Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 11 January – 15 February 1918

Venus in Tahiti: 11 January – 15 February 1918

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 26, 2014

(Previous installment)

Fri. Jan. 11, 1918

Washed clothes. Called to see Martha, Terai & Madame Falco to show them the pictures of Marama & Margaret. Spent rest of day on mission paper. In the evening we all sat around playing Elder McCullough’s exelophone [sic] & singing native songs.

Sat. Jan. 12, 1918

Cleaned house & ironed & cooked.

Sun. Jan 13, 1918

Regular Sunday services. Elder Lee Benson talked in the afternoon meeting & Elder Burbidge translated for him.

Mon. Jan 14, 1918

Translated the song Joseph Smith’s First Prayer, What Prize Shall Be Your Reward & part of Love at Home into the Tahitian language.

Tues. Jan 15, 1918

Washed clothes in the morning. took some olive oil over to Stella who had the sore throat. Lena & Matilde called to ask me to their house for lunch Thursday afternoon.

Wed. Jan 16, 1918

Ironed clothes. The new elders took a lot of new pictures around headquarters. Called to see the princess who had fallen and dislocated her shoulder.

Thurs. Jan 17, 1918

Mrs. Falco & I went for luncheon down to her sisters house Matilde Drollet. The[y] have a beautiful tropical home, ferns palms poinsettas half hiding the house from view. We spent the afternoon singing & playing the victrola. After lunch Elders Orton & Burton came down with the camera & took some pictures. One of them in the “spoon holder,” a little summer built way up in the high branches of an immense scarlet flamboyant tree. They also invited me to go to the theatre in the evening but being a missionary I was oblidged to forego that pleasure.

Fri. Jan 18, 1918

A crowd of native saints came down from Takaroa and I was kept busy most of the day going shopping with them. Varo was having a pearl ring & a baroque pearl necklace made for Heia his new bride. Teipo and I went to buy materials for the Relief Society sisters to make patch work quilts.

Elders Burbidge & Heslop left on the “Heipoureoura” for Tubuai. At 7: pm we had a hineneraa & Elder McCullough accompanied them with the organ & bells. Mrs. Stewart sent me over a beautiful boquette of roses.

Sat. Jan 19, 1918

Nothing unusual. Mrs. Stewart called.

Sun. Jan 20, 1918

Had a large crowd at both meetings & took a picture of them all. The Elders went for a walk so Martha & Stella ran over for a while, then the Stewart children & later Madame Cabouriette & her two beautiful children & maid.

Mon Jan 21, 1918

Washed clothes. An immense English hospital ship arrived loaded with wounded New Zealand soldiers. All the houses in Papeete were thrown open to receive those who were able to come ashore. We entertained 6 and gave them all the fruit they could carry away. The[re] was one New Zealand Maori boy aboard who was a Mormon.

Tues. Jan 22, 1918

Ironed in the morning. Later called to see Martha & Tecopei who was staying with some people up on Toea hill.

Papeete, Jan 23, 1918

Had picture taken to send to S.L.C. for the Relief [Society] Magazine to be published in the “Gallery of Pres. of Stakes & Missions.” Took my sewing & went down to Terai’s to spend the afternoon. Teipo came over in the evening & we sat out on the porch & talked until 11: pm.

Thurs. Jan 24, ‘18

Felt miserable all day. had quite severe spell with my heart in the evening.

Fri. Jan 25

Felt a little better. Sat and sewed.

Sat. Jan 26

Worked on mission paper & called on Terai & Martha.

Sun. Jan 27, 1918

Held regular Sunday meetings. Had another attack with my heart in the evening. Terai put me to bed & rubbed me to assist the circulation for about an hour.

Mon. Jan 28

Washed. Elder Burton left on the Vahine Tahiti for Takaroa.

Tues. Jan 29

Tecoku and Madame Garbut spent the afternoon with me. Wrote letters & finished annual S.S. report.

Wed. Jan 30

The Moana arrived from New Zealand. Madame Cabouriette and I went down to see it come in. Called in to see Madame Falco on the way home.

Thurs. Jan 31, 1918

Finished my letters. Went down to wharf to see Moana leave for America.

Fri Feb. 1, 1918

Felt all morning that President was coming and prepared everything for him, and was not disappointed for he arrived about noon on the “France Autraile.”

Sat. Feb. 2, 1918

Cleaned house & mended. Held priesthood meeting at 3: pm.

Sun. Feb 3, 1918

Fast Sunday. After meeting Pres and I took a walk down to the wharf to see a “man of war” which was in port.

Mon. Feb. 4, 1918

Felt miserable all day, sat & mended.

