In which Ralph and Coralee write to their supporters about the state of the mission field after being on furlough for 14 months.
We praise the Lord for a good and restful journey back to the field. All along the way the Lord wonderfully undertook. We thank you for your prayers. The ocean trip was the calmest we have ever had. Our ship accommodations were poor, but we had very good fellowship on board as there were more than a hundred missionaries going to all parts of Africa and the Middle East. In Egypt we had a delay of two weeks while trying to make arrangements to go on to the interior. The journey inland across the desert by train and then on the Nile steamers was tedious as there were a lot of changes. But we rested truly as we journeyed for the Lord's presence and help were very real to us daily.
We arrived at Aba December 7th. Miss White our nurse had the lights on in our living room, and she and the natives gave us a very warm welcome. We had left our house furnished and she had used it as a guest house while we were away. She has kept it just as we left it. When we awakened next morning in our own beds amid familiar surroundings it seemed so natural that it was like a dream that we had gone to America. Miss White and the native nurses have done a fine job in the hospital. It has been precious to see how the Lord has blessed during this year away. We can see that many of the natives have grown spiritually.
The Christmas season is always a busy time when all the Christians from the district gather here for special meetings. It was a blessed time spiritually, and a joy to greet many old friends. There were more than fifteen hundred gathered at the service on Sunday and again on Christmas day. Eighteen were baptized.
We have been asked to take charge of the station and district work here temporarily, along with the medical work, until more workers are available. This seems to us a tremendous task. However the natives have learned to assume more responsibility during the shortage of workers, and they will be able to carry on some of the departments without a great deal of supervision. Miss Lutz has charge of the Girls' Home, and a native is in charge of the Boys' Schools of 400. Besides there is the Women's School; the Book Room and Printing Press which serve our whole field and neighboring Missions; the Carpenter Shop and the general workmen, and care of the station, the care of the Native Church, and the 70 Rural Chapels and Schools manned by native evangelists; and, with the able help of Miss White, the Dispensary and Hospital. Then, when able we are to visit seven other stations to supervise their dispensaries. These are scattered in three directions at distances up to 50, 160, and 500 miles.
The task is far beyond us, and we are at the end of ourselves before we begin. And so we begin with Him. Pray that during the shortage of workers nothing will hinder His blessing here in the work. The opportunity is very great, but the time may be short. Pray for the salvation of souls, for the strengthening of believers, and for the much needed missionaries and native leaders. A recent War Bond poster entitled "He's in it up to his neck. Are you in it with him?" reminds us of our present position. The soldier is up to his chin in water, his hands holding his rifle up over his head. Our hands are up in prayer for the the Lord's help. Won't you "come in with us" by sustaining prayer that His strength may be ours in the task that lies ahead? We are thankful for you who pray and who have done so much for us during our furlough. You have refreshed us in the bonds of Christ Jesus.
Letters from our girls, Edith and Esther, assure us that they are well and happy in their life at Hampden DuBose Academy at Zellwood, Florida.
With Christian love and greetings,
Ralph and Coralee