Chapter 18 – Kilometer 8


Chapter 18

Kilometer 8

The move to Km 8, as this property was to become known, took place in October 1956 and is to be the last one for the children’s home. Ione tells her mother,

KM 8 and kids – 1956

We are moving, for the fourth time, and to a place more suitable to these dozen children who are now with us, plus the guests who come from time to time from surrounding mission stations. We are renting a house on a plot of land which we would like to buy. It is five miles (8 kilometres) out of Stanleyville. The plot of land has a large shed/ hanger partly brick built which is up for sale and the fund the Macmillan’s have would pay for it, should they get permission to buy it.

The school bus dropping off the children for lunch.

This place is a real improvement in our living conditions. There is plenty of water and a nice new electric pump to bring it up from the well. And because we are on the town side of the intersection, the bus comes 15 minutes later so the children have a little more time at home. And it stops right in front of the house. There is a large ‘football field’, a croquet, flowers, fruit trees (we have transplanted about 100 mulberry bushes since coming) all in a little over an acre.

The adjoining property has the shed and we could surely use that too. But for now, we have made a long houseboys’ house into a dormitory room for the six older boys, three rooms and a bathroom with shower as well as tub. Kenneth sleeps with Michael Carter and Paul with Billy Boyes and they enjoy being on their own, tho it is only a few steps from our back porch. (Gordon and Philip Carter share the other room).  We have three large porches and a big storeroom.

In an additional note to Lucille she writes

It is good to be in a nice house again, and it is partly furnished. A lovely living room outfit, some curtains, dining table and chairs, kitchen equipment. The well is deep and can produce 8 barrels at one time. That means we can wash clothes at the house instead of carrying to the stream. A new diesel Lister motor gives us lights all over and a new small diesel Lister pumps the water from the well. Hector and some of the missionary men have made over the building just behind the house which was meant for houseboys and now it is a nice dormitory for the six larger boys. It has a bathroom of its own. The owner is very considerate and it may be that this will be the place that we will buy…..

Turning this place into a home for her family and also for the other children is a joy for Ione and includes cleaning and repainting the piano that Dr Wescott had given her. “Hector has replaced all of the little springs which make the keys go back in place after playing” showing that there was really nothing that he could not turn his hand to, especially for Ione.  The refurbished piano was then tuned by a Catholic priest, a friend of the protestant chaplain’s wife which in those less ecumenical times was a very enlightened step. Ione had a donation from a lady in California to pay for this.  Ione was very uneasy about this since she and Hector had preached that

“anyone who exalts Mary above our Lord, is really an enemy of the Lord.”

Once the piano was tuned, Ione then secured someone to come to the Home and give the older children lessons. Some did better than others. I, (Laureen), had great difficulty balancing a coin on the back of my hand whilst playing scales; which effectively ended any notions of a career as a pianist. Philip Carter and Kenny Macmillan were the stars and progressed furthest.

In November 1956, Ione writes to her mother:

KM 8 dining areas – 1956/1957

We had a nice dinner: soup made of browned onions, carrots with rice, creamed potatoes, sliced cold meat from the butchers, fried ripe plantain, cucumbers and butterscotch pie with mock whipped cream on. They liked the pie and it was so easily made with brown sugar. The cook made the crust and it was tender. It is only his second try. We have the children at two tables, Hector at one and I at the other. We change around from time to time, but today I had Gordon (the 13-year-old) at the other end of my table and he was helpful in serving the little ones and reaching things. Timmie and Stevie were on either side of me, and John, David, and Kenny Boyes on one side or the other. Their little conversation is so different from the bigger boys. I hope eventually to have them in three divisions, as the teen-agers like to be on their own.

We can do this when our nurse comes next year. She is from England and has a slight impediment of speech they say. She knows she is to come here and is quite happy about it.(Ione is referring to the imminent arrival of Margaret Hayes, affectionately known to all as Maggie.)

As always, Ione’s letters home includes enquiries about the family back home; both hers and Hectors. It is evident that she is mindful of missing events such as graduations, weddings and new births of great nieces and nephews. From the letters, she learns that Marcellyn and her new family are not returning to the mission field in the Congo but starting out a fresh in the Dominican Republic.

Besides letter writing, Ione experiments with tape recordings and sends her mother one of Kenny singing ‘God leads his dear children along’.

