Starting Over in Hawaii


Some days I’m overcome with how incredible this place is with the warm weather, surfing and laid back lifestyle. Other times I’m in tears because of how difficult some of the adjustments can be. Moving a family of seven thousands of miles away to an island is a crazy roller coaster of an experience. So this post will be a roller coaster as I will share with some of the highs and lows of our new life Hawaii.


When we arrived here I basically started over from scratch. I brought a bunch of my tools out with me, as well as appliance parts to repair appliances with. Once we got a bit settled, I purchased a little Toyota Tacoma to move, pickup, and deliver appliances with. However, finding a truck to move appliances with was the easy part. It’s been much, much harder getting my hands on broken appliances than I first thought it would be. There are a few reasons this is the case.

First, the people on the island are used to just taking their appliances to the transfer station for free when they break down. People don’t think they have value so they automatically just get rid of them. My problem has been getting these appliances before they get to the transfer station. It’s going to take quite a while for me to overcome this and get the word out that I’m willing to buy these broken machines.

I have gotten my hands on a good number of machines, and they sell very quickly. It’s been awesome to see the response to my ads, but then sobering as I realize that I can’t even come close to meeting the demand because my supply of machines is so low right now. I’ve got to figure out how to get more machines.


Our War with Rust

Appliances on the mainland rust, but it is absolutely nothing compared to the rust out here. The salt in the air, coupled with the humidity and depending on the location up to 200 inches of rain a year, appliances practically rust before your eyes. I’ve had multiple washers where the frames were completely rusted away in spots. What used to takes us 15-20 minutes to clean and grind on the mainland now takes us 1 1/2 to 2 hours now. It’s been discouraging fighting the never ending battle with rust.

The Pool

The little community that we live in has an incredible outdoor swimming facility located about one minute from where we are living. It has a large kid pool with a large fountain. Next to that, it has a full sized olympic swimming pool with two large diving boards. The filtration system in this pool is incredible, making the pool feel at least twice as clean as any pool I’ve ever swam in. This pool facility is open every day and here’s the kicker: it’s free. We probably take the family to the pool about 4 times a week. Needless to say, it’s been an incredible blessing to our family.


Fire Ants

In 1999, Fire Ants were discovered on the Big Island. They have since spread all over the island and they have proven very difficult to get rid of. They are a very small, reddish ant whose bite can sting for hours. What makes fire ants so difficult to get rid of is that you must stop the queen from reproducing or the colonies never die. So simply spraying pesticides all over your property will kill many of the worker ants, but almost never kill the queens, who will bring the colony back to life eventually.

Shortly after moving to the house we are at, we realized that the entire back portion of the property we are on had fire ants everywhere. So I’ve recently started a multiple month long project of ridding the property of these little devils. It takes multiple steps. First I had to buy and mix up an expensive concoction called Tango. Tango is a growth limiter that when mixed with a bunch of ingredients, and sprayed all over the property, will eventually get taken back to the queen’s and make them sterile. So you spray Tango everywhere, then a few weeks later you can spray a barrier around your home that consists of pesticides so that all ants will die  when they cross the barrier next to your home. You don’t want to spray them at the same time as you want the worker ants to live and take the Tango back to the queen, and ultimately lead to the demise of the colony.


I would describe homesickness kind of like a soup. It’s a mix of of all the little things you loved about the place you used to live. A moment of loneliness will be followed by the reminder of your friends that you used to hang out with. Driving down the street and seeing a neighborhood cat floods us with memories of our cat that is still back on the mainland. Going to the grocery store reminds us that we used to pay 1/2 has much for our food.

Homesickness comes and goes and I think it’s too be expected. Whenever there is a big move and life changes, it’s natural to be reminded of things you miss and have left behind.

Our Friends Here

Our move out here would have been unbearably brutal without our friends here. They have helped us find a place to stay, provided us with temporary work, helped us find our first car, helped me get my first appliances to repair, invited us to birthday’s, bbqs, beach trips and hiking trips. They have provided friendship when we have needed it the most. I think the average length of stay for someone that moves to Hawaii is less than a year, and I understand why. Without good close friends to help and support you during the transition to life on an island, it’s very hard to make it. We have been incredibly blessed by our friends and the church we go to here.


