Armenia and the Armenians.
Armenia is located in the northeastern corner of Asia Minor towards Caucasia. It is a mountain country with powerful mountain ranges and high mountain peaks, of which the majestic Arrarat rises over 5000 meters above sea level. Armenia is a wonderfully beautiful and fertile country, and you can feel that the garden of paradise was here. Euphrates and Tigris have their source in the mountains of Armenia, and Euphrates with its tributaries flow through the land. Araxe, the river of Armenia, also has its source up there.
Here you will find several large lakes, of which Lake Urmia and Lake Van are the largest. Lake Van is very beautiful with its blue water. Armenia is rich in springs, spreading everywhere in the mountains. Between the mountains there are large, fertile valley areas where grains, tobacco, fruit trees, melons, grapes, etc. are grown.
Armenia was almost as large as Norway before it was divided, but it was divided between Turkey, Russia and Persia, and the Turks occupied the largest and most fertile part of the country. From ancient times, Armenia has been the scene of major historical events, and many peoples from Asia have wandered through the country.
Armenians are among the oldest people on earth. Already around 600 years BC, many believe even long before that time, they inhabited the land around Ararat and founded a great kingdom there.
Their ancestor was Haig, and after him the Armenians call the country Haiastan, but the neighbors called it Armenia after a great Armenian king of Aram. Armenia was previously a kingdom that was the largest under Diagranes the Great. He founded Digranagerd (Diyarbakır) and ruled over 30 million people.
Armenia's central location between the great empires has made it an apple of discord, so it has often been the victim of the ravages of war. There has also been a Lesser Armenia down in Cilicia, and it was the last Armenian owned. It was captured by the Turks in 1375, and their last king Levon VI was captured and deposed. It was this land the Armenians hoped to get back after the world war, but the great powers did not keep their promises.
The Armenians are an intelligent, diligent and frugal people who, with tenacious perseverance, have stayed upraised despite terrible hardships, distress and persecution. 80% of them are farmers, but there are also many educated people. - probably no Armenian people would have existed today if Christianity had not taken root so early.
Thaddaeus and the apostle Bartholomeus have both been to Armenia preaching the gospel, and Christian churches were formed there already then. Supposedly they both died a martyr’s death there.
The real apostle of Armenia is Grigor Lusavorich - the Illuminator - because he brought the light of the gospel to Armenia. By wonderful circumstances, he was called by God to be the Armenian apostle. Together with King Tiridates, who ruled Armenia and had been converted to Christianity through Grikor, he went around the country as Olav the Holy One in Norway. The pagan altars and sacrificial sites were demolished and in their place churches and monasteries were built. Grigor Lusavorich had a wonderful vision: He saw that the Savior descended and showed him how the first church in Armenia was to be built, and on that site the cathedral "Etschmiadsin" - "the only begotten descended" - was built overlooking Ararat. It is from the 3rd century and very old and interesting and is located in the Armenian Republic, where I had the opportunity to visit it. A monastery for men is included. As early as in 301 Christianity became a state religion in Armenia, and it is thus the world's oldest Christian state. The Armenian Mesrop gave them their alphabets, and part of the Bible was translated into Old Armenian in 406 and the whole Bible in 433.
Their highest clerical head is called Katolikus. He has his seat in Etschmiadsin. Beneath him stand patriarchs, archbishops and bishops. These are not allowed to marry, only the priests who do not receive a high education are allowed to marry once.
After Grikor, the Armenian Church is called the Gregorian. It is very similar to the Greek Catholic, but they have kept their Bible. Gregoria is supposedly christened by the Armenians.
From 500 - 700, the Armenian church had its heyday, but circa. 700 they came under the Arabs, so they were excluded from spiritual fellowship with other Christian churches. Every time the Armenians had a little respite in their long history of suffering, there were brighter times for Christianity. From 850 - 1070 there was an independent kingdom in Greater Armenia and in the 12th and 13th centuries an independent kingdom in Little Armenia - Cilicia. - But since they came under the yoke of the Turks in the thirteenth century, there has been spiritual darkness. In the 16th century, however, it became better when they came in connection with the Christian lands again. Yet, despite all the darkness, all the ignorance and all the sufferings and oppressions, Christianity has persisted to this day, and they have endured with the utmost heroism the most terrible persecutions.
