Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Aba, Belgian Congo - February 4, 1946

In which Ralph and Coralee write to their supporters about the state of the mission field after being on furlough for 14 months.

Dear Friends,
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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Aba, Belgian Congo - December 18, 1945

In which Coralee shares many details of people and plants she has seen upon their return to Aba and visit to Rethy.

Aba, Belgian Congo, December 18, 1945

Dear girls,
We have been so glad for your letters that we found here. They were so interesting and it was lovely to have some details from you after so many weeks. These letters were dated in October and told of your interesting Halloween party. Yesterday we received your letter of October 18 (which you sent to the Mission office and it was forwarded to us here).

Through these weeks we have tried to picture you daily in your lives and we have been praying for you and loving you daily.  We are so happy that you enjoy your home there and the school. It was good to hear that the Glee Club has been organized.  Tell us about your music.  The details you have tucked in your letters are very interesting and help us visualize you there.

I hope you have received letters from us. We wrote in Cairo and twice while traveling up the Nile. The Lord gave us such a restful trip except the time in Cairo. Those were busy days for Daddy.

It has been lovely to finally reach home and receive the warm welcome that awaited us here. Mary and Ombasa [1] had kept the house exactly as we left it. It did seem that you girls would be somewhere about and that Purr and Blackie would come in. Mary has Cook's cat and it is exactly like Purr in the markings but bigger as it's a tomcat.  It spends a lot of time here and is a nice cat. Eddie's cat is over at Stam's house. Now that we are having our meals here, I will try and care for him until Eddie comes. He is very fluffy and still has lots of character. I'll tell you more about him when he joins our family circle.

Your room is arranged just as it was. Now I've even hung up the horse pictures [2]. The music Daddy printed on the wall is still there but it is a little smeary from the pencil [3]. I'm not going to try and erase it and keep it just as it is. The curtains are the same all through the house. We thought maybe the house would look shenzi[4] to us but it doesn't at all.  It's just home sweet home and compares pretty well with other places.

The rose bushes have nearly all died. Only one of the Jack Litchman[5] bushes by your door is alive and one old white one. The big yellow one on the trellis is dead. Many of the other rose bushes are dead, both here and at Grimshaw's and over at the hospital.

Photo by Ralph Kleinschmidt, possibly in the 1950's
Gara lilies at Aba Station.  Date uncertain, probably in the 1950's.
The yard is clean and tidy with one or two gara [6] lilies in bloom. It was still quite green when we arrived but there hasn't been any rain since and so it's getting dried out.

Mary's cactus has grown huge [7].  You can see where you wrote your names. It has added about four new parts above the ones you wrote on. Mary has lots of pretty petunias. There was one yellow lily in bloom to greet us and two of the bell-shaped white ones. The ferns and flowers on the veranda are lovely just as they used to be. When I look at all these familiar things it hardly seems true we've been away fourteen months.  The bougainvillea on our house is full of flowers. Also the one at Grimshaw's. It has grown very big and looks very pretty.  The whole station looks nice, all the roads are in good order and the palms lining the main road are trimmed. The road has been widened going down to Aba and it is very nice. The white cemetery looks better than I have seen it in years. All the grass is cut down so you can see the graves plainly.

Over at Stam's the place looks more deserted than it does at Eddie's. His man has kept his place lovely. I was amazed at how much his cactus has grown and the other plants in his rose garden. The gardenia bush has nearly doubled its size.

Brills are staying in Cook's house.  Their freight hasn't come yet so they are using various bits of furniture and the dishes and pots and pans from the Appendix [8]. The F.C. has assigned them to Aungba. We are sorry about this and wish they would at least stay here until the Langfords or someone can come. I don't know how we'll ever manage seeing to everything but the girls [9]. We will need your special prayers.  Aunt Rose Mary is assigned to Todro so that Station won't have to be closed when Miss Wightman [10] goes for furlough. Miss Settles is there with her.

Steadily natives are coming to greet us. It has been a real pleasure to see them again. All the teachers are coming now for Christmas and will be arriving on Friday of this week. You'll be sorry to know that [illegible] has left his [illegible] and taken a second wife. We were surely sorry to learn this.

