Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 29 October – 21 November 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 29 October – 21 November 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 19, 2013

(Previous installment)

Fri & Sat Oct 29 & 30.

Waited all morning for the natives to get every thing in readiness and were just about to leave, when Bro Otto Stocks arrived from Rikakiha saying that there was a large boat over at the over village that was going to Hoa so we made all haste to cross the lagoon in our little boat but arrived just about fifteen minutes too late for the ship was already several miles out at sea. We were quite dissapointed because we thought we were going to be able to save the natives from stopping their diving to take us to Hao. We slept that night in an empty store and early next morning we started back to the other village to get our captain but he had gone out diving. Pahoa & Tane went out to get him but his wife wouldnt let him come in and said we would have to wait until Monday to leave, so we settled ourselves for two days more stay at Marokau. During the day the Chinese storekeeper came and asked to be baptized, but we explained to him that it was first necessary to study & understand the principles of the Gospel before he could be baptized so he said he would come to our meetings & study to prepare himself for baptism. In the evening Mr Rossiter and I went for some rain water down at the other end of the village where we found a number of people talking together. We joined them and naturally the conversation changed to religion so we had an opportunity of explaining Mormonism to them.

Sun. Oct 31.

Assisted in the childrens class at Sunday School and spoke at the afternoon meeting. Mr. Rossiter blessed and named the baby of Timi Peviya half caste

Mon. Nov 1.

List of food given us during our two weeks stay at Marokau. 20cans of sardines, 9 salmon, 6 milk, 9 beef, 2 butter, 1 lard, 1 pineapple, 2 cabbage, 1 biscuits, 1 bottle vinegar, 1 Worchester sauce, 1 pepper 1 currie, 1 sack of salt, 2 chickens,1 pig, turtle, candy, 2 pies, and bread, fish and cocoanuts every day.

Mon. Nov. 1, 1915.

At 8. am we started out for the pass, with three boats full of the people going with us. Arriving there Bro Rossiter offered up a prayer before proceeding through. It is a very dangerous and narrow pass and as the wind was coming straight against us, the boat had towed out by fastening anchors into the rocks on either side and then drawing the boat up to them. It took us just three hours to get through and the native brothern certainly worked faithfully and hard to get us through safely. We were dashed and rocked about so by the roaring foaming waves coming through the pass that I got terribly sea sick from the start.

Tues. Nov. 2.

So sick that I was given sea water to drink occasionally by the natives to stop me from gagging and re[t]ching.

Hao. Wed.

Sighted land at 3. am and landed at Hao at 12:30 m. Most of our saints were on another part of the island making copra. The president of the branch happened to be there, and we were comfortably located in his house.

Hao. Thurs. Nov 4.

The San Francois arrived from Papeete and Bro Rossiter received a letter from Bro Orton, stating that Elder Compton and his wife from Ogden Utah had arrived at Papeete Oct. 25. also that Bro Albert Shaw was seeking a transfer from the First Presidency. Held a singing practise in the evening, but there were only a few people turned out, most of them young boys & girls. This branch has been very much neglected the past few years and consequently is in very poor condition and will require a great deal of work to get it into order again.

Hao. Fri. Nov. 5.

Am still sea sick from our short trip, but expect to be alright again by to-morrow. The mosquitoes are frightful here and the heat is so intense we can hardly breathe. The Catholic Priest do[es]n’t seem very glad to have us here as he passes the house several times a day, dressed in his long black gown and smoking his pipe and will not even condescend to turn his head in our direction. We were very much interested to-day when one of the natives received a message scratched on a cocoanut leaf, from one of the other islands that was carried in the mouth of a large black bird that looks something like a seagull.

Hao. Sat. Nov 6.

Today one of the old brothern and his wife are doing our washing together. They are sitting out on the ground pounding them with a club on a wooden box and splashing a little water on them now and again with their hands. They also take turns every other day sweeping our house out and making our beds. Their son Temauri, a boy about twenty years old, does our cooking and washes the dishes for us.

Hao. Sun. Nov 7, 1915

We held five meetings with the people. It had been so long since they hav[e] di[s]continued their meetings that the leaders seemed at a loss to know just how to conduct them. We had a fine turn out at all the meetings, Mormons, Josephites & Catholic, so I dont think it will be long before we get things in working order again because the people seem willing & anxious enough, but have just become negligent because they have been left alone without missionaries to keep them to-gether for such a longtime.

Mon. Oct. 8.

Spent the day visiting among the people & writing letters. We held a singing class at 7: pm, but it seemed difficult for the people to grasp the tunes.


Visited among the people & held class at 7: pm.

Wed. Oct 10.

