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The diary of Reverend David Cargill - Part 9

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, January 07, 2018

REVEREND David Cargill continued with his work in Tonga but this time he was more confident of extending his mission to Fiji. Since his arrival he has managed to convert many Tongans and feels the time is ripe that he must continue the work in neighbouring Fiji.

His faith was tested later in the year, but that did not dampen his faith in the Lord. He proud for courage, comfort and protection and it is clear now that he could be heading to Fiji sometime soon.

This is the account of the late Reverend Cargill from the book "The Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843," edited by Albert J. Schütz and published by the Australian National University.

Thursday December 25, 1834

Christmas Day.

This day I have had a rich repast of heavenly love. At break of day, the bell was rung to assemble the natives to a prayer meeting in the large chapel — and with the rising sun we began to praise God for his love in the gift of His son Jesus. The chapel was crowded even at that early hour; and most of adult persons present and many of the children were dressed in new pieces of native cloth and fine mats. We continued in supplication and thanksgiving for about an hour and were blessed with a renewal of our spiritual strength. About 9am we're assembled, and I endeavoured to explain to a listening multitude, the mission of the angel, and the conduct of the shepherd related in the former part of St Luke's Gospel. During the whole time of the discourse, many could with difficulty restrain their feelings and frequently, some of the leaders and others cried aloud for gratitude and joy.

The service continued about two hours and a half. During which time, one hundred persons (a few less or more) related their experience. All were simple, pointed, and brief and many were very interesting. Among the speakers, were the King and Queen and a few principal chiefs. One very old chief, whose faculties seem to have relapsed into the simplicity of childhood, stood up and said — "O Lord Jehovah, I am old and foolish, but I pray thee, to have mercy upon me an take me up to heaven! That is my mind!"

Brother Turner went to another part of the Island the preceding day and conducted service. Just after Christmas, the missionaries at Vava'u were given short notice of a district meeting at Nuku'alofa.

As Brother Turner proposes to sail for the district meeting early tomorrow morning, I cannot at this time forward you any 'extracts' or lengthy communications. I am prevented from attending the district meeting because of the protracted and occasionally alarming illness of Mrs Cargill. During the last four months, she has been the subject of severe affliction. But our confidence is in the Lord of hosts and our consolation is derived from a firm belief that every dispensation of his Providence, may have a sanctifying effect upon us. It is likely that Turner went to the district meeting intending to transfer to Fiji.

In late June of that year, he had written:

The letters from Nukualofa inform us of a special district meeting held there by the chairman — Messrs Hobbs and Cross — on the propriety of me and Brother Tucker going to Fejee as soon as opportunity offers. I have before informed you so that I shall again repeat it. I am resigned to go, or to stay. Not as I will but as thou wilt.

Church historians give a slightly romanticised account of the district meeting. It reads:

When the synod met at Nukualofa in January, 1835, full of ardour and thanksgiving, invitations and appeals poured in, not from the outlying Friendly Islands alone, but from Samoa and Fiji besides. Fiji was already on the program of the Missionary Society. All things seemed possible to men filled with the Spirit who had wrought through them in the recent months things so far beyond anticipation. For themselves, they were ready to make any sacrifice, to face any danger, the furtherance of God's kingdom in the isles required. It was determined that two of their number should be detailed for Fiji, and one be given to Samoa. Cross and Cargill volunteered for the former enterprise; Turner was chosen for the latter. These brethren were to be dispatched so soon as arrangements could be made; the Missionary Committee must be trusted to supply the vacancies created in Tonga. This was a sacrifice of half the strength of the Mission; three out of the seven upon the ground were to go — and these three picked and choice men. Cargill in particular, with his superior training and organising powers, was indispensable to Tonga at a time like this. The step was taken in the purest spirit of self-sacrifice. It is difficult to understand how Cargill volunteered for service in Fiji without attending the meeting.

Turner wrote in his journal that, contrary to the historians' report, he had volunteered for Samoa, and Cross for Fiji, if someone would accompany him. In Cargill's absence, the other missionaries had volunteered his services. Later, Cargill responded: I must acknowledge that when the district meeting appointed me for Feejee, I was somewhat startled; but I am quite happy at the appointment and pray that it may be conducive to the glory of God. Mrs Cargill seemed equally surprised: Well, David, I did not expect it to be so: but the Lord knows best what is good for us; and if it be his will that we should go to Feejee I am content.

On January 13, 1835

Mrs Cargill gave birth to a son, who died within a few hours. He was interred 'within the precincts of the burying-place of the Vavau Kings'. Although Cargill had made no note of their arrival, Cross and his family had reached Vavau the day before — the first stage of their move to Fiji. Cross responded to his new appointment with self-importance that one eventually perceives as characteristic. I would observe, that — after working with Brother Turner commenced the Mission at Nukualofa and witnessed a glorious work of the Lord among the Inhabitants of Tongataboo; and afterwards myself commencing the Mission at Vavau and seen the work of the Lord prosper in a most glorious manner there; I feel it a great honour to be employed to carry the glad tidings of Salvation to the inhabitants of Fiji: nor do I feel at all discouraged at having another language to learn, or on account of the barbarity and ferocity of the people.

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