Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 29 February – 24 March 1916

Venus in Tahiti: 29 February – 24 March 1916

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 23, 2013

(Previous installment)

Tues. Feb 29.

The “Gold Wasp” sailed in the pass at day break so we spent the morning writing letters to send off on her. After we had finished them we went around, visiting the saints. When we returned to the house we looked like we might be moving for we were so loaded down with things they had given us. Both of us had five strands of beads around our necks that reached almost to the ground, our heads were heavy with native shell heis (or bands) Each of us carried a basket of figs and a bowl of eggs, and tucked away in the corner of our handkerchiefs we had a pearl & several sekos. We also had a chicken and a promise of two native patch quilt. Most of the people of the village left for the interior to make copra. We now have the house to ourselves & a young native boy brings us fish every morning and washes our dishes for [us] and helps prepare our food.

At night we went down by the sea and sat on the sandy beach, with the few natives that were left in the village and sang & fished while we waited for a small sailing boat that was coming from Takpoto with Mapuhis Victrola and probably a letter from Elders Stephens & Compton.

Wed. March 1, 1916.

Sister & I spent a glorious day playing all of the records on the victrola.

Thurs, 2

Our Cook failed to come round so I had the meals to prepare. I also wrote several letters and attended Relief Society at 3. pm. In the evening Sister Compton and I took a walk and chatted a while with the few old ladies and children that were left in the village.

Fri. March 3.

Spent the morning mending clothes and Tepuhai an old lady who had brought us a basket of cocoanuts, sat for about an hour, holding my foot and stroking my leg. The saints brought us a can of butter, one of milk and some figs.

Sat. 4

Mended and wrote letters.

Sun Mar 5.

Attended five meetings and called to see one of our old ladies who had a lame back and wasn’t able to come to church. Her husband Kopatai gave me a handfull of shells and some iitas. I felt very miserable all day long.

Mon. Tues. Wed. 6-7-8.

I remained in bed all day having been slightly poisoned from eating poison fish. Wednesday Tupua sent me some native medicine and I felt much better.

Thurs. March 9.

I still felt quite miserable but got up and went to Relief Society meeting. Every Thursday the Governors wife brings a basket of figs to meeting for us.

Fri. Mar 10.

I had gotten pretty well over the effects of poisoning, but had taken a very severe cold. Several of the natives had taken cold too and we were kept busy running to them with medicine. We also took some medicine to Terava’s baby who had canker and a teething rash & fever.

Sat. March 11.

I spent the day sewing and studying. Mr. Owens a white man living on the Island, who runs a little picture show, sent an invitation for Mr Rossiter, Sister Compton and I to come.

Sun. March 12.

Attended four meetings and went down to see Teravas baby.

Mon. March 13.

I spent most of the day trying to compose a song for the completion of the new amusement hall “Tare Putuputuraa.” Mr Rossiter worked all day helping to put in the cement floor. We went to take some toothache medicine to a native boy, and when we arrived he was alone and sound asleep. We called to him but couldn’t waken him, so I commenced pulling his big toe that was sticking from out of the covering and soon had him wide awake and attended to his teeth. Towards evening Sister& I called on several families.

Tues. March 14.

Finished composing the song for the “Tare Putuputuraa” and went down to watch the men putting in the cement floor, afterwards going to see the Governors wife, Tukua, and over to Teravas where several young girls who were to be married to-morrow were putting the final finishing touches to their wedding gowns.

Wed. March 15.

Elders Stephens and Compton arrived from Takapoto about sunrise. At 7:30 am the bells were rung for the marriage ceremonies so every one on the island and those who had come from adjoining islands gathered at the Governors house where the ceremony was to be performed. There were six couples in all Tufariva and Tepoko, Thiote and Teata,Teramehagna and Tehiaruki, Emil and Faairi, Teniko and Teuru Parai, Tara and Kataka. The bridal couples, their parents and four witnesses each, formed a procession and marched six abreast led by the Island Marshall to the steps of the Governors house.

