Thursday, August 2, 2018

Aba, Belgian Congo - May 22, 1946

In which Ralph is still waiting for his car, and the X-ray machine... and takes a little vacation due to an infection.  

Dear Seniors!
Or have you flunked out and remained Juniors?

It seems to me you have been getting the small end of the letter writing deal of late. According to Mother’s book we haven’t written to you for about a month, and we have had letters from you almost every week. But then you know all about the life out here and how little there is to write about.  But if we haven’t written, we can assure you we have thought about you and prayed for you daily. Your happy letters buck us up a lot, for while we are very lonesome for you yet we are very happy in the knowledge that you are having such good and profitable times. There seems to be no lack of interesting and helpful activities to keep you busy, and we are glad your school days are not just a dull uninteresting grind day after day. [Personal section redacted.]

Aba station is filling up again for now Miss Hayes, Miss Gingrich, and the Cooks are all back again. But it is not at all sure that the Cooks will stay here. It seems the Mission wants to establish a Central Press to serve Congo, Kenya and Tanganyika, and it may be it will be located at Kampala in Uganda. This however is still undecided. Herb Cook has gone down to Mombasa in Kenya to get his truck and car and the press equipment, all of which have arrived there. The press has a three ton truck and about ten tons of equipment, including a number of printing presses and a Linotype machine. Then the Cooks also have a new Ford car. Herb went to Kenya with Akulu in Landrith’s old car. They will probably have to make a second trip in order to get the rest of the freight as well as the Ford car.

A couple of weeks or so ago the Landrith family and the Dix family drove in here at almost the same time. They are all on the way to America via Egypt. Mrs. Landrith was not well and I felt she ought to avoid the long Nile boat trip if possible. Dixes thought they were booked on the Nile steamer, but at the last minute learned their bookings had been cancelled. And so Landrith, Dix and I made a trip to Juba to see if they could get air passage. They were able to make arrangements with the R.A.F. at Juba to take them at least as far as Khartoum. But that little trip alone would have cost the Dix family around $800. They were all booked on a steamer going from Alexandria to New York, sailing the 21st of May, and the time was getting very short. And so Dix decided he would like to try to drive to Khartoum from Juba (1). He was told the road was almost sure to be impassible in the wet season, and he had already sold his old car. But even so he went all the way to Dungu to borrow Hubers’ car. Then he had to telegraph to the Governor at Stanleyville for a permit to take the car out of the Congo, and had to wait several days for that. At Juba they were again told that the road was all muddy and that it would be impossible to make the trip. But Dix finally persuaded the Governor to at least let him try it at his own risk. Well, it turned out that there was no rain during the whole trip and the roads were quite good.  In fact they had no trouble of any kind and arrived at Kosti after 2 ½ days driving time. At Kosti there is a train which takes them a long way north to Wadi Halfa where they get a steamer for a short Nile trip, then another train to Cairo and Alexandria.  They telegraphed us from Kosti, but we don’t know as yet whether they were able or not to get Alexandria in time to catch their steamer. They put the car on the Nile steamer at Kosti to return it to Juba, and when it arrives there either Huber or I will go there to get it. Dixes took Tito, Yoto’s son along with them on the trip, and he will return on the steamer with the car. Landrith took a plane as far as Khartoum, but we don’t know yet how they got along from there. I wouldn’t be surprised if you should get a letter from them one of these days telling all about the trip (I mean, the Dixes).

Aunt Rose Mary is now living in Eddie’s house. She is going to take charge of the Women’s School.  Her old house is to be torn down and a new small one built for her using the materials from the old house.

We have finally got the tarabai working on tile making, and they are turning out about a hundred a day. This may be doubled after a while as we have had two more molds made. It’s a question of getting enough men. Today we had the roof of our cookhouse removed. The timbers under the tiles were in very bad shape, and they are being replaced by new-sawn timbers. We are also having some more single room medical houses built in the native quarters. The new ones will have tile roofs, and we hope eventually to have all the medical buildings so covered. But that will take a long time. Pray with us for this. 

They have been having some especially good meetings in the Kakwa tarabai lately, and recently our old Yoto got up in one of the meetings and said he wanted to take the Lord as his Savior, that all these years he had been hearing the Gospel but had never really given his heart to the Lord. They say it made a great impression and that many people were in tears. I’m sure you will be happy to hear about it.

