Day 1: Home

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View from Maugaoali’i taken July 9, 2016

When I use to live in America, I use to get a lot of questions about where I’m from. I was proud to say American Samoa. Regardless of the ignorant stereotypical replies I would receive, I enjoyed showing off photos like the one above. I love my beautiful island home. The scenic hikes are just the icing on the cake. American Samoa is about the Samoan culture, the history, my heritage, my people. No matter where I go, American Samoa will always be home simply because this is where my heart is.

When I think of home, this is what I think of. #DevelopingYourEye

Discovering Me via Social Media Freedom

The last time I was here was December of 2015. Before that, I was here in August of 2014. Coincidentally enough, the amount of time I’ve spent away from blogging are my two of my four favorite numbers 16 and 7. It took me 16 months from my August 2014 post to finally return in December 2015. After that, I was too caught up again in life (or maybe it was social media) to commit to blogging. I was lost in trying to live a life to please others.

During the second week of June, I decided it was time for me to get rid of my biggest distraction, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat had taken over my life and I was literally using these tools to advertise myself (basically), cyber-stalk (in the most non-creepy way possible), covet, set a foundation for gossip and relinquish boredom. I didn’t realize I began to depress myself because I was too busy looking at what everyone else was doing instead of living the life I was meant to live and being more productive. My breaking point hit when I found myself upset my family and friends would do things without me and also frustrated with my boyfriend because he wouldn’t post anything about our relationship. I decided I needed to disappear from the social media realm for a week at most to get my head on straight.

It has been a month since my “social media freedom” and it has been awesome. I’ve gotten hooked on books again, focused on my goals and less involved with the unnecessaries. My circle has gone back down to those who care enough to call or text. The motivation I now have to do what needs to be done has risen. The need to advertise myself and portray “social media” me is diminishing slowly. The cyber-stalking has disappeared (obviously because I have no way to seek out what people are doing). I no longer compare my relationship to others. The news I read is actual news about what is going on in the world. Best of all, I feel happy.

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container :)

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container 🙂 PC: Sati

For the next ten days, I’ve personally committed myself to the “Developing your Eye” photography challenge to get me back on the blogging track. I need to do something small before I commit myself to bigger things. In this process, I hope to reignite my love for blogging and “develop an eye” for the beauty that surrounds me through people, places and personal objects.

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/

Photo Challenge: Work of Art

I have always admired the natural beauty around me since I was little. I have always loved beautiful things because I know I serve a beautiful God.

How do I know my God is beautiful? I see it in everything He has created and in each day He orchestrates. The God I serve is the greatest artist. His creation is so beautiful. There is always something new outside for me to enjoy, I just have to open my eyes and see it for what He created it be. Beautiful.

I sincerely believe the greatest work of art is a new day of promise. I never encounter the same view or scenery every morning when I wake up. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to use to portray a “work of art” until I came across the symbol of promise God created for Noah that still stands as a testimony of God’s promise to never destroy the earth again (Genesis 9:13). Isn’t this the most beautiful covenant you have ever seen?

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Double rainbow this morning while getting out of my car across from my workplace.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/work-of-art/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument – Blunts Point

 

Blunts Point in American Samoa

Blunts Point in American Samoa

 

This naval gun is from 1941 during World War II. It is a reminder of the time when the Samoan islands were split up into the Eastern Samoan islands and the Western Samoan islands.  The Eastern Samoan islands went under America therefore receiving the name American Samoa. During that time, Tutuila was used as a training ground for the US Marines. According to  a Samoa News article, “The guns at Blunts Point are special, in that one of them is listed on the National Register of Historic Places while the other one has earned recognition as a national historic landmark.” Not bad for my small rock, Tutuila, mostly known as American Samoa. 

Even though the guns (second one not pictured) are the monuments, the view of American Samoa’s waters and beautiful landscape (like the view above) from Blunts Point is even greater than these national historic relics. If it’s not already obvious as to why I think the view is monumental, I will break it down for you. Although it’s not something made by man, I believe there’s a God who creates these beautiful scenes on a daily basis. The true author of creativity and all things monumental in this world like Mt. Everest for example. In my island, it’s Mt. Matafao. In this photo, the monument involves the beautiful blue ocean that is backed by luscious green mountains and “Fatu” the sea stack from one of my previous blog posts, which you can find by clicking Standing Strong (inspired by Fatu ma Futi). Monuments are for commemorating. Every time I see this view, I am reminded of a God full of creativity and beauty just as much as I commemorate my island’s initial journey into becoming American Samoa whenever I hike up to these tangible historic monuments.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/monument/

 

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/

 

We Built This Island…

Ironically enough, I just had a conversation with a friend about why I’d choose the island life over the city life any day. I’m not a city girl. I never was nor will I think I ever will be. Some say it’s because I lived in the wrong cities, which I disagree with because I loved the places I lived. It just wasn’t enough for me to call home. I had all my wants taken care of but not all of my needs.

My island home where I lack nothing is American Samoa found in the South Pacific region. It’s small, extremely small. I love it. There are so many beautiful things about where I live. If you came to visit my little rock, you would understand why I love it so much. Unless you’re big on shopping then you would probably complain all the time because shopping here totally blows. Then again, what do you expect from island living?

Even when it's stormy, it's still a beautiful day.

Even when it’s stormy, it’s still a beautiful day.

