Monday, November 23, 2015

Back at Church

It's been almost a month since my family attended church (and even longer since I last updated my blog...useless!) Times have been busy as we farewell family and friends before our imminent departure. On top of the stresses of planning our move and packing, work continues to be moving at light speed with me travelling every week leaving Hele to hold the fort.

It is during busy times like these that I begin to stumble. My walk with Christ becoming a limp until finally I am crawling. And often the crawling is towards forgiveness because with every new day, a new challenge also awaits. Often these challenges catch me at my weakest point and I react as opposed to seeking His guidance. But even though I feel like such a weak fool seeking forgiveness for the 100th time for any particular week, I am still ever so grateful for my faith. Where would I be without it?!!

It was this thought that got the better of me today while at Church. During the third pese, staring up at the large cross set against stained glass above the altar...I wept. Tears of pure gratitude as I sang. I was completely overwhelmed by all the work God has completed in my life. Most of all I was in awe of the wonders our family has experienced since moving to Wellington. From building our small family,  the addition of another child, to the abundance of love and friendships we have discovered during our time here.  There is no other joy than having ones prayers answered. And for me, some of those prayers I was unable to verbalize, they were simply desires of my heart. And today I wept tears of joy knowing deep within me, that I served a God who truly knew me. A God who sees me.
Thank you Father for remembering our family. We are so undeserving. We will never be able to repay you. Ever. Thank you...that's all my heart sings...is thank you.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Joshy and his friend Jacob

This is my son's best friend Jacob. They started primary school together in 2013 and have been best mates ever since. 

Josh and Jacob at the City Gallery

One of interests these two guys share is their love of soccer. They spend as much time as possible during lunch break to play soccer against other kids. One of the most frustrating things as a parent, is when you ask your child how their day went at school and the answer you get is, "Great. I scored 2 goals today during soccer."

However, one evening I recall my son coming home quite upset. Later that evening while we were having dinner he told me that during their usual lunch time soccer game he had accidentally tripped his friend up. Jacob was left with a bleeding knee. Joshua was so upset at having hurt his friend. But even more so when after saying sorry to his wee friend, Jacob smiled back through his tears and said "That's ok Joshy, you didn't mean to". "How did that make you feel son?" I enquired. "I felt bad that I hurt him mum. But I felt good that even though I did, he still wanted to be my friend". Forgiveness and resilience. Its pretty humbling when things we struggle with as adults come so easily to children. "Yeah, you're pretty lucky that you have a good mate eh son". "Yeah mum, I'm pretty lucky" he replied. 

Last year Joshua and Jacob moved up a class and collaborating on their "big" project. The class was asked to research and present to the class an example of a great leader. No surprises that they decided to research and present on their favourite soccer player, Lionel Messi. I remember Saturday afternoons finding Joshua on the computer emailing his friend (yes a 6 year old) to share his latest version of their power point. And then later in the afternoon Joshua finding a reply from Jacob in his inbox providing feedback and adding in new facts. It makes me laugh now just thinking about it. After weeks of development, they were pretty proud of the animated power point presentation they gave to their class. Watching it I must say, it was pretty impressive. And I've sat through my fair share of power point presentations!

Over the past 2 years their friendship has flourished. They have celebrated birthdays together and attended soccer camps during the school holidays. And today they celebrated a new milestone - Jacob's farewell...because this time next week, Jacob and his family move to Fiji. I know that my little man will miss his friend's company and banter at school. But as Joshy reminds us, "its good Jakey gets to see and live somewhere new". 

Its funny isn't it. The things you obsess and fixate on to develop your child without any real recognition that your child is their very own master of their universe and capable of seeking ways to help develop themselves. In this instance, Josh developed to be a good friend and experienced the invaluable treasures of friendship. 


Malachi, Jacob and Josh hitting a few rounds of golf lol
God bless and keep you Jacob. You have been a blessing in Joshua's life and we thank you for your kind friendship :) Hopefully, all going well, our family will be able to visit you and your family in your new Pacific home and neighborhood.

Ia manuia lou malaga!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Friends more than just a sitcom

Last weekend Hele and I began to talk about preparations for our imminent move back to the Motherland. A good deal of time was spent reflecting on the many milestones we have celebrated during our post here in Wellington. The biggest highlight for us both has been the many friends God has brought into our lives. Friends who filled a hole in our lives, who welcomed us into their homes, their families, as we tried to settle into our new environment. And without warning, memories of our move here began flooding in.

