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John Nicholas Christian Hiebert

Term Paper
Presented to Mrs. Sawatzky
of the Department of English, Tabor College

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Course English Composition

By Grace Hiebert

April 1948

On March 5, 1904, joy ruled in a house called "Cara Villa," situated in the outskirts of Mt. Lake, Minnesota. A little boy with the long name of John Nicholas had arrived to Susie and Nicholas Hiebert. The home into which he came was not of the wealthiest type, but whatever was lacking in material things was more than replaced by love and spiritual things.

Johnny was a normal child and behaved himself accordingly. One day his Aunt Martha Thiessen took him to visit the boarding school that she was in charge of. When Aunt Martha noticed that Johnny had taken along some beans to play with, she warned him not to put any up his nose. After a day of fun and looking around, Johnny came to Aunt Martha, complaining of a sore nose. Upon being questioned as to why it was sore, he flatly denied having put any beans up his nose. Inspection, however, revealed beans lodged in his nose. After the doctor had extracted them, Johnny requested that the incident should not be mentioned to his mother. Johnny returned home with his nose still sore, and his mother noticed it at once. When she asked for its source, Johnny replied, "Oh, I just hurt it--but I won't put any more beans in it."


As soon as he was old enough, Johnny attended the German School. Two years later he transferred to the local grammar school. John's playmates were not always of the best kind, and so he joined them in many of their escapades.

The Lord, however, had a special plan laid out for John. At the age of twelve, John accepted the Lord as his own personal Saviour. As a result of this he joined the Mennonite Brethren Church in Mt. Lake on August 20, 1916. Even this event did not change his group of friends very much. It was not until John was sixteen years old and a high school student that he fully consecrated his life to the Lord. Not long after that he felt a call to the foreign mission field. Immediately he began to change his course of studies. His group of chums also changed.


John did not take part in the school athletic programs because he put his time into study, work at home, and spiritual things. Twice every week a group of students met for an hour of prayer, and John became an active member of the group. He was also a member of a Gospel male quartet, and in this way gave many testimonies for the Lord. At the end of the high school years, John was the class valedictorian, a worthwhile reward for his hard work. The high school years were not all play and good time for John. Besides his school work, John helped with the chores at home. These were not few because Rev. Hiebert had a small dairy. Younger brothers and sisters also need attention, and it often fell on John to take care of them. Early in the morning, John would be out of bed and ready to deliver the milk. In summer he used a wagon, and in winter he used a sled. The snow drifts sometimes caused his sled to tip over, and he would have to go back home to have the bottles refilled. Summers were spent out in the harvest field, doing a grown man's job although he was not physically quite capable of the job. In this manner John grew up, building his body and mind as well as his soul.

The two years following his high school graduation found John at a small town called Kimbry. To arrive at this town called for doodle-bug connections and very much patience. Here at Kimbry, John started his mission work. A small church was put in use and services started. Sunday School classes and Bible classes were started for the children. John learned to love the people and the work, so it was with regret that he left them in order to continue his education.


St. Paul, Minnesota, was John's residence for the next two years. Here he attended the St. Paul Bible Institute, sponsored by the Alliance church. Not long after this, he turned his back on the bachelor's life and married a girl from his home town.

Anna Jungas was the only daughter in the family. Her mother took care of some cousins, however, so Anna was not without playmates. Although Anna's parents attended the Bethel Mennonite Church, Anna and her cousin, Helen, preferred the church John attended. During her high school years Anna was sometimes called on to take part in the young people's services. At one time she was asked to help take up the offering. A young man was also assigned to this job. When she met the young man in front of the church offering plate in hand, who should it be but John Hiebert. Maybe that started things, and maybe it didn't. Whatever it was, John and Anna began to see quite a bit of each other, and a warm friendship sprang up.


This did not seem to hinder Anna's studying ability, and she too was the class valedictorian. After some time, the friendship ripened into love, and Anna and John became engaged. It was not until a few years later that they were married. August 3, 1926, marked the beginning of their married life.


Both Anna and John felt the call to serve the Lord in Africa. In preparation for this, they attended the Missionary Training Institute in Nyack, New York. While they were there, Frank Janzen, a missionary in India, died. Rev. Lohrenz wrote them a letter, asking whether they would be willing to go to India. After a week of prayer and much consideration, the answer was, "Yes." This change in plans was a surprise to all the friends and relatives. After the school year was ended, Mr. and Mrs. Hiebert returned to Mr. Lake.

