There are hundreds of reasons I love living on Maui. Each day we have beautiful sunrises and sunsets; if I miss them, I just take a look at Instagram or Facebook to see what I missed. Each day I see that beautiful blue water – the healing source for the soul. I find that there are more inspiring Maui moments than anywhere else I’ve lived. Occasionally, there is an event that touches deep down in the core of my existence.
Last Saturday, I was blessed to attend the 1st birthday party for Henry Koa, the 1st son of Joseph Imhoff and Sara Tekula. Henry has got to be one of the most social and photographed kids on Maui! It is fairly common in Hawaii to have a big celebration for a first birthday with fun kid things like blow up animals, jumpy castles and clowns. Held at the Protea Gardens of Maui in Kula, this event was WAY beyond your classic kiddy party.
From an event perspective, there was a blow up cat, the imu pit, lots of ono grinds, the face painter, the fairy, the balloon clown, the yoga circle, a rock band followed a great DJ! The event was topped off with air-guitars for everyone rocking to “You Say It’s Your Birthday” as the sun disappeared. The variety of the hundred or so people attending was amazing – all ages from every background you can imagine.
That all makes for a fun event, but that isn’t my story. This is the story of building a future – a future for little Henry Koa and all the young people of our world. Joe and Sara are the founders of the Plant-A-Wish Foundation. They have traveled to all 50 states planting native trees. Joe has been on a quest to plant a native tree every day since January 1, 2013. He planted one in my backyard a few months ago. They planted a tree when Joe and Sara were married at the Protea Garden and it continues to thrive. So do think it would be appropriate to plant a tree for Henry Koa’s first birthday?
Not just one tree. We planted over 180 native trees and shrubs on the hillside. From the bottom was what appeared to be an amphitheater but I suspect it was terraced for planting by Native Hawaiians hundreds of years ago. The rest of the hillside was very steep with a few trails but mostly just steep, weed covered areas. Someone said there had been a fire a few years ago.
I was one of the 30-35 people who were sprinkled across the hillside planting trees. Those of us who were planting, weeding and occasionally sliding down the hillside all share a special bond. Hopefully in 10, 20 and more years, we can return to see this special place covered in beautiful canopy of native trees. We look forward to returning for Henry’s future birthdays to see that we made a difference. Planting a tree — a living monument that will grow and may live for hundreds of years is humbling. What a wonderful way to celebrate!
Joe and Sara asked all guests to write a wish for Henry. As I planted each tree, I thought about this and gave each one a special wish. I never quite got around to writing anything down before it was too dark so here’s my Wish for Henry Koa.
Henry for you and all the children of the world, I wish for an Earth that can continue to provide sustenance and beauty for both people, animals and plant species. I wish that that science and nature can work together to find solutions for the very serious issues we face. I wish that you are healthy, well fed, have adequate housing and a peaceful social culture. I know it will be a very different world than when you were born. I wish that you can walk on beaches, swim in our ocean waters and see beautiful coral reefs that are being rebuilt instead of dying. I wish that there are forests to walk through and rivers to cross. I wish that the nations of the world have come to cherish these natural treasures and preserve them for people to enjoy. I wish that global warming is turning around; that each year we are seeing fewer huge storms and drastic climate variations. I wish that you are educated and can choose a career path that inspires and fills your soul.
I wish that everyone, takes small steps everyday to create this future for Henry Koa.
If you have a wish for Henry and/or the 1 year old’s in your life, please share them below. Also, share those small steps that you are taking to make the world better for our future generations.
Photos are all from my best friend, husband and fabulous photographer Peter Liu. Here is the entire event set.
Visit the Plant A Wish facebook page and follow them and make a small donation. Or go plant a native tree.