Morning Mango (a poem)

...took this to work, cut it and ate it, ke'i a ua kusi le poem i le mago....LOL!

yumMy Morning Mango

Sweet juicy treacly  treat
with fresh fruity flavor, 
flowing from mango meat
into my mouth to savor.

Salivating and satiating 
is that morning mango strain,
refreshing and invigorating
to both body and brain.

Yummy morning mango
giving me energy and bounce, 
I feel like dancing the tango
with a fatale in a flounce.

~LV Letalu 2015


Flying, Feasting and Fun on the Fourth

...waiting for flight at gate
It was the Fourth (July 4th) weekend - the Independence weekend - and Dearie and I were invited by some famariends, who, like us, were under the spell of the wanderlust fairy. And so we skipped town for some fun and pleasure, as well as for a missionary homecoming party in Southern Cal. We caught a morning flight, arrived before noon and then did some driveabout. We stopped at a Hamo store/restaurant and picked up some kalo faalifu and boiled bananas.

Then we headed out to a scheduled destination spot. As passenger, I could tell we left the Los Angeles metropolis as I noticed a change of community patterns -- from a more urban one to an oceanside look and feel.  For someone who grew up about a stone's throw from the ocean, it was deja vu as I started to feel the sea breeze against my face. I started inhaling the familiar smell of the ocean, and a brief nostalgic homely feeling came over me as I recalled memories of our island home near the sea. In a matter of seconds, I snapped back to reality -- and it was Redondo Beach.  The Pier.
... in the plane

Based on our city hopping itinerary, we were not there to get a tan, play beach volleyball or surf (haha), we were there for one of our favorite things - to eat, more specifically to eat some seafood. And we had lots!

In the evening we attended the homecoming party and then spent the night in LA.

... somewhere over the western states

The following morning (July 4th), we flew from LA to LV (my eponymous backyard, hahaa) - Las Vegas that is;  it was the second time in a few weeks we were in Sin City.  We just didn't seem to get enough of the place. And it was hot, hot, hot - like any other diabolical place ...hehee... j/k.  In fact too hot for my liking, and this is from someone originally from a place near the Equator.  I happened to be walking down the Strip on a hot afternoon, and for the hundreds of people elbowing their way through the crowds in just one block, English was hardly the language of conversation - not even Spanish (I can recognize Spanish, who doesn't?).  The various languages seemed to be of  the countries across Europe and Asia.  Or does Vegas have its own language/s now?  Ia Viva, Viva, Viva Las Vegas loa la!

And of course we dined and dined - without the wine, and no pig(let) this time.  Instead we did the “aflac” thingy - yes, the ducky! ... and lotsa Chinese cuisine and more seafood.

During the night of the 4th,  when fireworks invaded the night sky, we were watching them from our sky suite.  And they did not impress.  The angle from which we were watching made the colorful mushrooms seemed trivial ; and with the Vegas lights dominating the skyline, the fireworks blended and appeared like imitation lights.  Point is, Vegas may not be a perfect place to watch fireworks, especially having the Strip as the backdrop.  With its colorfully lit night skyline, Vegas doesn't need fireworks, it has fireworks every night!

Anyhow, some pics from our Funtastic Fourth weekend.

... the pier - Redondo Beach

...grilled and fried fish, corn, crabs, lobsters and faalifu kalo..

... and fa'i too

selfie at the missionary homecoming party

on the plane again ...

... and limo service ...

... our hotel... Aria  downtown LV!! ..Imagine watching fireworks against this kind of backdrop....

... beautiful real flower arrangements - hotel lobby

... late night snacking in our sky suite ...lol

... more seafood .. o le vaisu lea faa- Saiga ...lol!

... and more food

... the famariends.  Faafetai Tele mo le invite!!!.... and happy anniversary to the aulelei couple on the right!!!

