"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35
This verse was used in the Easter message at Pearlside Church, but to be honest, I can't even remember how this verse related to the sermon! It's not that I wasn't paying attention, it's just that as soon as this verse flashed across the screen my mind immediately recalled the events from the day prior and the truth of this verse flooded over me.
Since the beginning of the year, Briana, founder of Anchored Apparel Hawaii, and I began seeking a more kingdom purpose through our businesses. Then in March she had an encounter with a man holding a sign at a stop light asking for help. That random encounter prompted a vision of using proceeds from her business to do meal outreaches and to keep care packages in car so she could bless the houseless community if and when God put them in her path.
Well let me tell you, when this girl gets a calling she answers and she answers quick! A couple weeks after sharing her vision she asked me if I would want to help put together bentos for an outreach on Easter weekend. With a brave and enthusiastic smile, I said "SURE!" Truthfully, I've never done a houseless outreach before and I was a little afraid. I didn't know what to expect, who we'd meet, what condition they'd be in. All I knew was that I didn't want to discourage the vision and heart that God had instilled in her. I checked in on her a few times to see what I could help with and got in touch with Honolulu Kitchen who I had seen provide meals to the community. With their advice, we ordered a large pan of boneless fried chicken and fried saimin. (Note: Their website is down, so if you need a catering menu just call them and they'll text it to you!)
The Saturday before Easter we carefully packed each bento and some brownie treats with the help of her mom. We had enough food for 34 full bentos complete with canned juice, brownies, color activities made by A&A Kreations, for any families with kids, and even fruit pouches for babies who couldn't eat the table food we were handing out. Briana thought of everything!
We prayed over the food, packed everything in our truck and headed down to Blaisdell Park, which is known to be a place where families and people in need gather and stay. When we got there, we saw tents! But not camping tents. They were event tents for early Easter celebrations or other festivities that were to go on that day. We walked down to the water, at the bike path's edge, to see if we could find anyone in need, but there was no one. We walked back to the car with our heads hanging a little low and made the decision to drive around Pearl City to bring meals to anyone we could find.
As we were consolidating our things into one vehicle we saw a man pushing a shopping cart filled with his belongings. We excitedly (and me a little nervously) ran over and offered him our very first meal, which he gladly accepted! He took a look at the brownie and turned the can over to read its label and exclaimed "brownies! My favorite! Iced tea! My favorite!" We couldn't have asked for a better first interaction. It really set the mood for the rest of the day.
We drove up Waimano Home Road and met a man at the park. We drove back down and met an individual near the 7 Eleven and hit each nook of the bike path. Before we left Pearl City we gave out 10 meals. We still had 24 meals so we decided to drive to Waipahu. As we were driving around, we figured we'd have a lot of meals left over so actually began making plans to donate them, but as we made our way around we met many individuals who willingly accepted the meal. Nearing the end of our full circle of Waipahu, we had just four bentos left. We pulled into a parking lot to check one last spot and there was no one, but as we were leaving the lot we noticed a couple of men under a bridge. We pulled off to the side and asked if we could bless them with a meal. They said there were three of them there, and as we were handing out the meals another man rode up to us on his bike and asked if he could have one too, our very last meal. Who could've planned that better? I took it as a sign that we met everyone God wanted us to.
While in Waipahu, there were some areas that didn't allow us to park right near the individuals we wanted to bless, which required us to walk. While on foot we met some great people and had some great conversations. Some of those we met were houseless but some were just interested in what we were doing. Before I was married and had kids I used to go on annual mission trips with ARMS to the Philippines, Every year they would advise us to "bring the mission home". I volunteered with different organizations, doing all kinds of ministry; prison, rehab, the welcome table at church! But this was the first time I felt like I succeeded in bringing the mission home. As we were walking I told Briana that I felt like I was in the Philippines again.
God opened my eyes that day. Prior to Saturday I was jaded, not looking for or even realizing how many people were out on the streets and if I did see them I was scared... scared of what I didn't know. We felt that we were being a blessing to them, but it really was them being a blessing to us. My heart is so full.
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