Rev. Sione Haisila and Mrs. Holeva Haisila

With Thomas Stover and Ofa Faiva-Siale

Euless, Texas was first settled in about 1867 as a small farming community in North Central Texas.  The City is located midway between Dallas and Fort Worth Texas, just west of DFW International Airport.  It was incorporated in 1953 and at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census had a population of 46,005.  The City of Euless encompasses approximately 16.3 square miles. (42.1 KM2)

 

Rev. Sione Haisila and Holeva Haisila migrated from Tonga to Euless, Texas in 1981. They have been leaders in the Tongan community that has developed in Euless.    

 

Tom Stover is a long-time resident of Euless, Texas. At the time of this interview he was a member of the Euless Historical Preservation Committee.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale is of Tongan descend and works for the City of Euless.  At the time of this interview, she was one of the liaisons to the Euless Historical Preservation Committee.

 

 

Note to the Reader:

It may be helpful to note that to Tongans, the word "family" could and most often mean what westerner's consider the extended family.  An individual's "family" may include grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins on both mother and father's side of the family.

 


Tom Stover

We thought that the Tongans were such an intricate part of the history of Euless that we wanted to do some interviews to find out.  Ofa, where will these interviews go? 

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            These are going to go on the City of Euless' website.  This will be kept as a permanent part of the City's and the Historical Committee's records.

 

Tom Stover

            Do they understand that? 

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            ‘Oku mo mahino'i pe ‘e fokotu'u eni he website ‘ae City pea ‘e lava ki ha fa'ahinga taha pe ‘i mamani ke sio ki ai?  ‘Oku sai pe ia  kia kimoua? 

 

            You do understand that your interview will be posted on the City's website and that it will be available for anyone in the world to read? Is this okay with both of you?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila and Mrs. Holeva Haisila

‘Io, ‘oku sai pe ia. 

 

Yes, this is fine.  

 

Tom Stover

            I have some questions about Tongans in Euless and Tongans in general.  I looked up your history and your geography and everything on the internet and all I can remember is King George.  Okay, I'm going to ask you some questions. What is your name?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            My name is Sione Haisila.

 

Tom Stover

            Sione?

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, it means John.

 

Tom Stover

            Okay and your name?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            My name is Holeva Haisila.

 

Tom Stover

            Holeva. Okay and you live in Arlington?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes.

 

Tom Stover

            Why do you live in Arlington and not in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            (general laughter) Well, when we first arrive here in 1981 my family live over there, that's why I live in Arlington, Texas.

 

Tom Stover

            I was kind of under the impression that most Tongans, when they came over, they found Euless and settled in Euless. Is that pretty true?  Did most Tongans come to Euless and then spread out from there or did they just come to this part of Texas?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I think they come to Texas in general but since they had many of the Tongan people live in Euless, they keep moving over to Euless.  In my opinion, because a lot of Tongan people work in the airport, Euless is close to the airport, that's why they live over here.

 

Tom Stover

            I was hoping it was because of us Euless-sites (general laugher).  What's the name of your church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            The First Tongan United Methodist Church.

 

Tom Stover

            And that's the official religion of Tonga, Methodist?  How long has your Church been in existence?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            We finish twenty-five years; we are going twenty-six this year.

 

Tom Stover

            And you're on what street? Where is your Church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            In South Pipeline, west of Main Street.

 

Tom Stover 

            How many families are in your church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            We have thirty-four families.

 

Tom Stover

            Thirty-four, are they all Tongans?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes.

 

Tom Stover

            They're all Tongans?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            All Tongans.

 

Tom Stover

            Are there any non-Tongans who belong to your church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            All Tongan.

 

Tom Stover

            But you don't keep them out do you (general laughter)

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            No we accept if any people coming in.

 

Tom Stover

            So I could come to your church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, you could come; the door is open for everybody.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            You won't understand anything but you can go (general laughter).

 

Tom Stover

            Well, I don't understand anything when I go to the First Methodist either. So that's thirty-four families. How many people is that?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            We have as of last December (2006), one-hundred and thirty-two people.

 

Tom Stover

            And they mostly live in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Most live in Euless. 

 

Tom Stover

            What was the name of the first Tongan church in Euless?  Was your church the first Tongan church here in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes.

 

Tom Stover

            And was it the First Tongan United Methodist Church? 

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Mr. Stover, can I interrupt?

