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I have to admit, our team (Kizuna Friends) is not one that has really focused on hosting volunteers on a regular basis. There are several groups here in Ishinomaki that have hosted myriads of volunteers from all over the world and at least two (Grace Mission Tohoku and Be One) continue to accept volunteers even now. Anyway, we just hosted our first team since we arrived in Ishinomaki and it was exhausting but also a blessed time. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect, but God blessed the team abundantly and worked in very special ways throughout the week. I especially enjoyed the flower planting and coffee time at a local temporary housing unit – it was so wonderful to see their smiles and hear their roaring laughter.

The team taking a tour of a fish storage facility in Onagawa

We took the team for a drive up the coast on Tuesday and we stopped in Onagawa, Minami-sanriku, and Kesennuma. I was so thankful for the chance to see how the cleanup is progressing (or not in some cases). There are still so many enormous piles of trash – some places looked so terrible you would have thought the tsunami hit not that long ago. The hardest thing for the team to see was Okawa Elementary School, where 75 small children lost their lives crossing a nearby bridge as they tried to escape. I will post photos of our drive during the next few days. Here are a few photos from this week:

Flower planting at a temporary housing unit

A volunteer with an elderly participant
Volunteers and the pansies/ planters

This is only half of the entire group!

Bingo time after flower planting

There are so many elderly folks living in temporary housing units. I was walking around to invite people to coffee time and saw this sweet 85-year old couple hanging out the window listening to all the laughter and fun. They thanked us for bringing smiles to their neighbors.

Yesterday, on the team’s last day in Japan, a 19-year young lady decided she wanted to be baptized in the ocean! We invited a few Japanese friends to witness this event, and a few missionaries from Be One also joined in as well.

Her pastor reading a Bible passage

Singing songs before the baptism

Praying for her
After the baptism!