Wednesday, December 25, 2013

March 8, 1939 - Aba, Belgian Congo

16 days of surgery, 200 operations and an airplane crash.  February and March of 1939 were full of adventure and excitement!   

Aba, Belgian Congo

March 8, 1939 (completed two weeks later)

Dear folks,

Our last trip to Banda (1) for surgery was over fifteen months ago, when in eighteen working days we operated on 101 people. Soon after we left others began to arrive at that station wanting operations, and when told that we would not return for at least a year and maybe more, most of them said they would just wait anyhow, and so built little huts for themselves near the station and started gardens. Thus easily can they adjust themselves – a simple life!  As the months passed more and more of them arrived until, when they got to be around two hundred Mr. Dix refused to put their names down in the book. That was four or five months ago, and Dix estimates that at least five hundred had come during the fifteen months.

It was hard to find a time to get away for the trip, what with maternity cases, Christmas time, the children’s vacation and other affairs to keep us here. As it turned out we had to squeeze the trip into a comparatively few days this time, as first we had to wait for a meeting of the Field Council of which both Dix and I are members, and then we had to be back in time for Yoane Kusala, the head medical boy who went with us, to be here for a government medical examination which he has to take. That meant rushing to get through with as many patients as possible and rushing to get back; and now that we are back we learn that the exam will not take place for at least three more weeks and we have already been back a week!  We wanted to take three medical boys along this time, one to act as “assistant surgeon” and two to take care of the post-operatives, but with all the supplies we had to take along there wasn't enough room in the car and so we had to leave one behind, much to his disgust. At the “last minute” too we found that we would have to invest in two new tires, and we were fortunate enough to be able to get them within a few days more or less “locally”, i.e. 100 miles.

Well, to make a long story short, this time we found more patients waiting than we could possibly care for in the time at hand. However, things went smoothly and by the Lord’s enabling we were able to operate on 120 patients, about 50 of whom had double or triple operations, this time in 16 working days. This time also there was one death, a very old man who got along well after an operation for double hernia and elephantiasis but about two weeks later developed dysentery, which proved too much for him. A larger proportion of the hernias this time were comparatively early than at previous times, but a few that we turned down were so large that they contained more of the abdominal contents than the abdomen itself.  One woman carried her hernia in a cloth that was slung around her neck and shoulder, somewhat as they would carry a baby, the kind that one book speaks of as “having forfeited its right of domicile.” The largest elephantiasis (scrotal tumor) this time weighed 78 pounds after removal and had hung to within a literal inch from the ground.  An interesting feature about this case was that, in spite of the fact that there is usually considerable hemorrhage in such operations, there was a very marked sudden slowing of the pulse just as the tumor was being removed from the body, due probably to the sudden decrease in the load on the heart. All the cases were done under spinal anesthesia only, a great boon in such work out here. It makes it possible to do more cases during a morning than if one had to wait for the induction of general anesthesia in each case, and eliminates the need for an anesthetist or frees the nurse for her many other duties.

It was interesting to note again that the people came from widely scattered areas and many of them from 200 or 250 miles away. Some had been waiting for as long as fifteen months and over half of them for more than six months. According to Dix, who is stationed at Banda, there is some real spiritual fruit evident as a result of previous visits, and all through his district new openings into villages have been made easy for him and his native evangelists. Some of the area from which the patients have come are as yet unoccupied by any mission, and the only Gospel witness they have had has been that received at Banda, or through those who have been there.

After our time was up there were still left around a hundred people in need of help. About twenty of these were considered inoperable, and of the remainder about seventy said they wanted to go to Aba. That would mean a good three hundred miles to walk and some of these had already come over two hundred miles from the opposite direction. We didn't really expect that many of them would actually start for Aba. Two more weeks have elapsed since this letter was begun, and a few days ago we were surprised to see these people begin to arrive here. Sixty-four have come, besides ten or a dozen friends or relatives who came along to help. They had done the trip in three weeks in spite of physical handicaps, fair sized loads, and little food. How they managed to get food and shelter along the whole way is more than I can say, for in one of the groups there were around forty people, a large number to make their appearance at a village all at once. For a couple of nights we were swamped for sleeping space, beds enough being out of the question; but somehow they all found places to stretch out, on, under, or between beds all over the place. After one day of rest they got busy building little houses of poles and grass, and tonight they are serenely comfortable around their various fires.

Photo taken by Ralph Kleinschmidt in March 1939. 
The further delay in writing has been due in part to extra duties with white patients since returning home. One of these is a missionary from Ibambi here for an operation. Another was an officer of one of the Imperial Airways flying boats which got lost on its way from the Cape to London and had to make a forced landing on a small river forty miles away from us (2). This was quite an exciting event – for Aba. One morning a shout was heard that an airplane was coming, and as everybody ran outside we saw a huge airliner approaching, flying low and slowly, and circling about as if in distress. A few hours later we heard that it had run out of gas and had landed at Faradje. They had finally found the small river there, not much wider than the plane. After “landing” on the water the plane had to turn around two sharp bends in the river at full speed, and then it struck a large rock. However, all the passengers and crew were safely landed before the plane filled with water. The radio officer had struck his head when the plane hit the rock and was dazed for a few minutes, but after that swam about for three hours rescuing mail and other
Reverse side of the photo taken by Ralph Kleinschmidt.
Description written by Esther Kleinschmidt Meyers. 
things from the ship. A little while later, however, he began to act queerly and then became unconscious, and so he was taken here (Aba Mission Hospital). We sat up with him a good part of the night, but his injury proved to be not very serious and after a few days of rest in the hospital he went back to help salvage the plane. One day Coralee and I went with him and had a very interesting time seeing the huge machine. It is one of the very latest models, much like the transpacific “Clippers”, weighing 18 tons empty, and using three tons of gasoline in five hours – enough to last our car two years! One of the passengers, by the way, was a sister of Prime Minister Chamberlain (3).

It is only five more weeks until the girls come home from school!  And that’s another event!  They continue to be happy down there and to do good work in school. The school staff will be short soon, as Mr. and Mrs. Winsor (4) are leaving for furlough. Their home is in Wheaton. Mr. W. is a brother of Mrs. Pierson. He is a very fine fellow and we certainly hope that you will get to meet him while he is in the States. We are expecting the Piersons (5) to arrive almost any day. They left America about three months ago on their return to the field. We have just heard that while driving up through Kenya from the coast their car was stuck in a river when suddenly a very heavy downpour caused the river to rise so fast that within a few minutes the car was nearly covered, and they barely had time to get out, and nearly lost their car and everything in it.

[The letter has no signature, so I don't know if it closed here, or if there was another page that I do not have.]

  1. I have not been able to locate Banda on the map. Mom says it's between Niangara and Asa.  
  2. This photo was taken by my grandfather, Ralph Kleinschmidt, of the Corsair which crashed on the Dungu River on March 15, 1939. My mother remembers it vividly. Here is what she wrote on the back of this photo: "The village that grew up around it for the workmen and their families was named Corsairville. It took months to build a dam and repair the plane. First they failed. More repairs. Second try it took off successfully, all 4 motors in full thunderous throttle."
  3. The story of this event is also told in "Corsairville - the Lost Domain of the Flying Boat" by Graham Coster.
  4. Mr. and Mrs. Winsor (Earl & Ada Rury). Earl was Mom and Edie's math teacher at Rethy. Ada was Earl's 2nd wife. He and his first wife Mary Park Winsor had two children, Faith and Austin.  
  5. Mr. and Mrs Pierson (Floyd & Amy Winsor) were AIM missionaries at Asa at least 50 years. They had one daughter, Betty Lou, who married Paul Teasdale.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

January 26, 1939 - Aba

Written just one day later, this letter covers some of the same ground but since it was written to a branch of the family that had medical training, there are a few new details.  

