Artwork, family, Grandchildren, health, Parenting, Religion, Uncategorized

Since the Corona Virus Lockdown

It has been almost two weeks since the lockdown due to the corona virus visitng us here in Utah. Social distancing has been used several times to remind us that we should not get close to another person for our own and their safety. Many people have suffered from the sneaky tiny virus that is lethal. People have either shown their worst or best side during this pandemic. It has been a difficult time for all of us (the whole world)!

Personally, the viral breakout together with a medium-sized earthquake a week ago literally rocked my world. Having a predictable schedule is now a thing of the past. Last month my husband had a car accident which resulted in him being let off work. I was just getting used to him being home almost every day before the corona virus came to America. He still worked in the temple two days a week until the temple was closed for his work there. We have discussed having couple counseling since we are not used to being together 24/7!

The hardest thing for me through all of this is not being able to hug my grandchildren. We now do feet or elbow bumps! We also have drive-by visits. Luckily we have the app Marco Polo to check in with our children every day and also utilize Facebook and Zoom. We can hold a family home evening where everyone of our children and grandchildren participates. Two of our grandchildren were at university and now they are home with their family. Our new normal is difficult to get my mind around some days.

I worry about my daughter since she is on the frontline of this battle against the enemy. She goes everyday to help sick people. As for my work, I can still write articles online but my reseller job has gone stale. Evidently, the virus can stay on cardboard for several hours so it is not feasible to send packages out every day. Now I feel like getting rid of all of the items in my Poshmark closet but there is no where open to take them. So many people are out of work and suffering much more than I am.

A few days into the lockdown, I felt like I was suffocating and had to get out of the house. I drove up and down Redwood and was shocked by the lack of traffic, closed businesses and vacant schools. I tried to come to grips with the current situation. I grieved for lost opportunities and my lack of freedom. With loss comes the need to check priorities.

I have kept up on my scripture reading and anticipate our conference that is coming up soon. Our prophet warned us to “take our vitamins” and be prepared for a memorable conference this spring. All of the temples have been closed, missionaries sent home, and church services now take place in our living room. A lot has changed since the last conference. My prayers have been more often and sincere lately. That’s a good thing!

Funny how much things can change in a couple of weeks time. Comedians have been my “go to” when I am feeling low. Many have posted new poems, songs, affirmative thoughts, and inspirational quotes. I appreciate them! There is still so much good in the world. This is a wakeup call for all of humanity!

One thing I have been doing to use my time is artwork. I have never had this much time to do the things I enjoy. I share the art with my granddaughters and it inspires them to be creative. I hope you enjoy them, too! These are all watercolors and I also paint with acrylics and oil.

Stay safe and carry on!

Beauty, Cultures, family, Grandchildren, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Coronavirus COVID-19 and Grandma

The latest epidemic of Coronavirus has been on my mind constantly. I feel empathy for the many who have suffered from this virus and especially those who have lost their lives and their families. As an older person with chronic autoimmune issues, this virus is a threat!

So far, Utah has not had any known cases of the virus obtained instate. However, paranoia has emptied many shelves in the local Costco and Walmart. People are panicking in ways I never imagined. You would think it is the end of the world! Perhaps it is!

Well, at least I have learned something from all of this chaos, like how to wash my hands properly! Before, a quick dab of soap and a second or two of water sufficed. Now I feel that everything around me has germs on it, especially things I touch often like these computer keys. I use my clorox wipes much more than ever before.

I have also decided not to go out to the movies, to shop unless I really need to, and I have questioned attending large gatherings. It has affected almost all of my interactions with others – I even found myself elbow bumping my own granddaughter (what)?

Our church (LDS) has had general conference every spring and fall for as long as I can remember. For the first timein my life, they have told everyone to watch conference from home and that no international leaders will meet as usual at the conference center on Temple Square! Even the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah is not accepting new missionaries in lieu of being prepared online. Some temples have been closed and missionaries reassigned or sent home.

Our daughter and our family at the Salt Lake Temple

All of this has affected my psyche and ultimately affected everything I do. My daughter is a Nurse Practitioner and I worry that she might be exposed to the virus at work. She has been taking care of my husband and I and this adds another dimension to her job. I have Grave’s disease and use oxygen at night due to respiratory problems.

When will this nightmare end? Hopefully spring will bring warmer weather and kill off any hint of the virus! I am praying this time next year, the coronavirus will be a bad memory and not a significant threat to many.

Some of our family in Italy only a couple of years ago where the coronavirus currently rages

I realize how unprepared I am for a full-out emergency situation. We have been slowly eating up all of our food storage and not replacing it. I regret that right now!

While we are retired and doing okay financially, the recent stock market crash has eaten away at my 401-K! That is not the worst thing that could happen, but it is very frustrating.

I’m trying hard to have a positive outlook for my children and grandchildrens. I hope and pray that all of them will avoid the effects of the coronavirus.

Our latest family photo – missing Israel Kongaika




Cultures, family, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Things That Have Changed Since My Grandparents Were Kids

All four of my grandparents were born in the early 1900s. So much has changed since my grandparents were kids. For example, during that time the first passenger flight took place, Theodore Roosevelt won his first presidential election, Cuba gained independence from the United States, Las Vegas was officially formed as a city,  and not too long afterward the US Airmail Service was established costing 6 cents per ounce of mail.

Las Vegas in the early years

My grandparents were all children when the Titanic sunk, the first electric sewing machine was built, the First World War began, and a silent film, The Wizard of Oz was made. When my grandfather was ten years old, the Boy Scouts of America was founded. Idaho had a huge fire known as the Big Burn which killed more than 80 people and was known as the worst fire in US histor during that time. .

First electric car

In 1911, the first auto electric self start car was invented. Up until then, all cars were started by cranking a handle. By 1913, Ford introduced the continuous moving assembly line which could produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes. Workers were paid $5.00 per day.

Rotary phone

Stainless steel did not exist before 1913 nor did Income Tax which was imposed on any income above $3,00. I can imagine both of my grandmothers being interested in the Suffrage Movement as women marched for the right to vote. The Rotary Dial Telephone was invented whereas before this every call that was made had to go through an operator.

Women Suffrage Movement

A flu epidemic killed more than half a million Americans in 1918. It is interested that currently the coronovirus is a real threat to the modern world.

My father interviewed my paternal grandfather in 1964 where my grandpa tells of his childhood and upbringing. His father died when he was only five months old. He was brought up by his mother until she died when he was eight years old.  He was raised in a polygamous family so he had several aunties that helped to care for him. Grandpa herded sheep to pay for his tuition.

Grandpa and Grandma Anderson and my father
My paternal grandfather and grandmother and some of heir family.

Meantime, Grandma managed to live most of her young life in a log cabin with no electricity, no telephone, and no running water or indoor plumbing. It is hard to imagine life like that, but she was able to graduate from high school and became an excellent cook and seamstress. Even with the disadvantaged lives both of my paternal grandparents had, they were well educated and raised a fine family.

Grandma Anderson and Children

My maternal grandparents were similar in their upbringing, raised without many worldly goods. They survived by raising some of their own food. Grandpa excelled in school and was often the last one left undefeated in spelling contests. He could recite the time tables from one to twelve in two minutes. He loved participating in drama and choral training. I remember my Grandfather as being a very strict stern man. He went through many years of ill health and was in pain much of the time. He was devoted in his religion and raised four boys and my mother.

My maternal grandmother was one of the youngest of 12 children. I was named after my grandmother, Ruth Zina. They lived in a small town, Moroni, Utah.  When she was young she got the flu and was very sick. She had to walk a long way to school. Once at school there was no furnace, but they had a big round stove in the middle of the room. She wore mostly hand me downs or clothes her mother made.

My grandmother’s large family. She is near the middle.
grandmaRuth

Grandma got baptized in a cold river near town. As a child, she worked in the beet fields. Mostly she played games outside like kick-the-can, hide and seek and others until late in the evening when her mother called for them. She ice skated in the winter. Her Christmas gifts were meager. She took a bath once a week in a round tub which was used to rinse clothes. Her mother washed clothes on a board until they got a wringer washer.

Grandmother tells in her journal how her mother made 12 loaves of bread every day as well as cookies, pies, buns, and cakes which would take her most of the day. My grandmother ended up being an excellent cook.  Grandma was active in drama and chorus. She loved going to dances when she was young as well as having candy pulls and popping corn.

My grandparents on the right and me and my daughter in front.

As I was reading my grandmother’s journal, I had to chuckle when I read this: Ruth took some classes at the BYU where she met Isileli Tupou Kongaika from Nuku’alofa,Tongatapu, Tonga. He had a musical group at the school and they were always on call for programs. Ruth having a beautiful singing voice was asked to join. This she did, and she and Isi began to sing together and this friendship soon ripened into love, and they were married on the 27th of October 1972 in the Provo Temple. After Isi finished college, they went to Tonga to live. She lived on the island for three years. They loved her as if she was one of their own. They all live as one big happy family. They have three children: Liana Olivia born 29 July 1973 at Provo, Utah, Robert James, born 2 October 1974 at Tofoa, Tongatapu, Joel Aholelei born 4 June 1978 at Provo. They came home from Tonga last spring. He went back to school and received his Masters degree in Manual Arts. He is teaching school in Sandy, Utah. we hope that he will be happy and want to stay in Utah. I would hate to see her and her family go back to Tonga.

I laugh because we ended up going back and living in Tonga for ten more years. I do not regret living in Tonga. In fact, it was the best place to raise our four children. They did very well in school and had so many wonderful friends. It was way different from my youth and my kids are very glad that they lived there. I’m sure my grandmother was just concerned with my welfare, but so many wonderful things happened to me while we lived there.

I can’t imagine myself living without many of the comforts we enjoy today, although I did experience having a wringer washer, cold showers, and other inconveniences when we lived in Tonga. It gave me a greater appreciation for what my grandparents lives were like when they were kids.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, family, Finance, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Fun with Great Grandpa!

I have written about each of our grandchildren and their parents, but I realized that I haven’t made a post about our incredible Great Grandpa Anderson (my dad). He is 93 going on 70, and other than sore legs and behind, he is doing well. His memory is amazing and he can still surprise you with his humor.

Although Great Grandpa eats whatever he wants (dessert and all), he defies the dieting gurus and exercise buffs! He said if you see him out jogging or running, he has gone crazy. He does lift weights (10 lbs) each morning and stretches his back out on a home-made stretcher.

Robert Hugh Anderson (Dad) served in the Air Corps where he flew during the World War, and since then he has jumped out of airplanes, and has made his own remote controlled airplanes. He is a self-taught woodworker, jeweler, and gardener. He built a beautiful house for Mom, brick by brick. He is the man the neighbors call when something goes wrong with their house.

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Mom and Dad served a mission in Wisconsin and he has served in bishoprics and always as a remarkable home teacher.

Dad has worked as a mechanic, a jeweler, an accountant, a printer, and created the prototype for Bonham Tote Gote. He is an avid reader and is very knowledgeable. Dad made a kit car and has used it in several parades. His love of cars never decreased since his first job in Provo at Lincoln Mercury, but he has a special liking for Mustangs.

Dad has been a constant in my life. Although mother passed away in 2007, he has continued to attend events with our grandchildren.

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We went with Dad to Scotland (the land of his ancestors) and Egypt when our son was stationed there. He visited us in Tonga and Hawaii during our sojourn in the South Pacific. Dad has been a great influence for our grandchildren as you can see in many of the pictures.

