Monday, September 2, 2013

Hawaii: A Land of Beaches, Clothes Dryers, and Sidewalks

Tickets were purchased, packing was started, projects were was two weeks before I was supposed to leave Papua New Guinea (PNG) and I didn’t have a place to stay when I landed in Hawaii on Tuesday afternoon.

It wasn’t for lack of planning. Months and months in advance, I had set up accommodation plans A and B, but suddenly, both of them fell through only weeks before I was hopping on the plane. Facebook to the rescue! Twenty minutes after my panicked Facebook plea, a college friend had sent me a message—“My boyfriend’s aunt and uncle live in Hawaii and would be glad to take you in. And, she’s an amazing cook”

Did you know Hawaiians cut off their coconuts to keep them from falling on people's heads? Brilliant!
God certainly knew what He was doing with the timing, and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to stay and make some wonderful new friends (thanks Sam and Eva!) during my brief holiday as I trekked across the Pacific. Vacations are extremely hard to come by in PNG (especially as a single). So, when I realized that Hawaii was available as a layover, I wanted to spend a few extra days in this tropical state, knowing that it would help me to begin to make the transition to life in the US in a place that is similar to PNG in many ways (not only was I in the minority as a white girl, but I even found a book on taro in the bookstore!) and yet has all the luxurious conveniences of modern America. And so, my four days in Hawaii was a chance to decompress, play in the ocean, learn about Hawaiian history (visit a palace!), attempt to operate in American culture again, and have a few days of rest after a chaotic several weeks leading up to my departure.

Hawaii was where I first enjoyed authentic Mexican cuisine and indulged in my many American food cravings, began exploring stores (have you ever COUNTED how many kinds of conditioner there are in Kmart?), experienced driving on the right side of the road, marveled at laundry fresh from the dryer (whoa....pretty amazing), sank into lovely carpet, and delighted in really soft towels.

Hawaii was also the place where I fell off the sidewalk.

I had forgotten about sidewalks, you see. And I was attempting to remember how to change my American cell phone from silent to a nice loud, obnoxious ring so I could hear it and remember to answer. And so I stepped to the side (since I can’t yet coordinate walking on the right side of sidewalks with oncoming traffic)...

And I fell off. By some great survival instinct honed deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, I managed not to thud on top of the hood of the car parked inches away from my leg and thus set off car alarms and attract more attention to the klutzy missionary than was necessary. But, even such finely tuned skills can’t do much for making falling off a sidewalk look intentional.

Oh well. At least I managed to change my ringtone!