Sunday, October 30, 2005

Quiet Sunday

Spending a quiet day today, waiting for new participants to arrive. We help them to their rooms with their luggage, then a quick tour of the facility. Most have already checked the place out via the website, so it is a refresher for the majority of them.

A while back, I was mentioning about two fellows here from Russia. This picture is of one of them, and he is originally from Camaroon in Africa. He has been in Moscow for eight years planting a new church. Imagine an African country, with their resources, planting churches in Russia. Makes our mission activities look kind of inadequate for some reason. Now I know I said he was a Eddie Murphy lookalike, but you have to admit, there are some similarities?? He is a real nice fellow and I befriended him when I got him an adapter for use with his computer.

We went to another new church today - that's five different churches in five weeks. There was an excellent Pastor but the music was not my type. Also there was applause after every song, announcement and even the message.

These other pictures are from our tour yesterday. The tree is called a "bugle" tree.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday Tour

It is nice to have a whole day off again, as we put in a long, but slow day last Sunday, and have been working hard all week. Today we drove up-country, as it is called,to a lovely lodge, for lunch, with 2 other couples. It had a beautiful view of the Pacific far below, where we could see water on either side of the isthmus, but it was not a very clear day. It was also a very refreshingly cooler day, but we were still fine without jackets or sweaters.

Then we went just a bit further to a Botanical Garden, and had a self-guided tour through it. It had such an amazing variety of flowers, trees, & plants, I'm sure there can't be too many others in the world that weren't there! Some were stunningly beautiful, such a display of God's creation! What must heaven be like?!! Can you see the chamelon?

Last night at dinner we had a delightful conversation with a few of the participants,who are so amazed that we oldtimers would give of our time and energy, to serve & care for them. They say that the example we all show them in this practical ministry, speaks volumes beyond what they are learning in classes. In Black society, whites don't clean up after Blacks, and in the Asian cultures, the old don't serve the young! What a wonderful example Jesus showed us! And here, they are seeing it put into practice! How wonderful that we all have different gifts to spread His Kingdom! I told them that my gift is not evangelizing, but that I can do the serving behind the scenes, to enable them to go out and evangelize! Praise God!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wednesday and the afternoon off

I went to Rotary today and caught a ride with the Manager from the local First Hawaiian Bank branch. She was previously 27 years with Bank of America in Orange County, California. She and her husband have been here ten years, they enjoy Maui, but she says salaries are 30% lower than the mainland and cost of living is 30% higher. We can verify the latter, fruit and vegatables in particular are very expensive. Gasoline is said to be 40 cents more here than the mainland. So it must be the weather that everyone comes for. She was also telling me that many of their friends live here, but their families are back on the mainland. So they call themselves orphans, and they do many things together to make up for the lack of family close by. One of these is Christmas on the beach, which they start to plan now. Imagine turkey with all the trimmings, set up at the beach??

The speaker at Rotary was the CEO of the local hospital. It was the same speech we hear in Stratford when the CEO from the local hospital speaks. We are very fortunate with the service we receive, they are shortfunded, and they are mounting a massive fundraising appeal in order to qualify for government funding. I understand this fellow makes US$190m per annum and is one of the highest paid people on the island - sound familiar?

Today is our half day off, and the pool is beckoning so I will sign off.

The attached pictures are from the balcony of our room. The view is certainly picturesque.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Working Sunday

