Billy Graham Center
Collection 502 - Geraldine Julia (Hinote) Phillips. T2 Transcript
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the conclusion of the oral history interview of Geraldine Julia (Hinote) Phillips (CN 502, T2) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( )Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ]Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Bob Shuster and Christian Sawyer and Evan Kuehn and was completed in December 2005.
Collection 502, T2. Interview of Geraldine Julia (Hinote) Phillips by Robert Shuster, February 20, 1994.
SHUSTER: How was the mission supported?
PHILLIPS: By volunteer...all...it was by faith...faith mission. The church to which both Beth and I belonged helped a great deal, but other churches also. The board members were made up from people from many states, men and women and they contributed, and from their home ar...home constituencies too. Then Beth had done some deputation work. And we all did.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. What did the deputation look like?
PHILLIPS: Going to the churches who had invited us to speak, and speaking, and whatever the response was for this we were grateful. And often gained new workers that way too, people who would come and work. Had many different students (this is how my interest grew in the Columbia Bible College) because for many, all the summers I was there we had students...summer workers from Columbia Bible College. One was Amy McQuilkin, Dr. McQuilkin's daughter, the founder of the school's daughter. But all of the peo...all of the young people had a great impact on us, on us and on the work and ministry.
SHUSTER: In what way?
PHILLIPS: In...well, we had special activities. We had the camps and the Bible school during the summer we were there, and they were a breath from the outside. And because we accepted them they accepted - the mountain people accepted them too. And they introduced many new things that we in the humdrum didn't...activities and little things like that.
SHUSTER: Do you recall any of the things they introduced?
PHILLIPS: No. I mean they would be small things like kinds of games, or kinds of activities, like that.
SHUSTER: Did you ever feel kind of isolated or cut off?
PHILLIPS: Occasionally, but only occasionally. I was really very happy in the work there. I'm grateful for the characteristic the Lord's given me to be...usually to be content where I am.
SHUSTER: Why did you leave the mission?
PHILLIPS: I took a leave of absence from the...from the Kentucky Mountain...from the mission there, to finish up my college work. I was teaching...I'd been teaching Bible in the high school...high school club, for a couple of years, and they were raising the standards on the county educational-wise. And I did not have my degree, I only had my BIOLA certificate. So we thought it would be good if I'd go to a school and finish my college work to get a teaching credential, which I did, and that's when I went...attended Columbia Bible College, and they were...they would give in conjunction with the University of South Carolina there in Columbia they gave us teaching certificates. So that's how I...that's how that worked out, with the classes that I had from CBC.
SHUSTER: But why didn't you return to the mission, to the Kentucky Mission after you had gotten your degree?
PHILLIPS: [laughs] Because the Lord began speaking to me again about missions overseas. And it had come to my senior year and I was willing. I was attending an Africa prayer group, and I was willing to go but I didn't know where the Lord wanted me, whether Africa or India, or South America. I was very impressed with the book The Three Freds about work in South America. [The Three Freds : martyred pioneers for Christ in Brazil by William J. W. Roome] I don't know whether you've read that or not. And....
SHUSTER: The Friends?
PHILLIPS: Three Freds. The Three Freds.
SHUSTER: The Freds.
SHUSTER: Do you recall who that's by?
SHUSTER: Do you recall who that's by?
PHILLIPS: No I don't. I often wish that...because I want to recommend it to other people. It made a great impression on me. But I was praying that the Lord would show...many...most of my classmates knew what they were going to do when they graduated. It came to the month of April, and I didn't know, graduation coming up, and I remember praying one Saturday night for...asking the Lord to show me what his will was for me, where He wanted me to be, soon. And the next week we had three speakers from the outside, all from Africa. Two were from SIM. [Sudan Interior Mission] Dr. [Alfred D.] Helser and Mary Beam. And the third...the third day somebody spoke from the Sudan, so it seemed like the Lord was just narrowing it...the field, the mission and the field. I mean, the area, the continent and the mission, and the field that I should go to day by day. So I was assured by the end of the week, I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to go to the Sudan, the country of the Sudan which was then called the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, under SIM.
SHUSTER: Did you...?
PHILLIPS: Sent in my application and was accepted as a candidate that September.
SHUSTER: Did you stay in touch with Elizabeth Spooner, the mission?
PHILLIPS: Very much so, and visited there every furlough. And corresponded.
SHUSTER: I know that at the same time Elizabeth Evans in New England was...had a program of training young women to teach Bible in public schools, and was traveling through New England. Did you have any contact with her or were aware...?
PHILLIPS: The name again.
