Project Canterbury

From Cape Horn to Panama
A Narrative of Missionary Enterprise among the Neglected Races
of South America, by the South American Missionary Society

By Robert Young

[London] South American Missionary Society, 1905.

Chapter XI. Among the Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco

THIS Republic, hidden far away in the very heart of the Continent, is bounded on the north by Bolivia and Brazil, on the west and south by Argentina, and on the east by Brazil, and has a population estimated at about three quarters of a million, of whom probably about 50,000 are Indians.

There are two divisions in the Republic--the eastern and western--differing widely in their physical aspects from each other. Eastern Paraguay, or Paraguay proper, lying between the river of the same name and the vast Paran√° river, has as its distinguishing features, virgin forests with majestic trees, brilliant flowers, orange groves, the banana, and other fruits and plants. Western Paraguay is called the Paraguayan Chaco. This territory is inhabited by savage Indian tribes.

Mr. W. Barbrooke Grubb, the head of the Mission, states that the Northern Chaco is a vast plain 72,000 square miles in extent, partially wooded, and where not wooded, covered with luxuriant grass, and abounding in palm forests. The rivers are tortuous, unsuitable for navigation, and very brackish. The country is subject to floods and great droughts. Rain water, the only water available, is conserved in the swamps and shallow streams. The Indians of the Northern or Paraguayan Chaco are estimated at 30,000. They are blessed with iron constitutions and fine physique, friendly, hospitable, and cheery, but capable of showing strong resistance when trifled with. Though with a measure of intelligence and fit to rise in the social scale, their poverty is extreme, and an intolerable system of superstition proves a mighty adverse influence. Though living in constant terror of evil spirits and of the witch doctors, they are yet a light-hearted and happy people. Such is the country and the conditions of the people in the Chaco. Except on the banks or in the immediate neighbourhood of the river Paraguay and the eastern portions of the greater tributaries, the country is not a desirable residence for Europeans.

Our readers have already been informed of the brave but fruitless attempt made by Allen Gardiner in the years 1846-47 to start a Mission for the benefit of the Indians in the interior of the Continent, entering by the port of Cobija in Bolivia. Though compelled, after many hardships, to abandon for the time that project, his heart was strongly drawn towards these Indians, or, as he styled them, the "Toba Nations," who, curiously enough, have had for ages a tradition that, sooner or later, men should come among them, not Indians, but like Indians, speaking their language and teaching them about the spirit world. Mr. Grubb says, "Briefly, the tradition as known, not only to missionaries, but to explorers and others, points out that these Indians have been looking for men who should be to them as guides in knowledge and a blessing to their race, and that great respect would require to be paid to these people for whom they looked."

In view of the foregoing statement, it is a remarkable circumstance that Allen Gardiner, as he lay dying on the shores of Banner Cove, well-nigh half a century ago, wrote an address to the Toba chiefs, telling them the story of Jesus and His love, of his earnest desire that God might bless them and their people, that they might be inclined to receive God's Word, and that they might continue to live in peace in the land of their fathers. That address has happily been preserved. It will be found in the Appendix, and will doubtless be read with interest.

For a number of years the Committee had been strongly urged to establish a mission to the Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco. They on their part were no less desirous of responding to the appeal, so soon as the necessary funds were supplied and suitable men could be found. Mr. Adolpho Henriksen, who was sent out to inquire and report, did much to prepare the way for such a mission. Antonio, which the National Government planted some years before, and to Las Toscas, close to San Antonio, where a colony of Swiss Protestant families had settled, by whom a Protestant missionary would be welcomed, Mr. Henriksen stated that the Florencia colony, situated about ten leagues north of the Toscas, was the flower of all the places. He was agreeably surprised to find a little town, which only some four or five years previously, as he was told, was wild camp, trodden by an Indian tribe named "Charra." The tribe was then working on the railway ground. Old "Charra," the Cacique (chief), was most friendly and expressed his desire to have the young people of the tribe taught to read and write. In the same colony he found five English families, with thirty children, besides a number of workmen, all of whom were prepared to welcome a missionary.

