Cheers to Being Out on the Town!

You guessed it: this is a double post. The celebratory spirit of Friday with the exploratory nature of Saturdays all in one. And it will be long, but worth the read. If you want, skip the words and just look at the pictures.



Generally speaking, when you say that something is scheduled on “Hawaiian time,” it implies that the happening is flexible, and very likely the event will not start for at least thirty minutes after the planned time. I am particularly fond of this tradition, as I run on “Emma time,” meaning that I am about ten minutes late to life. This Fourth of July, we decided to take this Hawaiian time strategy very seriously. We stretched out one of the only holidays that wasn’t arbitrarily assigned a particular date into a three-day extravaganza.

The Fourth of July started out like any other work day, if your work day involves learning how to fly a drone and taking glamour shots while exploring abandoned buildings.


The Fourth took an unusual twist when the crew of the Hokule’a threw a backyard barbecue at our house.


Backstory: the Hokule’a is a wa’a, an ancient Polynesian sailing vessel, that was launched in 1976 during the Hawaiian culture renaissance to travel about Pacific islands. The Hokule’a is set to sail around the world, over the course of the next four years, and is making a tour of each of the islands of its home state before it leaves. There is a vessel called the Hikianalia that will accompany the Hokule’a on its voyage. More on the Hikianalia later; now back to the barbecue.

The barbecue, scheduled for 5:30, began promptly at 7:45 pm. Before dining, guests joined hands in a circle to introduce themselves and say the blessing.


I had no idea, even at the beginning of this summer, that I would be standing in that circle – or that I would have such respect for the tradition of Hawaiian voyages.

And standing in that circle, I had no idea that twenty minutes later I would get a terrible headache and stomach ache and be forced to sit out the party. Still, the little bit of it that I did get to experience was filled with “talking story”, eating dessert before dinner, and hiding from traditional Hawaiian mouth-numbing drinks being passed around. The usual.


The Fifth of July was a clash of cultures. Technically, Hawaii is in America, right? Well, most of the time, that’s a tough fact to remember here. Driving up dirt roads, swimming with dolphins, and learning words in a foreign language remind me of Kenya. It reminds me of Mexico. It feels like being in a totally different country. On top of feeling out-of-place, I felt very much out-of-time when we sailed on the Hikianalia on Friday morning.

First, we paddled in a canoe (way more intense than it sounds) to the wa’a. Once aboard, we sailed out of the bay for a two-hour ride and culture-rich experience. We were educated by loin-cloth wearing natives (gotta be real for a second – that has to chafe) about the wa’a's upcoming journey with the Hokule’a and the ancient tradition from which such traditions stem.


In the moment I was chosen to tie a sail rope onto a cleat, I realized that a wa’a is basically a Hawaiian houseboat, with rules, atmosphere, and purpose very similar to the houseboat on which I’d lived and work for all of last summer with Sonshine Ministries. While I’ve been majorly missing out on the time with the campers, the sunset on the water, and Wednesday night programs this summer, I laughed to myself how funny Jesus is that he would bring me miles from last summer emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and have me put the pieces together on a houseboat. On a related note, I would sincerely like to thank Sonshine for not requiring me to wear traditional Hawaiian sailing garb. (Bonus points if you can find the butt in the first wa’a picture; Sunee did a pretty good job of hiding it in the shot).


The Fifth later transformed into our day for more identifiably American traditions. We blasted country music, threw shrimp and beef patties on the grill, and wore our patriotic best.


Sunee and I discussed our mutual distain for many of the ways that our countries falls short of embracing true “freedom,” but both conceded that we are truly grateful to live in this land that inspires many entrepreneurs around the globe, strives to promote individual government participation, and attempt (though often fails) to invite other nations into the freedom that we consider our right. I am thankful to live somewhere that allows me to worship Jesus any way I choose, to walk around after night fall (only when it’s safe, Mom), and put in my one tiny vote for who I think should run the place.

To celebrate our rekindled appreciation for the ‘murican way, we had quite the cook out. On the menu: 

Sweet Potato Fries

Beef Sliders and Shrimp Sliders (with all the fixings) on Pineapple Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Baby Apple and Pineapple Pies


Right now, you are jealous. It is understandable. So enjoy the pictures and feel free to copy our style. We get it. To properly copy, make sure you get some old red and blue wooden shingles from those abandoned buildings you explored earlier.


The Sixth of July marks the pinacle of the Lana`i Pineapple Festival in town.

Sun and I decided to head into town a little bit before the parade and festivities began for a stop at the Cat’s Meow. The Cat’s Meow is Lana`i’s one and only thrift shop. We had kind of anticipated that the outing was either going to be a major success or a super fail. I am SO happy to say it was the former.


I snagged an orange striped tank top, a Chinese dragon crop top, a navy blue long-sleeve tunic, and some fabulously hideous 80s patterned pants. My favorite find, though, was an emerald maxi skirt that completed my “I’d really like to own it” check list.


Sunee found a black and white patterned button down that looks like it came from next month’s Urban Outfitters catalogue. She also found a really cute navy and cream striped top that will match pretty much everything ever.

When we had finished our search, we hesitated to bring our loot to the counter, terrified that the total would be outrageous. The prices for each item were not listed on a poster in the store or on any tags on the individual pieces. Uh-oh. It’s not uncommon for me to find four or five steals at a thrift store and pay $20 total. I’d maybe max out around $7.50 for a shirt I really liked or a nice pair of pants. But we’d found a lot of stuff. And the problem was that I liked it all.


Total number of items combined: 7 (5 tops, two bottoms)

Total cost: $3.75. This is not a joke. 

We were speechless. Still are. The tomatoes we bought at the farmers market this morning cost only 75 cents less than all of our new clothes! WHAT. Did I mention that proceeds go to support the local animal shelter? This can’t get any better.

We made our way from the Cat’s Meow to Dole Park where it was literally raining on the parade. Still, it was beyond charming. Each semi-recently graduating class from the island’s one high school marched behind a banner of their design, shouting what they could remember of their school’s cheers as they walked the rim of Dole Park in the center of Lana`i City.


Considering I missed my own small (but not this small) hometown parade this Fourth of July, I was excited to embrace the tradition. It is a particularly special occasion as this year is Lana`i High School’s 75th year of existence.


Later this evening, renowned Hawaiian performers will strum their ukeleles as festival-goers walk the many booths to indulge in pineapple delicacies and participate in traditional activities. At 9pm, the show ends with a bang: the usually-4th-of-July fireworks make it to Lana`i perfectly in sync with Hawaiian time. More details on the Pineapple Festival another day, but for now, get a load of those fireworks!