Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day in Hawaii

"A day of thanks for the valor of others - a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others."
Ronald Reagan

Today was Memorial Day. We visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to attended the 67th Annual Mayor's Memorial Day Program with two other senior couples from our mission.

The cemetery is located in Punchbowl Crater. The volcanic crater's Hawaiian name is Puowaina which is most commonly translated as "Hill of Sacrifice."  Historians say the first known use of Puowaina was as an altar where early Hawaiians offered human sacrifices to their gods. In the early 1800's, the crater served as a key stronghold for Oahu natives who tried in vain to defend their island from Kamehameha's invading army. Today the 112-acre cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 44,200 U.S. war veterans and family members. These include men and women who perished in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

The outstanding early morning program lasted about an hour and was attended by many. It was a beautiful and tender tribute to our country's heroes with wonderful speeches by Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor and ADM Harry B. Harris Jr., Head of the Pacific Fleet. The Sounds of Aloha, a barbershop-type group of male singers, sang several songs. The Royal Hawaiian Band also played. There was a presentation of at least 25 beautiful memorial wreaths from many patriotic groups. There was an F-22 Flyover by the Hawaiian Raptors stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, the playing of "Taps", a three volley rifle salute by the Hickam Honor Guard, and the posting and retiring of the colors. It was a wonderful tribute and an honor to be there.

Monument with state flags lining the stairs.
Utah State Flag

Just a few of the beautiful floral tributes

Every grave was decorated with an American flag and a fresh flower lei that was handmade and donated by many groups throughout the islands. 

There were many different styles of lei - flowers, leaves, etc. Each one was made with reverence and love for those who have been laid to rest here.

Our hearts were touched and our American pride strengthened. We feel a great sense of gratitude and reverence for the men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed to protect our freedom and help to preserve this great nation. I'm proud to be an American. Things are troubled on the political front, but that doesn't diminish my pride and gratitude on this Memorial Day. 

True American Heroes!!! 
Mahalo nui loa!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week 12 Report

We are so grateful for this past week...grateful we got to experience it, and grateful it is over! We had all the usual things that keep us busy and a few unusual things.
- We signed the final papers on our new home in Lehi. It should record on Tuesday.
- Monday was the monthly Missionary Leadership Conference. Zone Leaders come from all the islands to receive instruction from President and Sister Warner. The office couples prepared the lunch for about 40 to 45 people.
- There was lots of confusion regarding whether the two sisters from the Philippines were coming or not...and if coming, when? Finally on Friday we got their flight itineraries. They arrive next week.
- I had 9 new missionary recommendations in one day - that's a record for me.
- Devon removed a huge piece of gym-like exercise equipment from an apartment. Apparently the neighbors were complaining about the weights being dropped on the floor. The elders who were living there had no idea where the equipment came from. Probably some elders at some time acquired it and it just stayed in the apartment as elders moved in and out. They do tend to accumulate things. Anyway, it's now property of the dump.
- We moved out of our office, thanks to the help of many elders and sisters that came to box up supplies and move furniture downstairs. We couldn't have done it without them. We will be in our temporary office for about 2 weeks while the office is remodeled. It was decided to not move the telephone lines. It is very expensive and they would have to be moved twice - once down to the temporary office, and then back again to the new office. Instead we will be using our personal cell phones. There is a message on the landline with our cell phone numbers, and I sent an email to all the senior and junior missionaries. This could get interesting.

This is my old office. I loved facing this big window overlooking the beautiful Honolulu Tabernacle and its grounds. With the remodel, the window wall will have nothing on it. My desk will be on the left wall, extending in an L shape to the wall you cannot see in this photo. In essence, my back or side will be to the window. Not what I expected, but it will work...I suppose. All these beautiful, sturdy, old wooden desks are leaving and being replaced by modern metal ones. I'll post pictures when the project is done.

The office staff with Elder Ngatuvi - one of our AP's. He was released this week and went home to Orem. Such a great young man! We're going to miss him. He will be going to school and playing football at Snow College.
There has been a change in the dress standard that now allows missionaries to wear hats and sunglasses. This is Elder Ramsey and Elder McOmber. Elder McOmber's mom sent him a hat and sunglasses for his birthday. He actually was very excited although you can't tell in this photo. I think Elder Ramsey was a little jealous.

A sister missionary from our Manoa Ward has returned from her mission in Tucson, Arizona. Her family had a big welcome home party that was held at this beautiful old Hawaiian home. It was built in the late 1800's. It was purchased in 1952 for $70,000. It is amazing - big, solid, comfortable, and with a huge wrap around porch. I think the whole ward and then some were there. The food was delicious and never ending. It was a treat to share the evening with the wonderful loving and welcoming people that attended - so much fun!

