Next Generation Team#3: Ishinomaki cleaning!
July 22 – 24, 2011 with a team of 23 with three vans
Four months after the tsunami, Ishinomaki has cleared areas from debris from homes, cars, and businesses into several man-made piled mountains that can be seen from the side of the roads. We stopped the vans in front of a flattened residential area with a huge sign saying “Gambatte Ishinomaki” only a vast landscape of loss as far as your eyes can see with a few skeleton framed homes left. Our van members prayed in the van for the area, tears came to our eyes, as Christians we can mourn with those but also have an incredible hope in Christ.
Saturday, Mrs.D. split the team in two to do clean up work. One team cleaned at the TBC building area and the other went to Sato-san’s home. I was on the team cleaning Mrs. Sato’s property. The large land of property now it being summer is covered in smelly black/brownish dried sea water-soil with a layer of wild weeds growing on top, where in spring with the rainy season it was more like black sludge. So, our job was to clear the property of weeds and top soil. It was weird (no better word I can find) to pull up the weed’s roots from the hard caked mud finding a layer of buried belongings underneath (a rug, a photo album, a child’s school cap, dishes, building pieces). Sadly none of the items found on Mrs. Sato’s property belongs to her, it’s all just a reminder of what happened on March 11th. In a way I believe that having that cleared off her property brings a bit of healing. Even the neighbor came out to thank us for weeding the edge of their property. Personally, I was very impressed with the youth group working almost non-stop, digging and lifting with such great attitudes. After we finished praying as a team with Mrs. Sato there too, she sent us off waving and bowing in thanks. I felt I was“harvesting gratitude” that former TBC volunteers planted through the “seeds of service” from previous visits.
On Sunday we all gathered at the TBC Ishinomaki building for a devotional service. We then drove out to hold an outdoor BBQ with music (mini festival) on a small neighborhood’s damaged temple ground. Here I felt God was sending His people to play Christian music, cook, give out Bibles and serve these people on a place where He wants to shine over false religion. We cooked about 200 hamburgers & hot dogs and gave out 75 Bibles in the small neighborhood. At the festival there were some local women selling clothes for a 100 yen under a tent and a business man giving out bags of Japanese sweets. One man mentioned to me how encouraging it was to have the youth group serve because they were so “akarui”. It was wonderful to see these women and men so relaxed with smiles on their faces during the mini festival. I think people in the neighborhood desired to enjoy a day of normalcy on a warm summer’s day. When it was time for the team to leave we gathered in a big circle at the place and prayed for Ishinomaki, I found it interesting that a local man was taking photos of us…