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June 1851


3 June 1851 • Tuesday

I received a letter this morning from Bro. Keeler at Lahaina with another enclosed from Bro. [Henry] Bigler Honolulu; Bro. K. had also received two letters directed to me <one> from Bro. [Hiram] Clark and the other from Bros. [Thomas] Whittle and [John] Dixon Cal [California]. There was no news Bro. K. said from Bro. C. of any importance he had arrived at Tahiti and was going to start to Tabooai <Toobuai> the place where Bro. A. [Addison] Pratt and family resided; he wrote nothing about the brethren there.1 His passage had taken 25 days; his money was out and he had to go on credit to Bro. P’s place which would cost him $20. He wants us to write him our success.—Bro. Whittle & Dixon’s passage to San Francisco occupied 43 days it was <a> rough one and they were all sea sick at the commencement; times were hard at S. F. and they had heard it was so in the Mines. They wrote nothing about Bro. [Hiram] Blackwell whether dead or alive. They promise to write every opportunity and want us to reciprocate. They say that Jeptha [Jephtha] Condit one of our acquaintance in the mines has married the relict [widow] of Wm. Squiers [Squires]. Their letter is dated March 31st/51. I was delighted with Bro. Bigler’s letter he wrote in good spirits and his letter breathed an excellent spirit. Bro. [William] Farrer had left him & had gone to [the] other side of the Island. Bro. B. had written to him but had learned that Bro. F. had left to go round the island and would be back soon; Bro. B’s letter was dated May 14th; he had obtained a home with a gentleman of the name of J. [Iaone] W. E. Maikai a native lawyer in Honolulu and Judge in a place close to Honolulu called Waikiki; Bro. B. had been living with him a week when he wrote his letter; the Judge was beleiving and several others; he was anxious for Bro. B. to stay with him; he had been very kind to him and gave him a good cap and had offered to buy some shirts &c.; he had fitted up a costly bed with musquito bars [nets] &c. for the special accommodation of Bro. B. I thought it was very evident that the Lord’s hand had been with us for good since our arrival at the Islands. I believe it only remains for us to do our part and we will have everything made plain before us and our way opened. It stirred me up considerably reading his letter. Bro. Keeler is striving as hard as possible to acquire the language. he is still living at the same place. He writes in a good spirit not at all discouraged at the difficulties he has to contend with to get the language; he feels rather lonesome and if I had time would like to see me at Lahaina.

4–14 June 1851 • Wednesday–Saturday

A Native by the name of KaLeohano came and stopped at the house I was stopping in and we eat together; he told his brother [Maiola] that he thought it his duty to provide me with food; he knew how I had been living up to this time. I had did not get anything extra, poi and fish or meat was the common food and <for> this I was thankful to my heavenly Father; Fish and meat are dear and the poi has to be brought a considerable distance. I preferred the poi to the Irish potatoes.2 I have been engaged striving to make myself more perfect in the language. I have heard no news from any of the brethren up to this time. I heard to-day (Saturday) that Mr. Napela had been discharged from his office of Luna Kanawai or Judge and a man by the name of Kaauwai, his brother in law put in his place. From the best information I could get, they considered N. did not set a very good example indulging a little oftener than they considered consistent in drinking beer; no good brother in their church tasting the article. Mr. Green I understand made out a petition and had all it signed by his members to have him removed. I cannot find out that his being friendly to me has had any particular effect except probably to bring it to a head a little sooner; the avowed causes of dissatisfaction are of older standing than our acquaintance.

15 June 1851 • Sunday

Mr. Napela’s men had been building a new house in which he told me when it was finished I might preach; his men moved in a few days ago and they spoke to me about having meeting in it to-day. I told them I would so I accordingly went there this morning. I had not a very crowded house; nor the congregation did not <get> a very eloquent sermon. No prisoner under sentence of death dreaded the approach of the hour of execution more than I did the approach of the hour of this meeting; me I who had never attempted to speak before an assembly in my own mother tongue but few times in my life; and now to preach in a foreign tongue; it made me nervous to think about it, and I almost felt to shrink from it; I knew that nothing but the spirit of the Lord could sustain me, and I felt to cry unto [Him] to assist me in this my time of need. And he did assist me I done a great deal better than I could have expected, although it was weak. I preached upon the first principles and bore my testimony to them of the truth of these things and of [the] Lord having [sent] them from the heavens with the authority to preach them. I then told them if any wished to obey the message I would go with them and baptise them. Several of them went to one side to talk as I supposed about it, one of them told me afterwards that they thought it best not to be in a hurry and asked me what I thought about [it]. I told them if they believed in Jesus and repented and forsook their sins it was all that they need wait for.3 In the afternoon had meeting at 3 o’clock I preached on the necessity of the Lord renewing his covenant with man showing that the covenant <made> in the days of the Savior had been broken &c. &c.4

There was another meeting appointed for the afternoon of Wednesday. I felt considerably releived when I had got through the services of the day. I pray that the Lord will take this dread away from me as it is a very disagreeable feeling and one I want to overcome I want it to be with me that I will consider it a privilege and pleasure to have the opportunity of telling these things and testifying of them before men; I know it is the feeling I ought to have.

