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From Br. D. K. Suhl.
Genadendal, March 20th, 1850.
We have had, since January last, some opportunities of proclaiming the word of salvation beyond the borders of our own congregation, which we have gladly embraced. Once br. Kuehn and at another time myself, rode to Caledon, and there performed the service in the mission chapel for the Rev. Mr. Knobol, who had been obliged to go to Cape Town; and twice br. Kcelbing went to Bosjesveld, where a new preaching place had been opened in the house of a pious farmer. Bosjesveld is the high valley through which the Breede river flows, along the northern side of the Genadendal mountain range; and the farmers living there, of Dutch extraction, can but seldom enjoy the means of grace.
Of visitors here during the last months, I may mention the Rev. Mr. Sandberg, of the Established Reformed church, a German by birth. He expressed himself highly pleased with every thing he saw.
The most important event of which I have at present to write is the blessed celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the dedication of our church, the first erected in this colony for a Hottentot congregation. The appropriate decoration of the building, the fine weather, the favorable season, just at the end of harvest, in consequence of which not only most of our own people were enabled to be present, but also a number of our friends and neighbors,— contributed much to increase the enjoyment of the festival. We expected great things, but the Lord gave more than we ventured to hope for; yea, He was indeed sensibly with us, and showered His blessings down from on high upon us and our dear flock, so that the dry hearts were refreshed, and His gracious presence was felt anew in all our meetings in a most powerful manner.
This was peculiarly the case in the morning service held by br. Teutsch, in which, after alluding to the blessings of two former jubilees in 1836 and 1842, which he had been favored to celebrate here with the congregation, he referred to the importance of the present festival. On his delivering the congratulations of brethren and sisters in other places, as especially those of our superintending Board, the congregation returned heartfelt thanks, with one united voice. He then referred to the many hundreds of our departed brethren and sisters, who, together with the departed teachers who have ministered here, are now before the throne of the Lamb, thanking God for the blessings they received in this house, and possibly participating in our festal joy. At last he reminded us how many were guilty of neglecting their high and holy privilege; and, after having brought them to a deeply felt conviction and repentance, he asked, "Will you engage, the Lord enabling you, to make a better use of this your house of worship?" The congregation answered, with deep emotion, by a loud and unanimous "Yes f" On which br. Teutseh promised them, in the name of their teachers, that we would also continue to preach to them only Jesus Christ and Him crucified, as the sum of all our doctrine. The meeting was concluded with singing and prayer, under a cheering sense of the presence and peace of our Savior.
Br. Koelbing afterwards preached a most powerful sermon on Gen. xxviii, 16, 17:—" Surely the Lord is in this place." In the afternoon, there was a special meeting for the children, and a concluding one in the evening for the whole congregation. No one will easily forget that day; but we earnestly desire that the fruits of it may abound, and be apparent in the future walk and conversation of this dear flock. One of our sisters observed to me—" I now wish that I may derive strength from the merits of Jesus, to abide faithful to my promise, and that this may be the case with every one." An aged mother exclaimed, "That was indeed a great day to me; the words then spoken seemed taken out "of my heart. I removed on that day fifty years ago, with br. Kohrhammer, from the old meeting-room to the new church. I had become a candidate for baptism two days before, and recollect well how I was affected when he began that verse,
Come sinners, to the gospel feast,
O what favors has the Lord bestowed on me for these fifty years. I have, indeed, a great and solemn account to give." The weak and aged Anna observed to me, as she leaned on her staff, "I was yesterday at all the services, also the evening one; having reached my house, and feeling very weary, I thought, Now 1 shall immediately go to rest; but the favor was too great,—all the words I had heard, all the blessings I bad enjoyed, came again to my mind. I could not sleep at all for praise and thanksgiving."
Letter From Br. John A. Miertschino.
We have the pleasure to present to our readers the following letter, translated from the "Missions-BIatt" for insertion in the Miscellany. Br. Miertsching, had been appointed to accompany the British expedition, in search of Sir John Franklin, as interpreter to hold intercourse with the Esquimaux inhabiting the iceclad regions on the Arctic ocean. We hope that the perusal of this letter will lead all our readers, in accordance with his earnest request, to remember this dear brother in their prayers. It is probable, that he has now already passed through Behring's Straits, and is surrouuded by the ice-fields of the north pole. His letter is dated from the western extremity of Magellan's Straits, at
Port Gallant, April 15/A, 1850.
Although it seems very doubtful to me, whether these lines will ever reach you, still I cannot allow the present opportunity, uncertain though it be, to pass by without making an attempt to let you hear from me.
I have enjoyed good health the whole time, but still I have felt home-sick, especially before I had become accustomed to the life on a man of war, and 1 often feel so now, particularly on Sundays and the festival days of the church. Ah! brethren, what precious privileges do you enjoy in your congregations at home! Remember me frequently before the Lord our Savior, that I may cleave evermore to Him, and He may abide with me. He is my only true friend in my solitude. Oh! may I only remain faithful to Him!—
It had been originally designed, that I should sail in the ship Enterprise; but when I came on board, there was no room for me, and thus I was obliged to go on board the second and smaller vessel, the Investigator.
