Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 8 October – 28 October 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 8 October – 28 October 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 12, 2013

(Previous installment)

Fri Oct. 8th.

Today we feel as though we could relax a little after our pleasant and successful conference. Although we held it with the Hikueru branch alone, because none of the other branches were able to get here on account of the extremely rough sea we had had for the past week, we felt as though we were very well repaid for our efforts in coming so far to attend it. We had expected to be able to leave as soon as Conference was over in some of the boats that came from other islands but as none came, we haven’t the slightest idea when we shall be able to get away from here, it may be a few days & it may be several months The people have been very kind to us. Every day they have brought us fish and young cocoanuts to drink, washed and ironed all of our clothes and given us all sorts of canned goods, fresh pork and chicken. Te Dimana Sue our catholic friend has sent us fresh bread twice every week, and from his tiny enclosed garden which he had made with soil carried all the way from Tahiti, he has sent us ripe figs and iitas and occasionally a few fresh eggs. The children have done their part too, keeping us supplied in water and firewood. Today they have put a soft white blanket of sand all around our house which they carried on their backs up from the sea.

Sat. Oct 9. 1915.

Spent the day in study & preparing for Sunday,.

Sun. Oct 10.

We observed Fast Sunday, having postponed it one week on account of conference. Bore my testimony in Tahitian. After meeting we all went to the Gove[r]nors house where we had been invited to dinner. Dinner was served from a long table in the “official chamber” covered with a spotless clean white table cloth, with napkins to match. First course consisted of chicken, green peas, string beans, delicious chicken gravy and real white mans bread. Next course was fresh roast dog, followed by iitas and pape haare. I ate just enough of the dog to to [be] able to say I had eaten dog meat.

Mon. Oct 11.

Studied all day and conducted a singing class at 7: pm.

Tues. Oct 12.

Studied most of the day.

Wed. Oct 13.

Attended prayer meeting at 6:30 am. There were not many present because most of the people had gone out into the lagoon to spear fish because an exceptionally large s[c]hool had been caught in the trap. After breakfast we went down to see the people gather in their big catch. There were thousands of them all of the same specie[s], so many that every one im the village had all that they could consume that day, & several boxes each to dry for future use. One man caught two devil fish. They look like are a soft slimy shinning mass with large eyes and have six or seven long flimsy feelers or tails.

Thurs. Oct 14.

Studied most of [the] day and attended Relief Society meeting at 3: pm and singing practice at 7: pm.


Studied and wrote letters. Strained my eyes all day for a boat.


We were all standing around and wondering whether a boat would come today or not when we heard the natives cheer and call out “Sails” and looking out on the horizon we sighted the white mast of an approaching vessel. It soon proved to be a two mast schooner bound for Mangerevia [?] and as it was going to call at Marukau we decided to go, thinking probably we might have a better chance of getting a boat back to Papeete there than at Hikueru. We immediately made preparations to leave and the natives came pouring in with presents, shells, beads, pearls seko, any also filled two large baskets with papa haare for us. down at the reef we all sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” and with tears & prolonged hand shakes we bid our friends at Hikueru “au revoir.” The distance from Hikueru to Marukau is only 40 miles and we expected to arrive early the next morning but on account of having struck a calm we didn’t arrive until Monday morning. You cant imagine how aggrevating [sic] it is to be in sight of land for a day and a half and not be able to land, especially when one is sea sick.

Mon. Oct 18.

We landed at Marukau in the pouring rain. It was a Catholic village, and we were taken to an empty store that belonged to one of our people, where we prepared breakfast and arranged our affairs, expecting to remain there for several days until we should betaken to the Mormon village10 miles across the lagoon. Happily for us, the rain cleared away and one of the natives decided to leave that day, so we prepared to leave again and in three hours time we sailed across the lagoon on a little skipper. Another small boat passed us on the way, and by the time we arrived everyone was down to meet us, and it didnt take them long to vacate the president of the branch’s house for us, carry water for us to bathe, and bring a large box of food for us. After supper all the natives gathered around and sat on the ground in the moonlight, conversing and singing until we told them it was time to go. We retired for the night to our bed on the floor, hanging a blanket for a partition, Mr. Rossiter and I sleeping on one side and Elder Pierson on the other.

Tues. Oct 19.

