second day on the boat all becomes clear, Ione develops bacillary dysentery, which is diarrhoea. The abdominal pains are severe, and a doctor is summoned aboard at Coquiatville, a short way downstream, who prescribes ‘sulfaguanadine’, a drug these day used primarily in the treatment of animals which had the desired effect. Three days later, Ione writes:

“Paul and Kenneth fell ill with the same symptoms. I figured out the dosage and gave sulfaguanadine to which Kenneth responded but not Paul. Then the baby’s temperature rose to 105 with malaria and shortly afterwards he too showed signs of dysentery.”

By the time they reach Stanleyville a few days later, Hector, too, is very ill having spent two nights with a high temperature and malaria and then dysentery. Ione was staying up all night trying to keep up with the laundry of diapers and soiled clothing and in the end as time runs out, is obliged to tip the last load of washing all into the river. The whole family are transported by ambulance to the hospital. Hector deteriorates and starts to experience paralysis in his whole body.

With all these challenges, Ione is determined not to let her new-found commitment to her Lord waver, on the 6th September, she commits a prayer to paper in a letter:

Dear Lord:

Thank Thee for revealing to me that there is NOTHING important except THY WILL, thy, LOVING KINDNESS. “Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”

Thou hast shown me that I have no control over my children, my home, the work, except THOU givest me strength, wisdom, love, to do it. So much has seemed important for me to do. So much for my hands to do; I have not hands enough to care for my three children at once, and the women, and the houseboys, and the schoolboys who come under my influence. Just the tho’t of so much to do makes my hands limp and hang down.

But now I can lift up my heart WITH MY HANDS unto God in the heavens. Lamentations chapter 3:41 “I stretch forth my hands unto Thee.” Oh, bless them, strengthen them, make them to do first things first. “This ONE THING I do.” “I will lift up my hands in Thy Name.”

Eventually, Ione has to go on to Bongondza with the boys and leave Hector in the hospital, still seriously ill and the dysentery and paralysis complicated by arthritis. On the 7th September, Ione writes to the family:

“How I dreaded the night last night! Electric lights not working, flashlight batteries exhausted, not much kerosene. And Hector still sick in the hospital. I was so depressed as I looked in many places until late before I found some candles. I hate the night in Africa with its creeping things! I saw a huge spider and imagined many other things; chased a big mouse out of the sleeping rooms. I finally found the candles and left one burning but it would have been so inadequate if a snake should come or a strong wind. I was up many times with the children carefully putting on my slippers each time lest I step on something. I longed for the day when I could protect my children better. Then this morning I read, ‘My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning.’ How emphatic it is! How necessary for me to place all that extreme longing in His very direction……..It is hard unpacking without Hector and the children are not yet adjusted to Congo. What hope I have for the future, what desire toward Him.”

Paul, David and Kenneth at Bongondza, Fall 1950

Ione makes up her mind to carry on with the work and leave the worries about Hector and the children to the Lord. She may have to get the children up and breakfasted first thing every day but she could at least make a special time for her devotions when they were napping during the day. She determines to have daily worship not only with the family but also with the houseboys.

She writes to Hector a couple of weeks later telling him of the improvement in their own boys health though they still were not sleeping well at night. She had had to miss many of the services but does manage to stay through one whole morning service and was able to respond to the official welcome that she has been given.

“It was a fine service and my heart ached to think you were not there. Everything is so empty without you. Nothing seems right. I don’t see how I could ever get along without you. I love you so much……I found only 4,000 francs in the bank so deposited Marcellyn’s 2,000 and drew out 2,000, enough to buy store for a month. That leaves only 4,000 for your immediate needs and nothing for Leopoldville bills…….We have no light, and I didn’t have enough money to buy a lamp, so Kinso brought one over and so did Vee. I have no equipment to light Kinso’s and last night he was busy and didn’t get it lit and I tried to light Vee’s and broke the chimney. Could you buy another for her if it is available? You know what she has…I think it’s an Aladdin. Can you bring some kind of light too and some more batteries for the flashlight…..I surely miss electric lights! I dread for evening to come on that account…..I hope you are feeling better and will soon be coming home….The house was beautifully cleaned and whitewashed…You’ll be pleasantly surprised at a good many things. The Lord is good to us and how I do praise Him for everything. Not much mail really here. Will save it for you. The baby is crying for a bath and the boys are getting restless. May the Lord be with you and make you a blessing.”

Letter writing home is placed on hold, Ione later writes in mid-October that while Hector lay in the hospital, helpless as his arms and legs stiffened with the arthritis with a raging fever for ten days, that he prayed constantly and felt that he was wrestling with the Lord as Jacob had wrestled with the angel. He clings on to his faith despite feeling so wretched physically and after several weeks is allowed to leave the doctor’s care. He is a shadow of his former self though the paralysis had completely gone, however his faith is even stronger and his sermons and dealings with people when he returns to the mission has a real power to touch their lives. He comes back to Bongondza at the beginning of October 1950 and immediately sets about fixing things for Ione.

For Ione and Hector, their return to the Congo after their furlough was very traumatic, yet they not only survive but emerge triumphant, revitalised and so the next term of office swings into action.


Download Chapter 10 - Going Home on Furlough