Lelani is a 12 year old girl who lives with her family of 6 in a small, two-bedroom apartment. Sometimes they’re able to go to the beach when her parents get a day off, but it’s rare, so she mostly spends her time at home, watching her younger siblings and playing on the computer.
But on one fateful Friday, she gets to visit Makanalani, and she has no idea what’s in store for her… She piles into a van with a few other kids from youth group, and they travel to the lush part of the island, eyes wide as they drive through the Jurassic Park-like gate. After driving slowly through a jungle that looks like scenes from a movie, the trees clear to reveal the most beautiful house she’s ever seen!
As she steps out of the van with her pillow and duffel bag, she sees large stone ponds filled with fish and lily pads, and an enchanting stone path that leads to somewhere worth exploring. Then she walks through the large, wooden doors of Makanalani, and looks up at the enormous lights hanging from the beautiful, high ceilings, and she just can’t believe she gets to call this home for the next few nights.
She and her friend find their room, claim their bunks, and run outside, ready to roam through the 130 acres of gorgeous Hawaii landscape. They find a great spot with several fruit trees…passion fruit, guava, star fruit, and rambutan…and as they pick their fill, they see chickens wandering and pheasants running by. It’s unlike anything she’s ever done.
When Lelani finally goes to bed that first night, she is pleasantly exhausted, and incredibly excited for the next day. She’s been promised a visit to the mini-donkeys, a giant slip and slide adventure, and a night hike that evening.
As she lays there, she just can’t stop thinking how lucky she is, and she drifts off to sleep, feeling happy, hopeful, and loved.
Lelani’s family could never afford to send her to camp, let alone a place as incredible as Makanalani. But luckily, they didn’t have to pay at all.
Now of course Lelani is a fictional character, but the experience laid out in this story is not only real, but it happens all the time! Today, on Giving Tuesday, please consider giving a financial gift to help sustain these experiences for all the kids who will venture to walk through our doors.
We want kids to play outside, enjoy God’s beautiful creation, and feel loved and cared for. Thank you for partnering with us in this work!