Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 20 Report

Another transfer week successfully completed. This was our biggest transfer to date - 21 arriving and 19 departing. We've been here long enough to know many of the missionaries, so I was a little sad seeing some of them leave this time. The departing ones I talked to were also sad...anxious to see their families, of course, but sad to be leaving the mission. It is said that the American missionaries have the most anxiety the first 3 months as they are adjusting, but the foreign missionaries have the most anxiety the last 3 months. Some really DON'T want to go home, especially those from third world countries. We have many from the pacific islands that feel that way. The really positive thing is that Sister Itoga, our office service missionary, works with many of these missionaries to help them study, take tests, and get admitted to BYUH. That is a game changer for their lives.
The beautiful faces of our July arriving missionaries! I see their photos for months as I work with their files and I can name every one.

The new missionaries arrived on Monday. Tuesday I emailed 3 photos to each missionary's family - this one, solo photo of each missionary, and one with them and President and Sister Bekker. I order 2 prints of each missionary, trim them, and make cards for two transfer boards - one in the office and one in the mission home.  That and all the usual correspondence and reports kept me pretty busy. The departing missionaries have some pretty nice departing activities. After being in Hawaii for 18 months or 2 years they finally get to do some fun things. Wednesday they go to the swap meet, attend a temple session with the Bekkers, and go to the PCC for a few hours where they eat at the Island Buffet and see the night show. Thursday they have a testimony meeting, visit Pearl Harbor, pack, weigh suitcases, and fly out about 9:00 pm. 

Devon spent another long day moving elders out of an apartment. Theirs flooded about a week ago. The repairs will take too long, so they decided to close the apartment. The elders have been staying with another set of elders in a 2 bedroom pad. They would like to stay there, but that's not the best situation. No decision is made yet. Since they are living with other elders, most of their furniture and kitchen things had to be moved to storage. 

We have had a 2 transfer missionary for the past three months. He is a sweet young man from Hawaii with some learning disabilities - reading is difficult for him. But what he lacks in educational skills he more than makes up for in spirituality, obedience, and hard work. The purpose of the 2 transfer mission is to see if he could be successful on a mission. Well, Wednesday his family, companion, mission office staff, President and Sister Bekker, and a few other missionaries gathered in the office while he opened his official mission call. What a sweet moment as he was overcome with joy at being called by a prophet of God to serve a mission. He will be going to the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. He reports to the MTC on August 17th. There is not another happier missionary in the world!

Our antique washing machine bit the dust this week and, as luck would have it, our landlord is on the mainland. We had a repairman come check it out and he confirmed what we already suspected - it's toast! The landlord has another old one he is planning to have a repairman check out. If it's useable we'll get that one. If not, he promised a new one. Is it bad for me to hope the old one is past using? Mainly I just hope we get something soon. We went to the laundromat - no fun - where each load of washing cost $4.00! For 25 cents you get 3 minutes of drying time. So we did a little drying, but brought it home to finish.

Saturday morning I went to the swap meet with three other senior sisters - what fun...especially since we left our husbands home! I bought two cute, cheap dresses to wear at the office and did some Christmas shopping for grandkids. That evening was the annual Manoa Ward Luau. What a party! The whole ward and then some were there. Everything was amazing - food, decorations, entertainment. The whole evening was filled with aloha. We loved it!

The evening started with a beautiful Hawaiian chant from this member.

Dinner clockwise from top left: rice with chicken curry, kalua pork, some kind of rice thing (delicious), salmon salsa (not so great), chicken, long noodles with chicken, and salad. Top right corner is coconut custard - delicious.

Primary children singing a Hawaiian song in Hawaiian.

Tahitian dance. They were really good.

84 year-old Sister DuPont singing a Hawaiian song - beautiful!

Another island dance.

Stick dance.

Relief Society sisters. They each made their own head dress and they were beautiful!

Hurricane season just started here and so every evening the weather talks about brewing storms in the pacific. Currently there is much worry about hurricane Darby. It hit the big island yesterday as a severe tropical storm bringing rain, high winds, and flooding. Maui is next in it's path and then  it should visit Oahu early tomorrow morning. We have stocked up (as instructed) and are waiting to see if it arrives, or fizzles out. A couple of older gentlemen we talked to in the elevator of our building  just shook their heads saying nothing much ever happens. We'll see and I'll report next week.

