Anna Kaanga, born and raised in Hawaii, wears different hats as the administrative assistant and office manager of the Religion, History, and Political Science departments, all while making time for her 10 children and husband.
During her devotional on Oct. 4, Kaanga gave BYU-Hawaii a look into her life. She focused on inviting students to show and feel the love of God even while going through trails and tribulations.
Kaanga came to BYUH when it was still known as the Church College of Hawaii. As a student, she met her husband and started a family of 12 kids. She said she always wanted a large family and “sometimes [my children] make foolish decisions, but you love them anyway and you love them first.”
In her devotional address, Kaanga said, “My little grandmother gave birth to 17 children. My husband’s little grandmother gave birth to 21 children. My husband is one of nine children, but I’m only one of four. I had so much fun growing up with cousins all around though, that I wanted to have a large family so the kids would always have someone to play with. I was aiming for 17, but I thought 12 was a great number, and because there are only 12, I get to have their pictures in a clock on my kitchen wall. I am so happy to have 8, 9, and 10 o’clock here with me today.”
On her 25th anniversary, Kaanga said her children gave her a clock with their baby pictures on the hour marks, and it hangs in her kitchen today. She said guests would come over to her house and would ask her children what photo was theirs, and they would reply, “I’m 7 o’clock,” or “I’m 6 o’clock.” Kanga said she lost two of her early children but still has their faces on the clock.
At first, Kaanga said she did not want to speak at the devotional, hoping the invitation to talk would eventually fade away. She said she compared it to a small General Conference and didn’t feel she would be capable of speaking. However, Kaanga said something happened one week before the deadline of her speech submission.
After staying all night at the office contemplating about a topic, Kaanga said it all came flooding to her. “I don’t know why I need to say this, but somebody needs to hear it,” she said.
Kaanga thought of the title “Because He Loved Us First” from a favorite passage of hers in John 4:19-21, which reads, "We love him, because he first loved us. . . And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also." Kaanga said she loved the passage after hearing it spoken at a funeral once.
After her devotional, Kaanga said she received emails of people who were going though similar experiences she shared from her devotional talk, and they expressed their gratitude to her for sharing them.
Kaanga said she was very nervous before speaking, but after having received a blessing from her husband and a blessing from the Lord, all was made well. “It’s like going into the eye of the storm very calm…unlike anything I have ever felt before,” she said.
Kaanga said she loves her job. “You should have a job you love to come to,” she stated. She said her favorite part of the job was the people and all of their different personalities.
The family first environment of her job helps her stay focused, Kaanga said. If someone needs time for family, they are able to take time and not have penalties, she said.
“I am always happy to learn something new,” said Kaanga, when asked about why she felt the Lord placed her in her current position. “The Lord has put me into positions to learn things and I’m amazed at how much he trusts me to learn the things he’s taught me.
“Love a lot. Trust in the Lord. Trust you are where he wants you to be, and learn whatever you can . . . it’s all for your experience,” Kaanga said she advises students. She said she always places a high priority on making sure she loves people first.
For more information on Kaanga, visit https://history.byuh.edu/faculty/office_staff/anna_kaanga.