Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kosti, Sudan - On board the Nile Steamer - November 25, 1945

In which Coralee tells her daughters about Cairo, and the Nile Steamer. 

Kosti, Sudan
On board the Nile Steamer [1]
Sunday, November 25, 1945

Nile Steamer, about 1936
Photo from the Library of Congress. Photographer G. Eric Matson. 

Dear girls,
There are so many reasons why I am longing for you and wishing you were here ready to travel up the Nile with us.  We have very lovely cabins, and everything we need for comfort.  We know the river trip will be interesting, and we wish you could enjoy it with us. 

The Lord has wonderfully blessed as we have journeyed. We have made connections at each change and if no unforeseen delays come we ought to be in Aba by December 7th

Those traveling with us are Misses Short, Cribbs, Greene and Koscher.  Mr. & Mrs. Giddings flew to Kenya. The Feltons stayed in Cairo expecting to leave in a day or two by air for Tanganyika. The train trip was tiring but interesting too. Dad will tell you details. It was so nice yesterday to reach Khartoum.  The SIM folks met us at the train and helped in the many details regarding our luggage. 

Then we went to a hotel for lunch. While there a Greek we knew, Mr. Crassas (Parilo who took your doll, her uncle) came in [2]. He was so glad to see us and gave us lots of news about Greek folks we know. Then he insisted on paying for all our party’s lunch. We were eight. After lunch we went to the SIM home and had a lovely visit there until train time.  Our train was due to leave at 5:30. We were so surprised to find Mr. & Mrs. Sharland  [3] and Mr. Cook from Yie (the telescope man) [4] traveling on to their stations. They are here on the steamer with us. It is so nice to have fellowship together once again. They left England November 10. They have had a speedy trip.  Mr. Allison, the man we stayed with at Juba, went on to Juba by air yesterday.

Now let’s go back to Cairo for a bit.  We dislike Egypt and cannot understand why the Israelites wanted to return there.

One day we went to the Zoo just to see what they might have. It wasn't much. A very good variety of birds. The lions and leopards were very nice and sleek. I thought of you when I looked at one who had a very “gentle” soft look, like a big pussy, as he lay resting. One mother lion had three cubs about the size of a small native dog. They were so cute.  The only other thing worth mentioning were the HUGE HUGE turtles there. They were enormous, almost big enough to ride. [5]

The Stoughs and Klines expected to sail on the Gripsholm from Alexandria on November 22nd. We were so happy for this definite answer to prayer. Mrs. Stough was very well and Philip was improving. They ought to get home about the days before Christmas. 

Our stay in Cairo cost a lot of money for everything is so expensive in Egypt. Our hotel bill for two weeks was $150.  Daddy had such a busy time there seeing to all arrangements.  [Illegible] and endless details enter into traveling these days. We didn't buy a single thing but post cards and stamps. Oh yes Daddy bought me a box of candy and he got a billfold, a better size for Congo money, which is bigger than American bills.

Yesterday as we were coming along we saw herds of goats and sheep. The goats had long black hair, the sheep long tails, they almost touched the ground. There were lots of camels too. We didn't see a tiny baby one. The people ride donkeys a lot too.  They remind me of pictures of Mary and Joseph escaping into Egypt.

There were flocks of those white cow birds. And what do you think we saw – two big storks flying toward the train. We teased Daddy saying they knew he was coming. They were like them we have seen at Aba. [6]

The Nile here is very wide and blue. It is pleasant to see the green on each bank after the bare black desert. The dust, even with the windows closed, was awful dusty and hot.

We can hardly wait to get to Aba and receive mail.  It seems so, so long since we heard from you. We were especially thinking of you on November 21, just a year ago we arrived in USA. Then on Thanksgiving Day we were, [illegible] last Thanksgiving and remembering all that the Lord has done for us during this year. He has wonderfully blessed and supplied all our needs and guided us each one. We hope it has been a blessed thanksgiving for you both and that you have been conscious of our prayers for you. 

Remember that there are those praying for you all around the world. When I read in the morning at six AM and pray for you I often think it would be 11 PM with you. [7] Perhaps you’re weary and getting ready for bed.  Then at night when I go to bed I think of you again and try to think what special needs may be yours. So all thru the days you are constantly remembered. So many folks ask about you. It makes me very proud to have two daughters like you who love the Lord and are seeking to live for Him.

On the Gripsholm there was a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Redhead, SIM missionaries [8] who were graduates of Taylor University. They told us lots about the school (Marjorie Trout was there for a while when she was going to study medicine.) It sounded so interesting and since we thought it might be a possibility for you girls we have asked him to write to his friend who is the Dean to send literature to you girls and to us. When you receive it, carefully look it over and let us all pray about it. This might be a college possibility for you after you leave Du Bose. [9]

Now my paper is finished and so I will close here with lots of love to you.
Your Mother

1.  She makes it sound like there was only one, but it appears there were several that operated along the Nile from various ports.  Here is a wonderful link that gives a narrative of the journey from around the time that Ralph and Coralee were making this trip.  Great old photographs and a map with Aba on it! 
2.  It is very unclear who this person is, and I'm not sure I've transcribed the name correctly. Mom does not remember the name.  She does remember that when she and Edith left Congo they gave some of their dolls to various local children, and Parilo might have been one of them.  
3.  Very likely this was Leonard Sharland.  I'm confused about the "Mrs." since Wikipedia doesn't list him as being married until 1951.  UPDATE! Thanks to Roger, the son of Leonard Sharland (see comment below), I now know that the Sharlands referred to are Charles and Freda Sharland, who were with CMS in Loka, Sudan. 
4.  Mom doesn't remember who this person might be, or the reference to the telescope. 
5. The Giza Zoo is still operating, and I wonder if these African Spurred Tortoises  pictured are the ones that Coralee wrote about. It's possible!  (Here is the Wikipedia link if you want to know even more! They say that the oldest in captivity in the Giza Zoo, and is 54 years old, although I don't know when the entry was written.)
6. This is a reference to the obstetrical practice which Ralph was obliged to do. Mom remembers that he said that it was his least favorite specialty in medicine, and yet the one he practiced a great deal. Many of the missionary children were born at Aba.  The storks were the White Stork, which migrate through Africa.   
7.  The time change would not be this great, so I'm not sure what Coralee was thinking here.  The difference between Aba and Florida, where the girls were, would have been perhaps 8 hours.
8.  I believe this could have been Paris and Marjorie Reidhead, who were traveling to Sudan-Ethiopia border to do a survey of tribal languages.  See this link and this one
9.  Edie and Esther were at Hampton Du Bose Academy to complete their high school education.  Mom remembers that for Christmas this year (their first in the US alone), Coralee and Ralph arranged for a $15 extra allowance for each of the girls to get a pearl necklace for Christmas. She said that those pearl necklaces were their only jewelry until sometime in college.  In the end Edith and Esther didn't go to Taylor.  Because they both wanted to be missionaries, and they were short of funds, they decided to take Bible training at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. 


  1. Referring to footnote number 3. I am the son of Leonard Sharland, and also very interested in family missionary history which is how I found my way to this blog. As you note Leonard did not marry until 1951, and it was not him on this boat. The Sharlands mentioned here are Charles and Freda Sharland who were with CMS in Loka, Sudan. Charles was my uncle, brother of Leonard and is also mentioned in the letter under Kosti, Sudan - November 25, 1945. Roger Sharland, Nairobi, Kenya

    1. Thank you Roger, for finding your way here! I will correct the footnote to add this new information. I'm excited that these letters added a little bit more history for you. Amy