59. Christian Vision Ministry

59.  Christian Vision Ministry

Christian Vision was approved in record time by the State of Hawaii as a non-profit corporation, and tax-exemption by the IRS to support the ministry of music.  Randy and Gay’s record album “He Is  Alive” was officially released at a launch concert in March.  The release concert was fantastic!  Standing room only; chairs in the aisles; Randy and Gay gave an inspired performance!!

Randy and Gay gave concerts on the other major islands, and at several churches in California.  Betty went with them to Hilo to handle record sales, and we both went to Maui, and a conference on Kauai to help out and have a little “vacation”.

On Kauai, Randy and Gay were leaders in a young adults conference at a church in Hanalei, the last little town at the end of the island.  It was like stepping back a century into old Hawaii.  The programs were held in the church hall built in 1841.

The weekend conference seemed like one long luau with a few interruptions for meetings and programs.  What a fun time!  All the traditional Hawaiian foods… kalua pig baked overnight in the imu (ground oven): along with sweet potatoes, poi (smashed taro), raw fish; chicken hekka (marinated in soy sauce with bean thread noodles and vegetables: haupia (coconut pudding); salted butterfish in taro leaves; teriyaki beef;….and always with singers and hula dancers. Good stuff!  Believe it or not, I even like poi now.

Betty was busy keeping the books, handling record sales, and doing PR work for Christian Vision.  In less than a year, the records and tapes paid for themselves, and with no advertising, were requested and sent out to people around the world.  Tapes were sent to missionaries in Africa, Micronesia, and Japan, and to others in Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Alaska and many states on the mainland US.

There were surprise perks of following Randy and Gay:

Imagine Sunday service sitting on the sand at Waikiki Beach listening to the preacher of the Beach Chaplalncy in shorts and T-shirt preach the Gospel to tourists in bikinis.  Randy and Gay sang, and the soft breeze fooled us in to thinking we were not getting sunburned.

We went to an invitation only breakfast program with Billy Graham.

Christmas Eve, we decided to join Randy and Gay, and our Christian Vision group at the Halekulani Hotel lounge, where Randy was playing piano.  Can you imagine singing traditional Christian Christmas carols in a bar in a plush Waikiki hotel?  Even our hula dancers did a number to a Christmas carol.  We got a kick out of seeing hotel guests coming in with a quizzical look to join in the unusual music in the lounge.

Randy invited us to come again New Year’s Eve for the hotel’s party.  We usually stay home, but couldn’t resist New Year’s Eve at the Halekulani.  As midnight approached, we moved out of the lounge on the large lanai.  A waitress gave me a cardboard top hat, and noise makers were passed out. Surrounded by beautiful women, I was anticipating the traditional midnight kiss.  At midnight, fireworks exploded off the beach, and a “sound-like” Guy Lombardo band played Auld Lang Syne.  I did get several kisses – Hawaiian style, on the cheek.

Memories of fun times!   More coming.

58. Christian Vision

58.  Christian Vision

One of my former students in Hilo, Randy Hongo, invited us to go to his church, Kalihi Union Church.  Randy was a gifted piano player and composer, and his wife Gay an exceptional classical singer.  They had been touring the mainland US doing Christian concerts, and had returned to Hawaii where Randy was Music Director at the church.

To get acquainted, we invited them for dinner.  For conversation, Betty asked Randy, “If the Lord was sitting here, and asked you what would you really like to do.”  What would you say?Randy replied that he would like to make a recording so they could reach more people with their music.  Betty then asked,  “What would that take?”  Get a producer, find a recording studio, and raise thousands of dollars.  Betty said, “Let’s do it!”

Our next meeting included Tim, a friend of Randy who was a producer.  Randy wanted the best, so Tim said the best studio was SeaWest on the North Shore, but they were always busy, and it would take six months or more to get in.

To raise money we decided to form a non-profit organization called Christian Vision.  I wrote up the non-profit application, and became President, and Betty became Manager, and etc, the “do everything else person.”

