January 31st

January 31, 2008

Sunday January 31st, 1982
Knoxville, Tennessee
This morning we picked up Ken at 9 o’clock at the B.S.U.   We took him to Middle Creek Baptist Church 2 miles out of Oliver Springs.  Ken was speaking in the morning service and at 2:30pm he was doing magic and having a rap session with the young people.  M.G. and I went on to Black Oak to church.  Then we went to eat lunch with Jack and Virginia Sue.  Mom, Dad, and Virgil ate too.  Charlotte was at the hospital with her mother who is very ill.  At 2:30pm M.G. went to Melvin Hill’s house to talk on the ham radio to Kenya.  He was able to hear real well.  Virginia Sue and I went to see Wallace and Fern Cantrell.  They used to be my school teachers and basketball coach.  Tonight M.G. and I went to Arlington Baptist Church.  They are fixing us an apartment which will be ready in April.

I am sure Dad and Mom were glad that their younger son finally had a speaking engagement at a Baptist church.  Maybe they thought I was a late blooming preacher that had at long last gotten his ministry started.  Alas, I was only practicing the “black” arts and leading a “rap” session with the youth.  Then the apple fell far from the tree and I became a computer geek.

Mom and Dad got to have lunch and fellowship with relatives.  I feel certain that they enjoyed this much more than listening to my speaking.  Dad got a chance to speak to Kenya instead of from Kenya today and seemed to enjoy the swap.  Meanwhile Mom took this opportunity to show some old acquaintances that she really did finally amount to something after all.

Tonight the folks got a look at the apartment that would be our home until Mom went to her true home in heaven.  They thought at the time that this was just a bump in the road on the highway of life.

I know that I sometimes wish I could see into the future so as to prepare better for it.  In this instance I am glad that the Lord chose to keep me in the dark.  Because in my weakness he is made strong.


January 30th

January 30, 2008


Monday January 30th, 1967
Mombasa, Kenya
Sent Sue 8 carved napkin holders, Mrs. Duncan 6, and the three coats that I had borrowed from Sue and it cost 17 shillings.  I got letters today from Mama and from a little G.A. in Knoxville who said, “I hope you can come to Knoxville someday.”  Tim Milligan spent the night with us.  His parents have gone hunting.  M.G. visited the Masons tonight and looked at their slides.  After he came home we looked at our slides of the sable antelope.

Looks like Mom was sending the African trinkets back to the US today.  It is easy to see how the postage rates have changed in 40 years or so.  I have said before how letters from home are like gold on the field.  Mom even got to keep a promise to a little G.A. girl in Knoxville.

Dad was always on the lookout for instruction in how to take good pictures and evidently school was in session over at the Mason’s.  I can truly say that I have never seen a missionary slide show that holds a candle to Dad’s production.

On a side note I am trying to get him into the 21st century soon as he will be doing his first PowerPoint presentation in the next few weeks.  I will let you know how it goes.

January 29th

January 29, 2008

Saturday January 29th, 1972
Limuru, Kenya
Today was play day at Limuru.  There were not too many present.  We went to Rosslyn to see Alan play ball against RVA.  RVA won by several touchdowns.  Just as we were turning into the road at Rosslyn, a truck load of Africans hit us from the back.  M.G. got out to check on them and one of the men grabbed his glasses.  Then later the same man came to my side of the car with a big rock and said, “Give me 5 shillings or I will kill you.”  I didn’t have anything less than a 20 shilling note, so I just gave it to him.   He said, “I will go get change.”  The other Africans in the car said that he was a mad man and had escaped from the mental institution in Mathari Valley.

Today’s turnout at play day was less than spectacular.  It seems that the Cunningham family were the driving force behind this event and since they were not running the show things kind of fizzled out.

Alan, being the sportsman of the family, had a game today so the Duncan troop loaded up to go see the eldest son strut his stuff.  Unfortunately we were playing our arch rival RVA that day and they used Rosslyn for cannon fodder.  Since I have attended both schools I now know that RVA were using a little known but effective device to get their team a victory.  They promised them that upon victory they would not have to eat at the dining hall when they returned.

The major excitement did not occur at the game but on the way to the match.  While in Kenya I was fortunate to be in very few car accidents.  However when you were involved in a fender bender you were sure to have an entertaining story as well as need of body work by the end of the event.  Today’s wreck was no exception, from the swiping of the glasses to trading money for your life the events proved interesting to say the least.  Looking back on the incident I have decided that there was more than one person at the scene who was a “bubble off plumb”.  The aforementioned mad man with the rock and the group that really believed he was going to get change!

January 28th

January 28, 2008

Thursday January 28th, 1982
Knoxville, Tennessee and White Oak, South Carolina
This morning we got up early and left home about 8:00am to pick up Ken so that he could drive us to the airport.  We left Knoxville at 9:25am and got to Atlanta at 10:20am.  Alan was already there.  He had flown in from Monroe, Louisiana.  We had only 30 minutes with him, but they were great.  He looked real nice.  There were very few people on our flight to Columbia.  When we arrived there a bus from North Side Baptist Church was there to bring us to the Conference Center.  The Joe Barrows, Davis Saunders, Wayne and Carroll Brown, Don and Ina Frazier, and several other folks were there when we arrived.

