We just got back a day ago, but I’m hankering to share my trip. I’ve decided to do it in three parts. The first blog will be some experiences on the spiritual side that I had while there. The second one will be a travelogue. If you don’t enjoy travelogues, there will be plenty of pictures, so you can skip the writing and just look at the pictures or skip to the next blog! The third will be tips and tricks for traveling to Hawaii with kids. Okay, so here we go!

There are three experiences that come to mind that brought gospel principles to my mind or touched my heart.

On the second full day we were there we went on a “whale watching excursion” unfortunately, we didn’t see any whales, but the kids had a blast riding the waves on the big boat and getting splashed or as the crew called it, “kissed by the sea.” Since they were right at the bow of the boat, they had a good view of the water as we went along. Bevy ran up to me while we were moving and said, “Mom, what is a flat fish called?” I wasn’t sure what she was referring to, so I did my best. “An eel?” She ran off and told the boys, “I just saw an eel in the water!” Later on the trip, she was looking at an ocean animal sticker book I had bought Harvey and pointed to a Manta Ray and said, “This is what I saw Mama!” First of all, I thought how cool! I love Manta Rays! But secondly, I thought how difficult it must’ve been for prophets of old who saw our time describe the various things they saw. Not to mention the many translations of the old and New Testament. Andy shared a story during our family scripture study last night where they had received intel from one group in Kafiri, then Pashto, and finally English. They were told to retrieve an item that was spiky and very large, when in fact when they found it, it was a small black box. This is why modern day revelation is so important. The prophets are seers and able to explain that this “flat fish” the old prophets saw was not an eel, but in fact a large, graceful Manta Ray (metaphorically speaking, that is).

The second gospel doctrine I had reaffirmed was about gratitude. I felt so much gratitude being able to be in that beautiful state. It was truly paradise. I can imagine my heaven will be similar, with the mountains looming over the massive ocean. In fact, I must have this image ingrained in me from my childhood, because when I go to my meditative happy place, the wilderness of Hawaii against the crisp blue, clear shoreline is what I imagine. Four days after we had been there, we went to Wesley’s birthday party. While reclining on the couch, Wesley’s mom, Ellie said, “You look exhausted.” I said, “I feel exhausted! We’ve been going non-stop since we got here.” She said, “Yeah, y’all have done more in the few days you’ve been here than I have the entire time I’ve lived here!” It made me realize that maybe I take the beauty around me for granted. Do I take the many blessings surrounding me and not take the time to notice them? Are we sitting in the middle of paradise and not savoring it? I feel this way when I look to my family. My husband, my kids. Some days I’m just plain exhausted, but do I realize how truly blessed I am to have them in my life? I think if we take the time to be grateful and enjoy those blessings we will see how blessed we really are.

The third experience I had was when we visited two different temples. On Sunday, we went to the Japanese Buddhist temple. As we drove up through a cemetery, you could feel the reverence and peace that rested there. We opened our doors and heard a repeating gong in the distance. As we got closer, we had the opportunity to ring the gong ourselves. Its melodic tones reverberated against us. We paid our respects by removing our shoes then entering their temple where Buddha sat. The kids burned incense and we put our shoes back on. They had a beautiful pond in front where the kids were able to feed the coy, swan, and little sparrows (for a price of course). And then we left. I asked the kids how they felt there. They said, “Peaceful.” I agreed. It was very peaceful.

A few days later we went to the LDS temple in Laie. I learned a lot about that town and the building of the temple while we visited the visitor center. The locals created the Hukilau for tourists to create revenue which ended up helping build not only their meeting house (that was their main goal) but enough money to build a temple as well. I felt a great sense of respect for their sacrifices. As we walked away from the temple, I asked the kids what they felt. They said, “happy,” “love,” “like a warm hug.” Then we talked about that. The spirit talks to us through those feelings. I said, think about the Buddhist temple we went to. How did this feel different than that? They said, “This was feels like God’s love. That one was peaceful, but nothing more.” I told them that other faiths have elements of truth that can bring the spirit, but the fullness of the gospel is found in the restored church. The reason they felt God’s love is because He does love them, and he resides there and in all holy places. Sometimes that can be your heart, your home, or wherever you’re reaching out to him. It was really cool to be able to compare those two experiences.

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