Before I begin my report, I want to add a photo of the mission home photos on the wall at the Mission Office. President Warner asked me to finish the project for him, and I'm so happy with the way it turned out.
Orientation begins with Elder and Sister Williams. What a wonderful couple – they bring great enthusiasm and lots of talent to the mission. Monday was a full day in the office. Training a new person really makes you realize just how much you have been doing. We worked until about 5:00 and then closed up the office. The other couples went home – we went to Easy Music Store and I bought another ukulele (you just can’t have enough ukulele!). This one is a tenor 8-string. There are 2 strings for each note. The 2 G strings are tuned an octave apart, as are the 2 E strings. The 2 C and A strings are tuned in unison. When holding chords the blend of these notes creates a “chorus” or fuller effect. I played three different brands of 8-string ukulele and decided on a Kala made out of solid acacia wood. The sound is very nice and the price was half that of a Kamaka or Kanilea. Bottom line – I’m excited to start playing.
We caught a ride with Williams over to Bibi’s apartment for FHE. What a sweet evening. The potluck dinner was delicious – as always – and it was wonderful to be in the company of so many good-hearted people. Sister Reeder and I accompanied the opening song, “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today”, on our ukulele. Bibi gave Devon and I each a beautiful ginger flower lei. Boy do they smell good! The short lesson was about memories and how to preserve them. At the end we always gather in a circle, hold hands, and sing “Aloha Oe”. I mostly listened and fought back tears.
Tuesday was another full day of orientation. Sister Williams is taking everything in so well. Devon and Elder Williams spent most of the day moving things out of an apartment they were closing. That was an eye-opener for Elder Williams! I brought a load of laundry to work and used the AP’s washer and dryer to get it done. They live in a little pad next to the office. President was in the office and we got some questions answered and a ton of letters signed.
In the evening Jack and Norine Francis from our Manoa Ward took us out to dinner at a nice Tai restaurant. He is Devon’s mother’s cousin. The food was delicious and we had a wonderful time visiting with them. They gave me a beautiful, red orchid lei.
Wednesday was a full day of orientation at the office. The Williams are catching on well, so that makes our hearts happy. We know things will be left in good hands. We were invited to lunch with Sister Yim. She took us to a wonderful Indian cafe called Govinda's Buffet - all you can eat - food for the soul. It was at a Hare Krsna facility. The food was amazing! There was a steady flow of people coming to the little cafe. Good food and a sweet spirit there. It was truly a treat! Thank you Sister Yim.
Elder and Sister Shutz invited us over for a yummy dinner of taco soup, veggies, and fruit salad. The evening was even more special because Elder Dushku and Elder Vanshaarm joined us. They are sharp elders. We had a great time visiting, laughing, and enjoying a good meal.
Thursday was much the same. The week has been punctuated by goodbye visits from many elders and sisters. That tugs at my heart. Many of them didn’t know we were leaving – we’ve tried to be quiet about it. We sure do enjoy the hugs and well wishes from these wonderful young people. My only regret is not getting more photos with them.
Sister Lybbert and Sister Talbot
Elder Lybbert (no relation to Sister Lybbert) and Elder Hardy
Elder and Sister Reeder treated us to a delicious dinner of stew, green salad, and French bread. Sister Larkin, the wife of the Marshall Island Mission President joined us. She came to Hawaii for medical treatment. She is doing well and will be returning back to the mission next week. It was another wonderful evening. We really appreciate the kindness of our mission office friends these last few days. We have developed friendships that I hope will continue long past our mission days. After dinner we went home and packed our bags and then fell into bed.
Friday – final day! We showered, loaded all our bags into the mission truck, and checked out of the hotel. Then we went to the office. It was a shock to look on IMOS and see our names listed as “Released.” Ouch!!!! We kept busy all day with final orientation. In the evening all four office couples walked to the bus stop and rode to Waikiki where we met President and Sister Bekker for dinner at Duke’s. There was a little bit of a panic when we were told there was 1 ½ hour wait. Fortunately we were able to get seating on the patio where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner while we watched the sun set over the ocean. What a wonderful way to end our time in Hawaii. We said some very heartfelt goodbyes and managed to keep the tears at bay. I sure hope we get to spend time with these wonderful people again.
