Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 22 May – 8 June 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 22 May – 8 June 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 31, 2013

(Previous installment)

Sat. May 22

Ern and Bro. Shaw left at 7. am. for the Island Morea leaving just Brother Stocks and I at headquarters, so we busied ourselves most of the day putting the house in order.

Sun. May 23.

Sunday School and Sacrament meeting was conducted by Bro. Stocks after which we with Terai our native mother walked down to the beach later calling to see Moufa one of our members who is afflicted with tubercules, and we thought after our visit that it was no more than could be expected living in such an unsanitary place. Walking about a mile out along the beach road to the poorer district, we turned off to the right winding our way in and out through a regular thicket of unkept thatched houses, before which on the ground sat dozens of half clad men, women, and children, talking, smoking and playing cards, who lazily called out “la Ora ha” as we passed. Carefully picking out way through the boggy ill smelling path we finally came to several miserable little thatched huts huddled close together. One of these was the home of our friend, who, with her three little feeding children (for she has never had any of her own) came out to meet us and make us welcome. We stayed about an hour sitting on some boxes under a cocoanut tree while about a dozen half starved looking cats and dogs sniffed cautiously around us. It was getting dusk when we left so Moufa led us back to the main road, through a different and better path.

Mon. May 24.

In the cool of the morning, Bro Stocks and I walked out to the village of Faua to deliver some books of Mormon. It was rather a long walk but it was certainly worth the trouble for the scenery along the way was interesting and beautiful, and when our friends (who live on the top of a beautiful hill overlooking the sea) saw us coming ran to meet us and greeted us warmly. They were as happy as children to get their books and one old lady clasped hers to her breast and stroked it, saying that she was so thankful to know the servants of God had love enough for her to bring her the Word of God. After we had rested a while they brought us out oranges and bananas to eat and young cocoanuts to drink. We arrived back in Papeete about two o’clock quite tired out from our lengthy walk. After lunch and a bath I spent the remaining part of the day preparing a blessing on the food.

Tues. May 25.

To-day two native girls (neither of whom I had ever seen before) called to see me. Apparently one of them was familiar with the place for she took great pride in showing her friend about the house and explaining everything in sight. Coming to a group picture of some young men from Lewiston, Utah, that hung on the wall she glowingly said”These are the Prophets and Apostles.”

Wed. May 26.

Spent the morning in study. In the afternoon Terai brought her weaving over and spent several hours while I embroidered.

Thur. May 27.

Held my usual sewing class. My husband & Bro Shaw returned from Morea in the evening.

Fri. May 28, 1915.

In the evening went with Brothers Stocks & Shaw to take some medicine to one of [our] members who was ill. We found her lying in a dark corner on the floor of her house groaning with pain. After giving her the medicine and feeling of her head which was burning with fever I sat down beside her, but she roused herself a little told me to go [a]way from her for fear of some contagious disease. We ma[d]e [her] as comfortable as possible and left promising to call again in the morning.

Sat. May 29.

After breakfast I called again to see Toraki, our sick woman, and was horrified to find her all broken out in nasty yellow sores, having touched her the night before. Another native woman was caring for her, bathing her with a native herb tea, and you may be sure I didn’t stay any longer than necessary. Held our weekly priesthood meeting in the evening in which we agreed to set apart the following Sun. May 30. for fasting and prayer in behalf of Bro. Albert Shaw, who was suffering from homesickness.

Sun. May 30.

Held our usual Sunday meetings. In the evening an old Josephite native walked in from the country to hear me sing, for some of his friends had told him that if he came to the house to see us and asked me to sing, I would be “maururu roa,” which of course I was.

Mon. May 31, 1915.

Some native girls called to see me and asked me to teach them to sing, so we practised singing “Memories of Galilee” for an hour or so. Mr. Rossiter was taken with a sore throat and high fever.

Tues. June 1st.

Helped with the washing, and nursed Mr. Rossiter, who remained in bed all day, giving him a tablespoon of concecrated oil every half hour, and gargling his throat with salt water.

Wed. June 2nd.

My husband was much better and able to be around at his duties. It being Bro. Shaw’s birthday we had roast chicken and ice-cream for dinner, in his honor. Spent the remainder of the day writing letters.

