Monday, August 15, 2011

There is a bud on our banana tree

Last fall sometime I wrote a small note in our journal about watching the purple bud on a banana tree turn into a bunch of bananas. Well one of the 2 trees that I transplanted from the Stake farm last September 11th now has it’s own little purple bud forming. I am going to take a picture everyday, while the bananas are forming. It has been amazing to watch how large some of the bunches of bananas get. I have not been to the Stake Farm very much lately, but the banana trees that we cleaned up around last September are producing bananas. There is always a bunch to look at somewhere on the farm. Just across the street, the neighbor has a row of about 5 banana trees and there are 2 huge bunches on 2 of those trees. We have watched those for quite some time and the purple bud is still there but hasn’t produced any more bananas for more than a foot. People that raise bananas cut the bud end off when it starts to not produce anymore bananas. The bud has gone from coming out of the top of the tree and going straight up, to hanging down where it is more visible in 3 or 4 days. It looks to be about 2 inches in diameter in what will become the stock. The bud itself is over 1 foot long. The bunches of bananas will start to form under the first layer of the bud. That top layer will just dry up and fall off after the flowers have been pollinated and the banana starts to form. There will be 10 or 12 bananas on that layer and then the bunch starts to look like a twirl as it continues to grow. They are an apple banana variety. They don’t get quite as big (long) but are bigger around, and they still go from green to yellow. They have the same look as they are growing though. It is really interesting to watch the bananas form. They are about as big as your little finger and have a large yellow flower on the end of what will become the banana. As the flower is fertilized, the flower dries up and the finger sized banana starts to grow. Another day or so and you have another layer come out from under the next layer of the purple bud and another 10 or 12 bananas appear. I will give you a head count as they appear. Eileen is already planning things to do with our banana money.

This was Thursday morning, August 11. There are 3 fallen bracts on the ground and well over 60 bananas that can be counted on 6 whorls.

Here is a close up of the yellow flower before it starts to fade.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fishing in Hawaii

Nkosi Stewart is our student aid in the Office of Honor. He is a 6’6” young man that is from St. Vincent in the Caribbean. He came to BYUH about 3 years ago as a non member of the Church, on a basketball scholarship. He was baptized a member by one of the players and 1 year later was called on a Mission to the West Indies Mission. He served in his home country of St. Vincent. He had some wonderful leadership experiences on his Mission and is now back to play basketball for BYUH again.

A couple of the kids that he knew before his mission have had him come fishing with them and he invited Elder Olson and I the other day. They had set the gill nets out the night before and we went with them to pull them. They take a 2 man kayak out about 200 yards and load 3 of the nets on and bring it back to the shore and we pick the fish out of the nets. It was just like back in Utah helping the Fisheries Biologists with their sampling of the reservoirs there, except I don’t recognize any of the fish over here. We didn’t catch as many fish as they usually do but it was just like talking to the Fish Heads back home that can look at a stream and tell you where they will catch what fish. Amit Lal, from Fiji has been doing this with his family his whole life and can read the ocean. He pointed out where the breakers are, the water is only about 3’ deep and the channel that comes through is where you want to set the nets. The large fish come in at high tide and then we gather nets at low tide. Of the 4 nets, one had about a 4’ shark in it and the one next to it only had 2 fish. He knew that the shark had thrashed around enough to scare the other fish off before they got caught. He gave the shark to a Tongan friend. He said back in Fiji, they make fish for fish and chips out of shark and they really do taste good.