January 26, 1939

Dear family,

We had hoped to get a letter off to you long ago, but there has been such a rush of things and it has been so terribly hot it just hasn't gotten done. Now Ralph is away and since I still haven’t learned to write on the typewriter I wonder if you’ll be able to read this. Airmail weight is so small and I hope you won’t mind this being crowded together.

[Personal portion redacted.]

Thank you very very much for the lovely presents you sent us. The children were very pleased with their sweaters. Esther chose the angora one and it looked so nice on her. Edith found the blue one just to her liking and it was just the shade that is most becoming to her. Our Congo money fits in Ralph’s wallet just fine. He has it in his pocket on this trip. I am most grateful for the stockings. And so a real big thank you from us all. Our Christmas was a busy, happy time. It is always so grand to have our girls home again. They are such good little pals now.

You will be interested to know that Edith fell while skating and a skate wheel hit her thumb and dislocated it at the first joint. She had a very painful time of it and since it was her right thumb it interfered with her letter writing. They notice the heat so much after the cool climate at Rethi. This is our hot dry season and it has been fierce, worse than St. Louis in August. Week after week it has made us very weary.

We plan to leave the first part of February for another surgical trip in Azandeland. We will go again to Banda, 350 miles away. There are more than 200 operative cases waiting us there. Recently four new cases came there to Mr. Dix (1) and he said there was no chance for them, they might as well go back to their villages. There were so many ahead of them. They said give us a road pass and we will go to the doctor. They arrived here having walked over 450 miles. They are all convalescing now. Poor folks they will have over 300 miles to walk back home again. The medical work has been encouraging. Our cases are coming from far and near and many do not hear the gospel anywhere else.

I have been having special classes with our more advanced medical boys for they will be taking their government exam next month. Three new boys have just come from some of our mission stations for training. We have 12 medical boys.  There are many problems connected with them but on the whole they are a great help in the work.

Recently the head medical boy (Yoane Kusala) went out to an outschool 14 miles away on Sunday and held a service. While there the headman of the village, a baptized Christian, had a hemorrhage from his lungs. Yoane took the sick man on the handle bars of his bike and brought him here. It is a rough gravel hilly road. We wonder how he ever did it. The headman is recuperating nicely. We are praying and longing for electric lights and X-ray. We need it so badly for so many cases.

[Personal portion redacted.]

Ralph took our girls back to school on the 24th. I have missed them so terribly. I stayed behind because there is so much to see to. I have buried myself in work, it seems the only relief. Our girls hate to go but they are very brave about it for it is a sacrifice we must make in the Lord’s work here. He has wonderfully enabled. They are doing good work in school and have the highest averages in the whole school. I enjoyed their music so much while they were home. They were discussing what other instrument they want to play. I think they have about decided on violins (2).

Ralph expected to visit the dispensaries at several of our mission stations on his way back. I know he joins in sending our warmest love and thanks for all your kind help and the many joys you have given us all through the years. We send our best wishes too. 

With love from us all,

  1. Mr. Dix was a pioneer missionary with the Africa Inland Mission.  I've linked to a page in "Gifts from the Poor", and quote here from that book.  "Earl Dix, a self-described farm boy from Butte, Nebraska, was twenty-five when he felt "God's leading" to become a missionary.  In 1929, with his fiancee Helena, his "varmint rifle" and a few other worldly goods, Dix sailed to Africa.  The couple established a mission outpost on a hill in the village of Banda, building first a church, then a school and then a hospital. During more than a half century of services, Dix (who died in 1983) became "Papa Dix" to his flock. He tended not only to their spiritual needs but their physical ones with meat from the big game he hunted.  Learning that the root of the local Rauwolfia plant was the source of a drug used to treat high blood pressure, Dix sent locals into the bush to gather it. Then he sold it to European pharmaceutical companies. With the proceeds, Dix paid for mission projects including students' school. He even sent a few young men away for specialized medical training." Mom says it was the root and the bark that was gathered and dried. 
  2. Edith did continue with her violin studies.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

January 25, 1939 - Aba

In which Coralee discusses how to put on a grass roof, and anticipates the upcoming Field Council for Africa Inland Mission. 

Dr. & Mrs. R.E. Kleinschmidt
Africa Inland Mission
Aba, Belgian Congo, via Egypt

January 25, 1939
Dear folks,

Yesterday Ralph took our girls back to Rethi for their new term of school. It has been terrible; they have left such a gap. I've stayed behind because there is so much to be done.

We are in the midst of repairing and also redoing grass roofs. This hot dry season is a good time as there is seldom any rain. Managing these things along with the daily routine is very hard. At the moment it is entirely up to us. I have been doing a lot of it so that Ralph will be free to see to the medical cases where he is so much needed. We wish we were rich and could afford corrugated iron roofs which are simple and fire proof.

This is what it takes to put on a grass roof. Gather long roofing grass in large bundles. When a large amount (tons & tons) is in hand it has to be tied in small bundles. The natives do all this but there must be lots of supervision for they aren't naturally fond of work. Then they get bark from trees for string. The grass is tied in rows onto the framework of the house top. I've nearly cooked today standing in the boiling sun seeing that they did the tying on properly. For if done poorly the roof will always leak. Missionary work is not just preaching from the platform. There are endless jobs that must be done to make the preaching and teaching possible!

Ralph expects to be back in a few days for he will see serious medical cases at a number of the mission dispensaries. Shortly after his return the Field Council which directs the mission work here in Congo will meet here. The field is divided into districts and each district has a representative on the Field Council.

Conference at Aba, date uncertain but probably in the 1930's.
Ralph is in the top row on the far right.
This will be a busy time for Ralph as he is our district representative. They usually meet from 9am – 12:30pm, 2-6pm, and 7:30 – 12 midnight. They meet day after day until all business in hand is settled. Often there are knotty problems and all is very serious business affecting the lives of missionaries and the whole work as a whole.  There are 17 mission stations here in Congo and 82 missionaries. Our field covers a distance of over a thousand miles.

We hope you are all well and that there is lots of joy tucked into each day for you each and every one. We truly had a good time with our girls and now that there is no music or jolly voices, or no one to come and meet me when I come home I feel like my world has changed. Now would we be willing to make this great sacrifice if it were not for the Lord’s work? 

Sometimes when things are difficult - and they often are - we would like to come home and have our own home and live as you do. But we know this is not God’s will for us and we really are happy in Him. He makes the storm clouds separate and He abundantly meets our needs. Although our spiritual needs are great, for Satan is truly our arch enemy here where he has been superior for so long. Material needs are great but we can truly say that God has supplied our needs. Not always perhaps just as we would like, but we have not lacked any good thing. Praise His Name! Our God is living and a loving Heavenly Father and I know that you have found Him the same.

Forgive a rambling letter, I only meant to say a few lines to come along with Esther’s letter. We love you and pray for you. Write us as often as you can. Last mail came and no letter from home after 2 weeks wait. Ralph was keenly disappointed.

Now goodnight with love,


Saturday, December 21, 2013

African Inland Mission Leaflet 1 - 1917

A recently acquired item from eBay, this little leaflet from the AIM gives an idea of the religious environment in the post World War I period. Estimated date of publication - based on internal references - is about 1917.

