Aloha!

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Aloha!  The Polynesian culture is alive and well in the Woodbridge Stake.  Saturday evening, April 30th, the Quantico Ward hosted a Luau complete with a roasted pig, Polynesian entertainment and a Samoan fire knife dance.  This incredible Luau was thanks to members with Polynesian background from not only the Quantico Ward, but also the Woodbridge 1st ward and the Young Single Adult Branch.

Tahiti Dance

Quantico Ward families with Polynesian background include the Travis family, the Brash family, and the Anakalea family. The Travis family was integral in the planning of the Luau, putting together decorations and cooking food.  Brother Maui Travis is from Kaneohe, Hawai’i and his wife Patricia was born in Kahuku, raised in Hau’ula, Hawai’i, and is Filipina (Visayan-Ilocano).

Luau decorations

The Brash family also helped, providing food and decorations and their daughter Sulieti performed the Tongan tau’olunga as part of the entertainment.  Sister Tita Brash is from the island of Tonga, the only remaining monarchy in the South Pacific.  She explained that Tonga became known as the friendly islands because of the warm greetings received by Captain James Cook back in 1773.

She said, “We are a very proud people. Not in the material riches of the world but in our heritage and culture. And I believe Sulieti lived up to that as she has been sick the last few days and still wanted to perform and share a part of her Tongan culture with her ward family. And it was her very first performance ever.”

Sulieti

Crowning the Luau feast was a whole roasted pig, along with authentic Polynesian dishes such as Chicken Long Rice, Huli Huli Chicken, Hawaiian Mac Salad, Banana Bread, & Ambrosia Salad, which were provided by Quantico Ward Relief Society members thanks to recipes from the Brash, Travis, and Anakalea families.  Each of these families also cooked and shared food from their islands; the Brashes made Haupia, the Anakaleas made Pork Pimientos and Chantilly Cake, the Travis family made rice and the Brash & Faumuina families made Lupulu.

The highlight of the evening was the entertainment provided by the Polynesian Fusion Entertainment.  Sister Lagi Faumuina of the Woodbridge 1st Ward, the director of the group, began the entertainment with a hula hoop contest for various groups: Primary girls, primary boys, Young Women, Young Men, Relief Society Sisters, Elders Quorum, and the Quantico Ward Bishopric along with Stake Presidency members President Clark Price and President David Oryang who arrived just in time for his part in the contest.    A primary girl, Lauren Basham, beat them all with the longest hula hooping of all the groups.  The most entertaining group was the Bishopric and Stake Presidency members.

Hula Hoop Contest

Faumuina as director of Polynesian Fusion Entertainment introduced and participated in a myriad of dances native to the islands of Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and Fiji.  She said that she formed the group in 2015 with her friend Siela Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Samoan, from Manu’a in Am Samoa.  Their goal is to, “try and keep our culture alive and blend other cultures to come together as one. Being that we are a long ways from home, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to teach our children where they come from and who they are.”

Polynesian Fusion Entertainment

Faumuina was born and raised in Hawaii and grew up on the North Shore and experienced the life at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She said, “I’m from Oahu and pretty much spent most of my life around BYU-Hawaii because my grandfather and mother attended school there.  Today, I still have family members that are employed with PCC.  I come from a long line of dancers and entertainers so it’s really in my blood.”

Samoan Dance

Several of the dances were performed by Faumuina’s daughter and Ulugalu-Shirley’s daughters.  Pictured below are the girls at the Luau from left to right: Myrah Ulugalu-Shirley (12), Leilani Faumuina-Carr (11), Natalia Ulugalu-Shirley (10), and Serenity Ulugalu-Shirley (8).  Wearing native costumes to represent each dance, they performed dances from Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji.

 

PFE girls in Hawaiian dress

The men of the group astounded the audience with their warrior dances: a solo dance by Faumuina’s son, Darrell Posten, and a group warrior dance with Darrell; Dwight Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Siela’s husband, the father of the 3 girls and from Jamaica; and Phetta Konelio, who attends the Young Single Adults branch in the Quantico Ward.

Warrior Dance 2

Phetta’s full name is Fetalaigalelei Pupu Konelio and he was born in Tahiti.  He said that he is “of Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Bulgarian heritage.” Faumuina explained her connection with him.  “I sent for him to come to Hawaii to have a better opportunity at life. Life adventures had us ending up in the East Coast.” He is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary in Arizona, speaking fluent Spanish.

Sulieti Brash is new to the group and she is 8. Missing from the group on the night of the Luau were Faumuina’s 2 sons Joseph Poston (16) and Cory L. Faumuina-Carr (12) and her business partner Siela Ulugalu-Shirley.

The Polynesian Fusion Entertainment group has performed at birthdays, corporate events, and luau parties.  They even performed at Montclair Day last year with another group. They are looking forward to being a part of the Around the World Cultural Food Festival at the Washington D.C. Mall in June and they have a performance this month at the Fiesta Asia.

Phetta blowing the conch shell

Konelio opened the entertainment with the traditional blowing of the conch shell and concluded the evening outside the building with an amazing Samoan fire knife dance called “Siva afi”, tossing, twirling and dancing with fiery flames. The Quantico Ward members extend a huge thank you to all those who put together the Luau and provided the entertainment. Dance

Elder Andrew Bringhurst

Elder Bringhurst mission

Our missionary son, Elder Andrew Bringhurst, is serving as a Zone Leader in the California San Jose Mission.  He’s been a Zone Leader since November and his 2 yr Mission ends in December 2016.

We would like to share some of his latest letters:

Things are here are doing so great! Transfers were this week and we have some awesome new missionaries in our zone now. We’re super excited to get to be working with them. My old companion Elder Hearne is my ZL companion! How sweet is that!! It was cut short in Fremont but now we’re back at it!! Elder Nash is still my companion and I’m so grateful I get to learn from  these two! I hope all is well back in the VA. I’ve never loved my job more than I have doing this and seeing people’s lives change for the better and getting to be a part of it has been one of the greatest blessings.
This past week we did a lot! We biked a solid 67 miles with only 2 flat tires and 1 nice crash by yours truly. Things went great. We are working with a Polynesian family and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my life. It is awesome. One of the less active members is exactly like the guy from The Other Side of Heaven. It is so much fun to be around him. 
This week we helped a women who broke her back. We did her front lawn and got rid of a ton of weeds. While working a kid named Carlos who is only ten came up to us asking why and what we were doing. We told what and who we are and why and he said that we were pretty cool for doing it. He gave us some chocolate and invited us to teach him. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he immediately asked us for another copy for his family. Everytime we go back he’s reading it and we’ve begun teaching his family. He’s such a great kid. I’m so grateful to be a missionary in this mission. I hope things are going great for all y’all. You are always in my prayers and I’m so grateful for your support!
Love,
Elder Bringhurst  
Elder Bringhurst mountainElder Bringhurst Temple
What a great few weeks it has been. My companion and I are doing
great! We’re super excited for the things that lay ahead. The work
here is amazing and our zone is awesome. I don’t have much to say this
week but the biggest thank you to my mom. What a great example to me
she has been. My life would not be the same with out her. Thanks to all
the other moms out there!!!!! I hope y’all had a great week!Love,
Elder Bringhurst.
From the Bringhurst Family
Bringhurst family