Billy Graham Center
Collection 468 -
Elizabeth Carolyn (Quackenbush) Stough
. T3 Transcript
Click hereto listen to an audio file of this interview (65 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the first part of the second oral history interview of Elizabeth Quackenbush Stough (CN 468, T3) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing.
Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.This transcript was made by Robert Shuster and Nelson Summers and was completed in April 2012.
Collection 468, T3. Interview of Elizabeth Quakenbush Stough by Robert Shuster on January 7, 1993.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Mrs. Elizabeth Carolyn Quackenbush Stough [Stough chuckles] by Robert Shuster for the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. This interview on January 7, 1993 at the Graham Center offices at noon. Mrs. Stough before we turned on the tape just now, you were mentioning that some people [pauses] don’t have a particularly high view of missionaries or the reason people go over seas to be missionaries is because they couldn’t get a job in the United States. Why do you think some people feel that way.
STOUGH: No one has ever come out and explained their views to us, but we have, in traveling about the country on deputation been, more or less, told that, and I...
SHUSTER: Told that by church members you were speaking to?
STOUGH: I suppose, or other people perhaps, I don’t know. All we could do to imagine is figure that it took considerably less intelligence to work with overseas people, primitive people, third-world or something. Since we couldn’t make a go of it here, we could probably relate to them.
SHUSTER: As you were doing deputation work at different times at furlough, what kind of ideas did people in the United States have about Africa? What kind of picture did they have in their mind about the country?
STOUGH: Well, we were always amazed at people’s lack of geography. Paul [her husband] loved to tell about having gone through a meeting with a map and pointing everything out. At the end of the meeting, this lady came up to him and said, “Now what part of South America did you say Congo was?”
STOUGH: So, there’s some abysmal ignorance about it. They certainly have had very weird idea of what Africa would be like. Some of them thought it would be wild savages that we were in constant danger of our lives, which of course we weren’t, because in those early days we were very warmly received by the Africans and appreciated. Civilization changed some of that later. But, I would think that many years ago the normal church member or those who came to hear us speak knew almost nothing and couldn’t even ask intelligent questions.
SHUSTER: How interested did you find people in missions just in general?
STOUGH: Through the years, we’ve found them very interested if we could tell them some exciting stories. If we were presenting only the challenge of missions and describing some of the work that we did day by day, or some of the problems we had, there was only a superficial interest. They wanted a wild animal story or something thrilling. I think, of course, this isn’t true of everybody. But, we through the years decided that that’s what they were most interested in.
SHUSTER: How many churches provided support for you and your husband?
STOUGH: Well, I think I told you on the previous tape that when I went to Africa from this little Presbyterian church in Iowa, they could not support me. So, a little group in the church managed to form a committee and pledge enough to give my forty dollars a month which was necessary at that time. When I was married and they wrote to the mission and said, “We now assume that her husband will support her,” just at that time a little chapel out in the mountains of Colorado became interested in the African Inland Mission through the visit of Harry Stam, who had all the support he needed at that time. So they wrote and asked, “Is there another missionary that we could support?” We came home on furlough very soon after that and the mission soon put two and two together and since my support was finished, would we like to go out to Colorado and visit this chapel. It was the Tousig[?] Ranch that was instrumental in that. So, they took up my support, and I believe that they raised, at that point, sixty. So, I was doing a little better. Paul’s support, when he first went out, was only on general fund and was very, very little; whatever happened to be leftover in general funds was divided with missionaries. He tells a time when, for a whole year, he got only two hundred dollars for he and his wife and two children. Later, the College Church took up support, and when I came home as Paul’s bride in 1945, it was ‘46 before we got here and I joined the church, then they added me to their support list. The bulk of our support came through College Church through the rest of the years and still does because they don’t give up on their retirees, they still support them very generously. In addition to that, through contact through ELO and Harold Street and meetings that Paul had with Harold Street, in Peoria there was a little church down there that contributed a small amount. Outside of that, it was just occasional gifts here and there.
SHUSTER: So, two or three churches really provided the most.
STOUGH: At the most, that was it.
SHUSTER: You mentioned ELO. That, of course, is Evangelical Literature Overseas.
STOUGH: That is right. Paul was very active with that for a few years.
SHUSTER: Well, let’s back track a little bit to where the last tape ended. You had talked about you had just arrived in French Equatorial Africa and you were doing some field work with Miss Weber. What years were you in French Equatorial Africa?
STOUGH: I arrived there the middle of 1940 and left in ‘44 to go down to teach the school for missionary children at Rethy in the Congo. It was at the request of the field council.
SHUSTER: About four, four and a half years?
STOUGH: Four years or more, yes.
SHUSTER: What were your responsibilities or duties while you were there?
STOUGH: At Zemio? They worked me in gradually to the work as I learned the language and able to contribute something. I started out helping with what they called school, which was a very primitive thing of just teaching little children the basics of children because nobody knew how to read at that point. Then, I began going with Miss Weber out to villages. We took some long Safaris by bicycle and carriers carrying our loads. Then, I began going to nearby places on my own as I was able to communicate on my own. There was a little group down near the government post, which would be maybe three, four miles from our mission station, which I established a weekly meeting to speak with them. Then, I began going to the leper camp which was just beyond the government post, and I did that on a weekly basis and was so warmly received by those lepers who were so neglected. I used flannel graph with these people and gave them just Bible stories and Evangelistic approach was very appreciated there. We began, through those four years, to upgrade our school at Zemio and add more classes, give them some writing, some general arithmetic, some Bible studies. From time to time, I was asked to speak at the church. I guess that would be it. I did go on some rather long Safari’s on my own in the later part of that term up there. Taking a woman along as chaperone, and men carrying my loads, I became somewhat independent from Miss Weber as I was able to carry a little more responsibility. But, it must have been a great trial for the missionaries there: the Lindquists, and Gertrude Weber to initiate this new missionary and try to get her into the work.