Another bit of good news is that we have recently had word that the X-Ray apparatus that we ordered will be shipped early in June. It will be a great day when that arrives, and I’m sure it will prove a big help in the work. We are still waiting for word concerning a car, but the latest we heard was that Mr. Schuit had said the dealers are all playing Black Market tricks with new cars, selling only to those who have old cars to turn in, and paying three or four hundred dollars less for the old cars than they are really worth. And so thus far we are still without a decent car, but we keep hoping that we will have better news one of these days. 

I recently had a bit of vacation – a week in bed with a streptococcus infection of the arm. I had removed a small wart with the electric cautery some time before and then neglected the wound, which became infected. And so I had a chance to try out the Sulfa drugs, and found they worked me almost worse than the disease. But they cleared up the infection at last and now my vacation is over. What with that week out and all the visitors we have been having lately the surgical cases have been piling up on us again. We got three of them done today and will tackle some more tomorrow. 

Jim LaFourneau is at Aba just now, on vacation. He has been running a freight boat on the Aruwimi river for the SHUN. He has been thinking of going to South Africa for his vacation, but I imagine he will spend some time around here anyway.

When Eddie was in East Africa to get his car he met a relative of Evart Kleinhans (2), who said that Evart was soon going to America to Bible School, probably Biola.

Guess this is as good a place as any to stop. Good Night. And a very very happy Vacation!

With love mingi,

1.  This is a distance of 1,155 miles, a formidable trip even now. Google calculates it as 29 hours driving on today's roads.
2.  This is Evert Kleynhans, who eventually married my aunt Edith. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Aba, Belgian Congo - April 24, 1946

In which Ralph and Coralee describe the many comings and goings of missionaries traveling through Aba. 

Dear Darlings,
Your letters have been very precious and I do thank you for being so faithful in writing. They have comforted my weary heart and encouraged me. These have been days too full for words. Daddy was away at the F.C. for a whole week and life was too hectic for words.

Misses Wightman and Utting left for furlough this last week. Daddy is telling of the other comings and goings. Marube and all the boys have been so helpful. I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't! This is the last week of womens school and Boys school. Miss Gingrich was pleased to see how well the boys had come on. I am so glad about that. Aunt Rose Mary will be coming back home soon  now when the Kerstettles come back which may be any day.

We're beginning to get the Stam house ready in case Langfords come ere long. It's a real "matongo" over there with lots of jamba.

Now about clothes - thank  you for telling me in detail about your things. Do get new shoes when you need them and other things. I want you to have things that you need. You can always get up to $50 by writing to the Mission office. We've told them to send money when you request it. I think it is very wonderful how the Lord has cared for your needs and I am so thankful and pleased at all your cooperation. The idea of keeping an account is helpful and I am glad you are doing it. You know I'm so proud of you both sometimes I tell the Lord it's too wonderful. All the hard things seem easy when I remember how wonderfully God has cared for you both who are the dearest on earth to us. We are much in prayer for your future.  The DuBoses will never fully know how much we appreciate all their loving help.  Never will we forget it. It was so nice of them to give you new dresses. They do too much. I wonder what we can do for them. Have you any ideas?

The Epps and Mr. Bill have left for furlough. Pauls hope to go very soon and Brashlers before very long. Harters are assigned to go to Blukwa to have charge of the station when they return.

We have been having lots of rain.  It looks like spring now and it is so nice.

My time has gone and so I'll close here. My dear girls I hope you receive some letters soon. Yours have been reaching us quickly. This mail we had yours of March 31 and the written regular mail.  All you tell us of your good times help us to picture you and your life there. Your report cards were perfectly lovely. Congratulations to you both.

Now dear dear girlies goodbye and much much love to you both,

Dearest Edith and Esther,
Just as I got this far we heard a car coming and thought it was the Imhoffs coming from Bafuka on their way home to Putu, but it turned out to be only a Kurukwata truck. We expect the Imhoffs will arrive some time this afternoon however for they are planning to catch the boat at Rhinocamp next Sunday. Then on May 1st we expect to see the Dix family and the Landriths, as they too are leaving for furlough.  But they will be going via the Nile. Miss Wightman and Miss Utting left via the Nile last week. But while we're glad to see folks being able to go home for much needed furloughs, we are also glad to see others returning. And now that the Nile route is being used by so many we are getting to see quite a few of those who are returning to the field.

