A New Vision for Missions: William Cameron Townsend, the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Culture of Early Evangelical Faith Missions, 1896-1945

By William Lawrence Svelmoe | Go to book overview

3
In Which the Reader Learns a Great
Deal about Evangelicals and Faith
Missions, While Townsend Takes a
Wife, Builds a Cornstalk House, and
Meets Some Important People
1919–1921

“We have built” an Indian home in an Indian town, and though its inmates
are white yet their hearts are chuck full of Indian- ward love.

—William Cameron Townsend

On New Year's Day 1919, Townsend attended a dinner party at the home of the Allisons, the leaders of the Presbyterian mission. The Allisons were out of town, and the party was hosted by Elvira Malmstrom, William Allison's personal secretary. Where Robbie Robinson had fallen for Elvira almost a year and a half ago, this time Townsend was smitten. Elvira was the only game in town as far as young missionary women went, and after a year on the road Townsend fell hard. A few weeks later, back in Antigua, Townsend was stricken with malaria. Elvira traveled with another missionary couple to Antigua, where she ministered to Townsend regularly during his convalescence. He proposed marriage to her on Valentine's Day, and she accepted. Three days later he wrote to his parents, proudly crowing that he had “wooed and won (vini, vidi, vici)” her. He did not mention that he had claimed his victory over the older Robinson, who had sent a letter of proposal to Elvira at approximately the same time. Being absent, however, Robinson was not able to press his claim. Townsend also did not mention that he scarcely knew the girl. Young love knew nothing of such practical matters. For Townsend, she was “altogether lovely.” After describing her un

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