Category: Bahá’í
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Dedicated to the memory of Shoghi Effendi in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand.


Letters to New Zealand

Shoghi Effendi and on his behalf

© Bahá’í International Community

Part I

Letters to Individuals, before April 21st, 1926.

These were written prior to the formation of the first Local Spiritual Assembly in New Zealand.

- 1 -

June 22nd, 1923

To Margaret Stevenson

My dear Bahá’í sister,
Your beautiful letter of April 3rd written to the Beloved Guardian of the Cause of God, our dear Shoghi Effendi, was received. He was much impressed and charmed with the spirit of your letter, which indicated deep devotion to and absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit of the Beloved Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

He instructed me with a heart overflowing with love to answer your letter, conveying to you his high estimation for the beauty of the faith of the New Zealand friends, and deep appreciation towards the splendid services of our dear Mr. and Mrs. Dunn, who are so wonderfully blessed and assisted by the power of the Holy Ghost. He loves you all and prays for your happiness and spiritual growth.

It is true that your group is now still small, but he assures you that your group will before long grow larger and larger day by day. It has been always the case with the growth of every religion. Some pure soul or souls go to some land and sow the seeds of the heavenly teachings in the hearts of few who are most pure and so most receptive. The seeds will germinate and grow in them. The fruits of these seeds appear in the regeneration of the lives of these primary adherents. These primary adherents share the bounties they have received with other souls, who through them obtain new life and light and in turn illumine other people. The primary adherents are the stars of great magnitude in every land in the firmament of the Kingdom of God. They are the chosen people. They are like candles which, through their sacrificial efforts, are weeping their lives away in order to give light to the world and establish the purpose of their Lord and Saviour, which purpose is the salvation of mankind. His Holiness, Jesus Christ! see how small the group of His disciples was! No matter how few the number of the disciples was, yet they through His power illumined the world. Our Era is similar to that, but through the development of humanity it is greater, and through the evils of the material civilization and negligence of mankind our sacrifices must be greater. Divine light must make itself manifest in our daily life deeds. In the early days of the appearance of our Saviour, virtue was to save ourselves. When we are once established in our faith, then virtue is to save others. The three mottoes of education hold true in our case too. First grow, then become and then contribute. We have developed; we have established ourselves, and now it is time to contribute to others. We have inexhaustible capital. The candles of our spiritual lives constantly weep away their lives in shedding light to the world, but they never become exhausted. For there is connection between our lives and that of Bahá’u’lláh and our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It cannot be described how much we long to see our dear New Zealand brethren and sisters. We hope the day will come when they can come to us and we to them. Meanwhile, we are praying at the Holy Threshold of our beloved Master for your success and happiness. We hope you will pray for us too. The effect of the prayers of the pure hearts is tremendously great. Our dear Shoghi Effendi wants you not to look at your own capacity, but at the power of the Holy Ghost of God. He sends you all his loving greeting and tender affection.
With warm wishes and Bahá’í love, I remain,
Your humble brother in His love,
‘Azíz’u’lláh S. Bahadur

- 2 -

May 8th, 1925

To Sarah Blundell

Dear Bahá’í Sister,
Shoghi Effendi was very pleased to receive this morning your letter of 28th April, but we were very sorry to hear you have been ill and hope your health will soon be completely restored.

It was nice that you saw Shoghi’s sister and Soheil’s brother in London.
I forget whether I gave you the address of Mr and Mrs King, c/o Messrs Hayman and King, 202 Old Christchurch Rd. Bournemouth. They are very kind-hearted Bahá’ís and will be delighted to see any of you if you call. Both of them work in the business and you are most likely to see them if you call there. They live above the shop. I gave you Sister Challis’s address at West Moors (Ferndown Lodge). You can get there by ‘bus from Bournemouth Sq. or Lansdowne, which will drop you right at Sister Challis’s door (She keeps a nursing home) or you can go by train from West Bournemouth to West Moors station which is within 5 minutes’ walk of Ferndown Lodge. I hope you will be able to see her. As I write, the Greatest Holy Leaf is on a visit to the Shrine of the Master. It is over a year, I think, since she has been able to visit the shrine and until now she has not seen the new Gardens, in the laying out of which Shoghi Effendi has taken such a deep interest. The Gardens are looking lovely now and it is easy to imagine how delighted she will be. One day during the feast of Riḍván she and the Holy Mother were able to visit Bahjí and the Garden of Riḍván.