Africa Inland Mission - front of leaflet
Africa Inland Mission - page 1 of leaflet

Africa Inland Mission - page 2 of leaflet
Africa Inland Mission - page 3 of leaflet
Africa Inland Mission - page 4 of leaflet
Africa Inland mission - back of leaflet
I have found two references to W.L. DeGroff.  He and his wife visited Moody in Chicago during December 1905 (mentioned on page 248 of  the Institute Tie). It appears he was the president of the Philadelphia Jewish Evangelization Society in Philadelphia in about 1911, as mentioned in the A.M.F. Monthly, Volumes 20-21

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

January 11, 1939 - Aba, Congo Belge

Amy's note:  There is a gap of almost exactly a year between this letter and the previous one.  Certainly letters were written, but none have come into my hands. 

January 11, 1939

Dear St. Louis family,

Best wishes for 1939 even though they will reach you very late. We had hoped to get a letter off last mail, two weeks ago but life was so hectic here just then it didn't get done.

We do want to send our warmest thanks to you for the lovely Christmas box which reached us before that day. We celebrated our Christmas as usual, being awakened at 3:45AM by the natives singing carols at our door. After that we dressed somewhat, and Ralph lit the candles on the tree. The candles were given to us by Mr. Miller at Rethi, as special treat to the children, for we had not had candles in several years as ours were finished. Then we began opening the various parcels that had collected. There were several local ones from various of the missionaries who are close friends. We always save the “home” parcels until last for they are always such fun. Every year you all tuck in such a lot of love and thought into your parcel. We can always read such a lot of thinking and planning in each present. Your choices for the children area always favorites.

As I am writing, Edith and Esther are here on the floor playing the game you sent. Edith has her right hand in a pan of hot water for yesterday she fell while roller skating on the hospital veranda (no white patients at the moment so they take advantage of the long verandas). Ralph thinks she has fractured the end bone of her thumb.

Ralph was pleased indeed with his lovely tie. And a book, that’s the thing that truly hits the spot with him. Both of us have already read the “Citadel”. It was very interesting.

My dress fits exactly. Thank you very much! "Before you call I will answer" (1) was literally true of that dress, and also the bath towels. My dresses are all such queer things. I am so glad to have this new one. Then lately we have had very hard wear on our towels as there have been a lot of white patients. Even some towels more or less new have begun to split and I was just saying we would have to send soon for some more. These will indeed be a help. Our wash boys give the clothes such hard wear. They are rubbed on a washboard and they wring them so hard. Then the sun seems to nearly burn them even though we leave them out a very short time.

The children have already made a lovely village out in the yard several times using the little houses and creating a very pretty effect and such a lot of fun. Thank you heaps for giving us so much love and thought.

[Personal portion redacted.]

Our girls too have continued to do good work. Esther was first this time having the highest total average in the whole school, 93.5. Edith has usually been about one point higher but this time she was one point lower. They are both in grade 4.

On Dec 9th we left here for a medical trip among some of our mission dispensaries. We first went to Todro, where Ralph was able to see and give help to a large number of cases. These dispensaries are all overseen by missionaries with native assistants. We visited Adi, Aru, Aja, Aungba also. Then we went to Blukwa, one of our mission stations near Rethi where it is high and cold. We had a week there and it was grand. Just to do nothing but what we wanted to do. We returned via Rethi and enjoyed the school programme. Then it was fun to bring our girls and Ruth Stam, also Mary Grimshaw home for their holidays. Mary’s parents met us at the Todro turn-off to take her in to her home. Ruth’s parents are here at Aba. We arrived home at 8:30 on the evening of the 23rd after a long tiring trip. (2) We had to stop off at Aungba and sew up a number of long gaping wounds on a native who had been gored by a wild pig (3). Then two flat tires, the last out in the “blue” where our jack and pump both failed to work properly. We finally got natives to pry up the car with poles while Ralph slipped on the wheel. The pump hose was bad but by holding both ends and a third person pumping we finally got it up enough to travel.

Reaching home so near Christmas made things terribly hectic as Christmas here is always a busy time. Special native services and they have a day of games and a feast (meat and "fufu" or mush). They eat all of the cow – head, hoofs and insides. So one beast goes a long way in a crowd.

Then many things had collected while we were away. We have nearly worked ourselves to death in the heat to catch up. And has it been hot! Just sizzling. The children notice it terribly after the high cool climate at Rethi. (6)

We plan D.V. (4) to go again to Azandeland for surgery the first of Feb. There are more than 200 surgical cases waiting for operations (5) there. They have been hearing the "Word" daily during this waiting time and we earnestly seek your prayers for this difficult trip. It is a very hot time but we must go then as a number of white maternity cases hedge us in for some time after Feb, also various other things. Operating under such conditions is indeed very strenuous as the time is always very limited and conditions primitive. The terrible need of those poor people and the marvelous opportunity of reaching souls is the only reason we are willing to go. The Azande tribe have been a very hard tribe to reach with the gospel. They are widely scattered over a huge area. This surgical work has brought patients from long distances and it has pleased the Lord to use it in making known the gospel over a huge section.

Recently several patients arrived here in the hospital from up there. They were tired of waiting and so walked to us. They walked more than 450 miles to get here. Unless some kind traveler gives them a lift back they look forward to a tramp of 350 miles (7) back to their home. Poor folks, they wring your heart in their great need. 

At present we have patients from all directions for which we humbly praise and thank our God. The work of years has given them a confidence in us which we earnestly pray may be the means of reaching many souls ere they are eternally lost.

And now my time has gone. [Personal portion redacted.]

You should be here to see the crowds of locusts that visit us occasionally. During this hot dry season they are flying in enormous swarms. When they settle down for the night they surely do mow the place.

Let us hear from you often. Remember that we love and deeply appreciate all that you have done for us all through the years. More than fifteen years have passed swiftly since we first sailed. God has truly met our every need and we praise Him with full hearts. There are of course many things that we would love to have and have not, but all our real needs have been met. He is the same yesterday today and forever. If it were not for this how could we face the future?

We all join in sending our united love and thanks.

Coralee and all  


  1. Isaiah 65:24.  "It will come also come to pass that before they call, i will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." 
  2. The round trip calculates out to about 819 kilometers. However Google doesn't know about Aja or Aungba, so I had to leave those out of the calculation.
  3. Mom commented that she and Edie always remembered this as a buffalo goring, not a wild pig.   
  4. Deus Vult - Latin for "God wills it". 
  5. These surgical cases were often tumors or elephantiasis cases.  As mentioned in a previous letter, trauma cases often couldn't be reached in time.  
  6. I couldn't find a weather station for Aba, but Wunderground estimates temperatures in the low 90's for December, with humidity readings about 60%. I can't find anything for Rethy but I do remember it (I went to school there too) as being cooler.   
  7. These folks walked 100 miles to the first station (Todro?) and then had to walk back across their own tracks another 350 miles to get to Aba. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

January 13, 1938 - Aba

Aba, CB
January 13, 1938

Dear family in St. Louis,

I want to send a note of special greetings for the New Year and many many thanks to you all for the lovely Christmas parcel. Your gifts were all so nice, and your parcel each year always reveals to us so much thought and love tucked into it in so many ways. It is the later that means so much to us. We do increasingly value your love and prayers.

The days have been madly busy for so long and since this is our worst season we are feeling very weary. We have been racing time for the hospital is full of sick folks and a large dispensary daily, as well as a number of white patients make it seem well-nigh impossible for us to get away to conference day after tomorrow. However today I withdrew from the rush and have gathered together our clothes and have done all sorts of other things just in case we can go and get out of this heat for a week.

