Chapter 27 – Heading Back to Congo

Chapter 27

Heading Back to Congo

1965 slips effortlessly into 1966, Ken graduates from Emmanuel Christian School in Pontiac on June 15th. In his last year at the school Ken was chaplain to the student body. Paul was chaplain for his class. Later in the month, the family travel to Alaska where they join Ione’s younger sister Doris and her husband Bob Schmidt. The family run a commercial salmon set-net business along the Kalifonski Beach, 12 miles from Soldotna.

Ken starts a three-year course at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in September, the next few exerts of letters recorded are from Ione and focus mainly on news and issues about Congo: in November 1966, she writes:

I had a real nice letter from Mrs Marie Becker, (wife of the doctor instrumental in Ken’s birth) and they must be living at Nyankunde, but working in Bunia. She says everything is OK there and the work is going right along spiritually.

In December 1966, Ione writes:

We received a letter from Del Carper yesterday which told us to go ahead and plan for return to Congo, probably in July. He said it would be either Kisangani or Rethy, he was not sure. So tell the young people there to pray that our support will be all in hand by summer, plus our passage plus the expense of exchanging the car, and taking it out. Del thinks a double-cab pick-up a good idea. We could make the change when we come back from Avonmore trip in June. Then pack up; then go to UFM Retreat, then to the coast to sail, Lord willing. Something to pray about.

In February 1967, Ione writes:

I received a letter from McAllister’s and they hope that we can travel together this summer, at least from the coast, if not on the same boat. They leave July 14 and arrive at Mombasa August 6th. They telephoned Kinso and I had a letter from him saying there was no chance of booking on the McA’s boat, but there was another boat from Venice, Italy which arrived at Mombasa August 8. He could not contact them, so I have the telephone number here to call them in New York on Tuesday morning, tomorrow, as today is a holiday. We will probably work thru Tom Larkin at the UFM headquarters, and try to get as cheap a rate as we can on boat passage. But bookings are hard to get and we may even have to take one in June.

Del Carper’s letter says that a large number of Simba have come out of the Wanie Rukula area and given themselves up. An entire rebel camp called Camp Cuba, is in Stanleyville, and working each day as prisoners. They are literally starving, and some have already died of starvation. They are fed up and ready to be assimilated once more into ordinary citizens. Praise the Lord for this attitude, and pray that they will be able to keep them under control once they take this step. Del says they are having some mining difficulty which involves money, and to pray about it. McAllister’s will go to Rethy and Kijabe first, and then hope to drive overland to Stanleyville/Kisangani area, as the Congolese church did not approve their staying in AIM area. So it looks like there will be trips back and forth and maybe even Harms and Carper children might get to Rethy or Kijabe. Pray about this, as that will be 7 children, counting McA’s. I am looking forward with real joy to being a house mother at Rethy.

I am writing today to both schools to get the boys enrolled, and I am not sure that 9th grade will be offered at Rethy for Stephen.

In a letter to Ken written in March 1967, Ione’s sense of humour re-emerges:

I surely did appreciate the $2 you sent, and the picture of the snow in front of the school. Glad you liked the chocolate clusters. I made some cookies, but they turned out a little hard because I didn’t have brown sugar, so I didn’t think you would want to break your teeth on them; hence they are being eaten by your brothers.

1967 sees Ione once again preparing for Africa and Congo in particular. Having lost everything she had, it is back to collecting table, chairs, ironing board, rugs, sheets, towels etc. By May, she only has one third of the support she needs and she is looking for churches to support her. It would seem that it is much harder to get the required support in the 1960’s than it was in the 1930’s and 40’s when traveling to the heart of Africa was daring and novel. In the 1960’s a great many were beguiled by travel into Space, the next grand frontier.

As the only person from the UFM with a definite plan to return, Ione is getting requests from the missionaries currently in Congo to bring out extra supplies for them too. Yet in all that she has occupying her mind, there is still capacity to warn Ken about girls:

About a girlfriend: don’t feel that just because a girl is “like a missionary child” that she is OK. She may be only trying to act like one to please you and really the background and training might be another way entirely. And this would show up later when the real hardships of marriage PLUS missionary restrictions begin.

Since her return from Congo, Ione does seem to have been preoccupied with a desire to write a book and it would appear from the response from Viola Walker, that Ione had engaged in letter writing. Viola writes to Ione on 13th September 1967:

I shall be much interested in seeing your book, Ione. It will not be a flop! You asked me several questions, but your letter was left behind, so I will answer only what I can remember. For instance what did we do the hours between the Simba raid and Al and the others coming? It’s a bit hazy in my mind! I remember finding Mina crouched in our bedroom being sick, and making myself go out to the fridge to get her cold water, of taking cold water then to others who wanted it, thinking especially of Ken, because of loss of blood. After the girls left with the children, I washed dishes with what water there was and tidied up the kitchen, wondering dully what we would do for water! Alma gave us tea, I think, then Bob asked me to walk about outside with him to choose a location for a grave. We did not decide definitely…then I began to make cheese sandwiches with the last loaf of bread there…for the folk in the forest, too. And as I worked, Bob came in and said wearily something about our needing to pray that help might soon come. Even as we spoke, something like the crashing of trees falling was heard, and machine gun fire. I ran into our bedroom and peeped out from the curtains, and saw Al standing on the Jeep with his hands up and shouting Bob’s name. I ran back to the kitchen shouting, “Bob, its friends, its Al!” The rest – you remember of course. Olive B. had sprained her ankle in the forest as she went to try to locate a better hiding place for the young folk.

I’m afraid this is too sketchy and dim a memory to help much! But I must say good night for just now. My new address will be Box 109, Georgetown, Guyana, South America. Viola, ever the pioneer, spearheads new work for the UFM elsewhere. Mother always said that when God closes a door, he opens a window!

In October 1967, Ione gets confirmation of her US citizenship and a new passport.

Besides all the usual things one needs to set up home, Ione has truck on her shopping list, she writes to Ken:

There was a telephone call from Mr Tom Larkins of the UFM and he asked if we had made any arrangements about a truck. He remembered I had said we wanted a crew-cab Dodge or GMC. Well, this was a Dodge crew-cab, 1967, with 6-1/2 ft. box. And then he went through the list of special accessories it was equipped with, 4-speed transmission, and heavy-duty tires (6) aux. gas tank and bumper; large size radiator, etc. It was amazing to me that Asani should have ordered just what WE wanted!

Mr Tom Larkins went on to say that if I could raise $857 plus the cost of shipping, I could have it! I said, “Who is going to pay for the rest of it (he had said it was $2857)? He said, “I understand your station wagon is to sell for $2,000 and that will make the difference.” When he said, “Do you want it?” Of course, I said, yes, as it did seem that the Lord was in it.

I wonder if you fully realize, Ken, that when I go you will be responsible to Grandma, and must at all times keep her posted on your plans and activities. And also, your best friend must be your brother, Paul, as you two will be needing more than ever to stick together in all you do and plan. For instance, in rooming together next fall. This is quite essential to keeping close unity in family plans and communications. Also, if it is at all possible, to plan that 6-weeks summer internship in a place where Paul can be, too. Either at a place like Rural Bible Mission near Gull Lake. Or there is the possibility of that type of work in Camp Lundgren, where Esther and Ruth and Larry Peterson worked some years ago in northern Wisconsin.

Ione is undeterred despite only having $10 donation towards her ‘truck fund’. She has $389 promised for a monthly salary but needs a minimum of $590, she and the four younger boys sign their visa applications. Ione has to have accumulated two months allowance/ salary before she can set off. Once again, Ione sets about writing to friends and supporters:

Dear Friends:

The time is drawing near for us to be leaving for the Congo. We have clearance and a booking by plane for December 1, with baggage going by boat.

A telephone call recently notified us that a new truck was available at a great reduction as it was obtained for the missionary work of Pastor Asani Benedict and then he cancelled the order as he was able to get one in Congo. It is the double-cab Dodge pick-up that we have been praying for, and is already fitted out for use in Africa, heavy duty and with kilometres instead of miles. I responded and accepted the responsibility of it, knowing that I could get it into Congo duty-free as a replacement of the truck we lost in 1964. And also knowing I was assuming by faith that God would supply the price of the truck and transport.

When I faced my family in worship the next morning I said, “How do you approach God to ask Him for even more than you’ve been asking for?”

My Mother said, “Have you forgotten that the Lord provided the cash ($20,000) for your house? And the cash ($3,000) for the station wagon?”

I thought of Luke 18:29 – “There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time…”

The cost of our outgoing does not come up to the value of what we are leaving behind (house, land, etc.), and yet we have the Lord’s promise that He will stand good for even manifold more than the things left.

The last part of the passage in Luke 18 is important, too, as there is a time element – in this present time.

The Lord is never too late. If the needs are met for fares, truck, transport, freight, and advance allowances, by Thanksgiving (November 23) we can take the December 1st booking.

The opening of the windows of heaven is in God’s hands. And He is no man’s debtor. As God’s people pray the funds are lowered.

The boys and I are ready. And we have a job to do out there. So we urge you to pray asking the Lord to send us that ‘manifold more in this present time.’

The Toronto Daily Star published the following article on 22nd December 1967:

I have just received a letter that evokes deep emotions. It informs me that Ione McMillan has just returned to Africa to resume her duties as a missionary.

It is the act of a courageous and dedicated woman.

Three years ago, her missionary husband, Hector McMillan, was slain in cold blood by rebels, five miles north of Stanleyville in the Belgian Congo.

In retracing her steps, Mrs McMillan is keeping a vow made to her former husband when she accepted his proposal of marriage, back in the early days of World War II.

I know, because, at that time, for a brief period, I was part of Hector McMillan’s life.

I first met Hector McMillan during the early years of the war on the bleak coast of the Atlantic, where we were both attached to an air force radar station.

We called him, affectionately, Hector the Rector and with good reason.

Hector endured the rigors of service life, uncomplainingly. His mood was consistently cheerful and optimistic. He habitually violated one of the airmen’s basic principles – namely, under normal circumstances, never volunteer for anything.

Hector volunteered for everything.

No job was too dreary or too hazardous. He was always going out of his way to make the lives of his bunkmates easier, more pleasant.

Not surprisingly, newcomers to our small station at first regarded Hector with suspicion. What strange breed of soldier was this? But in time, like the rest of us, they grew to admire and respect him. His sincerity was unquestionable. He had no ulterior motives.

I can see him now, sitting at the side of the bunk, deeply immersed in his Bible. It was a worn volume; on every page there were passages underlined with green, blue or red ink.

One morning, I was about to climb a tower to check on a recalcitrant aerial, when Hector hailed me from a distance. As he approached, I noticed that he was waving a telegram.

He explained to me that he was in love with a girl who was 1,000 miles away. Her name was Ione Reed. They had met at theological school and they both wanted to become missionaries. Last week, he had cabled a proposal of marriage and, at last, here was her terse reply: “See Ruth, Chapter 1, Verse 16.”

Hector handed me his Bible to read the designated passage:

For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge.

Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.

Where thy diest, will I die and there will I be buried.

Never did a woman commit herself more beautifully or poignantly to share her life with the man she loved.

The last time I saw Hector McMillan alive was a few days before Christmas, 1963. He was scheduled to resume his missionary post in Africa shortly after the New Year.

We sat in front of a roaring fire in my living room on a cold winter night, I sipping on wine, Hector drinking a glass of milk.

Since our air force days, he had spent most of his time in the Congo. He spoke proudly of his wife, Ione, and his sons. The talk got around to his imminent return to Africa. I asked: “Isn’t it dangerous to be a white missionary in a black country in the throes of a revolution?”

Hector replied quietly: “If you walk in God’s way, you are never afraid.” His answer was final and left no room for further discussion.

And Hector McMillan was not afraid when he faced his moment of truth some months later.

He was in a mission house with his wife and sons, five miles north of Stanleyville when the rebels came. They dragged him out of the house and started wrestling him towards a car.

Just as he was about to enter the car, he heard the sound of shooting in the direction of the house. He told his captors: “I refuse to go any further until I find out what’s happening to my family back there.”

The argument was ended abruptly when one of his captors pointed a pistol at Hector at close range and fired three shots into him.

After the McMillan family was rescued from the mission house, Ione vowed: “Hector would want me to continue the Lord’s work. I shall return to Africa someday. The personal risks are unimportant.”

And one of his teenage sons, who witnessed his father’s slaying, said, “My father is dead and I mourn him. But if the Lord wills it I too will spend my live as a missionary.”

Ione McMillan and four of her sons are now back in Africa (or soon will be).

Hector McMillan, the man, died near Stanleyville three years ago. But the spirit of Hector McMillan, the missionary, lives on, vitally and triumphantly.

However, Ione does not leave in December, she has insufficient funds. She writes to supporters:

We’re not discouraged and we’re more packed than ever. We believe God has called us to go to Congo and I have put my name on God’s check payable to order. It’s sure to be paid when the due time arrives. We have no sailing date, but will just go when God’s check payable to order is cashed.

Sincerely yours in Him,

Mrs Ione McMillan and sons

P.S. I will be available for meetings until we leave.

Field address: c/o AIM Private Bag, Arua, West Nile District, Uganda, East Africa

It gives the family time to be together over Christmas but it would appear it has been a difficult holiday for Ken: Ione writes:

It seems your time at home was mostly a training period. You have been away so much that there were many corrections necessary. And that is always so painful, for me right along with you. She tempers the scolding with:

I think you know that you are loved dearly and that your stay at home was a real blessing and comfort.

In another letter, Ione writes:

The discomfort you feel when you stand up to the standards set by us are something that you will gradually get used to, I think. I have felt them many times when Grandma’s rules go even beyond what I might have set. But as I study the thing through, I find that she is right and that it is possible to go along with it, even though I writhe inside. I thought the other day of the man out of whom was cast legion of demons how he “wallowed foaming”. Not comfortable, but as you hold steady and go thru with it knowing only that it is right, you feel better afterwards and were glad you endured it.

What are some of the standards that you are having to oppose? Is it mainly television? Or are there other things, too? Usually fellows that exercise their independence so that it is very evident to others are not the ones to follow. There were such when I was at Moody, too. Ella Schroeder (Humphreys) was one of them. And she was always living on the daring marginal side, and finally went on over and became a castaway so far as the Lord’s service is concerned.

Ione may not wield a strap but she sets the boys strict boundaries on behaviour and her expectations of them. Money is still short and she writes to Ken:

I haven’t forgotten that I owe $217 toward your account here to bring it back up to $500.

1st December, another $100 taken out as they (the boys) couldn’t take exams without paying. I’ll pay all but $75 of it.

On the 3rd January 1968, Ione takes yet more money from Ken’s account:

Two bills due today took $58 more out of your account, leaving it at $284.62.

We will look for news as to whether you need some of this here for your expenses at school.

Can you put away your short-sleeved shirts and wear just long-sleeved ones while it is cold winter? We are keeping that rule here as much as possible. If you need to, why don’t you buy another long-sleeved colored drip-dry shirt? And be sure to wear flannel pyjamas.

All for now. I will let you know as soon as we know God’s way or working in our behalf.

Your verse for today, January 3 – “And he laid His right hand upon me.” Revelations 1:17

Much love, Mother

P.S. Thanks for all the money you used for us while home.

