Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 17, 2015

An excerpt from a letter MLS wrote to our family.  Hope it brings smiles to you as it did us:

I woke up this morning in the Mission Presidents house w/ 3 other sisters from the M.T.C.   We slept in "the GA room", because it's where all the General Authorities stay when they come to visit.  APARENTLY Russel M. Nelson is kind of a beach bum...just try to get that mental picture!  President Warner is a great man.  He and his wife have it together.  Strong eyebrows, soft hearts.  It was a lot like vacation staying there.
When I first got off the plane I was weak in the knees!  The palm trees!  Everything is so green.  The people are so beautiful.  Mama you were right about the smell, heaven!  P. Warner gave us kukui nuts to wear around our necks and we headed to Tantalis.  Its a lookout point where you can see all of Honolulu.
This place is unREAL.  Flowers grow everywhere.  So exotic.  I swung from a banyan tree!
My companions name is Sister Soriao (pronounced "Sorry-O") and she is from the Phillipines! Or as she says "Pilli-pines."  She is humble and...just Solid.  She grew up near Manilla, is one of ten kids and the only member in her family.  She is 23 and - if we're being optimistic - reaches my name tag.  Though she be but little, she's FIERCE.  It's the first day, but she's orchestrated this hot mess beautifully.  With the coordination of a plate spinner.  Maybe a cup stacker.
All of us MTC friends hugged or shook hands and parted ways.  Which was weird b/c they were all I knew!  We met up with some sisters who knew how to get to Kane'ohe (Khan-knee-oh-hey) We drove 25 minutes to get here.  The mountains are covered by clouds.  I kind of hope the Celestial Kingdom has at least a corner that looks like Kane'ohe...if it has corners!

We live above a member, Auntie K, and when we came up the the pad, she was in here + in a tizzy!  and rightfully so.  The place was T.R.A.S.H.E.D.  We're talking Christmas tree in the kitchen, laundry in the bathroom sink, random papers everywhere.  TOE UP.  And Auntie K was ticked.   Frankly, I was overwhelmed.  I had no idea what I was coming into.  But, I looked Auntie in the eye, apologized, shook her hand, and got to work just like the other sisters.  We all worked for awhile until the general crap was out of the pad.  By then we were hungry so we went to McDonald's. 
As we walked in, a sister paid for our lunch b/c she recognized us.  She gave us all Aloha kisses before she left.  Lunch was Good!  It was food, so it was good!  All we have in the apartment is soy sauce and 2 pop tarts so free lunch was a tender mercy 4 sure!  After lunch the other sisters left.
They call it "white wash" when you start an area with 2 new missionaries.  The only info we could find was the old ward mission leader.  We called him and went right over.  Our place doesn't have AC or fans, so I was rockin' a frizzy, Farrah Fawcett Fro kind of situation.  Brother Kanahele said I was greener than Uncle Someone likes his bananas ;) (Apparently he's Tongan + digs plantains). 
Next we headed to the only house Sister S remembered from doing splits here long ago.  We pulled up to a little blue and brick house with an open carport and laundry hanging on the line (10 t-shirts, a bra and some big tighty whities, haha).  We said a prayer and went in.  Grandpa (all seniors are "grandpa, grandma, auntie, uncle") opened the door and invited us in.  Their home was ornamented with trinkets and tchotchkes on every surface.  A sweet layer of thimbles, salt and pepper shakers and state spoons layering everything.  Grandpa pauses his game of online poker and invites us to sit.  He goes to get his wife and as I felt the shag carpet under my feet and the air, so heavy around me, I thought, "this is what I'm here for.  These people.  And I'm supposed to be RIGHT HERE."
Then, in walks Grandma from the back room.  No kidding, she reached my belly button.  Okay, maybe 2 more inches.  She is a Japanese woman, 80 years old, with penciled in eyebrows and she sort of sauntered in with her arms all the way up in the air.  To Sister S she says, "Sister!  Aloha.  I thought we'd never see you!"  And she sounds a LOT like the grandma from Mulan, no lie.  She comes in for a hug (presumably gets grand canyon'd by my chest;) and gives me an aloha kiss!  a loud one, right in my ear! and says, "oh sister! So tall and fair.  I remember when rear end was that round and my hair was that long.  Of course, I feel fortunate to be alive at 80, but I did have a nice bum!" ...y'all I am NOT making this up!  I died laughing!
She invited us to sit down at her kitchen table where Grandpa was setting up the drinks.  Square Micky Mouse glasses from the 60's, a block of ice the size of a bar of soap and pink straws.  He pulls out my chair and returns to his, where he cracks open a can of Arizona strawberry kiwi lemonade.  Grandma gets a fancy bowl she stacks Chips Ahoy cookies in and we all sit down.  Grandpa, when he can fit a word in, tells us of his baptism in April.  He goes to church every sunday along with Grandma who was baptized at 8.  Their kids are not members, but Grandma says she'll let them decide.  Just as her parents were Buddhist, she is LDS.  They will find their way.  She point to a small shrine with a statue of Buddha and says its to honor her heritage.  The lady is a Spark Plug!  She repeats things about every 5 minutes, so its lucky she's so funny!  She has jade and copper bangles up both arms, a light pink button up on.  They have lots of records and she tells us how she used to be a dancer at a hotel in Honolulu.  We vow to sit close to her on Sunday and we leave with a sleeve of Chips Ahoy and FULL HEARTS.
After picking up cleaning supplies, and heading back to our pad, I felt a lot of peace.  A lot more than I think I should have.  I just felt seeringly confident that this was, so strangely, but so clearly, MY place.  
We cleaned until time for dinner with the Kanacale's, where the women ate separate from the men.  Uncle played ukulele while we finished and did the dishes.  He is the assistant ward mission leader and really pointed us in a good direction.  We shared a message and headed home where the zone leaders had dropped off a fan (PRAISE!).  We live on a corner by both the school bus and city bus stop.   With the windows open its kind of loud.  The houses are close and our neighbors like reggae;)  I laid in bed thinking about the day.  It was so great.  The work we have to do is MIGHTY and I know we could, by no other means, bring it about.

