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, !
Yesterday was a very fun day. My youngest granddaughter, Lily, her mother, and I went to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. I had spent quite a bit of time with my other grandchildren this summer, but this was Lily’s time. It was a day of surprises, delights, and laughter.
There was a butterfly room where a guide would let you have a butterfly for a few minutes. Lily was excited. One flew over and landed on my shoulder.
Lily Ruth gets her middle name from me! She is a joy to our family and very precious. God sent Lily to us and we have learned so much from her. Before she was born, I knew I loved her! I was present at the ultrasound on her mother when it was discovered that Lily had spina bifida. But, that little glitch has not stopped Lily from making a big impression on the world she lives in and all of us! She is 10 and loves school, singing, and playing with Barbies! She also is great at playing tennis, basketball, and giving her brother a hard time!!
Lily’s father and siblings are currently on a long excursion with Grandpa to his tiny islands of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tonga is not very wheelchair friendly, so she stayed behind with her mother. So, we made a playdate to have some fun together.
People can be very curious about Lily but she is used to it, so she isn’t bothered by it. I’m so glad because it was annoying to me!
The local aquarium is located in Draper, Utah, not too far from where I live. You can more about it at thelivingplanet.com We got there around 1:00 pm and stepped into a world of wild and amazing creatures. I had bought Lily a blue dolphin and she carried it around the whole time we were there. She named it “Bubbles”.
A crabby crab! Looking for a fight!
As you walk in, there are several huge whales hanging from the ceiling! The aquarium is huge and has many passageways into different areas. The first corridor we went down was entitled Discover Utah. It was cool! There were land turtles and huge river fish. Some fish had humps on their backs. Utah has a few endangered fish that are in the aquarium. There were also ducks, salamanders, tarantulas, and other land animals.
Pretty jellyfish, but watch out – the sting is very painful!
I enjoyed the jellyfish display (could stare at them forever)! A running commentary about the critters and sea life went along with “oohs” and “awws”, and a few shrieks and cringes. Lily told us what she had learned at school about invasive frogs in Australia and the traps they make there.
By far, my favorite displays (along with Lily’s) was a huge two level tropical room where birds flew around you and it felt like we had stepped back in time and space to Hawaii! The air was moist and warm. There was a tiny little sloth fast asleep in a little pouch. So cute!
Lily, you are a star in my book!
Also, there was a great wall where you could peer into the undersea world with sharks and other sealife. It is awe inspiring.
Another favorite was the penguin window. The penguins wobbled, walked on water (it seemed), and swam to our delight except for one big chubby penguin that looked as though he thought he was the king of the lot (too funny)!
We got to see two movies in 4D. One was about the melting glaciers and global warming. The other was a cartoon of Ice Age (hilarious). As you watched, air would blow at the back of your head from the chair! Just when I got relaxed, it would blow again (stop)!
There is so much to see at the aquarium and we loved seeing the variety of creations that God has made. The whole time I was taking video on Marco Polo (it’s an app) and sending it to Lily’s family in Tonga so they could experience some of it too.
In one station you could touch the round coral and see the stingrays and starfish (they felt like velcro). Lily got to hold a starfish! Then she wanted to get out of her chair and touch the huge turtle on the floor.
At one time, I asked a guide where the place was you could watch the dolphins jump! Silly me, that was Sea Life Park in Hawaii where we often took our older grandchildren. Maybe they should have one here any way.
Here’s Lily with an anaconda much longer than herself (cringe)! She felt bad for some of the turtles that were not moving under the water.
The last place we went was a tunnel under the water where you could see huge sharks swimming overhead. I felt a bit vulnerable, but tried to act normal for all of our sakes.
As for wheelchair access, the place was great, but some of the exhibits blocked the few at wheelchair level. That was very unfortunate.
All in all, we had a marvelous experience! Love you tons, Lily!
Jakeyboy (that’s what we called him to distinguish him from his Daddy) would be getting a new little brother. He was only two years old and didn’t really know what was going on. His parents were a bit worried that he might be jealous of the new baby, so right before the new baby was born they gave Jakeyboy a special present. They have been good friends besides brothers ever since.
I remember feeling about the same way because our first two children were fifteen months apart. Sibling rivalry is a concern for many parents. Now cousin Israel had a little sister and a brother and cousin Anna had gained a little sister. Our grandchildren were growing in number and we were quite busy getting to know them. We learned so much from each one and enjoyed spoiling them a little. We knew we were blessed to have them in our family and wanted to do the best for them.
As for my artistic side, I saw an opportunity to use my grandchildren in photo shoots. This one of Zion was taken when he was on a few months old on the North Shore of Hawaii. It reminded me of the stories of Hawaiian menehune who appeared at night marching across rainforests. I couldn’t help myself sharing this fun picture!