The ecologist who found his wedding ring

dagmaranall.jpg

Photo: Dagmara Nall

When Aleki Taumoepeau, a 42-year old ecologist, dropped his wedding ring in the murky waters of a New Zealand just months after he and his wife Rachel got hitched, he was determined to find it at all costs. Everyone — including Rachel — thought he was crazy. Quite miraculously, Aleki found the ring at the bottom of the sea a year and a half later. I got on the phone with Aleki recently to find out how he lost and found his wedding ring in the ocean. It's a story of love, faith, obsession, and GPS coordinates, and it starts in a beautiful harbor town on the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island.

I'm a fresh water ecologist at the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research in Hamilton. My main job is to help the scientists survey lakes and vegetation, identify species, and advise the power company and regional councils on how to treat noxious plants. I usually work in fresh water, but on that day, I was helping the short-staffed salt water marine guys look for invasive organisms in Wellington Harbor. There were several divers with me on board the inflatable Naiad boat, and I was trying to start the engine when the ring just flew off my finger.

We all saw it go in the water. I usually don't wear my ring when working on boats or diving — this was just the one time that i forgot to take it off. My first reaction was to grab an anchor and drop it where the ring went down. After that, four of the divers on the boat went down to have a look, but they couldn't find the ring or the anchor. The water was particularly murky that day, so after about thirty minutes I told them not to worry about it. It was Friday afternoon, and we still had one more job site to attend to. That was in March 2008, three months after I had married my wife Rachel.

Three months later, I was at a conference in Wellington so I decided to go and have a look. I asked some of the delegates there to help me out — they thought it was a great cause and were keen to do so. So at 6AM on a cold wintery morning, four of us went out to the beach. The water was quite rough and cold, about 50 degrees fahrenheit. I brought Scuba diving gear, a metal detector, and a dry suit. We were at a sampling site when I lost my ring, so we had recorded its GPS coordinates on our field sheets. The area where I'd lost the ring was supposed to be about 100 yards from the shore and about three meters deep. When I got out in the water, though, there was so much debris in the area — pipes, old tire rims, coins, belts — that the metal detector just went off all the time. I also realized that I had brought the wrong GPS coordinates with me — the area where the lost ring was supposed to be a little bit further away. I was cold and the metal detector was going crazy, so I headed back to shore. Later that week, I had another go, but that was also unsuccessful.

Rachel and I met on a golf course — we just clicked, and things went very quickly after that. We had a big Tongan island wedding in November 2007. When I told Rachel about the lost ring, she said she would buy me another one. But that was too easy for me. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I insisted that I was going to find my ring.

Rachel and I returned to Wellington again this past July to attend another conference. I said to her, "Let's go a day earlier to look for the ring!" She said, "You're crazy. It's been 15 months. What are the chances of finding it?" I promised her it would be the last time I'd look for it, and that if I didn't find it she could buy me another ring. She was happy with that. So off I went to the beach again with my scuba gear and metal detector. We now have a baby son, so he and my wife sat on the shore while I went searching in the water.

This time, I did a little bit more homework. I managed to get the field sheet from our original trip with the right GPS coordinates. I mapped them out on Google Earth &mdash with Google Earth I could actually see the physical landscape and the trees, which would be useful for me to relocate the site while swimming. I loaded the coordinates on my ETrex and swam out to the site. As soon as I got there, I realized that the terrain had physically changed. I was a bit concerned that recent storms could have moved the anchor. And even if the anchor was still there, the ring may not be next to it.

Regardless, I knew that if I found the anchor, I'd have a very good chance of finding the ring. I dropped a little white marker with a plastic bag tied to a rope, put on my snorkels, and stuck my head under water. The water was so clear. I had never seen it so clear before. I had a good feeling that I would find it. I'm Christian, so I said a little prayer. I said, "God, don't make it too easy for me because I was feeling a bit confident that I would find it." Then I began swimming around. I figured weeds would have grown over the anchor, so every clumps of weeds I saw, I'd swim down and have a look. I covered a lot of ground to no avail. The water was quite cold, and I was getting tired. I said another prayer: "God, if the ring is here, it would be nice to show it to me right about now. I'm tired from bobbing up and down." I swam back towards my marker to start over again. I had told myself I would look for a minimum of three hours. I looked at my watch. Just over an hour. I stopped and took a deep breath, and started swimming again...

