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!

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