The owner of the house and his son showed me a tenor ukulele they had just finished making the night before. It is made out of mahogany wood and took them a year and a half to finish. They played it and sang a beautiful Hawaiian song for me. The uke had the most beautiful sound. Wish I had taken a photo. It was good motivation to keep practicing my ukulele.

It is the custom in Hawaii to remove your shoes before you enter a house. This is just one pile of shoes outside the front door at the party.

Some of my favorite "Hawaiians". Elders Ramsey, Gale, Stulce, and McOmber.
Sunday was a typical, busy Sunday. I went to choir practice which is held right before Sacrament Meeting. We practiced "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". It was straight from the hymn book, except that we are singing the second and third verse in Hawaiian. Yikes!!! I'm going to have to work on that, but it sure is fun. I love how the Hawaiian members try to help us haoles. I played the piano for Primary for one hour and then Relief Society for the last hour. I enjoy being on the bench again, except that it's so hard with the neuropathy in my hands. I came home, had a snack, and took a nice nap. Then we ended our evening with a nice FaceTime chat with Lori and her girls followed by a huge downpour of rain. The weather can change in a minute here.

We continue to feel very blessed to be here and grateful for this opportunity to serve. It's hard work, but when we see how dedicated the junior missionaries are it inspires us to do our very best. We know we will be blessed for our efforts, but that's not why we do it. We love the Lord and love his Gospel. It's just a small way we can thank Heavenly Father for all our blessings. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 11 Report

We've had another wonderful week in paradise. There is ALWAYS lots of work to keep us busy and keep the days flying by. I got 8 new missionary recommendations in one day and a day later found out that 2 of our missionaries were being released early and leaving the next day. Things can happen fast! Two of the two new missionaries are sisters from the Philippines who have been waiting for visa approval since January. Devon found out Friday evening he needs to close an apartment on Kona and find a new one for some elders. Their balcony overlooks the pool and there were just too many pretty ladies in skimpy swimwear. Oh the things a mission president has to worry about!

I had a couple of interesting emails from parents. One is trying to make plans for his daughter's return home in February. The other is a parent from the Marshall Islands checking on his son who was flying home from his mission in Peru. These missionaries have long flights home and usually end up staying overnight with us in Honolulu. Such was the case for this missionary and his father just wanted to be sure we knew about it. Actually, I've known about it for weeks. It's common place for us. I was able to give the father a contact phone number for his son to use should he need it and the father felt much better about the whole thing. I think I would have the same concern, so I was glad to be able to reassure him. Actually, I'm happy to be able to reassure parents anytime. It's so much better if they call us with concerns than worry their missionary about it.

I spent part of my time last week packing up missionary supplies in the commissary. We have to be moved out of our offices by next Friday. Several missionaries came by to help us pack and move boxes, but there is still lots to do. This is going to be interesting.

We were able to get in another bike ride - 4 miles this time. We are hoping to start doing this more often, but it's hard. We're so tired after a day of work at the office. When we do take a ride, we both feel so much better. Exercise is good.

Saturday we went to Laie again. That's just fine with me. I love the beauty and slower pace of that side of the island. Devon needed to deliver smoke/CO2 alarms to missionaries there and we wanted to go to the temple. Both things were accomplished. Our session in the temple only had 5 patrons! Even so, it was a beautiful, peaceful session. The temple itself is beautiful. I hope we get there many more times.

After the session we went to the PCC - I love that place as well. It was a busy Saturday with lots of tourists. I wanted to check out the ukulele store again. I was having some misgivings about the ukulele I bought and was wondering if I could find one with a little better tone. They were very helpful and quite willing to exchange mine. I did find two others that I loved but...they were in the $800 to $1,000 range! No thanks!!! After playing many ukes, I decided mine had the best sound in my price range, so I'm very satisfied with my first choice. I also have come to realize that part of the problem with the sound is "user error". Ha! As I get better, it should sound better. I did replace the high G string with a low G string and I like that sound better. So, now I just need to keep practicing.

There are a lot of photos of the Laie Temple taken from the far end of this pool of water. But I thought this was a beautiful view taken from the front of the temple looking towards the visitor's center.

At the entrance to the Polynesian Cultural Center is this statue of Hamana Kalili of Laie (1882-1958). He was a large, powerfully built Hawaiian that originated the unique hand sign now called the Shaka, with the thumb and little finger extended, and the other three fingers curled into the palm. He lost the first three fingers of his right hand in a sugar mill accident. After the accident he was reassigned to the sugar cane railroad. He would wave to signal when the train was ready roll. The locals began to copy Kalili’s distinctive wave. The gesture gradually has spread around the world by surfers, millions of visitors, and residents of Hawaii. Today the shaka means, hello, how are you, okay, good, hang loose, and much more. It is a gesture expressing love and friendship and is seen frequently around the islands. Look closely at his hand. The three fingers are just stubs.

