I will be gone for the next week to Hana Maui Hawaii. For the past five years I have taken a missions trip there. We hold services and do community projects. The meaning of the trip is very personal to me, but I attempt to share some of it below. During my time in Hana I will be out of email contact. I am hoping I may be able to schedule some blog posts to appear while I am gone, but I am not certain it will work. I will be back on August 6th and will blog all about the experience.
In the gospels, when someone encounters Christ and experiences a miracle there is a desire to go and tell about it. The Samaritan woman at the well in John (John 4: 1-42) goes away telling people “He told me everything I ever did.”
I understand this impulse. After the evangelist prayed for me, my eye was healed, the threat of a brain tumor or pseudo tumor removed, I wanted to do something, to tell and share. When you are changed, there is no desire to stand still. This was not a religious conversion for me. I had maintained a personal faith since I was a child, but like a domino once touched causes a chain reaction, so this experience propelled one in me.
Growing up in a small town that was smaller than small, I had never had the opportunity to travel much. My brother and I would visit the boy I cared about in Boston and after I met Joan, I finally began to see the country, taking a camping trip out west, visiting her land and condos, touring the states for dog shows, but even I was surprised when after attending a service with the same evangelist who had prayed for me, I found myself going forward and asking about the trip they take each year to Hana, Hawaii on the island of Maui. He had talked about it during his service – how they take a group of teens over each year, hold services, do community projects, spread the gospel through word and deed. I was not a teenager so I asked if they took older people and to my surprise they said they would.
I had no idea what I was in for, I simply knew I wanted to go and so, I did and while Hawaii is beautiful the work is not easy. I am older than the kids I’m with and sometimes that is not only physically challenging, but lonely as well, but I also felt that domino effect on my life. It has been life changing. The Hawaiians touched me and I hope I’ve touched them. Spiritual callings are inexplicable things. I’m not sure they make sense outside your heart. You simply go. And, so I do, and so I am again.
I first went to Hana six years ago. I had a tee-shirt made up at a local shop that read “Hana Bound,” in hopes that I would connect with others at Logan airport who were part of our group. A bit of a nerdy thing to do perhaps, since the people I was hoping to hook up with were a group of teens that no doubt didn’t find this cool. Before this, I had never flown by myself, never even left from an airport as big as Logan and for a person who likes to make sure all her t’s are crossed, her i’s dotted, the uncertainty of heading off for this unknown place with little information, loomed large for me. I didn’t quite fit in. I met up with a group from Maine who spent a great deal of the time trying to figure out my age. I never look nor act as old as I am, and in this case, being so insecure about travel, I certainly must have created a bit of a puzzle for them. Here, they were 16, 17 traveling to Hawaii and there I was 40 doing the same. This would be one of many experiences in their years to come; this type of experience was coming to me very late.
My youthful appearance worked for me with the Hawaiian children and teens that upon learning my age took me around like a show-and-tell project asking everyone they knew to guess how old I was. Although a bit strange it broke the ice.
I could write, revise, and write again and never be able to capture the feeling standing in Hana Bay the night of a service. The sun sliding down the horizon, the sky turning gray then blue, the waves lapping and crashing the shores and the kids standing, heads raised toward the horizon praying. You cannot hear their words, just the music from inside and you are swallowed in the beauty and holiness of the moment. Enveloped in such color and water and sound, you feel part of the sacred and it is hard not to praise a God for all of it.
Last year, I did not go, although I have been four times before. Last year, I was too busy with work, changes at my school, the launch of my blog, the Writer’s Group I had joined. I thought I would not go this year, certain that my mom’s knee surgery would make it impossible. But her surgery was postponed and so I thought it worth a chance to contact the evangelist and ask, and once again I was surprised when the answer was “yes.” I had waited until they were almost going to ask. And, so I go.
And, it is not about religion. It never was in the gospels. It is about something that happened and it changed me and when that happens, you cannot keep still. Because I was going blind, but now I see….Such miracles demand action. It’s a chain effect.