Billy Graham Center

Collection 481 - Laura Isabelle "Belle" Barr. T1 Transcript

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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Laura Isabelle “Belle” Barr (CN 481, T1) 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. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Although the interviewer often confirms understanding with an “uh-huh” or similar sound, many of these are indicated in the transcript.

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 Timothy Gulsvig and Paul Ericksen, and was completed in June 2007.

Collection 481, tape T1. Interview of Laura Isabelle “Belle” Barr by Paul Ericksen, January 20, 1993.

ERICKSEN: This is an oral history interview of Laura Belle Barr by Paul Ericksen for the Archives at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. This interview took place at 8:30 A.M. on January 20, 1993 at the Media Retirement Center of Africa Inland Mission in Clermont, Florida.

Well, Miss Barr, why don’t we begin at your beginning. Could you tell me when and where you were born?

BARR: I was born in Quincy, Illinois. It’s right on the Mississippi River. August 28, 1914.


BARR: My name is really Laura Isabelle Barr, but several of the aunts were trying to decide what to call me after I was born, and whether to call me Laura or Isabelle. And then somebody got the idea of saying Laura Belle. So my friends and close relatives and close friends call me Laura...Laura Belle, but I answer to both, of course.

ERICKSEN: Now I understand that you were one of three girls in your family.

BARR: One sister and one brother.


BARR: Three of us.

ERICKSEN: And where did you fit in the...?

BARR: I was the youngest.

ERICKSEN: You were the youngest, okay. I remember you saying when we talked several weeks ago on the phone that you grew up in the Presbyterian Church.

BARR: Yes.

ERICKSEN: Was that a family tradition...

BARR: Yes.

ERICKSEN: ...going back.

BARR: Yes it was. Yes, my....

ERICKSEN: Your grandparents had been Presbyterian?

BARR: My grandparents and, I guess, even before that. But Grandfather was in Japan for fifty years under the Presbyterian Board [of Foreign Missions?]. And his children all went back, including my mother. She went for a teaching term after college and then came home and got married. But her sister and her two brothers both went back as career missionaries to Korea and Japan and worked there.

ERICKSEN: Now, what was...what were y...what were the names of your grandparents who were the missionaries?

BARR: Thomas C. Winn.

ERICKSEN: W-Y or W-I...?

BARR: W-I-N-N, just like Winn-Dixie [supermarket chain throughout the southeast United States].


BARR: Li...Lila was...was...Lila Willard was her name, Lila Willard Winn. And we never saw our grandmother. She died out there in Manchuria, I think it was. They were in Manchuria for a while. And so we never saw her. But Grandfather remarried and married a missionary there in Japan, and we knew her as Grandmother. She came later to us when Mother...she happened to be there when Mother was sick and dying and stayed with us for a little while.

ERICKSEN: Now he was...they were Presbyterian missionaries?

BARR: They were Presbyterian. They were all under the Presbyterian Board. And I...we were brought up under the Presbyterian Church. We moved to Germantown, Philadelphia, when I was about two or three. It was during the World War. You see, I was born the year the World War started, and I remember the whistles blowing in 1919 to finish the war [World War I actually ended in 1918], and we went out and had a little parade with broomsticks over our shoulders and things like that. I can remember that. So we were in Germantown at that time. And I went all the way through school from kindergarten through highschool and beyond until I went to the field in ‘44 in Germantown. And then I went to the field for thirty-seven years.

ERICKSEN: Do you remem...recall your grandfather telling stories about mission work...

BARR: Yes, yes.

ERICKSEN: ...that you could....?

BARR: Oh, I...I can’t...I don’t know that I can remember stories that he told, but he went in.... Oh yeah, well we have record of...of his early days there. He was...he went in in that push, after there had been a long time in Japan when there were no missionaries allowed, you know. He went in the [18]70s. And I guess that it had been opened maybe in the ‘50s or ‘60s or something like that. And he had terrific experiences of mobs chasing him. And then he...they were going on a boat somewhere, and they nearly all drowned, you know, going to a new place. And we have a record of that, the experiences of Grandfather in the early days there.

ERICKSEN: What...what kind of man was he?

BARR: A wonderful I can just...the picture I remember of him is on his...on one knee down and one knee up, looking up and praying every morning when we had devotions, you see, when...when they were with us for a couple of years at the time of my mother’s death. He was a wonderful old man. A very strict old man too. He wouldn’t ride the street cars to church. He’d walk on the ice to church rather than ride the street cars on Sunday, you know. [laughs] He was very, very strict in someways, but he was a wonderful person, and we have a wonderful heritage, really. Mother was...she was so interested in missions, and even when she was on her sick bed, when she was in the hospital after her operation and before her death, you know (several...well, a year before her death because she was sick for eighteen months). She used to have mee...meetings with the women there to tell about missions her ward, you know, with the other three or four women that were in the room with her. And she went speaking on missions everywhere. Mother was very devoted. And I remember so well when we were little singing with her, you know, on Sunday afternoons, I suppose, or any time, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Precious Jewels” and things like that, hymns, little songs like that. I can remember so well. But she got sick when I was...she died when I was ten, but she was sick eighteen months, so I was about eight, I guess, when she got sick and had her first operation.

ERICKSEN: Did she ever talk about her work on the mission field to you?

BARR: Well, I was...I was sort of young at that time.

ERICKSEN: Yeah, you were.

BARR: You know, you don’ don’t really know people’s not like when you’re older, I don’t think.


BARR: I ca...I can’t remember special...special stories, now. If I did know them, they sort of....

ERICKSEN: Where did she work in China?

BARR: She was in Japan. She went to teach.

ERICKSEN: Oh, right. Right.

BARR: She did a teaching term. [clears throat] She met father at Knox College in Galesburg Illinois, and then I think that they got engaged by mail, you see. But she went out to do a teaching term, three years, I think, something like that, under the Presbyterian Board. And then she came back, and got married, and we never went. But our cousins all grew up out there, of course, because her brothers and sister were out there, you see. So we had....

ERICKSEN: What was it like getting together with your cousins from Japan?

BARR: Oh, well...oh, well, they used to come back on furlough, you know, and...and then one of them came back to...she had trouble with her eyes, and she came back to live with us for a while Germantown there. And I remember her blowing on...blowing out the...the gas light. We had a gas light, you know, those days. And she was so used to just blowing out a kerosene lamp that she thought she could blow that out, and we had to tell her...I can remember telling her...not to blow the light out because the gas would keeping coming out, you know, and we had to turn it off. [laughs] Now that...she...she was an Eerdman. Mother’s sister married Walter Eerdman. Walter Eerdman’s brother, Charles, was in Princeton Seminary all his...pretty much all his life, I guess, at least at the latter part anyway. And Fred Eerdman was a physiotherapist in Germantown, and....

