When It Rains….

Taking Pictures
Taking Pictures

Today is the first day since we arrived a little more than five weeks ago that we’ve had any significant rainfall during the day. But, we’ve learned first hand that when it rains on Oahu, the rain comes down in heavy. copious amounts! We were not close to our umbrellas, either. The locals are used to it and almost always have an umbrella handy. I’ve seen in the store a device for hanging the umbrella on my belt that looked pretty useful (if I wore a belt…). Tomorrow afternoon is forecast to be rainy and that’s when we’ll be at the Visitors’ Center and I’ll be outside. I think I’ll keep my umbrella close by.

As we were going to Church today we both got quite wet between the car in the parking lot and the Chapel. The air conditioning was going full blast (as usual) and it didn’t take very long before both Nina and I were more than a little chilly. It did get better as our clothes dried out.

Church services today were excellent and we’re starting to recognize a few members of the Ward. We also decided to join the Ward choir as a means to get to know some members a bit better. It is a very small choir and they were happy to have us participate. We both enjoy singing in the choir and we’ll have a good time being part of this group. Several members of the Ward are associated with BYU-Hawaii and as a result the discussions in Sunday School, Relief Society, and Priesthood Meeting are delightful.¬†We are going to enjoy being a part of the Laie Third Ward!

Because the Temple grounds and the Visitors’ Center are so beautiful, everyone who comes wants to take pictures and have their picture taken. That is probably my primary job when we’re working at the Center and I’ve probably seen every smart phone make and model on the planet. Most people have iPhones with Samsung being next. Any Samsung other than the recent Galaxy models have screens that are simply too dark out in the bright sunlight. iPhones and the recent Galaxy models work great. Quite a few people use their tablets also as cameras. A couple of the Samsung models work reasonably well, but most tablets are very, very poor cameras. Fortunately, I haven’t dropped any (yet). The most vulnerable time is during the exchange … when they hand me the phone or I’m handing it back. I have to be very careful because that’s a Lot of Money when one gets dropped!

This Sunday evening is coming to a close and we’re starting another week. We’re having a great time in this little corner of paradise!

Life is very comfortable.

Making Someone’s Day

A Reflection Picture
A Reflection Picture
The Laie Temple opens Tuesday through Saturday at 7:00 am and the last session of the day on Saturday is 1:00 pm. The Temple is then closed until Tuesday at 7:00 am. Today I talked to a very delightful couple who had a traffic problem and just missed getting into the 1 pm session. They’ll be going home on Monday and missed the opportunity to go to the Temple while they were here.

It looks like about half of the visitors to the Center are members of the Church. Lately we’ve had a number of groups from mainland China stop here. The tour companies like to bring people to the Visitors’ Center because we treat people very well, it’s such a beautiful place, and it’s free. The tours usually only stop for five or ten minutes before they’re on their way again. The sister missionaries and I try to meet these tour groups out by the fountains to offer to take their pictures and to invite them to come inside. The sister missionaries are excellent tour guides once people come into the Center, particularly if we have a missionary that speaks the visitor’s language. Today a group from China stopped and Sister Qiu (from Hong Kong) greeted them and they got so interested that they were in the Center for more than a half an hour while their tour guide cooled his heels….

When possible I like to meet up with members who are visiting. That was the case this afternoon with the couple that missed the session. They spent about 20 minutes with me as I gave them a brief tour of the exhibits in the Center and talked about the history of the Temple. We have a number of videos available to show in two theaters and two smaller teaching rooms. One video is an older film about the Laie area, the Temple, the university, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. This film is five minutes long and I invited them to see that video which they really enjoyed. As they left, the wife said to me, “Thanks for making this a wonderful afternoon!” Money can’t buy these kinds of feelings!

A film company is here making a new 30-minute video on Laie, the university, the Temple, and the PCC which is scheduled to be shown this coming October between sessions of General Conference. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have put together. This place is worth more than a five-minute video!

