24–25 June 1843 - Father Chevron to his family, Tonga
He intends to give his family some description of his new home.
The people well built, no more bronzed than French countrymen used to working outdoors. Describes Tongan customs. Politeness to visitors. Customs very similar to those of Wallis.
Vices of the Tongans: Chevron puts pride, immorality and laziness on a par. Says something about their food, which the people at Pea bring them. Pea is inland on Tongatapu, so fish is not on the diet. Sometimes on their missionary travels they don’t have breakfast until mid-afternoon. “But God takes care of us and makes us indifferent to this way of life...”
Describes their houses, and admires what the builders can do just with an axe. Is particularly impressed by the royal tombs. The produce of the island is much like that of other tropical islands – seeds brought from Europe don’t do well. Fig tree branches brought from NZ have done very well when planted.
Describes the fort at Pea in some detail – quite impressive.
The temperatures quite pleasant 27–29° commonly in the day, never less than 18 at night. The language not greatly different from that of Wallis and Futuna – but he had learnt little Wallisian before being transferred to Tonga.
Problems in instructing about religion with limited language. Need to work with faith in the grace and power of God. However, they are received well everywhere, even among the Protestant converts.
The daily and weekly routine of missionary work is described.
Strongly believes that what has greatly helped them is their willingness to live as much as possible like the locals, eating and sleeping like them, sharing kava three times a day, sharing tools etc. Most important is their concern for the sick. The work of “the Brother” gets high praise (I note that Chevron never refers to “Brother Attale” but to “the Brother”).
Comments on the Protestant missionaries are critical – the bad example given by some.
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