Friday, November 27, 2009

November 14, 2009: Hawaii - Day Seven Part One

Saturday was our last day in Hawaii. We were sad to leave, but it was a fun-filled day! First, we drove to Waimea to meet Bango and Kristine for brunch. We wanted to have at least a couple of hours that was devoted to Apartment #9. The really fun part was that Kristine didn't know that Tiffany was coming, so when she walked into the restaurant she said, "Is that TIFF?!" It was awesome. I love surprises like that.

Kristine hugging Tiff after realizing it was her.

We sat down to eat, and gave Kristine and Bango their present from us. Even though I went to her shower, I held off giving her the present so that everyone else could be there. We compiled our favorite recipes into one book with pictures and the spices that went along with it.

Kristine and Bango opening their present

Most of us got the breakfast crepes, which were heavenly! We ate and talked and took pictures and grilled Bango and Kristine about their future plans.

Steeres, Gancinias, Tottens, Tiffany, Hills
Heidi, Kristine, Tiffany, Marlane, and Renae - missing: Jenn and Mikie :(

After the brunch, we went our separate ways. Dave and I took Tiffany to see Waipi'o Valley, and the Hills and Steeres went to fly in a helicopter over the waterfalls. We got packed up and headed to the reception in Honoka'a....

November 14, 2009: Hawaii - Day Seven Part Two

After getting packed up, we headed back up to Honoka'a for the reception. It's a bit daunting going to a reception where you don't know many people, but I was recognized by a few people having visited Kristine last January. I went to church with her and apparently I stood out.

Kristine's Centerpieces
The food table was incredible. It combined Hawaiian food and Filipino food and I have never in my life seen a larger variety at one reception. There was chicken, beef, fish and pork, as well as about 20 different sides. And it wasn't catered! The people in the ward cooked all of this! Really - I kind of think that is how it should be. But, I guess it's not always feasible depending on the circumstances of the wedding. It was fun to see how involved Bango and Kristine's ward was in the event.
The cake - I loved her colors. They were so peaceful and to see a roomful of them was so very ocean-like. :)
Have I mentioned that Russ and Matt have a great sense of humor? While they were out and about, they decided to buy matching shirts in Kristine's colors. We got a big laugh out of it. It was fun, though, because we all looked matchy-matchy and island-y.
We were so very tired, but having so much fun. Dave's eyes are open. He always looks like they are closed in pictures.
Here we all are with Kristine while Bango is singing up on stage. It was just luck that Tiff brought a shirt that had the light blue color in it. Marlane and I bought shirts at Hula Moon for it.
Bango working the crowd.
Three trays of meat!
We chose a table in the back so that we would be inconspicuous, but it didn't work. We were called everything from the "Crew from the Mainland" to "Those ocean people."
I was hoping for some kind of cake shmooshing action here, but they were well-behaved.
Bango wrote a song for Kristine and performed it for us. I wish I had it on video because it was a great song!
Look at this beauty! I have never seen her look so happy and it was wonderful to be able to see this expression on her face all week!
Matt and Renae - getting their groove on.
Kristine performed a hula for Bango, which, if you know her, is a HUGE deal because she is not one to be in the spotlight like that.
What's a reception in Hawaii without Karaoke? We decided to join in the fun, and sang "Lean On Me". Kristine jumped up on the stage to join us. The last time we all sang together was at our ward closing social in 1996 where we sang the song "Apartment #9". It was fun and tearful and we looked pretty dorky, but who cares?
Finally it was time to go, so we took one last picture with all of us before heading to the airport for our red-eye back to Phoenix. The only thing that would have made this trip better would have been to have Mikie, Jenn, Joe, James, and Ben. Someday we will all get together with our spouses, but living all over the country makes that tough. It's been 15 years since I moved in with these girls (instead of moving back to Phoenix, which was my plan). That decision changed the course of my life. It's funny how that happens. And now, 15 years later, all seven of us have been married in the temple. We talked about how important our little group is to each of us, and how grateful we are to have found each other. We don't see or talk to each other very often, but, we know that another 15, 20, 30 years could go by and we will still all be friends, who stay up way too late talking and eating stuff that isn't good for us. I know that there are groups of women like this all over the world, and I'm just grateful for my #9 girls.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 13, 2009: Hawaii - Day Six

After sleeping in for a bit, we got ready and headed to Honoka'a to get in some shopping. First, we went to Waipi'o Valley (I told you - it's my favorite place).

