This summer I was invited by a close friend of mine to perform his wedding in Maui, and so we took the opportunity to spend a few days relaxing and recharging. It was a really good and much needed time. I’m so very thankful, and it was a beautiful ceremony.
But while we were there, God showed me something. We had to check out of our hotel about mid-day on Saturday, but we didn’t need to be to the airport until about 3. So we had a short amount of time to do one last thing.
As we were exploring the island, we kept saying, “I’ve never really heard the history of Hawaii and how it came to be.” And as we drove around Maui, we kept passing by this “Sugar Museum.” So I checked some reviews, and it seemed like that would be a good place to kill some time before we had to head to the airport.
The museum was located on the grounds of an old defunct Sugar Plantation. The exhibits were in a building that used to be the plantation superintendent’s house, and that building overlooked the dilapidated sugar factory. These buildings were at least a hundred years old, probably older.
Now, if you think a Sugar Plantation Museum in Maui sounds like the most boring thing you could ever do, let me tell you something. You’re right. It was awful. I don’t know what I thought I would find there. We paid like $15 to go to this museum and we were done after 10 minutes. It was so boring.
But as we walked around we noticed an elderly gentlemen there with what appeared to be his grown son.
They were very into just about every exhibit at the museum, which was strange. We overheard him pronouncing these Hawaiian words with ease, and pointing out things in pictures that weren’t really discussed in the captions.
My wife said, “I think he’s Hawaiian.” I dismissed that thought. But the museum was kind of boring. So instead of trying to read every exhibit, I just kind of followed this man around and tried to eavesdrop without looking like a creep.
That’s when I figured it out. This man wasn’t a native Hawaiian. But the reason he knew all about the pictures and exhibits and the reason he pronounced all the words just right was because he had worked on that Sugar Plantation decades before.
He pointed to a picture and said, “That’s where you got your paycheck.” And he showed his son and grandchildren things about the plantation that the museum didn’t.
Then I heard him say something that caused me to pause.
“Who would have thought that a hard day’s work would turn into a museum?”
It took me a second to wrap my mind around that. He was 16 years old when he moved from California to work on this sugar plantation. Conditions were difficult, and the work was physically exhausting. He was a nobody in the middle of nowhere doing something that seemed inconsequential. And now people paid $7 each to visit a museum about it.
I was in Hawaii for a wedding of a friend. I was in high school when I met him, and he was just a kid. For whatever reason, I paid attention to him and spent time with him. We became friends, and as I went off to college, I stayed friends with him while he was in high school. We talked about sports and music and life and faith.
I didn’t have a master plan of discipleship with him. This wasn’t a part of some program or anything like that. I saw a kid. I liked him. He made me laugh. We became friends and continued that friendship.
Twenty years later, he invited me to perform his wedding.
At the rehearsal dinner, he stood up to talk about everyone in the room and what they meant to him. He started with me and told them that I was the reason he went to A&M and I had such a huge impact on his life and on his faith. I never really considered that. I didn’t know I made such an impact. I was just being a friend to a kid who I assumed had lots of friends and influences.
Then it finally came together.
Who would have thought that a hard day’s work would end up in a museum?
And who would have thought that just being a friend to a kid 6 years younger than me would have made such a difference?
It may not seem important at the time, but the little things matter. You might be a nobody in the middle of nowhere doing something that seems inconsequential. But one day, the ripples from your impact will crest. A hard day’s work might not end up in a museum, but your molding of someone’s life will echo for eternity.
Look up and look around. Who are your neighbors? How can you invest in them?
It doesn’t have to be some big gesture or a part of a robotic program. Just be a friend. Do little things that show others that you care. Share your life and faith. Who knows how it will end up? Maybe a wedding in Hawaii. Or maybe just a lifelong friend.