Sunday, August 10, 2008
Early labors blocked
In the Church News, 16 Sep 1978, was an article about Chauncey Walker West's mission experience in Ceylon: "On their way to a mission assignment in Siam in 1853, Elders Chauncey W. West and Benjamin F. Dewey found their way blocked by political disorder in Berma (through which they had planned to pass) and by the monsoon season. They decided to take a ship to Ceylon and see what success they might have in preaching the gospel there.
"A British military officer they met on the ship kindly rented a carriage and gave the Mormon elders a tour of the island. It was beautiful and fertile, quite different from arid Utah. 'The road to the cinnamon gardens was smooth, leading through beautiful groves of cocoanut and breadfruit trees, interspersed now and then with small fields of rice.' This description, written by Elder West in a letter, continued with a description of a visit to a long house where natives were peeling and curing cinnamon. A plantation owner showed them lemon, orange, plantain, mango, nutmeg, clove and guava trees, 'after which he took us to his pineapple bed and told us to pick what we wanted.'"
The two elders attempted to preach the gospel in Ceylon, Galle, and in Colombo, but were continuously turned away. "Discouraged by their lack of success, the missionaries returned to Galle. 'The weather being very hot,' wrote Elder West, 'it took us five days to walk to Galle; we slept upon the ground, and our food was rice and cocoanuts. We passed through 37 native towns.'"
"In Galle they were able to find a ship to take them to Bombay, India and ended their missionary experiences in Ceylon, after having been there for only two months." (original article was written by Jeffery O. Johnson and was part of a series produced by the Church Historical Department.)