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Eleanor Vandevort known as Nyarial

Breaking News: it’s very sorry to convey this sad news to you all Nuer and South Sudanese in general. We lost a great person who will be never forgotten entire our community here in Diaspora and overseas, our Grandmother and the former missionary under united Presbyterian Church from 1949-1963 Ms. Nyarial/Eleanor Vandevort has died with age 90 years old on Monday October 26, 2015 around 6:00 PM eastern time, due to fractured chronicle circulation on her right leg ankle, muscles cramping, and confusion in Beverly, Massachusetts.


Nyarial/Eleanor Vandevort was born in Bellevue, Pennsylvania on October 31, 1925, her father was a Bank officer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and her mother was a school teacher. In an attempt to find a way to feed the family through the depression years, her father had sold the family home in Pittsburg and moved them to Wexford when Eleanor was almost 6 years old. In Wexford, they had 45 acres farm which they cultivated to produce food needed for their survival during those difficult years. Nyarila/Vandevort’s father had lost his job but he uses to go to Pittsburgh every day and the mother lived in the city in all her life and trying to keep the household together by learning how to butcher, can, smoke, and to preserve food.

Eleanor was the middle child, her brother Malcolm the older one with age four years old and later become a minister and spent years in Ethiopia with his family, her sister Jeanette the younger with age three years old became a nurse and stayed in the area. As Ms. Vandevort characterize her sister and herself during that time “She was more fearful of things than I. I delighted in discovery”.


Nyarial/Eleanor went to a small one-roomed school in Wexford and remembers that she always enjoyed foreign language and learned some German and latin while in high school consequently. It seemed like a natural choice for her to major in classical Greek when she started at Wheaton College as a freshman in 1945.


Ms. Nyarial/Vandevort points to her parents as having the strongest influence on her Christian value system. They had both been Christian people who read the Bible to their children and encouraged them to study it for themselves. Later, as Ms, Vandevort recalls, when she became a freshman at Wheaton College. The World War II had just been over and many of the students at Wheaton college who were joined the army were returned to school and looking for new meaning in life after the horrors of the war. Many of them had returned to college specially to become missionaries in war-torn areas. Eleanor says “I kind of fit in with those people which made for camaraderie during those 4 years. Of course, the future seemed totally possible. It was a high calling to translate the Bible for people since the Bible made all the sense in the world to me as to the meaning of life”. (Jun 2003, email) It was art Wheaton College where she met her life-long friends Elisabeth, and Jim Elliot. Elizabeth would later write the preface to Vandevort’s 1968 Book, A leopard Tamed.


After she graduated from Wheaton College, she went to study linguistics for 13 weeks at the summer institute of linguistics in Norman, OK, and then she left for South Sudan where she worked as a missionary for 13 years under United Presbyterian Church. She arrived in Nasir 1949 and replaced for Ms. Kuachuor/Ray Hatfman a missionary who had been instrument in the development of Nuer Linguistics and she she stayed until 1963 when all foreign missionaries where expelled from the Country.


After her return to United States of America, she stayed with her best friend Elisabeth Elliot for 7 years in New Hampshire. By her own account, “the seven years in New Hampshire my head was in a cauldron, not a matter of medicines and physician, but a desperate attempt to understand”. (The June 2003, e mail) it was the time she wrote A leopard Book. Writing the Book, it’s the way to deal with her experiences in Sudan to express her thought about missionary work, language, and translating the Bible, the most things on the Book she wrote all about Moses Kuach, a Nuer who converted himself to Christianity in early time and became a first pastor under the Presbyterian Church and worked on Bible Translations with her. In fact, A leopard Tamed is most about Moses Kuac’s life as a pastor and as a Nuer, his dilemmas and problems with in the Presbyterian mission- problem which as she realized where closely connected to a mission policy in general. Nyarial/Vandevort’s own admission, she felt extremely discouraged when she returned from Sudan, mostly by “the approach of mission policy toward the people, which hurt me. That is what the Book is really about”. (On June 2003, e email) while she wrote A leopard Tamed, she also tried to get reacquainted with America life, which like “learning a new language” Eventually, in 1970, Ms. Vandevort has join the staff of Gordon College, a small liberal Arts College in Wheaton, MA north of Boston. She stayed there for 21 years and was a faculty adviser for freshman with undeclared Majors till she was retired and lives in Dillsburg, PA.


Please go to visit Indiana University’s webs link and read more about Nyarial’s Biography or just click this link “13 Year of missionary life in Nasir South Sudan”

Eleanor Vandevort Video

she speaks Nuer fluently, the video was recorded at her house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA.

Video # 1

Video # 2

Late Ms. Nyarial/Eleanor Vandevort the former American Missionary and the lingustic under Presbyterian Church in Sudan in 1949 - 1963, she has been living in Nuer land for 14 years. and became well spoken, read, and writer in Nuer Language.


Nyarial never speak Nuer language after she was expelled from Sudan by north government in 1963, it's her first time on that video above to speak Nuer in 2006 when we visit her in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. She was the one who translated Bible New Testament with Mosses Kuac Nyoat from English to Nuer Language in 1960.

The recent video YouTube