Dad nurtured my love of music by playing reel-to-reel tapes when I was younger of Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and many others. Dad is always quick to sing in family events and always does great! 

Dad has been a great support since I married the Prince of Tonga.  Thanks, Dad!

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Dad took a break from home to stay in an assisted living dwelling. He missed his home so much that he got better and now lives it up in the home he built! His constant companion is his oxygen bottle, but he doesn’t let that deter him from being the best great grandpa around!

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Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion

Treasures of being Grandparents

One of the main reasons we moved to Utah after we retired was to be closer to our grandchildren. We wanted to attend their concerts, plays, recitals, musicals, etc. It has been a delight to watch them participate in their activities.

Here are a few of our favorite pictures and videos from performances or activities our grandchildren have been involved in.

Isi sang in the BYU-Hawaii Concert Choir. It was thrilling to watch and hear him sing.

Princess has also sung in school choirs and has a beautiful voice. Ali’i .has an amazing voice also!

Most of our grandchildren play the ukulele, piano, guitar, or other instrument.

Jacob Tupou is into writing and loves books. He has sung in some performances at school and keeps a website going called allthewriting.com

Ileina has lived closest to us since we have lived in Utah so we have attended several of her performances. She was in a Polynesian dancing group together with her cousins, Anna and Eryn.

Ali’i and Robbie are very skillful in sports. Ali’i has excelled in volleyball and Robbie in basketball. Check out their dancing skills here, especially Robbie!

https://vimeo.com/383135198

Eryn has been learning the guitar and she loves riding her horse, Flash. She participated in a horse competition.

Zion is a good speller and has participated in spelling bees at school. He was recently in a musical and always fun to watch.

Joseph played baseball when he was younger and he has earned his black belt in karate. We were able to be there when he received it.

Izabella is so full of fun and participated in plays at school. She loves to dance and is a very sweet happy girl.

Lily has shared her singing talent in Friends to Friends and on numerous occasions. Her parents have let her experienced wheelchair dancing, sports, and being in plays at school.

We feel so blessed to be with our grandchildren during these important times in their lives. I remember my grandparents and they lived an hour away, so they didn;’t attend any of our activities.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

2019 Year in Review

Winter in Utah

It is always good to reflect on the things that we accomplished during the last year and to feel gratitude for the bad and the good. One thing for sure is that our grandchildren are growing up. This has brought tears of joy and sadness. They each work hard to enhance their talents. We try to attend as many concerts, performances, recitals, plays, birthday parties, and celebrations as we possibly can with our grandchildren. These thing bring us so much joy and happiness and keep us grounded. Liana, Ileina, and I flew to Las Vegas just to watch a Celine Dion concert and it was fabulous!

Our last family picture of 2018

‘Isileli has spent the majority of his time driving cars for Budget, working as a sealer in the temple, and giving Patriarchal blessings. I serve as his “scribe”. During the spring and summer months, ‘Isi and I  are usually found working in our yard and garden from which we had a good harvest this year.

Poshmark Ad I created showing some of my jewelry

I have spent much of my time teaching English online in Asia for iTutorGroup. I also started selling on Poshmark. This latest venture has been fun but now my home is beginning to look like Goodwill! I learned a whole new terminology as a “reseller” and spend much of my time “thrifting” and sharing my “haul” to interested buyers. I also sell Avon, mainly so I can get a discount on their products. I occasionally do some painting, write posts for my blog: grandma bloggers.com, and write blog articles for smarterparenting.com

Healthwise, this has not been our best year! Both ‘Isi and I are starting to “lose it” and have a hard time remembering where we put things, names of common things, how to swallow – things like that! We don’t drive at night. Getting old is not fun at all, but we are grateful to still be alive. We are fortunate to have our own personal Dr. Kinikini (Liana) nearby who has dealt with our frequent complaints and aches. My shingles returned and Grave’s disease continues to haunt me.

Desperate times demand desperate measures. We have tried “tapping”, “natural” medicine, hormone therapy, counseling, etc. Actually, we are ending the year on a high note (crossing our fingers)! Next on our calendar is cataract surgery! I remember when my mother and grandmother had that. Yikes!

A highlight of the year was attending my 50th year reunion from high school. Yep, I graduated in 1969! I got to meet old friends and had a wonderful time. Meanwhile, ’Isi traveled to Tonga together with Joel, Anna, Eryn, and Joseph. They enjoyed the time together and the kids learned so much about their Polynesian heritage. 

We visit with Dad often. He is doing quite well for a 93-year-old. Jacob and family live in Lehi so we get to see them often. They are all so talented! Little Big Jakey is writing and Zion making a computer! Wow! James Ali’i is amazing at volleyball and Robbie loves basketball! 

Our latest venture was to Arizona and this time I made it all the way there! We had a stopover in Lake Havasu and then went on to the Scottsdale area where we had a Kongaika Reunion. We spent time with all of our grandchildren during the reunion. We just had Israel and Princess visit us on their break from university. 

Lily was recently in a Christmas Performance with “Friend to Friend” This group is made up of children and adults with special needs. It always helps to remind us of the real meaning of the holidays. Lily still holds her own single solos in the program!

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! and a Happy New Year 2020!!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Kongaika Reunion Our Roots Run Deep 2019

We recently returned from our family reunion in Arizona. My favorite part of the reunion was being with most of my grandchildren. We missed having our oldest grandson who is studying at BYU-Hawaii.

We ate, danced, ate, talked, ate, visited, ate, played fun games, ate, sang karaoke, ate, played sports, ate, etc. representatives from each family shared their talents at a talent night. It was an awesome reunion.

Traditional puaka tunu.
Yummy lumpia made by Abi
Kareoke Kids

We are so grateful to those that were in charge of this year’s reunion. The Theme was “Our Roots Run Deep”. A t-shirt was designed by our son, Jacob. Scriptural references: Colossians 2:6-7: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” and Jacob 5: 46-47: Allegory of the tame and wild olive trees.

Our grandchildren that were at the reunion.
Robbie showing his bad skillz!

Rob had prepared some fun games that the children, youth, and a few adults enjoyed. Then came one game that brought out the beast in a few of our otherwise sane family members.

The game that makes sane people crazy!

Near the end of the reunion, we took photos. I hope someone will post the whole family picture. I only have a picture of our own family.

Isileli Tupou Kongaika family (missing Israel Kongaika)

’til next time famili! Ofa lahi atu!

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, travel

London Bridge in the Desert of Arizona

If I told you that someone bought the London Bridge and paid to have it moved to the desert of Arizona, would you believe me? It is true! I am a recent witness to the beauty and majesty of a bridge originally located in England which was disassembled piece by piece and moved 5400 miles. It has become Arizona’s second biggest tourist attraction (the Grand Canyon is number one).

London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona

I first became acquainted with Lake Havasu when I was a child. My father had seen an advertisement for a free flight offered by Robert McCulloch, Sr. (1911 – 1977). This rich entrepreneur flew interested persons to the middle of the desert where no roads led. He had planned a whole community in the hot dry heat of Western Arizona. The area had previously been used as a military base. Since my father had served in the Air Corps right after high school, he jumped at the opportunity to go on a free flight. He was one of many prospective land buyers that purchased a plot of desert. I’m sure he bought it in the hopes of building a winter home to get away from cold Utah winters.

I remember traveling to Lake Havasu once there was a paved road that went all the way to Lake Havasu. This lake was the result of the Parker Dam which plugged up the Colorado River running through Arizona all the way to California. Unfortunately, many Indian lands were covered by the new lake and they had to make homes elsewhere.

My husband and I stayed at the Havasu Dunes, a timeshare trade for us. It was comfortable and adequate although not luxurious.

We set out to check out the lake, the London Bridge, and the local museum. It was very interesting to learn about Mr. McCulloch. He bought the London bridge for a bit over $2 million. It had originally spanned the River Thames, but was sinking so was put up for sale. Not something you think about buying every day, but I guess it was on his radar! He was quite a visionary and the London Bridge has been featured in a couple of movies. If you are superstitious, you may see a British police bobby patrolling the bridge at night. Also, it is home to guano (bats) that inhabit the hollow interior.

Robert McCulloch, Sr . and President Eisenhower

Once we got near the bridge, we saw many boaters, paddlers, water skiers and a ferry. It was a water lovers paradise!

We decided to take the ferry. It was a great ride and we felt like we were back in Hawaii for a minute, but then realized we were in the middle of the desert. The learned that there were 27 lighthouses in Lake Havasu many of which were replicas of other lighthouses in the United States. We took a ride to see how many we could find. There are still plenty of land plots to purchase, some with water fronts if anyone is interested. We opted to try and pay off our mortgage in Utah before we die!

We took the ferry ride to the other side of the lake. There were plenty of ducks in the lake and the weather was fine. I thought it was a round trip, but we were heard “All ashore!”. So, along with the rest of the passengers, we took to land near a new casino. We were told it would be back soon before the ferry took off. A wind really picked up and the ride back across the lake was a bit bumpy. Safely back on shore, we made our way back through the gates to Lake Havasu and to our little cottage in the dunes.

Ferry ride in Lake Havasu

The museum wasn’t too far from the bridge itself. We enjoyed learning more about the beginnings of Lake Havasu, the actual lake and the city. It had grown quite a bit since I first visited many years earlier. So much history, including some from London, the Indians that inhabited the land before the dam created the lake, and so much more. It was amazing!

We stayed for three nights in Lake Havasu and enjoyed the break from our regular schedules. It was very edifying and inspiring. The next time you sing, “London Bridge is falling down”, just we assured that it is well established in its new home and very much loved.

Just FYI – the population of Lake Havasu City was 15,500 in December of 1975 and by 2010, the U.S. Census estimated the population to be 52,527. McCulloch Blvd is the main street and there is actually a Beachcomber Blvd on an island where many of the lighthouses can be found. Interestingly, California is on one side of the lake and Arizona is on the other.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Christmas Past

I decided to look back on our time as grandparents and Christmas celebrations with the grandchildren. It took a bit to find all the pictures, but here are some of them.

One year we went as a family to visit a dear friend in his 90s, Elder Glenn Rudd. He had been our Area President when we served in Tonga.

Since Lily joined our tribe, we have been going to her Friend to Friend productions which are a highlight of the holiday season. She has never been afraid to get up and sing in front of an audience and astounds us every time.

One year we had the children dress up and we did the nativity scene. It was very fun and special.

One of our favorite places to visit during the holidays is Salt Lake Temple Square.

We have two birthdays in December and one anniversary.

Christmas decorations at BYU-Hawaii
One of my Christmas Days with my brother, Kirk in Orem, Utah

A few more pictures…

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without grandchildren! We are so blessed to have our grandchildren!

A Hawaiian Snowman!

Wishing each of our friends and family a very Happy Holiday. Christ is the reason for the season.

Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Attitude of Gratitude

As I approach my 70th year of life on this earth, I feel the need to show my gratitude to all of those who have helped me along the way. First, I know my Heavenly Father has directed our travels throughout the world and protected us from accidents, major sickness, and has blessed us with a beautiful family. He blessed us with loving, caring children and grandchildren, for whom I am incredibly thankful. I’m so glad that all of our children love and support one another. How incredibly blessed we feel.

