Luebo, August 4th, 1923
Dear Mother and Daddy:
If you will note the above date you will no doubt recall a very important event that occurred just three years ago today. And when I think about my circumstances out here five years ago, as a bachelor, the difference strikes me as that between "living" out here and having a "home." It certainly has meant a great deal in my life that the above mentioned event took place. While we shall be out here only a few more months this term, still we have had a nice little home out here in the heart of Africa.
There is a great deal to write you about this time. In fact the past month has been so full of momentous happenings that we have scarcely had much time to get a good quiet time for a letter. I have always said that one never knows what will happen in a few months out here; the unexpected so often happens.
Dorothy has written you in her last letter about Mrs. Savel's (Susie) illness. She recovered from her Black Water Fever, and was apparently doing well. She was up at our house helping us develop some picture films on Thursday night, July 5th, and was jolly and full of life, for she was always pleasant and in a happy humor. Then Friday she had fever, and Sunday she had an abscess in her throat lanced. Tuesday it seems she developed septic pneumonia; Dorothy was with her (she sent for Dorothy) Tuesday morning till about noon, and was very weak. On Wednesday morning her situation was grave, although the Dr. never gave up hope till the last. About 1:30 Wednesday at noon she passed away. It was certainly a sad experience for us all, and especially to us as she was such a companion to Dorothy. We buried her that evening, it being dark before we got through. Naturally, you may be inclined to have fears as soon as you read this, but it cannot be said that her illness and death was due to the Congo. Her own failure to take quinine had perhaps as much to do with it as anything else. It was a great blow to Mr. Savels, with a little two-year old child (nearly three, I believe), although he has stood it very bravely.
Then a few days after Susie's death Dr. Stixrud found that Mrs. Vinson had the beginnings of the sleeping sickness germs. She wasn't anything like Mrs. Kellersberger's case, for Mrs. Kelly was worn out at the same time, and was not able to travel for some weeks, while Mrs. Vinson has been up all the time. It is quite necessary to make the distinction between actual "sleeping-sickness" and having the germs. And then too, we have no record of any missionary in the last 15 or 20 years having died from it, for a number have had it and all have recovered, without exception. We heard from Mr. Wilds only last mail, and he is in good physical condition; he had this germ when he was out here the term before this last one, and seems to have no traces of it at all. Then in addition to this the doctors in Europe (Germany) have discovered a treatment that has had great results, a supply of which Dr. Stixrud received from Dr. Kellersberger only a week or so before he discovered the germs in Mrs. Vinson. Mrs. Vinson has already taken three treatments, and has already felt better. Mrs. Kellersberger took this same treatment, and seems to be well of the disease.
But that isn't all, about a week or ten days after this discovery in Mrs. Vinson, Dr. Stixrud found that he himself had the disease! ! To see the Dr. so energetic, riding around continually on his motorcycle, you would think he had anything but the disease; he said himself today, as they were leaving, that he was ashamed to go, as he looks the picture of health. As far as this germ is concerned, no one feels any uneasiness about the recovery of either of these. But of course, it is necessary for them to go to Europe at once for treatment.
The treatment in Europe lasts from a month to six weeks; it is merely an injection of this drug about once a week. Of course after this the Dr. examined the rest of us carefully, but failed to find any other signs. It is hard to tell where either of these were infected. The Dr. has been making trips all over the country, so has had plenty of opportunity to meet the Tsetse fly that carries the germ. Mrs. Vinson must have been bitten at the brick yard, which is about a mile and a half from the station, and right down about water.
The Stixruds and Vinsons left today on their way to Europe. All were in good spirits, and both Mrs. Vinson and Dr. Stixrud were moving about like the rest of us, and show no outward signs of feeling other than well. The fact is, tl,is disease is really considered more an inconvenience in causing a person to go to these specialists for treatment in Europe, than it is considered dangerous to life. As I mentioned above, we have no record of white people failing to recover in due time. Mrs. Kellersberger perhaps had a hard time because she was worn out and sick when she took it, although she seems to be doing well now.
Dr. Stixrud's going does not leave us without a doctor here at Luebo, for there is a Government doctor on the other side of the river, who can get up here in 30 or 40 minutes. Then Mrs. Morrison (no longer Miss Mary Porter) will be here until Miss Farmer comes from Bibanga. So it is only our own medical work among the natives that will suffer.
After reading this you may feel very anxious and worried about Dorothy, but I want to say, and I can say it conscientiously, that you have no reason to worry about either of us, for the Doctor examined Dorothy's blood carefully, and there was not the least sign of the germ; neither were there any symptoms in me.
I failed to add in the above paragraph that Dr. Kelly is coming to Luebo in a few months to give us all another good physical examination. Mrs. McKinnon is in rather delicate health; of course she was in this condition when she came, as she had such terrible operations at home when they removed her cancer, three or four serious operations.
We have just heard that Mr. and Mrs. Rochester are on their way back; on account of the ill-health of his wife we had given up hope of his coming, and it is a pleasant surprise to hear they are on the way, especially when as m.any furloughs will fall due this fall and the coming year.
The rest of us are working along as usual. There will be a good many going on furlough during the next six months. The Morrisons leave about the first of September; after that those who came in our party and shortly after some from Mutoto.
This letter may convey the impression that we are all very much discouraged and depressed. Of course, we have all felt the shock of Mrs. Savel's death, as well as the departure of the others, but about the latter we feel no uneasiness, and it is more the need of their help that affects us.