Letters from Rwanguba – October 17, 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. Thank God for the wonders of communication and especially the global mail system! Here’s the third letter.

Rwanguba, Zaire
October 17, 1985

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, today is mail day, meaning the plane is expected into Goma about 11 a.m. from Nairobi. One of the missionaries here at Rwanguba took off to Goma on his motorcycle to meet the plane, both to take mail out and to pick up the incoming mail. His father back in Minnesota recently had heart surgery, so he’s eager for news from home. The only disadvantage in going by motorcycle is that he can’t bring back packages. BUT, we are just happy he’s willing to bring back letters.

This week has been fuller than usual because of several things. A missionary from Rwanda came down with a severe case of malaria, so Jim C and John P drove to Goma in the jeep and brought back the patient on Saturday evening. His kidneys had nearly shut down, and they had to get IV’s going and quinine started. Any medical people who were wiling helped keep a vigil over him at the C’s house. He’s doing much better now but is still not out of bed yet. On top of that even, his wife is 8 months pregnant and still at their QTH in Rwanda. So I contact her twice a day via shortwave radio to give her progress reports on her husband.

Our First Year at Rwanguba
Our First Year at Rwanguba

The other thing that happened was a very large shipment of medicines from Compassion International arrived of all days on Sunday morning at 5 a.m. Three truckloads of stuff had to be unloaded immediately, which was impossible because one of the trucks got stuck in the mud and knocked out a power line. Our house was unaffected because we’re on a different line, and since I had put a large roast in the over for Sunday dinner, we took our food to the C’s house to help out. All the men on the station unloaded the trucks, got the stuck truck out of the mud and eventually fixed the power line. We figured that setting up a human chain to unload was the best way; therefore, each person ended up handling all the medicines, more than two tons worth! The great thing is these medicines should supply the hospital for about two years. Even the shipping was paid by the organization. The director is supposed to visit our hospital next week. His concern is that the medicines be used in cooperation with evangelical works.

One side benefit of this particular day was the entire station worked together, side by side, with some of us fixing food, some taking care of the malaria patient, some watching the children, and all the men busy outside. It was good for unifying us. Judy C and I had a good chance to get to know each other, and we had to laugh because she said that their family had been wanting to have us over for dinner, but they weren’t planning for us to bring our own food. In addition to two older kids, she has a two-month-old baby, so she’s got her hands full.

We had our second ladies Bible study in Swahili this week, at our house. I see great potential there. When the leader chose to discuss Psalm 23, both Sue and I found it easy to follow along since it’s a well-known chapter. That prompted us to ask if we could choose the chapter to be studied a week in advance so we can look up all the new vocabulary, and the ladies agreed. So next week, we’ll be studying I Corinthians 13, the love chapter. While it’s impossible to do a word-for-word translation, I always find it interesting to see how ideas are expressed in another language. It’s like reading it for the first time.

We’re feeling the aftermath of the unrest in our neighboring country. Because of all the looting and violence there, trucks have ceased their regularly runs across to Kenya for gas and other supplies. Gas has suddenly tripled in prices, making it $8 per liter! We have a full barrel (about 3 tanks) in reserve, but that won’t last long. To conserve, we’re having the kids walk to and from school every day now, but they’re not complaining. Guess that should be no surprise as kids have walked great distances to school for generations. Our have to walk only 3 miles per day (round trip.) We’re wondering if the MAF planes will be affected by the gas hike. Thank you for praying for these needs at this time. I just learned that as of yesterday, the price is down to $4 per liter.

October 19, 1985 – Saturday

We got mail! It included a birthday card from you for Rebekah. She was delighted with the stickers; wish you could have heard the oohs and aahs. Thank you also for the balloons. Yesterday, John made a trip to Goma to bring back an order of medicines so he also brought back packages for missionaries. We received two from you. Thank you so much! That is so thoughtful. Now we’ll have something to look forward to. Since the customs people removed the Christmas wrapping, I went ahead and tried on the sandals. Wow – they sure are comfortable. I rewrapped them and will not wear them until after Christmas. Such restraint, eh. They will be nice for walking on our rough Rwanguba trails.

We also received a letter from an organization called Northwest Missionary Haven in Redmond, WA, indicating they would help us find furlough housing. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place waiting for us when we get there? They said they would pray with us for a place convenient to our church.

Our friend Dave R fixed a new antenna for me so I can talk to the Nyankunde mission station on the MAF frequency. When I tested the antenna yesterday, I talked to a pilot in the air and also to the ground station. Lots of fun. Maybe all those times you thrust the mike into my hand are paying off, Dad. : )

Love, Norma for Lee + 3
Thank you for traveling back to 1985 with me today. I’m thankful for you, Dear Reader. Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on November 22, 2016

9 thoughts on “Letters from Rwanguba – October 17, 1985

  1. Isn’t is fun to remember past days! The sad thing is that emails don’t get saved like letters did. Happy Thanksgiving Norma and Lee!!

      1. Thanks for your comments, Teresa. It’s probably a good thing we don’t save all our emails (and texts) because we’d be overwhelmed by the volume and would probably never get around to rereading them. I hope you and yours will have a heartwarming Thanksgiving. God is good!

  2. Wow, what a blast from the past. More than 30 years ago! You’re right about how we can’t meaningfully save everything, but it sure can be interesting to come across something that takes you back. Glad your mom saved those letters, Norma.

  3. Thank you for sharing this treasure of a letter. It allowed me to see a side of you I did not even know existed. What an amazing journey your mission work must have been. I’ve seen one snippet, and am inspired!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s