days on a riverboat, they arrived in the small
village of Kinchwa to begin their new lives.
Her first challenge was language. She knew no
French, which was the official language, and
she definitely did not know any Chiluba, which
was the local dialect. She started her language
study by learning “What is this?” in Chiluba
and from there developed her own vocabulary.
She even learned the “language of the
drums.” Since villages were far apart with
no means of communication, drums were
used to send messages back and forth. This
method was also used for religious purposes.
Since none of the natives had any concept
of time and therefore could not understand
that church started at a particular hour, the
missionaries on Sunday morning would beat
the drum meaning “Time to wake up.” Fifteen
minutes later, a different drumbeat would
sound out meaning “Time to eat breakfast.”
There was then a drumbeat later for “Time to
go to church.” This, of course, did not solve the
problem with punctuality, but it at least helped
the faithful to be more faithful!
Culture adaptation was a challenge.
Martha had to relearn just about everything
—for in that primitive culture everything was
different. To do something too different would
raise suspicions in a culture already overly
superstitious. Culinary skills were developed
and soon cooking elephant and
grinding monkey meat into
hamburgers was mastered.
Martha's main job was
missionary children as several missionary
families lived together on a
compound and would have
one school for their children.
Later, she and the missionary
children joined with a
boarding school further south
in the village of Kijiji, which
had a total of ninety students.
In those years, boarding
school was the “norm” for
missionary children, and