Mon Godin wrote asking if he can come for Christmas. He will come on Saturday and stay over Christmas. He is now stationed at Gariga not far from Bunia. It is where Zekaya Bage has opened a new school.[11]

Daddy mentioned that we went to Rethi for the F.C. meeting on Monday after we arrived late Friday. As we traveled down the familiar road it seemed just like we'd find you there at Rethi even though I kept reminding my heart to not expect any such thing. We got there about 8:30AM and stayed at the new rest house just between Millers houses. It has three rooms and is very neat and nice.  We had meals at Stauffachers. It seemed so strange not to find the Millers, Longmans, Trouts, Camps and Miss Clapper there. It really seemed like someone had died.

It was great to see Uncle John and Auntie Mabel [12] again. They all gave us a warm welcome.  The dormitory is so different as there are only about 20 children. Not even all the rooms in the old dormitory are filled.  The program was in the girls dorm. It was very nice but not so elaborate as those of former days when you were there and not so interesting as when you took part. After the program refreshments were served in the dining room and then there was a testimony meeting in the old dorm. The three new ladies that came out with us gave their testimony and then the returned missionaries. Mr. Brill spoke and then it was my turn. Daddy wasn't there as he had a medical committee meeting.  I spoke for you both. Everyone asked about you and all send their greetings.  It was hard to recognize some of the children, they had grown so big.  Sara and Jurena Coetzee[13] are real big girls now, nearly as tall as Freda. Even Mim has grown tall and is quite plump.  It was so nice to see Freda.  She looks well but is thinner. I let her read your two letters about the Halloween party. She was so pleased with the white dress I gave her. Mrs. Miller gave it to me. It was too small and I thought she would like it. It was a little like your two-pieced white ones but this was all one. She was so pleased. The Paul children went with the Stauffachers to Ruwenzori for a holiday. They will return the end of December. Then the Stauffachers are coming through to Bafuka to visit the O.S.

We heard that Jack[14] is living at their plantation. He married a Polish girl. She doesn't speak French. Folks say she is nice. He was drinking and cold spiritually after he met this girl but they say that now he is friendly again. I am going to write to him.

Daddy went to Kurukwata one day on business. [15] They gave him a warm welcome. Marissa has been out of school for a year because of her eyes. She has a very bad condition that requires special glasses. Tituli is in school in Kisumu. Mr. Schlippe is now much improved.

It seems so strange to be without a car. Daddy has been trying to buy an old one to use until the new one arrives. It may be he'll buy one that a Greek has offered. It has a folding top with curtains and a rumble seat. Want a ride?  We'll go to Aba fishing and swimming but maybe not till someone else comes along to join us.

On Sunday we went to the lepers in the afternoon. They asked about you and send their senes.  I went to the children's Sunday School in the morning. It was lovely to see nearly 300 children singing and making the motions of the choruses. Mrs. Brill has started a Sunday School in Aba poste. There were 115 there last Sunday.

Just a few minutes ago an airplane flew over Aba poste and circled several times. Daddy heard today that soon there will be a private airplane service stopping here. All the little boys came running up the hill to get a good view of the plane and we went out to look just as we used to do. It looked like the same Lockheed.

The elephant ear in front of the house I think is the largest I have ever seen. It is simply huge.  The flamboyant trees in front of the house have grown a lot too.

I am glad you got the pearls and I hope you have all the things you need. It's nice to think that you aren't getting fat. I do hope you both keep well and enjoy all the life there.  Eddie mentioned having forwarded some catalogs from Wheaton and Moody. If you have two copies send one on to us and if you have time, mark which courses are interesting to you.

We are wondering if Eddie and Millie have sailed as Stanley wrote from Cairo that the Gripsholm was making another Mediterranean trip. Hope they can come soon. They are assigned to the E.V. School [16] so they'll be a long way off too.

Millers and Harrises hope to leave for furlough soon. Someone said Millers hope to go in January via Mombasa. Dixes and Imhoffs are looking forward to going in the near future, also I believe the Landreths.

Peanut Williams is quite grown up. I could hardly recognize him. Verna is thinner. Jaceline is now a big girl.  Victor Paul has grown so much and his hair still stands on end.

My letter has wandered all around but I know you'll be glad to have these details. Read in it all our constant thoughts of you and everyone asks to be remembered to you. There are no words to tell you how much I love you.

With a heart full of love as ever,
Your Mother.

Pray much for us.

The golden shower has completed covered the trellis and it is full of flowers. It is beautiful!  M.


