Last Visit of the W.H. Brett to his old Missions--The Work of the Rev. W. Heard--Medical Work--Orphanage--Kwabannah--The first Indian Teacher--Wakapoa--The Rev. F.L. Quick--The Rev. G. W. Matthews--Statistics.
IN the year 1878 the missionary in charge of the Pomeroon missions, the Rev. Walter Heard, went to England on furlough, and Mr. Brett visited his old stations once more, and for the last time. He saw much to cheer him. Everything was in thorough order, and showed that the old missionary's mantle had fallen on no unworthy shoulders. Thus Mr. Brett writes of his last visit:--
"It was a lovely and peaceful Sunday evening. The Moruca before us was shining in the rays of the setting sun and gliding calmly through a wide extent of forest, in which two lines of taller trees marked the course of tributary streams. My first visits to these rivers had taken place nearly forty years before. Each had its peculiar association. At Washiba Hill, near the head of one, the Caribs had, soon after that visit, made their first attempt at 'church' building; on the other I had met with a most unfriendly reception from the uncouth Waraus; and there also their first favourable movement towards the gospel had afterwards begun.
"A great change had taken place since those days. The people of those races, and of two others, had joined our congregation on that hill, no longer hostile to us, or to each other, but all worshipping together in peace. Though not so numerous as the assembly of two thousand who had there met the Governor on his visit to the opened mound, they had become far more decent and civilised, both sexes being now neatly clad, and all apparently better off in their earthly circumstances.
They were just then departing after even-song, and their clean white garments formed an agreeable spectacle as they streamed across the plain or entered the paths which led to their forest homes. Some companies, who had come by water, were going to the river-side to re-embark in their canoes, and a number were lingering in groups.
"To bid, without emotion, a last adieu to those old scenes, with their heart-cherished associations, was impossible. But the time had come. Increasing bodily infirmities had warned me that my forest journeys were all ended, and that I must now, with deep thankfulness to Him whose undeserved mercy had protected me so long, leave canoe and wood-skin voyages to younger and stronger men.
"May the Divine blessing be on all who seek to spread the knowledge of the Saviour's name amongst the many races and languages of Guiana."
It will be remembered that the last time on which, previous to this, Mr. Brett visited the Indian missions was in 1875, and that he then gave over the charge of them to Mr. Heard. In 1876, although Mr. Heard gave his undivided attention to the Mission, he found so much to do that he wrote to the Church Society:--"Single-handed as I am, but little can be achieved; our well-known and most hardly tried Bishop cannot do more than he has done for the Indians under my immediate superintendence." Mr. Heard desired to obtain the help of another ordained missionary. About this time he established an Orphanage. He thus wrote to the G. D. Church Society in 1876 about this subject. "My purpose is to collect from the various places the utterly friendless orphans, and keep them under my own supervision at Cabacaburi, where they will be educated, fed, and taught to gain their own livelihood respectably." The Orphanage began with two inmates.
Mr. Heard, who had been brought up at St. Augustine's College, Canterbury, and therefore had undergone the usual training at the County Hospital in that city, had a fair knowledge of medicine. This proved invaluable to his people, and he has treated many difficult cases referred to him with a great measure of success. In 1876 he writes:--"On an average forty persons receive medicines monthly, but when physicked the Indian must also be fed, as he never has anything more than dry cassava and a little bush meat, quite enough for him when in health, but not in weak ness. During this year a young man (an Acawoio) was ill four months, and nearly the whole of that time not only had food but wine and stimulants been supplied by the Mission." Another great improvement in the missions effected by Mr. Heard was the instruction imparted to the children in manual labour, he himself showing a splendid example. The writer has seen the missionary, axe in hand, felling trees, caulking and painting boats, and doing every thing that was necessary to teach the Indians the various arts which civilised men employ to make their lives worth living. In the same year Mr. Heard visited many of the places which had become known as the localities where Mr. Brett had gone in his early days, the tract of land lying between the Pomeroon and Manawarin rivers and the Wakapoa and Koraia lake district. There Mr. Heard found Arawâks and Waraus--"for the most part Christians who have lapsed into heathenism." Is it any wonder that the missionary began to feel that there was need of establishing other missions, and to clamour for the additional help of a brother missionary?