ERICKSEN: Going back to your...your grandfather for just a second. talked about how what you recall of him was seeing him praying.

BARR: Yes.

ERICKSEN: What was he like to be around? Quiet? Jovial?

BARR: Yes, I think so.


BARR: Oh, I don’t know. I imagine he was.... I...I just don’t think you...that I, being that young, knew...knew him too well, you know, but I know he was very [strict] strict. And he wanted...hi...his great desire was to get back to Japan, you see. It just happened. See, they were supporting themselves as retired missionaries in Japan.


BARR: They were really retired, but they...he wanted to go back so badly. And...but they just in the Lord’s provision they were there when Mother had her operation, and then they stayed with us several years and tried to train...Grandmother tried to train Lila and me to keep house, so that we could be left to do it. We had a three story house there, you know, and I was only ten, just under ten...


BARR: ...when Mother died. So we...carried on from there on.

ERICKSEN: Now who raised...?

BARR: Grandfather was very strict, though, about dancing and things like that, very strict. It was absolutely a...a no-no for him.

ERICKSEN: So then when your mother died, it was you father...?

BARR: Father and Lila and me and...and Winn. But Winn went off to college after...shortly. And then Lila left for college, and then I was left sort of alone. And I can remember when Grandfather and Grandmother left...the day came when they left, you know, to go back to Japan, and how I came back from school and went up into their bedroom to the chair where he like to sit and just cried, ‘cause they were gone.

ERICKSEN: Did you see them again after that?

BARR: Never saw him again, but she came back. But [pauses] when I had my experience Gipsy Smith’s meeting in 1931...1930 it was, in September 1930, after that, I wrote to him and told Grandmother and Grandfather in Japan and told them my experience. And Grandmother told me afterward how much it had meant to Grandfather. Because he died out there in ‘31, but it got there a least a few months before he died, and it encouraged him...gave him such joy to know that something had happened to me. I guess he knew that something needed to happen to me, having lived with us all [laughs] all the time. I had a bad temper as a kid. Used to fight, you know.

ERICKSEN: Now did you inherit that from one of your parents?

BARR: I do...I don’t know who I inherited that from. [both laugh] But the...they used to...the kids all thought I was a spit-fire, you know...

ERICKSEN: Were they right?

BARR: ...a Pittsburgh furnace. Yes, I had a temper. I can remember fighting a girl outside the school once and sitting on her, and...and the kids were all yelling, “Pick someone your own size.” [laughs] Yeah, I was....

ERICKSEN: She was much bigger than you I take it. [laughs]

BARR: No, I...I...I was bigger than she was, but....

ERICKSEN: Now, how did you come to attend the Gipsy Smith meeting?

BARR: Well, I’ll...I’ll tell you first that Lila had both agreed in our teens.... We joined the church when we were about ten or eleven like good little Presbyterians do, you know. But we both decided there were enough missionaries in our family, and we didn’t think we needed be religious. We were...didn’t want to get to be religious, you know, at that time. And Lila went off to college, and I cri...I was sad when she went to because that left me pretty much alone. And then, 1930, I was in high school, in Germantown High School. I saw that there was something going on in the Methodist Church across from the high school, and it was evangelistic meetings. And the cars lined up along the...there were so many cars and so many people, and it got my curiosity up. Now, all this time we were going to church and Sunday school all the time. We memorized Scripture by the chapter, almost, you know, from the time we were little. We...we memorized Scripture...all the time. And I went really out of curiosity, and it was so crowded I could hardly get in, so the next night I went back again. And then I went for three nights to Gipsy Smith’s meetings, and the third night was youth night, and I was doubtful of my salvation. I didn’t know whether I’d go to heaven or not. I’m sure I would have said I believed in Christ, but, you know, I had no assurance or I didn’t...I didn’t know. I thought, “If I die, will I go to heaven?” I wasn’t sure whether I was a Christian or not. So I determined that night that even though I knew people in our church would think I was nuts, that I would raise my hand. And I raised my hand and went forward into the inquiry room and prayed the prayer that he said to pray, “Lord Jesus, make my heart Thy home.” And it changed the whole course of my life, that decision, absolutely changed the whole course. I was immediately under the conviction that God had something for me to do other than what I had planned, which was to go on to art school. I was pretty sure of getting a scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts, and I was taking vocational art in high school and wanted...had planned to go on with that. But immediately, I felt maybe God has something else for me to do. But from that time on, there was never any doubt as to my salvation. I just.... Now when people say that these decisions don’t mean anything, I...I just.... If people are sincere in these decisions mass meetings, in evangelistic meetings, it surely does mean something. It meant everything to me, because I knew I was saved then. So now I want to tell you that Lila and I had decided we didn’t want to be religious, and so we were never going to go to Keswick. [movement with conferences emphasizing Christian holiness] “Let’s not go to Keswick,” because we’d known some girls that came out different, you know, and everything. So I...with fear and trembling after that, I wrote to Lila about...wondering whether she would ever consent to go to Keswick, and told her my experience because I knew that Lila needed to know she was saved too. And she was in college, in a Presbyterian college in Maryville, Tennessee [Maryville College]. And sai...and I also, besides telling her the story of...of this night at Gipsy Smith’s meeting and my decision, I said, “How about working at Keswick this summer?” knowing that we had decided never...we wouldn’t go, you know. She wrote back and said, “Let’ write and see whether they need any waitress or not, any other waitresses for Keswick this summer.” So she didn’t say a thing about my experience, but the letter, you know, but she said that. So I wrote, and they wrote back and said they needed one, and I said, “Lila must go. She’s the one that must go.” So Lila went Keswick that summer, and she knew she...she...for the first had assurance of salvation, gave her life for service, and her met her husband all that summer. And they spent forty years under AIM [Africa Inland Mission] in Kenya, Dr. and Mrs. James Probst. And they had six children that went back to five countries of Africa of their own accord to be missionaries too.


BARR: So that she’s the one that’s on the way home today. She and Jim are on the way home today. So....

ERICKSEN: Now, said that the two of you didn’ didn’t want to be religious....

BARR: We didn’t want to be too religious.

ERICKSEN: ...and you didn’t want to Keswick. Was that because you were afraid of what would happen, or because you were turned off by girls that you knew that were religious?

BARR: Well, we knew some that...that...I can’t remember who they were, or anything, but we just knew that people came out different, and we thought we didn’t need that, you know. That was our teenage philosophy, you know, but.... So, she told me...this is what happened when she got my letter. She...she was greatly troubled the fact, you know, that wondering whether she was really a Christian or not, whether she was saved. And she went to the president of the college (a Presbyterian minister was president of the college), and he said, “Oh, you’re alright. Don’t worry if you.... Don’t...don’t let that bother you,” and so forth. And that’s all he [pauses] could do for her, so she went on. And...and then she went Keswick, and...and all that happened to her. I was down there for just two conferences, for the youth conference and for the 4th of July conference, and it was a great blessing to me. Though I had been sure God had something else for me to do, I feel as though I re...sort of reconsecrated myself and saw...I saw that God could meet my need there at Keswick. I was...I was a spitfire, I guess, and had a temper, but I was [pauses]...I just saw that He could meet my need.

