My recent trip back to Hawaiʻi sparked in me a heretofore dormant interest in the Hawaiian language (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi). One thing which interested me in particular was how one would transliterate names of Orthodox saints in Hawaiian. This can be tricky, because Hawaiian (generally) uses only seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w), though oftentimes one can see non-native consonants in older transliterations. Thus, the name of St. John Chrysostom was transliterated as Kerikekoma in an 1866 newspaper article. I have also seen Kerisotoma in a church history book (alongside Atanasio, Basila, Augusetine, etc.) and in the Hawaiian translation (by none other than King Kamehameha IV) of the Book of Common Prayer. Of course, one could perhaps skip the transliteration and directly translate ὁ Χρυσόστομος (the Golden-mouthed) into Hawaiian, which would be Waha kula (gula). By the way, the phrase Mele Kalikimaka is a direct transliteration of Merry Christmas.
I go by two names. My parents, old college friends, and bill collectors all call me Adrian. In church, everyone calls me some variant of Father Deacon John. My wife also calls me John. This dual identity can cause some confusion. Once at a teacher’s conference in Ohio I had introduced myself to some people as Adrian and to some other people as John. This led to an awkward moment when both groups were in the same vehicle together. When someone called me John, someone else said, “That’s not John, that’s Adrian!” I forget what I said to explain myself. Also, when someone writes a check to “John Martin,” I have to deposit into my account, or rather, the account of some fellow named Adrian Martin. Thankfully, it’s a relatively simple procedure. I sometimes wonder, though, why I just don’t go with one name or the other. After all, they are both perfectly Orthodox names.
I have had ambivalent feelings about the name Adrian. My mother gave me the name merely because it “sounded nice,” and the meaning of the name (“dark man”) gave it a vaguely sinister air. Also, growing up, people used to pronounce it in a rather peculiar way: Instead of A-dri-an, they would usually pronounce it A-dren. This included members of my own family. As a result, my name was commonly misspelled by my peers as ADRAIN. I was also the only Adrian I knew; people who had a bare acquaintance with me often thought my name was Andy or Andrew. Adrian also sounded like a girl’s name; I cannot even remember how many times someone made a reference to the heroine of the movie Rocky. YO ADRIAN!!! In short, in my youth I wish I had a more normal-sounding name, like Bill or George, anything but
When I became Orthodox, I had the chance to get a new name. At first, I wanted to stay Adrian for the sake of continuity, but I also was considering other names, such as Macarius or even Stavros (since my birthday is on the Exaltation of the Cross). One day, I happened upon an account of the 1600th anniversary of the repose of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople. Reading the life of this saint, I found his ascetic labors and service to the Church to be very inspirational. Plus:
- My middle name is Keoni, the Hawaiian version of John
- St. Chrysostom reposed on the Exaltation of the Cross (my birthday)
- I get to remember my saint on multiple days: his main feast day (Nov. 13/26), the translation of his relics (Jan. 27/Feb. 9), the Three Hierarchs (Jan. 30/Feb. 12), and, of course, every time the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated
This confluence of factors persuaded me to take the name John in baptism, in the year 2007, the 1600th year after the repose of the holy Chrysostom.
Now that I’m a little more mature and well-adjusted, I have less ambivalent feelings about the name Adrian, and, in fact, I have grown to like it. It’s a unique name, and it’s still part of me, even though I’m pretty used to being called John now. Sometimes I wish that I had gone by Keoni instead of John, since that’s an actual legal name for one thing, and being called Makua Keoni would be pretty cool, but it’s probably too late for that.
Several weeks ago, my wife Sophia and I went back to my native land of Hawaiʻi. We spent a wonderful week there and tried many local foods, or rather, I had my wife try many of the foods that I grew up with. One food we both enjoyed was butter mochi, a very popular dessert. Butter mochi combines the taste of a custard with the texture of Japanese mochi (rice cakes), with a little coconut milk to give it an island flavor. Itʻs also pretty easy to make on the mainland. Sophia made a batch for coffee hour today, and it was quite a hit! This is the recipe that she used, adapted from the Honolulu Boy Choir Recipes with Aloha cookbook:
4 cups mochiko flour (can be found in Asian groceries)
2 cups sugar
4 cups milk (1 can coconut milk, the rest dairy milk)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and separately heat coconut milk if it is not completely liquid. Add to the dry ingredients eggs, milks, butter, and vanilla; mix until smooth. Pour ingredients into 9×13″ well-greased pan. Put in over and bake for an hour, until golden brown. Let cool for at least 30 minutes, then cut into pieces of about 1×2″.