INTRODUCTION: Jimmy Mapu is one of our newest bloggers, but he has been with the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)  for many years. Currently, he serves as the Director of Guest Services – which consists of students from around the globe who guide our guests through the PCC. Many have written to us about how these students have inspired and touched them. Many describe the experience as magical. Once you get to know Jimmy, you’ll know where that magic comes from.

 

Jimmy and his kids at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Jimmy Mapu and his ‘kids’ from Guest Services

What was lost was found at The Polynesian Cultural Center

(April, 2017)  The other day I headed into the Guest Services Department to find a lost item. Before I closed & locked the safe, I noticed a wallet that was tagged as a Lost & Found item that had been turned in the night before. I took a closer look and there were credit cards, a few dollars, and quite a few gift cards — but there was no license, state ID, or anything with an address or phone number identifying the owner. There was, however, a name on the credit cards, so I thought I would call the issuing bank to see if they could contact the owner and tell them we have his wallet.

The woman on the other end of the line had a Southern twang in her voice and was very pleasant. I explained what we had found and asked if she could help me. While she was extremely professional, it sounded like she was suspicious. This was totally understandable. I explained that I was calling from The Polynesian Cultural Center in La’ie, Hawai’i and that her client had lost his wallet, so I was trying to track him down.

Long ago memories of an island honeymoon

There was a loud, high-pitched shriek on the other end of the phone! I had to pull the phone away from my ear. “Oh, my goodness! Oh my goodness! The Polynesian Cultural Center! I absolutely LOVE that place and have great memories of our time there”, she excitedly shared with me. “We were there about 40 years ago when my husband and I were first married, and we always wanted to go back!”

It seemed like the original purpose of my call was being placed on the back burner for now, so I patiently listened to her sharing her newlywed storyline with me, and talked about all the different things her and her husband did while they were here. “Oooooooh honey, you don’t even understand!” she said. “We were so young and so in love! Everything was just perfect and we loved every minute of it.” I smiled and threw in a “Is that right?” and a “That’s wonderful!” every once in a while, but it was mostly Charlotte speaking the whole time, ooo’ing and aaah’ing about the wonderful time she spent here on her honeymoon.

Finally, I said, “Well, I hope you know that you’re always welcome to come back. Once you come to the islands, you’re a part of our family, and you always have a place here with us.”

The Aloha Spirit will always be a part of you

I was surprised when there was no response. It was quiet until I heard a small sniffle. Charlotte was crying, and I apologized and said I hoped it wasn’t anything I said. “I lost my Henry last year”, she quietly said. “I guess we waited too long to make it back. And now we’ll never get to go back together.” There was a little bit of an awkward pause …

The only thing I could think to say felt cheesy, even as the words came out of my mouth, but I meant them nonetheless. I said, “The memories you made with Henry here on your honeymoon, and every day after that, mean that he’ll always be a part of you, just as you’re still a part of him. I’m sure he’s smiling down on you right now, seeing how much you still cherish the memories and experiences you had together.”

I was not prepared to receive the crying and scolding that followed in her distinct southern accent: “Mr. Mapu! You ah’ makin’ me cry! And my mascara is runnin’ all down my face! Now see what you’ve done! And I’m at work, and everyone is staring at me!” (Then to those who were staring, I heard her say, “Whatch’ y’all lookin’ at?! Go back to y’all’s own bizness now, ya’ hear?!”) I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, which made her laugh, and all was well again.

The necessary information regarding the owner of the lost wallet was obtained. When saying goodbye, it felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear old friend, even though we had only “met” over the phone just a few minutes earlier. I’m grateful to be a part of this very special organization, that allows me to have experiences like this and meet wonderful people from all over the country and the world. This place touches people’s lives when they visit and they feel the aloha spirit, which is really just the Spirit of God, reaching into their lives to tell them that He loves them. What a great opportunity and blessing it is for me to be a part of it!

#gratefulforthepcc #ilovemyjob #dontmesswithpeoplesmascara

Canoe ride at The Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center
Sharing aloha for over 50 years

AUTHORS BIO:

Jimmy is of Samoan descent, and is a graduate of our beloved Kahuku High School just 3 miles north of the Polynesian Cultural Center. He volunteered as a young adult to serve for two years in Japan, and speaks the language fluently. Jimmy is a big guy….both in stature and as a role model to the many students he supervises. He is the self-proclaimed Governor of the PCC, but trust us – should it ever go to a vote, he’d win by a landslide! His dedication, his passion and his amazing sense of humor is a wonderful way to understand the heart and soul of the Polynesian Cultural Center
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