Monday, July 18, 2016

In Hilo with Aku

Sister Macey Smith
887-A  Mililani Street
Hilo, HI  96720
Sister Smith, Aku & Sister Baumgardner
So we are teaching a man named Aku.
Well that is not his real name, but that is what everyone has been calling him from "small boy time."
He is actually in hospice care.
And he is a breathing, smiling, sunny miracle.

The circumstances are crazy!
We were sent to the Hospice of Hilo- quite by accident- and also by Bishop.
A less active member had just entered the boundaries and no one knew her.
But we were lucky enough to get to know her. 
Her name was Carmen Kawelo and she was very near the end of her trip here.
She had long, wiry black hair and soft brown eyes.
Eyes that were warm.
She only had a few days left by the time we got to her.
She wasn't very conscious either, but she spoke to us in a soft whisper and she would just hold my hand so tightly in her own strong and marred hand.
The only thing I know about her is that she used to dance in Waikiki and she loves turtles. 
This was back when I was serving with Sister Hwang and we got to spend small and precious time brushing out her full hair.
We would weave it into big braids on either side of her gaunt but kind face. 
And sometimes we would even hum.

It was one of those slow motion kind of moments to look at Sister Hwang on the other side of the big bed, resting on the railing, she had so much love in her eyes for Carmen.
This lady that we hardly knew.
God's love was so tangible.

So, on the last day Carmen had here, we walked into the building, in a quiet rush.
As we passed an open room on the way to room #10, I saw a man in his 60s who smiled at us as we passed.

We went on to see Carmen, we found only an empty room. 
And we held hands for just a minute, knowing that this was right.

On our way out, the kind man waved us into the room.
He was with 2 other people, directly across from him was Aku.
He wears plain white t-shirts that are always clean, with plaid boxer shorts and socks. 
He has the whitest beard.
It is neatly trimmed and his eyes, though sunken, are deep.

The man that introduced us in was a member in the ward 1 hour south of us. 
He is the groundskeeper and had been invited (for the first time in 10 years of working there) to meet and talk with Aku.
Originally he played old Hawaiian songs and talked about family history. 
But he had recently understood that his calling was to teach Aku about the gospel.

Only a few days earlier he had given him a copy of the Book of Mormon.
And he said that in his 10 years there he had never seen a set of missionaries there.

But there we were, on a Tuesday.

I ran into the definition in my studies this week.
Its called divine choreography.
And it happens all the time, we just don't see.

So we go to teach Aku every week.
He always stands up to shuffle over to the door to tell us goodbye and give us aloha kisses.
I hope I never forget the way he says prayers, his thick pidgin accent and hand wrapped tightly around mine. 
"thank you, Heavenly Father, for my sisters."
He has been gaining weight and he has been sleeping better, but I can't help but wonder how much time is left.

It humbles me to know that the Lord would let us come in for the winding up scenes of such a beautiful life. 
He saves his tapioca pudding for us and every now and then challenges us to a game of Hanafuda ( a Japanese card game).

And it was on the wicker chairs in his room, lucky #4, that he asked that question,
"when did you know it was true?"

Divine Choreography....

I am grateful for the time and the people and the grace I have been blessed by. 

And I am grateful for YOU all and the love you show me!

Sister Smith