Ibambi, Belgian Congo
October 15, 1924
Having been at Ibambi just six months now we feel as if we are beginning to get settled and to get acquainted with the lay of the land. Already we have learned that Bwana’s (Mr. C.T. Studd) calling this place the “Devil’s Den” is no mere empty figure of speech. The old scoundrel is plainly in evidence all around us always and at times I fear within us too. But it’s splendid to be here, for are we not here to do the human part in helping to rescue these people from his power? And that means that there’s plenty to do. It is absolutely impossible to adequately describe to one at a distance the real condition of these people’s hearts even as we see them. What then must they actually be?
The medical work thus far is proving very interesting as well as puzzling. At present all the available space in the hospital and in another building with separate small rooms is filled. Quite a number of these patients are chronic “hangers on”, and some of them are rather trying from a medical point of view, yet praise the Lord, the longer they stay THE MORE CHANCE WE HAVE TO TEACH THEM THE GOOD NEWS.
Each morning after prayers at Mr. Studd’s house, we have the dispensary. This is preceded by song, prayer and a little Gospel message, and in order to receive treatment the patients must be present at this meeting, unless of course, they are very ill. The majority who thus hear the Gospel are people who would otherwise not come in for church services, and who might only rarely be reached in their villages.
Five or six young fellows after having got well in the hospital asked that they be not sent home, but that they be allowed to stay here so as to be able to learn to read. Outside of school hours they do enough work to pay for their food. One of these is Mapuna, whom I believe I mentioned before. He came in from the leper camp to have his arm amputated. As he did not really have leprosy he remained here, and since the operation he has shown marked improvement physically, but better than that his face has a happy glow that testifies to something far greater than mere physical blessing. Do continue to pray for him and others like him that this change may not be merely on the surface but that it may indeed spring from a genuine salvation that brings newness of life.
The afternoons are generally reserved for special things such as little operations and visiting the sick who remain in their own houses, etc. The missionaries at the Ibambi out-station shave been sending in quite a few. Sometimes they seem to have exaggerated ideas of our ability. For instance one day one of them sent in three patients, the first had elephantiasis, the second was deaf and the third blind. Yesterday another blind man was sent in, hopelessly beyond help. Just as I write a woman came in from Adzangwe’s (1) where the Kiesslings are with Miss Roupell (2). The woman has a large tumor on the back which is badly ulcerated. She is very anxious to have it removed and her husband seems even more keen, for “isn't she unable to carry loads on her back as long as the tumor is there?”
A man from Imbai's (3) came in to have a small tumor removed from his head. A few days after he had returned to his village he came back here with four others with various ailments. One old man was carried in sitting on a pole that was suspended on another pole which two men carried on their shoulders. This fellow had nine large abscesses scattered all over his body. When Coralee put him under anesthetic to have all these opened, his wife thought the man had died, and she seemed quite pleased when he saw him resurrected. Another case which the natives thought had been brought back to life was a woman in the hospital who came so close to death that while her heart was still beating she was unconscious and was just taking an occasional gasp of air a few times a minute. There seemed to be some obstruction to breathing and when this was removed she very quickly recovered.
The Whitermores (4) are getting ready to leave for Niangara, where they will be stationed with the Pontiers. The baby is doing very nicely and Mrs. Whitermore is quite well too. The Kiesslings (5) are very happy at Adzangwe’s, where they are having good times with the natives. Miss Williams is on the Ibambi station again and is working among the women. She too seems quite well. Hipp is at Bomili with Mr. Tatt. We are still well too and enjoying the work.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
WORK AMONGST THE LEPERS
Since being in Ybambi (6) we have visited the two Leper camps….(illegible) Mission Doctor says that a great many of those segregated there do not have leprosy at all but a disease known as Yaws which can be cured with an injection or two of Neosalvarsan. The Doctor has used all that he has and has had wonderful success with it, the scabs dropping off and the ulcers clearing up in ten days or two weeks. The difficulty is that it is almost impossible to get it here and he could use so much. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw some patients who had received the Neosalvarsan. They were perfectly well as far as one could see. Before they were very repulsive looking sights.
The Leper Camps consist of two villages built in the midst of the forest. When a man is suspected of having leprosy he is beaten and beaten by his fellow villagers until he goes to one of the camps. There is no medical care at the camps – they are merely designed as a means of isolation but our Mission Doctor goes to them as often as he can and has cured several of what was thought to be leprosy but was in fact Yaws.
When a man goes to one of these camps he takes his children and wives. The result is that they are placed in a very good position to contract Leprosy. It is pitiful to see little children running around without leprosy amongst those who have it. We visit these places once a week or more and give them the cure of the leprosy of their souls, which after all, is more dangerous than that of their bodies since the bodily leprosy only carries with it this life but the leprosy of their souls has an eternal consideration. Pray for these people.
- I cannot identify this mission station. There is a reference in Norman Grubb’s book about C.T. Studd, “C.T.Studd, Cricketer and Pioneer” but the location is only identified as being 200-300 miles away from Ibambi.
- This missionary is mentioned in Norman Grubb’s book, ibid.
- I cannot identify this mission station at this time.
- Fred and Mildred Whitermore were part of the Heart of Africa group that set out with the Kleinschmidts in December 1923.
- Mr. and Mrs. Kiessling were part of the same group.