Tahaa, Society Is.
January 15, 1939
Dear Mother, Dad, and All,
Once more I get to write a new name, designating my place of existence at this time. As far as I know now, it seems to be the best place I have yet been in. I can better tell more of that, however, a week from now.
Just a summary of what has happened since I closed the big letter to you: Elder Hunting and I left Papeete, heading West, Jan. 11 on board about 100 ton schooner. The next morning we awakened in sight of Huahine.
Our trip was uneventful; neither of us sick. The ship was so crowded we had just two feet of space for both of us to lay in. However, the space was long enough I could stretch my long frame without hanging over the rail. The only thing wrong with the trip was out heads were right next to the engine room's open hatch cover. The smoke and noise was terrific, but we took it.
Our arrival in Huahine was just a cold reception. We know only one couple on ship, and no one at all in H. I don't believe we said "Ia orana " to three people in the hour we were there.
We went ashore, bought a loaf of bread and can of meat and went back on ship to eat our breakfast.
Soon we left there and headed for the Island of Raiatea that could be seen in the distance. After three hours, we docked at a very pretty wharf inside the lagoon. Very pretty, indeed.
Almost the same reception was received there with the exception of one fellow who came aboard and talked a short while. He directed us and carried our hand-luggage to a hotel for us. Soon after, he left.
The "Hotel" was clean, roomy, and run by a cute little French gal. We went in, walked up to the bar and asked for a room. She took us upstairs, showed us the "bath" etc., told us the price for a night's stay, and went back to her work.
The next thing we had to do was hunt up the Fr. Governor and get his permission to stay and work this group of Islands, and also get his signature upon our passports. We were treated very nicely by him, given all rights we asked, and plainly told if we start any riots, we would be "kicked out" pronto. After all, Missionaries haven't been here for twenty some odd years, so I've learned since I wrote last. He doesn't know much about us then. After loaning him a Book of Mormon (Imagine) we left. The Book was in French so I hope he reads it.
We returned to our room and ate a lunch consisting of bread, fresh pineapple and sardines, which we prepared ourselves.
Just as we were settling down for a rest (we'd been going strong all day), through the friends we knew on ship, we learned a boat was leaving Raiatea for Tahaa, another large Island just across the lagoon a few miles, inside the same barrier reef. That was just the place we had in mind to start our activity upon so we once again hurriedly rushed things for departing.
We paid the gal the rent for the night which we weren't going to spend there. She was pleased and I guess she thought the Mormonis were regular guys after all. (They all know us; I don't know how, but they do.)
Arriving in Tahaa was much better. There are five "cities" on this Island so we sort of picked on this one called Poutoru.
Upon landing, we paid for our fare across and began looking around. Once again the couple we knew on ship came to our rescue. His relatives lived very close to the small dock and it was there we, with our two big boxes apiece, were taken. This all happened Thurs.
Thursday night a Protestant came to get us and take us to stay in his house. The other people were quite crowded so we came here. Our boxes were placed in a room of their house, however, so that was a worry taken care of.
This Protestant left his Church not very long ago. (I'm going to stop now on this description and ask you this question... do you see how everything has been opened for us? These "breaks" just haven't "happened".) I don't know whether he took us in because of his anger at his Church or what, but whatever it is it has been for our good. The way has surely opened for us.
His home is very pretty. Just he and his wife and two "adopted" kids live here, and they have certainly made it nice. We have been given complete use of the upstairs part... two bedrooms (two big double beds in each completely made up, with mosquito curtains too.) and one long "sun-porch" I might say. It's all windows, and a perfect ideal place for study, work, etc. There is a table, lamp, two chairs, and four lounging, single, couches. Neat and clean as anything. He said it is ours as long as we are here.
They insist on cooking for us and won't even allow us to buy food or help with the dishes either. It's unbelievable.
That has been the way of it up to the present time... Sunday. We aren't going to hold a meeting today, thinking it wiser to let this Sunday go. The natives have to be handled just right and we certainly are keeping their curiosity aroused; just what we want. Each day someone new calls on us and gradually we are making friends. Next Sunday will probably see a good crowd out if we hold meeting.
I say "if" because here is the work planned, starting tomorrow: early in the morning we are taking our valise loaded with tracts and Tahitian "literature", and our blankets, and starting on a trip around the Island. We hope to start one way and come back the other, having completely encircled the Island. We have no idea of roads (trails) or what the people are like so it will be a new adventure. If possible we plan on having made the trip and back here by next Saturday. There are about two thousand people all told scattered around the shore line and one or two places interior so we want to contact them all.