The Americans were the first to begin to proselytize among the Armenians. Already in 1820, they came to Constantinople and later to Asia Minor. It was the Turks, in particular, who they were to proselytize among, but because of their great fanaticism they did not succeed, and they then turned to the Armenians and hoped through this people later to later win the Turks for Christianity. They worked especially at schools, colleges and priest schools and were a great blessing.
After the murders in 1894 - 96, both Americans and Germans set up orphanages out there for the many homeless children whose parents had been murdered by the Turks. Especially Abdul Hamid, called the Red Sultan, because he let thousands of Christian Armenians be murdererd. It especially effected Sassun, a mountain range in the mountains near Musch where the wild hordes attacked the peaceful population.
All these atrocities against the Christians and also the children's distress called on warm-hearted women here at home in Norway. Chamberlain Anker made an appeal for the homeless children, and K.M.A. began work for the Armenians as early as 1902. Armenian children were supported both in the Danish orphanage "Emaus" in Mesereh and also elsewhere, and a few in Musch. And what deed could be better than helping all these homeless little ones. The orphanages became like bright stars out there in the dark. No Christian people have suffered like the Armenian nationally, culturally, spiritually and physically. We can say that they lost everything, but the faith held for most.
I myself got the call from God at a K.M.A meeting, where there was talk of the plight of the Armenian children. I reported to Mrs. chamb. Ankerr, and she was happy to have a Norwegian sister out there, but they didn't have enough funds to send me. Therefore, for the first years I was accepted by the German "Hülfsbund". Only later could K.M.A. taken over send me out to begin my work.
What a grace that God both wanted and could use me to help this haunted people. From 1905 - 1934 I worked out there in different places. The Lord has wonderfully helped me and sustained me during the difficult years in ancient Armenia. The honor is His.
It was a good thing that I had received good education in nursing and worked as a nurse at home and abroad for 8 years before I left. After a 1-year stay at K.M.A.'s mission school in Copenhagen, I boldly left after God had paved the way. It was after the glorious revival years in 1904 - 05, and I was filled with joy and thanks for going out in God's great deed. The journey went to Constantinople and from there on to the coast of Asia Minor to Alexandrette and then by car and horse to Marasch where I was to work in the great mission hospital. But this was not the place God had determined. After a short period of time, the journey continued by horse ride over high mountains to Mesereh where I met the dear Danish and German missionaries. After a year of language study, where at the same time I also provided help to the many sick people in the orphanage, I got my own little home where the sick children were admitted and cared for. I had two Armenian women to help me. It was a good time with the dear children. Otherwise I worked out in the poor quarters among the sick, held meetings with the women and sometimes helped the American doctor in Charput as there was no nurse there before the Danish Maria Jacobsen came.
Dr. Mikael, a faithful Armenian physician, who also worked extensively among the Turks, helped me more often and looked after my sick, as did another Armenian physician, whom I in return assisted in his operations. One day I was called to a young man who had a nasty wound in the back, and I got the Armenian doctor to open the wound. The doctor was very anxious and would not at first, as the sick was very weak, but I persuaded him to do so. The operation was successful, and the patient recovered completely after two months of treatment. The young man, Toros, had an open heart for the Word of God, and when I gave him a Bible, he became a diligent Bible reader and later brought his mother to the congregation of believers. He was converted during the period of illness. Later he came all the way down to Adana in Cilicia and was murdered there by the Turks during the massacre. So great then that his soul was saved. I met his mother and sister again in Aleppo.
While in Mesereh, I heard about the many sick and poor in Musch who were without help, and I then began to pray that the Lord would send me there if it was according to His will. In the fall of 1907, I was ordered to Musch. The American doctor wondered why I so gladly went to this lonely place, but it became clear to me that God wanted me there. Then it was off again through wild Kurdish tracts and mountains by horse for 8 days to Musch. One of the missionaries followed me all the way. It was a difficult and dangerous journey, but when the Lord Himself is our guardian, we do not need to fear, but can travel safely, and we got to experience that.
In Musch from 1907 - 1916.
I have spent my longest and most strenuous time in Musch. Musch is a c. 3000-year-old city and is located in ancient Armenia on a high plain c. 1500 m a.s.l. with winter and snow for 4-5 months. It was known to be a troubled corner.
