You're invited to a story more
fantastic than one can ever imagine!
The COMPLETE film is now added with English subtitles.
When my colleague, teacher Torben Uhrenholt, from Aalborg, Denmark, in November 2006 travelled to Nigeria in Africa for the first time, he did not know what he was to find.
Both Torben and I are teachers at a cultural class, horneXplorer, at the Danish boarding school, Horne Ungdomsskole, which once a year travels to Nigeria to interact and share lives and values with the Nigerian students at a Lutheran boarding school in Yola, Adamawa State.
During a visit to the city Numan, Adamawa State, where the Lutheran Christ Church of Nigeria today has its headquarter, and also the mission's first church still is to be found, he was introduced to the fact, that Torben's own grandfather's cousin, Dr. Mogens Uhrenholt was one of the main constructors of the small, round church, build in 1916,
Later the same day Torben had the almost surreal experience to find a grave at a Nigerian burial site with the inscription: "Eline Uhrenholt 1875-1920".
Here Eline Uhrenholt (born Arildsen sin Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA by Danish parents) rests.
Reconstructing the past
Mogens and Eline Uhrenholt went out as missionairies within the Danish branch of the Sudan Mission in 1916.
More than 90 years later, I am re-constructing their fantastic story. From old, handwritten letters (some even written on the damper from Liverpool to Nigeria), from so far three visits to Nigeria, and from the great help from different archives and private persons, both in the US and in Denmark and Nigeria, I am about to tell their story.
Dr. Mogens Uhrenholt went to the States in 1902 to have a medical exam. He was set on going to the mission field alreay before leaving Denmark. But in the States. He immigrated with his wife, Thellefsine Uhrenholt, born in Skagen, Denmark. They setteled in Racine, WiIsconsin, here she gave birth to two girls in 1903 and 105. However, the latter was stillborn, and she herself died only to days after giving birth. Mogens was devastated.
Saddened he met the young teacher Eline Arildsen, born by Danish parents in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She served as a teacher at Danish/English school in Racine, Wisconsin. They fell in love, and shared beliefs and views of mission. He started studying to become a doctor and she to become a nurse. They both passed their exams in 1915 and wed in Cedar Falls the same year.
The year after they were sent out as missionairies from Denmark within the Danish branch of the United Sudan Mission. They went with the damper "SS Farquah" from Liverpool in August 1916 and reached Numan in Nigeria close to 2 months later. Please bear in mind, that this was during WW1.
After much paper work, they were allowed to set up a new mission station among the Kanakura tribe in the town of Shellem, 40 kms, north of Numan. The station opened June 21st 1918.
In the following 7 months Mogens and Eline struggled and used all their effort in putting up the station. Here they constructed 2 churches, several missionary houses, a school and small dispensory, where they treated more than 550 patients. The ruin of the dispensory is still to be found at the site. It was constructed out of burned clay bricks - a strange sight in Nigeria, where round huts with grass roofs are the most common sight - even today in 2009. See the gallery from the dispensory, March 2008.
Sadly, Dr. Mogens Uhrenholt died from Blackwater Fever in February 1919. He was buried in Shellem.
After her husband's death, Eline travelled back to Iowa, but felt that the mission work had not yet been done. She returned to Nigeria later the same year.
Unfortunately also she died from blackwater fever in November 1920, while visiting Numan. Because of the heat, her body could not be transported to Shellem, and she was buried at the grave yard just at the banks of the Benue River; only 3 kms from where her husband constructed the first church, and where the Lutheran Christ Church of Nigeria today has its headquater.
In March 2008 Torben Uhrenholt and I - together with a new group of students from horneXplorer - once again went to Nigeria. And this time we did go to Shellem in the search for Dr. Mogens Uhrenholt's grave and the remains of the mission station. It was hard to find, but we did find fantastic evidence.
In the 24 min. film "Dr. Mogens Uhrenholt - serving the Sudan Mission" you can follow Mogens' and Eline's lives and also Torben's search for his ancestors. It is partly in Danish, partly in English - all subtitled in English.
So far only two of Mogens and Eline's letters is available in English. The first tells the story of their research trip to Shellem in July 1917.
Read it here. The other is sent by Eline from Blair, Nebraska, after Mogens death. Read it here.
In the book "An African Church is Born", by Margaret Nissen, more letters are translated into English. These will by time also be included in this site. Chapter 14 on Mogens and Eline can be read here.
Full list of English pages:
Niels Marinus Nilsen Rahbeck - Eline´s first husband-not-to-be
Last updated May 12th 2009
Hans Wendelboe Bøcher
Kringelhøjvej 7, Horne
ph. +45 9669 1188