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A Home within the Arctic Circle.

By Archdeacon Kirkby.

From The Coral Missionary Magazine, London, April, 1880, pages 65-67.

I AM so glad to know that you think Archdeacon MacDonald's letters will interest the Coral workers, and that you mean to send it to them by dear little Pinkie. I am quite sure that he needs all the help and sympathy that we in England can give him; there is no part of the great Mission field so dreary and isolated as that in which he labours. Think what it must be to have a home within the Arctic circle! For a great part of the year how cold, dark, and cheerless it must be, and how completely shut out from all civilized life. Letters he may receive twice a year, but anything heavier than these he can only have once a year, and for everything that he sends for from England he must wait two years before it reaches him! Fancy sending for a hat or a pair of boots, and having to wait all that long time for them. Then on account of the distance and the few boats that go up there each summer, but very little can be sent at any time. He is therefore often sadly limited in his supply of the common necessaries of life. The Indians amongst whom he labours are also very poor, and many a sad tale could be told of the hardships they have to endure. Yet the good Archdeacon toils on year after year, loyal to his trust, and God's blessing is resting largely upon his work. It seems only like yesterday since the Mission was first begun amongst the Indians there, and yet there are now fourteen hundred baptized Indians belonging to it, and of these, 18 are employed by the Archdeacon as "Christian leaders" [65/66] amongst their countrymen. Let us thank God for this, and ask Him to be with these dear servants of His in all blessing. As an illustration of the trials these poor Indians sometimes meet with, I may mention a case that happened at my own station last winter. A young man and wife with their three children were with us all the summer, owing to the ill health of the woman. By God's blessing she recovered, and they left for their distant hunting grounds; the eldest child was six, the next four, and the youngest a little more than a year old. As the winter passed on, food became more and more difficult to find, the animals upon which they lived all seemed to have gone elsewhere, so that they were in great distress, and the child four years old died of cold and hunger. After that the parents tried more and more to find something, but so often failed that the man became too weak to hunt. At last, feeling that if help did not soon come he must die, he said to his wife, "Put on your snow-shoes and go to Beardy's tent, and ask them to help us; the tent is in that direction, and you will find them in about a half a day." The poor woman started, and walked on and on until the middle of the day, but no tent could be seen; then she hesitated as to whether she should go back and die with her husband and children, or whether she should yet go on. She decided upon going on farther, and walked on again until nearly sunset, when she found a track, and following it, came to the wished-for tent: but the people in it were nearly as badly off as herself. However, they gave her something to eat, and half a rabbit to take back: with this she returned home, and on reaching her tent, the little girl six years old met her at the door, and said, "O, mother, there has been someone here to-night, so bright and shining, who told me not to be frightened." On the mother questioning her more, she said:--"Soon after you left me yesterday, father said, 'Come and sit on this side of the fire, my child, and don't cry.'" Soon after that there was such a noise in father's throat, and he went to sleep and has not woke up again, and after this someone so bright came, and told me not to be frightened." Now I believe that was a bright angel that our heavenly [66/67] Father sent down from heaven to comfort the heart of that dear little child, watching beside her dead father, and keeping ward over her baby brother until her mother returned. When the poor woman entered the tent, she found her husband dead, and frozen quite solid. She and the two children came to the station in the spring, when we gave them all the help we could.

Yours sincerely,


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