Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 5 October – 17 October 1916

Venus in Tahiti: 5 October – 17 October 1916

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 01, 2013

(Previous installment)

Thurs. Oct.5. 1916.

Arrived at Hikueru at day break after a very pleasant voyage of 5 days and nights. Rode the breakers safely up over the coral wall & were carried to shore by the natives and after having din[n]er with the Gove[r]nor we crossed the lagoon on Mapuhis gasoline launch. On the way over we gathered up about two dozen divers and towed their canoes to the village. The Elders & natives were very glad to see us, because they had feared we wouldn’t get here in time for conference as the steamer was late. After shaking hands & exchanging greetings with them all, we were taken to our house where Elder Stocks was preparing supper. Our house is a little long, low thatched hut made of the cocoanut palm, has a dirt floor covered with native mats and at one end of it is a low platform which serves as our bed, it being partitioned off with a palm leave screen to make two sections one for us & the other for Elder Stocks. We also have a rude table, an oil stove that Maroaki let us have & several boxes which serve as chairs and cupboards. After supper we went to Relief Society testimony meeting.

Fri. Oct 6, 1916.

Our October conference commenced with Priesthood meeting at 7: am, general meetings at 10: am & 3: pm & Hikueru branch gave their programm at 7: pm.

Sat. Oct 7, 1916.

General meetings at 10: am & 3: pm & the Hao programm at night. had supper with Elder Touse up at the Taenga quarters. Collected $60 to help the French soldiers, & 180 for Rua a native missionary.

Sun. Oct 8, 1916.

Priesthood at 7: am, general meeting 10: am. Sunday School at 11: am. Baptism service at 12: m. at which I’ve children received the ordinance, Elder Wm Orton officiated. Sacrament meeting at 3: pm and at night the Takaroa program. After Sacrament meeting the Hikueru served us to a big chicken dinner in front of the Gove[r]nor’s house. Also had some English photographers who are here for the diving season take a picture outside of the church of the conference crowd.

Mon. Oct 9, 1916.

Held Relief Society conference at 10: am which lasted until after 1 O’clock. I presided and conducted giving the sisters instructions in the nature of the Relief Society work, also the care & governing of their children & properly clothing. Also read a report from the R.S. Magazine of the work done by the society through the world & the statistical & financial report for the year 1915. Many of the sisters shed tears when they bore their testimony. After meeting we took a picture of the gathering. Terava came and took all of our dirty clothes away to wash & Takahotu & Tehuihui made a nice green flowered chintz curtain for our house to curtain our sleeping platform (or bed) away from the rest of the room. Taenga class at 7: pm.

Tues. Oct 10, 1916.

Elder Stocks and I hold a class with the children every morning just after breakfast and after class to-day we took a picture of the children. Called to see Teriimana mar [?] in the afternoon and they gave us seven duck eggs. In visiting among the people to-day, I found several women making pants for their children following out the instruction of the Relief Society conference meeting. The water is very poor here, nothing but old hole-water which is not even pure after it is boiled, and on account of it there is a great deal of sickness among the people, among whom is Mrs Christensen the wife of the Josephite minister who has been lying at the point of death for three weeks with typhoid fever. There has also been a siege of measles among the people. So that I wouldn’t have to drink the hole water, the young boys have been carrying rain water from the next village about half a mile away & to-day one of the Saints brought me a large glass demijohn full from the city, ten miles away. Besides being a great deal of sickness among them, quite a number of the people have bad wounds & it takes Pres Rossiter almost until noon dressing them. Tufareiva has a terrible thumb that has been so irritated by his diving for shell that I am afraid it will have to be cut off, for the bone has already commenced to decay. Maehunga & Tehai both have a growth in their feet which Pres Rossiter had to cut out this morning.

Wed Oct 11, 1916

Every morning the bell rings before daylight and we all gather together for family (or fetii) prayers before starting out the new day. The two little blind girls from Takaroa are here and will hardly leave my side from morning until night. Kuraigno the woman who was insane is also here and comes to the house a great deal. She is sane again but is not quite herself & has a terrible craving for fine clothes & her husband has to buy everything she wants or she gets into a terrible passion. Sunday she had on a blue silk net dress embroidered in silver & gold thread, over a pink satin slip. She wanted to give me a gold ring, but I told her to put it back on her finger. Vaio brought me several pearls & a seko. Punua also gave me some pearls & a seko. The Elders are all so thoughtful. Fruit is a very rare article in these islands, and whenever an apple or an orange is given to them they bring it over to our house and insist that I eat it. The Josephite ministers wife is getting a little better but they will not receive any assistance from us in any way. She says she would rather die than let a Mormon help her. Today the Relief Society sisters are making a thatched bath house for us so that we wont have to use the same one the natives do anymore. Kuraingo brought us in several apples, oranges & a pineapple that had been shipped from Tahiti. Pres. Rossiter & Elder Stocks both had bad colds so I made them a strong ginger toddy & put their feet in a hot mustard bath.

