ANAHOLA — Members and friends of Koolauhuiia Church in Anahola are walking 8,611 miles to Bethlehem, Israel — symbolically.
They are joining hundreds of other churches across the world participating in a unique health walk which summarizes the number of miles individuals and families walk or exercise each week.
“From Anahola to Bethlehem” is the weekly journey the group will walk as they go toward Christmas Eve.
“Walking and exercising doesn’t cost anything,” says Kahu Rennie Mau, the church’s new pastor. “It’s a fun way for families and friends to get healthy.”
Twenty minutes of physical exercise also equals walking one mile. That exercise could be hula, dancing, golfing, playing tennis, surfing or swimming, for example.
“And five servings of fruit or vegetables a day is also considered to be one mile,” Mau said.
The goal is to make exercise a regular habit and to enrich each walker’s spiritual journey during the holidays, Mau explained.
“You can do this individually, with your family, and with your friends,” she said. “You don’t even have to be located here on Kauai. We have friends sending us their miles from the Mainland.”
“Some churches even got to Bethlehem ahead of time, and are now touring other countries nearby,” Mau said.
The Walk to Bethlehem walking program originated from the St. John Health parish nursing ministry at Lake Shore Presbyterian Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.
You do not have to be a member of Koolauhuiia Protestant Church or need to live locally in order to participate. Families are invited to participate; family devotions can be downloaded from the church website.
Some participants use pedometers while others use free pedometer apps on their smart phone.
Participants can walk on their own, or join church members and families as they walk on designated days and pathways in Anahola.
“Our hope is to have some of the walking paths permanently designated on Kauai,” said Mau.
“Our family really enjoys the exercise,” Kalei Medeiros said. “We love doing things together and this we can do no matter what age.”
Each week, the church’s family and friends present their mileage for tallying. Some email in their miles to the church.
Every other Friday morning, Mau also hosts a devotion and a mini-cooking class called, “Kupuna Dim Sum,” in which kupuna prepare healthy island style dumplings and noodles. The focus has been on the “Hele Mai Ai” fat education module based on balanced meals in the island’s different ethnic food communities.
“Healthy people make healthy communities,” Mau said.
Koolauhuiia Protestant Church is located in Anahola behind the Kamehameha Preschool on Kealia Road. It was established in 1865 with a history of some of the first cowboys on Kauai. The church will be celebrating its 150 years throughout 2015.
For more information on the “Walk to Bethlehem” project and Koolauhuiia Church visit www.koolauhuiia.org or call Mau at (808) 280-9591.