Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Book Review - Serving God Joyfully: Right Here in Hawaii

Book Cover

It is a honor and a great pleasure to review Easter's new book, Serving God Joyfully: Right Here in Hawaii. This book is a wonderful compilation of the best of Catholic Hawaii.

It seemed like only yesterday that Easter shared with me her brainstorm that resulted in this book. Her idea was formed in part to support our priests and to help the homeless here in the Aloha State. She wanted so much to use the proceeds from the book sale to go for their assistance.

She worked diligently and tirelessly right until the book was actually published. Her work involved contacting many, many people around the diocese of Honolulu. I am sure many times she must have asked herself "Is it worth it?" As her friend I can honestly say, "you bet it is was worth it, Easter!"

This book is a Chicken Soup for the Catholic Hawaiian Soul (if you pardon the much used adage and description for an inspiring anthology book).

If you are a resident here in this beautiful place we call home, and especially if you are a Catholic, this book is at many times, the healing balm you may need to bring you closer to our God.

For me personally, it touched my heart and soul many times when I was not expecting it to. Like most practicing/devout Catholics here in Hawaii, we more or less know or know of each other. After all, this is not a really big place. Being a Catholic in Hawaii means you are part of a special ohana. Well some of our ohana members shared their special stories for Easter and for us, the reader.

Easter gave me a copy of the book (almost right off the presses) on a Sunday afternoon. She showed me where she lovingly inscribed it for me. I could not wait to go inside and start reading the long-awaited for book.

Of course, I started off with the stories written by by friends or those of whose names I was very familiar with. I think the first story I read was Pat P's story of her son who had contracted AIDS. She is a fellow parishioner and I was very familiar with her story and her sorrow. Another fellow parishioner's story I read that afternoon was Steve Odo's. His was a story of reversion I had known about and found inspiring because of the many Catholics Steve and his wife Caroline have helped come home. There were many other stories by some of the spiritual moms of priests, homeschooling moms, seminarians, a priest and other people who do a lot for the diocese's spirituality whose stories I was also familiar with or had heard. But it is an entirely different experience to read their own words in print.

One story was by my friend Dottie M.. She shared memories of her father. Having lost my father seven months ago, this one was one that touched me the most. I know it was hard for Dottie to share her private and personal story because it was so precious to her but she felt compelled and prompted by the Holy Spirit to do just that.

That is another thing I found very moving. Not a single person who shared a story did so out of any vainglory or self-serving purpose. On the contrary, each and every story reflects the sincerity and humility in the hearts of these individuals, who simply love God and want to serve him faithfully and joyfully.

There were a few stories by people I did not know. Some of them really surprised me because they were sometimes stories that I could relate to personally. There was one dear lady who felt she did not have much to write about. She had always been a faithful Catholic and continues to serve the Lord in her daily life. I liked that. I am glad she shared her story.

An additional and personal reflection by Easter, follows each story. This personal touch by Easter, made this book even more special. She engages us and challenges us to really reflect on what the writer was trying to convey through each particular story.

Lastly, you can see clearly how Easter brought our community, our ohana, together. Many of us did our small part in helping Easter when she asked. I know Easter wanted us all to share in this moment with her and all the actual writers. She also tries to help Catholic apostolates, organization and Catholic businesses by listing them in the back of the book. She is an unselfish servant of God who lives her life joyfully right here in Hawaii!

Easter, you are a true blessing and inspiration to Catholics not only in Hawaii, but everywhere.

BTW, there is also a message by our dear bishop of Honolulu, Bishop Silva.

To order Easter's new book, please visit Joy of Christ Press


Easter Almuena said...

Dear Esther, I thank you so much for a great book review! Our God be praised!

I am so glad you hightlighted a couple of stories there of two very good people here in our diocese. Thank for recognizing the efforts of people who serve God joyfully right here in our own neighborhoods :-). I am inspired by your words to continue the work God shows us through our dear saint, St. Damien. Uplifing words are important because they give us the inspiration not only to continue our work, but also to pass them on to those around us, so they too will be inspired to serve.

Thanks so much, Esther!

EC Gefroh said...

You're welcome Easter.