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our experience. When Sunday came, we took charge of the meetings, and strange are the stories that our companions are wont to tell of how we made up in gestures what we lacked in words, in the earnestness to deliver the first message to the natives without an interpreter. It was during this time that Mr. Clark, the senior member of the London Missionary Society, hearing of our work on Aumm, came from Apia to investigate the new religion on the islands.
One day we received a call from him, and, naturally, our conversation drifted onto religious matters. Before going, he asked the question, “Do you expect to establish your Church here?”
To which we replied, “Most certainly; we have come five-thousand miles for that purpose.”
“Then,” he said, “I have come ten-thousand miles to stop you."
He had recently returned from his vacation in England. We met Mr. Clark many times after this, and each time we had more converts, more branches, of The Church; and, lastly, our headquarters was established on the island of Upolu, within three miles of his own. It was also during these first two months that we heard of an agent of the Tamasese government being sent to arrest us, but before he reached Aumm, his government had fallen, and the Germans were compelled to bring back and re-establish Malieatoa as king of Samoa.
Within six months we had a number of converts on Tutuila, and we moved headquarters to Vatia on that island. While at this place, Elder Brigham Smoot, of Provo, was nearly drowned while bathing in the bay, on the day after his arrival. Through the blessings of the Lord, and our efforts, he was brought back to life again. Here it was that we witnessed the destructive hurricane of March, 1889. Elders Dean, Wood and Beesley were on a trip to the island of Upolu arriving at Apia in our little boat, the "Faaliga," on the day before the hurricane. We were, therefore, eye witnesses of the effects of that terrible typhoon on the lives of the sailors, and on the vessels of the United States and German navies. The brethren had been led to make this trip to Upolu through receiving a letter from Ifopo, one of Belio's converts, who had been anxiously waiting with the other scattered Saints for the day when white missionaries would be sent to them. The joy of Ifopo on meeting
the brethren, was unbounded. From that time until his death, this devoted native gave his time, home, and all his energies to assist us in the work of the Lord. Among a people that are generally considered as unstable as water, this man, with many others, remained true and faithful to the end, passing through trials that would have tested the faith and endurance of many more favored Latter-day Saints. He and his associates were often driven from their native villages and made outcasts for the work's sake.
After the arrival of Elders Solomon, Smoot, Booth and Bennet, we were scattered. President Dean took the first two with Elder Wood and his family to Upolu, where they bought a piece of land, at Fagalii and built a rustic mission house which still remains, with additions, as our headquarters on the Samoan mission.
From there Elder Wood went to the largest island of the group, Savaii, and was very successful in establishing The Church there. We remained with Elders Beesley, Bennett and Booth on Tutuila and Aumm. From this time the work spread rapidly all over the islands, until, when we gathered at mission headquarters for October conference, 1891, we numbered twenty-one Elders, one sister and two children, with hundreds of native converts, and branches of The Church on all of the islands except Manua. The authorities refused to let us proselyte there because of an agreement between the chiefs and Protestants that no other sect should be allowed on the two islands in that group.
Meantime, President Dean and family had returned to Zion, leaving ourselves to continue the work. Elders Smoot and Butler were laboring under difficulties to establish the work on the Friendly Islands, (Tonga,) five hundred miles south of Samoa, and Elders Damron and Seegmiller were preparing for their journey to reopen the Society Islands (Tahiti) mission, whence Elder James Brown and others were banished, in the early fifties, leaving large branches of native Saints that were afterwards visited and taken by the Josephites.
Thus the work grew in numbers and spread over the islands regardless of all efforts to stop it. To the credit of the Catholics, let it be said that they left us alone. But the Protestants, in their native newspapers, republished all the old lies, and many new ones
that we had never heard of before, concerning the prophet Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints.
