Getting Ready to Move

Former Garage Is a No-Go Zone!
Former Garage Is a No-Go Zone!
I had expected that we’d be in the same apartment our entire 23-month mission and would have three moves: into the MTC, to Hawaii, back home. Well, we’re adding a fourth … a move to Hau’ula (pronouced ‘how”ooh-lah’. The contract hasn’t been signed, yet, at least as far as we’ve been informed. However, we’re setting up to move on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning next week. We’ll be working the morning shift on Thursday and the afternoon shift on Friday, so that should give us enough time to be moved. The housing coordinator from the Mission is bringing up the Mission’s pickup truck to help with the move.

We’ve been watching a little bit of the Olympics on TV and I’ve noticed some ads from Enterprise Car Rental that they also now rent trucks. I’m going to give them a call to see if we can get a truck larger than a pickup for next week to make the move much faster … perhaps even down to one trip with both vehicles.

Renovation work has started in earnest. Today they started the asbestos abatement in both our garage and the other senior couple’s garage. I’m already missing having a garage to store things. We don’t have a staging area for this move!

The Temporary Move Staging Area
The Temporary Move Staging Area
We’re stacking boxes in and around the couch. Since the apartment is unfurnished, almost all of the furniture here is going over there. The benefit is that we won’t have to unload and box up drawers. But, there’s still more than plenty of stuff that needs to get into boxes.

BUT! We’ll have a short reprieve from all this move hullabaloo. Heather and Ty are flying in on Monday afternoon on their way back to Mumbai!! They’ll be here a couple of days and leave late morning on Thursday. They’re making a bit of a travel sacrifice for this trip … flying Korean Air from Hawaii to South Korea and then from there to Mumbai. They’ll be in Business Class, so I’m pretty sure they won’t be surrounded by all the Korean tourists bringing all their loot back home. I’ve heard that Business Class is pretty much OK, but Economy can be quite an adventure. It’ll be so very much fun to have them here with us for a couple of days.

So, with that ’til next time. Ta ta for now.

We’re No Longer Homeless!!

Two days ago I got a call from a lady who had an apartment for rent in Hau’ula, the town just south of Laie. I had called her about the place a week ago and she’d just rented it. That fell through so she called to see if we were still interested. It’s a three-bedroom two-bath unfurnished apartment on the ground floor with a carport. No air conditioning, but it certainly would be sufficient for the next 5 1/2 months. She wanted more that the Church was willing to pay, however, so it looked like it wasn’t going anywhere.

This morning she called back and agreed to rent at the price the Church was willing to pay for 5 1/2 months given that she could close off one bedroom and store some stuff in there and, for some reason, close off one bathroom. There is another bathroom in the master bedroom, that just means anyone coming to the house would have to use the bathroom in our bedroom (but it also means one less bathroom to clean). We also can’t have anyone else stay in the other bedroom unless we pay vacation rental for that time. It’ll make a nice study / office. 

So, the final contract is being drawn up now and we should be able to move in next week. 

Today we finished getting everything out of our garage so they can start the work in there. The first job is asbestos abatement. Personally I’d rather be out of the apartment when they start disturbing the asbestos insulation in the ceiling of the garage, but that’ll not happen. 

This is good news today. The new address is 54-174 Kawaipuna St., Hau’ula, Hawaii. Ta ta for now!

We’re Being Slowly But Surely Moved Out….

We were notified today that we have to vacate our garage on Wednesday so they can start working on the garage conversion on Thursday. There is a Lot Of Stuff in our garage. This has been the place for tools and machinery for many years. I’ve no idea where it will all go. Meanwhile, we also have some stuff in the garage that needs to be put somewhere until we find a place to move. Further, the first set of work is asbestos abatement. This is not fun. Two weeks later they want us out of our apartment so they can proceed with the conversion.

We looked at a place a couple of miles south of Laie this afternoon. It would be acceptable. It’s a three-bedroom two-bath apartment with a carport, pretty much unfurnished. The owner want $2,350 a month which includes all the utilities. The Church wants to pay no more than $1,850 a month … I’m pretty sure they won’t come to an agreement. There isn’t anything else available within a twenty-minute drive. Did I say this is not fun?

We’re both recovering from colds. Nina is doing quite a bit better today and I feel like I’ve turned the corner. A good night’s sleep tonight would be a big help!

