In 1968, my dad graduated from college in North Dakota. I was 5 years old, my brother was 4 and my sister was 3. My parents celebrated by visiting my dad's family in Maui for a summer, on the side of a mountain in Wailuku.
Dad told us kids about Hawaii and showed us pictures of the farm he was raised on. We had never seen the ocean, and he told us about the fish and the animals that lived in it. All we knew were the prairies, wheat fields, the Missouri River and the snow. But we believed our father's stories. I remember the trip like it was yesterday.
I already met some of our Hawaiian relatives. Granny had visited several times, and a few of my dad's siblings and their families. They were different in they way they talked, dressed and acted. My cousins especially made an impression on me with their long black hair down to their waists and their beautifully floral dresses. After their visit, no more "pixie cuts" and stretch pants for me. I wanted to be just like them. I was thrilled when my Grandma Bruns--the German one--designed and sewed Hawaiian style outfits for me and me sister for our Hawaiian visit. Mom allowed my hair a few more inches longer, but it was still short. I took anything I could get. Even at five years old, I was afraid of not fitting in with the "locals".
In a couple days after we arrived fresh off the plane, we North Dakota cousins were native. Our skin was deeply tanned, we rode around in the back of Granny's pick up truck all over the island, we hardly wore shoes, we learned how to share everything in the aloha spirit and we learned how to speak Hawaiian. I didn't need long hair and flowery dresses to be Hawaiian, I found out. I am one.
Spiritually, it's like Heaven. We're not there yet, and we believe that it exists. We read the stories in the Bible, we're waiting for our ticket. We are preparing for living in a new world, but we could end up focusing on appearences instead. But when we get there, it will feel right--God has new bodies and our true holy, natures waiting for us. Jesus died to make this possible. It will be Paradise. John 3:16