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 in chronological order, so the best way to view them is by year, found in the index on the sidebar.
Dear Marian and Frank, Lisa and Eric,
Since I didn't write anything on the Christmas letter, I now will make an effort to tell you the news.
Before Christmas, I helped an agronomist missionary family as they got their things ready to move to another city. The seven of them slept here a night. A neurotic lady from our church came a week before Christmas and stayed for four days. Cliff had programs for three days in various places so he didn't have time right away to talk to her family. She has had mental problems for over twenty years and has stayed here before. She calls many times or stops by to talk, then I listen for an hour to two hours. About the only way I can help her is to listen to her problems. Her husband says he has a cross to bear, but the family could try to be more understanding. Another family that has problems is a Church of Christ missionary family. When she is overtired or under pressure, she has emotional outbursts. They have been in Brazil for one and a half years and now are packing up to go back to the United States for the other couple that works with them wrote to the U.S. recommending that they be ordered back. I feel sorry for them for they have many things to sell, then have to rebuy them when they get back. They were a risk to be sent here for they spent two years in Africa and she had emotional problems there.
The Church of Christ has different ideas. They don't use instruments in the church for the Bible says "to make melody in your hearts" which they interpret to be without the help of instruments. Also, they don't celebrate Christmas for they say we don't really know the date of Christ's birth, which misses the whole point. Some date has to be chosen so that we can observe it.
Helen is happy to have a second hand bicycle. It's been about two years since she decided that she was too big for her tricycle. Charles's old bike was traded in for a new one. Rachel got science sets which have a microscope. For a science project in school, Cliff helped her build a telegraph, which she got a good grade on. Another father helped his child build one. Cliff said it was going to be a battle to see which father got the best grade. The kids are enjoying the kitten born in the first part of November. Another one was given away on Christmas day. We think our kitten has a hernia. Cliff says that some day it may bump its head too hard against a post.
Next week we have Vacation Bible School. The children have vacation now until February 12th. Then Helen will start first grade Brazilian School. Right now she is half way through the first grade English course that I give in the mornings. Charles doesn't have too much homework, but Rachel does, so I have to supervise that during the school term. The teacher makes them work hard. Every two weeks they have to give a book report. Even though Charles doesn't have any competition, as he is the only one in his class, the teacher says he is doing very well. At times, Rachel lets things pile up and doesn't get good grades on a test, but her final grades are alright. Rachel, almost eleven, is 5 feet 2 inches tall. Charles is almost nine and is getting too heavy. We decided we should eat more fruit as all of us could lose some weight.
Some more urine tests done show that Helen doesn't have an infection, but she continues to wet. The urologist in Minneapolis wrote indicating that a medication which was given last July at higher dosages, so now she is taking it for two months at a lower dosage. Our field representative of the mission office said that we can take her to the Mayo Clinic when on furlough. I hope that the problem is solved soon. Before Christmas I spent many hours sewing plastic pants bigger for the night wetting, but the biggest bother is daytime wetting.
Our church was used in December for Baccalaureate services for college graduation for those who are Protestants. This week a junior high school (included ages 14-25) held services here after first going to the Catholic church. cliff had the service for the junior high school. A week before Christmas, Cliff attended graduation of the first class in our Bible Institute in Londrina. There were six that completed the three year Bible course.
We had an enjoyable New Year's with the Louie Becker family who live one hour from here. We played games with the children, went for a walk to the park and finished the day by singing Christmas songs and eating my birthday cake. Just before Christmas, we got a tape Cliff's family sent. We enjoyed hearing it even thought most only said a few words. It seems like they had a hard time thinking of something to say with everyone sitting around and watching them when they were trying to talk. Seems like Frank found it the easiest to talk. I haven't had Lutafisk or however you spell the fish dish.
We haven't gotten a letter from you in a long time. Hope you will write us right away when the baby is born. LaVonne wrote that Lisa is quite the artist, that she sent Mike a picture when he was in the hospital. I hope to get Helen to write to Lisa before I mail this. It's almost 100 degrees today and we are at the swimming pool.
Donna and Joey