A family is much like a tree.
While the branches grow apart, the roots remain the same and it becomes stronger.
That is what the Gatoloai family believes as they are reuniting in Samoa for the first time this year after years of branching out around the world.
The family reunion, held at Aai O Niue, is guided by the theme “Family are Forever” with an aim to strengthen current and create new bonds with one another.
The children of the late Aiolupotea Liamanaia Gatoloai and Faoa Falasii-Pasi Gatoloai are gathering for a week full of activities and fun.
According to the family spokesperson, Priscilla Lavea Gatoloai, an important part of any family is to remember their roots and where they came from. She says this is their first family reunion.
“The main purpose for our family reunion is to bring families together,” she said. “We all left at a certain age and we all grew outwards, but this family reunion brings everyone back to their roots.
“So yeah, that’s the purpose of this family reunion, to know where we come from and to appreciate who came before us and the sacrifices they had made to bring us here.
“This is the first Liamanaia and Faoa Gatoloai family reunion for their immediate children and their families. It’s the beginning of many great things to come and we are very excited about that.”
Priscilla also expressed how this family reunion worked well to strengthen family and church values they shared.
“The theme for our reunion is that ‘family are forever’ as it is written on our t-shirts,” she said. “As members of the Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, we believe that families can be together forever. This is a way for us to remind ourselves not only about our gospel values that will enable us, but also our family values that work well with each other to support that vision that families are forever.”
According to Priscilla, the family put together various activities all focused around family health, unity and togetherness.
Learning family history was also an important part of the reunion.
“This is actually the closing day of our family reunion. We started last Friday. We had activities involving family history which we feel is very important, knowing where we come from and knowing how far we’ve come from our grandparents.
“We also had a lot of family bonding activities such as exercising and promoting health, unity and togetherness. I feel the greatest activity that has been happening is seeing the children who were separated at such a young age and moved over to other countries coming together and just connecting like no other.
“Also seeing the younger generation connect on another level the way their parents are as siblings. Other than that, there has been a lot going on in the name of bonding.”
Asked about the highlights of the family reunion, Priscilla explained that feeling the presence of their grandparents as they paid homage to them was significant to each of the family members.
“I feel one highlight would be this morning,” she said.
“Being able to pay homage to our grandparents and to feel their presence as we stood over their graves and shared testimonies of the values they have instilled and passed onto us and hopefully we will be able to pass onto our children.
“That has been the most beautiful part of this reunion, feeling their presence. Although they may not be with us physically but we can see a little bit of them in everyone here.
“We look forward to future family reunions because as I mentioned, this is the first one.”