This is a really big Banyan Tree that sits on Waikiki Beach. It is one of several very large Banyan Trees that we saw on Oahu. They are not native to the Island but were given to the last King by an Ambassador from India in the 1850's. They are actually a variety of Fig Trees and they send out "roots" from all the branches. As we were watching the sunset over Waikiki, I heard this amazing sound. It was hundred of birds flocking into that tree. These Mynah Birds make an unbelievably loud noise as they fill the tree. They are no where to be seen during the day, but at sunset they return home to roost. Just another amazing thing we saw in Hawaii!
Just like those birds, Ken and I have returned home to roost. It is really good to be home, it was a long and busy vacation. We have been asked what we thought about Hawaii.... and that is a really interesting question. We were surprised to feel as if we were visiting a foreign country. I always imagined Hawaii as a sort of more tropical Florida. But I was very wrong. The country is very Asian - Japanese- to be more specific. Most of the food was not what we expected. In fact, more than once we were given menus in Japanese rather than English! Rice and steamed fish/vegetables was the "standard" breakfast meal offered in most places. Even McDonald's had a breakfast that looked like that! And even the majority of the tourists were Asian with the Aussies making up the next largest group. We expected the native Hawaiians but they were actually very few and far between. The culmination of our trip was at the Honolulu Airport for our trip home. Apparently all the flights are treated like "foreign" travel and there are glassed in gates that you have to show your passport to enter! (I guess a drivers license must have been okay since that is all you need (technically) to visit Hawaii!) Even all the announcements at the airport were made FIRST in Japanese and then in English. More than once, I felt like I was outside of the United States.
For some reason I was unable to finish this blog. I sat in front of the screen more than once last week and the words just would not come. There was a missing piece and a missing peace to this blog post.
Beginning on last Thursday night and lasting through today, I attended a conference called "Women on the Front Lines" at Chicago HUB. Sometime during this conference I figured out what I needed to complete this blog. There was an entire teaching on BELONGING. The truth is, most of us have feelings of not belonging. We might not fit in a particular group or situation or sometimes it is a bigger feeling of not belonging in our family. I realized that I did feel out of place in Hawaii and I did feel as I didn't belong there. But here is the thing......I don't live there - I was a visitor. So I don't belong! Coming home settled in my spirit that this is where I belong. At the conference we learned that the feeling of not belonging is often just a lie sown into us by the enemy. When we feel like that, it causes us to isolate ourselves and leads to much greater loneliness and often depression. The truth is that we BELONG to the family of God when we know Jesus. And then we also belong to each other. We are a family - His family and no matter what the circumstances around us might be, we always belong to Jesus.
This was a great lesson for me. It was totally okay for me to feel out of place in a place that was not home for me. That was a correct feeling of "not belonging". But when that feeling of not belonging (of not fitting in) comes, we need to be take a really hard look at just where that feeling is coming from. At the point that I really put this all together..... a wave of great peace filled me. So ask Jesus to show you the truth and wait for that peace! I just love that Jesus knew that I needed to wait to finish this blog to understand about this feeling of not belonging. I am thankful that I got to visit Hawaii... a part of the United States that is very different. And I am thankful for the peace in the knowing about belonging.
It was interesting to have this revelation at a large conference. That is a place that it is really easy to feel like you don't fit in. There are so many people and it is easy to get lost in the crowd. But when Jesus is the focus of the conference, you are all family. There were several times that I introduced myself to people who were sitting by themselves. It was so fun to meet people from all over the country. I ate lunch with a women who had come from Iowa and met several people from various parts of the Chicago. While standing in line on the first day of the event, I spoke with a beautiful Hispanic women who lives very near where the conference was held. We had a long conversation and we spoke again several times during the weekend. There were also times of reconnecting with people that I haven't seen in years. It was a great time of belonging.
Yes, it is good to come home to roost and it is good to remember that I belong!
Jesus, thank you for helping me to set this blog aside until I had the understanding to complete it. Thank you for an amazing time in Hawaii and for your provision for home, family and friends. You are an amazing God that calls us into your family. I am so blessed to belong to you. Amen