As the year ends, Ione writes to her sister Lucille and husband Maurice:

We have had the nicest Christmas we have ever had in Congo. The children had the most toys, as six parcels arrived just a week before (Packages reach us quicker here than at Bongondza), and they were lovely things. Morris Fockler’s had been wanting for two years to send our boys big trucks and road graders, etc. about 20 inches long, and this year went without toys themselves and had just clothes, so that they could buy them. (The consignment included huge road grader, 3 kinds of dump trucks, one of them hydraulic, a moving van with exchangeable trailers, an auto haulaway with little autos, six complete sets of toys.) The boxes from the Loyal’s arrived and there were things in them from Mother, which included a dress.

We had our own Christmas early so that we could get ready for a large group of natives who were coming here for Christmas night and day. There were about 75 who slept all around the place, some in the open and about 100 who were at the main service. It was like a little Conference. (this would be what Ione would consider ‘real’ missionary work and after her disappointment at not being able to run a school as well as a sewing class earlier in the year). And it was such a blessing to our hearts. There were three tribes and they divided into three groups and kept singing, testifying, praying and reading the Word one after the other until 3 A.M. When they were surprised that I could stay up that night, I laughed and said, “I have sat up many nights with a sick child, and can I not spend one-night singing praises to the Lord with you all!” When they finally did settle down, they just sat around their fires, and only the little children and mothers went into the dormitory rooms I had left available. And they were singing carols before daylight! Such a contrast with the many who were at liquor places. There were three women who accepted the Lord.

Next week the decision will be made about this property and we will soon be letting you know. Keep praying. During December, Ione and Hector had 60 visitors and used this opportunity to write to the three main Mission Headquarters; that is America, Canada and the UK. They needed $15,000 over 6 years to buy the land; they had already accrued a deposit. There was enough land to build a church and they had the basis of a guest house/ dormitory in the shape of the shed.

All for now, Lovingly in Him, Hector & Ione

In a ‘thank you’ letter to her mother on the 29th January 1957, it appears that there were enough bits and pieces sent for Christmas that Ione was able to make up Christmas sacks for the Carter and Boyes families to take home with them. Everything is lovingly shared between the missionaries.

Ione also tells her mother that the Pudneys have sent their permission for Hector and Ione to go ahead and buy the land on behalf of the mission; she writes of:

the marvellous answer to prayer in the form of a telegram from Mr. Pudney saying to go ahead and purchase this property. So we will be staying here, the Lord willing, and we can begin getting ready for more children.

However, it is not all plain sailing for Ione, the euphoria of Christmas gives way to problems with children:

At the beginning of school this month Paul had the measles, which he apparently had missed during the epidemic last year. Shortly after Michael Carter had the same rash and fever, or it seemed the same, and we had the diagnosis of a different doctor and he called it red fever and said it would be finished in 48 hours. And it was, but hardly had he gotten into his clothes again when Timmie had malaria, and then Stephen started in the night with a violent fever and diarrhoea. In just a few hours he was in convulsions and went from one convulsion to another until we could get him into the hospital. They had quite a struggle there, and he finally was relaxed. They gave him an adult injection of terramycin, a new and very expensive drug, and that, with injections for malaria and to quiet, did the work. The doctor said it was malaria and dysentery.

He was two days in the hospital and a good many more in bed at home until he was strong again. The dysentery did not leave for a week or more. He is certainly eating well now. I didn’t see how we could stay with him in the hospital (there are no special nurses, and not even real nurses care like at home, tho the doctors are very good and the nurses’ kind tho not all skilled) and manage transportation back and forth and care for the children remaining at home. But as always, the Lord undertakes. Hector got Sonia Grant (a qualified nurse) to come out from Banjwadi and she slept right in the same room with him, and then he was not frightened when the nurses talked to him in French. Sonia is so lovely with the children, and Stephen called her mama and responded so nicely to her sweet care. It was a bit of a rest for Sonia too and the meals were good and they didn’t charge anything for medicines or doctor, only about four dollars for food. We are given medical care free here, which is such a help.

There were some hard moments while Hector was gone for Sonia and we had him here yet and wondering if he would ever regain consciousness, but the children were praying and ever so quiet, and the Lord made it a blessing.

It seems there is never any progress in His work without heartaches and illnesses, but the progress comes, if we are able to bear the cost. So this week comes the word to go forward, and right today negotiations are being made at the bank between our mission and the owner of the house. I trust all the difficulties can be ironed out, and the papers set in order. Do remember this.

