A bright moment from an overcast year. Here's Babs and me with three of our 2004 8th grade graduates (L to R, Nathan Pangelinan, Masa Yoshida, and Yu Pai Babauta) and Nathan's mom, Connie.
Some days are better than others--bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, a warm breeze. Other days are overcast. A dull gray pall hangs over everything, the heavy, murmuring clouds spit rain, and the chill wind cuts through your coat. Days like those are hard if you have to be out in the elements instead of curled up under the covers with a good book and hot bowl of soup.
Some years are like that too. Some years are gray, heavy with murmuring, uncomfortable, and they can even sting. Some years, like some days, are overcast.
I ain't gonna sugarcoat it--2003/2004 was an overcast year, at least for me and, I feel, for the Saipan SDA School. That year we dealt with hostile parents, rebellious students, and difficult staff. Or wait, was it difficult parents, hostile students,and rebellious staff? Well, whatever the case it was a tough year. Even REAL Christian Theater seemed beset by troubles, mostly from the wrong kind of drama, for much of the year.
But even on the most overcast day,the sun sometimes pokes through the clouds and throughout that challenging year there were pockets of sunshine too. Here's just a few that I remember:
Amber and Heidi
Amber Sell and Heidi Scheffer were two of our standout SMs we've had over the year. Amber was literally sunshine personified with a brilliant smile and a bouyant personality. She taught in our preschool and was co-director with me in REAL Christian Theater. Heidi was kind, patient, with a good heart and a humble spirit. She anchored our kindergarten that year. Together, they helped keep the clouds at bay that year.
In the fall of 2003, my friend Galvin and I began to realize our filmmaking dreams as we began shooting the first season of our planned Saipan-centered, Christian-themed television drama, Journeys. We had lots of help from some new friends in the film and television industry: Butch and Les Wolf, Hollywood postproduction veterans who had started their own local studio, TalkStory Studios, Greg Curda and Mike Black, also experienced in the industry, and actor, writer, and director Dan Shor, who had been working in front of and behind the camera for years in Hollywood. Dan took the lead with directing and Galvin and I learned much from him, and from the rest of the guys. Those days of rushing over to the set after school and shooting until late into the night were so much fun. I felt like I could do this forever and never get tired of it. Fortunately for me, even though the Journeys project never got out of the editing room, my experience there led to other opportunities. In the summer of 2004 I worked as the production manager for a documentary on the 60th anniversary of the battle of Saipan. In addition to the exciting film production work, the privelege of meeting the returning veterans that had fought on our island home sixty years earlier, including legends like "Hap" Halloran and Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets, was an incredible privelege.
Guam and Palau REAL Tours
For the first time, we had two off-island tours in a single REAL season. After the long, draining multi-leg tours of the past few years, we decided we needed to tour Guam seperately. So we tacked on a weekend of performances in Guam to the end of spring vacation in 2004. I missed most of that tour, due to flight delays coming back from the Mainland. One of the darker storms of that overcast year was the passing of my grandfather, William W. Thomson. I'd gone back to Florida for the funeral and planned to meet the team in Guam in time for the tour. But a mechanical delay in Houston led, domino-like to me being stuck in Hawaii for three days. I arrived in Guam for the final 20 minutes of the last performance of the weekend (a show, incidentally, that I was supposed to be acting in). Fortunately Amber with assistance from student directors Aya Sato and Holly Delacruz, and also Babs did a great job of covering for me that weekend.
The Palau tour in May 2004 was a memorable one. This was our second time performing in Palau (the first had been in 2002), and we had a great time. We spent two days on Pelileu island, the family home of one our team members, Indira Singeo. Memories of that trip include the gracious hospitality of the family as they hosted us in their sprawling compound, swimming in the unique swimming hole (literally a hole in the ground), touring the islands fascinating World War II era sites,performing for an appreciative local audience in the village center, and the wild and stormy boat ride back to Koror. The rest of the weekend in Koror was fun too and the tour was definitely a bright spot in the year.
Kimo first appeared outside our door in the fall of 2003 as a bounding, adorable puppy with a big grin on her face. Our pastor at the time, Pastor Schmell Gallen, had brought her back from a ministry trip to Tinian. She was so cute and so friendly! After awhile, she kind of disappeared for awhile, and eventually we became aware that Pastor was keeping her tied up in the back of the house to keep her from being kidnapped and eaten by passing strangers (true story--dogs do get kidnapped and eaten in Saipan). Eventually, as she grew, she emerged from behind the house, but she was still usually tied up. She wasnt as bouncy as she had been as a puppy, but she was still just as friendly. And so when Pastor Gallen and his family relocated to Guam in the early summer of 2004, we we found ourselves stepping forward to adopt Kimo as our very own. She's been a part of the family ever since.
We miss Kimo, since we've moved back to the States. But as soon as we can get settled and put together the money (and as soon as the embargo on shipping animals during the hot months of July and August ends), we plan to send for her so that she can rejoin the family.
So there you have it--some rays of sunshine in an overcast year. They're always there, you know--those reasons to rejoice. Even in the darkest of days, God is there and so are His blessings, if you look for them. While the weather changes from day to day, from season to season, and year to year, God is ever present in His care and unchanging in His love. We will keep that in mind when cloudy days come again.