Bishop Stirling, after giving the matter his earnest consideration, wrote to the Society as follows:--

Granted you have the right man for the work, and are wise in your methods, two good results must follow:--(a) An immediate benefit to the poor and despised Indian population; (b) a quickening of the Christian conscience among the Spanish-speaking and foreign authorities and peoples who witness your evangelical work. If instead of being accustomed to seeing the Indians debased and slaughtered, the so-called higher races witnessed their kindly treatment by our Church, and could trace a social and moral elevation among the aboriginal tribes to the action of the Christian missionary, I feel quite sure that manifold good would accrue.

An effective mission among the despised Indian races would therefore be of great and wide service at this time and in this country; but, to be so, it-must be effective.

Mr. Henriksen sent home a "plan of organization," which embraced a missionary party of three men, viz., a leader, a carpenter and smith, and an agriculturist, all of them, if possible, in addition to other qualifications, having sonic medical knowledge. He expressed his willingness to resign his position as agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and to accept the leadership of the mission on the basis suggested. He was strengthened in his conviction as to the desirableness of the mission by the probability that the Romish priesthood would offer no opposition, and by the consideration that in any case the Paraguayan Constitution provided ample protection to all denominations.

The necessary arrangements having been made, Mr. Henriksen accompanied by two young men, left England on June 2, 1888, and early in August they reached Asuncion, the capital of the Republic. The Cabinet there were informed of their plans, which met with approval. Fears, however, were expressed for the safety of the missionaries, on account of the known savage character of the Indians. The authorities even stated their willingness to provide a military escort. This was gratefully but firmly declined. That the offer was not an unnecessary precaution may be gathered from the fact that even later than this "a Land Surveyor of Paraguay, when travelling in the interior on duty, was accompanied by a convoy of fifteen selected men, equipped with arms, and who posted sentinels each night with weapons at their side." He speaks highly of the missionaries--the result of whose work, he states, is "a wonderful process of uplifting from degradation to purity and, happiness."

As the mission party proceeded northwards, a very kind reception was accorded to them on the part of many of the people, some of the local authorities and private persons highly applauding the undertaking. At length, on September 8, the mouth of the Riacho Fernandez, thirty miles north of Villa Concepcion, was fixed on as a suitable site for the settlement, and there the Standard of the Cross was raised. Mr. Henriksen wrote:--

At different establishments up river there are about 1,000 Indians and hundreds of children, the men working in the woods being paid with a few rags and gin. I had a peep into the stores at Asuncion, and saw the piles of demijohns of gin, which I was informed was the favourite drink of the Indians up river. When they get a demijohn of gin, they work with increased energy. I think that the people in connection with these establishments would gladly welcome any persons who would go there and establish a. school for the Indian children, not to speak of the hundreds of Paraguayans who are at work there without any means of spiritual care, giving rein to drink, fights, and gambling. It is now such a notorious place that the worst of people resort there, and it was told me that they could muster 1,000 men. I cannot too strongly impress upon the committee that the field in the Paraguayan Chaco is a large one--the largest one, I think, the South American Missionary Society has yet occupied, and that no energy should be spared in any sphere of the Society's work to further the efficiency of this. [The so-called "gin" is the white rum of the country.]

Several weeks later Mr. Henriksen wrote:--

We went up 300 miles from here, and on the Brazilian side I saw hundreds of Indians at work, and many children, all heathen. It. is up there that the hostile tribes sell the children of their slain enemies. . . .

When all looked so hopeful, it was no ordinary trial to the Committee to have to record the death of the devoted Mr. Henriksen, which occurred at Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, on September 23, 1889. from internal inflammation, supervening on an attack of pleurisy, caught by lengthened exposure to rain and cold in an open boat. He had laid the foundation of the Paraguay Mission with rare wisdom and unwearied devotion, never sparing himself. Henriksen's fellow-labourers felt his removal keenly, as did also Bishop Stirling, who took the opportunity of strongly urging that a steam launch be provided, the labour and exposure in wet and stormy weather of navigating the Paraguay River in canoes being both dangerous and too trying, even for the strongest man. It was a stunning blow, most of all to his wife, who was preparing to go out and join her husband. For her the deepest sympathy was felt and expressed. The two surviving missionaries discharged their duties faithfully, and as well as could be expected under the depressing circumstances in which they were so unexpectedly placed.

