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Wow, has it really been over a year and a half since I’ve blogged anything? It’s not for a lack of content I tell ya, it has been sheer laziness on my part. In future posts I’ll try to get you caught up but for now I will tell you about my day.

Today, for the first time, I got to attend a Marine retirement ceremony. I always knew it was a big deal but I definitely didn’t realize what a big deal it was.

My good friend Vic retired after 22 years of service and when they have a ceremony, they do it right. There were a whole bunch of people on the grounds including a marching band. You read that right, a marching band! It felt like I was at Disneyland…well if Disneyland were located on a Marine base.  When I retire I hope there is a parade in my honor too.

It was a short but nice ceremony. They even brought up Vic’s wife, AnnMarie, to present her with a small token of appreciation. As a very classy touch, they even presented Vic’s daughter with a bouquet of flowers as well.

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20130712-161145.jpgThe marching band

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20130712-161225.jpgVic addressing everyone one last time

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Thank you Vic for your dedication and service to our country.  I know that God has big plans for you and we’re praying for you and wish you well!

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“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8

A little for over five years ago, I remember a young, good-looking couple walked into the Friday night service. When I first saw them, I remember staring at them because they may have been the best looking couple to walk through the clamshell doors. Much to my surprise, my friend Gabe walked up to them, gave them a hug and then showed them to their seats. To this day, I’m not sure exactly what surprised me about their greeting. Maybe it was because I thought I was Gabe’s best-looking friend and I felt threatened that they just may take my title or maybe I just didn’t know Gabe knew such good-looking people. Either way, after church ended, Gabe introduced me to his friends from High School. That was my first introduction to Kawika and Pua Del Rosario.

Since then, we have become close friends and even though we’ve only known each other for five years I feel that they have always been a part of my life.

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Keao with Sarai, Isaiah and Pua in 2006

When I first met them, Kawika and Pua had two beautiful children, Sarai and Isaiah. Since then, they have added two beautiful little girls, Aliya and Tayani and I got married and had a daughter of my own. Our families grew closer as our families literally grew. They were there when I got married and started having children and they were even there when Keao and I lost Rory and Allison. They shared in some of our highest highs and our lowest lows.

Earlier this week, however, tragedy struck them in a way that no one would have ever expected. On Tuesday morning, Kawika and Pua, our dear friends, lost their 8 year-old son Isaiah.

Even now, just thinking about not having Isaiah around is simply unbelievable. I have never encountered anyone, adult or child, that loved life the way that he did.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Isaiah had the most pure heart and I believe that he saw God in everything. He viewed the world like no one else.

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Isaiah with Sarai and “pretty lady” Keiko

Pretty early on in our friendship, I remember coming to church and seeing Kawika scolding Isaiah. Being the nosy guy I am, I enquired as to what he did to deserve such a scolding. Kawika confided in me that Isaiah had a problem with talking to strangers. Actually it was more than just talking. It was hugging as well. If I didn’t witness it with my own eyes, I would have never believed it, but Isaiah would go up to strangers and announce, “Hi! I’m Isaiah! Can I have a hug?” And then he would stretch out his arms and wait for a hug. Never once believing that anything bad could come out of his gesture, all he wanted to do was share his never ending supply of love.

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Father and son

For a child with as rich an imagination as Isaiah everyday held a new adventure. He would come over with his family and go in my back yard and be an adventurer in my mango tree. Left to his own devices, he didn’t need a television or anything to entertain him. He could entertain himself because his mind constantly came up with new plans and new adventures.

When the movie WALL-E came out in theaters, Keao and I took the kids to see it. I could sense Isaiah taking it all in as the movie mesmerized him. As we were leaving the theater we asked the kids how they liked the movie. Isaiah answered by exclaiming, “You only like me when you need me!” Utterly confused, Keao and I looked at each other and asked him to explain himself. He responded by saying, “You just use me to keep the rain off!” As we got into the car, we realized that we weren’t talking to Isaiah anymore. Rather, we were talking to one of the umbrellas in the movie. Isaiah transported himself into the world of WALL-E and became one of the characters.