We have been led to Tonga, American Samoa, Arizona, and Hawaii during our marriage. I’m not sure why we moved so much, but here is a rundown of our moves: (I have previously written some articles about our experiences which I will link below)

Provo, Utah 1972-1974 ~ I worked at Utah Valley Hospital while ‘Isileli Tupou completed his Bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University – Provo. We had Liana Olivia Kongaika six months before graduation. https://letterpile.com/personal-essays/Man-You-Have-Come-A-Long-Way-Baby

Liahona High School, Tonga 1974-1977 ~ We were hired to work at the College in Liahona. ‘Isileli Tupou taught Industrial Education including Architectural and Mechanical Design, woodworking, and metal. ‘Isi became the Department Head of the Industrial Education Instruction. We had Robert James Kongaika in 1973 in Tonga. https://hubpages.com/relationships/Friday-Night-Date-at-the-Movies-in-Tonga https://hubpages.com/politics/Do-We-Want-Social-Medicine-Just-Like-in-Third-World-Countries https://hubpages.com/relationships/He-Wrote-Me-a-Love-Song

Provo, Utah 1977-1978 ~ We returned to BYU-Provo to work on Isi’s Master’s Degree. We had Joel ‘Aholelei Kongaika while ‘Isi was going to University. ‘Isi’s field project was a Pictorial Instruction on How to Operate a Metal Lathe for Tongan Students.

American Samoa 1979-1980 ~ ‘Isi was hired by the American Samoa Department of Education to work in Leoni High School as well as at American Samoa Community College to prepare teachers for certification. We had Jacob Epikopo Manuia while working in American Samoa. I attended American Samoa Community College while I was expecting.

Arizona 1981-1982 ~ ‘Isi was hired by the Pinal School District to work at Coolidge Middle School and taught MIE Industrial Education classes.

Tonga 1982-1992 ~ We returned to Tonga to work again at Liahona High School. The last three years we served in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission as Mission President with our family. https://hubpages.com/travel/My-Visit-to-the-King

Hawaii 1992 – 2013 ~ We were hired to work at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. First, as Foreign Student Advisor and then as Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students. Our children were growing and Liana left to pursue a degree in Nursing at BYU Provo. Robert stayed behind with Lu’isa in Tonga. Our two boys, Joel and Jacob completed high school at Kahuku High School. I worked in the Fine Arts Departments as well as in the School of Education. https://hubpages.com/family/intercultural-families https://hubpages.com/politics/Not-Every-One-Wants-To-Be-A-US-Citizenhttps://hubpages.com/travel/Visit-Hawaii-and-Catch-Local-Festivities

Utah 2013 – 2016 ~ After 20 years of working at BYU-Hawaii, ‘Isi and I retired to Utah. We lived with my father one year and then lived in South Jordan near Liana and Siope Kinikini. We were happy to be with our children and grandchildren closer. https://hubpages.com/money/Changing-Climates-in-Retirement https://hubpages.com/travel/Fun-at-Lagoon-in-Northern-Utah https://hubpages.com/family/Write-Your-Family-History

In between our moves, we have been able to travel to many other parts of the world. I believe our lives have been enriched by being exposed to so many different people and cultures and love our friends throughout the world. https://wanderwisdom.com/misc/How-to-Get-the-Most-out-of-Your-Adventures-Abroad https://hubpages.com/travel/Scenic-New-Zealand https://wanderwisdom.com/travel-destinations/City-of-Music-Vienna https://hubpages.com/travel/The-Magic-of-Italy https://hubpages.com/travel/Southern-Germanyhttps://hubpages.com/travel/The-Magic-of-Austriahttps://hubpages.com/travel/Exploring-Egypt-in-a-Time-of-Transition

God has always been in the picture as we have moved from place to place. There have been trials, sickness, and disappointments, but as we look back on our life, It seems to all have been orchestrated for our own good.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, travel

Autumn Beauty in Utah and Beyond

We moved to Utah five six years ago when we retired from BYU Hawaii. I grew up here and was familiar with the four seasons. We had moved to the South Pacific where there are two seasons (rainy season and dry season). When we lived in Hawaii, Tonga, and American Samoa, I missed the crisp air of the fall and seeing the autumn leaves, the white snow of winter, and the new buds of Spring. Most of the time it was warm or hot, humid or raining.

We have tried to make it a point to go up the canyon to see the autumn leaves before they loose their vibrant colors. Yesterday we got to drive up American Fork Canyon and along the Alpine Loop down to Provo Canyon. It was a warm Sunday afternoon. We noticed that the peak of the autumn leave vibrance has passed but we still enjoyed the views. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

My grandchildren are the reason we moved to Utah as well as to be close to our extended family. Thru the years we have taken a few pictures of our grandkids helping with the leaves or playing in the autumn leaves.

October is even better because it is both ‘Isi and my birthdays as well as our Anniversary!

My favorite food of all time is pumpkin pie and I usually wait until fall to eat pumpkin cookies, rolls, muffins, and anything else you can make with pumpkin.

We live very close to the Petersen Family Farm which sells pumpkins in October. They have a corn maze and other fun stuff for the kids. I have taken some of our grandchildren to pick out their pumpkin for Halloween.

So glad that our grandkids and their families enjoy the out-of-doors.

We are fortunate to have visited far away places during the autumn and caught a few pictures of fall’s splendor including Germany, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy. Here are some of them:

The above pumpkins were in a pumpkin contest in Germany. Maybe you can get some ideas for your own decorating.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, travel

Scary Halloween Grandkids

This time of the year is beautiful with the weather cooling down and the leaves changing colors. It is probably my favorite season. Both my husband and I have birthdays in October as well as our anniversary, so it is a special time for us. We have fond memories of pumpkin pie and outings to celebrate our birth and marriage. Also, we get to see our grandchildren turn into amazing creatures for Halloween!

When the kids are small their parents usually pick out their costumes, but when they get older, they create their own look. They are usually ready well ahead of trick or treating time. I have gone through our pictures and share a few of my favorites here:

Then there is our youngest son, Jacob, who makes professional photos out of his kids and their costumes:

Baby Jakey (not a baby any more!
Buff Zion
Princess Bella

Of course, some of our own children (the parents) sometimes get involved and want to relive their childhood by wearing their own costumes too:

Then Grandma (myself) has to take some of the Halloween children and make it into a fun Halloween collage:

Here is a picture with several of our grandchildren altogether:

Aren’t they so cute!!

Halloween is particularly fun for children since they get to dress up and beg for tons of candy. The parents “get” to take them out while they are young in inclement weather. Grandparents can stay warm and dry inside and wait for a treat from one of the grandchildren.

Halloween is not my favorite holiday but it is definitely fun to see the children enjoying themselves. I have written about ghost stories over the years and also some scary experiences we have had at Halloween time. BEWARE!

https://hubpages.com/holidays/Hawaiian-Ghost-Stories-III

https://hubpages.com/holidays/Hawaiian-Ghost-Stories-II

https://hubpages.com/travel/The-Haunted-Lagoon-Experience

https://hubpages.com/holidays/Hawaiian-Ghost-Stories-II

Halloween has evolved over the years and “trunk or treating” has become a big thing!

https://hubpages.com/holidays/Trick-or-Treat-Trunking-for-Halloween-Safety

Here’s wishing you a fun and safe Halloween 2019!

Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Our Grandchildren’s ‘Ulumotu’a

According to Tongan culture, the oldest male son in the family is the ‘Ulumotu’a. Here is a link to read more about this.

https://www.eua-island-tonga.com/Tongan-Culture.html

This role is inherited by the eldest male line. In our case, our oldest son is Robert (Lopeti). It just so happens to be his birthday this month. He has shown his ability to be a leader in his family, while serving in the Air Force, and in his ecclesiastical responsibilities.

His role (as far as his siblings are concerned) is to officiate at family activities, funerals, weddings, and special events. The ‘Ulumotu’a has the final say on these events when it comes to the family.

According to this custom, the Ulumotu’a in my husband’s family is his older brother, Sioeli. He helped to bring most of his siblings to the United States and has supported several of them while they made the transition. We appreciate all he has done for his brother while at school and for our family.

Robert James Kongaika was born October 2, 1974 in Tonga and he eventually became fluent in the Tongan language. When the family left Tonga to move to Hawaii in 1992, Robert stayed behind and lived with his grandmother, Lu’isa so he could graduate from Liahona High School.

Similar to John Groberg’s son in the movie, The Other Side of Heaven 2, Fire of Faith (2019), Robert nearly died at one point in Tonga. He had a very high fever and lost consciousness when he was less than a year old. We tried to wake him up, but nothing worked. We were frantic and the doctor (Salesi Havili) met us at the hospital. Baby Robert received a shot and he finally started crying. I was so relieved to hear his cry. Since then, he has been strong in body and strong in will.

Robert was named after his grandfather, Robert H. Anderson. My Dad taught him all about airplanes, having been a pilot in World War II. Robert soaked it all in and it stoked his desire to serve in the Air Force.

Robert met his eternal companion, Abi, at BYU-Hawaii. They had four children, Israel, Princess, James, and Robbie. They have all supported and followed him throughout his career in the military. We are all thankful for the time and effort he and the family have put into helping to keep America free and safe.

We are grateful Robert came to our family and appreciate his great example of service! We wish our family ‘Ulumotu’a a very Happy Birthday, !

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, holidays, home, Music, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

My Grandchildren’s Fahu

I am a very fortunate mother. I say that because I have been blessed with a very loving and caring daughter. Many people want a son as their first child, but I believe it is better to have a daughter first. This is a tribute to all loving and caring daughters everywhere, but especially to my own. She was raised in the South Pacific Island of Tonga and is the eldest of four children.

My daughter was born after a very long hard labor, but when I first saw her cute little face, all of the pain and misery left. She actually was a honeymoon baby, born nine months and two days after we were married.

Over the years, we have become best of friends, and at times I feel that she is more of a mother than I am. I had a very troubled childhood and tumultuous teenage years. Perhaps my daughter learned from my mistakes, but she has never been any trouble and has always been there to lift me up.

I am eternally grateful that the Lord saw fit to bless me with such a beautiful and thoughtful daughter. I see the trouble other daughters cause in their family, including myself, and know the Lord was watching out for me when he sent this special spirit to our family.

The saddest day I remember is when my daughter left me to go to university. It took me a long time to get over and her absence was literally painful. But, I knew she had to find her own path and future. Her caring nature carried over into a career. She chose to be a nurse, and I have heard from several of her patients who remark about her loving character. Now she is a Nurse Practitioner and she is a doctor to many, including me.

My daughter and her husband have been blessed with their own beautiful daughter, who is also a sweet and devoted child that bring all of us many smiles and so much joy.

Daughter, I love you so much, more than I ever thought I could love another human being. I am so happy to call you my daughter and hopeful for the mother that I am becoming through you and with you. Thank you for helping me in times of need. I can never repay you for all that you have done for me.

For always and forever, you are the biggest part of my heart.

My daughter’s new daughter
How precious and sweet
Beautifully perfect
From her head to her feet

Ten tiny fingers
And ten tiny toes
All dressed up in lace
With a cute button nose

I look at her face
And I see her bright smile
I have to admit
Takes me back quite awhile

I remember the day
Brought my own daughter home
More precious than anything
I’d ever known

Our daughters are the most precious of our treasures, the dearest possessions of our homes and the objects of our most watchful love.
~ Margaret E. Sangster

A daughter is beauty at its finest.
Heart of an angel, soul so pure, and sweet.
Daughters are one of God’s most precious gifts that he has bestowed upon the world.
Angels in Heaven do not compare to thine beauty, and grace my ever so beautiful, and lovely daughter.


