Thirty-three years after we first held hands on Valentines Day, 1988, Jenny and I spent ten magical days on Maui. We had recently learned from the Prepare and Enrich marriage assessment tool that the lack of leisure time was the weak link in our marriage. Ben, a friend from college who debriefed us on the tool, invited us to Maui to focus on us and have fun.
Here is our Maui adventure.
Monday, February 8
Flying into Kahului Airport I was amazed at the bright turquoise blue water. After a long wait in a long line to show our negative covid test results we picked up our Kia Sorento, shopped at Costco and headed to The Sands of Kahana resort on the northwest side of Maui. Thanks to one of Ben’s contacts, we got an incredible deal for the two-bedroom condo with spacious kitchen, dining and living room. It had a great view of the ocean from the balcony that opened from the master bedroom. For exercise we took the stairs up the four floors. Dinner that night was tamales, refried beans, lettuce and fresh salsa. When we didn’t eat out, this was our staple (For breakfast we added an egg).
At sunset we walked the beach hand in hand. I was surprised that it was dark by 6:30pm. There’s nothing like falling asleep to the sound of the crashing waves through the screen and the warm ocean air our blanket.
Tuesday, February 9
I woke early, painted in my art travel journal and waited for the sunrise at 7am. After a breakfast of tamale, eggs and salsa, Jenny and I read the morning Psalms for the day, walked on the beach and swam in the Pacific: it was cool enough to be refreshing, warm enough to stay in all day, and salty enough to float without expending much energy. We shopped in Lahaina, visited the massive banyan tree that fills an entire block, enjoyed lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise, then raced back to our condo for two Identity Mapping cohorts on zoom. We finished our day in the hot tub laughing at the jokes a three (or so) year old boy was making off the top of his head. He reminded us of our son Jacob. We realized that this is the first time we have been away together without our kids for more than a couple of days since our honeymoon, June 1992.
Wednesday, February 10
I enjoyed my morning coffee and watched the sunrise that warmed the hills behind our resort, then let the sun warm my body stretched out in the sand. Nothing in the world is more relaxing (to me) than laying in the sand listening to the pound of the waves. Ben’s wife Sharon works at the 808 Moped shop, and she set us up with the best-possible-deal on two cute mopeds: FREE! Ben met us at 9:45am and took us for a tour of northwest Maui. We drove through a few of the nine climate zones on Maui. After a tour of his and Sharon’s cozy condo with its incredible view, our next stop was at Napili beach, then north to Dragon’s Teeth, an dramatic teeth-like rock formation with waves crashing against it. We drove by golf course where the Pros play, the Plantation Course at Kapalua Bay, and the five star hotel where Ben works and the rich and famous play. Ben took us on a walk through the jungle to a beach with good snorkeling and up to the blowhole at Nakalele Point. It was a short hike and impressive reminder of the force of nature.
Ben left us to drive back on our own. We stopped for the first of three loaves of banana bread (having relaxed our Daniel’s diet for our stay in Maui). On the way back we took pictures that I later painted in my travel journal. We stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant Ben recommended. After Jenny finished up a coaching call with a pastor’s wife, we decided to take the mopeds to get shave ice that everyone had told us was a “must do.” It was a little bit nerve wracking to take the highway to Lahaina, racing there and back before the sun set. The shave ice was totally worth it and we survived the adventure! That evening when Jenny and I went for a walk on the beach to watch the sunset, someone called my name.
Jenny and I turned and saw Mike and Cathie Braziel. Mike is one of the pastors at Camano Chapel, Camano Island. Mike and Cathie were staying at the same resort as us. They have stayed at this resort for over a decade. We had a fun time catching up, talking about Maui and how important it is for pastoral couples to get away. We decided to grab coffee in the morning.
Jenny and I watched a few shows of The Bay, a BBC mystery series before crashing.
Thursday, February 11
After breakfast and dropping off the mopeds, we enjoyed coffee and with Mike and Cathie. Then we tried our hand at snorkeling. A friend had bought us great snorkels and fins. It was amazing to see the bright colored fish. Later I learned that snorkeling had been scary for Jenny, who felt like she was about to drown. From then on she left the snorkeling to me. Jenny wasn’t feeling great so we went home where she napped. I swam, napped, and read the wonderful book Art and Faith by Makota Fujimura. I was surprised by how many new ideas this small but potent book opened my eyes to see. Jenny felt better in the evening. Friends bought us a gift card for Dukes, a fancy restaurant off in Ka’anapali. We watched the sunset while waiting. It was a delicious and romantic dinner.
