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).