Our tracts are on this order... the first trip will be to leave a printed list of what we believe "The Articles of Faith" with references on back. The next tract deals with lessons of No 1 – 2 – 3 & 4 in one little booklet dealing on the first article of Faith. The next trip around will be four more lessons in literature form, of course, on the 2nd A. of F. Etc. and Etc. until we have covered it good. We hope to stay here maybe six weeks and then crack back at Raiatea. Of course this is put down the way we have it planned out now, but when I return next week I may have something else.
So, now until we return from the walk, I'll leave off here. Wish us luck. I can send a letter in to Tahiti any week so I'll keep this a week or two as the boat for the States doesn't leave for quite some time yet.
Thursday, January 19. Home once again after a speeding trip around the Island. We got away Monday morning and arrived here last night after dark, two worn-out, dirty, sweat-grimed, hungry boys.
Just a short synopsis of what happened: Monday morning we left, each carrying a valise and between us our peue with a little food, mosquito net, change of clothes, etc. in it. Our valises held tracts, books, cleaning-up outfits, etc.
A mile out of this little berg we got a taste of the type of trails we were to follow. Wade mud holes, over one log stretched across a stream of grimy water, into the ocean edge, over mountains, rocks, etc; everything to make a trip interesting but unpleasant.
Houses were few and far between in most sections outside of the "cities". We hunted out each one. If there wasn't a visible trail to the house, we made one.
We kept pushing steadily on and encouraged by the fact we were covering a lot of ground regardless of the weight of our packs. The first day we each gave out forty-seven tracts and I sold one subscription to our ve'a (newspaper).
Dark came upon us before we had found a place to stay so we had to keep going. Soon after we reached a place and asked where we might find a place to stay. The fellow took un down the road another mile to an old fellow's place. There we were allowed to spread our bed on the floor and we just fell into it. Our peue mat was what we slept on and as we hadn't brought blankets due to weight, we used the mosquito net for a covering. Plenty tired. In the morning we were stiff as stiff, but after eating a half loaf of bread the old fellow had bought for us and some bananas, we pushed on.
The second day we each gave out thirty-three tracts and each sold a ve'a subscription for the year. The going was tougher still than the day before but we still covered a lot of ground. Of course along with all this we have our little experiences of trying to give people something on Mormonism when half of them don't care a whoop. However, every tract has been accepted except by those who can't read. One out of two won't take it until they ask, "how much is it?" and then are surprised when they find we are trying to give them away.
The 2nd night found us without any place to stay so we slept on the ground with only the mosquito net and our sweat-dampened clothes for covering. A little uncomfortable, but shucks, I reckon we can take it.
The third morning we were stiff plenty but once again kept on. The next house we stopped at, we were given two glasses of water and two fried dough cakes. That food lasted us until sundown.
During the day we really found the going tough. I was wearing white gummed-soled shoes, but to see any resemblance of white and find the sole was impossible. Mud, mud & more mud. While crossing one single slippery log stretched across a dirty stream, Elder Hunting slipped and in he went. After he got out, I tried it. Believe me, when I reached the other side safely I was plenty glad. I would have ruined my kodak, watch etc. if I'd have slipped. But we were still going.
Then after a hard afternoon spurt we cut up over the mountain and an hour after dark landed here, having delivered only 30 tracts apiece and sold two ve'a sub.
Today is Thursday and Monday we start the same trip again... I hope we're rested. However we are certainly wiser. Next time we will be traveling very much lighter which will help plenty.
We certainly ran into lots of disease known as elephantisis. A person's leg, or arm or wherever he has it swells up twice to normal size, and I bet it's an awful thing to have. There were no less than fifteen cases we met and talked with... for only a minute. Believe me, we are careful of what we eat, where we stop, to keep our hands washed good, and any other precaution from it. It's haunting. Well, that's a fair summary of what we'll put up with for a few months. (The Tuomotus were heaven to this.) But we always have a very nice place to return to for rest and we are willing to do the work before us without shirking.
Don't worry a bit over our well-fare 'cause we know now a little more how to handle the conditions before us. Each time will give us more friends and we'll be better taken care of than the first strangers we were this last time.
Now I'll close and get this letter sent over to Headquarters soon. I'll write again soon and let you know we are still alright and enjoying life plenty. We have all the bananas, oranges, vis, melons and other fruit we want. Who couldn't enjoy it here?
O.K. Until later, Love, As ever, Dean.