I have quite recovered from my pleurisy now and am steadily regaining my strength. Shoghi Effendi is still tired. I hope he will soon be able to take a rest. All the friends here join in loving greetings and best wishes to yourself, your son and daughter, Miss Stevenson and Effie Baker.
With warmest greetings.
Your brother in the service of the Beloved,
J. E. Esslemont

My dear precious sister in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
I was so glad to hear from you directly and learn of your improved health and meeting with the English Bahá’ís. I need not assure you of my ardent prayers for your happiness, good health and continued success in the service of the Cause. I hope and pray you will be enabled by the guiding spirit of the Master not only to stimulate the interest of your friends and relations in this Cause but to make of some of them earnest and whole-hearted believers and supporters of the Faith.

- 3 -

May 9th, 1925

To Margaret Stevenson

Dear Bahá’í Sister,
The Greatest Holy Leaf and Shoghi Effendi have asked me to answer on their behalf your kind letters of Apr. 2nd from Port Sa‘íd and April 14th from London.
We were sorry to hear that Mrs Blundell got a chill on the steamer and was laid up for a few days after her arrival in London. We hope that by this time she is all right again. We had a note from her from Bournemouth.
You will be glad to hear that the Greatest Holy Leaf and the Holy Mother were able to motor to Bahjí and Riḍván one day during the Feast of Riḍván, and that yesterday the Greatest Holy Leaf motored to the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and saw the new Gardens in which Shoghi Effendi has been taking so much interest.
Yesterday a Dutchman arrived here from Port Sa‘íd, the first Dutch Bahá’í, so far as we know. He has been a sincere and earnest truth-seeker for years. About 9 months ago he left his home at the Hague and walked on foot through Belgium, France and Italy. Then he felt some inward urge to go to Egypt, and travelled thither by a Dutch Cargo Steamer.
When the steamer arrived at Port Sa‘íd, Maḥmúd Effendi, one of the Port Sa‘íd Bahá’ís came on board and was introduced to Mesdag (the Dutchman). They struck up a friendship at once and after 2 days Mesdag went to live in Maḥmúd’s house. There he met Martha Root, Mr Schopflocher and various other Bahá’ís, read my book and became thoroughly interested and seems now already a firm believer.
He has already, since his arrival yesterday morning, translated our 8-page folder into Dutch and we hope he will be able to do much to make the Cause known in Holland and win adherents there.

I have quite recovered from my pleurisy now and am feeling almost as vigorous as before the attack. ‘Azíz’u’lláh Bahadur is now in Stuttgart. There is as yet no improvement in his hand, but he is having skilled treatment now and we hope it will be successful. He seems to be having a very happy time with the German friends. Shoghi Effendi is much in need of rest, but fairly well. He and all the members of the Holy Family join in loving greetings and heartfelt prayers for your welfare. We hope you will have a fine time in England and return to New Zealand refreshed and reinvigorated physically and spiritually to take up your work for the Kingdom there with new enthusiasm and devotion. We pray that you may always be guided and strengthened by the Divine Confirmations.
With love also to Effie Baker and all the other friends,
Your brother in the service of the Beloved,
J. E. Esslemont

My precious Bahá’í sister:
I wish to assure you personally of my appreciation of your devotion to the Cause, and your earnest efforts to promote it as well as my fervent prayers for your spiritual advancement, success and happiness. I will always remember you most tenderly in my hours of visit at the three holy Shrines and beseech for you and the New Zealand friends the blessings of our loving and almighty Master.
Your true brother,

