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On island to spread a message of hope

LIHUE — Four members of a spiritually driven youth program were on island this week to raise funds for overseas missions.

Generation Peace Academy, a youth program of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, was on Kauai for two weeks.

They were raising funds to send 30 students to perform mission work at sister churches in the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Peru and Panama.

Megumi Homma, 21, of Minlo Park, California, is a on her third mission and, having fundraised in almost all 50 states, is the captain of three first-time participants.

The trips around the country also offer post high school graduates a character-building experience to learn about themselves through a service project.

“This is out of choice,” Homma said. “Once we were out of high school, we choose a college or program like Generation Peace Academy to grow in our life, faith, and to understand beliefs and teachings and to build character.”

The students already know that with onsite fundraising, the majority of requests result in rejection. The lesson is to persevere, love and respect everyone you meet and to move forward, she added. 

That said, they also know that fundraising is a valuable activity that will help the organization pay the $10,000 per-person, overseas mission fee as they become more responsible people.

Also from California, Jana Ochoa, 18, said her experience on Kauai was amazing.

“The locals here have such a heart of giving and are open to all the things that our program is all about,” Ochoa said. “They are really supportive of all that we do and that uplifted my spirit.”

Kyosei Nagai, 18, of Los Angeles, said his experience with the church was a chance to expand his mind by talking to many different people.

He said the openness of Hawaii changed him as a person, helped to make him a willing listener and to shrug off the negativity that can come with doing something bigger than himself.

“A lot of people here are open-minded and willing to listen, willing to take their time to hear what we have to say,” Nagai said. “It’s like a family, especially on Kauai, when compared to California, or at least where I’m from.”

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