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Mission Stations



We lived in Shamshabad when I was 10-11 years old. It was around 1947, the days of India's becoming independent from British rule. There were lots of lawless bands tied with varying political parties, such as the Communists, roaming about. The group I remember were the Razikars. Two incidents that involved this group happened when we were in Shamshabad, and were very frightening to me as a child.

The first incident was when we came out of church one day and there was an oxcart with people from a village some miles away. A man was lying in the back of the cart. He looked dead. The nurse (Helen Harder? Emma Lepp?) checked him and I could see that he had a hole in his chest and a huge infected open wound in his back. I remember thinking how awful it must have been to lie on straw when he was hurting so much. They took him to our mission hospital.

The people with him told us a band of Razikars had come into their village with guns, ordered them to line up outside of their homes, and shot into the group. Some were killed, and this man was among those who were wounded. They had traveled two or three days to get to our hospital. I remember one last thing---the man lived.

The other memory of the Razikars was the time folks in our compound told Dad that some armed strangers--possibly Razikars--were sighted under the bridge right outside of our Shamshabad compound. With nighttime coming and stories of bands attacking foreigners, Dad decided we needed to get police protection from the village, which was about five miles away (if I remember correctly). The single ladies and some of the preachers joined us in our front room, and we had a prayer time. Then Dad got in the car and headed out. I still can imagine Dad's waiting inside the gate, some of the men opening the gate, and then Dad gunning the car over the bridge and on the bumpy road to Shamshabad. I do remember being scared to death waiting for him to return--and Mom and the others praying and praying. Finally he came back with the soldiers, and they kept watch in the compound all night.

The next morning we went outside, happy that there hadn't been an attack and we were all alive. When some of our folks finally ventured out of the compound to check the area, it was all quiet--but they did find signs of a campfire under the bridge. Who was there, I don't think we ever found out.


I remember at a very young age, perhaps 3 or 4, wondering why my older sisters and brother had to go away and for such a long period. I didn't know when my turn would come but I began dreading it at that time. Phyllis and Grace would make paperdolls for Joanne and me and we loved getting them.

Joanne and I would play with Paul and David Wiebe when their parents or ours would go touring. We would spook each other on the stairs at Mahbubnager. (David and Paul also had us convinced there was some frightful creature living in the well nearby so Gwen and I would be scared to death to go near it. - Jo) Other than a few reluctant Indian friends, Paul and David were our only social life.

Joanne and I would go touring with Dad sometimes, leaving mom at home. This was always a treat. Dad had built a trailer with bunks and a bathroom. I thought it was really grand. (One night we walked over to a "home" made out of a mat shaped like a quonset hut. A man was lying inside--his toes and fingers were open sores and had been chewed on by rats. Dad talked with him for awhile. The next morning he was dead. - Jo)

Leaving Kodai and going home to the mission station at Christmas was always something for which we counted the days. But after we were home for a few weeks we missed our friends and got bored. It was always hard to ask for stamps to mail letters to my friends as we knew money was tight. I spent the vacation sewing for myself and for my dolls and reading. We kept the mission library at our station, which meant we had one bookshelf full of books. The Readers Digests dated back to the early 1920's. We read all the books over the holidays and the next year read them all again. I must have read Heidi three times each trip home. At night the rats would chew on the books and keep us awake.

Infrequently, we went in to Hyderbad for a shopping trip. What a treat that was! The bazaar had so many interesting things and mom spent hours haggling over the price of each item she bought. The hulva candy was so good at the end of the day. Mom sometimes bought a can of American baked beans for our lunch. We loved that!

We saw snakes once in awhile. When Jo and I were very little, two cobras wove in and out of the ceiling tiles in our playroom. Dad had the roof taken apart but the snakes were never found. Sometimes we found snakeskins shed overnight over the doorway. We kept a lantern beside the bed so that if we had to get up during the night we would not step on a snake or a scorpion. I felt safe because of the mosquito netting that was completely around the bed. It was sort of cozy. Sometimes we slept on the upstairs porch but the Indians got up at dawn and woke us up. Mom let us sleep very late during the holidays. When we went to bed she sometimes woke us up, bringing us hot chocolate--I always figured she got to feeling badly about sending us back to boarding school and this was one thing that made her feel better.

Leaving the mission station was always hard because I got so homesick. Usually Dad or Mom took us back to Kodai and I dreaded that last good-by. I got so very homesick but Joanne always roomed with me and I would crawl in bed with her when I got to feeling too bad. I think we slept together in a single bed half of the time we were at school!

Lots of memories--too many to write at one time!


This is the place of my first memories in life. One was of not wanting to go to bed when Dad was working on accounts downstairs, so he put me in a highchair and said I would have to stay up all night. Soon I was tired of that and wanted to go to bed, but he said I would have to stay up now. Child abuse! Or Parent abuse! Which was it? Also the long curved stairs. The bungalo was built outside the village but the local raja was happy to have foreigners there so he sent his masons to help build the big bungalo. It had a 14 foot ceiling on the ground floor and a 12 foot ceiling on the second floor, so it towered above everything else nearby. There was a long curved staircase as you entered from the front porch. And big verandas front and back, upstairs and downstairs.

Wanaparty was also the place where dad bought a small horse and a jutca or horse-drawn cart. We would pile in as kids and ride down one very long driveway towards the road that cut across the end of the lake on the front side of the bungalo, across on the main road, and back up the other long drive.

Not many memories except that it had some large shade trees around it, and we used to play out on the cleared land around the house. All the bungalos had clean-swept dirt yards around the bungalo. This was for protection so that we could easily see any snakes or scorpions out on the yard. In the grass these hid readily.

That's where I remember playing Monopoly with you by the hour, Betty. Like most of the other compounds, it had to be far from the nearby village by the decree of the Nizam, who didn't want Christians near the villages to evangelize the people. So water was a problem there, like in many of the compounds. It is where Rev. Warkentine died when he fell into the well when trying to have it deepened.

That's about it for now. Mahbubnagar and Shamshabad deserve longer treatments.