HAWAII

HAWAII

Hawaii has played a special role in our lives.  We have been there many times in many difference capacities.

1968 WESTERN JURISDICTIONAL CONFERENCE

We went to Alaska as Home Missionaries in 1962 and we were disenfranchised in the United Methodist Church, as far as the laity were concerned. Clergy were from “somewhere” and we could participate there.  However, we were granted voice, without vote in the Western Jurisdictional Conference. I found myself in the running for the clergy position in 1968.  When I found out the meeting would be in Honolulu, I embraced the possibility. I bribed the spouses, promising them flowers (lei) if they could get their husbands to vote for me. I was running neck and neck with a former superintendent and the person who recruited me for work in Alaska: Dr. Fred McGinnis. He was then President of Alaska Methodist University. I found out he would be going anyway, so that was another reason not to withdraw in his favor. One would never know, but I don’t think he was pleased to see me competing  against him for this position. Eventually, he withdrew in favor of Dr. Shaffer. The sarcasm seemed obviously to me. No sooner than I was elected, I found that I had a task. Advocating for Alaska to have its own bishop. I gave it my best shot and didn’t get a single vote. Part of the reason was that Bishop Gerald Kennedy ridiculed the idea from the chair. Later in life, I would have challenged him for his completely inappropriate behavior, but then I just took it in stride, complaining privately.  Later I learned that Bishop Kennedy summarized his four years of leadership in Alaska with the statement:  “It was cold in Alaska.”  I also learned that during his four years in Alaska, he presided over the Annual Meeting two times. That would have been good material to use in challenging him for his poor stewardship as a bishop of Alaska.

After the meeting, we took a tour with many other people under the leadership of Dr. Frank Butterworth, the superintendent of the Methodist work in Hawaii.  We dined in ethnic churches in Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai.  It was a good introduction to Hawaii.

MELVIN AND MARIAN DADD and HILO on the Big Island of Hawaii

In retirement, Barbara’s parents spent time in Hilo, on the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island every winter. They had a standing offer with their children: you get yourself to Hilo and we will take care of your room and board. We took advantage of that several times, including February 19-28, 1985, when we also went to Kailua-Kona. Our favorite restaurant was Leung’s Chop Suey House in Hilo. The four of us could eat 3 entrees and give a generous tip for $20.00.  A couple of years ago Barbara and I returned and we could eat 2 entrees and give a generous tip for $20.  We also got to see the generations grow up and take over the business.

The Dadd’s also treated us to a helicopter trip over the lava flows and eruptions. Awesome.

HANA, MAUI

When Barbara was the Special Assistant to the Governor of Alaska, her first supervisor was Lowell Thomas Jr.  He and Tay Thomas had a cabin at Hana. Western Airlines had a triangle fare. You could fly from the west coast to Alaska via Hawaii for $15 extra. Barbara arranged to stay in their cabin and she visited the local Congregational pastor in Hana, learning about their minister of the month program. Pastors could serve for one month with home and car provided. All the pastor had to do was pay the airline fare. I applied. The church said it would be a five year wait.  No problem.  There was an opening in March 1981 and they asked if I wanted to take it.  I did.  I was in my last year in Nome and I felt the need for a break before getting on with the rest of my life.

We were there for five weeks. I learned how to swim in a heated swimming pool at a nearby resort. And I tested some new techniques in preaching. When an 80 year old woman from California (staying at the resort across the street from the church) shook my hand at the door leaving church and said: “Young man, you just preached me back into the church.” I felt I was onto something and I never looked back.

One of our highlights was leaving a chicken wish bone on the guest room bed to dry. Soon I discovered millions of tiny ants marching down the cover, to the wall and then outside we could see them moving this food up a tree. Where it went from there I do not know. We removed the source of food and invited them to leave.

My responsibilities including preaching five Sundays, conducting a Thursday evening Bible Study and opening the church building every morning at 7 p.m. At one Bible Study, a centipede crawled into a woman’s sandal and was so distraught that it was the end of the Bible Study for her (and us). When we found cockroaches in our kitchen, the trustees suggested we leave for a day and the house was “treated”.  We were grateful.