  1. Houseboy for the Kleinschmidts.  He did the ironing on the back porch using a charcoal iron.
  2. Horse head portraits drawn by Eddie Schuit.
  3. Ralph had drawn a mural around a pump organ found in pieces in the attic of the hospital. (May have been brought to Aba by the Hurlburts.) He put it back together and it played beautifully. Both Esther and Edie learned to play on it, with Ralph teaching. He drew bars of music on the white wall of the house.  Ralph's brother Harry had a hobby of restoring church organs, and Ralph apparently had absorbed some of that.
  4. Bangala or Kingwana, possible meaning close to "shabby".
  5. Jack Litchman was mostly at Aba, and had a great garden.
  6. Gara lilies are red, and they come up without their leaves. An amaryllis of some kind, possibly a red variant of Amaryllis belladonna
  7. Sisal cactus (an agave). One was dark green, one was variegated.  They had terrible thorns, and leaves that were long and sword-like. The girls wrote their names on some of the leaves, so that Mary wouldn't forget them!   
  8. A garage, which eventually became a small guest house, and named the Appendix by Ralph.
  9. A dormitory which housed Christian girls who were taught to read and also various housekeeping skills.
  10. Ethel Wightman, tall lean woman might have been from England.  Marian Settles.
  11. None of the names here are yet firmly identified.
  12. Buyce (pronounced BICE).  
  13. South African family
  14. Closet - a Rethy student, the child of a local Belgian business man.
  15. A plantation near the forest edge, with coffee. He had a clay factory, made clay pots, had African elephants trained to work moving logs. DeSchlippe (a Russian) escaped political persecution into Congo, married to a Finnish woman.  Read more about DeSchlippe here (in French). Mom remembers sitting on the grass and stroking a baby leopard, maybe 2 months old, who had a great big purr.
  16. Evangelistic Bible School (Blukwa).

Friday, May 15, 2015

Aba, Congo - December 16, 1945

Ralph describes the wildlife and transportation details of returning to Aba, and also a surprise Mission Field Council meeting at Rethy 3 days after arriving!

Aba, December 16, 1945

Dear girls,

The first letter from Aba.  It's like we are writing the first one to you after returning to Rethi from your vacation - and yet so different!

I believe our last letter was written and mailed on the Nile steamer when we were nearing the end of the trip and were seeing the crocs and hippos. It seems to me I wrote about them and about the many kinds of large birds we saw.

The steamer could not take us and the barges all the way to Juba as the water was too low, and so it left us off at Mongula where about six station wagons were waiting to take us. We (Mother, Miss Short and I and two other passengers) were fortunate enough to be in the first of these, and so missed the dust and saw the animals. The first we saw was a very large ostrich, and it was astonishing to see how fast that bird could run! It looked as it if took ten feet at a step. The stupid thing kept running in the road ahead of us for about a half mile before making a dash for the jamba.  Shortly after this we saw a hartebeest standing at the left side of the road with a tiny baby. At first the mother dashed away into the bush but when it saw its baby was running in front of the car on the left side of the road it quickly turned back into the road just ahead of the car, keeping itself between the car and her little one, and so gradually edging the babe off of the road and into the bush.  It certainly was a pretty sight to see how the mother risked her own life to protect its young one, and how it gradually eased it out of danger. You remember the hartebeest is the large antelope with the long very narrow face such as Eddie killed at Misa's when you were with him. I missed the next sight but Mother and the others saw it - about six mongooses running beside the road. Not long afterwards three beautiful bushbuck jumped out in front of us and sprang down the road ahead in great graceful bounds and then off into the jamba.  The jamba there was much like around Aba with short grass and sparsely scattered scrubby acacias and a few large trees, and so the animals could be seen for quite a distance from the road. We also saw a skunk, a few guinea fowl, and signs of elephants but nothing really exciting like lions, although there are many lions in that area.

After a ride of about four hours we got to Juba in time for lunch at the hotel. There we met Mr. Potamianis, the Greek who works for Mr. Luusi and learned that he had arranged to have a truck to take our luggage to Aba, and a car with room for three passengers. There were no other cars going to Aba that day and so we finally decided that Mother, Miss Short and I would go ahead in Louis's car (in which his wife also was going to Aba, the rest staying the night in the hotel and following the next day in a SHUN car). Our car travelled very slowly as it had poor tires and we didn't reach Aba until around 8:30PM. But the Customs official (a new one) took a peep into our bags and let us go to the Mission.

