Garden Grove 2nd Ward (LDS Samoan Ward) Car Wash & Halloween Party
By Faauuga Jack Reupena
November 1, 2013 was quite a busy day and evening for the Garden Grove-2nd Ward as they held a car wash at the Valley View Church (Garden Grove, CA.) building to help raise funds in support of Eagle Scout candidate Christopher Galuvao of Boys Scout Troop-148 for his upcoming Eagle Project. Troop members, family members, and friends alike volunteered their time and efforts, even the youngest (Primary Children) group from the Ward came out and assisted with the cause.
Throughout the years, I've been to a few of the car washes sponsored by the Garden Grove-2nd Ward as it has been one of their mainstay fundraisers and I have to say all the ones I've been to have been very successful. The funds donated will go towards a Beautification Project and the building of a Veteran's Memorial at a park in Garden Grove, CA.
One of the criteria's for candidate Christopher Galuvao for him to achieve his goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, is that, he must show and display his leadership skills as he will be given the task of planning, organizing, implementing, and completing his Eagle Project. He'll also be collaborating with the City of Garden Grove Parks and Recreations Department personnel for their assistance on his project. More information and details will follow as the date for the project draws closer.
After the car wash, later that evening, Garden Grove-2nd Ward held their annual "Trucker Treat" Halloween Party that kicked off with a costume parade for the children. This event took place at the Bolsa Church (Garden Grove) building parking-lot and it also included a chili cook-off contest for the adults which Bishop Galuvao's wife, Tofa Galuvao took home the First place prize. There were a bunch of celebrities like Elvis Presley spotted in the house along with different Disney characters, super heroes, goblins, witches, and of course the Fairy Godmother herself, Primary President Lolina Talili.
According to Lolina, the "Spooky Cemetery" took first place for originality and the "Cars" contest winner went to Allitasi Iupeli and the Duck Dynasty Gang. The music for dancing under the stars was provided by none other then DJ (Smooth Operator) Falelaulii. I should also mention that in order to organize and implement an event such as a Carwash for a fundraiser and / or Halloween "Trunker Treat" Party, it's always with the children and youth in mind. In an e-mail received from President Lolina Talili she stated; "Thank-you to all the folks who came out to support the event!".
As parents and leader's our hearts and genuine love goes out to our children. Within the four walls of our homes, as parents or legal guardians we have the opportunity to teach and train our children to "Choose The Right" and for them to make the right decisions for their own well being. As I watch the Primary children and the youth from the Garden Grove-2nd Ward work the car wash, I saw some of them on the sidewalk holding up signs, waving at cars, and yelling at the top of their lungs--"CAR WASH!". Some were holding sponges, rags, buckets of soap and water as they focused on washing the cars as customers were driving up. The thing that really caught my attention as I continued to observe the Primary children and the youth with much admiration, was their enthusiasm, smiles, laughter, teamwork, and above all else they were taking work (car wash) and turning it in to "FUN."
Of course it's not all going to be fun and games and sometimes our kids just get tired and a bit lazy just like us adults as we all have our moments. However, how our children act and react to things outside of the four walls of the home is usually dictated by our own actions, examples, and teachings as leaders and parents.
***I would like to thank Sister Lolina Talili, DJ (Smooth Operator) Falelaulii, and Bishop Talavou Galuvao for sharing their thoughts and suggestions for this story***
The Editor in Chief for Le Malae Orange county is an entrepeneur and family man. Welcoming Faauuga Jack reupena to Le Malae.
By Faauuga Jack Reupena
First and foremost I’d like to thank my Heavenly Father for the many blessings he has blessed me with throughout my lifetime. The story I’m about to share with you is about my coming to America from the island of Samoa (Upolu) and it’s as real as it comes. It’s a story filled with emotions as I share it with the public for the first time, but I feel the need to share it not only because it’s unique to me personally, but also with the hope that other’s from our little small island of Samoa who now reside outside of Samoa would come forward and share the uniqueness of their own story of how they arrived where they presently reside. And this includes coming from American Samoa as well. As you read this, keep in mind that my love and respect for my parents for the sacrifices that they endured for us their children (6-of us) can never be measured.