Friday, July 22, 2011

We met President Uchtdorf in the Laie Temple

Wednesday was our first day back at the Temple for 2 weeks. It was closed for summer cleaning. During our prayer meetings Eileen and I were both told that President Uchtdorf and his family were in town and would be at the Temple sometime during our shift. He had not told them if the group wanted to go on a session or do initiatory or what his time they were going to come. We were told to just keep doing what we were doing if he came by, to greet him if he greeted you. President Workman told us the only reason the First Presidency has security is to keep the members of the Church from wearing them out with hand shaking and wanting to visit. They had geared up to send as many of us as they could to the 2pm session, and then he didn’t come. There is no 3 pm session and the 4pm session is geared to deal with handicapped people. They go to the last ordinance room in an elevator and do the whole session there. About 3:45, my assignment was to go to sealing room 5, which is just off of the Celestial room. They told us that the group had just arrived and were with the Temple President. As I was climbing the stairs, They came out of the baptistry on the second floor and walked up the stairs ahead of me. President Uchtdorf smiled and waved at me and then I was able to hold the door for the rest of the group. When I got up to the celestial room, there stood Eileen. She was the only one in the Celestial room, other than President Uchtdorf’s small group. It was the first time that we had seen each other all afternoon. After admiring the beauty of the Celestial room, the group went to the ordinance room. Eileen and I just stood there in the Celestial room and talked of how neat that was to have seen them that close and in the Temple. About that time they came out of the Ordinance room and back into the Celestial room. President Uchtdorf shook hands with Eileen and then shook hands with me and then gave me a Hawaiian hug greeting and told me “thank you for your service” and I told him “thank you for your example”. They stood there and President Workman told them some information about the stained glass in the doors and about the old chandelier. I went on to my assignment in the sealing room. I had been just behind another worker as he climbed the stairs. He had heard the baptistry door open and turned around and saw the group. When I got to the sealing room, he smiled and said, “I just saw President Uchtdorf”. I said “I saw him too, and just shook his hand and he hugged me”. He was feeling bad that he hadn’t got to shake his hand, and President Workman opened the sealing room door and asked if they could interrupt us for a moment, then the group walked in to the sealing room. President Uchtdorf walked around the room and hugged all of the ladies and shook the men’s hands. There were several patrons that were helping with the sealings and they were just elated and so very emotional at being greeted by a Prophet of God. One of the workers was still sobbing 5 minutes later. As our sealing group went to another room, I was able to greet Eileen again and we talked for the second time how neat that moment was.

We will always remember what a spiritual experience it was to be greeted by a Prophet of God in the Celestial room of the Laie, Hawaii Temple.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The view from our front deck one morning this week gave us a double rainbow. It never is quite as pretty with a small picture as it is in real life, but we wanted you to see it what our view is every morning. Some times there will be kite surfers out there even early in the mornings.

This has been a very busy couple of weeks in the Office of Honor and at BYU Hawaii for Elder and Sister McKell. We started about more cases this week than any other week that we have been here. We got about 10 Academic Honesty cases (end of the Winter Semester) and then our first illegal drugs case today. Housing found the marijuana in the dorm room but the girls had not come back to the room. One of the girls came to our Office today to turn herself in. I spent about 4 hours with the student and BYUH Security and Hawaii 50. I did the initial interview and then made sure that the other agencies were satisfied with the investigation. They let me take the whole thing. We will probably send two young ladies home that had not planned to go home at this time of the school year.

We have a small garden planted in the yard and we have a couple of tomato plants and the tomatoes are bigger than a golf ball. We can start to eat lettuce this week as well.

We had a Ward High Priests Social tonight at the Pavillion at the Church. There was more food there than at most Ward Family Parties. We took some pictures of the line, there were more trays of food than there were people. We had several couples do some songs and dance. There was a Bishop that is from Samoa that was wearing a sulu and would dance for every song played. He kept trying to get Eileen to get up and dance with him, but she never would. During one of the dances he climbed up a square cinder block corner post like he would have a coconut tree. It is so amazing to listen to these people sing, they all have beautiful voices and they sing parts and volume. There has been a Senior Missionary couple that also serve in the BYUH 12th Ward with us. They are going home to Colorado on Wednesday. The Samoans all sang them a farewell song in Samoan.