Many people know that Charles Lindbergh decided to die in Hana. He is buried at Palapaia Ho’omau Church Cemetery in Kipahulu. (see more details later in this series of articles)  When it was my time to preach there, Anne Morrow Lindbergh let it be known that she would prefer the lay pastor, so we sat behind her and some members of her family.

One Sunday Lowell and Tay Thomas came to church with her father, Sam Pryor, former vice-president of Pan American airlines and a builder of airfields in North Africa during World War II. He had pet gibbons.  Occasionally they came to church with him, but that Sunday the gibbon had misbehaved, so he had to stay in the car. I will never know if my preaching would have impressed the gibbon or not. These gibbons are also buried (with tombstones) very close to where Charles Lindbergh is buried. Some locals were not pleased. Access to this cemetery is not easy. The traffic bothered these same locals and signage is lacking.

The church realized that the “Minister of the Month” program was not good for pastoral relationships and they were planning to call a pastor. We were slightly tempted to apply, though it would have meant a great reduction in compensation. When we decided we would not apply, Barbara attempted to give them a lesson in reality, but we don’t know if we succeeded. When we mentioned money for books, the representative of the church pointed out that the parsonage had a library.  Some library. It had six (or was it twelve?) copies of James Michener’s “Hawaii”.  They seemed to be more interested in a chaplain than in a pastor.  But they eventually struck pay dirt when they called Rev. Edith Wolfe as their pastor.

I was so impressed with her sermon summaries in the church newsletter that we arranged to visit Hana again in March of 1987, just to hear her preach. When we introduced ourselves to her, she requested that I preach, but when I explained why we were there, she did preach. Termites threatened the future of the church roof and she organized the raising of $400,000 to replace the roof and upgrade the building. Her ashes are buried in the grave yard at Hananalua Church in Hana. A remarkable woman in her own right.

We visited once more in 2012 in November to celebrate my 75th birthday. The grounds were upgraded and the church continues to make its witness in Hana, Maui, Hawaii. We stayed at Waianapanapa State Park. We enjoyed the food trucks that seem to be a feature of the town now.

WRITTEN SUMMARY OF OUR MARCH 1981 EXPERIENCE IN HANA:  “ONE MONTH IN HEAVENLY HANA”

The village of Hana is not far from the main airport on Maui, but the route is one of the more famous, for one has to travel up and down the coast around 450 curves and over 54 bridges. T-shirts proclaim “I survived the road to Hana”. Portions of it are just wide enough for two Volkswagons to pass comfortably. Otherwise, one has to pull over and stop or swerve at just the right time.

At the beginning of this century, the land around Hana was producing sugar cane, but supply costs made this difficult, so the area was purchased by one person and turned into a picturesque cattle ranch. Perhaps one of the more poignant stories involves the individual given the responsibility of killing the grass in the sugar cane fields. For years he supervised this task. Just prior to his retirement, his last duty as to plant grass for the cattle.

The local economy is not good, but the other basic industry is found at the Hana Maui, a luxury resort or as they describe it on a brochure: “Thoughtfully informal luxury in Old Hawaii.” They have avoided the high rise mentality of portions of the island and the surf swimming and viewing is among the best in the islands. One of the church members there gave us a pass to the hotel’s heated swimming pool, so that occupied a portion of each day.

One of our tourist trips took us to the top of 10,000 Hakealakia Crater, with lovely views down into the 3,000 foot deep crater. Last year they experience 40 inches of rain on portions of this Crater in three days, with resultant stoppage of travel in several areas.

Issues facing many of the islanders are similar to Alaska: land-use planning provides debates between those who wish more parks and those who are happy with what exists; native Hawaiians are struggling with issues of land claims, too; a growing crime rate in the larger cities is also a major concern.

Hawaii is a good place to relax and soak up some sun. No worry about freeze-ups, but there were plenty of little bugs to make food storage interesting. We learned that someone had imported mongooses to kill rats and both have flourished, for rats sleep all day and mongooses sleep all night – they have yet to meet one another. We didn’t meet any rats either, but there were plenty of mongooses around – pleasant animals that reminds me of ground squirrels.

Hawaii has lots of flowers and fresh fruit. We were there in their winter, so some fruits were out of season, but we enjoyed visiting a pineapple plantation and observing some of the activities in harvesting sugar cane.

