Greatness emanates from thanks
I was an unhappy, troubled kid. I grew up going to Central Union Church. But as for my earlier days, I never really had a passion for going to church; I just went because my family went.
I had a hard time believing in God. I thought if God was supposed to be watching over us and taking care of us, then why was it that I always got in trouble and I never got the things I wanted? However, my point of view shifted in 10th grade.
It was the night before Easter Sunday, and usually the youth would have a church sleepover and do fun activities. I went that year expecting the usual. But when I got there I was surprised and uncomfortable at the same time because that year the church was also housing the homeless due to them getting kicked out of the parks. The church also fed them and gave them clothes.
I was out of my comfort zone. I didn't want anything to do with filthy, homeless people, I thought. For most of the night, I hung with my friends, trying to stay as far away from the homeless as possible. I even made several rude comments about them to my friends.
After we finished the activities, we had one last thing to do before we went to bed. That was to decorate the cross for Easter Sunday. I was ready to go outside and help, but it was pouring bullet-size raindrops. Yet we still had to do the job, and, to make matters worse, we were accompanied by the homeless. Personally, I was disgusted with the fact that I had to work with someone as low as a homeless person. Even the thought that I would need help from a homeless person made me feel low, for I believed that I had a lot more than them, so it should make me greater.
I was minding my own business in disgust when I heard the mysterious sound of a Hawaiian chant. I turned to see where it was coming from, and it was coming from this local-looking guy who was homeless. He was weaving together some ginger plants and chanting at the same time. I was annoyed, so I got up to ask him to keep it down. But he kept going.
Since he wouldn't stop, I decided to at least ask him what he was chanting about. The answer I got from him I will never forget. He told me he was thanking God for what he had and for allowing him the great opportunity to work with the youth in harmony. The words that came out of his mouth hit me like a ton of bricks. How could someone who had nothing be thanking God for nothing and for spending time with us kids?
This guy was enjoying our presence and even enjoying just talking with us. I realized that this man was a far greater person than I. This man taught me a valuable lesson that day, and it was that you are not a greater person if you have all the things in the world but rather, just being a thankful person makes you a great person.
Before I left, I gave that man a hug and thanked him for the conversation. That night, I found God in an unexpected way. For me, Central Union Church is the church of miracles. My mission now in life is to become a minister and spread the message that this man taught me, the true meaning of happiness.
Adriano Girangaya is a student at Kapiolani Community College and plans to become a United Church of Christ minister.