Our new Dr. and Mrs, Sharpe have arrived from England with their five months old girl; also Mr. and Mrs. Urech and Audrey Edwards. We have the first two and Audrey here for about five weeks to do their ‘stage’ at the hospital. The Urechs are at Banjwadi and will probably go to Ekoko or Aketi. They have been in China for about 22 years and are veteran missionaries, a real addition to our work. Their only barrier just now, the language, but they are fluent in French. He is Swiss and she Scotch. She is about your age, Mother and looks quite like you.

Next week we keep overnight the Director of the Missions Department of Moody, Dr. Harold Cook, and the following week Bishop Culbertson. I am sorry I have no real nice place to keep them as this is first a children’s home, but pray for His blessing.

Love, Ione   X

Having told her mother all about Stephen’s illness, the next letter on 1st February Ione writes:

Dearest Lucille,

Writing to you from here while sitting beside a little unconscious boy is rather unusual. This is the second little boy we’ve bro’t to this hospital within two weeks!

Last night David broke his arm by falling out of a tree in our yard. Both the big bones above the wrist of his left arm. They didn’t set it last night as we expected but put it in a sling and padded it all over and he was given something to take. He had a pretty good night (at home) and this morning they took an X-ray and then set it. They let me watch. He took the ether very well.

Now we are waiting at “Radiographie” for another picture of it, and then we will go home and come back at 3. They must not have given him much ether as he was soon out.

He is pale but able to walk about. He was determined not to cry and did not. I told him Paul had not when this same doctor sewed up Paul’s hand recently (he too, had ether). Paul had been for a walk in the edge of the forest and had stumbled and fallen on a big broken bottle which had been thrown in a hidden place. Well, that’s enuf of catastrophies.

With all these difficulties there is PROGRESS for the Lord! We had a cable from Mr. Pudney to arrange for purchase of property, so negotiations are being made to buy the house where we live, plus furniture, land, etc. We can stop paying rent and start putting up more dormitories.

Praise the Lord with us. We’re going to have a foothold here!   Lovingly in Him, Ione

On April 29th 1957. Ione again writes to her Mother:

Dearest Mother,

A little boy with big brownish eyes was fishing thru my letter basket this afternoon for a letter that his big brother had written for him to his Grandma. When the other boys were doing letters this morning, he said he wanted to write to Grandma and ask her to send some cookies, so Paul volunteered to do it for Timmie. Kenny wrote to a boy who wants to be his pen pal, and David to the Fockler’s who support him, and John to Aunt Jean.

You maybe are wondering why they are not in school. We are quarantined for two weeks because of polio, that is, the children (ours) can’t go to school. There were several cases of polio at Banjwadi, and little Cynthia Boyes has had it, and it has left her with a slight limp. Since she came here during the holidays and played with our children, they must stay out of school, as well as Cyndy’s brothers (Billy, Kenny and Ernie). The Carter children can go, as they were not here when Cindy was sick. We are hoping that no one else gets the disease and would appreciate being remembered in prayer about this. Our children have had shots (last week), but they may not have been given in time.

The same day that our polio ban was placed on us, Hector had an accident with the Jeep. A car came out from a side street without stopping and Hector could not help hitting him. No one was injured but both cars suffered damage. While the Jeep is in the garage, the insurance company has provided us with another car which is rented by the day. The day these things took place, I received the promise, “The Lord is able to deliver thee from all evil.” And so He has.

John in part of his rat costume.

I wish you could have heard John tonight in family worship, singing the tenor part to the song, “All your anxiety, all your care, bring to the mercy-seat, leave it there.” It was so refreshing, and he sang it so sweetly. He’s been whistling nice tunes lately, too, and when I asked him about it, he said he couldn’t whistle out yet, but was still whistling in! The other day he was sitting on his bed, and remarked, “I know a whole bunch of French words, and I know some English, too!” He does speak French fluently now and has started speaking in the native language as well. David’s arm looked crooked for a while after the cast was off, but it seems to be getting straighter all the time, and there is hardly any difference now with his other one. He uses it all the time.

About the summer pajamas, they all need them, and their sizes run from 5 to 14. The pajamas the Beginners Department gave Kenny for his birthday while we were home are going all at once, and he only has some flannel ones which are pretty hot here, so you might start with him, and Paul.

Much love, Ione

When Ione writes to her Mother on the 29th April, she has not yet received her Mother’s letter written on the 25th April so on the 10th June 1957 Ione writes:

You must not try to get pajamas for the children out of your own money; only if money is given to you especially for us. For if you are not able to do it, there will be some way here. We can buy cloth and I have some help now and can sew more.

