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August 19, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…I’ve been trying something a little different the last couple of weeks. Instead of going to an area and living with a teacher or in my own room and then getting around to as many bomas as possible in the time I have, I’ve decided to try another tack. I think that because my contact with the people is so brief it’s not allowing me to get to know anyone really well. My understanding of the people and their customs is going to remain pretty superficial also.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lived at three bomas, two to four days each, spending most of my time at the boma itself, only visiting other people in the immediate area. I have an army cot and a sleeping bag, which I carry on the back of the bike. I take a few cans of meat and my own water, since I’m not able to eat their food entirely yet and am frightened to use the water they use, often it comes from a creek that both the animals and the people use. So far this is working out well. In the evenings, the whole family gathers around the fire, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than during the day. After the first or second day, the people are more open with me, and ready to talk about their difficulties, customs, etc. At one of these bomas near Oldonyosombo, on the other side of Mount Meru, the elders and young men killed and cooked a goat in my honor. I really feel that this method is going to get me deeper into the mentality of the people – only time will tell.

Love,

Ned

June 15, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…At the present time Bourka operates five schools, which means, besides the regular expenses of books, slates, ink, etc., we are paying twelve teachers, some of whom are getting as much as $50 a month. Next week we are opening a new school. We were lucky to get an old dispensary building moved to the spot to use as the one room school house. The desks were finished on Wednesday and moved in. Today we got a bill for $60 for these desks and have no money to pay for them.

Love,

Ned

May 20, 1996

Dear Mom and Dad,

…The day before yesterday, I went to Moshi to pick up the bike. It is 250cc and blue in color . . . the country we passed on the way to Moshi was very beautiful. We traveled through what are called the Sanya plains, located between Mount Meru and Mount Moshi – saw Zebra and Wildebeast. The trip back was very slow, for the first five hundred miles I’m able to go only 30 miles an hour on the bike. I’m being very careful about this, since I’m told the breaking in period is critical and will determine the level of performance later on.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at one of the outstations. Many people were surprised to see the bike come right up to the bomas. With the bike, there’s no trouble going along the bush paths. It’s going to make the work much less tiring and allow me to cover a much larger area.

Love,

Ned

May 10, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…During my visit to some of the people this morning below on the plains, a man came and said his wife was very sick and unable to walk. Fortunately, I had brought the car and parked it some distance away on a road. We carried her the two or three miles to the car and started right away for the hospital. By the time we reached town and the hospital, the Wa-Arusha tribe almost had a new member. The baby was coming as we were carrying her into the hospital. We had a few pretty tense moments.

Love,

Ned

May 1966

Newsletter from Arusha, Tanzania

Here is the first of the newsletters I promised to send keeping you informed of what has been happening to me.

I am stationed about five miles outside the town of Arusha, among the Wa-Arusha people. In physical appearance, language, dress and folkways, they are Massai. These people have settled down to farm small plots of land, growing corn and beans and raising small herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Temperament-wise, most are open and friendly. Father Simon, a native Wa-Arusha priest, and I are opening up the work among these people. The concentrations of effort in the diocese have been among the Massai, leaving the Wa-Arusha virtually untouched up to now. Hence, we are in the initial stages of establishing the Church in this area. The main mission, Bourko, is central to the area inhabited by this tribe, and so far, Father Simon has established four outstations, each with its own primary school of three grades. We also have two dispensaries operating. Two weeks after my arrival, I began what will be my basic mode of activity for the foreseeable future. I live in each of the areas for four or five days at a time, getting around more and more each time in each locality, walking, visiting the people’s huts, talking and getting to know the people.

A Wa-Arusha hut is built of long poles bent at the upper ends to form sort of an igloo. This frame is covered with mud and then grass. In the center is a fire for cooking and warmth. This house, which is quite large, constitutes not only a home for the family (except for the man, who has his own sleeping hut) but also a storehouse for corn and beans and a shelter for the cows, goats and sheep. Although we are now in the rainy season, the house is always warm and comfortable because of the fire and the many occupants.

At each place I stop, the Mama offers me a little stool to sit on by the fire, then some milk to drink or sometimes an ear of roasted corn. Then we sit and talk for a while until my still meager vocabulary runs out. I play with the children and give them candy. Some of you are probably familiar with a toy called “the magic slate”. I bought one of these. The writing disappears when the plastic cover is lifted. It amazes the children and has helped to make them more comfortable with me. When we’ve had our visit, we say, “Serena Vikidua” (goodbye ‘til we meet again), then I’m off to the next little place along the path.

We have not been able to add on a place to stay in at any of the schools, so I stay with the people most of the time. This turns out to be much better for many reasons. The walking was very difficult at first, but I’m getting used to it, and it’s doing me a lot of good.

Not long ago, I tried to get to one of the outstations by car on a “road” which was little more than a cattle path. After getting stuck and digging myself out six times with plenty of help and advice from many people who gathered each time I sank down in the mud, a man stopped whose shamba (farm plot) was nearby. He told me to wait where I was, and in a little while, he returned with six cows, hitched them to the car and pulled me all the way back to the main road – about a mile and a half. It was quite a sight. I wish I had a picture to send to all of you.