The new Missionary staff was composed of Mr. W. Barbrooke Grubb, from Keppel. as Superintendent, with Mr. Andrew Pride, and Mr. and Mrs. Hay.

Mr. Henriksen's removal was not the only loss sustained by the Society at that time. It had no warmer friend than Admiral Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, K.C.B. Next to Captain Allen Gardiner, it owed its existence, humanly speaking, to him. And "one of his last efforts was directed to assist the Committee in the establishment of the Paraguay Mission, where, while serving on the Parana River many years before, his sympathies had been drawn out towards the unevangelized Indian tribes." He died on January 2, 1890, and his removal, it need hardly be said, was deeply mourned.

A. Busk, Esq., in 1892, most generously gifted to the Society a square league, or nearly 5,000 English acres of any of his land in the Paraguayan Chaco that Mr. Grubb, or any representative of the Society might select, with free titles, for the purpose of forming a station, or town, or any other purpose analogous to the objects of the Society.

Archdeacon Shimield visited the Chaco in 1894. and aided in the selection of the land thus gifted. The site chosen has proved suitable for the headquarters of the mission.

The mission has been the means of largely releasing the Indian tribes in that extensive region from the galling yoke of dishonest traders, and the desolating plague of intoxicating drink, and of introducing among them an amount of social happiness to which previously they were utter strangers. One illustration of the beneficial influence of the mission may here be furnished. It was reported by Mr. Grubb, who wrote:--

A woman died while I was there (Toldo Grande). The Indians requested me to bury her and speak to the Great Spirit. Formerly they would not even show us a grave, and this is the first funeral I have been present at. The incantations usual on such occasions were given up at my request, and this was a great victory, which I little expected. . . . (Not only was the burial place kept secret, they were also in the habit of performing barbarous rites at the grave.)

Better than all, however, I have saved a little baby, aged three months, from a cruel death--buried alive. It was the child of the woman before mentioned, and the Indian law required its death. It was to have been thrown alive into its mother's grave. I experienced great difficulty in saving its life, the Indians steadily refusing to give it up to me or to care for it themselves. Superstition has a strong hold on them.

I appealed to them and pleaded with them, and inwardly appealed to the Friend of little children. I told them how angry the Great God would be, how contrary to His wishes such an act would be. At last they yielded, and I carried away the prize. None of the Indians, however, would even look at it for many days, and they all seemed excited, troubled, and doubted the consequences. Fear died out in time, and humanity reasserted itself, and now the father especially takes great interest in his child. The little one is doing well. Some years ago an Indian woman tried to save a child under similar circumstances, and took it to a Paraguayan for safety, but the Cacique made them give it up, and immediately killed it.

The hardships endured by the missionaries in this field are vividly depicted in a letter from a gentleman who wrote from Asuncion in November, 1894, under the name of "Viagero." Here is his testimony;--

Being desirous of seeing something of the interior of the Chaco, I gladly accepted the invitation of the missionaries to accompany them. Let me bear testimony to the work these young fellows are doing. For nine months of the year the interior of the Chaco is one vast swamp, as far as it is known at present. During a two hundred mile ride, including the return journey, over a track chosen by the Indians as being the highest and driest, I can safely say that one hundred and eighty miles lay through water, and this in the middle of November, with the sun almost vertical. Through these tropical swamps your missionaries plod steadily on, leading such a life as I have only seen equalled by that of the hardest pioneers, one moment scorched by the tropical sun, the next drenched to the skin by torrential rains, sleeping where nightfall finds them at the edge of a swamp, and often in soaking wet clothes. ... I find these men driving bullock teams themselves, walking beside the team up to their waists in water, and working as no colonial bullock driver would work for £1 a day. At the end of a journey, which usually lasts a week, the only shelter awaiting these men is a rough palm-log house, with one small room and a verandah--nothing more--and this room serves as store, and affords all the privacy available. . . .

The Indians were held in terror by the Paraguayans until the advent of your missionaries, and to this day the Paraguayans will not venture more than a few miles into the Chaco. Yet both Mr. Pride and Mr. Grubb have lived a year at a time alone among the Indians without a spell, cut off from all communication with the outside world.

