Sunday, November 2, 2014

Latest happenings and news - Holiday Time!

The last two weeks have contained the normal ups and downs of missionary life.  Still on the run, adjusting schedules, and now that winter is here - darting in-between rainstorms (but HEY, it's not blistering hot anymore - so yeah for that!)

First off - and this is hard to explain - I have been developing a 'serial photo story' for our Christmas e-mails.  I spoke of it in an earlier post.  It will be all about our little coconuthead couple - Mele and Iosepa and their preparations for Christmas.  Big news, the storyline debuts this Thursday!  I'm a nervous wreck about it.  I would not have made it if it weren't for my wonderful Audra - who has saved me through her knowledge of Photoshop.  We have two of the shots completely finalized. Only four more to go (OYE!).  Pray for me.....

Anyhoot - I mention this because our hopes are that people actually enjoy this series and end up sharing it thru social media.  We will be posting the series on the shop.polynesia Facebook page AND Pinterest.  I am going to ask your indulgence by letting you know that I will also share them thru this blog.  If you find them worthwhile (and you know how), please consider sharing.  The purpose (besides sharing some Christmas fun) is to raise our presence on the Internet.  It's all quite the masterplan....keep your fingers crossed - and look for a quick post each week on the subject.  

By the way - have I mentioned that our lovely Audra has announced the fact that grandbaby #15 is on it's way?  We are so very excited for them.

Now, back to what we've been up to:

The water was actually beautiful and clear - can't explain
why it doesn't appear that way in the pic
We finally made it into Waikiki.  Yeah - it's pretty touristy there.  I'm happy here is little ol' La'ie, thanks.  

We visited the Byoda-In Buddist Temple.  So beautiful and serene.

We also made it over to the west shore of the island.  Ron had many memories from back in his Coast Guard days.  He went snorkeling in the wide open ocean and was thrilled to see BIG fish.

Ron checking out the conditions.  He actually decided
to go to a different spot - as he saw that the waves
in this area would pop him out of the water and
onto the rocks like a cork.....not good.

This is actually a shot of Ron IN the water - or rather, under it....  Beautiful coastline

I'm so glad that we are able to have a few hours of complete down time for him.  He goes into work at 7 in the morning and works on some very hard and complicated problems throughout the day.   He certainly isn't retired, let me tell ya!  To his great joy, he is still climbing on big buildings and exploring nooks and crannies throughout the Center so that he can identify and tag all of the equipment.  Here are some shots from high atop the Pacific Theater, where he actually discovered - tiny little fish - in the holding tank for the night show's waterfall.  How, he keeps asking himself, did they get up there?

Ron's work building from atop the Pacific Theater

Looking straight down from the roof of the theater

Looking towards the east and the Pacific Ocean and the
new Hukilau Marketplace from the Pacific Theater

Halloween in La'ie is KA-RAZY!!!  It's like the biggest block party evah!  I'll just share some pics here to prove it:

These happen to be the sister missionaries - lol


Missionary Thoughts - more or less - but this is what's on my mind this week:

The Polynesian Cultural Center is such a unique place to be a missionary---certainly unlike any other mission in the world.  These last two weeks really emphasized that to me.  There are so many blessings in my life.

For instance, the people I work with in the Administration Building. These are some of the greatest people I have ever met.  The director I work under is Jeff Dunn, who comes from the company "Harry and David". He is bright.  He is hard working.  His laugh is absolutely infectious.  He is kind and dedicated to the purpose and goals of PCC.  

My direct supervisor is Susan Kunz - I just love working with her.  She has wrapped her arm around my shoulders and has really pulled me in to the team. It's so great to share thoughts and feel useful.  She has been with PCC since she was a student.  She is a vast store of amazing information and is a great source on the culture of Hawaii, Samoa (where she lived as a child) and the people of PCC.

I also work with John Muiana, who is a strong and yet very kind.  He loves the PCC so much, it can bring him to tears.  I treasure Logo Apelu, Eric Workman and Bobby Akoi - who work so hard to lead their departments by example and faith. 

There is the marketing team, the employee training team, the support staff.....and, of course, the missionaries.  I LOVE the missionaries in this office.  We have such fun together - and when someone needs - well - anything from a paperclip to a hug, they will make sure it happens.

And then there is our own great living treasure - Tausilinuu David Hannemann who was the first paid employee of PCC.  Oh how I love this dear, elderly man who works so very hard to document and preserve the PCC history.  His smile can light up the entire day and his words of encouragement and love are a direct reflection of how the light of the Savior can shine thru his loving servants on the earth.  If I'm having a bad day - I just need to go find him and within minutes...I'm having a good day.