There were c. 25,000 residents, half Christians and half Muhammadans, and c. 300 villages belonged to the district, mostly Armenian. Up in the Sassu mountain ranges there were 40 Armenian villages and several Kurdish villages. Musch is surrounded by high mountains and has an extinct volcano Nimrod in its vicinity. We have had several earthquakes in Amrenia. The valley area was fruitful. Murad, the tributary of the Euphrates, flowed through the land.
In Musch I had a wonderful time among the many children and the many sick and poor whom I got to help. There was pioneering work I did with my dear colleagues Mr. and Mrs. von Dobbeler.
The first few years I worked mostly among the sick and poor and I had never before seen so many poor people as in Musch and in the surrounding villages. I opened an outpatient clinic 3 times a week where about 4,000 people were treated annually, and I also visited about 300 people in the city and about 200 in the villages.
When the outpatient clinic was opened, there came a number of sick people, both Armenians, Turks and Kurds; because they had heard that this "doctor" could cure any kind of illness. I must say that I have never felt so small as among all these sick people; but I became so completely dependent on the Lord, and he let the medicine help so wonderfully. I had been given very good medicines by the American missionaries and had the supplies from America renewed through them. In particular, there were many eye diseases (trachoma) and malaria with their after-illnesses including lung disease, gout and rheumatism, wounded patients, etc. There were only military doctors and 1 district doctor in Musch – a Turk -. Only for half a year we had the help of an Armenian doctor from Russia, but in a very difficult time. I trained a young Armenian boy, Rupen, who later received education at a mission hospital and was a great help to me. I also had the help of a couple of Armenian girls and for the last year of our evangelist's wife Satenig. It was important to make the right diagnosis. Often, I was completely puzzled and sadly have made many mistakes, but on the other hand have so marvelously felt the Lord's leadership and help. The many children we raised in our homes, miserable and lost, suffered from various diseases, especially trachoma. In addition, both Mr. and Mrs. von Dobbeler several times were very ill, even near death, as they did not tolerate the climate. I got to be healthy so I could tend the many sick in Musch and in the villages and also evangelize.
In 1908 I started a day school since so many young girls and married women could not read and write. First there were 12 students and 1 Armenian teacher; the number was less a while, but I continued to trust in the Lord and gradually the flock grew to 80. I then got 2 good Armenian teachers from the seminary in Mesereh. Maritza and Margarit, so it became an entire school with 4 classes where they learned Bible knowledge, reading, writing, calculating and sewing. We had 120 students and several of them were won for the Lord. Unfortunately, most people were murdered during the massacre. Later we got better rooms for the school and the outpatient clinic.
In the outpatient clinic, I began with devotions in Armenian, and Christian scriptures in Armenian and Turkish were distributed. Later, a Bible woman who was an avid soul-winner came to my aid. As she was also Turkish, I could send her to the Turkish women I treated. My first vacation I used to take the midwife exam, since so many poor women died of lack of help. What a joy it was to be able to help these patient women, both Armenian and Turkish. It was difficult as there were often difficult births, but they eventually learned to send for help in the right time. It is a great responsibility to stand there alone, and it often felt heavy.
When the war broke out in Turkey, the Armenians were sent as carriers to the front and suffered indescribably. They brought home typhus, and since they were not admitted to any hospital, Musch and the villages were devastated by typhus. For over 1 year I walked among these sick. Many died, but many were also rescued, most of whom were later murdered.
Sister Alma Johansson came to Musch in the summer of 1910 to help me while I was home on vacation, and when I returned in 1911, von Dobbler's traveled home and later went to another station. Thus, Sister Alma and I were all alone in Musch during the horrific massacre and had a very difficult time. In 2 rooms we also took in 10 sick soldiers, Christians and Muhammadans, as they otherwise received such poor care.
But then the massacres broke out in Musch in July 1915. It was a terrible time. Almost the entire Christian population was murdered, often in a gruesome way. Thus, 40 wagons with women and children were burnt. 11 cannons were set up on the mounds and fired on the Armenian part of the city. Some fled into the mountains, some escaped across Persia to the Armenian Republic, some were deported, but most were killed. The Armenian part of the city and all the Armenian villages were destroyed. I myself was very sick with typhus. A fanatical Albanian doctor tried to shoot Sister Alma but hit 2 elderly women who both died. Our children were taken from us, and this doctor entered my home with 20 Turkish soldiers and abducted our staff, but by God's grace we recovered some of them. Our 3 believing Armenian teachers were for 2 days in the violence of the Turks; but God heard our heartfelt prayers for them, and we received them back unscathed. Along with them and 6 of the other rescued Armenians, including 3 of our big girls and 1 boy, we came with Turkish escort to Mesereh after 10 days of riding through dangerous Kurdish areas. The Lord wonderfully held His hand over us. Es. 43, 2.
