Expect The Gospel To Be Fruitful

Author - Emma Stanley

This week was much like the last and yet so very different! We worked with Hope Chapel and Napili Noho like last week but added Maui Rapid Response to our lineup. I started to get comfortable with our 'routine' of waking up, doing Bible reading, heading to our morning project, and then, at some point, heading to Hope and finishing the day at the beach.

Well, that all changed come Tuesday, our first of two seemingly endless days with Maui Rapid Response. We were volunteering to build a kind of town for those unsheltered in Lahaina before the fires had started. With not much guidance other than "look around for something to do," we got to work. We were given kits that held military-grade tents and were shown the general area where they wanted them placed.

The empty lot we were working on had to be ready by Friday at 12 p.m. to receive around 250 people. That seemed impossible as we struggled to read the instructions and assemble even one of the 28 tents. We finally started making progress, only for new fire codes to be brought to light. Not to mention that the wind had picked up, making assembly that much harder. It took over half of the volunteers to move one of the tents out from one of the windy spots and put it in a place up to the fire code. We then had to move five more tents already staked into the ground. Man, was it frustrating building those tents? We were exhausted and about done being yelled at by the Aunties running the operation. We were being given conflicting instructions every five minutes. At this point, I looked around, hoping someone would put me in charge because I was sure I could lead this group of volunteers better than the Aunties. It took me a while to look beyond myself and see how foolish that was.

After the first permanent tent was set in place, I was grouped with some ladies to put the floor into the tent. We tried three times before someone finally gave us the instructions for the flooring. The ladies and I were reprimanded for taking as long as we did, even after we were repeatedly fed the wrong information. I was beyond discouraged. Then, during our lunch break, a tent flew into the wind and was thrown around like a paper sack. Keith, Jauhmar, Cesar, and I ran to grab a hold of the thing. Half of the tent's legs had snapped—an hour of work down the drain. Morale was at an all-time low, and all I could do to keep from giving up was cry out to the Lord for strength and humility. I began to tell myself, "I am not the one given the responsibility of setting up the tent city. I don't have all the information, but my Heavenly Father set these people and this challenge in my path. So who am I to question what He has divinely placed in front of me?"

We left shortly after that, and I was relieved, thinking this would be my last time at this place. I was wrong. Wednesday comes around, and we head back to the tent city. This time, it was much more organized, and there were twice the number of volunteers. However, as I looked around, I realized apart from our team, only about eight people had returned to help. This was not a surprise to me with how poorly things had gone the day before, but it made me nervous only to have a few returners who knew what they were doing. Regardless, we grabbed our gear and awaited instructions.

That's when they split us up. Women were now only allowed to put in the floors, sweep, mop, set up cots, and make everything pretty. Sydney and I looked at each other in recognition that today was gonna be harder than yesterday. We spent an hour and a half sitting around doing what felt like nothing, even after we were told today would be the fastest-paced day. We needed to put in 26 floors and stage 27 tents. I was seeing red. I was so frustrated and struggling to follow what I was told and not do what I felt was much more constructive. It wasn't until we sat down much later that evening that I realized how prideful and arrogant I was in my thinking and actions.

I was here to serve, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and do so in a way that glorifies the Lord. I had not done that today. I had spent my morning resentful, my afternoon distracted. I was supposed to be praying for those going through Hope Chapel's distribution center, and the evening I spent complaining of how poorly I felt I had been treated and how poorly I felt they were running operations. I was ashamed. I wasted my last day in Maui moping around and feeling sorry for myself. I was bitter towards the Rapid Response team and seemed to have no way to fix it. I wish I could say that I made it right, that my heart changed right away, and that I was able to redirect it back to service. That just wasn't the case. It wasn't till later when we were sitting in on the young adults' night at Hope Chapel, that I looked back on the day. I was able to find joy in the seeds that were planted throughout the day.

Before I left for this trip, my pastor started a series on Romans. His sermon before we left for Maui was on Romans 1:7-17. He spoke of how it is not the planter who has control of whether the seed sprouts, but we must have faith that God would take that seed and use it in His timing. We very well might never see the effects of the seeds planted, but that does not mean that God is not working. Keith reminded me of that last night. Although we may never see the fruits of the work, the work we do is no less important than if we had the opportunity to stick around and see the impact. We must continue on in faith. That's what the Lord has taught me on this trip. The impact we have, the work we've done, whether visible and recognized or not, is not counted as loss if we continue on in faith.
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