Monday, January 5, 2009


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. 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?

Oh no.

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.)


1 comment:

  1. wow yeah I can totally imagine being a little weirded out by that...sounds like you are having a blast though! I'm still a tad tad tad bit...oh who am I kidding I'm soooo jealous that you are in Hawaii!!