Today was a day off and I had no orders to fill on deadline, so decided to drive to Iao Valley to finish a book I was reading. However, all the tourists on Maui chose to go on this day as well and the parking lot of full. The closest spaces on the road were about a mile away. I know a mile isn’t that far to walk, but we’re having record heat so it was about 94 degrees. As I was driving out I remembered Heritage Park–a collection of cultural houses built in a tropical garden park. I remember going once before about five years ago but at the time had neither camera nor cell. There are several paths meandering through the trees with small replicas of houses, statuary, ponds and lovely cooling breezes. I tried to capture the essence of each little home.
The first thing I noticed on my journey was a large outdoor oven and I immediately knew this was the Portuguese residence. I could imagine the “ala onaona”, the wonderful fragrance of Portuguese sweet bread emanating from the oven calling the children to dinner or breakfast (and probably any neighbors within smelling distance).
As the Portugeuse people were predominately of the Catholic faith, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded my greenery…looking peaceful and serene, calmly watching over her people.
The house was as colorful as the people of the land. There are striking blue tiles along the top of the white walls and along the doorways.
Next in line came the Filipino cottage which was open air with bamboo walls.
The house was being reconstructed with some of the bamboo being replaced, but it looked as tropical as the Philippines.
Then there is the “uptight haole” house in a New England style. It looked prim and proper as I imagine the missionaries must have looked to the Hawaiian population.
As my phone camera was losing power, I managed to capture the Chinese pagoda style house and the statue with Chinese Kanji reminding the visitors of faith, prosperity and loyalty.
As my phone died I took one last photo of the trees and palapalai fern. I ended up in the Filipino hut reading to the sound of the breezes whisking through the trees on a spectacular Hawaiian day.
I moved to the island of Maui from the Big Island of Hawai’i two years ago. I think one of the things I missed the most was my church. Kuhio Chapel is located in the Hawaiian Homesteads and has a large congregation of mostly those that live in the area. It was my idea of what a Hawaiian church should be. Kahu Brian gave sermons from the heart. He never used notes as he knew and lived his material.
On Maui I felt I needed a church again. I first went to Keawela’i. It’s a huge church with a huge congregation. However, most of those there were visitors and there was no feeling of local camaraderie. Although it is purported to be a Hawaiian church, it didn’t, to me, seem to be very Hawaiian. It is located in Makena which is pretty long hike from Kula. Later I went to Keolahou in Kihei. Again, quite a drive but a sweet church. There was a nice feel to it, lots of opportunity to play my ukulele. However, the kahu fractured the Hawaiian language. It too was quite a drive and when my days off changed and I now work on Sunday afternoon, it was difficult to drive all the way there, then home again to get ready for work and then drive down the mountain again.
I tried Ka’ahumanu, but the congregation was terribly small. I do so enjoy going to Ka’ahumanu for the monthly Picnic for Poki which is a Hawaiian musical series on the grounds under the Monkeypod tree. I heard there was a Hawaiian church in Waiehu (another drive) and another very small congregation–five including myself. However, I did enjoy Kahu Roy. He also spoke from the heart. However, it didn’t feel like a community and was another long drive.
I was then told of a Hawaiian church in Paia. Paia is a small Hippie/New Age town right down the mountain from where I live. I would have never thought of Paia when looking for a Hawaiian church. But, when I pulled into the parking lot, it reminded me so much of Kuhio Chapel. It’s a cozy church with an active congregation of about 35. There is a piano and ukulele. The Lord’s Prayer is in Hawaiian, the Doxology is in Hawaiian, the hymns are in Hawaiian. I felt so at home. Their Kahu passed away a couple of years ago so they have an interim kahu–Kahu Roy! He is fluent in Hawaiian. I felt so comfortable singing (well making a joyful noise). I was moved to tears, so, I think I’ve finally found my Maui church.
Paia Hawaiian Church
This is July, right? In the middle of summer? We are struggling through an unprecedented heat wave that is setting records all over the state. In Kahului at the airport it has been coming in a 92, 93 degrees with little breeze to dry the sweat on my brow. However, last night we had a storm blow through…at least that’s what I was told. I hadn’t slept the night before so last night I slept through it all. This was a little disappointing as I still miss the sound of the rain on my tin roof in Hilo. When I got the newspaper this morning I was surprised to see the photo of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i (my island) covered with snow! In the middle of July! I do remember getting snow in June around 2011 and occasionally in the 1980’s but it is still incredibly surprising. And, it’s still beautiful. Of course, it has melted now, but what an amazingly stunning site while it stayed long enough for photos.