SHUSTER: You mentioned the weekly meeting that you started holding nearby. Who would come to those?
STOUGH: Just the people of that village. As I remember, they were a particular clan that lived together. I think that’s the way you would describe it.
SHUSTER: And this was the Zande?
STOUGH: Oh yes.
SHUSTER: The Zande people, okay. So, this was a weekly church service basically or what?
STOUGH: Well, let’s say in this country we would call it a home Bible study. Just a meeting...
SHUSTER: About how many people?
STOUGH: ...about fairly early in the morning. I don’t remember numbers. I would make a guess anything from twelve to twenty.
SHUSTER: And, what kind...you mentioned you would tell Bible stories. Which ones would you tell?
STOUGH: Well, I used (I don’t know if they exist as we called them then) storyograph, flannel graph things. I basically told whatever I had pictures for, particularly, New Testament stories of Jesus, and things that Jesus did, and of course eventually bringing in His death and resurrection. We used a few Old Testament stories of Moses or David or some of the well known characters Old Testament. At a primitive level like that, you can’t get into too much depth of teaching. It had to be precept on precept and repetition over and over again till they became acquainted with those things.
SHUSTER: Were the people coming to these meetings already Christians?
SHUSTER: Then why were they coming?
STOUGH: Because here was a white woman who was willing to spend some time with them and teach them. They were happy for that.
SHUSTER: How did they respond to the stories?
STOUGH: Well, they were appreciative. I don’t have any definite recollection of any who made an out and out profession and who I discipled afterwards. They were a group that were a bit more sophisticated than the ordinary Zande’s. They felt themselves just a step above. Like I say, I don’t know how to describe it, except a particular clan of them. They had some employment. They presented a different kind of challenge, I guess, from if I went out to an ordinary little village nearby where the people were very primitive.
SHUSTER: Different in what way?
STOUGH: Simpler life. They only had their little mud houses in a group of number of houses together, and their subsistence farming. The men had no employment except to occasionally help the women dig up the garden, initially, for the first planting, then it was the woman’s responsibility to take care of the gardens while the men, as far as I could see, spent most of the time sitting on little stools around the fire and talking.
SHUSTER: This clan that you held your meetings at, did it have a name?
STOUGH: Yeah, Koma[?] comes to my mind. I’m not sure if that’s right or not.
SHUSTER: And, you say that they presented a little different challenge because they were somewhat wealthier?
STOUGH: They felt they were a little bit better. Yeah, they had employment with some of the French people down at the government post or some responsibilities. They just seemed....they dressed better. They had clothes, which the people in villages had none of except shorts for the men and bunches of leaves for the women.
SHUSTER: Did any of the group become Christians or did some kind of church?
STOUGH: No, some of them began coming up to the mission...
STOUGH: ...for the Sunday service because they were close enough. No problem there, and some of them were coming up for that. We were glad to see that kind of response.
SHUSTER: Did...at the mission station, did this church develop?
STOUGH: Oh, yes. Yes, that was very encouraging really to see. Of course, as I think I said before, there had been missionaries before up there. The Hubers had been there, the Ralph Davises, and I forgot some of the old pioneers. But, they didn’t stay very long, very few years for any of them. I would say that the Lindquists and Gertrude [Weber] probably stayed longer than anyone else. But, there was enough to build on when they came, a few believers, and then, as we persevered in teaching them to read and they were getting into the Word, that makes all the difference in the world. We concentrated on developing some leadership in the church. They finally had a man that they called their pastor, who was completely untrained except locally. But, he was a leader and respected. And I remember that we had a weekly church meeting on the Lindquists’ front porch. It became...a lot of it was for disciplinary problems and things because the Zandes are a most immoral people. And it was very difficult, very discouraging to develop a leadership and then find that the one that you had trusted and looked to to carry on for the future suddenly was off with another woman and out of the work. This was...
SHUSTER: That happened often?
STOUGH: Oh, yes, just over and over all through Zande country. Zande country extended all across the northern part of Congo of the African Inland field up along the border of the M’Bomu River all the way through Dungu, Bafuka[?], Asa, Banda, those were Zande stations, and on across to Zemio. There was just that continual problem. I remember how horrified I was when I first got among them and I’d see men with their hands cut off and just stubs for arms. They explained to me that when they committed adultery, the chief would have their hands cut off.
SHUSTER: What happened to the women?
STOUGH: Nothing that I know of.
SHUSTER: Why did they have that...
STOUGH: That dates way, way back to Zande culture, way back.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that they seemed a very immoral people. Why do you think that was?
STOUGH: Well, as I just said that was...that’s the way they’ve been from the year one, long before missionaries were around. That was the Zande reputation.
SHUSTER: Who were some of the prominent Christian leaders that you recall?