Coincidently, Betty received a letter informing her that an insurance policy had matured, and would she like to withdraw the money, or reinvest it?  Betty donated the seed money that launched the Christian Vision ministry.  The SeaWest studio folks agreed to work us in after hours and in-between, and a few weeks later, after Randy and Gay scrambled to get the music ready, we were in the studio and recording!  We took pre-orders to raise money.  Our ambitious goal was to have the album ready for Christmas, only three months away.

We are grateful the way God was with us and blessed the project.  Normally, months of planning are needed to get all the facets of a record production together.  But, in a matter of weeks we were able to get the best studio on the island during a very busy season, get Christian musicians and back-up singers, get the instrumental and vocal arrangements of ten songs Randy chose, and then — record everything in 4 days.  God’s timing is perfect.  After recording the Master, it had to be sent to the mainland for imprinting on the LP discs, and sent back.

He’s Alive,” the first Christian Vision cassettes were ready by the Christmas concert, with Betty, the Hongos, and helpers up half the night before, loading and shrink-wrapping the cassettes.  The ”He’s Alive” LP album came in early 1982, and was featured at the official Christian Vision launch concert in March.  Lord of the Islands (pictured above) was their second album.

Christian Vision was launched, and the Hongos have since recorded 19 CDs, six of which have won the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Inspirational Album Of The Year.  The Hongos have traveled all over the world as God blessed their Christian Vision ministry of music.

This is music with a message, that Christ is alive and waiting for people to hear and believe and accept Him.

See Randy And Gay on their website: rghongo.com


57. Reverse Cultural Shock!

 57.  Reverse Cultural Shock!

There was a big surprise waiting for us when we arrived back in Honolulu!  Reverse culture shock!

On the way from the airport to our home, we stopped at a drugstore to pick up a few necessities.  Betty came out in 5 minutes — empty handed!  She couldn’t stand the noise level.

Back home, the phone rang and we both “jumped” from the startling rIng.  The Dean of the college was calling.  “Welcome home, Bob, your book orders are due tomorrow.”  We disconnected the phone, and the doorbell.

The noise, traffic, crowds of people, the time-pressure of deadlines and commuting… took several weeks to get back “in” to the pace.  After only three months on an isolated island that was an almost completely silent environment — no cars, no TV or radio, no phones or electricity, or way to play music – we had grown accustomed to the peace of “quiet.”

My sabbatical year was over; I had to write my report of all we had done and learned.  What a year of excitement and adventure!  My report focused on my perception of what the students of the Pacific had to deal with in coming to Hawaii for school.  The vast expanse of the Pacific with differing lifestyles, the world view of students from isolated island groups, and cultural differences were things the students would need to learn about.

One of the students at MIBS ran from me when I complimented the shirt he was wearing, a common cultural habit in the USA.  Our host explained that when someone complimented any of your possessions, you were supposed to give it to them. The student knew I didn’t know the “rules” and didn’t want to give up his shirt, so he ran away.

We brought Josie, one of our students, to Honolulu for treatment for a back problem.  She said her friends back in Micronesia could not believe there were buildings 40 stories high, and “moving” stairs – an escalator.  She was delighted to overcome her fear of taking public transportation, a bus, around the island.

Guam was Americanized and modern; while many of the islands had a standard of living close to living off the land, and not much advancement since the 1940s WWII.  Fish was basic everywhere, and tropical fruit, coconut, and growing vegetables. The young men thought they could survive on a tropical island, but would be lost in a developed industrial city.

We were warned early on that Micronesians are ‘laid back” and operate on “Micronesian time.”   Whoever is in front of them, or the activity they are engaged in, is priority, so having an appointment, like class starting time, or a deadline, has to be emphasized.

Remembering our shock of coming from a silent environment, to a noisy one, has caused us to be more aware of the noise around us now.  I am conscious of the noise of the washing machine, and the TV volume level.  Research has confirmed that noise is stressful to the human nervous system.

Have you ever experienced silence long enough to make you aware of the noise in your environment?  If so, have you done anything to change that stress?

56. R&R on Saipan

56.  R & R on Saipan

After Truk, we splurged on a weeks’ vacation at an old beachfront hotel in Saipan, where we snorkeled and swam every day in the warm clear waters, and rested.  Saipan is the second largest island in the Mariana Islands archipelago, after Guam.  It is located about 120 miles north of Guam, and was held by the Japanese until captured by the US in July of 1944.

