Nov. 11, 1938
Dear Mother, Dad, and All,
Just a short note to let you know how things stand now. We have been expecting a boat for three days now so maybe it is just waiting until I get a letter written. I wasn't going to write this ship because the last one I wrote is still in Papeete probably waiting for a ship to the States. I think you will get two letters together and maybe more.
At the present time Elder Asay and I are at the "city" just waiting for the boat (ship). We came down last Tuesday in a little boat, expecing the ship to be here at least by Wednesday. As yet, no sign, so we are still waiting. We packed our boxes there and brought them with us.
The reason we are waiting for the ship here is that the people from Marokau aren't going home this time afterall, but on the next trip the "Gisborne" makes out here. Elder Asay and I came, thinking maybe we'll get instructions to go to Amanu first, seeing as how most of Marokau isn't home. If Pres. doesn't write us any different than what instructions we already have, we'll return inland again for another month.
Well, I think I'll be a man before my Mother; We each just passed another Birthday. Here I start climbing upwards into my twenties. Now I'll have to tell you all about my big birthday celebration:
We arose early in the morning yesterday and cleaned up. Two beautiful Tahitian girls called for us in their car, knowing it was my birthday. We took a long ride through the mountains and ate our lunch in a shady spot surrounded by a grove of orange trees and bananas and flowers.
After lazily dreaming away a couple of hours, we drove down to the seashore for an hour's swim and frolic on the lagoon. Of course a good swim always feels good.
In the evening we got out old Matagi's vaa (canoe) and went for a row upon the Lagoon in the moonlight. These gals surely know how to show us a good time. (Oh... Yeahh......
Now get what really happened: We arose early alright and went to the shore to scan the horizon for sight of the ship. No ship, so we returned to the house, drank our hot water and ate fried cakes that had no baking powder or salt in them... just a very little sugar. To top it off we drank a pape haari (our coconut for drinking).
The rest of the day we read, or watched for the ship. For dinner a nice old lady made us some cakes made of ground-up seashell fish with a little onions for flavor. That was my birthday cake, I guess. Along with more "hot-cakes" and coconut water we had a good meal.... oh yes! Fish (How could I forget that)
For amusement we threw rocks into the ocean to see who could throw the furtherest. Also threw at bottles to pass a little time. As long as ship is due, there just doesn't seem to be anything we can center our minds on. Why? Maybe this will sound a little like Elder Miller, but here it is: All the soap on the Island is gone so our clothes are badly in need of launderying. Nearly all the flour is gone so we get bread once in awhile. Sugar.. gone, salt... gone, all manners of grease for frying. All our fish have to be eaten cooked on rocks or boiled. Some fun picking a boiled fish with no salt on it. Shucks! This is great. I'm just like my Dad; the tougher the going the better he likes it. We still have a grub box sith canned goods in it which is being used plenty. I bought a can of diced carrots in Papeete that we will eat for our Thanksgiving dinner. We still have a few cans of jam and milk (4 of each) and a couple of cans of beans plus a sack full of them, and a few cans of beef. I reckon we'll live until the boat gets here.
The Governor was kind enough to give us his house to stay in while we are here. He is inland, and told us to just go in and make ourselves at home. A shower bath he has fixed up, five gallon can of water and sprinkler, certainly feels fine to get under. He also has the nicest home in Hikueru. He is a Catholic too, but that's nothing. The majority of the people that help us out are non-Mormons. Our own people do a little, but it's really the others that do the majority. Such as bring us fish, give us a cooked meal once in awhile, and other things we ourselves can't get in line of food.
Well, if I have time when ship comes, I'll write what's what. It will only be here long enough to unload a few supplies and then is gone. We have no wharf here so they never stay long.
Love to All,
P.S. Same Day:
Ship just came in! On it was your letter, one from Vern & Fern and three from Barbara. The letter I speak of this time had a swell 15$ in it and was postmarked Oct 3... written Sept 25 etc. Vern's also had $10 in. Be sure to thank him for it very much. I'll write again to him & her when I get back to Tahiti.
Yes, I'm going back soon. Pres. is calling all Elders in from the Islands for a big Conference of Elders during Xmas. We are to take the first chance in now. We can't go on this ship as it will not call back here on it's way in.