ERICKSEN: Do you...?

BARR: And I was shy. I was shy, really, and sort of self-conscious, you know. And...and there was a difference there. And I remember throwing myself on the bed and crying and praying the Lord to help me. And then the Lord st...led step by step. I talked to different people about giving up art, you know, and going on the mission field. Lila...Lila sai...the boy that she met there, she...he was with the Westervelt missionary family when they came to Keswick. And he was an MK [missionary kid] from Kenya, you see. His parents were missionaries in Kenya under AIM [Africa Inland Mission], so that was really our contact...I guess, my contact with AIM. But Philadelphia quite a center of center of interest...I mean, there’s a lot of interest there in AIM, because it came out from Philadelphia, sort of started there. [AIM had its headquarters in Philadelphia for many years.]

ERICKSEN: Do you remember who the speakers were at Keswick when you were there?

BARR: Captain Wallace was one of them, from Ireland, Captain Wallace. He was the main one, I think, at the youth the youth conference tha...that time. I can’t remember, but there are...I remember the...the day verses and all. And it was all on faithful...God is faithful. Different verses, you know, that they put up each day. I can’t remember the other speakers, I don’t think.

ERICKSEN: Can we go back to the Gipsy Smith meeting for a minute?

BARR: Yes.

ERICKSEN: What was...what did Gipsy Smith look like?

BARR: Well, he, as I remember him, he looked.... Did he have a beard? Honestly, I can’t remember. I think he had a beard. I honestly can’t remember too well what he....

ERICKSEN: Tall man? Short man?

BARR: No, not tall, no. Just ordinary, I’d say.

ERICKSEN: And how big was the...the meeting...?

BARR: And it was in was in a liberal church. That was the thing, too. It was most unusual to think of. It was very...quite a liberal Methodist church. But the pastor was from Wales, I believe, and he had met Gipsy Smith years before and said once, “You oughta come sometime to my place.” And the...and he did. [Ericksen laughs] He took him up on it, and...and came and there in that liberal church this meeting went on. Crowded out every night you know, and that really got my interest.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember...?

BARR: But I remember, “Guide Me, O, Thou Great Jehovah.” That was the way he sang it, again and again, “Guide me, O, Thou Great Jehovah, pilgrim in this barren land.”

ERICKSEN: What kind of voice did he have?

BARR: He had a good voice I think, because he sang.


BARR: But I can’t remember too well, really, what it sounded like.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember what his sermon topics were?

BARR: Oh no, I don’t [laughs] remember that. No. That was in 1930. That’s...


BARR: ...sixty....

ERICKSEN: Do you remember what his preaching was like?

BARR: No, I can’t remember. I don...I don’t remember too well. But I remember shaking hands with him afterwards...he he came out, and telling him...speaking to him, you know.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember what you told him?

BARR: No. I told him...[laughs]...I can’t remember the words I said, but I told him I’d made a...a decision that I’m sure would change my life and all. I honestly can’t remember what I said to him, but I said something, you know.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember what he...?

BARR: And then I started going to evangelistic meetings all over Philadelphia. [laughs] I was never interested in them before.

ERICKSEN: Now what did you...?

BARR: But I remember to hear Uldine Utley. She was a...a girl evangelist. But then interest was completely different than it had been before. And I wanted to tell you too...I should tell you that after that meeting that night, even though we had studied, memorized Scripture all our childhood and so forth, I went home to father that night, and with tears running down my cheeks, I said, “Father, I want to know this book. I want to understand this book.” And here I had...I had recited the whole Sermon on the Mount [see Matthew 5-7] to Grandmother without a mistake. You know, I could...I could recite Scripture. Don’t ask me to do it now. [laughs] But I...that was a...a complete change toward the Word of God in.... We had studied it, we had memorized it, and all. But now it really meant something, you know, to me. And...and there was a complete change in my heart toward...toward the Word of God that time.

ERICKSEN: What was your dad’s reaction to your conversion?

BARR: Oh, he was...he was glad, of course.

ERICKSEN: What was your dad like?

BARR: He wasn’t as outgoing as Mother, you know, and...but he was...he was a sincere Christian, and all. And he...he worked in physiotherapy with Dr. Fred Eerdman for a while. It was a...a method of controlling the circulation that Dr. Urdman did. I don’t know where... whether he...where he got it, but he had a sanatarium in Germantown and many, many people were helped by this. A lot of missionaries were helped, really. They...a method of controlling of circulation by cold or warmth on the spine.


BARR: But Father never married, you know. He...he was from 1925 to 1960, he never married again. And either Lila or I were with him all the time until we went to the mission field. I went in ‘44, and Lila went in ‘46. And then he went to live with my brother in Kentucky, who was a Southern Baptist minister by that time, and spent the fourteen...the last fourteen years of his life there and died in 1960. My brother and his wife had brother had gone down as a missionary to the mountains. And he married...he...he married down there a friend that he’d met...a friend of mine too. They’d met in the North. And she died within a year. It was a very sad thing. I was afraid he’d be a hermit the rest of his life. It him so hard. I was with him at the time she died. Very tak...sudden...suddenly taken sick and died in a few days. But then he...he fell in love with a county health nurse there from New Jersey who was down there working with a retired missionary who was county in the mountains. And they had four.... She’s the one that...that I knew...that I came back to from Africa. They had forty some years together and raised four children. But he...he became a Southern...he decided to join the Southern Baptists down there. And from there on he was in various places in Kentucky the Southern Baptist Church. And then he was in Baltimore when I came home. And I lived with him for a year to help them when I first came home after I left finally the mission field, before I came here to Media [AIM’s retirement center in Claremont, Florida].

ERICKSEN: Now did you come to go to Columbia Bible College?

BARR: Well I...I think I must have...I must have met people there at Keswick about...and learned about Columbia. I....I marvel myself at my nerve or faith or whatever to go off seven hundred miles like that, not knowing. But it was the, it was just the place for me. And it was at Columbia Bible College, even though I had consecrated my life to the Lord and all, it was there that I made it my purpose to go to the mission field. You can’t go to Columbia without seeing the need of the world. And I...I made it purpose to go, and from then on, I was sure I was going.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember deciding between Columbia and any other schools?

