Labor Day is just another day in Tonga

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Nia Fifita performs a Tongan cultural dance as part of the entertainment, Sunday during the Lihue United Church 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Wesley Elmore, former minister of the Lihue United Church, has his Kauai Marathon shirt on, Sunday during the 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Pastor Alex Tychkin keeps track of the beverage station at the Lihue United Church 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Maverick Gambeng keeps track of four to-go breakfasts at the Lihue United Church 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Jasmine Dela Cruz and Janie Crane serve up sausage and eggs during the Lihue United Church 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kolotita Fonua performs a Tongan dance as part of the entertainment during the Lihue United Church 40th Labor Day Breakfast.

Rev. Wesley Elmore, the former minister of the Lihue United Church, said he is leaving before the storm — currently, Hurricane Norman — hits the Hawaiian Islands.

Elmore, living in California, returned to Kauai to coincide his trip with the 40th Labor Day Breakfast that was served up Monday from 7 to 10 a.m. when more than 300 meals were served to hungry community patrons.

His trip here included participating in The Kauai Marathon, visiting the Kauai Community Market, and other familiar places he got to know while serving as the minister for the church behind the King Auto Center dealership.

“If you had asked me if I was coming back, yesterday, I would’ve said, ‘I’m never running, again,’” Elmore said. “The race was pretty good with clouds most of race, and I finished (4 hours, 48 minutes, 33 seconds). It was tiring, but that was yesterday.”

Elmore was relishing eggs, sausage, assorted fresh fruits, and pastries, many home-made, while enjoying the entertainment lineup that included performances by the Tongan community with his former parishioners.

“Labor Day is not anything special in Tonga,” said Fifita Fifita, helping with some of the entertainment lineup at the annual event. “But here, Labor Day is a big thing so we just dance, too.”

Lihue United Church Pastor Alex Tychkin was born in Russia and served for a number of years in Wisconsin before moving to Kauai seven months ago.

“I’m very blessed to be able to serve here,” Tychkin said, being volunteered to monitor the beverage station. “There is a lot of aloha, here. It’s a different world where you can feel the relaxed lifestyle, and see the people of different cultures getting along, together. It’s different on the mainland.”

Tychkin said proceeds generated by the annual breakfast are shared with the Kauai Economic Opportunity, this year’s nonprofit beneficiary, and the church to help maintain the historic property.

“Don’t forget to mark this on your calendar for next year,” said Cecil Cooper. “It’ll be the same time, again.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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