16 June 1851 • Monday

Engaged reading &c. &c. to-day.

17 June 1851 • Tuesday

Some of the men who live close bye told me they had seen my partner, at Kalepolepo last night; they having been there with potatoes; they wanted him to get on the cart and come up, but he thought he would stay until <morning> as it was late and he had gone to bed when they found him. It was thro’ Mr. Napela that they knew of him being there; he having seen him, and told they people when his man came down to tell him to call for him and take him up in the cart. I supposed that it must be Bro. Keeler; started down to meet him in time as I thought to meet him several miles from here; but had not travelled more than half a mile when I met him. He was well and we were glad to meet together again <after> our seperation of nearly eight weeks. He had received a letter directed to me from Bro. [Howard] Egan Mercede [Merced] River Cal. also one from Bro. Whittle & Bro. Dixon. Bro. E’s letter was dated Mar. 14 he had received my letter a few days before; he was well having recovered from his sickness that he had when we left Cal.; he is butchering and wagoning the beef off to sell; he has not done very much this last winter; he says Capt. [Jefferson] Hunt and the brethren went home the South Route last winter.5 And that the mail has arrived from the [Salt Lake] Valley by the South Route but he cannot find the letters. He did not send the money by them not being on the spot in time, and if he had been there not thinking it scarcely safe. Bro’s. W. & D’s letter was written at Greenwood Valley; Bro. D. had been down and seen Bro. E. at the Mercede and had obtained the money. Times were dull in the mines the brethren hom[e]sick and in debt, which Bro. W. thinks are two hard complaints. The general cry was of those who wanted to go the Valley to start the 1st. Sept. The[y] report the deaths of Bro. James Douglas and Bro. Beech but do not write any of the particulars. They have also heard that in general, peace and prosperity prevails in the Valley; there have been four deaths there that they report Bishop [Newel K.] Whitney, Father [David] Sessions Mrs. Bradford Elliott and Dianthia Clayton. They also write the marriage of Ira West to a spanish girl.—I was grieved to hear of deaths as well as surprised at some. The church has sustained a loss in the death of Bro. Whitney, a man who has stood firm from the beginning in the midst of all the troubles and persecutions heaped upon the Church; he was said to be one the best business men in the Church.—I was surprised to hear of the death of Mrs. Clayton. when I left home she was in the bloom of life as far as appearances went, I thought when there in looking round upon the congregation that she was one of the handsomest women in the Valley.—

Bro. Keeler’s progress so he told me had not been very rapid in the acquirement of the language but he was not at all discouraged but felt that time with the assistance of the Spirit would yet make him master of it. He had been living at Lahaina in the house of Nalimanui up to the time of his leaving there; he had got three white men to reading our books, they were favorably inclined. He brought no word from Bro. Hawkins[.] it seems <to me> singular the silence of Bro. H. His <Bro. K’s>6 residence in Lahaina he began to think irksome.

18 June 1851 • Wednesday

No meeting this afternoon as we expected everybody being so busy they could not very well attend.

19 June 1851 • Thursday

Engaged variously.

20 June 1851 • Friday

do do. do

21 June 1851 • Saturday

This evening one of the men that was at last Sunday’s meeting came in, he wanted to speak <to me> he said, he then told me he wanted to be baptised, it was arranged to go in the morning and attend to it. We had meeting this evening I endeavored to show to them the importance of obeying the commandments and not to delay. It was a cross to me this evening to speak and hard work.