I thought things were for me as in Es. 49, 4: In vain have I labored, and to no avail have I consumed my strength. . . .
Our entire field of labor in Musch, to which we had such high hopes, was destroyed. It is a comfort to know that we had received the seed of God's Word and that many, many fell as martyrs for their faith in Jesus Christ.
In mesereh I only stayed for 2 ½ months and then returned to Musch on my own responsibility with my kind maid Zerpuhi who absolutely wanted to come along. We set off on horseback with an older Turkish major that I knew and arrived in Musch at the great grace of God despite the long and dangerous road. But how did it not look bad in Musch! Destruction everywhere and my home in poor condition. But Zerpuhi got to work immediately, and we got it in order again
I got grain and other food from a Turk I knew, and so we got to help the many Armenians who had hidden themselves in the basements of a merciful Turk. Many also came down from the mountains where they had been hiding for months. Oh, how they looked miserable! What a joy it was to be in Musch for the 3 ½ months before the Russians took the city and help all these wretched, poor people. We were all often in danger but felt so completely enveloped by God's strong hand. Almost daily, someone was sent off to be killed. It was a difficult time, and yet I would not do without it, being able to help and comfort those unhappy people. Some of our boys from the orphanage came running down to me. The evil governor was dead, and the next one was better, so I could stay in the city with great care and secretly help some of the distressed. On Sundays, I held church service with them in the basements. We closed the doors so that the Turks did not inadvertently enter. It reminded me a lot of the persecutions of the early Christian era.
In mid-February 1916 we had to leave Musch as the Russians approached. We rode for 2 days in deep snow to Bitlis where my last Armenian friends and the children who were rescued were taken from me. I was near despair then, but God kept me up, and I came alone to Diyarbakır with a Turkish gendarme. There I stayed for 3 weeks trying to get my people back, but everything was in vain. From there I came to Aleppo and was there with the Swiss sister Beatrice Rohner who had gathered 400 orphaned Armenian children.
Later I got to my friends Mr. and Mrs. von Dobbeler in Harunje, Cilicia. They had asked to get me there. They managed a large orphanage, and for a year I stayed there, looked after many sick children and had oversight of the sewing room. I could have 50 sick.
There was revival in that time. Many of the children came and confessed their sins and surrendered to the Lord. I got to hold Bible lessons with the older children and the teachers. It was a blessed time, though full of dangers. However, I was so down after everything I had gone through, so I asked to get to come home.
In May 1917 I went home with my little foster son of 1½ years. It was a very difficult journey in wartime through the warring countries, but God guided me in his great grace with a safe hand through everything and home to old Norway and dear friends.
Until 1921 I was home and traveled a lot around for our work, and many new ones were won for the cause.
Then God called me out again. In 1921, I traveled down to Constantinople to help the many thousands of Armenians, most women and children, who had fled their homeland. There I met acquaintances from before, including Garabed who was rescued with us from Musch and who had been through so much.
While working for a few months in Constantinople, I met many women and men who was the only one left of families of 20-30 members. Yes, from a family of 70 people often just a single person was rescued. These refugees lived in small colonies in different parts of the city, and it was heartbreaking to hear their sad life stories. In large rooms, 70 people were crammed together, and in long barracks a multitude of families lived close together, separated only by some sacks. Great hopelessness ruled many of them. Can you imagine?
There, among others, I met a young girl whose one arm had been cut off by the Turks. But in the midst of all this misery, I was sometimes strengthened and full of thanks to God when I heard how wonderful some of them had been saved and preserved on their long, dangerous journeys.
As I worked among the refugees in Constantinople, I heard about the boundless distress in the small Armenian Republic, especially among the thousand orphans who roamed the streets hungry and lost, and yes, many of them died of hunger. And since it is especially the children who have been supported by Norwegian Armenian work, I decided to go there if God opened the way.