...meanwhile, Stui is tui-ing (and cutting) the cake for all of us, commemorating the Fourth ...
and wishing US "Happy July 4th!" ...lol!
(picture: Samoa Observer)


A Tribute - We love you Elder!

We remember fondly the times in the bottom picture... remember the trip to NZ?

In some unexplained
yet discernible way
you changed our lives
- especially mine.

You were a little boy 
just yesterday
spirited, ardent and active;
you’ve exuded confidence
and demonstrated independence.
You’re fun and loving
and a true example
to our family and others.

Go forth now and serve
with all your heart, might 
mind and strength.
Trust in Him!

We love you Elder!

(He left for his mission this past Wednesday, July 8th
we all went to say goodbye at the airport)




The following translation is mine.  Click here for the English version.

June 29, 2015

Talu ai ona o le faai’uga na se'i mavae atu nei a le Faamasinoga Sili a le Iunaite Setete, ma nisi o faagasologa faale-tulafono atoa fo’i ma nisi o aiaiga o tulafono faalemalo i nisi o atunu’u ua aloa’ia ai mafutaga faatauatane ma faatauafafine, ua toe ta’utino ma toe faamautuina ai e le Aufono a le ‘Au Peresetene Sili ma le  Korama a le To’asefululua o le Ekalesia a Iesu Keriso o le ‘Au Pa’ia o Aso e Gata Ai le mata’upu faavae o a’oa’oga a le Ekalesia e faatatau i le ola mama, faaipoipoga, ma le aiga. I lo  matou tuuina atu ai o lenei ta’utinoga, matou te uuna’iina outou uma ina ia matua utagia nei a’oa’oga i totonu o le aotelega faavae o le Ata o le Faaolataga ma faamoemoega a lo tatou Tama i le Lagi, i le foafoaina o le lalolagi  ma  le avanoa mo lo tatou fanauina faaletino faapea ma lo tatou ola ai  iinei o ni Ana fanau.

O le faaiopoipoga i le va o se tane ma se ava sa faavaeina e le Atua ma e i le totonugalemu o Lana fuafuaga mo Ana Fanau ma le  soifua lelei o nu’u ma atunu’u. “Na faia e le Atua le tagata i lona lava faatusa, ma i le faatusa o le Atua na ia faia ai o ia; tane ma le fafine na ia faia ai i la’ua.  Ma sa faamanuia i la’ua e le Atua, ma fetalai atu le Atua ia te i la’ua, Ia fanafanau ma uluuluola ma faato’ateleina le lalolagi” (Kenese 1:27-28). “O lea e tuua ai e le tane lona tama ma lona tina ae pipi’i atu i lana ava: ma avea i la’ua ma tino e tasi” (Kenese 2:24).
O aiga mautu, ua ta’ita’iina e se tina ma se tama alofa, ma avea o se iunite mo le faafaileleina o fanau, faatumauina o le faatuatua, ma le tuufaasologa i augatupulaga lalovaoa  (lumana’i) o malosi’aga  ma aoga o le ola mama, ma ua taua i le va nonofo o tagata faapea fo’i le  faaolataga faavavau.

O se aiga ua fausia i luga o le faaipoipoga o le tane ma le fafine, o se nofoaga pito sili lea mo le tupu olaola o le fuafuaga a le Atua mo le fiafia o Ana fanau. O le pogai lea o le faamalosia ma puipuia ai lautele e nu’u ma atunu’u le faaipoipoga i le va o se tane ma se fafine, ma o le aiga e tupuga mai i la la’ua  faatasiga o ni aiga manuia.  O faiga faa-feusua’iga i fafo atu o se faaipoipoga faapea, ua fete’ena’i  lea ma tulafono a le Atua e faatatau i le ola mama.