Today was a reminder that Jenny and I have many friends who care for us through thoughtful gifts, insightful writing, and most importantly their presence in our lives.
Friday, February 12
One of the things I treasured most on Maui was early mornings on our balcony reading Scripture, sipping coffee, studying the greens and gold of the palms, the pinks, greys and blues of the ever-changing pacific and shooting whale plumes with the Island of Molokai in the distance. I learned of Molokai by reading about Father Joseph Damien, the Catholic priest who in 1863 had gone to minister to the leper colony there. He immersed himself in the life and struggle of the lepers, loving and serving them. He eventually contracted leprosy. He began his sermon on a Sunday morning in 1885 with the words, “we lepers…” He died on Molokai in 1889. Likewise, I hope to serve Christ in a sacrificial way in the place he planted me.
Ben and Sharon picked us up for whale watching on the Gemini. It was an incredible experience to be so close to the humpback whales that are bigger than a school bus, that come to Maui to mate and give birth. We got lots of video of these majestic creatures. The whole morning was magical: to be on the water with friends amidst the glories of creation.
We had a plate lunch for lunch: two scoops of white rice, macaroni salad, and an entre (we usually ordered fish). This became our local favorite dish. We spent the rest of the day visiting art galleries and shopping in Lahaina. It was fun to buy gifts for each of our kids. We sat under the big banyan tree and waited for the sun to go down. When it did the birds stopped singing and all was still.
Saturday, February 13
A major snowstorm hit Seattle. Redeemer’s leaders scrambled to figure out what to do for worship while we relaxed in the sun and played in the water. I’m so thankful for each one who made it possible for us to get away for some R & R. We spent Saturday slowing down, enjoying our last full day at our condo, and soaking in the sun.
In the afternoon I painted in my travel journal. In the evening we visited the three mile long beautiful Ka’anapali beach. The sunset that night was glorious. We ate outdoors at Leilanis. It was so romantic. And it wasn’t even Valentine’s Day yet!
Sunday, February 14
We watched Redeemer’s online service. Jim Gibons led the liturgy and Dave Irish led worship. Jordon Lewis did a great job preaching his first sermon. It was nice to be with our spiritual family even while so far away. This was our last day in the condo. We packed our bags, tidied up, grabbed coffee and headed to Ben and Sharon’s for lunch. Ben picked up lunch plates, poke bowls and a bottle of wine. Jenny and I, and Ben and Sharon, swapped stories of our ministry journeys. Ben and Sharon pastored in Salem, OR for twenty-six years before taking a breather in Maui. Ben senses a calling to care for pastoral couples who are weary, hurting and needing R & R, like we were. It was a sweet time of fellowship.
We drove south along the coast to the Days Inn in Kihei on Keawakapu Beach. We watched the sunset from Kalama Park and enjoyed a Valentine’s dinner at the Kihe Cafe where we listened to music, danced to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and ate fish and chips. Enchanting. Jenny did look perfect tonight. It has been life-giving to spend this time with her.
Monday, February 15
Today we lounged on Keawakapu Beach. I snorkeled in the morning, watching the many colored fish in the coral reef. We spent the day rotating between reading on our beach towels and playing in the water. I finished Makoto’s book and ended the day a more colorful red than they pasty white I was when we arrived.
The sunset was spectacular: the soft pinks and grays of the sky reflected on the cerulean water was framed by the ivory black rocks. When the sun goes down on west Maui life slows down, even stops, like the lull in the birds singing at the banyan tree in Lahaina. Everyone comes out to watch the sunset, to pay homage to creation’s beauty, and some, to worship the Creator of beauty.
Tuesday, February 16
Tuesday was our most active day. We left the Days Inn at 3:00am to watch the sunrise on the summit of Haleakala. At an elevation 10,023 feet, the drive up the mountain was scary because it was pitch black. When we looked to the side all we could see were stars. We imagined sheer cliffs on the side. But we made it. At the summit we got out of the car and looked up. I’ve never seen stars so bright. The sky was lit by them. The drive was worth that sight. It was super cold. So we got back into the car and waited. At about 5:45am we climbed to the lookout with the fifty visitors lucky enough to get a pass and waited. The sunrise was breathtaking, a reminder of how beautiful and vital light is.