Seeing you at birth brought more joy to me
than all the money in the world could ever do.
You are morning, bright, and shining,
you are noon, you reside at the highest point in my heart,
you are the dew kissed night.
You are my daughter, heart, and soul.
~anonlymous

Art by Ruth Kongaika

So, you may wonder why I entitled this post as “My Grandchildren’s Fahu”. In the Kingdom of Tonga, the eldest sister in a family is revered and given many responsibilities as well as many rewards. https://www.mercyworld.org/_uploads/_ckpg/files/mirc/brief/SenolitaVakata.pdf
This document explains so much about the culture of the Fahu.

Liana has already taken upon herself the “burden” of being our family doctor. Whenever we are sick, she is right there to make sure we get the best care. She will stay up all night with us until she is sure we will be alright. If she really wanted to, she could ask any of her brothers for one of their children (although I’m pretty sure she won’t). She also asks them to take responsibilities by preparing food or giving money for a family member and they oblige willingly. I’m so glad that my sons respect their sister and help her when they can. Although we don’t live in Tonga any more, Liana is a very good example of service to the whole family.

My grandchildren’s fahu,
Liana Olivia Kinikini



Beauty, Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, health, home, Parenting, Religion, travel

Tribute to My Mother-in-law, Luisa Olivia Kongaika

My husband’s mother, Lu’isa Olivia Brown, was born on September 9, 1916. Her father was James Herbert Brown and her mother was Ema Lu’isa Manu Tupou. She was half Caucasian and half Tongan. She was a very beautiful lady with many gifts. She could sew, cook, dance, and she always had a smile on her face when I saw her. Besides her eight natural children, she took care of many other children who consider her their mother. She and her husband served several missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She also worked as a dorm mother at Liahona High School in Tonga and for much of her life she took in sewing for others.

When we lived in Tonga in the 70s, I would often leave my children with Luisa and Viliami. I was often surprised when I returned to pick up the children to find she had sewn them brand new outfits. She was an excellent seamstress and would sew without patterns. She could also bake delicious cakes and then decorate them beautifully. She lived most of her life in Tonga until her husband passed away after which she remained in the United States, living with her children and their families.

Lu’isa never had much in the way of material goods, but she was an elegant lady, always trying to look her best.

When I think of Lu’isa, I think of someone who was always helping others. She fed the missionaries and shared her food with neighbors. She loved all people and they loved her. She was invited to the Tongan Palace because she was a very close relative to the royal family. She was very humble and went only on occasion. She loved her sisters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She and Vili helped many other children than her own.

Lu’isa and her husband, Vili, sacrificed many things to go to the temple to be sealed as a family. Vili passed away before the Tonga Nuku’alofa Temple was built.

Her children rise up and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. ~ Proverbs 31:28-29

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. ~ Proverbs 31:30-31

I shall never forget my mother, for it was she who planted and nurtured the first seeds of good within me. ~ Immanuel Kant

Beauty is God’s handwriting. ~ Charles Kingsley

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed. ~ Storm Jameson

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her. ~ George Washington.

Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. ~ Plato

There is an enduring tenderness in the love of a mother. ~ Washington Irving

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. ~ W.R. Wallace

I’m so grateful Lu’isa was my mother-in-law. She was always a good example to me and our children. She raised a fine son who is my husband, and we try to live the way she and the Lord would want us to.

Sayings and quotes from Mother, I Love You by Helen Steiner Rice.

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I was a Non-traditional Student

I was a non-traditional student. After our four children had successfully finished their college degrees, I returned to school and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in my fifties. I had helped my husband finish both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree.

Robert and Liana when they were students at Liahona High School in Tonga

After raising a family and watching as each of my children graduated from college, I resolved to get a diploma of my own.

Straight out of high school, I secured a job that trained me in a skill, and one which I found enjoyable. Being the independent person that I am, I kept on working. My brother was in medical school, and I felt that I could not burden my parents with more expenses. I began taking one or two classes at a time at a nearby vocational school. Thirty years later, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in my fifties. What a jubilant day that was for me. Several of my grandchildren were there to watch me receive my diploma.

Who is considered a mature student?

Any one over the age of 25 is considered a mature student. Other similar terms that are used are nontraditional students, adult learners, or mature learners. Currently, the world’s oldest graduate was a Nola Ochs, a woman from Kansas, who graduated along side her granddaughter.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/LifeStages/story?id=3167970#.T1GDwswWW-M

Reasons for returning to school as a mature student.

Liana graduated from BYU Provo – Nursing

Other motives that may drive a person to return to school include: changing a career, personal ambitions, fulfillment of a dream, learning a new skill, improving an inborn talent, starting a business, or just learning to keep the cobwebs out by stimulating the mind.

Who would subject themselves willingly to homework, lectures and exams? Often individuals have taken time out from their education to have a family, see the world, serve in the military or to serve on a church mission, take care of ailing parents, or a myriad of other reasons.

Differences between regular and mature students

Perhaps the biggest difference in younger and more mature students today is their knowledge of the latest technology. I remember how apprehensive I was when I first started taking my courses. I taught myself how to use the computer, but was not sure if I was up to the level required to complete my assignments. Some classes required class discussions online, and I had to learn this skill. 

Dr. Kinikini and husband, Siope (Doctorate of Nursing)

One reason I wanted to get my degree was to be able to have intelligent conversations with other college graduates and even my children. They were always telling me what they had learned in their university classes and I often found it so interesting. My main reason for returning to school was to prove to myself that I could do it. I was a mediocre student in high school because I did not really apply myself. I knew I had it in me to get better grades. I also wanted to improve my knowledge and skills for personal and professional benefits.

I was older than many of my professors, but the majority of them were very polite, respectful and helpful. I think they knew I wasn’t there to play around, so they were generally eager to assist me.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Kongaika

Just walking in and seeing all the youthful faces was trepidation in itself. Often the teacher would ask us to separate into small groups to discuss the topic at hand. I felt a little awkward, not wanting to push my elderly self into a group that may not appreciate my life experiences. Many of the youthful students were there because someone else wanted them in school, and they were more interested in the social aspects of college life.

In one of my classes I got quite perturbed at the childishness of some students. The same ones would come and sit in the back of the room, and talk and laugh the whole time. The professor didn’t kick them out (although I wish he had), and I couldn’t concentrate with that nonsense. I would turn around and look at them, hoping they would notice my frustration, but it didn’t seem to phase them. 

I was always amused at the students that would put their heads down on their desks and go sound to sleep. The professors usually ignored them, since the students (or their parents) were the ones paying dearly for their naps. 

At one point, I decided to take an online course, thinking that was the way to deal with the impish actions of my classmates. However, I soon discovered that it was harder without personal interaction with the professors. 

So, maturity is definitely a big difference between regular and mature students. Hence, the name “mature student!”

At times I would not understand an abstract idea or not know how to use the appropriate technology, and would ask the student sitting next to me for help. Often they were willing to help me out, but a few of them changed seats the next time we met for class. I tried hard not to bother the younger set with my mental deficiencies, and would save my questions for the professor. 

Joel’s Graduation – Communications (BYU – Hawaii)

Disadvantages to being a mature student

Often the mature students have more obligations. They may have to balance work, family, and school, with multiple pressures from each. Late-night study sessions can take a toll on you when you have to get up and perform at your job the next morning. Babies and little children don’t really care that you are taking classes, because they think that they should be the center of your world. Even spouses need to get on board, otherwise they may feel neglected when you cannot be there because of scholarly obligations.

Unlike the younger students, there are not so many other mature students to interact with. It is advantageous if you can find one of your peers at school to befriend. They can better understand where you are at in life. One thing I did not appreciate was when my classmates called me “madam,” but I guess they could have called me much worse!

The physical aspects of an older student may affect learning. The inability to see, hear, move freely, and keep up with assignments may be impaired and affect learning. Cognitive impairment and personality disorders can also affect a mature student’s ability to perform in college.

My biggest challenge in going to school as a mature student, was getting over my phobia of tests. I would fret and worry before a test, and get myself into such a state, that I could not recall the facts I had studied so hard. I would read, reread, and review my books and notes until I had it all down. Then I had to force myself to take a break before the test, to watch a show or listen to some music. I learned that taking a bike ride or walk also helped. Once I got to the testing center, I would take a deep breath and then begin the exam. The more I took tests, the better I got at it. Then, of course, I would reward myself afterward with an ice cream cone or chocolate. 

Jacob, the BYU-Hawaii Graduate
with his teacher, M. Alisa
Bachelor of Arts

Advantages to being a mature student

Today’s educational system offers much more for the mature student compared to a decade ago. 

Flexible schedules are offered, which include evening classes on campus and online. Some universities let you take classes at your own pace, rather than expecting you to complete a fixed number of credits in a semester. 

There are grants and scholarships available for nontraditional students, and some institutions will even consider your work experiences and professional qualifications towards your degree.

Some employers are willing to send their employees to school to benefit their business, and pay for tuition and books. Also, educational expenses can be used as a tax break.

Mature students are not as intimidated by the teacher, since they are often their peers. They have usually gained confidence in their former interactions with adults. Because of life experiences, a golden ager can put the class material into context better than an overconfident inexperienced person. Older students have had time to figure out what they really want out of life and they can choose a field of study that they are passionate about. Another advantage to going to school later in life is that you can ask your kids to help you with your homework!

Is it worth the struggle to return to school?

Even though it was difficult to take care of our children, be supportive of my husband, work, and go to school, I feel it was well worth all the sacrifices I may have made. It definitely was not easy being the senior citizen in the group. I felt I had to validate myself to the other students as well as my professor. The sense of achievement I felt after reaching my goal is immeasurable. It was so fun to see the adoring faces of my grandchildren as I accepted their leis and balloons on my graduation day. 

So, is it wise to return to school as a mature student? It definitely is if you have not quenched your desire for knowledge and college is a good match for you. There is so much more in this beautiful world to learn.

Ruth Kongaika

rkongaika@gmail.com

Ruth Elayne Kongaika was raised in the mainland, USA, but has been living in the South Pacific for the past forty years. She enjoys trying to capture the beauty of the islands through her photography, painting and writing. She has a blog which shares some of her art and favorite subjects at:

http://www.grandmabloggers.com

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel

Children are Like Flowers

“Children are like flowers. Let them bloom by giving them your warm smiles, your soft gentle words falling on them like rain and your art of confidence. You will be amazed at your own garden.”

Abaida Mahmood

I love gardening and watching flowers bloom in the spring and throughout the summer months. I have noticed how our grandchildren are much like flowers. When you care for them and shower them with love (and food), they blossom into such beautiful creatures. This blog post will be about the similarities between grandchildren and flowers. All the pictures of flowers were from our garden or flowers I received. I will compare them with pictures of our grandchildren. Some pictures I have embellished or used another app to enhance their beauty. I also do it sometimes with the grandchildren, although they don’t need it as much! I also include quotes about children and flowers.

Oftentimes, we like to actually decorate the children with flowers or foilage. So pretty!

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. Children in a family are like flowers in a bouquet: there’ s always one determined to face in an opposite direction than the way the arranger desires.

Some children get crowded out, just like some flowers!

I enjoyed putting this post together, especially seeing my beautiful grandchildren. They are the flowers I dream about and pray for every night.

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

My Hometown of Orem Utah

Just in case my grandchildren are a little curious about where I grew up, I will post this here. Many years ago, my parents moved our family from a tiny little farm town in Fairview, Utah to Orem, Utah. This is where I attended elementary school, junior high and high school, held my first job, and dated my husband; hence the majority of my developmental years were spent in Orem.