- 4 -

May 21st, 1925

To Bertram Dewing

Dear Bahá’í Brother,
Shoghi Effendi has asked me to reply to your kind letter of 11th April. He is delighted to hear that you propose starting a Bahá’í Magazine for Australia and New Zealand and suggests as a suitable title “The Herald of the South”.
Every 19 days a letter will be sent from Haifa to Mr and Mrs Hyde Dunn giving the news of the Cause. Owing to the restricted facilities for multiplying copies which are at present available here, I fear it will not be possible to send another copy to you, but doubtless you can arrange with Mr and Mrs Hyde Dunn to have their copy passed on to you for the magazine.
We are glad to hear that notwithstanding the absence of the Blundells and Margaret Stevenson, the friends in New Zealand are remaining united and active. We hope that when the pilgrims return the faith and enthusiasm of the believers will be greatly deepened and strengthened and that many new believers may be attracted.
I had a long letter from Effie Baker yesterday. She is very devoted and whole-hearted and will be a valuable worker for the Cause, I think, and a great help to Father and Mother Dunn. When she wrote, Margaret Stevenson had gone to Scotland and Mrs and Miss Blundell were in Bournemouth. Effie Baker hopes to make a return visit to Haifa on her way back to Australia.
Shoghi Effendi assures you of his prayers on behalf of your mother, yourself and all the Australasian friends and his hopes that the proposed Magazine may greatly help the spread of the Glad Tidings in Australia and New Zealand.
With warmest greetings and best wishes,
Yours sincerely in the Master’s service,
J. E. Esslemont

My dear fellow-worker:
Your charming letter truly gladdened my heart. I will follow the development of your magazine with keen interest and assure you of my desire to help and promote its interests to the fullest possible extent. I am enclosing the photographs of the shrine and gardens recently laid out in the close neighbourhood of the Shrines of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I assure you of my love, appreciation and fervent prayers.

- 5 -

May 28th, 1925

To Margaret Stevenson

Dear Bahá’í Sister,
Shoghi Effendi asks me to thank you on his behalf for your letter of 14th May. He received the letter of Mrs. Amy Thornton all right. I remember answering it for him some weeks ago, so you can set your mind at rest on that score.
The recovery of your Bahá’í ring and stones was very remarkable. It reminds me of a somewhat similar occurrence in Bournemouth. One of our Bahá’í friends had her Bahá’í ring stolen, and nothing was heard or seen of it for some months. Mr. King, another of our group, has an antique shop in Bournemouth and one day his partner (a non-Bahá’í) bought a ring from a man who said it was his wife’s, but as they had become very badly off she wanted to sell it.
When Mr.  King saw the ring he recognized it as a Bahá’í ring and knowing that this friend had lost her ring, he sent it to me. It turned out to be her ring and she was delighted to recover it. The curious thing is that out of the dozens of jewellers and antique shops in Bournemouth to which the ring might have been taken for sale, it should be taken to the one where there was a Bahá’í who recognized it.