BARR: Well, I went to Bible Institute of Pennsylvania for one year evening school with my sister. And then she went on in that and finished there. But I...I don’t [pauses]...I can’t remember exactly, but I just...I felt the Lord...I just felt...I was stepping out on faith in a way, really, doing it, but worked out alright. We weren’t rich, and we didn’t have a lot of money. And I didn’t know where my money was coming from, but it worked out alright. I worked as much as I could, but you have to study hard at Columbia. You can’t spend much time working either. But God worked in a wonderful way all through.

ERICKSEN: And were you in the...the missionary course?

BARR: I was just in their regular diploma two-year course, Bible course, yeah. No, it wasn’t especially a missionary course, I don’t think.

ERICKSEN: Did the point you went in envision yourself being a missionary when you came...I mean, whether you...?

BARR: Well, I knew that God wanted me to do something, that he would...he had some purpose, and I was willing...I...I was ready to do whatever it was. But...but I hadn’t really made it purpose to go to a foreign field, you know. But I can remember in those days, when I wasn’t sure, I used to talk to people. And I went to Isaac Page [associated with China Inland Mission; had a great influence on young people committing themselves to ministry and missionary service] once...when I...when I was thinking about going under AIM. And I didn’t want it to be said...I didn’t want to go because Lila was going there, you see, because she was connected with AIM, being with Jim. And [clears throat] I just asked him what he thought about it. He said, “That might be a very good reason for you to go, that she’s going there.” Well, I was aiming for Kenya. Maybe I can tell you this. I was aiming for Kenya. But they wanted only trained teachers and nurses. By that time I’d had a one-year nursing course in Booth Hospital in New York, but I wasn’t really a trained nurse. So after years of waiting I decided that I was interested in Congo too, and I would write Mr. [Ralph] Davis and tell him, “Let me go to Congo, if I can get into Congo.” So he had written a letter and it crossed mine in the mail, suggesting that I go to Congo. So I was aiming for Congo, and then when I was up in the [AIM] office in New York in Brooklyn once before...I can’t think just what year it was...shortly before I was going I guess...he...he said, “Now you can get into Kenya if you want to. They’re taking...they...we can go to Kenya, where you first wanted to go.” And I had to make up my mind in just a minute or two. My whole life, you know. I said, “I’ll stick with Congo.” So I did. And then...and then God put me right there. Translation needed to be done, and I had been to Wycliffe [Bible Translators] a couple of times, you see, to the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Not that I intended translate especially, but I felt that whatever I was going to do, it would be a help to go to Wycliffe, so I went. I went in 1940, and when...that was quite an early year for Wycliffe. They started in ‘36, I think, and...and then I went in ‘43. Twice.

ERICKSEN: Now what was it about Kenya that attracted you?

BARR: Well, it was just that I...I guess that I knew...knew about Kenya more, and.... [pauses] Nothing special. And Lila was going there, of course, you see, and I didn’t want to go just because Lila was going there, but.... Wonderful how the Lord leads before you know what you’re going to do, really. It’s....

ERICKSEN: Now what were the actual years that you were at Columbia?

BARR: I was there in ‘33 to ‘35.


BARR: I graduated in ‘35.

ERICKSEN: And then when were you at Booth Hospital?

BARR: About’36. Let’s see, I was there the year after Lila was. I think it was ‘36 to ‘37 or something like that, yeah. And then I worked in Brooklyn Eye & Ear Hospital after Booth. And then I worked in Salvation Army Hospital in Cleveland for a while. But when I was...when I went up to Brooklyn, to the Brooklyn Eye & Ear Hospital.... You see, I had been to the mission. I think I told you or said something about this on the phone. I had been to the mission before, but I didn’t know where it was in Brooklyn. You know, I ‘d been up for a farewell meeting or something in someone’s car. So when I went to the Brooklyn Eye & Ear Hospital, one e...the first evening I...I...I went out, and I thought I’m going to look and see if I can see Carleton Avenue around anywhere here. And it was one of the bounding streets of the hospital. And here I was just diagonally across from the mission headquarters there. So I was in on the activities of the mission there, and I applied while I was there and was accepted by the New York Committee you see, and then.... And that was in ‘38, and I didn’t get out ‘til ‘44. I had a long wait because it was the war, you know. It was difficult. And then, after I’d been out in Cleveland I decided I needed to myself get to Africa, because the price kept going up and everything. If I were worked, people thought I was losing my vision. And if I didn’t work, some people thought I ought to work. You know, it was difficult, really, that way, but....

ERICKSEN: Did people put pressure on you?

BARR: Well, some people in the church, you know, and the church was...was Church of the Open Door. By the way, we...we left the Presbyterian Church in 1936, and I was a charter member of the Church of the Open Door. Merrill T. McPherson, when he left the Presbyterian Church, you see, then.... And then....

ERICKSEN: What was McPherson...?

BARR: they were...they were interested.... Pardon?

ERICKSEN: No, go. You go ahead, and I’ll...I’ll....

BARR: Well, I...I knew that they were interested in s...they were interested in me, you know, and everything.


BARR: [pauses] I...I decided I needed to help support myself and earn some money, so I went to...into defense work in Bendix in Philadelphia.

ERICKSEN: And what time period was...did that cover?

BARR: That would be...‘40 [pauses]...‘40...‘40 or ‘41, somewhere around in there. Well, I was up t...I was there until I.... No, it was a little later than that because I...I left Bendix to go to Wycliffe again in ‘43. It must have been’42 and ‘43 or so that I worked on airplane instruments there. I did close-up work on some instruments, on turn-and-bank instruments and rate-of-speed, I think it was. Close-up work when you...when you put the glass on and then bezels [groove or flange designed to hold a beveled edge] and everything and then...and screw it up.

ERICKSEN: Oh I see, closing up.

BARR: And not a...not a foot of dust must be in there, you know. And we were in an air-conditioned...big air-conditioned room and everything, and we had vacuum things right there and everything. But it was was a job get it in, because if you had a speck of dust in there, the inspectors would find it and put it back on your desk for the next night, you know, and every....

ERICKSEN: Did that happen much?

BARR: Sometimes, yeah, oh yeah. And then I got onto a job that nobody else wanted to do. It was to was to solder a...a little pin on a thing about an inch...a little thing about an inch long and...and eighth of an inch wide or so, with a pin on one end and a hub in the middle. And it was for their [pauses]...for one of the other instruments. And you had to solder that little pin on perfectly even so it would run around even in the hub, you know. And I did it so well, I couldn’t get...get out of the job. [laughs] Nobody wanted to do it. And then I began to get a post-nasal drip from breathing the fumes of this soldering, you know. So I told them I was gonna...I went to the company doctor and he told me that that was what it was. So I told them I...that I wanted to be changed, or...or else I’d...if I...I couldn’t go on doing it. And all the big men came one time around in my place there, the big men of Bendix decide whether I could use the vacuum-sucking thing to suck those fumes, whether it would hurt the system, you know, or something. And they decided to let me do it, so they put a big sort of a funnel there that would suck all those fumes in. [laughs] So then I went on with...with my soldering.

