lanai city, hawaii, 96763

Friday, June 30, 2006

Oatmeal in the Dark

Every morning I wake up sometime between 7 'o clock to 7:30. This is fine. It gives me more than enough time to check my e-mail, have a quick breakfast, read my text, prepare for the ministry, and get dressed. This sounds like a lot, but somehow I manage to squeeze all that into an hour, hour half, and make it to the meeting for field service on time.

Lately, though, I've been realizing that it would perhaps be beneficial to push my wake up time ahead an hour more, between 6 'o clock to 6:30. This would not only allow me more time to prepare, but also give me the option of starting out my day in the ministry an hour earlier.

But this is easier said than done. My morning rituals are strictly a mental exercise. A test, if you will, of my individual will power. Even the (now) regular practice of scarfing down a bowlful of crunchy oatmeal was initially a struggle in itself. But I only did it, to start off with, because of the energy boost it inevitably provides, and how, in a purely technical sense, it upped my game in the field. And the result? Now I (at times) look forward to having a bowlful of creamy, steamy Quaker Oats.

What I'm trying to say is that waking up earlier will not be easy. It will be like forcing myself to do something that I naturally do not want to do, but if I keep in mind why it's spiritually beneficial to do it anyways, than it will eventually become like second nature to me.

And that is what it comes down to, for me at least. Increasing my quality of ministry and quantity of time dedicated to Jehovah involves a lot of self discipline. I speak of these things, purely in a physical sense. And yet, even more so, serving Jehovah whole-souled involves personal introspection as well. But that is entirely another story.

Suffice it to say that, from now on until further notice, I will try my best to be up at the crack of dawn, that is, sometime between 6 to 6:30. If any of you coo-coo monkeys feel like holding me to that commitment, feel free to call me anytime after that. I'll probably be crunching on a bowl of oatmeal in the dark, but I promise not to complain. That is, if I'm even up to take your call...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Mystery of the Pink Slips

Today we stopped off at the post office. I opened my box, and inside I found a pink slip notifying me that I had certified mail. Certified mail, I thought, man I'm special. But as I turned the corner, I saw how long the line was, and I decided to save the pickup for another day. On my way back to the car, however, I passed Crystal, and she was staring intently at her own personal pink slip.

"Hey, I got one of those today, too." I say. "How random is that?"

"This is the first time I see this kind of note," she replies in a wondering voice.

I get into the car and we drive off. As we pull out, we pass Richard, and yet again, in his hand he has a pink slip. "Alright," I say out loud. "That's too much of a coincidence. I gotta find out what's going on." We pull over and I go back inside to stand in line. There I find that Nani has also been slapped by the Pink Slip Bandit. But she's already picked up and signed for her certified note, and we all crowd around her, eager to find out what it's all about.

It turns out that it's a letter sent by Four Seasons Resorts to all of The Lodge at Koele workers stating that we were, in fact, shutting down by the end of summer. They paid $1.85 per letter to let each of us know that it was official. A buck eighty-five, I thought, I could have pocketed that change and bought me a day in SouthEast Asia. But instead it was spent on sending me a mysterious pink slip.

So now we all know that, without a doubt, the Lodge will be closing for three months. That was the important "certified" news. I still would've taken the spare change.

But anyway, after much debate over what my options were, I've currently settled on three specific choices:

I could...

1) Pray for M.T.S. to happen while we're shut down... my ultimate GOAL!

And if that doesn't go through this fall than I could...

2) Book a flight to the Philippines to find a wife

Nah (mom), just kidding. I'd actually be working with a congregation in Vintar, a province in Northern Luzon, trying to become more fluent with my Ilokano, the local dialect here on Lana'i. (But seriously, you'd be surprised how many Filipino's here can't think of any other reason to go there but to get married!)

or 3) Stay. Work. Focus.

And these are my choices. All are good. Not one is bad. Although some may be better than others. I just have to figure out which one is best.

And that, my good munchkins, will be my next big baby step.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Rare Opportunity

"So we heard you guys are shutting down?" The young couple looks at me as I crumb their table lightly. "What's up with that?"

I simply smile at them my rehearsed smile. They can't be more than a few years my senior.

"Well actually we're already halfway there," I say, not missing a swipe. "The east wing is already closed, as far as I know." They blink at me curiously, clearly waiting for more depth. I tuck my crumber into my side pocket. "Umm... we're supposedly scheduled for a full shut down by the end of August..." Keep on false smiling, just look fake interested, buddy... fake the interest... "Let me get you the dessert menu."... Mr. and Mrs. Go-away-already.

I return to their table, menus in hand. "The first two that we see here are definitely our most popular desserts..."

"So what are you gonna do while you guys are closed?" The Mrs. cuts me off.

I'm hardly surprised. I clear my throat and I decide to go on the defense. "Well, the way most of us see it, three months of leave is a rare opportunity... not to be passed up."

"But you'll be out of work for three months!" Uh-huh... "Aren't you worried?" Hardly...