Kirk, Janet and myself in front of our first home in Orem on Orchard Drive

I remember when we first moved there when I was only four years old, many apple, cherry and other fruit tree orchards covered the acres of fields, and an occasional cluster of homes were developed here and there. The relatively small town was in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains where we enjoyed the four seasons.

One landmark I hope will always be there is the Timpanogos Mountain . I climbed up this rather steep mountain as a youth several times, and there is an awesome cave up there.

The cave consists of three spectacular caverns. Helictites and anthodites and other formations can be found in the cool cave. You can take a guided tour of the cave. The hike takes about one and a half hours going up and a half hour down. The length of the hike is one and a half miles. You don’t want to miss it if you live here or are passing through! Here is a link to a site giving you tips before you go: https://www.nps.gov/tica/planyourvisit/safety.htm

Most of the town’s income in the early years came from the orchards or farms and also from the Geneva Steel Plant, which provided many jobs. I remember that the economy of the town seemed to fluctuate according to the steel industry. If there was a particularly hard winter, the farmers would have a hard year since many of their orchards were lost. The farmers would stay up some nights trying to keep their trees warm during harsh weather.

The main religion in Orem is Mormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the majority of the townspeople are Caucasian until more recently. It was very rare to find anyone that was not a member of the church in the vicinity. I don’t believe I met my first friend that was not Caucasian until I was in junior high school. I remember being intrigued by a young American Indian boy from the reservation who had foster parents in our town. There is not a temple yet in Orem, but that would be a real blessing if there was. The nearest temple is in Provo. That is where we were married.

Provo City Temple

I have witnessed marked changes in my hometown of Orem. Now there are only a spattering of orchards amidst the many neighborhoods of lower, middle and upper income homes. Malls and parking lots have also replaced them. Freeways make the travel to other towns and cities much quicker. There is now a bus system that goes all the way to Salt Lake City. It used to take at least an hour’s drive to Salt Lake City where we would travel to do major shopping. Now the once lazy little towns like Pleasant Grove, American Fork, and Lindon merge into one another all the way to Salt Lake. The freeway makes it much faster to get around.

Geneva Steel used to be the main industry in Orem, but has been closed due to the foreign competition and higher labor costs. Another problem with the steel plant was the never-ending problem of pollution. Many regulations had to be passed on the smokestacks in order to control the pollution caused by the steel production, and some days the air was obviously dangerous to our health and also the lake that was adjacent to the plant.

Sunset at Utah Lake

The economy changed drastically when the computer emerged and Orem became a center of computer technology. Because the cost of living remained relatively low, many people moved in from California and other more expensive places. People now fly in from all parts of the world to enjoy the great snow just up the canyon from Orem.

The little sleepy orchard town I knew as a youth has grown so much that it is quite hard to recognize. The traffic rivals that of larger cities and the diversity of the population is very obvious. One of the few recognizable landmarks that still remain is the Scera Theatre where I spent many summer nights.

The Scera Theater

Most people that live in Utah have at least one fruit tree in their yards. My father has prunes, apples, and apricots. Some still remember what a great orchard town Orem used to be.

Money Magazine once named Orem as America’s most livable community. It is getting a bit too big now, so not sure if that still applies.

My father still lives in Orem and the back view out of his bay window is the great Timpanogos Mountain (may it forever stand)!

Utah is known during winter for their great ski resorts. Just up the canyon from Orem, there are some ski resorts that can challenge the best or be great training ground for the beginning skiier. Yes, I have been skiing up at Sundance, and it was beautiful and very cold! Park City is not far away as well as many other skiing resorts.

Sundance Resort and ski area actually offer year round activities for everyone, including a ski resort, summer outdoor theater, great dining and shopping.

Approximately 20,000 people attend Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival every year. Several films that premiered at the festival have received Oscar, Emmy and International Film Festival awards.

On the way up the canyon from Orem is an impressive double cataract waterfall. It is called Bridal Veil Falls. It is most impression in Spring and Summer. The falls are 607 feet tall. There is a small park in front of the falls where you can take your lunch and watch the falls.

I have spent many an hour mesmerized by this waterfall, especially in Spring when the runoff is great. It is a wonderful place to chill and enjoy nature at its finest. I believe I have taken all of my grandchildren to see the falls.

Grandpa and some of the grandkids at Bridal Veil Falls

Orem is where my mother is buried and here are some of the grandkids visiting her.

Beauty, Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, health, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Tweens, Teens, and Onward!

I am at that stage where my grandkids are between the ages of 10-21. I miss them as babies terribly. They were much cuter then! I miss their wanting to play with me and even playing with my toys. Now the only toys I have are the ones I use while tutoring English in China. Oh, well!

Most of our grandchildren have made it through the awkward years while some of them are still awkward! Many of them wore or wear glasses, have worn or wear braces, and some have transitioned from squeaky little voices to deep bass tones. It has all been very slow but steady. Adolescence! Some have had acne, others somehow missed that. Of our children, half had it and the other half didn’t. Accutane helped when we needed it, albeit my pimple-popping self got in the way a bit.

I’m kind of sad that this summer went by so fast! I was able to spend some time with each of the grandchildren, except for one who is trying to graduate from college soon. We had get togethers and some even slept over. The house nearly burned down, but all in all, I feel a bit closer to each of them because of our recent family reunion.

Now that the children are back in school, I find myself missing them more and have taken up a few more hobbies to keep me busy. Even Grandpa is busy driving cars for Budget. He also serves in the temple two days a week and also gives Patriarchal blessings in our stake. I am left to ponder more, study the scriptures, write, paint, make jewelry, sell my used clothes on Poshmark, teach English, and pray. Life is good!

We were blessed with goodly children (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around)? The Lord knew I would need a daughter first who would be my best friend and greatest support. She has so much patience and charity for everyone. Each one of my children have been a great blessing to our family. I could not asked for more!

So, how can I help these grandchildren of ours through the trying “awkward years”?

I have come up with a few ideas and will share them here:

  1. Listen to them and validate that their feelings are real. I remember when I was a teen, no one seemed to validate my feelings. My grandparents seemed too “old” to talk to about those things. My parents were too busy and my brother seemed to be the perfect son, achieving high grades, not interested in sports or girls (what?) Then there was me – not academically innate, very clumsy, preferred boys to girls, and emotional. I hope my experiences can help me be more in tune with my grandchildren if and when they are willing to share their thoughts and feelings with me.
  2. Respect! I think it is important to show respect to the grandchildren. I am so happy that my grandchildren are immovable in their faith and commitment to live the Gospel. They have self confidence and are not afraid to put themselves “out there”! I admire how they love others and how they obey their parents. They dress modestly and try to take care of their own responsibilities.
  3. I am aware that our brains do not fully function until we are 25 years old. Any irrational choices we make before could really be excused, but I know these grandchildren are way ahead of where I was at their age! Give them a break! Don’t put them down! Growing up is not easy for anyone that I am aware of. When we understand that, we will give these children space to make mistakes of their own so they can learn from them.
  4. It is not good to compare grandchildren – that happened to me and it was not advantageous in the long scheme of things. I appreciate each grandchild for their uniqueness in abilities and characteristics.
  5. One of my greatest joys each week is attending sacrament meeting with one of my granddaughters. She leads the congregation in hymn and does such a wonderful job. She is cheerful and comes early to make sure everything is set up. Then she comes and sits by me. She is such a great example to me. I know some of my ideas are foreign to her, but she has patience with me. I try to be a good example for her also.
  6. When I was young, I didn’t get the opportunity to share experiences, feelings, and actually just talk to my grandparents. When three of my grandchildren came back from the South Pacific after spending two weeks with their grandpa, they asked questions like, “Why does everyone love grandpa and want to help him when he goes back to his homeland?” I think it was a great experience for them to see that he is not just an old grumpy guy but is well respected in his own society!
  7. One thing I have learned is to watch my words. I know when the grandchildren are around they are listening to everything that comes out of my mouth. I should not gossip, not talk bad about my husband or leaders, never swear, and be as positive as I can (not an easy task). Words said in anger are hard to forget!
  8. Our grandchildren come in varying sizes and shapes. I love each one just the way they are and should never put them down because of the way they look. It is difficult with so much available to eat all the time and I know when they get interested in finding a mate they will take good care of themselves. Body image is a sensitive subject to all of us.
  9. I have enjoyed getting to know more about my grandchildren’s friends. Their friends are very influential and I am always happy to meet them. It is good to know why they like them and what good characteristics they possess.
  10. One thing I have learned recently is that my grandchildren do not want me to know everything about them. They need their privacy and time away from Grandma. Above all is to enjoy whatever time we have together. Make it a happy, beneficial time. Last Christmas I did something totally different than any time before. I am a thrifter and all of my grandchildren know I pick up things that I think they might like during the year. Then during Christmas, I laid them all out and let them choose what they wanted – two gifts. That way I don’t buy something for them they will never use and everyone is happy. I asked one grandchild how they liked it and they told me it was great, so I may have to do it again. Christmas gifting is one of my most difficult challenges.

Sorry to have rambled on and on…feel free to add your ideas on how to interact with grandchildren or what has worked for you. I’m sure there are many more.

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Grandma Moses, the Artist

A German proverb says, “The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit.” Besides my own Grandmother Anderson, an amazing self-taught artist, Grandma Moses, truly inspires me. Anna Mary Robertson, a painter known as Grandma Moses, lived until she was 101 years old. She only started painting when she was 76 years old. Her paintings hang in nine museums in the United States, Paris, and Vienna.

The reason she took up painting so late in life is because arthritis had made it impossible for her to hold her needle to embroider, her favorite hobby. However, she could hold a brush just fine, and not wanting to be idle, she began painting. Today, she is one of the best-known American artists in Europe.

Grandma Moses’ Quotes

  • “If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens.”
  • “I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hill, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people.”
  • “I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented; I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

Grandma Moses had her own unique style, which proved to be very popular. Well known for nostalgic scenes in gay colors, she illustrated farm life and the countryside. She had a knack for bringing a simple scene to life.

An art collector saw some of her paintings in a drug store priced from $3 to $5 each. He purchased all of her available art, and the following year she ended up having an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Her art was reproduced on Hallmark Christmas cards, on tiles and fabrics throughout the world.

Grandma Moses had her own unique style, which proved to be very popular. Well known for nostalgic scenes in gay colors, she illustrated farm life and the countryside. She had a knack for bringing a simple scene to life.

A Beautiful World by Grandma Moses

A German fan said of her art:

There emanates from her paintings a light-hearted optimism; the world she shows us is beautiful and it is good. You feel at home in all these pictures, and you know their meaning. The unrest and the neurotic insecurity of the present day make us inclined to enjoy the simple and affirmative outlook of Grandma Moses.

Grandma Moses painted only from her memory. She wanted to share how she lived when she was young with everyone. In her 25 years of painting, she produced more than 1,000 pictures, 25 of which she painted after she turned 100 years old. The price of her paintings $3 to $5 each to $8,000 to $10,000 each. One of her paintings, Sugaring Off (1943), was her highest selling work, bought for $1.2 million USD in November of 2006.

Her work has been compared to that of Henri Rousseau. The particular style they share designates those artists who live in a developed and sophisticated society, but are not trained in artistic perception and lighting. In Grandma Moses’ words, “we make amateur art that sells.”

