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Yesterday, our team was invited to participate in the Onagawa Festival by running our own booth. How this came about is really a remarkable testament to God’s faithfulness. To begin with, since last fall our team has been feeling called by God to move towards Onagawa, a town next to Ishinomaki. Here are a Wikipedia description of Onagawa: On March 11, 2011, “the tsunami reached 15 metres (49 ft) in height and swept 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) inland, destroying the town centre and leaving over 1,000 people missing, with over 300 confirmed dead.” We have been told that there are only 5,500 people living in Onagawa at present. Prior to the tsunami the population was around 10,000.

Two media images of Onagwa after the tsunami

There are definite plans to rebuild the town and it is very exciting to see many evident signs of life two years after the tsunami. Where do you begin to reach a city when there is hardly anything left? Pray! Our team leaders wisely felt the very first thing to do would be to cover the city in prayer by doing lots and lots of prayer walking. About twice a week, our team has been visiting various places in Onagwa, especially temporary housing units, and praying for the people. Our team leader’s wife remarked, “May the Lord use us so that the spiritual foundation would laid in Onagawa even before the physical one is built!”

About two weeks ago, after prayer walking in Onagawa, we had lunch at this nice temporary shopping center:

There are lots of shops and restaurants here and it’s exciting to see new life in Onagawa.

After leaving the restaurant, we ran into these two men and our team leaders had a lengthy conversation with them. It wasn’t the first time to meet Mr. Suzuki, the man in the blue jacket. It turns out that he is a real big-whig in Onagawa, very influential in the tourism industry. After talking with him for a long while, we were personally invited to run a booth at the Onagawa Festival! Here are some photos from yesterday’s events:

The Nozomi Project ladies selling their lovely jewelry

Beth doing Sponge Bob

Zoe (from Malaysia), Katherine, and Beth hard at work

There were hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people in attendance

Over 3,000 sanma fish (Pacific saury) were grilled yesterday

Enjoying my fish – it was awesome!

A vendor selling ceramics

This morning as I woke up, I was filled with joy that God allowed us to participate in the festival. Not only did it give us a chance to get to know many local people and chat with the many vendors selling their goods, but it was a chance to be a part of the community in which we are planning to serve long-term.

On a related note, we rejoice afresh at the spirit of cooperation which is continued to be fostered here in Ishinomaki. A monthly prayer meeting was held last Thursday for all the Christians laboring in or near Watanoha. The facilitator decided that we ought to pray for each group present by laying hands on each other in prayer. It was beautiful to lift up specific needs and to feel the Spirit working in our midst. We marvel again at the sheer numbers of believers that are concentrated in such a small area. This is exceedingly rare in Japan! We have so many Christians working here that at times it’s simply overwhelming to me. God’s love for this city is so evident and it’s amazing!

Sorry I don’t have many photos except the singing time:

Praise time in Watanoha, Ishinomaki