The PCC boat parade with dancers from the different Pacific islands.

This is Minoneti. She is a PCC employee who was busy making crafts. She took time out to show me how to make braided ribbon leis, and gave me some ribbon to practice with. Can't you just feel the warmth of her soul in her smile?! The Hawaiians surely are loving, giving people! (Notice the shaka sign - it's a part of the culture)

Examples of double and single braid pattern for braided ribbon leis.

This "bad boy" was hand carved at the PCC and stands about 3 feet tall. I think I want one!
Sunday evening Elder Gale and Elder Stulce came over for dinner - wonderful, hardworking missionaries. They are both from Utah and are assigned to our Manoa Ward. We shared some great thoughts about better understanding and preparing to take the sacrament. I would love to tell their mothers what great young men they are. Wish I had remembered to get a photo. 

Life is good! We feel good! We are learning to pace ourselves and try to get in little power naps when we can. We are grateful for the love and support of our family and friends. Their letters, emails, and phone calls are always the highlight of our day. This continues to be an amazing experience and we feel very blessed to be here. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Week 10 Report

Week 10 was another wonderful week. The mission office was a steady hum of busy activity. Some days were smooth, a few others punctuated with moments of craziness. The highlight of any day is when the elders and/or sisters drop by. Work comes to a halt for a minute or two as we share handshakes and hugs. The gospel and love of the gospel is such a unifying force regardless of age.

I received notice of 5 new junior and 1 senior couple missionary coming to the mission one day, and the next day received notice that one junior we were expecting was not coming (visa problems). It is in constant change. I try to stay ahead of things (letters, etc.), so when it's time to mail them, I can just pull them out of my file and mail them. Thankfully the sister before me was really organized and left great instructions.

Devon is equally as busy with the apartments. Some of the apartments are so old and in such a mess. He's trying to close those and improve housing where he can. That means multiple trips to the dump and multiple trips moving furniture from one apartment to another. Fortunately the mission has a nice pick-up truck he can use and the junior missionaries are always available to help clean the apartments and move furniture.

Right next to our apartment building is a gym and in that gym is a little concession that sells amazing acai bowls. We usually walk home for lunch, but once in a while we treat ourselves to one of the acai bowls. The one on the left is my favorite.

Saturday was a busy preparation day. It started with stake choir practice. The stake choir does two musical presentations a year. The June performance is a "Pops" concert and December is, of course, Christmas. The music is fun and the director and accompanist are good, but oh how I miss our wonderful Highland 16th Ward choir!

In the afternoon we took a short drive to see Queen Emma's Summer Palace. Queen Emma (1836-1885) married King Kamehameha IV and they had one son, Prince Albert. In 1862, at four years of age, Albert took sick and died a short time later. A year later Kind Kamehameha died. Queen Emma never remarried. She was known as "the people's queen" and was very beloved by the people Among her accomplishments is the hospital she founded which has grown and is today a major teaching hospital in Honolulu. 

Emma and the King loved their summer home and spent a lot of time here. Today it is maintained by the Daughters of Hawaii and is a beautiful, peaceful place to visit. 

Prince Albert's cradle

Authentic Hawaiian applique quilts are hard to find and very expensive in Hawaii. Most of the quilts sold in shops are actually made in the Philippines and the quality is very
poor. This quilt is exquisite! Notice the beautiful, tiny, exact stitches in the close up below.

While we were there, two Hawaiian ladies were demonstrating feather art. The Hawaiian people didn't have jewels and so they used beautiful feathers to make leis and head wear. The feathers are gathered, dyed, trimmed and then sewn or tied together. It's tedious but beautiful work - also very expensive.
Feathers are tied individually to the thicker green strings of yarn with the tiny thread.
Feather leis
Examples of other feather art
On the way home we stopped to look at this Chinese cemetery. The photo is a good example of east meets west.

After a short nap, we decided to go for a bicycle ride. There is a dedicated bicycle lane on King Street. It goes for miles and is separated from the road by a concrete curb, so it feels very safe. We borrowed a couple of missionary bicycles and helmets and did a 2 mile ride. That's not very far, but it was all I could handle. Hopefully we'll get to go more and I'll build up my stamina.

Saturday night was stake conference. The theme was temples - striving to be a temple attending people.  Attendance was pretty good and the speakers were wonderful. Sunday morning stake conference was about missionary work - especially helping those who have lost interest for one reason or another. I especially liked Sister Warner's talk (our mission president's wife). She spoke plainly about each of us reaching out and holding on to others, especially our loved ones. Her talk touched my heart.