When we pulled up hospital hill we saw a light in Mary's house, and our house all lighted up. It took a few minutes before anyone appeared, and the first to show up were Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn. Pretty soon Mary came running down from her house - and you can imagine the glad reunion we had. On entering our house we found it looked just exactly as when we had left it - the same furniture, pictures and drapes, and a nice big bouquet on the desk. Onitasa had done a beautiful job of keeping everything in order during all the time we were away and it certainly was lovely to find everything in such beautiful condition. The grass had just begun to turn brown but there was plenty of color about, with the bougainvillea, golden shower and poinsettia all in bloom.Quite a few natives came around to greet us and many more the next morning.

It was Friday, December 7th (Pearl Harbor) when we arrived at Aba. Soon after we got there we learned that we were all to go to Rethi the following Monday to meet the Field Council. The others of our party (Miss Green, Miss Cribbs, and the Fosters with Mis Riebert) arrived Saturday afternoon but their luggage, including overnight things, didn't get to Aba before Sunday Noon. And so at 6:00AM Monday we all appeared at the Customs to declare our things, then went back to the Mission for breakfast and reloaded for the trip to Rethi.

Mother and Mr. Imhoff and I went with Mr. Littlejohns in his car, and Misses Short, Cribbs and Green and Mr. Brill went with Mr. Senff in his car. A couple of the ladies rode outside behind and above the cab.  As they stopped at the Kitambala turnoff, went into Adi, and stopped at Aru and Aungba, they couldn't make the trip all in one day. The following morning they started very early and nearly froze on the trip  but had the fun of seeing a leopard and some other animals. We stayed at Rethi until Thursday and then returned to Aba. There we met a lot of old friends, the Pauls, Uhlingers, Boyces, Mixes, and many others, but space is too limited to write much about that.

Missionaries are still very few on the field and many have to do the work of several others besides their own. Brills are going to Aungba and that will leave only Miss Lutz, Mary, and us at Aba until Lanfords come out. We hear Miss Hayes is on the way out, but she is to go to Todro for the present so that Miss Settles can stay there after Miss Wightman goes home. Bells are also leaving soon and so Beckers will have to run Oicha besides the deara.  And so it goes.

I'm going to look around next week for a car to use until the one Eddie sends us arrives. I'm afraid this letter has been all about ourselves, but that doesn't mean we haven't been thinking about you. Just the opposite and we're praying constantly for you and thinking of your first Christmas in Florida.

Lots of love,

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aba, Congo - December 12, 1945 Part Two

A Bangala letter and notes from Coralee, probably included with a letter to the girls.  

(Translations kindly provided by Mom (Esther Meyers) and Bill & Ruth Stough. My Bangala is non-existent!  I have included a copy of the letter in Bangala so that you can see the language written.  Mom says the emphasis should be on the penultimate syllable.)

Elisa Akolo letter, page 1
Adi, Congo Belge
December 12, 1945

Doctor K and Madame,

Greetings to you in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Are you well? We are well including Raele (Rachel) and the children (child) is also.  However one of the children, Estere (Esther) has scabies.  Thank the Lord that He has returned you again.  Thank you, now my thoughts are correct, and (kubika?) accurate, because every day (if) the doctor is present he is sufficient for the problem.  But when there is no doctor ... But thankfully now I can think 
correctly again.  Thanks, thanks, truly God has heard our (your) prayers. I want to see you again with my eyes.  We had a conference here at Adi.  It was a good conference.  We are considering that person who was at the very beginning, John l:1. Those baptized were 52, those who joined the church. Those brothers who went to their home country like Mr. Pont (Pontier) is he well?  Mr. Schuit is he well?  Mr. St (Stam)are they well? Are they returning also? Raele (Rachel) sends you a lot (of greetings). 
Greetings to Miss Mery (Mary White). I am Elisa Akolo the nurse

Elisa Akolo letter, page 2

(Coralee must have been short on paper, or trying to save weight in the letter, because she appended her notes to this letter.)

I've been almost too busy to even pick flowers.

Eleya Akulu has painted the cupboards and table (legs) in the kitchen a pretty green. They look nice and fresh now.  Tomorrow I'm going to have them paint in there.

The Scopelitis have just returned from Cyprus.  I didn't see them yet.

There are at least three huge adult ostriches in the poste.

Araba's dog is still here. The one with the crooked tail.

Last Sunday evening we ate in the yard. Mary, Dorothy (Lutz), Mrs. Bill and her children (Mr. Bill was away) and Francis Sevec (he came over to confer with Charles Hurlburt).

I had a nice letter from Mrs. Grimshaw. Bumps [1] added a line.

I'd better stop here. Lots and lots of love. Thanks for your good letters and also for your report cards with their excellent grades.

