This had been a very emotional week for me. A very special couple, Joe and Karen Johnson are moving to Virginia next week. It is very hard to say goodbye…
Thanks to Lilo and Stitch, the word OHANA had been introduced to many States and many nation. Now, even a four year old in the mainland can tell you that “ohana means family, and in family no one is left behind“.
The word ohana is very rich in the Hawaiian culture. The term “family” does not only refer to dad, mom and kids, but it compasses grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins. In fact the “ohana” can even extend to friends, very close friends who we do life with. “About” has a very interesting article on ohana in which I got this excerpt:
In Hawaii, however, the “other” type of family is more the norm than the exception. Many families consist of parents, grandparents and children all residing under one roof. It’s not unusual to see a child being raised by a grandparent or aunt while the parents live and work elsewhere. The Hawaiian family or ‘ohana can also consist of others not related by birth. A valued friend can be a member of your ‘ohana. An entire group of close friends or associates can be their own ‘ohana’. The late Hawaiian music superstar Israel Kamakawiwo’ole often referred to the friends he chatted with on the Net as his “cyber ‘ohana.”
Above is the photo of our “ohana”. It’s a small group formed as a “cell group” at our church, Hope Chapel. We call our small groups Ohana to signify the important of doing life together as a family (not just attending an hour worship service on Sundays). Joe and Karen led our ohana for the past 12 years. Through thick and thin we supported each other, as ohana members do.
Both Joe and Karen are very talented, gifted, compassionate, wise, loving individuals. Virginia will be a better place when they move there. Aloha and a hui hou Joe and Karen. We are going to miss you!
*The decision to relocate to Virginia did not come easy. It was a decision also related to “Ohana” (their immediate ohana). You can read more of it here, and here.
So the time came and went. I had my chance to speak before Joe, Karen and friends. I had the opportunity to share something; a brief bit about the impact Joe and Karen have had on my life and the life of my family. As I sat there thinking “how do I sum up the countless ways they’ve blessed us,” the hour-or-so of sharing came and went. I think there’s a subconscious feeling that what you say at a “farewell” sums everything up…and I couldn’t think of a way to wrap up the countless blessings. Others, including my own wife, figured out how to get past this and say something from the heart, but I was stuck in my chair in an emotional replay of the last 11 years. I thought back to when my wife and I joined the famous “Johnson Ohana,” just a year into our marriage. I know the solid relationship we have today has so much to do with the framework Joe and Karen set through the God-centered focus of their leadership in that group. I think about our close circle of friends that we’ve met through the group. I think about the touching times we’ve had with Joe and Karen, the funny times, the scary, the sad…I think about the way they’ve blessed us as individuals, as a couple and as a family. The ways are countless.
And then it dawned on me…”countless”…that’s what I need to say. If I couldn’t spit it out audibly before friends maybe I can say it here to the silent masses. Countless Blessings. We all have friends that have blessed us in one way or another, but it’s a whole ‘nother level of special when those ways are truly countless, and I think it speaks volumes about Joe and Karen and their deep involvement in so many lives. To think of how many people are involved in their lives, and to realize that we are simply one family out of thousands…and yet despite that, to feel touched in countless ways? How amazing. It is through our church family that we sometimes see the lessons of the bible played our before us. Luke 12:7 tells us that even though He created us all, God knows every detail of our lives. An almost incomprehensible thought made easier to understand through Joe and Karen…and the countless ways they’ve touched us.
We love you, we will miss you, we will never forget you.
Todd, Laura, TJ and Jason.
oppsss I hit “comment” for submission without typing my note above. I re-published that comment above from the comment left by Todd on the Karen’s blog. It’s so tender and summed up many of the thoughts we have in the ohana so I thought I’d post it on the comment section here too.
Thank you for Great post!