Amanuensis Monday: Perms, Driver Ants, and a Crazy Man--the Buerers in Africa 1948

My maternal grandparents start 1948 in the Belgian Congo as missionaries with no less drama than before. I've edited a lot of what my grandmother wrote and pulled out the things I find most interesting. In the first half of 1948, my grandmother talks of packages received, visits from other missionaries, and travels to Idiofa to go to the post office. She mentions several services were held and how my grandfather worked on a fellow missionary’s roof. They also realized their drinking water had become contaminated and began boiling it. She is pregnant for the fourth time.

January 11

This is my birthday. I got a set of cooky (sic) cutters and an alarm clock from the girls. Mamma sent a book of games, a box of candy and a permanent wave. Clarabelle sent a box of powdered sugar.

Harry helped me with the permanent on Wednesday. It is nice to have it but it didn't turn out extra well. On Monday two boxes came from Mamma. There were lots of gifts for the kids.

Make A Million  game from 1935. 

Make A Million game from 1935. 

Friday and Saturday evenings I went to Browers house and played “Make a Million.” Mamma wrote that Bob gave Janet Smith a diamond for Christmas.

Friday our beds finally arrived. We put up the girls’ cots and Harry made a temporary bed from crate boards for our new spring. It certainly feels good to sleep on good beds.

February 1

Monday just before noon we had a bad storm. It blew the church down flat. The roof blew off the print shop. Harry hurried to get some canvas to cover the paper but the things in the building got very wet and dirty. Soon afterward the rain stopped and the sun came out so we got all the paper spread out to dry. About four o’clock another rain came up and we had to rush to get everything under cover at the dispensary.

March 14

Lois walks by herself now.

March 28

Lois’ first birthday was Thurs. We had a cake and ice cream and she got some nice presents.

April 4

Peggy Ann learned to ride a two wheeled bicycle here. She rides very well.

April 11

We went down to the lake at Ishene Thursday afternoon. The girls had such a good time. I went in a kipoi….(Friday) evening Peggy Ann got malaria and has been pretty sick with fever and vomiting. Outside of that, we’ve been enjoying our visit.


April 18

Thursday was Nancy’s fifth birthday. We had a nice chocolate cake with white frosting covered with coconut. She got lots of gifts which she enjoyed very much.

Peggy Ann was sick again most of the week and didn't have school. I spent most of the week cleaning the house.

May 23

We sprayed the house good with DDT to try to kill the cockroaches.

June 13

I finished one maternity dress and cut out another.

June 20

Today is Peggy Ann’s seventh birthday. We had chicken and a nice birthday cake. She received many lovely gifts. We went to Idiofa for a service at 8 but only a few showed up. We were able to get our mail in Idiofa and returned for the service here.

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing. Made another dress and have a third one party done. Am still going through boxes from the storeroom.

Harry made a front seat for the car. It certainly helps a lot.

Daddy sent a Donald Duck wrist watch for each of the girls.

Peggy Ann finished Second Grade.

June 27

I’ve been giving Nancy Kindergarten every morning.

I finished another dress for myself, one for Peggy Ann, a couple sheets, a couple aprons for the girls and two kimonos for the baby, and a basket lining for the baby basket.

We had a meeting at Mpendi this afternoon. The people were very attentive.

July 4

Yesterday afternoon we went to Matende for their conference. There are 35 adults here and 22 children. It certainly is nice to see so many white people and the meals are delicious. We had roast beef for dinner today. We stopped to get Mrs. Haller on the way.

We got some snapshots back Friday. Some were taken on Lois’ birthday. They were all quite good.

Petelo came to work here the first of the month.

July 11

The autoharp came and we are learning to play it. This morning we had a service in Idiofa. There were over forty people out. We also got a couple more boxes from the post office including one from mamma with our Singspiration records. They sound real good. She also sent a nice new dress for me.


July 25

Peggy Ann had sores on her fingers that were getting awfully sore so Thursday we went to see the doctor at Idiofa. He gave us some medicine containing ether that is helping them.

August 8

Solomon the teacher’s house burned down. We went out but couldn't do anything.

We've had a lot of trouble with driver ants this week. Thursday night they got in our bed and were all over the bedroom. Friday night they were very bad, especially in the bathroom. We killed thousands of them with DDT.

This morning Harry went to Idiofa alone but the people didn't come to have a meeting.

August 15

We've been bothered all week by a crazy man who comes around two or three times a day and won’t go away. Writing to the chief doesn't do any good so now we've written the official.

I made a dress for Nancy.

Peggy Ann has had some bad sores on her fingers for some time but they are clearing up at last.

I've spent parts of three afternoons filling enough quinine capsules to take with us to Vanga.

August 22

Harry helped give me a Toni permanent yesterday.

I almost finished another dress for Nancy.

We've been getting so many eggs this week—more than we've had for a couple of years.