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report, bringing as our contribution an account of increased sales in all parts of the field, this is not our pleasure this year; for while sales in Cuba show a marked increase, the same cannot be said of all the other islands. However, in spite of the decreased circulation, we feel that the year has been one of achievement, and would begin by expressing our thankfulness to the Heavenly Father for the privilege of engaging in this important work, and to the missionaries throughout the field for their hearty co-operation and help. The attitude of all was expressed by one very forcibly when he said, as I thanked him for some service, “Don't thank me; the rest of us could not do anything without you, meaning the Bible Society. In English-speaking countries, where the demand for the Bible is so great that it pays private firms to publish it in luxurious bindings and with multitudinous helps to its study, it is hard to conceive of the absolute dependence of all permanent missionary work in foreign countries upon the activities of the Bible Societies.
Bible Sunday, established two years ago, was observed by nearly all the churches throughout Cuba and Porto Rico, and the collections for the work taken on the field show a substantial increase
PORTO RICO This compact island, with its one million inhabitants, has been very thoroughly canvassed by the workers of the American Bible Society. Within the two preceding years two, and in some cases three, house-to-house visitations had been made of all the towns and villages of the island. The work of 1913 has, however, been almost entirely in the country sections, the Agent working with the colporteur, using the automobile along the one thousand miles of splendidly macadamized roads connecting all the important sections of the island. Our plan has been to take two colporteurs with us. The Agent, acting as chauffeur, remained near the machine, visited the nearby houses, and talked with the passers-by; while the other workers visited the more distant houses located in the fields and mountains on either side of the road.
This work is exceedingly interesting and fascinating from every point of view. The eye never tires of the varied scenery, the weather is never uncomfortably hot; and the welcome we received from the inhabitants of the little huts built of palm leaf, soap boxes, and Standard Oil tins, sometimes, in the mountain sections, very picturesquely located under the shade of the banana and mango, or half hidden in a clump of coffee bushes protected by the trees planted as a shade for the coffee, made the days seem altogether too short.
Pathetic in the extreme, however, is the poverty seen in places, especially on the south side of the island. Huts made of the leaf of the palm and thatched with grass, containing generally two tiny rooms without a single article of furniture except a few soap boxes, which serve as seats, and an old, much worn hammock in which to swing the baby, constitute the homes of large families. For nourishment, black coffee in the morning, with a small piece of bread, followed in the afternoon by a meal of boiled beans or of a coarse banana fried and eaten with dried codfish, is the diet of thousands and is all that can be procured on a wage of forty cents a day when there is a family of six to feed. Little wonder at the widespread anæmia, at the inefficiency of the Porto Rican laborer, or that the fires of ambition are dead in his heart. The struggle for a mere existence is a very serious matter. Christian America ought to be studying some way to provide these poor, half-famished people with an opportunity to earn a living wage.
In the northern parts of the island conditions were, on the whole, better, and talks with several of the laborers showed that they were pleased with their lot. One man to whom I offered a book said that he could not read; but stated with pride, pointing to a little boy of seven or eight, that all of his children could read, and that one of his daughters was going to take the teacher's examination. “The Americans have done us poor people a lot of good,” said he. “In Spanish times the children of a man like me had no chance."
While this country work has been very important, and a greater proportion of the people seen have purchased copies of the Scriptures than was the case in the towns and villages, yet the result has been but half the number of copies circulated as the year previous among the townspeople (15,193). That we should have been able to reach this figure, doing almost entirely country work, is astonishing, and it could not have been accomplished without the use of the automobile.
During the last three years practically the whole island has been included in our efforts, and 80,764 copies of the Scriptures sold to the people of Porto Rico—35, 130 books in 1911, 30,441 in 1912, and 15,193 during the year just closed.
The special effort is over, and it has accomplished a great deal more than we had anticipated. Two of the workers, Señors Aquino Ojeda and Paulino Dieppa, have left the service of the Society to enter upon pastoral duties. The former takes up work with the Congregationalists in Humacao District; while Dieppa has become pastor of the Baptist mission at Aguas Buenas. May even greater success attend their efforts in this new field of Christian endeavor.
It was with feelings of regret that we terminated our residence in Porto Rico and said farewell to our fellow workers, to make our abode again in the chilly north. However, we hope from here, for the immediate present, to be able better to direct the work throughout this scattered and disconnected field. The responsibility for the circulation in Porto Rico has been undertaken by the Rev. Mr. E. L. Humphrey, of Caguas, P.R., and he has been in charge since last August.
CUBA Cuba, with its thousands of square miles of virgin soil of almost inexhaustible fertility, located near our own shores, and with its splendid and constantly improving transportation facilities, spells opportunity as does no other of the Antilles. On my last trip I passed through fields of sugar cane that the year before were uncleared forest, and that will go on producing for many years, and without any fertilization, such crops of cane as can be exceeded nowhere else in the world. On every hand are signs of material progress; and, with confidence established in the stability of the government, Cuba is facing an era of unexampled prosperity-a prosperty that many feel is coming too fast for the good of its people, as intellectual and spiritual progress are not keeping pace with the material. God save Cuba from the flood of political and social corruption and debauchery that is bound to follow in the wake of commercial prosperity, if not held in check by the salt of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our workers have been doing their best to meet the situation and rise to their responsibilities and opportunities.