The first day we walked to a market nearby, and looked for fresh fruit.  After months on Tol, any citrus would taste good.  Oranges were very expensive.  There was a large basket of tangerines, on sale because they were soft, and nobody was buying them.  We bought one, took it outside and opened it — it was perfect inside, juicy and delicious!  Back we went and bought a whole bag of them to take back to the hotel.

The Women’s Mission Board had referred us to the Far East Broadcasting Company they were supporting.  The Far East Broadcasting was a new radio station that was eventually to broadcast the Christian message to China.  They were putting out popular secular music locally until they built up a listener base.

The manager took us sightseeing to see the remains of the war there, including a small Japanese command post with shell holes in the walls.  One relic was an American Sherman tank slowly rusting in 6 ft. of water a quarter mile from the beach.  It was obviously one vehicle that did not make it ashore during the invasion.

Next day, a young guy on a Hobie Cat gave us a ride out to the tank, and we snorkeled around it to see the fish that had gathered underneath.  With the tide with us, it was an easy swim back to the beach.

Another day, we walked to town to the municipal dock and got a ferry boat ride out to a tiny island called Managaha, offshore a couple of miles for a day of snorkeling.  The water was clear and shallow, and we could see the coral and fish up close.

When we got out of the water, the captain of the ferry was yelling through a bullhorn that the boat was leaving in 20 minutes.  Twenty minutes was plenty of time to walk around the side of the island.  When we returned, 15 minutes later, the boat was backing away about 50 feet from the dock!  We ran and yelled, and waved, but he just kept going and left us there.  OH NO!  Here we were stranded on this island, too far to swim to shore, the sun was sinking late afternoon, now what do we do?

Providentially, there was a small speedboat with a professional photography crew just loading their cameras, tripods, and model at the beachfront.  We asked if we could hitch a ride to shore.  The guy looked at their 4 seat boat, 4 people, equipment, and us, and then said they would squeeze us in.  They let us off just offshore of our hotel and we walked in.

I’m glad we didn’t have to spend the night on Managaha island!


55. Treasures to Remember from MIBS

55.  Treasures to Remember from MIBS

Even though we managed to teach the class, I felt I’d failed.  I poured out my heart to our host, Wayne, about my feelings of defeat and falling short.  He reminded me of Second Corinthians 12:6 in the Bible where God says to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast gladly of my weaknesses.”

Then he spoke words that I treasure and hope will be remembered, not just for our time at MIBS, but for all my life and beyond, “We can all stand taller because you have been here.”

Every morning at 9:30 the faculty took turns doing a chapel service, and preaching or sharing.  When it came my turn, I shared about myself to get acquainted and explain why I had not been talking.  That led me into talking about my handicaps and my failures.  A young woman in my class, Marilee, had become discouraged and withdrawn, and was thinking about quitting school.  After hearing my message, she talked for hours with Betty, decided to stay, and graduated the following year.

Paul from Pohnpei shared with me, “I am strong, and you are weak, but you have come all this way to teach us.  I need to re-think what I can do.”  After graduation, Paul became a missionary to Kapingamarangi, then moved to the United States and became a pastor at an international church in California, and worked for a mission organization.

We also learned the importance of observing cultural rules.  Betty went with the students to a neighboring island on the school sailboat for a swim and picnic.  Betty swam with the girls, all wearing long dresses.  Betty pinned a towel over her bathing suit to cover her legs.  With her mask and snorkel, she could point out an abandoned shell on the bottom, and the girls dove to get them.  We have them displayed on our shelves.

At our farewell party, the students presented us with a beautiful wall hanging made with shells and black coral stems.  Paul gave us a large spray of native black coral, also on our shelf.  Black coral grows below a depth of 200 feet, so how or where he got it, we don’t know.

In retrospect, we did have a positive impact in our time at MIBS, and some treasures to remember.  Time and memory dull the ordeal, so we remember the good things about our experience at MIBS, and that we learned more than we taught.

Time to go home?  Nope; The Women’s Mission Board in Honolulu had given us another contact to check in with, on Saipan.  Join us next week as we spend a week on Saipan.