50. Micronesia Here We Come!

guam-tumon-bay50.  Micronesia Here We Come!

We were in Micronesia for my sabbatical year from the Univ. of Hawaii to study intercultural communication, serve the Lord in order to get a taste of the missionary experience… and to be honest…. enjoy the clear waters, sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees of the islands in the Pacific.

We stepped through the fringe of ironwood trees onto the narrow sand beach.  I looked out on the flat, calm, reef-protected water, and then down the tree-lined curve of the beach.  As far as I could see, there was no one except a couple of naked children playing at the water’s edge several hundred feet away.

Betty squealed and jumped as the sand under her feet “moved” as hundreds of tiny hermit crabs in their tiny shells scurried across the sand.  It was an overcast, grey, yet warm and pleasant day, Christmas Eve, 1979.  We were at Tumon Bay, one of the WWII invasion beaches on Guam, which is now a US territory.  We snorkeled in the fantastically warm clear waters where we could see “forever” underwater.

We were 3 weeks on Guam at the Liebenzell mission house.  We toured using the mission van, met ministers and missionaries, had lunch with the Guam Ministers association at the plush officers club, conversed with faculty at the Univ. of Guam, and were “briefed” on Liebenzell mission activities in Micronesia.

Shortly after Christmas Day service at an open-air chapel, we were to fly on to Truk and teach at the Micronesian Institute of Biblical Studies. But, I was having physical problems and we made the agonizing decision to return to Honolulu to get medical help.  My dream adventure for my sabbatical year was shattered!

In Honolulu, we stayed with a Christian friend from our church, Ray Jee, because we had rented out our home for the year.  The Lord led us to a new doctor, a Naturopath, who finally got me turned around and  feeling better.

After 2 months in Honolulu, we talked to the Liebenzell Mission Field Director in Truk by short wave radio and asked if we could still come.  Yes!

Off we went again, headed for Truk.  Our first stop on the way was the beautiful high island of Pohnpei, where we found a Kapingamarangi treasure.

Join us for the next Blog.

49. Missionary Day

kawaiahao-church49.  Missionary Day

A young guy at our church asked me to help him photograph events at Kawaiahao church for the Women’s Mission Board’s Missionary Day.  Kawaiahao church is a giant stone building in mid-Honolulu built when the first missionaries came to Hawaii.

At one time the national church of the Hawaiian Kingdom and chapel of the royal family, the church is popularly known as Hawaii’s Westminster Abbey.  Betty and I sat in the balcony where we could see the portraits of Hawaiian Royalty that lined the walls and enjoy the amazing acoustics in the high cathedral ceiling building.  I was touched by the communion hymn, “We Will Break Bread Together on Our Knees.”

Marge Terpstra, former missionary to Micronesia, gave an inspiring talk about her time in the islands.

When I mentioned to a member of the Women’s Board of Missions my desire to visit Pacific islands, she said they supported missionaries in Micronesia, and would be delighted to have us visit them to see how they were doing.  Micronesia! Fantastic!  Where is that?

They also said to contact the American branch of the German Liebenzell Mission because they had a school in the islands.  The Liebenzell Mission contact told us their college for lay church leaders was looking for teachers, could I teach a course there in Truk?  Of course!  Where is Truk? (Now called Chuuk)

micronesia-mapMicronesia, meaning “small islands,” is the area north of the Equator stretching from 2500 miles southwest of Hawaii across the western Pacific.  Micronesia is spread over 3 million miles of the Pacific and includes over 2000 islands.  The distance from one end of Micronesia to the other is 2,040 nautical miles.  The four main island groups of the Caroline Islands are, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap, and are comprised of thousands of widely scattered small tropical islands.

So, we went! For how, why and where, come back to our blog next week.

48. Spiritual Renewal

holy-spirit48.  Spiritual Renewal

Our insurance agent and friend from Hilo called, and with no previous intention invited himself to dinner.  At dinner he asked if we would like to go with him to a Spirit-filled prayer and bible study group.

Sure, why not?  The small group was at the home of the Provost of the Leeward Community College.  Shortly after we joined the group, the leader announced that we all had been invited to attend an open ecumenical communion led by a young priest at the Catholic Chaminade College.  We were curious to see what the Lord was up to, so we went to the chapel at Chaminade to see what they did.  All we knew about Catholic communion was they used real wine.

The first surprise at Chaminade was to be greeted by nuns in Hawaiian print habits who hugged us!  Then, can you imagine four hours of chapel service — mostly praise songs?  There were occasional speakers, and some testimonies, followed by communion, and then a bible study teaching by Sister Irene in a nearby classroom.  The times were exhilarating, and we experienced a wonderful time of Spiritual renewal and refreshment.  Certainly God had brought us to Honolulu for new strength from His Holy Spirit, and to be able to witness for Jesus!

kalihi-union-churchSoon after, we met a former student of mine from Hilo, Randy Hongo, who invited us to attend his church, Kalihi Union Church. Kalihi Union was another landing place that I am sure God had waiting for us.  KUC was in a Filipino community with a congregation of Japanese, Hawaiians, Chinese, Korean, and Caucasians.

We had many wonderful experiences there that opened up for us over fifteen years.

47. Sailing on Spectre


Spectre sailboat47.  Sailing on Spectre

We had not sailed since we sold our sailboat, Keola, to Bill Finnegan, the Producer of Hawaii 5-0.  One fun thing we missed was inviting the high school kids from our Sunday school class to join us sailing after church.  We’d pack a lunch and eat when we anchored off Waikiki.

We were approached at the Sailing Club by Major John Fairbanks, United States Air Force, with a proposition to buy 1/2 interest, and partner with him on his 27 foot sloop, named Spectre.  Quite a step up for us dreamers, but we justified it by thinking we could now bring more of the Sunday school class down to enjoy the sailing.  John’s deal was he would clean the bottom of the boat, and buy gas, and we would keep the topside clean.

Betty - SpectreBob - Spectre

John crewed for us, and helped until we could “solo.”  Spectre slept 6 and had a dinette, sink, ice box, stove, head, and electric start inboard/outboard motor.  We moored alongside the dock, not bow on, and with the motor, I would put it in reverse and adjust our approach speed.  We also rigged a catchline so docking was much easier.

On a day when storm warnings were up, we had a barbecue/picnic and a boat-waxing party for our Sunday school class at the Marina Clubhouse.  (How would you wax 27 feet of fiberglass?)  We traded rides for work and the kids had fun doing it.  The payoff was to take everybody sailing the following Sunday.

Spectre B&BIt was a beautiful day!  Specter moved gracefully along at 8 knots in a good breeze, with the hiss of water by the hull, harmonized by the soft buzz of the sail’s edge and accented occasionally by a line slapping the mast or the bow slamming into a wave.  White clouds, blue skies, and a rainbow across the valley; flying fish skipping across the water, and far out to sea, we saw whales spouting.  (We don’t go near to play with those big guys!)

But the soft symphony and beauty must not lull the senses to a lack of alertness.  The wind dropped off, and we put up the big Lapper jib. (It laps back past the mast and over the mainsail several feet.)  Going so slow it would take too long to return to the Club, so I started the motor, and we dropped the sails.

We were motoring in the channel of the lagoon when the motor sputtered to a stop — out of gas!  Quick as a flash, Betty was on deck to hoist the jib sail again, and we were under sail before the wind could turn us onto the sandbar.  Moving very slowly, we needed our guests to work jib sheets (lines) under pressure, because the jib had to be reset quickly to the opposite side each time we tacked back and forth in the narrow channel.

It was a bit tense, but all went well as we sailed up to the dock — for the first time.  We moored with a sigh of relief!