Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 13 September – 7 October 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 13 September – 7 October 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 05, 2013

(Previous installment)

Mon. Sept. 13, 1915.

Long before we were up the children were back bringing us armfuls of firewood for us to cook our meals with. One little boy brought us some eggs. About 9: o’clock the sisters of the Relief Society brought us five immense home made baskets full of pape haares and three chickens, and took all of our dirty clothes away to wash and iron. Later in the day a young girl brought us a fine string of fish. At 7: pm we held a singing practise in the little tin church house.

Tues Sept 14.

Spent the day writing and studying. In the evening 2e held a priesthood meeting to discuss plans for our approaching conference.

Wed. Sept 15.

At 6:30 am one of our members came to the house to tell us the people were assembled at the church and were waiting to hold prayer meeting with us. The native people are very particular about holding some sort of meeting on Wednesday, as they believe it is the day the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, and should be set apart as a day of prayer and thanksgiving.

Thur. Sept 16.

Went with the children out on the reef to spear the fish that had been left on the rocks after the tide had gone out. At 3 pm attended the Relief Society meeting and spoke for a short time on the way the meetings are conducted in Zion. At 7 pm held a singing practise in the church, while off and on all day I was teaching duetts quartetts & chorases for the conference programn.

Fri. Sept 17.

Studied and practised with the natives their parts for conference. (Ground covered with auping [?] shells at dusk)

Sat. Sept. 18

Had a sharp pain in my heart and back all day. I think probably it is from drinking the cocoanut water.

Sun. Sept. 19.

Attended four services. Assisted the teacher in the childens class. After church Mr Rossiter and I called on the gove[r]nor & his wife. She is a Mormon and although he isnt he comes to our meetings. A catholic man sent us a basket of eggs and three loaves of bread which certainly tasted good to us for it was the first bread we had had since leaving Papeete. The eggs were a welcome change from eating boiled rice and fish, twice every day.

Mon. Sept. 20.

Lay down most of the day, as that was the only way I could get relief from the pain in my heart & back. In the evening we held a singing practise with the people.

Tues. Sept 21.

Held a priesthood meeting at 9: am. & spent the day in practicing for our programn & study6. When Tehuihui, a cheerful faced native women of immense proportions came to practise her part, she gave me two beautifully matched pipi pearls. And a young native girl also gave two large ones to Mr. Rossiter.

Wed. Sept 22.

Attended our 7: am prayer meeting, and spent the day as usual with practise & study. In the evening Mr Rossiter called to see several families. Among them the Gov. & his wife who gave a great jar of apple jelly. From there we called to see Tehuihui, who to show her love for us, offered us her six months old baby girl. It is certainly a beautiful child, and if it were only white we would be more than glad to take it for our own.

Thurs. Sept 23.

Attended Relief Society meeting and conducted the singing practice in the evening.

Fri. Sept 24.

Went with some native women and children to gather cocoanuts which we carried home in baskets the women weaved from the cocoanut palm leaves. When I returned I went with Mr. Rossiter to take some medicine to the leading Catholic man of the island who was ill and had sent for us.

Sat. Sept 25.

Spent most of the day in study. Saw the first eels that I had ever seen. Some native fisherman carried them on poles on their shoulders. They were slick & slimy and have large vicious looking mouths. Some of them were at least six & seven feet in length.

Hikueru Sun. Sept 26.

Attended two meetings and Sunday School after which we called on the governors wife who was ill. Later we visited a Catholic & had a long gospel conversation with him, we didn’t seem to make much of an impression on him, but he treated us kindly and asked us to call again. Towards evening we took some medicine to the Governors wife and she was feeling much better so she asked me to sing for her. We sat just outside her room on the wide porch of the government house & it was not long until the whole population had gathered around from out of the darkness.

Mon. Sept 27.

Mr. Rossiter has been doctoring an old lady for a sore foot & this morning they are both sitting on the floor while he is bathing and poulticing it for here. She is a widow and the only companion that she has is a little brown pig that follows her every where she goes. Spent the day practicing and writing. In the evening we called on a few families and then conducted a song practise in the church. One of the old ladies, who has the face and bearing of a big Indian chief never sits on the benches in any of the meetings, but lies flat on her stomach on the floor during the entire service.

Tues. Sept 28.

After breakfast Mr Rossiter and I took a walk down to the other end of the island. And spent the rest of the day in study.

Hikueru. Wed. Sept. 29.

Attended prayer meeting at 7: am. Visited eleven families during the day. The weather is very cold and we went around with our coats on all day.

Thurs. Sept. 30.

Attended Relief Society meeting and spent the rest of the day practising with the people & study.

Fri. Oct 1st.

Studied most of the day. It was a dark stormy day and though we are just [blank] miles south of the equator it was so cold that we went around with our coats on all day.

Sat. Oct. 2nd.

