Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trip #3- Return to Higashi-Matsushima and Ishinomaki  東松島町と石巻に戻る

Our last full day on this trip was spent deepening relationships already made and beginning new ones with divine appointments. The team split into two groups for most of the day.

One group had all the youth in it, including 17-year old Kei and 14-year old Touru from a local Sendai church, as well as the youth that came with the team from Tokyo, 14-year old Toki and 17-year old Hajime from CC Kokubunji and 12-year old Jacob from CC Iwakuni.  This team was led to return to Ishinomaki to offer their strength and service in helping people clean up their homes.  Their prayers were answered and new personal connections were made and a previous one strengthened.

 Chihiro-san talks to a lady whose house's entrance is blocked by this truck that was swept up against it.  The team is prayerfully considering the time to return to her house to help her remove items from the inside to start the recovery process.

 Kei moves one of the soaked tatami mats from a home where a grandma and her granddaughters were cleaning up inside.
Also in the grandma's home was a refrigerator that needed moving- just the job for this team!  The family is staying in one of the evacuation centers but returns to their home to continue the slow recovery process.
There were four of these plastic containers inside the house, which once held sweaters and towels only but which now also held very heavy tsunami water.  A team effort helped drain the tubs so the grandma could get them outside to begin drying the clothes.
One neighbor helped in the name of Jesus Christ, and the youthful team received a strong lesson about love in action.
Chihiro-san talks with a gentleman who was featured in a blog entry from last week's trip, who lives by himself and was a businessman who had a strong hobby of raising bonsai trees.  It was he who led the team to the grandma's house, and after that the team moved some tatami mats for him, also.  Throughout this time, a very important part of this relationship ministry was talking to the people and even more important, listening to them.  We are praying this will not be the last time we visit with him and help him and his neighbors.

 The team departed that area so thankful for the opportunity given by the Lord to serve those in need.  The next plan was to join the other team at the evacuation center we had visited the previous day, where a special event was about to kick off.  But before they could do that, the Lord used a horrible traffic jam along the road to the center to help steer the team into a neighborhood not yet visited, where God showed us a place where we could reach out to new people with the relief items we had packed along with us.
The neighborhood residents were so very grateful for the surprise blessing the team brought right to their doors.
The neighborhood residents were so very grateful for the surprise blessing the team brought right to their doors.
The boys on the team learned a valuable lesson in how to encourage their Japanese brethren to let their guard down and receive the items we had to offer.  Persistence in love is a key to reaching the Japanese people, to show them we truly care about them.  To the right and back in the photo are two gentlemen from the municipal office who were conducting a neighborhood inspection.  They were also genuinely surprised by the items we had to offer, and they agreed to take some of our items to other areas they knew needed them.  Praise the Lord that He uses us and men like these alike to spread His love to a hurting and dying world.

 After that divine appointment, the teams reunited at the Higashi-matsushima evacuation center we had visited the previous day.  The other team had been there earlier, working with another Calvary team who had planned a BBQ for that evening.  It took no time at all to integrate the teams seamlessly and serve the evacuees with grilled food, clothes, shoes, worship by Pastor Travis (see video channel), and the Gospel message.
This is the inside of the evacuation center, where about 100 people live, including many children. 
Jacob gets into the act by grilling and serving grateful residents. The Japanese Self-Defense Force is also at the center to feed the people hot meals that can get a little repetitious, so the unique outreach caused great joy for everyone.

 In closing, there were three blessed elements that stood out from all the other many blessings on this trip for the ministry. One was the deliberate inclusion of a youth group for the first time- Toki and Hajime from CC Kokubunji, Jacob from CC Iwakuni, and Kei and Touru from a local Sendai church. They were interviewed about their experiences and the videos are posted under the third trip youtube channel. The second blessing was the unity of Calvary Chapels this week. Two separate teams with representatives from seven CCs met and served with a single heart. Those CCs were from Kokubunji, Fuchu, Okinawa City, Naha, Iwakuni, Tokorozawa, and Honolulu. The third blessing was the new level of partnership with local churches. Our Lord is so wonderful to knit together in love the body of Christ, and we are seeing real movement in various churches toward getting involved with direct relief efforts. Please join us in prayer for these elements of the ministry to continue and expand as the Lord wills.

 Again, there are plenty of videos to view from this third trip, so check them out when you can. Trip #4 is in the works and plans to depart Tokyo for Sendai Monday, April 11, so please lift that team up in prayer and we will be sure to post our adventures as soon as possible. God bless you!

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