My Hot Homecoming: Return to MIcronesia

Aerial View of Yap from the North.

It?s hard to explain to others how comforting it is to be uncomfortably hot.? Since I landed on Yap three days ago I?ve been sweating constantly.? What a relief!? It doesn?t hurt that I?ve had a 5 PM basketball game set up every afternoon, courtesy of Dickson Tiwelfil, the young man from Woleai who will entering the Jesuits later this summer.? I knew that I?ve been homesick, despite the wonderful people I?ve worked and recreated with in the US over the past two years, but I never reflected on how soothing the familiar really is.

I felt like dropping to my knees and kissing the ground, like the past pope would do, when I reached Micronesian soil.? At the airport in Honolulu while getting ready to board the plane to Guam, I ran into Tommy Remengesau, now campaigning for President of Palau, and his son.? Bobbi Benavente, an old friend from health care work, was also on the plane.? So were two old buddies from Pohnpei.

Arrival at Guam offered the opportunity for a snack and a couple of drinks with Tim Smit, former Jesuit volunteer and basketball buddy on Pohnpei, and the young lady who has become his ?Island Princess.?? When I got to the boarding area for the flight to Yap, there was Clement Mulalap, a former student and member of the Yap Legislature, in the departure area. Then as I got to my seat in the plane, Lynn Pangelinan stopped and just stared in surprise before she came over to give me a hug.

As we ?deplaned? on Yap (as the flight attendants like to say), I caught a glimpse of Bishop Amando waiting patiently with Kelly Yalmadau and Fernando Victus and Nick Rahoy, all diocesan priests.? I had a chance to talk with him for a few minutes before he boarded the plane to leave Yap.? Old friends, so little talk time, but such a warm feeling!

Then there were the chance meetings and greetings here, with people reacting as if they had just seen Lazarus walking out of the tomb. It?s nice to know that you?re missed… and that those who had been friends still are.? Who cares how hot and humid it is outside.? Inside, in the depths of your heart, you know that the temperature is just right.

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.