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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: Her First Letter Home
By Catrina Bradley
01/21/09


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Rangi Hoo, New Zealand
October, 1819



Dearest Mother and Father,

My apologies for not having written sooner. The "Active" returned to dock only yesterday, bringing livestock, timber, cloth, and miscellany sundry goods including...finally! Paper and ink! I am now able to impart we arrived in New Zealand safely and in relatively good health this July past. Rev. Butler took ill for a time on the passage, which put our hearts at ill ease to be sure, (after all, who would lead us, and what would we do without his guidance after weíd arrived?), but by Godís Good Grace he has rallied and is in as near robust health (if not weight) as when we set sail.

It is also surely Godís grace that has allowed the Mission Society to acquire such marvelous land from the natives, not to mention for a very good sum. I must admit to being skeptical when I first viewed from sea where we were to land. A paltry rock and dirt beach, backed by a forest so thick with blossoming underbrush and trees bearing new leaf I could see neither passage nor promise of one.

After debarking, however, we were led along a path, which before had been hidden to me, into a bright clearing and the mission settlement. Tho tíwas only a short distance through the thicket, I was made to help carry baggage, which wearied me considerably.

You will be comforted to know that the natives (who are called the Mowri) seem quite peaceable. I know one of your concerns over my making this trip was danger from the native peoples, but your mind may now rest over that matter. With one exception, the Mowri people have proven agreeable and, more often than not, quite helpful to us.

In appearance, they are not at all like I had expected (although what that might be Iím not quite sure.) They are a tall people: long, lean, and perfectly proportioned. They carry an aspect of peace, or joy. On the whole, they are not easily impelled to anger, nor do they act in a forward manner. Much to my consternation, they are also quite immodest, and walk about in a state of near undress.

We have employed many locals to help with the work of the mission. Iíve befriended the native girl who helps me in the main house. (Iíve had to instruct Kura to dress properly when working in the house, as it is her misguided nature to go about uncovered.) In addition to household duties, Kura is teaching me the native tongue and the local culture. If I am to make a difference in this God-forsaken world, I must be able to communicate with the peoples.

For compensation in axes, hoes, and fishhooks, natives help till and plant our garden and construct the buildings necessary for the mission Ė a church (of course), school (to which Iím told the chief has already agreed to send his children), and other various lodgings and establishments.

I have previously alluded to an incident (isolated and not cusomary I assure you!) that I feel I need share with you so as not to withhold truth and in so doing commit a sin of omission.

One afternoon whilst Rev. Butler was away preaching at a sister mission, a Mowrie chief made a scene outside the house by climbing and standing atop the fence demanding axes and hoes. He was quite adamant, and for the sake of pure honesty I must tell you, also quite naked. (I promise I only caught a glimpse and from that moment on I busied my eyes elsewhere.) He ranted on for quite some time, refusing to listen to reason.

That this chief was an exception among the natives was impressed upon me by the chagrin of the other Mowrie present to witness his antics. He was in time convinced that because the Reverend was not in residence we were unable to help him, and he departed peaceably.

The natives come to us only for what goods they can acquire. They listen politely when we endeavour to teach them of the Gospel of our Lord, but God has yet to open their ears to hear the voice of His Holy Spirit. We covet your prayers that our labours may bear fruit for His Glory in the fullness of His time.

The hour grows late, and I must conserve the oil.

I miss you all terribly.

With Enduring Love,
Your Daughter
Angelica


* * * * *


Authorís Notes:
This letter is a work of fiction. The letter writerís experiences and the places she describes are real; however "Angelica" herself does not exist in New Zealandís history.

ďReverend ButlerĒ refers to Reverend John Gare Butler, the first ordained clergyman to reside in New Zealand.

Sources:
New Zealand Electronic Text Center: http://www.nzetc.org/
New Zealand History Online: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/


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This article has been read 780 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 01/22/09
The missionary life is a hard one. You've given the reader a slice of authenticity with this interesting entry.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/24/09
You showed us the culture here well through the eyes of a missionary. I like how she assured her parents she "didn't look."
Jan Ackerson 01/25/09
This is absolutely superb writing--the voice spot on for the time period. This is definitely one of my favorites for this week--wonderful writing!
Chely Roach01/25/09
What a wonderful glimpse into the missionary lifestyle; when missions were far less "predictable". Excellent writing.
Leah Nichols 01/25/09
How fun! I love your approach and how you wrote so authentically for the time period. Great job on the research too. Well done!
Eliza Evans 01/25/09
I loved this!!

The only part that didn't feel authentic to me was the telling of the naked chief and the telling of busying her eyes elsewhere.

I'm also wondering if she would have used different terminology for "pen and paper" I don't know ... I am just wondering. :)

Beautiful writing.
Wonderful entry.
Beth LaBuff 01/25/09
Your story is fascinating and sounds so authentic. Your description of the native people was so good. The "confession" of the "Mowrie chief scene" says so much about your MC.
Joy Faire Stewart01/25/09
MC voice perfect for period and the descriptions gently draw your reader into each scene she depicts. Excellent!
Karlene Jacobsen 01/26/09
A letter I would like to read from my daughter off on a mission, even the "embarrassing" moments when one must avert the eyes.
Diana Dart 01/26/09
Great entry, creative and chock full of interesting information. The voice of the MC really made it readable to me, confessions, opinions and all of that. Really nice job - hope it does well.
Dee Yoder 01/26/09
If I didn't know better, I'd think this was an authentic letter, the writing is so true to that era! This is a wonderful tale and I can't help wondering if that chief wasn't a portent of trouble to come...is there more to this story? ( I hope!)
Joanne Sher 01/27/09
Great voice. I really enjoyed this piece.
Loren T. Lowery01/28/09
You entered into the mind of the MC and we, the readers, followed willingly. It does seem so authentic and real and a great and fun way to glimpse a history and part of the world I'd never thought to study.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge01/28/09
Interesting and engaging. Really enjoyed this well written piece.
Joshua Janoski01/29/09
The language used in this piece fits very well within the time period. I felt like I was reading an authentic letter that was 100% real. Superb writing! :)