Let me start by saying that my father is from Salesatele (Falealili), Upolu and my mother is from a little village in Savai’I called Paia (The Mauai’s), yes I know, it’s the same place where legend has it that the Dwarf’s reside in a cave nearby. At 5’-10” tall I don’t think I would fall under the Dwarf stature so like I tell my friends when they tease me about it, my well toned and perfect physique comes from my father’s side of the family in Falealili where it all began for the Manu (Samoa). Speaking of Falealili, my father may have been born and raised there throughout his younger years but the most critical years of his life was spent near Apia (Taufusi). Although his father was a Faifeau (Minister) for the London Missionary Society Church, eventually my father veered a different direction as you continue to read more.
Mom & Dad:
At age sixteen my mother left Paia, Savai’i and moved in with an uncle and aunt who lived in Taufusi (Upolu) so she would be able to attend Pesega with the hope of completing her schooling. At about the same time my father had moved to Taufusi from Falealili at age twenty-two in order to attend Teachers Training College (TTC-Malifa) with the hope of becoming certified and receiving his teaching credentials. They became neighbors and thus the beginning of a friendship, courtship, and eventually marriage. Within three years after they first met they got married and my father was offered a teaching job (maua lana nu’u) at Lalomanu but my father’s oldest brother who was teaching at Pesega at the time had other plans for my father’s (and his family) future.
With his oldest brother’s assistance (it’s who you know not how much you know), father was hired through Pesega (school) to teach at one of two schools of his choice, either at Sauniatu in Upolu or Vaiola in Savai’i. It was my mom that picked Vaiola so she could be near her parents who still lived in Paia at the time and apparently that wasn’t a problem with my father, although throughout the years he use to tell us (children) that he was the boss and he made all the decisions, ok dad…*wink-wink*. My father spent the next five years teaching at Vaiola and during that time I was born (oldest child) along with my sister and a younger brother. Also during that period my parents accepted the missionary discussions and became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints. Their decision to join the church became a profound life changing experience.
My father was given an opportunity through the church schools (Pesega / Viola) to re-locate to Hawaii (Oahu) and attend the Church College of Hawaii (CCH) now known as BYU-Hawaii to further his education. He was also told that if he accepted the offer that he would only be able to take one of his kids with him and the rest of the family would have to stay back. I can only imagine the pressure, agony, and unsure feelings that weighed heavily on the minds of my parents with the thought of our family splitting up. To no avail, my parents made the dreaded decision of having me go with my father to Hawaii first and with the hope and prayer that we would be reunited as a family in the near future. When I think about it now I have no doubt my parents wanted a better life for us in coming to America but that sure didn’t make the decision to split up any easier.
As I got older I use to ask my father if the only reason he joined the church (LDS) back in Samoa was because of some of the privileges that came with it like having easier access in re-locating to America. I’ll never forget his answer as he came across with such sincerity, honesty, and at times he’d be on the verge of tears as he explained that in the beginning it was more important for him to do everything in his power and to do whatever it took to re-locate his family to America. He said gradually as he continued to read and learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, he concluded that God is truly a loving and caring Heavenly Father that only wants the best for his children. He continued to solidify his testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and it’s through him and God the father that made it possible for him and his family to make it to America.
A Mother’s Love:
The year was 1963 and at age five I was excited about the opportunity to ride on the plane but yet I was clueless as to what was taking place at the airport. My parents coaxed me in to thinking that the whole family was making the trip to Hawaii and obviously I fell for it. When my mother held me so tight with tears flowing down her face uncontrollably, it was at that moment that I felt something was very wrong with this picture. At that age I only knew that when someone (anyone) cried, it was because they were sad about something and I could see the sadness through my mother’s eyes and that really hurt me for my mother was always by my side. There’s a lot to be said about the impact of a mother’s love and connection with her child that only them two can understand and comprehend and that’s exactly how I felt about mom that day at the airport.
Throughout my fifty-plus years on this Earth, I can’t ever remember getting in to a heated argument with my mom let alone yelling (disrespecting) at her for any reason. Sure there were times when I thought and believed she was wrong but those were teen years which I call the “fiapoko” (too smart for your own good) years. Also throughout the years, I’ve prepped and suggested to my three sons that when they seek out a soul mate for all eternity, to find one with the qualities that exist in the mode of their grandmother and mother. One that is loving, caring, respectful, and most important of all, if they can get along with their grandmother and mother, you’ve just solved eighty-five percent of any problems / issues that might arise. The other fifteen percent we’ll keep it in the reserve tank because no one’s perfect.
