Maile Kinimaka has lived what she called the good life.
Plenty of money, fun and even fame. She worked in the movie industry, was a maid for Mr. Higgins in the popular 1980s detective show, “Magnum P.I.” She drove a Lincoln Continental. She had an agent who landed gigs for the actress. She owned several pieces of real estate.
She’s also worked as a corrections office and a teacher and delivered mail in Waikiki.
“I really enjoyed my life,” Kinimaka said. “I lived life and oh, it was fun.”
Today, the 77-year-old Kapaa woman lives in a modest apartment. There’s a couch. A bed. A small end table. A few pictures and books are displayed.
Several colorful blankets rest next to Kinimaka, who sits behind her sewing machine and shares her hope and love through those blankets.
Life, now, she said, is even better. The best it could be.
“Life is beautiful when you have Jesus,” she said. “Since I’ve been a born-again Christian, I’ve never been poor. I’ve never been broke. When you live Jesus, you never go without.”
Kinimaka moved to Kauai nearly 25 years ago, just four days before Hurricane Iniki struck and devastated the island. She and her family survived.
“Our life was spared. Our house wasn’t even touched. Isn’t that something?” she said. “Isn’t that all God? That’s all God. That’s why I know he’s real. He changed my life. He change my life completely.”
Daily, she reads her Bible, prays and praises. She’s a firm believer in the power of prayer.
“I find that people don’t find enough time to fellowship with God. Christianity is a companionship, it’s a one-on-one with him.”
She’s been bold in sharing her faith — and has made and given away 830 blankets, Jesus blankets, she calls them, anointed in love.
Kinimaka used to travel to Pentecostal churches across the U.S. and has created quilts for many people, some she didn’t know but wanted them to have a blanket.
“All the churches I’ve been to, everyone got a blanket,” she said.
Each blanket costs about $30 in materials. Its value, though, is priceless.
“All from the heart, from this big Hawaiian heart. Money doesn’t mean anything,” a smiling Kinimaka said. “It’s the love you give.”
What do you want people to know about your life?
It’s been a beautiful journey for me. A beautiful journey. I really enjoy my life. I love people. That’s why. I love everybody. The good, the bad, the ugly, I’ve come to love everybody. It’s because it’s the love of God. It’s the love of Jesus.
How did you learn to make blankets?
My mother was a quilt maker. Hawaiian quilt, needlepoint. That wasn’t for me.
I want to see my creation in the same day.
What was the inspiration for the blankets and so many colors?
What gave me the inspiration to do blankets was the colors of the coat of Joseph in the book of Exodus.
That’s why my blankets are so colorful. The father had made Joseph this beautiful coat of many colors, that’s what took me into the inspiration of making Jesus blankets.
My blankets are made of all different colors. They are always going to focus again and again on that rainbow. Just the different colors. They are all over the world. In Croatia, Russian, Philippines, in Africa.
Why give them away?
I have something that I want to give. It’s that aloha that’s inside of me. Hard to find the aloha nowadays. People is money, money, money. Gimme, gimme, gimme. But I only know how to give. Maybe it’s the Hawaiian hospitality in us.
Money isn’t important to you anymore?
What I had to do was let go of all my assets so I could live cheap. You can’t give a Hawaiian too much money, ‘cause you know what? We don’t know how to spend money. We only know how to give it away.
Why not sell what you create?
I wanted to share with the island of Kauai. Life is so beautiful, it’s because of the word love, aloha.
When you have aloha, you just walk in love and forgiveness. Because through my journey through life, there’s been a lot of persecution, a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of arguments.
Would you say your blankets are part of you?
I’ve blessed many people with my blankets. I lay hands on the blanket and I release the anointing. This blanket is made with lots of love. Whenever you make a blanket, you must sleep underneath it so you release your love into the blanket. They feel the love inside my blankets. My blankets is made with love. Kauai needs love.
How long does it take to make a blanket?
About a day to make one blanket. Then I rest. It’s the back, the eyes, the hands.
Did you ever make one for yourself?
I’ve never made myself one.
What does that mean when you say you’re a born-again Christian?
You ask Jesus to come into your heart. He becomes alive in you. The Holy Spirit, there’s God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
I guess when you live the word of God, when you eat, sleep and breathe Jesus, it’s a supernatural thing. The holy Bible is a supernatural thing. Nobody can understand that unless they have the Holy Spirit living inside of them.
Are you fearless about sharing what you believe?
Everybody I meet, the taxi driver, the bus driver, I say to them, “Do you know Jesus?” People say, “Auntie, how do you get this boldness?” I travel all over the world to share Jesus. When you live, eat, sleep Jesus, life is beautiful.
How has your faith affected your life?
I want the world to know how this God’s word change my life. Jesus is the only way. I see the blessings. I believe that God has me here for a season. I talk to him all the time, I talk to Jesus all the time. I just want everybody to know that Jesus is so real. He is so real. I live Jesus. All the days of my life.
What do you see as your purpose in life now?
I believe that every day is another day for us on planet Earth. We’re just peculiar people passing through. This is all temporary, all of this is all temporary. But the word of God is forever. God says he’ll never leave us or forsake us.
Do you have any regrets?
I know who I am today. Before, I used to be so offended. Not anymore.