Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seeing My Old Home Through Tourist's Eyes

Some people who know me ask if I ever miss Hawaii after moving here to the Northwest 21 years ago. The answer is YES!...especially around this time of year. I have some great memories growing up in Windward Oahu and in North Kona at PuuWaaWaa Ranch. Hawaii is where I first came to surrender my life to Christ, where I met the love of my life, Cindy, and where we started our family together.

But as someone has said, “you can never go back home.” I think when my mother died in 1992 it began to become more difficult for me to go there. Slowly but surely the places that held the most memories (and where we could stay for free!) were sold and the past became owned by strangers. So, much to our kids’ disappointment, we have not visited Hawaii as much as one might expect over the past several years.

However, earlier this month Cindy and I went to Kona with our granddaughter, Ellie, and played tourist at the Keauhou Sheraton Hotel. Rather than obsessing on my past there in Kona I decided I wanted just to be present with Cindy, Ellie and our little tour group of about 12 people from the Seattle area.

In all of the years I had lived there I never went whale watching before. I did that with Ellie. Cindy opted out due to her tendency towards seasickness. When we drove around the island, we drove through what used to be my family’s former ranch at PuuWaaWaa., the tour guide indicated that Hawaiian chiefs were buried on the west side of the hill, where we used to live. They liked to be buried on that side facing the sun. I did not know that. I had heard that King Kamehameha the Great was probably buried secretly somewhere on the ranch but didn’t know that it could be as close as that furrowed hill where we lived and would horseback ride upon.

I have always been fascinated about how God prepared the people of Hawaii for the arrival of the missionaries. I was able to do more reading this trip and I realized that the abolishment of the kapu system in 1819 that kept the people in a sure bondage didn’t come without a fight. The forces loyal to King Kamehameha II who wanted to abolish the system needed to defeat a coalition of chiefs who wanted to keep the status quo. That decisive battle took place right near where our hotel was in Keauhou! Within just a few months of this event the first missionaries arrived with the people of Hawaii experiencing a spiritual vacuum that would make for a much greater receptivity to the message.

Coming back as a tourist, with more objective wonder, I could see with fresh eyes the whales off Kailua-Kona, PuuWaaWaa hill with its connection to Hawaiian chiefs and the rocky beach of Keauhou with its importance in Hawaii’s spiritual history. Why couldn’t I see these things as clearly before? I think it is our tendency to stop seeing things after awhile. Stop wondering. Stop being curious.

We don’t want to be considered ignorant novices or “tourists” but that is where we can live in joyous discovery. That is where we can grow in wonder. We usually don’t want to be referred to as “beginners” but that is such a liberating place to be…nothing to prove…no reputation to protect…no image to project. Lord, as I walk with you in your world help me see it all through the eyes of a tourist. Only then will I be able to see the glory in the ordinary!

Embracing My “Tourist-ness” ~


P.S. Correction to a previous blog involving Hawaiian history: The quote I attributed to Queen Emma, “we need to make room for the living” was actually from her aunt, Queen Liliuokulani.

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