Sunday, July 17:
My first Sunday in a mission to the heathen 2 ! We began the day after breakfast with a family prayer at which I gave a short Bible reading on the Vine and the Branches (John 15 3 ), Mr. and Mrs. Wood 4 being present. After this Mr. Johnston 5 hoisted the large flag 6 given to him by the Indian Agent 7 . The flagstaff is back of the house on the way to the Church 8 .
We had morning prayer in Ojibwa 9 , and then I read in English the Ante-communion Service 10 and preached on trust in God. Mr. Johnston translated. The congregation, though not large, only about 20, was most interesting. 12 of these were Indians 11 , as well as Mr. Johnston’s family (in the front pew 12 seat to the left, looking down) and the three girls singing and responding in Ojibway very well was a great help to the service.
Mr. and Mrs. Wood from Manitou Rapids 13 sat in the second seat on the opposite side, Mr. Wood joining in the responses and both singing well. In the seat in front of them was a young Indian boy about 12, and a Christian 14 .
In the same seat was a settler Horace Theker 15 , whose presence meant much. Horace has a striking history: his right leg was badly shattered while cutting wood by a tree which after hanging, shot back. It was in January and he was alone for several hours until found. His arms, feet, and hands were frozen when he was found and taken home, and there was no doctor to be secured to set the broken limb properly. Consequently the knee is far above where it ought to be and he can scarcely limp along, often suffering pain. But this accident helped to bring him to a knowledge of the Saviour. In addition to this affliction he stutters most painfully. This man had walked 5 miles part of the way over a very bad path to be present at the service and communion 16 . He stayed at the mission house until after the evening service. His last words to me were, “You won’t forget me.” He is a bright Christian.
In front of the pew where these were sitting was an Indian lad about 12, a Christian 17 , and behind Mr. Wood was an old Indian, Thomas Bunyan 18 , a Christian. One of his sons is buried in the Churchyard 19 . The other was with him in Church, though ill.
Another still older Indian who came in late calls himself Mr. Johnston, grandfather. He is interested in Church, but is still a heathen 20 , his wife being strongly opposed to Christianity 21 .
On the same side was a little Indian girl who had been baptized 22 , her heathen mother, and a brother of the boy. The mother is still a heathen and how they came to be baptized seems a mystery. The parents were losing their children one by one and so they decided to have the last three baptized by H. Cochrane 23 .
On the other side is Mrs. Crow 24 , a Christian Indian, and her two daughters, all Christians. John Crow is away on a steam boat: he is a pilot 25 and gets $75 a month. Mrs. Crow is consumptive 26 . For some time the heathen friends persuaded her to go to the medicine tent 27 occasionally. One day Mr. Johnston had a long talk with her, pointing out this inconsistency 28 , and she solemnly promised never to go again, a promise she has faithfully kept.
There are on this side also two young Indian men. One is paying attention to Annie Crow and lastly there on the same side is Joseph McLeod 29 . He has come 40 miles by steamer 30 from Hungry Hall 31 to attend this service. He is the Christian Indian who pleaded so pathetically with Archdeacon Phair for a teacher at Hungry Hall. His trip here has cost him $2.00 (I paid $1.00 on hearing this).
Among the hymns in the morning were “Nearer My God to Thee 32 ” and “Only Trust Him 33 ” which came before the sermon and was most appropriate. I spoke a few sentences, making some complete idea, and Mr. Johnston interpreted. My first experience of preaching the Gospel to the heathen! After this came the Holy Communion: I administered the bread and Mr. Johnston the wine (it was a treaty covenant 34 ). There were 8 communicants 35 besides the 2 Clergymen. 4 white people and four Indians: Mrs. Crow, her 2 daughters and Joseph McLeod. It was a solemn feast, and revived the faith of the wider congregation, who were very quiet.
The missionary has to keep open house. Those from a distance; Mr. and Mrs. Wood, Mr. Theker, and the Indian Joseph McLeod all stayed to both dinner and tea 36 . The Indian also stayed all night, and took the boat home on Monday.
While in Church, the two steamers passed by as an example in the afternoon (an example to the Indians of how the white man does not keep Sunday 37 ). In the afternoon Mr. Johnston and I visited Mrs. Crow, the pilot’s wife. Their place adjoins the mission (Mr. Johnston, having great wisdom, convinced an Indian heathen who would have made trouble to sell the place between the mission property 38 and the Crow’s.) Mrs. Crow who is consumptive was lying on her bed. The log house 39 is well built consisting of one large room in which were two double beds, a bureau, a very fine table and 4 chairs, trunks etc. The Sunday School Pictures 40 on the wall looked very well and, with their scripture texts, helped to keep the truth before them.
Annie Crow, a pretty young Indian, came in with something wrong with her eye, which she had hit with a rope. A young Indian from Ft. Francis 41 who had been in trouble with a widow there was after this young girl. Mr. Johnston did not know whether it was to really marry her or not and he spoke very plainly to Mrs. Crow about it. He said he would have the Indian ordered off the reserve etc., but the young man came to Church again in the evening. He was not a treaty Indian, having come from York Factory 42 . Mrs. Crow’s face looked anxious and troubled.
The next place we visited was “grandfather’s.” The women were sitting outside the house under a shade of a bower of green branches. The old woman was preparing birch bark 43 and getting it to a proper thinness. The daughter and the granddaughter and another woman were doing bead work 44 . Nearby was a sweating tent 45 , made of three willow branches bent in the shape of a frame of a small tent about 3 ft high. When being used this frame is covered with a blanket and four stones heated red hot are placed in it. The person who is going to take the degree sits inside while boiling water is thrown on the stones. To become a medicine man 46 he has to take 8 of these degrees.
Returning home we sang hymns and Mr. Johnston playing the little melodion 47 . When singing “There’ll be no parting there 48 ,” as I knew Joseph had lost his wife and felt lonely, I asked Mr. Johnston to translate the hymn for him. He seemed deeply interested.