The church we served for the month was built in 1938 – took 20 years of work with lava rock and coral. The size of the congregation was small, with lots of tourists at each service. All in all, a most pleasant experience.

UNITED METHODIST WOMEN

The United Methodist Women Quadrennial Jurisdiction meeting was held in Honolulu in April of 2008 when Barbara was President of the Core Planning Group. I got to go with her when she did some of the needed negotiations with the hotel. We were treated to a $75 steak meal by the staff of the Sheridan Waikiki.

I also went for the meeting, climbing 763′ Diamond Head Crater for the first time and just enjoying the experience. Sadly, I had an allergic reaction to something and I had to stay out of the sun. But I got to see a giant green turtle from our suite. Swimmers were unaware of how close they were.

FRIENDS

We were invited to Molokai to stay with friends in 2011.

We were treated to a free time share condo on Kauai, also in 2011 and again by friends. We included Barbara’s sister.

We will go to Hawaii “at the hint of a ticket” and recent trips have taken advantage of introductory offers on Alaska Airlines from Bellingham to new airports on the various islands.

TRIPS

We have gone to Hawaii twelve times.  As I said, we like Hawaii, though I would not want to live there.  Bugs are part of life and the weather is so predictable except when there are strong winds or tidal waves. They do occasionally experience hurricanes or tropical storms or cyclones. We prefer some changes in the length of the days as we experience them in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think I want to be there in a storm.   Summary:  1968 (Western Jurisdiction Conference) to four islands; 1976 Barbara to Hana; 1978; 1981 at Hana; 1985 Hilo with Dadd’s; 1987 Hilo with Dadd’s and Hana; 1992  Last Dadd trip to Hilo; 2006 Oahu; 2008 Western Jurisdiction UMW on Oahu; 2011 Molokai; Hilo and Oahu; 2011 Kauai at a condo loaned to us by a friend (new route from Bellingham); 2012 John’s 75th birthday on Maui (new route from Bellingham;

MOLOKAI

We have been there twice, but have yet to visit the leper colony at Kalaupapa.  Our second trip was in 2011 with friends. We were planning to take the trip down the ridge on horses (mules), but the price discouraged us. Life there is very laid back, as advertised. The island provides an example of successful efforts at slowing down development. A very rich corporation wanted to do certain things to their property and the locals were successful in blocking them. In response, they shut down their entire operation (perhaps as a form of punishment). The locals did not feel punished, though I didn’t talk to anyone who lost employment.

LINDBERGH Connection

This connection is in Hana, Maui, Hawaii, located at the end of a road with 600 curves.

Years ago in a place far, far away, Barbara Dadd Shaffer held the position of Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Alaska. One of her colleagues was the Lt. Gov. named Lowell Thomas Jr. he was married to Tay Pryor Thomas.

Her father, Sam Pryor, was Vice-President of Pan-Am Airlines during and after World War II. Charles Lindbergh was on the Board of Directors of Pam-Am. Sam Pryor purchased a large estate on Maui in Hawaii and he allowed Charles Lindbergh to purchase a portion of his estate for a vacation home.

When Lindbergh was dying he insisted on returning to Hana for his death and burial. He wanted to escape the glare of media attention during the dying process and after his death. he was buried in a small cemetery next to a rural Hawaiian Congregational Church.

Immediately after his death a small tourist industry was created by persons visiting that gravesite. One thousand people per day on an average, which pleased the service station owners, but not all of the locals, who felt their remote piece of paradise was being invaded.

Barbara learned two thing:

1. Lowell and Tay Thomas also had a vacation home near the Pryor Estate.

2. Western Airlines had a triangle fare from the West Coast to Alaska via Hawaii. This meant one could travel to Hawaii for approximately $30 over regular Alaska-West Coast fares.

So she was bold enough to ask Lowell if she could use his “cabin” for a vacation trip on one of her church business trips to the “Lower 48” as we affectionately call the rest of the country. The cabin was located in the middle of a cow pasture, which might be another story.