ERICKSEN: Did it work?

BARR: Yeah, it worked. Uh-huh. But then I left, you see, go to...I thought, “So I must get myself going.” I had thought maybe of going to Mexico if I couldn’t go anywhere else. I had been in the southern mountains to work for a while. I’d worked in Kentucky for a while. And I thought, “I must...I must get going.” So I...I was...I was leaving Bendix to go back to Wycliffe one more time in ‘43, you see. And they thought I was crazy, of course, and I was.

ERICKSEN: They at Bendix?

BARR: Well, the fellas that worked around there. They thought I was sort of, you know, they...I’d tried to witness to them, and they used to make fun of my church and everything. And they were drinking themselves into the grave, you know, some of them. And....

ERICKSEN: Now where were you going to church when you were working there?

BARR: Church of the Open Door. Yeah, see.

ERICKSEN: Oh, okay.

BARR: Yeah, they...they.... That....

ERICKSEN: Did the Church of the Open Door have kind of a reputation in the area?

BARR: Oh, yes. I think so, yeah.

ERICKSEN: What was Reverend McPherson like?

BARR: Oh, he was a.....

ERICKSEN: What do you remember about him?

BARR: His wife is still living. She...she lives right down on Lake Worth [on Florida’s east coast, south of Palm Beach] and she’s ninety-four or five years old. She’s a wonderful person. He was quite a wonderful person really, you know. He...but he was put out of the Presbyterian Church, you know. The door was closed. It was was that controversy, you know, at the time of the...[J. Greshem] Machen [conservative Presbyterian theologian and leader that led a withdrawal from the Presbyterian Church USA and Princeton Seminary, and helped form Westminster Theological seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church] and the Virgin Birth and all that, you know. I didn’t know him too personally, you know, but he took quite an interest in...and he was responsible for getting support for me. I remember...he...he knew a man who was an old man that was an underwear manufacturer up there in Pennsylvania somewhere, and he got us together, ‘cause he...he...he wanted him to see me and see whether he.... So he took me on, this...this man, through the church, you see. And then, of course, after he died, after the man died, the church carried on my support, and they’ve don...they’ve supported me since 1944 and it’s still supporting me. I’m...I’d...I wouldn’t have expected it, you know, all these years since I’ve come home, even at the same rate that...that they were giving when I came home, which...which is not what it would be now, of course.


BARR: But they still [pauses]...still support me. [pauses] So then, that was the...when I came back from Wycliffe, that was the time when I went to see my brother and his wife in Kentucky, and my trunk went to Philadelphia to the Broad Street Station and was waiting there for me.

ERICKSEN: Now what was it...?

BARR: And while I was away, the station burned.

ERICKSEN: What was in your trunk?

BARR: All my notes from Wycliffe...


BARR: ...and all my best flannel graphs, which I’d made myself, and books, and othe...everything I had with me, a lot of things that I wanted, you know.

ERICKSEN: Do you recall your emotions when you heard that it had burned?

BARR: Well, of course, I was s...sad when I...


BARR: know that it was probably gone, all of it. And I got a little bit of remuneration from it, I think, but not much. And that was the first thing, and then I...then I...when...when I was actually packed and sent this stuff off to New York, something came and crashed into the truck that my stuff was in, you know. I believe I told you that too. So that a lot of the trunks had to be recrated sort-of or...or at least strengthened or crated around, and some things were destroyed. And...and there was quite some...quite a bit of loss there. My brother said to me, “Maybe the Lord doesn’t want you to go.” But I was...I was afraid maybe it was someone else that didn’t want me to go.

ERICKSEN: Meaning?

BARR: The opposite power [referring to the devil]. [laughs]

ERICKSEN: Yep, okay. Now applied to Africa Inland Mission in 1938.

BARR: In ‘38 was accepted.

ERICKSEN: And...and you were accepted. What was your status with the mission during this whole period?

BARR: I was just an accepted candidate. That was all. I was on my own of course, but...but then they weren’t sending out so many [unclear]. But then they decided to try going by way of Lisbon, and we got into...I got in...into a party going by way of Lisbon, the first one that went that way.

ERICKSEN: And that of course was before the war was over.

BARR: Oh yes. We...we looked for periscopes in the ocean all the time. [laughs] We had money bags around us, and, you know, with port papers in it and everything, yeah. But it was a neutral ship. It was supposed to be safe, but you never knew.

ERICKSEN: Whose ship was it? What country was it?

BARR: Portugese.

ERICKSEN: Okay. But you knew....

BARR: The Serpa...the Serpa Pinta. And it was printed big, you that su...submarines could see that it was Portugese ship. But the of the s...sailings after that, maybe...I...I don’t think it was the same ship, but another Portugese rode on the same line. When it was coming across, it was stopped by the the Germans, and the...they all had to get out into lifeboats and float around on the ocean for two hours or so, two or three hours, until they heard from Berlin whether to sink it or not. Whether they were looking for some individual or not, I don’t know. But that...the d...the ship’s doctor fell in and was drowned, and a baby fell in and was drowned from that boat. And the next sailing after that, they made a big circle, I heard, around and dropped flowers the ocean at that place, you know. So you really didn’t know. We went...and then we were in Lisbon. We really enjoyed our time in Lisbon. It was interesting. First time we’d ever been out of the country, you know, and it was.... We had seven weeks. We thought we were booked straight through. There were two hundred missionaries milling around in Lisbon at that time. [Ericksen laughs] And not...all of them. We all thought we were booked straight through, but they had a good thing going, you know. We had to go the police every week or so and pay a little bit to stay. And we never knew when our names would come up. You had to watch the bulletin board at the steam ship company to see when...and even divided parties sometimes, you know, sending Mom. So we really had a good time seeing Lisbon and all around and the interesting places and everything. We stayed in a boarding house there, and we really enjoyed it. And we were...we were one couple and three single women: Millia [sp?] Olson and Evelyn Camp and I, and the Ralph Coles [family], in that party.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember what your monthly support was when you started?

BARR: I can’t remember if it was forty or sixty or seventy. Something like that. It was something very small.

ERICKSEN: How you remember the pri...the cost had changed from ‘38 when you had first applied to when you left?

BARR: No, I don’t remember that. I don’t remember what it was in ‘38, no.

ERICKSEN: Okay. Now when you went to...went to said before it was just to get some exposure, thinking that it would be helpful.

BARR: A help no matter what, I did, yes.

ERICKSEN: Did you know...did you know that you were good in language?

BARR: No, no. I didn’t know that.

