Friday, March 30, 2012

And so I ate

An old friend of mine invited me to her house to share dinner with.  I'll call her "N".  We went to the same high school, attend college together and we once were roommates.  She's my cousin as well as my long time friend.  Recently her husband left her with 6 children and after church, I needed a ride home and one of her friends gave both of us a ride.

On our way to drop her off first, she begged me to join her for dinner.  I thought I'd do a good deed and join her for dinner since her husband just left her and she sounds extremely desperate for company. So in we went into her house.  When she mentioned she made chicken casserole for dinner, I practically salivated because I know how yummy chicken casseroles tastes.  Suddenly the bake chicken I had made for dinner at home didn't seem too inviting.

As we entered her kitchen, she handed me a fork and a plate and pulled her Casserole from the oven.  Placed it on her counter and I couldn't help but just stare at it.  It looks like she cut up chicken and broccoli with no sauce in it.  Then dump white dry rice on top.

What!  this doesn't look like the typical Casserole.

An inner evil voice poked at me:

Well what did you expect Sela.  This is "N" and you've obviously forgotten she can't cook worth a trap

So I ignore that voice and sink my fork into the dish to scrape dry white rice, broccoli and pit and pieces of shred chicken into my plate.   I decided that "N's" version of Casserole is far off the mark from mine. 

In the process of scraping the food onto my plate, low and behold, a long, and I say looooooooooong piece of black hair got dragged up with my casserole.  "N" was standing right next to me and of course I couldn't just drop my plate into the sink and pretend I'm not hungry.  She watched as I lift my fork up in the air trying to dodge the hair that was stuck to my casserole.

"Looks like you lost a hair in there "N",  Swallowing my breath and wanting to gag already.
 "Oh I'm sorry Sela.  Here let me take it off"  So she removed the hair and I did what I thought was very brave.  I asked,  "Where's your Microwave?" She pointed to it at the same time stating , "Oh it's still warm from the oven". 
"Yes I know, but I want my food always hot hot".  I lied.

I'm going to burn whatever bacteria that hair left on my plate to oblivion. 
"Oh ok".   
So I microwaved my plate until I was sure all the germs are eradicated.  Then courageously swallowed every single piece of food .  "N" was watching me intently and I think she was making sure I eat everything on my plate.

That is the last time I'm ever going to eat anything at "N"'s house.  I resolved.

"You want some brownies?  She asked."
"Oh no thank you.  I'm stuffed".  Another lie.  I love brownies but my stomach just can't handle another bite. 

 The brownie dish was sitting on the kitchen table and I saw her two boys shoving their hands in it and eating right out of it with boogers hanging down their nose.   Uh uh, I'm not touching that. 

"How about a drink?  My "L" (her daughter) made some lemonade.

"Sure, I'll have one".  She brought it over but not once did I sip.  I was done in by the casserole.

Made up my mind that after all these years, some people just never change.  "N" never learned how to cook and I don't know how I could have forgotten it.  And I just ate food that had a long hair in it.  Yuck!  I didn't want "N" to think I hate her food.  That would be rude!  And I'm not a rude person.  So I ate.

I told my husband what happened and he almost flipped  laughing at me.

I love "N" to death but I'm never going to eat anything she cooks ever again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Passion

 I've shunned feeling appalled by her indifference.  Her disregard for her God-given talent guts me and almost always reduces me to tears every time we discuss it.

But then I thought again.    

Whose dream was it anyway?   

From the beginning hasn't it always been mine instead of hers?

Sisilia is 21 years old.  She has been singing since she was 3.  I taught her myself because I was determine that my daughter shall become a great singer.  For years now we've been going back and forth.  Arguing and fighting,   Hollering and screaming.  Pulling and pushing like a tug-of-war game.  One minute we agree and the next we disagree.

First I was hysterical at the casualness of her answer every time I bring up the subject:  "Mom, why do you keep bringing up something I have no passion for."  No passion!  I thought, how can you be so blind and deaf to what you've got.  Do you know how many girls out there that would give anything to have your voice?

"Then tell me, what do you have passion for?  I want to know."  "What are you planning to do with your life?"  I glanced at her as she shrugs her shoulders, "I don't know yet".
"You're 21 years old, you need to make up your mind what you want to do."  At the same time felt my heart sinking at the unfairness of it all.  I have 3 other daughters who are dying to sing like her.  Who jumps at every chance they have to be asked to perform.  Yet here she is, sitting on the only thing she's great at.