 

Tom Stover

            Sure, you can break in anytime you want to.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

(to Rev. Haisila) ‘Oku ‘i ai e faka'amu fekau'aki moe initaviu ni koe ‘uhii ko ‘ene fekau'aki moe hisitolia ‘oe kamata'anga e hiki mai hotau matakali ki heni. Hange koe hingoa Siasi Fakatahatahaa, kapau koe hingoa nai ia na'e ngaue ‘aki he taimi ko e, ‘oku sai pe, he neongo na'e ‘ikai koe ‘uhinga ia he kamata mai, ka ‘oku kau e me'a ni he ‘uluaki sitepu pea moe tupunga'anga hono nofo'i ‘ehe kau Tonga ‘a Euless ni.  Na'e siasi kehekehe e kainga Tonga na'e kau mai ki he ‘uluaki Siasi? 

 

(to Rev. Haisila) As you might know, this interview is specifically dealing with the history of the migration of our people here. For example the name of the first church, Siasi (meaning Church) Fakatahataha (meaning to come together or to gather together as one). If this was what it used to be called, that would be great since, though unintentional, this was one of the first steps taken that led to the Tongan people setting a more permanent root in Euless. Were the people in the first church of different religions went to this church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

‘Oku ou ‘ilo ho'o ‘uhinga, pea koe me'a na'aku ‘ai ai koe First Tongan United Methodist koe ‘uhingaa koe ‘uluaki Siasi Fakatahataha eni. 

 

I understand and that's the reason why I called it First Tongan United Methodist Church, meaning this is the first church of all the Tongan people.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Okay, ‘oku sai. 

 

Okay, very good.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Sai ho'o fakamatala ke toe mahino ange.

 

It's good that you explain so it's clearer.  

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

Ko hono ‘uhinga ia ‘oku ui ai koe First Tongan United Methodist koe ‘uhinga koe ‘uluaki Siasi Fakatahataha eni.

 

That's the reason it's called the First Tongan United Methodist Church, because it was the first Fakatahataha Church here. 

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Okay.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Na'e kamata hono fakatahataha'i he "81".

 

It was first organized in "81" (1981). 

 

Tom Stover

            You're using a word you taught me.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Fakatahataha? Yes, that's one word you've become very familiar with (general laughter).

 

Tom Stover

            (to Ofa Faiva-Siale) What does that mean?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            In the beginning Catholics, Mormons, Methodist, etc., it didn't matter what religion you were, people just wanted to meet together and worship in the Tongan language. So, they formed a church and called it the Fakatahataha (to meet or to come together, to gather as one) Church.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            At this church, we were different denominations, like when the Catholic people have enough people to start their own church, they split out and they start a Tongan Catholic Church, and Mormon people, when they feel they have enough people to start their own, they ask me, "We have enough people." and they start their own church.

 

Tom Stover

            I guess that's why they call Tonga the Friendly Islands to begin with? (general laughter)

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            That's right.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            That's why I call it the First Tongan United Church, because they the first church to have all different denominations worship together.

 

Tom Stover

            Well, what would be the difference in your procedure from the First United Methodist Church in Hurst, Texas? Is there any difference in your traditions or your songs? Of course, I'm sure you sing in Tongan but?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Founga lotu, ‘oku kehekehe fefe mei he Siasi Metotisi?

 

            The rituals, how is it different from the Methodist Church?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            No. We are the same, only everything is in the Tongan language.

 

Tom Stover 

            And you belong to the hierarchy, the big Methodist Church in the country?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Ko ‘ene ‘uhingaa mahalo ki he Konifelenisi.

 

            I believe he is asking about the Conference?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            The Tongan Methodist Church is under the umbrella of the United Methodist Church Conference here in America.

 

Tom Stover

            Okay.  Were you the first Pastor of this church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I'm the first Pastor since 1981 until today. 

 

Tom Stover

            You baptized a lot of Tongans?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            That's right.

 

Tom Stover

            When you started your church, how many families were there?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Well see, our first service was on the 16th of August, 1981. We have thirty-two people. Some from Catholic some from Mormon Church, some from Pentecostal and Methodist, etc.

 

Tom Stover 

            I think that's amazing that all those denominations got together. Ofa said that you currently have a Mormon church (divided in to three Wards at the time of interview), two Methodist churches (three Methodist churches by the time of posting, Dec. 2008), Catholic, Free Church of Tonga, Tonga Hou'eiki, ‘Imanuela, Pentecostal, and the Tokaikolo Church?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, we have nine churches over here in Euless.