SHUSTER: Elizabeth Evans.
PHILLIPS: No, no.
SHUSTER: How did you come...when you decided to go on for your...to finish up your college work, why did you chose Columbia?
PHILLIPS: We'd had many students from there, and I was greatly impressed by them, and by what they told me about the school
SHUSTER: What did they tell you?
PHILLIPS: [laughs] What a good school it was, and how practical it was, and how practical it was and what a good system they had there, and the spirituality of the leaders and the students. And I found it to be so. It was about the closest to heaven on earth that I ever expect to be, during my student years there. Of course as I say, I was older at that time. I wasn't so giddy as a teenager, I was no longer a teenager. And I applied myself more. I'm sure I applied myself more. I still had to work part way through. My sister had to help me financially, and I had to work part way through and.... But they were very happy years. So they gave me one year credit for my time at BIOLA and I attended Columbia Bible College for three years.
SHUSTER: What were there...what courses did you take there that were important to you?
PHILLIPS: Well, I took the educational courses, and had to take Greek. Which were important, but I didn't...I didn't enjoy. I enjoyed everything except Greek and English classes, and Bible study, more Bible study. [Pauses] And homiletics. And I appreciated the fact that you were given the facts, you were given the different sides of the [pauses] different doctrines and then you made your own decisions. Whereas at BIOLA we pretty much were guided in how we believed, I felt.
SHUSTER: What's an example of a doctrine where they'd show...teach the different viewpoints?
PHILLIPS: Regarding the millennium (and I suppose that's the one that stands out because it's the most striking to me) and dispensations [dispensational theology] and so forth were there. And that maybe more open to studying on my own and finding out for myself, than just taking what was given to me in class.
SHUSTER: Did...was Halley's Bible Handbook a text that you used there at all?
SHUSTER: Halley's Bible Handbook, did you....
PHILLIPS: Yes, yes we used that. And Dr. McQuilkin, the founder of the school was there then, and I had several classes with him. Dr. G. Allen Fleece, and many others. Those are the names that come to mind.
SHUSTER: What was Dr. McQuilkin like as a teacher?
PHILLIPS: A great teacher. One, two, three, four. He was a good teacher. And had his humor along with it. And really walked with the Lord, you were very aware of the Lord's presence when he spoke. When he was in the room, but very much when he spoke. And a great man, and a...down to earth, he was very...he wasn't up in the heavens only. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: How do you mean?
PHILLIPS: He was very practical, very practical in the application of what he gave. I praise God for the sitting at his feet for those years.
SHUSTER: You said he was a great teacher and then you said "one, two, three four". What do you mean?
PHILLIPS: Well he went down...the points of his teaching were very clear. You knew what he was saying. It was very clear that he was saying this, and then this, and then this built on this. Two built on one, and three built on two, and four built on three and so forth.
SHUSTER: So very direct and organized?
PHILLIPS: Organized. Uh-huh, organized.
SHUSTER: What did he look like when he was at the head of the class preaching?
PHILLIPS: Radiant. And not necessarily always a smile on his face, though he often did have a smile on his face, but he just...you just were very aware...you didn't...he kept your interest. You just were there with him the whole time, and...and learning, profiting by it.
SHUSTER: What was his physical appearance?
PHILLIPS: He was a good looking man, about medium size, pleasant, beginning to bald in front.
SHUSTER: I imagine he also spoke in chapel?
PHILLIPS: Yes. He and many others. We had chapel every day.
SHUSTER: What kind of preacher was he?
PHILLIPS: Very good. A teacher-preacher.
SHUSTER: How do you mean that?
PHILLIPS: Well, I mean...it was to the point. Shorter, of course, than it would be in class. And one thought. However many verses he used, there would be one thought and he would bring that home from many different angles, and very. very practical. And the Christian life, the Christian walk with the Lord, walking in the light.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you....
PHILLIPS: Victorious Christian living, which was his theme, and it was his...it was his life.
SHUSTER: Was he intimidating at all to you as a student?
PHILLIPS: Pardon me?
SHUSTER: Intimidating at all to you as a student?
PHILLIPS: Not at all. No, I think not. Challenging. Challenging I think would be the better word.
SHUSTER: Challenging in what way?
PHILLIPS: You wanted to meet his expectations of you. You wanted to learn, you wanted to do what...you wanted to hear what he said because you wanted to do it because you saw it in him.
SHUSTER: You mentioned G. Allen Fleece.
SHUSTER: What was he like as a teacher?
PHILLIPS: Quieter, but impressive also. And a very good teacher.
