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Friday, August 22, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 9/15/2001 - Updated: 1 year ago

Warm Hawaiian hospitality provides many fond memories

HONOLULU - Last weekend here was filled with good memories to bring home. No, I didn't sit in the sand at Waikiki, hang out at a big hotel there, go to Diamond Head, or do any of the other things tourists do.

It was ironic that the Rev. Piula Alailima's Sunday sermon was “Opening Doors” because it fit my last Saturday on Oahu.

Anyone who has followed my Hawaiian adventures may remember that Pastor Piula was at the United Methodist Church in Lahaina on Maui and was beloved by a large following, including the woman from Michigan and Ohio who sat in the fourth pew at attention as he imparted the Polynesian spirit, bare-footed, wearing a lava lava (Samoan skirt), and often playing the guitar and singing. He resigned from that church more than a year ago. When I heard that he had accepted the position at Kailua, a half hour drive from Honolulu, I was determined to renew the acquaintance.

It was Pastor Piula's second Sunday at the small church, where a big welcome is extended to visitors. David Jeong had a greeting that shouldn't have been such a surprise because I am always meeting people with “back-home ties.” But, it was unexpected when Mr. Jeong shook hands and said, “So you are from Michigan. I went to a dance once in Michigan in a little town called Adrian.”

Mr. Jeong explained that as a student at Bowling Green State University, he was invited on a blind date to a dance at Siena Heights College at Adrian. After graduating from BGSU in 1957, he taught school in Cleveland before returning to his native Hawaii to continue his teaching career.

After the service and after Pastor Piula had told the congregation that I write for The Blade, Barbara Clegg extended another warm Hawaiian welcome. She and her husband, James, lived in Maumee when he worked at the Rossford depot. She was active in the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority in Toledo and continues her membership in Hawaii. The Cleggs have lived in Kailua since 1964.

The “Opening Doors” sermon on Sunday occurred before a double happening on Saturday. After you have spent a week or so in a hotel room, you appreciate an invitation to a real home. Thus, I thoroughly enjoyed an invitation to supper at the home of Wendy and Tony Park, at Aiea, another small Oahu town a short distance from Honolulu.

Wendy was stirring a pot of chili on the stove and Tony was tidying the lawn when I arrived. Their lovely three-bedroom home overlooks the city and is graced by two giant mango trees. Before I left, I used an extension pole with a wire basket at the end to pull down three ripe mangoes.

A first-time visit to Honolulu's Chinatown Saturday was, in a way, opening doors. John Jones, a Toledoan who lived on Maui and spent time in Honolulu, advised getting there in early morning to watch Chinatown wake up.

I didn't make it that early, but the midmorning visit to Chinatown was delightful and something other Honolulu visitors should include. Souvenirs are more reasonably priced than they are in Waikiki. The most fascinating feature to me were the several groups of women gathered around tables in flower shops making leis. They are seated close enough to the sidewalk so that you can watch them tediously string the leis one fragrant flower at a time. Then, the best news: The leis in Chinatown are about $3. Such a deal.

Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at mpowell@theblade.com.



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