I am now perfectly accustomed to my situation, although I still frequently feel home-sick in my loneliness. At first my presence was not agreeable to the officers, on account of the crowded state of the ship, but now all is changed, and I enjoy a great deal of respect and love from the officers, with whom I eat at the same table, and from the whole crew. As my cabin is too small, I spend the greatest part of my time in the large cabin of the captain, where I employ my time in reading, writing and the study of the English language.
Our table is excellent, as we have every day different kinds of meat, soup and dessert. In regard to outward circumstances I have never been so well situated, and I will never again be so; one thing alone is wanting, intercourse and fellowship with congenial souls! But I have nevertheless spent many happy hours in my solitude.
We sailed from Plymouth on the 20th of January, and on the 23d we encountered such heavy winds, that five upper masts were broken and one large sail was lost. I did not perceive this until the next morning, as my slumbers had not been disturbed. I have not yet felt the slightest degree of sea-sickness. We sailed for ten days in company with the Enterprise, when we lost sight of her, and did not see her again until we reached Magellan's straits. We crossed the line on the 6th of March. I had imagined that the heat would be greater. The wind was generally fair but weak. We could not reach Madeira, on account of contrary winds, and we did not wish to stop at Rio Janeiro, because a dreadful contagious disease was raging there, as we ascertained from a vessel that passed us. We saw many vessels, and among these several German ones, but it was impossible to send letters with them, and I doubt whether these lines will ever reach Germany. At length we reached Cape de las Virgines and entered the straits of Magellan, but as it was nearly evening, and the flood tide rose 40 feet, we cast anchor. The next morning we had a favorable wind and high tide and sailed near the shore. Oh! what a beautiful country is Patagonia in comparison with Labrador! The land is level with gently sloping hills. On that day we saw several thousand lamas at pasture. This animal ia about the size of a heifer, with a long neck and a small head; iti color is brown and white. In the afternoon we met with a steamer at anchor, which was waiting for us, in order to take us through the straits. Before we sailed on, we saw many Patagonians on shore, who were on horseback, also native women and children. They all seemed well formed, and of a large size. None of the women appeared to be smaller than I am, and the men were taller. Their color is of a grayish brown hue; their long clothes are made of lama hides. The children looked rather pretty. Oh! what a delightful country,—so many inhabitants—but 'all heathen—and no missionaries among them! On cur right we had the continent of America, and on the left Terra del Fuego, or the land of fire, till port Famine, where there is a colony of Chilian convicts. Here we bought two oxen, two pigs and a dog. At this place we saw a Spanish priest, who looked more like a robber than an ecclesiastic. From here we proceeded to Port Gallant, where we were obliged to cast anchor on account of contrary winds and a thick fog. In this bay we found our consort, the Enterprise, and six American vessels at anchor. We havt seen four large settlements of the Patagonian Indians. It had been determined in London that we should take in fresh provisions and water at Valparaiso, but we now received directions from the captain of the steamer to sail as soon as possible for the Sandwich islands. During the night the sailors brought fresh water from shore. On the following morning the contrary wind was very strong, and we therefore remained stationary for about two hours. I made use of this time to go to land in a boat. Oh! what a beautiful country, covered with impenetrable forests! The grass is more than two feet high, and laurel and the greatest variety of flowers are abounding. The mountains, a thousand feet high, are covered with woods. Birds, rabbits, deer and lamas art numerous. Near a spring, I came upon nine Indian wigwams or tents, made of the branches of trees woven together, but uninhabited. I also saw two small boats of birch-bark, besides a number of small articles left behind by the Patagonians. I took along several plants and flowers, as a remembrance of this charming country.
When I had come on board, an American steamer had arrived and cast anchor, bound for California, which will take in coal at Valparaiso. I immediately sat down and wrote these lines in great haste, which I will forward by this American steamer, and hope that they will reach England and Germany. From Owaihi I will write in detail, and sincerely beg you to accept in love these hastily penned lines. We have 68 men on our ship, ten of these are officers, with whom I am ranked. There are also ten physicians on board. Religious services are held every Lord's day by the captain. I shall remain on this vessel until we reach the Sandwich islands, which is very agreeable to me, as I am acquainted with the officers and the crew, and feel quite at home. It was also the express desire of the captain and the officers of the Investigator that I should remain on board. I shall afterwards be transferred to the commodore's ship.
I shall write as soon as an opportunity offers. But if you should not receive a letter from me in the course of the two next years, do not on that account infer, that I am no longer alive, as I greatly doubt whether opportunities to send letters to Europe will offer from Behring's straits.
I must close—the time has expired. Farewell, farewell in the Lord and remember me in your prayers! All who read these lines are most affectionately saluted by your brother, who is united with you in the bonds of the Savior's love,—
John August Miertsching.