STOUGH: Well, this man I spoke of at Zemio, his name was Sukanzanga. He never did have formal training. But over in the Congo, they sent some of their leaders down to the Bible school at Adi, that’s where Pete Stan taught in the Bible school. They developed some leadership. They had this problem again, when you get a good trained leader you weren’t sure that how long they were going to be there without getting into problems. But, they had some fairly...fairly good leaders with a minimum of Bible training that carried on. They began having Zande conferences, and we took some of our Christians across the river into these conferences with the people from these various Zande stations would get together for a week of meetings. It was inspirational of course for them to realize that they weren’t just a few little people here, but there was a lot of Zande Christians over the field. We had another leader up there at Zemio who, when I first knew him, was just a young teenager. He was helping me with the school. His name was Gategbere. Eventually, when he was baptized, he took the name Daniele because this was the custom all through...well, I guess all through our mission, that when a man or woman was baptized they took a Biblical name so that then we knew him as Daniele Gategbere. A few years ago, after we came home on...to retire here, we were living over on Washington Street, I got word that Daniele Gategbere had been brought to this country to speak in churches, which the mission did periodically with leaders from Kenya, Congo, or wherever. So, I had the thrill of a good visit with Daniele one day, and it was marvelous. I am marveled that after that many, many years, now I left up there in ‘44 and this would be down in the 80's sometime, that the Lord helped me to get the language back. It just seemed to come as I needed it. I stumbled for words of course, but I was able to converse with him because he didn’t know English. I had taken a snapshot out of my photo album of his wife and their first baby. I gave that to him, and he was thrilled to death about that. To my knowledge, he is still in the work which is exceptional.
SHUSTER: And, he was an evangelist or a pastor?
STOUGH: Yeah, well, all of the above in a primitive sort of way.
STOUGH: A leader.
SHUSTER: And, how would you describe him? What was his personality like?
STOUGH: I respected him. He seemed to have the ability of insight to help me understand the other people or what was going through their minds and why they did certain things. He was responsible. You could give him a job to do and he....You could count on him. I never heard of him getting into moral problems. He married his wife and raised a family and was loyal to them up to the present day, as I say, as far as I know. Just a few years ago, he was still very active in the work.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he?
STOUGH: That I don’t remember. I mean, generally, an African can get up and talk with no inhibitions, hardly. To me, it was characteristic that, an African, you could call on him to speak, and he’ll get up and just go right on.
SHUSTER: When you say no inhibitions, you mean no stage fright and no nervousness?
STOUGH: Yeah. Yeah, of course, this wasn’t one hundred percent but, to me, it was characteristic of them, and to this day we still have cassette tapes from a dear friend, a man that we knew in the Congo. He’s still there at Buna and he sends us cassette tapes because he was extremely fond of Paul, and he called him his “Baba”, his father. He can fill a tape on and on and on. With me, after I try to return a tape, after a few minutes, I’ve run out of things to say. He never does.
SHUSTER: You were also mentioned Sukunga?
SHUSTER: Sukanzanga, that was the first pastor of the church? The first Zande pastor?
STOUGH: When I first knew him, he was a cook for our...Gertrude Weber and a reliable sort of person. Gradually, they just pushed him into responsibility. Now, to call him a pastor was rather glorifying what he did. He took leadership.
SHUSTER: He was more of an elder
STOUGH: Uh-huh. He took leadership in the church.
SHUSTER: A deacon or...?
STOUGH: Conduct the services and so on.
SHUSTER: But, the control, administration in the church was still with the missionaries?
STOUGH: Oh yes. Yes.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you’d also started working at the leopard colony...leper colony.
SHUSTER: Were you the first one to begin doing that from the mission?
STOUGH: I think there had been occasional visits before. But, to have a class with them regularly, I believe I was the first one to do that.
SHUSTER: How did you get started with that?
STOUGH: Just was made aware that there they were, and it was a possibility to go and establish some kind of witness among them.
SHUSTER: How were you made aware?
STOUGH: And, the man that was sort of the leader in this, his name was Mobere[?], he was a Christian, so, and I don’t know what his background was. I may have known at the time. But, I don’t know now. But, he was a believer, and he (seems to me now that I begin to think back)...he had a brother there who was also that. But, he gathered the people. I would come on my bicycle. I had to come down a hill and across a little stream or something, valley, anyway, and then go up the hill where they were. They were separated that way from the other villages. And I can still get a mental picture of my arriving at the top of this hill, and they were standing over on the other hill waving and then shouting and waving to me and greeting me and coming down the hill to push my bicycle up the other side. They were so appreciative.
SHUSTER: Why do you think that was?
STOUGH: Because they were so neglected. Someone show some interest in them and try to be helpful to be them and I’m sure they responded to that. [chuckles] I was not much up on leprosy and didn’t give it much thought. So, I would shake hands with them. This dear Mobere[?], he would come down the hill, you know, to help me, and I would shake his stump of a hand and everything. Sometime later someone said, “What?! You were touching lepers? Don’t you know that you can get leprosy that way?” Then, I began to watch my hands everyday to see what was happening. Nothing did, of course, because they say, actually, tuberculosis was much more contagious than leprosy.
SHUSTER: Who ran this camp?
STOUGH: The government. It was a government thing. I guess an infirmary or medical person would come in periodically and treat them somehow.
SHUSTER: Were lepers required to live there?
STOUGH: I can’t tell you. It could be, could be. Seems like it could be probable. It was a hard trip over there on the bicycle, and it rained a lot. I would slug through that mud trying to get the bicycle through and eventually pushing it along. It was hard. From where I sit today, I wonder how I ever did it.
SHUSTER: You mentioned a little earlier, we were talking about Daniele Gategbere, that he had this ability to help you understand how people were looking at things or how they regarded things. Can you think of an example of that?
STOUGH: Not a specific one. It was just an impression I had that if I wanted the school boys, for instance, to do something and was having a hard time to get the idea across to them or being irritated at their unresponsiveness. Gategbere would help me to get into their mental attitudes.