22 June 1851 • Sunday

Went up this morning and attended to the baptising, there were three or four accompanied us. I gave out a hymn which sung I then offered up prayer, and then attended to the baptism, the water was up to the pit of <my> stomach making it an easy business to baptize a heavy person; it was standing rain in a rocky basin; that being the only kind of water there is up in this country.—Spoke on the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the Last days &c. &c. After meeting called upon those to obey the truth and to make it known to me and I would accompany them whenever they wished to go; there four [therefore] stepped three young men and one woman. We went up straitway and attended to it. Before baptism they covenanted to forsake their sins and do right.—In the afternoon spoke upon the offices of the spirit and its operations, I have not felt the spirit of the Lord more sensibly since I have been upon the Islands than I did this afternoon, and the people felt it; we attended to the confirmation. Several of the people remarked that the power of God was there. After returning to the house where I stopped, I was joined by a man . . . [who] told me that he wanted to turn to <a> man of God; he was a deacon in this church [Congregationalist] at this place; but says he, I have been a hypocrite. I have committed adultery etc. etc. etc. but I want to change to be a servant of the Lord, I want you to pray for me; he was very much affected, the tears coursing down his cheeks; he proposed we knelt down, and he commenced praying, while praying his brother came in and knelt down; after he had finished I prayed, as soon as I had done [his brother] commenced. I felt the Spirit of the Lord very much and could scarcely refrain from weeping; they felt it also very sensibly both of them, both of them being melted to tears. I felt to praise the Lord for his goodness this day. I had been enabled by his spirit to explain some things to the people few as they were that I had been sent to teach; and there had five covenanted to do his will, and had attended to the first requirements of the gospel.7

23 June 1851 • Monday

Wrote a letter to Bro. Bigler8 also one in Native to his host Mr. Maikai it being my first attempt at correspondence in the Native; I also wrote a letter to Bro. Hawkins.

24 June 1851 • Tuesday

Commenced to write home to-day.

25 June 1851 • Wednesday

Had meeting this afternoon, I felt very weak and when I first arose to speak could scarcely stand. I requested them to pray for me that I might be enabled to unfold unto them the principles of truth; and I was strengthened.

26–28 June 1851 • Thursday–Saturday

Busily engaged writing letters home. In the evening of Saturday had meeting. I attempted to speak upon the millenium but I believe I was more destitute this evening of ideas and words than I have been at any time previous. I told the people I was destitute and I could <not>9 preach unless the spirit gave it to me to tell.10 they11 fault might be with me I did not know. I could not tell what the cause was unless it arose from my expressing a wish to Bro. Keeler that there would be no meeting this evening; and by thus doing grieving the spirit by manifesting a reluctance to magnify my office. These feelings of dread are terrible;12 when I shall be able to overcome them I cannot tell. I feel as if they were to continue very long, that I should either turn grey or lose my hair.—The only thing that consoles me is I know if I persevere I shall gain the approbation of my Heavenly Father. I am upon his business and if I only do my duty he will not desert me;—these feelings are equally as bad as I ever anticipated they would be, I feel as though I were nothing and sometimes feel as though I never would be. But I pray to the Almighty that he will strengthen me and bestow upon me his spirit that I <may>13 be deprived of these feelings and abound in every thing necessary to magnify my office as an Elder.

29 June 1851 • Sunday

Spoke this morning upon the gathering of Israel and other subjects connected with it; in fact it was <is> difficult for me to convey my ideas in the Native they seem as to find vent all in one channel with one set of words; it sounds monotonous to me I do not know how it sounds to them; but I think if my discourses were to be translated into English they would be a curious jumble, but I don’t know how they sound to them. I called upon them as usual if any wished to obey the message I would accompany them; five requested to be attended <to>14 among the rest Maiola & Pake they were all males. In afternoon exhorted them to diligence &c. and attended to the confirmation of those baptised, while laying hands on some [of] these I felt the spirit very powerfully upon me; so powerfully that I could not tell whether I was standing upon the ground or where I was.—Bro. Keeler expressed to me this evening the idea of leaving in the morning, as he thought he could not gain the language by stopping here as he would not talk native while I was bye and thought it best to endeavor to find a place where he could converse freely he said he had no intention when he came up of staying as long as he had. I was sorry to hear his determination to leave, but did not attempt to dissuade him as I felt that it would be the best for him, as I had not heard him speak a dozen words in Native since coming here; and by travelling and mixing and conversing with the natives it would give him confidence.15

29 June 1851 • Sunday Evening

This evening after meeting a man came with me to the house, who he was in the employ of Mr. Napela and after some conversation, he asked me if there was any objection on my part to attendin baptise him this evening. he had been believing some time. I told him no; we accordingly repaired to the spot, and I baptised him and afterwards confirmed him at the waters’ edge.

30 June 1851 • Monday

Bro. K. started this morning I accompanied him some distance on the road and parted with regret and prayers for safety and prosperity.

