Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Final Post

We did go to see the lights at the "Ritz" last night, unfortunately viewing Christmas lights and trying to share by photo are two different things. I am attaching three just to try and share. The Ritz Carleton is a huge complex and they put up thousands of lights. It was quite a sight and we had eleven couples in our group so I'm sure the hotel staff were glad to see us crawling back in our vans to leave.

We all went out to dinner before, and the couple in the picture are Lyle and Gaylene Knutson, from Elbow, Saskachtewan. Lyle is the volunteer supervisor of the men. This is their 4th time here I believe and they are a wonderful couple.

Since this is my last post, I thought I would comment on what we expected here before, and what we found. My original post was Sept 16 on what we were doing.

The most important thing I have learned here, is that Haggai has a solid vision that they are following with a passion. This program was started in 1969 and to date they have trained over 56,000 individuals, at two locations (Singapore and Maui) with leadership skills which will help them to evangelize in their own countries. The current waiting list is between 7-8,000 men and women. These are people who have been recommended by past participants, faculty, etc and who have been screened by area representatives around the world. Some of the sessions the participants attend besides evangelism are communications, family, integrity, and motivation. The teachers or faculty come from non North American countries, since they are concerned the participants are not being Americanized. The cost per participant is US$9,600 of which the participant must pay $500. While it is not a large percentage, to some countries such as African nations, it is huge. Besides travel costs for participants and faculty, the expense includes the operation of this facility and the one in Singapore which is not owned (Singapore does not have a volunteer program either). The administrative operating expenses which includes the Head Office in Atlanta are covered by donations from the Board of Directors. Some sessions which includes up to 60 participants are sponsored by a single donor (US$546,000). So you can see they have some supporters who also believe very strongly in the program.

Our almost three months has been a wonderful opportunity. The only item on my to do list that I didn't get done was to attend an NCAA football game over at Honolulu. I couldn't find anyone to go with and there just doesn't seem to be much interest.

That's about it, since we leave for the airport in one hour!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Whale Watching

We spent this morning on a motorized raft, chasing whales! Well not really chasing, more like trying to coerce them to come to us. We had several sightings, but spent most of our time with a mother and her newborn. Our guide seemed very knowledgable, and explained that if we kept close to the young one, the mother would not be further than 10/12 feet below water. An adult needs only surface every 45 minutes for breathing purposes. So we had lots of baby sightings and a few of the mother, but getting pictures is another matter. In any event it was a georgeous morning weatherwise and we were glad we took time to go. Thanks for the prod Steph!

Marlene received her Lene Green Cleening Machine award yesterday during our final day of work. We have a total of 796 hours of sweat labour and Marlene is very confused how I ended up with 3 hours more than her??

Tonight we are off to view Christmas lghts at the Ritz Carleton hotel. If time tomorrow I will post a few pictures.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sugar Factory

Well we finally did something yesterday I have wanted to do since we arrived. There is only one sugar factory left on the island, and across the road from it is a sugar museum. It is small, but it gives the history of sugar production on the island since inception.

Here at Haggai, we curse (figure of speech) the sugar cane growers because when they burn the cane in the fields, which they do just before harvest, some of the ash, which we call "Maui snow", floats all the way over here, about 10 miles away. It is very frustrating for the ladies to vacum a lanai (balconey) only to return 10 minutes later and see a bunch of black ash. And imagine the poor guy who does the pool.

In any event, sugar cane production dates back to the 1800's and anyone who thinks they work in poor conditions today should see the situation in those days. The museum also shows a 10 minute video of production today at the factory which is very mechanized. Most of the refining/packaging/etc however is done on the mainland.

We went "upcountry" this morning to a church we had visited once before. It is about 1500' above sea level and the change in temperature was quite noticeable. The pastor there is a communications specialist in his daytime job, and he is doing an Advent series, on "Rediscover Christmas". Today's topic was "How Santa Clawed His Way Into Christmas", and besides being quite well done, he put some humour in it!

Tomorrow is our last day of work, Tuesday we are going whale watching (are you happy now Steph?), and we leave for home just before midnight on Wednesday. So probably one more entry on the blog.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Makena Beach

Another half day off (our last), so we spent the afternoon at the beach. It seemed particularly nice after reading the forecasted high & low Toronto temperatures in USA Today. We went with some other volunteers and the social time is always enjoyable.