Shenandoah Valley (1938)

Alas, the story of Grandma Moses would not be complete without the other part of her biography, which is that she had given birth to ten children, half of which died in infancy. She started working as a hired girl at age 12, and continued until she was 27 when she met and married Thomas Salmon Moses. As an adult, she lived in Virginia and made butter and potato chips, selling them to her neighbors. She continued to run the farm with her son after her husband passed.

One of Grandma Moses’ paintings, Fourth of July, hangs in the White House, and was painted in honor of President Eisenhower.

I would be happy to have a tenth of the fame Grandma Moses did with her art. She is truly inspirational and she was not worried about technique or criticism. She just loved painting.

Some of my art instructors told me that I paint in a simplistic manner – much like Grandma Moses. I suppose I am in good company then!

Some of my artwork – Elayne Kongaika
I paint because I love to!
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God Bless the Child Who Suffers

Baby Lily Ruth

The lyrics from a Shania Twain song beseeches God to bless the child who suffers. Halleluiah! Every time I hear it, I cry a little. It reminds me of my youngest granddaughter. In the womb, her backbone did not develop correctly so she would never be walk alone on this earth. I know that we all have something wrong with us, either physically, mentally, or otherwise. None of us are perfect. Our DNA may be tainted so that we are predisposed to certain conditions. God give us hope. We all need someone to hold our hand and help us through this life.

My journey with Lily began before she was born. Her birth was abruptly followed by two surgeries, one to close her back and one to put a shunt in her head to drain out extra fluid. She has had no feeling below her waist since then. Lily and her family have made the best of what she was given.

Lily was a poster child for a wheelchair company

Lily has a pitch-perfect voice and she is not too shy to sing alone on a stage before hundreds of people. Thanks to Friend to Friend, she is able to participate in musicals every six months.

Now it is ten years later and she just finished three surgeries. She has been blessed with goodly parents who have raised her to participate in many activities, no matter how hard. She has played softball, basketball, tennis, wheelchair dancing, and she recently rode in a hot-air balloon! There is hardly any limit to what Lily can do.

Lily skiing.

Lily had been so active going up and down stairs unassisted until her leg got swollen and it was discovered that she had broken one of her legs. Because of where her leg was broken, that leg stopped growing.

Lily is outgoing and makes friends easily. Her personality overcomes any obstacles that may get in her way.

Lily is very expressive in her dancing.

Lily’s father and siblings recently made a trip to the South Pacific with her Grandpa ‘Isi. For those with disabilities, traveling internationally can be very challenging. Third-world countries rarely have ramps or doors that open for wheelchairs. Lily stayed with her mother and waited for news from the islands. America is quite aware of and make efforts to help people in wheelchairs, but not all places are accessible. The LDS church just put out a video which is quite telling.

Thought provoking video.
Lily loves the beach. This was on a visit in Hawaii!

Lily’s family, including both parents and siblings, were born and raised in Hawaii. The medical care there was not sufficient to handle the needs of a child born with severe spina bifida. So, the family moved to Utah.

Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City as well as Shriners have helped immensely when she got sick or needed special medical help.

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Lily has brought so much to our family. More empathy, more kindness, more understanding, more service, and so much more. I can’t imagine my life without Lily!! I love her so much!


She has enriched our lives and make us feel closer to heaven. She recently gave me a ride on her chair lift up and down the stairs. Her parents have done all they could to meet her needs.

Lily Ruth Kongaika

We are so grateful she came to earth and look forward to a time when Heavenly Father will bless her with a whole perfect body.

Here is an exceptional young man with spina bifida who made the best of things, Aaron Fotherinham!

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Vava’u Portion of the Tonga Mission Reunion 1989-92

After a fun and relaxing time in Ha’apai , former President ‘Isileli Kongaika, his son Joel, and three grandchildren boarded a boat headed for the Vava’u Islands in Tonga. Unlike former trips made by the Kongaika family on the ‘Olovaha, this newer boat, the MV. Tongiaki had the latest equipment and was supposed to provide a comfortable ride. Unfortunately, the sea was very rough and all but one of the family got seasick.

The following notes are from President Kongaika. He makes more detailed ones since he was actually on the trip:

Boat ride to Vava’u

Left Ha’apai at 2:00 pm on speed ferry and arrived 6 pm to Puatalefusi harbor at Neiafu, Vava’u.

All the kids including Joel and the newly called missionary called to  serve in New York, Sione Filimoe’ulie got seasick. This missionary has never been outside of Tonga!

Trying to recover from seasickness at Saineha High School in Vava’u

Greeted by planning committee at the wharf and transported to our prepaid house at Neiafu. A home with 5 beds and 2 baths, gorgeous back porch view of the famous Lolo ‘a Halaevalu Harbor.

The Vava’u Group – please tag!

We were invited to have a welcome potluck dinner with all the returned missionaries serving with us from 1989-1992. It was held at the Saineha High School Gymnasium. From 8-10pm

  • Everyone who came introduced themselves with spouses and children.
  • Pres. Mosaia To’a, our Vava’u group chair introduced his officers and gave a welcome remarks while we ate. He also outlined the plan for the rest of our gathering for the next four days. Aug 8-11.
  • At the close of the evening I was asked to respond and expressed gratitude to all who had any hand in the planning and carrying out of the plan. They have learned well from their mission experience the commitment pattern in carrying out their activities.   

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

  • Pres To’a arranged for a seven-passenger van for us to rent while in Vava’u. Bro. Filimoe’ulie was our designated driver.
  • Joel and Kids dropped me and Filimoe’ulie to meet the ministering committee at the stake center and they went to do some sightseeing around Neiafu and do some laundry. 
  • We went to visit a sister who was married outside of the covenant and is no longer active. It was a good visit both for us as well as for this mother. We extended an invitation for her and her family to join us in the activities as we celebrate our 30th year reunion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

  • We went on to visit three graves of our missionaries who had recently passed away, leaving behind widows and children. We presented flowers in each of these graves. The missionaries were Alavini Vea, Sione Fakatava and Viliami ‘Elisa all from Neiafu and Toula.
  • At about 4 pm we went with kids to join the dinner prepared by the Neiafu group to welcome and start our activities in Vava’u. By now JoJo has become proficient in selecting from the spread of foods on the table that he likes and so did Eryn and Anna. JoJo had learned the best part of a roasted pig was the meat along the spine. 
  • A welcome dance was held around 7 pm to 11pm at the same stake center. It was good to see all the missionaries and their spouses came to have an enjoyable evening with other fellow missionaries. I was able to get reacquainted with many with whom we served together 30 years ago. We received many leis and food to last a while.

Friday, August 9, 2019

  • We decided to take the kids on a trip around the Island and show them where I served in Vava’u some 55 years ago. We started at Neiafu our zone leader headquarters. We drove to Leimatu’a through Mataika and Felecia. Leimatu’a was where I had served for about 2 months and then was assigned to transfer to Longomapu for 8 months
  • We drove on to Longomapu through Tefisi. I was able to show the kids the backwoods of Vava’u and saw a horse being used for transportation as well as the manual laborer.
  • This is where we cleared land given to the Church for a little house of worship and later it became a ward with a beautiful brick meeting house. The location was so amazing and it overlooks the ocean with a view of the outer islands. 
  • We also visited the location of my first missionary make-shift fale and told how the Lord sent us to activate a less active member in Longomapu. Brother Tau’aika was no longer living in his Longomapu estate. 
  • We drove and looked for Bro Tau’aika who now lives in the village of Tu’anuku. It was good to have Joel and the kids meet the person I had often talked about while on my mission in Longomapu. He and his wife are now aging but still very aware and remembered every detail of our time together. 
  • After the visit to the western side we headed to the Eastern side, that includes Ta’anea, Ha’alaufuli, Tu’anekivale, and Koloa. We visited Koloa where Grandpa Sione Kongaika and Grandma Mele had served a mission as couple leadership missionaries. It was here he made a visionary decision that all church meetings will be held on Sunday, allowing them to do ministering work on other days of the week. We had to drive through a crossways from the end of Tu’anekivale to this tiny island called “Koloa” (treasure). I am uncertain what the treasure was in this tiny remote island. 
  • We drove back and stopped at Ta’anea to have another feast prepared by the Eastern group. It was an excellent meal, however the kids and Joel decided after that long tour around the the main island of Vava’u, they had had enough for the day and broke off for an evening of private pizza dinner in Neiafu.
  • Around 7 – 10 pm the Eastern group hosted another dancing activity and invited all to come and mingle and dance. It was so fun to see the future of the Kingdom in these activities. They enjoyed good clean fun.

Saturday AUGUST 10, 2019 Touring the island district.

  • This group was headed by Pres Saipa’ia who served with us. Pres. Saipa’ia is my cousin from the ‘Isileli Tupou descendants. He had gained permission from the Mission President for us to use the Missionary speedboat named Alma to tour the Islands in Vava’u namely, Noapapu, Matamaka, Talihau, Otea, Pangai Motu and others I can’t remember.
  • It was a great day for boating and swimming. First we drove to the bridge that connects Talau to Vaimalo. This is where we used to swim across the channel to get to Neiafu for Missionary work days. Now they drive or ride a bike or walk this road. 
  • We then headed out by Tefisi and Tu’anuku to the Sparrows Cave. Here we drove into the cave and Joel and some of the kids who joined us got brave and jumped in for a swim. The kids just observed as they were nervous about getting out of the boat. We drove around these islands for an opportunity for sightseeing. We headed back to Neiafu and took a rest before we drove out to Pangaimotu for the evening dinner picnic at a place called the Ano (lake) 
  • Again, we enjoyed a gathering with families of our Vava’u 89-92 Returned Missionaries as we broke bread together over another outpouring of anga’ofa (love). The kids enjoyed the barbecue dishes and they had also barbecued a lamb as they do little suckling pigs. Many speeches and tau’olunga (dances) were given to entertain the crowd. As always, I was asked to give the closing remarks signaling the close of the activity.

Sunday AUGUST 11

  • We were invited to join any ward or branch we wanted to. So we attended the Leimatu’a ward for two hours.
  • Joel and the kids went home for lunch which was prepurchased. I joined the rest of the party with a pot luck lunch at Saineha under the huge mango tree. Here we had the traditional favorite dishes like lo’i lesi, veihalo, and vaihopa, to name a few. There were always fresh young coconuts to drink. We also had some good sharing as we ate together under this huge mango tree.
  • At 7 pm we started out missionary fireside and most people did not show up until around 8 pm. It was a time for remembering God’s tender mercies while we served as His missionaries. 
  • I closed this fireside with an invitation to focus our gospel study at home, following  the Come Follow Me course of study, if we are to know, love and serve Christ more. 
  • The other invitation was to live the new commandment to “Love one another as Christ has loved us.” The image is in the Tongan Proverb to “PIKIPIKIHAMA-KAE- VAEVAEMANAVA MANAVA” – remember the poor and the needy, the widows and homeless and the sick and those in prison. Love them as Christ loved us all.
A yachters paradise – Vava’u

Monday 12 AUGUST 

  • We just relaxed, paid our bills, and got ready to fly home to Tongatapu.
  • Some things have not changed over these many years. We were scheduled to fly out at 5:30 am and was later delayed to 3:30 pm. While at the airport we were told it was delayed one more hour so did not get off the island until 5:30 pm.
  • We checked in to a house that Joel had reserved online and they enjoyed a pizza dinner provided by Alavini and Mokiana Sika. Pres Sika and Mokiana took me to a farewell family home evening with whomever were left in Tongatapu before we departed for home the next day. Again, we had a wonderful evening of activities focused on helping single mothers of our group with necessary items for their homes. We raised some money to be divided among these widows. 
  • Of course a good Tongan meal always accompanied a gathering like this. At the end I reminded them of our reunion invitations:
  • Focus in Gospel study in our homes by following diligently the “Come Follow Me” curriculum of the church.
  • Live the best we can the new commandment to “Love One-another as I have Loved You” The image of PIKIPIKIHAMA- KAE- VAEVAEMANAVA is to represent the commandment as we strive to care for the poor and needy, widows and fatherless as well as those who are sick and in Prison. 

