Hawaii Life Lingo

I’ve been trying to figure out all day what to write for this blog. I went to a botanical garden and state park hoping to have some deep blogging inspiration. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of words, phrases, and other random cultural things I’ve grown accustomed to since moving here. This is only a start, because I most definitely am still figuring things out.

  • Aloha: hello and goodbye, spirits together
  • Aloha ke akua: God is love
  • Aloha shirts: the classic Hawaiian shirt worn by many instead of a dress shirt
  • Cost of living: high, the grapes I purchased today cost $8, gas is down to $2.73
  • Geckos: surprising friends; the gecko who chills outside of my apartment I’ve named Charlie. The other night one clung to my windshield as I drove home. One day in my office one came flying out of my air conditioning vent.
  • Hawaii: pronounced with a v, the former nation, state, or the Big Island
  • H1, H2, H3: the three major interstates, though there are no other states to connect with
  • Kama`aina: local
  • Kemehameha: a great Hawaiian king, name of a major highway
  • Kokua: help; “We need your kokua, put carts in stalls.” “Please kokua, remove laundry promptly from machines”
  • Lanai: a patio or balcony
  • Lei: fresh flowers, shells, or nuts strung together and worn around the neck, found almost anywhere, and given on special occasions
  • Loco moco: a bed of rice, a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy; it tastes better than it might sound
  • Mahalo: thank you
  • Mainland: the contiguous 48 states
  • Military: a way of life in itself on the island, which makes me incredibly thankful for the servicemen, women, and families who sacrifice for our country
  • Mongoose: the Hawaiian equivalent of a squirrel
  • Ohana: family
  • Pina colada: the classic drink and flavor; when I got my teeth cleaned today the toothpaste was pina colada flavored
  • Plumeria: a classic Hawaiian flower often tucked behind the ear
  • Puka: an opening, shelf, or enclave
  • Pupus: appetizers, pronounced poo poo
  • Shaka: a friendly gesture also known the hang-loose sign, a way to show connection, say thank you, or that I would do the same for you, especially used when driving or when leaving
  • Shi-shi: what a child might say if he or she needs to go potty
  • Spam musubi: white rice and cooked Spam wrapped in seaweed, consider it Hawaii’s version of a hot dog
  • Town: downtown Honolulu, “I’m going into town.” “She lives in town.”
  • Traffic: a reason not to move to Hawaii
  • Waimea, Waikiki, Wahiawa, Waianae, Waimanalo: various towns, which sound similar, but are all in completely different places on the island

And I think my list is all pau (done) for now.


And a glimpse into my day.

The Laundry Basket

A few weeks ago now, I walked onto the elevator carrying my overflowing laundry basket holding clothes long overdue to be washed, a couple books, and my laptop. An older gentleman riding with me commented, “You’ve got quite the load. Can I carry it for you?” I politely declined. As I continued the rest of the way to my car, I was struck by the weight of his question–his willingness to carry the load for me.

We all have loads we carry. Loads we hold onto unwilling to let anyone else carry them, because we don’t want to be a burden or admit weakness in being unable to carry the load ourselves. Like I continued to carry my laundry basket, I’m often guilty of trying to carry loads myself. One of the loads I sinfully carry is fear.

When I left for Vietnam and then again for Hawaii, one of my biggest fears was two-fold. First, that someone I loved from home would die. Second, that I would miss the funeral. A little over 2 weeks ago now that first fear became reality.

I booked a plane ticket, jetted across the ocean, and spent last weekend surrounded by family celebrating my uncle’s life. We laughed, and we cried holding onto each other. By the time we reached Sunday evening, we were all exhausted. I wasn’t sure I’d have the energy to make my journey back to this beautiful little island I live on, but through the exhaustion of it all, I was carried.

“Cast your cares…He will sustain you.”

“He cares for you.”

“Come to me…take my yoke upon you…you will find rest.”

He takes our fears. He takes our burdens. There’s no laundry basket too heavy, and He doesn’t stop at the laundry basket either. He carries us too.