End of rant! ‘Til next time!

Six Months To Go … And, We’re Moving (Somewhere)

Traditional Hula at the Aloha Luau
Traditional Hula at the Aloha Luau
Seventeen months ago today Nina and I were dropped off at the Provo Missionary Training Center by our grandson-in-law Randy Strader. Our official release date is February 9, 2017, six months from now. While it seems like we just got here, I’m certain this six months will fly by just as quickly.

This afternoon we were assigned to “guard” the exit at the Aloha Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. What that entails is sitting by the back exit and guiding people to the restrooms. Occasionally someone will come in that way thinking it’s one of the entrances. In that case we direct them around to the front. This is a pleasant assignment as there’s no stress and little to do other than watch the people and the luau program.

Eating Dinner at the Aloha Luau
Eating Dinner at the Aloha Luau
Tonight’s luau was pretty full and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The luau program consists of short presentations from a few of the Polynesian islands, recognition of birthdays and anniversaries, some audience participation, and a youngster performing a fire-knife routine. The program lasts just about an hour and fifteen minutes. The first picture is of a traditional, ancient hula form practiced in Hawaii when hula was reserved for the priests and was part of their religious rites. The second picture is of a group having dinner at the luau. The food is served buffet style and is definitely all-you-care-to-eat. The luau starts serving about 4:45pm and the buffet remains open until 7pm or until the last guest leaves, whichever is earlier.

Late last week we were informed that our apartment is going to be converted from a one-bedroom with a garage to a two-bedroom no garage and that we will have to move somewhere else. One possibility is in the neighboring town of Hau’ula, about 4.7 miles south of Laie Temple Visitors’ Center. This is the upper floor of a fairly large house. We’ve only seen the outside. Tomorrow after our shift ends at 2:30pm we’re hoping to be able to see it. I’m pretty sure the Church is going to put it under contract, so either we will have to or the other senior missionary couple will have to move there. We have first refusal as we’re the most senior. Problem is, there isn’t much available and this may well be the best that can be found. It’s a difficult situation and one that we had hoped to avoid. However, the Church has budgeted this year to convert the remaining two apartments in the complex where we’re living into two-bedroom apartments. We really need to additional bedrooms for sister missionaries, so we’ll probably just have to suck it up. There’s only six months left. That’s not very long in the whole scheme of things!

Ta ta for now!

Summer Colds Are the Pits … Particularly During Summer in Hawaii!

Nina has come down with a cold. It’s in the beginning stages which means she’ll be feeling lousy for the next week or so and it’ll probably degenerate into laryngitis. And, of course, I’ll be next in line. However, there isn’t really time to take time off to be sick, so we just plug through it, taking advantage of every second at home to rest and sleep.

Greeting Guests at the Visitors' Center
Greeting Guests at the Visitors’ Center
The statistics are in for the month of July. We had 22,389 guests during the month. That’s 10,000 more than the same month last year. Part of that increase has to do with the Laie Tram Tours from the Polynesian Cultural Center during the afternoons. In July we had 8,893 tram guests, compared to 2,510 in July a year ago. Both numbers show a pretty dramatic increase. It’s clear to us that the Lord is hastening his work and we’re running hard to keep up. We’ve just been notified that we’ll be receiving 4 additional sister missionaries at the end of August and that’ll start taking some of the load off the sister missionaries.

Taking Pictures of Guests
Taking Pictures of Guests
So, what do we do with all of these tram tour and other guests? As the two pictures indicate, our sister missionaries spend a lot of time in the afternoons outside in the courtyard greeting guests, answering questions, taking pictures, and inviting them to come into the Visitors’ Center for more information. Many do that. Some prefer to stay outside and enjoy the beautiful setting and the peaceful, calm atmosphere. It’s quite a contrast to the noise, hustle, and bustle at the Polynesian Cultural Center!

Monday is usually our least busy day, probably because the Temple is closed on Mondays. An additional factor may be that people on vacation are flying in or back home on Mondays. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days. We’ll get around 500 guests on a Monday and around 1,000 on Saturday and Sunday, literally twice as many. As a result, all of the Preparation Days for the sister missionaries are spread across Monday – Wednesday. The two senior couples (Elder and Sister Andrus along with Nina and me) have our Preparation Days either on Wednesday or Thursday. That means we can have the most missionaries available to meet and greet guests on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

‘Til next time. Ta ta for now!

