On this day in 1822, William Richards was married to Clarissa Lyman.  Nineteen days later, they set sail for Hawaii, where they would help pioneer the new missionary work that was taking a hold of the Island.

Upon arriving in Hawaii, William attended language school and finished the courses quickly.  But when he gathered a congregation of Hawaiians to preach to them, he found out quickly that the people to whom he was about to minister too were unable to understand him!  So in order to improve his mastery of the language, he gathered a group of Hawaiian elders and made an exchange with them.  He would teach them English, if they would give him an equal amount of time speaking Hawaiian to him and critiquing him.  It wasn’t long before  William and Clarissa both had a strong mastery of the language.

After mastering the language, William, with the help of another missionary, developed an orthography for the Hawaiian language and translated and printed some simple text.  The work in Hawaii saw God do some great things while missionaries like the Richards labored there.  The change that overtook many of the people, as well as the government and the laws it enacted, caused anger among many of the sailors who often used Hawaii as harbor and had come to enjoy the loose morals of the people.  Angry sailors rioted against the missionaries and stormed the home of the Richards, threatening William in front of his wife and children.  But William was able to calm them and send them away.

The ministry of this couple helped to shape both the spiritual and political landscape of Hawaii for years to come.

 

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