In 1879 a new church was built at Cabacaburi. It is a very handsome and strong building, and the chancel is fitted with choir stalls. There is a surpliced choir, which at this time was carefully trained by Mr. Heard's step-daughter, Miss Townsend, who, together with her mother, took a great interest in everything connected with the missions and the welfare of the Indians. To hear the church's service sweetly sung by the Indians, so reverent and quiet, is a treat which, once enjoyed, can never be forgotten. In this same year Mr. Heard shows what great improvements had been made in the Mission. "I think," he writes to the Church Society, "our buildings here are now completed at last. We have a good, decent church, with all the necessary furniture, schoolmaster's residence, mission-house, schoolhouse, and the orphanage," in which at this time there were nine inmates.
Mr. Heard also adds in the same report that he had visited the Waini twice during 1879, and that he had made up his mind to establish a Mission there, and to station a catechist at Kwabanneh. This he was enabled to do, and it must be gratifying to our readers to know that the Mission was placed under the charge of an Indian catechist, an Acawoio, Jacobus Ingles by name, taught and brought up by Mr. Heard himself. This is a noteworthy fact, for Jacobus was the first Indian teacher employed in this Mission. In i88o Mr. Heard was able to report, "This little Mission is going on steadily and well." The church is a plain, spacious building, a "model of Indian churches," built entirely by the Indians, Mr. Heard supplying them with nails and tools, and teaching them how to use them. The writer cannot forget a visit paid to this distant Mission towards the end of 1883. The place looked charming; many houses had sprung up here and there, and everything appeared clean and in good order. The services were also well rendered, partly in English, partly in Acawoio, and to see the wardens during the offertory march up with the offerings of the people was a sight worth seeing. "Silver and gold" they had none, but they gave the best that their settlements produced. Some brought baskets of yams, others baskets of various kinds of gum, others "Indian curiosities," and they were offered by the priest on God's altar--a sweet and acceptable gift.
By August of the same year another Mission had been established at a small creek called the Wakapoa. It is a tributary of the Pomeroon, into the left bank of which it runs about three miles from the mouth. This Mission was also placed under the charge of an Indian, an Arawâk, Alexander Boyon by name. It was also a fortunate, though an unusual, thing for Alexander and his work that he was married to a Warau wife; and as he had to work not only among his own nation, but amongst the Waraus, the fitness of the marriage is easily seen. A church was also erected at this place, and all the buildings wanted for the work were cheer fully and willingly put up by the Indians. A third Indian as an assistant teacher had also been employed at Cabacaburi. It is hoped that some of these teachers at no far distant date will be considered fit for the higher offices in the Church of God.
To show how much the work had prospered, it should be stated that in January 1883 Mr. Heard had to keep in order no less than twenty-one buildings at the several missions, as well as provide for the care of eleven boats. Another of Mr. Heard's great desires was accomplished this same year. A young missionary, not old enough to be ordained, arrived from St. Augustine's College, Canterbury, Mr. F. L. Quick, who was stationed at Waramuri. Mr. Heard writes of him six months after his arrival (December 1883):--"I am glad to report that so far he is doing very well. He is liked by the people, and is earnest and active. The attendances at the Sunday services have already increased." In 1884 Mr. Quick was ordained deacon, and Mr. Heard was promoted to the Rectory of St. John's, a parish contiguous to that of the Holy Trinity. As Mr. Quick was only in deacon's orders, the priestly ministrations of the church were per formed by Mr. Heard. In 1886 there was again another change, Mr. Quick being sent up to supervise a mission on the Potaro. He was succeeded at Waramuri by the Rev. G. W. Matthews, also of St. Augustine's College, Canter bury, and the work promises well. Everything seems to be in excellent order. From what has been said before, it will be seen that to Mr. Heard the Church owes a deep debt of gratitude for consolidating the work done by the pioneer Brett, and also for enlarging the borders of the Church. As Mr. Heard is still in our midst (and long may he remain!), and knowing that he, his predecessor, hates all praise, no more need be said than this--"Si monumentum quaeri circumspici," the missions in the Pomeroon, Moruca, Wakapoa, and Waini.
It may be interesting, before concluding this chapter, to state that the number of baptisms that have taken place at the various stations since their establishment are as follows
From 1838--1843, as recorded in the parish church registers of Holy Trinity, there were baptized by the Rev. J. H. Duke 98 Indians.
The following are taken from the various registers at the missions:--Cabacaburi (1843 to 2 February 1887), 2096; Waramuri, 1960; Waini (1882 to 24th February 1887), 286; Hackney, 530; which shows a total of 4970.
May God increase our missions, and so enlarge the borders of His glorious Kingdom. For this the faithful in all lands must ever pray.