 

Tom Stover

            And she also says that everyone belongs to one of these churches but will often work together as one community.  Is that still the way it is, I mean you work together as Tongans?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

Hange ko ‘etau founga ngaue fakatonga. ‘Oku tau takitaha ngaue'i pe hotau ngaahi Siasi takitaha ka ko ‘ene fai ha putu, feinga pa'anga mei Tonga moe ngaahi ‘u me'a lalahi pehe, ‘oku fakataha mai e kainga ‘o ngaue fakataha.

 

For example our work as a Tongan community, everyone belongs to different religions but the people will come together and work as one community, like at funerals, special project requests from Tonga, etc.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Tongans take pride in our cultural ways such as mutual respect among each other and helping fellow Tongans.

 

Tom Stover

            So that's what that word (fakatahataha) means? (general laughter)

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Yes, you know that word very well; I guess that's your Tongan word for the day (laughter). As Rev. Haisila stated, there are nine Tongan churches here in Euless. Each group attends their own individual church but the community will come together as a whole to work together during funerals, weddings and so forth.  Everyone will go to each other's churches and participate in each other's functions.

 

Tom Stover

            Oh, that's wonderful; it's a breath of fresh air.  Let's see, did you have any problems forming the first church? Were there any problems that you ran into that you can remember?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            ‘A ia nai na'e faingata'a nai hono fokotu'u e ‘uluaki Siasi, hono fili e kakai ki he ‘u komiti, pe koe kau ma'ulakangaa?

 

            Were there difficulties in forming the church? In electing the first committee and leadership positions?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            No, no there's no problem.

 

Tom Stover

            And did everyone agree on the rituals and the practices?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, they agree. When I asked them to start our Tongan Church over here in Euless, because even though we have different denominations, they were very happy when I asked them, "We start a Tongan Church over here." I told them, "I don't like to call it a name of any denomination like Methodist, Catholic or Mormon, etc.  Just call it the church of the Tongan people." That's why the people are happy to come over there because no denominational name for the church.

Tom Stover

            When you're talking about everybody working together, I don't know if I should say this or not but, the complaints about the sacrificing of animals. I know it's not true in your community, but you know people think of people coming from the South Sea Islands, all kinds of strange things go on down there because you cook pigs when you have (back ground laughter) your celebrations.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            (to Tom Stover) Do you mind if I tell them about the case that you're referring to?  They may not be aware of it. 

 

(to Rev. and Mrs. Haisila) Ko ‘ene talanoa fekauaki moe siasi heni ‘oku nau lolotonga hanga ‘o suu'i e City.  ‘Oku tapu'i ke tamate'i ha monumanu he City limits, ka koe siasi ko eni ‘oku ‘uhinga ki ai, ‘oku nau fa'a tamate'i e fanga manu ‘o fai feilaulau ‘aki, koe konga ia ‘o e founga ‘enau lotu.  ‘Oku nau ngaue ‘aki e toto moe ngaahi me'a pehe he ‘enau founga lotu. Kaikehe, na'e ta'ofi ‘ehe City kinautolu pea ‘oku nau lolotonga  suu'i e City.

 

He is referring to a church here that is suing the City.  It's against the law to kill animals within the City limits.  The church practices animal sacrificing as a part of their rituals. They use blood and so forth, anyway, the City put a stop to the killing of animals in the City limits and now they are suing the City.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Mahalo koe siasi ‘Isipite, mahalo.

 

It may be an Egyptian Church.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

(to Rev. and Mrs. Haisila) Koe siasi mei South America, pea koe me'a ia ‘oku ‘uhinga ki ai ‘a ‘ene fehu'ii, hange ko hono tamate'i e fanga manu ‘ihe City limits, tautautefito ki hono fai feilaulau ‘aki. ‘Oku lolotonga suu'i ‘ehe kau me'a ‘a e City pea ‘oku nau lolotonga hopo ai. Koe anga ‘ene ‘eke mahalo fekau'aki mo ‘etau founga ko e ‘a tautolu hono tamate'i e puaka ke tau kai, (general laughter) he taimi mali, uike lotu, papi moe ngaahi me'a lalahi pehe.  (To Tom Stover) I told them about the on going case about that church suing the City. 

