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Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Suva, Fiji Islands, 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 104
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Pages 96-97

Note 4. (Letter No. 2)

Effie Baker became disenchanted with the Church and, having an open and enquiring attitude, was one of a committee formed in Melbourne responsible for arranging speakers to address the “New Thought” organisation. This led her to attend a public meeting at which Hyde Dunn spoke on the Bahá’í Faith and, recognising the truth of the Message, Effie Baker accepted the Faith the same evening and so became the first woman believer in Australia. She accompanied Martha Root on the latter’s lecture tour of New Zealand and, learning of the New Zealand Bahá’ís projected journey to the Holy Land in 1925, Effie sold her home and joined the pilgrims.
After the bounty of visiting the Shrines and meeting with the Guardian and the Greatest Holy Leaf, Effie acceded to Shoghi Effendi’s request and accompanied the New Zealand friends to London so as to contact the British Bahá’í community. She planned to return to Australia and assist the Dunns, and had accepted an invitation from the Ladies of the Holy Family to stop over in Haifa on her homeward journey, but on arriving there in June, she found Shoghi Effendi was away from the Holy Land and so decided to wait until he returned. Her offer to serve was accepted and she remained at the World Centre of the Bahá’í Faith in Israel for the next eleven years where she assumed the duties of hostess, welcoming the friends to the Pilgrim House, using her artistry and talent to photograph events in Haifa for the Guardian. In 1930, when the need arose to secure 97 photographs of places in Persia associated with the early history of the Bahá’í Faith, Effie undertook arduous journeys by road through Syria and Iraq, undeterred by danger from hostile bandits. This intrepid worker now embarked on an exacting and fruitful period of direct service to the Guardian, often using cars supplied by the Persian believers, at times travelling on horseback, mule or donkey to all but a few sites where it was too dangerous for a westerner to venture. The unique photographic record she obtained was immortalised by being selected by the Guardian for inclusion in Nabil’s “The Dawnbreakers”.
In 1936, Effie returned to her homeland, Australia, where she looked after the National Archives over a long period. Her last years were spent in a small flat in the Hazíratu’l-Quds in Sydney at the invitation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand who had been requested by the Guardian to take care of her until her passing on January 2nd, 1968.