- Travel and Places
Hawaii as a Place of Miracles
Tiny Miracles All Around Us
Despite the television and movie depiction of Hawaii being strictly flora and fauna, its capital, Honolulu, is actually a blustering city just like the large cities of the 48 contiguous states. There are hotels and skyscrapers, freeways and a transit system. I visited there a few years ago and was initially dismayed at how unlike the fictional setting it was. My dismay was short-lived, however. For the further away from the city one travels, the more exotic and beautiful the land becomes. And the fact that the military R and R resort where we stayed was right on the Pacific Ocean added a definite bonus. And perhaps our being connected to a place of such immense spiritual symbolism (water as birth, re-birth, cleansing) accounts for all the amazing things that happened to us during that visit. Actually, “amazing” is not quite the appropriate description; miraculous is more accurate.
For me, a miracle is God’s way of letting us know that He believes enough in us to show us grace in some of the most ungraceful of circumstances. On that visit to Honolulu, my husband (Allen) and I and two other couples (Buster and Margie and Evelyn and Ernesto) witnessed so many little miracles that were performed just for us, that we could not help but allow the spiritual ambiance of the setting to infuse our interactions as we explored the city and the surrounding hills.
Miracle Number One
Allen, Buster, Margie and I left NC on Monday, July 13. We had a five-hour layover in LA, so Evelyn and Ernesto, who live there, picked us up, and we spent that layover at their home, making last minute plans. Upon finishing the second leg of our American Airlines flight, landing in Honolulu and finding our quarters with no problem, we picked up the rented van and explored the area nearby. Evelyn and Ernesto flew into Honolulu the next day, and we were supposed to pick them up at the airport. We arrived at what we thought was their terminal ahead of time, but they did not meet us at baggage as we had agreed. Margie and I walked to their gate, had them paged and waited for over an hour. I called their home… no answer (neither their son nor their cousin who was living with them was at the house). Thinking that perhaps they had missed their original flight, we found out the arrival time for the next flight, left for lunch and came back at exactly the disembarking time. Nothing. We were lost as to what to do. Again, we looked for them for over an hour and finally decided there was nothing left to do except give up. We were all scared and exhausted, but just as we were about to head for the exit, someone in the van said, “Let’s ride through the main terminal area one more time and have them paged again.” The rest agreed, though we held out little hope that we’d find them. We turned around for one final try. Suddenly, as though from nowhere, there they were, on the curb, waiting… waving like they were trying to hail a cab… or like they expected their friends (who had gone to the American Airlines terminal though the couple came in on Hawaiian Air and who had a folder in the van with them with that information written down but didn’t bother to open it) to pick them up. Actually, Ernesto had seen us when we passed by after we’d decided to give up. He had walked to the median so that if we came back, he could flag us down. The four of us erupted from that van as though it were on fire. We laughed and hugged and cursed and hugged until we couldn’t any more. Evelyn admitted that they had been all but petrified when we hadn’t come because they had no way of finding us; Evelyn had left the name and phone number for the resort on her kitchen table. We were petrified that they’d been in an accident in LA. That we decided to turn around and cruise by one more time had to have been God’s intervention… a miracle.
One of the most moving sites we visited in Honolulu was Pearl Harbour. Walking through the USS Arizona Museum and the USS Bowfin, seeing the wall memorializing all the service people killed there, and being able to touch a Japanese suicide torpedo put us all in a place of somber reverence. Being in this place where so many Americans lost their lives protecting the country gave us a new respect for what it means to be a US citizen.
Usually Evelyn and I plan our vacations because we are both doers. That is, we make decisions then get to moving on them. But this year, because Buster had been stationed in Honolulu during his service time, and he knew the lay of the land and could get us a great price on accommodations, we stepped out of his way and let him plan. Well, we didn’t find out until the week before leaving that Buster had not been able to schedule us into the bungalow two of the seven days of our stay. We were scheduled on the resort for Monday through Wednesday, then Friday through Sunday morning. Ever the optimist, Buster assured us that something would come through, and we’d have rooms somewhere at the resort for those two unconfirmed days. But, just to be on the safe side, I made reservations for two rooms through my travel club at a hotel in the city for those two nights. On Thursday night when we got to the city, the hotel only had one room confirmed, and no vacancies. The hotel staff was very nice: they got us rooms at a sister hotel and upgraded our rooms. When I called my travel club, I was told that because the problem had been the hotel’s error, they would have to pay for our first night’s stay. That fell right into God’s plan for our next miracle.
Buster had called each day after we arrived in Honolulu to see if any cancellations had occurred so that we could stay on the resort all seven days. The answer was always no. However, on Friday, just before we were supposed to leave for the hotel for our second night’s stay, the resort called and told us that we were confirmed. We didn’t have to use the hotel room the second night, and the night we had used was paid for. Whew!
