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. 

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