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Hurricane Wolf

Hurricanes play the rooftop with thunder and droplets. The flooded roads dance to rain rhythm, swaying rocks to current hits. Echoing gray skies accompany the skips of children excited for the end of school. As my time of volunteering closes, I reminisce on its magnificence. Beautifully sculpted by caring students, insightful friends, and a generous family. When God says that He will prepare a place for you, He may literally build a house, furnish it…then give you a second home to eat in. PRAISE.

However, moving to American Samoa has challenged my sense of peace. Spiritually, socially, culturally…all the –lyʻs that one can think of. Like typhoons that test the roots of a tree, foundational values have been met with wind. I decided early on that this season would be dedicated to building character; much time would be devoted towards determining the difference between perspective straw, stick, and brick. Developing character is basic, so matters of patience, love, and self-control are priority. I hope to build perspectives that make any natural disaster feel like spiritual sprinkle.

Roots of toppled tree

(Photo of exposed roots of a toppled tree.)

The types of storms that bother me most are abuse cases in the community that have excessive evidence and no effective legal action. Constantly there are stories of in-house abuse cases: children touched by trusted adults, mishandling of federal funds, rising ice addiction. This communicates that it is okay to be disgustingly disrespectful. Then communal passivity shows that we have become accustomed to allowing lies. Sadly, much of the corruption that occurs on island is kept afloat by local choices. Original values of servitude and loyalty, having been influenced by western ideals of progression, are now great mudslides slowing actual progress. Pushing dirt and sludge downward into the houses of those with little authority. We keep this going.

Yet letʻs acknowledge the continuation of history: many grievances in American Samoa are traces of colonized floor plans. Much of our crumbling comes from misunderstood missionary work. Undoubtedly, parts of our post-palagi story are generationally devastating. And with the growing commercialization of Polynesian culture new problems will of a higher magnitude. I often grow silently angry with historical plot twisters that have demolished intricate grass fale.

It would be easy to give power to the wind, to dilapidate in anger. It would be easy to list examples of social injustices to justify rights to use machete. But blaming outsiders does not suffice and cultural purity is not the answer to our problems. Especially since the answer to my saved soul is a Jewish Manʻs sacrifice, where me, an outsider, has been welcomed into the very family of GOD. Sigh. PRAISE. Sigh.


Our problems are much deeper than ethnic division or ethical laws, and the answers we live are in the foundation we build.


Our problems are rooted in human and divine struggles. The solution is rooted in Jesus.


This is why I am focused on building my own foundation first. Before any more developers attempt to have their way, let me build my plan right. Let me fortify layers of righteousness. Let me take responsibility for my actions. Let me learn how to love for real. Let me be. These bricks are solidly based on characteristics of God Himself. In turn, I recognize in building myself, I am building your community. Just like if my neighbor builds himself right, he is building my community. I hope you build yourself right, wherever you are from.

I heard there is to be another hurricane tomorrow. To that I say: let it come, because the way this house is built… even a wolf would grow tired of huffing hurricanes.

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