Life is very comfortable.

A Little Beach Time Pays Great Dividends

Watching the Sunset
Watching the Sunset

When we finish a shift at the Visitors’ Center we’re both quite ready to sit down (and perhaps even take a snooze). Such was the case today. Our shift ended at 2:30 pm but there were a few wrap-up things so we didn’t leave until after 3. When we got back to the house both of us just kind of collapsed. I have a paper that needs to be notarized. There is a local office with a notary, but she wasn’t in today. They told me that the bank in a neighboring town had a notary, so I left Nina stretched out on the couch and drove over there to find that their notary’s day ends at 3 pm. I was a bit disappointed, but nothing I could do. Driving back I decided that waiting until tomorrow to get the notarization done wasn’t the end of the world. Further, it was time to do something a little more fun and invigorating.

The town of Laie is on the east side of the island of Oahu. About twenty minutes west of here is Sunset Beach which is on the west side of the island. Sunrises are beautiful in Laie. The sunsets at Sunset Beach probably are the same. So, when I got back to the house I suggested to Nina that we go watch the sunset. That meant, of course, rearranging schedules and mealtimes. Sunset was at 6:54 pm tonight and we wanted to be there well before sunset.

It worked out. We got there as a small rain shower passed through, headed west out over the water. As a result, there wasn’t much of a sunset to watch as the clouds pretty much obscured the sunset.

Nina Checking Facebook
Nina Checking Facebook

But, the beach was delightfully calm and very pleasant. There was a fallen palm tree on the beach which provided a very convenient seat (I did bring folding chairs in the trunk of the car, we just didn’t need them). We watched people, the sun go down, and the waves crash on the beach until a bit after 7 pm and came home quite refreshed.

Our day at the Center was pretty quiet for the most part. We have days where the place seems to be mobbed and other days where very few people come in. Today was pretty much in the latter category. Most of our visitors this morning were people here in Hawaii because someone in their family (a son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter) graduated last Friday from BYU-Hawaii. When people fly to Hawaii they might as well stay at least a week and most of them do that. I understand that the next few weeks will be pretty quiet until school starts letting out for the summer in the US. June and July are supposed to be very busy at the Center. I rather enjoy busy days since it’s very interesting to talk to a variety of people.

Instead of a variety of people, today we had a variety of computer problems in the interactive displays at the Center. The technology being used is rather dated and is scheduled to be completely updated this summer. While that will definitely bring a different set of issues, I won’t miss the current set when they go away.

Don’t miss Nina’s blog!

Life is very pleasant.


All Over the Island Shopping … Preparation Day Fun

P-Day Shopping
P-Day Shopping

Our travels started at 7:45 am this morning and ended at 4:30 pm this afternoon. In the process we drove completely around the island of Oahu … at least as roads would allow. Click on the map for a larger view.

The western tip that juts out into the Pacific Ocean doesn’t have a navigable road (the guide books say a high-profile four-wheel drive vehicle is required). There isn’t much over in that area as it is.

The first stop was at the dentist office in Kailua, a 50 minute drive south from our house in Laie. I had an issue with a bridge in my mouth (it’s across the front teeth). It felt like it was coming loose once again. The dentist discovered that a piece of cement was out of place, removed that and buffed up the edges, and I was good to go. Major tender mercies here: (1) it didn’t cost anything, (2) no root canal required, and (3) I was finished in fifteen minutes. There was a Safeway store near the dentist office, so I met up with Nina there where we did the major part of grocery shopping that should be good for the next three weeks or so.

Then it was off to Target which was about twenty minutes away from the dentist’s office. We actually didn’t go into the store! What we needed to buy were things needing to be kept cold, so that was going to be our last stop. Before that we needed to pick up a muumuu for Nina and a matching shirt for me for us to wear when we volunteer at the Polynesian Cultural Center. There were a few stores in the area that might carry what we needed … but to no avail. A very helpful clerk in Macy’s suggested that we try Hilo Hatties or Manuhaealii. Hilo Hattie was familiar to us; those stores are all over the Hawaiian Islands as well as on the west coast of the mainland. Google gave us the address, so that’s where we went. The store was about 35 minutes away from Target.