Your loving Mother

1.  Bumps was the girls' nickname for Mary Grimshaw.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rethy, Congo - December 12, 1945

In which Coralee reports on the Christmas program at Rethy.[1]

December 12, 1945

Dear ones,
As I watched this program alone (Daddy was in a medical committee meeting), I relived again those I had seen in former years.

Christmas Program at Rethy [7]
December 11, 1945
It was so different not to have two little girls taking part. I missed you terribly but I am so glad you are having an opportunity to study there in the homeland.  The program was in the girls dorm but no one lives there as there are even rooms vacant in the old dorm. I believe they have 25 students. It is small because of the lack of workers. Mr. & Mrs. Uhlinger [2] have charge of Rethi station as well as the dormitory.

It seemed so strange not to find Miss Wambold [3], the Longmans, Camps, Trouts, Lasses, Macintoshes [4] and Miss Clapper and the Millers.

The flowers at Miss Wambold's were lovely. I picked a bouquet of carnations from Mrs. Miller's garden.[5]

We stayed in the new rest house just beside the Miller's home. It is between the Miller and Lasse house. It has three rooms and is a neat little building.

Mr. Litchman [6] lives in Miss Jarrod's house. He has charge of the dispensary.

I'll stop here and go to the lepers. [8]  Then I'll write you an air mail. Always you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Much love,

1.  It is not clear why they would have gone directly to Rethy at the end of their trip instead of proceeding to Aba. But the date is firm because of the printed date on the program - the letter was written on the blank reverse of the program. The next letter I have from Aba is dated December 16, and notes that it is the first letter from Aba.
2.  Bwana Andrew Peter Uhlinger also served with the Meyers' at Oicha.  Mom remembers that she and my dad learned Kingwana from Mrs. Uhlinger.
3.  Burnetta Wambold.  See this footnote.
4.  Alan and Marjorie MacIntosh were in charge of the dormitory (the Old Dormitory).  They had 4 daughters - Janet, Marjorie, Catherine (Tassie), and Myrtle. They were from Canada and were very proud of being Canadians.  Mom has memories of Vespers in front of the fireplace and they also read the children stories, not just Bible stories but also other interesting stories. A special memory was of the story of Bob the cattle dog.  They had a small library including Amy Carmichael's books and poetry, which very much impressed Mom and began inspiring her to become a missionary.  Mrs. MacIntosh was a great one for brushing hair every evening before bed.  Mom remembers the big grosgrain ribbons that the girls wore to church.  The daughter Marjorie attended my aunt Edith's wedding (at Lubero in 1957) and her daughter Gracie was Edith's flower girl.
5.  Being at a cooler, higher elevation, Rethy could grow beautiful flowers.  Miss Wambold's garden was particularly memorable according to Mom. Carnations grew very well - there were red, pink, and white varieties, and redolent of cinnamon. There were also smaller varieties.
6. Jack Litchman (known as Bwana Jack) was a single missionary, greatly loved by the local people who came to chat with him and also for counsel. He ran a little "store" with pencils, paper and other little things.  A close friend of Ralph and Coralee. Mom remembers that he was engaged but that his fiance died of malaria before they were married.
7.  Christmas Program notes:  Miriam "Mim" Paul, daughter of Austin and Betty Paul, was a very good friend of Edith and Esther. She married Dr. Dan Fountain (his obituary here) and served as a missionary in Congo for 35 years.  (Her obituary here.) James was her little brother.  Fay Brill was a student, her father was Roy Brill, and the family was first stationed at Aba. (The Brills were on the ZamZam when it sank in 1941. You can read more about the sinking of the ZamZam here.) John Stauffacher was another student, son of Ray Stauffacher.  Verna Williams and Frieda Paul (Mim's older sister) did the Organ Duet listed in number 14.
8. There was a leprosy patient village walking distance from Rethy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Naples Harbor, Motorship Gripsholm - October 29, 1945

Part of the continuing letter written to the girls during the voyage on the Gripsholm.  

Naples Harbor just opposite Vesuvius

Dear girls,
We didn't find a way to mail the letter after all. This morning the ship came out here and anchored in the bay. Now they have posted a notice, saying we will be here at Naples a week while they repair the ship's engines. None of us are the last bit thrilled to sit here and not be allowed ashore. But we hope if possible this delay will mean the salvation of many on board. Then none of us would  mind it a bit. The bay is a beautiful blue and there are large numbers of white sea gulls everywhere, really hundreds and hundreds, the most I've ever seen anywhere. We saw many damaged ships in the harbor and much evidence of damage to the buildings near the docks. Much like we've seen in pictures.