I have seen missions in many parts of the world, including those to the North American Indians, and that of the Danes (Moravians) to the Esquimaux on the West Coast of Greenland, which I may take as fair samples of rough work. Yet I do not hesitate to say that as a record of hard, patient, rough, enduring work, this mission to the Chaco Indians has only been equalled by that of the Jesuit Fathers when they made their noble effort to christianize Paraguay. It must, however, be remembered that even the Jesuits gave it up, as the obstacles were so enormous.

A religion which produces such men and such self-denying work deserves to be crowned with success, and I heartily hope the mission may succeed.

In the preceding letter reference is made to "torrential rains" and "tropical swamps." Mr. Hay, in one of his letters, stated that practically no rain had fallen in the Paraguayan Chaco for twelve months. This must have been an unwonted and possibly in its way a no less trying experience.

The following, which appeared in Las Colonias, Asuncion, is a further valuable testimony to the mission:--

For some years there has existed in the Chaco, within about twenty leagues of the river Paraguay, and ten or twelve leagues above Concepcion, an English mission, at the head of which is Mr. Grubb, This mission has been unknown until now; it has never advertised itself, and yet it is civilizing a large portion of the tribe of the Lengua Indians. A mission so sacred as that of civilizing Indians well deserves a little consideration, and all the help which it is possible to give to those missionaries who expend their lives and talents, and who expose themselves to no few dangers for the good of humanity. These devoted missionaries live in the greatest retirement and simplicity.

In September, 1895, Mr. Grubb journeyed westward from the Chaco central station, with the view of reaching, if possible, the country of the Suhin. The want of water prevented him from getting further than the eastern frontier line. He, however, met with some of the Suhin, and among then "Klusai," the old chief, who offered to act as guide. Mr. Grubb made a good impression on his new friends, and in token of their friendly feelings a young lady was sent by the old chief's sister to paint the missionary's face black with charcoal of the clothin tree, to which questionable operation he judged it politic to submit with good grace! This inviting field was at length occupied, a definite settlement having been made in 1899 among the Suhin about 100miles to the west of the central station, Waikthlatingmangyalwa. In 1903, however, it was found necessary to close the Suhin station, the Mission staff not being numerous enough to run all the five Chaco Stations. It is still used for itinerating tours, but not for permanent occupation.

The central station opened in 1895 at Waikthlatingmangyalwa, is situated twenty-one leagues west from Concepcion, and is the permanent headquarters of the mission. The difficulties of the language are being gradually overcome. This is assuredly no small matter if such words as Kilmaysikklapoomaap, Waikthlatingmangyalwa, and Thlagnasinkinmith, may be regarded as representative ones. The tribes in the Paraguayan Chaco number four, speaking as many languages. This, of course, cannot fail to add immensely to the difficulties of the situation.

Mr. Grubb returned to this country in 1896 on a much-needed and well-earned holiday, and with the view of consulting the Committee on important matters connected with the development of the Chaco mission. More particularly, he hoped, with their concurrence and under their guidance, to extend its operations to several distinct tribes hitherto tin-reached, to say nothing of the inviting fields of Bolivia and Amazonia.

During his stay in this country, Mr. Grubb wrote as follows:--

In beginning work among these Indians we had to explore the country for ourselves, win the confidence of the Indians--which, owing to their previous experience, though little, of the white "TOMHANG." man, was difficult to gain--and we had to acquire their difficult language, as well as provide for ourselves, where travelling is so difficult and distances are so great. In spite of these difficulties, considerable progress has been made in giving the Gospel message to the Lengua Indians, and in a few cases the results have been very hopeful. But, naturally, little can be expected from so short a time and with such great difficulties to overcome.

We have won the confidence of these tribes, acquired a fair knowledge of their country and language, and been enabled to lice among them in the interior of their country for the past three years, dependent upon their help for communication with the river, and for many of our daily needs. As utter strangers, apparently of the same race as those whom the Indians distrust and hate, we have come among them and opposed their old beliefs and customs, and imparted to them quite a new idea of life, temporal and eternal, commanding them in the name of Jesus, whose messengers we are, to leave off their ways and follow His. They have listened with respect, and in some cases receive and act upon our teaching. We thank God and take courage. The only explanation is that the Holy Spirit moved them. He is moving in the Chaco--as yet only the sound of a going, as it were, in the tree-tops; but it is an earnest of the great victory over sin and Satan which will assuredly follow.