[Personal portions redacted.]

This vacation we have had some lovely times together in spite of the rush all around. They (1) have learned to sew on the machine and we have made some doll clothes and they have done a lot on their own. The other day they helped me make a cake which was a great thrill for us all.

There were tears today because the precious kittens were playing and jumped up on the window sill and overturned their toy tea set. They broke almost the entire set, which Ruth Stam had just given them for Christmas.

Such excitement came the other day when Ralph came back from the Poste with a big turkey gobbler in the car. I sent Amati, one of our boys, to bring it and he was hailed as a hero for not being afraid of it. The boys had no end of things to say about this bird. When I told the cook to kill it for us he said “Won’t it fight me? I am afraid of it!” Later he told me its neck was very hard to cut because it had all those bumps on it.

All around us now they are burning large stretches of grassland. The fires look so pretty at night. However the soot from them makes the atmosphere very heavy and depressing and our house very dirty.

It is already late and so I will close here. This is not much of a letter but it comes to you with lots of love from us all.

Coralee and Co.

Esther and Edith with their dolls, about 1936
Excerpt from letter written by Esther (age 8)
Aba, CB
January 13, 1938

Dear family in St. Louis,

The night before last this hill was burnt. I mean just the grass was burnt. It was a very pretty sight. 

Thank you very much for the lovely bubble pipes. They make very pretty bubbles.

Mother said that the cats got up on the window and pushed down our nice dishes. They broke all except five dishes, the meat plate and two cups. Ruth Stam gave them to us for Christmas.

One day we went over to Ruth Stam’s house. While we were there we told a native to take down a sausage from the tree. After he had gotten it down Edith made a face on it and we stuck a stick right through it for its arms. Then we gave it a bath and dressed it. We still have it.

With much love,

  1. Daughters Edith and Esther

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

September 8, 1937 - Aba

In which Ralph writes with proud, fond words about his two daughters, home for vacation from Rethy.

September 8, 1937
Left to right: Unknown, Edith, Miriam Hodgkinson?, Esther, Mary Grimshaw.
Taken about 1936-1937, at Rethy.  Mom remembers that they were allowed
to take their dolls to Sunday School (or sometimes their teddy bears)
and afterwards the girls taught the lesson to the dolls.  From the
collection of Mary Grimshaw Janish. 

Dear family,

Coralee reminds me that it is a long time since I wrote to you. We trust though that you have not been without news all that time.

We are glad to be able to report reasonably good health this time. And we are now enjoying having the girls home with us for vacation. Near the end of last month Coralee and I went for a medical trip to Aru where there were some surgical cases to be done and other patients to be seen.

While there we had a chance to run over to Arua where Miss Souther(1) is temporarily stationed. [Personal portion redacted.] She has just recently returned to the field after a long time at home. Then we went to Rethi in time to attending the closing exercises of the school for white children (“Rethi Academy”).

This was the first time we had been to such an event since E & E had been going to school. They had a very interesting program in which nearly all the children took part. A new feature was the Honor Roll and Edith came off with the highest grade of the whole school. Esther was fourth with two points less than Edith.

The next day we had a real load in the car for we took Mr. Pontier with us and his two boys(2), Ruth Stam(3) and Miriam Hodgkinson(4) – the adults and six kids and all their baggage. However all went well and we reached Aba the same day. Since then we have been having a great time with the girls at home. All during last vacation we had visitors with us which meant a lot less time to spend with E & E, but this time we have been alone so far and have been making the most of it. Not quite alone however, for Mr. and Dr. Maynard(5) of the A.I.M. in Tanganyika(6) were here for a visit and stayed at the hospital having some meals with us.

The children have been keeping quite well and seem to thoroughly enjoy school life. They seem to be developing a bit too fast to suit us though for they are rapidly getting out of the little tot stage. At Rethi they are having piano and organ lessons and it has been fun to hear them practice on the little organ here at home. Their birthdays always come along when they are in school and so we are arranging to have a second birthday for both of them together while they are at home. They have chosen tomorrow as the day. 

Fortunately there are some visiting children on the station and so they should have a good party. They had accumulated a little spending money and we had the fun of taking them to the poste to spend it. I guess all the above sounds as if they were brand new babies and the first one at that. But you know how it is.

There have been unusually many white patients in the hospital lately but today the last one was discharged and so now the place is empty. These have all been non-mission people and that means a certain amount of financial help for the hospital, but just the same we are glad to be alone for a while. The dispensary attendance has been higher than usual this year. August is always a slack month in the native hospital but now it is filling up again. Today we had a very unusual operation for Congo – a cancer of the breast in a native(7).

The next day:
The children party has come and gone, and they had a great time. There were eleven present, a large number for Aba these days. And now we are all tired and it is bed time, and so good-night!

With love,
Ralph and Coralee

  1. Miss Ann Souther (pronounced sow-ther), a close friend of Coralee.  An American AIM missionary.
  2. Mr. Bill (and Marty) Pontier, their sons were Paul and Raymond “Ray”.  Mom remembers them as being full of pranks.  Both eventually became missionaries.  The Pontiers were based at Aru.    
  3. Ruth Stam lived at Aba. 
  4. Miriam Hodgkinson was a child of British missionaries.  Mom doesn't think she became a missionary herself, but was involved in support.  She was about the same age as Edith and Esther.  The Hodgkinsons may have lived at Dungu
  5. Ruby Arnold Maynard, 1912-1998, AIM missionary at Kola Ndoto, Tanzania.  According to the Billy Graham Archives, her work was largely medical, managing a hospital and later running a leprosarium. There are 3 reels of audio tape in the archives.  William J.  “Nangi” Maynard was her husband. The trip from Kola Ndoto to Aba is a long one, estimated on Google Maps at 1,326 kilometers.    
  6. Tanganyika became Tanzania (A short history of the country can be reviewed here).
  7. This cancer was also rare in the Kimpese area, where the Meyers’ were missionaries for several years.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

December 20, 1929 - Aba

In which Coralee raves about the new baby, and describes how she and Ralph acquired Patches the dog. 

December 20, 1929

Dear Family,

[Personal portion redacted.]
Five years have passed since we sailed from New York. It hardly seems possible; it has gone very quickly for us.

These are very hot days here now. We are in the midst of our dry season. Which means little or no rain, high winds all day that dry everything so ugly and brown. The sun gives us extra heat and just about wilts us. Ralph and I notice the sun so here, for it is hotter here at Aba than at Aru or Rethi (1), where we were before. I’ll be so glad when the rains come again and it is cooler.

During the dry season the natives burn the grass on every side. These fires have started and there is fine flakes of burnt grass flying in the air.  One can almost imagine we are in a dirty city by looking at the clothes on the line. These fires make the air very smoky and there isn't any view these days, only a misty smoky haze on the horizon. This burning time is also a hunting time for the blacks. They start the fire over a certain area and the men stand just back of the fire with spears or bows and arrows to shoot any animal that may appear – i.e. rats or anything bigger.

You should see our dog. We've always said we’d never have a dog but here we find ourselves with one and we both confess we like it.  Last month Ralph had to go to Aru to see the medical work there and so I went along. It is 200 miles one way so we stayed over the weekend. On the way back we stopped at the govt. official’s home so I could nurse the baby and found one of his little daughters a bit sick. Ralph gave them some advice and just as we were near to leaving the mother said to the child, “wouldn't you like to give the doctor one of your little dogs”. And she said very promptly – yes Mother and brought her favorite pup. There wasn't anything to do but take it. It is a short-haired dog, black and white, so we have called him Patches. 