In early 1922, I left with some Americans who worked in “Near East Relief”.
Nor did that part of Armenia escape the devastation of the Turks. Twice the Turks invaded it. The first invasion in 1918 and the last in 1921. By then they had destroyed 78 large and prosperous Armenian villages and murdered most of the population. In the Kars district, 12,000 of the Van and Musch refugees had built temporary homes, but because of the Turkish invasion they had to flee from their homes and possessions.
The small Armenian Republic is only 30,000 sq. kilometers with a population of c. 1 million, the majority of Armenians. They control their own country. Erivan is the capital. Together with Gregoria and Azerbaijan, they have formed a federation whose seat is in Tiflis - the capital of Gregory -. These three states are united with Russia, which governs all foreign affairs. The government was trying to get the country back on its feet. Morale was formerly very high among the Armenians but had dropped a lot by the time I arrived. After all, a majority of these persecuted people have lived on the run for years, and the orphaned children roamed around and where begging. Therefore, the godlessness of the youth increased to a disturbing degree.
When I arrived there was famine and misery. A lot of the children came to the cities from the villages to look for bread, because in the villages the harvest was ruined by the Turks, so they only had grass to eat. Many nights I couldn't sleep as I heard the little ones on the street shout for bread. How happy I was when I finally got a good house in Leninagan (Alexandropol) by the government and was able to gather some of these starving and freezing little ones into a good home. Firstly, after all, we had to set up and procure the essentials. It was such a joy when I could admit the first few. They were miserable and lost, and many looked like skeletons, yellow and thin, mostly in rags and full of flees. But our Norwegian home "Luisaghpiur", Lyskilde, soon resounded with happy children's voices. The little ones ran around happily after they had had a bath, got the rags of and instead got clean, nice clothes and fed. Many of them were sick and lost when they were admitted, and 2 of the worst died quite soon after. I got 2 nice, kind women to help me with the little ones. One became our chef, the other looked after the children, and then I got a procurer since we had to buy everything for c. 1 year at a time as the price in winter increased to the double. The first 25 were admitted little by little. Later, 11 more arrived, so we finally had 36 little boys in our home. Only one of the children had heard of God. We had school and a teacher for them at home, and I even taught them Bible history as it was forbidden in school. Each of the older children had their housework. They had to help, and every 14 days the chores were switched around, and the one who had done his best work received a small reward.
They were easy to teach, and it wasn't long before they knew both songs and scriptures, even 3 Norwegian songs they learned. When they got socks and shoes on, it was a big event because they had never seen such a thing. They went barefoot even in the winter in the snow, and it was very cold, for Leninagan was c. 5,000 feet above sea level. I also do not forget the children's joy on Christmas Eve when they saw the glittering Christmas tree and received their small gifts. I have told and written about several of our children from there, but will only tell you here about one that was very lost:
Little Hagop Arskagian was only 3-4 years old when he was admitted to our home. His parents died in a village near Erivan in great poverty. His grandfather's brother brought us the little one in a state of disrepair. He was just skin and bone and so miserable that I didn't think he would survive. But Hagop recovered wonderfully and became a fat and happy little guy. It was such a joy after some time to see this poor child so healthy and satisfied. Surely it is great to take care of such little ones, and Jesus has said, "He who receives such a child for my name's sake receives me." Matt. 18, 5. What a glorious promise.
I also rode out on a longer trip with an Armenian Protestant priest to 13 Armenian villages to see how they were and to evangelize. The distress was indescribably great, famine in several villagers, only grass to eat, but if they had any bread, they would gladly give us some of it, as the Armenians are very hospitable. We had food ourselves and could help some. Later we sent out flour and several boxes of condensed milk to the mothers who had nothing to give their children except a little dry bread in a rag dipped in water. It was terrible to see the emaciated mothers with their little ones, as well as the entire population in such distress. But everywhere, they gladly heard the word of God. In some places we had quite large gatherings. Only 3-4 of these villages were doing somewhat well, among them was Irind where I met many friends from the Musch area. In Leninagan lived 40 families from Musch, so I felt at home there. I very much missed a co-worker. The field of labour was large, but the workers were few.
The last year the house was taken from us, so we had to move over to a small house that the Americans left us. It was very cramped and bad, but they had nothing better to give us, and we were glad to have a home to resort to.
