March 9, 1939
Dear Mother, Dad and all,
This may be the last chance I'll have to send a letter before the month of May according to reports from Tahiti, and as "Potii " will be returning to Tahiti tomorrow, I'll dash off this little note to you. We are expecting a mailboat to get to Tahiti on the 14th but I hardly think I'll take the chance of waiting until I receive that mail before writing because it's too much of a chance to miss the ship leaving on the 20th for the states. Anyway, because of the way our work is planned, we will be leaving again for Tahaa soon to work there again for a month. All in all it's best to write now and if possible, write again when mail does come.
I received mail on the 22nd of Feb... 1 Vern and Fern, 2 Mother and Dad and Rema, 1 Grandmother A. and an Xmas present from Verb and Clare. Was indeed sorry to hear of Uncle Orville's accident... rather made me feel funny, being way down here and something like that happening. I've been wanting to write them a letter but I can't seem to find words. I may do it yet before long if possible. Surely a hard type of letter to write.
Shucks! you know I'm gettin' kinda worried. A junior Elder came out last week and Elder Hunting is to leave as soon as Pres. calls for him. That means my Senior Elder duties are soon to start and darned if I can see any honor in it. I have been looking forward to the day I could be a senior but after all, by cracky, it is great to have someone close by that you can turn to and say, "What's he talking about", or "What did he say?", or "What are the plans now?", etc. I'll soon have to be answering (as best I can) all these questions. I've been warned that my worries start, as a senior. Well, let it come! I can't do more than my best and if I can satisfy my own conscience then I'll know I'm doing the best I can. My conscience is my best guide.
Elder Haslem seems to be a typical New Missionary. A big appetite, tender feet, loves bananas, thinks South Seas are Great, and doesn't know a word of the language yet. My! He's got a lot to learn. Haven't we all?
He can take it, though. We encircled Raiatea nei on a three day trip ending yesterday for a "breaking in" for him, and he held up fairly well. Each night we slept on a hard floor of a Chinaman's house and walked through unimaginable places. When we ended last night we were home. He had nine blisters scattered about his feet, sore hands from carrying a valise and (a little different idea of the South Seas.) Today we're all rarin' to go again. Yeaa... to bed. (Notice I didn't mention what Uela and I had at the end. It's surely all in the life of a tracting Tahitian Missionary.
Well, anyway our work is outlined good until conference in Tahiti in May. Then in May Elder Haslem and I will go to Headquarters for Con. and there we will meet Elder Rufus K. Hardy, who is due here in April to make an outlined tour of our best branches in the Tuomotus (good old Tuomotus!) and then back to Papeete for Con. If everything goes as Pres. Hopes, that is the set-up. I better start thinking of a Tah. conference speech, let alone write one out for Elder Haslem.
We hope to tour Tahaa on foot at least twice more in the remaining time and then work the nearby districts on this Islands again. Work and plenty of it but the best of it is we can surely joke about it. We have been sitting around today talking over the blisters and just about keeping two busy laying pillows for the third when he wants to walk anywhere. No kidding though, I've seen days, so far, that I've been almost too tired to undress for bed, but now that it's becoming a habit, it doesn't seem half bad. I'll rather hate to go back to the Tuomotus and get all softened up again. There's something about this work you don't mind getting tired for. And the experience of tackling such conditions is worth millions.
Dad, I guess I answered your question of finances a letter or two ago. As it stands now I have $77 in Headq. and probably $20 on next ship. It is a little more expensive living where we are, buying canned food every day, but all in all I'm getting by swell. Our big expense comes on travel and when we "hit town" or go in to Headq.
During the past three weeks we have eaten six stalks of bananas, cost on an average of 2 francs a stalk or about 5 ½ ¢, but the rub comes in buying canned milk so that we can have bananas and cream. Believe me, we surely do have the bananas and cream of the Mission.
Well, health is still abiding with us; I haven't had any trouble since boils in Tahaa. There's plenty of elephantisis on these Islands, in fact every white man that has lived out his life here has it, but we are careful to not contact any if possible. Won't be many weeks and we'll be leaving, so there is no worry on that score.
I answered Grandma's letter a week ago. Vern and Fern, I hope, will read this. I haven't heard from Barbara since a letter written around Xmas time so I'm biding my time on that score. If I haven't received the air, I'll hear next boat, maybe. As it is, I don't think I'll take a chance on a letter for awhile. I wrote last boat, and it's a ?
The pictures are a few my companions have taken that I have prints of. I think you can maybe keep them better than I. They are a little old, a few, but two years from now they'll look mighty good to me. I surely hope you are keeping them all good and the two big ones too. I want to put them all in a big book someday, in order of Islands.
Just as a warning: the laundry women are beating holes into my shirts so in case I send an order for a couple or more can you fill it? If a close-by chance of an Elder coming down happens to come along, tell him to put them with his and there is never any duty. I won't need them for better than a year so don't hurry. Women sho do know how to handle a war (sh) club. She's good, though, and only charges us a franc and a half per shirt she wears out each wash-day.
Enough said, and I hope this finds you all well, as we pray each night and morning. I'm always glad to hear from you so write often.
Love to all, Dean