ERICKSEN: Did you kn...?

BARR: I went with sort of free and trembling because it’s really not easy at Wycliffe, you know, and I didn’t think I was...I’m not the most brilliant, you know. I didn’t feel I was, and I did alright but I.....

ERICKSEN: Did someone encourage...did someone encourage you to go there that you recall?

BARR: I think I just knew about it and just felt led to do it, you know. I felt...felt the Lord wanted me to do it. And it was wonderful for me, really. I loved the phonetics, you see. I was.... I did well in phonetics. They even...I got an offer even, before I went to the...when I was just about ready to go to go to California and teach phonetics. And they had recommended me, so I did alright in phonetics. I was.... And that was what helped me so much, because I went to a language where several sounds had not been designa...had been recognized in our our orthography, in our language. And they were very important sounds that needed...needed a...a symbol, you know, needed some distinction. And I wouldn’t have had the confidence without having gone to Wycliffe. It really.... But as it was, we, with the help of...of an expert from the University of London, who was an expert on East African languages, we were able put in the necessary designations for the symbo...for the sounds that hadn’t been recognized, that the people didn’t know what they were. The first missionaries didn’t recognize them.

ERICKSEN: Now what was the difference between the first Wycliffe course that you took and then when you came back in ‘44, or ‘43?

BARR: Oh dear. I think I repeated some probably, but I can...I think I saw in the papers just the other day.... [laughs] I can’t remember really whether I...I must have gone on to another something else, I guess. But...but I also.... Then...then I went again after my first year. I went to this...Norman, Oklahoma, after my first term. Not my first year, my first term in Africa. And there, I worked on my...on my Li...Lugbara language under their supervision, sort of. And then....

ERICKSEN: This was during your furlough?

BARR: This was my furlough. And then I went back to the field to do be in on the translation work, you see, under the Bib...the British and Foreign Bible Society. So it worked out very well. An Englishman, Seaton McClure and I , and a committee of about ten or twelve, divided in half. The committee met with us. The committee...half of the committee met...met with us each time, you see, so that they only had to do it every other time, but we were always there. Seaton, Peggy and I. check translations. Of course, by that time, we didn’t...we were doing translations and we had the translations. We checked each other’s translations and the Africans did a few of the smaller books, I think. And we checked the whole Bible between 1951 and ‘60.

ERICKSEN: This was the Lubara Bible?

BARR: Wonderfully...wonderfully timed just came just up to independence and after. And after that, we wouldn’t have been able to cross the border even to each other because we were in two countries, you see. The...the tribes are divided in Uganda and Zaire. And....

ERICKSEN: Now where was Seaton?

BARR: Seaton’s an Englishman. He was across in the Arua.

ERICKSEN: He was in.... Okay. He was in Uganda.

BARR: And, of course, later I went over there...


BARR: see, in ‘ the end of ‘60. But we were only about seventeen miles apart, you see. Because of the terrain and all, we were...those stations were nearer than some.... That would be thirty or forty or fifty in Congo to another station, but because of the just happened that Arua was near the border, and so was our Aru.

ERICKSEN: Do you recall your first impressions of the Congo when you arrived?

BARR: I couldn’t believe I was there. I used to just rejoice in my heart and think, “Here I am in Congo.” And think of the fact that there...there was nothing unusual, especially. If you went out, there...there wasn’t any snakes hanging from the trees or any things like that. Of course, we did have some snake experiences, but they were few and far between, you know. The unusual things that happen make impressions on people, but they don’t happen every day. A lot of...a lot of life in Africa is humdrum really, and that’s when you get your work done really.

ERICKSEN: Now were you...did you go...?

BARR: But we went...we went in the first time to Congo. We went in a wonderful way, because.... From England we came down on a Portugese boat to the mouth of the Congo River, and then old tug came out to meet us. The boat wasn’t going to go in.

ERICKSEN: So you came down the east...the western coast of Africa?

BARR: Yes. The western coast of Arica. It was bound for Lobito Bay, I believe, which is below the Congo River. And then we had to just...just the few of us missionaries...our...just us, I guess it was...had to get off the boat unto this little tug, and they swung our things out, and I thought, “Oh, my. I hope I don’t drop in.” You could see the...the brown water of the Congo there...the difference the water right where we got off. I can remember seeing brown in...instead of the blue-green of the ocean, you know. And so we wen...we went into the mouth of the Congo River, and we spent the night at a place called Banana, which...where there was a big old metal boat. We slept...we...we had rooms in there. It was a very rough old place. And we had a half a bucket a p...water for all of us or something, to each room or something like that. And...and we went out to say goodbye to the ocean in the evening on the beach, you know, as the sun set. And then we went up to Matadi, and they spent several weeks at Matadi in a hotel until we could get on up to where the boat would take us up the Congo River. (Leopoldville, I guess it was. Where was it we got on the boat? I can’t think.) Anyway, we went up the Congo River, and it was a wonderful way to go into Africa because there we...every night.... The...the river was so low that they had to stop at night. They couldn’t travel at night. And...and all the white...all the missionaries would...from each place when...whenever the boat stopped for the night, people that lived around would come and to see, you know, the visit and see the boat and everything. So we got a real glimpse of Africa that way, stopping each night and meeting people. And I remember thinking, “Oh, do we have to get looking as yellow as this?” They were taking atabrin [anti-malarial drug], I think at that time, and some of the missionaries looked, that we saw, you know, looked yellow.

ERICKSEN: What was that for?

BARR: Of course, we were coming into malaria country.


BARR: That was a great thought, to be coming into malaria country. Of course, I lived with it for all the thirty-seven years, and we took prophylactic medicine the whole time and managed pretty well. But if you can get on top of malaria in Africa, you can live pretty well. So we went on up to Stanleyville. We were met there by one of our missionaries who was actually working in the army at that time. Fred Lasse. And he took us around, and then.... And then we went by bus through the Ituri Forest. I remember seeing whole families of baboons or...(I guess they were baboons)...grandparents and parents and children of the baboons, all troops of them, you know, running in the forest. And it was quite a...quite an experience to go into Africa that way. Then Evelyn Camp’s father came out to meet his daughter. He was a missionary in Africa. He came out to meet us, and I got on the truck with...with Evelyn and him and went the rest of the way to the nearest mission...mission station, where we were spending the night, the Brethren Mission station, I think it was. And then we came into our own area. It was quite a way to go into Africa [pauses] to see it.

ERICKSEN: long did that trip from the Atlantic Coast...?

BARR: While, we were three...three weeks at least, I think, in Matadi...four. I can’t think how long the boat trip was. It must have been six weeks or seven weeks. I shouldn’t....

ERICKSEN: And were you initially stationed in Aru?

BARR: I was stationed in Aru.