SHUSTER: What was impressive about him?
SHUSTER: What was impressive about him?
PHILLIPS: [pauses] His sincerity, and his knowledge and his whole being. You were just very aware of the presence of the Lord when he was there too.
SHUSTER: Did the teachers of Columbia have...ever see the students outside of the classroom? Were there personal relationships between them? Did they have students over to their house or anything of that nature?
PHILLIPS: I don't...I don't recall that. We were a small school, of course, a smaller group when I was there than what it is now. And the campus was smaller, we were in a hotel downtown. There wasn't very much campus. [coughs] They were not unfriendly and if you wanted to talk with them they were not impossible...you could reach them. They were touchable, reachable.
SHUSTER: What was the student body like? What were your fellow students like?
PHILLIPS: They had graduate students there as well, but they were a much smaller group than the undergraduate. And they were, for the most part, dedicated and earnest young people. And many of them headed toward the mission field or headed toward Christian work before they came, that's what...before they left their lives were channeled in that way. A very large percent of the school...of the students go overseas and most go into Christian work of some kind.
SHUSTER: How would you compare BIOLA to Columbia? How were they alike and how were they different?
PHILLIPS: They both Bible centered, and at various stages in my life, my criticisms would not...had I gone to one and the other the other way around I don't know what my reaction would have been), but I felt that BIOLA was a good preparation for what came later in my life and at Columbia College, but I felt I myself was more mature when I had come to Columbia Bible College so I felt that it was that way too. But that may only be influenced by the way I felt, how I was developed.
SHUSTER: How do you mean the school was more mature?
PHILLIPS: Well, the fact...the thing, the chief thing that I appreciated that I mentioned was that they gave you all sides of a question (one, two three, four five, or however many) and then you just made your decision. It wasn't just channeled into a one way of thinking. BIOLA did not tell you either that that was the only way there was. They told you there were other ways. But they didn't lay it out as clearly, and as...it didn't seem to me that they did. Now, maybe they did and I just wasn't quick enough to get...open enough to get it, but it seemed that way to me.
SHUSTER: Do you think Columbia had an influence on your later life and ministry?
PHILLIPS: Oh, very much so....
SHUSTER: What was that influence?
PHILLIPS: ...and the friendships go on and on. Well, the impact of just what I've been telling you, of the teaching there and the lives of the teachers and staff. The dean of women and....
SHUSTER: What was her name?
PHILLIPS: Walker. Mrs. Walker. Don't know what her...can't remember what her first name was. [coughs] And other members of the staff, the influence that they had on us. We had roommates there, and at BIOLA we'd have single rooms, small rooms. These were a bit larger. And then we'd have suite mates because there was a bath...it was an old hotel and there was a bathroom between every set of rooms. And just gave us a wide variety of living additions and learning to live with different people with different personalities, which was...is good training, too, for life, and certainly for the mission field [chuckles]. And the example - every body (almost everybody) was striving for the same thing you were striving for.
SHUSTER: About how many students were there when you were there?
PHILLIPS: I wish I could remember. I think that the total must...couldn't have been anything more than a few hundred.
SHUSTER: So it was smaller than BIOLA.
PHILLIPS: Oh, smaller.
PHILLIPS: I don't even know how they compare now, but I imagine...then it was certainly smaller. I think there may have been about forty in our class.
SHUSTER: Looking back at your education at Columbia, there something that you could...was there anything that you would change if you could? Was there things that you wish you had learned, or some kind of different preparation that you wish had been available?
PHILLIPS: Nothing that I particularly pointed out.
SHUSTER: And you said it was near to heaven on off as you could get?
PHILLIPS: [laughs] As I expect to be on earth.
SHUSTER: How about....
PHILLIPS: With everybody having one purpose and going in the same direction. I think that's what it was. And the joy of the Lord. There were many living in the...living the victorious life, which was what was presented to us from all different angles.
SHUSTER: It was about...it was in 1941 that you graduated?
PHILLIPS: Yes, uh-huh. I was there from ‘39 to ‘41. I flied to SIM and attended kind of the grill that September, and would have sailed, except that the war was on and I didn't sail until ‘43.
SHUSTER: Did you...were you at the Kennedy School when you heard about Pearl Harbor?
PHILLIPS: I was in the Mountain Mission. No, I was in....
SHUSTER: Oh, you had gone back to the Mountain Mission.
PHILLIPS: That was December ‘41, I must have been home for Christmas vacation. I must have been back to the mountains for Christmas vacation. Wasn't that December ‘41?
