Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Weekend of Work (Half)

The attached group photo shows some of the happy graduates from Thursday's Convocation. The group are Latin America and the Carribean.

This weekend we are on call again on Sunday. We have some duties to do, but as I've stated before, we need to stay on the premises from 6:30am until 10:00pm. During this time we get to help a few people leaving, with their luggage, both participants and guests. It is a great opportunity to catch up on football and reading. We did church yesterday afternoon at the local Catholic church.

With two concurrent ladies sessions, it is necesary to use the facilities to the fullest, as best we can. The attached photo show a men's washroom converted to a ladies facility. I thought it was pretty innovative.

We said goodbye to Dick & Eileen Radstake, a couple from Moorefield, Ontario. Dick & Eileen completed their fifth term here and they work together doing renovations to rooms and hallways. They are "Master" wallpapers'! Dick is very handy replacing bathroom fixtures, flooring, baseboards, etc. When they finish with a reno project, it looks like new. Inside carpet is contracted out, but otherwise the complete project is done by volunteers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Half Way Point

Today is our seventh Wednesday here (I know by my Rotary makeups), so we are halfway through our time here.

Speaking of Rotary, the Club I do makeups with had a joint meeting with their Interact Club today. For those not familiar with Interact, it is a High School Rotary Club, sponsored by a normal Rotary Club. The one we visited today is in a private school of 415 students from grade seven to twelve. One of the pictures shows some of their facilities. Needless to say, it is upper end. I have never been directly involved in Interact in my Rotary career, so it was quite enlightening. We had an Interact Club in Chatham at Steph and Carrie's school and I know at least Carrie was a member, maybe Steph too?

Last night was another "Pool Dinner" and "Praise Night". I won't bore you with a whole bunch of participant pictures, but once again the Africans really had the place rocking. These ladies had colourful dresses and the "law professor" from Nigeria was their leader. Our volunteer group did a choir number and you can see everyone was included, whether they could sing or not. Marlene is trying to imitate some participants with her headband?

The other picture is of our building taken from the street - our room is one floor from top (5th floor) and directly in the centre. Our door is in an "atrium" area, which has a roof which is usually open for ventalation purposes. We get a nice breeze, and have not used the air conditioning yet. Evenings are starting to get cooler with winter season coming on, and it is really quite pleasant.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


A new experience!

As I mentioned, this is something I have wanted to do for some time. We did an earlybird, (8:00am) flight and the weather was perfect. We had a choice of 400' or 800', and since I wasn't sure we would do again, we took the 800'. The flight was 10 minutes, which was just about perfect. Now I didn't take a tape measure, but as you can see, the rope was certainly long enough for us. We took off from, and landed on the boat. The picture of us is the landing. There was seven of us on the boat and you have a choice of going single or tandem. All in all, I was very impressed with how they do it. I watched parasailing in Mexico and they spent alot of time messing with the rope and the parachute. Our guys had great equipment, were very courteous and had been doing it for several years. Would you believe they have done up to 84 flights in one day!

This is the final week for one of our groups. Next weekend about 55 of our 110 participants will leave. We have enjoyed Regional presentations this week and all have been very interesting. The perecution that some suffer in their home countries for their faith is quite amazing. Hearing from independent countries of the former USSR, is also very interesting. We have Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the group that is finishing. Learning about the Middle East is also very topical, and we have Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan represented. The second group will do their presentations this week, so the different perspectives from the same Regions, but different presenters will be entertaining and educational.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Life Goes On

Already the news here is that the US federal government is not doing enough to aid earthquake damage. Most of the major damage is on the "Big Island", (Hawaii) but with elections loomimg this November, politicians are trying to leverage any situation available. Total damage reported thus far to public property is around $74 million. When you consider a similar 6.7 scale earthquake in 1993 in California caused $25 billion, it is comparitively small. Frankly, I am surprised we didn't have more damage to our building here, based on the "shake" I experienced in our 5th floor room. Engineers will probably come in to inspect the building, but there appears very little damage to my eyes.

I purchased tickets today to go "parasailing" this weekend. This is something I have wanted to do for years, but it took another of the volunteers to say "lets do it"! More surprising is that Marlene is also going. Will report more after the experience.

I was also able to get discounted airline tickets to go to Honolulu our last weekend here. The attraction there is an NCAA (college) football game. It will involve staying overnight since games don't start until 6:00pm (because of the heat), so we will be able to do some sightseeing as well. We were there in 1971, but I imagine there has been some changes in 35 years.

