Hiko Lahi in Belgium
(originally posted on 22 July 2015)
Malo e tau mo ena famili. As I am writing this, Hiko Lahi is spending his last night in London while awaiting his flight from there to Fiji on Monday (22 June) via South Korea. But it was great to have had him here even if only for a few days. The highlight of his visit to Belgium was of course the opportunity for him and me to visit the grave of Sr. Malia Koleti Mafi in France, as you can see in the video above. If you wish, you can also catch up on Koleti's funeral by clicking here. For Hiko, this is of course the end of a long and very eventful 6-month renewal here in Europe. But I know you guys would rather see photos instead of reading my bla bla (fa'ahing Matoto ke pa pa pe). So here are some that I have picked out. 'Ofa atu to you all: This is Louvain train station on the day Hiko arrived in Belgium. Louvain is where I studied for 6 years, so did Kara. This catholic school was founded in 1425, well before a certain Christopher Columbus ever made it across the Atlantic.
This is Louvain's town hall, famous for its gothic architecture, and one of the most beautiful in Europe. Unfortunately, the cameraman missed most of the building but watch out for those bicyclists. Everybody has a bicycle in this country!
You may have heard of Fr Damian the Leper, a missionary priest who volunteered to look after people with leprosy on the island of Molokai in Hawaii during the 19th century, and eventually contracted and died from the disease himself. Fr Damian (now Saint Damian) is from Louvain, and Hiko managed to visit and pray at the church where he is now buried.
This is Sr Esperanza of Mary with Hiko Lahi at Sr Malia Koleti's grave. She was the tour guide on our whirlwind visit there.
A close-up of the plaque at Koleti's grave. The French reads: "Here reposes the body of our little sister Malia Koleti nee Mafi, deceased on the 1st of June 2003 at the age of 40, having had 14 years of profession. Rest in Peace, Amen."
Koleti's sisters are called "Little Sisters of the Poor" whose founder was St Jeanne Jugan. This is her burial place.
Hiko in front of the sanctuary where our Koleti would have attended prayers and masses for years while living here.
Koleti's nuns would not let us leave without a cup of tea. Two nuns (Sr Christine and Sr Agnes) picked us up at the nearest train station (Rennes) and then dropped us back there to return to Belgium. These nuns were most generous and kind.
Not only did we bike, none of us fell from his bike! Here's Patele, happy to be home unscathed after 15 km + one Grimbergen
And at the end of the bike ride, a cold beer tastes even better! Being in "the land of beer and chocolate" means having to sample lots of those...this was his favorite from the few beers he managed to try, a beer called Karmeliet. 'Oua!
And then the farewell kava before leaving Belgium, and I'm not kidding. He is toasting you here with our European "cava", which he seems to prefer to that Tongan "kava" and I wonder why...hehe. Toki folau a Patele pea ke hufaki mai ma'u ai pe.