Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Week 38 Report

Transfer week is here – ready or not! Fortunately we are ready! Everyone was busy Monday morning with last minute details before the new missionaries arrived. Our old schedule for transfer week was spread over four days. When we realized that transfer week would fall on Thanksgiving week we knew we had to make some modifications. After many drafts we finally figured out a schedule that might work to reduce four days’ worth of activities into three. The daylight savings time change in Utah complicated things, having our new missionaries arriving an hour later than usual. They came with big smiles, strong handshakes, and are excited to be here. We had a simple pizza dinner with pineapple, grapes, kale salad, and Haagen Dazs ice cream bars ready at the office. They listened to a shortened office orientation, and some orientation from President Bekker, and then departed to the mission home for a much needed night’s sleep. We worked at the office until 7:45 while I finished printing out the departing letters for our 16 departing missionaries’ departing binders.

Tuesday of transfer week is the actual transfer day. It’s  always very busy with so many missionaries coming to meet up with their new companions. They come to the office for mail, supplies, hugs, and just to say hello. It’s crazy, but we love seeing all of them…and they love seeing us. One of our AP’s is being transferred back to the mission field and he asked if he could take the office missionaries with him. We’ll miss him! One missionary from our ward is also being transferred. He’s been here 6 months and we’re going to really miss him as well. I think he shook my hand 4 times before he left. I emailed the photos of the new missionaries to their parents. I filed the new missionaries’ files and pulled the departing missionaries’ files. They have to be taken apart and shredded. I just hate doing that! So hard to say goodbye!

On Wednesday things quieted down. There is always plenty to keep us busy and the day quietly rolled on. After work we made a trip to Costco for a few things we were out of, and so did everyone else in Honolulu! It was crazy busy! We decided to drive over to the Ward Street Shopping Center and grab a quick bite and see a movie. Both were enjoyable.

Thursday – Thanksgiving! It was a nice, quiet day. A wonderful couple in our Manoa Ward, Brother and Sister Mataele, invited us to dinner at their home. Every Thanksgiving they put on an amazing dinner and invite many friends, family, and missionaries to join them. There were probably 40 people including us, Elder and Sister Reeder, President and Sister Bekker, and 6 of our young missionaries. There was so much food – turkey, ham, steak, a whole roasted pig (on a slab of wood), fish, chicken, mussels, sushi and every side dish you can imagine (some I recognized and some I didn't). At the end of the meal they pass out containers for you to fill up with food to take home. We played a cute game and had some very sweet moments where a few people shared what Thanksgiving meant to them. Elder Eborn and Elder Ashby from our ward were asked to share and they both did an amazing job – especially Elder Ashby who has been here only three days. We went home with full tummys, a box full of food, and hearts full of gratitude. It is a Thanksgiving we will treasure in our hearts for a long time.

Friday was technically a day off, but we meet Elder and Sister Reeder at the office at 8:30 am. Sister Overduyn usually takes care of the mail each day, but they have family in town and so Sister Reeder and I came in to do it. Good thing as we had almost 60 letters and 6 packages that needed to be forwarded on. We answered emails and a few calls. Helped a few missionaries that came in with problems. We decided to take off mid morning to go to the Kamaka Factory tour. It’s a family run business celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. They make high-end ukulele (starting at $900.00). When we got there, there were so many people we decided to leave and try another time. So we drove to the docks where two cars were waiting to be picked up. Elder Reeder has to rotate the cars between the islands. Some places put more miles on cars than others – for instance, our 2013 car has only19,000  miles on it. So we will be swapping it with one with more miles. When they reach 50,000 miles he has to sell them. I think we have 90 something cars in our mission. It’s a big job. The rest of Friday we napped and relaxed at home. I finished sewing some placemats I started making a while ago out of Hawaiian fabric.

Saturday was spent running errands (for us and the mission), and trying to rest a little. Sunday was another wonderful Sabbath. Elder Eborn and Elder Ashby came over for dinner. We always enjoy their company and this time was no exception. Elder Ashby seems to be settling in really good to mission life. The organist for our ward has been called to be the RS President, so they asked me to fill in until they can find someone to take the calling. Technically, as full-time missionaries we can’t be given official callings – our records are in our home ward not the ward here. But we can take any assignment that helps the ward. It’s a good assignment for me, though quite challenging due to the chemo-related neuropathy in my feet and hands. It’s hard to play the pedals when the feeling in my feet is spotty at best. But, I’m grateful for the opportunity. 

We’ve had almost constant rain this past week and most days I need a sweater to keep warm…especially in the office where the air conditioner continues to blast cold air. We all are wrapped up in sweaters or blankets. So I suppose winter is here. All the stores are decorated for Christmas and Christmas music is everywhere. I love it, but truthfully it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Still, I’m looking forward to the holidays. It is my favorite time of the year.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Week 37 Report

Monday we were given permission to take the day off and spend it with our family at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We drove up together in the big van Daryn rented. Our first stop was at the Laie Temple to see the Visitor’s Center and walk around the beautiful grounds.