Tropical Storm Aftermath and Other Odds and Ends

Royal Palm Trees ... In Distress
Royal Palm Trees … In Distress
Tropical Storm Darby made its way through the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday and managed to cross every one of the islands! That hasn’t happened for more than a hundred years. The storm itself was pretty benign, that is, until it was well north of Laie. And then it really broke loose.

A storm tail erupted over the Kualoa Mountains (these mountains bisect the Island of Oahu) with horrendous rainfall and incredible lightning and thunder. Honolulu was particularly hard hit with significant flooding closing most of the major roadways and stranding a couple hundred motorists. Up here we were presented with a magnificent lightning show that lasted for several hours. The lightning, thunder, and downpour eventually subsided about 4am Monday morning.

Downed Palm Fronds
Downed Palm Fronds
The winds weren’t very heavy, perhaps 35mph gusting to 45. They did knock down a number of palm fronds and a plethora of leaves everywhere. The Royal Palm trees lining the road and walkway to the Temple look like they’ve been thoroughly thrashed. The groundskeepers at the Laie Temple spent a very long day on Monday cleaning up the aftermath of this little storm.

Our main concern had to do with local flooding down near the seashore. Eight of our sister missionaries are housed in two apartments right on the seashore. The area where these buildings are located is in a bit of a depression. If that started to flood, they needed to evacuate to higher ground. What flooding occurred was pretty minor and all was well.

Last month the Church sent out new smoke/carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every missionary apartment. All of our apartments have a smoke detector installed in every bedroom. I check them every transfer when we do apartment inspections. While we don’t have any apartments that have any appliances that could malfunction and generate carbon monoxide, I obediently installed them in every apartment. We had two of them fail. One went off in the middle of the night and wouldn’t be silenced. It just gave off a continuous shriek, not any of the shrill beeps it would be giving off if there was an actual problem. The sister missionaries eventually had to cut the battery wires to silence the device. The other one wouldn’t function at all. After all of that, every apartment has the original smoke detectors as well as the new smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Then, a couple of days ago, a couple of sister missionaries serving in Michigan were awakened in the middle of the night by their detector signaling that there was a problem with carbon monoxide. They called 911 and went outside. Then realizing they were probably the only ones in the apartment building with a carbon monoxide detector, went back and woke up the residents to get them outside probably saving a number of lives. The story is located here (this story is definitely worth a couple of minutes to read!!). That by itself has paid for all of these detectors wherever installed! Meanwhile, every missionary has to log into the Church’s missionary portal every month and certify that they’ve tested the smoke/carbon monoxide detector. If they don’t, their leaders eventually get notified to do a followup. This is just another real reminder to me that the Church takes our well being and safety very seriously.

After a very busy eight days, we have a Preparation Day tomorrow. At the moment I’m not planning on setting my alarm clock. I wonder if I can actually sleep in?

‘Til next time! Ta ta for now!

Hurricane Season Has Arrived

Tropical Storm Darby is making its way through the Hawaiian Islands today through tomorrow. It didn’t become strong enough to be called a hurricane; it only got up to maximum winds of about 40mph. But, it carried plenty of moisture with it as it came through Oahu today! As of right now the center of the storm is about 70 miles northwest of Laie headed straight for the Island of Kua’i. It should pass across that island by Monday afternoon.

Last year there were five hurricanes in the central Pacific around the Hawaiian Islands with none of them coming very close. That was considered to be a very active hurricane season. This year, because the El Niño has subsided, is supposed to be less active. A full-blown hurricane hasn’t made landfall in Hawaii for more than twenty years.

Taking Pictures of Visitors' Center Guests
Taking Pictures of Visitors’ Center Guests
One thing that every missionary at the Visitors’ Center becomes very proficient at is taking pictures of the visitors. Most want their picture taken in front of the Christus statue in the Center. Many Church members also want their pictures taken out on the courtyard with the Temple in the background. Very often someone will come into the Center and ask if someone can come out to take a picture.

The Williams Family Reunion from the Cook Islands
The Williams Family Reunion from the Cook Islands
Today we had a very large group in the Visitors’ Center. They came in this morning to have a group picture taken in front of the Christus. Their family originated in the Cook Islands and are now scattered around the Pacific and the mainland. This year they held their periodic reunion in Laie and more than 130 family members were in attendance. Elder Andrus and his wife were on duty when they came in and he spent about a half hour taking pictures with various cameras. Just about everyone there who had a camera or smart phone wanted a family picture taken with their own device. By the time the were finished, some of the children were mighty happy to be done sitting on the floor!

