Two weeks ago, a friend stopped by while doing his ministry work for Jehovah's Witnesses. He gave me a pamphlet and asked me to pick one of the topics on the back that we could discuss together at a later date. I chose "Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering?" to be the subject of our next meeting. Under the heading, it said, "God's love for mankind guarantees that evil and suffering will end. Those that believe this will enjoy life on earth forever. (John 3:16)"
Two days later, Napili boy Chanse Uyeda was involved in a traffic accident and later died at Maui Memorial Medical Center, as some 60 family members and friends knelt and prayed for him. Amid the shock and sadness of losing yet another of our "Lahaina Boys" on the roadways of Maui - as well as our dismay of thinking of the unfathomable heartache of his family in having to deal with yet another untimely death in their family - I repeated the refrain, "Why does God let evil and suffering to happen?" Eerily, Chanse's brother, Kelsi Kaahui, had perished in a horrific hunting accident in Hana at the same age of 19.
Both Chanse and Kelsi had endeared themselves and their family to the West Side community as typical "kolohe kids," with that special Lahaina boy character trait that left you with a smile on your face and happiness in your heart after you met up with them.
They were the typical island-style youngsters with the simple, good time passions to enjoy the beach, the ocean and the charisma of their community. They were also members of championship football and wrestling teams at Lahainaluna - classmates and teammates to our sons, and guardians and heartthrobs to our daughters.
Chanse had dedicated his wrestling career to Kelsi and his family - mom Mel, stepfather Uncle Buff, and sisters Piilani, Jaiana and Cheylah - and carried this spirit through to a state championship in his junior year. Only an injury prevented a repeat as a senior; and, when he wanted to be, he was an outstanding linebacker for the highly regarded Luna championship football teams.
But wrestling was his pathway, and a tattoo of his fallen brother on his side signified the glory and joy that lifted his family spirit to glorious heights on the gold medal podium at the Blaisdell Arena.
Now we are left with our cherished memories of Chanse, and we turn our aloha for him to his family and the unimaginable pain and loss they are enduring.
Two days after his passing, the priest at Sunday's mass at Sacred Hearts Mission Church asked us to rededicate ourselves to our prayers. To Chanse, Kelsi, Mel, Uncle Buff, Piilani, Jaiana and Cheylah, and to the nieces and nephews, we send our most sincere prayers to you for peace and God's blessings for the coming days, weeks, months and years.
Perhaps as we hit our knees at bedtime or around the dinner table, we will be able to find solace in our prayers for Chanse and his heartwarming spirit. As always in these sad, sad situations, it will take some time.
Rumor has it that a T-shirt or bumper sticker is in the works that will read, "Get Chanse?" As he would have put it, "Tomorrow is never promised."
A memorial service for Chanse will be held this Saturday, Aug. 10, at Waiola Church on Wainee Street (between Shaw and Prison streets) beginning at 8 a.m.