On the morning of May 3, 2018, the most active volcano in the world, Kilauea, changed thousands of lives on the Big Island of Hawaii. The island was impacted by many earthquakes throughout the day measuring up to 6.9 with Kilauea erupting in the residential area Leilani Estates. It had been at least 40 years since an earthquake this massive had impacted the Big Island. Rather than filling craters, lava spewed its way out of the ground with lava still flowing out of the ground even to this day. So far about 600 homes have been burnt by the lava and the air is filled with toxic fumes. Lower lying communities are experiencing ash rain from the residue that is coming from the volcano. Thankfully, make up shelters have been built and city officials are working on temporary homes for the 3,000 evacuees that have been affected. As the lava spreads new topography, displacing many families, Pastor Rene Lopez says, “there is no end in sight”. This is why his church, Hilo Adventist Church decided they needed to step in and help relieve this seemingly endless hopelessness.
Late on that night in May, Pastor Lopez and his church members gathered together to prepare a meal for the evacuees. That night has now evolved into a daily service to these evacuees, providing food from morning to late afternoon and offering music and games for the evacuees as well. The Hilo Adventist Church feeds about 60 individuals daily. Pastor Lopez says, “this is our new norm”. Along with feeding the displaced masses, the Hawaii Conference Youth Department has partnered with Hilo to offer free summer camp to children that have been affected by this crisis. Camp Wai’Anae is located on another island and to fly the children there it costs $200 along with camp fees, but Pastor Lopez says, “we have found really good donors to sponsor children with 15 registering so far. Our goal is to send as many children as possible”.