Sunday, February 17, 2013

Oahu: Day 4

Sunday.  We had our church meetings at the Hukilau Chapel, which has an interesting bit of local history.

See, back in 1940, the wooden LDS chapel in La'ie was destroyed by fire.  Members of the Church, led by Viola Kehau Kawahigashi, decided to put together a fundraiser so they could rebuild their meetinghouse. They decided to host a hukilau (a traditional net-fishing method) at the nearby La'ie Beach, with a dinner and hula show to follow. People who attended the hukilau were charged $5.00 a head, and the members took in $1,250 at the first hukilau gathering in 1947. These events were so popular that they continued to be held regularly as a local tourist attraction until 1970.  Not only did these Church-sponsored gatherings bring in enough money to rebuild the chapel, they also inspired songwriter Jack Owens to write "The Hukilau Song," and eventually these dinner-and-dance shows led to the founding of...

...this place.  The beach where these shindigs were held was renamed Hukilau Beach...

 ...which it is called to this day.  So there's your serving of Useless Trivia for the day!

One of the side effects of rebuilding a meetinghouse in piecemeal fashion is that the Hukilau Chapel is oddly stitched together, as though local builders just cobbled together additions as they could afford them.  Consequently, some rooms are not directly accessible from the main building, and you have to go outside and walk around the grounds to enter, say, the Primary room.  On at least one occasion the Church has considered demolishing the Hukilau Chapel and building a standard chapel in its place, but let's just say that didn't meet with local approval.  People worked and sacrificed to build that chapel, and they have an emotional investment in the building, warts and all.  I can understand that.

The meetinghouse is also an odd mix of local and non-local details.  The jalousie windows let in the light and the wind from the sea, which only makes sense in the local climate.  But the standard metal folding chairs found in nearly every LDS chapel in North America don't fare so well in these conditions; almost every chair shows signs of rust and corrosion from the humid sea air.

And, as always, there were chickens.  My friend Laurence gave me a haiku challenge to sum up the Sunday experience on Oahu -- the peace of a church meeting, the sound of the wind in the banana plants, etc. -- and I came up with this:

Hukilau Chapel
Bands of chickens roam the streets
Cluck cluck cluck, swish swish

Yeah, that's about right.

After church, Caryn decided that even though it was February we should have a Thanksgiving dinner together as a family.  So we gathered together and had turkey and all the trimmings, and pretty much put ourselves into a food coma for a few hours after that.

Rising from our coma like zombies, we decided to follow Brian and Teddy the Wonder Dog on their evening constitutional to the BYU Hawaii campus.  Teddy has done this so many times that if you try to walk him somewhere else, he gets confused and starts pulling you in a different direction (as Miss V found out when she tried to take him for a walk).

This institution was originally called the Church College of Hawaii.  There's a long tradition in the Church of encouraging members to get a postsecondary education, and it was difficult and expensive for Church members in Polynesia to attend BYU in Provo, so the Church founded this college on Oahu.  It became a university in 1974.

The McKay Building entrance features a mosaic of Church president David O. McKay with a large number of Hawaiian school children; across the top of the mosaic are the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, and along the bottom is the motto of the state of Hawaii:  Ua Mau ke Ea o ka 'Δ€ina i ka Pono (The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness).

A little more info on the mosaic.

And now, because I must keep a promise (and because this building is conveniently located between BYU-Hawaii and the PCC):

Behold: THE ENCHANTED TIKI McDONALD'S!

This building is truly odd.  Apparently it started out as some sort of wedding venue in La'ie, but was later bought and transmogrified into a McDonald's restaurant.  It has a two-story fake waterfall inside, and it offers a localized McDonald's menu with taro pie, haupia pie, banana pie, saimin, and a half-dozen items with Spam in them.  So that's fun.

Next up: our last day.

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