O suiga i tulafono sivili ma faale-malo e le mafaia, ma ua matua le mafai lava, na suia le tulafono o le amiotonu/amiosa’o ua faavaeina e le Atua.  Ua faamoemoeina i tatou e le Atua e lagolago ma tausi Ana tulafono e tusa lava poo le a le ‘ese‘ese anoanoa’i o manatu ma a’ega fou a tagata.  O Lana tulafono o le ola mama e manino: o faiga faa-feusua’iga ua talafeagai tau lava i le va o se ali'i ma se tama'ita'i ua faaipoipo i la le tulafono, o le tane ma le ava. Matou te talo atu ia te outou uma ina ia toe iloilo ma malamalama i le mataupu faavae o loo iai i le “O le Aiga: O se Folafolaga i le Lalolagi”

Ina ia o gatasi ma o tatou talitonuga faavae, o le a le faatagaina sui o le Ekalesia e latou te faaaogaina la latou pule faa-failotu e faia ai faaipoipoga faatauatane ma faatauafafine, ma e le faatagaina fo’i e le Ekalesia ona faaaogaina ona falelotu poo meatotino mo sauniga, taligamalo, poo nisi lava gaoioiga e iai ni ona sootaga ma faaipoipoga faatauatane ma faatauafafine.
Peita’i, o tagata uma e asiasi mai i o tatou falelotu ma lotoa, e talia lelei i latou pe afai latou te tausia ma aloa’ia a tatou tulaga o amio faaaloalogia i taimi o a latou asiasiga.

Ua a’oa’o mai le talalelei a Iesu Keriso e alofa atu ma agalelei ma tausia le va lelei ma tagata uma - e tusa lava pe ua iai ni a tatou fe’ese’esea’iga.  Matou te talitonu o i latou uma ua latou faamatu’u atu i tulafono ma i’uga faamasinoga e faatagaina ai faaipoipoga faatauatane ma faatauafafine e le tatau ona faia/faaalia iai ni uiga le faaaloalo.  I le ma lenei, ua mae’a ona lagolagoina e le Ekalesia aia tatau a ulugali’i  faatauatane ma faataufafine i tulaga tau le togafitiga i falema’i ma tausigama’i, o aiaiga faaleitu’au o fale nofo totogi ma  galuega, ma mataupu tau i uili (will) ma mavaega, pe afai lava o le a le a’afia pe afaina ai le mamalu o le aiga masani (traditional family) poo aia tatau faavae o ekalesia.

Ua faatauanauina e le Ekalesia le aia tatau a ona ta’ita’i ma ona tagata-a-lotu e latou te faaleo ma lagolagoina o latou ta’utinoga taulotu e uiga i faaipoipoga, aiga ma le amioatua e aunoa ma ni fetaua’iga, tauimasui poo ni faasalaga.  E iai fo’i i le Ekalesia le aia e tausia ai ana tulaga o le amioatua ma le ta’uleleia o ona tagata.

I le avea ai o ni tagata o le Ekalesia, ua ia i matou le aia e a’oa’o ai le tala lelei a Iesu Keriso ma  faapupula le anoa’i o faamanuiaga e afua i le usita’ia o tulafono a le Atua, faapea fo’i ma taunu’uga le ma’alofia e maua i le fulitua atu iai.  Matou te talo atu i tagata uma ia tatalo mo tagata i so’o se mea ina ia faamaluluina o latou loto i mataupu moni sa faavaeina e le Atua mai le amataga, ma o lena poto o le a foa’iina atu ia i latou o le a vaetofia e faia faai’uga o ni mataupu ogaoga e taua ma aoga mo le lumana’i o nu’u ma atunu’u.


Manu Samoa vs. All Blacks

Our family gathered to watch the game tonight - live.  The majority of course rooted for the Manu, a few for the All Blacks and the rest did not care.  It was such an historic event that I had to mount my camera on the roof, pointed it to Apia Park and took these pictures ...LOL!  It was a nice game; Manu had  a chance but came up short, 25-16, All Blacks.  Great effort Manu!  Faamalo le ta'alo malosi ma le faatausala.