Check back for more photos of the Tonga Mission Reunion 1989-1992 in Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u tomorrow!!

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Ha’apai Part of the Tonga Mission Reunion 1989-92

Former Elder Filimoe’ulie was asked be a traveling companion to formerly President Kongaika to make sure everything went well. Isi had been quite sick in Tongatapu without being able to speak and the committee felt he needed someone to go to Ha’apai and Vava’u with him. Thanks for taking care of Grandpa!

Ha’apai Boy Back Home!! Joyful Celebration!

President Kongaika of the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission 1989-92 was back home again after a long sojourn in the desert valley of Utah. He had missed this little island where he had grown up. He had thought the whole world revolved around his small island and now that he was home, he didn’t want to leave again. He said it was so peaceful and for the most part unaffected by the world.

As for the grandchildren, this was their first time to set foot on the soil of Pangai, Ha’apai. Son, Joel had been born in Provo, Utah and his children Anna, Eryn, and Joseph (Jojo) had been born and raised in Hawaii. They had heard many tales from their grandfather about growing up in the islands of Ha’apai and Nuku’alofa, but now they were actually seeing it with their own eyes. How wondrous and marvelous to experience the land, sea and air of this nation where time seems to have a different meaning, far from the crowded noisy cities.

Happy familiar faces greeted the excited group and made them feel at ease. Some of our missionaries now have children serving missions. So happy they could carry on in the service of the Lord.

The traveling group moved into the Mission Home near the wharf on Pangai. Isi and Ruth had stayed there several times when they served their mission. They had even entertained one of the general authorities, Elder and Sister Glenn Rudd, in this home. The kids said it was quite different than what they are used to, but it was quite comfortable except for a few spiders and other bugs.

Only three of our RMs were involved in the planning of the activities in Pangai, but ‘Isi said they went all out. Thank you all including the Stake President, Tonga Onevai, for your efforts in making it a very memorable trip. They were also able to visit some of missionaries who had married out of the faith and were welcomed.

The kids were able to go to the local elementary school. They were impressed that the children were so willing to sing for them and make them feel welcome. Anna, Eryn, and Jojo in return sang for the school children. They said they feel that the people are so service oriented and look out for one another.

The first project on Grandpa Isi’s mind was to find his grandfather Sione Kongaika’s grave and clean up the area. This was an act of love and service to honor his grandfather. The Kongaika name came from Sione because he was always in the sea. The name means “part fish”. Before that the family name was ‘Aholelei. He was a very active convert in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His wife Mele had raised Isi’s father, Viliami.

Sione Kongaika the fourth from the left in back. Viliami is the boy in front third from the left with bandage on head.

Once Sione’s grave site was cleaned up, others came to help clean up the graves of some palangi elders who had died in the service of their God, Elder Rasmussen and Elder Oborn. They gave their all!

Beautiful beach on Pangai, Ha’apai

You can see the beauty of Ha’apai from these photos. The kids had a new friend in AJ who could speak English very well and showed them the ropes. Isi was talking with Ruth in Utah to tell her all about the trip.

The travelers were treated to feasting and dancing. The kids were surprised that the children would shoo the flies the whole time they were eating. What a selfless act of kindness that was.

The group traveled to Foa on the causeway and the kids had fun collecting shells for Grandma Ruth and enjoying the gorgeous beaches. Isi laid under a coconut tree and felt very grateful for having been able to return again to his islands of Ha’apai.



There was a special fireside held and the main topic was “The Gathering of Israel”. Many participated and it was more of a discussion than a talk by President. It was noted that there were some BYU-Hawaii graduates now living in Ha’apai and serving where they can. “Isi reminisced about the simple faith of the people he grew up with in Ha’apai and he loved every minute he was there.

To be continued… next – Vava’u and more pictures throughout the trip!!

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Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u Mission Reunion Trip 2019 with the Kongaikas

Isi met Joel and kids in Auckland, New Zealand. Ruth, Meilani, and Lily awaited anxiously for any news, pictures, and videos from the islands.

Welcoming Committee

The missionaries had planned all of the reunion in the respective islands of Tonga. They had arranged for a place to stay for the travelers, transportation, food to eat, and entertainment. They outdid themselves royally! Many thanks to all who helped out in any way to take care of this bunch.

Here are some good looking people that took care of ‘Isi, Joel, and the three grandchildren.

Of course, a Tongan Mission Reunion would not be complete without a trip to the temple and a service project. Also, our missionaries ministered to several of our RMs including widows, sick, and those in prison as Jesus has taught each of us to do.

There was feasting, dancing, and loving.

Tonga Nuku’alofa Temple

Pictures of ministering:

Feasting:

More feasting at Kanokupolu Resort

Dancing!

We are as popular as the Jets! haha

It is good to know we are still remembered in the islands. We have the souvenir of the poster with our family on it and a water bottle with our picture on it also. Then there were two different colors of t-shirts that referenced our mission. We are so grateful for all the love that was shown to us by our missionaries.

One highlight of the trip was for President Kongaika to meet with Elder and Sister Fie’eiki who served as our senior office couple. I don’t know how we could have done it without them.

‘Ofa atu Elder mo Sister Fie’eiki mo famili!

Isi, Joel and the kids stayed at Liahona where we used to live for ten years before our mission call.

Temporary home at Liahona High School

The Hahake Group also had a feast and a dance at Pelehake Chapel.More pictures – sorry if I left anyone out. Please tag everyone!

Brother Kongaika even got to visit his home in Kahoua that his father built.

Maybe we could all move back to Tonga and live in our little house in Kahoua!!

To be continued…next – Ha’apai!!

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Kongaika Tonga Reunion Trip August 2019

‘Isileli Tupou Kongaika served as the Mission President in the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission from 1989-1992. His family including wife, Ruth and children, Liana, Robert, Joel, and Jacob lived in the Sopu Mission Home those three years.

Since then, he has lived in Hawaii and then retired to the Salt Lake City area in Utah. In August, 2019, he met with Joel, his son, and three grandchildren, Anna, Eryn, and Joseph in Tonga and they stayed for two weeks traveling around Tongatapu, to the island of Pangai, Ha’apai, and Vava’u.  Grandma Kongaika stayed home as well as Joel’s wife Meilani and daughter, Lily.

On the way to Tonga, ‘Isi stopped over in Auckland, New Zealand, where he met with many of his former missionaries and families. They shared memories of their missions and treated their old president with much love and respect. They fed him and encouraged him to speak, but alas, he had lost his voice due to a bad cold. 

The three grandchildren had not been in Tonga before and enjoyed learning more about their grandfather and father’s culture. They endured culture shock, Tongan feasting, mosquitos, cockroaches, high humidity, grandpas long stories, and sea sickness. 

As their grandmother, I was acutely aware of the hazards that the grandchildren might experience. I prayed every day for their safety and well being. Thankfully, all of them survived their trip and made new friends. Grandpa had them very involved with the Tongan missionaries and school children in Tonga. 

All of the traveling group became ill on the trip, but are now on the mend. Grandma was asked several times why she didn’t go also. My excuse is that I had a pretty bad year health wise and didn’t want to get sick again. 

Joel was too excited to return to Tonga and relive his childhood. To be continued…

Cultures, Grandchildren, holidays, home, Parenting, photography, travel

The Best Thing to Give Your Grandchildren

I feel very fortunate to be able to get to know my grandchildren and enjoy their unique personalities. When it comes to giving gifts to them, I have found that they usually do not remember from one birthday or Christmas to the next what we gave to them. I have been trying to think of a gift that will last in their memories and be meaningful. It is very tempting to buy them expensive gifts so they think you are the greatest grandmother in the world. But, that only spoils them, and eventually they all expect it – because the word gets out really quick to brothers, sisters and even cousins. So what are we grandparents to do?

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I have come to the conclusion that the best gift we can give our grandchildren is our time. Keeping in touch often and showing them the attention they may not get from their busy parents is important. I used to be better at this and need to get back in the habit of calling, messaging, using Facetime or Marco Polo (an app).

Pay attention and listen to their funny stories. Ask about their friends, school days and other experiences. Children say the funniest things and we don’t want to miss out.

I did not receive large monetary gifts from my grandparents, but I have something that, to me, is much more valuable. I have their written histories and pictures. My grandmothers wrote journals and even wrote their favorite sayings, poems, recipes, and songs. Through them I am somewhat familiar with their parents, brothers and sisters. I treasure these precious books and pictures, and I am trying to do the same for my grandchildren by keeping my own journal.

My paternal grandparents and a few of us (I’m on the right with the funny hair)!

Another gift I think that is valuable is to teach them how to use money. By gifting them money for special occasions like birthdays and holidays, they will have the opportunity to learn how to use it wisely. My grandkids know that grandma is a thrifter. I shop at thrift shops and last Christmas I just laid it all out and let them choose what they wanted. I think they liked it (you would have to ask them for sure). It is better than getting them something they will never wear, use, or think about again. I have on occasion taken some of my grandchildren thrifting with me and they usually find something they like.

We can encourage our grandchildren to save up for future expenses they will have like college, a car, or their wedding. We can also advise them to spend it on something that they need instead of wasting it on something trivial. We can suggest that they save it up so that they can purchase a more expensive item that they really want. This teaches them about saving and managing their money. This summer we hired our grandson to mow our lawns. He has decided he wants to put together a computer and is saving up to buy each of the parts. He is well on his way to get his computer.

Finally, Grandparents can offer unconditional love to their grandchildren. The world can be a negative place. We can be the light that greets them every time we see them, gives them a hug, a compliment, and listens to them when they are low. We should make time to attend their activities as much as possible and plan playdates to spend quality time with them. I am not consistent in doing this with all of my grandchildren, but hope to get better. That is the reason we retired to Utah from Hawaii – to spend more time with my grandchildren. We don’t know how much longer we will have to be with them and influence them for good, so we should make use of the time we have left.

So, the best gifts that I feel we can give our grandchildren is time, our journal, money management help, and unconditional love. I’m sure there are many more, but I chose to focus on these four at this time.


Artwork, Beauty, buy, Cultures, Finance, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Doing Good at Goodwill Outlet

So, since my husband has been away for a couple of weeks, I decided to do some thrifting at a place not regularly on my radar. I have previously donated to Goodwill on occasion, but have not shopped there. Some friends have seen my recent posts on Facebook about meeting some of our missionaries there, so here is my story.

My first experience at Goodwill was an exciting one. I stood at the front door since I was a bit early for the opening. There were about fourteen individuals that looked primed and ready to go into this large establishment by the train tracks in SLC, Utah. I had no idea what to expect, but had great anticipation since I knew you pay by the pound, not the label.

Once the door was opened, there was a rush to get carts and then off to grab anything of value. You had to watch your step or you might get plowed under in the commotion that ensued. Since I had not been in there before, I was not familiar with the rules of the hunt, so I tried to keep a low profile and stay out of people’s way. Every 15 minutes or so a gang of highly qualified individuals come and take out a row of the bins and replaces it with new bins full of whatever belongs in that spot.