Because we are on duty all day today, we went to a Catholic Church yesterday afternoon, for mass. They had a beautiful choir ,with amazing sound! This was just a 10 min. walk from here. We started our day at 6am, & shortly after 8am the fire alarm rang! Fortunately for us, the receptionist was on duty, and knew the procedures to follow, and lots of other volunteers were milling around,waiting for their rides to various churches. A few participants were late for breakfast, and were making their toast in the dining room, which the lobby overlooks, and they burnt the toast!!We who were up in the lobby could smell it, but they couldn't get the bread out of the toaster fast enough, so the smoke alarms went off! Then it started to rain, as folks were wanting to walk to church, and no-one knew where the umbrellas were kept! Soon found them. Part of the roof over the atrium can be opened, to allow for a good air flow, so the resident engineer on his way to church phoned us , asking us to close the roof. When Ralph got to the top floor [6th],the director told him not to bother, as it wasn't much rain, but soon thereafter it was raining harder, so he did close it eventually.
Once we got our regular chores done, it has remained fairly quiet since 3pm. It has been overcast all day, and very windy, hardly anyone using the pool today.
Yesterday a group of us went over to the next town, to an outdoor flea market,they call it a Swap Meet,prices are much better there than in the stores, produce, clothes, jewelery, art, etc. I can't believe the price of groceries here, everything but milk and cheese is pretty well double what we pay at home. Thankfully, we do get most of our meals provided. Ralph will put a few pictures onto this blog, of the Swap Meet, another of some very big cactus growing by the roadside. The flowers growing here are beautiful, too!
It will soon be 10pm, so I had better wrap it up for today, and check on a few last things befor we are done our shift. We pray that God is as good to you wherever you may be, as He is to us here. We are hearing some very interesting things from the men who have just come. God is good----All the time!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another Weekend, But..........

Friday night and a wonderful dinner by the pool to-night. It will be a short weekend, because Marlene and I are on duty all day Sunday from 6:00am until 10:00pm. This duty only happens twice during our three month stay, so it is not a terrible inconvenience.

Because caterers are used here, dinner which we share with the participants can be served almost anywhere, so to-night it was by the pool. We do the setup and takedown of tables, chairs, etc, but it is a very nice change. But dinner in the dining room is just like going out to dinner each evening, so it to is nice. The food is very good and the entertainment is the participants telling us about their country, backgrounds, vocations, families and so forth. This is always interesting for a variety of reasons. For example there are two fellows from Russia in the group, both I believe from Moscow. Now one fits my description of a Russian, ie a Boris Yelstin lookalike. But the other guy is an Eddie Murphy lookalike, so learning his family background will be interesting to learn, but I haven't got around to it yet. He is a very talkative fellow, so it won't be a problem.

To-night's dinner companions were three fellows from India and one from Sri Lanka. The story from India is very positive as their economy is just starting to explode. These people are happy to be at the Haggai Institute, but they remain wary of Americans. All three of our dinner companions were delayed at Honululu because of security concerns. There were five in their travelling party and all were thoroughly searched. Since they are told thorough security checks are completed at random, why all five in one party?? In any event they were laughing to-night, but I doubt they were laughing a few days ago. These are well educated people with successful careers who speak very good english, so it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about them and how they view us from the west.

The pictures attached are from our tour Wednesday, a pineapple field (they grow on a plant, but harvest is a time away), a mailbox configuration (this fellow likes his mail sorted) and notice the cactus in the background, and a group of volunteers (the couple on the left is Dick and Eileen Radstake from Moorefield, Ontario and this is their fourth time here).

You can enlarge a picture by clicking on it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An Island Tour

Today was a stop work at noon day and we were invited to go for a tour with five others to the upper country, as it is known. It took us five hours and we only travelled 55 miles, so needless to say, there were lots of stops and things to see. Sugar cane is still grown and processed here, but the industry is apparently dying off. We saw fields and fields of pineapples, but we needed a guide since we couldn't even determine at what stage the crop was at. We also visited a cattle ranch and winery, quite a combination. On the way home we stopped at a popular water surfing beach. It is still a growing pastime based on the numbers out in the ocean today.

The new class of participants here at Haggai has 57 men from 32 different countries. The instructors who will teach them come from 8 different countries, none of which are USA or Canada. Tonight at dinner we had representatives from Bangledesh, Pakistan, South Africa, Indonesia, Russia and India. You learn some very interesting things from these fellows, even though you can't generalize on one persons views. They certainly consider Canada as being wide open to imigration, but they also believe that it is tightening up??

