Letters from Rwanguba – October 11, 1985

My mom saved my letters written from Rwanguba, DRC (known to us as Zaire), starting in 1985, about a year after we moved to the mountain village. I typed most of my letters because it was faster, and as I retype them here, I’d really like to reword them, but I’ll try to resist. Here’s the second letter.

Daniel was a talented jack-of-all-trades from France who boarded with our family in Rwanguba.
Daniel was a talented jack-of-all-trades from France who boarded with our family in Rwanguba.

Rwanguba, October 11, 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hi. How are you doing this week? We’re expecting mail tonight, but I have a chance to send this letter to Goma today, so I’m writing now. We’ve enclosed another change of address for our personal mailing list, for Jud and Betsy P. I don’t remember if you met them when you visited us in the Philippines. Jud looks a little like William Bendix to me. Now they’ve moved to Japan.

How is your autumn shaping up? Hope you’re getting to spend time with friends and family that you enjoy. That’s refreshes us, too, and helps give us perspective. Last night, we played UNO with a young couple who are short-term workers here for one year. They are both eager to help out where needed – nothing is “below” their talents! – so we find them an encouragement. They taught us some new rules to UNO that we’d never before played, which makes the game go a lot faster. Matt and Laurie and Daniel (our French boarder) played with us, too, which added to the fun, and confusion. Lots of laughter.

Well, we had our first ladies’ Bible study this week, in SWAHILI. I had prepared a short devotional on Romans 1:8-12, mainly to say that we hoped this study would help us to encourage one another. Believe me, I got tongue-tied a few times. But the ladies were gracious and helped me out. When I asked for a volunteer to lead the study next week, one lady raised her hand without even hesitating. Guess it was evident that I’d already stretched my Swahili to the limit with a short devotional! By the way, at the time the study was supposed to begin, we had a violent thunder and lightning storm, so Sue and I just about gave up on anyone coming, but then 3 ladies showed up after all. Just to encourage us. : ) Next week will be easier for all, I hope.

Not everyone in Rwanguba can afford a Bible.
Not everyone in Rwanguba can afford a Bible.

We’re having our share of hospitality. This week, we had Mrs. Tudy K and Leah B come to lunch and breakfast, then we’re having Ann J and her visiting sister Nancy at supper, and the tomorrow noon we’re having 5 missionaries who are coming from Goma for the noon meal. Never lets up. Sometimes I get tired of meal-planning, etc., because we don’t have convenience foods to shorten the preparation time. So I’ve taught our cook helper to make desserts, soups, meat, and of course he peels vegetables and does dishes. We often have 10-12 around the table. We have one table that seats 8 and can add a side table to stretch to 10. For more, we set up another table in the living room. Nice once in a while, but it’s hard to get anything else done if we’re having company. I never thought I’d be able to relax enough to sew or study Swahili knowing that 6 guests are coming in an hour, but that’s the way things are. I’d welcome any easy recipes you have for large groups, Mom. For the present, I can’t get spaghetti or macaroni noodles, so that’s out. Also, I’m low on cheese so no pizza or cheeseburger pie. Guess we can always eat meat and potatoes and vegetables. That’s way more than our African neighbors have…

We’re currently in the midst of another little problem. Because of the political takeover going on in Uganda, we’ve been unable to guy gas for several weeks. Rwanda doesn’t have any either because no one’s willing to drive across Uganda to Kenya to get it. Soooo, we’re rationing what we have left and praying the situation will get better soon. Thanks for praying, too. Lots of love, Norma for Lee + 3

~ ~ ~
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading!

Posted on May 10, 2016

15 thoughts on “Letters from Rwanguba – October 11, 1985

  1. Very interesting life! I can’t imagine cooking for that many people with limited supplies of food, and so often! You were a wonder! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Your loyalty means a lot to me. You know how it is – you do what you have to do – and God gives you energy. Thanks for commenting, Anita.

  2. Norma, Reading this letter made me feel the same as when I read Walter Lord’s book, Lonely Vigil. The circumstances were different but people doing a job with few resources. Simple food items not available. In the late 1980’s I lived on Nevis in the Leeward Islands. When we were younger, if told what we would be doing someday, wouldn’t have believed it.
    Bill Hyler

    1. What in the world were you doing in the Leeward Islands, Bill? What you said about life is so true – that if someone had told us when we were kids what we’d be doing someday, we wouldn’t have believed it. Thanks for reading!

  3. I thank you so much dear mum Norma,am the fourth son of Athanase Rukira and Antoinette,am happy to learn RWANKUBA’s history before my born.haaa.thank u so much

    1. Jambo, Bryan! It’s nice to hear from someone who knows Rwanguba. Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting in English. 🙂

  4. I would wish find more of pictures before the war in 1996,I want to write a book about RWANKUBA’S HISTORY,if you could help me with those pictures.

    1. I might be able to give you some pictures, Bryan. Which photos would interest you the most – housing, the hospital, Bible Institute, or people?

  5. My heart is full of joy when I read you dear mum Norma Nill.
    As I told you,I was born at RWANGUBA In October 27th,1996 in KABILA’s war,when he pushed Mobutu.
    From my mum Antoinette Seburo,she told me that bombs and weapons sounded upon they heads,and it was so sad to run with the pregnancy,….etc
    And now when AFDL(KABILA MOVEMENT) arrived at RWANGUBA,they had destroyed missionnaries’s houses,like DORMITORY,the house above hospital where you lived,JIM Camp house,and primary and secondary school,Deborah’s house…

    1. The war must have been horrific. I’m sorry your mother had to go through that. Thanks for commenting, Bryan.

  6. I am very glad to hear jambo from you,I hope you worked more in DRC(Zaire).
    My book will talk about the beginning of that village,and principally for arriving of missionnaries in RWANGUBA and so on and now I will need pictures of:
    #When you arrived for the first time in it.
    #Dormitory and all those houses on that hill.
    #Church.
    # The late(HERO)Jim Camp’s house.
    # Hospital pictures.
    #Gihira(Tribune) pictures.
    #Hélimission.
    #Primary and secondary school.
    # Bible institute.
    And what you can have about that village.Asante sana mama NORMA NILL.
    My warm greetings to Dad Nill even if he doesn’t know me but He worked with my dad RUKIRA ATHANASE GISUNZU.

  7. Thank you dear grand mom Norma Nill.
    Am the fourth child of RUKIRA Athanase and Antoinette RUKIRA.
    SEBURO HITIMANA Déo is my grand father.
    I will be happy to receive them.

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