And there it was! The anchor was right beneath me. I just couldn't believe it. There weren't even any weeds on it. I was just so excited, and I thought, wow, I better not lose this spot. I kept looking at the land to triangulate the spot. My plan was to go back to get my marker and put it on this spot. Before I went back, though, I decided to have a quick look &mdash so i went down to the anchor on the snorkel and circled it. Lo and behold, about three yards away, was the ring. It was lying flat on the shelly surface, glimmering in the water. I grabbed it, grabbed the anchor, and pushed up to the surface. And then I started cheering. Yeaaaaarhhhh!! Yahoooo!

Rachel heard me from shore — she was talking on the phone to someone at work about how crazy I was to be in the water. A couple of people walking their dogs had asked her what the crazy guy in the water was doing. When I got back to shore, just Rachel and the baby were there. I held up the ring. It's a simple gold band with four rolls, kind of like four thinner rings connected together. It was slightly tarnished on the inside, and the gold was a bit dull, but you could still see it shine.

I had had this elaborate methodical plan to lay out a search grid on snorkels, then get my scuba gear and metal detector from shore and check each square from my marker. But I didn't even need that. I just found it on my snorkels. "God, you're just awesome," I thought.

People read a lot of romantic things into this, but for me it was sort of a challenge. It's not the same to buy a new one, you know? In the back of my mind, I knew I would find it. I have honed my diving skills and the ability to search for and identify things underwater from my job — I'm usually looking for plants, but I know that it's important to be familiar with the environment, for example, and to recognize different sediments and substrates at the bottom. I would have definitely had to use the metal detector if I'd lost the ring on soft sediment, but here I was dealing with sandy shell. I later talked to a scientist who maps sand movements, and he said that that particular area had a lot of sand movement. It's possible that the ring was buried in sand and then unburied again due to water movements and erosions. That explains why, on my first go at finding the ring, I only saw logs and murkiness.

I found the ring on July 29, 2009. After that, the Hamilton Press picked up the story, and then it took off on a world scale. A lot of people emailed me saying what a nice story it was. On the Internet, some people believed in me all along, some people discounted God, and others thought I had just gone out and bought another ring and pretended I'd found it. I realized it had impacted a lot of people. This experience definitely strengthened my faith. It's just the power of prayer, I guess.

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  1. “dropped his wedding ring in the murky waters of a New Zealand just months after he and his wife Rachel got hitched”

    Which New Zealand? If it was a really small one, I don’t see the problem. ;)

  2. Behind the sweet story there’s all this incessant talking to God that makes me feel really repulsed by this man.

    1. What is it that makes some people miss the point entirely and start slagging off God? Honestly, it does my head in when I see people derailing the conversation just to say stuff like “lololol god dusn’t exsits! I hate gord!1!”

      We don’t come on topics you’ve posted and go “oh you didn’t thank God there!” cause it’s silly doing that!

  3. This story is great. Though that a commentator would be repulsed merely by the fact that the storyteller talks to god is sad.

  4. Power of prayer…or…

    “honed…diving skills and the ability to search for and identify things underwater” plus a meticulous use of GPS and Google Earth.

    Power of a clever, driven, tenacious man. Glad he found his ring!

  5. This is a cool story, don’t get me wrong, but….

    Shallow water. Foresight to drop anchor. GPS log of position. Near OCD determination. Hard shell sand bottom.

    Reason ring was found?

    The power of prayer…..

  6. Excellent find! My dad lost his wedding ring at the SF Zoo about 15 years ago near the Gorilla exhibit. I would have loved to bring a metal detector to give it a shot. We searched for a good hour without finding it.

    I have found gold in the past. My most recent find was in my parents backyard in San Francisco, we were all doing gardening work, removing years of weeds and brush, about a 25ft wide by 10ft long area. I saw what I believed was just a penny, asked me brother to pick it up, he was dog tired. I picked it up and it turned out to be a $21/2 dollar coin from 1851. About $200 bucks on ebay.

    I have 2 rings, 2 crosses, an earring and the gold coin just to name a few of the things I’ve found.

  7. Hey! I lost my wedding ring while on my honeymoon in New Zealand. We were kayaking in Russel (I think) amid the mangroves. We went under a waterfall and the damn thing slid right off.

    If anyone sees it, let me know. I have a replacement, of course, but I am sentimental.

    Sigh…I miss New Zealand. I spent two weeks there nine years ago (this month) and I miss it every day. At least I still got the wife.

