By Malcolm Forsberg, supplemented with correspondence collected by Marian N. Kraft, compiled and edited by Robert A. Kraft
Land Beyond the Nile was originally published by Harper & Brothers in 1958 (reissued by Moody Press, Chicago, 1967) with copyright by Malcolm Iver Forsberg (1908-1991). Permission to reuse these materials was obtained by Robert A. Kraft from Malcolm's widow Enid Miller Forsberg in a letter postmarked 18 October 2004. Enid Miller Forsberg is daughter of the late Irving Charles Miller (1886-1941), and first cousin of Robert A. Kraft's mother Marian Northrop Kraft (daughter of Irving's sister Margaret).
[Adapted from a publisher's blurb:] The Forsbergs taught the people of southwestern Ethiopia to read, helped them to recognize and abandon old superstitions, preached the evangelical gospel and set an example of Christian living. Part one of Land Beyond the Nile, which is reproduced below, covers 1934-1937, with their wedding in Ethiopia during their first assignment, to start a station in Gofa, southwest Ethiopia, and their expulsion after the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Part two deals with the Forsbergs later ministry in the mysterious and mystifying semiarid Sudan, with its famine, polygamy and baffling taboos, where they also translated parts of the Christian Bible into native languages, and shared in privations and perils among the primitive Uduks -- all this while struggling to raise their four children. Malcolm and Enid Forsberg were first appointed by the Sudan Interior Mission [SIM, now renamed Serving in Mission] in 1934, to the Gamo area in Ethiopia, and secondly in 1939 to the Chali Station in the Sudan.
[[Part I (Ethiopia) was scanned by RAK 21se2004; letters collected by Marian N. Kraft, scanned/typed & added by RAK and student-worker Elizabeth Rosado; on 15de2004 RAK found the original letters from which MNK had prepared her typescript, and another copy of the typescript.
Part II (Sudan) will be added; RAK discovered the relevant letters in July 2011, and has indexed them to facilitate the digitization process. ]]
[see the more
detailed map with some towns located, the satellite
map, and basic information]
First the blade …
1. The Evil Eye
2. Our African Home
3. Africa Began at Wheaton
4. We Go Our Separate Ways
5. Some Trust in Horses
6. Till Death Do Us Part
7. African Honeymoon
8. "And Rumors of Wars"
10. Some Were Healed
11. "The Orange and the Blue"
12. "They That Wait upon the Lord…"
II. THE ANGLO-EGYPTIAN SUDAN
... then the ear ...
13. We Get Married Again
14. Return to Aftica
15. Up the Blue Nile
16. The Uduk People
17. The Polygamy Problem []
18. The Night the Wind Blew
19. "For of Such Is the Kingdom..
20. We Accentuate the Negative
21. A Name for God
22. The End of the Rainbow
23. Our First Uduk Convert
25. "These Died in Faith . . ."
III. THE SUDAN
... the full corn in the ear
26. War Babies
27. Back to Chali
28. The Uduks "Do the Paper"
29. The Road to Heaven
30. Furlough at Last
31. A School for Our Children
32. A School for Our African Children
33. Our Daughter Is Born
34. "And Children in This Life"
35. "The Power That Worketh"
A group of illustrations follows page 128
THIS STORY had to be autobiographical. There was no other way to write it. But the story represents the thousands who have labored more dm we and whose experiences did not always end in deliverance. And it is the story of our fellow missionaries who have given themselves gladly for Africa. They will recognize themselves, often unnamed, in the pages of this book. If I should name all of them, and place welldeserved crowns on their heads, they would unhesitatingly remove them and cast them at His feet. They are that kind of people.
I am grateful to our Sudan missionary-artist, Charles Guth, also of Wheaton, for setting aside his own important work to make the maps.
His Excellency Dr. Ibrahim Anis, the first ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to the United States, kindly granted me an interview in New York and brought me up to date on present trends in the Sudan.
His Excellency Mohammed Osman Yassin, Undersccretary for Foreign Affairs in the Sudan government, graciously rmeived me at his hotel in New York. He was there to set up his govemmenes delegation at the United Nations, of which organization the Sudan is now a member. His commentary on the place of the Sudan in world affairs was most helpful.
My appreciation also goes to the following individuals:
Janet Smith, of Tacoma, Washington, who first typed the manuscript.
The many persons who sent me pictures for the book.
The First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, Washington, for its loyalty and support over many years, and to my pastor there, Dr. Albert J. Lindsey, for giving me an office in which to work.
The Garfield Avenue Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and its pastor, Dr. William E. Kuhnle. None of our supporters has prayed more earnestly or given more liberally than these.
The Fint Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, California, and its pastor, the Rev. Frank Matthews, for providing me with a place in which to write. []
The First Presbyterian Church in Flushing, New York, and its pastor, the Rev. Louis F. Hutchins. The church has contributed to our support during most of our time in Aftica, and while I was in New York City, working on the final draft of the manuscript, the Hutchinses welcomed my farmily.
Friends and officers of our Mission in our New York headquarters, who put up with me during this time.
Dr. A. D. Helser, General Director, Sudan Interior Mission, the Rev. Guy W. Playfair, General Director Emeritus, and Dr. M. A. Danoch, Home Director, who gave their blessing to my writing.
It is a source of deep satisfaction that I can write of the work of the Sudan Interior Mission with complete confidence and affection. We have carried on our missionary labors in this organization during all our adult lives. Many of our happiest friendships have been formed within its membership. Without the Sudan Interior Mission there would have been no book.
It was while taking a course in nonfiction writing at the Adult Education Center in Santa Barbara, California, in the spring of 1956, that I received my first real indication of where I was going. As part of my homework, I turned in a chapter of this book which was already under way, The instructor, Chet Holcombe, of the Santa Barbara News-Press, read it to the class and asked for criticism. The favorable response encouraged me to continue.
Some missionaries go abroad over the protests of their parents. In 1933, my mother said she would mortgage her home if by doing so she could help me go. I hope I have brought some of her loyalty to the Lord into my work and into the writing of this book.
When I launched out on this uncharted literary sea, I needed help. Virginia Matson plotted my course and Muriel Fuller brougbt me to harbor. I owe a great debt of gratitude to them.
Eleanor Jordan of Harper & Brothers took a personal interest in my manuscript and guided it through the editorial shoals.
Enid and the children, with their courage and devotion, made the writing of the book possible. Without the prayers and support of God's people back home through the years, nothing would have been possible.
====[Part I, chapter 1 (background)]
IT WAS only seven-thirty but already the sun had risen high and hot over our African home. We were sitting in the living room, our after-breakfast devotions completed, and our daughter Dorothy, blonde, curly-headed, not yet two, had toddled out the door to where her two friends were waiting. They were daughters of native Christian couples and together they disappeared down the path toward the clinic to see what new babies might be there.
Enid, my wife, was preparing for her class when Mona, our first convert in the Uduk tribe, suddenly appeared at the back door.
The woman has come!" he said. The Uduks do not show excitement easily and Mona was plainly excited. His eyes, trained to conceal rather than to reveal feeling, were alight.
"What woman?" we asked, as we both tried to get through the screen door at the same time.
"The woman has come with her twins," he said.
So certain were the superstitious Uduks that twins brought calamity, that up to the present time none had been allowed to live. The non-Christian Uduk women were killing their twin babies at birth.
We ran down the steps and out into the yard. There, in the shade of a tree, sat Doatgay. Her short hair was matted with red oil and dirt, and although she was still young, wrinkles were forming. Her face was haggard, her eyes pleading. She held her babies but did not press them to her breasts. Since childhood she had been told that twins were not human. Only goats had twins. She knew that even though the babies were destroyed, as the mother of twins she would be considered dangerous to her tribe. In the long years ahead she would always be suspect in any illness, death, hardship, or famine that might come to her people.
We snapped fingers -- the Uduk version of a handshake -- with Doatgay. [] I pressed the middle finger of her right hand with the thumb and middle finger of mine and she did the same to me. Then, drawing apart, I pressed hard and the act was completed with a loud snap.
As we beamed at the babies, we realized the significance of this day for us; these were the first Uduk twins we had ever seen. My mind flashed back to our early days at Chali, when we had noticed the conspicuous absence of twins and encountered a frustrating secrecy about multiple birth. "Twins have the evil eye," the people had finally told us, shuddering.
Gradually we had learned that even to talk about twins was taboo. Then the truth was revealed: Twins were buried alive at birthi Thirteen years had passed since our first arrival at Chali. Now, unexpectedly, on this hot morning in 1952, aft opportunity such as we had prayed for was being offered.
"We are glad you have brought your twins, Doatgay." Enid measured her words carefully as we stood looking down at the trio. "We will help you take care of them."
Doatgay was the picture of misery. "I wanted to bury them," she said, "but I was afraid of the government. My people said I couldn't stay in the village with the curse on me, so I came to you."
Three years before the birth of Doatgay's babies, a mother and two women helpers had been caught in the act of burying newborn twins alive. The infants had not been saved but the British District Commissioner issued a solemn warning to the Uduks. He held a trial to which he called the elders of all the villages. He asked us to sit with him, for he knew we could be a help in this particular case. The situation called for drastic action.
"You have buried your babies alive," he began, addressing the women. "Why shouldn't I bury you alive?"
The mother of the twins and her two helpers turned their heads slightly. They were sitting sideways. The whites of their eyes showed as they looked up with the faintest trace of surprise.
"In fact," the D. C. continued, "the men will start digging the hole now." He selected several men and showed them where to begin. Then he went on: "It is the job of the government to see that the people of the country behave themselves. Nowhere does the government allow people to be killed, not even twins." He turned to the gravediggers. "How is the hole coming?"
"It's not ready yet," the men replied. At first the three women had not believed that the government official [] would actually bury them alive, but as the digging proceeded they slowly turned ash-gray. One of the women called her son to her side, and instructed him about her affairs. "Keep an eye on the red cow which is about to calve," she said. "And don't forget to pay the witch doctors. We owe them a goat."
The D. C. walked over to the grave and inspected it carefully. Then, returning to his seat, he ordered the men to stop digging. He pronounced his verdict.
"I am not going to bury you alive."
The crowd relaxed. The women sighed with relief.
"However," the D. C. said, "the mother will spend one year in prison. The others will get two years each. This is the first time we have had court about a matter like this. If it happens again, the guilty people will be hanged with a rope until they dic."
The crowd scattered, leaving the women sitting forlornly on the ground. The D. C. turned to us.
"We have no place to keep women prisoners here," he said. "I'll parole them into your care. They can spend their time grinding grain and cooking food for the school children. I gave the mother only one year because she was the victim of tribal custom. The other two are professionals. They have probably been involved before."
I was thinking of all this as Enid, Mona, and I stood looking down at Doatgay. Mona spoke:
"You don't have to be afraid of the old talk any more, Doatgay. The paper tells us that twins, too, are people. We who believe the paper are not afraid of twins. God will help you and we will help you."
"What have you named the babies?" Enid asked.
"Have twins in our tribe ever lived to have names?" Doatgay countered. "You name them."
Enid looked at me questioningly. Names do not always come easily. We had had a hard enough time naming our own children. "I know," she said at length. "The Lord has heard us in this matter of twins. We'll call them Borgay and Thoiya -- Praise and Prayer."
Thus the first twins ever allowed to live in the Uduk tribe were appropriately named. It was by such incidents that we marked our progress in a program that had started a long time ago. Looking back, there was much to remember ...
IN 1952, we had been missionaries in Africa for nearly two decades, first in Ethiopia, then, after Mussolini put us out of that newly conquered dominion, in the Sudan. The official records of the Sudan Interior Mission list us as Malcolm and Enid Forsberg, appointed in 1939 to the Chali Station of our Sudan field. On our arrival the station had consisted of one house. In 1952, there were several. Our bungalow had three small rooms in a row -- a bedroom and a bath on one end and a combination dining room and kitchen on the other, with a living room in the middle. A screened-in veranda, nine feet wide, stretched the length of the house. One end was separated by screening to form a sleeping porch, for it was usually too hot to sleep in the bedroom.
The outer walls of the bungalow were red brick veneer, with an inner layer of mud bricks which were cheaper than the burnt ones and also provided better insulation against the heat. The inner walls were plastered with a mixture of dirt and sand and were whitewashed. A ceiling of aluminum sheets was topped by a roof of corrugated iron over a framework of mahogany timbers.
In the living room we sat in solid, comfortable armchairs made by local Arab carpenters, who had also built the dining-room table of lumber sawed from native trees. The heavy furniture, so out of place in the modern American home, was perfect in our African bungalow. There were pictures on the walls, one a snow scene, and occasional tables, bookcases, and kniclkknack shelves. The windows had no glass, but there were wooden shutters, open most of the time.
At her desk Enid put the finishing touches to her Bible lesson for class. For several days she had been trying to get the Children of Israel out of Egypt but added detail and application of the lesson to the lives of the Uduk school children had made the march to the Red Sea a slow one. Today she was determined to cross it. []
I had sent the mail boys off with their donkeys. They were late starting for it had rained in the night. During the rains, mail came only once every two weeks. Air-mail letters to us reached Khartoum from New York in five days, were then sent to Kurmuk, the end of the government mail line, and delivered to us ten or fifteen days later. Two days would be spent by the mail boys slushing through mud and crossing swollen streams to cover the thirty miles to Kurmuk. Then, after a day's rest, they would start homeward with the heavy mailbags. However late the mail was, we always hunted for the familiar handwriting of our three boys -- Leigh, in boarding school in America, and James and Kim in our own Mission school in Addis Ababa.
On this September day, made memorable by the advent of the twins, I looked at the distant mountains of Ethiopia, their heads dark and majestic just across the fields. They always seemed much closer after the rain, and even after eighteen years, they still excited me. The rocky hills scattered about the plain looked like abandoned offspring of the mountains. I walked around to the front of the house. The big baobab tree was in full leaf, with nests of the white-bellied storks forming dark blobs along its branches. The young storks had hatched out in April and flown north in June. Perhaps they were in Europe, getting ready for the return flight, though they would not visit us on the southward journey.
Several years before we had planted neem trees, which are native to India, but they had not grown well in the shallow soil that covered the solid granite of our Chali knoll. Still, they did add greenness and shade during the dry season. Along the edge of the station the grass grew like a wall eight to ten feet high, stretching away into infinity. The trees in that vast expanse never grow tall, becoming twisted and stunted by the furnacelike fires that sweep through the grass in the dry season.
The Sudan is a land of birds. Perhaps Isaiah meant this land when he wrote of "the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia." A sunbird lit on a zinnia blossom nearby and helped itself to the nectar. A blue waxbill scouted along flic ground for insect food, while just beyond, a wagtail foraged, tail flipping up and down as it minced along. Overhead a flock of grain-eating finches, myriads of them, wheeled and whirred in perfect, if seemingly erratic, formation. Soon their young would be hatched out in the thousands of woven nests hanging from the tall grass down by the stream just a mile away. Then the Uduks would rob the nests before the young had their feathers, the baby birds eaten almost like candy. The bee eaters were still with us. They flashed crimson and malachite in the sun as they dived and turned [] and swooped after their prey -- bees, moths, and grasshoppers -- which they caught in their slender turned-down bills.
As I mused upon these scenes, a single line of Uduks came toward me. Instead of clothing, they were covered with red oil, and held their short-handled hoes. These were men and boys of a Chali clan on their way to the field of one of their number. They would work all morning on their knees, hoeing out the weeds and grass in the sorghum field. By one o'clock the group would return to the home of the owner of the field to spend the rest of the day drinking the beer his wife had brewed in ten-gallon earthenware pots. Dozens of men and women who had not worked in the field would also be there to drink the beer. Unfortunately, this maldistnbution of time between working and drinking resulted in small crops and there was never really enough to eat. The grain used to make beer would have gone much further as food.
I returned to the house in time to hear the mothers of Dorothy's playmates call from the back yard. They were looking for their daughters. They stood there in their clean dresses, heads clean shaven, a sharp contrast to the men and boys I had just seen. But it was not only clothing that made the difference. Their pleasant, bright, relaxed expressions set them off from the others. Each of the women held her copy of the Gospel of Mark, in Uduk. I told them I had last seen their daughters going down the path in the direction of the clinic and that by now they would be outside the school, distracting the children with their antics. The mothers laughed and went off to find them.
It was easy then to prepare my Bible lesson for the men's meeting. The contrast between the men in the front yard and the women in the back made our long efforts as missionaries seem worthwhile. It had not been a superficial change. The women believed in Christ in their hearts and the joy they felt was visible in their faces. The power of God was working. A visiting Egyptian anthropologist had once told us that the Uduk people were among the most primitive in Africa. But we believed that eventually some of the people would accept the truth that Christ died for their sins and would become Christians. Then we would teach them to read the Scriptures, which we were to translate into their language.
The Lord had been good to us and to our fellow workers. Once we had but one baptized believer, Mona. Now there were others, living settled Christian lives. A new generation of boys and girls was coming up through the school. They would not follow the old ways of their fathers.
IT ALL began in 1928 at Wheaton College in Illinois, twenty-five miles west of Chicago. Back in the First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, I had been deeply moved by the magnificent preaching of my pastor, Dr. Clarence W. Weyer, and decided to go to Wheaton to prepare for some kind of active Christian service. Its fame as a Christian college had reached the Pacific coast. Wheaton had been founded in 1860 by a sturdy Vermonter named Jonathan Blanchard, whose purpose was to provide a higher education dedicated to the elimination of the sins of slavery, intoxication, secret societies, and worldliness. I had been attracted to Wheaton by its evangelical precepts and its high moral standards.
The sun was warm and the tree-lined streets beautiful on my first day there. I made my way up the walk to Blanchard Hall, the long limestone building named for the founder and his successor-son, Charles A. Blanchard. It was on top of a small rise known as College Hill, from which a wide expanse of lawn sloped gently, dotted with hardwood trees. I remembered reading in the college catalog that the east wing had been completed the previous year. The building was indeed nicely balanced. Dominating the center of the structure was the Tower, the architectural heart of the college. The annual was called The Tower, and I remembered also that the bell in the Tower was rung to announce athletic victories and engagements.
It did not take long to see the whole campus. There were the women's dormitory, the chapel shared with the College Church of Christ, the cracker-box gymnasium, and the Academy building. But Wheaton was growing, and even then enrollment had to be limited, so numerous were the applications from prospective students. As materialism and an agnostic interpretation of science and life increased in secular universities and [] even in once-Christian colleges, the popularity of Wheaton and colleges like it expanded. In the 1950's Wheaton, with facilities for only fifteen hundred students, would be receiving seven thousand applications a year.
I took my place with the Class of '32. There were six hundred students in the college and a sense of belonging came very quickly. I found I could enter wholeheartedly into every activity. Chapel was daily and compulsory in the same way that it had been compulsory at home to appear at the table three times a day. The services were seldom dull though the student body was critical. The rare speaker who was dull soon found himself looking into a sea of bored faces. The one who had something worthwhile to present could hardly find a more responsive audience.
One day during the first term of my freshman year, a missionary from the Congo was the chapel speaker. He told of representatives of tribes in the Congo coming to him and begging for preachers and teachers to help them. There were never enough. So impressed was I by the lack of opportunity they had to hear the gospel compared to the opportunities thrown away in the United States, that I left the service convinced that God wanted me to meet some similar need in Africa. This is a conviction that sometimes takes months or years to mature. My experience, for which I was wholly unprepared, was compressed into minutes. It had never occurred to me before that day that the Lord might want me to serve Him in a foreign land.
Most of my college days still lay ahead of me. I earned much of the money I needed for my college expenses shoveling coal into the furnaces of the college heating plant and raking ashes out. I had time for lectures and student activities, parties and musicals, too. Wheaton was fun and deeply satisfying.
My second year, Enid Miller arrived on the campus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She, too, was a Presbyterian. On her father's side she came from the same Pierpont family from which Jonathan Edwards took his wife [Sarah]. Enid's English mother and Yankee father had moved their family to Wisconsin from Waterbury, Connecticut, about the time Enid entered high school. When she was ready for college, she had wanted to go with her high school friends to the University of Wisconsin. However, her mother felt she needed the atmosphere of a Christian college and urged her to consider Wheaton. Enid finally agreed, if she could transfer to Wisconsin at the end of her freshman year.
The fall evangelistic services were held early in the new term. Enid soon realized that she was not a born-again Christian. The visiting minister [] said there had to be a personal acceptance of Christ as Savior. She decided for Christ and the University of Wisconsin was not mentioned again.
Enid was full of life and ideas so it was quite natural that she should be elected social chairman of the freshman class. I was attracted by her naturally curly brown, hair, her ready smile, and the fascinating little wrinkles on her forehead when she was in deep thought. Her head reached to my shoulder (I was about an inch less than six feet) but she made up in drive and zeal what she lacked in height. At that time I was eating at various boardinghouses around town.
She saw a youth with blond hair, a first-generation American, as my parents had both been born in Sweden. I regret to say a shock of hair usually hung down over one eye, and my nose was as high as my Scandinavian cheekbones. My friends frequently remarked on the size and shape of my nose, but I found it provided a firm saddle for the horn-rimmed glasses I wore through college.
It was midwinter before Enid even knew who I was. One night at ten below zero the freshmen were going on a sleigh ride. As social chairman, Enid arranged for the sleigh to be at the Tower entrance at eight o'clock. I heard about the plans and, asserting my privileges as a sophomore, called the livery stable and told them not to send the sleigh. In the furor that followed, I was exposed as the culprit.
That autumn Enid and several friends were subjected to lengthy discipline for a campus prank, and they were sent home for a week to reflect on their conduct. When I overheard two of my friends planning to date Enid and her companions on their return to the campus, I thought it a good idea. I decided to get ahead of the rest by writing her a letter, but when she returned to college, she and her friends were not permitted to attend social or athletic functions for the remaining four months of the term. All I could do was say "Hello." I had to progress the hard way.
At that time I was eating at various boardinghouses around town. When I learned that Enid was working behind the counter of the college cafeteria, I changed my habits and joined the slow-moving line there. I had plenty of time to observe her. She seemed to be the center of the banter behind the counter, with a word and smile for each person. I had complicated matters for her by writing, now she had to face me in line. She blushed slightly as she served me, wrinkling her nose when I turned away.
Friday nights were sacred to the half-dozen college literary societies, but as these meetings were regarded as social events, Enid and her [] friends could not go. To fill in that time, the assistant dean of women met with them and told of her former work among the Navajo Indians. This meeting was followed by prayer for missionaries all over the world. Enid's heart was stirred. Missionary speakers from Africa also moved her and by midterm she realized that Africa was looming large on her horizon.
[From a letter to MNK dated 2 May 1930, near the end of Enid's freshman year: "Are having a Missionary's Alliance conference here this week and they're holding some splendid meetings. Went to one this afternoon and had a wonderful speaker from French West Aftica and another from South America."]
Now I was at least a speck on that horizon. During study periods I began to sit by her in the library and I also walked home with her to her dormitory, a distance of nearly two hundred yards. At least I wasn't losing ground. By the end of my junior year we were seeing each other often. We walked the Wheaton streets until they were familiar. One Sunday night we decided to try the subdivisions. There plots had been divided, but the depression had come and no houses had been built.
The street ended and we stood looking at each other. I blurted out the question and she said "Yes."
Suddenly the restraint was gone and Enid told me about the prayer meetings. "Since then," she added, "I've told the Lord I was willing to go to Africa but I asked Him to give me somebody to go with."
[Enid's ambivalence about her social life before she became involved with Mal is illustrated by this passage from a letter to MNK dated 7 September 1930 -- the start of her sophomore year: "E. called last night and we went riding. It's so funny -- I'm crazy about a fellow until he shows signs of really liking me and then after maybe a month I get so sick of him. I'll be glad to get away from E. He's too devoted. He's a nice kid alright, but not very exciting." Three months later she writes (17 Nov 1930): "Talking about fellows, I've been going quite stady lately with a fellow from Takoma, Washington, Malcolm Forsberg, who's training for a missionary [career] in Africa. He's a peach of a kid, but I think he has it worse on me than I have on him." A year later the ambivalence is gone and she writes (20 Nov 1931): "I've been going with Mal Forsberg (Swede) steady all this semester so far. I've been with him every night, 'cept one when I was sick. He's a wonderful fellow and I guess we're pretty well gone on each other. I'm planning to go to Africa as soon as I can be accepted by a mission board after getting out of college and maybe Mal and I will go out together [as missionaries]. I don't know as you'd better spread this around as a certainty, but it's a big probability."]
The fact that I also wanted to go struck her as the answer to her prayer. That was Baccalaureate Sunday, June 14, 1931. From then on, things began to happen. We knew nothing about mission boards. I had assumed that since I was a Presbyterian, I would go out under its foreign mission board. But one day the following year a representative came to Wheaton to interview all candidates of that denomination.
"Are you interested more in working with your hands or with your head?" he asked.
I tried to think of things I liked to do. It wasn't easy to answer such a question on the spur of the moment. "I guess I like both," I replied.
I waited for my interviewer to ask me something about my understanding of the
gospel and of my spiritual fitness to be in Christian work. The question never
came and I left in confusion. For the first time I had misgivings. I thought
of the speakers we had had in chapel, especially Sir John Alexander Clark, the
Plymouth Brethren missionary who had represented their missions in the Congo,
Thomas Lambie from the Sudan Interior Mission -- a faith mission whose support
comes not from any one denomination but from believers everywhere. Both men
had told of their pioneer work and of the tribes that were then without a witness.
We learned that James Hudson Taylor, better known merely as [] Hudson Taylor, was the father of faith Missions. In the 1850's he had gone to China as a medical missionary under the Chinese Evangelization Society. China was then being torn by the Taiping rebellion and foreigners were allowed to live only in Shanghai and in four other coastal Treaty Ports. During his first term, Taylor did medical work and learned the Chinese language. But he was unhappy that the Society was going into debt to pay him his small allowance and he longed for an organization that would be alive to China's need and that would seek to meet that need in utter dependence upon God.
Hudson Taylor's first furlough was spent in acquainting Christians in Britain with the appalling conditions in China. God was moving in his life. He felt he could not fully respond to that moving in his present affiliation, so be determined to start out alone. He made his first bank deposit in the name of the China Inland Mission, announced his need of twenty-four men and women to accompany him back to China, and with these recruits returned to Asia.
His expressions of faith and his compassion for China had stirred thousands to give their support to him and his new organization. He formed a board at home in England to receive the contributions of these people and to send the funds on to China. There would be no public appeals for funds and the board would be under no obligation to send any stated amount to the missionaries who would trust the Lord to supply whatever they needed. Nor would the missionaries in the new organization, who came from many denominations, receive any help officially from these denominations.
But trusting the Lord for money was only one side of faith. The doors to inland China were still closed. Taylor kept up the pressure against these doors by prayer, by faith, and by negotiation with the Chinese. Faith opened the doors not only to the China Inland Mission but through it to dozens of other societies that followed. Eventually Hudson Taylor's missionaries preached the gospel in every province of China.
It was 1893 before West Africa had its Hudson Taylor in the person of Rowland Bingham. Bingham went to the coast with two companions, determined to take the gospel inland. Evangelical missionaries from several denominations eventually joined him and the work of the Sudan Interior Mission began in inland Nigeria. One day John Gunther would refer to our Mission in Inside Aftica as "one of the most celebrated institutions in Africa." Elsewhere, similar groups were rising and in time [] formed a loose organization called the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association.
Meanwhile, the Christian church in Europe and America was becoming deeply concerned with the expanding field of textual criticism of the Bible. Many of its leaders were asserting that the Bible could no longer be taken literally. Part of the church experienced a new theological outlook and consequently lost much of its evangelical fervor. Missionary work found greater expression in educational, medical, and social institutions.
The new self-styled interdenominational missions represented a reaction to this theological and missionary change in the church. They preached the simple evangelical gospel. They built their program on a wide basis of reaching as many people as possible through evangelistic work rather than giving intensive training to a few in institutions, although they gave increasingly of their time to help the church with educational and medical work. The older missions now emphasized an applicant's educational qualifications. Gradually, some missionaries were accepted who were more educated than devout. On the other hand, the new missions made spiritual fitness basic to all other qualifications. In the end, both types of missionary organizations produced their spiritual giants and both had to number their failures.
Enid and I found that our study of the various types of organizations was leading us more and more in the direction of the interdenominational missions, in our time no longer new. Some friends of ours, Wheaton graduates, had been accepted by the Sudan Interior Mission [SIM] and assigned to Ethiopia. Our interest ripened.
"Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that they're going to Ethiopia;" I said to Enid when we heard the news. "I was impressed with the message Dr. Lambie gave with his pictures last year. I don't think I'd ever heard of Ethiopia before that."
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to write the Mission and ask them for information," Enid suggested.
With the information came application forms. By this time our friends had reached Addis Ababa and were writing to us about Ethiopia and the mission board. We would be expected to go out single, but we could marry after spending a year learning the language and getting into the work.
We decided to apply for membership. The papers, along with a written statement of our Christian experience, were mailed to the Mission. Then there followed a six-week period during which we were [] observed by Mission officials at the Berkshire Bible Fellowship in Massachusetts. We survived this test. At the end of it, we went to Mission headquarters in New York for questioning by the Mission Council. Finally the ordeal was over, and both of us accepted for service in Ethiopia on condition that Enid finish college. I spent that year at home in Tacoma. I needed funds to pay for my outfit and my passage to Ethiopia. The Mission had said I should trust the Lord to provide these funds. It seemed they looked on this provision as the Lord's seal of approval on my call to Africa.
It was not the easiest time to be entering the foreign mission field. Enid's capable engineer father [Irving Miller] had lost his job. He had found other employment of sorts but he had had to dig into his savings to keep his family clothed and fed. My schoolteacher sisters were being paid in warrants that were not valid for a month or two after receipt. They had to support my mother, as my father had died when I was eight years old. America was in the depths of depression. Few Christians could pay their church pledges in full and fewer still could make extra contributions for sending out a new recruit. I tried to find a job but there was none to be had.
I spoke in several churches, telling the people of my call and of my hopes for the future, helped with the work of my own church, and prayed long hours for the needed funds, believing that the Lord had a purpose in delays as well as in progress. In answer to my prayers many members of my church decided to designate their missionary money for my work. I would soon be able to sail!
[In a letter to her father dated 29 June 1933, Enid describes in detail her trip to Tacoma with Mal, and comments on the church as follows: "Yesterday, [Mal's sister] Leona and Mal and I went down town and then he took me over to their church. It is surely some establishment. I never saw such a big church -- [it] has a big gymnasium hall, chapel and then the regular church and just hundreds of class rooms, four assembly halls for the different departments, kitchen ladies parlors, etc. They're thinking very seriously of getting out of the Presbyterian denomination and have already drawn up a new Mission board." No doubt this rethinking of the church's mission involvements was a positive development for the developing plans of Enid and Mal. She also describes their visit to a "very active" church in Portland, from which support was also forthcoming.]
Enid and I were to learn that missionary life is marked by frequent separation from loved ones. I said good-by to her in Milwaukee. I was to sail ahead of her and by December, 1933, I was on my way.
[Enid to MNK, 18 November 1933 from Wauwatosa WI: "My last letter from the Mission put off my sailing time 'till near Christmas time and I'm half planning on leaving here two or three weeks early ... and coming up to Waterbury [CT] for a few days. If I sail a few days after Christmas, I'll be in Waterbury for that day." Then, "Mal sailed the 10th and is in Liverpool today! Wish I were with him." The next letter in MNK's file is dated 18 January 1934, and postmarked Marseille-Gare: "I wish you ... could be along! You'd just revel in it!! Just now the sun is going down in the blue, blue Mediterranean, the young moon and the evening star have appeared also in the west, and all is warm, calm and peaceful. We did have a rough Atlantic trip, but this makes up a hundred times for any discomfort we had." She then details some aspects of life on board the ship and mentions that she enjoyed "the good time I had at your place Christmas." So she did stop in the Waterbury area enroute to sailing, as hoped.]
Many missionaries had crossed the oceans of the world but not many had landed at Djibouti at the bottom end of the Red Sea. Nor had many made the journey by train from that sea-level town in French Somaliland to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, which sits on the plateau at an elevation of eight thousand feet. I disembarked at Djibouti and entrained on the express for Addis Ababa. Early on the morning of the third day we began winding our way through the eucalyptus groves of the highland towns. We watched and smelled intently. This seemed to be the only kind of tree growing there. It covered the hills and filled the valleys around the farms.
I had heard that Ethiopia was beautiful. The previous day I had seen only the black volcanic rocks of the eastern slope. During the night we [] entered the highlands. As day dawned, we could see mountains in every direction. Meandering streams flowed through the meadows. Newly cut grain was stacked in the fields. There were brown, recently harvested fields, and green fields in which sheep, cattle, horses, mules, and donkeys pastured. The smoke from the many fires in the thatched huts smelled strongly of eucalyptus. Warmly dressed Ethiopians were beginning to move about, their shoulders hunched. The problem here did not seem to be one of staying cool but of keeping warm.
When I arrived in Addis Ababa, Dr. Lambie was away visiting mission stations in the south. He was then Field Director of our Mission and on his return would introduce the new missionaries to the work and give us our orders. The Field Council advised him on all matters.
One of my first concerns was to find out if Enid had sailed yet. I went to the office to inquire. The secretary looked over the schedule of arrivals and departures. "Enid Miller is traveling in Dr. Bingham's party," she informed me.
A month and a half, I thought as I left the office. And she'll be traveling in a party headed by the General Director! We were young and easily awed by Mission officials, especially by Dr. Bingham, its founder. We never did stop being awed by him. He was a great man.
My first task was one that would occupy me for years -- language study. I was confronted with the two hundred and fifty-two characters of the Amharic alphabet. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. An Ethiopian teacher labored with me over the new sounds. There were the ejected t, k, and ts. There were gutterals. I had to learn how to form letters using down strokes only. The whole process looked hopeless, but soon I could put a few simple sentences together. When the boy who kept our horses understood me, I became optimistic. Perhaps I would one day speak this language after all.
As the day of Enid's arrival approached, my agitation increased and my linguistic interest decreased. The younger men and women at headquarters did everything to me but take my pulse and temperature. A large delegation turned out to welcome the traveling party. I joined the group but for me Dr. Bingham was not the main attraction. I walked far down the platform. As the train approached the station, it slowed down, and Enid leaned out from her car in our prearranged signal. I jumped onto the platform as the train passed. By the time we reached the rest of the crowd, we had finished our greetings and I could meet our General Director.
Missionaries new and old were massed around him. Time had chisled [] his face and paid special attention to his nose. There was firmness in the jaw and kindliness in the eye. He greeted us individually.
"I remember you," Dr. Bingham said to each of the new missionaries. He had met very few of us but he remembered us from our candidate papers, which he no doubt studied carefully.
Each morning during the days that followed, Dr. Bingham brought us messages from the life of Abraham. As he illustrated his talks with experiences from his own life of faith, we wondered if he were not another Abraham.
At first Enid and I were considered one of those odd pairs -- an engaged couple.
We had heard many remarks about young people who embarrassed others by their
open display of affection, so we agreed not to offend anyone. But, correct as
we seemed to be, we were not so settled in our ways that we didn't long for
the time when we could be natural and act as though we were meant for each other.
After all, we had been engaged for nearly three years and knew we had at least
one more to go.
[[Insert here Enid's letters of 23 February 1934 from Addis Ababa, to "Family and Friends" and also to "Dearest Marian"]]
SOON IT was March, 1934 and time to say good-by again. Dr. Lambie had returned from his trek through the country and the Field Council had met. We received our orders. Enid was to stay in Addis Ababa for a few months, studying the Amharic language. I was being sent to Gamo to help open up our new station there, and would travel with Merle and Lillian Anderson, who were going to Gofa.
[Enid wrote a happy birthday letter to MNK dated 17 March 1934 (RAK was born the next day): "I'm sending along with this just a bit of a present for the coming baby.... I had quite a time finding something here in Abyssinia fit for an American baby. Babys here have a rag wound around them -- and nothing else but a string of charms. I got this in one of the downtown 'shops' -- made in France, but at least bought in Abyssinia." Then later in the same letter: "I'm digging in on language like a good fellow now -- it's getting more and more fascinating as I can pick out more and more words while listening to the natives speak. Maybe someday I'll be able to jabber as they do."]
Before I left Addis Ababa, Dr. Lambie delivered a series of lectures to the younger missionaries. He was a loose-jointed man, of medium height. Many hours in the saddle had given a swinging motion to his walk so that he seemed to be riding instead of walking. His face radiated kindness and concern for us young workers.
Dr. Lambie had started his missionary career with the United Presbyterians in Egypt and in the Sudan near the Ethiopian border. The governor across the border had called him to remove an insect from his ear. Word of the successful operation traveled rapidly and before long Dr. Lambie found himself building a hospital in Addis Ababa. But Dr. Lambie was a pioneer at heart. He could not settle down to hospital routine when millions in Ethiopia were still unaware of what God had wrought through Christ. He felt there would be more opportunity to carry on a widespread ministry in the Sudan Interior Mission. So he joined that organization in America and entered Ethiopia as leader of the work in that field.
Dr. Lambie was a man of wide interests and many of us who began our missionary work under his leadership owe him much. I remember him best for leading me to a love for the old hymns. Whenever I sing one of them, he is not far away. Dr. Lambie's lectures were very helpful. He told us how to travel southward and where we would find water and market places. He told us about Ethiopia and its Emperor, His Majesty Haile Selassie. []
After the lectures and the books he suggested we read, we began to piece together some Ethiopian background. We were surprised to learn that the Amharas, who are Christians and who form the top strata of Ethiopian life, do not consider themselves African. They had probably migrated from Arabia to their African home in pre-Moslem times. Streets and market places in Addis Ababa provided evidence enough that the population was made up of more than Semites. There were Moslems, and their mosques were scattered throughout much of the country. There were pagans who needed no buildings for their religious practices. But the Amharas dominated the country politically and their Coptic religion dominated the populace religiously. We felt that, like the churches in England in the time of Wesley, the Ethiopian church needed an awakening.
If Ethiopia and its state church were not thriving it was not the fault of the Emperor. Though small of stature and with fine features he was every inch a king. Some of his ministers towered above him but they bowed low and did his bidding. Under his regal bearing and air of authority he was a kindly man whose heart was burdened for his country's welfare. He called on foreigners to introduce their education, machinery, and medicine. He especially encouraged missionaries to make their contributions to the spiritual and material welfare of his people. But he had to carry the whole country on his fragile shoulders and progress was slow.
Roads were almost non-existent. The Franco-Ethiopian Railway brought manufactured goods to Addis Ababa from the port city of Djibouti and took hides and coffee to the coast for export. Between Addis Ababa and other points almost all goods had to go by mule and camel caravan. It was a slow and costly system. One missionary had two pounds of cement sent to him in each fortnightly mail. He used it to set the stones in his fireplace.
T'he generation of Ethiopians that we saw was trying to bridge the wide gap between the passing feudal state and the future modem African state. Old-timers in the country said that with each round of change, the modem, the organized, and the stable emerged with substantial gains. Each time a move forward was visible, His Majesty was leading the way.
T'here was no doubt in the minds of the Ethiopians that their monarch was born to reign. The legend of the origin of the royal line was real history to them. The Queen of Sheba had gone to see the wonders of King Solomon in Jerusalem. Their acquaintance, though fleeting, had [] been intimate enough to result in the birth of a son who was named Menelik I. His Majesty Haile Selassie bad come from this royal line. The Ethiopians had tucked their story between the lines of 2 Chronicles 9.12: "And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants."
Dr. Lambie had to acquaint us with Mission affairs, too. He reminded us that we could expect financial difficulties. "When it was proposed to Dr. Bingham," he told us, "that the Sudan Interior Mission begin a new work in Ethiopia in the midst of depression in the home countries he put the matter up to his missionaries. He asked them, 'Shall we go ahead with our program of reaching out to unreached people and perhaps suffer a decrease in our personal allowances or shall we stop expanding?' The missionaries voted for continued expansion, even though it meant hardship for them."
This kind of response to Dr. Bingham's question warmed our hearts. After all, millions of unemployed at home were living on the brink of disaster. It would have seemed strange had the missionaries voted against expansion in the field. Better to follow the Biblical way, "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it" [1 Corinthians 12.26]. If we had to cut down on our food supplies or hired help or equipment, it would be all right. We had joined the Mission not for what we could get out of it but for what we could put into it.
Enid and I said our real farewells in the evening. Our final one took place the next morning, when the Andersons and I rode out into the great unknown.
[In her aforementioned birthday letter to MNK dated 17 March 1934 Enid comments: "I'm now a widow once more. Mal left Tuesday for 'down-country' -- Gamo! I hope this will be the last separation before we're married. The camels went last Thursday with the bigger things, and then the mules went Monday -- along with five head carriers. He'll have three weeks on trek and then will have to help build and try to get the Gamo language at the same time."]
Travel in Ethiopia meant mule caravans, head carriers, camp equipment, and riding horses or mules. I had bought a dappled gray horse. He had not come out ahead in any of the missionary gallops we had indulged in across the fields to the weekly inter-mission prayer meetings, but in walking he could outdistance almost any horse. Ethiopian geography was beginning to take some shape in my mind. The route I would travel lay south and slightly to the west. After ten days in the saddle we would reach our central station in the province of the Walamo-speaking people. It was called Soddu (pronounced so do). There the Andersons and I would separate. They would go west for another eight days to Gofa, I southeast for three days to Gamo.
The Andersons were older than Enid and I. They had had their own home in America before coming to Ethiopia. Though still in his early thirties, Merle's hair had begun to thin. He was the studious type, the [] saddle hardly seeming the place for him. He was always interested in something extracurricular. On trek it was bird watching and duck hunting. On the station it was stamp collecting and such specialties as delivering a calf, studying anatomy with the aid of the body of a monkey, and pursuing and killing a twenty-five-foot python.
Lillian was a homebody. Her combed-back hair and pointed nose and chin showed determination. Like Merle she was good-natured if timid. She was accustomed to having places in which to store her household goods and foodstuffs so that she could work efficiently, but she adjusted bravely to the tightly packed trek boxes that replaced her cupboards at home. She soon had the stove -- three stones with a circular metal piece resting on top -- producing tasty camp meals.
The three of us were greenhorns; we had been in the country a bare few weeks. We could speak and understand a few phrases of Amharic but could not communicate effectively with the mule drivers and carriers, although we had been coached on travel and camping. But we muddled through and eventually reached Soddu.
[[insert letters dated March 1934, describing the trip; ]]
At the Little Lehman River
March 14, 1934
So this to trekking in Ethiopia!!! It's a lots of fun, and lots of work, and lots of worry, but most of all, lots to laugh at. I've been chuckling ever since we left the Sudan interior Mission Headquarters in Addis Ababa. But this is not the place to start the narration
We planned to send our negadis, men who handle baggage and freight, off on Friday, so that we could leave the next day, and spend the week-end at the Hawash River. But no one ever leaves at a planned time when Negadis are in the picture. Tomorrow always means next week. So they didn't go on Friday. The next best thing was to send them on Monday, so that we could go
on Tuesday. They actually left on Mondayl Since there are three of us travelling, we have twelve mules. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are going to Gofa, so we go together as far as Soddu, in Walamo province. Besides the twelve mules. we have six head carriers and three boys to do the work. That is our party, but I mustn't forget the three horses, and mention in particular my 'Brummy' who steps right out and makes [] time. But he is so peppy that he is a nuisance in camp. He is always heading off in some direction, or kicking at his chain when he is pegged out. But in spite of all his faults, I like him a lot.
Tuesday morming, Mr. Horn piled us in his, or rather Dr. Lambie's, car and drove us out several miles. I had gotten up before five to get the horses saddled and the boys started with them. We met them at Alam Gunna. Enid rode out with us in the car, so we had our goodbyes there. Then began the long ride. The road was good, in spots, as Negadi trails go. In some places the rock was worn almost two feet deep by the incessant beating of horses' and Mules' hooves. The morning ride was cool and pleasant, aside from the first rumors of a stiff neck and a sore back. About eleven o'clock we stopped for a lunch of sandwiches and lukewarm water. The afternoon hours were warmer, and the stick I had to rub on my lips to keep them from chapping was melted to a grease spot.
We were a bit long on the way, but got to the Hawash river camp about 2:30. Our tents were set up and. looked inviting. The horses drank deeply of the river water, and I was tempted to do the same, but didn't. After we got the boys started on the supper, we started out to look for ducks, and saw lots of them, some big ones, but Mr. Anderson's "22" wasn't quite the thing for them. Finally, after many shots, he got one on the opposite side of the river. Two men there took off their clothes and swam across and returned the beast. It is in the stew pan, now. It was only a very small duck, but will give us a taste, and add flavor to the potatoes and carrots. We were very late in gettitig supper over, but managed to get to bed by nine. Groups of natives were singing, here and there. Some of the music was pretty, some atrocious. The hyenas contributed [] their part to the concert, and to complete the symphony I could hear the horses chewing their hay every time I awoke.
This morning, we got up at 5:30, and it was freezing cold. It was a real effort to get out of a warm (?) bed under such conditions. But a little activity in getting things packed, and a warm potato eaten in the hand changed the temperature considerably. We dropped the tents, and the boys got things packed up, and we left at seven, ahead of the Negadis. The country, for the most part, was fairly level, at times broken by seams of limestone, through which deep ruts had been worn by much travel. At one place we had to get off the horses, because there wasn't room for our feet in the ruts. There were many brightly colored birds flying around, and the pigeons were cooing incessantly. unfortunately, we saw no game, not even a guinea.hen. We thought to go to Bienthrash, about a half-hour from here, but because of the dearth of water there, we stopped here near the river. Tomorrow we will go as far as Amosgabaya. Those who know this road will realize that we are traveling short days, but this is our first trip..... enough! We're learning a lot of things. This afternoon I repacked my boxes so that I'll only have to open one, each day. It takes a lot of time just to keep alive. Some day I'll make the trip in respectable time.
Marako, Gurage Province,
March 17, 1934
We have arrived at our first rest stop, and are enjoying it. But then, the trip so far has been very good. Again we got a late start from the little Lehman river, and plugged along all day. [] The carriers were having 'chick-a-chick' all day, and one fellow lost a bucket and paid the Negadis one besa to carry about five pounds of potatoes. We got to Amosgabaya about two o'clock and waited for the Negadis to come. Our saddles were of, and some of the carrier loads were in, and the carriers had left. When the Negadis finally came, about four o'clock, they didn't want to camp there, so we had to give the loads to our own boys and resaddle the horses and ride on for about half an hour. We camped by a nice river and had good water, but it was too late in the day to really enjoy the camp. We got the tents up, and supper cooked, and ate in the dark. Amosgabaya was an interesting place. In English the name of the place is Thursday Market. And that is exactly what it is. The rest of the week it is just a piece of ground along the road. When we got there, there were lots of people in the market, and the smell of pepper was over the whole country side.
To the natives, the country between the Hawash River and here, is Shifta (bandit) country. And, indeed, for a long time it wasn't safe for natives to go through here. More than once, our mail has been stolen, and several carrier loads also have been taken. Some time ago they had a shooting affray, and two Shiftas were killed. To show the people the dangers of being a Shifta, the two bodies were hung from trees along the road. It was a gruesome sight to see the bodies thus suspended between heaven and earth. Now, if these bandits had been caught alive, they could have gotten some money together with which to bribe the officials, and they would have gone free. But when they get killed in the scuffle, they haven't any chance to pay out. The night before we got here, four Shiftas stole eleven [] cows from a man near here. The next day four of the thieves were caught. Three of them were able to pay up and were released, (not legally, of course, but through bribes) but one poor fellow was kept in the house of the man who captured him. Finally he confessed to several crimes, and said he had stolen money from Dr. Lambie along the road. Incidentally, about sixty camels were camped near here that same night, and two boxes were stolen from the caravan. Strange enough, Anderson's and my goods were in that same caravan. One box was returned, but the other is still missing, This Shifta said he had stolen the boxes. The Arab in charge of the camels described the boxes and was sure one was ours. However, there is the possibility that he is saying that to give strength to his court case, as by connecting Dr. Lambie's name to the affair, he can make it loom very large. Dr. Lamble is a very big man in this country. So the boxes may not have been ours at all.
Well, yesterday was the day on which we were due to arrive here at Marako. I wanted to give the Bartons a little warning of our coming, and I wanted to try an early atart, for once, and I wanted to see how fast I could go. So I got up at 3:20, ate some breakfast, and packed my stuff, and at 4:30 I was off in the dark, a boy going ahead with a lantern, and a carrier behind. The latter went along because he was the only available one who knew the road. The going was pretty rough in the dark, and I had to ford a stream three times. But about 5:30 the first touches of a new day appeared, and the lantern became unnecessary [] The sunrise was a glorious birth of a new day. It was cool and comfortable, the best time of the day for travel. At 7:20 I reached the Marako valley. Scattering up the hill in a hurry, were about thirty or forty baboons. A man was chasing them from his field. The place was very beautiful, and what a sight was presented far below, in another valley... the big camp of camels, not yet started for the day! At eight o'clock, three and a half hours from the time I started, I came into the Marako compound of the Sudan Interior Mission and was greeted by Mr. Barton. He and Mrs. Barton had been conducting school for their Christians since daybreak, so I was just in time for breakfast.
The Andersons left Amosgabaya at six, and got in at 11:30, and the Negadis got in about an hour later. We had dinner with the Bartons, and pitched the tents in the afternoon. There was plenty to do in the afternoon, getting things organized. We had supper with the Bartons, and chatted in the evening, There was much talking about Shiftas, and trouble and some shooting, but apparently no casualties. The Arab camel driver stayed here, because he was afraid to sleep in a native hut. This morning, they escorted the thief to the judge, about two hours from here, and probably by now are doing some wonderful orating. We'll be here over Sunday, and Monday will leave for Duromie, Kambatta Province.
Saturday, March 24, 1934
Things have been running in true Ethiopian style this week, in that our plans have not worked out particularly well. [] instead of being in Duromie today, we have three days to go, but are camped here for the weekend. We had a good time at Marako on Sunday, attending the native services and seeing how they do things there. The first service was Sunday School, which I did not attend. But at 9:30 there was a prayer meeting for the native Christian boys. No bell is rung for this service, and nobody is invited, the idea being to let those come who are interested enough in prayer. The brother of our Negadi has been an outstanding Christian, and Mr. Barton has encouraged his to read the Bible for messages that he and his people need. On his 1ast trip to Addis, the Lord spoke to him concerning Romans 15:6,7. Apparently the Marako Christians had not been at one in their testimony so he asked to be permitted to speak to the Christians on this subject. He spoke at the prayer meeting, and very clearly told them the need, and mentioned names where that was necessary. It was a great blessing to us. But I'll write more about the work at Marako in a separate letter.