SHUSTER: Did you have much contact with the French government officials?
STOUGH: No, I didn’t have much personally. John Lindquist did because he had to often contact them on government matters relating to the mission. But, every July 14, Bastille Day, we were invited to the administrators home for celebration and a meal. That was my chief contact with them. And, all the French people, all of them, I don’t know, four or five or six of them at the most would gather there, and we missionaries were always invited.
SHUSTER: What were they like to colonial government and the scepters.
STOUGH: Oh, very worldly French men with, most of them, with their wives. They were tolerant of our mission. Although, they of course were Catholic.
SHUSTER: Were there Catholic missionaries also in the area?
STOUGH: I’m not aware as I look back. We had a lot of problems with Catholic priests in the Congo. But, when I think back to Zemio days, I don’t know where they were. I wasn’t really aware of them. We had not problems with them certainly. We went out on village work and weren’t harassed by Catholics out in the villages. So, I guess they weren’t, back in those days at least, weren’t very active up there.
SHUSTER: As you think back about those four years in French Equatorial Africa, around Zemio, what stands out in your mind? What do you remember best about it?
STOUGH: Probably, the first thing that comes to my mind is those long safaris. [Laughs]
STOUGH: That was a big part of the work because, you see, we were there in such early days, and we were trying so hard to reach the people in any way we could. So, we just got out to where they were, and the only way to go was by bicycle, to pump the bicycle in that heat mile after mile and sleep in the primitive villages and go on. A lot of the time, the bicycle broke down...had many problems, and we’d used up all the patches on the inner tubes. We ended up pushing the bicycles and walking miles. I don’t know how I ever did it. It doesn’t seem possible now, but we did. I loved the people, and when I got word from the field council that I was to move down to Rethy, I really shed tears because I hated to leave them. They were very loveable folks. Had some good friends among the women and the men.
SHUSTER: Why did the council send you someplace else? Was four years a customary period of time in that place?
STOUGH: No. No, no. They were desperate for a school teacher and I had qualifications, and there were very few who did, have qualification to be a school teacher for the missionary children. A missionary was going on furlough; they had to staff the school. So, they looked about the field. Oh! There’s Betty Quackenbush. She could do it. So, they moved me down.
SHUSTER: How was....Was the mission still governed from the field at that time?
STOUGH: Yes, I suppose you’d say so: the field council and the field director, yes. Course, they were responsible to Brooklyn, headquarters. But, we didn’t get much input from there. Our directions came locally.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. Where was the...was there also an annual conference of the missionaries?
STOUGH: Every two years, I believe.
STOUGH: The distances were very great on our Congo field. Some of the missionaries would have to travel four, five, six hundred miles to get there. In those early days, there were very few cars. What there were, were in poor repair, and you just set out hoping that you’d make it. So, to go every year I think would have been a little much. But every two years, as I remember, they had it at Rethy, which...that’s where the school was. And, most missionaries were there, more than any other station. So, there were enough homes. When the outsiders came in, we could be divided up to be entertained in those homes or in the dormitory rooms. Those were inspirational times as well as business meetings. They had some business meetings in the afternoon, as I remember. But, they were inspirational times, and often, they brought in a speaker from America, or England, or Kenya, or somewhere else.
SHUSTER: What do you remember about those meetings?
STOUGH: Very helpful spiritually. Refreshing, you know when you come from Zemio in a primitive area and it was just us four meeting together, it was great to be with a group of one hundred plus missionaries comparing notes and sitting together under the teaching of the Word. It gave you a real lift.
SHUSTER: What kind of inspirational messages would they have?
STOUGH: Bible studies, chiefly.
SHUSTER: What would some of the topics be?
STOUGH: I don’t know. Now I couldn’t tell you. They impressed me at the moment.
SHUSTER: First, when you were in French Equatorial Africa was when World War II was raging...
STOUGH: That’s right.
SHUSTER: ...in the rest of the world. How did that affect you at all, or did it affect you at all at Zemio?
STOUGH: Well, it did affect us in that there were no imports and nothing to be bought in the stores, and it made food very difficult. I can remember times when you just wondered what you were going to eat. We had a lot of mango trees in the station, and so, in the mango season, we ate a lot of mangoes, made applesauce out of green mangoes, and apple pie out of green mangoes, and cut up ripe mangoes in various shapes and called them by different names and a lot of things. [Shuster chuckles] The gardens were hopeless because the soil up there was red iron stone. Almost nothing would grow. We... in season, we had peanuts. We ate boiled peanuts (which I think are very nutritional). We tried eating the...what the Africans had for staple food, this manioc, mohogo [generally known as cassava]. I know more African names for it than I do English, but I think it’s called manioc, a rooted thing. And it’s what tapioca is made out of. So, if you boil it, you get a gluey mess like tapioca. We tried baking it like baked potatoes and it was so dry, you’d get it in your mouth and you couldn’t swallow it. We did anything to get some nourishment out of it. The leaves, the plant of the mohogo, the manioc, the women used the leaves for dress. A bunch of leaves in front and behind. But, they also used it for spinach. So, we did likewise. It wasn’t too bad if you made kind of a peanut butter gravy to put over these manioc leaves. I don’t.... If anybody came up from the Congo, which was very rare because we were the end of the line, but if they were able to bring along vegetables from down the country, that was a great treat.
SHUSTER: What were some of the vegetables being grown there be?
STOUGH: Down country?