On his return to the Chaco, Mr. Grubb resumed his work in a most hopeful spirit. He furnished a large amount of most valuable, and interesting information, but the limits of space preclude its reproduction here. After careful consideration and with the concurrence of the leading Indians, Waikthlatingmangyalwa was selected as the headquarters of the mission. It is sixty-three miles as the crow flies due west of the Paraguayan town of Concepcion, but the distance by road is greater.

Already (Mr. Grubb states) quite a little village has sprung up, although only about a fourth part of the required number of cottages has been erected, and owing to the extremely adverse season (Oct., 1897) the gardens have been to a large extent a failure. The houses erected are certainly rude, but comparing the condition of the natives here and in the few places where they have adopted our system in respect of settled villages, and improved and enlarged gardens, with the condition of those who are still in the same state in which we found them, the contrast is truly surprising. The change in the manners of the people during the past few years has been very satisfactory. Drunkenness is quite unknown at this station, and it is last dying out in the surrounding country. The whole moral tone of the people has been raised. We seldom hear impure conversation, whereas a few years ago our cars were constantly assailed by the most indecent language. Much greater modesty is now observed in all their actions. A healthy public opinion is being formed, and the consciences of the people are being quickened. At one time we were almost tempted to doubt whether the people had a conscience at all. . . .

Before 1897 had run its course, the mission was plunged into the deepest grief on account of a dastardly murderous attempt on Mr. Grubb's life. A native known by the name of "Poet," or "Frog," who was exceptionally clever, had rendered valuable help, in connection especially with the language. He was, however, faithless, treacherous, cold-blooded, and thoroughly untrustworthy. There were thefts and other misdeeds on several occasions, and in each instance suspicion was traced, and with good ground, to Poet. Mr. Grubb was most anxious to understand more fully his real character, and with this view arranged a trip with him to the west. What took place is described by Mr. Hunt as follows:--

"Mr. Grubb travelled all night until he reached the Poet's toldo, which he did on Saturday, December 18. The next day, being Sunday, he spent quietly at the Poet's place. The Poet was most attentive and thoughtful all day. . . . No words of reproof were given by Mr. Grubb; everything seemed smooth sailing. Next morning (Dec. 20) the party started off early. It included Mr. Grubb, the Poet, and several lads. Not a suspicion of harm crossed Mr. Grubb's mind. On some pretence the Poet sent off the boys with a part of the cargo, and led Mr. Grubb by another road, which lay along the banks of the Monte Lindo, which river (not a deep one at that time) they crossed a number of times. Grubb could not understand why the road should be like this, and apparently no track, but the Poet explained it was nearer than that by which the boys had gone. The Poet led the way. He made some excuse to get behind, and on turning round Mr. Grubb observed he was confused. He then said he had forgotten something, and returned for it. Mr. Grubb moved on; suddenly in the bushes by his side he heard a stealthy tread like that of a tiger trampling on a dried twig. Having no gun, he did not care about meeting a tiger, so he clapped his hands and shouted, and the noise ceased. A few moments later the Poet appeared in front with the missing article. Grubb asked how he could have come round in that way, and if he had heard the tiger. He still suspected no danger. They went on again, pushing their road through the scrub. Again the Poet made an excuse for going back, so leaving the bag he turned round. Mr. Grubb was snapping off the branches in the way, and was in a stooping posture, when he suddenly......realized that an arrow point was sticking in his back. The Poet had shot with fullest force, at a distance of five or six yards an iron-pointed arrow. It had struck one of the ribs, which had caused the twang Mr. Grubb heard; but if ever angel guided an arrow, this was guided by one. If the arrow-head had entered flat, instead of perpendicular, it must have gone clean through the lungs, and it remains a mystery how the arrow did not pierce further than it did.