Thurs. Oct. 12, 1916.

Went off to the Hikueru village to assist with the childrens morning class. Also went my usual rounds visiting the sick. Elders Davis & Orton came in and had din[n]er with us. Attended Relief Society & doctored Pres. & Elder Stocks up again before they went to bed.

Fri. Oct 13, 1916

Bro Stocks & Ern did not get up for 5: am prayer meeting as it was blowing & wet, and they both had very bad clothes [colds?] Conducted childrens class in the morning. Washed our handkerchiefs & hose, because the natives often lose them. Mended coats for Elders Davis & Stocks.

Elder Stocks received his release to return to Zion and it was surely a sad day for us all, for he was the most dearly loved Elder in the mission. At night all of the Elders who are here on the island gathered to our house and we had a farewell supper for him. He was presented with a can of boiled beef, a package of sea biscuits, a sack of rice & a small bottle of curry with instructions on it “to be eaten in America.” (They with fish, being our chief food in these Islands)

Sat Oct. 14, 1916.

As soon as it was early light the natives came streaming in with presents for Elder Stocks: Pearls, sekos, shells, heis, & coral, so many that they filled two large boxes. And at 8: am he Pres Rossiter and all of the Elders crossed the lagoon to the city in Mapuhi’s machine boat. I had to stay behind to take care of the house for we have several thousand dollars worth of pearls in our trunk for safekeeping, besides a large box full of tything money. I havent had a second by my self since I landed here, so while the Elders were all away I closed all the windows & doors to keep the flock of natives that are continually here, away for an hour or two, so that I can get a little writing done. Took medicine several times to Terava’s baby who is teething and rubbed Parais swollen limb with alcohol. Gave Teraia Taukahas snarly little head a dutch cut. Some of our Saints brought some tracts over to the house, that the Josephite minister had been distributing among them the past few nights after dark. They were headed “Plurality of Wives,” “Plurality of Gods” and another one of some made up statistics of the Mormons & Josephites. Kuraingo made me a present of a pretty new blue lawn dress & a new hat that she had made for me. Tingahai came with her, and she says if I will only just stay here always, she will buy all of my clothes and food, wait on me from hand to foot, do my washing and ironing & give me a house to live in. She is a big course [coarse] black native woman weighing over 200 lbs and is about as ugly as it is possible for a human being to be, but she has one of the largest hearts that was ever put in man

Sun Oct 15, 1916.

Attended morning service after which we gathered at the Gove[r]nors house and he talked to the people of being honest, paying the debts & keeping the word of wisdom. It was interesting to see our people whispering to the neighbors every few minutes – “That is just what our missionaries teach us.” After the speech Gov. Denis came out & shook hands with Pres. Rossiter and me. Also attended Sacrament meeting at 3: pm & Gospel Class at 7: pm.

Mon. Oct 16, 1916.

Held class with the children in the morning & they were so unruly that I sent them all home, and told them I would give them one more chance and if they were bad again tomorrow I would discontinue class. I hadn’t been home long when most of the children came up, and stood looking in longingly at the doors and windows (for they love their class even if they are unruly) and all day long they brought in little presents such as cocoanut shells, pearls, seko, etc. At 7: pm I conducted singing practice.

Tues. Oct 17, 1916.

Received a picture of Sister Compton & the baby which caused quite a consternation among the natives & the Elders as well. Elder Orton came down from the Hao quarters, several times during the [day] to get a peep at it. Never saw a better behaved class of children in my life than we had this morning. The larger children fairly held their breath when the small ones made a little noise, for fear I would carry out the threat made yesterday. To encourage them to be quiet in class I promised we would play games outside the days they were good. Attended Toae’s young peoples class in the evening. Was just preparing to goto bed at night when Kuraingo, the girl who was insane at Takaroa, came in and talked with me until midnight, until her husband came and took her away. She insisted on talking about her insanity, no matter how much I tried to change the subject, and she looked so strange out of her eyes at times that I almost felt frightened, because I was alone with her, Mr. Rossiter having been to sleep for two hours. I had no sooner gotten to bed and in a sound sleep than Toriki came for me to come and see his sick baby. It is a weak little thing and his wife simply will not do as I tell her, and had let it eat all day, and had gotten its stomache upset again and a high fever.

(To be continued)



  1. Seko? Perhaps sago? And no more trips to the dentist?

    Comment by Amy T — September 1, 2013 @ 11:40 am

  2. & put their feet in a hot mustard bath

    I have this picture in my mind of detached feet happily steaming in a little tub :-)

    Comment by Alison — September 1, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  3. It is nice to have Venus back. (I mean Sister Rossiter). I enjoy her a lot.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — September 1, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

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