It is some dog alright, so cute but so mean. Chews everything. I found him just in time the other day to rescue Edith’s carriage cover. I wouldn't be surprised if he’d chew the baby (2) if he got a chance. Our house boys are crazy about him. All the natives love a dog. They are wealth in their eyes. You have no trouble in exchanging a female dog i.e. pup for a female goat. And goats, especially females, are real wealth for here they buy their wives with goats. So much for the dog, now about the baby.

Allow me to rave a bit. She does seem the sweetest and dearest in all the world to me. She weighs 11lb 14 oz. now and seems so well. So far I have been able to feed her altogether and it surely is a real blessing and so much better for her and less expensive for us. She sleeps thru the night now from 6 to 6. Ralph of course thinks this is quite a worthy accomplishment.

She is outgrowing her basket so I must get busy and fix her a bed. There seems to be such a little bit of time I can hardly get anything done. Seriously I think maybe the day ought to be longer. Maybe I might get thru then.

I know you all are awful busy too and I hate to bother you but I have been wondering if you would do a little shopping for me? [Personal portion redacted.] It’s for the baby. I am enclosing $5.00 that came as a gift and if the things cost more than this with the mailing charges and I’m pretty sure they will, please send it to the Brooklyn office and they will take it from our allowance, which is quite O.K. 

I would like two pair of shoes. Little first step ones. Different or rather progressive sizes and some socks. Several pieces of colored material suitable for little everyday dresses. Also several dress patterns and some transfer patterns so I can touch them up a little, also a good variety of embroidery threads. [Personal portion redacted.] I don’t crave anything elaborate for my girlie but I would love to have her neat and pretty.

Shoes are a real necessity for a child out here for they are apt to contract various diseases going barefooted. So I must plan for her little feet.

It is late so I must go. Thank you so much in advance.  Good night and best wishes for the coming year.

Ah yes – a nice fat parcel is stored away out of sight awaiting the 25th. It left your place some time ago. We will try hard to keep up our resistance until the 25th. It is a real temptation to look alright.

Thank you so much we surely do appreciate your loving thoughts of us.  

With much love,

Coralee and Ralph

  1. Both Aru and Rethy are situated at a higher altitude than Aba. Aba is also located further north and closer to the desert.  
  2. The "baby" is Esther Louise, born August 7th and referred to first here.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

June, 1929 - Aba, Congo Belge

In which Coralee tells the family at home about another new member of the Kleinschmidts!  

Aba, C.B. 
Ralph Kleinschmidt & Edith, about September 1928

June ?, 1929

Dear Family,

There isn't much time tonight for a letter but I did want to get a line off to you by this mail. Your good letter came a long time ago and I hope you’ll forgive us for not answering sooner. We surely do appreciate all the work of getting those things for Edith. It was so good of you all to send them. The parcel came last mail and everything was just lovely. Thanks so much. I do like the material and patterns so much. The little shoes were just fine. [Personal portion redacted.] The shoes are all too large for Edith now but that is far better as she will soon be able to use them. She has a little pair that she is wearing now that a govt. official’s wife gave me. So the shoe problem has worked out lovely.

Coralee Kleinschmidt & Edith, about September 1928

Edith is so well and sturdy but very small. She is nearly ten months old and barely weighs 16 lb.(1) She is very active, crawling everywhere and pulling herself up. Has three teeth with several others apparently near. We do enjoy her so much, she is so jolly and so typically a normal baby. The natives love her and she is so fond of them. She is good friends with any black that comes along.

You will be surprised to know that we are expecting Edith’s little brother to arrive in Sept.  About the 22nd (2). It seems so soon to expect another baby when Edith is so tiny. However we know that the “Lord doeth all things well” so we are glad and know that this is according to His plan. It will be lovely for Edith to have a playmate so near her own age. Especially away out here where there aren't any other white children near her age.

Edith on a leopard skin, about September 1928
When I look in the future I wonder how on earth I’ll ever be able to take care of two children, care for our home, and help in the medical. It surely looks difficult and hard. But my best assurance is to remember that this is the Lord’s work, and we are His servants, and that He will never expect more of us than we can do.

[Personal portion redacted.] I haven’t been a bit well since the little “brother” has been on the way. It is late and I am so tired so I will say goodnight. Again many, many thanks to you for all you have done for us. We surely do appreciate it all very much. [Personal portion redacted.]


  1. Edith grew up to be petite and very small-boned.  
  2. In fact, the "brother" turned out to be a sister, my mother Esther. She was born August 7th, six weeks early.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

March 26, 1928 - Aru, Congo Belge

In which Coralee discusses the pending arrival of a new Kleinschmidt (1) and describes the packing process to move to Aba. 

Aru, C.B.

March 26, 1928

Dear Home Folks,
As before I've intended to write you for some time now and it just hasn't gotten done. It seems like lately most of our letters home have been because of business necessitating them but this one I wanted to write ages ago when I wrote for the things we need for the new member of the Kleinschmidt family that is expected to arrive in Congo. [Personal portion redacted.] We wanted you all to know and wanted to write you also but lately we have been so busy as I say, it seems only business letters have gone.

You will have heard that we are moving to Aba. Nobody will ever know how I hate to leave our lovely home here and start in all new again. Especially now when we are expecting.

Ralph is away now. He has taken our first load to Aba. Poor kid. It is a big day to drive a truck 200 miles. I am keen to know how he got along.

I am still packing the remainder of the boxes. For out here everything must be packed in boxes or bags when one moves. It is sure some job. I just pray that the Lord won’t ever have us move again (2). I hate it so.

Ralph has been very busy working on the truck and motorcycle so he hasn't been able to help me much. Poor kid he has worked so hard. He is looking tired and thinner now. I hope when we go to Aba he will be able to have some of these machine jobs done in the Poste there as there is a big machine shop there in connection with a big commercial company. We will have a lot of their employees as patients so they may be sport enough to return favors as no fees are ever charged for treatment given.

I am more surprised all the time how well Ralph does these mechanical jobs. If I do say it myself he is very clever at them and good at doing neat carpentry work too. I think he must have inherited the mechanical turn for he never had any experience along these lines at home. [Personal portion redacted.]

We have just had a real tropical storm. The rainy season has begun again and so we are having much cooler weather for which we are indeed grateful. It rains nearly every day and sometimes several times in one day.

Now I must go as today has been a very busy day, for I've done the medical and packed every minute that could be spared so I’m good and tired. So far I’m very well though there are some days when things seem to be down to rock bottom and I get tired so quickly – but know this is rather the usual run of things.

Hope you are having much joy in the Lord. 

With lots of love,


  1. Edith was born in August 1928, at Aba. 
  2. Her prayers were answered. The Kleinschmidts served at Aba together until 1964.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

September 4, 1927 - Aru

In which Coralee describes their new home in Aru, and they welcome the long-awaited Indian motorcycle. 

Aru, Congo Belge

September 4, 1927

Dear Home Folks,

[Personal portion redacted.]

Yesterday was a big day with us. We moved into our new house. Our whole household i.e. boys and ourselves, worked hard and the place is pretty well in order today. I wish you could come and see our “swell” little place. I feel just like we had purchased a fine little bungalow at home and had set up housekeeping for the first time. 

We are alone for a change i.e.  no guests, so it makes it seem more like a home for just we two.

