On my first day of arrival here in Kona, we were welcomed at the Ohana Court in the center of the University of The Nations plaza by the staff of YWAM. After a light snack of pineapple slices and guava juice (Hawaii rocks by the way - as if you didn't know that already), we were informed of a protocol that is commonplace in Hawaii - The Hua-ni - a Hawaiian greeting.
Knowing full well how uncomfortable foreigners are with strangers, the staff informed us how to 'Hua-ni'.
The method is touching foreheads and noses together in a welcoming gesture (so no headbutts - sorry fellas).
It is a 'sharing of breath' that Hawaiians celebrate because they see it as honoring another's breath as we honor our own - and through this act, we recognize and respect each other as a child of God. God created our breath, and other's as well. It is a supreme sign of respect and equality amongst the nations.
...so you would think that we - having never done such a preposterous thing in our lives - would possibly find a 'Hua-ni' buddy perhaps? A one-shot deal?
We shared our breath with the entire staff - all fifty-eight of them.
...initially it was rather uncomfortable getting your face so close to another - especially one that you don't know, but after the fourth or fifth instance I began to think - 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do'. We were in Kona Hawaii for goodness sake, and celebrating the start of something beautiful.
Once that idea popped into my head, I vigorously 'Hua-ni'd my way down the line, appreciating the wonderful smiles I recieved from the staff as we laid hands on shoulders and touched noses.
There is something to this 'Hua-ni' ceremony - It has a way of breaking down comfort barriers and creating an intimacy that would be a long-time coming in any other light.
I loved it. It was a fitting way to start my adventure in Kona.
(Plus now I can freak my friends out when I get back to the states by giving them a Hawaiian greeting. Bonus.)