Continuing the story of my ancestors, headed to Hawaii…
Amos and Juliette Cooke were onboard the Mary Frazier from Dec.1836-April 1837. Juliette’s journal and letters tell of their journey in great detail.
The missionaries might have had little time to train before their departure, but the voyage itself provided plenty of time for preparing themselves in many ways. Juliette received much practical experience in homemaking as she learned to be creative in dealing with limited resources onboard the ship.
Mr. C. having lost his cap overboard has been obliged to confine himself to his palm-leaf hat. It occurred to me yesterday that I could make him one from the cape of his old cloak, which he could spare very well. I have succeeded so well that the Captain says that he thinks I shall make the best missionary wife on board. I suppose that he means to make caps, but I hope that I shall have some better qualifications than this, as caps will not be wanted at the Islands. (91, Juliette)
Some more description of their daily activities, which I found somewhat amusing…
Last night some of our company sat up all night to study the Hawaiian language, because the vocabulary is in use every minute of the day. I have been studying today very closely and feel the need of exercise very much, although I have taken at odd intervals our usual skip. I believe that I have never told you about our exercise. Almost every scheme is tried in order to get exercise. The skip, however, is the favorite, being the most violent. Two of us take hold of hands and cross the quarter deck with a step similar to what I used to call Double-the-hop, then turn around & go back the same way. Some have tried whipping each other’s backs after sitting a long time when they did not wish to go on deck. Found this to answer very well. The gentlemen jump rope, go up mast head. This was considered a feat at first, but has become quite common. (96-97, Juliette)
Juliette’s deep revelation:
Yesterday was my birthday. Twenty-five years have I spent in the world and how little have I accomplished. One quarter of a century gone and all my work yet to do. Let me keep this constantly before my mind, and do with my might what my hands find to do the little time I have remaining for the night of death is at hand in which no man can work. Hitherto the Lord has led me on, and He has led me by a way that I knew not. Let me render praise and thanksgiving to His name. (101, Juliette)
After arrival in Honolulu, Juliette describes what is on her heart.
Here, I think, is the place for me to labor. This people is in a deplorable condition-so much of sin, oppression and degradation that they are evidently decreasing very fast. It is estimated that in 30 years they will be no more unless the missionaries can, by enlightening them and endeavoring to do them good, stop them in the ways of vice in which they are so swiftly traveling. Oh, how can American citizens of our own native land come here and sow the seeds of sin? tempt these inhabitants to go into the depths of wickedness? And yet it is even so. My heart bleeds for this people to do them good. (122, Juliette)
It’s interesting to read her straightforward assessment of the natives’ spiritual condition. Although the missionaries might have carried some prejudice with them, it is refreshing to read observations that are free from modern-day political correctness. Juliette does not hesitate to call the sinful behavior anything other than what it is: a vice. Not an “alternative lifestyle” or the “exercise of personal freedom,” but a harmful way of life which leads to death. Yet Juliette does not ignore her own country’s role in leading them down this wicked path, and seeks to “do them good,” not create another stumbling block.