Before coming to Africa, I was frightened of being a foreigner here, perhaps for the rest of my life. But although I’ve been here only a short time, I feel very much at home and a part of these people already. It’s a beautiful country, filled with very warm and friendly people, and I am very happy here.

April 26, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…Living with the Massai for the two days was really great. They live on milk almost exclusively. I found that I like it very much and after getting used to drinking out of the gourds they used, I was in good shape. I brought along a few cans of meat and a loaf of bread to supplement the milk. In the evening, the hut we stayed in was packed with kids all wanting to get a look the odd looking white visitors. Before long they were teaching us Massai games and having a great time…

It was dusk and the sun was just dropping below the rim of the crater (Ngorongoro) when we tried the lights on the land rover and found they wouldn’t turn on. I got out to look under the hood to see if a wire was loose. Just after I switched on the flashlight, I heard galloping hooves, a zebra passed me within about a foot. Chasing him about three yards behind was a large male lion, which also passed me within touching distance. After the lion, also running full out was a hyena. Needless to say that was the end of the repair work. We passed the night in the land rover on the floor of the crater.

Love,

Ned

April 12, 1966

Dear Mom,

…I am stationed about 5 miles outside of Arusha among the Wa-Arusha people.  In physical appearance, language, dress and folkways, they are Massai.  But Massai who have settled down to farm small plots of land, growing corn and beans and raising small herds of cattle, sheep and goats.  Temperment wise, most are open and quite friendly.  Father Simon, a native Wa-Arusha priest, and I are opening up the work among these people.  The concentration of effort in the diocese has been among the Massai, leaving the Wa-Arusha virtually untouched up to now.

Hence we are in the initial stages of establishing the Church among them.  The main mission, Bourka, is central to the area inhabited by this tribe and so far Father Simon has established four outstations, each with its small primary school of three grades.  We also have two dispensaries operating.  Two weeks after my arrival, I began what will be my basic mode of activity for the foreseeable future.  I live in each of the areas for four or five days at a time, getting around more and more each time in each locality –walking, visiting various huts, talking and getting to know the people.

A Wa-Arusha hut is built of long poles bent over at the upper ends to form sort of an igloo.  This frame is covered with mud and then grass.   In the center is a fire for cooking and warmth.  This house, which is quite large, constitutes not only a home for the family (except the man, who has his own sleeping hut) but also a storehouse for corn and beans and a shelter for cows, goats and sheep.  Although we are now in the rainy season the house is always warm and comfortable because of the fire and the many occupants.

At each stop the Mama offers me a little stool to sit by the fire, then some milk to drink or sometimes an ear of roasted corn.  Then we talk for a while until my still meager vocabulary runs out.  I play with the children and give them candy.  Some of you are probably familiar with a toy called the magic slate.  I bought one of these.  The writing disappears when the plastic cover is lifted.  It amazes the kids.  I’ve had a bit of fun with it and its helped to make them more comfortable with me. When we’ve had our visit, we say “Serena Nikidua” (goodbye till we meet again) and then I am off to the next little place along the path.

We have not been able to add on a place to stay at any of the little schools, so I say with the people most of the time.  This turns out to be much better for many reasons.  Usually I walk a good number of miles each day.  This was very difficult at first, but I’m getting used to it and it’s doing me a lot of good.  Not long ago I tried to get to one of the outstations by car.  Usually Fr. Simon drops me off about two miles from the school or a fairly good road because the “roads” into these places are little more than cattle paths.  After getting stuck and digging myself out six times with plenty of help and advice from many people who gathered each time I sunk down in the mud, a man stopped whose shamba (farm plot) was near by.  He told me to wait where I was.  In a little while he returned with six cows, hitched them to the car and pulled me all the way back to the main road, about a mile and a half.  It was quite a sight.  I wish I had a picture to show all of you.

Before coming to Africa, I was frightened of being a foreigner here, perhaps for the rest of my life.  Although I’ve been here only a little over a month, I feel very much at home and a part of these people already.   It’s a beautiful country, filled with very warm and friendly people and I am very happy here.

Love,

Ned

April 5, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…I met a small boy about four days ago at one of the little maize and bean farms the other day. His name is Cambonia and he is about five years old. I noticed something was wrong with his feet. On looking closer, I found many chiggers were embedded under the front part of each foot. For the last couple of days, I tried to treat him with iodine and surgical cleaner, but was causing him a lot of pain and not seeming to do much good. So today I brought him back to town with me and took him to the hospital clinic this afternoon. That was quite an experience in itself. It took two hours of standing in line to see a doctor and when I finally got in to see him with the boy, he gave a me hard time for not having the right paper. Then he gave us a prescription and we had to wait in two more lines, one for the shot of penicillin and the other to get his feet dressed. What an afternoon! I carried him two miles cross country to the main road this morning and was not all tired out as I would have been a few weeks ago. Besides education, medical competence is about the greatest need here.

Love,

Ned

My 56-Year African Mission