Renae, Marlane and me

Next, we headed into town to do a bit of shopping at Hula Moon. We left the boys out front to fend for themselves. I need to add, that on our way into town we passed an 80 year old man with a cane...hitchhiking. Not something you see every day.
The Boys - sleeping in front of Hula Moon

We ate lunch at Tex's Diner, and then Dave and I headed to the airport to pick up Tiffany, who was flying in for our #9 brunch and the reception. Yup - she flew to Hawaii to spend 30 hours with us! Fortunately she works for an airline so it was free. But still - that's a lot of flying to only spend a few hours. She must love us. After picking up Tiff, we headed to Hapuna Beach, where everyone else was swimming and enjoying the surf. We joined them, and the seven of us floated in the waves, body surfed, and talked, and talked, and talked, until we were really pruny and a bit cold. After watching the gorgeous sunset, we headed back to the condo for a pasta dinner and another late night of staying up talking. We are good at talking when we all get together.

Sunset at Hapuna Beach
Friends watching the sunset

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 12, 2009: Hawaii - Day Five

We woke up bright and early and jumped in the shower to head to our various assignments. Matt and Renae headed to the airport to pick up Marlane and Russ, and then took them to Walmart. Dave and I headed to the Hilton to pick up Kristine's flowers. We all met at the temple at 11:00am with a half hour for Marlane and Russ to get ready. After a few pictures, we walked through the doors at 11:30am - right on time.

Kona, Hawaii Temple
Dave and Me
Renae, Marlane and Me
Bango and Kristine!
Marlane, Me, Kristine and Renae

The ceremony was simple and beautiful and I had tears in my eyes while I watched Bango and Kristine kneel across the altar and say yes to being sealed together for eternity. I am so grateful that we have the knowledge and Priesthood power to bind on earth what is bound in Heaven. I am so grateful that Dave and I made the choice to be sealed for eternity and that our children will be with us as long as we keep those covenants. I am so grateful that the sealing power was restored to the earth! And I am especially grateful that my roommates and I have all had the opportunity to be sealed to our spouses. It's the greatest blessing I have ever received.
After a luncheon on the grounds of the church next door, and lots of hugs and kisses and well wishes, the Steeres, the Hills, and Dave and I headed down to Ali'i Drive to catch the dinner cruise to Kealakekua Bay. There were clouds rolling in, and as we left it started to sprinkle. We didn't know what we were in for!
Dave and me - Dave's first time on a boat in the ocean!
Matt & Renae
Marlane & Russ
The dolphins were putting on a great show. There were a ton of them as we pulled out to head South to the bay.
Five dolphins in a row! The announcer guy on the boat kept trying to direct our attention back to the shore and what he wanted to show us there.
Dave enjoying the view
The food! Traditional Hawaiian dishes plus some other stuff thrown in.
We stayed on the top deck until the rain got really bad and were the only ones up there.

Matt trying to balance. The water was so choppy that it was difficult to walk around the boat. A huge squall came along so we went down below so that we wouldn't get swept out to sea. A performer named LT Smooth was playing so we enjoyed the music (Dave and I even danced) and tried to keep dry. I think the boat ride was Dave's favorite part of the trip even with the rain.

After the boat, we headed back to the condo and stayed up talking for a while, but eventually sleep won out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 18, 2009 - New Friends

We interrupt the Hawaii series to bring you a fun story from last night. For the past three years my mom has hosted a monthly "Grandladies" dinner in her home. The target audience includes the women who no longer have kids at home in our stake, but I'm allowed to attend because it is at my mom's house. Actually, anyone is allowed to attend, and I just love it because older women are hilarious and polished and I learn more from them than I generally do women my age. They are experienced, man.

About six months ago a cute couple from Pakistan moved into our ward. He is working for the LDS Church and she was pregnant with their first baby. She had the baby a few weeks ago, and his parents flew over from Pakistan to stay for a few months and help out. The first Sunday they arrived, the mom, Nasreen, sat next to me in Relief Society. She was such a sweet and warm person! She introduced herself and asked me how many children I have, etc. And considering English isn't her primary language, she did quite well. I introduced her to my mom, who immediately invited her to Grandladies, and then set up a time where she could take them to Church HQ to meet some people.