After preparing breakfast we walked around to see the village and inspect our new meeting house which was being built by Marawaki, who had come on a special mission from Takaroa for that purpose. We had a long conversation with the three Chinese who keep the store here, and when we left they gave us a large bag of candy. Later we visited and conversed on the gospel with some Josephite people, and with the president of the Relief Society who lived in a very pretty spot on the outskirts of the village. In the evening we held a meeting in our house which was crowded to overflowing. Held a meeting at 7: pm

Wed. Oct 20.

Attended prayer meeting at 7: am. Mr Rossiter was the speaker, commenting [commending] the people of Marakau on the diligence in building their new chapel when there were so few people in the branch. This being the diving season, the saints all decided to give the pearl gathered on this day of the week to help pay for the new church-house. The old meeting house is a little thatched affair, and the people sit on woven mats on the ground. At 7: pm we held another meeting with the people.

Thurs. Oct 21.

It was a terrifically hot day, and we fairly roasted in our little tin house which is built on an [sic] clearing without any shade around it. The heat was so intense that it burned our skin when we went into it. We hate to see the sun come up in the morning and are glad to see it go down in the evening. We do our cooking over an old iron steering wheel, that the brothern have put just out side of our door. In the afternoon we visited several families and held meeting in the little church at 7: pm.

Fri. Oct 22.

It is raining & cloudy today and we are certainly thankful for a little relief from the heart of the sun, even though we do have to do our cooking out in the pouring rain. Held a class with the people in the evening and in the afternoon taught the children some songs.

Sat. Oct 23.

Spent the day visiting with the people, & showing them my pictures. They gaze for hours at a time at them especially the pictures of my fathers house, which seems to interest them most of all. Taha gave me a beautiful white pearl with some other trinkets. At midnight the Governors wife came to our house with a pain in her hand and Mr Rossiter gave her a dose of olive oil and rubbed her hand with warm oil for about half an hour.

Sun. Oct 24.

Attended five meetings. We reorganized the S.S. and Relief Society and set the officers apart. I helped the Kapoti sister with the childrens class & Mr. Rossiter the older class. We also took a picture of the branch & church.

Mon. Oct 25.

The house was crowded as soon as we were up and after breakfast we all went to see an immense turtle that had been caught. It was large enough for us to each have a ride on its back, but it was rather hard to stand on because of its jerky movement. When it was killed they put it on a pile of hot rocks to scorch the under shell so that it could be peeled off in order to cut it up, and dealt out in equal portions to each family. Not a scrap was wasted but the hard shell and the contents of the intestines. The head, tail, feet, blood & intestines were used for making soup, which was divided equally, as were the eggs and steak. There were two large buckets of eggs in this turtle, and the natives judged it to be about ten years old. We were given our portion and the steak was like a fine s[i]rloin steak. The eggs taste something like a hens egg and we made fried cakes with what was given to us. At 7: pm we held a singing practise.

Tues. Oct 26.

Studied and visited with the people. Held meeting at 7: pm.

Wed. Oct 27.

Attended prayer meeting at 7: am & class at 7: pm.

Thurs. Oct 28.

Attended Relief Society meeting and singing practise. Also prepared to leave the next day for Hoa having secured the use of a small boat and some native brothren to take us.



  1. It appears that the island to which the boat was sailing was Mangareva, which is 400 or 500 miles southeast of Hikueru–in the general direction of Pitcairn Island, home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers.

    That’s almost opposite the direction they wanted to go–back home to Papeete on Tahiti. But, as Venus said, maybe they’ll have better luck catching a ride back to Tahiti from Marukau than from Hikueru.

    If it’s amazing that the church had sent missionaries to those tiny flyspecks of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it’s even more remarkable that Reorganized Church was doing it!

    Comment by Mark B. — May 12, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  2. re: Reorganized Church. They really did have a pretty good presence in French Polynesia especially in the Tuamotu islands. I flew to one of these islands to conduct some business for my mission president and was to leave a couple of days later. When my companion and I were catching the plane back to Papeete, the Branch Relief Society president for the Reorganized LDS Church met me and asked me to take some money back to their mission office in Papeete for a monument to be built in Independence MO. I pointed to their own sister missionaries that were going to be on the plane also and asked why they couldn’t take the money. She said, “I don’t trust them, I trust you”. Also the expression on the face of the Reorganized LDS Mission President was priceless when I gave him the money from his RS President on that island.

    Comment by David R — May 15, 2013 @ 10:23 am

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