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

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!