You should see my swell chambray curtains.  I sent to Montgomery Wards for it at 10¢ a yard. I got a medium blue and also the stripe to match. Then I sewed a band of the bias stripe material on the curtain about two and a half inches from the edge. They look very fresh and “grand”.

We have new cretonne (1) or the living room. I sent to England for it. It is a blue with pink roses. Cretonnes are very reasonable in England. For instance this was reversible and 48 inches wide and cost about 60 cents.

Well it’s great to be out here and we love it very much. From the veranda where I am writing I can see miles around. Some lovely hills and large stretches of grassland dotted with native villages here and there. Each village with its cattle “carral (2)” (is that the way it is spelled?).

They make these carrals by putting strong branches of trees in the ground standing upright like a post. They usually take a certain kind of branch that will take root and grow. This is necessary because of the white ants (3) that destroy wood so quickly.  They are usually built on a hillside, for drainage. The entrance is well closed at night because of leopards and lions. Sometimes the man will have a house in the enclosure or just near so he can be near to frighten away wild animals when they come.

This tribe (4) are strictly cattle people. So we are able to get fresh milk each day and make our own butter. It is a big help to us.

Not long ago, we had a real treat, a nice big pork roast. A man in the government poste had a pig and the boy didn't put it in its house at night and a hyena came and gave it some terrible gashes, so that it had to be killed. So they allowed us to buy some of the meat that was alright.

Quite often they butcher a cow in the Poste and we are able to buy some. It is always a real treat to us, who have no butcher shop around the corner.

I am very busy getting lawn planted. Here we don’t have seed for lawn. There is a short green grass that spreads very quickly, so we just transplant little rows or dots of it and soon, if kept well weeded we have a nice green lawn. It doesn't grow tall so we never need a lawn mower – better come out here and you won’t have that duty!

Ralph is terribly busy these days. He has charge of the station as Mr. Kemptner (5) the station superintendent is away for a few days’ rest.

Ah yes, much excitement the other day. A huge four ton truck came up the road to the station (they sound like an airplane with their cutouts open). It stopped at our house and the boy brought me a bill of lading for the Indian motorcycle that was sent us so long ago (2 years 8 months!). There it was right in that truck! Ralph was tickled skinny.  He’s like a child with a new toy. 

The machine is in fairly good condition considering its long and tedious journey. He hasn't been able to get it to “agami” (6) that is cry. The natives always say a machine is crying when it is running. However he has high hopes. Maybe it will need some new parts right away but we hope to get it going and then we will try to sell either it or the Harley. One I guess to help pay for the other.

However the Indian hasn't cost us much. Just the transport and customs. I think the whole thing comes to about a hundred dollars. So I guess we will be able to weather that somehow.

At the end of the week we expect to go to Aba for a week’s general conference. It is a conference of all the Congo AIM workers. We also hope to have several workers from the Kenya field as guests. We will go in the Harley (7) and will be gone about ten days if all goes well. [Personal portions redacted.]

With heaps of love,


  1. Cretonne is a printed cloth, usually with small flowers.  Often used to line cupboards, drawers, or make seat covers. There is an example here, which looks like it might be similar to what Coralee describes.
  2. I believe she means “kraal”, an enclosure for domestic animals usually made of thorny brush, although her description in the next paragraph is a bit different than the normal preparation. The Wikipedia entry is here.  
  3. Termites.
  4. The Alur, a tribe which was divided when the borders for Uganda and Congo were delineated. There is a fascinating book about the Alur written in 1956, AlurSociety by Aidan Southall.  In some positive news for such a war-torn corner of the world, the divided tribe has reconciled after more than 200 years of discord. 
  5. Wesley and Flora Kemptner. Later reassigned to Aba. The Kemptners also served as dorm parents at Rethy while Esther and Edith were there. 
  6. Bangala.
  7. The Harley probably had a sidecar. They certainly had one for the Indian, which they received long before they got the motorcycle.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

March 5, 1925 - Excerpt from the H.A.M. Monthly Bulletin, May 1925

In which the Ralph thanks the Heart of Africa supporters for sending out a motorcycle (1)


Ibambi, March 5, 1925

Dear friends:

Your “lovely bit of news” received here last mail, and lovely it was indeed.  I happened to be away at the time it arrived, and Coralee was impatient for my return. I hadn't had a fair chance at the inevitable tea before your letter was produced and read and rejoiced over.

Yes, we surely are delighted over the prospect of a motorcycle, and almost as much surprised as delighted, for the idea of such a thing had only occurred to us as a sort of vague dream far in the future. It was characteristic of you, too, to stop with nothing less than the best. I am very glad you chose an Indian (2), for the roads out here demand a sturdy machine such as that.

At present there are regular motor roads between Poko(3), Bambili  (4), Niangara, and Wamba, and another will probably be completed before very long between Wamba and Botongwe. Most of the roads between here and Wamba are suitable for motorcycle, and the Wamba-Niangara road I understand passes within a few hours walking distance of Deti (5) and Nala. So you see what an asset a motorcycle will soon be. My warmest thanks to you all.


  1. This motorcycle took more than two and a half years to get to Ralph and Coralee. By that time, they were at another mission station, and working for another mission board! 
  2. Unfortunately I do not know which model Indian was sent, nor do we have a photograph of it.  Quite possibly it was a Chief or a Scout.  See here for photographs.
  3. Google calculates the distance between Ibambi and Poko today as 206 kilometers, and estimates travel time at 2 hours 48 minutes.  Given what I have heard about roads in the DRC at present, I would guess that is a wildly optimistic estimate.  
  4. Bambili lies at the confluence of the Uele and an unnamed tributary. 
  5. Deti doesn't appear on the map now.  Nala, on the other hand, is now near what appears to be a regular road. The distance between Nala and Wamba is calculated at 134 kilometers. 

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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Early photos of the Kleinschmidts

Kleinschmidts at home in Ibambi, circa 1925
I believe this is the only photo we have of Ralph and Coralee at home in Ibambi.  The walls are made of tall reeds and perhaps wicker for the furniture.  The floor is earth, the cupboards made from packing cases.  Very simple shelter.  Love Coralee's formal shoes, not so practical.  Ralph looks to have puttees on his legs.

Ralph and Coralee Kleinschmidt, circa 1926 (while at Aba at the AIM conference). 
The missionaries, in pith helmets.  They look so young.  Esther remembers the big boulder behind them. The Kleinschmidts returned to Aru after the AIM conference.  They were assigned to Aba in 1928 before Edith was born.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 12, 1925 - Niangara

In which Ralph and Coralee share some stories of the field, and discuss the difficulties of dealing with doctrinal, personal and political differences within the mission. 


October 12, 1925

Dear Home-folks,
Today we had a good stack of letters come to us, and among them letters from you, besides about a dozen birthday cards for Coralee, so you see this was a red letter day for us. Getting a bunch of letters from home like that is like going on a good spree – it’s great while it lasts, but oh, the morning after, when your conscience and your wife urges you to make up for it by writing back. I’m in that stage now, so I hope you will give me your sympathy. [Personal portion redacted.]

