I left the beautiful islands of Hawai'i. I remember how much I cried. I remember how I couldn't sleep the night before. I remember leaving feeling like so many people had changed my life, and I had changed no one's. I mean, the Gospel did, but no one came to see me off at the airport. I gave Hawai'i a large piece of my heart. And I wouldn't change it for the world.
Before my mission, I hated it when returned missionaries called their mission "The Best Years" of their life. I still kind of do. I wouldn't describe my time in Hawai'i as that. I would describe it as the most selfless time of my life. The time I loved more freely than I ever have.
Hawai'i is a special place. I'm grateful to have been there. Lived in the ghettos. That I have seen a side of Hawai'i few non-residents get to see.
I secretly wish that my life would lead me back to the islands. Unfortunately every time we've planned a trip to go back, a grandma has died. But I wish our lives led us back there. I did get accepted to law school there, but with the recession it wasn't reasonable to move to a place Russ didn't have a job.
I could go on and on about the beautiful people. Oh the wonderful, beautiful people I came to know and love there! It was like being at a giant family reunion- everyone loved you. Even those who sent us away.
A few bullet point memories- more for my sake than for yours...
- Stepping off the plane and receiving multiple leis
- Not having a shower for 3 weeks
- Cockroaches! In my skirt!
- The Marshallese people. How ashamed I felt when I found out they were in Hawai'i for medical treatment due to US nuclear bomb testing near their islands. They did not resent me.
- Hawaiian sacrament meetings
- Maui- the island where I spent the bulk of my mission. Where I cried the most. Where I was harassed by the YWAMmers (Southern Baptist 'missionaries'... more like vacationers who string up dead cats at the LDS missionaries apartments)
- Sweet, sweet Annabelle. And Inmi.
- The 40 days of rain. Being trapped in Kahalu'u.
- The countless, countless Chinese families that I taught.
- The Tahitian boxer that gave up all for the Church
And so many more memories that are too special to share. So grateful that I was Called to Serve.