For the last 3 days I have been in Kalaupapa, the leper colony on the island of Molokai. It also happens to be the home of not 1 but 2 saints. A pretty incredible place. I was lucky enough to help chaperone a school trip there and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity. It was amazing. First, because of the remote location, difficult access, and that it's a national park, it is just downright gorgeous.
This is where we were staying
This is where Saint Damien lived and worked.
This is where we were staying from the cross on top of the mountain.
Second, it is a living monument to two saints; Damien and Marianne.
This was Marianne's grave until they removed her for canonization in 2012. Part of her still rests here.
This was Damien's grave. He was removed in 1939 and returned to his home in Belgium, but when he was canonized, his right hand was reinterred here.
Also, the history. This was where lepers were sent to basically be forgotten. But because of Damien and Marianne, they were not forgotten. They were cared for and treated like humans, and lived out their lives. There are still patients there, only 9 are left in the settlement. What will happen when those 9 die, no one really knows. It will be interesting though.
I've always wanted to go to Kalaupapa but you can't just go there. You have to be sponsored, or you can go for the day. We got to stay there for 3 days. Meet lots of locals. Meet some patients. And just soak up the atmosphere, culture, and history. It was truly amazing.
While I took away a lot of things, one thing that really struck me is my concept of hard. I think things are hard because I work and am trying to write a dissertation and am doing this and that. I whine and complain about how hard it is to eat right and work out, blah, blah, blah...... I am a wus. These people were ripped away from their families and friends and sent somewhere to die. If they had babies while in Kalaupapa, the babies were taken away from them. They were either sent to family on Oahu, or put into an orphanage. And there was nothing they could do about it. In the beginning, they were sent over there with next to nothing and expected to make a life for themselves. And I complain because my life is hard???? All of the people we met there are so happy and friendly and cheerful. It was amazing. Strangers saying Hi and coming over to talk story. Patients who are happy and busy and glad to be alive. I need to check my attitude. I have an amazing life and can be miserable at times. Time to get over myself.
I did get a lot of walking in while there and according to my phone, I was very active. The eating though was out of control and off the hook. I was at the mercy of the group sine they provided all the food, and much of it was not good. Muffins, yogurt, and cereal for breakfasts. Sandwich type things for lunch. Dinners were hamburger helper and spaghetti. Not the best food, but it could have been worse. I was just glad to get home to nice steak and some normalcy. I was going to work out this morning, but opted out and went to get a haircut instead. I hope to get a little planning done today. Tomorrow kicks off the most serious effort of all. One of the things that I heard there, which I have heard before but forgotten about, is that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. So before I can take care of my dissertation or my house or my dogs, I have got to take care of me. So that means exercising and eating right and that starts now. Unlike the people of Kalaupapa, I have access to fresh food every day of the week and I intend to take advantage of that. Also, no more whining. I'm sick and tired of listening to myself whine. I will just have to do it. Whatever it is.
Okay, my hair is about done and I need to take a shower.