Saturday night, as we were eating supper outside, the first of the "little rains" began. These rains supposedly come in January or February, and last about ten days. I don't know what is "little"
about them, unless it is the duration. We scurried around to get our stuff under cover, and, not being able to do much then, we went, to bed. The next night it rained again. Monday morning we got up ready to leave. But since that was the home town of the Negadis, they were in no hurry. One of our carriers had deserted, so we had to got another, and they were scarce. The deserter was a slave [] who had wandered away and had been eaught and taken back. At the last minute, a second carrier failed to show up, so the head Negadi managed to got two now ones. A third carrier waited until we were all ready to go, before he refused to pick up his load, saying that he wanted more money. After about half an hour of fuming and fussing, (they call it "chick-a-chick" -- very expressive) he picked up his load and went on. He has been sweet as a daisy ever since. They never remember those things, apparently. We had gone only about an hour when a fellow came running up behind us and stopped one of the now carriers. This time the story was that the carrier owed the stranger 100 dollars, and of course he wouldn't let him go far with that hanging over. So when the Negadis came along, they picked up his load without a word, and we went on. I had sharp words with the interferer, and wouldn't say good-bye to him, so he followed along, bowing graciously, pleading with me not to leave him without saying good-bye. I didn't feel led to speak to him further.
We finally camped Monday afternoon, at Afineguschafne. There, as everywhere since, we had to use slightly thickened water. When it rains, the erosion is so terrific that all the streams become dark brown. We put alum in the water to settle it, and it works wonders, but usually tastes alum. It rained again that night, so that in the morning we got a late start. Fact was, that it started to rain hardest after we had started packing, and the Negadis don't like to load wet tents, as they are some extra heavy that way. Late in the morning, as we were on our way, the [] boys started taking us up a steep hill for apparently no reason. But when we got to the top and looked down the other side, we saw the reason...a beautiful crater lake. It appeared to be small, but when we tried to throw stones into the water, we couldn't touch it. There were ducks and geese on the water, but they looked like sparrows. The boys protested our throwing stones into the water, as it was "God's water".
I kept getting unreasonably tired, all day, and about every half hour stretched out on the grass to rest my back. When we got to camp, I was all in. We camped at Arattabur (four roads). I went to bed right awav, without eating anything, and was kept going all night, quite sick. We couldn't go on next day, nor the next, but on that second day I began to feel better, and got up, and ate. Ths day before, Mr. Anderson had sent a boy back to Marako for medicine, and he got back the next day. The pills settled my stomach. Friday morning I felt well and strong again, so we set out for a short day's trek as far as Warabe. I forgot to say that Tuesday, Mr. Anderson shot a big goose, which I didn't taste, and yesterday we had roast guinea fowl.
Today we trekked another short day to Urbaruque, where we arrived about 11:30. We will stay here over Sunday. When we pitched our tents here, we little suspected what we were in for. About two o'clock some 50 natives had congregated and set to work staring at the 'frangis'. Soon the crowd was increased to well over 100. Then we discovered that the Negadis had camped us almost in the middle of a huge market which convenes on Saturday. Being so close to the market was, of course, a great pleasure to them. We were, and are, a great attraction to the [] people. They keep coming by the hundreds. Right hard by, there are other hundreds doing their weekly business. The odor that arises from so many Africans is tremendous. It is almost unbearable. They have many strong condiments, pepper by the ton, and sour bread, and other odiferous edibles - edible to them, at least. In keeping the crowd away from the tents, the boys have come little short of war, but being fond of all this, they prosecute their business diligently. Finally I suggested to the head Negadi that they take up a collection for the priviledge of viewing the white freaks. He proceeded to ask each for a besa, and they moved away like a crowd at a street meeting in Podunk, U.S.A.
We have just finished another meal of potatoes and guinea hen. Would any of you folks like some, or some duck, or goose? You can have all we shoot, and we'll give you a dime for taking it away. A nice, cool strawberry milkshake would make me go to bed without crying tonight. Now Mr. Anderson and I are going to wander around the market to see if we can find some limes, or native peas, or beans.
Darkness finally came, and the crowd dispersed, to leave the place to us, alone. Which brings this account up to the present. Perhaps the addition of a little detail here, wouldn't hurt anybody. When we get into camp, we usually have to wait a little while for our mules to get in. Our horse boy is with us, and he takes off the saddles and bridles, and hobbles my horse and lets all three loose to feed on the meagre supply of grass. When the caravan arrives, the [] carriers and personal boys get at the tents, and usually have them up in half an hour. During all this, we have to supervise, and dash around to see that things are not done hind side before, and up side down. When the tents are up, two of the carriers go for water, and the others hunt for wood, if there is none, we have to buy it. The horse boy goes out to try to buy barley and hay. At times, women bring the stuff, and offer it for sale at the camp. The cook and one of the boys set to work making a fire, and pooling vegetables. For a stove, they get three rocks on which they plaoe a round, concave piece of tin. When the fire is started, they put long pieces of wood in from each opening between the rocks, and as the wood burns, they push it in farther. Really those people can be delightfully bright, or abysmally dumb.
We try to eat about four o'clock, so that all the work will be done before it gets dark. Also, the lunch for the next day is Packed, and a breakfast arranged, so that we can eat in a hurry, and got off in the morning. We don't leave anything until the morning, either. About six o'clock, as it is getting dark, the boy gets the horses ready for the night. We have an iron peg to which are attached three chains. The peg to driven into the ground, and one leg of each horse is padlocked to a chain. A thief could pull the peg up, and lead the horses away, but it to harder to lead three horses than one.
During these rainy days, the Negadis have been piling all the boxes into my tent to keep the goods from getting wet. So I have half a tent. in the morning the big job is to [] get through with all our stuff so soon as possible, so that the boxes can be loaded on to the mules. The carriers pull the tens down and fold them up, and we wait around until most of the mules are loaded. Then we leave. About ten o'clock we stop for lunch. Saturday, the Andersons brought their little gas stove along, and had the materlai for pancakes all prepared, so that when we stopped for lunch, our cook made pancakes. They tasted mighty good! They have to take the place of bread, now, because we have been on the road longer than we planned, and are out.
I've been the traveling doctor for this outfit, ever since the first day. My kit consists of one tiny bottle of murourochrome, some cotton, and a bit of adhesive tape. Usually, in the course of a day's travel, the boys manage to get their feet cut, more or less. So I get out my kit, and they gther around, and I administer the potent cure-all. If one has a real bad cut, I wrup it up. Usually the cuts are old, and the result of dry cracking of the skin. Some have cracks all over their feet and legs. It's pitiful, sometimes, to see them. I don't think I've seen a good pair of feet yet. But as long an they go around in their bare feet, medicine will do them little good.
I could have used some eye medicine here, yesterday and today. A great many natives have swollen eyes, caused by road dust, and flies. A little silver nitrate does wonders for them. Today, a man brought a little girl in. I shuddered to look at her eyes. One eye ball was protruding way out, and there was very little pigment in it. I told them where they might get help from one of our doctors or nurses, but the nearest one is two days away. I don't suppose they will take the trip. [] Yesterday, when the big crowd was here, we were thinkling what a big opportunity it would be to preach to them. But not being able to speak their language yet, we were helpless. We have travelled for days, between stations, and have seen many people who never come in contact with a Christian. Unless the native Christians evangelize their own people, the country will not be won to Christ. For it is certain that no organization could ever send enough missionaries to a land to convert that land. The native Christians must finish what the missionaries begin.
"Uncle Nick is waiting for you," Harold Street informed me on my arrival. Street was later to join me in Gamo.
"Is that what you call Mr. Simponis?" I asked, referring to the missionary at Gamo.
"Yes," Street replied. "Out here we are all uncles and aunts to the missionary children. But Mr. Simponis seems to be a special uncle. Anyway, you'll soon find out."
The Streets had heard the call to Ethiopia after they and their children were already settled in a pastorate, but they pulled up stakes and went anyway. I learned that Uncle Nick had gone to America from his native Greece when he was about fifteen. He had become a citizen but when he heard Dr. Lambie tell about the many Greek people living in Ethiopia, he decided to go there to give them spiritual help. After making good progress with the Amharic language, he assisted in the increasing work in the provinces, and was now readying the new station at Gamo.
[[letters 5 April (arrival at Gamo)]]
Shamma, Gamo Province,
April 5, 1934.
I have arrived, after three weeks on a horse. This country is beautiful. This is home. But more of that later. I 1eft you all at Urbarque, I also left the Andersons there. You see, we have a station at Lambuda, near Hosseina, and the station is a two day trek from the main road. I wanted to see all the stations I could, so decided to hop over the hill to Lambuda. I left camp at five-thirty, with a boy who didn't know the road any more than I did. After a half-hour's ride across the plain, we started up. it was some climb, up the rocky facs of a sheer cliff. I had to get off the horse so that he could get up through the last narrow defile. When pack mules go that way, they have to be unloaded and the loads carried up the cliff. We went up hill and down dale for eight hours, before we arrived at the station. It was good to see my old New Zealand friend of Addis Ababa days, Thomas Simpson, come out of the gate. The natives had [] cried out "Frangi", which meant a foreigner was coming. I stayed with the batchelors Simpson, Norman Couser, and veteran Clarence Duff. We had supper that first evening with Mr. and Mrs. Annan, and Zillah Walsh.
Tuesday, while I was at Lambuda, I read most of the story of Adoniram Judson - "Splendor of God." The book, written by Honore Wilsie Morrow, is very good. It gave me more than one idea concerning missionary work.
We wanted to get an early start on Wednesday for Duromie, as it takes about six hours, if one gallops at every opportunity. Clarence Duff had to go to Duromie to see about fixing up a house for Miss Walsh, who is going down there to be the nurse. But it rained that night, and the road was slippery, so we didn't leave until after eight. We stopped along the way to visit some natives, friends of Mr. Duff, and we got into Duromie about four o'clock. The Andersons had arrived at noon. They had to leave the next day, but I stayed with Mr. Duff in his tukul. My stuff went with the mules when the Andersons left. Friday was the day of prayer, as is the last Friday of every month. We spent the time together, Mr. Duff and Mr. and Mrs. Phillips and I. Saturday morning I climbed on my horse again, and set out to do in one day what is usually two days' trek to Soddu. I left Duromie just before seven. I trotted practically all the way. If you have ever ridden very much, you'll know how it was, to keep up that posting motion for over five hours. About twenty minutes before I got to the station, Mr. Street came out to meet me. He had an extra horse [] for me, so I rode him while Mr. Street's boy walked in with my Brummy. So, from Monday to Saturday, I trekked six days in three.
After eating, we had a peculiar job to do. Dejazmatch Abeba, formerly of this province, had sent 10,000 thalers, all in silver, and slightly larger than the American dollar, to Soddu in care of the mission. That week the Dejazmatch had sent one of his men to Soddu to get the money, and take it to Addis. So Saturday afternoon, three of us counted out all that money. There were twenty bags containing 500 thalers each. After this job, we had to got my stuff packed for a new set of Negadis. My stuff that came down by camel had to be made up into mule loads. A big box that I had, had to be lightened, so that two carriers could take it between them.
In the midst of the packing job, it began to get very cloudy. All at once, and without a moment of warning, a terrific wind came up, ripping tin off the roofs and tearing the thatch to pieces. It lasted only about two minutes, but was followed by a hail storm such as I have never seen before. It felt as if we were getting shot. It oontinued to hail until the ground was white. In places, the stuff was several inches deep. Dr. and Mrs. Roberts got a tin bathtub full of hail, and set their churn into in, and made two batches of ice cream. I was staying with the Streets, and in the front room they had to set the furniture in spots that weren't getting wet. It all passed over soon, and the evening was very pleasant.
Sunday morning, I attended the native service, and heard one Desta, a particularly fine Christian, speak to about[] eighty people assembled. The church building in made of mud brick, and has a thatched roof. A thin eosting of hay covers the ground. The people come in, and are seated with their legs crossed. Some six or eight fairly "big" men come to the service, and their mules occupy the back section of the church, but cause no trouble. The missionaries sit in front on boxes or stools. Here at Walamo, nine were baptized last year, and the work is progressing. In the evening, the missionaries took communion with the native believers. It was a glorious service, to see those black ones, called out of darkness, and now breaking the bread and drinking the cup in remembrance of the Lord's death "'til He come."
The trek from Soddu to Gamo usually takes four days, but, by sending the negadis on one day, and camping with them next, and then going on, in to the station here the second day, one can make it in two days. Mr. Street and I left Soddu just before five o'clock Monday morning. My horse was showing signs of being tired, after almost three weeks on the road, so I couldn't do as well as I would have liked. About two o'clock, we arrived at the village of Boroda, where we were to camp. We stopped at the house of a Coptic priest, friend of Mr. Street, and had some native coffee, served with a bit of salt in it… no sugar or cream. The priest came with us to our tent, and we gave him and two of his friends tea and bread. We had supper, and then went to bed. Four o'clock found us up, and before five we were on the road again. It was some day! The road to up and down most of the way, and We had to get off and walk a good deal. It sets one to puffing, too, because of the altitude. At one point the road goes up to [] 10,200 feet. Most of the day, we were in sight of Lake Abai, and just before we got into Shammah, we could see both Lake Abai, and Lake Chamo. We got to the station just at twelve o'clock. Mr. Simponis, who had been staying here, was in town, and didn't got back until about three o'clock.
I was mighty glad to get to my destination, after three weeks on the road. And it was great to see the country in which I will be worklng for some time. Those of us in this station, when we are settled, will be the first ones to preach the Gospel in this land of Gamo. This in one of the more heavily populated or the Ethiopian provinces. At one time the land must have had a tremendous population. Every mountain and every valley is terraced. Each terrace is retained by a wall of stones, and the whole represents a huge amount of work. So intensively has the land been cultivated, that some terraces are only two or three feet wide, and ten feet long. Thus, every mountain looks as if it has steps up the sides. If you look at a good map of Africa, you will see the two lakes in southern Ethiopia, Lake Abai, or Abaya, and Lake Chamo. We are just on the western side of the neck of land that separates the two lakes. Our station is on a wide terrace, high above the lakes. But from here we get a wonderful view of the surrounding country. We can see across the lakes into Sidamo; to the south we can see the mountains of Gardula, and over into the hills of the Boran country; directly back of us is the Shammah mountain, and on every side the ground either goes up or down. We had to go down into a deep valley, today, to see about getting timbers for lumber, and it was some hike! We had to crawl, at times, and all the time we were crossing [] streams and passing waterfalls. The hills are very rugged, and bare rock protrudes everywhere. We'll have to be going over these rocks all the time in the future to reach the people. It took us about an hour to walk up out of the valley, and we didn't go much more than half way down. We saw lots of baboons, and jungle was more like Africa should be.
We have a wonderful house. It in a native tukul which was moved onto the place. It is some twenty feet in diameter, and the ceiling is about 25 feet from the floor. Here, the natives split bamboo, which grows abundantly, and weave it for the sides of the houses, and bring it to a point at the top. Then they thatch it with grass. So our house looks like a haystack. The men are putting up a stable, and the kitchen for Mr. Street's house is already finished. When more money comes through, we hope to get to building his house, and next, the nurse's house and clinic. I will probably build our house next dry season.
I am exceedingly happy that we are going to be in a country where the Gospel has never been preached. It means a lot, to build on no man's foundation. Building will take most of the time before we can get to language study. At present, the natives know nothing about working for foreigners, and we are having a hard time getting workers. Eggs are scarce, and we can't get chickens very often. Once in a while, we get a sheep for a thaler (33 cents, American) but they are so small that they only last three or four days. But we are trying to show ourselves friendly, and in time they will come around. Just before I came down, the governors of Gofa and Gamo were changed. The one we [] have now, Dejazmatch Bienna, is more liberal than old Abeba, so we are looking forward to more freedom in building and in carrying on the work. Since the work in Gofa is well established, we believe the Lord ordered the change for the good of our work. We went to Chincha, the capitol of Gamo province, yesterday, and had a nice visit with the Dejazmatch. He wants us to help him to build a church. He said he would help with our houses if we would help him. We told him we wanted to be as helpful as possible, but that our purpose in being here is to preach Christ. He assented to that.
I continued on my journey to Gamo where I met Uncle Nick. He had a large classic Greek head which could have easily been graced by an olive wreath. In the absence of the latter, his black wavy hair was an excellent substitute. Socrates and P1ato would have recognized him as one of their own. His shoulders were broad, but from that point his figure tapered down to spindly legs.
America was Nick's homeland, not Greece. He loved his adopted [] country passionately and treasured his citizenship and passport more than did we who were native born. I detected a trace of a foreign accent in his speech but I was soon unconscious of it. He did have a few peculiarities, such as pronouncing the "p" in "psalms," but he spoke better English than most Europeans.
Nick led me to an unlikely looking building resembling a haystack with a door. "This is our house," he said. "We bought it from some Gamo people as temporary quarters until we build our own!"
He opened the door and I entered the haystack. The room inside was about twenty feet in diameter, the size of a modem living-dining room. A partition of woven bamboo, six feet high, divided the hut into two rooms, each with a little square window resembling a porthole and providing the only light and ventilation.
"This is our living room," Nick announced. "And that is our heating plant."
He pointed to a flat fireplace without a chimney which sat on the floor. There was a small table by the window and a few cupboards lined the walls, which were plastered with mud to a height of about six feet. The air blew through freely above that. I looked up. The walls gradually came together until at the peak, some thirty feet above me, there was scarcely room for a bird's nest. Thirty feet, I recalled, was approximately the height of a three-story house.
"The Gamo people build this way in order to have a long-lasting house," Nick explained. "When the termites eat off the bottom or when it rots away, they dig a trench around the house and drop the walls into it. The whole house is lowered by a foot each time they do it. With a house this height, they can lower it many times!'
It sounded sensible. The Africans were engineers in their own way in spite of all that I had heard to the contrary.
The building of the station had already begun. The first house was to be for the Street family, who would move from Soddu to Gamo as soon as it was ready. The house had not been started but Street and Nick had erected a unit that would serve as kitchen, pantry, and storeroom for the new house. Each room in the building was about eight by ten. The kitchen was already in use.
"When we start building the main house, I'll have to do most of the dealing with the men on materials and labor. You could help out most by taking over the responsibility for the meals," Nick suggested.
T'hose were distressing words. I had not thought I would begin my missionary career at such a level. Weren't missionaries supposed to be [] aided in their work by hired help? I had brought a boy with me from Addis Ababa and Nick had one working for him. They seemed much like ourselves. We needed help for we had a great deal to do and would require many free hours for uninterrupted language study.
I had been given a set of Walamo language notes when I passed through Soddu. It was the language used with variations all through Gofa, Gamo, and Walamo provinces. I was to study Walamo (with a Gamo accent) instead of Amharic. Learning the Amharic alphabet had been helpful, for our missionaries always used it in reducing the tribal languages to writing. Language study would include much time spent visiting our neighbors so I could hear the correct pronunciation of words, the use of idiom, and real native sentence structure. By getting established on a friendly basis with the people, they would be more likely to believe what I said about spiritual matters once I spoke their tongue.
Building the main house would be a full-time job. I would have to snatch what time I could from housebuilding and household duties. In tropical Aftica the building of houses for missionaries to live in cannot be avoided. Unlike some parts of the missionary world, there are no houses to rent or buy.
I looked forward to the day when I would be able to speak the language fluently, to the day when there would be no more houses to build. The housekeeping affairs would be Enid's, and together we would start Sunday services and weekday meetings for men and women. There would be an informal school where we would teach the neighborhood children their two hundred and fifty-two characters. As we gained believers, we would give their leaders initial instruction in Bible school. The church would be established and we would try from the beginning to make it the church of the people. Each local church would mean a goal achieved.
But these plans were all in the unknown future. I was still in Gamo, scarcely able to converse with my neighbors, and the time I thought might be used in language study was to be spent in the kitchen. We had no stove. For baking, Nick used an uninsulated sheet-iron oven. I did not know how I could produce bread with the little metal box he balanced on one hand as he explained its simple operation. He showed me how to set the bread in the evening. Then, early in the morning, he added the necessary flour and kneaded the dough. I watched with interest but no enthusiasm.
"Now we have to put the bread in a warm place to rise," Nick said.
The mornings were always cold in Gamo's mountains. I was shivering. [] I could not think of any place warm enough to raise bread but Nick had solved that problem long ago. We carried the pans from the kitchen to the house. Nick threw back the covers of the bed from which he had recently risen, put the pans in, and pulled the covers over them. In about an hour the bread was ready for baking, at least as ready as it would ever be. The bed was not getting any warmer.
Nick had set his oven on four stones out in the yard. The fire was burning brightly under it. Soon it burned down, leaving a bed of coals, some of which Nick placed on top of the oven. When the oven was hot enough -- I never did learn how to find that out -- we whisked the bread out of the bed, through the door, and into the oven which sat smoking forlornly. Not once in the nine months that I was with Nick did the dough rise in the oven. It a1ways sank to a level nearer the bottom than the top of the pans.
Our so-called Ethiopian cooks could put wood on the fire, boil water, and watch vegetables or meat cooking, but they could not make desserts. I tried to stir up various kinds but inevitably returned to the simplicity of chocolate pudding. We had built a stone fireplace in the kitchen. It was shaped to provide a firebox over which we laid a sheet of iron, already warped out of shape by the heat of previous fires. A sheet-iron pipe served as a chimney but most of the smoke escaped into the room.
When the chocolate pudding was ready to be cooked, I stoked the fire and began stirring. I could not keep my eyes open, the smoke was so thick. I coughed, blew my nose, and occasionally went outside to recover. Eventually the pudding thickened and was ready to be served. According to the cookbook the recipe would serve six people, but Uncle Nick and I divided it and it was just enough.
The most important item in our diet was coffee. With the rain, the fog, and the loneliness, we needed something to lift our sphits. We had coffee for breakfast, in the middle of the morning, for lunch, in the middle of the afternoon, and for supper. Occasionally Nick brought out his Turkish coffee maker and we had some black brew before going to bed.
One day I told Nick that I thought our boys were taking sugar. It was disappearing at an alarming rate. We knew that boys who worked for foreigners were often tempted by the ample supplies of sugar, salt, and cooking oil that had to be on hand. We believed it our duty to keep temptation out of the way of the boys, but a certain amount of food had to be available. While meditating on the problem, I began to consider our own rate of consumption. Two cups of coffee each ... five [] times a day ... that added up to twenty cups. Nick used at least two heaping teaspoons in each cup and I used only a little less. That was where the sugar was going -- though I can't remember that we cut down on the coffee drinking.
T'he boys who helped us were having their problems, too. We missionaries timed our work by our watches, but the food was not always ready when we wanted it. Africans tell time by the sun, moon, and stars, and are usually accurate within an hour. Then we noticed a sudden improvement in the timing. The boys had worked out a system of their own. When the corrugated iron was nailed to the roof, a nail hole had been left. This allowed a thin ray of light to describe an arc on the shaded floor as the sun passed across the heavens.
The boys explained it this way: "When the spot of light is here, we put the vegetable on to cook. Then at this point we put on the meat, and here the potatoes. When the ray hits the middle of the floor, we put the coffee on. Then at this point we wait for you to say 'Bring the food!'"
After I had served half-cooked beans and nearly raw potatoes to Nick and myself a few times, I began to ask questions. Then I recalled that the higher the altitude, the lower the temperature at which water boils. Of course it would take longer to cook the food! After that, the string beans and potatoes went onto the fire right after breakfast. I thought of the ladies in Denver and how they had to regulate their cooking to their mile-high altitude. That of Gamo was eight thousand feet, more than half again as high as Denver. Far away and below us at five thousand feet -- still nearly as high as Denver -- Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya lay in the floor of the Great Rift Valley which runs from Kenya to Palestine. The dry season haze gave the lakes an otherworldly appearance, perhaps a netherworldly one. As the rainy season came, billows of fog rolled up from the lakes. Other billows descended on us from the tops of the mountains. It was not merely that the weather was bad; at eight thousand feet we were living in the clouds. For weeks on end the sun did not break through. It was no place for a lonely like me.
Every morning and evening the boys lighted the fire in our open hearth. As we sat reading or studying, the smoke rolled around us. We coughed, sneezed, and rubbed our eyes. The clothes would not dry outside in the rain and fog, so we had to hang them on the lines that crisscrossed our tiny living quarters. We often ate lunch invisible to each other, our heads up among the shirts and trousers.
One day we received a letter from Earl Lewis, in Soddu, saying that he was coming with a gang of workmen to help us build the house. Our [] two beds left very little space in our half-moon bedroom, but we would squeeze him in somehow. Lewis had taken over the office of District Superintendent from Walter Ohman when the latter went on furlough. As D.S., Lewis was supposed to see that we kept the building job moving.
Lewis was about five feet ten, with a solid frame. He disliked inactivity and a trip to Gamo to spend a few weeks on the building job with a gang of noisy, singing Walamos would be just what he wanted. His presence would make life more interesting for Nick and me. Lewis had learned the Walamo language by spending long hours with the people in their huts, for he could not sit still long enough to study the language notes worked out by his fellow missionaries. It was natural that he should become as fluent in Walamo as he was in English. And he was very fluent in English! He kept the conversation going; all Nick and I had to do was respond now and then. He hustled around the station all day long, bringing his native optimism to every problem. It did not matter how crooked the wood; we could build a house with it. Nor did it matter how wet it was; we could make a fire with it.
We laid out the Mission house to suit our Western mode of living but the manner of construction was Ethiopian. We marked the places where the windows and doors were to be. Then a workman dug holes on either side. The heaviest and straightest cedar poles were selected and set in place, then trenches dug between these openings. Alternate split cedar or eucalyptus and bamboo were set in the trench and tied together with cross pieces lashed with rope.
"It's hard to make a straight wall with this split timber," Lewis observed as we surveyed the completed woodwork.
"When we plaster the walls, we can always put a little more mud in the low places and a little less in the high," Nick commented.
The house looked ghastly with its array of split timbers tied together with ropes, but we were not through yet.
"We'll start on the roof tomorrow," Lewis said one day. We had to get the roof on before mudding the walls. The rains had begun in earnest and the plaster would need protection.
Between periods of supervising the cooking of potatoes and meat, and the baking of bread and stirring chocolate pudding -- the coffee came by itself -- I helped Lewis with the building of the roof. Nick worked on the ground. It was all he could do to watch us walk around on the slender roof timbers. He suffered from acrophobia.
We built the ridge and then ran the rafters into it, picking out long [] poles for the hip rafters. Then we stretched lines and hammered down the purlins as straight as possible. Lastly, we nailed down the sheets of corrugated iron and the roof was finished. It had taken many days of skidding around on the raw timbers that became slippery in the rain.
Meanwhile three large pits had been dug, the dirt in them loosened, and water added. In these the men walked round and round, tramping the mud all day. The brown clay had to be worked this way for three or four weeks. Before it was applied to the walls, the fine straw of a grasslike Abyssinian grain called teff was added as a binder.
With the iron roof overhead, the Soddu men could go ahead with the plastering. They threw handfuls of mud on the walls and rubbed it smooth. It oozed through the timbers and spread out on the other side where it caked and dried, giving the plaster strength. When the last finishing coat had been applied, with a little cow dung added for smoothness, we surveyed our labors. The walls were wavy, but it was the best we could do with the help we had. It would be a fine house.
Lewis was hearty and full of ideas. When some young men appeared on the station and started a simple dance to the tune of a native banjo, he invited them into the new house. "If they have to dance," he said, "they might as well tramp down the dirt floor."
At last Lewis returned to Soddu, leaving Nick and me to finish the building.
Four months had passed since I left Enid in Addis Ababa. We wrote to each other faithfully but mail trained back and forth only twice a month. I had become a confirmed mailbag watcher. But not even the urgent necessity of opening the bag to get Enid's letters out in a hurry could interfere with the greetings to the postman:
"Are you in peace? Did you spend the night in peace? Are your people in peace? Are our people at Soddu in peace? How is the road? Did you arrive well?"
Having answered these questions for each other, we could open the bag without seeming to be rude. But the greetings continued, though less formally, as we dumped magazines and letters onto the floor. I recognized the writing on the letters I wanted to read first. Settling down in a chair next to the little window, the rest of the world stopped for a while as I read.
"Well, what's she doing now?" Nick asked one day, as I finally looked up from my reading.
"She's coming south soon," I replied. []
[[insert letters from Enid dated 18 May 1934 and 26 August, from Addis Ababa; then 18 Sept from Marako, enroute to Gamo; another 22 Dec 1934, from Duromie, Kambatta (mentions spending Thanksgiving with Mal and Dr. Roberts in Soddu, and Mal's one day rush trip) -- originally, this is where MNK started her book, entitled "American Girl in Africa: A Book of Letters"]]
---[letter #5; original typed on onion paper, one side only, and folded]
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa
May 18, 1934
Dearest Marian and Howie,
[...] I've been busy as usual, only more so. Just yesterday got my china barrel and big boxes off by camel for Soddu -- wish you could haye seen them swaying along on those "ships of the desert." They've surely had all sorts of conveyance. And they're just the forerunners of me, for I expect to leave here in a week and a half or so, for Soddu -- about 250 miles, and only 60 or so miles from Gamo and Mal -- two hard days' trek. I won't be able to see him more than once, I suppose, but then, it wlll take just a few days for a letter to come from him, rather than months. However, it wi11 take nearly two months for a letter from home, so write often. Soddu is a station that has been established for about five years and there they speak practically the same language that is spoken in Gamo. There is a dandy bunch of people there [] from all reports, room being made for me by two going home on furlough, this next week. A Dr. and Mrs. Roberts are there, Mr. and Mrs. Street, and a Miss Lois Briggs, with whom I will Live, a nurse. I'm frightfully anxious to get going -- will have about a two week's trek, with a Mr. Lewis. (His wife is one of those going home, with bad heart trouble -- he'll follow in about six months, preferring to stay and finish some work before joining her.) On the way, we'll visit four or five other stations, and see the workers, the work, and the natives. It will be interesting, and "something to write home about", I'm sure.
The final word hasn't been given for my going, but it is pretty certain. [...]
As usual, I've been having adventures on my horsey. The other day, going to town, Lottie Blair and I were racing on one of the few suitable stretches, when all of a sudden my horse braced his feet -- and there was I, wlth my legs clinging around his neck, and my hands grabbing his ears. Something had frightened him, so he just stopped -- and how! I didn't fall off, but I had a great time hoisting myself back into the saddle, I was laughing so. Then, again, coming home from inter-mission prayer meeting he saw that terrible creature -- a bicycle -- when we were going at a slow canter. As he shied, his shoes slipped on the rocks, and he went down on his knees, me going over his head, and landing on the back of my head. My watch got busted, and my coat torn, but that's all. (My watch is fixed, now.) He's a grand horse. I'd 1ike to race you, Marian. []
Last week, I saw the King and Queen for the first time. Dr. Lambie invited them out to tea, and, although we weren't invited to the tea, we got permission to stand in the upstairs window and watch them alight from the cars. The King came in one automobile, the Queen in the other. As the King stepped out from the car, he greeted Dr. Lambie with the sweetest smile I ever saw. His whole face lighted up. He is noted all over for his magnificent smile, and the beauty of his hands. They're such expressive ones. He's a slight man of medium height, with Jewish features, and was dressed very simply in the tight=fitting native trousers, and then a black cape trimmed with red and gold. The Queen wore a tan silk dress with a cape, also, and a veil hanging from her sun helmet. They had many attendants - gun-bearers, an eunuch and a priest, and others. It was all very thrilling. We stayed upstairs during the tea, had eats sent up to us, and after the party left, went down and sat in the same seat that the King had occupied.
I just met some of the boys that will be our carriers and servant boys on the trek south. They're a fine bunch. Boy, it's thrilling to think of getting into the country and among the people that I'll be working with the rest of my life. The Wallamo peoples are a simpler, and less proud people than the Amharas - and more loveable, if anything. At Gamo, they've had very little contact with foreigners, and are unspoiled - so many times traders come in, and just ruin their morals, and give them wrong ideas of [] foreigners in general. We're hoping all people of low morals may keep away from them.
I'm enclosing an account of a visit to one of the nearby native huts. And talking about fleas - wish you could see me. My legs, and around my waist are just covered with bites - and itch!! I wake up night after night scratching them, and there's no preventative against them that I know of. They get into our rooms in spite of cleaning them every other day, and I've caught I don't know how many, on my ankles, or legs, while studying in the living room. [...]
[Cooking, out here, is very strange, and quite hard at first.] You have to substitute so many things for what you can't get - dried peas and roasted wheat for nuts, caramelized white sugar for brown, and one gets so that one can make a decent cake without eggs, milk, and almost without flour. It's a great life! [...]
Oodles of love to you all.
(NOTE:-- The "[...]" represents deletion of more personal sections.)
VISIT TO A NATIVE HOME
Won't you come with me for a visit to one of the neighboring native homes? After donning sun-helmets, and calling Byena, a native Christian, who speaks some English, we go off down the eucalyptus shaded path to the home of our night watchman. When approaching, we call out, "May health be given you! Did you pass the night well? Are you well?" And the mistress anwsers, "God be praised! May health be given you," etc.
We are ushered into the round mud-plastered house, [] with its straw roof, and made to sit on a seat of eucalyptus leaves covered with a dyed cow hide. Several earthenware water jugs are in a corner along with several large storage baskets holding grain, and built into one side of the room is a bed. The chickens immediately crowd around to make friends, and the sheep and cows in the adjoining alcove, poke out their noses inquisitively. After more greetings, our hostess bustles off to a corner to prepare food for us. Smoke fills the house, and presently she comes out with some small cups of potent coffee, together with the injera and wat. (Injera is a sort of sour bread, made in disks 1 ½ feet in diameter, and about ? in thick. Wat is a sauce, ? red pepper with either chicken or lamb mixed in.) Our hostess tears off a piece of injera, rolls it up, and after 'dunking' it in the wat, stuffs it into the mouth of the guest sitting on her right. That one forces a smile, swallows quickly, and grabs for the coffee, which, being seasoned with a good deal of salt, tends to act as an emetic. She keeps it down, however, and then we are asked to help ourselves. We proceed, gingerly to do so, being careful, always, not to offend our hostess. When unnoticed, we may feed a large bit to the chickens, who gobble it up in a hurry, and, well, --coffee soaks into the dirt floor quickly! Suddenly we hear a scratching at our side, then a growl. A board is lifted, and out from a hole in the floor jumps the family dog just awakened from his nap.
After eating, and exchanging of remarks, Byena reads a portion from the Bible. By interpretation we give a short [] message, setting forth the story of our Lord's coming from heaven to this earth to take on the form of a man, and dying on the cross, thus paying the penalty for our sins, - that we, believing on Him, might have eternal life. The boy leads in prayer before we depart, our hostess saying, "May God give you thanks, you will come again? May health be given you," and so we leave, with a prayer in our hearts that the Lord will touch her heart and bring her into a personal relationship with Himself.
(Incidentally, when home, a quick disrobement is in order. Fleas hide in the most unexpected places!!)
---[letter #6; original in long hand on onion paper, one side only, and folded]
August 26, 1934
I'm a pill! Here I have two unanswered letters from you now! Maybe some day I'll turn into a good correspondent, but chances seem slim.
I'll try to answer questions before I start other ramblings. Firstly, [about lepers], I see lepers every day of my life here. They're everywhere, roaming about, many of the worst of them begging on the streets. Our mission has a Leprosarium where present we have 75 lepers, giving them the latest treatments. I was visiting on the compound last Wednesday, and visited in the clinic where they give the various injections. I've lost all fear of them, and some of the lepers are most loveable. The nodular cases are most interesting and unusual. What is a crime is to see small kids with it, though; one fellow eight years old is over there. They are kept busy weaving, gardening, and helping build, and are very happy. Many claim to [] be Christians, and it's wonderful that at their frequent deaths and burials over there, there is none of the heathen wailing, practiced by most Abyssinians. Incidentally, another girl and I started a Sunday school class for girls and women in town today, and one of those who came was a leprous woman in fairly advanced stage. Of course we don't touch them, and so can't get it.
[The following two paragraphs were omitted by MNK in her final draft.]
However, one thing here that does cause me to shiver whenever I stop to think about it is that about 99% (various estimates differ) of these people have either syphillis or ghonorrea. For instance, our cook has it, our night watchman, in fact, of all the boys on the place, there's but one who I'm sure hasn't the disease. We just have to trust the good Lord to protect us, and He has, too! The cook is clean and every once in a while has an injection, but still he has it. It's frightful.
Just today, I met a very sad case. In Sunday School class we told them the story of Moses being put among the reeds as a baby to be saved from Pharoah. We told how God loved the child and saved him from death and how he loved each one of us. One lady spoke up then, and said she had a little baby, and wanted to know if God loved it, too. We told her "yes," and then after the meeting, she insisted on taking me to her home and showing me the child. I went. The baby was naked, half wrapped in a bit of cloth. I could see at once it was a half breed, half Greek or Armenian, probably, and its legs and tummy were covered with syphillitic sores. It just made me shiver, and they were so revulsive. The mother said, "Jesus loves it, doesn't he?" and she gave me and it a big smile. Such is the life on the mission field. But it's not all sordid, by any means.
Some of the darlingest girls about ten or twelve years old came today. We had to go visiting on the various compounds in back of our bookshop in Addis, to get permission of the mothers for their children to come, and two or three of these girls were awfully shy when I called for them today. However, they went home gaily singing "Jesus loves me, this I know" (in Amharic, of course) and it gave me a thrill. They're SO responsive to a little love. [...]
If you still have those old seeds, you could slip a few in a letter, IF YOU WISH. Most things grow wonderfully, out here. Good soil, lots of rain and sun.
I'm still here in Addis, after I had everything all set several times to go down to Soddu before the rains began. However, I still have hopes of going down there about the middle of October or November. In that case, we'll be married at Soddu, two days trek this side of Gamo. We're expecting the wedding to take place about February first, maybe before, maybe a bit after. It depends upon when Dr. Lambie gets there. He'll be visiting the station about then, and we want him to marry us. He's a dear! []
The rains haven't been as bad as I thought they would be. Each day, we've had at least an hour or two of rain. Usually, if it rains in the morning, we can count on sun in the afternoon, and vice versa. Only when it rains, it pours, and how!! The grass has shot up, the flowers also, and everything is so fresh and pretty, and amazingly cool. I usually wear a sweater all morning, anyway. The rains stop on Sept. 15, (usually on that day, exactly) and then the winds begin; cold and stiff for about two months, and then our hottest season. It all seems so funny! [...]
Marian, I wish you were out here to see me engineering life here at Headquarters now. I've been made housekeeper, have had the job about one and one half months, now. Overseeing the two cooks, two table boys, two laundry boys, as well as horse boy and woodchopper (handy-man). It's interesting, and has many problems. Had 25 people at supper tonight, some company, but our crowds vary frightfully from day to day. I sit at the head of the table, get that honor, but then, all the work, too, of settling disputes between the boys, sending the cook off to market twice a week; advising him as to what desserts, menus, etc., are best; keeping the rooms cleaned and inmates satisfied. It's almost a full-time job. They are having a lady come out from the States especially for that soon, but until then, someone else has to do it. [...]
Am happy, busy, enthusiastic and well. Mal's fine, and we're counting the days. Oodles of love,
P.S. Language is being conquered slowly but surely. Can make myself understood somehow, always. []
September 18, 1934
"First Stop Marako!" And here we are. Arrived in the rain, Saturday morning, after a really unusual trek for the rainy season.
We left Addis one day later than planned, because Eric Horn developed a bad cold, but we got off at about 7:30 Wednesday morning with the sun shining. Stopped in at Furi to say goodbye to the folks, and then three of us, all on horses, Nell, Eric and I started out off across the cotton soil of the Furi plain. Was muddy, but not too bad, except in a few places where there seemed to be a little stream every rod or so, flowing down from the hills. Crossing those, the mud came up to the horses' tummies more than once. My horse seemed to get mat at all these crossings, and several times stopped in the middle of a little brook and started to paw the water with one foot, giving me a grand shower bath!! We had sent two boys on with our lunch, and so, when we overtook them at "The Witch-doctor's Shop" (name of a little village), we sat down under a tree and ate our sandwiches, drank our tea from a thermos, etc., then went on.
The road one follows on trek is a joke. Just a winding path across fields, over hill and down dale, sometimes hardly discernable because of long grass, or rocky soil. In many places the "road" leads over sandstone and limestone ledges where endless numbers of mules and donkeys have worn two and three foot deep [] paths into the solid rock. Several of these were so bad that the animals couldn't pass through with their packs, as the path was too narrow, and so had to make detours.
That first day, we ate our lunch at 10:30, and pladded on, with the country growing increasingly drier till we spotted our tents all set up on a hill above and across the Hawash river, about 2:00 P.M. The Hawash is one of the large Ethiopian Rivers (which dries up in the desert near British Somaliland), and was especially full at this time. Just recently a sort of raft has been built by the Government for crossing, built on empty gas drums and pulled across by hand pulleys. We crossed by paying two cents each; paying three cents each for our animals, and got into camp at 2:30. First thing, we got our cots set up (had all the bedding, etc., in our duffle bags), and then had the cook make tea. (We are quite a town in ourselves, on trek. Nell and I have a quite large tent, Eric has a small army tent, then we have a cook-tent, and another for the negadis. As for men, we had the negadis, six head carriers, then Eric's cook, and a boy for the horses, and Nell and I have one personal boy between us. He makes up our cots, brings bath water, waits on table, helps pack up in the mornings, and then carries our lunch-kit on the road. While here at Marako, he makes our beds, does the little washing and ironing we have, and other odd jobs. Gets equivalent to $3.25 American, per month.) We don't have milk on trek, so brought along a bottle of lime syrup, which we made in Addis. Flavors our water nicely. After tea, the boy brought [] bath water, heated over the open fire, and we each had a bath in my tin bathtub (which, incidentally, we filled with vegetables, two deitz lanterns, and a little tin of my flower slips, - rose, honeysuckle, Italian Apple, etc., and had a man carry on his head on the road.) After that we rested a bit, gave the cook potatoes, vegetables, etc., for supper, went for a walk, and came back to eat a good chicken dinner (we'd brought the chicken, all cooked, from Addis) under the fly of our tent, and after prayers, packed off to bed with the sun, and my! How we slept! Got up at 5:30, and were on the road at 7:00, next morning. (Breaking camp can't be described, only experienced!) And we took a little detour to see the falls of the Hawash. They were beautiful, way off in the wilderness there, and on the opposite side of the river were a great number of monkeys, playing among the rocks.
That day was fairly short, no rain on the road again, and just uphill, down dale, as the other. Passed two corpses, hanging in trees, - thieves! One was quite recently killed; the other had been there at least two months or more. He was all stretched out seven or eight feet long. The crows and vultures had eaten all the meat off his skull, and the soles of his feet had fallen to the ground. The next day, we passed a third one, very, very old. From the thighs down had fallen to the ground, only his long, stretched arms and claws of fingers remained with a few tatters of clothing flapping in the wind. The scent about the place wasn't too delicious!
The countryside is quite closely populated. Like a rural population, farms, plowed fields, and crops of grain everyplace, rolling plains, with very steep places leading up and down to and [] from the rivers. Forded the Big and Little Layman rivers, and had very tough going for the horses in several places. Can't walk much and give them rest, as it's too muddy. Were only five hours on the road that day. Camped at Byen Thrush, and didn't we all look like boiled beets with the reddest noses you ever saw!! (Mine's peeling, now!) Had a swell supper of beef bouillon tea, green beans, beets, potatoes, meat, custard over stale cake (made with custard powder), and cocoa.
Next day I didn't feel so hot - thought I was getting dysentery - and felt miserable all day till after we'd gotten to camp. Didn't eat breakfast, or lunch, but kept up with the party and was alright by night. There had been rain during the night so that the road was somewhat muddy. Had a long day. Left camp at 6:30, arrived at Ati Sagara at 2:30. Camped right in a little village next to a sort of native hotel where the women of the village sat under a tree selling injera, wat, and all sorts of drinks and grains. We had some audience, getting camp set up, but it wasn't too bad. The hyenas were around close that night, and our horses dragged up the stake to which they were chained and ran away across the fields. The boys caught them, though, and we got a good bit of sleep. Got up next morning to the tune of "Rain on the Roof"! The negadiis refused to leave camp till it stopped, but since we only had a short way to go to Marako, we three started off, trusting them to bring in the goods. I rode a mule that day, as my horse's back was getting sore (they've burned it since, and it's on the road to good wholesome recovery), and [] was glad I did, as I never saw such mud, and the ravines seemed especially steep and treacherous. We plodded on hour after hour, plop-plop, plop-plop, and blub-blub some of the time, as they pulled their feet out of the mud. But at 10:30, we got here, soaked to the skin in spite of our rain coats. There are only two New Zealand girls on the station now, with the Bartons going home on furlough, but they got us into dry clothes, poured tea down our throats, and we were fully revived.
This station had the two main mud-walled, thatch-roofed houses, and then a small chapel, clinic, and various outhouses. 'Tis situated in the Valley of the Great Rift that runs up through Palestine - quite thickly populated, here. It's only 6,000 feet altitude, and has hills on all sides. 'Tis beautifully green now, flowers lovely, and it's all seemingly peaceful. However, every inhabitant is a possible thief.
Nell and I are sleeping alone in the Barton's empty house, and then are eating with the girls. I'm getting over my dread of spiders, for the house is full of them, and the dirt floors are dirty, etc….. I'm getting used to everything! But we're quite comfortable, and dry, except when it rains too hard and comes through the thatch!
The kitchen is separate, and just now, our negadiis have bought a big ox - to take to Addis to kill for Mescal time (26th of this month), and they've shut him in the kitchen. He's a brute, but only cost them $4.00 American.
This season of the year is one of great festivity here. The beginning of their new year, and the end of the rains. [] Sunday was a big day in this province, and the great wedding day of the year. We could hear the minor singing of wedding precessions all over the country as the bridegroom took the bride to his house. They have frightfully cruel treatment for the bride. One week before the wedding they cut her fingernails down to the roots, leaving on long to scratch her head with; then Wednesday they make her drink Koso, a frightfully strong laxative used to expel worms; Thursday she fasts; Friday she must drink Koso again; Saturday she fasts, and Sunday is the wedding. By that time the girl is unconscious, and she must be held on the mule by two men as the bridegroom takes her home. We watched two processions go by here, the bridegroom and his friends riding on ahead and then the poor girl, looking for all the world as though she were dead, and swathed all I white - from head to foot - so that she looks about like a corpse. As they near the bridegroom's house, groups of children come out singing to welcome them. It's quite Eastern, and would be picturesque if it weren't for the terrible way they treat the bride. These people are "Christians" too, Coptics. For a whole year after the wedding, the girl must not leave the house, and then when they are allowed their freedom, most of them run away, back to their parents or friends.
At this station, they now have a small company of believers, and it surely was thrilling to attend service here Sunday morning, and have the believers take full charge of the meeting. They sang lustily; two spoke, giving their testimonies, one a blind man, and the other the gardener here, and then several led in prayer. They were all so earnest. Do pray they'll remain steadfast, and really witness here. []
---[letter #8; original handwritten on onion paper, one side only, and folded; in the eary typed draft of the collection, MNK inserts the following note here:
In a letter to another cousin, Enid tells of her trip south. She describes noon camps made beside peaceful streams, while a host of wild yellow canaries sported in a nearby clump of trees; of long treks made through an ever-changing countryside, uphill and down dale; of native villages, growing ever more far apart, and ever more sparsely settled, where the people, both men and women, with their children, dogs and chickens crowded around the travelers to catch, many of them, their first glimpse of a white person.]
Duromie, Kambatta, Ethiopia, Africa.
December 22nd, 1934
Your November third letter arrived two weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to answer it. But so it goes. Thanks so much for the Basil Leaf seeds. I'll save them till we really get settled where we're going to be, and then we'll see if they grow. Don't know as I have heard of it before - but hope it comes up all right - for seasonings is one thing you can't get much of out here, besides salt and pepper.
Now for your questions. About bugs - there are bushels of them: - we're always picking up fleas, and bedbugs, and body lice from the natives, and I have a search through my bed every day for these little "friends". I, too, was jittery about spiders but just had to get over it out here with so many millions of them around - all sizes, shapes, and colors. My worst experience, though, was one night, just as I was going to sleep one fell from the bamboo ceiling onto my cheek - a big one. My flashlight revealed what he was, and then I lost him in the folds of the blankets. Believe me I ripped the room up until I finally found and killed him, hiding under the instep of my shoe, under the bed. Had a creepy feeling all night long! There are flies by the hundreds, following the natives and covering the faces and eyes of little kiddies, but they don't often get in the house to bother us too much. Ants are here - red, black, and white. We daren't set any wooden object flat on the floor because of the white ones, but [] put them on props, and set the legs of tables, etc., in tin cans. Black army ants come, off and on, but once they start streaming into the house, you have to get out, till they go. I've not had any experience with them personally, but most missionaries have. Little red ones eat the vegetables and especially the strawberries in the garden. Honey bees are plentiful, and consequently we have lots of honey. The natives build houses for them and put them in trees - long, barrel-shaped houses they are: . The dot marks the hold where they enter. Hornets and wasps are few and far between. Zillah Walsh just had a terrible time with white ants when she found them eating away the partition between her living-dining room and bedroom. They first appeared as a big cluster on the wall, but in running them to the source, we had to dig two feet down, underneath the partition, following their tunnels. We tried burning them, drowning them with Lysol water, digging them, and about the sixth day, discovered they died quickest by pouring boiling water on them.
One of the biggest destroyers, however, are the borers that get into the bamboos and any kind of wood, and riddle it with little holes. It may take ten years or so before a roof will fall in, but meanwhile, there is a continual shower of fine borer dust, sifting down over everything. It would be the ruination of a too persnickety housekeeper. This sounds like an awful tale, but you soon get used to them all, -step on spiders nonchalantly (I've even come to squashing a few I know to be harmless with my hand), and accept them all as everyday trials [] and really think nothing about them. [...]
Just three more days, and it will be Christmas - it doesn't seem possible! [...]
