Day 7: Big

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My friend Mona’s wedding in Manu’a

Samoan churches are BIG and beautiful. This is only one of hundreds you will see no matter which island in the  you go to. You can see the European influence on our church styles instead of the traditional Samoan fale. Thank you to the missionaries who came to spread the gospel to our islands that influenced the building of these immaculate churches. Samoans are very religious. If there is one thing we do not lack in American Samoa, it is unique, big and beautiful churches.

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Day 5: Connection

In May of this year, I was able to attend the first ever Sword Family Reunion for my great-grandparents Jock & Agnes Sword’s descendants held in Levuka, Fiji. The four photos I have chosen above from the reunion represent the word “connection” in different ways to me.

  1. Photo 1: painting my ancestors graves gave provided a way for me to give back to my great-grandparents, Papa’s siblings and their families. This activity connected me to a past I never knew.
  2. Photo 2: the Sword family crest/coat of arms. This connects me to my Scottish heritage.
  3. Photo 3: This is less than a third of my great-grandparents descendants. The reunion connected me to my Pacific region family.
  4. Photo 4: I jumped off that bridge in Levuka regardless of sea snake stories. I wanted to have a story to connect to my Papa and my dad who both jumped off that bridge during their childhood years. This bridge doesn’t just provide a physical connection between separated land masses. It connected me to my dad and my Papa’s experiences.

I chose to write about my experience in Levuka because I have finally made a connection to my Fijian ancestry.

I never had a real connection to my Papa’s side of the family because I grew up in American Samoa and his family is from Fiji. I’ve always had questions about his parents, his siblings, his hometown of Levuka and what life was like for him being born and raised in Fiji. My dad has told me stories of trips they’ve taken to Fiji with my Papa (his dad), but I never felt a connection.

Going to Levuka connected me to my Papa’s family in more ways than one. I saw how different yet similar many of us are. I experienced a very unique combination of cultures seeing as my Papa’s siblings settled in various places around the Pacific region. I learned to value my Fijian heritage as my dad always has. I heard stories of joys and heartaches that made the Swords who they are from different branches of his family, my family. I cultivated a love for people, my family, whom I never would have met if not for this reunion. I witnessed a wonderful connection between the children of the Fijian Sword siblings, which has been passed on to my generation of cousins.

I can now cross Levuka off my bucket list of places to travel to. I am thrilled with what I have learned about my connection to Fiji. Next stop is the origin of the Sword name, where my great-grandfather is from, SCOTLAND.

Smells Like…

Today’s writing prompt is entitled “Nosey Delights”. There’s nothing more delightful to me than the smell of a fresh blooming pua or plumeria.

Plumerias or as we call it in Samoa, Puas, outside of my uncle's house in Gataivai

Plumerias or as we call it in Samoa, Puas, outside of my uncle’s house in Gataivai

When I was living in America, the number one scent I would miss is the smell of fresh puas outside of my home. I actually didn’t learn the English term for pua, which is plumeria, until I visited Australia in 2005.

Every morning, I go to visit the pua tree outside of my house and there never fails to be newly blooming puas on the tree. In some seasons, there are really big ones and in other seasons they bloom a lot smaller.

The beautiful aroma remains the same. The scent takes me back to my younger years when we use to climb the pua trees outside of my old church and play tag. Sometimes we would take sticks and poke at the branches until the flower fell so we could wear them as seis.

I love wearing them as seis (flower worn on the ear or placed in the hair). They add to the natural beauty of any Samoan or Pacific Island lady. Puas are just as much of a nosey delight as they are pleasing to the eyes. Don’t you agree?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/nosey-delights/

Celebrate Good Times…

I love celebrations ! 

Games + Laughter + Good  Food = Celebration Success

Games + Laughter + Good Food = Celebration Success

The baby shower for my brand new nephew KJ was nothing short of amazing. The pictures tell the story. OH ! I’m forgetting one of my absolutely favorite parts of the whole night…DESSERTS !

Cupcakes and Truffles

Cupcakes and Truffles by my beautiful & creative cousin who owns and operates her own baking gig called “She Bakes Too” in American Samoa.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Village kids playing football in the streets

Village kids playing football in the streets

There’s really nothing more perfect than a beautiful sunset, greenery all around mixed with the sound of kids laughing and playing even if it’s on the road. You’ll find this all over American Samoa. These kids sometimes play football, rugby, cricket and whatever games they can come up with using whatever is around them.

I remember growing up on these streets. It wasn’t cemented until I was in the sixth or seventh grade. My brothers, cousins, other village kids and I would either race wheelbarrows, bikes or tires down the rocky slope farther down the road. Sometimes we would race by foot from where my house is to the front of the road and back. When it rained, we would play in the puddles and make mud slides. I experienced many skinned knees, scratched-up hands and “eating dirt” moments but the fun we had was worth it.

I’m sure it’s frustrating for drivers who constantly have to drive slow or beep at these kids who really have no where else to play except the streets sometimes. When you really take a step back and soak in the joy and innocence you see in these kids, you really can’t help but smile and appreciate the beauty and joy in that very moment.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/street-life/