Last view of Wakiki and Diamond Head
Sunset and sail boats. Beautiful view from our table at Duke's.
Oh, how I will miss these wonderful people! R to L: Elder and sister Williams, Elder and Sister Tufts, Elder and Sister Reeder, President and Sister Bekker, Sister and Elder Shurts. I love you all!!!
We caught the bus back to the mission office, had one more round of goodbyes, and then Elder and Sister Williams drove us to the airport. We were relieved that all our bags were under the weight limit – thanks to some creative shuffling before we left the hotel. We had borrowed Sister Reeder’s scale so we could check the weight before we left the hotel. The plane was completely full. We were so glad we decided to upgrade to the bulkhead seats. We were also very relieved that they let us carry on all three ukulele. We left on time and with a good tail wind arrived about 40 minutes ahead of time. What a wonderful surprise to see our dear friends, Gwen and David Dodge waiting to greet us at the very early hour of 6:30 am. We had no idea they would be there. Emily and Marianne were also there to pick us up and take us to our new home. Lori, Eric, and Emily had worked so hard to have everything ready for us. The house looked great! Now we have a big job ahead of us to unpack all the boxes.
We went to the Stake Center to be released at 9:30 am. The stake president couldn’t be there so we were released by one of his counselors. It was a sweet moment, but just like that it was over. We looked at each other and said, well, what should we do? So we went home, unpacked a box or two and took a nap.
In the evening we met at Lori’s ward for a wonderful family party. Everyone living here in Utah came – what a treat – but we sure missed our California family! We had a delicious meal of Hawaiian haystacks, salad, rolls, and a variety of yummy desserts. DELICIOUS! Devon and I gave a kukui nut lei to everyone and shared some thoughts about our mission and about Aloha. Then the tables and chairs were put away and a rousing game of dodge ball began. This is getting to be a fun tradition. The kids love it! How wonderful it was for us to be back with our family and to see them enjoying being together. My favorite things! We were exhausted by the time we got home. The red-eye flight had caught up with us.
Sunday was glorious! We went to sacrament meeting at our Highland 16th ward, then went the Emily’s sacrament meeting to hear her give a talk – two great meetings. We had a wonderful dinner at Gwen and David Dodge’s home – hamburgers, grilled pineapple, tomato-avocado-cucumber salad, and pie (coconut cream and key lime) for dessert…so yummy. It really is good to be home. Once we are rested and unpacked things should settle into a routine.
In our ward’s sacrament meeting the choir sang a beautiful hymn. I want to share the words of the verses, as they were so meaningful to me:
Long ago, within a garden,
Adam tasted of a tree;
Death would be our awful burden;
Only One could set us free.
Jesus came to win a pardon
For us in Gethsemane,
Humbly suff’ring in a garden,
Crucified on Calvary.
Death began within a garden,
Fruit of a forbidden tree.
Life sprang from another garden;
Hope came from another tree.
Come to Christ and be forgiven;
Taste the fruit of Father’s tree,
Sweetest fruit of all His garden,
Dwell with Him eternally.
By Devan Jensen
We went on a mission because of our testimony in our Savior and a desire to serve Him by serving his children. It was hard – hard to leave our home and family – the work was hard. But, we would do it again in a heartbeat. Our testimonies are even stronger. Our relationship is stronger. Our circle of friends wider. Our hearts fuller. In the end, we are the ones who were blessed the most.
This chapter ends – a new one begins. We are looking forward to the future and new ways to serve. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our family and friends. Your love and support means so much. We love you. We hope to spend more time with you, and find new friends. We sign off the only way we know how…Aloha, and may God be with us all.