Thurs. June 3rd.

The Moana arrived from New Zealand with the following returning missionaries on board. Bros. Clarence Hancock, Perry Harrison, John A. Bellows, Lawrance J. Cridle, & Clarence E. Trigagle. Bro. J. Leonard Davis arrived from Takaroa at 2: am

Fri. June 4, 1915.

Mr. Rossiter received a telegram bearing the sad news of the death of his dear mother, who had passed away May [11, overwritten by 13; NewFamilySearch lists 12] after a[n] illness of two years’ duration. Our hearts were bowed down in sorrow, although we knew the end was a happy one, and she has joined with her husband who had preceded her nineteen months before.

Sat. June 5. 1915.

Usual day of cleaning and baking. Held our priesthood meeting at 7: pm Bros Rossiter, Stocks, Shaw, Davis & myself present.

Sun. June 6.

Held Sunday School at 10:30 am. Fast meeting at 3 pm at which I bore my testimony in the Tahitian tongue for the first time. Tima (Jim) Mapui, one of our Saints, a wealthy plantation owner from [blank] attended the services and spent the day with us remaining for din[n]er. He is a very bright fellow and appears more like a white man than any other native I have met, speaking fluently in the English, French and Tahitian tongues. He is a close personal friend of the Gov. General of the Islands, of whom he related this incident: The Governor being a Frenchman and a strong Catholic, is much opposed to the Mormon missionaries, and one day meeting Tima said, “I have heard that you Mormons give your missionaries great sums of money” and Tima answered,”Yes, and would you believe it I have heard that your Pope in Rome has a wife.” The Governor was beat and had nothing more to say.

Mon. 7.

Bros Stocks and Davis met Tima at the market at 6: am by appointment who bought them a large roast of beef and an immense basket of oranges for the mission house. At 8: am we attended and conducted the funeral services of a young girl from Tuboi, who was staying with some relatives in Papeete. As the law requires that the body be buried within twenty four hours from the time of death the funeral was held at this rather unusual hour. Arriving at the house which was already filled with friends we stood in the room where the corpse lay in a pine box, in which the relatives had put perfume oil, powder and other toilet requisites that she might be prepared for the morning of the ressurection. Wreaths of flowers were draped about the room and above the coffin and everyone was dressed in black for those who didn’t have black clothes on their own, borrowed them from friends for the occasion. The relatives of the girl sat on the floor wailing and moaning in another room. After a short service we all followed the hearse in a procession to the cemetary about two miles out of Papeete. Arriving at the gate, the coffin was lifted out of the hearse and carried by the elders up a steep winding path to a wild out of the way place where some native men were still digging the grave. When they were finished the coffin was lowered into the grave and dedicated, after which the relatives, followed by every one present, threw a handful of dirt in on the box as a token of love. While the grave was being filled the relatives sat on the ground shrieking and moaning piteously but as soon as it was finished they seemed to forget their sorrow instantly as they decended the hill laughing and talking with one another. Returning to the house a feast is held, but as it is a custom that we try as much as possible to discourage, we did not attend.

Tues. June 8.

Steamship Maitai arrived from America with the mail bearing the sad news of Sister Rossiter’s death, also the birth of my first little niece Venus June Robinson the child of my oldest brother Arthur.



  1. “Tues. June 1st. / … nursed Mr. Rossiter, … giving him a tablespoon of concecrated oil every half hour”

    To my mind and taste buds, that’s a lot of oil to be taken straight. Was that a typical dosage?

    Comment by Edje Jeter — March 31, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  2. *Calling J. Stapley*

    I dunno, Edje. It seems a lot to swallow at once, and the frequency seems high, but I don’t know what a typical dose would be. (Aren’t you glad the practice changed?)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 31, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

  3. Venus again. Wonderful! Such a colorful account. The funeral, the homesick missionary, the prophets and apostles, all so beautifully described.

    Comment by Amy T — March 31, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  4. And the lovely Venus at all those priesthood meetings! Oh, the scandal!

    Comment by Mark B. — April 1, 2013 @ 5:42 am

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