Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 7 Report

Our quick trip to California for my Onstott cousin reunion was wonderful. Our flights over and back were smooth and on time. Sunday evening Stephen and his family drove to Garden Grove to meet us for dinner at Mimi's. My sister, Barbara, joined us as well as my nephew, Jim Bright, and his family. It was an added bonus to spend time with them.

Left to right: McKenzie (Logan's girlfriend), Logan, Judy, Stephen, Andrea, Devon
and Anniy in front

Monday was the first day of the reunion. We all meet at Marie Calendar's for dinner and stayed until they were ready to lock the doors. It has been at least 10 years since we have all been together.

Back row L to R: Janet, Barbara, Linda, Jeff, Scott,
Front row L to R: Leanne, Uncle Bill (94 years old), Karen, Judy
Sadly, We're mission one cousin, Jere. He passed away several years ago.
I won't mention the age of the rest of us, but I'll just say...
we look pretty good!

Cousins, spouses, and Uncle Bill

Tuesday afternoon we met in the community room at the RV park where Barbara was staying. We visited, played games, and looked at genealogy and old family photos. Janet is our genealogy professional and we are all so indebted to her for all her work. We surely have a great heritage. Wednesday the cousins met again at Karen's home for dinner and visiting. Devon and I missed that event. We needed to get back to Hawaii and our mission jobs. I'm so glad we made the decision to attend the reunion despite the distance. Family is everything! I'm also grateful to our mission president for allowing us to go. It was well worth it. The cousins have decided to meet again in 2 years and I can't wait!

While we were in California I got a phone call from my oncologist's nurse reporting that my CT scans showed "no evidence of disease," and that's a very good thing. I'll be repeating all the tests in 3 to 4 months. 

Things were a little crazy when we got back. This week was transfer week in the mission and so there was a lot of catch up work. I think we are back on schedule and that's a good thing. We want to start using our preparation days to see some of the beauties of the island, but that will have to wait until another Saturday. We spent today running errands both for us and the mission. I guess we are still playing catch up. I finally decorated the large, rather ugly bulletin board in my office. Now it's so cheerful with the Hawaiian print fabric and photos of our beloved family.

This makes me so happy!!!

We end this week with the sweetest letter from little Gracie (Brad's daughter). She learned about caterpillars and butterflies this week - sounds perfect to me! I'm so grateful for my family, immediate and extended, and the joy they bring to my life. I love mine so much! The years and distance may separate us, but the bond is eternal. They are the people I love to be with the most!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Week 6 Report

It's been another good and very busy week in Hawaii. The time is flying by! We are busy getting ready for transfers next week. At last count we have 9 new missionaries coming and 6 going home. That's a low number, but good for me as this is the first transfer I've prepared for. The final number has changed several times as we find out some visas didn't get approved and others we've been waiting on for months were finally approved. Devon is forever busy managing the apartments. There is always a need to find a new one and close an old one - especially as the missionaries come and go. And then there is the issue of maintenance. Some landlords just don't care. But the work gets done and we love it. The best part of the day is when the missionaries drop by. They will use any excuse to come, and it's okay with us!

The play, The Book of Mormon, opened in Honolulu this week. The mission president, a senior missionary, and about 10 young elders have been there to hand out Books of Mormon to the people as they exit the show. In two nights they passed out over 600 copies. What's incredible is how welcoming and excited the people are to see the elders and receive a copy. They ask to take their picture with the elders and one person even asked for an autograph from one of our elders - which he was tickled to give them! A general comment about the play from some people who have seen it is that it's full of profanity, but ends with a really good message. It's all been very positive.

On Monday night we had our senior missionary monthly FHE at President and Sister Warner's home. What fun! We had chicken enchiladas, green salad, fruit, chips and dip, veggie tray, and yummy chocolate cake. After a lovely visit during dinner we played Heads Up and had a good time. I love these evenings with all these special people. Sure hope the new mission president continues this activity. He arrives in July.

I don't want to make this a medical blog, but will mention that I had my labs done last week and everything is great! My cancer antigen test is normal, and my liver function has improved. I am realizing just how devastating chemo is to the body and how long it takes to recover. It's been almost 7 months since my last treatment. I haven't been able to put on any weight, but I am feeling good. I'm having CT scans done today and those results will be back next week.

Last night we decided to go to Waikiki and watch the free Friday night fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Tons of people gather on the beach to watch. We enjoyed a little window shopping at the many fun shops, bought a Hawaiian quilted pillow cover, and enjoyed a nice, but very expensive hamburger and gluten free pizza at a restaurant on the beach. It was fun and relaxing.

We ate dinner under the orange umbrellas on the right.

Hawaiian sunset.

Fireworks taken with my camera - much more impressive in person.

Tomorrow we fly to southern California for a reunion with my Onstott cousins - something planned months before we received our mission call. I'm so grateful President Warner approved our trip. We'll be gone 3 nights. It's a quick trip, but it will be so good to spend time together.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 5 Report

What a perfect start to our 5th week. We watched General Conference live from the comfort of our apartment. Since we are 4 hours behind Utah, we watched it at 6:00 and 10:00 am. That meant we had the rest of the day to just enjoy the Sabbath. So, in the afternoon we decided to take a stroll along Ala Moana Beach and the marina. It's just a five minute drive from our pad.

Our apartment building is called the Banyan Tree Plaza because there is a huge, beautiful, old Banyan tree in front of it. It is home to a multitude of green birds called Rose-ringed Parakeets. I'm just mesmerized by this beautiful tree.You really can't appreciate its grandeur  in a photo. It's a true treasure.