Attended prayer meeting at 7: am and conducted gospel class at 7: pm. In the afternoon we moved our things into a little thatched house the natives had built from cocoanut palms for us. I had often wondered how it was that the natives built themselves nice large houses & then still lived in a little thatched house in the rear, but since moving into our little house and finding it so nice & cool in this hot climate, Im sure I cant blame them for staying in the “niau.”Our hut is long and low, located in a grove of cocoanut trees by the sea side, and built entirely, excepting a portion of the roof which is of tin, of woven cocoanut palm leaves. It has two rooms, and the dirt floors are covered with palm leaf mats.

Hao. Thurs. Oct 11.

We held a meeting with the Relief Society sisters, the first that had been held here for over a year, and had a very good turn out considering the condition of the branch, and the length of time since the last meeting. The sisters seemed glad to be organized again and appeared to be interested in our instruction. Kaipo the president of the branch and some of the other members left for another part of the island so my husband sent Elder Stocks with them, so as to make sure of their coming back again for Sunday. In the evening we conducted a singing practise.

Fri & Sat. Oct 12 & 13.

Were spent studying, conversing on the gospel and teaching songs to the young people. Also listening to & fixing up a few grievances for the people.

Hao. Sunday 14, 1915.

We held Priesthood, Sunday School and Preaching meeting in the morning and at noon Elder Stocks baptized three native children, Tepongi a Temaku, Tehoupu a Huri and Teamuamua a Farimata in the sea. A large crowd gathered down by the shore and before performing the ordinance we held a short baptismal service. At the afternoon meeting they were confirmed, Elders Rossiter, stocks and Kaipo officiating. At 7: pm we held a gospel class discussing the law of marriage and the evils of drinking liquor & smoking & chewing tobacco. At all of our meetings the church was filled with interested listeners of all creeds.

Hao. Mon. Nov 15, 1915.

Apparently our preaching against the use of tobac[c]o & liquors has aroused the ire of the local Catholic priest and in turn he is advocating their use from his pulpit, saying that they are food for the body. The fact is he cant say anything else, for he always has a pipe in his mouth and is almost always drunk. Sometimes he cant stand up to pray and once he fell down while ringing the church bell and couldnt rouse himself again to conduct mass. Our baptismal service yesterday gave him material for his sermon last night. He said that our baptism was fit only for the dogs, and didn’t do the children any more good than if we had tied a rope around their necks and threw them into the sea. He also said that if the Gov. General knew about such performances that we would be put into prison for two or three years for leaving their baptism until they were 8 yrs. old and immersing them.

Hao. Tues-Sat. Nov. 16-20.

The week was spent studying, visiting the saints, doctoring the sick and holding meetings. Mr. Rossiter cut a fish hook from a childs lip and made a pair of crutches for one of our members (Tefa) who has had a terrible growth in the bottom of his foot for two years and has not been able to move about. It has rained hard all week, so the natives have brought us an oil stove so that we wont have to cook out in the wet over the camp fire. Since moving into our thatched house we have been doing our own cooking. There are a great many sea crabs here and the natives catch us a nice mess about once a week. Every morning we buy nice brown fried cakes, about a foot long, from the Chinese storekeeper for five cents a piece.

Hao. Sun. Nov. 21, 1915

As usual we held five hall meeting[s] which were all very well attended, especially by the Josephite and Catholic friends we have made since coming here. Our own people are still a little backward but are gradually getting a little better. To-day Tepa, the brother for whom my husband made the crutches, got out to two of the meetings the first he had attended in two years. Mr. Rossiter carried a chair along so that he could sit down and rest every 30 yds because his body had become so weakened from the long period of inactivity, that he exertion caused him considerable pain. In this out of the way place the peoples dress is somewhat behind the times, most of the men come to church in overalls and an undershirt while probably one or two of them wear a coat. The women wear loose mother hubbard dresses with a parlu, or rather a cloth several yards long, wrapped around their body which serves as a chemise. While at their work the men wear just a bright colored breech cloth and the women a cloth wrapped around their bodies just under the arm that reaches to a little below the knees. The children wear little or nothing, and a few of the smaller ones run about naked. It is not an uncommon thing to see a woman with a child or dog on her lap hunting for lice and eating all she finds with great relish. Mosquitoes too are considered a great treat.

(To be continued)



  1. It is interesting that she calls the members of the Reorganized Church (Community of Christ) Josephites because of Joseph Smith III. I am sure they would have called her and the LDS missionaries Brighamites. Both terms have gone out of fashion today. The Community of Christ still has a large group of members in Tahiti today.

    Comment by Jeffery Johnson — May 19, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  2. Hooray! Uncle Otto is back!

    Comment by Iguacufalls — May 19, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  3. Picture of Ernest & Venus Rossiter

    Comment by David R — May 21, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

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