It has been another wonderful week in paradise. Tons of work - tons of things accomplished - tons of wonderful experiences with wonderful people. My CT results came back - no evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease - good news! Our amazing children finished moving our things from storage to our new house. They have been wonderful taking care of things for us at home. We truly are blessed on every front, and we are so grateful! I have no doubt that our loving Heavenly Father is at our side. I feel Him! I love Him! When it is my time to meet Him again, it will be wonderful!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week 19 Report

We've had a busy "week before transfer week". Monday I finally had all the information I needed to request flights for our October departing missionaries. At least I thought everything was in order. Tuesday their itineraries arrived. The two missionaries going home to the Philippines were only booked to Manila, not their home towns. Apparently SL only books to Manila and then requests the Philippine Area Office book the rest of the flight. So I'm still waiting on those. Another returning sister said she needed to go to Beijing, as her parents were moving to mainland China, but she didn't know exactly where or when. I felt really uneasy about it, so decided to give her one last call when I received the itinerary for Beijing. Sure enough she had communicated with her parents and now wanted to go to Hong Kong, where they are living. We were within the 24 hour window of booking, so the flight was easy to change. That's where her records are, so that's really where she should go. I'm just grateful for promptings and grateful that I listened. I have to admit that sometimes I bush them off - lesson learned!

Tuesday 8 new missionary recommendations came. I was relieved that they didn't add any new ones to our huge group coming on the 18th. But we did get some for next transfer, November, and even January. The number of Visitor Center missionaries is down, so we are getting a lot of sisters assigned to serve there. I prepared a lot of letters and mailing labels this week, and we did pad check for most of the missionaries on our list. They are so cute, and for the most part their pads look okay. The set of sisters that we do pad check for, called and asked to reschedule - they had a dead battery and were stuck! They had called the Zone Leaders to come give them a jump. What's really funny is that the battery was fine - they were out of gas! Gotta love the sisters! They're amazing missionaries, but not so good with cars.

Thursday night we did home visits with the ward because Sunday is going to be Ward Conference. About 30 members showed up, divided into pairs and headed out to visit less actives and ward members that were having difficult times. I was so impressed with the level of participation and genuine love they all have for each other. I thought it was wonderful!

Friday late afternoon I had a call from a sister flying home to Hong Kong next Thursday who said she had lost both her passports! Really?! I called the emergency line for SL and was told since she wasn't flying until Thursday, to just call on Monday. Well, in the meantime I told her to spend her weekend praying and searching. It worked!! She called on Saturday to say she found them.

I started walking in the morning before we go to the office. It's so wonderful, once I pull myself out of bed. The weather is cool and beautiful. I walk a couple of times around a large block and often enjoy talking on the telephone to family and friends at home while I walk. If I wait till the evening to call home it is too late (we are 4 hours behind) and I'm often too tired to walk. One morning it had just finished raining and I noticed this beautiful, delicate little flower with beads of rain still on it. The flower is a little bigger than an inch in diameter. The pedals are so delicate you can almost see through them. I thought it was really pretty. I admire it's strength and beauty - standing tall, bearing the weight placed on it's frail pedals. There it was just smiling at me and saying, if I can do it, so can you.

Saturday we decided to take it easy. I had my quarterly CT scan in the morning. Then we went to Costco and came home and had naps. After that we went to Safeway, fixed dinner, and then watched a movie we rented at Red Box. It was good to have a calm P-day.

Sunday was ward conference and it was wonderful - especially RS. We had a great lesson on preparing for the Sacrament that was given by the Stake RS President. I play the piano for RS, but this Sunday one of the Stake Counselors brought her violin and played prelude, postlude, and with the hymns that were sung. It was glorious!

Sunday evening our sweet Manoa Ward Elders came over for dinner. Elder Gale from Parowan, Utah is in the middle and Elder Hardy from Spring City, Utah is on the right. They are both such great missionaries and really enjoy having each other for companions.
Elder Gale goes home on Thursday. I'm going to miss him. He and Elder Stulch were the first missionaries we met when we arrived. I sure hope our paths cross again in the future.

I love being on this mission and learning from the amazing young men and women who are so totally devoted to serving the Lord and His children. One elder shared this thought: 2 Nephi 9:39 - be spiritually minded is life eternal. If you take the first letter of each of the last 5 words (spiritually minded is life eternal) it spells out SMILE! The gospel certainly makes me smile and brings so much joy to my life.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 18 Report

What do senior missionaries in Hawaii do on their P-day? Today we met at Turtle Bay for some snorkeling and sea turtle watching. It was really windy, as you can see in the photo. We had to hold the umbrellas to keep them from turning inside out. The ocean was warm and beautiful, but also pretty rough. Unfortunately there wasn't much in the way of fish to see, but we did see a few sea turtles.
Okay...I have to admit I didn't take this photo, but it looks just like the turtles we saw.