We have so many pretty lizards in the yard. It is fun to count them as we walk out to the car. Some days we see as many as 5 or 6. Then as we back out the driveway against the rock wall, there will be others sitting along there as well. I finally caught one with the skin on his neck flarred out. I have told my grandsons about the lizards, so this picture is for them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

BYU Hawaii 2011 Graduation Day

April 9, 2011, Winter Semester Graduation Day at BYU Hawaii

Eileen and I were asked to be there before 8am to make sure everyone was in standard before they walked for their Graduation. There were a couple of guys that could have used a little fresher haircut, but for the most part they all looked very good. We didn’t take pictures with everyone that we knew but it was such a positive experience to see how excited the Graduates were for the day and for the opportunity. There were a lot of family there and there were about 10 lei booths set up out on the lawn at 7:30am when we got there. The graduates were not allowed to have any thing around their neck except the Summa Cum Laude, the Magna Cum Laude or the Cum Laude ropes that they wear. As they lined up before their names were called, the Student Body President for next year put a flower lei on each graduate.

Elder Russell M. Nelson was the speaker. There were some 36 Countries represented at this Graduation. The registrar who read the names as they walked across the stage was amazing, she only started over two or three times. After the whole thing was over and they were all outside and they could meet with their friends and families, the leis were just absolutely piled on. Some made out of candy, some made out of flowers, some made out of money. We enjoyed seeing the different ones that people got. There were some kids that couldn’t find their way to the car, because they couldn’t even see over the pile of leis.

Sister McKell and I and Brother Meli Lesuma with Ratu Kalivati Titudua Volavola from Fiji. Meli is the Advisor that we work with in the Office of Honor and is also from Fiji.

Sakiusa Mekemeke Maiwiriwiri and his wife Salote with Sister McKell and I after Graduation. They are going home to Fiji and start a Taro business. They were the winners of the International Business Competition for Empower your Dreams competition

The Student Body President is also the Elder's Quorum President in our Ward. His name is Nicholas Amman Leimana Narayan from Hawaii. He is going to work for Goldman Sacks in Salt Lake City and his family plans to live in Utah County.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Scouting Again

Last summer when Eileen and I arrived in Hawaii, we were assigned to serve in the BYU Hawaii 12th Ward. That is 1 of 5 married student Wards in the BYU Hawaii 2nd Stake. The 12th Ward happens to be the only Ward with a High Priest Group and the only Ward with any youth program except Primary. We happen to have both a Young Men and a Young Women program. We had about 4 YM and 1 YW in the Ward, and then the Winter Semester started. We got 6 new families. All of the men were High Priests, one had been a Councilor in a Bishopric back home in Tonga. Two had been Councilors in their Stake Presidencies, in Tonga and one in Kiribati. One had been a Bishop in Samoa another in Tonga. Some wonderful Preisthood strength. With those 5 families came 5 YM and 1 YW. Five High Priests were also added to our Ward. Four of those priesthood brothers brought their wives to BYU Hawaii. Only one of the men is a student. All 5 of the students are teachers in their Home Countries at LDS Church School programs back home. On March 27th, we got another High Priest, he had just been released as a Stake President in the Marshall Islands. Another boost for our High Priests Group. His only son is too young for the Young Mens Program. With the end of Winter Semester, also came changes in the Stake High Council and I was called to serve there. The Church really is true, I was asked to be the High Councilman working with the YM/YW programs in the Stake. A married student couple have been called as the Stake YM and YW Presidents. It still shouldn’t be too overwhelming for them, no more kids in the program than they have.

I had asked the Scoutmaster several times when they had a campout planned and he kept telling me they were working on the schedule. Well they held their first campout last weekend, March 25-26th They went just to the edge of town and the foothills on the Hawaii Reserve property, a place called cricket field. There is a 40 acre grass field that is surrounded by trees. It has a water connection and several places that you could build fires at the edge of the trees. It is less than a mile to the Hukilau Beach from there. The Scoutmaster brought a pig that they roasted on a spit over the fire. There were 2 boys from Kiribati, 2 from Korea, 3 from Tonga, 2 Samoan and 1 Hawaiian. They all enjoyed the pig over the fire, and the spare ribs and the chicken and the hotdogs on the BBQ. Then when I got there with a Dutch Oven peach cobbler and ice cream, they were not sure if they wanted to try that. None of them had ever seen a dutch oven, or tasted cobbler. They did finish off the gallon of ice cream, though. After I got them all to try the cobbler, they said I have to bring one of those for every camp. Of the Adult leaders, there were 3 of us from the mainland, 1 Samoan, and 2 Tongans. They had a good time and with a large “easy corner”, a metal frame with 1 side and the top covered with tarps the rain didn’t bother them too much. It was a fun camp and I hope the first of many. I did not stay over night, since they are not my boys and I am not their leader, I just love the program and going to the mountain. That and the fact that I am an old man that doesn’t do well sleeping on the ground any more.