  8. @danalan – He found strength and determination through prayer. Maybe he would have quit without it. So, yes, power of prayer – it’s his point of view after all.

  9. This reminds me of a wedding ring story from my own family–shortly after my parents bought their house, my dad was working in the backyard when he realized he was no longer wearing his wedding ring. He and my mom searched for hours. My mom called her parents and they came over to look for it, too. They never found it, and eventually gave up.

    In the intervening years I was born, and was present when the following occurred, 25 years later:

    My dad had been working in the yard all afternoon when he came in and announced, with a total lack of fanfare, “I found my wedding ring.” His best guess as to how the ring was lost and why it finally resurfaced was that squirrels were somehow involved.

    I’m not sure if there’s a moral to the story, other than that a wedding ring is something you never stop looking for if you lose it.

  10. Cyclist Bob Roll has a great story about finding a lost watch after loosing it back country snowboarding.

  11. Sorry people, I just find it rather strange and creepy. Not something that would fly in my social circle for sure, but I’ve read this kind of talk is common in the US, so I am not surprised many of you find it normal.

  12. @steve

    I’m not saying the gentleman isn’t entitled to his emic POV. I’m just saying an etic read of the situation might possibly come to a slightly different conclusion. Maybe.

  13. You’ve got to admire this guy’s determination.

    I used to take offense at the phrase “power of prayer” since I generally find it deluding. Now I look at people who claim that they have faith in ‘God’ and often see people who really have faith in themselves and in the people around them. If I ever have a chance to meet this man I will still tell him how proud I am of his accomplishment.. and then I will tell him that whatever beliefs he needs to achieve his goals are a-o-k by me, so long as he doesn’t get all pushy with them. And then I will hope he comes to his senses in his own good time.. or not, his choice. Either way, the world is a good place with determined people in it.

  14. Nice of Dog to help this man find his ring. Too bad he doesn’t have time to help all those amputees out there…

  15. Luc: “Behind the sweet story there’s all this incessant talking to God that makes me feel really repulsed by this man.”

    That says more about you than it does about him.

  16. It seem that infrequent visitors to water often assume that an object lost in the depths is gone forever. Those of us who spend a bit more time there realize that, well, gravity works just fine in water and when things hit bottom, they tend to stay pretty much where they land. Search and Recovery is often technically more complex than on land, but usually doable. Doesn’t seem to matter if its a piece of jewelry or a nuclear submarine.

  17. I enjoyed this one because I lost my wedding band once. It wasn’t in such an amazing place or with the same set of circumstances, but finding it again was amazing all the same.

    I remember working on our house, about 30′ up on a scaffold in front of the house. I remember taking off the ring and putting it in my tool bag. At the end of the day, which was at the end of about two weeks of spending 12-16 hours a day working and working on the house, I got my gear off the scaffold and brought it into the house.

    I didn’t think about the ring for the next week or so, since I still was working on projects. Besides, I had misplaced it before and it always showed up. Soon, however, the project was done and the ring was gone. I didn’t remember putting it into that tool bag right away, but when I did, I found the bag pockets empty.

    Almost four years passed. During the third year with no ring, I finally agreed to let my wife purchase me another one. I liked it. It was a wider band than we originally had purchased (our station in life had much changed in the intervening years), but it was of the same basic style–a plain gold band–to match my tastes.

    So, about four years after losing the ring, we decided to move. In the intervening time, I had enlisted our kids to find the ring, starting first with a $1 bounty and gradually increasing it to $20. One summer, one of my sons completely scoured the ground under the deck that had supported my scaffolding. He found nothing. None of them found anything. Nothing, that is, until one boy decided he wanted to search all the heat ducts for Lego bricks that were dropped. He found coins, marbles, game pieces, Lego bricks, and my wedding ring!

    It seems likely that my bag was kicked over inside the door and that the ring fell down into the cold air return duct. It was there all along, but we did not find it until he scraped and pulled to find all his lost toys (we had looked there before, but it must have rolled a ways down). It’s still a fun story for us to remember.

  18. I’m just jealous. I lost my ring on a honeymoon in Acapulco twenty-two-and-a-half years ago. Didn’t see it fall off, I was bodysurfing at the time. No chance of finding it, between that and the sand and the surf.

    Congratulations, guy — bad as it was, you found it.

  19. @Luc The guy is a kiwi, what does that have to do with the US? So New Zealanders and a large percentage of the world are creepy because they believe in g-d?

