68. Choice or Not?

68.  Choice or Not?

It was 1989 when a guest speaker from our Amway organization made a statement that was the catalyst that brought about a major change in our lives.

Every month Amway held a meeting in Hawaii for distributors, and brought in a guest speaker.  We usually came away from the meetings uplifted and encouraged, but this time the reaction was different – especially for Betty.  I’ll let her tell the story.

Betty here:

When we got home from the meeting, we discussed what Dave, the Amway Diamond said:

“You are where you are in life by choice. If you don’t like where you are – you have the power to change.”

My reaction was one of anger at the first part – how can he say that – as I began listing the frustrating situations we were in!  They certainly were NOT by our choice!

1.  Bob’s health was going downhill – he was now on 1/4 time teaching, and contemplating giving up teaching all together.
2.  Our Amway business was not bringing in the income to support us if Bob had to resign.
3.  We were counting our pennies at the checkout at the grocery store, and sometimes needed to return an item to pay for the groceries.

I collapsed on the floor, tears of frustration flowing down my cheeks, and cried out loud to God and Bob.  “I don’t care what it takes – if we have to, (1) sell our home, (2) leave Hawaii, (3) give up on Amway.  If it will get us out of this mess, I’m ready!”

Little did I realize the power of those word!  Three months later all three of the things I said were happening!

Stay tuned to our next few blog posts to see how choosing change pushed us into another major move that was “not by choice”.

P.S.
As I think about that time – I realize the full meaning of what Dave said.  In order for God to move in our lives – we sometimes need to let go of what we think is important, and let God work his perfect plan.  We needed to trust God that he had better things for us.

“You are where you are in life by choice. If you don’t like where you are – you have the power to change.”

Today I realize we make hundreds of choices each day that over the days and years, add up to where we are today.  We choose how we start each day, what to eat, how we spend our time and money, who we associate with, how we respond to challenges, and so on.

67. Windward Community College

67.  Windward Community College

When I was almost through with my Master’s degree at the University of Hawaii, I saw an ad for a marketing manager at Seal Life Park.  I had taken Travel Industry Management, TIM, as a possible application for my emphasis in intercultural communication.  I thought Sea Life Park would be a fun place to work, so I made an appointment with the Personnel Manager for an interview.

The manager looked at my resume, and said, “You don’t want to work here, with three degrees and eight years experience teaching at the college level, you should be teaching.”

Shortly thereafter, I saw an article in the newspaper that the University was opening a new branch campus on the grounds of the Hawaii State Hospital.  Interviews for faculty would begin at the end of June.  Betty and I were planning to head home to Michigan as soon as graduation was over at the beginning of June.  I called the provost of the new Windward Community College, and he and the dean agreed to meet with me ahead of the schedule.  I was hired on the spot!  The interview ended with them asking me for advice in choosing another applicant for the Speech Department.

Some of the buildings that had housed mental patients were being renovated to be classrooms and offices of the new Windward Community College.  Classes would begin at the beginning of September on a trimester schedule with 75 minute classes.  We had to be back in August to help with registration and orientation.  With divine guidance,      I had a job!  What a relief!

The Windward Community College is a beautiful campus — with broad lawns and huge banyan trees.  It was located at the foot of a high sharp mountain range, the Koolaus, that formed a huge green cyclorama that had waterfalls cascading down the sides when it rained.  The administration challenged us to be innovative and set a free wheeling, no pressure atmosphere, so it was a fun situation.

Renovation was a little behind schedule, so my first office was a small room with a small window in the door, and bars on the small window high in the wall.  I was in the maximum security building just down the hall from a section of double-gated cells that had been used for the violent and criminally insane.  Fortunately, I was moved to another building when classes began.

The fun began.  Classes were limited to 25 students, just perfect.  There were a lot of adult students, such as housewives, police officers, and Marine Corp wives from the air station who were taking classes while their husbands were deployed.  Average age in the classes was 25.  These students wanted to learn, so it was a rewarding situation.  Most of the younger students would transfer to the main campus to finish a bachelor’s degree.

One day, in the middle of a class, a young woman ran in the back door of the classroom, sat down, and lit a cigarette.  Then two men appeared, one grabbed her arm, and pulled her from the room.  She yelled, “I’m taking this class, you can’t take me.”  I turned to the students, and remarked, “now what do we do?”

