Well, it’s 80 degrees and brilliantly sunny here in Hawaii. Believe it or not, I am working here — my company participates in a January conference every year. Yes, life is tough.
I brought my family this time — usually I come alone because I have been to Hawaii more than 10 times now and seen all the tourist spots. We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and to the local ward on Sunday. Here are some random thoughts that occurred to me.
–I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center five years ago, and this time it was definitely more Polynesian in terms of the students working there. I have heard that BYU Hawaii is trying to accept a lot fewer mainlanders and concentrate on Polynesian students. I don’t know if this is true, but five years ago about 30-40 percent of the performers were “haoles” (white mainlanders). Now, the number is less than five percent. Definitely an improvement. It was weird five years ago to see red-haired guys doing Tongan dances. (You may not know this, but 70 percent of the workers at the Polynesian Cultural Center are BYU Hawaii students earning their tuition).
–You can get coffee and caffeinated Coke at the Polynesian cultural center, but you can’t on-campus. I wonder how many of the student workers end up drinking Coke (or coffee!) on the sly in between shifts.
–In case you didn’t know, the Laie temple is under construction. My wife and I did a session there five years ago, but no such luck this year.
–I am still amazed at the guys climbing the 50-foot tall palm trees. They wear straps on their bare feet, which makes me think the straps must have some spikes in them (kind of like the workers who climb telephone polls). I’m a pretty strong guy, but there’s no way I could climb a palm tree. These guys do it with ease.
–The drive from Honolulu to Laie is spectacular along either coast, either from the south or the north. If you ever go to Laie, rent a car and drive — it’s worth it.
–The Church (through the Polynesian Cultural Center and other efforts) is probably the single largest force keeping Polynesian cultural alive. The Polynesian Cultural Center is still the largest single tourist attraction in Hawaii — and most of it is an educational experience where people learn about native cultures from people who were born there. It is truly an amazing place. The synergy of Polynesians coming to Hawaii (a Polynesian land), studying and working and building up Polynesian culture while working their way through school is truly extraordinary.
–I have been to church in Hawaii several times, but Sunday was the first time I saw native Polynesian men wearing the “lava-lava” (Polynesian dress skirt, also called a tupenu in Tonga). Three different men walked into Sacrament meeting with a white shirt, tie and lava-lava. Definitely looks comfortable to me. Not sure it would go over too well in 10-degree weather in Colorado.
–If you ever decide to go to Church in Honolulu, I recommend the chapel on Beretania Street (the one that serves Waikiki). The chapel is one of those older, beautiful buildings built many decades ago. It is famous for its mural of Jesus and its gardens.