Marianas Variety

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    Friday, March 22, 2019-4:09:34A.M.






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OPINION: Waikiki of Hawaii

THE first sights I noticed when I first came by Honolulu on a U.S. President Lines in 1995 on my way to school in Kentucky were the pink structures of Tippler on the hill, and the Sheraton hotel in Waikiki.

The sight of Waikiki was what Hawaii meant to many people, before the backpackers discovered the wonders of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific in Kaua’i, the Robinsons protected native population in Ni’ihau, Mau’i’s city of Maui, the metro of Lahaina and Hana of our familiar, and the big island of Hawai’i just kept its lava flowing and steaming the waters.  The State (Hawaii) and the big island (Hawai’i) having the same name was, of course, confusing to many, but the pronunciation was not similar, nor the script written the same; however, I was not sure of that!  The main islands of the State of Hawaii were Hawai’i, Mau’i, Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, Moloka’i, O’ahu, Kaua’i, and Ni’ihau.

The State of Hawaii became one of my three legal residences though the Hawaii address was actually my sister and brother-in-law’s residence in Ewa Beach, but adding a postal box and service with an apartment in Saipan where I taught in the public and private schools, and having taught at Shenyang Aerospace University in the northeast (dong bei) and a seventh ownership of a housing apartment in a housing development project in Shenbei, the three locations had me spread out thinly but I looked deceptively prim and prosperous, a bit desperately so.  I often just directly went from the airport to the Ewa beach residence, and though a trainer of WorkHawaii in the past, with a driver’s license from the State, I spent less time in Hawaii than the rest of the residences.

My dentist brother-in-law also served the dental chairs of the Kalihi-Palama Health Center until he resigned due to a stroke so that was where I naturally went to have three missing teeth on my upper left molars looked at, only to discover that tooth 5 was recoverable and was given a cap, one was conveniently missing, 2 were capped and three had to be pulled out.  It did not help that my blood pressure was high so I had to be medicated with a month supply of low grade amlodipine besylate and got the blood pressure lower to be able to have the tooth that already was previously root-canaled to be taken out.  Like everything else in Hawaii, everything else has to be scheduled and properly in a social status, so I had to wait for three hours to be in medical consultation before I could buy the medication.  Happily, the dental cleaning lady who went after my plaque with a vengeance, had me on my second primary cleaning, and though the pain was definitely more pronounced as her toothpicker went after the offending calcium deposits, it was worth the time on the chair.  With the new gleam of my tooth, I was mistaken for a Philippine movie star (more status than grace).

The Buddhist temple (Dojo) across the street was locked, unlike the ones in China, Korea and Japan that invited some sense of spirituality and solemnity to the walked-in public but this one was too utilitarian for comfort, and when I computed on one of its tables, the administrative folks wanted me to leave the premises, not exactly my experience with the welcoming monks of Buddhist temples.  Welcome to Honolulu!

That I wrote too fondly and with relish of my time at the Kalama-Kalihi center stemmed from the reality that many of the clients of the place came from familiar Micronesia, of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Ulithi and Yap), Marianas (including Guam) and Palau.  I remembered that even the islands of the Pacific, Tonga and Samoa, which related more to New Zealand and Australia, and saved for the influence of Fiji and the Papua-New Guinea area, and the of Easter Island (Rapa Nui), I was conversant with the rest of the Pacific islands in spite of its diversity.  It was home.

My preacher brother opened the Kapolei UMC, which recently disbanded, as 60 percent of Methodist Churches in CalPAC (California-Pacific Annual Conference) were supported by the 40 percent, I was informed.  Members who included my sister’s family moved to the Ewa Beach UMC that I attended before, and the pastor Chi Young Jeong made a big point about deciding to be a disciple of Christ and he hammered the experience, feelings, and thoughts that went with the decision.  He did not move into the fourth consequence of what a Jeong did as a result.

We used to call the process O-R-I-D (objective, reflective, imperative and decisional) and my reading of the New Testament was that Jesus pushed the disciples to be themselves rather than idolaters of the Jesus figure.   Most Churches promoted the idolatry of Jesus.

It was just like the big guy in my personal journey, Joseph Wesley Matthews or JWM whose journey was similar to mine, from the conservative theological seminary of Asbury to the more liberal atmosphere of Perkins at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  He started the Faith and Life Community House in Austin, Texas, took his wards to the Ecumenical Institute that the World Council of Churches helped establish in Evanston, Illinois, and unlike its namesake in Bossey, Switzerland, that went into the Inter-religious dialogue route, he took the highly reflective group and grounded their thinking into the daily existence of white families in Chicago who moved to a black neighborhood in Chicago and race became the existential issue rather than radical thoughts that the Institute by Lake Geneva propagated.  JWM disdained having his “disciples” be like JWM; they were told to be their own thoughts and doing.

It was the doing, the decisional that got my goat and though I visited their Fifth City in Chicago five years after it was started, I was with EI until it dissolved in Mexico 1986.

The writer is a former Saipan resident.