STOUGH: I mean, oh. Beets and beans and peas and carrots. Yeah, a lot. Even baked potatoes was a treat to us.
SHUSTER: Were there other ways that the war affected you or affected the work?
STOUGH: Oh, mail. Mail was very difficult to get.
SHUSTER: How long did it take to get a letter from the U.S.?
STOUGH: Weeks, weeks. My mother was very faithful in trying to send packages of all kinds of necessities: food, clothing, and other things that it took months for that to come through. Mostly, they did eventually. We used...the first instance we went down to the government post, or John did, perhaps, to listen to radio news cause we had none on the station. Eventually, he was able to get a little radio and we used to crowd around that to hear the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] war news. But we were really isolated up there.
SHUSTER: Did the conflict between the Vichy French and the Free French affect you in any way?
STOUGH: No, not that I’m aware of.
SHUSTER: When you went down to...
SHUSTER: ...Rethy in 1984. How would you describe that community?
STOUGH: Well, that seemed almost like getting to civilization because there were so many missionaries there (I don’t know how many at this point, but enough so it made a great difference from what I’d been used to with just three others). We would kind of get in a rut with the same things to talk about, the same problems, and here you had a lot of different ones.
SHUSTER: Would you say about a hundred?
STOUGH: Oh, no. No, no. There would be (I don’t know what to pull out of the air) thirty at the most. I would think at the most because they had a medical work there, a hospital and a doctor and nurses. And, they had girl’s schools and boy’s schools and church work and a lot of things like that. The Harry Miller’s took me in, made a place for me to stay in a little mud house out back of their house. They had what had been used for a storeroom, and they fixed it up for a room for me to live in because I was, in the first place, replacing Dorothy while she had a baby.
SHUSTER: It’s Dorothy Miller?
STOUGH: Dorothy Miller. This would...I came down first in early ‘44 in January for one term of school to replace Dorothy and lived with the Millers. It was during that time that a man, another missionary, came into the schoolroom and said he was coming to get the Stough boys. I had three little Stough boys in my school. He said, “Their mother is very ill, and they don’t expect her to live much longer and so, they’ve come to bring the boys down there.” Then, she, very shortly after that, did die. She was Rachael Windsor Stough. Then, Paul began coming up to spend time with the boys and help them through. He and Harry had gone to the field together in 1928 and were good friends. So, he stayed with the Millers and I was living with the Millers. So, that’s...
SHUSTER: You got to know each other.
STOUGH: ...how contact was initially made. But, when school was out in April, I went back up to Zemio and that was that. It was then in August that I got word from the field council that I was to come down permanently at least for the last year of my term to teach. In the meantime, I’d had a few letters from Paul on excuses like he wanted some stamps from FEA [Shuster laughs] and so on. But, it was...meant nothing to me. When I went back then and began teaching in September, he continued to come up to see the boys now and then. But, it wasn’t long before I decided he was coming to see their teacher too. [chuckles]
SHUSTER: Now were you married at Rethy?
STOUGH: No, it was impossible to get married in the Congo without so much red tape that we just couldn’t handle it. The war was still on. They wanted affidavits from your local police and your local government here in the [United] States and all kinds of things that...it was impossible to get it, the mail being what it was. So, we went across to Arua in Uganda, West Nile Uganda, which is the place where I first arrived. That being under British territory, we could deal with British officials there. It made a little more sense. I had to go over three weeks ahead to post the banns [an official announcement of the upcoming marriage] because work on his station. They relieved me of the teaching responsibilities in time so I could go over and do that. And then, we were married at Arua in March of ‘45.
SHUSTER: March 1945.
SHUSTER: How many students did you have a Rethy?
STOUGH: There were two rooms: the lower grades and the upper grades. When I was down there for that first time, I taught the four lower grades. I don’t know, maybe I had fifty.
STOUGH: Just a guess. When I went back in September, I was given the upper grades because that teacher had gone on furlough and I suppose I had close to that. Forty, I don’t know something like that.
SHUSTER: Some like one hundred students there, all together.
STOUGH: Not more than that. Maybe less, maybe less. I may be exaggerating.
SHUSTER: And they came from all over the Congo?
STOUGH: No, they came from our field up there in the corner in the northeast corner of Congo. Now, transportation wouldn’t have permitted them to come any farther.
SHUSTER: And this was a boarding school?
STOUGH: Yes, they came. The parents brought them at the beginning of the term. The terms ran for three months and then a month vacation then back for three months. So, the parents got the children every fourth month which was very nice, better than a long semester or a year.
SHUSTER: And they were English, American, all?
STOUGH: Almost all American.
SHUSTER: Almost all American.
STOUGH: We had a very few non-American students. I remember there was a family by the name of Zele [?] that lived near Blukwa near a plantation, and there were two Zele [?] boys. They were Belgians, but they spoke English and were eager for the boys to have a good schooling so they were accepted at Rethy.
SHUSTER: What was it like teaching there?
STOUGH: Well, pretty much what it would be like teaching....You see, I had taught a year (I think I told you) in a consolidated school where we just had two rooms. So, this wasn’t all that much different. We had an English...I mean American textbooks. Kept the students up to the standards of the Americans. So, I think the mission was very pleased at the reputation their schools had because when the children came home on furlough they could fit right into American schools and were often ahead of them. So, we used the American textbooks and the materials. We didn’t have all the extras that they would have had in this country at that time because of the difficulty of getting supplies. But, we did manage to keep ahead with work books and things of that sort. They didn’t have a lot of extracurricular things, but they did have sports day, I remember, every term, had ball games, races, and all kinds of that sort of thing. They tried to give them a social life. Of course, they lived in the dormitories, and they would plan special parties for special events for them in that way. We observed American holidays at the school.
