Friday, March 4, 2016

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

This was the place where I formed my strongest emotional connection to the island. We started walking around the grounds this Sabbath morning, but my knee was really troubling me, so I decided to attend Ranger Hua's program at 10:30. It was all arranged by Heavenly Father, I believe.

This site is sacred. It used to belong to the king (chief?) and the commoners weren't allowed to step foot on it or look at it or anything (and let me tell ya, it's a great little piece of real estate). They weren't even allowed to let their shadow be cast upon this special ground. If you broke one of all the many little rules regarding the king, you were punished by death. Very simple. There was no leniency. Breaking these rules was called breaking kapu. Kapu comes from the word Tabu (taboo). Very, very bad to break kapu. There was only one way to get out of your mistakes and that was to swim to the city of refuge. If you could make it to the refuge, you had a clean slate. As this ranger began to interpret the site for me, my heart was touched and tears welled up in my eyes. Just yesterday, I emailed a long note to his supervisor in praise of my remarkable experience there. Who knew that this would be such an experience for me?

Thursday 3 March 2016

Dear Superintendent Duchesne:

I had the privilege of visiting Pu'uhonua o Honaunau on Sunday 28 February 2016 with some family members and I had such a fantastic experience regarding Ranger Hua's program at 10:30 a.m. that I felt the need to reach out to you letting you know how lucky your park is to have such a masterful presenter connecting people to this historical site. I was impressed by Ranger Hua's ability to "read" an audience and find out personal details about us without ever asking common questions such as, "Where are you from?" He uses wisdom and skill along with warmth and friendship to build connections while teaching about this important site. He seems very Aloha in all that he does.

Rangers have no way of knowing who walks into their park, what they're feeling, or how much background knowledge each person carries. I'm not trying to proselytize, but I was personally chagrined that I was unable to attend church that day because my in-laws are not of the same religion and do not see the need to go to church while on vacation. I wasn't deeply depressed about it, but because I love church so much, I felt rather empty that morning. During Ranger Hua's program, he spoke of the sacred nature of the site. He spoke of water as a universal symbol of purification throughout many cultures globally. He taught about the people who had to swim for their second chance and how they could be forgiven if they could make it to the refuge. Of course, I related all of this to my Christian faith and was surprised when tears came to my eyes. I don't know how all the other visitors were feeling, but I was forming a deep emotional connection to your park. In short, last Sunday was the Sabbath, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau became my chapel, and Ranger Hua preached a sermon that went straight to my heart. I was worried about not finding God that day, but God found me, there in the amphitheater.

Ranger Hua concluded his program by mentioning gifts. He spoke of some of the items that people feel they need to leave at the park whether it's playing the bagpipes or even just leaving a rock wrapped in ti leaves. I determined I need to think more about what I can give to others.

Later that evening, we were at our hotel enjoying dinner. Our server was clearing some dishes from the table when he accidentally spilled one of the cups of sauce all over my husband's shorts. It splattered on the floor, ran down his leg, and got into his shoe. The server apologized and went to get a wet cloth to help with cleaning up. After assisting us, the server left our table again, and my husband told me he wouldn't be giving a tip because of the mess. And that's when Ranger Hua's words about gifts came into my mind. I asked my husband, "Honey, what if you were financially punished for every simple mistake you made? Yes, he broke kapu, but he didn't do it intentionally. He helped you clean up to the best of his ability and he apologized several times. Give him the full twenty percent." And he did.

Ranger Hua made ALL the difference in my visit to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. He made an impact in the life of a server at our hotel restaurant. I have no doubt he is a positive influence in the lives of park visitors on a regular basis. Please see that he gets a copy of this email. It is my gift to give.

Thanks to all of you who preserve and protect such an amazing place!


Jody Kyburz

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