Get new posts from Carol’s Hope blog sent directly to your email inbox!

Finding Hope After Tragedy

The wind whipped our hair as we exited the Maui airport. After the devastating fires of last September, we were eager to return to the island. We wanted to help the island financially (70% of its income is tourism), see for ourselves some of the damage done to a place we love, and to see if hope was returning after such pain and grief.

My heart hurt when we saw a line about a block long of white crosses on the Lahaina bypass. The crosses were decorated with flowers, with many crosses bearing photos of those lost in the fire. What a tragedy!

Hope After Tragedy

While the old town of Lahaina is totally sealed off to visitors, there are areas where the land rises behind the blocking fences. A colorful Art Fence Barrier covers a stretch of the Honoapi’ilani Highway just past Safeway. The 1000-foot mesh art barrier was created by elementary, middle school and high school students as a symbol of “Maui Strong,” and expresses both their mourning and their hope for the future. It also reminds tourists to be respectful as the community mourns and heals.

Behind the Art Fence we could see the all-gray of burned-out buildings, cement pillars, trees, homes. The loss is tremendous.

We had been told not to ask people about their experience in the fires. If they brought it up, fine. If we asked a question and people deflected it, to let it go.

Hope because of Rest

We had a wonderful time resting, something Don and I both needed after several months  clearing out a friend’s home after his death.

In Maui, we met with California friends 3000 miles from home for dinner at Roy’s at Kaanapali. The following day we drove about an hour  to the Makai Glass Factory, where we watched expert glass blowers create a beautiful multi-toned manta ray and saw some stunning pieces of art, like this one.

Several days we simply relaxed in the sun. Lying on a beach chair next to each other, with a good book, dipping into the water now and then, was awesome.

We slept 12 hours two nights, 10 another couple, and only less if we had somewhere to be in the morning. The Gazebo in Napili serves delicious macadamia nut pancakes and omelets, but its real draw is its stunning ocean view. I walked just a few steps down the path and almost dropped my phone before just about being blown over by the strong winds.

Hope in Resilience

One man told us he had lost everything. He and his family were living in Red Cross housing. He said the family was “okay,” but didn’t want to talk further about their hardship. We let it go and continued our conversation along other lines. I found myself thinking everyone we met in Maui – wait staff, store clerks, people in the hotels – had a story of what they experienced during the fire. We didn’t know their stories, but God did. So we could pray that God would meet their needs, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Maui is still a very beautiful island. We saw whales spouting, watched one breech, enjoyed dinner at tables in the sand. And returned feeling renewed and ready to move forward with our remaining tasks again.

Rest … a gift from God

Even in the aftermath of a tragedy, we saw the resilience of people who are moving forward. Resettling. Living in provided housing and making do with what they have, pulling together for the good of each other and of the community.

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

What is your burden today? Pastor Joe asked this morning “How would your prayer life change if you really understood the gospel? Really understood the depth of God’s personal love for you?” Would we rush through our prayers, as I sometimes do, or would we revel in the depth of His love and care, despite our circumstances?

Good question. One I’ll ponder this week.

May God give you rest wherever you need it.





  1. Sounds like a poignant trip, Carol. Thank you for sharing this glimpse of life on the ground after such a horrific event. Paul’s daughter and her family used to stay in Lahaina every year. Her husband’s family lost a home there. Prayers for the people of Maui.
    Paul and I hope to go to Hawaii. I’ve never been there! It looks so gorgeous.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Columba, I’m so sorry Paul’s daughter’s in-laws lost a home in the fire. Yes, prayers are so important. And I do hope you go there one day. It is very beautiful, and so much more relaxing than our area!!

  2. Carmen Peone says:

    Wow, so heartbreaking. Thankfully there is hope in God. I love how He provides for our needs and comforts us during the hard times. God bless Maui.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you, Carmen, and Amen!

  3. Laura Bennet says:

    Beautiful post. I pray for the people in Maui. I love Hawaii. I stayed in Maui – near Lahaina Village as a teenager in 1976. Brendan and I spent our 2 week honeymoon on Hawaii – 1 week in Hilo and 1 week in Kona. It’s such a spectacular example of God’s creation. I’m glad it was the place you got to get some much needed rest.

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Laura. I envy you the opportunity to live near Lahaina in 1976. It is such a beautiful place, as you and Brendan know. I appreciate your comment as we both continue to pray for Maui and its people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.