Having lived here in Ishinomaki almost a year, I sometimes find myself forgetting the most obvious things. For example, if you can believe this, I sometimes have to actually remind myself that a massive, horrific tsunami swept through this city. As the city is rebuilt, it’s looking better and better all the time. As the physical reminders of the tsunami are rapidly disappearing, I have to actually remind myself what happened here. However, the other night I was walking home from a friend’s house and I stopped dead in my tracks. I suddenly felt overwhelmed thinking that most likely people died in the exact spot where I was standing…only God knows.

Recently my team member, Katherine, hosted a ladies luncheon for her Onagawa ladies patchwork class and I had another surreal moment. I was surrounded by women who survived the tsunami. I felt overwhelmed as I considered how much they have endured, how much they need hope. I found myself struggling to see beyond the smiling faces and sweet chatter. It sure wasn’t easy starting a conversation with these ladies, but somehow I found out that the late husband of one of the women was a whaler. So, we talked for a long time about whaling, a topic I knew next to nothing about.

Patchwork class member

So, as you look at the second photo of the Onagawa ladies smiling at the camera, bear in mind that they have lost all their earthly possessions. Their homes were swept away and they now live in temporary housing. The smiling lady on the left told us she lost over 80 relatives and friends in the tsunami. She also shared she had a lot of doubts about Buddhism and had questions about Christianity. In response, a Japanese Christian was able to share with some encouraging words and point her to the Lord. How much they need hope and love and listening ears.

Regarding Onagawa, I am getting more and more excited for our team as we move towards this town. Of course, it is sad as well to let go of various ministries in Ishinomaki but we believe this is where God would have us serve. There is so much work to be done there and we are thankful for so many opens doors that God has granted us. We are hoping to purchase a trailer this summer to use as a community center in Onagawa.

This building in Onagawa is one of the town’s visual reminders of the horror of that fateful day. This massive building with was ripped from the foundations and carried over the parking lot where it still lies today. This was only the second time in Japanese history that a steel-free building had been toppled over by a tsunami (first time was in the 1940’s).

A lovely shot of two former Onagawa residents meeting for the first time since the tsunami. I think my husband caught the exact moments in which they recognized each other.

Our friend, Mr. K., describing where his house used to be located