Haili Congregational Church

Hilo Hawai'i

"Proclaiming Jesus Christ to Hawai'i and the World"

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"Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all." - Mark 10:43-44

As a boy growing up on Moloka’i with my grandfather, crabbing at night was a favorite time spent together on the beach behind his home. We dug a hole and placed a bucket in it, then went to catch some of the white crabs that were on the sandy shore. As we caught a few of the pāpaʻi, we placed them in the bucket and as they tried to escape, they made a “scratching” sound with their legs against the interior wall of the bucket. Each crab tried to get out by climbing on other crabs to get to the top and eventually, out of the bucket. This sound would attract more crabs, until we had enough for the both of us. This crab concept was first expressed by King Kalākaua. A bucket of crabs climbing on top of each other, each pulling each other down in the process. It exposed existing resentments to those who have “made it” or even, how that person made it to the top, by stepping on others. These feelings remained even in times of prosperity when no effort was made to help the needs of those left behind.
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"Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand." – Psalm 73:23

The Hawaiian word, hukihuki is a word that means to “pull” or draw frequently (i.e, tug-of-war game). It also means to “gather”, such as with kalo and drawing of wai (water). But it is also used when there is a disagreement in a relationship; a quarrel, dissension with a person or a group (i.e., family). Hukihuki along with a chain of troubled relationships handed down by personal conflicts can cause unbearable burden and damage. It occurs when there is a “pull” in opposite directions to gain power in a two–way struggle and if it lasts long enough, something, will eventually, give. In relationships, family contention and hostilities can be damaging, especially, when it involves children. It can be a “power play” and its negative effect and impact, if left unresolved, can span for weeks, months and years as an endless burden.
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"Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man, he could not, because of the crowd. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way." – Luke 19:1-4

Throughout our islands, we are blessed with beautiful cliffs and majestic “pali” that reach towards the sky. Pali is the Hawaiian word for a steep hill or slope. For our Hawaiian ancestors, the pali was more than a mountain, it was a place of reference and reverence. It was a passageway to an eternal place from which the “spirits of the dead” took their final leap into the po (night).

The pali also symbolized a “barrier” that existed through indifference, especially, if there was a division between two people, or families, (‘ohana) of which ho’oponopono (conflict resolution) would help remedy and provide a solution towards restoring harmony. It was also regarded as a special place for ali’i (royalty) as the summit of a mountain was revered as a sacred place forbidden to maka’ainana (commoners). Today, the pali also provides a picturesque view for anyone willing to climb its summit. Despite its steep slopes and imposing cliffs, a “breath-taking” gift always awaits the beholder.
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"Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." – Romans 12:2

Hawaiian ‘Ike generally refers to the ability to see, feel and experience an understanding of a subject. ‘Ike has always been a very important part of Hawaiian life. Similarly, hōʻike means to show, announce, testify, even to share a revelation or disclosure. For example, Hewahewa was the kahuna nui (high priest), counselor and confidant for King Kamehameha ‘Ekahi. After the king’s death in 1819, and unaware of the impending arrival of the missionaries a year later, Hewahewa receives a hōʻike and instructs his awa-chewer to run in front of the house, near the shore where the royal family were living and announce: “’E ka lani e, ina aku Ke Akua a pae mai!” (‘O Chief, the God will soon land yonder). The awa-chewer then, pointed to the exact spot on the sandy beach, where a few days later, a small missionary group would land from the two-masted vessel, Thaddeus, bringing with them the Christian faith. In this supernatural encounter, Hewahewa’s hōʻike had predicted the arrival of a new god from the sea and later converted his life to Christianity.
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“I am the resurrection and the life.” – John 11:25