Even though furlough was a great time to catch up with stateside family and kin, as a missionary you still continued to work with the ultimate goal in mind.  That is the goal of spreading Christ to a dying world.

Part of the missionary gig is learning how to compress family time into quality segments.  Mom and Dad got a chance to spend some of these “quality” moments with Alan in the Atlanta airport.  Although Hartsfield-Jackson International is not the place anyone would choose for a family reunion they made do and did the best with the hand life dealt them.

Upon arrival at the conference they were greeted by missionary friends from the past and present and true to their nature soon set up a home away from home complete with a “42 tourney” and tall tales of exploits both here and on the field.

January 27th

January 27, 2008

Tuesday January 27th, 1970
Nairobi, Kenya
This morning I taught my class as usual.  For lunch I made a beef pot pie and tossed salad.  This afternoon when M.G. and I went to pick up Randall we could not find him.  M.G. went into the school office to call his mother to see if she had picked him up.  In the meantime Randall ran up behind me.  He said that he had been hiding.  We got after him for doing this.  I went by the grocery store for a few items.  M.G. failed to give the boy who carried out our bags some money, so I went back to give him some.  I wasn’t sure that I gave it to right one.  We got a letter from Aunt Emma today and she said that Quienie her dog had died.  Also that Carolyn Long had surgery on her back.

Mom and Dad started out the day as normal and things went downhill from there.  A long standing rule of the Duncan household deals with proper etiquette when waiting for a ride from the parental units.  From an early age we were taught that if the meeting time and spot were set at 4:00pm you needed to arrive there at 3:50pm and be waiting patiently when Dad or Mom arrived.  Randall had evidently not received the memo describing proper technique.  He instead chose poorly and decided to play an impromptu game of hide and seek.  I am most certain that Mom understated things when she said, “We got after him for doing this.”

Poor Dad was in such a lather that he stiffed the bag boy at the store.  Mom in turn felt sorry for the little waif and tried to right the wrong and ended up giving the tip to another young lad.  So it looks like the only winner of the day was the youngster that went home that day with yet another “crazy white man” story!

January 26th

January 26, 2008

Thursday January 26th, 1978
Malindi and Mombasa, Kenya
This morning M.G. continued to work on putting the cassette into our car.  Also, did some more electrical work for Jack.  Sally and I went downtown Malindi and I bought a long dress for 75 shillings.  Also went to the market and bought 2 pumpkins for 5 shillings.  We left Malindi about 2:00pm and stopped and bought a “debe” of cashews for 82 shillings and 50 cents.  We stopped by the guest house to see if the workers were there.  Tonight we ate supper at Helen’s house along with the Housers, Disons, and Jo Von.  We had steaks, baked potatoes, green beans, salad, fruit salad, and cake.

Whenever our family went anywhere we always had a toolbox in the car.  Dad was usually found fixing some appliance or such at any stop we made along the way.

Mom was practicing her talent today as usual.  Although I guess buying clothes is instinct and not talent in the female of the species.  She, like my wife, always tried to get a good deal on her clothes and since at the time she spent about $7.00 for the dress I guess Dad couldn’t complain much.  As a matter of fact they paid more for the cashews than she did for the dress.

One of the reasons I chose this day for the post was it shows how the culture works its way into your life.  “Debe” is Swahili for large container.  Mom’s particular thorn in the flesh was learning the language and yet here in her diary she uses Swahili to describe something that happened that day.  Even today I catch myself describing something to someone here in the states and I will lapse into Swahili and they will look at me like I have two heads.  It is not until later that I realize what I’ve done and have to explain myself to my friend.

January 25th

January 25, 2008

Tuesday January 25th, 1966
Mombasa, Kenya
This morning I made some brownies to serve at my tea for Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Johnston, Mrs. Jolley, Molly, Dorsie, and Virginia.  I had this for my British neighbors to meet the other missionaries.  After lunch M.G. and I went over to visit the Hunters.  They are leaving for the U.S. in April.  We met some Americans from Omaha, Nebraska who were here visiting.  Their daughter’s husband is with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.  We had tea with the Hunters and three ladies from their church.  Tonight we showed Simeon the slides of him that we had made up at Robert’s house.  M.G. and I worked on his office some today.

I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Today’s comments will take the form of a video of the folks that I see every morning before I start my workday.  Of course the major difference is that Mom cooked for her guests and these fine folks that I am introducing usually cook for me and several hundred hungry college students.  Making and keeping friends is one thing that missionaries have to excel at.  I can remember Dad telling me time and time again, “Son, whatever you do in life always learn how to talk with and be nice to the people around you!”