Her voice

She is good and I'm not saying that just because I am her mother.  But she moves people to tears when she sings at church and at every event she participates in.  People pay for airline tickets for her so she could go and sing for them and yet, yet, here she is. 

There 's really no use denying it any longer.   For a while now, and as much as I hate to admit it, I DID this to her.  WE did this to her.  Her father and I.  Pushed a tid too hard and a tad too long.  She's simply burned out.  Exhausted and  worn out.  Now that she's old enough, she's fighting back and saying NO.

So for now, for now I'll bite my tongue and bid my time.  Allow her to map out her life the best way she sees fit.  Never mind that she has been blessed with a voice of an angel.  Forget that she has an instrument that can touch lives and change lives.   It's her time. 
and it's all up to her. 

I'm not giving up hope on Sisilia.  I know one day she'll eventually realize what the Lord has blessed her with.  A very special gift.  And if she doesn't, then who am I to judge her.  Her story always remind me of the story in the new testament.  The parable of the man who gave out talents to his servants.  To one he gave five, another he gave two and the last he gave one.  The first two doubled their shares whereas the last one, buried it.  Failed to make an attempt to even try.

I pray that my daughter will come to realize what a great gift she's been given.  I shudder to think that she might never realize her potential.  The year she graduated from high school, their theme was from a quote by Nelson Mandela:

 "There is no passion to be found playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." 

Need I say more?

Special thanks going out to Shell for her "Pour your heart out Wednesday".

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Big 48

My son Mahonrai came in early in the morning, kissed me and wished me happy birthday.  Yes, I had completely forgotten it's my birthday.  Turning 48 years old and I feel like I've been 48 since I turned 45, three years ago.  Honestly, I stopped counting when I turned 45. 

Lingering in bed after my husband left to deliver the children, I find myself smiling.  My heart was full, my cup runneth over with incomparable joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed me with.  Seven beautiful, rowdy children.  My husband and also my parents and aunt Peta.  The ones that I love and closest to my heart.  Even my brothers and sisters and their own families.

As imperfect as my life is right now, I feel I'm exactly where I'm suppose to be.  And there's no where else I'd rather be.  The tapestry of my existence, from where I was born, to where I am now weaves a colorful, uncomplicated life yet rich in faith and love of family, friends and acquaintances.  I have been blessed. 

To-day was spend with my parents and my aunt Peta.  All the children left to school and my husband to a business meeting.  I rejoiced in hearing my father's voice.  As he talked I noticed the lines on his forehead and the crows feet around his eyes are deeper.  He was a handsome man and still is.  I realize just how blessed I am to still have him and my mother around.  His laughter, his songs entertaining my mother echos throughout the house everyday.  He is a joyful and happy man.  I'll always remember him that way. 

I looked at my mother and my aunt Peta.  White hair, wrinkly soft skin and their eyes twinkled with the wiseness of their age.  I become grateful over and over again.  Thank you God for blessing me with them.  We sat in the kitchen baking banana bread until one by one my children begin to arrive from school.  One by one they kiss and wished me happy birthday.  My life is complete

My cousin Leilani came and picked me up for Hot Hula and Zumba.  Boy what a workout that was and what a way to end my birthday all drench in sweat.  It felt like a cleansing.  I'm going into my 48th with renewed energy and goals.  Came home to a basket of goodies from my oldest son and his wife.  They know all my favorite treats.  Another birthday.  Another chance to live life to its fullest.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Enemy Mine

Grabbing for my journal, I hold fast to my pen.  Wanting to scribble and dribble all my aggravations and frustrations onto the pure whiteness of this page.  What can I write that hasn't been written in this journal before?  Absolutely nothing! 

Year after year, time after time, it's the same old sequences of empty sentences.  Same old routine.  Beating myself against time, repeating over and over, taking one step forward and two steps back.

Should I declare war on myself?  Because right now I feel like I am "My Own Worst Enemy".  Causing an inner turmoil and raucous over the numerous flaws and weaknesses I possess YET  one stands out brighter then the others and that is, PROCRASTINATIONPostponing, putting off, cancellation, waiting, lingering, stalling, dragging,  etc. etc. etc.

I'm currently reviewing a book from Bethany House Publishers called, "My Own Worst Enemy" (non-fiction) by a Janet Davis.   She was given a chance to do a lecture and totally blew it.  This is what she said about that dreadful occasion:

 "The faces were welcoming, and the opportunity for something good was real.  So what unseen force had shifted me into reverse?  Clearly, the problem was internal.  I had met the enemy and she was me."