Here it's hard to get excited over Christmas with nobody else knowing anything about it; no signs in the evening paper "Five shopping days until Christmas"; no rushing bustle in down town stores, or attractive display windows and decoratings, etc. away from all the commercialism, one thinks more of the real meaning of it all. We've been making Christmas cookies, mince meat, and today Johnnie Phillips went down an hours' ride to the plain and came back with three ducks and three geese, so we'll have plenty of meat and will save the ham they had sent to them from the U.S. until New Years'. [...]
Thanksgiving time, Mal and I were made awfully happy when Dr. Roberts invited us both to his house at Soddu. I rode down from here with a boy on horseback in one day, and Mal started at 3:00 A.M., and rode the four days' trek from Gamo to Soddu in one hard day, arriving there at 8:30 P.M. with the both himself and the horse about dead. Because of that, though, we had five glorious days together. The Roberts are peaches, and Dr. Roberts is going to give me away at the wedding. Now, Mal has gone to Gofa, eight days' trek, a little north and west of Gamo, to help repair some buildings there, - (The roof fell in because of the borers), - and to help the couple there with the language. (He's made quite a name for himself with his language ability!! Ahem!)
Since most recent word has it that they want a nurse and teacher at Gamo, rather than another married couple to stay with the Streets, we'll probably not be there. We may temporarily be at Gofa, an older and larger station, until the old workers [] come back from furlough, and then Doctor Lambie has asked us what we'd think of opening up an entirely new work in the Gamo-Gofa area. There is nothing we'd like better, and so do hope they'll decide on a new station there, with us on it!
As to the wedding time, it again seems to be postponed, since Dr. Lambie has been called north to settle some land question, and won't be able to get to Soddu until sometime in February. Early in January, I'm to leave here to live with the Roberts until the wedding. Just now, the Doctor is away, giving medical treatment to the Gamo Governor and all his friends, etc. - a three weeks' trip. I must quit this soon, - it's getting late!!
Have been doing a lot of visiting as usually recently, - also, I'm helping in "school" one hour, five days a week. Zillah and I have about ten boys, teaching them to read. It takes about three months to get them to know the 250-letter Ethiopian alphabet, and then, they have nothing printed in their own language. Mr. Duff, however, is now translating the Gospel of Matthew, and it will probably be printed by the time these can read. Then, too, I'm helping make baby formulas, meals, etc., as Peg [Mrs. Phillips] hasn't too much strength back yet.
Lots of love -- [...] Am loving you all,
It had been an exciting day for Enid when Dr. Lambie called her to his office to say that a party of missionaries would be traveling south early in August and that she could join it. On her arrival down country, Enid was to study Walamo. There was no room for her at Soddu so she was to go to Duromi in the Kambatta tribe. Duromi was twenty-five miles north of Soddu.
The rain poured down daily in August when Enid made the journey south. Her horse skidded in the mud a hundred times each mile. The rain beat through her American raincoat, "guaranteed waterproof." After that it did not matter so much when she encountered a swollen stream. She was already drenched. At Duromi she scribbled a note to me and sent it by the rest of her party which was going on to Soddu. When the letter finally dropped out of the bag, poor Nick had to listen while I told him the news.
"Enid is at Duromi!" I shouted.
It was good to have her that close. I was about sixty-five miles south of Soddu, Enid twenty-five miles north. Ninety miles did not seem far, though we did not reckon distances in miles but by days' travel. Uncle Nick must have been bored with my alternate bursts of enthusiasm and despair, depending on what kind of letters the mailbags produced, but he had to take it. People in love have to talk about it to somebody and Nick was stuck with me. But despair now vanished. Each day brought us closer to our wedding, though no date had been set.
---[letter #9; original handwritten on onion paper, one side only, and folded]
January 7th, 1935
Dearest Marian, []
[...] I told two of the boys in the kitchen about my Uncle dying, and they said, "Aren't you weeping?" To them "weeping" means cutting their cheeks and arms, and shrieking for at least a week's time, off and on. I told them I was sad because God had called him to heaven, but I was sad for those who were left behind. They were quite impressed, and I heard them talking to each other afterwards. They said, "The foreigners do not 'weep' because they know a person goes to heaven to be with Jesus Christ, who loves them, and whom they love, but the people here do not know where they are going to go when they die, and they have no hope." These boys are Christians, and still they can never get over the fact that one can know for a certainty where they're going after death.
Well, I'm really going to Soddu - leaving a week from today. Dr. Roberts has returned from Gamo, where he gave out one hundred thalers worth of medicine to the Governor and his followers. In return, the governor gave him three hundred thalers for the new hospital which they are just now starting at Soddu!! Then, as people came to his tent along the road, he was able to look after them. He and two nurses were giving medical aid for seven days without a break, in that one little community, and could have kept on, except that they wanted to be home for Christmas. I'll be writing from there, next time.
Have been keeping busy here recently, studying, visiting, cooking, etc. Just Saturday, Nick Simponis surprised us by riding in, in the afternoon. He's on his way to Addis [] and then north to Debra Markos where the mission has just received permission for a station with a school for the blind. There are thousands of blind people in this country with nothing, as yet, being done for them. A specially trained teacher for the blind has just arrived from England, and Nick is to help, first in the building, and then in the school. He's Greek, educated in the States. Previously, he's been working with Mal, down at Gamo, and he told me just how lucky I was to get Mal for a husband. Ahem! He said he never met a fellow whom he grew to admire so much. As for language, Nick says Mal just "soaks it in like water". I'm getting afraid, - I'll be such a drawback to him! But just the same, it's nice to have other people tell you how nice "the certain person" is.
Nick spoke at Sunday Service, thirty six present, three of them beggars; in the afternoon Zillah and I visited six homes, telling the Gospel story in four; then home to a meeting for believers; sixteen present; and finally we had our own evening service, just for the "whites". Our choir isn't so beautiful, and our organ is squeaky, and we pile wood on the fireplace fire between the song service and the "sermon" (read from a book, - "Keswick Convention Report" - the sermons preached at a conference in Keswick, England, last July) but we have a blessed time, anyway.
[...] Lots of love, [...]
First we would have to pass our language examinations, then Lambie would inquire about our adaptability during our first year in the country. If our language work was acceptable and our general conduct and efficiency passable, we would be allowed to proceed with our wedding plans. Our engagement was in its fourth year, and I did not want to prolong it by failing in my language examinations. So I spent less time mixing bread and stirring chocolate pudding and finishing the house, and concentrated on my language notes and conversing with our neighbors.
I visited in the Gamo huts around us or sat with the children as they herded their cattle on the terraces that rose to the very tops of the mountains. There was plenty to do. Even so, time passed with excruciating slowness until at last the foggy days were gone and the roar of the wind and the falling rain diminished. September and October were done.
5. Some Trust in Horses
[[see Enid's letter of 22 Dec 1934 (above)]]
On the Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, a boy came walking in from Soddu. He had a letter for me from Dr. Roberts, who had replaced Lewis as District Superintendent during the latter's furlough. I read the letter and started jumping. Enid was going to Soddu! The letter was my invitation to join her there for a few days' visit over Thanksgiving. It was a three-day trek to Soddu or two days fast travel. I had just one day. Could I make it?
If I traveled in the usual way, I would hire a couple of pack mules to carry my tent and equipment. If I could find the mule men and work hard on preparations, I could reach Soddu for Christmas. But my invitation was for Thanksgiving -- day after tomorrow.
With the first whoop after I opened the letter, Nick knew something was up. I told him about it.
"When are you going to go?" he asked.
"About three tomorrow morning," I replied.
It was already past five, and there was much to do to prepare for the arduous trip. As far as I knew, nobody had ever made it in one day. T'hat was what I would have to do, traveling light. I would have no tent, no food except lunch, only enough drinkng water for the day, and no facilities for boiling more.
Nick shook his head. "Haven't you got any sense?"
But Nick and I did not have the same point of view.
I had made only one hurried trip over the road. I remembered that in places it was a mere cow trail with many smaller trails that were as well traveled as the main road. There were stretches of uninhabited country where there were no sides. But I was in no mood to be pessimistic. I did not know much about the road but I knew what awaited me at the other end, and my dappled gray horse would take me there. []
By three the following morning everything was ready and I had had a little sleep. Our local boy, Tola, who had just begun to work for me, had agreed to lead the way with a lantem until daylight. The boy who had brought the mail was to carry a small bundle of clothing to Soddu for me; it would probably arrive the evening of Thanksgiving Day. I jumped into the saddle. I had long since given up using a stirrup for mounting. As Nick and I said our farewells, my dappled gray started off briskly.
I followed Tola as he glided along in the darkness, the little lantern lighting the way. He took the sharp turns around tree trunks. He climbed over the broken-down terrace walls from one level to another. He hopped from stone to stone through the many babbling brooks, down the long bank to the rim bottom, across the stream and then a hard pull up the other side. Up and down. Up and down. There was little level country to traverse.
At five o'clock the black sky began to turn gray. In the tropics it does not take long for day to dawn, once the first streaks of light appear. I called to Tola to stop, for now I could see my way. I would have to trot and canter over much of the road to Soddu far, far away. So I said my salaams to Tola and he said his to me, with a few extra for my lady whom he had never seen.
Tola was a sweet boy. It was doubtless difficult for him to understand my situation. Why all this sitting apart for so long? Why don't they get married without so much running around? Obviously a man of his wealth should be able to pay the bride price and go ahead with the wedding. Tola blew out the lantern and began the walk back. He had plenty to think about.
I pulled on the reins, touched my horse's flanks with my heels, and cantered off. The road, already high, followed a ridge that climbed to over ten thousand feet. The ridge was narrow and fell away sharply on both sides of the road. I could see mountains and valleys in endless succession to the right into the rising sun and to the left where it was still gloomy. There was a lacy fringe of clouds in the east, on which the sun began to shine before its rays reached me.
The air was thin and chill until I began to drop down to a more pleasant altitude. By ten o'clock I had done a long day's trek. I kept on trotting, cantering, and walking my horse, which showed no signs of fatigue. On steep uphill grades I used my own feet to rest him. Now I was down from the extreme height and a few thorny acacia trees with [] their flat tops began to appear along the road. I waved to the farmers as I passed. They were stacking grain for threshing.
Although the rains had stopped only a few weeks before, the pastures were still green. Cattle grazed restlessly as they drove off the flies. Tick birds slid over the backs of the cows in search of ticks. At two o'clock I stopped, watered my horse, and let him graze while I ate my sandwiches. A Gamo man squatted nearby to watch. I greeted him in his language.
"Are you going to sleep here?" he asked.
"No," I replied, "I'm going to Soddu."
The man looked puzzled. Not many foreigners passed this way. Practically all who did were missionaries and they were usually accompanied by a caravan of mules and head carriers laden with tents, boxes, and paraphernalia. I must have looked like a refugee instead of a Lochinvar.
The afternoon was wearing away and much of my road still lay ahead. I cantered across the lowlands, often called the Baroda Desert. Up out of the lowlands I rode, past Mt. Humbo. The rains of the recent wet season had dashed down its slopes, leaving new scars in the red clay. Last year's path had become a ditch two feet deep and already the feet of passing mule men and local farmers had traced a new one parallel to it. All over the country Ethiopia's topsoil was being washed away. To the north and west the soil was being carried by the Blue Nile all the way to Egypt where it became the wealth of that land. Mt. Humbo's soil was being deposited in the lakes we could see from Gamo Station.
I dropped at last to the Walamo plain, the last stretch of road I had to cover. It seemed endless. We cantered again and put chunks of the plain behind us. What an animal! By the time we were halfway across the plain, we had done nearly sixty miles. He was still going strong but I finally let him set his own pace. As daylight began to fade, I could pick out the location of the station. Roads crisscrossed everywhere in this populous area but there were few houses nearby. It was almost dark as I began to climb up out of the plain onto the ridge that ran to the station. I knew Enid was up there somewhere on the ridge but I did not know just how far away.
Before reaching the top of the rise, I heard soft noises behind me. My horse was suddenly restless. I jumped off to have a look around and in the dimness were the heads of three hyenas. I quickly picked up several good-sized rocks and threw them at the intruders. Or was I the intruder? I remembered the snapshot I had seen of the hindquarters of a mule owned by one of our missionaries. A hyena had torn a big hunk [] of flesh from the animal while it was being ridden. The mule had continued under its own power.
I began to wonder if I had been foolish to attempt such a journey in one day. Darkness, fatigue, and an uncertain road lower one's morale. It was now impossible to know which path to take and progress was slow.
Suddenly I saw a shadow against the sky. It was a hut. I called out and a Walamo tribesman emerged cautiously. We greeted each other at length, for I knew that not even in cases of extreme urgency could one omit the greetings. Then I told him my predicament and he was obviously relieved when he saw what I was. He knew missionaries did not cause trouble at night -- nor in the daytime, for that matter. He accepted my offer of a week's wages to lead me to my destination, stating it would take an hour but that he wanted the dollar first. When I paid him, he handed the money to his wife and we started out. I was too tired to handle my horse so I gave the reins to my guide and slumped, relaxed, in the saddle.
It was eight o'clock when I saw lights. At the beginning of the Mission lane I met the night watchman. I jumped to the ground, said farewell to my guide, and told the watchman to put my horse in the barn.
"I'm not the horse boy," he protested. "I'm the night watchman."
He chose the wrong time to argue with me. I put the reins in his hands and was well on my way to the house. I had traveled about sixty-five miles to see my love and had been on the road seventeen hours.
I knocked on the door. Enid was still waiting, alone, in the living room; the others had given me up for that day. In those few moments at the open door I forgot the long way I had come, forgot my weariness, forgot the hyenas, forgot the puzzle of many paths leading nowhere.
The next morning Enid wondered if my horse were still alive. I suggested we had better go and see him. As we walked down the lane I grabbed her hand. I did not hold it long, much as I wanted to. People might not understand.
My faithful horse had been well taken care of by the night watchman. We found him standing in his stall, munching hay. As I pushed the door open, he nickered and I wondered what he thought of me. I told the boy who was bringing in the grain to give him all the barley he could eat.
"When did you start up from Gamo?" he asked.
"Yesterday, early," I replied.
"Yesterday?" He stopped pouring the grain and his jaw dropped. "You left Gamo yesterday and arrived here yesterday? What kind of horse [] is this?" He shook his head. Some very important business must have called me, he quite evidently thought, for he asked, "And why did you come so quickly?"
"This is the girl I am going to marry," I said, pointing at Enid. "I came to see her."
The boy's face grew even more puzzled. White people did such strange things! This one tried to kill himself and his horse just to see a woman. He finished pouring the barley and went out the door. He needed to find one of his own kind to talk to. This was too good to keep to himself.
My horse finished his barley and I turned him loose in the paddock to see if he would walk. He was a bit stiff but he would recover.
Enid watched as he moved slowly across the field. "You shouldn't have done it," she said.
"I had to," I replied.
Years later, when I revisited Soddu after the reoccupation of Ethiopia under His Majesty Haile Selassie, I wondered how I would be remembered. I had not spent much time at Soddu in those early days. A whole new generation had grown up unacquainted with the missionaries who had been there in pre-Italian times. Would I be known as one of those, or because mine had been the first and only wedding held there? I knew I would not be known as the preacher or teacher or the one who knew the language well for I had not been around long enough.
As I was greeting friends old and new in front of the village church, a friend of the old days was trying to explain who I was and how it happened that I knew Soddu so well.
"This is the man," he said, "who rode a horse from Gamo to Soddu in one day. . . . "
THANKSGIVING DAY passed and I said good-by to Enid again. I made the return trip to Gamo and Uncle Nick more leisurely.
"What's the news?" Nick asked, even before I had got down from my horse.
"Enid is to stay in Duromi until our wedding and I'm going to Gofa to be with the Andersons. Enid and I will be stationed there after our wedding."
[[see Enid letter of 7 Jan 1935, from Duromie, Kambatta]]
Nick was surprised to learn that I was to leave Gamo. "But what about me?" he inquired.
"You've been appointed to Debra Markos. I guess you're supposed to go soon. I'll stay until the Streets arrive. I've got a letter here for you."
Debra Markos was as far north of Addis Ababa as Gamo was south. I did not think Nick would like being transferred so far away.
"Well, that's good," he said instead. "I've been studying Amharic all along and it will be more useful to me there than here."
Nick packed his goods. Then one day he climbed into his saddle and rode away. As I watched him disappear over the hill, little could I foresee all that would happen before we would meet again.\n/
[Uncle Nick Simponis reappears on pp.108 and 119ff, in Chali (southeast Sudan) after the Forsbergs return to Africa to work in the Sudan.]
Soon the Streets arrived and it was my turn to leave. I took a last look at our skyscraper hut and the neat bungalow we had built for the Street family. Was this to be the pattern for the future -- work on a station for a while, grow to love it and the people, then move on, to start all over again in a strange place with strange people?
It was early morning when I said good-by to the Streets and jumped into the saddle. I turned in a new direction, southwest this time. Ahead lay an unknown road. When I reached Gofa station one week later, I rejoined Merle and Lillian Anderson who had recently returned from Soddu where their baby was born. Kenny was two months old when I arrived. []
My household duties were behind me and I now boarded with the Andersons. At last I was free to spend from six to ten hours a day on language study and visitation. Fortunately the Gofa language was the same as that spoken in Walamo and Gamo, with some variations. But marriage was not my sole objective. I wanted to start preaching.
I made such rapid progress with the long hours of study that by the end of my first month in Gofa I began preaching at the Sunday morning services. My talks were not sensational but it was satisfying to be able to speak to the people. And they understood!
When the mailbags arrived from Soddu, I received more sympathy and understanding from the Andersons than I had from Uncle Nick. When the long-awaited letter finally arrived, and I shouted, "We're going to get married!" the Andersons joined in the excitement. I was to get to Soddu as quickly as possible. Enid had already been there with the Robertses for nearly a month.
I made the eight-day trip to Soddu in five days. Enid was waiting to join me -- in our first Walamo language examination. I had had the best opportunities for study and conversation, having been in the Walamo speaking area the entire time. But the best marks went to Enid -- a fine thing when in a few days I was to take over as the head of our new household
March was near and we waited impatiently for final word from Dr. Lambie in Addis Ababa. His approval came at last in a letter to Dr. Roberts, which also suggested that another engaged couple be married at the same time as we. Harold Street would come up from Gamo to perform the ceremony. A lot of slow travel by muleback was necessary to get preacher, brides, grooms, and attendants together for missionary weddings in Ethiopia. It would be simpler to have a double wedding.
"When shall we be married?" we asked Dr. Roberts.
[[wedding accounts by Mal in March 1935, and Enid on 18 April 1935]]
---[letter #10; mimeographed and folded, long paper, single sided]
Soddu, Walamo, Ethiopia
[14 March, 1935]
(NOTE: - The following is a 'blanket letter', sent to all who might [] be interested in their wedding, and it was written by Mal.)
Dear friends: -
The long awaited wedding day is over, and Enid and I have been a happy married couple for some time, and it's growing sweeter every day. Perhaps it would be better to go way back, and start the story.
I got news in Gofa that I was to come to Soddu on a certain date, and that the folks here would send me pack animals for the trip. When I finally left I made the eight day trek in five days, traveling for twelve hours the last day, to get here on Enid's birthday. For a couple of weeks, there was bad news…that Dr. Lambie hadn't gotten to Addis yet from the north, and that our wedding date was still indefinite. Finally we did get word that we were to call Mr. Street up from Gamo to perform the ceremony. There was excitement aplenty up, then. We set the date for March 14th.
Mr. Norman Couser had succeeded in winning the hand of Miss Florence Ottinger at Christmas, so we planned a double ceremony. We sent a man to Lambuda to tell Mr. Couser to hurry down. Then I telephoned at Sidamo to have Miss Ottinger come over at once. Telephoning in this country is a real experience. Finally, I sent a man off to Gamo together with carriers, to get Mr. Street up.
On Tuesday morning, Mr. Couser got in from Lambuda. Wednesday morning Miss Ottinger and Mr. Devers came in from Sidamo. At noon, I rode about an hour out on the plain and met Mr. Street. When we got in, the number was complete. Everybody set to work [] doing everything to make the affair a success.
Miss Lois Briggs got some palm branches and set these in soil in some gas tins so that the branches were arranged like the living trees. In amongst the palm greens and others were beautiful calla lilies. The ceremony was planned for half past three. We had invited the servant boys, and their wives and native believers. They all arrived, more or less promptly, and seated themselves in the middle of the floor. Behind them were the non-participating white people, Miss Briggs, Mrs. Roberts, Mr. Ray Dabis and Mr. Tom Devers.
Mr. Street came in and stood among the greens in front of the fireplace. I came in and stood facing him, and Mr. Couser followed me. Then, to the strains of "Lohen grin" the two brides marched in from different doors. It was all so beautiful. Of course the wedding march was played on the phonograph. The operator got the record wrong side up, the first time. The ceremony was simple, but tied the knot well.
Mrs. Roberts had been ultra busy making high class sandwiches, cakes, cookies, and what not. It was a grand meal, though we all ate too much. One of the big men of the district, Fetaurari Zummie, in charge of the King's soldiers here, came in just after the service, and gave us a big fat goat. Fetaurari Boculla was here, too.
Finally the Cousers got away to a moonlight start for Lambuda, and after a long walk, Enid and I went to our temporary room in the west end of the clinic building. Monday, we moved into Robert's big house, as they left that morning for Addis Ababa, [] where Dr. Roberts was to take part in the meetings of the Field Council. Miss Briggs went with the Roberts.
Ever since, we have been having a grand time. We have three boarders, Mr. David, who is working on the new hospital here, and two young ladies from Marako, who are on their vacation.
We have not heard what the Field Council has decided about us, where we are to go. We have prayed much about it, and know the Lord will do best.
No doubt some of you are wondering as to how the Ethiopian Italian affair is going to affect us. About all we know of the matter is what we read in papers and magazines from home. However, we can read a lot more into it than you can. I guess Italy is going to make another try at Ethiopia. It will be a terrible affair. None of our stations, with the possible exception of Addis Ababa, are near the borders of the possible battle grounds. There is no danger as far as we are concerned. Our concern is for Ethiopia and her people. Pray that, whatever happens, the Gospel of Christ will be advanced and not hindered. It may be that for a while it will be difficult for us to get letters in and out. We hope you will not be unduly concerned. The whole matter to us is, "Is Ethiopia to have the Gospel or not?" Some light has come thru because of the Gospel already preached. Pray that night will not descend so soon again on these people.
Very sincerely yours,
Malcolm and Enid Forsberg.
P.S. Since writing the above, we have received word from Addis Ababa that we are to go to Gofa. We will probably leave here on [] April 23rd, and go by way of Gamo, so that I can pick up my goods there. - Mal.
(NOTE: A few additional highlights on the wedding came in another letter from Mal to Enid's mother that was quoted in a Milwaukee newspaper article entitled "Mission in Africa, Smiling Natives, Scene of Wauwatosa Girl's Wedding":)
"Wednesday afternoon, Roberts' servants went out and brought in a pile of beautiful palm branches and other greenery. On either side of the fireplace was a gas tin in which was placed moist earth. In this, palm branches were placed, resembling the growing plant. In front of the fireplace, three Italian Apple plants were placed. They were blooming with soft lavender flowers. On top of the fireplace, there was a vase of beautiful calla lilies. All these were banked with branches from a kind of needle-leafed tree. It was like a shady bower, and made a perfect setting for such an occasion. The windows were trimmed with greens also.
"Wednesday evening we practiced, with all the foreign audience there. With so many participants it took some time to get the matter ironed out. With such men as Dr. Roberts, Street, Devers and Davis, and with the help of the women folks, there was considerable fun going around.
"We had invited all the native believers and Roberts' servants, together with the various wives. Just at wedding time they assembled and sat on the floor just in front of the settee on which the white population of Soddu station were ensconced. Altogether, there were about forty natives there with the odds and ends that drifted in from the road.
"We had planned to play the wedding march from 'Lohengrin', the preacher and the bridegrooms walking in, to the early strains, and the brides coming in later. On the other side of the record was Mendelssohn's wedding march. Dr. Roberts essayed to manipulate the talking machine. He got the wrong side of the record up, of course! Couser and I recognized it at once, but Street was already on his way in. anyway, they stopped the record, and turned it over.
"Street read the first part of the ceremony and then married the Cousers first; they are older. Their wedding ring had not arrived, so Norm went to the native market in the morning and bought a ring for two cents or so. They used it in the ceremony. It brought somewhat of a smile to our faces during the rites.
"The natives were served coffee and cookies while we took pictures. When they had cleared out, we had our wedding supper, -- and what a meal it was! We began with delicious sandwiches and coffee. Then there was a round of cakes, and more cakes. There was excellent punch. There was candy. []
"Just before we began to eat, Fetaurari Zummie, head of king's solders here, came up with a wedding present for us - a hard boiled goat! We gave it to the boys, and they are enjoying it today.
"We got into our riding clothes, thinking to go for a little ride. When I went for the horses I discovered that Dr. Roberts had the keys to the saddle house, and he was in no mood to give them up. I got a screw-driver with which to take the hasp from the door, but the men frustrated my plan. They thought we had put one over on them, and had set up camp somewhere, and they were intending to make it hot for us. I sent a boy down to Lewis' house to get saddles there, whereupon all the men dashed down to prevent such a move. Enid and I weren't particular, so we sneaked through a hole in the back fence and went walking, instead. In the meantime, the men were making things hum for the Cousers, and so they left late, and in a muddle. Norm was always talking about what a lot of fun it was going to be to ride by moonlight, so in order to make it sure, Dr. Roberts emptied out the gas from his lantern, and put water in."
One of the gifts which was given Enid was a live monkey from her husband. "Tiny, but oh, so cute! Name, Whiskers."
---[letter #11; typed, double sided, folded; at this point in the early draft, MNK inserts information and quotations from a letter from Enid to her mother dated 10 July 1935, about getting settled in their Gofa home. Also quotes from another newspaper article "Wauwatosa Missionary Knows Ethiopia Peril -- But Mother Here Doesn't Believe She Will Desert Post Even if Mountain Area Is Torn by War"; it contains mostly quotes from Enid's mother, and a picture of Enid.]
Soddu -- April 18, 1935
I'm way behind on my correspondence, especially in your case. *[...] But then, lots has happened, and weak though it is, that will have to be my excuse. []
I'm married!! And so happy that I couldn't describe it in a million years, -- but to say it's been more than worth while waiting for. [...] The big day was March 14th, and today is our five weeks anniversary. I've asked that a copy of our general letter be sent to you, and so won't repeat any of the things told in there about the wedding. But will try to give you a few of the highlights, or sidelights, or somepin'.
It was surely a hurried affair, but quite well arranged in spite of it. The news came in one Saturday, and the ceremony was next Thursday. The folks just got notified in the squeak of time to get here. The Cousers especially were rather unprepared, with Flossie arriving in here the day before the wedding, after a three days' trek. She was tired, with everything in a mess, but we got her stuff fixed for going on, and herself all beautified for the event. However, the ring they had ordered from England hadn't arrived, so the day before, Norm had to go tot eh native market and buy a little native silver ring for about the equal of twenty cents, which did the trick nicely. Mal had bought my ring in England on his way out - platinum.
We had the wedding at the time we did, principally because we knew pictures were of the utmost importance to the folks at home, and that's the best time of the day here to take them. So, as soon as the ceremony was over, we spent half an hour snapping. We've just received the prints back from Addis, and they turned out unusually well. Now we've got to order a great many copies of the ones we want, and you'll be seeing them sometime before the year is out, I guess. It takes so long to get things done, and get back to you from Addis and out here. []
Neither Flossie nor I had attendants, for if we had had, there would have been no white people to see the wedding. Dr. Roberts gave us both away, stepping up from the side and giving one, and then stepping around and giving the other away. He's the swellest Doctor and all 'round man I've ever met.
Since the wedding was held in the big center room of Roberts' house, from which open the other four rooms of the house, there were enough doors for most of us to have separate ones to enter by. The grooms and preacher came in from the dining room, and stood in front of the glorified fireplace, while Flossie and I came from separate bedrooms in the back, simultaneously, and met in the front. It sure was a howl when they got the wrong side of the record on, but we lived through it. We both carried calla lilies, and since her borrowed veil was a little shorter than my borrowed veil, I shortened my train to equal hers. We were pretty much alike, except that her dress had a short train on it and was made of satin, while mine was white crepe.
After the wedding day, and after all the Roberts had gone away up to Addis Ababa, we really had a sort of honeymoon. Of course, it took a bit of time away to cook for our three boarders, but they gave us lots of time to ourselves, and it was grand having Roberts' big room and grand bed, after our camp cots.
As I write now, however, all that is over and the Roberts have returned, relieving us of those responsibilities. AND we're getting ready to leave for Gofa. Four days yet, and then we'll be off. We've been appointed permanently to that station, about eight days trek from here. That's where Mal was for a short [] time after leaving Gamo. We're going by way of Gamo to pick up Mal's things that he left there, and so will probably be fifteen days on the road. While Gamo is straight south of here, Gofa is south-west, over piles and piles of mountain ranges. The station itself is 8,600 feet high - in a valley - but then, I'll tell you more about that when I get there.
We're sending twelve mule loads off ahead of us, going directly there, also two carriers, and then we'll have about seven or eight pack animals with us, with a good many more carriers. It will be good to have a house there to go into, before occupied by the Ohmans (now home on furlough), although much will have to be done, to the roof, especially, to make it habitable during the rains which are about to begin. The white ants have been raising havoc, in eating away the beams, and then the winds have blown much of the thatch off. I'll be thrilled stiff to have a home of our own which I can fix up with curtains, etc. [...]
Mind if I quit? I somehow haven't gotten into the swing of letter-writing since I've acquired a husband, but wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten you all. Will try to do better from Gofa. We should have an interesting trip, passing through gorgeous mountainous country, and then way down into the lowlands through high grass country, filled with game (and we have no gun, boo hoo), and finally up again to Bulke, and the mountain villages. [...]
Enid - and Mal]]
"As soon as everybody gets here. I'll send word off to Street and Couser" -- the other bridegroom -- "right away. You go over to town and see if you can get Sidamo on the phone. Tell them to get Flossie over here as soon as possible." Flossie, of course, was the other bride.
No lack of diligence on my part was going to delay our marriage. I ran down the road to the stable, saddled my horse, and galloped off toward town and the primitive telephone. If the phone isn't working, I thought, we'll have to send a runner to Sidamo and that will take time.
But the phone was working. I talked to one of our men and by much [] repeating and shouting, as well as rattling the hook up and down, I got the message across. "Flossie and Norman . . . double wedding with us . . . get Flossie over here as soon as you can . . . we'd like to have the wedding March 14." I hung up.
We had worked as quickly as possible but it was not until the second day that Norman Couser arrived, grinning and disheveled. He had ridden hard but the smile that seldom vanished was still on his face. And that smile came right up out of his heart. Norman was short and broad-shouldered and his hair sometimes resembled a mop. His work with the Ethiopians was far too interesting to allow time for the care of his clothes and hair.
On the third day Harold Street pulled in, and on the morning of the fourth, Flossie rode in on her mule, escorted by Tom Devers. The long trip across the lowlands had not upset her composure. She was just a trifle shorter than Norman, and as careful about her personal appearance as he was unconcerned about his. It was easy to see that Norman would continue his friendly visitation with his Ethiopian people and that Flossie would follow along, keeping everything neat and in order. She immediately set about to organize her part of the wedding.
Tom Devers had come to Ethiopia with Ray Davis, who was in charge of building for the Mission. Tom had been assigned to Sidamo Province, east of Walamo. He had been studying the Sidamo language hard for he, too, had wedding plans. Tom was tall and handsome, a Canadian who sometimes outdid the Americans in his good-natured banter. He led our devotional gatherings with earnestness and evidence of a deep spiritual hunger. Perhaps the Lord was preparing him for something special.
"Isn't some member of the American Legation supposed to witness the ceremonies or deputize one of us to do so?" Harold Street asked.
"Dr. Lambie wrote that the married couples could swear out affidavits the next time they go to Addis Ababa," Dr. Roberts replied.
It seemed rather confusing to us but we were in no mood to delay the proceedings by asking questions. Four years had been a long time, but now the past did not matter. Soon we would forget the weariness of waiting.
March 14 finally came. I had never shaved twice in one day but I decided this was the occasion to do so. That was about the only extra chore I had to take care of. The rest was much like getting ready for church on Sunday. It was different for Enid. She had to fuss over the white silk dress she had made, her flowers had to be arranged and she [] had to have her going-away clothes ready though we were not going anywhere.
Mrs. Roberts had already done her part. She had gathered as many of the ingredients as she could for a wedding cake and had turned out a truly professional job. Her cakes were always like that, beautiful to the eye and pleasing to the palate. She had also prepared the sandwiches and cookies for the wedding tea, as well as the food for the supper that was to follow. All of us had worked together gathering palm fronds and calla lilies with which to decorate the Roberts's living room where the service was to take place.
Right on schedule I walked across the "street" toward the Roberts's house. The building was an oddity but a very useful one. Five thatched peaks poked their heads upward. They covered the five round rooms of the house. The three bedrooms and the dining room were set at the four "corners" of the round living room and opened on to it. T'he kitchen stood by itself, thirty feet from the dining room. The space between the two front bedrooms formed a veranda on the front of the living room. It was all so rustic, so African, that we really looked forward to having our wedding there.
I entered the house through the back door and handed the recording of the "Wedding March" from Lohengrin to Nurse Lois Briggs. We had had it sent out from England; the wheezy organ would not do for this special occasion. The fireplace formed the background for the ceremony, which would be in the living room. It was flanked by the palm fronds we had gathered. T'hey still looked very much alive in their kerosene-can vases. Bouquets of lilies contrasted with the green of the palms. There were four missionary guests -- Nurse Lois Briggs, Mrs. Roberts, Ray Davis, and Tom Devers; the rest were involved in the ceremony. Dr. Roberts would give the brides away. Down the sides and across the front of the living room sat the Walamo Christians and the men who worked on the station.
T'he phonograph was ready in the back of the living room. When the music began, Harold Street went over to the fireplace. Norman was about to follow, when suddenly I realized something was not right. I grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
"T'hat's the wrong side of the record," I said. T'he phonograph had been playing Mendelssohn.
We could hear some scrambling in the living room. The music stopped, then began again. This time it was Lohengrin.
"You can go ahead now, Norman," I said with relief. [] He walked out and took his place facing Street, and I followed. We left a space between us for our brides.
As Enid came down the aisle, I turned toward her. She was beautiful in her wedding gown. Her dark hair under the veil softly framed her flushed cheeks and her brown eyes shone. She was beaming. I was, too, but nobody noticed. The white calla lilies she carried contrasted with her lovely color. There had not been many flowers to choose from that day but as long as the choice was calla lilies, it did not matter. Christ had said, "Consider the lilies of the field . . . your Father careth for them" [Matthew 6.28f]. In the days to come we would have many occasions to remember that He cared for us as He did for the lilies.
I had nothing to carry and consciously kept my hands at my sides lest I betray my emotion. The little distance Enid had to walk from the bedroom door to where I was standing was the end of the road it had taken four years to travel. We need not have waited that long just to get married but our marriage plans had to fit into the Lord's plan for our lives. Now our marriage was a rededication to His work. Enid was bringing her talents and deep devotion to the altar. For a woman to be willing to live and work in the isolated, primitive parts of tropical Africa, to raise a family there, and to keep her work with the Africans to the fore, required a special kind of dedication. At that moment I could not think of a thing I had to contribute. It was expected that men should roam the earth, play the pioneer, widen the frontiers of knowledge, and preach the gospel to all the world. Hers was the greatest gift.
As she stepped into the bower beside me I choked back tears of happiness.
At times Harold Street spoke to both couples but at the crucial points he addressed each couple separately.
"Do you, Malcolm, take Enid to be your wedded wife?"
I certainly did. Having been of one mind for four years I did not intend to change now. Norman and I produced our rings and Harold Street made his pronouncement over us:
"By the authority invested in me as a minister of the gospel, I pronounce you man and wife."
An uneasy thought crossed my mind. At home the ministers added "and by
the authority of the state." No representative from the American Legation
had come, and Dr. Lambie had written about swearing out affidavits the next
time we were in Addis Ababa. The marriage ceremony was ended but it was not
over. We were to find out about that later -- much later.
The phonograph started playing again, Mendelssohn this time. We had no particular place to march to, so we wandered out onto the veranda. The Cousers had set up their camp about three hours' journey along the road to their station. They would ride away as soon as the wedding supper was over.
"Norman will learn not to be so optimistic," Dr. Roberts chuckled.
"Why, what did he do?" I asked.
"I offered to fill his lanterns for him but he said this was once when they wouldn't need any light along the road. So I filled the lanterns with water!"
I became aware that our Ethiopian guests were not only observant but critical of the unfamiliar ceremony they had witnessed. As I listened to Godana and Chaka, I realized that the worst was yet to come. The two men had worked on the station for several years. Godana was tall and handsome and carried himself well, and he naturally became spokesman for any group he had happened to be in. Chaka was short and stocky, genial and not the kind who looked for trouble. Both were promising Christians.
"What kind of wedding is this?" Godana was complaining. "There is no feast. Are they going to give us only bread and cookies and tea?"
"It is not good," Chaka agreed. "How can they be properly married without a feast?"
I took Enid by the arm and we stepped up to the two unhappy guests.
"We are getting married according to the custom of our country," I tried to explain. "There we don't have a feast after the marriage."
"Truly, truly," Godana replied, "it is the custom of your country but you are getting married in ours."
This was no small matter. Our Ethiopian guests were helping themselves to sandwiches and tea with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Was our happy wedding day going to end on a sour note?
"T'hey really seem to be offended," Enid remarked disappointedly. Just then we heard a scuffling sound out by the gate and hurried to the door.
"It looks like the chief," she said.
During her month at Soddu prior to our wedding, Enid had frequently visited the local chief and had made friends with his wife. She had eaten their food, given them the gospel with a mixture of Amharic and Walamo, and had, of course, told them about me. She had cheerily asked them to our wedding. It was the chief, all right, in his pointed burnoose, a heavy woolen, cape-like garment which covered his shama, [] so that only the hem of the latter was visible. A shama is something like a shawl. A retinue of ten or fifteen servants followed him.
Two of the servants seemed to be struggling with an animal. They opened the
gate and pushed and dragged a full-grown goat up the path and into the living
room. Its bushy mane and long twisted horns indicated its age. It had eaten
chlorophyll all its life but this fact had had no effect on its odor.
T'he chief stood before us, tall and erect. He had fine features, with a well-developed un-African nose and thin lips. A solid growth of black beard covered his face. His hair was fairly close cropped. He looked around the room, showing great interest and some amusement. He studied the Ethiopian guests, probably noting that they were farmers, tribespeople. Then he turned to Enid.
"You told me that in your country the bride gets gifts. Here, this is for you." He pushed the goat toward her.
Enid thanked him profusely, then had the boys take the animal out the back door. Her gift was passed on and the boys had their feast.
Letter from Enid to RAK, postmarked 18oc2004: "I looked for pictures of our wedding and found the enclosed which you can keep. I have another of the thatched house in which we and the Cousers were married, with a picture not only of the house but Dr Percy [Roberts] and his wife and the many Wollaita people who came. The Felerari (Amharic leader) with whom I visited speaking Amhairic sent over a large goat as a gift which the Wollaita men were so happy to take. Their custom is to eat a lot of meat at a wedding, but I had a cake for my gift, made by Mrs. Roberts! ... I'm enclosing a copy of my wedding picture with Mal. the only flowers available there were the Calla lilies which I used. I was a brunette there but now my hair is white like Marian's only I had a perm last week which helps me keep my hair in order! ... I made my own wedding dress, too, but the veil was a gift from a N.Z. girl who had married in it."
The chief had been attracted by the prospect of witnessing the first wedding of white people in his area. He had come a little late but he had come. He looked around at the palm fronds and the calla lilies, undoubetdly thinking that we still retained some nature worship. If he did not actually worship trees, he often rubbed butter on them and threw money at them to play safe.
We had greeted our guest on the veranda. In the house began a new series of greetings and blessings. "Ha! Ha!" he chuckled. "So you are married!"
It probably hurt his sense of modesty to see a bride boldly smiling and holding her husband's arm. She should have been huddled in a dark corner, a shawl completely covering her head. And the idea of two couples getting married togetherl What wasted opportunities for food and fun! But it did not really matter since there were only sandwiches and cookies and tea, anyway. Just as well to get it over with in a hurry.
We sat down together. Our friend munched gingerly at his sandwich. No telling what the mixture between the slices of bread might contain. It did not taste of red pepper, onions, or rancid butter. And the sandwich, once eaten, did not seem to occupy any space in the stomach.
"We have been waiting a long time to get married," I remarked. "Four years."
"Wouldn't her father listen to your talk?" he asked, pointing at Enid.
"It took me a long time to buy enough cows to satisfy him, and he raised the price twice." []
The chief laughed. "You told me you don't marry with cows in your country." He scratched his head, which seems to help Africans solve problems. In his own way he was doing research. "When did your parents get together to arrange the marriage?"
I began to feel that we had not done anything right. There had been no feast for the guests, no cows for my father-in-law. Now still another confession remained.
"In our country young people meet, become acquainted, and fall in love. They tell their parents about it and then get married."
My words seemed almost immoral. At the very least, they would sound immodest to an Ethiopian. Our customs did not a11ow for very deep roots in family or clan, and parents received no reward for all they had done to provide wives for strange young men. perhaps the African way was best for the African but I preferred ours. The most serious shock for the chief was yet to come.
"We promised to stay with each other and not to marry anybody else as long as we both live."
Our guest stopped smiling. He could excuse our other strange ways, but not this! He felt sorry for me. I was so young and no doubt I meant well, but to saddle myself with a woman without an escape clause! What if she turned out to be cantankerous as so many wives did? What if she were tiresome? And above all, what if she were childless? He said nothing about Enid's being saddled with me, for Africa is a man's continent.
The chief smiled again as we stood up. In spite of the confusion we had poured into his mind, he blessed us.
"May you have a man child" he said.
My wife -- how well I liked the word! -- and I stayed in Soddu for two weeks, managing the station while Dr. and Mrs. Roberts and Lois Briggs went to Addis Ababa. Instead of going on a honeymoon, we moved into the Roberts's house.
Ray Davis was slaving away on the new hospital buildings. He was still young but already had had experience in building. The lower walls of the hospital were being made of stone, the upper of mud bricks, and metal window frames had been brought from Addis Ababa. The hospital would not be made of sticks and mud. The lines Ray had laid out were straight and his walls true. When we took over the Roberts's house, Ray came with it as a boarder.
We had just settled down to the quiet of our post-wedding recuperation when two vacationing missionaries arrived, Daisy McMillan and [] Frieda Horn of New Zealand. When the boys informed us that they had been seen leaving the main road and winding down the hill toward us, we dropped our bulky tropical hats on our heads and went out to greet them. There they were at the top of the road. Mosquito netting covered their helmets and hung down over their faces and necks to keep the flies out. Long coats covered their riding outfits.
"There are only two of them but they certainly look impressive," I said to Enid. "The mules seem to have absorbed some of the ladies' dignity. Don't they walk as though they were carrying the Queen to the Trooping of the Colors?"
The carriers, with beds, tents, food boxes, and suitcases on their heads, filed solemnly along behind. The Queen of Sheba could hardly have traveled with more pomp. Yet when the ladies had dismounted and stood before us, they were just Daisy and Frieda. They spoke a New Zealand English, but we had grown accustomed to that in our journeyings. Frieda hardly seemed built for mule travel in Ethiopia. Daisy was stronger and of a heavier build. Even so, it was only the call of God that brought these and other women to Africa to endure hardship for the gospel's sake.
Our boardinghouse honeymoon was pleasant enough until the evening of the fourth day.
"You'd better take my temperature," Enid said.
"Why?" I was alarmed. "Do you feel sick?"
"I don't feel very well."
She had a high temperature which continued for several days.
"Perhaps you should ask the girls to get the meals," Enid suggested.
"I'd rather do it," I replied. "They're on their vacation and I'm only on my honeymoon."
I tried to make a pie the first day. I should have stuck to chocolate pudding.
"This is good pie," Ray said.
"Excellent," pronounced Daisy.
"Indeed," Frieda added.
Christian people are often hard pressed to be kind and truthful at the same time. I knew the pie was awful.
I knew, too, that when the Robertses and Lois would return, we would gladly give their house back to them, complete with boarder and guests, and pack up for our real honeymoon journey to our new station. []
THE ROAD to our first African home was a long one.
"Gofa isn't like Walamo," I told Enid as we talked over our travel plans. "I wonder how Hot Cross Buns will do in the mountains?"
[[report on the trip, 12 May 1935, both Mal and Enid ---[letter #12; original in Malwaukee]]
May 12, 1935 []
After all these years we are at last getting established in our own home and we're having a dandy time doing it. Enid is doing a homey job of making this the cosiest kind of a place for two such as us. Ever since we received the word that we were to come here we have been looking forward to getting settled finally. Living separately for over a year and then not knowing where we would lay our heads was not the best kind of an existence but now we can set up our own home.
Last time we wrote we were in Gamo and many things have transpired since then. We didn't have as pleasant a trip as we had hoped for because it rained all the way and the roads were almost always muddy. That, of course, is not the most desirable condition for travelling on mule back but we were thankful that we were on mules and not on horses.
We got up bright and early the Monday we were to leave Shamma, but after we had gotten packed we had to sit around for we didn't want to start the men off in the rain. We had breakfast with the Streets, and finally got away at eight o'clock. By one o'clock we had arrived at the foot of our first range of mountains, so we camped rather than go up to where it was colder.
The view below camp was tremendous. It was a huge green valley ... very deep. Waterfalls were tumbling down all around it. On little shelves here and there people were living. It looked inviting, yet forbidding. We stood and took it in, many times. the people go up and down these long mountain roads as though they were level roads. Some places the going is precarious but [] they don't seem to mind. We followed the courses of the waterfalls to where they level out into other streams. As more and more water enters the lower part of the valley, the river becomes a torrent as it disappears around the bend to rush into the brown, mineral-laden waters of lake Abaya.
The next day it rained ... hard. We didn't get away until eleven. We started up over the mountains in the mud, but the little surefooted mules took us straight through. All morning we circled several arms of the valley we had seen the day before. After hours of travel, we were still close to our former campsite, but were separated by deep caverns. After making the circuit, we headed away from the valley toward our next camp at Bonke. All that day we passed literally hundreds of water falls. They came tumbling down from the heights about us, crossed the road with a roar, and dropped other hundreds of feet straight below us. Often, the road was a mere shelf on the side of the mountain. A rock dropped from the saddle would have fallen thousands of feet. Everywhere was grandeur. The rains had turned the brownness to green, and freshness was everywhere. Huge clouds of fog rolled over us periodically, but always it cleared away for another view of beauty.
In December, I traveled the same road, but didn't have the slightest idea of the country, except in a spot or two. There were two reasons: the fog was so dense that I couldn't see; I was single, and had left my love behind, and was too dreamy to see.
The first three days on the road were the worst, as it was so cold we hated to get up in the morning. We seldom got away [] before seven because of the heavy rain. The tent was wet all the time and hard to pack. We appreciated the tent, especially with the new veranda. I don't know where our boys would have slept, had it not been for the veranda. Every night we went to sleep with the Walamo chatter going strong, punctuated with a few words of Amharic. As soon as we got camp set up each day, the boys began discussing and arguing their finances. It was exactly the same every day. No two of them ever agreed. In the midst of heated debate, one of them would get the attention of the rest, and would carefully explain in detail just how the money matters stood. He would scarcely get through, when ten voices would burst out with as many ideas, and the whole argument was repeated. The humorous part of their finance is that if they add up all they have spent and subtract it from the original sum, they are all up a tree. But if they start with the total sum, and subtract each item individually, they arrive eventually at a figure, but no two of them get the same result. If we have had a dealing with one of them and their result is different from ours, we (in their eyes) are always wrong.
I had scarcely gone asleep one night when I awoke to hear one of the boys praying at the top of his voice outside the tent flap. The other boys were chattering away on various bits of conversation. The praying chap had told Miss Bray in Gamo that he said his prayers every night. It seems he had suddenly remembered this, and so prayed at us for our benefit.
After three days and nights in the cold regions of Bonke and Bulta, we looked forward to getting to low country in [] Otolo. To get there, the worst part of the trip lay ahead of us. There are two roads between the Wednesday camp and Otolo. I had been the higher one, and decided that the lower on couldn't be any worse, and knew it was shorter. So we got the men to give in to going the lower road. It was quite pretty, but rough. The whole mountain was sandstone and the road had worn grooves about a foot wide everywhere, so that it was hard for the pack animals to get through. Enid was riding "Molly" that day, and fortunately, for she got perched on a sandy ridge (the mule did) and could go neither forward nor back. A horse would have thrashed it out with his feet, but the mule, when she saw she couldn't make it, neatly jumped down three feet or so to level ground. We went around a few feet, and got up on a better road.
As we went lower and it got warmer, big horseflies appeared, and began to bite the animals until they were bleeding quite a bit. They didn't last long, though. All the sand looked as though it were full of gold, but I reminded enthusiastic Enie that all is not glit that golders. It was swell to get to a warm climate. There were no mosquitoes. The boys got lots of corn to parch and we enjoyed some, ourselves.
It rained. Next morning we had to go through a muddy stream bed. Enid didn't wait for one of the boys to go ahead to try the mud, and in a second her little mule "Nippy" was floundering away in it. It was a breathtaking moment, but little mulee pulled out of it in great shape. The rest of us went about twenty yards further down to get across.
On the way from Otolo to Zala, we saw a baboon hanging [] in a tree by his neck. Apparently some irate farmers had caught the poor animal, and took their wrath out on him for what some fifty or sixty baboons had done. Going down the hill from Otolo (the people farm all the low land all around, but live in a large village on the hill away from Malaria) we came to a regular village of huts. The huts were long, large things, shaped like a loaf of bread. They were arranged on streets, and looked like a trim village. There must have been sixty or seventy huts there. We soon learned that every last one of them was a stable, and soon saw hundreds of cows for whom this city existed. All through the lowlands, the grass was thick and juicy, and the cattle had good pasturage. The road across the plain was just a sea of mud. In many places, water was standing several inches deep, along the road. The worst was up Zalla hill. It took about forty-five minutes to go up, and we had to walk a lot of the way because the road is made up of huge boulders and rough solid rock, and the animals were tired from sliding in the mud so much.