Nov. 23, Now don't think me crazy, but it's just another of these things. Rather than to throw away this old letter I'll just attach more to it.
Since I wrote last the ship has gone, we went back inland for ten days and now here we are again at the "city" waiting for a ship.
This time we haven't much idea when one will be here but we're hoping.. soon. The Gisborne, if it stops here on its way back, should be in this week. If she doesn't stop then we don't know about getting to Tahiti for Xmas. Surely indefinite.
By going back inland I got to witness and participate in a rather rare occasion. A big school of fish were sighted just off the shore in the lagoon. Immediately the natives were in canoes with their nets. Elder Asay and I went out alongside to watch. They trapped the whole school and ran them into the net. There they started loading them into the vaas. When all were obtained they counted them out evenly, giving every family an equal share. We got our 25 too. All told there were 1,670 fish caught. If that wasn't a sight to behold! I surely enjoyed it. They were all about 10 to 12 inches long and a pretty silver color. Talk about good eating fish. We could fry them without grease they were so full of juice. We each ate four fried and then cooked the rest on rocks and then dried them in the sun. Best candy ever.
While I'm thinking of it, I'd like to place a small order. These natives go crazy over a fountain pen. If you could, I'd like you to send me a couple of pen and pencil sets.... just cheap ones. 25¢ for each piece is plenty. Along with that I could use a couple of tie and collar holder sets. Also cheap ones. I guess that's all this time. If anything else happens to change things I'll write more later.... in Tahiti maybe.
November 28th. Sunday, and I haven't much to do right now so I'll tack on more on this letter. No ship yet. Even if one did come today, the ocean is so rough they couldn't get a boat ashore so we're just resting easy. It's beginning to make us wonder if we'll get "in" by Xmas. Now that we have set our minds on it, we'll be quite disapponted and lonesome if we don't.
Our grub box is depleted. All we have left is three cans of beef. Even the "chink" is out of flour just about. He is selling it now in "so much to each family" quantities. Now if we want a snack to hold us between our two meals a day we break a coconut. Really, it's getting interesting. The survival of the fittest.
Another thought..... Just for a suggestion if you (any of you) want to send me a little gift now and then, Xmas, birthday, etc., about the best thing I could suggest would be a good book now and then. For example... "Doc. & Cov. Commentary", "Jesus the Christ", "Return to Religion", Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends etc." or a "Bible Stories". Any and all of these in a course of two years would be indeed appreciated. There is no duty charged on books so there wouldn't be much trouble sent via mail.... Just a broad hint.
Getting back to the food question. We have money to buy from the store, but the "store" is inland and we are way across the lagoon.
Today Elder Asay and I held meeting here. There are about 10 Saints down here now; the rest return this week as the diving season closes Wednesday. I took charge of S.S. and gave a short talk in Sac. Mtg. Elder Asay led the lesson in S.S. and also gave a talk in the afternoon. For Sacrament we had to use coconut for bread as there isn't any other thing in flour line we could get. We didn't use the hard "meat" but what we call uto. Maybe Bro. Compton can describe that for you; I can't.
By the way, you never did mention whether Compton's received that certificate I sent them, or if it was all right, or all wrong. How about it?
Yesterday I was cleaning fish just out in the water of the lagoon, off shore aways. I waded out to knee-deep water so I could have plenty of space to clean them in. About four young sharks must have smelled the dead fish and they paid me a visit. If you want some fun just try to scare them away. They run from in front of you but before you know it they are behind sniffing at your heels. I got kind of tired of keeping one eye on the fish and the other on the water so I guess they won. They were small but I reckon they were big enough.
Elder Asay got stung by a veri (or centipede) day before yesterday. He was gathering firewood and before he knew it he was bit on the wrist. His whole hand turned numb and I suppose it kinda stung. He took a razor blade and cut open the place that he figured it went into and made it bleed. A few hours later it seemed to be all right; it hasn't bothered him since. Just a very young veri but I feel safer to not play with them.
