February 10, 1939
Mother, Dad, and All,
Not once yet have I failed to write soon after I arrived in a new place of abode, and this time shall not be an exception, so here goes for a try at another letter. This time I won't call it a short one or a long because I don't know; it may be one or the other.
Before I take you for another trip around Tahaa, I'll try to give you a picture of where we are now. So, here goes:
We left Tahaa this morning at 4:00 A.M. on a little boat and came across the lagoon to this Island of Raiatea. It took an hour or better to come across, but when we arrived, it was still dark. Not having any definite place in mind to go, we sat around the wharf (just a couple of wharf rats,) waiting for daylight.
Then when the town woke up we found us a place to stay a month or so. We have us a "nice" (?) room in a quite nice home. In it we just have room for our four boxes around the walls, one bed, and a small table. Nevertheless it's not so bad. We rented it for the month at 25 French dollars per. (Equivalent to three American dollars.) ($1.50 apiece). We have access to a shower bath, very dim electric light (on the front porch,) and access to the campfire in the "kitchen" on which we are to do our own cooking and burning and experimenting.
Soon we will start our first trip and trudge around this Island. It is much larger than Tahaa, more people, and better roads... I hope.
Just to show how we are going to make it here... today for breakfast we ate a loaf of "fresh" (?) Chinaman bread, some jam and a can of meat. We hated to take time off from our straightening up of boxes, etc. to even do that. Then for dinner we had another loaf of bread, a kettle of rice, (cooked ourselves), some ginger tea, and avocado apiece, jam and five bananas, sugar and cream, or sugared cream. Don't get the idea we are just thinking of our stomachs. Shucks! We loaned a Book of Mormon, sold a ve'a subscription for a year, straightened up our things or in a simpler manner te hukavinuhaga o te hagahaga, e a ore ra e faaneheneheraa o te mau taehaa, and that along with a big piece of watermelon and a mango constituted our day.
Hukavinuhaga... pronounced Hukavinuhunga
Hagahaga... pronounced Hungahunga
Taehaa... pronounced Tyshaa. Some fun, eh?
This is the old Paumotian language; the e a ore ra etc. is Tahitian.
And now I am caught up with myself again and have time to write this letter. The ship just left for Papeete from here last night but she'll be back next Wednesday. I'll have this letter on the next one.
I received the Xmas mail you all wrote Xmas Eve last Jan. 25th. You've probably heard of that by now through Edith's letter.
Now let's go back into the last month a little ways. We made two trips around Tahaa, the second not very much more eventful than the first I wrote about. One thing I didn't like about it was the fact I had a boil on my knee and before we returned, it was very sore. The second trip was a very hard push. We made the trip in two days, traveling lighter, whereas the first trip took three days. When I speak of days I mean a good big fifteen hours each day.
Home Tuesday night, quite late, form the second trip and Wednesday we received the mail I spoke of earlier. Thursday I came down with a smacking old fever. She laid me low for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I began feeling a little alive again. The fever brought on three nice-sized boils on one knee, one down on the calf of my leg... on the muscle... and the fifth was on my wrist. The fever brought them or else they brought it... I'll never know, but I do know what "sore as a boil" means. Now I've put back a couple of kilos of flesh on my bones so I'm none the worse now.
Now let's go on the third trip: We start out on Monday morning. (I'll put this in future tense but it's really past... use your imagination, if possible, and you'll follow me through). The sky will be very dark and threatening rain any minute, but there isn't many more days we can spend here before going to Raiatea so... lets go! We shall take a valise apiece, and inside will be a peue mat, a mosquito net, change of pants, shirt and socks, plus extra tracts in case we need them. I'll wear my white shoes because the rubber soles will stand water better than new leather ones. They'll be unrecognizable when I get back but noa'tu.
(Now I'm going into prophecy, but this is still the way it happened.) The first house we shall stop at a man will be giving his woman a good bawling out. When he sees us he will be quite ashamed so, Elder Hunting, you will sell him a ve'a subscription to get rid of us. He'll take it without a word. (He really did.)
After delivering a few tracts here and there at different houses we shall sell a second sub. and I'll get his name on the dotted line. Then with a glance over the shoulder every once in awhile, we'll hurry on to get to a house before that deluge of water hits us. But before the rain comes we shall have passed a half dozen houses, delivered tracts, obtained one more sub. and then just as we arrive at the last house before a long stretch, of space between that and the next, the rain shall strike. Ten minutes of watching as pretty a waterfall as you ever saw and then we're on our way again. (Shucks! I'm going to put this in present tense so put on your rubbers 'cause here we go:) The grass is awfully wet but so what? So are our feet and pant legs and shoes so we're not hurt. Not long now before we'll arrive at the old man's house and he'll row us to the other side, thus saving us going clear around this horseshoe bay and getting tangled and lost in that jungle underbrush again.