Yes. I live in a modernized society, but my culture is still very rich and strong. Although there are many advances happening in our island, I am proud that my people still strive to hold true to the three key values of the Samoan culture: God, family, respect. These three values are my culture’s driving force. These three values are what my island, my home, my life is built on.

Bi-polar weather is not my friend here on the islands. It could be extremely sunny in the morning and totally stormy in the afternoon. You never know what you’re going to get throughout the day. I give props to our meteorologists for trying to predict our crazy weather.

One of the worst parts of island life is the craters on our roads we call "potholes"

One of the worst parts of island life is the craters on our roads we call “potholes”

 

Another part of island life I have issues with is fa’alavelaves. I applaud Samoans for always wanting to give a helping hand, but requiring so much from those who have so little is ridiculous. Sometimes I feel as if some of our people give big amounts because of pride in their family and they want to look better than others.

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving to others and helping out my family. My grandma has always told us to make sure we always take care of our family no matter what. If you know Samoan families, that doesn’t mean it stops at your siblings. Samoan families include up to third sometimes even farther generations. Anyways, my point is I feel the system is being abused and taken advantage of. It either needs to go back to what it was intended to be or taken out all together because all these faalavelaves are putting Samoans in debt.

Other than that, I love my simple island life. I may not look like an island girl, but I was born a Samoan island girl and I will most likely leave this earth as a Samoan island girl. I love my Amerika Samoa.

Props go to my cousin Jenny for taking this photo of me and my Polynesian bush hair. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page - Maniā Photography

Props go to my cousin Jenny for taking this photo of me and my Polynesian bush hair. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page – Maniā Photography

*exits singing* We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/prompt-built-city/

Thirsty ?

Imagine yourself running a race. You had water in the beginning but that’s it. You’ve gone for at least half an hour and you can feel yourself longing for water to rehydrate your body. An hour passes and you still haven’t had any water. Your pace slows maybe even to a brisk walk. You’re still going hoping to finish the race. Finally you can’t take it anymore. You need water, but you won’t settle for the disgusting public water fountain that everyone puts their mouths on. No. You won’t get off track for that. You know there’s a water station up ahead so you push until you reach that place where there’s water specifically for those running the race.

For the past couple of weeks I found myself at a place where my spirit was dry & thirsty in this spiritual race I’m in. I longed for more than just a touch from God. I longed to know God personally, but I was too busy running I didn’t want to stop at a water station to rehydrate myself in His presence. I forgot the importance of really getting in my word and spending time with Him.

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

(Psalm 63:1 NLT)

This was my cry. This is exactly how I was feeling. I’m sure we have all come to a point where we thirst for something. We want it. We need it. We cry out for it. Our body can’t function properly without it. This is how much we should want God. God wants us to thirst for Him. You think you’re the only one who loves to feel wanted? How much more does God want you to want Him? I’ve learned He desperately does because He wants to be intimate with us. He wants His Spirit to be the water that rehydrates and strengthens on this race we’re running. My question for you reading this is just how thirsty are you for God?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Empty My Soul

I have two God-fearing ladies that I turn to because they really help me do life God’s way. My Ikki-Ikki and my Chen Chen (kind of just clicked that my nicknames for them both consist of a repetitive weirdness. Haha) have been my spiritual sisters for a while. We all have shared sins and scriptures throughout the course of our relationship with each other. We’re all very different in many ways, but we have a common denominator. We are all daughters of the King living life on earth learning to bring Him glory and honor. One confession session with these ladies and I feel refreshed and ready to allow God to help me take on any situation.

God desires us to have fellowship with people who will uplift us and uplift Him at the same time for our benefit. When we confess to God and others, we are literally emptying out our soul. People go on breaks and vacations to clear their mind. Your soul needs the same type of “clearing” from the guilt that sin binds us in.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT)

In confession and prayer, we find a feeling of renewal. I’m not saying go and sin some more then confess and get cleansed again. Like the woman Jesus forgave after she was forced to confess her sin of adultery; Jesus tells us the same message after we confess, “Go and sin no more.”

Emptying your soul is simple, but you need to be in fellowship with God and the right people. Find your Ikki-Ikki and Chen Chen in your life and let the healing begin. Trust me when I say you haven’t experienced the power of freedom until you’ve experienced the power of prayer.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

These Are My Confessions

Boy did I love Usher while growing up. I remember when he released his album Confessions I memorized every word for every song (yes I was that obsessed with him.) I would even use his lyrics when I had no words to confess whatever it was I was feeling.
David used music to confess too except, unlike me, he confessed how he felt towards God. Because he confessed daily his love for God while alone, he was able to confront Goliath and confess before him and all of Israel the awesomeness of God and what He was going to do.
God wants to help us with the Goliaths in our lives, but if we don’t memorize His Word like we memorize songs how do you expect to know what to confess? When a person comes to the realization that they need God it is because they heard His Word somehow, somewhere. Once we become saved we need to continue to seek God by discovering the truths of His Word. The Bible is like His lyrics except its the soundtrack of our lives that we need to confess daily.

“God’s Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.” (1 Peter 1:25 MSG)

Best part of confessing God’s Word in your life is it remains the one constant when everything else seems to be very fluid. 1 John says when you confess that Jesus is the Son of God you will find yourself becoming more intimate with God because He resides in you. This is where we draw strength from. There is great power in the tongue, but even greater power in confessing the Word of God in your life. “These are my confessions.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone