Aug 11, 2008
Surf's Up! That's me riding the waves in Waikiki.
First Look at the New Team: Angie Perez (far left), our new kindergarten teacher from Orlando, FL, shared this picture with me of our new teachers in Hawaii since my camera had stopped working. From left, after Angie, Cristina Sanchez, from Maryland, who will be teaching Grades 1/2; Nicole French, a recent graduate of Walla Walla College who hails from California, who will be the 7/8 Homeroom teacher; Me; Megan McCollum from Maryland who will be assisting Virle in the office, and Jaimie Nickell from eastern Oregon, who will be teaching at the pre-school. Not pictured is Rhonda Prokopetz, who was finding out even as this picture was being taken that she'd be joining the Saipan team. There will be a seperate blog coming up later that will deal in detail with the miraculous arrival of Rhonda to Saipan.
Every year we spend about a week on Oahu in Hawaii. Babs has her principal's meetings followed by several days of orientation for all of the new teachers that will be going to work in Adventist schools all across Micronesia. Usually, I pitch in to help where ever I can, but this is mainly Barbara's show and I'm basically still on vacation during this week.
Well, this year, Barbara was too far along in her pregnancy to make the trip so I went in her place. Instead of sleeping late, whiling away the hours on the internet, and getting in some reading while "helping out" here and there, this time I was busy attending meetings, teaching seminars, and trying to find time to get over to Office Depot to buy school supplies. This year's Hawaii trip gave me a new understanding of the complexity and responsibilities of the job Babs does every single day. I remember talking to her on the phone about a prospective teacher I'd talked to and I was mortified to find out that I'd failed to get even the most basic information Babs needed. There was so much I simply didn't think about. It gave me an even deeper respect and renewed admiration for my wife and the wonderful work she does. I have a feeling when she's on her maternity leave and I'm in charge of the school, I'm going to have our home phone number on speed dial.
So, Hawaii was a lot of work this year, but it was nice to see all the other principals again--Jim Spiva, the principal of the Adventist schools in Majuro, along with his wife Chrystal and their kids; Jeri Martin, the principal of Palau Mission Academy; Ryan Ybanez, the principal of the school in Ebeye--he and I were paired up quite a bit during the weekend; Millar Benjamin--the senior principal among us with 14 years at the Pohnpei SDA School; and Daniel Lacayan--who was a mentor teacher to me when I was a student missionary in Chuuk fourteen years ago--and his wife Arlene. I also enjoyed seeing the mission officers again too, especially Keith Rodman who, though he'd already left his position as the education director flew out to guide the teacher orientation one last time. And of course, it was exciting to see all the energetic, young talent on their way out to the mission field--over 90 missionary teachers this year!
So, it was a busy week. . .but there was still a little time for fun too. After all when I went to pick up my rental car on arrival in Honolulu, they gave me a convertible because it was "all they had left" and I wasn't about to let that go to waste!
The principal's meetings which took place at Hawaiian Mission Academy. From L to R, Millar Benjamin, Arlene and Daniel Licayan, Cameron Danier (going out to Majuro as the assistant vice principal), Jim and Chrystal Spiva (Jim is the principal in Majuro.)
The Big Three: Gary Johnson, mission treasurer; Keith Rodman, the former education suprintendent; and Remenster Jano, the Guam Micronesia Mission president.
Dinner with the principals and their families at a local Chinese restuaurant, Thursday evening, July 31, 2008.
Butter Fish at the Chinese restaurant. Believe it or not, this is not real fish. This is vegemeat. I'm not sure what kind--they had so many varieties of vegemeat, and all apparently made on site. The flavor and variety of meat analog products they carried far outpaced the more familiar Loma Linda/Worthington brands I'm used to.
Friends Old and New
One of the great things about being a grown-up is that the spectrum of people you can call your friends widens dramatically. When you're kid, the age range of your friends is pretty narrow. You don't associate with anyone more than two or three years older or younger than yourself, and at certain ages, even that range can seem vast. After all how much does a thirteen-year old have in common with a ten year old or sixteen year old. But as an adult, you find you can yourself at ease with people who are ten, fifteen years your senior or junior.
I experienced that in Hawaii, making new friends with someone who has a few years on me and reconnecting with an old friend who is young enough to have once been my student (in fact, she was my student at one time)
An Old Friend: Aya Sato attended the Saipan SDA School for ten years and was my student for quite a few of those years. Now she's about to enter her senior year as a social work major at Hawaii Pacific University. We always try to look her up when we're in Hawaii and this year was no exception. We hung out a few times-- I looked at her pictures from her recent trip to South Africa, she helped me do some Japanese translation for the draft of my novel, and we generally got caught up on the last year. Aya also came out to the teacher orientation to meet the Saipan's new teachers and give them a former student's perspective on what makes for an effective teacher.
A New Friend: Doug Herrmann is the education suprintendent for the Southeastern California Conference and he was the key presenter during our two days of principal's meetings on July 31 and August 1. In addition to being a knowledgable administrator and educator with years of experience under his belt, he's a really great guy. We hit it off from the beginning and I enjoyed hanging out with him a bit outside of the meetings. Especially fun was our afternoon of body surfing.
I snagged this photo off the web; my camera died on me halfway through the trip (which is why there are few photos of the teacher orientation). But this is the exact model (and even color) of the car I had.
I haven't ridden in a convertible since I was a high school student riding shotgun in my buddy Chris's dad's Mustang. I'd never driven one until this past week and actually hadn't planned on it. I reserved the usual mid-size auto and expected the usual non-descript rental. Instead, I was told that I would be getting a convertible because "that was all they had left." Lucky me! At first, I was a little apprehensive about putting the top down--after all, what if I couldn't get the top to go back up and it started raining--but on my second day in Hawaii, the sky was a brilliant blue, the temperatures were balmy, a tropical breeze was blowing and I decided: Why not. Of course not twenty minutes later, it started raining and I couldn't get the top back up. Fortunately, it was only a light drizzle and I did eventually figure out how to get the top back up.
After that, it was a lot of fun. It wasn't just that I felt cool cruising with the top down (my little episode with the rain quickly cured me of any notions of coolness), it was really, purely fun. Hawaii, with it's lovely weather and gorgeous surroundings, is the perfect place to drive a convertible.
Couple of things to keep in mind though: Make sure you don't have any loose papers anywhere in the car--they'll be gone as soon as you pick up speed. And, as much as you may feel like bursting into sing-a-long ecstasy is the perfect thing to match your carefree, top-down vibe, keep in mind that everyone can see, and many can hear, you belting out your favorite tunes.
I can't remember the name of this beach on the southern endof Oahu, but this idyllic spot is where Doug Herrmann and I went body surfing. We kind of wished it had been a little less idyllic and little more action packed.
Our body surfing beach.
The waves broke very close to shore and so riding them meant that we usually ended up being smooshed into the sand at the end. It literally took me about twenty minutes in the shower to get the sand out of my hair and scalp
Despite the lack of consistent surf and the small waves, we had a lot of fun. Here I am sandy and unfazed at the end of our afternoon of body surfing.
Tuesday, August 5--the day before I left, I decided to take some surfing lessons. Our instructor (I was in a group session with two very sweet and demure Mormon girls) was quite good and very patient. I found it wasn't as hard as I thought it might be (though granted the waves--were again, quite small). It was a real "Bev Choice" for me because I was pretty nervous about getting hurt and felt foolish about trying something I'd never done before (and probably messing up a lot). But I'm glad I did it--it was well worth it.
Overall, it was a fun and productive week in Hawaii.