 

It's a church from South America. That's what he's referring to, killing of animals in the City limits and animal sacrificing. The group is suing the City and it's in litigation right now.  I think he's asking about our cultural practice of slaughtering and roasting pigs to eat during feasts and celebrations like weddings, holy week (first week of each new year) baptism and so forth. (general laughter).  (To Tom Stover) I told them about the case that's going on with the other group suing the City. 

 

Tom Stover

            Okay, I see. Yeah, my wife says the heck with it. When we lived in Marin; the cowboys out there would roast goats.  They'd build the fire pit to cook them in and no body ever said we were sacrificing goats (general laughter).  Can you remember the names; this will be a historical question. What were the names of the first committee members of the church?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Hingoa ‘o e kau ma'ulakangaa ‘o e ‘uluaki Siasi? Hange koe Setuata, Faifekau. Na'e ‘iai ha Sekelitali pe na'e ‘iai ha Tauhi Pa'anga?

 

Names of the first Committee members?  Who was Lay Leader, Pastor, was there a Secretary, was there a Treasurer?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, I remember them, there's too many.

 

Tom Stover

            Can you name them?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes. Koe Sekelitali ko, the first Secretary was Halatono Netane.

 

            Yes. The Secretary was, the first Secretary was Halatono Netane.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            She's Mormon.

 

Tom Stover

            Is she here in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, here in Euless.

 

Tom Stover

            She still lives in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            She still lives here in Euless. She come from the Mormon Church.  That's what I told you first, we were in the same church, people from the Mormon Church and different denominations.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            We are doing an interview with Mrs. Netane. Actually, Chris Jones already did one.  She and her husband were the first Tongans here in Euless.

 

Tom Stover

            Oh they were?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Yes.  (to Rev. Haisila) Mo'oni? Ko kinaua?

 

Yes. (to Rev. Haisila) Is that correct? Them?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

It's okay. Ko naua.

 

It's okay.  It's them.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            ‘Io, na'e kau foki he fakamatala ‘a Halatono ‘a Tevita mo Sione Havea. Na'e pehe ‘e Tono na'e ‘osi ‘i heni ‘a Tevita mo Sione he taimi na'a na ‘uluaki hiki mai ai ki heni mo Siupeli.  Na'a na ako ‘i Fort Worth.

 

Okay, Halatono explained about Tevita and Sione Havea.  They were all ready here attending school in Fort Worth when she and Siupeli moved here.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            The first Lay Leader was a gentleman named Mekinoti Makaafi.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Makaafi.  Ka ‘oku ‘osi malolo.

 

Makaafi, but he is deceased. 

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            When we start here we have only three preachers, my self, Tevita Havea and Finau Tu'uholaki. We were the only three people allowed to preach the bible.

 

Tom Stover

            Why did you form a Tongan church instead of the Catholics and the Mormons and the Episcopalian and so forth going to their own churches in the community?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Koe me'a mahu'inga ia ‘a e Tonga, lotu moe feohi fakatonga.

 

It's a Tongan's most valued possession, church and community.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            (to Rev. Haisila) Ho'o fakakukau ke fokotu'u ‘a e Siasi Tonga, koe ha e mahu'inga pe koe ha e me'a na'e ‘ikai ke o ai pe kau Tonga ‘o takitaha lotu moe kau Palangi ka nau fie o ‘o lotu fakatonga, fakataha?

 

            (to Rev. Haisila) In your thoughts to start a church for Tongans, why was it so important to form a church for Tongans rather than everyone joining their own existing denominations in the American community? Why was it important to worship together in the Tongan language and as a community?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            When I am here on 29th of July, 1981, we went with a few people to the United Methodist Church over there in Euless (First United Methodist Church of Euless).  After about two Sundays, I asked the Pastor if we could have our separate service in Tongan and he said, "Why?" I told him because the language, some people understand and some people, very hard to understand their bible. He was happy, he said, "Its okay." And then we have our first service in the First United Methodist Church over here in Euless.  We started over there in "81". Then "82" and in "83", we move from there to another place.