SHUSTER: Yup. Yup. So....
PHILLIPS: Oh, that was it. I was home for Christmas vacation...home...I was there for Christmas vacation.
SHUSTER: Had...was your father still alive at this time?
PHILLIPS: No, he died in six...Wait, when did he die? He died in ‘49, while I was still in the mission. While I was still in the mission...while I was still in the mountain mission.
SHUSTER: In ‘39. [Pauses] So that...
PHILLIPS: Yes, he died in ‘39, and my stepmother died in ‘49.
SHUSTER: Did...you mentioned applying to the mission, what was that process involved, how did you apply to [pauses] SIM?
PHILLIPS: I sent in for an application, and they sent back blank the forms to fill out. And that would tedious, because you had to fill out...you couldn't copy anyone else's doctrinal statement! [Shuster laughs] You had to form your own doctrinal statement. And that was very tedious. When I got over that, then I sent it off. And the week after I sent it off, in the meantime my sister, second sister Genevieve had gone out to Hawaii. And Christian Ed...she had graduated from Wheaton in ‘37, and was interviewed by a couple, by the name of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Waterhouse, about being a director of religious education in Kalihi Union Church in Hawaii. And she had been accepted and she was on the ship and on her way there by August of that same year. And by ‘41 they recognized...the...the Waterhouses wanted additional workers, and so I received a letter from them, just after I had dropped my application to SIM in the mail and felt so sure that the Sudan was where I should go. And I received an invitation from them to come and join them, and join Genevieve in the work there. And had it not been that I was just so very sure of where the Lord was sending me, it would have been a great temptation to have accepted that. Not to have...not to have to learn a language, and to have a cli...a diff...a better climate, and to be with my sister. But I was very sure that that was the way the Lord was leading me, and so that's the way I kept on going. And was, as I mentioned was accepted and then went back to Kentucky to wait, because they were nearest in there. I did make a visit out to California that time that I was waiting to sail. And because of the war, we weren't sure...they didn't want us to be too far away because...at...permission might come through at any time. They were working toward getting permission on neutral ships, and that's finally where I did sail when I sailed in ‘43. It was on a Portugese ship, and Portugal was neutral.
SHUSTER: Were you interviewed as part of the process for applying, too?
PHILLIPS: To SIM?
SHUSTER: To SIM.
PHILLIPS: Yes. We do...then we did a month (well, they do now too), a month of candidate orientation.
SHUSTER: And that was in the headquarters in New York?
PHILLIPS: They often have it wherever the headquarters are, but that was in the summer of...it was in September...it was in August and September. And we were for a month up at New England Keswick, in Berkshires, in Massachusetts. What's the name of the town? It's in the Berkshire Mountains there. [pauses] They no longer...they no longer meet there.
SHUSTER: But who...who was supervising your month-long candidates?
PHILLIPS: Dr. Darrow was the director then. And he would have classes with us, and other members of the mission. And Mrs. Trout was the main one. Mrs Trout was...headed a home in New York...in Brooklyn at that time, and she was there at New England, New England Keswick, that's what they called it, New England Keswick.
SHUSTER: And you talked about the month-long candidate school, or the candidate process....
PHILLIPS: They were looking us over, and we were looking them over.
PHILLIPS: They were asking all kinds of questions, and they asked us all kinds of questions. And they saw...we were assigned work...assigned to do menial tasks...
PHILLIPS: ...like sweeping and cleaning the rooms, and cleaning the toilets, and keeping the yard going. And some did other responsibilities too, of directing different tasks and jobs and so forth. But they were trying us out to see what our response was to these things, and how well we did it.
SHUSTER: You said they asked you a lot of questions. What kind of things did they ask you?
PHILLIPS: Our testimony, how we came to know the Lord. Why we felt the Lord wanted us in Africa. What we intended to find. [tape turned off and on again]
SHUSTER: This is a continuation of the interview with Mrs. Geraldine Hinote Phillips by Robert Shuster on May 20th, 1994. You were talking about the candidate process, and how one of your friends said Roland Bingham had asked her if she knew how to cook. Why was that important?
PHILLIPS: It was important to know how to make bread because you always had...you needed...you had to make your own bread. There were very few places that you could buy bread. That was just by the way.
SHUSTER: Did you get to know Dr. Bingham at all better during the interview process?
PHILLIPS: A little bit. And he...much more intimate when he was in the same room with a small group, when we were being accepted...when we were being challenged. Yes.
SHUSTER: Were you expected to know anything about the Sudan, or the people there?
