Surfing. Sunbathing. Luaus. Hula dancing.
All these things might be what pop into someone’s mind when they think of Hawaii. But, consider this instead: ho‘ike (ho-ee-kay), a word that means “to show or exhibit.” To learn more about their heritage, the youth of the Honolulu Hawaii West Stake put on a ho’ike to tell the stories of how the Church came to the Polynesian islands.
The ho‘ike depicted a journey through Polynesia that honored their ancestors through song and dance and taught of the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ among the people of Polynesia. Through this performance the youth not only connected with their past, but they also grew closer to each other and the Lord.
“Through this experience, our young people have learned to respect and celebrate other heritages, strengthen relationships with one another, and develop talents many did not know they possessed,” said Harry Murray, the emcee for the event. “This labor of love was both challenging and fun, both educational and spiritual for all involved. The greatest lesson has been the realization that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings us all together despite our varied backgrounds and fosters attributes within us that are universal.”
For some youth this meant learning about their own ancestors, but for many it meant learning about another culture and its history.
“It was really fun to get together with other youth from other wards and learn about a whole new culture. It was great to help some of my friends honor their ancestors,” said Devon Tenney, 15, of the Aiea Ward. “We were also able to look to the past for strength. It was really inspirational.”
Devon was part of the group that represented Aotearoa, or New Zealand. Other islands represented that night were Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, and Fiji.
“We learned the cultures’ songs and also their stories,” said Robert Landgraf, from the Nuuanu Ward. “It’s important that our ancestors were strong in the gospel, so we can follow their example.”
The ho‘ike helped youth learn about other cultures and customs and also strengthened their testimonies.
“The best part of the ho‘ike was that we learned that no matter where the gospel is, whether it is in Aotearoa, Samoa, or Tahiti, the gospel is the same and the Spirit is just as strong,” said Talia Fermantez of the Pearlridge Ward.
Bringing Youth Together
While the performance night was fun, the hours of rehearsal were what really brought these youth together.
“My favorite part was the practices because it really helped the youth get closer. We practiced with other wards, and we are closer now,” said Kalima Watson from the Kalihi Ward. “This experience shows the unification of our youth. We can all come together and do something amazing despite our diversities.”
Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy was in attendance that night and shared his thoughts on the event. “We see today these faithful, young, wholesome, beautiful people demonstrating the Spirit of our Heavenly Father. It is pleasing unto Him today and is a glorious inspiration to us.”
“I admonish all families: search out your heritage. It is important to know, as far as possible, those who came before us. We discover something about ourselves when we learn about our ancestors.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times,” Ensign, May 2005, 21.
Photographs courtesy of Sarah Kinsman