Letter to Marian and Frank, May 9, 1968

Donna Biel at a farm in Brazil.

My Aunt Marian kept many of the letters my mother, Donna Biel, wrote to her.  She returned them in 2010.  Most are recorded here.  They were not entered chronologically.  The best way to sort through them is to use the index on the sidebar and view them by year.
Dear Marian, Frank and Lisa,

We have had a taste of some cold weather.  It rained last Sunday and then turned cold.  Wednesday it was 41 at 7 a.m. and 49 in the house.  Fortunately, by Saturday it was nice again.  We got our barrels a week ago and have made use of our electric blanket.  The children have flannel sheets and Charles and Helen have sleepers.

Our barrels, gas dryer, sewing machine, etc. arrived in good condition.  Rachel and Charles were thrilled to get their toys as they have been packed since the end of January.  Boys in the neighborhood think the wagon is wonderful.  I spent one day separating things and putting each person's clothes in a separate barrel.  I have been doing some mending on the sewing machine.

Starting last Thursday, a girl from our church that is working in a doctor's office started living with us.  We had an empty bedroom and she has her own bedroom furniture.  She plans to stay here four months and then she will be married.  She does the supper dishes and pays about $9 dollars a month for food.  If we decide to go to a movie or visiting she will babysit.

Now I have a good helper who comes every day and stays until 5:30 and on Sundays until 3:00.  We pay her twenty dollars a month but she eats well and only weighs about 90 lbs.  She is 20 years old and had worked for five years in Sao Paulo.  I will need a good helper as it looks like the American school here will not have first grade so I will teach by Calvert.

The children and I went with Cliff to work in the rural areas.  One Saturday he had two services.  One was a wedding.  The kids were somewhat disgusted with the horrible roads.  On that trip, I got about 25 bites on each leg from a mosquito that lives near a river.  My legs swelled up and itching was terrible but this was taken care of by antihistamine medicine.

 Unpaved roads in Brazil in the 1960's


Friday we were gone all day to different farm homes.  Charles fell off a wall and on to cement where coffee beans were drying.  He scraped his nose and forehead and has big scabs but we were glad he wasn't hurt worse.

 Clifford Biel at a Brazilian farm in the 1960's

The farm homes that we were at were nice.  These families live about 12 miles from here, half of the way on country roads, but they come here to church.  Sunday we went to other rural areas where he usually has service twice a month.  The roads are better than at the other rural areas but when it rains hard he doesn't go as it is too hard on the jeep and several don't have cars.  It was interesting to see where Cliff goes but three little children who aren't quiet in church has made me decide not to go again except for Bible study once a month in the largest area.  In the rural areas the women preferred to speak German amongst themselves.  Sunday Cliff will be officially installed by a pastor from Curitiba representing the German church of Brazil.  A choir of 25 is singing for the occasion.  I hope they will continue to sing every Sunday.  In the afternoon, the women are having a tea for Mother's Day.  Cliff has started a Wednesday service with Bible Study and a film but so far the attendance has been poor.

Rural Congregations in 1960's Brazil: 

We bought linoleum for the kitchen.  It is pretty.  The other day parts of it had paint eaten away when we gave our sink a lye treatment.  I was cleaning with rubber gloves and the pail was accidentally spilled.  Now we will move the rug so the spots won't be so noticeable.  We were surprised to see that a wall of the living room was removable in three parts.  Now we have a dining room.

Thanks for your card, Frank.  We were shocked to hear of Martin Luther King's death and yet I suppose it could have been expected even earlier.  We don't get the Time Magazine now but Andy Olsen's sent us a Newsweek on King's death.  We are waiting to see who will win the nominations for Presidential candidates.  Frankly, I can't see Bobby Kennedy as President but he seems to be popular.

Tomorrow our city celebrates its 21st birthday.  There is a parade and it's a holiday for this community.  The governor comes to dedicate some new buildings.  The Japanese ambassador will be here and a Brazilian marine band that took second place in the U.S. at a band exhibition.

Helen kissing the Brazilian flag at the parade.

Are your plans any more definite about moving?  How are you feeling, Marian?  Harvey wrote that Lisa has to have supports in her shoes due to poor arches.  I'm not surprised for her feet turned outwards.  Will she outgrow this or always need arch supports?

Helen is quite a talker now- says short sentences.  "Shut the door, it is mine."  She says Jesus, jelly, butter, etc.  She misses Rachel and Charles when they are at school 8am-11am, then she sleeps in the afternoon, so she doesn't play with them much until epm.

I went to the delivery room with the American teacher at the American School.  I helped her translate as her Portuguese is more limited than mine.  It was her first baby- total labor and delivery time was less than four hours.

Hope we get a nice long letter from you soon.


Donna and Joey

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