Next stop was BYUH where we had snacks and looked around the bookstore. It brought back lots of memories for Emily. She was a student there for a year about 10 years ago. 

Next stop was the PCC. We met our good friends Kitsy and Terry Robinson, and their daughter, Kate, and her husband, Jason, and their cute kids. What a great day! We spent part of it together, part by ourselves, and then reunited for the luau and night show. It was a long, fun, and exhausting day.

Tuesday morning we got up early to take Emily to the airport – so sad! The bad thing about having family visit is having them leave. It is hard. We spent a full day at the office catching up on all we missed on Monday – and believe me it took all day to get it done. Daryn, Catie, and Clara came over in the evening and we had a nice evening visiting and watching cute little Clara.

Wednesday we went to work in the morning, worked through our lunch, and came home about 3:30 to spend the rest of the day with Daryn, Catie, and Clara. They checked out of their hotel and were staying at our apartment until time to catch their flight home at 11:30 pm. We enjoyed visiting and went to dinner. Faster than we liked, it was time for them to leave for the airport. Bitter sweet were the good byes, but we’re so grateful for their visit.

Thursday was a busy day. President Bekker was in the office all day, spending most of his day with the AP’s working on next week’s transfers. The missionary department has recommended all missions have zone conferences and interviews every transfer instead of every other transfer like we were doing. That is huge for our mission. It means a zone conference every week for 5 weeks. Our mission is spread out over all the islands so you can’t get them all together for one or two meetigs. It’s too expensive to fly the missionaries to a central zone meeting, so President Bekker has to fly to them. We divide the island of Oahu into two meetings – one with 4 zones the other with 3. The Big Island and Maui each have 2 zones.  Kauai only has 1 zone. The 6th week of the transfer President Bekker and the APs work on transfers for the next week, and then zone conference schedule starts all over again. How does that affect me? Well, the stake relief society presidents are in charge of providing the lunches for the zone conferences, and I’ve been given the responsibility to coordinate it with all the relief society presidents. It’s been very challenging in many ways. Part of the challenge is that I wasn’t at all involved with it under the Warners, so I don’t have a clue about how it has been run. Also, I don’t see President Bekker very often so it's hard to get questions answered. But I think everything is finally coming together. Thankfully, the sisters are patient and very loving.

Devon has had his own housing challenges and today President said he was closing two apartments at next week’s transfer. He found out about a sectional couch and credenza that someone was giving away. They are in pretty good shape, so he took the mission truck and trailer to go pick them up today. We thought we would have to buy a couch for the new senior missionary couple apartment, but things have a way of turning up when we need them.

Thursday evening we went to dinner at Haleiwa Joe’s Seafood Grill In Kaneohe.

It is without a doubt the best restaurant we’ve been to. We had a delicious prime rib dinner. Our prime rib entre was big enough for the two of us to share. I've never seen a slice of prime rib a full 2 inches thick! It was delicious! And, the setting was absolutely beautiful.

Garden our table over looked.

We’ll definitely be going back there again. I wish I had known about it while our kids were here – they would have loved it! Better come back!!

Friday was business as usual, which meant putting the final touches on transfers that will happen next week. We are adopting a new schedule, so it should be interesting. But, I think I’m ready. After work we ran errands – ordered the pizza for Monday’s dinner for the incoming missionaries, and picked up a prescription at Walmart.

Saturday, our P-day, was spent running mission errands. First we did apartment check for 3 apartments. They were actually pretty good. Then we drove to Costco to pick up more food for Monday dinner with the new missionaries. Devon needed to buy 2 queen bed sets for senior couples in Laie, but the first Costco we went to didn’t’ have any. So we drove home and dropped off the food and then headed to another Costco where we knew they had them. We bought them and, thankfully, had help from Costco employees loading them in the back of the mission truck. As luck would have it, it was rainy all day. So we attempted to cover the beds with a big blue tarp. Our first attempt got us a little way down the road before we needed to stop and adjust some of the straps. After another few minutes we made another stop, for another adjustment. That one seemed to be the trick. We made it, slowly, to Laie without anymore problems.

We stopped to drop off a smoke/CO2 detector at a senior’s apartment, took some Ensigns to the Visitor’s Center, and then took the beds to two very grateful senior missionary couples. They had been sleeping in double size beds. One elder has rolled out of bed twice. Sure hope this was an improvement for them. After that we stopped at Pounders for dinner and then headed back to Honolulu. We stopped at Safeway for a few groceries and finally arrived at our apartment about 8:30 pm. Boy were we glad to finally get home – a little wet from the rain all day, but grateful we got everything on our “to do” list done.

