Maui Home League Outreach Leads to Changed Lives, New Corps
By Judy Lee –
Jesus explained that God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed. It is like what happens when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. It is the smallest seed in all the world, but once it is planted, it grows larger than any garden plant. It even puts out branches that are big enough for birds to nest in its shade.
The seed is planted…
Esther Juan’s good friend, Dominga Campos, invited her to attend a women’s Home League meeting in Kahului two years ago. Campos, an active member of The Salvation Army, was enrolled as a soldier in 1974 at the Lihue Corps (Kauai). Esther and Dominga met on Kauai just after Hurricane Iwa hit the island in 1982. The Juans stayed with the Campos family after the disaster until they moved to Maui. The families lost touch until 1993, when the Campos family moved to Maui. Dominga quickly became involved in the Kahului Corps and the Women’s Ministries program.
Esther, although very busy with work, raising two children, Jennifer and Fernando Jr., and helping her husband with the business, agreed to attend the meeting. To her surprise, she enjoyed the company of the other women, especially Major Bernadita (Bernie) Begonia. Esther saw in Begonia her image of a true Christian woman.
“Mrs. Begonia was always happy, and approached everything with a positive outlook,” said Esther. “She made everything we do fun. I was especially impressed with the attention and care Mrs. Begonia gave to the seniors and the field trips they provided. Many of the women have no way of getting around, so the transportation the Begonias provide is invaluable.”
The seed is watered…
Esther was invited to attend the Women’s Home League Camp held at Camp Homelani, on Oahu’s North Shore. She had been experiencing an unexplainable sense of discontent. After all, she had a wonderful family, a loving husband and her work. Perhaps the camp would be a nice break. She grabbed her swim suit and slippers and looked forward to relaxing in the sun and surf.
The retreat turned out to be a lot more than a quick vacation. Esther was surprised to find the four-day camp filled with workshops, speakers and lots of spiritual activities. She learned what it meant to be a Christian in every aspect of her daily life, and it changed her perspective on being a wife, a mother and a woman of the community.
The seed sprouts…
“It was a very emotional and life-changing experience,” stated Esther. “At the end of the week I found myself accepting Jesus Christ into my heart.” Filled with joy and a new inner sense of contentment, she returned home eager to share her experience with others. Esther called her sister-in-law, Aida, inviting her to the next Home League meeting.
Together they reached out to friends, neighbors, and co-workers to come and see what this women’s group was all about. Their numbers grew, and soon they had enough women from South Maui to establish their own Home League.The Kahului Corps began a South Maui outreach program and Esther opened her home to the women for Bible study. The group continued to grow, and quickly developed into an outpost under the leadership of Envoy Kimo Koons. In October 1996, the South Maui Outpost opened.
The seed spreads its branches…
Meeting space was desperately needed for the new outpost, and T.J., a Kahului corps adherent, came to the rescue. T.J. manages an apartment complex that has a recreation/conference center, pool and sauna. When he heard about the Home League’s plight he offered the facility. Now they could barbecue before their meetings and get in some swimming too!
More activities were added, and the women learned to paint, make leis, do flower arranging, hula and more. The young women learn from the seniors and enjoy their stories. The seniors learn new skills and crafts from the younger members and everyone finds support, friendship and love. The membership is as diverse as the community they come from, but with a common goal of sharing God’s love. In the middle of a stencil-painting class, a few members break out in song. Some of the others join in because they are singing in Hocano, a language of the Philippines. They laugh at the song and each other, with even those who don’t understand the words laughing, too.
The South Maui Outpost officially became the South Maui Corps in October 1997. Pastor Ed Gazmen joined the staff as program assistant and leads the weekly Bible study groups in addition to his other responsibilities. Many of the women work more than one job, have families and little time for themselves. They find great comfort in his words as he talks about the joy of the Lord and how he sustains them through the day.
In God All Things Grow…
The women have broken into smaller, manageable groups, meeting weekly at various homes. Esther says that the Home League is still growing, and in time hopes that their mission to serve the community better as Christian mothers, wives and role models will be shared by even more women in a facility that can accommodate all of them.
At the 1997 Congress held in Long Beach, Calif., Esther and Fernando Juan were enrolled as soldiers. From the little seed sown at a corps Home League meeting over two years ago, a strong tree with many branches has grown.