KANEOHE—President Barack Obama and the First Family sang, swayed, and clapped to psalms including “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Oh Holy Night” as part of Sunday mass on Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.
The President, shadowed by secret service members in casual attire, blended in with troops and their families at the non-denominational Base Chapel before heading to the golf greens, also situated on base, during Christmas weekend in Hawaii.
Chaplain Steve Moses preached about having hope in a better future, no matter how difficult things seem in the present. Moses read a passage from Mathew 10:29 and shared a personal tribulation about being diagnosed with and overcoming Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome—a serious heart condition involving abnormal heart rhythm.
“I believe that God is protecting me from something that’s far worse, or he’s protecting me for something greater,” Moses said in reflection, playfully suggesting it was so that he could deliver a sermon one day to the President.
The President, First Lady, and daughters Malia and Sasha stood in line to receive communion as “Silent Night” was sung.
A day earlier, on Christmas Day, the President and the First Lady paid a visit to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii mess hall. The Obamas made their way through each row in the cafeteria to shake hands, hug, and chat with members of the Armed Forces and their families who were having Christmas dinner.
Troops pointed out to their young children which one the president was: “The one in the white shirt.”
As the President and First Lady slowly made their way around the room, troops and their children calmly squeezed past the press crowd to get second helpings of ice cream.
“Nothing like getting elbowed in the lip,” the President joked at one point, while talking basketball with some of the troops. “Keep up the great work,” Obama said and smiled.
Elfi Lottie, who was having lunch with her husband Robert Lottie, said she told the President to visit AmericanPresidency.org, a presidential history website run by her son, who is a political science professor.
“I told [the President], ‘since the State of the Union is coming up, you should check the site out,” Elfi said. “He said he definitely will.”
Elfi’s husband Robert said of his short chat with the President: “I just told him I appreciated both him and the First Lady taking the time out of their very busy vacation schedule to come here and be with the Marines.”
Ricky Lui was having dinner with his wife Katherine Lui. “[I told the President] ‘thank you, we appreciate your time to come to Hawaii,’” Lui said. “‘Welcome home, and take your time with your wife and kids in Hawaii.’ And he says, ‘I love Hawaii.’”
The President has not scheduled any official speaking engagements during his vacation from Washington, which runs through the beginning of the New Year.