How remarkable, is the date of the following thoughts, almost like a foreboding:—
’September 19th, 10 A.M. (to the sisters).—We are drawing near Santa Cruz, about 100 miles off. How my mind is filled with hopes, not unmingled with anxiety. It is more than eleven years since we sought to make an opening here, and as yet we have no scholar. Last year, I went ashore at a large village called Taive, about seven miles from the scene of our disaster. Many canoes came to us from that spot, and we stood in quite close in the vessel, so that people swam off to us.
’They are all fighting among the various villages and neighbouring islets of the Reef Archipelago, twenty miles north of the main island. It is very difficult what to do or how to try to make a beginning. God will open a door in His own good time. Yet to see and seize on the opportunity when given is difficult. How these things make one feel more than ever the need of Divine guidance, the gift of the Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel and ghostly strength. To human eyes it seems almost hopeless. Yet other islanders were in a state almost as hopeless apparently. Only there is a something about Santa Cruz which is probably very unreal and imaginary, which seems to present unusual difficulties. In a few days, I may, by God’s goodness, be writing to you again about our visit to the group. And if the time be come, may God grant us some opening, and grace to use it aright!
’At Piteni, Matama, Nupani, Analogo, I can talk somewhat to the people, who are Polynesians, and speak a dialect connected with the Maori of New Zealand. I think that the people of Indeni (the native name for Santa Cruz) are also more than half Polynesians; but I don’t know a single sentence of their language properly. I can say nothing about it. They destroy and distort their organs of pronunciation by excessive use of the betel-nut and pepper leaf and lime, so that no word is articulately pronounced. It is very hard to catch the sounds they make amidst the hubbub on deck or the crowds on shore; yet I think that if we had two or three lads quietly with us at Norfolk Island, we should soon make out something.
’Don’t think I am depressed by this. I only feel troubled by the sense that I frequently lose opportunities from indolence and other faults. I am quite aware that we can do very little to bring about an introduction to these islanders; and I fully believe that in some quite unexpected way, or at all events in some way brought about independently of our efforts, a work will be begun here some day, in the day when God sees it to be fit and right.
’September 27th.—Leaving Santa Cruz we came to this group from Ulava with light fair winds; left Ulava on Saturday at 6 P.M., and sighted the island, making the west side of Graciosa Bay on the next Wednesday; sea quite smooth; thermometer reached 92 degrees.