It still remains as a vivid memory to be honest. So much so that I could swear our move here to Wellington only happened a few days ago. We arrived on a Friday, late in the afternoon. Greeted by Hele's work colleagues at the airport, within an hour we were delivered to our empty and quiet house where we were going to be based for the next four years. It was hard to believe that only a few hours earlier we bid farewell to our family and the familiar heat, noises, dust and scents. Things I now wished that I could have bottled up for times like these. And all that now greeted us was the howling of the wind as it pressed itself up against the windows, checking to see if we were still alive. It was a hollowing feeling to say the least. The large white-walled lounge with its high ceilings swallowing our small family up. It wasn't long before it began to dawn on us that this was it. The two of us huddled together with our two small children tucked firmly between us, and whispered a quiet prayer of thanks. After a month of planning and packing, we had finally arrived. I'm not sure what was in my husband's mind, but at the time I was thinking/hoping/wishing that maybe when I opened my eyes the familiar things that I missed would somehow magically appear and we would be alright. It didn't, and reality sunk in. It was up to the four of us to make this new place our home, carrying this unspoken wedge-shaped hole in our family. That was until we met the Ulu's.

A few months after settling here we enrolled our children into a local Aoga Amata and it was here that a family reached out and invited us to dinner with some of their friends. I remember us both being slightly hesitant, maybe even a little shy (yes, it does happen lol). But a glance at our mattresses stacked in the lounge after over two month of arriving was probably a sign that it was high time to get out of the cabin and into the fresh air. And the fresh air was so satisfying. It is for this reason that the Ulu's will always hold a special place in our hearts. If it weren't for their love, understanding, grace and honesty, we probably would have carried along the path we were on. That's not to say we are hermits, but rather after healing the rawness that comes with farewells, we were unsure about whether to once again lay down roots in the knowledge that we would be doing it once again.

And yet here we are. After just over 3 years we have welcomed so many friends into our lives. Friends who have made us laugh so hard we've cried, and cry so hard its made us laugh. So no surprises then that our session of reminiscing was, or rather is, somewhat bittersweet. So much so that while sharing we get a knock at the door to find our neighbor holding out a carrot cake in one hand and a chocolate cake in the other. This is followed shortly after with another knock at the door to find one of Hele's marist brothers with crayfish, taro and luau. Bittersweet? Maybe more bitter than sweet.

So with only a matter of months before we depart, we have begun to say our farewells. Our philosophy has always been that gratitude is living in the moment. And because you never know when it is your time to leave we make the most of every opportunity. Whether over a simple cup of tea or en-route to a meeting we bolt through that window to express our gratitude to those who have given so much of themselves to our family. And it is with great humility and a sense of satisfaction that we are able to acknowledge that the wedge-shaped hole we felt when moving here has been filled to the brim with friends we have made in the school grounds, church pews, sports fields, workplaces, coffee houses...heck even in McDonalds. What is clear is that God's goodness knows no bounds. The friends we have made during our short time here we will carry with us into the next phase of our lives. They will live on in the stories we retell our children of our time here (and if you have ever had the privilege of hearing the two of us telling a good story, let me tell you, being a character in our tales however tall they may be is a highly sought after opportunity haha). And in retelling these stories we will relive them - smiling, laughing, crying, you name it. Our friends have become our family in a place where we were orphans. We will miss you all very dearly and ask that God abundantly bless each of you for everything you have given us.

Uo i aso uma, uso i aso vale.

Soifua x

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

X Factor judges gets sacked...could this be my chance for a career change?

Three words. "You disgust me". That's all it took for me to turn back to the tv playing in the background as hubby and I ran frantically around the house getting it all spic and span for the week. 

After a day of spiritual reflection and my Sunday evening is interrupted by a string of sentences with the intent to inflict pain. 

No offence, but as I haven't watched any of this season I was dumbfounded to see that the one issuing the verbal onslaught was a raccoon. I'm dead serious. Budget must be tight these days let me tell you. And here I was thinking the panel sitting there were so-called celebrities??? Puzzling I know. But lets face the facts, nobody even knows who she is and for all we know a raccoon could have very well replaced her without us even knowing. Its comedy hour let me tell you. A scene straight out of Over the Hedge. And it appears the joke wasn't on the poor bloke she embarrassed on national tv. The joke was on her.

What isn't a joke though is Bullying. So, take a bow NZers who recognised her behaviour for what it truly was and called a spade and spade. 70,000 of you signed your names to a petition to have the Natalia Kills killed off the show together with her "original" husband. Its unclear how much influence it had on the shows producers to do the right thing. One can only hope that they had initiated a process to give them the boot on their own. Compelled not by ratings or retaining the show's sponsorship, but to maintain the dignity of contestants that so eagerly put themselves out there to see whether they have what it takes. Well one can live in hope ha!

So as it would appear there seems to be an opening on the judges panel. Would it be too much to put forward my stunning CV? Given the fact that I do a good impersonation of raccoons, monkeys, lions and even elephants (just ask my 1 year old after story time) AND I fit the "not-famous" bill, surely I get a look in! Yes...no? Well people you know where to find me. Just as an early heads up also, if you could please hire someone to help my hubby out with the chores on Sunday night that would be a bonus! 

Sincerely a Samoan Raccoon

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My little creator

I could tell very early on that Tapuitea was a kinesthetic learner who also enjoys visual type activities. When starting at aoga, I would set her up at the painting station before saying our farewells. In front of a blank canvas, she has always been at ease.