Ione eventually leaves Pontiac and Paul in High School living with Grandma on 2nd February; Ken is at Moody Bible Institute and stays at Mission Head Quarters where she finds herself packing and repacking her luggage as she is massively overweight. Four duffle bags get left behind to be packed in a drum for shipping at a later date. Despite this, she stills has too much, however she is not penalised and made to pay for the excess. Ione even manages to get a typewriter on board the plane under her legs. On 2nd March 1968, Ione, David, John, Stephen and Tim fly from Kennedy airport to Uganda via Senegal; Ione sends her mother a post card:

Dearest Mother, and Paul,

We just left Dakar, Senegal. I only had time to buy a card! I’ll put a stamp on it when we stop next. When I get to Kampala, I’ll try to send you a money order for $123 tithe from this 2-month allowance (Mar-Apr). I forgot in Philadelphia. Met an AIM missionary on plane going to Kenya, from PBI. A friend of hers got our letter so she recognized us from pictures. It is lovely and warm. We’re about to have our 2nd breakfast. Love, Ione

Ione is met at Kampala by Ted Crossman, a missionary with the African Inland Mission, a journey not without incident as the Volkswagen Combi had to have repairs made. When they reach Rethy, Tim starts school straight away but David, John and Stephen have to wait for a new term to start in April at the school in Kijabe.

Ione sets about familiarising herself with the school and routines of the dormitory she will be responsible for. David, John and Stephen help Ted Crossman out with a few jobs, such as working a new airstrip. Unfortunately, unused to the sun at altitude, they are 7000 feet up which means the air feels cool, they get badly sunburned. Their work rate has impressed so the Crossman’s take the boys with them to another mission 30 miles away at Kasengu to re-roof a house. When John got out of the car at Kasengu, his legs felt weird, he jumped around supposing it to be cramp and he seemed OK but the next day found he couldn’t stand. The Crossman’s finished their work quickly so that they could get the boys back to Ione and John in bed for some rest.

John didn’t walk for four days; two doctors arrived, one being Dr Becker and neither of them could come up with a diagnosis, John had no fever, polio or a viral infection is ruled out and initially everyone attributes his illness as sunstroke.

Ione writes home:

He is getting the best of medicine, flown here within an hour of the prescription and is under Dr. Becker’s care (although by means of radio) each day between here and Nyankunde (just a few minutes flying time.) Miss Carolyn Saltenberg is his nurse. She looks like Doris and is real nice. I have John right with me. He has to use the bedpan, but once a day the two big boys carry his chair across the hall to the bathroom. He can sit up O.K. He eats real good and sleeps a lot and I think he’s getting caught up on rest and food. The food here is excellent; dinner today – roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots & peas, cabbage salad with fresh pineapples and jello with fruit cocktail in. A glass of milk. He ate it all and is cheerful. But do pray that it might not be anything like polio (we had polio vaccine last fall). He’s not paralyzed – just limp. Tim and Stephen are rooming together & David has the end room all in Crossman’s dorm. The big boys go to bed at 8:45 with the rest. The others are all O.K. Only John can’t stand or walk. The doctor did not say what it was.

On 18th March 1968, Ione writes to Ken:

I am sitting in a small room and John is sitting in his pajamas with his feet down on the floor on a blanket with another blanket over them. He is looking at a National Geographic. He seems quite well, but has been having a hard time as his muscles gave out and he has not been able to walk now for nearly a week. Gradually strength seems to be coming back in, and today his body muscles were strong enough so that he could sit upright without support. He is eating well and resting and I guess he will soon be built up again so that his muscles will function. The doctor asked that no one come in, as he thinks it might be catching, so visitors have talked to him at the door or through the window. He can look out the front and see where the cows graze; this morning he saw them all (130) taken down to the dip.

I do not have regular duties yet and I am glad to be able to spend all the time with John until he is better. David and Stephen this morning washed the new crew-cab pick-up and finished putting on accessories which came with it. They did not work for Mr Crossman today, and it has rained a lot. They were just here, and I told them to come back in an hour as they are allowed to come in once a day to carry John on a chair to the bathroom. Tonight, during the study hall time, I will ask them to write letters. Tim is working hard on his lessons, and today for the second time he was in tears over his assignments, but I’m glad it is a challenge to him as the work was too easy at home. Last week he got thru OK and I think if he tries, he will make it. I don’t know how the other three will manage at Kijabe if it is as hard as here.

John’s hands were steady enough to play battleship with me, but has not tried drawing or painting yet.

I will finish what I started yesterday. I took time out yesterday to talk to Mrs Crossman about the Spring Party for next Saturday night. I have re-written “Fabulous Fashions”, the St. Joseph church skit I brought with me, for the children to act out. I think they are going to have fun. I will be the narrator; I have added a lot of special features for kids. I have no duties at all in the kitchen as yet, except that they let me frost David’s birthday cake; it was a lovely lemon chiffon (no cake mix) but beautifully done by the Swiss lady who is taking my place until the end of the term. It is good I don’t have dorm duties as I can spend my full time with John. He seems better today and uses more muscles already. They say he has a virus which is not uncommon among young people in the U.S. This is what Mrs Scheuzger said she heard that the doctor had said. I guess that is why they still have not let anyone come in the room except me, David and Stephen once a day to carry him on a chair to the bathroom. They send in nice things to John. Just now there is a bouquet of freshly picked carnations in three shades of pink; also, a black vase with huge sweet peas so waxy and lovely and strong perfume. The station abounds with gorgeous flowers.

This morning David was allowed to drive the International pickup truck of the station to haul bricks from one place to another. John and I sat looking out of the window down the hill at the clouds (we are really in the clouds here at 7,000 ft) and watched David back the truck in front of a house down the hill (used to be Grace Barth’s) for Africans to unload bricks; they are fixing up a house ready for more returning missionaries coming any day now to help in printing and the wife will be the dorm nurse so she will be right nearby in case I need her in the night when I have the little kids dorm which is just the other side of the dining room. While we watched Stephen and David, it began to rain, and it was a real heavy rain. The work stopped and somehow David and Stephen got up from there to the dining hall under the (Jacaranda) trees so they didn’t miss dinner. A little girl at my table had a birthday so there was a lovely chocolate butterfly, made after the pattern which I brought with me. (Ione had a small cake book with several creatures that could be made from a standard-sized rectangular cake pan.) Mrs Crossman was happy to use those that I brought with me. The little girl, Barbara Amstutz, is the granddaughter of the people who looked after us in Kampala. All the kids at the birthday table get surprise packets made from half a toilet roll wrapped up pretty and tied at both ends and inside some little things like balloons, rings, tricks, etc. I have written asking the Pioneer Girls at Sunnyvale to make some more as they need them here.

Isn’t it good that we didn’t send the three older boys to Kijabe first? It would have been so hard for John to have his sickness down there. He is sleeping lots and is just now reading a Popular Science magazine. He is lying down again as the end of his spine hurts from sitting. The muscles don’t seem to support him so the weight goes into his bones. He is still eating real good, and has peanuts and Fizzies between times, or now and then a cup of coffee from the two single girls who are our nearest neighbours. It is a great long building; first nearest the main part of the station is Kline’s apartment; also guest rooms where the Faulkner’s have been staying; also Dennis, a Mennonite fellow in his early twenties, of the same group as the two young men that were with Paul Carlson; real nice clean fellow and knows the Lord. He drives and supervises the driving of four big CPRA relief trucks which daily distribute all sorts of things to the Congolese in various areas. This is his War work, as Mennonites are conscientious objectors to fighting with weapons. There is next the apartment where Misses Stirneman and Stephenson live (with a ‘dorm’ living room behind as this used to be the ‘middle’ dorm; then our part which was the other wing of the middle dorm; then a breezeway which connects with the dining hall and kitchen building. Beyond that – unconnected, is the Junior Dorm, where we will move after April 3. I still feel this is just where the Lord wants me and I am trusting the Lord to heal John in time for next term. But there are many weeks yet, and so he does not feel rushed. We have to make a trip for groceries before we start to do our own cooking; but we have more papers to get in order first for going back and forth to Uganda for shopping.

In a letter to her mother on 23rd March 1968, Ione writes with an update on John:

first, I know you will be wanting to know how John is. He still cannot walk or even stand, but is using every muscle that will respond, and just now is taking his model airplane out again for the first time since he became ill. His hands are not nimble yet nor have much grip, but the plane is light and he is trying. I found out yesterday that the name of John’s illness is poli-neuritis, a virus which the Doctor feels he got at home, but just at the time of leaving, and the fact that he had a runny nose at headquarters and we asked Jean Larson for Kleenex for him, reminded me that he seemed a little like he was coming down with something, though he had no fever. They think here that the change of climate had a great deal to do with lessening its bad effects, as all of the muscles were not affected. The nurse explained yesterday that the nerve centre at the base of the spine is like a busy traffic intersection and when a poison hits there it is transmitted to all the places where the nerves go, first to the legs and feet (his feet were the worst, but now he can raise them two inches), arms and hands, body muscles, but not the ones that affect bowels, etc. Swallowing was hard but possible, and it was hard to blow his nose. She said these muscles only got the ‘flooding over’ of the effects of the poison virus, and already they are better, though his eyes tire easily as those muscles are not quite normal yet. But he sees OK. Two days ago, he had considerable pain at the base of his spine, and he started wiggling that spot and he just kept moving it until finally it stopped paining and the body muscles seemed to go back to normal.

Hot bath have helped a lot, and yesterday after that David and Stephen carried him on a chair across the hall to a tub of nice warm water almost to the top, and after about half an hour he was ready to come out and he had washed his hair nicely (Mr Crossman is going to cut it this morning if he can get permission from the nurse). And he was so much better, just like a lot of the poison was gone (the exercising brought fowl-smelling ‘sweat’ to the surface of the skin and thence the need for periodic baths); he kept exercising all parts either while lying or sitting in a chair, and he slept real good last night, felt sore from exercise, but stimulated and cheerful. He says he has dedicated every one of those muscles to the Lord, and expects Him to put strength back into them. I believe the Lord will do it. The nurse said this morning that after the ‘height’ of the disease, one must take about 3 weeks, so John cannot expect to walk yet. But he is eating well, they let me go to the refrigerator of the dining room and get milk whenever he wants it. He loves the fresh milk here, and good beef and pork almost every day. I am still free to spend all my time with him and we have had some wonderful talks and have read several books together.

I can check on the other boys at regular intervals: Tim before and after school; Stephen and David after the others are in school to find out what work they are doing; Mr Crossman is letting David dismantle an old motor to see if part of it can be used as a means of blowing wind to dry clothes when it is rainy here; Stephen has been the last few days right with Mr Crossman at the airstrip. I am washing out John’s pajamas and wool socks (to keep his feet warm) every day or so as he has only two pairs pajamas in this baggage.

Ione and the boys still only have the baggage they could bring on the plane as their other possessions were still in transit from America, so Ione has to make the occasional shopping trips:

We might have to drive to Arua (3 hours) looking for a little pressure stove to use till ours comes. Also a charcoal iron, as they don’t use the electric irons during holiday.

She also has administrative details to attend to:

I had to go to Bunia (3-4 hours) for registering and getting a visa which allows travel over the border any time and licenses & drivers’ license for David.

Whilst she is busy, the boys’ step in to help care for John:

Stevie was just wonderful with John while I was gone and never left him once except when Tim was here during recess time and again while Stephen did his “pantry” work. I was amazed at Stephen’s gentleness in lifting John from a chair to the deep warm baths that helped him so much. (John built up his leg muscles with work-outs on the treadle sewing machine. Steve helped John set up the bicycle in one room on its stand for John to peddle in-situ. The bicycle light – powered by a small generator on the rear tyre – was an additional strength-building measure and the light’s intensity on the wall was his visible means of gauging his level of exercise. Inventive like his father.) It was Stevie who hoisted him on his back 3 days ago and set him on his feet, and then shifted to one side and helped him to walk again. It was so wonderful to see John walking today without help. The disease poli-neuritis sometimes leaves people crippled, but there is no sign of crippling, just weakness and he is thin, but real cheerful. And yielded to the Lord.  With love,  Ione and Mother

The McAllister family join Ione and they all move into the Junior Dormitory together. Ione writes to her mother:

there has been just one thing after another to keep me from the letters. We were doing our own cooking for a while, and with ten of us it took time; and the stove was only operable by means of a screw driver and then only two burners; a gas bomb stove which the rebels wrecked. I have sent an SOS to Dick Sigg in France to get some missing parts in Europe as it is a European stove. When these things come, we will have three burners and a nice oven; Bob McAllister was able to buy for me also a two-burner kerosene stove which helps. And we are baking bread, cake, pie in the stove in the kitchen of the school, but it is going only a few times a week while the students are away. Mrs. McAllister and I washed this morning in the school laundry and the motor was put on for that time. But the water is so dark and we had trouble getting more hot water when we wanted it. Bob McA. and the big boys are trying to improve the water system. We have the help of Africans now and so the cooking is less of a problem. We all went to Bunia and bought some more canned goods (quite a few things there). I also bought some cheap blankets and sheets as the boys will be able to use them until our things come.

Ofeni, for whom we prayed so long as his wife and nephew were in the forest for two years, is at the Theol. School in Bunia. He was one of the first to greet us in Bunia last week, was on his bike and showed us where one store was, then offered to go and buy us some bread at the baker’s. When he came back with the boxful of loaves, Bob McA. offered to pay him for his trouble, and Ofeni looked at him in amazement. He said, “Oh, Bwana, I should be paying you for coming out here to Congo again!”  This is so nice to hear and makes us feel really wanted.

John might have gotten that disease on the way as he sat by strangers twice. Today, Sunday, Easter, we are having roast beef for dinner, with rice and gravy, creamed cauliflower with cheese over, and mixed fruits for desserts (small bananas and orange juice). Alma McAllister made some chocolate ‘eggs’ and put white icing on one half, so little Ruth is happy to take some eggs to the little Crossman girl and they have invited her to have dinner with them. We had apple pie Fri. night; actually, I bought apples at the door, which were grown near the Uganda border, so Alma made apple pies which were delicious. I made chocolate cake and we’ll have that for supper tonight. John’s Venus Flytrap is still alive, but not very healthy looking. Lots of swarms of bees around, so when his bee stuff comes, he will be able to start a bee family. This morning we all walked to church and John did very well, just a little stiffness.  Much love, Ione

PS: …Our boys will also ride with McA.’s between here and Kampala, so I know John will be looked out for. And the nurse here will write a note to Doctor Barnett at Rift Valley Academy requesting that John be excused from gym and also any work that might be ordinarily required. She wants John to have only his schoolwork to cope with, until he gets built up more since his sickness. He is getting vitamin capsules. He has made a tremendous effort to get back on his feet and is now trying to walk normally and has almost succeeded. Don’t worry about his pyjamas which were left behind. Just start a pile of things which might be sent to us later when the yearbook comes out.

