Sunday, September 28, 2014

Zipping, Limping, and Coconut Head People

The weather has finally turned from no breeze/HOT to lots of rain/stormy breezes, and.....well....HOT - but not AS HOT.

As a result, my feet and lower legs are swollen each evening and I am unable to wear my shoes.  I am therefore running around in my husband's shoes.  They look soooooo purty with all of my dresses.  We've talked about going into the big city to find some new shoes - but  there is simply no time.  Sigh.

So, any suggestions or knowledge on getting my feet back to normal would be sooooooo appreciated.(note, I am very careful about salt intake - so I don't 'think' that's the problem).

Besides making it hard to walk around as much as I need to (I've got lots of places I run to during the daytime), we are in the midst of the PCC Health Challenge.  I am trying to get an hour of exercise in a day - and those who know me know that I like to KILL exercise time.....swimming, power walking, circulation room and elliptical.  All respectable low impact exercises to appease my doc but great cardio for me.  So this foot thing is seriously getting in my way (though I am not letting it stop me)

Elder Jones, on the other hand, had this fun experience a couple of weeks ago where he landed on his head in the surf - making him walk around like Igor (Frankenstein's assistant...remember?) for a while.  We finally went into the chiropractor - and snap, bang, boom - RELIEF!  He was so happy, he just hugged the stuffin' out of the man.  So cute!

Elder Jones has been having great fun.  For example, yesterday he went ziplining with a group of fellow missionaries in the morning and net fishing until late at night with our landlord and the young men from his ward that night.  They caught over 40 fish.  He had a BLAST.




He snorkels twice a week, at least.  He still thinks he should be doing more.  Lest you think he's gone completely inactive, the other 5 nights a week we go to the Temple; work at the Luaus twice; go to Family Home Evening; try to have someone over for dinner; and we are going to start attending Sunday Firesides at the Visitor's Center.  And that is over and above our daily responsibilities.  We rarely even eat at home - but this last week we had this MARVELOUS ahi tuna we purchased from a neighborhood fisherman.  It was INCREDIBLE!  Fish is our main meat of choice now.  How lucky are we!!!????

Elder Jones has been sighted walking up on roof tops throughout
the PCC.  Here is a picture from one of the tallest buildings.
What a hot dog!
The big news since last post is that Elder Jones has now been put into the BYU-H Married Stake's High Council.  For our friends not of the LDS faith, this is rather like a regional level responsibility.....not administrative, really - but something Elder Jones says he has (jokingly) avoided for 37 years.  Basically, a High Council Member is assigned to watch over and support some of the various auxiliary programs, help a specific local ward and travel around the various wards within the Stake giving Sacrament talks.  Elder Jones' first talk was last Sunday.  Now I love nothing more than a Ron Jones Sacrament talk.  He speaks from the heart - can't follow an outline for his life, and generally touches everyone deeply with his insight ..  The other side of a Ron Jones talk, however, is that it is always a wild ride.  He just goes where the spirit moves him, and sometimes it moves him into some very funny / interesting situations.  Our kids can attest to this.  We have a long standing joke about Dad's "life is just a bowl of lasagna" approach to the eternities.  So, here he was, talking about the mechanics of airplanes, picking the right spouse (I'm happy to report that he considers me a 747 and NOT a Cessna), and his history of trying to disprove faith until he couldn't disprove it 'no more.  The other men on the stand had some pretty funny looks on their faces, while the congregation gasped and laughed their way thru the talk.  This is pretty typical and I just LOVED it.  Still, Elder Jones wonders how long the Stake will take before they realize their great mistake and reassign him to non-speaking assignments.  HA!  He's the J. Golden Kimball of La'ie!


I have had some crowd pleasing fun myself.  I've mentioned before that I have been assigned to the on-line marketing department here at PCC.  So, it's  a little hard to explain, but we came up with the bright idea to prepare a running pictorial story (a 'snapshot' storyline) for the Christmas e-mails that we will be sending out.  Basically, each of the weekly e-mail ads will contain a one picture story of  two characters - we're thinking a married couple - getting ready for Christmas.  Each weekly e-mail is a different experience for our hapless couple.  We are hoping to combine humor with a little punch and a great tale.  Hopefully we will be so successful that people will want to share the pictures on Pinterest and Facebook, thus raising our visibility.  It's all quite the master plan.  