Sunday afternoon we had a wonderful FaceTime "date" with Elder and Sister Hill in Lima, Peru. Elder Hill and Devon worked together at Timberline Middle School. The Hills are working in record preservation and love it. We were together at the MTC in Provo for one week. It was so fun to "see" them and talk about the interesting things in each of our missions. Good times with great friends! We also had a FaceTime visit with Daryn and Clara - it's her 2nd birthday. Such a cute little girl!

After our FaceTiming we picked up Elder and Sister Reeder at the airport. He is the mission "car czar" and was in Kauai for the weekend on mission car business. Sister Reeder went along with him. They joined us for dinner and then we went to a BYU Hawaii choir fireside in Mililani. It was beautiful!

It's been a good week. We are surrounded by great people who love the Lord and love being in his service. I hope they can feel my testimony as much as I feel theirs.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 9 Report

Busy, busy, busy, but also good, good, good! This week I sent letters to the stake presidents and bishops of the May departing missionaries, and letters and flight itineraries to the parents of the July departing missionaries. I created the A Hui Hou (farewell in Hawaiian). It's a couple of pages with photos of the departing missionaries and their favorite scripture or quote (just collecting all the quotes was a major task). I also did the May mission newsletter. I decided to make a few changes to the format, so it took a little longer. One of the big challenges is keeping track of all the comings and goings. Every Wednesday I do the Come and Go Report and distribute that to various people all over the islands. It seems to change almost as soon as I get it done. We will get the name of a missionary that's coming and then find out they are delayed for one reason or another - often visa delayed. I'm in charge of requesting return home travel for all the missionaries in Hawaii - junior and senior. That includes those at the PCC, Laie and Kona Temples, and BYUH. The biggest challenge is keeping track of what needs to be done and when.

Devon's housing responsibilities are just as busy. We work in different rooms in the mission office and don't see each other except to go to lunch. He is always busy finding new apartments for the missionaries - both senior and junior - and closing others. It's always changing. He also has to arrange furnishing them, so he spends a lot of time delivering beds, desks, chairs, etc. When they close an apartment it has to be cleaned so he organizes a cleaning crew of young missionaries and goes with them to get the job done. He also keeps track of the bicycles and cell phones.

Saturday is our preparation day. We try to do our shopping, laundry, and house cleaning in the evenings during the week so we have all of Saturday to do fun things - after all, we are in Hawaii. This week we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center again - we love it. We arranged to meet Cecily Johnson Nelson there. She attended high school with Devon and is now serving a mission at the PCC. What a lovely day we had together. Devon and Cecily hadn't seen each other since high school, so they had a great time catching up. I finally bought a ukulele. We get a 25% discount at the PCC, so it seemed like a good place to get one.

Photo with Cecily in the Ukulele Experience store at the PCC

Koki helped me pick out a beautiful tenor ukulele and gave me a ukulele lesson.
Interesting: the word ukulele comes from "uku" which means flea and "lele" which means to jump or fly. It describes the strumming motion of playing the ukulele.

This is the statue of Joseph Kekuku. He is the Hawaiian man who invented the Hawaiian steel guitar.

One area at the PCC is called The Settlement. It represents early life in Hawaii. This is a photo of the church in the settlement. It illustrates the history of the various groups of missionaries that taught christianity to the Hawaiian people.

Inside the church is this beautiful, old pump organ. Cecily works here and let me play the organ. It's pretty amazing!

They were having a quilting demonstration and a lei making competition.
Just a few of the various leis on display.

One of the things we love about going to the PCC is getting out of Honolulu and enjoying the beauty of rural Hawaii. The drive is along a narrow, two lane road between the coast and the beautiful, lush, green mountains. Today was cloudy and rainy, but still very lovely. We arrived home to find a letter from Brad's family, a package from Emily, and flowers from Daryn's family. I could get used to this!

Beautiful bouquet from Daryn's family and my new ukulele.

We got home in time to get ready to go to Shirley's baptism. She is the woman we have been teaching with the missionaries from our ward. After dinner Brother and Sister Yim, also from our ward, took everyone to dinner at the Golden Duck restaurant. 

L to R: Elder Gale, Shirley, Robert (her father), and Elder Stulce.

Mother's Day was wonderful. Devon bought me a beautiful, sweet smelling lei to wear to church. Our ward passed out this beautiful tree pendant and a quote from Elder Anderson to each woman. I had a great nap, and we had the other two office couples over for cards and popcorn. But the best part of the day was phone/FaceTime conversations with all our family. I am a blessed girl!!!