 

Tom Stover

            One of the things I read on Google about Tonga was that it was one of the most highly educated countries in the world and that it probably has greater per capita of PhD's than any other country. It says that ninety-five percent of the country is literate.  When they say they're literate, are they literate primarily in Tongan or English or another specific language?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Ko ‘ene  fehu'i fekau'aki moe lea. Koe ‘uhinga ‘oe literate koe lava ‘e ha taha pe koha matakali ‘o lau tohi, faitohi pe sipela ‘iha fa'ahinga lea. ‘Oku ne pehe, ‘oku ‘asi he initaneti koe peseti ‘e hiva-nima ‘o e kakai Tonga ‘oku nau literate.  Ko ‘ene pehe leva pe koe ha ‘a e lea ‘oku literate ai e kakai Tonga, he lea fakapalangi, lea fakatonga, pe ‘oku toe ‘i ai ha lea ‘e taha ‘oku nau ngaue'aki?

 

            He is asking about the language. Literate means the ability of a person or a country to speak, read and write in a particular language. It says on the internet that as a country, Tonga is 95% literate. Are Tongans literate in Tongan, English or another language?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Ko ia, ko ‘etau first language ia, Tonga language the first, second ki ai ‘a e English language.

 

Yes, that is our first language, Tonga language the first, second is the English language.

 

Tom Stover

            Well that's a little different than it is in the United States.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            (to Rev. and Mrs. Haisila) Ko e me'a ‘e taha na'e lau ki ai fekau'aki moe PhD.  ‘Oku ne pehe ‘oku lahi ange ‘ae peseti ‘o e kakai Tonga ‘oku nau ma'u mata'i tohi fakatatau ki he ki'i lahi ‘o e fonua moe tokolahi ‘o e ki'i kakai ‘o fakatatau ki he ‘u fonua lahi ‘i mamani.

 

(to Rev. and Mrs. Haisila) The other thing he mentioned is that there are more people with Ph'D's per capita in Tonga than in most other countries.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Poto ‘a e kakai Tonga, mo'oni ia.

 

The people are well educated, this is true. 

 

Tom Stover

            How many Tongan churches are there in this area, in North Texas?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            It's nine.

 

Tom Stover

            And are they all Methodist?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            No, there's First Tongan United Methodist, Tongan First United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Mormon Church, Pentecostal Church, Free Church of Tonga, Siasi Tonga Hou'eiki, Siasi Tokaikolo and ‘Imanuela Church.   

 

Tom Stover

            How many of those are in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            They all here in Euless except the Catholic Church. They are across the street from Euless, on the northwest side of the corner of Hwy. 157 and Harwood Rd. makes them Bedford, TX.

 

Tom Stover

            Eight in Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, and I live in Arlington but my church and I belong here in Euless (general laughter).

 

Tom Stover

            The king of Tonga and the royal family I understand are Methodist.  Can you tell me a little history of when the Church went to Tonga and how the royal family became Methodist?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Well, around 1826, the first missionaries come from England to Tonga.  The King was converted and just start the United Methodist Church for the people.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            (to Ofa Faiva-Siale) Na'e tu'uta ia ki Ha'atafu pea tali ia he'e kau Nopele ko iaa.

 

(to Ofa Faiva-Siale) They arrived in Ha'atafu and the nobles there accepted the new religion. 

 

Tom Stover

            Was that King George?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            King George the First. They arrived in another part of Tonga and the nobles over there accept the new faith and they try for the king to convert to the Christian faith.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Because, ko eni ‘Ofa, he koe ‘uhii na'e ‘iai pe ‘a e lotu ia ‘a e kau Tonga.

 

Here Ofa, because Tonga had their own religions back then.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            The Tongans had their own religions.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Koe taimi ko e na'e arrive ai ‘a e faifekau lotu ko ia, faifekau ko Semisi he 1826, he preached to the people to turn from, mei honau ngaahi ‘Otua  kanau lotu ki he ‘Otua Kalisitiane.

 

When the missionary, James, arrived in 1826, he preached to the people to turn from their God and to worship the Christian God.

 

Tom Stover

            I've got some questions now about Tongans in Euless.  Who was the first Tongan to come to Euless? I think you might have answered that.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Well when I arrive here, there's a few people all ready here but I heard that the first Tongan came over here is, Tono (Halatono Netane).

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Siupeli Netane.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Siupeli, that's what I heard. I'm not sure but the people who were here told me that was the first Tongan over here, Siupeli.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            That's Mrs. Halatono Netane's spouse.  He is deceased now.

 

Tom Stover

            And why did they come to Euless, do you know?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I heard Siupeli work over there in California for American Airlines and transferred here.  He found life better here than over there, that's why he came over here.