She visited with the pastor of the main Congregational Church (professional courtesy sort of thing) and learned that the pastors of this parish served one month at a time. They recruited pastors under a sort of “pastor of the month” plan and had been doing so for several years. When she returned to Nome and told me the details, I immediately applied for this opportunity. The committee leader discouraged me, saying they had a three-year waiting time. I responded that we liked to plan ahead, so please put us on the list. They did. A short time later they called to indicated that they had an opening for March of 1981 and we were able to go.

While there, we visited the cottage where Lindbergh lived while waiting to die. It was the guesthouse of one of the members. We had lunch with Sam Pryor and Tay and Lowell Thomas (they were there on vacation, too). And one Sunday afternoon, we worshipped at the rural church (a lay speaker was scheduled for the service that day at Palapala Ho’omau Congregational Church) and Anne Morrow Lindbergh and two of her children were in attendance. She was very gracious. We also visited the burial site nearby. The grave marker has the words of Psalm 139:9 “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.” Thus ends our Lindbergh connection.

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JUNEAU UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (1969-1974)

Serving the Juneau United Methodist Church came about with the help of my predecessor, Thomas Dahl, who lobbied for my appointment. Tom stayed in the congregation for a brief period of time, serving as the Director of the Model Cities program. I was instrumental in “saving” the Youth Hostel program that was housed in the former parsonage and Christian Education building. When the State of Alaska took the property through a process of “imminent domain”, my workload was very, very heavy. There were many valid options: relocating and building a new building, merging with the Presbyterian Church or merging with a nearby United Methodist Church in Douglas. As I recall the vote to merge with the Presbyterians passed by a vote of 17-15. Common wisdom is that one should not allow such a vote to take place, but there was no other option, as we did lose the building and had to go somewhere.

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF CHUGIAK

In my ministerial journey in Alaska, I had served three years in the Kenai Parish and Bishop Grant had agreed to have me stay in Alaska. Anchor Park was open, but given the attitudes of that day, it was felt by both the Superintendent and the Bishop that going to Anchor Park would be too much of an increase for such a young pastor. So, in their wisdom, they moved a very popular pastor from Chugiak to Anchor Park and they moved me to Chugiak. Some of the people in Chugiak were very, very unhappy. They protested, but to no avail. When my appointment was read at the Annual Meeting, a lay person (O. W. “Bill” Lowe) who had fought to keep Leo, came bounding across Grant Auditorium and shaking his finger in my face he said: “I want you to know that we fought like hell to keep Leo…(I waited for the hammer to drop, shrinking in size) and we will fight like hell to keep you.”  My size restored to normal. One major advantage is that I was not only a personal friend of Leo’s, but I had been a player in the Birchwood Camp, so I was known. It helped. However, Leo was only moved 15 miles or so from Chugiak and when a crisis came up in one family, they called Leo instead of me. Leo drove out to Chugiak from Anchorage and we visited the family together and then Leo disappeared. To my knowledge, he was not called again. It helped that we were friends.

Shortly after getting settled, I met with some of the “men” of the church and told them that I knew a significant amount of money was available to build a new sanctuary. I wanted their advice as to whether to make that a priority of my ministry or should we wait awhile. They said “full speed ahead” and that is what I did. With the help of strong laypersons like Harold Abrams and Stan Nickerson, the building process went smoothly. A contractor wanted to keep his crew together through a winter, so he gave us a very low bid. By and large, it was a wonderful experience. Harold Abrams was responsible for lots of construction at a nearby military base and he would stop by every evening on his way home and check out the process. When it came time to approve the architect’s color scheme for the sanctuary, we hit a rough spot. To save money, he had authorized rough beams (cheaper) and they were to be stained a light green to hid the imperfections and fit in with the total color scheme. Bill Lowe (remember him) wanted to change the recommendation to leaving them natural. Harold Abrams said “troubles come when you tamper with the vision of the architect.  He should know! Bill Lowe, when he was outvoted blew up and announced he was leaving the church. Later in the evening I went to his home, affirmed that his views were valued and stayed until about 2 a.m., reflecting on the situation. He stayed in the church. Years later, he and his wife  visited us in Spokane and he proudly announced that the beams had been sanded and were now their natural color. He had won! By this time the architect was dead, so no feelings were hurt. I visited the church with the natural beams and it looked okay.  It only took him nearly 30 years to get his own way. One can never live life over again, but I had less patience in my older years with bullying behavior. That night I had compassion.