You have probably already received word of the fact that Eddie and Nellie have arrived, and that they are already hard at work at Blukwa in the Evangelist School I saw them at Rethi last week at the meeting of the field Council. The next ones to arrive after the Schuits were the Hubers. They are stationed at present at Dungu, while awaiting the decision of the Mission as whether or not F.E.A. field is to be kept up by the A.I.M or to be turned over to the Mid Africa Mission in F.E.A. Then last week Miss Gingrich arrived, and she is already on her own in her house. And last Sunday morning at 2AM, the Cook family and Miss Ruth Meredith arrived from Juba, having flown down from Cairo.  We had not expected them for two or three weeks. Miss Lois (Basha) Uhlinger was also in their party but was left behind at Khartoum. Mr. and Mrs. Uhlinger had received a telegram from her and had arrived at Aba on Saturday, just a couple of hours after I came back from Rethi. Then Sunday morning they went to Juba and got Lois, who arrived there by air while they were there, and they returned to Aba Sunday evening. Miss Short had come to Aba with me for a little medical attention, and Mr. Huber also, and so we had a big crowd here over the weekend and - the Cooks, the Uhlingers, Miss Short, Miss Meredith, and Mr. Huber.  Huber will take the Imhoffs to Aru tomorrow and come back the next day, and the following day probably leave for Dungu. Miss Short will be here until next week, and then the Dixes and Landriths will be here. This week end I expect to go to Todro. The Kerstetters are now in Egypt, and we will not be surprised to see them arrive by air any day. And so you see we are having plenty of excitement; and all this, while pleasant, doesn't help us get our work done.

Last week also our freight finally arrived at Aba, and yesterday I got them out of the Customs. The boxes are still on our veranda, unopened, as we have not had time to open them, with all these people here. However there are not many things really exciting in them. We are still waiting for some drugs and surgical supplies that we ordered after arriving here. And yesterday I cabled final instructions about the X-Ray. I suppose we will have to wait another six months or more for that. The thing we were needing most is the car. The car strikes have held that up and so far we have had no news whatever from Mr. Schuit. In the meanwhile we are still running around in the little Chev Roadster, but at least it has brakes that work now, after having driving it 2000 miles without any brakes at all. Being an open car it is not much good for long trips in the rainy season, but I guess we are fortunate to have a car that runs at all these days.

Mose Mude has just returned from a bush conference at Bagali where Enoka Wulinga is the teacher. You may remember him as our bedroom boy of years ago. Mose was full of good news about the time they had at the conference, and said that six people had made profession of faith and about twenty Christians had come back into fellowship with the Lord. The Kapita of the village had attended the meetings with twenty of his men. Soseten Diriba and Yosefa Dropa, former medical boys who are now outschool teachers near Bagali also attended the conference.

Thanks for all your good letters. It certainly is great to get them and we are very sorry that we have not written for so long a time. We are very happy that you are enjoying your time at DuBose so well, and that you are profiting so much by it. Congratulations to both of you on your excellent grades. The reports arrived last mail. We're proud of you and glad for you!  We are eagerly looking forward to the next "Esse", and hope it will have lots of good pictures in it. The two photos you send were good, and brought back memories of the day we were there. Hope you'll be able to send more soon.  But don't send any films for our camera, I think we will be able to get some before very long from Leopoldville.  Many thanks just the same.

The Lord bless you,

Landriths - probably Loren and Henrietta Landrith, missionaries with the Africa Inland Mission.

General Motors strike - from November 21, 1945 to March 13, 1946, the UAW organized a strike against General Motors, who produced both Dodge and Chevrolet cars.
F.E.A. - French East Africa, I believe.
Mid-Africa Mission - More info here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Aba, Belgian Congo - March 26, 1946

In which Coralee writes about a "hot, hard day", and Ralph sends oodles of love and a flower to his girls.

Dear, dear girls,
Your letters have been so good and they have come through very quickly.  Yours of March 4th reached us March 18. That is lovely! It makes the absence seem less.

This has been a long hot, hard day. Eddie and Nellie and Uncle John left us this morning. Eddie and Nellie are to be in the Evangelist school at Blukwa. We are so sorry they will not be here, but the need is very great there and so they are happy to fill in. We hope and pray that they may soon come back to us here. The Epps hope to go for furlo as soon as possible and the Brashlers too. 

Uncle John came and spent the weekend here.  He always brings a blessing. He is just the same.  Miss Wightman came in with Uncle John and also Aunt Rose Mary. Miss Wightman and Miss Utting plan to leave for England April 21. Aunt Rose Mary is to be at Todro with Miss Settles until someone comes out to help in the work there. Just now she too is here because her boxes came and she wanted some things out of them.

A cable has come saying Miss Gingrich is coming by clipper on March 21. So we hope to be able to welcome her soon. Cooks, Basha, Uhlinger and several single ladies hope to sail the end of March.  The need is very great.  So we hope many will soon come.

