Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 18 October – 7 November 1916

Venus in Tahiti: 18 October – 7 November 1916

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 15, 2013

(Previous installment)

Wed. Oct. 18, 1916.

My, but it is hard getting up every morning while the moon & stars are yet still shining. I hope before a few weeks have passed I will become accustomed to it. Held class at 10: am with the children. Monday was Erns & Elder Ortons birthday, but we were all so busy that we couldn’t celebrate, so to-day all of the Elders came to our house for dinner in their honor. We borrowed dishes from everyone in the neighborhood to get enough to eat from, for dishes are rare articles in a native household, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves, even though we were oblidged to take turns using the knives forks & spoons. Attended Toaes class at night.

Thurs. Oct 19, 1916

Held class in the morning with the children, afterwards going with them to gather firewood. The larger boys went pipi pearl diving, in the afternoon and gave what pearls they found to me. Mr. Christensen, the Josephite minister has been giving out tracts the past few nights after dark among our people, which said that we worshipped a plurality of Gods, among a lot of other falsehoods as is their usual custom to tell the people. Pres Rossiter told him if he wanted to give out truth he would come in the daytime but as he had only lies in his teachings he came in the night so that we couldn’t see him. The natives gathered like wild fire & they had quite a heated discussion but as the Relief Society were waiting at the church to commence their meeting they had to cut it short, and the Josephite minister taking advantage of the fact told the people that Pres. Rossiter couldn’t defend himself and had to run

Hikueru Fri Oct. 20, 1916

Went my usual morning rounds to the sick. Teaio a Temanaha apparently has been poisoned at the stomack, so I gave her a large bowl of sea water after which she threw up violently and felt much better after. Held regular morning class with the children. Visited during the afternoon at the Hao quarters. Temihou, Taipus wife gave me a beautiful seko that is almost like a pearl. Class at 7: pm

Sat. Oct 21, 1916

Felt miserable, lay down most of the day. Held Elders priesthood meeting in the afternoon. Every morning we gather together at the ringing of the bell while the stars and moon are still shining for family prayers. We also gather together for evening prayers.

Sun Oct 20, 1916

Held the usual Sunday meetings. Took charge of childrens class in S.S. At the evening gospel class we held open discussion on the Plurality of Gods and almost every one on the Island came. Even the Josephite minister himself hid in the dark outside so that he could hear what was said. The harder he fights us the more interested the people become and are more anxious to learn the truth.

Hikueru Monday, Oct 23, 1916

Lay down most of the day. To-night when the Josephite minister came down, one of the natives called out Pres. Rossiters name and he made a hasty retreat in the darkness.

Tues. Oct 24, 1916

Felt miserable all day however went with Elders Orton & Touse to see a poor paralized Chinaman & [one] of our young girls who is afflicted with fits. At night I gave Poia & Teata a Po hot foot baths. The hole water that we have to drink here is something terrible, and we cant impress upon the natives the necessity of boiling it and on account of it there is a great deal of cholera among the people. Rungivaros little girl is perhaps the sickest and is passing blood continually. There is also a great deal of whooping cough and measles among the children.

Wed. Oct 28

Stayed in bed all day. Pres. Rossiter taught my class & prepared the meals. The Relief Society sisters went pearl diving, the proceeds to go to their respective branches.

Thurs. Oct 26

It is gratifying to me in going among the people to see how much cleaner our Saints are than the other natives both in person & the surroundings, to see that they have their children properly clothed, while the others let theirs go naked. It makes me feel that my teachings are at least helping them a little in some respects. I also try to keep the children occupied at least part of the day to keep them out of mischief.

Hikueru, Fri. Oct. 27, 1916

Held class with children. Gathered firewood afterwards. Visited among Hoa & Takartoa people. Teriimana gave me a bag of eggs and a seko. Also called to see the paralized Chinaman. At night gave Poia a hot foot bath. While the people were diving, one of the natives coming up from the water said that he had seen a ghost swimming around under the water, and of course native like, they all stopped diving and came to shore frightened to death. At night class Pres. Rossiter talked on the difference between good & evil spirits and their works, trying to get the ghost idea out of their minds.

Sat. Oct 28, 1916

Childrens class at 7: am. Elders priesthood meeting at 10: am, after which the Elders went swimming, while I cleaned the house & yard & washed my hair. Made my daily visit to the sick, and took a few pictures. Vairao brought us a nice crab. We are living without purse and script, the native giving a stated number of shell each day for the support of the Elders. For us the Takaroa people having donated 1/2 ton of shell which amounts to about $100 to keep us during the four months of the diving season.