I’ve been trying to go surfing at least 3 times a week for a few hours each time. I went this morning and want to share with you what’s it’s like. The ocean where we surf is 78 degrees, and a bit warmer in the top few feet. It’s crystal clear so that you can see the bottom of the ocean and swarms of tropical fish and occasional turtles swimming by underneath you. This morning my good friend Matt and I went out.

As we paddled out, it started raining pretty hard. The wind was pretty calm so it made the surface of the ocean look like a 3D model. It was a pretty spectacular site. Five minutes later, or about the time we had paddled out to our surf spot, the rain had stopped. There was only one other person out in the surf spot, and they left after about 10 minutes leaving us with the entire bay to ourselves. It wasn’t a big day, but that didn’t mean there weren’t bigger sets of waves. Matt and I just floated there and talked about life, soaking in the sunshine while we waited for the next set of waves. Often while we are floating in the water we will be surrounded by turtles swimming by, coming up for a breath before descending again. We would often be in mid sentence when a wave would arrive and immediately would stop talking and start paddling to catch the wave.

On some of our better waves, the ride was long and glassy and seemed to never end. Imagine riding down a wave that keeps forming in front of you and keeps going and going. You have this smile plastered on your face, mixed with reverent terror of the giant wave that will smash you with one wrong move.  When you are in the ocean, and especially when you are riding a wave, the cares of this world quickly fade away.


I think one of the things I’ve learned since moving back here is that anywhere you live is going to have it’s thorns. Some have tornado’s, some hurricanes, some droughts, dust storms, excruciating heat, bitter cold, endless rain, piles of snow, friendly people, bitter people and everything in between. I’ve found that there are a few things that have helped me transition. The first, is focus on the things you love about where you live. There are incredible things about just about every location in this world. Focus on those incredible things because life is too short and almost unbearable when one chooses to focus only on the negative. Secondly, do what you can to make where you live a better place. I’m becoming a fire ant expert because I want to rid not only the property where I live of fire ants, but of all my friends and anyone else that would like help getting rid of the little devils.

Lastly, I want to share a story and say thank you to someone. This past week we were over in Kona eating at a restaurant for dinner. It was the end of a day of driving, and then car shopping as we purchased a larger truck for our family. I was exhausted and still nervous about whether or not I was going to find any surprise with the truck after we drove it back to our side of the island.

We had an nice table overlooking the ocean. My wife and I were just sitting there reflecting on how blessed we were to be sitting there all together as a family overlooking the ocean and watching the sun set. After our dinner was over, our waitress came over to our table and told us that a man who had been watching our family had paid for our entire dinner and all our drinks. She said he wanted to leave before we found out. It brought tears to our eyes as we realized what a gift it was.

To whoever bought us that dinner, thank you for your generosity. It was an incredible blessing and encouragement to us.

I hope you all are doing well. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.


  1. Thank you for this great post and for taking the time to share so much! I think people have to commend anyone, esp a family, for making such a huge life change. There is much growth, no doubt, but in the end, it has great benefits. How wonderful that the nice person blessed you with the family meal out. Whoever it was is in for a big blessing, as we know. It’s just a reminder that you’re on the right track and you made the right decision. Your biz will come together more and more and life will become easier. I wish you the very best in all things!

    • Absolutely. I was kind of waiting until I had some great stories about how business was booming etc, but finally realized that things are going to be different here. It’s going to take a while to get things started and built back up and that I need to just start sharing how things really are.

  2. Hey Ryan,

    Can you get the machines from the transfer station?

    Or, could put ads on Craigslist?

    Just wondering.

    It sounds like you’re having lots of fun and adjusting well.

    I’m so happy for you.


    • Hi Judy, at this point, once they are at the transfer station, I don’t think people are supposed to get them. So priority is getting my hands on them before they make it there. We’ll figure it out! We are having lots of fun, it’s a beautiful place here. Thanks for your message!