It transpires that Leone has recently retired from a job she was doing and once again is looking for work that has accommodation with it. Ione writes:

And were you serious when you asked if we needed you in Africa? You know there is always a need here.

However, Ione can report that she does have help:

A nurse from England has been designated to stay here until after her medical “stage”, and in all it will be about four months. She is a dear girl who has a quiet way of making herself very useful and knows just the jobs that tire me most and then does them first. And she is such a good organizer, that she has started some methods of tidiness which are a real help. She has a chart and starts out the week with 20 points, and the ones who have the fewest points taken off at the end of that week, get chocolate bars. Their rooms do look real tidy now. Her name is Margaret Hayes. She is really good in French, too, and is able to help the bigger children with their studying.

Ione loves recounting tales of the unexpected happenings that are part of life in the Congo, and writes:

Last week a queer thing happened on the main street here. We saw a Land Rover (like a Jeep – British made) stopped and a crowd of Africans around it with knives and sticks ready for a fight. One person was gingerly raising the hood. I said to Hector, “I’ll bet there’s a snake in there,” and then I heard an African saying “It’s a big one!” We had to leave, but later passed the same place, and there in the road was a seven-foot snake, and we heard that it had stopped the motor of the car, and when the man opened the hood and this head raised up, he just threw up his hands and fled. It must have crawled in there while the car was stopped somewhere in the forest.

It’s not long before that school year is over, and on 11th July the family are at Banjwadi for a Mission conference. Ione writes to her mother:

Hector (3rd missionary from top) and others at a baptism service at Banjwadi – c 1957

We have come over to this station for ten days to attend our General Conference. I haven’t had very much to do and it is nice to be away from our responsibilities. We are living in the Boyes’ new house. There are 24 people there just now, nine big boys in their garage, our four youngest in a room with us. Carters in another room, also Logan’s and the Boyes’ family. In all there are about 70 missionaries and 30 children. There are meetings for the children each day and mothers appointed to watch them during their play times. (The conference is a great success with many people converting to Christianity. Many people were Baptised in the river, so many that a whole team of people were in the river baptising people simultaneously, totally disregarding the possibility of crocodiles lurking.) Hector has some films to show them when they all have to be inside. We have brought over most of our equipment from Stanleyville and shall have to take it back in time to care for a good many who will be stopping over afterward.

The messages are a real blessing and it is so good for us. It looks like we will be able to keep a nurse on permanently at Stanleyville to help us there. And everyone is pleased with the home and hopes to see it soon purchased.

We have just heard that the Walbys will be back in September so that means we must get a number of places ready for children. We have bedrooms only enough for our present group, so will have a busy time after the conference and about 5 extra people there for their medical ‘stage’.

We got the notice of a package but it was afternoon and the office is only open mornings and we were on our way here, so have to wait to pick it up on the return. Hope the cookies aren’t too stale by then. How are you getting along? Did you get the rent paid? Love, Ione

In the letters home, there is no reference to just how well the children are doing at the Belgian school. By reading the school journal, Palmares, for 1956-57, it is evident the children are doing well; Paul, Mike, Philip and Gordon Carter are awarded prizes in religious studies, John yet again wins a prize for drawing; Ernie Boyes for being a model student; David gets a prize for best effort through the year and Philip a prize for effort in general and another for politeness. In their year grades, David is 14th in the class and Kenny Boyes 21st; Billy Boyes is 8th and Paul is 11th; Ken is 12th and Mike 15th. These results are testament to the effort and success Ione and Hector expend on building a home that nurtures and cares for all.

DL McMillan: August 1869 – July 18, 1957

On July 18th 1957, Hector receives news that his father has died. Ione tells her sister:

He had no suffering but stopped eating one day and just slept away the next. He was breathing heavily, and then they found him gone. It is quite a change for Jean, as she was caring for him like a baby for so long.

It would seem that the conference at Banjwadi was a great success, on the 7th August, Ione writes to her mother:

The biggest thing was that our three youngest children accepted the Lord. There were ten missionary children who took their stand for the first time during the meetings held for the children. We are so glad about this.

The Conference was the best one yet, with 100 people there, 30 of these were children. It was July 4th to 12th. We got a lot of visitors before and after, because of so many furloughs due just then, and other reasons. The week before we had 10 of 11 besides our children and the Carters who were waiting here for their parents to come to the Conference. Then the day Conference broke up we had to hurry away with beds to get them set up here for the ones who would be here by noon for dinner.