Our volunteer work is becoming more routine as we adapt. A new volunteer arrival yesterday is from Elbow, Saskatchewan and he will be the men's volunteer supervisor until next April. He finished his harvest on the weekend and was on the plane Tuesday with his equipment all stored away for the winter. One floor of rooms is being renovated, so there is always something to work at if you look. I become more impressed each day with how this place functions so well with largely volunteer help. This Sunday Marlene and I will do weekend duty from 6:00am until 10:00pm. There are some duties assigned, but from what we are told, the main responsibility is to be available, cover the front desk after the day staff leave, etc. It will be a long day. On the other hand, we had a note from sister-in-law Judy to-day who mentioned that Ontario temperatures were down to 2 degrees, so that will make Sundays duties easier.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Another Week

Yesterday [Sunday] we went to a Hawiian church service, very interesting, and probably as Hawiian as anything we shall encounter here. All of the prayers, and some of the hymns were in the Hawiian language, and then in English. It is a 150 year old stone building, with 3 foot thick walls, newly refurbished, just a long & narrow building, interior all white, with absolutely nothing on the walls, and beautiful refinished hardwood floors. They had a Baptism [2] ,with the prayer part done during the service, and because it is located right on the beach, we went down to the beautiful blue Pacific for the immersion portion, what a gorgeous setting on a hot Sunday in Maui !
Ralph had several shifts of greeting new arrivals, helping with their baggage, and taking them to their rooms, so we didn't go very far for the remainder of the day.

Today Monday, Oct 17th, another perfect weather day on the Island. We ladies did more cleaning of lanias [balconies], the higher up we go, the more bird droppings on them!, made up some beds, and then 10 -12 of us scrubbed 75 of those white plastic garden chairs, and I mean scrub! After work, we went for a dip in the pool, not too hard to take.

Dinner was served in the dining room tonight, as most of the next group of participants are now here, so we only get our own breakfast, in our room, each morning.

We would love to hear from some of you who are able to read this blog, at least we hope you are able to access it, from time to time we have some computer problems.

May God keep you safe and well until next time!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Quiet Saturday

Marlene has gone out with a bunch of ladies shopping today, so I am on College football alert. Just watched Notre Dame lose to Southern Cal in the last 5 seconds in a real "barn burner. The wrong team won, but I did see were Michigan knocked Penn State off the undefeated list. Better go spend some time by the pool so that I am not too blurry eyed for to-morrow's NFL offering.

We said goodbye to Steph and Mike yesterday. They seemed to have had a good time, certainly got around the island and have given us some good ideas for day trips.

This weekend we will welcome 57 men participants to Haggai for their 25 days of training. Their arrival times are staggered over three days at all times because of many different travel schedules. The welcome process is a time to get to know the participants before they get engrossed in their classes.

Last night we had a barbecue by the pool and it was a very nice evening. With around 25 volunteers, an evening like this is a great opportunity to get to know other volunteers a little better.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday afternoon Off

We were fortunate to get the afternoon off today, as well as yesterday afternoon, because most of the cleaning is done, the beds are all made up, and awaiting the arrival of 60 men this weekend, for the next session. Because of a fine red dust that comes in around the windows and doors, there are at least 5 steps we go through, when one guest leaves, and before the next guest occupies that same room. We even clean the sink drain with a skinny, bristle brush, and use a toothbrush around the faucet, and a big pumice stone to remove water marks in the toilets. Out of a 5 star rating system, this place gets a 9 at least, for cleanliness.

Today we went out for a drive with 2 other couples, up the west coast, for about an hours drive,very rugged mountains on one side of the road, and the blue Pacific on the other side. We wound up at a place called Whaler's Village, some nice shops and restaurants there. It was a nice change of pace. Got back to Haggai about an hour ago, and the ladies are going to watch a movie tonight. They say if the work doesn't kill us, the social life will!

We have met some lovely couples, and some lovely widowed ladies as well.
We ladies meet as a group at 7.30 each am, get our work assignments, and have someone do devotions, and prayers.

The spiritual aspect of everything that is done here is so wonderful to be a part of!

Hope everyone reading this is keeping well and safe, and in His loving care,
Blessings upon you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wednesday - October 12

Steph and mike have a car and were kind enough to lend it to me to get to Rotary to-day. I still didn't meet any Rotarian who was born here.

After Rotary we went over to their condo for a visit and then gave them a tour of the Haggai Institute. We then had dinner at a small Thai restaurant.