Our Elders had many interesting fireside discussions with the Protestant native teachers, who, seemingly, were taught that when they left their training school, they were equal to any white missionary. They often came to us with all the assurance in the world expecting to prove it. The writer had the pleasure and satisfaction of accompanying President Dean on the first trip made by our Elders around the island of Upolu. At one village where we stayed over night, in the house of the village chief who was also head chief of the district, we were visited at night by some twenty Protestant native teachers who had been moving a white missionary and his family from one station to another. Hearing of the advent of Ofaifean Mamona (Mormon missionaries) in their district, they desired to interview them and confound them in argument. That this was their object, we soon discovered, as they began to ply questions from all sides of the house which was now filled with the teachers and villagers banked upon the outside, curious to hear the discussion. President Dean, who, through many years of experience on Hawaii, had become familiar with the native character, requested the teachers to choose one of their number as spokesman, and then questions would be asked back and forth, without confusion. This rule was adopted, and their spokesman asked his first question which was answered by Brother Dean.
To illustrate his replies he placed some pebbles in a row on the mat in front of him and stated that we could easily understand how the native teachers had received their authority from the white missionaries, and they from the Society in London, and they back to Martin Luther, but there the chain of succession, like the row of pebbels, ceased.
“Now," said he, "where did Martin Luther get his authority to organize the Church of Christ on the earth ?”
After consulting with his companions, their spokesman answered, "From the Bible," which was objected to, and passages were quoted proving for what purpose all scripture is given to man.
Then he said, "He received his authority from the Holy Ghost.” Objected to again, and proofs quoted from the scriptures showing the various offices of the Holy Ghost. Then he ventured
the assertion last of all, that Luther, feeling the weight of his own sins, prayed earnestly to the Lord until he felt in his heart that he was forgiven, and, therefore, his authority was assured. This last weak reply was objected to by Elder Dean, and as he began to prove from the Bible that divine authority does not come to man in that way, the native teachers became excited, and tried, by asking all sorts of questions, to turn the tide in their favor, but in vain. Then the chief reproved them for not abiding by the rules; at which their spokesman turned on him with abusive language, and was in turn ordered out of the house, with the declaration by our host that, "today I was a Taluti-Protestant, but now I am a ‘Mormon.” After the natives began quarreling among themselves, we retired, and let them settle their contention. The end of the matter was that the teachers, after inducing their spokesman to apologize to the chief, and vainly trying to persuade him to reconsider his threat to join us, they went away and sent three elders, or retired teachers, men of great influence, to labor most of that night and part of the next day to calm the anger of their muchcoveted member.
While we did not baptize our friend, yet the incident did us a great amount of good. The news of the affair preceded us around the island, and we found the natives anxiously waiting to see us and to hear all about the controversy with the teachers.
The Protestants have done their work so thoroughly on Samoa that we often felt to say, "What a pity that they lacked divine authority, and divine wisdom in the doing of these things, so that their work would not have to be done over again!" All this, because men choose to take upon themselves the authority to preach in the name of Jesus and interpert the Holy Scriptures, forgetting that "no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron."
As to the future of the Samoans and the permanency of our work among them, we cannot hope for the best results, until they are separated from their native customs. Many of these are in opposition to gospel teachings, but so strong are they that it seems almost impossible to wean the natives away from their tattooing, eating things strangled, and blood, their marriage customs, etc.
Just what effect the division of the Islands among England, Germany and the United States will have upon the religious phase of the Samoan question, we cannot determine now, but no doubt it will be interesting to see these various forms of modern governments exercised so close together, and coming so closely in contact with each other every day.
It would be cruel to bring the Samoans to our cold climate where they would have to work eight or ten hours a day, instead of a few hours now and then, for a living, as they do on Samoa. Our ceaseless work would crush their spirits, and create dissatisfaction. Some day, a more natural gathering place for them might be found in Central or South America, when our missionaries go into those countries where the climate will be similar to their island home, and where they can be reunited with their American brethren, the Lamanites, and Ephraim will teach them until they once more become a white and a delightsome people.
“Loving words will cost but little,
Journeying up the hill of life;
Stronger, braver for the strife.
What to earth are sun and rain?
Never was one said in vain.
“When the cares of life are many,
And its burdens heavy grow,
If you love them, tell them so.
Has an almost magic power,