A Rocky Road

Author - Keyshawn Parkman

Out of the entire trip to Hawaii, my favorite part was staring at rocks. You see, these weren't just any rocks. These were the black rocks from a beach on the Road to Hana. I sat on the rocks for a moment as time seemed to stop. I watched the waves crash violently against these rocks and realized just how beautiful and unique this view was.

God spoke to me on this beach. It seemed like the rocks represented our trip very well. These rocks were uneven, sharp, and uncomfortable to sit on. I had to tread carefully with each step to move forward. Likewise, our trip had a similar story.

During our day off, we headed on a tour of the road to Hana, and it'd be this day that God met me at this rocky beach. I expected to see black sand and a smooth beach with plenty of people. I wanted to rest at this black sand beach like we had done at the other beaches we went to, but that wasn't the case. In the same way, the crew and I had plenty of expectations about how we wanted the trip to pan out. We wanted to walk the burnt streets of Lahaina and help out with Samaritan's Purse. When we were setting up tents, we felt as if we could've been utilized more effectively. But God had other plans. He used us just how He needed to, and our most significant lesson is learning to be okay with not having our way.

I had difficulty climbing up these rocks, and it wasn't the beach I had expected to go to. I wrestled with my phone for a few minutes, trying to take a good picture before finally sitting silently and letting God speak. I heard him say to my heart as the waves crashed violently against these black rocks. He asked me, "My son, look at how the waves crash against the rocks. Do you think this happened by accident, or was it part of my plan for creation?" I sat for a few minutes and wrestled with that question. Part of me had maybe believed that God intended for all waves to roll smoothly off the sand like most beaches I was used to, but I
remembered God's sovereignty at that moment. He was in control of everything. I replied to Him, "You meant for this to happen," and I heard Him speak to my heart, "Exactly!"

One of the first difficulties we encountered was working at Napili, a distribution hub toward the west side of Lahaina. A few of my friends and I ran into obstacles communicating between our checkout section and the area where our customers checked in. The hub desired to track everyone's address so they would have a record of who was coming into their hub to "buy" food. The food was free, but to get it, they needed to confirm residency in Lahaina. Once they checked in with their address at the front, it became much easier for us to pull that address when checking them out. The only problem was some people were skipping the line at check-in and walking through without a registered address, which held up the line.

Aside from technical difficulties, being able to speak to the locals was a challenge in itself. We could see the exhaustion on some of their faces; their eyes drooped, and some wore worn-out clothes. Details like these brought our countenance down, but we relied on God to give us the strength to push forward.

Another rocky situation happened towards the end of the trip as we found ourselves building tents for a group of people whose addresses weren't recorded before the fires broke out. They lived in hotels in Lahaina, and Friday morning was the last day they'd be able to stay there, and they had no other option. A group of volunteers, including the 7 of us, gathered on a blank plot of land and began setting up military-grade tents. As the first few tents popped up, tensions began to rise, and this is where things got rocky. From miscommunication to pride checks from strangers, from getting bossed around to feeling like we could've been more productive, we were most challenged the last two days of our trip. Our exhaustion began to set in, and we became more frustrated as time passed. It seemed as if we ran into bump after bump after bump.

Through this, I found out that God designed the rocky roads as well as the smooth beaches. There's beauty in them both. Whether or not we actually enjoy the road is up for question. Still, after my experience in Maui, I saw the Glory of God more on this trip, in the middle of disaster and devastation, than I ever have before. He taught me that beauty isn't always in the smooth sand; sometimes, you must climb a few rocks.
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