Aloha Kakou! The team has nicely settled into our Hawaiian home! Since last checking in, we finished exploring Oahu, ventured to a new island, and completed two new service projects. With a few days left in Oahu, we made one particularly important stop – Pearl Harbor. It was a powerful learning experience for us all, as the interactive museum, local speaker, and short film outlined the events of this tragedy. Following this, we took a boat ride into the harbor to see where much of it took place. Students were humbled after seeing the remains of the USS Arizona and other ships.
The following day, we transitioned into another day of service at the Boys and Girls Club of Waianae. Trip members took charge of three activity stations that they designed specifically for the kids. They worked on their leadership skills, activity planning and development, and perfected how to have fun while fulfilling a service role.
The three stations of sports, arts and crafts and games kept the 7 to 12-year-old children happy, entertained, and ecstatic that “Westcoast kids are back!” Emmi, Arielle, Anna and Peyton ran the game center, instructing the rules of their aptly designed obstacle course. Kickball and Capture the Flag were led by Molly, Izzy, Emily and Maddox. They played on the excitement from older kids, and giggled their way through keeping the attention of the younger ones. Oriana, Liv, Markus, Leila, Amalia and Ruby picked up their paint palettes and led kids down a creative art path. Bookmarks and paper “fortune tellers” gave everyone something to take back with them as a memento of their time on this special day of service. Trip members found this service the most rewarding. They made genuine connections with kids that seemed to resonate not only with the children, but with trip members as well. Some trip members were moved to happy tears over how sweet the children were, mentioning that they were “sad that they will never see them again.” Everyone is looking forward to another service trip at the B&G Club in Maui.
To end our time in Oahu, we spent the day relaxing at Waimanalo Beach for the Fourth of July! We enjoyed mind-boggling views of the mountain meeting teal waters just beyond our reach. Finishing the day off with a scenic drive home along the coast and fireworks near the beach made for a true Hawaiian holiday, and a magical end to our last day in Oahu.
A quick hop, skip and jump, and we landed in Kauai. The Garden Island, the wettest spot on Earth and the most rural place we have visited yet! Kauai has been well-liked by trip members for its unpolished, natural beauty! So far, we have volunteered at the local Habitat for Humanity, where the head of the shop could not have been kinder to us. She organized everyone into three groups that worked on: landscaping and outdoor beautification, refurbishing tables and reorganizing clothes. At the end of our time there, she brought us to the outside of the ReStore building to explain the cultural meaning of the mural painted along the wall. It told the story of Kauai, what happened to its people and the sacredness of how the mural itself was put together. Brightly colored paint diluted with water from the most sacred waters of Kauai faded from blue to green, yellow to red, onward to create a rainbow-paneled representation of the story of Kauai. It was a day of work rich in service, culture and learning.
After volunteering at the ReStore, we headed up the road for a swim at Salt Pond beach. Volcanic remains protected the bay-like shoreline from powerful waves, and created a beautiful mini waterfall. A laid-back afternoon on a Hawaiian beach was the perfect way to spend our first afternoon on Kauai.
The following day, our group learned to surf in one of the best beginner spots in the world. Hanalei Bay provided breathtaking views of mountains and waterfalls, and gave everyone waves to ride! The challenge to stand up was something everyone took on and everyone accomplished– more than once!
And now, we come to today’s adventures. A cruise down the Wailua River to a geological wonder, the fern grotto, took us into the heart of a rainforest. Interesting leafy plants sprouting red, waxy flowers and a small waterfall cutting its way through the trees lined the path to the grotto. Trip members took in the views, and enjoyed the live Hawaiian music and dancing on the boat ride back to shore.
To end the day, we brought in “Auntie,” our hula instructor. On the lawn of the hotel looking out to the water, Auntie taught us five verses of a traditional Kauaian song and hula dance. Everyone was eager to learn the meaning behind each motion of the dance, and was even more excited to try the dance. It was a cultural experience as much as it was a spiritual one, and the group impressed Auntie with how well we could hula dance. Auntie’s excitement almost turned to tears of joy watching the group flow so well together.
It has been an out of this world trip so far. We look forward to visiting Waipa Farms in the morning to continue our service mission here in Kauai! Huli Pau (Cheers!)
The Westcoast Blogger