Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them (Isa. 42:10 NIV).
Guided by this Scripture, the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division embarked on a huaka’i, which means “journey” in Hawaiian, particularly a travel experience with a defined purpose. This excursion, held over Labor Day weekend, united 245 Salvationists from 12 corps at Camp Homelani on the North Shore of O’ahu for a family gathering.
Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder, Western Territorial Leaders, spiritually steered the group, encouraging them to remember the past and not argue with ancestors—looking back can help one determine one’s future course.
“Christ came to fill suffering with his presence and change our perspective,” Kenneth G. Hodder said.
His listeners understood—keep on paddling, despite hardship.
“Overall, the messages were filled with personal stories, humorous antidotes and sincere encouragement,” said Kaneohe Corps Officer Major Elizabeth Welch.
This journey was not only for the soul; minds and hearts were also challenged. Workshop topics included worship, health, and finances. Jon Nicol, the founder of worshipteamcoach.com, led a four-hour intensive for praise and worship team members.
In addition to the hours spent learning, campers had time to simply enjoy Camp Homelani. Some sat under the plumeria trees to talk story and others headed to the beach to catch some waves. Lots of ono food and special snacks, like shave ice, were available. Many enjoyed building and racing boats at the Raingutter Regatta.
Attendees participated in cultural worship with ukulele and hula, and sang songs in the many languages of the division.
“All of this culminated with a glorious Sunday service.” Welch said. “Several people committed to membership by becoming junior and senior soldiers. The altars were filled and the glory of the Lord was made manifest as we cried out for his presence.”
Kaneohe Corps Young People’s Sergeant Major Cyndie Oneha testified about the camp to her corps the following week.
“This experience was so meaningful for me and my family,” Oneha said. “The Commissioner was such a good speaker. The stories he told really stuck with me… I was so encouraged.”
Reporting by Major Elizabeth Welch