This evening I thought about me and my detrimental ways of PROCRASTINATING.  How bad can things get before I decide to MOVE myself out of this rut that I'm gleefully dwelling in.  Even continuing to tolerate the intolerable.

If there's any progression to make in this lifetime, I need to DO it now.   To make that change.  To make peace with the enemy within me by DOING and eradicate Procrastination from my life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


People have face expressions that betrays, portrays and reveal exactly what's on their minds and hearts.   Some tries to mask it with masculinity and pride, refusing to wear their hearts upon their sleeves.  I've seen that "LOOK" in many, many movies.  Such as "Pride and Prejudice" when Mr. Darcy finally got the chance to bare his heart and soul to Elizabeth:

"You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you... If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you..."

Yesterday I attended the wedding of Moroni and Marcy.  As they knelt across the altar from each others,  I was dazzled, even confounded, by the transformation that took place on Moroni's face as he looked at Marcy.  It WOW-ed me because clearly, here's a man hopelessly, utterly and bewitchingly in love with his bride to be.

Through his countenance, there was nothing to hide anymore.  It was there open and bare for everyone in the Sealing room to see.  Moroni was shameless and unabashed when it comes to his feelings for his Marcy.  Not once did he take his eyes off of her and the power of his love shone through, getting me all choked up and letting loose a few tears.   I'm not usually a watering pot when it comes to wedding, but good gracious, that "LOOK" brought tears to my eyes.  It was simply breathtaking and beautiful.  He loves her!

After they spoke their Vows and standing up from their kneeling positions, the Sealer forgot to tell Moroni "You may now kiss the Bride".  Moroni took it upon himself to ask, "May I kiss the Bride now?"  Everyone laughed and that was one of the most simple yet romantic wedding ceremony I've ever been to.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Finally Brave Enough

One evening, I recall all too well, my aunt sent me out to grab a bar of soap from our shower hut across our yard.  It must have been only 30 yards away but for the life of me, I couldn't bring myself to run across the yard to do as I was told.  I was adopted by my father's oldest sister (something quite common with us Tongans) when I was about 2 months old.  So I lived with my grandma and two aunts in a little house at a neighborhood village Kahoua.  My father's childhood home. 

As there was no electricity at our house, the light from our kerosene lamp could barely define the way to the shower hut and the big, huge Avacado tree, which looked formidable at night (and I always hear stories of a dead woman sitting on top of the tree) looms over the yard taking on an eerie, unnaturally terrifying image.  As if something was going to consume me if I dared to spring across the lawn to grab a bar of soap.  What if "IT" was waiting inside the shower hut.  It was dark out there.

Glued to the doorway and shaking from my head to my toes, my aunt looked at me as if I was deranged.  I heard her again for the third time, no longer asking but demanding:  "Sela, there's nothing to be scared of, run and grab the soap!"   Tears started streaming down my face as I shook my head and said, "I can't I'm afraid!"  

My aunt Peta is one fearless woman.  I know of no braver woman then her.  She took on the role of being a mother to 10 younger siblings when she was quite young because her father passed away at a very young age.  Leaving her mother alone with 11 children.  Peta had to drop out of school to work and provide for her siblings and she also managed to bring them here to the US.  She was not afraid of anything.

Some of our favorite pass time as children were getting together to tell ghost stories.  To see who can tell the scariest stories and we ended up scaring ourselves with all the fibs and lies we made up.  Well all those stories barred the 30 yards between me and the shower hut, paralyzing me to the spot, unable to move. 

Peta did the only thing she knew would scare me more, she grabbed the broom and yelled, "If you don't go right now, I'm going to use this broom on you!  I'm right here watching you, nothing is going to happen to you, so run!"  Of course I didn't want to get the broom so I muster up all the courage a little girl could have and sprint across the yard like a lightning bolt.  Praying, "please don't let there be something waiting for me in that shower hut, please God please".  

It was a wonder that I made it back well and safe.  Nothing clung to me or beheaded on my way there and back.  Got the soap my aunt Peta needed and gave it to her.  She said reassuringly, "See, there's nothing to be scared of"  Easy for her to say,  I thought.