SHUSTER: How many teachers were there?
SHUSTER: Oh, so you were their whole...
STOUGH: Yeah, it’s a little bigger these days. They gradually got up to nine grades, I believe, added one more there, add another teacher. Put up a few more buildings and had a library and things developed before the blow up in 1960. It was going very well. It’s been a struggle ever since.
SHUSTER: Of course, you were now in the center of things at the mission.
SHUSTER: Were different jobs, different kinds of jobs, given to women missionaries than men missionaries? Were there some kind of division of responsibilities?
STOUGH: Well, I don’t think a woman would ever have been given the job that we used to call the out school worker. That meant: safari out among the villages where they had these, we called them, evangelists, not in the term of Billy Graham evangelists, but, teachers and leaders in the village.
SHUSTER: This was the African?
STOUGH: Yeah. So, I know for a number of years Paul was an out school worker, they called him. He did a lot of itinerating among the villages. No woman would have been given that kind of a job.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
STOUGH: Well, it was just a little too strenuous.
SHUSTER: But isn’t that what you were doing in...?
STOUGH: Oh yes, up at Zemio, yeah. But, they did...the women were involved in the school work almost completely. Well, I would say completely in both the boys and the girls schools and the boarding homes. They were nurses in the medical work. Well, the man who had charge at the printing press there at Rethy and the literature work, he and his wife worked together on that. She was as much involved as he.
SHUSTER: What were their names?
STOUGH: Herbert Cook. Herb and Mariel Cook.
SHUSTER: Were women in administration?
SHUSTER: And why was that?
STOUGH: Wasn’t thought of in those days. No, we have no problem with that.
SHUSTER: What was it like when you were traveling back to America? What was the trip back to the trip back to America on your furlough like?
STOUGH: Well, the first furlough...see, we were married in March of ‘45 and then the war ended later that year, and then missionaries began trying to get out of the country. And some of them went down to Leopoldville, thinking that they could fly out of there, and it became a bottleneck. There just wasn’t that much opportunity to get out.
SHUSTER: You said they were trying to get out of the country because they had to stay there for so long?
STOUGH: They had been there. Yeah, Paul had been out [in the Congo] ten years. In addition to his wife’s illness and death, it just wasn’t possible to travel during the war. Some went over to Kenya. Well, we heard, I don’t know how, at this point, I don’t know how we heard, that there would be a boat coming around the Mediterranean to pick up Americans. So, we decided to go down the Nile. We had one of our younger missionaries drive us across the border to Juba in the Sudan. We got on the Nile boat and went down the Nile, which was a very interesting experience.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
STOUGH: Oh, just to see the scenery. Going through the sun and the grass. The boat traveled with several barges pulling...No, I think they pushed the barges, and they... in order to get around the bends because the Nile down there is a very winding river, back and forth. So, they would have to bump into the bank here and then back up and back again, and just to see the Sudanese people and the villages along the way. It was very interesting. Eventually, we got up to towns and ended up by train getting to Cairo, checked into a hotel there with our three boys. I’d been there only a couple of days, maybe three at the most, and I developed terrible pains in my tummy, and they got worse and worse. So, Paul went down to the desk at the hotel and went through the phone book, list of doctors. And they were mostly Alis and Yousefs and the rest of them. He came to a British name, Hamilton. He called him and he said, “I’ll be right over.” This is a British doctor, surgeon, who we later heard was the surgeon of the city, excellent man. He came and inspected me. He said, “Get her to the hospital.” They got me over to the hospital in the wee hours of the night and operated for a ruptured appendix. He gave Paul no hope that I would recover at all. It was a bad deal. Poor Paul had just lost a life and now the prospect of a second. But after, I don’t know how long, a day or two, Dr. Hamilton told Paul that he had heard that over in the American Army camp nearby, they had some new miracle drug that might be helpful. He phoned over there, and he said he had an American woman dying from peritonitis and would they like to share some and they did. Humanly speaking, this miracle drug of penicillin had just been discovered and kept me alive. I was in the hospital for several weeks. In the meantime, this boat which was supposed to pick up the Americans and had been doing such and such a day, it broke down over in Sicily. They had to send...it was a Gripsholm [ship] and they had to send back to Sweden for parts. It was held up for a long, long time, which we were thankful. I had been in the hospital less than a week when Paul said that Phil, the youngest of them who was about ten years old, began having difficult walking and complained that he couldn’t keep up. Phil [sic] took him to the doctor, and it turned out that Phil had polio. They wouldn’t take him in this Anglo-American hospital where I was. So, they got him into a German deaconess hospital, and he was taken care of there. Paul spent mornings with Phil, spent afternoons with me. The other two boys hung out the window of the hotel counting cars, and it was a grim time.
SHUSTER: Tough time, yeah.
STOUGH: We finally heard that the Gripsholm was arriving at Alexandria at such and such a date, and the doctor released me from the hospital then released Phil. We managed to get on the train, get up to Alexandria, and on Thanksgiving Day got on the Gripsholm and had quite a wild trip. In winter, we made it to New York.
SHUSTER: You say wild. You mean stormy?
