Arriving on ‘The Big Island’
This Saturday marked the beginning of a new adventure for 10 of us from Sheridan – some experienced mission trip goers and the other half of us complete newbies. At about 3:30am our group huddled up in the wee, cold hours of the morning and departed the church parking lot headed for the Omaha airport. Our 7am flight was headed for LA with a final destination of Kona, Hawaii. After about 12 hours of travel that included some reading, movies, snacking and napping, we all safely arrived on ‘The Big Island’ on Saturday afternoon. Greeted by one of our Habitat for Humanity hostesses, we squeezed ourselves and our luggage into a 15 passenger van, and headed to our condo at Paniolo Greens. (Fun fact: Our group has now increased our Hawaiian vocabulary to a total of three words. Aloha. Mahalo. And Paniolo – which we now know means “cowboy” and explains why all Stop signs also say “Whoa” around our housing site. This also means we can now successfully meet, greet and thank a cowboy! hehe) After getting settled in, the group headed to a nearby spot to eat and check out a few of the local shops before heading to bed. With a four hour time difference between Hawaii and Nebraska, it’s safe to say the crew was asleep by 7:30pm.
Enjoying the pew with view – heading to worship in Hawaii
Our first full day on the island was Sunday. And what better way to kick-off the week together than by worshipping with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. About 30 minutes from where we are staying, we attended service at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity. To say we had a ‘pew with a view’ would be an understatement. The church itself was nestled in a residential area and overlooked the ocean. The church sanctuary was lined with windows that filled the room with light and air.
Equally as beautiful was the service itself. The group felt like the service’s message and celebration really reflected what we came to do this week – which is to let our light shine! We sang songs like ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and also listened to scripture readings including the gospel of Matthew 5:14-16. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” It almost felt like a comforting, pep rally for the week to come.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re faithful, obedient and even daring (like willing to come on a missions trip, especially if you haven’t before), then God loves to reward you with surprises and circumstances that you absolutely know only He could make happen? That’s just what happened to us on Sunday. At Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, they have a warm, Hawaiian way of welcoming visitors by providing them with a lei made of yarn before they enter the church. It’s a great way to greet folks, like ourselves. During the service, as we were wearing our leis, it was easy to look around and spot other visitors as they were also wearing the leis. Well, at the end of the service on Sunday, Pastor Leslie asked the visitors to stand up, share their name and where they were from. Out of the full sanctuary which held about 175 people, 6 or 7 couples stood up, stated their names and announced their home cities or states…North Dakota….Minnesota…Washington….. Finally, two more couples across the aisle stood up, and stated they were visiting from…..Lincoln, Nebraska! Wow is all we could say. What are the odds? Who knows. And frankly it doesn’t matter, because with God you don’t need odds; He’s ready to surprise you time after time. (We also learned that even Pastor Leslie lived in York, NE for a time). One thing is clear – us Nebraska Lutherans are dedicated church goers. 🙂 Their entire congregation was extremely welcoming and their musicians were both talented and gracious for the work we had come to do on the island.
Embracing the culture and seeing the land
After church on Sunday, our group spent the rest of the day learning more about the land’s rich history and dynamic landscape. Did you know that although ‘The Big Island’ is only 95 miles long and 80 miles wide, it experiences 11 of the world’s 13 possible climates? Safe to say, we think we saw them all here already.
We spent much of Sunday viewing sights like the black sand beach. As the youngest of the Hawaiian islands, some of its shorelines have not yet matured into white beaches. Here’s a photo of the group dipping their toes into the black sand.
Our travels also took us to see the island’s famed volcanos. We saw the fuming vent and bubbling lava from Halema uma u at the Jagger Museum. We also viewed the stunning landscape from the beautiful Hawaii Volcano House and even had a chance to walk through lava tubes. Did you know lava tubes were a thing?
We’ve also made the most of our time by visiting the ocean, as well as the the scenic outdoors including the Waipio Valley lookout.
Preparing our hearts
A little more than 48 hours into our trip, and we have to admit that we have already had our share of Hawaiian treats including everything from luau bread to banana bread, from macadamia nut cookies to pineapple ice cream, and from french toast to pancakes… and more pancakes. This trip’s purpose, however, is not focused on us nourishing our bodies. It’s focused on us nourishing the hearts and homes of others by acting with a servant’s attitude.
We want to thank you for the prayers that have already blessed our team with – including our drivers, navigators and back-up guides. 🙂 Today starts our first official work day at the building site. We simply ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we look to ‘let our lights shine’ this week. Mahalo!
Written by Team Member: Brie Pinnow