KM 8 – Hector leading ‘Family Worship’ – 1957 with Isobel sitting far right.

We have had 60 different guests since the conference, and departures each week, so it hasn’t been as quiet as we tho’t it would be when school let out. My, how we need guest accommodations. But the Lord is undertaking, and it looks like day after tomorrow the papers will be signed so that Hector can start putting a cement floor in this big building next to this. As soon as we can get up the walls partitioning off one end, we’ll move over there, with the 9 little boys who are 7 years and under (they come back in three weeks’ time) and leave the six big boys in the small building behind this which they have occupied this past year. Then the little girls can stay in the lovely big house where we have been sleeping. And Isabel Whitehead will be living with us to help care for them. She is a girl Marcellyn knows, who came out before I did, a real sweet English girl.

We are taking out a wall in this house to make an enlarged dining room, have put three sinks in the kitchen, and are ready to establish a utility room. When Pudneys were here just now, they promised us the money for a big washing machine. So you see we have much to praise the Lord for. A year ago, we were in that awful barn where the wind and rain came in as it wished, and where baths were available only outside in half a drum! But any struggle is worthwhile if it can bring about a satisfactory way of caring for missionaries’ children while they are seeking to win these Congolese to Christ. We were thrilled to find out that two other children besides our own, had testified to having accepted Christ while they were living in our home. These are the future missionaries. Do pray for them.

The six McMillan boys all dressed up.

Our African staff is growing, in numbers as well as in Grace, and it is a joy to minister to them daily from the Word, and on Sundays our porch is filled with neighbours and those who walk some distance as well. I wish you could see these bright-eyed young men and their beautiful wives setting our tables, washing dishes, mending clothes. We have three couples now who do quite well. But just today I had to tell one young man to stay away tomorrow because he has dysentery. When we have as many as 30 or more eating and sleeping, I am mighty thankful of their help! Mother can you believe that a report has gone around that the food is “excellent” here! If my poor planning and efforts rate that high, what would yours be!! Do pray much that I may set my heart on winning souls rather than the fun of just cooking for so many!

The whole family is well, and Hector is quite heavy now, that is, he is no thinner! I eat well, and feel fine, but the scales don’t show much increase. We had a family picture taken this week, and you will be getting one in some form, we are trying to have it printed on a form letter.

We picked up the packages for the children from the Post Office on the 12th and they were in perfect condition, the cookies just as fresh as you could wish, and the chocolate coating was not even turned white! It was such a treat, and we are so thankful for them. Timmie sends his special thanks. He has marvelled ever since that he wrote a letter (he forgets it was Paul to whom he dictated it) and Grandma got it and sent him just what he asked for. I showed him your picture holding him in your arms and you are quite a real person to him. He is just at that darling stage where everything sounds cute. The four-people living with us for their medical ‘stage’ just can’t get over his interesting conversation. And he can whistle any tune that you can sing. Stephen is so different but has depths that Timmie never reaches. Timmie plays up to his public, but Stephen, never. He sits quietly and lets Timmie get the praise, and only smiles and twinkles sort of shy-like when someone talks to him. He clings to me more than Timmie, and it almost seems like he remembers when I went away from him in ’53 and he is afraid I might do it again. John’s cuteness could occupy a whole paragraph but I must save it. David’s as handsome as ever, and Paul the best disposition of the lot. Kenny – always dependable. Joyfully, Ione

P.S. the pajamas are grand. Just right. Thanks so much.

Letters home are not just about news of Congo, occasionally, Ione has to send condolences and it would appear that her Sister’s mother in law has died. Loving as she is, and concerned as she is, Ione does not dwell on death at any length. On the 16th August 1957, Ione writes to Lucille with a brief acknowledgement of her bereavement and a lot more about her work: 

We have just passed thru the busiest time since coming back, the affair of the property was cleared up & now the $14,000 property is in our hands! And not only has there been a physical advance, a Bible study has been started in Stanleyville for whites and is meeting every week. A real answer to prayer. And Africans continue to inquire the way of salvation. Our hands and hearts are full. We have had well over a hundred different guests in the last four weeks. Yesterday we served four tables of missionaries at noon & night plus two tables of Africans. So many come in to Stanleyville to see the Jenkinson’s leave for furlough. They are going to America.

