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The Diary of Reverend David Cargill - Part 14

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, February 04, 2018

A severe storm makes landfall on the island of Lakeba causing converts to return to their pagan ways believing that their gods have cursed them for abandoning their old ways.

The white missionaries also witnessed the traditional ceremony of a prince son, reaching manhood.

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.

Thursday, 26 November, 1835

During the last three days, we have had to endure one of the severest storms that I ever witnessed. For about 60 hours the wind blew with tremendous vehemence, incessantly shifting to every point of the compass. The rain fell in torrents, and literally deluged a great part of the mission premises. During the prevalence of the storm, we were kept in constant excitement and alarm for the safety of our houses and persons. The wind frequently rushed with such violence, as to threaten the demolition of every object within it's reach and the rain was dashed through the innumerable crevices in the thatch reeding of our dwelling houses. The posts of the house were shaken by every blast. All our attention and time were occupied in providing for our safety, by tying the roof, and propping the posts and beams of our houses. But by the kindness of Him who "rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm," we experienced no personal injury, except a slight cold from exposure to the rain. Our houses, perishable as they are, were materially injured by the rain and wind. A few garden seeds, which had just sprung up a few inches above ground, were torn up and or blasted. The mission premises, and in fact the wh­ole country, were a dreary aspect. Our premises were flooded with the water which rushed from the neighbouring hills in deep and rapid torrents. Our fences were blown down; our frail house was literally rocked to and fro by the tempest, and the timbers cracked under the pressure of every blast.

Sunday, 29 November, 1835

At the afternoon service, about 150 Tonguese (Tongans) were present, who listened very attentively while I endeavoured to prove the impossibility of serving two masters. The countenances of several persons bespoke the deep interest which they felt in the remarks: and some I trust, sincerely resolved to serve God. At the conclusion of the service, a Tonguese chief of considerable rank spoke to me and with visible emotion expressed a wish to meet in class that his soul might live.

Monday, November 30, 1835

Commenced the female school about past five in the morning: about 70 were present, and all sought instruction with great eagerness. During the forenoon, my time was principally occupied in making arrangements about our premises. Spent from two to four with a Feejeean (Fijian) chief in translating part of the 9th chapter of Mathew. At 4pm met my Tonguese class: our little band was increased by five additional candidates for membership. May they all become members of the church triumphant! In the evening visited a sick woman who resides about a mile distant. She acknowledges herself a miserable sinner. May the Lord have mercy upon her!

Wednesday, 2 December, 1835

Received a visit from the king and several other chieftains. I introduced a conversation about Christianity and the folly and misery of those who reject the truth. The king acknowledged the vanity of their Gods and expressed a willingness to embrace Christianity if our friends in England would send him as many muskets and as much powder and shot as would make him greater and more powerful than his enemies. He has many wives and I fear the principal obstacle in the way of his conversion is his reluctance to part with them15. But nothing can defeat omnipotence: May this besotted heathen be soon found a humble and sincere worshipper of the Conqueror Jesus!

Saturday, December 5, 1835

Early this morning, my dear wife was delivered of a daughter16. Mother and child are likely to do well. What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits conferred upon us in this lonely island, where we have no earthly friend to sympathise with us, nor human skill to aid us in the hour of trouble! But we are not overlooked by him who slumbered not nor sleeps. He is better to us than all our fears. May gratitude fill our hearts and flow from our lips every day and every moment of our lives! This has been a high day at Sangkalau (Nasaqalau), a koro (village) at the opposite side of the island. A fashion prevails among the people, that the sons of great chiefs go entirely naked until 11 or 12 years of age, when they are faka-masied or clothed for the first time17. Today this peculiar ceremony was performed on one of the sons of Toki, the king's elder brother. Many people were assembled from all parts of the island to witness the ceremony. The boy's father performed the ceremony by fastening many folds of native cloth about his waist and so adjusting the ends that one dangled in front and the other behind. Extensive preparations had been made for this occasion for about a fortnight prior to the performance of the ceremony. Night and day, heathenish dances and songs were practised.

Great eagerness and industry were manifested in securing what they esteem ornaments for their persons. Whales' teeth were in great requisition18. One chief solicited the loan of 20 or 30 looking glasses to decorate his head. The food provided for the occasion was piled up in several large heaps. They spent all the day and the greater part of the subsequent night in heathenish revelry. Even the least guilty pleasures of these people yield no solid satisfaction, and exert a debasing and demoralising influence. May they soon make their escape from the fowler's snare!

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