Wonderful God

Author - César Muñoz
What a joy it is to give my life to such a wonderful God.

Thursday, we started our day with time in the Word and breakfast, then went to Hope Chapel to do lots of clothes sorting for their distribution hub. We have been working closely with a man named John John.

John John is a fantastic example of a Christ follower. He loves his community not just through acts of service (which he does with a joyful heart and smile) but through words of encouragement and how he loves people so abundantly. I have come to love and respect John John very much in the short time I've known him!

After lunchtime, we loaded up and went to Calvary Chapel to load up three pallets of meal boxes to deliver to the Hyatt in Lahaina for a luau they would host for people affected by the fires on Sunday. After loading up our van, I got asked to help a man carry groceries to his car, so I ran over quickly to help. Little did I know God had set another divine appointment between this man and myself.

When I offered a hand and grabbed the bags he had trouble carrying, he grumbled, "I can't believe I served eight years in the Marines, and I'm too damn old to carry my groceries by myself." To which I replied, "Everyone needs help sometimes. Thank you for your service, sir." We shook hands, and he introduced himself. His name is Craig. As we walked to Craig's car, I asked questions to spark some small talk and ended up talking for about 30 minutes.

He started by asking which island I was from and was surprised to hear I was coming from New Braunfels, Texas. He shared that he moved to Maui 27 years ago from the mainland and talked a little about his time in the Marines and upbringing as a child and young adult. He asked what brought me to Maui. I shared about Disciple Daily and what we were doing here. He was swift to encourage me and told me to pass the message to my team. Time flew by as we conversed, and eventually, one of my teammates flagged me down, indicating it was time to go. Craig said, "Keep doing your Jesus thing, Cesar, as long as you're enjoying it and helping people." Craig had shared his skepticism about religion, but before leaving him, I asked if I could pray over him, to which he gave an enthusiastic "Of course you can!" I laid an arm over Craig's shoulder and prayed, and afterward, we shared a hug. Then it was time to go.

It was a 45-minute drive to our next assignment. It was our first time seeing that western side of the island. It was hard to look at the homes of Lahaina that are now ash, but I think it was necessary to acknowledge the destruction that had taken place and understand better the people we were serving. There was so much hurt while driving through Lahaina. But you could see green growing in the ash, and that filled me with hope that good was coming from the hurt. I don't know if that's silly, but it brought me joy.

Later that night, we got dinner with Joel and his family, and what a blessing it was! So much laughter and joy came from the fellowship we shared with them. I will continue to pray for their family and farms, and I ask that you do the same!

Friday! This day started a little extra early so we could go to a coffee tasting! One thing you should know about me is I LOVE coffee and the process of making it. We went to a local roaster for a free coffee Friday! There, we got to try coffee roasted in Maui, and man, was it tasty! After some chat and coffee, we got to talk to the man behind this delicious dark cup of coffee. His name is Jordan. He shared about their coffee (Social Hour Coffee, check it out!) and how the fires had affected their farms on the island's west side. Once Jordan finished sharing his story, we had our morning reading in the Word and got to work!

Today was our first day with a new ministry at Napili Park! They work as a distribution hub similar to Hope Chapel. My job was helping people carry their items to houses or vehicles. While doing this, I got to be a listening ear for everyone I helped. Most of the stories were heavy and filled with sorrow and loss, but I noticed they mostly ended on a high note. They would end up talking about their hope for moving back home or thankfulness for their family or all the community coming to their aid. It was compelling and motivated me to work that much harder! They were such a blessing to me, and I don't think they had any idea. After lunch, it was back to Hope Chapel for more clothes sorting and helping with their distribution hub in any way they needed.

Later that night, I had the opportunity to babysit for a family hosting my friend Adam. I babysat with Keyshawn and Emma. Those kids were wild! They ran around all over, bumping into things, throwing things, and being kids. It was a much-needed change of pace for me and a surprisingly restful time. The kids were full of energy but adorable, and after lots of play, we ended the night watching a movie before Mom and Dad returned from date night.

Saturday! Aka, our day off and time to get some much-needed exploring done. The girls wanted a relaxing day at the beach, and the BOYS wished to go on the Maui-exclusive Adam Expedition tour! Adam planned to pick us up between 11 and 12 o'clock, so the guys and I had some time to kill. After breakfast, we decided to go exploring. We found many beautiful murals and some fun little shops. Adam got us around 11:30, and we were on The Road to Hana. The road was full of amazing views as we went winding around the roadways. We eventually made it to our first stop, Twin Falls. It was an easy hike and a beautiful first stop! We saw fantastic plant life. I climbed and jumped off a waterfall a few times. At this beautiful place, I had my "I can't believe I'm on a mission trip in MAUI" moment, filled with so much awe of this beautiful island God had crafted. What a wonderful God.

After Twin Falls, we were back on The Road to Hana. We were at the halfway point, where we made our final stop at a beautiful black rock beach, where we spent the next hour or so. I climbed over this beautiful, sharp landscape and even caught a few crabs in small tide pools. Sitting on those rocks, I admired how wonderfully powerful our God is in how the water crashed against the rough terrain. It was so mesmerizing how the water rushed over the rocks and back into the sea so rhythmically—truly a beautiful spectacle.

Adam dropped us off at a shopping center, where we got some Poke bowls and did some shopping. We eventually met with the crew and ate dinner at a local spot. Still, before that, Jauhmar and I went into a little shop to get some souvenirs. We met a very kind woman who gave us free necklaces with our purchases. We then ate some dinner and called it a night.

We went to church and then back to Hope Chapel to help at their distribution hub on Sunday. After some time there, we got shaved ice and did some sightseeing before calling it a day.

Monday, it was back to Napili Park. I got to help with sorting school supplies and clothes. I worked with a newlywed couple on their honeymoon who wanted to come to serve at Napili for their first full day in Maui. It was such a blessing and encouragement working with them that day.

Our last two full days were spent helping build a small village for people who would be moved out of hotels that Friday. We constructed large military-grade tents, compostable toilets & showers, and a garden area. This would house around 250 people.

It was surprisingly challenging. I'm used to doing physical labor, so that was the least of my concerns. I could feel the exhaustion from our trip catching up to me, feeling flustered over little things and being hard on myself over simple things. Even being instructed what to do next would upset me inwardly. Following the lead of some of the people was hard and didn't make sense at the time, but as a team, we got a lot of work done. I'm very proud of our hard work as a team.

As I bring this blog to a close, I am so so thankful for the opportunity to serve in Maui and want to acknowledge that we serve such a wonderful God. We saw many hard times and hurt on this trip, but we also noticed much more in healing. The people of Maui have captured my heart, and I pray to come back sometime in the near future, not just to serve but to see my newfound friends again.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it brought you joy and a glimpse of what God did through this team during our short time in Maui. The song for this post is "Wonderful God" by Montell Fish ft. Jonathan Ogden.

Cesar Munoz Jr
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