Today was one of those days when being in Japan just feels right. While I definitely have lots of ups and downs here, today I just felt so blessed and happy and thankful to be here. I actually thought to myself that I never want to leave Ishinomaki and could imagine being here for a very, very long time. I am so thankful for the many new friends God has given us and the many opportunities to share His truth with hurting people. Truly, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be!

This evening I once again found myself seated in front of someone who shared, through her tears, the loss of two close friends in the tsunami. I have to admit, it’s not as though we hear these horrible, gut-wrenching stories every day. Nowadays it’s a few times a month but for other missionaries it’s much more frequently. As I listened to my friend share, my eyes filled with tears and I felt so helpless. Yet, I am not helpless because I can intercede before God’s throne for her. In that moment I felt such thankfulness to God for the privilege of being with her and praying for her.

She shared, “Two of my friends died trying to rescue their grandparents. I was a wreck after their deaths, really depressed and unable to go to school. To be honest, I feel like it’s somehow easier to share my pain and sadness with foreigners. I feel like other Japanese don’t really want to hear or they just tell me to ‘hang in there’ or ‘be strong’ or ‘move on.’ I feel like in other parts of Japan, like Tokyo, they’ve already moved on from the 3/11 disaster. We in Ishinomaki haven’t gotten there yet. I myself am still in a lot of pain and wrestle with depression and panic attacks…maybe once I get over all of this I’ll be a stronger person. I am so deeply thankful to all the volunteers who left their homes to help my city rebuild.”

We’ve gotten to hear firsthand dozens of stories that are unbelievable, many very sad and other that leave us speechless. We’ve met folks who survived the tsunami by clinging to trees or fleeing to the roofs of gambling parlors and supermarkets. I heard of a man who had to choose between his wife and child; in the end his wife told him to save their child and she was swept away. We heard of another man who asked his daughter for a ride to work which wound up putting her right in the path of the tsunami – she perished and the man’s wife still won’t forgive him. We personally know women who’ve lost mothers, sisters, grandparents, and children in the tsunami. Many still suffer from depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and a host of other psychological and emotional difficulties.

Please continue to pray for Tohoku, especially for more Japanese workers and God’s deep healing for those who are still in great pain.

Our friend Monika sharing with a young lady who lost her mother in the tsunami