Now having an idea in my head of what was about to take place I held on to my mother with all my might crying uncontrollably as family members tried earnestly to pry us apart so my father and I could board the plane. It was the worst feeling in the world and I felt so helpless now realizing that my mother, the one person in the world that was with me 24/7 was not going to be with me at all the next time I woke up. While on the plane I just couldn’t stop crying and as much as my father tried his best to console me, he lost it as well and cried along with me. It was at that moment that it solidified in my heart how much my father truly loved his family dearly. Although my father passed a little over 16-yrs. ago (1997), the small talks we had during his last three years were precious and priceless moments. His last words to me: “SON, TAKE CARE OF MY WIFE.”
Someone once said: “The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” Boy, what an example of what a good and hard working father should be like when I think of my father. No he wasn’t perfect, but he never allowed anyone or anything to stop him from trying to perfect himself in becoming a perfect father, a perfect person, a perfect Priesthood holder, and a perfect Son of God. My father always advised me to be the best person I could possibly be and that’s all the Lord ask of me. He was always the fun, loving, and joking guy when in a room full of people, he would tell me to make sure all my friends who frequent our home were fed, and the one I love the most is when he would tell me that if I didn’t have anything good to say about anyone just “shuddup!.” Sometimes, I sit alone in my room shedding tears wishing he was still here……
Laie, Oahu (Hawaii):
I’m happy to say that my family reunited 2-years later (1965) as my mom, sister, and two brothers (one was unborn when father and I left) joined us in Laie, Hawaii where I spent a few years attending elementary and living next to the Moe family. The two that I remember is Pati and Ula Moe and of course the hang out was at Laie Park and roaming Hukilau Beach with my cousins Fatu Fiso & Pita Collins. Growing up in Laie was like being back in Samoa and having met my cousins right away after arriving from Samoa somewhat lessoned the heartache I felt of missing my mother. I was fine during the day when I kept myself occupied by playing and hanging out with family and friends but at night it was a different story. When my family finally reunited after 2-years I just couldn’t get myself to call my mother “Mom”, it was always by her first name “Va” but that changed quickly, mother made sure of it.
My family moved to the west side of the island because my father’s job had re-located, totally opposite of Laie and after the last three years making friends and getting accustomed to the Laie way of life, I was devastated once again. Growing up in Waianae throughout the latter part of elementary, junior high, and high school years became a blast. I made new friends and Waianae just grew on me. The high school was literally right next to the beach, the football program was rich in tradition with coach Ginoza, and I’m proud to say my buddies and I actually put our high school basketball team on the map before our tenure was up. So many fond memories of so many great people throughout those teen years and as I reflect back, I think of how God has a hand in everything that we do and the places that we should be at that given time of our lives.
I had a few fond memories growing up in Waianae, one was the once a year May Day cultural festivities and having the Samoan Club come together practicing songs and dances prepping for May Day brought the whole Samoan community together, students and parents alike took pride in perfecting the songs and dances through practice, practice, and more practice. Another fond memory is when I was selected to participate in the OIA (public schools) versus the ILH (private schools) all-star basketball game. Our first day of practice I got to meet up with 4-All Stars from Kahuku High who would’ve been my classmates and teammates if I didn’t move to Waianae. In my heart and mind I never thought I would move away from Waianae, if I did leave it was only to accomplish the task at hand but I would always make Waianae my home.
(HAIL TO THEE O’ WAIANAE, THANK’S FOR THE MEMORIES)
My Purpose, My Misson:
After graduating in 1977 I received a few offers (basketball scholarships) which I was excited about but for some reason I felt emptiness inside of me like something was missing and it was probably because I was weighing the decision of whether to serve a mission for my church or take up the scholarship offers. I went to work immediately just before I graduated, doing security work for some condominiums up in Makaha Valley. One day (Aug. 16, 1977) just before noon some breaking news over the radio hit me like a ton of bricks, it was announced that the King, Elvis Presley, had passed away at age 42. What a profound effect and impact that made in my life. I thought, here’s the king of rock and roll and now he’s dead, what is next for him? Where is he? Is he saved and how? I had found my answer, I was going to serve a mission for my church.