In spite of our busy time we managed a little family holiday of one week-end at one of our bush stations, Wanie Rukula. The children enjoyed watching monkeys and blue pheasants (Great Blue Turacos) in the trees in back of the house where we stayed. The missionaries there had two sick children. The mother, a new worker (Bob Jones U.) said it was diarrhoea, but I was shocked to discover blood in the stool, the symptom of bacillary dysentery, the same awful thing that hit us on the way out in 1950. They have no nurse or doctor there, but I had her call a native nurse from a nearby dispensary and he gave sulfaguanadine. By the time we left the children were responding. The Lord sent us there just in time.

I see His precious hand in everything we do. He has anointed my own soul with “the oil of gladness,” and I’ve never found before so many reasons to praise Him!   Lovingly, Ione

On 25th August 1957, Ione updates her supporters in the USA:

KM 8 – c 1957

Work has begun on the new building which will be big enough to house 28 children. And as soon as the first unit of four rooms and bath is finished we will move ourselves and the smaller boys. Then the present house can be used for kitchen and dining room and guests and the little building just behind which has (inadequately) housed 6 big boys, can be the utility building. And we have been promised a washing machine!!

Although our efforts all seem bent toward the care of missionary children, we cannot be blind to the need of the Africans all around us. This morning as we saw our large veranda quickly filling up with eager listeners while Hector gave a Gospel message, I prayed that the Lord would make possible a meeting place for these who have no other Gospel witness. And African women are begging for reading and sewing classes. Little children as well. “IF thou draw out thy soul to the hungry – IF thou satisfy the afflicted soul; THEN….thou shalt be like a watered garden”.

Hastily, but joyfully, Hector and Ione

September 29th 1957,  sees Ione yet again writing a thank you letter to Lucille and Maurice who have sent out a package:

We received the package yesterday, in good condition, tho the box was a bit squeezed. I tho’t the cookies would be broken, but most of them were just fine, and still fresh!

What a lot of work those pajamas were, and they are made so nicely. And who paid for the material? It is just what I wanted. And the short legs are cool and practical, too. It was wise to send the elastic separately, so that I could measure the waistlines. John was the most destitute for pajamas, so I started out with a size that fit him, and it was #4. He is a bit small for his size. But the #6 fits David just fine, too, so I am saving some of the bigger ones like 12 and 14 as they will do for Paul and Kenny a little later. Timmie and Stevie can wear some cut down ones for the bigger children. Stevie is still wearing pajamas Marion Nicholl gave us, some that she had given her by some twins. They are initialled R and N. But they are falling to pieces one by one. I think the socks will be just right for everyone. I have mine on today, as they met an immediate need, with many thanks. Timmie’s are lovely for him and everyone else on up to Kenny. His may be a bit large, but his feet are so wide, I don’t think it will matter much. Hector is very thankful for his, too. The suckers by the yard were a pleasant surprise, and we have told the children there will be four apiece, but they can only take them one by one. So we have a secretary check them out, and they must take the colour that comes next. All the sticks are saved to make popsicles. The peppermints are Hector’s favourite. Thank you so much for this Christmas box in September. Oh yes, and the plastic bags, I’m glad you sent them as we have no way of getting any here, and they wear out after a while, so I was glad to have some fresh ones.

What is the news about Esther (Ione’s niece): Do they have support for passage money yet? Does the coming of their baby change their plans? We are hoping so much to see them out here before very long. They are so needed.

I hope you and Maurice are feeling OK now. (a brief reference to their recent bereavement). Ione then begins a discussion about the Stam family; Dr Harry Stam had visited Hector and Ione. This is a significant meeting for Ione because it was through reading about Harry’s parents John and Betty Stam who were missionaries in China that prompted Ione to consider mission work herself. It appears that John and Betty Stam were beheaded and the Chinese carried their heads until they could be passed to the family for a proper burial. Apparently, both of their faces were smiling! It’s not clear what point Ione is making to her grieving sister and brother in-law, and Ione ends this with:

Dr. Stam was one of the 60 guests that we have had since school started.

It is a trying job this entertaining, along with the children, but a real blessing, to be a servant to the servants of the Lord. And the children have gotten a real inspiration for their own future work from the testimonies we have heard.

The older KM8 boys playing marbles. (L-R) Bill Boyes, Paul McMillan, Michael Carter, Philip Carter, Gordon Carter, David McMillan, Ken McMillan.

