Whether it’s giving rides to students who are moving in or out of the hales, sending them off to the airport, or taking them to doctor appointments, Sally Oostyen, a senior missionary from Utah, said her service to BYU-Hawaii students has been a joy. Nearing the end of her mission, Oostyen has had a mission full of service, humor, and love, according to those who have served around her.
“With the help of my car, I had the opportunity to help students and my coworkers in various ways,” said Oostyen. She said it is never too late to achieve goals, no matter what age you are.
Oostyen started serving in the Polynesian Cultural Center in December 2015 and has less than a month before returning home. “I don’t even know how to describe it because it’s what I call a conundrum. One moment I think about going home, which I am really excited, and then all of a sudden I will be really sad about it.”
Oostyen said it is a good feeling to serve and work at the PCC as a missionary. “I work in the Strategic and Development Research Department. My job is not glamorous, but what makes it wonderful is Elder Conley, who is the head of the department, and the students whom I work with. The camaraderie and associations made in our department make the continual data input of kokua cards absolutely bearable.”
She said, “How am I going to leave this piece of paradise or the students whom I have come to love and work with? It is hard to leave the inspiration that comes from all the activities I attend at BYUH and whenever I meet guests at PCC.”
“I’m a mixed up mess, but I know the Lord has a plan for me. Whatever comes next, I am ready for it,” Oostyen continued.
“People usually call me ‘Sister O’ or ‘Sister Uh-oh’ because it is hard to pronounce my last name. I just tell them to say Sister Oostyen whenever they pray for me,” she said while laughing.
Serving in PCC has been the best time of her life, said Oostyen, even though sometimes it has been a struggle. “I can’t imagine my life without the experience I have had here. I was able to meet guests in the PCC and be of service to other people, which I really love to do.”
Kathy Conley, a senior missionary from Colorado, said she is grateful to have known Oostyen in her mission. “Sister O is loving, giving, and will bend over backwards for anybody who needs something.”
Conley said she commends Oostyen’s warm personality and her awareness of other people’s needs. “She goes out of her way to take people to the hospital and gets food for the homeless. She also became a grandma to three babies when she took mothers to the hospital to give birth.”
“After I raised my children, I went back to school when I was 49 years old and earned a teaching degree. I taught in junior high and special education for 14 years. That was a wonderful and glorious time of my life. It was full of challenges but wonderful students.”
Every 10 years, Oostyen said she tries something interesting that takes her out of her comfort zone. “When I was 70 years old, I went skydiving, which was a very exhilarating experience. Now that I’m turning 80, I want to ride a bull. I know that’s kind of daring, but it might be just a plastic bull.
Tiffanie Mac Donald, a senior majoring in computer science from Arizona, said she loves working with Oostyen. “Sister O. is very dedicated to her job and she does it with vigor and positivity, which is very contagious. Her job is not easy, but she makes the most out of everything. I am inspired to work harder because I’m around her.
“My work environment is full of laughter because of Sister O,” Mac Donald added, “I like it when she is being sarcastic in her jokes, which brightens my day. We always laugh but we still get our work done.”
Claudia Nye, a senior missionary from Idaho and Oostyen’s roommate, said she admires her for her willingness to take care of other people. “She has helped young mothers before they gave birth, taken them to the hospital when they gave birth, and monitored them after. She has become their grandma.”
Nye said she feels special every time they are together. “Sister O is a Ms. Know-it-all for food and plants. Before her mission, she took a master gardener class, and because of that she knows food, plants, leaves, and flowers that I haven’t even heard before. She is a smart woman.”