Saturday, May 21, 2011

Trip #7- Gratefulness

The only word that comes to mind when reflecting on the last two days of Trip #7 is Gratefulness.  We are grateful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for bringing such people together who united this week in the Spirit with such speed and ease.  We are grateful for the opportunity to accomplish two simultaneous outreach projects in one day in different, vital areas.  We are most especially grateful for the harvest that became clear during these outreaches.  Finally, we are grateful for the promises He has given for future ministry.

There are way too many blessings to fully recount here, but some highlights are:

THURSDAY- New horizons, strong connections, Kingdom business

We split our team of 20 into two groups to conduct two BBQs at the same time in Ishinomaki- the larger team reached the multi-story low income apartment complex area, the smaller team repeated last week's outreach event at the evacuation center where we have a strong relationship.
The apartment complex park area, once a site where dead bodies floated in tsunami waters, now sacred ground claimed in the name of Jesus.

The apartment complex team prays before setup begins.
At the same time, the second team reached the evacuation center, at which a BBQ had been conducted the previous week, and we were invited back to bless them again.
The evac center BBQ team begins their prep with prayer, as well.
Back at the apartment complex, setup begins which also affords time to reach out to interested people.  Ron from CC Pocatello uses a wonderful resource given to the team by Pastor Jack Bell of CC Kamakura which has key Christian words and sentences in easy to pronounce romaji Japanese.

A real first was the level of assistance the apartment complex team received from men and women residents.  Here, some of the local ladies fold and sort blankets to give away to their waiting neighbors.  Love in action spreading out between those most affected; that is how new fellowships get started!
Cooking commences at the apartment complex.  100 kilograms of beef and vegetables were prepared and served to eager recipients.
While waiting, the  crowds heard praises to Jesus through continuous worship, as well as direct gospel presentations in between worship sets.
Back at the evac center, the smaller team prepared 30 kilograms of chicken and beef.
Evac center residents waited patiently in line to receive their food, and many conversations cemented our relationship with this project's leaders and residents, and several Bible were distributed.

The above give some of the bigger picture, but here are a few specific stories:
Kelli from CC Pocatello has fellowship with Aoki-san, who prayed to receive Jesus Christ during this outreach, praise the Lord!  This harvest only came through the fertilizing prayers of everyone participating in this ministry, those in Japan and those in the States, so thank you! 

Ben from CC Pocatello and Takahashi-san, who is the same man who told Chizuo-san a few weeks ago he wanted to know more about Christianity.  Apparently he had heard enough, because he also accepted Christ this day!
At the evac center, Tanya from CC Pocatello and Sarah and Haru from CC Rancho Santa Margarita with Kao-san, who spent well over an hour sharing her story with Tanya, accepted a Bible, and showed how she is truly seeking the Lord.  We pray for her quick surrender to Jesus into live eternal.

As the two teams reunited back at the apartment complex area, the blessings did not go down with the sun but instead kept going strong into the night.
Our Lord is so in love with details!  No one thought about what would happen to the apartment complex outreach once darkness came, except for the Lord!  We centered our grills and worship underneath the only working streetlight on the entire block, and we were able to serve people until they were all gone, and with a little food left over, thank you God!

Last picture of the night, the whole team at the apartment complex site.  There is Aoki-san in front wearing a mask.  He  refused to leave us alone all night until we literally drove away from the site.  Though he said his wife was waiting for him at home, he said he felt duty-bound to stand with us Christians who came to his home until we had left.  How sweet and attractive is the love and unity of the brethren, which Aoki-san is beginning to understand, praise the Lord!

FRIDAY- a ministry of internal tasks

As we prepared to return to Tokyo, Friday morning was spent wrapping things up properly, always a vital part to any short term missions trip.  But what a blessing it was a blessing cement newfound friendships made this week as we labored together one more morning within our body of brothers and sisters.  With our host site cleaned, our relief supplies inventories, and cooking grills cleaned and stored, we returned to Tokyo to bid bittersweet farewells to each other with a spirit which touched everyone's hearts for eternity with...gratefulness.

God bless you all.  In closing this trip's chronicles, it must be stressed again how it is absolutely certain nothing could have been accomplished without your prayers of support.  Thank you so much for your faithfulness to this ministry.  In addition to these photos, there are a couple new videos on the youtube channel if you care to check them out, in the group at the top of the right hand column of the blog page.  

Until the next time, praise the Lord!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trip #7- Casting wide, casting deep    広く深く投げる

Wednesday was a full day where the group split into teams to meet divine appointments, mostly to perform cleaning projects for citizens of Ishinomaki who we had met before and also for new friends.  Along the way, many teams met Japanese relief workers from various agencies and there were awesome opportunities for fellowship and sharing the Gospel.  Below are a lot of photos gathered by many team members.  There were so many stories, so many blessings, it is hard to capture them all in this post, so please enjoy what is here and know that for every scene on this post there were 100 more testimonies of blessings as the group labored physically apart but completely united in the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Jesus!