The view of Naples from here is gorgeous. The buildings line the shore and creep up the sides of the hill sand two fair sized mountains. Each has a castle on top. We can see a number of historic old castles or forts among the buildings. The view of Vesuvius crater is lovely this afternoon. We've thought of you as we have looked at all these interesting things as we know you'd have found them very interesting. But I'm glad you have such a nice home and so many so many interesting things there in Zellwood. Some day you will travel again. I'll leave this note here and add more later if we don't find a way to mail it to you.

With love,

Kosti, Sudan - November 25, 1945

In which Ralph tells his daughters about travel in Egypt, and illustrates the methods of drawing water for irrigation. 

Kosti, Sudan
Sunday, November 25, 1945

Dearest girls,

Well here we are at last, really on the Nile Steamer with the next stop Juba!  When in Cairo we wondered whether we would find a place on this boat or if we would have to wait at Khartoum for one or two weeks for another boat. But we learned there that the SIM people had reserved some places on this boat and would not be using them after all, and so we telegraphed to have them reserve the places for us.

Sketch by Ralph Kleinschmidt, 1945
Pole and counterweight irrigation method.
Drawing by Ralph Kleinschmidt, 1945
We left Cairo at 8:00PM last Monday.  We had a comfortable sleeping compartment on the train. There was a beautiful clear full moon and we could see much of the landscape, first along the Nile and then in the desert. The Arab villages, with roofless or flat-roofed houses were very interesting. Later, during daylight we saw more of the Nile and we were especially interested in the irrigation systems. They had two ways of lifting water from the Nile to spill it over into the irrigation ditches. One was by means of a long pole with a counterweight on one end and a rope and skin bag at the other. Two men would pull on the pole until the bag was lowered into the water. When the bag was full they would let go and the weight would raise the water and then the men would tip it over into the channel. They would keep this up a long time and so send water all over their fields.

Drawing by Ralph Kleinschmidt, 1945
Water wheel irrigation method.
Drawing by Ralph Kleinschmidt, 1945
Another way they used was by means of water wheels. These consisted of a very large wheel made of wood with clay water pots tied all around the circumference. Also around the circumference were wooden spokes like the teeth of a gear, and these mesh with similar spokes in a horizontal wheel near the ground. This last wheel is attached to a pole and that is pulled round and around by a camel or a donkey. The clay pots pick up water when they enter the river and when they get to the top they spill their water out into a trough that leads to the irrigation ditch.  This drawing isn't quite right as the water pots must go lower to get into the water.

The desert wasn't very interesting after having seen it for a while. We did see lots of camels (some baby camels too) and donkeys. Once we saw a tiny dik-dik running away from the train right out into the desert.

At Assuan [1] we stayed in a very nice hotel and were taken on a tour to see some old Egyptian ruins which were very interesting.  We went in an Arab "dhow" or sailboat and that was a lot of fun.

From Assuan we took another short train trip to Shellal where we got on a Nile boat for a two day trip to Wadi Halfa. That trip was not very interesting for it was through high water on account of the dam [2] at Assuan, and on each side of the river was desert. One very interesting feature however came at night when they took the boat very near the bank and shone a powerful searchlight on four colossal statues of Egyptian gods or kings which were carved out of the solid rock of the cliff. We were sorry it wasn't at daytime so that we could take pictures of it. (We bought a small box (Brownie) camera in Cairo.)

At Wadi Halfa we took a train to Khartoum and a few hours later took another train from Khartoum to Kosti where we are now on the boat. At Khartoum we were very much surprised and pleased to meet Mr. & Mrs. Chas. Sharland of Loko and Mr. Cook of Yei, who are going along with us on the same boat [3]. Mr. Cook you remember is the man who brought the telescope to Aba one time.

Our boat is due to leave today but we have heard there is something broken and so we may not go until tomorrow. This next part of the trip should be the most interesting, I think, although the hottest. We'll write you about that later.

With loads of love,

1.  Assuan is the older spelling for Aswan.
2.  This dam is the Aswan Low Dam, not to be confused with the Aswan High Dam, which was started in 1960 and completed in 1970.
3.  See this post regarding Mr. and Mrs. Sharland.  Note also that the spelling of "Yie" is more correctly done here as "Yei".