All through the low country (five to six thousand feet) we saw the gayest colored birds. Some were flaming red, with a contrast of dusky black. Some were distinct because of the sharp contrast between pure white and coal black. Others had tails longer than the body of the bird itself. Flowers, too, were endless, and such beauty, and such newness! There were lilies which were unlike anything we had ever seen. Bright yellows, reds, and purples. The wild Gladiola were plentiful, and in some spots, Easter Lily beds were thicker then Robinhood's [] greenwood forest. Strangely, most of these beautiful flowers had no perfume. Their beauty, alone, was enough.
We spent the week-end of May 5th at Uba where Dejazmatch Abeba has a resort; he was not here, of course. There were lots of beef animals around, and we wanted some meat for the week-end, for ourselves and our boys. There was a nice three-year-old plump bull around there, for which the owner wanted six thalers. After some bargaining, the boys got him down to four, and the boys put in a tamon each, so we got it. The liver was huge. We got it, and the tenderloin, and a hind quarter. We sent the hind quarter on to the Andersons here, and we have had some, since.
The evening of the kill, there was a great feast in the camp. They filled themselves up on raw meat that night. I'm afraid they had too much. They sat down, took a small piece of meat, placed one end in the mouth, and cut of a mouthful with a stroke of the knife upward, just missing the nose. For want of a knife, some of them took pieces of bamboo which did equally as well. Bamboo can be sharp, as my fingers have learned. Sunday night there was a gurgling about fifteen feet from the tent - sounds of meat returning from restless repose in the stomach of a black boy who didn't know when to stop. Next morning, when we were to go, on e of the negadis was sick. He had a headache and a back ache. He called it "malaria". I called it "meat".
Monday was the day of real experiences. We got nicely started down from Uba. Eventually, we reached the lowlands, [] and was the grass tall!!! I was riding the horse, Brummy, and even then the grass was three feet or more above me. The road was just wide enough for the animals' feet…the rest was all grass. It dripped water, and soaked us like a rain storm. Then we reached the Little Zanti river. Anderson and I had fished there, but it was all different now. It was a raging river full of mud. We had promised the negadis that we wouldn't cross until they arrived, for they had heard that the river was full. We sat, contemplating the flood. Some of the boys, more frightened than a captive baboon, waded out a bit, but didn't really find out how deep it was.
I got on my hoss and tried it in one place, but the water came up to the saddle and was getting deeper, so I wheeled the horse around, and the river ran right over his back, behind the saddle. I went back to the party and contemplated. The boys said the horse wasn't frightened, so I decided I must be. I got on again, and this time headed straight across instead of going where the old road did. Brummy was leaning way out against the current; he faltered some, but I gave him the whip and got across. It wasn't very deep, barely touched his stomach, but the current was dangerous. The stream was not more than fifteen yards wide. When the rest of the carriers and the negadis came up, they were quite discouraged. We took some rope off some of the loads and tied them together. This we stretched across the stream, to use in case of emergency.
One of the carriers took off his shirt, threw his walking stick in ahead of him, and "swam" across. Actually, [] he kept his feet on the bottom, when he could, and pushed. Even then he was carried down stream about fifteen yards. Finally a big bewhiskered, villainous fellow, on of our carriers, put on a real brave look and struck out with his stick. He did some stumbling before he reached me. None of the others would cross. So the result was that this big fellow carried all the carrier loads across (six), brought all our little stuff across, - coats, kodak, thermos and such like, led al the negadi mules across, one by one, and finally took each carrier and negadi by the arm and guided them across. Little Oyster, our donk, after he saw that all the animals had left him, struck out by himself, and looked cute all covered with river, and his head held high to avoid the stream. We were grateful that all our goods got across without a drop of water entering anything.
We went through the grassy, hot valley to our garden, and camped there. Much of the garden had been destroyed by raiding baboons and porcupines, but if we plant now, they won't bother us, as there will be to much native corn for them. Monday night we slept under a mosquito net, but didn't hear or seen any of the things.
As usual, we started late Tuesday….rain. Our journey Tuesday consisted of a climb of 3,600 feet, up all the way. Again we were thankful for mules. Green grass and waterfalls marked the journey. It took three hours. On the last level stretch of road from the top of the mountain to the station, we met people going to market. One of them was leading a young baboon which he hoped to sell. Enid's mule took a dislike to [] the baboon and started out after it. Whereupon, the monk ran up the back of the man who was leading him, butting his claws in, all the way. The owner jerked his shamma off with a vengeance and banged the monk against the ground.
Just before twelve we arrived. We ate our first meals with the Andersons, and have been getting the former Ohman house (now the Forsberg house) fixed up ever since. It is quite comfortable now, but there is lots more to do. The roof leaks some, but not too bad. Maybe some day we can get an iron roof for the place….we'd like that. First we have to get a new house for Andersons. They need it badly.
Now Enid, go on.
We've been here a week and two days now, and are getting a bit organized. Mother's bright giddy curtains, with the orange predominating, are up in the living room. White fluffy ones with green outside drapes are up in the dining room and plans are made, but not complete for the bedroom. We have mats down on the floor, rugs down, pictures hung, and all this after the Davison's stuff had been cleared our and the place thoroughly cleaned.
It's been great fun working together on it. Mal cuts the bamboo poles to put the curtains up on, puts them up, besides making me everything I express a desire for. We now have a nice dustpan made, a silver holder for our table silver, and another box fixed up for the kitchen stuff, besides innumerable little odds and ends of things. We're very fortunate in having the furniture that Davisons left available: a dining-room [] table, a gas box desk, a wicker living-room set, a dish closet, etc. Then, too, I'm more than thankful for the stove that we were able to buy from them. It works dandy, and is invaluable.
We've hired two green boys from the neighborhood, for our servants. The first, Simati, is about 14 years old, I should say, and is our house boy. That is, he sets and serves table, sweeps and dusts daily, does the washing and ironing. Then the cook, whose duty is that, and not much else, is about 18 or so, named Leesha. Simati is bright, and after the third showing had the technique of setting the table down pat. Now he is struggling with the ironing, but I think he'll have that before too long. Did his first shirt today. Leesha isn't anybody's fool, either. I was glad the boy we brought with us on trek from Soddu knew how to make bread, fry chicken, etc., and he was able to teach this new boy of ours. We're not getting on badly at all, though just now they take a good deal more time in instruction than they will in a little while.
We had times of both joy and sadness when we opened our boxes. Mildew got into several of my linens, and a few clothes, the lovely Wheaton plate was broken... (we've since mended it with that 10? china cement I brought along, and it doesn't look so bad…also mended a couple of things of other china that got broken). On the whole, though, everything came through wonderfully well. The things that were spoiled weren't my best things, or things that I couldn't get along without, so we're very thankful.
This is really a beautiful station with loads of lovely trees, bushes and wild flowers. To the left, we have a view of [] several ranges, stretching off to the southwest, and valleys and mountains are on every side. The population here is scant, right around the station, but thousands of people are scattered within a days' journey on all sides. Just now, Andersons are having school three times a week, that the young folks around here may learn to read, and study the Gospel of Mark, which the Ohmans, before us, translated. Then, Wednesday evening is mid-week prayer meeting, and Sunday is a regular service. Mal spoke last Sunday, to about ten grown-ups, and eight children. Since the station was left for so long without missionaries, interest died out, and numbers dropped away. We're praying that the Spirit will again work and bring them back.
We're frightfully happy in our new home, and I wish you could drop in now and see us sitting before our fireplace, Mal reading, at present. We've still much to do, to get really settled, but we're getting there. The walls are our next big job, since they are very dark, which, with the six foot overhang on all sides of the house, makes the rooms dark at all times of the day. We've heard of a very light colored soft rock in the neighborhood which, when ground and mixed with the starch from the plantain, makes a good paint. We'll be trying it soon.
Seems strange to only get mail once in two weeks, but when it comes, it takes about a whole day to digest. This last post brought lots of letters from you all which we read and laughed and smiled over….didn't cry once. We've forgotten how. Think I'd better close this ... with lots of love to all.
[P.S.] We sent word for the cable to be sent with the carrier that left Soddu the Monday before the wedding took place (on Thursday). He probably got to Addis the Monday after the wedding and the cable was probably not sent till Tuesday, though I do not know definitely. If you got it Thursday, it wasn't too bad. - E.]]
Enid's horse was so named because of the scars crisscrossing his back. Ethiopian pack and riding saddles often rubbed sores into the backs of of the animals, and Enid's had had many such ulcers before she bought him. Ethiopian mule drivers had given him the "treatment" with their long branding irons.
I saddled Hot Cross Buns and went for a ride to see how surefooted he was. Before long I began to wonder about this lumber wagon Enid had been riding around Ethiopia. His joints were stiff and there was no resilience in his stride. My teeth chattered with every step. How could a horse ride so hard? I returned to the yard and called Enid.
"How could you endure riding this robot All the way from Addis Ababa?" I demanded. "It felt to me just now as if he were walking on stilts!"
Her hours on the animal's back had worn Enid out but she had thought this was the inevitable result of horseback riding. She agreed with me that we had better sell him right away. We then bought a small mule. The first time I mounted her, she turned her head, bared her teeth, and tried to nip me. We called her Nippy.
Our rainy season supply of groceries had arrived. We had planned the order together and had sent it off to our business office in Addis Ababa. There were two boxes, each containing two five-gallon cans of kerosene, and together they made a well-balanced mule load. Cooking oil, pressed from Ethiopian seeds and refined in Addis Ababa, and syrup [[[??supr, sugar]]] were packed in kerosene cans. The other boxes contained a few cans of fruit and vegetables, spices, and catsup and mustard. []
At Gofa we would be able to grow a wide variety of vegetables, and buy limes, bananas, meat, and eggs from the local market. By American standards we would be living the simple life -- but how we were to appreciate the abundance of Ethiopia later on in the Sudan!
T'he rains had begun and the mountainsides and valleys were splashed with many shades of green. There were green leaves, green grass, and green grain. We would travel over the mountains and through the valleys by day, and late every afternoon would pitch our tent in some faraway meadow. Even the anticipation was delightful and exhilarating. I had hurried over these roads before; now I would take it easy and enjoy it.
We said good-by to Soddu early one morning and with boys and mule men started out for Gofa. There would be only four missionaries there and we would have few visitors. We would be one of the most isolated missions in Ethiopia, perhaps in all Africa, but somehow, now, that did not seem to matter.
Our animals loosened the joints in their hind legs as they clambered down over the soft red rock toward the plain. The flat land ahead now did not appear so endless. Getting married had made me shortsighted. We wanted to ride side by side, but could not do so on the narrow mule trails. Ethiopians need only a one-animal track. The master-servant, master-slave, and husband-wife relationships do not require double-file traveling. That is one of the many ways the people have to show they know where they belong -- in front or behind. Our American upbringing had led us to want to travel side by side.
I did not have to teach Enid much about trekking. She had learned the hard way, traveling from Addis Ababa to Duromi in August, the worst month of the rains. She took to her camp duties naturally. She had charge of the meals and I supervised the packing and the care of our riding animals.
Our alarm clock went off at four o'clock each morning. We had to awaken the boys because the land roosters had not yet given their second call. Enid helped her boy with the breakfast while I saw to the lowering of the tent. We often ate in the dark while the boys and mule men packed the tent and loaded the animals. T'he men and boys tried to squat by the fire as often as possible between efforts. We had to keep them moving in order to be on our way by six.
"Today we get to Gamo!" Enid almost shouted one morning. "I've tried to picture the place through your letters. It will be fun to see how accurate my imagination has been."
I began to feel very possessive. Gamo was my province; the mountains [] and the people were mine, too. I pointed out all the familiar landmarks to Enid.
"T'hat's the road to the provincial capital. That's our mountain. We have to go all the way around it, the station is on the other side."
We were climbing higher and higher. The change in altitude affected our breathing.
"Here is the place Tola brought me to the day I rode to Soddu to see you," I said at last.
"I'm tired from doing it in three days!" Enid marveled. "I don't see how you ever did it in one." Neither could I.
We dipped down into the last stream bed. Finally, at the top of the bank, we could see the iron roof of the Streets' house and back of it our haystack, squatting on its haunches like a furry bear. We clattered down over the broken terraces and soon reined up by it and dismounted.
Enid looked at the tall structure. The grass on the roof seemed shaggier. I pushed the door open.
"Is this all the room you had?" she asked in surprise.
"Oh, no," I replied. "We had the upstairs, too." I pointed to the space above the bedroom. It looked dark and empty.
"It must have been very lonely at times," Enid said understandingly.
T'he Street family had gathered outside and were wondering why we had stopped.
"Enid had to see my bachelor quarters first," I told them, as we shook hands all around.
Suddenly I saw Tola. He was standing some distance away, by the corner of the house, eyeing us all and waiting for his turn to greet us. His face twisted into a half smile as he enjoyed our pleasure at seeing one another. He was trying to understand the "better life" we had talked about. His people greeted one another quietly, with almost religious dignity. We all laughed hilariously as somebody made a remark appropriate to newlyweds. Our greetings were soon ended and Tola thought he could advance safely. My heart warmed at the sight of him.
"Tola," I asked, "are you well? Are you at peace? Come and meet MY wife."
He bowed slightly to Enid, holding out his right hand and supporting it with his left. The greetings were many and Enid returned greeting for greeting. Their hands parted and Tola straightened up and smiled.
"I am glad my master has a wife at last. May you bear a man child."
"We thought you'd enjoy sleeping in your old house, Mal," Harold Street said. "We've fixed up some camp cots there for you."
Our boys piled our goods and camping equipment on the ground [] outside our hut. We walked toward the Streets' house for the customary cup of tea.
"A few people are coming on Sundays now," Street informed us. "I'd like to have you speak to them tomorrow."
I agreed. In the five months since I had left Gamo I had studied hard and had done some preaching in Gofa. Still, I would have to do more work to be able to speak effectively. I chose a passage of Scripture and wrote out copious notes. Knowing the words of a language and putting them together correctly was one thing; getting a live message into the hearts of the hearers was something else. Could I bridge the gap?
Sunday morning I sat down on the front veranda with twelve older men. We had heard that these "elders" had agreed to listen to our talk first, then would later decide whether the women and young people could safely be exposed to it. Tirfay [[[??]]] was there, a big fellow, broadshouldered and seemingly muscular. He usually avoided hard work and was always quick to laugh and joke -- a sort of African playboy. As far as he was concerned, everyone could come and listen.
The chief's father was also there. He was old and stooped. During his lifetime he had turned many a clod, had hoed many acres of grain, had harvested thousands of bushels, but be had never had an abundance of anything. His masters had exacted too heavy a tax on the fruit of his labors. Now this new thing had come in the form of people who were not interested in taxes or goods or domineering. They were interested only in God. The old man sighed, possibly reviewing the past. Perhaps he was recalling that life had brought him little but disappointment and sadness. Could mere talk change a11 that for the remaining days of his life?
For this first message in the Gamo language I chose John 3:16. I told the men that believers need not fear. "Perfect love casteth out fear. God so loved the world. . . ." The greatest Spirit of all did not have to be appeased by men; God had provided the one perfect sacrifice sufficient for all men of all races and for all time. "He gave His only begotten Son. . . ." Since this was God's work, there was nothing left for men to do but receive His gift of eternal life. ". . . That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
I thought I understood their unspoken reaction, their nodding heads, their pensive faces. Probably they were thinking these were good words but was it safe to stop appeasing the spirits? It would take many messages and the fires of persecution itself to replace their fear by love. Fear was not easily removed; it had to be cast out. []
I prayed and the men stood up. We said our farewells and they went down the path, single file, to their village. "He says God is good" were the last words I could hear from the eldest member of the group.
The next morning the mule men loaded their animals and resumed the journey for Gofa while we ate breakfast. We could easily catch up. After we had eaten, we gathered in the Streets' living room for a final word of prayer. As I looked around I noticed the fireplace. A few pieces of eucalyptus wood were smoldering, but the smoke was going up the chimney, not out into the room. Large glass windows admitted streams of light. The corners looked cozy with little tables crowded into them. What did one do for coziness in a round house? There was no piano but that did not prevent our singing. Harold Street read from Daily Light, a group of Bible verses for daily reading assembled by the Bagster family in England. Then we prayed. The "Amen" was like a good-by; it meant that fellowship was again being broken. How different the next meeting would be!
Saying good-by to our fellow workers did not take as long as the words of farewell with our Gamo friends and Tola. Finally we swung into our saddles and started up the path, the green hills unfolding before us. We followed the edge of the escarpment that fell away toward the lakes. The mountains reared their terraced heads to the right. The road was tucked into the ledge cut out of the cliffs like a modem American motor road. To the left the mountains dropped away to more terraces, cliffs, waterfalls, meadows, farms, and at last, far away, the lakes.
We looked at the terraces rising nearly two thousand feet above us to the very top of the peak. Only the sheerest cliffs had escaped the hoes of the cultivators. Many terraces were broken down and others were overgrown with brush. They had not been planted for years.
"The population must have been very heavy here at one time" Enid observed wistfully.
"It makes you feel sort of lonesome," I agreed, "to think of a large number of people just disappearing."
There were not enough people to cultivate the available land. Where had they gone? Much of the conversation around the village fires at night was of these missing people and the events leading to the depopulation of the province.
In the early lifetime of many of the old folk, there had been no central government. Throughout most of the nineteenth century internal warfare had destroyed many adult males, while the women and chfldren were carried away. There had been little security. The Amharas themselves [] were divided into several kingdoms which often made war with one another. They were the first Ethiopians to get guns. The rest of the country was occupied by hundreds of tribes like the Gamos, Gofas, Gallas, and Walamos, who spent much of their time fighting one another or making raids for cattle and slaves.
Menelik II was the architect of modem Ethiopia. He subdued the rival Amharas and welded them into one nation, establishing himself as "king of kings of Ethiopia." Then he turned his attention to the tribes and because they had not been able to secure guns, conquered them and made it one country. Although Menelik II united Ethiopia, it was His Majesty Haile Selassie I who developed it and brought it to its present world position.
As I reflected on this subject, an oppressive silence seemed to hang over the mountainsides like the quiet after friends have gone. We rode on silently, only the clip-clop of the animals' hoofs breaking the stillness. T'hat first day's journey brought us to the edge of an enormous valley that yawned like a chasm. We camped close to its edge at an elevation of eleven thousand feet.
In the morning we tried to get some b [[[breakfast??]]] while slopping around in the mud, for it had rained all night. The gorge by which we had camped lay before us, the road to be traveled skirting its edge. Soon we were making our way along the ever-narrowing pathway, the mountains rising sheer above us. Below was an empty void hemmed in by the cliff. Again and again the rain-swollen streams roared down from above us. T'hey rushed across our narrow trail, and disappeared in a cloud of spray below.
Our animals were held back so the pack mules could go ahead. We followed along, keeping close to the rock on the upper side. A waterfall sprayed us as it splattered over the rough face of the cliff. We were in the center of the horseshoe formed by the immense valley gorge. There was time to look and plenty of room for looking. This vista dwarfed that of the Grand Canyon, but how many had ever looked upon this sight with appreciative eyes?
Down there in the forbidding valley people lived. Houses were perched on tiny terraces along the face of stone cliffs and others were scattered on broader shelves near the valley floor. The inhabitants had probably had trouble with relatives or chiefs and were trying to get away from it all, but not even there could they find complete isolation. Undoubtedly they rendered their weekly service to their masters and paid their taxes. Progress had not followed them but responsibility had.
We turned and led the animals along the ledge. It was at least three [] hours since we started and the mountains above began to lean away from us. Suddenly the shelf ended and the road turned abruptly up the steep Mountainside. Our animals scrambled over the gravel and through the boulders. The incline was too steep for them to carry us so we dismounted, handing the reins to the boys. We held on to the animals' tails. In climbing a mountain at a high altitude a little thing like a tail can make the difference between success and failure.
The pack mules dug their tiny hoofs into the hard surface. Their shoulder muscles flexed and rolled. They had to go on; they could not be relieved of their Ioads. Toward four o'clock we swung away from the mountains and came out onto a little green plateau on the edge of the canyon. I called Enid and pointed across the wide expanse of emptiness.
"Straight across there is where we camped last night. I don't suppose it is more than three or four miles from here."
"How far have we actually come?"
"Oh, probably fifteen miles."
The next day we began our descent to the lowlands and travel and camping became more pleasant. The barley fields of the highlands gradually gave way to the corn of the lowlands. This area was monkey and baboon country, too. Villages dotted the countryside.
"It bothers me to travel through these hundreds of villages," I said to Enid, "knowing that another generation or two will die before the people can be adequately reached with the gospel."
"Our brief messages don't sink in. We'll have to come back sometime and sit with them so they can understand."
"We can't get enough foreign missionaries to come out here to reach all these people. We'll have to work for the building up of a strong church wherever we are. Then the Ethiopian Christians will have to come out to places like this to preach."
"That's this 'indigenous church' business I've heard so much about. Most of the older missionaries I've met talk about it all the time. They even got me to read part of that book by Roland Allen. I guess there are two of them. One is about St. Paul's missionary methods; the other something about the spontaneous expansion of the church. I suppose, Mal, you've gotten in on some discussions, too?"
"Plenty. But when you're traveling right past thousands of people who haven't heard about the Lord and who stand little chance of doing so in the near future, you don't depend merely on what books say. It's obvious that only converted Africans can do the job."
We started off again. For a short way the road was wide enough for us to travel side by side.
IT WAS our next to the last day of travel and we dropped down to a valley floor again and pushed our way through its elephant grass. Although I was high on my horse, the grass stretched another three or four feet above me. The early morning dew fell from the stalks as we touched them and soaked us. We spent the night in a native-style hut in the middle of our valley garden, the piece of land given us by the Governor so that we could raise fruits and vegetables we could not grow in the highlands. The next day would be the last and hardest of the journey. We would have to make the thirty-six-hundred-foot ascent to our station when the men and animals were worn out.
A downpour at four o'clock kept us in bed a while longer. At eight we were under way and soon climbing. We had not gone far when we saw a young boy coming toward us. I was surprised to recognize Samati, and learned later that the Andersons had spread word of our coming. Before I left Gofa to go to my wedding, Samati had asked me if he could be our "boy" when I returned with Enid. He had never really worked in a missionary house but he had learned from others who had done so a number of things about housework, washing and ironing, and the many other tasks that Africans did to earn money from foreigners. Later on, dozens of lads asked if they could work for us. The idea of hired servants in Africa was not initiated by Europeans; Africans themselves have had the master-servant relationship for centuries. Many Ethiopians consider it an honor to work for white men or "big" Ethiopians because they share their masters' glory.
Samati greeted us. "Did you arrive well? Did you arrive in peace?"
There was something heartwarming about the fact that he had come. To do so he had walked for nearly two hours over stony ground, just to greet us and to let us know he was ready to work. Now he had to walk [] back up the mountainside. More than anything else, this made Enid feel welcome. Among a strange people and in a strange place, she had met a lad who wanted to work for her. And he had walked all that way just to say so!
Samati turned around and went back with us. He walked by Enid's mule, his hand on the back of the saddle in customary Ethiopian master-servant fashion. The two carried on a lively conversation. Samati was a sweet lad, with an open happy face that radiated confidence. He and his parents lived on the edge of the Mission station. Even at fourteen he was leaving his boyhood behind and taking on adult responsibilities. During the entire time he was with us, we never thought of him as a servant. He seemed like a son in our house; we loved him and he loved us.
Often Samati tried to impress us with his appraisal of events in our Gofa world. His parents were confirmed Coptic Christians and could not understand how God could be worshiped without ritual, priest, and ancient language. There were some Copts who were evangelical at heart, including His Majesty Haile Selassie. But far away from Addis Ababa their religion had been influenced by the surrounding paganism.
As we traveled higher the grass, tall on the lower slopes of the mountains, grew shorter and there was only a scattering of trees. Occasionally the road was rocky and steep, but mostly a gradual grade had been maintained by routing the road into the ravines and then back out again. First we would be in brilliant sunshine, then in the ravine where the sun had not yet reached.
It was a long steep climb for the animals. Their flanks heaved and their muscles tightened as their tiny hoofs dug in. They would not quit. At last we came out on the top of the ridge. Now it was just an easy mile to our home. Gofa Peak still towered hundreds of feet above us but we had to climb no more.
Newsworthy events do not occur every day in African villages so our Gofa neighbors had been waiting for us. We had already provided them with nighttime conversation; now we would give them much more. We dropped down the little green slope to the Andersons' thatch-roofed house. They had been alone for three months and they welcomed us joyfully.
We could hear voices among the huts on the hillside. "They have arrived! They have arrived!"
Men and women, boys and girls, came scurrying down the paths to welcome us. They were profuse in their greetings but kept their eyes [] slanted toward Enid, appraising her. After shaking her hand they formed little groups, their heads together. I strained to hear their comments.
"She is quite short.... Is she not a child?.... She doesn't stop smiling.... Where did she learn to speak like us?"
Her youth, her smile, and language ability would give Enid an open door to the people.
The Andersons and our neighbors escorted us across the meadow toward our new home. I discovered myself frantically making a hasty reappraisal of the building. Somehow, Enid's eyes now looked out of mine and my brain had to make the adjustment. The thatched roof poked its head up high. It had to be steep to shed the water but it made the house look twice as large as it was. I remembered that some of the walls had not been whitewashed nor had the palm-leaf mats on the floor been replaced.
Enid brought me back with a pressure of her hand. She was skipping along gaily, looking down over the grass and through the [[[trees??]]]. "It's so beautiful," she said.
The station was like a saucer with one broken side. Three buildings -- two homes and a clinic -- were set in the sides of the saucer, halfway up. Clumps of high, flowering thorn trees were scattered around and up the far side. The broken side represented the beginning of a ravine that circled around back of the station and below it, and finally ended up in the valley from which we had just come.
Strung along the edge of the saucer above our homes were the huts of our neighbors, half hidden by the broad leaves of the banana-like Plantain stalks surrounding them. Some of them had been built down inside the saucer not far from the Andersons' home.
As we approached our house, the crowd began to thin out. We went through the gate and stepped into the shade of the overhanging roof. A few cobwebs, heavily powdered with borer dust, hung from the roof. I would have to get them down in a hurry. Enid looked around and up but she kept walking toward the door, a sheet of corrugated iron nailed to a wooden frame.
Together we pushed open the door and stepped inside. One could not help looking up first -- it was that type of house. The center pole that supported the roof where it came together in a point poked out of the wall in front of us and disappeared in the darkness above. Braces went out from it to the rafters in all directions and other braces supported those braces. Between the rafters the straight bamboos lay row on row. They were tied with rope, the ends of which hung down. The [] thatch inside the house was not weathered and it, too, lay in rows. How many stalks of grass were up there? A million, perhaps? It would have been a wonderful place for monkeys but in their absence the spiders had taken over.
Enid looked up at the webs swinging everywhere. Again I told myself I would have to get rid of those spiders and their webs fast. We walked through the rooms. I knew Enid was mentally hanging her curtains and pictures, putting down her scatter rugs. We did not want our way of living to be a gulf between us and our Ethiopian people, but no matter what we did, our home would be a little bit of America.
Uncle Nick and I had helped build the house for the Streets at Gamo. Now Enid and I were moving into a house built by Walter Ohman and Laurie Davison. They had started the spiritual house, too, and we would build on their foundation. It would not even be necessary for us to struggle with an unwritten language, for Walter Ohman had done most of that work.
Our excursion through the four-room house did not take long. It was square, with the living room and bedroom occupying the front of the house, while the dining room and study were across the back with a pantry between. The kitchen, a few steps from the dining-room door, was set into the hill where an area just big enough to hold it had been excavated. The thatched roof had been extended to form a six-foot veranda all around the house. I wondered what Enid thought of it.
"Honey, it's wonderfull!" she commented at last. "We're going to be awfully happy here."
And so we were -- while it lasted. We forgot our fatigue in a new urge, the same urge that leads the weaver bird to tie knots, the woodpecker to drill holes, and the hammerheaded stork to plaster his nest. This was to be our first home. Instead of collapsing, we began to work on our nest. Our goods had arrived from Soddu. Much of Enid's stuff, containing many things for our home, had never been unpacked. We started to open boxes. How many dishes would be broken? Our Wheaton plate was smashed, and somebody in securing the banding iron on a box had driven a nail right through a mirror. But these things did not matter. We had to learn not to let our hearts grow too fond of material things.
"We'll have to tear those old mats out and put down new ones," I said to Enid, "and we should polish the dirt floors before we do it."
"When you say 'polish,' do you mean the same thing that they do in Soddu?" []
"Of course! We'll get some men to make a mixture of cow dung and water, which will make a smooth finishing coat. It seals up the cracks and gives fleas fewer hiding places."
After the floors were polished, our workers brought split bamboo and wove them into a wall-to-wall carpet. We put down our newly purchased palm-leaf mats and had the boys stitch them together on top of the bamboo. When Enid produced our few scatter rugs, the bottom side of the house was ready.
There was so much to do that I neglected the thing that was causing Enid the most anxiety. I noticed her frequent glances upward at the jungle of spiderwebs, as she kept a watchful eye out for the spiders themselves. Her attitude was understandable for some of the spiders measured two inches in diameter and traveled so fast the eye could scarcely follow. And they appeared in the most awkward places. Between bed sheets, for instance.
One day a big woolly one, hanging between a table and the wall, caused Enid to let out a shriek. Samati came running. When he asked Enid the cause of her alarm, she pointed to the spider. Deflated, Samati looked at the harmless Twimen [[[specimen??]]] and then at Enid.
"It is not a leopard," he said as he turned away.
Although we hired Ethiopians to do as much of the everyday work as possible, there were many things they could not do. None of them knew carpentry, so in my spare time I began to build a few essential pieces of furniture. Some Ethiopians, anxious to earn money, brought me planks they had hewn out of wild fig tree trunks.
A sideboard took shape, then a table. Now it was Enid's turn. She then dissolved potassium permanganate [[[??]]] in water and applied the solution to the furniture with a rag wrapped around the end of a stick. The homemade stain ate up the rags but brought out the grain nicely. A coat of shellac finished the job.
With our floors polished, our goods unpacked, and our furniture under way, we turned to the neighborhood children and told them we were ready to begin reading classes. They had attended these under our former missionaries, Walter Ohman and Laurie Davison, and were clamoring for further instruction. The Andersons joined us and we divided the children into classes according to ability and progress already made.
T'he singsong of the recited alphabet arose from the four comers of our house. We had charts made containing the whole massive alphabet. Simberu, our first convert, carried his on a string around his neck, and struggled with it as he rested from plowing and hoeing. []
Soon the ones who had studied under the previous missionaries began to read Gofa literature, which consisted of two small pieces -- the Gospel of Mark, published by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and a compilation of Scripture verses called God Hath Spoken, published by the Scripture Gift Mission. The reading of the Scriptures and the messages we brought each day warmed the hearts of the children and young people. They came to Sunday school and the church services began to grow.
Each day we joined the Andersons in Station prayers. We exchanged information about people to whom we had spoken, mentioning those who seemed interested and those who were in trouble. Thus, whenever we would meet any of these people, we would know their problems and how to talk to them. The last Friday of each month was prayer day. Routine work was put aside and we met for Bible reading and for prayer. As we gathered together on this day, we realized how appropriate were the words "great is Thy faithfulness."
Much time was spent in language study. The Gofa language was changing. Its pure form was now spoken only by the backwoods people. One of the believers, Saka, had married a girl from a village beyond the mountain and her Gofa speech was unspoiled by contact with Amharas or foreigners. She was a jolly person and spoke in parables and idioms we had never before heard. It was like learning a new language. We frequently met with the Andersons and several of the believers to go over the language material for revision. The old language, such as Saka's wife spoke, would be useful but we would have to keep up with its growth and change.
On Sunday afternoons we rode out to villages four or more miles away and held services. Soon the people we spoke to began to come to the Sunday morning services and some visited us during the week.
Enid's linguistic talents gave promise of putting much Gofa literature into the hands of the people. We thought they would respond to the surpassingly beautiful yet grim truth of God's saving men through the death of His son on a cross. Everything looked rosy. We had set up our home and married life was all we had anticipated. At mealtime merry laughter rose from the little square table where we sat facing each other. Sometimes we moved the table into the living room and ate our breakfasts in front of the fireplace, for the mornings were cold.
[[letters dated 30 May 1935 (two), 28 June (two from Enid), 26 July (Enid, making furniture)
---[letter #13; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
SUDAN INTERIOR MISSION
Bulki, Gofa, Ethiopia
Memorial Day, May 30, 1935
It's been a long time since we've given you all pages from the diary, so that you could know what were doing in a sort of 1-2-3 way, so maybe this would be a chance to try it once more. Here's how it looks:
May 17. Enie got more stuff arranged. Mal got front steps fixed (down the bank in front of the house). Made tank roost (for the water barrel). Fixed boxes (gas boxes with shelves in them for keeping stuff).
May 18. More woodwork (fixing boxes). Pressed clothes. Had front porch dunged. Planted onions, lettuce, peas, beans, and parsley. Transplanted lettuce, silverbeet, from Andersons.
May 19. Spoke to fifteen at morning service. Took organ (Davison's) apart and fixed it. Had Andersons over for supper and service.
May 20. Had manure carried to garden. Moved most of stuff (Ohman's and Davison's) to former Cable house (now used for clinic, storeroom and meeting house). Rain most all day. Leesha made first bread. Enid worked on bedroom curtains.
May 21. Finished moving stuff to new clinic. Made [] stanchions for animals. (I'm using the former clinic for a stable.) Enid got curtains almost done for bedroom. Fog, not much rain.
May 22. Enid made cookies, worked on bedroom curtains….finished them. Swell. Tore down old ashcar (servant) house. Cleaned our workshop. Had fifteen at prayer meeting…. "Two Foundations".
And so on, through baking, Enid planting flower seeds, visiting one evening on hill, working strawberry patch, and so on and on.
Last Sunday afternoon the Shaka, taking care of the governor's affairs in Bulke during his absence, was here for the afternoon. He came with one of the Greek merchants, Mr. London. We talked on general things, and didn't actually say much. We told him about the report (in the Milwaukee Journal) which claimed that certain Ethiopians trained their war horses to eat human flesh. His look was as blank as was our own when we first heard it.
Some journalists at home have been cashing in on their imaginations or on some bit of knowledge they may have had of this country. Some stories are as fantastic as the green cheese in the moon. "Two hotels and one drug store in Addis Ababa"….so says the Readers Digest. That must be old stuff, for there are at least a half dozen hotels and a dozen or more drug stores, and hundreds of shops. Then there are two regular department stores, and one hardware store where one can get the best Stanley tools. As a matter of fact, there is practically nothing that one can't get in Addis Ababa. That goes for Fords, Chevs, Buicks, Shredded Wheat, Cracker Jack, silks, linens, shoes, chewing gum (Wrigley's) []
and ice cream.
The Readers Digest also upped the population of this fair country from a former high of 15 million to 20 million. Most people do not realize that the Amharas, with whom the Italians will have to reckon, are a bright, shrewd people. They cannot rightly be looked upon as dull African tribesmen for they are not that. They represent a nation of people who have conquered and unified a formerly tribe-divided country. They rule a country of people now, who exceed themselves in number. I wish somebody could set the world straight on this country for it is certain that a lot of imagination is floating around, these days.
Just below our house, we have a spring which flows out of the ground in a cold clear stream. Of course there could be no dysentery in it, so we are able to drink it unboiled. On several occasions, unfriendly neighbors or their children have taken the cover off the spring and have dipped water out of the basin in which the water gathers. Last Friday I took some of the boys with me and we did the work all over again and I gave some of the neighbors a lecture in which I let them know that if they meddled with the spring any more they would have trouble……I'd tie them up. We've had no trouble since.
When we were in Gamo, on our way down here, we talked to one of the Amharas who lives near the station. He is a servant of the governor there, Dejazmatch Bienna, and formerly lived here in Gofa when this province belonged to his master. He told us in Gamo that he was coming here to get his wife soon, and just a few minutes ago, as we were eating supper, he arrived. We had quite a chat with [] him and learned that Dejaz Bienna has a new son. He also said that Dejaz Bienna has called in all his troops from the outlying areas of his province and has them concentrated in Chincha, where he is outfitting them for service. All these southern governs (they are also head of soldiers in their district) are "on call" and have their men and food ready for the road. The natives do not seem to talk about the war as much as they did formerly.
---[letter #14; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
SUDAN INTERIOR MISSION (Box 105, Addis Ababa)
Bulki, Gofa Province
May 30, 1935
Nothing can be more pleasant than a sunny day in the midst of the rains. Today is such a bright day, and the brightness is enhanced by the arrival of the bi-weekly mail. So, while the sun is shining, we are writing to the many friends whose help is many ways has made it possible for us to preach about the Sun of Righteousness to these people who are satisfied that their sins are not too bad…not enough to keep them out of God's house.
Today the sun is shining…other days it is different. Heavy fogs roll up the valleys and obscure everything from sight. Before they disappear over the mountains above, the clouds let loose a torrent and the formerly dry roads become gungmires. We don rubber boots and slog through the mud for station prayers in the afternoon, or go out to supervise the men working in the garden or elsewhere. However, when the rain ceases, everything becomes dry in a short time.
Gofa station is situated on a ridge some 8,000 feet high. [] Above us the mountains rise higher still. The sides of them are cut at frequent intervals by ravines down which waterfalls tumble with a roar all through the wet season. From our home we see many such falls. Again we look below us to where the mountains drop steeply to the valley 3,000 feet below. All along are waterfalls tumbling frantically to the lower altitude where they will flow in a long circular course, first into the Senti; then into the Nasi; then into the Omo which empties itself into lake Rudolf down toward the Kenya border.
Green grass, green trees and waterfalls are beautiful, and so is the sound of rain splashing around the house at night. We are in comfortable beds, listening to the cracking thunder and seeing the lightning streak earthward. We feel safe, though our only protection is a roof which has been weakened by the borers, and a thatch which has rotted pretty well, by this time. However, it will be replaced next dry season, if the once-proud American dollar, and the formerly faith-inspiring British pound climb back to their former glory. They are both quite disreputable now, bringing us les than half of what we formerly received from them.
The past weeks have been full of beginnings for us here. First we had to pack away the things left by the Davisons. They went away in a hurry because of sickness, but intended to return as quickly. That was almost a year ago, and they have not returned, nor will they, for their health makes it necessary for them to go on to their home in New Zealand. Having put their goods away in the clinic building, half of which is used for storage, we began to unpack our own goods, using the empty gas boxes for making shelves [] and storage space. Then came the unpacking of dishes, linens, and clothes. Amongst them we found packets of gum and candy which had been hidden away by a thoughtful mother. It was so much fun finding things we didn't realize we had, and trying to connect names with al the things that had been gifts. There is much yet to do, but the first rush is over and we must do the rest when we have time, for language study, once more, is claming a large part of each day and we MUST study to be of any use out here.
At present we have a small schedule of services and school work by which we are able to reach a few who live near. Two nights a week, Mr. Anderson has a group of boys in, and he is teaching them to read and write so that they will be able to study the Gofa Gospel of Mark for themselves. Our school work here has for its purpose the teaching of these aforementioned arts, so that those who learn will be able to read the word of God. We are not interested in making them merely worldly-wise so that they will be "advanced", but we feel that a knowledge of Salvation and a knowledge of the Word gained by reading are inseparable.
On Sunday mornings, a service is held at which time the Gospel of Mark is studied along with an evangelistic message. Mal does the preaching in a limited linguistic way, but those who hear can understand, and we hope to see fruit eventually. Attendance is increasing, though it is rather erratic, due to the fact that the people who live here on the ridge do practically all their farming down in the valley 5,000 feet below. This is their busy time, as they are planting corn. Many are gone from here for days at a time, and during the course of the rainy season may be up here for [] a total of only a few days. However they hear some Gospel, and some believe.
Wednesday nights we have what we call a "prayer meeting". Those whom we know to be believers and some few others gather on the floor of our living room and listen to one of the parables, or some Bible story, along with a personal application. Then they pray. It seems to be an art with. They love it. Some of them fall asleep and are not ashamed of themselves as a result. It is a bit embarrassing at times to know what to do about everybody wanting to pray. It is certain that if they think they can gain "merit" by praying, they will try to do a lot of it, especially when we are around to hear. We don't want them to think that they can be saved by making long prayers, and yet we are not the judges of the saved and the unsaved. A native church is needed to handle its own affairs of this kind. They, along, know each other and, after all, a self governed church is the only practical organization.
The food problem so far has not been an easy one, as we had no garden from which to get vegetables. Mal planted some things at once however, and so far everything has come up, so that in time we will have a variety of vegetables. Because of the cold we are unable to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and melons during the rains, but the root crops and peas and beans do well. The passion fruit vines which the Davisons planted are bearing well now and we appreciate the fruit we get from them. Andersons have been letting us have tomatoes and Swiss Chard from their garden. We have plenty of potatoes and chickens. The egg market is not very lively now, as the hens refuse to perform during the cold damp weather. We get enough to go on though. It's hard for [] the cook (Enid of course, though a native boy does the puttering around the stove) to plan meals with so limited a supply of foodstuffs, but she is good at her job and we always have good meals.
We hear rumors of mobilization for war occasionally, but we are too far away to see anything much. The local governor, Dejazmatch Ababa, is expected to return from his troops to Addis Ababa, or to the Somali border. As far as we are concerned, all is peaceful.
---[letter #15; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
June 28th, 1935
I've been meaning for so long to write you a long, long letter, and don't know yet if this will be it or not, but this will be a start, anyway. It's length depends on how tired I get, 'cause I'm sitting up in bed, being here with a hangy-on cold that has given me a bit of a temperature, and made me feel weak. I'm on the road to recovery, but if I get too tired I'm going to stop, and finish later. [...]
You asked what do we do about lights? We bought, in Addis, a kerosene pressure lamp, Swedish made, 200 watt pressure, which works very satisfactorily. We order our kerosene from Addis in gas tins. About evergreens, -- none of the trees here ever lose their leaves. They're green all the year round. But in the way of the kind we have home, they have cedar, and another kind with longer needles that we used to decorate for our wedding (but the needles aren't either stiff, or sharp, like those at home).
Thanks for this time's pansy seed. I'll see that it gets [] planted directly. I now have really quite a flower garden, with snapdragons, dahlias, zinnias, poppies, calendulas, candytuft, marigolds, and nasturtiums up, along with lots of weeds. They grow rapidly, with the abundance of rain we have now, and the abundance of manure we put on the beds at first (all the natives are more than glad to get rid of all the manure, and so give us all we want). [...] By the way, I planted that basil seed you gave me about two weeks ago, but it hasn't come up yet, -- or hadn't the other day when I looked.
About water, -- we're very lucky in being the only station on the field where they can get drinking water without boiling it. We have a spring just below our house here, where the water comes clear and fresh from the hillside, and which we drink just the way it is. Our boy, who looks after the animals, garden, and outside work generally, brings two or three big gas tins up daily, on his shoulder, which he dumps into a larger tank with a spigot on it, from which we draw for washing, dishes, etc. It's the cook's job to go down with our camel pitcher and bring up the water we use especially for drinking, washing lettuce and other things that we eat raw. Andersons, who live about 150 yards from us, have a donkey which draws their water for them in time. Other stations have other arrangements. Roberts, at Soddu get their water from a clear spring, 300 feet or so straight down a hill from the station and use three donkeys working every morning to bring up enough water to last them. Their water for their garden comes in an irrigation ditch tapping another stream above the house. They, however, bail all their drinking water. []
In Duromie, a boy carried our water, every morning from a stream which ran not far from the house - and it was clear if he got it early, before they took the animals to water. Before we left, the stream was quite low because of the long dry season, but it is clear and nice, in the rains. At stations where they have tin roofs, as in Addis, they catch the rain water off the roofs and have plenty during the rains, but have to carry it by donkeys during the dry season, or in Addis, they have a well. Most brooks and rivers here are fast-flowing during the rains, and many dry up, and others become small and sluggish during the dry time, -- approximately from October to the end of May. Gamo and Gofa have longer rainy seasons than the stations further north, since we are in the tropical belt, and therefore the streams are very, very numerous all about me. Just now, we are having much rain and can see falls coming down the hills on all sides. You'd love this country, Marian, especially this section, where it is all mountains and trees and gorgeous views, just from our porch, even. Last Tuesday, Mal and I took the day to go down to our valley garden --- three solid hours of riding down, down, down to the beautiful, but hot, malarial and treacherous valley below. There, things grow very quickly, and we brought back 100 ears of corn - native, but not too bad - also a few tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. Andersons also have peanuts doing well there.
Fish are scarce in the streams, though Mal and Mr. Anderson once caught a few small ones in the Senti, -- the largest river near us, during last dry season. Crossing that same river [] on the way here from Soddu, we had a terrible time, as it was flooded, and running swiftly, and carriers and animals were both afraid. Mal finally whipped his horse across, and one man swam, and after stretching a rope across to hang onto, the carriers and the rest of us with the loaded mules managed to get across. It was then too swift to have many fish, except as they hid in quieter pools.
Bridges are very, very few here. And so, when you come to a river you just stick on your animal and plunge through, -- or if they are too frightened, a boy leads them across. In Addis, they have bridged across streams in town, but otherwise, the only ones I've crossed are few rough ones of logs that a few people have banded together to make.
Sometime ago, I believe, you asked about the life of a native from birth on, and so I'll try to give you a bit of what I know.
Birth -- Customs and rituals differ in various tribes, I believe, but so far none of the missionaries have had very much luck in finding out just what does go on. All the natives refuse to let any doctor, or nurse, come near them. Dr. Roberts only, at Soddu, persuaded an Amhara woman whose husband had put her aside, and whose own relatives had forsaken her to let him deliver her child. She had syphillis quite badly and was afraid, as in several previous cases, that this child would die. Dr. gave her regular needles during pregnancy, delivered the child in the clinic, and both child and mother prospered and her husband was thinking of taking her back, when suddenly the child got pneumonia and died before the doctor could get to it. This is the first and only case I've heard of where a white man helped. From questioning [] here, this is what I know about Gofa customs. The child is always born outside the house in a little lean-to built for the occasion, and is delivered, evidently, with the help of a midwife, -- Amahra lady. They do it outside for fear the child or mother might die and then the house would be cursed. Also, if a person is very sick, and expected to die, a separate little lean-to, outside, is made for them to die in the girl's mother or friends do not come near during labor, but next day the Mother has all sorts of visitors. At the time of birth, there is some offering to the Devil, or ceremony performed, but we haven't particulars. The child is smeared with butter. I've seen two mothers and children, the day after birth, and in both cases the mother, even though it was the first child, was sitting up in bed with the child in her arms. She gets about work amazingly quickly. The child, meanwhile, gets fed large doses of native butter besides the mother's milk, and often gets stomach trouble from over-eating. Dr. Roberts has loads of such cases. Many die in infancy, and are buried without much sorrow in the plantain patch that surrounds the house. The mortality rate is terrifically high.
All the children that do survive are terribly spoiled, spending half their time in the mother's arms and being played with, only being put down when asleep, and always picked up if it starts to cry. As they get a bit older, the mother will put the child on her back, tie it there with a sort of shawl, and away it goes on a rockabye if she happens to grind corn or grain between two rocks, or on a jog is she goes for a walk, etc. When it starts to walk, it toddles around the floor with no clothes or maybe a rag tied around its neck. It is soon given heavy foods to eat and all kinds of [] stomach troubles are frequent. At about two and a half, they start going to the stream with brother or sister, carrying a small gourd and bringing it home filled with water. As the child gets older, the container gets larger, until a six year old carries a gallon or so. Little boys, five and six and up, wear a rag and stay out all day tending the cattle, sheep, goats, or what have you? The girls stay home, run their legs off on errands, learn how to spin thread when five or so, and how to keep the fire going and cook the food.
Mal and I have visited, a couple of times, in the home of a woman - young - who has four children, three of whom are with her. Negusie is a boy of about 2 ½ , ??Worini??, a girl about 4, and ??Yosha??, a girl about 7. The other day when I was there, they all were sitting around the fire, adding wood, and keeping the big jar of potatoes boiling, while the mother was spinning, ??Negusie?? had a little cup full of honey he was licking, and upon finishing that, the older girl fished out some of the potatoes, peeled them for him, and he continued to eat every minute of the hour I was there, - and that wasn't mealtime, either. Each one of these children has a different father, and now the mother has no husband, though all the fathers are living. You can see what sort of a moral atmosphere they live in, and yet the woman is not at all looked down upon. They all live lives in various degrees of sin.
The Gofa children watch, and take part in, the father's sacrificing to evil spirits and Satan. Even on the Mission grounds here, is a big tree to which, monthly, they bring offerings in the form of cotton, cooked potatoes, grain, and make coffee at its feet, saying prayers to it. We have not refused them permission to do this, but hope that as they are taught in Bible truths, they will [] willingly, and of their own initiative, give up these heathenish practices, believing in the blood of the sacrifice that has been made once and for all, in the death of the Lord Jesus for our sins. As the boys get older they help their fathers in the fields looking after the crops, while the girls take over more of the work of the household.
As for more of their practices - these people read the entrails of animals to see if the omens are good or bad. They story goes of a man who had a sick chicken, and, in order to see if it would or die he killed a sheep - 10 or 12 times the chicken in value. They also have a certain kind of stone they "read."
I think I'd better stop this, this time, for it is getting late. But is easier to know what to write when you ask questions, so keep it up, and I'll try to do my best in answering. [...]
P.S. In case you wonder about the "boys" I always talk about, -- we have a 17 year old cook, a 14 year old house boy and an older outside boy, -- whose wages amount to equal a little over an American dollar a month each. Some people think it is frightful the way missionaries have servants to do their work and line "style", but there really is no sense in doing your own work when labor is so cheap, and when you have no time whatsoever for other work if you didn't have the help. As it is, I have my two boys now trained to do the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, setting, and waiting on table, etc. and so I can get in four hours a day language, the necessary visiting, school work, preparation of Sunday School lessons, etc. Life out here is so different from that at home, it is hard to understand.
---[letter #16; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded]
June 28th, 1935
Dear Grandma [Miller],
We were sorry to hear several weeks ago of your sickness, but glad to hear with our mail that came yesterday of how you are feeling better now and trust you will continue. Mal and I remembered you often in prayer, and know that the Lord answered in that He has given you renewed strength. [...]