水曜日は充実した一日となりました。グループは神様による特別な約束、おもに以前から知っている石巻市民の方々と新しく知り合った方々のための清掃作業プロジェクトに対応するためにいくつかのチームに別れました。途中、多くのチームは様々な機関からの日本人作業員たちに出会い、交わりと福音を分かち合うすばらしい機会を持ちました。下の写真は多くのチームメンバーから集められたものです。たくさんの物語、たくさんの祝福があります。 今回の投稿でそれらのすべてを知ることは難しいと思いますが、ここにある写真をどうか楽しんでくださり、この投稿のすべてのシーンには100を超える祝福の証しがあることを知ってください。このグループは場所的には離れていても、聖霊において全くひとつとなって労したのです。ありがとうイエス様!

At the storage units, praying for the Lord to cast His net wide and deep today. 
Jon and Charity share with young relief workers working on the same site. 

The neighborhood of one of the cleaning projects.
Jon shares with the Japanese relief workers...they were so receptive and friendly. 
There were many opportunities for one-to-one ministry in the midst of cleaning. 
There was also lots of cleaning work to be done.  Ron and Mike hard at it. 
Haru digging deep! 
Now that's teamwork! 
Steve and Haru share the Gospel with a new friend. 
Ron and a new friend. 
Inside one of the house projects, before the cleaning began.
Tanya and Kelli taking a moment to chill.
Jack and Tanya outside the home cleaning site.
Kelli  and Tanya share with and encourages one of the Japanese relief workers also on site.
Another work site, the before picture, with the task being to clear out the gutter lane along the wall.
Same project, the after shot.  The team gave the family more than they asked for!
Herb, Ryan, John, Joe, Chris, and Ben, the team the Lord used to make the above pictures possible.
Overall, CTR (Calvary Tohoku Relief)  has not yet seen a day with so many simultaneous ministries happening, it was awesome!  Also awesome to witness has been the speed with which the Lord has united these 20 people from so many churches in the love of the body of Christ, thank you God!  And the Lord has given the group an even bolder plan for Thursday- two BBQ outreaches in two areas at the same time!  But we are confident in our Lord Jesus to provide the Holy Spirit to guide our every step as we discover the plan He has already established before us.  We desire your prayers as we enter into this new level of ministry the rest of the week.  God bless you, we'll have another praise report soon!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trip #7- The First Stateside Teams アメリカからの最初のチーム

Hello again! We are so blessed to introduce you to the first teams coming from the United States to join Calvary Tohoku Relief! We have had individuals come alongside us in the past, but this week marks a real turning point in the ministry as we begin to receive entire teams from the States to labor with us. What a blessing and an encouragement it is to us in Japan to have these brothers and sisters in Christ take this time and effort to come and energize us with their zeal and love to share Jesus with the people of the Tohoku region!

Our biggest team yet, and almost all from the States! Calvary Chapels represented here include Kokubunji, La Habra, Rancho Santa Margarita, Pocatello, Costa Mesa, West Grove, San Juan Capistrano. Not picture here on the team is Jack Bell from CC Kamakura.  
This is just a quick post to let you know we have arrived in Sendai safely, ready for a week of fellowship and service. We arrived in Sendai early enough to visit the tsunami devastation area next to our hosting church here. It was a good introduction for our new friends to see an example of the environment they will be laboring in. Yet it was also an excellent opportunity to view and contemplate the amazing speed of recovery that the Japanese people are achieving in so many areas here.  

Perhaps you may remember this photo from Trip #1, here where Chizuo-san is being shown the one-week old wreckage of a house from the owner in the Sendai coastal neighborhood of Arahama.  
Here is that same house foundation, taken this evening. There are many homes in this neighborhood which have been cleaned up like this.  
The speed at which recovery and rebuilding is occurring in so many areas is such a strong reminder to us that this ministry must remain a spiritually focused one, because it is the spiritual need that will not change and has eternal consequences. So please join us in prayer this week as we labor in physical ways but also more importantly in spiritual ways. Thanks, God bless, talk to you again soon!  

Trip #6: A Teen's Perspective

One of the thoughts that kept floating through my head before my first trip to Ishinomaki was, “What if I see all the がれきの山 (rubble piles), broken houses and ghost-town-like places and start feeling depressed?” I didn’t want to have a sad, empty feeling when I came back from the relief trip. I also didn’t know what I would say if I were depressed upon return and asked to share about the trip. I mean, I knew I would not know what to say. I really had to pray, to pray against spiritual warfare. To pray that God would give me the right heart. To pray that God would show me if He wanted me to go on this trip more than He wanted me to go to school.

The night before we headed to Ishinomaki, I had finished my schoolwork and was packed and ready-to-go. This would be an awesome trip!

