Heavy Hearts, but Hope Remains

Author - Sydney Gunn
It's week three and we are serving in Maui, Hawaii! After a 2:45 am wake-up call and two long flights, we made it to Maui. Having been to Maui before, my first reaction was the severity of the drought that is occurring here. Years ago it was completely lush, with bright and happy greens everywhere you looked. Today that is not the case, in many ways the dry fields remind me of the plains of Wyoming, full of dry brush tossing to and fro in the wind. I quickly connected the dots in realizing why the fires and the storm brewed so easily.
Our first four days on the island have included working in food pantries, distribution hubs, and with a local tomato farmer. In a matter of four days, we have covered many areas of the island with our efforts. Each town we went to felt heavy. Emotions are waging as uncertainty, confusion, and questions are still of plenty. The whole island has been affected by the disaster. What most of the media is not sharing is that Maui is a tight-knit community and all hands are on deck here. Because Maui is highly fueled by its tourist economy, it is very hurt by the lack of tourism to the area. Currently, over 15,000 rental cars are sitting in dirt parking lots at the airport because the Governor made a statement to stop visiting the island. While we can't always affect how our leaders lead, we as the people do have an opportunity to step up.
On our first full day, we went to help a tomato farmer we met through one of our friends at Calvary Chapel. Emma and I chose to ride with our new friend, Coleen, who heads up the relief team at Calvary Chapel in the drive up to their farm. We climbed into her rickety car, that she referred to as a 'Maui cruiser.' It shimmied as we drove and she said, "Have faith in the Lord ladies - no fear". I immediately thought, 'Oh boy.' I was always taught to never get in the car with someone you don't trust. Did I trust this lady? Did I trust the Lord? At that moment I had to choose the faith she was displaying. Coleen deeply trusted in the Lord and pure joy was on her face in the midst of the chaos going on in her world. I continued to ask her questions about her story, specifically what led her family to Maui. Coleen proceeded to tell me the story about how God brought her family to the island. She never wanted to move to Maui, yet her husband knew it was a call from the Lord for them to do so. They have been on Maui now for over 20 years. Her story was a complete example of what it looks like to have faith in the Lord. And after spending only a short amount of time with her, I could tell God was using her in mighty ways as a result of her faithfulness. Over the last few days, I've been holding onto that story, as a reminder of who our God is, along with the love and power He has. It has been a testimony to me in the midst of such mass destruction.
After our ride up to the farm, we started schlepping hundreds of planter boxes back and forth to this ravine. Eventually, the Lord started prompting me to ask one of the farmers some questions. All the while I was under the impression that this woman was a believer, and as far as we know that is not the case. Our third day also consisted of serving this family of farmers. A few days later we had to opportunity to have dinner with them. While we do not know whether or not they believe in the Lord, what I do know is each interaction with individuals can plant seeds of the Lord's love in their hearts. What you do in life makes a difference. Your presence and love for others can always make an impression.
On the fourth day, we helped out at Hope Chapel's distribution center. We took time sorting clothes that had been donated. It was so encouraging to me to see the help from the mainland coming over to the area. It was a quick reminder for me of how we can always be serving in these circumstances, even when we are far away. A small clothing contribution can go farther than you realize.

We drove through the fire zone for the first time. Our team was taking readymade meals to the Hyatt Regency in Kaanapali. The car grew very quiet as we approached the area. You could feel the heaviness in our hearts. I quickly realized the huge tragedy going on and why so many have a long road ahead of them. Currently, they are housing all those who lost their homes in the hotels in Kaanapali. Residents will unfortunately have to leave by October 14th. Time is ticking away quickly and efforts are needed by all.
It's been a tiring four days, but nothing more exhausting than those who have been affected by the fire. Throughout our week nothing has gone unnoticed, and each of our efforts have been little droplets of Christ's love. We have had the opportunity to show the light of Christ and maybe even be a part of the "but God" moments in someone's life story. God is at work here in Maui, please be praying for our opportunities to continue to show the love of Christ and for endurance for our team!
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