And finally, there is President Alfred Grace. Originally from New Zealand, he attended BYU-Hawaii and started working at PCC as a student. He has come up thru the ranks to be a leader with some very difficult challenges.  He is the first one to arrive in the morning (when he's not traveling far and wide to promote and represent) and is on the run even thru the weekend - including the fact that he serves as Stake President to the BHU-Hawaii Married Stake (insane!)  I admire him so much.  He is a man of deep faith and he shares his faith openly.  He knows the the PCC is lead by God and strives to honor that every day.  He knows everyone, and I mean EVERYONE by name.  He takes time to visit the PCC campus as much as possible and to reach out to employees on all levels (as well as grab some of his beloved New Zealand treats from the Aotearoa Village.)  He's got a ready smile, yet he is also strict in his duties and will let people know when they need to step up.  Most of all, he loves the Polynesian culture....starting, of course, with his own Maori background - but certainly extending to all of the islands that PCC represents.  

What makes this all the more amazing is that I attend morning devotionals with these giants.  Can you imagine?  Every one there takes a turn during the month in three ways:  1) Highlight one of the cultural beliefs/goals for the PCC by giving an example of how it is exemplified by others; 2) give a spiritual thought; and 3) say a prayer.  In these few minutes together I have learned not only who these people are, but what is in their hearts.  It's an amazing start to a morning.  This is a precious time for me.

It is a difficult job running the Polynesian Cultural Center - for so many reasons - not the least of which is the fact that times are hard everywhere - and PCC must make major changes to keep up with the economy and changes in how tourists want to spend their time.  Along with the blessings of working with these administrators and managers, I also see that there is so much pressure and expectations on them.  We are about to open up the Hukilau Marketplace - an expansive market area with new shops and restaurants that anyone can come to (it's placed BEFORE the entrance).  The purpose of the marketplace is to expand services, reach out to the community and bring something new into the Center.  Most 'amusement' parks such as Disney and Universal have shown that this is what people are looking for - and have been very successful at it.  The PCC has been opened for 50 years - and the traditions are truly wonderful - but without change, we will be perceived as just an old, tired tourist spot.  We have so much to offer - including tradition - but we must make sure that we keep modern in order to bring people in.  It's all so complicated and means trial, error and making difficult decisions.  

I pray for the PCC everyday and ask that you also keep it in your prayers.  Imagine a facility whose purpose is to support students from all around Polynesia (and beyond!) and in preserving the culture of those islands?  It is a miracle and a joy and it is quite humbling that Heavenly Father decided that Elder Jones and I had enough 'stuff' to actually be able to contribute to it.


Much love to you all.  We know you are there and we are greatly strengthened by your love, prayers and support.  Please write!  Keeping up with what is going on with you really brightens our day and helps us to feel connected to those so very far away.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nina - thanks for your update and PICTURES! It is so fun to hear and see what you are experiencing. I never imagined all the business details regarding running the PCC and was surprized to hear of the challenges of "keeping current". That was interesting to me. YOU have much to offer and they are very fortunate to have Ron and yourself!

    As for here - we were hoping to have our first missionary experience last night, but alas, it fell through. It has been amazing all the youth that are being drawn to the church in our area. You from unfortunate circumstances. We were to have two over last night for a FHE. There is a set of friends (each have a brother and sister) who are living with "family members" in one of the worst trailer parks in Sequim. They are actually living in RVs with tarps around the bottom where some of them have to sleep outside. Very sad circumstances. Kids ages range from 9 - 14. Two of them are very wise for their ages and are seriously looking for a different life. The other two are I think along for the ride. We will see. I could tell the missionaries hearts were heavy last night. Such burdens they carry for being so young. You could tell they were really concerned for the children. The ward members are really rallying around them.

    Stake conference was this past weekend. Oh how I love Pres Basden and his counselors. They are mighty men. The them was on hastening the work through Family History, Missionary and Temple work. It was very powerful. At the adult session they had two recent converts bear their testimonies. One was a young girl and her approx 5 year old boy from Ethiopia. It was incredible listening to her story. She is a refugee and spoke in broken English but her testimony was pure gold.

    I am still trying to figure out what my life purpose is here, now. With mom gone, there is a big hole. Karl and I are taking Megan Hughes's Family History Class. I am excited about that. I am trying to get my back healthy again; I just found a new Chiropractor so hoping we can make some progress.

    It is so fun and inspiring reading your updates! We will look forward to the next one!