Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How I Became a Mormon--Part 6

Off to Arizona

As things turned out, 1989 was an eventful year for me. It was then that I made a decision to leave Hawaii and make a life for myself away from the islands. A catalyst in this decision was my high school friend Ted. Recall that he was my drinking and party buddy back at Kamehameha and post-Kamehameha days until he found the LDS church (or the LDS church found him) and he converted.

Anyway, Ted, having had graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was living happily as a member of church in Yuma, Arizona with his wife and three children. Ted was also the head football coach at a brand new high school in Yuma. After conferring with the principal of his school, Tim asked me if I wanted to come join him as a member of his coaching staff and also teach English there. The coaching and teaching jobs were guaranteed as long as I obtained Arizona teaching certification.

I thought things over and decided to make the move, a very big one for someone who was born and raised in the beautiful yet insulated world that Hawaii is. I applied to Northern Arizona University with the goal of obtaining Arizona certification and was accepted. So in May 1989, I shipped my truck over to the mainland, packed up my stuff, boarded a plane, and headed to the continent.

I picked up my truck in Long Beach and made the drive south to San Diego then east to the California/Arizona border where Yuma is situated. I stayed with Ted and his family for a week after which I had to leave to go to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to begin classes there. During the time I spent in Yuma with Ted and his Ohana (family), I had the impression that Yuma was not the place I wanted to settle down. I think what sealed my decision was when Ted and his wife said that they “would find a nice Mormon girl” for me to marry. Sure, I wanted to get married and settle down some day, but as a Mormon? No, thank you.

Not wanting to hurt my hosts’ feelings, I kept my thoughts to myself, but my mind was already made up, and when I headed to Flagstaff, I had already nixed the idea of getting Arizona high school teaching certification, coaching and teaching with Tim in Yuma, and finding a nice Mormon girl to marry. I decided to pursue an MA in English instead. What I’d do after that I wasn’t sure. I had dreams of finding a teaching job somewhere in the western part of the U.S. and making a life for myself there. As it turns out, God had other plans for me.

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