I had Sunday school and gatherings with children. Many had come to know Jesus and had given him his heart and wanted to follow in Jesus' footsteps. That last year I got sick, so I had to go home to great grief for all of us. When I later recovered, there were so many obstacles in the way of my departure that it was not possible to leave. I can't say how much it hurt me not to come back to my dear children. A nice believing Armenian woman continued the work for a time, and some of the children later came to American homes.-
I was home from the summer of 1925-26 and then went out to my last labor field in Syria to help the many Armenian refugees and sick children there.
It was with mixed emotions that I headed for Syria. After all, it was to my dear children in Armenia that I should have traveled, those who were waiting for "mother" to come back to them. But God's way is not ours. He knows where he wants us and where he can best use us.
Syria is a beautiful country, especially Lebanon. Syria used to be under the Turks, but after the last world war the French took over the protectorate all over Syria. There are about 3 million people living in Syria, Christians and Muhammadans. Damascus is the capital and has about ½ million residents. The first half year I was with the Danish sisters in Beirut and worked there among the refugees, helping them and evangelizing. There I met several of my friends from Harunje, and with some of them I had Bible lessons every week. Beirut is located just off the blue Mediterranean, and up in the hills we have Lebanon where we spent our summer holidays in the lovely air. Right down by the Mediterranean were many miserable refugee camps. From the beginning, the refugees lived in tents where it often rained so both bedding and everything got wet. Several had their homes in small wooden boarded roofs. The poor people lived Close-knitted, and there were distress and misery and much illness. What I could provide often seemed to me like a drop in the ocean, but I was glad to be able to bring some help and sunshine into the many poor refugee homes. Especially it was great to be able to bring the happy message of Jesus Christ and His love. There was a time of revival in the great "camp". God used one of the Armenian Protestant priests, and many listened to the word of God and had peace.-
God later led me to Aleppo where I started work in 1927. Aleppo is a city of about 300,000 inhabitants, of which about 200.000 are Muhammadans, Arabs and Turks and about 100,000 Christian Syrians, Armenians and Asians. About 50,000 Armenians live there, of which almost 40,000 were refugees from their old country and from Cilicia. During the World War, about 250,000 refugees passed through Aleppo.
Aleppo is located in Northern Syria about 4 hours’ drive from Antioch. It is very hot in summer, but colder in winter as it lays slightly higher up than Beirut. The surrounding nature is barren. In the vicinity of Aleppo, there are many Muhammadan villages where fellachas, Turkomans and Arabs live. Since the Armenians are largely farmers - 80 percent of them were farmers in their homeland - many of them had to go to the villages. There were also several Armenian villages in and around the sea near Antioch, and several of them I have visited. Many of these were very unhealthy, and many Armenians died of fever.
After I found a fairly suitable house, which was very difficult, bought furniture and got bedding, the first 10 sick children were admitted. It was a great pleasure. Three of them were so bad they couldn't walk.
This was the 5th time I started working among the Armenians. To my help I got our current evangelist who is married to one of my former girls from Musch, Satenig. He then became our procurer and helper. Besides, I got a widow as a chef and a girl to look after the little ones. It has been a great help to me that I have almost always had good, faithful Armenian co-workers.
I do not know how else I would have managed. Then I started to work in the refugee camps among the sick and among the women. There were several smaller camps and a large one of 12-15,000 people. They lived there in small miserable cottages or in large communal barracks. An open sewer ran through the large camp, which was very unhealthy. The Armenians sought to decorate small gardens in front of the houses. Many lacked beddings, food and the essentials. Many were happy if they had dry bread to eat. There was plenty to address, and I was happy that God trusted us with this service among the most miserable. Close to Aleppo was a large Armenian district - Norkiugh - with many small new houses where about 6,000 people lived, and there was also a great need there. One had to pay the base rent, for the doors, windows, etc. Again, we got to help someone with their new home. We also helped several others to self-help.
Spiritually, too, there was great distress. After all, many of these newly arrived refugees had lived among the Kurds for 10 years and worked for them to save their lives. They had completely forgotten their Christianity, not even The Lord's Prayer. It was especially among the Gregorian women - those who belonged to the old Armenian church - I began as they were the most ignorant. Protestants usually have more light. Most of the refugees came from the Charput area, from Musch, Urfa and Zeitun. These all spoke Armenian, while those who came from Cilicia mostly spoke Turkish as the Turks there did not allow the Armenian language. To my aid, I had a Bible woman who spoke both Armenian and Turkish. At first, we started out in a big nice building where a lot of refugees were gathered. We worshipped there once a week with quite a few women. There we also started a Sunday school and also one in the Akkaba-camp where many children came.
