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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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!
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 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 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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!!