We successfully found something that will work. It isn’t very exciting … but the muumuu and shirt are definitely functional and will hold up for the next two years. Since we still needed to pick up some cold and frozen items, we then went to a nearby Walmart.

That was the strangest Walmart I’ve ever been in. It was a two-story Walmart with a people escalator and a companion shopping cart escalator. The shopping cart escalator was slightly slower than the people escalator so there was time to start the shopping cart up (or down), get onto the people escalator, and arrive before the shopping cart. It was quite ingenious! The other strangeness was the parking. The parking garage was above the Walmart. Fortunately we found a parking place close to the elevator.

But even then, we still needed a couple of other items, plus we needed to fill the car with gasoline. Costco has the best price for gasoline; it would also have the last of the frozen items we needed. So, we made the half-hour drive to Mililani. But the time we finished at Costco it was 2 pm in the afternoon. Nearby was a “Ramen Ya” shop. I haven’t had real ramen since Japan, so that was our lunch stop. I’ll eat there again. Gasoline at Costco was $2.789 per gallon for 87 octane gasoline. Here on the north shore it’s $2.999 per gallon for 87 octane gasoline.

Then we drove up the highway through Haleiawa, past Sunset Beach (the surf had attracted a lot of surfers), past Turtle Bay, and back to Laie. That was another hour of travel.

The scenery on Oahu is beautiful and quite varied from huge, steep mountains to lush valleys, densely populated high-rise cities to massive pineapple and coffee plantations, and broad expanses to beautiful beaches. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the scenery and variety. It’s clear why people love living here and many others fervently wish they could figure out how to make a living here. That last part is very difficult. There aren’t a lot of well-paying jobs and the cost of living is high. According to the US Dept. of Commerce, it costs $130 to buy on Oahu what I can buy for $100 in Pocatello, Idaho.

And, to top it all of, our youngest son Jared got his results back today from his cardiologist. All continues to be well and stable and he’s to go back in a year. That last heart surgery at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake back in 1993 (or thereabouts) is still holding strong. Wahoo!!

Nina also wrote about our travels today. Her version is at https://seashellsandseaglass.wordpress.com/.

Life is just plain ducky! (that is, flash flood warnings are out for our area due to strong storms forecast to come ashore in the next hour or so).

Standing Room Only … Barely

No Room!
No Room!
I’m beginning to figure out some of the ways to make the new Photos application on my Macbook behave like the older iPhoto did. The options had to be there somewhere, and slowly they’re revealing themselves. The latest was the right way to skinny down a photo so that it loads much faster. Computer screen resolutions are not very sharp compared to what we can do when we print a picture on photo paper. Consequently, most photos on the web, like Facebook or Instagram, have resolution set for the computer screen, but don’t have sufficient resolution to be printed on anything larger than a 4×6 print. I’m getting happier with the application. There’s still much more, though, that needs to be found.

Sunday evening a local, popular, and well known children’s choir performed a half-hour program at the Visitors’ Center. The program started at 6pm, but by 5:30pm all seats were taken. By 5:45pm all standing room had been taken as well, including all of the doorways. The program, what I could hear of it, sounded quite delightful. Nina was able to be in the room and said that the program was “fabulous”. Someone brought their dog and left it outside the door. No leash. And, the dog wanted inside. Wanted quite badly to be inside. We had to open the doors to get some air circulation as well as to let people stand in the doorways, so I found myself outside holding down the dog. He was an older dog and completely deaf, so he didn’t bark (that was goodness) but had to be restrained (that wasn’t goodness). After the concert was over, the owner came out, whistled, and he and the dog left. That’s kind of the life of a missionary at the Visitors’ Center!

