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In December 1952 [sic: 1953? see Memoirs] it was my privilege to make a pilgrimage to Haifa, visiting our Beloved Guardian. It was an opportunity for getting “a point to set my compass by” for the coming Ten Year Crusade. The first two Seven Year Plans were behind us and I had served on the Home Front in both of them. During my pilgrimage it was more and more obvious that Shoghi Effendi was mustering his army for the ensuing crusade from those who were privileged to make this sacred visit.
Soon after my return to the States, the Guardian put a verbal addition to the Crusade. It was a wish of his to have someone from the City of the Covenant (New York) settle in the City of the Arch Covenant Breaker (Famagusta, Cyprus). Having become a Bahá’í in the City of the Covenant in 1938, from whence my first efforts in the previous seven year plans had stemmed, and since returning from Haifa I had taken residence there again temporarily, I offered to go to Famagusta.
In October 1954, with another fellow Bahá’í as a companion, set out for Cyprus, and finally settled in the City of the Arch Covenant Breaker, Mirza Yah Yah, on November 26th, the day of the Covenant, cabling Shoghi Effendi our arrival and using the cable code “Covenant”. There, in enemy territory, for members of Mirza Yah Yah’s family still live there, I taught the Faith for a year and a half. That part of the world is a man’s world and a lone woman is looked upon with suspicion, her morals questionable. However, I made friends even among those who spoke no English. There was always a partial barrier as many who spoke English, their knowledge of it was limited and we were ignorant of the British English, but it was easier to learn that than the Greek Dialect. Thus a year and a half later I had become as British in my English as the veritable Britisher himself (I am sorry to say I lost most of it).
One interesting incident took place in the summer of 1955 when the pol ice from Government House Department where our living permits were issued, decided to investigate us. Their eye caught sight of the huge World Volume as they entered our living room and we urged them to peruse it. By some mysterious good fortune the book fell open to the section of APPRECIATIONS, and as he thumbed a few pages he came upon a letter written by Sir Ronald Storrs, one time Governor of Cyprus. In the letter Sir Ronald mentioned having lost a gift from Sir Abbas Effendi which he valued highly, in the fire at Government House during the time of his being Governor. Thus the investigation ended.
During the eighteen months of residence among those island people, l learned to live as they live, cook as they cook and eat their kind of food. They are a people whose characters are untrustworthy, whose promises mean nothing and whose moral integrity leaves much to be’ desired. Our Guardian sent us strong admonitions concerning this, but we finally found a few honorable ones whom we cultivated and made our friends. Also many of the key people of Famagusta were met and the Faith presented to them, such as the Librarian of the Municipal Library, the Turkish District Judge (a Sunni Moslem), the official translator for the Island educational system. This gentleman, a Greek Cypriot, did a bit of translating for me and became very interested in the Faith, unfortunately, he was shot by EOKA, the underground movement. The District Treasurer, an Armenian, became a very good friend of the Faith, the Head Master of the largest Secondary School in Famagusta asked to read the “Iqan” and finally the talented, popular and famous potter of the Middle East, Valentinos Charalambous was one of our best and close friends. Mr. Nicos Charalambous, who organized the first shipping clerks union on the Island and is now chief in charge of Mantovani Shipping Agents became a declared believer, just before I left.
Although I was not able to work, that is I was not legally permitted to work, I was taken into the family, so to speak, by Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Panagidi, an exporter of Cyprus fruits and vegetables and to whom I was part time secretary. This, of course, did not cover my expenses but it helped and Mr. A. Kalantar of Dumont N. J. also assisted me for some months.
Finally in 1956 the uprising which started in 1955, became much worse, Mr. Panagidi’s life was threatened and he fled to London. Then the Kalantar’s went pioneering and I returned to the States to try to climb back financially as best I could. I was able to reimburse the Kalantar’s. The Panagidi’s I have since visited in London, we keep in touch by correspondence. They were my guests at the public meeting in Albert Hall during the 1963 Jubilee.
Our sustenance came from within. The Teaching Prayers of Abdu’l Baha and the one by Bahá’u’lláh which says “Do Thou destine for me, O my God, what becometh the greatness of Thy majesty, and assist me by Thy strengthening grace, so to teach Thy Cause, that the dead may speed ·out of their sepulcher, and rush forth toward Thee, trusting wholly in Thee, and fixing their gaze upon the orient of Thy Cause and the dawning-place of Thy Revelation”.
Upon my return to the States in 1956 I received a letter from our Beloved Guardian in reply to a report I had sent to him concerning my activities in Famagusta, a copy of which I am attaching as it means very little apart from this report.
During the last three years of the crusade 1 spent in Europe, most of it in Switzerland where in 1961 I helped from the first Spiritual Assembly of Luzern, one of the twelve needed for Switzerland to have its own N.S.A. in 1962. It was my privilege and a tiny victory to bring into the Faith a native Swiss, a Luzerner, in November 1962, a bit of a victory as Switzerland like the rest of Europe, is difficult to resurrect spiritually.
- Frances B. Jones