On the 13th April 1968, Ione writes to Ken:

I want you to know I am still claiming verses from God’s Word for you. The past ten days have been busy and happy ones, spent mostly in company with the McAllister’s, who arrived here the 1st of April. When the school children left on the 3rd, the “10 Macs” (as they call us!) moved into the Junior Dorm. Alma & Bob & Ruthie have the first room (large), on the boy’s wing, and the next room Tim & David McAllister; across from them is Bill & John; then the last two rooms opposite each other at the end Stephen and David chose to be by themselves. I am in the apartment. We are using the only two good burners on Fonseca’s stove, plus a 2-burner kerosene stove I bought. We bake in the dormitory kitchen. This morning the boy is making toast over there. I have had to buy some sheets from Bunia to use until our baggage comes. The boys are changing sheets now.

Bobbie went over to speak over the intercom to Bill Snyder who is just now at Nyankunde. We received your March 17, 24 and 31st letters, the latter just today. Glad you heard our Wyrtzen broadcast. David enjoyed his birthday card. You could send money thru headquarters for birthdays if you like. Glad you talked to Neil Hawkins. Let us know how you get along running for vice-presidency of the Missionary Union. Hope you make it. Also, it would be nice to take music lessons if you give up Chorale. Would that be piano? Or horn? Or vocal? I wish you could do more with your trumpet.

I hope while you are at home you can get the summer plans worked out. CoBeAc sounds good, if they can fit into your previous plans, with care of fruit, etc. at home. (In another letter, Ione asks Ken whether he sought his grandmother’s permission for his summer plans!) I’m glad you plan to go to UFM Retreat. Sorry you hurt your ankle. Hope it is OK now. John wants to be able to play Rugby this term at RVA. The nurse is going to write a note to the doctor (Barnett) asking that he be excused from work or P.E. He does most everything the others do now, but is very thin (lost 17 lbs!) and limps yet; has not his complete grip in hands yet. But there is a constant improvement. Thanks for the verse Proverbs 10:11. I have been needing the right words to say – both to children and adults. I will have 10 girls and 11 boys this term when it starts (May 1, I think). McAllister’s are going to escort the 40 RVA students April 28 to Kijabe by train from Kampala. Our 3 will ride in the Land Rover to Kampala with them. I will look after David & Ruth during that time. Then Rethy starts; and McAllister’s will start for Kisangani. Chuck Davises are due next week. I’ll put verses in another Air form.  Much love, Mother

P.S. Nice and cool here.

On 23rd April, in another letter to Ken, Ione states that the boys are looking forward to going to school and

realize that it is a responsibility before the Lord to keep true even though others might not, in the matter of music, devotions, witnessing. I read them your letter about your own experiences of not witnessing at RVA, and urged them to witness to each other and the other kids even though they might not have a chance to go out into the villages. Then while they are home here, they can get out with Mr. Miller or Mr. Crossman. You should hear David on Larry Ward’s trombone! He is playing the low part with Peter Crossman and Billy McA. Billy is constantly at it, and this has inspired David. John is always on the go and is still quite thin, but cheerful and limps along behind the others.

Stephen is rugged and a little more grown-up since setting his face toward RVA, but he like the others realizes that he must have a strong determination to please the Lord first.

I have had two sick spells since John’s illness. First it was the flu but I did not go to bed. Then last Saturday I felt something coming on; I made it to church Sunday morning but left before it was finished, and went to bed. I could not get up for two days, and they found out it was malaria. I am going to be more careful now to take the malaria medicine regularly. We brought such a little and were taking only half as much as we should for one dose. I hope to be all right now for the beginning of the term. May 1st term starts. Much love, Mother

On the 5th May, 1968, Ione reveals:

Yesterday we all had shots against pneumonic plague (they say, worse than bubonic plague!) which has reached epidemic stages in this province. Now that everybody is inoculated, there is no danger of getting it. But there are lots of barriers up so that people cannot pass from region to region, as the disease is being carried, and a number of people have died. They have to burn the bodies. It would appear that there is an outbreak of Diphtheria as well.

It would appear that Ione is having difficulties in settling into a routine of letter writing, she and Hector always picked a Sunday but as she explains to Ken on the 5th May 1968:

I know now what I will need to do in order to get the letter written once a week. It cannot be on Sunday, as that day I have 21 little children to keep on their beds during rest time (1-3 P.M.), and it would be the wrong time to start typing. When they get up, we all go to missionary church; then play for a few minutes, then dining room supervision, more play time and then ‘young peoples’ for an hour. They are in bed by 7:15, but then I can’t type as the noise would not help them to get to sleep. So that is why I know that it must be either Monday or Friday. I will start right now (10 A.M.) as they are in Sunday school classes for a little while, but at 10:30 Tim will help me take them for a walk. But I will try to finish as soon as they go off to school tomorrow (after I have had room inspection).

Ione shares that she is enjoying her new role but her daily routine starts early:

I have found I must get up at 5 in order to really be ready for the time when I waken them at 6:10 (for them to read their own Bibles); then the group devotions at 6:15; make beds at 6:30; sweeping. Cleaning bathrooms have to be supervised; then at 6:50 I go over to dining room to supervise the setting of tables, etc. By then things are going OK here and Tim can keep them at their rooms (the dining room is just a few feet from our dorm so I can go back and forth to see to both!) When the bell rings at 7:10 I have to see that everyone stands behind their places and if Mr Crossman isn’t there, I have to ring the table bell and read Daily Light and pray, or call on someone. At noon and night, I start a song and call on someone. If there are guests, I see that they are seated, too.

Whilst the role may be new, the tactics Ione uses are not so new:

The little ones came back home at recess time and before I opened up the ‘candy cupboard’ I asked them to each pick up five little pieces of paper which were lying around in the grass, then wash their hands. You remember when Daddy used to do that! Not the candy part but the picking up part!! I am reminded so many times of what Daddy would do as I continually call upon the Lord to be my ‘husband man’. (Often Hector would slip a coin under a piece of rubbish so the child picking up rubbish gained a prize. It certainly was effective and intensified ‘rubbish clearing’ for a bit). Right now, I am asking the Lord how to get a light fixture repaired, and a table for the little girls and three living room chairs for myself, as our apartment has no chairs except 7 dining room chairs which were made with funds which I sent out ahead. I wish you could come out and help with some of these jobs! But I will not tempt you, as I know that you must be soon deciding where you will take your next training. But it would be nice before you go into the next thing if you could be here during the summer and get us better set up! It is something to pray about.

And some things never change:

David McAllister was trying to ram match-head powder into a make-shift gun of John McDowell’s and it exploded blowing off the tip of his thumb. If his thumb had not been over the hole, the blast would have gone into his lung. Pray that he will have more sense now, and leave things like that alone!!

Whilst letters home contains much of what is happening and important to Ione, they are also about directing and instructing Ken and Paul back in the States. Ione writes to them:

It’s OK with me if you boys decide to keep the station wagon. (it would seem that this has not been sold to fund the vehicle Ione was getting as expected by Mission Headquarters.) And Paul could have the Falcon repaired to last until fall. I hope nothing interferes with your going to the UFM Retreat. And the station wagon would be nice for you all to travel to Jim’s wedding.   Love, Mother

In another letter a week later, Ione writes:

Glad you have a place in the garage planned for the Falcon. Don’t forget to get the station wagon greased when it needs it (look inside the front door for mileage it was last done).

In a letter home to family on the 12th May 1968, Ione describes some aspects of life at Rethy and some of the problems that she and the family are dealing with. David, Stephen and John have gone to the Rift Valley Academy where they board and it transpires that John is finding it harder to settle than the other two because he is still recuperating from his illness. Ione shares:

John sounded lonesome and did not know anyone with whom he was rooming and he said it didn’t look like too many kids are a very good example. Pray for him as everything would seem harder because he has been sick and all three have been out of school long enough for it to be a real effort to get back to studying.

 He sets his own physiotherapy agenda, determined to get better and a doctor does confirm that the muscle damage does not appear permanent. All three find the return to studying more arduous, having had quite a long break from schooling.

The boys do not have enough clothes because the baggage sent by sea has yet to arrive. Apparently, it is all at Mombasa waiting to loaded onto a train.

Ione realises that she is relying a lot on Tim for support with the work she is doing and the care for the children. Tim gets up early to light fires in the grates before everyone else is up to warm up the rooms, and he too found the return to schooling difficult. Tim also deputises for her and has to care for the smaller children whilst Ione attends meetings.

Juggling finances also consumes Ione’s energies but she is spared 1000-shilling surcharge at RVA because of the work she does at Rethy. She writes:

Sorry you were hard pressed for funds. I owe money in several directions here, but have sent a bill for over $300 which I used for travel and hope to have that much more deposited soon in my account. Then I can write a check again. The baggage cost $500 to send by freight. But I believe there was enough came in to cover. In the last statement I received, there was no overdrawn, but nothing extra either. But I do praise the Lord that the heavy expense of getting out here is covered. I have yet to pay freight on the baggage from Mombasa here, and I should be hearing about that soon. The good news is that there has been $119 deposited into an account towards David’s fare home. The plan is that he travels with another missionary family back to the States to continue his education with Paul in 1969.

At the end of this letter, Ione, referring to the massacre of 1964, writes:

The rebel general who cut Winnie Davies’ throat is still at large, the only one so far as we know. Pray for him. Another general accepted Christ.

And Bob and Alma McAllister leave for Kisangani! Whilst Ione might not expand on this, it must have been quite a moment – they have shared so much and whilst not stating the extent of their support, it is evident that she has relied on them and enjoyed their presence immensely.

The exact impact of the recent malaria bout is saved for a letter, written on 13th May to her sisters, Lucille and Marcellyn;

One night I just couldn’t sleep; the medicine for malaria had left me with diarrhoea and cramps and a faintness that I recall from days years ago when I had amoebic dysentery. When I tried to walk, I fell down. So, in the night I struggled with satanic jeers and cried out for the blood of Christ to cover me and shouted Hallelujah for I knew I was on the winning side.

The day before the children were to come in, I was still weak, but by this time I had the assurance that the Lord would equip me for my job if I just went straight forward. I heard on Sunday night the verse “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou MUST (shalt) go.” And this made it quite imperative that I accept it as a command and act as if I was able to do it. And so, when the children came in it was OK and I cried to the Lord each hour for strength and He gave it, and gradually I got stronger.

She outlines her duties, which include supervising the children setting tables, their hygiene needs and their behaviour and that there is little time for herself – letter writing gets squeezed in at odd moments during the day.

However, she ends her letter on a positive note:

We have real good meals here, meat once a day, fresh apples and strawberries just now, fresh milk and butter, homemade bread. You may wonder about my mentioning apples several times lately. Mrs Crossman says this is the first time since she has ever been on the field that apples were plentiful here. It seems a Belgian planter planted some apple trees 8 years ago and they are just now beginning to produce. They are like a cooking apple, but large and juicy and the children love them. We have had apple crisp for several Sundays, and baked apple twice. The strawberries which seem so plentiful too, just now, are from Mr Crossman’s own garden. Both he and she are great gardeners, and the flowers all around my house are not only planted but cared for by their continuous care (they have native gardeners to help). For breakfast today (as on one other Sunday) there was a Swiss cereal made from oatmeal (raw) which had been soaked in milk overnight and then sweetened strawberries added to it in the morning. It is creamy and delicious and the kids went for seconds. And for the first time in 25 years I feel energetic in Congo, due to the high altitude and cool climate. The hottest it gets is around 70 and in mornings and evenings we have a fire in the fireplace. I wear heavyweight silk stockings (or will until I wear these out!) so I have sent an SOS to Mother that I will not be wearing the bobby-sox and will need more silk hose for everyday wear. The coarse cotton ones I bought are too heavy and don’t look nice; people dress up more here and wear even wool suits and fancy heavy dresses like in winter at home! It is a new experience for me but I do enjoy it, and everything is done so nicely here and in good taste. I haven’t enough furniture yet, but what I do have is good quality. The baggage should come in a few weeks as I heard that it has arrived at the east coast already.

Her final request is that the family write to David, John and Stephen separately, as Ione feels the boys do not pass letters round between each other.

In a letter to her mother and Paul, covering much of the information given above, Ione realises that she has totally forgotten about Mother’s Day that is until Tim presents her with a belated present that he has made:

Yesterday I was presented a belated Mother’s Day gift. I had not even given Mother’s Day a thought, not even when I was writing to you last Sunday, and it would have passed unnoticed, but on Friday night when Mr Crossman had charge of study hall he whispered to Tim that he would help him if he wanted to give his mother a belated Mother’s Day gift. Tim thought a great deal before suggesting the making of a bellows for the fireplace. This was something that all the other fireplaces on the station have, all made by Mr Crossman of beautiful hardwood combined with white plastic fastened on with silver button like tacks, and an aluminium point. Tim brought it to me yesterday and it hangs proudly beside the pink brick fireplace. I’m sorry I didn’t even think to give you a greeting on Mother’s Day, Mother.

Ione adds:

…I think the reason I don’t feel quite so good today is because we had some trouble with the girls’ bathroom yesterday during the morning baths. The hot water didn’t come thru and had to be carried by buckets from the back of the house. The houseboy could carry it to the hall, but couldn’t go in where the little girls were, so it meant quite a few pails to be carried. Mrs. Davis came over to put up the little girls’ hair on some of her curlers (and mine) and she pitched in and helped, so by 10 A.M. we were done. But as I had released Tim for his ‘special’ job I missed him for watching the boys and so I was tired already by 10 A.M. as the boys had jobs in their end (all drawers checked, beds changed, etc.). Then the table games scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 last night were strenuous in spite of the fact that Mrs. Kline planned and took charge. But I can lie down tomorrow morning after they all go to school. Pray that I will remember that there are 24 hours in the day and the Lord will never let me get too tired. I still love this work and can believe God to undertake for me. One compensation yesterday came from the remark of little Anne McDowell; “The reason I like you for a dorm parent is because you are just like my Mother.” She is the youngest of the 5 McDowell children (Ruth sometimes writes to Paul from Kijabe; the biggest boy here (8th grade) is John McDowell) He helped Tim fix his bike yesterday. A beautiful pink rose is looking at me from a small white vase loaned by Mrs Crossman. On Easter morning Mr Crossman presented a corsage of roses to both Ione and his wife – a very kind gesture.

Besides supervising chores; managing bath times, Ione has to ensure discipline is meted out fairly! She writes to Ken on 19th May 1968:

I am getting more used to the children, and having to come down on them hard as some would take advantage. The youngest of the three little Swiss girls got into a scrape with her roommate over the swing; 6-year-old Mimi bit Lizzie and then to retaliate Lizzie tried to choke Mimi. I hastened them into their room and got the strap. I shut the door and told them they would both have to be strapped. Then I saw Mimi’s chin quiver and she said quickly, (in her German-flavoured English) “I’m werry, werry sorry!” Lizzie started to cry and said, “I’m sorry, too!” They were really upset at even the thought of that heavy double strap! I said, “If you’re sorry you’d better tell each other.” So, they told each other they were sorry. Then I said, “And you’d better love each other!” So, they hugged and kissed each other. I could see they’d had punishment enough so I didn’t strap them. But I did have to strap two little 1st graders on bath day when they started performing in front of unclosed curtains and the girls were outside. (Ione would believe their behaviour lewd and in need of prompt curtailment. In the past, Ione was not usually the one wielding the strap.)

