Falemlima, Savaii Samoa
June 15, 1910
Dear Folks at home,
It has been some time since I heard from you, but will try and write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and think of you often. This evening we heard that a boat would leave for Apia early in the morning so we are staying up late to write a few lines to our loved ones.
I am well and felling fine. Yesterday we reached here after a 125 mile walk. I will relate a little of our trip. Saturday, June 4th, we held Elders Meeting, at Lalamolava, as the two Elders from this place came in that day, a distance of 60 miles around the island from the west. After meeting I went to Sinfauga to hold a meeting and Sunday School there with a new missionary. The first meeting we had a testimony meeting, then sunday school, then afternoon meeting. In the afternoon meeting I spoke for some time and told the people that I had been called to the other end to labor and thanked them for their kindness to me while I was there and had charge of the branch. I then called on the man at the head of the family that we were staying with. He spoke a few minutes, thanked me for my labors in their behalf.
The next morning the Elders from Lalamalava came up and after having a big dinner, Br. J. T. Blake from Vineyard, Utah and myself left for Falelima, the opposite way from the one they had come. The first night we slept at Lann. We did not get there till dark, but the people killed a chicken for us and we had a nice supper. The next day we walked through several miles of bush and over several miles of the new lava bed that was made a few years ago by the now active volcano. That night we slept at Lealatele. We were not fed very good that night, but we both got in a very good gospel conversation. the next day we started out without any breakfast and only one niu, or coconut, to drink on the way. After walking a half a mile through the bush we came to the lava bed again and for 14 long miles we could see nothing but black rough lava to walk upon. Away to the right of the trail and in front of us we could see two large volumes of steam rising from the ocean. We decided to go and take a look at it. After walking for some time we arrived at the coast. There we saw a very pretty sight. When the wind would blow the steam out to sea we could see several large streams of red molten lava running to the ocean as if it were water or wine. To us as we were looking on, it seemed to me as though the great waves were being burned by the hot lava, and were angry and that they were putting all their force into the large rolling mountains of water as it came in to destroy the fire or the red hot lava, as they would come in with a wild rush and roar, but each time it was the same, nothing but a big explosion which sent rocks and water from 25 to 75 feet in the air, and enough steam to turn all the machinery in the world, it seemed to me. But, as the waters rolled back, the red lines of lava were still there as if there was not any water within miles of it.
After watching this great sight for some time we drank the niu (coconut) we had carried down there and started back for the trail. On our way we came to large piles of rock that had been piled up. We climbed up the rough surface to the top and looked, to our great surprise, into a very large hole in the center that had been made by the tunnel (that the lava ran through being stopped up at the end and the gases and steam generating such a force that for about 500 feet long and from 150 to 200 feet wide it had blown up huge boulders, some larger than the house that you live in, making a regular mountain of them.
After looking at this sight and other places and different formations of the lava, we started back for the trail. We passed unknowingly and walked for several miles over the rough lava away from the trail. When we came to the edge of the bush Br. Blake said he could go no further, so I decided to go on into the bush a ways and look for the trail while Bro. Blake sat down to rest. After going half a mile I came to a small patch of coconuts and I can tell you that I had plenty to drink for once. I took one out to the lava and beckoned Br. Blake to come. After he had drank his niu we went back in the bush to rest awhile. While in there we both tried to climb a niu tree to get some nius, but it was out of our line of business, and after trying several times each, Bro. Blake at last succeeded and threw down 5 or 6. After drinking these, we started back over the lava the way we had come, as Bro. Blake was sure the trail was back there and that we had passed it. After walking for an hour we came up on the trail. the trail was very dim as the bare feet of the natives do not wear much of a trail on the lava. We walked about 6 or 8 miles more to Matautau. That day we had walked over several buried villages where at one time there were thriving branches of the L.D.S. Church. We passed and examined the walls of 8 large cement meeting houses, one of which was two storied like those that were one story were just even with the top of the lava. Where we reached about 500 feet was a lake of boiling, bubbling red lava, about 1/4 miles long and about 250 yards wide. I can explain it to you to the best of my knowledge, but you will never know what a lake of boiling lava looks like until you see one. At first we were almost too amazed to say anything but "What do you know about that." It looked as if Hell itself had broken loose, (If hell is as hot as that place I am going to try and go to the other place of heaven.)