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Isaiah with his mom and many of his uncles

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A rare moment of a still quiet Isaiah

It’s always tragic whenever anyone dies but is is even more tragic is when someone passes away that didn’t have a chance to reach their full potential here on earth. I grieve along with the Del Rosario family because they will never have a chance to see their son grow up to become an adult.

When I think of all that could have been my heart simply breaks. I would have loved to see what path his life would have taken. Not content to be ordinary, I would have bet money that Isaiah would have been extraordinary. His love for life and adventure compounded with his imagination…there would have been no stopping him. I would have loved to read some of his creative writing assignments in school or watched him as he starred in a local drama. Whatever it was, it would have been good. Literally, the world was his playground.

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What’s better than playing in the rain and the mud?

As difficult it was for me to write this, it is infinitely more difficult for Kawika and Pua. Please be praying for them as they need to deal with this tragedy and yet remain strong for Sarai, Aliya and Tayani. It will be especially difficult for 5 year-old Aliya, she lost not only her brother, but her best friend as well.

If you would like to help or contribute to this family you may do so through our church Hope Chapel. You can send your contribution to:

The Del Rosario family
c/o Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay
45-815 Pookela St.
Kaneohe, HI 96744

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Ta-daaaah!

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Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my, what a wonderful day

Sorry for the long lay off dear blog readers. Things got very busy in my life. Still that’s no excuse. I know some of you have been wondering what happened on our third day on the Garden Isle. Well wonder no more! Here’s the recap!

Sunday was probably the day many of us were looking forward to because Sunday was the day we were going to go ziplining! If you’re unfamiliar with ziplining you’re basically attached to a harness which is attached to a long line that’s hanging over some span. Then you zip down the line and arrive at the other end. I know, I know. That’s a poor description but take a look at the pictures and the video and they will give you a better idea of what’s happening.

Anyway, day three started off with one of my favorite breakfasts. It was an authentic “moons over my hammy” prepared the exact same way Denny’s makes it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. YUM!

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Doesn’t that look ‘ono?

Of course thanks to Russell (who lent us his killer house) we woke up to this incredible view. Can you imagine being able to wake up to this every day? This must be what Heaven is like.

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If this is not a million dollar view, I don’t know what is

After breakfast we then headed down to Princeville Ranch Adventures for our day of fun and excitement.

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Starting the morning with a large cup of complimentary coffee

So once we signed off on the necessary release forms and paid our money we were taken up a trail to the ziplining course. Over the next few hours we would zip along nine different lines. Safety is one of their primary concerns so we all wore helmets and were strapped in tightly. Aside from skydiving this is probably the closest I will ever come to flying. It’s different from jumping off of rocks because here you takeoff and land in a somewhat controlled fashion (as opposed to jumping off of things where you don’t alway have too much control on the way you land).

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Our instructor Drew preparing us for takeoff

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Lon got the hang of it rather quickly

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Some of us were more graceful than others

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Here I am launching myself off the platform

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By the second line Dural was already a pro

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Our other instructor Kanoe in front of King Kong. The longest and highest line.

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This is the view from the platform (the tiny speck in the distance is the landing station)

Now King Kong is the last line of the day so of course it’s the longest, highest and fastest line of the day. It’s so fun that this is the only line in which they let you go side by side. That’s right, it’s a race. You go off and see just how fast you can go. The catch to this line is, however, there is no one on the far end to catch you. As you’ll see in the video below, there is usually one of the instructors at the far end that will brake you and help you come in. But because you go two by two and there is only one instructor you are responsible for stopping yourself and landing.

As the following pictures will show, not everything went according to plan. Dina and I went first and she was freaked out by the height. But like a champ she didn’t chicken out and went for it. Unfortunately for Dina she didn’t exactly grab the stopping rope at the end and therefore she started falling backward. After yelling for help, she slowly backpedaled her way off the platform to no man’s land.

Poor Dina, who was scared to begin with and had to be convinced to even go, ziplined backward out to the middle of the line. When that happens all that can be done is for one of the instructors to go out and perform a rescue (in this case Drew). He then attaches another line to her and we all pull her in.