 

Tom Stover

            Oh, so it was American Airlines?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, and he retire here from American Airlines. He passed away already.

 

Tom Stover

            I ask then, why did Tongans settle in Euless?  Was it just by chance or was there something special that the first person with American Airlines found? Why did people keep coming to Euless?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I think that when the people first came over here they had their families in different States and they tell them, "Texas is better."  That's why they start coming here.  That's what I was told and that's why I came over here.  Our first service was thirty-two people, that's almost all the people who was over here back then.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            (to Tom Stover) That's all the Tongans that were here in the area, thirty-two.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, I told them, I don't like to name our congregation a specific denomination because if the Catholic or the Mormon people come and we have a specific name, they don't want to come.  We'll just call it the church of the Tongan people.

 

Tom Stover

            Did you come from Tonga directly here?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I came from Tonga direct over here.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            No, Haisila, excuse me, American Samoa.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Sorry, I was in Samoa for ten years.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            American Samoa.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I came from American Samoa. One week in Hawaii, one week in LA and come over here and stay here.

 

Tom Stover

            When Tongans come to Euless or to the United States in general, do they have any kind of a problem adjusting to Democracy?  I know that Tonga has some what of a Democracy, what do they call it?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Not sure.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            We have a Constitutional Monarchy. We have a king and a queen.  We have a royal family and the King has the final say in most matters, however, we also have a parliament consisting of majority noblemen and a few commoners. They advise the King but the King has final say.

 

Tom Stover

            Is there any kind of problems coming from that political environment to the United States'?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

‘Oku ‘i ai ha faikehekehe pe ko ha palopalema he omi mei he founga ‘o e  pule'anga ‘o Tonga, hange koe Tu'i, Kuini, Falealea, ki he founga ‘o e pule'anga ‘o ‘Amelika ni, founga fakatemokalate? 

 

            Is there a difference or are there problems with coming from Tonga's political system, like having a King, Queen and Parliament to America's Democratic way of governing?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            No, no, I don't think so.

 

Tom Stover

            Do Tongans that come to the United States encounter much discrimination?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            ‘Oku fa'a lahi e fepaki ‘a e kakai Tongaa moe laulanu ‘i Amelika ni?

 

            Do Tongan people encounter much discrimination here in America?

 

Tom Stover

            (hesitation) You don't have to answer any questions that I ask you.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            You see, we first come and stop at Hawaii.  We have a pass to go all over the world with our visa. (to Ofa Faiva-Siale) ‘Oku ‘ikai ha taha ia ‘oku ha'u ‘o hola mai pe ‘oku ha'u ha palopalema mo ia. No.

 

You see, we first come and stop at Hawaii.  We have a pass to go all over the world with our visa.  (to Ofa Faiva-Siale) There's no one that defects from Tonga or bring problems or issues with them. No.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            When people come from Tonga they come legally with their own visas and people don't leave Tonga to escape or defect from Tonga due to political problems or issues.  They come because they want better opportunities to improve their way of life.  There's nothing difficult about the transition.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Yes.

 

Tom Stover

            What do Tongans work at generally when they come to Euless?  Do they generally do the same thing in Tonga? In other words, their work, their jobs, what do Tongans do when they come here?  They don't all work for American Airlines do they?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Koe ha e ngaue ‘a e kakai Tongaa ‘oku fai ‘i Euless ni? ‘Oku nau fai e ngaue tatau moe ‘enau ngaue ko e ‘oku nau fai ‘i Tonga? Koe ha e fa'ahinga ngaue ‘a e matakali Tonga ‘oku fai he'enau omi ki muli ni?

 

            What type of occupation do Tongan people do here in Euless? Do they do the same type of work here as in Tonga? What type of work do people do here in when they come to here?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            The Tongan people are so strong to work outside, like working at the yard (landscaping). Koe kakai feinga hotau matakali.

 

The Tongan people are so strong to work outside, like working at the yard (landscaping). The people are hard workers, our race.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Tongans as a race are hard workers and seem in general, to exhibit a preference (or a necessity due to lack of higher education) for the outdoor and physical labor. Early European visitors to Tonga, even Captain Cook made mention of that. They tend to adapt and learn new things quickly often just by watching and no formal education. Many come here from Tonga never having done brick work, landscaping, sidewalks, tree trimming, etc. in the scale that we see here. Yet they come here and within a very short time, they learn how to do masonry work, landscaping, and so on. Many not only support their families here in America but their families in Tonga too through such work. Most I think, not only are good at physical, manual work but many prefer it I think, especially being outdoor.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Nau feing kenau ngaue ua, koe ‘uhi koe ngaahi famili pea nau toe ‘ofa ki Tonga.

