Sunday on Maui was bliss. While some of the wedding party were likely busy having hangovers, and others off to shop the tourist spots, Steve and I had planned to meet my newly-discovered 3rd cousin at church. You heard right, newly-discovered 3rd cousin, Peter Hanohano and I were able to connect thanks to my ancestry research and FamilySearch.org. I actually had connected with his sister 5 years ago as we were both working on the same family line. When I mentioned to her that I would be in Maui for my cousin's wedding, she told me to contact her brother that still lives there. I really wanted to meet more of my Hawaiian family, so I texted and emailed back and forth and was able to arrange Sunday.
We arrived barely on time to sacrament meeting and we were greeted only moments later by a big warm aloha by Lynn and Peter Hanohano, bearing a welcome lei for both Steve and I. I have never felt in all my life such immediate depth of love from practical strangers. You can imagine that any insecurities of meeting unknown individuals vanished at our first hello, or aloha in this case.
Church was a wonderful experience. The meetings were spirit-filled, the Sunday School class was an engaging and thought-provoking experience as we learned about the Sabbath day. The teacher was someone that I feel I have met before. I almost think she spoke to one of my classes for Recreation Management and Youth Leadership at BYU. If that wasn't her, she's her doppleganger. Her approach to teaching included filling the chalkboard with pictures and snippets from her study which she referred to if it came up in the discussion. It was an effective way to share her perspective on what she learned in preparing this lesson to a whole group in a concise fashion that sparked inspiration in the class and there was a good amount of participation as we went around the room sharing our own thoughts or one we picked out from her list of ideas that we resonated with.
After church, we headed over to meet more of their family for lunch at their home. I remember after snapping a couple pictures outside the church building that the trees were swaying in the wind. The day was hot and humid, making the breezes ever-so-welcome! The wind seemed to blow frequently while we were there, reminding me of the springtime winds we get where we live.
When we got to their home, actually the home of Lynn's mother, people began to arrive, mostly relatives, and a couple friends of the family, and exchange students. The carport was set up as an outdoor room where we all could gather and eat, and sit and relax. While we waited, this little fella, I forget his name now, was a good buddy of mine, coloring with me and showing me his toy car.
He took us on a short tour around the yard, showing us the different plants growing.
|Look at that banana flower!|
|This is a lady slipper flower.|
It was so fun to see all the different plants that grow in a tropical region! There was beauty and wonder everywhere I looked.
When it was about time to eat, I was handed a genealogy page that was really remarkable. There was so many names all there in one place, it was candy for my family-historian-soul. I love to think about all those people I am related to, all those names that lived a life and left a legacy. I can't wait to get to know them more personally through research and one day meeting them in heaven.
Before we blessed the meal, we all sang a hymn along to grandma's ukulele. Yet another wonderful, memorable, light-filled moment. I don't think the smile ever left my face.
|Shoyu chicken with cilantro! Potato salad on the side.|
|Banana flowers are amazing!|
Then Peter showed us these beautiful flowers that grow there. I'm so glad he did because I love seeing plant life. I've never seen flowers like that. I love their pentagonal design.
They then took us to Iao Valley State Park and the Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens. The history of that area was fascinating and the beauty was remarkable! We felt like we were in a mystical land. It was so cool and comfortable up there thanks to the clouds. Pictures just don't do it justice.
|Our picture in front of Iao's Needle|
|A gift I plan to read with my children.|