The first authentic record of the 2 1/2-ton Naha Stone deals with its voyage from the far away island of Kaua’i. It was said that it had rested hard by the Wailua River but was placed upon a double-hulled canoe by the High Chief, Makali’inuikualawalea, and by him brought to Hilo on Hawai’i Island, then, placed in front of the ancient temple Pinao, of which, but one single stone now remains. It is believed that the Naha Stone had the peculiar property of being able to determine the legitimacy of all who claimed to be of the royal blood of the Naha rank. Immediately after a boy of Naha stock was born, he was brought to the Naha Stone and was laid down, while the priests (kahuna) prayed to the gods and chanted. We can only imagine how anxiously the parents watched their baby, for one faint cry from those infant lips would bring upon a shame which would endure throughout its lifetime. As a result, the child would be an outcast amongst the common people and make its way through life as best as possible. But should the infant be endowed with the virtue of silence, then it would be declared by the high kahuna to be of true Naha descent, a royal prince by right and destined to become a brave and fearless warrior. By ancient prophecy, only the chiefs of the Naha blood could violate its sanctity by moving it, and by doing so, be declared the king of the island. As a 14-year-old boy, King Kamehameha ‘Ekahi moved the stone and fulfilled his destiny.
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“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” – John 15:4

One of my favorite Hawaiian native plants is the ‘uala. It grows easily and close to the ground. Its fruit, the sweet potato, tastes ‘ono (delicious). Mashed and mixed with water, the ‘uala made a “sweet potato” poi. Its leaves were steamed, boiled, or baked. For early Polynesians, ‘uala was an important staple of their diet. They grew nearly 200 varieties of this plant. It was very vigorous and would grow in areas of little rainfall, even, poor soil, yet flourish in areas where the soil was loose and porous. This food source was drought-resistant and when well-tended, produced a bountiful crop. As an old ʻōlelo noeau (wise saying) stated: “He `uala ka `ai ho`ola koke i ka wī” (The sweet potato is the food that ends famine quickly). The vines of the ‘uala grew extensively, often times, taking over an area and expanding in ground cover. It was used as medicine as a laxative and for the treatment of asthma and sore throat. One variety was used for fish bait, while old vines and leaves were placed beneath the floor mat as padding. The ‘uala expresses the natural connection of the vine and its branches as it bore fruit in abundance for our ancient ones.
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Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. – Zechariah 4:10

Centuries ago, the high-ranking men of the ali’i (chiefs) wore a Hawaiian feather helmet called, a mahiole. They were constructed of the aerial roots of the ‘ie’ie vine and woven into a basket type framework which gave a light and strong body. They were perfectly fitted to an individual and protected the head, the most sacred part of the body. The mahiole was decorated with bird feathers, a documentation of the exquisite feather work techniques of our kupuna (elders). These feathers were obtained from local birds (manu). The black and yellow feathers came from a bird called, the O’o. The Mamo provided black feathers and both the ‘I’iwi and ‘Apapane provided the distinctive red feathers. These birds were never harmed or killed but caught by trained bird catchers. These were skilled men that could imitate the call of a bird and lure them close to their hiding places. Nets were also used as well as pua (flowers) to entice and attract the manu. Once it drew near and thrust its bill into the flower, the birdman would capture it. After a few feathers were harvested, the manu was then, released. Each mahiole required hundreds of feathers. Once collected, they were bundled and tied together in small portions before being fastened onto the framework. A net of olona fibers were laid over the framework, then feathers would be placed and tied close to each other to form a uniform covering of the surface of the helmet. Starting from the bottom, each new row concealed the quills of the feather below. The mahiole represented the political status of male chiefs and their various seats of authority.
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“This is what the Lord says: Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find a resting place for your souls.” – Jeremiah 6:16

In ancient times, Hawaiians believed that the “clearing” of any obstruction or blockage was necessary in order to proceed forward on the “right track” of things. To hoʻomaʻemaʻe (to clear, unburden, remove, or empty). “Blockages” were considered “warnings”. It was anything that prevented a safe pathway or positive outcome to take place. It could be a negative attitude of character, nature, or disposition. Due to this obstacle, a planned trip may need to be cancelled; a voyage re-planned or an important family decision delayed, until a “clearinghouse” has been established. For example, before ho’oponopono (conflict resolution) could be exercised within families, a clear path was needed if blockages, such as anger, disunity, and disharmony existed. In such cases, consultation amongst the kupuna (elders) needed to be made. To relieve obstacles, Hawaiians believed that prayer was a significant “clearinghouse” resource to remedy the situation.
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The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