    1. America is responsible for all of the God-related foolishness in the world. Which makes sense, as I understand we have that ancient, heathen-killing desert beast chained up beneath the Pentagon.

  20. I’m with luc. The guy worked hard, had skills and thinks he found the ring because of his imaginary friend. Not repulsed, just feel a little sad that the guy can’t give himself credit.

  21. It is almost as if the ring wanted to be found.

    I would be careful if I were you, rumour has it that lord Sauron is regaining his former strength. He is said to be bringing together the forces of darkness somewhere in fiordland.

    I fear one of the remaining rings of power has been found. You have but one choice, to cast it into the fires of Mt Ruapehu from which it came.

  22. I KNEW when I read this article and before reading the comments that the atheists wouldn’t be able to see past his “power of prayer” comment. Get a grip. It was a neat story. Don’t let your obsessions ruin everything for you.

    1. That’s right atheists, don’t let your obsessions ruin everything for you. That’s what theist obsessions are for.

  23. What is sad is that you apparently missed the part where he says “I have honed my diving skills and the ability to search for and identify things underwater from my job — I’m usually looking for plants, but I know that it’s important to be familiar with the environment, for example, and to recognize different sediments and substrates at the bottom” – is that not giving himself credit? You obviously struggled to find something useful to insult him on because of his beliefs. Christian bashing is so 2001.

  24. The guy’s an ecologist, a lover and a believer. He did something. You know what is repulsive? Internet trolls. And, people, please: call a faith (it doesn’t matter which one) repulsive is low. Call a god (again, it doesn’t matter which one) “an imaginary friend” is culturally, historically and anthropologically dumb, in terms of behavior. I know, I also can’t stand fundamentalism, but this is just a childish vision trying hard to sound subversive (yes, because subversion comments on blogs).

    1. Culturally, historically and anthropologically dumb?

      Hey. We can explain historic/cultural/anthropological evidence of belief in a supreme being from many points of psychological and societal evidence. The problem is that none of this evidence includes any that proves God’s existence. That’s the problem.

      I play DnD every Sunday. I sure don’t believe in it as a way to live any other day of the week.

  25. Hmmm… I wonder if it wasn’t the aliens that helped him by continually bombarding the area with gamma rays to prevent weeds from growing. Or maybe it was the Or lord’s noodly appendage that kept the murk at bay.

    Come on. Maybe it was his persistence AND a frickin ANCHOR that he dropped AND some GPS co-ordinates AND the THREE times he looked AND the rings shiny nature AND frickin PURE LUCK.

    Jesus F’in Christ. Literally.

  26. Apologies again, I am not trolling, it was an honest expression of my opinion. No way would I let this guy babysit my kid for example. Just a bit too loony for my taste.
    Funnily enough it’s the guy calling me a troll who is doing the trolling here I think.

  27. Who’s trolling? It IS a sweet story. Cool too! Thanks for sharing, Aleki! But I agree with the few commentators here that he turns it into a faith story at the end, when he wraps up the entire package with “This experience definitely strengthened my faith. It’s just the power of prayer, I guess.” At that point, this story becomes propaganda, intentional or not.

    This is important to distinguish, even in a sweet story such as this, because factors such as ‘talking to god’ are overlooked (these days in certain societies), where-as had he been praying to a flying spaghetti monster (or any other make-believe character, Alexandre), the fsm would have been the focus, not the ring. And so, now this story reads ‘because I had faith, I found my ring’. He can tell his story as he likes, but I’m of the opinion it’d be more entertaining, and maybe more honest, if told in a less god-endorsing way.

    Still, good job on finding it! Makes me want to go search for some glasses I dropped a few years back. heh

    1. I think it’s mis-characterizing the story to call it “propaganda”. He’s not using it to sway people, it’s just an affirmation of his own beliefs. And who cares if he mentions his faith anyway–it’s his story!!

  28. The “problem” with the faith claim, is that to attribute the “good luck” of finding the ring, is to ignore the “bad luck” of losing it in the first place.

    If he “blames” god for the finding, then who is he “blaming” for the losing?

    This is the problem with faith. The believer takes all the “bad luck” claims, and god gets credit for all the “good luck” claims.