  3. Ryan,

    Good to see you posting again!

    Keep up the hard work… it’s gonna pay off!

    Here’s the good thing about people wanting to get rid of their machines… it’s a barrier to entry for the business, meaning less competition for you when you figure out how to get around that barrier. It will be tough for a while, but you’ll pretty soon be the go-to guy for repair stuff.

    With demand being high, have you noticed an ability to sell the machines for more money than you could on the mainland? Maybe you could pay people for their broken appliances and then make up the difference by raising the sell price.

    I’ve been taking a break during the school year to work on building an Amazon business, but I’m going to be back at the appliance game in about a month.

    Good luck and keep us updated!

    • Aaron, I completely agree. Once I get past this barrier things will be good. The more I’ve been getting the word out the better as people start thinking of me when they see a broken machine at a garage sale etc. I had a friend message me the other day that there was a machine waiting for me at a garage sale, just needed to come pick it up. I have been able to sell machines for a lot more out here, as supply is so much lower. Part of that is the # of machines that die a rusty death and aren’t possible to fix. I’ve been offering to buy broken machines on CL and have gotten a few machines that way as well.

      I’d love to hear more about your new amazon business, shoot me a message when you have a chance sometime. Talk to you soon!

  4. As always, your blog this week is an interesting and thought-provoking read. I’ve been following your posts for almost a year, and they have inspired me to start my own business. I really appreciate the insight and positivity you put into each post. Best of luck to you and your family on your new challenge/adventure. I keep you in my prayers.

  5. Hey Ryan, we miss you in Portland! Thanks for your post, I pray God blesses your family and your business in the days ahead.

  6. Thanks for sharing about your moving experience, Ryan. Your blog ads value to the lives of your readers in many ways. It’s encouraging to be reminded that others face struggles in life too, yet God provides for His people. Please keep up the great work!

  7. Congratulations on your move. I hope that things look up for you with the business. Thinking of your family and best wishes to you all.

  8. Great post Ryan.

    A successful business is always marked by it’s ability to identify challenges and pivots, sounds like you are doing well with that, both in business and in life adjustments with the move. Way to go.

  9. Thanks for your wonderful story!!! I realize you have made one of the most important discovery’s in Life. Always look for the positive!!! And Happiness just seems to follow it!!!! Love you folks!! You are always in my prayers!!! Hugs, Aunt Esther

  10. Hey Ryan, so good to hear from you. It would be cool to meet you some day. Thank you for the incredible email of Hawaii. God certainly has you and your family in his hands. You are truly a unique person and quite an inspiration to me. Please keep us updated on your awsome accomplishments.your brother in Christ. Dallas in Kansas.

    • Thanks for your kind words Dallas! Who knows, I might make it out to a Royal’s game sometime soon. Jeremy Guthrie is a good friend of mine who pitches for them. I would like to travel around the country at some point and have some meetups, that would be a lot of fun!

  11. Ryan – I hope you won’t wait until you figure it all before sharing again. It’s traveling the journey with you that makes your blog so special. We already know the ending! It’s how the game is played. You do it with integrity and conviction. I have no doubt you will figure out the rest.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Cheri. That’s been one of the hardest things about blogging, as the audience grows, so does the pressure to give off the impression that everything is rosy and smoooth sailing. I really had to force myself to write this last post. Anyway, I really appreciate your encouragement.

  12. Ryan, I really enjoy hearing about your entrepreneur pursuits. God is good! May He pour out a big blessing on your family 🙂

  13. Enjoy the surf, the weather is finally turning in the northwest, we’re aching for summer!

    I wonder if you could convince the transfer station employees to let you in for those machines…small favors go a long way!

  14. We just moved to the Big Island too. We are in Puna. My husband is a handyman too- he is working on vehicles and building. He has a little shop to work in on another property. I have been reading your blog since before the move and didn’t realize you were here too till just now. I have been getting work painting murals and will ask around for broken appliances for you! Its easy to make friends here isn’t it? A lot of people have accumulated a lot of things on their property and forget what hey have lying around.


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