 

            They work two jobs because of their families and love of Tonga.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            Many work two jobs not only to support their family here but also help their family back home, not to mention that many have a deep sense of love for Tonga as a county.

 

Tom Stover

            It seems that many young Tongans excel in sports like football. I know they do good in football.  Is that because they're generally a rather large people or because they're competitive or what?  What was the main sport in Tonga?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I think that the main sport in Tonga is rugby.

 

Tom Stover

            Rugby?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Rugby is the same with the football here, but played differently. The main sport over there is the rugby.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Talaange ki ai, excuse me, nau a'u ki mamani, nau ‘alu ‘o a'u ki ‘Aositelia, Nu'usila, Lonitoni.

 

            Let him know, excuse me, players play for teams all over the world, like Australia, New Zealand, London, etc.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            They play rugby and are able to play for teams from Australia, New Zealand and London, England.

 

Tom Stover

            They don't play soccer?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            They started soccer but the big sport, that's rugby.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Koe Tu'i ko hono manako e soka.

 

The King's (at the time of interview-Taufa'ahau Tupou IV) favorite is soccer.

 

Tom Stover

            Well you've answered in one way or another all the questions that I have.  My daughter and son have good friends who were Tongan. They went to Trinity High School. My daughter is good friends with Aileen, the girl who played shot-put.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

Simoa's daughter.

 

Tom Stover

            My daughter told me one time, and my son said the same thing, "If you're going out where you might run in to trouble, it's good to have a Tongan friend." Tongans stick up for their friends (laughter).

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            If they are anything, they are an extremely loyal people.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila 

            My eldest son was the first Tongan to graduate over here in "82", from Trinity High School.

 

Tom Stover

            He went to Trinity?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, because when he came from American Samoa, he was almost finished in high school over there and then he finish over here at Trinity.  He's the first Tongan to graduate over here in "82."

 

Tom Stover

            Well thank you for doing this.   If you would, I would like for you to tell me things that you'd think would be interesting in the historical view of Euless and the Church, your social life or whatever. Maybe things that you think would be good for people to know about Tongans or yourselves or your church. (hesitation)

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            ‘E kau eni he lekooti ‘e tauhi fakahisitolia ‘ehe City, ‘a e anga ‘etau hiki mai ‘o nofo'i e kolo ni. Koe ha pe ho'o mo lea ‘e fai he ‘aho ni ‘e pau keu transcribe ia pea ‘e fakakau ia he lekooti ‘a e City. ‘Oku mahu'inga leva, pe koe ha ho'omo fakakaukau kiha fa'ahinga me'a mahu'inga fekau'aki moe hisitolia ‘o e hiki mai ‘a e matakali Tonga ki Euless ni ke kau he tepi ni. Pe koha toe fa'ahinga me'a pe ‘oku mo loto ke fakakau he tepi ni ‘oku sai pe.  (To Mr. Stover) Told them this interview will be a part of the City's records and to include anything they feel important to the history of the people's move and settlement of Euless.

 

This interview will be a part of the City's permanent records, the Tongan people's migration and settlement in Euless. Whatever you say here today will be recorded and transcribed and kept as a part of the City's records. What ever you consider important about the history of the Tongan people's migration here or anything else you consider important, its good to include it too.  (To Mr. Stover) Told them this interview will be a part of the City's records and to include anything they feel important to the history of the people's move and settlement of Euless.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Maybe I'm first, then Haisila. I'm so sorry for my English.  I would like to use this opportunity, to say thank you so much from my heart for everything we are talking about, for our country and the people in Euless. We call, Euless our Tongan country, we love to stay here with the people of Euless and we try to do our best to build up the Tongan people here, to live together and work together because this is our home, Euless.  We love the City, because our family, our children, they work here and we have opportunity to help a part of our family who live far away from here in Tonga.  One of the first thing in my life, the Tongan people, they like to work together; the first thing for them is the family and church and second, to take our children to school. We want them to have a better life than us, better than me; I like my daughter to be better than me.