Sunday was Stake Conference, and it was wonderful. We had great talks from our stake president, the temple president and his wife, our mission president and his wife, and our visiting authority, Elder Kevin K. Miskin (of the Seventy) and his wife. I was very touched by Elder Miskin’s talk. He told a story about a time in his life when he was hiking with his two young sons (age 6 and 8 years). They had problems coming home – actually got lost. He prayed several times for help, but none seemed to come. Finally he got an answer that they were on the wrong trail, but to continue on that trail. He listened. A little way down the trail he ran into 3 little girls who had wandered away from their family and were also lost. It was dark and getting very cold. Elder Miskin wondered what he was now going to do with 5 children – all very cold and scared. They continued together and soon they came to a road. A little way down the road there was a group of people with flashlights. They were looking for the little girls. What joy there was in their reunion. Elder Miskin and his boys continued until they finally came to their car. Later Elder Miskin was questioning why his prayers were not answered, when he realized there were others who were praying also, and the Lord used him to answer their prayers while also helping them to get home.

The Lord knows what is best for each of us. This story reminded me that I rarely know the whole picture and can get rather selfish in what I am asking for. How much better it is to put my faith and trust in the Lord and let His will work in my life. I truly believe the outcome will be much better than anything I could have prayed for. He knows my heart. He knows my needs. He loves me…and I love Him!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 36 Report

Can it be that another week is gone? Where does the time go? We’ve had two missionaries go home this week rather unexpectedly – health issues. It’s hard to see them go. Hopefully they can return.

Wednesday the long awaited day finally came. Emily arrived on the 3:30 pm flight from SLC. What a treat to have her here with us! Thursday morning she got up early to do a couple of hikes and spend some time at the beach. About noon Daryn, Catie, and Clara arrived. They checked into their hotel, had naps, and then came to the office. We enjoyed dinner and visiting at our apartment.

Friday morning we went into work. Emily, Daryn, Catie, and Clara headed to the Arizona Memorial. What a great way for them to spend Veteran’s Day. They said it was a very emotional experience for them all – well maybe not Clara. Daryn and family went back to their hotel for naps. Emily joined us and we left work early to drive up to see the North Shore.

Waimea Bay

We stopped at Waimea Bay and watched the huge waves. This is the time of year they begin getting big. There were about a dozen surfers way out in the ocean waiting for waves. The lifeguards were constantly keeping everyone out of the water and away from the big waves rolling in – some very scary looking.

After getting home, Devon, Emily and I caught a bus down to Waikiki to meet Daryn, Catie, and Clara for dinner at Dukes.

On the bus to Waikiki

Birthday dinner at Dukes

Dinner was yummy. Because it was Emily’s birthday we were treated to an amazing macadamia ice cream pie. We decided to also get a slice of chocolate chip ice cream pie. It was more than enough for all six of us. Then we walked down the beach hoping to see the Friday night fireworks at the Hilton. We missed it, but enjoyed the beauty of nighttime on the beach. We also enjoyed walking around the old Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Daryn is staying there – quite posh!

Night walk on Waikiki Beach

Saturday morning Emily and I went to a jewelry craft fair with Sister Overduyn and Sister Yim. It was fun. We each bought a necklace. After that we drove to the Swap Meet. When we got there we were sorely disappointed that it had been cancelled due to a University of Hawaii home football game. What where they thinking? So we drove home. We picked up Devon and drove to the Dole Pineapple Plantation where we met Daryn and his family. We had fun looking at everything and feeding the koi fish.

Train ride at Dole Plantation for this cute family.

Pineapple sunglasses anyone?

Next stop was Turtle Bay. Catie had never been there. We walked around, bought a couple of t-shirts, and had a relaxing time sitting on the beach. Clara loves the beach – not so much the water, but she sure likes digging in the sand.

On the way back everyone wanted to stop and get dinner at one of the food trucks. Now, I must admit I have been very wary of the food trucks and haven’t had anything from them yet. Many people sing their praise – I was hesitant. But…I gave in. To my surprise I had a delicious chicken dinner, and to my even greater surprise I didn’t get sick. Win! Win!

Yummy chicken dinner - from a food truck!

We stopped to watch a beautiful sunset before heading back to Honolulu.

Sunday morning I went to choir practice and then Devon and Emily joined me for church in our beautiful, historic, tabernacle. We came home and had short naps/rests before Daryn and family picked us up to do a little sight seeing. 

We stopped at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. It was wonderful. After that we drove to the Tantalus Lookout to view all of Honolulu from high up on the mountain – breathtaking. 

Clara and Grandpa enjoying iPad time. 