The top picture shows Mount Haleakala from a distance. It really doesn't look over 10,000 ft high from this vantage point.

For anyone interested, I have not had any dead fish under my watch, at least not yet. I did go on the internet to check Koi prices. It seems the bigger ones, (12-14 inches) are around US$50 each from a breeder, but they don't sell well on eBay. Smaller Koi are much more reasonable.

We went on a tour of the larger hotel lobbies last night to view Christmas decorations. We visited three, the Marriott, Grand Wailea and the Fairmont. My pictures didn't turn out so you will have to accept my word that they don't spare any expense. I did ask at the front desk of the Marriott their "rack rate" and she reponded US$355. After Rotary today which meets at a Japanese owned resort, the Diamond, their rate is US$370 and they are about two blocks from the beach?? So I guess I should not concern myself how they afford Christmas decorations.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Trip to Kapalua

We rented a car again yesterday and took a drive around the west end of the island. It is not a long drive, but there is a 20 mile stretch where the road is scarecly the width of a car and hugs the cliffs with no guardrail protection from the water below. Needless to say it was a "white knuckle" ride for my passenger! She claimed we went the wrong way, since had we went the other (clockwise), we would have at least been away from the cliff, whenever there was two lanes. There were many stops, backing up to let oncoming cars pass, and the like. But it was a georgous day after 10:00am weatherwise, and nice to see the scenery. A compact car was a definite advantage (Ford Focus, Car).

I had thought the area south of us, Wialea was the Gold coast of Maui, but hotel rooms at Kapalua START at US$300!

Another area we visited was the Iao Valley State Park and the Iao needle (see picture). This needle rises 2250' above sea level and is the result of thousands of years of water pressure eroding volcanic rock. Hawaiians call the structure Kukaemoky, after the phallus of the sea god Kanaloa. The area is considered sacred as royalty were buried here in the past.

A driving trip with Marlene would not be complete without a shopping stop, and we did this at Whaler's Village, a very trendy area on the way home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Keeper of the Koi"

I receieved an opportunity to do a new job this week looking after the fish ponds and waterfalls here at Haggai. Since we are in our final two weeks, the chance to do something different is usually a good opportunity.

There are three fish ponds, five different areas of water and three waterfalls. Because of all the trees and foliage around the water, keeping them presentable is a challenge. Keeping the water levels in sync is also very important. The three fish ponds have a Japanese fish called "Koi". Thus the title "Keeper of the Koi" (these fish are supposedly very expensive - but I understand there is little demand and they are a variety of carp, so the expensive part could be a fish story??

The downside is I have to start work at 6:30am rather than 7:30, and you have to get right in the water to clean some of the debris, algae, and the like. After a couple of hours of this, my hands smell worse than they used to when we kept pigs. But as I tell my colleagues, this new experience will look good on my resume!

We are saying goodbye to partcipants this weekend, so the place is becoming very quiet. Some of the work projects that are now getting started are interesting. Jobs which cannot be completed when we have guests are the order of the day. One is "Spring cleaning" rooms. All furniture is removed, lanai (balcony) carpet is replaced if necessary, air conditioners are reconditioned, broadloom is shampooed, drapes are dry cleaned, and that's all before the ladies and housekeeping move in. Needless to say a room looks quite fresh when the process is completed.

Last night was convocation and our last opportunity to experience this event. Marlene and I had a nice chat with a fellow from India, who explaining to us, that because we have four daughters, and because I have a dimple in my chin, our third daughter will look after us in our old age?? Maybe I missed part of his explanation Amy, but you better get prepared anyway!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Another International Praise Night

Another evening of listening to the participants praise god through singing and entertaining each other. These evenings are very lighthearted and preceded by a poolside dinner.

The picture with Marlene and me is with a participant from Panama. He is a very excitable chap, but he always has a ready smile. He tells us he can see the Panama canal from his house, and he does a lot of work evangelizing children.