We are beginning to feel like this is home. Driving in the city is getting easier and we're beginning to know the route to some of the frequent places we go. Most of our time is spent at the office and we still come home exhausted. This past week was a new experience with high winds. They were bad on the ground, but 15 stories up they are so magnified. Our windows are louvered glass panes on the front and back side of our pad, so the wind literally howls and whistles as it gusts through our pad. Needless to say, we had a couple of nights with scant sleep. The trade winds I love...but these high winds are something I've never experienced before.

We meet for church in a beautiful building called the Honolulu Tabernacle. It is the last tabernacle build by the church. Historically tabernacles were build to have a place where a large number of members could meet. The Honolulu Tabernacle's construction was begun in 1940 and completed in August 1941 at a cost of $300,000.00. World War II was raging, however the USA had not yet entered the fight. President David O. McKay, then second counselor in the First Presidency, gave the dedicatory prayer for the tabernacle. In that prayer he blessed the building that it would be safe from missiles. Three months later Pearl Harbor would be bombed by the Japanese. The tabernacle was lighted at night by a large tower which made it an easy target. The bombings damaged buildings near by, but miraculously no damage was sustained at the tabernacle. Today it is a building treasured by all the members of Hawaii.

This is a view of the tabernacle from our balcony. The large tower is attached to the original large chapel we meet in. The rectangular building attached to it is a second, smaller chapel and a gymnasium.

This is the inside of the large chapel. It is breathtaking, and the acoustics are amazing.

The building was recently renovated and these new doors were beautiful!

This is a pond and mosaic on the south end of the chapel. The mosaic is original to the building.

An arial view of the plumeria trees on the tabernacle grounds. The photo was taken from our balcony with the lens zoomed in.

Plumeria cluster on the tree.

We continue to feel incredibly blessed to be here. We love what we are doing and have met so many wonderful people. The highlight of our week was definitely listening to General Conference. We feel more comfortable with our mission routine and responsibilities, and I even taught Relief Society today. We are getting to know and love the members of the ward. They have welcomed us with open arms. We love the other couples we work with in the mission office and the young missionaries that drop by the office. Truly, our cup runneth over!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Week 4 Report

Wow! This week has flown by! We are so busy in the office. We work 8 to 9 hour days and go home totally exhausted - mentally and physically. Thankfully we are really enjoying the work. The young elders and sisters drop in now and then and really brighten our days. We are fortunate to work with two other wonderful senior couples. They have been so patient and helpful in training us. We had dinner together on Easter and went out to dinner on Friday in Waikiki.

Reeders - from Colorado, Tufts, and Overduyns from Utah

Elder Reeder is in charge of cars for the whole mission. Sister Reeder is the mission nurse. Sister Overduyn is the main receptionist and has various secretarial and record keeping duties. Elder Overduyn is over finance. Right now the biggest challenge for us is keeping everything straight.

President Stephen R. Warner and his wife, Sister Elizabeth Warner, preside over the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. They are wonderful, friendly, loving people. It makes me sad to think that their assignment will be over in July, but we'll enjoy our association with them while we can. They are from Salt Lake City, so hopefully our paths will cross again. We've been to their lovely mission home twice - once to have dinner and get to meet them, and again for FHE and pot luck dinner with the senior couples on our side of the island. We don't see the senior missionaries serving at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), Temple, and BYU Hawaii very often.

Tufts with Sister and President Warner

I needed a hair cut, but felt so uncertain about where to go. I was really missing my friend, Lynda, who cuts my hair. One evening as we drove by Great Clips I had an impression I should go there. So we parked and went in. After about a 30 minute wait Vicki, a Hawaiian woman about 40, cut my hair. She was so sweet and did such a great job. I'll definitely go back, and I think Devon will as well. 

The highlight of our week was an afternoon trip to Laie. We came to Hawaii with orders from our physicians for tests we need to have done and thought it would be a simple thing to just go get them done. Not so! Hawaii does not honor orders from physicians that are not licensed in Hawaii. There is an LDS physician here in Honolulu, but she is so busy that we opted to go see an LDS physician, Dr. Jason Hughes, in Kahuku - a small town close to the PCC and North Shore. What a great decision. He is a caring, smart, young physician that was more than happy to accommodate us. He will help us with whatever we need medically. All we have to do is call. 

While we were in the area we stopped at BYU Hawaii and the Laie Temple Visitor's Center to drop off a few things for the mission. We had dinner at Pounder's - a great restaurant at the PCC. We had a wonderful dinner that included "ulu mash" - a delicious combination of bread fruit and mashed potatoes - so yummy!!! 

On the way home we stopped at a shop along the highway that sells Hawaiian clothing and I bought 2 cute dresses. When we got ready to leave, our car was absolutely dead. Evening was coming on and we had an hour drive home, so it was a little worrisome. Devon went into the shop and asked the owner if he had jumper cables. He looked all over, but couldn't find any. While he was looking, a local church member pulled over and introduced herself as Sister Alo. She thought she had cables, but didn't, so she called her husband. He came over in 5 minutes and gave us a jump which immediately started the car. The shop owner was a sweet man from Palestine who has lived here for almost 40 years. He stayed with us and looked after us until we were on our way.

Elder Tufts, Brother Alo, and Fawwaz (our Hawaiian/Palestinian friend)

And so week 4 comes to a close. We will enjoy General Conference over BYUTV in our pad. As I look back I am filled with gratitude. The hand of the Lord is so evident in our lives. We are guided at every turn - whether we need help with the office, our medical needs, a dead battery, or even a hair cut. We are where we should be and where we want to be - and we get to do it together! How blessed are we?!