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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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!
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, !
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
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 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.
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.
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.
Reasons for returning to school as a mature student.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
“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.”
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.
I enjoyed putting this post together, especially seeing my beautiful grandchildren. They are the flowers I dream about and pray for every night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Magazineonce 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.
Orem is where my mother is buried and here are some of the grandkids visiting her.