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Extract Of A Letter From Br. H. G. Pfeiffer.
Bluefieldt, July 23d, 1850.
Since I wrote last, some progress has been made towards the erection of a church. The people have assisted in preparing timbers, and conveying them to the building ground; and the sum of 15/. has been collected by our friend Mr. Duff, the owner of the vessel that brings our stores from Kingston, Jamaica, to which he hopes to get a small addition.
The church is to be a plain wooden building, and we shall try to construct it as cheaply as possible. It is indeed indispensably necessary to us. The old court-house is in a wretched condition. On Sunday, three weeks ago, I had just commenced keeping the class for our new people, when a sudden squall came on, and soon covered the floor with water. We looked for a dry spot, but none could be found, and worse than that, the building twisted and moved, and every beam seemed to get out of its place. We stood at the door, and watched the roof with anxiety, while torrents of rain fell. Could you be eye-witness of such a scene, you would doubtless wonder how we could keep service at all in such a building. Hitherto the rain has been moderate, but we do not know what we shall do when it commences in full force. The day-school is kept in the same building, and br. Lundberg has been greatly inconvenienced by the weather; and as we have no other place to resort to, 1 fear the day-school will have to be partially suspended during the rainy season. Urgent as the case is, yet the frequent heavy showers, which would occasion serious loss of time and money, forbid even the thought of commencing the work at present. We have also very few men here, as most of our young people are engaged till the month of September in the turtle fishery on the South coast. Thus we must patiently wait and struggle on, till, with the help of our gracious God, our little church can be built.
I fully expect that the building of a regular church, entirely set apart to the service and glory of God, will greatly contribute to the regular attendance on the means of grace, and prove a great blessing to the inhabitants of this place. At present, many say, that the court-house having been used in former days as a ballroom, is not a fit place for divine worship. There is some truth in this; but the persons who make these assertions, are by no means so conscientious and scrupulous, that they could not meet in such a place for the hearing of God's holy Word; but their
habitual neglect of Sabbath-day duties, and their whole deportment in their daily walk and conversation, plainly shew that the fear of God is not before their eyes. However, the erection of a regular place of worship will remove this and other objections, and I can but heartily wish and pray that it may soon be accomplished. If, however, the authorities are not more active in the matter than they have been of late, I shall make but little progress; for, as I have stated already, I feel no freedom, for various reasons, to build till the boundary lines of the plot of ground allotted to us are drawn, and we obtain some written instrument to secure to us peaceable possession.
It is time however to turn to our family-circle and our missionary engagements. And where shall 1 begin to rehearse the mercies of God experienced by us in our sojourn here? We may indeed say with the Psalmist, 'Surely goodness and mercy have followed us all our days.' We have cause to be especially thankful for the great blessing of uninterrupted good health, which we have hitherto enjoyed. Our strength and means being alike slender, we thought it best to put up a small eottage for our temporary habitation, till we can find time and means to build a larger house, when this will come in for a kitchen and stores. At present we are only anxious to see the Lord's cause prospering. My good wife, who still attends to the housekeeping and other temporal concerns, has it comparatively easier here than in the other house, as all is under roof, which in the rainy season is a great comfort and advantage, especially as the kitchen-stove expels a great deal of the damp air from the house, and our provisions, such as flour, rice, etc., keep much better, the stove being near the kitchen. We have had many visitors to see this new arrangement, and all appear pleased with it. At present we have only two little boys to assist in the duties of the housekeeping. One is a half Indian, and the other a Creole of this place. Both boys also attend the day-school, except when their services are particularly required at home. They get no wages, but have their clothing, board and education free. The king's two sisters also make themselves very useful in the house, when they come from school. The eldest, Matilda, has good abilities for learning, and makes excellent progress at school. The other finds more pleasure in needle-work.
The young king continues to attend the meetings, and is always disposed to receive spiritual advice. On the subject of instructing the children of the Indians, we converse frequently together. In the beginning of last month, he brought his waitingboy, of the Mosquito tribe, to school. He is the first of pure Indian blood that has attended the day-school; in the Sunday-school we have had several for some time past.
In January last, three families of Indians of the Mosquito tribe arrived here, with the intention of settling. They have twelve children. They come from the northern coast, near Cape Gracias a Dios. They have planted grounds, and are now gone up to fetch the rest of their few things. An Indian wants very little: a bow and arrows, a gun, if he can afford it, a canoe, an axe, a pot, and sometimes a few plates, and a hammock; these constitute his principal furniture. Most that come from the northern coast go nearly naked, having only a wrapper to cover part of their body. Having no wants, they feel no desire to labor for more than they require, and habits of industry are therefore unknown to them. To bring them out of their degraded state, we must begin with the young. I have for this purpose proposed to the king and the vice-consul, with the request that the latter would lay it before Dr. Green, to open an Indian school—to feed, clothe, and educate them, and especially to bring them up to habits of industry. I have requested an answer, to inform me how far government would assist me in this plan. In regard to clothing, I have no doubt our generous christian friends will gladly furnish a supply for poor Indian children, as well as assist in other ways to bring these benighted nations under the sound of the gospel. The clothing should be of the most common kind; unbleached calico, striped cotton, checks and common prints for the girls, would be sufficient. Now, my dear brother, plead the cause of the poor Indians. Jntreat our christian friends to bestow their charity also upon these tribes, for whom nothing has yet been done. Are they not God's creatures, redeetnedwith the Savior's blood? Are they not included in the Savior's commission to his disciples, to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature?" Have they not a claim on the benevolence of christians? Is there none that will pity them? I trust the Lord has still many a willing heart, many a liberal hand to help forward His work in these lands.
