Haakon Ingwardo Anderson was the son of Hans and Ingeborg ( Jacobsen) Andersen. He was born on September 9, 1891 in Grimstad, Tjome, Norway. Hans and Ingeborg had three sons ; Andres (1883), Jacob Hagbart (1888), Haakon (1891). When Haakon was just three years old, his mother, Ingeborg died on September 18, 1894. Hans was a fisherman and was out to sea at the time of he death. Olava Hansen Jorgensen, Hans’s mother, took care of the young boys until Hans’ return and he eventually remarried a spinster whose name was Mathilde Zainer. For Haakon, who was so young, Mathilde became the only mother he will ever remember.
A place that Haakon worked but not for long.
Haakon sent this post card to his brother, Andres, and told him that he tried to work here but it just did not work out. He also asked Andres if he could send him money to buy a watch so when he got his job, he could be there on time. Can’t help but wonder if that was the problem with this job? Obviously, Andrew was familiar with what this building was.
For Haakon, being a sailor was out of the question. His father was a sailor and sailed all over the world. His older brother, Andres was a sailor and he sailed off to America and Haakon has not seen him since he left. Hagbart, his next older brother, took a job sailing and during a trip to Australia became sick and died. In Norway, at the time, there were very few employment options especially on the island of Tjome where he lived. Eventually his strong faith enable him to find his life’s calling in 1915. He become a missionary with the Norwegian National Church and was sent to the northwestern part of the Shansi province of China. Before leaving Norway, Haakon decided to officially change his name from Haakon Ingwardo Andersen to just Haakon Ingwardo. There were far too many Andersen missionaries in the Norwegian National Church.
The location of the mission in the Shansi province was in a mountain range which consisted of a series of plateaus dotted with steep gorges that transitioned into valleys before mountains rose to the heavens again. There were no roads in this area of China when Haakon arrived. You made your way to the mission on foot or on a mule.
When he arrived at the mission, much to Haakon’s surprise, a young woman by the name of Anna Charlotte Skafjeld was there. She grew up on the western shore of the same small island that he lived on in the village of Glenne. She had arrived the year before and had been studying the language for a year. Working together, a romance developed and and blossomed. In 1918, Anna and Haakon married. They each had their own mission responsibilities. They often spoke of those years as the best of their lives because that were together doing what the Lord had called them to do.
1916 – China Mission Conference – Haakon is standing against the wall under the X
In 1919, Elsa was born. In 1926, she was sent to an English boarding school in China four days travel from Tsinglo where the mission was located. In 1932, a thirteen year old Elsa was loaded into a ship called “Raj Putuna Greenock” where she spent 2 months traveling back to Norway leaving her parents and her siblings behind where she would continue her school in Norway. In 1928, Randi was born, then came Aslaug in 1930, Olaf in 1933 and Bjarne in 1934. In the late 1938 or 1939, Anna returned to Norway with the remaining four children so they could attend Norwegian schools. It was very difficult to raise a family on your own for a woman in Norway.
A few short years later the Germans occupied Norway and a difficult task became even worse. Across the ocean in China, in 1943, Japan occupied China and Haakon was required to leave Tsinglo for good. He was held as a prisoner in Japan in a mission which was closed and guarded but there was food and fairly comfortable accommodations. A much better situations than in Norway.
By time of the occupation, Anna and all the older girls labored as much as they could to survive as a family. Olaf and Bjarne were still in school during the war. Everything you needed to run a household was rationed or just did not exist during the occupation. Anna and Haakon were a half a world away from each other throughout the war.
It wasn’t until 1947 that he could get back to Norway. In 1951, Haakon returned to Japan with mixed feeling. He missed the mission in China that he had developed but China had closed its borders in 1949. Now how would it feel to run a mission where he was basically held captive all during the war? Haakon and his team had a mission going within the month and he remained there until 1959 when he retired.
Fifty years ago today, January 14, 1970, Haakon died in Norway. I do not know where he is buried for certain. Maybe someday I will get there again and the relatives can show me where.
Rest in peace, Haakon, job well done.
Haakon is my Great Uncle.