How I wish we were nearer so that you and Grandpa could just ride around and see us some afternoon. It isn't the place, or the building, but the spirit that makes a home, as you know. Outside our home looks more African than European with its thatch roof and mud walls, and inside, you can look up to the bamboos which support the thatch because of no ceilings, and yet it is comfortable, and with our pictures and furnishings, like the States after all. We have a fine garden growing now, with carrots, beans, peas, beets, lettuce, radishes, etc. well up, but we have to watch them closely to see that the red ants don't eat them or that the dik-dik (very small deer) don't get in. To keep the latter out, we're now building a woven bamboo fence around the garden, which I'm sure Grandpa would like to see. He'd also laugh to see our two mules and a donkey. They can put their heels up far higher than their heads on provocation, and pretty quickly too.
We're pretty busy now with language study and meetings. Mal has Sunday service every morning and I have Sunday School for the people - about 15 families - who live in this community. Then Sunday afternoons, we saddle our mules and, taking a boy or two, go [] out visiting to some nearby group of homes, inviting them to services and telling them briefly the story of the Redeeming Love of our Lord Jesus whom they know not of, an do not honor. Then, three times a week I have school for a group of girls who gather, teaching them just to read and write, while the Andersons, who live here in Gofa with us, have school for the boys. Wednesday night is prayer meeting night, when again the natives gather and, sitting around the floor of our living room, listen as Mal tells in their own language the words of Life. Several here have refused to offer further sacrifices to Satan, and are really trusting in the Lord Jesus for eternal life, knowing He has defeated the Evil One for which we are more than happy. And they are happy, too, as their faces and lives show, since they know of a certainty their abode in the life hereafter.
I think I had best close this now, but will try to write more often in the future than I have in the days gone by. With lots of love to you and Grandpa,
Your loving granddaughter,
---[letter #17; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
July 26, 1935
Another two weeks have sped busily by and here it is, post time again.
Mal's been especially busy lately designing and making furniture, but I'll start at the beginning. A little over a week ago, we were surprised to see 26 men from Walamo walk in here, accompanied by a letter from the Ohmans (who formerly lived here, but are now assigned to Soddu after coming back from furlough) asking that the [] most of their stuff that had be left here be sent to them. After we had packed up a reed set of four big chairs, settee and table, as well as a wash stand, dining room table and meat safe, our house looked rather bare. While we had planned on gradually replacing their stuff, piece by piece, this clear-out set Mal to work in a hurry, and stuff came piling out of the workshop. First on the list was a meat safe - taking the place of a refrigerator at home - which, looking like a little cabinet, now stands in our dining room. A coat of paint, and it will look as if it just came out of a ritzy furniture store at home. Next was a lovely, convenient washstand, and finally two big, broad-armed chairs for the living room. Everything he has made so far, has been better than that we sent away, and we're both very proud of the head of the house. Next on the list is a china cabinet, then a dining room, and finally a living room table. Our boxes are surely being appreciated.
Since writing last, we've started daily morning devotions with our three boys. How we long that they especially, should come out and out for the Lord. We were happy when last Sunday afternoon, Leesha, our cook, asked if he could go with Mal and Mr. Anderson when they went out on their animals to preach. Leesha, as he had the opportunity, spoke to a witch doctor they visited, about the word of god, and we're just praying that this willingness to tell others may be the result of a definite working of the Spirit in his own heart.
Recently we've had several new innovations in our menu. From the valley garden the other week, Mr. Anderson brought up a goodly number of peanuts that he had planted as an experiment, some [] time ago. After roasting them, we ground up a few and found we could make really good peanut butter. It surely was a treat. In the future as we plant more, we hope to get a good supply. Secondly, after noticing a number of pigeons around here, Mal set a simple trap right near the house. One day we caught two, and so had pigeon pie - a good change from chicken all the time.
Each Sunday afternoon we've been keeping up the practice of going out on our animals. One Sunday, we had planned to go to Koncho, but when half way there it started to pour. A man on the road invited us into his hut until it stopped, and as we sat there some men came in and asked us to tell god's Word to them. Mal had a nice little talk with them, and then accepted their invitation to go next door where a woman was weeping over the death of her brother, whom we found out was a Mohammedan. Mal and Simberu, - the believer who went with us, - both spoke there, and there were many questions asked and a real spirit on interest shown. We could not help but thank god for leading us to that place with a message of Life to those who had so recently been touched by Death. The next Sunday Mr. Anderson and Mal went out and ended up at a home where a wedding was going on. There they had opportunity to speak to thirty or so who listened well.
With the postman who just came, Suka came back from Soddu. He is the second outstanding believer from this place, who, because of persecution here, left about a month ago for Soddu. We advised him, at the time, not to go, - knowing that one is never strengthened spiritually by running away from testing, and since his going have been praying that he'd feel led to come back and witness to his [] fellow Gofaiten in this district. After having another talk with Mr. Ohman in Soddu, he did feel he had better come back here to his home, and we are mighty happy to see him. We are hoping, as funds permit, to go out itinerating this coming dry season, spending approximately a week in each place visited. Having Simberu and Saka along such trips, with their eagerness to testify of what the Lord has done for them, will greatly help.
When they opened the vaccine for Kenny Anderson recently, Mal and the Andersons were vaccinated, too. Mal's got slightly red, but really didn't bother at all. Since I was done about a year ago, I didn't need to be done again.
Just now we've men working on a woven bamboo fence for our garden. It is a lot of work, but when finished will last a good while and will keep everything but the ants from the garden. Already, our peas have been eaten off by dik-dik and some donkeys which got in there. We've also found signs of wild pigs' rooting, just below the garden. They could do much damage it they once got in. we'll be glad when the fence is completed. As for the ants, they've eaten off a lot of my flowers when they were just up about six inches and got away with most of our radishes, but we have more seed and hope that after they have gone through all the fertilizer on the garden (which greatly attracts them) they will leave the rest of our crops alone. Lettuce we're eating now, and carrots will be ready in a couple of weeks.]]
T'hen suddenly Mussolini swept his hand across the land. The news came from Addis Ababa and in letters and clippings from home. Mussolini was conducting a civilizing mission to Ethiopia! We felt our personal involvement most when we received a letter from Dr. Lambie. [] He wrote that the American Ambassador had ordered all American citizens to leave the country. This did not mean we missionaries had to leave but it did mean that we could not expect American protection. If at any time we felt that our lives were in danger, we were free to go to Addis Ababa. We did feel free and, together with all our missionaries in the country, chose to stay.
Finally we heard from Dejazmatch Abeba, whose feudal title is literally translated as "Governor." His "palace" was in the capital city of Bulki, two miles away, staffed by servants who were holdovers from the slaveholding days but were now free. He was a dignified and kindly appearing man in his black wool burnoose, his hair trimmed to stand straight above his light, fine-featured face. He administered Gofa and several surrounding areas, and guarded a piece of the Kenya border.
[[Mal's description, in report of 8 Aug 1935 -- also letter from Enid same date (where??)
---[letter #18; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
August 8, 1935
Things keep happening to keep us busy, but nothing exciting has happened and won't, it seems. Excuse me if I write chronologically, [] but it is the easiest way and then I don't miss anything. I'm writing ht e news again as I have had a few "experiences" this week that Enid didn't have, and some we had together.
After the mail left two weeks ago, we expected two weeks to go by before another carrier came through but we were fooled, for two days later more post came. The special carrier brought us an allowance and instructions from the American Consul in Addis. All the Consuls got together and decided that all foreigners in this part of the country should go to Soddu in the event of trouble. As we said before, we decided to stay, and the more they talk about it the more we feel the need of staying here. We see no danger and we do not feel like leaving the work here to go to weeds again. Furthermore, we don't feel that it would be right to leave all our property here with the protection which would be afforded by the presence of one or two native watchmen.
On Sunday we had a rather poorly attended service and Sunday School, as a child in the neighborhood died and everybody went the weeping. It was several hours from here. I the afternoon, Simboru and Saka went with us on a preaching tour. We stopped about 22 people on the road and the boys spoke to them. Then we visited a number of houses and had a good hearing. One old man was going blind and had killed two hundred sheep and goats, he said, in order to read the entrails to see if he would get better. We had written to the folks in Soddu telling them that we thought Saka ought to be here, as he was a believer and we needed him to help in the spiritual work here. They put it up to Sake and he considered the matter and returned and has been helping ever since.
Monday, I began work on a china cabinet-buffet to replace [] the gasboxes which formerly served the purpose. I wanted to make the job good, and so I intended to take my time. It was for Enid of course. At noon I had cut up some rough planks and was about to continue after dinner, when some mule-loads we were expecting arrived. They brought us some groceries we had ordered, also some for Andersons. Also, they brought the rest of our goods from Gamo. My tools, at last, arrived. Among them was a carpenters' plow which Mr. Grotheim had given me in Tacoma. I tried it out, and found it so good that I made beading on the entire exterior of the cabinet. It was a hard job and I had lots of sore muscles from all the sawing and planning. What with many interruptions, I didn't finish the cabinet until yesterday, after about seven days of work. I hope you don't think I'm bragging when I say that the cabinet was a great success. It looks professional. It has two deep drawers on the top and on the bottom, four drawers opening in pairs. There are two shelves on each side. The front is all grooved, fancy-like, and the grooves meet in the corners to form rectangles. It is almost five feet long and is nineteen inches deep by thirty-four inches high.
Last Thursday, August first, we got another installment of vegetables from our valley garden. Mr. Anderson and I each sent a boy and a donkey down, and in the evening they returned with a lot of corn on the cob, lots of fresh lima beans, and two big native squash that taste swell. In the meantime, we have enlarged our garden up here by more than the former amount, and have had it plowed up. The woven bamboo fence will be done tomorrow, it looks like a new place with all the brush fence taken away and a neat fence all around. And, most important of all, the animals will have to stay [] out now. While the men ere plowing, they turned up seven moles. They are not exactly like the moles at home, but are larger, and burrow deep. They are vicious, once caught. I have paid the boys a tamon for each animal in order to get rid of them.
The next job was Enid's. She mixed up some potassium permanganate crystals with water and stained the chairs and a small table which I had previously made. She didn't use enough to make them dark, but left them light. On top of this she put a bee's wax kerosene mixture which gave a high polish to the chairs, and now they look swell. We have to be careful, because we might sit down too fast, and skid on the wax. We usually skid into the chair though, instead of out, and it isn't bad.
Saturday we set to and planted a lot of new garden where the mend had plowed. We planted fifteen kinds of vegetables in long rows, and if half of the stuff matures we'll have lots to eat. Among other things, we planted lettuce, beans, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, corn, pop corn and lots more. I have started some ground cherries in a bed and they are up nicely now. They will be ready to transplant before the dry season sets in. we have received some cutting of crape vines and black raspberries from Soddu, so in the future we may have a garden that will support us.
Monday morning, August 5, I was working on the china cabinet about 11 o'clock, when a messenger came from the Dejazmatch asking us to be at the Gibbe (capitol) by twelve o'clock for lunch. Women and all were invited. We had to some rushing. I ran (no, walked, - we don't run much in this country) over to see Anderson and told him about it. We had all our animals saddled, got into our riding duds, [] and were soon ready to leave. Little Kenny Anderson (ten months) was put into his bed, it was swung on a pole, and two of the boys carried him. By twelve thirty we were at the Gibbe. We met the Dejazmatch and his wife in a wonderful two-room tent and talked for a while. They were tickled to see the baby. No less was Kenny tickled to see the three lion cubs romping around the grass. One is big, two smaller. Chained to a post of the house was a young leopard. Brought for Kenny's inspection was a black and white ??coroiza?? monkey (they are all black and white). In a few minutes we adjourned from the tent and went into the house for the "lunch" which was a big dinner plus.
To begin with, Dejaz Abeba brought in his two daughters. (He was another in Addis Ababa, married.) One was tall and very pretty. She was almost oriental looking. The other one was pretty, too, but was younger and had her head shaved, which didn't add to her beauty. The two girls sat by a little table of their own. Enid sat near to the governor and Mrs. Anderson near to his wife. Merle and I sat on the outside of the semi-circle. A servant started the proceedings by bringing a silver wash bowl and a silver pitcher of water. We washed our hands in the water as it was poured over our hands and dried them on a towel. That done, the food was brought near. It was the traditional round table woven from colored grass. Injera, native thin bread, was piled on it. Some, soaked in "soup" was placed before us, and we took it up in a peace of dry injera in the right hand and ate…..it was good. Next course was some wat. The latter is made of pea flour, meat, butter pepper (red) and various native or foreign spices. Some of it was hot, but I minded least of all. []
Roast chicken was served, hard boiled eggs were served, kidney, tripe and liver of sheep were served. Then we had fried meat. A hind quarter of a sheep is taken, the bone removed, and the meat cut in long strips about three-eighths of an inch square. A servant picked this piece up by the tick end, lifted it out of the red pepper sauce and held it up over the table. We each took hold of a strip and pulled it….it stretched, then broke. Then we broke off little pieces and ate it….it was awfully good. We had French bread. We drank honey-water, and were served vichy mineral water. We ate and drank until we though we could do no more, and still more came. Rice arrived, more chicken, more wat. Finally the meal was topped off with a desert. It was good. Later, we had coffee.
All the time we were carrying on a lively conversation in Amharic. We talked war and peace and many things. Of course, we were all seated around one table. The governor's wife is very nice. She has the manners of a gentlewoman. She has a real Roman nose, and her skin just lacks a little of being white.
While we ate, the three lions were roaming around the room playing, roaring, snatching meat, and rolling on the floor, wrestling in each other's arms. Kenny thought they were great stuff, and wouldn't hear of their going out. Once when he cried, the governor explained that the lions had gone out and that he was crying for them. he ordered some servants to bring the lions in and then Mr. Kenny (as the natives say) was all right. We patted the lions on their respective heads and did the same to the leopard. They were very tame.
Last Tuesday was another affair. About 3:30 the boys came running back from the market saying that Saka had been tied up by a [] dirty old fellow who had done the same thing before. The man was drunk and declared Saka was his slave and wanted to take him away. I told the boys to get my horse. So many of them went after him that he got scared and wouldn't be caught. So I started out walking. I had gone only about ten minutes, when one of the boys came up behind me, on the horse. I jumped on, and galloped the rest of the way to the market. The old fellow wouldn't go with me to the Dejazmatch, so I told the boys to watch the fellow lest he run away. I galloped on, up to the Gibbe, and was ushered into the governor's presence at once. I told him about the affair, and he sent his police down and brought the fellow up in a hurry. He told him to release Saka at once and to keep his hands off next time. He also bawled out the market judge for not knowing better, and finally they all bowed to the ground and went out - glad that they didn't get any worse punishment than to have to appear before the governor, which is bad enough.
I figured my affair was over, but the governor didn't. All (or rather most of) his big men are here now, waiting to go to Addis, so he has to feast them frequently. He was in his feasting hall, about through with the meal when I came. He didn't want me to go, so I stayed. He had his servants bring me some honey water and some nice cookies, and some chocolates. They were good. In the morning, he had sent over for a map and for some clippings of the war. I told him what the various things were in the clippings, and we talked over the map of Ethiopia. He showed me where the English had drawn the border on the map and then he showed me where the actual border was . . . about a hundred miles further down. He recently [] was down to the border and made the English back up, and he left a border patrol there so that the English will stay where they belong. If you look at the map down by Lake Rudolf, the boundary is supposed to be some distance below the island far down in the lake. The Omo river does not flow into the lake in one stream, but in a delta of six branches. On the east side of the lake there are many big streams running into the lake. After a pleasant visit I was able to leave.
Yesterday the mail came. Last night we had the biggest Wednesday evening service since we arrived - there were eighteen here. Before the meeting I went up on the hill and called out some of the folks. They came. After a short talk on the fourth chapter of first John, I talked straight to some of the men who formerly prefessed Christ. They know they have to choose between Christ and their heathen practices. They can't serve Christ and satan. I believe some of these will come out before long . . . . We plan to keep after them until they come across. That seems to be our main job now - getting the back-sliders back.
Today was the Anderson's fifth wedding anniversary, and we were there for dinner. At three we had to hurry home to make ready for Mr. London (a Greek merchant from Bulke) who came over with a servant of the Emperor Haile Salassie. So there were six of us for tea with the Andersons. We talked war of course. This servant of Haile Selassie is a big six-footer plus, with a Captain Kidd moustache and a wonderful physique. He has a pleasant voice and he knows his stuff. He can talk about Hitler, Mussolini, Russia and all, and would perhaps be able to talk about the French government if they had one long enough to make it worth while talking about.
And now I've done my stuff and am glad to stop and call [] it quits.
One day he called Merle Anderson and me to his sprawling bamboo stockade. His attendant ushered us into his "throne room." Abeba smiled but he did not look happy. We were sorry for him, for he always had the bright eyes of a child about to have a dream come true. Now his eyes were heavy. His discussions of world affairs had always been spirited. Now he had an inquiring attitude, as if he were asking, "Do you think we can possibly win this war?" He had just heard what was probably the worst news he would ever receive in his lifetime, yet he did not dispense with the customary greetings which included many inquiries as to our health and that of our families. He did not disclose the reason for his anxiety until coffee had been served.
"I am going to Addis Ababa," he said, as though he had been transferred to another province. "The Italians are getting ready to fight us and His Majesty has called me to go to war."
We felt unutterably sad. Dejazmatch Abeba was a kindly man and in our few meetings we had become very much attached to him. The tribespeople liked him and said he was a fair administrator, a rare tribute to Ethiopian rulers in those days. What could two young missionaries say in the face of such a pronouncement?
"We are very sorry. We hope you will quickly defeat the Italians and return to your province." We meant every word.
The Governor had one request. "We will pass through some desolate country on our way and it will be impossible to find meat there. Could you make me some sausages? I will furnish the meat, the spices, and the intestines."
Merle and I looked at each other helplessly. We wanted to do everything we could for our friend -- but making sausages .... []
"We've never made sausages but we'll try," I promised the Governor.
We took our leave and upon returning home, laid the problem before our wives. A search through all their cookbooks turned up many recipes on how to cook sausage but none on how to make it. Finally we found what we wanted in an old book the Andersons had stored away, thinking they would never need it.
We conferred with the Governor and set a day for Operation Sausage. He sent a mountain of beef, what seemed like miles of intestines, and salt and red pepper. African sausages would not be much good without red pepper. Our two little family-sized grinders could hardly cope with the project. The boys turned the handles while we prepared the beef and stuffed it into the casings.
"How are we going to smoke them?" our wives asked.
'We'll have to hang them in your chimney," I told Lillian Anderson. "It's wider and lower than ours."
We scraped together all the wire we could find and hung the sausages over the Andersons' fire. For the next two weeks they had to keep it lighted whether they needed it or not. The fortnight passed, and the following day we climbed the ladder and pulled the sausages out of the chimney. They were wrinkled and black and had shrunk to half of their original size. We cut up one and tasted it.
"This isn't sausage!" Enid exclaimed. "It's dried beef!"
Whatever it was, it was cured and would keep while the Governor went to war. We presented the sausages with our apologies. The next day, he sent us a note asking us to order two cases of sardines for him from Addis Ababa. We thought we understood.
We were invited to visit Dejazmatch Abeba once more before his march to war. His servant came to us in the usual manner, head respectfully bowed, both hands outstretched and holding a note. It read "Mr. and Mrs. Forsberg, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, and Master Kenny are invited for dinner at six o'clock."
Six o'clock Ethiopian time was twelve noon by our watches. Kenny Anderson was not walking yet, so his father tied a pole to his cot and two boys carried it between them while we rode our mules the two miles to the Governor's residence.
Meanwhile, within the maze of the Governor's stockade, women servants were preparing for our coming. When their master entertained at the annual gathering for his men who were stationed throughout the province, he fed four or five thousand. We would be no problem, except [] that we were considered very special guests and Abeba wanted to entertain correctly.
The masters of the servants, who were themselves servants, goaded the cooks. "This isn't any ordinary day! Don't you know the foreigners are coming? Hurry up with that chicken!"
Several chickens had already been killed and thoroughly cleaned, and a clay pot had been placed on the fire. The dry plantain fiber wrapping was removed from a ball of rancid butter, weighing about a pound, which was put into the pot. Onions were sliced and sauteed [[[??]]] in the hot butter, and a quantity of ground red pepper was added, which soon dominated the stew. Then pieces of chicken went into the mixture. After it had cooked thoroughly, water was added to make a brown gravy, thickened with pea flour, along with two kinds of locally grown seeds which were ground up and used to season the stew.
Nearby was a special hut for making injera. These resembled large pancakes, described later by an American war correspondent as "turkish towels." The women prepared a batter made of the Abyssinian grain, teff. A pottery griddle sat on three stones over the fire and was greased with a piece of cloth soaked in beeswax. Then the batter was poured round and round several times, and spread over the entire griddle with the hand. The injera cooked quickly, forming bubbles just like pancakes. Then they were piled on a little basket-like stand.
Even the Ethiopians need some kind of liquid with their meals to cut the pepper. They favor two alcoholic drinks, one made with fermented honey, the other from barley. The Governor served us unfermented honey water, which the Ethiopians rarely drank.
Dejazmatch Abeba knew exactly how far we were from his home at any given moment. When we rode into his enclosure, he came toward us, arms outstretched in welcome. He was gracious and charming as always, his face serene, although a new anxiety, war born, occasionally revealed itself in a look or expression. He shook hands with all of us, a stream of familiar Amharic greetings flowing from his lips. He had special words for little Kenny who was still too young to understand.
"You are white, but you were born in our country, weren't you?" He bent over the crib and kissed Kenny's pudgy hand. Turning to the boys who had carried Kenny, he told them to bring the child in. Ordering people around came quite naturally, he had been born to his position.
We entered a mud-walled room, the floor of which was strewn with fresh grass. The Governor's wife and two daughters greeted us timidly. We felt sorry for them, for we knew it was an ordeal. Servants brought low tables and placed them before us. The chicken stew, now known [] as wat, was poured on top of a large round injera. The Governor took the first mouthful and then, selecting a morsel for Enid, placed it in her mouth. After that he urged us all to eat. We broke off pieces of the injera and dipped them in the gravy. It was delicious.
As we relaxed after the first course, the Governor ordered the lions brought in. They came, two of them, half-grown. They rubbed their heads against us like overstuffcd kittens and Kenny jumped with delight. The lion-keeper had only an ineffectual-looking piece of split bamboo to restrain them. The Governor noticed our uneasiness.
"They won't hurt you," he assured us. "They have just been fed."
The lions circled around us, as though they craved action. Kenny kept squealing happily but Abeba saw our discomfort and ordered the lions driven back to their cages. As soon as they were gone, Kenny began to cry.
"He wants the lions. Bring them back," Abeba ordered again.
So the lions returned and continued their smelling and investigating. We enjoyed this private showing -- more or less -- but presently another course of wat was brought and the lions were led out. We drew a relieved breath.
Abeba sat between us and his conversation was stimulating. He urged us to eat. We had been doing just that for an hour, much longer than we spent at a meal in our own homes. When we stopped, from sheer inability to eat another morsel, he picked up a choice piece of chicken, wrapped it in injera, and put it into the mouth of the nearest guest.
"Do eat," he said. "There isn't much pepper in this wat."
Perhaps he was right, but we had to drink a stream of honey water to keep flames from breaking out in our mouths. We loved the food but our capacity was not as great as the Governor's kindness.
At last he yielded to our protestations that we could eat no more. But we were not through. He wanted to impress us with his knowledge of modem dishes, too, and calling to his servants, produced what was intended to be a custard. It was actually scrambled eggs.
"We must go," Merle said finally. "Kenny is getting tired."
"That is just the way we talk." The Governor smiled understandingly. "When we want to leave a friend's home we say, 'The baby is tired."'
We exchanged bows and greetings with the Governor and his family. We had feasted with them and had had a pleasant time. Tomorrow some peasant or former slave would invite us to a meal. The local people kept to their social strata but all welcomed us. They seemed to know instinctively that those who preached the Word should not be bound by caste.
[[letters & reports to locate in Mal's text:
22 August 1935 (Enid) [#19; from an original typed carbon copy, double sided, folded in thirds]
22 August 1935 (Enid to MNK)
August 22, 1935.
Mail keeps coming in regularly and we hope it keeps up. The two weeks seem plenty long as it is.
Since last writing, in the way of house furnishings, we have progressed this far: Mal finished our lovely dining-room buffet and now it stands, all stained and waxed and shining. I've gotten curtains up in our "study" ready for the coming of the Ohmans, as well as the woven bamboo mats on the floor with the palm mats on top. Have also started on a runner for the top of the buffet, using for an embroidery pattern the pineapple in "Nancy Quilt Patterns" cut from the Tacoma Tribune. In this week's paper came a pretty Gooseberry pattern which I'll find useful before too long, I think.
In the way of meetings - attendance has been keeping up, with 24 and 13 respectively at Sunday service for the two Sundays, and 19 and 24 in Sunday School. We're having a little competition in Sunday School, in the learning of verses - giving out three Primary lesson pictures as prizes at the end of the month to the three who know their verses best. We divide the kids into three groups and pick the best from each one. I have a few pictures that you sent, Mother, and Andersons had a few of the "The Primary Child" - International graded series - sent to them which they are donating. I think it is pretty wonderful the attention these kids pay with 24 in one class, as it were, of all ages from 3 years to 14 or so. [] The wall chart pictures Andersons lent us do much to help in this.
Last Thursday we started our first women's meeting with twelve women out. They seem so bashful in going to Sunday service with the men that I thought this might be better. This afternoon we're going to play a few games and give them cookies and coffee before the lesson, as it were, since it is the end of the15-day Amharic fast and they can eat eggs, milk and butter once more. Most of those around about here, are professing Amharas and are very conscientious about keeping the fast, though not knowing just why, nor receiving any spiritual food from the Coptic church.
That first Sunday, Saka and Simberu went out by themselves early in the morning to preach, and were gone practically all day. They went quite a distance and spoke to about 25 in various homes. In the afternoon, Mr. Anderson, Mal and I went down to Gucha-Gulla and spoke to 24, gathered in the home of the head of that community. They listened well and as usual promised they'd be here for service next Sunday - (of which promise two little kids came to Sunday School the next, and no grown-up came at all). Last Sunday, Simberu and Saka went out again and in the afternoon, Mal and I rode out to Barza and spoke to six adults in one home and then, because of the rain, came home again. Do pray that these little trips and continual sowing of the "seed" may really bear fruit and that Satan will not snatch the seed away.
Now for incidentals. Think I forgot to tell you last time about the abundance of mushrooms we're finding and having brought to us around here. They're not like the ones at home, being ever and ever so much bigger, -- and tougher. If they simmer all day and then [] are fried, they're really tasty, however. We had two mushrooms brought up from the valley last week, each being about a foot in diameter. The kids round about find them, from two or three inches across to eight or nine, and I get about six for the equivalent of two cents. They find them when they are out minding the cattle. The natives love them, themselves, but would rather have the money than the mushrooms in most cases.
Our garden is now all beautifully fenced in, and so our peas are once more getting a chance to grow, since no dik-dik can get in. Of the many varieties of vegetables we planted about three weeks ago, everything is up and humping along. Recently, Mal planted cucumbers, pumpkin, squash, watermelon, pop corn and mualmelon. We'll be anxious to see how they do. In many places out here - on other stations - they've had little success with vine plants because of a bug which kills the vines just when the fruit is forming. We want to try them, anyway. At present we're getting lots of lovely lettuce, and carrots quite often. Beans are coming on, so now we have them about once a week. During the fast we sent some lettuce and a few carrots over to the governor to round out his menu, and he like them so much, he has sent over twice asking for more. We've had to refuse him the carrots - they're not coming along fast enough.
A week ago last Monday, Mal and I made another trip down to the valley garden. It's three hour's ride each way, and when we arrived we both felt useless because of the sudden change in altitude and the intense heat down there. Stayed only a couple of hours and came back with lima beans, tomatoes (green ones, for the birds eat them as soon as they get the least bit red) peanuts, and sweet potatoes. We're tickled with the way the peanuts grow - they're [] such a treat. We both had bad headaches when we got back, but slept them off in a hurry.
When Mal went to Bulke to see the governor with Mr. Anderson the other week, and settle the governor's medical account Mal brought me back a pretty present for my mule - a lovely native halter, bridle, tail-crupper and martingale - made of green leather, worked with various colored leather. I had needed it for some time, since we were using a makeshift, rigged up in Soddu, and which the rats here started to eat. This is really pretty and works fine.
My flowers are coming along better now, and the dwarf marigolds are now out, along with a few zinnias. I'm happy the way the snapdragons and larkspur are coming along. They're only about three or four inches high now, but keep growing.
On August 17, Mal and Mr. Anderson again went to see the Governor, and he told them of a telegram just received from the King asking the Americans here - (mission people) to pray for Ethiopia - especially in regard to some action in or by the League of Nations. It seems to us it would not hurt if the president of the "Christian" nation, America, took some advice from the king of the "heathen" nation, Ethiopia, in turning unto God in times of trouble and distress.
Mal has recently started on our dining-room table, now having two legs all planed and the other two cut out. We'll have it ready for the Ohmans who will be arriving here in about three weeks, according to their letter received this mail.
August 19th just about 9:26 our time, when we were going to bed, there seems to have been a small tremor here. We were walking about so didn't notice the floor shake especially, but thought [] some animal or something must have jumped on the roof because it seemed to shake and settle. Next day, Andersons said they were sitting before the fire when they felt the whole house shake, and their chairs on which they were sitting. We were wondering if there could have been a more violet earthquake in some other part of the world and we just go a slight tail-end of it.
To pad our big living room chairs, I've been buying native cotton in the market and using it to make little stationary cushions for the back and seats. It works quite nicely and is inexpensive.
Will let Mal tell anything he may think of now -
When we got word from the Consul in Addis (Mr. George) that we Americans were all to leave the country at once, we wondered how long it would be before you folks would hear about it. We couldn't say anything about it, as we were enjoined to keep it "strictly confidential". Now that it has reached the headlines at home we don't have to keep silent.
Of course we had no intention of leaving. Things here are very peaceful, and though we realize that the U.S. is trying to keep out of trouble by calling her nationals home, we are obliged to stay, because we are citizens of heaven first and American citizens second. The Lord has sent us out here, and we don't leave until He gives the word. We think that the U.S. did a smart thing in calling her nationals home, for it means that she will not have to rush in here to protect her citizens in the event of trouble, thus making it possible for her to become involved in the war. She is outside now. We are here on our own responsibility now, and cannot, nor do we, expect aid from the U.S. Furthermore, when the order comes for us to concentrate at Soddu, we do not intend to go. We realize [] that when the war commences, conditions will be unsettled and we may be subjected to some inconveniences. But it's too bad if we trust the Lord in a heathen land when things are smooth, and then go running home when there is trouble. We believe that God is real, and not theoretical; we believe that His care is real and not theoretical; we believe that he can and will take care of us. Now is the time for us to prove that we trust Him actually and not merely theoretically.
This year the rains have been very light and we have had some grand sunshine. It seems to rain for two days and then we have sunshine. It seems to rain for two days and then we have sunshine for a week or so. The garden is doing well under such conditions and we go out a lot and do not have to hug the fire. Last week-end we had a good and muchly needed rain. We're hoping that our pop corn turns out, as we can use lots of it. Besides having it for an occasional evening, we eat it out here as a breakfast food with milk and sugar and it's swell. Of course it is light, but when we have lots we can eat lots, and we don't get tired of it. In another six months we ought to have a quantity of peanuts. They seem to do so well in the valley.
Gofa - August 22, 1935
With this last post came your letter and I'm answering it right off, more or less briefly, but enclosing a lot of general letters and former letters to our folks that I thought you might like to see. Some of them are pretty old, but still, you might be interested.
About a village near us, -- it is Bulke, the capital of this province, about twenty minutes ride away. It consists of a [] settlement of the Governor's servants and under-government officials for the most part. Throughout Ethiopia, there are very few towns - about one good sized one in each province, thus differing from the rest of Africa. The people are scattered about like a rural scattering at home. Right next to us on the hill above is a group of about fifteen families or so, but it is no village. Just a gathering of about five or six heads of families and then their grown daughters and husbands, etc. Most of the trees right about us are large thorn trees. They have abundant foliage, but the wood is useless, not even good for burning. In other places there are wild fig and acacia, but Gofa really has few tress, and wood is scarce. Other places it is abundant - Gamo for instance. Water here is very abundant now in all sorts of little streams running down from above, but that is because of the rainy season. In a couple of months most of them will be dry. The largest river near us of any size is about a day's trek away in the valley way below. We get our water from a year round little spring just below the house.
Married life so far has been ideal for us - no a single down as yet - I seem to be falling harder all the time, and we're surely loving the work together. I had seventeen women to meeting this afternoon and we had some time trying to show them how to play simple games, -- which they had never done in their lives before! This afternoon, just before meeting, I came upon some of these same women offering a sacrifice of butter, coffee, and grain to a big tree just on the edge of our property. They said that a god was in the tree and they had to placate him so he would keep them from harm. These are some who call themselves Amharic Christians - but who don't [] know even the first commandment, "The Lord thy God is one God and Him only shalt thou serve". Such are a handful of our charges. Their customs are many and shocking. I hope that through these meetings some of them will refuse these satanic practices and really come into the love of Christ and believe on Him as the perfect sacrifice for their sin.
It's getting late, and I'm tired, but I just wanted to get this off to you. - With much love to all,
Enid and Mal.
P.S. Four pansies are up. I planted them in a box and set it on the railing, but some donkeys go into the yard and onto the veranda and knocked the box down. I was afraid none would come up, but four are now seen.
[31 August 1935 newsart and picture, Waterbury Evening Democrat]
20 Sept 1935 (Mal, mentions the war)
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
Sept. 20, 1935
Ohmans and Mr. Davis have arrived; we have arranged for the baptism of three believers; Dejazmatch Abeba has left for the war; many of our boys around us have to go. That, in substance, is last week and this and it has been filled with many prophecies of the future.
On the fourteenth, the Ohmans and Mr. Davis arrived. Merle and I rode a good way down the road to the valley to meet them, and had a good visit on the way back. They had had a good trip without too much rain, while here we had had the heaviest rains of the season. We had much to talk about. We had tea at Anderson's, dinner here. Sunday a good crowd came out to hear Mr. Ohman and me speak. We interviewed two on the subject of baptism, though we had no doubt [] as to their preparedness for the rite.
Sunday, also, the word came from Addis Ababa that the governor, Dejaz Abeba, was to leave for the war. The neighbors came flocking in, bringing present for the Ohmans…chickens, sheep, milk, eggs, limes. Many came to greet the Ohmans, for they had made many friends here and the Ethiopians are not quick to forget real friends.
We thought there would be two ready for baptism. This week, another young man came and asked to speak to us. He had already been told by his neighbors that if he confessed Christ in baptism that they would not bury him, would not weep for him and make it hard for him by not working with him. In spite of this persecution which already awaited him, he wanted to confess Christ openly. The boys are clearing out a stream and are damming it up for the service. There is a beautiful green sidehill by the stream which forms a natural place for the rite and the audience. We plan to have the service on Sunday, so that many can witness it.
Tuesday the governor camped on our property. His idea was like this. He came out here and camped. Then the word got around that he had started for Addis Ababa, and all then began to hurry to get into line. Thus he was saved a lot of trouble getting the men together. In the evening he came up here from his tent and wanted to play caroms. He learned it in Chincha, where he played with the missionaries. The dejazmatch and I were the Ethiopians, and Mr. Anderson and Mr. Ohman were the Italians…The Dejaz called Ohman "Mussolini". Well, the natives won both rounds. Wednesday night he came again and this time Mr. Davis and Mr. Ohman were the Italians. [] The Ethiopians won all three rounds. Dejaz Abeba certainly was fun! He kidded the "Italians" about their weakness; when we had a hard time shooting the caroms in, he said there was lots of woods and hence going was hard. He was wise, too. He aimed carefully, knew how to make indirect hits and all.
The second night while we were playing, he had his servants bring the lions into the house. They roamed around loose, stood in front of the fire, smelled the meat in the pantry and were petted by all of us. They were just like big kittens. Dejaz Abeba grabbed Mr. Davis by the arm and reared and Davis jumped. Later he did the same to me. He is quite the animal trainer, and his lions are very safe though we don't fool around with them. They left with him for Addis Ababa.
Yesterday, Sept. 19, our governor, Dejazmatch Abeba Dumtu, left with his 200 or so servants for Addis Ababa and the war. His nine or ten thousand soldiers will be leaving in the next few days to catch up to him in Walamo. There has been a general conscription and many of our neighbors have to go. Some are just kids and they are frightened, not knowing what it is all about. They have come to us and asked what to do; They wanted us to speak to the governor for them, but we couldn't. They have been promised their food and clothing, and so are a bit assured from the first. They don't know what the war is about. They know practically nothing about a gun. So many will never return, even if there is no war. The road will kill so many. And if there is a war, so very many will never see Gofa again. We want to help so much, but there is nothing we can do but to speak to the boys about their salvation and then pray for [] them, as we do. The boys here have been awakening to the reality of the situation since the war has come right into their homes and taken fathers and brothers. Now they pray for the king, and for the governor, and the country. There will be many tears shed when they go, on Sunday or Monday.
Unsettled conditions do not affect us directly, but very much indirectly. Shiftas (bandits) are already super-active in Gurage province, and one carrier who had a load of mission goods and mail failed to reach Addis Ababa from Soddu. So perhaps you have missed letters from us already. As far as we can figure out, nothing of ours was lost except letters. We are going to try to use government post from Soddu to Addis as much as possible, since the bandits have a little more respect for the Ethiopian government. These affairs do not touch our persons, so that we are safe….they cause a bit of inconvenience, only. We just want you to know that if letters fail to arrive, you can picture them in the bottom of the Hawash river, or somewhere between here and Addis. The sad part is the boys, the carriers, who vanish without a trace.
We are trying to get all the goods from Addis which we will need in the next year, so that if we are cut off it won't matter much. It is likely that the stores in Addis will close. We have received a special gift from home of 100 thalers each (for every missionary) with which to get another grocery order from Addis. We have lots of flour, sugar, and kerosene on hand, so that we wouldn't need so much. However, we plan to get whatever we will need before the stores close, and the looting on the road becomes any worse. Conditions on the roads may become so bad that letters may be almost stopped altogether. It will mean isolation for us, while at the [] same time we will be perfectly safe. We are going to stay here at Gofa at all costs for the sake of the work. The believers are not strong enough yet to stand alone so we mean to stay.
We have heard that an American firm or firms have been given seventy five year monopolies on oil and roads. The oil concessions are mostly along the Eritrean border. This may lead to new diplomatic complications. It is rumored that there is danger of civil war in Italy. The trouble seems to be as much between Italy and England as between Italy and Ethiopia. So with all the ramifications and diplomatic tie-ups and plain old fashioned human nature, it is hard to predict what the outcome will be. There may never be a war. There may be a war in Europe as a result of Italy's efforts here. Diplomacy may tie Mussolini into knots. The undercurrents are stronger than the surface currents, but we cannot see them. Predictions are vain when there are so many possible outcomes. It may be all over by the time this letter reaches you.
The above may be important, but now for some news. When Ohmans were here, before, there was an old man up on the hill who was much interested in the Gospel and seemed on the point of accepting it. He seemed to turn back. He has T.B. and seldom leaves his house. He is the master of one of the believers who is a slave. Yesterday, he told Mr. Ohman that he believed but that if he confessed it openly he would be beaten and mistreated by the big men on the hill. He is a Coptic Christian. He was willing that all the missionaries know of his belief and intends to make a public profession but hasn't come to it yet. Greatest of all, he expressed a willingness to free Simberu, his slave. This would be like removing [] his right arm and leg as he himself is helpless. So changed was Simberu's life when he believed, that his master could not overlook the power back of it. In his unregenerate days, Simberu attempted to kill his master. Since his conversion, he has been a real servant. How we rejoiced in the Lord because of this secret believer who was willing to give up so much for his Lord.
* * * * * * * * *
Mal wrote about the Dejazmatch and his friendliness, but failed to mention his lovely wife. Of course, according to native custom, she wouldn't visit us with him, but I invited her up on another morning for tea. She really is sweet and very friendly. Their two children, - one girl about sixteen and another about twelve or thirteen, - came with her and seemed almost like foreign children. The older girl wore a pretty pink silk dress with a lovely sort of blue sweater from England. They wore shoes and stockings for the occasion, but you could see they hurt, and weren't usually worn. After visiting for a bit, she called in her servant and sent him after a dik-dik (small lively gazelle) which had been captured and tamed and which she gave to the Andersons as a present for baby Kenny. He's ideal for a pet.
It has seemed strange to have to cook for five people this last week instead of two, but we have managed and have been so happy to have the garden to draw on. We killed a young bull for meat for the crowd which gave us plenty of meat, -- especially with the sheep which Ohmans had given them for presents.
The week before the Ohmans arrived, on Sept. 12th to be exact, the Amharic new year began. On that day the children from the hill came singing and bringing bundles of grass - and begging for [] money. Also, the Governor had a big feast with the drums beating all day long and sent to the Andersons and ourselves each, a big goat. We had the liver and the heart, but gave the rest to the boys for a feast.
04 Oct 1935 ( two from Enid, longhand and typed, various local issues)
Gofa, October 4, 1935
Three are baptized at Gofa!! Sunday, Sept. 22nd, the event took place, after the regular Sunday morning service with about thirty onlookers. There were some shrieks and laughter as each was baptized, but some realized all that it meant. The father of the two brothers who were baptized said he wanted to be baptized too within a few days. That night the three, Saka, Simberu, and Sankura took communion with us, using the native bread and honey water. We rejoice with them and in them, praying that they will be strengthened to stand through the persecution which we know must come.
Ohmans left the 23rd, and Mal and Merle Anderson rode down as far as the valley with them. From that time on, the road has been full of people going to the war. Amharic soldiers go with a servant or more, depending upon their importance. "Bigger" men have more servants, extra riding mules, many serfs carrying the food for the road as well as pack animals. Women and men go, -- often with babies o their backs, as well as slaves, who receive very little food on the road. Most of the food for the road is ground grain - barley, wheat, corn, which they mix with a bit of pepper and water when eating. The serfs and slaves may receive a handful a day - as some one said, just enough to keep them alive. Therefore, many drop by the wayside, from sickness, weakness, etc. [] Our postman, coming from Walamo this time, spoke of seeing some such lying by the wayside, through whom the Amharas stuck their spears to put them out of misery.
We had a sad time just a week ago, when many of our neighbors left for the war. They are men of no especial rank, just told they must go because they own guns. But two of the seven have servants. Two of them were professing believers - young kids about 20 years old. They loaded their food on donkeys and went on foot, hoping to catch up with the Dejazmatch in Walamo, from which place he said he'd watch out for their food.
Since then, we've seen a bit of the misery side of those going along the road. The night after the Ohmans left, Merle heard screams on the road and, calling Mal, went up to find an Amhara cruelly beating a Shankela (men of a more pagan African tribe south of here, who wear little or no clothes). Mal and Merle intervening, found that the man had wandered from his master's camp, pitched not far away, and this man coming along the road was forcefully trying to take him along, to carry, and eventually to sell into slavery farther north. He screamed because of the terrible way he was being beaten. Taking the Shankela back to his master's camp, Mal and Merle were asked to act as judges, which ended in the man going back to his master. The other Amhara paid him a dollar - small recompense for the lashings he had received. We could do no more to help him, but he was very thankful for that.
The next day, just at nightfall, the boys found a poor, sick, half-starved Shankela girl sitting beside the Anderson's chicken yard. It seems that, being sick, she had been put out of [] her mistress' house where she was a slave, and hearing of the foreigners, slowly made her way to us from several day's journey away. She could hardly creep along the road because of painfully swollen knee joints, and both legs covered with sores. She could not speak to us, nor we to her, but she received food and shelter that night, and next day by interpreter we got most of her story. We tried to fix her up, and Sumberu said she could stay in his house with another girl who is sick there, and who we are treating. Happily, they can both speak a common language, and since the first girl believes, the second one is hearing the Gospel story from her lips - and both seem very happy together. As soon as the rain stops, we are going to build a small native house to keep such patients in.
Our third visitor was another Shankela, found moaning, without a stitch of clothes on, outside of Anderson's kitchen one night. While carrying for his master, he had become very tired and not able to go on. Whereupon, the master took his bit of money, his bit of clothes, beat him, and left him behind. He was trembling, tired and hungry when we took him in, and he slept with our boys for two nights, resting, eating and sleeping during the day. Mal had a good talk with him, trying to get the Gospel message across in Amharic which neither he nor the man knew too much of, but which was their only common tongue. He finally left to go back to his home, swearing he was coming back to repay us in grain he would bring - for which we don't care - but we do hope to become good enough friends with him so that at some later time we can go to his country and preach.
Sunday, we and the three baptized ones went out, preaching [] to a few homes of potters and tanners, - a class of people greatly despised by all. They listened well, asked many questions, and really seemed touched - especially with the thought that there were no distinctions in heaven between classes. Found some of the loveliest wild flowers you ever saw coming home, - like huge, blue larkspur.
Tuesday, an Amhara came here for medicine, having been shot through the shoulder. The bullet had gone clean through, narrowly missing a large artery. He had been on the way to the war when a miniature war broke out between gabaras and masters. This fellow was shot, and another Amhara got a broken arm. But they wouldn't tell what happened to the serfs. We can imagine the worst.
Gofa, October 4th, 1934 [sic; must be 1935]
04 Nov 1935 (two from Mal, one mimeographed; war reports, etc.)
15 Nov 1935 (two from Enid, one personal; on house roof replacement, war, etc.)
Gofa, October 4th, 1934 [sic; must be 1935]
Here's questions answered: "Whiskers" ran away and left us not once, but three times, each time being found and returned. The fourth time, he twisted and twisted and got his head out of the rope and we never him thereafter. He surely was cute, and getting really tame.
Our rainy season at Gofa is probably the longest to any part of Ethiopia, lasting approximately from May 1st to the end of October. During that time, we may have odd days, or weeks, or even a month without rain, but one must always be prepared for it. Here, we often have whole days of fog and rain and more fog, and then again for several weeks we may have sunshine every morning and rain every afternoon, or vice versa, or sunshine all day and rain at [] night. The ground however, never really dries out. We wear raincoats, rubbers or boots, as the depth of the mud may be, and mostly like to hug the fireplace where we have a fire all day long.
Birds seem plentiful most of the time, although they sing mostly when the sun is shining. We have wild pigeons nesting in a tree right next to the house. A yellow, "bandit bird" we call him, with a black band across his eyes is plentiful, also sparrows, and a sort of robin with orange bill and feet.
Our roof does leak, one or two places in each room, but it's considerate and leaks where there is no furniture. We wanted to put a new roof on, this coming dry season, but will have to let it go, I guess, because of unsettled conditions.
Drainage systems aren't, here. The few homes near us, are built on a hill, and water runs off to both sides. It's muddy and wet in the paths, and often it stinks with the animals' refuse just poked out a hole in the back of the house and let stand there. Our waste water runs in a ditch from the kitchen to the edge of the hill. Thereafter -- ??? Nobody lives below us. I took the temperature inside at 4:30 yesterday and it was 68 degrees. It was 80 degrees outside in the sunshine. It seems colder inside because of the difference and because of the dampness.
Still answering questions: - we're far from the war, and are sure we'll only be affected indirectly. Gofa is south-west from Gamo (more west than south) probably due south of Jimma, only nobody really knows because maps differ so, and one gets all twisted up when traveling. Maybe you can find Bako on the map. We're a bit north and west from there. It's a bit nearer Gamo than Soddu. []
For washing, I hand the clothes out to the boy, who washes in two galvanized tubs that we had made in Addis - (also our personal bath tubs) - with water brought up from the spring in tins by our outside boy.
Thanks for the radish and alyssum seed. The five pansy plants are coming along fine. Lots of love,
Enid (written in Amharic: - Ed.)
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia,
November 4, 1935
Dear Friends: -
It was Caesar, a Roman, who, at the time of Christ's birth was a large instrument in the hands of God. Caesar was not interested in playing any part in the birth of the Savior, but god used him. Today our Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ is once more touched by a Roman…Mussolini. Christ came into the world to preach forgiveness of sins through His own blood. Caesar was ruling in the material affairs of men. Today we are keeping up Christ's work of preaching His Gospel and a Roman is ruling in the material affairs of men.
Loud indeed bark the cannons, machine guns and rifles, as black and white alike pass into eternity. We in southern Ethiopia hear not the actual shots, but only the torment of men and women as they think of their loved ones facing lead and poison. The problem is to raise the cry of "Salvation through blood" until the voice of shooting be drowned out, though not stilled.
This letter is "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" to [] all. We realize that this closing year has been a hard one for many at home who have almost given up after so many years of scarcity. Well do we realize that much of our support comes from people who are giving out of their poverty. We pray with you all that the coming year may see the Lord easing the burdens of His people. We wish, too, that Christmas Day will bring many happy thoughts of Him who was born on that day.
How will we celebrate Christmas? We will have no tree. These people worship trees and if we take a green bush and decorate it with glass and tinsel we will be giving Satan a big boost. The people will then believe that our Gospel allows of tree worship, and we can't afford to preach such a Gospel. We will tell the Christmas story during that happy week. We will try to make it more clear to the believers, and we will preach the inseparable birth and death, that some might believe and be saved.
Christmas, here, comes during the best part of the year. It is almost impossible to have rain then and the "Judean Hills" of Ethiopia will picture once more the story in a setting much more like the original than in America.
We cannot help but think of Ethiopia at this Christmas time, when so much is being said about her. So much is being written about her history of slavery and so little about the fact that the present king and his associates have done more to better conditions in this country than has been done by all the previous rulers during the past 5,000 years. Ethiopia does not need Italy and the Roman church. She needs Christ and understanding. She is opening wide the doors to Missions….she has shut her doors to savage Italy. May this be [] God's Christmas in Ethiopia.
Once more we send best wishes for a very happy time at this joyous season of the year.
Malcolm and Enid Forsberg.
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
November 4, 1935
This is late to be getting out our bi-weekly mail, and it may mean that it will be a week late in getting home but it was almost four days late in getting to us, hence the delay. Many of the men at the customs houses along the road have gone to war, leaving new people in their places and these new ones do not know our postman. He started from Walamo on Saturday as usual, wasn't allowed to pass the customs, had to go back to get an identification paper and finally left Walamo on Wednesday…the day he should have arrived here.
