Samuel Ruggles and Samuel Whitney accompanied George Prince Humehume home to Kaua‘i, where he was welcomed with great emotion by his father, King Kaumuali‘i. Exceedingly grateful for the care and return of his son, Kaumuali‘i welcomed the missionaries and embraced their goal to teach reading, writing and the gospel. Though establishing a mission on Kaua‘i had not been part of the plan, the king was insistent that the missionaries return with their wives to establish a permanent mission. Ruggles noted in his journal that he was inspired by the place and the people.
Visited many families … The inhabitants treated me with all the attention and hospitality which their limited circumstances would afford, and even carried their generosity to excess.
This afternoon the King sent to me and requested that I should come and read to him in his Bible. I read the first Chap of Gen. and explained to him what I read as well as I could. He listened with strict attention frequently asking pertinent questions and said ‘I can’t understand it all, I want to know it. You must learn my language fast, and then tell me all. No white man before, ever read to me & talk like you.’
For several days past the King and Queen have manifested a great anxiety to learn to read; sent for me frequently to instruct them, say they will spend ten years if they can learn to read well in that time. Wherever they go they carry their books with them. I have seen them while bathing in the water stand with their books in their hands repeating their lessons.
The more I visit and become acquainted with this people, the more I feel interested in them, and the more I desire to spend my strength and life in endeavoring to secure to them the eternal welfare of their souls. I sometimes feel almost impatient to know the language that I may explain to them the way of life and salvation.”
— Samuel and Nancy Ruggles Journal, entries by Samuel dated May 3- 17, 1820.