When you turn in mission papers not only can you get called anywhere in the whole wide world to serve for those two years (or 18 months if you're a girl), you never know when you'll be called to leave either.
Max put December 18th as his "availability date" for when he could leave but we had no idea whether it would be months or weeks after that date. He put it that early because that's right when his semester at BYU ended and he was anxious to just get out there and serve. Most of his friends are already gone and he's ready to join them and also he wants/needs to be home in two years in time enough to begin winter semester at college the beginning of January 2018. We have no idea how that will all pan out now that his date is not until January 27th, but something tells me it will all work out just fine.
Once again I digress. The point of all that rambling is to say that the night Max opened his mission call (back HERE) and found out he wouldn't be leaving until the end of January, Dave and I decided right then and there to give our kids "togetherness" for Christmas by seizing the opportunity to steal them away for one last trip together over the break.
We went to Oahu and soaked up every single second of family time we got there.
Even the ones when one of us got huffy:)
Because we were together. And like I said in the last post, there's nothing to make you soak in your family more than the knowledge that the very fiber of it will be morphing into something different very soon.
And I like the "fiber" right now gosh darn it!
(More about the Hawaii temple later but I like that goofy picture of those people I adore so much.)
Mission or no mission, kids grow up. I am so happy for Max and this adventure he's heading out on, couldn't ask for a better thing for him to be doing, but it sure makes me extra grateful for the chances we've had to be together before he leaves.
We also went to check out the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet which was kinda fun.
Of course we had to pick up things like shell necklaces and some coconut salt water taffy.
Ever since we first went to Hawaii years ago, Dave has been in love with Waikiki Beach.
It strikes me as kind of funny because he abhors touristy things. But it's all about the surfing for him. He loves it and the waves there are pretty great (we took surfing lessons back then and it was pretty dreamy). So he naturally wanted to take the kids and show him that beach and all it's touristy, great-wave glory.
It didn't take long to get them hooked.
It was sprinkling on and off which felt great...until some very large black clouds rolled in and it started pouring:
Maybe that might have changed Dave's view of Waikiki, but somehow I think not :)
We hustled ourselves over to Cheeseburger in Paradise in what felt like a torrential downpour.
Especially when they have little paper umbrellas that go in cups. Is there anything better?
Of course it was all cleared up with rainbows by the time we left.
On Sunday we found the nearest church and loved the meeting there.
There was a returned missionary speaking and I loved watching Max's whole self concentrate on what he was saying.
I love that in Hawaii they say "Aloha!" before they begin their talks, and then the audience says it back. I also love that in this specific ward (congregation) they had a tradition of singing "Aloha'Oe" at the end of the meeting when someone is moving away. (Maybe they do that everywhere in Hawaii but this was new to me.)
The words were pasted in the back of the hymn book and everyone stood to sing to the man who was moving away. Through the song everyone came up and gave him big hugs and leis. I don't know how to explain the sweetness of that scene.
We loved taking the kids to Pearl Harbor and learning so much history there.
We headed over to the East side of the island through gorgeous tunnels like this:
...to a gorgeous hike in Lanikai up some grassy ridges to two old pillboxes (army guard posts). It's called Pillbox Hike and it was extra glorious with kids in tow.
See that cute trio in the front?
I love them and also this view.
Max stood at the top of one of the peaks and contemplated for a minute.
Dave and Lu got a head start down the mountain while the bigger kids and I raced to the second pillbox.
Serious satisfaction back at the trailhead: