by Janet Bailey
When we first got to Marshall Islands I was awe struck! Looking to both sides of me I could easily see the ocean. Majuro was small. Well, not so much small, but it certainly was thin. It would be paradise if you longed for dirty beaches, rundown shacks, children and people wandering rubbish filled streets, everyone staring at you.
Brokenness is apparent. Young children run wild on the streets with no one watching them. Young girls hold babies. Rubbish all along the road. Drunken men hang out by the green store.
There are a lot of people in Majuro. The area we lived in was literally house butted next to house. You could physically be close to so many people and not realize how broken the person next to you was unless you slowed down and took time to listen. This is a lot of how God spoke to me in the Marshall Islands. When I slowed down and really listened it opened up doors for bonds to be built. I really didn’t understand or see the deep brokenness at first. I just saw the dirt and the rubbish that filled the streets.
In the middle of feeling inadequate and not knowing what to say in a foreign land where we didn’t speak the same language God taught me that we are all bound in love. When I slowed down and focused on that and just listened, God opened up doors with people that really needed love who before were always really near but until I listened I didn’t know the struggle they faced.
God opened up a door for me to talk to one of the teens about drunkenness and how apparent it is in Majuro. My past experience came in handy as I had witnessed firsthand the drunkenness that plagues China Town Honolulu. Really I was just talking to this kid to encourage his friends to be careful because they are at risk… No one says “I want to be the drunk man wandering down the street” it just happens. I shared the sad things I’d seen but also stories of recovery and hope I witnessed through The Salvation Army Adult Recovery Center. It was a simple conversation but I found later that the boy I had been talking to may have needed to hear those stories more than I ever would have known.
Please pray for the teens in Majuro who so often start drinking young. Pray that they will stand strong in all the issues they have to face. Pray for my friend that he will have a sure place to lay his head and something to eat and that he doesn’t become another drunkard on the street. Pray also for all the men struggling with alcoholism in Majuro. They are broken and need to find God’s love and peace.
by Juan Ramirez
Crazy as it is, I’m here in Hawaii, still trying to figure why it hasn’t it hit me that I’m 2500 miles away from home! It has only been a few weeks but I can already see how God is changing me and is going to use me.
Two days ago we went to Maili beach on the west coast near Waianae. We went around talking to the homeless that live in the park and getting to know them. Emily and I spent almost the whole time speaking to this guy named Jr. He was cool but he couldn’t understand why we gave up a whole year to come to Hawaii to serve and love God and others. We ended up in some real deep conversation, talking about life and each other’s past. He explained how he helped many of the homeless on the beach get stuff they couldn’t get themselves.
It’s so awesome to see how this small community of people live and get along with each other, when we “home owners” sometimes cant even stand our neighbors. Simply put, as Jr. said, this is going to be a year of learning from each other.
I pray that all of our lives will be changed and that we will get to see the lives of others transformed by God.
by Jeff Walters
For the past month or so Blake, Kealoha and I have been volunteering at the Waianae Boys and Girls Club three days a week. Never would I have ever expected to see 11 year-old Maya here homeless on the famous beach called ‘Sewers’. The name suits it well, I figure – as I try my hardest not to breathe in through my nose. And I can’t imagine living here as she does, being so young and forced into such a rutheless lifestyle. Maya’s home consists of two tents built out of tarp and clutter while there is also dirty old carpet atop sand and even decorations. Make yourself at home.
Blake and I stand there with free tickets to the Thanksgiving festivities this Thursday at the Blaisdale. The wind is hot, typical Waianae, but I get the goosebumps as she greets us with a puppy in her arms.
“Maya! What’s up?” Blake says. He and Maya are good friends, where as I’ve maybe helped her with her homework once or twice. Maya has this kinda fake smile as if she’s either nervous or embarassed, but somehow we’re able to ease the situation by asking about the puppy. Sure enough she leaves the furry pup at our feet, enters the tent to the left, then returns with another. One after another she brings out these pups and with every dog I begin to grow both uncomfortably sad and inspired at the same time.
While Blake and I admire the show I begin to make a connection. Those kids at the club, the ones we help and play with – not all of them come from the same direction. Not all of these kids consider the club a burden after school. For some, it’s a retreat. And like I said, here and now I am uncomfortable enough to cry for this little girl, but then again the whole predicament sheds light on just how effective our volunteer work has really been. Just a few days with those kids a week, I figure, could amount to a better week or ever a better overall life… especially for a little girl like Maya. Homeless Maya.
Somehow, though unsettling, the scene instantly becomes heartwarming with a smile. This time it’s legit. She does it first. Maybe Blake said something nice or funny, I don’t know. I’d been shocked into silence from the get go, but nevermind my stunned state of mind. We smile back. And the hot dusty wind makes a whistle once more before we take leave after handing over five tickets for her family and also reassurance that we’re going to see her next week. Next week, I think, and three days in a row, with tons more passion for volunteering than we’d had since the beginning.
As Blake and I walk back to the van to meet with Kealoha, and to our even further surprise, another Boys and Girls Club girl waves to us, this one younger than the first. She must live here too. The mom walks the girl to the public restroom. I look at Blake, wanting to say so much – but I save the energy for another three days.
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