There is a sense that Ione is having difficulty juggling all that she wants to keep control of; she writes almost in note form:

I’m glad Paul is accepted for Moody. Can you ask to room with him? And what should he do about employment? What is your date for close of school? Then when will you go to Jim’s wedding?

I haven’t got your summer plans straightened out yet in my mind. Would you like something from here for your birthday?

All for now. Much love, Mother

At the end of May, Ione writes to Lucille. There are a couple of references that suggest Ione is struggling without Hector; she writes:

This morning Tim and I were reading together I Timothy 5:10 where it gives the qualifications of real widows, and I said I didn’t think I rated as one for I had not “washed the saints’ feet”! Then I thought suddenly about yesterday when I washed the feet of 11 little saints! I guess that counts.

(Saint Paul was writing to Timothy and giving him guidance on who should be admitted to the Christian church. He was advising Timothy to be wary of young women who were widows as they may be wanting/ looking for ‘new’ husbands. He said a ‘real widow’ was one who was over 60 years of age, had only had one husband and had children and a reputation for good deeds ‘washed the feet of saints, relieved the afflicted and devoted herself to doing good in every way’. I guess there were times when Ione wished she was not a ‘widow’.

She then adds in sharp contrast to her issues:

Two of the little boys and one little girl from 1st grade accepted Christ this week, so there are some good testimonies.

Ione tells Lucille about a book she is reading:

I’ve been reading a book written recently by (Richard) Wurmbrand, a Russian (Romanian Jew who converted to Christianity in 1938) Christian who suffered greatly for many years in prison for his faith behind the iron curtain.

(Richard was had studied in Moscow and was initially, a political prisoner. Following his conversion to Christianity, he maintained that Communism and Christianity were not compatible. This stance resulted in him being imprisoned and tortured for his beliefs. He was held in an underground cell in solitary confinement but by using Morse code, tapped out messages to fellow inmates. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was released after 14 years imprisonment after a ransom of $10,000 was paid. Reluctantly, he left Romania and emigrated to the USA after spending time in Norway and the UK. He wrote many books, the most famous being ‘Tortured for Christ’ which is probably the book Ione was reading.)

He says it’s not so much what we endure that counts but how much we can love the Lord and others for Him. The right kind of love puts pain and bodily torture in the shade as something apart; I guess that’s what is meant in I Corinthians chapter 13. I’m learning quite a few things from this book.

It is evident that Ione misses Hector; she relies a great deal on the boys, however, there are some things they cannot help her with, and it is to her mother that Ione turns to and shares her concerns about the boy’s welfare. She wants to know who Paul takes to a School event; she writes:

Did Ken tell you he took Madelle Hawkins to the West Suburban Nurses’ Banquet a while ago? I saw her picture in a scrap book here of UFM missionaries and she is a beautiful girl. I went to school (Wheaton) when her father Neil was there. It is a real nice family and some other girl, Alice, I think is married now, but I remember when I watched them at the Conference, I thought they were the type of missionary girls which my boys should get to know. The Hawkins work in Brazil under UFM. He is the oldest of the 3 Hawkins brothers who have done so much translation work and primitive work among the Brazilian Indians. Their father was a well-known pastor in Texas. I think I could like this girl just as well as I thought I would like Ruth Schuit, for a friend to Ken. But I am sure he knows that he must not get serious with anyone just yet as he has so much responsibility with the home as well as getting arrangements made for the next school which he will attend. I don’t know the boys’ schedule for Camp and I would like to have a list of the responsibilities which they will have during the summer.

Another worry for Ione is the car. This has to be licensed in Kisangani and until this is done, the car sits idle. 

The car sits in its carport most of the time. Mr Crossman has taken Tim out twice in it to let him learn a little about it, but it will probably be another year before he will let him drive on his own. Snyder’s are desperate for a car to go to the UFM Conference in July, but I am not sure it could be back and in good shape for when we may need it for our own trip when school is out. I hate to have it sitting idle when Snyder’s even had to walk part way home after midterms, but I will try to stick to our hope of keeping it driven by one person. Mr Crossman says if I lend it out, he will not take the responsibility of servicing it, and I know how Hector felt and also you about this. Pray about this.  Ione

This must have been hard for Ione, especially as she was so used to sharing all she had as in the early days of Missionary work.

A few days later, 24th June 1968, Ione writes to those resident in Pontiac:

This morning Mr. Crossman broke his toe while cutting down some trees with his power saw. They were getting too high for the plane to come in good for a landing. The little MAF plane comes in every few days now, sometimes twice a day. It had just taken off when Mr. C. broke his toe and the nurse must have had radio contact with the plane, for it only got as far as Nisi (Doctor Becker was on it) and it turned around and came back for Doctor to take care of Mr. C. We were surprised to hear it come in just as we were at the table this noon.

That Doctor Murray who, along with Doctor Becker, looked after John the next day after he became sick, has quite a story. Mrs. Peter Stam was here last Friday and told me he was a discouraged Christian in Toronto and came to Peter for help and Peter gave him, “Another Hand on Mine,” to read. It gave him a big desire to visit the field so he reserved 3 months of his busy medical training. Mrs. Stam said his visit here changed his whole outlook and now he wants to devote the remainder of his life to helping the work here, he can’t be out fulltime as his specialized training makes it necessary to stay there. But he gives much money. And he said it was the lives of the missionaries that he marvelled at. She said he asks often about John and I realize now how the Lord planned it for this famous man to be right here just when we needed his wisdom for John’s sickness. I am hoping John will come home without a limp, but am not setting my heart on it, for perhaps the Lord can use him more with that embarrassing hobble. I notice he has not applied to take any games next term, but Stephen is already playing rugby, and David contemplating soccer. The Muchmore boy says John is doing lovely oil painting. Mrs. Muchmore heard from her son who is there. The UFM Muchmore’s are going to bring our boys and hers and the McAllister boy back from Kampala after they get there by train. I have set our dates for the Kisangani trip to leave here July 29 and return (that is leave Kisangani again) August 29. Our address while there will be B.P. 216 c/o UFM, Kisangani, Republic Democratic du Congo. Does that sound familiar, boys? The Kijabe 3 had a chance to shop in Nairobi last Monday as it was the midterm vacation, and it will be interesting to hear what they got. I think shoes and pants mostly. They don’t have enough for a tarpaulin, but will look at them. I hope to send a check July 1 for that.  Love, Mother and Ione

On the 5th July, Ione furnishes her mother and Paul with more details of the planned trip:

…It looks like I may have a chauffeur as well as a UFM pastor to help us to get to Kisangani. A fine trustworthy chauffeur named Lamec can go; and McAllister’s said they would send a pastor up when the UFM folk return from the Congo so that he could help us all the way. I haven’ t had time to make mosquito nets yet but have the material and will get at it as soon as I can. Just 2 weeks more till school is out. One little boy is leaving in one week as they go on furlough. The food continues to be on the highest level: for dinner today mashed squash, roast beef, gravy, baked potatoes, fudge pudding. I was tired yesterday but had a chance for extra rest after dinner as it was quiet. Today I have a little sick girl; one of the 3 Swiss girls of the Scheuzgers, who carried on as dorm parents from Jan-April. But she is sleeping now.

A rat got into my purse last night and chewed a part of a roll of toilet paper that I had put there for when travelling. I heard a rat in the ceiling in the night, but didn’t know it was so near to my bed. Tim is going to either put out poison or set the trap for tonight. I got a good supply from over the border.

John says he can walk normally, but can’t run much yet. He tried soccer but without success. He’s going to ask the doctor about future possibilities.  (It turns out the diseases John had was Guillain-Barre syndrome which is a serious disorder that occurs when the body’s defence (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness. Some have attributed his catching this from vaccinations acquired in Pontiac prior to leaving the US for Congo. Loss of muscle cells in the arms and legs occurred in John’s case but he was able to enlarge the unaffected muscles cells and eventually, after 2 years of strenuous, self-induced therapy, was able to function normally. Much of this therapy included hiking trips to the bottom of the ravine near the rugby field at RVA to check his traps every afternoon and then back up. Any small antelopes caught were cooked up in his room and the meat was shared with his roommates in order to augment their diet at the RVA dining room which always seemed short on protein.)

Much love, Ione

On the 8th July, Ione reports home:

I had to let the truck be used for a load of UFM missionaries to go to the UFM Conference in Kisangani and it left last Saturday. I was able to buy a tarpaulin in Bunia, so David won’t have to bring one from Nairobi. If I had not let them use the truck 8 people would have had to miss the Conference, as our mission has only 3 vehicles up in this area. Mr. McAllister will look after it well during the Conference and is building a special garage (in Kisangani) and a high wall to enclose the cars so that nothing will happen to them. And he has 3 guards on duty at night. They will be able to get insurance for it while in Kisangani also, so that it will be ready for us to take our trip July 29.

We heard that cars are stopped around the Bafwasende area to see if they have insurance papers. Ours are applied for, so I think Mr. Snyder will get through. I am committing this car daily to the help of the Lord just as I would a child, and I believe the Lord will look after it until it gets back here. I will be the only one missing at that Conference. (Ione’s concerns about the safety of the car are founded on the knowledge that the situation in the Congo remains tense, there is little regard for property and personal safety is not at the level it was pre-Independence.)

Good news shred is:

I’ve heard there is more baggage at Bunia, but none know yet whether it is ours.


The water system was off this morning as well as lights, until 10:30 A.M., but there was a heavy rain and we were able to collect enough water in buckets to flush the 3 toilets and put in washbasins for hands and faces. There are two outside toilets which we could use if we had to, but the path there is muddy, so I’m glad we weren’t pushed to that necessity. One little sick girl with malaria still in bed; I cleaned her room this morning and braided her hair; she is Swiss and looks so quaint and sweet. One little American boy left at 6 A.M. for furlough so I have only 10 boys now. I have heard that I may have 8 boys and 9 girls next term, all 3rd grade and under. I am feeling good and Tim is a real help.  Much love,  Ione (Mother)

Paul gets a special ‘birthday’ letter:

This is to be your birthday letter and I’m sorry that it has not gone off before now, as you may not receive it right on your Birthday as I hoped. But whenever it arrives, I want you to know that I love you and do wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Now there are two of my boys out of their teens. I hope that you will have a happy day, will it be at the UFM Retreat or perhaps on the way home. I do not have your schedule for the summer yet so am not sure.

It is raining outside but they are trying to do the Monday wash anyway, as there is so much.

The whole water system was off when we got up this morning, and I guess the big tank must have somehow gone dry. But it looks like the rain is rapidly filling it up again, and after some delay, even the motor went on for the washing machines to operate. You know the motor is water cooled so requires water for that.

Catherine Snyder will have her 15th birthday tomorrow.

There are quite a few snakes at Nyankunde. None here, though; I guess the altitude is too high for them. But the rats and mice seem to be doing pretty well. Two baby ones with lovely brown fur went creeping across the room this week. I guess we’ll have quite a crop if we don’t get busy and kill them. But I want to wait until the kids are gone before I put the poison all around. Tim set a trap last night and I kept a lamp lit in my room to scare them away.

I was glad to hear a child this week thanking the Lord that He never makes it too hard for us. That is a real truth, and when put to the test, always proves out.

I am wondering whom David will take to the Junior to Senior Banquet at RVA. Has he written to you about it?

I spent a long time during the periods of time when the children were in school measuring all the strings on a piano which the rebels damaged. Mr. Scheuzger had mended the outside, but there were hammers broken and strings missing, so I made a drawing of the whole piano and the strings where they criss-crossed and measured from screws to screws, 3 measurements for each string. Some had 3 strings together; it was a job that took time, but I finally got it done and turned the chart over to Mrs. Ward, she will send it away to get the new parts. Then Mr. S. will plan to come here from Linga and put in the strings (he repaired some places with shoe laces, and a real neat job, European style). Then this piano which sits in our living room, will go to the dining room as a practice piano. They needed another place for students to practice.

Mr. Miller is going to write to the U.S. Bureau of Information in Kampala to arrange for films to be sent here every month. That will be nice for when the projector comes. They are already doing it at RVA and the boys have seen some nice things. Everything must be checked through like Daddy used to, to see if it is proper for Christian children to look at.

My last big job this week is finishing letters. Then I will start on the 5 mosquito nets which we must take with us when we go to Kisangani. We hope to leave July 29 and leave come back August 26. They (local officials) are stopping them Bafwasende to show insurance papers, so I have applied for insurance for the truck.  Much love,  Mother

In a letter to Ken on 24th July, Ione writes:

Ken, they say (Snyder’s & Machini) that Daddy may not be buried in the cemetery, but perhaps at Km 8 after all! His body seems to have been hidden like Moses! We may find someone who witnessed, but the mercenary who buried him was deported for bad conduct and the Congolese had all scattered. Bill Snyder is sure he was buried Friday the 27th November 1964. This may be a mystery you can help solve when you come out later.

Ione also writes to her mother on 24th July:

I have a cosy, candle-lit spot in front of the fireplace and hope to get a short letter written to go with Mr. Kline to Arua. I enjoyed the picture of your new car. It is a beautiful colour. Thanks for signing my name to the book for Helen Nicholai. I will try to write to her. It is a shock to have him go so suddenly. I had letters from the two boys written upon arrival at the UFM Retreat. They said they had already written to you saying they had arrived. I hope they had a nice time.

The bank is sending me photostatic copies now of statements, so all I need from you is the number, dates & amounts of checks written. I had $200 advanced to the account as soon as I heard they only put in $700 (because of that $300 advanced). They should take it out only $100 at a time, as we would otherwise have an overdrawn. I am not going to write checks for the September 1st allowance unless I hear how much is there. But I already owe several hundred dollars. I am asking the Lord as a good Husbandman to guide me in all finances, as it is a complicated way, but with God, all things are possible. I would rather have money problems than to have children not going on with the Lord.

Philip Machini (the Congolese Pastor from Bongondza) came from Kisangani with McAllister’s (on their way back from the UFM Conference to collect their two youngest children from school), especially to escort us on our journey there (leaving July 30). Philip is staying here with Tim & me and telling wonderful stories of the Lord’s help in rebel troubles. On the 29th, the fine, mature Christian chauffeur, Lamec, will join us. We will pick up 2 students at a Youth Camp at Blukwa, stop at Bunia, then spend first night with Spees at Lolwa. Second night at Boyulu with Magundi Paul (K&P know him). Then Kisangani! Machini will travel with us all over the UFM field including Bongondza, so we will be taking camp equipment & nets for roughing it. All of our baggage is here now so the boys can take their horns.

Mail does not go frequently from Kisangani & we’ll be in the forest areas, so don’t be surprised if letters are late for a few weeks. I think I have gained back some of my lost pounds & am ready for this trip. We’ll return August 28. If that box has not gone yet, could you put in 2 sets of measuring cups? All the big mirrors were broken, but the one in the medicine chest O.K.

Love, Ione

On the 27th July 1968, Ione is able to report to Lucille:

The drums came a week before school was out and the crates & boxes came the evening of the same day school was out. It was good that most of the children were gone as the dorm living room was filled with baggage for us and for other people (it is a very large living room with cement floor & grass mat). Tim opened the musical instrument box and got out his trumpet that Paul gave and has been playing it ever since. By working night (by lamp) and day I managed to get unpacked and the boys’ things each in a separate room as we now have lots of spare rooms while the school children are away.

