Monday, October 28, 2019

Aba, Belgian Congo - January 13, 1947

In which Coralee catches the girls up on station news, x-ray machines, leopards, and steamers running aground. 

Aba, Belgian Congo, January 13, 1947

Dear dear girls,

Best Wishes for a very happy and Blessed New Year. Every day you have been especially in our thoughts and prayers. We are looking forward to your letters, that will tell us about your Christmas again.

Since I last wrote to you from Oicha I’ll begin from there.  We were able to leave Oicha on Saturday December 28 and Daddy drove to Blukwa that day. We started early and had a couple of hours at Nyankundi, then took the neuf highway, arriving at Blukwa about 5PM. It was nice to see Eddie and Nellie and Ruthie again.  We stayed with them until New Years. We left them early January 1st and came all the way home, even with two hours at Aru for lunch. We got home at 4:30pm. It was good to get home even though it was hot, and a rush of things met us right away.

The days at Blukwa were very quiet as Daddy wasn’t very strong, and neither was Nellie, and Eddie was very busy after their 7-week stay at Oicha. It wasn’t cold, and since it was very dry, most of the pretty flowers were gone. We walked around the roads a lot and I was often remembering the weekend which we spent there together. The Hubers were there in the rest house. Williams were getting settled in Stough’s house. Verna and Martha were having nice times together. Also, Edwin and Lester Huber. [personal, redacted]

We had to come home on January 1st because of many things. One was that the Haggars from near Yei (1) were due to come to the hospital for a baby also Mrs. Carolides and a Greek woman from Faradje and Mrs. Ziehl from Aba Poste SHUN (2). Also, on the 1st Daddy began to be responsible for the SHUN Medical Clinic both white and black. He goes down each morning about 10:30 to a dispensary down there. It has been a busy time for him getting things started down there. Also there has been quite a lot of surgical operations.

The Carolides baby came on Saturday night, it is a boy. The other children were so cute when they saw it the next day. They are staying in the Appendix (3) and I am taking care of her.

Today the Schlippes were here. Mrs. Schlippe wasn’t well. The girls Marissa (4) and Titule will be going back to school in a day or two. Marissa is tall and needs glasses very badly.

Yesterday Francis Sevec was here. He said a SHUN car hit a hyena near Kurukwata and killed it. Daddy saw it in the Poste. He said it was huge.

The big news is that Yoane Kusala (6) killed another leopard. He set his trap for wild pigs that were ruining his garden and when he went down at noon he found it had caught an enormous leopard. (5) He speared it alone. We do thank the Lord for sparing him for that is a very dangerous thing to do. We will have the skin this time. It will be a nice souvenir but not such a pretty skin as the one before. Mary bought that one.

The other big news is that the X-ray has arrived. We were surely thrilled to have this equipment actually here after so many years of prayer and longing. Today as Daddy unpacked it, he was almost in tears he was so disappointed to find one big case missing. He will not be able to use it until this arrives. Pray with us that it will come soon. It apparently is in Congo as near as we can tell from the papers.

Mr. Langford arrived back from Mombasa (7) this evening with his new Chevrolet 4-door sedan and trailer. Just before supper I said to Daddy, "Let’s go over and see the Langford children", we hadn’t seen them since our return from Oicha. We met Mrs. Landford and the children out for a walk near the church, so I said to them, “let’s go and see if we can find Daddy (Langford)”, thinking they would love a ride and that we might find their Daddy at the Poste, as he had been expected for days. Sure enough there he was in front of the Customs. Were they ever excited! It was lots of fun to see them get out of our car and greet their Daddy.

He brought the news that Amstutz, Piersons, and the Herbert Downings and Kenneth Downings are due to arrive in Mombasa on the 15th. Also that the steamer that was bringing Van Deusen's car and trailer and also Harter's had gone aground on a reef in South Africa and that it may be their things are ruined. We are surely sorry about this delay and loss.

No more news as yet about a car for us. We have been hoping they would be able to get a new one for us and that we can sell this Mercury as it takes a lot of gas. But already it has been a real help to us. Especially enabling us to go to Oicha for Daddy’s operation (8) and now the daily needs here. It has been a real help to him to have a reliable car.

We have been praying very especially about your future training and are longing to know if there are any new developments. Also, we’d like to know how you’d like to spend this coming summer before going into school We would love to see you spend some of it – the biggest part – in Hawthorne, New Jersey. It might be possible for you to help in some way and get to know the folks at the church there better. I hope to get time to write to someone there soon and see if anything can be arranged. (9)

Also, did you apply to Wheaton? It seems to me you said you had. Did you have a reply? We wondered if you were accepted, if you’d be interested in going there and entering the five-year plan. No doubt Dr. DuBose knows what this plan is if you don’t. It’s an arrangement so you have more time to work and help support yourselves. If you’d want to do this, you know we’ll surely help in every way we can. Always we’ve wanted you to go to college, mostly because you are good students and deserve the best. Also, all the young folks in Daddy’s family have gone to college. We have hoped that you too might also, because of the testimony it would be to them and to others of how the Lord does care for those who are in full-time service. Let’s continue to pray about it all. If Moody is His choice, we’ll surely be happy about that, but if it’s Wheaton we’ll be equally happy.

