seen through the front door at St. Francis
Thanks to my hardworking and generous husband, my mom and I were able to take a day trip to Molokai yesterday. We met our pilot and the rest of the passengers early in the morning. We were a little late in taking off because of the concern on the overall weight. But thanks to a little sacrifice on everyone's part, all of us were able to fly over to Kalaupapa.
Our pilot could not have been nicer or friendlier. He was also a gentleman. I highly recommend Big Island Dave of Iolani Air if you ever want to fly to another island.
Our fellow passengers were great! There was a couple from New Zealand. They were friendly and just plain nice. They were also good-natured considering the teasing the had to endure by our playful pilot.
There was also a fellow from South Jersey who was a pilot himself.
Then there was a couple from Belgium. The husband spoke English and he patiently answered our numerous questions about Father Damien and his home town of Tremeloo. Apparently, out of all the celebrities, sports heroes, etc. in Belgium, a recent poll results came in that Father Damien was the most important and famous person in Belgium.
This couple also had a newspaper clipping of a Belgium paper with an article on Father Felix Vandebroek, the pastor of St. Francis on Kalaupapa. Fr. Felix is also from Belgium.
Well, because we were late, we missed our tour bus. Only in Hawaii can a pilot land the plane, run over to get a pick up truck, get the passengers on the pick up truck and then drive the passengers over to meet the tour bus. Well that is exactly what Big Island Dave did for us.
Just up the road we saw our tour bus. The tour guide Norman (same one who showed us around last year) and the hikers we were joining, warmly greeted us.
Someone explained that we had to leave our water bottles behind (because of the weight concern) Norman drove around looking for someone to open the store for us.
Then we took the following tour. Since most of the residents were getting read to leave for the canonization pilgrimage, no one was available. Norman did make a final stop and found water bottles for us. What a nice gesture! I must say everyone was nice. The hikers offered to share their water with us too.
1st stop: Blessed Mother Marianne Cope's gravesite
2nd stop: St. Francis Church
3rd stop: drive over to Kalawao
4th stop: lunch
5th stop: Blessed Damien's gravesite and St. Philomena's Church (Unfortunately it was again off limits to us because of the newly refinished flooring).
As usual, we did not want the day to end. It was an incredible feeling to be able to walk were a holy man had walked. Even though the sights were magnificent to us, I tried to imagine the horror the people brought over must have felt because of the sense of imprisonment and banishment through no fault of their own.
They were however, blessed to have Father Damien there and eventually, that forbidden place became a sacred place of love and security for its inhabitants. And next Sunday, Father Damien (Joseph) de Veuster of Belgium, will be canonized a saint in the Catholic Church. Something that most of us already knew.