PHILLIPS: We learned more during this process when we could talk to people who had. And the Zam...the experience on the Zam Zam happened...I forget whether that was ‘40 or ‘41 but I remember that Betty...Mary Beam, who had been on the Zam Zam, came back to Col...(she was a Bi...Bib...Columbia Bible College graduate)...she came back and she spoke in chapel and told about their experiences on the Zam Zam. And that's really what clinched it, that week that I was praying that the Lord would guide us to where I should go. But then in conversation with her later, I learned much more about the Sudan.
SHUSTER: Of course, the Zam Zam was the Egyptian freighter, or an Egyptian ship which was carrying missionaries to Africa, which was...
SHUSTER: ...stopped by a German submarine and sunk [on May 20, 1941].
SHUSTER: And several of the American missionaries were interned in Germany for a number of years.
SHUSTER: You mentioned Mary Beam. Why don't we talk about her for a little bit. What kind of speaker was she?
PHILLIPS: Dynamic. She had red hair, and all the characteristics that go with it. [Shuster laughs] And she's a very good speaker.
SHUSTER: [laughs] How do you mean that she had all the characteristics that go with it?
SHUSTER: How do you mean that she had all the characteristics that go with red hair?
PHILLIPS: Dynamic and forceful, and energetic and never a dull moment. She was a very good speaker. And she had a lot to say.
SHUSTER: What were some of the things she said?
PHILLIPS: About the mission field, and about the needs there, and our...challenged us to have a part in it.
SHUSTER: What was she like as a person, when you got to know her later and during candidate school?
PHILLIPS: Very friendly. Very pleasant. And a dear friend.
JOHN PHILLIPS [husband]: She and Mary Cridland were very close. Mary was the mechanic
in the family. She kept the car going, changed the oil and all, sorts of things
SHUSTER: Mary Beam was.
PHILLIPS: Yes, Mary Beam.
SHUSTER: So she was more mechanical....
SHUSTER: Or practical, or....
PHILLIPS: And Betty Cridland took care of the office work and house work: cook...cleaning, cooking and so forth. Though I think they both did both, but that was the emphasis.
SHUSTER: What...what were some of the things that she told you about the Sudan, what kinds of things did he emphasize in talking about the work there?
PHILLIPS: She had then worked among...she was then working among the Mabaan tribe. Later she moved over to the Uduk, and that was where their emphasize was and is still today. But I remember her telling about how primitive they were, how difficult it was to buy fresh things and especially eggs, and how they would use safety pins as an exchange to buy an egg, give a safety pin for an egg.
SHUSTER: That's currency.
PHILLIPS: [laughs] That's currency. And the depravity of the people, and their primitiveness as I mentioned. And their need of the Lord, and their different customs.
SHUSTER: What were some of their different customs?
PHILLIPS: One thing is they snap fingers. (I can't do it anymore because of arthritis) They snap fingers as a greeting. And the kind of...the way they went fishing. Well, very much like the...similar...similar circumstances of the neighboring tribes do in their living in huts and they had pigs. Neighboring tribes despised the pigs. The tribe I worked among, the Dinkas, despised pigs.
JOHN PHILLIPS: They despised twins.
PHILLIPS: That's the Uduk, John.
SHUSTER: Why did they despise twi...pigs?
SHUSTER: Why did they despise pigs?
PHILLIPS: The Dinka did, because they said they were so dirty, they ate...they ate refuse.
SHUSTER: So like the Jews, they thought they were unclean.
PHILLIPS: Yes, like the Jews.
SHUSTER: You mentioned their depravity. How did you mean that?
PHILLIPS: Spirit worship, and spirit domination, evil spirit domination.
SHUSTER: After you were accepted in 1941, the fall of 1941, and you left spring of 1943, how...what did you do for those eighteen months while you were waiting?
PHILLIPS: I did some traveling and deputation in New England with Earl Lewis, and with...other places with Carl Tent. And I visited out in California for a few months, and did deputation work visiting and speaking to groups and friends, churches and so forth. But most of the time then I was back in the Rehoboth Mountain Mission, helping them there in classes and various activities.
SHUSTER: How did your friends, family react when you told them you were going to the Sudan?
PHILLIPS: They were all...they were all happy that I found out what the will of the Lord was. And I went with their blessing. Sorry to see a family member leave them, that part of it like any family, but happy that I was going into that work, and I appreciated that. I know some of those who candidated about the same time, one girl had her mother throw her Bible at her as she went out the door, didn't want to see her again. She...the mother changed prayer...thankfully, the mother changed but I was very glad that this was part of my family.