A home is never complete without children, so the arrival of Phyllis was proclaimed with joy. John was making a tour of some churches at the time of this great event. Although a telegram was dispatched immediately, the news did not catch up with John until two days later.


The Fall of 1928 and Spring of 1929 saw John hard at work in Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas. After completing his work here, John returned home to prepare for the trip to India. In July 13, 1929, Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert, with Phyllis, boarded a steamer for India.


India was very strange and dirty to them. Mrs. Hiebert, who abhors dirt, was probably appalled by the filth of the human beings as well as houses and streets. The trains were quite a contrast to the American trains and just as dirty as everything else. Soon Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert were in the Hyderabad Deccan, the location of the mission field. After a short stay in Hughestown they were asked to take charge of Wanaparty. During this time, Grace joined the family.

The following five years were spent in Wanaparty, and many interesting things happened. A daughter, Helen, was born, but God saw fit to take her home after a very short stay on earth. The two girls played with the Indians and learned to speak the Telegu language as well as the natives themselves. Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert also learned the language, but in a different manner. Paul made his arrival into the world, little realizing that he would be the only boy in the family. At one time Rev. Hiebert became deathly ill, and his life hung in a balance between life and death for some time. The prayers of relatives and friends were answered, and he was once again restored to health.

The last two years of their first term were spent in Hughestown. Elizabeth made her debut into the world at this mission station. The older girls were sent to an Hindu school, and then to an English school in the mountains about five hundred miles away. Shortly after that the first term was over and Rev. Hiebert returned to America with his family. They were met at the San Francisco docks by relatives and many friends.

The two years that were spent in America held many and varied experiences. The summers were spent in Mt. Lake, and the school months were spent in Oregon. The cross-country trips were made in a Studebaker that had seen better days. Very often the car broke down or boiled over, to the disgust of the driver. Nevertheless, the party always arrived safe and sound at their destination. One year the trip was postponed a few days because Phyllis broke out with measles. The measles were discovered shortly after the family had started on the trip.

One year Gwendolyn made her appearance in Salem, and the following year another "bundle from heaven" arrived. (Please note this very apt description - Jo) Today she is better known as Joanne. Rev. Hiebert attended the Willamette University in Salem for a term, and received his B.A. degree. Besides this he was required to make tours of the conference churches, giving reports about the mission field.

The last few months of their stay in America, Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert lived in Salt Creek, a few miles from Salem. Rev. Hiebert had agreed to take over a Baptist church here until they could get a pastor of their own denomination. Rev. Hiebert enjoyed his work here because the people were very friendly and interested in spiritual things. The very first service was a Thanksgiving service, and many good things were given to the family in the way of food stuffs. This kind act was very much appreciated. It was with regret that Rev. Hiebert left the church in order to prepare for the return to India.


During the furlough, Rev. Hiebert had been storing up funds to purchase an appropriate car to take back to India. A "38" Plymouth delivery truck was purchased, and then remodeled. Windows were cut in, seats installed, and the walls lined with rock wool. All this took much effort on the part of Rev. Hiebert. When all the necessary preparations had been made, the family took the last trip to the West coast, boarded a steamer and set sail for India.


This time India was not a strange country to Rev. Hiebert. In fact, it seemed more like a second home. The first two years were spent in the Nagarkurnool station. The older children were sent to an American school, while the younger ones remained at the mission station. Besides the regular mission work that he did, Rev. Hiebert made some house repairs. He even set up a windmill to generate a little electricity for the house. With funds provided by a kind friend, he built a trailer house that would accommodate almost the entire family. This, with the car, proved a great help on the tours to the villages.

During the hot summer months, most of the missionaries spend a few weeks in the mountains in order to rest their bodies and minds. Rev. Hiebert and the rest of the family wet to the mountains in which Kodaikanal, the American school, was located. The numerous hikes, car rides, and boat rides were all incidents that returned later as happy memories. The children spent the Christmas vacation down at the mission station. Going along with "Daddy" on tours was always a great treat to all the children. These times were the only ones that the parents were with the children.

