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The Diary of Reverend David Cargill - Part 15

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, February 11, 2018

ANOTHER storm hits the island of Lakeba, and white missionaries fear losing the newly converts back to paganism. Here we also learn in what was probably the first classes in the native Fijian language, led by missionary and linguist Reverend David Cargill.

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 in 1977.

Tuesday, December 15, 1835

Last night, we were visited by another tremendous storm of wind and rain, which continued about 16 hours, and raged with alarming vehemence. Our late dwelling house was blown down and many articles of household furniture and wearing apparel were damaged. We had providentially got up a small out-house a few days previously to the storm, this screened us from the rain; — and although it was much shaken by the wind, yet by tying it with ropes and propping it with sticks we were able to keep it standing. Many houses were blown down and destroyed, and a few persons were much injured by the falling timbers.

The storm was particularly trying, since Mrs Cargill had just given birth. Although the bed linen was wet during two days and a night, she received no permanent injury.

The king of the island was in the utmost trepidation. He despatched an emissary with a present to the high priest to consult him about the cause of the storm and the manner of appeasing the deity. This important personage answered with as much duplicity and vagueness as characterised the responses of any of the ancient oracles; — The substance of his revelation was that the God of Lakemba was enraged because of the Missionaries; that he had called to his assistance all the gods in Feejee; and that these assembled were unanimously resolved to send 10 strong wind and heavy rains to drift or blow us to sea19. But one scale at least has fallen from the king's eyes. He asked, 'if the Missionaries are the objects of the God's resentment, why does he punish us who have not abandoned his service?' Receiving no satisfactory answer, he took the liberty of calling the supposed deity — a liar and a fool. Thus Satan's kingdom begins to wither! May it soon be finally abolished.

Although the chief had promised to build a chapel, he had not yet found it convenient to do so. He approved of Cross's plan of building a temporary chapel from the timbers of the missionaries' houses, flattened during the storms. Some professing Christians on the island immediately cut new posts - longer than those of the houses - to prevent the chapel being levelled in the next hurricane. The frame was completed in a day, for thirty persons co-operated, in the Fijian way, on the project. The chapel was not completed until a few days later, but the first services were held on Sunday 20.

Sunday, December 20, 1835

Preached this morning in a chapel built from the materials of our late dwelling houses. Although it is a rude and temporary edifice, yet we are very thankful for it and trust it will be to many wandering souls the gates of heaven. The people listened with deep attention, whilst I endeavoured to explain the deadly nature and powerful remedy of that disease which sin has made in the human soul. May the Physician of souls apply his healing blood to the souls of all who were present.

Sunday, January 3, 1836

Through the mercy of God we have been spared to see the first Sabbath of another year. The duties of the day have been various and interesting. About 8am the males assembled in the chapel to be exercised on the Catechism. They engage in this work with great readiness and pleasure. About nine o'clock, the bell was rung for divine service. More persons attended than on any former occasion. Our place of worship was crowded. Many were present, who for the first time engaged in an act of homage to the Most High. Some of the Tonguese who are yet heathens came to hear for themselves. My heart was greatly enlarged in earnest prayer for their salvation, while I was enabled to speak with some freedom. After the sermon, we united in marriage six couples. Our souls magnify the Lord. More than 100 Feejeeans were about the doors and windows, or rather the apertures of our chapel. Many of them listened with attention. Who knows but a word in season may have been spoken to some of them?

Sunday, January 10, 1836

Brother Turner Cross and I united in marriage six couples, who had previously expressed a wish to glorify their God below and find their way to heaven. In the afternoon I was enabled to explain the nature and urge the necessity of a change of heart on a very attentive audience. I could not discover one who seemed indifferent about the one thing needful. Whatever the people who receive instruction from us may be in their heart, their behaviour in the house of God is very devout and reverent. And although all may not be sincere, yet we entertain good hopes of many of our hearers. We believe that the Holy Spirit is striving with and that at least a few are obedient to the call. After the service, I administered the sacrament to 11 persons, among whom were Europeans, Tonguese, and Feejeeans. We are indeed but a little flock, but we have faith to effect an increase, — and to believe that we shall receive a kingdom, if we faint not. After service, I visited a sick young man, who lately met in one of my classes, but whom we had to exclude for misconduct. He seemed penitent and says that his mind is pained on account of his sin and that he earnestly prays to God for pardon.

Monday January 11, 1836

At five o'clock this morning rung the bell for school, about 50 males were present (and) nearly 40 are learning to write. Their progress in this branch of knowledge is rapid. Spent the forenoon in preparing for the press a part of St. Matthew in the Feejeean language. In the afternoon met two male classes and was much pleased with the experience and prayers of some of the candidates for baptism. They seem in earnest to save their souls. May they receive a crown of life.

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