When we were kids during the World War, we speculated on how we were going to run around in the streets picking up empty shells to play with. We thought the war would be that close. I saw some shells brought back from France…found none in the streets. This time the war is closer and yet things are more peaceful here in Gofa than they were in the U.S. during the World War, though there was no war in the U.S. proper. That is the immediate problem of reporting the war situation. The best I can do is the say that it is more peaceful here now than it was before the war.
We opened the mail yesterday morning as it came in. Magazines, newspapers and letters were all war, war, war. Adowa, [] where the Italians were defeated in 1896, is fallen. Axum, holy city for Copts, is fallen, other places wiped out. Inconspicuous thatching grass has been put on the conspicuous tin roofs of our Mission headquarters buildings in Addis. Shelters have been provided from flying shrapnel. Yet the Addis people feel more and more that their town will not be bombed…that the railway will not be cut off from Djibouti. Incidentally, there are only ten sheets of tin roof on Gofa station (2 1/2 x 6 foot)…they cover our kitchen. We do not intend to put thatching grass on top…as far as bombs go, there is nothing in Gofa to bomb and we haven't seen an airplane for almost two years. Indulgent relatives tell us not to burn lights at night and to "be careful."
All this war news and all these personal warnings bring a smile. We sit in front of the fire (a little rainy season has returned) and read all about it and wonder if we have been transported to a different world. The boys come in and ask if there is a war, not how the war is going. Down in Guchagulla below us, a child has died and the people are weeping. Bulke is deserted and uncomfortably quiet. I go down to the field and try to shoot a couple of dik-dik but fail to see them. The water in our new water ditch has begun to run. It is raining. Mr. Anderson scraped a huge ulcer on a man's leg and it is healing well. A horse I was keeping for a Walamo until it was about to return under its own power disappeared last night. That, in brief, is the war situation as it affects Gofa and us. Of course we realize that the future may bring forth new developments but we cannot worry about hypothetical cases yet.
We are sorry about all the ill founded stories that get into [] the newspapers about us. There were about thirty five reporters in Addis for a long time, marking time until the war should start and of course they had to make a showing. Some of the yarns were 100% imaginary. Not one S.I.M. worker has left because of the war. The Davies have gone on account of Don's health. Some of the Seventh Day Adventist workers have left. I'm sure I can't account for the story of Haile Sclassic asking missionaries to leave. That is just the opposite of the truth. They are among his staunchest supporters and our own field director, Dr. Lambie, has finally been asked to act as general secretary of the Red Cross in this area, after a Greek doctor spent a lot of money fixing up an office for himself. Two weeks of good weather, following the rains, made it apparent to us that we need to do the fixing to buildings here before another dry season has gone. We have long dreamed of a water ditch, which is almost indispensable for making mud bricks. Hauling water on a donkey is slow and expensive. I decided we might bring water around the mountain from a stream and Mr. Anderson agreed that it looked possible so we got a bunch of men and dug for a couple of days. It wasn't all easy, but the water has arrived now, and when this present rainy spell stops we will be in for making mud brick and irrigating our gardens. It means getting fresh vegetables all year instead of half a year.
Then, too, the roof of our house has to be almost remade, and I expect to begin tomorrow. It will take a lot of work and much figuring out, as the roof is big and steep and almost all the supports have to be changed. It is harder than putting on a new roof. However we hope to finish those things soon so that we can get at the language [] again and also go out on some preaching trips.
Enid and I went to town one Saturday afternoon to transact some business, and, like going into a department store at home, we bought something we hadn't even thought of when we went over. Mr. London, Greek trader, had a shot-gun formerly Mr. Ohman's. He got it from Mr. Ohman with 50 shells for $50 M.T. He said he'd sell it to me with the remaining 35 shells for $40 M.T. When he came down to $35, I said "ishi" and took it home. It isn't a first class gun, but so far has served quite well. The first shot I took with it brought down a fat quail or grouse or partridge or whatever you want to call it (some people here call them spurfowl). Later, Merle and I left at 4:30 in the morning for the valley to shoot guineas, but saw none. Instead, I shot two guerizas (black and white monkeys) and Merle shot one with a gun (rifle) he was trying out.
One Friday night, Enid and I were visiting on the hill when some of the boys came around to tell us that the Shankela girl we picked up had thrown herself into the fire and was burned. We went over and by that time she had quieted down. When she came to us, she had burns from just such an experience. It seems that when this evil spirit, or particular form of insanity or whatever it is gets hold of her, she picks her foot up in her hands and deliberately sets it in the fire. No warning or shouting does any good. Her eyes become large and hollow-looking, and she seems to be really insane, it doesn't last long, but fire burns quickly. Her old burns are all healed up and this time one finger only was affected. Now she walks quite well. The whole thing reminds us of the one who came to Jesus on behalf of his child saying that "often the spirit casteth him [] into the fire and into the water." This sort of thing is not uncommon in the country. Just before we came here a little slave girl died from burns received when she threw herself into the fire. I knew her before then, and her legs were distorted from previous burns.
Sunday services are getting bigger all the time. Last Sunday there was a drop because of a weeping nearby to which many of the people went. Also, many have gone to the valley to cut their corn and weed their Teff. Week ago yesterday we had the best attendance since coming here…there were 31. That afternoon we went out half and hour from here and spoke in three huts to total of about 25 people.
We've just read Dan Crawford's book "Thinking Black" and received much good from it. He knew his Africa. Noticeable were the differences between the real negro where he was and the Ethiopian. Alike in many ways and yet those people are easily superior to the negroes. Some places he preached for 15 years before he saw fruit…here, more people are hearing all the time and we have encouragements frequently, but we are dealing with Ethiopians who are like all other Africans in this respect, - that they readily say "yes" with their lips and as readily close their hearts to the truth. Many taboos keep these people tied hand and foot. One old man seems on the point of making a confession but he is afraid to break the fasts lest the priests beat him (which they won't do of course). Then, too, he has a longing to be buried in the Coptic churchyard and knows fastbreaking will deprive him of such a privilege. He is old and weak and is afraid of confession for it means his neighbors will no longer help him. []
There are at least two young fellows here on the point of making a confession but they know that to do so means immediate expulsion from their homes and mistreatment at the hands of relatives and neighbors. So they are bound hand and foot. We try to take their eyes off these things lest they think that by breaking the fast they will be saved. We make it plain that it is not what they do or don't do along these lines that saves them but faith in Christ alone that brings salvation. It is certain that after they have believed, they well have their eyes open to many things. It is surprising how the spirit has taught the believers here along many lines. We have not said you must do this and that or you must not do this or that. Yet the Holy Spirit has taught them the evils of drink and smoking and many other things and they have given these things up themselves. Best of all is their desire to get out all the time with the message. In this respect they far outshine Americans.
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
November 15, 1935
There were several persons with sore legs, arms and backs around here this week as we completed the first leg in repairing the heavy thatch roof of our house. The old rafters and braces in the roof were nothing but sawdust, or rather borer dust, and it took only about three strokes of the saw to get through most of them, so soft were they. Of course they didn't support the roof much and hence it sagged. The more it sagged the more the house leaked. So we got some heavy timbers together…timbers that the borers don't eat. Last week we fixed the veranda. We put new, heavy poles all [] around and straightened the roof as we went. That wasn't so bad.
This week we began on the roof proper. We had to remove some thatch on each of the four hips (the house is square) in order to pull up the timbers. Two boys went up on the roof and each let down a rope. I tied them to opposite ends of the rafter, and then they hauled away. Thus we did with all four sides, tying the poles up to the roof. The next and hardest job was to put up the braces from the corners of the roof to the center pole.
Some of the braces had forks in the top so that they slipped over the new rafters nicely. However, getting the roof pushed out with long heavy poles and squeezing the braces in wasn't exactly easy. It is easier to put on a new roof than to work under an old one. However, Tuesday and Wednesday we pushed with poles and pulled with our backs and by Wednesday evening the job was done and were we glad!!! Two jobs yet remain…to rethatch the whole roof and to put in another set of braces near the top when the thatch is off. After that, if we can get some straight timbers, we hope to put in ceilings, if we can condition the bamboo so that the borers won't eat it.
This being Southern Ethiopia, the rains haven't ended yet. North of Addis of course, they stop promptly with the end of September. Here it is likely to rain any time. While some of the thatch was off the roof during the repairs, we had some heavy showers and the house leaked. However nobody was injured and we kept everything dry. Now the holes are plugged up and it won't rain too hard or leak too much now. We're going to try to get a real good thatching job done, but the grass won't be ready to cut for another month.
In the meantime, we are glad to get these repair jobs done [] because they are in the way and we'd rather be out preaching or studying the language or doing a mite of translation for use in services. I just received a copy of the Westminster catechisms and hope to use it as a basic study for the believers so that they will have definite ideas about the doctrines of the Bible.
Next week we plan to spend at Goibo where we will have daily meetings, visitations in homes, and perhaps from there will be able to take a one day trip to some other country for a service. We plan to get the children together for services daily, if they will come. Mr. Ohman went there at least once and there are four or five men there who seem to be interested and claim to be believers. We want to deal with them and try to get them started on some of the Bible truths with the hope that they will come here once in a while for meetings. Goibo is about 2 ½ hours from here on this same range of mountains.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas we may be able to get in another trip. We plan to take a two week trip to Maloe, one of these times. It is a large Gofa-speaking area and as far as we know has never been touched with the Gospel. Our plan would be to travel one day from here, and stay for three days and then go on another day, and stay for three days and so on. Thus, we would give the people in each place a reasonable hearing and reach many places at the same time. Then, too, it will give us some idea of the country so that in the future we may be able to plan a better itinerary.
I just told Enid that I would conclude my part of the letter by telling about the "war situation" and then we laughed and laughed because we know practically nothing about it. Here is what
[[NOTE: 112-113 MISSING]]
Two months ago the present governor of Gofa, Dejazmatch Abeba was called to Addis Ababa together with all his solders. The latter gathered their food together and loaded it upon their serfs for carriage to the war. Dejazmatch Abeba knew well that, if he did not interfere, many of these serfs would be sold into slavery. As the hordes of soldiers and their serfs went along the road, many were the predictions of bystanders that these serfs would soon be slaves. A week passed. Serfs began coming along the roads to their homes and then the word came. Dejazmatch Abeba had forbidden his soldiers to allow their serfs to cross the Mazi river into another governor's territory. They must release them, and send them home. All this took place without a shot being fired. How many offenders would have to be killed before Italy could accomplish the same reform?
I am not trying to say that Ethiopia is all right and needs no further progress. She needs much of everything. The point is that within the last few years she has made tremendous progress, and all this movement is gaining momentum rapidly. Pagan Ethiopia is not so bad off that she needs the help of pagan Italy. Cooperation and help will do much for Ethiopia; Italy can not help by conquest.
But what about Jimma and the big slave traffic there? At the time of the Amharic conquest of Ethiopia, the Jimma Gallas were strong and wild. The Amharas thought it wise to make a settlement in the form of an annual levy of money or goods, thus obviating the need of sending in "neftenias" or soldiers to live among and police the people. They did not consider this a permanent arrangement [] but planned to put the province to tribute as son as the old "Abajifar" or king should die. Thus conditions in Jimma remained much the same until very recently. The slave traffic went on as usual, except that raiding into the surrounding provinces, especially Malee and Shankala was stopped. Now the Amharas have begun a systematic control of Jimma. They are building a new provincial capital city and have called it "Haile Selassie". Present attempts to bring order out of chaos there have been interrupted by the Italian invasion. In fact all road building and other kinds of improving has been halted because of the present emergency. For present chaotic conditions then, Italy will have to take the blame.
The impression has been created at home that Ethiopia is standing still in medieval times without making any attempts to correct the evils existing in the country. The truth is that in the last 50 years Ethiopia has made more progress toward the ending of slavery and serfdom, more progress toward establishing educational systems and more progress in the building of communications systems than was made in the previous 5,000 years. And the leader and symbol of all this progress is His Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie.
While Mal was creating a mess and having the whole house in an uproar fixing the roof this last week, I had the best opportunity yet to clear out and get a lot of visiting done. One morning I went on my mule down to Gutcha Gulla, a village below here, to make myself friendly, and see if I couldn't get the folks interested in coming up for meetings. The place has about a dozen homes, and the distance about a half hour walk. I rode because of the altitude). [] I was in four homes, had coffee made from the leaves of the plant in absence of the bean, and parched corn. The coffee leaf coffee is terribly bitter and worse than medicine, but I got a whole cup down with the look as though I enjoyed it. As usual in four homes, I found three sick babies - one looking a bit like pneumonia, and all quite sick. I tried to give advice and told all the fathers to come up for medicine, and although they promised, not one has yet shown up. These people are so superstitions, they just won't carry out any advice you give them. The Amharas have a bit more sense about it, but the Gofas always put their belief in "native" medicine. In each little village there is a tree called "Abdarric" which the natives worship. If a child is sick, the father will gather his neighbors together, accompany them to the tree an there, holding a handful of coffee in one hand, and the coffee pot over his head, he swears he will sacrifice a goat, or sheep, or cow (depending on the sickness and his wealth) if the tree will only cure his child. He then makes and drinks his coffee after pouring out a small oblation, rubs a little butter on the tree, and returns home to see how the medicine works. If the child gets well, he takes his promised animal, kills it in a ceremony there, lets the blood run all over the ground at the foot of the tree, and leaves the meat - (but in a few minutes a neighbor reclaims the meat and they all eat it)!
I get promises from about everybody in the village to come for meeting - all the women were coming on Thursday, the children on Sunday, etc. Thursday has passed, and not a woman from there showed up, but that is what I expected. They may start coming [] after I go down a couple of more times. Several of the young man from there come quite regularly the last two or three Sundays, and I've seen about four of the kids at scattered times in S.S..
Women's meetings have, however, been encouraging - 18 last week, 14 this. They seem to like to come and we're growing to like them more and more. Wish you could see the difference in the little Shankela girl we took in. she can walk easily now, without a cane, and has put on considerable weight and her whole face has brightened up. We gave her some native clothes the other day and she was all grins and happiness when she got them on. Shasheta keeps reminding her that these are all done in the name of God's Son and we're praying much for her turning from darkness to light.
Gofa, Nov. 15, 1935
The Italians haven't got us yet and I don't 'spect they ever will. Haven't seen or heard hide nor hair of them, and these people wouldn't know there was fighting anywhere if we didn't tell them. Your letter of Oct. 2nd and 3rd arrived yesterday and the questions kind of fascinated me, so I'm answering it ahead of some ones I received earlier.
We just got a new pet today - a cute little dik-dik - about two weeks old, I judge. He's all legs and big soft eyes, and I've had quite a time trying to get some milk down him with a medicine dropper. He doesn't quite get the idea. A boy caught him last evening, and brought him to us - sold for a tamoon (2?).
Now for answering questions: --- Our front porch, as is, is dusty and messy - so we have it dunged or "polished". The outside [] boy mixes cow dung with water to make a nice paste, and after wetting down the surface, applies a thin layer of this dung - with his hands. When dry, it is odorless, hard, and easy to keep swept. It will last about two months. The natives use such "polish" in their houses all the time. All the walls of our house are covered over in the same way, with paint on top. Our "paint" however is a bit different from yours. Near here is some soft white limestone. We have it crushed fine, fill half of a five gallon can with it, fill to the top with water, add a handful of native starch prepared from the plantain tree, boil it up and there is enough paint for one good sized room. The starch makes it stick, and it doesn't rub off or crack. We have all the inside of our house so done, as well as the outside. Because of the dirt which sifts down from the thatch roof, however, we will have to paint about once a year.
The Andersons are stationed about 150 yards from us. We're both on this station as the regular workers. Mr. Anderson has charge of the medical work. We meet every day for prayers, have play night every Tuesday evening, (Pitt, carems, "Sorry", double checkers, auction dominoes, etc.) and are neighbors in general as well as co-workers.
I don't know of any lightning casualties. The natives speak about the lighting striking trees, but I haven't found anybody who knows of somebody being killed - but then, I've only asked three kids. The houses here are low and inconspicuous with no metal to attract lightning - that may have something to do with it.
The rug you sent surely is getting used. I have it in the [] bedroom - the only one there - right in front of my dresser and next to the bed. Had it washed last week and then set the boy to work sewing up a few of the places where it had started to rip a bit. Samati shakes it daily when he sweeps out the bedroom and isn't too careful as to how he does it.
There are moths here, and I've noticed what looks like signs of them in some blankets we're not using now. However, they're not the biggest pests. Here, you have to worry more about the things that eat the house over your head and under your feet. As you can see in the enclosed general letter, Mal spent the last week replacing roof supporting timbers because of the terrific way the wood borers had eaten and weakened the first ones. They bore holes and eat right up through the center of wood inside houses - usually roofs. While boring they push out behind them a soft floury wood pulp that sifts down over everything. Underneath - in any wood, or bamboo, touching the ground the white ants are busy. One has to think of them all the time - they even eat the woven palm mats off the floor.
You asked about Saka's persecution. Most of it was in the form of bringing false cases against him when he went to the weekly market, taking him before a judge, getting false witnesses and settling for money - in other words, falsely fleecing him. Then again, neighbors refused to help him in his planting and harvesting because he will not serve them beer. He is of the poorer class - formerly was a slave, and therefore is not listened to if charges are brought against him.
Dik-dik are wild - a small antelope that can jump like [] the dickens.
No running here because of altitude. We all got puffed out walking on the level, let alone up hill. I walk down, often.
Lion are not plentiful - you see or hear of an odd one or two. Leopards are pretty plentiful - bother the sheep and goats.
The market is about a twenty minute mule ride. I've never been when the big market was going on here. The article you probably read in the newspaper clipping was all mixed up with the time I was in Duromie and went to the market to become the main circus. Here, each Tuesday, the people come streaming in from all directions to barter and trade.
About customs - I'll try to remember to tell a bit each time and I'll probably learn more all the time. Just recently we heard about a Gofa custom formerly much practiced, now occasionally, i.e. that of burying a newborn child alive, if the family was getting too big or the child illegitimate. I have a girl in the school with a mean streak in her who seems to be always in fights and kicking up a rumpus. I somehow felt she was misunderstood and now I can understand. Her mother buried her as soon as she was born because her father was not known. Luckily, a stranger came to the house soon afterward, inquired of the Mother who said she just had a sick stomach, but became curious when she saw the earth moving out in the plantain patch. She dug the child out, washed it, and that is the tale of Dubalitch. The girl knows her mother didn't want her then and doesn't want her now, therefore the attitude. A funny thing is that the mother is one of the "biggest" women on the hill today, because her oldest son is the [] son of a formerly powerful man in this district. She was his concubine and so is honored to a certain extent.
Better not put too much faith in some of the newspaper reports, some are pretty far fetched, I'm afraid.
My cookies are several kinds - made a bunch of bachelor buttons today. Am going to make a bunch of oatmeal ones tomorrow to go with us next week out to Goibe, itinerating.
I'm afraid I can't tell you much about the organic difference between nodular and other leprosy. I only know their looks. Nodular comes out in big rough bumps on the face, usually, but most anywhere on the body. These may be from the size of the end of a pencil to that of a quarter. No discoloration that I know of. The other and most common form appears in the turning of affected parts white - the pigment disappears, the sense of feeling is gone and eventually hands and toes get eaten away. They go first, usually, and then it eats further and further into the body. Most lepers in this part of the country don't do anything but beg and don't make anything to sell. Every little town has its leper and other maimed beggars. In Addis, where our mission has its Leprosarium (about 90 there), the lepers are given injections twice a week I believe, are kept clean, given clean clothing and soap to keep it that way and then put to work weaving, etc. Chances of infection are very slight in that way, and many cases have been really cured of all outward signs. Many have been saved and now two of the former inmates, having been discharged as free from the disease are out on full time preaching to their own people on their own hook, with no support form any missionary. []
Don't know what an oland or kengeni is, but Mal is getting up at four o'clock tomorrow to go hunting water buck with Mr. Anderson. They're larger than cows, feed along the lowland rivers and there is a herd reported not more than an hour's ride from here. Hope they get one - the meat will be a good change. Giraffe are reported south of here where we want to go itinerating some time, but I haven't seen any yet.
I must close this because it is getting late. Sorry I didn't do anything but answer questions, but keep on asking them. It makes writing easier and more interesting.
Lots of love, --
Enie and Mal.
26 Nov 1935 (on trip to Goibo, local customs)
Gofa, Nov. 26 1935
-- Memories of Goibe --
We're just back from a week in camp at Goibe, a small community about two hours ride from here, -- a week of telling the Gospel story four or five times daily, of extensive visiting, of seeking to give advice to the sick and of giving out quinine for malaria, chlorodine for diarrhea, and getting to know something of the power of Satan as manifested in the customs of this people living on the border of the Gofa and Shankella tribes. They are really more Shankella than Gofa though they know both languages and their customs are quite different from those of the people among whom we are living.
About two years ago, two brothers from Goibe came here to work for the Ohmans, and while here heard the Gospel story and [] seemed to believe it. They have come back off and on for services, have put aside the heathen customs of their tribe and have gone about to their neighbors preaching forgiveness for sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, and seeking to lead them from darkness into light. As a result there are now four or five believers there with various degrees of knowledge of God's love for them, but seeking after the Truth. We sought to strengthen them and add others to their number. Here are some of the customs they are bound by.
Birth: When a child is about to be born, a small house is built in the plantain patch of thatch about long enough for a person to lie down in, and high enough to sit up in. To that house the mother goes, bears her child without a bit help from anyone and stays for a month with her husband pushing in food to her. And you can imagine how many mothers and children die there, having no care. And all this because they believe all the cattle and belongings of the household are made "unclean" if the child is born in the house where they are, and therefore the neighbors will not herd the polluted cattle, etc. Cows are of more value than a woman or her child.
Death: Upon the death of a person, the body is not buried for two weeks or more! It is left in the house where the other members of the family sleep while neighbors came to weep and the family refuse to wash themselves. Formerly the body was left a month in the house or even a year or two years in a specially built little house in the yard. The Amharas have made a decree that all must be buried on the day of the death, but these people keep the [] deaths secret and go about their old customs. They have their big weeping the day of the burial. At the time of the burial a cow is killed, its hide cut in strips and together with a big cloth, wound around the body. As they say, often there are only the bones to bury. All the personal belonging of the person are buried with him (i.e. his pipe, axe, clothes, etc.) in a grave about 10 to 15 feet deep with a retiring shelf where a rough bed is built. This, so that the dirt won't fall on the body. Believers have been told that their neighbors won't dig their graves, will refuse to allow them to have a retiring shelf. They say "We will bury each other on the day of the death." At the weeping accompanying the burial, weepers cut their stomachs with knives, literally eat dirt.
Weddings: The newly married couple spends the first night or two sleeping in the plantain patch accomplishing their customs, but what those customs are they didn't choose to tell us. They have them, but they aren't to be known to strangers.
Difference of Status: The men and men children are always honored. Women are made to work and bear children and are not respected. If Mal and I went visiting together, Mal was always given a low stool to sit on, my place was on a plantain leaf near the door. Before I realized their customs about this, I started to sit down on a stool in one house. The woman grabbed it away, saying it was taboo, and then when I made for another piece of wood, she snatched that away, too. She evidently expected me to sit down on the dunged floor, but finally found a dirty plantain leaf for me. If I went visiting by myself it was usually different - the stool being preferred, because I was white and my "master" wasn't with me. []
Apparel: Clothes in that region are scarce. Young girls wear a girdle of beads; young boys a kid or lamb skin thrown over their shoulders. Older girls wear a grass skirt on the top of the bead girdle, along with many bead, carved wood and nut necklaces as well as heavy metal bracelets. Some have bead anklets for inches wide. Older men wear loin clothes when going places, but are often seen in the vicinities of their homes without a bit of covering of any kind. Some married women have clothes; some continue to wear the grass skirts.
Polygamy: Formerly a man of any standing had several or more wives, up to about ten, each established in a separate home several minutes walk from each other. Now since they have been subdued by the Amharas and become their serfs, a rich man can only afford two or three wives at the most, because for each wife the man has to carry that much more rent to his master. The greater majority now have but one wife. Each Shankella household now has its Amharic master to whom they carry rent in the form of firewood, grain, etc. Many murmur because of the way the Amharas "eat" them, but most agree the peace and freedom from tribal wars that the Amharas have brought is much better than the former way of things.
Religious Customs: In case of trouble or sickness, kill a sheep or goat to "read" the intestines to see if the person will live. Most times they say to kill another animal. Also read stones; old men gather together and set up bamboo tree in certain place if they want rain to stop. Leave a few beads there, call it "God's tree". Also have "God's stream" in village from which they refuse to draw water; draw, rather, from a dirty spring. Have many [] taboos.
As for believing, -- many say that our God's word is good for their stomachs and they will believe "if the community does". In other words, if all the old men get together and consider the thing good, they will believe as a group. But try to get them to do that. The old men are too bound up in what they have done all their lives to change now. Those few who have believed have been told that will happen to them if they continue to stop all the above customs, but say the certainty of eternal life and the joy they have in the knowledge of sins forgiven is worth it. Some want to believe but are afraid of neighbors, others are getting together, planning to plow together, build their houses together, herd their cows together, since their neighbors refuse to help them in this because of their belief. Truly 2 Cor. 5:17 is very evident in the lives of believers in this country. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all thing are become new." But it is a new life of joy, free from the fears of taboos, from the uncertainty of what comes after death.
Briefs: One boy can't believe because "my older brother hasn't believed". Houses are very warm and dark. Need warmth because of few clothes. Kiddies sleep naked on the floor. Between harvests of grain, people eat fibrous starch obtained from root of plantain and root of elephant ear plant. Sickness of every kind abundant - their medicine: kill a sheep or goat as a sacrifice to Satan. Mortality rate fearfully high. If mother has five living from ten borne, she is exceptionally fortunate.
29 Nov 1935 (war stories, local news)
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia []
Nov. 29 1935
I should suppose that any letter from Ethiopia in the month of November 1935 should be packed with all kinds of war news. It was war that brought Ethiopia to the attention of the world. So I will begin by telling of our part in the warfare. About three years ago when Mr. and Mrs. Ohman were living here they did some preaching in Goibe, about two hours from here on the Gofa-Shankella border.
They entered into the warfare mightily, and succeeded in capturing two men from the enemy, Satan. The latter, however was still active in trying to get his men back again, and succeeded in making them weak as captives of the Lord. Last week, we went to Goibe for six days. The war was still going on. Satan, however was losing badly. These two captives were so happy to be on the new side that they were actually trying to get more people to desert and serve their new master.
Formerly they had enjoyed the service of Satan, their general, but when they became subjects of Jesus Christ they realized how shallow their former joy had been. Now there are some five or six out there who have been captured and made bondslaves (willingly) of Jesus Christ. That is a brief picture of our part in the war.
We went to Goibe on Monday and had services the first two days. After that, the people didn't come to us so much, so we went to them. We visited in the huts all day every day, found hard and soft hearts and many excuses. We heard that they had heard the Gospel from these two first believers….that was encouraging. For when these people get to talking the Gospel among themselves [] something is bound to happen. The Shankalas are extremely community conscious. They do nothing on their own. Thus, their reaction to the Gospel: "if the community decides to become Christian we will become Christians. If the community decides to go to hell we will all go together. We would be happier together in hell than alone in Heaven."
Again, the big brother is first in everything. Hence when we asked a young man about his soul he said, "How can I become a Christian before my big brother does? If he believes, I will be free to believe; until he believes, I can do nothing about it." But that is not as discouraging as it sounds, for when the Spirit of God works in a man's heart, all these requirements are dropped and he believes, his neighbors and his elder brother notwithstanding. And in the meantime, the Lord is speaking to individuals and they are believing….that is the thing that counts.
Friday morning, some men gathered at the tent. Four of them testified to faith in Christ. They said there are others who are still a bit timid about making a public confession. As soon as these people believe they are faced with problems right and left. Their children are never born in the house, and in fact spend the first month of their existence out in a tiny hut in the plantain patch. If mother and child enter the house in less than a month, cattle and everything in the house is "unclean". Hence these cows and sheep cannot be herded with the rest of the animals in the community….all will become unclean.
The same is true of marriage. The young couple spends the first few nights in a tiny hut in the plantain patch, lest their presence in the house make it unclean. The believer says [] that his wife and child have souls. His cattle have no souls. Christ died for his wife and child. He did not die for his cattle. Then why should he keep his cattle in the house, and send his wife out to the plantain patch to bear her child alone, without even the help of her unskilled husband or a midwife? The Shankalas and Gofas bear their children absolutely unaided…no wonder there are so many deaths.
The Shankalas live by "taboos". A certain stream is "God's stream" and the water there from should not be drunk. A certain bamboo is placed in the ground to halt the rain, beads are buried by it. The longer the dead body of a person remains unburied the better. It used to be two years….then they would bury the bones. It still is two weeks or more. And the corpse is in the house with the living dead. If it is unburied for, say, a year, the corpse is given a private house. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that the smell is given a private house. When the burial time finally comes, the corpse is laid in a grave some ten feet deep. A bed is placed on a shelf in a grave; on this the corpse is laid together with all his belongings. He needs his pipe in case he should want to smoke; he needs his clothes; he needs his hoe in case he should continue his farming.
The mourners cut their bodies with spears…we saw plenty of old scars to prove that, from five to a hundred slits on a person. The eat dirt, actually….they do all kinds of crazy things. But isn't all of Satan's work crazy whether it be in Africa or in pagan America?
Then there is another kind of war going on in this land….Italy and Ethiopia fighting it out. As we have so often said before, [] we are far away from the fighting. We have heard no shots, seen no airplanes. Were we nearer to the center of things, we might get to help in Red Cross work, but Gofa is eight days from the nearest station and a good three weeks trek from Addis. Hence, we cannot very well leave the station as it is too far removed for periodical inspection by missionaries.
From other stations of our mission many have gone to do Red Cross work. The field director of our mission, Dr. Lambie, is head of all the Red Cross work in Ethiopia. Those in Addis are making tents for the use of those going to the front, and are sewing bandages and making other material for medical use. Also, they are bottling quantities of lime juice to be sent to the Ethiopian soldiers to prevent scurvy. Dr. Hooper, director of the Leprosarium, has gone to aid Ras Desita, the king's son-in-law, along the Italian Somali border. Dr. Hooper is some 64 years old. The mission has not abandoned its prime motive….preaching the Gospel, but rather has entered into this new work, feeling it to be a real opportunity of service for Christ in preaching the Gospel.
We do not know if and when our mail will be cut off, but we hope home folks will continue writing. If the Djibuti-Addis Ababa railroad is bombed, we will probably get mail routed through Khartoum and Gambela and through western Ethiopia. Already Italian airplanes have inspected the big bridge of the railroad over the Hawash river and if they bomb it that will be the end of the railroad for the duration of the war. Our needs have been wonderfully supplied all the time, and we are well stocked with provisions, so that we could stay here a long time without further supplies. []
We are praying that we will not only be kept during these troublous days, but that we will be abundantly useful to our Lord and to this country, and to the souls of men. Our job for the present is not "playing safe" but preaching the Gospel.
[01 Dec 1935 newsart and pics from Waterbury Sunday Republican]
13 Dec 1935 (Mal, war and local stuff)
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
December 13, 1935
When our post came in two weeks ago, it contained no news and no magazines. Hence we felt rather let down, since there is so much going on about which we were anxious to hear. However, yesterday news and magazines came through and once more we feel that perhaps Gofa hasn't been detached from the rest of the world after all. Actually, we know very little about the progress of the war. A rumor has come through that our much loved governor, Dejazmatch Abeba has been killed. We hope it is not true. Any other word we may have, you read in the papers two months ago, so what can we say?
Mothers, fathers, wives and children are weeping all the time, for they fear that their loved ones will not return. Every night and every morning the Coptic Christians in the community gather up on the hill for "prayer". They line up side by side facing east and then begin chanting "O! Lord, O! Christ, O! Mary" and so on. It is just ritual, and actually they think little of what they are singing. They think that perhaps God will help them and so are doing it….they don't want to miss anything if there is any hope in it. If they think it will help, they will have some old Gofa (pagan) kill a sheep and look at the entrails to see what they may say. They offer sacrifices to a big tree near here. [] Some people seem to think it commendable that these people pray, but what good does it do when their thoughts are so far from God?
As soon as they leave off praying they go to slandering, swearing, cursing and if it is convenient, they get drunk. They are willing to pray as long as they do not have to give themselves wholly to God. But when we present Christ's claims to them, they are unconcerned. They go through many so-called Christian forms, but actually they are more devilish and heathen than the pagan Gofas around them.
Last Wednesday (a week ago) there were quite a few out for the meeting, and so I gave an opportunity for any who had confessed Christ with their hearts to make a public confession. Our houseboy, whose hardhearted father was present, stood up and gave a very strong testimony. He is a real believer. He faces the prospect which his brother faced formerly. The subject of baptism arose, the boy wanted to go through with it. However his father informed him that to do so meant expulsion from his home. He listened to his father's threatenings, and now has little interest in the things of God. This younger brother, however, knows now what it all means, but he is coming out all the time for Christ and when the time for baptism comes he will be mistreated and sent from home, but we believe he will stand the test with God's help.
Not the least of our joys is that the Andersons are to have a new house, and we are to have a tin roof to replace the present thatch. Most any other time they would have brought all we could use, but we were glad they turned us down for we wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on thatch, only to have to tear it down again. [] The present thatch has lasted only three or four years. A tin roof will last around twenty years. It cost a lot to put it on, but is cheap in the long run. Thatch at the best leaks, and the danger of fire is so great that one never feels comfortable when a fire is going in the fireplace because of the danger of sparks igniting the roof. We have a screen on the chimney, but it gets sooted up so fast that the fire smokes most of the time. Our work for the next two months is pretty well cut out now. It is not exactly easy to build in this country, but I am thankful that I have been through one building campaign so that I can go ahead now without too many misgivings. Putting on a tin roof straight, laying mud bricks straight, and making a fireplace require something more than a bunch of niggers with strong backs and no brains.
Last time we wrote it was Thanksgiving. We had our little celebration on Saturday, as it was the only day on which we could get it in. We had a modest dinner, played a few games, and in the meantime carried on the 101 activities that must go on every day whether it is a holiday or not. That day, I made a pair of crutches for a girl on the hill. She has been lying down for so long due to illness that she can't walk. Her legs are stiff. We are trying to encourage her to crawl and move around so that her strength will return. If she gets to using the crutches it will help her to get to services. She is the only real woman believer here that we know of.
Old Bota is bewitched. He has been sick for three months now, and has sent his wife around to the old men to have the stones counted. The stones said "look at the entrails of a sheep". He had the entrails looked at, the stones counted and so on until it was decided that his houses, one cow, his wife, his daughter [] and his nephew with his chickens were all bewitched. The nephew had to take his children at night and sleep at a neighbors. The women and a neighbor each, had to bring a sheep to offer or for looking at the entrails. Now the houses have to be torn down and new ones built. Perhaps the "gomey" or bewitching will pass…..who knows? They go to a lot of trouble and expense over these superstitions, but hardly turn to the Lord who offers salvation free.
Dejaz Abeba's servant, Kenasmatch Ifarsa, had word from Addis that he was to take good care of the foreigners here. The king doesn't want anything to happen to us that might alienate our countries from him. So Ifarsa told us that if we go anywhere to preach we should let him know, so that he can get there quick in case of trouble. He wanted to send soldiers with us but we got him to withdraw that provision, as having a bunch of soldiers along wouldn't be very good for us.
Last Sunday, we went below Bulke to find that all the men were gathered in one place putting the roof on a new house. Their trick is to build the walls, and then pick up the roof off the old house and set it down on the new. There were seventy to eighty at the house building last Sunday. We watched them work for a while and when they were finished they all sat down and listened well as we told them the Gospel story. It was the best audience we have had.
The summer time seems to have arrived for sure, though it doesn't last long here (about three months). The many thorn trees around are in bloom and there are thousands of birds eating [] them. All day long there is a roar ascending from our little jungle and it is most noticeable when all the singing birds stop their singing at once. Perhaps a cat is stealing through the woods. The people say that the blossoms of the thorntree contain a strong nectar which makes the birds drunk…that's why they shout so all day long.
We had strawberry shortcake the other day…berries from our garden. We get a good mess about every three days. We've had some swell golden bantam corn from the valley and it's good!
10 Jan 1936 (Mal)
SUDAN INTERIOR MISSION
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
Jan. 10, 1936
We were flooded yesterday, when the mail came bringing us 23 letters, and we are looking forward to answering them in the next two weeks. It makes us happy to be remembered by so many friends for when there are just four of us here on the station, the letters we receive make up for the lack of fellowship with numbers of friends. So a letter deluge is one kind we don't object to and we will answer every one even if we have to write a news letter and mail copies to various ones.
The Gofa people have gone foreign and are talking about the weather. Normally they talk about the weather only when they are too hot or too wet. But this is supposed to be the dry season (and we have little of it here at the best) and yet we are getting as much rain per week as we did during the rainy season. The grain has no chance to ripen and is going bad and the cotton is spoiling rapidly, in the valley. As for us, we are unable to make the mud [] brick for Anderson's house. Hence everything is being held up.
I've gotten most of the walls cut down and the timbers in for the coilings. It's a dirty job digging out the mud which now is dry and hard and hence dusty. Have to cut all the walls down, as a tin roof requires much lower walls than a thatch roof. Then, too, one can't live in a tin roofed house without solid ceilings, for the tin doesn't keep out the poison rays of the sun, nor does it keep the house cool. It keeps the rain out swell and last a long time.
One of our baptized boys, Saka, got married the other day, and we were so happy to see his uncompromising stand against all the customs normally associated with a wedding in this country. We invited him to have the feast here, as his father's house was too small and, as a matter of fact, his father and mother probably didn't want to have the feast there anyway. The day was Tuesday, market day in this vicinity. Saka's sister-in-law went to the market to meet the bride. Saka scarcely knew her, and had never talked to her. The bride had started out from her home in the morning with a girl-friend. Together they walked very slowly (the custom) to the market. There they met Saka's sister-in-law. The party thus increased in size, they began walking slowly toward this place.
About 5 P.M. we saw them walking slowly across our field below. They came past and went on up to Saka's sister-in-law's place. About dark they began to bring the Injera….native bread. They made and bought 60. Then they brought the Wat (hot pepper and meat sauce). We had had our boys make some Wat for us, without too much pepper. Then they brought the honey water. This is merely [] honey and water mixed together. In its fermented stage it is Tejj…very intoxicating! When fresh, it is sweet and good. This was, of course, the biggest sore point for unbelievers…no beer, no whoopee.
Most of the young bucks of the neighborhood were present, - they arrived first, and sat on the floor. As the guests arrived in groups, our boys, together with Saka's family were getting the food ready. They heaped the injera on low basket-like tables, which tables were about 18 inches in diameter, the bread just fitting. The Wat was heaped on the center. Ours was arranged in like manner. Our houseboy, Alamo, got a teakettle and basin and made the rounds holding the basin under the washee's hands and pouring the water over said hands…really no contamination…always running water. The water in the basin cast no reflections…except on the people who had washed.
About this time, the bride appeared preceded by her escort, all still walking very slowly (it's the custom). Incidentally, the groom was already in the room, as nervous, and trying not appear so, as Senator Serghum making his first speech. When all were seated….on the floor, of course, I whispered to Simberu about asking the blessing. Darie, a believer, but not very strong, said he would pray. It runs in his family to put on a good show in public. He prayed. We all began to eat. The women sat in a corner by themselves. They took turns rolling bits of injera with wat and pushing it into Saka's mouth. The women tried to do the same for the bride but she refused to eat…she took only a few mouthfuls. []
Our sympathies were all with the bride. She had never been in a foreign house before and, in fact, had seen very little of white faces. The pressure lamp was humming and giving out an unnatural light, there was no beer, no observance of the old customs she had known…we felt sorry for her, but couldn't console her without making her more frightened. In this country the groom is the honored one. All the presents are given to him, all the honor goes to him….the bride is just the bride.
When we were all through eating, I gave the two a short talk such as a minister at home gives to bride and groom. I charged them to do this and that and to comfort one another and so forth. Then I prayed. It was the first time such proceedings had taken place at a wedding in Gofa. It was the first time a wedding had taken place without the customs of old, and they are so numerous and so debauching. It was a joy to us and to the believers.
So far did these people go that the groom's father and mother refused to come to the wedding…they were disappointed that the all-revered customs were so dashed to pieces. There was lots of talk around about such doings. Nevertheless it was a testimony. For whatever these people think about beer drinking and drunkenness, they know that it is all wrong though they wouldn't admit it to us….very much.
According to custom, the two should have sat in their house for a month or two or three before coming out into public life. They did sit for a week. It was their honeymoon, though they have no such name for it. The groom's relations carried the water, cooked the food and did everything while the two newlyweds sat around eating, sleeping and greeting the callers. Last Wednesday, [] when they had been married a week and a day, they both came to the Wednesday evening service. Thursday the bride came to the women's meeting and the women were terribly shocked…(the customs! The customs! Why doesn't she keep the customs?) Here she had been married only a little over a week, and she was out in public already. (Terrible!) But these people will have to be shocked and rocked just because it is a custom.
Saka is a real believer. His wife has heard little of the Gospel but she is hearing it now. We are praying that she will quickly accept Christ so that the two of them together will be able to establish the first Christian home among natives in Gofa.
Enid has been going out on three days a week to Barza, Bulke (the Gofa section) and to Guchie Gulla trying especially to reach the women. After the Guchie Gulla women (they are near to us) had promised several times to come to services and had failed, Enid preached "hell fire" to them, and yesterday they came to the women's meeting ten strong. We realized that these people need to hear something of the wrath of God against sin. They take the love of God for granted. (17 men came on Sunday, and 9 kids to Sunday School.)
Since the last mail the old year has gone and 1936 has come, and is on its way already. We could not fail to express our public thanksgiving to God for all He has done for us in the past year, and during our entire stay here. The country is being torn by war, and yet here there is peace. With disease all around and every opportunity to be seriously ill all the time, we have been wonderfully preserved by the Lord. During the first year and a half of our stay here, funds were very low and at times it was hard going. Recently [] we have had good allowances and gifts from friends have more than made up for every lack. We do not complain about previous shortages. We did not suffer. The Lord provided what we needed. Some of our number had less to go on than we did. But in much or in want, the Lord has made plain the WHY of it and has blessed us continually.
We prayed for a house for the Anderson's and the money has come and we are waiting for the rain to stop so that we can build. Funds have been provided for a much needed tin roof for our own house and while they were not enough to buy the iron and have it sent here (transportation costs to distant a place are large) the Lord has provided us with funds for the balance so that we can get the tin here and put it on without any trouble.
Not least of all are we thankful for the three who were baptized this year, here in Gofa. They were born again when Mr. and Mrs. Ohman and Mr. Davison were here. It was a real start toward the morning of a group. Since then, we have been encouraged by the others who desire baptism, particularly in Goibe, south of here, among a different tribe of people who speak Gofa as a secondary language.
When we look over some of the things we wrote in the Gofa language when we first came here we realize that we have learned a lot, since. One makes progress in a foreign language almost imperceptibly, but in the course of a year there is a noticeable change. We thank God for blessing us in this matter of the language, for without knowledge of the language we would be useless here.
Four neighborhood girls have just arrived, and Enid is taking them through the alphabet (236 characters) as a refresher. [] before they practice reading and writing. As at home, some are bright and some are awfully dumb. They are doing their first reading now from Mark's Gospel and from some Scripture verses compiled as "God Hath Spoken". We have no other Scripture in the Gofa language. Some day we will have.
[c 23 Jan 1936 newsart on Italian "civilization" of Addis Ababa]
23 Jan 1936 (Mal; also Enid's personal letter)
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
Jan. 23, 1936
Enid says it is my turn to write the letter home, but I don't think it is. However, she being tired after a struggle which we call the women's meeting, I consented to do the writing. Don't think for a minute that it is easy to sit down with a bunch of natives, be they men or women, and talk to them about their soul's salvation in a strange language. It can wear one down faster than carrying brick up to the 22nd story. So I'm writing the letter.
We received our first encouraging word of war this mail because Mr. Mitchell wrote from Yerga Alam in Sidamo telling of Italy's bonors and defeats. Magazines from home, too, played more on the recent Ethiopian victories. Mr. Mitchell (one of our workers from New Zealand) talked to a Swedish Red Cross aviator and to others traveling in the plane, and gleaned the following information.
Some Swedes went south to do Red Cross work near the camp of Ras Desita.
One day planes circled overhead and they ran to the woods. Nothing happened. They thought that the Italians were respecting the Red Cross, so the next time the planes flew over, about 15 in twos and threes, they didn't flee. The result was one Swedish doctor killed and two injured, one seriously, another slightly. [] The one who died was a Christian. The Swedish consul went down to investigate the outrage.
At the same time, some 28 patients were killed, a Red Cross native worker was killed and others wounded. There were 400 bullets in one tent. On another occasion a Mr. Swenson was standing in the open when some Italian planes deliberately opened fire on him. Later word was received that Italian bombs killed an English Red Cross worker in Ogaden. Outrages like this will help to defeat Italy quickly, for the whole world will be turned against her. How can she commit such rank deviltry and then talk about "civilizing" Ethiopia? America, it seems, has declared complete sanctions against Italy. No doubt Italy's actions have hastened such measures.
Those near the fronts say that the Ethiopians have pushed the Italians back on all fronts. Territory formerly taken by the Italians is once more in Ethiopian hands. In the north the Amharas have retaken Makale (pronounced ma as in mama, ka the same way, and lay with the accent on the ka) and were about to retake Adowa. So with such good news, we rejoiced our hearts and the hearts of those around us, especially of those who have loved ones away at the fronts. Last week when we heard that additional troops were to be sent from here we concluded that Ethiopia was making a last desperate stand. Now, however, we believe she is planning a telling blow that will end the Italian invasion and perhaps lose Eritrea for the Italians. We have heard that all women and children have been ordered to leave Eritrea. Do the Italians already consider their cause lost? We realize that you may have all this news long before this reaches you but it is pretty straight stuff….not rumor. []
Here in peaceful Gofa, fretful natives get mumpish feelings in their throats from looking for the airplanes that are coming to drop bombs. Of course the planes never arrive. Birds flying in the distance become airplanes and natives scurry. A quarrel near the market place became the sound of plane engines and the market went crazy while people scattered in all directions looking for shelter. We try to tell them that if planes haven't bombed Addis and other large cities, why would they bomb harmless little Gofa?
Last week end the Coptic Christians were to celebrate their annual baptism time "Timkat". Ordinarily, they leave the town in large numbers and these who are able to do so camp together near the stream used for baptism. This year a proclamation was said to have been received from the king to the effect that many tents in one place might invite Italian bombs. Hence there was no big picnic as in other years. They had their little affairs in the churches.
After much ado trying to find a man who had the authority to sell bamboo from Dejaz Bienna's preserve, I located one, and after several more days of ado I began cutting them. We got 60 for a dollar (thalor). The bamboos are big, old and hard. They are almost straight above us on the mountain, which I figure is about 500 feet above us. After they have been cut and trimmed the men tie them in bundles of ten or so and give them a push down the mountain. Thus they travel most of the way under their own power. It is interesting to see them coming hoping it down the mountain, with the rattle of bamboo against bamboo. I have 120 here now, and tomorrow start weaving in the ceilings. []
Since we last wrote, we had the record attendance in church since we came here. Forty came. The place was crowded. A good bunch came to Sunday School, too. Last Sunday, 34 came to the service and 28 to S.S. In the afternoon Enid and I took Simberu, a baptized believer, and our houseboy Samati with us when we went out to preach. Merle (Mr. Anderson) had Saka with him. We ran across a bunch of about 35 men who had just been cutting thatch for a new house and were drinking beer (two from the same jar at the same time) when we arrived. We talked to them for a good while. Altogether between us that day we reached some 200 people including these who came to service. The people won't come to us, so we go to them. We aren't just looking to numbers, for that isn't important unless souls are saved. We are looking to the Lord to definitely save some souls…that is the important thing. We have encouragements along this line frequently. Last Sunday a witch doctor came to the service. Some of the people here had spoken to him of things Christian, and he came to hear. It is said that he has stopped his pipe smoking and has not called the people together in his customary way to practice their evil customs. This all, of course, in recent days. He did not deny his doings as most do, but said openly that he was a "kalicha" and that he read entrails of animals and divined with stones. He seemed really interested. We will see what the future brings forth.
January 23, 1936
To answer a few questions - yes, there are fat Ethiopians. We took a picture of one good specimen when he came around the [] other day to talk about what we knew about the war, drink our tea, etc. Maybe you'll see the snap someday. However, I don't think there are as many fat ones here as at home. There is an old Greek trader in town, a pretty disreputable fellow, but he has a big "pot-belly". The natives make more fun of him about it, saying they never saw such a thing. They're thin but wiry, these people.
After looking over all the general letters I can send you, I hardly know what to say more. I think they'll have to do for this time, anyway, as we've so very many letters to answer and I've a women's meeting this afternoon, due to be here in about an hour. Everybody likes to have a correspondent in Ethiopia now, it seems, and we're swamped with letters.
As far as we can gather, the Italians are getting a bit more than they bargained for and are getting driven back on all fronts. The king has recently called for a second assignment of troops and we can't figure just what for unless that he may want to try his hand at taking Eritrea and Somaliland. A group is supposed to leave here in two weeks again now.
Excuse this excuse of a letter. I'm sorry I don't enjoy writing, and today I'm tired of it. Will try to do better next time. We're all busy, well and happy and hope you all are the same.
Enie and Mal.
[12 Feb 1936 newsclip on arrest and brief incarceration of Harold Street]
17 Feb 1936 (Mal, local events)
Sudan Interior Mission
February 17, 1936
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
In order to have a dry season this year, we have to sit [] by the fire with our eyes shut and imagine that the birds are singing. When our eyes are open, we know it is anything but dry. Rain has continued, unabated, all through the period ordinarily dry and soon it will be time for the next rains to begin. This is not time for Tacoma fog but we're getting it. Even animals get lost in the fog.
It's the custom for the people in this country to band together in the matter of herding cows. All the animals are herded together and the neighbors take turns doing herding. One fellow in Shankala country was so herding when a calf was lost. According to custom he should pay. The calf had straggled away in the fog. The idea of the herder paying is to discourage men from killing and eating other people's cows. If he can prove that he didn't eat the lost animal - he might not have to pay. The fellow in question found the tail and some bones of the lost calf. He took them to a judge who pronounced "no payment need be made". The owner of the calf wasn't satisfied so he appealed to another judge. The question was once more open. The defendant however, went to the highest judge, produced the tail and presumably was once more freed. Produce the tail or pay up!
