Our first morning on the island of Oahu Hawaii dawned bright and beautiful… the birds were singing sweetly in the trees, and I could smell the scent of the flowers outside our window. It was truly like waking up in paradise! It was the end of October (just a few weeks ago), and autumn's rainy season had already started to hit our own Portland Oregon. But in Hawaii, where we now were, of course, it was vibrant summer.
Kim and I had gone over a day earlier than our ARME teammates so we could enjoy a little sunshine and quietness to ourselves before the crew arrived and we had to start setting up our ARME Bible Camp. I had no specific agenda items for the day, but had just gotten out of the shower and was dreaming about resting in the sunshine when Kim got off a phone call and excitedly asked me… "So, do you want to go swimming with Dolphins today????" This question wasn't a complete surprise, for we had talked about the possibility at one point long before we arrived in Hawaii. But I, naive of how the ocean world works and petrified of accidentally meeting a shark in the shallow paradise waters, had told Kim previously I wasn't really that interested in going swimming or snorkeling. So she'd not mentioned the idea again, and thus we'd made no reservations. Now the idea surfaced again, as she'd done some last minute calling and discovered a tour that only had 10 people booked and since it was last minute, we would get a BIG discount if we decided to go. I could tell she was very excited, and I didn't want to disappoint her, so I agreed. "Ok…I'll go! But we better not see any sharks!" (Looking back I have to laugh, but you have to understand this Ozark girl has NEVER done more then stick her toes in the Ocean before this trip, so this was really outside my comfort zone!)
So, since we were booking for the Dolphin Excursion tour at the last minute, we had to hurry. It started in about an hour and a half. (So much for a day of laid back relaxation in the sun!) Off we rushed, trying to get to the harbor (which happened to be on the opposite side of the island) where we'd launch out into the deep looking for dolphins.
We got there in time…although we got lost a few times along the way as the signs weren't very good. I wasn't impressed and only wondered what the trip would have in store. Once we got with the team and got on our boat we headed off. The tour guide gave us our snorkels and fins and began to talk to us about dolphins. But he told us, as if trying to prepare us for dissappointment… "The only group of dolphins we know about are headed South right now and we aren't sure if we can catch up with them. But we'll do our best. If we don't see any dolphins though, remember you can come again on another excursion for FREE!" I laughed to myself… "Once is enough…just the fact that I'm out here is a miracle. If we don't see dolphins, maybe that will be good because I wont have to get in the water. And I'm not coming back. I'll have to wait for Heaven before I try again!"
However, my dear friend Kim was not to be discouraged. "Melody…" she whispered. "Let's pray! God knows where those dolphins are, and He created them for us to enjoy! Let's pray that we can find them." And so Kim prayed.
Not long after, out of the blue, we came upon an unexpected pod of dolphins, swimming gracefully along the coast line. The tour guide was ecstatic! "I don't know where these dolphins came from, but this is great! Get your gear on guys. Now is the time to get in!"
Excitedly and nervously I put on my fins and snorkel. "How do you use this thing?" I asked someone. They looked at me in surprise. "You never snorkeled before?" "Nope!" I replied. With some simple instructions, I and my companions jumped into the clear blue waters. The dolphins were right below us, beside us, and all around us. I couldn't believe it…. it was amazing! Back and forth they swam, sometimes so close to us that you could have reached out and touched them if you tried. We must have been in the water with them for 45 minutes or more. The time seemed to go in slow motion as we swam alongside the pod. Our tour guide also happened to be a professional underwater photographer, so he took amazing photos for us. (As seen here!)
In the picture above, you can see Kim and I at the bottom corner. While she gazes in wonder, I'm frantically trying to take pictures with my underwater camera! ;-)
See how CLOSE they were at times to us! I could have reached out and touched them...
I love this picture of one of our comrades. It looks like he's almost going to pet the dolphins!
Here we all are again below… and this time, I think it is Kim that is trying to take the pictures. As you can see… they were sooo beautiful!
Finally when we pulled ourselves from the water… breathless and happy, Kim and I looked at each other with big smiles on our faces. The tour guide was shaking his head. As the boat turned around and headed up the coast to see the turtles, our guide told us, "This is probably the 5th best Dolphin sighting we've ever had. And we do tours every day with people!"
Kim was radiant! "God brought us those Dolphins Mel! They were His gift to us! He made them for us to enjoy!" I could only nod my head in agreement and wonder… God had worked a miracle for us. But why wouldn't He? He tells us in His Word that when we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart.
Once again, here is Kim and me (in picture above). While she tries to avoid crashing into Mr. Tortoise, I'm trying to take pictures!
"Truly…HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!!"
And this was only a foretaste of what was to come during our time in Hawaii… not just in the enjoyment of the beauty of God's creation, but in the "fishes of men" that He would bring us at our 7th ARME Bible Camp where many more hearts were revived and many more decisions were made for God's Kingdom…decisions that mean we, along with many more, will get to spend all eternity in paradise!
So stay tuned… the best is yet to come!