BARR: We stopped at...the first place we stopped in our mission was Blukwa and then we went to Rethy. And I was with Margaret Clapper. She’s the first person that enter...that entertained me there. I was there for the weekend. I was upset, physically, and...and it was good to stop for the weekend and have some medicine and everything, you know. I was afraid I had dysentery, but I...I didn’t, I guess. And so then...then we went on. Mr. Camp drove us on up to Aru. That was my.... I arrived on July 4th, ‘44. And I’s easy to remember because I left Ameri...I left my home on Leap Year Day, ‘44, February 29th. The boat didn’t actually pull out of Philadelphia until the next morning, but we had to get on the boat. Nobody could co...we didn’t know when we were going to sail or anything. It was during the war, you see. And we had no sailing at all there, you see, because if we...we just crept out. Nobody could be there or anything. But when we sailed from Lisbon, we had...all the Christians came down to the dock and sang hymns, and we sang with them, and there were serpentines [kind of party novelty used in parades and New Year celebrations that is thrown while holding one end]. And our...our host gave us flowers to hold and everything, and I thought, “Isn’t this funny to be leaving a country you don’t know and don’t belong in and have a sailing like this, have a real sailing” when we had to sneak out of Philadelphia. That was funny.

ERICKSEN: What were your...what did you think of Aru as you pulled in?

BARR: Well, it was just a big clump of eucalyptus trees from a distance and then the sort of level country there, sightly rising country. It’s grass country really at Aru.

ERICKEN: What size town is it?

BARR: Oh, at that time, I’ would only have been...oh, I don’t know, I...I...I don’t think it would be more than fifty or a hundred, you know, something like that altogether in the area. But it was was a border town, you see, and there’s a...that’s where you went over in Uganda. And there’s a no-man’s land in between for several miles between [pauses] the two barriers. And...well, I’d always hear...heard it was a hard place. You know, there weren’t many vegetables or fruits or something, but we got along fine, really. We got along alright. And the Belgians were there with stores. In those days, it was quite easy really. You could get a lot of things. And they...and they imported things.


BARR: Very different afterward when the commercial people weren’t there, you know. And we could go over to Aru...Arua and shop too. There were Indian shops over there, of course. [pauses] It was quite close.

ERICKSEN: How long did you work on learning Lugbara?

BARR: I worked.... Oh, I worked the whole time I was there.


BARR:’ never stop learning it while you’re there.

ERICKSEN: Yeah, well, maybe concentrated as language study as opposed to doing it.

BARR: Well, we didn’t have any concentra.... We had to start...that was difficult. We had no orientation at that time, either here or there. And with a tribe language like that, you just have to drop into the place and start try...trying to talk. And of course, it helped to have been Wycliffe to sort of know how to go about it. At first, I would have girls say it after me. The one...the people that are with you learn to understand you quicker than village people. If I went into the villages, then I’d have them help. But it took years, really, to feel at home, and to feel you really could express yourself. Many years, really. But you had to start right away, and it’s no easy thing. Teaching the Bible, and we didn’t have a Bible, you know. And I...I just saw the importance of having the whole Bible that first term.

ERICKSEN: Now what did you...what did you do during your first term? What was your...?

BARR: I was in girls work, I had, oh, a hundred girls, a hundred-fifty girls. They came in from them...from their villages. In those days we had girls work on each station. It was a very fruitful work really. They came in, and some of them had to run away from home, some of them came with their parents’ permission. But they came in for three ter...for a term at a time and then a time back in the village and then back again, and while they were in the Mission Station, of course, they went to church and Sunday school, and they heard...they were taught Bible in the school too. And...and many of them were saved. Many were saved before they came. Some were saved through the ministry of the teachers in the district, you know. And that was a very interesting work really. And they were...they were just dressed in leaves, you know, when I first went, all the women and girls.


BARR: And they had a certain way, a very particular way, of fixing their leaves. They were really very modest in their way, more so than other tribes, and better covered in a way. Front and back, you know. And they had a very definite way of making...of making their bustle or their leaves, or whatever it was. And I enjoyed that work there.

ERICKSEN: Now what was the age...age range of the girls?

BARR: Oh, they’d started about seven or eight...eight...eight or nine to sixteen, seventeen, something like that. And we only had about three years, you know, we had to teach them to read that time. And this work went on until independence. But...but after independence the girls work had to drop off really. It just didn’t work after that at all.

ERICKSEN: Because?

BARR: They...they made co-ed schools and...and.... Well, they wanted to get...they our area.... See, when things began to get difficult in Congo, the...the political youth...the Jeunesse [rebel group, mainly from Congo’s Bapende tribe, active in several border provinces in 1964; members of the youth group of the ruling party that served as auxiliary police]...they wanted to get those girls away from the mission and away from the control of the church. That’s what they wanted. And of don’t know, I guess, that they brought charges against me at that time, and that was one reason I had to...the field council moved me over to Arua.

ERICKSEN: What were the charges?

BARR: I’ve got them...I’ve got them listed, but I...I can’t remember them too well. I know...I remember one.... You’’d be surprised how politics turns in Africa. It just turns to life and death. I had greeted somebody of the other party and that was wrong. And I knew they wanted to get the...they didn’t want the rules of and regulations of the...of the girls home. They wanted the girls to be freer. And, oh, there were several things that...they brought false charges. Two of the men, Yokes Ketaneson [?] and David Richardson sat with me through several hours while these young fellows were bringing these charges against me. I’ve got a paper with them listed, actually, but I don’t....

ERICKSEN: Now did you actually have a...was there a trial?

BARR: And thing was wrong too. One thing was this: that I had made a...I made a...I cut a...a slit in a chalk box for the women. I was having the women’s meetings, and I thought if there was any questions, they...the ones that could write, if they wanted to write a question or something and slip it in that box, we’d try to answer it. And they charged me with going into politicky [?] by having a vote box. That was a vote box, you see. It’s so ridiculous that...that it seems almost unbelievable, you know. But that was...that was one charge. chalk box with a slit in it [laughs] was a vote box, and I was...I was dabbling in politics. And politics in Africa just turns into life and death, you know. It’ don’ just...just doesn’t work, honestly. And we...we were kind the time of independence I was perfectly alright. I was going back and forth across the border when the Belgians were pouring out, you know, in great lines. It was so sad to see them. They just had to leave their homes and go. And...but I was able to go out and come in on my committee work. We were still working in committee. But a few months after that, there was a half-caste girl by the name of Catherine Popalascarce [?], and she’s still out there. She told me, “Laura Belle, be careful what you say. I’ve heard things against you.” And be know, she warned me. And that was the first time I realized that, you know, I must be more careful. I must be careful. And, well, that was somewhere in the fall of that year, I think, a few months after independence. But at the time of independence, we were perfectly alright. And I didn’t want to go, but I had to...the field council moved me over and moved Joyce Richardson over. And I had to just put my th...everything I could get in the car and just go and leave everything else, and just broke my heart, you know. I was only going that short distance, and I was...