Imagine any city where all authority was broken down and the police going around on their own, arresting people for nothing with the premise of release for the payment of a dollar or two. That's what is going on in Gofa and perhaps elsewhere now. The war depleted the province of almost all the forces of strong government (thanks to the Italians) and now a skeleton crew is carrying on and their motto seems to be "get the cash". Their method is to go anywhere at all, catch somebody and start calling him a thief and [] saying that they are going to take him to a judge. Of course the person is innocent, but that isn't one of the rules of the game. The "police" figure that rather than be taken to a judge, the prisoner will settle for a small sum. It's just highway robbery and they get away with it because high and low are playing the game. In normal times when the Dejazmatch is here they can't get away with it. But it isn't the fault of the government. Every man capable of ruling wisely was called away to the war….blame the Italians.
The people around here had their scare last Saturday when some of these modern "police" came around with itching hands. They charged that all the people had come under our influence and were "catholics" and that every one should be carried to a judge (unless they paid out). This last loolygag was started by some of our "friends" and proved a swell boomerang for when the "police" came they grabbed a servant of the originator of the idea and got away with his axe. Now the "friend" who thought all the "catholics" should be "taken in" has a law suit on his hands to recover the axe and to get damages for his servant's wife whose moral was injured to the extent of as much money as she can get out of the offender. Talk about your breach of promise suits and other civil suits at home which are filed just for the money!!! These people have everybody skinned when it comes to lawsuits. Let a man say "may your father eat dirt" to his neighbor or to anybody else and before he knows it he is in a jam. He has to call a guarantor, and away they go to the judge. Then it's a question of who has the most witnesses…paid or otherwise. A verdict is awarded one way or the other, but the winner is always the judge… he gets all the case will stand: -- cash, grain, meat. []
This business of arresting people around here for being "catholics" began with the taking to court of the three baptized boys. They didn't have to go but they decided they would after they were called since they had done nothing worthy of a court case. Of course, if they had paid up right away the whole matter would have been dropped, but they weren't in the bribing business. They were taken before the highest man in the district and questioned. The offense was….breaking the Coptic customs. Two were guilty of this, the other had never been a Copt. The two who were "tried" would not deny their Lord. They said that when they were Copts they kept the customs but knew nothing of god or his Son, Jesus Christ. This cut the men to the quick and the judge ordered his servants to slap the boys on the face…not lightly either. Such brazen testimony was something new. Formerly, people brought before so noble a judge would fall down and kiss the dirt and say "yes" to anything the judge suggested. Said the judge "What kind of hard men are these?"
We went over and asked the old fellow (not knowing at the time that he was the judge in question), "Since when did a judge have a right to rule on what religion a person was going to embrace?" His answer (oh, so feeble) "They stole some wheat". Of course it was easy to get him into a corner then. I asked why, if they had stolen wheat, were they beaten for throwing overboard the Coptic customs? His answer was that he would release the boys. The fellow who initiated the whole proceedings was as cloudy as a rainy season sunrise…he was all day at the case and couldn't get a coin out of the boys. Indeed the boys were Hard. It's the work [] of the Gospel to make people hard against such unrighteousness…including the giving of bribes. As for us, we are mighty happy about the boys. They were tested in the fires of adversity and could have paid out, but they would not deny their Lord. They chose to suffer, rather than pay out.
Rumors in this country are often deadly. Most of the people live under the guiding star of fear. There is somebody on a little higher plane who is to be feared, always. Some "friends" of ours began rumoring in the dark that anybody who came here to services would be arrested and fined five dollars. Services became about one third of their former attendance. Some were altogether unattended. But that doesn't mean that the work has stopped. There are many ways to reach people and gathering them to services is perhaps one of the least successful. We are freer to preach to the few than to the many.
We do not know much of what is going on in this country or in the world at large, but we long for the day when, once more, this country will be at peace; we look forward to the return of our governor, Dejazmatch Abeba; he is a real ruler, we are praying that he will be spared to us. With the volume of prayer that has gone up for this land, we believe that she is in God's hands. What more could we ask.
Very sincerely yours,
Enid and Mal.
21 Feb 1936 (Enid, personal; local issues)
February 21, 1936.
Dearest Marian - []
It's queer how little thought one gives to finances out here. Maybe it is because we have so little buying to do. When you only order four times a year from the grocers, and have no light bills or rent or taxes to pay, you kind of forget about how much you have in your pocket.
If we're not having the worst weather! Here it is supposed to be warm and dry and yet day after day all we got is fog and rain. Just now it is so foggy out you can't see 100 feet. It's terrible for the building they're trying to do on Anderson's new house. Mal has spent the last week in getting in the foundation for the outside walls - stone, with mud instead of cement, but the rain hinders frightfully. Then, too, we're expecting five camels to arrive in a day or two with the corrugated iron for the new roof for our house, but how can we tear the old roof off, when it's raining every day? The present one leaks like a sieve, but it is better than none at all. Maybe we're not thankful, however, for the prospects of the new one!?
As you can see from the inclosed sheet, our meetings have been depleted recently through fear, but I guess it is passing over, for yesterday at women's meeting nine were out - getting back a bit toward normal. Or maybe they had heard that we were going to serve coffee! Mrs. Anderson unthinkingly got out a few cakes too, which only four could eat because the others being Coptics, they have recently started their two month fast before Easter - no meat, butter, eggs, milk.
We're having quite a time with the being labeled "catholics", which persists in spite of all our denials. It seems that the [] only missionaries these people had ever heard of before our work began were some Italian Catholics who had a work in a district about a week's journey from here quite a long while ago. It seems that in the first war with Italy they did a lot of propaganda work and were consequently driven out, but the name Catholic has held and all these who are not Coptic Christians, or Mohammedans, are all "catholics". We don't like the caption very much, but can't seem to get rid of it no how.
I forgot how much I've written you before about Shashetie, the put-aside slave girl that we found living in Simberu's house, covered with syphilitic sores, which disease had also crippled her, getting into the joints. We gave her a series of needles (injections) and the sores healed up, but even now the legs refuse to straighten. She is the sweetest kid, however, and recently Mal and I had a little native house built just above ours, where she and the other Shankella girl who came to us half dead from the road are now living together. The latter responded wonderfully to a little love, medicine and food, and whereas she couldn't walk then, she is now well, and doing the work of keeping the two of them alive, and full of smiles and appreciation. Both of the girls have living masters who chased them out when they became worthless because of sickness, but we're prepared to make a fight for their freedom, if either of them tries to get them back now that they are well. Now I daily go up to teach Shashetie, -- the other girl talks a language I do not know, and therefore is impossible to teach. Shashetie, however, is really bright and is getting on to reading fast. Then for women's meetings and Sunday service, the kids carry her down here to the house. I was quite touched last Sunday, when [] the S.S. kids, of their own volition asked for the chair and went up and got her. They are usually so selfish and unthinking, and especially look down on slaves. Little acts like that give one a lot of joy out here. Maybe because they're so few and far between, or maybe because they're coming to be more frequent occurrences, and you think that maybe there are some results to your work after all.
As for Shashetie's walking, we've just found out that the first injections were made from cheaper materials, which do not actually kill the syphilitic germ, ad that is probably why the knee joints remain stiff. However, we're preparing to give her one or two now, or a more expensive and powerful kind that may get the thing out of her system and make it possible for her to get around again. It surely makes us happy that she's a real believer, trusting in the Lord Jesus for salvation and through her prayers and witnessing to these few who come to visit her, having an influence on others who are above her physically, but below her spiritually. Most sick people in this country spend the whole day lamenting their misfortune - Shashetie surprises everybody by her joy.
Got rid of our first cook not too long ago for stealing, lying, sleeping nights with a girl of bad reputation on the hill and then lying about it, and finally, drunkenness. The new kid didn't know a blooming thing, but maybe he will someday. Likes to put all the vegetables - onions, potatoes and cauliflower in one pan together; thinks there is a man sure, inside the phonograph. He'd never been near a white man's house or possessions before. About 18 years old.
Guess this must be enough this time. With lots of love [] to you all,
Enie and Mal.
20 March 1936 (new roof, war; also Enid handwritten personal)
Sudan Interior Mission
Bulke, Gofa, Ethiopia
March 20, 1936
This past week and a half has been full of just one thing…putting on the new tin roof. We thought it would take two weeks but we finished in eight days. Of course that doesn't include the finishing touches, but the main roof is done and we can count on being dry now. It was a race with the rain and I'm not sure who won. We did get wet on two or three nights but on the whole it wasn't too bad. At any rate the work is done and whether it rained or not when the roof was off doesn't much matter now.
The first day we got the old roof off and spread tents over the house. In some laces we laid tin. It rained that night…almost everything got wet except the beds. Second day, we cut the walls down (started to) and put the hip rafters and purlins on one side. Each night it rained hard. It was rather discouraging to see the rain pouring in, but every day or two we get another side of tin on and had that much less to worry about. Finally, when we had three sides on and the other side pretty well covered so that it wouldn't leak, the rains stopped and it hasn't rained since. That is just the perversity of the weather in this country and everywhere.
We were at work some times at six A.M. and often worked through until dark. There was time off for meals and tea, only. We had the aching bones and sore muscles for some time. Cuts and [] scratches added to the general low morale. All these would have been small fry were it not for the continual contest with the rain, which frayed nerves pretty badly. Anyway, on Tuesday night we pulled the last piece of ridging iron over the peak of the roof, nailed her down and called it quits. We were mighty glad it was over. Only once before had I put a tin roof on (or helped to) so that this time I approached the task with some fear and trembling. Though there are no doubt some imperfections, on the whole it wasn't too bad a job for amateurs.
There hasn't been much opportunity for anything to happen here, with every moment going into the building of the house. The acting governor is trying to build a bombproof shelter but what he knows about it is not very evident. Monday the thing caved in and they had to dig some men out, none dead. The time hasn't yet arrived for bombproof shelters to be built here. We don't ever expect to have to build one. However we have the dope on how to take care of ourselves in case of an air raid, whether there be a shelter or no. If it becomes necessary to build a shelter, we can do it in a short time….there are oodles of people wanting work.
In the Sidame area it seems the Italians are bombing anything they take a notion to bomb. Foreigners are not immune. Because of the proximity of the fighting, Dr. Lambie went to Sidame and made arrangements to get all the women workers out of there. Unseasonable rains hold the party up so that the two-day trip took about two weeks. The Rokes were due for furlough anyway and have gone. Dr. Hooper, who was with the Red Cross in the Sidame area, arrived back in Addis with nerves all shot. The experiences were too much for a man of his age. After being bombed and machine-gunned, they finally lost [] all their goods, medical and personal, and had to make for Yerga Alam as fast as they could. At the same time, the Swedish Red Cross lost everything. The Darassa and Hematche stations are without workers now, and the three men in the Sidame area are at Yerga Alam. Dr. Roberts has been called to Red Cross work from his hospital in Soddu and is on his way to the southern front. The folks at the Duramie station in Kambatta have been required to go to the station at Hoseina. Why, I do not know. Often these acting governors get high hat and try to do crazy things to show their puny authority. We'll be glad when this messy war is over. It is sadly disrupting missionary work and is accomplishing nothing on the African side. It seems to be doing lots of damage to political careers in Europe.
Down Gamo way things are quiet now. The acting governor gets his instructions from Addis and decided to behave. Mr. Street is there alone, but perhaps by now has returned to Soddu for his family. All the children have been rather ill, and Dr. Roberts has told the Streets to take their children home, as Ethiopia is no place for them now. One child can cause enough trouble, but fore makes it impossible. The altitude and rain and cold at these two stations make them rather unattractive to some, others can't make a go of it for health reasons. We seem to thrive on it.
We read with interest the reports of newspapermen who have come to this country to cover the war. Of course most of them have gone home with little news of the war. They aren't slow to tell about the "terrible hardships" through which they have gone. If they have suffered so much in five minutes what about the missionaries who have been here for years? There are several reasons. Firstly, [] they came out, knowing nothing about the country. Hence they are poorly equipped to carry on. There are exceptions of course. In their zeal for news they take unwarranted risks and in the end find themselves without news and without good health.
In Africa one needs more than material gain as an incentive to live here. If the news hawks had succeeded in cornering front-page news every day they would have probably forgotten much of their discomfort. But, failing to reach their goal, they could see nothing but evil in the situation. Missionaries come out for something more than material gain. Their goal is spiritual. Hence physical discomforts and disappointments do not bulk large. They come as a matter of course. Disappointments in the spiritual realm there are, but the work goes on and there is fruit for the labor. The missionaries come out with some knowledge of the country and the situation into which they will go. Though they themselves may be uninformed, the boards under which they labor supply outfit lists, information and other necessary items and materials.
Fleas, lice, wild animals, heat, cold, rain, altitude, perverse natives and a thousand and one other things contribute to the general discomfort, but different people take them in different ways. The mercenary is not anxious to learn the language of the people nor does he try to understand the native mind. Hence difficulties are stonewalls. An understanding of the people automatically eliminates hundreds of difficulties. The missionary is not usually trying to make front-page news with his difficulties. His purpose is not publicity. Hence many of the trials he goes through are never heard of. One must realize that many of the things [] through which the reporter passes are everybody experiences to the missionary. The difference is that the latter goes through with God.
Gofa, March 20, 1936
Dear Marian, -
We get lots of enjoyment out of your Jan. 15th letter. Thanks for the carrot seed. It will get planted and eaten, no fear.
Now for questions: - No, we haven't seen a real African elephant yet, although our friend Dulumberass Goosa comes from elephant country, southwest of here. He has a big elephant gun with 20 huge bullets and used to make big money selling elephant tusks. He says anytime we can go he'll take us there and let us hunt elephant, giraffe and ostrich and most anything we want. We'd love to, and hope to some day, but don't feel we're quite justified in leaving everything now. When we were over to his house two weeks ago, he gave Mrs. Anderson and I each a cup made from the horn of a buffalo he'd shot in that same district.
Gofa hasn't been bombed yet and we still don't expect it, although rumor has it that the Italians are moving up on Sidame and they're building a bombproof shelter in Soddu. If Soddu really gets bombed, I guess we'll start building a shelter too. As you can see by Mal's letter, we have had plenty of rains, but now for 5 days it's been sunshiny and lovely. I hope it keeps up. It's all nasty mud and damp when it rains all the time.
We had a bit of a smile over your idea of our boundaries. All maps at home are so small that they don't show half the provinces. We're a terribly long way from Arussi and a good ways from Boran. []
Your boundaries sounded to us about the same as if one said Connecticut is bounded by Ohio, Main, and Virginia. It's a pity there aren't better maps. Maybe there will be in the future. I drew this rough map that is all off scale, probably not too accurate, but it gives some idea of the southern provinces and their relative positions. The places marked * are where our mission has its stations. Ours is the furthest south.
As for the differences in classes - the gabaras are practically the same as serfs, under the medieval rule. Each Amhara is allotted out his number of serfs - done as soon as the pagan tribe was conquered. These live on their own land, but carry so much "rent" in grain, wood, grass, and work so many days a week or month for their master. Sometimes cruel masters "eat" the gabaras - in other words, extract all they possible can from them in the way of work and goods. Others are lenient - maybe only giving his mule to the serf to care for and take to him when he wants it. The Amharas usually live in the towns, while the serfs are the people scattered throughout the country somewhat like the farmers at home. In this part of the country at least, they make up the biggest bulk of the people, but are kept without privileges and without power. The number of gabaras allotted to an Amhara depends upon his rank.
The slaves, however, are different. They are bought and sold, are kept constantly in the house of the Amhara, are usually from the Shankella country - which people are found in southern Gofa, Bako, Maje, and Kaffa provinces. They are really as a man's cattle, to be kept for work only and any children they may bear are the master's also. Practically every Amhara household has at [] least one - big men have very many. In the families near us are many slaves, as a rule not badly treated. Some, -- like Simberu, have a little house of their own in the plantain patch in back of their master's house. Simberu is really on the basis of a serf, giving half of all he raises to his master, paying him some money when the fellow wants it, but having his privileges that many don't have. Women slaves usually have the hardest lot, but like the negroes in the south, many don't seem to mind it too much - singing as they gather wood, grind grain, carry water, etc. some people get really attached to their slaves - buy them when they are babies, raise them in their own family, and always refer to them as "my child" or "my servant".
Another "class" (?) are the gerade-concubines. A man in fairly good standing may have twenty. Who knows how many a Dejazmatch or Ras may have? Those are things one can't very well ask about. You learn indirectly. They have few privileges - are oftimes treated as slaves. And many times, slaves are also concubines.
Lake Chamo is east of us, with Gamo province in between, as you can see on the map. The Omo River borders Gofa on its northwest border. In one place between here and Kaffa and again between here and Simma, and still another place between here and the western part of Salamo, it and its tributaries practically make a half-circle around Gofa province.
We bathe twice a week in comfortably warm water in a galvanized iron tub about 2 ½ by 1 ½ feet.
Rivers and streams here on the whole are clear. Only when it is raining or in flood do they look muddy because of the [] abundance of silt.
Haven't heard about looting on the road recently. We seem to have everything that is coming to us except one roll of films that disappeared seven months or so ago now. We don't hear drums here often, although witch doctors round about within an hour's ride or so have them to "play" and call people with. They are usually made of wood frame with hide stretched over them. Those the Dejazmatch had were different sizes. One large one, about 1 ½ feet high was hitched to a smaller one so that when they were played together a light beat on the smaller and a big beat on the larger brought out the rhythm and the music. When they travel they are loaded on mules and if they want to play on the road a fellow sits on the back end of the mule and drums while they go. I don't know about this relaying messages through drums that you read so much about in the news. These people love the drums to "play" and all witchdoctors have them for that purpose. The Dejazmatch had his going when he was here on the way to the war, but I think it was entertainment, although I can't say positively. Drums are beaten with the palm of the hand.
I think our birds sing like American birds. Their songs are different, but not so different as a whole that it makes much recognizable difference. I suppose a real bird student would think differently.
Ants and borers are active all the time - rain or no rain. We had a pile of boxes - openings out - to keep some of our extra supplies in, in our closet. Unthinkingly, the lowest box rested on the ground. One day, accidentally, we found that the ants had spoiled 2, --- envelopes which were in two boxes in the lowest [] division. They had eaten through the wood, the cardboard, and eaten the edge of all the envelopes. Already borers have started in fine style in the woven bamboo ceilings Mal put in some time ago. We've just got the prescription of a solution that is supposed to keep them away if painted on. We'll try it and see.
The Coptic church dates back to about the fifth century in Antioch when there arose a difference in opinion between believers in Christ and His nature. The coptics hold the monophistic view - that is, that Christ was not man and God at the same time. He had but one nature at a time. For a time the church flourished, but then fell into decline so that now its only remains are in Egypt and Ethiopia. The head of the Ethiopian church comes from Alexandria.
The church here, now - the official church of the country - is run through with all sorts of perversions. Paying the priests to pray for their souls and thus win their salvation; animism - worshiping trees, special stones, etc; Mariolatry [[??]], like the Catholic church; all sorts of feast and fast days; great exaltation of Michael, Gabriel, Mary - very little about Christ; Filthy corruption among the priests who exact terrible prices for "blessed" cloths to bury the dead in, raisins, for meaningless communion, etc. Their Bible includes much of the Apocrypha and has lots of wild tales such as St. George and the dragon, but the book is not widely known. Most of the priests spend all their time reading and copying the Psalms in the ancient and now unknown language, Geez [[??]]. No effort is made to make the Bible truths known to the people. Their "services" are chants and reciting of the unknown Psalms - all by the priest, much ceremonial while the congregation - mostly sitting outside the church - bow down to the ground and the women go around high-toned [] la-la-la-ing. It's a dead church as far as benefiting its members, but a mere proud and self-righteous church could not be found. A man must rob, commit adultery, "eat" his serfs, be in a drunken stupor most of the time, and still be a very good "Christian" if he only fasts every Wed. and Fri., goes to church on saints' day, and pays his "soul father" a good price when he dies. He'll be sure of going to heaven according to these people's beliefs.
The mud brick will be used for building Andersons' new house and our new kitchen and storeroom - if the rain ever lets up so one can make and build with them.
Drink and drunkenness are one of the greatest plagues of the country. The Amharas have two main drinks - one made from fermented honey called "toj" - the other from ground barley or corn, fermented - called "tala". I don't know the process. The Gofa people know the honey drink and make another from the grains by a different process than that used by the Amharas which is not quite so potent. The Gofas do all of their community works - building houses, harvesting grain, sewing, etc. with "dages" - which means there will be "parse", the grain drink for everybody as well as food. (Something like the house-raisings and corn-husking bees of elder times only on a lower level as far as refreshments go.) As one man says, you can't get anybody to help you unless you serve lots and lots of "parse". One of our neighbors recently had a big "dage" in putting up his house which as usual ended in endless fights, and everybody staggering on the way home. At nights the women come too, to sing, drink, celebrate and "dedicate" the house. It ended up with a big fight, a lot of swearing and cursing which resulted [] in a court case the next day.
The believers soon realize that this kind of business isn't for them, but the problem of how to get their work done is a big one. However, the three baptized ones work together and some other friends and sympathizers helped Buka get his new house up all right. It is wonderful to see how all the sinful practices of these people drop away like dirty rags when a person believes and puts his trust in the Lord Jesus as his Savior.
Tobacco of a wild variety grows here. Each family grows a supply. Smoking is done in a big hubble-bubble pipes with water in the bottom of the gourd, smoke drawn through the water. They smoke tobacco when they can get it - otherwise a bit of dung will do. No dope is used that I knew of. The women of the inland parts like their pipes as much or more than the men. The Amharas don't smoke except some that have learned of cigarettes from the Europeans. We are able to get bananas and limes as pretty regular fruits. We have strawberries that bare twice a year, and just now have a crop of ground cherries coming on. Outside of that the only fruit we get is dried, from Addis, at fancy prices. The lack of fruit is a great handicap, but limes save us lots of poor health - we drink limewater every noon.
There is granite and marble scattered throughout the country - a good bit of limestone - and sandstone. Lots of clay right where we are, but outcroppings of granite on the mountains around about.
Mal still has his horse. I sold mine in Soddu before coming down here. He was old, and tired too much on treks to make riding enjoyable. Now, when we go out, Mal rides his horse, I my mule. Molee is a section of Gofa province, west of us, bordering [] on the Omo - this side. Its people are about the same as those close to us, -- natives, Gofa pagans; overlords, Amharas.
Our Dik-dik died when we were away at Goibe. Stomach disorders, apparently. He was too young to have been taken from his mother. Goibe is south of here on the same ridge of mountains - about two hours ride by animal. It is populated by Shankalas - those people who have suffered so at the hands of slave-raiders.
The biggest market about here is Tuesday market, in Bulke - the Amhara town ** 15 min. from here. Thousands of people come from all the country round, some sleeping a night on the road to get there. Other smaller markets are held Thursday, in Bulke also - mostly local trading, and Sunday, in the valley below us.
Mal and I have been married a year and 6 days now. And it's been the happiest year I've ever known. Hoping you are the same - as Mother says,
Enid and Mal.
[10 May 1936 newsart and pics in Waterbury Republican]
03 Feb 1937 [!!] (war, etc.)
Bulke, Gofa, A.O.I.
February 3, 1937.
Dear families and friends:
We still can't write as satisfactory a letter as we would like but at least the Italians have reached Soddu. We have yet to hear when they will reach Gofa. It was an exciting day for us yesterday when the mail came with the long-waited-for news. It would have been exciting for us had we been there, but our day is still coming. The Italians had a peaceful entrance there. Dejaz Makkenen had previously gone to Sidamo to make his peace after the [] Italians frightened him into doing so with bombs. Some of the baser sort of Amharas have gone to the brush to be Shiftas but most of them, I think, remained in Soddu.
We are still in Gofa and it is peaceful enough for us though the Amharas are merciless in robbing and killing the Gofas and Shankillas. Balumberas Geeza, Mr. London and I had a little talk about things yesterday. London wants to go to Walamo right away as does the Balumberas. The latter wants to make his peace and get in line for a job with the new government and he serves a good one. However, I made them to realize that as soon as we had gone (we would have to go of course) all our goods and buildings would be destroyed. The same would be true of London's and Costi's goods and buildings. They realized it and decided to wait at least until further word comes from Walamo. With the last post, before the Italians had entered Walamo, Geeza sent a letter to the Italian commander expressing his desire for peace and stating his willingness to go to Walamo or remain here as the Italians might dictate. He may get an answer from that letter and then will, of course, have to act accordingly. In any case we hope to be in Walamo by the first of May at the latest.
Things are not going so well for the Mission in Addis. Apparently we have practically been ordered out. The Italian authorities are taking over all Mission property in Addis. They did not say the folks had to get out. Articles in the Evangelical Christian with a distinct anti-Italian flavor seem to be the main objection. However we are looking to the Lord to open up some way for us to stay here whatever the extremity. Please do not look for us to be coming home….we hope we won't have to. Pray much for [] us in this extremity that God may lead us forth in His way. We need much faith.
We came out as workers in the S.I.M. We are still with said mission. If the Italian authorities will not countenance this Mission but will permit us to carry on as a new organization, then we will have to reorganize. If this is not possible, perhaps they will permit us to remain on as private citizens. We have not come to the place where we believe our work in this country is ended. Many things can happen between Gofa and the deck of a chip carrying us home. In any case, the time hasn't arrived yet and meanwhile we are trusting our Lord to do what is best. In the event that we finally have to take unwanted shipping for home… "Thy will be done."
Last year the rainy season waded right through the dry season. This year on the contrary has been one of the driest. Last week grass for the animals was getting scarce…then it rained. Now the burned over hillsides are showing a touch of green and in a little while spring will be here. Only spring in this country immediately precedes winter, the rainy season. We've been having a good living off of our garden, the best since we've been here. Now that it has rained we have planted again, but this is the red ant season if they have a season. Their off season is not very much off.
Last Sunday it started to rain early and kept it up until noon. It was too wet for our near neighbors to come out but from Guchigulla, a mile away, they came and from Buga, six miles away, they came and from Barza, five miles away, they came. It wasn't a very big crowd but it represented more than just our smug little community called Hoto. We'd like to get out to these communities [] but can't now. We are going ahead with two women's meetings and with Sunday School and Church. Five mornings we have school so that the kids can learn their ha, hu, he, ha.
The last letters we had from you were dated early in October. After that Dejaz Makkenen forbid any further correspondence between Soddu foreigners and foreigners elsewhere. Hence we were cut off again after getting letters from you only twice. We've kept sending letters to Soddu hoping they would get out so by this time you may have had several of our letters. From now on we hope to get word to you every two or three weeks though if the road between here and Soddu becomes impassable we will again be helpless to get word to you. However we do not expect much trouble here now that Dejaz Makkenen has submitted.
Enid has written twice about the little Forsberg who is supposed to pull in along about June one. We hope you heard the (good, bad, check one) news. In any event I am sure Enid cannot refrain from giving further details here below. We'd like to say send this and send that but our own future is so uncertain.
- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -
We told Andersons they could tell the folks in Soddu about our expectation and therefore had a lot of suggestions this mail as to names - also assurance of their many prayers. They seem to think we won't have some of the things we need, but if our former letters got through to you, we expect to have. For we must rely on you for bottles, nipples, rubber sheeting, mattress pads. I'm repeating because we're not sure whether former letters got through.
I've been having a lot of fun making nighties this last week. Figured out the featherstitch and have been using it to [] advantage. A supply of silk embroidery thread that was sent out from home some time ago, is coming in, in good stead now. I personally think we're going to have a very well supplied youngster. I'm cutting up a cotton blanket, blue, for baby blankets, and a big sheet for four baby ones, and we have lots of fun all in all figuring things out. Found a mattress today that Mrs. A. had for Kenny, so that is a help, for though we had the stuffing, it's impossible to get even cheap muslin in town now, for a covering.
We're both well now. Mal's ear is better but not quite up to par in hearing. It didn't stop draining till last week, and we're confident it will be all right in time. Just now we're overrun with tomatoes. Could pick a bushel every week - but that's a bit too much for two people. We're giving some away. Since we're sending a copy of this letter to each of the families, you needn't forward it.
Again, don't expect us home too soon, much as we might like to go. There are too many thousands and maybe millions to the south, east and west of here who have never heard the glad tidings and who probably never will unless we can reach them. Their blood is on our heads, since we are nearest to them. Do pray for them and us, that the Lord will make it possible for us to reach them yet.
Lots of love from us all to you all,
Enid and Mal.
THE SPIRITUAL work on Gofa Station was still in a primitive state when we arrived, but a foundation had been laid, for the Ohmans and the Davisons and others had preached and taught. Simberu and, shortly afterward, Saka a serf, had believed though they had not yet been baptized. It was our job to give them instruction and to prepare them for membership in the church of which they would be the charter members.
And then there was Dafarsha, who represented another problem. He called on us one day, standing at the gate until one of our boys informed us of his arrival. People from his tribe did not often get much farther than the gates of houses in the provinces. A Gofa might go in but Dafarsha was not that high in the local caste system. We called to him but he hesitated at the door. He had been in our house many times before, yet he was so accustomed to being one of the people farthest back that he could not bring himself to enter without a personal invitation.
Dafarsha was soft spoken, almost bashful, and his face was gentle. He wore only a loincloth, but his lack of clothing did not seem to bother him. He had urgent business to discuss.
"When are you going to visit us?" he asked after the customary greetings.
His village was two hours away. He belonged to a people whom the Amharas designated as Shankala. They were the remnants of tribes once enslaved by their stronger neighbors, and lived along the edges of the more civilized Amharas and tribespeople. In the early days they had borne the heaviest brunt of slave raiding and were a subdued people. They called themselves Ara, and although they had their own language, [] those living close to the Gofa people were bilingual, so we could speak to most of them. We promised to visit them.
One day Enid and I packed our trek goods and made the trip to Ara country. It was a big day for Dafarsha and his brother, Dabalki, when they welcomed us to their people. We looked around at those who had come to greet us. The men wore loincloths for the occasion; they did not always have that much on when we met them in their fields. The women wore only bunches of leaves. Even for Africa they were a backward people.
They told us to pitch our tent in the meadow and that they would gather the people that evening to listen to the talk.
On the hillside above us was a platform supported by four poles about seven feet high. What was on the platform did not look like grain or firewood and I asked Dafarsha what it was for.
He hesitated. "Our people don't bury their dead quickly the way the Gofas and the Amharas do. They keep them on a platform like that for a year."
I wondered if Dafarsha were dissociating himself from the practice by his choice of pronouns. Dafarsha and Dabalki were believers. They had first heard the Word from the Ohmans and had walked to the mission station many times since for instruction and fellowship. Now they wanted their neighbors to hear the gospel.
Dafarsha's conversion had presented him with a whole new set of problems. He timidly indicated that he hoped our few days in his village would help him to solve some of them.
Taboos, especially those which degraded women, were basic to Ara culture. Enid found this out on our first visit to one of their huts. Then there were two small stools in the center of the room. I was offered one of them. Enid thought the other was for her and started to sit down.
"Don't sit there!" the lady of the house cried. She reached for the stool and pulled it out from under Enid, who landed on the dirt floor. "Stools are for men!" she added, amazed at Enid's ignorance. "It is taboo for women to sit on stools."
A plantain leaf was brought for Enid. Accepting her position as a woman, she sat on it. I was exalted on the stool.
This custom was not the only means the Ara people had devised to keep their women in subjection. Dafarsha wanted to tell us about his present situation. As we walked toward his house, which was set among the banana-like plantain stalks on the hillside, he tried to prepare us.
"My wife is still out in the little hut," he said. "She's had
a baby." []
She had been there for twenty days and Dafarsha wanted to bring her back to his house, though the usual forty days had not yet passed. We dodged the dew-laden plantain leaves as we made our way to the hut.
Suddenly in front of us, in a tiny clearing, was the hut. It was obviously a temporary structure. The walls were woven of bamboo over thin poles and the thatch was carelessly laid. It looked like a shelter for sheep or goats, but as we approached we saw the fuzzy head of a woman just inside the low doorway. Her body stretched the full diameter of the house.
Dafarsha explained that if his wife were brought back to the main house, everything in the house, including the cattle that occupied half of it, would be considered polluted by his neighbors. His cattle would not be allowed to graze with the village herd. That would work a hardship on Dafarsha as it was customary for the men to take turns herding. Dafarsha would have to herd his own cattle daily. In other ways too he would be isolated from all his friends.
How Levitical it sounded! The light of the gospel, shining out from his inner being, had shaken his faith in the rightness of this treatment of Ara women.
We greeted Dafarsha's wife and she held up her new son for us to see. He was fat and black and roly-poly, evidently thriving on his mother's milk. He gurgled happily, unaware that his birth had precipitated a crisis. The mother did not seem to feel any resentment. Custom had taught her that it was correct for her to lie in the dirt of her hut She probably had no desire to organize the women of her village to demand a change in their condition. The victims of paganism ask no questions, seek no remedy. But conforming had not solved the Ara's problems. They still had to offer sacrifices to offended spirits and walk carefully down the narrow pathway of taboo.
Enid sat on the ground and began to talk to the mother. The woman's look of surprise turned to one of wonder. Her thoughts were reflected on her face. She quite evidently wondered why a woman would risk pollution to talk to her.
"There is nothing wrong with giving birth in the house," Enid said.
Dafarsha's wife looked troubled. The seed had been sown; she began to question in her mind the customs of her tribe. We prayed that she might continue to question. Dafarsha still had the problem of boycott. Could he break taboo and survive? We left Enid at the hut and walked back to the main house. After the little hut it looked like a palace, though cattle occupied half of it. We sat down inside in the semigloom. []
"No price is too great to pay for the grace of the Lord," I said. "You yourself are sorry because your wife is out there. You have come to believe this practice is wrong."
Some anthropologists would have suggested that for people like the Ara, the gospel should be interpreted within the context of the local culture. But Dafarsha was the interpreter of his own tribal culture and as far as he was concerned much of it would have to go. For him the gospel would be the dominating force.
Here was the Ara church in embryo. Someday, we hoped, it would be strong enough to ignore the sanctions of the tribe. But all that was for the future. What was best now? A blatant defiance of the old? A quiet conformity until there were more believers to make the break together?
We discussed the matter. We prayed together, asking God to give Dafarsha and Dabalki wisdom in facing their situation, strength to do His bidding, and faith to believe that He would lead them and many others into the freedom and light of Christ.
Our visit to the Ara people ended and we returned to our station to resume our own affairs. Saka and Simberu had to be baptized. We wanted Walter Ohman to examine our two candidates and to take part in their baptism.
Walter Ohman had come to Ethiopia with the first party of missionaries of our Mission. His wife, then Marcella Sholl, had followed and they had been married in Addis Ababa. Marcella was tiny and attractive and always busy. She was a demure little person, who was careful to do everything correctly so as not to offend anyone.
Walter was less concerned with protocol. He was a hard worker and efficient but he did not believe in letting his work become drudgery. He might have been a left-handed shortstop on a professional baseball team had not the Lord called him into the vastly more important work he took up in Ethiopia. In fact, an apocryphal story persisted that he had once played baseball for the Cleveland Indians. The Ethiopians knew nothing about baseball but they did call him "Lefty." Part of the time Walter made his missionary work a game that he delighted in playing. Metaphorically, he would dash up and down the third-base line, worrying the opposing team. His Ethiopian friends loved it.
"Pull up your socks!" he would call out in Walamo to one of his workmen. The phrase had no meaning in that language but it sounded very funny to his fellow missionaries who knew both languages. Walter explained the expression to his workmen. It was all clear then, and [] there was nothing humorous about it. "Do you know your onions?" he would ask some other unsuspecting Walamo. The man would look at Walter in utter confusion. He knew all the words but how could one know an onion?
Walter was the District Superintendent for Walamo, Gamo, and Gofa. He and Marcella had been on furlough and had but recently returned. They agreed to make the long trip from Soddu and Ray Davis came with them.
[[Ohman's translation work is mentioned frequently in http://www.gospelcom.net/dacb/stories/ethiopia/dubala_biru.html.]]
We found there were now three candidates for baptism. Saka's brother, Sonkura, had been attending the classes but was worried about the consequences of baptism. He finally asked to be included with Saka and Simberu. We were glad to have Walter Ohman's help in questioning the candidates. The baptism of these three men would be our first step toward establishing a native church.
On mountaintops streams are not big. They start out as brooks and do not become rivers until they have run for a while in the valleys. On our mountaintop there was no stream big enough for our kind of baptism. Although the Andersons and we were Presbyterians, "our kind" of baptism was immersion. In the very early days of the Mission, before the turn of the century, Dr. Bingham's Baptist friends had insisted that he establish immersion as the mode of baptism in the Mission. Dr. Bingham preferred not to set any precedent but his dilemma was solved from an unexpected quarter. The Church of England Mission in Nigeria had a group of Christians ready for baptism before the Sudan Interior Mission did. For some reason, never fully understood by Dr. Bingham and his associates, they performed the rite by immersion. At that time our senior missionary in Nigeria was a Presbyterian, and he decided to follow the example set by the Anglicans. So now we had to find a place to baptize by immersion.
"The only thing we can do," Walter Ohman suggested, "is to dam up the little creek down in the meadow."
Together with the three candidates for baptism, we carried stones and dug dirt and built a little dam. The next Sunday, after the morning service, the congregation walked across the meadow to our pond. Walter stood by the edge of the water and looked up at the crowd gathered in a bower of green shrubs. He began the ceremony.
"These men have become believers in Jesus. They are going to be baptized but this will not save them. Christ went into death and rose again for them. These three believe that and have already been crucified with Christ and raised with Him. They will go under the water and be [] lifted up again to show you that they have been raised to live new lives. May many of you believe and be baptized."
I helped him as we immersed the three young men. Some of the bystanders screamed, for they had seen only sprinkling by Coptic priests. When the service was over, one of our young neighbors said, "That was truly baptism!"
That night we had our first communion service with the three new members of the Gofa church. But the gates of hell would almost prevail against it before we were to see any substantial growth in it.
A few days after the baptismal service, one of our boys came running.
"The Dejazmatch is coming!" he called excitedly.
We looked toward town and saw that the road was full of people. Merle Anderson and I quickly saddled our horses. We must ride out a short distance with our friend. He was mounted on a beautiful mule, more horse than donkey. Merle fell in on one side of him, I on the other.
"We are off to fight the Italians," the Governor said. He seemed determined but not very confident. His manner was friendly but preoccupied. "I have left one of my men in charge. You will be all right."
We talked as we went. We had gone about two miles when, in polite Ethiopian fashion, he said: "Return, you have come far enough. We will soon drive the Italians out and come back to you."
We dropped out of the procession and returned to the comfort of our homes. Thirteen years were to pass before we would see him again, and under vastly different circumstances. The war would affect us all.\n/
[Any record of renewed contact around 1950?]
THE GOVERNOR had gone and so had the Ohmans and Ray Davis. Enid and I settled down to our work again for there was still language material to classify. We had gone over much of it with Walter Ohman and he had given us many new leads.
Since our neighbors often invited us to eat wat and injera with them, we decided to reciprocate in some way. Our purpose was to be friendly as well as to evangelize, so we began a round of entertaining. Enid felt we should not serve our kind of food. Besides, our supplies and vegetables would not go far and the guests would leave hungry. Therefore, we asked a new neighbor to bake the big pancakes and make the stew. Her name was Shashotie.
Simberu had first told us about this slave girl, whom he had brought to his tiny hut to rot when she could no longer work. Only a hole remained where her nose had been and another had eaten through her skull. Her joints were "frozen" and she could do almost nothing, for she was dying of syphilis. Simberu thought our medicine might save her; he had done what he could but his efforts proved useless.
Many years before, Shashotie and her mother had been abducted from Kaffa Province, to the west, and sold separately in Gofa Province. They had not seen each other since. Shashotie's mistress had been a "big woman" but was now a derelict and had abandoned her.
As a slave, Simberu had no income. He worked hard but there was scarcely enough food for him and his master's family. But Simberu shared his meager supplies with the dying Shashotie and taught her to give thanks before eating. There was nothing impressive about Simberu's appearance. His body, broad at the shoulders from millions of strokes with the pick, tapered down to spindly legs that seemed hardly strong enough to support him. His cheekbones protruded and he had a long [] pointed chin. But when he spoke, with mellow voice and earnest words, a glow from within completely obscured any physical lack. The gospel, coming to Shashotie from such a source, had been irresistible.
When we had first visited her, we said that Merle Anderson would give her a series of treatments with "needles." She jumped at the magic word. Needles were only for those who could afford them. She had seen landowners, soldiers, and government officials ride off to some distant mission station to get relief from the disease she knew so well. They had come back with ulcers healed and strength restored. But that was not for slaves. Or was it?
The needles did wonders for her general condition. The ulcers healed and the hole in her scalp closed over. Enid went to Shashotie's hut several times a week and exercised her legs in the hope they could be made less rigid, but the damage had already been done. She crawled about the house and sat with her things around her doing her work, but she never walked again.
Simberu was doing his work, too, and soon Shashotie became a Christian. It did not seem right to them or to us that they occupy the same hut though it made no difference to their master and mistress. We built a bamboo hut near our house for Shashotie and one day carried her to it. Shashoties mistress was furious; she wanted no one else to help the slave she had abandoned. Sometimes compassion makes it necessary for missionaries to go against local custom. When we saw human suffering, we could not be silent.
After her disease was arrested, we asked Shashotie to cook wat and injera for us. Now that she was a Christian, she wanted to give expression to her new faith. To have some way of serving gave her much joy and satisfaction. Later, when we said we would come to her house to eat her food, Shashotie was overwhelmed. For the first time in her life she had been shown respect. The gospel had found her, she learned to read and write; she gained dignity. She could entertain Americans in her own home! How could this come about except through the gospel?
With the Governor gone, public security rapidly deteriorated. Old feuds were revived and there were frequent shootings. Merle Anderson was kept busy treating knife and gun wounds. Then an epidemic of unknown origin suddenly swept the community.
"What is it, Merle?" I asked. "Typhus?" []
"It doesn't fit the description of any tropical disease in the books I have," he replied.
The disease had no outstanding symptoms apart from high fever, though we could predict its duration. The crisis came exactly seven days after the onset. On the morning of that day the patient either sank into a coma, without warning, and died in three or four hours, or just as suddenly began a slow recovery.
When Simberu became infected, we were alarmed. Merle went to see him. His master gave us permission to move Simberu to Shashotie's hut where he would receive the care he needed. We nursed him, fed him light foods, did everything we could -- and waited for the seventh day. Never had we been so close to a disease so predictable -- yet so unpredictable.
Early on the seventh day we were with Simberu, for we knew the crisis would come shortly after daylight. We could only pray. By nine o'clock it was evident he would not recover. Sonkura and I were with him when he died at one o'clock. It seemed that a foundation stone of the Gofa church had disappeared into the bowels of the earth, leaving a corner of the structure sagging.
"We can't bury him," his master said when we told him. "He can't be buried as a Copt, for he is one of you. You must bury him."
Here was a circumstance we had not foreseen and whatever we would do that afternoon would probably set burial precedents for future Christians. With no time to plan, we had to go ahead immediately with funeral arrangements. There was an unmarked plot of ground over the hill where other non-Coptic persons were buried. We would lay Simberu to rest in it. Those who were not averse to digging a Protestant grave gathered at the spot. While they dug, we made a coffin, and by five o'clock we were ready to carry the body to the grave. As the coffin was lowered to its final position in the ground, we held the service.
I had never before conducted a funeral service in Africa and only once at home. We sang some of the hymns and I read from the Scriptures or paraphrased what was not yet translated into the Gofa language. "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" I told them that because of Simberu's faith, he was now with Christ.
They were quiet until we began closing the grave. Then women and men alike began to wail in the Gofa style because they knew no other way to express what they felt. They believed in a future life but they were [] not sure their religious practices would guarantee it to them. In the presence of death they felt sorry not only for the dead and for the bereaved, but for themselves. They saw themselves in the gaping earth; they could not see clearly beyond the grave.
I looked around at the crowd. This was one of the biggest funerals we had witnessed in the whole area. The Amhara aristocracy was there, as was the pagan Gofa aristocracy from many surrounding villages. Slaves and peasants had come too, to honor a slave at death! Suddenly I realized the significance of this scene. When Simberu had become a Christian, and particularly after his baptism, his master and his superiors in the village thought of him in a different way. Conversion had raised him to a higher level.
The people could not understand or explain what had happened to Simberu that they should adopt such an unorthodox attitude toward him, a slave. The last scene in Simberu's life, there at the graveside, was evidence to us of what had happened. A slave had been born again and the freemen around him were unconsciously and unwittingly acknowledging his spiritual superiority. Christ had made him a free man! Simberu was a symbol of what was happening in Africa wherever the church was rising. Social, racial, and color distinctions were going into the church melting pot. There would come out of it no slaves, no bond, no free; all would be one in Christ.
In the days that followed, life seemed difficult without Simberu. He had preached regularly in the villages and always witnessed to his neighbors. He was a living epistle in the community and we missed him terribly. Also, the war news was disturbing and we needed all the stabilizing influences we could find. Rumors were flying:
"The British are coming in from the Sudan.... The Germans have bombed Rome.... The French have taken Addis Ababa.... The Italians are only three or four days' march from us."
At first we thought there must be some truth in them but eventually learned to discount them all. Sometimes we were told the roads were unsafe for travel, at other times that travel was quite normal. We had become increasingly interested in travel conditions ever since Enid woke me one night to say, "I've got a sharp pain right where I think my appendix ought to be."
Those were the last words we wanted to hear, for the nearest doctor was a week's
journey away. A person with a diseased appendix should not bounce on a mule for
that length of time, and what if the appendix burst? []
Merle and I gave our joint, strictly nonprofessional diagnosis and treatment. We recommended that the patient stay in bed until the attack passed. It did pass but others recurred at intervals, so Enid and I finally decided to go to Soddu. Our boys accompanied us. She survived the trip and Dr. Roberts removed her appendix successfully. We lingered at Soddu while she recuperated, and the doctor and Walter Ohman brought us up to date on events.
The Emperor of Ethiopia had fled and the news had reached most of the country. Many Ethiopian soldiers, knowing their time was short, returned to their villages to await the coming of the Italians. But other soldiers were trying to gather as much wealth as possible by any means before the arrival of the Italian forces. They were a menace to the countryside.
One day Samati ran in with news. "God be praised! The Gofa children have returned from the war and are camped near the town. All of our boys are safe."
There was good reason for joy; some Gofa villages would soon learn that they had no men to welcome back. Our boys had been prayed for daily -- and now we were happy that all had returned. But it was time for us to decide our next move; we discussed our future many times with Walter.
"Conditions are likely to get worse before the Italians break through," he reasoned, "and we don't know when they'll get here."
"Either we should return to Gofa or the Andersons should come here to Soddu," I insisted. "Perhaps we could join a caravan taking salt to Gofa. The men would be well armed and it would be safe to travel with them."
We remembered that two of our missionaries had already been killed. Cliff Mitchell, Tom Devers, Allen Smith, and Alan Webb had been stationed east of Soddu, in Sidamo Province. When government and public security collapsed, old warfare between the tribespeople and the Amharas, and between tribe and tribe, resumed. Mitchell's wife and child, and Devers' fiancee were already in Addis Ababa. When a large group of Amharas decided to make their way to the capital city, Mitchell and Devers went with them. They were never heard from again.
Mitchell and Devers were not the only missionaries to lose their lives. Dr. Robert Hockman, of the American United Presbyterian Mission, had joined the Red Cross. In trying to remove the detonator from a bomb, he had lost his life.
The Governor of Walamo was still in Soddu and his presence there [] helped to keep the peace. Should we leave the comparative safety of his province to return to the insecurity of Gofa? We prayed. The more we prayed the more we felt led to return. Reckless though it seemed, we thought our decision to go back was right. We heard that some muleteers of our acquaintance were organizing a large caravan to transport forty or fifty mule loads of salt to Gofa, and arranged to go with them. Once again we opened our hearts to the sky and the road, as our mules and horses clip-clopped toward home.
It was a happy reunion with the Andersons. They had been under severe strain during the return of the soldiers. The uneasiness caused by heavy drinking in the town and the uncertainty of our return had given them considerable anxiety.
The future itself was uncertain. We thought we should spend most of our time giving the gospel to the villages on the outskirts of our area and teaching the believers. But although we settled back into a routine of work, life was never the same again.
THE ENTRY of the Italians into Addis Ababa had cut us off from our office there. For months we had received no funds an were close to economic disaster. Fortunately, the rains continued intermittently all through what should have been the dry season. Our gardens flourished and we had an abundance of fresh peas, lettuce, root crops, and cape gooseberries. Never before had we had so much rain and such good gardens. Still, we had to buy meat, milk, and eggs. Chickens, bananas, limes, and potatoes were plentiful but they also cost money. In addition to buying produce, we had to have cash to pay our boys.
"Let's sell some of the clothes we never wear," Enid suggested one day.
There were a few we could easily spare. Our missionaries had warned us of the cold Ethiopian highlands, and recommended we have winter underwear. Although we had survived without such apparel in the subzero weather of America's Midwest, we dutifully carried several sets to Ethiopia. These we had never worn, so now we gave our boys the first chance to buy what they wanted.
"I would like this pair," said one, and Alamo disappeared with the warm underdrawers.
The next time we saw them, they had become a sweater without any alteration.
Ethiopians were fond of jackets, vests, and coats. We were sentimental over our senior jackets from college days but did not really need them either. Our old ones would do. So we asked each other if we should sell them. We stalled until our money gave out again. There they were -- blue with orange piping, our Wheaton College colors which we used to sing about in the Alma Mater, "We will e'er uphold thy colors, the orange and the blue." The college seal was there too, in Latin, "Christo [] et Regno Ejus, For Christ and His Kingdom." The boys took the jackets and their wages were thus paid for about two months.
Our supply of flour dwindled and our sugar was all but gone. We had plenty of fresh food; nevertheless it was difficult to relax and the Ethiopians, as well as ourselves, were feeling the tension. Rival officials were still maneuvering for the top spot. Our boys frequently brought us reports of killings in town. We heard enough shots fired during every twenty-four hours to cut the population in half. Night usually brought ominous little sounds ... imaginary movements in the shadows around the house ... the measured footsteps of men who never came.