From there we headed to Paia. We stopped to take pictures of the Holy Ghost mission church in Kula, one of the many churches I photographed. I hope to paint them as part of my series of churches around the world. We had sandwiches, shave ice and coffee for breakfast, then explored Paia and worked up an appetite for a delicious lunch at Flatbread Pizza.
Jenny wanted to see a turtle. But so far we hadn’t had any luck. She spotted her first turtle – actually ten of them – on a popular surfing beach just north of Paia. We moved into our Air B & B just in time for our Identity Mapping cohort calls (at 2 and 5pm).
For dinner we ended up with our go to lunch plates from the Paia Fish Market because we hadn’t made reservations at the fancy Mama’s Fish House. They were delicious and a third of the price which made Jenny happy. She likes a bargain!
Wednesday, February 17
We left at 8 AM to take the famous road to Hana. Friends told us to get the APP and it was worth it. The drive is not about reaching the destination but the pilgrimage along the way, with its noteworthy stops and remarkable history.
The Arboretum was interesting. The windy drive down to Nahiku, where George Harrison of the Beattles had once lived on secluded 63-acre estate, was probably not worth it, though the church was charming and picturesque in the rain. I love how many of the churches on Maui keep their doors open to members and visitors. The BIG avocados at the fruit stands along the way, reminded Jenny of the ones she had eaten when she was a girl in Peru, South America. The whole experience of Maui felt familiar to her, like being home.
One of my favorite stops on the road to Hana was Honokalani Beach with its black sand and stunning views and crashing waves. How do you describe the lush veridian greens against the lamp black rocks and the translucent phthalo blue and payne’s grey waves? My most favorite spot was a waterfall just off the road. It took a minute or two to walk to it. There was one other couple there. I could tell the guy wanted to swim in the pool and so did I. I said, “If you go in, I’ll go in.” The water was deliciously refreshing. It turned out that they live in Sammamish, a suburb next to us in Redmond. We exchanged phone numbers. Maybe we’ll have an adventure back home.
Thankfully I navigated the windy roads and we made it to our charming place in Hana. After unpacking and grabbing lunch from a food truck we headed further southeast. Our first stop was Koki Beach. The sun peeked from a rain cloud lighting the red cliff, red rocks and emerald green waters.
Further south we hiked in the Bamboo Forest and the seven sacred pools of O’heo’. On the way back to Hana, we stopped at the church where Charles Lindberg is buried. The Road to Hana was spectacular. How do I pick a favorite stop? For dinner we enjoyed (what else?) lunch plates from Poke Bobs food truck on our balcony. Our hearts overflowed with thankfulness for adventure on Maui, overflowing like the streams and rivers would be on our drive home the next day.
Thursday, February 18
It stormed Wednesday night through Thursday morning. When we dropped off our keys, the clerk cautioned us to watch out for flash floods and water on the road. Boy was she right. The streams had become muddy rivers, and the rivers crashing torrents of water. Thankfully the 50 bridges we crossed all held true. We stopped to visit the congregational church in Haiku and stumbled upon famous Auntie Sandy’s. It didn’t take us long to gobble up the warm banana bread. We made it back to Paia for one last lunch. Jenny found the Hawaiian hula girl bobble head doll she wanted as a souvenir. I got an blue hoody I absolutely love. We arrived in Seattle at midnight none the worse for wear and grateful.
Two words were repeated throughout our time in Maui. Aloha and Mahalo. Aloha is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy. It is used when you greet someone. Mahalo expresses gratitude, thanks. We are thankful for the Aloha, the hospitality shown to us on Maui. Jenny and I want to say Mahalo to all who made this such a special and renewing time.
Mahalo to Ben and Sharon who welcomed us and ministered to us. Mahalo to our kids who rejoiced in our chance to get away and especially Jacob who held down the fort in Redmond. Mahalo to the friends who supported and guided our visit. Mahalo for the leaders at Redeemer who made this time away possible. Most of all, Mahalo to our heavenly Father who brought us together so many years ago, who calls us to serve his name, and who leads us on our earthly pilgrimage till we enter our eternal rest in the presence of the Creator of all beauty, the glory of which our time in Maui was a faint picture of.