I hope that before you leave Scotland you may be able to go to Aberdeen and see my home people. They would be delighted to see you. My father’s address is Fairford, Cults, (about 3 miles from Aberdeen, by car or train). He is 86 years of age and rather frail. My sister looks after him. My two married brothers are Peter Esslemont, 21, Louisville Avenue (Business: John E. Esslemont, 16 King Street) and W.D.E., 12 Wellbrae Terr., Mannofield. Both of their houses are near the Mannofield Car Line. We were very glad to hear of your meetings with the friends at London and West Moors. Many thanks for your letter to myself and the excellent snap-shots enclosed. I am glad you have fallen in love with Sister Challis and hope you will see her again before you leave. I had a delightful letter yesterday from Miss Kilford of West Moors, whom I regard as a Bahá’í grand-daughter, as she was brought into the Cause by Sister Challis who calls me her Bahá’í father! We hope Shoghi Effendi will get away soon for a much needed rest. The Greatest Holy Leaf was rather seriously ill last week, but is a good deal better again, although very feeble and frail. I have been advised by the Drs to leave Haifa for the summer months, as my breathing has lately been troublesome and they think the moist heat during the summer here would be bad for me. On the same day on which this decision was arrived at, I received a cordial invitation to go to a place in the Black Forest for my summer vacation. The Drs considered this place would be ideal for me and that the sooner I got away the better, so I leave in 3 days time. My address will be c/o Frau Victoria von Sigsfeld, Husli, Finsterlingen, bei St Blaisien, Baden, Germany. I hope to return to Haifa in the latter part of Sept. to resume my work here.

Shoghi Effendi, the members of the Holy Household and the friends here join in loving greetings and best wishes.
Your brother in the service of the Beloved,
J. E. Esslemont

Mrs Schopflocher arrived here last night after a very successful tour in Russia, Persia and ‘Iráq.

My dear co-worker:
I was very glad indeed to learn about your experiences and visit to the friends and your firm determination to labour unceasingly in the Divine Vineyard. I will continue to pray for you that all your relatives and friends may recognise and be illumined with the resplendent Light of this Divine Revelation. Never feel disheartened and trust me ever your affectionate, grateful and true brother in the service of the Cause.

- 6 -

November 4th, 1925

To Margaret Stevenson

Dear Bahá’í Sister,
Shoghi Effendi received your kind letter and wishes me to acknowledge its receipt. He hopes that on your return to New Zealand you will obtain divine assistance in your services to the Cause. That land has been newly opened to the Bahá’í Movement. The work of the friends therefore, interesting and useful as it may be, is hard and most exacting to one’s patience and energy.
It needs great perseverance to obtain a hearing among the people and draw their attention to this Blessed Cause. But once that that has been obtained and the way smoothed then progress becomes increasingly great and the fruits of your labours appreciated.
Shoghi Effendi is very glad that you have enjoyed your trip to England. The Friends there though they are few in number, are full of love and affection, one cannot but feel at home among them. Shoghi Effendi thanks Miss Nora Lee for the kind contribution she has made to the Cause. It will be spent for the progress of this movement so dear to the heart of us all. Enclosed there will be a receipt for that amount.
Shoghi Effendi and the other members of the family send you their best Bahá’í love and greeting and wish you success in your services to the Cause.
Your brother in His Name,
Rúḥí Afnán

My dearest fellow-worker:
My prayers accompany you wherever you go. I wish you to be happy, confident and active. Rest assured of my great admiration of your zeal and steadfast labours, of my confidence in the success of your splendid pioneer services and of my eagerness to hear from you about the progress of your work.
Your true brother,

- 7 -

December 5th, 1925

To Bertram Dewing, publisher of the Bahá’í Magazine, “The Herald of the South”

My dear friend and fellow-worker:
I have just heard the welcome news of the publication of the first issue of the Bahá’í Journal, recently established by the friends of Australia and New Zealand. I rejoice in this new and notable Bahá’í enterprise, particularly as it is undertaken by my dearly-beloved and self-sacrificing brothers and sisters in a land which holds so great a promise for the future.
I have followed the progress of the activities of the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand with keen interest and ever-increasing confidence, and with a deep sense of pride and gratitude. I most heartily welcome this newly-added link in the chain of the many services, so lovingly and spontaneously rendered by the pioneers of the Cause in these lands.
I assure you of my steadfast prayers for the speedy expansion and consolidation of this youngest of all Bahá’í Magazines, and of my earnest endeavours to enable it to attain a standard worthy of the bearer of such a noble Message.
It should be the object and purpose of its author and publisher to open its pages to the consideration and review of matters that are strictly Bahá’í in character, as well as to the treatment of topics of a humanitarian, ethical and religious nature; that its readers, while witnessing to the liberal and broad-minded attitude of the Bahá’í Cause, may receive from it their full share of inspiration which only a clear and direct statement of the Divine Message can impart.