First of all I must send a vote of thanks to those concerned for the packages that have arrived recently. These include wool shirts and socks, shoes and khaki trousers for myself, and shoes, stockings, khaki outfit for Coralee, besides various toilet articles, and CANDY for both of us. Everything was splendid, and arrived in perfect condition. The shoes were large as you feared, but by adding a generous wad of cotton to the end of my toes, and adopting a modified Charlie Chaplin gait, I find them very comfortable. They came none too soon too, for the only other things I had with me were some white canvas shoes and your old army boots, so you can be sure the shoes were most welcome. The heavy shirts too are just great and have been put to good use already on trek. No comments are necessary about the candy – we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Chief Manziga
Since returning from Aba to Niangara(1) I have had some very good times out on trek with Whitermore. We visited the territory of the three big Azande chiefs of the Niangara district north of the Uele River(2) and were well received nearly everywhere, although at one place we received our first experience of open opposition by Roman Catholics. But no matter, we have good reason to believe that some souls were saved, and so came away happy. Incidentally, we had some experiences with bikes at which we can laugh – now! On the first day out we fixed 11 punctures in one and 6 in another of Whitermore's tires and 4 or 5 in mine. These were chiefly due to thorns and long sharp grass seeds, for we were riding through tall grass country. A few days later, as we were nearing our destination for that day, the village of a great chief, Manziga (3); I had a blowout which entirely ruined my back tire. We had been travelling along a circular route and were nearing Niangara, so that at this time we were about twenty miles from home. I thought I would have to walk home, but this chief is the possessor of the only horse in many miles around - about the second one I have seen in Congo– and he offered to let me ride him home. This steed was a young stallion that shied at every little thing including my glasses, and so it was with some misgivings that I climbed aboard and set sail for home. A boy ran ahead to take the horse back and all went well until we arrived at a river about three miles from home, when the boy explained that the water was too high for the horse to get across (some ship!). I knew I could never coax the beast into a canoe, and so I had to walk – secretly glad of the rest it would afford me. [Personal portion redacted.]

Next time you have to go to the dentist don’t kick if your machine (automobile)  is not working and you have to wait for a street car. Recently it became necessary for me to see a dentist in order to avoid losing one of my front teeth. The dentist is about 90 miles away at Poko. As there is a motor road between Niangara and Poko we are not allowed to travel with porters, and the round trip by motor truck costs about $45.00, the trucks go only about once a week and you have to sleep somewhere on the road to wait for another truck to transfer to in order to get to Poko. So the only thing left to do was to go by bicycle without porters. Fortunately the road was fairly good so that I could make it in two days each way, and got back to Niangara within a week after starting. The dentist said that if I had waited another week the tooth would very likely have been lost. So you see we are lucky to be able to get to a dentist at all. Curiously, when I was on the way there and still a few hours out I met a runner with a letter for me from the dentist. There was a native on the station who had had an acute abdominal condition for about six days, another with a badly infected hand, and a number of others who needed attention, and so they wanted me to come to Poko for these cases as soon as possible. They figured that Coralee would come with me and by motor, and I suppose they thought that since we were Americans a little thing like $90 for the trip wouldn't faze us a bit. Anyway, they were mighty much surprised to see me pop in the day after their runner had left to call me for it takes a fast runner four days to get to Niangara, and of course they didn't know that I had come for my teeth. The man with the abdominal trouble had died a few hours before my arrival, but the other patients still needed attention and so did my teeth, so the trip was well worthwhile, and I was mighty glad there was a dentist within reach.

[Personal portion redacted.] You know that ever since we have been on the field (not that we started it) there has been some sort of trouble or other, both on the field and among the home committees as well. During our stay in Ibambi we had ample opportunity to learn lots of things about this work, its methods or rather lack of method, and its director, that you don’t read about in the magazine. When the trouble with Lowder [4]was on, we were new out and did not understand the whole situation and were shown things chiefly from Mr.Studd’s viewpoint. Now, while we do not agree in the least with the method of Lowder’s attack and believe he did some very unwise if not unkind things at that time, yet we have learned that he had some very good reasons for some of the criticisms he made of the work. We admire Mr. Studd for the great work he has done and the sacrifices he has made, but we have seen another side of him which makes it very difficult to work with him to say the least. He boasts that the Holy Spirit alone is the Guide and Leader of this work, and speaks often of humility, yet I know of no one more domineering and self-willed than he. If anyone dares disagree with him he is a marked man and sooner or later feels that he is not wanted. If he is bested in an argument a favorite method is to resort to sneering sarcasm. And so I could go on at length, but I know it is an easy matter to talk of someone else’s faults, while there are plenty of our own that need to be eradicated; yet I am not doing this for the pleasure of the gossip, but because you need to see the other side of the picture if you are to understand what I am trying to get at.

We used to argue a little about a certain question of doctrine (5)  in Ibambi, but soon realized the truth of the fact that there is little profit in arguing doctrinal points (except for the study it stimulates) and so rested content with making known our conviction and letting it go at that. Incidentally, Mr. Studd once wrote a letter to the American Council in which he made a sort of masked reference to this point, and so I and some others wrote them explaining our stand on the question, (and our view was directly opposite to Mr. Studd’s) and we all received the reply that if we had not believed as we did, the American Council would never have sent us out to the field. But the real point is that once one openly disagrees with Mr. Studd on this question the person who disagrees soon feels that he is unwelcome, senses a lack of real cordiality in his relations with Mr. Studd and certain of his disciples, and before long finds himself in a back seat, so to speak, as regards his position on the field. This has been true not of ourselves only but in the case of at least six other Americans as well.

That is one point. Another is this. The conviction has been growing on us gradually that the Field Director is not over-keen about having a real honest-to-goodness medical work on the field. At least he has lent little or no assistance in establishing that sort of thing. He is glad enough to have a doctor on the field who will run all over the show to see sick missionaries, and then be content to limit his station work to a simple superficial type of work because of lack of proper equipment – housing particularly. There seems to be a sort of deadly fear out here of having anything good, for fear it will not look enough like sacrifice, or perhaps that it will seem too much like we are settling down permanently in one place, or some such idea. Now I’m not speaking about our own house or food or clothing, but when it comes to caring for sick folks it seems to me that the best you can get is none too good. But to suggest a brick building here, for instance, comes near to rank heresy. About six weeks ago we wrote to Mr. Studd that we would return from Aba to Niangara on a certain date and that we would await word from him as to when to return to our proper work. We have now been back in Niangara – the only station in the mission where a doctor is NOT needed since there is a government doctor here – we have been back here for over a month and have never had a word as to when to leave. This in itself, it seems to us, is one indication of how much our services are wanted. I forgot to mention that as soon as we reached the field we were promised a better building for the medical work, but whenever the subject was brought up later there was always some evasion. The present building when only a year old was so dirty and leaky that it was hardly fit for natives to sleep in much less to operate in; and so all operations or special treatments had to be done in our own house. I believe that the work of a nurse and doctor out here is not exclusively medical to be sure, but I also believe that the better and more efficiently the medical part is done the greater will be the opportunity to reach the native who would not otherwise come in to hear the Gospel. Even the news that a motorcycle was on the way met with very little enthusiasm, to put it mildly.

Another little source of irritation is the spirit of petty jealousy toward Americans on the part of some of our English friends. Many of them seem to have the idea that if one is American he is almost sure to have lots of money. This is a small thing it’s true, but it is just one of the things that help to make the American feel that he is not welcome. It seems too bad that mere difference in nationality should be so keenly felt in a place like this, but we can’t get away from the fact of it. I remember that before we left home some of you expressed the fear that we might run into something like this; since then we have learned that you were right. [Personal portion redacted.] Thus far there have been no difficulties whatever with the American Council, even though Miss Brandon (6) and, I believe, one other are English. We have experienced nothing but genuine love and loyalty toward us on their part and cannot speak too highly of the splendid way in which they have stood by us and helped us in every way. But we are afraid that even they do not have a correct conception of the real conditions out here. If they did, I believe there would be many resignations.