When I reported to the Provost, he called the Hospital and confirmed that the young lady was a patient who had gone for a walk.  Not a problem, but we were reminded that we were on the grounds of a hospital for the mentally disturbed.

I taught 17 wonderful years at Windward Community College.

 

66. Sea Life Park – Dolphins Ahoy

66.  Sea Life Park – Dolphins Ahoy

A rough storm put one of the two power plants on Oahu out of commission, and the island power company put us on a 4 hour rolling blackout.  We had 4 hours of electricity, and then none for 4 hours.

Coincidently, Betty’s brother Jim and wife Nancy, and their friends Jim and Gloria, came to visit.  With reasonable planning, we still tried to show them some genuine Hawaiian experiences.  One day, we went to spend the day at Sea Life Park. In the afternoon, we went to the inside pool for a show by the trained dolphins.

The trainer announced that the electricity to the pool area, including the underwater speakers, was unavailable.  In order to keep the dolphins on schedule, they were going to try to do the show anyway.  There was no guarantee that the dolphins would perform with hand signals only.

No problem!  The trainer clapped her hands, then began the hand signals.  The dolphins never missed a beat.  They did their spins in the air, and “walked” on the water, right on cue.  At the end of the show, the trainer told us she was surprised, and we had learned a new thing. The dolphins could see her hand motions and do their act without any sound.

Time for supper!  Sea Life Park did an authentic Hawaiian luau.  We sat at tables in a big tent.  (It rains in Hawaii)  The menu was perfect.  First Kalua pig, (We got to see them unwrap the pig from roasting in a pit) then, raw diced ahi tuna, laulau, (pieces of pork and salted fish wrapped in taro leaves – steamed), poi, (pulverized taro) and baked sweet potato.  Dessert was Haupia, a cornstarch solidified coconut milk pudding.

After the luau, friend Jim said, “Where can we go to get something to eat?”

65. My Heroine!

65.  My Heroine!

When our Amway business flourished, Betty had to overcome her fear of driving, and drove all the way across town to the warehouse near Pearl Harbor to pick up products for our downline and customers.

Whenever Amway came out with a new product, we’d read in the Amway bulletin about some creative distributor who made a “home run” sale of the product in significant quantity.  So we were on alert when Amway added coffee and coffee makers to the product line.  Who uses a lot of coffee makers and coffee? — Hotels!!

At that time, Hilton Hotel Corporation headquarters was in Beverley Hills California.  I called, and actually got through to the head hotel supplies buyers office, and made an appointment to see the buyer.  AMAZING!  My brave Betty flew by herself the 5 hours + to the Los Angeles airport, and took a cab to the Hilton headquarters.

She told me she was “scared to death,” but the buyer knew immediately she was not a professional salesperson, and helped her through her presentation.  Betty returned beaming with self-confidence.  However, Hilton went with Mr. Coffee, so no sales made.

I think Betty’s new confidence helped, because when Amway announced they were going into the commercial laundry business, and had hired a commercial laundry expert to help with the start-up, we were on it!  One of the largest commercial laundries imaginable was run by the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor.

I got an appointment for Betty to meet with the chief procurement officer for the laundry, and called Amway headquarters in Ada Michigan and asked for help.  They helped by flying the new commercial laundry expert to Honolulu to go with Betty to meet the Navy procurement officer at the laundry! Our sponsor, Dr. Block, went with them.

The expert from Amway did his best, but the bottom line was that the Amway laundry system was a two step, two product procedure, and the laundry manager said his employees could handle only one product with certainty.  Again, no sale, but there was a write-up in the Amway bulletin about our appointment.  Betty made us famous in Amway.

I was bursting with pride.  Betty was my heroine!

Personal growth and the building of confidence by stepping out of our comfort zone, was a big plus in Amway; especially for Betty!

Good News! A Milestone Marker

Good News! A Milestone Marker

Monday – March 20th, will be a date I will remember!  A milestone marking the progress in my recovery from a heart attack!

July 8, 2016, — 8 months and 12 days ago, I was admitted to the hospital for irregular heart beat, and had a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and blocked coronary arteries — and fluid collecting in my lungs and chest cavity.

Three ladies at the hospital summarized my options.  I could transfer to a “rehab” hospital for long term care and therapy, or, I could go home with Hospice and die.  That was exactly what they said.