We have 13 children right now, one little girl, (probably Hazel Parry) but two more little girls have arrived from furlough and will be coming along in a short while. By January we’ll probably have 16. The Stanleyville pool has already been closed (It would seem that there were worries of Asiatic flu, a white woman and her children were reported as being affected but they did not have all the anticipated symptoms). Kenneth and David, the two Carter boys, and tonight John, have all had fever and colds this week. John scared us when he found he couldn’t walk, and I thought right away of polio. But watched him carefully, and in a little while he went to the bathroom and didn’t seem to have any trouble. Sometimes malaria makes joints ache. He said his knees hurt. Well, do pray for this epidemic of Asiatic flu that seems to be sweeping the world. I am thankful it has not been serious around here.

Our Jeep station wagon is crowded so much now that we have to go in shifts. Isobel Whitehead is with us temporarily to help with the children so that makes our regular crowd 16. And most of the time there are others as well. When we are all in, we feel like opening up the hatch at the top to let out steam! Will you pray for a small bus or Volkswagen of a size that would be suitable?

This business of pets has gone a little too far. Gordon Carter just loves all kinds of animals, and I have not objected to his monkey, (although the animal bites), the scores of white mice, and the turtles and pigeons, but three days ago he bought a horned viper from a native when I was busy about the supper. It stayed overnight in a pail with a lid and a stone on top. But I was afraid it would get out. Then the next day I came just in time to catch him bargaining for a boa-constrictor! I stopped that sale, but he arranged for the native to bring it back the next morning, which he did. So I urged Hector to take Gordon and me, and the two snakes to the zoo, where he sold them for 1 dollar. He made a little profit. I have forbidden him buying anything more without permission.  Gordon is allowed to keep the other animals as long as he keeps them clean and fed.

(Michael Carter remembers sitting on Phillip’s bed reading comics when Ione came in and enquired as to the contents of the bucket. Michael sensing trouble, feigned ignorance and carried on reading. Ione lifted the lid and discovered the contents, she was not pleased! However, we all relished seeing Gordon’s snakes every time we visited the zoo, for us he had ‘hero’ status.)

Loads of love, Ione

Despite house guests, managing the Children’s Home with 16 children, Ione still finds time to keep up her flow of letters to her mother, the one written on 1st October 1957 starts with ‘thank you’s’; the boys have received letters from America:

KM8 kids playing in the sandy drive-way which provided a large shady space for a host of games.

They were so thrilled to have an airmail letter each. I heard the older ones talking their letters over with the other boys, telling about the magic animal that tosses out pink letter for girls and green ones for boys! When I went out to check on the 8-14-year-olds I found Paul lying in his bed reading his over again, squeezing the juicy bits of interest out of it right to the last! They may not write to you right away as they have so much homework these days, but I hope they will get letters off soon. They are finding French easier writing than English now. But we are trying to keep them from forgetting their English. It appears in their spelling sometimes, as “ch” is pronounced like “sh”, and fish becomes fich. I saw in one of the older boys’ letters the word “line” spelled “ligne”, like in French. Perhaps letters to you will help them not to forget.

I am trying to demonstrate more love to the children, and it is not hard, as they are so loveable, and it is not impossible to extend that love to the other children whose mothers are far away.

I had a nice birthday, all tied up with a holiday, several days at Banjwadi, and a surprise party with a number of lovely gifts. A letter came with $5 in from Peggy Reh, and another gift of $20, personally from Dale Barnett, so I got a permanent, and it has been such a comfort to me on these hot days.

I’m glad you sent along your discarded letter, as I want always to hear about everything, whether difficult or easy.

Did you get to Winona Lake? I want to hear all about it. Your running off so many letters at once makes me feel guilty for getting out so few at a time. Our mimeograph is not too good, and we would so like to get out a good quality letter. We tried having one printed here but had so much trouble about it that we have given up for a second time. Finally, I wrote Agnes and Neva at the First Baptist Pontiac Church, to see if they had any way to help us. I also wrote Inez. If our letter could be printed at home it would be more regular and, altho’ lacking the personal element, would at least be better than no letter at all. What do you think?

We enjoyed having Dwight and Barbara Slater here. He was in Stanleyville to have laboratory Tests after a long time of sickness (jaundice). We are looking any day for George and Ruth Kennedy, who said they would be coming. I am only sorry that we have no place to sleep them. Only a porch (the storeroom has children in it now, too), or our own bedroom. But be sure we’ll do our best for them.

