(HONOLULU)--The weeklong Aso o Tupulaga "Loto Tasi" Youth Festival opened with leaders representing seven Samoan Assembly of God churches, two AOG youth groups and a singing husband and wife duo from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sunday, Aug. 30 at Ke'ehi Lagoon Beach Park.
The festival is geared toward nurturing the innate talent of Samoan youth in dance, sports and competition.
"The Tupulaga event is created to highlight the young generation of Samoa ages seven to 18 in pursuing and developing their God-given talent," the committee announced in a statement.
Senior Pastor Muao Ava, leader of the Samoan District Assemblies of God Hawai'i Section which includes 12 congregations, offered the sermon in which he urged youth to "choose your friends wisely."
"You choose your friends wisely," Ava said. "Don't let your friends choose you."
AOG Pastor Sam Fidow opened the service with a word of prayer, asking that Ke'ehi be blessed and protected from rain and hurricanes this week, for the sake of the youth. He also asked for blessings upon the Samoan children in Hawai'i and upon the children and islands of Samoa.
Participating AOG leaders included Senior Pastor Zachary Muasau, leader of the Holy Warriors at Work AOG Church in Waipahu and Pastor Via Muasau who carries the title of C.E.O. for the Holy Warriors. It was explained that C.E.O. stand for "Christ's Executive Officer."
Also in attendance from the AOG church were Pastor Mauga Olive, Pastor Tele'a Ua and Pastor Sam Fidow.
Following spiritual performances from the AOG youth, huband and wife duo Tupua and Jacosa Ainu'u, members of the LDS Church La'ie 8th Ward, joined in the opening, offering three hymns. Tupua sings professionally at the Polynesian Cultural Center and Jacosa is a music instructor at Kahuku High School.
The selected theme for Aso o Tupulaga is drawn from a text of the LDS Church titled the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 25:12): "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart, yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads."
FOOD BOOTHS OPEN THROUGH SATURDAY, SEPT. 5
Food booths opened Sunday evening, early customers reporting the following items available at the Aso o Tupulaga concession stands: kale mamoe, panikeke (also panikeke with fa'i), koko alaisa, poifala, plate lunches and vaifala. Tea Girls, an up and coming Samoan family-owned beverage company known for its smash-hit signature vaifala has also set up shop at Aso o Tupulaga.
WEEK OF SPORTS: CRICKET, RUGBY AND VOLLEYBALL
Games (cricket, rugby and volleyball) start Monday morning, Aug. 31 Participating sports teams are: Sasa Dat and Aiga Team in Women's Cricket. In Men's Cricket there are: Hamo Sports; Keehi Boys; Ainiu Sami; Kalakaua and Tama Samoa Moni. Competing rugby teams are: Schofield Uso, Hawai'i Union; Rugby Nation; Tama Suluie; Kalihi Raiders; Marist Hawai'i; Titans; Harlequinns and Unity. Listed volleyball teams are: Mixed Breed; Dis & Dat; Five O; Lift It Up; Sasa Dat; In Da House; Fa'amalosi and Fai Lelei.
The sports teams are named in a preliminary sports schedules provided to Faletuiga Aug. 30. The separate entertainment schedule was also provided Aug. 30. Both schedules are subject to change.
ASO O TUPULAGA ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE
Evening performances (faafiafiaga) are set to begin 5:30 p.m. each night.
MONDAY: Taupou Studio Band, Fa'aevagelia, Youth Competition (singing, comedy, hip-hop), A'oga Samoa and Popo Boyz.
TUESDAY: Band -- Fa'afitauli Seiuli, Faaevagelia, Youth Competition (singing, comedy, hip-hop), Lumana'i Mo a Taeao, Ieva's Group, Tu'i Tau Group and Mitamitaga o Samoa.
WEDNESDAY: Band -- Taumesina, Faaevagelia, Youth Competition (all ages Miss Tupulaga), Popo Boyz, Tonga Sisters, Measina a Samoa.
THURSDAY: Band -- Kalena's, Faaevagelia, Youth Competition (all fireknife), A'oga Samoa, Ieva's Group and Kalena's Productions.
FRIDAY: Band -- Fa'afitauli Seiuli, Faaevagelia, VaimaTina Productions, Miss Tupulaga Winner(s) perform Taualuga, Pastor Joe Hunkin Lighthouse Assembly of God Special, Special Group -- Nesian N.I.N.E.
On Saturday, the flags of the United States of America, the Independent State of Samoa, Hawai'i and Amerika Samoa will be raised. The flag rasing ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m.
The committee previously announced that Aso o Tupulaga would open with a church service led by Rev. Tafale Fuiava, leader of the Ierusalema Fou Congregational Christian Church of Amerika Samoa in Kalihi.
Rev. Fuiava's involvement in the opening church service was canceled the week prior, committee chair Pulefano Galea'i said.