Mr. Neblett has just brought to a close the second year of his very successful administration by circulating many more copies than had ever been sold before in one year, viz., 32,048. He has the happy faculty not only of directing workers, but of imparting to them his own enthusiasm. He thought, with the funds at his disposal, that 30,000 copies could be circulated in Cuba in 1912. An insurrection in the east, however, and an exceedingly bitter political contest, so changed conditions that early in the year this was seen to be impossible. In 1913 the goal was passed by 2,048 copies.
We regretted very much that Mr. Neblett could not see his way to continue the work on account of the increased responsibilities of his own mission charge; yet we rejoice to be able to secure in his place one so familiar with our special line of missionary activity as is the Rev. David Cole, of Cienfuegos, Cuba, having been a very successful colporteur previous to entering the ministry, laboring in Cuba, Porto Rico, and Santo Domingo. To his effective example when in the employ of the Society has been due in a large measure the efficiency of our colporteurs during the past three years. One of the workers of those days said to the writer a short time ago: We always liked to work with Mr. Cole, because he placed himself on a level with us and never asked us to do anything that he was not willing to do himself. When we saw him, a foreigner, selling so many books, it aroused our ambition to keep up with him.” We are glad to have him back. Especially favored from the first have we been in the helpers whom God has sent to lend a hand in the work.
SANTO DOMINGO This exceedingly fertile island awaits the touch of modern progress. Somewhat distant from the lines of communication, the material progress of Cuba is not in evidence here, though its natural advantages are fully as great. Bible Society workers have always been kindly received in Santo Domingo, and in this country, where “the revolver seems to be considered more important than any article of clothing," the Bible colporteur journeys unarmed and unmolested, and the Book is gladly purchased.
In a recent canvass of the capital very few houses were found that did not contain a copy of the Scriptures in some form or other as a result of former colportage work, and no one refused to purchase on religious grounds. There is no other section of our field where so large a proportion of the educated people own a Bible as in the cities of Santo Domingo.
Mr. Williams visited the country first five years ago, and has just been comparing notes. He says, in a recent letter: “Five years ago probably not ten per cent of the literate population possessed any part of the Bible. Now, I believe, at least ninety-five per cent have it. When I left Porto Rico I spoke of trying to find a plan that would induce the men as a whole to buy a Bible. It was not necessary. They all bought just because they thought that what all the world was buying Dominicans should not fail to possess. Some, I am sure,
had a better motive and have profited by it."
While, owing to lack of communication, the country districts have not been covered here as in Porto Rico, our field of operation has included all the principal towns and many of the smaller places. It seems a pity that this Bible circulation could not be followed by other aggressive missionary activities. We are still praying the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into this hopeful field.
HAITI Quarantine and revolutions combined have prevented the Agent from doing personal work in Haiti during the past year. One call was made at Port-au-Prince and Jacmel in June when en route from Cuba to Porto Rico. However, with the help of the Rev. Paul Delattre, of St. Marc, and Mr. Normil Posy, of Jacmel, the latter working under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Lherisson, we have secured the circulation of some 4,000 copies. One of the objects of the change of residence of the Agent to Brooklyn has been to place him in closer touch with these last two countries, and we hope during the coming year to carry on an aggressive campaign that shall cover the whole island.
THE FRENCH ISLANDS Here our activities for the past year have been confined to Guade. loupe and its dependencies, where we have maintained a colporteur throughout the year. While the phenomenal sales of the first two visits have not been kept up, owing to the large number of persons who supplied themselves with the Book at that time, yet there has been a constant circulation in spite of the ecclesiastical opposition that has been aroused.
While we still have to report as in 1912 that the American Bible Society is the only evangelical organization in the field, yet we are glad to report the presence of an independent evangelist who is spend
ing all of his time traveling from point to point distributing tracts and preaching the gospel from house to house. Mr. Louis J. Germain saw the report of the Agent's first visit to Guadeloupe in the Record, and felt it to be the call of God to him to go to supply the need in these islands, and for the past two years has been faithfully witnessing for his Master in this exceedingly beautiful though much-neglected portion of our field. His permanent address is Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe.
Mr. Henri Ruga, a native of Switzerland, was present when the writer told the story of Guadeloupe in the mission church in Fajardo, P.R., and has since given up a comparatively lucrative position to volunteer for service as colporteur. He has been working among the people of this island for the last four months. He reports a very great desire on the part of many whom he meets to hear the gospel. In fact, ten days after his arrival in Pointe-a-Pitre, he was handed a petition, signed by fifty persons, and directed, through the American Bible Society, to the Foreign Mission Boards of America, stating that the Bible is not taught nor the gospel preached in their island, and pleading that a missionary be sent them. He attributes this desire on their part largely to the influence of Mr. Germain. Although up to the present no mission board has seen its way clear to enter this field, we feel very grateful to our Heavenly Father for thrusting forth these two devoted workers, who are producing such a favorable impression in the interests of evangelical Christianity.
In all these Spanish and French-speaking islands of the beautiful “American Mediterranean” the doors are wide open to the gospel. The Bible has been widely distributed. The colporteur, like another John the Baptist, has been preparing the way in hitherto unoccupied territory for the mission worker who shall follow. May our Lord hasten his coming!