I clear my throat again. "Actually we have option to pick up work at Manele Bay, so it's not a crisis." They peer at me, and again it's obvious that they want more divulged. "To tell you the truth, some of us are looking forward to being able to leave for three months with out even having to ask for the time off." I pause, perhaps for emphasis. They're still silent. "Like I said, it's a rare opportunity."

"Oh..." the young Mrs. nods, "it's because you guys work so much, huh..." She smiles, satisfied with her natural intuitiveness.

Umm... No... Give me that menu so I can smack you with it. "Not really, ma'am." I clear my throat yet again. "It's just that we have a different work mentality here on Lana'i." They stare at me, blinking... waiting... "So, yah... I guess what I mean to say is there's more to life than just work."

The Mrs. smiles unassuredly, "Oh, okay, I see." No you don't. "So tell us about your desserts." Now you do...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Life in 3rd World USA

Monday, May 23, 2005


Milla phoned me at 1200 last night. Surprisingly, I was already in bed. It wasn't until I woke up at 906 this morning (I remember the time because when I looked at the clock, I realized that if you were to flip all three numbers upside down, it would still read the same) that I rubbed my crusty eyes, crawled out of bed and checked my voicemail. The mechanical lady said that I had 1 new message. Message received at 1203 am, yesterday. It was Milla, and she sounded upset. "JR, I know it's late, but can you give me a call when you get this message."

I'm not so sure about anyone else, but I feel restless whenever I get a message like that. So many crazy stuff run through my mind as far as what it's all about. Whenever I hear someone clearly upset and whispering vague concerns into my voicemail, I have a mild panic session. And so I pick up the phone and dial Milla's number. There's no answer.

I decide to get my mind off of the message by browsing online. I check my emails, upload some recent pics and register a new domain. About an hour later, I pick up the phone to try again.

This time Milla answers, and her voice is crisp and cheery. Don't you love it when you've spent an hour worried sick about someone over a message they left only to hear from them again, and everything's fine. Well in this case, not everything is fine. Most things were, but not everything. I ask her where she is, she says she's out in field service.

"You wanna join us?" she asks me.

My response must sound dry and unenthusiastic: "Nah, it's alright." And impatient: "So what's up... why did you call last night?"

There's a pause on her end, I can hear voices around her, maybe Ashley and I can't tell who else. And then Milla whispers, as if she doesn't want the others to hear, "Umm okay, you know how we all have programs on our individual desktops..." And right then, I already know exactly what she's getting at.

Flashback to a few days prior: Sarah has a clip from a recent KM taped up next to the computer about downloading copyrighted materials off of the internet. It's a thoroughly legitimate issue for her, something she probably lays awake in bed over, tossing about, flitting from thought to thought on the evils and detrimental consequences resulting from participating in this dark activity.

We all have a shared program on the computer,, something that Camille dropped money for, and something we all make use of. A few days ago I had been downloading digital clips of those little cartoons that start off Pixar features, you know the ones with bouncing jackelopes or cute but carnivorous fish. All the while, Sarah perched quietly behind me, watching my every move, obviously bothered. And it bothered me.

A couple days later I brought it up to Sarah's attention that an mp3 audio file was no different from an avi movie file, and that if she saw pirating guilt on my forehead than she too had things to answer for, because she had her own folder of downloaded music off of Limewire. But my well thought out guilt trip was too late. She had already spent a restless night stressing over the valid points that I exposed.

"It's already been taken care of," she answered me mildly. Behind her, Steven smiled, clearly amused by her frankness. Sarah continued calmly, "I deleted the program from my desktop yesterday."

Flash forward to the present: "Umm okay, you know how we all have programs on our individual desktops, right?" In the background, I hear a car door slam shut, more indistinct voices, and after a pause, Milla continues. "Well, if you delete a program that is on your own desktop, does that affect everyone's use of that program?" I can hear the annoyance that this topic brings her. I decide not to know what she's talking about. At least not just yet.

"Well, it depends. If it's just a shortcut to a program, than it shouldn't affect anything. But if the program itself is under an individual's account and that person deletes it, than yes, it affects the other user's." I hear her sigh. I suddenly choose to realize what she's getting at."

Is this about Limewire?" I ask.

"Yah, it is," she answers. "So, can the program be recovered?"

I pause for thoughtfulness. "Well it depends. If Sarah's already emptied her recycle bin..."

She cuts me off right there. "Yah, it's emptied already."

Well than there was nothing we could do, and I tell her that. The deleted program was in Sarah's recycle bin, and now its gone into oblivion. Milla exhales in frustration and tells me what happened last night.

She had a song in her mind, something she had wanted to hear and couldn't wait to get home and download. But when she got home, she double clicked on her shortcut icon to Limewire, and it wouldn't let her load. She asked Sarah what was up, and Sarah told her what she did. Milla went onto Sarah's desktop, into her recycle bin and restored the deleted shortcut to Limewire. After which she emptied the recycle bin. The program didn't load, the restored shortcut icon was useless, words were spat out and credit cards flown back and forth.

The bottom line: Don't shell out money for a file pirating program. Just download one for free.