Monthly Archives: April 2015

Maui Special Needs Youth With Big Hearts

All children can learnHowever, they taught me much more!

“…With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 KJV

Embraced by our new church family in Maui when we arrived in July, we settled into the parsonage with our two sons.  Wasting no time, I pursued employment by the Hawaii Department of Education. All positions had been filled for the upcoming school year in my areas of elementary and social studies so I offered to teach in special education, if possible.  I was honored to accept full-time employment of that with Lahainaluna High School.

Previously, I had subbed in special education in a full-time position where I met Louie and Robbie.  Louie was my energetic, vivacious young man who knew how to proceed through the locker-lined halls by taking a step, then banging both feet up on the lockers to the left, with another step before hurtling his feet to those on the right, back and forth, as he proceeded.  Robbie was dealing with traumatic issues at home and would have severe meltdowns at school. To calm him down in a chair, I would kneel behind him and just wrap my arms around while I soothingly spoke to him. These precious boys had engraved themselves on my heart.

Now with Cody, David, Becky and Mary Jane along with Ulu, my aide, the school year began.  All four had different mental challenges.  We enjoyed spending time with each other in a setting very unique  for instruction–a fully-equipped kitchen, a living room area plus the classroom .  Life skills were taught such as operating the washer, dryer and stove plus basic computer skills. Ulu, my aide, was also involved with public transportation and through her, our four students had access to the resorts in kitchen areas and with other supporting vocations there that might accommodate   interests after graduation.  Cody continued in regular gym classes.  Becky loved pecking away on the keyboard so was accommodated by being enrolled in a regular education typing class.

We continued the involvement with Special Olympics and were flown to the final competition in Honolulu to compete.  Ulu, Larry (my husband) and I plus the four students (with compliments of the state) took a fascinating trip. Our only expense of $18 a piece, flew us out of the Lahaina airport to the Big Island. Then we proceeded to the Atlantis Submarine to view fantastic aquatic life.  Land, sky and ocean travel were completed in one school day!

The uniqueness of that class with all their strengths and joys of learning has taught me that God designed each in such a splendid way. Their beauty of strength and character exhibited tenacity and joy in their individual journeys.

God, your heart is entwined within each heart of special needs youth.  Their radiance is manifested in smiles, in simple pleasures, in demonstrating their awesome personality in their individual journeys. In this fast-paced world, let me learn to manifest the simplicity of contentment wherever life finds me!

 

 

Maui Bound

MAUI Map    MAUI BOUND

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Sun, sand and surf for Larry and Ruth.  We were excited to be visiting the four major islands for rest and relaxation after sixteen years in the ministry for a vacation in Hawaii.  Our sons were staying with my parents and our church was left in capable hands during our absence.

Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island were beautifully bathed in tropical paradise.  When we arrived on Maui, however,  rain pelted the island everywhere generating bursting waterfalls, giant waves and minor flooding everywhere that we glimpsed through gray fog. Yet  the Living Water pulsated within Larry as a still, small voice quietly mentioned, “Some day this island is going to be your place of ministry.”

Two years later, Larry was invited to become part of the ministry team in Pukulani, Upcountry Maui.  This momentous decision would also need to be positively accepted with our boys, Jeff in eleventh grade and Chris in eighth.  How would they react to leaving their extended family with cousins their ages plus church, school and community friends they’d made?  For Jeff already in college prep courses, the reality of moving half a world away immediately hit hard as interrupted future goals collided in the rigors of transitions that could create chaos for his last two high school years. Yet within a very short time, Jeff said, “Who am I to interfere with the plan of ministry God has for us?”

For Chris, this was an easier decision to move half way around the world as he was the sports enthusiast, especially with baseball.  He had played on a team from the time he began middle school and made friends easily. This seemed to be more of an adventure with all kinds of water sports beckoning, as well.

And so we boarded a plane in Pennsylvania with several family members waving good-bye in the airport terminal as we began a journey that impacted each of the four of us.

Lord, it was difficult to leave our comfort zone, selling all we owned, tearing ourselves from loved ones. Yet I heard my husband say while we were 35,000 feet in the air heading towards our destination of ministry, full of unanwsered questions and an uncertain future, “I’ve never felt freer in my life as I am now!” God had called and we had answered…