If Labor Day marked the end of summer, then what a summer it was. A culminating four months marked the end of college and internship and the beginning of full-time professional ministry and this thing called “adult life.”
With a black robe, funny hat, plenty of leis, Chicago-style pizza, and family and friends nearby, college graduation signaled the start. I remembered walking up the scuffed, black stairs to First Kohn at the end of my freshman year thinking that the time to graduation seemed so far-off and unable to imagine what life in 2016 might be like. Somehow though, there I was in a gymnasium full of graduates walking across the stage with two degrees earned and a summer full of adventure ahead of me. Vacation Bible School transformed our little sanctuary into a spelunker’s paradise and left me with songs stuck in my head for days. I learned the goodbye part of aloha as friends and confidants from my first year on island moved onto new places. I played island tour guide and built sand castles when friends came to visit.
Wearing caving gear as children shouted “Follow Him” each morning and playing tourist each afternoon, I ventured around the Big Island for a week. The clouds of Mauna Kea mysteriously drifted around us as we hiked atop cinder cones. As the sun set, they morphed into wisps of cotton candy in the horizon. Creation sang His praises, and children sang of His light.
Alongside twelve of my ohana, I made my way 4,200 miles to New Orleans for the LCMS National Youth Gathering. Our voices joined with thousands of others as we danced and sang with Rend Collective and shouted about our identity in Christ alone. We lost count of exclamations of “You’re from Hawaii?!” We witnessed echoes of Christ’s humility in Gathering staff, volunteers, New Orleans residents, and each other. Our honu had his 15 minutes of fame riding on escalators, taking photos, and sitting on stages. We laughed, and we cried, growing together as a community in Christ alone. With my parents present, I was installed and became Our Savior’s Director of Christian Education. Since then, there have been ups and downs, alohas of hello and goodbye, and One constant stability. My journey continues.
For now, I’m sitting in Starbucks sipping on a Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I suppose marks the start of fall. The school year is in full swing, and my days are full. I’m figuring out this post-grad life, trying to take it one day at time, and “live it well.”