The McAllister’s slept here one night only and took away Ruth & David, but could not wait for Billy. He came with our 3 on the 25th, so I have the 5 boys to take to Kisangani. Pastor Machini Philip came with McAllister’s to escort us not only to Kisangani, but all over the U.F.M. field after we get there (and ensure their safety)! I have malaria medicine on hand, also sleeping bags, etc., cots, & a small pressure kerosene stove. A fine experienced chauffeur, Lamec, is coming Monday to help with driving and to guard the car whenever we are not in it. He will stay with us the whole month and return the end of August with us. He has worked for A.I.M. folk here for many years.

We will also take to Kisangani only, two young Christian Congolese who have been attending a youth camp at Blukwa so we will have 3 in back of truck, but have a tarpaulin. They say you can average 15 miles an hour on the road to Kisangani. (The general management and infrastructure such as road maintenance have not recovered from the aftermath of the civil war; the north eastern area is too remote for Central Government based in Kinshasa to bother about.)  So we will not be speeding! Some holes are where cars have been lifted out of mud and you go down & then up again – the height of the car! (In a letter to Ken a few days earlier, Ione writes:

They (the missionaries who went to UFM Conference) say that the road between Bunia & Rethy (which we thought pretty bad) is wonderful compared to Bunia-Kisangani road. Some holes are where cars have been taken out & you just go down in them & then up again.)

I have lots of good food, a cook here is making the 3rd batch of cookies today, has 4 loaves of bread & will make 4 more on Monday. We have fresh butter, too, & strawberry jam! I was glad to get Mother’s account of Jim’s wedding, and a paper napkin. I was glad for your June 19 letter. If you ever need medicine for nerves, ask at druggist for SANATOGEN, an English protein nerve tonic. Mrs. McAllister uses it & gave me some in ’64 when Hector was killed. It is a powder to put in water or milk. I have some now, but don’t need it until 1st day of school! I’ll have about 15 kids.  Love, Ione

P.S. John walks perfectly normal now! The boys are thin but in good spirits. Lots of music each night with horns and guitar.

Ione reaches Kisangani and, on the 4th August, describes the trip in a letter to Ken:

We arrived in Kisangani August 1st after a good 3-day journey. Only a little trouble with the fuel line at Blukwa. We slept at Lolwa, then at Boyulu. It surely looked grim there and we all felt depressed, but went about setting up camp cots & nets. Then asked for water to wash and water for hot coffee & tea and opened our food box by a little candle. After a while Ephraim came with his beat-up pressure lamp. After a little food & drink we cheered up & the boys got out and sat by the fire with some women & children. They were very kind but no one talked much. It was like a funeral.

When we stopped at the teacher’s at Bafwasende I asked if we could to go past the house where the missionaries were held (in 1964), but they put me off and said we would see it another time when we returned there. At Maganga, where we stopped for dinner (our remaining bread & peanut butter & cookies) the people were undernourished-looking. No heads of makemba (plantain a stable dietary item in that area usually eaten fried) anywhere. We ended up by giving them part of our lunch. The mission compound is walled in and high iron gates; also bars on all outside windows. Windows on inner court have bars being put on. Thieves have been getting in although there are 3 guards on.

We are going to try to buy film this week as we brought along the camera. The missionaries look pretty good & the UFM Africans look healthy. Km 8 is terribly overgrown. Hard to even step through. We had to step over an empty snake skin to get up the back steps (about 3” across & quite long). Everywhere is damage. (The family’s first visit to what had been their home in 1964 and where Hector had been shot.)

We went to the airport yesterday, hoping to meet Mbongo Samuel, but he didn’t arrive, probably will be on next plane Tuesday or Wednesday. However, the governor of Province arrived, and we heard a very good band play and saw the governor & his procession. All was orderly and beautifully arranged. We had to back off the road by the hospital, but had a good view there from the truck. Then when the VIP’s passed we went on to the airport & turned around, picked up Machini and family. We had a good church service last night for English speaking folk (BMS and Mennonite fellows from PAX (5 of them); they work for CPRA) Carrington’s were there. Today we’ll visit the dispensary. I spoke in the native church yesterday and the boys played with Mrs. McAllister, on trombone – David; trumpet – Tim; trumpet – Bill; guitar – John; accordion – Aunt Alma. They played again last night. Love, Mother

On the same day, Ione writes to her mother and Paul:

It was a thrill to arrive here August 1st and find MAIL waiting for us! And a birthday tape, which we played right away on McAllister’s tape recorder. It was thrilling to hear your voices, and you all sounded so cheerful and natural. The two birthday cards from K & P were beautiful and I appreciated the cheque. And the pictures of Paul and those of Jim’s wedding were real good.  Also of Mother eating cake. We identified everything in the dining room, even the spot where the tropical fish used to be! Ken & Paul’s letters on the airform were received and Mother’s airform of July 24. Glad Ken got to Camp O.K.

The car came back from UFM Conference in good condition and in good time. The boys were glad to find their belongings unpacked & each in a separate room when they returned from school. They got the truck ready and Mr. Crossman helped David to make hooks to fasten down the tarpaulin; also hinges & handle for the box Ken had made which just fit across the middle of the back of the truck. Then one blue drum fit behind the box; also, a red gas drum. We had a good trip and arrived here around 5 P.M. A high cement wall was built around the mission compound & high metal gates with metal points on top. All outside windows have metal bars made in fancy patterns. The UFM compound goes around a corner (it’s in town) with a row of apartments joined together. Then a large house where McAllister’s live. We have the middle apartment right at the corner – a heavily barred porch, dining room, 2 bedrooms, bath and a kitchen which we do not use. (It is so different from 1964.) It’s where Bill Gilvear lived before he went home. Doctor Moore’s family to our right (facing inner court) then Betty O’Neal; to our left – Jean Radden. Yesterday men came with big frames of iron bars for covering all the windows on the inner side of the compound. In spite of 3 guards on duty they still have thieves. So we seem to be in prison here, but people sleep better with more protection.

We went out to Km. 8 the next day after arrival. I picked up one metal book-end, and the boys some bottles that had melted and were in interesting shapes; also, many empty bullet shells. The guard there told us there was contention for the possession of the place and its belongings & a lot of the fighting there was among the Simbas themselves, and they finally burned it down. Bob McAllister is going to have it cleaned up more & weeds cleared so that something might be done with the foundation. Malenza is Jean Radden’s houseboy. I listened to his story all the while I was making a cake there Saturday morning for Bill McAllister’s birthday. Malenza couldn’t bury Hector as he was captured by the Simbas and imprisoned in the soap factory (across from Km 9). The guard who saw Hector’s body being taken away by a mercenary verified that it was taken to Stanleyville (Kisangani). The fellow who killed Hector is still somewhere around but no longer a rebel. They all know who he is. But I made it plain that if I meet him, I will forgive him & do not want any revenge. We sleep in a room where bullets were fired. Three holes in one window but the screens have been mended. Nice blue walls & white woodwork. But the night at Boyulu was grim – so battered – everything and sleeping in damaged house.   Much love, Mother & Ione

On the18th August, writing from Kisangani to her mother, Ione recounts:

I had a nice birthday party last night, with a delicious chocolate cake and candles and gifts; thermos bottle, box of chocolates, dresser set, shower cap, and French toilet water. Tim’s was the thermos bottle. The 3 others bought something at Nairobi but left it at Rethy, so I’ll have to wait for it until we return to Rethy. We will leave here August 26 and arrive the 28th. The time here is going fast. We were 6 days in the Bongondza area and met with a wonderful welcome everywhere. You’ll be receiving some pictures when they are developed by Gerlash, the fellow who took the Simba pictures in 1964. I received your July 24 and 29 letters. Last night Ken’s of August 12 arrived and Paul’s of August 13, but none from you. Maybe yours will come today. I hope you are not too sick to write. But Paul did not say in his letter that you were sick. Were you able to get enough groceries, etc. with your August 1st Sunday School cheque? I will probably have to write a cheque here before we leave in order to fill up the big drum with gas as well as the 2 tanks. Gas is much cheaper in Kisangani than in Bunia, so we want to take as much as we can carry. I transferred $150 to a Greek in Bunia, for money for this trip and will probably need to transfer or write a cheque for $100 more, so this gives you an idea as to how much has been taken out for me. From previous references in letters, managing money is so much more difficult for Ione and sections relating to this have been cut by transcribers.

If I went back to Bongondza again (I would love to go) I would not receive the exemption that I get from being a UFM on the AIM Rethy staff. For now, I know my place is at Rethy, but the visit to Bongondza has given me a real desire to get into the reopening (a secondary school starts there in Sept. directed by a capable Congolese). If Ken & Paul could come out next summer & help with the rebuilding (under Mr. McAllister) we could get one or two missionaries houses habitable again; woodwork, painting, etc. We are leaving our camp equipment now at Boyulu to make stop-overs between Rethy & here easier. If K & P could spend the summer here David would stay until late August & they could travel home together. It is just a hopeful thought. Ken raised $600 for Europe & it would cost about $1000 each round trip. And what about you, too? You would be thrilled to see the 26 new churches and hear the singing & praying. Much love, Ione

Ione, in later messages spoke of her trip back to Bongondza and later, KM 8 as follows:

“Window glass was shattered or removed. But the impression was not of rubble, but bareness, as the broken things had been cleared away. I could settle down on a camp cot in the little room which years ago was Stevie’s and Timmie’s, and feel quite at home. There was no fear of being watched critically as in 1964. Only monkeys in the trees at the back were somewhat disturbed. Group after group of villagers came to the front door with gifts of chickens, corn, sugar cane, papaya, pineapple, squash, sweet potatoes and eggs.

This generosity reminded me of our first days here when my Mother worried that we might not have enough food, and prayed that as with Elijah, ravens would bring food. And God answered her prayer. We never lacked for food. The men of our missionary group went out every day to gather what they could. And I remember there was always a head of bananas tied up on the back porch. We could have a ripe banana on the way into the house, and another on the way out. And when one head of bananas was completely gone, another appeared. We never knew who the black raven was that brought them, but he was no doubt a local villager.

There were many hugs given by the women. And many little children, born since the rebellion, held out hands and gazed trustingly in our eyes. I say very few young people of teen-age or early twenties. We were told that most of these were dead. They died as soldiers or from starvation in the forest where they hid. In the early morning I heard the drum beat for workmen to come. This was wonderful as it sounded so normal. Some of the village men came and cut away bushes and vines that covered the paths; some swept the workshop which Doctor Westcott built. Some men went with saw and axes to the forest to cut down trees for lumber. Friday afternoon the drum and church bell gave out the call for prayer meeting. And Sunday morning we heard the drum and bell again for church service. The high-peaked brick church stood as neat and trim as ever, every arch beautifully reflected by the sunlight. Over the platform were big square letters painted on a board, “Otikali bi, oibi Ngai azi Nzambe,” “Be still and know that I am God.”

While we were at Bongondza, the boys killed 70 bats in the Doctor’s house. The bat dirt was wall to wall like a carpet, 3 inches deep. This gave us all the desire to make the houses of Bongondza more habitable, so we found enough pieces of glass, washed them, and put them into the windows at the entrance of our house. That made us feel more at home.

It was a real joy, on that first trip back since Hector was killed, to join with the Christian Congolese who suffered so much but are still going on with the Lord. A highlight on this trip was a visit to Kilometre 8 where Hector was killed. The buildings were demolished, having been burned in a terrific fire or explosion. We were able to pick up bits of melted glass as we climbed thru waist-high weeds. There were no houses, but a church had been established since the rebellion, where Congolese from 4 tribes attended. The pastor hobbled over on feet permanently crippled. While he was a prisoner of the Simbas, his feet had been staked to the ground. Rags soaked in oil were tied to them. Then a fire was lighted. He eventually got away, but not before his ear was cut off and his teeth knocked in, all because he would not give up the Lord. His name is Samson. He gave me 2 eggs. He said, “I don’t ask anything from the church as they are too poor. When my wife and 7 children and I have no more money, we go into the forest and cut down trees and sell firewood to get money. We look to the Lord and not to people.”

On the 22nd August, Ione writes to Ken, reiterating her thanks for letters, birthday cards and tape message and gives him an update of their medical status:

We take Nivaquine 2 (anti-malarial) pills once a week while in this area. Aunt Alma supplements it now and then with their Aralin, (Chloroquine is the same antimalarial drug but dispensed under a different brand name) – as she feels we should have more. The McAllister’s are taking a course of filaria medicine just now.

Your must have had a busy time at CoBeAc. Who is the Mrs Love who gave you a pen? Glad you could tell the story to the staff, using Hebrew 12:4-13. God’s chastening will probably continue, for “whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.” We are having a real happy holiday. John and Bill are trying to get driver’s licenses, but the Commissaire wants them to come to his house for several evenings of private instruction. Bob is at Boyulu just now (using our truck as his was too small for the load) so the boys will wait until he gets back as I don’t want them to go alone. David drove the LandRover yesterday to go and meet Sue Schmidt, who came from Bunia by plane.

We went to the U.S. Bureau of Information yesterday and a Congolese man loaned us 10 films on John Glenn, Abraham Lincoln, Natural Science, Basketball and part of an old-time Charlie Chaplin one (standing up in his uniform which does not fit and getting into all kinds of troubles as a soldier in the 1st World War; he camouflages like a tree and a fat German chases him; it’s like an old one Daddy used to use). We have also the one remaining film from Bongondza which we’ll try when we get back to Rethy. “The Man Who Forgot God”. It is in pretty good condition; we found only a tiny piece of the Canadian Mounted Police Horse Training. There’s nothing in the houses at Bongondza, but interesting little mementoes can be found in the cleared part of the forest round about. Am sending pictures and resume of the trip in another envelope.

Bob came back from Boyulu with Bible School students for Banjwadi. David & Bo Martin took them on to Banjwadi so Bobbie could take Bill & John to Commissaire about “permit de conduire”.

Much love, Mother

Whilst waiting for David to return from Banjwadi, Ione writes to Paul on 22nd of August:

I had visitors yesterday & did some baking for our return trip. Notable visitors recently: Emile from Km. 8 who hid in the grass near the Tschopo when the worst fighting was on. He works for a soap factory here; his little boy Paul, died in the forest; Mayani & Astosa; Sofia, wife of Ernest who died in the forest; Lendo, former houseboy; and Balombi, the talkative policeman who used to work for a Kole Belgian administrator.

After nearly 1 week of negotiating, and waiting and “instruction” by the Commisaire, Bill & John received their driver’s licenses yesterday. They were happy to have their “permits de conduire.”

I am sending the negatives from Bongondza. We’re going to try to go to Bongondza for Christmas holiday (& much work).

Did you get a foot locker, Paul? And more clothes? Be sure to have name tapes on everything, even though you do your own washing. Glad you made a jig saw. Also, that you made a rake to help with the grass. Did the gophers mess up the smoothness of the yard? I enjoyed you August 13 letter. Did you get John’s map of mission compound? It is in a corner – L-shaped, one house & an apartment, all one story, with walled-in courtyard & grass.

I’m going to try to get a case of oatmeal to take to Spees for Lolwa station as a hospitality gift. The Lord will bless you for being faithful to the Home and to Grandma this summer. I hope you express your appreciation frequently for all she is doing for you. How is she feeling now?