Our friend Geeza was worried about us. He was the Emperor's special representative in Gofa Province whose job it was to secure his King his share of the revenue from the area. Before being appointed to this post, Geeza had been a soldier of fortune, roaming about the lowlands toward the Sudan, shooting elephant and selling the ivory, and trading in iron from the mines at Dimmie. He knew his own language well and could also read Geez, the ancient dead forerunner of modem Amharic. A big man, of middle age, like Abeba he was friendly and forward-looking. He believed as we did that salvation came to the individual through faith in Christ, not through works. Still, he followed the practices of his church, for they were an inherent part of his life.
In the absence of the Governor, Geeza had shown more concern for our safety than any other man in or out of the government. We held him in high regard and trusted him. He thought we should have some armed men to stand guard, but after a few hours we found this arrangement tiresome and sent the men back.
There was also the growing possibility that we might have to leave Gofa hurriedly, without warning, so we packed the few essential supplies for the road. We did not bother with tent or beds; a few blankets and a duffel bag would do. We would take the remaining cans of food, along with the remnants of sugar and tea, and a saucepan and a teapot. Some needles and thread and our medicine, and we would be ready. In an emergency, there would be no carriers available. We would have to use our own donkeys and hope that at least one boy would go with us to handle them.
One morning Merle Anderson came over with the distressing report that Lillian had pains in the region of her appendix. The Andersons loaded their pack animals, mounted their mules, and soon disappeared over the notch in the hill. They reached Soddu safely, never to see Gofa again. []
We turned away from the problems of the outside world to face a new one of our own. After months of waiting and disappointment, our first baby was expected. Without this added complication we might have been able to stay in Gofa indefinitely and hope for conditions to improve. Now it was necessary to plan to be near a doctor before it was too late.
"What do we do for baby clothes?" I asked Enid.
"I'll have to make some things out of Ethiopian homespun," she replied. "We won't need much."
Some soft locally woven cloth, after it was washed well, proved to be ideal for diapers and nighties.
Visits to our neighbors continued but we did not go very far afield. Then one day we had a pleasant surprise. Tucked away on a little shelf on the mountainside below us was the village where "Sleepy" Hailu lived. Whenever we visited there, he was always more hospitable than the others, and one morning he sent word he wanted to see us. In Hailu's dark hut we watched as he prepared coffee for us. He crushed the leaves and put them in the pot to boil while we visited, then, as the time to drink his brew approached, he added salt and red pepper. Finally, he poured the contents of the pot into the cups that had been lined up on a low table in front of us. Before we were served, a piece of rancid butter was dropped into each cup. It was hard to believe that the people really enjoyed this mixture but we wanted to be sociable and friendly, so we sipped the drink.
Conversion is not always dramatic. We had had no indication that Hailu had become a believer. Yet, as we sat in his hut and talked with him, we suddenly realized we were addressing him as a believer and he was responding. When we returned to our home, we reviewed the progress we, together with the Andersons, had made in our work.
Our church was slowly growing. The people in Kencho and Baga, behind the mountain to the west, were coming for visits regularly and holding prayers in their villages. And there was Samati, and also Saka's young wife, who had heard the good word for the first time after her arrival in Saka's village. She had understood and had believed eagerly. Shashotie, too, came often. She was dependent on us and on the Christians. They carried her to our house for meetings and then home again. Shashotie had grown up in sordid surroundings and had spent much of her adult life in a compound where she was exposed to lust and lewdness, but her faith in Christ had obliterated all the outward marks the old life had left on her. []
"It's good to take stock once in a while," Enid said. "The results we look for don't always come from the open windows of heaven. Sometimes it is 'first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.' "
We had had no mail from home for six months, but Walter Ohman sent the mail carrier from Soddu fairly regularly to keep in touch with us. One evening he came again.
"The Italians have entered Soddu!" he announced.
It was almost ten months since the Italians had proclaimed their final conquest of Ethiopia and we had not seen them yet. Enid and I were the only missionaries left in the uncertain areas of the land. The others had all been taken into the Pax Romana for better or for worse. We wondered when our time would come to leave.
ONE MORNING the Ethiopian wife of one of the two Greek merchants in Gofa appeared at our gate to warn us that her husband and the other Greek were leaving immediately for Soddu because it was rumored the town was to be looted that night. The Ethiopian wives were to be left behind. If the town were looted, our homes would not be overlooked.
This seemed to us the final signal. If the Greeks were thus led to go, might it not be best for us to go also and seek whatever kind of peace the Italians had brought?
"If we're going," Enid said, "we'd better travel with them."
We would have to hurry to go with the Greeks. They were already passing us on the road below.
"Come on into the bedroom," I said. "Let us pray about this
before we do anything."
There was not much time left for prayer; the answer seemed plain if disappointing. We called Alamo and Saro, who had agreed to go with us. They saddled the donkeys while I attended to the mules. Our emergency outfit had been kept intact and the boys now loaded it onto the donkeys.
As we said our last farewells to the Christians -- Shashotie, Saka, and Sonkura -- we somehow sensed we would not be returning from this trip. But they would not be alone. The villages behind the mountain had been stirred, and the church was coming into being there with a nucleus of about twelve men. We had told our neighbors many times to trust in the Lord and not be afraid. It hurt us to be fleeing but there seemed no other way.
We pulled our mules through the gate and down the hill to the narrow mountain trail, where we mounted. Saka followed us down the [] mountainside. Only a few short months before, we had baptized him. After Simberu's death, Saka had become the leader of the church. Through our preaching he had isolated himself from his family and they had turned their backs on him. He had joined the small group we had sponsored and now we were leaving. But his Lord was with him. Jesus had said, "I am the good shepherd . . . My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Our last picture of Gofa was Saka standing in the path, weeping. Our hearts were weeping, too, as we followed the path around the mountain that cut him off from our view. It was five o'clock and soon would be dark. We traveled down the steep mountain trail as fast as we could go. The Greeks seemed to have left us well behind; their riding animals were better than ours. Two hours elapsed before we reached the bottom, and there found the two Greeks sitting. Actually, they were not waiting for us but for some Ethiopian traders who also were leaving.
"It's a good thing you caught up to us," one of the Greeks said. "You'd never get through to Soddu without our help."
He proved to be a poor prophet.
We knew there were certain danger spots along the road, some of which we would have to pass at night. It was dark and foreboding. There was much thinking but little talking. Under normal conditions a group such as ours would have been lively, and engaged in spirited conversation, even a little quarreling, perhaps. But on this journey there was only the occasional low murmur of voices, now speaking in Amharic, now in Greek, now in English, now in Gofa. We were all thinking the same thing: What would it be like ahead?
Mule hoofs plodded through the sand, kicking up the loose gravel. Up, down, scrape. Up, down, scrape. How many complete cycles of this motion would there be before real rest was found? People usually do not count footsteps, only hours or miles. In my breast pocket was a small old alarm clock, which I pulled out periodically as our mules trudged along. Our lovely watches, gifts from relatives, had given up long ago and had been safely packed in our boxes at Gofa to be taken someday to Addis Ababa for repair.
We had been on the road a long time but it was only nine o'clock. Danger spot number one was still an hour ahead; we would have to pass it and travel another two hours before resting. At ten o'clock we could see the dark outline of huts and conversation stopped entirely. There [] was only the clip, clip, clip of mule hoofs and the grit, grit, grit of walking feet. In a few minutes the village was left behind. Conversation began again, softly at first, then, when nothing unpleasant happened, somebody laughed.
"We fooled them," a voice in the dark said. "The people they think to be the wealthiest in the province just passed their village and they didn't know it. They'll have to steal a lot of chickens to make up for the loot they missed tonight."
Everybody laughed but there was some restraint, for most of the road still lay ahead. I had decided not to use Enid as an excuse for stopping to rest. I knew she would tire easily in her condition, but I also knew she was plucky and would not want us to camp unless she had come to the end of her strength. Just after midnight by the little alarm clock we turned off into an open glen separated from the main path by several clumps of trees. Our parties camped a few feet from each other. Enid and I pulled our blankets from the duffel bag, spread them on the ground, and lay down gratefully. But it was hard to find a comfortable spot among the little stones, and our minds would not stop whirling. At last we fell asleep -- but we would soon be up again and on the road.
We did not expect trouble on the second day. We plodded on, and although we skirted farm lands and passed close to Gofa villages, we received only the usual attention. The mourning doves raised their doleful songs from the branches of the trees and sounded even more discouraged than we felt. We stopped to stock up on food in the few villages where wat and injera were sold.
By noon we left the valley and began to drop down even lower to the Mazi River crossing. There, in the shade of the trees, we rested while the mules and donkeys thrust their muzzles upstream in search of the clearest water. Ahead of us lay the road back up to the highlands, three hours of almost vertical climbing. We hung on as the mules began the scramble. On an ordinary trek we would have camped and reserved the climb for the cool hours of the morning when the animals were fresh. Now they had been carrying us since dawn and the big climb faced them in the midday heat.
Finally we reached our camp site at the top. There was no village nearby so we unloaded the donkeys, unsaddled the mules, and staked them out to graze. It was easy to camp; there was no tent to set up, nothing to cook, no camp beds to assemble. We nibbled at the remains of the Ethiopian food bought along the way, and then sat down for the inevitable fireside conversation. []
Piety was not lacking even in the most profane. Our words of warning and comfort from the Scriptures were greeted with "Amens" from all quarters. It has always been that way. Men live carelessly and give God no place in their lives until trouble comes, or death stares them in the face, then suddenly they want God's help. Though the day had been long and exhausting, we talked on. Some of the group would never forget the words they heard that night because of the circumstances that brought them forth. All of us knew that the following day would bring the final decision. We would meet people at the next village who could tell us whether it would be possible to get through to Soddu.
Daylight saw us on our way again. It was cooler than in the valley and we were happy to have our old warm jackets. Before long we arrived at the village where we settled down in a hut to rest and then began the lengthy process of gathering accurate information. It would not be available at once; information was now a commodity. We would have to bargain for it and show our willingness to part with a little silver. What we could finally piece together from the village headmen was that it was impossible to get through to Soddu. Many of the returning soldiers had refused to surrender to the Italians when the latter came into Soddu and were preying on the road we would have to travel.
Although this news was expected -- and probably exaggerated -- it was depressing. Then Enid and I found someone in the village we knew. On a previous trip we had drunk coffee in his home, and this simple sharing of his hospitality had made him our friend.
"You can get through," he told us, "if you travel at night. There is heavy drinking at Bola every day. If you go through the town about four in the morning the drunks will be asleep and others won't be up yet. You can go beyond the town for a couple of hours and spend the day in the woods away from the road. Then you'll be able to get into Italian territory the next night."
This advice was what we were waiting to hear. We walked back to where the Greeks were sitting, but they told us they were not going on, that it was not possible to get through. Their decision was somewhat of a relief to us, for we could plan the rest of the trip ourselves.
The local headmen were paid twelve dollars for whatever services they had performed for us, and at four o'clock we started out. Who was doing the right thing? The Greeks by stopping? Or we, by going ahead in the face of warnings? We heard the Spirit's soft voice, "This is the way," and pressed on.
At six o'clock we left the road and spread our blankets under the trees. [] If we started out again at ten that night, we would pass the danger point at just the right hour. We ate our supper, such as it was, and rested again. The moon was setting and the road would be dark. We prayed fervently with our boys. By ten we were on our way.
Of course I felt some anxiety for Enid. This was no treatment for an expectant mother -- and her first offspring at that. "Are you all right?" I would ask over and over again, and invariably she would say, "I'm all right." But I could detect the measure of "all-rightness" by the tone of her voice. Sometimes it was tired, sometimes anxious. I was thinking mostly of her welfare, Enid was concerned only about the welfare of the little unborn one who had been on the way five months.
We had traveled only about an hour when I looked back and saw lights on the road.
"Here they come!" I shouted. "Get off the road!"
I grabbed my mule's reins and began to pull. We were on top of the mountain ridge and the ground dropped away on both sides of us. I disappeared from view.
"Mal, where are you?" Enid called.
"I'm down here," I replied. There was a crashing of underbrush and the cry of a hyena as it disappeared down the slope. I had skidded down a ten-foot embankment.
"It's a good thing we didn't fall any farther," Enid gasped as she soon came beside me. "At some points along here we could have dropped a hundred feet."
The boys were standing on top of the bank watching the torches. Lights at night can be deceptive.
"They aren't coming," Alamo finally said in an unnecessary whisper. "They are probably farmers out looking for cattle."
We had been afraid they were bandits, come to rob us where there would be no witnesses. Presently we returned to the road and plodded on. There was not a trace of light, so that when we walked, we stumbled, and when we rode the mules, they stumbled. The boys kicked their bare feet against stones until they were raw. I thought of Moses and "the darkness which may be felt" [Exodus 10.21]. I could understand now, for the moon had long since set and even the stars refused to give their feeble light. Trees leaned over the road and added to the blackness. The gloom began to enter our minds and we did not know how much longer we could steel ourselves. Then we prayed and were conscious of God's loving carc; the light inside brightened.
All at once the road dropped down through a boulder-strewn gulley. [] The mules could no longer carry us so we walked. Enid fell and I fell trying to help her. When she lost the heel from one of her shoes we got down on our hands and knees and crawled.
"This isn't the road," Enid cried at last in desperation. "It's a rocky stream bed going down the side of the mountain!"
We stopped and sat down among the boulders. We could see each other only in outline. Suddenly a verse that would carry us through came to Enid like a flash of light through our darkness: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" [Isaiah 40.31].
"Let's go!" she said, and limped off minus a heel.
It was past midnight by the old alarm clock. Fortunately, we could see its luminous dial without having to strike a match. Soon we were back on the road. At three o'clock we sat down to rest and to have a sip of water. By now we were sharing our canteens with the boys. We moved on again, quite sure we would not get through Bola before daylight.
It was four-thirty when we saw the first huts dimly outlined against the dark sky. There is something ghastly about squat thatched roofs at night, especially so when one has to pass through a village of hostile people. It was deathly still. Then a rooster crowed. We prayed the dogs would stay quiet. Now we had passed the upper section of the town and, driving the mules mercilessly, clattered through the stones. When we reached the lower section of the town, it was light enough to see. As we came to the first hut, an Ethiopian was standing in the doorway.
"Foreigners!" he exclaimed as he turned back to inform the people in the house.
I was riding hard and Enid's mule was dropping behind, but I did not slow down. She would have to keep up. We could hear women at their grindstones; the day began early for them. At the last hut a man stood by the door, rifle in hand. Perhaps we took him by surprise for he did not move.
The road began its descent toward the Demi River, still several hours away. Three hundred yards from the last hut a waterfall splattered over the stones right beside the road. We stopped in plain sight of the man with the rifle, for we had to have water and might not find any more the rest of the day. We drank thirstily. The water had not been boiled but that was of no concern to us now. While we filled our canteens the mules drank deeply. Then, without waiting to catch our breath, we mounted the mules and drove them down the mountainside. Several [] men with guns were now standing on the edge of the embankment above us and we could feel their eyes boring through our backs.
"They probably think our mule caravan will follow," I said. "They no doubt plan to let us go on and concentrate on that."
We had been on the way an hour before we decided it would be relatively safe to leave the road for the day. Anybody wanting to molest us could easily follow our mule tracks, anyway, so we went off some distance into the thornbrush and spread our belongings on the ground. There were no leaves on the trees and the sun at this lower altitude was hot. We welcomed the thin shade provided by one lone acacia. Our bread had turned to crumbs in the pillowcase in which we had been carrying it, but we were glad to eat the crumbs.
"We might as well open a can of cheese, too," Enid said. "It will never taste any better." So we nibbled cheese with our crumbs.
We were tired but found it difficult to relax. One more dangerous stretch of road lay ahead of us and again we would have to travel by night. After removing our shoes and stockings, we stretched out on our blankets and finally fell asleep. When we awoke two hours later, we were no longer in the shade, and the morning sun had left our legs unnaturally warm and red.
The crumbs and cheese lasted throughout the day. We resumed our journey as soon as darkness fell. Any bandits preying on the road would hardly expect travelers to pass at night. I had to lift Enid onto her mule, and it would now have to carry her continuously. Her legs were swollen from the sunburn and from her condition, so she could do no more walking. Also, the soles of her shoes had been torn off. We finally reached the Demi River beyond which lay the last stretch of dangerous wilderness. We filled our canteens again while the mules drank for the first time in many hours. As we crossed the river, conversation stopped. Only the hollow sound of animal hoofs on clay soil broke the stillness.
Midnight came and we began the gentle climb out of the lowlands to the Walamo plain. We did not know whether Italian authority extended to this outer edge of Walamo territory. An open area suddenly appeared beside the road.
"This is the Sunday market!" Alamo said out load. Our hearts leaped with joy, for now our dangers were all behind us and we were safe.
We found a grassy spot near the market place where people came from villages on both sides of the wilderness to do their Sunday trading. The rest of the week it was just a flat piece of earth. Our blankets were spread out again -- for the last time, we hoped. How safe and comfortable [] the hard ground seemed! Before we slept we staked the animals out but they were too tired to eat the luscious grass. When we awoke it was light and the sun was rising.
"It's going to be a long flat ride today across the plain," I said to Enid unenthusiastically.
"I don't care," she replied. "It's so wonderful to be here and to know the trouble is all behind us."
The slow pace of the mules was agonizing. We tried to drive them, to pull them, but they would not be hurried. At best we were making only about a mile and a half an hour, but at nine o'clock we reached the first Walamo village and stopped under a huge, spreading wild fig tree. The boys went to the nearest hut and asked to buy food. The woman brought out two gourds and set them before us. It was a time to give thanks so we bowed our heads. Then we ate greedily.
"This is the most delicious meal I have eaten in all my life," Enid said excitedly.
Sour, clobbered milk, and cold, boiled sweet potatoes ....
With anxiety at least partially gone, we settled down to the ordinary weariness of the road. On the ridge ahead we could see the iron roofs on the mission buildings but they were in another world. We needed help. We stopped while I scratched a note announcing our impending arrival and asking for fresh animals. Then one of the boys disappeared with it down the road.
About three-thirty we saw puffs of dust rising from the road ahead and shortly afterward a group from the Mission dashed up on fresh horses. Peg Phillips slipped off her animal and she and Enid were soon in tears. I turned aside and choked back mine. They had a horse for me and a fresh mule for Enid. I prayed silently as the journey neared its end.
19 Feb 1937 (Mal, flight to Soddu)
Feb. 19, 1937
Praise the Lord, we are safe in Soddu. We arrived []
yesterday and a plane is due here today to take mail so I am dashing off a note
but will write all about our affairs next time, which shouldn't be too long.
Balumberas Geeza left Gofa to come here to make peace with the Italians, and
though we tried to go with him we were left behind. Then we got word that some
Amharas were going to smash Gofa and things were getting steadily worse. Then
Sunday afternoon at 4:15 the two Greeks went by on their way to Walamo. We figured
they had heard some very bad news and found out what we could. The people advised
us to get out quick so in 45 minutes we were on the way with nothing but a few
blankets, a few clothes, and two leaves of bread. We traveled until 1:30 A.M.
and then from 5 A.M. until 5 P.M., and so on. We left the Greeks behind and
come on by ourselves traveling at night and making the 8-day trip in 4 days.
It was wonderful the way the Lord gave Enid strength. She was very plucky. We found food along the road and lots of milk. In the day time we hid in the woods away from the road and made time at night. When finally we were past the last dangerous stretch and up into Walamo territory it was midnight, and we threw our blankets down and slept the sleep of the just. At daybreak we were on the way again. Animals were dead and barely moving. We sent a kid on ahead and about an hour from the station the folks me us the fresh animals. Enie had a good cry on Pog Phillips' shoulder, and I was pretty choked up myself, it was such a thrill after the strain. We got here about 4:30 P.M.
Enie was all right except that her feet were tired and her legs sunburned from lying out in the sun all day. They had a bed all set up in the operating room and led the mule right through the clinic so Enid wouldn't have to walk. Lois Briggs and Mrs. [] Roberts took charge at once and gave Enie a sponging off and got her comfortable in bed. We had a dandy supper and then READ OUR LETTERS FROM HOME. Ohman had sent half our mail off to Gofa, but as I had predicted, the postman had not left yet and so we got all our mail. We read for a while and then to be to sleep……..
Enid is O K this A.M. what with breakfast in bed and letters to read, and more due by plane this morning. Haven't seen an airplane yet. Coming in yesterday we saw a truck, and I hollered like a kid at Enid "Enie, Enie, there goes a truck". Met a Lieutenant and Captain and Major yesterday. Everything is very quiet here.
When we planned to leave Gofa with Geeza we had all our needs packed in boxes. When we actually left we could take nothing with us. We'll get along OK though. I do not think it is very wise to send things to us unless by first class post. Soon we will be able to get things from Addis. In the meantime the folks here are doing well by us and we are getting along well. Enid has….here is the plane…so long….
Enid and Mal
24 Feb 1937 (Mal, more detail on flight)
Soddu, Galla Sidamo
Feb. 24, 1937
Dear family and friends:
We arrived here from Gofa last Thursday and on Friday
sent out a note airmail to our families telling of our safe arrival in Italian
occupied territory. We couldn't write very much for it was early next morning
and the plane came flying over and we [] had to quit and sign our letters
in a hurry. Now, however, we have some hopes of getting letters to and from
you all even though there is no regular mail service as yet. The Italians got
in here four weeks ago today but we have had mail only once in that time and
that was not all the letters that are awaiting us in Addis Ababa. No supplies
have come through as yet but we have hopes of getting some soon.
Best news of all is that though workers are not allowed to leave Addis Ababa, we are allowed to remain here and have hopes of reoccupying the at present abandoned stations. We expect to go to Gofa as soon as the Italians occupy that province which they say they will do soon. Streets left for Addis by plane Monday and perhaps they are on their way home by now. It is some difference…we used to get to Addis Ababa in ten days by trek. Now we spin away in a couple of hours.
We didn't give much detail of our recent doings in the letter to our folks so will do so now, hoping to catch up on the history which hasn't been written yet. As we so often said before, things in Gofa would have been much worse were it not for Balumbera Geeza. He was more than a friend to us all through the evil days since the fall of Naile Kelassie [[??]]. Not only was he our friend but he was keeping some of the big Amharas in their places. We were trusting n the Lord and the Lord was using Geeza to keep us safe. When the word came that the Italians had entered Walamo, he felt it to be his duty to come here at once to make peace. I persuaded him to wait until more definite word came and he agreed. Next day a letter came to him asking him to come to Walamo at once. There was nothing left for us to do but go along. The two Greek traders [] were going to go. He said he was going to start on Sunday. It was on Friday morning the plans were made. We wanted to take all the goods along we could and it was some job getting it all packed in two days but we succeeded. We had no end of trouble with the negadis. But somehow when the crowd came at 4 o'clock Sunday evening we were ready. We only went for an hour to Costi's cow farm and camped there, as it was late.
Soon after dusk a letter came from Kenasmatch Afarasa saying Feturari Asfa had nearly reached Bulki and that he was going to raid the town. He, Afarasa, wanted Geeza to come back. We decided to leave about 2. A.M. and get as far toward Walamo as possible. At two A.M. Geeza called us. He said they had considered further and had decided all the foreigners should stay behind while he went on alone. When he reached Walamo he would have an airplane sent down. We objected, but the counsel of pig-hearted Costi prevailed and we were left behind. We packed the mules and went back home. All our careful preparations in leaving the house fixed for a time of abandonment had to be undone. Then, too, we were wondering what would happen next. Asfa hadn't arrived yet. His wife, Balumberas Geeza's wife's sister, came in ahead and had a long talk with Geeza's wife. In a very short time the latter picked up everything and left for a distant place where she thought she would be safe. It did not look good to us that Asfa's own sister-in-law should have to flee. Sunday we helped deliver a baby boy. We finished about 4 P.M. At 4:15 Costi and London came by with loaded carriers. We decided at once they must have heard some bad news and were headed for Walamo. Bad news for them must be bad news for us. []
They didn't want us along and as they passed wouldn't even say "hello". We decided if we had to go we must go with them. There were some hasty conversations. We decided to go. We saddled the animals, put a few blankets on the donkey, two leaves of bread and some canned goods in a bag and left. Just as we were leaving the place, a native merchant came along. He said, "Get going, you can't stay here." Costi and London tried to throw us off by telling natives to tell us that they had gone a different road or that they had not passed. But we kept on. When we met them in the valley it was dark. They were waiting for the native merchant, not for us. There are two bandit infested areas in the valley. We meant to pass them by night so kept going. By 12:30 we were past both and at 1:30 we pulled into the woods for a sleep. At dawn we were off again. This time I rode one of Costi's mules as my horse was finished. At 10 we reached Palka and stopped in the chief's house where we had native food and coffee. I left my horse there with a native and continued riding Costi's mule. At 3 we crossed the Mazi river, leaving Gofa behind. We went up an hour and again stretched out for the night.
Next morning we had gone for about an hour when everybody stopped. Just below the road about 300 yards was a big water buck. Mr. London stood right where he was and dropped the thing with one shot. The boys dropped everything to go down for the meat. Before they had finished butchering it, some were having a raw meat feast. They carried a little each and some neighbors took the rest. It was bigger than a big ox. We reached Chosho before noon. Some friends there had food ready for us and we ate. They all said it was impossible for us to go on. At Bola, Bucha capitol, they [] would kill us and in the Demi desert there were hundreds of Amharas who had refused to give up their guns and were preying on the road. From what they said it looked hopeless. Cost and London decided to return to Gofa. We didn't feel we could do so. But the soldiers there said they would not let us go on. Then the secret came out. The road was fairly good…the soldiers wanted some money to let us by. They started at 20 M.T. but we finally got by for 12. They wouldn't let the Greeks by for that, for they knew they had money. But I was riding Costi's mule and he refused to rent it to me. Finally Mr. London got him to agree to sell it to me for the price he paid…32 M.T. (M.T. is the Maria Theresa Thaler.)
We planned our campaign then and there…travel at night and sleep in the woods in the daytime. At 4:30 we were off, riding our two mules, and with us our donk with the blankets and our three boys. At 6 P.M. we left the road and lay down for a while in the woods. At ten we were on our way again. Our objective was to pass Bola before daylight. We were all somewhat tired already, including the animals. The moon set early and the road was dark. About midnight we looked back and saw lights bobbing along the road. The Chesho Amharas were after us to rob us in the dark. We get off our mules and led them hop-skip-and-jump down from the road. One boy fell over a ten-foot bank without injury. We saw him go so didn't fall. We went down over the bank and stood quietly. We could see the lights in back of us but they came no nearer. It was just a scare. Lights at night are so deceiving. We went on.
The next hours can't be written about. The Kucha road is bad enough in the daytime when a person is riding a fresh animal. At night on a tired animal it is indescribable. One boy went ahead [] feeling the road with a stick like a blind man. He stumbled; he stubbed and cut his toes, as did all the boys. Sometimes the mules couldn't get over the rocks carrying us, so we walked. Then we fell, cut our legs and crawled. The smooth stretches of road ended quickly. The rocks were endless. On place is especially bad. It is not a road…it is a broken staircase. We went down. We had to walk. The boys led the mules. We stumbled. We put one foot down only to find nothing there, so down we went. We crawled. We sat down. We said we couldn't go another step but we did. We began to wonder if we would get to Bola before daylight. The boys were thirsty. The road is on top of the ridge, hence no water. Not until we almost reached Bola did they and the animals drink. We had to wait, as we couldn't drink unboiled water unless we could get a good look at the stream. We somehow managed to pass the upper town in the dark. Nobody stirred. It was just a little light as we passed through the lower town. There we had been held up once, though we had scared the would-be robbers off and later they had been chained up by Dejaz Makenen for their work. Now would be a good chance for them to get even with us. We heard women grinding in tow different houses. An Amhara came out. He had his gun but didn't follow us. Near the end of the town another Amhara came out. He saw us, went back into the house and told the folks "foreigners". We went down over the hill as fast as we could go. We stopped at a good mountain stream to get a drink and to fill our canteens. I walked and lead the mule. Enid had lost her hell and one sole was almost off the same shoe so I had to tear it off before she could walk. The Amharas followed us to the brow of the hill but came no further. How we prayed as we went through the town! We kept going for an hour and a half and at seven A.M. [] dropped around the far side of a hill. Fortunately nobody was there to see us. We found a good place some distance from the road and stretched out our blankets. We lay in the semi-shade and ate and slept off and on. We had taken our shoes and stockings off and did not realize as the sun swung around the tree that our feet and legs were getting burned.
The day passed. Nobody saw us. When we were ready to go and put on our shoes and stockings the pain made us realize we had been burned. Enid was the most thoroughly cooked. It hurt her to walk. At dark we were on our way. Ahead of us lay the Demi river and on the other side of it the Shifta-infested wilderness. If and when we reached the far side and climbed up into Walamo territory we would be safe. Enid tried to walk a while. She turned her ankle. The sunburn hurt. We rode. We crossed the river silently. We went through the desert silently. The farther we went the more relaxed we felt. It wasn't a relaxation merely from the strain of the trip but from all the past months of uncertainty and strain. The more we relaxed, and we couldn't help it, the sleepier we got. We had almost reached the Sunday market-place. We decided it was all over. At midnight we went into a dry meadow near the road and lay down. The boys slept, we slept….as we had not for several nights. At dawn we all felt better. Enid's feet were down for. She had to ride. She couldn't walk even a little way to relieve the stiffness riding begets. The mules were tired but that is putting it mildly. There are perhaps few things more exasperating than riding a tired animal. Especially is it true when you are really going places as we were. About 8 o'clock we found some food….milk (sour but oh! How good!) and [] sweet potatoes. We rested and ate. Then we went on again. At the Thursday market place we sat down while I wrote a brief not to Mr. Ohman telling him we had arrived thus far safely but empty handed and asking him to send us some fresh animals. I sent a boy on ahead with the note.
At noon we rested under a huge sycamore tree. There is no shade in all the world like the shade of the sycamore. Milk was forthcoming at once and we and the boys had all we could drink. In addition we had native cornbread and cold sweet potatoes (ugh). It was hot and we rested long. We started out once more over that terrible Walamo plain. It was hot. It was flat and it does not know how to end. For hours the tin roofs on the station are visible but they never seem to get nearer. When we reached the Gamo-Walamo road which we were to follow for a ways we knew we were getting there. My mules was too far gone. I couldn't stand to ride it.
I led Enid's mule for a while and increase our speed some. Down the road we could see people galloping on horses. They must be our folks. Emotions are hard to write about. I choked a little. Then Peg Phillips rode up. She and I graduated from Wheaton in the same class. She and Enid were good friends there. Enid had a good cry on her shoulder. Mr. Anderson brought us some oranges from Robert's garden. Webb came along, then galloped away again to tell the folks we were arriving. There were fresh animals for us and it seemed like riding the elevated such a change was there from our own tired animals. When we were climbing the hill below the station Dr. Roberts met us with some hot tea, but it was too hot and we were in a hurry. The whole station and some Italian officers had been celebrating Ohman's wedding anniversary. They [] were all dressed up and we were not. I hadn't shaved in five days. So many foreigners…it made us awfully bashful. There were eighteen adults and six children when we arrived. The medical staff had fixed up a bed in the operating room for Enid as all the rooms in the house were occupied and the hospital rooms hadn't been fixed up yet. Doc led the mule right through the waiting room and the clinic to the operating room door. Enid got right off the mule and into bed. While the nurses, Mrs. Roberts and Lois Briggs were getting Enid fixed up, I was doing the same for myself at Ohmans. We had few clothes. Enid had stuffed some dresses and had an extra pair of shoes in the duffle bag with the blankets. I wasn't so well off but soon from here and there clothes began to come in and I got dressed.
On Sunday, mail had come from Addis by plane (just a little for each) and the morning of the day we arrived Mr. Ohman had sent half of our post to Gofa. However, the postman hadn't left and so we get all our post. We didn't read very much that night as we were dead tired. Mrs. Ohman sent over a dandy supper for us (Mrs. Roberts contributed, too) and Peg ate with us as she had missed the late lunch due to going to mee us.
Next day we moved into a hospital room. Monday morning Streets moved to Addis and U.S.A by plane. Phillips and Fersbergs moved into the big nurses' home in which they had been living. We are getting along fine. Enid's sore legs have healed and she is getting around as usual. Planes come almost every day but still no mail. The folks in Addis are trying to get things to us, but nothing has arrived yet. However we can't expect the army to have everything organized in a month so as to bring in mail and [] supplies. The commander here says there will be supplies in soon. Miss Bray and the Cousers will be leaving soon by plane for Addis. Cousers are to go home for furlough.
As soon as the army gets things in Gofa settled (they haven't gone yet) Andersons will be going back. After that we will be returning. We don't know what will happen to our goods or houses but can do nothing about it now. We believe the Lord will permit us to return there and carry on as before. We are praying that He will prepare us in this time of waiting for a greater work than ever. So far only letters from our folks have come through. As soon as we get letters from others we will answer. We have had very good intentions during the past months (9 of them) but there has been no way of writing, or rather sending letters. Many folks have sent money to us and we will write to them all as soon as possible. We appreciate beyond anything we can express your prayers and gifts and trust that all will be used only for the glory of the Lord.
Very sincerely yours,
24 March 1937 (Enid to MNK after 9 months silence, arr. Soddu 18 Feb, pregnancy, etc.; envelope with date of 25/3/37 from Soddu with Italian occupation stamps [Eritrea and Etiopia])
Soddu, Galla e Sidamo [[??]]
March 24, 1937
At last I'm sitting down to write you again. After 9
(?) months! Just last week we received your April 8th, and May 29th letters
- getting on toward a year since they were written. But we had found one from
early in Oct. waiting here when we arrived Feb. 18th. We've been a month now
able to get mail out and I'm [] just getting started writing - that's bad!
I'm sure you must have written since then and in between times, but it was one of Mother's held up letters that told us about Uncle Cliff's death. How terribly you ally must miss him. I know it is so hard to understand just why loved ones are taken. We being so finite can never understand all the workings of the Infinite and Almighty God, but in eternity we shall come to know that it was all done in great wisdom and loving tenderness. Our part is just to trust Him - even in times like this, when it seems harder than ever. I'm not preaching, but I know you all must be wondering about the future and how you'll ever carry on in this hard old money-eating world. I can't give any money-making advice, but I do know that as we put the Lord first in our lives He honors, and blesses, and provides, even though that provision is not a rich man's palace. But above all He gives joy and eternal happiness. Is he not such a loving Father as to even for love of us give His Only Son to die that we might be redeemed from Satan and eternal hell - which we rightfully deserve for our sin and disobedience unto God? He knows, He cares, He understands - eve though separation and death must come for each one of us.
So much has happened during all the silent months, I don't know where to start. We kept on with meetings, school, etc. up until the time we had to run, Feb. 14th. But during that time we were forbidden by the Kenaz. left in charge to be out preaching. It all had to be done to those who came to us. They accused us of spreading Italian propaganda! However, after the soldiers came back in September, things weren't quite so peaceful. We personally weren't touched, but there were robberies, murders, and all sorts of [] outrages on all sides of us. We heard shooting practically every night and it left us pretty uneasy. You hear about our coming to Soddu to get my appendix removed and then after we get home again, Andersons had to come up for the same purpose so from November to when we ran in February we were alone. When Geeza left to make peace with the Italians, things looked blacker and blacker for us. Threats were made about taking our goods, killing us, etc., until we had to leave on half an hour's notice. However, you can read about that in the carbon I'm enclosing of Mal's account. Since then, we've heard that our place was broken into just a couple of days or maybe sooner after we left, and now there isn't as much as a piece of paper left of all our belongings. And not only ours, but also Anderson's and Davison's stuff - (the latter left on furlough before we went to Gofa.) The clinic was burned down when they were hunting goods in there with a native torch. Two Feterauris and their men did most of the dirty work, although our neighbors pitched in, once the party started. Good old mob spirit. Our old postman coming up from there says they have torn down several of the buildings and all the fences for firewood and there probably won't be even the houses left if the Italians don't get there pretty soon. Stables and storehouses went first.
You must have heard by now about our expectations for the last of May or June 1st. Just a bit over two months to go now. We're pretty tickled over prospects. Because the little one was six months on the way was why that trip was so hard on me especially, but there seems to be no bad consequences. Doc says everything OK. I had done a lot of sewing in Gofa and had things pretty well set, but all that stuff got left behind and I was pretty dismayed as to [] what baby would find to wear. However, I ordered a few things from Addis and folks up there have sent more than generous contributions, so once more we're all set, -- when I get some sewing done. For our own clothes - folks here contributed and then a package that we had ordered from Montgomery-Ward about a year ago, arrived to supply these things that Mal especially was in need of. It had shoes for both of us, which were most needed.
About all the possessions that are gone, we try to forget it. "Take the spoiling of your goods joyfully." We have plenty to keep us going here now - people aren't fussy about styles in Ethiopia, and we're thankful to be alive and among friends. We're keeping house with Phillips and having a lot of fun doing it.
Mal wrote about probably being able to go back and carry on the work. More recent word seems to contradict that. The government wants all the Mission property and has already evaluated that in Addis. We're expecting the same here any day. With rents being refused, it is just a polite way of saying "goodbye". There may be some way to stay, but if not, most any day we may be starting for home. All is uncertainty, but possibly baby will be born in the States, or Addis, or who knows maybe here. Our Mission is looking ever a new field in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, and after a year "furlough" it may possibly be we'll go there. However, it is all as He leads. Meanwhile we go trusting from day to day. It is not ours to know the future now.
To answer a few questions from these old letters: M.T. stands for Marie Teresa Thaler which is an Austrian coin which was the basis of exchange in this country. Approximately three M.T. dollars to and American dollar. However, now all is lira. Surage province is just south of Addis on the Walamo road. I haven't seen any edible nuts in this country. Natives smoke profusely, but don't think cigarettes are nice. Natives get news just by word of mouth, although Naile Selassie [[??]] put out a sort of newspaper in Addis when he was there that the big men subscribed to. Most of the "native news" is exaggerated, if true at all, and has to be taken with ten grains of salt.
It's supper time and I must stop. Suppose I could write a lot more, but maybe I'll be telling you all before too long.
Loads of love,
Enid and Mal.
Dr. and Mrs. Roberts and Lois Briggs had fixed up the only room available on the station. As soon as I explained to Dr. Roberts that Enid could not walk, he reached out and grabbed her mule's bridle, led her down the path to the hospital, and through the door of the operating room that was to be our quarters. We slid her out of the saddle and onto the table. Then the mule was led out, and Enid transferred to a bed that was waiting for her. After everybody had gone, Enid and I looked at each other as we thought of the past ten months and the five days we had just lived through. We were grateful.
As far as money and clothing were concerned, the Soddu missionaries were no better off than we. They, too, had sold most of their clothes for needed cash; nevertheless, in a few moments clothing began to arrive [] for us. There were willing hands to help Enid get cleaned up and comfortable. It was good to eat... it was good to rest... it was good to be clean ... it was good to be.
Italian military planes had been shuttling men and supplies weekly between Addis Ababa and Soddu. They had also brought mail for the missionaries and we eagerly opened the first letters we had received from our parents in many months. They all said the same thing. The Mission had told them we were all right, but they had had no word from us and hoped they would soon hear we were safe. Happily word would go to Addis Ababa on the next plane, and from there a cable would be sent to our loved ones through the New York office of our Mission. We would rejoice together, though at opposite ends of the earth.
Our Mission officers in Addis Ababa were now having to deal with Italians instead of Ethiopians. The news was not good. Italian military authorities informed them that all Mission property in Ethiopia would be confiscated for "political and sanitary reasons." We were not told we had to leave the country -- the Italians merely made it impossible for us to stay. Some of our number, crowded onto Soddu Station, were due for furlough and almost all of us needed one. It would be a long walk to the capital but nobody need walk. The Italians would be only too happy to take us by air. Enid and I decided to arrange for an early departure.
At Soddu we met the Cousers, who, with their fellow workers, had been in hiding eight months with the Gudeila tribe. A small group of Christians had come into being through their preaching and two of them had reached Soddu with the Cousers. Every day they sat with Norman under a tree in the Roberts's yard, translating the Gospel of Mark.
There were difficulties to overcome other than mere words, for though Norman tried to concentrate his thoughts wandered. Would the Italians allow the book to be printed in Ethiopia? Or if it were printed abroad, would the Italians let it into the country? If the military authorities were arranging for our expulsion, what might they not do to the Ethiopian Christians? One day Norman closed his manuscript for which there seemed to be no future. Tomorrow the plane would come for him. What last word was there to say to his Gudeila helpers?
"Sometimes the Lord removes our fathers from us so that we ourselves may become strong," he began. "We are leaving you but the Lord will be here. Preach the message of salvation to your people. We will never forget you and we will pray for you."
Ethiopians seldom lack for words but Norman's friends found that theirs had flown. []
"If God wills, we will return to our homes and preach to the people," they said feelingly. "We will not forget. If God wills, you will come back to us again."
There was little to say at the air field; the real farewells were going on under white and black skins. The missionaries were going home but here they seemed to be leaving home forever.
When it was our turn to go, we said our farewells to our faithful boys and took our places on the bomb-racks of the Italian Air Force plane. As it rose in flight, we looked down at the airstrip until everyone was swallowed up in the distance.
05 April 1937 (from Addis, ready to return to USA)
Addis Ababa, A.S.I.
April 5, 1937.
Dearest Mommie [[??]] and all:
We're going to be seeing you soon!! Did you ever expect
to see your children in 3½ years after they left you?
We're now in Addis on our way home. Arrived here by Italian plane just last Wednesday - March 31st. And now with Selma's help and the advice of others around here I'm quickly getting three new dresses made, and Addis shops are fixing up the rest of our needs so that we're planning to leave here Friday, April 9th. We now planned we'll be arriving in New York via S.S. Rex [[??]] May 7th!! If these plans don't work, you'll be hearing. Will probably cable from Naples.
So you'll be having your granddaughter born under you wing after all. Doc Roberts advised our quickly getting home for the birth since it seems that all will be leaving before too long. We're expecting the others in from Soddu and Jimma by truck any time now. []
I just hope you're not all out in Montana or someplace. We'll be wanting to see all of you. (Maybe we'll see you in N.Y.? Maybe Chi? Maybe Milwaukee?)
We're both well. It's only the expected birth that is rushing us home. It's easier traveling now than, say, with a one month old baby!
Enough for now - lots of love,
Enid and Mal.
From our fellow missionaries in Addis Ababa we learned more about events of the past horrible year. At first, those who had been in the capital at the time of its fall had been in great danger, but the interval between governments had been short and order was restored. Enid and I asked about the prospects of work in the Sudan. The directors of our Mission, we were told, had visited Khartoum and had made a trip up the Blue Nile to a group of unevangelized tribes along the Ethiopian border. We had a vague feeling that it might be the place for us in the future, but we were not quite ready to think about it seriously. Not now, at least, for our furlough had begun.
At the railroad station we had another funereal farewell and when the Addis Ababa-Djibouti express train of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway chugged out, our feelings were confused. We were happy at the prospect of going home to America in time to welcome our firstborn but this was more than tempered by the almost certain knowledge that we would never see our Ethiopian "babies" again. We stared out of the window at the landscape that was slipping away from us.
"It's like winding up and unwinding again," I said.
My remark puzzled Enid.
"When we came into this country," I explained, "we wound everything up on a string -- the smell of eucalyptus trees and fires, frying onions, red pepper and spices, the sight of typical Ethiopian houses and dress. Now we are leaving it, sort of unwinding the reel. When we get to Djibouti we will have lost it all."
In almost every town an Italian-style concentration camp had been set up near the railway station. Uncooperative Ethiopians or patriots were herded behind the high barbed-wire fences where Italian soldiers, in their ill-fitting uniforms and oversized shoes, stood guard. Eventually the Italians would reach Gamo and Gofa. How many of our friends would end up in stockades like these? []
Our thoughts jumped ahead and jumped back again as the train carried us steadily down toward Djibouti. This was the end -- or was it? We had decided that nothing could ever dislodge the Italians from Ethiopia, but suddenly we realized how foolish all our pessimism was. Of course we had left our Ethiopians behind. But we knew God was there tool
10 April 1937 (on the way home; notification from SIM office)Sudan Interior Mission
Mission Home and Office
Brooklyn, New York
April 10, 1937
Mr. And Mrs. I.C. Miller
Dear Mr. And Mrs. Miller:
A cable has just been received from our Addis Ababa office
asking that funds for the homecoming of Mr. And Mrs. Malcolm I. Forsberg be
sent to the coast port. We take from this that they are ready to proceed on
furlough as soon as there is the necessary financial prevision. Inasmuch as
the Italian authorities will not permit any but very small amounts of money
to be taken out of Ethiopia it is necessary for us to send funds to the coast
port. We shall be pleased to forward immediately any amounts received here for
this purpose and also to keep you advised of any further movements on the []
part of the Forsbergs.
In view of the fact that the seriousness of the situation is rapidly increasing in Ethiopia we are asking for special prayer that God's people will rise to this emergency and will be generous in their response.
C. Gordon Beachem
[EPILOGUE - - ]
AS WE sailed up The Narrows in the warm May sunshine the entrancing Manhattan skyline gradually came into focus. A little group of Americans on the foredeck began to clap and we hustled toward them to see what was happening. There, just off portside, was the Statue of Liberty, holding her torch high.
Two of Enid's college friends were waiting on the pier. The emotional reunion was reminiscent of college days. Then Jean and Peg stepped back and gave Enid a long look, taking in her borrowed hat and ill-fitting coat.
"I'm going with the girls," Enid said hurriedly, as they disappeared in the direction of the taxis.
Two hours later at the Mission home, a new, smiling Enid appeared. Jean and Peg had outfitted her completely from head to foot.
In Addis Ababa I had seen some beautiful men's suits in the shops recently opened by Italian merchants. Since they were on sale for only sixteen dollars -- I figured the same suit would cost me forty dollars in New York -- I had decided to buy one. But I had not been in New York long before my self-consciousness grew and I realized that my Addis Ababa suit was not worth forty dollars and that I was not as well dressed as I had anticipated. I was beginning to adjust.
Our hostess in New York, knowing something of our ordeal, fed us bountifully on roast beef, potatoes, a never-ending variety of vegetables, and easy-to-eat desserts. But when she was not looking we slipped out to the corner grocery store to buy celery and saltines. The next day we smuggled some apples into our room. It was unnecessary to hide them there; they did not last that long. We did not want our hostess to think us unappreciative but we had missed some things more than roast beef.
Much as we liked New York -- on a short-term basis -- there were good [] reasons for us to move on. Soon there would be three of us, and Enid's family in Milwaukee, who had spent ten anxious months waiting for word of our safety, was becoming impatient. My own family, in Tacoma, would have to wait a little longer.
"Won't it be wonderful to go to church!" Enid sighed blissfully that first Sunday in Milwaukee. "I've been looking forward to it so much."
At this remark, her mother seemed troubled. Enid should know better than to appear in public in her condition. During our stay in Africa we had come to accept the fact that an expectant mother went about as usual until labor pains began. We went to church anyway.
The service began the way we had hoped, with the singing of the doxology. How we would enjoy this! As the first notes sounded from the organ we rose with the congregation and began to sing with them: "Praise God from whom all..." I stopped and reached for my handkerchief. I had not been prepared for this, and hoped the people around me would think I had a cold. Enid had stopped singing, too, and was wiping her eyes. Several months later I was to hear and fully understand the sage words of Harry Stam, who spent many years in the Congo:
"When I have been home on furlough and wonder about my fitness to return to the field, I always know I am emotionally ready if I can hear the doxology sung in the morning service and join in myself without crying."
We had to make arrangements for Enid's care during her confinement. Prospective parents do not usually wait until the baby is eight months along before consulting a doctor or making a hospital reservation, but that is what we had had to do. The doctor was willing to help us but the Milwaukee Hospital was booked for the month of June. However, the director kindly offered to admit Enid as a "house case" and made arrangements for one of their finest doctors to take care of her.
Our baby was born early on the morning of June 5, 1937. Enid had a girl's name -- Dorothy June -- all picked out, so certain were we, but things seldom work out as planned. We searched for another name. Leigh Hunt had written a favorite poem of mine, "Abou ben Adhem." I was not interested in calling my firstborn Abou but the name Leigh intrigued me. Besides, it would be easy for Africans to pronounce. So Leigh it was.
With the arrival of our son, the need to make a trip to the courthouse for an opinion on the validity of our marriage became most urgent. We had a beautiful rose-covered certificate signed by the minister, the Reverend Harold B. Street, and witnessed by Dr. and Mrs. Percy Roberts, [] but there was nothing to indicate that any branch of local government had issued a license. Two years had elapsed after our wedding before we reached Addis Ababa, and by then the Ethiopian government had yielded to the Italians. The American Legation had closed; in fact, the staff had traveled to Djibouti on the same train that carried us. There had been no opportunity to discuss the matter with anyone.
One day I finally made my way to the Milwaukee County Courthouse and approached the desk marked "Marriage Licenses." Behind it stood a well-proportioned man, puffing on a cigar. I felt ill at ease as I began my long involved story --
"Ethiopia ... wedding ... expulsion. . . ."
As I spoke, I slowly pulled the preacher's certificate out of my pocket and pushed it toward the clerk. It told him the story.
"Thunder and lightning, man!" he exploded. "You ain't married!"
We were quite certain we were, but we realized it would be better to have our marriage recognized by some branch of government.
Most of our furlough was spent in Dallas, Texas, where I studied at the Dallas Theological Seminary. As the spring of 1938 drew near, we went to see Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, president of the Seminary.
"We would like you to marry us," we said.
He had rightly understood that I was one of the married students. In fact, with our son, we had had dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Chafer in their home. When we explained our difficulties, he chuckled.
"Of course I'll marry you," he agreed.
Another courthouse trip was necessary. I wrote out our names as though we had never been married, and I paid the fee -- for the first time -- and took the license home. On March 14, 1938, the third anniversary of our marriage, we went to Dr. Chafer's office. Our friends John and Dorothy Kopp stood up with us and so did Leigh, now nine months old. The Kopps also were from Washington State and had one child. We had been doing things together during our months in the seminary.
Dr. Chafer did not ask us to love, honor, and obey. He merely had us reaffirm the vows we had previously taken in Ethiopia.
At last we were marriedl
//to be continued//