Pres. Rossiter offered a prayer after which the six ceremonies were performed, which consisted of simply reading the law, a few questions and answers and a clasp of the hand. The brides were a blaze of glory in their fancy gown, one was pale green satin trimmed with lace and blue ribbon. One a brilliant rose loaded with gold beads and flying ribbons, and the other four were very pretty white gowns over slips of blue, pink, rose and purple, and bedecked in numerous ribbon bows & streams in the same color. Each had a wax orange blossom wreath on her head, carried a boquet and had high heeled white slippers and satin bows on the toes. The grooms all wore long black broadcloth coats, white trousers & shoes and wore a[n] orange blossom buttonhole boquet. all of the parents and witnesses were in white as well as the Governor & the marshal

After each ceremony the bride put a hei of shells around our necks and one who didnt have any heis gave us each a dollar. Mr Rossiter then took a picture of the bridal party, and the newlyweds marched off to call at every house on the island, where they were treated to candy lemonade & ect.

Just as we were sitting down to supper the brides brought six bottles of soda water and a large boquet of flowers in a vase they had cut out of the large white core of a plant and set on the table. Later in the evening all of the young people came to the house to practise songs for conference. The natives usually have a large wedding feast, but Pres. Rossiter persuaded them to abandon it this time because many of the young men were expecting a call to the front, and the money usually expended for a feast could go towards keeping the women and children. Mapuhis wife, Ruita, with whom we are living told me today that she was not half Tahitian, as we had always thought but was a flood [full] blood Spaniard. Her father was the captain of a Spanish vessel and he always took his wife and family on his trips with him. During a stay in Tahiti his wife was taken ill and died and the children we[re] put in a Catholic boarding school, where they remained until they were grown up. Leaving the school Ruita married Mapuhi who is half English and Tahitian and came to Takaroa to live & the missionaries who have lived with them for many years have always naturally thought she was part Tahitian, with her raven eyes & hair and her dark olive skin.

Thurs, March 16, 1916.

Sister Compton and I were sitting in the dining [room] studying, when we heard a terrible shrieking and moaning and run to the front door to see Mapuhi carrying his young son Mauhunga in his arms with just a breach cloth on, and the whole village population following after him crying and carrying on frightfully. We thought surely he was dead but were told that he had been bitten by a shark while out spearing fish. They laid him on a mat in the shade of the trees and Pres. Rossiter and I proceeded to dress the wounds that were opened up on his limbs. At 3: pm we attended Relief society meeting.

Fri. March 17.

I spent the day studying and visiting among the saints.

Sat. March 8.

The saints were renovating the church ready for conference and they asked Sister and I to reupholster the pulpit, which we did in a bright red brocaded cloth. About noon a ship was sighted so I spent the remainder of the day writing letters.

Sun. March 19.

I attended the regular Sunday meetings as well as Sunday School and Mutual in which I conducted singing practice.

Mon. March 20.

Spent most of the day writing letters. Some new films had arrived on the Commodore and Mr. Owens sent an invitation for us to all come and see them.

Takaroa, Thurs March 21.

Spent the morning studying and mending and the afternoon visiting among the people. At 7: pm we held a gospel class.

Wed. March 22.

Studied & spent part of the day at the church selecting the different colors of paint for the church & amusement hall. At 7: pm conducted singing practice preparing music for conference.

Thurs. March 23.

Visited Heia and Tukua who were busy making new dresses & hats ready for conference. At 3: pm we attended Relief Society, after which I conducted a singing practice.

Fri. March 24.

Studied all morning. Also took some medicine to Turuas little boy and bandaged anothers sore hand. Took my work down to the meeting house where Pres. Rossiter was working and spent the afternoon.

(To be continued)


1 Comment »

  1. That first entry sounds like one of those just-about-perfect days that you remember for the rest of your life.

    Week after week this diary continues to be a fascinating portrait of missionary life. Thanks, Ardis, for typing it up for us.

    Comment by Amy T — June 23, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

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