The attached pictures are two of Marlene's never ending attempt to photograph the perfect sunset.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


What an experience! And not one we wish to repeat again. We have certainly been protected by the Lord through this, no-one here at Haggai has been injured, but of coarse all are scared. I don't think there was any damage to the property, but some toilet bowls splashed onto the floor, a few TV's fell out of the shelving onto the floor, and many books on Dr. Aldo's shelves also landed on the floor, most of this on the upper floors, 5 & 6. I was in the dining room, and had just gotten my breakfast on my plate, when the noise like a big truck out on the street, was heard, and then things started to move, that should not be moving. Many ladies were already eating, a supervisor said everything was ok, and then the lights went out. So the biggest problem was no electricity, from 7.10 'til noon. It was then (no lights) that we vacated the building. Eventually we came back in to have breakfast (by candlelight ) as most of the dining room is quite dark.
Early this am, ( 3am) 5 carloads of ladies left the building to drive up the volcanoe to see the sunrise, at about 6am. However, it was very overcast, so they would not have seen anything. It is now 3.30pm, and I haven't heard that they are home yet. They did call to say they were ok at about 9:00am, but some roads are blocked by boulders.
This quake was 6.6 on the scale, centered off the Big Island, and they had a lot more damage, & still are without power, etc. The land phones were not working, but one lady had a cell that did work, so some of us quickly called home to say we were ok. God is soooo good! I am so amazed that we did not feel more (Ralph was still in our room,trying to cool off after his run, so I was anxious until I saw him outside). The library has a huge collection of everything that many participants have brought here as gifts, and only 3 items were on the floor, everything else standing exactly where it belongs.
It was really neat, as we gathered outside, that the ladies immediately began a time of prayer & praise, worshipping God, and I believe, comforted everyone by doing so. The ladies did such an amazing job of keeping everyone calm, to God be the glory!
One of the pictures shows how we set up for a poolside dinner, except the tableclothes aren't on yet, and if it is after dark, the torches are also lit.
Blessings to you all, stay safe, we love you!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Time Goes Quickly

To-morrow is "Aloha Friday" and another week has passed. As I have said before, time does go quickly here.

Tonight I sat beside a young lady from Bangkok, Thailand. She was not disappointed about the recent coup by the military in her country. She has two degrees in Agriculture and works for the Thailand government as a consultant. She has travelled extensively to the UK and Europe on behalf of the government. She is a specialist in the sugar industry and when I told her that we grow sugar beets in Canada in a small way, but that they are processed in the USA, she was surprised we wouldn't have our own processing plants. Before working for the government, she spent 15 years planting churches throughout Thailand. She claimed they planted 685 in the 15 year period, but leadership is a major problem.

Yesterday at Rotary, we had a speaker telling us of the dangers of too much cell phone use. In the USA, kids use cell phones five times as much as their parents, an average of 68 minutes per day. Her message was that the incidence of brain cancer is growing quickly, much of it caused by cell phone use! If true, very scary.

Dr Aldo, the VP of training here, is leading the volunteers in a second bible study group. He is quite a Bible Scholar, and a very good teacher. Naturally, we studied the book of Haggai first, and now we are into Acts. Aldo always has a point you've never heard before.

The pictures are from our recent hike. We haven't been out since to get some new ones.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Waihee Ridge Hike

Why would 14 otherwise normal people, take a very nice Saturday morning and head out to hike 5 miles up a ridge, in the heat of Hawaii. Thats what we did yesterday morning. And all 14 of us made it to the peak.

We were up at 6:30am to say goodbye to a volunteer couple returning to their home in Australia, so we were on our way to start the hike by 7:00am. We finished by 11:00am, so the heat could have been much worse had we been out later in the day. The strange part was that the coming down, was harder on the leg muscles, than going up?

The top picture shows the peak we were heading for and the "end of trail" sign confirms we arrived. Since Marlene and I are not experienced hikers, it was quite an expedition. When you have others with you who you know are older, you become a little more motivated.

The scenery on the island is something, particularly when you consider most of the vegetation is growing out of lava rock. When you climb a hill here, you are rarely out of sight of the ocean, which adds to the scenery.

We treated ourselves to brunch on the way home at a restaurant in the County capital, so that added to our trip. Since I was up at 4:45am, I did some horizontal exercises yesterday afternoon to help recover.

We are welcoming participants this weekend - always a pleasant time. One of the female particpants is a law professor from Nigeria - Steph our oldest daughter would enjoy meeting her.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Interesting Stage of Life

I was thinking at our "Devotion Time" today what an interesting stage of life, most of us volunteers here, are at.

Most of us, although not all, are retired. We do have three younger volunteers, two young ladies, an American and a Canadian; and a young fellow from Australia. They are all taking a three month break from their careers to volunteer here. Of the remainder, we have three widowed ladies who are retired, and the rest are couples.

One of the hymns we sang included the words "how sweet to hold a new-born baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives". Since Marlene and I have experienced this in our family twice in the past year and a half, and look forward to doing so again next March, the words were meaningful.

My other thought was that most of us don't have jobs to worry about going back to. Some of us do some part-time work, but for most it is volunteer jobs, similar to what brought us here. And while we do work hard here, and take pride in our tasks, we also keep reminding each other not to get too serious.

So it is a wonderful stage of life - good health (I'm doing my 4 mile jog four days a week), very proud of my family, and as we say here at Haggai, the opportunity to "suffer for Jesus" in Maui.

On a negative note, we have had the "flu bug" going around for the past 7/10 days. Several volunteers and staff have been off work, but so far Marlene and I have escaped the sickness. It seems to be past but with sharing buffet serving cutlery, elevator buttons, etc, it is rather difficult to avoid catching whatever is going around.

The pictures are a couple more from the County Fair exhibits. Blogger won't upload anymore for me.