Much love, Mother

On 25th August, Ione writes to Leone:

We are working on a tape this afternoon which I think you will enjoy. McAllisters’ friends in Ireland will make a copy for you as well as Al Larson and I trust you will share it with the boys. Ken would use it for an M.U. meeting.

Sept. 4, 1968 Rethy

I think I have written another letter since I started this, but I wanted you to know that this tape turned out real good. I hope you can understand the McAllisters’ Irish accents. When Alma said “saints”, it sounded like “since”. Tim is playing the alto part most of the time on his trumpet and Bill McAllister the soprano, though sometimes they changed. What do you think of John’s original guitar accompaniment? Now and then his “coordination” gives out but his hands are getting more & steadier and also his legs. You would not know the effort he makes to walk normally. I think all three will try for the choir (back at school).

The tape is a combination of musical numbers and testimonies about the Lord’s blessing during our visit to Bongondza area. The musical numbers include two duets by Alma & me; “O My Soul, Bless Thou Jehovah,” and “It Will Be Worth it All.” Alma & little daughter Ruth sang two duets. Other musical numbers were by the accordion (Alma); 2 trumpets (Bill McA. & Tim); trombone (David) and guitar – John. Stephen & David McA. gave testimonies. All of us did, in fact.

Would you be able to make a copy for the boys?

We received the 50 copies of form letter here for giving out in this area. They are very good. You surely said just the right things. I will send a check to EMF just as soon as I get my finances straightened out.  Love, Ione

September 3rd, and Ione writing to Ken and Paul states:

David had a day or so of malaria but Camoquin pulled him out of it quickly, and Doctor Brown (Banda) gave him some Camoprime to take along. I found all the boys’ shillings & RVA cheques at his (David) plate after they left but they have their important papers. I’ll mail the money, but they’ll have nothing for spending on the train.

 Ione interrupts her flow:

Tim just chased the cows out of the lettuce garden. The gate had been left open. Tim is taking care of the little squirrel we brought from Kole.

We are anxiously waiting for the parcel. And for news of how Paul is getting on at Moody Bible Institute. Will he take a job? It’s OK to phone Grandma regularly if you have the money to pay for it, don’t let her pay it. Don’t forget to tell her that you love her and appreciate all she is doing. I haven’t heard from her the last two mails. Maybe she is too ill or discouraged. Much love, Mother

A day later, Ione writes to Ken:

Another thing to look for is a tape (at least 30 minutes) which McAllisters & McMillan’s made in Kisangani telling of our visit to UFM area of Congo. Also, some good (?) music by our “band”: Mrs. McAllister at the accordion, John – guitar, Bill McA & Tim at trumpets and David – trombone. This tape has been sent to Ireland for copies to be made. One will be sent to Al Larson; one to Geoff Thomas (Toronto HQ); and one to Grandma. You must ask Grandma to use her copy or to make another for you. I will tell her.

John’s hand coordination is good enough to do a good job on guitar. His legs got a little tired on our trip when he walked on rough ground. He’s not sure they are good enough for soccer. He is still thin. Bill Spees broke a shoulder (fell off Pearl Winterburn’s roof) nearly 2 years ago and the muscle power disintegrated like John’s, but he has the full use again. He told John to not give up exercising.

Tim has grown 1 inch, but still looks little.

I am feeling fine and having fun putting up curtains & taking inventory of dorm linens.

Tim looks after the squirrel which we hope will soon be a good friend to Blackie, the Crossman’s dog. I am planning on 14 children here (7 girls -7 boys) but the Paul Browns are not coming for the Int. Dorm so don’t know yet who will look after them. Keep praying especially for more money. It’ll take me a year to pay up my overdrawn for travel.  Love, Mother

September 8th and Ione gets the opportunity to write to her sister Lucille:

It was so nice to arrive back at Rethy and find your birthday remembrances. The stockings are just what I wanted and I am using them for Sundays and the old snagged, runny ones for every day. If you ever see some cheap heavy-weight hose that would do for every day I could use them. It’s too cold here for bobby sock, but I will save them for my trips to the hot, steamy Bongondza-Kisangani area. I left camp equipment in good hands at Boyulu so that we wouldn’t need to carry them two days every time. These trips will be expensive but I can trust the Lord to provide as I believe it is His will to visit there as often as possible. The boys would like to spend Christmas at Bongondza with the McAllisters and all the Kisangani staff.

Thanks so much for the stockings and pins. I have enough pins now. The Eunice Philathea Class in Pontiac also sent a box (airmail for $8!!) full of rollers, bobby pins and combs which I was needing and I was so glad to have them, as I had used my own on the 10 little girls last term.

I will have 7 girls & 7 boys this term (2 new girls and 5 new boys). Mrs. McAllister will help me to wash dressers and make beds tomorrow. I am feeling fine.

We brought a little squirrel back from Kole and he is a real pet. Tim and the Crossman boy made a nice home for it out of a huge native laundry basket and I sewed a circular mosquito net for over the top. He has learned to go in & out of the house except when he is shut in Tim’s room. But he eats in the basket and some of the time sleeps in the dirty clothes basket. He is a clean little thing and his droppings are no bigger than the lizards we have in the UFM area. He eats everything and sits on his hind legs while holding berries, etc. in his little hands; and eyes everything with his big brown eyes and lets out a nice growl if you go to take his food. He’s only about 4” long, but has a bushy flat tail which fits over the top of his well-shaped head and he uses the tail to balance on the edge of things.

Mother’s package has not come yet, and I have had no letter the last three times Paul wrote. Maybe now that Ken & Paul are off to school I’ll hear oftener. I received the tape they made and surely enjoyed it. We made a tape in Kisangani and a copy will be sent to Mother from Ireland.

I am sorry you have not been well. You have had a hard & busy summer and I hope now you can rest more.

I wish I could be home for a while to make some more grape jam. I’m on the last jar now and it sure is good! Tim is going to take trumpet lessons. He’s getting good! John’s legs tire easily, but getting better. He worked on his bee project while here. Love, Ione

Ione also writes to Ken and Paul:

We are anxious to hear the news of the first days of school. Where is your room?

Got my red velvet curtains up and curtains in all the rooms now. I sure miss you boys out here. I love you so much and would like to see you now and then. Who are your speakers for Mission Union? Paul will you please send Bill McA and Tim leaflets about Aviation Course?   Love, Mother

On the 23rd September, Ione again writes:

Dear boys,

I’m hoping for a letter when Mr. Kline comes back from Arua. The last letter from you both told of your arrival, but I haven’t heard yet whether you are working. I was wondering what money Grandma would use to pay for the lawn to be mowed and snow shovelled. Did she make any arrangement with you? Do you think I should tell her to take it out of the money in my bank account?

I was thinking that if one or both of you were working you might give her the cost for the times that you would not be there to do it. And David could share when he comes.

The 3 RVA boys are keen to go back to Bongondza for the next holiday and to have Christmas at Bongondza, inviting all the Kisangani staff. I don’t know whether this is an overly ambitious hope! Pray that I might get enough money to buy over the border paint and wire screening and paint rollers. Then we could take them with us and do some prettying up at Bongondza, at least in our house, or the doctor’s. RVA gets out December 3 and RA on the 5th, so they’ll arrive here probably the day school is out here, and we could soon be on our way to Kisangani. with the McAllister kids. The truck is fine, and now that John has his license, he can share the driving; also Bill. They will need to haul wood here first, with Mr. Crossman’s truck. John is trying to get that snake skin sent to Paul. He gave me a beautiful zebra skin key holder for my birthday.

Little David Cochrane asked, “What were we born for?” Ruthie Snyder gave the answer,”For God’s pleasure.” I came onto Numbers 11:1 – “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord.” Your verse, Ken, for today – “And the Lord heard it –“ and Paul’s –“And His anger was kindled.” I trust the Lord will not hear you boys complaining. It was about their food, and then the next multitude “fell a lusting.” That’s when the quails came and many were slain because they weren’t satisfied with God’s manna. May the Lord give you contented, happy hearts. Love, Mother

And to her mother:

Dearest Mother,

I guess I’ll have to change my Sunday letter-writing to Monday. Yesterday I taught the 3rd and 4th Grades for the Sunday School period which I had free last term, and I did enjoy it, too, but don’t know whether I will have them all Sundays. Then last evening at 6:30 – 7 when the children go for Young Peoples, they had it in the Junior Dorm living room; I didn’t have charge, but just as we rang the bell for them to come, there was a scramble, and the little boy I let ring the bell hit another boy in the back of the head and it was bleeding. So I spent my free time patching up the wound and washing out the bloody shirt. Then I got Mr. Crossman to take him to the nurse. It was not a bad wound and did not require any stitches, but after this I’ll ring the bell myself! There are three little new boys that need to be watched a lot. But Tim and I have gotten ahead of the bed-wetting by timing ourselves and getting them up before the beds get wet. (Ione has changed her approach to ‘bed wetter’s and they are no longer subjected to the indignities suffered by Ernie Boys and Allan Nicholls back in the 1950’s.) Tim is real good to help me yet, and often asks if I am tired. He is good about going to bed early, too, when it is possible. Last night we were both in bed before nine.

Things are going real well here. There are over 60 children here now, and much to do, but still a lovely place and the children are easy to manage. I have my red velvet curtains up. Mr. Crossman hopes soon to get my stove built in, but as yet it is sitting on a big log. There is a tiny screw missing from the oven switch and I will need to send for it from the Company in California. Until then I can’t use the oven, but am eating in the dining room of the school during the term so don’t need it until December.

Frisky is sitting on my shoulder inspecting my work. I don’t know whether he is a ground squirrel or a tree squirrel, but he spends little time on the floor – always skimming the high spots, like shelves and shoulders. His happiest hours are in the sunshine on the window ledge.

When Betty O’Neal was here with McAllisters during the holiday and for a week afterward (in a little girls’ room who has not yet arrived), she started about a dozen plants. Six begonias I have put on the dining room tables and the rest I was wanting to get bigger for later use, but Frisky goes from one to the other and nibbles the leaves and spills the dirt. He needs to be outside, but there is too much danger from cats. He has evaded 3 different cats so far; his teeth are getting sharp and can draw blood (if necessary!).

I am looking out onto a yardful of gently blowing clothes, several lines of gleaming white Sunday shirts, dish towels and then the coloured clothes. Tomorrow is my wash day; then on Wednesday the sheets and towels from this dorm.

Tim is in the Choir here and is also taking trumpet lessons.

I fixed 10 ‘surprises’ out of toilet rolls today for David McAllister’s table as it was his birthday and these rolls, covered with crepe paper contained some candy, one walnut each and a little plastic animal from those I got at the restaurant warehouse in Pontiac when I bought the things for Mrs. Crossman. I need lots more little things to put in these empty toilet rolls for birthday tables; the kids were thrilled with them today. They need to be small enough for going inside. I can get candy out here. Balloons are OK, or tiny puzzles, etc. Would anything at Christian Lit. be small enough? There are 12 birthdays this term and I need 8 or 10 each time.

I am feeling fine. Tim doesn’t get much taller. I still have only one pair of stockings for Sun., the ones Lucille sent. Your package has not come yet. Maybe today when Mr. Kline comes from Arua!

Much love,  Ione

On the 6th October, Ione writes to Ken:

If the Moody Press folk ask about my book, tell them I have not given up, nor to any other publisher. Just too busy making history to write it down!!

I was glad to receive your letters in September (2nd, 8th, 15th, & 22nd). How did the Bongondza trip pictures turn out? If they good, send some to Grandma. Keep the negatives.

Are you taking trumpet lessons as well as voice, or just voice?

The Lee girl you met was mentioned to me by her brother when he & family were here recently. Their oldest son Stephen will be in my dorm soon. They are thinking of starting him at Mid-term. He is 6 years. The Windsor’s were out here when we arrived and we had the privilege of taking them in our truck from Bunia to Rethy.

Glad for your good time at the Indian Church. I’m glad they want to help with your support, as we are still lacking at least $25 a month. My, I appreciate that $100 you sent. And it came in time to really help me as a cheque I had written for Mr. Kline came back because of insufficient funds, so I just gave him your cheque to help make up for it. How is your Garfield Methodist Blvd. Church assignment coming? Who is the girl on the assignment? I appreciate your missing Sunday afternoon sleep in order to write to us. Your letters are always interesting.

Yes, I am using my voice. Singing sometimes in a trio; I have a Junior Choir in my dorm and am starting once a week a choir in Intermediate Dorm. The Brown’s have asked me.

Mrs. Buyse has the Senior Choir. We will have a Christmas program; also, special numbers frequently. Mrs. Paul H. Brown knows about you through her West. Sub. girlfriends. I think she is real nice and hope you are as fortunate as Paul Henry was to find such a nice girl!

Much love, Mother

On the same day, writing to her ‘other’ boys – David, John and Stephen, Ione says:

I just wrapped up some Klim for John and also prepared a birthday card with a five-pound note in it. Betty O’Neill gave it to me when she was here. It was sent to us in cash from England. I hope John can change it at Kijabe as I have no more shillings. As soon as I opened the tin in which I was going to put the powdered milk, the squirrel jumped into it and wet (pee’d) in the cover. He is so quick and such a rascal. Just now I found him on a shelf where McAllisters had left two sugar-coated pills. I don’t have any idea what they were for, and should have thrown them in the fire before. I had a hard time getting Frisky to give me the one he was chewing. I offered him some fudge and he took the fudge but put the pill in his cheek pocket. Then I tried a piece of canned peach which he loves, but he just looked at it and dropped the fudge and continued chewing the pill. He was almost down to the contents of the pill which I was afraid might hurt him, when I thought about cheese. So, I rattled the cheese wrapper and got a knife and by the time I cut a small piece of cheese he dropped the pill for the cheese, so I got it. He is on my shoulder again now.   Love, Mother

The next day, Ione informs Leone:

Mr. Crossman has built a nice stand for the stove and just now his carpenter is assembling a roomy drawer which will fit under the stove. He has arranged the cupboard now so that the washing machine fits nicely into the corner and has only to be rolled out on Tuesdays when we wash. The spin-dry works fine and it does not use too much water for here. It is quick and the houseboy is pleased that he gets the clothes out with so little effort; I can’t trust him with the whole job, but he can take them out of the spin-dry and hang them up.

I got a new permanent this week and it is nice. I am shortening some of my dresses, but not above my knees! Tim is not worrying too much about his studies, but it does take a lot of time for such hard subjects. And he has trumpet lessons and practice and Choir several times a week, besides being on duty almost at any time he is home during the day. But he does have patience with the little children and gets one up every night before he goes to bed, and lights the night light and stokes the fire. He still gives me a goodnight hug and kiss, so I guess he is still my little boy. I would like to give you one now and then, too, but will have to be content with a long-distant one! I hope you will be feeling more comfortable when you get the right attention for your ailments.  Much love, Ione

On the 14th October, Ione writes to her mother:

…I sang in a trio yesterday, too, at the 3:45pm missionary church. I sang “So Send I You”, the low part, with Mrs. Crossman and Mrs. Buyse. It went well and when Mr. Miller got up to speak he said he felt as though he had already had the message thru that song. Tim sang in a mixed ensemble led by Mrs. Buyse. They did well, and looked so nice in dark suits and the girls in decent-lengthened black skirts and white blouses. (skirt lengths become a major concern for Ione, unused to the fashion trends of the late 1960’s!) Tim will be singing a solo part in the next one they do. My Junior Choir is supposed to sing next Sunday, but am not sure if they will be ready for it. My good singers were the ones who went on to Intermediate Dorm, but I think I can get the 4th graders to sing, too, and it will sound better.

