Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Treasures!

Thinking that July was a hot month, August has been hotter. Steady temperatures in the 90s with heat indexes of 100 + and hardly any rain. Our vegetable gardens are not producing well and if we don’t water and harvest what was grown, either the bugs or the critters will enjoy the fruits of our labors. Though I do enjoy watching the hummingbirds and butterflies. But August is now coming to an end, many school have started their new year, and I am still writing and editing my blog into a book. However, I will pause a moment and pick up where I left off with my last post, Summer Surprises, a large envelope from a family member.

The envelope was sent to my husband from a cousin on his Norwegian side of the Family. There were many photographs, family tree information and a letter address to his parent’s containing a letter he and I wrote on behalf of finding support from family members to save the old homestead and farm in Artichoke, Minnesota. This quest did not have a happy ending – the family did not want to restore the property and we had to abandon the idea. But at least we tried. Yet, this long-forgotten letter is not the surprise. Tucked into that same envelope was a tiny typed note to Keith from his Aunt Alice, dated 1955. Here it is . . .

Alice’s parting sentence to tell her about his “Sunday school and about the children there,” was reflecting what Aunt Alice’s profession – A Medical Missionary in the Belgium Congo under the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society from 1929 to 1960. She sadly passed away in 1961. Here is a short biography taken from her obituary:
Alice Jorgenson was born May 21, 1895, and raised at Artichoke.
Besides her public school at Artichoke, she took training at Bethel Academy in St. Paul. After completing a course in nurse's training at the University of Minnesota training school, she took Theological training at Northern Baptist Seminary in Chicago. In 1928, she sailed for Europe and took up further training in medicine and languages in London, England, and Brussels, Belgium, before sailing for Africa. She served as a medical missionary in the Belgian Congo under the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, In July of 1960, she was evacuated during the Belgian uprising and was flown and was flown back to the United States. Being past retirement age, she did not return to Africa where her heart really was.

During her years in the Congo, Alice collected and was given many African items, some of which Keith inherited and are now in our Family Museum. I asked Keith what he recalled most be about his Aunt Alice, and he said, “During one of her visits back home, she had an Ivory statue of a water buffalo and told me a story about it while I held it, telling me to be very careful with it.” The letter will be framed and put into our museum and forever cherished.