STOUGH: Oh, stormy. Just awful. They’d picked up refuges all around the Mediterranean who claimed to be Americans because they were born in America but had been taken back as almost babies, I suppose, back to France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, wherever. There were a lot of fights among these people, the Greeks and the Italians. It was grim, but we got there. A friend here in Wheaton, who we contacted, suggested that we contact the March of Dimes in New York which we did. They asked us where we lived. We said, “We don’t have any address. We’ve just arrived from Africa but, we’re staying with...at our mission headquarters in Brooklyn.” They said, “Well, that’s Greater New York, bring him over to the Knickerbocker Hospital.” Which we did and Phil was there for six months getting Sister Kenny therapy. In the meantime, we made our way out to Wheaton to get the other two boys into school and find a place to live. At the end of six months, we went back and picked up Phil. All we did was say, “Thank you very much.” There was no cost. It was a wonderful provision. They had put him on his feet the last month, taught him to walk, and told us how to carry on the therapy, gave him a new pair of shoes, proper shoes to learn to walk in. For the next year or two, we kept saying, “Heels, Phil, heels,” because he was flopping his foot. But, he learned to walk. You wouldn’t know today that he ever had a problem. He know’s it.
STOUGH: It’s very good. We stayed home that furlough two years because Paul had been out for ten. We were in rather bad health and pooped.
SHUSTER: Is that when Paul was interim pastor at College Church?
STOUGH: Yes, for...through part of a year. We felt we were ready to go back which we did in ‘40...
STOUGH: ...’47 would it be? We went to Belgium.
SHUSTER: Let me ask you a little bit about when you were in Wheaton at that time. What was Wheaton like those days?
STOUGH: Well, that was my initiation to Wheaton. I had never been here before, didn’t know anything about it. We...I got into the College Church, and we got into some of the activities at the college. We went to basketball games and football games and things. We did considerable travel, not continual, but we went out to Colorado to see this chapel that took on my support. I almost lost Paul out there. One time, we went to Yellowstone to show the boys Yellowstone, me too, I had never been there. He became very, very ill. There’s a hospital in Yellowstone up at Mammoth Springs, is it called? We got him up there, and the doctor examined him, took X-rays, called me in the late evening and said, “I don’t think your husband’s going to make it through the night. He has a very bad kidney problem, and one kidney’s gone, the other almost.” This all just came on so suddenly. But, I stayed with him through the night. The kidneys had stopped functioning. That was the problem, and by morning, they’d be gone. Just the goodness of the Lord pulled him through that one.
SHUSTER: So, this was really...these years were really...
STOUGH: [laughs] Those years were something. We got back to Wheaton and we took him up to Mayo’s [Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota] for examination. They said, “Oh, he’s alright.” They thought those doctors out there, they were just young, interns really. They hadn’t read the X-rays perfectly. Anyway, he was sick and he did have stoppage of the kidneys, but he recovered.
SHUSTER: What kind of impression did Wheaton make on you as your first exposure to it?
STOUGH: Oh, It...I loved it. It was such a nice town. Of course, it’s known as a Christian community, more so then, than now. I appreciated very much the atmosphere and the life. We moved in with Alice Windsor near the campus. So, that’s where we spent our furlough, making friends here. Uh-huh.
SHUSTER: Of course, you mentioned Rev. Stough several times. Why don’t you describe him a little bit. What was he like?
STOUGH: He was wonderful. Very, very affectionate husband. He just spoiled me with affection. In the latter months before the Lord took him, he used to...he developed the habit of looking at his watch or something. He’d say “Oh!, it’s 11:30. I love you,” and give me a big hug. This was typical of him, very thoughtful. He was very, very intelligent. I marveled at...we used to laugh. He called it his trivia. But, he would come up with information on almost anything. That astounded me, that he would know about those things. He did a lot of reading all through his life, I think. He always read himself to sleep after I got in the family. Did a lot of reading when he wasn’t on the job working. He filled his mind with a lot of information, could converse on many, many subjects. He had a great gift of working with the African. They loved him, and he loved them. He seemed to understand them, and they knew that he understood them, and they appreciated it.
SHUSTER: Could you think of, perhaps, an example of that?
STOUGH: Well, they said, “Bwana, your blood is half black,” because he was so like them. In his dealings with the church elders, I can still see him sitting there in his office with the elders sitting around on little stools talking about church matters. He tried to leave the decisions to them about any matter that came up about what they should do, and then, they would say to him, “Bwana, what do you think we should do?” He would say that, “That’s exactly what I was going to tell you, the way you have decided.” They thought, “Oh, that’s good.” Or vice versa, if he expressed something that they would agree with, they would just click, not one hundred percent ever, of course. But, he could empathize with many of the problems they were going through. He was respected, widely. The mission sent him down to Leopoldville as a representative to this Congo Protestant Council. He was respected for things he said and contacts he made down there so that eventually, he was elected president of the Council and served his term there. He was respected by the Belgian government who decorated him with the order of Leopold for his outstanding service to the Africans.
SHUSTER: Was that for some particular thing he did or was it just in general?
STOUGH: Some of that was his stand on what they called the Roho movement which he may have described to you this radical thing that came in when they... (this was what we call “BB, before Betty”)...but he talked about it a lot, of course. When these Africans, some of the, got the idea, they got the spirit and they just went overboard on it. Extremes.
SHUSTER: So, this was in the ‘30s or the...?
STOUGH: Yes, or ‘40s, early 40's. But, it was probably later ‘30s. He took a real stand against that. He didn’t consider it a work of the Holy Spirit. Because it could have gotten out of had and in some places did. The Belgian administrators were afraid of what was going to happen, and they saw that one named Stough, how he handled it. I think that was part of the recognition.
SHUSTER: You say that some places it did get out of hand. Get out of hand in what sense?