Ah! At last we've arrived but there is now life around. Yep! A little girl. She informs us, "Papa is inland" so, now what? Nothing to do but go on to the jungle and an extra two hours of mud, or else go back to the last house and get the kids to take us over. We go back.
The man won't take money for the ride because his kid is the one taking us across. Ten minutes rowing and we arrive on the other side next to a house. Pay the kid a couple of francs for his trouble and we just make the house before another of those typical waterfalls break over our heads.
The woman of the house won't buy a sub. but she takes the tracts and gives us a vi (fruit) in return. By the time we eat that we are able to push on.
Now we're getting a little tired so we plug on each getting four more ve'a subs. and delivering tracts, getting in a good long discussion and showing pictures of the growth of the Church. Now it's getting close to dark and we have arrived at the old Reorganite's house in Murifenua. There we know we can spread our peue on his floor, crawl under the mosquito net and spend the night. But first we must show him the picture book and tell him the news.
Morning finds us stiff but on the trail at 6:00 A.M. Yesterday we each sold 5 ve'a subs and I delivered 76 tracts. We are surprised at our luck on ve'a and are going to "push" sales even harder today.
Noon passes and we're still going strong; four o'clock comes and we are just passing a place where we think a bunch of kids are and a woman calls, "Haven't you any ve'as ?" (meaning tracts.) When we see a woman, we naturally turn around so back we went. go.
Sure enough a ve'a sub. comes from her and also a vi. While this vi is being eaten, the big storm strikes. We go inside to wait its passing, but it rains and rains until the man comes home. He insists we eat supper now and forget about going on until tomorrow. O.K. The place looks clean, the people friendly, and those fried cakes look very tempting. So we eat a supper of fried cakes, scrambled young chicks, (or eggs) almost drink tea for hot water, but I tasted my mistake, and a can of sardines. Not half bad for two hungry travelers.
The last bed in the house is given us to sleep in and now we'll show them our pictures, (sowing the seed) have family prayer, (first time a native ever offered that,) and then we'll retire, having put nine vea subs. in homes and eighty tracts and Uela (Elder H.) having done just about the same. We are very satisfied with the eighteen subs for the day, three being three year ones. Pres. will be pleased.
Whew! Anyway, the third day we went on, got very good and muddy, wet, I sold 3 vea and gave 40 tracts, Uela 2 veas, & tracts, and in the afternoon we arrived home again.
Now there is one thing I must comment on. Not once in all the rain, etc. we passed through, or dodged, I mean, did we get wet. Of course our shoes and pant legs got very wet due to the grass and puddles, swamps we had to wade but every time rain started to fall on us we were just a few steps from a house. The third day we took another vaa ride for about fifteen minutes and we no sooner stepped off the canoe and reached a Chinaman store than it started to rain. Never have I seen the wind and rain smack anything so hard as that lagoon was smacked. We were just fortunate to have gotten off from it. It soon stopped and we waded over the mountain and arrived home without another drop hitting us, and then we had no sooner arrived in the house than the rain settled for the night. Sounds rather funny but it's true. The rainey season has really struck these last few days but today was much better. Saw the sun for the first time since last Saturday.
And that is the end of my tale. We would like to sock back at Tahaa once more before we leave but now it's uncertain. Time will tell. The prospects are very good there. In four or five years we may have a few converts. That's a native for you!
Well, it's nine thirty P.M. and we've been going since 3:30 A.M. this morning so I'm ready to call it a day. We'll write more later.
Wednesday, Feb. 15. We just returned late last night from our trip around Raiatea. I won't try to take you around this Island as I would be carrying you or you would be carrying me before we got very far. Anyway, today I am very tired, stiff, from the walk. If you take all the bad parts of the trip around Tahaa three times and roll them into one, you will have Raiatea. Between the devils devilment and the Lord's mercies, we find ourselves back having had two very big, tough, days but none the worse for it... except, I gotta cold! Never a dull moment. In two days I gave 135 tracts and sold 1 3 yr. ve'a sub.
The ship from Tahiti is due in today so I'll send this letter back on it. We received a very complimentary letter from Pres. in regards to our work here so we feel our efforts are being appreciated. Though we hardly expect to average our "convert per month" on these Protestant and Catholic Islands, we do hope we are opening the way for Elders after us. It takes a long time to change a native. Everybody, men and women, smoke, drink, etc. It's just in their blood and that will have to be stopped before many converts can be made. And try and convince them they should stop something they have done since they were kids. Well, we're trying.
I may have a few more pictures to send after while but at the present time I haven't been taking many. These are a few I've taken since coming out to the Leewards.
Well, I guess I'm through for this time. If we ever get a boat schedual out from Tahiti I'll know when to write again; anyway it won't be long. So, until next time,
Love to all, Dean
P.S. Dad, do you know Polly Calder Pope in Garden City? Sarah Adel Pope? This is Elder Hunting's mother. She is related to the Stocks and abut all the rest of the people in G.C.