Ah, it’s great to be back in Japan…especially when it’s Tohoku. This time around during my ever-so-long trip from NJ to Ishinomaki, I was struck by the extreme helpfulness and sweetness of Japanese people. At the airport and train stations, in the shops, and on the highway bus, everyone was so incredibly helpful and kind to me. The US seems harsh in comparison, especially in big cities, and I was amazed by how many people eagerly offered to assist me when I got a little confused or had a question.
Tonight after visiting a friend from Peru who survived the tsunami, the sun was setting over the ocean creating a shimmering sea – breathtaking! At the same time, I had to recognize this was the same sea that devoured this city almost two years ago. I took a little detour home and drove through a part of the city that still looks awful. Almost three years later, rusted cars are still piled high amid the few dilapidated buildings and homes that managed to stay standing…the burned-out school stood off in the distance.
(Images from the internet)
The other day, while purchasing kerosene, we got into a nice conversation with a worker at the Shell station. He had lost his home in the tsunami but his relatives were unharmed. As we talked, I was in awe of his big smile, his cheerful disposition, and his devotion to his work. I tried to imagine an American, who’d lost everything in a natural disaster and was working at a gas station, being so chipper and upbeat and hardworking despite everything. At any rate, I hope we run into him again very soon.
The night after I arrived back here a monthly praise and prayer event was held for all the Christian workers in Ishinomaki. This is always a special time and we were blessed with a group of Japanese musicians who really played their hearts out. We prayed and sang together and it was awesome to see God uniting our hearts in worship (see photos below).
I’m looking forward to getting back into ministry here, little by little. I smile as I think about how God is using the missionaries here in such marvelous, beautiful ways. Truly, it is a privilege to not only claim to be the salt and light of the world, but to get to see it lived out with your own eyes day after day, week after week. The people see it, too, and I know they are being blessed through the work of Christians in this city.
Andy doing a little dance with a neighbor at the weekly community event
Katherine looking at photos of her new grandson with the neighbors
Ministry at local nursing home
Prayer and praise night in Watanoha last Sunday
Praying and sharing in small groups
With our special friend, K-san, who runs a fabulous cafe! We gave her a present of organic flax seed and a wall hanging with various Bible verses.
Snow in front of the Be One House (Yes, it’s really cold here!)