Footnotes

  1. [1]Tubuai is located approximately four hundred miles south of Tahiti and is the first place Pratt and other Latter-day Saint missionaries visited in French Polynesia in 1844. Works on the French Polynesian Mission include Ellsworth and Perrin, Seasons of Faith and Courage; Ellsworth, Journals of Addison Pratt, 105–497; Ellsworth, History of Louisa Barnes Pratt, 125–84; Britsch, Unto the Islands of the Sea, 3–90; Lyman, Payne, and Ellsworth, No Place to Call Home, 95–163.

  2. [2]Kaleohano was desirous of providing Cannon with “food of a better quality than that which he hitherto had subsisted upon” (Hawaiian Honolulu Mission Manuscript History, June 15, 1851). Cannon later left a more descriptive account of the food he ate while living in the Kula:

    “My training during the first two years of our settlement of Salt Lake valley, when we were pinched for food, was of excellent service to me during the days of which I write. I should have thought the meager diet we had in the valley, rich living if I had had it then. . . . Potatoes grew spontaneously there; but the country was too warm for them; this, together with the lack of cultivation, made them very poor. The potato when good was not a vegetable I liked very much. But here I could get nothing else, excepting whortleberries, which grew wild, and which I frequently picked and ate, until one day they made me sick. . . . I might have eaten the potatoes better if I could have had salt to eat with them; but this article they were out of just then. The only thing eatable beside the potatoes was molasses. I have never liked to eat potatoes and molasses together since then. I well recollect how I enjoyed a meal of poi on one occasion during this time. The kalo out of which it was made, had been cooked and pounded at some distance from there. . . . It had been warm when packed, which, with the heat of the weather, had made it sour and maggotty. . . . My potato and molasses diet had removed all my fastidiousness about what I ate, and I thought this poi the sweetest food I had ever tasted. Some people eat maggotty cheese because they like it; I ate this poi because it was the best and most palatable food I had tasted for weeks” (Cannon, My First Mission, 33–34).

  3. [3]Traditionally, the Congregationalist missionaries had required a trial period of around six months before an individual could join their church. But, as William Farrer explained, the practice of the Latter-day Saints was “as soon as a person beleived the gospel & repented of his sins & came forward with a desire to obey the commandments of the Savior that we baptized them for the remission of sins according to the words of Peter on the day of Penticost” (Farrer diary, July 13, 1851). Later, John Woodbury noted that an individual desiring to join the Congregationalists “was amediately admitted to the sacrement, a thing that was never practised before the mormons came” (Woodbury diary, Apr. 19, 1853).

  4. [4]Cannon provided a third-person account of his early speaking experiences in My First Mission:

    “They called the people together by blowing a conch shell. When skillfully blown, one of these can be heard at a long distance. As the hour approached for meeting, it was customary to commence blowing the shell, and then our young missionary would be seized with trembling. The feeling of dread was terrible. He had been in places of peril where life was in danger; but he never felt as he did about preaching. . . .

    “. . . The people had never before had the privilege of hearing a sermon delivered by a Latter-day Saint. You can imagine how he felt. Here was a people anxious to hear, and yet how weak he was, and how full of fear and trembling! When he arose to give out the hymn the sound of his voice in that large building scared him. . . . He had called mightily upon God for help. When he commenced to speak the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him as it never had done before. . . . For upwards of an hour he spoke, and he was so carried away in the Spirit that he was like a man in a trance” (Cannon, My First Mission, 3).

  5. [5]Cannon had traveled this southern route to the California gold fields in 1849. For an overview of the route and Cannon’s account of his journey, see Landon, To California in ’49.

  6. [6]Insertion added later in brown pen.

  7. [7]Reflecting upon these events, Cannon later recalled, “I thought it one of the best days in my life” (Cannon, My First Mission, 35).

  8. [8]See Appendix 2, Item 4.

  9. [9]Added later in brown ink.

  10. [10]Cannon and his fellow missionaries did not prepare their sermons beforehand but instead sought to follow the Savior’s admonition to continually treasure up the “words of life,” trusting that they would then receive inspiration about what to say (Luke 12:11–12; D&C 84:85).

  11. [11]Crossed out later in brown ink.

  12. [12]Semicolon added later in brown ink.

  13. [13]Added later in brown ink.

  14. [14]Added later in brown ink.

  15. [15]Cannon placed an asterisk in the margin near the end of this entry, along with a note in brown ink that reads, “See next page but one.” The reference is to a second entry for June 29, which initially was written after the July 2 entry. That second June 29 entry has been included at this point for continuity.