Tane getting his flag ready before the game ... go Manu!

... a maua loa le polo, ia amaka loa kakou!

... even the Head of State smiled at my camera LOL!

"...is that McCaw? ... oi o Sonny B!!"

"... soso mai i luma sole, vaai lele la'a o'o mai le olopeleki, ouke ofo i le le offside, sole"

"... go go go male atoa iai!"

"... we wish this was a game between the Patriots and the Seahawks... somebody explain rugby to us please!...
what?... they have hookers? naaah!

... fekaui le 'au 'ai kalo ma le 'au 'ai mamoe  ...lol!

"... pei a e gau kolegi le 'au a kakou!"

... "e, o a'u o le Samoa!"

... se sulu le ulu sole!

"...e le afaina, o le malolo a le tamali'i"

"... ia malo fo'i sole" (to the one raising his hand)

..auooooi, ka fia ku'ia a se leoleo, oso so'o mai i ka luma o lea e faia'iga le 'au.

... o le kupe o le makou cash power lea ga faakau ai la'u ticket...ika gei le faastoe!


Being Genuine Starts in the Loto (Heart)

"On Being Genuine" ~ Pres. Uchtdorf
This past Sunday (28th) I spoke in Sacrament meeting...again! (in less than a few months).  The assigned family was not able to speak and so Bishop texted me: Bro. Letalu, you’re speaking with the executive secretary on Sunday. This was mid week that he texted.  I said, “Ok Bishop.”   And the topic was Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk “On Being Genuine” given in the Priesthood Session in this past April conference.

The introduction mentions the Potemkin village (of Russian origin), which was a fake village - symbolic of a facade that aims only to impress.

So I started gathering some ideas, thoughts and jotted down some notes.  I read the talk again after having listened to it during conference.  One of the main points of the talk is the universal subject/theme of “Appearance vs. Reality”.  I was briefly taken back to my college days and how the subject  is a common theme in many of Shakespeare’s works.  Robinson’s "Richard Cory" (poem) also crossed my mind.  But I returned to the gospel context and tried to limit my references to the scriptures, supported by my Samoan experience.  Because our ward is mixed (Samoan and palagi) my talk was written and given in "Samlish" (and was cut short since there wasn't enough time).  I started by saying:

O le uiga o le upu “genuine” o le moni poo le faamaoni a’ia’i.  Afai e “genuine” se tala, o lona uiga o se tala moni, e le o se tala fatu pe o se tala faatupu.  We often use or refer to the word “genuine” through its antonym/opposite which is “fake”.  Afai la e “genuine” se tagata, o se tagata lena e le faa’ole’ole, e le fake, pe tau faasese, ae faamaoni ona uiga.  It's like wysiwyg!

In the talk under the section “Are our hearts in the right place?” is this quote:

“...when we direct our outward expressions of discipleship to impress others for personal gain or influence [,] it is then that we are at risk of entering into Pharisee territory, and it is high time to examine our hearts to make immediate course corrections.”

Yes, it's “time to examine our hearts” - so I took it and ran with it.  Heart is "loto" or "fatu" but it's the context of the former that is used in the talk.  References abound in the scriptures where the heart is important to God. Samuel being commanded by God not to look on the outward appearance but “looketh on the heart” when he goes to find a king for Israel among the sons of Jesse.  In Proverbs, we find that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, and the Lord requires of us a broken heart and contrite spirit if we have become truly converted to Him. The heart is at the core of a person’s character and the gospel especially our attitude of worshiping God. It literally defines an individual. A person’s genuineness lies in his/her heart.

Interestingly enough, this is no different from the Samoan experience as demonstrated in the native lexicon, notably the emphasis on the heart in describing a person’s deep and profound qualities - often whether good or bad.  The "loto" is used as the base/root word for the many basic human qualities and attributes (re: bolded list in next paragraph).