Seeing as how I've started on little trifling experiences I'll have to tell about my fishing episode: I had a spear and was out trying to spear our dinner. I succeed in getting twelve small ones and as I was chasing another, I jammed my foot against a vana, just something with a lot of prickly spines on it, like a porcupine but much smaller. It's just a plant growth I guess. I drove a few of those points into the side of my foot and they broke off. It is impossible to pull them out as they have a very rough surface with very small spines pointing backwards. Darn, they hurt like the dickens so I started out on a quarter mile walk to the house. By the time I got there my foot was very dead feeling. I soaked it in alcohol, cut open a few of the places and tried to dig out the spikes. The natives say they are poison so I was doing my best to get them out. For two days it bothered me, feeling much the same as a sprain when I twisted it and wiggled the points. After that I forgot it and now its healed and well. Believe me, we learn what to be careful around and what not to. Of course we are careful or try to be most of the time, but we learn by experience.
Goodness! Here I was only going to make this a short note. Well, it serves you right for not be able to tell me when to quit. Well, I'll continue to leave space for the future..... ??????
December 5 And here is the "future" again. We just received a big "disappointment". Last night after Church E. Asay and I stood talking about when a ship would have to get here if we were to get to Headquarters by Xmas. Then a ship light was sighted, and "Tero" was hollered all over the Island. We kinda let out a whoop or two ourselves, and just about started packing, but first we thought we better go down to shore to see for ourselves.
We arrived at shore and watched the light come closer. We knew it was the Gisborne on her way back to Tahiti after a very long stay "above". She came opposite us about a quarter of a mile out, and by another light behind we knew she was pulling the "Ruahatu", a ship that went on the rocks recently; taking her into the shipyards at Tahiti. As we watched, wondering whether we would leave at night or wait until next morning, she just went on past without even a "hello". All the people just stood and watched..... I'll tell you about how we all felt, later on.... when a ship gets here with food.
December 12.... I take a little time now to write a little more. Seeing as how I've started, I might as well make a real letter out of this instead of just a short note.
Another week gone by and we are still waiting... and hungry. And yet we aren't at all bad off yet. It seems there is no "white-man's" food on the Island but yet we (Elder Asay and I) haven't had to eat what the natives are. Everywhere we visit they are cooking fish and along with coconut water and the nut, they make out a meal.
Today we came close to it. For breakfast we ate boiled in coconut water utos, flour ipos, half flour and half grated coconut, and a can of beans we have been saving until down to the last ditch. Today for dinner we shall boil a pot of dried, split, wormy peas that have been in the possession of the Missionaries in Hikureu for quite a number of months. For seasoning we boil them in salt water.
One day last week we were invited to a woman's house for dinner.. they didn't eat with us of course, these natives never will. Imagine our surprise to see a table set with pork & beans, salmon (canned), flat-cakes (flap-jacks, maybe) and cocoa. Say! That was a sight to behold. I suppose it was the last they had, and in one last big fling they were proving true natives to the Missionaries. No need of trying to refuse their kind handout, and I'm sure there is no need of saying we didn't do justice to it. Our blessings were left with that man and woman... Non-Mormons.
We haven't received a bit of news yet. The radio power isn't strong enough to pick up Tahiti so we haven't heared whether a ship will leave soon or not. An "S.O.S." wireless was sent a week ago but no reply came back. However a ship has got to get out here this week. These poor kids are getting very hungry for nourishing food.
Shucks! We've given up getting in for Xmas. If we don't receive word this next ship telling us to continue our first assignment, I'll be surprised. Oh well! I just came out a couple or three months ago so I don't mind so much. Percy, though, has been our a year now. He's all the time worrying over his table manners when he gets in. He says, "They use forks and spoons to eat with in Tahiti.... I want to get in early so I can practice to eat our big Xmas dinner (which we won't get)" Ha!
We traded hair-cuts yesterday to keep up with the good humor. I believe I got the best and longest laugh at him; he's a good barber and I,... well... I'm trying to learn. If it comes right down to it, there are some coconut bowls big enough to fit. However by this picture I'm sending, you can see I haven't used a bowl yet.
Well, I can pretty well read my Tah. B. of Mormon now. However I still have to look up quite a few phrases and words to get the meaning. It will come in time, perhaps. More later. Don't get discouraged... I'm not.
Dec. 15. Still going strong. Ship expected tonight or tomorrow or Sunday... we hope. I have a couple of stories to tell now:
A few weeks ago a Catholic Priest came in a sailboat to this Island. He has been here ever since. Only once in all that time have we spoken to him or he to us.