I was called to serve in the Hawaii / Micronesia mission from April-1978 to April-1980 and those 2-yrs. not only prepared me for the rest of my life to do good and to do right, but it has taught me to embrace the every day challenges, trials, and tribulations that at times can become over bearing but yet can be overcome with a spiritual mindset guided and directed by my Heavenly Father and solidified with my faith and testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that his atoning sacrifice for me is a critical part of Heavenly Father’s plan of Salvation enabling me to live with them again in their presence and reuniting with my family for all eternity. I often advise those young men and young women who are preparing to embark on their missions, that how they serve their missions will be an indication and barometer of how they’ll live and serve the rest of their lives……
My sister called me while I was out in the mission field with less then a month left before I was to return home. To my surprise she said, “Don’t get mad Brother but our family moved to California”. I couldn’t believe it and I was a little upset that not only I wouldn’t see my friends back in Hawaii but I was going to a place where I didn’t know anyone but my small family, and of course that feeling again of “not again”. Regardless of the circumstances, I had a choice and my choice was to go wherever my parents resided and that’s where Heavenly Father wanted me to be. Although I left my homeland at a very young age, there’s some things that you can never forget nor deny that’s embedded in your heart, mind, and soul when it comes to our Culture (Fa’asamoa), Family (Aiga), and of course; God comes first (Muamua Le Atua).
Upon my return home, now it was Orange County (California), I could see my parents really needed me here with them and in talking with my mother I could see the joy and sense of relief on her face that I had returned home. One of my goals was to get back to school and earning a basketball scholarship but instead, four days upon returning from my mission I entered the work force (Aerospace Company) where my mother and father were employed and the next thing I know, I was there for the next 10-years. I owed it to my parents to help them lighten the load and being the oldest child, I felt that my siblings needed me to be home with them as well. I’m often asked if I ever regretted not being able to attend college and having the opportunity to play basketball, a game I love. The answer is a resounding “NO”, I wouldn’t change a thing, I LOVE MY PARENTS!
In the summer of 1981 (32 yrs. Ago) I married the sweetest girl, my best friend, and the mother of our now 4-grown children. You think I’m ecstatic the good Lord directed me to California (Orange County) after my mission tenure? You bet I am, I’m a blessed man having found my eternal mate here, who knows where I would be without my Heavenly Father’s guiding light. Married life has been totally “awesome” but don’t get me wrong, there are ups and downs to any relationship and that’s the beauty of it, overcoming the downs by communicating with each other and resolving issues with love, patience, prayer, and spiritual guidance. I’ve learned that even though I think I’m right sometimes I give the right of way to my wife just to keep the peace and I notice she does the same. With a 50% plus divorce rate in America today, I feel fortunate and quite blessed indeed.
My wife retired in August of last year (2012) from the Sheriff’s Department and after a month she went back to working 2-days a week stating she was getting bored. The last 5-years I’ve tried to convince her that when she retires we should move to Samoa, with the check that she was getting every month it was equivalent to something like $7,000. Tala’s a month. She wouldn’t budge, especially with the birth of our 2-grandsons which sealed the deal of staying put here in America but at least she permits me to go visit my family in Samoa occasionally. I couldn’t have picked out a better and noble soul mate then my wife, she’s such a gem and it would take me thousands of pages to try and explain and express my dying love for her. Here’s to another additional 32-years with you my precious, loving, and most beautiful wife.
No FeFe / Jungo (Wear):
Although I never got the opportunity to play college ball (basketball), I was blessed to have played and captained both the Am. Samoa SPG-1991 (Papua New Guinea) team and the Samoa Oceania-1993 team with both teams taking home the gold. It was a dream come true for me to represent my countries and just as important was the relationships I established with some great people from both Samoa’s. Right about that time we also launched our No FeFe Line which made some noise in the Polynesian community but since the death of our partner David Fa’amausili in 2002, things weren’t the same ever since his passing. There’s an old commercial that was put out by Reebok in which it simply states: “Life Is Short, Play Hard.” That’s so profound and what I’ve done is replace the word “Play” with “Live” to remind me that any day could be my last, GO HARD!
Along with some partners since 2011 we started a line of clothing called Jungo (Wear). We took the word “Jungo” from the Latin American Dictionary because we felt it was the perfect fit for our line and how we wanted to come across to people. Look it up and you’ll find that Jungo means: to connect, to unite, and to bring together. When I saw this for the first time I was blown away like it just fell in to our laps, that’s exactly what we want to do with our artwork, drawings, and sayings. We’re not targeting just locals, we want to go Universal and make a difference by bringing people together from all walks of life regardless of where they’re from. We want to make people happy, make them laugh, show concern, show love, lift their spirits, and show that we care. We want to be involved with fundraisers, special events, homeless needs, less fortunate, and many more other projects. Yes it’s a “JUNGO” out there, and we’re here to…..HELP.