We said goodbye to two volunteer couples last week and will say goodbye to another two this week. So our seniority should be rising. They sure do a first class job of thanking their volunteers. The men will get a new supervisor next week. He is a farmer from Elbow Saskatchewan and he will replace a fellow from Victoria, BC. So we won't lose our Canadian content.

Well I think this update should show a picture of Steph and Mike. No excuses to not have more, eh!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Belated Happy Thanksgiving - no we didn't get the day off, but we did do a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. Each of the volunteer ladies did a dish, we ate out on a lanai (deck) and it was a wonderful time of fellowship. We have about seven couples here from Canada when you count staff, etc so there is a heavy Canadian influence.

Our oldest daughter Steph and her husband Mike arrived Sunday evening and we had dinner together. They had a long travel day so we didn't keep them up late, but we are spending to-morrow afternoon together.

We arranged to have our mail forwarded (only the Canadian Post Office would charge less for forwarding than to hold) and we received Mondays mail on Friday. Not bad, eh!

This week there are no sessions (classes), which means no participants on the premises. Therefore it is a time to shampoo floors and do special projects. I have been working on renovations - stripping wallpaper, painting, repairs, etc. It is a break from the mops, and vacums.

I am trying to keep up on sporting news, but it is a struggle. There is a six hour time difference and sometimes games are live and sometimes there s a delay. So it is confusing. I still hopeto go to Honolulu for a NCAA football game.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

First Weekend

We experienced our first Saturday on the island to-day. Pretty exciting - we went to Costco and Safeway for groceries and supplies.

The Institute has three vehicles for volunteer use, however there are about 22 of us to share. So you sign up when the vehicle is available, then post for others to join you, and away you go. Our trip was 23 miles round trip, with only two stops and we were gone two and one half hours. Marlene is a careful shopper but I couldn't believe how long it took.

There are no sessions/classes next week, so we are on our own for all meals, thus the need for shopping. Monday will be a group "pot luck" dinner to commemorate Canadian Thanksgiving. Steph and Mike will arrive to-morrow for a few days,and we will go out with them some but otherwise it is fend for yourself. Overall, the meals we have received here have been excellent, so not a good time for dieting.

All but a couple of the last class of participants have now gone home. The sixty ladies represented 28 countries and the volunteer men were responsible for getting the baggage from outside their doors to the bus, taxi, etc at the front door. The amount of luggage some of these people were taking home was unbelievable. Last night we had thirteen in one group and a bus which holds 25 people plus luggage couldn't handle their bags, we had to send a pickup truck along behind. It was quite a sight, and the African countries seemed to be the biggest collectors. These ladies are all professionals from various areas of business, so they are supposed to know what they are doing.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday's Report

What an incredible week this has been!It just doesn't get any better than this. When we arrived last Saturday night, one class of 60 women had just departed, and the other class of 60 women are leaving today & tomorrow. So this week is the highlight of the 25 day course.

Yesterday,the VP of faculty, a former world renowned cardiologist, conducted a communion service for the participants of the course, and we were priviledged to sit in and partake as well. It was a messianic communion, and he explained the 4 cups that Christ, and all other Jewish families would have used at Passover Meal. A loaf of bread was broken in half, and passed out to each of us, to take a small piece, and then we went to the front for the cup. And before and after, was music , as we sang the praise choruses. It was a very moving experience.

Last night was commencement, which was another highlight! It was a very dressy affair, with a formal dinner to start. All the ladies, and their faculty, were in their national dress, so it was very colourful! Imagine how dull the next three sessions of 60 men each, will be!
The Valedictorian, from Malasia, gave an exceptional speech, in English, her second language. And then the certificates were presented,and many pictures were taken, the ladies were so excited , [ages would be from the 30s to the 50s]

The Haggai standard seems to be excellence, and nothing less. I've never seen so much deep cleaning [think a VERY through Spring cleaning] and laundry in all my life! After anyone leaves, their room is "deep cleaned", and after a session is over, all the classrooms, auditorium, hallways, everywhere, is washed down, & the wood surfaces are polished with Pledge, [lots of oak wainscotting, baseboards, heavy doors] ,and all glass surfaces also cleaned, and the classroom chairs, [leather] too.
Does anyone out there know how to remove ballpoint pen marks, or black marker,from leather? Please let me know if you do!
That's about it for now, dear friends, we hope and pray that all is well with you.
Blessings to each of you.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Maui Musings

The Haggai Institute, Mid Pacific Centre is the former Maui Sun Hotel property. In addition to it's 200+ lodging rooms it has several meeting and conference rooms and dining areas. The grounds are also extensive and include a large pool, whirlpool and fish ponds. It also includes a soccer field and volleyball court in a very lush overgrown lawn area.

