Sunday, February 2, 2014

We Arrived during Christmas Break

Settling in

We arrived in Laie, Hawaii, December 20, 2014, just before Christmas.  That was a blessing for us because we had time to get our apartment fixed up, redesign it to feel like "home", buy a car, and get the supplies we needed before the semester began.

Ace Hardware saw us way too much! Foodland, Costco and Walmart all became our friends. The last two stores require about a 2 hour travel round trip.  We walked and drove about "getting to know Laie".  We also needed to get our official BYUH cards that get us into a lot of place on campus.  We met and became acquainted with many Elders and Sisters serving here and other employees who had not gone away for the Christmas break. We awaited the return of some key people at the college to whom we needed imput on other issues.  We also met and received a branch assignment from our Stake Presidency. But.....while we waited we did a couple of special "Christmas activities" to make our first Christmas in Hawaii special.

Christmas activities

First,  on Dec. 23rd, we went to the Christmas Lagoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  You rode through the night sky on a large canoe that held about 30 people.  As you drifted along, they had a LIVE NATIVITY including chickens, goats, donkeys and actors portraying the nativity characters.  There were songs like, "O Holy Night", etc being sung by Hawaiian singers and dancers.  It rained as we stood in line for over an hour (they had over 3,000 visitors that night) but as we boarded the canoe, it was a clear, beautiful starry night.  The live re-enactment was very meaningful in our hearts!

We visited with those in line with us, who happened to be Michael Ballam (the musician), his wife and son, Ben!

We felt a wonderful peace being there and remembering the great importance of the birth of our Savior!
Second, there was a Christmas Party for all of the Sr. Missionary Couples.  It was hosted in the rented home of the Fullers, an amazingly generous and loving missionary couple!!

It was complete with excellent food, Christmas caroling and sharing of Christmas Traditions!!
It was really nice to get to meet and become acquainted with so many new couples serving in our area!
It was even complete with Santa in a Sulu ( the black polynesian skirt men wear)!!
Don't be too disappointed that you cannot see Santa's Sulu and legs.  You aren't missing much! :)

Third, on Christmas day, we, along with two other missionary couples, went to the famous Turtle Bay Resort to enjoy the buffet and then walk outside around their beaches.  What special memories and friendships were made that day!
Elder Dennis Wright/ Sister Kaye Wright/ Sister Peggy Rowell/ Elder Lynn Rowell/ us

It was a delicious buffet!  

We both took ALOT of pictures outside!  It was so beautiful!  They don't show here but there were a lot of surfers at Turtle Bay!
It was hard to believe it was Christmas time with the weather as stunning as it was!! 


"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord...Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."  Luke 2:11, 14

We are FINALLY FULLY ENGAGED in the Work!! That's a good thing!!

Even though it is still absolutely beautiful here in Laie....

....AND the beaches are calling to us......

.....we are now spending most of our time inside in service to the amazing students here on the island!

This is the chapel where the religion classes are taught for BYU Hawaii.  Craig spends much of his time with lesson preparations, student counseling and of course, teaching student religion classes. He currently teaches about 110+ students each week.  The challenges are the many cultures and languages that are represented here at the college.  All of the students are required to speak English to a certain measurable level to be accepted to BHU Hawaii.  There are many that are turned away until they can pass a proficiency test.

On BYU-H campus, there are many tutors.  Some of the languages tutored are Spanish, French, English and possibly other languages.  I work in the Language Center as a tutor in English.  Many students have a need and a desire to improve there English listening, hearing, speaking and comprehension skills.
I work face-to-face, one-on-one with individual students for a half of an hour or an hour at a time to help them improve their English skills and accomplish their assignments correctly.
I have found this very rewarding and fulfilling.

The students I currently work with come from Taiwan, China, Japan, Tonga, Samoa, South Korea, Indonesia, and Tahiti.

    Most of the students at BYU-H are "working their way" through college by working at the Polynesian  Cultural Center.

The church is working miracles in the lives of these students every day!  The Polynesian Cultural Center provides a way for students to work to pay for their education! Many are performers, food services, cleaners, hospitality personnel, retail workers,  dishwashers, etc.  They also are guides leading tours in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, or other languages.  They learn many, many business skills to help them in their future lives after their college experience.

 The students attend school during the day and mid-afternoon they walk or ride bikes over the to PCC.  They can only work 19 hours a week, but while they are there, they really work hard!

 Many of these students would never have the opportunity for higher education without this wonderful system to bless their lives.

We, also, work at The Polynesian Cultural Center.
We work one night a week in various assigned duties, such as collecting tickets at one of the five eating venues, counting customers, or monitoring certain areas. All senior missionaries take their turn serving once a week!  This is a two way blessing....for the missionaries and for the PCC.

Here we are in "uniform"! Very appropriately comfortable, don't you think so?

We are also Temple workers once a week for six hours!  It is a true blessing to serve in The House of The Lord!

Stake assignment

The first Sunday we were here in Laie, we walked over the the Stake Center to go to church at 9 am.  The meetings started at 8am, 11am, 1pm and 4pm.  So a bit disappointed, we decided to walk down past the stake offices to see if we might meet our new Stake leaders.  It just so happened that a counselor, President Black walked out into the hall and greeted us.   He called us into Stake President Hannaman's office, along with President Akina.  They sat with us for 20 minutes or so.  They asked us what our experiences were. We shared with them generally and then, when they heard of our service beginning and building branches in Burundi and the Congo, they asked us to serve in the newly begun Young Single Adult Sunset Beach Branch as Mentors.  We were to join Elder and Sister Wright who were already mentors there. We accepted and we immediately followed them in our car to the Branch about 20 minutes away! The branch currently meets in a Community Center!  So we help set up chairs and tables, etc. each week.

There are a potential of 300+ YSA's living in the set boundaries, but as of yet the attendance is usually only 40+ people.  So there is a lot of work to do!!  

We meet with the RS and Elder's quorum presidency meetings, FHE's, branch activities, branch work projects, temple baptisms, and temple endowment sessions, along with the Sunday block of meetings.  We have also begun going out to "invite back".  So we have started stopping by homes to meet and greet these great young single adults.  We enjoy meeting with and spending time with such great individuals!

This past week on Jan. 26, 2014, we spoke along with Craig's amazing visual presentation at a Multi-Stake Fireside in the Cannon Activity Center.  Our Stake President, President Hannaman, had asked us early to excite the students in Family History work!  Craig's visual presentation was inspiring!
First Counselor in the Laie YSA !st Stake, President Black, introduced us.
We were excited to present TOGETHER!
It was an interactive presentation!

We felt good about how it was received by the students and were grateful for the opportunity to serve!


More gratitude give me,  more trust in the Lord,  more pride in his glory,  more hope in His word,  more tears for His sorrows,  more pain at His grief,  more meekness in trial,  more praise for relief.