Today we knocked doors.  Along with personal study, companion study, weekly planning and language study for sister S and sort of me too?  "Basa ang Anklat ne Mormon!" (read the Book of Mormon, y'all) and ukulele!  Im learning "Abide with me" and it's kinda coming along.  Sister S has the most entrancing voice.  It's kind of other worldly.  She also replaces most words that start with f's with p's [see also: pish, pocus, Heavenly Pather] and she is Perfect!  Oh and lunch of rice and canned fish?! and clementines.  (seasoned sprinkles optional;)  We tracked for about 4 hours.  One guy answered the door with a doobie in his hand.  Another lady, Auntie Claire, said she believed every single thing the Mormons believed.  We asked her why she hadn't been baptized.  She said she was Buddhist and they accept ALL truth.  And she has a gambling problem she can't kick! Haha!  We then went and visited a Marshallese family.  The mom and 4 of her sons have been baptized. They live in the back of a shared house with their 14 kids!  About 1/2 of their adult children have at lease one child of their own and all live there.   We walked through an alley of houses to get there.  There were 2 HUGE Sandlot dogs behind a sketchy chain link fence--kind of scary.  The dad, Season, was outside working on a boat motor.  As soon as the little kids saw us, they crowded around the door.  6 tan faces with big brown eyes;) We shook Seasons hand and then all the kids (the oldest was 4)stuck out their tiny, sticky hands to shake.  The smallest Lei's hand was the size of a tic tac container.  I almost died right there!  The oldest, CheChe, pulled on my skirt and asked, "sista, are com from de mane lan?!"  Be still my SOUL!  Lei has straight across bangs and never stops staring at us.  We have an appointment with them Monday.
We met the Bishop tonight.  Sister Kanahele asked if we had any dinner appointments this week.  She organized dinners for us until Sunday.  Before we left she found my thank you note, yelled "IOWE!" and ran to the door to give me the tightest hug EVA!  She's an absolute Angel!  Anyway, the Bishop is a doctor, a urologist and male reproductive...  He's very Richard O. Lloyd.  The least Hawaiian Hawaiian I've come across, I think.  Very quiet, very reserved, very tired, but quite helpful.  And somehow he cried during our dinner message! Shout out to the Holy Spirit! Or maybe he was so un-enthused he began to weep...either way, the work is sweet!
I miss you all a ton!  I say little prayers for you all day long! 

All of my Love,

Philippians 4:12

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