Seniors Appreciation Night

It was a weekend I will not soon forget. Just the previous night, I was out with a bunch of twenty- and thirtysomethings celebrating my cousin’s bachelor party. Then Saturday afternoon rolled around, much sooner than I would have liked, and I had to prepare to serve senior citizens. My day and night could not have been more different.

I had only a few hours of sleep before my alarm went off, telling me to get up. A part of wanted to stay in bed, but I really had no say in the matter. I had to re-up my strength to prepare for that special day, for it was a day that would feature a full-blown event to celebrate the wonderful and ever-young grandpas and grandmas of our church. No matter how tired my body was or would be, my spirit would be revitalized at just the thought of the privilege I had to serve this amazing group of people, a group that holds a special place in my heart.

A couple from our church, Drawlon and Daisy, hosted the event at their home. They, along with several adult volunteers, would prepare everything from the food to the decorations to even the surprise entertainment of the night (hula dancers!). I would be simply assisting with whatever it was that they needed. That day, several of the adults ran around to cook, coordinate, decorate, serve, and bless the twenty or so seniors that appeared before us.

From an outsiders’ perspective, it is easy to conclude that the work that went into the event paid off. The food was spectacular–it was like something straight out of Top Chef–the games and entertainment were top-notch, and the fellowship was meaningful. And I could spend hours just writing on the details of those things alone.

But it ultimately wasn’t about the show. It was about seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing the laughter come from people who have learned to appreciate every second, every breath of life. It was about experiencing the joy of expressing to them their value and worth as individuals and what significance and meaning they add to our world.

The seniors’ impact can be traced to the very origins of Lifesong Community Church. When I first joined the church about five years ago, the seniors made up about half of our church. It was them and a bunch of young families. There were no young singles, no one my age. Though I was initially discouraged, I stuck it through because I felt it was my place. It didn’t take long for me to learn each and every senior by name. Auntie Kai. Auntie Mae. Uncle Ken. Carole, Earl, Hach, Wanda, Linda, and Cherry. They would welcome me every week with warm and genuine smiles. They would ask me if I could use some prayer. And each time they asked, I knew they meant it.

It’s funny when I hear that some of these seniors feel and think they are useless. Sure, they might feel less energetic and experience more aches and pains. But these are also the same people who would be folding the programs, putting up chairs, setting up the snack table, and greeting church newcomers. They tell me they are useless and I tell them that Lifesong would not be what it is today without them–the seniors are the backbone of our church.

I’m glad I didn’t go anywhere else. I’m glad I didn’t bail on those days when the loneliness of my journey started to feel overwhelming. Because this church is about family. And family isn’t just all young couples or adults. It includes the crying babies and crazy uncles and grandpas, too. Family means you get to grow and learn to love one another. And you stick together, through both the good and the bad.

Now, we have about more than a dozen young singles at our church. Not a lot compared to some churches, but it’s still something. Because I started out on my own, I’ve learn to appreciate each one of them. The best part about not having them as my crutch in the beginning? I got to really know my seniors.

And their stories are amazing, more than words can say.

Near His Heart

I am very honored to share with you readers a new blog that my head pastor Jon Hori just started a few months ago. Being the stealthy guy that he is, I wasn’t even aware he had a blog until he brought it up during our lunch meeting. I was not only impressed by his writing ability, but also encouraged by all the insights he had to share.

It is called “Near His Heart,” and it details the accounts of his everyday life as a husband, father, and spiritual shepherd. Please check it out here and leave him a comment or two!

Real Heroes

Today’s first official post in the 365 days of blogging is dedicated to the heroes in my life.

Whenever we think of heroes, we usually think of the famous or revolutionary figures that shaped new philosophies, overcame hardships, or conquered injustices. This we do with good reason. After all, we read about them in our textbooks, celebrate their birthdays, hang their portraits in museums and all that jazz.

Yet there are many heroes whom we come across everyday that we tend to neglect or forget to consider: our family and friends. These are people who seem to go about their ordinary lives–work normal jobs, take out the trash, tend gardens, and so forth. But they speak extraordinary volumes of love and courage by doing the very necessary yet often unrecognized things. They are the real heroes.

I am blessed to have the support of many loving people in my life to get me through valleys as well as celebrate the peaks. There’s no better way to start off my year-long adventure than by acknowledging them.

1. My family is made up of heroes. I am reminded of this every time I eat one of my mother’s fantastic meals, take in some of my father’s deep-reaching wisdom, or share in my sister’s ambition for life. What they have given me are the building blocks on how to live my life with integrity and love. They have often sacrificed many of their own wants to meet the needs of those around them. They won’t get much outward recognition for it, but they don’t mind it. Real heroes wouldn’t want it anyway.

2. Friends can be heroes, too. I have come across many faces and developed great friendships throughout my 25 years. There are heroes who have shaped and inspired me somewhere along my journey, and I am thankful for each person. As with the seasons, so have many of them come and gone. But I have not lost them; they are still with me today because of what they have taught and given me. And some, like these guys above, have been with me every step of the way. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

3. My pastors are my heroes. Jon and Daryl do so much for the church family with little or no complaint. They constantly check up on me, imparting wisdom on how to live my life with purpose and passion. I am reminded of what really matters, not only by what they teach on Sundays but how they love their wives, children, neighbors, friends, and people in and outside of church walls. These are humble and godly men whose footsteps I want to follow.

Mother Teresa once said, “There are no great things. Only small things with great love.” The greater work then, I suppose, is to give all of yourself into whatever task or person is before you so that you leave something that extends beyond prizes and trophies. Who you are will be written in what you give. And what you give will be a lasting legacy.

That’s what makes a hero.