After talking with the Gulfside Hospice doctor, who explained that Hospice here was two organizations – one for terminal patients, and one for sustaining care.  We chose to go home under Hospice care.  The Hospice doctor played a big part in convincing the hospital doctors to release me to go home.

One of the ladies asked me, “Why do you want to go home?”  My reply was “to work on my children’s books and to finish Danny the Dragon.”  That satisfied her; she had previously bought my book, “Tommie Turtle’s Secret.”

God answers prayers!  A big thank you to the many people who were praying for me.

We went to our cardiologist several weeks ago.  EKG was excellent, heart strong and regular, and he cut my one medication to one half.  At the end of the visit, he said, “You know Bob, you are my miracle patient for 2016, we thought you weren’t going to make it.”

My recovery has been remarkable!  I also give credit to the almost daily visits of the nurses and aids from Hospice, and to Joe, Ron and Josh  – angels from The Crossroads Church, who came to help me learn to walk again with the waker, and perhaps the most, to Betty, who served nutritious meals, and kept me consuming our eXfuze superfoods.

When I first arrived home, I was still under the mandate of “nothing by mouth,” which meant all food had to be applesauce consistency, and no solids or liquids.  I had failed the “swallow test” at the hospital.  Betty gave me baby food, pureed veggies, and smashed ice and frozen eXfuze beverage to suck on.

Today, Monday March 20th, I will be officially discharged from Hospice home care!  At my recent 6 month evaluation by the Hospice team, it was concluded that I was continuing to progress toward recovery, and no longer met Medicare requirements for Hospice care.

I still have a way to go, so please keep praying.  I am proof that God answers prayer – I am still alive and progressing!  To God be the glory!

64. Fat Out Fun In!

64.  Fat Out Fun In!

One benefit we enjoyed in Amway back in the 1980’s was attending the Better Life Institute for a week’s “training” at the Grand Plaza Hotel, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Amway had come out with a weight loss program using low fat, low cholesterol, food substitutes and cooking lessons.  The program was delivered by trained advisors to teach prospects the dietary plan and how to use the new food products.  Small groups met weekly for a potluck using low fat dishes and the food substitutes.

We were already eating a vegetarian diet, so thought we’d try this business niche.  To be certified as advisors for the program we had to go to the Better Life Institute for a week’s “training” in Michigan. February was the only possibility! It’s cold in Michigan in February!  When we made the reservation, the gal said, “Are you sure you want to come now?…it’s 40 and snowing.”

We went!  It was cold and snowing most of the week we were there.  I never left the hotel during our week of intensive training.  Seven AM until 9:00 PM…exercise, eat, talk session, exercise, eat, talk session… swim, eat. I have never eaten so much great tasting, low calorie food in my life!  Since Betty and I were the only ones trying to gain weight, we were allowed to raid the refrigerator.  It was fun to swim in the heated pool, watch the snow swirling by, and see icicles under the eves.

Surprise!….this wasn’t for teaching the weight loss classes…it was for a holistic “Heart Healthy Lifestyle” class, ..low cholesterol cooking, exercise, dining out, label reading…etc…even more fun!

Betty and I (Mostly Betty) were the first in Hawaii to teach the Better Life Institute Heart Healthy Lifestyles class.  We hired a caterer, Marian Turgeon of “Feasting Fare,” rented a hall, and held 3 monthly dinner seminars featuring Marian’s rendition of the BLI foods…low calorie, low cholesterol, no sugar, and delicious!  Betty and I did the teaching part…lots of fun! Averaged 30 to 40 people each time.  We taught 2 sessions of the classes at home, which were very rewarding and fun. It gave me a chance to tell some jokes.  The classes included potlucks with the BLI menus, so I made delicious low calorie desserts.

63. “Are We Still Invited for Dinner?”

63.  “Are We Still Invited for Dinner?”

After years of going to our doctor near our home, we became friends as well as being patients.  Dr. Block could see I was slipping downhill with post-encephalitis syndrome.  “Bob, you are not going to be able to keep teaching down the road.  You should find a source of income that you and Betty can do together, and she can gradually become the breadwinner.”