    1. I am a believer but I rarely pray. Even if God listens, I’m sure he has more important things to do than help me with something minor — or even something major, really. Like many believers, I’m also a big fan of “God helps people who help themselves.” I don’t know how much I buy that God had anything to do with him finding the ring. Really, I don’t at all. But if his faith helped gird him for the tedium of the search, than you could say his faith helped him. I personally also found it somewhat offputting that he mentioned that *since* he was Christian he said a prayer. His specific religion had nothing to do with the story and he could have simply said “I said a small prayer.” Describing your specific brand of belief is not required to get your point across. (For instance, reading my post you can probably only discern that I am a monotheist, not what brand I am.)

  29. I have to agree with Luc. A grown man who believes his god/angel/universal spirit/fairy finds wedding rings for him is just deranged.

  30. I lost my glasses into a river once, from a bridge above. The river was fast-flowing and chock full of razor-sharp oysters, as it was the outlet of a river into the sea. I looked (as far as my poor eyesight could manage) at the drop-point, calculated roughly how the density of the glasses would react to the flow of water, marked in my head a spot they might be, and jumped in. Couldn’t find them. Returned the next day, nothing. Then two weeks later I returned to the spot, and added a tumbling motion to the glasses, shifted the calculations of the drag with over 2 meters, jumped in and unbelievably I found them, after 3 minutes of fighting those evil oysters. And no praying, just calculated guesses. Boy, did I feel good afterwards. :)

  31. I wasn’t ‘repulsed’ by the religiosity in the story, but I was highly bemused by it. If you simultaneously think there is A.)an all powerful omnipotent creator of the universe and B.)it gives a shit about your search for a lost wedding ring and C.)several thousand children died of simple hunger and diarrheal disease on the same day that you found your pweciousss ring….then it needs to be pointed out that you are deluded with wacky nonsense which is clouding your view of reality and causing you to embarrass yourself in public.

    And no, noticing these kinds of absurd beliefs when they pop up from time to time is not tantamount to “bashing”, as people like CGordon would wish us to believe. As someone who is gay, I am more than willing to tell you a thing or two about what bashing really is. Suffice it to say, pointing out irrational and nonsensical superstition when you see it, falls somewhere this side of taking a baseball bat to someone’s head.

  32. Not everyone who criticized the “power of prayer” comment was bashing the man. In fact, few were. I find it distressing that the religious/religion-friendly take any questioning or criticism of their beliefs as “trolling”, “low”, and “dumb”.

  33. When the ex and I (still married at the time) had been living in our house about two years, he was out attacking the backyard with the lawnmower and stopped to pick up a dropped Beanie Baby before he mower gnashed it to a poly fill shower. When he bent over, he saw a ring. We cleaned it, and found it was a schmancy college ring and had the name of the previous homeowner on it.

    We called him to tell him we had the ring. As it turns out, the ring had been missing since the oldest of his twenty-something sons had been grade/middle school-age. The class ring, along with his wife’s wedding ring, had disappeared when the sons had a babysitter. They figured that she’d taken the rings. They never confronted her, but they never hired her again.

    What likely happened was the kids (they were a wild bunch) took the rings out to play treasure hunt and immediately lost them. Instead of confessing, they let the sitter take the fall, and the rings were lost in the yard for 15+ years.

    We never did find the wedding ring, but we still look for it when someone remembers.

  34. one side calls arbitrarily chosen parts of life “god”.

    the other side fails to notice that thanking “god” is essentially thanking ‘life’ and therefore not irrational in and of itself regardless of whether one thinks its magic or life.

  35. Of course, this story has a happy ending, but he could easily have died in the obsessive quest for the ring.

    Religious people always like to tell true-stories of lost hikers down to their last match who prayed to god and managed to light the fire that saved them from the cold and helped the search party find them. Of course I’ll bet there are just as many (if not more) who prayed equally as devoutly and still succumbed, so crediting your prayers for your rescue is specious reasoning. He found the ring with logic and tenacity, not through the will of god (unless one admits that everything that happens is part of the will of god, including murder, pornography, and diarrhea. As Roger Waters said “What God wants, God gets.”)

  36. Neat story, but to all the peeps brow beating the belief in God. Let me say this… At one time I aquired a hole or lesion in my skull the size of a nickel, (thats right now you can joke about that), it was thru my skull and Doc thought it was bone cancer.. I did not let him fill it in or operate and pain slowly subsided. After 6 months I said doc the pains gone, he said ok do another MRI, and wadya know it was gone. He said skulls dont heal like that! Your a miracle!.. Oh maybe I should mention my 2 sisters are / were missionaries and that they prayed… stick that in your skull cap.

