On New Years Eve 2014, I sat down to reflect on the year. With great anticipation, I was ready for the new year to begin but wanted to take a moment to give thanks and grab hold of the treasures that should not be forgotten. My thoughts took me back to the beginning of this journey ten years ago.
It was the birth of Devan Meakala, our third daughter that marked the beginning of this journey. Last January, I happened to flip to a page in my Bible that was dated 4/2003, the month Meakala was born. Written beside it was “Meakala’s name”. The scripture Isaiah 42:9 was given to us to name her. It reads, “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Devan’s Hawaiian name is Meakalaokeolaanuiloa. She was the announcement or the proclamation of the abundant life to come and she did that by entering the earthly realm at a whopping 11lb, 9oz! We had no idea back then what was about to unfold in our family’s lives. We contentedly lived in our cozy house on Uluʻeo Street, smack dab in the heart of suburbia. “Our” plan was to raise our kids, live a normal, happy-go-lucky life in a happy-go-lucky neighborhood, work the 9-5 and then maybe when all the kids graduated, pursue some of our dreams. Funny how we thought we had it all mapped out. That year, after Meakala’s birth, the plan suddenly changed. There were a series of undeniable events that compelled us to sell our house and begin an adventure into the unknown to follow the collective dream that had been implanted in both our hearts long ago. The dream was to go find land, create a place for the community to gather and help facilitate a place of healing and restoration. I could write a book on the last 10 years! And perhaps I will someday. It would be filled with tales of adventure, sacrifice, risk-taking, miraculous provision, backbreaking labor, sweat, tears, mind-boggling support, hope, trust, faith, and love – all the essential ingredients for following your dreams and seeing them become a reality.
Starting in 2003 until New Year’s Eve 2013, this is what has been realized:
- After 3 years searching, in 2007, we purchased an incredibly beautiful 7.6-acre parcel of land nestled in the heart of Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu and named it Kapunawaiolaokapalai – the Living Springs of Kapalai
- With the help of many hands, it has taken 7 years to clear and build 12 loʻi kalo to restore a once-thriving food basket for the community
- We have created an outdoor learning center or gathering place where people can connect with the land and all its abundant natural resources. It’s a puʻuhonua – a place of refuge and safety for those who have no place to go, a place of sanctuary and peace for those who are weary and need to rest. Also, Kapalai is a kīpuka, – hidden treasure, Oasis or sacred place.
- In 2011 we formed the nonprofit Hoʻokuaʻāina with programs targeting at-risk youth and their families to help strengthen their life effectiveness and place in the community
The land we purchased at Kapalai (the ʻili name of this area) had most of these qualities already but was lying in desolation for nearly 100 years. It just needed someone to come along and let the waters flow once again. Now Kapunawaiola o Kapalai is living, thriving, flowing and producing.
Here’s what’s new in 2014:
- January 2014 marks the beginning of a partnership with Consuelo Foundation who is like-minded in their mission and values to “renew hope for those who have lost it and give hope to those who have never had it.” Consuelo Zobel Alger
- In May, Dean left the DOE after working with at-risk youth as a teacher for 13 years. He is now full-time farmer and executive director for Hoʻokuaʻāina programs, giving us the capacity to impact many more lives.
- We have an incredible team working with us to strategize for the future, build a successful organization, secure funding and manage those funds effectively so that we can be sustainable as an organization and farm.
- October 2014 – With funding from Office of Youth Services, we started our Kūkuluhou program in the loʻi to build life effectiveness in at-risk youth
We are a small family farm and intend to stay that way. Our strength is in deep connections and one-on-one relationships. If we are able to help youth realize their self-worth and identity and give them some important skills to be effective in their future, then we have achieved success. We won’t ever pretend to be experts in farming, counseling or cultural protocol, but we do know a few things about being broken and restored. We believe we have something essential as a family to give youth for the future and that is HOPE.
Who knows what the next 10 years will hold. I can’t wait to see. You’ll have to wait for the 2024 blog to hear the next chapter. Or look for my book…
Mahalo to all of you who continue to journey alongside us. It’s been a great ride!