The reason I had to do so much yesterday was because the Intermediate Dorm mother, Mrs. Brown, is sick with malaria.

No matter how many are in my beehive here (children she is caring for), I try to see that there is honey in every cell. Yesterday after the message, a splendid one by Mr. Miller on Nehemiah, little David Cochrane came up to me and said, “I want to be a man of God.” Two of his little friends spoke up and said, “And so do we.” Another boy who was especially bad came and apologized and told me of two things he did and had to get off his conscience before he went to bed. He has red hair and a fiery temper. Pray for him, John Walberg, as he will someday be strong for the Lord if he can learn while young to “rule his spirit”.

Ione had recently seen a film, ‘The bees’ produced by Moody and shown to the Secondary School Girls. Watching the film reminded Ione of a book:

“Edges of His Ways,” by Amy Carmichael, when someone asked her, “How can I love many people? There is not room in my heart for many.”  She spoke to her “of the bees and of how cell after cell is added to the comb and each is filled with sweet honey. God who taught the bees to do this, can do something as wonderful for us; He can add a new cell to our heart as each new person comes to be loved; He can fill the cell full of the sweet honey of His love”.”

The wind is blowing and the whites and colours are billowing from the line upon line of clothes beyond my terraced flower garden. Tim seems to be eating more and is filling up between times from a big tin of cookies which I ordered from over the border. Last night he filled his pockets for during the walk that the Senior Young People take on Sunday nights.

We miss the little squirrel (who apparently died – probably chewed more of the tablet than Ione previously thought), but I am able to keep the house cleaner. He was beginning to get into everything, and I couldn’t lay down on the bed without him running up under my dress. He had a real character, though, and a kind of Joey Boy squirrel that is surely missed. But we may be able to get another one on our December trip.

There are ‘pest’ barriers (control of public movement to avoid spread of infection) up again, but the missionaries have had shots (vaccination/ inoculations) so can get through. This is for that same Pneumonic Plague (not ‘pneumonia’ which you had in the form letter!) It is like Bubonic but in the lungs so is called pneumonic. I don’t think anyone except folk out here would know the difference however, so don’t worry about misspelling that word. I hope I will be receiving letters when Mr. Buyse comes back from Arua today or tomorrow.

I had a letter from Pearl Hiles refusing an invitation to visit me, as she is not well enough and wants to rest when she has a chance. She sent 2 flannel gowns which another missionary left who went on furlough. They are comfortable and warm, and I am glad to have them, not too worn out yet. Thanks for all you are doing for the boys and for me.

I’ll need name tapes for Dec.   Much love,  Ione

October 21st sees Ione writing to Ken again; the topic of girls arises again and without Ken’s letters to Ione, the conversation seems one sided:

I’m going to try to type a letter to you both after the children go to school. Did Doctor Redpath’s question make you want more than ever to have a girl friend? Numbers 15:24 –“THEN it SHALL BE…” In the Lord’s time, as He knows the desires of our hearts.

Have you heard any more about the Hawkins girl? Your verses for yesterday & today: “The soul that doeth ought presumptuously…the same reproacheth the Lord.” And – “Be ye holy unto your God.” Numbers 15:30. Much love, Mother

Dearest Paul,

Thanks for the aviation leaflet. Did you send one to Bill McAllister? He is very interested in going to Moody in ’70.

Do you think Grandma wants you to miss school and look after the house while she has her operation? The Lord could give grace and wisdom even for that if necessary. But it may not be necessary. “A burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Numbers 15:24. I hope your cold is better. Are you resting enough? Love, Mother

Once again, on November 3rd, Ione is writing to Ken and Paul:

 Dear Boys,

Your October 6 letter arrived October 25.

I appreciate your faithfulness in letter-writing even though you are busy. What will Paul do for money for next semester? Is he able to save any from his work? Ken, would you like a girl-friend? I don’t know why Mr. Redpath asked this question, but don’t feel that he meant that it was essential.

How was the missionary conference? What do you think about David’s asking for application papers for LeTourneau Tech?

Grandma says OK and is looking forward to his coming home. I was wishing he could have a concentrated Bible course first, but will not urge too strongly if he is sure of the Lord’s leading there.

What is Grandma doing about her need of an operation? I am feeling fine; just busy a little more than usual as the Intermediate Dorm parents have been away & I have had extra duties & no day off. But Browns are back now, with their new Chevrolet truck & baggage from Mombasa.

I am having a struggle financially and have not yet paid RVA for this term, but if I find extra gifts come in for November allowance, I can do it. Received your October 13 letter & thanks. Glad to hear about the Conference. So glad Ken finished the Memory Course and so glad for the reminder that our God is able to work miracles. I am trusting Him for this. I love you boys very much. Mother

Three days later, Ione to Ken and Paul:

I was sending out Christmas greetings to our supporters, and thought you would like one, too! This bird (on the illustrated header) will probably remind you of many you have seen like it out here. The tall washjack (house boy) here, I think his name is Lakana, saw your pictures on our mantel and remarked that he remembered when you both were here. Many folk often speak of you and remember you.

I feel more and more that there will be less and less of me and my doings and more and more of what my wonderful boys are and will be doing!

The Crossman’s are in Arua today and I hope will bring letters and maybe the package which was sent so long ago. I was glad to hear you had some good missionary conference sessions. I was glad to hear from Grandma that the church had raised my support to $300 more per year, which will be a help.

Was Tim Epp thinking that if he was a member of PAX that he might come to Congo and drive a truck around like the fellows we have seen here? I think it is not a good life as they are on their own so much and except from mission station life are thrown into temptations that sometimes lead to wrong-doing. It seems to me he should finish his studies first and then if he feels he should not go into active fighting (America had a ‘draft’ system, whereby the armed forces could be enlarged by ‘drafting’ in young people aged between 18 and 25 years. There were certain occupations or categories that meant people could be excluded from being ‘drafted’, in all probability, this is what Ione is referring to.) get a Chaplaincy or medical assignment. Wouldn’t he have to be a Mennonite to join PAX?

Tim has been going around when John MacDowell is shooting and has a real longing to do a little himself. I think he will ask the RVA boys to bring him some pellets for a gun that Larry Ward has. Tim is pretty busy helping me, and has to miss part of his study hall but seems to get his studies OK. He reads a lot of the Hardy Boys books and now Sherlock Holmes.

I have lost some weight, am down to 130 lbs., now, but that is not too low and I feel good and eat well. I just burn up a lot of energy when I am on duty with the kids. I have lost that heavy, uncomfortable feeling that I had when I was overweight. I had my teeth checked this week and had no cavities; Tim had two. I have a space on one side which has no teeth from a former extraction in (’55?) Stan, and the MacDowell’s are making me a small partial plate so that I can chew on both sides!

I have enjoyed fellowship with the MacDowell’s this week as they came over a few times for drink and talk. Mrs. MacDowell asked if Ruth was still writing to Paul? I could not answer as I did not know. She is worried about Ruth as she is in a very worldly Art School. I am wondering if she will have to draw and paint nudes, etc. I don’t think it is the place for her, and her folks are beginning to worry about it. Harold is going into the army and has cut off his long hair and beard! Voluntarily, I understand! (In other words – not as a result of the ‘draft’.) A short-term missionary from Canada who came out wearing very short skirts has now lengthened them to her knees, which looks much better. During the Spiritual Emphasis Week with the Doctor Atkinsons she made real strides spiritually and is doing OK now. I don’t think the Rethy students have been “shook” too much by her. (or rather her short skirts! I was not allowed to wear shorts at the age of 12 in case I perverted the minds of the boys around me!) She comes to me every week and we have nice times together. She is 22. I hope you boys don’t go with girls who wear short skirts. (It would seem the length of skirt denotes type of character! ) Paul Henry Brown’s wife is going to have to put hers down a little; I guess everyone at home must be overdoing it these days!

When McAllisters were here we made about 5 kinds of candy and sent it to the boys, but they had to throw out a lot as it took so long going that it was mouldy! And some pants I sent John never did arrive! So I guess we’ll try to give them all we can while they are at home next time! They arrive here December 5; we’ll leave for Kisangani the 9th, arriving on the 11th; and leaving on the 30th to be back here again January 1st. School starts again January 7. David Muchmore will stay with me while his folks take our boys all to Kampala then. I am looking for an “escort” to accompany us to Kisangani and back; if someone from here goes it will be easier. Pastor Corneille here may find someone. It is a real help to have a good Congolese friend along to talk when we come to barriers. But for the driving I am sure David, Bill and John can manage. They are pretty steady, and don’t take any chances.

We’ll stay here for Easter vacation, but in July hope to drive to Kijabe to see David graduate. Their school is not out until July 29, so it will probably be the first week of August when he flies with Schuits (ticket direct to Detroit, I hope!). Keep praying for our needs. If Paul lacks for January funds maybe Grandma could ask if anything more has come in at Avonmore so that we might take some out without its reducing the interest amount. Can he get enough work to ‘pay as you work’? Much love, Mother

It becomes apparent in this next letter, written on the 8th November 1968, that Ione speaks more to her sister Lucille so does not need to write so often, however, letters are still needed:

Dearest Lucille and Maurice,

I am sending these greeting cards to our supporters instead of Christmas cards. Thanks for your faithful gifts. I trust the Lord will in turn supply your every need. I am hoping for fresh letters perhaps even tonight, as Crossman’s are coming from Arua with mail, but I have the time and no disturbances just now so am racing to get as much written as I can, hoping I can let some people know I appreciate what has come for me.

I am wondering what Mother has decided to do for her physical condition. I told Paul to be ready to go home for a few weeks if Grandma wanted him to, while she might be in hospital if an operation is necessary. I think she would rest easier if Paul were there at home to see that all went well. Then you would be free to go and come to look after her, plus your own commitments at Melvin.

I should give you something for all your phone calls, and will be glad to write you a cheque if you are willing. It is so good to keep in touch and I appreciate all you are doing that I should be doing if I were there. Mother has said that she is willing for David to come home next summer (August) and is in agreement with his applying for LeTourneau Tech. I have not heard whether David has fully decided, but had sent for application papers. He can travel with the Eddie Schuit family and Mr. Schuit will help us get our truck to Kijabe to see him graduate. Then John can drive back after David leaves from Nairobi (ticket direct to Detroit, I hope). I expect to spend Christmas at Bongondza, arriving in Kisangani December 11 and arriving back here January 1. Easter vacation is short and I would like to spend it here with the boys; Pearl Hiles might be persuaded to come and have a little holiday here then. She has not left her post in Zandeland (North Congo) for a long time, and although asked to return to Kisangani area, does not feel she is up to it physically. She is doing a good work at an AIM station called Napopo.

I am keeping very well, and have been feeling light and frisky since my excess weight is gone (130 lbs). The dentist here this week found 2 cavities which they filled for Tim, but found none in my mouth, in fact they found fewer teeth than they expected! They felt I needed a small partial to make it possible to chew on both sides. So they have made an impression and will hitch the little deal to one remaining mile post on the southeast corner.

One day several of the 1st graders came home telling me that Steven Snyder had been spanked by the teacher. They said, “Oh, do pray for Miss Stewart, as she had to spank him and it upset her so, and she’s in her fifties, too!” I asked them how old they thought I was, but they didn’t seem to think I needed prayer like Miss Stewart! The story did get around, though that Mrs. McMillan never makes any promises because she says she’s too old to remember what she’s promised! Well, I think I am able to keep younger by travelling in such young company. All of my problems are ‘little ones’.

We’re in a dry season now during the full moon and it is easier to keep the place clean. I must, however, get all of my housecleaning done before leaving for Kisangani as there will be a family living here while we are gone. They are from Central Africa Republic and will stay here with their children rather than bring them home. The flowers are still beautiful here, but not so abundant as during the rainy time. It is warm enough in the sun to take off my sweater, but most of the time I keep one on. I have had no chance to get more stockings since yours came, and I am so thankful for your sending them Airmail. If Mother’s package comes today, I will add a P.S. either to her note or to yours.   Much love, Ione

Sometimes Ione’s notes home are very brief:

Dear Boys,

I want you to know that I love you.

Don’t give up doing your best. It pays off.

Elijah needn’t have been discouraged, nor have run so far (Paul Brown said it was about 190 miles) but it was good that he listened to the still small voice!     Hastily, Mother

With a little more time, Ione writes to her mother on 8th November 1968. Whilst she has had letters from David and John, Stephen has not corresponded which causes her concern. The theme of ‘bees’ re-emerges and Ione writes :

Some small boys who made trouble at games Saturday night and again at Sunday School, got right it yesterday afternoon, and by night they were voluntarily kneeling at their beds, and making up and today are apologizing to their teacher and Sunday School teachers. I have been busy putting honey drops up over the door of their hall, as things are pretty sweet around here now! Last night Tim climbed up and put a lot of cute little bees among the honeycombs so that our living room really looks like a hive now! The big bees still are making their beeline to the two halls. I think this theme may be good for all year if the paper for the honey drops holds out! “Hast thou found honey?” Prov. 25:16 to fit in with the general theme for the whole school, “To Do Thy Will.”

Tim said nearly all the kids gave testimonies last night around the camp-fire. We are pretty sure that all of these children here are Christians. Next Friday, on my day off, Tim and I are going to the nearby native shops and see if there is anything there that would do for Christmas presents.  With love, Ione

The 21st November, sees Ione writing to Ken and Paul:

Monday was a holiday and the special things for the kid’s kind of wore me out and I ate too heavily at their picnic, so was in bed on Tuesday. (Ione writes to her mother:

I ate roasted peanuts, potato chips (home-made), hamburgers, devilled eggs and chocolate cake. And I was sick all night with vomiting. I couldn’t get up in the morning so Tim carried on with devotions, changing sheets, and setting tables. He did real well and I had a good rest all day.)

Then yesterday was feeling OK and went about regular duties. Today still a bit shaky, but I will be careful what I eat.

Your November 3 letters arrived while we were at the skits on Saturday night the 16th and Tim and I enjoyed reading them when we came home. Glad Ken, you have not forgotten the little Kingwana chorus. I will try to get you a song book and you might be able to teach more. I haven’t got one myself yet, but have the Lingala one for when we go to Kisangani.“Fishers of Men” is in it, you remember, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men, Fishers of Men, etc.”

Tika yonso; yaka na ngai, yaka na ngai, yaka na ngai.

Tika yonso; yaka na ngai, Nakopambola.

Nakopambola, nakopambola.

Tika yonso; yaka na ngai, Nakopambola

Literal translation: Leave everything; come with me. I will look after you.

