On This Day in UB History: June 9 (Five Missionaries)

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

L-r: Lloyd and Eula Eby, Oneta Sewell, Erma Funk, Bernadine Hoffman.

On April 9, we began following the journey of five missionaries to Sierra Leone in 1944–Lloyd and Eula Eby, Bernadine Hoffman, Oneta Sewell, and Erma Funk. On April 20, we left them in Natale, a city on the eastern tip of Brazil jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. From there, they planned to catch a plane to Africa. But it was war-time, and the missionaries found themselves stuck in Brazil for six weeks.

Planes were constantly making the flight across the Atlantic, but military people had priority. Finally, on June 4, Pan Am had a plane for them. A few seats would be filled by the wives of Firestone workers. All the rest would go to missionaries. On June 5, after a 14-hour flight, they landed in Liberia. (The next day, incidentally, the D-Day invasion occurred in Europe.)

Now the five United Brethren missionaries, along with six missionaries from other organizations, had to figure out how to get to Sierra Leone, along with all their luggage. Early one morning, they boarded a small boat for the 30-mile trip along the coast to Sierra Leone.

The rough seas and high waves left nearly everyone at least a little sick. Then, at the mouth of a river, they hit a sandbar, with high waves all around, and it became quite dangerous. The oarsmen jumped overboard and, one by one, carried the passengers ashore. When the wind subsided, they continued on to Sulimah, the southern-most village in Sierra Leone.

It was June 9, 1944. Exactly two months after leaving Indiana, they had arrived in Sierra Leone.

The next day, a doctor arrived from Pujehun on a lorry he had chartered. The missionaries were able to charter it back to Pujehun. From there, the eleven missionaries took a lorry to Bo, which was as far as the six non-UB missionaries needed to go.

The next day, the five UBs traveled by lorry to Mattru, and then took a boat to Bonthe. They had arrived.

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