Mr. Grubb called to the Poet to come and take out the arrow point (it had been sent with such force that it had shivered the woodwork of the shaft). The Poet shouted out, "Oh, Mr. Grubb! Oh, Mr. Grubb!" followed by a terrified cry, and ran into the wood. Mr. Grubb with difficulty removed the arrow-point and walked across the river and along the other bank for some distance. He then returned to the place where he was shot, collected a few provisions and a waterproof. He realized that his life had been attempted, and that the Poet had twice before attempted it that morning. He thought he had not long to live, so entering into the river he started in an easterly direction mid-stream, so that, if the Poet was still about, he would not be able to track him. He struggled up the bank with great difficulty, and walked on, hoping to find an Indian track where he could lay himself down, so that an Indian passing would see his body and know how he was killed. ...

The iron arrow-head was seven inches long. Mr. Grubb's escape was simply marvellous; and in all the circumstances connected with it the good providence: of God was plainly visible. He struggled along for about seventy miles as best he could, with little clothing or food, through a country infested with jaguars and snakes, until he came in sight of a toldo, to which he was assisted by a friendly Toothli Indian, who did all in his power to promote his comfort. The Indian referred to sent on a message to the station informing the friends there of what had happened. It reached two days later. Mr. Grubb with his shirt managed to bind up the wound as well as he could. After a few days of intense suffering, with little food or rest, bitten day and night by mosquitos and flies, and in much bodily weakness, he started for home, a distance of 120 miles, taking it by easy stages. He reached the mission station by sunset on the 29th. The natives on the way were very kind. One man in particular came up to him flourishing six long arrows, saying that every one of them should pierce Poet's body.

Poet had stolen everything--food, bedding, boots, brandy flask, mosquito net, etc. After committing the deed, and not anticipating that Mr. Grubb would survive, he returned to the toldo and told the people that Grubb had been killed by a jaguar, but in this he had been forestalled. The would-be assassin was executed by the authorities of his own village and tribe. There seems to have been a regular judicial trial and condemnation. Such action on the part of the natives was a proof that the exertions of the missionaries for their benefit had been appreciated.

A letter appeared in the columns of La Democracia, a paper published at Asuncion. It was signed by "V'. RAPIN, Mayor del Estado, Mayor de la Confederation Suize." After referring to the good work done by the missionaries, he stated that "they (the pagans) have no laws: but yesterday they would probably have exulted in the death of a white man; to-day the same people rise up spontaneously and unbidden, like one man, to do justly and punish crime. From whence comes this metamorphosis? What spark has illuminated this darkness? This deed, which I believe to be unique in the history of missions the world over, has a wider meaning, which may be expressed in two words: Can a definite dividing line be traced between the ignorant brute of yesterday, and the Christian of to-morrow?"

After Mr. Grubb was able to be removed, he went, in February, 1898, to Asuncion, where he had the benefit of Dr. Stewart's medical care, and a thorough examination as to the nature of the wound. From there, under Dr. Stewart's direction, he proceeded to Buenos Ayres for further treatment and change of air. In the British hospital, Dr. O'Connor, one of the finest surgeons of the day, had him in charge. One of the lungs had to be tapped, and the broken ribs had to be bound up. With the complications that supervened, the marvel was that he survived. Bishop Stirling saw him in the hospital, and was filled with admiration at his calm endurance and missionary ardour.

Mr. Grubb returned to the mission station in July, restored to a wonderful measure of health. Fully two hundred Indians were present to welcome him back. Representatives came from seven villages. The most interesting of these were from the assassin's own tribe. The chiefs of several Indian tribes were there also to express their joy at Mr. Grubb's deliverance and recovery. And alike from the chiefs and the people, the greeting appeal's to have been thoroughly genuine.

The affair just described, so sad in some respects, was overruled for good. The evangelistic work received a great impetus. A marked impression was made upon the natives. This was shown in the increased attendance at the services, and in the erection by the Indians themselves of a little church constructed of palm timber, and intended to accommodate about two hundred people. They even started a nightly prayer meeting, with an average attendance of not fewer than fourteen. The missionaries thanked God and took courage.