We had asked him and his wife for dinner before, but he had declined.  Then Dr. Block called and asked if the dinner invitation was still open, he would like to come and show us a business opportunity.  We had been pitched twice by friends at church with the “business opportunity,” approach for Amway, so Betty responded with, “If it’s Amway, we’re not interested.”

Dr. Block replied, “Can we still come for dinner?”  Sure.  After dinner, I asked what was the business opportunity he wanted to show us.  It turned out to be Amway, and we joined.  We joined, not because of the opportunity of Amway, but because we knew Dr. Block was a successful businessman and a high achiever, and we trusted him.

Being an Amway distributor was not easy because the “indirect approach” for recruiting had been established, for which Amway had a bad reputation.  There were, however, unexpected serendipities.  First, was the personal growth program.  The Amway program was to “build” successful people, not just a successful business.

We were encouraged to read personal improvement books and tapes, and attend meetings to learn how to build better relationships with people.  Who could forget the three C’s: Do not Criticize, Complain, or Condemn!  The leaders spoke of maintaining a positive attitude and positive expectations, and not speaking negative.

We went to the mainland US for major events put on by our upline Diamonds.  Betty and I had great times on the trips, being with positive uplifting people who shared a common goal.

It took a while, but I learned one secret of Network Marketing.  The business is not to sell products, but to buy products for your own use, and share the idea with others.  We did reach the first rank of note —DIRECT DISTRIBUTORS in two years.

New DIRECTS were given a free trip to Amway headquarters at Ada Michigan, only 20 miles from my home near Ionia, so we got to see my folks as well as tour the Amway plant.

Our upline Diamonds were also giving a perk to their DIRECT distributors.

We flew to Seattle, then took a ferry to the Rosario, an old luxury resort on Orcas Island.  The resort was an old mansion that had been converted with a motel-like complex of cabins.  The “luxury” was the food and the ambiance of being on the water, and watching seals surface to peek at the visitors.  The weekend highpoint was an incredible buffet with a huge whole salmon, head and all, cooked, chilled, and mounted in the center — we hated to pick the meat off the magnificent display.  I ate 4 pieces of cheesecake!

We have Doctor Block to thank for opening the door for us to learn about Network Marketing.  We’ve been doing Network Marketing for 34 years, and have enjoyed ongoing experiences such as cruises and traveling to places we would never have thought possible.  We cherish the friendships we’ve made with up-lifting positive people!

62. Milolii Place

62.  Milolii Place.

One weekend, after a swim at Hanauma Bay, we decided to turn into the Hawaii Kai Marina subdivision and see what kind of housing was on the canals.  We called it a “Dream Detour.”  At the end of the first street, Milolii Place, there was a hand-painted sign stuck in the yard — “FOR SALE.”  This was dreaming, so we went to the door to take a look.

It was a ground-floor one bedroom condo with a large enclosed lanai right on the canal, with a dock.  There was covered parking at the end of the duplex building.  Our dream of moving to Hawaii Kai was for years away, but this was a fluke, with a low price, so we bought it.  (That’s the short story!   There was need for much renovation, part of the reason for the low price.  Betty became an expert at repairing drywall and laying tile.  We hired a weekend contractor to fix the tough stuff.

At the beginning of the summer we bought an old 12 ft. boat with an outboard motor.  A few times we buzzed out of our canal, under the bridge to the reef about 1/4 of a mile beyond.  It’s too shallow at low tide, so we had to time it right…and then we anchored in clear blue water inside the reef and snorkeled in about 3 to 5 feet of water.  Our “spot” was beyond a bird sanctuary, so there was a nice sandy beach, and no homes along the shore.  We could see the rain clouds gather on the mountain tops, and an occasional rainbow.  A beautiful place for an outing.

We traded the dingy for a small outrigger canoe.  That was fun, and good exercise to paddle around the marina canals.  I actually built a ramp out of boat trailer parts so I could crank a winch to pull the canoe up out of the water onto rollers.  I had hoped to get a sail, but that did not materialize.

It was a fun diversion to watch the Mallard ducks who lived in the marina.  On rainy days, they came up in the back yard to take a bath under the streams of water cascading off the roof.  One day I stepped out the screen door as Mama duck passed by.  Her trail of tiny yellow ducklings, trying to keep up, walked over my feet.  I stood very still, but a few of them did trip over.

