Missionaries bring enthusiasm to service in botanical gardens

Missionaries from the Hawaii Honolulu Mission recently weeded and trimmed in the 400-acre Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.

About 14 elders and two sister missionaries spent an afternoon in late March on the community service project at the request of garden officials.The gardens include a worldwide collection of flora, including rare and endangered species from such places as Japan and the Philippines. The area in which the missionaries worked contains plants from Central and South America, as well as some from Mexico.

Michael Kristiansen, director of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens which includes the Ho'omaluhia gardens, and members of his staff instructed and assisted the missionaries in the project. The missionaries worked in an area of the park that was overgrown with weeds and invasive plants. The volunteers cut back the plants and weeds and hauled mulch for the pathways and for spreading around the plants.

"The area had been overgrown for several years and was not accessible to the public," said the gardens director. "Our staff is just too small to do it all.

"What's wonderful," he said, "is the enthusiasm and energy the missionaries brought as they understood the importance of this conservation work."

Elder Tyler Yates of Bountiful, Utah, said the service was "a good community project," as perspiration poured down his face. "It's enjoyable because it's such a worthwhile thing to do.

"And we wanted to see where all the Christmas tree mulch went," he added, referring to a Christmas tree recycling project in which the missionaries participated last January. Some of the mulch from that project was used in the botanical gardens. In fact, during the weeding of the garden, the elders wore the t-shirts they received while helping with the mulching project.

The gardens director expressed a desire that the missionaries continue to help maintain the garden, which is in an area that receives an average rainfall of 80 inches.

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