Diary of David Cargill

The Namuka I Lau cricket team with their fans preparing for the Suva. Reverend David Cargill was on Namuka before traveling to Moce. Picture: MACIU MALO/FILE

REVEREND David Cargill meets up with Fijian native missionary Josua Mateinaniu in Moce. Mateinaniu is one of a very few native missionaries who are sent first to hostile places before the arrival of the white missionaries. Meanwhile while at Namuka, a temple used for pagans and heathenism is converted to be their sacred temple and church. This is the account of the late Reverend David 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 October, 18 1838

The wind is still strong, and therefore we have been unable to proceed on our voyage. In consequence of this detention, I preached again in the afternoon to the Feejeeans. There is a great scarcity of food on this island; the natives subsist principally on mamee apples and an indigenous root the native name of which is waka69. The poor people are so oppressed by their chiefs that they have not a hog or fowl of their own. There is great abundance of tall, straight timber on this island. A tree called vesi by the natives is found in great abundance. It is of a red colour, is exceedingly hard and durable: it is susceptible of a very fine polish. The best canoes are built of it. Some of the trees are 150ft high 6ft in diametre.

Sunday October 21, 1838

Being still wind-bound at Namuka, I had an opportunity of preaching twice to the Feejeeans on the Sabbath. In the forenoon we converted a heathen temple into a Christian temple. It is a new house and had been dedicated to one Malanga — a heathen deity. We took possession of it in the name of King Jesus. Previously to the commencement of the service, the principal person among the Christians said to me; “There is a house which, while heathens, we built for Malanga — a god of lies; and if it is not a bad thing to worship the God of truth in it, and if agreeable to you, we wish this morning to drive Malanga out of it and consecrate it to Jehovah.” May Malanga and all the brood of the old serpent be soon crushed by the Seed of the woman. At the close of the service I married four couples.

Monday October 22, 1838

This morning we sailed from Namuka and were very sick in consequence of a heavy swell in the sea, and arrived in safety at Mothe (Moce) about noon. The king of Mothe is a mean spirited man, and a bitter enemy to the Christians. The society and schools on this island have always been very fluctuating. The people have difficulties to contend with, and do not make such progress either in knowledge or in their numbers. In the evening I preached, married six couples, and baptised 23 adults. A few minutes after our arrival at Mothe, we were surprised to see Joshua Mateinaniu — the teacher on Oneata — walking up to the house in which we were sitting. He and our friends on Oneata had become anxious about our safety. They knew that we had been seven days from Lakemba, and had heard a false report raised by the heathen, that we had been unable to manage our canoe, and had been drifted away to the leeward islands. Apprehending that some accident had befallen us, they despatched Joshua and three other young men in a small canoe to look for us among the islands, and render us assistance. This demonstration of kindness excited our gratitude.

Tuesday October 23, 1838
After appointing several teachers to assist in the schools we sailed from Mothe and arrived in safety at Oneata in the afternoon. Our friend Joshua had arrived before us and apprised the Christians of our approach. Our reception was most gratifying and even affecting. Before we had come to anchor, Joshua came off in a small canoe to take Mrs Cargill and the children on shore. On the beach we were met by the Tahitian teachers
and many of the Christians. They conducted us immediately to that part of the settlement where our chapel and the houses of the teachers stand. To our surprise we found 10 or 12 baskets of baked hogs, yams, bananas, chicken placed before the door of one of the teachers houses. “This,” said one of the teachers “is for the crew of your canoe,” and without waiting for a reply, led Mrs Cargill, the children and myself away into a small house where a plentiful repast was prepared for us. A table was covered with a white cloth, plates were laid on it, and a sailor’s knife with a rusty fork. A baked hog, a fowl and abundance of yams were placed before us. In the earnestness of their love they would not allow us to rise from our seats to procure our own knives, but entreated us to excuse their poverty and endeavour to make one knife and fork do for us all. While expressing
our gratitude for our safe arrival and the people’s kindness, one of the teachers said, “Misa Kakile, this food has been provided by me; it is an expression of my love to you and Misisi Kakile and your daughters: another teacher will provide similar things tomorrow, — a third at noon and so on,” and before we could express our thankfulness, he ran off to another part of the house, and immediately returned with two mats and a piece of native cloth and presented them to us. Whilst thus employed a number of women came to shake hands with Mrs Cargill and the girls, bringing
with them several earthen pots filled with cooked fish and yams. We were astonished and delighted at their kindness: what a contrast between these young converts to Christianity and the heathen king of Mothe! I entreated him to sell us food, but he would not, but these people have impoverished
themselves to show kindness to us.

Wednesday October 24, 1838
Today, I married 23 couples, and baptised 43 adults and 21 children. The services were very interesting. Many heathens surrounded the chapel as spectators. Some of them were prevailed upon to worship God, and for the first time they bowed the knee to the King of kings. Men, women and children were all neatly dressed in new and beautiful pieces of native cloth manufactured for the occasion.They prepared a feast which consisted of
turtles, hogs, fowls, yams and chickens.

Thursday October 25, 1838

The greater part of this day has been occupied in selling books to the natives. They purchased them with fowls and native cloth.Many of them have made considerable progressin reading. In the afternoon I appointed three class leaders and one local preacher to assist Joshua.

Friday October 26, 1838

As the wind did not favour our returning to Lakemba this morning, the greater part of the day has been spent in visiting the heathen, and selling books to the Christians. I have no doubt but the stay at this place will be made a blessing to the people.

69. Perhaps a misunderstanding. In Baun Fijian, waka means ‘root’.

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