I did take this one when this cute guy poked his head out of the water. They didn't seem at all afraid of the people.

After the beach, we drove a couple of miles to Haleiwa to have lunch/dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant. We had heard a lot about their spinach enchiladas, and they didn't disappoint. Then we stopped at Costco on the way home. It was another great P-day.

After our busy week, we were deserving of a day of rest and play. I've been so busy getting ready for transfers. There are so many things to copy, laminate, cut, collate, and get ready for new missionary orientation. I spent over $400.00 at Office Max making copies! I had to re-do the Welcome Newsletter and send it out. Previously there were a lot of photos of President and Sister Warner in it. So those needed to be swapped for photos with President and Sister Bekker. Fortunately they've been out meeting the missionaries so they had some really nice ones I could use. I also had letters to parents and stake presidents to prepare, and was been busy trying to figure out the airports our September departing missionaries need to fly home to. Six are from the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Japan. Some of their parents have moved, so they were not sure where they were going home to. Anyway, I think I have it figured out. 

The theme of Devon's week was "Water World." One of the elders' apartment flooded. They put a load of wash in the machine and left. Well something malfunctioned in the machine and it overflowed, flooding their apartment and the one below. They will be out of their apartment for 5 days while the clean up and repair is done. One sisters' apartment had been having trouble with a leaky faucet on their tub. They have complained about it and reported it to their landlord for weeks, but he never did anything. Well, they came home Friday evening to find their tub faucet running full strength and were unable to turn it off. They called Devon and the second counselor in their bishopric. They live quite far from us, so the counselor when over and turned the main water valve off. They are living in an older home, so it didn't affect anyone else. The missionaries (4 of them) then spend the night at the counselors home. First thing Saturday morning he went to Home Depot, bought the broken part, and repaired the faucet. Fortunately it didn't flood - all the water went down the tub drain.

Church was wonderful, as usual. Today we had tons of tourists visiting from some really interesting places: Gunlock, Utah, Minnesota, Lethbridge, Canada and even Switzerland. The family from Gunlock was huge. I think the whole town was there. Also visiting was David and Linda Bradford from Orem. David is a friend from my childhood. His mother, Kay Bradford, and my mom were best friends. She is a living legend at 92. We were both amazed to run into each other.

After church we came home and had two wonderful FaceTime visits with Daryn's and Stephen's families. Seeing their faces is always the highlight of our week. We are so blessed to be able to stay in close contact with our wonderful family. Technology is amazing!

In the evening we attended a very special baptism of two Navy sailors. A member on their ship befriended them and over the course of many months has been teaching them. Tonight it was our blessing to watch them be baptized - two special, wonderful young men. Their ship leaves on Tuesday for maneuvers so they will be confirmed next Sunday on the ship. Then in a few weeks they will be back in port. One of our elders gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost. He said it is like GPS. It gives us great direction, but we need to remember to keep it charged. Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruits of the spirit are "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." I am so grateful for these gifts. I feel them every day in my life through the companionship of the Holy Ghost. They have carried me through tough times and continue to accompany me in this great mission adventure. My cup truly runneth over!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

4th of July

We decided to start our 4th of July celebration with a hike to Makapu'u Point Lighthouse. It is located high on a volcanic cliff at the most southeastern point of Oah'u, and overlooks a breathtaking panorama of the coast. Shipping companies started asking for a lighthouse at this spot as early as 1888. In 1906 the US House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing funding for the lighthouse. The lighthouse was activated in 1909. Since it's beginnings it has had the largest lens in any US lighthouse. It was originally a 3 mantle oil vapor lamp. In 1925 there was a tragic accident where the light blew up, killing one man and badly burning another. The light house was then equipped with a radio beacon - the first in Hawaii. It was automated in 1974. Today the lighthouse is controlled by the US Coast Guard and the land around it is owned by the state. It is a moderate 2 mile, round trip hike on a paved, but sometimes steep hill. The lookouts are favorite whale watching sites from November to April.
Happy hikers!

 View of Koko Crater. Hawaii was created thousands of years ago by eruptions of various volcanos. Photo taken about 1/3 up the trail. Standing at this point we could see ocean to our left and ocean to our right. 

This part of the island is pretty desert-like. Notice the unusual cacti growing along the cliff.

 No one is allowed to go down by the lighthouse.

Breath taking views!

After arriving home we had lunch and then treated ourselves to much needed naps and rest. At 5:00 pm we met Elder and Sister Reeder and went to the USS Missouri, or Mighty Mo as she is called, to continue celebrating the holiday. Lots of other people had the same idea. We staked out our spots to watch the fireworks and then took turns walking around the Missouri and marveling at what a magnificent piece of history she is.