The king has promised to give his assistance by inducing the Indians to send their children; and he thinks, when the parents see that they are well provided for, they will gladly send them. Government is to give a piece of land for cultivation, and 6ome Indians are to attend to the ground. Such is at present our plan. May the Lord give His blessing to the execution of it! I may further state, that government is also willing to contribute to the erection of a school-house for the purpose.
Three different parties of Caribs have visited us this year; they also may hear the gospel. They appear to be pretty numerous; 300 houses in one village, and there are many villages.
Our services on Sundays, and week days, are usually well attended, and there is a shaking among the dry bones. Two months ago, a German, who had lived here several years, died in consequence of smoking poisoned tobacco. The young woman with whom he had been living in sin, was seriously alarmed by this awful visitation of God, and turned as a penitent sinner to Jesus. Three weeks after she came, and entered her name, and sent her eldest son to the day-school, anxious to do all she can for her three fatherless children. I pray that the Lord may preserve her in this frame of mind, and confirm her daily in the faith.
We have also many mockers and scoffers at religion; yet I trust the good Shepherd will seek them also, and bring them into His fold. We can only say, to the praise and glory of our merciful Savior, that He has blessed our feeble testimony beyond our expectations. Last Sabbath I visited, after the services, 6ome of our neighbors, who never have attended divine worship. I placed before them the Savior's great love to sinners, and their danger in refusing to turn to Him, when one replied, "Well, we see that those who go to church are worse than we are." I replied, "0 my dear friend, this is a broken reed to lean upon. The Savior, who now, in a most condescending manner invites you, will be your Judge. He will not ask you, on the awful day of account what your neighbors have done, but what you have done." While I was speaking, several more came near and listened. I went on to talk with them in a friendly and familiar way, till night demanded my withdrawal to attend the evening service. On leaving the house, I asked, "Well, who is willing to mend his ways, and to begin to serve the Lord?" All replied, "you shall see us to-night." And, indeed, it was a new and interesting sight to us, and to other inhabitants, to see these strangers in God's house. But my time is expired. Let me request a continued interest in your prayers, for myself, my dear wife, and for my dear brn. Lundberg and Handler, who are well and actively engaged in their various duties.
Extract From Br. David Z. Schmidt's Letter.
< Steamboat Paris, Ohio River,
My dear Brother.
To-day we passed through the canal at Louisville, still westward ho! You will have heard of my success in obtaining a letter of recommendation from the Hon. Mr. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior. I left Washington City on the 31st of October in the train at 6 o'clock. We passed Harper's Ferry about noon and arrived at Cumberland about sun-set. At candle-light, we left
Cumberland, seven coaches in company, and nine passengers in each. All night it went jolt, jolt, and the next day until 10 o'clock at night. A few days previous it had snowed on the mountains, and some snow was still to be seen. When we arrived in Wheeling, I immediately took the steamboat, and in about an hour, I was lying sound asleep in my berth, and the boat sailing down the Ohio. In the evening I had a long conversation with an intelligent German, a rank rationalist, but I found I was only wasting breath in discussing subjects, which he was determined to disbelieve, and so with the remark, that I felt persuaded, that on a dying bed he would behold things in another light, I left him. I next commenced a conversation with a German Roman Catholic, aged 74 years, and I found him to be a sincere inquirer after the way to heaven. He was quite enlightened on the doctrine of the atonement and comparatively evangelical in his views; but his greatest trouble was, to ascertain whether his repentance (Busse) was genuine. I tried to point out to him the nature of true repentance, to which he listened with the most fixed attention, and then gave him several passages, very appropriate to his case, to read in bishop Loskiel's book, "Etwas fuers Herz." He was so greatly delighted with what he read in this excellent work, that he wished to buy the book. I told him, I did not like to part with it, because it had been presented to me by a dear friend, at which he seemed very sad. But when I was lying in my berth pondering over the matter, and reflecting, that perhaps this book might be made instrumental in guiding him and others to heaven, I concluded, that it was my duty and privilege to part with it, hoping, that should some kind friend hear of this circumstance, I might again get a present of one. On the next morning I accordingly made him a present of it. We again had along conversation, and at last, in the presence of a crowd of fellow-passengers, he took off his hat, and with many tears entreated me to pray for him. (This same old gentleman told me, that many years ago he had passed through Bethlehem and Nazareth, and that he and his wife had about 30 years ago been present at a love-feast at Christmas in Litiz.) I gave him my direction, and he promised soon to write to me, and inform me of his progress in the heavenly way. I arrived at Cincinnati at noon of the 3d inst., and left this city at 3 P. M. of the same day, and arrived yesterday (the 4th) at Louisville about noon. We could not pass through the canal till this morning. We are now sailing down the Ohio again, and, as my sheetis full, I must close, with much love to all my dear friends. Pray for me, that I may have continued cheerfulness for the arduous (mis*ionary) work before me.
D. Z. Schmidt.