June 20, 1938
Dear Mom, Dad, and All,
Say! I seem to be getting off quite a number of letters to you without getting any in return. This letter probably wasn't expected by you, but it is just a good example of how irregular the mail runs here. We learned a few days ago that a boat will stop here on the 8th of July (or 6th maybe) to pick up mail for the States. Well, here is the result.
I'll bet you're wondering what I am still doing in Tahiti? Well, we have just had to wait until two Senior Elders could come up from Tubuoi, and island a few hundred miles south of here. These two Elders were to take two of us on up into the Tuamotu Islands with them. They arrived about four days ago. Since then it has been just one big suspense of waiting for assignments. And today the news came out! Elder Benson and Elder Devy (Sen. Companion) are to take the other side of this Island and tract it. Elder McEntire and Elder Heusser (Sen. Companion) are to go up into the Tuomotus to an Island called Takarava. Then that leaves one Elder without any senior companion. Me! My assignment is to leave Wednesday, today being Monday, for Makemo, an Island also in the Tuomotu group.
One of us had to take the toughest assignment of traveling alone, and Elder Palmer seemed to feel I was most capable so I was picked. This trip means ten or twelve days on the water in a 50 ton boat. If it went directly there it would only be a short while, but it takes a roundabout route, hitting other Islands on the way. I will be traveling "alone" in this respect: No other person aboard speaks English, and no other white person aboard. I feel as though I can take it though. My faith is pretty strong. My sole companions will be my Bible, Book of Mormon, and Grammar book. They will see plenty of use.
The Island is quite a cheap place to live I am told. The natives do most everything for the Elders. Oh! Yes! I better tell the rest of the tale. After arriving in Makemo I am to meet Elders Machen and Chugg. My message will be to send Elder Chugg back to Tahiti to be Pres. Stevens' secretary. That leaves Elder Machen as my companion. He is only 22 yrs. old, but I'll tell more him next letter.
Now I'll tell a little about myself. (as if I haven't been.) My health is very good. The climate agrees with me perfectly, I sleep good, and as for eating heartily, I can't be beat. My weight still is around 155 lbs. Just for example of food down here, here is our menu for yesterday's Sunday dinner. Sweet Potatoes, avocados, chicken (2), chicken gravy and noodles, lettuce, radishes, water cress, spinach, ice water and limes equalling limeade, bananas, string beans, and bread and butter. For dessert we finished up with ice cream, made from fresh oranges, and cake. This is merely one meal. For other foods we have macaroni & cheese, popoi , bread-fruit, cross between oranges & grapefruit, water melon, canteloupes, peanuts, green corn on cob, fish, coconuts, etc. I really could go on naming for a long time. Food costs next to nothing too. Say, Dad! Pack up and take your trip this summer down here. We can all live cheap!
Now for the expenses: By the time I get away from this Island, everything settled for... clothes, boxes, police tax, boat fare to Makemo, medicines, (which reminds me... can you send a small bottle of aspirins somehow? I really need them, but not for myself.) board bill, and few other things, I will have about four or five hundred francs left maybe a couple hundred more. From now on I expect to live much cheaper as I won't have anything more to buy that I need. If I have 500 F it means about $15.00 left. That is not so bad, do you think? For everything.
In Church so far I have prayed three times, one English talk, read one Tahitian speech, administered Sac., passed Sac., sang duet with Ray twice, quartet singing twice. That takes care of what part in Church I have taken so far besides attending fifteen meetings and one farewell party.
During the day I have studied, worked, walked around admiring scenery, bicycled quite a number of miles, and held discussions with other Elders.
Each morning following breakfast the five or seven of us have held a two hour Gospel discussion, taking turns giving lesson and special topics.
After dinner we have generally had a two hour Grammar study. This language isn't very easy now, but in time I hope to get it fairly well.
Tonite for supper a "Chink", the fellow that made our suits, brought over some real Chinese Chop Suey. It had just about everything in it and still it tasted very good. We could imagine quite a number of things he might have put into it. I surely ate my fill of it. Very much like Chowmaigne (or something).