Clara came back to our house for dinner and fun time with us while her parents went on a date – dinner and a magic show. We sure love having family here.

Not sure what to call this, but it grows on a bush here in Hawaii - so colorful!

This is a live tree at the Dole Plantation. So colorful!

View from out balcony.

It’s been quite a week! I want to mention (for the sake of history) that this last Tuesday was the general election for the Presidency of the United States. The result was historic and unexpected. A total outsider, Donald Trump, won – no one expected that result.  It has caused great angst with some people – others are thrilled.  America is at a crossroads. My prayer is that we can come together and learn to appreciate and love each other for both the things we have in common and the things we don’t. After all, we are all God’s children.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week 35 Report

It’s been another great week in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission. Monday was Halloween. Our missionaries were instructed to keep dinner and teaching appointments, but otherwise keep a low profile – no proselyting. Instead the senior missionary couples throughout the mission were encouraged to organize dinner and FHE for each Zone. So the office couples got together and had dinner and some games with the Honolulu Zone (which we are in). We had a great turn out and a great time.

We dearly love these cute missionaries and they love us.

Most of the week was business as usual in the office – letters to prepare and mail, email’s to answer, return travel to request, records to update, housing problems to deal with, etc., etc., etc. Devon made one trip to Laie and one to Waipahu for housing issues. President Bekker was in the office on Wednesday so we took turns going over our individual lists of questions for him. The mission is running smoothly, but there are problems. We have a few missionaries dealing with serious illness with family members. We keep a close watch on them and they are doing remarkably well. And then we have the little silly problems – cars that get “dinged” or towed, missionaries that get locked out of their apartment, bikes that break down, and apartments that have something break or leak. It is constant, but pretty much everyone takes it in stride.

Wednesday evening Elder and Sister Overduyn invited all the office couples over for split pea and ham soup with Elder Phair and Elder Kempe. It was great. We ate, visited, and then we taught everyone to play No Peeky - a really fun game play with Rook cards. We taught it to our YSA in England and also love playing it with our grandkids. We all had a good time.

We had Elder Eborn and Elder Jensen over for dinner on Thursday (sorry no photo) and then I went to stake choir practice. We’re preparing for stake conference and the Christmas concert. I’ve been practicing my ukulele when I can, and Sister Reeder and I get together every Friday for a little jam session.

On Friday we looked at a newly remodeled apartment in our building. We are going to lose the apartment Elder and Sister Overduyn are living in when they leave in December. The owner has family that needs to live there. So we need another apartment for the couple replacing the Overduyns. This new apartment is on the 29th floor of our building, has an amazing view, and, as I said, is completely remodeled. I think we may move to it and let the new couple take over our apartment. Devon’s not anxious to move, but I would love the view. Besides there’s a dishwasher and all the windows and doors have screens on them – something we don’t have here.

Friday evening our dinner out was with the Overuyns and the Evans (senior member and leadership missionaries). It was at the Pagoda – a restaurant surrounded by a moat with lots koi fish. It was pretty good.

Saturday started off with stake Christmas concert choir practice at 7:30 am. After that Sister Overduyn and I got pedicures. When I got home Devon was watching the BYU football game. We watched until half time then set the DVR to record the game and headed out to run various errands. We came home and watched the end of the game, even though we already knew they won. Go Cougars! In the evening we decided to go see a movie and ended up in a remodeled theater with recliner chairs – very nice.

Sunday was wonderful, as always. Elder Yoshihio Kukuchi, an emeritus general authority, visited our ward and bore such a sweet and strong testimony. We also met a sweet senior couple from Washington who are here on vacation for two weeks. It was fun to talk with them.

After church we had short naps and then headed up to the monthly Break the Fast with the senior missionaries in Laie. We left an hour early to check on a couple of apartments. One is being remodeled and Devon wanted to see how it was coming along. It looks good, but we didn’t have a key so we could only look through the windows. The other apartment is one for a senior couple – not so nice. I think we’ll exercise faith and keep looking. The couple doesn’t arrive till later in January. Housing is so hard to find that it’s hard to let go of a vacant one even if it isn't ideal.

The dinner with the senior couples was very enjoyable – good food and good company.

We were beyond exited to run into Elder and Sister Gray at break the fast. They are a couple from Orem that we served with in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple a few years ago. They come to BYU Hawaii every winter semester as service missionaries for 4 1/2 months and love it. Our paths have crossed with so many wonderful people here - old friends and new.

We close our week with great anticipation. Emily arrives on Wednesday and Daryn, Catie, and Clara arrive on Thursday. We are beyond excited! We’ve worked very hard to get ahead in our work, so we will have time to enjoy their visits. We close this week with continued gratitude for the opportunity to be here. Truly there is nothing better than serving a mission together.

Love these interesting palm trees.