 People waiting on the dock to watch the fireworks. We found a place on the ship.

 This plaque is placed in the deck of the USS Missouri at the exact spot that the "Instrument of Formal Surrender of Japan to the Allied Powers" was signed in 1945. The actual document is on display in glass display boxes near by. 

Sister Reeder, Elder Reeder, Elder Tufts, Sister Tufts

At the end of this wonderful day I reflect on the great blessing it is to be an American citizen. I am grateful to the patriots, soldiers, pioneers, and great people of this nation that have loved her and sacrificed that we all can enjoy the beauty and freedoms of the greatest nation on earth. God Bless America!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 17 Report

This week we've seen President and Sister Warner in the office every day. Previously it wasn't unusual if a whole week went by and he never made it into the office. He was so busy, running all over the islands for meetings, interviews, and everything else a mission president has to do. Sister Warner was almost always by his side. They both are rock stars! But this week they have been homeless. They had to vacate the mission home, so professional cleaners, gardeners, painters etc., could come in and get the home ready for President and Sister Bekker. We thought the mission home was pretty amazing as it was, but then we were comparing it to our senior apartment - anything would look amazing!

Monday morning, Sister Warner, Sister Reeder, Sister Overduyn, and I went to a local mortuary to dress the body of the senior sister that passed away over a week ago. Her husband flew home a week ago, but apparently there's a lot of red tape to ship a body. Anyway, it was a sweet experience of service for a sweet sister and her family - an experience I'll treasure with Sister Warner.

In the afternoon Elder and Sister Dickamore came by the office. They have been Member and Leadership Support Missionaries in Kona for 18 months. They are on their way home and stopped in to say goodbye.

Monday night we had our final FHE with the Warners. I think they must be so tired of saying goodbye. It was lovely. We sang some creative farewell lyrics to the tune of "Tonight You Belong to Me" while Sister Reeder and I accompanied on our ukuleles - fun, and not half bad.

The whole office staff: (l to r) Elder and Sister Itoga (local part-time service missionaries), Elder and Sister Overduyn, President and Sister Warner, Sister and Elder Reeder, Sister and Elder Tufts.

The day we had been dreading finally came. Wednesday - departure day. The Warners picked up the Bekkers at the airport and brought them to the mission office to meet everyone. Such mixed emotions - lots of joy at meeting the Bekkers, but lots of tears at saying final goodbye to the Warners. It's interesting that the "passing of the baton" is so quick. The two couples spend about 3 hours together and that is it. One comes and the other goes. Snap - it's over!

President Stephen Warner and Sister Elizabeth Warner. Do I love these two? YES!!! Hopefully we'll see them at future mission reunions. I know they are enjoying their reunion with their family, and a much deserved rest.

President James Bekker and Sister Delsie Bekker. We're looking forward to getting to know them. They are very friendly and so happy to be here. The work of the Lord just keeps rolling on - flawlessly. I'm so glad to be a part of it!

Friday evening Devon and I volunteered to see a young elder off at the airport. He has been serving on the big island and is being released two weeks early to go home for new student orientation at the University of Utah. We thought someone needed to help him get his luggage from Hawaiian Airlines to Delta. They are quite a way apart. He really didn't need us, but it was nice to be there, especially as President Bekker couldn't go. I wondered if they would let him on the plane with all his carry on bags, but apparently they did.

Saturday was a lazy day. I spent over an hour at the chapel practicing the organ. I stopped by the office to put the final touches on the monthly mission newsletter and emailed it out to everyone. In the evening we went to Brother and Sister Yim's house for an early 4th of July celebration. Brother Yim barbecued steak, and steamed crab legs. The rest of us brought salads and desserts. I have NEVER seen such big crab legs...but then I'm not very experienced with crab legs. I'll say this much - it was delicious!!! President and Sister Bekker joined us and we had a lovely evening. I wish I had taken a photo of the crab legs.

Sunday was the first time I've played the organ since before my chemo journey. It was quite strange with the limited feeling in my hands and feet. I've been playing the piano, but this organ is very intimidating. It's probably the biggest organ I've ever played, and it is truly a powerful and magnificent instrument!

Sunday evening we went to the monthly Break the Fast dinner in Laie with the senior missionaries from the PCC and BYUH. We rode up with Elder and Sister Reeder and had a wonderful time. While we were there, we swapped out bicycles with two elders. Their bikes need tune-ups. It's a long ride to Laie, but it always feels good to get out of the city.

So another wonderful week as senior missionaries has come and gone. It truly is a blessing to be able to serve and we love being in Hawaii!