SHUSTER: Why did that girl's mother...why was she so angry at her?
PHILLIPS: She didn't want her to go overseas. I'm not sure she was a believer, but mostly she didn't want her to go overseas.
SHUSTER: When you finally got the word that you could go to Sudan, how did you travel there?
PHILLIPS: Went by train to New York and went in...the mission home was in Brooklyn at that time. And I was in...take that back, I was in Brooklyn I suppose, many months, maybe six months, waiting for the final word because they thought they had booking for us and then they didn't have it and then they thought they did and then they didn't so they felt that I should stay there. And then there were five of us, four others and myself. The four others were all returning missionaries, I was the only new one going out for the first time. And we did cleaning, and housework and cooking and dishes and so forth in the mission home, and giving...helping other new recruits in various ways, and shopping, and assembling things for our outfits, which would be paraffin lamps and dishes and leading and things like that. And camping equipment, helmets. Mosquito netting, and so forth. We're getting....
SHUSTER: Sounds like quite a lot of...quite a lot of stuff you had to get together.
PHILLIPS: Yes. There'll be missionaries who went out with [laughs] a knapsack or one box, but we...I had several containers, I'm not sure how many now. And a...and a camp cot, a folding camp cot. And that kind of thing. So....
SHUSTER: Were the expectations or the requirements for a woman who was going out as a missionary different than it would have been for a man?
PHILLIPS: As to the things that you took it would be basically the same, because you needed the same...I mean it was a primitive...there was nothing there, you had to take what you were going to have in the way of your personal equipment and supplies for a while. Personal supplies, shampoo and that kind of thing, soap and linens, and things like that. Bas...basically the same (I would think) as a man.
SHUSTER: But the expectations they'd have of what you'd be doing, or....
PHILLIPS: Oh, no. The expectation would be different. The men would be doing...basically they'd be doing...they now call it church planting, then it was still known as evangelizing, just going...learning the language and then getting out among the people and get...witnessing. Or, if you were a teacher or an agriculturalist, it would be different in that stage. Or a nurse, going into a hospital or into a clinic or so forth. I was a teacher, and....
SHUSTER: So the difference would be that men would be expected to evangelize, and women would be in agricultural work or in....
PHILLIPS: No, no. The women also would be evangelizing, learning the language, and...but going to the women. Some women said, after they'd been there in Africa many years, some had said they felt that was the reason, that there were more women than men, because the African woman were harder to reach than the men, because the men will gather in groups. They had more free time than the women. The women, you pretty much go to their doorstep, and are there with them, a group of two or three or four, or one. And in order to talk to them and evangelize them, and lead them to the Lord. It's a....
SHUSTER: So you needed to go house by house.
PHILLIPS: Yes, it takes more people to get...to do the same...to reach the same number of people.
SHUSTER: Of course, you were by that time...you had experience in doing visitation.
PHILLIPS: And it's the same the world over. I feel the personal contact, personal visitation in the home is the same the world around, is the way to reach people.
SHUSTER: Why is that?
PHILLIPS: It gets them on intimate...the need...the urgency of making a decision is more real in a face to face conversation than in a large group, where you can be very impersonal, both on the part of the speaker and on the part of the listener.
SHUSTER: When...what was your travel...what was your trip to the Sudan like, for the first time?
PHILLIPS: It was by ship (Portugese ship), we sailed from Philadelphia and 21 days later we landed in Por...Portugal [laughs]. You know, that's usually a trip of 5 or so days, but it was a old ship, and as some said, they felt that the Portugese brought their ships out of moth balls in order to put them into service, because at the...as the war was winding down, more diplomats and missionaries wanted to get back to their fields of service in Africa and India. And so this was happening. [creaking noise] And it was the...they had already...the ship we were on, the Serpa Pinto, had already taken some...one or two loads of people over to Portugal and left them there, no way to get out, except by air, and air was very scanty then in the ‘40s. Very scarce, and very expensive. Impossible for missionaries. And then they'd go back and get another load till our State Department, American State Department put pressure on the Portugese government and they put on another ship then, the Mussinia [?], and that took us from Lisbon although around to...those of us going to West Africa got off at the mouth of the Congo at a place called Banana, and those of us going to East Africa went on around the cape and up to Lorenzo Marks [?] in Mozambique, and from there we bought a merchant ship, British merchant ship going over to Aden. And it was a commodore ship of a fleet of forty, and (of course the war was still on), and then from there we got another ship that went over to port...from Aden to Port Sudan. And then by train on into Khartoum. But the travel by ship, along as we were on the Portugese ship, it was neutral, and we didn't have to have lights out, but it moved very slowly. It took us four and a half months, the whole trip. That's on land and on sea. And the merchant ship, the British merchant ship, was the admiral ship of the fleet, and they spotted Jap submarines as soon as we got on to....