This past Wednesday night, I went to the Temple and helped them do Baptisms for the dead, also. We had 3 YW and 3 adult YW leaders. We had 7 YM and 7 adult YM leaders. Like most of the other Temples, we were asked to provide our own Priesthood brothers. We also had a family visiting from Canada, that wanted to do some of their own names so we did those as well. Our Temple President has made the decision that 5 is all of the sheet names he will let the young people do. He wants it to be a shorter, more spiritual experience instead of a rush to get it all done. Hurry is not part of our instructions. The sealers and the initiatory people have all been asked to slow things down and make sure that it is a positive spiritual experience for everyone that is involved.

42 years ago today, Eileen and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple. It has been wonderful.. We decided to take Friday off work and fly to Kauai and spend the weekend. We have never been there before and it really was a fun trip. We stayed in Princeville on the north end of the Island and then just went sightseeing. Kuaui is called the Garden Island and is actually much greener than Oahu. I think it has more agriculture if you don’t count the Pineapple plantations on Oahu.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Snooze -- You Lose

By now you must have all heard the story of the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami that was a result of that earthquake. At about 10pm on the evening of Thursday, March 10th, the first of the tsunami warning sirens went off here in Laie. The only problem was, we had gone to bed at 9 pm and didn’t even hear that siren, or any other sirens for the next 5 hours. At 3:45 am, the deaf guy hears a helicopter fly over with its siren blaring. When I woke up, the lights of the apartment upstairs deck were on and I could hear the boys outside talking. Curfew is midnight and I was about half mad at the kids for waking me up. About ½ hour later the lights went off and so I just went back to sleep. I was the only one that had even sat up in bed to look out and see the lights. Terri (Eileen’s sister) and her husband Mat were staying with us. We all slept peacefully until Brooke, as well as Eileen’s mother called at 6:30 a.m. and asked if we were alright. We were surprised by their calls, since we had gone to bed early and not watched any TV that evening, we hadn’t heard about the potential 25 foot wave that had been forecast for Hawai, nor the evacuation warning. A 25 foot wave going 500 miles an hour would literally devastate this town. There was some damage in Hawaii, but none on this Island. That is the hand of the Lord.

At 10 p.m. the entire town of Laie evacuated to high ground. Hundreds of people brought their valuables, & 72-hour packs to the mountainside hear the Temple. People who had cars, tried to sleep in them. It was a long worrisome night for them. The blaring sirens went off every hour - on the hour. When we got to campus at 8am, we were the only ones there. We saw several kids walking back to the dorms carrying their pillows and other things that they had taken with them to high ground. People were stunned & amazed that we had not even heard the siren and had been able to sleep thru them. (In our defense, even tho all of our windows were open, they face the ocean and the sound of the surf is ever present and our apartment is made of block & concrete, and is a basement apartment -- very soundproof).

I hope you have all seen the destruction of the tsunami waves that hit Japan. It is a really sad thing to think about that devastation. We don't know how many of the kids from Japan here at BYU Hawaii lost family or friends in that disaster. Keep praying for them. They said of the 7 Missions in Japan, only 1 did not have all of the Missionaries accounted for.

The whales are in the Hawaii area from December until May. It is really quite exciting to stand at the railing of the deck and look out and see at least a “spout” . If you get the binoculars (whale watchers as Trey calls them) and follow the spouts for a minute or two, you can see which way they are going and kind of get an idea how many there are in the pod. You might see a back or two as they drift along the surface and get their breath. When they finally dive, is when you get to see the tails out of the water.

We are in a beautiful place. The weather is always wonderful. We are having a fantastic time. We love being and serving here. But miss and love our family. (Hoping for visitors).