Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saying Goodbye to our Maui Ohana

Our Maui life has been a collection of superlatives. So many friends. So much beauty. The best church. The most comfortable life. A vineyard full of ripe fruit.

Then a scorching fire burned our landscape, and parched, we found a deep well of love from which we could drink, over and over again. Our thirst has been bottomless. You have poured pure water on us unrelentingly.
strength for our new changes, courage to face our future.

We've needed you all and every drop of your mercy.

Leaving you is so difficult. You are tattooed on our hearts now, like my son's name on my arm. We love you and will never forget you.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. I Jn 4:11,12

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Anonymous said...


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.

Jeri said...

What awesome blessing and privilege it was to play worship with you again Joe. Thank you so much for teaching us how to worship, for being so transparent, and for your amazing gift for leading us all into God's presence. And it wouldn't be worship without Karen standing close by supporting Joe, smiling, singing and praising our Heavenly Father with us.

We love you both so much and look forward to seeing you soon in VB.

Jeri & Cliff

Bill Kepler said...

Thank you, Todd, for your deep and penetrating thoughts. Their blessings surely are countless. One of them was encouraging the leadership they saw in you. Thanks, bro.

Liza on Maui said...

JOE ....

I love this photo of you. Last I realized that I really have not old you how much I am going to miss you leading worship at Hope Chapel. It makes me teary eyed just tying this and thinking about this. There are many things (and people) that bind us but "the love of worship" is something that I share with you more than anyone else here on Maui. I love the way you lead un into worship. I love your choices of worship songs. I love it that we can sing the contemporary worship songs with as much passion as we can sing the classic hymns of long ago.....

I love it that you worship when you are sad or glad, in good times and in bad.

I posted a video and song on Liza's Eyeview today. I dedicate that to you.

Virginia, watch out! - here comes Joe - your people will be lead to a wonderful worship. To God Be The Glory!

Liza on Maui said...

Just re-reading my comment. That's what happens when I post pre-coffee in the morning. Was trying to type as fast as I can, so I can make the coffee before Bradley wakes up. Talk about typo and missing words - LOL!

Anyway, I know you can figure it - it's Last night instead of last, told instead of old, etc. etc.