STOUGH: Oh, getting together in these meetings and dancing. It seems to me he said that they even got anti-white or anti-government or something. But, I don’t know it got very far because he...he clamped down on it. He was, at one time, the field director of the mission So, the missionaries respected him too.
SHUSTER: In the Congo?
STOUGH: Yeah. When he traveled, he was very faithful in traveling to visit the various mission stations, make contact with the missionaries, talk with them individually: what their problems were, what needs they had. But, he also insisted on meeting with the church leaders so that they didn’t feel like he was just a leader for the missionaries, but he was also interested in their work. That made a great impression on him because that had not been done before. [Pauses] Good father, my! You see the three boys now, all in serving the Lord in one way or another in their professions. One is a missionary. Our daughter that the Lord gave to him and me.
SHUSTER: And she was born in ‘49?
STOUGH: ‘49, that’s right. She’s a very active Christian in her church and community.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he.
STOUGH: Oh, he was great. He.... Expository preacher. There at Blukwa he took them through book after book of the New Testament as well as what he could of the Old Testament cause it wasn’t translated into the language back then. But, he was convinced that the secret of a strong church was Bible teaching. That’s what he gave them Sunday after Sunday, expository preaching.
SHUSTER: When you returned to the Congo in...was it, ‘48 that you went back or ‘4...?
STOUGH: ‘4...yes, yes it would be.
SHUSTER: Were you assigned new duties?
STOUGH: We went back to Blukwa where he had been for a number of years, and he continued as the station superintendent, they called him, in charge of all the work. I was to take care of the women. So, I had classes for the women who had had very little teaching. I started reading classes for them. We had what we called women’s school every day, every morning. We would teach some reading. We always had a Bible lesson. Then, we added a bit of childcare, whatever I could share with them, being not very experienced, gave them a bit of arithmetic, writing they appreciated. They wanted me to teach them to knit. I did teach them to sew by hand. We had no machines, of course. I showed them how to sew by hand, and they made little pullover, sleeveless pullover things for their children.
SHUSTER: Where would they get things like needles or...?
STOUGH: Well, we could go down to Bunia, which is about forty-some miles away as I remember, and get a few of those supplies. This would be now after the war, and there were more things to be had. We called it Americani which is unbleached muslin [cloth]. We used that almost exclusively. Then, they wanted me to teach them to knit, and I didn’t really know anything about knitting. But, I, for some reason, I had an instruction book, and I got that out and began teaching myself with a little bit of yarn that I had myself. Then, in order to teach them, there were no knitting needles. There was no yarn, really, to be had. So, we got the idea of using bicycle spokes.
STOUGH: Which we could get, and we filed down the points and made knitting needles. Then, I could get big rolls of...it would be like the old grocery string that they used to tie up packages in the old grocery stores. But, this was a little heaver than that. Just a natural color. That was our yarn, and we started out from scratch with that. Eventually, they learned to knit, made little things for their children nothing complicated but something. It was interesting to me before long I would see their husbands walking along the road with a ball of this string under his arm and knitting. The wives had gone home to teach the men. We concentrated...mine was to get leaders established. The church gave me a couple: Ufuta, and Ruta, who were assigned to help me with the women’s school. They were a great help. We divided into classes. Then, we tried to pinpoint women who seemed a little brighter and had gone on a little harder and put them in charge of some who weren’t quite so far ahead. Suddenly, we’d developed classes in the school. I did a lot of the Bible teaching originally. Then, I got Ufuta and Ruta to do that. Well, then we decided that we wanted some of the other women to take part in that, and oh, that was hard. They found it difficult to stand up and talk in front of a group. But, we plugged along and encouraged them.
SHUSTER: That’s in contrast with what you’d said earlier about the African just being... [Both begin talking simultaneously.]
STOUGH: Men, they didn’t seem....
SHUSTER: ...able to speak spontaneously.
STOUGH: They seem to be. But, the women were more shy, always. We got the pastor’s wife. We had two pastors there, one of each tribe, and I started with them, and I would teach them. They would get up to lead the women’s school that morning, the Bible lesson. That was a great step forward.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
STOUGH: They would talk coming down, looking down this way to the floor, out the side.
SHUSTER: Yeah, and for the tape, I mean, [describing Stough’s gestures] they would talk more into their shoulder or talk with their head down.
STOUGH: Hard for them to look someone in the eye and talk, but they developed that. I remember the one lady that had her baby tied on her back when she began speaking, and the baby got fussy and she took a twig and scratched the cover that she had over the baby. She finally decided the baby had to be fed. So, she just pulled the baby right around to the front and nursed the baby while she went right on with her Bible lesson. [both laugh]
STOUGH: We branched out from there to take...we had a Ford station wagon, and I would take a bunch of the women out to a nearby village for a meeting and got them to lead the meeting. Originally, to go around and talk to any women they could find and encourage them to come to central place and then have a meeting for them and lead the meeting and speak to them. It was much more effective for them to speak because they could be understood. I was speaking with a foreign accent, I’m sure. That was a great encouragement to me to see these women begin to take hold of things like that. And we did a lot of village work.
SHUSTER: About how large was this school, how many women?
STOUGH: Oh, not very large.
SHUSTER: A dozen?
STOUGH: I would think more than that, twenty to thirty maybe.
SHUSTER: And, these would be?
STOUGH: Wives of the workmen of the village.
SHUSTER: All Christians?
SHUSTER: Well, we’re almost at the end of this tape. So, let me just stop this and we’ll pick up on the second one.
END OF TAPE
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