The older boys each with their “trucks” that they rolled around.

How many times I have been blessed with the verse, “There hath no temptation overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful and will with the temptation, make a way of escape.” Temptations to discouragement, irritableness, criticism, jealousy, and a good many others, but the ‘way to escape’ thru confession and His precious blood – always a sure cure! God lead His dear children along!!

Well, this is all of the paper but not the news. Keep your heart happy in Him, Mother. And be assured that someone loves you away out here in Congo!    Much love in Him, Hector & Ione

In November, Ione sister celebrates her birthday and Ione writes:

You, and I, are not getting any younger, but each year is another milestone for Him. It is another year for Him to work with us to make something of us. “He will perfect that which pertaineth to us…” to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.” What a happy life it is tho painful sometimes. I trust that tomorrow will be the happiest birthday yet, and that He will spare you for many more before He comes.

As usual there is an update on her work:

We just had a letter from Fergus Kirk (Hector’s uncle, who is president of Prairie Bible Institute) who is sending $800 for our Children’s Home. This will go toward the purchase of the property. And a few days before that came a letter from Mrs. Pudney, who is sending $100 toward a new washing machine. We need $100 more for the big one that we can get in Belgium, plus $100 for transportation. Will you remember this need? We are not suffering thru the lack of it, as the African boys are used to washing by hand, but we will get a much more efficient and speedy job done with a machine.

The two little girls (Laureen and Veronica) came whom we were expecting and they have been with us about a month, a real addition to the Home. That makes 15. The flu epidemic is finished, and Isobel and I are thankful that all thru the time of the children’s sickness we had no guests. The Lord always knows our needs and capacities!

The “hangar” dormitory at KM8 being remodeled.

Hector is working very steadily on the new dormitory, and day by day we see new evidence of the Lord’s goodness there. At first there was only a pile of bricks to work with, then donations of bathroom fixtures from three downtown business people. A drugstore was tearing down its walls, and Hector arrived just in time to relieve them of the windows and doors which they wanted carted off that very day. They made the price very cheap. He has already put up a number and is building rammed earth walls between the pillars of brick. There was no cement for floors and one missionary shouted, “Now, get to work, Hector!” So he did, and when that was gone, another car drove up and another missionary asked Hector to go downtown and take delivery on a ton of cement. So the Lord cares for His own.

Hector had the unpleasant task of killing four snakes in one day in the shed, making seven in all in as many days. One was a horned viper. (I remember Hector allowing the older boys (and myself – Laureen) to dissect the snake and skin it. He viewed this as educational! We were hoping to establish what it last ate! I don’t think we found out!)

All for now. I must write to Mother. I have sent a tape recording of all the children’s voices to Inez Slater as she requested, but we had no tape or chance to make more than that, so could you get hold of it. (I am telling Mother as well, and have instructed Inez to send it to her, whenever they are finished with it.) I did so much want to send a special Christmas greeting to my own dear ones.     Joyfully in Him,   Ione

Incidents are never far away and, on the 10th December, Ione writes to her mother:

I will try to finish this while waiting to see the doctor. Gordon Carter has been running a little temperature in the evening and has a cold which has given him some pain in his ear. Then to make matters worse, a boy at school took a pea-shooter (or the likeness of such) and shot a grain of rice in that ear. Isobel put some warm oil in and the rice floated out, but we tho’t he should see a doctor. A few days ago, our Stephen put a little round black seed in his ear, but a nurse was visiting us and took it out!

About Sunday school materials, I would love to have them. We want to have materials for 15, starting January, for ages 14, 13, three children of 10, two of 9, one of 8, two of 7, two of 6, two of 5, one of 4. But I will pay for it, Mother. I can have them send the money from Philadelphia.

Love, Ione

P.S. A very happy and blessed Christmas! We’ll be spending it with Ludwig’s & Slaters

The Christmas vacation means all the children go back to their respective mission stations to be with their families, thus giving the Macmillan’s a little respite and an opportunity to be a ‘family’ in the true sense of the word rather than the large extended family they had become. Ione and Hector take the chance to get some well-earned quality time with the boys at the end of 1957 with a holiday up country. They have worked relentlessly since taking on their first children’s home, the last one consuming an inordinate amount of time and energy. But Ione seems to thrive on this, its work she loves doing despite the setbacks and worries. She lovingly trusts the Lord to provide for her needs and give her the where withal to continue.

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