 

Tom Stover

            That's because you're a good mother, and I don't have any trouble understanding you at all, so your language is good.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Thank you so much sir.  The important thing is we like to be here in Euless, with the Texas people.

 

Tom Stover

            I'm glad to hear you say that, thank you.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Thank you very much.  I remember many things from the past, that's why I said, when I arrive here on 29th of July, 1981; I finish two Sundays and we came out of the United Methodist over there (First United Methodist Church of Euless) with the few Tongan people.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            That's the church the Mayor goes to.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, the Mayor (Mayor Mary Lib Saleh).  She knows me and I know her, she's from there. She give me this, and I will report to her the next time I see her.

 

Tom Stover

            What is that?

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            It's a speedometer. It's a part of the "Steppin Out" program the City is running.

 

Tom Stover

            She's trying to keep you healthy (general laughter).

 

Rev. Haisila

            Yes she is. When we started our congregation over there we have a room over there.  We start our service from "81" to "83".  In April "83", we move to another church. The next Pastor over there, he like us to move because too many people over there.  So we move to another place in April, 1983, "84", and "85". From there, we move to our building, that one we are still at now.  We rent over there "85" to "92" then we bought the building and the property.  We now own the land and everything over there.  Like I said, since "81", I told the congregation, "We elect our Pastor, Lay Leader, Secretary and everything," and since we start electing officers from "81" to August the 25th of last year, that's our silver jubilee, they all elect me as the Pastor for twenty-five years now. All the Tongan churches over here in Euless split from us.  We start together in one congregation and when they have enough people, they say, "We have enough to start our church."  The Catholic people they start, Mormon people start, all churches over here. I always tell them (the Community) when we have a meeting, like funerals and weddings; I told them that this is the "Mother Church". I am happy because when we come from Tonga, we come with different opinions, different directions.  We come here to find a good school for our children, to get good work, but we never forget to bring Jesus Christ with us. We never forget it. We come here with different directions like school, get a money, good place to live, good food to eat, but we never forget to bring Jesus with us.

 

Tom Stover

            So the church is the center of your community?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            That's right, that's why we came over here and we start our congregation here.

 

Tom Stover

            That's wonderful.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            We never forget it, the Tongan people; there are only two things, Jesus and education.

 

Tom Stover

            That's a good pair.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            So that's what I remember, that's our congregation.  They elect the Pastor and every position every year. I've told them, I never refuse even if Jesus calls me to be a Pastor for a hundred years, I accept that.

 

Tom Stover

            Good for you.

 

Ofa Faiva-Siale

            He can probably tell you how many funerals he's serviced Mr. Stover.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            When we finish last year in our Jubilee, we had ninety-five funerals, Tongan people died here since "81".

 

Tom Stover

            From 1981?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Since August of 1981 to August last year, 2006. Ninety-five people passed away, Tongan people.

 

Tom Stover

            And how many babies?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            I don't know how many babies but all together its ninety-five people, yes.

 

Tom Stover

            (general laughter) I mean how many babies were born?

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            Na'e papitaiosi hotau siasi Haisila.

 

That was baptized at out church, Haisila. 

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Oh, the baptisms in our Church.  One hundred in my church and one hundred people I have baptized myself.

 

Tom Stover

            So you're gaining, baptism to funeral?

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            (general laughter) I don't know about another church.

 

Tom Stover

            Well, you have a wonderful community, wonderful people as far as I know.  My son used to tell me that he'd call some of his friends to come over and be bouncers at parties. He said he always felt good when the Tongan kids came there cause there wasn't gonna be any trouble (general laughter).  Well, thank you both very much, thank all three of you.  I'm anxious to see what the transcript will look like.  Of course I'm sure you would like to see it too.

 

Mrs. Holeva Haisila

            We appreciate this opportunity.

 

Rev. Sione Haisila

            Yes, thank you very much.

 

Tom Stover

            Well it's our pleasure; it's to our benefit to do this because it makes our history a little more complete.

 

 

 

 

Interview conducted at the Euless Library

May 8, 2007.

 

 

Note to the Reader:

*Italicized words are added for flow. Words enclosed in (parenthesis and in italics) are added for clarification.

 

**Underlined and italicized words are translated either from Tongan to English or English to Tongan.

 

 

 

 

 

This narrative history was produced through the efforts of The Euless Historical Preservation Committee with assistance from the staff of the City of Euless Parks and Community Services Department. -  December 2008