Now we wanted to put a Polynesian spin on this, so I ran around all last week trying to find a boy and girl version of various items we sell that might be our 'characters' for our story.  I found a stuffed surfer boy and Tahitian girl doll, some stuffed turtles, Hawaiian themed teddy bears, some turtles made out of polished stone, and two coconut head people from Fiji.  Yeah, coconut heads.






So I brought them into the office and pulled together some of the sister missionaries.  They patiently let me explain 'the plan', then they went thru the 'line-up'.  I already had my favorites, but was trying so hard not to influence the women (failed miserably!).  We determined that the dolls and stuffed animals were too cute for the story line, that the stone turtles would be darned hard to pose, and that left us with....coconut head people.  Now I know this sounds strange - but you've got to trust me on this.  We are going to do a Christmas storyline with coconut head people.  On-line.  And it's freakin awesome!  I can't wait.

Anyway - I did a preliminary photo shoot.  I went to the beach to do this - early in the morning. ...Before the sun was too high and the weather too hot.  I decided that I would bend the rules and wear pants as I was pretty sure being in a dress on the beach was not going to make my job any easier.  I gathered up bags of props, the camera and my coconut head people and tromped on down to Temple Beach.  As I was heading to the area I thought would work best, I passed a fellow lying spread eagle in the sand - not in an 'I'm here to catch some rays' position.  More like a 'dead' position. I thought to myself "hmmmm, that guy could be dead.  What to do, what to do"?  I finally decided that he was too pink to be dead, so I left him in his deep slumber and continued on a few more feet.

I then started to prepare my shoot.  Here is what I determined:
  1. Sand has to be really wet to write messages in it.  This sand was not that wet.  The message for the picture was sad looking.  Really sad.  Luckily, this was just a preliminary.  I soldiered on.
  2. Sitting in the sand in black yoga pants is a mistake.  Big mistake.
  3. Walking around in the sand makes for messy sand.  There is no way to position props in the sand without walking on it.  This is a problem.
  4. Smoothing messy sand out with a big stick, while covered in much of that sand, while juggling various props, while holding an expensive camera high above your head so as not to get any sand on it makes for great hilarity.
  5. Crowds gather for great hilarity.  Then they stand there with dumbfounded looks on their faces.
  6. I was right.  Dead guy wasn't dead.  He was just a homeless beach person catching Z's who sauntered off when the crowd started gathering.
  7. Coconut head people are top heavy.  Poor Mrs. Coconut Head Person lost her teeth.
  8. People don't care if you are conducting a photo shoot - and will not move out of the way accordingly. Dogs really don't care about photo shoots. Toddlers want to be IN the photo shoot.
It was an exciting morning.

Oh - here is a preliminary shot from that morning showing what I'm going to have to do rather than write in the sand.  I'm not including a pic from that morning showing my Coconut Head People. I'm not giving anymore away on THAT until we get the real pictures up:


I have one more beach story.  Elder Jones and I went to Hanama Bay last weekend to snorkel.  From this experience I have determined that I really don't like to snorkel - especially if there are any waves. It makes me seasick.  So I sent Elder Jones on his merry little 'let's see what dangerous situation I can get myself into" way while I swam around nearer to the shore.  Then I decided to sit in the shade and contemplate life.  A couple was nearby taking some pictures of each other.  I asked if they would like me to take a picture of them together.  They were thrilled.  We struck up a conversation.  I mentioned just moving here which led to explaining that my husband and I were on a mission, which led to explaining what a mission at the PCC looks like, which led to explaining how the LDS Church owns and operates the PCC and how it's purpose is to support our Polynesian students and preserve their culture.  It was a great conversation, though I found some of their questions a bit strange - like what the rules were for women in the Church and other subjects around 'restrictions'.  

I'm dense, I know I am, so it did not dawn on me until they were well on their way down the beach that I caused those questions.  I think it had to do with my excessively protective swimwear and hat.

Somewhere in Michigan is a couple convinced that Mormon women dress in modern "burka-wear," Yes, I'm sure of it.  Ugh!


