Naalehu, HI. – A senior lady would come every other day to pick up the cardboard trash at the local grocery store Island Market. What was unusual, she used a brand new shinny red Ford F-150 Ford truck; my curiosity was awakened.
My wife Amy and I opened a grocery and convenience store, called Wiki-Wiki Mart – Union 76, two blocks away from Island Market. When our trash and recycling service provider stopped I asked the lady to take over the service, so Sue Barnett, started taking care of our trash and recycling service; she was punctual and did a very good job for us. I had to remind her to cash her monthly checks; there were four months of checks outstanding. She was donating her checks to Naalehu Main Street a local non-profit group. The group told Sue it was “not worth the hassle to them” as they were phasing out of their group. Sue finally cashed her checks. This intriguing women worked very hard, then gave her money away.
After couple of years, Sue comes to the store with another new red Ford F-150 truck, wow, how does this lady survive; giving away her income and buying another new truck. So my curiosity peaked. Finally, I ask her about her prior occupation; she said she was a retired veterinarian; wow, now it made sense. She was taking the cardboard and making mulch for resale. Sue was always busy and very resourceful. She donated her time once a month to neuter cats and dogs in the community; a very caring and giving person who shared her skills freely and with much compassion and aloha. One day she came to the store with a large “Black and Blue” mark on her thigh, she said a donkey bit her, then remarking how painful that was… yikes, I guess after a life long career she was used to those kind of rare experiences.
Now wanting to find out how she became so diligent I asked her if I could meet her for breakfast and listen to how she was raised by the parents; her story would be shared with http://www.Startsathome.org. She said yes and I waited with baited breath to hear her story.
She explained she did not come from a rich family and her parents had to work hard to put food on the table. Sue said “if you want something you have to work” Her mom said if you want a comic you have to work. So the mom would send them into the neighborhood to pick up trash and she’d pay them five (5) cents for a bag of trash or pull weeds around the house. “So when you got what you wanted you’d appreciate it a lot more.” She’s concerned about “today’s kids who feels that they are entitled to what they want and not investing the time to get it or stealing instead of working.”
An interesting comment she mentioned is “the’re kids that are born poor and die poor and there are kids that are born rich and die poor” She believes and a strong work ethics keeps people out of poverty. She appreciated her mom keeping her goals realistic and can remember wanting a pony and her mom said that’s too much money. “Having realistic goals can help and will encourage success”. She also sees that when people are not successful and give up could commit suicide. Sue says “we should learn from our failures, it’s the best teacher. So get up and get going.”
Sue went to a local college with the scholarships she earned, then worked her way through graduate school. She doesn’t like to be called doctor or use her professional designation as VMD. She said those titles a not important as they cause to much “one up-man-ship”. The community has come to know her as Aunty Sue. Thank you Aunty Sue.
Written by Carl Okuyama
Pahoa, Hawaii — An auto body repairman, Jason Balken, provided the low bid to do body work on my van. Meeting him for the first time in the town of Pahoa, Hawaii, he was in a wheelchair, I was shocked. It was a pleasant surprised to find a diligent man who did not have a “pity party” attitude, you know the “woe with me” kind of person. Jason showed me his past work and I gave him the job. Finding him to be an intriguing person, I began to ask questions which led me to a very faithful spirit. Here is their story.
Coos Bay, Oregon – Involved in a horrific motorcycle accident in 2005, a couple of months before Christmas, Jason Balken shatter his skull, broke his back in three places, broke his sternum, and wrist. As Jason lay on the ground choking in his own blood, he remembers thinking he was going to die. Then he felt his crying daughter grab his hand and say, “don’t leave me”. It was Jason’s wake up call, he hung on to life until the emergency team arrived at the scene. Jason felt he was dealt “a dealt blow, but with by God’s mighty hand made it through”. The emergency team later agreed, telling him “you should be dead” and was very close to being a quadriplegic. Jason’s best friend Todd Casey said “it was divine intervention that saved Jason”
At the hospital Jason was induced by the medical team into a comma to cope with immeasurable pain. While in a comma, Jason remembers clearly being alone on a desolate white sand beach on a tropical island; he felt very happy and at peace, it was like heaven. Fish would swim to him and he would catch them with his hand then cook the fish on an open fire place. Then one day in a storm he saw two big men approaching him, Jason had no fear and experienced a peaceful encounter. The two men escorted Jason into the ocean and they began walking under water, at this point he woke from his comma, and was back at the hospital.
Jason and his faithful wife Valerie were married for seven years before the accident, they have four children, Geran, Mary, Grace, and Kyah. Before the accident they owned and operated a coffee shop called Kaffe 101, which they converted to a Christian Coffee shop. People said the shop would fail as a Christian coffee shop, instead it did very well. Eventually, Pastor Matt Fox of Brandon Christian Fellowship, purchased the coffee shop and the shop successfully continues today.
In the hospital Jason had hundreds of friends and customers visit him, so many that Pastor Fox asked the church to limit their visits, and made the same announcement on a local Christian radio station.
Jason was transferred to the Medford Oregon Rehab Center that had about 10 patients. The professional staff at the rehabilitation center told Jason it would be years before he could drive. Jason had faith in God healing him, although the staff said he was in denial. One month later Jason drove away! Jason was also informed that the average life expectancy of patients like him who experienced that amount of trauma, was ten years. It’s been now twelve years, and Jason says his medical vital statistics are better today than they were at the time of the accident.
When I asked him if the accident had given him a new purpose in life, he replied he is “being used by God”. Jason’s favorite scripture is “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” Job 13:15 NIV
Yes, Jacob is most certainly being used by God to give hope and faith to those who have been physically afflicted. Never give up. “Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible”. Matthew 19:26 (KJV)
Testimony of Healing by Jason Balken
by Carl Okuyama
Naalehu, Hi. – Last year elementary school student Aliyah found a $10.00 bill in Union 76 Wiki-Wiki Mart; it was on the floor in front of the sales counter. Knowing somebody lost money she shared her story with Peter, her bus driver, who turned it over to the store’s lost and found. Since nobody claimed it we had to find Aliyah during school break.
A Facebook post looking for Aliyah was initiated. YAY, we found Aliyah! “Liking” the story other people donated to Aliyah to reward her for her integrity and honesty, including a California Judge who has been on the bench for 27 years. Aliyah was presented with the $10 bill plus $161.00.”Honesty Pays”.
In today’s society it seems people are losing their honesty and integrity; our children are seeing horrific news on TV and portable social media devices. Children are seeing too much about presidential candidates accused of lying or cheating. What kinds of impression are we leaving for our children who will lead our communities and country’s future. We all can help by encouraging and promoting honesty and integrity… let’s make a country of honest children.
Thank you to Aliyah’s parents Pastor Troy and Heather Gacayan; we were pleasantly surprised that Aliyah’s parents are the senior pastor at River of Life Church in Pahala. Peter Serfin, Bus Driver, works for the Volcano School of Arts and Science; Peter is the former Editor of Orchid Isle Magazine, he enjoys helping children.
Together we can train children in the way to go.
by Carl Okuyama