Well, we could go on raving like this all evening, but what’s the use? Just let us say this, we are not the only ones who feel like this. The Pontiers are going home after three years of service, and they are going to resign as soon as they reach home and get a chance to explain matters to the Council. One of the new candidates in America, who had already had her farewell meeting, has already resigned, and the other has been delayed from sailing because of the illness of a relative, and is expected by friends out here to resign too. The Whitermores and the Kiesslings are also “fed up”, and are speaking of resigning, although they have taken no definite steps as yet. The Kirks, who are home on furlough, told the council that they too would not return to the field unless radical changes were made out here first. They were assured that better times were coming and so have tentatively withheld their resignation. Hipp, according to latest reports, still contemplates returning to the field after his furlough, in spite of the treatment he received here. And now as for us – what would you say? At present we can only say this, that we too feel very much inclined to resign from the mission, although we don’t feel that the right moment to take this action has arrived just yet. We may wait here another month and then if Mr. Studd doesn’t send us word as to where to go we will probably return to Ibambi on our own responsibility and then resign. However our minds are not fully made up; we just want to prepare you for what may happen. Then comes the question as to what we would do next in case we did resign. Two possibilities present themselves. One is to go home and begin life all over again; the other is to apply for admission to another mission out here. The latter course seems to both of us as the right one, and if we did this there is practically only one mission that we could consider, the Africa Inland Mission. (The South Africa General Mission, and Sudan Interior Mission are British, and most of the denominational missions are squabbling over the question of modernism and fundamentalism and seem unstable at the present time.) This (AIM) appeals to us particularly because we happen to have seen something of its work and people during six weeks stay at Aba, because of their need of medical workers and their attitude toward medical work, and because they are at least chiefly American and have the good sense to keep American and English separated on their own stations. Furthermore, we saw that a real soul-saving work was going on at Aba. On the other hand, we are not blind to the fact that they also have had serious internal troubles in the past, and so may yet have in the future, and we also recognize the fact that we would not necessarily be stationed at Aba should we be accepted, and that all stations might not be like Aba to work on. Yet we know that the spirit and methods of the A.I.M. are far nearer to our ideals than those of the H.A.M. But all these things are as yet only vague speculations of the future and so need not be enlarged on now.

{Personal portion redacted.] And now for a little bit of more interesting news. While at Poko I heard a faint rumor that my motorcycle is now at Buta, a little over 200 miles from here. On the strength of this, I have written to Buta asking that it be forwarded immediately to Niangara, and so it’s possible that I will have it within a few weeks. Incidentally, while at the Poste I inquired as to the price of gasoline and learned that it was about $1.75 per gallon! Lubricating oil 50¢ a lb. So you see, with a combined family income of $34.00 a month, and sugar at 30¢ per lb., inferior canned butter $1.00 per lb., poor flour at 50 lbs. for $10.00, and sweetened condensed milk 45¢ per can equivalent to one quart when diluted, there will be very little “joy-riding” around the country on the Indian! No wonder travel in a motor truck costs 25¢ per mile. Of course we don’t live on these things exclusively, but they are more necessary at Niangara than elsewhere because things like chickens, eggs, and other native products are very hard to get here.

Please note change in directions for sending packages.  It is now cheaper as well as quicker to send them via the Nile rather than the Congo river route, so please address future packages as follows: Niangara, Cairo, Rejaf and Aba, c/o Metaxis & Macris. Letters should be Niangara, via Cairo, Rejaf and Aba, but of course not “c/o Metaxis & Macris”. Thus they will reach us quickly no matter what part of the H.A.M. territory we may (be) in, and also in case we should go to the A.I.M. The reason that it is now cheaper is because transportation along the Nile route has been very greatly increased recently, and now parcel post service comes all the way through to Aba, and is expected to soon come through to Niangara. This will eliminate all handling charges of agents and the only charges on our end will be for duty, which is usually small compared to handling charges. When we say that it is cheaper to send this way now we mean cheaper at this end, i.e. for us. It is best to still include on packages “c/o Metaxis & Macris” because parcel post is not yet actually established as far as Niangara but only as far as Aba, and so for the time being M&M would have to handle parcels from Aba to Niangara. On the other hand, there is no harm in doing so, for in case Parcel Post does come through to Niangara, the order “c/o M&M” will be automatically ignored and parcels sent through by the postal service exclusively.

Now to answer a suggestion of yours in your last letter. Your scheme for getting questions answered is a grand one and shows real business genius, and we will be very glad to contribute our part, of course leaving out the “two-bits” feature. Meanwhile I have already answered one question which might be on the minds of some, showing that gasoline – or petrol, or essence, according to whether you are speaking American, English, or French – is after all to be classed among the precious minerals.

Another question that might still be a cause of anxiety to some concerns our fierce struggles with wild and ferocious beasts. During the past eighteen months I have personally seen four crocodiles, the noses of three hippopotami, one antelope, snakes, monkeys, and parrots. They all fled in mortal terror at sight of my face! The following are typical of our experience and acquaintance with leopards, buffalo, and elephants. A few weeks ago while on trek, we slept at a village to which a headman had moved because his own village had been destroyed by elephants. Travelling the next day, we neared this old village and ran across very fresh elephant tracks in the path. Soon we came upon a woman working in a field who said that three elephants had passed by during the night and were now down at the stream just a little beyond. We wanted to go down to have a peep at them but the black men with us turned pale at mention of it, and so as our path happened to turn at a right angle just there, we followed our path rather than our noses or inclinations. At another village a few days later, the chief informed us that he had killed an elephant eight days previously. This time we “followed our noses” and found the elephant, several huge baskets-full of him all nicely cut up into four-inch cubes of the consistency of a balloon tire. At the next village when about ready to go to bed, we heard two shots and rushed out to see the excitement, only to learn that two of the chief’s “soldiers” had shot at a leopard that was prowling around the chief’s house. At midnight I was awakened by a most peculiar throaty noise just outside our rest-house. As I stirred slightly, I heard the thud of heavy paws scampering away, and lighting a lantern went out to investigate and found the tracks of what was probably the leopard which had made its appearance earlier. A few days ago Whitermore heard that there were hippos a few hours up the river, so he went up in a canoe with some natives to investigate.  He saw no hippos, but shot a crocodile, and then went on the trail of some water buck. Next morning he succeeded in shooting a large buck, as big as a mule, and so today we are going to enjoy some roast venison, thanks to Coralee and the steam cooker. All the boys and workmen are elated over their share of real animal to eat, and we are expecting that soon our supply of cathartics will be seriously invaded. The animal’s intestines were given to some women near the scene of the hunt, and they were overjoyed, for had they not received the near best part, next to the heart?

Well, now a part of my job has been completed, and you will notice that we have said nothing of our work, for at present we have no work. Hope we will have better news to report before very long.

With love,
Coralee and Ralph

  1. Approximately 200 miles.
  2. Uele River (a very large river)
  3. The reason for the lack of horses is disease, and expense related to keeping the horse healthy.    
  4. We cannot identify this missionary.
  5. My mother’s note on this letter: “C.T. Studd did not believe in the eternal security of the believer; Kleinschmidts and the others felt strongly that the Scriptures taught that a person’s salvation was eternal and depending on the integrity of God the Father not the frail strength of a man’s faith. EKM” This paragraph deals with the doctrinal difference. The paragraph following it deals with a procedural disagreement. 
  6. Another unidentified missionary.