Tues. Feb. 5, 1918

Went to the dentist. Called to see Madame Garbut and Terai. When I returned home found Hei waiting for me. We had a long talk in which she said she wanted to be baptized but was only waiting for her aged mother’s consent. Ran over to see Tetua and Mahiaa in their new house. Later Pres. and [I] went up on the hill and found Tecopu drinking and smoking with a half drunken crowd. She saw us coming and ran up on the mountain and hid. President told them they would have to vacate the place if he heard of their drinking again as they were living in Tooes house who is one of our native missionaries.

Wed. Feb 6, 1918

Ironed & mended. Martha brought us over some fig bananas. Enjoyed reading for several hours the reports of the Oct. semi-annual conference at Salt Lake.

Thurs. Feb 7, 1918

Folded papers all morning in the printing office. In the afternoon Elder Orton and I went to town to buy a supply of goods for Toriki, native missionary at Hickueru. Studied evening.

Fri. Feb 8, 1918

Went to dentist. Cooked & studied.

Sat. Feb. 9, 1918

Cleaned house. Held priesthood meeting at 3: pm, after which Pres and I went for a walk. Called to see Terai. Yesterday Pres. called to see the Governor to ask again if we could not teach school. Heretofore we had always been flatly refused, but this time, he said we might get a special permission in case we were able to find teachers who were able to read & write the French language.

Sun. Feb. 10, 1918

My 27th birthday. Pres gave me $15 to use as I wanted (which we had received as Xmas gifts from home). Held regular Sunday meetings. Had a fine children’s class in S.S. Hei remained and visited between S.S. and sacrament meeting.

Mon. Feb. 11, 1918

Washed clothes. Wrote letters to the Relief Societies of Takaroa & Hickueru. Went to the dentist and on the way home was caught in a down pour of rain so ran into Falco’s for shelter. When it had ceased a little Lena gave me her rain coat rubbers & umbrella and I went to town with a extra rain coat for Pres. who was waiting in town for it to stop raining. Held Tahitian class with new Elders.

Tues. Feb 12, 1918

The “Navua” arrived from America. First time since I have been in this mission that I have not received letters from the folks at home.

Wed. Feb 13, 1918

Taka’s little Tukura had a terribly swollen & running eye and I was kept busy running over & bathing it for her.

Thurs. Feb. 14, 1918

Bathed Tukura’s eye several times. It is much better to-day. I am giving my birthday dinner to-day instead of last Sunday. Pres went to market this morning and got a beef steak for which he paid $2.00 (Do you wonder that we only have meat on Xmas, New Years & birthdays). For dinner I had roast beef, gravy, sweet potatoes, green corn, cabbage, alligator pear, banana salad, apricot ice cream Y& pape haares to drink.

Called to see Teina, Mr Mervin’s native widow, but she was out at the cemetery. Mrs Edwards and her artist daughter called in the evening.

Fei Feb. 15, 1918

Went to the dentist and called on Daha, Martha, Mahia & Terai. Mrs Edwards ran over on an errand in the evening & I gave her two bottles of honey. Ern & I walked home with her.

Sat. Feb 16, 1918

Cleaned house and held priesthood meeting. Ern & I walked out in the evening. Hunted through stacks of old magazines for an article we wished to refer to in our mission paper.

(To be continued)



  1. I assume Elder McCullough’s xylophone was one of the small ones we used to play to elementary school?

    Comment by Gary Bergera — January 26, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  2. Joseph Soderborg, who has been ferreting out all kinds of interesting material relating to missionaries during WWI, has some references to another man, in New Zealand [? or Australia?] at this same time who carried with him a high quality professional performance xylophone and put on shows on shipboard and in the mission field. When I first saw this reference I thought it might be the same man stopping in Tahiti en route to or from that other mission field, but Elder McCulloch is a different man — so we have at least two Mormon xylophonists (I never typed that word before, I assure you!) in the South Pacific at the same time.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 26, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  3. Can you imagine having to lug around a performance-type xylophone? Must’ve come in its own carrying case, etc.?

    Comment by Gary Bergera — January 26, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  4. Must have. I’ve wondered if it didn’t come apart somehow, rather than being one huge fixed piece like a keyboard. But I haven’t tried to find out.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 26, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  5. I thought I’d quickly find the picture she mentioned, but it’s hard to read through those old RS Magazines fast. Too much interesting content.

    From March 1918:

    One of the most interesting yearly reports received by the General Secretary is that from the Tahitian Mission, where Venus R. Rossiter is in charge of Relief Society work…

    July 1918 has a four-page spread on the Tahitian Mission. Great pictures, including the one that Venus had taken on January 23.

    Comment by Amy T — January 26, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

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