Mount Pleasant Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

46 | | We changed the travel dates for our dream vacation to Hawaii. Looking back, I don’t know if this decision was a blessing or not. Our lives will be forever altered for the better as to what our eyes have seen, ears have heard and the smells we tried to avert. Our family learned many lessons, none of which fall short of the value of a life and the gift of life that God has given each of us. The first two days at our resort in Lahaina felt like utopia. The posh manicured lawns, the ukulele lessons, the lit tiki torches highlighting brick pathways at night. A slice of heaven for sure. We were in paradise. On Sunday, Aug. 6, we headed to St. Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina for the 11:30 a.m. service. What a darling church filled with loving parishioners. Towards the end of the mass, my husband Greg and I were invited to the altar to be prayed upon, as we were celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. It was very heartfelt and moved us both. Little did we know that in 48 hours the entire church would be leveled and destroyed, parking lot included. As I look back I wonder, who in that mass was affected by the fire? The answer is simple: all of them. The winds picked up — large gusts. Her strength was present. Palm fronds started to fall off the trees, the crisp, clean swimming pools below now filled up with leaves and falling debris. I looked at the weather app and saw that from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Wednesday there would be high winds from the now named storm: Hurricane Dora. We were not panic-stricken. Inconvenienced, but not alarmed. Our outdoor dinner reservation was canceled, but it was a small price to pay as we knew the rest of the week would be glorious — or so we thought. Then, the smoke came. Blowing lightly over the hills, behind the resort. We heard there was a downed power wire. However, conditions continued to take a turn for Nightmare in BY MICHELE LEWIS Paradise Local family vacationing witnesses Hawaii wildfires August wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, captured by the Lewis family from their hotel balcony.