One night we were at the Gov.'s (a Catholic) listening to the radio and waiting for news so we could receive and translate it for the natives. Elder Asay and I were setting right next to the radio over in the corner. In walked the Priest, greeted his people, drew up a chair and just stooped to sit down when he happened to look to see who was handling the radio. Up he shot as though there was a hornet on his seat, and away he ran out the door. I reckon he figured old Satan had him sure.
I saw all this but Elder Asay did not. I mentioned it to him by "Here's John! Whoops, there he goes!" He didn't get what I was talking about until later on that night.
We went on, gave out the news, made no mention of what had happened and went out. Outside I told Pereti what happened. Rather than to "queer" the Gov. with the Priest, we haven't been back to give the news for a long time.
There were a few of our people in the house at the time and it made them rather mad. They spread it all over the Island so Ioane (John) was quite the goat.
Walking down the street a short while ago (a week ago) Elder Asay saw the Priest coming. The Priest didn't see him until they were quite close and then he looked up. Satan! Again, by Golly! Away the old Priest went into the weeds and underbrush in a wide circle. Can you imagine a white man doing that? He's just afraid to even as much as say "Ia ora na" to us. This also spread, as it was witnessed. Really it's a laugh.
Last nite the Gov. invited us over to listen to his radio again. I guess he had decided that the Priest won't "Muki" him. (Place a curse.)
One more little incident worth mentioning. Last Tuesday we visited a family. An old woman had an eye swollen up so big her face was out of shape. She asked if we had any medicine and could do anything for her. Well, I was interested so I told El. Asay she was my patient. I got some boric Acid Chrystals and some Argyrol and went to work. The swelling was so large I could hardly get medicine into the eye.
One morning and one night I doctored it. The next morning Wednesday I said, just to cheer her up, "Sunday your eye will be well enough that you can go to Church Sunday". (She hasn't been to Church for a long time.) She took it as Gospel and really believed my words.
This morning I went back; the eye needs now to loose a little redness and it will be about as good as new. My! but she was grateful. She said, "You just see if I'm not to Church next Sunday." Her faith has healed her eye.
Well, I guess I better call this enough for another day. I'll have to get a newspaper copy if I write much more. More later.
Dec. 20 Still waiting... of course not just sitting, but just the same it seems we can't get our minds settled very long on one thing. For today's bit I'll copy word for word from my diary:
Dec. 20. "We went after our own food today. These natives have proven false when it comes to a showdown. I guess they all expect the other one to supply us with fish. (Fish of course is all they can.) However we are still able ourselves. Both in good health and Spirits; we are indeed being watched over.
"We obtained a basketfull of ma'os (shell-fish) from off the reef and brought them home. They were cooked in the "milk" or "oil" squeezed from grated coconut. That along with a breadfruit (not fruit; just a green uru.) (Not bread either) made us food for the day.
"While we were eating "Tero" ("ship") was sounded, but after a few happy moments, we found out it was another haavare. (lie).
"During the afternoon we took a short swim in the lagoon to keep exercised and played a little football with the natives.
"Went to the radio tonight and translated news as it was broadcast. Seems odd to hear how cold Europe is. hm. I could use a little cold myself. I still like to listen to music; that hour spent at the radio is worth a lot. Well, I'll close again, hungry."
So, you see that's how it is. I can honestly say we are in a worse fix than Elder Miller could have been if he had flour. Of course along with that he had fish, coconut products, and other native contraptions. If we only had flour things would be swell because that can be made into so many different ways of cooking.. just with water. But I'm telling you we are down to our last "kick" and really getting a big kick out of it. I like being thrown on y own like this. It's a question of do or you never will. (Of course we are always being helped by a Power greater than ours. That's why we always find something to eat when time comes for that one meal. Not a thing to worry about. I weighed a few days ago and I hit 167.2 lbs. or 76 kilos. I wonder for how long? By the time you receive this letter you'll know this case has passed and will never happen again unless a ship goes on the rocks again. Even ten the Chink will have food in his store. Won't be long now until it's over.