Hikueru Oct. 29, 1916

Conducted childrens class with Tekiihui & Kataka assisting. Attended 3 meetings. Visited among the Faaite saints and went with Pres Rossiter to call on Paia the head Josephite native missionary. We had a long discussion on the plurality of Gods & a large crowd gathered around to listen and before the end almost every one present was convinced to our point of view. While we were there, Teahiki came to tell us that Varos wife was in labor and wanted us to come down. She gave birth to a premature child and we were afraid it wasnt going to live but Toae, who waited on her finally got it to breathing freely. As soon as it was born the Catholic missionary was right there with his little bowl of water to baptize it in case it died, but Varo wouldn’t let him because he had let his wife have her own way with the first child and had it baptized into the Catholic church.

Mon. Oct 30, 1916

Varoa came rushing up to the house to go down & see his baby, but before we could get there it was dead, so we called the sisters in and they prepared it for burial. Did not hold singing practise at night.

Hikueru, Oct 31, 191[6]

Held the funeral at 6: am, so that the people could go diving, but very few of them went, as they still believe in the old tradition that if they dive the same day a person is buried the spirit will haunt them.

Wed. Nov. 1, 1916

Childrens class in the morning & gospel class at night. Lay down most of the day. Hands and feet are badly swollen and ache, and the large blue blood veins stand out on my body. Headache has been almost unendurable, for the last ten days.

Thurs. Nov 2, 1916

Pres Rossiter crossed over to the city, as we were expect[ing] the mail steamer, but it didn’t arrive. Taroa has been bleeding from the mouth since last Thursday and we thought it was coming from the lungs, but we have located two small holes in the roof of her mouth today, so we applied powdered alum to them and the flow has decreased a little. Commenced this week holding an Elders gospel class for an hour every morning, to discuss the questions that arise.

Fri. Nov 3, 1916

During the week, the Josephite minister had written several questions to some of our brothren, so we decided to put them before the people in evening class to be answered. The Josephites postponed their meeting to come to ours & were so badly dissapointed in the answers that when we asked their minister to get up and express his thought he tried to excuse himself in every way, but finally got up. While I was visiting among the people during the day Teato a Poo gave me a hat and some pearls & Nahongo gave me a hei for the hat. At midnight a young native man came to get Ern to hunt for his wife who had run off with another man, but they couldn’t locate her.

Sat. Nov. 4, 1916

Childrens class, Elders class & Priesthood meeting in the morning. Primary children cleaned our door yard. Chinese baker near us gave me a bag of cookies. About midnight were called to stop a fight between one of our men and his wife. He had given her a good thrashing and she had run to one of the neighbors to stay, by the time we got down there

Sun. Nov 5, 1916

Taught S.S. attended Fast meeting and morning meeting. The children of Hikueru branch had charge of the evening meeting. Kuraingo called in during the evening and brought me a large pearl.

Mon. Nov. 6, 1916

Steamer arrived. Pres Rossiter & Elder Davis crossed over to the city to meet Elder Burbidge, but he didnt not arrive on it. Conducted song practise at night & childrens class in the morning. Washed and bound Migaroroas foot, which she had cut on a broken bottle

Hikueru, Tues, Nov 7, 1916

It is a custom for the natives to sleep on the graves of their dead for about two weeks after they are buried. I don’t know what their reason is, wheather it is to show their love or to keep the ghost away. Every morning when we get up we see Varo and his wife lying over on the grave of their baby. Held class with the children and spent the rest of the day writing out their parts for their programm to be given in Sunday night m[eet]ing. I have been feeling very miserable for about three weeks and my heart has been bothering me considerable. I was nearly through writing my parts when [I] fell into sort of a faint and Pres. Rossiter & Elder Davis helped me to my bed.

(To be continued)



  1. Venus is back!

    Oh man. She was pretty sick, as were lots of other people. I keep expecting them to leave for America, so every new episode I look at the bottom first to see if this is the last one.

    Comment by Amy T — September 15, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

  2. I don’t know how long they stayed on this mission, but they went back and served 1941-1944 unless it was a different Ernest Rossiter in 1941.

    Comment by David R. — September 16, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  3. Same couple, David. I’m going to leave Amy wondering how long they served on this earlier mission, though!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 16, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  4. Speaking of wondering, why is it suddenly dark in the mornings when they get up? As close to the equator as Tahiti is, the length of their days wouldn’t vary much from one time of the year to another. And, if anything, the days would be slightly longer in November than in, say, July.

    Or did I miss something in an earlier installment of her journal. Had France imposed daylight saving time on her colonies, including Tahiti? It sort of sounds like the kind of thing the European powers would inflict upon their colonies, even though it made no sense.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 16, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

  5. Mark, they were getting up insanely early. In an earlier installment, Venus says “Every morning the bell rings before daylight and we all gather together for family (or fetii) prayers before starting out the new day.” I don’t know why they started so early, but I’m guessing it had less to do with formal clocks than with when the natives went pearl diving.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 16, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  6. In October, sunrise would have been around 5:30am and set around 6:00pm. Longest day, Dec 21, was 13 hours, shortest day, Jun 21, was about 11 hours.

    Comment by David R. — September 17, 2013 @ 10:44 am

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