So it only made sense that one of the first activities for us to do together was to create a painting for her bedroom. And off to Stationery warehouse we went one Saturday morning to pick up our supplies. While it would have been great to get cracking when returning home. We also had the one-year-old in tow. So to avoid having paint all over the carpet and walls, we waited for her to succomb to her mid-afternoon nap before launching into our activity. It didn't take too long, before she was fast asleep and we were away singing.

On that particular week Tapu had brought a book home in her book bag called "Painting the Car". On each page was an adjective with a bright picture. "Stripes...Spots...squiggles". So we used the new words as inspiration for the painting. We used builders tape to block out a "T" for Tapuitea, and then she proceeded to fill the canvas with the patterns she had just learned. 

And we're off...


In the zone


After an hour or so, her painting was completed and she was ready to tackle a new one. 

Ready to hung on the wall

Monday, March 9, 2015

A trip out to Makara beach

Sometimes I wonder whether I should have named my daughter Philippa. Not because I dig myself (far from it), nor is it because I like my name (honestly I still can't understand what would possess a Samoan and a Maori to give their first born child such an English name...what the??).

You see, the name Philippa is Greek for "Lover of Horses" or "Friend of horses". And I can tell you, that ain't me. My first experience of riding a horse was during our 7th form camp. Sad to say, that day so traumatic, it ended up being my first and last ride. You see, I was the one who drew the short straw that day and ended up being allocated a somewhat "possessed" horse. What should have been a nice, leisurely horse "walk" across Pakiri beach, turned into a bolt across the beach. Me holding on for dear life, and the horse instructor riding alongside on her horse, trying to yell some instruction at me like "pull the reins" or something to that effect. And my bulging eyes screaming at her saying "Woman! I'm Samoan, what the hell were you thinking putting me on here, what the hell are "reins", if you know what they are then you pull the damn thing, because this is your horse, and if I get hurt, my mum is going to kill you" all at the same time (I may not have rode a horse before, but my telepathic ability is pretty exceptional if you don't mind me saying ha!). Anyways, some kilometers down the beach, she somehow manages to grab hold of the reins and slow my horse down, halleluyah, and we are back at the start. She yells at me to get off and to wait there until everyone else comes back to camp. I thought, what a loser instructor she was, and vowed never to go near another horse in my life.

Well, as fate would have it, I gave birth to a daughter who is absolutely in love with horses (I tell you God sure has a sense of humor!). So when a friend of mine invited us to her newly built house in Makara to ride horses, I thought, why not.

As a mother standing and observing my daughter near these huge beasts, I can't help but admire her. She holds herself with such a regal peace that it is clear that these animals some how have an affinity to her. This little four year old of mine, after being introduced to "Chole" the horse, stood face to face with her, and stared back into Chole's big brown liquid eyes. They stood there holding each others gaze and Tapuitea lifted her hand seeking Chole's permission to stroke her. And there they stood. In front of one another. This four legged mammal and my four year old. And it was if time stood still.. The wind howling past them both, blowing their manes about as they got acquainted. Without even a word passing between them. It was almost something spiritual.



 

Once acquainted, Chole and Kim led us down to the arena. Tapuitea skipping behind. Insisting that she didn't need to hold my hand. That she was alright to walk on her own. I smiled. She wanted to do it all by herself and didn't want mum holding her back.

Down at the arena, Chole waited patiently as Tapuitea climbed on top of her back. And around and around they walked, Chole, Kim and Tapuitea. My girl sitting regally as though she were born to ride. As if what coursed through her veins was royal blood.




Soon after it was time to lead Chole back to her field. Her "Beau" waiting impatiently for her to return. My girl, climbing the fence overlooking the field, glowing and waving to Chole who was now busy eating.



What a magical day. Filled with priceless memories.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Teaching Tapuitea

If you have more than one child, you will probably be able to empathize with me when I share that there are nights where I lay awake and feel guilty about the amount of attention given to my second and even third child. I know mothers everywhere will be sighing and reassuring me "Pip, let yourself off the hook, you're kids are fine". But like most mothers, I know that I poured a significant amount of attention into my first born. In helping to establish the building blocks of his journey of learning. The offspring that followed, guiltily I will admit, not as much.

Sure there are the natural explanations...the tiredness...more attention on trying to generate more income now there were two extra mouths to feed. But still, that thought has gnawed away at me. So what?

After many months of reflecting and soul-searching, I decided last year that something needed to change. And that something was me. One of the first commitments I made to the almighty, myself and my daughter, was that I was going to set aside time to do some type of activity of interest with Tapuitea. That I needed to stop trying to get everything perfect, and instead just like anything, start small. My goal therefore wasn't so much a regimented learning activity (as was the method I used with Joshua) but a more organic experience led entirely by her interests.

I share this with you all to provide a context for future posts where I will document some of the learning experiences we share together. As I am sure, I will learn more from her than she will ever learn from me.

Let the journey begin.

Happy reading