March 1st 2016
I really hope you don’t hate me for being a bad child and not getting a good email off to you this past P-day. Computer time was rushed and you know exactly how well that DOESN’T work for me. Anyway, I greatly appreciate the updates you offered me today. High school sports . . . . dogs playing Biggest Loser . . . No jokes that should be a thing. Obviously Ivie has no need to be a part of that, and neither do you. But I did meet the sweetest german shepherd/border collie cross that could use some serious shaping up. It was so confusing. It pranced around like it was perfectly normal so I thought it was just some sort of adorable fluff ball but then when I touched it I realized the whole cutie was for real, the build of a baked potato. Other than that small detail, she reminded me a lot of Ginger. Her face, the way she bit my hands when I got her hyper, and then how she managed to wiggle her nose against the screen to get it to open. Shoots life is lovely.
With that said, however, this past week was extremely weird. Tuesday was interviews with President Warner which, in normal circumstances would only take maybe an hour, hour and a half max, out of our schedule, but since Sister Biggs and I are STLs, we were privileged to spend all day checking our fellow missionaries’ planners and area books and chatting with Sister Warner. Practically a day off. Especially since we’d made it a goal to spend time getting to know the ward members by bouncing around the chapel on our night. Promise it was time well spent!
Wednesday morning we left early for service at Pearl Harbor where we did more legitimate work than ever before. Not that I have much of anything against sweeping concrete, directing guests that looked lost, stripping wire, or taking quizzes on the history of the USS Missouri. It’s all great. But I do love to feel busy, and pulling those internet wires sure was a goody! Plus we got to spend even more time than usual in the off limits areas of the boat. Volunteering definitely has some perks.
Service at Pearl Harbor
We got home around 2:00, did studies and got a magical phone call from the Olomana sisters telling us they heard rumors of a Golden at the Paikuli-Stride’s house. We rushed Riiiiight over because those opportunities always need seizing and also because the place that the Stride’s live at is my favorite place in the world. Possibly I’ve told you before, it’s hard to know sometimes if I wrote it or emailed it or only thought about either writing it or emailing it. Seriously one of my major life struggles. No matter though, I’ll tell you about it just in case because there is nothing I’ve experienced that is as perfect as the farm.
The Stride’s farm is on Old Hawaiian Land. Old enough that they got away with keeping it even though it is located inside what is now the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. I remember the first time Uncle Roy Hirokawa showed us the way in. The nine kids were all spread around. But actually I don’t know if they were all home at the time or not. One riding in the mud ruts on a bike, another two, older and younger, running alongside, Mark coming to greet us, Susan and Kupa’a over at the chicken coop. Father dog was happily meeting us at the car, too. It is such a happy place. That is probably my favorite saying from Hawai’i: drive a mile and you’ll find yourself in a different country. I somehow made the mistake before getting here that the island fever would set in quick. There isn’t seemingly much room for variety after all, but I have found that each island, instead of being like one segment of the mainland, is full of all the variety of the mainland simply shrunk down to scale. While Uncle Roy talked to Brother Stride we drank it in. So incredibly untouched I wish you could see. Then I heard, “The chicken is dead!” Just some everyday adventure for them! Eventually we made it to their living area. Picnic tables under the metal roofs. Fridge, freezer, stovetop, all the normal kine pots and pans, OUTSIDE. I loved it so much. And those nine dogs too. I think they ended up scooping the chicken with a shovel, though I’m not sure where it went. You can bet Kupa’a guarded the last one even more thoroughly than the Dodos and their melon.
Uncle Mark and Noe have always kept the farm as the safest of places. Offering it up at every opportunity for service, missionary work, and fostering. I can see why people escape right to them. It heals you, or at least begins to, within minutes. Like I said, nine kids, nine dogs, and in the best of ways, I mean it when I say that their personalities match in all different directions. The best hugs I’ve had could quite possibly have come from Na’omi and JJ (and the pups). I think I might want to try living there sometime. It’s the kind of place where it is okay to eat using your hands even when there is dirt filling the ridges of your finger tips. It doesn’t feel like filth, it feels like that’s how it’s meant to be.
