The Oasis

Author - Keyshawn Parkman

By the grace of God and the generosity of everyone who made it possible, we arrived on Maui. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here, even though the circumstance it took to get us here is sensitive. We've heard about the fires on Maui for some time from news sources and social media, but having an opportunity to serve up close is unbelievable.

Growing up, traveling was something I never really got to do with family, so this was a blessing in disguise. It's been difficult for me to actually let this experience sink in. As we've been here, we've worked relentlessly. It seemed like from the moment we got here, we've had non-stop movement. We've served at different churches, the first one named Calvary Chapel. I love Calvary for many reasons, and from the moment I laid eyes on the church it captivated me. It is beautiful. Palm trees surround the campus. But as great as the scenery was, the people were the most beautiful. Seeing everyone gather together and work in unison during a difficult time was amazing. One of the most beautiful moments was seeing all the trucks pull up and drop off loads of food and clothes. Seeing God work in abundance has been my favorite part so far.

The second church was Hope Chapel, where we moved food, sorted through miscellaneous items in various rooms, and sorted through meal boxes for needy families. It's been such an exciting experience, and my eyes have been opened in several ways.

Today, as we drove through Lahaina to drop off food, we had a chance to see the impact of the fire up close, and it wasn't easy. Trees burnt to the ground, pitch black and dry. Cars scattered across the road, burnt up and scarred. We saw houses burnt to the ground and dead grass everywhere. Driving through Lahaina was eye-opening and challenging for us. It reminded us of our purpose here.

Throughout our days, despite how rough it's been to see the devastation people have been put through, it's been such a joy to serve people and take away stress from them. One family we've grown really close to is a man named Joel and his wife, Jessica. They own one of the largest tomato farms on the island and have plenty of influence with the locals and the surrounding farmers. The devastation from the fires hit close to their farms, and they took a pretty significant loss. The first few days in between working at two churches, we helped them. Being able to work at their farm might be one of the highlights of my time here so far. We've genuinely made some good friends with this family. We helped Joel clear a terrace for new soil and lay two layers of wood chips, which helps with soil health. As someone who's always wanted to grow my own food, I've learned a lot from Joel, and I'm excited I had an opportunity to work closely with an actual farmer.

Near the end of our days, the highlight of my week comes as we typically head toward the beach to wash off our sweat. Don't get me wrong, we're here to serve others and work where God has put us, but I can't help but marvel at the ocean every time we head to the beach. It's genuinely been my favorite thing about this trip. The ocean is so vast and mighty. No one can tame, control, or explore it fully, yet God created and maintains the ocean.

Amid the chaos that's been happening on the island, being able to experience the presence of God the way that we have has been beautiful. Much like the story he's been writing here, His company amid this trip is what I call an Oasis. An Oasis is a pleasant or peaceful area or period during a complicated, troubled, or hectic place or situation.

There's a disaster here, but it seems like during this disaster, God has revealed Himself in ways we've never experienced before. Like what we've been reading in Job, God has a beautiful way of glorifying His name even in the worst situation.
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