One situation that I am not so fond of in my position is reading over the comment section of our various listings on line.  People have some strange misconceptions and prejudices.  It's a natural thing, but I can't help but feel a little - no, a LOT - frustrated when they're plastered all over the Internet.  For instance, in Yelp, there are people - not many, but a few - who are disgruntled that the PCC has neither booze or practically naked Polynesians running around for their entertainment. Well, A: We are a family venue and B: We are a MORMON run family venue.  We make no secret about who we are and what our purpose is, and our main focus is to uplift and educate - not have a rowdy party.  What these dear comment-ers do not understand is that many MANY of the Polynesian cultures represented here are, and have always been, quite conservative.  This was not instituted by mis-directed missionaries of old - but are deeply embedded beliefs in the cultures represented here. Another complaint that pops up (again not often, but GEESH) is that the optional tram tours of the BYU-H and La'ie Temple sites concentrated too much on - get this - Jesus Christ.  Uhmmmmmm. Really?  It's a temple to the Lord, ladies and gentlemen.  So, you're going to be surprised?  

Okay, enough whining.  It's an honor and a pleasure 95% of the time.  Some misconceptions are to be expected.

So here's my spiritual thought for the week (thought I'd never get here, did ya?)

Missionary Thought

Meeting people from all over the world is such an exciting and happy experience.  One of our purposes at the PCC is to radiate the spirit of God every day and in every way.  

1 Peter 3 explains it this way:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.....with meekness and fear"

(side translation:  ..."with meekness and fear" means with respect to our God and no ego - not actually that we are supposed to be afraid of it)  

If Elder Jones and I see some one who is lost, we give them directions.  If they need a picture taken, we take it.  If they want to know if the on-site store has hearing aid batteries, we go find out.  And we do a lot of waving, and saying "Aloha", and smiling.  Sometimes I smile so much, my cheeks hurt. It's the best kind of hurt, let me tell ya.  I LOVE reflecting the love of Christ.  I love the conversations it leads to.  And I love the students who show me how its done with humility and passion.  Honestly, that's the BEST part of all.  These students are just amazing.



This is the GREATEST MISSION IN THE WORLD!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Poor, sad woman.....and a little pictorial treat for those who read far enough

Here is a picture of the beautiful girls from the family whose home we share:


Here are their names....how they are spelled and then how they are pronounced:

from left to right
Aotea' - Ow-tay-ah
Kalia - Kah-lee-ahh
baby Ani - Ah-nee
Raiha - Rye-ha

I mentioned earlier that I have had some great difficulty in learning the correct pronunciation. Hawaiian vowels sounds are different than mainland vowel sounds.  Unfortunately, my brain, once it sees something goes with what it already knows.  Like an old dog, I can't seem to learn new tricks.

So I have worked hard to NOT even think about the spelling, but rather form mental pictures based on the pronunciation.  For instance, my mental picture for Raiha is "Rye bread - isn't it funny?"  I know, but it's how I work.

I have worked especially hard on Aotea' because I have had a real block on that one.  I finally figured out  the thought "Ow - I'm going to say it wrong if I don't remember Audra's friend".  With that mental clue, I have been doing really well.


Keni Kalama spraying down the
Ninja Turtles during a game in the hot, hot Oahu sun
Unfortunately, yesterday I was looking at the girl's soccer schedule.  We've wanted to try to go to some of the soccer games.  The girls were showing me where and when they play.  There are 3 sheets posted in the kitchen, one for each girl.  So here's the problem.  I saw the names written out.  I turned around, looked at Aotea' and immediately said it wrong....again.  She is very patient, but the look on her face speaks volumes.  It looks to me like she is trying really hard to forgive me.

I can imagine the lovely conversation she must have with her dad once I leave.

"Dad, Sister Jones STILL can't get my name right."

"Shhhhh," he replies.  "We must be respectful of our elders.  Especially when they are old and crazy like she is".

---------------

A couple of weeks ago I came into work, walked over to my desk and was placing my laptop bag on the floor.  As I did, I became entangled in the feet of my chair and abruptly fell into my windowsill – sending my blinds in all different directions.



Wouldn't you figure that was the exact moment that Jeff (my supervisor) walked thru the door. "Oh my goodness Sister Jones," he said.  Are you alright?"

I just sighed, and replied “get used to it”.

I’m a mess.  I can’t deny it and I can’t hide it.  I am the product of some very strong genes - I had a day last week that was one of my ‘humbling days’.  I did just about everything wrong in front of God and everybody. Truth is, I have a lot of them.  It causes my husband no small amount of concern and I have been praying for my desk mate, Sister Bisson, who is exposed to my antics all day, and Sunday too.