There are well-marked lines on the cement floor where the bins of items have to go. There are about 40 or so bins filled with second-hand clothes, shoes, toys, purses, books, sheets, and the like. The bins at the far end from the cash register have all books. Some people went straight for those bins in an attempt (as I noticed) to gather all the textbooks, no doubt to sell online to students. After gathering up those, they would have a checklist to mark them all off.

Others went straight for the clothes bins. Arms were flying and some would scoop their arms down under the piles of clothes and turn them all upside down in an attempt to be able to see what was at the bottom. The first day I tried to do that and my arms got really sore. Hey, this is good exercise and not for the weary in mind or body! I spent a lot of time looking at labels and found a few items in my size.

There were also quite a few bins of toys, purses, shoes, kitchen gear, and other paraphernalia all mingled together. Good luck finding two shoes that match. They are supposed to be rubber banded together, but that doesn’t last long in the hubbub. However, the first day I brought home five pair of shoes, several pieces of clothing, bags, a few purses, scarves, ties (one was a Giorgio Armani), hats , a Andy Warhol t-shirt, pants for my husband, and decorative doilies for the house. When my arms felt like rubber and I felt I had retrieved a few treasures, I went to weigh the cart. The kind cashier is very helpful. They weigh the cart and all then minus the weight of the cart from the total and that is what you pay. My first haul only cost $30. Wow, I was hooked! Oh, no!

I think of thrifting as a huge treasure hunt. I know there is something that belongs to me in there and I am willing to keep going until I find it! On one of my first trips to Goodwill, I found a beautiful Native American doll with long black hair and the front locks were braided. She was mesmerizing! My mother has an Indian doll and I have always admired it. I was in love! My husband better come back soon or I will spend all my time in this place.

Isn’t she lovely! I feel she was worth more than I paid for all the things I found. Don’t be jealous! If you want her, $50 please.


I found another doll, only this one I have written about before. She is an authentic Madame Alexander Collectible! (with papers) . I was so excited to find her and glad no one else cares about dolls the way I do. She is amongst the First Ladies of the United States series – her name is Betty Taylor Bliss 1849-1850. The clothes are very detailed as well as her face and hair. Again, if you want her, $50 please.

I would like to welcome all my friends and family to join me (unless you think you’re too good to go in there)! Honestly, there is plenty for everyone and since we are all different sizes and have different tastes, there is only a small chance we will want the same things. The only caution is: please stagger your visits because if all the Polys in the valley go at once, we’re in big trouble!

Just as a side note, if you get 24 pounds worth, you will need to go back to get one more pound since it will be cheaper that way. That happened this last time so I went to the book bins and found a huge book about Mary, Queen of Scots (relative), and that threw me into the next category.

Now I have a Madame Alexander doll with her guarantee papers as well as a new Christmas fairy doll. I have listed many of my items on Poshmark where I resell things literally from my closet. My user name is elayne001. So if you are interested, check out:

https://poshmark.com/closet/elayne001

I could spend every morning at Goodwill if it weren’t so far away (takes me about 30 minutes to get there). Also, my bank account would diminish if I keep it up for too long.

The friends I have made there are forever! We don’t try to steal each others stuff and are very considerate. When someone finds a treasure they don’t shout it out to make others feel bad. Once I saw what another person found and I wanted it. He said you can buy it for $50 – such is the life of a reseller.

I ran into some friends from Tonga I hadn’t seen in years. They thrift to send things home to their families in Tonga. Overseas remittances are the greatest income for the little islands. My husband will be surprised when he sees the nice things I found for him at Goodwill, I hope! He took several of his own clothes to give away while he was in his home country.

https://vimeo.com/manage/353130903/general

Check out the video I made after my first treasure hunt at Goodwill. See you there!

Also, if you want to see where I resell items I purchase that are very good, check out my Poshmark closet:

https://poshmark.com/closet/elayne001

Artwork, Beauty, Cultures, Grandchildren, Hawaii, Parenting, photography, travel

Playdate with My Youngest Granddaughter, Lily

Yesterday was a very fun day. My youngest granddaughter, Lily, her mother, and I went to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. I had spent quite a bit of time with my other grandchildren this summer, but this was Lily’s time. It was a day of surprises, delights, and laughter.

There was a butterfly room where a guide would let you have a butterfly for a few minutes. Lily was excited. One flew over and landed on my shoulder.

Lily Ruth gets her middle name from me! She is a joy to our family and very precious. God sent Lily to us and we have learned so much from her. Before she was born, I knew I loved her! I was present at the ultrasound on her mother when it was discovered that Lily had spina bifida. But, that little glitch has not stopped Lily from making a big impression on the world she lives in and all of us! She is 10 and loves school, singing, and playing with Barbies! She also is great at playing tennis, basketball, and giving her brother a hard time!!

Lily’s father and siblings are currently on a long excursion with Grandpa to his tiny islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tonga is not very wheelchair friendly, so she stayed behind with her mother. So, we made a playdate to have some fun together.

People can be very curious about Lily but she is used to it, so she isn’t bothered by it. I’m so glad because it was annoying to me!

The local aquarium is located in Draper, Utah, not too far from where I live. You can more about it at thelivingplanet.com We got there around 1:00 pm and stepped into a world of wild and amazing creatures. I had bought Lily a blue dolphin and she carried it around the whole time we were there. She named it “Bubbles”. 

A crabby crab! Looking for a fight!

As you walk in, there are several huge whales hanging from the ceiling! The aquarium is huge and has many passageways into different areas. The first corridor we went down was entitled Discover Utah. It was cool! There were land turtles and huge river fish. Some fish had humps on their backs. Utah has a few endangered fish that are in the aquarium. There were also ducks, salamanders, tarantulas, and other land animals. 

Pretty jellyfish, but watch out – the sting is very painful!

I enjoyed the jellyfish display (could stare at them forever)! A running commentary about the critters and sea life went along with “oohs” and “awws”, and a few shrieks and cringes. Lily told us what she had learned at school about invasive frogs in Australia and the traps they make there. 

By far, my favorite displays (along with Lily’s) was a huge two level tropical room where birds flew around you and it felt like we had stepped back in time and space to Hawaii! The air was moist and warm. There was a tiny little sloth fast asleep in a little pouch. So cute!

Lily, you are a star in my book!

Also, there was a great wall where you could peer into the undersea world with sharks and other sealife. It is awe inspiring. 

Another favorite was the penguin window. The penguins wobbled, walked on water (it seemed), and swam to our delight except for one big chubby penguin that looked as though he thought he was the king of the lot (too funny)!

Lily and I at the aquarium enjoying God’s creations

We got to see two movies in 4D. One was about the melting glaciers and global warming. The other was a cartoon of Ice Age (hilarious). As you watched, air would blow at the back of your head from the chair! Just when I got relaxed, it would blow again (stop)!

There is so much to see at the aquarium and we loved seeing the variety of creations that God has made. The whole time I was taking video on Marco Polo (it’s an app) and sending it to Lily’s family in Tonga so they could experience some of it too.

In one station you could touch the round coral and see the stingrays and starfish (they felt like velcro). Lily got to hold a starfish! Then she wanted to get out of her chair and touch the huge turtle on the floor.

Lily loving on the turtle!

At one time, I asked a guide where the place was you could watch the dolphins jump! Silly me, that was Sea Life Park in Hawaii where we often took our older grandchildren. Maybe they should have one here any way.

Here’s Lily with an anaconda much longer than herself (cringe)! She felt bad for some of the turtles that were not moving under the water. 

Lily acting brave by the anaconda!

The last place we went was a tunnel under the water where you could see huge sharks swimming overhead. I felt a bit vulnerable, but tried to act normal for all of our sakes.

As for wheelchair access, the place was great, but some of the exhibits blocked the few at wheelchair level. That was very unfortunate. 

All in all, we had a marvelous experience! Love you tons, Lily!

Cultures, Finance, food, Grandchildren, Hawaii, health, home, Parenting, photography, Religion, travel, Uncategorized

Our 50th Class Reunion

Since I have been a grandmother for over 21 years, it was inevitable (if I lived long enough) that I would have a 50th class reunion from the time I graduated from Orem High School. Fifty whole years! Half a century! The invitation to the 50th 1969 Class Reunion arrived at my house and I just stared at it. Indeed, I felt lucky to still be alive since I was aware of several classmates who had passed to the other side. But, still! Where had all that time gone? What had I been up to all of those seconds, minutes, weeks, month, and years?

I attended a few of my class reunions through the years. Some were good experiences and others not so good. I remember our tenth-year reunion. Classmates gathered in their old little groups and it was held at the Elk’s Club in Provo, Utah. I was excited to see my friends and acquaintances and enjoyed visiting with them. Most were recognizable since only a bit of time had passed.

There were dancing and drinking. Wild dancing and drinking (a lot of it). Weren’t we mostly brought up as L.D.S. (aka Mormon)? I was shocked at the state of some of the less sober people I knew. The bars were open for the whole evening. Some shared their successes and some told of their struggles. They announced who had the most children since graduation. The winner was a girl who had gotten pregnant during high school and then continued to have one every other year since. I won’t mention names here.

My two friends and I playing around before our Sadie Hawkins Dance

Some had a spouse attached to their arm and others were single. A few told their stories of abandonment and divorce. Others had been abused while some of their classmates went on to fame and fortune. There was a little bit of everything that could be expected through life. Good and bad! A memorial was read for those that had died in a short ten years. This included our senior class president from a motorcycle accident which had left his wife and child fatherless. What a cold, cruel world it had been for some.

Same friends and I 50 years later!!

Then there were some dressed to the extreme in fashion who took it to a whole new level of debauchery. I am from the “hippie” era but what I was seeing was shocking. I recall wearing mini skirts in high school and being one of the first of our class to be married (and divorced). I remarried to a gentle Polynesian man and that is where my life changed drastically from what I had known before (but I definitely have the cutest grandchildren)!!

Some of my great friends! I’m in blue and green.

Fast forward forty years from our 10th class reunion to today. This recent 50th class reunion was a whole other story. Very surreal and in some ways shocking, but unlike the lasciviousness of the 60s and 70s, current situations made our reunion much calmer and comparatively docile. There was no loud music playing (up until the end), no inappropriate dancing, and no alcoholic beverages being served. Everyone was well behaved and contrite. An occasional outburst was heard when someone finally recognized friends from years gone by.

There were some of us with canes, walkers, oxygen, toupees, and wigs. Some had lost so much weight due to sickness or running too many marathons. Others looked quite well for their advancing age. I heard my friend tell me that at the previous reunion (five years earlier) she had been elected as the one who had changed the least. I agreed with her since that was the best thing for both of us.

This time, our reunion was held at Orem High School (the new one). They had the nerve to tear down our high school and replace it with a newer model. It was air-conditioned and had the latest technology, and I noticed that even the toilets flushed by themselves (we didn’t have that)!

I went to the reunion with a dear friend who had been one of the bridesmaids at my first wedding. Her husband recently passed away and she was now a widow and enjoying life. Several of our classmates had lost their spouse over the years.

I kinda think the lyrics said it all!

We each wore name tags so that when we met someone we didn’t recognize, we could quickly glance at their name and act as though we remembered them well. It was a blast! There was no dancing, but they played some music from the 60s including The Beatles and The Doors. The funniest moment of the night for me was when the lady in charge was told to turn down the