Thursday, October 24, 2013

September 28, 1926 - Blukwa

In which Ralph & Coralee describe their travels around the AIM mission field. 


September 28, 1926

Dear Home-Folks,

A few days ago after spending about a week’s vacation at Kacengu (1) we returned to Rethi (2) to find among other things a nice long letter and a big fat package from you. And now while we say our heartiest “Danke shönn (3)” we wish you could know something of the thrill of hearing from home like this. 

Everything you sent was most timely and much appreciated; but you asked especially about the candy.  It was certainly great to see a real box of “BusyBee”(4). However our suspicions were aroused before we could undo the box and more or less confirmed after! The contents were pretty well united into one sweet mass, because of the pasteboard box, but not beyond rescue. Far from it!  We carefully separated the sheep from the goats, the latter being reminiscent of Anheuser-Busch. The sheep brought smiles of contentment to a number of faces.  But the others performed their mission well too, providing joy for the “tumbus” (5) of a number of the house boys. The house-boys, by the way, are always very “nosy” when packages from home are opened up. This is largely due to curiosity concerning things from the white man’s country, but is mixed, we fear, with more or less selfish motives at times.

I mentioned above about having been to Kacengu on vacation. Coralee especially had been very busy with the new babies and surgical cases among the missionaries in our house ever since coming to Rethi, and so we were urged by the powers that be as well as by others to take advantage of the present lull to get away from the station for a while. We were mighty glad to do so and decided first to go to Kacengu to visit the Kiesslings.  The trip itself from Rethi to Kacengu (6) is through very beautiful hill country, but we were disappointed in not being able to go together, as I was called to Kacengu a few days ahead of time to see someone who had gotten sick. Coralee at the time was entertaining some newlyweds and so could not go along at once but came a few days later. Kacengu, as I believe I wrote before, is very beautifully situated on a high hill above Lake Albert, and the surrounding country is beautiful with its hills and valleys dotted here and there by native villages. One day we all went for a little hike to the top of a nearby hill, higher than Kacengu, which afforded an even better view of the lake including its outlet into the Nile. Just as we were well up on our way a thick fog came from over the lake shutting out our view completely. However we kept climbing anyway and reached the top. For a long time there was nothing to see but fog but just before we were ready to return the fog disappeared and we got a fine view of the country all around. We took a few pictures which we hope may give you a little idea of the country when they are finished.

We stayed at Kacengu a little over a week and then went to Ara, another of our stations, visiting also the “Sanitary Agent” and his sleeping sickness cases. This place is only about four miles from the lake and we could see the breakers and white caps very plainly. Our trip from Ara to Rethi (7) is one we will not forget very soon, chiefly because of the hills we had to climb. At one place the path leads directly to the very summit of a high steep hill, rising at an angle of 45 degrees and in one stretch the path seems to be nearly 60 degrees.  In climbing this hill I had a rope around my waist which was pulled by two natives ahead of – or rather above – me. Coralee was carried up in a carrying chair part of the way, but also walked up much of the way, which was too steep for the men to carry. After climbing a hundred feet or so I would lie down and rest for a long while, then climb a bit and rest etc. The natives had a good many laughs over me because of my much resting and puffing, as they have wonderful endurance themselves. It took us around four hours to reach the top, and then we had another three hours or so over more level ground to get home.

After a few days at home, getting our clothes washed and looking after the medical cases that were waiting, we again started off, this time on Mr. Camp’s motorcycle and sidecar which he was kind enough to loan us.  

We are now on our first stop of this trip, Blukwa, where we are visiting the Whitermores. Soon we expect to go on further to see some other stations to the south and to visit Irumu, the capital of this province. Before we finish we will have seen all but one of the Mission stations in what we call here the “South Country” i.e. the southern half of the AIM (8) Congo field.

We have heard rumors to the effect that Dr. Trout was scheduled to return to the field, leaving New York on Sept. 6. If so, that means that we will at last be moving on to what we expect will be our permanent station. Where that will be we do not know as yet. It will be decided when the Field Council meets. We also learned recently that our motorcycle has at last left Kinshasa and is well on the way to Aba. The sidecar has already arrived at Aba. The charges for duty and transport have been surprisingly low thus far. Of course it remains to be seen whether or not the motorcycle will be in running order, but we have fair hopes anyway.

So much for now, more another day.

With lots of love,
Coralee and Ralph

  1. Now spelled Kasengu. 
  2. Interesting that Rethi is spelled with an “i” here. Later on, when I went to school there, it was called Rethy.
  3. German for “Thank You”. Ralph grew up in a German-speaking home. 
  4. A candy company in St. Louis.
  5. Tummies.
  6. About 33 kilometers.
  7. According to Google maps, the trip is about 250 kilometers, and takes 5 hours by car.  It appears that they did the trip with porters, and the walking estimate on the map is 50 hours!
  8. You will note that the Kleinschmidts are now with the Africa Inland Mission.  The change came earlier in 1926.

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