Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Current Project: Modern Chicken Skin Stories

In Hawaii, we have a long tradition of storytelling. Stories of all types have been passed down from generation to generation in various forms. The hula is one of the most well-known forms by far. Stories about history and culture are told to us from the time we are young children. However, another tradition is the telling of "Chicken Skin" stories.

For those of you who have never heard this term, chicken skin stories refers to the telling of spooky stories. What many people call goosebumps, we call chicken skin. These are the stories that make you afraid to be alone in the dark. These are stories that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Chicken skin stories make your heart race. In simpler terms, these are the stories that scare the heck out of you.

Here in Hawaii, we begin to hear these stories at a fairly young age. They are often told around campfires or on 4th grade Big Island trips. We all know our fair share of traditional stories. Nearly everyone who grew up in the islands knows a story or two about run-ins with obake (Japanese spirits), night marchers, the Goddess Pele, the Green Lady, Morgan's Corner, and various others. Personally, I can recite many stories I have heard since elementary school. I've been asked on a few occasions to tell some of these stories to school children around the state.

Yes; we all know these stories, and this is where my current project begins. I am in the process of collecting modern chicken skin stories. I am collecting stories that are more recent than the traditional stories. Many of the stories of my youth have an origin in the 50's, 60's, and especially the 70's. I am interested in hearing these newer stories and archiving them, so they can be passed down to future generations.

For years, I have known of many great storytellers in Hawaii that had been doing what I am currently doing. For whatever reason, there seems to be a gap right now. No one is writing these stories down, telling these stories, keeping these stories alive. Even sadder, many youth don't know these stories, and they don't show any interest anymore. It seems as though if it's not in movie form or on YouTube, young people don't have any interest in it. I hope to change that.

I've been asked to tell these stories recently, and I want to keep this tradition alive. I know the old stories, I've had some personal experiences, and now I am collecting the newer stories from folks who have had their own experiences. I hope to put these down in writing in the future, but for now, I am just happy to tell these spooky stories to a new generation. So, wish me luck. If you have a story to share, please message me or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Message

Happy Easter, my friends! I just wanted to take a moment to talk about something that has been on my mind. On this day, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. He is indeed risen, and that is a very good reason to celebrate. He died and rose again, so that we could be free from sin and receive everlasting life.

One of the things you will not find in any of the gospels is: except. The gospel says that he died so that those who believe would be saved. Nowhere does it say who could not believe. When the church came together after his resurrection there was only one church. Men, women, and children of various races and backgrounds came together to learn and preach the gospel. In simple terms, there was unity.

My prayer on this day is that there would be unity in the Body of Christ once again. As it stands, there is too much divisiveness. There is too much judgement. There is too much of us putting our own junk into the church and leaving too much of Jesus out. I believe unity is absolutely possible. I believe unity is possible between every denomination and every believer. In order to do so, we must be willing to love one another the way Jesus said. We must "love our neighbors as ourselves," and do so without any "excepts" or "buts."

There cannot be an "us" or "them" mentality. There is no us or them; there is only us. We cannot say I will love everyone, and then throw in an except. There cannot be any exceptions. We are called to love the unloved. We are called to love the outcasts. We are called to love the lost. We are called to bring hope to the hopeless. We are not called to love those in our own inner circles and no one outside of it. That kind of close-minded thinking is destroying the Body of Christ.

Look, no one said it was going to be easy. We all live life through the filter of our own eyes and experiences, but in order for unity to truly exist, we have to move beyond that. I, myself, am still working on this. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but I'm still working toward being the person God wants me to be. I'm a Pentecostal pastor, with a background as a Methodist, who works in a Catholic school. Believe me when I say, I believe unity is possible. Is unity within reach? Well, not quite yet, but I do believe it's possible.

That is all for me, my friends. I hope you all are having an amazing Easter. Remember, God loves you all, no matter who you are or what your background is, and nothing can change that. If you are feeling down on this day, I pray that God would raise your spirits. You are a loved and blessed individual. I know what it is like to feel unloved, but know that God loves you through it all. No matter what. Blessings to you all, today and always!