The station of Kalvakurti was open and very much in need of a missionary. Since the former residents of Nagarkurnool were returning, Rev. Hiebert was put in charge of Kalvakurti. This station is situated in a desert-like country. There is very little vegetation and water is scarce. Rev. Hiebert supervised the digging of a well a short distance from the house. A school was started, and houses provided for the students' sleeping quarters. He also did some repair work in the house and again set up a wind-charger to provide electricity.

Although World War II had been in progress for some years, the missionary program had not been affected by it. When America joined the war, the missionaries were asked to evacuate India on ships provided for that purpose. Rev. Hiebert feltled to return to America, so preparations were made to that end. The boat was delayed quite frequently, so the last few weeks were spent under the sweltering heat of India's summer sun. When the ship was finally scheduled to sail, the trip to Bombay was made. Bombay was full of people that were to sail on that boat, and sleeping quarters were hard to find. June 1, 1942, found Rev. Hiebert at the docks, having a hard time trying to help a fellow missionary get his belongings and necessary papers together. By noon time the family was all safely on board, and shortly after one o'clock the boat left the shores of India. With mixed feelings of joy and sorrow Rev. Hiebert watched the shores of India fade into the horizon.


Six weeks later the lights of New York greeted the ship's passengers. They were a welcome sight to Rev. Hiebert because his youngest daughter lay ill with double pneumonia. It was only the excellent care and treatment that Joanne received, along with God's healing touch, that restored her to health. Rev. Hiebert stayed in New York for one week, showing the rest of the children the sights of the city. This effort on his part is still appreciated by the children that "tagged along" beside him. Mrs. Hiebert remained in New York until the doctors declared Joanne fit to travel.

The first year was spent in the home of Mrs. Hiebert's parents. Here Margaret put in her appearance. Rev. Hiebert made several tours of some churches during this year, and also put in some time at a Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Immanuel Bible School in Reedley, California, sent Rev. Hiebert a call to come and act as the principal of that school. The call was accepted and the family move to Reedley. The next four years were spent here, one year in the city, and the other years in a lovely country home. Incidentally, this was the longest period of time that the family had ever spent as a group.

The Bible School was gradually built up into a four-year Bible Academy by Rev. Hiebert with the help of Clarence Hofer, and later other teachers. The work was hard, and often Rev. Hiebert could not go home until late at night. Besides this job, he had been elected to serve as the assistant pastor in the large Mennonite church there in Reedley.

After three and one-half years of teaching, Rev. Hiebert resigned his job and attended the U.S.C. in Los Angeles. At the end of the semester, he received his M.A. degree. The whole family went to Los Angeles to see their "Daddy" graduate, and were very proud of him. Now Rev. Hiebert had his "MA" degree as well as his "PA" degree.

The few weeks following the graduation were hectic weeks. Packing, sorting, and repacking were the order of the day. Rev. Hiebert was once more planning to return to India. Another car had been purchased, a Chevrolet this time. By the middle of the summer everything was in proper order. The family then packed themselves into the car where they could find room between the boxes, blankets, and odds and ends. The trip to Mt. Lake was very interesting, with one night spent in the desert because of engine trouble. The car and cots provided sleeping quarters for all.

The short stay in Mt. Lake was spent in unpacking and repacking. The two older girls packed their trunks for college, and Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert packed their trunks for India. The ship was scheduled to sail on November 28, so they stayed in Mt. Lake until shortly before that time. After a short visit in Hillsboro, they proceeded to Reedley. There they finished the final packing, and then took the car and trunks to San Francisco. The day after Thanksgiving the ship sailed away, taking with it some very heart-sick passengers.


The third term in India has begun, and Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert are now residing in Shamshabad. Rev. Hiebert is building up the native high school that is on the mission compound. The first two years have just been accredited by the government. Both Rev. and Mrs. Hiebert have been teaching English classes in this school.

The inner unrest in India has created many problems for the missionaries. Hyderabad is at present a free native state. The other sections of India are putting pressure on it in order to force it to join with them. This causes considerable tension. The gasoline supplies have been completely cut off, leaving the cars quite useless. Food supplies are available, but flour is hard to get. Recently the M.C.C. had supplied the missionaries with flour. We are hoping and praying that questions will be settled peaceably and without any bloodshed so that the missionary work will be able to continue.


The End