One of the projects this week has been to dethatch the lawn and rake, rake, rake. It is generally 86/87 degrees, so a very warm job. Six of us have been working on this each morning for the past three days.

I did get away to Rotary yesterday and the big revelation was that, in a club of 50 with about 40 in attendance, no one was actually born here. At least if they were, I didn't find them. Everyone seems to be a transplant from somewhere. I did meet a Rotarian who worked in Woodstock, Ontario from 1985 to 1995, for Thomas Corp, (who used to build school buses there). He was originally from Japan and bought a Quiznos franchise so that as an investor he could live here. I'm looking forward to going back next week, as I think I will meet some very interesting members.

We went to a communion today and the convocation of the class which is just winding up. I will let Marlene tell you about these to-morrow, but both were very moving and emotional.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Day Two

What an incredible evening we have just had. The day was pretty good,too! We do put in a very good day's work, never knew I could work so hard for someone else and be so excited to do so! We have been doing very thorough cleaning and making up of participant's rooms, and folding more laundry than I ever thought existed! Much like B&B, but a much bigger scale.

Tonight we had a poolside dinner,followed by a praise $ worship service indoors, by the class participants <60 ladies, nearly all dressed in their national dress, so colourful. As each of us volunteers, 30 men & women, came out to the huge kidney shaped pool, we were escorted to our seats lined up along the poolside, by a few of this session's participants. Facing us were the appropiate # of the class, and after some speeches, they proceeded to very tenderly wash our feet! as the other participants sang "Make me a Servant". There weren't very many dry eyes out there, as they each came to hug us, and thank us for serving them. I will never forget this gesture!

Tomorrow should be our day with the afternoon off, maybe we will enjoy the pool. It has been very warm and humid. Our beautiful room overlooks the pool, and tall palm trees, with some mountains not far off. We have air conditioning in our room, but most of where we work is not. But what a priviledge to be able to be here, serving God!

Monday, October 03, 2005

First Day of Volunteering

Our first day of what we came for. The work day starts at 7:30am with devotion and work assignments. These range from construction/refurbishing of rooms, to pool and pond maintenance, to general lobby, hall, entrance cleaning. The ladies clean rooms to various levels. The assignments handed out are for the whole day. We all stop at 9:30 for coffee and fellowship and 12:00 noon for lunch. The work day ends at 3:30.

There were two of us new couples who arrived on the weekend and there are four couples leaving this week, so there is a changeover taking place. Also, there is a convocation this Thursday evening which signals the completion of a course and there will be an open week with no classes which allows for a complete cleanup of rooms.

Our orientation has included learning more about how the Haggai Institute is funded and it is very impressive. This ministry has been operating for since 1969 and it has picked up some major donors over the years. More about that later.

After our first work day, we will sleep well tonight.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Arrival in Maui

We arrived, but we had a few bumps along the way! First we missed our connecting flight in San Francisco because of long line-ups for check in and security, then there was no baggage awaiting us when we arrived here. We did get on standby on the next Maui flight and the baggage turned up to-day, mid afternoon. Otherwise the flights were smooth and we were met at the airport with Leis and hugs by the couple who supervise the volunteers here at Haggai.

The facility is much more modern than we had imagined from the website. In fact rebushing is an ongoing project of the maintenance crew. As well the classrooms, equipment, etc are very leading edge from a training standpoint.

The volunteers we have met are very friendly from USA, Canada, Australia and Ireland. The volunteers socialize together a great deal and there appears to be great comradarie. We get our work assignments to-morrow.

Participants are from most countries, in fact there are 176 flags on display representing the countries of graduates. The faculty are from many different countries as well.