Many people know that I spent the bulk of my teaching career in Hawaii. Hawaii is a unique place that has the propensity of sticking with you even once you leave. Since I lived in Honolulu for 15 years, it became part of who I am, and I try to incorporate parts of that culture into my classroom and my interactions with my students.
At the end of the school year, I tell my students the Hawaiian phrase “A hui hou kākou” (said to a group of people), to which they are taught to respond, “A hui hou” (said to a single person). Roughly, the first phrase translates to “Until I see you all again” or “until we meet again.” In Hawaii, we do not just say “goodbye” as if our time together has ended. There is always hope in the goodbye. Hope that we will again cross paths, hope that we will grace each others’ lives again, hope that we will have a shared future.
As Christians, we have our own version of this concept. We’ve gained it through Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil. 1 John 15:11 states, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” I was reminded of the reassurance of this truth by one of my students this last month as I was grieving the unexpected death of my nephew. “Death is not the end,” my student shared, “God told me you needed to hear that.” Indeed, it was a truth I needed to hear at a moment I was feeling distraught, and I am thankful that my student felt compelled to share it. I pray that the truth about the love of our Savior is something I can every day share with my students in the future, and I more strongly pray that my students grow in such confidence of faith that they can pass on the message to others they encounter.
What a blessing that as Christians our “goodbye” is confidently “A hui hou kākou” because we know Jesus as our Savior.