August 11, 2015

Tongans in Tents

Gathering for a is too big to all fit in one shot from where I was standing

Summer time is all about reunions and Lady Hiva’s family loves to have them. Every other year they alternate where the reunion is held and the family members from that area “host.”  Past reunions were held in Hawaii, Seattle, California, Australia and this year it was Salt Lake City’s turn to host.   Since we are back here in Utah, that meant we were part of the hosting team.

The different colored shirts represented the Tuifua brothers.  The oldest brother was Asipeli so all his descendents wore green shirts.  All of Feliha'a's descendents (Lady Hiva's grandpa) wore navy blue shirts, Kefus' wore yellow and Ofa's descendents wore light blue.

Hosting for this event means planning for, cooking for, and providing a place to stay for the nearly 200 people that arrive from all over the globe to attend. PHEW! Talk about work. Luckily there are some really organized women in the family who put the entire program together.

Most of Team Asipeli came from Seattle - Seahawks in the house

Can you spot who picked their nose and was deciding whether to eat it or not?

Stop pu'i and turn around already so we can take the photo!

No seriously, turn around!

Finally, she shows her face...

Of course Lady Hiva and I don’t have any camping gear of our own—we don’t even have all our stuff from Istanbul yet (we are literally still living out of suitcases)—so we went to buy a tent and other camping gear for us to use and an extra for one of the visiting families to use. (Lady Hiva’s family made fun of me because I wrote our names on everything we took…but hey, if we spent the money I at least want to get a few years use out of them.

For several weeks leading up to the reunion Lady Hiva practiced a dance called the ma'ulu'ulu with all of the Salt Lake family to perform on the talent show night. That meant we literally spent every day in Provo and every evening somewhere in SLC. Poor Mongoose has had more miles put on her in the last three months than she did the entire other three years she has been part of the family!

And on the first day of the camp it was Lady Hiva’s siblings turn to cook for the masses. So we stayed up late the night before preparing food that would be cooked over a fire. Lady’s sister and her husband even had twelve pigs running around their yard for a
week waiting to become dinner—not something you see in their suburban neighborhood very often.
Cleaning the pigs

This is what Leni's lawn looked like before the pigs.
This is what the pigs did to her lawn.
Hulihuli Chicken

The camp was on the Jordanelle in Heber, UT. It was so beautiful up there. I was almost tempted to tell Lady Hiva maybe we should live in Heber. It was fun to see all of the family come and the noise level of the entire campground raised about 10 notches for the next five days.

We gave hundreds of hugs and kisses. We laughed together, we ate together, cried together, we ate together, we told stories together and ate and ate together. Did I mention we ate? If not, you should know we ate. But I can tell you my very FAVORITE night of food was the one they actually had a fresh green salad! Like real, uncooked leafy vegetables. I was so happy that is all I ate that night! There was never a lack of three or four kinds of meat and late night coco and bread. 

I tried to tell them ducking just made it worse

I guess she was jealous her sister is always taking the spotlight

Two sisters...two VERY different reactions to a photo!

For two of the days we played out on the Jordanelle—trampolines, jet skis, paddle boards and kayaks were enjoyed by all. Of course our little Lucky Dragon loved every minute we spent on the water. If we were not swimming in it, he wanted to go throw rocks into it. Nothing to pass the time like throwing an endless supply of rocks into muddy water!

Mountain wheelchair


They also had several nights of talent show where the different groups of people danced and sang. One night it was Salt Lake City’s turn—you know that dance they have been practicing for weeks—and it started to rain. HARD. Which made it all the more fun. They kept dancing and singing despite not being able to see and having to wipe their faces as they danced (new dance move), and they kept dancing despite shivering with wet and cold and wearing white shirts, and they kept dancing when people came to give money and instead of falling to ground until the end of the performance as normal the soggy money  just stuck to them.
Team Asipeli performing on Talent Show night

You can see the pool of water that is beginning to form before they even start dancing.

It was raining so hard Leni couldn't even keep her eyes open!

The kids were given aluminum pans to use as umbrellas

The highlight of the experience (sarcasm here) was the pouring rain and lightning that was so close it felt like it was going to strike away all our sins at any moment. Lady and I woke up in the middle of the night to add a layer of tarp on our tent so we could stay dry. Luckily, Lucky Dragon slept through it all.

There is nothing like having family to come and enjoy. So here is to another 2 years until we get to reunite in the homeland - Tonga 2017!

Name tags were needed because there were too many names to remember

Game Day - How well do you know your family?  What's the name of the person standing behind the mat?

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