Letter 2 - History of South Africa - April 29, 1944

My Dear Ones,

I hardly know how to begin, but with others I can say? "I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel." I hope you received the letter I wrote last week telling of our intention of visiting Westfort. Granny Rousseau, her son Peter, Muriel Miller, Pieter, and I left here about 2 o'clock and arrived at Westfort approximately 3.30 p.m.

As we drove into the grounds which lie in a valley with beautiful hills surrounding, we noticed the cemetery on our right with a group of people standing around an open grave. Peter Rousseau and my husband jumped out of the car and went to look for our two blind brothers. Not finding them in their rooms, they asked a gardener who told them they were at the funeral. It was the funeral of the young man whom I told you of last week who had made his choice.

We hurried up to the cemetery and were in time for the last part of the service. It was only six weeks ago that Fanie began to sneak to him and not quite two weeks since he told Fanie that he wanted to turn his back on the world and follow Jesus in the Lowly Way. After the service, we walked down to a shed which had been erected for visitors to sit in. Benches were in the shed and the two brothers had chairs brought from their rooms, for them to sit on. Now that they are blind and can no longer help themselves, they are allowed to have a black servant, also a leper, one who is able to see. He dresses them and gives them their food.

Fanie has leprosy all over. His hands are very bad and about twice the size they should be, with sores breaking out on them ­some fingers are a bluey colour, bandaged. He is very conscious of his hands and keeps them out of sight as much as possible. Cornelius has nothing outwardly wrong with him, except his hands. No sores on them, but they are very swollen and blue. His stomach is affected. A few months ago, he was not expected to live. Seems he had an abscess internally and this burst, nearly costing him his life, but God spared him, I do believe for Fanie's sake, until such time that their walk on earth is finished.

Peter R. introduced us, and Fanie said, "I'm very glad to meet you. Sit down everyone. Come a little nearer, Pieter."

Both have difficulty in speaking, almost like an asthmatic person gasping for each breath. At times they lose their voices, but continue in a whisper to speak of all God has done for them. When one pauses, the other continues. We listened, often wiping the tears from our eyes.

They have no feeling in their hands. When they are given a mug of coffee, they put their hands together and are told they have the mug - then they raise it to their mouth, putting out the tip of the tongue and feeling along the outside until they reach the rim of the cup. Their lips inside and out are full of sores, Fanie even has sores on his tongue now and one wonders how much longer he will be able to feel with his tongue.

They told us about the man who had just been buried. When Fanie was feeling sicker than usual, he prayed that God would spare him a little longer if there was still someone that could be helped. He heard about Henry van der Westhuisen through his uncle (also a leper). This man, Mr. Dwyer, had been a deacon in the church. Every time Henry was very ill and taken to hospital, he would ask his uncle to come and pray for him. One day, the uncle said he doesn't know what is wrong with the lad - "he is so afraid to die." Hope sprang up in Fanie's heart, and he prayed that God would make it possible for him to meet this young man.

As soon as anyone new came to Westfort - patient or staff - they were warned about the two religious maniacs. Henry was no exception. When Fanie knew he had been moved near them, he made his way to Henry's room, and he began to speak to him about the things of God. Henry changed the subject. Fanie went back to his room, knelt down to pray, and asked God to forgive him for being so unwise. Next time he visited him, he spoke about his life - as a young man, when he used to play rugby. Another time, he told him of his life on the diggings, before he met Willie Brown and companion. Henry began to feel more at ease in his company and told them a little about himself. In this way, Fanie won his confidence and was able to help him spiritually. They were so controlled by God and so wise, that they thought it best - because he was so sick not to tell anyone of Henry’s choice because they knew that nurses, preachers, patients even his wife would do all they could to hinder, and they knew his time was short.

(When Henry was very bad and in the hospital - our brothers visited him. He told them he wanted to be numbered with them. They prayed that God would send His servants before it was too late. It was that day that Alec Pearce and Alex Davidson arrived unexpectedly. Fanie said his servant must please help him to change his jacket - saying, "Be quick, the time is short." Alex Davidson has spoken of this since at convention.)

While we were speaking together, the uncle, Mr. Dwyer and his wife, who had come for the funeral, came over to us and stayed to talk a while. He told us he had raised thls boy from the age of three, until 2 years before his marriage and loved him as his own child.

He said he had always been a good boy, but there had been a change in his life since he had met our brothers. Both blind men turned toward him and said, "We are glad to hear you say that." They never let an opportunity go past - Fanie said, "I asked Henry if he had told you of his choice to follow Jesus in His Lowly Way." As you look around and see how people are living and ask them, "Are you Christians?" They say, "Yes." Is the spirit of Christ in them? Jesus says, "If you have not My Spirit, ye are none of Mine." Henry no longer asked his uncle to pray for him. He had been praying "remove this cup from me" but now he asked God to help him to bear his pain and to lead him in His Way. They spoke to Mr. Dwyer until his wife, becoming impatient, started talking of something else.

I feel I haven't told you anything as yet. I can't tell you of the joy that shines in their faces as they talk of God, how ONE they are in attitude and action toward one another.

Cornelius' people stopped writing to him for two years after he professed, eleven years ago. His wife yielded ten years ago and shows a lovely spirit, also a son and daughter.

If you mention to Fanie about God using him. He just tells you how everyone of them has been a help to someone else. He said God gave him seven souls at Westfort and everyone of them were a help to someone else.

He said he wouldn't want to think that God had given him more to suffer than others. God knew best and saw it was needful for him to be broken because of his human nature, and sent him to that place. I don't think he can last much longer, he seems so weak. Perhaps there is still another soul that can be helped. His wife and a few others meet with them every Sunday morning. They also have their Wednesday evening meetings. All their conversation was in Afrikaans and their voices so bad I had to strain to catch every word. I feel I missed a lot, but I pray God, I will never forget the things I've heard, the spirit I felt and the spirit I saw in those two blind men.

When we said good-bye to them, they said, "We are glad you came, now you can pray for us." I told them our friends in America were very interested in them also and were remembering them. They answered, "That is lovely, that is good."

What brave wives they have. They also have suffered much. What a reward will be theirs when they have crossed the Jordan.

Mrs. Koekemoer took in plain sewing to earn a little money. Fanie, in the first years, kept a vegetable garden and sold veggies to the kitchens, at Westfort.

Fanie told us the morning he was to leave home. The car was at the door, waiting to take him to the station. He was on his knees praying, then he opened his Bible to the 39th Psalm. When he read the 2nd verse, he found God's message for him, "Now Lord what wait I for, my hope is in Thee." He added, "My hope is still in God."

Cornelius smiled at Peter Rousseau and said, "Peter you have spoiled us - we long for your visits already." On the way home, Peter said, "Now you know why I want to go there every opportunity I get. Could I take a picnic basket and sit under a tree, when I could be having such fellowship?" No, I don't wonder, I feel the same.

The sun had set behind the hills as we walked to the car. Our friends stood up, and taking off their hats, waved us good-bye as we drove off.

Now I know what it is that enables the servants of God to continue laying down their lives on the altar of sacrifice until they are consumed - the joy that must be continually in their hearts when they see Jesus manifested in the lives of such men. No wonder they are willing to leave home and country - if in their lifetime one such a sour is brought into the fold.

Hoping that you enjoy giving God first place in your lives. This has deepened my desires. I'll sign as Fanie does.

Yours in His Beautiful Way,

Ivy van Vuuren