Go forth, on thy noble errand, O thou Herald of the South! Join thy voice, however feeble, to those of thy sister-journals who, in various parts of the world, are raising with one accord the call of this new Day of God. Persevere in thy labours, endeavour to reach every circle and every home, that the light thou bearest may in the fulness of time illuminate with its healing rays the uttermost corners of that distant and troubled continent.
Your well-wisher,

- 8 -

March 4th, 1926

To Margaret Stevenson

Dear Bahá’í Sister,
Your letter to Shoghi Effendi and the enclosed one to Rúḥí with the postal order for £10 have been received and read with keen interest and pleasure.
We are all very happy to know that you have had such a pleasant journey back home and that you had the opportunity of delivering the message on so many occasions. We hope and pray that the seed you have sown has fallen on fertile soil and that in time it will grow and bear abundant fruit.
We hope that now through your sustained zeal and effort new life will be infused into your small Bahá’í group, and that it will in the near future grow sufficiently in number to enable you to form an assembly the first to be established in that land. We shall pray at the Holy Threshold for your guidance and the success of your work.

The Greatest Holy Leaf and the Holy Mother remember you well, and they and the other members of the family send their loving greetings to you. You will be interested to know that the new pilgrim house is being completed, and it will be all ready in a month time for the new pilgrims that will come. We still have our dear sister Effie Baker with us, and we all love her so; she is so sweet and helpful. We have just now two American lady friends with us, Auntie Victoria Bedekian and Mrs R. Kehler — very fine Bahá’ís they are and we are expecting some more soon. I always remember the happy day I spent with you and Effy in London and shall look forward to the pleasure of meeting you again some day — perhaps here in Haifa or in New Zealand, who knows? I am back at home now for the present, and I am trying to help Shoghi Effendi a little in his enormous task. He is keeping in good health I am glad to say in spite of his many activities and heavy and manifold responsibilities. To you he sends his brotherly love and the assurance of his prayers for your welfare and happiness.
With all good wishes and loving greetings,
Your sister in His Service,
Ruh-Anguiz Rabbání

My dear and precious Bahá’í sister:
I cannot but add a few words personally expressing my deep appreciation of your persistent, self-sacrificing services to the Cause. I have devoted your gift towards the Fund for the Western Pilgrim House and I wish to assure you that when I visit the Holy Shrines I tenderly supplicate for you Divine Guidance and strength in your labours for our beloved Cause.
Your true Brother,

- 9 -

April 3rd, 1926

To Sarah Blundell

Dear Spiritual Sister:
Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated January 24, 1926. He hopes that after this long vacation you have had you are ready to begin spreading the Cause in New Zealand with even greater energy than before. The people there seem to be broad in their outlook, receptive to any idea which helps the human family from decreasing its burden. Shoghi Effendi was most chagrined to hear of the sudden death of your son and wishes me to extend to you his deepest love and sympathy. There is no special news here except that we have removed to the new pilgrim house. Miss Baker is well and very busy entertaining the friends and arranging the new home. Shoghi Effendi as well as the other members of the family are well and send you their love and greetings. They earnestly pray for your success and hope to hear, before long, the news of your many victories in the field of services to the Cause. Please convey my loving greetings to your son and daughter.
Yours most sincerely,
Rúḥí Afnán

My dear fellow-worker:
I wish to express in person my deep sympathy in the heavy loss you have sustained. May the Beloved Comforter strengthen you and sustain you in your bereavement. The memory of your visit to the Holy Land is still fresh and vivid in my mind and I pray and supplicate at the holy Shrines that your labours in the Cause may yield an abundant harvest.
Your sympathising brother,

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