In Norkiugh and in 4 different campsites, we held meetings for women once a week, and the Bible woman taught them Bible knowledge, reading and writing. In addition, we had two evening schools for women where 2 believing Armenian teachers taught. For a time, we also had one for the men. It was a pleasure to note the progress of these ignorant women. They came faithfully. Although they had been working all day, they came to the evening school twice a week from 8-10. They learned Bible knowledge, reading, writing, and some calculus. There was a revival among them in 1932, and several came to life in God and surrendered to Him. Praise be to the Lord.
Once a week I had a meeting for the believing women in our home. I first held a devotion and then there was testimony and prayer, and it was heartening to hear many of these poor women's testimonies. May they be preserved by God's grace.
Several widows were supported by Norwegian friends, most of them old and blind. It was great to be able to help these lonely old people with monthly contributions. Each month they also got to hear the gospel in a simple way. Several of them were very ignorant, but some were God's children like old Vartuhi Kujumdjan in whose cabin we held meetings. She was very happy to hear the word of God, and she also testified to the others. For many sick people, we were given help to provide a doctor, medicine, food, etc. In the Akkaba-camp, many old people lived in the creepy, cold basement homes. Among them were several with eye diseases. There I met Mariam Magarian, an old lonely woman who had lost all of her family, and who had come all the way from Charput. She had cataracts. I got a good Armenian ophthalmologist to operate her eye, and she got her eyesight back. As she could read, I gave her a really nice Testament. She faithfully came to our meetings and was converted. She sent a sincere greeting to the Norwegian friends. She said to me: "How grateful I am because you helped me so I could pay rent and buy food, but even more grateful because I got my vision, but most of all because I got to know Jesus Christ and was saved." It was often heavy to walk among all these refugees. In relation to the need, there was so little I could do for all those who lived on the shadow side. But I was glad for every ray of light and sun that found its way.
Many thanksgivings for the help of dear Norwegian friends has risen to the throne of grace. - How many mothers were grateful when we admitted their sick, miserable little ones, and when these in our home became healthy and happy and got to know Jesus.
It was good to come home from the refugee camps to the dear children and hear their welcome greeting: "Pari jegak mairig", - welcome mother - as they ran happily towards me. After all, our home was the bright spot in all the trouble down there. Had I not had the children; it would have been difficult to endure all the distress that surrounded me.
What a difference there was not on the small after they had received good care and nutritious food. I think of little Asaduhi when her mother brought her to us. She was treated by a doctor for a long time and had to stay in bed. Little by little, she recovered and could eat more. She was with us for a long time and was completely healed. She was a sweet girl, was like a little housewife, wanted to help the other children, and learned to love the Savior. She was a wise little one who soon learned to pray, and it was touching to hear her pray for us all in her little bed in the evening. She learned many songs and scriptures by heart. I had Sunday school with the kids and every Saturday we had a little Bible and prayer meeting. When she recovered and came home to her mother in the camp, she was a small witness there. It is my hope that she will follow our Lord Jesus and become a blessing in life. Let's pray for this.
One night when I was down in the Urfa camp, some women asked me to see too a little sick girl in a poor home. In a dark, eerie room, the little sick one was lying on some rags. Her father was dead, and his other wife had left them. There were 2 older girls aged 14 and 12 and an old aunt besides Meleke who was ill. The biggest girl wove carpets, but it did not provide enough to feed so many. Her aunt was old and sick and full of gout so she could not move. I was delighted to be able to help them and to include Meleke (means angel in Norwegian) in our home. She soon joined us and was happy with the other little ones. She was a sweet little girl which we loved. Praise be to the Lord for His great grace toward me. Had he not led, preserved and sustained me during the difficult years of distress, I would have been rooted in my misery.
Many of God's words have shone to me like stars in a dark night, especially this: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Is. 43, 2. His promises do not fail, no, they stand firm forever. Without his grace, I would not have been able to help in the dire distress and the terrible murders. His alone be the credit for what I have accomplished for this haunted people
Oslo, October 1944.