SHUSTER: Japanese submarines?
SHUSTER: Japanese submarines?
PHILLIPS: Japanese submarines in the Indian Ocean. And the captain...we had been warned ahead of time, we had slacks...there were three girls and one man. The man had left his...Clarence Duff had left his family at home, and he was going out to get things started. And then three of us single ladies, one going to Ethiopia and two to SIM...two to Sudan.
SHUSTER: What were their names? What were....
PHILLIPS: Beverly McCumber and Clarence Duff were going to Ethiopia, and Ruth Miller and I were going to Sudan.
PHILLIPS: Beverly McCumber.
PHILLIPS: She's a Canadian. She's now with the Lord. And we...on this leading ship of the fleet (forty ships), and when they spotted Japanese submarines, the captain told us, if we were spotted, to make ourselves look as much like men as possible, so we wore our slacks night and day. We looked a mess, but we did, because you never knew what was going to happen when. But, praise the Lord, we got through safely. They spotted them occasionally, but no...we had no trouble. Got over to Aden, were there for a few days and then called another ship, went all over to Port Sudan, and then waited a few days to catch the train up to Khartoum, because the train only runs through Port Sudan I think two or three times a week and arrived there four and a half month after we had left...had left the States. And then stayed there, they wanted me to stay there and help in the office, helping with backlog of filing and different things that needed to be done. And then I went down to this Nile steamer, down to...by train, and then by train past the cataracts on the Nile, to a place called Kosti, and then a Nile steamer from Kosti on down to the town of Melut on the Nile river.
SHUSTER: So you were in Southern Sudan.
PHILLIPS: Southern Sudan. That's where I worked mainly the whole time I was there. A little bit north in Khartoum, but mostly in the south.
SHUSTER: What were your first impressions, do you recall, of Sudan?
PHILLIPS: Had seen pictures and had heard stories, so it was very much how we expected it to be, but Sudan generally is very, very flat. There are a few mountain peaks, and a few little bumps that they call hills, mountains, but basically it's very, very flat. In the north a desert and in the south the grasslands. The grass grows in the rainy season, six, eight, ten feet high. And vegetation all along the river. It was a very pleasant trip. The British were still there, and they kept the steamer...they instituted the steamer...train transportation. It was very clean and very pleasant, and we really did enjoy those trips on the Nile River. And the people were naked or nearly naked along the shore, and it was...different people. Once you were in the north, there were the Arab people and the women...everybody wore clothing. When you got into the south, there were more...they wore what they called the MacPhail [?] apron. An official there by the name of MacPhail [?] had introduced this piece of unbleached muslin, just a square cut-off and tied on the shoulders. The women tied it on one shoulder and the men tied it on the other. And that was the only difference. It was just a piece of clothe that wrapped around them, and they were covered if they wind didn't blow. And there was lot's of that, and they'd get...they'd start out fresh, new of course....
JOHN PHILLIPS: Two meters of [unclear].
JOHN PHILLIPS: Two meters, I think.
PHILLIPS: And that would be unbleached muslin, of which they made a lot. They...cheap exports from the Sudan were gum Arabic, which grows on a tree there, the acacia tree, and cotton. There is a lot of cotton there. Good grain, fine grain cotton just similar to what they have in Egypt, better than what they have in Egypt at times.
SHUSTER: Did you have much culture shock when you arrived, or did you adapt quickly?
PHILLIPS: Yes...yes, you have to adapt. [laughs]
PHILLIPS: It was a culture shock. And....
SHUSTER: What kind of things were surprising to you, or was....
PHILLIPS: Well, the nakedness of the people. And the primitiveness. The longer we stayed there, the longer I realized how clever they were to make use...or good use they made of what they had to work with. But the primitiveness of the people and their superstition and backwardness. And I found that in the mountains too, that they don't change just because you tell them they should. They have to see a reason for it. And we do that the same, it's...that's human nature. You don't change your customs and culture just...just because somebody thinks you should.
SHUSTER: Uh-huh. When you got to your station, who were the other missionaries who were there with you?
PHILLIPS: Harriet Smith, and Daisy McMillan, and John and Peg Phillips. I was saying....I was housemate to the first two ladies...with the first two ladies, and the married couple were the Phillips. [pauses] At different times, there were different people, but that's the ones I remembered when I first arrived.