I have been looking for a copy of Congo Mission News where I saw an article on Kimbanguism, Ken, but it must be the one I left at home! If Grandma has kept it, it is in my magazine rack in the sunroom. I’m not much help. Tim and the boys and I will get a workout with French when we make our trip soon to Kisangani and while there, talking in shops, etc. I have not forgotten the French blessing to ask at the table. It is good to memorize French scriptures. I told Miss Stewart about your Navigator’s Course, and she wants to start it here. Can you give us the address? It looks like either Browns or Olvers would be a good replacement for Crossmans, Paul, when they go on furlough. There is another couple coming soon, too, named the Clements. I surely miss my big boys and yet I am sure that we did the right thing by coming. Are you going to have enough money for next term, Paul? Will you ask your prayer group to pray for Doctor Moore’s LandRover being held in Kinshasa by Otraco as there is some financial trouble between Otraco (a large international logistics and transport company) and the government. Many medical supplies are held there, too, which Doctor needs. And Doctor himself is ill with hepatitis. Pray for his wife and family, that somehow, we might be able to get some little gifts over the border in time to carry them to them for Christmas. The Moore’s have hoped for a trip themselves but their car did not arrive. I am hoping to take meat and vegetables in our truck; much, much love to you both. Hastily,  Mother   XX

As Thanksgiving approaches, Ione writes to her mother:

A letter received yesterday from McAllisters relieves us of the responsibility of bringing their children back from Kisangani to Rethy (after their planned trip to Bongondza). So now we will stay only from December 9 to 20, then get back here the 23rd to cut an evergreen tree and get our decorations up. Tim & I will put a few things up before the boys come. No packages as yet. Other missionaries also are expecting packages which were sent in June. Pray for our trip. I told the boys at RVA to try to buy me some hose in Nairobi. Also, some shoes for Tim. I love you very much. Tanks for looking after Ken & Paul.  Ione

Ione (in blue suit) with one of her Christmas Choirs at Rethy Academy – 1968

Two days later, 25th November 1968, Ione, again to her mother writes:

Tim put up some blinking Christmas lights in our living room window and they look pretty. The Academy will celebrate Christmas next Sunday at a Candle Light Service. I am working hard with the Junior Choir (grades 1-6) as we have four numbers. They will wear red capes and white starched bows. Tomorrow my boy will wash the ties & I will starch them and then he will press them and also the capes & the girls dark skirts. Tim will sing in the Sr. Choir a lovely high solo part on “Go Tell it on the Mountain”. I will be glad of a holiday as this term has been harder than last (so many new ones who were not used to being away from their homes). Next term they will know what to expect. I hope they feel they are loved here.

A slight earthquake here last week; the second since I came. A couple of bricks fell down in Mr. Miller’s chimney. Love, Ione & Mother

On the 8th December, Ione writes to Leone, Ken and Paul as they are altogether for Christmas:

We are writing as a group this Sunday, and it is nice to know that on December 20 you will probably all three be together, too. We are all well and having a quiet Sunday as the rain prevents us from going to see Lake Albert as we were planning. We rested until 3 P.M. and I got up to make us a drink and then the rain became very heavy and we had some mopping up to do as it came under one door and when we put a board in front of it, the stream went around the house and was about to go in another door. It was exciting for a while, but now it is dry inside and we have a fire in the fireplace; David and Tim are playing their instruments together; John was using his guitar a while ago. Stevie went to take some strawberry jam I made yesterday to Paul and Ellen Brown, who will give it to Doctor Brown at Banda when they go tomorrow. That is the doctor who delivered John. I wrapped it up pretty in Christmas paper and put my fancy stickers on that I ordered when I was home that say, “from the kitchen of”.

Ione reports that the planned trip to Kisangani does not take place because of heavy rains. Bob and Alma McAllister tell her the roads are too bad and besides, Ione does not have an escort to go with her. Bob tells her:

“some of the roads are so muddy that you can only see the tops of big trucks that have gotten stuck! One place they stopped the mud prevented them from opening the door on one side, and when the Congolese lifted them out on the other side, Alma said their feet sank almost up to their knees.”

Far from being disappointed, Ione writes:

I am glad we don’t have to go, as I was so tired from last term. Now we can get a good rest, and I do hope we might even get some needed clothes for the boys; they seem to be out of so many things, including shoes. I am praying that we might be able to go to Kampala for a shopping trip.

I know you have been praying much about my looking after small children being too hard on me; and this term has been hard, but I don’t think it will be quite so hard the next two terms because they will know more what to do. Mr. Miller has approached me on the subject of whether I would like to look after the Senior Dorm next September. There would be just 6 girls and 6 boys in grades 7 to 9. I told him I would like that. So you can thank the Lord that the strain will not be quite so heavy physically if I take the big children.

I feel a little more rested today and ready to cope with things. And the boys don’t look quite so tired; just now they are playing ball games with all the kids on the station big and small, which includes the two lovely daughters of Mrs. DeYoung, the third widow here on the staff. Joselyn and Judy are in their early teens and very well-behaved girls, not at all like you find at home these days. A while ago I invited all here to drink lemonade and eat banana bread and butter. The girls immediately began to squeeze fruit and butter the bread. I guess there were ten in all here.

The boys are learning to cut their own hair; they spent most of last evening. They are willing to wear it still off their foreheads and cut properly in back and sides. But many even at RVA are quite long-haired.

We played the tape which came with your letters on Mr. Crossman’s recorder and enjoyed the greetings from Ken and Paul and the music from the Junior Church.  -Ione

By the 15th December, Ione and her youngest four sons are back at Rethy:

We had a good trip to Bunia on Wed. and came back Thurs. I was able to find some nice black slacks material and if made up properly (by a tailor of the Morris’s) will do for Choir pants for the RVA boys. I also bought a bolt of black drill which is good quality and this same tailor will make two pairs each of jeans. There are no zippers in Bunia, but if we get across the border, we will buy some and I can put them in. I heard we can get Jockey underpants in Arua. But the best socks are obtainable in Nairobi, so will try to get a few pairs each of the poorer quality for now and let the boys buy more when they get a trip to Nairobi, while at Rift Valley Academy.

The real heavy rains seem to have abated and there are more sunny days and not so chilly. We found a tree across the road when we went to Bunia, but with the machete were able to cut it and then drag with a rope until we could drive around it. The siding was soft and 4 or 5 Congolese helped to keep the car from sliding against trees, as David drove it. We took the cook with us who is mature and wise and good, humorous company, too.

We decided to rest from 1 to 3pm, so now David is writing one letter while I am typing. We had 10 for dinner as we entertained the Ryckman family from the Central African Republic. We had roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots in butter, bananas lengthwise with crushed peanuts on with a dab of cooked salad dressing, tossed lettuce salad with French dressing (I only had cucumbers and sweet red peppers with the lettuce!), lemon meringue pie and fresh strawberry pie (crust was tough as it was mine!) and tea. We will not have the help of houseboys tonight but will just have toasted cheese sandwiches (also bread and cold meat for more if they wish); carrot sticks and cocoa and tea; chocolate cake with coconut frosting. That’s the most cooking I’ve done for a long time. I also experimented in a recipe called Coconut Mounds and they do taste good, made with bittersweet chocolate, coconut, sweetened condensed milk and crushed digestive biscuits, sort of like a brownie and chocolate bar all in one.

Last night we were able to use the French fryer as very few people had their lights on, so had French-fried potatoes; we all had a part in it, but I guess David did most of the frying. We went to the native service this morning and will attend the missionary service at 7pm tonight. We are looking forward next Saturday to an overnight visit with Schuits at Linga; their 4 boys and our 4 will climb a mountain and they say there is a BIG surprise, too. We have been wondering what it is. I am hoping that it is a radio communication with you-all but I hardly dare to hope. Yesterday Crossmans tried to talk to their folk in N.Y. but were unsuccessful.

I am feeling much better since resting more, and the boys look more relaxed now. John is still very thin, and had a little fever yesterday, but keeps going. Our weights are as follows: Ione – 127 lbs. (I can soon put some of that back now that I am eating at home), David – 160 lbs.; John – 130 lbs.; Stephen 135 lbs.; and Tim – 87-1/2 lbs.  I want you to know that I love you very much.   MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Mother and Ione

Christmas day and Ione finds time to write:

Dearest Mother,

My hands are still damp from the dishes from our supper. No houseboy tonight! The boys are playing a new game which is like Clue, at another missionary home. They were playing volley ball this afternoon, and I was glad to see John just as quick as the rest, though he seems very thin. He is very tall so I guess it makes him look thinner. They all eat well and have been enjoying the special snacks and treats here. Lots of milk for cocoa, etc. We had our Christmas dinner alone and it was nice, after having 18 for lunch yesterday and then we ate with the nearly 50 on Rethy station at the dorm dining room last evening.

The big event of our Christmas holiday was talking with Marcellyn for about one-half hour over shortwave, pre-arranged by Bob Myers and Eddy Schuit. Marcellyn knew about it, but it was a surprise to me and the boys. We were invited to Linga station for Saturday, December 21, and we tried to refuse as we had a house guest. But Eddy S. was quite insistent and also that we stay overnight, and he arranged for our guest to be there, too, a UFM girl named Pat Olds from England from Olive Love’s station. We drove the ¾ hr. ride to Linga from Rethy Saturday morning and the boys climbed Mount Adja with the 4 Schuit boys, while I went with Lamec, a Linga chauffeur, in our truck, to Blukwa to pick up Pat. While I was there Olive Love arrived from America. She looked good, and said she had heard from you. Pat and Lamec and I got back to Linga around 3 P.M. and we had a nice supper with the entire Linga staff (18 people), and played Rook and other games for a while. I saw Eddy slip out and then his wife, and about 9:30 Mrs. Schuit came and called me and told the boys to come, too, to the Schuit’s office, where we saw Eddy was talking over his short wave. The first voice I heard was Marcellyn’s and she sounded so natural, and she was excited. My first thought was that it was you and the other boys, but Marcellyn’s voice sounds different from yours. We talked back and forth about anything that came into our heads. We also talked to each of the children, and each of our boys talked. It was really wonderful. They had a time getting Walter to talk until they mentioned what they would have for their Christmas dinner, and then he warmed up. They thought ham would be a real treat and we thought turkey would be nice, for we never did succeed in getting a turkey to take to Kisangani. And we never went anyway. Bob Myers was quite happy about his communication and asked Eddy to get in touch with him once a month, the last Saturday in the month. So we may have some more chances. Eddy has the name and address of Cogswell from Calvary Baptist Church and may try to get you in touch sometime. I hope so. If you ever have a chance to talk to that Mr. Cogswell tell him to try some night at 9:30 the last Saturday in the month for 9Q5RF in Congo. He might be hear Eddy as Bob Myers did and that is how Bob arranged it. He might even hear Eddy and Bob talking.

Tell the Draft Board Questioner that David did send in that paper form RVA. David may not have mentioned it in his letter to you as he sealed it today before I read it. But David did get your letter about it, and said he mailed it from RVA.

The road between here and Kisangani is officially closed for repairs for 2 weeks, so we might not have gotten back here for Christmas has we gone.

McAllisters got stuck 4 times between Boyulu and Kisangani and were the only ones to get thru at that time; some soldiers were 3 days sitting on the road. Now the heavy rains are finished so roads are better. We are going to Bogoro tomorrow for two nights and the boys will go swimming. We’ll also stop at Bunia for shopping. The boys brought me coffee in bed this morning. to keep me in bed longer and then fixed up a few things in the living room. When they let me come out I found things they had made; a beautiful animal table lamp which David had bought in Kenya he had made a small table to hold it; John had made two pin-up lamps out of slabs of pine like the deer picture he brought from home, and lampshades to match David’s; Kenya animals on the shades. Stephen (with Mr. Crossman’s help) had made me a clothes’ dryer to put in front of the fireplace on rainy days, circular with fold-down sides like an umbrella; real cute. And Tim made a pair of beautiful California pine (like our Christmas tree) salt and pepper shakers that really hold salt and pour. With S and P burnt in the sides. Your December 12 letter arrived the 24th, so was very welcome for Christmas.   –Much love, Ione

Leone gets another letter written on the same day:

I told David I would feel a little better about his going to U.S. next year if I knew he was near his brothers the first year anyway. He is interested in going to LeTourneau but has not made out application. I asked him if he would consider a year at Moody first, so that he could be with Paul and near you and Ken, and he said it would be OK. He has written in this mail to the Admissions Office of Moody for application papers. He may be too late, but he can try to get in yet, if you think it would be OK. Would Paul be able to room with him and try to get him a job? David is trying hard to get a job at RVA, and may get to run a dishwasher if it gets installed. David has already all the credits he needs to graduate except for one, so has some extra time for work, but there are very few opportunities at RVA for work. He seems to be getting along OK at school, though I have not received their report cards yet. I did get a notice that Stephen was getting failing grades in Biology. We have been praying about it, and John and David have promised to help Stephen in this subject. Stephen has a nice spirit and I don’t want him to get discouraged. I have concentrated more on John’s attitude this holiday, as I think he was babied a little during his sickness and now is somewhat independent, so I have had to corner him and tell him he is slipping, and needs to watch out. He has taken it OK, in fact, all of them still will listen to their mother. I don’t know what I’d do if they didn’t.

No time to finish. We’re leaving for Bogoro and mail going out.   Love, Ione

Two days later, Ione writes to her sister Lucille from Bogoro:

Your Christmas card was forwarded and reached me the 18th at Rethy. Thanks for it. No packages have come thru as yet, except the box of books Ken & Paul sent to the boys. I am going to have the boys try to get me some stockings when they go back to school, but we won’t get them back here until they come in April, as things sent do not do so well as things carried by folk. I sent some new pants to John last term and he never received them; perhaps they will be there when he returns to school in January. I think it is wise to pray much over every parcel sent, for the Lord can get them here safely if He desires us to have them. We are trying to get a “carnet de passage” from Belgium which will give us permission to take our truck into Uganda and Kenya. Perhaps by the April holiday we can do some shopping in Kampala (300 miles away); then in July we hope to go all the way to Kijabe to see David graduate. The truck still looks nice and David takes good care of it. He and John take turns driving.

I want to hear all about Ruth & Gary and their plans and activities. How is Esther’s new baby? What is the news of Doris & her baby? I was so thrilled to talk to Marcellyn December 21. It was a nice Christmas present. They all seemed so well and happy.

At the swimming pool!

This is to wish you a Happy New Year. I don’t think when I sent the East African greeting card that I did remember your birthday. I thought of you on the day but had no time to write. I do hope that you had a nice birthday and that you didn’t eat too much cake for your own good! On the other hand, I don’t want you to get too thin, as being both tall and skinny would detract from your queenlike properties! I still am hoping for a real good picture of you. 3-1/4” x 4-1/4” for my triple frame.   Much love, Ione

1968 draws to a close, it has been eventful for Ione and the family and probably harder than she would care to admit. It is perhaps more what Ione does not say in her letters. She is at great pains to describe the food, the living conditions, the gardens and reassure the family that all is well but she misses the companionship of her sons. Ione tries to control, guide, support the boys from a distance but feels John is breaking free from her parental ties and that worries her.

Being a ‘dorm’ parent at Rethy is so very different from running the Children’s home at Kilometre 8. In the past, the lack of contact with the Congolese concerned her, she did not feel she was doing ‘missionary’ work; yet this does not get mentioned – her focus is on the children in her care – her little bees.

Download Chapter 27 - Heading Back to Congo