I have overcome the childhood fears of ghosts, ghouls and demons.  I can say I am brave and fearless now like my aunt.  Yet that would be a lie.  A few things can still scare me every now and then.  Things like:

Death of a child
Being unable to provide for my children
Loosing a child to the ways of the world.  drinking, smoking, drugs etc etc
And, an uncertain future (financially)

Despite all these uncertainties and doubts that can scare me, my heart is assured within the palms of a loving and an all-knowing Heavenly Father.  Through Him, I have become BRAVE, HOPEFUL and COMFORTED.  I am BRAVE only because I know the Lord always will provide.  Without Him, I am nothing.  No longer that scary cat little girl.  Now I'm a God-fearing woman.  And that makes me BRAVE.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three funerals and a Bridal shower

Three funerals this past weekend and a Bridal shower.  Only made it to one funeral of my beloved cousin Sione Afu Na'a.  Couldn't make it to my distant cousin and dearest next-door-neighbor from back home, Lani Tui'one.  Two deaths from my never- to- be- forgotten villages of Kahoua and Matangiake.  This is where I grew up and this is where joyful and loving childhood memories were imbedded, formed and have impacted my life, making me want to tell stories. 

I grew up with Afu and Lani.  It pained me that I couldn't make it to Lani's funeral.  With everything that was going on, my husband continues to be sick and of course needed my help.  That's why I couldn't make it to most of the programs that was going on during the funerals.  The third funeral was my husband's cousin Lei's grandfather.  And also the wedding shower was for Marcy (his cousin) as she's getting married this coming weekend. 

My memories of Afu are never far from my mind.  He was always on the lookout for me as we were growing up.  Afu was the "bad boy" of my growing up years.  The very pain of my existence as he assumed the duty of being my personal body-guard and attacked every boyfriend I had that he didn't agree with, care for or like.  Yes, this is the guy that roamed the streets of our villages looking for trouble, asking for trouble and he made his own beer from scratch with his friends. 

One evening and a Freshman in high school, my very first official boyfriend (a senior in high school)  unexpectedly dropped by my house, drunk.  Shocked that he was even in my village (he lives in a distant village but we attended the same high school) and secretly pleased that he dared to visit me, I tried desperately to get rid of him before my parents and my male cousins discover his whereabouts.

Luckily I was able to persuade him to leave but not before my cousin Afu found out.  About two or three seconds after my boyfriend disappeared into the night, my parents pulled in to our parking lot and about five of my male cousins storm over, asking for him.  Imagine my relief when he was gone.  I thank God a hundred times over for helping me avoid an almost fatal situation.  Afu was pretty upset that my boyfriend even set foot at my house.  He was rambling all these things:
 "Where is he, where is he so we can kill him". 
"Who is he that he dares come here!"
"Sela, he should be so lucky that I don't find him tonight".
"I'm going to find him and I'm going to beat him to death!"

Terrified, I scrambled into the house and to the farthest part away from my dad.  A brief moment after that, the entire village went into pitch darkness as the power went out.  That was my saving grace from the good Lord above as I heard my father's voice belting out:
"Sela, you are so lucky we have a power outage.  Had I been able to see you, you would have gotten a good whipping tonight."   (One of my father's rule for us children was that no dating until after we serve missions)  This was one rule I constantly contradicted. 

 Pheewwww but I was relieved.  From then on, I avoided that boy friend like the plague.  It was for his own good.

Sweet Lani was a replica of an angel.  She was always so quiet and soft spoken.  Not one to be rowdy like myself and she was rarely seen at the playground where we'd gather with other children to play.  Her older brother, Stanley (Teni) became one of my very best friend in high school as he was my cousin and also dating my best friend, Sela.  In later years, Lani inherited some kind of skin cancer.  Every now and then I run into her here in Utah, but we also kept constantly in touch through Facebook. 

Over the weekend I was reminded of childhood memories that included Afu and Lani.  Memories from a different place and a different time, yet, fresh like the morning dew in my heart and my mind.  Gone but never to be forgotten.  The remnant of their lives trickles on into eternity through my memory.  It's a temporary goodbye for now.  Until we meet again in the next life.  

