New book recommended

I just finished reading a new book by two Pax men who went to the Congo 1957-

59 (at the same time I was in Pax Europe). They are John M. Janzen from KS

and Larry B. Graber from OR.  The title is Crossing the Loagne — Congo Pax

Service and the Journey Home. Its publishing date is 2016. It is large, 8.5 by 11

inches and 237 pages printed on glossy white paper. It consists mainly of letters

John and Larry wrote home regularly to their parents who kept them. There are

scores of photos many of them in color.

They served with Congo Inland Mission, building, repairing, teaching, and

assisting missionaries and doctors. I was somewhat surprised at their

comfortable living arrangements and accommodations of the CIM personnel.

They of course suffered hardships of various sorts the two years too. They are

observant and interested in the culture of the African clans they encounter. This

was in the era of great unrest on the African continent and movements for

independence. It is interesting to note that these Pax guys were thinking that the

natives may be too impatient and not aware of the benefits they receive from the

colonists, although they agreed that national independence was coming and saw

exploitation everywhere. Most of their time in Africa was spent in rural and out of

the way places where political movements were less visible. But they went to

cities on business too. Because they were trustworthy, much of the time they

were on their own in assignments with little supervision. My impression is these

were two young men with high standards, conditioned by family and church,

ethical and hard working and with great motivation. A Christian witness, and true

“service in the national (and world) interest in lieu of the military.” They at times

took risks as youth tend to do.

The last third or so of the book tells the tales of their Sept. to Dec. 1959 travel

home by their Citroen car, and by ship; to East Africa, Egypt, Lebanon,

Jerusalem, other Near East countries, Greece, Austria, Germany, Italy, Paris,

Brussels, N. Europe, across to London, then sailing home from South Hampton.

They often sleep in their car, and whenever possible visit or stay at MCC or Pax

locations. Being used to Congo climate they didn’t bring enough warm clothes.

They knew more what to expect in Europe and found it more like home, so

conclude that the African and Asian portions of their trip were the best. They

both have returned to Europe and other overseas places many times, after Pax.

One question I have is how they managed to fly straight home from New York,

without stopping at Akron for debriefing which I thought all MCC workers

did en route home.

A word about the authors from page 232: Larry Graber, who I know, is from Dallas, OR, has

a B.A. from Willamette U., an MSW from U. of Utah, worked in Family Therapy, was

Manager of Family Based Services for the State of Oregon. Since retirement he and

his wife Karen have volunteered in over 30 overseas projects. Larry was a

speaker at our 2002 OR Pax conference.

John Janzen is from Newton, KS, has  B.A. from Bethel, and a Ph.D. in anthropology

from the U. of Chicago. He is an author and taught for 45 years at U. of KS and other places.

They both credit Pax with influencing their career choices.   Both have children and

grandchildren to whom this book is dedicated.

We are indebted to Larry and John for writing this gem. Anyone who served in Pax or MCC

will find it fascinating reading. And many others will too.

Ray Kauffman

Jan. 30, 2016

 

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