Konane is a traditional Hawaiian board game like checkers yet requiring the strategic skills of chess. It was played on sizeable boards called, papakonane, or papamū. These boards varied in size and surfacing, and the game lasted longer if there were more spaces on the board. The papamū were made by selecting stone or wood slabs and marking out a grid of the desired size. Drilling or grinding depressions for the lua (pits), especially the piko, the center lua of wooden boards were sometimes decorated with human teeth or bone. To complete the set, pōhaku liʻiliʻi (small stones), ‘ili’ili, black lava and white coral markers, completed the set. However, a formal papamū was not necessarily needed. Instead, impromptu games were played on lauhala mats, or any smooth surface which could be marked. Konane was a relaxing and recreational way of enjoyment as well as to reinvigorate oneself after a long day. Though it was enjoyed by both men and women, the older men played it the most and as tournaments were commonly held, the game of konane would last for days. Bets were made and the stakes were high ranging from goods, such as kapa blankets and clothing, lauhala mats, to larger wagers of jewelry, land, sexual favors, or even one’s own life.
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Dear children, let us not love in words or speech, but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

Growing up, the word, kaukau was often used to associate with eating or drinking. Kau meant “to place”. Though kaukau had different meanings, it may have been falsely aligned and corrupted with the Chinese word, “chow” or that food is “placed” (kau) before a person. However, in the Hawaiian perspective, kaukau had no association with drinks or eating of a meal. Instead, it was a form of correction meant to “present a problem or situation for consideration”. In the Hawaiian practice, kaukau was done in a calm, reasoning, and teachable manner.
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In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:37

In 1865, Kamehameha V passed an “isolation law” to separate those with leprosy from society. They were to be sent to Kalawao, Moloka’i. In this place, deep, rough oceans of the North Pacific served as a barrier on the east, west and northern shores. This southern boundary was at the foot of one of the highest cliffs in the world. A year later in January 1866, the first boatload of patients was cast off between Waikolu Valley and Kalawao, the first Kalaupapa settlement. They had no facilities, only minimal supplies and just the clothes they had on at the holding station in Kakaako on the island of Oahu. Since then, over 8000 men, women and children were taken to this isolated peninsula. 95 percent were of Hawaiian ancestry and left to survive on their own. By December, despite being separated from their families, despite their affliction, 23 men and 12 women formed the Siloama ---“spring of Siloam”---Church at Kalawao. Though they would never see their families again, they found strength in God. Regardless of their circumstances and objectionable conditions, they did not stray from their faith, but instead, held on to their hope in God.

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Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 2:5

The Hawaiian word, po’o refers to the head as a part of the body but may also refer to a position of director or leader. In the physical sense, it is the center of our emotions and intellect, though our na’au (gut or intestines) may associate as well. However, for our kupuna (elders), the po’o was a dwelling place of one’s own spirit as well as a temporary home for aumakua (ancestors) and other good spirits. In this understanding, the head on down to the shoulders was considered kapu (taboo) as a part of the body. Touching and hitting of the po’o was not allowed, including to pat the head of a child, wear someone else’s papale (hat) or sit and rest on a person’s bed pillow. This cherished principle also applied to royalty. No commoner was allowed to sit or stand in a higher position (over the head) of a ranking ali’i. However, this changed as King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) ended the kapu by building a raised area of seating directly over the royal pew in Kawaiaha’o Church.

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211 Haili Street

Hilo, Hawai'i 96720


Telephone/Fax: 808-935-4847

Email: office@hailichurch.org


144 Desha Avenue

Hilo, Hawai'i 96720