Visited six families with Mr. Rossiter among them the Governor with whom we had a long gospel conversation. All day we strained our eyes looking for boats bringing people from other islands to Conference but to no avail. The wind and sea were so high as to make it almost impossible to travel safely in their small boats.

Sun. Oct. 3rd.

We commenced our Conference with only the Hikueru branch present, and every one on the island excepting four Catholics attending our meetings. Protestants, Josephites & Catholics came and were very attentive listeners. Between meeting called to see one of our Catholic friends who has been so kind in giving us food since we came here and had an interesting talk with him on the Origin of the Book of Mormon. When we left we left one with him to read.

Hikueru Mon. Oct. 4th 1915.

At 10: am and 2: pm we held two splendid meetings. Mr. Rossiter, Bro Pierson and two native brotheren were the speakers. At 7: pm we held a very interesting for open discussion were held. [sic]

Tues. Oct. 5th.

At 10: am we held another meeting Elder Davis & a native brother were the speakers. After meeting we called to see our Catholic friend again. At 2: pm we held our field sports and every one on the island assembled in front of the Governors house where the events were to take place. We had all sorts of races for the children up to the old gray haired women, tree climbing & jumping, races for the fat women, three leg[g]ed races sack races & etc. They lasted about two hours and we as well as the natives enjoyed every minute of it.

Wed. Oct. 6th.

The last day of our conference. We held a meeting at 10: am Bro Pierson and a native brother were the speakers. At the afternoon meeting, my husband, two native brothern, Bro Monk and myself were the speakers. I hadn’t any idea that I would be called on to speak, so wasn’t prepared to say anything, but when I got up I marveled how easily the words fell from my lips in the native tongue. Tears ran down the cheeks of many of the dear old ladies faces, and some of the young girls and middle aged men were wiping their eyes. I never remember feeling so lifted up as I did that afternoon. After the services where we were shaking hands almost every one present held onto mine and said “Mauruweu [?].” At 7: pm we held our concert, and even the four devout Catholics came and sat just outside the church door to listen to it. Following is the Programn of new songs that I had taught them.

1. Beautiful Day of Rest … All
2. Prayer … Eratrini
3. How Great the Wisdom and the Love … All
4. Jesus Once Was A Little Child … Children
5. Jesus I My Cross Have Taken … Venetta
6. Joseph Smith’s First Prayer … Missionaries
7. Recitation (This is the part they gave to me so I’ll begin the service) — Moe Aro
8. Kind Words Are Sweet Tones Of The Heart … Venetta & Hokori
9. In Our Lovely Deseret .. .Children
10. If There’s Sunshine In Your Heart … Missionaries
11. Utah We Love Thee … Venetta Te Mou, Te Huihui, Eravini and Eranetta
12. Concert Recitation … All
13. Tahitian Song … Hikueru Branch
14. Put Your Should To The Wheel … Missionaries
15. Tahitian Song … Hikueru Branch
16. Tahitian Song, Tiai Ai … All
17. Prayer … Te Maku

Thurs. Oct. 7th.

A terrifical[l]y hot day, not the slightest breeze stirring. Held the Relief Society Conference at the close of which the sisters presented me with a beautiful Tahitian patchwork quilt. Te Huihui the sister who made the presentation speech was so overwhelmed that the tears run down her face. I was equally touched by their efforts to show their appreciation of my visit. For as Te Huihui said in her speech I was the only lady missionary who had ever come to see them in their native land and they wanted to show me in a material way how they appreciated it, and to speak their great love for me. Each sister in the society had helped to make it. and It takes a great deal of time to make one and I cant begin to tell how I felt when I saw how much time they had spent making it for me. Mr. Rossiter and I both expressed our appreciation in a short speech. At 7: pm we held our regular Thursday evening singing class.

(To be continued)



  1. It’s about 1200 miles south of the equator, which shouldn’t have been that cold.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 5, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

  2. Oh Venus! I love love love this journal.
    Favorite ideas from today’s batch:

    The 10 commandments were given on Wednesday–

    About the offered child: “It is certainly a beautiful child, and if it were only white we would be more than glad to take it for our own.”

    The woman with the face and bearing of an Indian chief who lay flat on her stomach for meetings–

    Native women being taught to sing “Utah, we love thee”

    And the stories about experiencing the gift of tongues during her talk, and the beautiful quilt made for her by the Island women, are very sweet.

    Thanks again, Ardis, for posting these!

    Comment by Marilyn O. — May 5, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

  3. I love sharing Venus’s mission. It makes Sunday nights special. Thanks!

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — May 5, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

  4. Venus wrote a long letter to the Deseret News at about this point, telling the same events as we’ve read in the past two installments, but for public consumption rather than as a private record. I’ll post that in a day or two as a bonus for those who are enjoying her diary. I’m so glad to know that some of you like this so well!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 5, 2013 @ 11:57 pm

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