Luckily, the Lord finds ways to bring me hope.  I was studying the "Preach My Gospel" manual this morning, which led me to some wonderful verses in Moroni:

Moroni 10  Verses 8 - 18

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom;

10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

11 And to another, exceedingly great faith; and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles;

13 And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;

14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;

15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;

16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues.

17 and again, to another, the gift of clumsiness and a mouth that speaketh before she thinketh, for she shall entertain the masses, teach patience to her colleagues, provide purpose to the preachers and bring the poor in spirit to the knowledge that there is another lowlier than even themselves.

Okay, that last one I put in there.  Let's get back on track:
….

17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.

18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.

So, we have different talents and different ways to contribute.  I may want to be an elegant and inspiring breath of fresh air that floats gracefully thru the hallways, but the Lord made gave me exuberance and volume.  I can fight it, or I can use it to His advantage. 

Me, looking "elegant" - because of a
wonderful fellow sister missionary seamstress
named Sister Anderson
who has had mercy on me and has
found aloha wear to alter for me.
And here is Elder Jones - this is your special
treat for this blog installment - something none
of us thought we would EVER see!
Ron in a sulu!  Yes, it's THAT hot here.
Even he became inspired to go sulu!
-------------------------------------

My favorite apostle of old is Peter.  I can identify with Peter.  In his great exuberance and love for the Lord, he was willing to lop off ears, try to walk on water, jump into the fray, declare his great love and say and do just about anything that came to mind.  I think, maybe I’m a bit like him. and his example gives me hope.



Not long after the death and ascension of Jesus Christ, Peter and John were out preaching the gospel to the masses.  The High Priests were not pleased, so they arrested them and threw them into prison trying to devise a way to have them put to death.  One of the priests wisely counseled against it.  So instead, they ordered Peter and John to preach no more, and then they beat them.

Here, in the next verse is where I truly fell in love with Peter :

Acts 4:41 - 42

41 ¶And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Peter was human, and Jesus loved him for it.  He knew that this man of great passion and drive would become the rock He needed to lead the Church once he was gone.  He knew that Peter's great heart and sincere faith would be survive the trials and burden of leadership.

Peter gives me hope that I, too will be molded into a solid servant of the Lord.


----------------

Today's Relief Society (Women's Meeting) was especially inspirational.  Here's a quote that gave me great thought from Joseph Fielding Smith:

"It is necessary for us to walk in the full light of the truth, not in part of the truth only. I haven’t the privilege of discarding some of the principles of the gospel and believing others, and then feel that I am entitled to the full blessings of salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God.

If we want exaltation, if we want the place which the Lord has prepared for those who are just and true, then we must be willing to walk in the full light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and keep all the commandments. We cannot say that some of them are small and insignificant and therefore the Lord will not care if we violate them. We are commanded to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God [see Deuteronomy 8:3; D&C 98:11]. “Why call ye me Lord, Lord,” he says, “and do not the things that I say?” [See Luke 6:46.]

Keep the commandments. Walk in the light. Endure to the end. Be true to every covenant and obligation, and the Lord will bless you beyond your fondest dreams."

Working with university students - and attending church services with them is extremely lovely yet also such a concern.  Our students are expected to live up to high standards.  Many want to, but the beach starts calling to them, or the pressure of finances and schooling - especially when it's not in your native language, weighs heavily on them.  But everyone of them have been advised from day one that they are attending a private university and that their attendance here is based on their willingness to work hard, live according to the standards set forth and their ability to be frugal and wise.  These expectations are meant to help students prepare for a successful career, find and maintain loving family relationships and help them to become strong leaders in their culture and community.

The question is, how do we missionaries as leaders, examples, and their elders support, encourage and advise them?  The above quote is the way I want to live, and the advice I feel best to share.  How grateful I am for loving leadership who inspire me and beautiful students who I can love and serve.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Working, working, working, working, working, working, working, working.......

NOT COMPLAINING, mind you (do you hear that Heavenly Father, we're NOT COMPLAINING!!!) We had been warned that there would be long hours and are actually grateful to be of service - but MAN are we tired!