There has been a steady advance in the work, as regards both material prosperity and spiritual progress. In June, 1899, the first convert of the mission, the Indian Philip, along with a relative named James, whom he had been instrumental in guiding to a knowledge of the truth, were baptized by Bishop Stirling as the first fruits of the Northern Chaco to Christ. A number of other Indians have, since, been baptized. Good work has also been carried on among the Indian women by the wives of the missionaries.

In 1899,'Mr. Grubb came to England and was warmly welcomed by the Committee and many other friends interested in the Chaco mission. While in the Buenos Ayres hospital, slowly recovering from the effects of the murderous attack made upon him, he had been strongly urged to visit this country in the interests of health. He, however, in the most characteristically unselfish manner placed the concerns of the Mission first, giving to his own a secondary place. On seeing the Mission fairly established, he felt free to leave it in the capable hands of the Rev. T. B. R. Westgate, Mr. Andrew Pride, and their like-minded coadjutors, and to take the much-needed change.


In September, 1899, as has already been stated a new station was opened in the Suhin country, about 100 miles further west than the station already occupied. Mr. Westgate thus described the new extension:--

Our work has become fairly well inaugurated here. About an acre of ground has been fenced in and set apart for horticultural purposes; a corral has been made for our cattle; a storeroom and kitchen built; and a number of deep wells dug, all yielding sweet water but one. This one, which yields water quite as salt as the sea, is far from useless; being near our station we have put up a lattice-work, and each day's labour closes with the remarkable luxury of a salt-water bath. Two small lagoons have been cleansed and deepened so as to make fairly large and serviceable reservoirs for water.

Now we are busy putting up another house. When finished, the main part will be over thirty feet by fourteen; in addition, it will have a verandah fully six feet wide all the way round. Under this verandah we hope to enjoy our meals, and siesta, as well as to sleep at night. It will also serve as a shelter for the natives in the time of storms. The admirable way in which they have helped us in the work of building certainly entitles them to a share in the comforts which the house will afford. Some days as many as thirty, including men and women, joined in the work. The work seems destined to rapid progress. Since our coming quite an Indian village has already grown up around us. When we arrived for the first time with our carte, late on Saturday, September 9, only one toldo, with a population of about half a dozen, was to be found within a five-mile radius. Things are somewhat altered now. Quite a village of Lengua and Suhin toldos has sprung up close at hand, with an average population of about a score, who reside here permanently. In addition, many Indians from the three adjacent tribes--Lengua, Suhin, and To-hath-li--have visited us, some coming, according to our estimate, one hundred miles or further. The little acts of kindness shown to them during .their short stay with us will, we trust, produce good effects.

The present condition and prospects of the Paraguayan Chaco Mission will best be learned from the Society's Reports and monthly publications; it will suffice to give a summary up to the end of the year 1904.

The Stations are the following:--(I) at the River, where the stores, correspondence, etc. are received and stored en route; (2) at the Pass, which is the head quarters of the Paraguayan Chaco Indian Association--an Industrial undertaking in full sympathy with, but quite independent of, the Society, having for its object the industrial training of the Indians; (3) at the Centre; (4) at Mechis Toldo, about fifty miles west of the central; (5) at Naktetingma, three miles from the central, a Christian colony for the move advanced Indians who live a civilised Christian life.

The resident Indian population at the stations has doubled; this means that .many more live a settled life, and that they and their children can be under regular Christian influence and instruction. Considerable enlargements and improvements have been made at all the stations; there are now two churches, at the central and at, the Pass, and a third will be built at the Christian colony. This colony is laid out as a township; the main street is half a mile long, the side streets a quarter of a mile, and there is a large central square where the church, school, and other buildings will be placed.

In all 52 adults and infants have been baptized, and between 30 and 40 are under instruction for baptism. There are 14 communicants, and on Christmas Day, 1904, ten couples were joined in Christian marriage. An Indian Council has been formed, to help in church and village management, thus preparing for a self-governing and self-supporting church in the future. Offertories are taken at the services, native churchwardens and sidesmen carrying the bags round as at home, and church expenses are locally met. The translation of Scripture, Services, Psalms and Hymns, etc. has greatly increased. The general influence of the Mission is extending far and wide, and such practices as infanticide are rapidly passing away, even among those who are not actually under Christian instruction.

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