There was one male duck we nicknamed “Hop-a-long” because he limped with a crooked leg.  We felt sorry for him because the other ducks chased him away from food we put out.  So Betty chased the other ducks so “Hop-a-long” could eat.  One day Betty was in the kitchen when she felt she was being watched.  She turned, and there was “Hop-a-long” watching her from the edge of the kitchen tile.  He had followed her into the house hoping for a handout.  He did get extra food, as Betty coaxed him to “follow the food” out the door.

After a hot and unusual windless day, Betty and I went out in the back yard to enjoy the quiet cool of the evening and watch the stars twinkle a few times.  There was enough of a glow of light from the neighbor’s house to see the tiny ripples on the canal when a bug bounced into the water.  Now and then the crazy laughter of the “wild” Mallard ducks broke the silence as they were disturbed.  Well…..not complete silence….there’s the soft trickle of “people” sounds in our suburb, a distant TV, music, high laughter, and tiny unidentifiable noises of civilization.  We counted ourselves so blessed to have this beautiful place, and the beautiful night reminded us of God’s goodness again.

 

61. Randy Produces a Musical

61.  RANDY PRODUCES A MUSICAL

The Cross and the Switchblade is the true story of Pastor David Wilkerson, who worked in the gang-ruled streets of New York.  He published the story in 1962.  It was subsequently made into a movie and Broadway musical.  The story is the dramatic conversion to Christ of Nicky Cruz, a gang leader.

Randy got the idea for Christian Vision to produce the musical.  He invited young people from other churches to join in, and got days at the McKinley High School auditorium for rehearsals and performances.  Betty was designated to do publicity and promotion.  She asked, “How many seats?”  Randy told her there were 1114 seats, and he was planning three performances on two weekends.  Awe!  Which means “ouch” in Hawaii.

Betty contacted nearly every church in town to get notices in their newsletters and bulletins.  Flyers were made and put in store windows.  Everybody in the show was asked to invite friends and neighbors.  The auditorium was packed all six performances!

Opening night, two seats in the front row were reserved for the Governor of Hawaii and his wife.   They arrived as the lights went down and the curtain went up.

The sets looked professional, and the songs were perfect.  In the final confrontation when Nicky Cruz was threatening to stab Wilkerson, you could hear a pin drop, and everyone was holding their breath.  When Nicky dropped the knife, there was an audible sigh from the audience.

Overheard, “If I had known this was going to be as good as an Off Broadway show, I would have invited more of my friends.”  So, we decided to do it again another three performances.

There were elders waiting in the aisles to pray with people who wanted to accept Christ, and the young Hawaiian guy who played Nicky Cruz went on to be a pastor, and was actually pastor at our church Kalihi Union Church.

 

60. The Singing Christmas Tree

60.  The Singing Christmas Tree

It was 1984, and one of the exciting things of the year, was the growth of Christian Vision.  Randy resigned from the church staff to go full time with Christian Vision…a step of faith I can hardly believe…and suddenly we were employers, and Betty was up to her eyeballs in paperwork, and on the phone scheduling Randy and Gay’s singing engagements, handling bookstore orders for recordings, etc.  and everything else that we had no idea was involved.

Randy and Gay were featured at “The Singing Christmas Tree” put on by the First Assembly of God Church in the Blaisdell Arena….Honolulu’s sports arena that seats 8000.  What an extravaganza!  The ‘singing tree” itself must have been 40 feet tall, with scaffolding holding 120 choir members tiered up in a green tree shape with white “snow” and red poinsettias at the base and sides.  They were backed by an 80 piece orchestra made up of the Honolulu Symphony and First Assembly musicians.

Randy and Gay were treated like royalty….a special introduction and the last kudos at the end.  Gay sang a song Randy wrote for Her, “Rejoice,” to show off her voice.  Betty gulped at the bill for orchestrating “Rejoice” for the 80 piece orchestra!  What a program!  There was a pageant of Hawaiian history, and then, the Christmas story set to music.  Powerful voices, with the powerful story of Christ’s birth… what a night to remember!

For us, the grand climax came after the program when Randy shared this incident:  A man who was in the choir came up to Randy and said, “I never dreamed I would have the honor of meeting you in person.  Someone sent me your tape “Lord of the Islands” when I was in prison in California.  You’ll never know much your music helped me during that time.  ” Wow!   That’s what makes our work worthwhile!  Praise God for the way He works through music!