We are in the midst of reroofing the white hospital. It is a tremendous job not only in size but because of the high eaves.  The roof leaked so badly we couldn't have used the building in the rains. We are disappointed that no tiles were made for it while we were at home.

drawn on the back of very thin aerogramme paper
Ralph's gara lily
We have had several good rains and it is lovely and green, real spring-like.  The red lilies are simply gorgeous. Eddie took a lot of colored pictures.  That reminds me that Father Schuit wrote that the colored pictures Eddie took of us as a family were very nice. It may be you will have received yours. I hope so. Thank you for the snaps you enclosed. They were very interesting. Hope the next ones will be better and give us a clearer idea of what our daughters look like. Someday I hope you can have a better camera. So glad you persevered in fixing the film Edith.

I have written on this paper because Daddy drew this "red" lily from some on the desk here.  He didn't want me to send it but I know you'll like it. He says he can do better and I hope he will be good and do it.

We are enclosing a check for $50.00 for you both. We would like for you to use as much of it as you need for some new evening gowns or if there's something else you need or want more that is okay with us as long as it is for you both.

My suggestion would be white evening dresses that you might use in Wheaton if the way should be open for you to go there. As I remember many of the girls wore white there. But you feel free to choose as you prefer. This is for your birthdays. We thought to send it now so you could have it for all the special events before Commencement.

Get the pajamas and other things you need and send the bill to the mission. We love the way you girls so carefully think of the cost of things. That is lovely but it makes us long all the more that every need be met for you deserve the very best, and we mean for you to have it as much as is possible. 
Some day when you go shopping would you look for a couple of patterns for me. Something neat and tailored. Something you think would do for me. Thanks a lot.  Also a nightie pattern. Now I'd better close here and see to other things.
With a heart full of love,

Dearest girls,
Your old Dad is very tired tonight as we have been getting to bed late with the company here, and up very early for the meetings.  But I must at least say hello, and many thanks for your fine and cheery letters. We are happy that you are happy and we trust the Lord will continue to bless you as He has been doing.

We are still waiting for news about a car to be sent to us.  We have heard that the Dodge strike is over and so maybe a car will soon be sent us. But we have written to Mr. Schuit saying we would prefer a Chevrolet as they are cheaper to run, and gas is a real item out here. But Chevrolet is still on strike and so he may have already bought a Dodge.

The rainy season is very near and we are glad! 
Oodles of love,


Aba, Belgian Congo - March 20, 1946

In which Eddie Schuit writes to Edie and Esther about Aba.

Africa Inland Mission
March 20, 1946

Dear Edith & Esther,
Greetings from Home!  We wish you could be here, these spring days when rainy season isn't far away and when the hot dry days are about gone. The red lilies are all out today and the clear skies make the hills so clear out Todro way.  There's still the gara winds to keep one form perspiring too much, and its one of the nicest times of the year at Aba.

Now I know you can just about picture your house - your Mother walking down the path in her white dress to talk to men fixing soli for the hospital roof, and we found your Dad tapping his finger on a black man's chest down in the ward of the hospital which is so typical of our Africa Doctor - so the machinery at Aba and Hospital Hill moves along.

The ol' homestead is exactly like it used to be, except for the two big mango trees which used to stand in front of the house. Nothing has changed outside of that.

We have been living in the annex for several weeks now, (eating with your Mother and Dad) and it's been grand to awaken in the morning fresh and cool, listen to the hymns being sung on the dispensary porch, and realize that men and women are hearing the life-giving story of Jesus and His death on Calvary.

There have been a number of remarkable conversions lately, and one can see the Lord working in various ways. There's no doubt at all that His hand is upon this place and His presence dwells here.
There's a real need still for more helpers in the harvest field - "the laborers are few" and that's never been more true than present. So it's our duty to do what the rest of the verse says, "Pray ye therefore..."

Your letters have been good to read, and we praise the Lord for caring for you in such a wonderful way. May He continue to guide you in your future days. We'll be praying for you about all this.

I just went down to Kenya to get the little Chev - that we rode about Hawthorne in, and now it is here at Aba. I wish that I could have bought your Daddy's car out too, for he needs a better car than he's got. You'd have lots of fun in the roadster though, and the rumble seat is nice and comfortable - except when it rains!!!

Akubu, Yoane Kusala, Mose Muda, Timeteo Tiriaba, Ysefa Drupa, Kibi, etc. are still on the job and are the old faithfuls abou the work - pray for them.

Will close now. We think of you and speak of you often.

Love, in Him,

I John 3:1-3

I believe this letter is from Eddie Schuit, a very close friend of the family. Click here for his obituary.