Dinner with Neil...The Governor of Hawaii

So last night I had dinner with the Governor. I know what you are thinking. How on God's green earth did a stay at home mom of two young kids end up going to dinner hosted by with the Governor of Hawaii at Washington Place (his personal hosting spot)??... Honestly I'm still trying to figure that out myself. My husband is a pastor and I think the state has him on some sort of database as a religious leader. I'm sure many pastors around the island got an invitation. I remember looking at the invitation and being skeptical. It read something like this:

Neil Aber----
The Governor of the State of Hawaii together with
(And they list a whole bunch of Committees and International Affairs stuff)
Request the pleasure of your Company at our Annual Friendship and Dialog Dinner

I was like woa, is this for real? So I did some research on the event. I had to make sure we wouldn't end up in some shady office building with no windows with a team people trying to get us to buy into a pyramid scheme or something. So after some research it turned out to be a real legit event actually hosted at Washington Place by the Governor, so I called to RSVP not really knowing what to expect.
When the day came my husband and I got a sitter, frantically got ready, parked and we anxiously waited to get in. To my relief we were on "The List" and they gave us our name tags. That's me in front of Washington Place just before I got my name tag.

So we walk in and get a tour. The house is most known to be home of Queen Lili‛uokalani, Hawai‛i’s last reigning monarch, now the Governor uses it to hosts his guests. Everybody was very nice and ultra accommodating. Then we were ushered into the garden where the dinner was to be held. We had our table numbers but little did I know our table was right behind the Governor's. See the picture below. Keep in mind the Red Dress lady, shes the Governor's Executive Assistant, she comes into the story later.

Here is a side view:

And of course, shameless selfies in the garden before the event starts.

Me standing in front of a flower... thing... hey i'm just happy to be out of the house ok!


It gets interesting! So we sit down at our table. There is no one at our table yet so we pick the best seats to get a good view of the podium and slowly more and more people start coming to our table. They all seem to know each other and one by one, they come over to us introducing themselves. First guy "Hi my name is ---"he says
 "Hi I'm Joy" shake hands...
"So what do you do?"
"My husband is a pastor, what do you do?"
"I'm a city councilman"...me wide eyed...
"oh.." We talk abit.
Next guy "Hi I'm ---"
"Hi I'm Joy" shake hands..
"So what do you do?" I'm here with my husband who is a U.M.C. Pastor"I say.
"O nice!" he says, genuinely interested. He asks me and my husband all sorts of questions.
Then I ask "what do you do?" without blinking an eye he says,
"I'm a senator" ... Bugg eyed..
"O wow" I say, feeling like a ignorant idiot because I didn't know he was a senator. Then slowly we start shaking hands with the rest of our table.  Now our table has about 10 seats and all of them were either senators, representatives, councilmen, and a couple seats next to joe was the President of The Chamber of Commerce Elect! There was only one other pastor at our table and he was representing New Hope.. ya know the largest church in the island... I was like AHHH. How on earth did we get placed at this VIP table?? I was under the impression that this event would have other religious leaders... like, I was expecting to be eating next to a rabbi... not the future president of the Chamber of Commerce. It was also embarrassing that I didn't know who any of them were. They didn't seem surprised though, and they were all very friendly asking us about our ministry and how we liked Hawaii (I shared how we moved form NJ 5 years ago). They were all very unassuming and nice. I actually took pictures discretely of people at our table with my iphone but my husband begged me not to post their names and the pics, in fear that these people might actually Google their names and come across this blog, also out of shear embarrassment of my shamelessness he asked me not to hehe. Then the event starts and the nonprofit organization running the event greets us and says a few words. Then we start eating and I notice I have a clear view of the Governor:

I know I'm brazen. In my daechoong ways I just started randomly taking pics of everything. My level headed husband kept shooting me a "What are you doing look?" I thought "Breath... Ok no more pictures!" Then the Governor took the podium and I noticed something interesting. I saw the other senators at our table get out their iphones, take pics of him speaking and tweeting about it. So I thought "Hey, if a senator can do it, so can I" So I started shamelessly taking pics as well. Here are a few.

 I know they came out terrible and the lighting wasn't good. I wish I could have brought my nikon D90... Here is a couple up close pics using zoom on the iphone:

Ok so this last picture I was taking a picture of the current president of the Chamber of Commerce from Istambul... remember other people are doing the same thing, but at this particular moment as soon as I took this picture the Governor looked at me. You see him in the pic below on the right corner.

It wasn't a happy look either. I think he thought I was trying to takes pics of him. I was thinking "No I'm not trying to take a pic of you! I already got enough pics!" then as soon as his gaze looked away he discretely called the Red Dress lady to come over. At that moment I was like... "OMG I'm going to get kicked out by the Governor!" I was just waiting for the Red Dress Lady to come over to my table and tell me to "stop taking pics or else!" but that didn't happen. The moment passed... whew. The event was very long and it dragged on a bit. Every speaker had a some sort of legend or fable to tell. Then at last.. the MC asked the Dean of UH to come and give closing remarks.  Everyone perks up thinking its finally about to end. The Dean walks up there and says "I have a story to tell..." you can everyone's mood deflate and people mumbling in the back. "This is a story that dates back 350 years..." I thought.. "OMG I feel like I've been here 350 years".   His story is very heart warming though. It was the story about Mary Fisher's mission to the ottoman empire.

By the end you can tell that our table really wanted to leave as the event was going over an hour past the scheduled end time. As soon as it was over we were walking out and we were walking in the same direction as one of the senators that sat at our table . We told him we had to leave in a rush because of our kids and he said "O you have that excuse I just wanted to get out... it was like enough already.. everyone had a story." My husband and I just started cracking up and so did the senator. I said "yea it was a bit long... like one story after another" the senator started laughing "Glad I'm not the only one that feels that way!" He hands us his business card and asks us to stop by his office anytime. We say goodnight. On the way to our car we couldn't stop cracking up at the moment and how blunt he was. I still crack up thinking about.

Basically the event is hosted by a non-profit that wants to encourage inter-faith and inter-cultural relations. There were all different cultures and religious figures at that event. Overall it was an amazing night (sans almost getting kicked out by the Governor). I saw that many of those in office were Christian as well. They had many encouraging words for us. I honestly do not agree with the beliefs and the political stances of everyone there and that is a given that we are all not going to agree however I felt there was mutual respect for one another.  I'm also glad that we were able to represent our faith and our denomination in such a setting. Growing up in a conservative christian background I grew up thinking anything ecumenical was bad... like being ecumenical meant to compromise your convictions and beliefs. I have come to see that is not the case at all. I will never compromise my faith. It has shaped me to be who I am today in every way almost as much as my heritage as a Korean. I wish to pass down and teach my beliefs to my children by word and by example. However, I have also come to learn that in order to have others take your beliefs seriously, and if they are ever going to consider anything you have to say, you first need to try to understand their beliefs and see what their beliefs mean to them. In my experience working as a director of an educational center, the other tutors knew I was a christian and a part-time pastor, but also knew I would never force my beliefs on anyone. Once they saw that, they actually would ask me questions about what I believe. We were able to engage in dialog and I was able to help them see things from my perspective.

All in all it was a great experience and I hope to continue to go to events where I can learn from others and they can learn from me. This post has far reached the planned scope of this blog... politics religion... the taboo no man's land in the mommy blogging world. I hope to continue to venture to these areas to dialog with you and also see where my daechoong ways take me =)
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