The color scheme matched the outdoor trees on May 15th when spring arrived. For two weeks, you couldn’t tell where the building ended and the world began.

We also had a battle over the glass windows installed at both ends of the sanctuary. They were to be tinted. The Mission Superintendent informed us that we could not have the windows because he was contributing $60,000 to the project. If we didn’t change the windows to more inexpensive walls, we couldn’t have the money. We had a meeting with the local church committee and it was my task to tell the Superintendent that if we couldn’t have the windows, we didn’t want his money. He relented. We got the money.  It would be hard for the reader to visualize this, but walking down the center aisle of the church, occasionally we could see Mt. McKinley about 160 miles away. Once I just gave up preaching and turned to enjoy the view myself. No one was listening to me.

We had a wonderful study group in the church, with one resident fundamentalist (maybe two) and one agnostic, if not atheist. We had loving, dynamic, respectful discussions. A rare experience in ministry. After some counseling, the agnostic gifted me with a moose horn lamp, which we still treasure.

Part of my responsibility was being in charge of Birchwood Camp. We finished a lodge and upgraded the camp with cabins (from tents) and eventually had a resident caretaker, which took a lot of responsibility from my shoulders. Since I didn’t get paid, I gave myself the title of Camp Superintendent.

Since I am telling Bill Lowe stories, his wife became ill and he was unable to do his annual float on a river to get a moose. So his church friends gathered money and it was my task to give the money to him so he could do an airplane hunt and get his annual moose in just a few hours. As Bill often did, he got angry and rejected the offer. “He was not a charity case. He could pay his own way.” I was not sent home empty handed, but with money I would have to return to the donors. Then I got angry and I went back to his home, telling him that it was his duty to his friends to receive this gift from his friends. “Well, if you put it that way”, he relented and took the money and I didn’t have to return it to the donors. He won’t let down his friends.

A great deal of financial support came from the Pittsfield Methodist Church in Pittsfield, Illinois. I sent them some moose meat for a wild game dinner. I shot my own, I didn’t ask for any of Bill’s moose. Merice Richner painted a large painting of the Chugiak area (priceless now) as a gift to the church in gratitude for their support. I checked recently and the church still had the painting.

James Kirsch offered to sand the parsonage logs and then restain them. He spent months on the job. What an offer! I experimented with having dogs, as Stan Nickerson dropped a German Shepherd/Husky mix by my house. He didn’t tell me she was pregnant. She had one puppy. The dog was wonderful. Always sat beside me when I was driving the new truck to Birchwood Camp.

One time the daughter of the camp watchperson called to tell me that a dog team and sled had come into camp empty. I told her that they should not pet them.  (too late)  Dogs can be vicious.  I drove there as quickly as I could. I found the dog musher on the camp road, looking very upset. I asked him to get in the truck, which he did. I told him I knew where his team was and we were quickly there. He was so grateful that he offered the young girl the pick of his kennel. Her mother started to say “no”, but I assured her I would be the backup, if they didn’t want the dog. Soon I owned another dog. Eventually I gave that dog to a beginning dog musher and she became her leader and won at least one race in Fairbanks.

Speaking of Fairbanks, in 1957 there was a great flood in Fairbanks and I went with a group of young men from St. John to clean out the church basement.  There were feet of gravel on the floor. We hauled it out five gallons at a time. I never recovered physically (lower back) and it became my role to get the young men motivated and focused. We slept in a shelter set up at a local school gymnasium.  Biggest learning: if you have a basement in a flood zone, fill the basement with clean water and the basement walls with not cave in and the damage will not be as great. You heard it first here.

JUNEAU UNITED METHODIST CHURCH (1969-1974)

Juneau United Methodist Church was a very unique appointment, as the church property was taken from us by a process of imminent domain by the State of Alaska to build a new court house. We merged with Northern Light Presbyterian Church to become Northern Light United Church. In the merger we kept their name (primarily because I liked it) and the Presbyterians were then gracious enough to pray the Lord’s Prayer the United Methodist way. In 2014 we returned for the 40th anniversary of this new church and found that it was thriving. This made me feel good.