Cook Island Story Teller
Cook Island Story Teller
One of the Williams family members came over to the front desk where I was standing. He asked me if I knew why their homeland was called the Cook Islands. I answered that I thought it was because Captain James Cook had “discovered” the islands and made them known to the world (while James Cook did indeed land in the Cook Islands, he wasn’t the first and didn’t claim the islands, I’ve since learned). He replied, “Well, that’s one story. However, my story is that we were the first of the civilized Pacific Islands in that we cooked our people first before we ate them!” That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. Wish I’d gotten his name!

‘Til next time! Ta ta for now.

Sixteen Months!

Threatening Clouds over the Shaka Statue
Threatening Clouds over the Shaka Statue
We arrived in Laie on our mission on March 19, 2015 … sixteen months ago today. All of the clichés about time apply abundantly!

Earlier today I had a conversation with a fellow from Wellington, New Zealand. He’s a less-active member (“not-yet-converted member”, said his wife of one year … second marriage for them both) of the Church waiting for his wife to do a session at the Laie Hawaii Temple. He has a small software company in Wellington doing telephone-related software for large companies and government entities that need customization for their phone systems. We had a great technical conversation. This is the first time since we’ve been here that I’ve had any kind of a deep technical discussion related to software, database design, and development methodologies. It was quite a lot of fun, and for him as well.

Then our discussion turned to doctrine. He had a number of questions where what he understood from science doesn’t seem to fit very well with what Church members tell him is “the truth”. The discussion centered around the scientific concept of entropy and the 2nd law of thermodynamics… that over time entropy always increases and eventually devolves into equilibrium. Simply stated, the 2nd law posits that this universe where we currently reside must eventually cease. He wondered how that fits with the Church’s teaching that we have no beginning and have no end. I’ve given a lot of thought to the concept of time, such as why does time go forward? It isn’t constant, so what are the real attributes of time? Theoretical physicists like Stephen Hawking have put a lot of attention to this subject and there is much more unknown than is understood. I explained to him what I currently think related to his question.

That is, that “time” exists only in our current estate. We have another estate where time doesn’t exist and we left that estate to come here where we became subject to a lot of physical laws, such as time, that were not part of the previous estate. At some time we’ll cease to live in this estate and will eventually (perhaps at resurrection) return to our previous estate. And, because time is a part of this estate, entropy is increasing, and this estate will eventually cease to exist as energy equilibrium is reached. To me, that’s consistent with what we teach and believe. Now, what I’ve just written may or may not be completely true, but in general it seems to fit. He hadn’t thought of time in that way, and left with a lot more to think about and ponder.

His wife came into the Center after finishing her session at the Temple and asked about Kolob in relation to what her husband and I had been talking about. Abraham 3 talks about Kolob being the place near to where God is. I suggested that “where God is” would be the estate from which we descended and where we will eventually return. It would be “outside” this estate. So, to me Kolob being “near to God” probably means “near in time”. What if, I suggested, Kolob were the first “thing” that emerged from the Big Bang (given that theory is correct), then Kolob would be nearer in time to God than anything else. It’s kind of a wild idea, but it makes sense to me given what little I know and how much is unknown.

They left having made a commitment to rethink some of the science in terms of an eternal God and us as eternal beings, to first assume that is true and then work through the implications. I told him he’d find that there is much more commonality and agreement between Mormanism and science than any other religious belief system. I hope that’ll make a difference for him and his activity in the Church. Who knows … someday we may get to Wellington, New Zealand and meet again!

In six and a half months our mission will become history. At this moment, that seems to be far too soon.

Aunt LaRella’s funeral and burial was today. I read in Twitter that there was a massive power outage in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming. I hope that didn’t impact the funeral and burial. A number of years ago I attended my Aunt June’s funeral in Tooele, Utah. Just before the funeral, the city cut the power to that entire part of town because of a transformer problem. That meant no lights in the chapel, no organ, no microphone system. The funeral went forward, though. A fellow brought a generator over in the back of his pickup to make the sound system work and get a few lights working in the chapel (which had no windows). It all worked out in the end.

‘Til next time … ta ta for now.