A community's prayer is answered
June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:50 PM
"EGLON - When his emotions grew too powerful, the Rev. Anthony Sackor's words became sobs. These are tears of joy and tears of thanks, the Liberia native told friends who had gathered at the Eglon Community Center to celebrate an answered prayer. Earlier this month, the Sackors escaped war-torn Africa and reunited with their American-born daughter after seven years. You prayed for us, Sackor told the crowd Sunday. We are no different than all those who died in front of us. Some people who attended the potluck met the Sackors for the first time, while others with tear-filled eyes and open arms reunited with the family after more than a decade. The bond between the Sackors and people of Eglon began in the early 1980s when Sackor and his wife Doris spent their summers and weekends living in Eglon. Sackor was studying at a Seattle Bible college with aspirations of beginning a ministry in his homeland. For seven years they periodically stayed in Elaine Bryant's guest house. During that time their daughter Wendy was born. In 1986, the Sackor family returned to Liberia. Four years later war broke out and 7-year-old Wendy was sent back to the United States. Anthony Sackor accompanied her, leaving behind his wife and 3-month-old baby Malessa. Wendy lived with Bryant's daughter, Tami Cook. With Wendy in safekeeping, Sackor returned to Liberia to be with his wife. If we must die, we will die together, said Sackor. In Liberia, he discover his wife, because of her name, had been tortured and his baby had been left for dead. A stranger, an angel Sackor said, convinced the rebels they had the wrong person. In 1992, Wendy returned to Liberia, but once again, in 1994, war forced the girl to return to the United States. Wendy's parents and little sister spent the past seven years fleeing from fighting in different parts of Africa. The family stayed in touch via email and phone calls with Cook, now a Port Angeles resident who became Wendy's legal guardian. The Sackors relied on financial and spiritual supporters in Eglon for their survival. Just when war ravaged every safe haven the Sackors sought and bureaucratic red tape strangled their hopes of entering the U.S., Sackor, 45, received a visa to be community pastor at the Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles. It's overwhelming, said Eglon resident Frannie Witherspoon as she fought back tears. God knows his timing. She and scores of others have followed the Sackors' 14-year saga filled with heartache, hope and less than two weeks ago, a homecoming. In the welcoming crowd was LeRoy Uncle Peff Peffer who answered the desperate phone calls when the family had run out of hope. Bryant and her two daughters paid tribute to the Sackors with song. Scores of others gave time, money and prayers to the couple and now 10-year old Malessa. They're great people, Peffer said. I don't consider I did anything more than anyone else. I was a spoke in the wheel. Sackor family photos hung on the front wall of the clubhouse. Wendy, who is now a junior at Port Angeles High School, was just a baby in the Sackors' arms in the photo taken in 1986. Virginia Ungren of Eglon remembers when Doris Sackor had French braided her daughter's hair. Now Ungren's daughter has a son of her own. Ungren brought photos of that day and they remembered the better times. I was so excited, it was an answered prayer. Ungren said. Ungren's sister, Cathy Witherspoon remembers Sackor would trim her hedges. When the Sackors would come to Eglon, she would play board games with the family. They are very giving people, Witherspoon said. We're just glad they're safe. Sackor's daughters also attended the event. Wendy gave a brief, yet tearful, thanks to the crowd. Her father perhaps summed it up best when after the tribute remarked, I just feel like I have come back to life. "