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Here’s our hero Drew in action

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We all lend a helping hand pulling in Dina

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Poor Dina was so exhausted she just let it all hang loose!

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Here are Dural and Lon coming in for landing

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The zipliners with our guides Kanoe and Drew

So in a nutshell that was our Kauai trip. Come join us next year for another fun-filled outer island adventure. Which island are we going to? Maui? Big Island? Kauai again? Who knows? Stay tuned for more details!

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Seven years ago or so I went to Sapporo, Japan for the very first time. Up until then I had only gone to the Kansai area, but due to a slight scheduling conflict our missions team couldn’t go to Kansai and we ended up partnering with a church in Sapporo called Church on the Rock.

While I was there I had the privilege of meeting some great people including a woman named Junko. Throughout the years Junko and I kept in touch and we became friends.

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Junko in 2004

Well today Junko got married. I always expected Junko to get married someday, but luckily for me she got married in Hawaii at Nuuanu Congregational Church and I got invited to witness her special day (and my friend John was officiant so that was nice too).

So congratulations Junko and her new husband Yoshi. I hear she will be moving from Sapporo to the Tokyo area so I’m not sure when the next time I’ll see her again will be, but regardless I hope she has a wonderful marriage and a great time in Hawaii.

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A picture of all of us inside the church

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Here we are striking an “aloha” pose outside the church

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Yesterday another one of our pastors got married! Rob, our college pastor, married his fiance (now wife) Rikki in a beautiful ceremony at the Kaneohe Yacht Club. I had the privilege of not only attending but emceeing it was well. It was a perfect day for the perfect couple.

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The bride and groom with Pastor Carl officiating

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Their first kiss as man and wife

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And announcing Mr. and Mrs. Rob Wurlizter

Congratulations Rob and Rikki!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I hope you all had a chance to wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage and kiss your favorite Irish person (luckily I married one so it’s all good!).

Today marked another reason to celebrate (other than the holiday). Today, my best friends Mikey and Liz Worden welcomed into the world their second daughter, Lexie Patricia Blake. The neat thing about this birth is that it’s not the first time Liz has given birth on a holiday. Lexie’s older sister Haley was also born on a holiday. Lexie is a St. Patrick’s baby and Haley is a St. Valentine’s baby (is this a Christian family or what?). What’s even more remarkable is that both this children were born exactly on their due dates! Two children, two holidays, two due dates…amazing. I can’t wait to see what holiday their next child will be born on (hopefully it will honor another saint too).

Anyway, enough writing since I know you want to see some pictures.

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Here she is all tuckered out from a hard day of entering the world

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The proud papa with his new bundle of joy

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Aunty Diana holding Lexie for the first time

Anyway, congratulations Mikey, Liz, Haley and now Lexie!

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Surprise!

Last Sunday we celebrated a birthday. Oddly enough, it was Jasen’s actual birthday, but we ended up celebrating Mikey’s birthday. Yay Mikey! Mikey’s birthday isn’t until Friday, but to surprise him his family picked a day that he wouldn’t know about which was conveniently Jasen’s birthday.

Now my only part in the surprise was to get him to the secret location at the secret time. This part was easy since Mikey normally comes to my house on Sunday nights and since it was Jasen’s birthday we had an easy excuse.

So he got to my house on time and under the guise of carpooling we drove him to the secret spot (which was Dave and Buster’s). Once we got there we went to the roof and he was greeted by a bunch of his close friends and family.

Now I gotta say, his family is so creative. Not only did they totally surprise him but when we got off the elevator we were greeted by their smiling faces as well as Mikey’s smiling face. That’s right, they put his face on all of their t-shirts. A little creepy to be sure, but creative nonetheless.

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Not one, but three Mikeys staring back at you!

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The planner of the whole night and the birthday boy

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Some of the guys

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Tricia looking like Yoda and a very surprised Stanton

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Of course, what’s a party without cake?

Happy Birthday Mikey (and Jasen!)

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