Last night, Malcolm and Nasreen spoke to us at Grandladies and if there was a dry eye in the place I didn't see it. Malcolm was the first Pakistani member of the Church. There are 3000 members and 10 branches there now. The missionary program comes from within Pakistan, along with heavy member referral. Pakistan is 98% Muslim and 2% Christian, and they are only allowed to teach other Christians about the Gospel. There are two armed guards outside of the church every week to keep them safe. People take the bus to get there, which is very expensive. But Malcolm and Nasreen have a solid testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They bore passionate testimony of the Plan of Salvation, the restoration of the Gospel, and that President Monson is God's prophet on the earth today. It was powerful and the Spirit was overpowering. I went home feeling very blessed to live in a nation that allows freedom of religion.

I don't realize on a daily basis just how great I have it. It takes hundreds of dollars (people are very poor there) for anyone who is temple worthy to get a flight to Hong Kong or Manilla so that they can do their own temple work. It takes only $40 a month for women to go to school to become nurses, but no one can afford it. There is so much abundance in the world, and yet people have so little. I think God is hoping that we will realize that and do something about it. I feel compelled now to do my part.
Mom, Nasreen, Malcolm, and Reggie
Mom, Me, Nasreen, and Malcolm
Nasreen and Mom

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video of the area around Akaka Falls

November 11, 2009: Hawaii - Day Four

Wednesday was another early day for us. We got up and got ready and drove the long and winding road to Hilo to visit cousins and stand on an erupting volcano. Or something like that. We did stop at Tex to get malasadas because, let's face it, any opportunity for that is to be taken advantage of.

Here we are in front of random bushes somewhere around Lilioukulani Gardens. I have no idea if I spelled that right. Anyway, they are beautiful Japanese gardens. We came here last time and wandered around for a while. This time we had a picnic before heading to Volcanoes National Park.
This is Coconut Island, which is aptly named for the coconut trees all over the place. I didn't take a picture of it this time, but the trees are marked with the water level from a Tsunami that was here in the 1960's. Pretty scary that it could get that high.
Doesn't Dave look just like a tourist in this picture? He was smitten with all of the huge old trees on the island. Mostly because we won't live long enough to see the trees in our neighborhood grow even close to this big!
We even match! That wasn't planned. Here we are with Hilo in the distance. We definitely need to be tan with no hope of getting there.
The Ohi'a Lehua tree is my favorite on the Big Island and only grows in Volcanoes National Park, because it only grows near a volcano. Interesting, no? Here is the story behind it. Trust me - it's awesome.
Here we are again - smiling with an active volcano roaring in the background. I bet there were more pictures of us taken together on this trip than when we got married. Usually I am the one behind the camera.
This is my cute "niece", Abby. In our family all kids are nieces and nephews whether they are the kids of cousins or siblings. That's just how we roll.
My nephew Aiden. He's about 25 days younger than Clara, and such a funny little guy.
Jackson the almost 12 year old. I can't believe he is almost 12. I am struggling with that because I remember so vividly when he was born. AND he was four years old when I got married.
Brina-Boo. She is a few months older than Josh, but seems so much more mature. They are coming to Utah for a few months next year and I can't wait to get them together with Josh and Clara to play.
After we said our goodbyes, Dave and I headed to What's Shakin' Smoothies for dinner, and then stopped at Akaka Falls to say hello to some waterfalls.
This is Akaka Falls - a 440 foot drop. It's really quite cool and very loud after a rainstorm, which is what we had just finished. While we were at What's Shakin' Smoothies it was a downpour so I figured the falls would be awesome. They did not disappoint! Last time I was there, the path leading to Kahuna Falls from Akaka was closed for renovation, but this time it was open so we decided to do the circle. I will never regret that decision!
This is Kahuna Falls, but more importantly - the greenery. Holy COW. And it was teeming with wildlife that was yelling at us from all sides. I will post a video of it - it was so loud and green and wet and we basically had the place to ourselves - which was a bit creepy and weird, but still cool.
This scene was other worldly. I wish you could see it better, but these trees were dripping with white flowers. If you click on it, the bigger image might show them. It was absolutely beautiful.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was a bit nuts. Marlane and Russ were scheduled to arrive that night around the same time as Renae and Matt. The missed their connecting flight from San Francisco to Kona, and ended up having to fly from San Francisco to Vegas to Honolulu and finally to Kona, arriving at 9:30am with no luggage. Dave and I drove to the airport to see if their bags had made it, but no luck. We met Matt and Renae at the car rental spot and drove back to the condo and came up with a strategy for the next day. We knew Marlane and Russ would be exhausted from flying all night. This was the list we came up with:

Dr. Pepper
Straight Iron
Renae's dress/shoes for Marlane

The adventure continues tomorrow...