E faapea fo’i ia tatou o tagata Samoa, e taua tele le loto ae maise le iloaina ai o ituaiga tagata ma o latou uiga.  I le tatou gagana (Samoa), e faaaogaina le upu “loto” e faamatalaina ni uiga loloto  o se tagata. Silasila fo’i i upu nei: lotoalofa, lotolelei, lotomaualuga, lotoleaga, lotomalosi, lotofefete, loto'ele'elea, lototoa, lotomaulalo, lotoaiga, lotosa’o, lotoita, lotovale, lotofuatiaifo, lotomaa’a, lotogatasi, lotosalamo, lototaumafai, lotouso, lotopalapala ... Ioe, o le “loto” lava le faapogai o uiga lelei pe faale-lelei fo'i o se tagata.  E faamaonia i upu nei le taua tele o le loto i le olaga tauleleia poo le ta'uleagaina o se tagata ae maise fo'i i le va feagai o le tagata ma le Atua.

The heart is also where motives are manufactured.  The value and significance of the heart in man’s true and sincere worship of God set him apart from other fellow creatures.  Moreover, most if not all of the above “loto” qualities apply exclusively to man (vs. animals).  E le mafai ona tatou faapea: “Se e ‘ese le lokofefeke o le makou povi, poo se maile fo’i” (We cannot say “Our cow, or dog, is very conceited.")  We might be able to say e “loto alofa le matou maile” but that still doesn’t reach the depth of the same quality in man.  Compare the above "loto" qualities with other qualities like, fast, strong, clever, beautiful, etc., which can be ascribed equally to man and beast.

President Uchtdorf said:
It is part of human nature to want to look our best. It is why many of us work so hard on the exterior of our homes.... There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smelling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the [guests] arrive. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful.

The underlined text remind me of the nature and disposition of Samoans as being kind, loving and hospitable people.  Hence, taliga malo (hosting guests) is a common social and cultural practice among the Samoans. The thought prompted me to ponder this practical issue:

When we clean our houses in preparation for some expected guests, what is the real motive?  To impress the guests and boost our egos and reputation or is it out of love and righteous desire of making sure the guests are comfortable and feel at home?  Is it our interests or the guests’ interests at heart?  I then defended the Samoans (based on firsthand experience), especially those in the villages where I was raised and where humble circumstances exist, especially while I was growing up.

Samoan fale/hut
In the villages, the fales or houses are essentially “huts”. And whenever we expect guests, we start to clear any weeds and rubbish; lay some fresh sand (if the yard is a sandy one), or cut the grass (no lawnmowers at the time).  Nice mats are laid. The pola (blinds) are straightened in case a guest bumps his head against them upon entering.  All was done for the comfort, pleasure and ease of the guests.  The usual compliment “Nice house/hut” (or nice mats, blinds, etc.,) was not typical and not a native compliment in the villages.  (Unless of course the Flintstones were visiting, I guess.)  This is true since most guests will have come from families/homes of more moderate means (from town or NZ), and for them to say “Nice house/hut” will have rendered them disingenuous and insincere - or fake, aea?  Generally speaking therefore the main motive of the Samoans (esp those of more humble means and circumstances) was always in the interests of the guests, not theirs. If there was any selfish reason or motive, it would be subconscious and/or secondary.

Again the motives, including doing the right things for the right reason, are at the “heart” of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  About motives, here’s a breakdown:

1. A good pure heart can do ONLY good works.
2. A bad/impure heart likewise does bad works.  BUT, a bad/evil heart is also capable of doing good works, or seemingly good works (re: Matthew 7:11 discussed below).  An example is doing something good for someone, but from a selfish motive.