Mo fononga atu a Afu mo Lani.  'Ofa lahi atu.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

All in a day's work

All on Saturday:

1.   I've had several posts before admitting that some of the things that annoys me the most, are drivers that doesn't comply with the speed limit and go 5-10 mph slower...Well, I also admitted that my hubby is one them drivers that drives me BONKERS doing exactly that.  On our way to the junk yard to pick up a transmission for my daughter's car he pulled another one of those slow ones.  Drives 10 mph slower:

Me:  (slightly annoyed)  "You drive like an old man.  Can't you see it's a 40mph speed limit?  You're only  going 30 mph!"
Hubby:  (greatly annoyed)  "And you nag like an old woman!  Why can't you just let me drive in peace!"
Our daughter Sisilia:  (as she leans forward from the back seat surveying us thoughtfully)  "Okay, both of you guys are OLD, so you are acting PERFECTLY normal towards each others.  You know, exactly how old people are suppose to act."
I couldn't help but laugh, yet apprehensive whether she meant to scold us or just being sarcastic.  Her being agreeable at all was very amusing though.  Sisilia is anything but AGREEABLE. 

2.   I've also posted about my favorite sister-in-law Sarah.  On our way to the junk yard, we dropped by their house to give them some banana breads I baked.  She was sitting with her friend in her front room but my attention was drawn to her swollen eyelids like she's been crying.  Dumbfound, a few thoughts crossed my mind, Wow, I don't think that the fume from painting all day yesterday could leave her eyes swollen like she's been crying.  Also, "I hope my brother wasn't the cause of her crying.  They're too way pass that stage already."

Obviously aware of the directions my thoughts were heading, Sarah informed me she was hospitalized the night before.  Worried, I asked if everything was okay and she related the whole ordeal:

She's been feeling this ghastly back-pain for a while and finally couldn't stand it any longer.  Her husband was at Scout's Camp and all the older children were out somewhere.  It was Friday night after all.  She tried to call her two oldest daughters Ana and Leo but no one answered their phones.  Then she called her son Charlie and he answered.  She was bawling on the phone from pain and upon hearing her, Charlie (20)  assumed that someone is responsible for his mother's pain:
"What's wrong mom?  Why are you crying?  Who did this to you mom?  Tell me mom!"  Of course, being the protective son that he is, Charlie was ready to do harm to whoever it was that caused his mom to bawl over the phone.  Sarah enlightened him on her situation and right away, Charlie came with his friend Scott to pick her up.  As he helped her into the car, Sarah detected the smell of liquor on Charlie.  He was drunk.  To make a long story short, Charlie apologized to his mom and then off to the hospital they go.

'Ana (Sarah's oldest daughter) came into the Emergency room a little while later.  Discovering that Charlie was drunk, approached him immediately and did some air snapping.  1,2,3 and 4 then asked:  "Are you sane? How dare you come in that condition to mom!"  Charlie retaliated, "Well if you guys only answered your phone when mom calls."  Then 'Ana turned to her mom sobbing out loud.  "I'm so sorry mom."  Sarah said she had to ask her, "Are you the one that's sick or me?"  And here we all are at their house discussing the events from the previous night.  Everyone is fine and everything is back to normal.

3.  So we were late after all to the junk yard because of too many detouring and waiting for a truck.  My daughter Sisilia was irritated that we ended up not getting her transmission after all.  Now, we are heading out to a Baby Shower and my husband's cousin 'Anapesi brought up the subject of Deportation.  Yes, we have family members and friends who are American Citizens or Permanent Residents but when they commit serious crimes or are felons, they get deported back home to the island of Tonga.  Yes, they are not allowed to set foot in the US ever again:  BANNED, OUTLAWED AND FORBIDDEN!   

'Anapesi's husband posted her the question:  "If I ever get deported back to the island, would you come with me."   Here are her responses to him that just tickled my tummy and got me gasping in laughter:  'Ana was born here in the US.  Have never been to Tonga.

1.  Uh uh honey.  I'm sorry.  You're going to have to find yourself a new wife that will go to the plantation for you.   (They've received pictures or videos from some of his male cousins who have been deported and they practically have women doing the dirty work for them.   You know, planting, hunting and picking fruits)
2.  I've seen some of the pictures where those women walk around barefooted and muddy.  Their husbands do the relaxing and they walk into the bush and come out with armed with a variety of tropical fruits to eat.   No way in hell am I going to do that.  I can't do the fruit picking and plantation planting thing. Let alone be a bushwacker's wife.  No no!
3.  Plus, I can't abide to go into the bush and get eaten alive by bugs.  No, no, not me.  Oh noooooooo no no no.  I'm an American girl through and through.  I like keeping my hands and feet clean and I especially like my WALMARTS!

So this is how my crazy Saturday went.  It was pretty hilarious.  That baby shower we went to was like a big wedding.  Practically set up like one and so many people.