Feb. 20, 1921
Luebo, Congo Belge, Africa
Just a few lines to let you know that we have reached the end of our journey and are now getting settled in our home here at Luebo. We arrived at this place on the 10th of this month. The last stage of our trip was made on our own steamer, the S.S. "Lapsley" [Also see story of building the Lapsley –Ed.] from Kinshasa (also called Stanley Pool as it is situated on Stanley pool) to Luebo on the rivers. This trip took us eighteen days, although ordinarily it takes only about twelve days, the extra time we took being occasioned by alterations made on the steamer; then too, our steamer does not run on Sundays so that our crew can observe the Sabbath. This part of our trip was very pleasant and interesting, as the scenery is beautiful and always changing, and just at this season, every -thing is fresh and green as this is the midst of the rainy season. We saw a few animals as we carne along, a number of hippopotamuses, a few crocodiles, monkeys, and a number of various herons and cranes.
On our arrival at the beach at Luebo, there were about fifteen hundred natives waiting to welcome us, as they had heard when we were expected, and as our boat drew near, they all began to sing a hymn. The coming of the "Lapsley" with new missionaries is always a great event here at Luebo; there were five new missionaries and one returning in our party. Of course, the missionaries here at Luebo station were very glad to see us, for there were six here doing the work of ten or twelve. That night we all gathered together for a special service of Thanksgiving.
We would like to give you a picture of our station, for it is a beautiful place, the grounds well laid off with well-kept paths or walks, a number of beautiful palms are scattered about over the grounds, also many mango trees which make an attractive addition to our grounds and also make splendid shade trees which also furnish us with their fruit. We now have replaced most of our old mud dwellings with comfortable brick houses. Our compound is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the valley and the Lulua River, and the view is always a pleasing one. We are about a thousand feet above sea level. Around us on the two sides of our compound and at the back is the native village, all laid off in order according to our American ideal, this having been done by our missionaries and the natives are glad to follow the plan, so instead of finding the native houses grouped about in confusion, you will find them all properly placed according to streets and blocks. Part of what is called Luebo is on one side of the river and part on the other; on our side there are something over ten thousand natives, and a little less than that number on the other side; so we have here at Luebo quite a large number of natives. When our mission was first established here there were less than a hundred natives in the immediate vicinity, but they soon began to gather around the mission until we soon had quite a village and now a large city. Of course the natives here at Luebo are a very small per cent of those whom we reach, for the largest part of
our work as regards numbers is in our outstations where we have placed native evangelists.
Luebo is our largest station and our headquarters for our mission; there are now four other stations, that is places where we have missionaries, the other stations are: Mutoto, Lusambo, Bulape, and Bibanga. Here at Luebo we have our Industrial Training School where we have about seventy-five boys learning various industrial arts, such as carpentering, brick masonry, tailoring, shoemaking, and others. This has grown to be quite an important as well as large department. Then we have our printing plant here in which we print all our own school literature and also quite a lot of other work both for ourselves and for others, as we have over 20,000 pupils in our day schools, you can see what it means to print school material to supply them. The hospital here has grown to be one of the largest in the Congo, but the equipment and medicines were practically all lost in a recent fire which destroyed the roof and the interior woodwork; this was quite a severe blow to us but we hope to have the loss replaced in the near future, at least the medicine which we need very badly. The exterior of the hospital, which was of brick, is in good shape and leaves us in position to rebuild with little delay. The Mission Treasurer, the business man of the entire station, is situated here. We also have a farm here where we raise most of our own vegetables and fruit; pineapples as fine as can be found anywhere, bananas, plantains, pais-pais (a native fruit and very delicious), and some other native products.
The house in which we are living at present is a brick building, well built and arranged, with a grass roof and double wood ceiling which make it quite comfortable. The floors are of wood and walls are plastered, the doors and windows the same as you have there except that we are at present using wooden shutters until the glass arrives for the windows and which we expect soon; however, the wooden shutters are satisfactory as we keep the house open during the day. The rooms are as follows: one large sitting room, one dining room of good size, one good sized bedroom, a clothes closet for the bedroom and a nice pantry for the dining room, a small hall connecting the bedroom, bathroom and
back porch; this is the main house, then the kitchen and store room are built about twelve feet back of the house and connected by and with the back porch. There is a large veranda around three sides of the house. The furniture was made in our Industrial School here, but could do credit to a European factory, and we have found a tree here that makes splendid lumber for furniture, light red ,something like cedar and it takes a good polish.
B.M's work was already assigned to him before he arrived as he has already been out here one term. He is Station Treasurer which includes the keeping of the books for Luebo station, paying all local employees, and other like financial matters connected with the station; then he also has charge of the Printing Office. Dorothy has of course not taken up much regular work as it will take her a few months to learn enough of the language to take up regular work. However, she has already taken up some work in connection with the children of the missionaries as there are five here at Luebo station; so she has arranged to have a kindergarten while the mothers are at school. A part of Dorothy's time is spent in studying the language; as we had lessons on the way out, she already has a start. A person can get a fairly good hold on the language in about six months, although it takes two or three years to use it freely; several of our missionaries have begun preaching in the native tongue after six month's study. While it is more regular and complete than one would expect for these people, still you can see from the above that it is not difficult to learn.
This letter is not complete, as there are numbers of things we could write about, but we just want to let you know that we arrived safe and sound and are getting along fine. Then, too, we are quite busy, Dorothy is getting the house in order as there are many things to do in beginning housekeeping; and B.M. is busy getting started in his work. The days never seem long enough. But if there is anything any of you would care to know about our work, the people or the country, we shall be glad to write you. And as mail time comes only about once a month, we shall always be looking forward to letters, and you may rest assured that your letters will be appreciated. So let us hear from you as often as you can.
With best wishes and love to you all.
B.M. and Dot
This is just a copy of a letter we are sending to some of our friends, and thought you might be interested. I'm sorry we can't write you a personal letter this mail, but the boat leaves in about an hour.