Last Tuesday I went an hour south of here to Kailua to a dentist because a bridge in my mouth had come loose. The dentist put it back in, but said that it probably wouldn’t hold very long as there wasn’t much tooth left to hook onto. He said that when it started to get loose again, I should come back because he’d have to do a root canal and put in a post to give something for the bridge to be cemented to. Well, five days later it started to come loose again. Tomorrow morning I’ve a 9am appointment for a root canal. As I remember the count, I’ll be down to two teeth that haven’t had a root canal. But, the bridge should be stable for quite a while to come. I’ve definitely inherited my dad’s poor teeth!

Front Gates to the Visitors' Center
Front Gates to the Visitors’ Center
We’ll be volunteering a few nights each month as ticket takers for the luaus at the Polynesian Cultural Center. That requires us to be in matching Hawaiian costumes. Yesterday we visited the costume department at the PCC to see what they had available. That turned out to be futile … they didn’t have anything in our sizes that matched. So, in addition to getting teeth fixed tomorrow, we’ll be shopping for a mu’umu’u and a matching shirt. That should be interesting as we’ll want to find something sturdy, that will hold up for a couple of years, as well as match our rather finicky tastes in clothing. I’m certain that a picture will be in order when we finally find something. Our first assignment is on May 1st, twelve days from now. By then we need to be in costume! By purchasing our own clothing, we’ll be able to bring it home with us rather than turning it back in to the PCC. I’m thinking that MAY be a bonus as well.

Over the past couple of days we’ve had some wonderful family and friend visitors at the Center! A family from our ward along with her mother and step-father stopped in to the Center on Monday morning. We had been there for our 7:30am weekly training meeting. I was going out to the car while Nina took care of some business at the front desk when I saw this large group getting out of a car in the parking lot. Something prompted me that I should go over and say, “Aloha!” and greet them. As I got there, I recognized everyone, including the step-father! He was a person that went to school with me back at Soda Springs High School, some 53 years ago. He’d come over to the house and we’d work with my ham radio station. I hadn’t seen him since then other than a few posts on Facebook. The mother, his wife, was a fun and delightful widow in one of the wards in our Stake where I was assigned as a High Councilor for a couple of years. I was very happy to learn that the two of them had found each other and gotten married. Meanwhile, my old classmate was kind of dumbfounded that I had been a High Councilor! We both agreed that we’d let activities from 53 years ago remain buried….

Then, later that day my cousin Beverly Tomlinson and her husband came into the Center. Their son Jay was graduating from BYU-Hawaii and they were there for the occasion. Her mother is my dad’s only sister. It was great fun catching up on what was going on in their lives. They stopped by again for a few minutes this afternoon to introduce me to their son. He’ll be here a few more months, so we’ll see about having him come over for dinner some evening.

One delightful side benefit of being a missionary here at the Visitors’ Center in Hawaii is that we’ll see and be able to visit with lots of family and friends over the next couple of years. I’m rather liking this! It isn’t missionary work, this is missionary fun!

Life is very pleasant!

The Book Training Is Done … How Does That Match Reality?

We’ve finished the orientation training for the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). The training today was all about customer service and how to handle various situations. The overall theme is to “delight the guests” and I’m looking forward to volunteering over there.

Our assignments will generally be to take tickets at the various eating places at the PCC. In some cases that may also mean being at the exit to direct people to the restrooms, smoking areas, and to help people find the right entrance. It should be a good experience. Reality will be on May 1st when we are assigned to one of the restaurants to take tickets. It’s one of the more popular restaurants so we should be pretty busy for the two hours we’re there. Of course, a report on the evening will definitely follow!

Life is good!!

Working On Another Qualification

Seashore at Sunset Beach
Seashore at Sunset Beach

Today was our “Preparation Day” … the day that we clean the house, do our shopping, do the laundry, go sightseeing, or occasionally sleep in. We don’t have a shift at the Visitors’ Center on our Preparation Day, the one day a week that we have “off”.

