’Easter Day.—I was at Tamaki chapel, a cold, bare, barn-like building of scoria, all this country being of volcanic origin. Fifty persons present perhaps: two or three faint female voices, two or three rough most discordant male voices, all the attempt at singing. No instrument of any kind. The burthen of trying to raise the tone of the whole service to a really rejoicing thankful character wholly, I suppose, upon myself, and I so unequal to it. But the happy blessed services themselves, they gradually absorbed the mind, and withdrew it from all relative and comparative ideas of externals of worship. “What a training it is here for the appreciation of the wondrous beauty of our Church services, calming all feeling of excitement and irreverent passionate zeal, and enabling one to give full scope to the joy and glory of one’s heart, without, I hope, forgetting to rejoice with reverence and moderation. Here, at Tamaki, you have nothing but the help the services themselves give, and I suppose that is very good for one in reality, though at the time it makes one feel as if something was wanting in the hearty sympathy and support of earnest fellow-worshippers. The College chapel nicely decorated.
’1st Sunday after Easter: Taurarua.—I walked in from the College yesterday afternoon, took the soldiers’ service at 9.15 A.M., Communion service and sermon at St. Matthew’s at 11, Hospital at 2.30. Preached at St. Paul’s at 6 P.M., reminding me of my Sunday’s work when I was living at St. Stephen’s. It is a comfort to have a Sunday in Auckland occasionally—more like a Sunday, with a real church, and people responding and singing.’
So passed that first year, which many an intending missionary before Patteson has found a crucial test which he has not taken into his calculations. The soreness of the wrench from home is still fresh, and there is no settled or regular work to occupy the mind, while the hardships are exactly of the kind that have not been anticipated, and are most harassing, though unsatisfying to the imagination, and all this when the health is adapting itself to a new climate, and the spirits are least in time, so that the temper is in the most likely condition to feel and resent any apparent slight or unexpected employment. No one knows how many high hopes have sunk, how many intended workers have been turned aside, by this ordeal of the first year.
Patteson, however, was accepting whatever was distasteful as wholesome training in the endurance of hardships, and soon felt the benefit he reaped from it. The fastidiousness of his nature was being conquered, his reluctance to rebuke forced out of being a hindrance, and no doubt the long-sought grace of humility was rendered far more attainable by the obedient fulfilment of these lowly tasks.
The Melanesian isles. 1856-1857.