The temperature never goes above 85°... that is, I haven't been in any heat even that hot yet. Of course it is winter down here now. We sleep every night with just a light cover, but some nights out of the week we use blankets. A few days, once in a while, we shut the door to keep the kitchen warm so we may not get chilly while eating. I was never so guilty of pulling covers as I have been lately. Ray and I really have a tussle in order to keep warm.
The water that runs out of the taps in the kitchen is cooler and just as good as the water at home in summer time. We also have an electric refrigerator so we have all the ice cubes we want.
Next letter will sound different. We won't have these conveniences on the other Islands. Nor the food either.
I was told that a boat comes to Makemo about every three or four weeks, so I'll send a letter back here for you every boat. Then the President will see that it gets on the next ship that leaves for the States. This letter I shall leave with Dena Palmer (Elder Palmer) to mail next ship.
If "Pres" Palmer goes through Ogden on his way home, I shall send my watch to you by him. I don't use it here, and I have it packed in cotton in my trunk, stored in the attic. It is safe enough, but I would feel safer if it were home under your care, Mother.
Dad, don't think I won't (didn't, by time you read this) think of you on your Birthday. You know I wish you the best wishes possible. Don't think your son doesn't think the world of you. You know I do. I'll do my best just for you, and for the many things you have done for me.
These few pictures are some of the scenes around here. Each one will explain itself, I think, with what I've written on back of it.
I really should write Vern and Fern a letter, but I don't know just how to reach them. Will just North Ogden do it? If so, tell them if they will read this one this time, I will write them as soon as I hear definitely whether that is their address or not. What I say here applies to them as well as everyone. Be sure everyone reads this, Mom; I can see I won't be able to write to all I would like to.
Another thing. I would like to remember everyone with a little gift or something on his or her birthday or Christmas, etc. but it's just impossible. You all understand. If I get a chance, I can send some little thing home by an Elder, but as for mailing, it is hard to do. Even coconuts aren't as easy as I expected. They run about 75¢ just to mail it. Not even worthwhile. I'll bring some home at another time.
Now how is everyone there? Each time you write, write about yourselves, and each time I write I'll do the same and in that way everything is just right.
As yet I haven't felt a bit homesick. Haven't time for that. Lots of work is surely a good cure.
And with that, I shall close once again. This letter isn't much, but it may be what you would like to hear.
May you be blessed at all times. Keep a steady correspondence and I shall do the same.
P.S. I don't expect a letter from home until July sometime now. There is a boat due here on the 28th, a few days after I leave for my Island. It better have mail.
P.P.S. Be sure to save all pictures. I haven't any more, and I would surely hate to not have them when I return.
June 22, 1938
Just another few lines before I close for good. This morning during Elder's Meeting the announcement was given out that my assignment had been changed. Instead of going to Makemo as I had expected I am to go to Takaroa.
Just a little about Takaroa. It is really the best place to go. There, is located the largest branch, best Chapel, most people, and nicest place. I was very pleased to receive it.
However, there is one little catch to it. My companion, whom I will meet there, will be Elder Wilde. He is the oldest and shortest fellow in Mission. About 30 years old and five feet a few (3 maybe 4) inches tall. (Don't compare him with Elder Wilde that came here with Wiley Miller a short time ago.) I am the youngest & tallest, so see the combination. These fellows here surely want a picture sent to them.
I shall leave tomorrow on the same boat. However I will only be on water three maybe four days. Maybe Bro. Compston can tell you about that Island.
And with that information, I shall close again. Don't worry over me.
P.S. You might send me a small roll of the newspapers if you will. Sports, news, etc. No funnies. Today we listened to the Joe Louis Max Schmeling fight. Wow! What a disappointment. We get KSL plain every night & California stations good in daytime.
This is just a souvenir sent to you from Papeete. It is inexpensive down here, but is really supposed to be Chinese Silk. A few of us bought one each to send home. I think it will make a nice front room small table cover.
From time to time I may be able to send things like this home by Elders that are returning.