A phrase that my family says often is, "Mahalo e Ke Akua" When translated from Hawaiian to English, this phrase means to give thanks to God. Most people in my family do not speak fluent Hawaiian, but it's important for us to know our roots, and for us to always be connected to our culture. This phrase was also introduced to my family by Church, and from older people in my family that already passed away. Mahalo Ke Akua is something we say almost everyday and it is said during different occasions, or when we pass a certain place. My grandma said that in my family, it's important to say this because, "It's an expression of gratitude. We say this because we're grateful for many different things."
Mahalo Ke Akua is used a lot during family gatherings and parties. Before we eat any food, everyone in my family gathers in a circle and then they hold hands. We hold hands because when we pray, there's more connection with each other and it's something we have all known to do since we were kids. At the end of the prayer, but before we say Amene, the person saying grace also says, "Mahalo Ke Akua" In my family, we believe that without God, there would be no food and we also wouldn't be a family so it is always important for us to show thanks. Another time we say this phrase is when we are in the car and driving on the H-3. The H-3 was built during the 90s, but it took a long time to finish. If you ask my grandma or almost anyone else in my family, they will tell you that it's because the H-3 was built on cultural sites. There was a lot of history and events that happened in old Hawai'i that also took place by that highway. For example, to build this highway, the workers also had to tear down a kapu heiau (sacred temple or site). My grandma also says that some supernatural events occurred during the construction, such as cars being able to float. My grandma always says, "Mahalo Ke Akua' to show respect to the Hawaiians that have passed away near the highway and she eventually taught me to say it from a younger age.
Not everyone in my family says, "Mahalo Ke Akua' Sometimes my grandma and I forget to say it, but each time we do say the phrase, it is from the heart. As a kid, I never thought it was important to say, "Mahalo Ke Akua" everyday. But as I got older, I started to understand that there are blessings all around us. Being grateful for everything I already have and being grateful for everything that I receive plays a big part of who I am today. I learned that something as small as waking up every morning is something that I should be thankful for.