So far, the dry season hasn’t been bad. We’ve had several rains and a number of days when there has been a cool west wind. It has been a real help to us. For about a week we slept with blankets.

They had a blessed time here Christmas, although we were sorry to be away and miss seeing the folks. There were 3,200 and 33 were baptized. Mary had 600 children in the special Children’s service on Sunday and again on Christmas morning. The Lord has been blessing. Keep on praying for greater things.

The hospital is full. We need more beds so much, and more houses for patients.

My time has gone and so I’ll close here. Much much love to you both and lots of greetings from many black and white friends.

Your loving Mother

P.S. Daddy is very well but thinner.

(1) - City in Sudan
(2) - SHUN. A transportation or trucking company.  Headquartered in Aba Poste.
(3) - Appendix is a building next the Kleinschmidt house, sort of a guest house.  Ralph nicknamed it the Appendix since it was an extra little thing.
(4) - Marissa grew up to be a translator. She knew English, Russian, French, Finnish.   Mom remembers that the original family name was De Von Schlippe.  Mr. Schlippe (prounounced "schlipp-ee") fled from Russia to Belgium, then finally to Belgian Congo and set up the plantation. Kurukwata was about 13 miles away.
(5) - Mom remembers a cave on the back side of the hill that she and Edie found, and it smelled very much of leopard.
(6) - Medical assistant who was Ralph's chief assistant during surgery.  He also killed a python once on the way to work, with a club!
(7) - Mombasa is a seaport in Kenya.
(8) - Probably a hernia operation.
(9) - In the end, the girls stayed with the Paul family in Montrose, Pennsylvania at the Bible School that summer.

Aba, Congo Belge, November 15, 1949

In which Ralph and Coralee write to supporters regarding work with leprosy patients in Azande-land. 
Dear Friends:
Last week it was possible for us to leave our medical work here for a few days to
make a hurried trip to the West to see about the new leper colonies in our Azande
Section. It was a journey of about 1200 miles thru hot, dry and rather monotonous
country but there was never a dull moment during the 6 ½ busy days we were away,
for so much was packed into each day.

It was precious to meet these groups of lepers. To renew with the ones seen last
trip, and to meet the many new lepers that have come into the Leper colonies
located in that big area stretching 500 miles west from Aba. Doctor usually sees the
lepers on the new Diasone [1] treatment first. This is always a special thrill for it is
wonderful to see the changes and improvement. The results of this Diasone
treatment has given all the lepers new hope. So far we have only had enough of this
drug to treat about 70 cases. Doctor has tried to introduce this new treatment in
each leper group, that is in each colony because everywhere these cases have been
the means of drawing in many new lepers. All of the other lepers (over 600) are
receiving Chaulmoogra [2] oil injections. This is a much slower treatment but it usually
helps treat sores to heal, and also their general condition to improve. When the new
supply of Diasone, now enroute to the field, arrives it will then be possible to add
quite a large number of lepers for this newer treatment. We hear that there is now
another new drug available which is very effective, but as yet we have not been able
to get information about it.

After seeing all the new lepers, making their diagnosis and prescribing treatment
Doctor sees each of the other lepers seen on previous visits. At Bafuka Station, our 
first stop, (200 miles west) it was very encouraging to find that the brand new village
of 20 tiny mud huts seen on our last trip had grown and not only was there a whole
row of new houses in all stages of construction, but around the houses were nice
gardens, some hens busy with their chicks, and several native dogs, added to the
picture of a real native village. Mrs. Stauffacher, the nurse in charge, said the
patients (around 70) seemed very contented and cooperated well. Mr. Stauffacher
said, “I just love to go down and visit with those lepers.” Their friendship and loving
help does much to prepare their hearts to receive the Saviour.

Our next stop was at Banda Station, 360 miles west. It was a joy to find that this
colony has made a real beginning and that now about 100 lepers were living in the
colony, in their own tiny mud huts. Last trip not a single house was then in the
colony. We gathered with this group for an early service on Sunday morning.
At the Asa Colony (500 miles west) things had become more established and the
Lord has been saving souls. The number of patients remained around 240. Some
had gone away to see about their “affairs” and quite a few new cases had come in. It
was precious to see how many had improved physically. These lepers have built a
large new chapel that would seat about 200. Miss Congleton has been having school
with them, and recently she held a Daily Vacation Bible School. I believe she said 16
out of the 20 that began, finished all the verses and showed real interest in all that
she taught them.

At Dungu the colony had become more established and there were crowds of new
cases to been seen. Some of the Diasone cases here have responded so well, it is like
a miracle! One of these is a little girl of 12, another is the eldest son of Chief Ngilima.
This has caused much comment and interest.

The Lord undertook in special ways. We were able to meet the Government
administrators in the Dungu, Ango and Faradje territories and talk over plans for
advancing the work. Continue to pray definitely regarding the establishing of these
Colonies. It now seems definite that the Government will grant us land for chapels
and dispensaries without charge, and it may be they will agree to help in other ways.
But Government formalities move terribly slow in this land, and meantime we are going
ahead caring for these lepers just as the Lord enables. At present our 9 Leper
Colonies scattered over an area of about a 1000 miles are the only active places for
treatment of lepers. But as yet we have hardly scratched the surface. There are
thousands of lepers in this area. Join us in prayer that this work may continue, and
be used to lead many of them to know the Saviour.