The noise that it made was like the breakers of the ocean dashing against an iron bound coast or the noise of a large factory foundry or machine shop, when all the machinery is going at full blast. There were 8 places where the lava was running out of when we came, but after watching it for awhile some of the places closed up, this causing the lava to rise until it had busted out in some other places. Sometimes there were only three holes for the lava to run off and the lava would rise so fast that it would rise above these holes and for the steam and gases to escape from the hole they would have to blow the lava up and at times would shoot lava from 25 to 100 feet in the air and would soon force its way out of another veil. We watched the angry boiling and rushing lava for sometime. I picked up the top of a tin can and threw it out in the air above the lava and to our great surprise it would not go down into the lava, but would sail this way and that and up and down due to the heat and gases that were rising. We then went to the foot of the mountain and brought up four or five large sticks or poles and threw them in to see them burn, but the gases and heart were so strong the pole would be thrown to the sides of craters where it would stay. We then went down to the foot of the mountain again and prepared a bed of banana poles and had supper as it was about dark.
Again about 9 p.m. we visited the fire to see it by night, but due to so much light from the reflections of the fire on the clouds it was about the same as in the day. We then went to our bed. We spent a very miserable night due to the rain, mosquitoes and the cold. We again looked at the fire early in the morning, had our breakfast and started back to Safuni. We ate dinner there and then walked about 8 miles in the bush to Letui where we stayed all night with the Taeheilian missionary. The next day being Sunday we attended his meetings and Monday morning started off on a 20 mile walk without anything to eat. We reached Talelime at 12 noon. There we got a meal that we both relished and also eeded.
When we reached Matautau we went into a house and they gave us some dry talo to eat and that was the first we had had all day, and this was 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We went to another place that night to sleep. The next day we walked to Safuni about 4 hrs. walk. We rested that afternoon and prepared for a trip to the volcano.... after walking 12 miles we met a man hunting wild pigs and he told us that there was no water there unless it was raining, so Bro. Blake took our native boy with him and walked back five miles where they came to coconut trees. The boy went up the tree and pulled down 15 nius and put them in a basket he made and they returned. While they were gone I watched our food, which consisted of seaman crackers, which are hard as bricks, three cans of cheap salmon, and two cans of beef (1/2 lb. tin). We then walked on about 16 miles farther before we came to the volcano. As we came within five miles of that place we came to the belt of great giant dead tress, some were standing and some fallen. They were all white and gave one the feeling that he might be trodding on forbidden land or through a graveyard. As we neared the crater large clouds of smoke and gases hid the sun from our view, and sometime before we reached the crater we could hear the grumbling noise under foot, on arriving at the foot of the volcano we found large cracks in the lava with hot sulphur gases shoot forth. As we were ascending the crater we were trying to picture in our minds what it would look like, but on arriving at the crest of the bowl we were greatly surprised. The sight that came to view was one of the most beautiful, most powerful, that I every saw in my life down below us.
All in all we had a good trip, nobody the worse for wear, except it was our shoes which were about all in.
Well, I am feeling well and happy and am interested in my work more than I have been heretofore. I am also doing nicely in the language since coming over there, at least the Elders say that they can see a big difference and I can myself, thank goodness. The mosquitoes are very thick here and almost send a man mad. How are all of you at home and what are you doing? Well I cannot think of any more to say, only write often and let me know how you all are. With love and best wishes to you all.
From your loving Brother & Son Dee
P. S. Father, will you please send me one dozen pair of shoe soles... Shoe soles in this country are 75 cents a pair and are not very good at that, so I will be very glad if you will send them as soon as you can. Will [you] give my alofa and regards to the folks up North when you see them or write to them (Also I am out of money and in debt)??
Father, Brother Blake asked to be remembered to you, he said he remembered you as he was a worker in the YMMIA at Vineyard when you were President of the YMMIA of Utah Stake. He is a very nice young man and we get along together fine. Next week I will start to teaching the English school... the only English school in German Samoa. Dee
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