Want To Be A US Citizen

Ha'apai Tonga - near where my husband was raised.
Ha'apai Tonga - near where my husband was raised.

My husband has an international face. Often times as we have traveled, he has been mistaken for a Native American, Mexican, Fijian Indian, and even Hawaiian. Actually he is part Scottish, Tongan, Maori and English.

At times, his multinational face has been a curiosity for many. People will come up and talk to him in different languages: Hola, Namaste, Kia ora, salaam aleikum, and Aloha. Actually his first language is Tongan.

‘Isi was raised in a tiny village of Pangai on the miniscule island of Lifuka belonging to the island group of Ha'apai in Tonga. The whole island has about 3,000 inhabitants. The beaches there are so beautiful and peaceful.

Isi's parents were stalwarts in the LDS church. When ‘Isi was about 11 years old, they sold all of their possessions including their home and all their animals to take their family to the LDS temple in New Zealand to be sealed for eternity.

Although ‘Isi grew up humbly, he has Tongan royal blood flowing through his veins. He is a cousin to the King of Tonga.

His paternal grandfather was a true Tongan navigator of the sea. His maternal grandfather was Herbert James Brown, who was an Englishman raised in New Zealand. He is also part Maori from the Ngatiawa tribe.

My husband attended the Church College of Hawaii and ended up graduating with both of his degrees from BYU Provo, which is where we met. We have had some great adventures together.

My husband's parents (family photos)
My husband's parents (family photos)

‘Isi has always provided for our four children and myself a haven of peace and security. We have been blessed to live at two LDS Church schools campuses for most of our marriage. All of our children are alumni of BYU Hawaii University. My husband has an insatiable yearning for knowledge. He has always tried to improve his English, but says he thinks and dreams in Tongan.

Also, he has given much service in our church and community and loves people and they love him. We were surrounded by hundreds of stalwart missionaries as he served as a mission president in Tonga for three years, which has been a great influence on our children.

I know my husband truly loves his native land of Tonga. We lived there for 13 years after we were married, and would still be there if I had not contracted hepatitis B and become very sick. It was determined that we move closer to good medical facilities. We moved to Hawaii twenty plus years ago. My husband went for several years without becoming a citizen of the United States. He said he didn’t want people to think he married me for a green card!

A markerlifuka, ha'apai, tonga -
Lifuka, Tonga
[get directions]

'Isi with the BYUH Student Leaders (personal photo)
'Isi with the BYUH Student Leaders (personal photo)

His first job at BYU Hawaii was as Foreign Student Adviser. He was fortunate to help students from Mongolia, Fiji, Samoa, China, Philippines, and many others. I kept suggesting that my husband become a US citizen to enjoy the many benefits that come with it. He always said that “not every one wants to be a citizen!” I love American and the freedoms we enjoy. It is not perfect and has many challenges, but to me it is still my home and I will always love America.

Finally, after much prompting, he studied for the citizenship test. He actually became quite interested in it and learned a great deal more than I remembered from my history classes. Finally the day came when he was to take his examination. He aced the test and was so excited to tell me about it. He is still very proud of his Tongan heritage, but has grown to love America nearly as much as I do.

Cool Isi with Waikiki in the background (personal photo)
Cool Isi with Waikiki in the background (personal photo)

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Comments 4 comments

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most people want to live the American dream but never forget your roots the important part of life


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

America offers many opportunities to almost everyone, if not everyone, but I can respect anyone who does not want to be a citizen. Now they are going to take away the right to even say the word citizen, so America is no longer anyone's dream I wouldn't think.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Our heritage has strong ties throughout our life but sometimes when we live in another country the people and ways of that country become a vital part of our lives. I am sure this was not an easy decision and I congratulate Isi for acing the test. As you know, most American's probably couldn't!

Voted up and interesting.


LianaK profile image

LianaK 3 years ago

Great hub! I remember how proud he was to become an American Citizen. He is definitely more informed about the government than I am. Love you Dad.

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