I didn’t realize how long it would take us to get there. We spent the first day in the car driving up to Sendai. Finally we arrived with enough time to unload the truck and get to bed.

The next morning I woke up thinking, “Today is the big day. Today is when I will see with my own eyes the rubble piles, the evacuated people, the ghost towns and everything, for the first time.” To tell you the truth, I was scared. When I saw the first sign that read “Ishinomaki City” I looked around and nothing seemed wrong or broken or out of place. The stores were open for business, cars driving through, and I thought, “This is Ishinomaki City??” The only things I could find different in the area were slightly flooded streets and small piles of rubble, here and there.

I didn’t get it. I was in the affected country, which was Japan, I was in the affected prefecture, which was Miyagi, I was in the affected city, which was Ishinomaki, but where were the cars the tsunami littered throughout the streets? Where were the meter high rubble piles? Where were the ghost towns? Is this really Ishinomaki?

We continued on driving over a bridge and through a small tunnel. The scenery changed completely in one turn of the head.

A tsunami HAD come through here. I'm not sure why but for some reason, I could not open my eyes as I normally do to look around me. It was like I had to squint in order to take in what was passing before my eyes. I saw a house that had its walls ripped away, everything but torn curtains gone, and an upstairs that was, surprisingly, in livable condition. You could see right through the whole first floor, and there was nothing. “THIS is Ishinomaki City?!” I was in shock for the remainder of our drive. Once we reached our destination, we walked around looking for people we had met in the past and ask them how we would be able to assist them.

We got to work helping a couple that owned what looked like a liquor store. While we washed the dirt off glass Sake bottles, we were able to work along side the owners and talk with them about many things. Two hours later, we finished. The couple handed us a bag filled with 3 bottles of Sake in appreciation, but we declined and told them that we were happy enough with being able to help them out. They said they understood and asked us to please accept at least a can of soda. Before we left, the man told us he was an alcoholic. We told him we will be praying for him. He had told us about his life and we shared the various things some of us had in common. We were able to give him a LED flashlight and share with him the scripture attached to it. This was the "planting the seed" step. I was glad my grandparents were there to talk and work with us because the owners of the store were about the same age. They were able to talk together more than I think would’ve been able to.
私たちは前に会っていた人たちを探し、また、支援が必要な場所を探しました。それから酒屋のような店で、ある夫婦の手伝いをさせて頂きました。みんなでオーナーさんと色々な会話しながらそのお店の酒瓶が津波でドロドロだったので洗い流す作業をしました。そして2時間の作業が終わり、オーナー さんが私たちにお礼で酒の瓶を3つ渡してくれましたが、私たちは本当に手伝えた事だけで良かったのでと言い、断りました。オーナーさんはとても親切でソーダでももらって下さいと言われました。帰る前にオーナーさんは私たちに彼はアルコール依存症だと言いました。私たちは彼のために祈り続けています。
彼は自分の人生について話してくれて、いっしょに話をする事が出来ました。そして私たちは彼に御言葉つき LED 懐中電灯を差し上げる事が出来て、御言葉を説明する事が出来ました。

Our second event of the day took place at an evacuation center (formerly an elementary school) which is home to about 400 people. We had planned a BBQ and jazz concert.
その日の2番目のイベントは今は400人くらいの人が住んでいる避難所となっている小学校で行われました。 BBQ とジャズコンサートをするチャンスが与えられました。

A long line of people stood in the cold waiting for the meat. Kiko Wilson and I were taking orders so we had the chance to talk to those in line. We heard about their lives in the evacuation center and the struggles they faced. We talked to the kids as we were serving them. They were amazed to see foreigners and I don’t know if they had ever before seen Americans. We were able to go inside the gym where they are staying and listen to the concert with them and talk with the people.

My grandmother and I were able to talk with a lady who looked like she was in her 60's. Her name was Keiko. She told us she was staying in the evacuation center with her husband. She was on the second floor of her house when the tsunami hit. She watched from her window and witnessed her office building and two coworkers washed away.
私の祖母と60代くらいの女性と話始めました。彼女にの名前はけいこさんでした。けいこさんはご主人と避難所で暮らしています。自分の家の2階に居た時に津波がきたと言っていました。彼女は窓から自分のオフィスビルと二人の OL さんが流されるの目撃したそうです。

