Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 24 August – 12 September 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 24 August – 12 September 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 28, 2013

(Previous installment)

Tues. Aug. 24.

Wrote letters nearly all day. The boys got up at daybreak and had the washing done and out on the line before I got up.

Wed. Aug 25.

Had another surprise this morning. The boys had all of their ironing and part of mine done, and breakfast already on the table before I came down stairs. An old blind Josephite man and his wife brought us three small banana trees in from Faa to plant in our yard.

Thurs. Aug 26.

Went shopping with Mr Rossiter to get supplies for the boys in the island, also to buy a baby bonnet and a ball for woman in Takaroa. conducted the sewing class in the afternoon.

Fri. Aug 27.

Held a Tahitian class in the morning and finished writing my letters and took them to the post office at 9: pm because the Moana was going to leave at 5 o’clock the next morning.

Sat. Aug 28.

Helped with the cleaning and attended priesthood meeting & Tahitian class. Studied S.S. lesson in the evening.

Sun Aug 29, 1915.

Held our usual Sunday meetings and song practice Mr. Rossiter & Elder Davis occupying the time at the afternoon meeting.

Mon & Tues. Aug. 30 & 31.

Was not feeling well, studied and lay down off and on all day.

Wed Sept. 1st.

Conducted a splendid “himeneraa”from 7 to 10 pm. During the afternoon the Seventh Day Adventist minister called to see us. Held our himeneraa at 7: p.

Thurs & Fri Sept 2nd. & 3rd.

Prepared for leaving for the Oct. Conference to be held at Hikueru.

Sat. Sept. 4.

Left at 5: pm on the St. Francois. Had fine sailing for about 2 hrs when we all began being seasick. So sick in fact that we could not get down to our cabins so lay out all night on the upper deck even though the sea water splashed right up over us.

Sun. Sept. 5.

Still seasick, lay on the deck, rolled up in a blanket all day. At 9: pm we entered the bay and anchored at Takarava. Where the sea was much quieter so we went down to our cabins for the night.

Mon. Sept 6.

Got up early and were taken to shore in a rowboat as far as we could go and carried the rest of the way on a native boys back where we met Tohinuou and his wife who were going down to work in their copra. They were very glad to see us and took us to their house where they cooked a chicken and some pancakes for us. They had neither salt nor baking powder, but they certainly tasted good to us, for it was the first food we had been able to eat since Saturday noon. After dinner they brought out some mats and pillows for us to rest on, and gathered a lot of green cocoanuts for us to drink. All day the old lady, when she wasn’t busy sat in front of me on the floor and patted my feet and knees and sort of grunted out her affection. This island, as are all of the others in the Toumota Group are nothing more than a white coral formation extending about three to five feet up out of the sea, and covered with cocoanut trees, which is the only vegetation growing on them, with the exception of a little salt grass here and there and a few other tropical plants that can grow with out any soil. The cocoanuts and the fish in the ocean are the only natural foods to be obtained and rain water and the water of the the [sic] green cocoanuts, are the only finds available to drinking and culinary purposes. We visited until five o’clock with our friends and then went back to the steamer. On the way we saw two immense turtles large enough for a man to ride on.

Tues. Sept 7.

Arrived at Anaa at 3: pm, four hours later than we should have done, on account of the ship having left its course. It was a terribly desolate looking place. Only the blazing white sand and rocks with a few young cocoanuts trees growing on it, for everything had been entirely swept off of it in the cyclone of 1906. To add more to the gloomy aspect of the place a small schooner had run on the rocks and scores of native men and women were out in the water, trying to get it off. We did not land, as the steamer stopped only about one hour.

Makemo. Wed. Sept. 8.

Sighted Makemo in the early morning and landed at abough [about] 8 o’clock. The whole town was out, and all day we were the center of attraction for the sight of a white woman is a rare thing in these parts. Here we met Elders Monk and Pierson who with some saints from Takaroa had called on their way to Conference. They were only in a small 10-ton sailing vessel, but we decided to leave the steamer and go the rest of the way with them instead of changing boat sat Takume as we had previously planned. As we had but one member, an old man, on the island we were obliged to get along as best we could. He took us to a little native house that belonged to some of his relatives who were away diving. We had no dishes or cooking utensils with us, but we borrowed a frying pan from some natives and ate from cocoanuts shells with sticks & small pieces of nut shell, & Bro Monk whittled out a wooden spoon for me. We had brought some rice with us & this with some fish given to us by the natives consisted our supper and breakfast next morning. After are [our] meal which we ate sitting on the ground around our fire we went down to see a boat full of small sharks that some of the native fishermen had caught. That evening we held a cottage meeting and began with nine present, but before we had finished the room was filled with people and we invited them all to come back the following evening. When they had all gone, we retired for the night each of us rolling up in a blanket, and lying in a row on the floor.

