Monday, 6am. Sitting on the floor of the LAX terminal, venti coffee in hand, staring blankly at the Bananagrams tiles scattered across the stained carpet.
2 time zones ahead, 2 pm, Honolulu. Jamba Juice at the Ala Moana Center. Birds, beaches, and green seem to be everywhere. We learn the one Hawaiian word we must know, Mahalo. Apparently two consonants never exist in a row in the Hawaiian language. (I spent the rest of the trip searching for exceptions, to no avail.)
6:15 pm. A bit overwhelmed and still quite wet, wandering around a large room filled with colorful clothing and colorful food. Hana hou, encore, is our word. The hosts for our homestay, a small woman and her widely-smiling daughter find us and greet us for a potluck dinner. The Windward Choral Society sings a Hawaiian song to welcome us to Kailua.
Tuesday morning. Severe flooding and pouring rain. Luckily our hosts drive us straight to a delicious acai smoothie breakfast. Salvation army is the destination for most glee-clubbers. (I prefer “Bead-it!” and take refuge in a coffee shop).
2:30 pm. We meet for a rehearsal at the Windward United Church of Christ, where we adapt to singing against the consistent downpour of rain, and are overjoyed that we no longer need to simulate the sound of the wind blowing in the middle section of Zephyr Rounds. After a wonderful dinner with our hosts of vegetables and pork and the-most-delicious-pineapple-I’ll-probably-ever-eat-in-my-life, the weather finally calms and our concert begins.
7 pm. The completely packed church unfortunately makes it difficult to carry out our traditional sprint down the aisles, but it is exciting to perform and engage with such an enthusiastic audience. It’s such a pleasure to sing Na Ke Akua Oe E Kia'i, a song written by John McCreary, with the Windward Chorale. My favorite concerts are those with an intimate feel, where we stand close enough to make eye contact with audience members, and the rare occasions in which we get to sing in a chorus twice our size are always mind-blowing.
That night. Returning to our homestay for the second night to find 4 bags of Hawaiian coffee and chocolate-covered macademia nuts resting on our suitcases, and then chatting with our hosts for the last time. According to the Hawaiian law of Aloha, “Aloha means mutual regard and affection, and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return,” and it means "to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.” Between the hospitality of the wonderful people we met and the natural beauty and mystique of the island, I think we’re finally beginning to grasp the meaning of the Aloha spirit.