January 15, 2021
Dear St. Paul’s Family,
So here is another gift that keeps giving. On Thursday, January 7, a very difficult day for our nation, and for me, the doorbell rang early in the evening. At the door was a FedEx driver with a large package for us. Inside was a mass of protea, a species of flowers that are some of the world’s oldest (fossils date to75-80 million years ago). Also known as sugar bushes, these flowers were sent fresh from the slopes of Haleakala in Maui, from Kahu (pastor) Jimmy and Fran Aarona. The Aarona’s are friends from Maui, serving at the Haleakala Congregational Church (UCC), which meets in an historic church building that no longer has a roof. Rain doesn’t discourage them – they simply move beneath the tarp. We’d lost touch after moving back to the mainland in 2016. Jimmy learned of my installation at St. Paul’s from Rev. Janice Ogoshi, the pastor who gave the sermon at the installation service.
Back in November, Jimmy emailed me, “Hoʻomakaʻi Ia ʻOe” (congratulations), and said he would send a gift sometime. Well, at just the right time when I needed to sense the extravagant breath of Ke Akua (God). I used them as altar flowers (three large vases full) for our worship service on January 10. But the giving simply couldn’t stop there.
Flowers are one of the ways that folks in Hawaii share aloha. They either harvest or purchase flowers and weave them into lei. As the flowers are harvested, words of thanks are given to God for the blessing, as they are woven, prayers are offered for the recipient. And when you receive a lei, it is customary to pass it along wear it for a time, then pass it on to some else. Old lei are placed back on the ground to fertilize future growth. When I was ordained at Wananalua Congregational Church (UCC), I was blessed with so many lei that they almost covered my eyes. That isn’t a statement about me, but a measure of the extravagant hospitality of the people. I had a lot of giving away to do that time!
I decided that I would give one vase full of protea to use for the worship service this coming Sunday, January 17, 2020; keep a few at home to enjoy; and give the rest away. Tuesday I had the pleasure of delivering protea to a number of folks from our congregation who can’t get out, including Janet and Bill Sibert. Bill was in town, so he picked theirs up at the church and saved me the trip. It was great fun to share a little bit of Hawaii with people, and lovely to see their faces at the doors, even with masks.
But the greatest joy was an email that I received from Janet Sibert later that evening. She wrote, “Thanks for the flowers!!! We had forgotten that today was our anniversary! Made our day!”
They had forgotten, I was clueless, but God knew. Happy 47th Anniversary, Janet and Bill. And thanks, God, for your gifts that keep on giving.
“Share with God’s people who need help.” (Romans 12:13 New Century Version) ~ Anne