From the Desk of… Ohana (family)

by Judy Smith, Lt. Colonel

Worship the Lord in the
beauty of holiness,
Worship the Lord in the
spirit of praise,
Bow down before him,
Love and adore him,
Worship the Lord in
spirit and truth.

Boarding my flight to depart from the island of Oahu, Hawaii, I am awestruck by both the beauty of the land and the people. I have often thought of the Hawaiian ohana (family) and this last week I have been a part of it—what a wonderful experience it was!

My stay in Hawaii started in Kahului, Maui. A/Captains Mark and Kathy Merritt met me at the airport with the traditional lei greeting. How delightful—not only does a person feel welcome, but the fragrance is a constant reminder of something beautiful.

The Merritts—generous with their time on this Saturday afternoon—treated me to a tour around Kahului to see some sights and various Salvation Army facilities. We then drove along the coastline to Lahaina to see the outpost and thrift store and to meet Envoys Kevin and Vidella Nagasaki, in charge of the work in Lahaina.

Both Kahului Corps and Lahaina Outpost offer ministry to the homeless, in addition to regular corps programs. It took my breath away to see the positive effects of all the ministries and to realize how fully involved both sets of officers are in presenting Jesus Christ to all with whom they come in contact.

On Sunday afternoon, I joined the other cabinet members in Honolulu to prepare for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Divisional Review. Again and again we were showered with the beauty of Hawaii—the people, the fragrant flowers, the beautiful sunshine and warm breeze, the delicious food/sweet fruit, the blue/green sea, the blue sky, white clouds, the generosity, the genuine greetings of aloha and a wonderful expression of ohana. It rings in my head and heart that we were truly welcomed and cared for by God’s beloved children.

On Sunday, after returning to my home in California, I joined my own corps, Torrance, for our Sunday Holiness meeting and I was struck once again how wonderful it was to be among God’s people, worshipping him as a corps family and feeling his presence, his love and his hand of peace over all of us.

Yes, God created the blue skies and the deep blue seas and we can sense his presence there, surrounded by fragrant flowers and colorful birds, but he also can be found in cities, in traffic jams, in concrete buildings and sidewalks and even in the snow and ice that some parts of our territory are experiencing. God is not limited to sunny days and good times, but he is a God that surrounds our days and nights with love and guidance, truth and peace, and he is constantly drawing us to him to stay in tune with him.

Like the song says, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness…and in the spirit of praise.” He is a God who is waiting for us, not hiding from us. So whether you live on a beautiful island or in a small village, medium town or big city or somewhere in between, God is waiting for you and me to worship him and to find the beauty that surrounds us because of his great love for each of us. He loved us so much that he gave us the very best, so we could live full and rich lives and love and worship him in spirit and truth regardless of where we are.

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