Answering the Questions

I’ve been delinquent in my blogging. Perhaps, it’s because I’m finding a rhythm to my life here, or it’s because I struggle to put to words all I’ve experienced in my almost 2 months here (how’d that happen?!). It’s probably a combination of the two.

I’m often asked if Hawaii is what I expected, how I’m adjusting, and how Hawaii life is going. Quick answers are simple enough, but when I consider the questions fully, I realize just how much has filled my weeks living on this bustling island in the middle of the Pacific.

I don’t really know what I expected this year to be, because coming here in itself was unexpected. I only joked about internship in Hawaii, because I didn’t think it was even a possibility. My expectations were limited, and I think that’s helped me to appreciate life simply for what it is here.

When it comes adjusting, I’ve surprised myself with my adaptability. I’ve jumped in, and whether it’s been an awkward flop, graceful dive, or somewhere in between, I’m learning everyday. Learning about God’s provision. Learning about trust. Learning about culture. Learning again and again that God’s plans prevail over my own.

As for Hawaii life, there are both joys and challenges to living on a little dot in the ocean. I’d be lying if I said the time difference and distance from home isn’t hard sometimes. Often when I’m ready to pick up the phone at the end of the day, the mainland is falling asleep.  It’s a lesson in learning to be content in all circumstances and to celebrate the beauty of each day. And there’s a lot of beauty in Hawaii not just in the scenery but in the people too: people from church who invite me to do things and greet me with warm smiles each Sunday, new friends who can empathize with my transition into life here, and neighbors on the elevator who share smiles and simple greetings.

As the school year starts, my responsibilities will increase. When winter approaches, I’ll have to discern where this journey is taking me beyond internship. But that’s getting ahead of myself, because today I’m celebrating conversations over Starbucks, the joy of singing, discovering new features on Google Docs, Mat Kearney streaming in my apartment, and brownie sundaes.

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Indescribable

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Mondays are my day off, and this is my fifth Monday in Hawaii. Today I’ve been considering all I’ve learned, experienced, and seen as my first month here has come to a close and my second month begins. The fact that I’m living here still hasn’t completely set in.

Since stepping off the plane, I stumble less pronouncing long Hawaiian street names and know to call a patio a lanai and sea turtles honu. I know that there’s no “d” in shave ice and don’t always need my GPS to get from place to place. I’m slowly but surely learning more names of the people at church. I have a library card, a Starbucks, and Target, and a car to take me to each place. Each day, I figure a little more out.

Last week, I travelled to the Big Island with a small team from Our Savior. We spent our mornings leading VBS and our afternoons and evenings exploring. The smiles, radical love, and witness of the children at VBX captured our hearts and ignited our faith. We drove miles and miles crossing lava fields, rainforests, and cattle ranches free from Oahu traffic. Our feet got covered in red dirt at the southern most point of the United States. We laughed as we ate tacos in our Ford Fusion at the edge of Mauna Loa feeling like a commercial. When the sun set, stars radiantly glistened in the night sky, Jupiter and Venus sparkled, and the outline of the Milky Way glowed. Again and again, all I could do was marvel at the land and joy in my midst.

So many moments in this last month I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about in an effort to fully describe what I saw and experienced, but mostly it all feels indescribable.

This afternoon I sat on a bench along the edge of the ocean reading and listening to the waves crash with a peaceful rhythm of incomprehensible power. I never expected to live in Hawaii, but here I am, and it’s only the beginning of this adventure.

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Beyond the Beaches

Before I left the mainland, people often responded to the news of me moving to Hawaii for a year with a standard collection of phrases.

“You must have an in with God.”

“Well, someone has to do it…”

“Sounds like a tough life. “

“How do find all these exotic places?!”

“It’s paradise; you’ll get to spend all your time on the beach!”

“Are you parents going to visit?”

Beaches, palm trees, volcanoes, flowers, and aloha all would be mentioned. What first comes to mind is valid. The beaches are breathtaking. I’ve started addressing emails with “aloha.” Each day, I admire the palm trees lining my driveway.

But my life here isn’t all beaches and palm trees and reaches beyond what first comes to mind. My year in Hawaii isn’t a vacation. I’m here for internship. I’m here to work. I’m here to serve. Exploring Oahu is the perk.

I live in a high rise with the highway on one side and a mall on the other. I walk down a busy street each morning heading to Our Savior’s Mission Center for a day of learning, planning, preparation, and envisioning how different areas of ministry might lead people to a relationship with the King.

Tomorrow, I head to the Big Island to lead VBS with a mission team from Our Savior, but today I celebrate the simplicity of a day in the kitchen cooking fun 4th of July recipes and the freedom we have in this country that so many people on this island fight and sacrifice for everyday.