So, after doing a small amount of housecleaning (I vacuumed the floors; Nina did the laundry yesterday), we drove along the north shore past the Turtle Bay Resort and stopped for a while on Sunset Beach. There was a storm a ways off shore and nice huge waves were coming in and crashing on the beach. I took some video that I’m trying to figure out how to get it onto YouTube. That used to be very easy from the old iMovie app in iLife, but with the latest release, it just isn’t working like it used to. It’s pretty frustrating, actually! Right now the problem is that it doesn’t use the right password when the app is trying to log into YouTube. It doesn’t use the password that I supply for some strange reason. So, for right now all I can do is include a (large-sized) picture which I also can no longer skinny down before posting.

This afternoon Nina and I attended the first session of training to volunteer at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We’ll complete the training tomorrow afternoon and then we’ll be qualified to assist at the luau’s held nightly (except Sunday) at the PCC. The benefit for us is that on the nights we volunteer, we get a free meal. We’re scheduled to volunteer three times in May, so that’s three nights we won’t have to do any cooking or cleanup. That sounds good to me!

Because we haven’t done the job-specific training (that happens tomorrow), I’ve no idea what we’ll actually be doing on the nights we’re scheduled to be there. I suspect it has to do, in part, with taking tickets. I’m sure there are other tasks. More on that in a future blog post after our first experience on May 1st!

I did get a haircut today at the “Haircut Shop” in Laie. It was about twice as expensive as what I’ve been paying back in Pocatello, but it looks OK and will last for five or six weeks. As usual, hair is highly overrated. I don’t want mine back in the resurrection!

Check out Nina’s report on the day on her blog at https://seashellsandseaglass.wordpress.com/. I’ve also put a link to her blog at the top of this page in the menu bar.

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday we’ll be on the morning shift and opening up the Center at 9am. Wonder who we’ll meet this week?

So, I go to post this and the hosting company is having issues and my blog is down. Further, it’s bedtime.

Life today is a bit convoluted … but all is well in Zion!

Another Day in Paradise….

Laie LDS Temple at Eventide
Laie LDS Temple at Eventide
The major activity today was a trip to the dentist. One hour each way into Kailau for a 20-minute appointment to re-cement a bridge in my mouth that had come loose. The bad news is that this is a temporary fix. I’ll need to come back to have a root canal done so a post can be put into the remains of one of the teeth holding the left side of the bridge. There just isn’t much tooth left. One of my many body issues is a mouth full of pretty poor teeth. I think I’m down to three teeth left that haven’t had a root canal done. My dad had poor teeth and I remember when he had the last of them pulled when I was about 6 years old when we were living in Tooele, Utah. He had false uppers and lowers for the rest of his life.

Each day in the evening right around sunset we get some beautiful light in the sky. At this time of the year the sun sets just to the right of the Laie Temple. By the time we get to the summer solstice, the sun will set directly behind the Temple. We also usually have partly to mostly cloudy skies as we approach sunset which makes for some pretty dramatic sunsets which the iPhone camera cannot capture. This picture is a “ghostly” representation of what the Temple looks like about twenty minutes before sunset.

Today I met several people from Vancouver, British Columbia, a place that we’ve visited when taking cruises to Alaska. It was fun to talk to these folks about their beautiful city, the rose gardens, and the eclectic eating establishments. I also talked with a couple from Manila who did business with a company I used to work for and sent me to the Philippines on several business trips. I talked with a couple from Louisiana about a couple of restaurants in New Orleans (not in the Bourbon Street area) and their delicious shrimp dishes. Another couple were from Nova Scotia and had arrived yesterday after a fourteen-hour airplane ride. These were just some of the people who visited the Laie Temple Visitors’ Center today. Each day has such a diverse set of people, including a Chinese couple from mainland China who, after I had asked them in (poor) Chinese if I could take their picture, insisted on having me in the picture with them. Another photo album has an unknown white guy who spoke a few words of Chinese.

Life is delightful!