Happy New Year!! January 1st 1939. Papeete, Tahiti
We're in, and what a happy swell time we're having! The Gisborne did a very unusual thing: She came as far as Hik. took a load of shell and turned around and went back to Tahiti with us aboard instead of going "above".
We arrived here Dec. 28, having spent Xmas on the rolling ship. Some fun, huh? Poor Pereti was sick, but I held on once again.
You can never imagine how busy, happy, etc. we have been. Certainly wish nights wouldn't have to come. Up at 5:00 A.M. and in bed at 11 P.M., 12 A.M., 1:00 A.M. and still can't do all I want to. I have 22 letters needing a note of recognition due to Xmas mail ariving twice this month; once just before I arrived and once since. I'm afraid this letter will soon see an end. Between now and Feb I shall try to get around to each. Feb. a ship (the first one) sails for U.S. I shall have time, I hope.
Just touch the high spots is all I can do now. We have had three interesting meetings, one whole day of vacation for a bus tour of this island. By the way there are 18 Elders & Pres. & family here now. Tahiti is just to hard to describe so I won't attempt it. It took about 14 hrs. to go completely around. Never have I seen such a place! Sweet & bitter, eh what??
Sorry to say my fruit-cake was molded completely so I had to help a few of the others with theirs. Thanks anyway and also for the other things. Along with your money gift I received $5 from Owen, $1 Miss Nelson (Greldon), $3 Edith, $2 Rema, $1 LeMoyne, besides cards from others. Goodness! What did I ever do to deserve this? Bishopric also sent me a swell book. Oh my!!
Ree, I'll answer your letter and also your's, Edith, in this one. It should be big enough for all to share. I hope it will be satisfactory. Hope you all enjoyed Xmas.
Now just a word or two of what's ahead. Yesterday assignments for islands were given. I am to go to the mountainous Islands west of Tahiti with Elder Hunting as my Senior. We will be the first Missionaries to tackle that place for many years. I know of but one Mormon and he is our native Missionary working there (or living there) now. New experiences ahead!
Pres. said I am to be a Senior no later than May and no earlier than early March. If we have new Elders come in March I reckon I'll get one.
Gee, but I'm pleased with that assignment. We have an Island with same climatical conditions as here, which means anything to eat we want. In afternoon meeting Pres. said, "I have been thinking of making a change... Elder Allred will go back to Hikueru with Elder Machen." Well, ........
Before meeting was over, he had reconsidered and I'm still in luck.
We leave Tuesday. It is just an over-night's ride so will arrive in the morning. Ship is regular every week so you may get more than one letter on Feb.'s boat explaining what we're up against.
Now for a matter of money. I don't know how conditions will be there. I don't imagine it will be very expensive due to fruits and vegetables. At this time I have $100 in my account and by the time I leave it won't be quite that much but still substantial enough to draw on when needed if needed badly. you won't have to worry one bit if going gets tough and you have to miss a few months this winter and spring. The Lord takes care of his own.
Evening... Just one more little news item.. after a talk with Pres. Stevens we have decided not to go out this week, but stay one more and go next Tuesday. That will give us time to get "dope" on how to work what we are going up against. Also it will give us a chance to meet the ship comming next Nomday from U.S. (I better wait a week now before closing in case things change again.)
Jan. 10, O.K. Back once again and this time to close this letter. We won't get to meet the ship as it won't be here until Thurs. Elder Hunting and I are quite sure of leaving Tomorrow. I'll write again after we are over there for awhile so that the next letter will catch the same boat this one does, maybe.
I'm all ready to go now, and still have $80 in the ledger. I may have to buy a bicycle, but I won't know until after a week or so there. (Don't mind my writing 'cause Elder Randall is typing on the same table.)
I bought a cheap wrist watch; it just seems I can't get along without one so it's a good thing I sent my good one home or I certainly would be using it.
Thanks for the gum; I just had one package left of the last carton. Also the leather preserver should and does help my books. (Where are the aspirins?) Don't bother if you haven't already sent them. I'll buy some here.
These pictures all seem self-explanitory with what's written on back so I won't make any comments.
Well, now I'll close again for sure this time sending you my best wishes and
P.S. Open this letter first in case there are two.
This cartoon should be framed and hung on the wall. P.S. Show it to the Bishop.