Mykayla came to them from Moloka’i. She’s 17 years old and has been through plenty more than most. There’s a lot I could say about her but I think it might be enough to state simply that she took notes. She and Kupa’a and Makamae are set to be baptized on the 19th of March, but since the family has some pretty tight ties to the Olomana ward we’re still holding out to see if we’re the ones that get to see them through it. I have felt so completely torn by it, and it has been bittersweet to see the yoyo back and forth. She, Mykayla, attended James’ baptism, which by the way was very kindly pure I nearly clapped when he emerged from the water. Part of me wants the clapping to be a thing, the other part knows that the bottled up rejoicing is what keeps it so impactful. We taught a short Restoration while he changed and I nearly said that Joseph Smith himself came in the flesh to visit the ancient native Americans. I think the folklore I’ve heard out tracting lately is starting to leave it’s mark. Sorry for my tangents. Back to it, the Stride’s told us they were going to church Sunday at Olomana. I felt so off teaching the lesson after we found out. It wasn’t our lesson to teach anymore. We did get to play volleyball for a few minutes before we left, and that was, of course, quite a tender mercy. Without competition, however, the grandest tender mercy was when:
- Sheri (an active nonmember) and her father Dixon walked into sacrament meeting. It’s been awhile since he’s come with her.
- When seconds later Sister Stride (Noe) and MyKayla and Kupa’a and Na’omi and JJ (a girl by the way) came breezing in last minute.
Mom, my heart was brimming all the way to my eyes. I was so happy I could nearly have cried. I’d hoped and prayed so earnestly that they’d magically decide that Kaneohe 1st was for them after all, and there they were. Then James was confirmed and without us knowing they’d interviewed him to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. The hour could not have been more full. Later, of course, we found out the Stride’s were just running late for Olomana, but that’s beside the point. I still believe He answered a prayer.
Yesterday was Sister Biggs’ birthday. Yups, a leap baby. Such an exciting time! Please know, I was watching Leap Year with you all in my dreams. The elders did a good job putting on a Zone lunch after zone meeting. Chili, rice, cake, ice cream, basically all the Hawaiian missionary food pyramid is composed of. But the sweetest was when Brother Mossman called a meeting when he dropped off our dinner to Aunty Lola’s. Will someone say “legitimate surprise?” I am so thankful for thoughtful people. It is something I am currently working on myself. Definitely have a ways to go, that’s for sure. But to be fair 😉 , it’s kind of hard to orchestrate birthdayness for someone to whom you are literally (except not really) joined at the hip. She almost got super lucky. Lucky enough to have her birthday on a p-day, but since this week is temple week we had proselyting on Monday and p-day on Tuesday. Shoot, having a leap day birthday is a real kicker. I’m sure the temple made up for it. I certainly think it did. The drive alone was simply amazing. Right along the coast the entire time. Not going to lie right now, the sand and waves looked so tempting, but the patience will make it even better, yeah? I never really thought I would like to live in Hawai’i. I like winter. I like the color brown. The golden’s mostly. I like being dry and doing my hair with the guarantee it’s going to look at least somewhat close to the way I intend. But then I realize that it DOES feel like winter, the island does have a few brown spots (I mean golden), and it’s nice to have a more legitimate excuse for not being able to control my hair. Of course, you all would have to move out here with me. A place in between Kaihalu’u and Han’ula would be nice! Anyway, depending on the day, the temple for me can be either anxiety increasing or anxiety decreasing. Most of the time it is some of both. Yesterday (it is now Wednesday morning BTW) I was much more at peace. I’ve been feeling pretty lovely lately for the greater part. I really do wish we could go more often. There’s only so much time one can attend the temple as a full-time missionary, after all. I am grateful that we get to go as often as we do because I know many if not most, are not quite so lucky. I think my favorite part about it is the Pow Wow after where each of us rediscover that we’re all still trying to figure it out enough to reconcile. I love the temple and there is no denying all the potential it creates to get lost in questions if we don’t constantly secure our foundation. Maybe that’s just a me thing.
with Sister Blackner at the temple
To put my life in a nutshell right now, I’ve honestly had a heart so swollen. So many sweet, sweet things have happened and I wish with all of me that you could feel it and that I will never forget it. Missions are weird.
all my love
PS. Thanks for the poinsettia advice. It’s reviving well! Also, we went running this morning. Success. Please tell Esther, Rob, and the kids thank you. I’ll write soon. Grandma, as well. Oh, so much writing to be done!
Also, don’t you dare type this up. Too much WORK. Maybe scan images of it or something? (The editor forgot to read the words in the border. Oops).