BARR: ...going to live over there. And Joyce and I set up housekeeping over there. And then...and then there was a great exodus from Congo, and three more...everybody came out practically, and three more...that was in 1960 or ‘61, February...January or February 1961. And then three more girls came to live with us, and for one year we lived together there at Arua, sort of...three of them were in school schedules there. And I was supposed to go out on with my work, but I didn’t have much chance to go on really. We had to run the house and everything, and then we lived as a family. We had a very good time that year.

ERICKSEN: Now when you were living in Arua, did you ever go back into Zaire?

BARR: Oh yeah, I went back...I went back again and again, and I never knew how it’d turn out. But I...I took literature over and sold it in the market and...and went again and again, yeah.

ERICKSEN: Did you ever have any trouble at the border or...?

BARR: Yeah.

ERICKSEN: You did?

BARR: Yeah, one night, the Jeunesse were there waiting for me. It was getting pretty close to dark, and...and they stopped the car and searched all through the glove compartment and everything. And they were very...they had the black eye, you know, the black look. And they told me to write to Mr. Paul, Austin Paul, and said, “If he comes back, we’ll do that to him.” So I told them I’d write and tell him. And their....

ERICKSEN: What was their complaint with him?

BARR: Well, it was just all against the mission. was that terrible time was really a...a terrible time.

ERICKSEN: Did they see...?

BARR: Everybody....

ERICKSEN: Sorry, go ahead.

BARR: It was...all over the field, it was like that. They were bringing charges against people on other stations, too, you know. I mean, it was....

ERICKSEN: Did they see the mission...?

BARR: I don’t...I can’t think what just...they just were against him. And that was it. But I wanted to tell you how this ended. So, the...the of the fellows who could talk English told me, “Get in the car and go fast.” And I got in and went. He didn’t let it go on. Whatever they were going to do to me, I don’t know.

ERICKSEN: Did they see the mission as a threat in the...the...I guess the politics of the area?

BARR: No, they were all just against the white people. It was just working up to the Simba Rebellion [Congolese rebellion spanning most of 1964], that terrible time. And even some of our elders’ sons were in this. See, one of the elders’ elders’ sons was one of the men that brought the charges against me. It’s sort of hard to describe the whole thing. The whole thing was working up to that Simba Rebellion, you see, that came in ‘64. And there were how many exoduses. A lot of missionaries went out, so...again and again, you know. And some didn’t. But the whole atmosphere was...they were going to win, you see. They were going to take over the country. And they died for it. This boy, this elder’s son died, stealing cattle from a Jeunesse or something, and....

ERICKSEN: Now your...I want to get the times right on your terms. Your first term went from ‘44 until...?

BARR: ‘Til ‘49.

ERICKSEN: Okay, and then you were home for a year?

BARR: For a year, and I went back in ‘51, early. I think...I think it was a little over a year, you know, so it sort of went to the next year.

ERICKSEN: So ‘51...?

BARR: ‘52 to about ‘56...‘51 to ‘55 or ‘56...‘56, and then ‘58 to ‘64. And ‘64 was just when the Simba Rebellion was all came up to the border, you see. And in 1964, I waited in Wheaton for...I waited a month or so longer than...than I would have, because my niece, sister’s first daughter was getting married in Wheaton. And if I hadn’t waited for that, I would have gotten back there...I was all ready to go back...all packed to go back into Congo from Uganda. I left my things that way, so that I could just come and go, you see. If I had...if I hadn’t waited for that wedding, the way it worked out, I would have gone in with everything and come out in a few weeks with nothing, so the Lord was very good to me at that time. Because it made me arrive...I drove up with Jane Amstutz from Kampala. I bought a ca...a Peugot in Kampala and drove up to Arua with Jane Amstutz, and she stopped every morning to listen to the Mission Net. And I can remember her hanging them with a wire over a tree branch somewhere on the way. And we...we listened to Dr. [Carl K.] Becker saying, “Everybody, go, if you can.” They’d had a message from...from the UFM [Unevangelized Fields Mission] from Al[fred] Larson of the UFM saying, “This is different. Get out, while you can.” And they were being killed down there, the UFM, you see, down in Stanleyville.

ERICKSEN: Now, is Mr. Larson the one who was then shot?

BARR: No, Larson is still living, I think.


BARR: He’s the mission leader. It was [Paul] Carlson that was shot.


BARR: Carlson was with one of our [AIM] missionaries, Chuck, is that his name? Davis?

ERICKSEN: I think so.

BARR: The...the college...the...the fellow that goes around to the schools and colleges. Davis is it?

ERICKSEN: Yeah, it...I think it is.

BARR: Chuck and Muriel...yes, I think it is Davis. He was right with him, and he...he...they were going to jump up on a wall, and he jumped up, trying to run from the guns or something, and then he turned back to help Carlson up, and he was...and he was down, shot. That was how close he was. Yeah.

ERICKSEN: Now, when were working in girls work your first term, did you continue your girls work?

BARR: Yeah, up until the time I left.

ERICKSEN: Okay. So you were doing girls work and translation work?

BARR: Yes.

ERICKSEN: When did your translation work begin?

BARR: It started before I left the last year or so, thereabout of ‘48. I s...I started to retranslate Romans [New Testament book] to see if I could make it more understandable. When I first went, I thought it’s just that I don’t know the language that makes it hard for these people to understand the Bible [Ericksen laughs], the...the...the New Testament that we had, you see. And then I realized that it wasn’t just that. You know, I began to get to the place, and I wondered whether I could make it more understandable. And that was the first thing I did. I started on Romans [laughs] for some reason, trying make it more easily understood. And when I came home.... I think I’ll tell you this frankly, because this is...has to do with the whole thing. I was told by my co-workers they would support me completely to do Bible translation, and it was arranged with the British and Foreign [Bible Society] that I would work under them to head this work. If you understand the British, you know that there is [pauses] a little...they’re a little bit slow sometime to recognize something new, and there was a little feeling against Wycliffe. At that time, they weren’t into...into England yet. Now they’re in full force, but it took a while with England, you know, with the British. And an old...a dear old British missionary came back to Arua, and he didn’t want a young missionary fr...that had been to Wycliffe managing this translation, see. So I went out unde...with the feeling that I was to do it, and then Mr. Bedford, the representative of the Bible Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, met me in Nairobi and told me that it was off, that the...that the work would be done but...but my place, you know, that I was not to lead it.


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Last Revised: 6/4/07
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© 2016 Wheaton College. All rights reserved. This transcript may be reused with the following publication credit: Used by permission of the Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.2007