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Mary Ellen Edmunds

March 12, 2012

Have you ever been to Hawaii?  It’s one place that really looks like the pictures, paintings, and posters. 

Even if you haven’t been there, have you ever known someone who would begin a lesson or talk with the word “Aloha!,” inviting everyone to respond?  Sister Chieko Okazaki used to do this, and it was like a “magnet” that brought everyone together. 

I’ve had a chance to go to Hawaii several times, and I really enjoy the “spirit of Aloha” which is there. 

There is a custom in some of the LDS Wards where, after Sacrament meeting, any who are leaving the islands are invited to come to the front, and the audience sings the tender farewell song, “Aloha Oe,” in Hawaiian. 

This has happened to me a few times, and I haven’t been able to avoid the emotion of it, the tears.  Some of this is because I’ve noticed that many of those who are singing are weeping. 

I asked my friends Audrey and Jerry why this happens, and they said that when they sing they’re thinking of their ancestors, their loved ones. 
I found a translation of the words, written by Queen Lili`uokalani [10 extra points if you can pronounce her beautiful name]. 

One verse shares these thoughts: 

Sweet memories come back to me
Bringing fresh remembrances of the past
Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
From you, true love shall never depart

No wonder this fond farewell often brings tears to those who sing it and to those who hear it.  “One fond embrace until we meet again.” 

Hawaiians believe that words have deep meanings, and “Aloha” is one of the most sacred and powerful.  It’s a word not to be trivialized by using it carelessly or without sincerity.  It is to be used only if we truly feel “Aloha” within our hearts.

Elder John H. Groberg loves this word, stating that it is the spirit of the gospel.  In a message he gave, he pleaded that the people not lose “the soul-saving qualities as commonly encompassed in the word ‘Aloha.’  Don’t let frustration or cynicism or materialism or sin canker your soul and rob you of the life-giving joy of service.” 
(Alf Pratte, “News of the Church,” Ensign, Aug. 1978, 76)

While in English the word “Aloha” is used to say hello and goodbye, in the Hawaiian language it’s more than a word of greeting or farewell.  It encompasses love, affection, sympathy, compassion, mercy, pity, kindness, and grace. 

Maybe we could say that “Aloha never faileth.” 

The “Aloha Spirit” is so important in Hawaii that it’s even part of state law. 

The statute reminds Hawaii’s people that the “Aloha Spirit” is to be shared.

“Aloha” includes hearing what is not said, seeing what cannot be seen, and knowing that which cannot be known.

Imagine living by such beautiful thoughts, such beautiful words.  Doesn’t it remind you of a Christ-like way of living and being?  That’s what it has done and continues to do for me.    

“Aloha” is something that must be experienced in order to be understood. 

How about giving it a try? 

Even with my still limited experience and understanding, I really mean it when I send to each of you a warm “ALOHA!” 

I think I can hear you responding; MAHALO!  (Thank you!)  We’ll talk about that word another time.