Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trip 5: "Ask and You Shall Receive!" 求めなさいそうすれば与えられます!

For the past month, Calvary Tohoku Relief has sent groups weekly to the Tohoku area to reach out to those affected by the March 11 disasters. Praise the LORD, a church located in Sendai opened its doors to us and has allowed us to stay in and use an onsite home as our base camp. We have been SO blessed by this church and its hospitality. Since the church is located in Sendai, the groups must travel roughly 90 minutes north to the city of Ishinomaki where much of our work has taken place. So, many of us have been praying that the LORD would open up a place in Ishinomaki where we could set up another base camp in the future. This week, the LORD answered our prayers!!! We will continue to use the local church in Sendai while we prepare the future location. Here's what happened...

The day started out much like other days - devotions, loading up the truck, and getting ready for whatever the LORD brought our way! We broke up into three groups that could easily be dispersed to different locations if multiple opportunities to help arose.

As we drove through the streets of Ishinomaki, it began to rain. We arrived at Mr. Takahashi's house and helped him and his son, Nobuharu, remove heavy furniture from their property. When we finished, Nobuharu bowed 90 degrees in deep appreciation for the work.

Due to the weather, most people stayed back at the evacuation centers. As the LORD would have it, on our way to the centers, the group found the Tsuda brothers who accepted our offer to help clean.

Pastor Chizuo left the group working on clearing out the Tsuda's garage area and continued on to the evacuation centers where he hoped to find more families to assist.
Once at the evacuation site (formerly an elementary school), Pastor Chizuo was able to meet some key people who the LORD would later use to open doors of blessing. Here is Pastor Chizuo with the unofficial "director," Makoto, of one of the area evacuation centers as well as a social welfare "leader," Mamoru, who eagerly desired to help him and Calvary Tohoku Relief in any way he could.
Meanwhile, the group finished helping the Tsuda brothers and moved on to the Tanno home. The Tanno family has a 17 year-old son named Hiroshi who showed up at the site wanting to help clean. He couldn't believe strangers wanted to help clean his house! Him and his family are currently living in one of the evacuation centers.

With the groups on a roll in helping area residents, Pastor Chizuo and Mr. Tatsushi Sasaki, a real estate agent by profession and member of Calvary Chapel Kokubunji, set out for the other side of town where they planned to meet the a realtor. In our own human thinking, we assumed that if we are looking for a rental property in an unfamiliar area, we should see an agent. However, the LORD had His own plan! The realtor offered no hope saying Ishinomaki was devastated and nothing was available. He suggested inquiring at City Hall for any municipal buildings that could possibly be of use. However, the only thing City Hall seemed to offer was red tape! Pastor Chizuo didn't feel right in his spirit and so they left.

Remembering a conversation he had with another volunteer group leader, Pastor Chizuo and Mr. Sasaki went back to the evacuation center. The volunteer leader had mentioned that his group had received some help from a local congressman. Pastor Chizuo hoped to find this contact information. In the process of seeking out the local congressman's phone number, Pastor Chizuo was introduced to another man, Mr. Utsumi.

Mr. Utsumi is a local business in Ishinomaki. He had a brand new house which was washed away by the tsunami. Now, he is living in an office space he owns that is located behind one of the evacuation centers. Turns out Mr. Utsumi owns four different properties in Ishinomaki; all of which, need to be gutted and cleaned. Pastor Chizuo said the groups would help him clean his buildings... one of which is located directly behind a house/shop that the group had helped clean just one week ago! The unofficial "director," Makoto, Pastor Chizuo had met earlier in the day told Mr. Utsumi that the group was looking for a place they could operate out of in Ishinomaki. Mr Utsumi turned to Pastor Chizuo and said, "You can live here," and pointed to the second floor of the office building.
Mr. Utsumi said the building was under renovation before the tsunami hit so it's just a skeleton and needs to be finished. However, surprisingly, the 2nd floor sustained little damage in the tsunami and the group is welcome to use it and renovate it however they like. Pastor Chizuo was shocked. Mr. Utsumi didn't stop there... he said he had another property that he would take Pastor Chizuo to look at and see if it could be of use. AMAZING! Only the LORD could open doors so easily!

Once the team finished their cleaning project at the Tanno family home, they invited Hiroshi to join them for the BBQ planned at another evacuation center. He happily agreed to join the group and asked if he could help serve as well.

The evacuees were grateful and happy for the BBQ since they hadn't had anything but bread and rice balls in over a month.

During the morning devotion, Pastor Chizuo encouraged each team member to take a flashlight with Romans 8:12 printed on an attached tag and give it to one person they each got to know during the day. At the BBQ event, Yusuke from CC Kokubunji gave Hiroshi Tanno the flashlight. Glenn from CC Okinawa shared with Hiroshi the meaning of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Kino translated for Glenn and Pastor Chizuo followed up and explained the meaning of sin and forgiveness in Jesus. Hiroshi received a Bible and said, "I'll read it every day!" At the end, he thanked the team by saying, "Thank you for everything you have done today. I've heard about Jesus Christ, and I want to believe in Him. The next time you come back, I'd like to know more about Jesus Christ." Praise the LORD!

"The last four weeks the team did not once have any rain. But this time it rained very hard. That's the only reason I ran into Mamoru, the social welfare worker, then Makoto, the "unofficial director", then Emi Tannno, the mother of Hiroshi, and then Utusmi-san, the owner of the office building. It was all because the Lord sent this rain! Man cannot know what happens next. It's very exciting to be led by the Lord Jesus!! " ~Pastor Chizuo
過去4週間、チームは一度も雨に会いませんでした。しかし、今回は激しく雨が降りました。それこそが原因で、社会福祉ワーカーの護さん、非公式リーダーのマコトさん、ヒロシくんの母親丹野恵美さん、そしてオフィスビルの所有者である内海さんに私が出会うことができたのです。それはすべて、主が雨を送ってくださったから起きたことです!人は次の瞬間に何が起こるかを知ることはできません。主イエスが導いてくださることはとてもエキサイティングなことです!! ———知主夫牧師

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