Anyhoot - here is the big news since the last post.  Due to past experience, I (Sister Jones) have been assigned to the On-Line Marketing Department.  Now there are some very capable people in this department - educated, smart people - so I'm simply performing support, but I LOVE it!  These people are so great!  This place is so magical!  The shows and facilities are so incredible!  I'm proud to be a part of it.  I am learning how to load images, write product descriptions, I'm proofing, I'm making suggestions, I'm learning abut marketing strategies, and best of all - I'm playing photographer and graphic designer...all under careful supervision, of course!

This is our main store - I will be posting a lot of merchandise
from here on the shop.polynesia.com website.  We hope to get
a lot of new items downloaded in time for the holidays.

This is one of my first shots (Sis Jones)
It is of the Hawaiian Bible. The background is
the Kawaiola Chapel near the Hawaiian Village at PCC

Here is Elder Jones' report:

Now, maybe you're asking yourself WHAT, in tarnation, does this have to do with a mission?  Wellllll, let us explain:

La'ie, HI is the home of three Church owned entities; BYU-Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center and the La'ie LDS Temple.  We Saints (or Mormon's as some have nicknamed us) believe in and utilize temples to learn about and bring us closer to our Heavenly Father, to connect to our kindred dead (we have this AWESOME geneology library here) and to grow in the gospel.  If you would like to learn more about the purpose of temples, you can go to:  https://www.lds.org/church/temples?lang=eng


During an early morning walk by the Laie' Temple
BYU-Hawaii was specifically placed here on the beautiful isle of Oahu so that Polynesian students can receive an excellent education, learn leadership skills that they can bring back to their homeland and preserve their culture, language and traditions.

The purpose of the Polynesian Cultural Center is to support those students by helping them with tuition and to showcase their culture.  Many of them come from very poor areas.  They could never afford to attend an accredited, quality university on their own.  By utilizing trained volunteers (that would be retired missionaries like us) to provide support both on campus and at the PCC, more funds can be dedicated towards actual student costs.
Some of our fellow sisters gathering
tickets at the Aloha Luau
Is it useful?  Living here, supporting these wonderful students, seeing the love they have for their culture and the respect they gain for all of the cultures represented here, the answer is absolutely YES!

It is different that we originally imagined, but that's because our imagination was limited.  Now that we know the purpose, the inner workings and the wonderful and dedicated people who both work and attend here.....we really do feel like we're in heaven (well, MOST of the time, at least)!


So here are some fun pics of what we have been doing on our rare but lovely days off:

"Don't sneeze!  The last time you did, it knocked you over"

Elder Jones with a cold coconut

Why did the chicken cross the road?  ......?
To go see his other 20 buddies on the other side!

Elder Jones' first fishing trip since we've arrived
The Iosepha, which launched a week and a half ago
just returned from it's sale around Oahu
Missionary Thoughts

Elder Jones and I study scriptures and the handbook for missionaries entitled "Preach My Gospel" daily. We have come across wonderful counsel and gained so much insight by ramping up our study.  One of my favorite handbook chapters is "What Is My Purpose as a Missionary?  We want to be honest and earnest servants of Christ, so we're feasting on this information.

We found the following insight the other day:

True Christianity is love in action.  There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men.  This is the spirit of missionary work"

We also found the following quote from a most beloved prophet who passed away just a few years ago:


President Gordon B. Hinckley stated “We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere” (Conference Report, 4/1995)

The scriptures tell us to serve God with heart, mind and strength.  It doesn't tell us to quantify how to serve, but to open ourselves up to what He would have us do.  We are finding out the truth to that counsel as we live that counsel.  Life is a challenge, but as we study how the prophets and apostles found happiness and fulfillment in giving all they have to build the kingdom, including the faith that the Lord knows how best to accomplish that, we have been so greatly blessed.....  

1 John 2:15-17 states:  

Love not the world neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Peter, James, John, Stephen, Saul - and so many other true disciples of Christ grew to understand that joy can and will happen not because of riches or possessions, but when giving love to others.  We do not miss our big house one bit.  We love our sweet little apartment.  We love working so hard we find it difficult to settle down to sleep.  We love seeing what happens when we forget ourselves and remember those around us. Whenever we are low down, we discover it is because we've lost focus on others and are concentrating too much on ourselves.  It's hard for the world to understand this - but Christ knows it perfectly, and we gain strength through Him.

Thank you again for your continued interest.  Please send us questions, comments, ideas, gifts, money (ha - just kidding on that part)....but we would love to hear from you!  Hearing from our friends and family lifts us up.  We care about you and want to very much to know how you are doing!