SHUSTER: And what...what were your duties when you got there?
PHILLIPS: My first duties were language study. Of course we did the house work as...as needed, but with language study. And because there were so few of us learning the language at one time they tried to get somebody who knew some English to get you started. But we did have a sheaf of papers, maybe about ten pages, of typed notes with the language - sentences and conjugation.
SHUSTER: This was something the mission had prepared?
PHILLIPS: Yes, the mission had prepared. Dr. Tritiger [?] of the Sudan United Mission had prepared this of the Dinka language. And that was a real help to get started. And you would...if the person who was your language teacher could read, he would read (it was always a man), he (or a boy), he would read the sentence and you would try to mimic him and say it, over and over again. And did that part time, and then did the memorizing, sitting by yourself and going over and over it again. The next day doing the same and trying it until you could carry on a conversation.
SHUSTER: And you became fluent in Dinka?
PHILLIPS: Eventually [chuckles]. They let us...they give us about a year free from other duties and responsibilities other than just living, which takes quite a bit of time, boiling your water and preparing your food and so forth, but about a year before your first exam, and then you keep on learning from then on (some get in the second exam) and keep on learning the rest of your life. It's a big language. It was...I was among the Dinka tribe, D-I-N-K-A, which are the largest tribe in Sudan, and very aggressive. And I suppose that's why they're the largest, I don't know [Shuster laughs]. And very set in their ways, very slow to respond to the gospel, very steeped in animism and worship...spirit worship and reluctant to change. And I'd just been there for a short...a couple months when there was a need...one of the workers that had just recently come out was having some health problems and had to leave Abaiat, so then I went to Abaiat, and that really was my first station, and I stayed there the longest of any of the stations. But we had work among four different...we had work among the Dinka tribe on four different locations. I was at those four different locations at different times.
SHUSTER: The four locations were Abaiat....
PHILLIPS: Abaiat, and Melut, Melut where I first landed, which was on the Nile, and Abaiat, and Paloich, and Banajang.
SHUSTER: How would you describe the Dinka language? What...what are its characteristics?
PHILLIPS: It's a very rich language. They have many different words for the same...many different ways of expressing different words. And very full and [pauses] hard. [laughs]
SHUSTER: How do you mean hard? Hard to learn?
PHILLIPS: Sixty to sixty-four different verb forms. And complicated. And different of course than construction (construction's probably not the word)...of the way it's put together than a European language. The form, the way the words appear in the sentence.
PHILLIPS: And one word...one word that sounds the same to us but is different because...and it's tonal, and that's something that's very different. And some of the sounds are guttural, but mostly it's...it's straightforward.
SHUSTER: Is it a language that...in which it's easy to talk about theology or about God?
PHILLIPS: When you know the terms, yes. Yes. They have no concept of God as we know Him. He's just in the above, a spirit. And we don't know very much about him. They have their own folklore about how they came to be, and how.... The reason the white man is ahead is because God started him out...God started the Dinka out with the spear and the cow, and He gave the white man the car and the automobile, and that's why we're ahead. [laughs]
SHUSTER: What is the Dinka's story about how they came to be?
PHILLIPS: It's very complicated, and [laughs] I haven't thought about it for a long time. Came up out of the river...and I really ought to study that up again, I've forgotten what it was now. They worship different animals. They worshiped different...what we termed "totem," T-O-T-E-M. They don't have a totem pole, but they...that's what they worship, they call it the "yath," Y-A-T-H, yath, but we termed it the totem. And different families have that which they worship. And it's snakes...usually snakes, but also different kinds of snakes, the cobra and the python, and the vipers and all different kinds of snakes. But then they also worship things of destruction, like lightning and smallpox...and they [pauses] I guess that would be it. They don't really worship trees, but they reverence some of the trees. And there aren't many stones there. When the men did building, they had to travel many miles to get...many many miles to get sand or gravel for the building of things. It's very flat and...cotton soil, which is good for growing their sorgum, which they grow, and that's the main staple, which is a tiny kernel on the head of a high...in a head...
JOHN PHILLIPS: [unclear]
PHILLIPS: ...on the top of a high stalk.
SHUSTER: Well, this might be a good point to stop for today.
SHUSTER: We said we'd talk for about two hours, so I don't want to extend it too much, but thank you very much for this beginning, and I hope at some future point we can go on from this point and talk about...
SHUSTER: the rest of your ministry in Sudan.
SHUSTER: Many thanks.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
END OF TAPE
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Last Revised: 8/16/04