Makemo, Thurs. Sept 9.

The house was filled all day. Children bringing us flowers and cocoanuts. One young girl brought us a large fish. There was a white man living on the island who had a native white [wife] and ten children. He was very kind to us and gave us onions, a chicken and a can of milk. His name was Mr. Laurence Orbeck, a Dane, and had been in the islands for twenty three years. In the evening we held a meeting, and the house was filled many were not able to get in and sat around on the ground on the outside.

Makemo, Fri. Sept 10.

The sea had calmed down so we decided to set sail for Hikueru in our small boat. There were fifteen of us on board and we took up all the room, so you may just about imagine the size of our craft. Sailing was fine for the first few hours of the morning, but along towards noon the breeze died down and we drifted about for several hours unprotected from the hot rays of the tropical sun. About sunset a slight breeze came up and we were much relieved from the terrific heat. Marawaki boiled some rice for our supper in a little iron kettle set in a box of rocks, and after prayers we retired for the night lying on the deck beside the native, looking up at the myriads of stars in the southern skies. About midnight it began to rain and we were all forced to crowd down into the stiffling hot, ill-smelling bottom of the boat, but towards morning I could not stand it any longer so Mr Rossiter and I went up and lay on the wet deck.

Sat. Sept 11.

Came in sight of the small island of Marutea and we had so little wind all day that we had not lost sight of it by night. One came [can] never imagine what it means to strike a calm in the south seas until he has experienced it. With absolutely no breeze and no protection from the direct rays of the sun that pour down on us unmercifully and the blinding reflection of the water, my skin was actually cooked and my hair & eye brows bleached several shades lighter. We were certainly thankful to see the sun drop down in the sea each day between five and six oclock For as soon as night comes on the sailing is delightful on a smooth sea.

Sun. Sept 12.

A fine breeze had come up in the night & we were sailing away at about five knots an hour. But the old man at the rudder had fallen asleep during the night and we were not sure as to whether we were following the right course or not. About 8: a man native climbed the mast and sighted a small bird [?] island that he knew to be near Hikueru, so we were given new hope. About 9:30 we came into sight of Hikueru and by 12 o’clock had dropped our anchor. This islands like the others of the group is surrounded by a coral wall, and the only means of landing is being washed ashore in a small vaa, up over the coral wall by the large breakers. It looks to be rather a dangerous procedure, & i[n] fact it is for several people have lost their lives attempting it by being dashed against the rocks. However the native made us wait until they brought a good sized vaa from the other side of the island, and we landed one at a time. It was quite a thrilling sensation but I rather enjoyed it, and when the water had taken us as far as we could go, we were carried in the natives arms to dry land. There were not many people on the island as most of them had gone away to the island of Tucume to dive for pearl shell. But those who were there couldn’t do enough for us. The men carried our boxes for us, while the women swept and carried chairs tables dishes and everything we needed for our comfort to the best house on the island for us. Then they brought us tubs & water to bath[e] in, to get ready for church. The church house is a small tin building nailed on a frame of 2×4, with a white sand floor, they had benches without any backs but they carried special chairs from their houses for us to sit. Bros Pierson and Rossiter occupied the time in the services. For sacrament we had cookies and coconut water the only bread and water available on the island. After church the native women brought us cooked fish & cocoanuts and after conversing with them until dark were tired for the night Mr Rossiter sleeping in a nice bed they had prepared for us, while the boys, Bros. Davis, Monk & Pierson slept on native mats on the floor. It surely seemed good to get undressed again for it was the first time since we had left Papeete.

(To be continued)



  1. This is a great missionary journal. She makes you feel that you were there with her.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — April 28, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  2. Seasickness: Yuck. I feel for her.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — April 28, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

  3. Mrs. Rossiter was right about those “islands”–minute pieces of land in the midst of a seemingly boundless ocean. I wonder about the navigators–especially after reading of the helmsman who may have slept half the night. It’s amazing that they didn’t simply get lost.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 29, 2013 @ 5:47 am

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