Artesian International Marketplace
For a light, touristy attraction, we visited the Artisan International Market Place. This was a large international bazaar offering shopping, food and site seeing to please any taste. We took pictures with a huge tree in the middle of the market whose roots grew upward to form new huge trees. As beautiful as the market was, we carried very small packages away from that outing.
Even though we had accepted a two-bedroom bungalow just to get our vacation confirmed, Buster’s name was on a waiting list for a three bedroom. We had hoped the larger bungalow would come through before the LA couple arrived that Tuesday, but that didn’t happen, so we were six adults in a two bed-roomer with one bathroom. It was pretty crowded, but we functioned extremely well. And though we were confirmed for Friday night at the resort, Ernesto had made reservations at the hotel so that no one would have to sleep in the living room, and everyone would be comfortable. We understood his point but didn’t really want them to go. Since we could not convince him to stay with us, we all drove into the city to drop them off. We walked through the hotel, admiring its beauty and talking about our friendship. No one wanted to say goodnight. About the time Ernesto decided to check in, the call came that our three bed-room bungalow had come open… and at no additional expense! We were the six amigos on an island paradise experiencing God’s hand at work in our lives. At this point, we had begun to acknowledge His handiwork… even in the tiniest occurrences.
Polynesian Cultural Center
To get us caught up in the flavor of old Hawaii, we took a trip up into the mountains to the Polynesian Cultural Center. This was a daylong outing that was both fun and educational. We witnessed dances, dress, and practices indigenous to all of the Polynesian islands: Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, Marquesa, and Maori. We took a canoe ride down the center of the cultural center passing a replica of a village from each island, saw tree climbers scale tall, thin coconut trees in record time and participated in a huge luau that left each of us smacking our lips and holding our bellies. We believed that we had gotten a real sense of the old Polynesia.
To celebrate our good favor, that Friday night, the ladies planned a candlelight dinner, dancing, and romance. All three couples strolled on the beach, spent a little time at the resort clubhouse, then went back to our bungalow. The mood was peaceful and intimate, and we easily slipped into a conversation about love and marriage, our childhood, our own emotional shortcomings etc…. The sharing was powerful and intense. I hoped we were taking the first steps into opening a dialogue for the couples that needed to hear each other with their hearts for a change. I classify this experience as a miracle because all three husbands are usually very reticent when feelings get shared. This night all three opened up, and I could swear that one husband teared up a little.
Miracle 6: Since the Evelyn and Ernesto were leaving a day after the rest of us, they had to find someplace to spend the night on the 19th. When Buster went down to get his check-out paperwork in order on the 18th, he discovered that check-out was scheduled for noon on the 20th, not the 19th. So, the Harrises would have someplace to stay; plus, they would have the van until 7:00 PM on the 20th. Their flight was to leave at 9:00 PM. All things worked together again!!!
Kole Kole Pass
To experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the area, we drove through Kole Kole Pass. We saw the most amazing mountain landscapes where the sky matched the bright blue of the ocean and craggy hills seemed to stretch into forever.
On the flight over, the Evelyn and Ernesto had made friends with a Hawaiian female who had been their seatmate. They were so impressed by her friendliness, they had considered calling her when they thought they were stranded at the airport. As we were checking in for our flights back to LA, the same lady was standing in the line beside us. Evelyn exchanged phone numbers with her and stayed in touch after returning to the main land.
Dole Pineapple Plantation
At some point we visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Unfortunately all we saw was acres and acres of growing plants. Earlier, we had asked several people how pineapples grew, under the ground or above. We got conflicting answers. So even after visiting the plantation, we still did not know.
Miracles Eight and Nine
Miracle 8: Evelyn and Ernesto’s flight back to LA was late departing. As a matter of fact, the airline had to send a different plane to pick up its LA passengers. Because that plane was smaller, Evelyn and Ernesto were permitted to ride in first class from Maui to LA!
Miracle 9: We spent seven days in Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the most expensive vacation spots in the US. However, our bungalow cost each couple $140.00; the van came to $140.00 per couple; and each couple spent about $300.00 shopping and sight-seeing. We couldn’t have done much better had we just stayed together at one of our houses.
I’m sure there were other little miracles during that week, but these stand out in my memory. And since so many of these acts of Grace involved the Evelyn and Ernesto, I had thought that the rest of us were instruments in whatever positive work God had in store for them. But, probably not. Within a year, Buster was taken from us. After having several heart attacks, he just slept away into spirit one night the following April. The most beautiful and spiritually charged vacation that we took together turned out to be our last as a sextet. The cosmic truth does not escape me: we were given that time and those connections with God in order to be ok with Buster’s departure. For in those seven days, we had given each other the best of ourselves; we had been one with each other, and one with God. The vacation had been God’s gift to us, a way to make a memory that would keep us connected to Buster… forever