Falemlima, Savaii Samoa

Mrs. L. A. Hickman
Benjamin, Utah, USA

Dear Grandma,

I received your most welcome letter and was very glad to learn that you were still enjoying good health and strength.  I was also really surprised when I opened the envelope and found it was from you, as I had begun to think that you had all forgotten me way off here in the South sea islands.  I have written to several of the family but have not heard from any of them but you.  I think it has been something like a year since I wrote to you.  But the year has passed as though it was wheels, and seems to me but a few short months since writing before.

I have also been changed around quite a bit; on the tenth of April last year I was transferred from the Upolu Conference to this the Savaii Conference.  On reaching this island I was appointed to labor with another Elder (E. P. Christensen) in Siufaga.  I labored there about two months, during that time I did a great deal of studying on the language, and I had begun to understand quite a bit.  At the end of that time I was appointed to labor with Elder J. T. Blake in Falelima, the extreme end of Savaii (or as the natives call it “o le tau muli o le lalolagi” “(or the end of the world”.)

On our trip to Falelima we had several miles of fresh lava to cross.  We also had the pleasure to go in land about 15 miles and visit the great Savaii active volcano, at that time the largest in the world.  It is a sight seldom seen but if ever seen never forgotten.  While making the ascent to the crest of the crater we tried to picture in our minds what a volcano would look like.  Long before reaching the top we had to walk through strong gases and over rough lava and below us we could hear a rolling grumbling noise as though a heavy surf were on and beating against an iron bound coast.  This made us rather timid as we did not know at what hour or minute the top of the mountain would be running over with red hot lava, or whether the rock and earth would give way under our feet and we would be swept in to a lake of fire, but the greatest surprise and wonderment was waiting for us.  On reaching the edge of the crater, we were both surprised that for some time we could not speak to one another, but rather seemed as a dream, as it seemed almost impossible to us that there could be such a power hidden in one small mountain.

Down below us about 500 feet was a lake of red hot boiling, bubbling, roaring lava about one fourth of a mile long and 250 feet wide, and from eight large vents, each probably as large as your house, lava was rushing down the hill side to the ocean, and at that place great volumes of steam was rising into the air and forming clouds that reached across the heavens. It has been said by scientists that have visited that place that there was enough steam going into the air, if harnessed, to run all the ships and machinery in the world. It is about 15 to 17 miles form the volcano to where the lava runs into the ocean and some times there is a continual stream of lava six miles wide.

We stayed at the volcano all night to get a look at it by night.  We carried large limbs and large pieces of wood to the top of the hill as we wished to throw them into the lava below, but to our great surprise nothing would drop down as the gases were so strong and rising so fast that they would just float in the air and sometimes would go the full length of the crater and then drop on the side.  We also threw rocks in but they would be carried through the air to the other side or be driven back to where we were.

We arrived at Falellima after a seven days trip.  I was put to work teaching an English school and Brother Blake taught the Samoan school.  We were here together till August, then Brother Blake was called to take the Presidency of this Conference and I was left alone here.

In October, Conference was held at Sauniati, a distance of about 175 miles from here, so on the 20th of September, myself and some of the Saints left here for Saunistu, we had another hard trip due to not having a very good boat crew and a very rough sea and bad weather.  On the first and second of October we held the largest Conference ever held at Sauniati.  At each session an over-flow meeting was held for all of the young folks. I spoke on the "Life of Christ" in the over-flow meeting.  In our Priesthood meeting I was again appointed to labor in Falelima and was given Elder J. E. Butler, a newcomer for a partner.  On our return trip we had a very nice time. Elder Butler stayed with me for a while and then left for the other end of the island and Conference Pres. Blake came and helped me in my schools for some time.  Then he left and I was left alone to teach both schools, one, the Samoan school, from 6 a.m. till 10 a.m. and the English school from 10 a.m. till two or three p.m. It also worked a hardship on me to get something to preach on, as I have had to preach every Sunday sometimes four times and a person cannot talk on faith, Repentance and Baptism all the time.

We have had a great deal of sickness here of late.... last Tuesday I held the services over the remains of a little baby about 2 years old.

Since coming to Savaii the Lord has blessed me a great deal in regards to the language, also the gospel and now I am able to talk quite freely and in many cases find I can explain myself much better than I can in English. I also like to talk in this language as it seems like music to my ears. Myself and some of the Saints are building me a house to live in, and I hope to be in it before long....I am enjoying good health and strength, an am contented and happy with my work here, and time seems to fly on wings.

Well, dear Grandma, I was filled with joy to learn that you were well, and would give most anything to sit down by your side and take some of the good counsel you used to give me, but that I did not receive, and also to have the chance of gathering the eggs, milking “Old Jersey” and have access to your cupboard for a few minutes.  You told me of all the young folks getting married in Benjamin, but you did not tell me how Uncle Charley and family and Aunt Eunice and family were getting along. When you see them give them my love and best wishes.  How are all of the folks getting along? I Uncle Charley still doing well on the farm?  I was glad to hear that Thomas Leslie had done so well on his mission and he was now returning home in honor.  Give him my congratulations on his success and best wishes for a happy future for him and Mrs. Ludlow Richardson.

Well, Grandma, I have now written you all of the news, so I will close with love to all at Benjamin and also wishing to hear from you again soon.

From your loving Grandson    Dee

Sa'u ma le alofa tele o Etuma

P.S. Did you ever see Leo L. Gardener from Salem that was down here on a mission?

Letter from Edwin Hickman to his parents

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Last updated on February 13, 2000
© copyright 2000, Vivian Karen Bush