After she found out that the man speaking in the mic (at that time, Pastor Chizuo) was a pastor, she asked us, “When the pastor sees all that has happened, this huge disaster, how can he still believe that there is a God? A lot of people here now say, 'There is no God!' 'God doesn’t exist!' How can you still have faith?” In my heart, I knew how she felt. Seeing something like this really can change your thinking. My grandmother gently replied, “This world isn’t perfect. We’re not perfect either. Only God is perfect and He is preparing a better place than this world for people who believe in Him to go. I have never been through a situation like this so I cannot even imagine what you are feeling right now but God knows what you are feeling and He cares for you and loves you.” I pulled out the scripture LED flashlight I had in my pocket at that time and explained the scripture.
その時マイクを持ちながらみんなの前で話していた人 (Pastor Chizuo) が牧師であるとけいこさんが知った後、「牧師さんが周りで起こっている事、この大震災が残した被害を見て、それでも神はいると信じ続ける事は出来るの?多くの人は ’ もう神はいない! ’’ 神なんて存在しない! ’  と言っている。まだ神様を信じてられるの?」と私たちに質問してきました。私は少しどういう気持ちなのかわかりました。このような事を経験すると本当に考え方は変わってしまいます。私の祖母は優しく「この世は完全でない。人間も完全ではない。神様だけが完全な方で、彼に信仰を持つ人のためにこの世よりも良い場所を準備して下さっています。私は今けいこさんが通ってる道は通った事ないからあなたの気持ちを完全に分かる事は出来ませんが、主はあなたの想いを分かっていてあなたの事を愛してますよ。」と教えました。そのとき私はポケットに入っていた御言葉つき LED 懐中電灯を取り出し説明しました。

The concert was ending and we were going to serve more people who hadn’t eaten yet. I went out to help serve. The kids were already lining up and I was able to meet Hinako, a 12 year-old girl who was staying in the shelter with her mother, father, and brother. They also had their cousins and family in the same living section with them. She said she lost her puppy in the tsunami and showed me his picture. She said they found the little shiba-inu’s body and were able to bury him so it was okay. Once again, we pulled out the scripture flashlights and handed them to her and her mom. I felt like I wasn't able to share much about my faith, but I was able to build-up relationships that I hope will continue. I can't wait to go back and see Hinako and her family again.
コンサートは終わりそうで、まだお肉を食べていない方はバーベキューしに体育館から出ました。子どもたちはもう何人か並んでいて、私はひなこちゃんという名の、両親とその兄で避難所で暮らしている、12歳の女の子に出会いました。ひなこちゃんたちはいとこたちと同じ生活スペースで暮らしていました。ひなこちゃんは津波で流されてしまった愛犬の写真を見せてくれました。そのとても可愛い柴犬は家から数メートルの所に死体となって発見されたので、ちゃんとお墓つくって埋めたから大丈夫だって言ってました。もう一度私たちは御言葉つき LED 懐中電灯を取り出し、ひなこちゃんとひなこちゃんのおかあさんににプレゼントしました。私はその時自分の信仰などについてはあまり話す事は出来な

When I think back to the time I spent talking to Keiko-san, I feel like I was really limiting myself. My limit was giving her the flashlight. I realized that I had set myself in a box from the beginning. Before I started talking to her, before I had walked into that gym, I was thinking, “I just have to give someone this flashlight and explain that it has a scripture from the Bible on it.”
私はけいこさんと話していた時の自分を振り返ると自分自身を制限してたと感じます。自分の制限は懐中電灯を渡す事だった。私は最初から自分の役目を決めてしまっていて、それ以外のことは考えていませんでした。 けいこさんと話始める前、そして体育館に入る前から「この懐中電灯をだれかに渡し、聖書からの御言葉がついているって説明すれば良い」と私は思ってしまっていた。

I wish I had not limited myself and instead had just been open to let God use me how He saw fit. I know that I was not open to what the LORD may have wanted me to say to this woman. When I think about that, I feel ashamed. God has given me language abilities and I should have used them to really reach out to this woman. However, I know that the LORD had me on this trip for a reason and it was to increase my faith. I know what I need to do next time. I need to rely 100% on God and not limit myself to what He is trying to do through me. I really thank God for answering my prayers against spiritual warfare and for showing us who He wanted us to speak to. I am also thankful that I am returning home with a grateful heart instead of feelings of depression. God knows all things and He is in control. God really put Romans 8:28 on my heart. “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people He called, because that was His plan.” God really uses and continues to use me for the good. Thank you Jesus!

~Cali Boek
Horizon Chapel

Bearing Witness - The Pastors Visit 証しをする-牧師たちの訪問

The last trip in April was a little different than previous trips to the Ishinomaki area. This time around, pastors from the States joined Pastor Rick Barnett from CC Okinawa and Pastor Chizuo Sakurai from CC Kokubunji for a couple days of bearing witness to the work taking place.

From left to right: Pastor Jim Stewart (CC Kansas City), Pastor Bob Grenier (CC Visalia), Pastor John Snoderly (CC Antioch), Pastor Ron Hindt (CC Houston), Pastor Lance Cook (CC La Habra), Pastor Roger Wing (CC Costa Mesa), Pastor Rick Barnett (CC Okinawa) and Pastor Chizuo Sakurai (CC Kokubunji)