Glory In the Ash

Author - Emma Stanley

I had absolutely no clue what to expect coming out to Maui with the team this week, but what we've been able to do so far will forever remain with me.

Today, we went to Hope Chapel to help sort through donations sent from Las Vegas. Adam had been sorting the day before and warned us what to expect, but I had no clue just how discouraging it would be to sort through these donations—trash piled into boxes, soiled clothing covered in stains. Holes and pet hair littered much of the clothing.

I hadn't realized how much it weighed on me until I found a huge box labeled "kids clothes." I opened it up, and everything was brand new! There were onesies, bibs, lots of socks, blankets, and even a diaper bag that looked brand new. That was just what was visible on the top! That box, I'm certain, found its way to me, for the Lord to encourage me to keep going. This box of brand-new baby clothes brought me so much hope. It showed me that some people understand and truly want to help the hurting of Hawaii by giving not what they can but the best they can! After that, I kept moving, thanking the Lord for the moment to rest in His goodness.

Midway through my next box, Arlie and Jon Jon asked one of us to volunteer for something blindly. As we returned to the warehouse, Jon Jon explained that he needed me and Arlie to talk with people waiting in line to go through the distribution center, to provide the ministry of presence and pray with anyone who might need it, which was everyone. I was nervous. I had yet to talk to the locals directly affected by the fire, and I didn't know what to expect or how to comfort them, especially as an outsider.

I said a quick prayer and went to get my name badge. I began introducing myself, apologizing for the wait, and asking what brought them to the center. But I didn't know how to go further than that. It wasn't until I approached a young gentleman and asked him how he was doing that it finally clicked. He explained he was here with his mom; they were from Lahaina and had lost everything in the fire. They had been granted a stay at a condo for six months. He was hoping that they might be able to stay longer. I hadn't yet put faces to the horror stories I had heard. It was so hard. I wanted to tell him it would be okay, "God is in control, and it will work out." Coleen's words from the day before rang in my head. "All they need is someone to sit, listen, and cry with them. It's not okay and it won't be okay for a long time, so don't try to minimize their pain."

I was at a loss for words, not knowing how to respond to his grief and loss. So we prayed. From then on, when I didn't have the words to say, I asked if I could pray. God brought peace and comfort in those prayers, and by the end, it was hard for me to step away, to not listen and pray and hold onto these hurting souls.

Alas, we had more work to do. From Hope Chapel, we went to Calvary Chapel to load 300 ready meals into a van to take to the Hyatt Regency. I hadn't known that it was the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina, and we were about to drive through the burn zone. We had only heard about Lahaina but had not yet seen what was on the island's west side. As we were driving, Adam pointed out the first signs of the fire. Not a word was spoken as we took in the devastation. The damage was nauseating. Those people I had just held onto had been here. Their homes are now ash. Their lives were forever changed.

Driving through the burn zone, we reached the hotel. It was a night and day difference. We had gone through rubble and black ash to get to this beautifully lush green hotel with not a speck of ash anywhere to be seen. The contrast was infuriating to me. These people with little had lost everything, and this millionaire resort was unscathed. I was so upset and so confused, but I finally understood what I had heard so many times just an hour before. How was this fair? Why did this happen? How is this okay? Why wasn't something done before the fire spread like it had?

There are so many unanswered questions. As I pondered these, I was brought back to Job. A righteous man, having done nothing wrong, had everything taken from him not because of his own doing but because it showed the glory of God. These fires, this pain and suffering, are not from any man's actions but an opportunity from which we can bring God glory. That is why we are here. That is what we can do about this, not from our strength but by the strength God provides us.
Posted in

No Comments