  37. omigosh everybody! stop everything! Jaydog has an unprovable, unconvincing and highly implausible anecdote here that he says proves the existence of the particular god that he believes in! Gosh, you sure showed me not to criticize irrational beliefs!

  38. Jaydog- I’m glad the hole in your head healed.

    Allow me to introduce my friends, correlation and causation, and how one does not imply the other….

  39. I call bullshit. I believe a more likely scenario is the author bought another ring, identical to the original, and subsequently “found” the ring. I also hope most people would be more skeptical than it would seem is the case. Jeebus Crow, we’re gullible.

  40. I think this just proves that Gollum *could* have found the Ring in the Anduin centuries after it was lost by Isildur. ;-)

  41. Faith is like this:
    Envision someone living in a cave for their whole life. Say, thirty years.

    You talk to them on the phone.
    They ask you what “wind” is.

    You can have them blow on their arm, but until you actually FEEL it … there’s just no comparison.

    If you want it, you will look for it and you will find it. God is there. Feel the wind for yourself.

  42. As a fellow Christian, I can assure you that prayer/God’s power and so-called “natural” means like this guy’s skills aren’t in any way incompatible. As Christians, we simply recognize God’s sovereign rule over all of those things, and our dependence on him. I have similar stories that I’m sure atheists could pick apart–cynicism will stop at nothing–but in which I recognized a power beyond me at work. That’s all he’s saying.

  43. I find it amusing, objectively speaking how this has polarized people on both sides. To me the amazing thing about everyone’s reactions isn’t the vitriol between “God” or “Not-God” but rather so few people’s ability to simply say “He found it, good for him and his wife.”

    The sad thing about humans is that it seems as if we’re hardwired with the inability to be truly neutral and accepting.

  44. in other news… a spokesperson for Peter Jackson reveals that the original One Ring was in fact lost during filming in New Zealand. Elijah Wood lost the ring while relaxing at a beach near Wellington. Not wanting to ruin the film, New Line flew in a look-alike replacement and kept the whole situation hush-hush.

  45. Seriously, some people just give athiests a bad name.

    So what he mentioned god in his story? good for him, i am glad for his faith.

    Just because i do not share his faith doesnt mean he is not entitled to have it.

    feeling sick or ill or feeling sorry for him are all reactions are pretty much the same reactions that you accuse religious people of having about being an athiest. I find this to be the case especially in the US where you cant just accept people. your either for or against god.

    its a pity. its not your choice of buddy is christian or muslim or nothing, so just let it slide?

    gahh athiests like you give regular folk who believe in the live & let live idea’s a terrible name

  46. 2 years ago in Canada we were playing frisbee and I felt something leave my hand (other than the frisbee) but didn’t give a thought to it. A few minutes later I saw some fellows with metal detectors in the water and asked what they were looking for. They said, “coins and rings”. Immediately I looked at my and and sure enough it was gone. We looked with but didn’t find it.
    The next night after work We went back armed with a rake and snorkel mask. The metal detector guys were also there still looking for their hidden treasure. they said, “good luck” I am also a Christian and beleive in prayer. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me. About 15 minutes of “raking” I was about to turn directions and thought I should look on the rake. Sure enough, on the last tine of the rake was my ring!
    Only believe! Your heavenly Father loves us more than we can understand.

  47. Let’s assume that a higher power did help this gentleman find his wedding ring. What’s wrong with that? It’s still an entertaining story about a guy who found his wedding ring, and if he wants to believe it was because of prayer, it’s fine by me.

    That said, there are WAY more important prayers for God to answer.

  48. I live in the city in which Aleki lost and found his wedding ring. It appeared in our local paper at the time.
    Just a nice little local story.
    But what is bugging all you Americans about this story? I don’t understand your fury or scepticism about his beliefs. Aleki is Tongan, and most Pacific Islanders still have huge respect for their churches, which play a large part in community life. There are many, many Pacific Island churches in New Zealand for our large Pacific Island population. Read up about their faith before you open your big gobs and display your prejudice.

  49. It’s amazing to me the wide diversity of comments on blogs. What is it about the Internet that gives us the courage to write whatever we want: hateful, stupid, eloquent…or FIRST!

    P.S. Some people are religious, others are not. It doesn’t mean that any one person is any more or less logical than another.

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