A small church in Nanakuli has new windows and doors, repaired flooring and a glistening new coat of white paint thanks to the efforts of 30 people from Tennessee, Mililani and Hawaii Kai who put their faith in hard work.
The teenagers and young adults paid money to spend long days in the hot sun, and left with paint spots in their hair and suntans after launching the first World Changers project in Hawaii.
They left behind a renewed Nanakuli Baptist Church.
"It’s nothing short of a miracle," said Pamela Waterhouse, a third-generation member of the tiny congregation, who cooked daily lunches for the work force. The complex of wooden sanctuary, parsonage and social hall dates to the early 1960s and had not had a face lift since.
"I’m so grateful, with a multitude of hands we never had before – electrician, painters, carpenters," she said. "We hope with the changes, more people will be attracted to our church."
The project was a small beginning here for World Changers, an international Baptist-affiliated ministry that harnesses the zeal and energy of church youths to rebuild run-down neighborhoods. About 23,000 students from junior high through college age are working in 85 places across the country this summer.
"I never held a hammer so much in my life," said Shelcy Pooler of Mililani, a Leeward Community College sophomore.
The Rev. Rob Mullins, a pastor in Memphis, Tenn., brought eight college students and three other adults from his church. Each had to pay airfare and $325 to cover food and board at the Puu Kahea Baptist conference center.
"It gets students to look beyond themselves," Mullins said.
He added, "This generation of kids wants their life to count for something. We call it a boomerang blessing. You bring something to the project, and you go home equally blessed."
The spiritual component to the week also had the young volunteers delivering sandwiches and prayer cards to homeless campers along the Leeward Coast.
"The biggest thing for me is to come to a place you might call paradise – beautiful mountains, ocean and flowers – but you find people who need help," said Katie Echols, a University of Memphis senior. "It makes you aware of all that you do have."