Here, I also struggled with the question of whether the “gift/work/service” given/done in the above example is still good, or tainted by the selfish motive. I’ve heard somewhere that a bad heart makes a gift bad too.  I'm not at all comfortable with such belief.  In Matthew 7:11, it says that  "...if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"  It seems therefore that it’s possible for one with an evil heart to give good gifts.  And so I searched and found this in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 7:6-8):
 6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent  it profiteth him nothing.
 7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
 8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
Notice how the giver - not necessarily the gift - is blamed because of the condition of his heart.  In essence what the scripture is saying (re: underlined texts) is that the gift profiteth the giver nothing (v6); is not counted unto him for righteousness (v.7); and he (giver) is counted evil before God (v.8).  It’s not saying anything about the gift being bad, evil or will not do any good.  Case in point, if one pays tithing solely and only because he wants blessings (i.e. without real intent, or love and a sincere heart), his motive is a selfish/evil one, and so therefore, the tithing will not profit him anything.  Here, we return to the heart as the place where it really counts as far as God is concerned.

Now say that the gift has been a person-to-person exchange, the heart of the receiver should also be in the right place and be truly grateful, otherwise the gift will profit him (recipient) nothing either as far as God is concerned. Through all that, the gift is unaffected, unsullied and ..... still GENUINE!


Transracial and “Fia Palagi”

Okay, if the name Rachel Dolezal does not ring a bell with you, yet, it means either you don’t care about what’s going on in the world, let alone in America (especially with race relations) or you actually live under a rock; or you’ve been stranded in the middle of a swimming pool without a phone and/or Internet connection.  Or better still, you may have been “rip van winkling” lol!...

So who is Dolezal? Well, she is a white woman who served as president of the Spokane (Washington)
Dolezal - after and before
chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and claimed/portrayed herself as being Black. She has since resigned amid all the controversy.

Now, instead of going into all the ramifications, repercussions, spinoffs or personal/biographical revelations of the story, there’s a word/concept that has surfaced/resurfaced (at least connotatively) because of it; which, to me, is a reminder of something similar about the Samoans. The word is “transracial” and the Samoan equivalent is called “fia palagi” (wannabe White). Some Samoans have named their children after the concept.

“Fia palagi”, however, is not so much having to do with changes in physical appearance, but rather in the behavioral, character and other social aspects.  Basically, it has to do with socio-cultural non-conformity and therefore adherence to societal roles, duties and responsibilities are at issue. Dislike of Samoan foods can also be grounds for reproof.  So, in other words, if a Samoan changes his/her appearance (hair, face, etc.) to imitate a palagi, but still  conforms to the social and cultural norms and the so-called “faa-Samoa” (Samoan Way), in its broad sense, he/she may not be blamed for being “fia palagi”.  Conversely, a Samoan can be culpable of “fia palagi” if resistant to the faa-Samoa even without any conspicuous changes in physical appearance.  Then there are also the in-betweens.  Individualistic attitudes (as opposed to the preferred traditional communal abidance) sometimes become the root of  “fia palagi” accusations.

The other aspect of a Samoan’s behavior that would invite the “fia palagi” label and blame is in language - specifically English.  When a Samoan tends to use English more in actual face-to-face casual conversations, he/she is likely going to absorb the blame, especially if the language expectations of the conversation are exclusively Samoan. The accusation is often directed more to those who are understood and known by others to be genuine Samoans.

What could be the likely motives behind “fia palagi” - or transracial for that matter?  To fit in, a sense of belonging or getting ahead, maybe?  In that case, could a “fia palagi” person become a fence-sitter or marginalized outside Samoa?   Samoans who migrate abroad as adults and already fluent in Samoan, sometimes become participants and perpetrators of the WWW (Wannabe White Way) ...lol.

Relatively, though, I believe the so-called “wannabe” trend made popular by the hip hop culture has more to do with appearance, music and “slanguage”.    The B-Stylers are an example. They are Japanese kids who want to be Black (fia meauli tagata uli).  I wonder if Dolezal had any B-Stylers connections. Hehee.

Ia suifua loa u liva liva aso e le ‘ai se tamiu.... LOL!