Our table company for dinner was two Kenyans and two Tanzanians. One of the latter is a banker. It is always amazing how when you get into a conversation, you always have something in common. We told them one of our daughters and her husband had visited Africa. That only led to them putting real pressure on us to come and visit them in Africa, seeing as we are retired with lots of time on our hands. Marlene's only excuse was her fear of flying, but then she had to explain how she got to Maui.

The bottom picture is "Sus"! He is an employee here at Haggai, an assistant to the VP in charge. Sus makes sure everything works, from computers to projectors, etc. He was born and raised here and has never left. This makes him somewhat of a rarity, since only 16% of the population fits into this category.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sightseeing - Haleakala & Hana Rd

Dec. 3 -We left our residence at 4am, and drove for 2 hours, to the top of the Haleakala Volcano to watch the sunrise. It was a crystal clear night, the billions of stars shining brightly, no wind. Had about a 45 minute wait until the actual thing, but the colouring of the horizon was beautiful to watch as it slowly became lighter. We were above the 10,000 ft. level, with white fluffy clouds below us, just suspended in the air, not moving. Where is a Tim Horton's when you REALLY need one? Once it was daylight, we could see that the entire top of the crater was like a moonscape, very barren, bleak, desolate, uneven lava rock of some sort. But it was so beautiful in it's own way, we have such a magnificent creator to praise for His handiwork! We took a lot of pictures, but lots didn't turn out either! This area is now a national park.

After looking over the area, (by now we were all quite chilled) we drove back down to find some coffee to drink with our packed muffins and such. Once back to the bottom, we carried on in our rented car, and travelled the famous Hana Road, but because of where we were at the bottom of Haleakala, we approached Hana in the reverse of the usual route. Yes, the road does go both ways, but there is a very rough stretch of about 11 miles, so you can't go over 25 mph! And even when you reach the good paved road, it is very narrow in many places, with 615 hairpin turns, & over 50 one way bridges, spread over about 45 miles. And in many places, you are on the very edge of the cliff, I couldn't bear to look out the side window, just looking ahead. But the scenery was spectacular in many places, as this is a tropical rainforest, with many waterfalls, gorges, cliffs, all with dense folliage, 99 shades of green at least. And as this is an island, it is all coastline, with the blue water, whitecapped waves, sheer cliffs, black lava sand & rock in many places. In one area, there is a bamboo forest, with a 2 hr. hiking trail to, & through it, with several bridges spanning the deep gorges. (Think as in Elora Gorge) See the photo. As we continued driving towards home, we drove through several other areas of bamboo also, it really is unique to see it growing. I kept looking for the Panda Bears, but no luck!

It truly was a great day, admiring God's beautiful creation, in the bright sunshine all day, and even that is rather rare in the rainforest area! Praise God!
Blessings to you all!

Snorkelling at Aquarium

We spent an afternoon off on Thursday, by going snorkelling with two other couples, to an area known as aquarium. It is in a very remote area of the island as the photo showing the road leading to it will attest. From the road, it was a 45 minute hike to a cove through a lava field. You can see it was very rough and Marlene was on all fours at some points, navigating her way through the lava rocks. The cove is an area where the lava had flowed directly from the crater right into the ocean. Surprisingly, the two other couples we were with, both had visited this location on previous visits to Maui, so why they would go back is a mystery to me. But we are not big snorkelling fans, so I'd better watch what I say. In fact I have only snorkelled two or three times in my life, the last time was probably when we visited Maui last, 34 years ago.

Once in the water, it was fun to view the fish, etc but this area had no colorful corrall or other scenery, just the dull colored lava rock. There was no beach to lay on and the rock was quite rough and evn sharp. I cut a finger and one of the others received a nasty scratch on his leg. You had to be very careful getting in the water and even while in the water.

On a more positive note, it was a nice opportunity to spend time with and meet two new couples, both of whom have served as volunteers here at Haggai previously. The one couple from Oregon have been here four times and the other from near Brandon, Manitoba have been here once. The other positive was coming home and sitting in the whirlpool by the pool and discussing our adventure with others.

Speaking of volunteers, the last of those arriving before Christmas are now here, and there will be 14 volunteers leaving before Christmas, the last of which will be us. So the revolving door of the volunteer family continues.