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,