Here at home, our Aba lepers had a real treat last week when Doctor was able to
buy gunpowder and one of the men shot an antelope. Meat is a real treat and we
rejoice with them for we had been unable to provide any meat for them for at least
2 years. We have been enlarging our brick leper chapel to 3 times its former size
because so many new lepers have entered.

Here in the hospital the Lord has been blessing in our medical work, and in recent
days, not only have souls been saved but it has been our privilege to help many
Christians who steadily have real physical needs. Samwele, the youngest son of
Yakebe Sulimani, one of our oldest Christians, has been here in the hospital some
weeks very ill with tuberculosis and bilharzia [3], a very bad combination. Last week
he became critically ill and it seemed he was very near the end, but the Lord has
undertaken and now for several days he has regained consciousness and seems very
happy and radiant. So here again it has been precious to minister to him and the
many needy folks that come daily. There has also been a lot of surgery.

Yesterday Doctor left to take one of our native nurses out to the Maitulu Station in
the mines section to the Southeast. Remember Enosa in special special prayers he
begins the work in the new dispensary and also caring for the lepers in that dark and
difficult section.

Remember to pray for our native nurses for they join in every part of our dispensary
and hospital work. They are earnest Christians. This year’s class of 15, from 8 mission
stations in this section, have been doing good work. Finding time for classes is often a
real problem for us, with all the many demands of each day.

To you each we send our sincere thanks for your interest, and prayers, and also for
the generous gifts, that have done so much to make this work possible. We know
our Father will return richly to you all that you have done in His dear Name. We are
asking Him daily to remember and to give you many blessings. 

With our grateful thanks, Ralph and Coralee

1.  Diasone is a sulfa drug that was used in the treatment of leprosy. It does not cure, but does improve symptoms in many patients.  The drug was being trialed in Carville, Louisiana beginning in 1940, so the use in Congo is interesting.   
2.  Chaulmoogra oil is an older treatment. It was usually administered by injection since taking it by mouth induced severe nausea in a significant number of patients.  At Kivuvu, the leprosarium and hospital where my parents worked for several years, we had a small planting of chaulmoogra trees.  When we left in 1973, they were about 6 feet tall. I do not know their current status. 

3.  Bilharzia is another name for sleeping sickness, a parasitic infection.    

Aba, Congo Belge, Africa, August, 1949

In which Ralph and Coralee write to their supporters in the United States regarding the ongoing work in Congo. 

Dear Friends:
I will lead them in paths that have not known, I will make darkness light before
them, and crooked things straight...”
He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by springs of waters shall He
guide them...”.
[personal, redacted]
In recent months there have been many new experiences along with the duties of
each day. Life on “hospital hill” is never dull. Often there are weariness and stress
and strain in caring for the sick, but there are also many joys, and we praise the Lord
for all the help and blessing that He provides. During this year a good deal of time
and effort has gone into construction of new buildings and repair of old. The biggest
of these jobs was the remodeling of the dispensary building, which included the
addition of some new rooms and an entirely new roof with tiles to replace the grass.

It was well worth the effort for new the building is much more convenient and more
fire-proof as well. We are hoping to start soon to put a tile roof on the other main
hospital building, as it houses a good deal of valuable equipment and the fire hazard
is a very real one.

Long journeys have been made during the past year in an effort to establish new
leper colonies at nine of our stations in the section of our field. A beginning has been
made so that more than five hundred lepers are now under treatment at these
various places. Government formalities are still pending, but we trust this part of the
work may be developed into a means of reaching many of the lepers for the Lord.
We would especially value your prayer help that these colonies may be established
without undue restriction.

This year’s class of “nurses” or “medical boys” has settled in nicely. There are fifteen
students, coming from eight mission stations, all of them Christians who plan to
serve the Lord in ministering to the sick on their own stations after their period of
training is completed. The class work and the supervision of their practical work
helps make a full schedule, but it’s all in the days work.

The surgery has been a strenuous part of the job and somehow we never seem to be
able to catch up with the waiting list. There is enough of variety to keep it
interesting. This department more than any other enables us to reach patients from
far afield, for they readily walk two or three hundred miles for an operation. One of
the recent “interesting cases” was an old man who walked about two hundred miles
from his village in the Sudan for a cataract operation. He had waited over a year to
come because his mother, whom he needed to lead him, had no dress to wear.
Somehow a dress materialized, for she proudly wears it every day. And he too is very
pleased with himself now that he can see again, and it’s fun to watch him walk up to
 the Gospel service in the morning on his own and not at his mother’s apron strings.
And her grin is as broad as his.

Our warm greetings to each of you, together with sincere thanks for your prayers,
your letters, and your gifts, all of which have been a great help in the work here.

May his blessing be yours daily in a very special way.
Yours in His service, Ralph and Coralee Kleinschmidt