Saturday, February 14, 2009

Congo (6) Brussels, Belgium, 10/24/2009 [MBS]


October 24, 1920

Dear Mother and Daddy:

Unfortunately good intentions alone do not write letters, for we fully intended to get this letter off yesterday. However, we are really kept pretty busy with our studies and with other distractions that always manage to come just at the wrong moment – such as our going out to tea yesterday afternoon, being vaccinated Monday afternoon, seeing the big parade Thursday, etc. Then I have my French lesson at 8:30 to 9:30 P.M. So with the studying our time is pretty well taken up.

The Bedingers have reached London, but we do not know yet whether we shall all go out together or not. There are two single ladies with them, one being a trained nurse and the other a doctor (female M.D.). The Bedingers evidently left Martha Reid, their oldest child now about 3 ½ years, at home.

As Dorothy wrote you, Bedinger brought our two pieces of baggage over with them, the cedar chest and the box of books. This, of course, is good news to us, for you know we have some nice things in the chest. It certainly is expensive traveling with so much baggage, as the excess costs pretty heavy as well as the transferring.

Last Thursday, they had the funeral of General Leman here. He was the first prisoner taken by the Germans at Liège, although he survived the war. They made quite a big parade of it all, the soldiers-infantry, cavalry, artillery, gendarmes, bands with distinguished officers from France, Italy, and England, also automobile loads of flowers. (General Pétain of France was one attending.)

The weather has turned cold, although we have had sunshine every day and the days are beautiful. Only a few days have been unpleasant outside. While the first snap was a bit disagreeable, still since we have gotten coal and can warm up when it gets cold, we find it fine now.

As you have no doubt been reading about the coal strike in England, you know the situation. This would hardly affect our going out unless it continued a long period. It looks as though they are in for a tough time in England.

You may perhaps think that we are having quite a time here and ought to be able to write long letters, but we have quite a bit of routine and don’t get out to see much of the city. We have been to very few places of interest, although we expect to do a few of them. Then there are some American Protestant Church headquarters here that we expect to visit, too. One is the Methodist, which has a school for girls; and another is Presbyterian, which is under the auspices of the Moody Bible Institute and the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Cal. I don’t understand yet just how this is managed. They also have a school. Of course, you must realize that before the war this was virtually a Catholic country, the government being dominated by that church with almost absolute control. This is the reason we have had so much difficulty with the Roman Catholics in the Congo, because the officers there have been domineered by the church as the government was here. But this has changed to some extent, as the clergy no longer have a majority in the cabinet.

The King is “out of town,” so we have been unable to call [?] on him. He is in South America but will return next month.

A Mr. F. J. Gilliam of Va. [see also –ed.] came over with the Bedingers and is coming here to Brussels to study French for a couple of months. I understand he is to take charge of our educational work (schools) in the Congo. He will get here about Nov. 1.

Our mission has a strong friend here in Dr. Anet, one of the leading Protestant workers of Belgium. They formerly had a mission in the Congo, but were forced to abandon it after the war began. So our mission took over three of their missionaries who are now out on the field. Dr. Anet has helped us in our relations with the government, especially in getting concessions for our stations., as these must all come thru the Brussels Colonial Dept. here.

We have been going to the movies about once a week (or twice so far). Tonight is our night for getting our bath. Dorothy wrote you that we have no bath but this isn’t as bad as it sounds, for the place is nice enough and the only thing is the inconvenience of about seven minutes walk – everything furnished but soap. They evidently don’t bathe as much here as in America.

We are enclosing a few pictures taken along the way. A few of them do pretty well.

With love to all.


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